Lars Phillips's Proseminar Research

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Paper based on Organized Browsing Exercise

Environmental Ethics
Ivanhoe, P. (2010). Of Geese and Eggs: In What Sense Should We Value Nature As a System?.Environmental Ethics: An Interdisciplinary Journal Dedicated to the Philosophical Aspects of Environmental Problems, 32(1), 67-78. Retrieved from Philosopher's Index database.
Olkowski, D. (2010). Science and Human Nature: How to Go from Nature to Ethics. Metacide: In the Pursuit of Excellence Atlanta: Editions Rodopi. Retrieved from Philosopher's Index database.
Mills, S. (2008). Going Back to Nature When Nature's All But Gone. Environmental Philosophy, 5(1), 1-8. Retrieved from Philosopher's Index database.
Harvey, S. (2009). Environmental Problem-Solving and Heidegger's Phenomenology: Addressing Our Technical Relation to Nature. Environmental Philosophy, 6(2), 59-71. Retrieved from Philosopher's Index database.

Topic for Critical Analysis Paper

I chose the idea of error as the topic for my critical analysis paper... below is a brief overview of some of what I have written on it.

It seems that the majority of philosophical thinkers that I have come into contact with have treated, as their main goal, the search for an understanding of the ‘what is’ in some form or another. This seems to lead, inherently, to a search for what is ‘best’. Which in most cases seems to lead to various unending cycles of philosophical method, which is all well and good. It is my intention to try to address a different sort of philosophical idea.
In contrast to trying to understand what is ‘best’, I want to focus on the idea of error, more specifically the necessity of error.
Good and Evil are philosophical distinctions that are impossible to define. The word error has a negative connotation in our culture, and so at first thought many people shy away from it for the same reason that they shy away from good and evil. Upon further investigation however, error seems to possess drastically different qualities than good, evil or any other measure of human actions or ideas. It is easier to start a description of error with a brief illustration.
A snowshoe hare is foraging for food in a meadow when a mountain lion discovers it. The hare, due to its physical quickness, avoids the initial attempt of the mountain lion to catch it. However, the hare misjudges the height of a large tree stump, and crashes into the top, halting its flight and resulting in a victory for the mountain lion.
That is a straightforward example of error. From this example, we can learn a few things about error. First, the error itself, the misjudgment of the height of the stump, has both a positive outcome (the lion gets nourishment) and a negative outcome (the hare dies). From this, we can determine that error itself is neither positive nor negative. Every instance of error must necessarily possess both sides of the spectrum, and because the essence of one idea cannot be both positive and negative at once, it must transcend this measurement.

As we are limited in our ideas of error, so are we limited in our ability to cause error.
The universe is infinitely larger then the scope of perception possible to the human mind
We have a perception of error
Our perception of the scope of error is as limited as our perception of the scope of the universe
As we are limited in our ideas of error, so are we limited in our ability to cause error.
Realms in which Error can exist.
Error in a system or technical machine
Human error in daily living
Error in nature

Intellectual Biography

I am in the process of interviewing faculty members for this assignment.... So far I have interviewed Dr. Liu

Here are some of the notes I took from the interview:

For Dr Liu, the critical examination aspect of philosophy gave understanding to many aspects of his life. Born in China, he attended the prestigious Peking University and studied under the philosophy department. In other words, he was educated by the best China had to offer. By studying philosophy in two distinct cultures, he has an interesting perspective on the philosophical outlook of both America and China. He finds similarities in that the cultures stand against similar ideas. Perhaps even more interesting is his outlook on religion and philosophy. His experience has showed him that religion and philosophy are parallel entities in America, rarely intermixing. While in China, religion and philosophy are deeply intermixed. This is one of the reasons why Americans have a difficult time understanding Chinese culture, and vice versa.
He chose philosophy as an area of study because of the nature of understanding that seemed to surround it. The aim of philosophy, he believes, should be at truth, (moral) good, and beauty.
His major influences are Chuang Tzu and Kant. He first read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (in German no less) and was fascinated by the idea of truth.
Liu is also a mathematician. The benefits he finds from his knowledge and mastery of math fall into the category of method. Math is an abstract way of thinking, using purely deductive reasoning, which also melds very well with the ideas of Chuang Tzu and Kant.
As far as innate ideas, Liu describes the brain as an operating system, an entity with an innate structure, the programs we upload, are the ideas that we learn. His early thoughts of ideas and the innate structure of the mind placed courage on a higher pedestal then intelligence, he has since come to the opposite idea that intelligence is in fact more valuable then courage. He believes that innate ideas are changing constantly, and that education (how we upload the programs to the OS of the mind) is changing even faster.
Liu believes the goal of teaching is to generate interest. It is the role of the guardians to make the distinction between pleasure and virtue. He has found that it is not unrealistic to make connections for most students and generate interests in Philosophy.
On the distinction between philosophy as a way of life and philosophy as an academic pursuit, Liu made the distinction that true human life uses reason, and ancient philosophers pursue truth through contemplation. Then Kant happens. Philosophy becomes a career, an academic pursuit, society is more wealthy at this point, and can afford to have simply contemplative people. The academic field is aimed at advancing philosophy; unfortunately, there is a tendency to be far away from philosophy that can connect with real life. Things like publishing for the sake of publishing have a detrimental effect on the profession as a whole. Life, however, is much more complicated now then it was in ancient times, therefore philosophy should aim to make a contribution to human life, which he believes is possible.