Monist Ontology and Materialism: Back to Descartes Essay

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Monist Ontology and Materialism: Back to Descartes

This author has reviewed our authorities with regard to epistemology and ontology with regard to the questions of whether or not matter exists and how we can have knowledge of the outside world. Although the authors may not have stated it quite clearly, due to our location in space time, it is unavoidable that we will frame our knowledge of the world based upon what we know from our senses that are connected to that world. Unlike Plato, these philosophers can not resort to perfect forms. Like it or not, in their view, we are what we eat so to speak. Until we can eat antimatter, we are of this physical universe and will inevitably analyze it by using the stuff we are made of and the senses that flow from it. Indeed, for our philosophers, the stuff we are made of is primarily what it is all about. To paraphrase a 1960's aphorism, materialism is "where it's at."

While materialism and the deductive reasoning that flows from it is very useful, on the down side scholars such as Piaget claim that only 35% have the capability for fully intellectual thought (Huitt). Materialism falls short on the inductive reasoning that the 65% of remaining humanity depends upon to function in our real world. It also creates a spiritual void that limits humanity to considerations of the material to the exclusion of all else. This is one reason that this author believes Rene Descartes could not abandon a belief on God such as Thomas Hobbes did across the English Channel.

In the course, we have examined Descartes in his Meditations I and II, George Berkeley in Does Matter Exist?, Bertrand Russell in Appearance and Reality, Mark Rowland, Edmund Husserl's Cartesian Meditations and Lorraine Code in What Can She Know? In fact, with regard to the first of these questions, Descartes seems to have wrestled with this the most on all of its physical and metaphysical levels in all of his Meditations. Everything from the existence of God and the soul to the existence of ourselves and physical matter hinges upon our attachment upon our physicality. Unfortunately for us as humans, the perfect philosophy that we aspire to almost requires the powers of God to achieve. The size of this issue was perceived by Plato when he created his idea of perfect forms. For him, he could not accept that this physical stuff that we were made. He needed perfect forms (almost in cold storage) that exist in heavenly ether somewhere that represent our existence as it should ideally be. Our philosophers instead took the intellectual dive and worked with their physicality to wrestle with basic questions about whether or not we exist and how we can know this as a fact in situ in the world in which we exist. The more modern of these generally limit what they know to what they can perceive directly or can be gathered via scientific instrumentality.

Indeed, these philosophers are radical in that they basically believe only in what they could experience with their senses. While it is impossible in a three page paper to fully explore the chain of transmission of knowledge, the product of it is truly clear and phenomenal. The materialism of present day Socialism and Communism as well as our modern scientific methodology flows directly out of similar ideas, although the tributary that they come through is Thomas Hobbes instead of Rene Descartes (indeed, one might argue that Thomas Hobbes is the link in the chain due to his denial of the divine). This type of analytical framework is necessary in our modern scientific world. In our chain of transmission, philosophers such as Bertrand Russell have reached the place of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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