Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, March 30, 2017

John Locke

Olivia King

John Locke was born in 1632 in Wrighton, Somerset. He was one of the most famous philosophers of the 17th century. Locke has been called the “intellectual father of our country” by the John Locke Foundation. He attended Christ Church, one of Oxford’s most prestigious schools, where he was educated in philosophy and medicine.  After graduating, he returned to get a Master of Arts and eventually took on tutorial work at the school. Locke had many important theories, some of them regarding the separation of church and state, religious freedom, and liberty. One of his main beliefs was in Natural Law, which mean that man had natural rights; they weren’t given to him by a ruler. Man got these rights just for being human. He went on to write many famous pieces of literature, one of them called “Two Treatises of Government.” In this literature, he talked about his ideas on natural rights and the social contracts. These writings turned England upside down and were helped give rise to the American and French revolutions. Once these revolutions happened, people started to turn on Locke. He was eventually exiled to Holland, and wrote “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” It ended up being four books long and examined the human knowledge and how it worked. He eventually returned to England, and his writings made a lasting impact. John Locke was an extremely successful and influential philosopher, his works are still highly revered and respected today. Because of all this, John Locke is one of the most important philosophers of all time.
Baruch Spinoza, born in Amsterdam and raised Jewish, is said to be the first philosopher who was really atheist, even though he would beg to disagree. He said he practiced more Pantheism which is the belief that God is everywhere and everything. Part of the reason people say he was atheist because he was excommunicated from the Jewish community and cursed by the rabbis when he was 24 years old. He was most likely excommunicated because he questioned the tenants and he vocalized his his doubts about the religion. He then moved from Amsterdam to The Hague and made his small income as a lens grinder for scientific instruments like microscopes and telescopes. Spinoza used geometrical reasoning to come to logical conclusions about God, freedom, nature, and emotion. As quoted in Little History, “he wrote philosophy as if it were geometry. The ‘proofs’ in his book Ethics look like geometrical proofs and include axioms and definitions.” It was only after his early death at the age of 44, caused by constantly inhaling glass fragments, that his most popular book, Ethics, was published. As previously stated, Spinoza reasoned that God is infinite which means that there cannot be anything that is not God. So all people are a part of God as well as fish and non living things like all door knobs and cardboard boxes. When he thought of God, he didn’t think of the kind man who loves humanity and answers personal prayers, he thought of God as an “it” who did not care for anyone or anything and was very impersonal. Another quote from Little History is “the God he describes is so completely indifferent to human beings and what they do that many thought Spinoza didn’t believe in God at all and that his pantheism was a cover. They took him to be an atheist and against religion altogether.” It was hard for me to wrap my mind around why people would think that Spinoza was an atheist if he thought that everything was composed of God. He said he had a love for God based on deep understanding achieved by reason, so how can you have love for something that you do not believe in?
-Lillia Hendrickson-10

John Locke & Politics

John Locke (1632-1704) was an English philosopher, who is one of the most influential political philosophers of the modern day and is often called the “Father of Liberalism”.  His works would later influence Voltaire, Jean-Jacque Rousseau, and many others in the Revolutionary War.  In fact, Locke’s writings on his liberal theories can be detected in the lines of the Declaration of Independence!  In his work Two Treatises of Government, Locke argued that all men are free and equal under the laws of nature, and that people have rights to life, property, liberty, and other things as such.  He believed that governments are a result of social contact between citizens, and that because it exists by the consent of the population, people transfer some rights to the government so that it can better protect their lives and promote the goodness of the public.  Should the government fail to do so, the people will resist it and replace it with a different form of government.  Lock was also a firm believer in the principle of majority rule, that any law or elected official should be chosen based on the decision of the majority of the population.  He also believed that the legislative and executive powers should be kept separate from one another, never to intervene or coerce the actions and decisions of one another.  Another point he argues is that the church should not have any power whatsoever over members of the government, that the church and the state should be separate.  Whatever you may think about his political philosophies, John Locke is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential philosophers of the modern era.

John Locke - Clayton Thomas (10)

     Think back, to the time you were a baby. Now compare that to who you are now.Very different people correct? Well John Locke seems to believe otherwise. John Locke (1632-1704) believed that we remain the same human over time remaining the same 'human animal' as we were compared to childhood. According to Locke, "I could be the same 'man, but not the same person I was previously." He claimed that what makes us the same person over time is our consciousness, our awareness of our own selves.
    Locke's ideas seem to be on the right track to understanding ourselves and how we define who we really are, but the logic doesn't seem to be quite there. Using Locke's logic, your personal identity only extends back as far as your memory; therefore, unless you can remember being a baby you are now a different person, which seems to be a bit absurd. We remain in the same body our whole lives, so the continuity of life in the same body should show enough that we are the same person. Just because we cannot remember being a baby doesn't take away the fact that we were one babies with thoughts and emotions which we began building our knowledge of life.
    Thomas Reid was one such philosopher whom tried to disprove Locke's logic by using the example of a soldier. It follows that, an old soldier can remember his bravery in battle as a young soldier, as a young soldier he could remember being hit as a boy for theft of apples from an orchard, yet in his old age he could not remember being struck as a child. So by Locke's logic, the old man and the young boy are different people,     Think back, to the time you were a baby. Now compare that to who you are now.Very different people correct? Well John Locke seems to believe otherwise. John Locke (1632-1704) believed that we remain the same human over time remaining the same 'human animal' as we were compared to childhood. According to Locke, "I could be the same 'man, but not the same person I was previously." He claimed that what makes us the same person over time is our consciousness, our awareness of our own selves.
    Locke's ideas seem to be on the right track to understanding ourselves and how we define who we really are, but the logic doesn't seem to be quite there. Using Locke's logic, your personal identity only extends back as far as your memory; therefore, unless you can remember being a baby you are now a different person, which seems to be a bit absurd. We remain in the same body our whole lives, so the continuity of life in the same body should show enough that we are the same person. Just because we cannot remember being a baby doesn't take away the fact that we were one babies with thoughts and emotions which we began building our knowledge of life, but the the old man and the young soldier are the same person and the young soldier and the child are the same person. Which is like saying A=B and B=C, but A doesn't equal C. So this contradicting statement by Reid has disproved Locke's logic.

Thursday, March 30th: Thoughts about Spinoza's God

According to Nigel Warburton's "A Little History of Philosophy," Baruch Spinoza (1632- 1677) had an interesting view point when it came to the belief in a god. Spinoza believed that God existed in everything and that "God" and "Nature" were the same thing. He also believed that God does not take interest in the world around him. Rather, God is only concerned with himself. Arguably, and though Aristotle's god is outside of the world and not synonymous with the world, Aristotle's "unmoved mover" seems to be similar in construction to Spinoza's god. The "unmoved mover" causes the universe to work and pushes the world to its will; in my opinion, I do not find Aristotle's god much different than Spinoza's. Without the push of Aristotle's "unmoved mover," the world and nature would cease to exist. Because Spinoza's God is everything including nature, one cannot exist as itself.  Aristotle himself is considered the first naturalist, and his idea of God came over a millennium before Spinoza's idea of God. Because of those things, I would argue that Spinoza took Aristotle's idea of God and heightened that ideal to meet his own needs. Spinoza himself enjoyed nature and wanted to understand the world around him. What easier way to do that than to make the world around Spinoza God? This is especially since Spinoza was the same man to take math further than his predecessors by combining philosophy with geometry. Spinoza seemed to enjoy combining his interests. His view of God did not seem any different. 


A very common perspective of the Hebrew god is that this god possesses almost human like characteristics. These popular attributes is that the Judeo-Christian god is a male, was able to impregnate a female, has cognitive functioning much like humans but has a very high position of authority since he is the "creator" and therefore is able to gain the respect of thousands of people.
A famous philosopher who disagreed with this way of thinking of the widely worshiped God was Baruch Spinoza. He considered the one true God to be everything, or nature itself, also known as pantheism. His idea was rejected by many, not only by what he described to be god, but that his idea of God was very impersonal to humans and did not care about the lives of humans. Which makes sense because how can something inanimate care about the lives of humans? Many people considered Spinoza to be an atheist and that he was just covering for his nonbelief. Spinoza on the other hand, did in fact respect and admired the god that he believed in.
Another concept that grabbed Spinoza’s interest was the idea of freewill. Spinoza believed in something called determinism, meaning that he believed that every human action was the result of earlier causes. He did not really consider humans to be free though, more that we believe that we are free with the choices that we make, but in reality we don’t understand the ways in which we make them and they are therefore not fully under our control.
Spinoza was known to question many controversial ideas and many times had the more unpopular and different idea at the time. This though is one of the reasons his philosophy is still remembered and talked about.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real

 Quiz Question:

  1.       Based on the Author, Cypher is making a big mistake by doing what?
  2.      What are the three main categories of the real?
  3.    What is the word used to describe the Buddhist idea of a dependent origination?
  4.    The mind stops when it does what?

       Discussion Questions:

     ·         John Stuart Mill wrote, “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied” (Mill, p. 10). Do you agree with him? Why?
     ·         How would you handle it if someone came and told you that everything you believed since now is a lie and that he/she is there to open your eyes to the truth?
     ·         How would you know something is “real”?

"Aristotle" R.I.P.

Spotted on the grounds of Cheekwood, Nashville, in the Cheek family pet cemetery:

Sunday, March 26, 2017

John McLean, Leith El-Mohammed "The Ultimate Game Of Thrones"


Q: Why is Tyrion judged more harshly than others?
A: He is a dewarf. (page 39)

Q: What does Tyrion tell Lord Vary concering the future?
A: "The Future is shit, just like the past" (page 42)

Q:In Book III of Nicomachean Ethics, what two types of of actions does Aristotle talk about?
A: Voluntary and Involuntary (page 47)

Q:Why was the mad king considered a tyrant?
A: "His love of Violence" (page 50)

Discussion Questions

Sarte claims there is no "true self." Do you agree with Sarte? How would you define "True Self." Page 38

Is a justified evil still evil?
Page 49

Like Tyrion have you ever been judged for something you have no control over?
page 39.

How much does the past affect ones future?
Page 43

The early life of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza


Baruch Spinoza was born in the year 1632 and died in the year 1677. Baruch Spinoza thought something that was considered quite unusual to most people who were alive at the time. He thought that God is the world. This was considered strange to most people because most religions were taught that God lived outside the world in places like heaven. Baruch Spinoza wrote about “God or Nature” to make the unusual point that both God and Nature are synonymous and mean the exact same thing. This idea was very crazy and considered by most to be quite radical, which got Baruch Spinoza into a lot of trouble. Baruch Spinoza was born in Amsterdam. He was brought up in a Jewish heritage but was later cursed by the rabbis in 1656 when he was 24 years old. Why did this happen to him? This happened to him because of his views on God which the rabbis probably considered to be sacrilegious. He later changed his name to Benedict de Spinoza and left Amsterdam. Baruch Spinoza took a liking to geometry and wrote his philosophy as if it were actually geometry. He even included proofs for his philosophy in the book he wrote, entitled ethics. He thought that he subject that he wrote about in philosophy like God and Nature, could be proven just like geometric ideas like shapes. He also like to be on his own because it gave him peace and time to work on his studies. 

Knowledge-Nagel Chapter 2 summary

After reading through chapter two of Nagel’s book Knowledge, I cannot help but question why some skeptics refuse to believe we can ever really know anything at all. Does this not halt our journey in seeking out answers? Does this not stop the abstract thought of what ‘if’s’? If I can never really know anything, then why pursue answers to questions? Why learn? Why feed my curiosity. To me it sounds like a way to put a stop to creative thinking.
For these reasons, I am a fan of Bertrand Russell’s ‘Inferences to the Best Explanation’ theory, specifically “(T)he principle of simplicity; other things being equal, a simpler explanation is rationally preferred to a more complex one.” (p.21). This allows room for further exploration yet acknowledges the possibilities of yes, there being an option for the answer to be something other then the simplest one. Yet by doing this you are openly admitting the simplest answer may not be the right one which is a problem, “Even if we grab that Inference to the Best Explanation is generally a rational strategy, we might feel that it seems insufficiently conclusive to ground knowledge as opposed to just rational belief.”(p.21). This is important when it comes to situation like a courtroom. Just because the answer may seem rational, that does not prove that is what actually took place. So how do we make a conclusion? How do we know when to go with the simplest answer and when to dig deeper and compare different possible solutions more closely? Does it depend on the consequence of the outcome? For example, Nagel uses an scenario in her book of a detective who finds evidence that points to a suspect (the butler). But what if the maid framed the butler? The simplest answer would be to say the butler is guilty, all the evidence shows that. but that could also mean putting an innocent man in prison. However, let us say I see a bowl with what looks like vanilla ice cream inside. It feels cold like ice cream and is white in color, but when I taste it? Lemon flavored, but nothing really happens. The only consequence is a slightly sour taste in my mouth. So how do we determine how skeptical we need to be and when?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Kane Wolnik

Dr. Phil

CoPhilosophy (#10)

24 Mar, 2017

Baruch Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza was born in Amsterdam and raised by Portuguese parents of the Jewish faith. He was well educated in many subjects related to scripture and mathematics, particularly geometry.  Spinoza in his later years began to slowly move away from the traditional beliefs set by his parents and created a different version of what was taught about God. This form of Spinoza’s religious belief became known as Pantheism or the belief that God exists everywhere. This differed from his early teachings that God inhabits a place high in the heavens but outside the clutches of time, matter, and space. Unfortunately for Spinoza, the Jewish community in Amsterdam had eventually ostracize, condemned, and cursed him for this absurd belief. After the acknowledgement of this by Baruch from his community, Spinoza fled the city and fixed himself in The Hague (city in the Netherlands), Where he became a ‘Lens Grinder’ and private tutor. Baruch Spinoza’s odd belief sought to emphasize that God was within every aspect of nature, thus God and nature are one in the same. During his life, he wrote a book called ‘Ethics’. Inscribed was his thoughts on God, emotions, freedom, and nature detailing how they all intertwined into logical reasoning of the world and place that surrounded him. This was often looked at as being Rationalism or the belief that opinions and actions should be based on an individual’s thought through reason and knowledge on a subject rather than that of religious beliefs or emotional response.

With Spinoza’s theory in which God is Nature and they are one in the same brings up some philosophical food for thought analysis of this. If suppose God is Nature being one in the same, and that our notion that Nature is of female orientation: Wouldn’t that mean that God would be a woman and not a man? I wonder why the community of the Christian Faith has kept this idealized view that God is a man and not a woman? Seeing how a woman is the only gender in which can produce any offspring or is it to keep with the idea that a man is more of a supposed authoritative dominant figure than that of a woman because of apparent physical factors?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Knowledge: Nagel- Chapter 1 Summary

In chapter one of Jennifer Nagel’s book Knowledge, she immediately challenges the reader to think about the difference between knowledge and fact. I had never really given much thought to the difference between the two. Nagel uses the following example to eloquently explain the separation between them, “Imagine shaking a sealed cardboard box containing a single coin. As you put the box down, the coin inside the box had landed wither heads or tails: let’s say that’s a fact. But as long as no one looks into the box, this fact remains unknown; it is not yet within the realm of knowledge. Nor do facts become knowledge simply by being written down. If you write the sentence, ‘The coin has landed on heads’ on one slip of paper and ‘The coin has landed on tails’ on another, then you will have written down a fact on one of the slips, but you still won’t have gained knowledge of the outcome of the coin toss” (p.3). The entire endeavor resides on there being a living thing to be able to access this fact and store it as knowledge. So there can be many things out there that are facts, but without something or someone able to decipher and recognize the fact, it remains just that. There is nothing to spread and share the fact that a fact exists. Whew!
Another point Nagel wants the reader to take into consideration is that knowledge can be possessed by a group. For example, an orchestra knows how to play Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony even if each section only knows how and when to play their particular instrument. Perfect example of why collaboration is so important to further our knowledge as a species. A collective group of fact carrying beings can share, compare and evolve their own level of knowledge thus furthering the groups knowledge and so on.
I’ll jump ahead a bit here because there is a topic that I was drawn to later in the chapter. Knowing v. thinking. Knowing insinuates truth behind it. Thinking show there is room for doubt. Nagel uses the following example on page 7-8, ‘Jill knows that her door is locked.’ v. ‘Bill thinks that his door is locked.’ There is an immediate distinction between the two. Jill’s situation implies fact, where as Bill’s leaves room for the possibility that his door is NOT locked. To identify this relationship between knowledge and fact is called factivity- we can only know facts or true propositions. Now, one can argue there are false or imitations out there, i.e. do they really know or just seem to know?
     This leads us to the Ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras that held, “Knowledge is always of the true, but also that different things could be true for different people“ (p. 10). He goes on to say, “It is true for me that the wind really is cold and true for you that the wind is warm.” So my questions is, do our own perceptions dictate our reality in what we think we know?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Memory, A History. By: Dmitri Nikulin

Leah Magdal, Ethan Jakes

Quiz Questions:
1.What did Gabriel Garcia Marquez put in the epigraph to his memoir?(pg9)
2. What does Dmitri Nikulin say about a painful memory?(pg20-21)
3.How do we tend to remember ourselves as?(pg24)
4. How does our memory tend to store our past?(pg27)
5.What was a common practice in 356 BCE?(pg30)

Discussion Questions:
1.If you had the ability to erase painful memories would you do it?
2.Since our memories change and are usually altered by our imagination, how sure can we about the accuracy of our memories?

#9 Batman, Superman, and Philosophy

Chapter 3 Quiz Questions:
1. Why is evolution and natural selection exclusive things?
2. Who did Ben Springett say would be a more effective superhero?
Chapter 3 Discussion Questions:
1. Why do individuals practice altruistic behavior?

Chapter 7 Quiz Questions:
1. Which philosopher made outright disturbing claims about the types of values Clark Kent personifies?
2. How did the original "bad" men cause a moral reversal where the "good" became "bad"?
3. What character laments this shift in moral views?
Chapter 7 Discussion Questions:
1. Does Batman wish to save others from harm as a purely altruistic goal, or does he wish to thwart and punish those who have not harmed him directly, but remind him of the individual who killed his parents?

Chapter 17 Quiz Questions:
1. What did King Oedipus put on that made him seem like a hero?
2. What is the special property of Batman's mask?
3. Batman's effectiveness relies on what as intimidation?
Chapter 17 Discussion Questions:
1. Why are we naturally disposed toward intimidation?