Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Blog #70 - Scale of Doubt

O.k., so we talked about how philosopher Rene Descartes had some serious doubts about the world around him.  He had discovered that some of his tried and true scientific wisdom about the solar system just weren't accurate anymore, because of the invention of better telescopes and compiled scientific evidence that didn't back up a geocentric world.  These new discoveries forced Descartes to really re-examine his entire life, all of the things that he took for granted.

He doubted his senses.  He doubted whether or not we could tell the difference between the waking world and the dream world.  He even wondered / worried that an Evil Genius might spent all of its time manipulating Descartes' world so that even MATH is incorrect.  But this is where he eventually pared it all down to his thinking process - someone, namely me, is doubting all this stuff.  That someone must be thinking.  Therefore, if I am thinking, I must exist.  That axiom, I cannot doubt.
Image result for rene descartes

So we get to the root of epistomology - how do we know what we know?  Descartes tackled this through reason.  Locke, Hume, and Berkeley tackle this question through our experiences and senses.  For this blog, you can use either reason or senses or both to answer the question.

A few days ago, we took the Scale of Doubt quiz, and you were asked to say yes, no, or maybe to the 13 following questions:

1. Do you believe that a particular religious tradition holds accurate knowledge of the ultimate nature of reality and the purpose of human life?

Image result for higher power2. Do you believe that some thinking being consciously made the universe?

3. Is there an identifiable force coursing through the universe, holding it together, or uniting all life-forms?

4. Could prayer be in any way effective, that is, do you believe that such a being or force (as posited above in question 3) could ever be responsive to your thoughts and words?

5. Do you believe this being or force can think or speak?

6. Do you believe this being has a memory or can make plans?

7. Does this force sometimes take a human form?

8. Do you believe that the thinking part or animating force of human being continues to exist after the body has died?

9. Do you believe that any part of a human being survives death, elsewhere or here on earth?

10. Do you believe that feelings about things should be admitted as evidence in establishing reality?

11. Do you believe that love and inner feelings of morality suggest that there is a world beyond biology, social patterns, and accidents --- i.e., a realm of higher meaning (metaphysical world)?

12. Do you believe that the world is not completely knowable by science?

13. If someone were to say, "The universe is nothing but an accidental pile of stuff, jostling around with no rhyme or reason, and life on earth is but a tiny, utterly inconsequential speck of nothing, in a corner of space, existing in the blink of an eye never to be judged, noticed, or remembered", would you say, "Now that's going a bit too far, that's a bit wrongheaded"?

Image result for nihilism

So, what I would like you to do are two things: 
1. Pick one of the questions above and explain why you answered yes, no, or maybe.  Provide specific details and reasoning.
2. Then, take the same question and argue the OPPOSITE of what you just answered for part 1.  If you answered maybe, then pick a side (yes or no) and go with that.  You don't have to necessarily believe in what you're arguing, just try to do it persuasively.  Also use specific examples / details and reasoning.

Due Friday April 28 by the beginning of class.  
300 words minimum total. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Problem of Evil Paper, Rubric, and Crash Course

Here is a link to the Problem of Evil paper -

Here is a link to the rubric for the paper.

Here is the episode of Crash Course Philosophy that we watched on Friday.

Paper is due Monday, April 24 by class.

Image result for depictions of evil

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Image result for depictions of evil 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Blog #69 - Some random thoughts on fate and free will

Last week, before watching the Adjustment Bureau, we talked about varying degrees of fate and free will and their connections to philosophers that we've studied so far.

Determinism - everything that occurs in life happens out of necessity, whether it is God's plan, the laws of nature, or something else's plan.  Or, in other words, every action that we take has something that came before it that triggered that action, whether external (out of our control) or internal (feelings, thoughts, experiences).

Hard Determinism - believes that Determinism is true and that as humans, we have no freedom.  Psychologists B.F. Skinner and Sigmund Freud believed in many respects that Hard Determinism is true and that humans are little machines who are slaves to our upbringing / conditioning (Skinner) or our conscious and unconscious desires (Freud).
  - One of the things that I said that I found problematic with HD is that we really aren't responsible for our actions if HD really is the case, because we have all been fated, if you will, to do the things we are going to do.  I feel that we need to be held responsible for our actions, to a great extent.
 - Another thought (new for this blog and not in notes) is that because we're all physical beings in a physical world, we are subject to physical or natural laws, and we can't change them.  Try to defy gravity.  I've tried it. I almost broke my ankle once when I was ten jumping off of the roof of my grandparents' garage. Image result for broken ankle  (not my ankle).

Soft Determinism - this occurs when there is an intersection of our will and our capacity to do something that we want.  We are free to the extent that we are able to get the things that we want.  If I wanted to date Heidi Klum but didn't have the capacity, then I wasn't really free.  If I had the capacity or ability to ask Heidi Klum out on a date, and I met her (let's say I was hanging out at a taping of Project Runway, non-stalker like), I would be free to ask her out.  But that doesn't mean I have the freedom to actually go out with her, because that would also require her consent.  So, my freedom is very limited in this sense.
Free Will & Determinism
• Universal Determinism: position that states every event that takes place is caused by some condition beforehand even if you are or are not aware of all conditions or events. If you were to repeat the same moment under the...
  - St. Augustine, an early Catholic Church father and once prodigal son, felt that our free will (within God's plan) can lead us to sin if we deviate from His plan.
  - The Hellenist philosophers, the Stoics, believed that we should be happy with what we get, since they believe that to fight the laws of nature is futile.

Indeterminism - Determinism is wrong and there could be a few different options:
  a. In life, there are only random events.
  b. In life, some events are random, some we have choices over.
  c. Some things are uncaused (or we don't know or understand the cause)
  d. Some events are caused by not necessary (I gave the example of heavy smoking causes cancer).

A branch of Indeterminism is called Libertarianism, rejects determinism and states that everyone has free will, and regardless of the circumstances or parameters, you still have a choice.  This is something that Existentialist philosophers, most notably Jean-Paul Sartre, believe in.  We are truly free as long as we have options to choose from - latte, mocha, coffee, frappaccino?

Below is the Crash Course episode on Determinism vs. Free Will. Enjoy.  It may frustrate you.

So, after watching the Crash Course video, The Adjustment Bureau, and reading over some of the thoughts listed above, what are your views on determinism vs. free will?  Are you buying Hank Green's argument about hard determinism?  Is our free will just an illusion?  Or are you o.k. with God's plan (if that's what you believe) or just rolling with the flow (if that's your belief)?  Do you believe in free will despite what Hank is saying?
Please provide some specific examples from either CC, Adjustment Bureau, the thoughts above, and your own life.

Thanks for reading.  Due Thursday, April 20th by the beginning of class.  250 words minimum. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Review for Hellenism, Christianity, Renaissance, and Baroque Test

Review for the Hellenism, Christianity, Renaissance, and Baroque Test - Wednesday, April 19 -

Crash Course - Anselm and Ontological Argument for God.

Crash Course - Aquinas and the Cosmological Arguments for God

Crash Course - Intelligent Design / Teleological Argument for God