Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, September 23, 2013

God, Justice, and Superheroes for the Philosoraptors!

Today in CoPhi we discussed the idea of the existence of God and Justice and how the modern philosophers in America the Philosophical critiqued the thoughts of the older philosophers from the Little History and Philosophy Bites. It's kind of interesting to see the history of philosophy intertwined like this; it's kind of like a comparative course in that way. In our small group discussion we talked about our chapters from Superheroes and Philosophy and how we wanted to present the material. Avery, Nathan, and I had an interesting conversation about theology and superheroes, as well as ethics, which relates to our Little History and Philosophy Bites philosopher, Thomas Aquinas.

Here's a list of factual questions that Jami compiled for our study guide:

Q: What was the name of Epicurus' "school"?
A: The Garden

Q: Which stoic philosopher wrote a book titled "On Old Age"?
A: Cicero

Q: What does it mean to be philosophical?
A: It means to accept what you cannot change

Q: What was Augustine's real name?
A: Aurelius Agustinus

Q: Where was Boethius when he wrote "The Consolation of Philosophy"?
A: In prison awaiting execution

Q: What is the attempt to explain and defend how a good God could allow suffering?
A: Theodicy 

Q: What title did Anselm and Aquinas share?
A: They were both saints

Q: What was the title of the argument that Aquinas took up that stated existence had a definitive beginning?
A: First Cause Argument

Q: What did Aristotle consider the two virtues of character?
A: self-regarding and other-regarding

Q: What was the name of Aristotle's School?
A: The Lyceum

Here's a discussion question for all of us - In regards to Bertrand Russell's "conversion" to atheism, do you think it is a rational decision to say that a position is inherently wrong just because an answer cannot be provided to question asked about that position?




  1. Comment- I do think it is wrong that you can say that a position is wrong just because an answer can't be provided.

    Question- Did I read the book for the superheroes and philsophy?

    Link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ8PiXnKfDg .. its kind of long but really interesting.

    Discussion- Is Chik Fil A better than Subway? Also, is god real?

  2. I don't think that a position is wrong just because there is no answer to a question. The person may just not know the answer but I'm sure its there.

    Factual Question (LH)-What does the word virtu mean? And Italian word for "manliness" or valour

    Discussion Question (LH)- Do you think Machiavelli was an evil person?
    I think he could've been somewhat evil. The fact that he thought it was ok to lie and murder your enemies is just morally wrong. And he thought a prince didn't need to be good, they just needed to stay in power. Seems to me that he only thought of himself and would do anything and everything to stay on top.

    Here is a link to Machiavelli's philosophy

  3. I feel like Bertrand Russell just needed a more interesting back story to spice up an otherwise sad and confusing childhood.

    FQ: (LH) What did Hobbes call the agreement people living in the state of nature would have to enter into for safety at the expense of their freedom? The "social contract"

    DQ: (PB) Do you believe in fortune? If you do, do you believe it can be "mastered?"

    1. Funny Machiavelli comic: http://lifeexaminations.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/calvin_and_hobbes_ethics.jpg

  4. Ben Nguyen 16-18:22 PM CDT

    In accordance with your DQ: I think people have the right to believe what they want with full faith. I might not agree with it being rational since rationalizing usually requires knowledge over the topic, but just because an answer is not provided does not mean there is not one.

  5. I go with the idea of "innocent until proven guilty". In other words, "right until proven wrong."

    As for my DQ: Do you agree with Hobbes's and Machiavelli's idea that humans are selfish and that we are driven by the fear of death and the hope of personal gain?

    I could probably talk for an hour on this question, but I will leave it to: Yes, we humans are selfish. Without humans being selfish, as well as self-less (because you are capable of being both) society would not function correctly. Yes, we are also driven by fear of death, otherwise we would not get anything accomplished in our lives. I agree with what they both say, but why is it a bad thing? It sounds like those boys had some inferiority issues...

    FQ (LH): What philosopher, despite a rough and sickly childhood, lived to be 91? Answer: Thomas Hobbes

    I hope that those 10 questions are decent enough and thanks, John, for posting them for me! I'll see you all in class tomorrow!

    Also, I'm a very visual person, so here are links to portraits of Hobbes and Machiavelli:


  6. Summary of Chapter 3.. The Crimson Viper is a big theme here.
    What the problem seems to be is that people aren't used to new things, they like to stay in the past.
    What the problem is
    That people don't like change, and life is continuously changing.
    The one constant is change
    Look at most of the comic book character they have evolved from some greek god, mythology, or a basic human concept.
    The Scheme of a Meme
    Changes come slowly, yet over time if you compare them to their original counter parts they look drastic. If you change from TV to a comic the changes look even more drastic.

  7. FQ: What was the title of Machiavelli's first book? The Prince
    DQ: In the the text, the author describes some more modern politicians (Hitler, Hussein, Mugabe, etc.) as "machiavellian". Do these examples prove or disprove the efficacy of the principles described in The Prince?

    Summary: Chapter Four deals with the concepts of superheroes and moral relativism. In other words, it examines the "goodness" or the "badness" of Batman's vigilantiism, and whether or not it is truly "good" or "bad", and whether or not that "goodness" or "badness" is affected by Batman's intention or purpose (Hello, Machiavelli!). As most people are familiar with Batman's storyline, I won't explain any further, as it is readily apparent.

    It also examines the Cold War-era Watchmen, particularly the decisions made by Rorschach, Ozymandius, and Dr. Manhattan. In the story, Ozymandius, a billionaire super genius/super hero/philosopher (think Bruce Wayne but with less emotional baggage) forms a plot to destroy most of New York City and its millions of inhabitants and blame the attack on an alien invasion. He hypothesizes that this will galvanize the people of earth against its supposed invaders and end the nuclear brinksmanship that threatens to destroy human civilization. Another group of superheroes, composed primarily of Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan, learn of this threat and attempt to stop Ozymandius. They arrive too late, and Ozymandius's plan goes off without a hitch. The world is saved and united like never before in our history, while millions lay dead in the streets of New York.

    Does this make Ozymandius a bad guy? We have to think in the context of the Cold War when the threat of nuclear war was VERY real, and no one knew it would end (somewhat) peacefully. He sacrificed millions to save billions. Does the end justify the means? "Is it sadly necessary? Or is it irredeemably evil?" the book asks.

  8. Rorschach, on the other hand, can't accept that this might be a moral grey area. He only deals in absolutes, and to him, Ozymandius is a monster. Rorschach attacks Ozymandius, and Ozymandius allows himself to be beaten mercilesslly, offering no defense, even considering it a small penance for his "necessary sins". Rorschach ends his assault and resolves to tell the world what really happened.

    Ozymandius cautions Rorschach against this. If he reveals the plot, not only will millions have died for nothing, but Ozymandius (the supergenius) has calculated that it would push us straight into a nuclear war, as the Watchmen are generally considered to be agents of the United States.

    Rorschach leaves anyway, determined to expose him. Does this make Rorschach a "good" guy? Or does it just make him stubbornly obsessed with his version of justice? Should we reject the utilitarian ethics when it comes to mass murder? How many human lives, then, are worth the rest of civilization?

    Dr. Manhattan, a detached god-like figure and the only true superhuman of the group, decides that he cannot allow Rorschach to tell anyone what has happened. To Dr. Manhattan it is a simple cost/benefit problem, and the answer is easy. He pops Rorshach out of existance and runs away to Mars, content that the earth will continue without his help.

    At the end of chapter four, the real questions come out. While the millions vs. billions of lives is an interesting thought experiment, the real point is "Who decides?", or in the words of Juvenal: "Who watches the watchmen?" What keeps these people honest, and what moral compass guides them? Do we want Rorschach's clear cut version of right and wrong, or Dr. Manhattan's detached analysis of what benefits the largest population?

    I had tons of stuff for you, but ran out of time. So addressing Dr. Oliver's discussion of "fairness" as it relates to a child, I give you Louis C.K.: http://www.aish.com/j/jt/Jtube_Louie_Its_Not_Fair.html