The process of writing... write, re-write, start over, re-write and then for me, write it backwards. It makes sense actually. First write down your notes, then above that write your summary of them. Continue working and realize you have a new understanding so put that on top. This all gets wordy in any case, so pound on it to produce your final refined product that is purified from all the ore and trailings of your research, that has to be this finely condensed and purified, single artifact that hopefully has some artistry, that you can use. It sounds like a weapon but it is simply a chapter in my book to describe what historical philosophy, advised by biology, offers humanity as part of a Strategy For A New Human Ecology. Not a weapon, it is a tool forged for building a civilization. That is here: Philosophy. This page is how I got there. It's here for a few purposes. One is as a vanity to show just how long this thing is. Everything I write is meant to be short, but in reality, it never is. Start at the bottom of the list and click on all those headers below to see just how long it really is. Another purpose is for me to keep track of the references I want to use. Another reason for it is for a final review so that I don't miss anything. Maybe it will be of some interest as a summary of philosophy from my point of views. As such I'll try to clean it up a little so it can be followed as well as make sure all the "biologist comments" are attached to topics as appropriate. I put asterisks '*' next to the topics that make up the current content for my book... Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
After a broad examination of philosophy, especially focusing on the West, I really don't see that many topics. Some, like Critical Thinking get resolved easily but some seem to have endless argument about them over time. For example: are humans born with a mind like a blank slate, a Tabular Rasa as John Locke would called it, or are we born with "a priori" knowledge as Immanuel Kant claimed, perhaps knowledge of good and evil. The topic is even the subject of an endless debate in biology called the "nature-nurture" argument. You see it referenced in Carl Jung's "Collective Unconscious". There is a lot of philosophical and biological debate about this one topic over thousands of years. In biology, the answer is obvious if you are like accept that authority. It's the balance described by Conrad Lorentz between genetic behavioral potentials and environmental behavioral releases. It's not one or the other. It's both and the mystery to me is why that's not obvious. Like many topics in philosophy the discussion is approached over and over using different names and arguments related to the views of the time. Also like many topics in philosophy the discussion can be shortened by looking at it in that balance or perhaps in two ways that aren't completely resolved. The human mind can do that and create a useful understanding. In the terms of this book it's about avoiding long arguments and coming up with usable answers to solve the problem of survival.
Philosophy is about thought, truth and belief. Those in turn are used to guide actions which are moral strategies, often of virtue and vice. It is actions that determine survival. The value of pragmatic philosophy has always been that its truth is meant to reflect the real world and allow one to deal with it. Much deviation from the truth leads to mistakes and is dangerous to survival.
Another issue that is visited over and over in philosophy is about Authority, particularly authority about what is truth or how to find it. There seems to be a lot of debate about the pragmatic, observational and the ideal paths to discern truth. Logic, reason and observation are pretty pragmatic. Observation is usually pretty pragmatic. Most other beliefs are fairly idealistic. Eventually, the debate boils down to be about what the authority is. In all of philosophy, perhaps three or four things are considered the authority on what truth is. There was the logic and reason of critical thinking as well as observation. There were some other philosophical schools like the Sophists, Skeptics or Epicureans who had their truths. Scripture such as Christianity and other religions used have been authorities on truth to many people. Ideologies have became common more recently and have held great authority. Most of these authorities also had a component of military or economic power. Violence is a basic authority though not always focused on truth. The logic and reason of critical thinking of the Ancient Greek Philosophers may be the greatest of human philosophies, but it was backed by some serious military as well. There is also the truth that comes from moral instinct but it is older and can be vague. It is though very powerful and it is hard for a person to go against their moral instincts. Moral instinct is part of the what makes the individual moral authority described by the Existentialists that is an informed choice and also what Christianity calls conscience. Plato would have considered this to be part of the moral authority of the Philosopher King, someone that knew philosophy and could make judgments about it guided by moral instincts. Also this moral judgment is under what Locke called freedom, when one gets to choose their own belief. The Existentialists said that a person could choose any authority including themselves. It seems to largely be true. One doesn't even have to accept the logic and reason of critical thinking as an authority. You don't even have to accept your own senses as an authority about what truth is, though there is likely to be great danger going down that path. This essay must describe what authorities seem most likely to lead to survival.
Writing at the end of this examination, I can see that to keep this as brief and short as possible, I should put in what authorities this uses at the beginning. Recall that the purpose of this is to describe how humans can survive in the future and develop. That limits things some. Individuals can and need to use more than one authority. The most basic authority at the foundation of this work is science which is all about the authority of reason, logic, facts and observation with the senses, sometimes aided by machines. The thing is that there are things that logic cannot explain such as the simple question of why go to the effort of living in the first place. Some smart people, such as David Brin have said that this is the problem of autonomous sentient machines. Why would it take any action at all? He also gave the answer: that nature has deeply programmed the will to survive into humans. It is a powerful part of our moral instincts. Notice that while you have heard of "animal survival instinct", you may never have heard of survival instinct in humans. That is because the Christian Church that dominated Western thought for so long said humans had no instincts because that would mean that they were animals instead of creations of the Divine. There is though a well known term for human survival instinct, it has just been sort of taken from us by religion. It is "faith", the instinctive will to survive. Religion claims it is a belief in a God, but faith in general refers to any unsupported belief. The belief in oneself and that one must survive is logically unsupported, but what religions got right is the power of faith. Life can be tough for any animal or plant. Life has been very tough for humans as we have gone from one way of life to another through history. Obviously it has been bloody. Only those with a strong instinct to survive have survived. (Faith is an interesting topic. Suffice to say it is like an emotion that can grow suddenly or slowly. You can sense it in yourself and others like anger or love. You can see it in what they do or what they make because it is it is why they choose right or wrong, not how a person choses right or wrong. Knowing its name makes it easier to recognize in yourself and others. It empowers you the way the having the words for something can do. Taking back the word "faith" is well worth your time because you will then see it in many people and places completely unrelated to religion.) One might say that Darwin was an authority on survival and he did deduce that that is what life is about in biological terms but the point of these books is that we need more strategy than nature has given us. We need human strategies like philosophy has created. Through this examination of philosophy some of the less pragmatic philosophies will be examined for how they relate to survival. They may not be rigidly logical, but then neither is evolution. So once again, this examination of philosophy is oriented around philosophies that will best promote human survival. Nicely, the outcome of that should be pretty good.
The Ancient Greeks had little precedent to site as authority so they pretty much settled on the truths confirmed and revealed by observation or the logic and reason of critical thinking. Their main moral authority was simply what worked to support their civilization as opposed to the rest of the tribal world that they were a small part in had to work with. These were the virtues and vices they described. They knew the primitive, savage world they came from because it was often just outside their city gates. Theirs was a dangerous world without a lot of margin for error and truth was confirmed by survival, mistakes were shown by failure. Virtues were codified in word and archetype, as were sins. This knowledge allowed them to survive and maintain the civilization they depended on.
This was a time when heroes were elevated to become Gods and the basic attribute that made them Gods was their immortality. The meaning of that was more though. Heroes were archetype examples of virtues and warnings about sins. Nietzsche spoke of humans progressing because of envy. Gods were above the diseases, violence, starvation and ignorance that mortals suffered. They were to be envied as Gods as well as imitated for their virtues as heroes. The life of Gods was to be aspired to. This is about the best definition of Gods I could find after a fair amount of examination. One author pointed out that no one today can offer a definitive meaning of current religion. The evidence from pre-Christian history is amazingly ambiguous showing both a widespread contempt for religion such as shown by the common graffiti of the time as well as a reverence for religion as shown by the money of the state that supported religions. In terms of biology, both the lessons Gods represented mattered as did the aspirations God's inspired to overcome humanity's harsh lot. Authority about truth and morality was easy to know then because it was about life and death, civilization and barbarity. Much of humanity wanted to be more than animals. This seems important to keep in mind now when Existentialism has claimed that there is no authority but what a person wants it to be. That may be a reaction to the long Christian era when there was no choice but to accept that the Divine and Scripture was the authority. Yes, choose your authority, but include reason and observation as authorities. They have long been considered the best sources of truth and seem the most universal. Be aware though of what authority has been. It's a short lesson but important for you to know what authority you accept.
I mention the brilliance of the philosophy of balance coming from both Ma'at and Aristotle. It was the main theme of Aristotle's philosophy, the mean between virtue and vice. It really is a more accurate representation of the world or "nature" as the Greeks called it. The problem is that a balance, seeing any issue in more than one way, is more difficult than a simple one sided single perspective. It just is. It also very often just doesn't provides enough understanding. Truth and accuracy matter. A question arises not just of why some people seem incapable of seeing a balance in issues, but also why they seem to insist that there is not one.
I started this examination of philosophy looking for information useful to a successful strategy of survival. What I am seeing at the end is something different, important and surprising. There seem to be two large categories of philosophy in the West, I would call them the pragmatic and the ideological. The first contains balances and the second doesn't. The first seems useful to survival and the second seems a bane to human existence. It is like the comparison of Stoic Philosophy - a collection of useful strategies for living a good life verses Plato's quest for Perfect Forms that morphed into the search for a Perfect God in Catholicism. To all appearances that was not good for humans. It was called the "Dark Ages" for a reason.
Being interested in evolution, I've often wondered if some kind of change happened during that Medieval period called the Dark Ages. It is around 1000 years of humans just reproducing every 20 years or so with the basically warrior ruling class having a great reproductive advantage and the Catholic clergy dictating morality. If you say that this time was dominated by a "search for perfection", which is what drove Catholic belief, could the change have been the development of some immunity to that meme of the search for perfection? The Rationalists of the Enlightenment certainly were pragmatic and sought what truth was by exploration and science rather than proofs for some divine truth they had already decided on. The trouble is that the folks that take one side seem to be rather fanatic compared to folks that have a balanced viewpoint and fanaticism has a motivational power all its own. It isn't people with a balanced viewpoint that drive religious fanaticism.
In philosophy, many people seem to claim that if the philosophy isn't the product of pure reason, it isn't valid... or it's not perfect. In engineering one is told not to let perfect be the enemy of good enough. That is also how evolution works and is also the nature of survival that this is about.
While in the larger scheme of things, fanaticism and ideology are always a problem and often sources of war, in philosophy I see one particular common flavor of fanaticism, that search for perfection that seems to have originated with Plato's Perfect Forms. As mentioned it led to the search for a perfect God. It reminded me of my friend that seemed to be seeking perfection in machine intelligence, distinguished by his insistence that machines had to replace humans. They couldn't co-exist, humans had to go. Like that, it seems that the Existentialist philosophers seem to show it in that they threw out God, God's morality and also they threw out all morality. They could have kept Ancient Greek moral concepts of virtue and vice, but no, like the transhumanists that want to make God like machines, there is no room for the imperfect, humans, morality or philosophy, even if it works just fine. Memes are defined as contagious ideas. Scifi writers have speculated whether there are ideas that can take over a human's mind. The search for perfection seems to be one and for some people it can be hard for get loose from it.
So where are we now? When the Existentialists abandoned morality based on a God, why did they claim there was no morality or right and wrong instead of embracing the old and effective Greek model of virtues and vices?
This will be a shot at synthesizing everything in philosophy I need for the book. Note that it bounces back and forth between Classical Philosophy and philosophy after the end of the dominance of Christianity, perhaps the Enlightenment. It seems that at both those times the important problems are approached but the times were different and different answers were explored.
This book: Strategy For A New Human Ecology is about human survival strategies for surviving long term in an ecology that will follow the tribal ecology humans left when we created the farms and cities of Civilization. Human survival has long been based on our knowledge such as for making hunting weapons, fire, clothing and food preparation. Now we have technology and science as powerful tools but there is a good deal of essential knowledge that science does not reveal. To survive and thrive in this new ecology, humans are going to have to be smarter. Luckily, a lot of that other essential knowledge has been developed as philosophy. This is a discussion of the body of knowledge known as philosophy, in terms of human survival. It covers a few definitions of philosophy as well as relevant content. This is written for brevity, which has benefits and problems. The point is to find concepts in philosophy that can promote or are necessary to long term human survival and development as well as look for hazards to survival. Unluckily though, science is a jealous mistress and for a number of reasons philosophy is not as widely known as it was and should be. Also unluckily, the philosophers were not informed by even the science we have available to us today. While the governing principles of the United States of America (and Civilization long before that) were formed around philosophical thought, there was a long running war between science and religion that culminated in the early 20th century. Events such as the Scopes "Monkey" trial were battles in this conflict. With religion repeatedly "losing", philosophy also lost. The result was the disappearance of philosophy as the great power of science was explored. At the same time, Existential Philosophy was being developed which mostly rejected the existence of God, so religion was no longer the traditional ally of philosophy it had been. Luckily though, philosophy has been so important that is it is part of our culture. So while philosophical education may have waned, philosophical knowledge is commonly alive. This section then is an exploration of philosophy in the context of human survival. This probably adds a few tidbits but is mostly to map existing philosophy to biology in terms of survival. That is the first point. Of the many definitions of Philosophy, perhaps the most common by philosophers is that it is about how humans can live well. This takes a slightly different point of view, it is about how humans can survive. Interestingly they both conclude that it is by living a moral life.
This analysis is biased towards looking for three topics. That would be called "Directed Reasoning" in the philosophical discipline of Logic. The topics are cooperation, ways to reduce violence and increased self awareness. Philosophy to promote and enable cooperation is examined because it seems so important to the function of humans in civilization and as we transition from a tribal to a civilization ecology. It requires cooperation between different peoples, something not needed in the tribal ecology. Ways to reduce violence are common in many philosophies for obvious reasons, but are being examined here particularly because violence is a danger to the created ecology that is civilization. It is our life support system. Looking for philosophies that enable self awareness is because while a bit nebulous it defines a standard of human personal development that seems desirable and is arguably going to be necessary in a more developed ecology such as civilization. It is just a more complicated world and it is going to require a more complicated world view and view of self.
The point of writing this is to get to the end and say "this is what philosophy gives us to work with and this is how these parts might relate to survival". Luckily, I think I will also be able to say "using these ideas, we can make it to the next ecology and maintain it". It also turns out that at the end, it says "and don't do this".
The highest overview of philosophy shows an interesting perspective. In the West, philosophy from its earliest roots follows a path of increasing understanding focused around humanity and the natural world. Society was mostly based around the authority of "kings". The authority of kings at that time came mostly from military success but also partly from economics and Gods. Then suddenly it all shifted to Christianity and understanding everything in the context of the divine. There was some philosophy created, but not a lot. As the Renaissance progressed, philosophy then shifts back to understanding humanity and the natural world independent of God. All through the time of Hobbs, Rousseau, the Rationalists and the Age of Enlightenment until the Existentialists, the interest in philosophy was mostly about how people can govern, organize and understand themselves without relying on the authority of Kings, Gods or any order God imposes. This is similar to what the philosophy before Christianity was about, but with new knowledge and needs.
I believe this takes a different path than most discussions of philosophy. Most seem arranged by chronology and individual. This focuses more on topics, which seems OK because topics represent problems that need to be solved for survival and development. The topics philosophy considers are pretty universal to humans and often don't change much over time. The virtues of the past are the virtues of the present, as are the follies. Arguments of Plato about the nature of thought are addressed by Jung more than two thousand years later. Also even though the topic of morality and ethics extends from one end of history to the other, this intentionally pushes the topic together towards the later part of the discussion. It is the most important part and needs to be informed by as much of philosophy as possible and by recent science before it is discussed much.
There are basically four definitions of philosophy used here. Metaphysics and Aesthetics are mentioned, but lightly. The first definition is the commonest one used by philosophers, that is how to live a good life. That has always meant the good life in moral terms. The second definition is that it was the collection of all human knowledge and understanding. The third definition I will refer to as "Platonic" and is based on the belief that philosophy must be limited to the body of truth that can be proven using reason. This is because "the senses can be fooled". The fourth definition used and that is most relevant here is it is a way of thinking. Greek philosophy was mostly about applying logic and reason to life. The philosophy of Ma'at and Aristotle was about looking for balance. The Epicureans were looking what brought happiness, the Hedonists were looking at what brought pleasure and the Skeptics were looking for truth. Superstition would then be a way of thinking and was explored many times. The same would be true for those oriented around military conquest. This is about a way of thinking about human survival based on human biological nature in the context of a changing ecology. There are may ways to look at the world and humanity.
While philosophy, to many of the early philosophers, was about "living a good life", it's obviously about far more. It often meant just knowledge or wisdom. To some, it is defined as "the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence". That's a little broader and is usually considered the Metaphysics branch of philosophy that tries to find first causes". It tends to be about questions of what is reality or what is a person's purpose or the very common question about the nature of Gods, which might have really been asking many different things. For various reasons I mostly don't consider metaphysics as important in terms of biology and survival. It does actually have some important points that the Existentialists covered and that will be visited later.
A philosophy represents a way of thinking and is why philosophies were called schools of thought. It may be using the logic and reason taught by the Classical Greeks. It might be thinking like a Skeptic or Epicurean. It might be thinking of perfection like Plato did and that was absorbed by the Christian Church. It might be thinking of all things being in a balance such as taught by Ma'at and Aristotle. It might be thinking like a warrior or hunter. It might be Buddhist or Stoic thinking that the world is a nasty place and you can deal with it by being prepared for that and not letting it bother you. Always philosophy has offered understanding. It might be about the nature of virtue, sin, good, evil, law, nature, medicine, government, knowledge, intelligence, wisdom, language or any other topic humans think about and are important to us to one degree or another. The Christian philosophers thought about God's nature and how a Christian should live and think. Thomas Aquinas said we should recognize science as well as scripture. The philosophers of the Enlightenment and afterwards worked on how to think and solve the problems of large complicated societies that could no longer take their authority from a God or Gods. People have thought in terms of machines and electricity driving their lives. Now they are even thinking about how to deal with automation and artificial intelligence. The power of our tools is not to be underestimated. Philosophers know that there is a problem with this. Humans generally do not like changing their way of thinking. ... In a way, all my books are philosophy in that they try to show a way of thinking of human beings in a changing ecology that demands new genetic and behavioral strategies to extend the strategies nature gave us. It is a way of thinking built on all the philosophies that came before but is distinct as a way of thinking that couldn't exist before a knowledge of biology and genetics existed. It is a way of thinking that is becoming more common as our technology can show us the local and world ecology we exist in. It is becoming a more common way of looking at things as we face environmental disasters and need to understand them. Thinking in terms of ecology, our biological nature and our biological requirements way shows potentials and problems we face. The purpose of my books are to show this way of thinking and to organize the many pieces of the biology we have into a single system, using ecology, that will allow us to effectively think that way. The book is also to explain some of what it shows us.
I try to avoid taking a negative view because any troll can do that, but sometimes it is necessary. Philosophy is a powerful tool and it has done some powerful good and also caused some real problems. What I find is that my analysis has to include some critique and a lot of re-framing. It would be easier if that were not the case, but if you think of the things we know today that were not known to the philosophers of the past, especially the things that biology, psychology and cognition have told us about humans, then how could they not contain errors? There are really only a few bad mistakes made. Most of my comments are about missing pieces of biology that complement philosophical beliefs. If they weren't mostly true, they would not have lasted through history. I really do think though that a bit of a biological interpretation of some philosophical positions can be a great addition. We just know more about the world and humans now.
Interestingly I see another way to split philosophy into two types as different as philosophy and religion. It is a split that becomes important after the early Greek Philosophy that described the logic and reason of critical thinking. One type is practical and one seems ideological, to put it nicely. This story starts with Plato's Perfect Forms so you're talking of at least about 400 BCE. It's less about the esoterica of where these perfect forms existed that takes up so may words in philosophy, how we perceive those forms or how every every for we encounter could be related by those perfect forms. It's about a search for perfection. You see it repeatedly , so clearly it is old. You see it again re-interpreted by the Christians as the Divine and later perhaps of interest to the Existentialists. It just seems like a supernatural thread running through
Perhaps for metaphysical reasons, many times philosophers, to this day, claim that real philosophy is only what can be produced by reason because the senses can be fooled. Many other philosophers, such as the Stoics, would disagree. Their type of philosophy is just meant to be useful knowledge about "living the good life" that neither reason or science will ever describe well. Really, since I am working for human survival, that is likely to reveal what I want to find better than reason will. Reason is inherently limited for the same reason that the complexity of computer programs are limited. The symbolic logic that describes them both just gets too big and grows rapidly. Besides, evolution is often not just driven by reason, but also follows chance. I mention this point though because it it is a real argument in philosophy and because touches later on about something important from Plato.
David Hume made the point that we are more influenced by our feelings than by our reason so we therefore need to manage our feelings more than our reason. He believed philosophy needed to learn from common sense.
Another meaning of philosophy has been that it previously filled the role of science as the collection of human knowledge, understanding, wisdom and even the natural sciences. It was all human knowledge before science became a discipline that separated from philosophy based on certain requirements of proof science imposed on itself. It wasn't just about reason and logic. It was about virtue, hopes, follies and sins. It included psychology under the name of "human nature". It described archetypes to chronicle human habits and situations, good and bad, that seem so common to the human condition that they occur over and over. Philosophy included all the libraries of of accumulated human wisdom such as the Maxims of Delphi carved on the walls of the Temple of Apollo to the aphorisms of La Rochefoucauld and that is just referring to the philosophy of the West. It was and is the knowledge and wisdom of humanity. That wisdom is more what I think of as philosophy for living a good life, so that is the kind of philosophy I focus on as most useful to human survival rather than debate about details of logic. I certainly use science as a separate tool of human survival, but in this part is where I try to wrap philosophy in biology and ecology as parts of human survival strategy.
I hope you find this topic as interesting as I did. In writing this book, philosophy will be mostly summarized since that is not what the book is about. It is meant to describe what strategies humans will need to survive and what philosophy says about them for more detail you can see my other writings or explore philosophy on your own. It is a fascinating study that is well worth the time and there are plenty of resources. Should I apologize for my brief treatment of philosophy? No, there's nothing I could do or say to keep everyone happy about this topic so I'll just call it Philosophy according to a Biologist. ...Beginnings are such delicate times.
Philosophy has lost a lot of respect and has even sometimes been regarded as useless. It is not useless. As the world gets more complicated and challenging, the Wisdom of the Ages that is Philosophy will become more important. As humans more and more need to develop as far more than animals, Philosophy becomes more essential. This essay is a review of Philosophies that humans have available as strategies. It is going to be limited by my time, my knowledge, my understanding and my strong desire for a short book. It will also be limited in that it will all be translations. At the same time, that shouldn't be too much of a problem, because these human problems are basically the same now as they were where and when the Philosophies to solve the problems were developed.
I've looked over and over at what Mr. Darwin taught us. It's actually rather simple, if extremely profound. There should be something in it though that provides a philosophical view or perhaps even a natural law. We hear of "survival of the fittest", which Mr Darwin didn't say and is certainly a problematic statement in multiple ways. It sounds like it is talking about an alpha male. Students of ecology are taught early on that since only nature judges "fittest", that all humans that can really say is "survival of the survivors" a rather unhelpful tautology. If there is a natural law in Mr. Darwin's teachings it is that life is about survival. That survival extends from the individual to the species. So the point of this is to instead of looking at philosophy as "how a person can live well", a human strategy, it is to look at it on top of "how a person can survive", nature's strategy. After filtering philosophical knowledge through that biological lens, everything in philosophy seems to take on an added or different aspect. It appears to me that it works. See if you agree. Keep in mind though the meaning in the words of Carl Jung: "The shoe that fits one person pinches another, there is no recipe for living that suits all cases". Keep in mind while reading this that besides individual differences in nature, there are significant hereditary differences related to occupational caste and other things. Good temperament for a herder includes sloth to conserve energy like a predator but then to be able to jump into action to protect their flock. The farmer needs endurance and constant work to get food from nature. It is different and has led to differences in their nature. The differences between crafter, warrior, scribe and priest as as great. There will be commonalities between their strategies such as using logic and reason but there will be large differences as well. Then there is the issue of hybridization to consider. It is far more common now and changes what human nature has traditionally been.
I will say that this has turned out far different than I expected. I thought I would be laying out a review of a body of human knowledge. I had no idea how valuable philosophical knowledge would be to the individual and society. I didn't know of the reasons it was no longer widely respected. I am well read, so many of the concepts of philosophy were familiar. We transmit it through our culture and cultural lore. Studying it was a pleasant eye opener. I once wondered if I could describe a strategy that would allow humans to survive in the next ecology long enough to mature some. I could only rely on brute force systematic analysis to describe or produce it and something like that needs inspiration as well as reason. I was pleasantly surprised to see that much of the strategic knowledge of how humans can survive seemingly already exists. That is expanded on at the ending of this chapter. This starts with an analysis of what philosophy offers us but concludes with my claim that there are a few main points that have a special value to human survival related to the topics in the previous paragraph. This is not going to be easy, so work with me. In return, I'll try to keep it as short as I can. Of course I've been told that all I do then is make it concentrated. In any case, if you seek knowledge, you will have to verify what I am saying for yourself and develop our own understanding of philosophy and what I say. This is just a map or outline that should be enough to guide you on a fairly short route. One of the best known stories in philosophy is "the allegory of the Cave" by Plato. Its lesson is that people very often resist new knowledge, no matter its truth or value. Hopefully, this will be easier because the intent is mostly just to re-frame existing knowledge, much of which is fairly common now because it is part of our cultural knowledge. Then again the point of the genetics section is that we desperately need new genetic strategies and the same thing applies to our behavioral strategies for the same reason. What nature has given us will not be enough or even appropriate for the new ecology we are entering.
[Move this to the summary] Philosophy is not a huge body of knowledge. It is though important and has been hard won.
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---As I have written before, I define morality here as a learned survival strategy. Well, I'm a biologist and that definition does work. Not only that, but it works better than any definition based on reason and logic because morality, like life, is organic and not always a product of logic. This is important through all of this. I said before that philosophy is usually defined as "how to live the good life". That meant to live morally and morality or "ethics" as was perhaps more often used, was what much of philosophy was about. The usual term used was "virtues" and "vices" or "sins". Aristotle's work was all about living the mean between virtue and vice. There are many lists of virtues and vices. They are worth reviewing from Ma'at's list of things you should be able to say you didn't do when you died, to the 147 Maximums carved into the Temple of Apollo at Delphi to the Roman Virtues to the Seven Deadly sins and many more. Some things like pride may show up in lists of both virtues and sins but probably just show a need for balance. A human strategy may be a rule, but more often it is not so simple and requires understanding that results in complicated adaptive responses. That is how instincts work. They are not simple.
I'll add a couple terms here that I think will be useful. Ludwig Wittgenstein said that language is a tool that communicated patterns of intentions beyond data communication. Words both make and restrict our understanding of others, the world and ourselves. Words can help us label and understand elusive aspects of our own experience. Language is a public tool for understanding our private lives. The richness of language is important to our self-knowledge. Books give us tools, the words, to know who we are. I'll add Moral Alternative and Future Unknowns if I may. Moral Alternative is meant to refer to the different moral strategies available to a person. Very often it has been believed that there is one correct or best moral strategy, perhaps because a God usually only had only one written down by their prophet or because a person can usually only use one moral strategy. In a tribal context, that makes sense. A civilization though is something defined by its variety and diversity of people using different strategies and methods to survive. Just consider the differences in strategies needed by the peasant farmer verses the peasant herder. The farmer's challenge was the earth and weather that required problem solving a well as unending effort and endurance. The challenges the herder faced tended to be sudden like a predator threatening their flock or a human challenger trying to steal it. Instead of endurance, they needed to relax to conserve energy but be able to immediately spring into action when needed. The two have not liked each other and their competition may constitute the oldest war in human history. The same can be said about a scribe or crafter and a warrior. The requirements for survival, the Moral Alternative, is very different for each.
Future Unknowns applies to this because the long term outcome of any individual moral strategic alternative is pretty much unknown. The herders of the Bronze Age dominated the world with their military skills. Did they know that year by year they world of the herder would shrink as the farmer, who seemingly could not defend themselves would expand their lands until the herder was left with only the lands too poor to be farmed? The warriors, descended from the herders that dominated the Western World from when Sargon conquered Sumeria until the weapons of the American Civil War diminished there power. Did they know that they would be replaced by the crafters that built machines? Who would have though that the an invention, the computer, would open up so much opportunity to the scribe who had so often made their way through life depending on the good will and fortunes of a patron? This book is less about moral strategies than a strategy of making a new ecology where moral strategies can flourish or diminish and individuals can use different ones that serve them as needed and times change. Businesses seem a good model of this and in a way are like life forms. It seems likely that humans may develop to exist comfortably in artificial habitats in space. You can be that their strategies will be quite different than humans that habitually live on planets (assuming biological segregations). There is no way of knowing what niches and strategies humans will find useful in the future. We just need to be as smart about it as we can be.
This is a current and future lesson. We may or may not be able to even make good guesses but the outcome of any moral alternative we choose. We need to balance between long and short term strategies. Often a parent knows that their strategy will not work for their children or that they will chose a different one. That is a common difference between the tribal life and civilization. Will it remain that way? Jacques Derrida said it is okay to be unsure because life is complex and there are seldom any clear answers. There is an oscillating nature of wisdom and strategy. Often we will not know the outcome of a moral strategy and should be comfortable with that. He used the Greek word Aporia, meaning impasse or puzzlement and said it was a good place to be because it meant we were open to learning. People now may use multiple strategies or have one meant for fall back.
We do not know what the outcome of a moral strategy may be but the moral struggle is not a war to be won. It is the daily battles of all good men and women.
I think this story now starts with the teachings of Ma'at. It might be where known philosophy starts. Records of Maat come from at least 2375 BCE, so Maat or Maʽat refers to the ancient Egyptian concepts of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. Her ideological opposite was Isfet, meaning injustice, chaos, violence or to do evil. This statement, largely from Wikipedia, tells many things about ancient human concepts of morality. The one I would point out here is Balance. If there is anything that seems important to human survival, it is that strategic principle. Interestingly it is also the main principle expounded in perhaps the most famous book of morality: Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle, where he says that one should find the mean between opposing virtues and vices. To repeat, Balance may be the most important moral commandment for survival. It is a common state in nature that describes survival. Balance is a principle more than an action. More importantly though, it is a way of thinking. We call an insane person "unbalanced". All too often ideology, one sided beliefs, is the bane of existence. To see the balance in the things in your life demands an intellectual approach to things. While "to a carpenter every problem is a nail" (and it gets worse for warriors), a person really needs to avoid being a creature of habit and think about things from more than just simple points of view. This is actually a larger aim of philosophy, to promote not just the husbandry of knowledge but to teach the habit and ability to think. It reaches beyond that though. Reading philosophy it becomes clear that a purpose of philosophy that was part of "the good life" related to what looks like a very serious anger management problem in the ancient world. We can see it in the ancient stories and it is repeatedly mentioned by the philosophers. The mental exercise of intellectually examining things also leads to self awareness and self control.
Interestingly, using a principle of balance can also lead to new knowledge. The philosopher that perhaps described this best was Jacques Derrida in his discussion of Deconstruction. It is not though just the issue he pointed out, of our failure to recognize the value of lesser things and oppositions or that both sides needed each other. It is also that knowledge can be expanded just be looking for the opposite of what you do know.
---There were other principles of good and evil such as truth, order, harmony, law, and justice. Most philosophies and religions teach these principles and they are usually referred to as Virtues. For the opposites, such as injustice, chaos, dishonesty, murder, etc., I will refer to Sins. One other thing I really like about Ma'at was that she didn't so much tell you what you were supposed to do as she had 42 Negative Confessions. At the end of a person's life, they were supposed to be able to recite these things saying basically "I have not done" this, such as "I have not slain men and women" or "I have not stolen grain". I guess those qualify as sins.
Note here that some ethical systems said virtue or sin was what you believed or thought. I would guess that this would include thinking in terms of balance, using reason or following an example. Most thinkers though and particularly Aristotle, said that it was how you act rather than thought. He said that virtue had to be a habit and practice. If you think about it, this is important. To people that follow a philosophy, it is a very active thing. One asks "what should I do" and looks for the answer in what they have been taught. I use the term "morality", because I was looking for survival strategies. A term used fairly interchangeably with "morality" is "ethics". Both are about right and wrong. The difference is supposed to be that ethics are external guidelines that could be from a profession or a religion, while morals are an individual's own principles. The gold standard has always been Aristotle's book "Nicomachean Ethics", so the word "ethics" is often preferred. In this sense then, ethics guide morals.
It seems appropriate to mention that Christianity often holds that it is a sin to even think immoral thoughts. That's not how the mind or understanding works. It is far more complicated and disorderly than that. The modern neurological understanding includes that "multi-mind" model. There is more than one person in there and if you don't believe it, just see what happens when you get surprised sometime and you are put on the defensive. Afterward, you are likely to wonder just who that person was speaking from your mouth. Our beliefs are not consistent and can be contradictory. (I suspect that is a requirement of consciousness.) Even the Catholic Church recognized the "crisis of faith" when a Godly priest or other person, simply lost their faith. That incredibly powerful life long belief in God can be lost and may not be regained.
None of this is feasible. Nothing I am describing is widely possible. Most humans are just not up to the standard of philosophers. There are major discussions in philosophy of the limits and failings of humanity and that while there are some that aspire to the ideals of the philosophers, far more don't know they exist or even care. Stretch your mind a bit though and recall, we are not talking about humanity as you are used to it. You can believe or not in what you want but there is no middle ground in terms of genetics or even ecology. Either natural selection will rule us or we will husband our genes with technology. We must manage our genes and we will know the horrors of genetic load to spur us on to do it. Some few want to embrace change and become the "transhuman". Most people don't. I have far too much caution and conservatism from studying survival to want to embrace change, perhaps the greatest risk of all, usually that is. We must change now though and you need to read this not only in terms of philosophy and biology but in terms of humans who know that their genetic destiny must be controlled by human thought as well as the direction of nature. That will change us morally. Then it will soon change our nature. What few could achieve in the past, will be the domain of all based on improved genetic potentials, more developed culture, the educational potentials of technology and improved moral understanding. A philosophical maturity and wisdom that the Ancient Greeks dreamed of as belonging to a certain class, is achievable and it will not be some great challenge even for the common person of a future not far off. You must keep that in mind here. People like that will need powerful tools of knowledge and will be able to use them. It was not I who made it so. It is what we have come from and already done.
It's time to sort of jump forward to Classical Greek philosophy, what is often called "Philosophy" which shows how solidly the basics of philosophy are and have been for a long time. That "philosophy" sort of means Socrates (or what Plato claimed Socrates said) and then Aristotle. This is more about milieu. This is when rhetoric or persuasive speaking was developed as appropriate to a "democracy" like Athens or perhaps more modern ones. In response to that, the logic and reason of critical thinking was explored to discern truth. All through time since and especially now, critical thinking to discern truth has been an invaluable tool of survival. It will certainly be a critically important skill in the future, especially as we see how good technology is at generating deception as well as truth. The logic and reasoning skills of critical thinking are learned by argument and debate, but perhaps even more by reading as the author tells you how their character recognizes a problem, solves it, realizes their mistakes, updates their data and reasoning and then solves it again. Literature tells stories, but more importantly it teaches thinking, especially logic and reason. Using computers requires the use of symbolic logic, a primary tool of critical thinking. These ancient people wanted to live a better life through moral development which required truth. They knew oh so well how close to animals they were. They only had to look outside the city gates. They had Gods that were great warriors, but they also had Gods of wisdom and morals. They aspired too be wise and moral just as much they aspired to be more than animals. The purity of logic and reason just amazed them and made them feel that they might be able to touch God by following that path. They knew it made them more than just animals. They were passionate about it and enforced it in their society to the point of sometimes judging their own children to fail their standard. Like the rites of passage common to all tribes, they knew that their survival depended on the strength and commitment of every member of their society. Many societies demanded both physical health and moral righteousness from their citizens. Those without it were not accepted into the society. It was not unique to the Greeks. Later, the Roman censors judged the moral fitness of citizens as harshly as in any theocracy.
In trying to stay focused so I keep skipping a thought from Georg Friedrich Hegel, but I think I need to mention it here. He said that every period of time had ideas and they could get lost. Ideas get left behind in history and one must understand them there. For example: to understand community, you might have to go back to ancient Greece. Or the middle Ages could teach us what honor is and its role that no other time could. When I read about Classical Greek Philosophy I get amazed how different, how vital the people seem. This makes sense as it was a challenging time with many dangers and challenges bring out moral strengths. Philosophy contained most of the high quality knowledge they had available. It gave them knowledge that no previous man had known. They took Philosophy very seriously, not just out of intellectual pride, but as a means to being moral or "living a good life". They were moral and they believed in morality. They had to use it to survive as more than animals. We have more sources of knowledge and live in a far less dangerous time than they did. A huge part of that morality included self-control. You repeatedly encounter that lack of self-control was a major problem. That could be very dangerous and would relate to the self-awareness topic I mentioned.
The next topic to mention would be beauty. The Greeks apparently thought that the pursuit of beauty was the greatest objective in life. They were referring to more than just physical beauty, though that was very important to them including the belief that a beautiful body indicated a beautiful mind, but they also meant much more. It was also applied to craftsmanship and art. Their word for beauty also translated as "good" or "of fine quality" and had a broader meaning than mere physical or material beauty. It was a standard and that is the importance here. In terms of human survival, having high standards is going to be very important and so we need the same standard the Greeks set, we need to pursue and practice beauty. This applies to mind, body, morals, art, craft, profession and basically all endeavors. It should not be obsessive though either. It should be practiced in balance or it will make one miserable. The standard of beauty will though be a basic requirement in the future. It is the value of the beauty, mystery and complexity of the universe, nature, art, humanity, knowledge and morality.
I need to comment on what looks like about the biggest mistake in human history. Do not underestimate the consequence of this, though maybe there is also another side to it I don't know. That would be Plato's Perfect Forms. Most of his work, written as dialogs of Socrates, are quite reasonable and valuable. Some are pretty universally correct and some quite dated now, but there is great value in their their consideration. You aren't going to answer any question without starting by asking it and that was a great success of his, defining the problems to be solved including about politics, law, language, rhetoric, truth, poetry, virtue, friendship, love, wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, justice, creation and other ... philosophical... topics. He did though love his Forms ... and believed they were perfect. If you know the story, much of his beliefs were about, if I may paste from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: The world that appears to our senses is in some way defective and filled with error, but there is a more real and perfect realm, populated by entities (called "forms" or "ideas") that are eternal, changeless... I wouldn't think this so bad if I haven't had to deal with it and know about what it leads to.
A meme is known as a contagious idea, such as getting a song stuck in your head. It is characterized by completeness because if it cannot stand alone, it is hard to transmit. At the same time it fits with other memes because that is a major way that we model our world in our minds. An ethical system such as described by Aristotle is a more complicated meme, but it is a standalone idea that fits into a larger mental world. We all know that a meme, perhaps a song or advertising jingle, can get "stuck in your head". It has been hypothesized that there might be a meme that could take over your thoughts like a computer virus. Speculative books like Snow Crash and Mazeway have considered this possibility. Who knows, but I do think there is one already and you should know about it because it has caused an enormous amount of trouble and confusion. It is the search for perfection. In some people it can take over the mind like a computer trying to multiply by infinity. The important example of this was Plato's search for Perfect Forms. In a way, it seems reasonable but needs to be informed by reality. A common engineering maxim is "do not let perfect be the enemy of good enough". It is how evolution works as well. There are a lot of compromises. Everyone is going to encounter the meme of perfection at some time, but most people can pull out of the "infinite loop" it causes. Some seeming cannot and it can relate to the people around them. It seems though that some individuals and perhaps even ethnic groups are prone to getting stuck in thinking about perfection. They can't escape the meme. Oh, they are the fanatic and unfortunately may have the power of a fanatic. That is how the Medieval Catholic Church developed their idea of God. I would say that they caught the meme from Plato and it's why they asked questions like "how many angels could dance on the head of a pin" or "could God make a rock so large that God couldn't move it". I would tend to say that this meme is a bad thing, but I must acknowledge that it may have critically contributed to human development... that balance thing. Don't think this is dead history. This is very current. You likely know someone running that meme through their mind and you certainly know of the ideas it produces. My friend believes in the Kurzweil Singularity, a meme that an intelligent machine will inevitably create a greater machine and that will create a greater machine and so on. The tell though that they are seeking perfection is that they say that also inevitably machines will replace humans because they are so superior. Say what? There are a number of reasons to question both of those ideas and also their connection, but the important part is not the machines or the potentials of AI. The important thing is the "replace humans part". That is because while we all know that humans are not perfect, the "search for perfection meme" can't tolerate that imperfection. They start looking for some kind of perfect God. This is important for a person to know internally as a potential danger to themselves, as an external potential problem and certainly as an irritant as you struggle to make sense out of some modern arguments, but it could also become an existential threat. Be conscious of the search for perfection and keep an eye on it because it naturally distorts balance in anything it infects.
One primary foundation of philosophy is Truth... capitalized. It is why philosophy relies so much on reason and logic. It's hard to lie with logic... if the listener has been taught how it is done. There are two other enemies of truth. They are Ideology and Cults. Both depend on distorting the truth. Ideology usually at least serves a purpose for a group of people. A cult usually just serves a small leadership. Both rely on distorting the truth. The techniques are well known. There are seven standard methods of distorting logic, but more often the deception is simply that the untruth is repeated over and over and truth is held at bay and called a lie. Those with different beliefs are called enemies. The thing is that you have to be very careful with truth, lies, and ideology because they can serve survival functions. It's like egocentricity and ethnocentricity. It may not be true that you or your people are particularly special, but the belief that they are helps one survive. Every society has a set of beliefs that are false, but pretty much agreed upon. Most people even know they are false or dubious but conveniently ignore it. If the human mind wasn't able to, then human society probably couldn't work. That doesn't mean that the lies don't hold danger. The Monarchy represented an ideology based around the divine right of kings to rule as decreed by God. It was convenient for the ruling class and helped maintain social order, but ultimately failed as a system. The problem is that the ideology will linger and interferes with the functioning of the new system. The United States is supposed to be a democratic meritocracy, but there is a lot of effort to convince citizens that there is a natural social order, either ordained by God or by nature, that must be protected. Is it a functional system? It's hard to say, but the problem is that it retards change and adaptation. Right now the United States is in a sort of cold civil war between conservative and progressive factions. The Conservatives are promoting a well tested system that benefits vested interests and used to be a foundation for a fairly functional social system. The Progressives are promoting a system that is far more aligned with common morality, but is not well developed and has known problems. The problem is that while the conservative system oriented around a caste and classed society has benefits, it will not work in the future. Changes in machines, education, culture communication and genetics mean that a class society is not going to work to organize a society any more than did the Czar's Monarchy of Russia. Then the common social lies that benefited society, endanger it.
There seems to be a slightly worse problem with cults. This goes against the common position of genetic science, but then epigenetics are very new field so it might be correct. The fastest evolution occurs in traits related to environment because that changes the most. All mammals have pretty much the same body layout of bones, nerves, muscles and organs, but their appearance can be vastly different. The standard story is that evolution operates too slow to change a human much over even thousands of years. Then again though, the nature - nurture debate is not very old at all and one position of it held that genes could not substantially effect a person's behavior. Recent developments in genetic technology show that genes can have a strong influence on human behavior. If there is any trait that interacts with the environment and then should be a good candidate for rapid adaptation, it would be behavior. The first question is whether epigentic controls can effect behavior significantly? Logically it seems likely. The second question is how long does it take? The third question then is if you had an ideology enforced to the degree that a cult enforces beliefs, could you program those beliefs into their behaviors? If so, then you are limiting the individuals ability to adapt to change. Lies can be risky to survival. Truth is generally much safer.
While this discussion of Greek philosophical thought is actually missing a great deal, it it time to move on to Christian Philosophy, returning to Greek thought further on.
During the 4th and 5th century of Roman Empire, Augustine served as Bishop in Africa to uneducated and poor congregations. He criticized Rome for belief that humans could help themselves and the belief that human life could be perfected. He also said that there could be no just social order such as a meritocracy. He believed a good human world could only be achieved in heaven, not on earth. He came up with the idea of Original Sin. Our sinful nature gives rise to the desire to dominate which is evident in the brutal blinkered, merciless way we treat others. We cannot properly love because of our egoism and pride. Our powers of reason and understanding are fragile. We are driven by lust. We fail to understand ourselves, chase phantoms and have anxieties. He said that the philosophers were wrong to think that happiness could be achieved by the person's own efforts. Our problem is that we are human and there is nothing a human can do to make their life work right. There can be no justice. Pessimism makes it easier to live with our imperfection. Failure should not be blamed. Apparently he didn't much like Greek thought but Christian thought was a bit distorted by that trying to achieve that perfection thing.
This is quite interesting to me in terms of survival, because he has an important point, humans must deal with and even compensate for their flaws. I attribute it more to poor adaptation to our current ecology rather than the sin of Adam, but we do have a very animal background. This wasn't at all unique to him, the Greeks considered it, but we need to keep this in mind occasionally. Egoism and pride are very dangerous and as humans develop more and accomplish greater things, they will become more dangerous. Right or wrong, it is good to keep his warnings in mind. We are not well adapted to the next ecology and had better remember it. At minimum we have a lot of the animal still in us. We certainly have tribal instincts. It has been said that "those that the Gods would destroy, first they make mad". That madness is arrogance. I repeatedly and from different points of view warn against its danger and describe the need for humility if we want to survive. We are more than animals, but we need to keep in mind that we still have older things in our nature.
The other Christian philosopher to mention would be Thomas Aquinas who is remembered for reconciling faith and unquestioning belief with reason, thereby saving Western civilization from turning its back on science as well as earlier Greek and Roman wisdom. He taught that any Europeans, not just Christians could have access to great truths whenever they made use of God's greatest gift to human beings, reason. He universalized intelligence across all places and times and humanity. The world could be explored through reason and not just faith. He said this was because there was both Secular Natural Law and Religious Eternal Law. Humans can figure out Natural laws like technology and science. Moral principles like the Golden Rule could be Natural Laws. Prophetic revelations and Angels were God operating through Eternal Laws. Most useful knowledge was in Secular Natural Law. It explained Islam's early success due to internationalism and its failure as the Caliphate rejected reason in favor of the literal word of God. He worked to prevent this in the West. If you are a student of human knowledge, the value and importance of this is obvious. It is intelligence and knowledge that will get us to the next ecology (along with morality, but that's another part). Without the philosophy taught by Thomas Aquinas, there would probably be no science in the West.
The next step in philosophy came after the Renaissance and would probably be best described as Rationalism. It was as the Catholic Church lost authority over thinking. People had changed since the time of Rome's power. Population had grown and the Black Plague had shaken things up. The Crusades brought consciousness of a larger world and new ideas from it. Large commercial fortunes that represented new powers were driving exploration and entertaining new ideas. People were questioning God and many were rejecting human authority that claimed their power and right to leadership came from God. Protestantism became its own power. The first real philosophical results of this related to politics as thinkers tried to figure out who deserved power and how society could find a new order if the old order was gone. The separation between church and state started here. The second main philosophical thread that came later was about humans: what are they and what should they do with themselves? This was the age of reason. It was a time of logic, reason and a young but vibrant science. Voltaire and Rousseau were thought leaders of the time that wanted to replace the authority of religion with the authority of reason as before Christianity had replaced the authority of Greek Philosophy. At this point, the philosophers probably wouldn't be considered Atheists like the Existentialists, but more like Deists that believed that if God existed, he didn't watch over human affairs and supernaturally manipulate destiny. They kept God out of their reasoning. There was a spectrum between believers and atheists, but most were somewhere in the middle. They were far more interested in reason, science, self determination, liberty and justice.
The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the Church and paved the way for the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Enlightenment included a range of ideas centered on the sovereignty of reason and the evidence of the senses as the primary sources of knowledge and advanced ideals such as liberty, progress, toleration, fraternity, constitutional government and separation of church and state.
The Enlightenment was marked by an emphasis on the scientific method and reductionism, along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy—an attitude captured by Immanuel Kant's essay Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment, where the phrase Sapere aude (Dare to know) can be found.
The philosophical movement was led by Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who argued for a society based upon reason as in ancient Greece rather than faith and Catholic doctrine, for a new civil order based on natural law, and for science based on experiments and observation.
The Enlightenment was a late 17th- and 18th-century intellectual movement emphasizing reason, individualism, skepticism, and science. Enlightenment thinking helped give rise to deism, which is the belief that God exists, but does not interact supernaturally with the universe.
Enlightenment thinkers wanted to improve human conditions on earth rather than concern themselves with religion and the afterlife. These thinkers valued reason, science, religious tolerance, and what they called “natural rights”—life, liberty, and property.
Hobbs was one of the first and he said that leadership enforced by threat was legitimate because the alternative was total chaos.
There are a few concepts that need to be mentioned here because they are what was argued about the most. A lot of it was variations on the familiar modern nature nurture debate. Do we have inherited knowledge or does it all come externally? Plato wrote about knowledge written in the soul. Rene Descartes - "I think therefore I am" - was a Rationalist that never relied on God for answers believed our own mind contained the answers we need which could be accessed by introspection and logic. Immanuel Kant described "a priori" knowledge as knowledge we had before experience. John Locke used the term "tabular rasa" or blank book. Carl Jung wrote of the Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. It has been a popular subject and is still being developed. It is pretty clear that the human mind doesn't start as a blank slate. It is primed to learn certain things like language. We certainly have instincts, but good luck describing them well. The best description, if not complete, probably comes from Conrad Lorenz in his description of "Behavioral Releases" that says there is an interaction between events in the environment that release instinctive behavioral responses that are hard wired in. A "fight or flight " response naturally arises in response to a threat in the environment. The response is unlikely to occur without the threat. But then what about when it is in a dream? (This may be touched on more later.)
Another issue that was debated and is still debated is about human nature and society before any known civilization. Some claimed it was brutal but in searching for an ideal society after the Enlightenment, some claimed it was an idealic peaceful garden and that humanity had become brutal as we developed modern society.
A porpoise is comfortable in its ecology. It is well adapted and can easily meet its needs. Usually it is not stressed.
The entire point of the Existentialists was basically an extension of the end of the authority of Christianity. They then pointed out that there is no authority. It seems true. You don't even have to accept reason, logic or your own senses as true let alone science. This examination accepts the authority of the purpose and requirements of human survival. It is to allow humans to progress to the next "stable" ecology where we can survive and develop for an indeterminate period of time. In contrast, an initial examination of existentialist thought shows a tendency to accept nihilism, that not only is there no authority but there is also no value to anything. The existentialist thinkers seemed to have reveled in depression. A deeper look shows that some of the existentialists chose to accept other values such as religion and even the ancient virtues. The nihilists seemed to consistently decide to accept that the pleasures of life made it worth while to continue to live, something of an Epicurean attitude.
If one accepts the authority of the purpose and requirements of human survival as this suggests, what does that mean? In a sense, that is the key issue. It one does accept the goal of human survival, what are the authorities... or philosophies, one is choosing? There is the ancient and powerful survival instinct but that is a bit fickle. While we have a powerful sex drive which naturally leads to children which releases nurturing family behaviors, we don't have strong instincts to have children. Birth control is going to mean that many people are going to choose not to have children. Natural selection though is going to eventually make the desire to have children a more common thing, but what is going to matter even more is the "authority" the person chooses. Because of the genetic problem, having children will almost have to be a well considered choice. At the same time, having children is far from the only expression of accepting survival as a person's moral authority. I've personally met a number of people in the clergy that didn't want to have a family but wanted to serve people to the best they could in the most moral way they could. Many and probably most people function quite well accepting that their survival instinct includes humanity. That number is likely to increase as the ecology develops more complex interconnections and there are less niches for the isolated individual. We do have what is commonly called a spiritual instinct, part of which makes us feel a connectedness to others. Many people do act on it. Aside from our survival instinct will simply be making the choice to accept human survival as the authority. It might be out of logic for a few reasons including the fulfillment that comes from having a family. For some it will be based on a respect for their parents and ancestors or simply themselves. Some will do it because they love children. There will be many reasons that people choose to accept human survival as their moral goal. Some will do it out of hope. Like the simple instinct to have children, now that it is a choice, the instinctual basis of making that broader choice about the value of human survival will become more common and stronger in the genes. So what authority then should be accepted if that is the goal?
Consider that accepting the value and authority of reason and logic as a given. Survival without using those tools seems very chancy and they are the foundation of the powerful and essential tool that is science. Keep in mind that logic and reason are not everything and complexity means they are limited the way a computer program is. An authority that led to the development of logic and reason was the aspiration of the ancients to be more than the animals and more than the primitive tribal peoples that were the great majority in their world. Unlike later humans that were told that they were divine, they knew that they were animals and they wanted to be more. They aspired to be Gods or at least God like. It's probably what Nietzsche was referring to as "envy" but could be called aspiration. Gods then had few universal attributes other than immortality, but they were not as subject to ignorance, fate, disease, disaster and war as humans were.
It seems a good time to take advantage of something from Nietzsche. It's probably because he and the other Existentialist philosophers addressed problems that are very current. The Rationalists described a lot about new forms of government to follow the monarchies that claimed authority from God. They explained that authority had to come from people. It was the Existentialists that tackled the problem of what humans face when God is not the important factor in their lives that he was during the Medieval period and perhaps before. Actually that's only part of the reason I chose a comment from Nietzsche. It is because he allows me to describe what I see as the human of the future, able to thrive in the new ecology we are developing. It is related to his discussion of the "superman". Nietzsche described two types of superman. The first would be familiar. They would be physically and mentally healthy with good intelligence. What defined them as a superman really should be considered a psychological or moral state. He believed in Self Overcoming in which a person becomes a superman who rises above their circumstances and difficulties to embrace whatever life throws at them. He wanted us to become who we really are. Those exist. We have made enough progress that some few rare people can become both self aware and knowledgeable enough to be comfortable in the current human ecology. The objective is for everyone to be that way. That is to be adapted to the New Ecology the way a porpoise is adapted to theirs. Even those rare people could be better adapted, but they are important. They can serve as examples.
The next authority to consider would be the philosophical schools or "libraries". Some philosophical thought claims that the only real philosophy is what can be deduced and proven logically, because the senses can lie to you. I don't ascribe to that belief myself but it does have value. The problem with it is that modern computer programming shows the limitation of logic because of rapidly increasing complexity. Still, philosophy does contain libraries of logical solutions much like computer libraries contain logical software solutions so that there is no need to "re-invent the wheel". There is also a great body of knowledge about how to "live a good life" in libraries that are not about logical proofs. Instead they are observational with reason and logic applied. These would include the 147 Maxims of Delphi that are carved on the walls of the Temple of Apollo. If you think about it, there are many many collections of these from many cultures, religions and other sources. Like other parts of philosophy, they are well worth learning but of all of these the ones that might be wisest to pay attention to were what have been known as virtues and sins (by many names). The philosopher La Rochefoucauld (1613) referred to these short maxims as aphorisms and said it should deliver its punch in less than 3 seconds which tells you something about how people think and express themselves. He wrote about 504 of them. Much of the valuable human knowledge is expressed in collections of maxims or aphorisms and should be reviewed by anyone. The Ten Commandments is such a collection. Different people, at different times and situations in their lives, will find value in them and they are valuable truths that should be among everyone's references.
Speculating about how intelligent a person might need to be to be comfortably adapted to this future ecology I describe, I see a few possible descriptions. It might be the ability to master the technology we are developing. It might be an ability to develop a balanced and advanced knowledge of art, science, technology, history and culture while having social skills. There are a lot of possible descriptions worth consideration as an exercise.
Thinking back to the topic of philosophical or moral authority, there is another concept that gets repeated a few times and seems relevant now. That was Plato's Guardians or Philosopher Kings who was a ruler who possesses a love of wisdom, as well as intelligence, reliability, and a willingness to live a simple life. If I may interpret a bit, they had a combination of intelligence, wisdom or knowledge and moral nature. It's hard to say if they would have made good rulers as Plato claimed, but they do represent something else. Perhaps that could be considered the archetype of how intelligent a person will need to be in the future. More than anything else they will have to mastered enough philosophical knowledge and other wisdoms to be able to understand the moral demands of civilization so that they can understand it, understand its value and help to maintain it. Oh, whoops. That is what this book is about but it also touches something else related to the most modern philosophies.
So here we are. Where is that and what does it tell us about where we will be in the future? I read an interesting claim that we are now all philosophically either Consequentialists or Utilitarians. I would say that a lot of us are anyway. You might quite reasonably ask what that means. Consequentialism the belief that the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences.
Utilitarianism is one of the best known and most influential moral theories. Like other forms of consequentialism, its core idea is that whether actions are morally right or wrong depends on their effects. More specifically, the only effects of actions that are relevant are the good and bad results that they produce.
There are two types of utilitarians--rule utilitarians and act utilitarians--and both strive to maximize the utility of actions for the good of humankind. They only differ in the way they approach this task. Rule utilitarians believe that a set of rules or moral codes should be used to standardize behaviors.
Freud, Jung ... really, just a few notes missing medicine and leadership, Inspiration, Arthur C. Clark Childhood's End The Overlord Karellen, the "Supervisor for Earth," who speaks directly only to Rikki Stormgren, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, tells Stormgren that the Overlords will reveal themselves in 50 years, when humanity will have become used to their presence. Overmind, an interstellar Hive Mind that dominates the Milky Way Galaxy in the novel Childhood's End by Arthur C.
The question is “what is a superman”? I’ve been studying Nietzsche lately and he had his concept of a Superman… or two concepts. In a way, I see that as the outcome of what I am working for. I see a genetic disaster coming because of the changes humans have made. Parents are older, which means more mutations, mostly bad ones. What we call human progress including medicine and smaller families, is actually a reduction in Natural Selection which is supposed to remove harmful mutations. We will get a very dangerous genetic load unless we do something to replace natural selection. We could do that ethically and economically using Pre-implantation Artificial Selection. Using that we could remove bad mutations (broken genes); increase the frequency of “good” genes by ensuring that children inherited the best genes of both of their parents; and select for stable hybrids because that is how humans have always progressed both genetically and culturally. Everyone could have “super” health, beauty and brains. I describe this in my book **Genetics For A New Human Ecology** (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544900996). Now as Nietzsche pointed out though, superman really should be considered a psychological state. I am currently writing another book that considers it from that point of view - **Strategy For A New Human Ecology**. What does a human need to know to survive in the new ecology, civilization, that we have created and are developing to replace the tribal world we left when we created farms and cities? We will need experiential knowledge - ours, others, literature, art, and science. We will need philosophical knowledge and Critical Thinking skills to be able to discern the truth. We need to work to develop our self-awareness. We will need to be able to use our moral instincts and moral knowledge. Now note that Nietzsche spoke of two kinds of superman, the one I’ve described a bit here that is advanced more than us as we are more advanced than humans in the past and also Superman that were past nature and humanity. I say that we need to create a new ecology where we can survive, adapt and develop long term. The people of that society that have husbanded their genes and cultivated their knowledge and mental abilities would be the first kind of superman. I want us all to become superman so that we can thrive in the new ecology. The way I describe that second Superman is to say that they would be what that first society could decide to achieve when it had matured some in wisdom. * He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. Necessity is not an established fact, but an interpretation. All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth. All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses. That rejects most philosophical tradition It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies. In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Morality is the herd-instinct in the individual. Fear is the mother of morality. What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man. There are no eternal facts, as there are no absolute truths. The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything. Friedrich Nietzsche * NIETZSCHE ON: The Superman - Nietzsche’s concept of the Superman is one of the most exciting and yet weird aspects of his thought. What did he really mean by this unusual word? Thus Spoke Zarathustra. He was thinking in psychological terms rather than physical as is so common. He didn't think evolution was finished with humans. How might people be more advanced to us as we are more advanced to humans of the past. He considered two types of superman, those that were human superman and those that were past nature and humanity. Zarathustra's task was to speculate on what that "superman" would be like. He didn't see it as an issue of great intellect. What is the ideal kind of human being? He identified the person he most admired and had the best approach to life and examined their qualities. The person he most thought like a superman was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but also considered Napoleon, Montaigne, Caesar, and Voltaire. A superman is going to have wonderful and sometimes unexpected Characteristics. Renaissnace man? *** ***Crash course Philosophy. Playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtNgK6MZucdYldNkMybYIHKR ***https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaDvRdLMkHs Existentialism - ... (also Kierkagaard) What gives your life purpose.. Everyone wants a sense of meaning. Some use religion, justice, beauty. Existentialists say some of these can give your life meaning, but none of them do. Plato and Aristotle taught Essentialism - everything has an essence that makes it what it is. It was the standard view until the late 19th century, and is still accepted by some. Nietzsche believed in Nihilism, that there is no meaning to life. Jean-Paul Sarte asked if we are born without purpose and must find our own. So instead of being born with an essence, we were born and had to find our essence by how we live. We have to find out who we are. We have no predetermined purpose or path. Existentialism is not atheism. Many are atheists, but some are theists. God did not provide meaning. They call it the "absurd", the search for answers in an answer less world. Crying for meaning where there is none. There are no absolutes to abide by, no cosmic justice, no fairness, no order, no rules. Existentialism really caught on during and after the horrors of WWII. It did not look like a meaningful world. (Nietzsche) It gave a terrifying abundance of freedom. If there are no guidelines for action, then each of us is forced to design our own moral code, to invent a morality to live by. Sarte said we are condemned to be free. He said there was no authority. ... So live Authentically, you must give meaning to your life. If you refuse to accept the absurd and accept someone else's standards or religion, etc. you have "bad faith." @6:30 - A moral choice is often not defined by right and wrong, but by the person's decision. That made it Authentically. Alert Camus said the meaning of life was what prevents you from killing yourself. Your life has meaning if you choose the meaning. This operates on a global scale. If you want justice in the world, the world must make it so. *** I'm a biologist and have to ask "why can't the meaning of life be what it has always been, survival... in the evolutionary sense"? It's not magical, but it's a bit magical. There is a great and old purpose there. It offers beauty, great challenge, and great potential. It really offers the only potential. Purpose is no longer arbitrary and neither is morality. It does leave great freedom, but it also describes right and wrong, though not in as strict a sense as religion has, but in a sense appropriate to the complicated modern world. What makes the purpose given to us by nature any less real than a purpose given to us by a God? Hey, if you want a God, people are even talking about the possibility of making one. *** Philosophy is a dialectic. Someone says something and someone responds... maybe thousands of years later. What Is Philosophy? - Intro to the Philosophy of the Human Person - PHILO-notes Daily Whiteboard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRG-rV8hhpU This is really good! For more Daily Whiteboard editions from PHILO-notes, SUBSCRIBE NOW! https://www.youtube.com/c/PHILOnotes For more discussions about Philosophy, VISIT OUR WEBSITE: https://philonotes.com/index.php/2017/12/24/doing-philosophy/ https://www.facebook.com/philonotes.jeff/ Philosophy Documentation Center https://www.pdcnet.org/wp/about/contact/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_philosophy_journals
Philosophy is practical knowledge about living and dying well. Epicurus wanted to know what made people happy. He said three things were needed. 1. Be with friends. Regularity of contact. 2. Working alone in small groups helping each other or the world. A sense of making a difference. Also, doing what you want. 3. A feeling of calm. Finding calm on your own including, reading, meditating, etc. 3 mistakes - relationships, wealth (due to sacrifices), luxury Plato - Sought fulfillment - Wrote 36 dialogs with Socrates starring in them. 1. Think more. Take time to do it. Do not follow popular opinion. So, Know Yourself. Examine your beliefs and know your feelings. 2. Let your lover change you because true love is admiration. They have qualities you lack. Each person should make the other a better version of themselves. 3. Decode the message of beauty. Beautiful objects whisper truths about the good life. We sense qualities in them that we need in our lives. Ugliness also teaches. 4. Reform Society. ... To create fulfilled society. He didn't care about celebrities (and status). He wanted "guardians that would be moral models.(public service, simple habits, modesty, experience, ) He said that kings needed to be philosophers. https://www.mcgoodwin.net/pages/otherbooks/plato.html - Plato's Dialogs Allegory on the Cave - About the usefulness of Philosophy. To compare the effect of education or its lack on a person.They see only shadows on the wall. Then they leave the cave and see reality. Philosophy and education brings one closer to reality. When he goes back to tell the others in the cave about the reality he saw, they attack him and eventually want to kill him. Truth tellers are not welcomed by those that don't like to think and accept the phantoms that are most of what our world is made of. ... Don't tell people they are wrong... The solution is to spread educational by Socratic examination. Make a postulate of a problem, say you don't know the solution. Ask the other person what they think. They will usually respond confidently, maybe over confidently. Discuss it with them and stay on topic. It may take a lot of time. It assumes that people can work out their own mistakes and reach a greater truth. (Aristotle wrote Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics. The Nicomachean Ethics Quotes - https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2919427 Image result for aristotle eudemian ethics summary In The Eudemian Ethics, Aristotle explores the factors that make life worth living. He considers the role of happiness, and what happiness consists of, and he analyzes various aspects that contribute to it: human agency, the relation between action and virtue, and the concept of virtue itself. Books IV, V, and VI of the Eudemian Ethics, for example, are identical to Books V, VI, and VII of the Nicomachean Ethics. Wow! Eudemian Ethics barely shows up in Google and goes right to Nicomachean Ethics.) Aristotle searched for truth, particularly in the natural world and what led to success. He was interested in what made a human or society succeed. He said there were 11 virtues that were needed for happiness or living the Good Life as he called it. With them he listed vices and said that virtues were positioned between two vices. Aristotle was all about moderation and balance. The virtues he listed were Courage, Temperance, Liberality, Magnificence, Magnanimity, Pride, Patience, Wittiness, Friendliness,Truthfulness, and Modesty. Being good at conversation was also very importance. He said goodness was a result of habit. Also acknowledged that things go wrong. He developed the art of Rhetoric. Aristotle on Happiness and Purpose of life. Aristotle used the word "ergon" which in Greek means work, job, product or function. It's mostly used in the context of artifacts or skills such as the purpose of a hammer or a house. He also spoke of "arete" which means excellence, particularly a corresponding excellence of ergon. (Vocation) He said that the purpose of human life must be different from that of plants and animals (other life) as he needs and purposes of plants and animals differ. So the capability to use reason and language are most of what define us as humans. So they are what give meaning o human life. Aristotle defined humans as Rational Animals. Philosophy is the highest purpose of humans because it is the exercise of reason and thought... just as the Gods engage in and simply for the sake of human life. (Maybe it's because it's the best we can do.) Therefore doing philosophy was the ultimate end of human existence. Stoics - because life is difficult. Bad things happen, so be prepared so they don't come as a surprise. It limits anxiety. Should look at things darkly and not work for hope, because it will still be OK and you will get through it. Material things are not needed for happiness and could be lost in any moment. Anger is stupid. It happens when hope encounters bad reality. Things you expect don't bother you. Parts of life are not as important as the whole. Seneca - Born in 4 BC, Seneca also known as "Seneca The Younger" was a Roman stoic philosopher. True Happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence on the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that so is, wants nothing. We all sorely complain of the shortness of time, and yet we have so much more than we know what to do with. Our lives are either spent in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do. We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end to them. A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials. Every night before going to sleep, we must ask ourselves: what weakness did I overcome today? What virtue did I acquire? Life is never incomplete it it is an honorable one. At whatever point you leave life, if you leave it in the right way, it is whole. We suffer more in the imagination than in reality. You want to live but do yuou know how to live? You are scared of dying but tell me, is the kind of life you lead really any different to being dead? The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever that may be. Man is not effected by events but by the view he takes of them. As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters. Sometimes even to live is an act of courage. Until we have begun to go without them. we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We've been using them not because we needed them, but because we had them. He suffers more than necessary, who suffers before it is necessary. Hang onto your youthful enthusiasms. You'll be able to use them better when you are older. It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy - Written by an Italian while in prison in 523 after the collapse of the Roman Empire. It became the standard book of philosophy in Europe and was translated into many languages. It is much of how Classical philosophy made it to the West. When imprisoned, he wrote philosophy to console himself. Much of his ideas were Stoic. Humans cannot rely on anything that can be destroyed by fortune. A person must have an inner citadel where their happiness resides and cannot be taken from them. Fortune cannot take reasoning which gives one access to beauty, mystery and complexity of the universe. True philosophers rise above their immediate circumstance. This was the last outcry of classical philosophy's Stoic branch before being subsumed by Christianity and then eventually by science.. Augustine - 4th and 5th century of Roman Empire. Served as Bishop in Africa to uneducated and poor congregations. He criticized Rome for belief in (1)Earthly Happiness, Pride and Power (Self Help) the belief that human life could be perfected and (2) A Just Social Order - Meritocracy, wealth based on virtue. Augustine dissected both of these as fallacies. He came up with the idea of Original Sin. Our sinful nature gives rise to what he called Libido Dominadi, the desire to dominate which is evident in the brutal blinkered, merciless way we treat others. We cannot properly love because of our egoism and pride. Our powers of reason and understanding are fragile. We are driven by lust. We fail to understand ourselves, chase phantoms and have anxieties. He said that the philosophers were wrong to think that happiness could be achieved by the person's own efforts. Our problem is that we are human and there is nothing a human can do to make their life work right. The odds are just against us. Pessimism takes off some of the pressure to as we come to term with our imperfection. The human conditions sucks. There can be no justice. He distinguished between the City of Men and the City of God. The latter was an ideal paradise where good would finally dominate. It was a society of Christ that humans could never achieve. Failure should not be blamed. Thomas Aquinus - Thomas Aquinas deserves to be remembered for reconciling faith with reason, thereby saving Western civilisation from turning its back on science and Greek and Roman wisdom. How to reconcile religion with science and faith with mindless belief. He found understanding where reason belongs in human life. He taught that any Europeans, not just Christians could have access to great truths whenever they made use of God's greatest gift to human beings, reason. He universalized intelligence across all places and times and humanity. The world could be explored through reason and not just faith. He said this was because of Secular Natural Law and Religious Eternal Law. we can figure out Natural laws like technology and science. Moral principles like the Golden Rule could be Natural Laws. Prophetic revelations and Angels were God operating through Eternal Laws. Most useful knowledge was in Secular Natural Law. It explained Islam's early success due to internationalism and its failure as the Caliphate rejected reason in favor of the literal word of God. He worked to prevent this in the West. Michel De Montaigne - 1533 - Mocked the arrogance of intellectuals. We weren't divine. We are arrogant and we are fragile. The meek are quite as morally good as persons as are the most learned. Accept human weakness and it is better dealt with. Intellect was out of touch and needed to be practical. Esoteric books were simply flawed. "Difficulty is a coin that the learned conjure with so as not to reveal the vanity of their studies". "All can achieve wise ideas if we don't believe we are unsuited to the task". Morality applies to the plain life as much as the rich. You don't need to know Greek. La Rochefoucauld - 1613 - Wrote a short book, 60 pages, (he had bad luck in life) a compendium of acerbic, melancholy observations about the human condition. They were timely, wise and consoling lessons about our morally confused and wildly distracted age. His were maxims or aphorisms - pithy statement that deftly captures a dark insight into the human soul, reminding us of a wise and uncomfortable truth. An aphorism should deliver its punch in less than 3 seconds. He perfected 504 aphorisms and tweaked them depending on how the listeners reacted. They covered all manner of psychological topics: Envy, vanity, love and ambition were common themes. They challenge our normally flattering view of ourselves. His point included that how a wise idea is delivered can count as much as the wisdom of the idea itself. His aphorisms were the equivalent of the succinctness of Twitter. Blaise Pascal- 1623 - Pessimistic, but cheering. He was brilliant and explored science but at 36 his bad health forced him to retire from science. He wrote a series of brilliant, intensely pessimistic series of aphorisms in defense of Christian belief called the Pensees. It is what he is best remembered for. He spoke about the misery of life and assumed it would force people to turn to God. These days most people read the first part and not the second. ... He hated man. (Seems like a search for perfection.) "Hope is why we become miserable and disappointed". Rene Descartes - 17th Century - I think therefore I am - A fierce Rationalist that never relied on God for answers. Wrote "Rules For The Direction of the Mind". Followed introspection and logic. He believed our own mind contained the answers we need. One had to divide questions into small parts by way of questions - Method of Doubts. Reason and experience mattered more than authority and tradition. I think therefore I am was a proof of his existence and he believed that that truth could lead him to others. He liked quiet thinking. He wrote about the passions because he thought the philosophers had done it badly. Wonder, love, Hatred, Desire, Joy and Sadness. Their combinations made all others. He didn't believe in vanquishing them as some of the ancient philosophers did, but recognizing them in oneself and understanding their impact on oneself. He believed that philosophy was to help people understand themselves and work through emotional problems and irrationalities. Barahc Spinoza - 17th Century a Jew in Amsterdam. tried to re-invent religion from superstition to reason, but still offer the benefits. He had an excellent Jewish education, but embraced other views. There is no God, etc... it is just imagination and superstition, but he was not an atheist. His God was nature or the universe and reason and truth. He is not an individual. Everything is in God. He was really down on Prayer. Humans must understand how the universe works. He liked the Stoics who said one must follow circumstance and necessity. The best way to know God is not to read holy books, but to understand nature, life and the universe. We can achieve the -divine- only be understanding what we should be doing in nature. He made a distinction between two ways of looking at life. See it from our limited view or globally and eternally. We will always be divided between the two. Our intelligence can perceive the eternal totality. To be ethical were must rise above our personal and local concerns. We must align our will with that of the universe. We then have complacency of spirit. He got excommunicated. His work disappeared but was re-discovered by Hagel and others later on. It is a lesson in philosophy. His ideas were brilliant but no on was interested in them. Most people respond to emotion, belief, fer, tradition and like rituals more than reason. John Locke's (1632) greatness as a philosopher is based on his theories on childhood, his work on religious toleration and his concept of the rights of citizens. He spoke about how we should educate our children, who should rule over us, and what we should do about people that have different religious ideas than us. He studied medicine but met the dashing and highly ambitious Greek politician Ashley Cooper who was at Oxford looking for a cure for his liver. He asked Locke to join his household. Once part of Cooper's household, Loch became part of the great scientific, educational, religious and political debates of the day. He helped Coopers liver problem which got him lifelong gratitude. The Renaissance had started the questioning of religion. It could get out of hand. Some argued for crackdown by government but in his essay Toleration Locke advocated toleration based on three points: Earthly judges, the state in particular, and human beings in general cannot dependably evaluate the truth claims of competing religious standpoints. Secondly, even if they could, enforcing a single 'true religion" would never work because you can't be compelled into belief through violence. Thirdly coercing religious conformity leads to far more social disorder than allowing diversity. Locke argued that religion was a personal choice and no part of government. He pretty much convinced the nations of Europe to accept religious tolerance. He published a second book, Two Treatises of Government, in 1689 about who should rule a country and on what legitimate bases. Previously, the political authority had often derived from God, but that belief was declining. Hobbes had said that the totalitarian power of kings was justified by their ability to keep order and prevent chaos that had existed before governments in what he called the state of nature. Due to the darkness Hobbes used to described nature, he set the expectations for rulers quite low. Any order was better and legitimate. Locke' first Treatise attacked the idea that kings got their authority from God and his second treatise took on Hobbes ideas about the state of nature. Locke agreed with Hobbes that without government, there would have been a state of nature. But he disagreed what that place would have been like. He said it would have been broadly peaceful, therefore people had not fearfully surrendered their rights. In fact they possessed a range of natural rights that no ruler could take away. He said that people had consented to cede some of their freedom but only in so far as it preserved their rights. They couldn't give up these rights because that would defeat the purpose of becoming part of society in the first place. The ruled were within their rights to overthrow a bad ruler and replace them. His thoughts greatly effected the American Declaration of Independence. His book, Thoughts concerning Education, said we start out with minds that are blank, Tabular rasa as opposed to the current thought that the mind was pre-filled with all kinds of thought s including abut ethics and government. He said everything came from experience or internal reflection. Education was absolutely crucial to what a person became. As children, we are very vulnerable to ideas. "The little and almost insensible impressions on our tender infancies have very important and lasting consequences". The association of ideas made when young were more important than those made later because they are the foundation of our selves. Never let a child be taught superstitions. He hated the idea of children learning "useless subjects" like Latin, Greek, music or poetry. He said they should learn science, ethics, business and psychology. (According to Darwinian theory, it would not have been peaceful before government.) David Hume - 1711 Edinburgh - He made the point that we are more influenced by our feelings than by our reason. Reason is the slave of passions. We reason from rather than to our convictions. We find an idea nice or threatening and decide based on that if it is true or false. We therefore need to manage our feelings more than our reason. He believed in the education of the passions to teach good emotions such a hope and love rather than hate or fear. If you want to change beliefs, skip reason and use sympathy, good example, re-assurance, art and encouragement. Only later and to a few should you try to make a case with facts and logic. Since most beliefs are actually emotion driven and irrational, beliefs should be judged by their usefulness rather than their rationality. He was a skeptic that valued common sense and values the wisdom of the unlearned and ordinary. (Culture?). He didn't think much of classical philosophy. He believed philosophy needed to learn from common sense. Emanual Kant - 1724 - Prussia - Wanted to work out how humans could be good and kind outside the blandishments of traditional religions. Very religious family but was not religious. He did strongly believe in the value and function of religion. He believed humans were highly corruptible and so wanted to replace religious authority with the authority of reason. He said religions were wrong, but that they did fulfill the need of teaching ethical behavior. He came up with the "categorical imperative". It was a new way of stating do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It was a handy way of testing the morality of an action ... that you were the victim of. It is to get us to see our behaviors in objective terms. He said that it could be stated as Act so as to treat people always as an end in themselves, never as a means. It was meant as a replacement for the Christian injunction of universal love - the command to 'love one's neighbor". It is the voice of our rational self. He extended this into politics saying that government was supposed to provide liberty. He thought though that the ordinary definition of freedom or liberty should not be thought of in libertarian terms as the ability to just do what we want. We are only free when we act within our own best natures. We are slaves whenever we are under the rule of our passions or the passions of others. "A free will and a will under moral laws are one and the same". A free state is one that allows the rational in us all. He published a book on Art and Beauty saying that they were the cornerstone of his philosophy. Life involved a constant struggle between our better selves and our passions, between duty and pleasure. Beauty is a reminder and goad of our better selves, unlike so much else in our lives. Beauty takes us out of our narrow, selfish concerns but in a charming delightful way that is not stern or demanding. The beauty of nature is continual, quiet, and insistent reminder of our common universal being. A pretty flower is just as attractive to the tired farm worker as to the prince. Beauty embodies ethical ideas. We needed art to promote ethics. Overall, his project was to create a rational method to do what religions had imperfectly done, help us to be good. Edmund Burke - 18th Century - on the sublime. A Philosophical Enquiry into the origin of our ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). Sublime now means really nice. He said that beauty made us humble or insignificant, but it put things in perspective. The problems of our lives aren't that significant. Egoism and pride are diminished. It restores perspective. Tolerance is increased. You think of it first in nature or art, but the key to it is that it is important to build in to everyday life. Religion did it every weekend in architecture and music. We need a new way to encounter the sublime regularly. Arthur Shopenhauer - 19th Century German - The World as Will and Representation -was deeply influenced by Buddhist thought (first one) and is in many ways the West’s answer to it: he too tells us to reign in our desires and adopt a consolingly pessimistic attitude to our struggles. The world was created by a demon to create suffering and Buddha showed how to avoid this misery. He said our most powerful forces was the "Will to Life" that forced us to cling to life. It is blind and dumb and powerful. It makes us focus most on sex. It makes us do weird things including fall in love. He said it was connected to the most important thing in life, having children. Why all the fuss about love? Because it is about the constitution of the human race in times to come. The intellect is isolated from this will because it would not choose to have children and we would choose someone different to marry than we do if we thought about it. We end up with who our Will To Life decides will produce "balanced children". We're not completely balanced and the Will to Live will push us towards those that would balance out out unbalances. So we always select the wrong person for us. We wouldn't even like them. (He mentions allegory to status.) He says we have an inborn error that we believe that we are born to be happy. We are not. He said that rare sages could recognize their desires and override them (self awareness?) They would never marry and ignore status. In Buddhism would be a monk. Or we could immerse ourselves in art to mirror our unhappy frenzied efforts created by the Will To Life. We can then step back and look at life without illusion. Georg Friedrich Hegel - born in Germany 1770 - academically successful. Horrible writer. He hurt philosophy because he intentionally made it obscure. He did have valuable things to say: He believed that strange and alien bits of history have much to teach us. He believed story and civilisation do not move in a straight line, so important ideas and attitudes get left behind. Important parts of ourselves can be found in history. Europeans did not see their roots in the primitive past. He said that every period of time had ideas and they could get lost. Say... to understand community, you might have to go back to ancient Greece. (Epicurean communities?) Or the middle Ages could teach us what honor is and its role that no other time could. There is wisdom at every stage. Those ideas must be rescued to solve current problems. Learn from ideas you dislike. Learn from ideas we disagree with or that seem alien. We must ask what is hidden in ideas we don't like that make them appeal to others. Progress is messy. We lurch from one extreme to another. It takes repeated experiments with extremes to reach the good balance that he called the Dialectic. he said that the complex path of progress was necessary. Art has a purpose. We need them so that important insights can become powerful and helpful in our lives. Art is a sensuous presentation of ideas. Just knowing ideas may leave us cold. It's not about new ideas, but to take good familiar ideas we already think we know and make them stick more imaginatively in our minds. We need new institutions. he took a positive view of institutions and of the power they can wield to make good ideas active, correct and effective. Institutions allow for the scale and time needed for big projects to become effective in the world. New ideas should lead to new institutions. Growth requires the clash of divergent ideas. Knowing that can help us manage the discord and chaos. It can tell us where we are in history. Søren Kierkegaard is generally considered to have been the first existentialist philosopher, though he did not use the term existentialism. He proposed that each individual—not society or religion—is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely, or "authentically". Friedrich Nietzsche - born in 1844 in a quiet village in the eastern part of Germany, where – for generations – his forefathers had been pastors. He did exceptionally well at school and university; and so excelled at ancient Greek (a very prestigious subject, at the time) that he was made a professor at the University of Basel when still only in his mid-twenties…” He didn't like that and moved to the Swiss Alps. Nietzsche believed that the central task of philosophy was to teach us to 'become who we are'. His philosophy was full of heroism and grandeur. He believed in Self Overcoming in which a person becomes a superman who rises above their circumstances and difficulties to embrace whatever life throws at them. He wanted us to become who we really are. His thoughts centered around four main recommendations: 1. Own up to envy. Don't hide it from yourself as Christianity taught. Use it s a guide to what we really want. Know our desires and fight for them. Mourn failure with dignity. 2. Don't be Christian. He disliked that Christianity protected people from their envy. Christianity made a virtue of cowardice - slave morality. He called them "the herd". (Interesting, the balance to Christian ideals.) 3. Never drink alcohol. He said that in European history had been two great narcotics: alcohol and Christianity. He hated that both numbed pain and made things seem alright, sapping our will to change our lives to the better. 4. God is dead. He considered religious beliefs false, but very beneficial. (Morality?) They helped us cope with the problems of life. They should be replaced with culture and art, philosophy, literature... (I don't think he saw their moral function.) He was annoyed though that education wasn't teaching philosophy as a guide to life. (Not everyone is capable of that.) He thought that every age had its own crisis and it was the job of the philosopher to solve these. He believed that the crisis of the 19th century was the impact of mass democracy and atheism. Nietzsche on: ENVY - Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the great theorists of envy: he believed that envy is everywhere and that most of us don't even realise how much we feel it and the way it powers our behaviour. Having a good relationship with our envious tendencies was for Nietzsche a mark of maturity and wisdom. NIETZSCHE ON: Amor Fati - Friedrich Nietzsche had a particular fondness for a concept called (in Latin) 'amor fati', a Stoic acceptance of one's fate and a commitment to embrace reality, in all its beauty and pain. NIETZSCHE ON: The Superman - Nietzsche’s concept of the Superman is one of the most exciting and yet weird aspects of his thought. What did he really mean by this unusual word? Thus Spoke Zarathustra. He was thinking in psychological terms rather than physical as is so common. He didn't think evolution was finished with humans. How might people be more advanced to us as we are more advanced to humans of the past. He considered two types of superman, those that were human superman and those that were past nature and humanity. Zarathustra's task was to speculate on what that "superman" would be like. He didn't see it as an issue of great intellect. What is the ideal kind of human being? He identified the person he most admired and had the best approach to life and examined their qualities. The person he most thought like a superman was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but also considered Napoleon, Montaigne, Caesar, and Voltaire. A superman is going to have wonderful and sometimes unexpected Characteristics. The are independent minded and make their own values. They can be strategically selfish and accept that they might hurt people in their pursuit of greatness. Greatness for them will be the reform of humanity towards Pagen values, the values of Goethe. Supermen don't resent the success of others and accept that suffering is a necessary component of good things. They understand that they are hard to understand and so may be lonely. They will be gentle towards the weak out of consciousness of their own strength. They will be a little bit wicked about sex compared to conventional standards. They will not be humble, but instead delight in their own abilities. They will be interested in the practical application of culture to raise the mentality of society. He thought this list might be surprising. He thought this superman would be deeply compassionate, egalitarian, uninterested in rivalry, and perhaps interested in making breakthroughs in science. He was though also arguing that being great might involve qualities that were a bit disturbing and also that greatness means the salvation of mankind through culture. The word superman is useful to get us to think of what we would like to evolve into. We should have a sense of what we would be if we were a super version of ourselves. That would help us refine our ambitions. Nietzsche believed that the "death of God" would lead to social upheaval that would lead to the deaths of millions. *** He had a breakdown that he never recovered from, perhaps from syphilis, but perhaps from his life long theme of overcoming. Overcoming is a will to power, the most important drive. So truth is an expression of power. (Status?) To him power was about perceptions. So power was overcoming or transcending our normal values. It's what his work was about for the individual and humanity. He called it the Ubermenche or over man. He thought that man must be overcome. We are currently closer to apes than the ubermenche. He was trying to challenge people to overcome limitations and become a new form of life, focused on moral values. This is because our moral values are questioned the least. We needed to go beyond our moral habits. WEe needed to see beyond the commonest moral themes, good and evil "The Genealogy of Morals" was to look the ontogeny of our morals. The point of the book ws that our morals were more complicated, uncertain and questionable than we consider. He spoke about the moral regime of the Ancient Greeks called Arete - meaning good, excellence, goodness. Meant posessing many abilities so that one could exercise one's will to power freely according to one's desire. The deepest expression was in creating new ways of life. Slaves had a slave morality based on resentment because their will to power was inhibited. So virtue came from restraining their power and evil came from exercising it. That was basically Christian morality... which were slaves of the Romans. Christianity hems people in. Is humility masking lack of ability. ... and so on... He said Christianity was slavish and self negating. It's about escaping life to reach heaven. ... It said one must live the current life most fully... -Martin Heidegger - an often incomprehensible but deeply valuable German philosopher who wanted us to lead more authentic lives. He wrote "Being and Time" that told about the meaning of our lives, the illness of our times and the routes to freedom. He liked the rural forest and had no use for technology or pop culture. He said: We have forgotten to notice that we are alive. We are just not in touch with our being except at odd moments.When our mind is quite we may notice the strangeness of everything: why things exist as they do, why here rather than there, why the world is like it is. What we are running away from is the opposite of Being, what he called The Nothing. We have forgotten that all being is connected.Most of the time our jobs and daily routines make us egoist and focused. We treat others and nature as means rather than ends.Sometimes though, when out for a walk perhaps, we sense what he called the Unity of being. That everything is in existence right now and are fundamentally united by the basic fact of our common being.These moments should make us kinder and more generous in appreciation of the brief time that remains to us before The Nothing claims us. We forget to be free and live for ourselves. We are thrown into this life in a narrow millieus, surrounded by rigid attitudes, archaic prejudices and practical necessities not of our own making. He wants us to overcome this 'thrownness' by understanding it. We need to grasp our psychological, social and professional provincialism and then rise above it making the journey from inauthenticity to authenticity. (Sounds like self-awareness.) We will in essence, start to live for ourselves. Usually we fail at this and follow the they-self and follow the Chatter we hear in the media. We escape this when we focus on our own upcoming death. Only when we realize that other people cannot save us from The Nothing that we will stop living for them or worrying so much about what they might think. We then stop caring to waste our time and lives trying to impress people that never liked us in the first place. He said we should spend more time in graveyards. In ways we already know this stuff, but his weird writing prose can help us actually think about it and do it. We know in our hearts that we should become more conscious of day to day and that we owe it to ourselves to escape the Chatter for the sake of authenticity. Jean-Paul Sartre - 1905 - Paris - explored the problems and joys of being fundamentally free. Existentialism, the belief system with which he is associated, considers the anguish of freedom. Jean-Paul Sartre made thinking and philosophy glamorous. He is principally famous for his 1943 book Being and Nothingness. It was pretty hard to understand. Existentialism was built around a number of key insights: 1. Things are weirder than we think. (Huh? It's called life and reality.) 2. We are free. The oddness of life means that there re many possibilities and things don't have to be the way they are. 3. We shouldn't live in bad faith. When we deny our freedom and accept that thing must be one way or another. 4. We are free to dismantle capitalism. One thing that makes people feel not free is money. "I'd do this or that if I didn't have to worry about money". "Capitalism is a great machine that doesn't exist in reality. It makes us tell ourselves we have to work a certain number of hours, buy a particular product or service and so on." We could live other ways. It's why he was interested in Marxism. "Things don't have to be the way they are". (This can simply be left out.) Albert Camus mid 20th Century Algeria. His thought was constantly rich and provocative (and he dressed unusually well). (This could relate to simple survival instinct.) His 1942 novel The Outsider, set in Algiers, is what he is best known for. His hero, Meursault, cannot accept any of the standard answers for why things are the way they are. He sees hypocrisy and sentimentality everywhere and can't overlook it. He can't accept the normal explanations such of education, the work place relationships or the mechanisms of government. He stands outside normal bourgeois life with it's pinched morality and narrow concerns for money and family. "Meursault doesn't play the game. he refuses to lie. He says what he is, refuses to hide his feelings and so society immediately feels threatened". ... It's about the indifference of the universe to humanity? We are free enough to know we are in a cage, but not free enough to escape it. (Well, it's just a survival method of people doing the best they can.) He also wrote the essay "The Myth of Sisyphus". He said that the only real question of philosophy is whether or not we should commit suicide. "Judging whether life is or is not worth living, that is a fundamental question of philosophy". (Maybe morality instead.) If you do think about it as philosophers do, you quickly realize that life has no meaning. This comes from that life's meaning used to come from God, but if God is not the force he was, then that meaning is gone. That meant that it was senseless (My interpretation of Darwin might or might not help him.) This was the crisis of the existentialists. He didn't become hopeless or a nihilist. He argued that we have to live with the knowledge that our efforts will be mostly futile. That our lives will soon be forgotten, our species irredeemably corrupt and violent and yet we should endure none the less. (Yes, it is what we are made for, but it is also a decision. Maybe it's not suicide, but it is certainly the effort of raising a family. It is that if not that, we work to help the society and species.) We are like the GReek figure Sisyphus ordained to roll a boulder up a mountain and it endlessly falls back. (The moral struggle is not won, but is battles fought every day by good men and women.) We have to cope as well as we can at whatever we have to do, we have to acknowledge the absurd background to existence and then triumph over the constant possibility of hopelessness. He said that "one must imagine Sisyphus happy". His writing is a reminder of the reasons life can be worth enduring, writing abut the value of relationships, nature, the summer, food and friendship. He writes a guide of why to live. (He was good looking, dressed well, good at sports, had girl friends and wives, and was successful in many ways. He posed for Vogue magazine. He didn't live in the bleak dangerous world that created Stoic and Buddhist philosophies.) Once you realize life is absurd, you're on the verge of despair perhaps, but also compelled to live life more intensely. Accordingly he grew committed to and deeply serious about the pleasures of ordinary life. He saw his philosophy as "a lucid invitation to live and create in the very midst of the desert". He praised the simple pleasures of sunshine, kissing or dancing. (A good reason for universal health, beauty and brains.) He liked team spirit and fraternity. He said what he knows of morality, he owed to sports. He spoke of the beauty of the body and of dance.((Must examine Pagan.)) He said that perhaps life was not nearly as bad as hoping for another higher life and eluding the quiet grandeur of this one. He was a working man by nature and background. His favorite philosopher was another down to earth French philosopher, Montaigne. Ludwig Wittgenstein Vienna 1889 - was a philosopher obsessed with the difficulties of language, who wanted to help us find a way out of some of the muddles we get into with words. He stuttered and had trouble speaking. He became a recluse in Norway. He wrote a short, beautiful, baffling work called Tractatus Logica-Philosophicus. He asked "how do human beings manage to communicate to one another"? He said that words trigger pictures in our minds of how things are in the world. He said that words make pictures of facts. "We are swapping pictures between us. The trouble is that we aren't good at making pictures in other's minds. Communication typically goes wrong. It can be hard to detect miscommunication. We tend to be terse in our statements, which isn't enough to communicate an idea to another person's mind. We also read meaning into other's words that aren't there and aren't intended. In 1929 he went back to Cambridge and published a second book posthumously - Philosophical Investigations. He decided that language was about more than pictures. It was a tool that communicated patterns of intentions. Words achieved objectives beyond data communication. If we don't know the person's intentions, then we aren't going to get their message either. A message may be emotional and another person takes it as a statement of facts. Words restrict our understanding of others, the world and ourselves. Words can help us label and understand elusive aspects of our own experience. Language is a public tool for understanding our private lives. The richness of language is important to our self-knowledge. Books give us tools to know who we are. (Books aiding self awareness by giving us words to understand ourselves.) Michel Foucault was a philosophical historian who questioned many of our assumptions about how much better the world is today compared with the past. When he looked at the treatment of the mad, at the medical profession and at sexuality, he didn't see the progress that's routinely assumed. “Michel Foucault (1926-1984) was a French 20th-century philosopher and historian who spent his career forensically critiquing the power of the modern bourgeois capitalist state, including its police, law courts, prisons, doctors and psychiatrists. His goal was to work out nothing less than how power worked and then to change it in the direction of a Marxist-anarchist utopia. Though he spent most of his life in libraries and seminar rooms, he was a committed revolutionary figure, who met with enormous popularity in elite Parisian intellectual circles (Jean Paul Sartre admired him deeply) and still maintains a wide following among young people studying at university in the prosperous corners of the world…” He found Neietzsche's essay "Untimely Meditations" that said history should not be studied in a disinterested way but instead studied for ideas, concepts and examples which can help us to lead a better life in our own times. The essay liberated Foucault intellectually. He decided to become a philosophical historian who could look at the past to solve problems of the current time. He published "Madness and Civilization". He attacked the idea that the treatment of mental illness became more humane over time to the modern world. His next book was similar and attacked the idea that medical treatment became more humane over time to the modern world. He conceded that the medicines and treatments were better, but he felt that the professional doctor dehumanized the patient into their organs, not a person. He wrote "Discipline and Punish" on state punishment and as usual said that modern prisons and policies really weren't more humane as it appears because it all happens in private. One could no longer see and therefore resist state power. He wrote the same thing about sex. ... "We are constantly told that things re fantastic in the present sand horrible in the past, but it isn't so." We should break away from our optimistic smugness about now and go back to see how things were done in history which might be superior. he considered history to be a storehouse of good ideas. We needed to see that both sides had weakness and merit. Jacques Derrida 1930 - was a key philosopher of modern times who made pioneering explorations into the subtexts of our key concepts. Much of his writing seems to be something of a response to the bigotry he experienced in life. He wrote 40 obtuse, subtle books including about Deconstruction, Aporia and Logocentrism. Deconstruction means dismantling our excessive loyalty to any idea and seeing aspects of the truth that might lie buried in its opposite. (Balance?) He said that Western Philosophy respected speech as authentic over writing which was considered a transcript of what people might say. A second report missing the truth of conversation. The bigger idea was what came from this, that when examined, almost all our thinking is riddled with falsehoods of authority such as reading over speech, reason over passion, masculinity over femininity, men over women, sight over touch, profit over generosity, high culture over low culture, equality over inequality. This privilege showed a failure to recognize the value of these lesser things and oppositions and that both sides needed each other. It is okay to be confused because life is complex and there are seldom any clear answers. Looking for clear answers was at the root of many of our problems (search for perfection). He wanted to cure of us of our love of crude simplicity and make us comfortable with the permanently oscillating nature of wisdom. We should never rush to a conclusion. ... Avoid extremes. He used the Greek word Aporia, meaning impasse or puzzlement. Aporia was a state we should be proud to be in. It showed adulthood of the mind. He criticized a way of thinking he called Logocentrism, an over hasty naive devotion to reason, logic and clear definition, underpinned by a faith in language as the natural best way to communicate. He thought that many of the most important ways we feel could never be expressed in words spoken or written. An example he used was the term "IQ" which is often thought to mean so much but really misses so much. It caste doubt on much of the modern intellectual view. His best result was to caste doubt on certain excessive attitudes, especially a devotion to reason and clear cut answers. He accepted that some things were superior to others but he also understood how we unwittingly dismiss things, people and ideas when their opposites bask in perhaps undeserved esteem. We need modesty to explore the value in those ideas we too easily overlook. Perhaps we should be on the other side of any debate. He expounded Deconstruction to allow seeing alternative perspectives of an idea. Deconstruction convincingly reveals the arbitrariness, convention or imperfection of certain utilized concepts. He said a problem was that even our language naturally communicated ideas poorly. The problem with always looking for different interpretations is that you almost never take the author at their word. It’s like, what’s the point of literature if there’s no single objective meaning readers across time and space can get out of it to apply to their lives? Emil Cioran 1911- is Romania’s most famous thinker: his darkly pessimistic philosophy is a perfect antidote to the sentimental cheeriness of our times. He was a great moral philosopher. His Romania background gave him a brooding, Romantic, fatalistic temperament. His father, an Eastern Orthodox priest made him write about themes of religion, sainthood and the dangers and joys of atheism. His thinking was bleak and nihilistic. He said that writing was an alternative to shooting himself. When depressed, he makes us feel less alone. "Only optomists commit suicide, optimists that no longer succeed at being optimists. The others, having no reason to live, why would they have any to die. He saw civilization as a distraction from the ultimate meaningless of existence. (Sort of an anti-Stoic.) We suffer by being in an optimistic age. We are all sadder than we like to admit. He allowed all of us to express our communal unhappiness. *** Alan Watts - Does Life Have Meaning? Many feel that life has no meaning. So often religion speaks of God's purpose, but it never clarifies what it was. People get a feeling of purpose when they are part of a group enterprise or part of a plan. Why does fellowship or a plan bring satisfaction? What do our biological urges really point towards. Is it just about going on and on or is it more. In religion, the meaning is God itself, an intelligence and the love between man and God. What is the content of that love that we yearn for. We want something that is not transitory. We want something "significant". What does "significant" mean? Sometimes music can give us that feeling because profound music can be significant. In a contemplative calm moment we find significance in things we usually don't see significance in like a photographer can find significance in an ordinary scene. Maybe it is a state of mind that we are overlooking significance or ordinary things. What is going on now is what is really what is significant. It is not a destination, but what is being done now - like dance. (Maybe that is part of it, but not all.) The purpose of life is nonsense, but we still consider that nonsense significant. it is not chaos. It has rhythm and complexity and a kind of artistry. (Egocentricity, Ethnocentricity, Family/Clan centricity, Hmanism/Human centricity, Earth centricity.Is that the essence of morality and human purpose? The point of the individual cannot only be survival. Survival is something significant in the moment even without leading to something else. Is the purpose of humans that we were created at the pleasure of God? Scripture suggests so. Carl Jung. Founder of analytic psychiatry. About cognition and Archetypes. Consciousness, Personal Unconsciousness, Collective Unconsciousness. they constantly interact. Consciousness is what you are aware of. Th Unconscious realm is far larger than the conscious. The Personal Unconscious consists of events deemed insignificant or repressed due to their distressing nature. The collective Unconscious was the largest and consists of psychic structures or cognitive categories which are not unique to the individual, but rather shared by all. It is home to the archetypes. It means we all have similarity of experience... like the organs of a body. You aren't aware of the archetypes any more than the operation of your organs. They are the psychic organs. Archetypes - The same symbols kept arising. Result in the similarity of mythologies of different cultures. Levels of reality stacking on top of one another. He changes your cognitive structures. He changes what you do and how you imagine yourself and how you articulate yourself into alignment, so those three things are the same. You have more actions than articulations or imagination though. It creates an expanded sense of self and possibilities. It can be wonderful and daunting and even dangerous. Jordan B Peterson - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iLiKMUiyTI Many people (all?) think in terms of archetypes. Jung was a student of Freud and Nietzsche, but he went into far deeper psychological levels than Freud. Jung looked into symbols of religion for meaning. Nietzsche believed to overcome this problem of a loss of traditional values with God as its cornerstone, people would have to become creatures that could produce their own values as a replacement. That's hard to do because trying to impose a set of values on yourself is difficult because you aren't very cooperative (what if moral instincts align with those beliefs?) You can't just create your values so Freud looked into unconscious fantasies to discover what people's values that bubbled up. He looked for the core of those fantasies of a person. They are linked by emotion more than reason. Jung linked them to mythology and fantasy across history. The Lion King - Sunrise=dawn of consciousness. Sun was heroic, enlightenment. Big theme of death and rebirth after night, comes the day. Humans are very visual so we use light for symbolism. It is a new day and how do you comport yourself in that day? The rock represents tradition and can include the dominance hierarchy with the lion on top. It is like a state, a hierarchy with something at the top. The state is a safe place "in the light" like the rock. That's what the state is, a safe place. The animals observe and need to know what's happening at the top that organizes them. The bird represents the King's Eye. There must be an eye at the top like at the top of a pyramid on a dollar bill. The idea is that at the top of the pyramid is something that doesn't belong in the pyramid and can see all the rest -like Horus-. The thing at the top can do well across hierarchies because it's not stuck in any one of them. It is about vision, including what you don't want to see - the superego. It is also the eyes. It is the thing you need to update yourself and orient yourself in the world and among other people. It's all in the imagery. Words have trouble describing that. Image's meaning are very deep. From a Freudian perspective, the animals are representations of part of your psyche from the id that is animalistic and full of implicit drives like sex and aggression. HTiose two drives, unlike thirst or hunger, are harder to integrate into proper social being and tend to be excluded and left unconscious so much of psychology is about integrating sex, aggression and also anxiety into the psyche. The animals are those impulses that must be organized in the hierarchy like they must be organized into a child before they can fit into the state. Mufasa is tall, high on seritonen, is dominant near the top of the hierarchy so tends to expand so that he looks bigger instead of shrunk and non-threatening. His expression is hardened, severe... like the superego and society, with their aggression integrated rather than too agreeable like Simba as an adolescent. When the adult integrates, they judge the world. According to Freud that is incorporating the Union Shadow or incorporation of the subconscious. He can smile and has the full range of expression. The baboon is a shaman across time who represents self from the Union perspective. Now the self is everything you could be across time. So you imagine that there's you and there's the potential inside you whatever that is, and potential is an interesting idea because it represents something that isn't real, yet we act like it's real because people say that you should live up to your potential. (22:00) New environments make you more than you are as you expand. The hero is born... Vulnerable hero, newly born. We all like cuteness... All mammals respond that way. Then the baboon (shaman), baptizes him with the fruit as the symbol of the sun. The baby is all the potential realized is the self. You need to re-integrate much of that again as an adult. Scar is the evil brother of the king. (The hero always has an enemy.) The state always has a tyrannical element because the state deteriorates of its own accord. (Caste mobility between cities?) The sate is a construct of the past so it is mismatched and that is the degree that it is malfunctioning. The awareness of the people must update the state. The failure of the state though is really a failure of the people. He used the example of the flood. "I knew this was coming". Scar is intelligent and hyper rational. Lucifer is this archetype - rational and intelligent. It is also represented by the divisions and interactions of the hemispheres of the brain. Osiris represented the state and Set ->Satan was always scheming. The problem was that Osiris wasn't paying enough attention, just like Scar. Osiris got overthrown by Set because he was old, senile and willfully blind. Scar played on the juvenile qualities of the son. Scar dark and is a creature of the night. The multiple levels of the tree represent many dimensions where the self exists and can move up and down in those dimensions. The Shaman lives in that tree. He is the spirit of the ancient tree. Mufasfa takes Simba up to the top of the pyramid ans says his kingdom is every where the light has touched. Anywhere you move, physically or in a relationship, you must investigate before you feel comfortable and meshed into it. Around that area of light is the unknown, the unconscious as well. ... And you should not go there... almost insuring that he will go there. He is warning him not to go there and helping him go there at the same time. If you go there and return, the new you will be stronger and more complete. You should do it and you shouldn't do it. You need to be more than sensible. You need to wisely break rules which puts the hero outside the social establishment. Scar, tyranny, inhibits the spontaneity of youth... school... Discipline takes away and it gives. Scar can take advantage of the good of a child. Simba encounters Nala the Jungian anima - the soul, the feminine counterpart in the soul that is judgmental and teasing. She's putting him down and is the thing that teaches the exploratory hero that it's not not everything it could be. as women make men self-conscious by their sexual selectivity. It may be what has caused our rapid cortical development. He confuses his privilege with competence. You can become false and arrogant. When men meet women who they desire, they tend to project an ideal onto her and it is why she can defeat him as Nala beat Simba when they wrestled. He was competing with what he was projecting. Their wrestling later takes them out of the kingdom into the elephant graveyard. hey explore it out of curiosity. The meet the hyenas. Hyenas were the bane of humanity... They look creepy. One of the hyenas was crazy with random eye movement. The "king's eye" baboon is trying to protect. The hyenas are juxtaposed with fire - hell. Self-actualization is a term that has been used in various Humanistic psychology theories, often in different ways. The term was originally introduced by the organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein for the motive to realize one's full potential: "the tendency to actualize itself as fully as possible is the basic drive ... the drive of self-actualization." Carl Rogers similarly wrote of "the curative force in psychotherapy – man's tendency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities ... to express and activate all the capacities of the organism." 6 Great sayings form Western Philosophy - Philosophy is a discipline committed to helping us live wiser and less sorrowful lives. 1. Stoicism. How bad can events be when the whole of life is tragic. Pessimism - the less we expect or hope, the lest despair we will experience. 2. Peccatum Originale - Augustine - Original Sin. Human nature is messed up from eating the fruit. Human spirit is corrupted. We should not expect too much from the human race. 3. Kings and philosophers shit, as do ladies. Celebrities are much like us and make mistakes. We're fine. 4. All our unhappiness comes from our inability to sit alone in our room - Pascal - It means we rave excitement, but don't need to. Stay distractedness and enjoy the small pleasures. Ignore the louder voices in our culture saying we must find excitement and drama. We should think and we should become better, quieter friends to ourselves. 5. Sub specie aeternitatis - means "Under the aspect of eternity" a phrase from "Ethics", published by Baruch Spinoza. Look at ourselves, our successes and failures as if from very far away. Take an objective view. They don't seem shocking or large. (Seems like Buddhism.) Quit complaining 6. Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made - Immanuel Kant. Anything humans do are a bit wonky because we are creatures of passion more than reason. Error and folly will try to have their way. Do not expect people to be perfect and accept that.
Among the 3, Confucius' ideas are too conservative, too controlling, too regimental and support close to authoritarian rule. Buddhism is like a big nice guy but the view can be quite pessimistic since it is backed by bitterness. I support Lao Tzu ideas more as its more neutral and less stressful for the soul. He do not support on the rulers nor to the citizens point of view but focus on the well being of an individual. Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism. 6th Century BC. He was said to be record keeper in the court of the Zhou Dynasty. He was an older contemporary of Confucius. He may only have been a myth. Taoisms teaching in a nutshell is "chill out, be yourself, take time to relax in silence and let things happen on their own time".Taoism teaches a person to flow with life. He was said to have grown tired of life as the court grew more corrupt. He left the court and rode a water buffalo to the Western border. Although he was dressed as a farmer, the border official recognized him and asked him to write down his wisdom. According to this legend, what Lao Tzu wrote became a sacred text called the Tao Te Ching. After writing this, he disappeared from history. Actually it was probably the work of many writers over time but stories about Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching itself passed down through different Chinese philosophical schools for over 2000 years. Lao Tzu was the leading figure in the practice known as Daoism. Between 200,000 and 500,000 practice Doaism by meditating, chanting scriptures and worship a variety of Gods and Goddesses in temples. They also make pilgrimages to the five sacred mountains to pray at the temples there and absorb spiritual energy from these places that are believed to be governed by immortals. Daoism is deeply intertwined with other branches of thought like Confucianism and Buddhism. There is a story that Lao Tzu, Confucius and Buddha were together and tasted vinegar. Confucius found it to taste sour, much like he found the world of degenerate people. Buddha found it to be bitter like he found the world to be full of suffering. Lao Tzu found it to taste sweet. Lao Tzu's philosophy tends to look at the apparent discord in the world and see an underlying harmony guided by something called the Dao. The Tao Te Ching is something like the Bible: it gives instructions(often vague and open to multiple interpretations) on how to live a good life. It discusses the "Dao" as the "way of the world", which is also the path to virtue, happiness and harmony. The way isn't inherently confusing or difficult, but in order to follow the Dao, one must go beyond reading or thinking about it. Instead one must learn Wu Wei", flowing or effortless action. 1. Make more time for stillness. "To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders". Let go of our schedules, worries and complex thoughts for a while and simply experience the world. "Nature does not hurry, but everything is accomplished. Important things like grieving, growing wiser, developing new relationships, only happen on their schedule like the changing of the leaves or the blossoming of bulbs in Spring. When still, we need to be open. "The usefulness of the pot comes from its emptiness". "Empty yourself of everything, let your mind become still". If you are too busy or preoccupied with anxiety or ambition, we will miss a thousand moments of the human experience that are out natural inheritance. We need to be awake to the sounds of birds in the morning, how people look when they laugh, the feeling of wind against our face. These experiences reconnect us to parts of ourselves. (Self awareness?) Another key point is that "we need to be in touch with our real selves". We worry about who we should become but we should take time to be who we already are at heart. We might re-discover something about ourselves that we have forgotten. Our ego is often in the way of our true self, which must be found by being receptive to the outside world rather than focusing on some critical, too ambitious internal image. "When I let go of who I am, I become what I might be". Nature is particularly useful for finding ourselves. Lao Tzu compared different parts of nature to different virtues. "The best people are like water that benefits all things and does not compete with them". "It stays in lowly places that others reject". This is why it is so similar to the Dao. Each part of nature can remind us of a quality we admire and should cultivate in ourselves. The strength of the mountains, the resilience of the trees, the cheerfulness of flowers. There are though times for action and ambition. It is a good philosophy for the modern times of sudden and severe changes. His words remind us of the importance of the stillness, openness and discovering buried parts of ourselves. Interesting comment... from Buddha metta bhavana - (sounds like my defense against hostility) Every morning think of a particular individual who irritates you. Instead of one's normal hostile impulses, rehearse kindly messages like "I hope you will find peace". You can extend this to everyone on earth. It means compassion is a learnable skill. Our behavior can be changed with practice. ***https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucianism Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, a way of governing, or simply a way of life, Confucianism developed from what was later called the Hundred Schools of Thought from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 BCE). The use of the term "Confucianism" has been avoided by some modern scholars, who favor "Ruism" and "Ruists" instead. Ritual allows one and society to become closer to harmony between earth and heaven. Confucius himself did not propose that "might makes right," but rather that a superior should be obeyed because of his moral rectitude. Filial piety is considered a key virtue in Chinese culture, to perform the duties of one's job well If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. Meritocracy - In teaching, there should be no distinction of classes. (Analects 15.39) the revolutionary idea of replacing nobility of blood with nobility of virtue. The worldly concern of Confucianism rests upon the belief that human beings are fundamentally good, and teachable, improvable, and perfectible through personal and communal endeavor, especially self-cultivation and self-creation. Confucian thought focuses on the cultivation of virtue in a morally organised world. Some of the basic Confucian ethical concepts and practices include rén, yì, and lǐ, and zhì. Rén (仁, 'benevolence' or 'humaneness') is the essence of the human being which manifests as compassion. It is the virtue-form of Heaven. Yì (义; 義) is the upholding of righteousness and the moral disposition to do good. Lǐ (礼; 禮) is a system of ritual norms and propriety that determines how a person should properly act in everyday life in harmony with the law of Heaven. Zhì (智) is the ability to see what is right and fair, or the converse, in the behaviors exhibited by others. Confucianism holds one in contempt, either passively or actively, for failure to uphold the cardinal moral values of rén and yì. Confucian teaching rests on three essential values: Filial piety, humaneness, and ritual. The Confucian value system may be likened in some ways to a tripod, which is one of the great vessels of the Shang and Zhou Period and a motif that reoccurs in later Chinese arts. Kindness, mutual respect and appreciation of character virtues. Society can only flourish when people learn to interact positively with each other. Developed by Master Yao in 551 - 479 BC. Jesuits called him Confucius. The beliefs existed earlier, meant to unite the people, create stability and prevent rebellion by focusing both on the divine and on authority from the divine. His too was a route to a civil society but Yao shifted attention away from ruling authorities and the divine or one's future after death. He instead focused more on daily life and human interactions. Confucianism is often characterized as a system of social and ethical philosophy rather than a religion. In fact, Confucianism built on an ancient religious foundation to establish the social values, institutions, and transcendent ideals of traditional Chinese society. Confucianism is a philosophy based on mutual respect and kindness toward others. It was developed to bring peace and stability in society. It was founded before the birth of Confucius, developed through his later life and was made popular soon after, during the Han Dynasty. In Confucianism, man is the center of the universe: man cannot live alone, but with other human beings. For human beings, the ultimate goal is individual happiness. The necessary condition to achieve happiness is through peace. Family was the foundation of moral society in Confucianism. Every member of a family had a proper relationship with the others, defined by age, sex and birth order. ... The reciprocal obligations in between family members and the base virtue of respect for parents and ancestors is called filial piety. Confucianism teach people people the wisdom of life, family and governance. The idea of mediocrity is important in Confucianism. Confucianism, a Western term that has no counterpart in Chinese, is a worldview, a social ethic, a political ideology, a scholarly tradition, and a way of life. ... Both the theory and practice of Confucianism have indelibly marked the patterns of government, society, education, and family of East Asia. The Five Constant Relationships outline how one should act in society, being the relationships between parent and child, husband and wife, elder sibling and junior sibling, elder friend and junior friend, and ruler and subject. ... A parent is to be loving, a child obedient. Specific duties were prescribed to each of the participants in these sets of relationships. The philosophy of Confucius (551–479 BCE), which eventually became the basis of the state ideology of successive Chinese dynasties and nearby polities in East Asia, contains several humanistic traits, placing a high value on human life and discounting mysticism and superstition, including speculations on ghosts and an afterlife. These values are clearly espoused in the Analects of Confucius, a compilation of quotes and anecdotes attributed to Confucius by his students and philosophical school. *** Eastern philosophy accentuates meditating, western philosophy says look for wisdom thru logic and science. Passive contemplation verses active?
John Rawls - 1921 - Baltimore. Political Theory - How do you get a society that provides basic decent services to all citizens? Political theorist John Rawls had a good idea, and it was called 'the veil of ignorance.' He provides a model of what is unfair and how we might gather support for fixing things. He saw the horrors and unfairness of war and society. 1971 published "Theory of Justice". 1. Things as they are now are patently unfair. All data shows this.Day to day this can be hard to pay attention to because so many voices are telling us that if we work hard and have ambition, we can make it. He know how the American Dream was so pervasive and knew it's corrosive, regressive influence. He was a statistician and knew it was a fraud. Debate about it got bogged down in details and squabbling. Nothing gets done. He came up with a simple way to show what was unfair and what to do about it. 2. Imagine if you were not you. A lot of the reason societies don't become fairer is that those that benefit from current injustice are spared the need to think to hard about what it would have been like to have been born under different circumstances. He created a thought experiment called the "Veil of Ignorance". Rawls asked us to imagine ourselves in a conscious, intelligent state before our own birth, but without any knowledge of what circumstances we were going to e born into; our futures shrouded by a veil of ignorance. If we knew nothing about where we'd end up, what sort of society would it feel safe to enter? The veil of ignorance stops us from thinking about all those who have done well and draws our attention to the appalling risks involved in entering, for example, US society as if it were a lottery without knowing if you'd end up the child of an orthodontist in Scottsdale or the offspring of a black single mother in the rougher parts of eastern Detroit. Would any sane "person" want to take a gamble of ending up in the society we have now? Probably not. They would insist that the rules of the game be changed. Otherwise it would be too risky. 3. You know what needs to be fixed. Anyone playing this game would want a to enter a society with number of things in place. a. They'll want the schools to be very good. b. The hospitals to function brilliantly. c. Unimpeachable and fair access to law. d. Decent housing for everyone. The Veil of Ignorance forces the person to accept that the country that they'd really want to be born randomly into would almost certainly be a version of Switzerland or Denmark. In other words, we know what kind of a society we want to live in. We just haven't focused on it until now because the choices have already been made. His experiment allows us to think more objectively about what a fair society looks like in its details. The question is "how would I think about this if I was stuck behind the veil of ignorance"? The fair answer emerges directly when we contemplate what we would need in order to still be adequately positioned in the worst case scenario. A lot will depend on what is wrong in your society. I 4. What to do next? n this sense, Rawls was usefully undoctrinaire. He recognized that the veil of ignorance throws up different issues in different contexts.. In some the priority might be to fix air pollution, in others the school system. Most importantly though, Rawls provides tools to critique our current society based on a beautifully simple experiment. We will know when our society is fair when from a position of imaginary ignorance before our births that we simply wouldn't mind where we were born.That we cannot do that now shows how deeply unfair things remain and need to be improved. (Bill Clinton really liked him.)
This was a description of who wrote and who followed Stoic Philosophy https://www.uen.org/core/languagearts/text-basedwriting/downloads/6-11grade/WhatSuccessPrompt_%20Stoicism_PracticalPhilosophyYouCanActuallyUse-10.pdf Pyrhonists would be a start. I would also argue nichomachean ethics only because of the emphasis on moderation. – Eodnhoj7 2 days ago archive.org/details/IndianPhilosophyACriticalSurvey https://archive.org/details/IndianPhilosophyACriticalSurvey Jules Vuillemin has argued that there are just 4 types of systems and two more attitudes, perhaps you could look in his book What are Philosophical Systems? Cambridge UP 1986 ---- This seems to be Meta-Physics and evaluating the reality associated with Philosophical schools. He does mention that philosophy needs to update based on new science or mathematics. Maybe in the Platonic era Eleatic Monism (a la the Parmenides), Hedonism (in the Epicurean sense), Cynicism (in the Diogenes of Synope sense, not the later Academic one), Ephemeralism (as in Heraclitus) and at the non-ancient or non-Greek end Taoism, Manicheanism (as in Gnosticism), 'Care' (in the Feminist Ethics sense) or Compassionism (as in 'the Perennial Philosophy' or Buddhism). Not picking abstruse examples on purpose, just trying to and make them as different as possible. All of these distinctly split from narrow logic on purpose, if you are looking for contrasts to Criticism. – jobermark yesterday https://www.quora.com/unanswered/If-you-had-to-recommend-a-major-ethical-theory-to-a-friend-which-one-would-you-choose-Why-Address-both-the-strengths-and-weaknesses-in-your-recommended-theory-Why-would-you-reject-the-others Short answer - The philosophies of both Ma’at and Aristotle (and others) are based around Balance. I think that is obviously the most important ethical principle. One must be also skilled at the Critical Thinking of the Ancient Greeks or how will you be able to discern balance and truth? Longer answer - if you want to embrace a single philosophy that will best serve you in life, embrace the philosophy of the Stoics. It trains self-awareness, discipline, resilience and other strengths of character. It teaches techniques for preparing for and dealing with life’s challenges. It teaches an understanding of the world. Don’t forget Epicurus though, happiness is important. And the most important ethical command needed to support the human civilization that is our life support system was taught by a Moral Hero that was elevated to a God - Love One Another. It’s not about one ethical theory or rejecting others. It’s about developing understanding and habits to live your best life. Just a thought for you Patrick. To the best of my knowledge... to clarify a little Capitalism is not a political system, it is an economic principle. It is the use of capital as a tool of production, we often call it "investment". Socialism is not a political system. It too is an ownership system. It is a way of organizing things just as private ownership is a way of organizing things. Compare it to primogeniture... it's just a way humans organize things to make the system work. Socialism is defined as collective ownership, perhaps "state ownership". Communism is defined as Socialism implemented by violent revolution. Revolutions produce chaos and tend to lead to dictatorships as a solution to the chaos or because they made an opening for a "strong man" to seize power. Private ownership was discussed ... philosophically... by John Locke who claimed it was a natural law, but it is just a way humans order things and avoid chaos which prevents anything from getting accomplished. The Medieval period was chaotic, often a time of banditry and at best a time of warlords. "Nations", perhaps City States, formed around power centers that could enforce order. During the Age of Enlightenment, concepts of government were developed to replace the traditional divine right of kings. It was accepted that there would be some compromise of freedom to achieve order. That led to modern political systems, eventually including democracy. Political systems are democratic, perhaps representative or they are dictatorships, perhaps kings, premiers, chairmen, etc. Most dictatorships are actually power groups with a leader, perhaps a theocracy, oligarchy, military, etc. It is about power... which is traditionally has been the power to kill but also includes economic power now. The question is also purpose. Except for the rare "Benevolent Despotism" (think Singapore) Dictatorships are usually to enrich the rulers in terms of wealth and power. Philosophically speaking, the purpose of a a Democracy is normally to benefit the citizens of the democracy, think the Preamble to the American Constitution - my favorite moral statement of all time by the way. American Democracy specifically states in its charter (the Constitution) that it is for the benefit of the citizens - there should be a non-political word for that. All democracies are naturally socialistic to some degree. They always have some national ownership, think parks, federal lands, parts, highways, post offices. They also have collective purposes, think the Preamble again. Consider Libertarianism, pretty well described by Ayn Rand. It is not about democracy or dictatorship. It is about self and no state (government). No state to them means total freedom, including the freedom to exploit anyone you can as well as exploiting "the commons". That is what we are having trouble with these days. Marx talked about the power of the machines of production (he lived in the industrial revolution which was all about machines... that created weapons and later created the great fortunes). Well, capital is not mechanical, but it is a very powerful tool of production. It can produce those machines. Libertarianism can be very appealing to the wealthy or ownership class or oligarchs, whatever you want to call them. Claiming ownership as a natural right relieves them of any responsibility just as the divine right of kings moved all their responsibility onto God. They hate any kind of socialism, whether a democratic government or any other collective movement because it is a power that could restrain them, perhaps by taxes, perhaps by pitchforks. Now Ayn Rand called this Selfishness, but I suspect an older word is more generally correct and that is Greed or maybe its sibling Power. That is what politics is about now. The Republicans want power at any cost. They achieve it both politically, by abusing the power of ownership and the power of persuasion known as propaganda. One powerful method of this is to intentionally confuse selfish Libertarianism with Capitalism, a fantastically productive economic strategy. The Democrats need to resist that power grab and retain the power in the citizens. Unfortunately, the self-interest of the Republicans gives them great power. The Democrats need leadership to direct the power of the people against the power of ownership ... well and the lies. There, I solved that problem quite nicely, don't you think :) A legacy of the Age of Enlightenment, the motto "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" first appeared during the French Revolution. It was understood that there was an
In the second century AD, a Latin grammarian, Aulus Gellius (c. 125 – c. 180), complained: Those who have spoken Latin and have used the language correctly do not give to the word humanitas the meaning which it is commonly thought to have, namely, what the Greeks call φιλανθρωπία (philanthropy), signifying a kind of friendly spirit and good-feeling towards all men without distinction; Sixth-century BCE pre-Socratic Greek philosophers Thales of Miletus and Xenophanes of Colophon were the first in the region to attempt to explain the world in terms of human reason rather than myth and tradition, thus can be said to be the first Greek humanists. Thales questioned the notion of anthropomorphic gods and Xenophanes refused to recognise the gods of his time and reserved the divine for the principle of unity in the universe.
I've long been working out how humans can survive and thrive based on the premise that we need to adapt to a new ecology both genetically and strategically. My perspective has been based around my knowledge of biology, ecology and the other sciences that I have studied for a long time. I also though know of the intentional and unintentional limits of science. They are many and many of the most important questions cannot be answered by science. I already knew that. While looking at the issue of strategy, I was looking for cooperative strategies from history since I think that will be one of the biggest adaptations we need to make. I figured out that so much of the problem we face is that like every animal, we come equipped with the instinctive strategies of endless competition that could be called Darwinian. They are simple and blunt and only work given great spans of time. We need more cooperation than Darwinian strategy promotes to build the new ecology we need to survive. I refer to it as Civilization. We need to reduce the competition and violence inherent to Darwinian strategies, because that violence endangers the created ecology that is civilization and the cooperation needed to sustain it. Civilization, as our ecology, is our life support system and we depend on it every day.
I was systematically reviewing human knowledge to list the minimum requirements for an individual to function well in civilization. I considered science which I know well and machines that are so important these days. I covered the Logic and reason of Critical Thinking that I know is our best way of discerning truth, something that is so important and difficult. I knew I was looking for knowledge that existed in morality, so I reviewed religion some but it contained a lot of philosophy so I decided to go there to make sure I knew the playing field I was on. I was immediately amazed at what I found. There was already a large body of knowledge about excellent survival strategies compiled that I really knew nothing about. I had taken more than one class in philosophy before, but in hindsight I see how it was taught largely by listing the name and dates of the philosophers along with the name of their "school of thought". I was never told that the teachings of those schools included great knowledge that was currently applicable to the complicated world we live in. It truly is the Wisdom of the Ages. I immediately recognized some of what I was reading from more modern books including the SciFi I so enjoyed in my youth. I had to explore this knowledge for how it fit into human survival strategy, but first I had to find out how I could possibly have missed such a wealth of knowledge. This entire book(s) were based around what I figured out about genetics and human ecology after wondering (at about age 17) what would be the result of immunization. It was verified by friends that knew me at the time though that I was looking at the problem of human adaptation years earlier. What had happened to this knowledge? I knew that the Founding Fathers that wrote the Constitution and Declaration of Independence considered the classical philosophers to be their guides and inspiration. I had seen mention of this knowledge in letters written during the Civil War. It was still known and respected then. I even vaguely remembered mention of practical philosophy as being part of basic education in grammar school early in the 1900's. My guess was that during the disruption of WWII and the explosion of science that the war resulted in, that science crowded out philosophy. I know how people currently try to answer questions with science when reason or other methods would be better tools, but it is what they have been taught to use. Discussion with a friend pointed out though that it wasn't just the ascendancy of science that led to this. In the early 20th century a war raged between science and religion such as the Scopes Trial about evolution. It seems that philosophy was a casualty of that conflict. It wasn't completely forgotten. I quickly found out that there are many people, often leaders, who are quite familiar with Classical Philosophy, especially Stoic Philosophy. It's almost embarrassing that I didn't find this great wealth earlier, but I guess I was always taught that it was a dead subject. It's not. I did have clues, including my fascination with Michael Polanyi but I guess I thought of that as psychology and neuroscience. It was philosophy though as are many things we encounter every day, but they are not things that science can explain yet if ever. It's a scandal that a review of practical philosophies are no longer taught to all young people. It is such a powerful and valuable tool.
Philosophy is not just about talking or lecturing, or even reading long, dense books. In fact, it is something men and women of action use—and have used throughout history—to solve their problems and achieve their greatest triumphs. Not in the classroom, but on the battlefield, in the Forum, and at court.
“We must all wear out or rust out, everyone of us. My choice is to wear out”. Theodore Roosevelt.
Enjoy luxury when it is there, but do not make it an important goal. Luxury is pleasant, but it does not mean it is unpleasant when there is no luxury.
Time is your most absolute limitation. Use it wisely/Don't waste it.
The ultimate Stoic Statement - "Shit Happens".
I Tried Marcus Aurelius' Nighttime Routine For 28 Days
6 Things done every evening.
1. Contemplation of the Sage. Ask yourself "what would a wise man (maybe Zeno) do? Anyone you look up to that has a character trait you admire. Then your emotions are not deciding. Disassociate yourself for objective viewing. Or compare yourself to who you are. Define who you want to be, how to become that and your progress in doing it. Think about that person.
2. View from above. View yourself from a third person perspective... maybe like a player in a video game. It allows you to objectively judge yourself and your actions. Zoom out and see what is around you. See your city, your country, then the world. It puts things in perspective and you see other people's problems.
3. Exercise. It's good for body and mind.
4. Meditation. Teaches self control... Teaches you to control your negative emotions and actions. My view of learning breath control?
5. Review the events and accomplishments of the day. You will know what you accomplished and what you need to accomplish. Your successes will make you happy. It trains good habits. You will identify problems so you know what you need to fix. You get to see where you are in relation to your goals.
6. Journaling. (He says it will change your life... ha a video about it on YouTube)
The Result is greater happiness and fulfillment. He is more effective. He has less stress. He better knows what he did with the day. He is confident in what he has accomplished. He had more energy and optimism from his energy and action. He is confident in his success.
Journaling - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpwWi2MTTuc - Andrew Kirby
1. Weeding - Recognizing a Problem that doesn't go away and solving it Define the problem and figure out how you feel about it. Define it in a simple sentence. The write about the problem and you eventually will usually find the answer to the problem because you are breaking out of your thought patterns. You will find the solution. Que, Routine, Reward... to create a habit of journaling Que - to trigger the action. Routine - a routine of journaling. Reward - pick your reward to train yourself. 2. Reflect - on the past day, week or month. Congratulate yourself on what you did well. Consider what you failed to succeed at. Pinpoint what you could do better. It shows you if you are on rack to your goals. 3. Planning - ahead for the future. Plan for the next day and you will be super efficient with your time. You wake up knowing what you have to do. Plan this for each month of the year. Your effectiveness just increases. 4. Note Taking - Use your journal to take notes. It increases retention. It reminds you of plans. 5. Questions - The quality of your life is determined by the questions you ask yourself. This will get knowledge from inside your brain instead of from outside. That is where you relly need to get it from rather than from outside. Ask what your life will look like in 5 or 10 years if you don't change. Ask what your life could be like if you do change in certain ways. Ask what you are going to do to change.
1. The purpose of Mankind is to follow nature.
As an individual.
As the whole world.
Some things are under our control. Some things are not under our control.
What we can control we should be doing in harmony in nature with wisdom and excellence.
What we cannot control we should accept and love that they happen.
Amor Fati - "Love your fate" which is in fact you - Friedrich Nietzsche
This leads to many benefits:
Freedom, Fearlessness, overcoming irrational fears and desires, absence of stress, serenity and a smooth flow of life.
eudomonia - happy life.
Three things for a morning routine:
2. Meditation- relax and calm down. Take a view from above to see where you fit in locally and in the world.
3. Visualize the day ahead and your activities. Think about what could go wrong. If you look at it that way, you are unlikely to be hurt ... or make mistakes.
4. Contemplation of the Sage. Someone who inspires you. Think of them and how they would act. What would the person I want to be do today?
5. How a Stoic should conduct themself throughout the day. How could you be a good man today?
6. Be aware of yourself and character through the day. Make decisions as if you were a truly good person. Be ready at any moment to examine yourself, attitudes and actions. Watch your intellect and protect it. Exercise your mental virtues.
8. Accept everything that happens to you. Imagine everything that happens to you as something that you chose. Accept it and love it. See the benefit even of the negative. You can choose how you perceive events no matter what they are or how unfortunate they may seem. (???I'm not too sure that includes the injuries you will not heal from.)
7. Cognitive Distancing. Don't separate yourself from your emotions, but do distance yourself some so that you are not swept away by them, whether they are negative or positive. Delay your emotional response and decide if they are really good for you. Do you really want to feel that way about that event?
8. Empathic understanding - don't quickly judge. You may not know their intentions. Do they know their intent.
9. Exercise to train the muscle of discipline. Push yourself to train yourself to be able to push further. Sometimes act against what your body wants to train your control.
10. Impermanence and acceptance. Recognize the shortness of everything that happens in your life, good or bad. This too shall pass. YOua re a small part of the universe... your problems are not unique and they have been overcome before by others. You can too.
11. Evening Routine - Sit back and review the day... three times. You get greater insight. Ask: what did I do well today? What did I do badly today? How can I improve in the future?
12.Rest and relaxation. You can't change what happened. Love the day.
Great ideas in philosophy often come in dense packages. Then there is the work of Marcus Aurelius.
The way to happiness, according to Stoics, is keeping up a proper mental state and following the dictates of reason. A quick way to do this is to focus on the moment at hand and accepting whatever you cannot control while reacting to those things properly. This can lead to a lifetime of tranquility for those who try hard enough.
One of the goals of any good Stoic is to act in accordance with reason, that element of the divine that we all possess. Since reason is seen as the path to happiness, virtue, and living well, sticking to it consistently can be expected to have tremendous payoffs.
Stoicism doesn't treat humans as solitary creatures, despite the urging it gives us to ignore the opinions of others. The Stoics know people are social animals and mandate a healthy level of social and civic participation for everyone.
How other people think is outside of our control. Stoicism teaches us that we should, therefore, try to be indifferent to it. However, the workings of our mind are what makes us happy and unhappy and should receive a great deal of our attention.
Even though humans have access to divine reason, sometimes we still make mistakes. The best response to this isn't anger, but rather to appeal to that reason in search of a solution. This Stoic wisdom that we can choose to bypass a negative emotional reaction and use reason instead is part of the basis for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
"That which is not good for the swarm is not good for the bee either."
We live as individuals in societies. If society is harmed, how can we not also be harmed? Epictetus, a philosopher who influenced Marcus Aurelius, thought it was vital that we do our duties towards others and not merely withdraw into contemplation and isolation. A good thing to remember when you are the king of the known world.
The Stoic philosophers understood that most people ignore the fact that they are going to die someday. While it is easy to understand why people do this, they saw this as a detriment to our ability to live life now. By coming to grips with the fact of death, we can make better use of life.
The Stoic view of the cosmos leans heavily on the idea of constant change as argued by Heraclitus. Everything in the universe is always in flux. Since this is part of nature, it is nothing to be hung up about. While change can be difficult for us, the Stoic thinkers encourage us to embrace it.
Just because you didn't cause a problem doesn't mean you're in the clear. A dedication to the good often implies the need to do good, not merely the duty to avoid doing wrong. It is always nice when kings remember this.
All the principle teachings of Stoicism expressed in one paragraph. Bad things will happen to you, it's life. However, you have the power to overcome these events through reason and the understanding that you can only really be harmed by your own mental processes. All people are similar and should be treated as such. Virtue is to act in accordance with nature, that which is contrary to nature is irrational and causes suffering.
Existence is not just about comfort. It is about doing what nature intended you to do, just like every other living thing.
If you love yourself, you love your nature and what that intended you to do. You wear yourself down doing it and even forget other things you should do. >>You are possessed by your vocation.
>>Act, do not just react.
Stoics seem to talk a lot about death and mortality. (All philosophies >>Make sure that you have lived your life.
The three themes of life - Time (Hourglass), Death (Scroll), Life (Flower)
Philosophy in One Lecture - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AycTgPJtBP0
What is Philosophy? The connection between our thoughts and reality. So, are different people having the same thoughts about (the same) reality? Plato was asking this.
How do you define anything? What if you mistake something for something else ... the truth about something for something else? It needs to be mind independent. Memories change, so that's not very solid. It gets problematic when you talk about something like justice. Plato said the forms are printed on the soul... Doctrine of a priori knowledge. Many followed this idea, such as Descartes. They decided that the forms were ideas in the mind of God. God illuminates our mind. Lasted 1000 years until Descartes who said what if the universe is shaped by God (The Word of God). That leaves us with a partial image of the world. ... What if God gives us the wrong ideas? What if then they are actually concepts in the mind and are the same because we are all human - The Categories. Biology gives it to us. So then what. Maybe (Kant) the object is dependent on the mind... Nope mind independent. So Descartes says there are secondary qualities because the primary qualities are the atomic properties. There are two qualities to any object. How do we distinguish between them. Hume,... So Categories only apply in the mind. So the qualities independent of the mind. So the mind is projecting "reality" on reality. Ideas are mind dependent. Things are mind independent. 19th Century - Hagel, ... How do we know the relationship between the two sets of qualities - of mind and matter? HAgel threw out the rules and said it's all what it appears to be. The world is a mental construction -> Analytical Philosophy was a rebellion against that. Went back to looking for laws... Maybe they changed over time and location like human laws. Neitchze... said we're in trouble. We don't know. Accept that our biological nature is consistent. Our experiences seem to be consistent too. We share perceptions, so there must be one mind, the world mind. We are ideas in it.
Timings: Intro: 0:05 1: When you Encounter Unkindness - 1:10 Evil only harms you if you respond with evil. 2. Everything Depends on How You Interpret it - 3:00 Even if you are stretching it, you can interpret anything as positive. You are what you think. 3. Your Mind Should Sit Superior to Your Body and its Sensations - 4:27 You mind is what advantage you have over other animals... Do not allow your body to control your mind. Gain control of your mind so that you can act virtuous - using reason. 4. Stay Mindful and Take Deliberate Actions - 6:00 Be deliberate. No random actions. (Sounds like self actualization.) Observe your mind objectively. Think systematically. You can always find peace within your mind, but don't stay there. 5. Don’t Retreat from the World - 7:02 Humanity is born for cooperation. We are constituted for one another. Do not fall into anger or quite trying to help society. If you understand this then helping others becomes a joy instead of just the right thing to do. Learn to feel effection for others even when they make mistakes. We all make mistakes. We are all in this together. Whatever they do, they haven't really hurt you. They haven't diminished your ability to choose. Contemplate the positive qualities of others. It will make you feel better about them. They all have good, know it and think about it. 6. Your Opinion of Yourself Matters More Than the Opinion of a Stranger - 8:20 Do know what is best and don't worry about others. Never seek the praise of those you don't respect. Consider what difference praise makes. Very little. 7. Be Open to Correction - 9:39 Don't change your mind for pressure or popularity. 8. Cherish the Freedom and Liberty of Everyone - 10:17 Control yourself as you cannot control them. Try to figure out what they are thinking. Understand what wealth and power leads to. 9. Have Some Self Respect - 11:43 Will you regret an action or opinion? 10. Avoid Complaining - 12:35 Do your job without complaining. Request help if you need it. 11. The Obstacle is the Way - 12:57 Ask what opportunity it opens up. 12. Adversity is Part of Nature - 14:29 They will occur, so pray for the strength to endure them. It is in your control to learn the strength to endure them. 13. It’s Through Adversity That We Get Stronger - 15:46 It is fortunate that it has happened and strengthened / tested me. 14. Everything has happened before - 16:25 Others have met these challenges before. Let them wash off you and deal with what is important. Don't copy the silly excess of others in the same situation. 15. Stay Practical and Deal with What’s in Front of You - 17:57 Don't be distracted. Do what you do right. Ignore the future. Focus on doing what is in the present. Do not desire what is impossible. Aspire to what is available. 16. Focus on Doing What is Right and be Prepared to Face Resistance - 19:32 If it is not right, do not do it. Do not do untruth. Do not do kindness for a reward. It is it's own reward. Your job is to act with virtue. If others act without virtue, that does not change your actions. Small goods are worthy. Do not let others hold you back from doing good, doing your duty. 17. Do Your Duty and Despise Cowardice - 21:13 Doing right or wrong matters, not death. 18. Life is Short and Death Comes to us All, That Means the Time for Action is Now - 22:10 You have one chance and it is slipping away. While you are alive, do good. Look at the life behind you as dead and look at the future as a new life to be lived properly. Just because you have given up on some goals, does not stop us from striving to do good. 19. Practice Getting Back on Track - 24:33 Center yourself at once when you get off track. The practice will help. You will revert. Get back on track right away. When you fail or are silly, get back up. 20. Look Beneath to See Things for What They Truly Are - 26:05 Look at what things really are. How can praise or disdain matter? 21. Recognize Material Wealth is Neither a Good nor an Evil - 27:24 It is how you use it. Your only real good is your virtues. Do not let wealth have hold of you. Be prepared to let it go. Look at what you have. Treat what you have not as non-existent. 22. Express Gratitude - 28:54 ... This had a bunch of elements. Very good. Jocko’s take on (11) “Good”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdTMD... It’s amazing to me that while Jocko has probably read Meditations, he likely didn’t take “Good” directly from it, but has simply arrived at an identical thought himself nearly 2000 years later
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzMuIlZhPfA - 50 quotes by Epictetus Epictetus was a Greek Stoic philosopher. What's incredible is that He was born a Slave. He lived in Rome until he was banishment, when he then went to Greece for the rest of his life. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion. In this video are over 50 Epictetus quotes. Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy which was founded by Zeno of Citium. I hope this video can give you guidance in your life. We will have many other Stoic Philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius. Cool... Only the educated are free. It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. *First say to yourself what you would be and then do what you have to do. No man is free who is not master of himself. If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid. (don't fear mistakes) He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. Wealth is not having great possessions, but in having few wants. The rich man is he who is content. (Very Buddhist) We are not disturbed by what happens to us, but by our thoughts of what happens to us. Know you not that a good man does nothing for appearance sake, but the sake of having done right? (Sounds like Ayn Rand.) If someone speaks badly of you, do not defend yourself against the accusations, but reply "you obviously don't know about my other faults, otherwise you would have mentioned them as well. You may fetter my leg, but Zeus himself cannot get the better of my free will. Difficulty shows what men are. What concerns me is not the way things are, but the way people think things are. (The guide of my books.) Imagine for yourself a character, a model of personality, whose example you determine to follow, in private as well as in public. (Not only a role model, but a path to self- awareness.) (Do not feed danger. Don't feel it.) Any person capable of angering you becomes your master, he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him. (To everything...)
Sophism is a school of philosophy that appeared and existed in ancient Greece. ... Sophists had the specific attitude to the knowledge and cognition, and their views were relativistic. They stated that the absolute truth does not exist and if any idea has two points, each of them could be acceptable.
Discussion with Rick Frothingham
First, there’s a bit of confusion of terms here. Existentialism is not really a distinct philosophy as much as it is a historical description of a collection of different viewpoints concerning individuality, choice, and meaning. Existentialism includes both theistic (Kierkegaard, the “father of existentialism”) and atheistic (Nietzsche, Sartre, etc) viewpoints, though it is the atheistic branches that have left a more significant legacy on western philosophy over the past century.
Second, Existentialism is primarily concerned with meaning rather than morality, though of course views about one can inform views about the other. In the most general sense, existentialism is the view that meaning is something we must choose/create for ourselves, not something which is already defined or provided for us. Atheistic Existentialists typically presented it as something along the lines of “If we no longer believe in God, it no longer makes sense to believe that the meaning of life is to do God’s will. As a result the responsibility to figure out what to consider meaningful lands on us, because the universe does not appear to have handed us a definitive answer.” Some of that group also go on to apply the same logic to morality: once we let go of religious dogma about morality, we’re left with the question to figure out the answer for ourselves.
As a result, there are existentialists who embrace consequentialism, subjectivism/relativism, deontology, virtue ethics (as you suggest), or any number of other moral frameworks. The difference is that you won’t typically find existentialists suggesting that these moral frameworks represent some kind of objective metaphysical law, rather they are something we choose to adopt.
Some context for that comment questioning the sincerity… it’s just because there’s a tendency for a certain sort of religious folk on quora to post questions that contain incorrect claims about people they disagree with. Sometimes I think it’s a product of misunderstanding on their end, but usually it’s just someone being insincere, more interested in attacking strawmen than having a productive discussion about the topic.
This question set off my “insincerity alarm” because it contains three claims about existentialism which aren’t really accurate: that existentialists “abandoned morality based on a God” (true about some, not others), claimed there is “no morality or right and wrong” (that’s moral nihilism not existentialism, though some existentialists do hold that view) and did not embrace Aristotelian virtue ethics (some existentialists do, others don’t).
In any case, as a biologist you might be interested in Ethical Naturalism / Science of Morality. I recently wrote a different answer related to moral nihilism that leads into this topic, if you’re interested: Rick Frothingham's answer to What is the most powerful argument against moral nihilism? https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-most-powerful-argument-against-moral-nihilism/answer/Rick-Frothingham
Four broad categories of ethical theory include deontology, utilitarianism, rights, and virtues. The deontological class of ethical theories states that people should adhere to their obliga- tions and duties when engaged in decision making when ethics are in play. There are other ways in which moral philosophy and philosophers can be categorized, but establishing ethical theories into their three schools is a useful way to understand ethics. The three schools are virtue ethics, consequentialist ethics, and deontological or duty-based ethics. What are the 7 principles of ethics? The principles are beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, justice; truth-telling and promise-keeping.
Consequentialism - the doctrine that the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences.
So a strength of consequentialism is that it provides a rational basis for determining whether an act is ethical within this framework; but a weakness is that it can result in injustices to individuals. The ends do not always justify the means.
Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist moral theory focused on maximizing the overall good; the good of others as well as the good of one's self. ... One difference, however, is consequentialism does not specify a desired outcome, while utilitarianism specifies good as the desired outcome. Utilitarianism holds that the most ethical choice is the one that will produce the greatest good for the greatest number.
One important feature of Utilitarianism is the Hedonic calculus. Bentham equated utility with happiness or pleasure and the avoidance of pain. He believed that happiness is universally valued, and thus concluded that all humans are hedonists, "Nature has placed us under the sovereign of two masters, pain and pleasure".
Utilitarianism is one of the best known and most influential moral theories. Like other forms of consequentialism, its core idea is that whether actions are morally right or wrong depends on their effects. More specifically, the only effects of actions that are relevant are the good and bad results that they produce.
Utilitarianism is a theory in philosophy about right and wrong actions. It says that the morally best action is the one that makes the most overall happiness or "utility" (usefulness). ... Bentham wrote about this idea with the words "The greatest good for the greatest number", but did not use the word utilitarianism.
The goal of utilitarian ethics is to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Jeremy Bentham, an English philosopher, was the founder of utilitarianism; John Stuart Mill was its best-known defender.
Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism, the larger branch of moral philosophy which holds that it is the outcomes of an action that determine its moral significance. Utilitarianism goes a step further, defining the most moral choice as the one which creates the most total happiness/wellbeing for everyone. Thus utilitarianism isn’t about who makes a particular decision; the answer should be the same regardless
Kantianism and utilitarianism have different ways for determining whether an act we do is right or wrong. According to Kant, we should look at our maxims, or intentions, of the particular action. ... On the other hand, Utilitarians believe that we should do actions that produce the greatest amount of happiness..
Deontology asserts that the end and the means by which it is arrived upon are intrinsically linked. A good end will come about as a result of good or right means. Deontology is the opposite of utilitarianism.
Deontological ethics holds that at least some acts are morally obligatory regardless of their consequences for human welfare. Descriptive of such ethics are such expressions as “Duty for duty's sake", “Virtue is its own reward,” and “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”