Monday, June 12, 2017

Classroom Post #7



Oh Sophie’s World, how I will miss you. Sort of. The final chapters of the novel reflect perfectly my view of the story as a whole, I suppose. In particular, The Big Bang. The last chapter flits between Sophie and Hilde’s point of view, showing the disconnect between their realities, leaving the reader wondering which one is really real. Hilde and her father take up the role that Alberto and Sophie have held throughout the book, with her father explaining a concept, while Hilde listens and provides arguably witty commentary. In this case, they discuss the Big Bang – the creation and expansion of the universe. It presents the interesting case that, despite what we think we know, there will always be more theories and philosophy on our reality. The father compares our normal view to others’, like the Indian view of how the universe works in a cycle. Throughout the chapter, Sophie screws around and basically assaults Hilde in an attempt to gain her attention; it only sort of works, and I’m still confused as all heck.


On page 499, Hilde’s father says something very interesting to me. He says, “The only way we can look out into space, then, is to look back in time. We can never know what is like now. We only know what it was like then.” This quote actually seems very insightful to me, and says a little bit about philosophy to me. In fact, it calls into question the very existence of philosophy itself. After all, if all the stars and universe that we see is in the past, then what’s the point of thinking about it? Perhaps that thought is a bit extreme, but truly, if everything around us is in the past, then are we living on old information? This gets a little existentialist, but then what’s the point? Why do we think about anything? Why am I writing this??

Ending this class with a bang, I guess.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Classroom Post #6


Now we're getting to the wacky stuff - let's jump into Freud's philosophy.


Freud’s philosophy focuses heavily on the youth and animalistic nature of man. In our younger years, he claims, we have urges for certain types of stimulation, and our receiving of that stimulation affects who we are as adults. For example, in our youngest years, we have the oral stage. We constantly want to put things in our mouths. Too much of that, or not enough, can lead to oral fixations like smoking when we’re older. The different areas of this desire for stimulation are called the psychosexual stages, changing with our age. Probably Freud’s most well-known concept in the psychosexual stages is the phallic stage, frequently compared to the Oedipus complex. This is the desire for a parent to give sexual stimulus, usually leading to a better connection with one parent or another. This eventually leads to a fixation on romantic interests similar to that parent later in life.
The other major part of Freud’s philosophy is the problem of mental illnesses, in a way. He claims that all problems derive from a trauma, usually experienced as a child. Hence he introduces the idea of psychoanalysis, where a patient will talk with a specialist until they feel comfortable enough to talk about the root of their problem, thus allowing the specialist to help them.


Right off the bat, I’ll say that I don’t agree with Freud’s concept of the psychosexual stages. Is it because I find it kinda gross? Possibly. Could it have something to do with the fact that it’s practically unprovable? Probably. And that’s about as far as I’m willing to go with that idea, mostly because it fails spectacularly at explaining my own situation. I remember one of the stages having to do with homosexuality, but it never goes farther than that. In my case, I’m aromantic-asexual, meaning I’m not attracted to anyone, ever. But my parents sure as hell weren’t aro-ace, so why am I like this? Freud just doesn’t cover enough to be believable to me.
His ideas on mental health, on the other hand, are interesting and progressive. We know now that not everything is caused by a trauma – a lot of people are born with problems like anxiety or depression, although there are still a lot of trauma-caused issues in people today. Still. His invention of psychoanalysis helps millions of people today. He essentially created the therapist! And I have so many friend’s who’ve received help from therapists that I have no doubt that they work. So, a tip of the hat to Freud on that one.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Classroom Post #4


Are these out of order? Yes. Do I care? No. Should I? Probably.


Earlier in the year, we covered the ideology of the golden mean, developed by Aristotle. Empiricism and rationalism are very similar to the golden mean, in that they are the two extremes of a good thinking brain. The former follows the materialistic view, that truth is derived from our senses and the world around us. The problem with this view is that we become so enraptured with ‘what is’ that we forget ‘what could be’. It’s a firm, solid view, but can be a little too focused on our current place, rather than where we could be. Rationalism, on the other end of the scale, supports the truth of the mind. It builds up importance of mind over matter. Rationalism’s issues is, as you might expect, the opposite of Empiricism’s. It focuses far too much on logic, and not on the world around us. Rationalist’s heads are too far up in the clouds, you could say, devoting their lives to the concept, rather than the practice. Neither are in optimal way of thinking, in my opinion, and place too much emphasis on one aspect of our world. A good thinker would use all of the resources available to them to reach their conclusions, not just the ones that suited their needs.


Someone we learned about more recently, Immanuel Kant, had an opinion on this situation. If those two are the extremes of a thinker, then the viewpoint that best falls in line with mine is Kant’s – he proposes a golden mean between the two ideas, much like I prefer. He thought that both had their good points, but were each too narrow-minded to get the full picture. His version of truth depended on what we knew with our senses, and then processed using our logic. What we sense and perceive falls in line with our vies and thoughts, and thus, he reconciled these two views into a balanced way of thinking.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Classroom Post #5


Yes, this is out of order. The other one is coming soon, probably.


I’ll be honest here, Sofie’s World is not making this any easier to understand. In general, I don’t have a terribly strong understanding of economics, and this isn’t making it any better. I will, however, do my best to explain what little knowledge I’ve managed to gather.

Marx, despite being an advocate for communism, is not a horrible person. Quite the opposite really, he seems to have a strong sense of justice, and a plan for a better world. Only problem is, humans are probably just a bit too greedy for that plan to be effective. Essentially, he recognizes the large gaps in wealth and power stemming from capitalism, and longs for change. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer. Not good times for us lower class folk. He also points out the issue in the combination of technology and capitalism – more machines mean less jobs, theoretically, leading to less money circulation, then less money in businesses, which brings in lower wages, even less circulation, and you get the idea. Hence he claims that capitalism is a self-destructive system that will eventually be overthrown as one of the many steps towards communism. Now, things got a little hazier here for me, but the gist of it is that Marx grossly oversimplified the issue. He didn’t take into account human nature, or the ideals in our minds that are imposed by our current society. Communism only works if everyone works together, and far too many are perfectly comfortable where they are. Marx’s heart is in the right place, but the economy is as hard to control as it is for me to understand.


Again, tricky, since I have very little knowledge, or even care, for economics. But in a way, it does remind me of an activity I did in my Excel class. Marx makes a huge connection between the consumer and the producer, that despite becoming alienated from the products we create, we still need them to survive. The balance between business and household is delicate, and too much money in either one can throw everything off. It also shows the impact of large, powerful corporations on, smaller, individually owned stores.

In our activity, we were split up between companies and families, and given a set amount of money. From there, businesses were to buy labor and resources to make products for their stores, and families were expected to get jobs so they could afford to buy the products. The government handled money and social care, but that wasn’t too much of a problem, or so we thought. My ‘bakery’ was doing quite well for a while, but towards the end, the government started to run out of money, and needed to be bailed out by the people. So, would it be the businesses or the households who would have to cough up the money? In the meantime, two other companies gained a lot of money and power, so when the decision-making time came, they were consulted. In the end, it was the companies who would bail out the government, by paying a fee of $6000. The catch? Only the small companies had to do it. The corporations were sitting high and dry. Fast forward to the final round, where us itty bitty stores were struggling to sell our products. The families, in turn, panicked because we weren’t buying any of their labor anymore. Well, the poor ones, anyways. A couple of well-off families sat back and watched the chaos. In the end, I tried to make a girl from the households betray her family by stealing their money and coming to me. Alas, it didn’t work. Still, the activity showed a good deal of how the wealth can be distributed unfairly, and lead to great struggle for many, while a small few flourish.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Classroom Post #3


Today's topic of joy; the Dark Ages! Thrilling!

Now, contrary to belief, the medieval time period was not all waging sieges on castles and being hung in stocks to receive rotten tomatoes in the face. I was rather surprised myself to find that these trying times did indeed have some rather well-known philosophers. There are philosophers in every era, of course. No matter how torn down your civilization may be, you'll always have some who question what their place in the rubble is. I wasn't, however, expecting such an odd continuation of Greek philosophy.

Instead of bringing about new ideas entirely, some philosophers in medieval times brought together old famous theories with the ideology of the Church. I was interested in this a bit, as I would’ve thought that the ways of the Church during these times would inhibit the natural way of philosophy quite a bit. But no, it was actually men of great religious importance who came up with these odd bastardizations of Greek philosophy, shaping it to fit their beliefs and religion at the time. It was a peculiar sort of cohabitation, I suppose. They didn’t mean exactly the same thing, but ended up supporting each other. I think I should’ve anticipated this, had I been thinking clearer; the whole idea of philosophy is that as time goes on, we shape and reshape with our new discoveries in science and reason. This way, we can build on the ideas to help have them make more sense in our world.

On another note, I really enjoyed the idea of ‘Sophia’, the woman form of God. I’d never heard of her before, and was pleasantly surprised to find that she wasn’t just some sexy twin-like creature, dainty and a symbol of woman’s place in the world or some crap like that. Her name means ‘wisdom’, and her appearance was associated with an extremely intelligent woman at the time, Hildegard. It’s just nice to know that even back then, women could still be recognized for their brains. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Classroom Post #2


In this bit, I wanted to take a little look at some of Socrates' views. 

Firstly, one that I agree with very much; his idea that accepting his limited knowledge made him more intelligent. This makes sense to me because by understanding that he doesn't know everything, or even a lot, he opens himself up to learning more about the world. The less he knows, the more he wants to learn. We do this a lot in the real world, on a smaller scale. We admit to ourselves that we don't fully understand something, and then use our resources to try to figure it out. In the process, we probably learn other things as well. For example, I might wonder what cellphone batteries are made of, and while I'm searching for that, I might find out what makes up the other components of a phone. 

Second, Socrates' theory that those who know what's good/right will do what's good/right, because it will make them happy. Now, I don't necessarily agree with this one, as much as I would like to. It'd be nice if this were the case. Then our only problem would be properly teaching right from wrong. But the fact of the matter is that it's not so black and white, in a couple of different ways. For one, how do we distinguish right from wrong? What if an action is good for an individual, but not the community, and vice versa? How about actions that benefit an entire country, but at the expense of another's? And then we have to make sure we're actively making these 'right' choices, not just doing what's convenient or pressed upon us. In a modern sense, we can use the example of addiction. Those who have an addiction may know their right from their wrong, but that doesn't mean that they'll necessarily make that decision. They may know that it's wrong to steal from a store, but they still may make that choice for whatever purpose they think takes priority.

Heavy stuff to think about just before bed, huh.

Late Work Edit


The most compelling and interesting arguments for the existence of God, in my opinion are Aquinas' Cosmological arguments. They may not make me believe in God, but they do create an enticing image and idea of him. The first is the argument of motion, the idea that things cannot be moved unless moved by something else, and that God is the ultimate mover. Next is the argument of causation. Similar to the previous one, this argument states that 'things are caused', and that God is the ultimate causer. Then comes the contingency argument, essentially saying that the world can't be made of only contingent beings (beings that might not have existed), since then the entire world could've not existed. So, there must be at least one non-contingent being, who has to exist - God. The last is the degrees argument. This explains that there are varying degrees of perfection, and that the pinnacle of that perfection is God, to whom we make our comparisons against. 


An interesting thing to point out about these arguments is the basis of infinite regress. This is the idea of something's cause being caused by something else, moving farther and farther back into infinity. Aquinas claims that this is impossible, that something had to have been there first in order for the cycle of causing to start. I was going to counter this with the Big Bang theory, but even that had to have a cause. Still, this doesn't necessarily prove that there is a God, or at least not in the sense that we normally think of him as. Wouldn't he have to be caused as well? Why is he the one who gets to be uncaused? What if all of us are uncaused?  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Classroom Post #1


So, I've been thinking a bit about Democritus' theory of atoms; essentially, that everything is made of the same atoms, broken down and recombined like Lego bricks. He also claims that the soul exists in this form of atoms, instead of as some ethereal energy that ascends to heaven at death, or whatever you believe. When a person dies, their soul is broken down into atoms and released into the world again, to made into a new soul. I don't have any concrete ideas on this philosophy, as interesting as it is, but I do have some questions. Basic stuff first; how much of this 'soul atom' stuff is floating around in the atmosphere? Is there just a bunch of it waiting to be used, or is there a limited amount, depleted by our growing population? This then begs the question - how do these soul atoms form into a soul? How do they 'know' when to converge into a complete soul? Maybe these atoms surround us in our daily life, and are simply attracted to the body of a newborn. Do these atoms contain little bits of their previous lives, certain attributes or impressions in them, or are they just plain canvases on which a person paints their personality? Also, how big are these souls that we're talking about? Where do they reside in the body? I suppose that it makes sense that there would be no physical evidence in Democritus' time as to where the soul exists, since the soul would disperse as soon as the body died. But in our time, we can use technology to see inside the body before it dies, so how come we haven't seen any evidence of this soul? Is it just too small for us to notice? Or maybe the atoms don't form a concrete soul, instead flowing through our body as mini-entities, connected by the vessel that is our body?

This all sounds rather unrealistic when re-reading it, but it's still a pretty interesting concept. Good story-building stuff.