Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Outside the comfort zone

Unexpected wisdom from Nashville's chief of police (especially so, for those of us who remember old Chief Casey), defending his troops' unexpected lenience towards recent protesters:
As imperfect humans, we have a tendency to limit our association with other persons to those persons who are most like us.  Unfortunately, there is even more of a human tendency to stay within our comfort zone by further narrowing those associations to those persons who share our thoughts and opinions.  By doing this we can avoid giving consideration to thoughts and ideas different than our own.  This would make us uncomfortable.  By considering only the thoughts and ideas we are in agreement with, we stay in our comfort zone.  Our own biases get reinforced and reflected back at us leaving no room for any opinion but our own.  By doing this, we often convince ourselves that the majority of the world shares opinion and that anyone with another opinion is, obviously, wrong.
It is only when we go outside that comfort zone, and subject ourselves to the discomfort of considering thoughts we don’t agree with, that we can make an informed judgment on any matter.  We can still disagree and maintain our opinions, but we can now do so knowing that the issue has been given consideration from all four sides.  Or, if we truly give fair consideration to all points of view, we may need to swallow our pride and amend our original thoughts.
And, it is only by giving consideration to the thoughts of all persons, even those that disagree with us, that we can have an understanding as to what constitutes a majority.
That's great advice for CoPhilosophers, too.

Happy 2015

William James once resolved that his first act of free will would be to believe in, and act on, his own free will. That's a good way to start a new year. John Horgan thinks so too.
At this time of year, I like to hearten others making New Year’s resolutions by defending free will, which has been attacked by various scientific pundits (who are just misguided, not stupid or evil). After all, how can you believe in resolutions unless you believe in free will? ...in his 2003 book Freedom Evolves, Dennett lays out a sensible, down to earth view of free will. He notes, first, that free will is “not what tradition declares it to be: a God-like power to exempt oneself from the causal fabric of the physical world.” Free will is simply our ability to perceive, mull over and act upon choices; in fact, choice, or even freedom, are reasonable synonyms for free will.
Dennett calls free will “an evolved creation of human activity and beliefs,” which humanity acquired recently as a consequence of language and culture. Free will is a variable rather than binary property, which can wax and wane in both individuals and societies; the more choices we can perceive and act upon, the more free will we have. Dennett’s most subtle, profound point is that free will is both an “objective phenomenon” and dependent on our belief in and perception of it, “like language, music, money and other products of society.” (continues

Monday, December 29, 2014

All good parties

“It’s considered perfectly normal in this society to approach dying people who you don’t know, but who are unbelievers, and say, ‘Now are you gonna change your mind [about the existence of God]?’ That is considered almost a polite question.” “It’s a religious falsification that people like myself scream for a priest at the end. Most of us go to our end with dignity.”
After spending years as an unapologetic atheist, Hitchens also wasn’t going to start believing in an afterlife  — or what he half jokingly called “The Never Ending Party.” 

Against invulnerability

"Like many of us, I am often troubled. I am distressed by my failure to be more than I am: a better philosopher, a better family member, a better person. And I know that if I could take a little more distance on the daily goings-on in my world that trouble me, I would probably be better in many if not all of these ways. This knowledge leads me to think of those philosophies that counsel rising above the things that disturb me so that I may arrive at a tranquil state of mind. Philosophies like Buddhism, Stoicism, Taoism, and possibly Epicureanism (the ancient philosophy, not its modern association with pleasures of the flesh) offer different ways of achieving such a tranquil state, and so they are tempting. I believe, however, that for most of us they are a false if beguiling path..."(continues)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The joy of stoicism

In defense of the much maligned and misunderstood Stoics:
We do this to our philosophies. We redraft their contours based on projected shadows, or give them a cartoonish shape like a caricaturist emphasising all the wrong features. This is how Buddhism becomes, in the popular imagination, a doctrine of passivity and even laziness, while Existentialism becomes synonymous with apathy and futile despair. Something similar has happened to Stoicism, which is considered – when considered at all – a philosophy of grim endurance, of carrying on rather than getting over, of tolerating rather than transcending life’s agonies and adversities.
No wonder it’s not more popular. No wonder the Stoic sage, in Western culture, has never obtained the popularity of the Zen master. Even though Stoicism is far more accessible, not only does it lack the exotic mystique of Eastern practice; it’s also regarded as a philosophy of merely breaking even while remaining determinedly impassive. What this attitude ignores is the promise proffered by Stoicism of lasting transcendence and imperturbable tranquility.
It ignores gratitude, too. This is part of the tranquility, because it’s what makes the tranquility possible. Stoicism is, as much as anything, a philosophy of gratitude – and a gratitude, moreover, rugged enough to endure anything... (continues)

Monday, December 8, 2014

The big question

Good luck with exams and with life, everyone. Remember, curiosity is its own reason for existing. Keep asking those questions. (But don't ask about your course grade until Dec.15, please.)

"How do you determine a student's grade?"
--"Well, I add up the grades for the essays, quizzes, the midterm and final. I average them out. Then I consult my stomach."
That's what the late Fred Stocking, Williams College Shakespearian scholar, told his student (now NPR reporter) Barbara Bradley Hagerty. And it's now my stock answer to the perennial question too. 
I also look at how many runs you scored, of course.
[Hagerty's radio tribute]

Section 10 Final Standings

Thanks, Billy. Go Sox!

And in other late-breaking news... Aubrey's new blog all about our neighbors at The Farm: 
http://aubreykphilosophay.blogspot.com/ and her presentation:  http://prezi.com/t-dtr3n5cl70/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Exam 3 Study Guide


1. Q: Reading whose autobiography led young Bertrand Russell to reject God?
A: John Stewart Mills

2. Q: The idea of a barber who shaves all who don't shave themselves is a logical ____, a seeming contradiction that is both true and false. Another example of the same thing would be a statement like "this sentence is _____."
A: Paradox; false

3. Q: When Simone de Beauvoir said women are not born that way, she meant that they tend to accept what?
A: Men's Judgement

4. Q: Which young mathematical prodigy created the Redundancy Theory of Truth, according to which theory is unnecessary?
A: Frank Ramsey

5. Q: T/F: For Kierkegaard, the "Danish Socrates," the point of the Abraham/Isaac story is simply not to doubt God's word.
A: False

6. Q: T/F: Claire Carlisle says Kierkegaard perceived a complacency of faith among his fellow Christians, and wanted his readers to question whether Abraham did the right thing?
A: True

7. Q: For Karl Marx, history was what kind of struggle, involving whom?
A: A class struggle between have and have-nots.

8. Q: Schopenhauer was _____ in general, but ______ about the possibility of personal "enlightenment." (optimistic/pessimistic)
A: Pessimistic: Optimistic

9. Q: In what 1859 book did J.S. Mill defend "giving each person space to develop as they saw fit?"
 A: On Liberty

10. Q: Who thought he might better understand Hegel if he first ingested nitrous oxide before reading The Phenomenology of Spirit?
A: William James

1. Wittgenstein's main message was that _____ lie beyond the limits of our understanding and that we should probably stay silent about them. LH 203

2. Hannah Arendt described the Nazi Eichmann with the phrase _________, suggesting that the most ordinary-seeming people are capable of great evil. LH 212

3. John Rawls' "stroke of genius" was a thought experiment called the ______, in which people are presumed to select principles of justice behind a veil of _______. LH 230

4. Alan Turing designed a test for _______. LH 235

5. John Searle's ______ Room thought experiment was designed to show that computers ____ (can, can't) think. LH 234

6. Peter Singer calls those who don't give enough weight to the interests of animals _____. LH 243
1. Reading whose autobiography led young Bertrand Russell to reject God? OR, What did he see as the logical problem with the First Cause Argument? LH 185

2. The idea of a barber who shaves all who don't shave themselves is a logical ______, a seeming contradiction that is both true and false. Another example of the same thing would be a statement like "This sentence is ___." LH 186

3. A.J. Ayer's ______ Principle, stated in his 1936 book Language, Truth and Logic, was part of the movement known as _____ ______. LH 190

4. Jean-Paul Sartre's philosophy of freedom and personal responsibility, which denied that humans possess a common essence, was called ________. LH 200

5. When Simone de Beauvoir said women are not born that way, she meant that they tend to accept what? LH 200

6. Which Greek myth did Albert Camus use to illustrate human absurdity, as he saw it? LH 200

1. _____, for C.S. Peirce,  is what we would end up with if we could run all the relevant scientific experiments; it is inseparable from its practical consequences, and it is what works. LH 166

2. Bertrand Russell made fun of William James's pragmatic theory of truth by saying it implied that _____ exists. LH 168

3. _______ was a 20th century pragmatist who said we should think of words as tools, not as a mirror of nature. LH 169

4. (T/F) By announcing that "God is dead," Nietzsche was saying that God had been alive at one time and now wasn't. LH  171

5. Freud thought he'd achieved a revolution in thought with his "discovery" of what? LH 177

6. According to Aaron Ridley, Nietzsche blamed what ancient philosopher for bringing about "the death of tragedy" and an equation between reason and reality? LH 174

1. (T/F) For Kierkegaard, the "Danish Socrates," the point of the Abraham/Isaac story is simply not to doubt God's word. LH 152

2. (T/F) Kierkegaard thought real Christians should find it easy to follow their faith, even if that sometimes means being irrational or abandoning ethics. LH 155

3. (T/F) Clare Carlisle says Kierkegaard perceived a complacency of faith among his fellow Christians, and wanted his readers to question whether Abraham did the right thing. PB 167

4. For Karl Marx, history was what kind of struggle, involving whom? LH 159

5. Marx's famous slogan, describing the governing principle in a post-capitalist utopia:  "____ according to ability, _____ according to need." LH 161

6. Marx called religion the "____ of the people." LH 162


1. Hegel ____  (accepted, rejected) Kant's view that noumenal reality lies beyond our reach, and that we can know only the appearances of things in the phenomenal world. LH 128

2. Schopenhauer was _____  in general, but ______ about the possibility of personal "enlightenment". (optimistic, pessimistic)  LH 132-3

3. In what 1859 book did J.S. Mill defend "giving each person space to develop as they saw fit"? LH 141

4. What did Daniel Dennett call "the single best idea anyone has ever had"? LH 146

5. Stern says Hegel's philosophy is ______ (similar to, different from) Mill's in its emphasis on progress, optimism, and freedom of speech. PB 152-3

6. Reeves says for Mill, a good life is happy and ______ . PB 163

For extra credit, supply and answer your own discussion question OR answer this one: Who's your favorite philosopher? Why?

For extra extra credit, translate "Sapere Aude"... and then do it. Good luck, CoPhi '14.

Kierkegaard (Final Report - Summer Lowery)

Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher born on May 5th, 1813. He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and he passed away there at the young age of 42 on November 11th 1855. Kierkegaard’s father experienced a great deal of loneliness and suffering as a child and often turned to God for refuge. One day after doing so, his situation greatly improved and he became a successful business man and hosier. He was lucky enough to have the ability to retire at the mere age of 40. Kierkegaard’s mother was his father’s second wife and Kierkegaard did not speak of her nor journal of her much and she passed away when he was only twenty-one. Unlike when his mother passed, Kierkegaard wrote in his journal about his father’s passing “It was then the great earthquake occurred, the terrible upheaval which suddenly pressed on me a new infallible law for the interpretation of all phenomena. It was then I suspected my father's great age was not a divine blessing but rather a curse; that our family's excellent mental abilities existed only for tearing us apart from one another; I felt the stillness of death spreading over me when I saw in my father an unhappy person who would survive us all, a monumental cross on the grave of all his expectations. A guilt must weigh on the entire family, God's punishment must be upon it; it was meant to disappear, expunged by God's mighty hand, deleted like an unsuccessful attempt, and I only occasionally found some little solace in the thought that upon my father had fallen the heavy duty of reassuring us with the consolation of religion, administering the last sacrament, so that a better world might still stand open for us even if we lost everything in this one, even if that punishment the Jews always called down upon their foes were to fall on us; that all memory of us would be wiped out and no trace found (II A 805)” (Storm). This quote from his entry is Kierkegaard acknowledging his father’s death as a sacrifice of sorts for his own personal sins. Kierkegaard was a very materialistic adolescent. He often bought clothes, food, and drinks and in general spent money without care. He created a large amount of debt that his father reluctantly had to deal with. In 1830, at the age of 17 Kierkegaard began attending the University of Copenhagen, as his father wished, studying for a degree in theology. He was a remarkable student but not very consistent with his time at the University. After his father passed he was inspired to work even harder in his school, to bring pride to the family name and hopefully his father. He received a degree in theology in 1840. In addition, around this time Kierkegaard fell in love. He had fancied Regine Olsen for years but could not pursue her before because she was too young. However, they became engaged in 1840 when she was eighteen years old. Regine was from a well-off family in Copenhagen just like Kierkegaard, because of his inheritance. His engagement was a basis for a literary love story in the working too. Unfortunately, Kierkegaard broke off his engagement with Regine within the following year. It seems he was vastly torn between staying in solitude and leading a life with a wife and children. “Regine attempted to appease Kierkegaard and win his heart, even

after his unusual treatment of her, but he rebuffed her advances. Kierkegaard claimed he wanted to force Regine away from him, so she would marry another man. It is possible he did not think himself worthy. It is also possible he did not want to deal with the emotions associated with romance. Regardless, he tried to be “indifferent” and drive Regine out of his life” (Wyatt). Kierkegaard was a very unusual man who had trouble with social interaction which some believed to be the causal of him ending his engagement since much evidence supports him truly caring of Regine; however, his own personal battles denied him the privilege of feeling emotionally comfortable with the concept of marriage.

Throughout this period of his life Kierkegaard was writing On the Concept of Irony: with the constant reference to Socrates (1841) which was his master’s thesis. This was a time in his life where he dealt with many emotional strains and he coped with this by burying himself in his work. On the Concept of Irony was a major work that was completed in less than a year. “The writing style was nothing like the professors had read before; some were less than impressed while others were stunned. The writing was as complex and convoluted as the author himself. Although the university awarded a degree to Kierkegaard, records indicate it was not an easy decision for the professors accustomed to more traditional works” (Wyatt). Recently after he finished this work he began to travel, taking four trips. When Kierkegaard was leaving Vor Frue Church he saw Regine who nodded to him. This was a great deal to Kierkegaard because he took it as a sign that the former love of his life had forgave him. He wrote in his journal about it. “At Vespers on Easter Sunday in Frue Kirke (during Mynster's sermon), she nodded to me. I do not know if it was pleadingly or forgivingly, but in any case very affectionately. I had sat down in a place apart, but she discovered it. Would to God that she had not done so. Now a year and a half of suffering and all the enormous pains I took are wasted; she does not believe that I was a deceiver, she has faith in me. What ordeals now lie ahead of her. The next will be that I am a hypocrite. The higher we go, the more dreadful it is. That a man of my inwardness, of my religiousness, could act in such a way. And yet I can no longer live solely for her, cannot expose myself to the contempt of men in order to lose my honor—that I have done. Shall I in sheer madness go ahead and become a villain just to get her to believe it—ah, what help is that. She will still believe that I was not that before (Journals, IV A 97)” (Storm). This entry is evidence of how much he cared for Regine. After he ended their engagement he never married nor dated again.

Kierkegaard’s next work was titled Either/ Or which was in response to philosophers Hegel and Schelling’s views. Another one of his works was called Fear and Trembling. In both of these works Kierkegaard used pseudonyms instead of his actual name as the author. The reason behind this was not to necessarily hide that he was the author but rather to benefit upon the story and help the narrative come to life because his pseudonyms were typically characters from the stories. Kierkegaard was mostly a philosopher who asked how human life should be lived. He was believed to be one of the fathers of existentialism, which is a theory that focuses upon the existence of individuals as a free agent. Kierkegaard was also a devote Christian. However, he disliked the Danish church and despised the complacent attitude that his fellow Christians portrayed; this view made him widely unpopular. He believed that his faith was more

important than his social duties. For example, the biblical story in which Abraham believes he is told by God to sacrifice his son. Abraham begins his three day journey up to Mount Moriah where he must take him to a stone altar and sacrifice him as God instructed. Shockingly, as Abraham is about to put the knife to his son’s throat God sends an Angel to stop him. God lets his son live as a reward for Abraham’s loyalty. This story is an excellent portrayal of the way Kierkegaard believed all Christians should behave. ”Prayer does not change God but it changes him who prays”-Soren Kierkegaard. He thought that a persons’ faith needed to be the top priority in their life. It outweighed the idea of human ethics to him. In the book, Either/Or he discussed the idea that people choose between two “existence spheres”. The first being aesthetic and the other ethical. People who led aesthetical lives were focused on aesthetics such as things of pleasure, novelty, and romance. Kierkegaard believed that these aspects would eventually lead to boredom or result in a meaningless and purely materialistic life. However, ethical lives he thought would be the easiest and most common among social norms. Kierkegaard thought they would be filled with lots of compromise though. An ethical life led to a moral one which would result in sacrifices being made and he believed this life would result in the eroding of a person’s integrity. One of the many factors that played into which “sphere” a person chose was their personal choices they made and the life they led. For example, the environment they were raised in and the way people treated them and the way they treated themselves. Unfortunately, Kierkegaard did not believe that either of these “spheres” led to a satisfactory life. In later works, Kierkegaard brought up another “sphere” one that was religious. He believed people in this sphere “lived in the truth” and could achieve a purpose in life. This was the one Kierkegaard regarded as his personal choice in life, it was extremely individualistic and subjective. Kierkegaard’s entire philosophy was based upon the idea of a subjective point of view. The point of most of his works was to invoke individual thought which is why he made it so difficult to interpret what he meant throughout his works. The idea of an individual point of view was of the utmost importance to him. It was all about the way a person viewed their life and their ability to do whatever with it. He was passionate about our capability of free will and being a free agent of our own lives. We have no rules or authority figures unless we accept them into our lives. Kierkegaard believed that the present age was reflective and that the meaning of values are beginning to disappear from the way we act. His opinion was that humanity is entirely subjective. The idea of thinking out your choices was ridiculous to him and he wanted people to just simply live their lives. Kierkegaard was incredibly passionate about religion and his relationship with God. He believed people were alienating themselves from God because they were living in the world too much. His view was that they were not in touch with themselves internally and needed to regain that relationship with their internal emotions and soul. Kierkegaard lived a religious life since he was born, coming from a father who constantly sought refuge in God, and getting a degree in theology and pursuing a career of a pastor. These are all causes of why religion is such a major part of his philosophy. His view on religion along with his personal relationship with God focused mostly on the idea of faith. He only thought it was worth it if you gave it your all, 100% belief, faith, and trust in God. This is why his own local church angered him so much because the people he saw surrounding him there were not faithful and merely attended church because it was the right and normal social

thing for a person to do. In Kierkegaard’s later years he accused the Lutheran Church in Denmark of being corrupt and even made public complaints. Kierkegaard died in 1855 and it was believed that the devotion and intensity of his many books and private journals along with the controversy with the church were all contributing factors to it. Kierkegaard was not popular nor fully appreciated in his lifetime. Fortunately, in the twentieth century the existentialist Jean Paul Sartre took a liking to his works. In addition, Kierkegaard’s belief were extremely related to the popular Karl Marx one of the main differences being Marx did not believe in salvation through religion. Altogether, Kierkegaard’s philosophy revolved around the everyday occurrence of individuals making choice and the idea of a subjective point of view.

Summer Lowery

Work’s cited

Wyatt, C.S. "Søren Kierkegaard the Original Leap of Faith." Existential Primer: Søren Kierkegaard. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.

Storm, Anthony. "D. Anthony Storm's Commentary on Kierkegaard." Kierkegaard, D. Anthony Storm's Commentary on. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.

McDonald, William. "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.

"Soren Kierkegaard Biography Philosophy of Existentialism." Kierkegaard Biography Philosophy Existentialism. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.

A Little History of Philosophy. Nigel Warburton. Yale University Press. 2011. Print.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Human Nature: Philosophic POV

Human Nature:
Philosophic Point of View

Dylan White
Philosophy 1030: Co-Philosophy
November 26, 2014

          Three philosophers and a college student: Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, and myself; these four minds combined into one paper observing human nature. Each philosopher is prevalent in his own right, and all have contributed to the betterment of philosophy. When a person looks back on the history of philosophy, that person will notice every one of these men as a noticeable figure that turned the ideals of formerly accepted philosophies to that of the modern view of philosophy.
Descartes was an influential philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment and these philosophers will be observed around him in chronological order. Originating from France, René Descartes developed a method to determine exactly what it is he could know for sure; this method is known, as the Method of Cartesian Doubt.[1] Another name for Descartes is the “Father of Modern Philosophy” due to his break with traditional Scholastic-Aristotelian philosophy and the creation of the mechanistic sciences.[2]
Human nature for this purpose will be considered the freedom of a person. A couple of the philosophers here discuss how free people are to make their own decisions and one mentions their reasoning for doing so. There are other philosophers not mentioned here that believe the same thing. One may go as far as to say that it is the decisions a person makes that makes them free instead of their freedom offering them the chance to make decisions.
            This is applicable to real life because people exist, and if they did not then these words would not even apply to reality. Determine that for a moment: without people then there would be no one to write this, nobody to read it, and no person in the past to come up with these ideas to be discussed. Simply put, the reason it is applicable is because there are people for it to apply to. Furthermore, it applies to life because there are statistics that show how relevant this is to life.
Beginning with motivation, leading to government enchainment, and finishing with being born free, it is almost as if the philosophers planned to be born in a sequential order developing this thought in a building fashion. This sequence forms one of the best thoughts that could be formed by different people over the course of several years. Starting with Thomas Hobbes, moving to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and ending with John Stuart Mill, there are few philosophers who can hold a candle to these men.

First, Hobbes discusses the motivation of a person to do the things that they do. Motivation is thought of as the reason people determine their freedom. Suppose someone is motivated to go take a nap instead of going to class, then that person determines he or she is free to go nap whatever consequences they incur due to skipping class.
Hobbes is a pre-Cartesian, English philosopher, who was born in 1588[3] and influenced by the world before Descartes’ arrival, who came along eight years later. As the fitness-frenzied man that he was, he lived to be ninety-nine where the average age for his time was thirty-five.He lived a long life for his time—he must have been very wise. He lived his whole life trying to stay fit and better himself, playing tennis well into old age, walking up a hill quickly until he was out of breathe, and singing in secluded areas to exercise his lungs.3 Finally, he was a politician who saw that people were greedy for power on a daily basis. 
He believed everyone was greedy for power over others.[4] Of course, today it is easy to agree with him when one observes political campaigns, corporate fraud, and the like. Look no further than this class and run scoring to witness the power struggle. Moreover, there is a more recent development that even little ones choose careers in order to have power over others. According to “wewomen.com,” children between the ages of five to eleven changed their top two choices for careers from teacher and banking/finance to sportsman and pop star in 2010 showing that over the past twenty-five years they changed to choose a career for the power they have over others.[5]
Politicians surrounded Hobbes so one may go as far to argue that the company he kept biased his point of view. Plus, there are people that claim some people are not as greedy or power hungry as Hobbes makes them out to be. It is difficult to attain both power and respect, claims Harvard Business Review[6], and “it is much safer to be feared than loved.”[7] However, this is not a large enough number of people that are neither greedy nor power hungry to matter.
Many politicians are thought to be corrupt and selfish, and if that is true, then Hobbes may very well have been biased to this issue. When a person stands in dense woods, the only things that person can see are the trees that surround him. Hobbes forest was in politics and the only thing he saw was the corruption and the greed, if the rumors of politicians are correct.

Next, Rousseau expresses his belief that people are slaves to their government. People are slaves because they allow themselves to be chained by the government, and that is because they are greedy and hungry for power over others. Cities corrupt people and monetary objects cause even more problems, says Rousseau.[8]
Rousseau was a post-Cartesian, Swiss philosopher who wound up helping to inspire the French revolution.[9] He did not enjoy the attention he received; he preferred to be alone in nature.[10] Alternatively, the Catholic Church was not a huge fan of his; it had banned several of his books for being unconventional.[11]
He believed “‘man was born free, and everywhere was in chains,’” and that envy and greed grew out of living together in cities.[12] Although Rousseau was no anarchist, he believed government had too much power over the people. Anarchists believe in an unruly world without laws or government, which he appreciated, but he realized the dangers of that occurring.
In contrast, could everyone, without a government, get along peacefully? Is it possible that with his ideas, we could have a “Purge” movie society? No. Anarchy is believed by many people to be the worst possible thing to happen; conversely, what Rousseau is suggesting is that the human population be released from the grasp of cities and governments with power and have a collective sovereign such as a democracy or a republic. 
A man who enjoyed being alone, Rousseau felt peaceful while in nature and anxious while in the city so he was not fond of the city. Another name for his idea is known as the General Will, which is the will that is best for everyone as a whole and not each individual person.[13] So, he should assume that the United States is the most perfect place on Earth at the moment, even though it is far from perfect. 

Continually, Mill deduces that people are to receive freedom. Nobody should be governed unless they are doing something they should not be doing. This is what he decided would bring about the most possible pleasure. Being allowed very little as a child, he wanted to prove that he was not just what other people wanted him to be.[14]
Yet another post-Cartesian philosopher, this one descends from Britain and was largely influenced by his father who followed the beliefs of John Locke who thought children’s minds were blank slates.[15] This devotion to Locke led Mill’s father to force him into concentrating on academics and staying away from the other children.[16] When Mill got older, he was consider somewhat of a genius and became a campaigner against justice, an early feminist, a politician, a journalist, and a Utilitarian philosopher.[17]
He believed one should be free to make his or her choices without the interference of society. His deduction is known as the Harm Principle; all adults should be allowed to do whatever they want as long as no one is harmed in the process.[18] More so, Mill did not believe it was just government that was parenting other adults; Mill believed that the majority of the population decided what is right and wrong and everyone is guided between what society determined to be the correct thing to do.[19] 
On the other hand, a parent(s) that believed in controlling a child to a certain degree to keep them from getting hurt reared them. He suggests in this case that paternalism is fine when it is focused on children and only children.[20] One good example that the genius, Mill, himself makes is: if geniuses are guided by society, then they will not have the opportunity to blossom like they ought to and will not offer the world their brilliance.[21]
Mill was a sheltered child with no opportunity to meet kids his own age. “Though he never really got over his strange childhood and remained lonely a bit distant throughout his life,” he was still “a prodigy.”[22] Because of his intelligence and his closeness with Jeremy Bentham[23], he was able to create the Harm Principle, thus significantly impacting not only the rest of society, but future generations as well.

Then, as I began philosophy I had an idea of what my thoughts on the world were. Believing people to be evil creatures that should be avoided at all costs, I was reclusive. Reading about these three philosophers led me to believe differently.
Influenced by the Christian religion, and constantly seeking to change and adapt, I learned quickly from these three men. They have strengthened me in my faith, affected my attitude towards humanity, and won me over with their convincing theories. 
Believing we have the freedom to make our own choices, but often times those choices are selfish and greedy for power over others, is the new outlook I have developed from studying these intriguing philosophies. When a person decides to do something nice for someone else, odds are they do it because they believe they will get something out of it. It is simply human nature.
Alternately, the Christian religion teaches that we are to be filled with the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This opposes the altered philosophy that I created from the cumulative philosophies of the three philosophers: Hobbes, Rousseau, and Mill. All Christians who allow themselves to be filled with the Fruits of the Spirit are not greedy nor are they in search of power over someone else.
So many people are Christians in word but not in thought or action and they do not have, nor want, the Fruits of the Spirit. Plus, there are many people who are from other religions who espouse a similar belief as that of the Fruits of the Spirit, however, a few of them and many other people choose to be greedy for power over other people; this is due to human nature. 

In conclusion, I have found that these philosophers have created a culminated philosophy that sums up the reality of human nature and decision-making. One becomes motivated to do something, then realizes that he or she is entrapped by their government and society, and lastly notices that he or she has the power to form their own path. Coming to this conclusion, one can truly forge their path and make a difference in the world.
            On their own, these three philosophers are seen as odd, or slightly life changing, but when you put them together you get something more. Hobbes, Rousseau, and Mill describe different views that when put together are a precise explanation of human interaction. Without these three, we might not be as observant of our own freedom.
            Hobbes believed everybody was greedy for power over others; Rousseau believed the government figuratively bound its people; Mill believed we were free to make our own choices. Oldest of the three, Hobbes held the motivation, and being a politician he felt he knew what motivated people. Freedom fighters, Rousseau and Mill, held the discussions on freedom and how it is stolen and that we should strive to get it back.
            Jean-Paul Sartre says that all choices that are made are our own and our responsibility, and we have the power to choose to not be greedy for power over others and to not be bound by our government. He also says that it is our own fault if we do not make the choices that we want to be made. Coming to a close on this paper on human nature, the decision to be free is ours, reach out and seize it.
            Everything that is done is done with the thought in the back of the mind to get something out of it. When someone is asked for a favor, they accept it, and accomplish it because they believe they will receive something in return. Do not be deceived by your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, colleagues, or strangers; all people freely choose to be greedy and overpower one another.


Keltner, Dacher. The Power Paradox. University of California, Berkley. December 1, 2007. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/power_paradox (accessed December 1, 2014).

Skirry, Justin. Rene Descartes (1596-1650). http://www.iep.utm.edu/descarte/ (accessed December 1, 2014).

Surprising statistics - When I grow up... The career choices of today's children.http://www.wewomen.com/children/when-i-grow-up-the-career-choices-of-today-s-children-d31105x64325.html (accessed December 1, 2014).

Warburton, Nigel. A Little History of Philosophy. London: Yale University Press, 2011.

Warburton, Nigel, and David Edmonds. Philosophy Bites Back. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Wiesenfeld, Batia M., Naomi B. Rothman, Sara L. Wheeler-Smith, and Adam Galinsky. Why Fair Bosses Fall Behind. July 2011. https://hbr.org/2011/07/why-fair-bosses-fall-behind (accessed December 1, 2014).

[1] Warburton, Nigel. A Little History of Philosophy. London: Yale University Press, 2011, 63.
[2] Skirry, Justin. Rene Descartes (1596-1650). http://www.iep.utm.edu/descarte/ (accessed December 1, 2014).
[3] Warburton, A Little History, 57
[4] Ibid., 58.
[5] Surprising statistics - When I grow up... The career choices of today's children. http://www.wewomen.com/children/when-i-grow-up-the-career-choices-of-today-s-children-d31105x64325.html (accessed December 1, 2014).
[6] Wiesenfeld, Batia M. et al., Why Fair Bosses Fall Behind. July 2011. https://hbr.org/2011/07/why-fair-bosses-fall-behind (accessed December 1, 2014).
[7] Keltner, Dacher. The Power Paradox. University of California, Berkley. December 1, 2007. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/power_paradox (accessed December 1, 2014).
[8] Warburton, A Little History, 106
[9] Warburton, A Little History, 106
[10] Ibid., 105
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid., 106
[13] Ibid., 107
[14] Warburton, Nigel, and David Edmonds. Philosophy Bites Back. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, 157
[15] Warburton, A Little History, 138 
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid., 139
[18] Ibid., 141
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Warburton, A Little History, 142
[22] Ibid, 139
[23] Ibid., 138

"Shake with your right hand,but hold a rock in your left"

Madison Biggs
Introduction to Philosophy
Dr. Oliver
 (Niccolo Machiavelli)

The Brain and the Bronze

            We have all heard of the phrase “brain and bronze”, which refers to intelligence and physique. We often separate people or ways to solve problems by categorizing them into one of these two classes. I relate this phrase with Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Fox and the Lion”, which refers to cunning and strength. I resemble cunning with intelligence and strength with physique. Machiavelli founded this phrase in his book, The Prince, in which he lays out the best way to govern a civilization. He describes the cunning of a fox when a person can seem honest and good at the book cover, but inside the person is willing to win at any means possible.  Machiavelli also coined the phrase “ends justify the means”, as he describes a person willing to do whatever actions it take to complete the task as long as the gains outweigh the losses of the actions taken. This type of thinking and philosophy is known as Machiavellism or a person who practices his teachings, Machiavellian. Mainly appealing to politicians who work in the government setting, Machiavellism is seen as “dirty politics” that includes backstabbing, lying, and total disregard for ethics.  The TV show, House of Cards, best shows how politics and Machiavellism can be interwoven to reach person gains at the losses of others. The main character, Frank Underwood, works his way through the political sludge as a Congressman up to the Presidency without ever running for office. Many see Machiavellism as a complete ethical violation, but many successful people read he’s historical book, The Prince. Machiavellism is of the natural process of human beings as animals. As basic primates, we would take advantage of those who could not defend themselves for the personal gain of food, shelter, and water. John Locke touches on this, calling it the “natural state of man”. Also parallel to Darwin’s “Natural Selection” or survival of the fittest, Machiavellism plays off our natural instincts to survive and win.
            Niccolo Machiavelli was born May 3rd, 1469 in Florence, Italy. At a young age he was exposed to government and politics, mainly through his parents and family. He learned to write, speak and studied government at a very young age. Growing up in Florence, it was under control by the Medici family, but was soon replaced by the Republic. Machiavelli took advantage of government of Florence and was appointed to second chancery, a position of government in-charge of all official documents.  He was also appointed to a military position not long after being in office. During his commandership of the Florentine militia, he insisted on using citizens as soldiers versus mercenaries. He believed mercenaries to be too aggressive and war hungry, which eroded their alliance to the state. His army proved themselves countless times on the battlefield, but their rein suddenly ended at the battle at Prato. Where the Medici family, aided by Pope Julius II, defeated the Florentines.  The head of state of Florentines, Piero Soderini, resigned leaving the city-state to dissolve. Machiavelli was stricken of his position as the Medici took over and accused him of conspiracy against the Medici Family.  He was took refuge at Sant’Andrea in Percussina where he devoted his time to studying and writing of political treaties and philosophies. This is when he wrote his famous book, The Prince[1].  
            The first traces of De Principatibus, Latin for The Prince, were found in 1513; yet, the widely printed version was not distributed till 1532, almost five years after Machiavelli’s death.  Machiavelli starts off his book with the governing methods of civilization, identifying republics in chapter one. He often refers to princedoms that analyze other republics in the world. Showing the strengths and weaknesses in the political playground of republics. In chapter two he claims ruling is much easier for hereditary princedoms. Writing that the actions of a hereditary ruler are much broader in scope and have fewer limitations. Machiavelli’s governing philosophy defers greatly from the commonly known examples in Aristotle’s Politics, which categorize all civilizations into three types; oligarchy, monarchy, or democracy.  Moreover, Machiavelli denies the existence between good and corrupt forms of government. Commonly interchanging tyrant and prince as if they share the same meaning and principal. In chapters 3-5, Machiavelli describes the distinctions between totally new, mixed states. He lays out several ways to successfully hold a newly founded state in the style of a republic government.  The first is to simply invest people and a government to a claimed area of land, insuring its sovereignty. Then organize the state into provinces and local governments, making sure they do not share the same power as overseeing government; this resembles the United States federalism, having a federal government and each state having its own government. His third step is insuring the handicapping anyone of power that could possibly overpower you.  Lastly, he states that no foreign power can gain any reputation, allowing all the power to be vested in a small amount of class, in which you have the most power. Chapter 4 focuses on taking control of conquered kingdoms. Machiavelli states it is important to resolved the old bloodline of the king, and claiming your kingship, thus honoring your bloodline as royalty. Chapter 5 looks at conquered free states with laws and established statues. Machiavelli identifies the three best options; the first is to destroy all forms of existing government. Like the Romans who conquered Carthage, destroying the foundation will make it easier to build your own form of government. Second, is to install colonies amongst the civilization that will follow your orders. Thirdly, is to let them keep the existing governing laws, but install a puppet regime to do your bidding. Chapter six through nine look at governing totally new states. Machiavelli says that leaders who rise to power via their skills rather than luck are more secure in their leadership position. By crushing the enemy and competition, they have earned the respect and legitimacy of that position, this is known as “virtue”. He also points out be careful to change an existing form of government due the natural resistance to change by people. It is impossible and unreasonable to think a leader can please everyone, in this case it would smart to follow the thoughts of the majority. If a leader does decided to go against the majority, having a coercive force to enact the changes is the best choice. Chapter 7 focuses on conquest by fortune. As mentioned before, Machiavelli says a leader who rises to power easily often faces hardships in maintaining his power. Though, he points out Cesare Borgia as an example of leader who inherited power but through smart political maneuvering, Cesare secured his power base. Starting a commander of the Army, he soon won their loyalty by increasing their pay and respect among class status.  Chapter 8 writes of criminal virtue, which identities how a leader can secure his power status through cruel and unethical deeds. Machiavelli says a leaders calculate the needed actions of evil to eliminate his competition, then execute them all at once to avoid any more acts during his rule. Machiavelli uses Agathocles of Syracuse as an example; Agathocles assembled all of the cities wealthiest citizens and senators a dinner, where he then orders his soldiers to kill everyone. Agathocles successfully destroys any competition and the old oligarchy, securing his rein of ultimate power. Skipping to chapters 12 through 14, Machiavelli focuses on defense and military power. He labels the two most important pillars of a governed state, law and a strong military force. He claims a leader must be able to meet any enemy with a greater army and claim victory. If the leader does not have the resources to raise an army, he must focus on fortifying his defenses.  Machiavelli also believes the best armies are formed by the citizens of the states. Like the United States military, it consistence of it’s own citizens and is completely voluntary at most times. Machiavelli also believes a leadership should consistently hunt to familiarizes himself with his land and keep fit for battle. He also says a leader must remain diligent and prepared for war in the time of peace, for when the time comes to battle, he will be victorious.  Chapters 14-19 focus on the qualities of successful leader towards his people. He uses the term “verita effettuale” which means, “to go directly to the effectual truth of the thing than to the imagination of it”. Machiavelli states a leader should be virtuous in treating his people with kindness and earning their respect, but should be ready and willing to dissolve those virtues in the time of great need and use fear to control his people.  Chapter 16 analyzes generosity verses parsimony. Machiavelli asserts a leader cannot be over generous to his people, for they will only become greedy and not appreciative. This will also hurt the economy and dry resources causing higher taxes upsetting the people. After establishing a level of generosity, a leader cannot go down, unless he wants to upset the masses. He does point out great leaders of Caesar and Alexander whom were generous but used someone else’s resources, often of fallen enemies, to please the people.  Chapter 17 looks at cruelty verses mercy. Machiavelli addresses the famous governing question of whether it is better to be loved or feared. Machiavelli is often misunderstood, in believing fear is better than love, but he actually wrote, “The answer is that one would like to be both one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far safer to be feared than loved if cannot be both.”  He explains his philosophy saying that commitments made in peace are not always kept in adversity; but those made in fear are kept out of fear. Though it is clear Machiavelli defends being a feared leader better than a loved leader. He says “Men worry less about doing an injury to one who makes himself loved than to one who makes himself feared.” Fear offers a secure road to holding power for a leader. The use of lawless actions could hurt a leader’s legitimately, but enforcing harsher laws to cause fear will keep the legitimately while instilling fear. In regulating armies, Machiavelli describes fear as the main pillar of stability. It is imperative for a leader to maintain discipline through cruel or capital punishment. Roman’s often disciplined their soldiers through solitary confinement or capital punishment through crucifixion.  In chapter 19, Machiavelli identifies that in order for a leader to avoid contempt and hatred, he must not deprive his people of property and women.  He also says a leader can gain and keep the respect of his subjects by legally enacting disciplines, which creates a fear within the civilization. Then create a fear outside the civilization, as in a foreign force threating the lives of his people.  The United States is another good example of this type of policy. Through laws and punishment, we share an instilled fear of acting out of order, while simultaneously fearful of outside forces attacking us. This allows the leadership to invest in security and order which strength the scope of jurisdiction of the government and military power to suppress internal insurrections and external threats from foreign enemies. The other chapters talk about prudence and how a leadership reacts to the opinions of the people[3][2]. 
            The last couple of chapters of The Prince focus on the virtue of “the fox and the lion” sect of leadership. The fox refers to the cunning of an intelligent leader who portrays himself to keep the best interest of the people first. Often overcoming situations by playing to the emotions of kindness and concern of his people. The lion is having the strength and tenacity to make tough decisions that might not be in the peoples’ best interest or even hurt the people. Machiavelli says that keeping your promises and being loved is ideal if possible, but if a leader is unable to do this, he must combine human qualities with animalistic ones. In Nigel Warburton’s A little history of philosophy, he describes Machiavelli’s the fox being the cunning one who spots out the traps, and the lion being the strength and terrifying. Being the lion all the time will only cause you to fall into traps, but being the fox all the time will only allow you to be taken advantage of. Machiavelli claims that people are inherently gullible and want to trust you, so by appearing as honest and kind but actually breaking your promises and taking advantage of the people to maintain your power[5].
            Franklin Delano Roosevelt is one of this country’s greatest Presidents in the arguably since Lincoln. FDR was not only a good President; he was also a ruthless politician who wielded both the cunning of a fox and strength of a lion. Roosevelt started his political career as a New York State Senator and this is where he established his inner lion. He also served as assistant Secretary of the Navy during World War I and was failed candidate for Vice President. In 1921, FDR was crippled by polio from the waste down. This would have crushed most men’s ambitions of serving in public office, but not Roosevelt’s. He moved to be elected Governor of New York in 1928, then to President in 1932. FDR was very progressive for the 1930’s, as most of the social polices we have today drive from FDR’s social views. In the book, Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox, James MacGregor Burns describes Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office, more commonly known as the New Deal, were of the utmost political success in history. Burns says “the classic test of greatness in the White House has been the chief executive’s capacity to lead Congress.” FDR consistently showed his inner lion and fox while implementing the New Deal. Showing large support and generosity to the people through the Great Depression, while maintaining strong leadership in the White House and Congress.  Burns says Roosevelt was often attacked as a “traitor” and faced scrutiny from opposing parties, which labeled him as communist. Having a calm and collective approach to challenges, burns coined the phrase “Rooseveltian agility”; often showed when members of Congress threated to not vote in favor of House or Senate bills. Franklin Delano Roosevelt has left a lasting impression on the political world, even to be known as the modern day Machiavelli[1].
            It is no question that Machiavelli’s philosophy of governing is still practiced today. Perhaps one of most modern examples of a Machiavellian is the TV show House of Cards’ star, Frank Underwood. In this political schemed spin off the original House of Cards, which takes place in England, a Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District works his way up to the Presidency. As the House of Representatives majority whip, which Frank describes as a “plumber” that pushes the sludge of votes to pass a bill on the floor. Frank’s support of the recent President-elect was to secure him the nomination of Secretary of State, but only to find out that plans changed and he was not nominated. Outraged and feeling betrayed, Frank invites an elaborate plan to gain control of the White House, building his house of cards. Frank and his wife, Claire, repeatedly use the cunning of fox and power of a lion to move up the ranks of politics. Often best described as a sociopath, showing no remorse for the killing of animals, winning at the hardships of others, or feeling no signs of empathy for other’s losses; Frank Underwood shows his true Machiavellian attributes. The series starts when Congressman Underwood kills a suffering dog who was just recently hit by a car with his bare hands, saying “There are two kinds of pain; the sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain, the sort of pain that’s only suffering, I have no patience for useless things”. The Machiavellism is shown best when the Congressman explains that good leaders know when do to the unpleasant thing yet necessary for the greater good. This resembles Machiavelli’s philosophy of good princes good the best interest of his subjects and showing virtue, but knowing when to end that virtue and do whatever is necessary to win. Frank plays 3D chess and identifies the pawns in Congress, using them to his advantage. The Congressman uses the open spot of Pennsylvania’s Governor to bait a lowly “pawn” to fill its seat. Congressman Peter Russo was the best choice for the spot. Russo was a struggling alcoholic and feel into temptation very easily. Frank helped him get clean and build his campaign for Governor, only to crush him by hiring a prostitute to tempt him into alcohol and drugs weeks before the election. Absolutely crushed and depressed, it was the perfect time for Frank to kill Russo, making it look like suicide. This sudden news struck the Vice President, the former Govern of Pennsylvania, rather hard and with guidance from Frank Underwood and permission of the President, the Vice President stepped down to run for Governor. This opened the VP chair in which Frank took advantaged of and won over the President. Underwood’s actions show his Machiavellian scheme to gain power through the downfall of others.  Frank and his wife are the only ones who know of his grand plan to the Presidency; showing an excellent face of trustworthiness, yet scheming and back-stabbing on the inside. The Congressman talked about his view of good policy, saying, “In Gaffney we had our own brand of diplomacy; shake with your right hand have a rock in your left.” [4]
            Though some may see the practices of Machiavelli evil or unethical, he has made a lasting impact on the politics and leaders in the world. Seeing his teachings practiced through kings of England, France, Spain and even modern day Presidents like Franklin Roosevelt tells us something must be right. Harnessing the cunning and intelligence of a fox is essential to big political progression, while keeping the strength and sternness of lion as FDR regularly showed. Being a Machiavellian crafts you for the obstacles you will surely face while in public office. Though I only focused on the positives of Machiavelli’s philosophy, there are some downfalls to practicing it. There have been thousands of successful leaders who’ve had to sacrificed for the greater good of the people. As Frank Underwood would say, “The higher the mountain, the more treacherous the path.”

[1]Burns, James. Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox. Vol. 1. Orlando: Harcourt, 1984. Print.

[2]Gilbert, Allan. Machiavelli's Prince and Its Forerunners, Duke University Press. 1938. Web

[3]Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Florance, Italy: Antonio Blado d'Asola, 1532. Print.

[4]Spacey, Kevin, perf. House of Cards. Narr. Kevin Spacey. 2012. Web. 4 Dec. 2014

[5]Warburton, Nigel. A Little History of Philosophy. London: Yale University Press, 2011. Print.