Difference between revisions of "Spring 2011 Philosophy of Human Nature Lecture Notes 2"

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:Hospers: problem is that we know that some generalization from past don't keep working -- chicken coming home to roost one day is dinner.
:Hospers: problem is that we know that some generalization from past don't keep working -- chicken coming home to roost one day is dinner.
:Solution?  Pragmatic justification.   
:Solution?  Pragmatic justification.   
===Small Group Exercise===
:*What model of epistemology appears to best fit with this picture of science?  
:*What model of epistemology appears to best fit with this picture of science?  
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:*Ultimate rejection line: 219A
:*Ultimate rejection line: 219A

Revision as of 11:00, 8 February 2011

Back to Human Nature

February 1, 2011 (7)

-mention contemporary naturalist view of love. Love as pair bonding plus culture. Love of children as expressions of the code. -add Agathon's speech to our table.

Small Group Exercise

  • Taking into consideration our thought experiment from last class (Out of 100 or 1000 people that you are sexually attracted to, how many could you imagine having a successful long term relationship with? -- Assume that you both have similar and good relationship skills, etc.). But then try to move your discussion to connect with the early speech of the symposium. Is there one love or two? Is love a narrow phenomena of relationship or a broader force in nature or beyond nature?

Socrates Questioning of Agathon

Is love love of something?
Love loves that which he/she has need of.
You don't need something you already have.
C: Love is the pursuit of something we have need of.
Does our need of the Good cover all cases of genuine love?
"Desire has a structure of absence."


  • the epistemological position that the evidence of our sense is the source of certainty of objective knowledge.
Great strength of this position is the inter-subjective certainty of observation.
Problem: What is the relationship between our empirical representation of reality and "mind-independent" reality?
Problem: Establishing the "inferential structure" to get from sense experience to knowledge. Three possibilities:
  1. Naive Realism
  2. Indirect Realism - primary / secondary qualities (p: e size, shape, molecular texture, and motion S: taste, smell, texture, and felt temperature)
  3. Idealism - Is shape really primary (oval appearances of round objects)? Berkeley: Look carefully. All you see are sensory ideas.
  • Is the primary / secondary qualities distinction a solution to problem of naive realism? Is it a problem for the indirect realist that perception is no longer the sole source of certainty?
  • Problem of Induction (basic definition here, more discussion later)


  • the belief that our knowledge is partly or chiefly constituted by that activity of pure reason.
  • classical examples: Pythagorean Theorem.
  • modern examples: Descartes and the developement of analytic algebra (parabola video), probability theory, calculus...
  • apriori/aposteriori knowledge
  • necessary/contingent truths
  • rationalism in theoretical physics: Garrett Lisi video [1]
  • rationalism in political thought: rights are still thought to be intuited by reason. "What rights is it rational for us to agree to?"

2/3/2011 (8)

Socrates' and the Speech of Diotima

Note how she's introduced.
Picks up line of questioning from Socrates and Agathon, which was her original question to Socrates as a youth.
Scolds Socrates for false dichotomy. Love could be neither ugly nor beautiful. Between mortal and god. Semi-divine force.
Story of the Origin of Love:Origin of Love from Penia and Poros, description
Love is a lover of wisdom. Love is not so much being loved, but being a lover.
What does the lover of beautiful things desire? - to possess the beloved, why?, (note substitution of "good"), to achieve happiness. 205A
Problem of the scope of the word love - like "poesis"
206B: Love is wanting to possess the good forever. ""This, then, is the object of love," she said. "In view of that, how do people pursue it if they are truly in love? What do they do with the eagerness and zeal we call love? What is the real purpose of love? Can you say?"
The purpose of love is to give birth in beauty, whether in body or soul.
Note the kind of immortality we can have -- to participate in an ongoing process. (examples: education, accumulation of wealth and culture, philanthrophy)
207E: interesting view of person through life span. Always changing. Body and soul. Studying is the answer! (208A) motivated by desire to be remembered. immortality of a sort.
Destiny of those pregnant in soul -- the Scala Amoris! 210B and following.
"So when someone rises by these stages, through loving boys correctly, and begins to see this beauty, he has almost grasped his goal. This is what it is to go aright, or be lead by another, into the mystery of Love: one goes always upwards for the sake of this Beauty, starting out from beautiful things and using them like rising stairs: from one body to two and from two to all beautiful bodies, then from beautiful bodies to beautiful customs, and from customs to learning beautiful things, and from these lessons he arrives in the end at this lesson, which is learning of this very Beauty, so that in the end he comes to know just what it is to be beautiful. " 211B
"But how would it be, in our view," she said, "if someone got to see the Beautiful itself, absolute, pure, unmixed, not polluted by human flesh or colors or any other great nonsense of mortality, but if he could see the divine Beauty itself in its one form?"


Major concepts from the Locke reading:
  • idea, sensation, reflection,
  • On the certainty of sensation: p. 95.
  • Primary qualities: solidity, extension, figure, motion/rest, number...
  • Secondary qualities: bulk, figure, texture, color sound, taste, ...


The Epistemic Status of Science

The Schick and Vaughn reading is meant to give us a common background understanding of contemporary science. We've been studying epistemology in connection with both classical philosophy (Plato, 5th cent. bc) and modern philosophy (Descartes, mid-17th cent), so it seems like a good time to connect with a contemporary understanding of science.

Some key points from that reading:

  • Presuppositions: (1) The world has a determinate structure, (2) we can know that structure, and (3) this knowledge is available to everyone.
  • Goal of method is to find principles that are explanatory and predictive.
  • No mechanical method for generating hypotheses: "The atomic theory of matter, for example, postulates the existence of atoms. All of the data upon which the atomic theory rests, however, can be described without mentioning atoms. Since scientific I hypotheses often introduce concepts not found in their data, there can be no mechanical procedure for constructing them."
  • -distinguishes scientific method from experimental method. "In general, any procedure that serves systemtically to eliminate reasonable grounds for doubt can be considered scientific. "
  • Theory and (Reality)
  • "Predictions can be derived from a hypothesis only in conjunction with a background theory." 167
  • Philip Kitcher -- hypotheses only tested in bundles.
  • Columbus example, ships on horizon. could save the theory by postulating bent light.
  • Historical flat earther, Parallex, and ad hoc reasoning.
  • Example of successful ad hoc reasoning in the discovery of Neptune. Had to be there.
  • Example of phlogiston.
  • Criteria for adequacy of theory: testability, fruitfulness, scope, simplicity, conservatism.
  • Key Points
  1. Science doesn't prove its hypotheses, but accumulates confirming evidence for groups of hypotheses.
  2. Scientific theories include theoretical concepts that can be adjusted to "save the theory". Sometimes this is ad hoc reasoning, other times it proves fruitful.
  3. Induction is a crucial part of the development of general explanatory and predictive principles.

The Problem of Induction

Induction is inference to a general principle (All loggerhead turles lay eggs every two years), but that goes well beyond the observed facts.
Principle of the Uniformity of Nature might help, but how is it justified without "begging the questions" (assuming what you are trying to prove)?
"If Nature has always been uniform in the past(generalizations have held good), then Nature will continue to be uniform in the future."
Hospers: problem is that we know that some generalization from past don't keep working -- chicken coming home to roost one day is dinner.
Solution? Pragmatic justification.

Small Group Exercise

  • What model of epistemology appears to best fit with this picture of science?


  • Insists on telling the story of the time Socrates didn't have sex with him. What's Plato up to ending on this?
  • Possible interpretation connecting Alcibiades as traitor with Socrates rejection. Opportunity to tell war stories that divinize Socrates. Socrates as Silenus figure.
  • Ultimate rejection line: 219A