Two Brands of Nihilism

As philosopher and poet Nietzsche’s work is not easily conformable to the traditional schools of thought within philosophy. However, an unmistakable concern with the role of religion and values penetrates much of his work. Contrary to the tradition before him, Nietzsche launches vicious diatribes against Christianity and the dualistic philosophies he finds essentially life denying. Despite his early tutelage under the influence of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, Nietzsche later philosophy indicates a refusal to cast existence as embroiled in pessimism but, instead, as that which should be affirmed, even in he face of bad fortune.

This essay will study in further detail Nietzsche view of Schopenhauer and Christianity as essentially nihilistic. Nihilism Throughout his work Nietzsche makes extensive use of the term nihilism. In texts from the tradition prior to Nietzsche, the term connotes a necessary connection between atheism and the subsequent disbelief in values. It was held the atheist regarded the moral norms of society as merely conventional, without any justification by rational argument.

Furthermore, without a divine authority prohibiting any immoral conduct, all appeals to morality by authority become ollow. By the atheists reckoning then, all acts are permissible. With Nietzsche’s appearance on the scene, however, arrives the most potent arguments denying the necessary link between atheism and nihilism. It will be demonstrated that Nietzsche, in fact, will argue it is in the appeal to divine proscriptions that the most virulent nihilism will attain.

There is a second sense of nihilism that appears as an outgrowth of the first that Nietzsche appeals to in his critique of values. It contends that not only does an active, pious, acknowledgment of a divinity foster nihilism, but also, he disingenuous worship of a deity that has been replaced in the life man by science, too, breeds a passive nihilism. Christianity Nietzsche conceives the first variety of nihilism, that fostered through active worship, as pernicious due to its reinforcement of a fundamental attitude that denies life.

Throughout his life Nietzsche argued the contemporary metaphysical basis for belief in a deity were merely negations of, or tried to deny, the uncertainties of what is necessarily a situated human existence. Religious doctrine is steeped in, and bounded by references to good and evil and original sin. The religious student is taught original sin, with the hopes the student will faithfully deny a human nature. Good and evil are not the approbation or prohibition against certain actions, rather, such doctrine codifies self hatred and begs the rejection of human nature.

Christianity goes beyond a denial of just the flesh and blood of the body to do away with the whole of the world. In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche suggests in several places, that the world is falsified when dictated by the tenets of dualistic philosophies, with emphasis on Christianity. How the True World Finally Became Fable, a section in Twilight of the Idols, s subtitled The History of an Error, for it supposes to give a short rendering of how the true world is lost in the histories of disfiguring philosophies that posit otherworldly dualistic metaphysics.

First, Plato’s vision of the realm of forms. The true world – attainable for the sage, the pious, the virtuous man, a feasible world, achievable through piety and wisdom. A world a man may come to know, at least possible for the contemplative and diligent student. In this early imagining the world is not entirely lost yet, it is however, removed from the concrete world. A world hardly accessible but by he few who might escape the cave. The first realization of nihilism is the denial of the sensuous world for the really real. The idea of the true world removed is then characterized as the Christian world.

The true world – unattainable for now, but promised for the sage, the pious, the virtuous man (for the sinner that repents’)… (progress of the idea: it becomes more subtle, insidious, incomprehensible – it becomes female, it becomes Christian. ) The true world is promised, but removed and the apparant world is denied for the sake of attainment of the real one. The ndermining of sensuous values attains what Nietzsche calls ascetic ideals, good, evil, God, truth and the virtues that are demanded to attain in light of these form the codes of the priests.

These metaphysical codes are designed to give the pious a transcendent idealized place to go, one that will replace the sensuous situated world of humanity. The series of nots that Christianity embraces, truth is not of the body, not of this world, not humanity, this general negation of the world reveals to Nietzsche, Christianity’s fundamental denial of life. Ultimately, the unattainable world is the truth, God’s point of iew is the view from nowhere, an unquestionable unbiased veridical apprehension of the really real.

Another sense of nihilism arises, rooted somewhat in the first, it will not be the abdication of this world for some other instead. This brand of nihilism attains when one’s words overtly call attention to God, and the values fostered in His name, but the very idea of no God has replaced the hitherto dominant theocentric paradigm, science now situates man’s place in the universe. Nietzsche is perhaps most famous for his rallying cry, God is dead.

Nietzsche will contend, in the parable of the Madman that we have taken a step away from he stultifying belief in the trasencendent realm, but are far from behaving as if we acknowledged His death. The events for which God was invented have now all been explained by a science, the holiest and mightiest… has bled to death under our knife. But the crowd listening only stares on silently looking on surprised. The madman is too early, for the wielders of the blade have not measured the full implication of His death. There remains the residue of Christian faith that is still in need of overcoming.

Our greatest reproach against existence, he writes, was the existence of God, and he believes, our reatest relief is found in the elimination of this idea. But in rejecting the Christian formulation the role and importance of existence is left an open question. The question turns now on the significance of existence. Despite the overt and honest atheism both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche profess to share, the Schopenhauer formulation of the significance of existence will appear, at least, if not more life denying to Nietzsche than the Christian.

Schopenhauer If one understood a fundamental project of Nietzsche as a will to affirm life even in the face of great tragedy, Schopenhauer stands in stark contrast. It is eyond the scope of this paper to determine where exactly Nietzsche would be siuated with respect to his cosmology, and the notion of eternal return. But to illustrate the contrast of Nietzsche with Schopenhauer a delving into will bring some of this difference into relief. Nietzsche asks how might one respond if a demon were to reveal that all of a life, every moment, would be forever repeated.

This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more, with nothing new but to repeat every pain and every joy. Would a reponse be to praise and exalt the demon for that , or is one more ikely to throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the who spoke thus? (GS, 341). For the purpose of this paper it matters not if the demon speaks truly, for the idea serves a function; could one affirm life and live as if one had to eternally repeat it? The challenge then is to live joyfully, in the sensuous world.

Could one face optimistically the ambiguities, uncertainties and chaos that is the world, in a spirit of affirmation? Nietzsche imagines no greater affirmation of life can be concieved than this test of willing. For Schopenhauer ,this is unlikely, in his the World as Will and Idea, a passage is offered that ould hardly be a more explicit denial, at the end of life, if a man is sincere and in full possession of his faculties, he will never wish to have it over again, but rather than this, he will much prefer absolute annihilation (WWI 589).

Schopenhauer’s pessimism has some roots in our inability to adequately satisfy our wants. A casual reading might have one to believe both philosophers took the will to be the same oject or process, but that where one celebrates it the other denigrates it. A more careful reading will reveal, however, that, Nietzsche though initially impressed with the Schopenhauer conception of the ill, he will later reject it. Schopenhauer concieves the will to be a primal metaphysical reality.

The mileage the two philosophers get from investigating will, the term is no coordinate in their use, nor are we surorised at the disparity of their mature philosophies. For Nietzsche, the resignation of the will is a forlorn denial of life. Similarly, the appeal to a transcendent deity also indicts the indivuals as resentful in the face of those who can affirm life. Nietzsche proposes one should affirm life even in the midst of tragedy, thus the passive nihilism that embraces the ascetic ideals are overcome.

Emerson’s “transcendentalism”

Emerson’s “transcendentalism” is essentially a romantic individualism, a philosophy of life for a new people who had overthrown their colonial governors and set about conquering a new continent by their own lights. Though Emerson is not a technical philosopher, the tendency of his thought is toward idealist metaphysics in which soul and intuition, or inspiration, are central. The new American experiment needed every idea within its reach. Taking a practical and democratic, yet poetic interest in all of nature and in individuals of every walk of life, Emerson stresses the potential for genius and reativity in all people.

It is a source of creative insight within which Emerson identifies as divine. His praise for Plato can easily be found in his work. He says that “Mind is the only reality of which men and all other natures are better or worse reflectors. ” For Emerson, “intuition” is a poetic faculty of seeing things creatively. Nothing is possible within our distinctively human world without such creative insight and interpretation. Therefore, Emerson calls for us to always be prepared to listen to this voice within instead of conforming to societal pressures.

The theme of Self-Reliance s an elaboration of this idealist theme — we are to follow our own lights. The Over-soul, “the only prophet of that which must be, is that great nature in which we rest. ” It is both “the act of seeing and the thing seen,” and it creates our world in depth by means of our insight and interpretations. Emerson’s great emphasis upon nonconformity and integrity shows that this Over-soul creates a world through individuals rather than through the commerce of groups. Where we find beauty in a flower or a forest or a poem, meaning and direction, or deep understanding, the voice of “this deity” is peaking through us and creating the world around us by such means.

This deity does not speak to groups but, in radical protestant style, to each person alone to the degree he or she attends to the message. ” The value Emerson attributes to the messages depends upon the Over-soul being “self-sufficing and perfect in every hour. In spite of his individualism, Emerson’s thought is similar to the romantic nationalism of 19th century Europe, but where this nationalism focused upon collective entities such as a people, their language and culture, or their state, Emerson’s focus is upon the individual. In Self-Reliance he says, “it is easy, in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

Where romantic nationalism stresses the development of an authentic national culture free from foreign influences and takes a collective perspective more or less for granted, Emerson applies a similar approach to each individual. He complains that all men hear the inner voice in solitude but that they lose themselves when they enter into the world of men. “Society everywhere is a onspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. ” Emerson feels man must work on his own and be diligent and truthful in that work to produce a better society.

Man must be willing to take risks instead of conforming to the rules of society in order to prosper. Man should control society instead of allowing society to control him. The two major barriers to self-reliance are conformity and relying on the past. The Trustee is man, himself, when he trusts his own intuition. This modifies the egotism of self-reliance because it makes it common to all men and it creates the view that self-reliance is not based on ntellect but on common sense. Self-reliance allows one to progress in any situation. It implies that there would be no king or higher government; all would be equal.

Self-reliance does not allow men to claim that they know God and use archaic terminology because in this way men revert to the past for authority. Emerson feels man should realize that his life is built on fate and chance and he has no power to control the outcome. Society wants to impose government, rules, and law on its people so they can be puppet-like. Emerson proposes that men live based on their own individual instincts thereby creating heir own internal law.

Emerson believes that men fail to prosper because they allow society to think for them. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblins of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. ” Emerson believes in living in the present and not in the past. Society is likened to a “joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread… to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. ” This is his explanation of how people are seduced into ignoring their own insights and onvictions, their own “culture,” in order to better profit by their intercourse with society.

Emerson warns of the seductions of society and supplies a moral counter-weight: “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. ” It is better to make your own mistakes and suffer from them than to make the mistakes dictated by another and surrender oneself to dissolution in outside forces. Creative interpretation is not to be discouraged, and each person’s genius should be developed as far as possible. This is the central meaning of American liberalism, and the critique of mere conformity is n important part of this.

Yet an empirical and scientific emphasis is needed to counter balance the stress upon creativity. For while facts and perception do not dictate our interpretations of the world, they are often capable of deciding between them. Emerson, the man and Emerson, the thinker never completely left the world of common human experience, never sought to dwell, with the Over-soul alone, among the clouds of Plato’s heaven. His writing also suggests a critical attitude toward the apparent excesses of Emerson’s individualism. For it suggests that romantic individualism arises from uncritical use of creative nsight.

The alternative involves a greater stress upon cooperation and collaboration. Though Emerson’s individualism is less extreme than Thoreau’s, involving as it does a deep-felt mission to help others help themselves, helping others does not amount to collaboration with them. Even the best aimed, most needed charity does not engage and challenge self and others as do cooperative undertakings. Emerson’s point is that we need to rely upon the creative individual, freed of the felt need to conformity, to supply interpretations of experience.

However, since interpretations and insights are not self-certifying, t follows that great importance attaches to understanding alternative interpretations or theories. Otherwise, there will be no possibility of tests between such alternatives. This requires tolerance of alternative perspectives. It requires, as well, the attempt at sympathetic understanding of alternative points of view. Communications between alternative viewpoints is crucial if we are to put ourselves in a position for deciding between alternatives in an intelligent manner.

Besides listening to the internal voice, we must also do our best to listen to voices from without. The opposite of conformity is not simple elf-assertion, or uncritical persistence in one or another prejudice, not even ones own; these are merely two sides of the same bogus coin. The alternative is conclusions based upon well-informed, intelligent communications. The facts of social and intellectual complexity in the modern world, no less than humanity’s power over nature, make it imperative to think, deploy the full powers of human intelligence.

Emerson provides a framework, or basic value orientation, for flexible relations to the world around us including the social world of joint projects and purposes. Yet this framework leaves us as isolated ndividuals where it is not supplemented by emphasis upon empirical inquiry and tests of our insights and intuitions. Our actions in the world, and even the full development of the self, depend upon cooperation with others in every crucial sphere. But considerable inquiry, however informal, is required merely to find those most suited to such joint undertakings.

For example, one does not effectively distinguish a momentary wish or feeling from a formative and enduring desire on the basis of 5 minutes’ conversation. Yet momentary wishes are near useless as a basis of long-term cooperation. In order to avoid being tomized and isolated, to avoid a mere phenomenal existence, Emersonian intuition requires the addition of a tough-minded empiricism, oriented to the lush growth of human expression and suited to intelligent cultivation of the best in others.

Though “the sensual man conforms thoughts to things, the poet conforms things to his thoughts. ” Emerson succeeded in conforming generations of Americans to his thought. Now, in an age where conformity is used in commercials as an advertising gimmick, Emerson would probably offer the following: “Your conformity explains nothing. Act singly, and what you have already done singly will justify you now. “

Eighteenth Century Philosophers: A Comparison

The “Enlightenment” or the “Age of Realization” was an age of great advancement and reform for all of Europe and beyond. Great advancements were being made in the fields of science, philosophy, mathematics, and logic. Most people attribute these achievements to the social critics of that time, also known as the philosophes. These philosophes were controversial thinkers and pioneered the intellectual movements of the 1700’s. They stood up for what they believed in, although they were constantly criticized and censured by many other people.

Such philosophers include Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, and Voltaire. Although their beliefs violently contradicted, they were all working to change what they thought was wrong with their present government. They were four men who disagreed about almost everything, and yet they were working towards a common goal. This is how the Age of Enlightenment became a reality. Rene Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. He was born in La Haye, France (now called Descartes) in 1595.

Unlike some other Enlightenment thinkers, he relied on logic and math in his reasoning. He was educated at the Jesuit College of La Fleche. It is thought that his most important influence was a man named Isaac Beeckman. It was with this man that Descartes discussed math, philosophy, and physics. This man was his friend and trusted colleague. In 1618 Descartes served in the army of Prince Maurice of Nassau. It was Descartes theory that stated, “the discovery of proper method is the key to furthering scientific advancement.

Descartes was responsible for a number of very influential works including Rules for the Direction of Mind, Le Monde (The World), Discourse on Method, Meditationes de Prima Philosophia (Meditations on the First Philosophy), The Principles of Philosophy, and Les Passions de l’ame (Passions of the Soul. ) He coined the phrase, “Cogito Ergo Sum,” in English meaning, “I Think Therefore I Am. ” Although Descartes died in Stockholm in1650, his words have lived on for many centuries and will survive through many more. Thomas Hobbes was born in London, England in 1588.

He was educated at Oxford University in England where he studied the classics. In 1651, Hobbes wrote his most famous book, Leviathan. In this book he argued that most people were born evil and could not be trusted to govern themselves. He thought that a ruler needed to have complete control over his people to govern efficiently. His idea was to have something to force the people to obey their ruler at all costs. He called this document the Social Contract. He thought that giving power to an individual would start a “war of every man against every man” and make life “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Although these thoughts may seem to label Thomas Hobbes as a supporter of an authoritarian government, he favored a representative democracy. He coined the phrase, “voice of the people,” but he thought that this “voice” should be vetoed if a ruler deemed it proper. John Locke was born in 1632 at Wrinton in Somerset, England. He opposed the views of Thomas Hobbes and thought that people were born neither good nor evil. He believed that people’s characters were solely based on their experiences and their environment. He also believed that people could learn from their experiences and change their characters for the better.

He believed that people had three Natural Rights- life, liberty, and property. In Locke’s eyes, the purpose of the government was to protect the people’s Natural Rights. He thought that if the government was not doing this job, that the people had the right to overthrow it. Although it may seem that Locke would support a democracy, he was not a democrat. He believed that laborers were of a lower status that the middle and upper classes and had no place meddling in the affairs of the government. He believed that the poor had neither the education nor the inclination to make political decisions responsibly.

This was a popular belief of the time. Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire was born in Paris France to a wealthy family. He was raised a deist and a liberal. He was educated at Louis de Grand, a Jesuit College, where he was exposed to both Latin and French theatre. Although his father wanted him to study the law, Voltaire abandoned the idea for philosophy and his interest in theatre. Voltaire is famous for his satirical poetry and controversial works, many of which never became published because they were so astonishing to the society.

He wrote poems and plays that made a mockery of the French government and society. He encouraged free speech among his colleagues and friends and is sometimes remembered by this line, “I disapprove of what you are saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ” Voltaire fought for a limited government and was arrested twice for insulting nobles. It is said that this great man published over 70 books of political essays, philosophy, history, and drama. Voltaire died in his sleep at the age of 84, a hero.

This rebel’s contribution to the field of philosophy will never be forgotten because it helped to free the minds of the people of the eighteenth century from the hypnotic drone of former life. Each of these enlightenment thinkers has a different view about people and about life. Each in their own way, I can relate to all of these philosophes. For example, I agree with the ideas of democracy presented by Thomas Hobbes. I can also relate to the beliefs of John Locke. I also believe that people are influenced by their experiences and environments.

I also think that if given the chance I would encourage Voltaire’s rebellious behavior and satirical views of government. I also agree with the ideas of Descartes. I think that math and logic are important keys to decipher human philosophy. Who could pick only one of these amazing thinkers of the Enlightenment era? Not I. I would rather do as Rome did to Greece: take what I like and adapt it to fit me. Perhaps I could be one of the Enlightenment thinkers of the Two thousand tenth century. Perhaps I could have the great honor and recognition to be called a philosophe.

Anarchy, a political philosophy

Anarchy is a political philosophy shrouded in misconception. This misconception is caused by the diversity of the subject of anarchism itself, which cannot be characterized by simple slogans or television plugs. In theory, anarchy provides the most personal freedom for the individual. Anarchy is more than just politics; it is a way of life encompassing political, pragmatic and personal ways of life. Anarchy, however, remains but a theory to the human race. In fact, human nature undermines the ultimate utopian idea of freedom i. e. ere will always be one person wanting power over another.

In an ideal anarchist’s commune, every single person must use his or her freedom responsibly. The power-hungry human will ultimately destroy peace. “Anarchism strives to reach peace, but there will always be those in opposition to peace, either to obtain power or to ultimately corrupt utopia,” states Dave Roediger in the Haymarket Scrapbook. Even though anarchy remains a theory, the idea itself has existed for over two hundred years, not only outlasting civilizations, but thriving throughout time.

The French Revolution, begun in 1789, had a strong pro-anarchist element. Anarchists also played a substantial role in the revolutionary movements in Russia in 1905 and 1917 (Pleck 69), but were suppressed, often ruthlessly, once the Bolsheviks consolidated power. ” The Spanish Revolution of 1936-1939 held close anarchy ties between ‘Benedict Arnolds,’ ” says Patrick Brenner in Black Rose. The Spanish Revolution set the stage for the most widely known large-scale manifestation of anarchism, the theory of anarchy itself.

Prominent anarchists such as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman participated in a variety of radical causes throughout the early 1900’s. Goldman held rallies and protests for women’s rights and “free Love. ” She was imprisoned several times and had sex to raise money for protests. Suffragettes in the 1920’s had a chant that stated: “Emma said it 1910, now we’re gonna say it again! ” (Brenner) There was also a strong anarchist current in “many of the social change and alternative lifestyle movements of the 1960’s,” reports David Farber in Chicago ’68.

This includes parts of the feminist movement, the gay liberation movement and the anti-war and free speech movements. Even today, anarchism is flourishing. ” As well as thriving throughout time, anarchy does promote the most freedom for all aspects of life. To better understand other choices of political philosophy, it is helpful to examine all major points of view. Communism, libertarianism, liberalism and nihilism are often confused with anarchy. But these political philosophies are predominantly too structured for the typical anarchist’s viewpoints (Heretics’ Hall 4 April 1997).

Many anarchists value communalism and collectivism, whereas anarchists reject the totalitarianism of the existing communist states. Libertarians are anti-state but are not opposed to domination and hierarchy in all its forms as anarchy is. The idea of leftism is a prominent issue taken up in the 1990’s; liberals traditionally associate themselves with the right wing. Anarchism is free of these boundaries and is not constrained enough to hold a place within typical “democratic” statutes. Nihilists often call themselves anarchists, but anarchism does not promote random violence like nihilism.

There are also many different types of anarchists, allowing for many choices as to what type of peaceful protests an anarchist would like to choose (abortion rallies, war protests, political strikes, et cetera). Finally, anarchy is among the most “generation-conscious” of political philosophies. Preparing for the 21st Century, anarchists are looking forward to the safety of descendants and ancestors alike. Anarchist ideals such as rebellion and revolution are often espoused by youth within the punk, rave, radical, and typical black dress of high school student cultures throughout the world.

These young people attempt to escape the injustice and alienation of life in the prevailing consumer society (drugs are good, hemp necklaces, preppies, upper class, cell phones, etc. ) by forming communities of resistance. Some examples of resistance communities are collective living, squatting (inhabiting abandoned buildings), and info shops (literally, shops containing information on thousands of political topics of debate; offers jobs, commune availability, and varieties of music-an anarchist’s version of a yuppie’s coffeehouse).

The creation of one-time ‘zines such as the underground newspaper run by Carmel students and Spunk Press on the Internet links many “off-the-scene,” or non-public anarchists, to contribute to the revolution effort. Anarchists are involved with a wide array of Internet web sites and message boards The Internet is often labeled as “anarchy in action” (Farber 321). Electronic communications provide a way to transcend national borders and may minimize the importance of cultural barriers such as race and gender as well.

In summary, anarchy is a diverse, tightly woven philosophy that has been adopted in one form or another throughout the past two hundred years by a wide range of individuals and groups, many of whom do not realize or do not associate the individual’s ties with anarchy. These people, however, search for the most freedom offered by world affairs and find it in anarchy. Anarchy can have relevance to all facets of one’s existence, including political, pragmatic, and personal values.

In emphasizing freedom, self-determination, personal responsibility, direct action, and the creation of the voluntary, cooperative alternatives, anarchism has the vision and the flexibility to provide a viable way to transform one’s own life while working for the radical and lasting social change that will transform the world. If the idea of anarchy, which is anarchism, was put into effect, poverty, war, disease, homelessness and lack of education could be abolished forever.

Confucianism And It’s Implications In Modern China

Confucianism is a time enduring philosophy that has stood up to invading clans, war, resentment, enforcement and infringement of new philosophies, and eventually, revival. For almost 80years, up until the late 1970’s, Confucianism and its ideas and values have been all but wiped away from China. Though effort was made to remove Confucianism for good from China by the Communist leader Mao Zedong in 1949, the ideas and values were so deeply embedded into peoples mind and the culture that even suppression could not keep it out of the culture and practices.

The main factor that has brought Confucianism back into the limelight in China and other East Asian countries is the recent development of economic growth and the possibilities behind why that has occurred. This is a topic that has brought about much dispute among scholars, that is, whether or not Confucianism has played any role in the progress of these countries, especially that of China. It is through the adaptation and re-institution of Confucian ideas and philosophies to that of the modern era that will develop China and create a better society, government, and economy allowing it to grow and prosper.

This is not an attempt to reinstate Confucianism as it once was, but rather the idea of Confucianism going through a modernization process in which one includes those parts that are helpful to society while removing those that are harmful to society. It is not the purpose of bringing back Confucianism as the main and only philosophy as it once was in Imperial China; but rather, the process of incorporating it with modern ideas and into modern context where it will be deemed beneficial to society. This is a relatively new concept that has been present for only about 20years or so.

Due to this, no definite theory has been developed to say whether this is plausible. When looking at the ideas of Confucianism, one must look at the values that he expresses that are essential to human beings in order to become gentleman. Some of these values are present in every society and in every country. Ideas like jen and the Golden Rule are indispensable to life in almost every society on the globe. In order to look at Confucianism and evaluate whether it has relevance in the modern era, one must look at the social, political/governmental, and economic aspects that it brings.

When doing this, however, one has to be open and willing to account that the ideas of Confucius are present even when they do not seem as though they may be implemented or those persons do not feel that they possess them in a Confucian sense. In addition, you must approach this with the intent to merge ideas together. It is no surprise that philosophies adapt and develop overtime; therefore, one must admit that all societies correlate in some way to each other and to refute that this is true is to refute that both societies are erroneous.

Society is the biggest aspect of life in which Confucianism has tremendous impact on. Not only does Confucianism layout the way one should be, act, and present himself towards and to others; these are the qualities that any civilization basis its self on. A researcher can tell much about a nation by its social well-being or lack of well-being. History can tell a lot about a nation and its society; this can also allow them to see what causes the society to be weak and what causes it to be strong. This can allow one to see whether a certain philosophy does well in the nation or how its following affects the nation.

Neglect of Confucius’ teachings is often associated with social chaos and sufferings in China’s history. ” In short, what this is saying is that China’s history has shown that Confucianism is the backbone of society and the state; when they are not followed the state is in chaos and when they are followed the state does well. The well-being of the state therefore depends on Confucianism and whether it is followed. This shows that Confucian teachings still have tremendous impact in China. Ideas like harmony, filial piety, and the Golden Mean all are big parts of China’s culture.

From the beginning of this century until 1977, Confucius had been criticized in mainland China and the Chinese people’s living standard had been under the bottom of the world. In contrast to China’s performance, Japan’s success in modernization has been mainly due to properly applying the Confucian principles. It is not due to the Chinese people that the ideas of Confucius have been strongly criticized; rather, it is a result of Communism. This is due to Mao Zedong’s influence when he took over in 1949 and implemented Communist ideas. While doing this, he attempted to get rid of the Confucian idea.

Mao’s reason, along with other Communist revolutionaries in China, for publicly attacking Confucianism was that it was felt as though the social and political ideas were considered authoritative and class-ridden. By bringing in Communism, it gave the Chinese people no room to improve unless the government allowed for it. Therefore, Communism causes the Chinese people to be class-ridden; the very thing they were trying to get rid of. When people look at China and see that it has not had much progress over the past century, it is evident that they do not look at the true reason behind this fact.

The secret of Japanese success is that it practiced the traditional Chinese principles: social positions are determined by merits and learning and the reason for China’s slow economic development until the economic reform is that it had destroyed this traditional Chinese practice. Confucianism is obviously not the reason for this backwardness; one can look at Japan and the other Asian nations that are backed by a Confucian culture to see evidence of this. Rather, Communism and Mao are holding back or have held back the Chinese.

In Communism, the government tells the people how much money they will make, what they will study, and where they will work. Communism does not promote learning and knowledge unless it is what the government sees fit. Confucianism, on the other hand, promotes learning and knowledge. In fact, one of the main values or ideas in Confucianism is the idea of knowledge and learning. A key reason for the high performance of East Asian students in science, mathematics and classical music is the Confucianist drive for educational excellence.

It is true that Confucius did not promote the idea of learning the sciences specifically; what we should take from this is the idea of learning and striving to learn rather than what we should learn. Any nation who’s culture promotes learning like a Confucian nation does is bound to grow and excel; maybe not now, but undoubtedly in the future. In light of education, Korea also has used the strong Confucian value of education, if not to promote growth economically they do promote growth in education of the masses. In the main, however, traditional Confucian values have supported Korean growth.

The focus on education and self-cultivation within the Confucian tradition as a means for improving both individual and family position in society encouraged the expansion of mass education. Those who look at Confucianism being the reason that China is behind are not looking at the facts or they would obviously see that Confucianism is prevalent in the economic powerhouses of East Asia known as the Five dragons. These five dragons owe much of their success to the Confucian values such as “self-discipline, social harmony, strong families and a reverence for education.

Outside of China, Singapore decided to bring in Confucian thoughts and ideas beginning in the 1970’s. This was done in an attempt to strengthen and grow, both in economy and socially. Singapore Senior Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew stated, “The core of thoughts of Confucius can help build a harmonious and stable modern society. ” Confucianism was brought in through the Confucian Ethics campaign that began in 1992 to be implemented through courses in school; this was eventually changed to a “shared values” idea in order to obtain public support.

Even though Confucianism at first got some resistance in Singapore, it is still considered, by the government, the backbone to why Singapore has done well; both economically and politically. Minister of Education Goh Keng Swee stated: Confucianism in Singapore will not be merely for the classroom. It will be interpreted as a code of personal conduct for modern Singapore and promoted in the form of public debate and discussion over the media. Along with Singapore, the other East Asian nations have a strong embedded Confucian tradition though most of them have had these values longer.

Another key concept required for a strong society is that of harmony. What this means is that the people must be in harmony with each other and with the government. Confucianism’s definitive aspect involves the Golden Mean – applying moderation in human relations and avoiding prejudice. It is a recipe for social harmony as well as a cultural hallmark of a mature democracy. The idea of the Golden Mean is essentially that of the Golden Rule; that is: Due unto others as others due unto you. When a nation has harmony, then it is bound to grow. Thus, using the Golden Mean, a nation will have harmony and grow.

In addition, when promoting harmony, the nation also promotes the idea of filial piety. In filial piety, the key to this is the relationships between people: “emperor and minister, husband and wife, father and son, and among siblings and friends. ” These are key concepts behind all nations if they want to modernize; they must have harmony, filial piety, and the Golden Mean (Golden Rule). The result of these values is a family based or human relations oriented society. If a nation has all of these, then they will have a chance at obtaining a strong and followed government.

Out of a good and strong society, you are bound to get a good and strong government as long as it follows similar rules to that of the society and works for the people. China’s past has not had that privilege, at least not for the past half century or so. Beginning in 1949, Communism was the form of government used in China and as we all know, it prevents people from having a voice in the government. Confucius himself did not feel as though everybody should have a part of government, but he did feel that the government should do what was best for the people.

Confucianism gave the idea of the Mandate of Heaven. We should not take this literally as it was in Confucius’ time, but rather take it in perspective of our own time. …the people had the duty to obey and support the government as long as it provided good government. If not, the people had the right to rebel and replace the ruler with someone who had a new Mandate of Heaven. In a sense, America already has this, the process of impeachment. It is this way that China should look at this. The idea of rebelling is wrong, but making sure that the government is benevolent towards the people is excellent.

What the previous quote in essence is saying is that the people, if ethical and moral, will love the government; if it is not, then it will be despised. The Confucian idea is that its people will love a government that loves and takes care of its people. One that does not, will not. These values are still prevalent today, though they need to be expanded upon in China. China needs to expand on the ideas of human rights. Confucianism is not simply the advocacy of obedience to government but also the accountability of government.

If they really want to learn from Confucian humanism, they have to open up to more enlightened values, such as freedom of expression, the dignity of the individual and other human rights. If China does this, then the people will not be able to claim that they have no human rights and the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989 and others that could rise like it would not happen. In order to cause this to happen, the Chinese must have a good system for electing politicians. The Confucian system, being the examination test, is not the best way.

Nonetheless, it does present a good consideration: China should make sure that those running for politics know about the history of China’s politics and governmental procedures in order to govern well by implementing the examination system. However, this is not the examination system of Confucianism, but rather an examination system that would involve knowledge that all interested in politics should know about the nation. Then, they should bring in the idea of voting. In this, they would use the democratic form of voting. Den Xiaoping states:

On how Confucianism could reconcile with democracy, he said it gave an underlying moral framework to the one-man-one-vote system and the market. This would encourage the voter to calculate not only in his self-interest, but also that of his community. Using this philosophy, the people would have to choose from those who knew the background of their nation and whom they feel would benefit the community, not just their own desires. This would be beneficial to America as well; rather than voting for particular party candidates, vote for the person who will benefit the society the most.

Instead, most people feel that their particular party will benefit people the most and therefore vote for their party. Different forms of government have governed China over the course of its history. It has had imperial rulers, Communist, dictatorships, and socialism. Presently, China has socialism as its basis, but with the incorporation of Confucianism, it would “provide a much stronger foundation for Chinese and Vietnamese society in the next century than class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat. ” This might be a good idea especially since “Confucianism could add a humanism lacking in the old socialism.

Some feel that even the unification of democracy and Confucian values would be good for China; however, this would not work due to its culture. Democracy is, in a way, the same as Confucianism in the aspect of electing a leader by the fact that “The ruler is to provide the conditions for the people to live a happy life. It is not difficult to see that the genuine purpose of democratic voting is to elect such a Confucian leader. ” In any sense, Confucianism would unquestionably bring values and ethics that could be the bases of the entire political structure as well as social structure making for a strong, people oriented nation.

To go along with the idea of politics, what would ultimately develop is a strong economy. Many people claim that there is no relevance between a philosophy (or way of life) and economics. They dispute the lack of connection between a nations (or a persons in the sense of business) virtues and the economic progress that it makes or lacks. Confronted with the success of countries with economic policies as diverse as those of Taiwan and South Korea, some academics have looked to culture for an explanation and concluded that “Confucian ethics”, stressing the claims of the community over the individual, are the key.

This idea of the community over the individual is an idea that Confucius strongly promoted. In any economy, the way to grow and prosper is to put the community over that of the individual. However, people say that this idea is holding China back, or that it gives them a backwards movement. Max Weber was a strong advocate of this idea stating that, “…Confucianism was largely responsible for the economic backwardness of China. ” If the community is put over the individual in this sense, then there is no evidence that would lead towards backwardness; rather, all the evidence leads forward.

This leads to the idea of Confucian ethics. The Confucian ethics that apply here would include work ethic, knowledge or learning, and putting the well-being of others in front of that of oneself (this could also be taken as benevolence or jen). The work ethic that is expressed in Confucianism and desire for knowledge and learning are prevalent in some of China’s bordering nations, who largely, have a strong Confucian background. These countries have shown rapid economic growth and have Confucian values deeply submerged in their culture.

Along with these values, the idea of filial piety flows over into the economic portion. The way that filial piety coincides with economics is through business. In order to have a strong business, it must have the relationships between boss and employee and other relevant relationships. This allow for a strong business and strong atmosphere to work in. Thus, the family structure underlies the business, governmental, societal structures of the Chinese. When looking at Confucianism we must realize that in its original form, it is foolhardy to think that it can be applied in its original form as it was in Confucius’ day.

We must look at it with an open-mind in order to bring it in to light of modernization and the modern world in general. While looking at in the perspective of modern China, it is evident that these values are still present. In addition, when you take in to account Confucianism’s values and presence in every society, in every part of the world, it is impossible to think that Confucianism holds back or will hold back China or any other nation. …it is simple, flexible, and consistent with a reasonable interpretation of our own fundamental traditions.

In confused times like our own we would do well to consider it; even if it does no more immediately than add to our stock of ideals, we should remember that ideals are eventually decisive. It is through the adaptation and re-institution of these Confucian ideas and philosophies to that of the modern era that will develop China and create a better society, government, and economy allowing it to grow and prosper. It is only through this re-institution and interpretation that we will fully be able to appreciate Confucianism’s affects on a nation.

Anarchy: Political Ideals To A Symbol Of Uncoformity

“Anarchism, then really stands for the liberation of human mind from the domination of religion, The liberation of the human body from the domination of property, Liberation from the shackles and restraints of government”#-Emma Golman. During the late 1800’s urbanization began to inflict the cities and the industrial revolution began resulting in governments gaining more and more power. “The state is authority; its force”#-Mikhail Bakunin. As the governments grew it was believed the state was more concerned with its growing power rather than the interests of the people.

A group known as the anarchist believed that the government should be abolished and then the people would be free to live co-operatively with full social and political. Anarchy began as a political philosophy and soon turned in to an all out revolution resulting in assignations, bombings and kidnappings spanning over the better part of the past century. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, anarchy started to become more of a fashion trend if you will, rather than a political philosophy. “I Wanna Be Anarchy”-Sex Pistols.

The Punk movement in music during the late 70’s was first to wide spread expose the public to anarchy and anarchist ideals. Followers of punk and punk music usually didn’t have the tendency to look of the proper meaning of anarchy, but since Johnny Rotten was saying it, it was cool. Today if you take a look at the public wither you are in a public school or a shopping mall, you can see teenagers with anarchy symbols on their shirts, pants, back packs and even drawn on their sneakers in an attempt to look what the public calls “hardcore”.

Anarchism is the sprit of the youth against out worn traditions”-Mikhail Bakunin, this would prove to be all too true in this new era of “anarchism”. This paper will further outline how anarchy started out as a political philosophy and turned in to a symbol of unconformity. Anarchism can be defined as a political philosophy and social movement designed to destroy the government in hopes of creating a society based on voluntary co-operation of free individuals.

In 1840 Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a peaceful anarchist, published his controversial pamphlet titled “What Is Property”. Proudhon clamed that violence and crime was not caused by individuals but instead by the government. He believed that police and laws forced humans to live in an unnatural state of oppression and equality, according to Proudhon the ownership of property was the main root of all equality. “As man seeks justice in equality, so society seeks justice in anarchy.

Anarchy-the absence of a sovereign-such is the form of government to which we are every day approximating” # In this quote, Proudhon predicts the eventual dissolve of the government and the rise of a natural social order. Proudhon felt it was possible to create and emplace anarchist organizations in an established society. Eventually the organizations would rise as the government was falling, thus freeing the people from property and oppression enabling the them to live in a free socially liberated society.

Mikhail Bakunin on the contrary was not a peaceful anarchist, he believed that the only way to achieve an anarchist society was through a violent revolution. “The passion for destruction is also a creative passion”#. Although he believed that anarchy was only achievable through a violent revolution, Mikhail Bakunin shared some of the same ideas with Proudhon. Bakunin agreed with Proudhon that human kind’s intentions were for the most part good, but oppression caused by the government had forced the natural quality of human kind to become corrupted.

Bakunin viewed the government “as a negation and annihilation of all liberty”#. Bakunin summarized the intentions and attitude of the anarchist movement by saying this, In a word we reject all legislation, all authority, all privileged, licensed, official and legal influence, even though rising from a universal suffrage, convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominate minority of exploiters against the interests of the immense majority in subject to them” # It was believed by Bakunin that the state should be replaced by a series of agreements and voluntary associations.

Eventually the state would be replaced by a free federation in which every individual would be equally privileged and have equal rights. To say that the anarchist movement started in 1840 with the publishing of Proudhon’s controversial pamphlet “What Is Property? ” would be untrue. The first plans for an anarchist uprising were conceived by Gerrard Winstanley almost 200 years prior to Proudhon publishing his pamphlet. In Gerrard’s pamphlet “Truth Lifting It’s Head Above The Scandals” he wrote what was to become the back bone of the anarchist theory in years to come.

The pamphlet declared that power corrupts the minds of the people and freedom is unachievable with the existence of property. In an experiment, Gerrard Winstanley established an anarchist community on a hillside with his followers. Ironically the community was destroyed by government oppression. Anarchism quickly spread its roots through the world and by 1845 it reached Spain and the first anarchist journal was established, but it was quickly destroyed by government censorship.

Anarchism in Spain gained more and more followers, in 1870 there were as many as 40 000, by 1873 there were 60 000 followers. Despite anarchism growing popularity in Spain, the movement was forced underground in 1874, by 1880 the Spanish anarchist front resorted to violence and terrorism. It wasn’t until the Spanish Civil War of 1936 that anarchist ideals were given an opportunity to be placed in to action. Railways, factories and land were seized and taken over, libertarian villages were established and the internal usage of money was abolished.

Within these libertarian villages the land was tilled collectively, products were distributed to each family according to their need and at equal shares. Due to their inability to sub stain warfare the anarchists failed, yet they succeeded in inspiring many people and showing the world that anarchism is possible. American anarchism was mainly sub stained by immigration from Europe and by the 1800’s anarchism was a large part of life for many people. America saw its fair share of anarchist activity. The Haymarket riot in Chicago left 7 policemen dead and 1 anarchist severally injured.

In 1901 president McKinley was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czlogosz. Due to violent acts including riots, bombings, assignations and kidnappings, anarchists are often perceived and mindless individuals and dangerous violent people, which is not entirely true. Anarchism has its pacifists who do not advocate the usage of violence and believe that the government can be brought down through peaceful and political means. The punk movement of the late 70’s and early 80’s associated its self with anarchy and anarchist ideals because of it’s wild unconformist past.

Anarchy and anarchist imagery were used primarily for shock value and nothing more. This became known and the anarco-punk scene. Anarco punks adopted what they call an anarchy symbol which consists of an irregular capitol “A” in the centre of a circle. This anarchy symbol has become the primary symbol for aggression and non conformity based on punk ideals. Anarchism took on a whole new meaning in 1977 with the release of The Sex Pistols’ first single “I wanna Be Anarchy”. The lyrics advocated a violent anarchist society and mindless destruction.

The doctrine of Karma

The doctrine of Karma is a spiritual doctrine based on the theory of cause and effect. Although Karma does not exactly fit the definition of supernatural phenomenon it is a spiritual doctrine based on the philosophy that God is not responsible for the happiness or failure of an individual, rather, we as individuals are solely responsible for the consequences of our own behavior. The concept of Karma has two major interpretations; the most common approaches are to the idea of reincarnation, particularly in the West where the idea has almost no existence.

In the East, people believe in reincarnation and hold a fatalistic idea of Karma. I favor neither westerner nor easterner extremist approaches to Karma Doctrine. I on the other hand favor only the basic concept of the Karma, since it has gradually inspired me to become a better person. It has motivated me to neglect the satisfaction of my enlarging ego and instead it has encouraged me to take responsibility for my actions; hoping that with this attitude, I might one day achieve peace of body and mind. The West shows almost no interest in the law of Karma.

This is due to its strong links to reincarnation. Most westerners refuse to believe in the transmigration of souls. Believing that you could be a human being in one life and an animal in the succeeding life, is a basic idea of reincarnation that some of us refuse to accept. For example, the act of swatting a fly could be perceived as killing a person, perhaps your mother in a past life. I myself have a hard time believing in such occurrence. If in fact westerners show interest in reincarnation, it is only with a skeptical curiosity of knowing who they were in previous lives.

In the west, no serious research is done on the subject. As stated in the short story The Politics of Being Mortal, “the arrogance of Western science seeking to master rather to work with nature. “(Making Contact, pg. 618). Western society refuses to attempt a true understanding of the spiritual and mystical forces in the soul and in nature. The influence of Christianity in the Western Hemisphere has left us with the belief that God chooses to punish or reward your actions in life and perhaps in heaven or hell. “Christianity which holds the soul works out its rewards or punishments in a single lifetime.

The closest mentioning of Karma is in the biblical scripture: ‘for whatever a man sowest, that shall he reap. ‘ (Gal. 6:7)” www. sconline. com. The non-religious western believe that we are in full control of our own destiny, which we are to some extent, but that there is no greater law governing our life is not, in my opinion, entirely true. Good and bad Karma must not be regarded as a reward or punishment, but just simply as a consequence of your actions. The East is a devoted believer in reincarnation and consequently in the Law of Karma. In the east as well as in the west, Karma is viewed with extreme viewpoints.

They believe that their status in this life is a consequence of their actions in a previous life. Drastically differing from the west, easterners humbly accept their destiny and believe it cannot be changed. Unlike westerners, fatalistic eastern people are not really curious to find out what they were in the past life. The eastern society believes that the reason for having an unhappy and miserable life is due to The Law of Karma. That is, they have no doubt that they deserve the misery they are in now because of the terrible person they once were in their preceding existence.

It is within their beliefs that if they accept their punishment calmly and try to be good in this lifetime that they will be rewarded with higher status next time around. In my opinion, the acceptance of the Law of Karma on that basis is too extreme and even pathetic. The Orient’s extremist viewpoint of Karma is clearly reflected in their failure of democracy and social happiness. Both the western and eastern perspective on the principle of Karma is too extreme. The western society is too unconcerned in respect to reincarnation. Westerners also approach the doctrine of Karma in a cynic manner.

Contradictory to western opinion, eastern society holds a fatalistic attitude and no positive outlook on life. A balance has to be reached. People think that believing in the Law of Karma is believing in reincarnation. This is not necessarily true. Karma as a spiritual law, is not adjusted according to our various and conflicting definitions of success and failure. Good Karma comes about good actions that usually bring happiness to the soul at the expense of your ego. Bad Karma usually results in happiness of ego and pain to the soul.

Karma is the concept that every thought, every action that we create sets a consequence. Everything we do will produce effects, which will rebound on us for good or for ill. This is the way we experience what good and bad Karma is. Every instant we are creating Karma, we are creating our fortune right now. Good Karma is created through rendering service or good actions. You serve and you draw yourself to good energy. By giving positive energy, you set in motion a cause, the effect is love in return; that is the Law of Karma. It is basically the Law of Love.

Love strengthens the individual in a way in which he can deal with his own Karma. It is not until we find the right relationship with each other, with ourselves, nature and with whole of which we are a part, we will go on making bad Karma. Learning about the Karma doctrine has brought nothing but positive effects in my life, it has slowly enhanced my desire to become more spiritual and at peace with everyone and everything around me. “My belief is correct for me-you have to find the belief that is correct for you and it will not necessarily be the same as my belief. “

Positivism And The Real

Positivism is a trend in bourgeois philosophy, which acknowledges the orthodoxy towards empirical knowledge of natural phenomena where metaphysics and theology are regarded as inadequate and imperfect systems of knowledge. Positivism, began to rise as the main intellectual movement during the second half of the 19th century in response to the inability of speculative philosophy, witch was indeed Romanticism. During the first half of 19th century, the Romanticism brought new views that helped the civilization of that time reach a higher level but it also brought the negative side effects.

It brought the chaotic effect that people started in a extremely liberal way to threat the social order in the increasing dispute of 1847 to 1848 which was posed not just by revolutions but by the eruption of an insidious, continually growing, struggle of class against class. The imperceptive economic thoughts, as those in France of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, eloquent if inconsistent writer, denounced the property classifying it as theft. The revolutions of 1848 lead the way for European thinkers to develop new visions for the way of thinking that brought to the idea of Positivism.

Claude Henri de Saint-Simon, French socialist/philosopher, conceived the idea of a new science of society that would result in the economic and intellectual emancipation of man. Saint-Simon thought that the new idea must be a positive philosophy based on experience and science. Another Frenchman Auguste Comte, who is considered the founder of Positivism, was the first to introduce the term “positivism. ” According to Comte, the new natural sciences indicated that a new social science should be built on observation and experience.

Comte also described the human history as a three-staged chronology of progress, with each stage having a different social organization based on the social environment of the time, with action based on different principles at each stage. Those were the theological stage, metaphysical stage and at last the positive era. After its birth in France, positivism continued to spread to England where it obtained a new and better form. In fact, it was in England that the biggest positivist arose.

James Stuart Mill, a writer on economy, was one of the main figures in English positivism. In his largely influential System of Logic (1843) Mill introduced the logical positivism that declared: all discoveries of truth not self-evident consist of inductions and the interpretation of inductions. Mill’s theory of logic is based on the laws association. Comte’s influence extended to many other intellectuals in England including Herbert Spencer who followed the positivist idea. According to Spencer, the universe is a result of evolution.

The laws, which made possible such an evolution, are two: Concentration, by which is meant the transition of elements from the state of instability to the state of stability; Differentiation, by which is meant the passage from the homogeneity of the elements to the state of heterogeneity. German Positivism first emerges as a reaction against Idealism in general and Hegelianism in particular and then as re-development of Kantian theory of knowledge. The German positivist, as an anti-Hegelist, was Ludwig A. Feuerbach who sought to reduce religion to the cult of humanity.

Friedrich Albert Lange, as a young Kantian, demonstrated the necessity of rejecting and overcoming materialism because it presumes to derive knowledge from material motion. The most important of German intellectual to contribute to positivism was Karl Marx, author of Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto. Marx together with his collaborator Friedrich Engels strove to put into practical effect the humanitarian concept of Feuerbach. In so doing, they founded a new economic movement called Socialism,

The exponent of Italian Positivism was Roberto Ardigo, who accepted the evolutionist principle of reality as a passage from the “indistinct to the distinct. ” According to Ardigo, the primordial “indistinct” condition of being is a psychophysical reality revealing itself in the first event of consciousness. After the aftermath of 1848, Romanticism began to fade away and positivism aroused all over Europe. In arts, literary realism supported the positivist movement by reacting strongly against romanticism and retreating to a realistic, even humdrum description of the ordinary.

Evolution Of Paradigm, Christianity And The Discovery Of The Individual

I cannot forgive Descartes. In all his philosophy he would have been quite willing to dispense with God. But he had to make Him give a fillip to set the world in motion; beyond this, he has no further need of God. Blaise Pascal, Penses, number 77 Cosmology itself speaks to us of the origins of the universe and its makeup, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise but in order to state the correct relationship of man with God and with the universe.

Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth, it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer . . . other teaching about the origin of and makeup of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach how heaven was made but how one goes to heaven. Pope John Paul II, Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on 3 October 1981.

The discovery of the New World and especially the people inhabiting it was very dangerous to the Christian Church in the sense that it pointed out falsities in a paradigm to which people held great loyalty for its antiquital and divine authority. Humans are opposed to change, for at each moment in history, we like to think our paradigms for the universe and the heavens hold the absolute good and truth. It comes down to a question of pride. In order to change a paradigm, we have to admit that the previous paradigm was wrong; The longer it has been in place, the harder this is.

Like a lie, the longer it is maintained the harder it is to tell the truth, for longevity requires investment of lie upon lie upon lie. When we have invested life after life, profit after profit, scholar after scholar in a paradigm, it holds great value. This is where the antiquities derive their authority, for they give us the paradigms in which we invest. And, this is why we are loyal to our paradigms, to the point of interference with advancement—which ironically, in this case, means toward the absolute good and truth in our paradigms.

Thus, for the same reason, we ought to question our antiquities; The more time and energy we invest the more we lose and the farther we get from the absolute truth and good. Yet there are absolute goods and truths in our paradigms; It is just that our paradigms are not the absolute truth and good. This concept is not unlike the King having two bodies, one being the office and the other being the individual. We have the human spirit and then we have the human incarnate.

The absolute truth and good are in the human spirit, but no one human possesses the knowledge, perfection, or purity to capture the absolute. Our antiquities—scholars and profits—are those who come closest to the absolute truth and good with the knowledge available at the time, to the best of their human imperfection and impurity. Therefor, we cannot blindly throw out our antiquities when their paradigms are humbled, for although not the absolute, there are absolute truths and goods to be maintained and built upon.

We should extract, from our antiquities’, elements of absolute good and truth for application in a new, more perfect and pure, paradigm. This is in part what we are doing when we cite texts, and this adds legitimacy to our works with the antiquities’ authority derived from our loyalty to their paradigms. I suppose I should cite someone here. I agree with Descartes in that everything in the past is wrong, one will only find the truth in them selves. But, one does not throw out the past, we note changes not to be made again and maintain the truths and good.

We know from Descartes that absolute truth is in the human spirit, and from Aristotle that humans are inherently good. Then if, all men do all their acts with a view to achieving something which is, in their view, a good, there will be some absolute good and truth in their acts. In taking the elements of truth and good from our antiquities paradigms and adding them to our own, we transcend the human incarnate working collectively through the human spirit toward the absolute truth and good. In this way too, we reconcile our loyalty to our antiquities.

We are not abandoning our antiquities when we throw out their wrongs, rather we are joining them in combining their truths and good into a new paradigm created by a group of humans, a human spirit, not a fallible individual. Now, how do we determine what to keep, what is truth and good, but by expunging that which no longer applies after the subject of a paradigm’s design changes, after a new discovery. With each new discovery, our first attempt, at understanding, maps it into an existing paradigm.

We call the West Indies, the West Indies, because they fit into the Indies place on the map of the world at the time, and obviously later found not to be. Hence, the quite natural, term paradigm mapping. If a discovery does not actually fit into a paradigm, serious figure doctoring is necessary to keep it there. This is a natural defense reaction brought on again by our loyalty to existing antiquities and paradigms. However, the awkwardness of the mapped paradigm should quickly point out a need for revision.

Here to revise is to make the paradigm fit the discovery not the discovery fit the paradigm. In this way paradigm mapping becomes almost an exercise in developing new paradigms. We would rather, admit to being partly wrong than look ridiculous. A mapped paradigm forces a break from antiquital loyalty enough so that we can see the faults in existing paradigms; All that is left we can, until the next discovery, take to be truth and good. Still, there is another reason for peoples reluctance to change; The existing paradigm may be convenient.

Would you want to change the paradigm if it placed you at the top, in power? This why discoveries become dangerous. They force the change of paradigms, and often a changing of the guard. Existing Paradigms have never been more challenged or changed then by the Discovery of the New World, and especially the people inhabiting it. At the time, the Bible served as both the universal and heavenly paradigm, it was both the science and the religion. More accurately, the Bible was the religion at the time and religion was both science and morality.

Religion can and did then explain life on two levels: the big LIFE—life on an evolutionary (for lack of a better word) timescale, and the life of the individual—life on an ontogenetic time scale. Since the discovery of the New World, and because of the discovery, there has been a movement, long resisted by the Church, de-emphasizing the big LIFE side of Christianity while emphasizing the life of the individual and how to conduct life morally. One of the main challenges, or questions to the Church’s big LIFE authority was: Where did the Cannibals come from?

The church had to find a place for the Cannibals in their existing biblical paradigm. A first response was paradigm mapping; Mendieta found a place for the Cannibals in a parable from Luke 14. As the end of the world neared, a man invited three guests to his meal symbolizing the Jews, Muslims, and the Gentiles. The Cannibals definitely weren’t Jews or Muslims so they must be Gentiles. However, at a time when reason ruled the day, the stretch Mendieta made was easy to see. Why would the Jew and Muslims be so clearly defined by God and not the Gentiles?

And didn’t the apostles preach to the Gentiles the middle east. Jose de Acosta offered a better place for the Cannibals through reason. If the Bible says that all men descended from one man, then the Cannibals reached the Indies by land or by sea—probably by land, for it could not be disproved with 16th century geography. This explanation was good; It did not hurt the Church’s big LIFE authority, for the time in that it did not point out any faults in the Bible’s paradigm. It is interesting that Jose de Acosta was a Jesuit.

For his explanation of the Cannibals reflects greatly the Jesuit movement of excellent education, not excluding the sciences, as well as their interpretation and direction of intention policies toward religion. Although many criticized them for this, as in the Provincial Letters by Blaise Pascal, these moves where necessary to reconcile the science they taught with the religion they preached. Pascal accuses the Jesuits of making things too easy for their followers, and in many way Pascal is right—interpretation and direction of intension can be abused.

But, the spirit of what the Jesuits where trying to do makes it possible for people to live life according to Christian morals and ethics, laid out by the Bible, from a contemporary perspective of the world. But, back to the Church’s problems with the New World, the Cannibals already had their own paradigms of government and morals that often seemed better then Christian ones. Montainge writes heavily on the Cannibals’ paradigms, and how the Cannibals themselves criticize the European paradigms.

The Cannibals found it unusual and contrary to their paradigm, that strong European men would follow a child king, because of hereditary right. The Cannibals did not realize that it was not just hereditary, but divine right as well, which gave the Church power over the King. Yet, the Cannibal strongest warrior paradigm was dangerous to the Church’s power, for it had reason on its side. And why should the Europeans rule over and convert the Cannibals, if they are in way better ruled and more pious. Many of the Church’s arguments center around and Aristotelean states of nature argument.

Sepulveda, argues that the perfect and powerful (Spaniards) should rule over the imperfect and weak (Cannibals), they should destroy the barbarism of the Cannibals and guide them to a more humane and virtuous life. However, reason as Montainge showed quite clearly places the Cannibals out of the barbaric state to which the Europeans claim superiority, and as Mendieta observed some Cannibals remain so pure that they do not know how to sin. Clearly this posed some valid opposition to the Church’s paradigms and power, by presenting an alterative working paradigm.

Such problems do not arise from the religion its self, but from the Christian institution. The goal of Christianity is to direct peoples lives so they can get to heaven, not to explain the heavens. Before there was any concrete science religion had to be both a way of life and an explanation of life. Christianity went wrong in trying to place all confidence in the word of God though human envoys. What documents does Christianity have that came directly from God? Jesus did not write any of the Bible directly.

Not even the Ten Commandments came to us directly from God, free from human envoy. And whether they are God’s exact words or not, they still set down some guidelines on how to live. Even if you throw out the Bible’s story of creation as a literal story of creation, it holds value as a parable—it speaks of the vice of temptation. It could be that creation is speaking of the human race’s descent from one spontaneous creation of human intellect, or the creation of the male and female mind, not literally man and woman.

Christianity has to accept the element of human imperfection in the Bible. Even those divinely inspired are subject to the imperfection of their individual human incarnate. How can any mortal being possibly fully understand God—the things that God puts in the revelations of our profits? Our profits are human, St. Peter couldn’t even speak Latin, Mark, his interpreter, wrote most of his testament through Pete’s witness. But of course, we can still extract valuable lessons from these stories.

And why should humans be afraid to offend God, that perhaps God’s word is not a definitive explanation of the world. Aside from the human understanding point, it is a sign of devotion and flattery that humans, in their hour of need, turned to God for explanation. If as Descartes would have said according to Pascal, all God did, was put a fillip in things to get them going. Look at all that came of it; it is amazing. Before humans had an understanding of how the universe arrived at its current state, they could see that it was divinely inspired and turned to God for explanation.

Yes, God set things in motion and has the power to pull the plug. But that is as far as God goes in that sense of things—beginning and end, and . The human spirit is defining everything in-between. God gives each one of us life of which we can see the end and gives us guidelines for the middle. Hopefully we add something to the big LIFE in which the human spirit exists during our human incarnate life. To be part of that power after life-as-we-know-it, is where religion’s moral side applies. We want to live accordance with God to this end.

Anarchy: Political Ideals To A Symbol Of Uncoformity

Anarchism, then really stands for the liberation of human mind from the domination of religion, The liberation of the human body from the domination of property, Liberation from the shackles and restraints of government#-Emma Golman. During the late 1800s urbanization began to inflict the cities and the industrial revolution began resulting in governments gaining more and more power. The state is authority; its force#-Mikhail Bakunin. As the governments grew it was believed the state was more concerned with its growing power rather than the interests of the people.

A group known as the anarchist believed that the government should be abolished and then the people would be free to live co-operatively with full social and political. Anarchy began as a political philosophy and soon turned in to an all out revolution resulting in assignations, bombings and kidnappings spanning over the better part of the past century. During the 1970s and 1980s, anarchy started to become more of a fashion trend if you will, rather than a political philosophy. I Wanna Be Anarchy-Sex Pistols.

The Punk movement in music during the late 70s was first to wide spread expose the public to anarchy and anarchist ideals. Followers of punk and punk music usually didnt have the tendency to look of the proper meaning of anarchy, but since Johnny Rotten was saying it, it was cool. Today if you take a look at the public wither you are in a public school or a shopping mall, you can see teenagers with anarchy symbols on their shirts, pants, back packs and even drawn on their sneakers in an attempt to look what the public calls hardcore.

Anarchism is the sprit of the youth against out worn traditions-Mikhail Bakunin, this would prove to be all too true in this new era of anarchism. This paper will further outline how anarchy started out as a political philosophy and turned in to a symbol of unconformity. Anarchism can be defined as a political philosophy and social movement designed to destroy the government in hopes of creating a society based on voluntary co-operation of free individuals. In 1840 Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a peaceful anarchist, published his controversial pamphlet titled What Is Property.

Proudhon clamed that violence and crime was not caused by individuals but instead by the government. He believed that police and laws forced humans to live in an unnatural state of oppression and equality, according to Proudhon the ownership of property was the main root of all equality. As man seeks justice in equality, so society seeks justice in anarchy. Anarchy-the absence of a sovereign-such is the form of government to which we are every day approximating # In this quote, Proudhon predicts the eventual dissolve of the government and the rise of a natural social order.

Proudhon felt it was possible to create and emplace anarchist organizations in an established society. Eventually the organizations would rise as the government was falling, thus freeing the people from property and oppression enabling the them to live in a free socially liberated society. Mikhail Bakunin on the contrary was not a peaceful anarchist, he believed that the only way to achieve an anarchist society was through a violent revolution. The passion for destruction is also a creative passion#.

Although he believed that anarchy was only achievable through a violent revolution, Mikhail Bakunin shared some of the same ideas with Proudhon. Bakunin agreed with Proudhon that human kinds intentions were for the most part good, but oppression caused by the government had forced the natural quality of human kind to become corrupted. Bakunin viewed the government as a negation and annihilation of all liberty#. Bakunin summarized the intentions and attitude of the anarchist movement by saying this,

In a word we reject all legislation, all authority, all privileged, licensed, official and legal influence, even though rising from a universal suffrage, convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominate minority of exploiters against the interests of the immense majority in subject to them # It was believed by Bakunin that the state should be replaced by a series of agreements and voluntary associations. Eventually the state would be replaced by a free federation in which every individual would be equally privileged and have equal rights.

To say that the anarchist movement started in 1840 with the publishing of Proudhons controversial pamphlet What Is Property? would be untrue. The first plans for an anarchist uprising were conceived by Gerrard Winstanley almost 200 years prior to Proudhon publishing his pamphlet. In Gerrards pamphlet Truth Lifting Its Head Above The Scandals he wrote what was to become the back bone of the anarchist theory in years to come. The pamphlet declared that power corrupts the minds of the people and freedom is unachievable with the existence of property.

In an experiment, Gerrard Winstanley established an anarchist community on a hillside with his followers. Ironically the community was destroyed by government oppression. Anarchism quickly spread its roots through the world and by 1845 it reached Spain and the first anarchist journal was established, but it was quickly destroyed by government censorship. Anarchism in Spain gained more and more followers, in 1870 there were as many as 40 000, by 1873 there were 60 000 followers.

Despite anarchism growing popularity in Spain, the movement was forced underground in 1874, by 1880 the Spanish anarchist front resorted to violence and terrorism. It wasnt until the Spanish Civil War of 1936 that anarchist ideals were given an opportunity to be placed in to action. Railways, factories and land were seized and taken over, libertarian villages were established and the internal usage of money was abolished. Within these libertarian villages the land was tilled collectively, products were distributed to each family according to their need and at equal shares.

Due to their inability to sub stain warfare the anarchists failed, yet they succeeded in inspiring many people and showing the world that anarchism is possible. American anarchism was mainly sub stained by immigration from Europe and by the 1800s anarchism was a large part of life for many people. America saw its fair share of anarchist activity. The Haymarket riot in Chicago left 7 policemen dead and 1 anarchist severally injured. In 1901 president McKinley was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czlogosz.

Due to violent acts including riots, bombings, assignations and kidnappings, anarchists are often perceived and mindless individuals and dangerous violent people, which is not entirely true. Anarchism has its pacifists who do not advocate the usage of violence and believe that the government can be brought down through peaceful and political means. The punk movement of the late 70s and early 80s associated its self with anarchy and anarchist ideals because of its wild unconformist past.

Anarchy and anarchist imagery were used primarily for shock value and nothing more. This became known and the anarco-punk scene. Anarco punks adopted what they call an anarchy symbol which consists of an irregular capitol A in the centre of a circle. This anarchy symbol has become the primary symbol for aggression and non conformity based on punk ideals. Anarchism took on a whole new meaning in 1977 with the release of The Sex Pistols first single I wanna Be Anarchy. The lyrics advocated a violent anarchist society and mindless destruction.

Locke, Berkeley, and Hume

Enlightenment began with an unparalleled confidence in human reason. The new science’s success in making clear the natural world through Locke, Berkeley, and Hume affected the efforts of philosophy in two ways. The first is by locating the basis of human knowledge in the human mind and its encounter with the physical world. Second is by directing philosophy’s attention to an analysis of the mind that was capable of such cognitive success. John Locke set the tone for enlightenment by affirming the foundational principle of empiricism: There is nothing in the intellect that was not previously in the senses.

Locke could not accept the Cartesian rationalist belief in innate ideas. According to Locke, all knowledge of the world must ultimately rest on man’s sensory experience. The mind arrives at sound conclusions through reflection after sensation. In other words the mind combines and compounds sensory impressions or “ideas” into more complex concepts building it’s conceptual understanding. There was skepticism in the empiricist position mainly from the rationalist orientation.

Locke recognized there was no guarantee that all human ideas of things genuinely resembled the external objects they were suppose to represent. He also realized he could not reduce all complex ideas, such as substance, to sensations. He did know there were three factors in the process of human knowledge: the mind, the physical object, and the perception or idea in the mind that represents that object. Locke, however, attempted a partial solution to such problems. He did this by making the distinction between primary and secondary qualities.

Primary qualities produce ideas that are simply consequences of the subject’s perceptual apparatus. With focusing on the Primary qualities it is thought that science can gain reliable knowledge of the material world. Locke fought off skepticism with the argument that in the end both types of qualities must be regarded as experiences of the mind. Lockes Doctrine of Representation was therefore undefendable. According to Berkley’s analysis all human experience is phenomenal, limited to appearances in the mind.

One’s perception of nature is one’s mental experience of nature, making all sense data “objects for the mind” and not representations of material substances. In effect while Locke had reduced all mental contents to an ultimate basis in sensation, Berkeley now further reduced all sense data to mental contents. The distinction, by Locke, between qualities that belong to the mind and qualities that belong to matter could not be sustained. Berkeley sought to overcome the contemporary tendency toward “atheistic Materialism” which he felt arose without just cause with modern science.

The empiricist correctly aims that all knowledge rests on experience. In the end, however, Berkeley pointed out that experience is nothing more than experience. All representations, mentally, of supposed substances, materially, are as a final result ideas in the mind presuming that the existence of a material world external to the mind as an unwarranted assumption. The idea is that “to be” does not mean “to be a material substance;” rather “to be” means “to be perceived by a mind. ” Through this Berkeley held that the individual mind does not subjectively determine its experience of the world.

The reason that different individuals continually percieve a similar world and that a reliable order inheres in that world is that the world and its order depend on a mind that transcends individual minds and is universal (God’s mind). The universal mind produces sensory ideas in individual minds according to certain regularities such as the “laws of nature. ” Berkeley strived to preserve the empiricist orientation and solve Lockes representation problems, while also preserving a spiritual foundation for human experience. Just as Berkeley followed Locke, so did David Hume of Berkeley.

Hume drove the empiricist epistemological critique to its final extreme by using Berkeley’s insight only turning it in a direction more characteristic of the modern mind. Being an empiricist who grounded all human knowledge in sense experience, Hume agreed with Lockes general idea, and too with Berkeley’s criticism of Lockes theory of representation, but disagreed with Berkeley’s idealist solution. Behind Hume’s analysis is this thought: Human experience was indeed of the phenomenal only, of sense impressions, but there was no way to ascertain what was beyond the sense impressions, spiritual or otherwise.

To start his analysis, Hume distinguished between sensory impressions and ideas. Sensory impressions being the basis of any knowledge coming with a force of liveliness and ideas being faint copies of those impressions. The question is then asked, What causes the sensory impression? Hume answered None. If the mind analyzes it’s experience without preconception, it must recognize that in fact all its supposed knowledge is based on a continuous chaotic volley of discrete sensations, and that on these sensations the mind imposes an order of its own.

The mind can’t really know what causes the sensations because it never experiences “cause” as a sensation. What the mind does experience is simple impressions, through an association of ideas the mind assumes a causal relation that really has no basis in a sensory impression. Man can not assume to know what exists beyond the impressions in his mind that his knowledge is based on. Part of Hume’s intention was to disprove the metaphysical claims of philosophical rationalism and its deductive logic. According to Hume, two kinds of propositions are possible.

One view is based purely on sensation while the other purely on intellect. Propositions based on sensation are always with matters of concrete fact that can also be contingent. “It is raining outside” is a proposition based on sensation because it is concrete in that it is in fact raining out and contingent in the fact that it could be different outside like sunny, but it is not. In contrast to that a proposition based on intellect concerns relations between concepts that are always necessary like “all squares have four equal sides.

But the truths of pure reason are necessary only because they exist in a self contained system with no mandatory reference to the external world. Only logical definition makes them true by making explicit what is implicit in their own terms, and these can claim no necessary relation to the nature of things. So, the only truths of which pure reason is capable are redundant. Truth cannot be asserted by reason alone for the ultimate nature of things. For Hume, metaphysics was just an exalted form of mythology, of no relevance to the real world. A more disturbing consequence of Hume’s analysis was its undermining of empirical science itself.

The mind’s logical progress from many particulars to a universal certainty could never be absolutely legitimated. Just because event B has always been seen to follow event A in the past, that does not mean it will always do so in the future. Any acceptance of that “law” is only an ingrained psychological persuasion, not a logical certainty. The causal necessity that is apparent in phenomena is the necessity only of conviction subjectively, of human imagination controlled by its regular association of ideas. It has no objective basis. The regularity of events can be perceived, however, there necessity can not.

The result is nothing more than a subjective feeling brought on by the experience of apparent regularity. Science is possible, but of the phenomenal only, determined by human psychology. With Hume, the festering empiricist stress on sense perception was brought to its ultimate extreme, in which only the volley and chaos of those perceptions exist, and any order imposed on those perceptions was arbitrary, human, and without objective foundation. For Hume all human knowledge had to be regarded as opinion and he held that ideas were faint copies of sensory impressions instead of vice – versa.

Not only was the human mind less than perfect, it could never claim access to the world’s order, which could not be said to exist apart from the mind. Locke had retained a certain faith in the capacity of the human mind to grasp, however imperfectly, the general outlines of an external world by means of combining operations. With Berkeley, there had been no necessary material basis for experience, though the mind had retained a certain independent spiritual power derived from God’s mind, and the world experienced by the mind derived its order from the same source.

The Metaethics of Ayn Rand and Objectivism

Despised by academics, passionately loved by her followers, Ayn Rand, the novelist-philosopher, has evicted the whole gambit of emotions and responses. Her work has been ridiculed and praised. Her followers’ devotion has produced outcries of cultism, allowing one author to write a stirring critique[1] and another a book. [2] Despite this, Ayn Rand remains, one of the most polarizing writers of the 20th century. Barbara Branden, a longtime associate, wrote of her: Few figures in this century have been so admired and so savagely attacked.

She is viewed as goddess and as malefactor, as a seminal enius and an ominously dangerous corrupter of the young, as the mightiest voices for reason and the destroyer of traditional values, as the espouser of joy and the exponent of mindless greed, as the great defender of freedom and the introducer of malevolent values into the mainstream of American thought. [3] Her followers can be found in the Federal Reserve, with Chairman Allan Greenspan, who some 53% of respondents[4] gave the responsibility of the current economic boom in the United States of America, bypassing such important institutions as the Clinton Presidency and Congress.

Rand was reatly known for her literary works, the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, the former, presenting the idealized man, the latter presenting an idealized conception of life, society and politics. Despite Ms. Rand’s popularity, academia has been slow to produce many scholarly books on her or her philosophy, which she has labeled as Objectivism. Indeed, much of academia, an overcrowded cesspool of contemporary liberalism and postmodernity, has shunned her, precisely because of her strong ideological contempt for them and their views.

Rand herself had an unyielding contempt for the intellectual atmosphere of her ime. In her book, For the New Intellectual, she wrote, “The majority of those who posture as intellectuals today are frightened zombies, posturing in a vacuum of their own making, who admit their abdication from the realm of the intellect by embracing such doctrines as Existentialism and Zen Buddhism. “[5] Her passionate defense of values such as: capitalism, reason, egoism, and atheism, made her enemies in every intellectual circle.

William Buckley’s conservative magazine, the National Review, reviewed Atlas Shrugged, accusing her of fascism and totalitarianism. [6] Liberal ritics were no less scathing in their attacks. Granville Hicks of the New York Times wrote, “Loudly as Miss Rand proclaims her love of life, it seems clear that the book is written out of hate… “[7] However, throughout this bombardment of negative contempt and accusatory rhetoric, sales of Rand’s works were exponential. [8] It seems for all her “hate” and intellectual naivet, people across North America were tuning in to Ayn Rand’s message.

A message that refused compromise and irrationality, a message that worshiped the self, a message that romanticized greatness, a message of perennial importance. The Early Ayn Rand Ayn Rand, the woman, was born and raised in Moscow, Russia, under the name Alice Rosenbaum. [9] Born of Jewish heritage, in a country ruled by a despotic Czar and a mystic Church, she was even as a child, a bright and enigmatic figure. Her mother attempted in vain to instill femininity in the young Ayn Rand but to no avail. Instead, even as a child, the young Ayn Rand derived her value from her mind.

In 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution would take place and life would never be the same for Ayn Rand. For Rand, Russia seemed to be antithetical to her own life and beliefs. Rand “saw Russia as a nation that glorified the tragic and the malevolent, glorified the very qualities that were the antithesis of what she wanted in her own life and what she wanted to create in her stories. “[10] Rand, disgusted by the disintegration of her country and family, fled joyfully to America. Moving to Los Angeles from New York, Rand flirted with cinematic writing and met her future husband, Frank O’Connor.

The drama and flair of the cinema is an apt career, considering her dramatic and idealistic literary style and beliefs. Rand wrote stage plays and screenplays in this eriod, as well as her first published novel, We the Living. We the Living was her most autobiographical work. The novel centered on a love triangle in Soviet Russia and the destruction of the protagonists by the antagonistic Communist state government. It is during this period of Rand’s life that her Nietzschian influence would most shine through.

We the Living contains many Nietzsche-like qualities of bravery, courage, and contempt for the masses and/or proletariat, not seen in other Rand novels and novella. Rand subsequently edited portions of We the Living, purging some of its Nietzschian qualities. 11] The affect of Nietzsche on Ayn Rand is often misunderstood. Many academics have unfortunately associated Rand with only Nietzsche, disregarding the more obvious intellectual influence of Aristotle and Enlightenment figures, such as John Locke. However, Nietzsche did hold some influence over the young Rand.

His influence is perhaps more spiritual than ideological. Nietzsche’s romanticized overman (or superman) and his idealization of aristocratic values found an ally in Rand. Rand’s two main protagonists, Howard Roark (Fountainhead) and John Galt (Atlas Shrugged), have definite Nietzschian overtones. They are both trong and uncompromising individuals, concerned only with their own values and life. Ronald E. Merril characterized Nietzsche’s influence on Rand as such, “It is clear that Rand, as a philosopher and as a writer, derived much of her intellectual impulse from Nietzsche.

Yet, as we shall see, she was in the end by no means his follower. “[12] Rand clearly departed from Nietzsche, in some fundamental aspects, especially concerning metaethics, as we shall see later. The Literary Period Ayn Rand’s second and third novels, the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged respectively, are her grandest literary achievements. The two novels could be viewed as a micro and macro view of her philosophy. The Fountainhead displays the protagonist Howard Roark, an uncompromising architect, who blows up a building project because its style and design have been changed from his original form.

Rand presents Roark’s life as a sort of archetype for humanity to follow, not in his specific occupational or situational actions, but in the spirit of the man. Roark values his own life as an end in itself, against those “looters” and “second-handers” that wish to dispose of his work and genius. His uncompromising individualism haracterizes Rand’s normative ethics of rational selfishness or self- interest. While the Fountainhead concentrates on the individual and his fight to uncompromising greatness, Atlas Shrugged approaches a philosophical treatise in novel form.

The title displays a great Randian device of using mythic imagery with striking clarity. Atlas, the Greek god, who held the world on his shoulders, is used as a metaphor for the great men who hold the world on their shoulders. These men are the producers, inventors, innovators, and great intellectuals (as Rand perceives them). As the title uggests, the novel is centered on what would happen if these men were to “shrug” as it were, and withdraw their ideas and production from the world. In apocalyptic fashion, the world collapses without them.

John Galt, the main protagonist who is shrouded much of the novel, gives a speech to the disintegrating society of epic proportions, lasting over fifty pages. [13] Galt speaks to the philosophical underpinnings of the society’s problems, employing metaphysics, ethics, politics, and epistemology. Galt’s speech echoes the whole of Atlas Shrugged, which attempts to show the socio- conomic, political, ethical and philosophical implications of Ayn Rand’s vision. Galt concludes his speech saying in grandiose fashion, “I swear-by my life and my love of it-that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. [14] Rand’s sense of life, as displayed by Galt, has deep roots in metaethical issues, as we shall soon see.

The Philosophical Period While much of Ayn Rand’s beliefs are evident from her novels, questioning readers and students began desiring a more systemized and concrete vision of her philosophy. At the behest of friends, Rand embarked on a non-fiction writing career. She exploded on the scene, after an anthology work, in typical polemical Randian style, with The Virtue of Selfishness. This brief book, containing different essays written by Rand, explores normative Objectivist ethics.

Rand wrote other non-fiction works, including, the Anti-Industrial Revolution, Philosophy: Who Needs It, For the New Intellectual, the Romantic Manifesto, and an Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. In this period, Rand systematically engineered a new philosophy. Rand covered the gambit of intellectual and academic subjects, including: metaphysics, religion, epistemology, ethics, esthetics, psychology, politics, love, and sexuality, not to mention her commentary on contemporary intellectual, political and cultural trends of her day.

In short, Rand was a writer of broad interest. She felt the pull towards a systemized worldview, which remained integrated from one subject to another. This pull towards integration was to be a hallmark of her philosophy. The dichotomies between fact and value, reason and emotions, mind and body, would find no place in Rand’s thought. Rather, her thought typified a drive towards a full and integrated anthropology. Her philosophy and ethics are anthropocentric and proudly so.

As Rand put it, “Man must choose his actions, values and goals by the standard of that which is proper to man-in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value, that end in itself, which is his own life. “[15] Rand was profoundly aware of the implicit notions of differing philosophical theories and their effects on both the society and the individual. Thus, she took intellectual exercise to be a fundamental necessary human act, an act that caused two world wars and both an industrial and American revolution. For Rand there was no dichotomy between the academy and real life, they were in separately linked.

Anselm’s Ontological Argument and the Philosophers

Saint Anselm of Aosta, Bec, and Canterbury, perhaps during a moment of enlightenment or starvation-induced hallucination, succeeded in formulating an argument for God’s existence which has been debated for almost a thousand years. It shows no sign of going away soon. It is an argument based solely on reason, distinguishing it from other arguments for the existence of God such as cosmological or teleological arguments. These latter arguments respectively depend on the world’s causes or design, and thus may weaken as new scientific advances are made (such as Darwin’s theory of evolution).

We can be sure that no such fate will happen to Anselm’s Ontological Argument (the name, by the way, coined by Kant). In form, Anselm’s arguments are much like the arguments we see in philosophy today. In Cur Deus Homo we read Anselm’s conversation with a skeptic. This sort of question-and-answer form of argumentation (dialectic) is very much like the writings of Plato. The skeptic, Boso, question’s Anselm’s faith with an array of questions non-believers still ask today. Anselm answers in a step- by-step manner, asking for confirmation along the way, until he arrives at a onclusion with which Boso is forced to agree.

This is just like Socrates’ procedure with, say, Crito. Later philosophers have both accepted and denied the validity of Anselm’s famous ontological argument for the existence of God, presented in both the Proslogium and Monologium. Anselm did not first approach the argument with an open mind, then examine its components with a critical eye to see which side was best. Anselm had made up his mind about the issue long before he began to use dialectic to attempt to dissect it.

Indeed, the extreme ardor which mpels him to search everywhere for arguments favorable to the dogma, is a confession his part that the dogma needs support, that it is debatable, that it lacks self-evidence, the criterion of truth. ” (Weber, V) In chapters 2-4 of his Proslogium, Anselm summarizes the argument. A fool is one who denies the existence of God. But even that fool understands the definition of God, “a being than which nothing greater can be conceived. ” But the fool says that this definition exists only in his mind, and not in reality.

But, Anselm observes, a being which exists in both reality and in the nderstanding would be greater than one that merely exists only in the understanding. So the definition of God, one that points to “a being than which nothing greater can be conceived”, points toward a being which exists both in reality and in the understanding. It would be impossible to hold the conception of God in this manner, and yet deny that He exists in reality. The argument was criticized by one of Anselm’s contemporaries, a monk named Gaunilo, who said, that by Anselm’s reasoning, one could imagine a certain island, more perfect than any other island.

If this island can exist in the ind, then according to Anselm, it would necessarily exist in reality, for a ‘perfect’ island would have this quality. But this is obviously false; we cannot make things exist merely by imagining them. Anselm replied, upholding his argument (in many, many words) by saying that they are comparing apples and oranges. An island is something that can be thought of not to exist, whereas the non-existence of “that than which a greater cannot be conceived is inconceivable. ” (Reply, ch.. 3) Only for God is it inconceivable not to exist; mere islands or other things do not fit this quality.

Copleston sums it up succinctly (for Anselm doesn’t): “it would be absurd to speak of a merely possible necessary being (it is a contradiction in terms), whereas there is no contradiction in speaking of merely possible beautiful islands. St. Thomas Aquinas rejects the argument, saying that the human mind cannot possibly conceive of the idea of God by reason alone (a-priori), as Anselm might. The argument does not make sense by itself, and must first provide an idea of the existence of God with an analysis of God’s effects (a- posteriori), to which Thomas turns.

I think there is evidence in Anselm’s ritings that he would disagree, saying that the idea of God is an innate one given to us by God, and needs no other revelation to bring it about. “Hence, this being, through its greater likeness, assists the investigating mind in the approach to supreme Truth; and through its more excellent created essence, teaches the more correctly what opinion the mind itself ought to form regarding the Creator. ” (Monologium, ch. 66) Although St. Thomas was obviously a believer, he was not swayed by the idea of reason alone being sufficient to prove God’s existence.

His objection f the human mind’s capability to ascertain God is echoed by other philosophers such as Kierkegaard (who was also a Christian): “The paradoxical passion of the Reason thus comes repeatedly into collision with the Unknown… and cannot advance beyond this point. [Of God:] How do I know? I cannot know it, for in order to know it, I would have to know the God, and the nature of the difference between God and man; and this I cannot know, because the Reason has reduced it to likeness with that from which it was unlike. (Kierkegaard, 57)

Anselm disagrees, and explains why illumination of God through rational iscourse brings Man closer to God. “So, undoubtedly, a greater knowledge of the creative Being is attained, the more nearly the creature through which the investigation is made approaches that Being. ” (Monologium, ch. 66) Descartes restates Anselm’s argument for his own purposes, which include defining what sorts of knowledge is around that is grounded in certainty. Most later philosophers tend to use Decartes’ formulation of the argument in their analyses.

Required for Descartes’ project is God, who granted humans the reasoning capability with which we can cognate truths. The form of Anselm’s rgument he uses involves defining ‘existence’ as one of God’s many perfections. “Existence is a part of the concept of a perfect being; anyone who denied that a perfect being had the property existence would be like someone who denied that a triangle had the property three-sidedness… the mind cannot conceive of triangularity without also conceiving of three-sidedness… the mind cannot conceive of perfection without also conceiving of existence. (Fifth Meditation)

Several philosophers ask what properties necessarily should be ascribed to God, and if existence is one of them. Lotze asks how a being’s real existence logically follows from its perfectness. This deduction, Lotze says, satisfies our sentimental values that our ideals must exist. “Why should this thought [a perfect being’s unreality] disturb us? Plainly for this reason, that it is an immediate certainty that what is greatest, most beautiful, most worthy, is not a mere thought, but must be a reality, because it would be intolerable to believe [otherwise].

If what is greatest did not exist, then what is the greatest would not be, and it is not impossible that that which is greatest of ll conceivable things should not be. ” (Lotze, 669) The mind can contrive wonderful and fantastic things. Where is the fallacy in thinking of a perfect, unreal something? Descartes’ formulation which ascribes ‘existence’ to a most perfect being leads us to the most famous objection to Anselm’s argument, from Kant. Kant has a problem with treating ‘existence’ as a property of a thing, that it makes no sense to talk of things which have the property of existence and others which do.

Consider the plausible situation of asking my roommate Matthew to get me a beer. “What kind of beer? he replies. “Oh, Budweiser. And a cold one, at that. Also an existing one, if you’ve got any,” I might specify. Something just seems amiss. For Kant, when you take away ‘existence’ from a concept of a thing, there is nothing left to deal with. It makes no sense to talk of an omniscient, all-powerful, all-good God, nor of a red-and-white, cold, non-existent Budweiser. A thing either exists, with properties, or it doesn’t.

Where Descartes and Anselm would say you are making a logical contradiction by saying “God does not exist” because of the fact that this statement conflicts with the ery concept of God including the property of existence, with Kant, making this sort of a statement involves no contradiction. For postulating non-existence as a part of a thing’s concept sort of negates any argumentative power that the concept’s other qualities might have had. A concept of a thing should focus on its defining qualities, such as cold and Budweiser, rather than on its existence.

Anselm’s original reply to Gaulino might be applicable here in a defense against Kant. Perhaps it is possible to deny the existence of mere things (be they islands or Budweisers) without logical contradiction, but in the case of a ost-perfect being, ‘existence’ must be part of its concept. Perhaps it is possible that an island can be said not to have existed, maybe if tectonic plates hadn’t shifted in a certain way. But God is not bound by the constraints of causality; God transcends cause, existing throughout all time.

So in the concept of God is ‘existence’, as well as His various other attributes. So to say “God does not exist” is contradictory, after all. Kant counters this with a devastating blow. He reduces the ontological argument to a tautology: “The concept of an all-perfect being includes existence. “We hold this concept in our minds, therefore the being must exist. ” “Thus, an existent being exists. ” Even if we grant the argument numerous favors, letting it escape from plenty of foibles, in the end, it still doesn’t really tell us anything revealing.

All the trouble and labour bestowed on the famous ontological or Cartesian proof of the existence of a supreme Being from concepts alone is trouble and labour wasted. A man might as well expect to become richer in knowledge by the aid of mere ideas as a merchant to increase his wealth by adding some noughts to his cash-account. ” (Kant, 630) Anselm’s argument was not designed to convince unbelievers, but to be food for believers like Gaunilo who wished see what results the tool of dialectic will bring if applied to the question of God.

While today the argument seems weak, or even whimsical, it is a brave attempt to go without dogma in explaining God. The argument “must stand or fall by its sheer dialectical force. A principal reason of our difficulty in appreciating its power may well be that pure dialectic makes but a weak appeal to our minds. ” (Knowles, 106) I think I stand with St. Thomas and Kierkegaard in this matter, for it eems that a purely logical argument of God’s existence is somewhat out of place.

One must be in a position of “faith seeking understanding”, in an a-posteriori state of mind to appreciate an a-priori proof such as this. This is somewhat odd and unsettling, for I tend to agree with logically sound arguments at all other intersections of my life. It seems as if Church dogma these days accentuates the mystery of God, staying away from reasoning such as Anselm’s to attract followers. For to have faith in the mystery is what is admirable. One should not be tempted to attend church smugly because it is illogical not to.

Hume on Miracles

In explaining Humes critique of the belief in miracles, we must first understand the definition of a miracle. The Webster Dictionary defines a miracle as: a supernatural event regarded as to define action, one of the acts worked by Christ which revealed his divinity an extremely remarkable achievement or event, an unexpected piece of luck. Therefore, a miracle is based on ones perception of past experiences, what everyone sees. It is based on an individuals own reality, and the faith in which he/she believes in, it is based on interior events such as what we are taught, and exterior events, such as what we hear or see first hand.

When studying Humes view of a miracle, he interprets or defines a miracle as such; a miracle is a violation of the laws of nature, an event which is not normal to most of mankind. Hume explains this point brilliantly when he states, Nothing is esteemed a miracle, if it has ever happened in the common course of nature. It is no miracle that a man seemingly in good health should die on a sudden. (Hume p. 888) Hume states that this death is quite unusual, however it seemed to happen naturally.

He could only define it as a true miracle if this dead man were to come back to life. This would be a miraculous event because such an experience has not yet been commonly observed. In which case, his philosophical view of a miracle would be true. Hume critiques and discredits the belief in a miracle merely because it goes against the laws of nature. Hume defines the laws of nature to be what has been uniformly observed by mankind, such as the laws of identity and gravity. He views society as being far to liberal in what they consider to be a miracle.

He gives the reader four ideas to support his philosophy in defining a true miracle, or the belief in a miracle. These points leads us to believe that there has never been a miraculous event established. Humes first reason in contradicting a miracle is, in all of history there has not been a miraculous event with a sufficient number of witnesses. He questions the integrity of the men and the reputation in which they hold in society. If their reputation holds great integrity, then and only then can we have full assurance in the testimony of men.

Hume is constantly asking throughout the passage questions to support proof for a miracle. He asks questions such as this; Who is qualified? Who has the authority to say who qualifies? As he asks these questions we can see there are no real answers, in which case, it tends to break the validity of the witnesses to the miracle. Humes second reason in contradicting the validity of a miracle is that he views all of our beliefs, or what we choose to accept, or not accept through past experience and what history dictates to us.

Furthermore, he tends to discredit an individual by playing on a human beings consciousness or sense of reality. An example is; using words such as, the individuals need for excitement and wonder arising from miracles. Even the individual who can not enjoy the pleasure immediately will still believe in a miracle, regardless of the possible validity of the miracle. With this, it leads the individual to feel a sense of belonging and a sense of pride. These individuals tend to be the followers within society. These individuals will tend to believe faster than the leaders in the society.

With no regard to the miracles validity, whether it is true or false, or second hand information. Miracles lead to such strong temptations, that we as individuals tend to lose sense of our own belief of fantasy and reality. As individuals we tend to believe to find attention, and to gossip of the unknown. Through emotions and behavior Hume tends to believe there has been many forged miracles, regardless if the information is somewhat valid or not. His third reason in discrediting the belief in a miracle is testimony versus reality.

Hume states, It forms a strong presumption against all supernatural and miraculous events, that they are observed chiefly to abound among ignorant and barbarous ancestors; or if civilized people has ever given admission to any of them, that people will be found to have received them from these barbarous ancestors, who transmitted them with that inviolable sanction and authority, which always attend perceived opinions. (Hume p. 891) In any case many of the miraculous events which happened in past history would not be considered a miracle in todays world, or at any other time in history.

The reality most people believed at that period, as a result can be considered lies or exaggerations. Hume discredits the miracle as to the time period in which the miracle is taking place, the mentality, or the reality of individuals at that given time. Hume suggests that during certain times in history we are told of miraculous accounts of travelers. Because we as individuals love to wonder, there is an end to common sense, and human testimony, in these circumstances, loses all pretensions to authority. (Hume p. 0)

The final point Hume gives to discredit the validity of a miracle is that there must be a number of witnesses to validate the miracle. So that not only the miracle destroys the credit of testimony, but the testimony destroys itself. (Hume p. 892). This basically means that the witnesses must all give the exact same testimony of the facts of the event. Hume finds difficulty in the belief or integrity of any individual, and the difficulty of detecting falsehood in any private or even public place in history. Where it is said to happen much more when the scene is removed to ever so small a distance.

Hume p. 892) A court of justice with accuracy and judgment may find themselves often distinguishing between true and false. If it is trusted to society through debate, rumors, and mans passion it tends to be difficult to trust the validity of the miracle. Throughout the rest of the readings Hume states a few events which many believe are miracles. He discredits many these miracles through his critiques. I have chosen to illustrate two so-called miracles from the New American Bible and to show how Hume would view these miracles.

The stories are of Noahs Ark and The Burning Bush. The story of Noahs Ark took place when the Lord began to realize how great mans wickedness on earth had become. He began to regret the fact that he had created man on earth. The lord decided the only way to rid the wickedness would be to destroy all men, and all living creatures living on the earth. The only men in which he would not destroy were to be Noah, his sons, Noahs wife and his sons wives. He also would save a pair of animals. Of each species. The rest were to perish from the earth.

He chose Noah to be the favor and carry out the task. The Lord requested Noah to build a ark explained exactly how it was to be made. Noah spent six hundred years of his life building the ark in which God insisted upon. When the ark was finally complete The Lord told Noah it was time to gather the selected few the floods were about to come. These floods lasted forty days and forty nights. The floods wiped out all living creatures on earth, except all on the ark. In the six hundred and first year of Noahs life the floods stopped and the earth began to dry.

Noah then built an alter to the Lord and choosing from every clean animal he offered holocaust on the alter. As God states Never again will I doom the earth because of man, since the desires of mans heart are evil from the start; nor will I ever strike down all living beings, as I have done. In deciding upon whether this is a valid miracle in Humes opinion of miracles I believe he would consider it to be a miracle but, would have a hard time validating the testimony of it. The reasons in which he would criticize the validity with in the testimony would be as follows.

The testimony versus the reality. To further support the theory he would argue the time period in which the miracle had taken place. And would find it difficult to believe with out a reasonable doubt. There is a question to whether it could be lies or exaggerations. Furthermore, it could not possibly be a validated miracle considering the amount of men in which witnessed the event. As well a s questioning the integrity of the men. Although this miracle was a act of God we can still question the validity of our ancestors or God for that matter.

Hume would not be satisfied not only with the integrity of the individuals but the amount of witnesses at the given time. Therefore we can only view this as a miracle depending upon our own individual perceptions of what we believe to be true. This leads to a non uniform event since we as individuals hold different beliefs of what we hold true, and false. The second miracle in which I will discuss was that of Moses and the burning bush. As Moses was working in the fields a angel of the Lord appeared to him in fire flaming out of the holy bush.

Almost amazing the bush was full of flames but was yet not consumed. As he walked closer he heard the voice, the voice of God telling Moses he was the chosen one to take the Israelites out of Egypt away from the cruel hands of the Egyptians. In disbelief that he was the chosen one he set forth on his journey to Egypt with God watching over him and leading the way. As Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt he comes to the Red Sea with the Egyptians close behind. As the bible explains the miracle takes place the Red Sea splits leading the Israelites to freedom.

As the Egyptians were crossing the sea it closed its gates and let them drown with in the waters of the sea. In justifying whether Hume would discredit this miracle he would definitely see how one may say it is a miracle, but again would have a hard time validating the testimony of the miracle. Again we see the pattern of the fact that there is no one to testify for the event. We can only view this as a truthful experience through our belief in God and the bible. It is what we are taught to believe through religious texts, and our house of worship.

It is the individuals perception of reality and what he or she believes to be a valid event. In conclusion, a miracle is actually based on an individuals own perception of past and present experiences. The belief in a miraculous event tends to have no real evidence through mans hope, it tends to be something better through our expectations. I can not debate the belief of a miracle. There is no right or wrong belief. It is viewed through our own individual perception and faith, our existence and sense of reality.

The Enlightenment and the Role of the Philosophes

The Enlightenment is a name given by historians to an intellectual movement that was predominant in the Western world during the 18th century. Strongly influenced by the rise of modern science and by the aftermath of the long religious conflict that followed the Reformation, the thinkers of the Enlightenment (called philosophes in France) were committed to secular views based on reason or human understanding only, which they hoped would provide a basis for beneficial changes affecting every area of life and thought.

The more extreme and radical philosophes–Denis Diderot, Claude Adrien Helvetius, Baron ‘Holbach, the Marquis de Condorcet, and Julien Offroy de La Mettrie (1709-51)–advocated a philosophical rationalism deriving its methods from science and natural philosophy that would replace religion as the means of knowing nature and destiny of humanity; these men were materialists, pantheists, or atheists. Other enlightened thinkers, such as Pierre Bayle, Voltaire, David Hume, Jean Le Rond D’alembert, and Immanuel Kant, opposed fanaticism, but were either agnostic or left room for some kind of religious faith.

All of the philosophes saw themselves as continuing the work of the great 17th century ioneers–Francis Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Leibnitz, Isaac Newton, and John Locke–who had developed fruitful methods of rational and empirical inquiry and had demonstrated the possibility of a world remade by the application of knowledge for human benefit. The philosophes believed that science could reveal nature as it truly is and show how it could be controlled and manipulated. This belief provided an incentive to extend scientific methods into every field of inquiry, thus laying the groundwork for the development of the modern social sciences.

The enlightened understanding of human nature was one that emphasized the right to self- expression and human fulfillment, the right to think freely and express one’s views publicly without censorship or fear of repression. Voltaire admired the freedom he found in England and fostered the spread of English ideas on the Continent. He and his followers opposed the intolerance of the established Christian churches of their day, as well as the European governments that controlled and suppressed dissenting opinions.

For example, the social disease which Pangloss caught from Paquette was traced to a “very learned Franciscan” and ater to a Jesuit. Also, Candide reminisces that his passion for Cunegonde first developed at a Mass. More conservative enlightened thinkers, concerned primarily with efficiency and administrative order, favored the “enlightened despotism” of such monarchs as Emperor Joseph II, Frederick II of Prussia, and Catherine II of Russia. Enlightened political thought expressed demands for equality and justice and for the legal changes needed to realize these goals.

Set forth by Baron de Montesquieu, the changes were more boldly urged by the contributors to the great Encyclopedie edited in Paris by Diderot etween 1747 and 1772, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Cesare Beccaria, and finally by Jeremy Bentham, whose utilitarianism was the culmination of a long debate on happiness and the means of achieving it. The political writers of the Enlightenment built on and extended the rationalistic, republican, and natural-law theories that had been evolved in the previous century as the bases of law, social peace, and just order.

As they did so, they also elaborated novel doctrines of popular sovereignty that the 19th century would transform into a kind of ationalism that contradicted the individualistic outlook of the philosophes. Among those who were important in this development were historians such as Voltaire, Hume, William Robertson, Edward Gibbon, and Giambattista Vico. Their work showed that although all peoples shared a common human nature, each nation and every age also had distinctive characteristics that made it unique.

These paradoxes were explored by early romantics such as Johann Georg Hamman and Johann Gottfried von Herder. Everywhere the Enlightenment produced restless men impatient for change but frustrated by opular ignorance and official repression. This gave the enlightened literati an interest in popular education. They promoted educational ventures and sought in witty, amusing, and even titillating ways to educate and awaken their contemporaries.

The stories of Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle or Benjamin Franklin, the widely imitated essays of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, and many dictionaries, handbooks, and encyclopedias produced by the enlightened were written to popularize, simplify, and promote a more reasonable view of life among the people of their time. The Enlightenment came to an end in western Europe after the upheavals of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era (1789-1815) revealed the costs of its political program and the lack of commitment in those whose rhetoric was often more liberal than their actions.

Nationalism undercut its cosmopolitan values and assumptions about human nature, and the romantics attacked its belief that clear intelligible answers could be found to every question asked by people who sought to be free and happy. The skepticism of the philosophes was swept away in the religious revival of the 1790s and early 1800s, and the ultural leadership of the landed aristocracy and professional men who had supported the Enlightenment was eroded by the growth of a new wealthy educated class of businessmen, products of the industrial revolution.

Only in North and South America, where industry came later and revolution had not led to reaction, did the Enlightenment linger into the 19th century. Its lasting heritage has been its contribution to the literature of human freedom and some institutions in which its values have been embodied. Included in the latter are many facets of modern government, education, and philanthropy.

Killing of a King

In order to help us understand the meaning of Philosophy we must first understand the long debates regarding what it means to be human, and how “being” differs from “to be”. Does an individual become human or is “that” individual only “that” individual? How does being differ from to be? The fundamental capacity to understand the world outside the world of the individual and his or her internal world includes the ability to interpret, characterize, and associate what things seem to be singular, or at least, singular groups of things.

Understanding the process of being as compared to the process of becoming and distinctly separate concepts for Plato, Pieper, and Thoreau are directly related to that capacity of understanding. For Plato, the physical things of the world must have bodily form. They must be both visible and tangible, yet their state of being is not the same thing as their essence. Plato, through his stories of Socrates and Socrates views, began the debate that has served both as an intellectual argument and an effort to understand human existence for millennia.

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote about his account of an extended stay in the woods. Thoreau wrote that he wanted to follow nature’s example, to “see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived” (Walden 172). And, for Pieper, God’s role in the life of every individual and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, courage, temperance, and love are the ways by which human beings understood truth. He believed the natural world would reveal its truth if and when one had the proper attitude toward the divine.

Clearly, from the most ancient of times to only a century ago, humanity has sought to understand its place in the order of the cosmos and has predicated deal of its philosophical wonderings on that search. It is important to understand that Socrates’ primary goal was to require people to think. Certainly, his most famous statement ever was that the “unexamined life was not worth living precisely because an examined life was essential to answering the question “how should I live my life? ” Apology 63).

He also was determined that his words be conveyed on a level by which people could better understand their own motives and thoughts and, thus, allow them to be much more aware of why they made certain decisions or took specific actions. The “doctrine” of Socrates was one that was expressed in terms of a symbolism of love, truth, and humility, all of which were embodied in the personality of Socrates himself. The “apprehension and appreciation” of formal reality is what makes life worth living, according to Socrates. Of equal importance is the fact that it also makes one moral.

Therefore, it seems clear that in order to fully cultivate the most meaningful life, one must be willing to look inward toward the reality of one’s own life and beliefs in order to understand what it is to be fully alive. Without that willingness to “examine” one’s own life, a person is only partially alive. His final days, as documented in Plato’s works are the Apology, Euthyphro, Crito, and Phaedo. While each illustrates Socrates thinking regarding his willingness to drink poison as ordered by the court, the Crito best illustrates his philosophy regarding his view of life.

When Crito brings word that Socrates must die within a few days, he urges him to escape. But Socrates refuses saying that he cannot go against the decisions of the law anytime such decision does not suit him or else there would be an end to law. Justice is and must be first, says Socrates, then considerations of family and friends (Crito 86-87). Socrates believes that the collective group of people chosen to make decisions about governance and all aspects of daily life are considered to be good people, and Crito agrees that the leaders of Athens are good men, and then they must be followed even when they make a bad decision.

Henry David Thoreau had gone to Walden Pond, a small body of water outside Concord, Massachusetts, in order to write a book dedicated to his dead brother. Instead, he wrote about his solitary opportunity to observe nature directly. “We need,” he wrote, “the tonic of wildness, to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground” (Walden 339).

It was in “Walden” that Thoreau launched his major criticism of American civilization; its materialistic values and its unthinking work ethic and his philosophy that it was possible to redefine, through his time at Walden Pond, what the true “necessaries” of life really are (Walden 111). Thoreau notes that the real necessities of life, which are essential to people anywhere, can be answered with only a few items: food, shelter, clothing and fuel. He then contrasts such “necessities” with the luxuries or comforts humans think they must have but that are, in reality, impediments to the discovery of an individual higher nature.

Obviously, Thoreau’s antidote to what he saw as the poison infecting the modern “civilized” man was to take to the woods, in order to learn more about the world, what it means to be fully human, and himself: “My purpose in going to Walden Pond was not to live cheaply nor to live dearly there, but to transact some “private business” with the fewest obstacles. ” That “private business” was to search his own soul (Walden 119). In that search, Thoreau found that: “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is” (Walden 178).

Josef Pieper lived in some of the most turbulent of modern times. As a German man reaching intellectual and philosophical maturity during the middle of the twentieth century, he ultimately developed a wider following of readers interested in his philosophy in countries other than Germany. He believed “What it means to inhabit a system of thought long enough to see the world in its terms. But that same truth remains elusive, beyond our complete comprehension, because the things whose truth we seek to know are bathed in an abyss of light into which we cannot look directly.

Only in the beatific vision-the end toward which philosophy, the love of wisdom, is oriented-will those limits be overcome”. In the mind and the writings of Josef Pieper the Greek philosophical tradition and the Christian theological tradition met and enriched each other. In conclusion, the primary focus should be “What is the meaning of philosophy? ” In my opinion philosophy is a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for a comprehensive understanding of the world, and a study of the principles of conduct.

Philosophy is in a sense inescapable: life confronts every thoughtful person with some philosophical questions, and nearly everyone is often guided by philosophical assumptions, even if unconsciously. One need not be unprepared. To a large extent one can choose how reflective one will be in clarifying and developing one’s philosophical assumptions, and how well prepared one is for the philosophical questions life presents. Philosophical training enhances our problem-solving capacities, our abilities to understand and express ideas, and our persuasive powers.

It also develops understanding and enjoyment of things whose absence impoverishes many lives: such things as aesthetic experience, communication with many different kinds of people, lively discussion of current issues, the discerning observation of human behavior, and intellectual zest. In these and other ways the study of philosophy contributes immeasurably in both academic and other pursuits. Therefore, the goal of philosophy is to understand one’s self, one’s being, and one’s place in the universe.

Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx: 2nd Edition

The late 1800’s was a time period where new ideas, theories, and philosophies ran through the minds of many young people. Amongst them was a man be the name of Karl Marx who stood out in the crowd. Known as a man of great integrity and intelligence, Marx was thought to be one of the greatest thinkers of all time. “Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx: 2nd Edition” by Robert C. Tucker is a book about Marx and his philosophies. Robert C. Tucker in this book ventures out to critique and give an interpretation of Marx’s philosophical thoughts.

Marx’s was the man who was responsible for the well known and highly acclaimed philosophy of Marxism also known as Communism. Karl Marx was born in the German Rhineland to a well-cultured family, one that was not revolutionary. As a young man he received a classical education. Marx entered the University of Berlin where he read law, majoring in history as well as philosophy. His years at the university was the time period that was a turning point in Marx’s life.

From his early school days, philosophy had been a subject that sparked interest in Karl Marx. He was greatly concerned with humans’ freedom and reviving the ancient concept of communism. The University of Berlin was where Marx had first become acquainted with the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel’s ideas known, as Hegelianism was the concept where the main focus was a self- alienated man. Man should worship himself as a Superior Being. What attracted Marx to Hegel was his “surmounting of the characteristic difficulty of idealism.

However, when Marx was later introduced to the philosophies of Feuerbach, his thoughts completely changed. According to Feuerbach,”man has so far in history lived primarily a life of religion, and that the essences of religion is man’s estrangement from himself,” At the same time of Marx becoming acquainted with these thoughts, he was jumping from one place to another causing his family to live in wretched poverty. Later on, using both the concepts of Hegelianism and of Feuerbach, Marx arrived at the formulation of his own philosophical anthropology.

He first states that the primary determinant of history is economics where the history of society is viewed as the history of class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariats. The bourgeoisie are successful by extracting money from the proletariats for profit. Marx’s theory predicts that the contradictions and weaknesses will cause economic crisis and deepening poverty of the working class. However, Marx’s Communist Manifesto will eliminate all the problems that are the cause of the downfall of social classes.

This in turn eliminates the need for a revolution. The idea of his philosophy comes directly from his life. The elimination of social classes is derived from his experience of poverty. The elimination of a revolution comes from the was he was raised, His family was on that did not belief in revolutions. In the” Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx: 2nd Edition’ by Robert C. Tucker, Tucker originates Marxism to the earlier German philosophers, Georg Wilhelm, Friedrich Hegel and Luswig Feuerbach. The prime focus of Hegelianism was man.

Where” Man shall worship himself as the Supreme Being” Tucker explains Hegel created these terms to find peace with himself by conceiving himself as the particular man known as God. Feuerbach’s focus was religion and how it is the determinant of history. Feuerbach’s ideas originate from Hegel’s but add the concept of religion. Tucker also introduces his view on how there may be two types of Marxism, original Marxism and mature Marxism. The main difference between the two is that a self-alienated man is the central subject of original Marxism, but it is seen that the self-alienated man is absent from the mature Marxism.

Original Marxism’s persuasive idea is the idea of self, which seemed to originate from the philosophy of Hegelianism. Whereas the idea of self seems to disappear from mature Marxism and the central is society. Karl Marx became interested in philosophy from an early age. Because of his high interest in philosophy, Marx read extensively in anthropology and economics, arriving at his own formulation of “philosophical anthropology. ” Also according to Tucker, Marx’s studies did not come from direct study in society. He had no knowledge or workers or conditions.

In fact, he developed his theories after his introduction to Hegel and Feuerbach. Both theories of both German philosophers contributes and served as the building blocks to the birth of Marxism. Although, Marx’s philosophy was similar to those of Hegel and Feuerbach, he was still thought to be a radical who went against the political ideas of his time. His beliefs caused him to get in trouble with superior beings as well as being banished from Paris a number of times. His persistency was that which made him stronger and more interesting to others.

Existentialism in the Early 19th Century

Because of the diversity of positions associated with existentialism, the term is impossible to define precisely. Certain themes common to virtually all existentialist writers can, however, be identified. The term itself suggests one major theme: the stress on concrete individual existence and, consequently, on subjectivity, individual freedom, and choice. Moral Individualism Most philosophers since Plato have held that the highest ethical good is the same for everyone; insofar as one approaches moral perfection, one resembles other morally perfect individuals.

The 19th-century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who was the first writer to call himself existential, reacted against this tradition by insisting that the highest good for the individual is to find his or her own unique vocation. As he wrote in his journal, “I must find a truth that is true for me . . . the idea for which I can live or die. ” Other existentialist writers have echoed Kierkegaard’s belief that one must choose one’s own way without the aid of universal, objective standards.

Against the traditional view that moral choice involves an objective judgment of right and wrong, existentialists have argued that no objective, rational basis can be ound for moral decisions. The 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche further contended that the individual must decide which situations are to count asmoral situations. Subjectivity All existentialists have followed Kierkegaard in stressing the importance of passionate individual action in deciding questions of both morality and truth.

They have insisted, accordingly, that personal experience and acting on one’s own convictions are essential in arriving at the truth. Thus, the understanding of a situation by someone involved in that situation is superior to that of a detached, objective observer. This emphasis on the perspective of the individual agent has also made existentialists suspicious of systematic reasoning. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and other existentialist writers have been deliberately unsystematic in the exposition of their philosophies, preferring to express themselves in aphorisms, dialogues, parables, and other literary forms.

Despite their antirationalist position, however, most existentialists cannot be said to be irrationalists in the sense of denying all validity to rational thought. They have held that rational clarity is desirable wherever possible, but that the ost important questions in life are not accessible to reason or science. Furthermore, they have argued that even science is not as rational as is commonly supposed. Nietzsche, for instance, asserted that the scientific assumption of an orderly universe is for the most part a useful fiction.

Choice and Commitment Perhaps the most prominent theme in existentialist writing is that of choice. Humanity’s primary distinction, in the view of most existentialists, is the freedom to choose. Existentialists have held that human beings do not have a fixed nature, or essence, as other animals and plants do; each human being makes hoices that create his or her own nature. In the formulation of the 20th- century French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, existence precedes essence. Choice is therefore central to human existence, and it is inescapable; even the refusal to choose is a choice.

Freedom of choice entails commitment and responsibility. Because individuals are free to choose their own path, existentialists have argued, they must accept the risk and responsibility of following their commitment wherever it leads. Dread and Anxiety Kierkegaard held that it is spiritually crucial to recognize that one xperiences not only a fear of specific objects but also a feeling of general apprehension, which he called dread. He interpreted it as God’s way of calling each individual to make a commitment to a personally valid way of life.

The word anxiety (German Angst) has a similarly crucial role in the work of the 20th- century German philosopher Martin Heidegger; anxiety leads to the individual’s confrontation with nothingness and with the impossibility of finding ultimate justification for the choices he or she must make. In the philosophy of Sartre, the word nausea is used for the individual’s recognition of the pure contingency f the universe, and the word anguish is used for the recognition of the total freedom of choice that confronts the individual at every moment.

History Existentialism as a distinct philosophical and literary movement belongs to the 19th and 20th centuries, but elements of existentialism can be found in the thought (and life) of Socrates, in the Bible, and in the work of many premodern philosophers and writers. Pascal The first to anticipate the major concerns of modern existentialism was the 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal. Pascal rejected the rigorous ationalism of his contemporary Rene Descartes, asserting, in his Pensees (1670), that a systematic philosophy that presumes to explain God and humanity is a form of pride.

Like later existentialist writers, he saw human life in terms of paradoxes: The human self, which combines mind and body, is itself a paradox and contradiction. Kierkegaard Kierkegaard, generally regarded as the founder of modern existentialism, reacted against the systematic absolute idealism of the 19th-century German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel, who claimed to have worked out a total rational understanding of humanity and history. Kierkegaard, on the contrary, stressed the ambiguity and absurdity of the human situation.

The individual’s response to this situation must be to live a totally committed life, and this commitment can only be understood by the individual who has made it. The individual therefore must always be prepared to defy the norms of society for the sake of the higher authority of a personally valid way of life. Kierkegaard ultimately advocated a ” leap of faith” into a Christian way of life, which, although incomprehensible and full of risk, was the only commitment he believed could save the individual from despair.

Nietzsche Nietzsche, who was not acquainted with the work of Kierkegaard, influenced subsequent existentialist thought through his criticism of traditional metaphysical and moral assumptions and through his espousal of tragic pessimism and the life-affirming individual will that opposes itself to the moral conformity of the majority. In contrast to Kierkegaard, whose attack on conventional morality led him to advocate a radically individualistic Christianity, Nietzsche proclaimed the “death of God” and went on to reject the entire Judeo-Christian moral tradition in favor of a heroic pagan ideal.

Heidegger Heidegger, like Pascal and Kierkegaard, reacted against an attempt to put philosophy on a conclusive rationalistic basisin this case the phenomenology of the 20th-century German philosopher Edmund Husserl. Heidegger argued that humanity finds itself in an incomprehensible, indifferent world. Human beings can never hope to understand why they are here; instead, each individual must choose a goal and follow it with passionate conviction, aware of the certainty of death and the ultimate meaninglessness of one’s life.

Heidegger contributed to existentialist thought an original emphasis on being and ontology as well as n language. Sartre Sartre first gave the term existentialism general currency by using it for his own philosophy and by becoming the leading figure of a distinct movement in France that became internationally influential after World War II. Sartre’s philosophy is explicitly atheistic and pessimistic; he declared that human beings require a rational basis for their lives but are unable to achieve one, and thus human life is a “futile passion.

Sartre nevertheless insisted that his existentialism is a form of humanism, and he strongly emphasized human freedom, choice, and responsibility. He eventually tried to reconcile these existentialist concepts with a Marxist analysis of society and history. Existentialism and Theology Although existentialist thought encompasses the uncompromising atheism of Nietzsche and Sartre and the agnosticism of Heidegger, its origin in the intensely religious philosophies of Pascal and Kierkegaard foreshadowed its profound influence on 20th-century theology.

The 20th-century German philosopher Karl Jaspers, although he rejected explicit religious doctrines, influenced contemporary theology through his preoccupation with transcendence and the imits of human experience. The German Protestant theologians Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultmann, the French Roman Catholic theologian Gabriel Marcel, the Russian Orthodox philosopher Nikolay Berdyayev, and the German Jewish philosopher Martin Buber inherited many of Kierkegaard’s concerns, especially that a personal sense of authenticity and commitment is essential to religious faith.

Existentialism and Literature A number of existentialist philosophers used literary forms to convey their thought, and existentialism has been as vital and as extensive a movement in literature as in philosophy. The 19th-century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky is probably the greatest existentialist literary figure. In Notes from the Underground (1864), the alienated antihero rages against the optimistic assumptions of rationalist humanism.

The view of human nature that emerges in this and other novels of Dostoyevsky is that it is unpredictable and perversely self-destructive; only Christian love can save humanity from itself, but such love cannot be understood philosophically. As the character Alyosha says in The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80), “We must love life more than the meaning of it. ” In the 20th century, the novels of the Austrian Jewish writer Franz Kafka, such as The Trial (1925; trans. 1937) and The Castle (1926; trans. 930), present isolated men confronting vast, elusive, menacing bureaucracies; Kafka’s themes of anxiety, guilt, and solitude reflect the influence of Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, and Nietzsche.

The influence of Nietzsche is also discernible in the novels of the French writers Andre Malraux and in the plays of Sartre. The work of the French writer Albert Camus is usually associated with existentialism because of the prominence in it of such themes as the apparent absurdity and utility of life, the indifference of the universe, and the necessity of engagement in a just cause.

Existentialist themes are also reflected in the theater of the absurd, notably in the plays of Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco. In the United States, the influence of existentialism on literature has been more indirect and diffuse, but traces of Kierkegaard’s thought can be found in the novels of Walker Percy and John Updike, and various existentialist themes are apparent in the work of such diverse writers as Norman Mailer, John Barth, and Arthur Miller.

In Defense of the Individualist

Throughout history it has been the individualists, like Henry Ford and Rosa Parks, who have led nations, formed common groups, and made the greatest impact. However, people, such as the author, Michael Walzer, of Multiculturalism and Individualism, condemn the independent person as an unreliable footloose and empty creature (533). This denouncement of the socially unrestrained human is the fearful reaction to the power that these individuals can possesse. Nonetheless, strong individuals form the foundation of the worlds progress in technological and social fields because of their willingness to question and create.

Individualists have always been more involved with technological advances than the communitarian. It has been the person, unhindered by other peoples opinion that has given the most creative and helpful of inventions. A brief look into history reveals names such as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and, more recently, Bill Gates who have improved and contributed to the comfort of humanity. These individuals were often criticized for their self-interest work, but when the products of their imagination changed the lives of humans around the world the dissatisfied voices quieted.

The communitarians accusations, that the individualist is a dangerous ungrounded individual who needs to conform to social norms, are actually the reasons for the importance of individualists influence in society. The communitarian is fearful of the risks that are involved when tradition and safety is tested, but tradition only limits change and as long as the world contains negativity there is room for transformation. Christopher Little, the author of Communitarianism, A New Threat For Gun Owners, explains that communitarians believe that liberty is a threat to public safety (548).

This fear of danger only inhibits the growth of the community. It has been said, a person only fails when he or she fails to try. By limiting peoples right to be different from their neighbor, whether it is the choice of gun possession or free speech, the communitarian damages the community. Individualists stand out as people who are willing to question and test the social and mechanical boundaries of the world. Individualists are more socially persuasive than the faceless members of self-interest groups.

History reveals that it is the individual that empowers the people. I ask you, what are ten important interest groups that had a positive influence on America in the nineteenth century? This is a difficult question. However, if the words interest groups are replaced with individuals the answer would be relatively easy. Michael Walzer claims that individuals are just jetsam floating aimlessly away from every creative center(533). But, it is the eccentric individualists who have the power to create the groups. Every group is a product of a individualist.

So by arguing for the extermination of individualistic thought a group is actually cutting their own lifeline. Individualists are the largest and most important contributors to society. The fear of change doesnt change that fact. Society has always condemned the different, eccentric, and unconventional person when in actuality that person is the source for the advancement of society itself. When conformist and communitarians attempt to limit personal freedom and thought they are only limiting their own personal growth. Individualists are the most significant supplier of creativity and good.

Morrie’s Aphorisms Essay

No bubble is so iridescent or floats longer than that blown by the successful teacher. Sir William Osler (1849-1919), 4 Oct. 1911, Glasgow (quoted in: Harvey Cushing, Life of Sir William Osler, vol. 2, ch. 31, 1925). Mitch Albom wrote Tuesdays with Morrie as a final tribute to his old college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who intended that his death should be his “final thesis. ” Grim and fascinating, Professor Schwartzs courage in the face of a painful death is truly inspiring.

The lucidity and wisdom which Professor Schwartz gained over the years became increasingly pronounced and focused as he ontemplated his life and imminent death, as well as his place in the Cosmos while his frail body melted away through A. L. S. (Lou Gehrig’s disease). This paper will discuss five of Professor Schwartz aphorisms (or proverbs), which would facilitate learning in subject- specific -and other educational venues. The Meaning of Life So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when theyre busy doing things they think are important.

This is because theyre chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to our community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. (emphasis added) (p. 43) Professor Schwartzs analysis of the “meaning of life” is particularly appropriate for teaching philosophical views and sociological concepts. Since time immemorial, man has contemplated why he is on the Earth and what his place is in the Greater Scheme of Things.

While students rush through the educational process in a pinball-like attempt to learn what they need to thrive and survive, they frequently overlook those aspects of their education, which are the most mportant. When people become self-actualized, as Professor Schwartz did, they are better able to view humanity from a broader angle. This “better view” of mankind involves a commitment to others and to the community in which one lives, but it is more elemental than that. Material possessions, according to the professor, mean little when you are lying on your deathbed.

What is truly important is that an individuals life is given meaning and purpose by the degree to which that individual has served and loved others. Admittedly, Professor Schwartz had the wisdom of years and the insight provided y decades of philosophical research; however, the quest for the “meaning of life” is a universal aspect of mankind and finding the right answer is like finding the Holy Grail — many have looked but few have seen. Therefore, Professor Schwartzs thought process concerning devoting oneself to loving others and their community is particularly appropriate in a philosophical and sociological learning environment.

A better learning experience could be gained by a requirement that all college students perform a certain number of hours of service to the community: painting and repairing low-income housing, or olunteering at nursing homes or veteran centers, for example. This “giving back” to the community would reinforce Professor Schwartzs view that we are all part of the human family and we gain meaning in our lives through service to others. An activity using this aphorism in the classroom was completed by my sixth grade Literature class at Greenwich Catholic School.

The grade decided to express the true meaning of Christmas by bypassing the holiday gift giving and donating their gifts to a local charity of the childrens choice. Then, each child wrote an essay on the true meaning f Christmas and related their experience to the activity performed. This truly put Morries proverb to work. Faith and Trust You see, he says to the girl, you closed your eyes. That was the difference. Sometimes you cannot believe what you see; you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too — even when youre in the dark.

Even when youre falling. (p. 61) There is an old saying concerning trust and faith: “Fake it till you make it. ” This means that trust and faith can be learned. Trusting others is more difficult for some people than others. Trust, then, is the basis for all human endeavors, which involve others, since we must accept on faith that people will act in certain ways in order to live our daily lives. For example, in a learning environment, trust is the basis for the effective transmission of knowledge from teacher to student.

Moreover, it is the essence of living in a civilized society, for, if we cannot trust the driver approaching us in the other lane to not swerve and hit us head-on. If we do not trust the police to phold the law, there is anarchy; if we do not trust our spouses to be faithful, there is infidelity; if we do not trust our teachers when they teach, there is ignorance. Therefore, the application of this aphorism would be appropriate in practically any classroom setting, but particularly appropriate in a philosophical environment in which universal truths are discussed.

More specifically, encouraging students to trust each other (which does not, of course, mean to naively accept everything people tell you) will enhance their ability to learn and to interact with their peers, their family members and ociety in general. An activity that could enforce this trust would involve partners. One person would stand directly behind the other and support their partners weight. Then, they would let their partner fall backward with the promise they will catch their partner before he/she hits the floor.

This would provide a difficulty for the partners and would reinforce the fact that it is imperative to trust others in all situations. Learn How To Die So You Can Learn How To Live The truth is Mitch, he says, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live. (Emphasis added) (p. 82). A scene in Remarche’s All Quiet n the Western Front described a grizzled old sergeant advising his men that they might as well consider themselves as already dead. This motivated the troop to find the courage required to continue to fight.

While Professor Schwartz was not saying to consider oneself “already dead,” he was saying that by accepting the nature of life and its ultimate conclusion, you are then able to make the most of life. Dreams, which may well go unrealized, are achieved when you realize that life is short and ultimately precious. If you let society dictate your dreams, those are the dreams you will die with. From a motivational tandpoint in a learning environment, this aphorism is exceptional since it will encourage students to move beyond the institutional structures, which press heavily on civilized societies.

From an educational standpoint, “learning how to die so you can learn how to live” would be applicable in classroom discussions. For example, lets examine the problems associated with aging and coping with loss. When people are able to accept their own mortality, they are then able to make the most of their lives by realizing their ambitions, trying new things and taking chances they would not have otherwise. In a classroom setting, taking chances and trying new things are what it is all about: rote learning will not provide an individual with the insight needed to achieve all that may be possible.

An example of an activity that could be used in the classroom is a creative writing project. You tell the students to go home and get a list of things from an adult (preferably a parent) that did not exist thirty years ago. Then, the students can make a list of things that they use all the time. The students can group ideas from each list and write an essay on the similarities of their parents and themselves. This activity can point out the changing of time and the mortality of life. Additionally, it will improve the students writing skills through drawing inferences and making conclusions.

Cultural Values Heres what I mean by building your own little subculture, Morrie said. I dont mean you disregard every role of your community. I dont go around naked, for example. I dont run through red lights. The little things, I can obey. But the big things — how we think, what we value – those you must choose yourself. You cant let anyone — or any society — determine those for you. (p. 155) Values clearly are the guiding rinciples of life and teachers are in a position to teach them; however, values are accumulated over a lifetime through parental guidance, other family members, and pressure from peers, religious leaders and educators.

Furthermore, it is possible for teachers to encourage students to question the validity of the status quo — to push the limits — to achieve the unachievable — by recognizing that what other people believe to be important may not be appropriate or even relevant. Teaching students to “create a culture of their own”, encourages individual values and thought and will provide them ith the ability to think about things differently and to live their lives based on a solid foundation of personal integrity.

Professor Schwartz insight in this regard would be well suited for educational settings, which require an analysis of an individuals place in society and the values associated with various religions. This aphorism can be used in many venues such as History, Philosophy, Sociology and Literature. An activity done by an eighth grade class at my school reinforced Morries aphorism well. The class studied many different cultures and created list of each cultures attributes. Next, the students took what hey most admired about each culture and created a list of their own.

Then, they organized that list into their own personal culture they could live by. Each student created a poster board of their cultures values and attributes. These students also did an oral presentation describing their new culture to the class. Were All Part of the Human Family I heard a nice little story the other day, Morrie says. He closes his eyes for a moment and I wait. Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. Hes enjoying the wind and the fresh air — until he notices the other aves in front of him, crashing against the shore. My God, this is terrible, the wave says.

Look what’s going to happen to me! Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, why do you look so sad? The first wave says, “You don’t understand! Were all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isnt it terrible? ” The second wave says, “No, you dont understand. Youre not a wave, youre part of the ocean. (Emphasis added) This “Morrie-ism” is perhaps the most important lesson contained in Tuesdays With Morrie. The concept of being part of the ocean” reflects Professor Schwartz view of accepting our mortality so we can live more fully.

It is actually more fundamental than that — it means that we accept the fact that although we must die physically, in a spiritual sense, we continue to exist in the hearts and minds of those we knew and loved. This concept would be an effective adjunct to a course on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As people gain experience and wisdom, recognition that we are all part of a continuous circle of life is achieved and an appreciation for the part we all play in the Cosmos is attained. At the high school level, this aphorism would be effective for Creative Writing, History and the Sciences.

An activity effectively using this aphorism could be describing to the students the effect of the food chain. As the students build the chain, the teacher can point out the need for all creation, especially the lower species, in order for more developed species to exist. Another effective activity can be the creation of a family tree. The student can see the importance of all who exist on a personal level. The aphorisms of Professor Schwartz could be applied to numerous earning environments in which values and humanity are discussed.

The insights contained in Tuesdays With Morrie took the professor a lifetime to develop and by communicating them to us, he truly achieved his self-written epitaph of “Teacher to the End. ” One last “Morrie-ism” which might be extrapolated from the many he provides is “Knowledge can be learned but wisdom must be earned. ” Professor Schwartz certainly earned his knowledge and wisdom. By devoting his remaining days on Earth to imparting this knowledge to us, he “walked the walk” instead of just “talking the talk. “

Devil’s Grasp Essay

Existentialism is the title of the set of philosophical ideals that emphasizes the existence of the human being, the lack of meaning and purpose in life, and the solitude of human existence. Existentialism maintains existence precedes essence: This implies that the human being has no essence, no essential self, and is no more that what he is. He is only the sum of life is so far he has created and achieved for himself. Existentialism acquires its name from insisting that existence precedes essence.

Existentialist thinkers are of the view that the metaphysical explanation of existence as given by the traditional schools of philosophy fails to produce satisfactory results. They also maintain that the problem of being ought to take precedence in all philosophical inquiry. Existence is always particular, unique and individual. Existentialist are opposed to the view laws explaining human freedom and activity can be formulated.

Existence is essential and fundamental: Being cannot be made a topic of objective study. Being is revealed to and felt by the human being through his own experience and his situation. So it is maintained existence is the first and central problem. Existentialism stresses the risk, the voidness of human reality and admits that the human being is thrown into the world, the world in which pain, frustration, sickness, contempt, malaise and death dominates.

It was during the Second World War, when Europe found itself in a crisis and faced with death and destruction, the existentialist movement began to flourish. The dark portrait of such a sickness could be found even in the optimistic and confident nineteenth century in the works of authors as diverse as the communist German Karl Marx (1818-1883), the religious Dane Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), the German Fredich Nietzche (1844-1900).

Existentialism as a contemporary philosophical trend reached the zenith of its popularity in the years following the war, the time when Europe was in a despairing mood, perhaps not without the hope of social reconstruction but pessimistic and morbid enough to accept the existentialist outlook of the lack of design and intention in the universe and the nausea of human existence and its frustration.

The most important philosopher of existentialist in its celebrated form was the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), recognized as the most powerful intellectual force in France in the mid-20th century. Existentialism originated from the works of Kierkegaard, Nietzche, and the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevoski (1821-1881).

Kierkegaard had reacted against the idealism of G. F. W. Hegel (1770–1831), whose doctrines developed from the classical idealism of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). The existentialist stand that is opposed to the view of reducing existence to reason can be seen in the polemic of the idealist F. W. J. von Schelling, a contemporary of Hegel. Nietzche was influenced deeply by Arthur Schopenhauer (1778-1860), whose views were strikingly pessimistic. The influence of Blaise Pascal (1632-1662) on the existentialists should also not be overlooked.

Moby-Dick By Herman Melville: Religion

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the Earth, the Earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.”

Such was the beginning of creation. Creation continued with the sky and the waters, the Earth and the vegetation, the lights and the animals, and on the sixth day God created man. ”Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…. So God created humankind in his image.” God created Adam. It was Adam who had the first human relation with God. God “put him in the garden of Eden to till and keep it. And the lord God commanded the man, ‘you may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’” This simple command was not to be obeyed, and Adam, Eve and subsequent humanity was banished from Eden.

This first encounter with God serves to identify the trouble that man has with obeying God and ignoring ones self. Even in a simple time with no worries at all, it was impossible for Adam to resist the self and obey God. Throughout the novel Moby Dick Melville addresses the relationship between man and the Judeo-Christian God. Melville demonstrates many of the shortcomings of western religion and its in ability to reconcile the benefits of the darker side of humanity. Ishmael, through his journeys finds himself in the midst of several situations that exemplify this dichotomy between the ideal relationship with the Judeo-Christian God and the practical nature in which man typically relates to God.

Ishmael’s first encounter with the ideals of the man-God relationship in Moby Dick occurs at the Whaler’s Chapel. Father Mapple, a devout Christian. He preached the Bible and a devout life as an ideal that men must strive to reach, rather than as a tool to guide men within the confines of everyday life. On the day that Ishmael attended Father Mapple’s service, the sermon was about Jonah and the whale. During his sermon Father Mapple describes why Jonah’s story is one for all sinners. He tells of how Jonah chose to disobey God because God’s command was a difficult one to follow.

Father Mapple then states one of the most fundamental notions of Judeo-Christian ideology, in one sentence he describes the struggle that goes on inside all practitioners of western religion, he pronounced: “And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves; and it is in this disobeying ourselves that the hardness of obeying God consists.” This duality between what is sensible for Ishmael and what is scriptural come up many times, and is next seen during Queequeg’s fasting holiday.

By examining Queequeg’s fasting holiday we gain some insight into Ishmael, and his thoughts on organized religion. We see him discus how he feels both about western religion and other non-traditional religions as well. Ishmael says that:

“I have no objection to any person’s religion, be it what it ma, so long as that person does not kill or insult any other person, because that other person don’t believe it also. But when a man’s religion becomes really frantic; when it is a positive torment to him; and, in fine, makes this Earth of ours an uncomfortable inn to lodge in; then I think it high time to take that individual aside and argue the point with him.”

This view, that religion is not acceptable if it causes some form or physical discomfort stands almost directly in opposition of the Puritanical view that Father Mapple preached. In Judeo-Christian philosophy it is only through the rejection of the physical world that it is possible to clear the mind enough to focus on God. However Ishmael in his sensibilities expresses the rational thought that if one is starved then how can he focus on anything but the empty feeling in their stomach, rather than on God; “fasting makes the body cave in; hence the spirit caves in; and all thoughts born of a fast must necessarily be half-starved.” Also within this statement Melville, through Ishmael weaves the physical body and the spiritual body into one cohesive unit. Judeo-Christian philosophy states that one must separate the spiritual self from the physical self, while here, Ishmael declares that without a healthy physical self the spiritual self cannot be sustained.

Later in the novel, after they have set sail, the dichotomy between the separation of spirituality and physicality is brought into question as Ishmael describes the nature of the crow’s nest. As he describes the endless hours spent alone on the masthead he creates a clear image of the danger that is faced by becoming lost in contemplation. Up on the masthead, it is easy to be “lulled into such an opium-like listlessness of vacant, unconscious reverie” that one may forget where they are.

“There is no life in thee, now, except that rocking life imparted by a gently rolling ship; by her, borrowed from the sea; by the sea, from the inscrutable tides of God. But while this sleep, this dream is on ye, move your foot or hand an inch, slip your hold at all; and your identity comes back in horror.”

It seems that, here, all Ishmael is discussing is the danger that is present for those up in the masthead, however, the metaphor extends to the risk one runs by separating their spiritual self too completely from their physical self. If a person becomes too introspective in their search for God, as Father Mapple and Judeo-Christian ideology suggests they must, then they may completely loose track of their physical world and be unable to function as rational people.

Although Ishmael serves throughout the novel as a source for examining the dichotomy between practicality and spirituality, Melville also takes advantage of other characters to show some of the shortcomings of Judeo-Christian thought. Through the character of Starbuck, Melville demonstrates how being to righteous can become self-destructive. The first time we see Starbucks righteousness as navet and a downfall is in his first confrontation with Ahab.

During this confrontation in which Starbuck confronts Ahab about the nature of their voyage, and Ahab’s decision to pursue Moby Dick instead of the actual orders of the ship to collect whale oil, Starbuck is unable to maintain a rational argument with the monomaniacal Ahab. Ahab, who knows that he has all of the crews support, but Starbuck’s points this out to the unsure first mate, who is then unable to rationalize a way to win the support of the crew. Rather than trying to solve the problem in the physical world, Starbuck in looking to God to protect him from the monster in Ahab, whispers to himself “God keep me! –Keep us all!”

Later in the novel Starbuck again finds himself faced against Ahab. Only this time it is against the sleeping Ahab. Starbuck finds the gun that Ahab once held up against him and ponders the idea of killing Ahab, and preventing the tragic inevitable end that Starbuck perceives for the Pequod. In his self deliberations Starbuck wrestles with the idea of trying to capture Ahab alive and keep him as a prisoner, but he “could not endure the sight; could not possibly fly his howlings; all comfort, sleep itself, inestimable reason would leave me on the long intolerable voyage.” Starbuck finds himself unable to make a rational decision because he is overwrought with moral objections. To the idea of killing Ahab, Starbuck even tries to rationalize it, because, by killing Ahab he would be preventing Ahab from being able to commit the sin of killing the members of the crew.

But shall this crazed old man be tamely suffered to drag a whole ship’s company down to doom with him? – Yes, it would make him the willful murderer of thirty men and more, if the ship com to any deadly harm; and come to deadly harm, my soul swears this ship will, if Ahab have his way. If, then, he were this instant-put aside, that crime would not be his.”
As Starbuck continues to ponder whether to kill or capture Ahab or not, Starbuck again begins to look to God to give him the answer.

His blind faith in God to provide him with a source of enlightenment fails him again, when in the midst of his pleading for God’s help, “God, where art though? Shall I? Shall I?” Moby Dick is spotted and thus ends Starbuck’s opportunity to prevent the impending disaster. Had Starbuck not been so overwhelmed by his moral and religions convictions, a rational man would have been able to act in a manner that would have saved the ship, and thus proved less destructive than the passive, pious mindset of Starbuck.

Starbucks lack of action stemmed from his blind reliance on a higher power to solve his problems. Rather than finding a balance in which he could have weighed both practical rational along with Judeo-Christian teachings, he relied too much on a God who did not show his face. By looking at these examples from the novel it is easy to see some of the limitations of Judeo-Christian thought. While in no means does it completely invalidate any of the ideas of western religion it does force one to question the blind validity in which some people purse it, and at what cost are they pursuing their spiritual self.

The greatest thinkers ever, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle

Philosophy started when human beings started to ask questions, about how and what things are actually, due to curiosity. The things that caused these questions to come about were the people started to realize that everything isnt exactly what it appears to be. Philosophy started in the town of Miletus, many early philosophers came from here. The philosophers started their work around 585 B. C. Thales, one of the early Miletus philosophers, left no writings behind, all we know about him is memorable incidents recorded by later writers.

He lived between 624 and 546 B. C. His unique contributions to thought was he believed that even though there are differences between various things there is a basic similarity between them all. He thought that some single element, that contained its own principle of action or change, lay at the foundation of all physical reality. This element being water. Another Miletus philosopher and also a pupil of Thales was Anaximander. Anaximander believed also about some thing at the foundation of all physical reality, but he didnt believe it was water or any specific element.

He thought the primary substance that all things come is an indefinite and boundless realm. He differentiates things from their origin by the indeterminate boundless. The last Miletus philosopher was Anaximenes, he was an associate of Anaximander. Anaximenes wasnt satisfied with the thought of the boundless being the source of all things, he thought this was too vague. He combined Thales belief of a definite substance and Anaximanders concept of the boundless in continued motion. Anaximenes declared air as the primary substance from which all things come.

The Miletus philosophers did raise questions about the nature of things and made the first direct inquiry about what nature consist of, but they didnt form their hypothesis the way modern scientists would, nor did they use and experiments to check their theories. Pythagoras, from the small island of Samos, brought new philosophic theories. Pythagoras followers were called Pythagoreans, they devoted themselves to mathematics. Pythagoreans, while unlike Miletus philosophers, believed everything consist of numbers.

Pythagoras biggest philosophical contribution was the concept of form. Form to them meant limit and they saw it best shown in music and medicine. In both of these, harmony is the central fact, and taking into account proportions and limits achieve it. The greatness of Pythagoras and his followers is shown by the influence they had on later philosophers. Many later philosophers tried to explain change, the first Heraclitus. Heraclitus main belief was that all things are in flux or everything is in constant change.

He described this change process as a unity in diversity. He thought the thing changing was fire. He believed fire to be the basic reality and thought he discovered the principle of change itself. Paramenides, a younger contemporary of Heraclitus, founded the Eleatic school of Philosophy. His major philosophical contribution was a radical interpretation of change. He rejected Heraclitus theory of change as unity and diversity also criticized the Miletus philosophers explanations bout the origin of things.

Paramenides rejected the thought of change, believing change is an illusion and that if all things are made up of a single substance than change is logically absurd. Zeno, of Elea, was Paramenides pupil and his chief concern was defending his master against his attackers. Zeno believed our senses deceived us, and to get at the truth is more reliable to go by thougth than to go by sensation. To prove motion as impossible Zeno came up with four arguments, the racecourse, Achilles and the tortoise, The arrow, and The relativity of motion.

Zenos main point was that motion has no clear definition, that it is a relative concept. Empedocles, deciding arguments for and against motion and change were of some value, combined both points of view on change. He found a consistent way of showing that there is change and also affirming reality is fundamentally changeless. Anaxagoras started a major development in philosophy when he introduced a novel interpretation of the process which matter takes on the form of particular things. His major contribution was the theory of mind (nous), which he distinguished from matter.

The Sophists were a group of Greek teachers, who were around at the end of the fifth century B. C. They claimed to be purveyors of wisdom, but in reality undertook to show that all true certitude is unattainable, and that culture and preparation are to be acquired by discussion and debate. The way they contributed to philosophy was by calling attention to a problem, this could make them the first Greek skeptics. The three best-known Sophists were Protagoras, Gorgias, and Thrasymachus. Socrates lived from 469-399 B. C. e was a philosopher of Athens, who is regarded as one of the wisest people of all time.

He left no writings, our knowledge of him comes from his most famous pupil, Plato. He is descibed as having neglected his own affairs, instead spending his time discussing virtue, justice, and piety wherever his fellow citizens met, seeking wisdom about right conduct so that he might guide the moral and intellectual improvements of Athens. He drew forth knowledge from his students by asking a series of questions and examining the answers, this is known as Socratic dialect.

Socrates attributed virtue to the knowledge of ones true self, believing no one knowingly does wrong. In 399 B. C. he was tried for corrupting the moral of Athenian youth and for religious heresies. He was convicted and resisting all efforts to save his life, he willingly drank the cup of poison hemlock given to him. Plato is arguably one of the best known of all the Greek philosophers. His real name is Aristocles, but because of his broad shoulders his classmates called him Platon meaning broad and it was later shortened to Plato.

He lived from 427 to 347 B. C. and was a pupil of Socrates startin gin 409 B. C. Plato started a school in Athens called the Academy, this term has been used for school ever since. His main interest was moral philosophy, he wasnt fond of natural philosophy which he thought of as an inferior and unworthy sort of knowledge. Plato believed knowledge had no practical use, it existed for the abstract good of the soul. Aristotle, who along with Plato and Socrates is considered one of the most famous ancient thinkers, lived from 384-322 B. C. He studied under Plato at the Academy starting at age 17 and stayed for 20 years, first as a student then as a teacher.

After Plato died Aristotle left Athens and counseled Hermias and married his daughter, Pythias. Then he tutored a young Alexander the Great. 355 B. C. he returned to Athens and established his own school, Lyceum. Aristotle regarded the world as being made up of individuals occurring in fixed natural species. Aristotles most distinct philosophic contribution was a new theory of causality. He thought each thing or event has more than one reason explaining its existence. He proposed four explanatory causes.

The material cause, matter out of which a thing is made; the efficient cause, the source of motion or change; the formal cause, which is the species, kind or type; and the final cause, the full development of an individual or the intended function of a construction or invention. Aristotle explored many fields of thought. In astronomy he proposed a finite, spherical universe, with the earth at its center. To him psychology was a study of the soul and its association with the body. In logic he developed rules for reasoning that included syllogisms. His works were lost in the West after the downfall of Rome.

Until the 20th Century logic meant Aristotles logic. In the 20th Century a new appreciation developed for Aristotles thought and its relevance to education, literary criticism, and political analysis. After Aristotle, four groups of philosophers helped to mold a new direction of philosophy, they were the Epicureans, the Stoics, the Skeptics, and the Neoplationists. Unlike their predecessors, who tried to fit individuals into large social and political organizations, the new groups taught people to think of themselves and how and individual could have the most satisfactory personal life.

They were, on the other hand, influenced by the old philosophers. Epicurus relied upon Democritus for his atomic theory of nature, the Stoics made use of a fiery substance permeating all things, the Skeptics built a method of inquiry upon the Socratic form of doubt, and Plotinus drew heavily upon Plato. This ancient period of philosophy shaped the philosophic mind. Many theories were conceived by many great men and most just added on to an original notion. This period also had three of the greatest thinkers ever, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

The Way In Which Locke Interprets The Distinction Between Real And Nominal Essences

Like many of the 17th Century philosophers such as Descartes, and Leibniz, Locke’s work on Substance and Essence were very much a reaction against Aristotelian Scholasticism and the idea of substantial forms. The mould in which something was created is its substantial form, according to Aristotle, and it owes its characteristics to it. A stone then was created after the mould of stoniness and owed its weight to its nature, which tried to return to the earth, which came of its substantial form.

Locke, however, rejected classical doctrine as unscientific, preferring nstead to work on a system of classification which reflected the true nature of objects. As Ayers said, ‘the foundations of our system of classification… are not universal forms or moulds but objective resemblance’s between things. Locke then wished to classify genera on the basis of a resemblance between their primary qualities. Locke takes the already used word ‘essence’ and calls a thing’s ‘real essence’ “the very being of a thing, whereby it is what it is” (3. 3. 15) or later on as “The real constitution of things from which all their properties flow”.

By this Locke is referring to the micro-structural rrangement of parts or ‘corpuscular structure’ measurable in primary terms which give an object its observable visible secondary qualities. This real essence, Locke believes, is what is responsible for the properties of objects. There is a problem however with this definition of ‘real essence’ as a replacement for a scholastic substantial form. As an object’s micro- structural arrangement is undetectable, and Locke agrees with this, how is it possible for us to recognise and therefore classify groups of objects, species or genera? Lock’s answer is his notion of nominal essences.

Locke elieved that in observing any given substance the “combination of simple ideas that we believe belong” to that whole substance. Locke defines simple ideas elsewhere as the basic irreducible concepts we have that will build up our more complex ideas. For example, the complex concept of a ‘Zebra’ would be made up of many ideas such as ‘black’, ‘white’, and ‘horse’. Some of these such as ‘horse’ could still be broken down further but others will be simple like ‘black’. So as Ayers describes it, “A nominal definition consists of a non-explanatory list of attributes peculiar to the species nd is so suitable as a criteria for recognition”.

So though the nominal essence of a substance could be used to classify groups and must be observed to make distinctions, it is the ‘real essence’ reflects the true nature of an object and contains its explanatory power. As Lowe said “we now have two notions of essence, one explanatory and the other classificatory”. This is a move by Locke away from the scholastic idea that substantial form could play both roles. Locke disagreed that nominal essence had much credence as it did not inform us as of the characteristics that are inseparable from the substance and ruly make it what it is.

If we consider Gold and whether anything that is ‘nominally’ identical to Gold, if possible, could be called Gold. Obviously Locke’s answer would be no, in order to be like Gold it must have its identical ‘real essential nature’. Putman answer – division of linguistic labour theory Contemporary philosophers have raised problems with Locke’s idea of ‘real essential natures’. Dewey (in Copi) for example claimed that a substance’s essential nature is determined purely by the vocabulary we use and that the words trick us into thinking there is more to an object’s essential nature han our verbal concept of it.

Dewey gives the example of a table, saying that if I change its colour this is purely accidental and therefore the table remains the same whether green or brown. What if, he speculates, it is brown tables only which interest me? Then a change in colour would reflect an essential change in the table for me. Therefore “the very being of the thing, whereby it is what it is” would be contingent only on the vocabulary used to describe it and any quality could be described as an essential characteristic. Exploring this further causes yet another problem or Locke.

If his distinction is consists in separating the explanatory from the classificatory then according to Locke it is the ‘real essence’ alone which causes the object to be as it is. Now if an object’s appearance changes, it would cease to be as it was and would begin to display different properties. Though the change seems nominal, isn’t this an essential change. As Copi says, “If all properties depend upon its real essence then every change is an essential one. ” Even time can be seen as change and then it would be completely impossible to speak of a thing’s eal essence.

Further criticism came from Berkeley and Hume, fellow empiricists, who seized on the idea of real essence as completely unknowable and decried it as un-empiricist and ultimately unprovable. Locke’s defence has come from modern science. Scientists now study the micro-structural composition of objects and determine what Locke would consider to be an object’s ‘real essence’. This also weakens Dewey’s objections. By specifying the micro-structural criteria for real essence, we recognise when a substantial change occurs.

Brownness, or greenness, as haracteristics are secondary qualities and are only definable in terms of primary qualities, which are verifiable and quantitative. It would be a mistake then to try and attribute these subjective, indefinable qualities to an object’s real essence. Locke’s discussion of real and nominal essences, attempting to move away from scholastic doctrine, was definitely a step forward. As many of Locke’s ideas are in agreement with modern science it is clear the distinction deserves merit. Critically examine the way in which Locke interprets the distinction between real and nominal essences.

Existentialism, a philosophical movement

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that developed during the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the first things one may notice about existentialism is the confusion and disagreement of what it actually is. Dissertations have been written on the expanse of the topic, but I shall only give an overview of the philosophy. Walter Kaufmann, one of the leading existential scholars says, Certainly, existentialism is not a school of thought nor reducible to any set of tenets. The three writers who appear invariably on every list of existentialists, Heidegger, and Sartre — are not in agreement on essentials.

By the time we consider adding Rilke, Kafka, and Camus, it becomes plain that one essential feature shared by all these men is their perfervid individualism. Some of the difficulty in defining existentialism results from the characteristics of the philosophy itself. “For example, most existentialists deny that reality can be neatly summarized into a system, and so they reject all-inclusive views like Hegels,” says Diane Barsoum Raymond. This does not mean that existentialists are unsystematic, but rather that they tend to emphasize the richness of human experience rather than construct a tidy framework.

Therefore, a precise definition is impossible; however, it suggests one major theme: a stress on individual existence and the subsequent development of personal essence. Existentialists attempt to direct our attention to ourselves as individuals. “They force us to think about our relation to such topics as the existence and nature of God, what it is to be Christian, the nature of values, and the fact of one’s own death. Existentialists encourage us to consider, in a personal way, the meaning of living authentically and inauthentically”(Oaklander ix).

Man is the only known being, according to the philosophers, that defines itself merely through the act of living. In other words, first you exist, and then the individual emerges as life decisions are made. Freedom of choice, through which each human being creates their own nature, is one of the basic themes. Because individuals are free to choose their own path, existentialists have argued that they must accept the risk and responsibility of their actions. Those who follow this believe they are in a world that does not always make sense, a world that is filled with uncertainty where well-intended actions can become obscure and chaotic.

In basic existentialist beliefs, man is the only animal defining itself through life. Without life, there is no meaning. Existentialists believe in life and fighting for it (Wyatt, 1999). While fighting for life, each person must face important and difficult decisions with only limited knowledge and time in which to make these decisions. Human life is seen as a series of decisions that must be made without knowing what the correct choice is. They must decide what standards to except and which ones to reject. Individuals must make their own choices without help from external standards.

Humans are free and completely responsible for their choices. Their freedom and responsibility is thrust upon them and they are “condemned to be free”. Their responsibility for actions, decisions and beliefs cause anxiety. They try to escape by ignoring or denying their responsibility. To have a meaningful life one must become fully aware of the true character of the situation and bravely accept it. Yet other existentialist thought dictates every person spends a lifetime changing his or her essence. Without life there can be no meaning; the search for meaning in existentialism is the search for self.

In other words, we define ourselves by living; killing yourself would indicate you have chosen to have no meaning. Existentialists believe in living — in fact fighting for life. Camus, Sartre, and Nietzsche were involved in various wars because they had a strong belief in fighting for the survival of their respective countries. In order to understand the current meaning of existentialism, one must first understand that the American view of existentialism was derived from the writings of political activists, not intellectual purists.

Americans learned the term existential after World War II. The term is credited to Jean-Paul Sartre to describe his own philosophies, but it was actually coined by Kierkegaard when he described his existential dialectic. It was not until the late 1950s that the term was applied broadly to several divergent schools of thought. As stated earlier, existentialism maintains that life is a series of choices, creating stress. Few decisions are without any negative consequences. Some things are irrational or absurd, without explanation. If one makes a decision, he or she must follow through.

Even these concepts are not universal within existentialist writings, or at least the writings of people labeled as such. Blaise Pascal, for example, spent the last years of his life writing in support of predetermination, the theory that is better known as fate. First, there is the basic existentialist standpoint, that existence precedes essence. Man is a conscious subject, rather than a thing to be predicted or manipulated; he exists as a conscious being, and not in accordance with any definition, essence, generalization, or system. Existentialism says I am nothing but my own conscious existence.

A second existentialist theme is that of anxiety, or the sense of anguish, a generalized uneasiness, and a fear or dread that is not directed to any specific object. Anguish is the dread of the emptiness of human existence. This theme is as old as Kierkegaard is within existentialism; it is the claim that anguish is the underlying, all-pervasive, universal condition of human existence. Existentialism agrees with certain ideas in Judaism and Christianity, which see human existence as fallen from grace, and humans have lived in suffering, guilt, and anxiety.

This dark and depressing view of human life leads existentialists to reject ideas such as happiness, enlightenment optimism, a sense of well-being, since these can only reflect a superficial understanding of life, or a naive and foolish way of denying the despairing, tragic aspect of human existence. 20th-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger felt that anxiety leads to the individual’s confrontation with the impossibility of finding ultimate justification for his or her choices. A third existentialist theme is that of absurdity.

An existentialist would say I am my own existence, but this existence is absurd. To exist as a human being is inexplicable, and absurd. Each of us is simply here, thrown into this time and place—but why now? Why here? Kierkegaard asked. For no reason, without necessary connection, my life is an absurd fact. A whole school of theatre, known as the theatre of the absurd derives from the philosophical use of the word absurd by such existentialists thinkers as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sarte. A fully satisfying rational explanation of the universe was beyond its reach and the world must be seen as absurd.

Playwrights such as Samuel Beckett with Waiting for Godot and Tom Stoppard with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead gear their works towards the existential school of thought. For example, the strange atmosphere of Godot, in which two tramps wait on what appears to be a desolate road for a man who never arrives. Waiting for Godot captures the feeling the world has no apparent meaning. In this misunderstood masterpiece Beckett asserts numerous existentialist themes. Beckett believed that existence is determined by chance. This is the first basic existentialist theme asserted.

Two of the characters are waiting for Godot who never arrives. Two of them consist of a flamboyant lord of the earth and a broken slave whimpering and staggering at the end of a rope. They meet perchance but the play rests on simply the objective of our waiting. Another basic existentialist theme on which Beckett reflects is the meaninglessness of time. Because past, present and future mean nothing, the play follows a cyclic pattern. Vladimir and Estragon returned to the same place each day to wait for Godot and encounter the same basic people each day.

Godot’s messenger does not recognize Vladimir and Estragon from day to day. This suggests that the people we meet today are not the same as they were yesterday and will not be the same tomorrow. Beckett also examines a theme of self-deceptive attempts to dodge reality by making excuses for one’s actions. Vladimir and Estragon fool themselves by engaging in petty discourse that reflects the absurdity of life. They even contemplate suicide numerous times for numerous reasons, but ultimately persist in the futility of life.

As well in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Rosencrantz creates a picture of characters who inhabit a world which is stranger than they had supposed, which they know it is not as it seems but what it is. He evokes the ability of all man kind to understand those forces ultimately in control of their lives and fates. At outset of the play, Rosencrantz remains oblivious to any oddity and their coin-tossing, describing the improbable run as 85 heads as merely a new record. The destiny which awaits Rosencrantz and Guildenstern consists of nothing for which they are prepared.

Instead they are to be “kept intrigued without ever being enlightened”. The purpose of the coin-tossing scene is the obvious conclusion that forces beyond their control are guiding their fate and it is obvious Guildenstern is more conscious of the two. He also sets up the quest theme that the play will take on. The ranting and ramblings of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are reminiscent of the spiritual pilgrim of the protagonist of Waiting for Godot. They both spend the entire play searching for a fate and spiritual rationale that is always alluding them.

It can be concluded that the title characters are searching for a divinity that will make itself evident. The fourth theme which pervades existentialism is that of nothingness or the void. “If no essences define me, and if, then, as an existentialist, I reject all of the philosophies, sciences, political theories, and religions which fail to reflect my existence as conscious being and attempt to impose a specific essentialist structure upon me and my world, then there is nothing that structures my world” (T. Z. Lavine).

I am my own existence, but my existence is a nothingness. Related to the theme of nothingness is the existentialist theme of death. Nothingness, in the form of death, which is my final nothingness, hangs over me like a sword of Damocles at each moment of my life. I am filled with anxiety at times when I permit myself to be aware of this. At those moments, says Martin Heidegger, the whole of my being seems to drift away into nothing. The unaware person tries to live as if death is not actual, he tries to escape its reality.

But Heidegger says that my death is my most authentic, significant moment, my personal potentiality, which I alone must suffer. And if I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life– and only then will I be free to become myself. But here the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre begs to differ. What is death, he asks? Death is my total nonexistence. Death is as absurd as birth– it is no ultimate, authentic moment of my life, it is nothing but the wiping out of my existence as conscious being.

Death is only another witness to the absurdity of human existence. It is common for people to associate a lack of faith or secular beliefs with existential thought. Existentialism has little to do with faith or the lack thereof. Religion is merely another choice you make in weaving your essence. Existentialism is not a singular school of thought, devoid of any and all forms of faith. It may surprise laypersons that many of the existentialists were religious. Pascal and Kierkegaard were dedicated Christians.

Pascal spent the end of his life in a monastery. Kierkegaard was a passionate Protestant, and supporter of Luther’s teachings. Despite his famous (infamous? ) God is dead quote, Nietzsche also appears to have been a believer in a Creator, though he branded organized religion as a manipulative tool to control the masses. He often insulted the Church merely to cause a stir. Some, notably Walter Kaufmann, call Nietzsche the anti-Christian existentialist, because he believed the organized Christian churches were the most destructive influences of his time.

We are then left with Camus and Sartre, and of these two, only Sartre can be seen to consistently deny any and all belief in a divine creator. Sartre was raised with religion, but World War II and the constant suffering of the world drove him away from faith. Many existentialists believe the greatest victory of the individual is to realize the absurdity of life and to accept it. In short, you live a miserable life, for which you may or may not be rewarded by a greater force. If this force exists, why do men suffer?

If it does not exist, why not commit suicide and shorten your suffering? These questions indicate the confusion of existentialism. Personally, I agree with many of the basic tenets of existentialism. Personal accountability for the decisions and actions made seems to be something that is fading from public opinion. Excuses seem to be replacing responsibility. Existentialism is liberating for those of us who do not rely on fate, God, or chance to guide us through the path of life. One aspect that is questionable is our ability to continuously reinvent ourselves through our actions.

While this is wholly possible, the vast majority of people stick to old ways of doing things, or follow others blindly. Despite encompassing a staggering range of philosophical, religious, and political ideologies, the underlying concepts of existentialism are simple. Mankind has free will. Life is a series of choices, creating stress. Few decisions are without any negative 6 consequences. Some things are irrational or absurd, without explanation. If one makes a decision, he or she must follow through. The decisions you make are whom you are, so decide accordingly.

Why Should One Be Moral

It is my understanding that there are three main branches of philosophy. These three branches include Metaphysics, Ethics and Epistemology. Metaphysics finds its focus through questions on reality. These questions include: What is real? What is mind and what is matter? What kind of reality do we have? Epistemology deals with truth versus opinion. Questions include what is truth, and what is its source? Is truth absolute or relative? Lastly, Ethics deals with right and wrong. It also deals with the interactions between people and their society.

Students of Ethics might ask What are our obligations to ourselves and society? and Why should one be moral? I will attempt to answer this question. I think it is important to define morality and ethics, as I understand them. Morals are a set of rules passed to us though our family, social, and religious experiences that serve to govern our independent actions. Our moral beliefs rest only on our sense of right and wrong. It is important to note that morals only apply to individual action and consequence. Ethics, however, apply to the actions of two or more people.

Ethics are meaningless unless applied in a social context. Ethics serve to define the acceptable actions of the individual within the social structure. Ethics are established through the consensus of many people and with the guidance of human experience. With morality, ones behavior is held to an ideal code of conduct. Ethics, however, deals with an imperfect, but attainable set of practices. It is left to the individual to take a decision that is moral, regardless of its ethical standing. Each of the Philosophers we have read about has held some view concerning morals and ethics.

Socrates held that To know the good is to do the good. By this, he meant that no man knowingly acts against his own interest. Socrates believed that no man could knowingly do wrong if that person truly knew the right course of action. Socrates defines moral as being the logical result of rational thought. Through reason, one will know morality. Plato, a student of Socrates, held a similar view. Plato taught that moral values are absolute truths and thus are abstract perfect entities. He called this the Idea of the Good. The Idea of the Good is the supreme source of all values.

Plato felt that this was the fulfillment of truth and reality. He also defines this good as unachievable. This good is something to be sought after, but never achieved. Aristotle held that there were two kinds of virtue: moral and intellectual. He felt that morals are the tempering of mans natural desires and appetites. Intellect, he says, is the development of acceptable habits through repetition. He believed that We become just by doing just acts. Aristotle argues that most virtues fall at a mean between more extreme character traits.

According to Aristotle, it is not an easy task to find the perfect mean between extreme character traits. In fact, we need assistance from our reason to do this. Additionally, Aristotle disassociated morality from God. He taught that God is too pure to bother with such trifles. He states that God is Thought thinking thought. Descartes felt it necessary to prove the existence of God. He attempts rational deduction based upon unproven axioms of supposed self-evident truths. Descartes claims that there are innate ideas. He feels that all men are born with these ideas and that they are self-evident and are born of nature (God).

After satisfying himself of the existence of God, he abandons God as the cause of our actions. He feels that we are nothing more than thought, and that our substance is as a result of thought. This bizarre thought process left him in a moral vacuum that allowed him to torment and mutilate animals. He was a sick man. David Hume seemed to delight in breaking down the argument concerning divine origins of morality. Although Hume dismisses the possibility of a God, he has many things to say concerning God. Hume states that our notions of do not entitle us to ascribe to God our own moral code.

He taught that our moral thinking is due to our biological nature and our desire to survive. He further attacks the rational Plato and Socrates. Hume states that reason has no causality to the effect of morals. Reason will not motivate him to be moral. Furthermore, the only true motivator comes in the form of desires, sentiments, and the possibility of joy or pain. This brings us to Hegel and the belief in the State as a source of moral authority. In Hegels belief, there is no moral authority above the state. He felt that we owe everything to the society in which we live.

He states that all ethics find their base in society. There can be no elevation of religion, laws or morals above the good of the state. In addition, the moral authority of one state need not be the same as that of another. Each society forms its own set of ethics to which all members must subscribe. Of course, this leaves little room for civil disobedience. Through my discussions with several other people, I have come to the conclusion that morality and ethics are closely interrelated. I propose the idea that a person can be moral and ethical.

I further believe that a person can be moral and unethical. I think, however, that a person can not be immoral and ethical. I believe that ethical behavior is a direct result of morality. I will restate my definition of morals and ethics: morals are perfect and unachievable, and ethics are imperfect and achievable. It may seem odd that a person must first be perfect (moral), before he can be imperfect (ethical). I posed several questions to my friends and family. They included the question Can a lecherous president who performs all his political duties be considered moral and/or ethical?

Each person interviewed felt that neither was possible. Cited examples were that this president could propose laws concerning equal rights for women. His actions, however, would demonstrate that he did not in fact believe in the laws he mandated. His deeds (lechery) would be immoral and would therefore invalidate his laws. It would be a demonstration of the adage Do as I say, not as I do. The next question we wrestled with concerned Dr. Death. Dr. Jack Kevorkian has assisted in the death of at least 30 people. He is a convicted felon for murder in the second degree.

He will spend the rest of his life in jail. Are his actions ethical? Are they moral? Not surprisingly, the jury of my peers is hung. Some feel he is both, while others feel he is neither. I feel he is moral and unethical. His personal morals dictate that human life is precious. I am led to understand that he holds life in such high regard that he is willing to end it with the patients consent when the quality of that life declines sufficiently. He holds that quality is more important than quantity. Ethically, however, he has strayed. He took an oath when he became a doctor.

With that oath, he swore to do no harm. Dr. Kevorkian failed to uphold his oath. He is therefore unethical in his recent medical dealings. This is not to say that I think what he did is wrong. I feel that there should be some latitude available to the individual in this matter. If I take the decision, as has his patients, to end my life, I should be able to do so. I believe that Dr. Kevorkians actions will result in changes to our legal system as it applies to this matter. I hope they are for the better. I think that his actions, while unethical, were necessary.

I hope that others follow where he has led. I also hope that our medical ethics evolve for the better around this issue. The last question we discussed concerned animals. The vegetarian in the group felt that it would be immoral to eat animal. She also felt it was unethical. Everyone else felt that it was perfectly acceptable to eat animals. That is to say, it is perfectly acceptable to eat certain animals. No one was willing to eat a cat, a rat or a bald eagle. The consensus was that a cat would be immoral, a rat would be disgusting and an eagle would be unethical.

Apparently, if an animal is cute and cuddly, it is immoral to kill it. An eagle, however, could be killed morally, but not ethically. They had no idea about the rat, and preferred not to discuss it. I feel that the vegetarian was the only one with consistent beliefs. She felt that all life is sacred, and one should cause harm. I pointed out that the toothpaste she uses contains gelatin. Gelatin is an animal product. She was aware of this, and stated that she does the best she can, and avoids as many products made from animals as humanly possible.

This demonstrates in my view that morals are to be strived for, but can not be attained. The meat eaters in our discussion felt that they were acting ethically. Interestingly, no one had ever slaughtered an animal, nor had they been to a meat packing plant. These people were bothered by the idea of what is done to animals at slaughter. Some also espoused the idea that hunting is inhumane. They were, however, willing to ignore how these animals are treated. I think that this is a demonstration of acting immorally.

If we know something is wrong, and are willing to ignore it in favor of personal gain (food) then we are acting immorally. As we have seen in each of these examples, it is quite possible for an individual’s morals to conflict with a group’s ethics. In fact, it is quite probable that at any time, an individuals moral position will be in conflict with the group ethic. It is however, necessary to have these ethics. It had been said that an ethical culture is a happy, just, and secure culture. I feel it is necessary for the individual to define moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct.

Our morals are the test to which we apply our behavior. The Golden Rule is a classic example of this. We should do unto others what we would have others do unto us. Since I do not want my neighbor to steal my belongings, then it is wrong for me to steal his belongings. Since I would want people to feed me if I was starving, then I should help feed starving people. Following this line of reasoning, it would be possible for me to determine whether any action is right or wrong. Therefore, based on the Golden Rule, it would also be wrong for me to lie to, harass, victimize or kill others.

It is from these kinds of moral judgments that society is able to define a larger set of fundamental principles; such as rights to life, liberty and happiness. This leads to the formation of a sort of democratic version of morality called ethics. A group selects certain rules of right conduct from a pool of rules of right conduct created by individuals and adopts them as the social norm. In this way, a composite ethical code evolves so that most of the people in the group are content to follow most of the rules most of the time. In this way, our society encourages people to be moral.

Exploring Research Methodologies: Positivism and Interpretivism

Before a researcher can initiate a research project, they face the confusion and the range of theoretical perspectives, methodologies, methods, and the philosophical basis that encompasses them all. This seemingly meticulous structure for the research process is in fact aimed toward providing the researcher with a scaffolding’, or a direction which they can go on to develop themselves to coincide with their particular research purposes. (Crotty, 1998)

Once a researcher has developed a research question they are seeking to answer, they must consider what methodologies and methods they will employ in the research; what theoretical perspective lies behind the methodology; and what epistemology informs this theoretical perspective. (Crotty, 1998) Before continuing it is important to explain these key terms: Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge, which seeks to inform us how we can know the world.

In the context of social research, epistemology is the form of proof one requires to justify a claim to knowledge about the social world. This will have a salient impact on the kind of data one can collect in order to validate their arguments concerning the social world (methodology), as well as the methods one considers in collecting valid data (methods). A researcher’s choice of methods will be conditioned by theoretical perspectives, the way one sees the social world. (Livesey)

Researchers of social science use a wide variety of research methods to gain and enhance knowledge and theory. The different types of research methodologies, quantitative and qualitative, are associated with the epistemological and theoretical perspectives the researcher wishes to adopt. This choice the researcher makes determines the way in which research should be conducted. This paper will discuss, critically analyse and compare the epistemological and theoretical perspectives of two research methodologies used for social research: positivism and interpretivism.

The various research methods used within the frameworks of each of these will then be discussed. Positivism There are two main types of epistemologies: positivist and anti-positivist. “Positivist research is an approach which combines a deductive approach with precise measurement of quantitative data to enable the discovery and confirmation of casual laws to predict human behaviour. ” (Neuman, 2000) In the social sciences, the criteria positivism as a theoretical perspective shapes reality to be objective: free of bias, opinion or prejudice; and that there is one reality in nature, one truth.

The principle purposes of social research, in a positivist approach, are to explain social life and predict the course of events. Positivism has received a great deal of criticism for use as a social research methodology as quantitative methods can be argued as unsuitable for research of human beings. “The individual is relegated to being nothing more than a system outcome, not a thinking and acting human. ” (Kelly & Charlton, 1995) Quantitative methods use numerical data, facts and universal laws to perform research.

These methods of science used to study the natural world, are arguably impossible for the study of human affairs. Epistemological dimension of positivism understands human behaviour as patterned, orderly and relatively stable. Therefore, methodologically, a positivist will use objective methods to collect data about human behaviour. “While the positivist tradition is perhaps one of the least appropriate approaches to the social world it is, paradoxically, one of the most commonly employed. “(Lawson, 1997)

There are divisions of opinion amongst sociologists about the extent to which sociology is capable of producing objective understanding of life. The positivist concept is that the principles of science can be applied to the study of people. Therein lies the main question a researcher must consider: Can sociology, or any form of social science, be considered to be scientific? “the principle legacy of positivism today is an enduring belief in the dichotomy between objective knowledge and subjective opinion. ” (Buchanan, 1998)

Positivist, or quantitative methods used for social research, trying to be systematic, objective and precise, are criticized as being flawed for excluding too much that needs to be included; such as failing to take account of essential characteristics of human behaviour and social life, which cannot be measured, or predicted using numbers or universal laws. Furthermore, natural sciences attempt to quantify the phenomena or experience and reproduce the results through repetition of the research method; this should not and cannot be applied to social sciences.

Human beings are not just natural elements; they are acting individuals with their own perceptions and wishes, and part of a social community. The nomological regularity’ behind the natural process, simply does not exist in the social sciences. (Sarantakos, 1998) Positivism offers a logical and efficient way of modelling reality, except the model created is a restricted representation of a subset of existence. ‘ The positivist assumption that science is the most appropriate theoretical perspective for social research will result in epistemologically under-justified use of quantitative methods for qualitative questions.

The application of scientific methods can only be justified for use in the physical domain, not the social domain. (Love, 1998) However, despite all the criticism positivism receives as a social methodology, its popularity has continued. “Positivism having lost every single epistemological battle over the years seems to have won the war, certainly in terms of research effort and funding. “(Pawson, 1989) The influence of positivism has inspired much of social research’s most prevalent research methods. Some of these include surveys, questionnaires and statistical models.

A researcher applying a positivist methodology for their study would consider large-scale sample surveys and controlled laboratory experiments as suitable research methods. These methods can be justified as they allow positivist researchers to employ empirical and logical quantitative data Interpretivism The theoretical perspective of interpretivism understands that human beings cannot have knowledge of the world independently of what is in their minds. Therefore the interpretivist research methodology was a reaction against the very strident claims of positivism.

The purpose of developing practical reason is not to predict, control or change anyone, but to deepen our understanding of what it is to live a human life, to contribute to human self-understanding and decency. ” (Buchanan, 1998) Within the domain of social research, interpretivism as a theoretical perspective shapes reality to be subjective: relating to a person’s, or research’s emotions, prejudices and bias. Interpretivism’s epistemological assumptions is that reality is created through social interaction: the concept that meaning and knowledge are socially constructed within a certain context and time.

Also that there is no one universal truth of reality, but multiple truths created by individuals. Human beings are seen as the creators of their own world or reality, not being restricted by any external laws. Sociology and human practices are a categorically different kind of phenomena than natural sciences, and require a different approach to understand their meaning. Critics suggest that these differences, from an epistemological position, may account for the inadequate success of positivist methodologies in explaining human behaviour. Buchanan, 1998)

The main intentions of social research, in an interpretivist approach, are to interpret and understand social life; to uncover and unravel the multiple layers of meaning represented by human action. ” (Vrasidas, 2001) Interpretivism is a research methodology that employs qualitative methods. Qualitative methodology aims to understand people, not to measure them. It attempts to capture reality in interaction. Whereas qualitative methodology uses no quantitative measures or variables, interpretivism does not necessarily exclude quantitative methods.

Interpretive research is a broader term than qualitative research as it encompasses all other approaches based on participant researchInterpretivism does not carry with it the false connotation of excluding the use of quantitative measuresit emphasises interpretation and suggests a focus on the meanings in action of participants and how the researcher uncovers and interprets those meanings. ” (Erickson, 1986) It is important to emphasise that with interpretivist research methods, a researcher can never arrive at the one absolute truth, or to achieve a complete understanding of the setting they are researching.

The concept of completeness of knowledge relates to the concept of the hermeneutical circle: that “there is a circular movement and shift of focus on interest from the whole to the parts and vice versa. Every time the circle is completed, the researcher and the interpretation are changing. You always get closer to a more complete understanding, but you never reach completeness. ” (Vrasidas, 2001) Interpretivism or qualitative theoretical perspectives are clearly the required methodology for social research; however, there are several weaknesses.

Studying humans as individuals and being interested in their everyday experiences and interpretations produce the risk of collecting useless information, making it very time consuming. There are problems of reliability caused by the subjectivity of the researcher, as well as ethical issues, such as privacy. Differences of the methodologies A fundamental contrast between the two methodologies is that a positivist researcher is thought to assume a passive, or objective, role during data collection; whereas in interpretive research, the research is taken to be actively involved in the process of data collection and analysis.

As a researcher, it is important to discuss some of the factors that may have influenced their interpretation, which will allow observers of the research to be co-analysts and arrive at their own conclusions on the validity of the research. Positivist research primarily serves to test theory and increase predictive understanding of phenomena. Interpretive research, on the other hand, is intended to understand the deeper structure of a phenomenon. The difference between the two research methodologies is their focus and what kinds of questions it addresses.

A research technique does not constitute a research method. ” (Erickson, 1986) Although positivist methods use natural science techniques to analyse data, interpretive approaches do not exclude the use of quantitative methods. The fundamental issue is “deciding what makes sense to count. ” (Erickson, 1977) The two methodologies should not be seen as competing perspectives, as both have valuable features to offer towards the understanding of the research question. A researcher needs to find a mutual shaping perspective combining the best parts of both methodologies.

Researchers using either of the two methodologies clearly want to have their research warranted as useful and beneficial to the understanding of their research question. This greatly depends on the validity of their work, so a number of measures, which vary from case to case, are used to achieve this. The main focus of a researcher to check the validity of their quantitative research is to ensure that the results reflect the true situation and conditions of the environment studied. The main focus that must be considered in interpretivist research is that all the directions and biases were considered in the results.

Existentialism, philosophical movement

Existentialism, philosophical movement or tendency, emphasizing individual existence, freedom, and choice, that influenced many diverse writers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Because of the diversity of positions associated with existentialism, the term is impossible to define precisely. Certain themes common to virtually all existentialist writers can, however, be identified. The term itself suggests one major theme: the stress on concrete individual existence and, consequently, on subjectivity, individual freedom, and choice.

Most philosophers since Plato have held that the highest ethical good is the same for everyone; insofar as one approaches moral perfection, one resembles other morally perfect individuals. The 19th-century Danish philosopher Sren Kierkegaard, who was the first writer to call himself existential, reacted against this tradition by insisting that the highest good for the individual is to find his or her own unique vocation. As he wrote in his journal, I must find a truth that is true for me . . . the idea for which I can live or die.

Other existentialist writers have echoed Kierkegaard’s belief that one must choose one’s own way without the aid of universal, objective standards. Against the traditional view that moral choice involves an objective judgment of right and wrong, existentialists have argued that no objective, rational basis can be found for moral decisions. The 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche further contended that the individual must decide which situations are to count as moral situations.

All existentialists have followed Kierkegaard in stressing the importance of passionate individual action in deciding questions of both morality and truth. They have insisted, accordingly, that personal experience and acting on one’s own convictions are essential in arriving at the truth. Thus, the understanding of a situation by someone involved in that situation is superior to that of a detached, objective observer. This emphasis on the perspective of the individual agent has also made existentialists suspicious of systematic reasoning.

Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and other existentialist writers have been deliberately unsystematic in the exposition of their philosophies, preferring to express themselves in aphorisms, dialogues, parables, and other literary forms. Despite their antirationalist position, however, most existentialists cannot be said to be irrationalists in the sense of denying all validity to rational thought. They have held that rational clarity is desirable wherever possible, but that the most important questions in life are not accessible to reason or science. Furthermore, they have argued that even science is not as rational as is commonly supposed.

Nietzsche, for instance, asserted that the scientific assumption of an orderly universe is for the most part a useful fiction. Perhaps the most prominent theme in existentialist writing is that of choice. Humanity’s primary distinction, in the view of most existentialists, is the freedom to choose. Existentialists have held that human beings do not have a fixed nature, or essence, as other animals and plants do; each human being makes choices that create his or her own nature. In the formulation of the 20th-century French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, existence precedes essence.

Choice is therefore central to human existence, and it is inescapable; even the refusal to choose is a choice. Freedom of choice entails commitment and responsibility. Because individuals are free to choose their own path, existentialists have argued, they must accept the risk and responsibility of following their commitment wherever it leads. Kierkegaard held that it is spiritually crucial to recognize that one experiences not only a fear of specific objects but also a feeling of general apprehension, which he called dread. He interpreted it as God’s way of calling each individual to make a commitment to a personally valid way of life.

The word anxiety (German Angst) has a similarly crucial role in the work of the 20th-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger; anxiety leads to the individual’s confrontation with nothingness and with the impossibility of finding ultimate justification for the choices he or she must make. In the philosophy of Sartre, the word nausea is used for the individual’s recognition of the pure contingency of the universe, and the word anguish is used for the recognition of the total freedom of choice that confronts the individual at every moment.

Existentialism as a distinct philosophical and literary movement belongs to the 19th and 20th centuries, but elements of existentialism can be found in the thought (and life) of Socrates, in the Bible, and in the work of many premodern philosophers and writers. The first to anticipate the major concerns of modern existentialism was the 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal. Pascal rejected the rigorous rationalism of his contemporary Ren Descartes, asserting, in his Penses (1670), that a systematic philosophy that presumes to explain God and humanity is a form of pride.

Like later existentialist writers, he saw human life in terms of paradoxes: The human self, which combines mind and body, is itself a paradox and contradiction. Kierkegaard, generally regarded as the founder of modern existentialism, reacted against the systematic absolute idealism of the 19th-century German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel, who claimed to have worked out a total rational understanding of humanity and history. Kierkegaard, on the contrary, stressed the ambiguity and absurdity of the human situation.

The individual’s response to this situation must be to live a totally committed life, and this commitment can only be understood by the individual who has made it. The individual therefore must always be prepared to defy the norms of society for the sake of the higher authority of a personally valid way of life. Kierkegaard ultimately advocated a leap of faith into a Christian way of life, which, although incomprehensible and full of risk, was the only commitment he believed could save the individual from despair.

Nietzsche, who was not acquainted with the work of Kierkegaard, influenced subsequent existentialist thought through his criticism of traditional metaphysical and moral assumptions and through his espousal of tragic pessimism and the life-affirming individual will that opposes itself to the moral conformity of the majority. In contrast to Kierkegaard, whose attack on conventional morality led him to advocate a radically individualistic Christianity, Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God and went on to reject the entire Judeo-Christian moral tradition in favor of a heroic pagan ideal.

Heidegger, like Pascal and Kierkegaard, reacted against an attempt to put philosophy on a conclusive rationalistic basisin this case the phenomenology of the 20th-century German philosopher Edmund Husserl. Heidegger argued that humanity finds itself in an incomprehensible, indifferent world. Human beings can never hope to understand why they are here; instead, each individual must choose a goal and follow it with passionate conviction, aware of the certainty of death and the ultimate meaninglessness of one’s life. Heidegger contributed to existentialist thought an original emphasis on being and ontology as well as on language.

Sartre first gave the term existentialism general currency by using it for his own philosophy and by becoming the leading figure of a distinct movement in France that became internationally influential after World War II. Sartre’s philosophy is explicitly atheistic and pessimistic; he declared that human beings require a rational basis for their lives but are unable to achieve one, and thus human life is a futile passion. Sartre nevertheless insisted that his existentialism is a form of humanism, and he strongly emphasized human freedom, choice, and responsibility.

He eventually tried to reconcile these existentialist concepts with a Marxist analysis of society and history. Although existentialist thought encompasses the uncompromising atheism of Nietzsche and Sartre and the agnosticism of Heidegger, its origin in the intensely religious philosophies of Pascal and Kierkegaard foreshadowed its profound influence on 20th-century theology. The 20th-century German philosopher Karl Jaspers, although he rejected explicit religious doctrines, influenced contemporary theology through his preoccupation with transcendence and the limits of human experience.

The German Protestant theologians Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultmann, the French Roman Catholic theologian Gabriel Marcel, the Russian Orthodox philosopher Nikolay Berdyayev, and the German Jewish philosopher Martin Buber inherited many of Kierkegaard’s concerns, especially that a personal sense of authenticity and commitment is essential to religious faith. A number of existentialist philosophers used literary forms to convey their thought, and existentialism has been as vital and as extensive a movement in literature as in philosophy. The 19th-century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky is probably the greatest existentialist literary figure.

In Notes from the Underground (1864), the alienated antihero rages against the optimistic assumptions of rationalist humanism. The view of human nature that emerges in this and other novels of Dostoyevsky is that it is unpredictable and perversely self-destructive; only Christian love can save humanity from itself, but such love cannot be understood philosophically. As the character Alyosha says in The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80), We must love life more than the meaning of it.

In the 20th century, the novels of the Austrian Jewish writer Franz Kafka, such as The Trial (1925; trans. 37) and The Castle (1926; trans. 1930), present isolated men confronting vast, elusive, menacing bureaucracies; Kafka’s themes of anxiety, guilt, and solitude reflect the influence of Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, and Nietzsche. The influence of Nietzsche is also discernible in the novels of the French writers Andr Malraux and in the plays of Sartre. The work of the French writer Albert Camus is usually associated with existentialism because of the prominence in it of such themes as the apparent absurdity and futility of life, the indifference of the universe, and the necessity of engagement in a just cause.

Existentialist themes are also reflected in the theater of the absurd, notably in the plays of Samuel Beckett and Eugne Ionesco. In the United States, the influence of existentialism on literature has been more indirect and diffuse, but traces of Kierkegaard’s thought can be found in the novels of Walker Percy and John Updike, and various existentialist themes are apparent in the work of such diverse writers as Norman Mailer, John Barth, and Arthur Miller.

Where Is The Meaning Of Human Existence Located

The word philosophy comes from Greek and literally means love of wisdom. Webster dictionary defines philosophy as a critical study of fundamental beliefs and the grounds for them. Both explanations of philosophy are correct and concrete, while where the meaning of human existence is located has no such concrete answer, but in this paper we will examine where Sartre believes it to be. Sartre’s existentialism is a philosophy, which deals with man. It states that man is that which he makes of himself and that he has to make his own choices in a state of anguish.

Man chooses in anguish, because he has no external guidelines to help him and must rely on his own morals and beliefs. Man chooses completely want he wants to do. His existence depends on this. And this is where I believe Sartre locates the meaning to mans’ existence. According to Sartre mans’ existence only takes on meaning through his actions. The Sartrian existentialist finds it extremely troubling that God does not exist because with Him vanishes all hope of finding values in an intelligible heaven.

As Dostoevsky once said, If God did not exist, then everything would be permitted. (pg 22) Sartre claims this to be the existentialist starting point. This is the reason that Sartre talks about anguish, because one cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself. It must necessarily follow that man is to be forlorn; he can’t find anything to depend upon either internally or externally. He therefore lacks excuses. We cannot explain our actions in terms of or in reference to… given and specific human nature. g 23) This rules out of the possibility of predetermination. Man is free, man is freedom. (pg 23) For non-existentialists, passion and fate may be an excuse for their actions; but for existentialists, taking responsibility for one’s choices is a central belief. Fate is overruled and passions hold no power. An existentialist will never view a great passion as a destructive agent, or blame fate for making a man commit certain actions. Again pointing to mans’ existence being defined by his choices and actions.

Since Sartre claims that existence precedes essence, an existentialist will also deny the support of an organized religion. As a result there is an absence of values. The existentialists’ world is one of being forsaken and abandoned. In this sense, abandonment can mean that we ourselves decide our being. As an example we can consider the case of the man who was faced with a difficult decision the. The young man had two choices: To take care of his mother, or to go to England to join the freedom forces. The first option is a concrete and certain course of action.

It is immediate, but directed to only one individual. The second choice of action is addressed to an infinitely greater cause, yet the outcome is rather uncertain. The Kantian ethic warns not to regard another person as a means, but rather as an end. (pg 25-26) In this case, for the young man to remain with his mother, he would be treating her as the end and the freedom fighters as the means. On the other hand, if he were to aid the freedom fighters, he would be treating them as the end at the risk of treating his mother as the means.

This example shows how man cannot rely on values. Sartre in this case recommended to the young man to trust his instincts. Sartre’s philosophy also deals with despair and the meaning of one’s life. Marxists say, Your action is limited by your death; but you can rely upon the help of others. (pg 30) However, Sartre claims that he must confine himself to what he can see. Existentialists doubt that others will carry on their work after their death. An existentialist does not necessarily believe that the revolution will lead to the triumph of the working class.

To carry this further, from the individual cases to the great collective movements, it is necessary for the masses to free themselves by once again going back to the idea that one must do everything on his own. Another principle of existentialism is that one must first make a choice and then act upon the commitment, according to the formula that Sartre provides us with. For the existentialist, hope is a passion that gets him nowhere. He must face life in his abandoned state, with courage and self-affirmation.

Sartre’s existentialism is unique in its individualistic outlook, its detachment, its lack of reliance of an outer code to manage behavior, and its emphasis on man’s self-reliance. Existentialism, as exemplified in the work of Sartre, deals with fundamental issues of life and how he finds mans’ existence within the choices and actions that define him. Since Sartre believes that there is no transcendent this theory causes man to be alone. Man has only himself to fall back on. Man makes his own future through the actions that he makes. This is where man is defined, and his existence finds meaning.

The empirical/rational and formal/material

Kant starts off making two distinctions regarding kinds of knowledge, empirical/rational and formal/material. Empirical or experience-based knowledge is contrasted with rational knowledge, which is independent of experience. This distinction between empirical and rational knowledge rests on a difference in sources of evidence used to support the two different kinds of knowledge. Formal is contrasted with material knowledge. Formal knowledge has no specific subject matter; it is about the general structure of thinking about any subject matter whatsoever.

Material knowledge is of a specific subject matter, either nature or freedom. Rational knowledge is metaphysics, of which there are two branches, the metaphysics of nature and of morals. The metaphysics of nature is supposed to provide rational knowledge of the laws of nature. These are not empirical laws; they are more like universal principles of nature that any empirical physical would presuppose, such as that no event in nature occurs without a natural cause. The metaphysics of freedom is supposed to provide knowledge of the laws of freedom.

These are the universal rules, which free agents devise to govern them. Thus, Kant’s grounding, his initial attempt at a critique of rational reason, is an investigation of the possibility of purely rational knowledge of morals. Take, for example, the Moral Rule: Thou shalt not lie. If the moral law is valid as the basis of moral obligation or duty, then it must be necessary. Kant using the word \”necessity\” means that the rule obligates or binds whatever the conditions or in all circumstances.

It also means that the rule applies to all rational beings and not only to human beings. In this second sense we can say that the rule is universally binding. So in fact, moral rules are universal and necessary. If a moral rule is to be universal and necessary, the moral law must be derived from concepts of pure reason alone. Therefore, if a moral rule or law can only be derived from reason alone, there must be a pure moral philosophy whose task is to provide such a derivation.

In the \”Grounding\”, Kant sets himself the task of establishing the \”supreme principle of morality\” from which to make such a derivation. According to Kant good will and only a good will is intrinsically good. Kant distinguishes two different types of intrinsic or extrinsic goods. If a thing is only extrinsically good, then it is possible for that thing not to be good, or to be bad or evil. Intrinsic goodness is goodness in itself; if a thing is intrinsically good, its goodness is essential to it; and its goodness is not a function of factors other than itself.

Kant holds that only a good will, not happiness, is intrinsically good. The idea that it is reason rather than natural impulse that guides action for the sake of happiness is false. Parts of a person perform their functions by surviving and this provides happiness for the person. Reason functions poorly in serving that purpose; instinct does better job. Natural instinct rather than reason provides better for happiness. Kant distinguishes between having a reason to act and acting for a reason. The motivating reason is the reason for which agent acts.

A justifying reason is the reason that justifies, warrants, and provides the criterion of rightness for the action. The agent’s motivating reason might or might not provide a justifying reason for his action. Kant then defines three types of motivating reasons. One type of non-moral motivation is natural motivation. Action in accord with duty is motivated by immediate or direct inclination. Direct inclination includes such motives as love, sympathy, instinct for self-preservation, or the desire for happiness. The other type of non-moral motivation is prudence.

An action in accord with duty, but motivated by prudence, is action motivated by the pursuit of self-interest or happiness. Since all human beings naturally desire happiness, prudential motivation is indirectly motivated by a natural motivation. Moral motivation is the third type of motivation. The action is not only in accord with duty, but motivated by duty, done from duty, or for sake of duty. The agent’s motivating reason, the reason for which he acts, is that the action is what morality demands and he wants above all to do what reason demands.

Augustine and Freedom: Some Tentative Philosophical Reflections

Evil-doing is neglect of eternal things and love of temporal things to the extent of becoming subject to them. This is done by the free choice of the will . . . Free will makes sin possible but it was given that man might live righteously. 1 This is a brief summary of what Augustine believed regarding (1) the origin of sin and (2) the purpose for which humanity was endowed with free choice of the will.

Though insightful as it may seem, Augustine’s statement will not set to rest all the issues raised by the notion of human freedom and divine activity, since with free choice of the will come perplexing uestions that continue to rage in philosophical circles. Some questions, however, can be set forth that outline parameters within which to begin understanding Augustine on the issue of human freedom and its origins/causes. If evil originates in the human will, from where does the will come? Are there any limitations to human freedom? Is the human will neutral or does it have a bias toward good?

A bias toward evil? Where does free choice of the will come into play when individuals are saved by God’s grace alone? What is meant by free will? On these questions, and many more related, Augustine has been an immense help. In this work an attempt will be made to illustrate Augustine’s view of free will. Such categories as God’s sovereignty in election and salvation, the origin of evil and its impact upon humanity, the justice of God, human responsibility and the providence of God in sanctification of the believer will be utilized.

Augustine’s understanding of human freedom should corroborate with (1) the nature and character of God, (2) the integrity of Scripture and (3) human nature and experience. Finally, an endeavor will be made toward a definition of free will that is faithful to It is important to say that this work is not meant to resolve the tension that has emerged over the centuries between God and human freedom. Philosophical and theological variations on this theme abound. The philosophical nature of the problem alone has resulted in countless monolithic efforts, notwithstanding innumerable theological implications.

If clarification should result from this work, it would more than likely not be the product of this writer’s tentative reflections on the issue. Rather, it would issue from the depth and breadth of wisdom given to he Bishop of Hippo who’s intellect, for at least 1500 years, has enriched the Church of God. It is necessary at the outset to expose what was doctrinally significant for Augustine during the time of his writings on free will. His two most important works on freedom of the will are De Libero Arbitrio (On Free Will) and De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio (On Grace and Free Will).

The former was written early (ca. 387-395) as a charge against the Manichees who believed the world to be the arena within which two opposing forces were at war (good and evil). Human activity, according to the Manichees, was determined by these two powers, which were Augustine believed the Manichean error absolved individuals of moral responsibility. In De Libero Arbitrio he was combating the Manichean heresy that evil’s origin was independent of humanity. Instead, he demonstrates that evil is a product of liberum arbitrium or free choice of the will.

Moreover, Augustine explains why God gives freedom and that it is compatible with The second work was written as a rejoinder to the Pelagian heresy. Though Pelagianism may have been a response to the abuse of grace and the moral laxity of the Christian Church, it was far from being a biblical alternative to Augustine’s teachings. 2 In defending the grace of God as the initial and effectual influence upon the soul’s conversion, Augustine was interpreted as denying free choice of the will. Put simply, to defend grace is to deny freedom.

Pelagius maintained that humanity is born innocent of evil. That evil choices are made is not denied by the Pelagians. Evil springs from bad examples in the environment which persons Those influenced by Pelagius sought to defend free will in salvation and sanctification of the saints at the expense of God’s grace. In De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio (ca. 426-427) Augustine insists upon (1) the insufficiency of human efforts in meriting grace and (2) the undeserved, ecessary, and gratuitous assistance of God in saving and sanctifying the saints.

Augustine’s anthropology significantly contributes to his understanding of free will. Denying Plato’s trichotomy, he affirms a dualistic view of existence; a soul-body distinction wherein an integrative unity of existence obtains. “Regarding [humans] as neither the soul alone nor the body alone but the combination of body and soul”4 is clear reference to Augustine’s dual integration of human nature. The soul is immortal but not eternally existing (contra Plato) and is “a certain substance, sharing in reason and suited to the task of ruling the body.

With this framework in mind, one can proceed in asking questions regarding the constitution of the soul What motivates the will? How does one decide between options? What is behind the capacity to choose? What is the sequence of movement in choices? For Augustine, choices are made based upon motives. Prior to motives are desires and affections. Furthermore, antecedent to desires is a pre-existing inclination, bias, or disposition toward good or evil. This inclination is the first cause, so to speak, of human decisions. But is there a cause beyond the inclination?

In other words, “what cause lies behind willing? “6 Augustine’s answer to this question takes on a somewhat sarcastic tone, yet is intended to show the absurdity of the question. “If I could find one, are you not going to ask for the cause of the cause I have found? What limit will there be to your quest, what end to inquiry and explanation? “7 While it may appear that he is avoiding the question, Augustine does point out that the cause of evil is an evil will and the cause of the evil will is self-determining. And the self is determined to choose for or against x based upon his/her inclination toward or away

This would appear to be in opposition with what has come to be known as one of the standard definitions of freedom, viz. , absolute power to contrary. This explanation of freedom is so prevalent that some have understood it to make God contingent in some way. 8 Alvin Plantinga is often quoted on freedom as power to contrary. If a person is free with respect to a given action, then he is free to perform that action and free to refrain from performing it; no antecedent conditions [italics mine] and/or causal laws determine that he will perform the action, or that he won’t.

It is within his power, at the time in question, to take or perform the action and within his power to refrain from it. 9 But Augustine understood that the antecedent condition for the movement of the will is a prior inclination. Far from coercion, Augustine believed in a predisposed bias or inclination toward either good or evil. Choices, motives, and desires do not happen in a vacuous environment nor are they indifferent to or disinclined toward any direction. Whether human freedom entails power to contrary choice or self-determination depends upon the inclination of the soul.

And he soul’s inclination depends upon which era of human existence is being assumed in the There are four distinct epochs of history in which humans exist. 10 At creation and before the Fall, after the Fall and before regeneration, after regeneration and before glorification and the eternal state after death. Each of these categories are necessary to keep in mind prior to understanding freedom of a creature. It is necessary to define the conditions under which the creature may operate. Otherwise the concept of freedom is unconstrained and confusion First, before the Fall humanity experienced power to contrary choice.

Adam was endowed with the capacity to love and obey God at creation. He was given the freedom to do what he ought. “When we speak of the freedom of the will to do right, we are speaking of the freedom wherein man was created. “11 In this state the gift of freedom was bestowed upon Adam. He could “go straight forward, develop himself harmoniously in untroubled unity with God, and thus gradually attain his final perfection; or he could fall away, engender evil ex nihilo by Humanity is anything but a static being at creation.

Augustine says “Only as originally created, i. e. , before the Fall, had man freedom to will and to do right. 13 Adam was not created neutral nor disinclined (simile Pelagius). For to remain equidistant from both good and evil is to be indifferent, in which case indifference does not apply to the category of freedom since inherent in freedom is the idea of movement. One is free to act or refrain from the act. In either case movement is involved. Stated differently: to move toward the good is to move away from evil and vice versa.

As Shedd puts it: Holy Adam at the instant of his creation did not find himself set to choose either the Creator or the creature as an ultimate end, being indifferent to both, but he ound himself inclined to the Creator . . . His will if created at all must have been created as voluntary, since it could not be created as involuntary or uninclined. This inclination was self-motion. It was the spontaneity of a spiritual essence, not an activity forced ab extra [italics his]. 14 To further demonstrate power to contrary before the Fall, Augustine distinguishes between posse non peccare and possibilitas peccandi.

That is, the possibility of sinning was necessary unto Adam’s freedom but sinning itself was not. In the garden potential freedom from sin belonged to Adam prior to the Fall and its opposite (viz. potential slavery to sin) was equally implied. 15 Had Adam chosen to follow his holy inclination, things would be somewhat different Second, after the Fall Adam had only one inclination, posse peccare, viz. , the ability to sin. Freedom is not thereby removed. It simply takes the shape of self-determination. Fallen persons voluntarily determine to follow their own bent toward evil.

They are self-determined rather than God-determined. “Adam prior to the fall had freedom including both the ability not to sin (posse non peccare) and the ability to sin (posse peccare). But all the descendants of Adam, by reason of their inheritance, have only ability to sin (posse peccare) until they are redeemed. “16 Nevertheless, the unregenerate are periodically capable of complying with the demands of God, sporadically though it may be, in doing those things which are in accordance with God’s Law (cf. , Rom. 2:14-15).

This is not to say God’s Law is fulfilled in any sense in the way it is with believers through the Spirit (cf. , Rom. 8:4). It is unlikely Augustine was correct in applying Romans 2:14-15 to Gentile Christians. 17 It would be quite difficult to explain why Paul says of these so-called Christians that they are “a aw unto themselves,” not to mention Paul’s purpose of the entire pericope (Rom. 1:18-3:20) is to demonstrate that all persons live under the dominion of sin. That some do, on occasion, comply with God’s moral standards is the most this reference says.

And this is a far cry from regeneration. Persons aren’t free to live righteous lives unless they are free from an The third stage of freedom in the saga of human history is after regeneration. That it takes the enabling grace of God to transform the unregenerate is indication enough that free will is self-determination rather than power to contrary. This is probably the hallmark of Augustine’s contribution to Christianity. On the necessity of grace and the restoration of human freedom in salvation Augustine could not be more clear.

For the grace bestowed upon us through Jesus our Lord is neither the knowledge of God’s law nor nature nor the mere remission of sin, but that grace which makes it possible to fulfill the Law so that our nature is set free from the dominion of Still further, Augustine says; “Freewill is always present in us, but it is not always good . . . But the grace of God is always good and brings about a good will in a man who before was ossessed of an evil will. “19 He was emphatic that the ability to perform good works does not merit God’s favor. For it is God alone who enables individuals to believe unto salvation.

God . . . works in us, without our cooperation, the power to will, but once we begin to will, and do so in a way that brings us to act, then it is that He cooperates with us. But if He does not work in us the power to will or does not cooperate in our act of willing, we are powerless to perform good works of a Augustine understood that the same grace that saves is the same grace that sanctifies. Dependence upon God in yielding one’s own will over to God was a continual process that begins at salvation and extends throughout the believer’s life.

Nowhere in Augustine’s writings is the balance between freewill after regeneration (power to contrary) and the rule of God in the believer’s life more clearly seen than in this passage where Augustine reflects upon the He who is thus renewed by daily advancing in the knowledge of God, in righteousness and holiness of truth, is changing in the direction of his love from the temporal to the eternal, from the visible to the intelligible, from the carnal to he spiritual; diligently endeavoring to curb and abate all lust for the one, and to bind himself in charity to the other.

In which all his success depends on the divine aid; for it is the word of God, that without me ye can do nothing. 21 The believer’s will is no longer motivated out of self-interests (self-determination). Rather, it is moved by God’s love and enabled by God’s Spirit to be what he intends. What is lost in salvation is a will that was governed by sinful passions and desires and replaced with voluntary surrender to the One whose will is supremely good and holy.

The first three periods of human freedom (viz. efore the Fall, after the Fall and after regeneration) could be stated in this manner: either God created Adam with (1) a disinclined indifferent will (simile Pelagius), (2) a spontaneous voluntary will inclined toward him, yet not externally compelled toward God or (3) a will disinclined toward him and inclined toward evil. For Augustine, holy inclination is the product of God and the activity of the creature. The possibility to err was present, hence power to contrary. Sinful inclination is both the creature’s product and activity. Holy will is in the self but not from the self.

It is a product of God who riginally and graciously gifted humanity with a desire for fellowship with him. 22 Evil self-determination is both in the self and from the self, hence self-determination. Activity which is self-determined and self-originating is only evil after the Fall and prior to regeneration. After regeneration, the will is restored to its holy inclination whereby power to contrary is reinstated and movement toward a righteous life and away from sin is progressively realized in the life of the believer (cf. , Rom. 6:6, 14a).

The final state of human freedom is the believer’s freedom in eternity. Here the believer will be ransformed into a glorious, immortal being where power to contrary is no longer necessary. Every thought, deed, and motive will be free to be all that God intended. In the glorified state the conditions will be such that individuals no longer are inclined away from God and toward evil. The tenacious problem Paul calls the “flesh” will be laid to rest once and for all.

“Making choices consistent with nature confirmed in righteousness will be our highest freedom! 23 If these categories obtain and (1) the conditions of the Fall radically affected human freedom and (2) redemption restores human freedom, then what is the source of sin? In the company of Augustine, one cannot discuss human freedom without discussing the origin of evil. According to Augustine, “There are two sources of sin, a man’s own spontaneous thought, and the persuasion of a neighbor . . . Both, however, are voluntary. “24 Sin issues from within and without. There are two mediums through which sin enters: (1) the bodily senses and (2) evil desires (cf. , I Jn. 2:14-15; Jam. 1: 14).

In either case the will is utilized. “Sins . . . are to be ascribed to nothing but to their own wills, and no further cause for sins is to be looked for. “25 That persons are both impotent and ignorant does not make them less guilty before God. These are the conditions under which unregenerate creatures exist. Ignorance and impotence Analogously, a drought is not the cause of hunger; lack of food is. The drought may be the condition under which hunger occurs, but it is not the cause of hunger. So too, God created the condition (viz. , freedom) from which humans could move closer toward him.

Adam voluntarily chose otherwise and, hence, became guilty. The cause of the guilt is the misuse of the condition (freedom). In essence, God caused the condition, Adam abused it and, Why should not the Author of the soul be praised with due piety if he has given it so good a start that it may by zeal and progress reach the fruit of wisdom and justice, and has given it so much dignity as to put within its power the capacity to grow towards happiness if it will? 26 Though God gives freedom at creation he is not to be charged with its misuse.

“The soul was not created evil because it was not given all that it had power to become. 27 The purpose for which God gifted his creatures with freedom was that they might live righteously. God is exonerated and humanity, being the efficient cause of evil/sin, is guilty. One might argue that “Freedom is not possible due to God having foreknowledge. Whether freedom be defined as power to contrary or self-determination, the creature is certain to choose what God has already known and, therefore, cannot be free in any sense.

A deterministic or even fatalistic view of God and his creation is the only possible alternative, given the infallible foreknowledge of God. Once again, the Bishop of Hippo provides a great deal of aid in understanding the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom In De Libero Arbitrio Evodius asks Augustine, “Since God foreknew that man would sin, that hich God foreknew must come to pass. How then is the will free when there is apparently this unavoidable necessity? “28 Augustine is quick to point out the disjunctive thinking on the matter. First, it assumes an either/or scenario (bifurcation) and doesn’t offer a third alternative, viz. , that God has foreknowledge of the power to will.

Second, this disjunction assumes, unnecessarily so, that foreknowledge is somehow causative. Once again, this Third, it makes foreknowledge out to be far more than is intended at this point. Augustine clearly states that foreknowledge is prescience, or knowing beforehand. God by his foreknowledge does not use compulsion in the case of future events . . . God has foreknowledge of all his own actions, but is not the agent of all that he foreknows . . . he has no responsibility for the future actions of men though he knows them beforehand. “29 God foreknew, for example, in 1899 that scores of Kosovo inhabitants would be brutely murdered in 1999.

This knowledge does not implicate God as responsible. The dilemma of foreknowledge and freedom has, for more than 17 centuries, troubled philosophers and theologians to their grave and, no doubt, will continue to do so. 30 Central to oth foreknowledge and freedom are (1) the infallible knowledge of God and (2) some idea of human freedom other than a hard determinism. Closely related to this problem is the question of God’s relationship to time. There is a sense in which one cannot begin to wrestle with the dilemma of foreknowledge and freedom until the issue of God’s relationship to time is resolved.

The simplest form of the equation would be to hold that God is timeless, which appears to be Augustine’s view. For He [God] does not pass from this to that by transition of thought, but beholds all things with absolute unchangeableness; so that of those things which emerge n time, the future, indeed are not yet, and the present are now, and the past no longer are; but all of these are by Him comprehended in His stable and eternal Certainly it would seem that if God has knowledge of all free choices, past, present and future, then he would have to have a vantage point outside of time in order to not be constrained by sequence.

On this, Geisler is correct in saying that “God knows everything in the eternal present but He does not know everything as the present moment in time; He knows the past as past, the future as future, etc. “32 [italics his]. Therefore, it could be said hat God knows all things a priori, yet sees them as a posteriori. But how does this position on foreknowledge and freedom cohere with Augustine’s view of salvation?

If it is true that God’s foreknowledge does not cause free decisions and humans are incapable of coming to God on their own, how does anyone enter into the kingdom? At this point it would be helpful to distinguish different categories of causes. Aristotle points to four kinds of causes for any given effect: (1) material, (2) efficient, (3) formal and (4) final or ultimate. God is the final or ultimate cause of all things but not the aterial or efficient cause of all things. Put simply, God efficiently, materially and ultimately causes regeneration of the soul.

He creates the conditions under which humans can freely love him (freedom = the material cause), lovingly persuades some to believe (enabling grace = the efficient cause) and carries them on to completion in the eternal state (gift of perseverance = final or ultimate cause). Augustine, throughout his writings, exonerates God of being the efficient cause of evil. That God decrees, in an ultimate sense, the means and the ends does not entail him being responsible for them. 3 Application of a singular causality principle to the metaphysical problem of freedom and evil is short-sighted, not to mention an informal fallacy.

That freedom is, in itself, a good thing given by God to the creature. Augustine states “free will, . . . is a good thing divinely bestowed, and that those are to be condemned who make a bad use of it. “34 The cause of human freedom is God, yet the cause of sin and evil is the use of freedom, which is in accordance with the antecedent inclination of the will. Augustine illustrates the responsible/irresponsible use of a good thing. If you see a man without feet you will admit that, from the point of view of the wholeness of his body, a very great good is wanting.

And yet you would not deny that a man makes a bad use of his feet who uses them to hurt another or to Due to a sinful disposition or the bias toward evil no one can, apart from God’s intervening grace, choose to enter the kingdom. “Good works do not produce grace but are produced by grace. “36 And “calling [by God] precedes the good will . . . without his calling we cannot even Though God’s foreknowledge includes all free decisions, he does not share responsibility for them all. God is no more responsible for the misuse of freedom any more than the giver of a gift is responsible for how the gift is used.

For example, one might receive a gift of $1,000 to be used in helping an orphanage. If a high-powered rifle were instead purchased, then used to assassinate the President of the United States this in no way implicates any guilt on the part of the giver. Likewise, God gives the gift of freedom (and all things, for that matter), but he is not morally responsible for how it is used (cf. , 1 Cor. 4:7b). God is behind all free decisions in an ultimate sense, behind free decisions in salvation in an fficient sense and behind free decisions unto reprobation only in a material sense.

Consequently, “it is far from the truth that the sins of the creature must be attributed to the Creator, even though those things must necessarily happen which he has foreknown. “38 The ability to believe is the material cause of salvation. For the effectiveness of God’s mercy cannot be in the power of man to frustrate, if he will have none of it. If God wills to have mercy on men, he can call them in a way that is suited to them, so that they will be moved to understand and to follow . . . t is false to say that “it is not of God who hath mercy but of man who willeth and runneth,” because God has mercy on no man in vain.

He calls the man on whom he has mercy in the way he knows will suit him, so that he will not refuse the call [italics mine]. 39 God’s decrees do not entail him being the material, efficient, formal and final cause of everything. It would be tantamount to blasphemy to assert that the perfect, holy and just God is the author of evil or sin. Evil is a deprivation or a lack of something that ought to have been otherwise. The lack of sight is, for a person, an evil whereas it isn’t for a tree. When the Bible speaks of God creating disaster or clamity (evil in Hebrew, cf. Is. 45:7) it is in the context of divine judgment upon a nation who ought to have behaved otherwise.

He is the efficient cause of judgment upon sin! One other aspect of God’s omniscience must be broached as it relates to human freedom. This is probably one of the most controversial facets of divine omniscience. It has been called various things such as contingent knowledge or middle knowledge. Put simply, God knows not only what will occur at all times by all people, but he knows what might occur given other variables which may have been different.

If God’s knowledge of all things actual and possible is simultaneous, then middle knowledge is nothing more than a heuristic means for understanding the logical processes of God’s thought. Whether or not Augustine held to any kind of middle (or contingent) knowledge of God is difficult to know. It is only mentioned to illustrate the scope of possible relationships between God’s knowledge and human choices. Craig says: Since God knows what any free creature would do in any situation, he can, by creating the appropriate situations, bring it about that creatures will achieve his ends and purposes and that they will do so freely .

Only an infinite Mind could calculate the unimaginably complex and numerous factors that would need to be combined in order to bring about through the free decisions of creatures a single Middle knowledge could serve to bridge the gap between God knowing all things simultaneously and the order of events which occur in the world that God foreknows will happen. Moreover, there are other kinds of relationships between subject and object than merely cause/effect. Craig demonstrates the difference between cause/effect and ground/consequent relationships that clearly show God’s foreknowledge of future events is not ausative.

He does this by suggesting that God foreknows x, because x will take place. The word because here indicates a logical, not a causal relation, one similar to that expressed in the sentence ‘four is an even number because it is divisible by two. ‘ The word because expresses a logical relation of ground and consequent. God’s foreknowledge is chronologically prior to [x], but [x] is logically prior to God’s But this argument is a double-edged sword.

If God foreknows x because it will take place, then is it not equally true that x will take place because God foreknows it, given the same elationship (i. . , ground/consequent) exists? In other words, the ground or basis upon which free choices are made is God’s infallible foreknowledge and free human choices are the consequent. God’s foreknowledge may be chronologically prior to the actualizing of a free choice, but this in no way makes his foreknowledge contingent. Otherwise, he makes decisions Election and the sovereignty of God demonstrate that he uses the perdition of some as a general deterrent from sin and the salvation of some as a general incentive for salvation (cf. , Rom. 9:10-29).

Substance Dualism Essay

I believe that the popular or “ghost in the machine” form of substance dualism best solves the mind body problem. My views in this area have been influenced by my twelve years of Catholic education. The soul, or mind, depending on your level of belief, was a complete and separate entity and was the center of a human being. The body was an ambulatory device that the soul directed. The idea that the mind is a separate entity and that it is independent of the physical body is the central point of substance dualism.

Churchland explains that substance dualism claims that the mind is a distinct nonphysical hing, a complete nonphysical entity that is independent of any physical body to which it is temporarily attached. Any and all mental states and activities, as well as physical ones, originate from this unique entity. Substance dualism states that the real essence of you has nothing to do with your physical body, but rather from the distinct nonphysical entity of the mind. The mind is in constant interaction with the body. The body’s sense organs create experiences in the mind. The desires and decisions of the mind cause the body to act in certain ways.

This is what makes each mind’s body its own. The popular or “ghost in the machine” form of substance dualism states that a person is a “ghost in a machine”, the ghost being the mind or spirit and the machine is the body. Within this description, the mind/spirit controls the body and is in intimate contact with the brain. The brain would be the nexus between the mind and body. The popular form of substance dualism was adopted after the difficulties of Cartesian dualism could not be overcome. Rene Descartes stated that the nonphysical and the physical could not interact.

This became a problem n dualism since the nonphysical mind needed to interact with the physical body. These difficulties provided a motive for the move to popular substance dualism. The first major argument for substance dualism is religion. Each of the major religions place belief in life after death that there is an immortal soul that will survive death. This very closely resembles substance dualism. The mind can be substituted for the immortal soul. In fact the two are almost interchangeable. This argument is primarily the basis for my own belief in substance dualism.

My personal experiences as a religion student give me insight nto this argument. The second major argument for substance dualism is irreducibility. This points to a variety of mental phenomena that no physical explanation could account for what is going on. An example would be the quality and meaningful content of human thoughts and beliefs. These things cannot be reduced to purely physical terms, hence irreducibility. This is also another good argument that I can understand from personal experiences. I cannot reduce my reactions and feelings toward how a steak tastes to a mathematical equation.

This is the same idea. The final argument for substance dualism is arapsychological phenomena. Mental powers such as telepathy, precognition, telekinesis, and clairvoyance are all near impossible to explain within the boundaries of physics and psychology. These phenomena reflect the nonphysical and supernatural nature that dualism gives to the mind. Because I believe in these phenomena, it seems logical to me that parapsychology is an excellent argument for substance dualism. These arguments give a good basis for a philosopher to believe in substance dualism. However there are also serious arguments against it.

The first major argument against dualism is simplicity. Materialists state that because their view is simpler (they only believe in one thing- that which is physical) it is more rational to subscribe to their view. The materialist point of view is also easier to prove because there is no doubt that physical matter exists, while nonphysical matter is currently a hypothesis. This argument seems very illogical to me. Philosophical views should be chosen because one makes more sense to you, not because one has a smaller number of ideas within it. The second major argument against substance dualism is explanatory impotence.

Materialists can explain anything physical through cientific study, whereas dualists can explain nothing because no theory has ever been formulated. Churchland says, “… dualism is less a theory of mind than it is an empty space waiting for a genuine theory of mind to be put in”. I see one flaw with the materialist theory here. The mind in the dualist theory may use a form of energy transfer not yet discovered by science. Centuries ago, undiscovered forms of science were refuted and called “magic”. In the future, The mind may become completely understood by science. The third argument against substance dualism is neural dependence.

That he mental capacities depend on the brain’s neural activities. The materialists show that the mind is altered when the brain is altered by drugs or injuries. I would explain this by saying that since the mind is a separate nonphysical entity and cannot interact with physical matter, it needs a focal point to control the body from. This focal point is the brain. The mind and the brain are so intimately intertwined any disruption of the brain will affect the mind. The Final argument against substance dualism is evolutionary history. The materialist states that human beings have been incrementally built up from impler physical creatures.

This is evolution. Because this is a pure physical process and the simpler creatures we were constructed from had no nonphysical mind, there is no way to account for our mind. This is a difficult argument to win. The only rebuttal I can give is that because we are a pinnacle of evolution, we developed the nonphysical mind along with free-will and our level of intelligence. This may be an extremely arrogant and proud view, but it is the only one I can think of. I believe that the strength of dualism’s positive arguments outweighs is detractions.

The Transcendental Movement of 1830s

In 1830, a movement known as Transcendentalism began to gain popularity in America. Representing an idealistic system of thought, “strength, courage, self-confidence, and independence of mind”1 were some basic values admired by the followers of the Transcendental movement. Transcendentalists opposed many aspects of their government, where they felt “many unjust laws existed. “2 Therefore, they became the leaders of many modern reform movements. Transcendentalists also had a major affect on their society.

Transcendentalism became a “powerful force for democracy. 3 Originating in the area in and around Concord, Massachusettes, Transcendentalism was recognized as having an “underlying relationship to the Romantic movement as a whole. “4 Three of the most obvious or well known sources or origin of Transcendentalism are neo-platonism, German idealistic philosophy, and certain Eastern mystical writings which were introduced into the Boston area in the early nineteenth century. “5

Transcendental beliefs focused on “the importance of spirit over matter. 6 Ralph Waldo Emerson, a well known Transcendentalist, felt that all men aspire to the highest, and most of them spend their lives seeking money and power only because they see nothing higher. “7 Followers also believed in a spiritual hunger, or the need to find themselves one with the world. In addition, they believed in “an ascending hierarchy of spiritual values rising to absolute good, truth, and beauty. “8 Transcendentalists also believed in a supreme being, the Oversoul, and felt that “if the Oversoul is all powerful and at the same time good, then evil does not exist. 9

Transcendentalism “appealed to the best side of human nature, onfident in the divine spark in all men, and it was a clarion call to throw off the shackles of custom and tradition, and go forward to the development of a new and distinct American culture. “10 It was believed that human nature was basically good since “God was in every person. “11 Therefore, “man, because he isthe creature of God, necessarily partakes of the divine nature of his creator. “12 Man’s creator, the Oversoul, was conceived by Emerson as an “all pervading spiritual power from which all things emanate, and from which man derives the divine spark of his inner eing. 13 This Oversoul is “by definition good. “14

The Oversoul “dwelt within human beings as well as in nature. “15 The Transcendentalists also supported many various reform movements such as the following: suffrage for women, better conditions for workers, temperance for all, modifications of dress and diet, the rise of free religion, educational innovation, and other various humanitarian causes. The Transcendentalists became leaders or spokesmen of reform movements in church, state, and society.

Transcendentalists are also known for contributing to the rise of free eligion, aiding the abolitionist movement, supporting feminism, and promoting communitarian experiments. In the abolitionist movement, many reformers felt that “when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army and subject to military law, then it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. “16 Transcendentalism’s affect on society was tremendous.

Because they led many reform movements and rejected the conventional ideas of the eighteenth entury thought, a rift began to form between the old and new ideas in society. Transcendentalism represented a battle between the older and the younger generations. It also represented an emergence of a new national culture based on native materials. This began to influence a break in American culture. Transcendentalism encouraged “a complete break with tradition and custom, encouraged individualism and self-reliance and rejected a too-intellectual approach to life. 17

It becamea call for “young men to slough off their deadening enslavement to the past, to follow he God within, and to live every moment of life with a strenuousness that rivalled that of the Puritan fathers. “18 The main weakness of this seemingly perfect idea of Transcendentalism ist that it had “borrowed from many sources and reconciled few of them. “19 It was never united by a set program. Transcendentalism was comprised of the various interests and labors of many different personal concepts. Therefore, there were many conflicting values which made it an unsteady system to follow.

At the time of the Transcendentalism movement, “it preached, racticed, an idealism that was greatly needed in a rapidly expanding economy. “20 However, soon people began to find other, more comprehensible means of dealing within society. Therefore, they began to turn away from Transcendentalism. However, even though Transcendentalism is non-existent as a whole today, many of its ideas, values, and morals are still present in many of the religions and beliefs of today’s society. In conclusion, Transcendentalism will always be present in the world, it just will not have as obvious a presence.

A Philosophical Rationalism

Strongly influenced by the rise of modern science and by the aftermath of the long religious conflict that followed the Reformation, the thinkers of the Enlightenment (called philosophes in France) were committed to secular views based on reason or human understanding only, which they hoped would provide a basis for beneficial changes affecting every area of life and thought.

Denis Diderot, advocated a philosophical rationalism deriving its methods from science and natural philosophy that would replace religion as the means of knowing nature and destiny of humanity; The philosophes believed that science could reveal nature as it truly is and show how it could be controlled and manipulated. The enlightened understanding of human nature was one that emphasized the right to self-expression and human fulfillment, the right to think freely and express one’s views publicly without censorship or fear of repression.

Voltaire admired the freedom he found in England and fostered the spread of English ideas on the Continent. Enlightened political thought expressed demands for equality and justice and for the legal changes needed to realize these goals. The Enlightenment came to an end in western Europe after the upheavals of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era (1789-1815) revealed the costs of its political program and the lack of commitment in those whose rhetoric was often more liberal than their actions.

Nationalism undercut its cosmopolitan values and assumptions about uman nature, and the romantics attacked its belief that clear intelligible answers could be found to every question asked by people who sought to be free and happy. The skepticism of the philosophes was swept away in the religious revival of the 1790s and early 1800s, and the cultural leadership of the landed aristocracy and professional men who had supported the Enlightenment was eroded by the growth of a new wealthy educated class of businessmen, products of the industrial revolution.

Sam Vaknin’s Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Foreign Affairs Web Sites

“The new narcissist is haunted not by guilt but by anxiety. He seeks not to inflict his own certainties on others but to find a meaning in life. Liberated from the superstitions of the past, he doubts even the reality of his own existence. Superficially relaxed and tolerant, he finds little use for dogmas of racial and ethnic purity but at the same time forfeits the security of group loyalties and regards everyone as a rival for the favors conferred by a paternalistic state. His sexual attitudes are permissive rather than puritanical, even though his emancipation from ancient taboos brings him no sexual peace.

Fiercely competitive in his demand for approval and acclaim, he distrusts competition because he associates it unconsciously with an unbridled urge to destroy. Hence he repudiates the competitive ideologies that flourished at an earlier stage of capitalist development and distrusts even their limited expression in sports and games. He extols cooperation and teamwork while harboring deeply antisocial impulses. He praises respect for rules and regulations in the secret belief that they do not apply to himself.

Acquisitive in the sense that his cravings have no limits, he does not accumulate goods and provisions against the future, in the manner of the acquisitive individualist of nineteenth-century political economy, but demands immediate gratification and lives in a state of restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire. ” (Christopher Lasch – The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an age of Diminishing Expectations, 1979) A characteristic of our times is the predominance, even in groups traditionally selective, of the mass and the vulgar.

Thus, in intellectual life, which of its essence requires and presupposes qualification, one can note the progressive triumph of the pseudo-intellectual, unqualified, unqualifiable… ” (Jose Ortega y Gasset – The Revolt of the Masses, 1932) Can Science be passionate? This question seems to sum up the life of Christopher Lasch, erstwhile a historian of culture later transmogrified into an ersatz prophet of doom and consolation, a latter day Jeremiah. Judging by his (prolific and eloquent) output, the answer is a resounding no.

There is no single Lasch. This chronicler of culture, did so mainly by chronicling his inner turmoil, conflicting ideas and ideologies, emotional upheavals, and intellectual vicissitudes. In this sense, of (courageous) self-documentation, Mr. Lasch epitomized Narcissism, was the quintessential Narcissist, the better positioned to criticize the phenomenon. Some “scientific” disciplines (e. g. , the history of culture and History in general) are closer to art than to the rigorous (a. . a. exact” or “natural” or “physical” sciences).

Lasch borrowed heavily from other, more established branches of knowledge without paying tribute to the original, strict meaning of concepts and terms. Such was the use that he made of “Narcissism”. “Narcissism” is a relatively well-defined psychological term. I expound upon it elsewhere (“Malignant self Love – Narcissism Re-Visited”). The Narcissistic Personality Disorder – the acute form of pathological Narcissism – is the name given to a group of 9 symptoms (see: DSM-4).

They include: a grandiose Self (illusions of grandeur coupled with an inflated, unrealistic sense of the Self), inability to empathize with the Other, the tendency to exploit and manipulate others, idealization of other people (in cycles of idealization and devaluation), rage attacks and so on. Narcissism, therefore, has a clear clinical definition, etiology and prognosis. The use that Lasch makes of this word has nothing to do with its usage in psychopathology. True, Lasch did his best to sound “medicinal”. He spoke of “(national) malaise” and accused the American society of lack of self-awareness.

But choice of words does not a coherence make. Lasch was a member, by conviction, of an imaginary “Pure Left”. This turned out to be a code for an odd mixture of Marxism, religious fundamentalism, populism, Freudian analysis, conservatism and any other -ism that Lasch happened to come across. Intellectual consistency was not Lasch’s strong point, but this is excusable, even commendable in the search for Truth. What is not excusable is the passion and conviction with which Lasch imbued the advocacy of each of these consecutive and mutually exclusive ideas.

The Culture of Narcissism – American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations” was published in the first year of the unhappy presidency of Jimmy Carter (1979). The latter endorsed the book publicly (in his famous “national malaise” speech). The main thesis of the book is that the Americans have created a self-absorbed (though not self aware), greedy and frivolous society which depended on consumerism, demographic studies, opinion polls and Government to know and to define itself. What is the solution? Lasch proposed a “return to basics”: self-reliance, the family, nature, the community, and the Protestant work ethic.

To those who adhere, he promised an elimination of their feelings of alienation and despair. The apparent radicalism (the pursuit of social justice and equality) was only that: apparent. The New Left was morally self-indulgent. In an Orwellian manner, liberation became tyranny and transcendence – irresponsibility. The “democratization” of education: “… has neither improved popular understanding of modern society, raised the quality of popular culture, nor reduced the gap between wealth and poverty, which remains as wide as ever.

On the other hand, it has contributed to the decline of critical thought and the erosion of intellectual standards, forcing us to consider the possibility that mass education, as conservatives have argued all along, is intrinsically incompatible with the maintenance of educational standards”. Lasch derided capitalism, consumerism and corporate America as much as he loathed the mass media, the government and even the welfare system (intended to deprive its clients of their moral responsibility and indoctrinate them as victims of social circumstance).

These always remained the villains. But to this – classically leftist – list he added the New Left. He bundled the two viable alternatives in American life and discarded them both. Anyhow, capitalism’s days were numbered, a contradictory system as it was, resting on “imperialism, racism, elitism, and inhuman acts of technological destruction”. What was left except God and the Family? Lasch was deeply anti-capitalist. He rounded up the usual suspects with the prime suspect being multinationals.

To him, it wasn’t only a question of exploitation of the working masses. Capitalism acted as acid on the social and moral fabrics and made them disintegrate. Lasch adopted, at times, a theological perception of capitalism as an evil, demonic entity. Zeal usually leads to inconsistency of argumentation: Lasch claimed, for instance, that capitalism negated social and moral traditions while pandering to the lowest common denominator. There is a contradiction here: social mores and traditions are, in many cases, THE lowest common denominator.

Lasch displayed a total lack of understanding of market mechanisms and the history of markets. True, markets start out as mass-oriented and entrepreneurs tend to mass- produce to cater to the needs of the newfound consumers. However, as markets evolve – they fragment. Individual nuances of tastes and preferences tend to transform the mature market from a cohesive, homogenous entity – to a loose coalition of niches. Computer aided design and production, targeted advertising, custom made products, personal services – are all the outcomes of the maturation of markets.

It is where capitalism is absent that uniform mass production of goods of shoddy quality takes over. This may have been Lasch’s biggest fault: that he persistently and wrong-headedly ignored reality when it did not serve his pet theorizing. He made up his mind and did not wish to be confused by the facts. The facts are that all the alternatives to the known four models of capitalism (the Anglo-Saxon, the European, the Japanese and the Chinese) have failed miserably and have led to the very consequences that Lasch warned against in capitalism.

It is in the countries of the former Soviet Bloc, that social solidarity has evaporated, that traditions were trampled upon, that religion was brutally suppressed, that pandering to the lowest common denominator was official policy, that poverty – material, intellectual and spiritual – became all pervasive, that people lost all self reliance and communities disintegrated. There is nothing to excuse Lasch: the Wall fell in 1989.

An inexpensive trip would have confronted him with the results of the alternatives to capitalism. That he failed to acknowledge his life-long misconceptions and compile the Lasch errata cum mea culpa is the sign of deep-seated intellectual dishonesty. The man was not interested in the truth. In many respects, he was a propagandist. Worse, he combined an amateurish understanding of the Economic Sciences with the fervor of a fundamentalist preacher to produce an absolutely non-scientific discourse.

Let us analyze what he regarded as the basic weakness of capitalism (in “The True and Only Heaven”, 1991): its need to increase capacity and production ad infinitum in order to sustain itself. Such a feature would have been destructive if capitalism were to operate in a closed system. The finiteness of the economic sphere would have brought capitalism to ruin.

But the world is NOT a closed economic system. ,000,000 new consumers are added annually, markets globalize, trade barriers are falling, international trade is growing three times faster than the worlds GDP and still accounts for less than 15% of it, not to mention space exploration which is at its inception. The horizon is, for all practical purposes, unlimited. The economic system is, therefore, open. Capitalism will never be defeated because it has an infinite number of consumers and markets to colonize.

That is not to say that capitalism will not have its crises, even crises of over-capacity. But such crises are a part of the business cycle not of the underlying market mechanism. They are adjustment pains, the noises of growing up – not the last gasps of dying. To claim otherwise is either to deceive or to be spectacularly ignorant not only of economic fundamentals but of what is happening in the world. It is as intellectually rigorous as the “New Paradigm” which says, in effect, that the business cycle and inflation are both dead and buried.

Three Sweeping Reforms

Of all the questions posed to the class only one question really made me think. Socrates had a grand ideal for a city of sorts and how he, with his fellow philosophers, would plan it out. All of the ideas they came up with for their city, like physical training and a specific education for the guardians made sense. After he started down the path of planning for the guardians, his fellow philosophers mentioned the common people. Socrates knows this will be one of the hardest sells. So he breaks his ideas into waves of change that must take place in order for his city to be a success.

This is where the ideal city’s blue prints start to break down. Of the waves or blue prints, the first wave is where he states the idea of common tasks for both men and women, or equality of the sexes. That is to say, he recognized a physical difference but wanted to make the sexes as equal as possible. The second wave is women and children are to be held in common. This means that there cannot be marriage and what we recognize as family. He wishes to break down the nuclear family while allowing only select individuals to reproduce to get the highest quality of workers.

Lastly, the hird and final wave is that the king must be a philosopher. The whole book of The Republic was building up to this point. Socrates was building a city where he and his cronies will get to be kings and everyone else is led to believe they are the best for the job of king. To build a great city one must start with sound blue prints that have been checked for flaws and quality building material. This is very logical. First you have your basic farmers, craftspeople, and herds people. After that, you have sales people, cashiers, builders, ironworkers, and special goods’ makers.

The next progression would be soldiers, merchants, and rtisans. Now that you have good solid building blocks of a city, you can start the building process of walls and such of your ideal structure. The structure of the city is the most important. How you draw up the blue prints, the revision of each and every drawing, and the execution of each plan to this city will decide how long the city will last through time. Socrates and his fellow philosophers were trying to build the best dwelling for their city.

The roof was in the process of being build, what with the education they decided the guardians would need, and the idea that they ould have to be physically fit and well as mentally fit, but they were missing the blue prints for the walls. This is where the three waves of reform come into play. This is where they plan the non-guardian’s, bricks if you will, placement in their house’s blue prints. The first wave, or drawing that will establish the first basic idea in Socrates’ plan is the idea that both men and women can and will share in all tasks. That is to say, that there is no assigned roles for males and females.

That means if a woman has the qualities to be a guardian then she must then be educated the same as the men in the city. Socrates proves this through the following quote, “So one woman may have a guardian nature and another not… Therefore, men and women are by nature the same with respect to guarding the city… Then women of this sort must be chosen along with men of the same sort to live with them and share their guardianship… it isn’t against nature to assign an education in music, poetry, and physical training to the wives of the guardians…

It’s rather the way things are at present that seems to be against nature. ” (Morgan, p. 99) But it is more then just equality of the sexes. Socrates wants men and omen to train their minds as well as their bodies together. This means classrooms shared by both. Gymnasiums shared by both. Even music rooms will be shared by both males and females in the drawing. Even Socrates knew this was a problem for the general public as well as his fellow philosophers. This wave goes against the common thought of Socrates’ time because the majority of people felt men should do more than women should.

Though some of the philosophers took to the idea rather quickly, Socrates had to convince most of them to his way of thinking. First he took on the idea by arguing that “… ren’t we in this ridiculous position because at that time we did not introduce every form of difference and sameness in nature, but focused on the one form of sameness and difference that was relevant to the particular ways of life themselves? We meant, for example, that a male and female doctor have souls of the same nature. ” (Morgan, p. 9)

He meant that previously himself and the other philosophers discussed the idea of a person of a particular type of soul suited for carpentry shouldn’t try to be a plumber because that wasn’t what he would be well suited for. Socrates wishes that the skeptical philosophers apply this ame logic to women as well as men for then they would see that the souls of women wanted to do the same things the souls of men did. They wanted to learn the same crafts, ideas, or physical training that the men would need to learn to be successful in their born into field of work.

He had another roadblock from the philosophers by way of the physical training of the women for a chosen field of work. In Roman times, men would work out with out the hindrance of clothes. The philosophers in this discussion were concerned about the need for the women to practice and train in the nude as well. Socrates eased their mind in this way: “I think that, after it was found in practice to be better to strip then to cover up all those parts, then what was ridiculous to the eyes faded away in the face of that argument showed to be the best. ” (Morgan, p. 7)

This is stating that when the end result is a better body, then the bits and pieces that make up the body, male or female, will become irrelevant. After Socrates overcame that blue print revision for a wall in his ideal city, he brought up the next blue print for the next wall. This one was of his structure of the family in his city. He felt that all children and women should be held in common, and given to the men who were of like nature to the women. They would live in a common dwelling and eat a common meal. The only problem he foresaw was the men and women wanting to ‘.. be driven by the innate necessity to have sex with one another’.

Socrates thought to over come this problem by a lottery. He would have a lottery to pick what men and women would be allowed to have sex. These chosen men and women will not have one partner, but will switch partners. This would be hard for the people of Socrates’ time as well as eople of our society today to accept this new, radical idea. It is hard for people to forget the current structure of society and accept something like this. Now the lottery wouldn’t be a true lottery. The guardians would fix the lottery so only the strongest, cleverest, or most beneficial to the city will get to breed.

He felt you could manipulate the general population with festivals and sacrifices to bring brides and grooms together in sacred marriage bonds. There would be poems and songs that would establish the importance of these festivals to help the unpicked brides and grooms to feel unlucky instead of cheated. He also wanted the children to be raised communally so he could pick and choose which children will be reared and which children would be “… hid in a secret and unknown place” (Morgan, p. 102) and left to die. Since this practice of infanticide was common place, he and his fellow philosophers didn’t really see a problem with this practice.

Socrates goes on to explain that it is important for the people of the city to view it as the best city, and to love it with all their passion. If there is marriage and romantic love, then the love for the city will be divided between the family and the state. Instead of this romantic love, eople of the city should have brotherly love, or love for the state and only the state. Also the people of the city should have love for wisdom and true knowledge because all of these types of love would unite the city to the greatest possible extent.

The last blue print Socrates needs to explain to the other philosophers was the easiest of them to get okayed. In this drawing, the wall for the city would be build for a king. Or, rather, built up for who Socrates felt should be a king. The only problem Socrates had was the people. This would be a tough sell for the people of Socrates’ time to embrace because the ajority of these people did not like the actions of philosophers, and for them to be ruled by philosophers would be hard for them to accept. Socrates goes on to explain that a philosopher loves everything, and has true knowledge.

They have entered the realm of forms and they understand everything through knowledge and not opinion or senses. A king as a philosopher can therefore tell differences of the roles in the city because he or she is wise. These philosophers are the only people who actually know what justice is, and can therefore watch to make sure the city is run in he proper manner. As Socrates says “Until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize… ities will have no rest from evils… nor… will the human race.

And, until this happens, the constitution we’ve been describing in theory will never be born to the fullest extent possible or see the light of the sun… it’s hard to face up to the fact that there can be no happiness, either public or private, in any other city” (Morgan, p. 110). The philosophers are the only ones that can see the light and have an nderstanding of what it takes to have a just city and the things that need to be done for the city to be run properly.

If the city has philosophers as kings, it is only then that the city will have true justice and it is only then that the city will be as close to Socrates’ model as possible. And that is why he had all of these blue prints if you will, to show the possibility of his city. All of these blue prints bring into question the feasibility of Socrates’ ideal state when it comes to getting the common people to go along with this plan. It is extremely hard for anyone in societies around the world to imply drop everything and completely change their lifestyles to try and enter a theoretical city.

In order to get this city started and as close to theoretical as possible, lies would be told. Socrates tries to get around these lies by calling them other things such as myths, or noble falsehoods when, in actuality, they are still lies. The first lie explains to the people why they must live as they do, and it also explains why they are in the classes that they are in. The second lie tries to hide the truth from its population through the lottery system and will make the city more intelligent and moral.

These lies are the basis of the city, and without them the city cannot be established in real life because people would not accept the city. If this is an ideal state, then why does Socrates need to tell lies to its people to keep it running? These are just a few problems in Socrates’ Republic. Most of his points could be enacted if they were taken singularly enacted of if they were gradually introduced. But if all of the plans were to be built exactly as shown, the people or material as I was calling them, will start to break down. Or, if the problems were big enough, a total breakdown of the entire structure.

Kant: Goodness Essay

The philosopher I used is Immanuel Kant. He was very practical in his thinking of goodness. A quote of his was “I ought, therefore I can”. His view was good anything is under good will . He believed good will was the primary goodness, good in its purest form, and that it couldn’t be corrupted. Good feelings and good intentions and actions can be interpreted in different ways; man can corrupt these things into evil… even though it still might be good in that man’s eyes. What he’s really trying to say is that good will is good in its objective form. Therefore, it defines goodness.

A few examples of forms of oodness that could be corrupt are intelligence, courage, and resolution. These things can be very good, but can be used for evil as well. The short story I would like to allude to in order to connect these themes and ideas is “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. The title even has “good” in it… and according to Kant, goodness in its purest form is good will. The question now would be, does the Misfit have good will? Is what he is doing good, objectively, and purely? He is purging and purifying the world. He is Christ like in many senses.

He is purifying the world by purging it of its evil… relating to the Old Testament. God decided that the human race was too evil to survive, so he flooded it. God killed, as well as the Misfit. This isn’t the same as Christ, though; it just adds to the religious element. Christ’s mission was to try and rid the world of evil, and sacrificed for it. The Misfit sacrificed his freedom initially, was “reborn” again by escaping from jail, and become a Christ like figure again… he’s now reborn, and his mission has an even stronger exclamation point on it, just like Christ’s after he was resurrected.

The literal differences are obvious; Christ never held anyone at gunpoint, let alone kill old ladies (no matter HOW hateful). But the allusions above illustrate that the Misfit was indeed a Christ-like figure with good intentions; good will . The Misfit was in a world of evil where he felt it was his mission, as well as his intention and his will, to be the savior of the good people. When it really comes to good will, I believe that the Misfit did have good will and that, in a world such as his, the South, he was not just playing God, but his will was forcing him to be God to judge the “infidels”.

I think the best poem I can relate to Kant’s philosophy is “Richard Cory”. Richard Cory didn’t have good will, that was his downfall. You can’t ell a whole lot from his personal life from the poem, but you can always assume that he didn’t have good will, at least in relation to Kant’s philosophy. Assuming that, we look at his “good” actions, intentions, etc. from the poem. He was a pillar of society, looked at as the model of goodness. This is exactly the people’s mistake.

I believe that the people killed Richard Cory by not looking inward for goodness; by saying: ” Well, if Richard Cory does that, if I do that, I’ll be good like him”. This put him on a pedestal, like the hunger artist. The people killed him by this method; he realized that the people did ot have good will because they were looking at him for goodness, and therefore, he could never have good will. The people were looking for an identity, and it was too much for Richard Cory. An aspect of my life, or upcoming life, that I’d relate to Kant’s philosophy is the fact that someday, I’d like to be a parent.

We say it’s for “selfish reasons”, but I think most people who realize what they’re doing when they want to become a parent , and not just a biological mother/father, also realize how much responsibility, caring, and planning parenting really takes. God knows that the fact this isn’t happening often enough is leading to problems ike overpopulation and societal breakdown, but I would want to be a role model to my child(ren) and teach them everything I know so that eventually, they will be the best possible person I can raise them to be, and then be able to go out on their own and do the same.

I think that this is good will, because, yes, reproduction is selfish in a way, but if you have the good will to be a good parent, by teaching your children, and trying to make them model their lives after yours, if you truly believe you can be a good mother/father, then you are acting on good will much more than selfishness.

Aesthetics – The Analysis Of Taste And The Analysis Of Sensible Cognition Or Intuition

Kant defined aesthetic as both, “the analysis of taste and the analysis of sensible cognition or intuition” (1). Aesthesis, means “sensation”, the Greeks made a distinction between aesthesis autophues (natural sensation) and aesthesis epistemonike (acquired sensation) (1). We may say that aesthetics is both the study of aesthetic objects and of the specific and subjective reactions of observers, readers, or audiences to the work of art.

Aesthetics is necessarily interdisciplinary and may be interpretive, prescriptive, descriptive, or a combination of these. The big, obvious question about aesthetic value is whether it is ever ‘really in’ the objects it is attributed to. This issue parallels the realism/anti-realism debates elsewhere in philosophy (2). Though there is little reason to assume that aesthetic value will behave in just the say way as for example, moral value.

An extreme realist would say that aesthetic values reside in an object as properties independent of any observer’s responses, (3) and that if we make the judgment ‘That is a beautiful flower’, or ‘this painting is aesthetically good’, what we say is true or false – true if the flower or painting has the property, false if it does not. We will tend to like the object if we recognize the aesthetic value in it, but, for the realist, whether we recognize it and whether it is are two separate questions. Consequently, much work in aesthetics has gone into trying to specify the nature of aesthetic experience or aesthetic response.

One factor is pleasure, satisfaction, or liking. The second is experience: the response we are looking for must be a way of attending to the object itself (4). In the case of music, it must be a response to perceived patterns of sound, in the case of cinematography, a response to the experience of seeing something on the screen. If you merely describe a piece of music or a sequence of images to me, I am not yet in a position to respond in the kind of way which is peculiarly relevant to aesthetic value. The third factor in aesthetic response is thought to be ‘disinterestedness’.

The idea is that the pleasurable experience of attending to something in perception should not consist in liking a thing only because it fulfills some definite function, satisfies a desire, or lives up to a prior standard or principle (4). There are subjective responses which we are justified in demanding from others: these are not idiosyncratic likes and dislikes, but deeply rooted in our common nature as experiencing subjects, and founded on a pleasurable response to the form of the object as it is presented in perception. This means, among other things, “aesthetic value cannot be enshrined in learnable principles” (5).

There are no genuine aesthetic principles, because to find aesthetic value we must, “get a look at the object with our own eyes” (5). Aesthetic judgments are founded upon the slender basis of one’s own feeling of pleasure, but can justifiably claim the universal agreement if the subjective response in question is one that which any properly equipped observer would have. Sometimes it is assumed that the prime interest in art is aesthetic, but that assumption bears some examination. Unless “aesthetic stretches to cover everything conceivable that is of value in art, art may have values which are not aesthetic.

For example, it might have therapeutic value, or give us moral insights, or help us understand points in history or points of view radically unlike our own. We might admire a work for its moral integrity, or despise it for its depravity or political untruthfulness. Are all these a matter of aesthetic value? If not, then aestheticism gives too narrow a view of the value of art. Without succumbing to the view that art’s point is always as a means to some end outside itself (6), we should concede that works of art have a great variety of values.

Artworks are, nevertheless, usually intentionally produced things. They are also things with characteristic modes of reception or consumption (7). Paintings are placed where we can se them in a certain way, music is enjoyed or analyzed mostly by being heard. This pattern of production and reception gives rise to two recurring questions in the philosophy of art: What relation does the work bear to the mind that produced it? And what relation does it bear to the mind that perceives and appreciates it (8). As an example, we may take emotion and music.

We say that music has or expresses some emotional character. Since emotions are mental states, we may think that the emotion gets into the sounds by first being present in the mind of the composer or performer. Or we may think that the listener’s emotional reactions are somehow projected back on to the sounds. Neither of these approaches has great plausibility, however, so that a new question emerges: The music all by itself somehow seems to point to, or stand for emotions – how? Aesthetics has yet to come to terms with this issue.

There is a similar pattern in the case of artistic representation. In the question of what a picture depicts, what role is played by the artist’s intentions, and what by the interpretations which an observer may conjure up? Or does the painting itself have a meaning by standing in symbolic relations to items in the world? If the latter, how similar, and how dissimilar are depiction and linguistic representation? (8). Once one starts to address problems at this level, the philosophy of art starts to concern the nature of philosophy as a whole.

Existentialist Movement Essay

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that developed in continental Europe during the 1800s and 1900s. Most of the members are interested in the nature of existence or being, by which they usually mean human existence. Although the philosophers generally considered to be existentialists often disagree with each other and sometimes even resent being classified together, they have been grouped together because they share many problems, interests, and ideas.

The most prominent existentialist thinkers of the 1900s include the French writers Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sarte, and Gabriel Marcel and German hilosophers Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger. The Russian religious and political thinker Nicolas Berdyaev and the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber were also famous existentialists. Existentialism is largely a revolt against traditional European philosophy which reached its climax during the late 1700s and early 1800s. Principles of knowledge that would be objective, universally true, and certain were produced.

Existentialists rejected the methods and ideals of science as being improper for philosophy. They investigated what it is like to be an individual human being living in the world nstead of making the traditional attempt to grasp the ultimate nature of the world and abstract systems of thought. They stress the fact that every individual is only a limited human being. Each must face important and difficult decisions with only limited knowledge and time in which to make these decisions. Human life is seen as a series of decisions that must be made without knowing what the correct choice is.

They must decide what standards to except and which ones to reject. Individuals must make their own choices without help from external standards. Humans are free and completely responsible for their hoices. Their freedom and responsibility is thrust upon them and they are”condemned to be free”. Their responsibility for actions, decisions and beliefs cause anxiety. They try to escape by ignoring or denying their responsibility. To have a meaningful life one must become fully aware of the true character of the situation and bravely accept it.

Existentialists believe that people learn about themselves best by examining the most extreme forms of human experience. They write about such topics as death and extreme situations. This concentration upon the most extreme and emotional aspects of experience ontrasts sharply with the main emphasis of contemporary philosophy in England and the United States. This philosophy focuses upon more common place situation and upon the nature of language rather than experience. Jean-Paul Sarte was born in Paris in 1905, and died in 1980. In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

However he refused to accept the reward. Sarte was a French existentialist philosopher who expressed his ideas in novels, plays, and short stories, as well as theoretical works. The mere existence of things, especially his own existence, fascinated and horrified him. To Sarte there seemed no reason why anything exists. He stated that only human existence is conscious of itself and of other things. He argued that non-living objects simply are what they are and people are whatever they choose to be. People exist as beings who must choose their own character. He agreed with the existentialists philosophy that people are completely free.

Sarte said, “People are afraid to recognize this freedom and to accept full responsibility for their behavior. ” Throughout his philosophical and literary works, he examined and analyzed the varied and subtle forms of self-deception. In Sartes chief philosophical work, Being and Nothingness, he investigated the nature and forms of existence or being. In his essay, Existentialism and Humanism, he defined existentialism as the doctrine that, for humankind, “existence precedes essence”. In the Critique of Dialectical Reason, Sarte presented his political and sociological theories.

The theater of the absurd refers to tendencies in dramatic literature that emerged in Paris during the late 1940’ss and early 1950s. Its roots can be found in the allegorical morality plays of the middle ages and the allegorical religious dramas. The term theater of the absurd derives from the philosophical use of the word absurd by such existentialists thinkers as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sarte. A fully satisfying rational explanation of the universe was beyond its reach and the world must be seen as absurd. The images of the theater of the absurd tend to assume the quality of fantasy, dream, and nightmare.

The theater of the absurd movement heightened people in abstract situations. It was informative and overall made the audience think. Its purpose is to provoke thought with laughter. Theater of the absurd does not stay in key and is sometimes described as crazy. It always has intense moments, does not look like conventional theater, and has no start, no middle and no end. Samuel Beckett was born in Foxrock, Ireland in 1906. He attended Trinity College in Dublin and left for Paris when he was twenty-two. Throughout his life he wrote in both English and French, but most of his major works were written in French.

Beckett was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1969. He died in Paris in 1989. Becketts works are explored in novels, short stories, poetry, and scripts for radio, television, and film. He is best known for his work in the theater. His most famous play Waiting for Godot became one of the most dramatic works in this century. The strange atmosphere of Godot, in which two tramps wait on what appears to be a desolate road for a man who never arrives. This made his audience come back to see other major works. Becketts drams are most closely associated with the Theater of the Absurd.

He has a minimalistic approach, stripping the stage of unnecessary spectacles and characters. His works cover much of the same ground as World War II French existentialists. Waiting for Godot captures the feeling the world has no apparent meaning. In this misunderstood masterpiece Beckett asserts numerous existentialist themes. Beckett believed that existence is determined by chance. This is the first basic existentialist theme asserted. The play consists of four vulgar characters, and in a simple way who twice arrives with a message from Godot, a naked tree, a mound or two of earth and a sky.

Two of the characters are waiting for Godot who never arrives. Two of them consist of a flamboyant lord of the earth and a broken slave whimpering and staggering at the end of a rope. It is almost certain that Godot stands for God and those who are loitering y the withered tree are for salvation, which never comes. Many critics have agreed that Godot does not necessarly mean God, merely “the objective of our waiting- an event, a thing, a person, a death. ” Another basic existentialist theme on which Beckett reflects is the meaninglessness of time. Because past, present and future mean nothing, the play follows a cyclic pattern.

Vladimir and Estragon returned to the same place each day to wait for Godot and encounter the same basic people each day. Godots messenger does not recognize Vladimir and Estragon from day to day. This suggests that the people we meet today are not he same as they were yesterday and will not be the same tomorrow. Beckett also examines a theme of self-deceptive attempts to dodge reality by making excuses for ones actions. Vladimir and Estragon fool themselves by engaging in petty discourse that reflects the absurdity of life. They even contemplate suicide numerous times for numerous reasons, but ultimately persist in the futility of life.

Tom Stoppard was born in Czechoslovakia on July 3, 1937, the son of Eugene Straussler, a doctor employed by Bata, the shoe manufacturers. In 1942, his family moved to Singapore. He and his mother evacuated to India with is brother before the Japanese invasion. His father was left behind and killed. He then went to a multi-racial English speaking school in Darjeeling, India. His mother later married Kenneth Stoppard, who was in the British army in India. Stoppard was educated in a prep school at Nottingham Shire, and a grammar school in Yorkshire.

He was then employed by Western Daily Press in Bristol, were he lived. There he was a news reporter, feature writer, theater critic, film critic and gossip columnist. Eventually he married Jose Ingle. He wrote such works as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Meet King Lear, a one-act play in verse. He also wrote Rosecrantz and Guilenstern Are Dead. He won the John Whiting award and Evening Standard award in 1967. Rosencrantz creates a picture of characters who inhabit a world which is stranger than they had supposed, which they know it is not as it seems but what it is .

He evokes the ability of all man kind to understand those forces ultimately in control of their lives and fates. Because Rosencrantzs and Guildensterns fate is determined by Hamlet and not by random forces. At outset of the play, Rosencrantz remains oblivious to any oddity and their oin-tossing, describing the improbable run as 85 heads as merely a new record. The destiny which awaits Rosencrantz and Guildenstern consists of nothing for which they are prepared. Instead they are to be “kept intrigued without ever being enlightened”.

The purpose of the coin-tossing scene is the obvious conclusion that forces beyond their control are guiding their fate and it is obvious Guildenstern is more conscious of the two. He also sets up the quest theme that the play will take on. The ranting and ramblings of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are reminiscent of the spiritual pilgrim of the protagonist of Waiting for Godot. They both spend the entire play searching for a fate and spiritual rationale that is always alluding them. It can be concluded that the title characters are searching for a divinity that will make itself evident.

Irony comes to fit in the framework of the play because we know that the pair are to loose their heads. The humor of this situation is a game of questions where they “answer” every question with another question, but really realize how the game is mirroring their predicament, which is to inhabit a world full of questions which, for them, have no answers. For every action they partake in order to answer their calling, they are met with a hundred more questions, and In this lies the irony of the entire production. T. S. ELIOT T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) was born in St.

Louis, Missouri and graduated from Harvard. He lived in England for most of his life, returning to the United States periodically to lecture and teach at Harvard and other universities. Eliot achieved the fullness of his poetic expression in The Waste Land and other poems on this recording. In 1948 he was awarded a Nobel Prize. Eliot ranks among the most important poets of the 1900s. He departed radically from the techniques and subject matter of pre-World War I poetry. His poetry, along with his critical works, helped to reshape modern literature.

Many of Eliots views on literature appeared in The Criterion, a literary magazine he edited from 1922 to 1939. Eliot served as a director of a London Publishing house from 1925 until his death. Eliot also received the Order of Merit for literature during his lifetime. He finally found happiness in his second marriage which took place eight years before his death on January 4, 1965. Two important factors in Eliots development as a poet ere his introduction to French symbolist poetry and his friendship with fellow American Ezra Pound.

It was in Pound that Eliot found a devoted mentor and a sensitive critic of the early drafts of his poems. With Pounds help, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was published in Poetry in 1915 and Preludes in Blast that same year- thus launching Eliot into the midst of literary modernism. Eliots first major poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, revealed his original and highly developed style. The poem shows the influence of certain French poets of the 1800s, but its startling jumps from rhetorical language o cliche, its indirect literary references, and its simultaneous humor and pessimism were quite new in English literature.

The Waste Land has become the poem of the twentieth century. The poem offers an epochal insight into the modern world, the urban blight, of death and destruction, of meaningless relationships, and of a profound absence of spiritual, social, and cultural assurances. It is presented with a series of allusions, fragments of texts and documents, because Eliot wants the reader to experience that sense of fragmentation for themselves through a kind of collage technique. There are glimpses of a sense of underlying order and unity expressed throughout this literary masterpiece.

Eliot suggests that the poem draws upon the powerful myth of the wounded king who must be restored to health before his lands can be returned to wholeness and fertility once more. Eliot also suggests that, deep within the cultural unconscious of our modern wasteland, there are underlying patterns and a sense of continuity. This poem has references to previous empires and cultures such as Rome, Alexandria, and Vienna. The Waste Land is widely regarded as loose or impressionistic.

Comparitive Philosophies And Religions

Life in ancient times was full of risks and uncertainty for those people living there. Much trust was put in the unknown, but as civilizations progressed, there was a feeling of need to understand the unknown and the meanings of life. Within this paper I will discuss three important issues that deal with the progress of life in relation to the civilizations of the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Hebrews and Greeks. In ancient civilizations concepts of the afterlife were based on myth. Glamorous stories about gods and goddesses from the past were the motivation for ancient people to live their lives.

In Mesopotamian culture, every day was controlled by the gods and goddesses of the world. As humans, Mesopotamians were bound to the earth in a life of servitude without promise of salvation. There was no definite afterlife; only hints of a place of darkness were given to us through stories such as The Epic of Gilgamesh. This story also eludes to the fear of death held by the Mesopotamian people. It portrays a story where a man is willing to make a dangerous journey to avoid death. Do not let me see the face of death which I dread so much. Was one of Gilgameshs pleas for an unreachable goal.

In this historical story, death is looked at as a place where They [people] see no light, they sit in darkness . This was most likely because of the uncertainty of life, as well as death for Mesopotamians. Even when people lived in full compliance to their gods and goddesses, their lives would not be one of luxury as we read in Mesopotamian Wisdom Literature The uncertainty of life and death in general lead to acts of divination, such as sacrifices, which were intended to interpret the will of the gods, though all was used to improve life in the physical world.

Unlike the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians and the Hebrews had definite afterlives in their belief systems. Orisis, who was one of the Egyptians natural deities, was presented as the judge of the dead, as well as a symbol of resurrection. Humans actions in life would be judged in death by Osiris, and if found worthy, the deceased would progress to a blessed afterlife. Those deceased were preserved by ways of mummification, which was an expensive process, therefore the Osiris cult was reserved for those in high social positions.

Though as time passed, any Egyptian could be judged in death to proceed to an afterlife of rebirth. . Hebrews had a belief of the afterlife similar to the Egyptians in the fact that a supreme being would judge their actions in life, after death. Their faith was directed towards a single god, called Yahweh. The Hebrews believed they had been chosen by Yahweh to be the first recipients of his true law code. These laws, which are depicted in the biblical book of Exodus, are the standards for a good Hebrew religious and were to be followed in order to reach the coveted afterlife.

What sets Hebrew beliefs of god(s) and the afterlife apart from these other cultures is that is that Hebrews placed faith in one god, while other civilizations we have studied, especially the Greeks, believed in multiple gods and goddesses. The act of ancestor worship, wich was vital in previous religious practices, were outlawed by a group who were called The Yahweh-Alone-ists; those who believed Yahweh to be the one true god. Their religion as a whole moved to a confusing point where ideas of Heaven developed, which promised a blessed afterlife in return for compliance with Gods law.

People believed that if they lived a life in agreement with the word of God, they would be rewarded not only in death, but also throughout their lives. Even though the Greeks believed in many separate Gods and Goddesses, and religion was included in their every day lives, Greek religion did not hold place for an afterlife. Classical Greece was a place of theory and rational thought. It was a time when philosophers began to crave reason and understanding instead of just believing something because one would say it was true.

A philosopher named Critias proposed an idea that a wise and clever man invented fear (of the gods) for mortals which means that he believed there was no true God or afterlife, rather that religion was used to scare humans into living the good life. This idea can be related to any studied religion, because there was never any proof of the divine, or an afterlife. Lack of a definite life after death in Greek religion left some people to turn to mystery religions that were said to offer more promising situations for the afterlife.

This goes to show that even in a philosophical high point in history, as in almost all times in history, people were still fearful of the gods and hoped for a pleasant time after death. Laws in ancient times often changed with the rulers of different civilizations. This means the laws of a city could change at any given time, had there been a tyrant taking control, or a new king taking reign. Laws were often strict, leaving a strong impression on not only those who broke the rules, but the other members of the civilizations. By enforcing strict rules, it was hoped that the laws would never be broken in the first place.

The Code of Hammurabi is a collection of 282 laws that gives us a clear view of how law was enforced in ancient Mesopotamia. The laws were strict, and the penalties were harsh and to the point. The laws brought about the principle of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth This idea of retaliation means that the crime that was committed would be in turn inflicted back upon the person who first committed the crime. More often, the punishment will exceed the severity of the crime, especially in cases of lower classes acting out against the upper.

Crimes among those in the upper class were often handled by an exchange in money. This document shows that there was definite monetary value put on different people. People of Mesopotamia were under the rule of their kings, and therefore were required to follow the laws. There were no democracies or courts as there were in Greece. The laws were created by the rulers as direct order from the gods. People were to live by these divine laws, and die by them. A divine ruler, called the Pharaoh was the link between God and mortals in Egypt.

As in other ancient cultures, laws were in direct relation to spirituality. Law and everyday rules in Egypt were believed to be God given, to the Pharaoh, who was of both god and man. He had the power of the gods to protect all of Egypt in life and in death. The Pharaoh was considered the protector of his land. From maintaining the rule, to controlling the flood waters of the Nile river, his power was more than necessary in Egyptian life. There was no room for discussion in the way of the law, as in Mesopotamia; the word of the divine ruler was final.

As in most other cultures of the ancient times, laws in the Hebrew civilization were religion based as well. Though the Hebrew people believed that they were the first people to receive Gods law, otherwise called the Ten Commandments. It was Hebrew belief that they were chosen by God to set an example of moral behavior to other peoples of the world , unlike other civilizations, who kept their law codes to themselves. Hebrew law did not make separate laws for commoners and nobles as the Code of Hammurabi did.

The idea of law was that it was created by God, who had no ill intentions for his people, and therefore all law was for the better of humanity. There were no divisions of law for different classes in Hebrew culture. Hebrew people are often reminded that they were once the slaves of the Egyptians, and that God saved them from that plight. Therefore there is an obligation for Hebrews to follow the laws of God. A common thread through all of Hebrew law is that they must do what is Gods will, for the soul purpose that it is Gods will.

As stated in Neighbor and Community by Liviticus, God often states I am the Lord as his final statement, as to leave no place for argument Laws would vary from city to city in Ancient Greece, for separate cities viewed themselves as separate nations. The system of law in Greece allowed for courts and was not religion based as most other law systems of this time period were. A system of democracy emerged and was used for rule instead of divine command. Though much of the Greek period we studied was spent in war, and therefore the laws were ruled by the military of the country.

The meaning of life in ancient times was largely based on religion. The Mesopotamians and the Hebrews lived life to serve their god(s). The Greeks lived life to advance their minds, expand their boarders, and improve the separate city-states. The goal of the Hebrews was to spread the word of God to other civilizations. The laws that the Hebrews followed were thought to be the true word of god, and it was the Hebrews who were chosen to spread these laws to other civilizations. The meaning of life for the Greeks was to, in different ways, create perfect human beings.

In the city-state of Athens, as well as other areas of Greece, the idea of philosophical thought ran high. Cosmologists welcomed this new strand of thought that was not rooted in religion. People would constantly question previous theories as well as new theories that were constantly forming. Socrates, who is remembered for his quest for the good life, was a perfect example of an Athenian philosopher. He had many followers and students, and will be remembered forever for his own line of thought that came to be known as Socratic Wisdom: The knowledge of knowing ones own ignorance.

In Sparta, people were made, almost crafted into being the perfect warriors. From cradle to grave, Spartan citizens were formed to be tools of war. This helped Sparta to be successful in many wars, the citizens being the machines of the military that they were. Throughout Greece there was a lack of religious concern that was the main focus of life in the other civilizations we have studied. That is the factor that created a culture so different from those of the Mesopotamians and the Hebrews.

Maybe the most primitive of the civilizations studied was the Mesopotamian culture. The point of life for these people was to live to serve the gods. It was belief that Mesopotamians were created out of mud, and sticks, as well as a piece of a god, to do the slave work for the gods. There was no hope for an afterlife, they were nothing but tools for the gods. As you can see throughout history civilizations have developed not only their culture, but their thoughts. As time progressed, humans in ancient times fine tuned their cultures to make them constantly progressive.

The difference between Mesopotamian life and life in classical Greece is astounding. From a life of constant servitude, to a life of constant questioning and self-betterment, there is a major difference. People made a transition from being completely dependant on the gods, to allowing themselves to take a risk in questioning the unknown. Though there were major advancements in the time period we have studied so far, there is a long way to go before we can consider the thoughts of these ancient people, both religious and philosophical, to be modern.

Kant: The Humanity Formula

Few formulas in philosophy have been so widely accepted and variously interpreted as Kants injunction to treat humanity as an end in itself(Hill, 38). Immanuel Kants views, as elucidated in his book, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, are based on the belief that people count by prohibiting actions which exploit other individuals in order for self-prosperity or altruistic ends. Ethics then, are confirmed by the dignity and worth of the rational agency of each person. Since human beings are the only rational beings capable of decision making and reasonable judgement, humanity must be valued.

Kant proposes a test that ensures that humanity is treated with respect, and not used merely as an instrument. To understand how he defines this test, we must first take a look at the foundation of his main principle, the Categorical Imperative. Kants way of determining morality of actions is quite different from other philosophers, and many find it extremely hard to grasp or implausible. The central concept of his basic test for morality found in his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals is the categorical imperative.

The representation of an objective principle, insofar as it is necessitating for a will, is called a command (of reason), and the formula of the command is called an imperative(Kant, 24). In other words, an imperative is something that a will ought or shall do because the will is obligated to act in a way in which conforms to moral law. Imperatives can also be referred to as the supreme principle of morality. According to Kant, there are two types of imperatives: hypothetical and categorical. Hypothetical imperatives are actions that look for the best means to a goal, however, the goal might not necessarily be an end in itself.

On the other hand, the categorical imperative is an objectively necessary means to an end in itself, and the action to obtain the end, must have moral worth. If we as rational agents, have any morality at all Kant says, it takes the form of rational, categorical imperatives (commands of reason) and is found a priori excluding all interests and desires. These commands of reason are proven by the Universal Law Formula, which when applied, is a method for determining the morality of actions. How is this formula applied though?

Kantian philosophy is derived from the belief that actions should be universalizable, and this formula, which is a two-part test, ensures that actions of rational agents can be universally accepted. First, one creates a maxim and considers whether the maxim could possibly be a universal law for all rational beings. Second, one determines whether rational beings would will it to be a universal law. Once the maxim passes both tests, there are no exceptions to it. Kant truly believed in the value of humanity, and felt that everyone should be subjected to the same moral standards.

The Universal Law Formula was his method of ensuring this, requiring maxims to be universally acceptable to all rational beings. In the latter half of Section II, he imposes even further stringent requirements for treating humanity in universally acceptable means by proposing his Humanity Formula. Human beings have the special capacity to exercise rational judgement, foresee future consequences, adopt long-range goals, and resist immediate temptation, so we must therefore value rational agents as an end (Hill, 40-41).

This yields one of three formulations of the categorical imperative, and the one that is most worth discussing, the humanity formula: So act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means (Kant, 38). Kant probably intended persons are ends and humanity in persons is an end and therefore humans should be treated in a humane way. In other words, we must always treat people with respect to the virtue of their rational capacity and as though their existence alone is valuable.

According to Kant, treating people as rational agents and means to ends, also demands (if the agent is fully rational) consent. Treating people only in ways to which they could consent, in so far as they are rational, not merely as means but also as an end, is a moral requirement. Say a young child has fallen onto a subway track and does not see the subway coming. You have the opportunity to alert the child of the oncoming train by grabbing a briefcase out of the hands of a man standing next to you and throwing it towards the child as to grab his or her attention.

Kants theory holds that this action is morally permissible, assuming the man could rationally consent. The only downside to this is that the man must accept the minor inconvenience of having to buy a new briefcase and replacing the papers that were inside of the damaged one. What does this lead us to? Well some might question whether the man was treated respectively. The answer Kant offers for this is that he indeed was, seeing as how he only forfeited something one can attach a monetary value to, and as a result, saved a childs life.

This brings us to Kants dignity versus price argument. Rational agents have a certain dignity that is incomparable to something with a price value. Above all, we should respect the value of our rationale. That which has dignity cannot be traded off for that which has price, and invariably, that which has dignity cannot be exchanged for other dignity values. A prime example of the latter part of argument is suicide in order to relieve pain or suffering. Kant holds that this is an immoral action in that it is trading life, or a dignity value, for death, a pleasure value.

You could live a very rational, prosperous life, insofar as you live it out until its natural end. Killing yourself does not respect the value of choice and fails to exercise rational agency capacity (humanity). Although categorical imperatives are not inflexible, Kant does in fact believe morality consists of exceptionless rules. One very pertinent such rule is to never lie. The example he explores is a situation involving a murderer. He arrives at your front door and is searching for your friend, who he wants to kill. He asks you if you have seen the individual or if he or she has run inside.

You know your friend has run into your house to hide, and you have the chance to save him by telling the murderer that he has run the opposite direction, but Kant strictly states we should never lie, and therefore, you must tell the man your friend has run upstairs, where he proceeds to hunt and kill him. Even if telling a lie would prevent wrongdoing or bad outcomes, Kant asserts that the truth should always be told. If telling the truth does create undesirable outcomes, the person who tells the truth cannot be to blame or held responsible for those outcomes in that they did their duty in not uttering falsities.

What makes lying wrong though, and why cant there be any exceptions to this rule? Lying when given the opportunity to save someones life, seems to fulfill moral duty. There are certain moral values in life that should, above all, take precedence over other moral values. These actions are encompassed in humanitys duty, to ourselves and to others. Lying to prevent a murder is rational. Does not saving another humans life respect their rational capacity more than allowing them to die at the hands of a murderer who you could have sent astray with one lie?

But no, Kants humanity formula deems lying as a selfish act, because you must always treat people as though they could logically consent, and if you lie to someone, they have no chance to consent and therefore it should not be permissible. If you dont lie to save your friends life, you are not respecting their value and dignity as a rational being, but Kants counter argument is, if you lie to the murderer, you are not respecting his rationality or value as a will. Overall, not lying, even to save a life, seems absurd.

To any sensible person, this is quite radical and terribly hard to swallow. There is no way to honor both of Kants views that we should value humans and also not to lie in the case of the murderer. If Kant believes so strongly that humans are the only rational beings capable of reason (which is a highly valuable trait), why does he deny them the opportunity to exercise this rationality? As rational beings, humans should be able to use their judgement wisely enough to know that lying would create better outcomes in many situations.

This essentially, would be a Utilitarians argument. Moral actions are based on consequences; ones which increase happiness or positive outcomes. Telling a lie to the murderer to send him astray would save a life, and consequently would be a moral action. Utilitarianism would take into account the future repercussions caused by the lie, but the analysis of an action still lies in the foreseen or predicted consequences rather than on the actions intrinsic moral value. Morality then, would be judged on a case by case basis.

Kants perspective refutes this by saying morality loses its value as a universal quality. Although situations change, the basis for acting (morality) must stay the same and actions are moral or immoral, regardless of any immediate consequences. Still, morality is based on constantly changing and often unpredictable outcomes. Kantian philosophy, even interpreted by Kant himself, is overly extreme and the strict application of its principles is too stringent. Although there is no definite foundation to base morality on, the universal law formula is highly implausible.

Aristotle’s philosophies essay

Aristotle was born in 384 BC. ; with him came the birth of Western realism. He was a student of Plato and a tutor to Alexander the Great (Founders, 1991). It is difficult to discuss the philosophies of Aristotle without bringing up those of his former tutor, Plato. Aristotle’s philosophies diverted from Plato’s, and led to Aristotle forming his own school, the Lyceum. After tutoring Alexander the Great for about five years, he founded the Lyceum in Athens, Greece (Wheelwright, 1983).

The Lyceum was a philosophical school that dealt in matters such as metaphysics, logic, ethics, and natural sciences. When teaching at the Lyceum, Aristotle had a habit of walking about as he discoursed. It was in connection with this that his followers became known in later years as the peripatetics, meaning “to walk about” (Owens, 1981). For the next thirteen years he devoted his energies to his teaching and composing his philosophical treatises. This paper will attempt to discuss Aristotle’s contributions and theories in metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology.

However, his major contributions are in Metaphysics. Aristotle’s editors gave the name “Metaphysics” to his works on first philosophy, either because they ent beyond or followed after his physical investigations (Adler, 1983). Metaphysics are the theories of the nature of reality. Aristotle broke down Plato’s dualism and replaced it with a hierarchy. He stated that both things and ideas are real, but ideas are better. Actually all things are a combination of matter and idea. For example: A chair may be wood, but it is more than just a block of wood. It is wood shaped by an idea.

By looking at the chair we can know something of the concept which gives it meaning. The physical chair is real, but the concept which gives it meaning is higher in the matter hierarchy. A more detailed look into this concept is discussed later in this paper. Aristotle also believed in mind-body dualism, like Plato, which asserts that the mind and body exist on separate planes. Realist metaphysics assumes the existence of objects independently of the human experience of those objects; cognition involves an interaction of the mind and the objective universe (Owens, 1981).

The educational goals of realism are to develop human rationality through the study of organized bodies of knowledge and to encourage humans to define themselves by making rational decisions and exercising their potential. For Aristotle, the subject of metaphysics deals with the first principles of scientific knowledge and the ultimate conditions of all existence. More specifically, it deals with existence in its most fundamental state, and the essential attributes of existence.

This can be contrasted with mathematics, which deals with existence in terms of lines or angles, and not existence as it is in itself. Aristotle argues that there are a handful of universal truths. Against the followers of Heraclitus and Protagoras, Aristotle defends both the laws of contradiction, and that of the excluded middle. He does this by showing that their denial is suicidal. Carried out to its logical consequences, the denial of these laws would lead to the sameness of all facts and all assertions. It would also result in an indifference in conduct.

As the science of being as being, the leading question of Aristotle’s metaphysics is, “What is meant by the real or true substance,”(Founders, 1991). The development of potentiality to actuality is one of the most important aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy. It was intended to solve the difficulties which earlier thinkers had raised with reference to he beginning of existence and the relations of the one and many. The actual vs. potential state of things is explained in terms of the causes which act on things. There are four causes: 1.

Material cause, or the elements out of which an object is created; 1. Efficient cause, or the means by which it is created; 2. Formal cause, or the expression of what it is; 3. Final cause, or the end for which it is (Adler, 1991). Take, for example, a brick house. Its material cause is the brick itself. Its efficient cause is the builder, which he creates the house into shape. The formal cause is the idea of the completed house. The final cause is the idea of the house as it prompts the builder to act on the bricks.

The final cause tends to be the same as the formal cause, and both of these can be assumed by the efficient cause. Of the four, it is the formal and final which is the most important, and which most truly gives the explanation of an object. The final end of a thing is realized in the full perfection of the object itself, not in our conception of it. Final cause is thus internal to the nature of the object itself, and not something we subjectively impose on it. God to Aristotle is the first of all substances, the necessary first source of movement who is himself unmoved.

God is a being with everlasting life, and perfect blessedness, engaged in never-ending contemplation. Epistemology are theories of or the study of the nature and grounds for knowledge with reference to its limits and validity (Wheelwright, 1983). Aristotle accepts the idea of universal, knowable Truth. He believes that, since both ideas and things are real, knowledge can be attained by both reason and sense experience – actually reason applied to sense experience. Science and philosophy are both legitimate ways of knowing, but philosophy is superior.

Axiology is the science of value. The word “axiology”, derived from two Greek roots “axios” (worth or value) and “logos” (logic or theory), means the theory of value (Adler, 1991). The development of the science makes possible the objective measurement of value as accurately as a thermometer measures temperature. Aristotle is philosophically an absolutist. Certain values, like rationality, apply universally. In day to day decision-making, his “Golden Mean” concept seems relativistic (Founders, 1991). Important concepts include intrinsic and extrinsic values.

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle established his ideals of moderation, balance, and harmony as the core of his axiological system or value theory (Owens, 1981). Unlike Plato whose philosophy was based on abstraction, Aristotle’s methods were based on empirical observation and research, thus the basis for realism. Similar to Plato’s forms, Aristotle believed in essence, which refers to the attributes necessary for an object to be what it is. As mentioned earlier, this paper summarizes Aristotle’s theories n metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology, and does not discuss his other philosophies.

To really understand Aristotle’s philosophy, one has to read all of his theories and beliefs. There is no fine line between his different theories, and attempting to separate them into sections, or to summarize them in a four page paper, strips them of their true global perspective in relation to his other theories. However, regardless of the latter fact, Aristotle’s philosophies still astound scholars and people of all walks of life today, two thousand three hundred and twenty two years later.

The Six Orthodox Schools Of Philosophy

In India there are six orthodox schools of philosophy which recognize the authority of the Vedas as divine revelation, and they generally function as pairs – Nyaya and Vaishesika, Mimamsa and Vedanta, and Samkhya and Yoga. Those who did not recognize this authority were the Jains, Buddhists, and materialists. Even in India where spiritual ideas dominate the culture there were some who were skeptical of those ideals and held to a materialist view of the world; they were called Carvaka, and their doctrine that this world is all that exists is called Lokayata.

The materialists did not believe in an afterlife and found sense perception to be the only source of knowledge, denying the validity of inference or general concepts. They focused on the senses and the four traditional elements of earth, water, fire, and air. Consciousness for the Carvaka is only a modification of these elements in the body. The soul is also identified with the body, and pleasure and pain are the central experiences of life, nature being indifferent to good and evil with virtue and vice being merely social conventions.

This worldly philosophy naturally ignored the goal of liberation (moksha) or simply believed that death as the end of life and consciousness was a liberation. However, they also tended to neglect the value of virtue or justice (dharma), placing all of their attention on the worldly aims of pleasure (kama) and wealth or power (artha). Although Carvaka ideas are mentioned in some ancient writings, their own ancient writings were lost, and much of what we know of the early materialists is based on criticisms of other schools.

However, a famous, ancient drama called The Rise of the Moon of Intellect (Prabodha-candrodaya) reveals some of the beliefs of this worldly movement. In this play Passion is personified and speaks to a materialist and one of his pupils. Passion laughs at ignorant fools, who imagine that spirit is different from the body and reaps a reward in a future existence. This is like expecting trees to grow in air and produce fruit. Has anyone seen the soul separate from the body? Does not life come from the configuration of the body? Those who believe otherwise deceive themselves and others.

Their ancient teacher Brihaspati affirmed the importance of the senses, maintaining that sustenance and love are the objects of human life. For the materialists the Vedas are a cheat. If blessings are obtained through sacrifices and the victims ascend to heaven, why do not children sacrifice their parents? How can fasting, begging, penance, and exposure to the elements be compared to the ravishing embraces of women with large eyes and prominent breasts? The pleasures of life are no more to be avoided because they are mixed with pain than a prudent person would throw away unpeeled rice because it has a husk.

Sacrifices, reciting the Vedas, and penance are merely ways that ignorant and weak men contrive to support themselves. Yet upon analysis it was often found that the materialists’ theory that no general inferences can be made contradicted their own views about the nature of the world. Nevertheless their hedonistic philosophy at times gave a humanistic criticism of the ethical contradictions of others. In the great epic Mahabharata a Carvaka is burned to death for preaching against the bloodshed of the great war and condemning Yudhishthira for killing thousands to regain his kingdom.

They did criticize sacrifices and valued the arts as a means of pleasure. Hell they believed to be the pain experienced in this world, but all this ended in death. Like Epicureans they found that pleasure could be maximized and pain minimized by detachment (vairagya). Immortality was only found in the fame one leaves behind for noble deeds performed. Nyaya and Vaishesika The Nyaya and Vaishesika schools are primarily analytic and are therefore more concerned with logic and epistemology than ethics. The word nyaya means that by which the mind is led to a conclusion.

The Nyaya school formed about the fourth century BC with the Nyaya Sutras by Gautama. The first sentence declares that supreme happiness is attained by knowledge of the sixteen categories which are right knowledge, objects of knowledge, doubt, purpose, example, tenets, inference, confutation, ascertainment, discussion, sophistry, cavil, fallacy, quibble, futile rejoinder, and losing arguments. Knowledge comes from perception, inference, comparison, and verbal testimony. Objects of knowledge are self, body, sense organs, sense objects, intellect, mind, activity, defects, rebirth, fruit, pain, and release.

The soul is distinct from the sense organs and the mind which it uses to make judgments with the aid of memory. Judgments and actions are transitory but produce karma, which causes the union of the soul with the body, the soul transmigrating from a dead body to another birth. Gautama recognized the soul as the cause of the body but also acknowledged parents and food as other causes as well. Ethical concerns can be found in the discussion of the defects and the means of liberation. Gautama mentioned three categories of defects as attachment, aversion, and misconception.

Vatsyayana, who wrote the first commentary on the Nyaya Sutras in the 4th century CE, explained that attachment can come from lust, jealousy, avarice, greed, and covetousness; aversion from anger, envy, malice, hatred, and resentment; and misconception from wrong apprehension, suspicion, pride, and negligence. Gautama considered misconception the worst sin, because without it attachment and aversion do not occur. By fruit Gautama referred to what is produced by activity and defects. These results of action (karma) may occur immediately or after a long interval. Release is defined as the absolute deliverance from pain.

Release does not occur though because of debts, afflictions, and activities. However, when knowledge is attained, wrong notions and defects disappear, removing pain and bringing about release. Since false concepts are the cause of the chain of events that leads to pain, correct knowledge is the solution. Even hatred of pain and attachment to pleasure can bind one. The activities of mind, speech, and body must be good and not bad but must also be performed without attachment. Selfishness is associated with false concepts, and virtuous actions emphasize the soul rather than the body and its senses.

True knowledge comes from meditation, which is prepared for by good deeds. Gautama recommended practicing yoga in forests, caves, and on riverbanks. To attain final release the soul may be embellished by the restraints and observances of the internal discipline learned from yoga. Study and friendly discussion with those learned in knowledge is also suggested. The Vaishesika philosophy is considered the oldest of the six orthodox schools and may even be pre-Buddhist. The Vaishesika Sutras by Kanada were written shortly before Gautama’s Nyaya Sutras.

The word vishesa means particularity, and this philosophy emphasizes the significance of individuals. Vaishesika recognizes three objects of experience as having real objective existence, namely substance, quality, and activity, and three products of intellectual discrimination which are generality, particularity, and combination. The reality of the soul is inferred from the discernment that consciousness cannot be a property of the body, senses, or mind. However, the life of the soul’s knowing, feeling, and willing is only found where the body is.

Each soul experiences the consequences of its own actions, resulting in the differences between individuals, from which the plurality of souls is inferred. Even liberated souls maintain unique characteristics in the Vaishesika philosophy. The Vaishesika Sutra begins with the idea that virtue (dharma) is the means by which prosperity and salvation are attained, but it acknowledges the authority of the Vedas as the word of God that leads to this prosperity and salvation. As with Nyaya the supreme good results from knowledge, in this case of the six predicables – substance, quality, activity, generality, particularity, and combination.

In addition to the four traditional elements of earth, water, fire, and air, they name ether (akasha), time, space, soul, and mind as the only other substances. One need not fall back on the scriptures to know the existence of the soul, because the expression of “I” makes its reality clear. The qualities are color, taste, smell, touch, numbers, size, separation, conjunction and disjunction, priority and posteriority, understanding, pleasure and pain, desire and aversion, and volition. Activity is going up or down, contracting, expanding, and motion.

Action (karma) is opposed by its effect which is how it is neutralized. Individuals are only responsible for voluntary actions; actions from organic life are considered involuntary. Worldly good is attained by ceremonial piety, but spiritual value is found by insight. The highest pleasure of the wise is found in independence from all agencies involving memory, desire, and reflection, and this knowledge results from peacefulness of mind, contentment, and virtue. Pleasure and pain result from the contact between soul, senses, the mind, and objects.

When the mind becomes steady in the soul through yoga, pain can be prevented. Liberation (moksha) is not having any conjunction with the body and no potential for a body so that rebirth cannot take place. The traditional character of this school can be seen from the actions recommended for achieving merit. Ablution, fast, abstinence (brahmacharya), residence in the family of the preceptor, life of retirement in the forest, sacrifice, gift, oblation, directions, constellations, seasons, and religious observances conduce to invisible fruit.

Progress comes from virtue (dharma), but even this has consequences which neutralize it; for ultimate release cannot occur until even virtue is eradicated in selfless insight. So long as one is dominated by desire and aversion, virtue and its opposite are stored up, preventing liberation. When one realizes that all objects that seem either attractive or repulsive are merely compounds of atoms, their power over one ceases. True knowledge of the soul dispels self-interest in universal awareness. Each soul reaps the harvest of its deeds in this life or a future one, but with liberation it becomes absolutely free.

The awareness of the seer is the vision of perfection which results from virtue. Mimamsa and Vedanta The Mimamsa philosophy is also very ancient, and the Mimsama Sutra by Jaimini was written about the 4th century BC. This text begins with the subject of dharma, which the Vedas consider the means most conducive to the highest good. Dharma transcends sense perception, because the senses only perceive what exists in the present; dharma in the Mimamsa philosophy has a metaphysical reality that carries into the future. The soul also transcends the body, senses, and mind, being omnipresent, eternal, and many.

In Mimamsa the soul is the agent that causes all movement of the body. Like in Vaishesika, salvation occurs when the fruits of all good and bad actions are exhausted and the generation of new effects is stopped. However, in Mimamsa Vedic prayers, rituals, and sacrifices are emphasized as the means of achieving this. Women as well as men were allowed to perform sacrifices, but Sudras were still forbidden. In the ancient Mimamsa philosophy the experience of happiness in heaven was the ultimate goal. Mimamsa is based on the revelation in the Vedas, which are considered as eternal as the world.

The metaphysics of this ethics even comes close to replacing God as the source of all action that governs the universe. Essentially everything is determined by character (dharma) or lack of it through the law of karma or action with its consequences. Not only is the soul as the agent of action real, but the action itself is a spiritual reality that transcends space and time, determining the nature of the universe. This unseen force is called apurva which means something new, extraordinary, or unknown. Thus dharma or action (karma) supports the universe.

If it is ethically right, it produces enjoyment; if it is wrong, then suffering is experienced. This force (shakti) of dharma or karma is extraordinary and unseen. The universe being eternal is not created by this force, but it is shaped by it. A unity to this universal force is posited to control and guide individuals in a single cosmic harmony. Yet humans are free and determine their own destiny by their actions. The karma from past actions does not limit free choices but is like capital that can be spent in various ways as it is resolved. The soul usually carries a mixture of good and evil consequences, and these may cancel each other.

Obligations are actions which must be performed, or one gets demerit, though there is no merit for doing them. Prohibited actions if done also cause demerit, but if avoided likewise do not give merit. Optional actions may produce merit or demerit according to their consequences. Focusing primarily on the spiritual effects of rituals the Mimamsa philosophy relies on the Dharma Sutras for guidance in worldly ethical questions. The Vedanta school complements Mimamsa’s focus on the Vedas and sacrifices by illuminating the knowledge of the Upanishads as the “end of the Vedas,” which is what Vedanta means.

The Vedanta Sutra written between the 500 and 200 BC by Badarayana is also called the Brahma Sutra since it discusses knowledge of Brahman (Spirit) and sometimes Shariraka Sutra because it concerns the embodiment of the unconditioned self. The Vedanta Sutra attempts to clarify the meaning of the Upanishads and is rather terse, but it has been made famous by the commentaries written by the great Vedanta philosophers of the middle ages, Shankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva. If the way of action derives from the Mimamsa theory of karma, Vedanta suggests a way of knowledge by the soul of Spirit.

The first chapter of the Vedanta Sutra describes Brahman as the central reality and creator of the world and the individual souls. The second chapter answers objections and explains the world’s dependence on God and its evolution back into Brahman. The third chapter suggests ways of knowing Brahman, and the fourth chapter indicates the rewards or fruits of knowing this Spirit. Badarayana is traditional in that he believed knowledge comes from scripture (sruti) and other authorities (smriti), though sruti as revelation is identified with perception and smriti as interpretation with inference.

Scripture refers to the Vedas and smriti to the Bhagavad-Gita, Mahabharata, and Laws of Manu. Reason for Badarayana must conform to the Vedas, but it is nonetheless subordinate to intuitive knowledge, which can come from devotion and meditation. Brahman as Spirit is considered the light of the soul, which is also eternal, though Brahman is distinguished from the intelligent soul and the unintelligent material things. As in Mimamsa individuals are responsible for their own actions and thus determine their own happiness or suffering. The soul is affected by pleasure and pain, but the highest Lord is not.

Injunctions and prohibitions exist because of the connection of the soul with the body. Ethical action helps the soul attain a body fit for knowledge of Brahman which then may be attained through service, renunciation, and meditation. Meditation on the highest yields unity with the infinite and knowledge of Spirit (Brahman), enabling one to stop producing karma and end the cycle of karma and reincarnation. Badarayana combined earlier views of Brahman as indeterminate intelligence and a definite personal Lord. While developing itself in the universe Brahman is still transcendent.

Though Brahman is in individual souls, it is not polluted by their defects. Human purpose comes through knowledge of Brahman which also results in bliss and the nullification of works (karma). To obtain knowledge one must be calm and in control of the senses. Works can be combined with knowledge, but those performing them must not be overcome by passion. Knowledge may also be promoted through special acts such as prayer, devotion, and fasting. Meditation though should focus not on symbols of the soul but the reality. Through immobile meditation thoughtfulness and concentration are increased, and meditation needs to be practiced up to death.

By resolving karma through knowledge oneness with Brahman is attained. At death the liberated soul is released from the body and does not return to another. Samkhya and Yoga Kapila, the legendary founder of the Samkhya school, is said to have been an incarnation of Vishnu or Agni; he probably lived during the seventh century BC at the time of the early Upanishads. Kapila was endowed with virtue, knowledge, renunciation, and supernatural power, and taking pity on humanity, he taught the Samkhya doctrine to the Brahmin Asuri, who is mentioned in the Satapatha Brahmana as an expert in sacrificial rituals.

The Samkhya knowledge of discerning the spirit from nature is explained in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad. The word samkhya means discriminating knowledge and came to mean number as an exact form of knowledge. In Asvaghosha’s Life of the Buddha (Buddhacarita), Siddartha is taught Samkhya ideas during his ascetic phase. Aradha described nature (prakriti) as consisting of the five subtle elements, the ego, intellect, the unmanifest, the external objects of the five senses, the five senses, the hands, feet, voice, anus, generative organ, and the mind.

All of these make up the field which is to be known by the soul. Worldly existence is caused by ignorance, the merits and demerits of former actions, and desire. He then explained the problems of mistakes, egoism, confusion, fluctuation (thinking that mind and actions are the same as the “I”), indiscrimination (between the illumined and the unwise), false means (rituals and sacrifices), inordinate attachment, and gravitation (possessiveness). The wise must learn to distinguish the manifested from the unmanifested.

When the prince asked how this is to be accomplished, Aradha explained the practice of yoga. Though an orthodox Hindu school, Samkhya did criticize the killing of animals in the sacrifices. Samkhya ideas also appeared in the Mahabharata in the portions known as the Bhagavad-Gita and the Mokshadharma from book 12. In the latter the intellect (buddhi) controlled by the spirit (purusha) evolves the mind (manas), the senses, and then the gross elements. The three qualities found in all beings are goodness (sattva), passion (rajas), and darkness (tamas).

Goodness brings pleasure, passion pain, and darkness apathy. The knower of the field is emphasized as the spirit (purusha) or soul (atman), and Samkhya and yoga are considered two aspects (knowledge and practice) of the same philosophy. The standard 25 Samkhya principles are enumerated as the eight material principles and the sixteen modifications completed by the all-important spirit (purusha) or unmanifest knower of the field. Ethically the Mokshadharma explains the Samkhya follower as:

In meditation the soul may be seen by the yoga of concentration and the Samkhya yoga of discriminating reason as well as the yoga of works. By knowing all the courses of the world one may turn away from the senses so that after leaving the body that one will be saved, according to the Samkhya view. Disciplined purity and compassion to all creatures are important; the weak may perish, but the strong get free. The field-knower governs all the strands of the material world. Making thought come to rest by meditation, perfected in knowledge and calm, one goes to the immortal place.

The elaborated Samkhya doctrine is attributed to Pancashikha, but the earliest Samkhya text is the Samkhya Karika from the second or third century CE by Ishvara Krishna. According to this text the three qualities of goodness (sattva), activity (rajas), and ignorance (tamas) whose natures are pleasure, pain, and delusion serve the purpose of illumination, action, and restraint. The great principle of intellect (buddhi) which evolves the world, in its good (sattvic) form has virtue, wisdom, non-attachment, and lordly powers, but the reverse are its dark (tamasic) forms.

Yet it is the will that accomplishes the spirit’s experiences and discriminates the subtle difference between nature (prakriti) and spirit (purusha). Uniting with the all-embracing power of nature, causes and effects lead to virtue and ascent to the higher planes or vice and descent to lower. Goodness comes from wisdom, bondage from the opposite. Attachment and activity lead to transmigration. Attainments come from correct reasoning, oral instruction by a teacher, study, the suppression of misery, intercourse with friends, and purity.

Sattva predominates in the worlds above, tamas in those below, and rajas in the middle with the pain of decay and death. Evolution from the will down to specific elements modifies nature and emancipates each spirit. Just as one undertakes action in the world to release the desire for satisfaction, so does the unevolved function for the liberation of the spirit. Thus spirit is never really bound or liberated nor does it transmigrate; only nature in its manifold forms is bound, migrates, or is liberated.

The pure spirit, resting like a spectator perceives nature which has ceased to be productive and by discriminating knowledge turns back from the dispositions. When virtue and other karma cease to function, the spirit of the individual remains invested with the body by past impressions; but when separation from the body comes, its purpose is fulfilled as it attains eternal and absolute independence. The practice of yoga in India is very ancient, probably even pre-Aryan. Yoga is mentioned in several Upanishads and its philosophy is described in the great epics, particularly in the Bhagavad-Gita portion of the Mahabharata.

The classic text for what is called the royal (raja) yoga is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, probably written in the second century BC, although scholarly estimates range from the fourth century BC to the fourth century CE. The word yoga has the same origin as the English word “yoke” and means union. In the Katha Upanishad the senses are to be controlled as spirited horses are by a yoke. The raja yoga tersely described by Patanjali as having eight limbs is considered the psychological yoga.

The Yoga Sutras begin with the idea that yoga (union) is the control of the modifications of consciousness; this enables the seer to stand in one’s own form instead of identifying with the modifications. The five modifications are knowledge (perception, inference, and testimony), error (ideas not formed from reality), imagination (ideas without objects), sleep, and memory (experienced objects). These are controlled by practice and detachment. Practice requires constant attention for a long time, and detachment comes from getting free of the desire for experiences.

Mastery of this comes from the spirit overcoming the qualities. Meditation can be reasoning, discriminating, and joyful awareness of the unity of the universe and self or cessation by renunciation and constantly dissolving impressions, resulting in undifferentiated existence, bodilessness, absorption in the supreme, or faith, enthusiasm, memory, and wisdom. Intense practice brings the best results, or it may be achieved by surrendering to the Lord. The perfect spirit of the Lord is untouched by afflictions, actions, and their results; it is the infinite seed of omniscience beyond time, and its symbol is the sacred word.

Constant practice of that brings cosmic consciousness and the absence of obstacles. The obstacles that distract consciousness are disease, laziness, indecision, apathy, lethargy, craving sense-pleasure, erroneous perception, lack of concentration, and unstable attention. These distractions are accompanied by sorrow, worry, restlessness, and irregular breathing. Cultivating the feelings of friendship, compassion, joy, and equanimity toward those who are happy, suffering, worthy, and unworthy purifies consciousness, as does breathing in and out.

Subtle vision modifies the higher consciousness by bringing the mind stability, as does the transcendent inner light, the awareness that controls passions, the analytical knowledge of dreams and sleep, and concentration according to choice. The lessened modifications become transparent and transformed, and the memory is purified and empty so that objects shine without thought. The subtle elements become undefinable nature in the meditation with seed. Beyond discrimination the oversoul is blessed with direct truth, which is different from verbal inferences.

This impression prevents all other impressions, and control of even this controls everything in seedless meditation. The practice of yoga and meditation is enhanced by discipline, self-study, and surrender to the Lord in order to remove obstacles such as ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life. Obstacles result in action patterns that cause suffering in this life and the next, as virtue and vice bear the fruits of pleasure and pain; but concentration overcomes their effects. Future suffering can be avoided if the perceiver does not identify with the perceived.

Discriminating undisturbed intelligence removes ignorance and suffering by the absence of identity and the freedom of the perceiver. The practice of union proceeds through the eight steps of restraint, observances, posture, breath control, sublimation, attention, concentration, and meditation. The restraints are not injuring, lying, stealing, lusting, nor possessing and are called the universal great vows we have often seen before. The second step of observances involves cleanliness, contentment, discipline, self-study, and surrender to the Lord.

Patanjali suggested that destructive instincts may be overcome by cultivating the opposites of greed, anger, or delusion. In confirming nonviolence the presence of hostility is relinquished. Not lying brings work and its fruits, not stealing riches, not lusting vigor, and from not possessing comes knowledge of past and future lives. Cleanliness brings protection of one’s body, goodness purified becomes serenity, and single-mindedness conquers the senses. Being content gains happiness. Discipline perfects the senses and destroys impurities.

By self-study one may commune with the divine ideal, and meditation is successfully identifying with the Lord. Stable and pleasant postures (asanas) release tension and transform thought. Regulating the inhalation and exhalation of the breath (pranayama) prepares the mind for attention. By withdrawing consciousness from its own objects the senses are sublimated (pratyahara) and under control. The last three steps of attention (dharana), concentration (dhyana), and meditation (samadhi) are the same as the last three steps of the Buddha’s eightfold path.

Attention is defined by Patanjali as the original focus of consciousness, concentration as continuing awareness there, and meditation as when that shines light alone in its own empty form. These three work as one in inner control leading to wisdom and are the psychological steps. As the control of destructive instincts and impressions evolves, the flow of consciousness becomes calm by habit, and oneness arises in meditation. As this oneness evolves, past and present become similar in the conscious awareness. Patanjali then described various psychic abilities that can be attained from the practice of yoga.

Supernatural powers may come from birth, drugs, chanting, discipline, or meditation. Yet he warned that worldly powers are obstacles to meditation. Only the knowledge of discriminating between goodness and spirit brings omnipotence and omniscience, and only from detachment to that is the seed of bondage destroyed in freedom. The soul of the discriminating perceiver is completely detached from emotion and mind so that with serene discrimination the consciousness can move toward freedom. Finally the evolution of transforming qualities fulfills its purpose and stops, cognized as a distinct transformation.

Patanjali concluded, This yoga text has been tremendously influential in India and beyond, and is in my opinion a very positive guide to spiritual liberation as well as being beneficial to ethical development. Bhagavad Gita The Bhagavad-Gita, which means the Song of the Lord, was written between the second century BC and the second century CE. It synthesized many ideas from the Samkhya philosophy and practice of yoga, but it is also claimed by Vedanta and Hindu philosophy in general as its greatest work on spirituality.

The text is actually contained in Book 6 of the epic poem Mahabharata, which tells the story of the great civil war that may have occurred in India as early as about 1400 BC or as late as about 900. These stories will be discussed in the next chapter, but the dramatic context for the dialog between the warrior Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna is the beginning of the actual battle between the rival ruling families, the Kauruvas and Pandavas. The Bhagavad-Gita is narrated by the sage Sanjaya, who clairvoyantly perceives what is going on and relates it to the blind King Dhritarashtra.

Krishna is an uncle and friend of the Pandavas, but remaining neutral he allowed one side to use his vassals in battle, while the Pandava Arjuna got to have him as charioteer although he would not fight himself. By the time this was written Krishna was considered an incarnation of the god Vishnu, the preserver, and he teaches Arjuna several kinds of yoga for achieving union with God. This is the earliest work that emphasized the religious worship of God through devotion to an avatar or incarnation of God which developed into the Vaishnavite faith in medieval Hinduism.

The poem begins with Dhritarashtra asking Sanjaya what is happening not only on the field of Kuru but also on the field of dharma (virtue, duty). Sanjaya describes how both armies are arrayed against each other blowing their conch horns to show their readiness to fight. Then Arjuna asked Krishna to position his chariot between the two armies, and there he saw many of his relatives on the other side, causing him to feel faint and consider not fighting.

Even though the others are killing, Arjuna does not think it would be worth it to do so, even for sovereignty of the three worlds, let alone an earthly kingdom. Evil would come to him, he says, if he should kill his relatives. How could this bring happiness? This family destruction is wrong and would destroy ancient family duties and bring on lawlessness, which would lead to corruption of the women and caste mixing. Why should he kill for greed of royal pleasures? It would be greater happiness for him to be killed unresisting and unarmed. Thus Arjuna’s mind was overcome by sorrow.

Philosophy: Life After Death Analysis

Nobody likes the idea that we are going to die. It’s one of those things that pop into your head whenever you get comfortable, possibly as a subconscious motivational tool. Just in case you ever get really, truly at ease with your life it strikes you that it will all come to an end (possibly quite horribly) without your say-so or even prior notification. Many people find this not only rude but also decidedly inconvenient, and refuse to accept that their lovely lives could ever end. Others are content to allow existence is occasional bout of poor manners and go quietly.

This essay is about the main ways people accept their demise, or rather (as it is in most cases) do not. Materialism With science fast becoming the newest rock and roll, you would think more people would be zealous advocates of materialism, but this is not the case. You would think that the belief that you are nothing more than a soulless (although organic) piece of machinery, rambling aimlessly with only the purpose of reproducing and a brain minutely to advanced to accept this would have most people jumping at the chance to support it.

Perhaps this is because materialism falls under the umbrella of reductionism, and as Richard Dawkins says, “in some circles, admitting to being a reductionist is comparable to admitting to eating babies”. Conveniently for this paper however, there has been a long and steadfast tradition of Materialism, the primus inter pares of which is a Mr Gilbert Ryle. In 1949 when psychology was a young and nubile science, seen (as all new sciences are seen) to hold the Holy Grail to understanding the human mind, Ryle published “The Concept Of The Mind”. In this he dismissed the soul as a category mistake, or as the lay would say a misuse of language.

He even went so far as to coin a scornful phrase for his nemesis “the ghost in the machine” – a beautifully elegant term as it embodies both his belief of the body/mind (as for Ryle, the mind is physical organ and so part of the body) as a machine and the soul as the long jibed-by-science notion of ghosts. Ryle implored us to consider the poor foreigner who asks why the team spirit is late for the sports match, only to be mocked by those of us who understand that “team spirit” is merely a romantic term for the collective banter of many men – not a separate entity of its own.

Ryle saw talk of a soul in a similar fashion, as a way to describe the way a man behaves in the world and acts around others and that to say a soul is something separate is trying to justify something that simply isn’t there. Unfortunately for Ryle he was speaking shortly after a very bloody war, to a nation who had just lost many friend and loved ones, who were not really all too willing to accept they had simply been thrust into oblivion by the Nazi war machine.

However we live in an altogether different time, far from any front line where we can keep the idea of death at a hypothetical arm’s reach. So enters Richard Dawkins. Dawkins appears to be the classic godless heathen atheist, holding totally to his beliefs in the science of genetics and conviction that they hold the complete explanation for what we are. Following from Charles Darwin who came up with the idea of natural selection as a mechanism for our existence – the first credible one that didn’t use one god, many gods or any other intangible divine apparatus.

This didn’t go down too well with theologians of the time, notably William Paley who wrote an entire text against it (including a metaphor which provided Dawkins with the title for a book of his own). Paley’s metaphor was one comparing a rock to a watch, one being a purposeless lump of raw ore and the other a well-defined, precise piece of machinery capable of performing a function. He held that the distinction between these two is that one has a designer and one does not, the wider implication of this being that the universe’s/human being’s innate complexity was evidence of design.

Dawkins attacks this idea in “The Blind Watchmaker”. Dawkins gives us the sense of a force of evolution capable of creating human beings in all their complexity and beauty, at once doing away with notions of the divine background that give strength to our claim on a soul. Evolution is the blind watchmaker of the title, the ultra-slow cumulative selection filtering system that weeds out miscreant creations through a process of statistical averages across mind-bogglingly huge lengths of time. This theory is now so tight and well accepted that the pious peoples of the intelligencer have declared war on it.

Some of their focus is sadly misdirect against cheap shots on Dawkins himself, where he makes categorical errors of his own. These include the idea of “memes”: a reality tunnel Dawkins used to illustrate both the pollination of the human genome and the accelerated spreading of knowledge due to the advent of global communication. This has been attacked as “smuggling” in genetic precepts to explain human behaviour (thus further reducing us to a material level), but I suspect it has been taken out of context.

There are, however, some very important things to be said against modern materialistic thinking (not just against Dawkins, but the ideas he argues). Firstly, it ignores innate human feeling and instinct. We have for generations lived in a world where we have an immortal soul. The reason we pursue arts and literature and experience in life is because we believe we have a soul to nourish. We are uncomfortable with being just a machine, and there are many reasons to say we don’t have to be.

To see an object’s composite physical elements does not mean you have eliminated what it is. A pencil is dead wood; graphite and wood stain but still no less a pencil. To see a pencil like that could give you no idea that it’s functions are performed in a world away from physical description, where it is a transhume for human thought onto paper. This can be seen as a reflection of how the soul works – with a physical body, but also totally separate from it. These is the principle thinking of the next school of thought on the afterlife (or should it be afterdeath? ): Dualism

In “The Republic” Plato divulged to the world his idea of the soul/body duality that would endure for many centuries after his death. He postulated the world of the forms, where the perfect aesthetic ideas of everything that is and could be on earth exists. He also conjured a demiurge being (a kind of slave God) that would wrench these concepts from their paradise into the land of the material. So every dog/man/table on earth is derived from the dog/man/table ideal in the world of the forms – but only appear different due to the corruption of the corporeal form they inhabit.

Important to the proof of the soul was Plato’s idea of “reminiscence“, which is at its fundament the way we can differentiate between a table and a man. As ideas are from our prior, pure existence they are more real. And as they are not physical things, they belong to the spirit realm – so how do we recognise them if we are material? The answer is obvious: we must possess something in ourselves that is not physical, better known as the soul. This is not gross, unthinking matter; it is pure and capable of “seeing” the forms.

This is how we, as human societies, obtain common ideas of justice, duty and honour (all forms to Plato) even when we are geographically isolated from each other. Plato worshipped his soul, claiming it to be the force that guides all of us from the distasteful material world (haven for all the ignorance and savagery that must have confronted him in ancient Athens) towards the higher realm of the forms. Plato’s ideas became standard thinking for most of the world, mainly because it seems so rational to believe that is really how things work.

Aristotle as with all things in his life, took what Plato said and changed it to make it his own. This mainly meant that instead of the demiurge train taking you back and forth from the form world and this one, your soul is what defines your genus, and when you die simply perishes with you (as it is really only the shaping force to your physical form). The only reason Aristotle’s theories are still mentionable (aside from the notoriety he gained from his zoological encyclopaedia) is that they have a factor that was adopted by Catholicism.

For Aristotle postulated that humans have reason because they have a different kind of soul from other animals on earth, which ties in nicely with the idea of God making humans superior and giving them the earth to steward in Genesis. Resurrectionism The Bible chooses to spend the great part of its time writing an imperative persuasio; trying to convince us that we will survive death at all, not really addressing how it will happen.

The closest we get is I Corinthians 15 vs 35-44 where it first tells us that we should not worry about how we are to be resurrected, but allays our fears with the idea of being given a brand new body after death (ideally on the day of Judgement, but then there is an awful lot of souls hanging around somewhere for millennia upon millennia…) constructed of “heavenly flesh”. Well that’s ok then. Some people are less trusting than me and wished to hear an explanation that had either Evidence (not going to happen in this lifetime) or Coherence.

So John Hick came along with his theory of re-creationism. Hick gave us a postulate in three parts: 1) You disappear mysteriously and reappear in Lowest Moldavia. The man on the other continent is, to all conceivable intents and purposes, you. He has your memories, your physical form and think/behaves exactly like you. Most people would concede that he is you. 2) You have a mishap with a griddle and die. Exactly at that moment a man (much like the one above, and so, you) appears in another less-than-well-known European country, professing your identity.

Again, many (and it is those that don’t who hold the spear to the neck of re-creationism) would concede he is you. 3) Not learning your lesson, you insist on more griddling antics and meet a timely end. This time the replica you appears in another (slightly more divine) planet that is “not situated any distance or direction from our present world”. You have died and gone to heaven. With this presumption, Hick attempts to give us a mechanism for accessing the next life – that God will recreate us and we will live in another world forever.

The only problem with this idea (other than that it is based entirely apart from fact) is the worrying concept that if no part of you actually continues to the next life (for you are only being recreated) then how can you call it an afterlife. Sure, the rest of the universe can have the benefit of my everlasting existence, but to me the difference between dying full stop and dying to have a copy of me live in paradise is almost totally nonexistent. This for me spells the end for recreationism.

One of the main problems with dualism is where the soul actually is in the body (unless you go for the pencil argument above, where you cannot see the soul with the perception you use to see the body). Descartes understood that this first hurdle to the afterlife had to be overcome, and came up with this: In your life you experience thoughts, feelings and sensations. These cannot be located in the physical body and to Descartes all that is not physical is the mind. He concluded (with the famous “I Think, Therefore I Am”) that although the mind and body are distinct, they must interact.

Being of a pre-quantum time, this lead Descartes to divide the universe into two basic substances – that which is matter and that which is mind. He arrived at the idea that both these substances existed due to a fundamental purpose – mind-material’s purpose is to think, actual matter’s is to take up space. This belief is what makes the distinction between Plato’s dualism (which is more popular). If there is a divide between the physical/mental worlds, the mind is not a locating device for ideas that are present in the outside world– it is the realm where they exist, non-empirical and as corruptible as the flesh.

On the face of it, it would appear Descartes has a very logical justification of an immortal soul for the afterlife – “Our soul is of a nature entirely independent of the body, and consequentially…is not bound to it. And since we cannot see any other causes which destroy the soul, we are naturally lead to conclude that it is immortal. ” Referring to the original question of the soul’s location, Descartes may have hoisted himself by his own Petard. Where Plato could simply say the form and body were blended by the demiurge, Descartes spoke of an absolute divide – so he had to find a location for it inside the body to allow interaction.

For this he drew on the pineal gland or epiphysis cerebri, now know to be the control mechanism for Melatonin (which is released during sleep, helping regulate the body clock). Without this bridge the soul breaks the laws of physics (notably the 1st law of thermodynamics and energy conservation laws). This means we are back to square one with dualism. So (discounting Epiphenomenalism as it doesn’t really seek an afterlife) we find dualistic notions of a soul failing in the face of science. Studies on the brain have revealed new problems, one of which is the effect the brain has on our behaviour.

If you administer drugs to or perform surgery on the brain, definite changes occur with regard to our behaviour – this would seem to strongly imply a physical link between what we know as our souls and the brain. The problem rests with the already established fact that the soul is nowhere to be found in the body. There is one final main option for us however: Reincarnation Pythagoras, well known for his work with triangles, believed in a transmigration of the soul, meaning a jump from one body to the other at the moment of death.

Unfortunately we have none of Pythagoras’s actual writings, so cannot know the details of what he believed. It is said that he studied in Babylon, a highly cosmopolitan city where he could easily have been exposed to Hindu ideas. One people we know about, as their ideas were still strong in Plato’s time, are the Orphists. They used one of the myths about Dionysus in their teachings: When he was killed in a battle with the Titans, noble Athene saved Dionysus’s heart. Zeus (who was Dionysus’s father) swallowed the heart and spat a reincarnated Dionysus.

Zeus then ordered Prometheus to create man from the leftovers of both Dionysus and the Titans. The good in Dionysus became our souls and the evil Titan’s flesh formed our bodies. This is what gave Plato his ideas on the dualist separation of the body and soul. He may have missed the message of the Orphists however, as they were trying to communicate an ethical approach to reincarnation. As with many Indian beliefs, actions in this world lead to positive or negative forms being granted to you in the next world.

Also very much like India, they believed that this cycle of reincarnation was torment for the souls, being constantly torn from loved ones and experiencing the pain of death over and over. This could only be escaped by cumulative good deed doing, which would free you from the cycle. Though this would appear to have as many problems as a dualist soul that transmigrates to heaven (namely that we cannot find the soul and there is no proof of the afterlife as we haven’t gone there) reincarnation has one saving grace.

Why are people born with horrible, horrible afflictions? Why are some born to fabulous wealthy and easy success, while other slave for years in abject poverty? A Hindu would say these are al the physical evidence for reincarnation, karmic justice meted out in the world around us. When you have the people of the last life coming back to earth instead of off to heaven it gives you a useful insight in to the afterlife (because you are already in it).

Hypnosis will have us believe we can even access our past lives, and many people do go along with this as evidence for reincarnation. A young boy, born with one hand severely disfigured, claims to have been an Egyptian slave master in a past life – responsible for the disciplining of runaway slaves with corporeal punishment. A woman claims her knowledge of a building she has never been to stems from living there in a previous existence. Sadly however, science steps in again to say these are merely symptoms of psychological longings.

Empirical Knowledge Essay

Kant starts off making two distinctions regarding kinds of knowledge, empirical/rational and formal/material. Empirical or experience-based knowledge is contrasted with rational knowledge, which is independent of experience. This distinction between empirical and rational knowledge rests on a difference in sources of evidence used to support the two different kinds of knowledge. Formal is contrasted with material knowledge. Formal knowledge has no specific subject matter; it is about the general structure of thinking about any subject matter whatsoever.

Material knowledge is of a specific subject matter, either nature or freedom. Rational knowledge is metaphysics, of which there are two branches, the metaphysics of nature and of morals. The metaphysics of nature is supposed to provide rational knowledge of the laws of nature. These are not empirical laws; they are more like universal principles of nature that any empirical physical would presuppose, such as that no event in nature occurs without a natural cause. The metaphysics of freedom is supposed to provide knowledge of the laws of freedom.

These are the universal rules, which free agents devise to govern them. Thus, Kant’s grounding, his initial attempt at a critique of rational reason, is an investigation of the possibility of purely rational knowledge of morals. Take, for example, the Moral Rule: Thou shalt not lie. If the moral law is valid as the basis of moral obligation or duty, then it must be necessary. Kant using the word “necessity” means that the rule obligates or binds whatever the conditions or in all circumstances.

It also means that the rule applies to all rational beings and not only to human beings. In this second sense we can say that the rule is universally binding. So in fact, moral rules are universal and necessary. If a moral rule is to be universal and necessary, the moral law must be derived from concepts of pure reason alone. Therefore, if a moral rule or law can only be derived from reason alone, there must be a pure moral philosophy whose task is to provide such a derivation.

In the “Grounding”, Kant sets himself the task of establishing the “supreme principle of morality” from which to make such a derivation. According to Kant good will and only a good will is intrinsically good. Kant distinguishes two different types of intrinsic or extrinsic goods. If a thing is only extrinsically good, then it is possible for that thing not to be good, or to be bad or evil. Intrinsic goodness is goodness in itself; if a thing is intrinsically good, its goodness is essential to it; and its goodness is not a function of factors other than itself.

Kant holds that only a good will, not happiness, is intrinsically good. The idea that it is reason rather than natural impulse that guides action for the sake of happiness is false. Parts of a person perform their functions by surviving and this provides happiness for the person. Reason functions poorly in serving that purpose; instinct does better job. Natural instinct rather than reason provides better for happiness. Kant distinguishes between having a reason to act and acting for a reason. The motivating reason is the reason for which agent acts.

A justifying reason is the reason that justifies, warrants, and provides the criterion of rightness for the action. The agent’s motivating reason might or might not provide a justifying reason for his action. Kant then defines three types of motivating reasons. One type of non-moral motivation is natural motivation. Action in accord with duty is motivated by immediate or direct inclination. Direct inclination includes such motives as love, sympathy, instinct for self-preservation, or the desire for happiness. The other type of non-moral motivation is prudence.

An action in accord with duty, but motivated by prudence, is action motivated by the pursuit of self-interest or happiness. Since all human beings naturally desire happiness, prudential motivation is indirectly motivated by a natural motivation. Moral motivation is the third type of motivation. The action is not only in accord with duty, but motivated by duty, done from duty, or for sake of duty. The agent’s motivating reason, the reason for which he acts, is that the action is what morality demands and he wants above all to do what reason demands.

Descartes Philosophy Essay

From Descartes’ perspective, nature is a representation of God; therefore, God must intrinsically exist, inasmuch as he, too, is a product of His own creation. Descartes was one of many philosophers who fully supported this argument in support of God’s existence, contending that the external world is the ruling force behind the presence of all beings.

Descartes’ assertions, as portrayed within the literary boundaries of Meditations on First Philosophy, were founded not in cosmological or ontological arguments but rather in teleological debate, inasmuch as the philosopher believed hat there has to be an omnipotent entity responsible for all the purpose and order that is found within natural existence and, thereby, stimulating a sense of wonder about the world.

One of the primary reasons why Meditation III brings forth such a sense of wonder is because Descartes’ philosophical writings followed a very distinctive trail, one that pursued a path of purity and sincerity. He believed deeply in the value of ethics as it related to humans within the natural world, and his concept of forming an adequate ethical code was thought to be the only way in hich people could truly base their value system.

Within this natural world of which he spoke, Descartes theorized that knowledge was the ultimate controller of the environment, thus supporting the teleological argument as proof of God. He persevered and postulated as to how he could at last seal the overwhelming gap that existed between thought and action. It was through his writings that Descartes exercised the possibility that all thought and action are interconnected, bringing to mind the view of science and how it undoubtedly demonstrated the same evidence.

Characteristic of humanity’s constant quest for the oncept of God’s existence, the journey of understanding has come to represent myriad things to myriad people, ultimately rendering any universal explanation virtually impossible. The problem with such sought-after meaning is attempting to successfully pinpoint a single yet comprehensive connotation to its concept; however, this cannot be achieved as long as any two individuals harbor decidedly different interpretations.

I shall now close my eyes, I shall stop my ears, I shall call away all my senses, I shall efface even from my thoughts all the images of corporeal things, or t least (for that is hardly possible) I shall esteem them as vain and false; and thus holding converse only with myself and considering my own nature, I shall try little by little to reach a better knowledge of and a more familiar acquaintanceship with myself” (Descartes PG).

Inasmuch as Descartes provides a naturalistic theory for God’s existence, which is based upon human nature’s philosophical reasoning, this form of mitigated conviction is what essentially supports his stance on God’s existence through teleology. When discussing alternate restriction on philosophical position, it is important to consider the undamental basis of Descartes’ principles as a means by which to ascertain a clear and concise impression of the philosopher’s intent.

Indeed, it can readily be argued that Descartes held a strong belief in universal infiltration of one’s existence; however, it was also quite obvious that he parted ways with myriad other theorists when it came to the issues of proof of God by any other explanation than teleology. Once an individual realizes that thoughts can connect form as well as ideas and that everything in the universe is vibrating energy, then one is able to grasp the rational oncept that God truly does exist.

I ought in no wise to doubt the truth of such matters, if, after having called up all my senses, my memory, and my understanding, to examine them, nothing is brought to evidence by any one of them which is repugnant to what is set forth by the others. For because God is in no wise a deceiver, it follows that I am not deceived in this” (Descartes PG). With this internal insight, one can better attune to the natural balance of which all entities are a part, striving to bring a sense of balance and harmony within.

All of this is readily ccomplished by focusing upon what one wants to envision, as well as the belief that without God’s existence there would be no tangible world. The ways in which Meditation III has encouraged a sense of wonder about the world is through Descartes’ lucid images. The way to accept God’s existence is not shown through emotions but through the Higher Mind, through the faculty of intrinsic belief. Feelings can be misleading for they are often nothing more than reactions from the lower self.

As an example, even a sentimental emotion disguised as love can be an improper stimulus for action. A strong personal desire can also evoke an emotional response, which would be interpreted as a divine signal to move toward the goal, even while the higher Mind is suggesting a different plan of fulfillment. From this point, one may perceive that the mind rather than emotions represents the path of divine guidance; however, the mind, too, may represent a pitfall with regard to mental reasoning and analytical thinking. Hence there remains only the idea of God, concerning which we must consider whether it is something which cannot have proceeded from me myself.

By the name God I understand a substance that is infinite [eternal, immutable], independent, all-knowing, all-powerful, and by which I myself and everything else, if anything else does exist, have been created. Now all these characteristics are such that the more diligently I attend to them, the less do they appear capable of proceeding from me alone; hence, from what has been already said, we must conclude that God necessarily exists” (Descartes PG).

Descartes illustrates how human beings are the very source of thought, the eternal connection to the divine intelligence that is inside, in front of and behind all orm. Our willingness to say yes, to be positive, unafraid to take the next step, to go with our internal intuition is all part and parcel of what God has created within the scope of nature, bestowing the power to co-create with that divine intelligence as a universal essence.

When assessing the critical components of utilizing teleology as a means by which to prove God’s existence, it is important to also look at oneself as but a minute element in the overall scheme. “From this it is quite clear that, notwithstanding the supreme goodness of God, the nature of man, inasmuch as it s composed of mind and body, cannot be otherwise than sometimes a source of deception” (Descartes PG).

Also important to remember is that in accordance with the teleological argument, one’s subconscious mind has the duty to manifest whatever the conscious mind puts its attention upon. God is an entity of His own artistic creation; thus, His existence is a truth for the very reason that it was His efforts that enabled all other entities to exist, as well. Also known as the design argument, one can readily contend that nature is superior to art; as such, nature represents no less a form of divine art.

Confucianism, the philosophical system

Confucianism, the philosophical system founded on the teaching of Confucius, who lived from 551 BC to 479 BC, dominated Chinese sociopolitical life for most of the Chinese history and largely influenced the cultures of Korea, Japan, and Indochina. The Confucian school functioned as a recruiting ground for government positions, which were filled by those scoring highest on examinations in the Confucian classics. It also blended with popular and important religions and became the vehicle for presenting Chinese values to the peasants.

The school’s doctrine supported political authority using the theory of the mandate of heaven. It sought to help rulers maintain domestic order, preserve tradition, and maintain a constant standard of living for the tax paying peasants. It trained its followers in generous giving, traditional rituals, family order, loyalty, respect for superiors and for the aged, and principled flexibility in advising rulers. Confucius was China’s first and most famous philosopher. He had a traditional personal name (Qiu) and a formal name (Zhoghi).

Confucius’s father died shortly after Confucius’s birth. His family fell into relative poverty, and Confucius joined a growing class of impoverished descendants of aristocrats who made their careers by acquiring knowledge of feudal ritual and taking positions of influence serving the rulers of the many separate states of ancient China. Confucius devoted himself to learning. At the age of 30, however, when his short-lived official career floundered, he turned to teaching others.

Confucius himself never wrote down his own philosophy, although tradition credits him with editing some of the historical classics that were used as texts in his school. He apparently made an enormous impact on the lives and attitudes of his disciples. Confucianism combines a political theory and a theory of human nature to yield dao, a prescriptive doctrine or way. The political theory starts with a Doctrine of political authority from heaven’s command: the ruler bears responsibility for the well being of the people and therefore for peace and order in the empire.

Confucianism emerged as a more coherent philosophy when faced with intellectual competition from other schools that were growing in the schools that were growing in the fertile social climate of pre-imperial China (400-200 BC). Daoism, Mohism and Legalism all attacked Confucianism. A common theme of these attacks was that Confucianism assumed that tradition and convention was always correct. Mencuis (372-289 BC) developed a more idealistic inclination to good behavior that does not require education.

Xun Zi (313- 238 BC) argued that all inclinations are shaped by acquired language and other social forms. Confucianism rose to the position of an official orthodoxy during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). It absorbed the metaphysical doctrines of Yin (the female principle) and Yang (the male principle) found in the Book of Changes and other speculative metaphysical notions. With the fall of the Han Dynasty, Confucianism fell into severe decline. Except for the residual effects of its official status, Confucianism remained philosophically dormant for approximately 600 years.

Confucianism began to revive with the reestablishment of the Chinese dynastic power in the Tang Dynasty (618- 906 AD). The Zen Buddhist, Chan felt that There is nothing much to Buddhist teaching. And, the education offered by Confucist teaching filled the intellectual gap. The Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD) produced Neo-Confucianism, which is an interpretation of classical Confucianism doctrine that addressed both Buddhist and Daoist issues. Its development was due mainly to Zhenglo (1032) and Zhengi (1033-1107), but for the orthodox statement of Neo-Confucianism, one turns to Zhu Xi (1130- 1200).

His commentaries on the four scriptures of Confucianism were required study for the imperial civil service examinations. From the beginning of the 1200’s to about 1949 and the communist era in China, Confucianism was the belief that told the peasants of China that the mandate of heaven said that emperors were to rule the Chinese Empire. Because of this philosophy, westerners often viewed the Chinese lifestyle as odd and referred to the Chinese officials as inscrutable.

G.W.F. Hegel

Imagine studying the political and social developments of the 20th century without ever considering Communism or evaluating the idea of Fascism. Envision a Russia without the effects of Joseph Stain or a Germany untouched by the doctrine of Adolph Hitler. The above statements seem incredible because these systems created so much of the political and social turmoil throughout this century. Just as politics seems incomplete without the prevalence of these ideas, it is also incomplete without the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

G. W. F. Hegel stands as one of the most influential philosophers of the past three centuries. Unlike philosopher before him, his all-embracing metaphysical systems attempt to uncover the fundamental nature and meaning of the universe and human interaction. The philosophies Hegel developed are so complex that many people confuse what he actually believed and what has been attributed to him. Therefore, three main areas must be analyzed in order to best understand what Hegel believed and the origin of his beliefs.

The first main area includes a biographical sketch, which serves as an analysis of his upbringing and how this later influenced his work. Next Hegels theories of Absolute Spirit and Dialectical Forces must be analyzed in order to understand their influence on the third and final area his contribution to political thought. The popular opinion of Hegel holds firm roots in his political influence, making it imperative that this side of his philosophy be analyzed in order to gain a complete understanding of what Hegel stood for throughout his life as a philosopher.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born in August of 1770 in Stuttgart, Germany, to a low-income civil servant and an educated homemaker. The oldest of three children, Hegel was raised in a strong Protestant home where he grew very attached to his family, especially his sister Christiane. This sister, although afflicted with psychological disorders, influenced many of Hegels ideas of psychiatry based on dialectics, which greatly influenced his lifetime work. Hungry for knowledge, Hegel learned not only German literature and science, but he also immersed himself in the Greek and Roman classics.

These readings introduced Hegel to the Greek city-states, which he later used to formulate his opinion of the perfect government. When, at 18 years of age, Hegel entered school to become a clergyman upon the wishes of his father, his true devotion stood with the support of the French Revolutionaries. During this time of political struggle, Hegel was inspired to write his first influential novel, The Phenomenology of Mind. This book reflects like no other Hegels interpretation of freedom and his thoughts concerning what constitutes a perfect society.

Although Hegel wrote many books throughout his lifetime, historians focus on two in particular The Phenomenology of Mind and the Philosophy of History. From these two books, nearly all of Hegels philosophical developments can be systematically traced, educating the reader about Hegels philosophies yet also creating uncertainty as to what these theories really mean. Viewed as one of the most influential philosophers in modern history, Hegel made many significant offerings to the world of philosophical theory. The major contribution of Hegel to philosophical theory is Absolute Spirit.

This spirit encompasses all truth in its totality and wholeness. Many scholars have likened this theory with that of Platos Idea, but they fail to observe one essential difference in the two. The Idea portrays a static, timeless, and unchanging truth that exists in a higher world, while Hegels Spirit changes with the chronicles of history. In order to understand the change and development of the world, according to Hegel, one must seek to aspire to a higher realm of human experience. The main avenue one may approach this realm is through the strict study of history.

History plays an essential role in this philosophy because Hegel viewed the Absolute Spirit not as fixed and static but evolving and developing with the people of the world. The second major philosophical theory of Hegel contains the Dialectic Struggle. This theory contains the ideas of Hegel that later instigated Communism and Fascism. The Dialectic Struggle represents the way in which society evolves to a higher state through the clash of two opposing forces. The combination of this thesis and antithesis achieves a higher level of truth and wholeness, thus pushing society toward a more perfect form.

Hegel believed that each higher level of history precluded another step in the evolution of freedom, which lead to the next scope of his influence political thought. By the time of his death, Hegel had become the most beloved philosopher in Germany. Hegels precepts fit perfectly into the puzzle that was Germany at this time, a small group of independent states searching for political unification. Hegel felt the will of the people must be in harmony with their needs, and this ideal spread throughout Germany, gaining him immense popularity in a nation struggling to find a way to gain strength under the oppression of stronger nations.

Hegel believed the aggressive search for freedom could give the Germans what they truly desired, and the only true freedom came from within an organized social group and a cohesive political community. This brings back the influence of the Greek city-states on Hegels philosophy as to what makes a good social structure. Because he felt the nation-state represented the supreme achievement of the Absolute Spirit, Hegel likened true freedom with the peoples obedience to the states commands.

Furthermore, he felt the state could only be bound by self-preservation and believed war became fundamentally necessary to achieve this goal. As a result of this blatant justification of government control and conquest, some regarded Hegel as the spiritual precursor of Fascist Totalitarianism. Although Hegel did not believe in the ideas of Communism or Fascism himself, these doctrines have been prescribed to him due to a radical interpretation of his work by a group of men called the Young Hegelians.

These men, most prominently Karl Marx, manipulated Hegels work in order to justify Communist and Fascist ideals, such as the formation of a classless society and cultural dominance of one race over another. The distinguishing feature between the products of Hegel and that of other philosophers remains the exceptional historical sense that underlies his work. By borrowing from the rationalism of the Enlightenment and the tenets of the Romantic Movement, Hegel combined the scientific method with a general understanding of human nature.

He analyzed not only the steps leading up to a historical event, but also how people shaped the event, thus increasing the wholeness of the Absolute Spirit of humanity. Hegels works are often widely misunderstood because of their mystical, complex nature. Not all people can grasp the idea of Absolute Spirit of the Dialectic Struggle theory, but those who can understand the true philosophical genius that was G. W. F. Hegel and the numerous contributions he made to his profession during his time and into the modern day.

Hume vs. Kant On the Nature of Morality

From the origin of Western philosophical thought, there has been an interest in moral laws. As Hume points out in the Treatise, “morality is a subject that interests us above all others” (David Hume “A Treatise of Human Nature’). Originally, thoughts of how to live were centered on the issue of having the most satisfying life, with “virtue governing one’s relations to others” (J. B. Schneewind ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’). However, the view that there is one way to live that is best for everyone and the view that morality is determined by God, came to be questioned, and it is this that led to the emergence of Modern moral philosophy.

The moral debates continued to see good as merely that which gives happiness or pleasure. “it was assumed that what we ought to do is always a function of what it would be good to bring about: action can only be right because it produces good (J. B. Schneewind ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’). It was the breaking away from this idea that was perhaps the most important aspect of the works of both Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and David Hume (1711-1776). Hume’s moral theory arose out of his belief that reason alone can never cause action. Desire or feelings cause action. Because reason alone can never cause action, morality is rooted in our feelings.

Virtue arises from acting on a desire to help others. Hume’s moral theory is therefore a virtue-centered morality rather than the natural-law morality, which saw morality as coming from God. Kant’s notion of morality arose from his notion of a moral law; a law applicable to all people at all times, that imposes absolute duties on us. According to Kant, you “ought to act according to the maxim that is qualified for universal law giving; that is, you ought to act so that the maxim of your action may become a universal law” (Immanuel Kant ‘Lectures of Mr. Kant on the Metaphysics of Morals’).

Kant, unlike Hume, saw it as possible to act on reason alone, and whether or not a person acted morally depended on whether he/she had acted on reason alone. The essential difference between Kant and Hume that affected their whole thinking on the matter of morality was each one’s belief about the autonomy of the will. Kant saw the will as fully autonomous and therefore needing no external sources for motivation, thus making it possible to act out of reason alone. This view went completely against that put forward by Hume. Hume believed that “reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions”.

He argued that reason is used to discover the causes of pain or pleasure, but it is the prospect of pain or pleasure that causes action, not the reasoning alone, as that is entirely indifferent to us. This notion of always being motivated by pleasure or pain is very important, as it follows from this that when we act morally, it is a desire that makes us act and not reason. “Since morals, therefore, have an influence on the actions and affections, if follows that they cannot be derived from reason, and that because reason alone, as we have already proved, can never have any such influence.

Morals excite passions, and produce or prevent actions. Reason of itself is utterly impotent in this particular. The rules of morality, therefore, are not conclusions of our reason” (David Hume ‘A Treatise of Human Nature’). Kant saw it as essential that the will must not be the slave of the passions for moral actions to be possible. Kant differentiated two kinds of imperative statements: first, the hypothetical imperative, which has the general for “If you want to achieve P then you should do X”; and, second, the categorical imperative, of the form “You should do X”.

Hypothetical imperatives are unproblematic. They are straightforward sentences that express mundane statements of fact. Categorical ones, on the other hand, are highly problematic. My own reaction to any categorical imperative is to ask, “Why? “. For instance, if a rabbi tells me “You should refrain from eating pork”, then that appears to me to be an incomplete statement. I immediately want to hear the missing half of the statement, which would answer the question “Why should I refrain from eating pork? “.

Or better, “What will happen to me if I do eat pork? “. The Kantians do not try to answer the question why. Instead, they “tell” people that they shouldn’t worry about why because the question “Why? ” is meaningless when interrogating a categorical imperative. Since most people do not have a background of analytical philosophy, they feel obliged to accept this imperative. In Kant’s view, only if a person is acting solely on the categorical imperative such as doing something out of duty, can the act be morally good.

This is because if somebody is acting out of the hypothetical imperative, he/she has an ulterior motive in acting in that way and are therefore not acting out of duty but are pursuing a certain end. They need not be acting in self-interest, but if they act because of a desire to act in that way, this is not morally worthy. You can still act morally if it gives you pleasure, as long as the reason for your action is solely out of duty. Kant gives the example of someone who without any motive of self-interest finds joy in helping others.

They act out of the pleasure that it gives them to do so. In this case the person’s action (though we may applaud them for it) has no true moral worth. It is only if his mind “be clouded over with his own sorrow so that all sympathy with the lot of others is extinguished,” and that ” though no motivation moves him any longer, he never the less tears himself from his deadly insensibility and performs the (moral) action without any inclination at all, but solely from duty, that for the first time his action has genuine moral worth” (Immanuel Kant, ‘Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals’).

The final important argument that Hume levels against those that see reason alone as able to motivate is his ‘is and ought’ argument. On the rationalist system, virtue and vice are discovered by reason alone through facts or relations. Whereas with the hypothetical imperative it is relatively simple to see why someone acts, as they act in order to achieve some goal (ie. If you want x then you ought to do y), it does not follow from a fact (‘is’ statement) that you ought to pursue a certain course of action.

As Hume points out “No imperative conclusion can be validly drawn from a set of premises which does not contain at least one imperativeIn this logical ruleis to be found the bases of Hume’s celebrated observation on the impossibility of deducing an ‘ought’-proposition from a series of ‘is’-propositions” (R. M. Hare ‘The Language of Morals’). One problem with the Humean notion of morality though is that if morality is based on an individual’s sentiment, how can we have any absolute, universal notion of morality? Won’t every individual simply have his/her own morality?

Hume replies that underneath each rational being’s own morality, there will be a deeper universal morality in basic notions such as justice, etc. However, I couldn’t find any convincing justification of this idea. So, how does Kant answer the objection that a categorical imperative will never alone lead to action? He cannot use examples of reason alone motivating, as we can never tell that subconsciously or otherwise another factor isn’t in fact involved. He therefore will have to prove the possibility of the categorical imperative being applied in reality a priori.

He argues in the third section of the ‘Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals’ that they key to moral action is freedom of the will. He still though doesn’t explain how a categorical imperative can motivate. His answer is in fact fairly disappointing. He argues that we all take a great deal of interest in the moral law, and that “the moral law is valid for us not because it interests us, but rather, the moral law interests us because it is valid for us as men, since it has sprung from our will as intelligence and hence from our proper self” (Immanuel Kant ‘Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals’).

He says that there is no possibility in knowing why we are interested in universal maxims and therefore morality, as the rational part of us exists outside time and space and we can therefore not achieve any understanding of it is this world. I do not see this as a satisfactory answer in any way. Having based his entire view of morality on the idea of the categorical imperative, Kant is unable to substantiate his claim that we are capable of acting on reason alone.

He merely dodges the issue by saying that there is no possibility of understanding how a categorical imperative can motivate. However, this does not invalidate the rest of Kant’s argument in the least. It is still possible to argue that morality can only occur through the categorical imperative while holding the Humean idea that reason alone can never motivate, and so conclude that morality doesn’t exist in reality. In conclusion, we can see that both the two theories have a number of things in common as well as some important differences.

Both made a significant break with past moral theorists in putting forward a morality that does not according to Kant “needthe idea of another being above man, for a man to recognize his duty” (quoted in ‘The Concise Encyclopedia of Western Philosophy and Philosophers’ Ed. J. O. Urmson). Whereas past moral theories had seen duties as laid down by God, Hume and Kant saw morality as rooted in humans themselves. However from here the theories diverge.

Hume sees moral judgements as being caused by sentiments of pain or pleasure within an agent as reason alone can never motivate, whereas Kant see the only moral actions as being those caused by reason alone, or the categorical imperative. I think that both theories have a problem with coming up with absolute moral laws – Hume’s theory because absolute morality would appear to be impossible if morality is based on an individual’s sentiment, and Kant’s theory because it cannot prove the existence of the categorical imperative.

Philosophy: A Comprehensive Definition

The word philosophy, by definition, is extremely vague and ambiguous. It can be related to anything to do with thought, perception, and even basic human existence. Therefore, in defining philosophy, perhaps it is easier to simply state what it may or may not involve rather than trying to find a concrete and simplified definition.

Philosophy includes the studies of logic, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology. Logic deals with the principles and systems of reasoning. It is the method by which we deduce and interpret information. Ethics involves the principles of morals and the judgment of good and bad conduct. Aesthetics is the appreciation of artistic beauty and taste. Metaphysics examines the nature of reality and its relationship to the supernatural. Epistemology studies the very nature of knowledge itself.

Through its development, philosophy has also touched virtually every intellectual discipline possible. These include, but are by no means limited to: science, mathematics, psychology, religion and theology, literature, politics, history, and the arts. It is easy to see how the lines from a particular discipline to philosophy can be somewhat blurred.

It is difficult to truly grasp the enormity of what philosophy can include. Perhaps an appropriate definition may be the study of the most fundamental principles of knowledge and reality. But this explanation does not seem to provide an adequate scope of what the discipline entails. Philosophy touches everything and everyone, every thought and every conception. And it is only through its study and everyday use that we are able to fully understand its extraordinary scale.