No more Andy/nemo

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on May 16th 2016, 12:39 pm

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  pinhedz on May 16th 2016, 7:12 pm

I think there is ample empirical proof that humanity has been unable to figure out the origin of the universe and the origin of life. The empiricists seem to think that realization by itself is practically proof of a supreme being created in the philosopher's own image.

Do the empiricists believe that to say "There is no other explanation" is proof of God?

One attempt at a rational proof that I've heard is that "We all agree there is something we don't understand--that thing is God." Well, OK, but if I go along with that it just means that "God" becomes a word I use to say "I don't know." That doesn't lead me to belief in a supreme being created in my own image who rested on the seventh day after creation.
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On the other hand, whether or not the existence of God can be proved rationally, I am certain that the existence of God can't be disproved, because all we have to base our judgments on is the natural sciences. That means our tools are of no use in a supernatural realm.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  pinhedz on May 16th 2016, 8:34 pm

Andy wrote:I know you speak Russian, so I'm sure that you've experienced the tragedy of translations for yourself. ...
For more on that, see the Jamala Ukraine thread.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Yakima Canutt on May 16th 2016, 10:47 pm


but i mean here's the thing- according to Kant, we can have no knowledge of anything outside of experience, outside the scope of the spatio-temporal-causal order. Hence, there can be no knowledge of God, of the soul, of the afterlife, or anything else beyond that order. To compound this restriction, Kant also asserts that we also can have no “cognition” [Erkenntnis] of objects outside the scope of experience. While the former is less ambiguous, the latter has generated more debate, hanging very much on what it is to have a “cognition.”

Many have taken “cognition” to be a semantic notion, and so have taken Kant's denial of the cognizability of the supersensible as a denial of even the intelligibility of religious concepts. Thus, it is not merely that we cannot prove whether or not God exists, but the concept of God itself, like all other concepts of supersensible entities and properties, (allegedly) cannot even have meaning for us.



The former position, that we can have no knowledge of the supersensible, is textually well supported. Knowledge [Wissen], for Kant, follows its traditional tripartite model as justified-true-belief, and if there is neither experience nor rational proof of any supersensible claim, no such claim can meet with suitable justification.

The latter position, that we can have no cognition of supersensible objects, is likewise correct. However, the alleged implication that this makes meaningful thought about them impossible is false. Kant does not reject the thinkability of the supersensible, and, in fact, the body of arguments in the Transcendental Dialectic shows this to be clearly the case. If, for example, propositions about the supersensible were incoherent according to Kant, then he would not need his Antinomies or Paralogisms. Rather, he could sweep them all away quite simply through the charge that they fall short of the conditions for meaning.



The problem, thus, is not that we cannot coherently think the supersensible. It is, rather, that we can think about it in too many ways. Absent experience, reason is without a touchstone through which hypotheses can be refuted. Instead, so long as the ideas of reason are internally consistent, the faculty can construct a multitude of theses and antitheses about the supersensible. It can, moreover, argue quite robustly in favor of each, something we see both in the Antinomies and all the more grandly in the great tomes of the metaphysicians. The problem, for Kant, is thus not about meaning, but rather it is epistemic: having no possible experience of the supersensible, we lack the theoretical resources to adjudicate between competing claims. So, instead, to cognize, for Kant, is to think an object or proposition in relation to the order of nature and the material conditions that govern whether or not it obtains – what Kant calls the cognition's “Real Possibility.” The conditions for Real Possibility, in turn, provide the investigational framework through which we can verify or falsify what is being cognized.

“Cognition,” thus, is not a semantic notion, but epistemic. It is a mode of thinking that is not just fanciful imagining but is directed to objects whose reality can be determined. Thinking requires merely the logical possibility of what is being entertained. So long as it is not self-contradictory, it can be thought. Cognition, by contrast, embeds the thought in the material conditions for, or the Real Possibility of, the object of thought, something that is not possible once one steps beyond the scope of possible experience.

Hence, we cannot have a cognition of God because, as Kant argues in the Transcendental Dialectic's Ideal of Reason, there is no viable argument for God's existence. Likewise, we cannot prove or disprove a miracle, for its alleged supersensible cause is not something whose conditions are determinable for us. Even if we experience some event whose cause is supersensible, we have no way whatsoever to establish that this is so, and have nothing to guide our hypotheses about how to test for miracles or how they come to be.



None of this challenges the intelligibility of religious doctrines. So long as they are not self-contradictory, they are thinkable. It is just that their truth or falsehood cannot possibly be known. Moreover, since they are not within the spectrum of epistemic evaluation, we cannot opine regarding them, for opinion [Meinung], as Kant understands the term, is a mode of assent based upon the weighing of theoretical grounds (evidence and argument) for and against truth.

Yet, this does not leave us with agnosticism either. Along with knowledge and opinion, Kant identifies faith as our third legitimate mode of holding-to-be-true [Fürwahrhalten]. Faith is, for Kant, a mode of justified assent, though the nature of its justification is quite different from opinion and knowledge. It is not rooted in experience or argument, but rather in what he characterizes as the “needs of practical reason.” Hence, for Kant, religious belief finds its proper seat not in intellectual reflection but in our practical lives. Issuing from his Lutheran heritage, Kant regards the former, theoretical reason's attempt to have knowledge, as a serious threat to authentic religion. When religion is intellectualized, it alienates religion from the laity, makes them dependent upon a special class of theological experts, and, further, casts the appearance that it is through what one believes vs. how one lives that one finds salvation.

Moreover, Kant sees faith, unlike knowledge, as engaging with our will, calling it a “free assent.” This is important for the practical function of faith, since our commitment to morality does not so simply depend on our affirmation of the postulates, but in our free act of faith through which we more completely bind ourselves to morality. Morality, thus “inevitably leads to religion”, since we need the latter in order to sustain or fully realize our commitment to the former. This, however, must not be interpreted as “theological ethics,” as if the authority of the moral law depended upon God. It is not its authority that is in question (perhaps with the exception of the argument at  in the Critique of Practical Reason). Rather, this advance from morality to religion concerns how we bind ourselves to the former.



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.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  pinhedz on May 16th 2016, 11:02 pm

Actually, Kant says that there are things that we can know to be true a priori because they have to be true--every time--not just because we have observed them to be true.

For example, if we add 1 + 1 over and over, and observe that the sum equals 2 every time we do the addition, we would begin to gain confidence that if we add 1 + 1 one more time, it will equal 2 again.

But that's the wrong way to gain confidence. bounce

1 + 1 will equal 2 again, but not just because it always did before -- it will equal 2 because of the laws of arithmetic.
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It has been noted that, whereas architects reach their peak performance in their 50s, brilliant mathematicians show their brilliance as kids. That's because architects acquire wisdom after decades of observation and learning by experience, whereas mathematicians do not learn by experience--they just need to recognize that which is true because it has to be true--and they only have to see it once.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Yakima Canutt on May 16th 2016, 11:19 pm


according to Kant, there are three fundamental modes of (legitimate) “holding-to-be-true” [Fürwahrhalten]: knowledge, opinion, and faith. Whereas “persuasion” [Überredung] arises out of psychological biases or personal desires, knowledge, opinion and faith have grounds that are objectively valid. In the case of knowledge and opinion, these grounds are either experiential or theoretical proofs, while in the case of faith, its grounds are in the “needs of practical reason.” These needs, Kant maintains, are common to all, and thus in contrast to the subjective and idiosyncratic bases of “persuasion,” the grounds of faith, just like knowledge and opinion, are such that they ought to bring all to the same assent. Hence, quite in contrast to the popular conception of faith as a private mode of assent, with some sort of personal grounding unique to each person, faith is elevated above persuasion and made, like knowledge, a mode of legitimate “conviction” [Überzeugung] because its grounds, though still practical rather than theoretical/epistemic, are nevertheless, objective and universal.

The objective nature of faith is implicit in many of discussions, but is articulated most directly in a footnote found within the Critique of Practical Reason's section “On Assent from a Need of Pure Reason.” In this footnote, Kant responds to a criticism advanced by Thomas Wizenmann, who accuses him of advancing a form of religious assent that is ultimately just wishful thinking and self-deception. As Wizenmann claims, just as a man in love may delude himself about the putative beauty of his beloved, so likewise Kant has us subreptively transfer our personal wants into objective claims.

Kant's response is that a “need of practical reason” is not a matter of inclination or mere psychological bent. It is not, like desire, something idiosyncratic, contingent, or variable from one person to the next. He asserts instead that this need arises “from an objective determining ground of the will” and, at least as argued in the Critique of Practical Reason, the Highest Good is an object of faith for us, because it is “an a priori necessary object of our will and inseparably bound up with the moral law”. As such, he contends that “the impossibility of the first must also prove the falsity of the second”, and thus, our practical conviction or faith is secured by something that necessarily pertains to us all, via the authority and bindingness of the moral law.

Nevertheless, there are some important ways in which practical assent is distinct from its theoretical counterpart. As noted above, it is a “free assent,” rather than a movement of the intellect, as knowledge is often portrayed. In addition, Kant distinguishes between the certainty of faith vs. that of knowledge, noting that “I must not even say ‘It is morally certain that there is a God,’ but rather ‘I am morally certain’. Hence, even though both faith and knowledge are considered certain for us, and even though faith, like knowledge, is a form of conviction rather than persuasion, the nature of the commitment still does have, in its own way, a subjective quality.

This quality may be understood through an analogy to Descartes' Cogito. Like this famous argument, there is a first-person privileged stance through which the certainty of faith arises. We see this most clearly in the Second Critique's Fact of Reason. Although it is “apodictically certain” it, nevertheless, “cannot be proved by any deduction, by any efforts of the theoretical reason, speculative or empirically supported”. It is, rather, through the first-person awareness of one's own deliberative activity that the bindingness of the moral law upon our own selves is recognized. Hence, there is no argument we can communicate and share to prove that we are all bound by the moral law. The certainty instead is only available to each of us with regards to the bindingness of the moral law for our own selves. Like the Cogito, we can communicate to others what they must reflect upon in order to become certain, but we cannot claim certainty about the bindingness of the moral law upon them. The Fact of Reason has, rather, a first-person character such that we can only be certain about the bindingness of the moral law upon ourselves.

This is why Kant claims that “Belief yields a conviction that is not communicable (because of its subjective ground)”. It further explains what he means here and elsewhere by the “subjective ground” of faith. As should be apparent through his response to Wizenmann, the subjective character of faith is quite distinct from the subjective-psychological inclinations of persuasion. The causes for assent in the case of the latter are common to all. By contrast, all (finite) agents bound by the moral law encounter this law in accordance with the Fact of Reason, and will all, likewise, face the “needs of practical reason” that lead to the Highest Good and its postulates.

As previously mentioned, another important feature of faith for Kant is that it allows us to extend cognition into the supersensible. This does not mean that we gain through it some mystical intuition. Rather, his claim is merely that unlike other thoughts about things-in-themselves, we have some guidance through which we can adjudicate between different possibilities. As is illustrated by the Antinomies, Kant does not deny the thinkability of things-in-themselves, but rather once concepts are extended beyond the realm of experience, we are without a basis to justifiably endorse one theoretical construction over another. By contrast, because the needs of practical reason gives us direction, we can have a determinate cognition of God. We do not merely muse about possibilities here, but instead postulate an objective reality, one that is shaped and justified by the needs of practical reason.

It is, however, important to note that the above description pertains to just “moral faith” or “pure rational faith,” for Kant also uses Glaube quite expansively through the corpus. This breadth is due in part to the simple fact that Glaube has both a mundane and religious use, corresponding to the English “belief” and “faith” respectively. Second, it is important to note that many of Kant's discussions of faith, especially those prior to 1790, are co-mingled with the analyses found in Georg Friedrich Meier's Auszug aus der Vernunftlehre, the textbook from which Kant lectured on logic for forty years. Hence, it is important to recognize that Kant's own understanding of faith developed over time, shifting away from Meier's treatment, to one that became more tightly connected to Kant's own practical philosophy.

Lastly, we find in Religion and the Conflict of the Faculties an array of new technical distinctions, including “saving faith,” “servile faith,” and, most importantly, “ecclesiastical faith” and “historical faith.” Although the last of these terms is also used by Meier, in Religion, Kant appropriates it for a different purpose. In Meier, the term has to do with a belief based on testimony, such as we find in Kant's Lectures on Logic as well as in his 1786 “What does it Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking.” However, in Religion (and in the Conflict of the Faculties), Kant uses it to refer to actual religious traditions and their doctrines. So, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. are referred to as “historical faiths” and their doctrines are objects of “historical faith” or “ecclesiastical faith.” We will return to Kant's distinction between pure rational faith and historical faith below.


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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  pinhedz on May 16th 2016, 11:35 pm

^
Yes, of course I was going to say that next, but let's deal with one thing at a time. Shocked

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on May 17th 2016, 4:40 am

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  pinhedz on May 17th 2016, 9:52 am

Thesis in the works--total immersion time.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Yakima Canutt on May 18th 2016, 1:05 am



i guess i should come clean and admit i was being a Bob Dylan by copy-pasting without attribution the good folks at Stanford


http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  pinhedz on May 18th 2016, 8:19 am

The pinhed is shocked. SHOCKED!!! Shocked

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on May 18th 2016, 9:16 am

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

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  pinhedz on May 19th 2016, 12:22 pm

Is the thesis part of a PhD program? Are you soon to become Herr Doktor Andy?

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on May 19th 2016, 2:35 pm

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  Yakima Canutt on May 19th 2016, 3:19 pm


those can be related fields, I saw a lecture that claimed the origins of the #BlackLivesMatter movement can be found in the German counter-Enlightenment philosophy of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Heidegger.  

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  pinhedz on May 19th 2016, 3:45 pm

Andy wrote:No, no: it's a bit less fancy Razz
I'm not sure "Master Nemo" is any less fancy. Cool

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on May 19th 2016, 3:50 pm

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  pinhedz on May 19th 2016, 4:52 pm

Andy wrote: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.
I have a guess as to what Yakima might have been referring to--but I will not put words in Yakima's mouth. silent

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  pinhedz on May 19th 2016, 4:55 pm

Relative to nothing:

"The highest civilization and culture, apart from the ancient Hindus and Egyptians, are found exclusively among the white races; and even with many dark peoples, the ruling caste, or race, is fairer than the rest, and has, therefore, evidently immigrated, for example, the Brahmins, the Inca, and the rulers of the South Sea Islands. All this is due to the fact that necessity is the mother of invention, because those tribes that emigrated early to the north, and there gradually became white, had to develop all their intellectual powers, and invent and perfect all the arts in their struggle with need, want and misery, which in their many forms, were brought about by the climate. This they had to do in order to make up for the parsimony of nature, and out of it came their high civilization."

-- Arthur Schopenhouer

[The pinhed can't help thinking that, if emigrating to the north lead to nothing but "need, want and misery, which in their many forms, were brought about by the climate," maybe emigrating to the north was not a sign of superior smarts. ]

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Yakima Canutt on May 19th 2016, 10:45 pm




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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Yakima Canutt on May 29th 2016, 7:46 pm


where is God?



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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on June 6th 2016, 2:08 pm

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  pinhedz on June 6th 2016, 3:38 pm

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

I was thinking maybe "WHAT is God."

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.

Unfortunately, having said that, the intelligent design advocate thinks he has just proven the entire book of Genesis.

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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Yakima Canutt on June 6th 2016, 3:58 pm

"what if God was one of us?"

-some song Prince covered




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Re: No more Andy/nemo

Post  Andy on June 6th 2016, 4:34 pm

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

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