Let's get this out of the way first.
26-20 OT MSU!!!
In class yesterday, we discussed more Hellenistic philosophy (a rehash of Greek ideas as philosopher Will Durant stated, really nothing new) especially the new branch of Skeptics led by Pyrrho and NeoPlatonism. The Greek noun, skepsis, means examination, inquiry or consideration. Apparently, the main thing that leads people down the road to skepticism is the wide range of disagreement on issues that are so fundamental to us: for instance, how much about the natural world can we really know or discover? The second question concerns the idea of making judgements whether in our day to day lives or on larger moral matters. 1
(Coach Dantonio says, "Wolverines, the road to Ann Arbor is THAT way.")
With skepticism, we have a very pessimistic (in this editor's opinion) outlook on life, but one I sort of agree with. I don't think that we'll ever know the total sum of knowledege or everythin there is to know about our natural world, mainly b/c it's so vast and constantly changing. But I also believe in the unconquerable mind / spirit of mankind to overcome the limits of its own ignorance and discover new things, cross new frontiers, and leap over boundaries that were thought never to be reached. If this seems contradictory, then so be it.
To quote Wikipedia on Pyrrho:
"The proper course of the sage, said Pyrrho, is to ask himself three
questions. Firstly we must ask what things are and how they are constituted.
Secondly, we ask how we are related to these things. Thirdly, we ask what
ought to be our attitude towards them. Pyrrho's answer was that things are
indistinguishable, unmeasurable, undecidable, and no more this than that, or
both this and that and neither this nor that. He concluded that human senses
neither transmit truths nor lie. Humanity cannot know the inner substance of
things, only how things appear."
His approach to things sounds like modern nihilism (all values are baseless, believe in nothing, have no loyalties and see no purpose in life maybe other than to destroy). Friedrich Nietzche was the most popular proponent of this school of thought - “Nihilism is . . . not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one’s shoulder to the plough; one destroys” (Will to Power). 2
Also on Friday, near the end of class, as we discussed what a soul is, we got into the concept of good and evil and making a judgement on right and wrong. Some of you voiced the concept (much like the Sophists in ancient Athens) that we can't make a judgement on individuals b/c even though they might have done wrong / evil, that person might have been thinking he/she was doing something good at the time. Immediately, we took the worst / best example of modern world of evil (Hitler and the Holocaust) and discussed the logic of not applying the concept of evil to what he and the Nazi party perpetrated on Europe during World War 2. We also used the concept of killing - is it ever justified? I defined a few cases in which I thought it was: self-defense, war (not innocents), and a couple of others I'm not remembering right now. Death penalty? In deciding whether or not to kill, I am exercising my judgement.
So, we have questions concerning our outlook on life.
1. Do we believe in the limits of the human mind, or the opaqueness of the universe? Or is there a different option?
2. Do you feel that it's important to use your judgement not only in just your day-to-day life, but in choosing your lifestyle (earth friendly?), or in deciding much larger matters like right and wrong or good and evil? Why?
-- if you answer no ->(At what level do you think your judgement should stop? Why?)
Due before class begins, Tuesday, October 6th. 200 words minimum.
Plus, you need to read The Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque chapters by the end of this coming week (October 5-9).
1. http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/s/skepanci.htm Ancient Greek Skepticism - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
2. http://www.iep.utm.edu/nihilism/ Nihilism - The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy