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?


  • 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"

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fall is here

Fall has finally come, which for most people means numerous cold jaunts through the chilling air, but for me I tend to desire a true walk. There’s something about walking through the chilling air that makes you start to think a little harder about your life and your thoughts. Yes, perhaps you move faster because the brisk air starts to get to you, but in all honesty the cold air makes me think more. It’s as if the weather is trying to tell me to slow down and enjoy the falling temperatures. When I’m outside I try to walk slowly so that I can take it all in, but in reality I as a college student must keep moving, working, and overcoming challenges daily. I recently had a few blunders happen. I’m a clumsy person generally but now that I am moving faster, walking faster, thinking faster I am especially clumsy. This idea of slowing down in order to think about and discuss philosophical things therefore got me to realize that I need to slow down or I’ll wear myself out in the next few weeks. Also, my phone has been uncooperative recently, which at first frustrated me, but then I realized how ignorant I was being to the things and people around me. I was moving too fast in life and not taking enough time to think. And every night as I was about to go to sleep I started to question myself, my purpose, my life and my future. I hadn’t thought to merely slow down and work through these things instead of blazing a trail to nowhere. And so, I would invite all of you to truly try and slow down this Fall with me. Taking time to focus on what’s best for you and for us all philosophically, theologically, etc.

I Am the Ghost of MTSU

Relating to both those who suffer tendencies of socially outcast students as well as those who partake in peripatetic philosophy, it often feels as though I am a ghost roaming this campus. Rather than to go outside, I become outside as Fredric Gros marked being the difference between a normal walk and a peripatetic walk. Rather than go outside, I am of outside. The best time to haunt the campus is in the middle of a weekday in which the vast majority of students are making their way towards or just now exiting their courses. If I am alone, which I most likely am, I remove myself from the crowd, and become a ghost who haunts this university. As I attempt to philosophize during my walk, the chatter and bustle is oh so subtly influenced by the students’ feeling of a slight chill or foreign presence as they brush by the ghost of MTSU, a student who is brashly reaching for a higher state of conscience, and even if that attempt descends my being to much lower than the students converging around me, I can still look up and see a variety of students from a plethora of ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds who don’t see why I’m trying cross that line. That line of philosophy. And as a result, they are haunted by the ghost of MTSU.


"When you look into infinity, you realize that there are more important things than what people do all day." Spinoza the lens-grinder agreed.


So as I tried to find something to write about or even a concept to ponder, I realized I had no ideas. None. Nada. Zip. Zero. This prompted me to take a short stroll outside and get some fresh air so I could contemplate how I was going to do this. Then it hit me nearly instantly. The energy in the air, the clear mindset while walking, the open pours of thought. Just by walking I came to this revelation and became a little ecstatic. Gros’s philosophy of walking really hit me that you can escape some kind of sense of routine and gather energy from the earth around us. Granted if you are walking around in a big city full of noisy people and you are in the center of some kind of negative energy then you really gotta re-evaluate where you want to walk.
            No matter the reason you walk: to go somewhere, to see someone, because you felt like it, or even to achieve some kind of cosmic balance; you know that it will be worth it in the end, but the actual action of walking can be taken for granted. Think about those who may not be able to enjoy the lovely strolls we can take either because they physically cant or some other reason.
(H2) Kyle Anteski

The Politician (H1)

Machiavelli's rules for leadership laid out in The Prince are not just rule that royalty can follow, they can be used by the modern day politician as well. Machiavelli's tactics of cunning and deceitfulness in order to obtain one's ultimate goal are in line with the way some politicians work; after all, the end justifies the means right?
But are Machiavelli's tactics the best ones to use? Should we admire a ruthless and determined politician over an honest one? Is just the obtaining of one's goal really what makes the best politician? Or is it someone who always keeps the people in mind and works, not underhandedly, but with others? There are already so many modern politicians it seems that use Machiavellian mean, maybe the best thing in today's age are politicians who don't, to help balance the field and make politics honest.
Let's look at our current top presidential candidates and the contender that didn't quite make it. Clinton has been in some form of political office nearly since before I was born, and Trump has been running large business (which could be similar to running a country today) for longer. What we've seen through this election is that Trump is not afraid to to do or say what's necessary to sway those in his party to vote for him, no matter how outlandish it may be. When he was younger he was quoted as saying that if he ever wanted to become president, he'd run republican because it would be so much easier to get their vote. Trump really does embody the ends justify the means argument. Meanwhile, Clinton has made work of numerous connections and has not been afraid to flash her political pedigree and the knowledge and secrets that she's gained from working in office for so long.
So now let's look at Bernie Sanders. Arguably, the most honest candidate and the only one who didn't use underhanded means. While he may have lost the nomination he came scarily close to getting it, because the people loved him and how he was this new kind of politician that wasn't going to maneuver and manipulate, but rather one that was just going to do his best. And while he may not be elected president this term, who's to say that in the future a candidate more like him won't be?

Original Sin

(H3) Original sin is the Christian doctrine of humanity's state of sin resulting from Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden. Basically, it says everyone is born with sin, evil inside them that they have done nothing to warrant. I have a very strong opinion against this doctrine. I have no doubt in my mind when I look in a newborn baby's eyes I see good, not evil. I think it is an absurd excuse to believe we are born with sin. People use this explanation to justify their own sins, if we are born with sin then that must be why I did what I did. I think we are born a blank slate, shaped by our actions and beliefs. Now, I do believe we are all born with the potential for sin, just as we are born with the potential for good. It is our choices that define who we are not some predestination doctrine. Each day each person makes choices that reflect who they are and for what they stand. Each heinous act committed by an individual could have been avoided if they had chosen differently: it has nothing to do being born bad. Some might make the argument of nature vs. nurture, but in the end it comes down to that person’s decision. I do not believe on any level that we are born with sin in our hearts, however, it is very easy to make a wrong choice, to commit sin. In the end, it is all about who you want to see, who you would be proud to see, when you look in the mirror and how to achieve that goal.