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A (short) course in philosophy
Transcript of A (short) course in philosophy
I will try to answer in this
(short) course in philosophy One of the many What is philosophy? It's all about who we are, why we are here, how things work, and why things work like that, etc.
We, human beings, want to know as much as possible. Some people think they know everything that they can now. But, philosophers don't think like that, they think that you never now everything.
Or, like Socrates said: Wisest is he who knows he dos not know.
Philosophers want to climb up the fine hairs of the white rabbit. What I mean by that? Haven't I told you? Oh, I'm sorry. A white rabbit (the whole universe) is pulled out of a top hat. Because it's an extremely large rabbit, the trick takes millions of years. All mortals are born at the very tip of the rabbit's fine hairs, where they are in a position to wonder at the impossibility of the trick. When they grow older they work themselves ever deeper into the fur, where they'll stay. But, philosophers want to know how it works, they'll climb up the fine hairs of the white rabbit, so they can see how everything works. The philosopher The normal people The first philosophers,
the natural philosophers The first philosophers mainly thought about one thing, how nature worked. Earlier all was explained with myths, but philosophers doubted of this was really how it worked. Where there really gods like Zeus? You could say that philosophy started with this mythology, because the first philosophers wanted to find rather natural than supernatural explanations.
Right now, I will tell you something about all the different natural philosophers. The philosopher's project Since some philosophers lived in a different age and perhaps in a different culture than ours it's important to try and see what each philosopher's project is. By this I mean that we must try to grasp precisely what it is that each particular philosopher is especially concerned with finding out. One philosopher wants to know how living things work, the other wants to know if there is a God or something like that.
When we have determined what a particular philosopher's project is, it is easier to follow his line of thought, since no one philosopher concerns himself with the whole of philosophy. All the natural philosophers Thales C. 624 B.C.-
C. 546 B.C. Anaximander Anaximenes Parmenides Heraclitus C. 540 B.C.-
C. 480 B.C. Empedocles C. 490 B.C.-
C. 430 B.C. This is the first philosopher we know of. This philosopher from Miletus believed that the source of all things was water. He may have believed that all life originated from water and that all life returns to water again when it dissolves.
Thales is also supposed to have said that 'all things are full of gods.'
We do not know what he meant by that, only thing thing is certain, he was not talking about gods like Zeus. C. 611 B.C.-
C.546 B.C. He also lived in Miletus, at the same time as Thales. But, he thought that our world was only one of a myriad of wordls that evolve and dissolve in something he called the boundless. It's not easy to explain, but perhaps he meant that the substance which is the source of all things had to be something other than the things created. It is clear that the basic stuff couldn't be anything as ordinary as water C. 570 B.C.-
C. 526 B.C. Do you know already? This philosopher is too from Miletus. He thought that the source of all things must be 'air' or 'vapor.' He was familiar with Thales' theory of water. But where does water come from? Anaximenes thought that water was condensed air. And when water is pressed even more, it becomes earth, he thought. C. 540 B.C.- C. 480 B.C. How could things change? that is where 'Eleatics' thought about. One of the most important is Parmenides (from Elea). He thought that everything that exists had always existed. This idea was not alien to the Greeks, who took it more or less granted. But he took the idea further. Of course he realized that nature is in a constant state of flux. His senses told him of course. But, nothing changes he thought, so my sensory perceptions must therefore be unreliable.
He was a rationalist, someone who believes that human reason is the primary source of our knowledge of the world. A contemporary of Parmenides was Heraclitus, a philosopher form Ephesus. He thought that constant change was in fact the basic characteristic of nature. Everything flows he said. Therefore we 'cannot step twice into the same river.' When I step into the river for the second time, neither I or the river are the same. He also pointed out that the world is characterized by opposites. If we were never ill, we would not know what it was to be well. Both good and evil have their inevitable place in the order of things, Heraclitus believed. But in the middle of everything Heraclitus saw an Entity or One-ness. This 'something,' which was the source of everything, he called God or logos (Greek for reason). Parmenides and Heroclitus were the direct opposites of each other. But who was right? It fell to Empedocles from Sicily to lead the way out of the tangle they had gotten themselves into. He thought the were both right in one of their assertions but both wrong in the other. He found that the cause of their disagreement was that both philosophers had assumed the presence of only one element. Empedocles believed that there were four elements: water, earth, fire and air. All natural processes were due to the coming together and separating of these four elements. When a flower or an animal dies, he said, the four elements separate again. Nothing changes and our sensory perceptions are reliable.
Empedocles believed that there were two different forces at work in nature. He called them love and strife. Love binds things together, and strife separates them.
This is also how our eye's work, he thought. Eye's consist of earth, water, fire and air. The earth in my eye perceives what is of the earth in my surroundings, etc. Had my eye lacked any of the four substances, I would not have seen all of nature. C. 500 B.C.-
C. 428 B.C. Anaxagoras This philosopher from Athens was another philosopher who couldn't agree that one particular basic substance might be transformed into everything we see in the natural world. Nor could he accept that earth, air, fire and water can be transformed into blood and bone. Anaxagoras held that nature is built up of an infinite number of minute particles invisible to the eye. He held that something of everything is in everything. He called this minuscule particles which have something of everything in theme seeds. Remember that Empedocles thought that it was 'love' that joined the elements together in whole bodies. Anaxagoras also imagined 'order' as a kind of force, creating animals and humans. He called this force mind or intelligence. C. 460 B.C.- C. 370 B.C. Democritus Have you played with Lego once? If you, did you liked it? Then you make like the philosopher Democritus. This philosopher also thought that nothing really changes. Therefore he assumed that everything was built up of tiny invisible blocks, each of which was eternal and immutable. He called them atoms (Greek for uncuttable). As you see Lego blocks have exactly the same characteristics as atoms. He believed that atoms are firm and solid, but they couldn't be all the same, because if all the atoms would be the same, they couldn't make different substances. When something died and disintegrated, the atoms dispersed and could be used again in new bodies. They move around, but because the had hooks and barbs they could join together to form all the things we see around us. A soul also consists of atoms, round, smooth atoms. And our sense perception also works like that, he thought. If we see a star, star atoms penetrate my eye.
Exactly as Lego blocks are, are atoms, yesterday they where a dragon, tomorrow a castle. Today we know that atoms consist of neutrons, protons and electrons too, one day they will maybe be broken down in even smaller particles, but physicists agree that there should be a limit somewhere. Democritus did not have access to modern electronic apparatus, he only used his mind, who let him no choice. Democritus didn't believe in any force or soul, therefore he was a materialist, someone who only believes in material things. Fate A fortune-teller is someone who tries to foresee something what is quite unforeseeable. And precisely because what they 'see' is so vague, it is hard to repudiate fortune-tellers' claims.
The ancient Greeks believed that they could consult the famous oracle at Delphi about their fate. Apollo, the god of the oracle, spoke through his priestess Pythia, who sat on a stool over a fissure in the earth, from which arose hypnotic vapors, so she could be Apollo's mouthpiece.
But Fate did not just govern the lives of individuals. The Greeks believed that even world history was governed by Fate, as many people still believe today.
The best known Greek historians were Herodotus and Thucydides.
But this is not all, they also believed that sickness could be ascribed to divine intervention, and that the gods could make people well again if they made the appropriate sacrifices.
The founder of Greek medicine is said to have been Hippocrates.
The most essential safeguards against sickness, according to the Hippocratic medical tradition, were moderation and a healthy lifestyle. When sickness occurs, it is a sigh that Nature has gone off course because of physical or mental imbalance. The road to health for everyone is through moderation, harmony and a 'sound mind in a sound body.'
And, even than the pupils where required to take an oath, that they would do everything to make people healthy. Herodotus
484 - 424 B.C. Thucydides
460 - 400 B.C Hippocrates
460 - 370 B.C. Sophists 470 - 399 B.C. In greek times there were Sophists. The world 'sophist' means wise and informed person. They were the teachers in the Greek times. The sophist where too critical about the mythical explanation of things, but they thought that it was stupid to think about these things. Their opinion was that although answers to physical questions may exists, it is stupid to think about, This is called skepticism The Sophist Protagoras said 'Man is the measure of all things'. By that he meant that the question of whether something is right or wrong, good or bad, must always be considered in relation to a person's needs. He was unable to say whether or not the gods or God exists, someone like that is called an agnostic.
The sophists were as a rule men who had traveled widely and seen different forms of government. Because it differed everywhere so widely, the Sophists raised the question about what was natural and what was socially induced. The Sophists created bitter wrangling in for example Athens by pointing out that there were no absolute norms for what was right or wrong. Protagoras
485 - 410 B.C. But, Socrates, on the other hand tried to show that some such norms are in fact absolute and universally valid.
Socrates is possibly the most enigmatic figure in the entire history of philosophy! He never wrote a single line, all that we know of him are the things that are written down by his pupils, for example Plato, who also became one of the greatest philosophers of all time. He wrote a number of Dialogues, in which he uses Socrates as his principal character and mouthpiece. So we don't know what Socrates exactly said, but we know he has inspired thinkers for nearly 2500 years.
The essential nature of Socrates' art lay in the fact that he didn't appear to want to instruct people. What he did? He discussed. He began a conversation by asking a question, as if he knew completely nothing. And, how further the conversation would get, he would generally get his opponents to recognize the weakness of their arguments, and the would finally be obliged to realize what was right and what was wrong. Socrates his mother was a midwife, and he used to say that his art was like the art of the midwife, she does not give birth to a baby, but she is there to help during its delivery. Socrates did the same, he helped them to get the real insight. Socrates Plato 428 - 347 B.C. Aristotle 384 - 322 B.C. Hellenism The cynics The Stoics The Epicureans Neoplatonism Mysticism Right now you're familiar with the foundations
of European philosophy. I shall now tell you what
happened in the long time from Aristotle to the start of the Middle Ages. The term Hellenism refers both to the period of time and the Greek-dominated culture. In this long time, Alexander the Great linked both Egypt and the Orient as far east as India to the Greek civilization. Because all the borders became erased, all the different cultures came together, in many different languages. There was much syncretism, the arising of new religions that could draw on the gods and the beliefs of many old nations. The new religions had one teaching in common, how men could attain salvation from death. Not only religions, but also philosophy was moving in the
direction of salvation and serenity. The philosophy
was inspired mostly by earlier philosophers.
Hellenistic science too, was influenced by
the new cultures, but this happened
mostly in the town of
Alexandria. A course in philosophy you will never forget The story goes that one day Socrates
stood gazing at a stall that sold all kinds
of wares. Finally he said, 'What a lot of things I
don't need!'This statement could be the motto for the Cynic school of philosophy, founded by Antisthenes in Athens around 400 B.C.
The Cynics emphasized that true happiness is not found in external advantages such as material luxury, political power, or good health. And because happiness does not consist in benefits of this kind, it is within everyone's reach, and once you have it, it never can be lost.
The best known of the Cynics was Diogenes, who reputedly lived in a barrel and owned nothing but a cloak, a stick and a bread bag. One day he was sitting beside his barrel enjoying the sun, he was visited by Alexander the Great, who asked if he
could do something for Diogenes. "Yes, stand to one side, you're blocking the sun."
The Cynics believed that people did not
need to be concerned about
their own health. The Cynics were instrumental in the
development of the Stoic school of philosophy, which
grew up in Athens around 300 B.C. Its founder was Zeno,
who came originally from Cyprus and joined the Cynics in
Athens after being shipwrecked.
Like Heraclitus, the Stoics believed that everyone was a part of the same common sense. They thought that each person was like a world in miniature. This led to the thought that there exists a universal rightness, the so called natural law. And because this natural law was based on timeless human and universal reason, everyone was equal.
The Stoics also erased the conflict between spirit and matter. There is only one nature, they averred. This kind of idea is called monism (in contrast to Plato's clear dualism). As true children of their time, the Stoics were distinctly cosmopolitan, in that they were more receptive to contemporary culture than the Cynics.
The Stoics, moreover, emphasized that all natural processes, such as sickness and death, follow the unbreakable laws of nature. Man must therefore learn to accept his destiny.
Nothing happens accidentally. Even today we use
the term 'stoic calm' about someone who does
not let his feelings take over. Both the Cynics and the Stoics interpreted
Socrates his philosophy as meaning that man had
to free himself from material luxuries. But Socrates his
pupil Aristippus believed that the aim of life was to attain
the highest possible sensory enjoyment.
Around the year 300 B.C. Epicurus founded a school of philosophy in Athens. The developed the pleasure ethic of Aristippus and combined it with the atom theory of Democritus. The story goes that Epicureans lived in a garden. Above the entrance to this garden there is said to have hung a notice saying, 'Stranger, here you will live well. Here pleasure is the highest good.' Epicurus emphasized that the pleasurable results of an action must always be weighed against its possible side effects. Epicurus also believed that a pleasurable result in the short term must be weighed against the possibility of a greater, more lasting, or more intense pleasure in the long term. Pleasure does not necessarily mean sensual pleasure, but values such as friendship and the appreciation of art also count. Fear of the gods brought also many people to the garden of Epicurus, and here the atom theory was used. When you die, your 'soul atoms' disperse in all directions.
Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.
They also had four medicinal herbs:
The gods are not to be feared. Death is nothing to worry about.
Good is easy to attain, The fearful is easy to endure.
Their motto was:
'Live for the moment!' As I showed you, Cynicism, Stoicism, and Epicureanism
all had their roots in the teaching of Socrates, and they've
also used pre-Socratics. But, the most remarkable philosophic
trend in the late Hellenistic period was first and foremost inspired by Plato's philosophy. We therefore call it Neoplatonism. The most important figure was Plotinus, who studied philosophy in Alexandria but later settled in Rome.
Remember Plato's doctrine of ideas, and the way he distinguished between the world of ideas and the sensory world. Our body consisted of earth and dust, but we had an immortal soul. Plotinus was also familiar with similar ideas from Asia.
Plotinus believed that the world is a span between two poles. At one end is the divine light which he calls the One, and at the other end there is no light. Not darkness, Plotinus's point is that it is just the absence of light. According to Plotinus, the soul is illuminated by the light from the One, while matter is the darkness that has no real existence. But the forms in nature have a faint glow of the One.
I am saying that there is something of the divine mystery in everything that exists. We can see it sparkle in a sunflower or a poppy. We sense more of this unfathomable mystery in a goldfish swimming in a bowl. But we are closest to God in our own soul. Only than we can experience that we ourselves are that divine mystery.
It is like Plato's myth of the cave: the closer we get to the mouth of the cave, the closer we get to that which all existence springs
from. On rare occasions in his life, Plotinus experienced a
fusion of hes soul with God. We usually call this a
mystical experience. Let us take a look at
some of these features. Plotinus
270 B.C. A mystical experience is an experience of
merging with God or the 'cosmic spirit.' Many religions
emphasize the gulf between God and Creation, but the
mystic experiences no such gulf. He or she has experienced
being 'one with God' or 'merging' with Him. The idea is that what we usually cal 'I' is not the true 'I'. In short glimpses we can experience and identification with a greater 'I'. Some mystics call it God, others call it the cosmic spirit, Nature, or the Universe. An Indian mystic once expressed it in this way: 'When I was, God was not. When God is, I am no more.' The Christian mystic Agelus Silesius put it another way: 'Every drop becomes the sea when it flows ocean ward, just as as last the soul ascends and thus becomes the Lord'. I know this doesn't sound nice. But the point is that what you lose is so very much less than what you gain. You lose yourself only in the form you have at the moment, but at the same time you realize that you are something much bigger. You are the universe. In fact, you are the cosmic spirit itself. It is you who are God. Mystical trends are found in all the great world religions.
In Western mysticism, that is, within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the mystic emphasizes that his meeting is with a personal God.
But in Eastern Mysticism, that is, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese
Religion, it is more usual to emphasize that the mystic
experiences a total fusion with God
or the 'cosmic spirit' The Indo- Europeans The Semites originated in the
Arabian Peninsula, but they also migrated to different parts of the world. All three Western
religions- Judaism, Christianity and islam- share a Semitic background. The Muslims' holy scripture, the Koran, and the Old Testament were both written in the Semitic family of languages. And, the Semites believed in one God (monotheism). And they also believed in a linear view of history. From the beginning to Judgement day. And, because God influenced everything, they've written everything down. The Semites made no pictures of their gods. The Old Testament commands that people should make no pictures of their gods. Otherwise,
you would act like God, because you've created
something. But, the Christian churches are full
of pictures of God or Jesus. This is just an
example of how much Christianity
is influenced by the Greco-
Roman World I don't want to
become a religion teacher,
but let us just make a quick summary
of Christianity's Jewish background. It all
began when God created the world. After that,
mankind began to rebel against God, and Death came into the world. Than God made a covenant with Abraham and his seed. This was renewed when Moses was given the Ten Commandments. About 1,000 B.C. we hear about Saul, David and Solomon, the three great kings of Israel. The kings where chosen by the people. They received the title Messiah, which means 'the anointed one.' The king could be called the 'Son of God' and the country could be called the 'Kingdom of God'. Around 750 B.C. there came prophets who said that God was angry at the people and would held a Day of Judgment, we call them Doomsday prophecies. There were also prophets who said that God would send them a prince of peace. We call prophecies like these
prophecies of redemption. So, the people lived happy
under King David. But, when this ended, there
came prophets who said that there would
be a 'Son of God'. Jesus Paul By Indo-European we mean all the nations
and cultures that use Indo-European languages.
This covers all European nations except Lapp, Finnish,
Estonian, Hungarian or Basque. Also most Iranian and Indian languages belong to this family. And, the same languages often lead to the same ideas. This is why we speak of the Indo-European culture. Their culture was influenced most by their believe in many gods (polytheism). The names of these Gods recur throughout the whole Indo-European area. Wisdom= wissen, viten, which has the same root as vidya, idéa and video.
The Indo-Europeans had an cyclic view of history, this means the belief that history goes in cycles, just as the seasons. So, there is no beginning and no end.
Both Hinduism and Buddhism are Indo-European in
origin. So is Greek Philosophy. In both we find
that the deity is present in all things
and in both there is mysticism. The Semites Two cultures So along comes Jesus of Nazareth,
he was not the only man ever to have come
forward as the promised 'Messiah.' He also used
the words 'Son of God' and 'Kingdom of God', by this he maintains a link with the old prophets. But, he distinguished himself from the other 'messiahs' that he made clear he wasn't a political rebel. His mission was greater, he preached salvation for everyone. He addressed God as father, what was totally unheard by the Jewish community at that time.
Jesus said that you must love your neighbor as thyself. Not only you neighbor, but also your enemies. And he also said we can't earn God's mercy. God's mercy is boundless, but you have to pray for his forgiveness. This is all I want to say about him right
now. And, I want to end with showing again the similarity between Jesus and Socrates. Both died
for what they believed in, both were shown
as the most righteous person, and both
still influence the world today A few days after Jesus had been crucified and buried,
rumors spread that he had risen from the grave. He thereby
proved that he wasn't ordinary, that he truly was the 'Son of God.'
So, we could say that the Christian Church was found on Easter Morning with this rumors. And this is already established by Paul: 'And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain and your faith is also vain'. Now all mankind could hope for the resurrection of the body, for it was to save us that Jesus was crucified. But, remember that there was NO question of the 'immortality of the soul.'
A few years after the death of Jesus, the Pharisee Paul converted to Christianity. Through his many missionary journeys across the whole of the Greco-Roman world he made Christianity a worldwide religion. We hear of this in the Acts of the Apostles.
He then turns up in Athens. He visited the Jewish synagogue in Athens and conversed with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers.
Paul in Athens! Christianity has begun to penetrate the Greco-Roman world as something else, something completely different from Epicurean, Stoic, of Neoplatonic philosophy. But Paul nevertheless finds some common ground in this culture. He explained that God is
a personal God who intervenes in the course of history and dies on the Cross for the sake of mankind. So, Paul continued his
missionary activities. A few decades after the death of
Jesus, Christianity is already in all important Greek
and Roman cities. And after 3 to 4 hundred
years in the whole Hellenistic world. It was not only as a missionary
that Paul came to have a fundamental
significance for Christianity. He also had great
influence within Christian congregations. There was
a widespread need for spiritual guidance. One important question in the early years after Jesus was whether non-Jews could become Christians without first becoming Jews. Paul believed it was unnecessary.
However, this was not the only problem. There were more religions at that time, and it was necessary for the church to step forward with a concise summary of the Christian doctrine. Therefore the first Creed was established. One such central tenet was that Jesus was both God and man. He wasn't a demigods. He was God who became man. The church taught that Jesus was 'perfect God, perfect man'.
Right now we are going to step out of antiquity. Almost one thousand years have passed since the early philosophers, and ahead of us we have the Middle
Ages, which also lasted for about a
thousand years. The Middle Ages The Middle Ages
started at 4o0 and went on
until 1400 A.D. The Middle Ages
actually means the period between two
other epochs. The expression arose during the Renaissance. The Dark Ages, as they were also called, were seen then as one interminable thousand-year-long night between antiquity and the Renaissance. Right now the Middle Ages are considered as a period of germination and growth. For example, the school system was developed in the Middle Ages. And, Christianity really started to grow during the Middle Ages. But, the fist centuries were really a cultural decline. The Roman empire ended, so did its
economy, cities, libraries, etc. In antiquity
Rome had a million inhabitants,
in 600 it had 40,000 The Western Empire fell in
476, and the Eastern Empire fell in
1453. The Roman Empire was gradually
divided into 3 different cultures. In Western
Europe we had a Latinized Christian culture with Rome as its capital. In Eastern Europe we had a Greek Christian culture with Constantinople as its capital, which would be called by it's Greek name Byzantium. And North Africa and the Middle East developed into an Arabic-speaking Muslim culture. It is interesting to know that Alexandria, the center of science, was inherited by the Arabs. But now philosophy. Neoplatonism was mainly in the west, Plato in the east and Aristotle to the Arabs in the south. But, in the end of the Middle Ages all these streams came
together again in Northern Italy. And that
was the beginning of the Renaissance. The medieval philosophers took it almost for granted that Christianity was true, their only
question was whether we must simply believe the Christian revelation or whether we can approach the Christian truths with the help of reason. First we'll go to St. Augustine. First he was a Manichaean, than he was influenced by Stoic philosophy, but his principal leanings were much towards Neoplatonism. And he staid that, although he was a Christian bishop too. To understand this you need to know there was no dramatic break between Greek philosophy and Christianity at that time. He himself believed he was hundred percent Christian. He thought Plato knew of the Old
Testament (which is highly improbable), let
us rather say that St. Augustine
'christianized' Plato How Plato his ideas
can go together with St. Augustine?
Well, God created the world out of the void,
and that was a Biblical idea. And Platonic ideas were
already in God before he created the world. St. Augustine
also used Neoplatonism in his view of evil. He believed, like Plotinus, that evil is the absence of God. This indicates how St. Augustine and many other Church Fathers brought Greek and Jewish thoughts together. He also believed that man has a divine soul, although not completely. He has a material body, but he also has a soul which can know God. And, when we die, God can decide that certain people should be saved from perdition. He pointed out that we are entirely at his mercy. But you need to understand, we should live our own life, we have a free will, but God has foreseen how we will live. He was merely expounding the Beblical doctrine of salvation and damnation, and this he explained in a work called the 'City of God'. This expression comes from the Bible. St. Augustine believed there is a struggle between the Kingdom of God (present in the church) and the World of God(Present in the State). So, you can only obtain salvation through the church. In one thing there was no Plato, in how he had history. To him,
history is necessary for the enlightenment of man and
the destruction of evil, God needs it to make his
Kingdom of God. Aquinas tried to prove
there is only one truth. So, when
Aristotle shows us something our reason
tells us is true, it is not in conflict with Christian
teaching. For example, the kind of truths Aristotle
refers to when he describes the plan and the animal kingdom.
Another other aspect of the truth we know through the Bible. These two aspect of the truth overlap at significant points. They tell us the same thing. They also tell us that there is a God. Aristotle thought for everything was a formal cause. So, God could be the formal cause for the world to exist. And of course we know it from the Bible. And, there are two ways to live a good live, by the Bible and by reason. Now just some other things about how Aquinas adopted Aristotle's philosophy in areas it didn't collide with the Church's theology. You know Aristotle his scale, that there was a God above mankind. To Aquinas, there was one in between, the angels. Man, have a body and sensory organs, but also intelligence, angels have no such body, that's why they have spontaneous and immediate intelligence. And because they have no body, they can't die. But, they aren't everlasting like God, because he made them. So above the angels God is. And, to end, I tell something bad you know already. Aquinas had the same bad view on woman as Aristotle had. He thought that children
only inherit the father's characteristics, since a woman
was passive and receptive, while the man was active and creative. And this was 'supported' by the Bible,
because that tells us that woman was made
out of Adam's rib. St. Augustine 354-430 1225-1274 St. Thomas
Aquinas Right now we're in the High Gothic period. The
influence of the Arabs of Spain began to make itself felt.
Arab scholars began to arrive in Northern Italy. Many of Aristotle's writings became known and were translated. Aristotle could no longer be ignored, but when should one attend to Aristotle the philosopher and when should one stick to the Bible? The greatest philosopher of this period was St. Thomas Aquinas. We call him a philosopher, but he was just as much a theologian. Briefly we can say that he christianized Aristotle in the same way as St. Augustine did with Plato. Better said, he didn't christianized, but he cleared away all threats to Christianity. He created the great synthesis between faith and knowledge. Aquinas believed in the existence of a number of 'natural theological truths.' By that he meant truths that could be reached both through Christian faith and through our innate or natural reason. For example, the truth that there is a God. One through faith and the Christian
Revelation, and the other goes through reason and the
senses. Aquinas his point was there shouldn't be
any conflict between a philosopher and the
Christian doctrine. Not long after St. Thomas
Aquinas, cracks began to appear in the
unifying culture of Christianity. Philosophy
and science broke away more and more from the theology of the Church, thus enabling religious life to attain a freer relationship to reasoning. Now the way was open to both new scientific methods and a new religious fervor. The basis was created for two powerful upheavals in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, namely the Renaissance and the Reformation. Renaissance means rebirth, and that really happened. It almost became a popular pastime to dig up ancient sculptures and scrolls just as it became fashionable to learn Greek. It was thought that human were only human when they
were educated, otherwise you're just a
stupid naked ape. I think you think
right now: "But than the moon
would once fall on the earth!!" This doesn't
happen because once in the process when the
solar system began, the moon was hurled outward
form the earth. In the galaxy there is nothing to stop the power, so it will go on. But, there is gravitation, so the moon can't leave us. Both forces are constant, and both work simultaneously. Therefore the moon will continue to orbit the earth. This simplicity was Newton's whole point. He demonstrated that a few natural laws apply to the whole universe. He had used two natural laws which Galileo had already proposed. One was the law of inertia, which Newton expressed thus: 'A body remains in its state of rest or rectilinear motion until it is compelled to change that state by a force impressed on it.' The other law was also by Galileo: 'When two forces work on a body simultaneously, the body will move on an elliptical path.' They travel
in elliptical orbits because there are two unequal forces at work. First the movement they had
when the solar system was formed, and
second the gravity. This new world
view was in many ways a large
change. Especially the church put up a
massive resistance. Because, where is God in
all this stuff. But, that is not all. The people also
disliked that they were less special. They just lived on
a random planet in the universe. But there were also people who liked it. They saw it like this, right now everyone can be the center of the universe. The Renaissance resulted in a new religiosity. The new view on woman had a large effect on things. The Bible was translated, your individual relationship was now more important than God his relationship to the church as an organization. There were many reformers: Martin Luther, Erasmus of Rotterdam, etc. We shall have a look at Luther. Luther wanted to return to early Christianity as in the New Testament, back to the source. He translated the Bible to German. A bit becoming your own priest. Through Luther Man received "free" redemption through faith alone. This was a belief he arrived at by reading the Bible. So, in that point he was a humanist. But, he had
a much more negative view of man than for
example Erasmus of Rotterdam.
There were many
discoveries that made us human.
The compass, who made it easier to
navigate, so the basis for great voyages of
discovery. Firearms gave the Europeans military
superiority over American and Asiatic cultures.
And printing spread many Renaissance humanists' new ideas. This all began with changes. The subsistence economy changed to a monetary economy. Cities developed. A middle class arose which developed a certain freedom with regard to the basic conditions of life. It was like how it went with the greek 2000 years earlier. And now the three cultures came together again too, through a closer contact with the Arabs in Spain and the Byzantine culture in the east. It resulted in a new view of mankind. Man was considered infinitely great and valuable. Earlier the midpoint of everything was God, now is was man himself. It also lead to individualism, we are unique individuals. This idea lead to an almost unrestrained worship of genius.
People once again began to dissect the dead to discover
how the body was constructed. It was imperative both
for medical science and for art. Not only there,
but everywhere! All flourished as never
before. It was high time again Renaissance & Reformation There was also a new
scientific method. Everything was
now investigated with our own senses. Now
it was said that every investigation of natural
phenomena must be based on observation, experience
and experiment. We call this the empirical formula. One example is Nicolaus Copernicus. He published a book that claimed that not the sun turns around the earth, but that it is vice versa. He thought this was possible from the observations of the heavenly bodies that existed. Johannes Kepler had to change something. Copernicus said that the planets move in circular orbits, but they circle in elliptical orbits around the sun. He knew this by observing. Galileo Galilei also observed, and he noticed something else. The Law of Inertia. 'A body remains in the state which it is in, at rest or in motions, as long as no external fore compels it to change its state.' Then along comes Isaac Newton. He could explain why the planets moved around the sun. Kepler had already pointed out there should be a force that caused the heavenly bodies to attract each other. Galileo rejected the idea that the forces of gravitation could work over great distances. Than came Newton. He formulated the Law of Universal Gravitation. This
law states that every object attract every other object
with a force that increases in proportion to the size
of the objects and decreases in proportion
to the distance between the objects. We are going to talk about the seventeenth
century, or what we generally refer to as the
Baroque period. The word baroque comes from a
word that was used to describe a pearl or irregular shape. Irregularity was typical for Baroque art, which was much richer in contrastive forms than the more harmonious Renaissance art. The whole Baroque was filled with contrasts. On one hand the Renaissance's optimism, and on the other hand the many who sought the opposite extreme in a life of religious seclusion and self-denial. One of the favorite sayings was "seize the day', or "Remember that you must die". In many things the Baroque period was characterized by vanity, but at the same time they were concerned with the ephemeral nature of things. There were much wars
between Protestants and Catholics. There was also a
really large difference between the classes.
The political situation was typified by
intrigue, plotting and
assassinations Their philosophy was
also characterized by powerful
struggles between diametrically opposed
modes of thought. Some philosophers believed
that what exists is at bottom spiritual in nature.
This standpoint is called idealism. The opposite viewpoint is called materialism. By this is meant a philosophy which holds that all real things derive from concrete material substances. Both views you find everywhere, but they're never so present as in the Baroque period. Materialism was constantly nourished by the new sciences. Newton showed that the same laws apply everywhere. Everything was governed by the same mechanisms. A view like this is called the mechanistic world view. Some people
did it a bit further: determinism, that everything that happens is predetermined. The two
greatest philosophers in the Baroque
period were talking about these
things. Descartes and
Spinoza. The Baroque period also gave life to modern theater, with all its forms of scenery and theatrical machinery. Shakespeare also lived for a part in this period. In his work you also notice that it will once end. His most famous line: "To be or not to be, that is the question", you should read like this. One day we are walking around on the earth, and the next day we are dead and gone. When the Baroque poets were not comparing life to a stage, they were comparing life to a dream. The Baroque Baruch Spinoza René Descartes lived in a number
of different European countries at various
periods of his life. Even as a young man he had
a strong desire to achieve insight into the nature of man and the universe. But after studying philosophy he became increasingly convinced of his own ignorance. He was convinced that certain knowledge is only attainable through reason. We can never trust what the old books tell us. We cannot even trust what our senses tell us. We can only trust our reason. As you see there was a direct line from Socrates and Plato via St. Augustine to Descartes. They were all rationalists, convinced that reason was the only path to knowledge. After comprehensive studies, Descartes came to the conclusion that the knowledge handed down from the Middle Ages was not necessarily reliable. So, he started his own philosophy. He traveled around Europe, in the way Socrates talked to people in Athens. in 1629 he went to
Holland, where he lived for almost twenty years working on his mathematical and
philosophic writings. One can say without
exaggeration that Descartes was
the father of modern philosophy. Descartes
was the first significant philosophical system-
builder, followed by Spinoza and Leibniz, Locke and Berkeley, Hume and Kant. By philosophical system I mean a philosophy that is constructed from the ground up and that is concerned with finding explanations for all the central questions of philosophy. Not until the seventeenth century did philosophers make any attempt to assemble the new ideas into a clarified philosophical system. Descartes his work was the forerunner of the most important project in the coming generations. His main concern was what we can know, certain knowledge. The other great question was the relationship between body and mind. For the question about knowledge, many contemporaries voiced a total skepticism. They thought that man
should accept that he knew nothing. We can
again draw a parallel with Socrates. The new physics raised the
question of the nature of matter, and
thus what determines the physical processes
of nature. The mechanistic world view became really
popular. But the relationship between body and soul
became a question. The reason was that the motions of all material objects, were explained as involving mechanical processes. But man's soul could surely not be part of this body machinery. Descartes was convinced that there was a sharp division between spirit and matter, exactly as Plato thought about it. But Plato had no answer on how the mind influences the body. In his book Discourse on Method, Descartes raises the question of the method the philosopher must use to solve a philosophical problem. Descartes also thought that we cannot accept anything as being true unless we can clearly perceive it. To achieve this you must break down a compound problem into as many single factors as possible. Every single thought must be weighed and measured. Descartes wanted to go from simple to complex. And finally it would be necessary
to ensure by constant enumeration and control that nothing was left out. Then, a philosophical
conclusion would be within reach. Descartes solved
philosophical problems in the way
you solve math problems. He did that
because he wanted strong foundations for his
philosophy. He wanted to use fresh new materials in order to be sure his new thought construction would hold. Descartes wasn't sure if he could trust his senses, maybe they're deceiving us. When we dream, we think it is real. What separates our waking feelings from our dream feelings. Descartes tried to work from this point. Something struck him: one thing should be true, that he had to be thinking, so he was a thinking being. He said: "I think, therefore I am". The same method he used for something else, he had a clear idea of a perfect entity, he had that as long as he knew, so it couldn't have com from himself. The idea of a perfect entity cannot have originated from one who was himself imperfect. So, the idea should come from itself, in other words God. So, God exists. You can't have a circle were not all
the points of the circle are equidistant from the center. Nor can you have a perfect entity
that lacks its most important
property, existence. Descartes divided
characteristics in two groups:
quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative properties are things that are measurable such
as length. Qualitative properties differ per person, it are properties such as color, smell and taste. He divided reality in two forms: thought (mind) and extension (matter). The mind is purely conscious, it takes up no room in space and can therefore not be subdivided into smaller parts. Matter, however, is purely extension, it takes up room in space and can therefore always be subdivided into smaller and smaller parts. So, Descartes is a dualist, which means that he effects a sharp division between the reality of thought and extended reality. Animals belong completely to matter, and are therefore autonomous. But humans have also mind, and can
think rationally. Even with a strong headache we know the angles of a triangle will be
180 degrees. I'm sorry, but this is
all about Descartes. René Descartes spinoza belonged to the
Jewish community of Amsterdam,
but he was excommunicated for heresy.
He was the first to apply what we call a
historico-critical interpretation of the Bible. He
denied that the Bible was inspired by God down to the last letter. When we read the Bible, he said, we must continually bear in mind the period it was written in. A "critical" reading, such as the one he proposed, revealed a number of inconsistencies in the texts. But beneath the surface of the Scriptures in the New Testament is Jesus, who could well be called God's mouthpiece. The teachings of Jesus therefore represented a liberation from the orthodoxy of Judaism. Jesus preached a "religion of reason" which
valued love higher than all else. Spinoza interpreted this as meaning both love of God and love of humanity. Nevertheless, Christianity had
also become set in its own rigid
dogmas and outer rituals These things weren't easy
to swallow. When things got really tough.
All this things lead to one thing: a quiet and
secluded life devoted entirely to philosophy. He
earned a meager living by polishing lenses, which is
almost something symbolic. A philosopher must help people to see life in a new perspective. He tried to see things from the perspective of eternity. He said that everything is nature. He identified nature with God. He said God is all, and all is God. He was a pantheist. To Spinoza, God did not create the world in order to stand outside it. No, God is the world. He explained all his reasoning in his book: "Ethics Geometrically Demonstrated." When Spinoza uses the word ethics, he means both the art of living and moral conduct. The geometrical method refers to the terminology he used for his formulations. Descartes used mathematics. Spinoza was part of the same rationalistic tradition. He wanted his ethics to show that human life is subject to the universal laws of nature. We must
therefore free ourselves from our feelings and
our passions. Only then will we find
contentment and be happy,
he believed. You remember that Descartes
believed that reality consisted of two
completely separate substances, namely thought
and extension. The word "substance" can be interpreted
as "that which something consists of," of that which something basically is or can be reduced to. Descartes operated then with tow
of these substances. Thought or extension. However, Spinoza rejected this split. He believed that there was only one substance. Everything that exists can be reduced to one single reality which he simply called Substance. At times he calls it God or nature. He reduces nature and the condition of all things to one single substance. When Spinoza uses the word "nature," he doesn't only mean extended nature. By Substance, God, or nature, he means everything that exists, including all things spiritual. So, both thought and extension. Spinoza called the qualities thought and extension God's attributes. God, or nature, manifests itself either as thought or as extension. It may well be that God has infinitely more attributes than thought and extension, but these are the only two that are known to man. Everything in nature is either thought or extension. The various phenomena we come across in everyday life, such as a flower or a poem, are different modes of the attribute of thought or extension. A
"mode" is the particular manner which Substance, God, or nature assumes. A flower is a mode of the attribute of extension, and
a poem about the same flower is a mode of the attribute
of thought. But both are basically the expression of
Substance, God, or nature. An example could be handy, I think.
When you get a pain in your stomach, what is
it that has a pain? Yes, you. And when you later
recollect that you once had a pain in your stomach,
what is it that thinks? Yes, you again. So you are a single person that has a stomach-ache one minute and is in a thoughtful mood the next. Spinoza maintained that all material things and things that happen around us are an expression of God or nature. So it follows that all thoughts that we think are also God's or nature's thoughts. For everything is One. There is only one God, one nature, or one Substance. You can decide for yourself, but only according to your nature. You can move your hand whenever you want, but your hand can't jump off you body. Spinoza believed that God, or nature, or the laws of nature, is the inner cause of everything that happens. God is not a puppeteer who pulls at the strings, he controls the world through natural laws. A bit like the Stoics, who also said that
everything happens through necessity. You should
not get carried away by your feelings.
So, I think I've told enough right
now about Spinoza. Descartes and Spinoza had one
important thing in common, namely, that
they were both rationalists. Someone who believes strongly in the importance of reason. This kind of
thinking was typical for philosophy of the seventeenth century. It was also firmly rooted in the Middle Ages, and we remember it from Socrates and Plato too. But in the eighteenth century there came empiricism. This means that we derive everything from the senses. Aristotle said something like this too: "There is nothing in the mind except what was first in the senses." We have no innate ideas or conceptions about the world we are brought into before we have seen it. When we, for instance, use words like God, eternity or substance, reason is being misused because nobody has esperienced God.The most important empiricists were Locke, Berkeley and Hume, who were all British. The leading rationalists were Descartes (French), Spinoza
(Dutch) and Leibniz (German). So, we usually make
a distinction between British empiricism and Continental rationalism. The first empiricist was the
Englishman John Locke. His main work
was the Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
In it he tried to clarify two questions. First, where
we get our ideas from, and secondly, whether we can rely on what our senses tell us. We'll take these questions one at a time. Locke's claim is that all our thought and ideas issue from that which we have taken in through the senses. Before we sense anything, the mind is as bare and empty as an unfurnished room. But then we begin to sense things. In this way what Locke called simple ideas of sense arise. But the mind does not just passively receive information from outside it. Some activity happens in the mind as well. The single sense ideas are worked on by thinking, reasoning, believing, and doubting, thus giving rise to what he calls reflection. He distinguished between sensation and reflection. The
mind is not merely a passive receiver. It classifies and processes all sensations as they come
streaming in. Locke also held that
certain ethical principles applied
to everyone, he believed in the idea of a
natural right, and that was a rationalistic
feature of his thought. An equally rationalistic feature was that Locke believed that it was inherent in human reason to be able to know that God exists. He believed that the idea of God was born of human reason. That was a rationalistic feature. I should add that Locke spoke out for intellectual liberty and tolerance. He was also preoccupied with equality of the sexes, maintaining that the subjugation of women to men was "man made." Therefore it could be altered. He had a great
influence on John Stuart Mill, who in turn
had a key role in the struggle for
equality of the sexes. John Locke Locke emphasized that the
only things we can perceive are simple sensations. When I eat an apple, I do not sense
the whole apple in one single sensation. I receive a whole series of simple sensations. Only after I have eaten an apple many times do I think: Now I am eating an apple. As Locke would say, we have formed a complex idea of an apple. Locke distinguished between primary and secondary qualities. By primary qualities he meant extension, weight, motion and number, and so on. We can be sure about these things. By secondary qualities Locke means the qualities you can't be sure about: sweet or sour, green or
rod, hot or cold, etc. You can think an apple is
sour or sweet, but an round apple is always round. A car is either moving or it's
stationary. Berkeley would be the
next philosopher, but he is in a
category of his own in many ways,
we'll first concentrate on David Hume. He
stands out as the most important of the empiricists. He is also significant as the person who set the great philosopher Immanuel Kant on the road to his philosophy. Hume lived in the Age of Enlightenment at the same time as great French thinkers like Voltaire and Rousseau, and he traveled widely in Europe before returning to Edinburgh. His main work, "A Treatise of Human Nature" was published when Hume
was twenty-eight, but he claimed that he got the idea for the book when he
was only fifteen. As an empiricist, Hume
took it upon himself to clean up all
the things that earlier philosophers had
invented. Hume proposed the return to our
spontaneous experience of the world. No philosopher "will ever be able to take us behind the daily experiences or give us rules of conduct that are different from those we get through reflections on everyday life" he said. I'll give an example: angels. I think you've never seen such a creature, but that you've seen a human figure and wings. According to Hume, an angel is a complex idea. It consists of two different experiences which are not in fact related, but which nevertheless are associated in man's imagination. We must tidy up all our thoughts and ideas. For as Hume put it: If we take in our hands any volume... let us ask, "Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact
and existence?" No. Commit it then to the flames,
for it can contain nothing but sophistry
and illusion. Hume begins by establishing
that man has two different types of
perceptions, namely impressions and ideas. By
impressions he means the immediate sensation of
external reality. By ideas he means the recollection of
such impressions. Hume emphasizes further that both an impression and an idea can be either simple or complex. impression. Hume's point is that we sometimes form complex ideas for which there is no corresponding object in the physical world. We've already talked about angels. Hume wanted to investigate every single idea to see whether it was compounded in a way that does not correspond to reality. First of all he had to find out which "single ideas" went into the making of a complex idea. Hume emphasizes that all the things once should have entered our mind. We can't imagine streets of gold without having seen gold. He did this too with God. Let us imagine God as an intelligent, wise and good being. We
have thus a complex idea that consists of something
intelligent, something wise, and something good. If
we had never known these things, we would
never have such an idea of God. Hume was not a Christian,
neither was he a confirmed atheist.
He was what we call an agnostic. Someone
who holds that the existence of god can neither
be proved nor disproved. When Hume was dying a friend
asked him if he believed in life after death. He is said to have answered: "It is also possible that a knob of coal placed upon the fire will not burn." He rejected neither faith in Christianity nor faith in miracles. That didn't mean that he believed in them, more the opposite. He rejected miracles because he had never experienced any. But he had not experienced that they couldn't happen either. According to Hume, a miracle is against the laws of nature. But it is meaningless to allege that we have experienced the laws of nature. Hume used two billiard balls for his example. When a ball hits a ball that's at rest, all the times we know the other ball moves. You have not experienced the actual cause of it
beginning to roll. You have experienced that the one event comes after the other, but you have not experienced that the other event happens
because of the first one. When we speak of the
laws of nature, we are actually
speaking of what we expect, rather than
what is reasonable. The laws of nature are neither reasonable nor unreasonable, they simply are. Hume
did not deny the existence of unbreakable natural laws, but he held that because we are not in a position to experience the natural laws themselves, we can easily come to the wrong conclusions. You can easily think lightning is the cause of thunder, because thunder comes after the lightning. But, actually they both happen at the same time, through an electric discharge. Hume also rebelled against rationalist thought in the area of ethics. They held that the ability to distinguish between right and wrong is inherent in human reason. But according to Hume, it is not reason that determines what we say and do. Our sentiments decide you to help someone in need, not your reason. According to Hume, everybody has a feeling for other people's welfare. So we all have a
capacity for compassion. But it has nothing to do with reason. I hope you understand this all,
and otherwise, I'm sorry. David Hume George Berkeley To Berkeley, everything
we see and feel is an effect of God's
power. For god is intimately present in our
consciousness, causing to exist for us the
profusion of ideas and perceptions that we are
constantly subject to. The whole world around us and our whole life exist in God. He is the one cause of everything that exists. We exist only in the mind of God.. So, "to be or not to be" is not the whole question. The question is also who we are. Are we really human beings of flesh and blood? Does our world consist of real things, or are we encircled by the mind. Material reality was not the only thing Berkeley was questioning. He was also questioning whether "time" and "space" had any absolute or independent existence. Our own perception of time and space can also be merely figments of the mind
A week or two for us need not be a weer or two
for God. This are the main things
about Berkeley. George Berkeley was an
Irish bishop who lived from 1685 to 1753.
He felt that current philosophies and science
were a threat to the Christian way of life, that the
all-pervading materialism, not least, represented a threat to the Christian faith in God as creator and preserver all nature. And yet Berkeley was the most consistent of the empiricists. Berkeley claimed that worldly things are indeed as we perceive them, but they are not "things". You remember Locke his division of qualities, that we cannot say an apple is green and sour (secondary qualities), but we can say it is ... kg. Locke believed,
just like Descartes and Spinoza, that the material world is a reality. And this is just what Berkeley questioned, and he did so by the logic of empiricism. Berkeley said the
only things that exist are those
we perceive. But we do not perceive
"material" or "matter". We do not perceive
things as tangible objects. To assume that what we perceive has its own underlying substance is jumping
to conclusions. We have absolutely no experience on which to base such a claim. When you thump your fist hard on the table, you feel something hard, not the actual matter in the table. You can dream you're hitting something hard, but there isn't anything hard in a dream, is there? Berkeley his explanation was a "spirit." He thought all our ideas have a cause beyond our consciousness, but that this cause is not of a material nature. It is spiritual. According to Berkeley, my own soul can be the cause of my own ideas, just as when I dream, but only another will or spirit can be the cause of the ideas that make up the "corporeal"
world. Everything is due to that spirit which is
the cause of "everything in everything" and
which "all things consist in," he said. That
spirit is the Christian God. The Enlightenment Opposition to authority The
enlightenment movement Return to nature Human rights After Hume, the
next great philosopher was
the German, Immanuel Kant. But
France also had many important thinkers in the eighteenth century. We could say that the philosophical center of gravity in Europe in the eighteenth century was in England in the first half, in France in the middle, and in Germany toward the end of it. I will ourline some of the ideas that many of the French Enlightenment philosophers had in common. The important names are Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau,
but there were many, many others.
I shall concentrate on
seven points. Many of the French Enlightenment
philosophers visited England, which was in
many ways more liberal than their home country.
They were inspired by British philosophy, in particular
by Locke and his political philosophy. Once back in France, they became increasingly opposed to the old authority. They thought it was essential to remain skeptical of all inherited truths, the idea being that the individual must find his own answer to every question.
Hume died in 1776, twenty years after Montesquieu, and only two years before Voltaire and Rousseau, who both died in 1778. But all three had been to England, and were familiar with the philosophy of Locke. You may recall that Locke was not consistent in his empiricism. He believed that faith in God and certain moral norms were inherent in human reason. This idea is the core of the French Enlightenment. Like the humanists of antiquity most of
the Enlightenment philosophers had an unshakable faith
in human reason. They saw it as their duty to
lay a foundation for morals, religion and
ethics in accordance with man's
immutable reason. Rationalism Now was the time to start enlightening the masses. This was to be the basis for a better society. People thought that poverty and oppression were the fault of ignorance and superstition. Great attention was therefore focused on the education of children and of the people. It is no accident that the science of pedagogy was founded during the Enlightenment. Characteristically enough the greatest monument of the enlightenment movement was the encyclopedia.
The Enlightenment philosophers thought that once reason and knowledge became widespread, humanity would make great progress. It could only be a question of time before irrationalism and ignorance would give way to an enlightened humanity. His thought was dominant in Western Europe until the
last couple of decades. Today we are no longer so convinced that all developments are to the good. Cultural optimism For some, the new catchphrase was
back to nature. But nature meant almost the
same as reason, since human reason was a gift of
nature rather than of religion or of civilization. It was observed that the primitive peoples were frequently both healthier and happier than Europeans, and this, it was said, was because they had not been civilized.
This meant that religion also had to be brought into harmony with natural reason. There were many who fought for what one could call a natural religion. At the time there were a lot of confirmed materialists who did not believe in a God, and who professed to atheism. but most of the Enlightenment philosophers thought it was irrational to imagine a world without God. The world was far to rational for that. And many people professed to what is known as Deism. By Deism we mean a belief that God created the world
ages and ages ago, but has not revealed himself
to the world since. Natural religion This point is perhaps the most important. The French Enlightenment philosophers did not content themselves with theoretical views on man's place in society. They fought actively for what they called the natural rights of the citizen. At first, this took the form of a campaign against censorship, for the freedom of the press. But also in matters of religion, morals, and politics, the individual's right to freedom of thought and utterance had to be secured. They also fought for the abolition of slavery and for a more humane treatment of criminals. The Enlightenment philosophers wanted to establish certain rights that everybody was entitled to simply by being born. that was what they meant by natural rights. By citizen was nearly always considered to be a man. Yet it was the French Revolution that gave us the first inklings of feminism There are two kinds
of philosopher. One is a person who
seeks his own answers to philosophical
questions. The other is someone who is an expert
on the history of philosophy but does not necessarily construct his own philosophy. Immanueal Kant was both.
Remember that the rationalists believed that the basis for all human knowledge lay in the mind. And that the empiricists believed all knowledge of the world proceeded from the senses. Kant thought both views were partly right, but he thought both were partly wrong too. He thought the rationalists went too far in their claims as to how much reason can contribute, and he also thought the empiricists placed too much emphasis on sensory experience. When you put sunglasses on, you see exactly the same as before, except that it's all a bit darker. The glasses limit they way you perceive reality. Everything
you see is part of the world around you, but how you see it is determined by the glasses you are wearing. So
you cannot say the world is red even though you
conceive it as being so. Everything you see
would be red, as long as you don't take
the glasses off. Whatever we see will
first and foremost be perceived
as phenomena in time and space. Kant
called time and space our two forms of
intuition. And he emphasized that these two forms in our won mind precede every experience.
In other words, we can know before we experience things that we will perceive them as phenomena in time and space. For we are not able to take off the "glasses" of reason. Kant's idea was that time and space belong to the human condition. Time and space are first and foremost modes of perception and not attributes of the physical world. The rationalists had almost forgotten the
importance of experience, and the empiricists had shut their eyes to the way our own mind influences the way we see the world. Even the law of
causality belongs to the mind
according to Kant. According to Hume, we
cannot perceive one ball being the cause for the
other ball's movement. Therefore we can't prove that.
That very thing which Hume says we cannot prove is what Kant makes into an attribute of human reason. The law of causality is eternal and absolute simply because human reason perceives everything that happens as a matter of cause and effect. Kant's philosophy states that it is inherent in us. He agreed with Hume that we cannot know with certainty what the world is like in itself, we can only know what the world is like for me. Kant's greatest contribution to philosophy is the dividing line he draws between thing in themselves, das ding an sich, and things as they appear to us. Kant made an important distinction
between the thing in itself and the thing for me.
We can never have certain knowledge of things
in themselves. We can only know how
things appear to us. That's not all, we can
also say something about how things
will be perceived by the human mind. In the
morning you cannot know what you will see or
experience during the day. But you can know that what
you see and experience will be perceived as happening in
time and space. You can moreover be confident that the law of cause and effect will apply, simply because you carry it with you as part of your consciousness. So, to sum up. According to Kant, there are two elements that contribute to man's knowledge of the world. One is the external conditions that we cannot know of before we have perceived them through the senses, we can call this the material of knowledge. The other is the internal conditions in man himself, we can call this the form of knowledge. You remember the big questions the philosophers before Kant had discussed (is there a God, is the universe finite or infinite, etc.) Kant believed there was no certain knowledge to be obtained on these questions. When we wonder where the world came from reason is in a sense on hold. For it has no sensory material to process, no experience
to make use of, because we have never experienced the
whole of the great reality that we are a tiny part of.
The same goes on for God. As far as reason goes,
it is just as likely as it is unlikely
that God exists. But, Kant was a protestant,
and he wanted to preserve the basis for
Christian faith. To Kant, there occurs a vacuum
where both reason and experience fall shore, and that
vacuum can be filled by faith. But Kant went further, he
believed that it is essential for morality to presuppose that
man has an immortal soul, that God exists, and that man has a free will. He called these things practical postulates. By a practical postulate Kant meant something that had to be assumes for the sake of practice, that is to say, for man's morality. It is a moral necessity to assume the existence of God, he said. Now, I'll tell you something about Kant his ethics. Hume said that it is neither our reason nor our experience that determined the difference between right and wrong. It was simply our sentiments. This was too tenuous a basis for Kant. Kant had always felt that the difference between right and wrong was a matter of reason, not sentiment. In this he agreed with the rationalists, who said the ability to distinguish between right and wrong is inherent in human reason. Just as
we are all intelligent beings, we all have access to the same moral law. This law has the same absolute validity as the physical laws. And, we can use this law always. It
says how you are to behave in all situations. Kant formulates the moral law as a
categorical imperative. By this he means that
the moral law is categorical, or that it applies to all
situations. It is, moreover, imperative, which means it is
commanding and therefore absolutely authoritative. Kant
formulates this categorical imperative in several ways. First
he says: Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. When you do something, you must make sure you want everybody else to do the same if they are in the same situation. He also formulates the categorical imperative in this way: Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end. So, you must not exploit other people to your own advantage. To Kant we're only free when we obey the moral law. This might sound a bit peculiar, but to Kant it isn't. He divides man into two parts, a body and a mind. As material creatures, we are wholly and fully at the mercy of causality's unbreakable law, says Kant.
Only when we follow our practical reason, which enables us to make moral choices, we exercise our free will, because
when we conform to moral law, it is we who make the
law we are conforming to. That's it. This were
the most important things about Kant. Immanuel Kant Romanticism Romanticism is usually
distinguished between two forms
of Romanticism. Universal Romanticism,
referring to the romantics who were pre-
occupied with nature, world soul, and artistic genius. The other is the so-called National romanticism, which became popular a little later. The National Romantics were mainly interested in the history, the language and the culture of the people in general. The people were seen as an organism unfolding its innate potentiality, exactly like nature and history. What united these two aspects of Romanticism was first and foremost the key word organism. The Romantics considered a plant, a nation, a
poetic work, a language and even the
entire physical world to be a
living organism. There are many
similarities between the
Renaissance and Romanticism. Both
were individualists. Another typical one
was the importance of art to human cognition.
Kant made a considerable contribution here. In
his aesthetics he investigated what happens when we are overwhelmed by beauty, in a work of art, for instance. When we abandon ourselves to a work of art with no other intention than the aesthetic experience itself, we are brought closer to an experience of das Ding an sich. The Romantics believed that only art could bring us closer to the inexpressible. Some went as far as to compare the artist to God. It was said that the
artist had a universe-creating imagination. In his transports of artistic rapture he could
sense the dissolving of the boundary
between dream and reality. I've told you about the renaissance, the
Baroque period and the Enlightenment. Right
now I'm gonna tell something about Romanticism,
which could be described as Europe's last great cultural epoch. It has been said that Romanticism was Europe's last common approach to life. It started in Germany, arising as a reaction to the Enlightenment's unequivocal emphasis or reason. After Kant and his cool intellectualism, it was as if German youth heaved a sigh of relief. The new catchwords were feeling, imagination, experience and yearning. Some of the Enlightenment thinkers had drawn attention to the importance of feeling,
but at that time it was a criticism of the bias toward reason. What had been an under-
current now became the mainstream
of German culture. Romanticism was in the
main an urban phenomenon. In the
first half of the last century there
was, in fact, a flourishing metropolitan
culture in many parts of Europe, not least in Germany. The typical Romantics were young men, often university students, although they did not always take their studies very seriously. They had a decidedly anti-middle class approach to life and could refer to the police of their landladies as philistines, for example, or simply as the enemy. Another feature of Romanticism was a yearning for nature
and nature's mysteries. They viewed nature as a whole. Hegel was a legitimate
child of Romanticism. In 1831 Hegelianism
had gained an enormous following at nearly all
the universities in Germany, and so did his philosophy.
He united and developed almost all the ideas that had
surfaced in the romantic period. But he was sharply critical
of many of the Romantics. The Romantics had said that the deepest meaning of life lay in what they called the world spirit. Hegel also used this term, but in a new sense. When Hegel talks of world spirit, he means the sum of human utterances, because only man has a spirit. You remember Kant who denied that man could have any clear cognition of the innermost secrets of nature, although he admitted that there exists a kind of unattainable truth. Hegel said that truth is subjective, thus rejecting the existence of any truth above or beyond human reason. All knowledge is human knowledge, he said. It is actually doubtful whether one can say that Hegel had his own philosophy at all. What is usually known as Hegel's philosophy is
mainly a method for understanding the progress of history.
Hegel's philosophy teaches us nothing about the inner
nature of life, but it can teach us to think
productively. (Which is not unimportant
either). All the philosophical systems before
Hegel had one thing in common, the attempt
to set up eternal criteria for what man can know
about the world. But they had all made pronouncements
on the timeless factor of human knowledge or the world.
Hegel did not believe that was possible. He believed that the
basis of human cognition changed from one generation to the next. There were therefore no eternal truths, no timeless reason. The only fixed point philosophy can hold on to is history itself. History is like a river, every tiny movement in the water at a given spot in the river is determined by the falls and eddies in the water higher upstream. But these movements are determined too, by the rocks and bends in the river at the point where you are observing it. Hegel pointed out that as regards philosophical reflection, also, reason is
dynamic, it's a process, in fact. You can't say that Plato
was wrong and that Aristotle was right. That would be
an anti historical way of thinking. But, you can say
that Kant's philosophy is more right than Plato's.
The world spirit has developed. The river
has now more water in it. Hegel also indicated
certain rules that apply for this
chain of reflections. Anyone studying
history in depth will observe that a thought is
usually proposed on the basis of other, previously
proposed thoughts. But as soon as one thought is proposed,
it will be contradicted by another. A tension arises between
these two opposite ways of thinking. But the tension is resolved by the proposal of a third thought which accommodates the best of both points of view. Hegel calls this a dialectic process. Someone puts forward a claim, and Hegel called a standpoint like that a theses. But, than a contradictory claim will arise, which Hegel called a negation. And than there will be a compromise between the two schools of thought, which Hegel called the negation of the negation. Hegel also called these three stages of knowledge thesis, antithesis and synthesis. Hegel didn't see this all as pressing history into any kind of framework. He believed that history itself revealed this dialectical pattern. He thus claimed he had uncovered certain laws for the development of reason, or for the progress of this world spirit through history. But Hegel's dialectic
is not only applicable to history. When we discuss something, we think dialectically. We try to find flaws in the argument. Hegel called that negative thinking. But when we find flaws in
an argument, we preserve the best of it. And finally,
the thing that survives is right. Or vice versa:
that which is right survives. When I reflect
on the concept of being, I will
be obliged to introduce the opposite
concept, that of nothing. You can't reflect on
your existence without immediately realizing that
you won't always exist. The tension between being and
nothing becomes resolve din the concept of becoming. Because if something is in the process of becoming, it both is and is not. Hegel's reason is thus dynamic logic. Since reality is characterized by opposites, a description of reality must therefore also be full of opposites. I will give you an example of how a dialectic tension can result in a spontaneous act which leads to a sudden change. Imagine a young girl who always answers the mother with Yes, Mom... Okay, Mom... As you wish, Mom... At once, Mom... Finally the girl's mother gets absolutely maddened by her daughter's overobedience and shouts: Stop being such a goody-goody! And the girl answers: Okay, Mom. Perhaps
the mom would've slapped her. But what if the girl had answered instead: But I want to be a goody-goody.
Than the situation would've been deadlocked.
The dialectic tension had come to a
point where something had to
happen. The final aspect
of Hegel's philosophy needs to be
mentioned here. The Romantics were
individualists. This met its negation in Hegel's
philosophy. Hegel emphasized what he called the
objective powers. Among such powers, Hegel emphasized
the importance of the family, civil society, and the state. You
might say that Hegel was somewhat skeptical of the individual. He
believed that the individual was an organic part of the community.
Reason, or world spirit, came to light first and foremost in the interplay of people. And, according to Hegel, it is not the individual that finds itself, it is the world spirit. Hegel said that the world spirit returns to itself in three stages. By that he means that it becomes conscious of itself in three stages. The world spirit first becomes conscious of itself in the individual. Hegel calls this subjective spirit. It reaches a higher consciousness in the family, civil society, and the state. Hegel calls this objective spirit because it appears in interaction between people. The world spirit reaches the highest form of self-realization in absolute spirit. And this absolute spirit is art,
religion, and philosophy. And of these, philosophy is the highest form
of knowledge because in philosophy, the world spirit reflects on
its own impact on history. So the world spirit first meets
itself in philosophy. You could say, perhaps, that
philosophy is the mirror of the world spirit. So,
you're doing well right now. This was
Hegel, on to Kierkegaard! Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel I'm sorry, Prezi can't
do the original so I use an image... Kierkegaard began his
study of theology when he was
seventeen, but he became increasingly
absorbed in philosophical questions. After
breaking off his engagement in 1841, Kierkegaard
went to Berlin where he attended Schelling's lectures.
He didn't meet Hegel, who died ten years earlier, but his ideas were predominant in Berlin and in many parts of Europe. His system was being used as a kind of all-purpose explanation for every type of question. Kierkegaard indicated that the sort of objective truths that Hegelianism was concerned with were totally irrelevant to the personal life of the individual. According to Kierkegaard it is more important to find the kind of truths that are meaningful to the individual's life. He thus sets the individual up against the system. Kierkegaard thought Hegel had forgotten that he was a man. This is what he wrote about the Hegelian professor:
"While the ponderous Sir Professor explains the entire mystery of life, he has in distraction forgotten his
own name; that he is a man, neither more nor
less, not a fantastic three-eighths of
a paragraph. Kierkegaard also said
that truth is subjective. By this he did
not mean that it doesn't matter what we think or
believe He meant that the really important truths are
personal. Only these truths are "true for me". A good example
is, whether Christianity is true. This is not a question one can
relate to theoretically or academically. For a person who understands himself in life, it is a question of life and death. It is not something you sit and discuss for discussion's sake. It is something to be approached with the greatest passion and sincerity. So we must therefore distinguish between the philosophical question of whether God exists and the individual's relationship to the same question, a situation in which each and every man is utterly alone. Fundamental questions such as these can only be approached through faith. Things we can know through reason, or knowledge, are according to Kierkegaard totally unimportant. Eight plus four is twelve. We can be absolutely certain of this. But do we include it in our daily prayers. Do we think about it in the middle of your first kiss? Not at all. Truths like those can be both objective and general, but they are nevertheless totally immaterial to each man's existence. Kierkegaard had also a concept of faith. To him, faith is the most important factor in religious questions. He wrote: "If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I don not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I wish to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon
holding fast the objective uncertainty, so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy thousand fathoms of water, still preserving
my faith." You can't prove it rational, than it won't
be faith. To him, the only thing that matter is
whether Christianity is true for you. So, you know what
Kierkegaard meant by existential, what
he meant by subjective truth and what his concept
of faith was. These three concepts were formulated as a
criticism of philosophical tradition in general, and of Hegel in
particular. But they also embodied a trenchant social criticism. The
individual in modern urban society had become the public, he said, and the
predominant characteristic of the crowd was all their noncommittal talk. Today,
we would use the word conformity, that is when everybody thinks and believes in
the same things without having any deeper feeling about it. This brings us to Kierkegaard's theory of what he called the three stages on life's way. He used the term stage to emphasize that you can change. He who lives at the aesthetic stage lives for the moment and grasps every opportunity of enjoyment. Good is whatever is beautiful, satisfying, or pleasant. Everything that is boring is bad. This person lives wholly in the world of the senses, and is a slave to his own desires and moods. The typical Romantic us thus also the the typical aesthete. A person who lives at the aesthetic stage can easily experience angst and a feeling of emptiness. If this happens, there is also hope. According to Kierkegaard, angst is almost positive, is is an expression of the fact that the individual is in an existential situation, and can now elect to make the great leap to a higher stage. But it either happens or it doesn't. Nobody can do it for you. It is your own choice. And so perhaps you will begin to live at the ethical stage. This is characterized by seriousness and consistency of moral choices. The important thing is not what you may think is precisely right or
wrong. What matters is that you choose to have an opinion at all on what is right or
wrong. Most people won't stay here, they'll get tired of always being dedicated
and meticulous. Some will go back to the aesthetic stage, but some make a
new leap to the religious stage. They choose faith in preference to
aesthetic pleasure and reason's call of duty. And although it
can be "terrible to jump into the open arms of the
living God", as Kierkegaard put it, it is the
only path to redemption. Choose for
yourself on which stage you are! S ren Kierkegaard The Romantics and also Hegel experienced
everything as one big ego. S ren Kierkegaard's reaction
to the idealism of the Romantics was individualism, seeing
everything in it's own incredible richness of detail. He was born
in 1813 and was subjected to a very severe upbringing by his father.
His religious melancholia was a legacy from his father. It was because of
this melancholia that he felt obliged to break off his engagement, something the Copenhagen bourgeoisie did not look kindly on. So from early on he became an outcast and an object of scorn. However, he gradually learned to give as good as he got, and he became increasingly an enemy of the people. Not only because he broke an engagement. Toward the end of his life, especially, he became aggressively critical of society. The whole of Europe is on the road to bankruptcy, he said. He believed he was living in an age utterly devoid of passion and commitment. He was particularly incensed by the vapidness of the established Danish Lutheran Church. He was merciless in his criticism of what you might call Sunday Christianity. To Kierkegaard, Christianity was both so overwhelming and so irrational that it had to be an either/or. It was not good being rather or to some extent religious. Because either Jesus rose on Easter Day, or he did not. And if he really did rise from the dead, if he really died for our sake, then this is so overwhelming that it must
permeate our entire life. But Kierkegaard saw how both the church
and people in general had a noncommittal approach to religious questions. To Kierkegaard, religion and knowledge were like
fire and water. It was not enough to believe that
Christianity is true. Having a Christian faith
meant following a Christian way of life. The leading Romantic
philosopher was Schelling, who lived
from 1775 to 1854. he wanted to unite mind
and matter. All of nature, both the human soul
and physical reality, is the expression of one Absolute,
or world spirit, he believed. Nature is visible spirit, spirit
is invisible nature said Schelling, since one senses a structuring spirit everywhere in nature. He also said that matter is slumbering intelligence. Schelling saw a world spirit in nature, but the saw the same world spirit in the human mind. The natural and the spiritual are actually expressions of the same thing. World spirit can thus be sought both in nature and in one's own mind. Schelling also saw a development in nature from earth and rock to the human mind. He drew attention to very gradual transitions from inanimate nature to more complicated life forms. It was characteristic of the Romantic view in general that
nature was thought of as an organism, or in other words, an unity which is constantly developing its innate potentialities. Nature is like a flower unfolding
its leaves and petals. Or like a poet
unfolding his verses. When Kierkegaard went
to Berlin in 1841, he might have sat
next to Karl Marx at Schelling's lectures.
Kierkegaard had written a master of arts thesis on
Socrates. about the same time, Marx had written a doctoral
thesis on Democritus and Epicurus, in other words, on the
materialism of antiquity. Thus they had both staked out the course
of their own philosophies. Each in his own way, both Kierkegaard and Marx took Hegel's philosophy as their point of departure. Both were influenced by Hegel's mode of thought, but both rejected his world spirit, or his idealism. That was probably too high-flown for them. In general, we usually say that the era of the great philosophical systems ended with Hegel. After him, philosophy took a new direction. Instead of great speculative systems, we had what we call an existential philosophy or a philosophy of action. This was what Marx meant when he observed that until now "philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." These words mark a significant turning point in the history of philosophy. Marx's thinking had a practical objective. He was not only a philosopher; he was a historian, a sociologist and an economist. Not other philosopher had greater significance for practical politics. On the other hand, we must be wary of identifying everything that calls
itself Marxism with Marx's own thinking. Right from the start, his friend and colleague Friedrich Engels contributed to what was subsequently known as Marxism. In the last century,
Lenin, Stalin, Mao and many others also made
their contribution to Marxism, or
Marxism-Leninism. Marx was not a philosophical
materialist like the atomists of antiquity
nor did he advocate the mechanical materialism of
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But he thought
that, to a great extent, it was he material factors in society
which determined the way we think. Material factors of that nature have
certainly been decisive for historical development. Hegel had pointed out
that historical development is driven by the tension between opposites, which is
then resolved by a sudden change. Marx developed this idea further. But according to Marx, Hegel was standing on his head. Hegel called the force that drives history forward world spirit or world reason. His, Marx claimed, is upside down. He wished to show that material changes are the ones that affect history. Spiritual relations do not create material change, it is the other way about. Material change creates hew spiritual relations. Marx particularly emphasized that it was the economic forces in society that created change and thus drove history forward. Marx called these material, economic, and social relations the basis of society. They way a society thinks, what kind of political institutions there are, which laws it has and, not least, what there is of religion, morals, art, philosophy, and science, Marx called society's superstructure. Marx believed that material relations support everything in the way of thoughts and ideas in society. If Marx had rejected this interaction, he would have been a mechanical materialist. But because Marx realized that there was an interactive of dialectic relation between bases and superstructure, we say that he is a dialectical materialist. You will identify three levels in the bases of society. The most basic level is what we may call society's conditions of production. In other words, the natural conditions or resources that are available to society. These are
the foundations of any society, and this foundation clearly determines the type of
production in the society. The next level is the society's means of production.
By this Marx meant the various kinds of equipment, tools. and machinery,
as well as the raw materials to be found there. The division of labor,
or the distribution of work and ownership, was what Marx called
society's mode of production.The mode of production in a
society determines which political and ideological
conditions are to be found there. Marx didn't believe in a
natural right that was eternally valid. The
question of what was morally wight is a product of
the base of society, according to Marx. Marx emphasized
moreover that it is mainly society's ruling class that sets the
norms for what is right or wrong. Marx understood that conditions in
society's superstructure could have an interactive effect on the base
of society, but he denied that society's superstructure had any independent
history of its own. Historical development has primarily been determined by changes in the base of society. Marx believed that in all phases of history there has been a conflict between two dominant classes of society. In antiquity's slave society, the conflict was between free citizen and slave. In the feudal society of the Middle Ages, it was between feudal lord and serf; later on, between aristocrat and citizen. But in Marx's own time, in what he called a bourgeois or capitalist society, the conflict was first and foremost between the capitalists and the workers, or the proletariat. So the conflict stood between those who own the means of production and those who do not. And since the upper classes do not voluntarily relinquish their power, change can only come about through revolution. But first we will look at Marx's view of man's labor. Before he became a communist, the young Marx was preoccupied with what happens to man when he works. This was something Hegel had also
analyzed. Hegel believed there was an interactive, or dialectic relationship
between man and nature. When man works, he interacts with nature and transforms it. But in the process nature also interacts with man and transforms his consciousness. Thus, the way you think is closely
connected to the job you do. So, when you're unemployed is, in a
sense, empty. To both Hegel and Marx, work was a positive
thing and was closely connected with the
essence of mankind. And that is precisely where
Marx aimed his criticism of the capitalist
method of production. Under the capitalist system, the
worker labors for someone else. His labor is thus something
external to him. The worker becomes alien to his work, but at the
same time also alien to himself. He loses touch with his won reality. Marx
says, with a Hegelian expression, that the worker becomes alienated. In a
capitalist society, labor is organized in such a way that the worker in fact slaves
for another social class. Thus the worker transfers his own labor, and with it, the whole of his life, to the bourgeoisie. In Marx his time a worker could have a 12-hour working day in a freezing cold production hall. The pay was often so poor that children and expectant mothers also had to work. And while this was happening, the children of the bourgeoisie played the violin in warm, spacious living rooms after a refreshing bath. To Marx that is really unjust. Together with Friedrich Engels, he published a Communist Manifesto in 1848. The first sentence in his manifesto says: "A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of Communism". The Manifest ended like this: "The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble ata Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. workingmen of all countries, unite!" There was much exploitation. When a worker produces a commodity, this commodity has a certain exchange-value. If you now deduct the workers' wages and the other production costs from the exchange-value, there will always be a certain sum left over. This sum was what Marx called profit. In other words, the capitalist pockets a value that was actually created by the worker. That is meant by exploitation. Some of this profit will be invested in new capital, for instance, in modernizing the production plant in the hope of producing
his commodity even more cheaply, so have a higher profit. This goes on and on. He needs less employees, so he increases his competitive power. He is not the only
one who does this, also other capitalists. Capitalism is destroying itself,
now many people are unemployed, there are many social problems,
and crises such as these are a signal that capitalism is
marching toward its own destruction. To make a long story short,
in the end the proletariat rises and takes
over the means of production. For a period, we get a
new class society in which the proletarians suppress the
bourgeoisie by force. Marx called this the dictatorship of the
proletariat. But after a transition period, the dictatorship of the
proletariat is replaced by a classless society, in which the means of
production are owned by all, that is by the people themselves. In this kind of
society, the policy is from each according to his abilities, to each according to
his needs. Moreover, lobar now belongs to the workers themselves and capitalism's
alienation ceases. This all sounds wonderful, but it didn't work. Today, economists can establish that Marx was mistaken on a number of vital issues, not least his analysis of the crises of capitalism. And he paid insufficient attention to the plundering of the natural environment. Nevertheless marxism led to great upheavals. There is no doubt that socialism has largely succeeded in combating an inhumane society. In Europe, at any rate, we live in a society with more justice that Marx did. This is not least due to Marx himself and the entire socialist movement. After Marx, the socialist movement split into two main streams, Social Democracy and Leninism. Social Democracy, which has stood for a gradual and peaceful path in the direction of socialism, was Western Europe's way. We might call this the slow revolution. Leninism,
which retained Marx's belief that revolution was the only way to combat the old class society, had great influence in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Each in their own way, both movements have fought against hardship and oppression. Marxism has created a new form of oppression, but it is unreasonable to blame Marx for
the negative factoris in the so-called sociaist countries fifty or a
hundred years after his dead. But maybe he had guven too little
thought to the people who would be the administrators
of communist society. There will probably never be
a promised land. Mankind will always create
new problems to fight about.
By playing ignorant, Socrates forced the people he met to use their common sense. He pretended to be dumber than he was. We call that Socratic irony. In this way, he didn't make friends, especially not the people who had status in the community. Why he did it in this way? He always said that he had a 'divine voice' inside him, who left him no real choice.
In the year 399 B.C. he was accused of 'introducing new gods and corrupting the youth, as well as not believing in the accepted gods'. With a slender majority, a jury of five hundred found him guilty. He could very likely have appealed for leniency, he could have saved his life by agreeing to leave Athens. But he hasn't. So he drank the hemlock in the presence of his friends, and died.
Why? People have been asking this question for 2400 years. However, he was not the only one. Jesus has done the same. He too was only described by other people, he too spoke on behalf of something greater than themselves, and the both died for what the believed. I do not mean to suggest that Jesus and Socrates were alike, I am merely drawing attention to the fact that the both had a message that was inseparably linked to their personal courage. Right now you know something
about Socrates his life, but what was his project
exactly? He lived at the same time as the Sophists, and like
them he was more interested in man and their place in society
than in the forces of nature. The Roman philosopher Cicero said of
him: 'Socrates called philosophy down from the sky and established her in the towns and introduced her into homes and forced her to investigate life, ethics, good and evil.' But in one way he differed from the Sophists: he didn't thought that he was a Sophist, he didn't thought that he was a wise person. He was a philosopher: 'one who loves wisdom'. The Sophists took money for their teachings, and they are satisfied with what little they know. A real philosopher is a completely different kettle of fish. He knows that he knows very little, it troubles him that he knows so little. Socrates himself said: 'One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.' Remember this statement, because it is an admission that is rare, even among philosophers, it can be so dangerous to say it in public that it can cost you your life. The most subversive people are those who ask questions. Any one question can be more explosive that a thousand answers. To be precise: Mankind is faced with a number of difficult questions that we have no satisfactory answers to. Now there are two options: We can fool ourselves by pretending that we know everything there is to know(dead certain), of we can shut our eyes to the central issues once and for all and abandon all progress (totally indifferent). Both types are crawling around deep down in the rabbit's fur! It's like dividing a deck of card into piles. One with black cards and one with red cards. The dead certain people and the totally indifferent people. But what is the joker, the joker is the philosopher. And Socrates was the Joker in Athens.
Socrates felt that it was necessary to establish a solid foundation for
our knowledge. He believed that his foundation lay in man's reason.
With his unshakable faith in human reason he was
decidedly a rationalist. As I have mentioned earlier, Socrates
claimed that he was guided by a divine inner voice, and that this 'conscience' told him what was right. 'He who knows what good is will do good,' he said. When we do wrong, it is because we don't know any better. That is why it is so important to go on learning. Socrates that no one could possibly be happy if they acted against their better judgment. And he who knows how to achieve happiness will do so. Therefore, he who knows what is right will do right. Because, why would anybody choose to be unhappy? There are lots of people who lie and cheat and speak ill of others. Are they aware that these things are not right - or fair, if you prefer? Do you
think these people are happy? Socrates didn't. Plato was 29 years old when Socrates drank the hemlock. He had been a pupil of Socrates for some time and had followed his trial very closely. The fact that Athens could condemn its noblest citizen to death did more than make a profound impression on him. It was to shape the course of his entire philosophic endeavor. In the beginning of this course I mentioned that it could often be a good idea to ask what a particular philosopher's project was. Was was Plato his project? Briefly, we can establish that Plato was concerned with the relationship between what is eternal and immutable, on the one hand, and what 'flows' on the other. Very briefly, the Sophists thought that perceptions of what was right or wrong varied from one city-state to another, and from one generation to the next. So right and wrong was something that 'flowed.' But Socrates believed in the existence of eternal and absolute rules for what was right or wrong. By using our common sense we can all arrive at these immutable norms, since human reason is in fact eternal and immutable. And than we have Plato. He is concerned with both what is eternal and immutable in nature and what is eternal and immutable as regards morals and society. To Plato, these two problems are the same. He tried to grasp a 'reality' that was eternal and immutable, and to be quite frank, that is where we need philosophers for. Philosophers try to ignore highly topical affairs and instead try to draw people's attention to what is eternally 'true,' eternally 'beautiful,' and eternally 'good.' Both Empedocles and Democritus
had drawn attention to the fact that although in the
natural world everything 'flows,' there must nevertheless be
something that never changes. Plato agreed with the proposition as
such, but in quite a different way. He believed that everything tangible in
nature 'flows.' So there are no substances that do not dissolve. Absolutely
everything that belongs to the material world is made of a material that time can
erode, but everything is made after a timeless 'mold' or 'form' that is eternal and immutable. You see? No, you don't. Why are horses the same? You probably don't think they are at all. But, there is something that all horses have in common. Maybe it broke a leg, or
maybe it is completely white, but you'll call it a horse. The natural philosophers had given a reasonably good explanation of natural change without having to presuppose that anything actually changed. But they didn't had a reasonable explanation for how these smallest elements built themselves to for example a horse. You make a horse of Lego blocks, and take it apart and put the blocks again in the box. You can't expect them to make a new horse when you shake the box. No, you have to make the horse. Why, because you have a picture in your head about how the horse should look like. Or how to make 50 identical cookies? You use the same mold, and you have them. And that mold Plato called idea. Plato came to the conclusion that there must be a reality behind the 'material world.' He called this reality the world of ideas. It contained the eternal and immutable patterns behind the various phenomena we come across in nature. This remarkable view is known as Plato's theory of ideas. Plato also said that we can only have opinions about things that belong to the world of senses, and that you only can have true knowledge of things that
can be understood with reason. An example, when you're sitting in a classroom with 30 other pupils, and the teacher asks the class which color of the rainbow is the prettiest, you will get many different answers. But when you ask what is 8+3, I'll hope they will answer 11. Now you speak with reason and not with feeling. The idea horse will
always stay the same, even if all the others horses will brake a leg. And
the sum of the angles in a triangle will
remain 180 degrees. As I explained, to Plato reality is divided into
The world of the senses, the things we can only have approximate or incomplete knowledge by using our five incomplete senses.
The world of ideas, which we can have true knowledge by using our reason.
According to Plato, man is a dual creature. We have a body that flows, but we also have an immortal soul, which is the realm of reason.
But that's not all!
Plato also believed that the soul existed before it inhabited the body, (it was lying on a shelf in the closet with all the cookie molds.) But as soon as the soul wakes up in a human body, it has forgotten all the perfect ideas. When he sees an (imperfect) horse, a faint recollection awakens in the soul of the perfect horse. The soul then experiences a longing to return to its true origin. It longs to be freed from the chains of the body. But, that is the ideal course of life, because it not happens with all the people, only with the philosophers.
Plato believed that all natural phenomena are merely shadows of the eternal forms or ideas. But most people are content with a life among shadows. They give no thought to what is casting the shadows. They think shadows are all there are, never realizing that they are, in fact, shadows. And thus they pay no heed to the immortality of their own soul. Plato relates a myth which illustrates this. We call it the Myth of the Cave.
Some people are living in an underground cave. They sit with their backs to the mouth of the cave with their hands and feet bound so they can only look to the back of the cave. After them is a large fire, and before that fire there are people who make shadows, and the cave dwellers can only see the shadows.
Than, one cave dweller manages to free himself from his bonds, and he will look were the shadows come from. He turns, and sees a large fire, he will be shocked by how sharp the light is. Then, he leaves the cave, and sees the nature, he will see real animals, real plants, and he sees the sun, and realizes that that gives life to everything. Than he will think about the other cave dwellers, and he wants to tell them about how beautiful it is outside. He tells them that the shadows on the cave wall are only flickering reflections of real things. But they don't believe him. They point to the cave wall and say that what they see is all there is. Finally they kill him.
He was probably thinking of Socrates, whom the 'cave dwellers' killed because he disturbed their conventional ideas and tried to light the way
to true insight. VOLUME ON!! The Myth of the Cave is
found in Plato's dialogue the Republic.
In this dialogue Plato also presents a picture
of the ideal state, that is to say an imaginary, ideal,
or what we would call a Utopian, state. Briefly, we could say
that Plato believed the state should be governed by philosophers.
Body Soul Virtue State
Head Reason Wisdom Rulers
Chest Will Courage Auxiliaries
Abdomen Appetite Temperance Laborers
According to Plato, the human body is composed of three parts: the head, the chest and the abdomen. For each of these three parts, there is a corresponding faculty of the soul. Reason belongs to the head, will belongs to the chest and appetite belongs to the abdomen. Each of these soul faculties also has an ideal, or virtue. Reason aspires to wisdom, Will aspires to courage, and Appetite must be curbed so that temperance can be exercised. Only when these three parts work together, we get a harmonious individual.
Plato also believed that a state should be built up exactly in the same way. His political philosophy is like every aspect of Plato's philosophy, characterized by rationalism.
And, Plato was smart, he said that a state that does not educate and train women is like a man who only trains his right arm.
All in all, we can say that Plato had a positive view on women,
considering the time he lived in.
And this was Plato, who's theory has been
discussed much, and at first by
was born in Macedonia and came
to Plato's Academy when Plato was 61.
Aristotle his father was a respected physician,
and therefore a scientist. This tells us already something
about his philosophic project. What he was most interested in
was nature study. He was not only the last great Greek
philosopher, also the first biologist.
He differed completely from Plato! While Plato used his reason, Aristotle used his senses as well. Plato wrote things down like a poet, but Aristotle wrote as dry and precise as an encyclopedia. Now I have told you so much about Plato and his theory, you must start by hearing how Aristotle refuted Plato his theory of ideas.
Aristotle thought that Plato had turned everything upside down, He agreed that a horse flows, he also agreed that the actual form of a horse is eternal and immutable.
But the idea horse is just something that we make up after seeing a horse. To Aristotle, the idea horse was made up by the horse characteristics, which define we call today the horse species.
Aristotle believed the form horse was inside the horse.
So Aristotle disagreed with Plato that the idea horse came before
the horse. What Aristotle called the form horse, is present
in every single horse as the horse characteristics.
The real horse and the form horse are as
inseparable as soul and body. To Plato, the highest
degree of reality was that we can
think with our reason. It was equally
apparent to Aristotle that the highest degree of
reality is what we perceive with our senses. To Plato,
the things we see were purely reflections of things we see
in the real world, to Aristotle Plato was trapped in a mythical world picture, and things we see are real. But, Aristotle thought that humans have innate reason, reason is exactly man's most distinguishing character. But our reason is completely empty until we have sensed something, so we have no innate ideas.
Aristotle considered that reality consist of two things: form and substance. Form it its specific characteristics, or what it does. Substance is where things are made from. Substance always strives to realize a specific form. Every change in nature is to Aristotle a transformation from the potential to the form. Let me give an example:
A chicken's egg has the potentiality to become a chicken. This does not mean that all the eggs become chickens,
some will end up at the breakfast table, but they
won't become goose. The form of a thing also
says something about its limitations. Aristotle had a
remarkable view of causality in
nature. When we talk today about the cause
of something, we mean how something came to
happen. Why does it rain? You will answer that it rains
because moisture cools down and the gravity causes the
moisture to fall to the earth. Aristotle would have said that
you would have have mentioned only three of the causes.
1. the material cause, the clouds where there at the right moment.
2. the efficient cause, the moisture cools down.
3. the formal cause, the form of water is to fall down.
4. And than: final cause, it rains because plants need water.
Aristotle believed there is a purpose after everything in nature.
Aristotle also tried to do a thorough clearing up in nature's room. How? With Logic. He demonstrated a number of laws governing conclusions or proofs that were valid.
A. All living things are mortal B. A dog is a living thing.
So, I can conclude that a dog is mortal.
Aristotle divided the natural world into two categories: living
and nonliving. Nonliving can be categorized in plants and creatures. And creatures can be divided in animals and
humans. But, what has caused everything to exist?
Aristotle his answer was God, who was at
the top of nature's scale. To Aristotle, you
can only live a good live by using
all your abilities and capabilities. He held
that there are three forms of happiness.
1. life of pleasure and enjoyment
2. life as a free and responsible citizen.
3. A life as a thinker and philosopher
The ethics of both Plato and Aristotle contain echoes of Greek medicine: only by exercising balance and temperance will I achieve a happy of harmonious live.
Aristotle also had an idea about how the state should be organized:
Monarchy: One head of state, it shouldn't degenerate into tyranny, when one ruler governs the state to his own advantage.
Aristocracy: A larger or smaller group of rulers, which shouldn't degenerate into a oligarchy, when the government is run by a few people.
Polity: an democracy as which most countries are nowadays. But this shouldn't get into mob rule.
Finally, I have bad news, Aristotle his view on woman was
awful. An woman was an unfinished man. He believed
that all child characteristics lay in the male
sperm. And, more sadly, the church took
over this view into the Middle Ages. Karl Marx I forgot to mention that
Marx lived the last 34 years of his life in
London. He moved there in 1849 and died in 1883. All
that time Charles Darwin was living just outside London.
He died in 1882 and was buried with great pomp and ceremony in
Westminster Abbey as one of England's distinguished sons. So Marx
and Darwin's paths crossed, but not only in time and space. Marx's
wanted to dedicate the English edition of his greatest work, Capital, to Darwin, but Darwin declined the honor. When Marx died the year after Darwin,
his friend Friedrich Engels said: As Darwin discovered the theory of organic evolution, so Marx discovered the theory of mankind's historical evolution. Another great thinker who was to link his work to Darwin was the psychologist Sigmund Freud. He also lived his last years in London. Freud said that both Darwin's theory of evolution and his own psychoanalysis had resulted in an affront to mankind's naïve egoism. In a broader sense we can talk about a naturalistic current from the middle of the nineteenth century until quite far into our own. By naturalistic we mean a sense of reality that accepts no other reality than nature and the sensory world. A naturalist therefore also considers mankind to be part of nature. The key words from the middle of the nineteenth century were nature, environment, history, evolution, and growth. This applies to Marx, Darwin, and Freud. Right now I'll concentrate on Darwin. You may recall that the pre-Socratics looked for
natural explanations of the processes of nature. In the same way that
they had to distance themselves from ancient mythological
explanations, Darwin had to distance himself from the
church's view of the creation of man and beast. Darwin
was a biologist and a natural scientist. But he was
also the scientist of recent times who has
most openly challenged the Biblical view
of man's place in Creation. Darwin was born in
the little town of Shrewsbury in 1809.
His father, Dr. Robert Darwin, was a renowned
local physician, and very strict about his son's
upbringing. Charles was never doing something useful
(cramming Greek and Latin verbs), but always fled around
(clambering around collecting beetles of all kinds). When he studied
theology, Charles was far more interested in bird-watching and collecting
insects, so he did not get very good grades in theology. But while he was still at college, he gained himself a reputation as a natural scientist, not least due to his interest in geology, which was perhaps the most expansive science of the day. As soon as he had graduated in theology at Cambridge he went to North Wales to study rock formations and to search for fossils. In August of the same year, when he was barely twenty-two years old, he received a letter which was to determine the course of his whole life. It was from his friend and teacher, John Steven Henslow, He wrote: "I have been requested to... recommend a naturalist to go as companion to Captain Fitzroy, who has been commissioned by the government to survey the southern coasts of South America. I have stated that I consider you to be the best qualified person I know of who is likely to undertake such a situation. As far as the financial side of it is concerned, I have no notion. The voyage is to last two years..." Darwin wished ardently to grasp the chance, but his father should agree. After much persuasion, his father
finally agreed, and it was he who financed his son's voyage. The ship was the naval vessel HMS Beagle. It sailed from Plymouth on December 27,
1831, bound for South America, and it did not return until October
of 1836. The two years became five and the voyage to South
America turned into a voyage round the world. And now
we come to one of the most important voyages of
discovery in recent time For the first years, the Beagle
sailed up and down the coast of South America.
This gave Darwin plenty of opportunity to familiarize
himself with the continent. Later they've sailed over almost
the whole world. Darwin was able to collect and sent to England vast
amounts of material. However, he kept his reflections on nature and the
evolution of life to himself. Darwin became a cautious man, as is fitting for a
scientist. In his main work, The origin of Species, Darwin advanced two theories:
first, he proposed that all existing vegetable and animal forms were descended from
earlier, more primitive forms by way of a biological evolution. Secondly, that evolution was the result of natural selection. The idea of evolution was not all that original. The idea of biological evolution began to be widely accepted in some circles as early as 1800. The leading spokesman for this idea was the French zoologist Lamarack. None of these theories were any great to Christianity. But in Darwin's time there were a number of observations and finds which were putting traditional beliefs to the test. Large fossil bones were found, from animals who didn't exist anymore, traces of sea creatures were found in the Andes, etc. The explanation was the great flood, that this were animals who failed to get into the Ark. But when Darwin set sail on the Beagle, he had with him the first volume of the English biologist Sir Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology. Lyell held that the present geology of the earth was the result of an interminably long and gradual evolution. He was thinking of the same forces that prevail today: wind and weather, melting ice, earthquakes, and elevations of the ground level. However, this theory alone could not explain why Darwin found the remains of sea creatures high up in the Andes. But Darwin always remembered that tiny gradual changes could result in dramatic alterations if they were given sufficient time. A decisive factor in Lyell's theory was
the age of the earth. In Darwin's time, it was widely believed that the earth was 6,000 year old. That figure had been arrived at by counting the generations
since Adam and Eve. Darwin figured the age of the earth to be 300 million
years. Because one thing, at least, was clear, neither Lyell;'s theory
of gradual geological evolution nor Darwin's own theory of
evolution had any validity unless one reckoned with
tremendously long periods of time. Up til now, we have looked
at one of Darwin's arguments for biological
evolution, namely, the stratified deposits of fossils in
various layers of rock. Another argument was the geographic
distribution of living species. But he also made some very interesting
observations on the Galapagos Islands in particular. The Galapagos Islands
are a compact group of volcanic islands. There were therefore no great differences in the plant and animal life there. But Darwin was interested in the tiny differences. On all the islands, he came across giant tortoises that were slightly different from one island to another. Had God really created a separate race of tortoises for each and every island? Darwin's observations of bird life on the Galapagos were even more striking. The Galapagos finches were clearly varied from island to island, especially as regards the shape of the beak. Darwin demonstrated that these variations were closely linked to the way the finches found their food on the different islands. Each and every one of the species had a beak that was perfectly adapted to its own food intake. Could all these finches be descended from one and the same species? And had the finches adapted to their surroundings on the different islands over the ages in such a way that new species of finches evolved? that was the conclusion he came to. Increasingly, he began to doubt that all species were immutable. But he still had no viable explanation as to how such an evolution had occurred. But there was one more factor to indicate that all the animals on earth might be related. The development of the embryo in mammals. If you compare the embryos of dogs, bats, rabbits, and humans at an early stage, they look so alike that it is hard to tell the difference. He still thought about Lyell's theory of the small changes. He was also familiar with Lamarck's theory, who said that animals develops the characteristics they need. But this
theory was rejected by Darwin because Lamarck had no proof of his bold claims. However, Darwin was beginning to pursue another, much
more obvious line of thought. You could almost say that the
actual mechanism behind the evolution of species was
right in front of his very nose.
Natural selection. Darwin thought about how
we humans select cows who should die because
they don't give us enough milk, or have the most meet.
He thought, is something like this also possible in nature? Darwin
could still not quite imagine how such a natural selection could take
place. But in October 1838, exactly two years after his return on the Beagle,
he chanced to come across a little book by the specialist in population studies,
Thomas Malthus. Malthus goet the idea for this essay from Benjamin Franklin. Franklin had made the point that if there were no limiting factors in nature, one single species of plant or animal would spread over the entire globe. But because there are many species, they keep each other in balance. Malthus developed this idea and applied it to the world's population. He believed that mankind's ability to procreate is so great that there are always more children born than can survive. Since the production of food can never keep pace with the increase in population, he believed that huge numbers were destined to succumb in the struggle for existence. Those who survived to grow up would therefore be those who came out best in the struggle for survival. This was actually the universal mechanism that Darwin had been searching for. Here was the explanation of how evolution happens. It was due to natural selection in the struggle for life, in which those that were best adapted to their surroundings would survive and perpetuate the race. This was the second theory which he proposed in The Origin of Species. The result of this continual selection is that the ones best adapted to a particular environment will in the long term perpetuate the race in that environment. But what is an advantage in one environment is not necessarily an advantage in another. So far, then, we can sum up Darwin's theory of evolution in a few sentences. We can say that the raw material behind the evolution of life on earth was the continual variation of individuals within the same species, plus the large number of progeny, which meant that only a fraction of them survived. The actual mechanism or driving force, behind evolution was thus the natural selection in the struggle for survival. This selection ensured
that the strongest, or the fittest, survived. This wasn't received well. It was the cause of bitter controversies. The Church protested vehemently and the
scientific world was sharply divided. Darwin had distanced God a good
way from the act of creation, although there were admittedly
some who claimed it was surely greater to have created
something with its own innate evolutionary potential
that simply to create a fixed entity. The essence of Darwin's theory
was the utterly random variations which had
finally produced Man. But the weakest point in his theory
was how such random variations could arise. Darwin had only
the vaguest idea of heredity. Something happens in the crossing. A
father and mother never get two identical offspring, there is always
some slight difference. On the other hand it's difficult to produce anything
really new in that way. Moreover, there are plants and animals which reproduce
by budding or by simple cell division. on the question of how the variations arise,
Darwin's theory has been supplemented by the so-called Neo-Darwinism. All life and all
reproduction is basically a matter of cell division. When a cell divides into two, two identical cells are produced with exactly the same hereditary factors. In cell division, then, we say a cell copies itself. But occasionally, infinitesimal errors occur in the process, so that the copied cell is not exactly the same as the mother cell. In modern biological terms, this is a mutation. Mutations are either totally irrelevant, or they can lead to marked changes in the behavior of the individual. They can be directly harmful, and such mutants will be continually discarded from the large broods. Many diseases are in fact due to mutations. But sometimes a mutation can give an individual just that extra positive characteristic needed to hold its own in the struggle for existence. Lamarck's explanation why giraffes had such a long neck was that giraffes have always had to reach upwards. But according to Darwinism, no such inherited characteristic would be passed on. Darwin believed that the giraffe's long neck was the result of a variation. At the bottom you see a sketch that shows the distribution of the various vegetable and animal species. It also tells something of the history of evolution. You can see that birds went an other way than humans at one point, there was a mutation. At the bottom there are unicellular animals, those were
there the earliest. And at the top the humans, because those were there the latest. Charles Darwin 1596-1650 1632-1677 1632-1704 1711-1776 1685-1753 1724-1804 1770-1831 1813-1855 1818-1883 1809-1882 A cartoon about Darwin Darwin had a qualified
guess about where the first primal cell
came from. He wrote: "If (and O, what an if!) we could
picture some hot little pool in which all manner of
ammoniacal and phosphorous salts, light, heat, electricity and
so forth were present, and that a protein compound were to be
chemically formed in it, ready to undergo even more complicated
changes..." What Darwin was philosophizing on here was how the first living cell might have been formed out of inorganic matter. And again, he hit the nail right on the head. Scientists of today think the first primitive form of life arose in precisely the kind of hot little pool that Darwin pictured. Right now I won't talk about Darwin but about more recent findings about the origins of life on earth. Let us first establish that all life on earth is constructed of exactly the same substances. the simplest definition of life is that it is a substance which in a nutrient solution has the ability to subdivide itself into two identical parts. This process is governed by a substance we call DNA. By DNA we mean the chromosomes, or hereditary structures, that are found in all living cells. We also use the term DNA molecule, because DNA is in fact a complex molecule. The question is, then, how the first molecule arose. The earth was formed when the solar system came into being 4.6 billion years ago. First of all, our planet was quite different from the way it looks today. Since there was no life, there was no oxygen in the atmosphere. Free oxygen was first formed by the photosynthesis of plants. And the fact that there was no oxygen is important. It is unlikely that life cells could have arisen in an atmosphere containing oxygen. Oxygen is strongly reactive. Long before complex molecules like DNA could be formed, the DNA molecular cells would be
oxidized. That is how we know for certain that no new life arises today, not even so much as a bacterium or a virus. Since there was no oxygen in the atmosphere, there was no protective ozone layer around the earth.
So, for new life we need no oxygen and there must be access
for cosmic radiation. This radiation can kill us too, but
because it was under water, where the first life
forms were protected. So, this is
our history. Freud was born in 1856 and he
studied medicine at the University of Vienna.
He lived in Vienna for the greater part of his life at a
period when the cultural life of the city was flourishing. He
specialized early on in neurology. Toward the close of the last
century, and far into the twentieth, he developed his "depth psychology" or
psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a description of the human mind in general
as well as a therapy for nervous and mental disorders. I do not intend to give you
a complete picture either of Freud or of his work. But his theory of the unconscious
is necessary to an understanding of what a human being is. Freud held that there is a
constant tension between man and his surroundings. In particular, a tension between
his drives and needs and the demands of society. It is no exaggeration to say that Freud discovered human drives. This makes him an important exponent of the naturalistic currents that were so prominent toward the end of the nineteenth century. Human drives are actions that are not guided by reason. Man is not really such a rational creature as the eighteenth-century rationalists liked to think. Irrational impulses often determine what we think, what we dream, and what we do. Such irrational impulses can be an expression of basic drives or needs. The human sexual drive, for example, is just as basic as the baby's instinct to suckle. This in itself was no new discovery. But Freud showed that these basic needs can be disguised or sublimated, thereby steering our actions without our being aware of it. He also showed that infants have some sort of sexuality. The respectable middle-class Viennese reacted with abhorrence to this suggestion of the sexuality of the child and made him very unpopular. We call it Victorianism, when everything to do with sexuality is taboo. Freud first became aware of children's sexuality during his practice of psychotherapy. So he had an empirical basis for his claims. He had also seen how numerous forms of neurosis or psychological disorders could be
traced back to conflicts during childhood. He gradually developed a type of therapy that we could call the archeology of the soul. The psychoanalyst, with the patient's help, can dig
deep into the patient's mind and bring to light the experiences that have caused the
patient's psychological disorder, since according to Freud, we store the memory
of all our experiences deep inside us. The analyst can perhaps discover an
unhappy experience that the patient has tried to suppress for many
years, but which has nevertheless lain buried, gnawing away at the
patient's resources. By bringing a traumatic experience into the
conscious mind, and holding it up toe the patient, so to
speak, he or she can help the patient be done
with it and get well again. We don't have all our thoughts
or experiences consciously present all
the time. But the kinds of things we have thought or
experienced, and which we can recall if we put our mind to it,
Freud termed the preconscious. He reserved the term unconscious
for things we have repressed. That is, the sort of thing we have made an
effort to forget because it was either unpleasant, improper, or nasty. If we
have desires and urges that are not tolerable to the conscious, the superego
shoves them downstairs. Away with them! This mechanism is at work in all healthy
people. But it can be such a tremendous strain for some people to keep the unpleasant
or forbidden thoughts away from consciousness that it leads to mental illness. Whatever is repressed in this way will try of its own accord to reenter consciousness. For some people it takes a great effort to keep such impulses under the critical eye of the conscious. We live under the constant pressure of repressed thoughts that are trying to fight their way up from the unconscious. That's why we often say or do things without intending to. Unconscious reactions thus prompt our feelings and actions. Freud operates with several of these mechanisms. One is what he called parapraxes. In other words, we accidentally say or do things that we once tried to repress. Freud gives the example of the shop foreman who was to propose a toast the the boss. The trouble was that this boss was terribly unpopular. In plain words, he was what one might call a swine. The foreman stood up, raised hi glass, and said 'Here's to the swine!' The foreman had actually said what he really meant. But he didn't mean to say it. Another thing we can do is to rationalize. That means that we do not give the real reason for what we are doing either to ourselves or to other people because the real reason is unacceptable. And another thing we do is project. When we project, we transfer the characteristics we are trying to repress in ourselves onto other people. A person who is very miserly will characterize others as penny-pinchers. And someone who will not admit to being preoccupied with sex can be the first to be incensed at
other people's sex-fixation. Freud claimed that our everyday life was filled with unconscious mechanisms like these. We forget a particular person's name, we
fumble with our clothes while we talk, or we shift what appear to be random
objects around in the room. We also stumble over words and make various
slips of the tongue or pen that can seem completely innocent. Freud's
point was that these slips are neither as accidental nor as
innocent as we think. These bungled actions can in fact
reveal the most intimate secrets. You shouldn't expend too
much effort on burying unpleasant things
in the unconscious. It's like trying to block up the
entrance to a water vole's nest. You can be sure the water
vole will pop up in another part of the garden. It is actually quite
healthy to leave the door ajar between the conscious and the unconscious.
A neurotic is a person, who uses too much energy trying to keep the unpleasant
out of his consciousness. Frequently there is a particular experience which the person is desperately trying to repress. He can nonetheless be anxious for the doctor to help him to find his way back to the hidden traumas. Freud developed a technique which he called free association. In other words, he let the patient lie in a relaxed position and just talk about whatever came into his or her mind, however irrelevant, random, unpleasant, or embarrassing it might sound. The idea was to break thought the lid or control that had grown over the traumas, because it was these traumas that were causing the patient concern. They are active all the time, just not consciously. The harder you try to forget something, the more you think about it unconsciously. That is why it is so important to be aware of the signals from the unconscious. According to Freud, the royal road to the unconscious is our dreams. His main work was written on this subject, The Interpretation of Dreams, in which he showed that our dreams are not random. Our unconscious tries to communicate with our conscious through dreams. After many years of experience with patients Freud determined that all dreams are wish fulfillments. This is clearly observable in children, he said. They dream about ice cream and cherries. But in adults, the wishes that are to be fulfilled in dreams are disguised. That is because even when we sleep, censorship is at work on what we will permit ourselves. And although this censorship is considerably weaker when we are asleep than when we are awake, it is still strong
enough to cause our dreams to distort the wishes we cannot acknowledge. Freud
showed that we must distinguish between the actual dream as we recall it in
the morning and the real meaning of the dream. He termed the actual dream
image we dream the manifest dream. But the dream also contains a deeper
meaning which is hidden from consciousness. Freud called this
the latent dream thoughts, and these hidden thoughts which
the dream is really about may stem from the distant
past, from earliest childhood, for instance. Freud's psychoanalysis was
extremely important in the 1920s, especially for
the treatment of certain psychiatric patients. His theory
of the unconscious was also very significant for art and literature.
Artists became interested in people's unconscious mental life, although
this had already become a predominant aspect of literature in the last decade
of the nineteenth century, before Freud's psychoanalysis was known. It merely shows
what the appearance of Freud's psychoanalysis at that particular time, the 1890s, was no
coincidence. Freud himself did not claim to have discovered phenomena such as repression,
defense mechanisms, or rationalizing. He was simply the first to apply these human experiences
to psychiatry. He was also a master at illustrating his theories with literary examples. But as I
mentioned, from the 1920s, Freud's psychoanalysis had a more direct influence on art and literature. Poets and painters, especially the surrealists, attempted to exploit the power of the unconscious in their work. The word surrealism comes from the French, and means super realism. In 1924 André Breton published a surrealistic manifesto claiming that art should come from the unconscious. The artist should thus derive the freest possible inspiration from his dream images and strive toward a super realism, in which the boundaries between dream and reality were dissolved. For an artist too it can be necessary to break the censorship of the conscious and let words and images have free play. In a sense, Freud demonstrated that there is an artist in everyone. A dream is a little work of art, and there are new dreams every night. In order to interpret his patients' dreams, Freud often had to work his way through a dense language of symbols, rather in the way we interpret a picture of a literary text. So, a person who says he doesn't understand art doesn't know himself very well. Freud also delivered impressive evidence of the wonders of the human mind. His work with patients convinced him that we retain everything we have seen and experienced somewhere deep in our consciousness, and all these impressions can be brought to light again. When we experience a memory lapse, an a bit later have it on the tip of our tongue and then later still suddenly remember it, we are talking about something which has lain in the unconscious and suddenly slips through the half-open door to consciousness. This takes a
while sometimes, but then suddenly it's as if all doors and all drawers fly open. Everything comes tumbling out by itself, and we can find all the words and images we need. We can call it
inspiration. It feels as if what we are drawing or writing is coming from some outside
source. For this, it is sometimes important to let go. The surrealists tried to exploit
this putting themselves into a state where things just happened by themselves.
They had a sheet of white paper in front of them and they began to write
without thinking about what they wrote. The called it automatic writing.
the expression originally comes from spiritualism, where a medium
believed that a departed spirit was guiding the pen.
This are the most important things about Freud. Sigmund Freud 1856-1939 I'm jumping too far ahead.
Let us first take a look at Freud's description of
the human mind. When we come into the world, we live out our
physical and mental needs quite directly and unashamedly. If we do
not get milk, we cry, or maybe we cry if we have a wet diaper. We also give
direct expression to our desire for physical contact and body warmth. Freud
called this pleasure principle in us the id. As newborn babies we are hardly anything
but id. We carry the id, or pleasure principle, with us into adulthood and throughout life.
But gradually we learn to regulate our desires and adjust to our surroundings. We learn to regulate the pleasure principle in relation to the reality principle. In Freud's terms, we develop
an ego which has this regulative function. Even though we want or need something, we cannot just
lie down and scream until we get what we want or need. We may desire something very badly that the outside world will not accept. We may repress our desires. That means we try to push them away and forget about them. However, Freud proposed, and worked with, a third element in the human mind. From infancy we are constantly faced with the moral demands of our parents and of society. When we do anything wrong, our parents say "Don't do that!". Even when we are grown up, we retain the echo of such moral demands and judgments. It seems as though the world's moral expectations have become part of us. Freud called this the superego. The conscience is a component of the superego. But Freud claimed that the superego tells us when our desires themselves are bad or improper not least in the case of erotic or sexual desire. And as I said, Freud claimed that these improper desires already manifest themselves at an early stage of childhood. Some patient of Freud experienced the conflict so acutely that they developed what Freud called neuroses. One of his many woman patients, for example, was secretly in love with here brother-in-law. When her sister died of an illness, she thought: "Now he is free to marry me!" This thought was on course for a frontal collision with her superego, and was so monstrous an
idea that she immediately repressed it, Freud tells us. In other words, she buried it deep in her
unconscious. Freud wrote: "The young girl was ill and appeared that she had thoroughly
forgotten about the scene at her sister's bedside and the odious egoistic impulse that
had emerged in her. But during analysis she remembered it, and in a state of great
agitation she reproduced the pathogenic moment and through this treatment
became cured. So we can give a general description of the human psyche.
After many years of experience in treating patients, Freud concluded
that the conscious constitutes only a small part of the human
mind. The conscious is like the tip of the iceberg above
sea level. Below sea level, or below the threshold
of the conscious, is the subconscious
or the unconscious. Let's talk about the twentieth
century. Movements were going off in all
directions. We'll start with one very important direction,
and that is existentialism. This is a collective term for several
philosophical currents that take man's existential situation as their
point of departure. We generally talk of twentieth-century existential
philosophy. Several of these existential philosophers, or existentialists, based
their ideas not only on Kierkegaard, but on Hegel and Marx as well. Another important
philosopher who had a great influence on the twentieth century was the German Friedrich
Nietzsche, who lived from 1844 to 1900. He, too, reacted against Hegel's philosophy and the
German historicism. He proposed life itself as a counterweight to the anemic interest in history and what he called the Christian slave morality. He sought to effect a revaluation of all values, so that the life force of the strongest should not be hampered by the weak. According to Nietzsche, both Christianity and traditional philosophy had turned away from the real world and pointed toward heaven or the world of ideas. But what had hitherto been considered the real world was in fact a pseudo world. "Be true to the world," he said. "Do not listen to those who offer you supernatural expectations. A man who was influenced by both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche was the German existential philosopher Martin Heidegger. But we are going to concentrate on the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre. He was the leading light among the existentialists, at least, to the broader public. His existentialism became especially popular in the forties, just after the war. Later on he allied himself with the Marxist movement in France, but he never became a member of any party. His wive, Simone de Beauvoir also was an existential philosopher. Sartre said that existentialism is humanism. by that he meant that the existentialists start from nothing but humanity itself. I might add that the humanism he was
referring to took a far bleaker view of the human situation than the humanism we met in the
Renaissance. Both Kierkegaard and some of this century's existential philosophers were Christian. But Sartre's allegiance was to what we might call an atheistic existentialism.
His philosophy can be seen as a a merciless analysis of the human situation when God
is dead. The expression God is dead came from Nietzsche. The key word in Sartre's
philosophy, as in Kierkegaard's, is existence. But existence did not mean the
same as being alive. Plants and animals are also alive, they exist, but they
do not have to think about what it implies. Man is the only living
creature that is conscious of its own existence. Sartre said
that a material thing is simply in itself, but mankind is
for itself. The being of man is therefore not the
same as the being of things. Sartre tried to prove that
consciousness in itself is nothing until
it has perceived something. Because consciousness
is always conscious of something. And this something is
provided just as much by ourselves as by our surroundings. We are
partly instrumental in deciding what we perceive by selecting what is
significant for us. Two people can be present in the same room and yet
experience it quite differently. This is because we contribute our own meaning, or our own interests, when we perceive our surroundings. A woman who is pregnant might think she sees other pregnant women everywhere she looks. That is not because there were no pregnant women before, but because now that she is pregnant she sees the world through different eyes. An escaped convict may see policemen everywhere. Our own lives influence the way we perceive things in the room. If something is of no interest to me, I don't see it. Simone de Beauvoir attempted to apply existentialism to feminism. Sartre had already said that man has no basic nature to fall back on. We create ourselves. this is also true of the way we perceive the sexes. Simone de Beauvoir denied the existence of a basic female nature of male nature. For instance, it has been generally claimed that man has a transcending, or achieving, nature. He will therefore seek meaning and direction outside the home. Woman has been said to have the opposite life philosophy. She is immanent, which means she wishes to be where she is. She will therefore nurture her family, care for the environment and more homely things. Nowadays we might say that women are more concerned with feminine values than men. Simone did not believe in the existence of any such female nature or male nature. One the contrary, she believed that women and men must liberate themselves from such ingrown prejudices or ideals. Her main work, published in 1949, was called The Second Sex. She was talking about women.
In our culture woman are treated as the second sex. Men behave as if they
are the subjects, treating women like their objects, thus depriving
them of the responsibility for their own life. She meant
woman are exactly as free and independent as
they choose to be. Existentialism also had a great influence
on literature, from the forties to the present day,
especially on drama. Sartre himself wrote plays as well
as novels. Other important writers were Albert Camus, Samuel
Beckett, Eugène Ionesco and Witold Gombrowicz. Their characteristic
style, and that of many other modern writers, was what we call absurdism. The term is especially used about the theater of the absurd. The theater of the absurd represented a contrast to realistic theater. Its aim was to show the lack of meaning in life in order to get the audience to disagree. The idea was not to cultivate the meaningless. On the contrary. But by showing and exposing the absurd in ordinary everyday situations, the onlookers are forced to seek a truer and more essential life for themselves. The absurd theater can also have certain surrealistic features.. Its characters often find themselves in highly unrealistic and dreamlike situations. When they accept this without surprise, the audience is compelled to react in surprise at the characters' lack of surprise. This was how Charlie Chaplin worked in his silent movies. The comic effect in these silent movies was often Chaplin's laconic acceptance of all the absurd things that happen to him. That compelled the audience to look into themselves for something more genuine and true. The twentieth century has also witnessed a blossoming and a renewal of the other philosophical currents we have discussed. One such current is Neo-Thomism, that is to say ideas which belong to the tradition of Thomas Aquinas. Another is the so-called analytical philosophy or logical empiricism, which roots reaching back
to Hume and British empiricism, and even to the logic of Aristotle. Apart from these, the twentieth century has naturally also
been influenced by what we might call Neo_Marxism in a
myriad of various trends. Neo-Darwinism and
psychoanalysis also had their influence. I should just mention a
final current, materialism, which also has
historical roots. A lot of current science can be traced
back to the efforts of the pre-Socratics. For example, the search
for the indivisible elemental particle of which all matter is composed.
No one has yet been able to give a satisfactory explanation of what matter is.
Modern sciences such as nuclear physics and biochemistry are so fascinated by
the problem that for many people it constitutes a vital part of their life's philosophy.
The very questions I started this course with are still unanswered. Sartre made an important observations when he said that existential questions cannot be answered once and for all. A philosophical question is by definition something that each generation, each individual even, must ask over and over again. But, there is also a philosophy that doesn't has really historical roots, ecophilosophy, or ecosophy. as one of its founders the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess has called it. Ecophilosophy is completely about the environment. Many ecophilosophers in the western world have warned that western civilization as a whole is on a fundamentally wrong track, racing toward a head-on collision with the limits of what our planet can tolerate. They have tried to take soundings that go deeper than the concrete effects of pollution and environmental destruction. There is something basically wrong with western thought, they claim. For example, ecophilosophy has questioned the very idea of evolution in its assumption that man is at the top, as if we are masters of nature This way of thinking could prove to be fatal for the whole living planet. In criticizing this assumprion, many ecophilosophers have looked to the thinking and ideas in other cultures such as those of India. They have also studied the thoughts and customs of so-called primitive people, or native peoples such as the Native Americans, in order to rediscover what we have lost. In scientific circles in recent years it has been said that our whole mode of scientific thought is facing a paradigm shift. That is to say, a fundamental shift in the
way scientists think. This has already borne fruit in several fields. We have witnessed numerous examples of so-called alternative movements advocating holism and a
new lifestyle. However, when there are many people involved, one must always
distinguish between good and bad. Some proclaim that we are entering a new
age. But everything new is not necessarily good, and not all the old
should be thrown out. This is one of the reasons why you should
know something about philosophy. Now you have the historical
background, you can orient yourself in life. Jean-
Paul Sartre Simone
de Beauvoir 1905-1980 1908-1986 Sartre said that man's
existence takes priority over whatever he
might otherwise be. The fact that I exist takes priority
over what I am. Existence takes priority over essence. By
essence we mean that which something consists of, the nature, or
being, of something. But according to Sartre, man has no such innate nature.
Man must therefore create himself. He must create his own nature or essence,
because it is not fixed in advance. Throughout the entire history of philosophy,
philosopher have sought to discover what man is. But Sartre believed that man has no
such eternal nature to fall back on. It is therefore useless to search for the meaning of life in general. We are condemned to improvise. We are like actors dragged onto the stage without having learned our lines, with no script and no prompter to whisper stage directions to us. We must decide for ourselves how to live. Sartre says that man feels alien in a world without meaning. When he describes man's alienation, he is echoing the central ideas of Hegel and Marx. Man's feeling of alienation in the world creates a sense of despair, boredom, nausea, and absurdity. Sartre was describing the twentieth-century city dweller. You remember that the Renaissance humanists had drawn attention, almost triumphantly, to man's freedom and independence? Sartre experienced man's freedom as a curse. "Man is condemned to be free," he said. "Condemned because he has not created himself, and is nevertheless free. Because having once been hurled into the world, he is responsible for everything he does." Nevertheless we are free individuals, and this freedom condemns us to make choices throughout our lives. There are no eternal values or norms we can adhere to, which makes our choices even mo4re significant. Because we are totally responsible for everything we do. Sartre emphasized that man must never disclaim the responsibility for his actions. Nor can we avoid the responsibility of making our own choices on the grounds that we must go to work, or we must live up to certain middle-class expectations regarding how we should live. those who thus slip into the anonymous masses will never be other than members of the impersonal flock, having fled from themselves into self-deception. On the other hand our freedom obliges us to make something of ourselves, to live authentically or truly. This is not least the case as regards our ethical choices. We can never lay the blame
on human nature, or human frailty or anything like that. Now and then it happens that grown men behave like pigs and then blame it on the old Adam. But there is no old
Adam. He is merely a figure we clutch at to avoid taking responsibility for our
own actions. Although Sartre claimed there was no innate meaning to life,
he did not mean that nothing mattered. He was not what we call a
nihilist. Sartre believed that life must have meaning. It is an
imperative. But it is we ourselves who must create this
meaning in our own lives. To exist is to create
your own life. Afterword This is it, a (short) summary about 3000 years of philosophy, I hope you enjoyed it. I did my best not to offend someone, if I did so, I'm sorry. This prezi is the tip of the iceberg, there is much more information to find. For the ones who are interested, all the information here I got from the book "Sophie's World" from Jostein Gaarder, a really good book, which tells the same as this prezi, but better, with more examples, and also a bit more amusing. I want to end with this: Stay climbing up the fine hairs of the white rabbit!