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Rene Descarte is the Father of Modern Philosophy. (1596-1650). He argued that we
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Rene Descarte is the Father of Modern Philosophy. (1596-1650). He argued that we should only accept an idea as true if the truth is self evident. He argued that a complex idea should be broken into its simple parts and examined. He is associated with skepticism.
He agues: ” As soon as we think we correctly perceive something, we are spontaneously convinced that it is true. Now if this conviction is so firm that it is impossible for us to ever have any reason for doubting what we are convinced of , then there are no further questions for us to ask: we have everything that we could reasonably want…. For the supposition which we are making here is of a conviction so firm that it is quite incapable of being destroyed; and such a conviction is clearly the same as the most perfect certainty. ( AT 7:144f,CSM 2:103)
Doubt is the contrast of certainty. Knowledge is to based on complete or perfect certainty. This is a high standard of justification.
His most famous quote is “I think, therefore I am.” You have to think to exist or even ask the question.
He argues that all human beings are born with the power of innate thought through the power of God.
He takes ideas you have seen before and expands upon them. He is concerned with truth. He is concerned with asking questions to find truth. If there are more questions, the person has not arrived at what is true. The person is in process.
He was the philosophical tutor of Queen Christine of the Netherlands.
Philosophy was considered important since the ruler was to work for the common good of all. ( Aristotle was the tutor of Alexander the Great) The ruler was to be tutored in philosophy. There was a connection between philosophy and good government.
John Locke was an English philosopher and physician. He lived from 1632 to 1704. He is considered to be the Father of liberalism. He believed human nature is characterized by reason and tolerance. He also believed human nature allowed people to be selfish.
He was aware of another philosopher Thomas Hobbs(1588-1697) who argues that men are essentially machines with even their thoughts and emotions operating according to physical laws in chains of cause and effect. He felt humans always pursue their own self interests and are essentially greedy. He saw society as a larger version of this human reality operating according to the same laws. He sees geometry as the branch of knowledge that best can be used to form the basis of philosophy. He believed that in mans natural state moral ideas do not exist. Good is what people desire and evil is what they avoid. In order to avoid conflict that leads to civil war he argues for a monarchy or a structure of obedience to one central authority.
John Locke believed there were fundamental natural human rights. These are life, liberty and property. ( you will note hat these words are in our Declaration of Independence ) He believed people form government by mutual agreement. When a king loses the consent of the governed, a society may remove him. Government is formed to protect natural human rights.
Our Founding Fathers were philosophers. They were aware of the writings of the philosophers we have discussed. One of the outstanding aspects of the government they created was the ability within the structure to accommodate change. They created three bodies that monitor each other so that there was no absolute monarchy. Change could occur through a process that allowed for new ideas and growth There were founding principles and a dialogue that would allow for agreed upon laws to be followed,
1. Thomas Hobbs argues that humans are naturally greedy. Do you agree/disagree/why? It is built into us. 2. Greed is seen as a vice, wanting too much of something. Aristotle argued that we should aim for the “golden mean” which is in between wanting too much (greed) and being too generous. Is Aristotle’s concept the way we have been taught to think and act? 3. Our Founding Fathers incorporated Locke into the fabric of our country. Hobbs believes we need a central authority that can create laws for societies good, for societies benefit and mandate that citizens follow the law. He favored a framework such as a monarchy. Using the pandemic as a example, which framework do you believe can best result in the elimination of COVID 19?
4. If we go back to Plato and Aristotle, government should help form us as virtuous people. Taking the pandemic as an example, take two virtues ( i previously gave you a list) and explain how these virtues if they were embraced by our society as a whole would impact the way we deal with the pandemic. Is it possible to mandate these two virtues?
4. Can we support a right to life and at the same time a right to liberty? Do you see this as consistent or not? 5. An issue we face today is that of women’s rights and our history in the western world of slavery. At he time of many of these philosophers rights were thought of in terms of the male gender. Women were subject to men. Our system, because of built in mechanisms for change has addressed these issues. Or has it? Explain your position and your reasoning.
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