Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, September 30, 2016

Quiz Oct 3/4

1. How does Spinoza differ from Descartes on the question of "substance"? (OR: Descartes is a metaphysical dualist. What kind of 'ist, besides materialist and determinist, is Spinoza?)

2. Spinoza rejects free will, but still thinks we can be free "in proportion as" what?

3. How does Spinoza differ from the Stoics?

4. What can Russell not accept in Spinoza's view of misfortune?

5. Who caricatured Leibniz as Doctor Pangloss?

6. How does Leibniz differ from Descartes and Spinoza on the question of "substance"? (OR: How many substances did he say he believed in?) 

7. How might a Manichaean retort to Leibniz?

8. What kinds of walks are "essential to alternate"?

9. What kind of mind achieves the greatest discoveries and joys on a stroll?

DQ

  • How many irreducible substances do you think compose the universe?
  • Can you be free, if your own thoughts and actions are part of an eternal, timeless universe all of whose parts are necessary just as they are? 
  • What do you think it means to see the world sub specie aeternitatis? Is that possible for humans?
  • Is it possible to alter the future? 574
  • If you accept that all things are necessary, will you have greater control over your emotions? 575
  • If you accept that personal survival after death is an illusion, is there still something eternal in the mind or soul? 577
  • Do you agree with Russell that you can reject Spinoza's metaphysics but still accept large parts of his ethics? 578
  • Are there circumstances in life that should not be met with "philosophic calm"? 579
  • Are there bad events in life that can never be redeemed or "made good"? 580
  • Do you consider it possible or plausible that we all live as "windowless" substances like Leibniz's monads, in a pre-established harmony of interior perception? Would that be "admirable evidence" of God? 583-4
  • Have you read Candide? What did you think of it?
  • What's the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? Are you one or the other?
  • What are the first improvements you'd make in the world, if you could?
  • Do you prefer to walk in the city or the country? What's the difference?

Old posts on Spinoza... on Leibniz & Voltaire (& William James's meliorism)


Image result for cartoon "best of all possible worlds"





90 comments:

  1. (H3) Substance? I think their are three. the Material, which are those things of the physical world, subject to physical laws. The Intellectual, those thing of the mind and the realm of ideas. Finally Spiritual, those things of God and spirits.

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    1. I agree with you, Bryce. When it comes to substance, those three would be my choice. I could not believe that there is only one like spinoza or that everything has its own substance like leibniz.

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    2. I agree as well. I think we can all relate to living with these substances. We live in a body, subject to physical laws. We think with an intellectual mind, always learning. We are spiritual in what beliefs we choose

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    3. (H1) You know, it's interesting. Most of what we think of as physical and material, whether it's the chair you're sitting on or the dust on the edge of a far-off galaxy, is matter. It's got physicality. It was probably simple hydrogen at some point. But here's the kicker: current science points to all of that matter being about just 4% of what our universe is made of. The rest is 'dark' stuff. We can't see it, but we can detect its effects. So the material is actually pretty multifaceted! And the conscious mind that can puzzle things like that out from years of data and scientific ideas is definitely something to regard with respect! I think the realm of the spiritual is probably the hardest one to defend, but if you look at history you'll see that a great many seem to attribute power to it, so that's something. Whether we separate the spiritual from the intellectual, I think, is a matter of faith and preference.

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  2. (H3) Free Will? Assume for a moment that our time has already happened, that we live merely in a moment of events that has already transpired. If I do something of my own free will, even though this time has already occurred and history after my action has already happened, is my action any less my own? Just because someone looking back from a future point sees what I did and knows it as a hard fact, though I have not done it yet myself, is it any less my decision for making it?

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    1. (H3) I really like that reasoning. It makes me think of the saying, "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?". Just because no one heard doesn't mean the sound didn't occur. Just because it was "meant to happen"/necessary doesn't mean free will and choice weren't involved previously to reach that decision.

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    2. If your action has already been set and a future 'you' can look back at it and know it as a hard fact, then no, you have no decision to make it. However, i believe that time is malleable. There are infinite future timelines in which one decision changes it completely. The future 'you' as stated earlier could only be from one possible future, not a definite one. In this sense, your decision is still yours and not set.

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  3. (H3) SSA? Only if men were like God, which we are not.

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  4. (H3) Future! Can we change it? Well that depends how you look at time, either it s fluid because it has not yet occurred. Set in stone because we live merely in a single point of space and time when all time has happened and yet is also occurring. In that case the future is dependent on our actions but already occurred based on them so no. Multiverse Theory in which case everything branches off into infinity, in which case still know. So no, I don't think we can't.

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    1. I personally believe we can change the future because i believe that every decision we make results in its own future. If we made a different decision, there would be an alternate timeline that branched off of the present.

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    2. I feel that that we cannot change THE future, but OUR future. Every person has infinite amount of alternate timelines based on the decisions they make daily. And those alternate timeline do interact with each other as all of our presents aline. But we can only control our own decisions in the end, not anyone else's. Our future may affect other people's future, but it is not something we have direct control over everyone's decisions to manipulate a desired future.

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  5. (h3) Necessity? Probably not. If for example, your girlfriend says it's necessary to break up for the mutual good of both parties. That won't make it any less painful.

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    1. I agree, just because something may be necessary, does not mean that it will effect your emotions less than if it was not.

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  6. (H3) Philosophic Calm? I would say all situations should be met with it. That is not say we should take all things with calm resignation but we should meet them with a cool head.

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  7. (H3) How would I improve the world If I could? Pick two new candidates for the presidential election... Really though I would probably start with making the UN a body that can actually enforce it's decisions.

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  8. (H3) How many irreducible substances do you think compose the universe?
    I think there's an infinite number of substances, each being separate from another. No two things are alike one another and hold their own identities.

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  9. (H3) Is it possible to alter the future?
    In my opinion, no. Like the oracles describe in the story of Oedipus, once your future has been stated, whatever actions you do will only push you further towards your fate.

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    1. Personally, i think we can alter the future except for certain points in time, due to fate. We can take as many paths as we want, but we will always end up in the same position we are fated.

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    2. I think you have control over your actions. If you know your future, like Oedipus, you can try to avoid it but instead make it for certain. Or do nothing and it will unravel itself.

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  10. (H3) If you accept that all things are necessary, will you have greater control over your emotions?
    Maybe? From my perspective this is about the same as maturity, where despite that things don't go our way we know that throwing a fit won't solve anything.

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  11. (H3) Do you prefer to walk in the city or the country? What's the difference?

    I prefer to walk in the City. The country is great for walking to escape and 'become the walk', but most of the time I walk because I want to be energized and to find new inspirations and sources of creativity, and it's much easier to find that in an urban area.

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    1. I feel that depends on your source of inspiration. I don't prefer one to the other as it depends on my mood. Country walks have a natural beauty, where as urban walks have a more artsy and opportune sense of inspiration

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  12. (H3) I think I would agree more with Leibniz that there are an infinite number of irreducible substances that compose the universe. This is because of the word irreducible, cannot be simplified, therefore, there are quite a number of known substances in the universe not to mention unknown substances. I don't believe we have the knowledge yet to quantify the number of substances in the universe.

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  13. (H3) To see the world sub specie aeternitatis is to see the world in its essential or universal form or nature. I don't think it's possible for humans to see that clearly. We are plagued with emotions and self-interest that clouds the essential.

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  14. (H3) With current technology and understanding of scientific processes, I do not think it is possible to alter the future. Perhaps one day we will have the ability to travel time and space and alter aspects of history in order to change outcomes in the future. However, the question would then become, should we and what would be the adverse side effects. I think we have made too many films exploring this subject to believe this could be a no-consequence situation.

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  15. (H3) If you truly accept that all things are necessary, I do believe you would have greater control over your emotions. This is because you would have an understanding/justification of why things happen. It may still evoke emotions, but I do not think they would be as passionate or uncontrollable. However, emotions aren't reason based, so it could be possible that knowing something was necessary doesn't make you feel any different.

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  16. (H3) Similar to what Bryce said, all situations should be met with a cool head. That is not to say being passionate on a subject is wrong or inaccurate. It just means that when making an argument or discussing an issue, getting overly emotional does not add credibility to your case.

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    1. Agreed. Fact bases nearly everything. Just because emotion backs fact, does not make the fact any more true.

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  17. (H3) I don't think that bad events in life can ever be made good or redeemed. I believe each action should be taken on its own accord. If you do something bad and then do something good in atonement for that bad act, it doesn't cancel out the bad act. It just means that single bad act isn't all that defines you.

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    1. But is there ever an instance where something good only occurs because something bad preceded it? Thought experiment: Let's say you need money to pay the rent, and have no income to do this. Later, someone vandalizes your car, but they are caught and you sue. If you receive enough money from the case to pay your rent as well as undo the damage to your car, then wouldn't you ultimately be grateful that the vandalism occurred?

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  18. (H3) I prefer to walk in the country because the air is cleaner for one. It is also not as noisy and bustling and gives the mind a break from the distractions of life's busy schedule. Walking in a city has its own perks as well. You definitely get the experience of people watching. You can also admire the architecture and the beauty of innovation. However, in the country you get a better outlook on the simplicity of life.

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  19. (H3) There is a saying that I love concerning pessimism vs. optimism. "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjust the sails." I believe I am a realist, neither pessimist or optimist. An optimist always sees the bright side of any situation. A pessimist, conversely, sees the difficulty in every opportunity. Neither, I believe is a particularly great way to live your life. A little bit of either is good, but I believe it is better to see a situation for what it is and react accordingly.

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  20. (H3) I don't know what the first improvements I'd make in the world would be. I'm still at a point in my life where I'm trying to understand the world we live in. I believe this is necessary before one can start making changes to the world around them.

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    1. H1
      That's a smart way to go about it. People who make big deals about causes that they don't understand don't know if they're actually doing good or bad. Being careful that actions will have a beneficial effect on the world is incredibly important.

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  21. I definitely prefer to walk in the country because it brings me a peace of mind and connection to Earth that I cannot get in the city.

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  22. I believe I am neither a pessimist or optimist. Sometimes, i tend to see the brighter side of things, sometimes the darker. It mainly depends on my mood which I look towards.

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    1. I agree that mood can influence your outlook. Sometimes, I can anticipate bad outcomes if I've had a bad experience. But other times, I feel that an event will turn out well

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    2. Do you think it is possible that your moods are ultimately determined by your optimism or pessimism? I'm not saying it is so, just wondering if you think that is also a possible explanation.

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    3. H1
      Ben, I think you hit on something. I understand myself to be an optimist. When I have bad days, I view them as something outside the norm, something different than usual. Being convinced of the short time period of my bad days probably has an effect on the severity of those bad days as well. I'm sure the opposite goes for pessimists and their good days.

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    4. I agree with you, if I wake up on "the wrong side of the bed" the rest of my day I just see the bad things, a "woe is me" kind of attitude.

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  23. I would prefer a walk in the country. However, I would prefer to live in the city. The text says to alternate your walks, which I agree with. In the city, there is always something happening, and there's always something to do. It's exciting in its own way. You're connecting with the world and people. A walk in the country, though, would be better to me, in order to think more clearly about myself

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    1. I agree with you I can appreciate what the city offers, but I would much rather the country and all of it's beauty.

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  24. I don't think knowing all things are necessary will help you out emotionally. In extreme cases , health issues, and tragic accidents, you will probably be really upset for a while even knowing things like these happen often. I think you control yourself when you realize nothing good will come out of being upset forever.

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  25. Christian Brooks (H3)11:51 AM CDT

    To conserve the number of posts and a little bit of time spent scrolling, here are all my comment posts for today:

    "Are there bad events in life that can never be redeemed or 'made good'?"
    I believe that with enough effort most, if not all, negative actions can be redeemed by enough or equivalent positive actions. To ‘make an event’ good is much more situational, but it should also be possible though unlikely. The action would have still been negative, so to make the action, rather than the aftermath, itself good is simply rarer.

    "Is it possible to alter the future?"
    Assuming the future is not set in stone, it is very easy to alter the future. Even on an inconsequential level I would change the future by definition. For example, I could place my pencil an extra inch away from me a single time. Did it affect the future as a whole? Probably not, but it did, by definition, change the future. This all goes out the window when assuming the future is set, however, as that would make the answer to the discussion question a ‘No’ simply because of the nature of it.

    "What's the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? Are you one or the other?"
    Optimists generally assume the best in a situation, whereas pessimists tend to trend towards the negative. Each mindset has its merits, and neither is exclusive to the other. I am generally pessimistic, though I would prefer to be an optimist more often.

    "Do you prefer to walk in the city or the country? What's the difference?"
    I have always lived in a mostly rural area, so a trip to the city is always exciting. If I am going for a walk it is more than likely so I can pass the time, and the city has plenty to occupy my thoughts. A walk through the country is beautiful, but I will inevitably get lost in thought, which I could have done without getting up.

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  26. There are absolutely events where one should not retain a philosophic calm; especially instances that call for one to aid in the defense of others, who are being mistreated by cruel forces.

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    1. H1
      I agree; compassion for people who need help, and the passion to right wrongs done to others, call for a lack of calmness at some level.

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  27. I don't think bad acts can be redeemed just because they fit into a larger picture. It's like the idea of means and ends. The events, like Russell says, are what they are.

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  28. Perhaps I am just being a naive and stupid optimist, but I really think all events, even the terrible ones, can in some way be found to lead to a greater good.

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    1. I agree, it just takes a lot of optimism and patience in order to see the good in the evil.

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  29. I prefer walks in the country. Less noise, and no need to worry about traffic, of either the pedestrian or vehicle variety.

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  30. (H3) I would most closely agree with Descartes that there are 3 substances.

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  31. (H3) I don't believe we can alter our futures, we determine our future through our action but I believe God has my future planned for me.

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  32. (H3) I think that no matter what you believe happens after death that the soul and mind are still eternal beings.

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  33. (H3) I don't think that all bad events in life can be made into a good thing.

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    1. I think that they can be, I think that you can turn any bad event into a positive one. I think that if you can change your reaction from negative to positive towards an event, you will be able to see the good that that bad event caused. It's hard and I can't always do it, but I believe that it is possible.

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    2. Interesting. I think that bad events will always be bad no matter what, unless you drastically shift your point of view with regards to what's bad and what's good at some point later in your life. However, I think that most people can accumulate enough good in their life to outweigh the bad in the end.

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  34. (H3) An optimist sees the bright side while a pessimist focuses more on the negatives.

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  35. (H3) I consider myself more toward the optimistic side.

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  36. (H3) My mood depends on if I would prefer a walk more in the country or the city.

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  37. (H3) One of the first improvements I would make to the world is having free religion everywhere in the world and equality of all forms everywhere.

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    1. What about those religions that require sacrifices (both animal and human), hatred, bigotry, etc.? Should those be allowed? Do those types of religions improve the world?

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  38. H1
    I did read Candide, on a whim after buying a paperback from goodwill when I was a young teenager. I didn't quite get Voltaire's humor or all of his points, but I do remember it being witty and an easy read.

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  39. H1
    DQ: Are there circumstances in life that should not be met with "philosophic calm"?
    I certainly think so. I agree that calm meeting all misfortunes and joys of life seems to point to a lack of character. It is good to respond to a traffic ticket or a bad day with calm, but I don't think it's good to be perfectly calm on your wedding day, or your father's funeral, or at the birth of your child.

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  40. H1
    DQ: Is it possible to alter the future?
    Not according to spinoza, but according to the way I understand the world and free will, it certainly is possible to alternate it. I do not believe the future is set in cement.

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  41. H1
    DQ: Can you be free, if your own thoughts and actions are part of an eternal, timeless universe all of whose parts are necessary just as they are?
    I don't think so. If I'm just a part of a universe were every happening is a necessary occurrence, I don't see how I could be free. If I'm a tiny little organ in a huge universal entity, then saying that I could be free would be just as silly as saying that my liver can be free.

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    1. I mean in a sense it would be free, your liver could freely stop working just because it doesn't want to... couldn't it?

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  42. The difference between an optimist and a pessimist is their world view. Do they always see the cup as half full (optimist) or half empty (pessimist)? I feel like I am usually half empty, but I’ve been working on it for the past couple of months.

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  43. The first improvements I’d make in the world would be to get rid of greed, selfishness, and hate. If you get of these three things, then everything else will fall into place and world hunger, homelessness, etc. will begin to fix itself.

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  44. I think that you can still be free, just because your thoughts are a part of something doesn’t mean they are not your own thoughts.

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  45. I think it is possible to alter the future. I don’t think that the future is set in stone, but instead is written as we go. I think that with each choice and decision we make we alter the future a little bit or sometimes significantly.

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  46. I don’t think that accepting that all things are necessary gives you greater control over your emotions. For instance, in the case of rape, just because you know it’s “necessary” doesn’t mean you can control that depression, anxiety, fear, hate, etc. that comes with being raped. I don’t think that that helps in a lot of cases.

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  47. I think I would prefer to walk in the country. There’s too much noise, distractions, and lights in the city, so when walking you can’t really admire and appreciate the beauty of nature.

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  48. Do you prefer to walk in the city or the country? What's the difference?

    Personally I prefer the countryside since I find that the overall lack of people is more relaxing. The lack of general noise and distractions also makes it easier to think or just simply be. Not that I mind the city, it's just that I'd have to be in a particular mood to deal with all the hustle.

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  49. What's the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? Are you one or the other?

    As stated many times before, an optimist is someone who always looks on the bright side of situations. A pessimist tends to look on the more negative side. I consider myself more of a realist, but I tend to err on the side of negativity.

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  50. Are there bad events in life that can never be redeemed or "made good"? 580

    I feel that if you look or think hard enough you can find a good outlook on any bad event, however I do not believe that this makes the original bad event "good".

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  51. If you accept that all things are necessary, will you have greater control over your emotions? 575

    I think that as far as giving you "greater control", yes, accepting that all things are necessary would do that. However I would think that accepting all events as "necessary" would be a rather grim way to look at everything. Viewing things such as horrific crimes and abuses as simply "necessary" would probably lead to a jaded individual.

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  52. Is it possible to alter the future? 574

    Personally I think that it is. Any one decision could alter the future in any way, foreseeable or not. I know that some disagree, but I think that one's future, for the most part, is a malleable as a ball of putty.

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  53. What are the first improvements you'd make in the world, if you could?

    I would make the world a more understanding place. People will never agree on all things all the time, but if people could learn to try to understand each other, and learn to "live and let live" I think that it would be an improvement.

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    1. I really agree with you on this. If there was more understanding of viewpoints, I believe so much progress could be made. It really would be a major improvement.

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  54. In response to the optimist/pessimist question, I think that an optimist sees the world the way they want it to be, and a pessimist focuses on the parts of life that are the most detrimental to them. I consider myself a realist; I don't wallow in misery over every little unfortunate occurrence, but I'm not gonna sugarcoat it and pretend like everything is sunshine and rainbows either.

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  55. I think that the universe is made up of infinitely many levels of substances. The most basic unit of matter may be the atom, but scientists continuously discover new building blocks that make up even the subatomic particles within an atom. Just as the universe is infinitely massive, so too might it be infinitely small, in a sense.

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  56. On the DQ about finding something eternal about the mind and spirit even if you don't believe in life after death, I think this can be true, to an extent. Your ideas can live on in the minds of others long after you are gone, as exemplified by the philosophers we study in this very class.

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  57. Is pessimism or optimism based on perspective? In a particular situation, one may consider themselves optimistic but another, desiring the same outcome, considers themselves a pessimist...

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    1. I agree, I think it is hard to be only one or the other. There are situations where it's easier to find the negative aspects and situations where you can find the positive ones.

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  58. Do you prefer to walk in the city or the country? What's the difference?
    Both the city and the country have their pros and cons. In the city there is always hustle and bustle, prompting me to people watch. This in turns leads to internal conversations about the way the world is. The country is more natural, less infringed on by humans. This prompts ideas of the way the world was. So, in all honesty, where I walk depends on how I am feeling that day and what aspect of the world I wish to consider.

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  59. H3
    DQ: How many irreducible substances do you think compose the universe?
    Answer: I'm not sure about a specific number, but I do believe there are certain things you can very rarely/never come back from. Such as: dishonesty, murder, Mens Rea, purposeful cruelty, and other things of that nature.

    DQ: Can you be free, if your own thoughts and actions are part of an eternal, timeless universe all of whose parts are necessary just as they are?
    Answer: Yes, I believe you can be free, I just think that the "necessary parts" are fluid, and change in the presence of free will.

    DQ: What do you think it means to see the world sub specie aeternitatis? Is that possible for humans?
    Answer: I think it's inner peace, and acceptance of personal truth. Relating everything to eternity can be depressing, but it doesn't have to be.

    DQ: Is it possible to alter the future?
    Answer: I don't think it matters if we CAN alter the future, as much as our BELIEF that we can. I would not want to live in a world where humanity was faced with the fact that we can't make a change or difference.

    DQ: If you accept that all things are necessary, will you have greater control over your emotions?
    Answer: Perhaps, but I don't see it as a motto to live by. Sometimes the things that "are meant to happen" only happen BECAUSE we attempted to make a difference or change (self-fulfilling prophecy)

    DQ: If you accept that personal survival after death is an illusion, is there still something eternal in the mind or soul?
    Answer: I think that what we leave behind isn't physical, but rather the impact we have on other "souls". Our actions towards other can never be erased or turned down. Whether we realize it or not, humans are easily impressionable, and we can make an impact on someone as easily as smiling at them as you cross paths.

    DQ: Do you agree with Russell that you can reject Spinoza's metaphysics but still accept large parts of his ethics?
    Answer: Because I personally "pick and choose" my beliefs from several different religions and beliefs and ideas, I can not claim that life or beliefs is an "all-or-nothing game."



    DQ: What are the first improvements you'd make in the world, if you could?
    Answer: The improvements that immediately pop into my head are very unrealistic and out-of-reach, and I accept this. I suppose I would attempt to make everyone open-minded.

    DQ: Do you prefer to walk in the city or the country? What's the difference?
    Answer: Country. I grew up in the country, and worked on a barn for several years. I feel much more at home in a forest or field than in a city or crowded area.

    DQ: Do you think man can separate God from his creations or actions? Do you think he is separate?
    Answer: Yes, but very rarely. It is too hard for humans to separate actions from the person. This is why many people who are either in a medical tragedy, or know someone who is, pray to God. Usually, if someone dies, a person will either blame or question God. It's our nature.

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  60. DQ: Are there circumstances in life that should not be met with "philosophic calm"?
    Answer: I think that in the heat of the moment, we should not be calm. However, we should attempt acceptance on reflection. EX- a cop has to choose whether or not to shoot a criminal or let him go free with a hostage. He should not be calm when making the decision, or think that whatever he does will not make a difference. However, he should not dwell on any "mistakes" (by his definition).

    DQ: Are there bad events in life that can never be redeemed or "made good"?
    Answer: I'm not sure that it's events as much as events paired with mens rea, or a guilty mind. Some actions are somewhat justified in situations, but it's the mind that finds you truly guilty. EX- Shooting someone for trespassing VS shooting someone out of hatred. Trespassing can be self defense. Hatred at that magnitude can never be justified.

    DQ: Do you consider it possible or plausible that we all live as "windowless" substances like Leibniz's monads, in a pre-established harmony of interior perception? Would that be "admirable evidence" of God?
    Answer: While I generally try to accept all sound theories about life and existence, I am like most humans- I don't to believe that we have no say in our paths, or no meaning. I have said before, I would rather live on a roller-coaster of emotions than be a zombie of content.

    DQ: Have you read Candide? What did you think of it?
    Answer: No, I have not read Candide.

    DQ: What's the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? Are you one or the other?
    Answer: The popular view of an optimist is someone who looks for, or sees the best in life and people. The popular view of a pessimist is someone who looks for, or sees the worst in people and life. I'm not sure I'm one or the other. I consider myself extremely distrustful, though I have hopes for the best, while still attempting to remain realistic.

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  61. H2

    I prefer a walk in the country/nature. There I am more in touch with my true self rather than the self that society wants, in the city.

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