Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, May 15, 2015

A historian who used to be serious

Historian Joseph Ellis admits he was once a philosophical youth.
What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
"Because I majored in philosophy as an undergraduate, there are several shelves of books by Plato, Kant, Hume, Locke and Nietzsche. Just looking over at them reminds me that once upon a time I was a very serious young man. Otherwise, I’ve got a full collection of books about Bill Russell, Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics." nyt

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What's the point of a professor?

A crotchety prof complains about the continuing decline of informal face-time and general engagement with students. Guess we're just not as compelling as we used to be.
More than half leave the graduation ceremony believing that they are “well prepared” in speaking, writing, critical thinking and decision-making.
But while they’re content with teachers, students aren’t much interested in them as thinkers and mentors. They enroll in courses and complete assignments, but further engagement is minimal.
One measure of interest in what professors believe, what wisdom they possess apart from the content of the course, is interaction outside of class. It’s often during incidental conversations held after the bell rings and away from the demands of the syllabus that the transfer of insight begins and a student’s emulation grows. Students email teachers all the time — why walk across campus when you can fire a note from your room? — but those queries are too curt for genuine mentoring. We need face time.
Here, though, are the meager numbers. For a majority of undergraduates, beyond the two and a half hours per week in class, contact ranges from negligible to nonexistent. In their first year, 33 percent of students report that they never talk with professors outside of class, while 42 percent do so only sometimes. Seniors lower that disengagement rate only a bit, with 25 percent never talking to professors, and 40 percent sometimes.
It hasn’t always been this way... (continues)
Book of Life (@bkoflife)
Why we should be more ambitious about education youtube.com/watch?v=HndV87…

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Not a conclusion

Final installment posting is now closed for the Spring 2015 semester, but please continue to feel welcome to comment or just "lurk" here. CoPhilosophy returns to MTSU August 24.

Grade queries welcome after May 11. "How do you determine a student's grade?" For my answer, scroll to the end.
Again, as Mr. Einstein said, the important thing is to keep on asking questions. "What has concluded," asked William James, that we may conclude with regard to it?" And as Tennessee's great poet Randall Jarrell said, “It is better to entertain an idea than to take it home to live with you for the rest of your life.”

Good luck with your goals, CoPhi class of '15!

Chomsky (Noah Delk, #H1)

Posted for Noah Delk (#H1)
Although renowned for his contributions to the field of Linguistics (and to philosophy with the introduction of the idea of the Language Acquisition Device and Generative Grammar), Chomsky has also spent time in the spotlight for his political activism. Even though most of his recent receptions have been more negative due to his progressively radical views and his increasing outspokenness, he continues to be a fairly prominent political figure, and is mostly admired throughout the language and linguistic communities. His political (and Philosophical) views are not always very popular, as he typically identifies as anarcho-syndicalist, and is a fan of libertarian socialism. He holds traditional anarchist beliefs, and only supports authority when its existence is necessary and justifiable. He is also a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (http://www.iww.org/) , a labor union with allignments with both the Socialist and Anarcist parties. In this post, I would like to hit his major beliefs, such as political systems, his beliefs on human rights, and his thoughts on Israel (which are interesting, since he was raised Zionist/ Jewish). I do wish to say that these views are not mine, but Chomsky’s.


    Chomsky is rarely a fan of a political systems. He sees himself as more of an anarchist-libertarian-socialist, and is very critical of most governments, especially the United States (all though he is a United States Citizen). To him, governments represent oppression and the lack of freedom. Additionally, governments represent the upholding and pondering to of the upper classes, and the very rich. For example, the United States government has close ties to the 1%, and large corporations, declaring that corporations are in fact people. This is something that he opposes, along with the entirety of the ruling elite class.

    In regards to the United States, he is extremely critical of our foreign policy. He doesn’t like that we like to shove our noses into other nations businesses, like in the Vietnam war, and the Shah governments set up in Iran. He finds it to be very hypocritical, since we preach practicing democracy and claim that our actions have spreading democracy and freedom at their root. However, we also have a history of aligning ourselves with non-democratic governments. For example, the Chilean dictatorship under Pinochet (which was aided in order to prevent Chile from becoming a socialist state under their pre-coup socialist president, Salvador Allende), and for their secret aid of the Contras in Nicaragua. Acts such as these do not line up very well with the image of spreading “democracy”, but more as preventing the increase of the sphere of influence of our rivals.

Chomsky is also known for being a huge proponent of free speech, and this issue has been one that has brought lots of controversy on him. He greatly opposes censorship, and as can be seen above, all opinions must defended according to Chomsky, even those one does not agree with.

An example of controversy that he has caused is found within the case of his supporting the free speech of Robert Faurisson. Faurisson is a French lecturer who denied the existence of Nazi death camps, and was met with expected opposition. Since Chomsky supported and tried to defend his right to free speech, even when that free speech involved denying the Holocaust, Chomsky thought it right for Faurisson to be able to say what he wanted, and thus ensued a firestorm.

Finally, Chomsky has had an interesting history with the nation of Israel. As was mentioned in a previous post, Chomsky was born and raised Jewish, and held Zionist beliefs. As was also previously mentioned, Chomsky was unable to live long term in Israel due to the immense hate for their Arab neighbors that he saw, and could not allow himself to live in such an environment. In modern times, Chomsky has been one of the most prominent critics of the nation of Israel. As can be seen in the following video, Chomsky was not a supporter of the creation of the state of Israel, even though he was called a Zionist. Now, although he says he is still a Zionist, he claims that his Zionism would now be considered anti-Zionism.


Because of his criticism of Israeli politics and policies (much like in the United States), and support of the Palestinian effort, he has been barred from entering the state of Israel since 2010.

Although he has had his reputation diminished to a degree as he has aged, and as he has become more outspoken, he is still considered an authority on language, and also is referred to as the father of modern language. His opinions are respected by many, and resented by many, but he is still a man who has had great ideas. To conclude this series of posts about the life and ideas of Avram Noam Chomsky, I would like to share one last quote:

Thanks for reading!

Philosophy, Experience, and the Self (Posted for Sarah Anderson, #H1)

Sarah Anderson H1 Final Blog Post 2:

“A particular set of ideas about knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life, etc;”

This is the second definition of philosophy given by Merriam Webster dictionary, and it differs from the first because of the phrase “set of ideas”. Beyond the contemplation or study of philosophy, this is an individual’s collection of opinions on what he or she has learned, or an established school of thought outlining opinions on various philosophical ideas. The nature of philosophy is to question everything, often to the point that the philosopher asks “Is this concept that I’m contemplating even real?”. When that “concept” is something like knowledge or nature, no one can reasonably argue that it is not real on some level—it is experienced and observed even if only in individuals’ minds. Concepts like truth and meaning are unobservable, so the range of beliefs about them is wider. Truth is necessarily boolean, so it can have two values: truth = true (absolute truth exists) or truth = false (absolute truth does not exist, though subjective truth may). In the latter case, the significance of truth is greatly diminished because if truth is not universal, how does it differ from opinion? It could also be argued that truth is a three-valued boolean system, the third value being truth = null (truth as a concept does not exist). (More on three-valued logic here, if you’re interested.)

Meaning, on the other hand, could have infinitely many “values”. A philosopher could argue that it exists or it doesn’t, that it matters or not, that it’s subjective or absolute, assigned or inherent. I find, though, that the fact that the meaning of “meaning” can be argued validates its existence (perhaps this is a situation where truth = true ☺). Unfortunately, when we talk about “proving” a thing, there is a notion in our Western culture that we must do it mathematically. Even when I evaluated truth, I used Boole’s system of mathematical logic, but an entirely abstract concept like meaning is impossible to evaluate in purely mathematical terms. Far too often the STEM-oriented great thinkers of the now try to boil experience down to numbers and verifiable facts, ignoring the parts that don’t have a place in science. People who think like this will say there is no meaning in life, there is no purpose, and that we are on a level with all other animals. To accept this is to accept an accompanying meaning to human suffering, and by extension human happiness because if our lives are worth nothing, why struggle through them? Why have fun? Learn? Travel? Give? It is interesting that the very people who argue for the meaninglessness of human life are usually well-educated, working in a technical field, often with the aim of improving quality of life for humans or living things on the whole. A person who truly believes human life is meaningless would ask all those questions and be forced to dehumanize the world, to train him or herself to think of strangers, neighbors, family as ultimately insignificant. This points out what I find to be two unfortunate facts about our modern Western attitude: 1) We allow ourselves to be hypocrites in the name of science, accepting formally that science alone governs every part of our universe, our thoughts and emotions included, rendering them meaningless, but we treat others as if they are meaningful; 2) We have largely ceased to accept our own experience as evidence.

To make my meaning a little clearer, I’ll use an example from my Discrete Structures class. We’ve been working with formal logic and proofs, and in the unit we’ve learned about five types of mathematically accepted proofs that can be used in different situations. The direct proof is the one we (the STEM-oriented West) are most comfortable with—it’s the one where you take a statement (usually an equation), hypothesize it, and flip it around and substitute things until you get the conclusion you want or a contradiction of it. There is also contrapositive, where you prove that the opposite of the statement (again usually an equation) is true. There is proof by contradiction where you substitute a false value to show that it doesn’t work, and there is an exhaustive proof, where you substitute every possible value into a statement to prove they all work. But the final type of proof doesn’t even have a name. When asked to simply disprove a statement, students of formal logic know to use this kind because it is simplest and best suited to everyday life. In the quiz below, #1 reads “Disprove the following: All flowers are roses,” and all I had to say to earn the points was “But what about tulips?”

The argument against meaning is another a situation where I can see this applied. When someone says human experience is meaningless, all it takes is one instance of meaning to disprove that, and one instance of meaning occurs when one person says “Human experience means something to me.” What I’ve sought to do in this post is establish that meaning exists, but that it is independent of science. This is scary for a lot of us because it forces us to consider that there’s a higher/deeper/different level of experience, a second layer to humanity, that will never be explained by science. It makes sense that we would first look to science to explain what we don’t fully understand because science has allowed us to make sense of so much, but we take it too far when we reject unscientific theories on principle. It is interesting that we make fun of religious fundamentalists who deny scientific truths like evolution and the age of the Earth for fear their worldviews will crumble, while many of the rest of us cling to science with equal desperation.

Sarah Anderson H1 Final Blog Post 3:

Originally, I planned to use my final post to talk about our personal philosophies, but a recent conversation with a friend has inspired me to change my topic. When we were discussing the possibility of souls, he told me that he wondered if humans were even distinct beings. He subscribes to a science-only worldview and to the idea that humans are nothing more than temporary manifestations of nature, so he says that a consequence of those premises is that we are all one force—nature—and the “self” is an illusion. I immediately thought of Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am,” and our class discussion about his inability to use “I” in the premise if he has yet to establish himself as an entity. Dr. Oliver amended his statement to something like “There is thinking happening, therefore something is doing it.” I would argue, though, that the “thinking” that Descartes is talking about is another name for consciousness.

I know for sure that I have a single consciousness—I never exist in another person’s body and I never know anyone else’s thoughts—and I can assume, because the majority of the world says the same is true for them, that everyone else has a single consciousness, too. I want to jump automatically to the assumption that individual consciousness implies a self, but I can see the argument that our brains, which control the subconscious thoughts that bleed into our consciousness, do not allow the conscious and subconscious to communicate consciously. If the collective self conforms to the same rules, individuals are simply nature organizing consciousness into containers that can’t communicate with each other. However, I am a fan of Occam’s Razor, which says that if two theories are equally likely to be true, choose the one that’s less convoluted.

Therefore, I am going to write my own version of Descartes’ statement about the self, and I’ll start by asserting that there is a self because that is more likely than there accidentally being a collective consciousness that contains lesser sections which, cut off from each other, give the illusion of independent thought. The next thing I want to assert is that I have an identity that is paired to this self; it is continually formed by my conscious experience, and it belongs uniquely to me. I don’t know quite how to quantify “me,” but clearly I exist because there is a self and I have an identity, and it is paired to this self. My variation, then, is this: “There is a self, and it is me, and I am uniquely conscious of it. Therefore I am, and I am individual.”
Sarah Anderson (H1)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Philosophy Tweets

Nigel Warburton (@philosophybites)
Philosophy should be on every school's curriculum ideas.aeon.co/viewpoints/joh…@DrJohnLTaylor @aeonmag

Book of Life (@bkoflife)
Our perpetual search for the 'right one' is really a refusal of love youtube.com/watch?v=jcgW8p…

Daily Nous (@DailyNousEditor)
Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy wp.me/p58BrX-2hZ
Daily Nous (@DailyNousEditor)
How Philosophy Changed Your Students’ Minds wp.me/p58BrX-2hJ

Nietzsche (posted for Branden Strissel (#12)

Posted for Branden Strissel

Friedrich Nietzsche was a German Philosopher who lived from 1844-1900. He had many

theories on life. One being altruism. Altruism is the belief in or practice of disinterested and

selfless concern for the well-being of others. Friedrich Nietzsche was a perfectionist in the way

that he unselfishly had to do something, therefore he was considered altruistic. Many

philosophers believed altruism can happen in percentages. As in being altruism part of the time

or how altruistic an act is. The question arises, if I feel good about something is it selfish? If I

feel obligated to do something is it, does that make me a good person? Many philosophers use

the example of parenting as being altruistic. They say that helping your kids get on the right path

to success. It is not the act of doing so to feel good, it is for the life of someone you care about,

therefore doing a good deed and act of kindness does not make it selfish. A study was done on

how people give money to the poor to see if it was a good deed or to show pride in their own

wealth. To flip the hands, the experiment was to have the homeless guy try to give money to

people walking by. The experiment revealed that the wealthy had too much pride to take the

money of the less fortunate. Instead of acting with gratitude, they acted offended that someone

would try to give them money. In a way acts of kindness can be done both altruistically and


Blog post 2

Friedrich Nietzsche had a moment where he philosophized about how the young boys

turn into men and the steps needed in taking these strides. At first, the boy is seen as a beast of

burden to where it has to allow others to tell it what to do, they call this stage of his life the

camel stage. Nietzsche believes that this stage is somewhere in his high school years or early

adulthood. To where you do not know what to do with your life but do not have the power to

change it. An example of this would be taking a test you do not want to take or working a job

and being around people you do not want to be with for most of the hours in your day. To

become a man, the beast of burden must venture out on its own and discover himself. The camel

will find a way to a dragon and must learn to gain his voice and turn into a lion with being

named ‘thou shout’.  The voice allows the boy to be a man and to decide what he wants to do

with his life whether it be exploring other places or telling others no when needed. Nietzsche was

a great philosopher who was big on exploring nature to find one’s self.

Blog Post 3

Nietzsche was an anti-realist about reality. Nietzsche aims at release higher human beings

from their wrong consciousness about morality. He aims at criticizing Christians, Catholics, and

other religions. Many religions have become hypocritical on their own beliefs. Doing the right

thing because it is the right thing to do is different than doing something because of having a fear

of going to hell, therefore it is done for the wrong reasons. Is it an act of kindness at all if there is

consequences to not doing it in the first place? Another question arises that is there free will at all

in life. If God is all knowing and all powerful, then you do not have free will. He knows what

you are going to do before you even do it. God being all powerful allows him to change anything

he wants. It says in the bible that we are all made in his image. The flaws that we have in life

must be given to us purposely through him, not to see what we would do but to be set up for

failure. Also, if God is all powerful, then everyone who is in hell and will be in hell are chosen

before the act of sin is even made because of the act of God being all powerful and all knowing,

therefore he is either all powerful and all knowing, not all good, or not perfect. Being perfect

makes the person not have any desires in life, that means that God would not have created any of

us because we were created to worship God.

The Way of the Way: The Wisdom of Lao Tzu

Jeffrey LaPorte H01

Lao Tzu
Tao is a difficult word to translate. Literally it means ‘the way’ as in a path but it also can mean the way to live, the way to govern, and the way of the entire cosmos. The search for Tao is at the heart of Chinese, and possibly all, philosophy but it is most associated with China’s first philosopher the mystical poet Lao Tzu.
The historic details of Lao Tzu’s life are difficult to pin down. Some historians are not even sure he ever really existed and those that do debate even the most basic details like his real name (Lao Tzu is a title meaning Old Master). Most agree he was born around the year 570 B.C. and served as some kind of scholar where he read many texts including those of the legendary yellow emperor. At an advanced age Lao Tzu gave up his position and rode on a water buffalo out to the wilderness to live as a hermit leaving behind the Tao Te Ching (or the way of the Tao and its changes). According to legend he eventually reached India and was a teacher of the Buddha.

Lao Tzu on a water buffalo        
According to the Tao Te Ching the core principle to finding Tao is to pursue a course of wu-wei or non-ado. To not take any action is to never oppose the tao. If people want happiness they should only seek to be kind to others and contemplate nature. He said morals and laws were merely a secondary substitute to having a truly wise and enlightened populace who would embrace the tao and simply go with the flow.
 Much of the Tao Te Ching is concerned with proper governance. Much like his prescription for life Lao Tzu’s advice for rulers is to rule with as little action and self-interest as possible. He says that the greatest ruler is one who accomplishes things while the people think they have done it themselves and that “only one who is willing to give his life for the world would be fit to rule it.”
Lao Tzu’s relatively simple work combined with traditional Chinese beliefs about the after life to form the religion known as Taoism. Taoism involves the worship of Lao Tzu as a divine figure and the use of rituals and ceremonies to try to maintain a state of union with the eternal Tao. Another core piece of religious Taoism is the belief in the eternal opposing forces of Yin and Yang which gave birth to the universe and represent how all opposites are united.

Yin and Yang

Alden Wakefield H1 Final Blog Post #3

Breaking Bad: Death in Morality

            Walter White, played by Brian Cranston, makes his transformation from underachieving father into psychopathic moral monster. White developed his evil alter ego, “Heisenberg,” to act as a portal into the drug world he comes to enjoy so much. Whenever Walter dons his black hat, he is no longer the man who loves his family, but the self-serving, maniacal murderer the viewer comes to love. Walter is empowered through his journey by a relativistic view of the world, “brought to life by his iconic representation of Nietzsche’s ‘will to power.’”
            Walter begins his moral decline from the very first episode; he neglects to inform his DEA brother-in-law that he has witnessed a meth cook fleeing the scene of a crime. He instead considers the money the meth business provides and how it could change his life should he decide to participate. Walter soon meets Jesse Pinkman, his former student, at his house in order to offer a meth cooking relationship that we will witness for most of the show. This relationship is the catalyst for Walt’s alter ego Heisenberg, and the story juxtaposes these views. First, we can see how Walt’s relativistic moral conscience twists reality in order for him to convince himself that the acts of terror he commits are for the best. “The means justify the ends” is a phrase we see Walt apply to his life in the fullest extent. The second side we can see is that of the grief-stricken Jesse and the rollercoaster of emotions we watch him endure. His distress shows the existential consequences that happens when man violates the moral code of the world. “If Walter is an icon for the Nietzschean world where God is dead, Jesse is a reflection of the inescapable human condition wherein all men recognize God’s moral standards, whether they attribute their origin to Him or not.”


            We see the competing morals of Jesse and Walt played out time and time again. Walter poisons children, bombs nursing homes, manipulates his friends and family, and kills in order to further his self-interest. He becomes so bent on protecting his life and reputation that he grows increasingly distant to the atrocities he commits. We see Walt cry after having to kill a man out of self-defense and struggle to cope with the realization. Fast-forward a few seasons, and he has developed an elaborate ruse in order to make Jesse turn on his employer. The plan? Walt poisons a child Jesse cares about and blames the atrocity Gus Fring. We can see Walt descend from a man wanting to provide for his family, to growing self-interest, to permeated greed, to a man who is completely consumed with the desire for power.

            At the start of Breaking Bad, the viewer is made to immediate have sympathy for Walter, a cancer-stricken husband and father with little money and a meek personality. However, as Walt’s character and morals begin to deteriorate, we would expect for his popularity to decrease. On the contrary, viewers became more enamored and supportive of Walt as time passed. The show brings into question the morality of the viewers themselves. How could people support such a corrupt individual? Why do we continue to show affection for someone even after they are no longer themselves? Even in the last few episodes, when Walt had totally lost himself, I still found myself rooting for his cause. Maybe this is mankind’s way to exercise the darker sides of human nature by living through another. We all make decisions that make us drift towards either Walt or Jesse’s mindset. Whether for selfish power or a search for a better self, no person’s pleas can sway us; it is inevitably a choice we all must make alone.

so what's a hero? 3/3 #12

So heroism is subjective. We decide who we look up to, and we decide what qualities we look for in heroes. Of course, in this case I'm talking about real life heroes and superheroes, but now I want to talk about issues with all of that. We tend to see a lot of our heroes the same way. They overwhelmingly tend to stick to stereotypes. This is of course a problem because heroes can be absolutely anybody. Some of our own personal experiences tell us that they can be anybody. However, I feel that a lot of media portrays heroism differently. They portray heroism as mostly "perfect" and "ideal" versions of the "majority". Tons of "air quotes"
aside, this is a huge problem. This leaves everybody else unrepresented. Mike makes some really great points on this, and I think he puts this really eloquently. I'll try to not reiterate too many of his points either.
ANYWAY, this hurts what people can consider heroes. If these people don't fit that stereotype then that could potentially hinder heroism. Although, I would argue that true heroes wouldn't be hindered by just stereotypes, it can still be a factor. I believe that people in general tend to mimic what they see in the media more than they would like. Back to the main point. People want to be heroes. They want to be seen as what they sometimes feel like. Every type of person can be heroic. I would argue that, in fact, there are more people out there that are heroic that are not part of that "stereotypical" grouping. They exist as part of every race and culture and every subculture and grouping of people. 
I know that this is a stretch from what I've said in the previous bits, but I feel that superheroes and the stories that we tell of our own personal heroes represent what we really see and want. And that's been changing. Like Mike says above, media is portraying more diversity. I think that's a good thing. Maybe there will be more representation and more presence of mind towards others. The selflessness that heroes show helps break down that inherent barrier we see between people and "those people". We stop seeing ourselves a special group and we start seeing everybody as humans that can work together. Heroes, man. Fighting crime and diversity and social barriers one day at a time. So those are my somewhat scattered thoughts.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Eastern Religions in Modern Culture: Hinduism - Joshua Tilton (3 of 3)

   Hinduism is a religion older than recorded history itself, which in turn means that it has no known human founder. Hinduism is a mystical religion that directs its followers to living along a path of positive choices beneficial to the world as a whole, and thereupon finally reaching that existential state in which God and Man become one. Hinduism has four main denominations--Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism.

   According to Hinduism, our beliefs determine our thoughts and actions, which in turn determine how we lead our lives. One’s destiny is created by the actions he takes – it is not a predetermined timeline one must comply with. Beliefs in the importance of terrestrial actions are very important in Hindiusm, yet more important are the beliefs one has of celestial happenings. Hindus believe a great many things, yet the bedrock of all Hindu sects relies in a few simple yet profound beliefs. The following nine beliefs, though certainly not explained in the extent that they should be, provide a basic understanding of the pillars of Hinduism.

1. Hindus believe in a single, all-powerful and omni-present Deity, who is both a creator and a external force that drives the universe as we know it.

2. Hindu Scripture relies on the premise that the Four Vedas are sacred. These are the world's most ancient scripture, and therein state that the Agamas are equally sacred. These books are a conglomeration of ancient hymns meant to exude religious fervor and instill earthly harmony.

3. Hindus believe that the earth is continuous in a cycle of birth, longevity, and death, and the cycle is representative of all life in the universe.

4. Perhaps one of the most culturally acknowledge beliefs of Hindus is the belief in Karma, the state of one’s inner being affected by the good or bad actions we choose to execute.

5. Hindus believe that the soul itself will be reincarnated, once again representative of all life, until the Karma has been resolved, and Moksha, the freedom from the continuous cycle of death and rebirth, will be ended in the blissful existence of harmony with all that was, is, and will be. All souls continue in the cycle of death and rebirth until Moksha has been attained.

6. Hindus believe that divine beings live and thrive in the celestial world, though man may not see them. This belied has lead to the development of many dieties and a hierarchy of gods that dwell in both the heavens and the earth.

7. Hindus believe that the only way to realize the Transcendent Absolute is to have an enlightened master, or satguru. The satguru is also the only path to achieving personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation and surrender in God.

8. Hindus believe that all life is sacred, leading many to belief in the practice of non-inury towards all living things, in words, actions, and deeds.

9. Hindus believe that no earthy religion teaches its followers the exclusive way to salvation, Moksha, but that all religions are different paths all leading to the same end in God.

   While this may seem a harder concept to view in modern culture, the belief that good things come to those who are good to others is directly derived from Hinduism. In fact, many people openly, if not intentionally, state that when something bad happens, it might have been due to bad karma, or evil actions earlier partaken in.

   Since this is perhaps the oldest religion on the planet, many religions that are based in both Mono and poly theistic religions base their central ideas around the underlying themes in Hinduism.

   The cycle of death and rebirth is seen in modern culture all the time, even in what has become known as the circle of life. While life taken from on thing may mean its death, this also means life given to another, a concept so beautiful that even Disney movies have incorporated them into their films, such as The Lion King.

   The entire premise behind one of the most celebrated animated shows ever, Avatar: The Last Airbender, is that the Avatar must bring balance and enlightenment to the world in each of his recurring lives. The Avatar's cycle of life and death is representative of the way the world of the show works: life gives way to life - in this there is enlightenment.

   Hinduism may not be for everyone, but the basic idea of Karma relates to people of all walks of life. Even as it says in the bible, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Dylan Smith, H01, Post #3, Voltaire


 In this third installment, I'll discuss why Voltaire stands out to me.       

   Voltaire’s philosophy is one of the very few that has truly impacted me personally. His arguments for civil rights was ahead of its time, and resembles the calls that were heard in later years. The idea that all people deserved equal treatment would be echoed later. His call for separation of church and state was a risky move at that time in history. All in all, it seems that Voltaire was a man ahead of his time, and often found himself in trouble for it. I find this outspokenness intriguing, his abrasive personality invigorating, and his unbridled tongue and wit entertaining.
                One of the first points of Voltaire’s philosophy that speaks to me is the idea of separation of church and state, along with his distaste for the hierarchy and controlling tendencies of the Church. I like that he criticizes the Church, but not religion itself. Voltaire seems to be of the opinion that religion itself is a good thing, but condemns the use of it as a mechanism for manipulating people. I tend to agree with Voltaire’s stance here. The practice of religion in itself is a positive thing. Most religions are peaceful institutions that promote good morals, selfless acts, and love for other people.  However, religion can easily be used as a manipulative device to satisfy another agenda that is in no way related to the religion itself, which is what Voltaire warned away from. We see this today in events like the attacks on the World Trade Center by Islamic extremists, or even the acts of the Westboro Baptist Church. Voltaire’s stance, along with mine, seems to be wary of any perversion of religion to satisfy another cause.
                However, Voltaire made his single largest impact on me personally through his most famous work, Candide. In this work, Voltaire challenges Leibniz’s optimism. But for me, this is not the most important aspect of the book. At the same time as it challenges optimism, it seems to warn against becoming disconnected from the real world and from practical thought. The characters take foolish actions while on a journey with a sense of a higher spirituality, or they “have their heads in the clouds”. Only after they shun lofty thoughts and keep their minds on earthly work do they find peace. This is where the value of Candide is for me. It is all well and good to philosophize about grand lofty ideas, how things should be, and theoretical situations. But, it is crucial to not let these thoughts interfere with living practically and take care of your “real world” responsibilities. These questions are all great to ask, but what practical use do they have? In many cases, none really. This is why I keep my personal philosophy to how I should live my life. Like it or not, I am stuck on earth. Therefore, it stands to reason that my main concern should be with decisions that affect how I act here in my everyday life. I guess Voltaire and I could be considered pragmatic, in that sense. To be clear, it seems that neither Voltaire, nor I denounce asking the “big questions” completely. They can and should be asked, but only after a level of satisfaction in a person’s “everyday philosophy” has been acquired. To use Voltaire’s words, asking those questions “is all well, but we must tend our garden.”

Post #3: Aristotle

Ancient skepticism was first seen in the works of Plato and Aristotle, but for the sake of length, we will just be talking about Aristotle. Aristotle was born near Macedonia, to Nichomasus, who later died while Aristotle was still a young child. Near the age of 18, he made his way to Athens, where he found and joined Plato’s Academy, and remained there until the age of 38. While he was there, he wrote on many topics, and became one of the key players in western philosophy. After he left the Academy, Aristotle kept the views of Plato, up until Platos death. After Plato died, Aristotle shifted his views to more of his own.

 Aristotle’s form of skepticism is much more tame then Pyrrho’s, which was that we couldn’t know anything for certain at all. Nothing. What Aristotle believed was that we should question things, but not to the extent of Pyrrho. Aristotle believed that there were certain things that didn’t need to be questioned, and that they just had an answer. One of the more interesting teachings of this form of skepticism is that in order to understand something, you must first doubt it, you have to understand why it can, and cannot work. Only then will you fully grasp the concept of what you are studying. Aristotle sought to counter certain Protagorean claims using his brand of skepticism, such as the belief that all seemings and appearances are true. If this were true, Aristotle says that everything would be both true, and untrue at the same time


Dallas Barrett section 12 group 3

3rd Installment

My view on free will.

To begin with, free will is an amazing thing. You get to say what you want, do what you want, when you want. Who can say that isn't the best thing. It's about what you do in the moment that you are given. You might not wake up tomorrow. What are you going to that day before you die and that's just something to think about.

Next, My view on free will in war. If you don't pull the trigger, could you live with your fellow soldier lay there dying in your arms and it would be your fault. No, it would be really hard I believe. Don't lose yourself, find yourself.

Free will is what you make it, as Joe Dirt would say. Life unfortunately has to be about making decisions at the right place and time. If you make the wrong decision you could end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

You can't regret decisions but it is your free will to do so. Many live their whole life wishing and wanting, but never dream enough to go get it.

Nicholas Watts Final Blog Post!!!!!!!!! H01 group 1

The final principle of patience I would like to place emphasis on is that of organization and preparedness. I do not mean organization in the most base sense of having things sorted but the sense of having your own affairs in order and being ready for whatever may occur. While understanding and dedication are more practices of patience, organization and preparedness are more of the backbone.

When I think of this principle I am immediately reminded of the numerous times I was not prepared for events in and how it wreaked havoc on all aspects of my daily life. Often times they are small things, such as not having the foresight to charge a phone or scheduling events at the same time on the same day. While these are little things, they can have consequences that affect the lager whole of your life. Worst of all, they can diminish the effects of the other two principles. In an example from my own experiences, allow me to share with you an atypical bad day from not too long ago. 

I woke up one fine morning realizing two things: alarm clocks are annoying and I had a few hours until my first class would start. This is how most mornings are. I went through the morning routine without a hitch and was quite ready for the day. Then we come to the first example of disorganization. It seems I was foolishly unaware of exactly what day it was. The calendar had been incorrectly filled in, with my Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes existing in place of the Tuesday/Thursday classes and vice versa for that week. Normally this would not be an issue, except that the class for this specific day began an hour before the one written on the calendar. Unfortunately for myself, it did not occur to me that this was incorrect until I received a message from a friend asking if I would make it to class. 

Everything was still ok, I had half an hour to get there. It was here that the the next example of disorganization struck and things began to get interesting. I had lent the vehicle that would need to take me on this journey to a sibling the night before. However, it appeared that they had left the lights on through the night and the battery was now suffering for it. I mentally kicked myself for not having checked up on the vehicle upon its return the night before as I usually did. I had neglected to do this based on the calendar that stated I had plenty of time to do so the next morning. I do not do this because I do not trust that it would return in good condition, but so that this kind of situation could be avoided. This lack of dedication and organization was beginning to cost me.

I jumped the vehicle, let the alternator recharge that battery, and was soon on my way. I still had time. That time soon evaporated though, upon seeing massive road construction on my usual route. It should be noted here that while attempting to jump the battery I had received a phone call and the caller had indeed warned me about the road construction. In an occupied and technical mind frame at the time; I neglected to listen well enough to retain that key piece of information. I neglected to understand what was being said and was now paying for it. Forty-five minutes later I made it to my destination, late and ill prepared to face the day.

While the rest of the day continued in this pattern of praying upon my inconsistencies, the reason was abundantly clear. My inability to organize my affairs on my calendar months beforehand had created a day dominated by an impatient persona. It kept me from staying dedicated to my usual resolves and unable to be understanding. I hope this has illustrated the necessity of organization in regards to patience.

I believe in the practice of patience. I believe that embodying the three principles of dedication, understanding, and organization is key to coordinating a patient lifestyle. Admittedly it is not easy and I do not believe it should be. Without the challenge and the practice it simply is not worth doing. The challenges to achieve these three principles in unison mold you into a patient person. Like all things, patience is not an attribute that is always present. Sometimes it is absent in our lives (as I have demonstrated) as we are human after all. I believe patience is something we should all strive for. I believe that one day patience can come to describe an otherwise hasty species in humanity. I believe that patience is more than a virtue. I believe that patience is the key to living beyond our means and in full fellowship with our fellow men and women.