No more Andy/nemo

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  blue moon on Tue Mar 31, 2015 5:33 pm

pinhedz wrote:... rearrange their faces, and give them all another name ...
Yes. It's an ongoing quest.
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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  blue moon on Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:01 pm

pinhedz wrote:I'm going to tell the truth now--I'm not the original Dot Wiggin. silent
Oh god! 
How devastating. 

In this bold spirit of disclosure I too shall tell the truth...
I am not the original Gregory Corso.
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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Doc Watson on Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:30 pm

omg I feel the urge to confess. I am not the real Doc Watson , infact I am not even a Doctor.
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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Doc Watson on Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:10 pm

pinhedz wrote:To the pinhed, you will always be a doctor. Smile
Thankyou you are very kind.
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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Mon May 16, 2016 10:44 am

Yakima Canutt wrote:5 of the usernames posting in this Topic were generated/operated by the same person.

It wasn't me.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Mon May 16, 2016 11:10 am

pinhedz wrote:

Whether or not this will lead to proof of God's existence remains to be seen. Suspect study Suspect Suspect

Kant deconstructs - in the old sense of the term, not the Heideggerian twist - the a priori proofs of God in the section called the Transcedental Dialectics. It did that so thoroughly that his friend Moses Mendelsohn called him the 'Alleszermalmer' - the all-destroyer. And metaphysics as a body of true knowledge has been dead ever since - well, Schopenhauer and German idealists in the vein of Hegel thought differently of course but what would philosophy be without such detours.µ

There is of course a Kantian 'proof of God' in the Critique of Practical reason in which he famously comes up with notions such as the postulates of practical reason and 'reasonbelief' ('Vernunftglaube' in German, I don't know how it is translated in English).
If we situate Kant within his specific time and political atmosphere, one can understand this reasoning. But to the modern reader, I think it is by far the most problematic part of his philosophy. Oh well, maybe that's just my a priori speaking.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Mon May 16, 2016 10:01 pm

Kant was a notoriously complex writer, rendering his already quite complex philosophy even less accessible.
Even Kant himself acknowledged this problematic character of his writings.
"The Critique of Pure Reason" is said to be the product of an entire decade dedicated to overthinking its many problems, but the actual writing down of it all only took about 3 months.

When his magnus opus failed to provoke much reaction in the scientific / philosophical community of his time, he decided to render the content of his work a bit more easily accessible and wrote the "Prolegomena". Well, in fact the full title in German was "Prolegomena zu einer jeden künftigen Metaphysik die als Wissenschaft wird auftreten können" ... it's not entirely clear to me why he thought such a title would render his work more popular.
That being said: the Prolegomena is a fairly good and readable 'short introduction to' the Critique, so I usually advice people to either read it before they start reading the actual Critique or alongside it.

Translations of course are as much a blessing as they are a curse. I know you speak Russian, so I'm sure that you've experienced the tragedy of translations for yourself.
Speaking for myself: over the past decade or so there have been a number of quite beautiful edition of dutch translations of (among others) Kant. When I'm reading Kant I will usually read from these dutch translations but keep a cheaper edition of the actual German text close at hand. (In Germany you have for instance 'Reklam Verlag' which edits very cheap paperback editions of almost any historical German work you can think of. The booklets have a very ugly yellow cover, the print is very small and the size of the booklet itself often not very practical, but I believe you could buy Kants entire corpus for less than € 50,00.)
That of course only make sense if you're able to read German. I could do the exact same thing when reading Plato, but as I'm not able to read ancient Greek that would only be preposterous.

I would be a bit surprised if there haven't been any translations of Kants major works in the 20th century. A more recent translation might use a vocabulary more closely in touch with contemporary terminology. A really good edition might even have a glossary with specific terminology.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Tue May 17, 2016 4:20 am


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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Tue May 17, 2016 4:39 am

For those interested in the matter, the other day I read a new intellectual biography of David Hume has recently been published: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/05/26/who-was-david-hume/

In his "Prolegomena (etc.)" Kant famously wrote that it was David Hume who awoke him from his dogmatic slumber.
The dogmatic slumber Kant is talking about is of course the rationalist Leibnizian - Wolffian philosophy that at the time was dominant at the University of Königsberg.
In fact: from the perspective of the history of philosophy, Kants first Critique is to be seen as a synthesis of the 2 rivaling early modernist conceptions known as rationality (e.g. Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza) and empiricism (e.g. Locke, Hume, Berkeley).

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Tue May 17, 2016 8:40 pm

Yakima Canutt wrote:
Thus, from Kant's objections to the traditional proofs for God's existence through to his rejection of supersensible knowledge, the negative elements of his philosophy of religion are not to be understood as denials of or even challenges to faith. They exist, rather, in order to make sure that the true worth of religion is not lost as a consequence of reason's excesses. Hence, despite more than two centuries of interpreters who have regarded Kant's criticisms as expressions of hostility, the barriers he establishes are not meant to abolish faith but to save it. It is, thus, a profound irony that Kant is so commonly portrayed in theological circles as the greatest enemy to faith that has ever emerged out of the history of philosophy. Not only is this incorrect, but it is an error that has deprived theologians (perhaps Lutheran Theologians in particular) of an important ally. Kant is not faith's enemy, but rather, one might say, its champion in exile.

First of all, I would like to point out that it is a real pleasure reading your lengthy responses on Kant in this thread.
As I am currently trying to write a thesis to finish my course in philosophy, I sadly do not have the time to engage in conversation about the many interesting aspects of Kants thinking and writing that you bring. Hopefully I will be able to come back on certain aspects within a few weeks though.

As for the matter in the quotation above: a first aspect that comes to mind is Kants own assertion in preface to the B-edition of the "Critique of pure reason " that he had to limit reason in order to make room for faith (Bxxx). In the original German edition we read:

Kant, KrV, Bxxx wrote:Ich musste also das Wissen aufheben, um zum Glauben Platz zu bekommen [...]

I am not a philologist, but at least in our present day the German verb 'glauben' is closely related to the Dutch (my mothers tongue) 'geloven'. And while 'geloven' - and thus, 'glauben' - can be used to indicate religious beliefs, it's formal meaning is actually a lot more general. It's the adequate verb to express things as 'I belief it will rain today', 'I belief Kathy is hiding something for me' or 'I belief my son will one day win a Nobel Prize'. That is: the verb is used to express very various forms of holding-for-true and strictly religious beliefs only form a specific set of these.

If we are going to consider Kant from the theologians point of view, I would be inclined to point out the ambiguous nature of his vocabulary here. Is he really trying to say that he had to point out the limitations of reason in order to make room for the sphere of religion? Or is he rather pointing out that he has tried to indicate a clear demarcation within our philosophical speculation between the domains in which we may - even if just by principle - arrive at sound and established knowledge and the domains in which - by principle - we have to understand that such knowledge is impossible?

We know that, unlike 20th century logic positivists, Kant surely wasn't hostile towards metaphysical questions. The infamous opening sentence to the preface of the A-edition of his first Critique already makes that quite clear. To quote from an online pdf-version I found of an English translation:

Kant, CpureR, A VII wrote: In one of the ways of using it, human reason is burdened with questions that it has to face up to, because the nature of reason itself insists on them. Yet these questions go beyond the limits of anything that reason can manage, which means that reason can’t answer them!

The logic positivists declared all metaphysical questions themselves to be the product of unjustified use of language and therefor nonsensical. We find a similar but simplified version of that attitude today with people like Richard Dawkins, who only seem to be able to mock every person who suggests that metaphysical questions - even if we agree that they can never be answered with any scientific validity - still arise in our thinking. Kant was obviously not of this persuasion. In fact, even after his scrupulous destruction of the metaphysical argumentation for concepts as God and the soul, he continues to acknowledge the potential interest of these concepts as 'regulative ideas'.

Which leads us back to the Kantian notion of 'glauben' ('to belief'). I believe we could summarize Kants position as this: a person may legitimately belief in a specific answer to a metaphysical question to the extent that she or he accepts that this belief, from a theoretical point of view, can never aspire to the validity of a scientific claim.
While these view retains a positive function for metaphysics, even after its de facto destruction through Kants own epistemology, I think it is more ambiguous toward doctrinal religion.

To quote Hannah Arendt in her introduction to "Thinking ", the first part of "The life of the mind":

Arendt, Thinking, p.15 (Harcourt-edition) wrote: [Kant] stated defensively that he had 'found it necessary to deny knowledge ... to make room for faith', but he had not made room for faith ; he had made room for thought, and he had not 'denied knowledge' but separated knowledge from thinking.

Put otherwise: the word 'Glauben' (a noun derived from the verb 'glauben') which Kant uses in the preface to his second edition may well be read in a more general way than to indicate 'religious doctrines'. It is a basic faculty and activity of reason that Kant doesn't seek to deny, but for which he wants to establish a proper place and function. One could hold that Hannah Arendt is, once again, taking some liberty here with her specific reading of Kant, but I think we can substantiate this particular reason to a certain degree by looking at the broader context of the quote being used. The larger context of this quote is a section in which Kant discusses his understanding of 'kennen' ('to know') and 'denken' ('to think') - see for instance his footnote to the end of section B XXVI.

If we are reading Kant from this perspective - and I'm sure by know you've understood that this is how I am inclined to read him -, where 'Glauben' is to be understood as a much more general faculty of reason than merely 'religious beliefs', than I am more inclined to understand the theologians hostility towards Kant. He may well the thinker who established a strong proper place for the activity of believing within the use of reason, but the theologians doctrinal claim as to the content of that belief is obviously discredited. Especially if we bring into account other aspects of his philosophy, such as his famous definition of Enlightenment in the short essay on that subject matter:

Kant, What is Enlightenment? wrote: Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one's own mind without another's guidance. Dare to know! (Sapere aude.)


Taken together, I do understand the theologian - whom I suppose to have a doctrinal vision of his religion - when he sees Kants work as detrimental for the authority of religion.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Thu May 19, 2016 1:16 am

I was particularly impressed by the reference to Wizenmann-remark. Razz

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Fri May 20, 2016 6:35 am

No, no: it's a bit less fancy Razz
The thesis is the last effort I have to make to get a Masters degree in philosophy.
I've combined my study in philosophy with my regular full-time job as a social worker, so it took a while to complete the whole program. About 2 years ago I also went through a break-up, causing basically a lost year on the program.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Fri May 20, 2016 7:50 am

I would have to read the precise argumentation before judging it, of course. But let's say my initial reaction to that relation is a lot like: Suspect

Neither Schopenhauer, nor Nietzsche nor Heidegger developed a political philosophy that I have any knowledge of. It seems safe to say that all 3 are un-political thinkers - if there is political theory in their works that I am unaware of, I would dare to guess that it's rather obscure in general.
On top of that, I think you could make a bit of a case to claim that none of them developed a moral philosophy either. Crucial aspects of Nietzsches philosophy are concerned with the question of morality, true. But his exercises concerning the so-called genealogy of morals approach the subject matter from a functional point of view. Heidegger famously claimed that we have not yet begun to fully comprehend the nature of acting to explain why there was not moral philosophy in his body of work.

I'm not saying that it's impossible to argue that Schopenhauer, Nietzsche & Heidegger have some relation with the sort of thinking that would help to explain social movements as #BlackLivesMatter ... but I myself don't really see any such self-evident link.
It's unclear to me how thinkers whose works lack any real moral theory and who quite clearly never wrote on the subject of political action could have inspired such movements.

Over the past 2 years, I have concentrated mostly on reading the work of Hannah Arendt - a student of Heideggers whose entire body of work is thoroughly engaged with political thinking.
For Arendt political action is deeply rooted in human plurality - which she sees as not just the conditione sine qua non', but more over the 'conditione per quam' of politics. And political action, to make things simple, implies for her the appearance of a person in the public realm where she makes herself heard and seeks support to 'act in concert' (Arendts definition of power). This is just a very rough sketch, but I am inclined to think that the work of Hannah Arendt would have a lot more to say about movements like #BlackLivesMatter than the body of work of her teacher.
(That being said: Arendts reflections on segregation in American schools in the article 'Reflections on Little Rock' would most definitely not be appreciated by the #BlackLivesMatter-movement and it might well be her most frowned-upon article by contemporary readers)

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Tue Jun 07, 2016 6:08 am

The question 'Where is God?' might in fact be more interesting than 'Is there a God?'

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:34 am

pinhedz wrote:
Some have rightly pointed out that no scientist has an explanation for the creation of something out of nothing, so either there was some kind of creation event (and we got no clue about that) or else the universe is eternal and ageless (and we have even less comprehension of eternity).

Therefore (they say) there is something we do not understand, so let's call that "God" -- whatever It is.

I don't know to what extend this was intentional, but the above 2 phrases read as almost verbatim quotes from Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas respectively .

Aristotles 'proof of god' in his concept of the unmoved mover starts from the idea that the series of causal effects that have led to the present state of the universe - or, if you prefer, reality - can not be extended backwards infinitely. For if there never was a first cause, itself uncaused, than there was never a start to the series of causally interrelated events. And with no start for this series, there simply wouldn't be any universe possible.
This argumentation presupposes the fundamental Greek notion that ex nihilo nihil fit - out of nothing, only nothing can come forth.

Godproofs have become very unfashionable in a world that no longer has any sensible meaning for the very notion of a 'God', but I do think that the problem Aristotle presents us with is still as relevant today as when he or one of his students scribbled it down some 2,300 years ago. Present day models of theoretical physics give us wild and intricate visions of complex interactions between the forces of nature that are thought to have given rise to our universe. But as passionately interesting as they are, I have yet to hear about one that manages to conceive of the idea of 'something' coming out of absolute 'nothing' - absolute nothing means that you will even have to put aside 'potentiality', making the appearance of something tremendously problematic.
Aristotles' reasoning leads us thus not to a theological-religious problem, but to a very fundamental fact about how we understand reality AND our own ability or inability to understand it.

As for the second sentence: I don't know if you have read Thomas Aquinas' proof of God known as the quinque viae? As you might know, Aquinas was heavily influenced by the rediscovery of Aristotles work in the 12th century. In his "Summa Theologia" he sets out to achieve a reconciliation between Aristotelian philosophy and the Christian theology he was schooled in. From the perspective of his own time, that meant a very substantial re-appreciation of philosophy.
In his '5 ways to God' he elaborates a number of metaphysical / epistemological problems that, according to him, point the way to God. What is interesting in the actual text of his argumentation is that he concludes 4 of the 5 ways - we don't know of the omission in 1 argument is intentional or the result of the inaccuracy of an early copy - by saying that the idea that has just demonstrated is "what is usually being called God".

What's interesting is that he doesn't write 'And this thing is God'. He says that it is a social custom to think of this thing as 'God'. Now, to be clear: Aquinas was a theologian and a monk. I'm not saying that he was closeted atheist - though the church actually condemned his teachings as heresy for a very short while before making him a saint. But the words he actually wrote do leave sufficient space to reread him with modern eyes. You do not have to be a believer to find Aquinas' thinking interesting, contrary to what people like Richard Dawkins seem to think.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:59 am

pinhedz wrote:
Two years later a Christian Brother at the same school told me that late in life Thomas had declared his own Summa to be "vanity." Shocked

Well, it's one of those books in philosophy that was actually never finished. Laughing

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:36 am

pinhedz wrote:^
I also think it is consistent with Roman Catholicism to consider logical/scientific "proof" to be heresy, because it is a sin against blind faith.

I believe it was Paul who first said that the irrationality of Christian should be considered to be actual proof for its views.

The body of work that Aristotle has produced has suffered quite a bit over time - much more so than that of his eminent teacher Plato. During most of the Middle Ages, Aristotle was only known as a logician in the European - and thus Latin and Christian - world. For a long time, his corpus was better known to the Arab world.
New translations in Latin, first based on the Arab translations and later based on Greek copies, of what was left of Aristotle's corpus sparked a lot of interest in the 12th century.

Aristotle's understanding of the workings of things like physics - though completely obsolete from a modern day's perspective - were clearly superior to the 'scientific' knowledge available and the 12th century and thus could not be ignored. It was Thomas' ambition to elaborate a reconciliation between Aristotle, whom he simply called 'The Philosopher', and Christian orthodoxy.

The fundamental problem he faces is of course the fact that as a christian he wishes to defend the idea of a God that has become known unto man through revelation. Such an idea would have been an absurdity, I think, to Aristotle. His argumentation is based on logic and reason and reads more like a work of theoretical speculation than a religious argumentation. There is absolutely nothing religious about Aristotle's God: it's a what we would call a principle, a law of nature.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:52 am

Yakima Canutt wrote:
it's been said that Thomas Aquinas was so fat that they had to cut a large semi-circle out of the table so he could fit

Indeed. And many have lamented the poor donkeys that had to carry the man on his travels. pale

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Tue Aug 09, 2016 6:01 am

Yakima Canutt wrote:
it's been said that Thomas Aquinas was so fat that they had to cut a large semi-circle out of the table so he could fit

I just bought a quite hefty volume collecting numerous writings of Umbert Eco on Medieval thought - 'Écrits sur la pensée au Moyen Âge, to be precise. A part from the academic studies that make up to lion's share of the book, it holds some more light-hearted texts Eco has written on the subject matter over the years, including a fictitious interview with Aquinas the night before his passing.

In the Eco interview, Aquinas laments the state of his aged and swollen body but finds some relieving pleasure in knowing that those poor monks will have to get his inert dead body back down somehow the next day. Laughing

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on Tue Aug 09, 2016 6:02 am

And let us not forget that Aquinas inspired this most profound of pop tunes:


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Re: No more Andy/nemo

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