Last Wednesday we had our lecture outside on the steps of the JUB and we kicked off our discussion group with the issue of whether or not certain animals can express certain emotions and whether or not they have souls. Even though "All Dogs Go To Heaven" is a great movie, I think my theology and philosophy does not line up with that sentiment. I loved my dog even more than I love some people that are close to me, and when we had to put him down it was one of the worst experiences of my life, but I don't feel that he ever "loved" me in the traditional sense and I don't believe that I will see him in the great beyond. We then moved on to a deeper discussion of what makes us human and why we believe what we believe. I don't remember much more than that because of how long ago it was, but I do remember the interesting conversation that Jami and I had with Dr. Oliver after class was over. We talked about how fraternities could be beneficial because they provide a powerful support network for their members and they work for the uplift of mankind through the discussion of ideals. Dr. Oliver also told Jami and I about everything he had to do to get his doctorate. It was pretty interesting!
Going back to last week's readings, I've always loved Immanuel Kant, but Bentham presents a better moral philosophy than the great metaphysician and epistemologist. Utilitarianism has always been a political philosophy that I have agreed with, even to the point of Machiavelli's "Do the ends justify the means?" judgement of what is wrong and what is right. As Bentham puts it - "The greatest happiness for the greatest number." Moving on to this week, I am really glad the we finally got to Hegel. His dialectic finally addresses the problem I had been noticing with almost all of our other philosophers: they assert the perfection of their ideas and completely reject the ideas of those that went before them. Hegel confronts this process and as Robert Stern says, "Hegel presents it, that is, by going back to Plato and to dialogue and to discussion, but adding to that the particular concern that Hegel had, which was that, especially in philosophy, one should avoid dogmatic presentation of your views..." We should all work towards attaining the Golden Mean and the "via media." That is one of the reasons that I love the Anglican Church so much. While mainstream Protestantism went to the polar opposite of orthodoxy to avoid the Catholic stereotype, the Anglican Church retained the orthodoxy, but fixed the heresies to make a synthesis out of the Catholic thesis versus Protestant antithesis.
Here's an image that shows how Marx used Hegel's dialectic: