Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, February 29, 2016

Section 4: Zeno the Stoic

Emily, Luis, and Ben discussing the life and importance of Zeno the Stoic, the principles of Stoicism, and the importance of Stoicism in modern times.

Many people think philosophy is people who lived several ages ago who have came up with many of these great quotes that we have studied. Realistically anyone can be a philosopher it does not take a degree or old age or you to become a philosopher. Philosophy is basically somebody who has been in some position as somebody else and realize some way to fix the situation or make it worse. Most of our favorite rappers or singers can be a philosopher because they have been in the same shoes as ours and has gained knowledge to know what to do in the situation we're in.  My favorite philosopher has to be Nasir Jones aka Nas. Nas is a famous rapper from Queens , New York although he is not my favorite rapper but he has many great quotes and speaks about many situations  of being a young black male  living life in poverty. One of his favorite books to me is his audio books to me is '' Illmatic". In this book Nas speaks about a day and a life in his neck of the woods but also made it relate able to everyone who is in his same situation. One of  my favorite chapters of the book is '' Represent" he walks us through a day of his life. He starts of with painting a vivid picture of how any day can be your last in living in this environment he is living in. Then he begins to tell you what he sees  as son as he walks outside "The corners is the hot spot, full of mad criminals
Who don't care, guzzling beers." He continues with letting you know that if you are not from around there you are not welcome to come around and hang. He also lets us know that the government are trying to stop whats going on by any means necessary and how the streets is full of killing ''The D.A.'s on the roof, trying to, watch us and knock us And killer coppers, even come through in helicopters ." In this song he calls his self a street rebel and tells us ta the facts about god is backwards and how he doesn't believe in god. He starts off his next verse by giving letting you know that he's not your average 9-5 guy he says '' Yo, they call me Nas, I'm not your legal type of fella
Moet drinking, marijuana smoking street dweller Who's always on the corner." My favorite quote out this chapter is when he says "The school drop-out, never liked the shit from day one Cause life ain't shit but stress fake niggas and crab stunts." This quote is so relate able from coming from the way I grew up because this a basic out look on how most people view life. We tend to view life as being hard because we are put in predicaments that we think nobody else is living. Also we think school is a waste of time and we think that its better to result to the streets because going t school won't help us in the long run.  Nas to me is a philosopher that I compare to John locke.
Section 06- Ad'lynn Carroll and Tanner Davis

Our presentation will be over the life of Aristotle and some of his philosophies. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Section 4: Love

Megan Loveless, Kaitlyn Flint, Ellisha Thomas- Section 4

For our presentation we will be discussing different philosophers' views on love.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Section 4. Karla, Harrison and Preston
We are doing our report on Paul and his life before and after he converted to Christianity. Karla and Harrison will talk about his life and job before and after he encountered Christ. Preston will talk about his philosophy and teachings after he became a Christian.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Section 6: Machiavelli

James Manni, Cassie Franse, Matt Bennett

For our project, we will be discussing 3 different aspect of Machiavelli.
1. Life
2. Machiavelli's The Prince
3. Machiavelli's The Art of War.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Section 6: Thomas Hobbes

Our group will be taking a look at Thomas Hobbes. We will discuss his life, his writings and his historical and philosophical influence. 
  • A little history: Lace Wilson
  • Leviathan: Kellie Whitaker
  • The Social Contract and Influence: Devin Mahoney


Section 4. Ashley  Haydon, Amy Young, Dannielle Bonner.
We are doing our midterm report on the life of Pyrrho, Pyrrhonian Skepticism, and modern skepticism.
Ashley Haydon: life and fact of Pyrrho
Amy Young: modern skepticism
Dannielle Bonner: Pyrrhonian Skepticism

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Section 6 Group Topic- Steve Jobs

1.  The Illusionist- Brock Francis

2.  The Rebel-  Sterlin Smith

3.  The Misfit- Frank Dremel

Section 4: Group Topic - Free Will

Group Members: Erick Morgado, Roland Phan, Adam Martin

Our group will discuss about free will during our presentation

1. Free Will by St. Augustine
2. Free Will Contradictions
3. Absence of Free Will

We will use knowledge from A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton for the topic on free will from the view of St. Augustine. An argument will then be made against this perspective.
One of the sources that we will be using include this short video to start off number 3.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Quiz Feb23

Machiavelli, Hobbes (LH); WATCH: Hobbes on freedom & security (HI) LISTEN: Quentin Skinner on Machiavelli's The Prince, Quentin Skinner on Hobbes on the State (PB); Hobbes & civil disobedience (HI)... Podcast...Tupac, Donald, and the Prince on means and ends

1. Machiavelli's key idea was that a politician ("prince") needs to have what quality?

2. Does Nigel think the adjective "machiavellian" correctly implies that the politicians it describes are simply evil or self-serving?

3. What did Machiavelli think a successful ruler needs to know about human nature?

4. Life in a state of nature would be _______, poor, nasty, brutish, and _____.

5. What was Hobbes' metaphorical image of the civilized state he thought people were driven by fear to prefer to a state of nature?

6. Hobbes was a _______, convinced that all aspects of existence including thinking are ______ activities.

BONUS: Name the English philosopher I frequently mention who supported and practiced civil disobedience.


1. What qualities do you value in politicians? Do you always vote according to party allegiance, or for the "best" candidate regardless of party?

2. Do you think our current leaders (in all branches of government) are "machiavellian"? How so? Do you approve or disapprove of their quality of leadership?

3. Who do you think have been our best leaders? Why? Were they also the most successful politicians? If not, why not? Who are the best leaders in the world today, in your judgment? Why? Do they seem to share Machiavelli's opinion of human nature?

4. What would happen if the state and its authoritative institutions disappeared? Would life be good?

5. Is safety more important than freedom? How does this question play out in our current politics, regarding (for instance) gun rights and violence in America, or privacy versus national security?

6. If materialism (physicalism) is true, do people still have the ability to make responsible decisions and choices?

7. Have you ever engaged in an act of deliberate law-breaking, in order to challenge what you considered an unjust law? Are there circumstances in which you would do so? Would you risk arrest on behalf of social justice, climate change, or anything else?

8.Would life in a state of nature be as bad as Hobbes thought? In your experience, are most people naturally distrustful, hostile, aggressive, and vicious? Or are we "noble savages," made less so by civilization and its institutions?

9. Is the threat of insecurity and fear of violent death great enough for most people to override their desire for personal freedom? Is safety more important to you than liberty? Does it bother you that the government may be monitoring your calls, emails, etc.?

10. If you agree with Hobbes that humans left to themselves would revert to base, aggressive, instinctive behavior, do you also agree that the only corrective for this condition is an all-powerful and authoritative central state? Can individuals change, and become more kind and compassionate? Or is this beyond our programming?

11. Is it possible to know that human nature is inherently good or bad? Or must we treat one another as individuals, and not exemplars of a universal nature?


An old post-

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Machiavelli & civil disobedience

But first a word about what really matters: health. Though I complain often enough of the sorts of aches and pains common to members of my (Eisenhower-era) demographic, I'm rarely bedridden with illness. So, when I'm driven to my sickbed for an entire night and day and night, as I was between Saturday and Monday, it's a bit of a shock and (in retrospect) a welcome reminder. "Keep your health," William James wrote to his English pragmatist friend Schiller, "it's better than all the truths in the firmament." All else is bonus. I'm running on fumes and yesterday afternoon's half-bowl of chicken noodle soup so far today, but I'm up and running. That really does matter, way more to me today than Machiavelli ever did. But I'll try to fake it.

Mistrust, suspicion, refusal to really listen to others: these are symptomatic features of the world as Machiavelli (and Hobbes, coming next) knew it, a world full of testimonial injustice. Not to mention intrigue, plot, war, and violence. The more things change...

Niccolo Machiavelli praised virtu’ in a leader: manliness and valor are euphemistic translations, ruthless efficiency might be more to the point. The intended implication of "manly" is not so much machismo as hu-manity, with a twist. Machiavelli's manly prince judiciously wields and conceals the guile of the fox and the brutality of the lion, all the while brandishing an image of kindhearted wisdom. A wise prince, he said, does whatever it takes to serve the public interest as he sees it. But does he see it aright? Hard to tell, if you can’t believe a word he says. But Skinner and others think he's gotten a bad name unfairly. (See videos below.)
A new detective mystery starring Nicco has recently been published, btw, and was featured on NPR. “What would happen if two of the biggest names of the Renaissance — Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci — teamed up as a crime-fighting duo?” Beats me, may have to read The Malice of Fortune. One of our groups, I think, is doing a midterm report on Superheroes & Villains. Room for one more?

I'm a bit puzzled by the sentimental fondness some seem to feel for "machiavellian" politicians. Haven't we had enough of those? Wouldn't we rather be led by Ciceronians and Senecans and Roosevelts, evincing qualities of compassion and (relative) transparency? Don't we wish them to affirm and work for the goals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Eleanor's great post-White House achievememt?

But, Bertie Russell agrees that Machiavelli has been ill-served by invidious judgments that assimilate him to our time's conventions and accordingly find him objectionable, instead of appreciating his fitness to live and serve in his own day. Russell praises his lack of "humbug." Give the devil his due.

“I never say what I believe and I never believe what I say,” declared Machiavelli. “If I sometimes say the truth, I conceal it among lies”... more»

'The Prince' and 'Why Machiavelli Still Matters ...
The political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli wrote “The Prince” as a manual on leadership and governing during the late Italian Renaissance, ...

In Tuscany, Following the Rise and Fall of Machiavelli
Five centuries after “The Prince” was written, visiting spots in and around Florence that track the arc of Machiavelli's life.

Arthur Herman makes the case for assigning Machiavelli to Team Aristotle... Inside the Mind of Machiavelli (Salon)

Looking for a firm modern presidential declaration of anti-Machiavellian sentiment? Jimmy Carter said: "A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others. It is a weak nation, like a weak person, that must behave with bluster and boasting and rashness and other signs of insecurity."

We're talking civil disobedience too, today. Again Nigel slights the Yanks, in not mentioningThoreau. “If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.” And,
Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?
So, here's my Discussion Question today: Have you ever engaged in an act of deliberate law-breaking, in order to challenge what you considered an unjust law? Are there circumstances in which you would do so? Would you risk arrest on behalf of social justice, climate change, or anything else? Will you at least support those who do? Are you a compliantist, a gradualist, or a transgressive reformer?

Russell, incidentally, himself a civil disobedient in the great tradition of Socrates, Gandhi, King, et al - ("On April 15 1961, at the age of 89, Bertrand Russell gave a speech calling for non-violent civil disobedience in his campaign for British unilateralism, i.e. to get Britain to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons and membership in NATO") - gives Thoreau only passing attention as an American representative of the romantic movement of the 19th century.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Section 6 Group Topic: Confucius

Sophie Raffo, Courtney Manns, and Emmanuela Okot will be discussing these aspects of Confucius:

1. An Introduction to Confucius-- Emmanuela

2. Main Points in his Philosophy--Sophie

3. How his Philosophy shows up in today's society--Courtney

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Section 4: Group Topic - Marcus Aurelius

Stephen Martin, Katharine Khaoone, and Cameron Hix will be discussing Marcus Aurelius.
This report will be divided into:

1. His Life as a Father - Katharine
2. His Life as an Emperor - Cameron
3. Reflections on his work Meditations - Stephen

Section 4: Group Topic = Socrates

Our group members are: Akmal Ishmetov, J. Skylar Dean, and Ian Law

We will cover three different aspects of Socrates:

1. His Life

2. His Teachings

3. His Death and Trial

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Quiz Feb18

Boethius (LH); Consolation of Philosophy Bk V (* below); LISTEN: Religious freedom as constraint (HI) and IOT [this is a late addition, not required but strongly recommended]; WATCH: Boethius & Philosophy... dawn post: Boethius... **Anselm & Aquinas (LH); WATCH: Aquinas & 1st Cause (HI) LISTEN:Anthony Kenny on Aquinas' Ethics (PB)....Podcast

1. Who consoles Boethius in his prison cell but also reprimands him for having forgotten her?

2. What paradox puzzles and perplexes Boethius?

3. Why does "Philosophy" say divine foreknowledge does not rob us of free will?

4. Why did Anselm conclude that God must exist?

5. Why did Aquinas think there couldn't be an infinite regress of causes?

6. Is "Nothing" obviously the best answer to "What caused the cosmos?


  • How hard would you find it to take consolation from Philosophy, if you were awaiting your execution? Do you think you could become more "mindful" and less fearful, by studying and reflecting philosophically on the vicissitudes and randomness of "fortune"?
  • Comment: "Luck is the residue of design." (Branch Rickey) Can you improve your luck? Why do some succeed and others fail in life? Is it all luck?
  • Is the Christian God similar enough to the Platonic form of the Good that a Platonist should be a Christian, or vice versa? Do both offer the same sort of "consolation"? Would Boethius's "Philosophy" be better named "Theodicy"? What's the difference between philosophical consolation and theological justification?
  • Do you agree that divine foreknowlege and human free will are not mutually contradictory "if you believe that God is all-knowing?"
  • What's your definition of free will? Even if you could not have acted otherwise, in any particular situation, are you still "free" just because you did not know that?
  • Why do you think Boethius wrote Consolation of Philosophy as an imagined dialogue, instead of a soliloquy?
  • Do you think not existing is an imperfection? What, exactly, is made less perfect by its failure to actually exist? Can we think our way to an understanding of what must be real, and what is merely imaginary?
  • Can you infer from a (hypothetically-) necessary First Cause to an omnipotent, omniscient, omni-benevolent God? Can you rule out the possibility that a First Cause might be malevolent or Satanic?
  • Bertrand Russell said he gave up belief in God when he encountered J.S. Mill's Autobiography account of not getting a satisfactory answer to the question "What caused God?" Is that a good question, and a good response?
  • And there was this great question from Zach: "What would you miss most, in solitary confinement?" People, things, things that give you virtual contact with people...?

"Boethius in his cell imagined his visitor: Philosophy personified as a tall woman wearing a dress with the letters Pi to Theta on it. She berates him for deserting her and the stoicism she preached. Boethius’s own book was a response to her challenge..." (from Nigel's essay "Philosophy Should Be Conversation")
COLLEGE students tell me they know how to look someone in the eye and type on their phones at the same time, their split attention undetected. They say it’s a skill they mastered in middle school when they wanted to text in class without getting caught. Now they use it when they want to be both with their friends and, as some put it, “elsewhere.” These days, we feel less of a need to hide the fact that we are dividing our attention. In a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of cellphone owners said they had used their phones during the last social gathering they attended. But they weren’t happy about it; 82 percent of adults felt that the way they used their phones in social settings hurt the conversation.I’ve been studying the psychology of online connectivity for more than 30 years. For the past five, I’ve had a special focus: What has happened to face-to-face conversation in a world where so many people say they would rather text than talk? I’ve looked at families, friendships and romance. I’ve studied schools, universities and workplaces. When college students explain to me how dividing their attention plays out in the dining hall, some refer to a “rule of three.” In a conversation among five or six people at dinner, you have to check that three people are paying attention — heads up — before you give yourself permission to look down at your phone. So conversation proceeds, but with different people having their heads up at different times. The effect is what you would expect: Conversation is kept relatively light, on topics where people feel they can drop in and out... (from Sherry Terkle's "Stop Googling. Let's Talk")
Sherry Turkle is a singular voice in the discourse about technology. She’s a skeptic who was once a believer, a clinical psychologist among the industry shills and the literary hand-wringers, an empiricist among the cherry-picking anecdotalists, a moderate among the extremists, a realist among the fantasists, a humanist but not a Luddite: a grown-up. She holds an endowed chair at M.I.T. and is on close collegial terms with the roboticists and affective-computing engineers who work there. Unlike Jaron Lanier, who bears the stodgy weight of being a Microsoft guy, or Evgeny Morozov, whose perspective is Belarussian, Turkle is a trusted and respected insider. As such, she serves as a kind of conscience for the tech world.

Turkle’s previous book, “Alone ­Together,” was a damning report on human relationships in the digital age. By observing people’s interactions with robots, and by interviewing them about their computers and phones, she charted the ways in which new technologies render older values obsolete. When we replace human caregivers with robots, or talking with texting, we begin by arguing that the replacements are “better than nothing” but end up considering them “better than anything” — cleaner, less risky, less demanding. Paralleling this shift is a growing preference for the virtual over the real. Robots don’t care about people, but Turkle’s subjects were shockingly quick to settle for the feeling of being cared for and, similarly, to prefer the sense of community that social media deliver, because it comes without the hazards and commitments of a real-world community. In her interviews, again and again, Turkle observed a deep disappointment with human beings, who are flawed and forgetful, needy and unpredictable, in ways that machines are wired not to be. Her new book, “Reclaiming Conversation,” extends her critique, with less ­emphasis on robots and more on the dissatisfaction with technology reported by her recent interview subjects. She takes their dissatisfaction as a hopeful sign, and her book is straightforwardly a call to arms: Our rapturous submission to digital technology has led to an atrophying of human capacities like empathy and self-­reflection, and the time has come to reassert ourselves, behave like adults and put technology in its place... (Jonathan Franzen review of Reclaiming Conversation, continues)
A follow-up from Sherry Turkle on the lost art of conversation:
My recent Sunday Review essay, adapted from my book “Reclaiming Conversation,” made a case for face-to-face talk. The piece argued that direct engagement is crucial for the development of empathy, the ability to put ourselves in the place of others. The article went on to say that it is time to make room for this most basic interaction by first accepting our vulnerability to the constant hum of online connection and then designing our lives and our products to protect against it.

Some readers agreed with me. Others, even as they disagreed, captured the fragility of conversation today... (continues)

Though one goal of visiting a professor during office hours is certainly transactional — to increase your knowledge and improve your grade — the other is to visit someone who is making an effort to understand you and how you think. And a visit to a professor holds the possibility of giving a student the feeling of adult support and commitment.

But students say they don’t come to office hours because they are afraid of being too dull. They tell me they prefer to email professors because only with the time delay and the possibility of editing can they best explain their work. My students suggest that an email from them will put me in the best position to improve their ideas. They cast our meeting in purely transactional terms, judging that the online transaction will yield better results than a face-to-face meeting.

Zvi, a college junior who doesn’t like to see his professors in person but prefers to email, used transactional language to describe what he might get out of office hours: He has ideas; the professors have information that will improve them. In the end, Zvi walked back his position and admitted that he stays away from professors because he doesn’t feel grown-up enough to talk to them. His professors might be able to help him with this, but not because they’ll give him information.

Studies of mentoring show that what makes a difference, what can change the life of a student, is the presence of a strong figure who shows an interest, who, as a student might say, “gets me.”

You need face-to-face conversation for that. nyt 
*From Consolation of Philosophy, Book V-'Since, then, as we lately proved, everything that is known is cognized not in accordance with its own nature, but in accordance with the nature of the faculty that comprehends it, let us now contemplate, as far as lawful, the character of the Divine essence, that we may be able to understand also the nature of its knowledge.
'God is eternal; in this judgment all rational beings agree. Let us, then, consider what eternity is. For this word carries with it a revelation alike of the Divine nature and of the Divine knowledge. Now, eternity is the possession of endless life whole and perfect at a single moment. What this is becomes more clear and manifest from a comparison with things temporal. For whatever lives in time is a present proceeding from the past to the future, and there is nothing set in time which can embrace the whole space of its life together. To-morrow's state it grasps not yet, while it has already lost yesterday's; nay, even in the life of to-day ye live no longer than one brief transitory moment. Whatever, therefore, is subject to the condition of time, although, as Aristotle deemed of the world, it never have either beginning or end, and its life be stretched to the whole extent of time's infinity, it yet is not such as rightly to be thought eternal. For it does not include and embrace the whole space of infinite life at once, but has no present hold on things to come, not yet accomplished. Accordingly, that which includes and possesses the whole fulness of unending life at once, from which nothing future is absent, from which nothing past has escaped, this is rightly called eternal; this must of necessity be ever present to itself in full self-possession, and hold the infinity of movable time in an abiding present. Wherefore they deem not rightly who imagine that on Plato's principles the created world is made co-eternal with the Creator, because they are told that hebelieved the world to have had no beginning in time,[S] and to be destined never to come to an end. For it is one thing for existence to be endlessly prolonged, which was what Plato ascribed to the world, another for the whole of an endless life to be embraced in the present, which is manifestly a property peculiar to the Divine mind. Nor need God appear earlier in mere duration of time to created things, but only prior in the unique simplicity of His nature. For the infinite progression of things in time copies this immediate existence in the present of the changeless life, and when it cannot succeed in equalling it, declines from movelessness into motion, and falls away from the simplicity of a perpetual present to the infinite duration of the future and the past; and since it cannot possess the whole fulness of its life together, for the very reason that in a manner it never ceases to be, it seems, up to a certain point, to rival that which it cannot complete and express by attaching itself indifferently to any present moment of time, however swift and brief; and since this bears some resemblance to that ever-abiding present, it bestows on everything to which it is assigned the semblance of existence. But since it cannot abide, it hurries along the infinite path of time, and the result has been that it continues by ceaseless movement the life the completeness of which it could not embrace while it stood still. So, if we are minded to give things their right names, we shall follow Plato in saying that God indeed is eternal, but the world everlasting.

'Since, then, every mode of judgment comprehends its objects conformably to its own nature, and since God abides for ever in an eternal present, His knowledge, also transcending all movement of time, dwells in the simplicity of its own changeless present, and, embracing the whole infinite sweep of the past and of the future, contemplates all that falls within its simple cognition as if it were now taking place. And therefore, if thou wilt carefully consider that immediate presentment whereby it discriminates all things, thou wilt more rightly deem it not foreknowledge as of something future, but knowledge of a moment that never passes. For this cause the name chosen to describe it is not prevision, but providence, because, since utterly removed in nature from things mean and trivial, its outlook embraces all things as from some lofty height. Why, then, dost thou insist that the things which are surveyed by the Divine eye are involved in necessity, whereas clearly men impose no necessity on things which they see? Does the act of vision add any necessity to the things which thou seest before thy eyes?'

'Assuredly not.'

And yet, if we may without unfitness compare God's present and man's, just as ye see certain things in this your temporary present, so does He see all things in His eternal present. Wherefore this Divine anticipation changes not the natures and properties of things, and it beholds things present before it, just as they will hereafter come to pass in time. Nor does it confound things in its judgment, but in the one mental view distinguishes alike what will come necessarily and what without necessity. For even as ye, when at one and the same time ye see a man walking on the earth and the sun rising in the sky, distinguish between the two, though one glance embraces both, and judge the former voluntary, the latter necessary action: so also the Divine vision in its universal range of view does in no wise confuse the characters of the things which are present to its regard, though future in respect of time. Whence it follows that when it perceives that something will come into existence, and yet is perfectly aware that this is unbound by any necessity, its apprehension is not opinion, but rather knowledge based on truth. And if to this thou sayest that what God sees to be about to come to pass cannot fail to come to pass, and that what cannot fail to come to pass happens of necessity, and wilt tie me down to this word necessity, I will acknowledge that thou affirmest a most solid truth, but one which scarcely anyone can approach to who has not made theDivine his special study. For my answer would be that the same future event is necessary from the standpoint of Divine knowledge, but when considered in its own nature it seems absolutely free and unfettered. So, then, there are two necessities—one simple, as that men are necessarily mortal; the other conditioned, as that, if you know that someone is walking, he must necessarily be walking. For that which is known cannot indeed be otherwise than as it is known to be, and yet this fact by no means carries with it that other simple necessity. For the former necessity is not imposed by the thing's own proper nature, but by the addition of a condition. No necessity compels one who is voluntarily walking to go forward, although it is necessary for him to go forward at the moment of walking. In the same way, then, if Providence sees anything as present, that must necessarily be, though it is bound by no necessity of nature. Now, God views as present those coming events which happen of free will. These, accordingly, from the standpoint of the Divine vision are made necessary conditionally on the Divine cognizance; viewed, however, in themselves, they desist not from the absolute freedom naturally theirs. Accordingly, without doubt, all things will come to pass which God foreknows as about to happen, but of these certain proceed of free will; and though these happen, yet by the fact of their existence they do not lose their proper nature, in virtue of which before they happened it was really possible that they might not have come to pass.

'What difference, then, does the denial of necessity make, since, through their being conditioned by Divine knowledge, they come to pass as if they were in all respects under the compulsion of necessity? This difference, surely, which we saw in the case of the instances I formerly took, the sun's rising and the man's walking; which at the moment of their occurrence could not but be taking place, and yet one of them before it took place was necessarily obliged to be, while the other was not so at all. So likewise the things which to God are present without doubt exist, but some of them come from the necessity of things, others from the power of the agent. Quite rightly, then, have we said that these things are necessary if viewed from the standpoint of the Divine knowledge; but if they are considered in themselves, they are free from the bonds of necessity, even as everything which is accessible to sense, regarded from the standpoint of Thought, is universal, but viewed in its own nature particular. "But," thou wilt say, "if it is in my power to change my purpose, I shall make void providence, since I shall perchance change something which comes within its foreknowledge." My answer is: Thou canst indeed turn aside thy purpose; but since the truth of providence is ever at hand to see that thou canst, and whether thou dost, and whither thou turnest thyself, thou canst not avoid the Divine foreknowledge, even as thou canst not escape the sight of a present spectator, although of thy free will thou turn thyself to various actions. Wilt thou, then, say: "Shall the Divine knowledge be changed at my discretion, so that, when I will this or that, providence changes its knowledge correspondingly?"

'Surely not.'

'True, for the Divine vision anticipates all that is coming, and transforms and reduces it to the form of its own present knowledge, and varies not, as thou deemest, in its foreknowledge, alternating to this or that, but in a single flash it forestalls and includes thy mutations without altering. And this ever-present comprehension and survey of all things God has received, not from the issue of future events, but from the simplicity of His own nature. Hereby also is resolved the objection which a little while ago gave thee offence—that our doings in the future were spoken of as if supplying the cause of God's knowledge. For this faculty of knowledge, embracing all things in its immediate cognizance, has itself fixed the bounds of all things, yet itself owes nothing to what comes after.

'And all this being so, the freedom of man's will stands unshaken, and laws are not unrighteous, since their rewards and punishments are held forth to wills unbound by any necessity. God, who foreknoweth all things, still looks down from above, and the ever-present eternity of His vision concurs with the future character of all our acts, and dispenseth to the good rewards, to the bad punishments. Our hopes and prayers also are not fixed on God in vain, and when they are rightly directed cannot fail of effect. Therefore, withstand vice, practise virtue, lift up your souls to right hopes, offer humble prayers to Heaven. Great is the necessity of righteousness laid upon you if ye will not hide it from yourselves, seeing that all your actions are done before the eyes of a Judge who seeth all things.'

EPILOGUE. Within a short time of writing 'The Consolation of Philosophy,' Boethius died by a cruel death. As to the manner of his death there is some uncertainty. According to one account, he was cut down by the swords of the soldiers before the very judgment-seat of Theodoric; according to another, a cord was first fastened round his forehead, and tightened till 'his eyes started'; he was then killed with a club.
An old post
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Boethius & Bentham & animal rights

Today in CoPhi it's the pagan/stoic/Christian/Platonist martyr Boethius, and then the rights of animals.

We saw last time that Bertrand Russell had little regard for how Augustine, despite his philosophical sophistication when it came to hard-nut conceptual problems like time, ironically squandered much of his own on a preoccupation with sin, chastity, and staying out of hell.

Russell liked Boethius, or aspects of his thought at least. Boethius was also perplexed by time, and initially unimpressed by the alleged capacity of timeless divinity to accommodate both omniscience and free will. Like Russell, I'm struck by this "singular" thinker's ability to contemplate happiness (he thought all genuinely happy people are gods) while practically darkening death's door.

Boethius was consoled by the thought that God’s foreknowledge of everything, including the fact that Boethius himself (among too many others) would be unjustly imprisoned and tortured to death, in no way impaired his (Boethius’s) freedom or god's perfection. Consoled. Comforted.Calmed. Reconciled.

That’s apparently because God knows things timelessly, sees everything “in a go.” I don’t think that would really make me feel any better, in my prison cell. The real consolation of philosophy comes when it contributes to the liberation of mind and body (one thing, not two). But it’s still very cool to imagine Philosophy a comfort-woman, reminding us of our hard-earned wisdom when the going gets impossible.

And then, of course, they killed him. The list of martyred philosophers grows. And let’s not forget Hypatia and Bruno. [Russell] The problem of suffering (“evil”) was very real to them, as it is to so many of our fellow world-citizens. You can’t chalk it all up to free will. But can we even chalk torture or any other inflicted choice up to it, given the full scope of a genuinely omniscient creator’s knowledge? If He already knows what I’m going to do unto others and what others will do unto me, am I in any meaningful sense a free agent who might have done otherwise? The buck stops where?

For those keeping score, add Boethius to Aristotle's column.

[Christians 2, Philosophers 0... Christians & Muslims...JandMoandPaul...Mystics, scholastics, Ferengi... faith & reason...]

And now, for something completely different: animals. Not very many philosophers of note have denied that animals are capable of feeling pain. But Descartes did.

"Speciesism" is generally understood to to convey a pejorative connotation, but I went on record a long time ago as a species of speciesist. A pragmatist is bound to give priority to human interests, but an animal-loving pragmatist will always urge the rejection of allowing them to run roughshod over our furry fellow travelers whose planet it also is. Still, if animal research will save human lives I'm going to cast my vote in favor. [Full movie]

Kant's view that harming animals is wrong because it damages OUR character and relationships, however, is too speciesist for my blood.

I'm happy our text gives me another opportunity to put in a word for quirky old Jeremy Bentham, who rightly noted that pain and suffering know no species bounds. [Animal Rights... A Utilitarian View] Other critters don't process it with the magnifying human sort of emotional complexity, nor do they typically bear any detectably solicitous mutual regard of the human kind (though some primates and puppies do display what we're bound to anthropomorphize as tenderness and affection). But that doesn't make them robots.

Happily, Jeremy's still feeling no pain.

Image result for bentham animals suffer

Peter Singer (@PeterSinger)
Are we making progress on animal welfare? My thoughts, briefly, in The Guadian:

Image result for aristotle on happiness quotes

Image result for aristotle on happiness quotes

An old post-
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Anselm, Aquinas, & politics
It's more Saints today in CoPhi, and more Harvards: Anselm & Aquinas (with commentary on the latter from Anthony Kenny), Robert Nozick and political philosophy. Inexplicably, our politics chapter omits discussion of the most important political philosopher of the 20th century, John Rawls. We'll rectify that in class.

Anselm stumped for the divine moral perfection (and omnipotence and omniscience) of a being “than which none greater could be conceived.” His Ontological Argumentis either ingenious or ridiculous, depending on who you ask. But it rarely persuades those who do not come at it armed with antecedent faith. "Faith seeking understanding," or maybe just the appearance of rational cover.

Anselm considers reason subordinate to faith. 'I believe in order to understand,' he says; following Augustine, he holds that without belief it is impossible to understand. God, he says, is not just... St Anselm, like his predecessors in Christian philosophy, is in the Platonic rather than the Aristotelian tradition. For this reason, he has not the distinctive characteristics of the philosophy which is called "scholastic," which culminated in Thomas Aquinas. Russell

In the time of Aquinas, the battle for Aristotle, as against Plato, still had to be fought. The influence of Aquinas secured the victory [for Aristotle] until the Renaissance; then Plato, who became better known than in the Middle Ages, again aquired supremacy... Russell Indeed, "Aquinas fully endorsed Aristotle..." (Cave & Light)

Aquinas was sure there had to be an uncaused cause in back of everything, or else we’d never get to an end of explaining. Well, we probably won’t. Not ’til the would-be explainers themselves are gone. But is an uncaused cause really a step forward, explanatorily speaking?

Both of those guys were committed, of course, to belief in a heavenly afterlife. Samuel Scheffler, in the Stone recently, wrote of the afterlife here. Here, of course, is where people live the lives their beliefs inform. Life, not god or supernaturalism, is the natural impulse behind religion. Dewey's continuous human community is another way of naming nature's afterlife.

But what if you learned that the species would expire within a month of your own passing? That's Scheffler's thought experiment. He thinks he and we would be profoundly unsettled, that life would suffer an instant meaning collapse, and that this shows how invested we all are in a natural afterlife for humans (though not each of us in particular) on earth. He thinks "the continuing existence of other people after our deaths -- even that of complete strangers -- matters more to us than does our own survival and that of our loved ones." That's what he means when he begins his essay: "I believe in life after death."

He also explained his view on Philosophy Bites.

Our old dead Italian Saints said nothing about this, so far as I'm aware. Anthony Kenny does say Aquinas still agreed with Aristotle about "the best way to spend your lifetime down here on Earth," that happiness is ultimately an activity rather than a feeling, and that "the supreme happiness for rational beings was an intellectual activity." To Aristotle's standard "pagan virtues" he added faith (in Christian revelation), hope (for heavenly ascent), and charity (toward god and neighbor).

But the charity he seems to admire most in Aquinas is of the intellectual variety, "always trying to balance arguments from both sides" and treat those whose conclusions he disputes with civility.

Neither of today's 20th century Harvard philosophers was a Saint, but both were civil.
Robert Nozick began his academic career as a narrow analyst and wunderkind libertarian, but evolved well beyond his starting place. He came to realize that astringent libertarianism neglects "the reality of our social solidarity and humane concern for others." He came also to the view that "thinking about life is more like mulling it over" than like pinning it with a syllogism. "It feels like growing up more." He kept growing, 'til stomach cancer took him at age 63.

Nozick's chapter on dying in The Examined Life begins,

THEY SAY NO ONE is able to take seriously the possibility of his or her own death, but this does not get it exactly right. (Does everyone take seriously the possibility of his or her own life?) A person's own death does become real to him after the death of both parents.He's right about that, in my experience.

Before his death (as Yogi Berra might have said) Nozick gave us the good oldExperience Machine. We just talked about this the other day. Here's a Yalie to talk about it too.

John Rawls, says Carlin Romano, wrote "the most important book of English-language political theory since Mill's On Liberty. His goal was a coherent theory of "justice as fairness" whose appeal would span the spectrum, after emerging from behind a "Veil of Ignorance." Not everyone buys it, but we all talk about it.

And now there's a musical stage show. How many political philosophers can say that?! Rawls@dawn

Also a propos of politics, happily included in our chapter today: historicity, Kantian respect, egalitarianism, libertarianism, affirmative action ("reverse discrimination"), the Marxist critique of sham democracy, and paradoxes of conscience. Plenty, as usual, on our plates.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Study Guide- Section 4

Exam Questions:

1) What did William James tell his audience was the most interesting thing about each of them?
2) Why did James consider his lecture audacious?
3) What examples of philosophical controversies does James mention to illustrate his claim that we're all vitally interested in philosophy?
4) What is the role of temperament in philosophy according to James?
5)What does James say about "tender-foot Bostonians" and "Rocky Mountain toughs"?
6)Does James favor "refinement" in philosophy?
7)What was the name of Aristotle's school?
8) Did peripatetic philosophy entirely cease with the destruction of Athens in 267 A.D.?
9) Who are John Man and Robert MacFarlane?
10) Who started "This I Believe", and who brought it back?
11) What does TIB invite citizens to do?
12) What does Jay Allison say our time has in commonwith the 50's?
13) (T/F) For Socrates, a conversation that ended in everyone realizing how little they knew was a failure
14) (T/F) For Socrates, wisdom consists of knowing lots of facts
15) Plato's parable of the cave was intended to illustrate the distinction between appearance and reality, and to introduce his Theory of _______.
16) Was Plato's utopia democratic by modern standards?
17) What were Meletus's charge against Socrates?
18) Why did Socrates question everything?
19) Who said "You do not understand even life, how can you understand death?"
20) What does "Tao" mean?
21) Which "ism" says "soul is like a drop of water in a stream?
22) What is the first "noble truth" of Buddhism?
23) What leads to the end of suffering in Buddhism?
24) Nishida Kitaro insisted on the philosophical starting point of experience, a priority shared with American philosopher _____
25) Complete the statement, identify the source, and explain the meaning of "One swallow..."
26) What was Aristotle's word for happiness, success, or flourishing?
27) Did Aristotle think we could learn to live a good life? Did he think it virtuous for individuals to focus exclusively on the pursuit of their own self-interest?
28) In the Raphael painting School of Athens, what does Aristotle's body language imply about his philosophy (and Plato's)?
29) What did Aristotle think we could do to increase our chance of flourishing or succeeding as human beings?
30) What reliance, ironically invoked by some Aristotelian scholars after his death, is contrary to the spirit of philosophy?
31) (T/F) Extreme Sceptics like Pyrrho thought it best to avoid holding firm opinion son anything
32) The point of modern Skepticism (unlike Pyrrho's extreme version) is to get closer to what?
33) (T/F) Epicurus said it's reasonable to fear death
34) (T/F) "Epicurun" originally meant someone who indulges in luxury and sensual pleasure
35) What 20th century philosopher had a view of death similar to Epicurus?
36) Epicurus's attitude will be unlikely to work for you if you believe what?
37) Which Stoic started out as a slave, and inspired a future American fighter pilot?
38) Which Stoic, a lawyer, politician, and noted orator as well as philosopher, said experience, friendship, and conversation offset some of the problems associated with growing old?
39) Which Stoic said out problem is not how short life is, but how badly most of us use the time we do have (and then ironically had his own life shortened at Nero's command)?
40) Like the ancient skeptics, Stoics aim for what?
41) One benefit of living well is that you don't have to fear what ( besides death) when you're old?
42) One potential problem with Stoic indifference to events beyond our control is that we risk becoming what?
43) (T/F) Augustine was a chaste and pious youth, converting to Christianity while still a boy
44) Augustine's early "Manicheaean" solution to the problem of suffering was to claim what about God?
45) Augustine's later solutions were the Free Will Defense and what?
46) Like Maimonides and Avicenna, Augustine represents what tendency of medieval thinkers between the 5th and 15th century?
47) What's the difference between "natural" and "moral" evil?
48) Augustine thought that if God had programmed humans always to be good, we'd be like what?
49)Who consoles Boethius in his prison cell but also reprimands him for having forgotten her?
50) What paradox puzzles and perplexes Boethius?
51) Why does Philosophy say divine foreknowledge does not rob us of free will?
52) Why did Anselm conclude that God must exist?
53) Why did Aquinas think there couldn't be an infinite regress of causes?
54) Is "nothing" obviously the best answer to "what caused the cosmos?"
55) Machiavelli's key idea was that a politician ("prince") needs to have what quality?
56) Does Nigel think the adjective "machiavellian" correctly implies that the politicians it describes are simply evil or self-serving?
57) What did Machiavelli think a successful ruler needs to know about human nature?
58) Life in a state of nature would be ____, poor, nasty, brutish, and ____.
59) What was Hobbes metaphorical image of the civilized state he thought people were driven by fear to perforate a state of nature?
60) Hobbes was a _______, convinced that all aspects of existence including thinking are ______ activities