Study "Philosophy / Logic / Reason" Essays 56-110

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Value of Studying Philosophy? Essay

… But if common sense is not 'truth,' then will philosophy yield absolute truth? Russell admits that "philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves" (Russell, Chapter 15). Philosophy should not be viewed as a goal-directed exercise -- indeed, one of its values is that it is not goal-directed, but instead is useful in forcing us to question our goals, such as the notion that monetary success is the most important achievement to which we can aspire or that our race is superior to all other races.

Exercising philosophy sharpens our intellects and by asking us to question what makes us fully human, we become more fully human -- we become thinking and critical individuals. Even if there is no final 'end' to philosophy, it is like a sporting exercise for the mind -- we emerge fitter and more intellectually ready to take on the practical, everyday challenges everyone faces, including philosophers. "The mind which has become accustomed to the freedom and impartiality of philosophic contemplation will preserve something of the same freedom and impartiality in the world of action and emotion" (Russell, Chapter 15).

Philosophy encourages what is often called 'mindfulness' -- a critical assessment of our own thinking patterns and processes, and those of others. Philosophers are not 'above' emotions but they are not slaves to them, if they use philosophy correctly. And rather than being inactive, they are able to act in a more purposeful fashion, rather than purely responding on a level of gut emotions and prejudices.

Work Cited

Russell Bertram. The Problem of Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 1959. [17… [read more]

Philosophy Matrix II Ancient Quest Essay

… In 250 to 500 words, explain how Plato and Aristotle built on pre-Socratic philosophy.

Historical review of human knowledge shows, at least in part, an unsteady progression from myth to half-scientific, half-philosophical thoughts to philosophy, culminating in the teachings of Plato and Aristotle and beyond them in the teachings of Plotinus (Copleston, 1993, p. 17). Pre-Socratic Philosophers such as Pythagorus, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Melissus, Zeno and Anaxagoras rejected mythological explanations of life and beyond, choosing to explore the rational explanations about the "essence" of things. As a result, Pre-Socratic philosophers, posed questions, posited theories, borrowed from each other, expanded on each other's theories and often disagreed. This early Greek Philosophy continued to develop until it "flowered in the two great philosophies of Plato and Aristotle" (Copleston, 1993, p. 10). Plato and Aristotle considered theories of Pre-Socratic philosophers and rejected, explained, synthesized and incorporated elements of those theories as they saw fit. Plato built on Pre-Socratic Philosophy's stress of the rational and moral by his expanded theories of knowledge in 4 steps along a divided line (Copleston, 1993, p. 151), his Doctrine of Forms (Copleston, 1993, p. 165), which were deemed an "enormous advance" on prior pre-Socratic theories (Copleston, 1993, p. 201), and his theory of morality that expanded prior thought to point to "an absolute moral code" (Copleston, 1993, p. 223). Aristotle built on Pre-Socratic Philosophy by further synthesizing the Doctrine of Forms (Copleston, 1993, p. 52), developing his First Principle (Copleston, 1993, p. 283) and Theory of Ethics (Copleston, 1993, p. 332), for several examples. In sum, the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle are deemed an early and highly significant culmination of human thought's progression from myth to philosophy (Copleston, 1993, p. 17).

Works Cited

Aristotle. (2002). Metaphysics. Santa Fe, NM: Green Lion Press.

Copleston, F. (1993). A history of Philosophy, Vol. 1: Greece and Rome: From the Pre-Socratics to Plotinus. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Cornford,… [read more]

Scientific Explanation Essay

… Once philosophers started to see scientific knowledge as the only real knowledge, and Frege's new logic - which promised to become the new scientific language - became more widely known, there were few remaining philosophical tasks; foremost was to describe… [read more]

Reason in Promoting Happiness John Essay

… Highly different from this view is the belief in hedonism, one which Epicurus is a proponent of. Epicureanism believes in linking happiness to pleasure, unlike the beliefs of Plato, where Plato attributes pleasure as a separate element and unnecessary to achieving happiness. Pleasure as defined in Epicurus' manner is the gaining of knowledge of one's desires and an understanding of the world's nature. This pleasure constitutes tranquility and absence of physical turmoil (Epicurus uses "ataraxia" and "aponia" to describe these two elements); therein pleasure becomes an intrinsic good. Unlike Annas' views of achievement as an overall stepping stone toward attaining happiness, Epicurus would find gratification of such as those aforementioned (money, fame, glory) to be steps toward happiness. In this manner, Annas' philosophical arguments would clash with those of Epicurus.

3. The Thought Experiment and the Experience Machine

Robert Nozick attempts to refute the argument of hedonism -- and utilitarianism in this case -- with his thought experiment. According to Nozick, happiness is not attainable by the hedonistic views of individual and subjective pleasure. Through his thought experiment, Nozick chose to disprove that pleasure is the end result to a means of happiness. The thought experiment brings about the question that, given there is a machine exhibiting such qualities as to produce the most favorable human experiences, whether the person would choose to stay plugged into the "experience machine" or to return to a more realistic experience. In this aspect, Nozick reasons that a utilitarian view would lead to a person being perpetually plugged into the machine, always feeling the pleasurable emotions believed to bring about extreme happiness, in accordance to hedonistic views.

In this respect, Nozick gives three arguments as to why people would opt out of being plugged into an "experience machine." One reason is that people are more prone to wanting to take pleasure in not only the experience of the act, but in the act itself. Another of his reasons states that humans are plagued with ethical and moral implications that allow them to determine what decisions make them a certain type of person. And the third reason puts a limit to the "experience machine," stating that a machine can only go so far as to the limits of one's idealized reality -- eventually making a monotone set of experiences, no variance possible. In-so-doing, Nozick argues against the likes of Epicurus that pleasure is not the all-encompassing ends to attaining happiness. Like Annas and Kekes, Nozick finds the validity in an experience out of one's actions. A fully encompassing set of experiences and actions in one's life makes for true… [read more]

Freedom and Reason According to Kant Essay

… Freedom and Reason According to Kant

Immanuel Kant's perspective in regard to the connection between reason and freedom is particularly controversial, as the Prussian philosopher considered that being purely rational is basically the same as being free. It is certainly… [read more]

Philosophy Final Soccio's Archetypes Essay

… It strikes me that any kind of large scale meliorist scheme for society is required to have a level of emotional appeal -- or rather, it strikes me that without any emotional appeal, Utilitarianism can only impress people in a superficial sort of way. Jeremy Bentham seems to have anticipated various modern positions on things (such as homosexuality) precisely because he did not understand the objections to it were largely emotive (based on disgust and contempt, as Martha Nussbaum would later note, rather than on the older religious logic of Aquinas which had associated sodomy with heresy). Utilitarianism seems to encapsulate the limits of rationality, rather than give a sense of its grandeur. This became far more obvious when Soccio reached the subject of contemporary practitioners of Utilitarian philosophy, and had to discuss Peter Singer and his "relentless application of utilitarian principles" (Soccio 532). The fact is that Singer seems to me a seriously overrated thinker, more given to shock tactics than serious thought. A philosophical Pragmatist would look at Singer and, recalling William James' observation that "inquiry is always interest," would inquire what Singer's own investment in his fervently-propagandized and bizarre Utilitarian prescriptions for society must be. This is fascinating, because in his biography Singer is the child of Holocaust survivors who has himself been characterized as a Nazi by disabled activists in Germany, based on his "Utilitarian" positions on euthanasia, disability and other subjects. It strikes me that he is more likely acting out a personal drama.

Finally, in conclusion, I think the largest thing I took away from Soccio's account of philosophy was a sense of what I would term "intellectual modesty." So many of the philosophers in Soccio are willing to concede what they do not know: Berkeley's idealism in which the reality of the world may be in question, Hume's critique of epistemology which asks how we know that the sun is definitely going to rise tomorrow. Other philosophers in Soccio are deliberately modest or even invisible, like Kierkegaard hiding behind pseudonyms. Philosophy in practice reminds us of the voice of that oracle who said "no man is wiser than Socrates" (Soccio 103). The reason was that Socrates alone was willing to admit his own total ignorance -- he was willing to adopt the pose, seemingly, of a Pyrrhonian skeptic towards his own ideas, and proceeded by questions rather than answers. The importance of Socrates -- and of philosophy in general -- seems to consist in this kind of modesty. It is fascinating to note much later that Hegel is derided as a "system-builder," and Marx is represented as Hegel's chief heir -- suggesting that system-building in philosophy can ultimately be constructed into an ideology or dogma. It is the avoidance of dogma, while maintaining intellectual flexibility, that characterizes the "intellectually modest"… [read more]

Philosophy Today the Final Chapter Term Paper

… This approach to ethics is also something that Soccio brings out in his discussion of Carol Gilligan, and it seems to me that Gilligan's arguments are persuasive and useful in understanding gender difference. To a certain degree, the arguments that I have made against Singer represent a version of Gilligan's critique: she has noted that women's instinctive approach to epistemological and ethical matters differs from men's, and that it represents "other ways of knowing." Gilligan criticizes a survey of "moral reasoning" that relied on an all-male survey population, and points out that female methods of moral reasoning may not be as centered on the kind of abstract utilitarian rationalism that marks Singer's hypothetical. It strikes me that Gilligan's point is extremely valid, partly because I think any philosophical stance which increases our capacity for pluralism is probably a good thing. Whether gendered or not, I would suggest that "other ways of knowing" need to be taken seriously.

Finally I also found Soccio's account of Martha Craven Nussbaum to be relevant. I find Nussbaum's revival of Classical philosophy more persuasive than Singer's revival of Utilitarianism, and I was moved by Nussbaum's definition of the philosopher's role as somewhere between a doctor and a lawyer. I can also think of no better reason to take Gilligan seriously than Nussbaum's account of how, early in her career, sexism was still endemic enough in academic circles that a colleague could congratulate her on her appointment to his department with the world's most highfalutin way of calling her a whore -- once I understood what precisely was said, I was horrified by it. Yet Nussbaum's vision seems focused on improving things, rather than perpetuating a culture of victimization and complaint. Instead she seeks therapies and remedies. When Nussbaum states that "[The Epicureans and Stoics]…saw the philosopher as a compassionate physician whose arts could heal many pervasive types of human suffering," I find that to be one of the most attractive visions of what philosophy can be that I have encountered in this course (Soccio 538). In particular I found Nussbaum's vision of the philosopher's role to be reminiscent of the philosopher I was most drawn to in all of the readings from Soccio, William James. The notion that ideas of truth are measured in real-world accomplishment which is the heart of Jamesian pragmatism seems just a realistic depiction of a uniquely American way of looking at things. But it is also James' capacity for compassion, and his willingness to consider things like religion in terms of their capacity to "heal human suffering" (as Nussbaum puts it), which makes his pluralistic and optimistic philosophy… [read more]

Marx's Philosophy on Labor Term Paper

… 2).

3. Man as a Species-Being

For the arguments against capitalism and estrangement to collude, Marx reasons that humans are "species-beings," wherein they "look upon [themselves] as the present, living species, because [they] look upon [themselves] as universal and therefore free beings" (Marx, p. 4). As a species-being, humans are separate from the animals by the nature of being "free beings." Whereas animals live for the barest necessities, humans become unique wherein they can "feel themselves." That is, they can freely choose to feel pleasure, unhappiness, happiness, and other emotions thereof. Capitalistic labor, however, hinders this "free feeling," especially when the worker has deleted himself of the emotions with regards to the labor at hand.

When a laborer begins to estrange himself from his work -- through a denial of the self and the miserable outlook of the labor -- then the worker has been stunted in the process of "feeling himself." He does not feel for the job; his happiness is determined only at home when he is not working, and when he is working, he is at a point of unhappiness. The labor itself becomes "not a satisfaction of a need but a mere means to satisfy needs outside itself" (Marx, p. 3). This labor no longer becomes a voluntary form of labor, but one of involuntary forms, one which can be attributed to "forced labor." Thus one can conclude that this would result in alienation and the spiritual disappearance of the human as a "species-being."

4. Conclusive Application of Communism

The estrangement of the worker can be summarized as thus in accordance to Marx's law of political economy: the worker's increase of production leads inherently to the worker's dehumanization. The more value placed on the object, the less important the worker becomes; the more the worker objectifies his work, the less "soul" the worker has in creating the products. For Marx, capitalism leads to this spiritual loss, indicating that the worker is losing himself and becoming the "slave of nature" (Marx, p. 2). Through capitalism, a worker is granted capital that can enable him to fulfill the necessary animalistic concerns of survival: eating, sleeping in a particular territory, keeping warm within a hygienic environment, etc. Perhaps even the basest urges are also satisfied, but to what means and what purpose? Surely then humanity becomes more animalistic in this capitalistic world.

This, then, leads to the argument for capitalism, and not technically against. Communism dictates a classless society with common ownership, an equal ownership of products and labor. This would solve not only the division of rich and poor, but it would ideally allow workers the return of their spiritual realizations. However, would not the idea of a classless, monogamous society strictly dehumanize the idea of man as a "species-being"? Would not the idea of a spiritually "free-thinking" individual be more in tune with the capitalistic society, purely because of the desire of that individual to rise above and produce to the best of his abilities? Is that… [read more]

Communication Evaluating the Effectiveness Essay

… Even when it is called an argument and is between two people over a back fence, the debate has an informal structure that starts with a statement of terms. While the debate is going, since it is sometimes difficult to recall the specific details of the original proposition, a restatement of the topic may be necessary. "At its simplest, restatement involves nothing more that repeating the main idea" (Kane 1988: 81). In most debates, this is done many times as the opponents try to make sure that they are being heard and that the definition of the debated topic is clear. The structure is then completed when someone summarizes the position. "A summary speaker has been compared to 'a biased news reporter', going over the various arguments that have already been made but implying that your side has won them all" (Sather 1999: 9). Even in the basest "arguments" this is true. It may be done while storming off, but a summary statement or gesture is made.

A formal debate also often involves more than one person per side and they must know what the debate is about and trust the others engaged on their side to state the question clearly. Thinking of a political debate, politicians need to understand that they can trust the others on their team to agree with the basic premise that is being proposed. Without some trust in the people who will be forwarding the argument, it will break down (Kee 2006: 13). Of course, debate does not have to be a team exercise, but it is best if others can bring points that one alone may not think about. Also, other people may have strengths that one person will not possess that could present the topic better (Kee 2006: 13).

Oftentimes, even the simplest of questions will be debated, and for that debate to be successful it needs to have some certain elements. The people involved must be prepared, understand that there are two sides to the issue, and they have to follow a logical structure or they are not going to be successful in their attempt. Debates of this sort are an effective means of communication mainly because they follow a logical path that it is difficult to counter.

However, the debater must be prepared to consider the other side. Even in preparation, some points may be missed. If this is the case and the other debater makes a strongly relevant case, then true communication only happens when the other side of the proposition acknowledges this. Debate as a form of communication may be foreign to many people because they have determined that they are not going to listen to what is said and that they are going to just thrust their particular opinion at the other person. However, communication being a two way street, this is where debate breaks down and pure argument begins. Thus, for debate to be an effective form of communication, it has to be an agreed upon two-way… [read more]

Wo Quine's Modal Logic Term Paper

… Modal realism, as explicated by David Lewis in his work on the Plurality of Worlds, concerns the infinity of possibilities. On Lewis's view, there are infinite possibilities of worlds, where an infinite number of individuals are living an infinite amount… [read more]

Philosophy of Religion Essay

… Philosophy of Religion

Throughout the past years there have been attempts by various religious followers to put forward a proof of God's, this included not only Christian philosophers but also the Jewish and Muslim philosophers, which has led to the… [read more]

Continental Philosophy Essay

… Continental Philosophy

With the objective of describing the historical development surrounding continental philosophy's existentialism and phenomenology as a response to Hegelian idealism, I believe that it is fitting to first provide an overview of the ideas of Hegel. What indeed, is this Hegelian idealism?

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel is indisputably one of the many important thinkers of Western philosophy. He has influenced the works of many succeeding thinkers -- Karl Marx is notably one of them (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2006). He belonged in a distinct period in philosophy known as "German idealism," which is Germany's response to the period of Enlightenment.

Hegel argued against Kant's philosophy of the inescapability of human ignorance. Instead, he maintained that the realization of fullest human potentials is not through the determined processes of the mind but through dialectics; of free and reflective intellects (Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2008a). Hegel's dialectics, or the dialectical activity of the human mind is centered on the idea that every concept has an opposite, a result of this conflict is the synthesis of ideas. This synthesis is placed on the domain of higher level of truth. Moreover, Hegel's idealism maintains that through evolution, the human mind shall arrive at the highest level of awareness and freedom -- the realization of its fullest human potential (Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2008b).

Given this nature of thought, a response to Hegelian idealism came in the form what is now known as Continental philosophy. Within this broad array of thought, we can find its many strands: existentialism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, deconstruction and critical theory (faxed material, date). This article shall focus on existentialism and phenomenology, particularly its principal contributors and specific issues it entails.


Existentialism faces the fact that existential predicament may not be solved. If we do not accept this fact much honesty this kind of fact, then life is headed towards deterioration. If we do not struggle with problems that envelope our very existence, then we will not find the meaning and value of life. These rather dark truths have long been espoused by thinkers such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Soren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche as a response to the optimism found in Hegelian idealism, i.e. that human mind is in constant progression towards total freedom and realization of its potentials (ibid).

Kierkegaard objected Hegel's stance on the rationality of things as the former emphasized that the world is defined by irrationalities -- the world is a place where suffering, death, and dread are inescapable. Hence, the utility of philosophy must lie on its ability to speak to the anguished individual living in this irrational world and at the same time confronted by decisions that need to be made (ibid).

Nietzsche, having been influenced by the ideas of Arthur Schopenhauer, also… [read more]

Educational Philosophy Statement Thesis

… Educational Philosophy Statement

What do you think is real, true, good, beautiful and logical?

The English poet John Keats wrote in his poem entitled "Ode to a Grecian Urn": "Beauty is truth, truth beauty, -- that is all / Ye… [read more]

Universals in Medieval Philosophy Essay

… ¶ … Universals in medieval philosophy

How do we know something is always, universally true and applicable to every single situation in an unerring and absolute manner? This is one of the oldest problems in philosophy, known as the problem of the 'universals.' In medieval philosophy, this formulation was specifically configured by Boethius to posit the apparent paradox that nothing can be 'universal' because it is never isolated from other parts of things that affect its nature. In other words, everything exists only 'in context.' According to Boethius, a universal has to conform to several particulars. It must exist "in its entirety, and not only in part," that is, as a self-contained substance, "simultaneously, and not in a temporal succession," in other words, it should not be reliant upon a certain and specific series of causes and "it should constitute the substance of its particulars" in other words, it should be unadulterated.

Universals are the primary propositions of deductive logic, for example: Socrates is a man, all men are mortal, and therefore Socrates is mortal. However, while this proposition is a universal validity within the construct created by the person writing the syllogism, and it is perfectly possible to create a deductive syllogism based upon a universal in abstract philosophy, whether universals exist in the 'real world' still remains an open and far-from decided question. After all, "If no perfect example of a member of a universal exists in the world of experience, how can people be able to judge what fits into a universal and what does not? In short, how do people learn about universals if not through experience? Plato said that universals have a real existence independent of human beings and that the individual soul 'experiences' these universals, of 'forms' in the special realm in which the soul resides before birth. The individual is then born with a 'memory' of these forms. In short, Plato argued that people are born with innate patterns of thought and what we were capable of apprehending through these categories constituted universal knowledge." The Medieval scholastics extended upon this line of thinking in what eventually became a debate between rationalists and nominalist theologians. The Realists said that certain Platonic universal truths and substances did exist, while the Nominalists said that the idea of a universal was merely a name or 'nomen' that people gave to a category of what was really subjective experience. In short, calling… [read more]

Plato the Failure of Rationalism: A Response Term Paper

… Plato

The failure of rationalism: A response to Plato and Descartes

In the "Republic," the ancient Greek rationalist Socrates admits that, to a great extent, his vision of an ideal society is just that -- an ideal. The concept of… [read more]

My Philosophy of Nonviolence Term Paper

… Philosophy of Nonviolence

It is tragic that even in these advanced times, violence is still so prevalent in our society. While the most prominent recent example of this is the 9/11 attacks, violence is a worldwide phenomenon, particularly in the political arena, and particularly where certain sectors of society find themselves oppressed. Sadly, examples are almost too numerous to choose from. Indeed, it appears that in most cases of oppression, violence is seen as the means of solving the problem. In turn, the problem with violence is however that it escalates, resulting in a large amount of lost lives and tragedy that often overshadows the initial purpose of the fight. In solution to this, Martin Luther King suggests his philosophy of nonviolence, based upon his study of Gandhi's philosophical work. Indeed, nonviolence creates a much more powerful form of resistance than violence, because it focuses on friendship rather than enmity. The former accomplishes goals much more effectively than the latter.

What is particularly interesting about King's philosophy is the suggestion that nonviolence is not a passive act of surrender, but rather an active force towards reconciliation rather than escalating violence. Indeed, the 9/11 attacks have proven King's point: violence in response to violence leads only to further violence, and little is resolved as a result.

Furthermore, violence cultivates resistance. The reason for this is that violence is born from resistance in the first place. As such, violence and resistance go hand-in-hand in their cumulative effect. Interestingly, nonviolence has the same cumulative effect, but in a much more positive way. This positive paradigm is what King promoted in his philosophy of nonviolence. When violence is used as a means of resisting political oppression, terrorism, or other unacceptable phenomena, the escalation could lead to widescale atrocities such as riots or further terrorism. This is highly undesirable, particularly from the point-of-view of those aiming for political or social change such as Martin Luther King. Indeed, violent events tend to remove the focus from the atrocity of oppression and… [read more]

Asian Philosophy Term Paper

… Eastern Philosophy

Think. Don't Think. From the beginning this has been one of the primary differences between Eastern and Western Philosophy. Generally Western systems attempt to think and rationalize a system of philosophy based on experience and create a logic theory on the meaning of life. In Eastern philosophy, thinking is part of the discursive mind and clouds the actual perception of reality, so don't think, experience. In the West experience is explained in words, in the East, words are slowly pealed away so one can experience reality directly. Think. Don't Think. In fact the Taoist text, the Tao Te Ching, opens with the following, "The Way that can be told is not the Unvarying Way, the names that can be named are not the unvarying names." (Morre 149) So, in essence, words always fall short of the true meaning of experience. Eastern philosophy must be felt and experienced rather than thought about. In these philosophies there is not just the mind but the heart-mind from which understanding comes, something the west has separated into two distinct entities. It is intelligence vs. emotion instead of a combination of the two when talking about philosophy.

One of these particular concepts is one that is also difficult to translate correctly and that is wu-wei. Initially a Taoist concept, wu-wei si commonly transliterated as inaction, but I believe this allows for a mistaken perception regarding the term. The concept does not seem to call for no activity or no action, but something else more in line with the idea that one should "avoid the error of overdoing" (Morre 150) and flow like the Tao in all things. Perhaps translated using the word, effortlessness, gives one a better understanding of the term. Without thinking… [read more]

Kant and Mills Moral Philosophy Term Paper

… Kant and Mills Moral Philosophy

Deontological vs. Consequentialist Ethics

The philosophers Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill proposed two opposite definition of ethics. Thus, Kant believes that the only thing that can be called 'good' in itself is the 'good will', that is, the abstract principle from which a certain action is derived. According to Kant, neither the action itself nor the consequences or the results of the action can be considered as good. His argument is that good can be many times the outcome of a self-interested action or of a person's conformity with his or her duty. The will to do good, the intention or the idea that leads to the moral law are the main grounds for morality: "It is impossible to conceive of anything at all in the world...which can be taken as good without qualification, except a good will." (Kant, 61) in Kant's view it would be therefore illogical to consider that good in itself can exist in any other form than in the abstract human will. Consequently, the purpose of an action cannot have any moral worth; it is only the maxim that dictates the action which can be considered truly good: "An action done from duty has its moral worth not in the purpose to be attained by it, but in the maxim in accordance with which it is decided upon." (Kant, 67-68) Only the abstract idea or concept that determine the moral law can be termed good: "Nothing but the idea of the law in itself, which admittedly is present only in a rational being, -so far as it and not an expected result is the ground determining the will- can constitute the pre-eminent good which we call moral..."(Kant, 69)

Mill, on the other hand, maintains just the opposite view on ethics: he states that the quality of any act stands in it 'utility', that is, its ability to promote or induce happiness on oneself or on the others. The philosopher thus equates ethics with the result or the purpose of a certain action: "Actions are right in proportion as they promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness."(Mill, 7) to guard from a possible misunderstanding, Mill proposes that man, through his superior nature, automatically pursues only higher kinds of pleasure and would never be content… [read more]

Philosophical Ideals and Contributions to Philosophical Thought Term Paper

… ¶ … philosophical ideals and contributions to philosophical thought by the following: a: David Hume b: Aristotle c: Spinoza/Lao Tsu d: Immanuel Kant e: John Stuart Mill a: David Hume had a profound effect on philosophical and political ideas in… [read more]

Kant Critique of Pure Reason Immanuel Term Paper

… Kant


Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is the great thinker's most critically acclaimed work but the reason for that lies not with the metaphysical content of the book but the critique of metaphysics that it generated. That Kant was a supporter of metaphysics is an indisputable fact but that didn't stop him from criticizing metaphysics where criticism was due. He felt that metaphysics as it was understood in his days did not offer a secure path for science.

In other words, he argued that since metaphysics was too concerned with priori or knowledge that mind just knows, it fails to connect with analytic knowledge that science believes in. For example when we say that 2+2=4, we don't really need two books and two pencils or any four objects to conclude that 2 added to 2 would be four, our mind happens to know this. This is called a priori but science doesn't accept this priori without evidence. It believes in posteriori where we see something to establish its existence. For example when we say that sun is yellow and big, we cannot say that our mind just knew it. Our mind learned this after it had seen the sun outside. A person who for example has never seen the sun wouldn't believe us unless we take him outside and show him the sun. That is science and the fact that metaphysics has failed to establish a connection between the two is why Kant felt that metaphysics did not provide a secure path to science.

In almost the same manner, science fails to connect with metaphysics since it believes in tangible objects. Critiquing metaphysics, Kant wrote that though metaphysics is 'the Queen of all the sciences' (Aviii), the part of it where reason should dwell 'is perpetually being brought to a stand' (Bxiv). This means that reason has not been given a place in metaphysics that focuses too heavily on knowledge or priori. Kant further presents the most basic premise: 'Hitherto it has been assumed that all our knowledge must conform to objects', but since this view had failed to establish any link with metaphysical knowledge, we 'must therefore make trial whether we may not have more success in the tasks of metaphysics, if we suppose that objects must conform to our knowledge...We should then be proceeding precisely on the lines of Copernicus' primary hypothesis', this being the hypothesis of heliocentrism" (Bxvi).

Kant was of the view that reason is important for the establishment of truth. If metaphysics fails to open its knowledge to criticism, it cannot be established as a true science. The only way metaphysics and science can connect is through open examination. It is examination of the truths of any field or branch of study that renders it true or untrue as the case may be. It is this thorough examination that brings greater respect to a field as Kant puts it:

Our age is, in… [read more]

Naturalist Claims About the Universe Term Paper

… Philosophy

Traditional Naturalist Claims: The Problems Therein

Naturalism is the philosophical position most often advocated by humanists, scientists, and -- obviously -- naturalists. They would have us believe, in the spirit of the 7th century Greek philosopher Thales, that the… [read more]

Compare and Contrast the Differing Definitions of Critical Term Paper

… ¶ … integrating critical as well as thinking. But several earlier conceptualizations try to concentrate primarily on the process of thinking and avoid its important qualifier, i.e of critical. Hence they tend to give over importance to the process of… [read more]

Philosophies of Life: Personal Term Paper

… Without this, one definitely runs the risk of being a kind of blind zealot, hedonist, sycophant, or fearful lackey -- none of which would make "choosing life" rather than a Camus-like despair much of an option.

Clearly most that hold a strictly "religious" life philosophy or sense of identity may bristle at the assertion that their beliefs may be grounded in much more diverse origins and sources than the traditionally "sacred" ones they hold dear, simple reality seems to support the hybrid model. After all, although many might imagine that they act wholly from lofty motives, most, if not all humans are the products of their environment (particularly with regard to culture), materialistic, and even hedonistic urges. Should anyone wish to refine their personal philosophies of life, perhaps they should subject themselves to some kind of deep inquiry, after all -- it was good enough for Socrates.

Works Cited

Locke, John. "Some Thoughts Concerning Education." 1693. Retrieved from Web site on May 3, 2005<

Hassad, Craig J. "Depression: dispirited or spiritually deprived?" Medical Journal of Australia. 2000. Web site. Retrieved on May 3, 2005<

Todd, Oliver. "Albert Camus: A Life." Knopf. New York. 1997. [read more]

Francis Bacon's Philosophy Regards the Reorganization Term Paper

… ¶ … Francis Bacon's philosophy regards the reorganization of the study of science and its potential to amplify a nation's relationship with, and understanding of, God. Solomon's House within "The New Atlantis" exemplifies this relationship, specifically with respect to the… [read more]

Philosophy the Greek Philosopher Plato Term Paper

… Augustine, and Taylor.

Locke and Aristotle argue that subsistence to intellectual development shall lead to material progress, a precursor to achieving social progress in human society. Locke demonstrates how the institutionalization of human society serves to temper the desires of humans to accumulate more property and create an imbalance in humanity's properties and resources, while Aristotle's belief in reason and empiricism advocates a learned society that only pursues personal development at the expense of social harmony.

Plato, Rousseau, and St. Augustine echoes Taylor's criticism of the rationalized society in the modern world, wherein the pursuit for intellectual development in order to achieve social progress is achieved at the expense of losing the individual's meaning as a human being. For these philosophers, if rationalization of society means losing the essence of being human by hindering his/her ability to discover and realize his/her potentials and capabilities in life, then social progress will also cease to happen in the modern society. Thus, the path towards rationalization takes into account the individual and his/her interaction with other people in the society. [read more]

Black Studies - Philosophy the Value Term Paper

… Black Studies - Philosophy

The value of Philosophy

Every human thought, emotion and action is aimed at adapting to the external environment. However, we as human being do not simply adapt to the environment by controlling the environment, rather we try to find the underlying reason for human existence. The main value in philosophy lies that it engages students in disciplined and imaginative thinking about the philosophical questions that arise naturally in the course of human existence. As human being are not exceptional and in order to become better, we need the influence of souls that are superior to our own. Therefore, it becomes critical for us to study and critically reflect on the readings of Aristotle, Plato, Aquinas, Kant, Dostoyevsky, et al.

By reading these classics, we find that reflection and human thinking about the existence of life is a century's old perennial question.

Philosophy seeks answers to the ultimate questions we ask about God, the universe, and human existence. Philosophy does not claim to know the final answers to all these questions, but it does provide insights for all who reflect seriously on these fundamental issues. The aim of the philosophy thus becomes to analyze arguments and assess the value of various claims to knowledge. As a systematic discipline, philosophy develops an integral view of the world, with a special focus on the human person. As an ethical discipline, philosophy presents an account of the rational principles, which ought to guide one's moral life.

One aim of studying philosophy relies to reason the outlook… [read more]

Philosophy Don't Dream Term Paper

… " (The Republic) This metaphor was powerfully recreated in the first Matrix movie, in which all of reality was a computer program that a few brave souls go surpass. So Socrates suggests constant thought and vigilance to seek out the world beyond our perception, to see the light beyond that cave of the universe, and to release our bodies from the prisons of their cells.

Yet the unexamined life may not be as imprisoning as Socrates seems to think. Many authors, such as David Abram of the Sensuous Life, speak of the vital and mystical importance of the physical. Socrates, it must be remembered, was generally opposed to the physical and placed it far behind the philosophical in importance. Yet for many millennia before that the wise were those who understood intuitively how to comprehend nature itself. What if the "unexamined life" is not ignorance, but rather a refusal to fill one's head with vain thoughts of some metaphysical reality beyond that which is both spiritual and present. Socrates seems to elevate thinking and examining to a place where it is the pinnacle of all human interactions with the world, yet the possibility exists that humans can just as appropriately approach the world through sensing and feeling and intuiting. What makes examining and dissecting any better than feeling and absorbing? The mere self-congratulatory thoughts of the examiner? Even Socrates will say that "such a one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?... before his eyes had become steady ... would he not be ridiculous?" (Republic) Is it possible that the sun at which such a man looks is not our natural element, and that he does not become enlightened by seeing it, but only blind and ridiculous? Perhaps, like nocturnal animals we were created for darkness and not for light -- would it not be foolish for a bat to try to hunt during the day, or a coyote to sing to the sun? What then makes it wise for a man to try to seek this sun of truth when he was born with eyes for the darkness of the… [read more]

Hume's Problem of Induction David Term Paper

… However, arguing for the inductive rule on the basis of (unproven) induction is a circular argument which cannot be considered valid. If, as Hume suspects, induction does not work, than how can anything be proved inductively -- let alone the… [read more]

Philosophy Nietzsche Often Identified Life Term Paper

… In exploring the extent and limits of human understanding, David Hume arrives at the conclusion that justification for many common beliefs about the "natural world" is impossible. In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, he writes,." is not reasoning which engages… [read more]

Buddhist Philosophy Man Term Paper

… Whatever one wants can be so easily taken away from him or her.

On the basis of understanding the way that desires are built up one can set him or self free. Of course, this is something that may prove difficult because detachment from worldly attachments is difficult once habits are built up through experience.

In order to really be free, Siddhartha Gautama emphasized that in order to set one's self free from the round of being born again and suffering people have to realize the changing nature of everything in the world. Through comprehending and accepting the changing nature of substances, one can be free of experiences of pleasure that do not last, attachment to one's self and to a false impression of permanence.

Human nature however, is such that it attempts to hang on to the impermanent trying to make it permanent. This is done in order to gain a sense of security in the world. While trying to achieve this, dukka may result (Harvey 1990). Human beings attempt to hold onto a mass of something, which seem to satisfy one's ego.

This helps one to understand the reason why people strive to gain wealth and riches in this world, but no matter what one achieves it all passes away. This passing away does not necessarily refer to the wealth passing away but also means that a human being cannot live a life time to enjoy abundant wealth, as s/he has to die one day and leave it all behind.

Siddhartha Gautama, on the basis of his teachings regarding the impermanence of everything taught his disciples wisely. In order to escape the worldly desires he would meditate and also teach them how to do the same so that they would be able to break away from desires of all kinds.


In the light of all that Siddhartha Gautama taught his followers, it must be emphasized that his aim was to ameliorate their lives by showing them how to move away from things that are weakening to an individual, even though the individual him or herself is impermanent too.

Siddhartha Gautama's concept is very different from Western thought that includes the existence of a totality. Totality takes into account the possibility of being (existence) in form and content. This theory is considerate of possibilities way beyond what one has seen with the naked eye (metaphysics). The constriction of this theory is demonstrated in its ultimate form when beings confront each other, and this is because it is one individual (the self) that opposes another (other), and appear as two entirely different entities to each other. In contrast to this approach, Siddhartha Gautama implemented his philosophy in not just his own life but also in the lives of his followers and established almost perfect discipline in spite not recognizing that they might all be part of a totality.


Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, pp. 70-71 1997.

Indian Tradition, 2nd ed.,… [read more]

Philosophy of Science Scientific Theories Term Paper

… Science also challenges these convictions.

Some might also argue that scientific perspectives govern how we experience reality and thus make science without social acceptance impossible to be realistic. Science could not develop if new paradigms of the world that challenge existing social beliefs and acceptance were not proposed (Strauss, 2003). If paradigms did not question the realities as defined by society, "science would stagnate" (Strauss, 2003). Each member of the community is informed by tradition, and standards of ideas are typically handed down from generation to generation (Polyani, 1964, 52). Yet these very traditions need be challenged.


The Philosophy of Science according to Curd traditionally seeks to find rational conclusion and justification for activity, and allow for reconstruction of scientific theory logically (Curd, 1998). However, opponents of the traditional theory of science will argue that science is in effect rather what historically tends to happen within a community. Science as this paper has shown however, is in fact independent of social acceptance. Science is represented by theories which explain the manner in which realities present themselves. Science may be enforced by the general population but need not be. Science theory should be validated however via experimentation, however even when validated scientific theory may change, as supported by Popper and Kuhn.

Kuhn suggests that science is a means to introduce logic and propose models for existence, or paradigms that represent groups of concepts and models as well as standards for existence (Curd, 1998). Reason and rationality cannot necessarily rest on belief and faith alone. Science is a characterization and challenge between social sets of belief (Strauss, 2003). Science can't be simply defined as a matter of persuasion, or as the result of popular socially accepted outcomes, but rather must be the defined by valid verification and through experimentation.


Curd, Martin. Cover, J.A. Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1998.

Strauss, James D. "The Heart of Postmodernism" Lincoln Christian Seminary, Lincoln: 2003. Available:

Jones, Roger. "Philosophy of Science." Retrieved November 16, 2003,

T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution. University of Chicago Press, 1970.

K.… [read more]

Ethics-Philosophy in This Reading Term Paper

… The only reason he interviewed the wise men was to "find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not" and to urge them to seek true knowledge and not be driven by false pursuits of wealth and fame. But since the Greeks did not quite understand his motives and his theories, they accused of being a non-believer who denied the existence of god. However a close and careful study of this long dialogue reveals that Socrates was falsely accused for he indeed believed in the existence of God. For example he clearly indicates that the reason he interviewed the wise men of Athens was because he had been instructed by God to do so. "I went to one man after another, being not unconscious of the enmity which I provoked, and I lamented and feared this: but necessity was laid upon me - the word of God, I thought, ought to be considered first." This clearly suggests that Socrates did believe in the presence and existence of gods but being a wise man he couldn't digest the Athenian beliefs of supernatural influence and interference in every single matter. In short, he rejected the superstitions that prevailed in Athenian society and culture.

However it is clear from the reading that Socrates was fighting a lost cause. He was more educated, wiser and more intellectually inclined than the rest of Athens and thus couldn't convince others of his innocence. He declared himself the wisest man in Athens not because of the knowledge that he possessed but because of the fact that unlike other so-called wise men, Socrates admitted his ignorance. He was aware of the weaknesses in his knowledge and was thus more geared to discover the truth unlike his complacent counterparts. However needless to say, he failed to prove his innocence and was thus sentenced to… [read more]

Prejudice Against Philosophy Plato -347 Term Paper

… The just soul like the Just City is an organized whole and is governed by reason. Like the notes in a symphony, the parts of a just soul or a Just City work together harmoniously [Bramann, 2000].

Plato explains why people think philosophers are useless by the use of a metaphor. He describes a ship where there is no leadership every soldier fights to navigate the ship and be the captain all the time. Regardless of how good a navigator someone might be, his getting the job is not based on navigational ability but rather on the ability to trick or convince his fellow sailors to allow him to navigate. Then the other soldiers might say that he is a good navigator, despite the fact that he has no skill, for he has these other skills, which gets him the position he desires. The sad thing is that there are a few soldiers who know navigation well, but they are stuck on the sidelines, "useless" because they lack the "other skills." These men are the philosophers who are tagged useless; they are the men who should be ruling, but because they do not have the political skills to assume leadership, they do not know how to fight for the position.

Plato then goes on to argue that the just person is not only just but because he is a philosopher as well, who knows the 'Forms' the ideal of things. He explains this by first arguing that because the philosopher is ruled by his rationality he is the one who understands truth. Then because he knows the truth he understands the pleasure of a hedonist (a person ruled by appetite) and an honor-lover (a person ruled by his spirit); whereas both hedonists and honor lovers only know their own pleasures. Thus, the philosopher has credibility in judging what way of life is best.

Plato in his support for the philosopher lays out his last argument, which is rooted wholly in his theory of Forms. He presents the idea that speaking purely in terms of pleasure, the philosopher enjoys his pleasures, the pleasures of the Forms, more than unjust people enjoy their pleasures, pleasures of appetite or honor, because the pleasures of philosophy are greater than those of the sensible world [Bramann, 2000].


Bloom, A. (Editor), [1991]. The Republic of Plato by Plato, Basic Books, 2nd edition.

Bramann, J.K. [2000]. Philosophical Films: "Network" and Plato's Cave, 2000, available at

Parry, R.D. [1996]. Morality and Happiness: Book VI of Plato's Republic. Journal of Education, Vol. 178, No. 3. [read more]

Philosophy Concept: Veil of Maya Term Paper

… Aristotle's philosophy is also a non-conventional one, similar to that of Plato's doctrine. Through his philosophy, he has made an effort to develop a theory of good life. He defined his theory on the basis of society's knowledge of the unchanging character of reality.

In Aristotle's opinion, metaphysics can be defined as a conception of one's existence as an individual being and what is the real philosophy of "to be." He referred to the objects or substances as the "primary beings." For instance, the basic meaning of their transformation, the procedures of their formation or their characteristics all relate to the objects as the primary beings. In this context, Aristotle defined the primary beings as humans or dogs and termed the group, to which they belong such as humanity as a secondary substance. On the other hand, Plato included the humans and humanity both in the category of primary substances. As far as Plato's two-tired philosophy on reality is concerned, which has maintained the ideology that world is divided into two separate sections, one as the illusionary and the other as the real, Aristotle has rejected this notion of Plato. He declares that whatever is real is a part of only one world and no two different worlds exists.


From the theories discussed above, one can draw a conclusion that we cannot totally rely on our five senses to gain knowledge of the external world and to explore new avenues of knowledge. However, Aristotle's ideology implies that whatever we see and experience is real and hence our senses can be trusted. Later developments in the field of sciences, especially physics have explored this avenue and have discovered several interesting facts. In short, our senses have a limited capability of assessing and analyzing our external environment in a complete manner and one need to unveil the concealment to discover new avenues of knowledge.


Steven Kaufman: Unified Reality Theory: The Evolution of Existence into Experience: Destiny Toad Press: 2001

Jerry Davidson Wheatley: The Nature of Consciousness: The Structure of Reality: Theory of Everything Equation Revealed: Scientific Verification and Proof of Logic God Is: Research Scientific Press: 2001 [read more]

History of Crime and Punishment Term Paper

… In spite of the utopianism of Rousseau, the rest had a sense of reality. Reason is still primary, but it is not rebellious or bloodthirsty. Only in society could man realize his full potential. They believed in the social function… [read more]

Existence of God Analysis Essay

… ¶ … Dialogues are discussions covering the sagacity of spiritual belief between the fictitious characters of Cleanthes, Demea, and Philo. For the purposes of this essay, focus will be placed on Philo and Cleanthes. Philo takes the position of the… [read more]

Comparison and Contrast of the Philosophies of 3 Greek Philosophers and Alexander the Great Research Paper

… Their collective philosophies align with that of Alexander in his later years, especially when he met with the Brahmans. When he told them to ask them anything and they asked for immortality, Alexander admitted to the lack of power to grant it. He also acknowledged that the greatest achievements in this world mean nothing in the end because everything in this world is temporary. Being a student of Aristotle, Alexander was necessarily influenced by the Greek philosopher's teaching on the moral life and the emptiness of all worldly victory.


Asirvathan, Sulochana R.2014. "Alexander the Philosopher in the Greco-Roman, Persian

and Arabic Traditions." Academia. 311-326. Retrieved on June 29, 2014 from

Crisp, Roger 2002. "Aristotle's ethics: how being good can make you happy." Richmond

Journal of Philosophy: St. Anne's College, Oxford. Retrieved on June 29, 2014 from

Fieser, James, general editor 2014. "Ancient Greek philosophy." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved on June 29, 2014 from

Senyshyn, Yaroslav.2008. A review of "Plato: his precursors, his educational philosophies, and his legacy" by Robin Barrow. Vol. 17 # 2, Paideusis. Canada: Simon

Fraser University, pp 91-98

Vlastos, Gregory 1991. Socrates: ironist and moral philosopher. Cornell Studies in Classical Philology, Book 50. Paperback. New York: Cornell University Press

Waterfield, Robin 2009. "the historical Socrates." Vol. 59 # 1, History Today: EBSCO

Publishing. Retrieved on June 29, 2014 from [read more]

Descartes' Meditations Essay

… Descartes' contributions to philosophy have established him and indeed, many agree that he is the first modern philosopher. In fact, in the history of philosophy, Descartes marks the moment of a fundamentally new philosophical perspective. His treatise, Meditations on First… [read more]

Apology by Plato (Topic Essay

… Apology by Plato (Topic 1)

In Apology by Plato, the author uses the philosopher Socrates to make several claims about what it means to be "good," as well as about life, death, and what might be expected after death. What… [read more]

Minds and Computers Dennett Term Paper

… It can only act within the parameters of its programming, and cannot think for itself. He says, "Research in artificial intelligence (which has produced, among other things, the chess-playing computer) proceeds by working from an Intentionally characterized problem (how to get the computer to consider the right sorts of information, make the right decision) to a design-stance solution -- an approximation of optimal design" (Dennett 1971, pages 99-100). The major difference between man and machine is the ability to apply experience, logic, and reason to a given situation, which only human beings are capable of doing. The other major difference is the fact that human beings apply emotion to situations, sometimes going so far as to trust the suggestions of the heart rather than those offered by the cognitive function. Machines obviously do not have emotions and therefore their actions will not be tempered by their feelings. Computers and other machines can be programmed with certain characteristics, even with an ability which we could call "thinking." That is to say, a computer can be programmed to behave in a certain way when confronted with certain stimuli. A computer will not be able to refuse an action unless it has program code within it which gives it the ability to do so. Machines do not have sentience or self-awareness. They are not able to overcome their programming and commit an action which they have not been directed to do by some human person. For this reason, machines are very different from people in terms of intentionality.

Works Cited

Churchland, P.M. (1999). Matter and Consciousness: a Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind. Bradford: Cambridge, MA.

Dennett, D.C.… [read more]

Philosophy -- Plato's "The Apology Essay

… 42); death could be a blessing because it is either a deep, peaceful sleep (Plato, Grube, & Cooper, 2000, p. 41) or a change of place that would let him meet and talk with great thinkers and allow him to continue asking the same questions he has always asked (Plato, Grube, & Cooper, 2000, p. 42). Socrates finally tells all the jurors that he is going to die and they are going to live and only god knows which is better.

3. Conclusion

"The Apology" is Plato's recollection of Socrates' trial, conviction, sentencing and last words to the jury. In the first part, Socrates' principal speech to the jury, Socrates argues against the charges against him. He does so by first taking on the people who have accused him for years. He attributes their charges to the fact that they grew to dislike him because of the way he questioned them and found them unwise and, in fact, less wise than he is. According to Socrates, he does not believe he knows what he does not know; however, these people falsely believed they were wise in ways they were not; because he exposed them as unwise by his questions, they dislike him and trumped up charges against him. He then challenges the newer accusations, particularly by questioning Meletus and showing that the charges are inconsistent and untrue. In the second part of "The Apology," which is Socrates' counter-assessment to the jury after he is convicted and the prosecutor recommends the death sentence, Socrates explores different possible penalties and says he should be fed free meals in the Prytaneum or given a very small fine that he can pay or given a very small fine that Plato and others have offered to pay. The third part of "The Apology," which is Socrates' final words to the jury, consists… [read more]

Inalienable Rights Although America's Founding Term Paper

… This would appear to be contradictory to the concept of inalienable rights, as the act of surrendering one's claim to a right would countermand its status as inalienable. This contradiction is important to consider because "within the will theory there can be no such thing as an unwaivable right: a right over which its holder has no power." When a right is inalienable, the implication is that no entity, even the rights holder themselves, possesses the power to invalidate that right, so the concept of inalienable rights is, on its surface, incompatible with will theory.

The clear discrepancies between will theory and the inalienability of rights are difficult to reconcile with the modern notion of personal liberty. When one considers that "within the will theory it is impossible for incompetents like infants, animals, and comatose adults to have rights" (Wenar, 2011), the legitimacy of will theory as it pertains to the explication of humanity's conception of rights is severely undermined. After more than two hundred years since its signing, the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights which grants every citizen certain unassailable liberties, and the subsequent amendments made to reflect society's slow progression in upholding these rights, is undoubtedly one of history's most significant and substantive texts. The philosophical debate over whether or not inalienable rights exist, one which raged for centuries as society slowly progressed, has been quieted by the nearly universal acceptance of the U.S. Constitution's central tenets. By signing similar Constitutions since America's birth, the vast majority of the world's nations are in agreement that human beings have been vested with natural rights, rights that cannot be superseded by governmental mandate or the misappropriation of power. Indeed, during the 1987 bicentennial celebration of the Constitution's first signing, TIME Magazine reported that "of the 170 countries that exist today, more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version" (Greenwald), illustrating the extensive influence this essential document has exerted on mankind's conception of rights. Despite the lofty proclamations of the U.S. Constitution and its globalized interpretations, the course of American history demonstrated time and time again that, even when rights are designated as inalienable, the central premise of will theory is always applicable in that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can be denied to individuals and groups for a variety of reasons. The institutionalized slavery which marred America's infancy and ascendency was the most striking example of ostensibly inalienable rights being systematically denied to millions of people, which confirms the will theory's proposition that the granting of any right necessarily involves the denial of claims and the removal of privileges.


Wenar, L. (2011). Rights. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward Zalta (ed.), Retrieved from

Greenwald, J. (1987, July 06). A gift to all nations. TIME, Retrieved from,9171,964901,00.html [read more]

Mythos and Logos? Term Paper

… Q2. Who are the Pre-Socratics?

Pre-Socratic philosophers are not simply important because of the manner in which they reflected belief structures which influenced Socrates, or to which Socrates responded. In fact, in many ways some of their thoughts and beliefs are more resonant and commensurate with modern thought than with Platonism, with its highly abstract concept of the world of the forms. Pre-Socratic philosophers were the first thinkers to conceptualize atomic theory. Writers such as Leucippus and Democritus proposed that all structures could be broken down into the same, essential components. The radicalism behind this notion is that all objects are fundamentally the same, and there is no essential hierarchy in terms of what constitutes the essential substance of all things. This concept runs fundamentally counter against much of later Judeo-Christian philosophy which suggests that man stands atop a hierarchy of all animals, and that certain substances are inherently superior to other substances.

Pre-Socratics thus also suggested that what was evident to the eye was not necessarily all that was true in the universe. They demanded a rationalistic view of the world. Although Socrates would not necessarily have agreed with all of the actual ideas proposed by the Pre-Socratics, his essential method of rigorous questioning of all 'common sense' and supposedly self-evident truth does spring directly from their view of the universe. To understand the Socratic Method, it is important to understand Pre-Socratic philosophy. The Pre-Socratics relied upon logos rather than mythos as a way of apprehending and interpreting the world. Socrates, who took a rather deflationary view of the reality of Greek mythology, would of course be famously persecuted for impiety and corrupting the youth of Athens for embracing this viewpoint.

It is also important to study Pre-Socratic philosophy to understand classical Greek civilization itself. In Greek civilization, there was no fundamental divide between what we would consider science and philosophy. Philosophy was science (more so than religion, as it is often grouped with as a discipline today), and was grounded in analysis of the material world, and attempts to observe the material world to understand its mysteries. Although the concept that all things had the same atomic substance was not proven by other scientists until many years later, it is striking that the Pre-Socratics, based upon observation of the world, were able to act as harbingers of this notion. Even after the Pre-Socratics begin to lose some of their influence, their fundamentally dispassionate and anti-Romantic view of the world would influence philosophers for many years to come, and would finally be embraced by modern science.

It should be noted that even the ideological concepts of many Pre-Socratics still had great influence in Greece and later in Rome in the form of Stoicism. Almost Buddhist-like in its detachment, Stoicism advocates a calm, rational appreciation of the trials and tribulations of the world, advocating that its adherents bear both happiness and sorrow with the same dispassionate gaze. It could be said that Stoicism takes a fundamentally scientific and rational view… [read more]

Plato's Cave Essay

… Plato's Cave

Plato wants the reader to be both a philosopher and an agent of socio-political change. This is clear by the lesson that he draws from the cave allegory. This paper will explain the cave allegory and show how… [read more]

Philosophers of Ancient Greece Research Paper

… He belonged to the Ephesians school of thought. He is responsible for hypothesizing the notion of flow. Heraclitus hailed from a noble family and hence was the first aristocrat to be inducted in the Greek Philosophers' hall of fame. Heraclitus… [read more]

Moral Worth Present Term Paper

… While Kant is perhaps correct that most people possess this capacity, his thesis appears to leave little consideration for people who are mentally challenged or simply suffer from the incapacity to consider the welfare of others. Kant's entire framework is predicated on a type of rational thinking that he feels humans possess, which endows them with the ability to separate their personal beliefs from those of the collective. He states that the only people capable of following laws are those who are rational (4:412); the focus on rationality suggests that Kant advocates a social dynamic in which people's intellectual differences are effaced in the interests of collective welfare.

One of the limitations of Kant's thesis that only acts done from duty have moral worth is that it presumes that everyone can distinguish between what is best for everyone and that universal well-being can be defined. Kant's framework for rational thinking suggests that everyone possesses the ability to inhabit an identical mindset if they desire, and there is abundant evidence within culture that proves that this is not the case. For example, the preponderance of wars worldwide testifies to the inability that people have to act in the collective interest. Kant also does not discuss how people should respond when the collective will is threatened; should the offender be punished? This critique is significant in that it exposes the potential limitations of how Kant's thesis works in practice. Oftentimes, people who are in conflict with each other both act in what they consider to be the collective best interest. Kant's thesis may make sense on an intellectual level, but in reality morality and duty are relative terms that evade stable definition. Thus, although Kant elucidates the benefits of acting in the interests of the greater good, it is impossible to expect everyone to agree on how universal laws manifest in the context of society.… [read more]

Political Philosophy Plato and St Term Paper

… The analysis of the nature of man and knowledge changed for Aquinas through his studies (Torrell, 2005). The more he examined these issues, the more he formed a new interpretation of human law and the human soul. Originally he thought more like Plato, and even was considered to be one of the followers of Plato's thoughts and beliefs (Torrell, 2005). Over time, he developed his own philosophy of humanity and the soul. Being a man of God, Aquinas was always very focused on the soul, but he was also a man of intellect and was working out in his own head how to reconcile his belief in God with the belief that there is something highly valuable about the life spent in the human body (Torrell, 2005). Because he was so focused on understanding life and everything beyond it, he wrote many commentaries on the works of other philosophers and men of God. Additionally, he devoted much of his time to considering the works of others and examining why they thought the way they did.

If he could determine why Plato and others felt a certain way about the nature of the soul, he would be better prepared to form his own opinions about the soul and what he believed it to be. That is the way in which he developed a better understanding of the human soul, because he was willing to consider what everyone else had to say on the subject (Torrell, 2005). The strong beliefs held by Aquinas, coupled with the open-mindedness he displayed in the consideration of other people's works, allowed him to develop a fundamental belief about humanity and how it comes to be, along with what happens to it when it leaves the body. The strength of Aquinas's beliefs played a strong role in modern Christian thought, and many thinkers and philosophers throughout the world have adjusted and more carefully considered their views because of Aquinas and his beliefs (Torrell, 2005).


Alican, Necip Fikri (2012). Rethinking Plato: A Cartesian Quest for the Real Plato. NY:… [read more]

Utilitarianism and Plato Philosophy Essay

… Those who violate the rules of that society must only do so within certain parameters, as proven exceptions of the established rules. In an ideal version of society, all people would be satisfied with the legislation put in place by those in authority. As that is wholly unlikely, the ideal utilitarian world is unlikely to be achieved.

The ideal form of governance of a people, according to Plato, would be based on the human body because the principles of government would be based on the needs of the human soul (Plato, 2009). Individuality would give way to majority need and there would not be infighting or concern for personal political power. He wished that people would think uniquely and would question ultimate and unchallenged authority. Only in this way can the problems within a society be remedied.

Both the theories of Utilitarianism and those posed by Plato deal with the ways that human beings act and react to and with one another. The major difference between the two theories has to do with individuality and individual culpability and responsibility. Utilitarianism asks that in creating rules which apply to society, those in positions of power should act for the greater good. Majority rule dictates what it is that is deemed good or bad. However, in the case of Plato, the philosopher acknowledges that there have been many historical incidences when the majority does not know what is best. Instead, it is the responsibility of the individuals to postulate new ideas and allow for their inclusion in government as well as moral and ethical decision-making.

Works Cited:

Kupperman, J. (2010). Theories of Human Nature. Hackett: Indianapolis, IN.

Mill, J.S. (2002). Utilitarianism. Hackett: Indianapolis, IN.

Plato (2009). Great Dialogues of… [read more]

Humans Have Wondered About Certain Basic Paradigms Term Paper

… ¶ … humans have wondered about certain basic paradigms of the universe -- how do we know what we know? Is there truth? Is there a central morality for humans? What is reality? What is perception? Although humans have evolved… [read more]

Toulmin Model and Sherlock Holmes Essay

… But even if the great Sherlock Holmes did have feelings for Irene Adler, he still maintained his investigation and tricked her into revealing the location of the photograph. Under the Toulmin model, this would be considered to be a "qualifying statement." Holmes' feelings of infatuation with Irene Adler did not get in the way of him carrying out his duty to the King of Bohemia. Firstly, he infiltrated her household, gathering information, and then concocted a scheme not only to get back inside of her house, but to have her inadvertently reveal the location of the photograph. With Dr. Watson's aid, Holmes faked a fire and a panicked Irene Adler went for the photograph. His seeming fascination for the intelligent and beautiful woman did not limit either his dedication or shrewdness. Holmes may have been experiencing feelings for a woman for the first time, but he did not completely lose his head, only his objectivity.

Finally, in a Toulmin argument there must be a "rebuttal" in which a counterargument is made; and in "A Scandal in Bohemia" a counterargument could be made that while Holmes did in fact have feelings for Irene Adler, these feelings did not lead to her outwitting him. Ms. Adler did escape with the photograph, this cannot be denied, but it may have been that Holmes intentionally allowed her to escape. Sherlock Holmes was not greatly impressed by the European monarchies, and his dealing with them often left him with a bad impression. And one should not forget that Holmes is the greatest consulting detective of all time, not easily fooled. Sherlock Holmes discovered the whereabouts of the photograph during the evening, but waited until the following day to attempt to retrieve it. Was he so preoccupied with his success that he did not notice a disguised Irene Adler on the street, or was he even further impressed by her wile? Holmes may have decided that his feelings for Irene Adler outweighed his duty to the King of Bohemia and deliberately appeared to be outwitted; allowing her to escape.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "A Scandal in Bohemia" is an unusual Sherlock Holmes tale, not only is Holmes asked to perform a robbery, but he fails. The reason for this appears to be the fact that he developed feelings for his suspect, and there is a great deal of evidence to support this. These feelings seem to have clouded his judgment and allowed Irene Adler to get the better of him, but it is also possible that the conniving Holmes only appeared to be outwitted and really allowed Ms. Adler to escape by design. [read more]

Philosophy What Makes a Belief Essay

… Denial of truth, on the other hand, is an action that is taken and practiced by just as many people who believe in things that are false. Therefore, it is the choice of the individual to determine what his/her beliefs are, determine whether the beliefs are in something true or false, and then to choose whether to believe something is true or false after acquiring the knowledge of its truth or lack thereof.

More so than focusing upon what is true and what is false, the author focuses upon the act, structure, and function of belief. The author is additionally indirectly describing and advocating each individual's search for truth, as well as to challenge and validate beliefs based on that search. What make something true is alignment with universals and less so with particulars.

Among universals, there seems to be no principle by which we can decide which can be known by acquaintance, but it is clear that among those that can be so known are sensible qualities, relations of space and time, similarity, and certain abstract logical universals. Our derivative knowledge of things, which we call knowledge by description, always involves both acquaintance with something and knowledge of truths. Our immediate knowledge of truths may be called intuitive knowledge, and the truths so known may be called self-evident truths. (Russell, 1997)


Russell, Betrand. The Problems of Philosophy. Chapter 9 -- 10. Oxford… [read more]

Does Idealism Make Sense? Essay

… ¶ … Idealism Make Sense

In philosophy, idealism is a grouping of ideas that assert that what we know about our universe, that is reality, is really mentally constructed. For centuries, humans have been concerned about knowing -- what we know, how we know it, and can we prove it. Idealism is central to many other -- isms in that it emphasizes the mental character of all things. One way to understand the 20th century mindset of idealism is British scientist Sir James Jeans' comment: "The Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine" (Haisch, 2007).

One of the finest minds of the late 19th and 20th centuries, Nobel Laureate Bertrand Russell, who is sometimes vilified in the modern world because of his views on atheism and agnosticism, wrote a great deal on logic and analytical philosophy. Like Stephen Hawking, Russell had comments and found ways of integrating his philosophical ideas into most disciplines, often seeing the elusive "commonality" between all human thought and action, as well as science. Russell says that we must be grounded in the three major branches of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. There are, of course, other ways to study and address these problems, but the philosophical approach is self-critical, and based on a series of rational arguments (Monk, 2004). Rather than arguing from a specific point-of-view as most philosophers do, the seminal importance for Russell is that it is the act of contemplation that drives the ability to actualize and move forward on a topic -- not the viewpoint or epistemology:

One way of escape is by philosophic contemplation. Philosophic contemplation does not, in its widest survey, divide the universe into two hostile camps -- friends and foes, helpful and hostile, good and bad -- it views the whole impartially. Philosophic contemplation, when it is unalloyed, does not aim at proving that the rest of the universe is akin to man. All acquisition of knowledge is an enlargement of the Self, but this enlargement is best attained when it is not directly sought. It is obtained when the desire for knowledge is alone operative… (Russell, 2004).

Further, if we think of idealism as being what the mind perceives as being real, we can turn to Plato for an explanation of how this might remain relevant for the 21st century. In Plato's the Republic, Book VII, we are presented with a situation called "The Allegory of the Cave." In essence,… [read more]

Philosophy Kant's Theories of Good Term Paper

… Kant's ideas intentionally or unintentionally have more eastern or Buddhist suppositions.

Another example that Kant provides as evidence of good will is reason. Kant writes that when people cultivate reason, the true unconditional wisdom of nature becomes clear. The greatest exercise of reason is the cultivation and practice of good will. He states that the greatest practical application of reason and of wisdom is the development and diffusion of good will in a person's life. Reason, wisdom, and good will help people find unconditional happiness by performing actions whose satisfaction are themselves. Actions of the Kantian sense of good will contribute to self happiness and societal happiness. Such actions also help people distinguish between what he calls will and what he calls duty. There is some overlap in his ideas, but the main difference is that will augments or diminishes reason, happiness, and wisdom depending on the nature of the actions taken.

Will increases or decreases a person's inner worth and inner value. Good will always is the more positive and supported choice for Kant. Later in the piece, Kant additionally explains how the cultivation and practice of good will decreases the likelihood that one suffers from or feels anxieties. Therefore, good will, wisdom, reason, and happiness bring upon a stress free and more blissful lifestyle. One could argue that Kant's point is that with enough good will that has been harnessed and practiced for long enough, leads to some kind of bliss or enlightenment. It at least makes a person feel connected to the world through his/her actions taken from good will and the world is a better place despite the precise outcomes of those actions. [read more]

Socrates in Euthyphro, Socrates' Questioning Term Paper

… Therefore, Socrates shows Crito that he himself actually has the family's well-being at heart by accepting the court's decision and obediently facing death.


In the Apology, Socrates shows his wisdom even though he protests that he is unwise and… [read more]

Religion There Are Few Opportunities Research Paper

… Monism implies that anything that hurts the earth also hurts human beings. Moreover, if human beings are not hierarchically superior to the land, then humanity theoretically shares an "essential identity" with all life (Nelson 64). Advaita Vedanta theoretically encourages a sense of reverence for nature. In practice, however, Advaita Vedanta does no such thing. Nowhere in the Vedas is there specific reference to the relationship between a human being and the natural world. Such a relationship does not exist, because both human beings and nature are equally as much a part of Brahman. While this metaphysical construct would make human beings and nature equally valuable in the grand scheme of things, it does not mandate any specific ecological ethical behavior.

Nelson notes that the "dominant Western mindset" is of course far more destructive than that of the Advaita Vedanta. The Western worldview is "especially detrimental to ecological concern" because of the prevailing core belief of duality (61). Duality is embedded in the cosmologies of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all of which have concepts of heaven and hell. Using this dualistic cosmology, a dualistic metaphysic and ethics is created. In turn, a dualistic metaphysic and ethic supports the vision of a universe in which spirit is separate from, and better than, matter. Nelson refers to "transcendental dualism," a paradigm in which matter is separate from and inferior to spirit. Advaita Vedanta does not have this worldview but still allows for a lack of cohesive environmental ethics (Nelson).

There is another potentially problematic paradox within the Advaita Vedanta. Advaita Vedanta seems to inform a more robust scientific inquiry by showing that there it is impossible to separate subject, object, and situation (Sriraman and Benesch). On the other hand, Advaita Vedanta suggests that scientific inquiry is groundless and debased because jnana (real knowledge) is only acquired via direct experience of Reality. Jnana is therefore only possible by renouncing the material world in favor of a direct experiential knowledge of the ground of being, Brahman, which cannot be cultivated via the scientific method.

The importance of paradox in Advaita Vedanta is that it has meaningful consequences on how the philosophy is applied to real-world situations. With regards to science, the Advaita Vedanta can enhance scientific inquiry by revealing two things: one, that subject, object and situation are inextricably linked and therefore difficult to study. And second, that a scientific understanding of universal phenomena may be incomplete without a direct encounter with the divine via meditation and renunciation. With regards to ecological ethics, and perhaps other ethics like social justice, the Advaita Vedanta is also paradoxical. On the one hand, the Advaita Vedanta recommends a denial of the physical universe and on the other hand, it draws attention to the inherent divinity in all of life.

Works Cited

Menon, Sangeetha. "Advaita Vedanta." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 5 Jan 2007. Retrieved online:

Nelson, Lance E. "The Dualism of Nondualism: Advaita Vedanta and the Irrelevance of Nature."

Sriraman, Bharath and Benesch, Walter. "Consciousness and Science: an… [read more]

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