Spring 2009 201 Study Question Collaboration

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Go to Spring 2009 201 Study Question Collaboration -- Part Two

We'll use class dates and topics to organize this page. Please sign your answer with your name so that people can keep an eye on the roster to determine their turn. You must post your answer (circulated to your two "editors" if possible) by the next class meeting. Please try to do this so we can review answers in class.

1/15/2009

1. What are some of the distinguishing traits and methods of philosophical thought?

Philosophy has a tendency to lead to a plurality of different answers. For most complex questions there are different answers that appear. Progress in philosophy is a slow process; those of us who like immediate results and absolute certainty tend to be annoyed by philosophical reflection.Philosophy also introduces us to multiple ways of seeing the world, thus enriching our perspective but at the same time exposing us to risks. Philosophy is often accused of being subversive.It corrupts what we think. Philosophy has a way of making us rethink what we believe. It makes us question our morals and values. Studying philosophy can lead us to new knowledge and to a new outlook on life. There are 5 different fields of study-
1.metaphysics-the study of ultimate reality
2.epistemology- the study of knowledge
3.ethics- what values should govern our lives
4.aesthetics- questions about art and beauty
5.logic- studies the nature of arguments
Hannah Alcamo

2. How do philosophy, myth, and religion relate to each other? Identify both differences and areas of overlap.

Visually represented in a triangle, Logos, Theos, and Mythos refer to the relationships between philosophy, religion, and myths, respectively. Logos concludes that philosophy plus sciences produces a rational account. In other words, it produces an argumentative explanation or logical organization of thoughts, which support the conclusion. In Logos, one does not have to believe in a truth past what the evidence shows.
Theos, the study of religion, is revealed both personally and communally. Theos explains that our cognitive functions respond to images of a divine presence. Similar to Logos, Theos depends on the function of truth, but differentiates in that Theos must be a commitment to the belief of truth, even when no evidence may exist.
Mythos depends upon myths and stories. However, unlike Logos and Theos, in Mythos the power of the story doesn’t depend necessarily on believing the story actually happened, but rather the story is powerful, regardless of factual truth. Philosophers don’t always stick to Logos, but find truth and explanation in stories as well.
Laura Anderson

3. What is the difference between philosophy and science?

The main difference between philosophy and science is that science has a concrete answer to its questions whereas the answers in philosophy are not so finite. In the sciences, there is a specific set of rules and formulas to follow that will eventually lead you to an answer. That answer is either right or wrong depending on if you made any mistakes in the process. However, philosophy is more about exploring the possibilities of the process and even making those mistakes along the way rather than just answering the question correctly. The sciences are limited to a certain answer by the laws of the universe and a societies’ technology. But in philosophy you are in a limitless universe, there is no one answer, it is never ending. As long as there are people who tackle a subject with an open mind and really delve deeper than what appears on the surface, philosophy will continue to help us see things differently.
Jason Beecroft

1/20/2009

1. What lessons about doing philosophy can we infer from Socrates trial and fate? What should philosophers consider as they advance their theories in a social community?

As philosophers we must keep in mind that often times people's inner most values-- their core values, what they base their lives on-- are being challenged. It's important to remain tactful and aware of the proper format and context for a philosophical conversation. Unfortunately for Socrates, it seems as though his conversations with the politicians, poets, and other knowledgable people were quite careless toward the core beliefs that these people held. He challenged their knowledge about the world and ignored the sensibility to maintain a reasonable balance between philosophical conversation and the conservation of his dialectic partner's belief system.
Philosophers ought to realize the sensitivity of the public toward their core values. They ought to be tactful and considerate of the motivations people have for maintaining their beliefs. For when those beliefs are challenged, philosophers will face a defensive crowd-- much like the crowd of 500 against Socrates. Be mindful of the context, and understand how to "choose your battles"-- so to speak.

Nicole Bernabe

2. How do Plato and Aristotle differ on the real and form?

Plato believed that what was most real was not the physical entity but instead the thought behind it. The idea of a chair was more real because the idea persists, while the physical chair will eventually disappear and decay. For Plato, the only way in which to discover the truth of reality is through thoughts. Aristotle on the other hand said that what is most real are the things which we can sense, the physical things. According to Aristotle, we can only know that things are real by observing them through our senses: sight, smell, touch, ect. Because of this the only way in which we discover reality is through our physical experiences with the world. We must experience something, like a chair, to know what is really is. This is really the opposite view that Plato takes. As far as the idea of forms goes, Aristotle and Plato agreed on most of it. Plato suggested that all things have a universal form which defines that item. For example, there is the apple which we see and can define its form. There is also a universal form for apples and we can see that the apple in front of us is a particular apple. This idea of forms also applies to things which have no physical existence, according to Plato. Things such as "good" and "bad" still have universal forms even though no physical form exists. This is where Aristotle disagreed with Plato. Aristotle said that all things which have universal forms must also have a physical form, whether that be now, in the past, or in the future. In this way Aristotle did not believe that universal forms existed for things such as "good" and "bad".

{Check out [1]. Main contrast in location of "form". -Alfino}

Andrew Cataldo

1/22/2009

1. In light of Greek history and the relationship between Greek culture and philosophical culture, how do you explain Socrates fate?

Socrates ultimate fate was to be put to death. This ultimate fate of Socrates was due to many things. First of all Socrates was on the wrong side in the political world. He was an aristocrat and was for aristocracy being the form of government. When at the time the government was a democracy. This did not make him popular, however Socrates didn’t need much help in making himself unpopular. Socrates was very annoying. His life work was going around trying to find someone wiser than himself. And when he proved to people that they were in fact not wise this made the people angry and annoyed with him. Also during this time there were many that perceived Socrates did not believe in the gods, or that he did not respect them. Finally the last thing that lead to Socrates trail and conviction was that he was believed to be a sophist, meaning he did not hold the right values. It was all of these reasons that lead to Socrates trial and ultimate fate of death.

John Creger

2. How does Plato's philosophy fit into a "history of theory"?

In class we discussed Plato’s philosophy as existing through two world metaphysics or views. Plato’s views can be justified through seeing things by a first person or third person perspective. Plato's "metaphysics" is also understood as Socrates' division of reality into the warring and irreconcilable domains of the material and the spiritual. The theory has created an immense influence on the history of Western philosophy and religion. We also established that the “history of theory” or “theorize”, is an abstract idea from particulars; it derives from a system of concepts that explains ideas. Plato’s concept of philosophy fits into the “history of theory”, because it has not become an established fact; instead his ideas are broadly accepted.

Here is a link to the wiki on Plato's Metaphysics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato#Metaphysics

Lindsey Friessnig


3. Consider and assess the criticism that Plato's philosophy is too radically "anti-body"?

Plato's Divided Line philosophy outlines a world in which the mind and the body are two completely separate entities, but unable to exist without one another. the body is described as a "tomb," referring to all the restrictions our body burdens upon our mind such as hunger, sexual desire, and sleep. Without our bodies, Plato says, our minds would be able to wander freely, connecting with the world of the forms easily.
The main contrasting arguments to Plato's view come from Aristotle and Heraclitus. Heraclitus' view, being on the opposite end of the spectrum from Plato's, states that everything is in a constant state of change and decay. There is no consistent world of forms for him. Aristotle's philosophy seems to meet between Plato's and Heraclitus', and says that everything is composed of form and matter. This seems to make the most sense, especially since we discussed in class how without any sensory experiences (body), there would be no way of being able to tap into our minds and study the world of the forms, or the outside world.
The idea that the mind is ideal, and that the body is a tomb, is too extreme. Without our bodies, there would be no mind.

William Griffith

4. In what ways are Socrates and Kant both "heroes of knowledge"?

Socrates and Kant can both be considered "heroes of knowledge" because they're both regarded as some of the most influential thinkers in European history. They both asked questions about the ultimate nature of reality. What makes a horse a "horse"? How do we really know what things are? Through Plato we know that Socrates made important and lasting contributions to epistemology and logic. Kant suggested that metaphysics could be reformed through epistemology. Both Socrates and Kant asked questions about the ultimate nature of reality, and of knowledge itself.

Nicolas Gutierrez

5. How does Russell characterize philosophy, it's relationship to other fields of knowledge, the kinds of questions it can address, and it's connection with freedom? What is the value of philosophy, in his view?

Russell characterizes philosophy as the knowledge that is gained through critical examination of all of our beliefs, prejudices, and convictions. Through philosophy, we are able to critically examine even the most minute, everyday things in our lives. However, philosophy has no definite answers to anything in its field. Many sciences that know have answers to questions that are going to be forever true, branched from philosophy. Because they now have answers, there is not philosophical value to them because no further contemplation is needed to prove anything. An example would be psychology. Once definite answers were found in this field, it was no longer philosophic. It is now a science. Only questions without definite answers can be placed in the category of philosophy.
Questions that are brought up in philosophy such as the question “What is real?” are not demonstrably true. There are many different approaches to what the answer may be but none are widely enough agreed upon to be accepted as the definite answer. Philosophers continue the consideration of all philosophical questions to find the answer. In doing so, every approach possible must be taken and in doing so, the speculative nature of our lives will be eternally vivid. Therefore, we wont get sucked into the realm where everything is definite and there is no discussion on any subject.
Having the power to critically evaluate anything gives us freedom to have our own set of morals and thoughts that we have taken into consideration instead of just conforming to the norm. There is still uncertainty in our lives and that is ultimately the value of philosophy.

Michael Higgins

1/27/2009

1. Summarize the first three speeches of the Symposium.

The first three speeches of the Symposium expressed different views on Love. During the first speech, Phaedrus explains that Love is a great God, who motivates noble actions by the Lover. He describes a dying a noble death which makes the Lover virtuous and courageous. He explains that Love motivates us to be divine in ways of not looking bad to our Lovers.

In the second speech, Pausanias describes two different types of Love; Heavenly Love and Common Love. To Pausanias, Heavenly Love is an intellectual love, and only for men. Heavenly Love is for men who have grown minds of their own and do not have a goal which “aims to deceive” their Lover. As for Common Love, Pausanias describes it as purely sexual, vulgar and without feeling. “Love felt by the vulgar, who are attached to women no less than to boys, to the body more than the soul, and to the least intelligent partners, since all they care about is completing the sexual act”. Pausanias also seems to portray a sense of “honorable ephebephilia” when he describes the difference between the intellectual love of the older boys and the crude love of the “lewd youth”.

Lastly is Eryximachus’ speech. In this speech, Eryximachus stated that Love is a general force of order and harmony. He explained that Love can be found throughout many different things such as music, medicine, the elements and the art of divination. Eryximachus believed that “medicine is simply the science of the effects of Love on repletion and depletion of the body” and therefore “guided everywhere by the God of Love”.

Kerry Hillier


2. Why would someone argue that love is a broad force, as Eryximachus thinks, as opposed to a narrower force describing the bond between intimate partners?

While love is undoubtedly a "force describing the bond between intimate partners," one can apply love to many other types of things. Eryximachus argued this in his speech, agreeing with the Pausanias' speech, which described love as having a moral duality. There is a good love and a bad love and it is present in everything. Eryximachus, being a physician, uses the effects of love on the body to describe when one is healthy or when one is sick.

This idea of love being a broad force has found its way into modern discourse. We use love to describe a desire, appreciation, or passion for things that are far from an intimate partner. One could argue that "I love basketball" is a perfectly good use of the word because of the effect that basketball has on the person. Eryximachus often equates the good love with the concept of harmony. When one truly loves basketball (or whatever the activity, person or object may be) it allows the lover to feel in harmony with the world. With this definition of love, one can really argue that the concept of love can be applied to anything.

-Eric Hofmann

3. Is love morally "dual," admitting of both noble and ignoble forms? How is love related to the good?

When approaching the dual nature of love, you must first look at the claim made by Pausanias. He claims that the god Love has two lovers, The Heavenly Aphrodite and common Aphrodite. The true and moral love is that of Heavenly Aphrodite. The lustful side of love comes from the relationship with common Aphrodite. Greek homosexuality aside, this is the basis for the dual nature of love. When relating it to the good, we see that Heavenly Aphrodite’s love is good in that is harnesses the honor of men that comes from the deep seeded feelings found in conjunction with this love. However, in my opinion there is no duality in love. To say love has any “bad” aspect is false. There exists a line between love and lust. Although they are often confused, each has its own very specific place.

-Andrew Krug

4. Distinguish propositional knowledge, know how, and knowledge by acquaintance.

Propositional knowledge is the sense of knowing that something is the case from your own inferences rather than know how or knowing how something is done. We have knowledge by acquaintance when we are directly aware of a thing, without any inference. We are immediately acquainted with our sense-data. Knowledge by acquaintance is logically independent of any knowledge of truths.

-Austin Larson

5. Why does it seem that knowledge involves belief, truth, and justification?

In Epistemology, knowledge is defined as a “true, justified belief”. Within the umbrella of knowledge there are three subgroups: propositional, know-how, and knowledge by acquaintance. Propositional knowledge uses the verb ‘to know’ to mean that you contain knowledge of something, or an idea, relating to the first statement of a “true, justified belief”, for example, you “know” what your beliefs are. “Know-how” refers to a skill, or practical knowledge, for example, carpentry skills, or the knowledge of performing as task. And knowledge by acquaintance uses ‘to know’ in the sense that when you have an acquaintance or a relationship with a person, you “know” that person.

Knowledge is justified in the ways of an account, meaning that when a person experiences something, it becomes their own personal knowledge. Truth and belief in knowledge means that there is a correspondence between mind and reality, or that our beliefs correlate to actual events or information, making them true.

Katie McCoy

1/29/2009

1. Give reasons for answering the following questions either affirmatively or negatively: a. Could ther be another world (like the Matrix, or a "brain in a vat") alongside or "behind" this one? and b. Could we be radically wrong about our knowledge of the world?

I believe that there could be another world alongside the world that we live in, but I don't think that one currently exists. Although, I can see where an individual would believe it is possible that another world exists because new planets and galaxies continue to be discovered with the rapid improvement in technology. The following reasons could lead one to believe that we are radically wrong about our experience:
  • “Weird” physics
  • “Normal” physics
  • Occult experience (déjà vu)
  • Dreaming things that don’t appear to exist

The following reasons are those that negatively counteract the view that we are radically wrong about our existence:

  • Knowledge about our existence is confirmed every day
  • Normal science
  • The brain in a vat case/ information theory argument
Overall, both sides of the spectrum present a legitimate argument, but my belief is that the experiences we feel are very real and no other world or galaxy is affecting how we act or feel on a daily basis.

-Bart Murphy

2. How does the parabola video show the relationship between empirical and rational knowledge? How should we understand that relationship?

In philosophy, rationality is one of the key methods used to analyze the data gathered through systematically gathered observations. The source of rational knowledge is independent of experience, as these truths remain equally true whether an individual is aware of them or not. Another form of philosophical knowledge is empirical knowledge. This form is where we learn by experience, and as such experience is another source of knowledge. These experiences allow us to test the truth of logical arguments.

The parabola video shows how a person developed a theory about the length of a pendulum and the time it took to reach its two extreme ends. In the experiment, the person is combining both empirical knowledge, that of running the test, and rational knowledge, that of analyzing the data and creating the parabola itself. Without the rational knowledge, the empirical knowledge would not have been able to deduce the parabolic relationship between the length of the pendulum and time, and vice versa for the situation if the experiment itself never occurred. Rational and empirical knowledge are inextricably linked in the acquisition and use of knowledge. Full knowledge comprises both rational and empirical knowledge and thus is not whole without both of its parts.

-Kramer Ortman

3. Identify a modern naturalistic view of love and then consider whether it answers the questions Plato is trying to answer. What kind of knowledge do we have about love (propositional, know-how, or aquaintance)?

In our society, a modern naturalistic view of love is known as "pair bonding." It is a "quasi-universal" concept in our culture, but it is also based on our culture, evolved mental processes, and biological makeup. Plato wants to know whether or not there are two kinds of love, and, if there is bad love, is it still considered love? He also asks whether or not love is based on interpersonal relationships, or if it is a broader force? I do not think our current naturalistic views in society answer his questions; however, if he were around today, I believe Plato would stand by the notion that it is our biology that drives love and that certain organisms of the same species are meant to be together.

To know something, you need truth, belief, and justification. Based on what we know, I would say the certain kind of knowledge we have about love is "know-how." Know-how knowledge is practical knowledge, or the ability to do a certain thing. In order to love someone, you have to actually practice love itself. It doesn't just happen by looking at each other, you have to express feelings and emotions. One must put love to practical use. -Jordyn

4. Summarize Aristophanes' speech on love.

Aristophanes goes into Human Nature when explaining Love. Aristophanes claims that there were three kinds of humans, unlike now where there are two. The other kind, were known as "androgynons." They were basically two humans combined into one body. The male was considered an offspring of the sun, and the female of earth, so the moon was the offspring of both, which were in return the third kind of human.

Zeus, in order to solve the problems of humans trying to overrule the gods, cut them into two. (Hence, humans are now how we are, instead of two put together.) Love is described as the calling of both halves for each other. In other words, we all have a matching half, our true love. ~Miguel Preciado

2/3/2009

1. How does Agathon praise love? Contrast his view with previous speeches. In what way is Plato making fun of him?

Agathon praises the god of love for two main reasons, for what he is and for his gifts. In the first part of Agathon’s speech he goes into great length on how wonderful and amazing the god of love is. Agathon states how the god of love is the happiest of all gods, the youngest, the most beautiful, and the best. He then continues on with how the god of love was born to hate old age.

Agathon’s speech is so different from the rest of the men first off because his speech is extremely “flowery” and doesn’t hold up to much. Also his speech makes sure to celebrate the god of love along with congratulating human beings on the good things that come from the god. In the other speeches these ideas about love were not covered.

-Katelan Redmon

2. Reconstruct and evaluate Socrates criticism of Agathon (see journal samples in addition to the answer here).

Agathon argues that love desires and needs what it doesn't have, so you can love and desire another person or a trait like strength. In his argument he says we love things that we have a present need for. The mistake he made was when he described how love loves, and that love loves only beautiful things because it cannot love ugly things. Socrates catches his contradiction. Socrates argues that if this is true than love desires and needs beautiful things because you can only love what you do not have, and love only loves beautiful things. If love desires and needs beauty than it must be true that it does not already have it, and according to both men something that lacks beauty cannot be beautiful, which love is. Socrates uses logical reasoning to show Agathon that his argument and conclusion do not make sense. This was a good way for him to prove Agathon wrong because Agathon could not come up with a counter argument since Socrates conclusion made logical sense.

-Ryan Reese

3. What is Descartes' goal in the first meditation?

Descartes' goal in the first meditation is discard any knowledge he thinks might be doubted. He wants to be certain that what he considers to be knowledge is actually true and not just his senses deceiving him or a very real feeling dream. Descartes goes through different types of knowledge he has and questions whether or not he can believe it to be true. At the end of his meditation Descartes decides that it is better to doubt everything he thinks he knows so that he can't be deceived by any source of knowledge which he might believe in when he shouldn't.

-Jared Rice

4. Identify each type of knowledge he discards and why.

In his first meditation, Descartes recounts all his former opinions that he now questions. First, he discusses the knowledge that is attained through the senses. He feels like senses can be false, and it is "prudent" not to trust them. Descartes also theorizes that while things might seem real, it is possible it could just be a dream. Dreams can feel quite real when we're having them, so therefore anything could be a dream. Second, Descartes questions sciences like astronomy, medicine and physics because they deal with the very existence of things, of which we can never be sure. Next he mentions geometry and arithmatic, which he feels are somewhat certain, because they deal with more general topics, not their existence. Finally, Descartes deals with the uncertainty of God. Is it possible that God has allowed us to deceive ourselves into thinking that a square has four sides or that two plus two equals four? Descartes wraps up by saying that of all his former opinions, "there is not one which is not now legitimately open to doubt"~Katherine Ross

2/5/2009

1. How do you distinguish empiricism from rationalism?

Both empiricism and rationalism justify their positions by making inferences about the world based on basic beliefs. The difference is in what these basic beliefs are and how they are justified. An empiricist uses those things which have been experienced through the senses, a posteriori, as evidence for basic beliefs. For example, because I can see my computer in front of me and experience using it, I can justify my belief that it exists. Inferences can also be made by combining different beliefs, so while I may have not actually seen all of the people in New York City, I can infer that there are really over one million people there based on visiting the city, hearing about the size of the city, and experiencing other comparably large cities. A key field embodying empiricism is Biology, which is strongly based on observation and measurement.

Rationalism uses logical reasoning as the building block for belief. Those things which are logically reasonable, a priori, are true. Rationalists hold that there are things we can know to be true that we are not able to directly experience or infer to be true based on our senses. Propositions can be necessarily true in principle, and whether or not we know if it is snowing or not outside, we certainly know that it is not doing both at the same time without going outside. In mathematics, there is no way to experience that the numbers 11 and 13 are prime numbers, while 10 and 12 are not. -David Schrieber

2. What are some of the theoretical options for an empiricist to connect sense data to reality? (naive, indirect, idealism) Define each.

(All definitions can be found in R1 on page 65 with more specific definitions found on page 67 for indirect realism and page 69 for idealism)

Naïve realism is where the world is exactly as it is perceived to be. All the properties that an object is perceived to have, the object indeed has. ( If object P has property A, then object P has indeed property A)

Indirect realism is where the surrounding world is not exactly as it appears. The world is a bit different that it is perceived but there is still a close relation between perception and reality.

Idealism discards the idea that there are “real” objects “behind” perceptions and instead ordinary objects are a collection of perceptions.

-Elisabeth Shippee

3. What is the distinction between primary and secondary qualities? Does it solve any problems?

Primary qualities are the qualities that something has independent of who or what observes it. When astrologists look at the motion of the stars and planets in the sky, they observe the planets moving independently of our attention. Other primary qualities include anything that deals with matter such as solidity and extension. These qualities take up space which was one of the main points proposed by John Locke. Keep in mind that these objects/qualities don't rely on subjuctive judgements by anyone, unlike the secondary qualities. For instance, saying the box weighs 100 lbs. on the Earth compared to 30 lbs. on the Moon can be confusing; however, indifferent to where the box travels in the physical universe, there is still the same amount of matter contained in that box. Secondary qualities mainly deals with the forces that causes the observer to have a sense activiated. These senses include taste, smell, color, noise, etc. However, secondary qualities don't necessarily give us any type of grounded knowledge, unlike primary qualities. Such as the fruity markers that smell like fruits often don't taste like fruits.

-Shane Smith - list primary qualities explicitly.

4. What is Descartes' "archimedian point" for establishing certainty? Is it successful?

Descartes “Archimedean point” for establishing certainty is the fact that Descartes contains the sense attribute of thinking. Descartes is trying to figure out his certainty if body exists, but really his senses establish existence. The fact that the he is thinking, helps Descartes concluded that he truly exists, and certainly is something. Descartes explains this though process very well in this quote: “I am however a real thing, and really existing; but what thing? I have already said it: a thing which thinks. And what else? I will stir up my imagination in order to discover if I am not something more. I am not thing assemblage of limbs called the human body; I am not a thin and penetrating a vapour, or anything at all that can invent or imagine. Since I have supposed that all those things were nothing, and yet, without changing this supposition, I find I am nevertheless certain that I am something” (pg 50). Since Descartes has finally realized that he is certain that he exists, he seeks to discover what he is. In order for Descartes to figure out exactly what he is he will have to use his imagination to help him perceive if something is real and true, with the help if his dreams which will hopefully give him a clear expression of what he is.

Molly Sobba


5. Does Descartes' analysis of the experience of the wax justify his claim that we can have an "intuition of the mind" about objects? Why or why not?

Descartes' analysis of the experience of the wax does justify his claim that we can have a "intuition of the mind" about object because the wax's perception (<-- ?) is what the mind sees. It is clear that the wax has color, sent, shape,and size. The mind does not grasp what wax does, it only knows because of what it has seen before. If this is true then you can understand wax by imagination, by sense, or by pure reason. The minds intuition about wax or other objects is seen through pure reasoning,once you have pure reasoning the minds intuition in the same way is trained, this is true for any object, even objects the mind has never seen. Pure reasoning lets the mind's intuition understand an object in some way. Matthew Spinelli

6. What is the problem of induction and what is the "pragmatic solution"? Does it work? What, finally is induction based upon?

Induction is defined as the procedure that moves from our knowledge of particular instances to knowledge of universal claims (R1 pg 71). The problem of induction for empiricism is a result of the fact that our experiences of the world cannot claim universal or general claims, but only confirm or disconfirm particular facts. Basically, the problem of induction is that generalization may not necessarily lead to truth. A popular example is that of the swan. For instance if observed that all swans that have saw were white our conclusion that all swans are white would be wrong because we know that black swans exists. Scientific inference is a specific example of induction (Wikipedia reference). The problem of induction was emphasized in the example of loggerhead turtles, both in the book and in class, about their habits and how their reproductive cycles were found to occur every two years. The case in point emphasized how the scientists considered the sample to accurately conclude that ALL loggerhead turtles in the past, present and future lay eggs every two years. This type of inductive argument is hard to support, for loggerhead turtles' cycle of laying eggs may have changed in the past and may change in the future. There is not enough knowledge to know if the pattern has never varied or ever will. The principle used in induction is often doubted to be accurate at all since most of our senses and observations may not be correct.

A pragmatic solution that most empiricists and scientists refer to is the principle of the uniformity of nature--meaning that the laws that ruled the past will also rule the future. Basically the past repeats itself. Therefore if we know that a principle in nature is true then we can "beg the question" and use reason to solve the problem of induction. This can lead an empiricist into the rationalism segment of epistemology. Additionally, scientific knowledge is based upon induction but also our belief in it. Therefore, induction is simply a collection of our observations that we attempt to form into general laws based upon reoccurring patterns. Induction has to be supported by reason in order for it to become knowledge and we have to believe it to be true. Traci Swanson

2/10/2009

1. What is Diotima's account of the origins of love? Why does it have the characteristics it does? Why isn't it a god?

Love is the son of Penia and Poros- "resource and need", and In Diotima's view, love is not delicate, but rather, "beggarly and harsh. He sleeps in doorways, and is a master of artifice and deception: (203 d). Love is never without resource but at the same time is never rich, and love falls right between wisdom and ignorance, as those that already posses wisdom does not desire for wisdom any longer, and those that are ignorant do not think they need any wisdom. Love is always seeking for wisdom. These were the characteristics given to him from his parents.

Ruey-En Tang

2. Explain Diotima's view that the purpose of love is to give birth in beauty, whether in body or soul? "every desire for good things or for happiness is the supreme and treacherous love in everyone" Diotima explains to Socrates that we are all pregnant in the body and/or the soul, and at a certain time in our lives we all desire to give birth. To me, pregrnancy in this context refers to a persons capacity to love and to be beautiful, and when they are in harmony with the good and the beautiful they posses, they are able to pass it down to their children. What comes from these births can only ever be beautiful, because when a man and a woman produce a child it is a divine experience that mortals partake in, and to be divine means it must be in perfect harmony with all that is godly. Since anything considered to be ugly is out of harmony, then what comes from birth must always be beautiful. There is a goddess who presides at child birth, Moira or Eileithuia, Diotima explains, and she is real beauty. Humans and animals are always pregnant in Diotima's account, and when they are closer to beauty they are joyful and reproduce something that is also beautiful, but when they are closer to ugliness and out of harmony they draw away and do not reproduce. Holding back and not being able to give birth is a painful process. This, according to Diotima, is why there is much excitement around pregnancy and birth, because being close enough to beauty to reproduce something beautiful is both a joyous occasion and a release from the pain one carries inside them from not giving birth. This is the purpose of love, because giving birth in beauty releases us from our pain, and because reproduction is an infinite mortal process; it is what we have instead of immortality, it is essentially a divine characteristic of humans. Walsh

3. What is the "scala amoris"? What claim does Plato make about love with this idea? Is this a real feature of love?

The “scala amoris” is Plato’s ladder of love. This is what he used to describe how love grows and develops over time. Plato explained that in the first stages of love, a person is in love with the physical beauty of their partner. Once love begins to grow, the person in love begins to leave the body and ventures towards the soul. Once the person has reached the top of the “scala amoris”, they are no longer in love with the physical beauty of their beloved, but they are in love with the beauty of their beloved’s soul. They begin to want and love the good that is within their beloved. Throughout the speech of Diotima, she portrayed the idea that love is wanting to possess the beautiful and good forever. Using the scala amoris, Plato is making the claim that at the top of the ladder lays this beauty itself. A person doesn’t experience true love until they have achieved this level of love. I believe that this is a real feature of love. When you begin to love a person, it is a superficial love. But once you have spent a greater length of time with this person, the physical beauty becomes less important. You are now in love with the beauty of the soul of that person. -Ashley Whitton

2/12/2009

1. What is the difference between sensation and reflection for Locke?

2. How did Logical Positivists use the analytic / synthetic distinction to attack rationalism as a source of certainty?

Logical Positivists were essentially the first major group of philosophers to challenge the idea of rationalism as a source of certainty. As committed empiricists, Logical Positivists argued that a priori knowledge offered only limited information, and justified their arguments through analytic and synthetic truths.
According to Rauhut, “analytically true sentences [are] sentences that are true simply in virtue of the meaning of the words involved” (80 R1). For example, all bachelors are not married or all electrons are subatomic particles; no observations are necessary to determine the validity of these sentences. On the other hand, synthetically true sentences are sentences in which “we need to conduct experiments and observations” (80, R1) in order to determine if the sentence is true. For example, New York City has more inhabitants than Seattle, Washington.
In their attack on rationalism, Logical Positivists claimed that a priori reasoning only offers information about the meaning of words in context, rather than knowledge of the world. In his defense, a rationalist “has to show that there are important necessary truths that we can know a priori and that are not analytic” (81, R1). Rationalists argued that moral claims, such as "all humans have equal rights" are synthetic truths, but Logical Postivists deny that humans have any moral knowledge, thus this argument isn’t significantly effective.
Rationalists attempted another escape from the Logical Postivists’ challenge by stating, “important synthetic and necessary truths form our understanding of the physical universe” (81, R1). However, modern science is constantly progressing and finding fallacy in many previous claims. Rauhut says this leaves rationalists with only one other option: mathematical truths. Yet, many Logical Positivists argue that mathematics is simply analytics truths. Currently, philosophers still readily debate the problem with rationalism.

-Laura Anderson

3. What is philosophical hedonism?

Philosophical Hedonism deals with the thought that human beings want to seek pleasure and avoid pain. In this way, Hedonism does not only deal with wanting to do things to gain pleasure, but also to protect oneself from unhappiness. With regards to Epicureanism, Hedonism deals with the simple pleasures in life rather than the desire of great pleasures. Also, there are two main sides to the pleasure that Hedonism brings forth: quantitative and qualitative. The argument for quantitative is much like a math problem where the intensity of pleasure times the length of time equals the value of the pleasure. Qualitative describes pleasure as having different levels where pursuing higher levels of pleasure makes it difficult to attain the simple pleasures in life. Hedonism is described as the most important pursuit, everything you do should be put forth to gain happiness.

Jason Beecroft

2/17/2009

1. What are the major positions in philosophical thought on personal identity?

Illusionism
Illusionists hold that position that constancy in either the body or state of mind is an illusion. Like Heraclitus said regarding the ever changing state of a river "it is not possible to step into the same river twice." New water is constantly being trickled into the stream and particles within the stream itself are being replaced. Thus is the same with human identity. Physically, molecules and atoms are in a constant state of change within the body. Therefore, it is impossible to maintain constance within your physical self. William James argues that "consciousness...flows" much like Heraclitus's river. Buddhists feel once a human frees himself of the belief that there is a permanent self, they will find happiness.
Body Theory
Followers of the Body Theory believe that as long as someone is in the same body they are the same person. There may be qualitative change physically, but essentially (as well as numerically) the person remains the same. Alfino's beard may grow exponentially longer over the years, but he still maintains his identity as the young chap without a beard as long as he's in the same body.
Soul Theory
The Soul Theory follows the same basic concept as the Body Theory--but instead of "same body, same self" they believe "same soul, same self." This definition holds a striking importance for the difference between the body theory and the soul theory. For in the soul theory, once your physical body dies (your heart stops beating and your blood ceases its flow) your nonphysical body can continue on-- independent of your phsyical self. This makes life after death logically feasible.
Memory Theory
Memories! All alone in the moonlight! A sense of identity persists as long as memories from the past can be connected to the present. Who we were maintains who we are as long as we can remember what our feelings in the past were. Something else that occurs within the Memory Theory that the soul theory could not account for is the fact that a person's identity will exist past their death as long as people remember them.

NICOLE
2. Identify strengths and weaknesses of each position, in your view.

Illusion Theory

Strengths

  • Minor anxieties concerning the connection between future life and the future can be diminished-- for today is a present (get it? Hahaha!)-- something to be cherished and valued independently of what happens tomorrow.
  • Great concern over personal happiness.

Weaknesses

  • Recklessness in the way you live life-- tomorrow your life may or may not exist so you ought to "live it up" today.
  • Personal relationships are not valued, for the people you love today won't be the same tomorrow.
Body Theory

Strengths

  • Allows a person to trust that an old friend is still the same person-- even if they haven't seen eachother in 15 years. You don't have to instantly assume that a person has changed.
  • The life you want to lead in the future and the life you're involved in today can intertwine much easier than it would under the illusion theory for it is easy (and common sensical) to assume that you will be in the same body tomorrow (as well as in 30 years) as you are in today

Weaknesses

  • The issue of life after death has a considerable bearing on whether or not I follow the body theory. In my religion, heaven consists of a spiritual body, not a physical one. And if I don't have the same body, am I the same person in heaven as I was on earth?
  • Psychological continuity is also quite important. Although a person with no recollection of the past continues to have the same body, they do not have any memories of life within that body. How, then, can they be the same person as before?
Soul Theory

Strengths

  • It allows for the existence of life after death in the way that I believe it to be true.
  • Existence is independent of the physical body.

Weaknesses

  • Plato believed in the Soul Theory.
  • It is impossible to know for sure whether or not a person has the same soul as yesterday-- it cannot be seen, felt, or anything else concerning the senses.
Memory Theory

Strengths

  • Despite people's capacity to change, their identity is defined by their connection to memories, not solely experience in the present.

Weaknesses

  • The unreliable state of people's memories (refer to Elizabeth Loftus's memory experiments) makes creating false memories quite simple.

BERNABE
3. How does Parfit use the "split brain" thought experiment to consider three specific possibilities about the self?

Parfit examines the three outcomes of what could happen if one split their brain into two parts and transplanted it into two different bodies. The first situation which Parfit looks at is when he becomes both of these resulting bodies. This leads to a contradiction however, because those two people are going to head out and live very different, very separate lives. They are going to be different from one another. So to say that they are the same person but different people is obviously a contradiction and makes the first scenario seem impossible. The second scenario that Parfit examines is that you will not be both people, but instead only one of the bodies will be "you". Parfit suggests that this would be "wildly implausible" because to suggest that you are not one of the bodies when your relationship to each of them is exactly the same is ludicrous. There is no reason to suggest that you are body #1 when your relationship is identical to body #2. To say that one is something and the other is nothing just doesn't make any logical sense. For the third situation Parfit looks at what would happen if you were neither of the people. Parfit suggests that this would mean that the person who was originally him would cease to exist because there would be no one in the world which was "him". Parfit says that this outcome would be akin to death, since there is no one in the world that was "psychologically continuous" with the person who existed before the operation. Parfit says that in the end there is really only one large problem. When we are psychologically continuous with one person we call that identity. When we are psychologically continuous with two people we run into problems, but we can still say that it is survival, we just might not be able to say that the original person exists at all.

- Andrew Cataldo


4. How does Dennett complicate the opposition between mind and body with his thought experiment in "Where Am I?"?

Dennett complicates the opposition between mind and body with a thought experiment in which he separates mind and body. He tells the story of having his brain put in a vat but while the brain is in the vat it still controls his body. Once his brain is in the vat and he looks at it he has trouble trying to decide where he is. Is he the brain in the vat or the body looking at the brain? He struggles with this question and does not come to a good conclusion. Then in the story the connection between the brain and the body has problems and the body dies. But the brain is still thinking and hearing itself. The story continues and the brain gets a new body, but is this body and mind still Dennett? This is another question that complicates the mind and body theory. Then the story continues to even further complicate the question of mind and body when Dennett learns that there are two brains working parallel to each other. A computer replica of the brain was built. Now the thought experiment expands itself into one in which one brain is put into two people, who is the real Dennett? -John Creger

5. How does Epicureanism defend the view that pleasure is the ultimate good. Reconstruct major concepts and theses in the view and assess it in relation to Plato's view and your own experience and thought about the nature of pleasure. Is it the greatest good?

Epicurus views pleasure as the ultimate good; stated in the Principles Doctrines, “The magnitude of pleasure reaches its limit in the removal of all pain. When such pleasure is present, so long as it is uninterrupted, there is no pain either of body or of mind or of both together”. Epicurus thought, “Virtue is a necessary for happiness but pleasure is the greatest good”. He believed that if the desire was not natural it was unnecessary. In Epicureanism, not all pleasures are choice worthy; preferred pleasures were those that provided joy, tranquility, and peace of mind over those of lust and drinking. In comparison, Plato viewed virtue as the greatest good which was found in the Hellenistic philosophy of stoicism. Stoicism reflects the importance of freedom and virtue being sufficient for a person’s happiness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoics Through my experiences and incorporating the nature of pleasure, I find that Epicurus’ ideas of pleasure as the greatest good are correct. From cold medicine to the internet, my life has benefitted positively from natural, choice worthy pleasures. -Lindsey Friessnig

2/19/2009

No class due to conference travel.

2/24/2009

1. Is it possible to mix and match different philosophical theories of identity? Give an example of how you might do that, as well as problems it might create.

2. What is Parfit's view of personal identity and why does he hold it? How is it an instance of a "deflationary" philosophical theory?

Parfit's view on personal identity is that there is a "q-memory" which is personal identity = psychological continuity. To Parfit, identity can be fully described impersonally: there need not be a determinate answer to the question "Will the person that continues to exist remain to be me?" We could know all the facts about an entity's continued existence and not be able to answer the question of whether or not the persisting person possesses a continual identity. He concludes that we are mistaken in assuming that personal identity is what matters, and what matters is psychological continuity.

3. What philosophical viewpoint on personal identity does Dennett's story "Where Am I?" support?

In the same vein as Parfit's "deflationary view"; Dennett concludes that there is no way to really answer "Where Am I?" as from different perspectives, the answer can change. For example, if viewed from a 1st person perspective, personal identity becomes an all or nothing affair, you either have it, or you don't. However, from a third person's perspective, personal identity does not have a magic answer, it can be a yes, no, or neither, such as stated in Parfit's example of the 3 possibilities.

4. Compare and contrast Stoics and Epicureans on theology, ontology, human nature, and the good life.


Theology: Epicureans believe in detached gods where as Stoics believe in pantheism, theos as reason – in things that are active.
Ontology: Epicureans are atomists, and believe that everything is matter. Stoics believe that all is corporeal; non reductive wholes.
Human nature: Epicureans see the sage as divine, similarly, Stoics do too. Stoics believe that “hegamonikon” is more important that the body, or that personal integrity, the ruling principle is more important than body.
Good Life: Epicureans believe that virtue is the necessary condition to gain happiness, and pleasure. Stoics on the other hand, believe that virtue is happiness.

Hiller


5. Using some of the passages discussed in class, how do you begin to reconstruct Epictetus' formulation of Stoic thought?

2/26/2009

1. What is the importance of the Stoic distinction between things "up to us" and things "not up to us"?

The importance between the Stoic distinction between things "up to us" and things "not up to us" is that the only things that we can control are things that we act in ourselves. Stoic believe that people can only pave their lives through their own actions. Natural effects are not up to people because the people have no contorl over them. The distinction is important becuase if shows how Stoics place the importance of the self and how they argue that the person has control over his/her life only as much as he/has acts.

-Kramer Ortman

2. Why does a Stoic place so much importance on their hegemonikon?

A Stoic places so much impotrance on their hegemonikon because they live by this "ruling principle" where they use their free will to rule thier life according to their own principles. Their hegemonikon is associated with integrity. They think they can't give it up without letting themselves do so. It is their guiding principle, or rationale. -Jordyn

3. Give an example of stoic teaching that would strike some people as extreme. How would a stoic defend against this charge?

Stoics believe that we shouldn't worry about things that are "outside of our control", a problem with this is that it promotes us to be indifferent and eliminate suffering out of our lives by taking the human emotions out of suffering. Stoics would have to say to that that they are not discouraging one to try their hand at something they could possible fail at, however, they do expect one to go into the situation knowing what to expect and not be too discouraged is it doesn't go his/her way. This is their idea of lining up emotions with reality.

4. How does the psychological research reported by Paul Bloom in the excerpt from, "Is God an Accident?" bear on the problem of personal identity?

5. Reconstruct and evaluate the arguments against immortality of the soul in Perry's, "A Dialogue on Immortality and Personal Identity."

In Perry's "A Dialogue on Immortality and Personal Identity" a chaplain, Miller, visits his long term friend, Weirob as she lays on her death bed in the hospital. Weirob asks for Miller to persuade her that her survival will continue on after the dying of her body. One of her arguments against immortality is that after she dies, she will be buried and will decay in the ground. This fact is her argument against two people meeting one thousand years from now for she states that she could not be one of those people if she is in the ground. She uses the "Kleenex Box" example for the first time here. She sargues that even if there is an exactly similar person or "Kleenex Box" it is not the same person her thing therefore the person or the thing did not survive. Miller then moves away from argueing for immortality throuh the body to the question of immortality of the soul. Weirob argues that if one cannot see or smell the soul, how can someone know if the soul is the axact same as it was the day or the week before. She says there is no way of determining if one is talking to the same soul as the day before because all one can see is the body, and the soul and bosy are separate. The analogy of the candy with the caramel filling comes into play. Weirob argues that since one can never bite into a soul, like they do a candy to discover the filling, there is no way to test the theory that "the sameness of body means sameness of self." Weirob goes on to argue that sameness of psychological characteristics would not necessaryily mean sameness of peron. Weirob also argues that there is no way in determining is there has only been ONE soul associated with the body and argues that there could be a changing of the soul every 5 years or even a constant flow of changing of the soul. This constant chnage would mean that the "souls" can afford no principle identity to the self and therefore " they cannot be used to bridge the gulf between my existence now and my existence in the hereafter."

-Kramer Ortman