A Critique of Pure Taj, or how I arrived at free will.


I am cheery.

I just don't like to see someone follow a view of life that is guaranteed to make them miserable, sad, and lonely.

I look at the humorous side of life.

I coalesce the vapor of human experience into a viable and logical comprehension.

Just like the Greco-Roman philosophers of the past.

It just doesn't pay anything.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl4VD8uvgec&feature=share&list=FLb6W0me9SDqnjCPAbWv4_XA

The Anabaptist Jacques
 
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Queenmab321

Patron Meritorious
There is nothing wrong with being an existentialist.


But your post clearly, clearly, is an expression of the most fundamental ideas of existentialism.


And Shakespeare's selection from Hamlet is in an entirely different context.


Hamlet was depressed and was in a situation he loathed and could not find a way out from the pressure.


Existentialism is about the meaninglessness of life itself.


There is a difference between pressure and aporia.


All I am suggesting to you is that perhaps you look at other points of views than one that says life sucks and is meaningless.


And also I would suggest that you focus on ideas rather than quotes that emphasize that view.


Or at least examine existentialism to the fullest by reading Heidegger's Being and Time or Satre's works.


Satre at least says that one should look for meaning, but realize that life has no purpose and people have no essence.


It is a important to understand existentialism, but it is a mistake in my view to adopt it as a personal philosophy about life.


It is important to understand it, but keep it in its proper context as the evolution of ideas than search for answers.


But don't make it the answer.


It is OK to study quicksand, but don't get stuck in it.


The Anabaptist Jacques


TAJ:


1) You've pigeonholed me an Existentialist and labeled Existentialism "contingent, historical and particular, its presuppositions (that there are no angels, fairies or little people?) mere opinion, without bothering to offer any argument in support of these conclusions other than incidental biographical details (Socrates lived during the Peloponnesian War. What of it?) which really amount to nothing more than elaborate ad hominem arguments.


2) You've represented the quotations I've included in my posts as equivalent to everything else I've posted and dismissed these out of hand as speculative nonsense, again, without bothering to engage in any meaningful dialogue with the actual propositions they contain, meanwhile, conveniently sweeping aside my own separate thoughts and observations.


BTW, the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution is a tautology.


3) You've characterized my point of view as hopeless and meaningless as if this were obviously true for both of us and for everyone everywhere. In fact, I'm a very happy person, and I happen to prefer my point of view, however depressing you may find it, to beautifying subterfuge. Also, you appear to believe that your emotional response to my conclusions about the world is somehow related to the question as to whether or not these conclusions are true. It isn't.


4) I refuse to take you to task for being condescending because that's part of the fun, isn't it?


Post script: Isn't "Hamlet" a parable?
 

Gadfly

Crusader
Existentialism is about the meaninglessness of life itself.

The Anabaptist Jacques

What is interesting to me is that a KEY FUNCTION of any human being is the personal creation of MEANING.

Philosophy has a long habit of trying to explain what is "really there" and "how things actually are".

Existentialism came up with its own meaning - that life has no meaning.

To me this is SO DUMB. Sure, stuff out there, matter and energy, the stuff of worlds, in itself has NO MEANING.

Meaning is a created thing, that is ADDED into the equation by any thinking being. EVERY philosopher to ever exist hits a point when running back his or her ideas and reasoning where VALUE and MEANING is arbitrarily entered into the argument. That is NOT a bad thing, though it is when people don't realize they are doing it.

EVERY person alive ADDS this slant to his or her own experiences, by mentally creating something about the meaning of all things of experience. Any ideas you have about what is important, what isn't important, what is good, what is bad, on any dynamic, in any field or realm, and even ideas about the BASIS of such things, are (mental) things of your OWN CREATION.

Kant had his own self-created value of DUTY. It was admirable, but that was just him. Others find other things to be more valuable, meaningful and important.

I suspect that a great deal of philosophy are exercises in the intellect trying to justify and explain a sort of pre-existing mental state or viewpoint (of value, of meaning, of ideas of what is important).

There probably is no meaning "out there". But, there can be and most certainly is LOTS of meaning "in here". What you accept as true, what you value, and what you find meaning in defines you and changes HOW you view and experience the world and universe around you.

A genuine philosopher should notice and talk about THAT! :duh:

And probably, some or many have.

There is no world, universe or experience without the adjustments caused by the filter of ones own mental universe of meaning. To see and experience the world without any system of meaning, "as it is", without coloration, renders . . . nothing. I have done meditations and drills where one strips away ALL meaning, on the deepest levels, and one is left there with a swirling vibrant universe of undefined energy. If you don't add the order into the equation, it isn't there. That is not to say that the universe itself doesn't have order and a set of specific natures; it probably does. But how any entity of consciousness experiences THAT depends on how he or she arranges, labels and conceptualizes it all via the MIND.

I view different philosophies and philosophers from the angle of how and what they each hold most important, and what they ASSUME as the highest values. But all of these assumptions of value, are fundamentally only assumptions. NONE exist "out there".

I suspect that the truth is that we are all co-players in the unfolding drama of God's creation. What we haven't yet realized is that our own unique worlds of meaning and value are the mental vehicle that molds the world into how we see and experience it. We each actually CREATE a unique world based on HOW we look at it all. Without each of us, as an observer, with a unique state of mind, there would be no dynamic interaction with what is observed. Both are necessary and both must be taken into account and understood. The most important aspect of all is the relationship between you and world - and THAT happens by way of your IDEAS about it. If you change your ideas about the world, your experience of the world changes.

If this last is true, about HOW you look and see directly affecting how you experience the universe, then from a purely practical aspect it would behoove any person to adopt a set of ideas that produces the best version of experience of reality for you (based on your own current needs, wants, etc, - granted THAT is also always changing). In fact, that is what some forms of Magick, Rosicrucian drills, and other occult practices deal with - how to CHANGE what you believe and accept as true, so that the universe unfolds differently for you than it would have otherwise.
 
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Queenmab321

Patron Meritorious
I think, Gadfly, you may already be an Existentialist without knowing it. I'll defer to the expert. :)


You should definitely check out William James's Pragmatism. It's public domain, so you can just reach out and grab it.


Here's something apropos from Nietzsche:


To love human beings for God's sake - so far that has been the most noble and most remote feeling that has been attained among men. The fact that without some consecrating intention behind it the love of human beings is one more stupidity and brutishness, that the inclination to this love of humanity must first derive its extent, delicacy, its grains of salt and specks of ambergris from some higher inclination - whatever human being it happened to be who first felt and "experienced" this, no matter how much his tongue may have stumbled as it tried to express such a delicacy, let him remain for all time sanctified among us and worthy of reverence as the man who so far has flown the highest and has lost his way most beautifully!


Beyond Good and Evil, chapter 3 (60)
 

Gadfly

Crusader
I think, Gadfly, you may already be an Existentialist without knowing it. I'll defer to the expert. :)

You should definitely check out William James's Pragmatism. It's public domain, so you can just reach out and grab it.

Here's something apropos from Nietzsche:

To love human beings for God's sake - so far that has been the most noble and most remote feeling that has been attained among men. The fact that without some consecrating intention behind it the love of human beings is one more stupidity and brutishness, that the inclination to this love of humanity must first derive its extent, delicacy, its grains of salt and specks of ambergris from some higher inclination - whatever human being it happened to be who first felt and "experienced" this, no matter how much his tongue may have stumbled as it tried to express such a delicacy, let him remain for all time sanctified among us and worthy of reverence as the man who so far has flown the highest and has lost his way most beautifully!

Beyond Good and Evil, chapter 3 (60)

I greatly enjoyed the "poetic" style of Nietzsche (also as in Thus Spoke Zarathustra).

I have read and forgotten more than I will probably ever realize. :confused2:

I read both Pragmatism and Beyond Good and Evil while in college. I read SO MUCH when I was in college, and for a few years after (though all the high-quality reefer probably didn't help with the retention of what I read). :bong:

The last I heard, per TAJ, I was a post-Modernist. Maybe. But as I write more, who knows, that decision of an appropriate description and label may change.

I know that I have never at any moment in my life considered suicide in any way. Does that block me from being an Existentialist?

I do think that consciousness is FAR more important than the stuff "out there". While the stuff out there may change, while conditions may vary, while the content of perception may shift, and while universes may come and go, the key thing will always be how some instance of consciousness relates to and deals with whatever and wherever it happens to find itself.
 
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Queenmab321

Patron Meritorious
I'd rather live in a beautiful and pleasant valley that strives for ideals and offers hope for our children tand our children's children.

Not live with the mentality of a prisoner of war.

The Anabaptist Jacques

"People will tell us that without the consolations of religion they would be intolerably unhappy. So far as this is true, it is a coward's argument. Nobody but a coward would consciously choose to live in a fool's paradise. When a man suspects his wife of infidelity, he is not thought the better of for shutting his eyes to the evidence. And I cannot see why ignoring evidence should be contemptible in one case and admirable in the other."

George Bernard Shaw
 
I would say that the only sure realm of free choice is on moral decisions, but not necessarily actions.

The Anabaptist Jacques

Isn't it possible that it's just the extraordinary intensty of the emotions that attend morality which tempt us to attribute to it a supernatural function?

I don't think I realized we were talking about religion. But it's not surprising that we should, in a discussion about the nature of freedom and morality, wander so easily and almost imperceptibly from the realm of philosophy to that of faith. For this, it seems to me, is an essential function of religion, to objectify our moral passions and make of them a universal standard to which everyone else must also be held accountable. This belief in a universal moral law is so precious to us and its alternative so bewildering and disheartening that, collectively, we engineer religion as a kind of beautifying and justifying pretext, a refuge, an effective means of preserving and protecting our desperate hope for moral certainty.


I sometimes think of a plant placed in a room near a window. The plant grows toward the sunlight. The plant is not conscious, so it can't be free. But, the organism does make a choice. In similar fashion, we are free to breath or not. We don't notice this freedom because it doesn't occur to us not to breath. We only become aware of our freedom when find ourselves ambivalent about what we want to do, and we are painfully ambivalent about morality. In the end, we always do what we want to do most, but we can't (as Dr. Schopenhauer explains) choose, anymore than the plant in a darkened room, what we will want most.

Your diet is a perfect example, you want two mutually exclusive things, viz., to enjoy eating whatever you want and to enjoy the pleasure and benefits of being fit. You're ambivalent. And, this teetering between two conflicting desires gives rise to the sensation of freedom. Ultimately, you'll want one more than the other and become either fit or fat. We always choose what we want most.

"For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."
Psalm 103:14

It may simply be that I am proposing something that is so obviously true it doesn't warrant controversy. As moral agents we are not self caused. We are perfectly free to think and act as we please in terms of the values we happen to possess, but we play little or no role in the determination of these values. We are thrown into a world of significances. We are free because we care, because we are concerned, and this meaning is brutally necessary for us. Nevertheless, we stand at the end of a long procession of finite creatures that have come to exist by virtue of an evolutionary process that is not in and of itself moral.

Except for my first post, the rest of these seem to me to be very existentialist ideas.

The Anabaptist Jacques
 
TAJ:


1) You've pigeonholed me an Existentialist and labeled Existentialism "contingent, historical and particular, its presuppositions (that there are no angels, fairies or little people?) mere opinion, without bothering to offer any argument in support of these conclusions other than incidental biographical details (Socrates lived during the Peloponnesian War. What of it?) which really amount to nothing more than elaborate ad hominem arguments.


2) You've represented the quotations I've included in my posts as equivalent to everything else I've posted and dismissed these out of hand as speculative nonsense, again, without bothering to engage in any meaningful dialogue with the actual propositions they contain, meanwhile, conveniently sweeping aside my own separate thoughts and observations.


BTW, the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution is a tautology.


3) You've characterized my point of view as hopeless and meaningless as if this were obviously true for both of us and for everyone everywhere. In fact, I'm a very happy person, and I happen to prefer my point of view, however depressing you may find it, to beautifying subterfuge. Also, you appear to believe that your emotional response to my conclusions about the world is somehow related to the question as to whether or not these conclusions are true. It isn't.


4) I refuse to take you to task for being condescending because that's part of the fun, isn't it?


Post script: Isn't "Hamlet" a parable?

"People will tell us that without the consolations of religion they would be intolerably unhappy. So far as this is true, it is a coward's argument. Nobody but a coward would consciously choose to live in a fool's paradise. When a man suspects his wife of infidelity, he is not thought the better of for shutting his eyes to the evidence. And I cannot see why ignoring evidence should be contemptible in one case and admirable in the other."

George Bernard Shaw

Where to begin?

First off, as I said earlier, there is nothing wrong in having an existentialist view.

Existentialism is "contingent, historical and particular, its presuppositions mere opinion."

By contingent is meant that it depends on other factors if it is true or not, as opposed to being necessary.

By necessary is meant that it has to be. For example, if Bill is taller than Joe, and Joe is taller than Larry, then it is necessarily true that Bill is taller than Larry.

Historical means that it is true in a particular period of time, as opposed to timeless which would be true all of the time.

For example, if people built a triangular building it may last a hundred years. That building exists in a particular period of time.

But a triangle has three sides. That is timeless. As long as there are triangles they will have three sides (and yes, that is a tautological statement.)

Particular means it has a certain context within which it can be said to be true or not, as opposed to universal, which means it is true everywhere.

For example, a king's palace may be shaped like a triangle in Persia but not in Egypt. But a triangle will have three sides in Persia or in Egypt or in Athens.

In some philosophies, truth and knowledge are universal, necessary, and timeless. These philosophies are Platonism, Aristotelianism, and Stoicism, pre-modernism and Kantianism, to name a few.

But other philosophies claim truth is contingent, historical, and particular. Some of these are Existentialism (Heidegger, Satre, and Camus), and post-Modernism (Foucault, Derrida, and our very own Gadfly :yes:)

If someone came on this thread and started quoting L. Ron Hubbard, and presupposed Scientology ideas such as Thetan, or ARC, or SP and PTS in there statements would I bee in error for saying that they were putting forth a Scientology viewpoint?

I don't think so.

Or if someone came on this thread and was quoting Marx and Engels and Lenin and presupposed class structure in their statements would I be in error for saying they were putting forth an Marxist-Leninist viewpoint?

I don't think so.

So when I see you posting statements that presuppose Existentialist ideas and you quote existentialist writers and philosophers, am I in error when I say you are putting forth an Existentialist viewpoint.

I don't think so.

There is nothing wrong with Existentialism. But in my view it leads to a depressing viewpoint about life.

And fundamental to Existentialism is the view that there is no essence before existence.

It seems to me that you have expressed these views repeatedly with some of your posts and quotes.

There's nothing wrong with it.

Don't get upset because that's how I see it.

If your views are otherwise then say so.

The Anabaptist Jacques
 

Gadfly

Crusader
In some philosophies, truth and knowledge are universal, necessary, and timeless. These philosophies are Platonism, Aristotelianism, and Stoicism, pre-modernism and Kantianism, to name a few.

But other philosophies claim truth is contingent, historical, and particular. Some of these are Existentialism (Heidegger, Satre, and Camus), and post-Modernism (Foucault, Derrida, and our very own Gadfly :yes:)

The Anabaptist Jacques

TAJ, I have a few questions for you.

What do you/they exactly mean when you/they say "truth and knowledge are universal, necessary, and timeless".

Do you/they mean that all real truths and legitimate knowledge are "universal, necessary, and timeless"?

Or that there are certain instances of truths and knowledge that are "universal, necessary, and timeless"?

Or, something else?

For instance, it is true that it rained yesterday. It IS "true". But it is not universal, necessary, and timeless. Now, a condition of raining, with no other restrictions or qualifications, could occur at any time or place, and would thus be more universal. Yes? It seems to me that these universal things are actually ABSTRACT IDEAS. As one removes specifics of experience, one moves UP the ladder of (mental) abstraction. I wonder whether these "truths" exist outside of the mind at all. Does that make sense? It seems to me that specifics involve perception and experience. Whereas the notions of species, groups, categories, sets, and so forth, which disregard certain specifics and details of unique experiences, ALWAYS involve IDEAS (mental objects). In other words, specifics occur in the realm of sense and perception, while general (universal) anythings occur in the realm of the mind. Once you shift from the details of experience to the general, one shifts from "out there" to "in here" (as a concept or abstract idea).

I understand the notions that a triangle or a square or a circle are what they are, and are what they are no matter what you might call them. Even though saying "a triangle is an object with three sides" is a tautology, as it is a simple description or definition, any thing with three sides, no matter what you call it has the traits and qualities of that "thing" we currently call and define as a triangle. But babies can recognize the shape distinct form other shapes at early ages - long before they ever have learned descriptions and definitions of a "triangle". I can see that this is what you would call "universal". I wouldn't say though that it is timeless, because you might find yourself in a reality someday where such shapes and forms don't exist. And, in THAT reality, it would NOT be "necessary".

Is there anything anywhere that is truly "universal, necessary, and timeless"? Even the universe and all the constituent parts supposedly will collapse one day and fall back into a similar state that immediately preceded the Big Bang. It seems to me that if there is a spiritual nature, sort of like Hubbard's "static", THAT "thing" is the only true thing that might adhere to the description "universal, necessary, and timeless" - if in fact everything derives from it. In a sense "it" would be "first cause".

I would say that the fundamental basis of mind is far more "universal, necessary, and timeless" than any aspect of the transitory physical universe, since it orders and in a sense creates the experiences of any reality. What do you think?

Now, did a triangle exist anywhere before some human being got an idea of a triangle and described and defined it? Possibly somewhere along time three trees fell to form the pattern or some strange accident of soil erosion resulted in the shape, but other than that, is this thing called a triangle actually the tangible result of Man's ideas about things meshing with experiences and observations of physical and mental reality? This seems to be what Kant was getting at when he talked of empirically real and transcendentally ideal - the two dynamically interact to result in some experience.

Is there such a thing as a "natural" triangle separate from Mans idea about such things?

Also, such things like triangles and circles are not that important, not like other key concepts that philosophers argue like God, the soul or free will.

I pulled put some old philosophy books last week and started looking through them.

I have read a book on Kant by Roger Scruton, but it sure is tough - because the qualified writers who talk about Kant can't even agree on what he often meant!!!! :duh:

From what I have read, this summary from Wiki seems accurate:

"In simple terms, Kant pointed out that we all shape our experience of things through the filter of our mind. The mind shapes that experience, and among other things, Kant believed the concepts of space and time were programmed into the human brain, as was the notion of cause and effect.[5] We never have direct experience of things, the noumenal world, and what we do experience is the phenomenal world as conveyed by our senses. These observations summarize Kant's views upon the subject–object problem."

I pretty much agree with all of that. That sounds fairly contextual and relative to me. I also agree with all of this. Do you?

"Kant's work purported to bridge the two dominant philosophical schools in the 18th century: 1) rationalism, which held that knowledge could be attained by reason alone a priori (prior to experience), and 2) empiricism, which held that knowledge could be arrived at only through the senses a posteriori (after experience). Kant's solution was to propose that while we could know particular facts about the world only via sensory experience, we could know the form they must take prior to any experience. That is, we cannot know what objects we will encounter, but we can know how we will encounter them. Kant called his mode of philosophising "critical philosophy", in that it was supposedly less concerned with setting out positive doctrine than with critiquing the limits to the theories we can set out.[1] The conclusion he presented, as above, he called "transcendental idealism". This distinguished it from earlier "idealism", such as George Berkeley's, which held that external objects have actual being or real existence only when they are perceived by an observer. Kant said that there are things-in-themselves, noumena, that is, things that exist other than being merely sensations and ideas in our minds. Kant held in the Critique of Pure Reason that the world of appearances (phenomena) is empirically real and transcendentally ideal. The mind plays a central role in influencing the way that the world is experienced: we perceive phenomena through time, space and the categories of the understanding. It is this notion that was taken to heart by Kant's philosophical successors.

Kant's transcendental idealism consisted of taking a point of view outside of and above oneself (transcendentally) and understanding that the mind directly knows only phenomena or ideas. Whatever exists other than mental phenomena, or ideas that appear to the mind, is a thing-in-itself and cannot be directly and immediately known.

Kant had criticized pure reason. He wanted to restrict reasoning, judging, and speaking only to objects of possible experience. The main German Idealists, who had been theology students,[2] reacted against Kant’s stringent limits.[3]"


It seems to me that Kant's system fails to include the possibility of "direct experience" of a "thing-in-itself" via a "mystical experience". Meaning that if there is a "soul" that is the ground of all mental and perceptual activities, that through some function of it, along some quantum leap surpassing space and time, raw unconditioned consciousness might "grok" various things, events, worlds and even universes.

Does any modern philosophy encroach on such things, or are notions of the soul/spirit and such kept relegated to religion? Even Kant seemed as if he tried to sort of prove the "soul" (transcendental self) using his practical form of reason.

PS I pulled out the books on Kant, to read (again), after you yelled at me last week for denigrating your hero. :biggrin:

(by the way I deserved it - I can be very irreverent at times . . .)
 
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TAJ, I have a few questions for you.

What do you/they exactly mean when you/they say "truth and knowledge are universal, necessary, and timeless".

Do you/they mean that all real truths and legitimate knowledge are "universal, necessary, and timeless"?

Or that there are certain instances of truths and knowledge that are "universal, necessary, and timeless"?

Or, something else?

For instance, it is true that it rained yesterday. It IS "true". But it is not universal, necessary, and timeless. Now, a condition of raining, with no other restrictions or qualifications, could occur at any time or place, and would thus be more universal. Yes? It seems to me that these universal things are actually ABSTRACT IDEAS. As one removes specifics of experience, one moves UP the ladder of (mental) abstraction. I wonder whether these "truths" exist outside of the mind at all. Does that make sense? It seems to me that specifics involve perception and experience. Whereas the notions of species, groups, categories, sets, and so forth, which disregard certain specifics and details of unique experiences, ALWAYS involve IDEAS (mental objects). In other words, specifics occur in the realm of sense and perception, while general (universal) anythings occur in the realm of the mind. Once you shift from the details of experience to the general, one shifts from "out there" to "in here" (as a concept or abstract idea).

I understand the notions that a triangle or a square or a circle are what they are, and are what they are no matter what you might call them. Even though saying "a triangle is an object with three sides" is a tautology, as it is a simple description or definition, any thing with three sides, no matter what you call it has the traits and qualities of that "thing" we currently call and define as a triangle. But babies can recognize the shape distinct form other shapes at early ages - long before they ever have learned descriptions and definitions of a "triangle". I can see that this is what you would call "universal". I wouldn't say though that it is timeless, because you might find yourself in a reality someday where such shapes and forms don't exist. And, in THAT reality, it would NOT be "necessary".

Is there anything anywhere that is truly "universal, necessary, and timeless"? Even the universe and all the constituent parts supposedly will collapse one day and fall back into a similar state that immediately preceded the Big Bang. It seems to me that if there is a spiritual nature, sort of like Hubbard's "static", THAT "thing" is the only true thing that might adhere to the description "universal, necessary, and timeless" - if in fact everything derives from it. In a sense "it" would be "first cause".

Now, did a triangle exist anywhere before some human being got an idea of a triangle and described and defined it? Possibly somewhere along time three trees fell to form the pattern or some strange accident of soil erosion resulted in the shape, but other than that, is this thing called a triangle actually the tangible result of Man's ideas about things meshing with experiences and observations of physical and mental reality? This seems to be what Kant was getting at when he talked of empirically real and transcendentally ideal - the two dynamically interact to result in some experience.

Is there such a thing as a "natural" triangle separate from Mans idea about such things?

Also, such things like triangles and circles are not that important, not like other key concepts that philosophers argue like God, the soul or free will.

I pulled put some old philosophy books last week and started looking through them.

I have read a book on Kant by Roger Scruton, but it sure is tough - because the qualified writers who talk about Kant can't even agree on what he often meant!!!! :duh:

From what I have read, this summary from Wiki seems accurate:

"In simple terms, Kant pointed out that we all shape our experience of things through the filter of our mind. The mind shapes that experience, and among other things, Kant believed the concepts of space and time were programmed into the human brain, as was the notion of cause and effect.[5] We never have direct experience of things, the noumenal world, and what we do experience is the phenomenal world as conveyed by our senses. These observations summarize Kant's views upon the subject–object problem."

I pretty much agree with all of that. That sounds fairly contextual and relative to me. I also agree with all of this. Do you?

"Kant's work purported to bridge the two dominant philosophical schools in the 18th century: 1) rationalism, which held that knowledge could be attained by reason alone a priori (prior to experience), and 2) empiricism, which held that knowledge could be arrived at only through the senses a posteriori (after experience). Kant's solution was to propose that while we could know particular facts about the world only via sensory experience, we could know the form they must take prior to any experience. That is, we cannot know what objects we will encounter, but we can know how we will encounter them. Kant called his mode of philosophising "critical philosophy", in that it was supposedly less concerned with setting out positive doctrine than with critiquing the limits to the theories we can set out.[1] The conclusion he presented, as above, he called "transcendental idealism". This distinguished it from earlier "idealism", such as George Berkeley's, which held that external objects have actual being or real existence only when they are perceived by an observer. Kant said that there are things-in-themselves, noumena, that is, things that exist other than being merely sensations and ideas in our minds. Kant held in the Critique of Pure Reason that the world of appearances (phenomena) is empirically real and transcendentally ideal. The mind plays a central role in influencing the way that the world is experienced: we perceive phenomena through time, space and the categories of the understanding. It is this notion that was taken to heart by Kant's philosophical successors.

Kant's transcendental idealism consisted of taking a point of view outside of and above oneself (transcendentally) and understanding that the mind directly knows only phenomena or ideas. Whatever exists other than mental phenomena, or ideas that appear to the mind, is a thing-in-itself and cannot be directly and immediately known.

Kant had criticized pure reason. He wanted to restrict reasoning, judging, and speaking only to objects of possible experience. The main German Idealists, who had been theology students,[2] reacted against Kant’s stringent limits.[3]"


It seems to me that Kant's system fails to include the possibility of "direct experience" of a "thing-in-itself" via a "mystical experience". Meaning that if there is a "soul" that is the ground of all mental and perceptual activities, that through some function of it, along some quantum leap surpassing space and time, raw unconditioned consciousness might "grok" various things, events, worlds and even universes.

Does any modern philosophy encroach on such things, or are notions of the soul/spirit and such kept relegated to religion? Even Kant seemed as if he tried to sort of prove the "soul" (transcendental self) using his practical form of reason.

PS I pulled out the books on Kant, to read (again), after you yelled at me last week for denigrating your hero. :biggrin:

Goooooooood Questions--All of them!

First off, the article you quoted is generally correct, except for how the terms the author uses which has implications that are not Kant's

For example, "Kant's transcendental idealism consisted of taking a point of view outside of and above oneself (transcendentally) and understanding that the mind directly knows only phenomena or ideas. Whatever exists other than mental phenomena, or ideas that appear to the mind, is a thing-in-itself and cannot be directly and immediately known."

When Kant uses the word Transcendental he means the conditions of our knowing, and the pattern of our mind's operation.

His Transcendental Idealism means that the world (that is what we experience) conforms to these patterns in our mind (Time and space, cause and effect).

Transcendental is not a metaphysical term for him. Just so you know, Kant uses everyday words in his own ways and that can get very confusing.

Like the word "reason." To Kant, reason is the human drive to know everything. It is not reasoning or thinking logically, but the drive to know.

Another example is "Kant believed the concepts of space and time were programmed into the human brain, as was the notion of cause and effect."

Programmed is, of course, not the term Kant would use as it is a modern term, and in Kant's day the brain and the mind were not defined interchangeably.

Kant used the word "mind."

I'll answer the next question about knowledge in my next post.

The Anabaptist Jacques
 
TAJ, I have a few questions for you.

What do you/they exactly mean when you/they say "truth and knowledge are universal, necessary, and timeless".

Do you/they mean that all real truths and legitimate knowledge are "universal, necessary, and timeless"?

Or that there are certain instances of truths and knowledge that are "universal, necessary, and timeless"?

Or, something else?

For instance, it is true that it rained yesterday. It IS "true". But it is not universal, necessary, and timeless. Now, a condition of raining, with no other restrictions or qualifications, could occur at any time or place, and would thus be more universal. Yes? It seems to me that these universal things are actually ABSTRACT IDEAS. As one removes specifics of experience, one moves UP the ladder of (mental) abstraction. I wonder whether these "truths" exist outside of the mind at all. Does that make sense? It seems to me that specifics involve perception and experience. Whereas the notions of species, groups, categories, sets, and so forth, which disregard certain specifics and details of unique experiences, ALWAYS involve IDEAS (mental objects). In other words, specifics occur in the realm of sense and perception, while general (universal) anythings occur in the realm of the mind. Once you shift from the details of experience to the general, one shifts from "out there" to "in here" (as a concept or abstract idea).

I understand the notions that a triangle or a square or a circle are what they are, and are what they are no matter what you might call them. Even though saying "a triangle is an object with three sides" is a tautology, as it is a simple description or definition, any thing with three sides, no matter what you call it has the traits and qualities of that "thing" we currently call and define as a triangle. But babies can recognize the shape distinct form other shapes at early ages - long before they ever have learned descriptions and definitions of a "triangle". I can see that this is what you would call "universal". I wouldn't say though that it is timeless, because you might find yourself in a reality someday where such shapes and forms don't exist. And, in THAT reality, it would NOT be "necessary".

Is there anything anywhere that is truly "universal, necessary, and timeless"? Even the universe and all the constituent parts supposedly will collapse one day and fall back into a similar state that immediately preceded the Big Bang. It seems to me that if there is a spiritual nature, sort of like Hubbard's "static", THAT "thing" is the only true thing that might adhere to the description "universal, necessary, and timeless" - if in fact everything derives from it. In a sense "it" would be "first cause".

I would say that the fundamental basis of mind is far more "universal, necessary, and timeless" than any aspect of the transitory physical universe, since it orders and in a sense creates the experiences of any reality. What do you think?

Now, did a triangle exist anywhere before some human being got an idea of a triangle and described and defined it? Possibly somewhere along time three trees fell to form the pattern or some strange accident of soil erosion resulted in the shape, but other than that, is this thing called a triangle actually the tangible result of Man's ideas about things meshing with experiences and observations of physical and mental reality? This seems to be what Kant was getting at when he talked of empirically real and transcendentally ideal - the two dynamically interact to result in some experience.

Is there such a thing as a "natural" triangle separate from Mans idea about such things?

Also, such things like triangles and circles are not that important, not like other key concepts that philosophers argue like God, the soul or free will.

I pulled put some old philosophy books last week and started looking through them.

I have read a book on Kant by Roger Scruton, but it sure is tough - because the qualified writers who talk about Kant can't even agree on what he often meant!!!! :duh:

From what I have read, this summary from Wiki seems accurate:

"In simple terms, Kant pointed out that we all shape our experience of things through the filter of our mind. The mind shapes that experience, and among other things, Kant believed the concepts of space and time were programmed into the human brain, as was the notion of cause and effect.[5] We never have direct experience of things, the noumenal world, and what we do experience is the phenomenal world as conveyed by our senses. These observations summarize Kant's views upon the subject–object problem."

I pretty much agree with all of that. That sounds fairly contextual and relative to me. I also agree with all of this. Do you?

"Kant's work purported to bridge the two dominant philosophical schools in the 18th century: 1) rationalism, which held that knowledge could be attained by reason alone a priori (prior to experience), and 2) empiricism, which held that knowledge could be arrived at only through the senses a posteriori (after experience). Kant's solution was to propose that while we could know particular facts about the world only via sensory experience, we could know the form they must take prior to any experience. That is, we cannot know what objects we will encounter, but we can know how we will encounter them. Kant called his mode of philosophising "critical philosophy", in that it was supposedly less concerned with setting out positive doctrine than with critiquing the limits to the theories we can set out.[1] The conclusion he presented, as above, he called "transcendental idealism". This distinguished it from earlier "idealism", such as George Berkeley's, which held that external objects have actual being or real existence only when they are perceived by an observer. Kant said that there are things-in-themselves, noumena, that is, things that exist other than being merely sensations and ideas in our minds. Kant held in the Critique of Pure Reason that the world of appearances (phenomena) is empirically real and transcendentally ideal. The mind plays a central role in influencing the way that the world is experienced: we perceive phenomena through time, space and the categories of the understanding. It is this notion that was taken to heart by Kant's philosophical successors.

Kant's transcendental idealism consisted of taking a point of view outside of and above oneself (transcendentally) and understanding that the mind directly knows only phenomena or ideas. Whatever exists other than mental phenomena, or ideas that appear to the mind, is a thing-in-itself and cannot be directly and immediately known.

Kant had criticized pure reason. He wanted to restrict reasoning, judging, and speaking only to objects of possible experience. The main German Idealists, who had been theology students,[2] reacted against Kant’s stringent limits.[3]"


It seems to me that Kant's system fails to include the possibility of "direct experience" of a "thing-in-itself" via a "mystical experience". Meaning that if there is a "soul" that is the ground of all mental and perceptual activities, that through some function of it, along some quantum leap surpassing space and time, raw unconditioned consciousness might "grok" various things, events, worlds and even universes.

Does any modern philosophy encroach on such things, or are notions of the soul/spirit and such kept relegated to religion? Even Kant seemed as if he tried to sort of prove the "soul" (transcendental self) using his practical form of reason.

PS I pulled out the books on Kant, to read (again), after you yelled at me last week for denigrating your hero. :biggrin:

(by the way I deserved it - I can be very irreverent at times . . .)

To answer the part about truth and knowledge we have to go back to Plato and the stoics.

Plato had what he called the "Forms." A better word to understand what he meant would probably be "essence." But we'll use Forms, just remember that it means more like essence.)

The Forms are things like Truth, Beauty, Justice, etc.

To understand his idea it's better to start at the bottom.

In Book VI (which is really chapter VI) of The Republic, Plato explains all this.

He draws lines to explain it. But let's say you have a line drawn down the middle, and three lines draw across that.

The line down the middle separates the two sides that represent objects on one side and the cognitive state which is responsible for apprehending the objects.

At the bottom you have what he calls images which are simply reflections of things. Shadows, reflections in pools, etc.

To be able to apprehend these images we need imagination (not what we mean today by creative thought). Imagination is that part of our mind that can see a shadow and know it is a shadow of a hand.

Above these two we have as objects sensible things (things we see or feel or taste or hear or smell with our senses.)

On the right side of the line the cognitive state we need to apprehend sensible things is trust---we trust our senses as correct.

Now it gets good.

Above sensible things on the objects side is mathematical objects. And to apprehend these mathematical objects we need thought, or in other words, understanding.

So people could see sensible things like the pyramids, but it took thought (or understanding) to apprehend the mathematical object.

The mathematical object is to the pyramid what the hand is to the shadow. The pyramid is just and image of the real mathematical object behind it.

Now it gets even better.

Above the mathematical objects are the Forms---Beauty, Truth, Justice, etc. Plato considered them real things and what we see with our sense are just shadows of those real things.

So if we see something that we think is beautiful, Beauty is what we are seeing, and the object that we are calling beautiful is just the sensible thing we perceive with our senses.

It is like it is a shadow of the Form.

And the cognitive state we need to be in to apprehend the Forms is Intellection. And we get that trough dialectic (reasoning).

So to Plato and the Platonist, Truth is real and unchanging and what we perceive with our sense as truth is simply a reflection of the real thing.

But the truth we see with our senses is contingent, particular, and probable (relative truth)

But the Form that is Truth, is universal, necessary, and Timeless.

Above the Forms and Intellection is what Plato calls "The idea of the Good." His followers gave it the term Logos.

To the Stoics Logos meant that divine principle that is behind everything.

To Platonist and Stoics, everything reasoned down from the Logos.

When Augustine converted to Christianity he had the view that some people have to believe so they can understand, but for himself, he needed to understand so he could believe.

Since he was a Platonist (he was a Manichean before that) he said that Plato helped him understand Christianity.

He didn't say specifically how, but it is easy to see that the Logos (or Idea of the Good), the Forms, and Intellection easily match up with the Holy Trinity.

The Logos as God, Christ being the Form, and Intellection the Holy Spirit. Remember in Christianity you only come to understand Christ because of the Holy Spirit (or Intellection).

And Logos translated literally can mean "word." The prevailing philosophy at the time John wrote his Gospel was Platonism and Stoicism.

So in his Gospel he says "The Word (Logos) became flesh."

I see that as meaning that the Logos took a Form in the person of Jesus and that what it took to realize that was Intellection (or the Holy spirit).

So it matches up well with Plato.

But besides all the Christian interpretation. Knowledge and Truth to Plato was universal, necessary, and timeless. (Remember necessary means that it must be so---Bill is taller than Joe, Joe is taller than Mary, so it is necessarily true that Bill is taller than Mary.)

The next post will cover the opposing view to all this.

The Anabaptist Jacques
 
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The opposing view.

When Plato wrote the Republic (380 B.C.E.) he actually presented the opposing view to all this.

The Republic is a dialogue between Socrates and a few others.

One of the others is a guy name Thrasymachus (pronounced: Thra-sym-a-cus)

Thrasymachus and Socrates get into a discussion of what Justice is.

Thrasymachus actually says that Justice is the advantage of the strong, meaning that the goal one should have is to get ahead and get what one wants and people who seek justice will hold back others and then the strong can get their way.

If you are familiar with Nietzsche, this was his view of morality too. Thrasymachus said it almost 2300 years before Nietzsche.

Socrates counters this, but he doesn't give a complete answer in the first chapter (or Book as each chapter is called).

The rest of the book is Socrates working out what justice is in dialogue with others.

The Republic was not the original title of the book. I was called "Paideia" which is Greek and means education or culture training.

The book is really about education and justice, but it got the name "The Republic" when the book was rediscovered by the Italian city-states that were Republics.

Anyway, in the Republic Plato describes what is called the Logos (he didn't call it that but his followers did.)

Everything stems downward from the Logos.

But Thrasymachus denies this and takes what we now call the post-Modern view that everything is relative and that justice and even logic is just something the strong use to control the rest of us.

You can see this in Marxism too, in what he calls ideology, which to Marx is just a justification the strong give to keep their power and control the week.

Nietzsche takes Thrasymachus view too with regard to Truth and the Logos---he denies that either Logos or Truth exist.

Right after Nietzsche came the Structualist which denied the Logos too.

Then came the Existentialist (Heidegger, Sartre, Camus) who largely were based on Nietzsche, but with a twist, and they also denied the Logos.

And then came the post-Modernist, especially Foucault and Derrida, who show how all knowledge is historic, contingent, and particular and also deny any Logos.

Plato had covered all this and more ideas. This is why the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said that all Western philosophy is just a footnote to Plato.

So these are the two views of knowledge. truth, beauty, and justice.

Take your pick.

Personally, I think the post-Modernist are right when dealing with particulars, historic, and contingent truths, such as history and science.

But for real Truth and Justice I'll stick with Plato.

The Anabaptist Jacques
 
One more thing that the article on Kant left out that is important.

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason was a response to the works of British philosopher David Hume.

If I failed to answer anything just asked again.

I may have lost track of the questions when I was giving all the important explanations and background date.

There will be a test on Friday.

The Anabaptist Jacques
 
One more thing that the article on Kant left out that is important.

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason was a response to the works of British philosopher David Hume.

If I failed to answer anything just asked again.

I may have lost track of the questions when I was giving all the important explanations and background date.

There will be a test on Friday.

The Anabaptist Jacques

Your approach has changed a bit, which is very good for those of us, (most of us?) who haven't read much western philosophy at all. I'm definitely a 101 student.

EDIT. That might not be accurate enough. There might be quite a few who have read philosophy, however you seem to have read a wide range and I'm guessing not many have done that.
 
Your approach has changed a bit, which is very good for those of us, (most of us?) who haven't read much western philosophy at all. I'm definitely a 101 student.

EDIT. That might not be accurate enough. There might be quite a few who have read philosophy, however you seem to have read a wide range and I'm guessing not many have done that.

Sill, there's going to be a test on Friday!

The Anabaptist Jacques
 

Gadfly

Crusader
One more thing that the article on Kant left out that is important.

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason was a response to the works of British philosopher David Hume.

If I failed to answer anything just asked again.

I may have lost track of the questions when I was giving all the important explanations and background date.

There will be a test on Friday.

The Anabaptist Jacques

Okay. Let me see if I got this right.

Hume was a staunch empiricist. Empiricism was the philosophy that most aligned with the discoveries and views of science (Newtonian science). Empiricism takes the view that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. Empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasizes evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.

While science was not based on Hume, or upon any other philosopher really, Hume's view was sort of a response to all the great advances in science, which were based on observations and direct experience of the behavior of the physical universe.

Note: I fully agree that when it comes to behaviors of things, physical, mental or emotional, OBSERVATION RULES! That is the correct path to gaining understanding.

Kant seems to have liked science, and needed to find a philosophy that explained and supported science, while at the same time did not destroy the views of innate ideas and a priori knowledge (ideas or things that exist BEFORE any experience) of the rationalists. For the rationalists the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive. Rationalists believe reality has an intrinsically logical structure. Because of this, rationalists argue that certain truths exist and that the intellect can directly grasp these truths - by thought alone, and without any need to refer to experience or perception.

So, to simplify, the Empiricists have the view that there is no sort of innate knowledge, and all ideas derive from perceptions and experience. The Rationalists have the view that there is innate knowledge and that ideas can be derived from mental processes alone (separate from experience and perception).

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that Kant liked (and disliked) ideas of BOTH and needed to find a way to reconcile the two?

He wanted to put together a philosophy that supported and aligned with science, but he also wanted to allow for things like God, the soul, and moral sense, which do NOT depend on experience and perception.

On the simplest level it is almost a mind-body dichotomy (grossly simplified). And Kant seems to have wanted to have his cake and eat it too.

Of course, I agree. Neither view alone is sufficient.

There are the worlds of physical and mental things, and they can only be grasped by careful observation. And, there seems to be ways or deep patterns that thought follows while interacting with these worlds. Kant calls some of these "categories". Mmm? I have the gut feeling that the correct way to understand these things is to observe them on their own turf (like eastern experimenters of the mind have done - Vedas, advanced meditation, etc.). I guess I have the view that the intellect is a lion in a cage, and that it is NOT capable or up to the task of such things. I suppose, what I am saying, and I would need a lot more space to so so adequately, this notion of rationalism may be an illusion, and will remain so until the tools of empiricism are aimed at the very mind and awareness which considers such things - through long and careful observation. Of course the biggest problem here is that the ONLY person who can observe a mind as it is, is any individual person. And unless they are very well trained in the skills of observation, I doubt they will do well.

I have been wanting to delve into this, because while I have read a shitload of philosophy over my lifetime, I did so quickly, and I failed to correctly grasp a great deal as I read through it. I know I really understand something when I can talk with it - on my toes. I can't really do that with the basic notions and authors of philosophy.

I will be back with on what you said above. I have questions . . . . many questions.:biggrin:

For example, a priori "knowledge". Philosophers talk on and on about it, as if it is important. While to me it seems to be ONLY a matter of definitions, logic systems and semantics. It seems to be much ado about nothing.

A priori knowledge or justification is independent of experience (for example "All bachelors are unmarried"). Galen Strawson wrote that an a priori argument is one in which "you can see that it is true just lying on your couch. You don't have to get up off your couch and go outside and examine the way things are in the physical world. You don't have to do any science."

I would have to take a better look at this, but the example above about bachelors (that you also gave earlier) is a tautology. It is true because it is definition. The understanding brings NOTHING "to the table". It is "empty" in terms of adding any understanding of anything (other than that of the definition).

All widows have a dead spouse.

Again, it is true, but so what? It is ONLY a definition.

What would be an a priori truth that is not a definition or tautology (that all philosophers would agree on)? :coolwink:
 
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