A philosophy about the physical universe, for example, that accepts as data the centrality of the earth is going to be blind to many insights that become possible through a more scientific cosmology. Knowledge is taken here to be an integration of data with some degree of insight into the significance, the meaning, or the workings of whatever the data are about.
Understanding is another word we shall use, and we take it to be stronger than knowledge : we have to know something well before we can understand it. Wise persons, that is, have come to at least some answers to the basic questions, are secure in the answers, and are in a position to teach them to others. As far as I know, all cultures have wise persons and honor them. Their fellow members of the culture do not necessarily expect them to know all the answers to all questions, but they do esteem them for knowing the answers to the important questions, the ones that count.
Furthermore, human cultures have pre-scientific and non-religious explanations of the world and their place in it. None of this is philosophy unless it reaches such a degree of abstraction that it is systematic. The product of this rigorous process is philosophy as a body of knowledge, an object of study in itself. The stories, myths, and legends of all the rest contain many philosophical insights, but they are not philosophy. In "Identity and the Question of African Philosophy" Robert Birt reviews a number of current opinions concerning African philosophical endeavors, especially those in the past.
He makes it clear that those who require that philosophy be only that which is done by professional academic philosophers of Western culture ask too much of non-literate philosophical thinking, which certainly forms part of traditional African cultures. Philosophy and Activities Related to it. The philosophic method of inspection and reflection noted above is similar to the scientific method. In both there is a process of searching, groping, speculating, but there are important differences between the two processes.
Basically, of course, science begins with the observation of the macrophenomena and microphenomena of the world, but philosophy starts with knowledge that has already been scientifically gained. It is said that induction is the reasoning method of science whereas deduction is that of philosophy, but this distinction no longer seems as clear-cut and useful as it formerly did, and is probably not a useful way to compare philosophy with science.
Another key difference between philosophic and scientific method has to do with hypothesis formulating and testing. Both methods include these two phases, although philosophic hypothesis stating is apt to be more linguistically diffuse and the methods of testing differ markedly. Along with the hypothesis science sets up a way to verify it, and each verified hypothesis constitutes a block of knowledge which, presumably, has some practical value and which leads to the construction of further hypotheses.
There is, however, no such chain in philosophic method.
Philosophic hypotheses are strictly explanations, that is to say, clarifications or interpretations of the philosophic data, and there is no way to test them aside from their own explanatory power. Obviously, various ones can be compared and contrasted among themselves.
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Scientists who cross over the line between verifiable to non-verifiable hypotheses have become ipso facto philosophers. The non-verifiable aspect of philosophical statements leads many people who are steeped in the scientific method to claim that philosophy not only makes statements which cannot be verified, but also that these statements are meaningless or devoid of content. We do find that gradually many questions which used to be answered philosophically now find scientific answers.
The philosopher welcomes this progress and uses it to direct his or her attention away from useless questions to useful ones, which stand out in sharper relief because of the improved scientific knowledge which serves as a basis for the philosophic enterprise. There remains one element important for a comparison of philosophy and science. Science positively and aggressively acknowledges only one source of human knowledge, that which enters through the senses, is quantifiable, and is manipulated by logical reasoning. According to some, philosophy builds only on knowledge gained by this source, but according to others, there is also intuitive knowledge which knows some things about the world directly, without the intermediary of the senses.
How much this kind of knowledge can be manipulated by reasoning and quantified is a further philosophic question. Science, on its own principles, cannot know whether there is or is not such a thing as intuition. Philosophy also is closely related to art and religion. Each of these three is a way of describing the world, a language, if you like, but the three diverge in their viewpoints on the world, in their symbols for representing it, and in their affective experience of it.
Philosophy is the least affective of the three, but even it often implies a way of life which is a broad affective state. It does not use many symbols beyond language, and it communicates only with a small minority of people because of the difficulty it has in expressing itself in the way that it must. Religion, for its part, is heavy with symbolism, is highly affective, communicates in one way or the other with most of the world's population, and it considers itself a guide to experiencing that which is totally unknowable and inexpressible.
Art is symbolism. Its many forms involve many kinds of affective response ranging from pure esthetic experience to rich passion, and it reaches all the world's population, although in extremely varied forms. Its subjects are not only immensely varied, but they are treated in an astonishing variety of ways.
Philosophy, religion, and art are related, and they are greatly intermingled, but the most difficult distinction to be made among them is between philosophy and religion. At the risk of oversimplifying the distinction between the two we can pay attention to two further differences which have a bearing on the present line of thought. The relationship between this intuition and the non-scientific intuition mentioned above is one of the questions of both philosophy and religion. Obviously, as an affective phenomenon religious experience can be studied scientifically, whereas religious intuition as a form of knowing is not within the range of scientific study.
The role of language , not just as a vehicle of communication concerning religious experience, but also as an integral part of it, is dealt with by Ben-Ami Scharfstein in his Ineffability. Furthermore, he writes from the perspective of comparative religion and philosophy rather than from a mere Western background. Philosophy discourses about matters which are serious, but which are not all vital to human life.
Religion, on the contrary, is exclusively about matters which are proposed to be of great importance and concern. As such it lends itself to shared societal forms with ethical codes. As I gathered ideas for the paper t he comparisons seemed to come to me spontaneously, but when I went to write the paper I realized that I had read an article which proposed something similar to it. Unable then to locate the article, I completed the ASIS presentation, claiming neither that it was nor that it was not my idea.
I did, however, show a chart which I myself had devised. It was this:. The divisions of philosophy. What ought I do? What may I hope for? What is man? It is common for expositions of Western philosophy to begin with questions such as Kant raises and similar ones. By no means do the philosophers all proceed in the same order, and I will propose the questions here in an order which, I think, represents their interrelationship clearly. The term epistemology is used for the more speculative aspects of this philosophy of knowledge , and its techniques of application are the various forms of logic.
Having established to our satisfaction that human knowledge is valid at least to some knowable extent, we look at the world. First at the whole of it. That is, we ask, what can be said about everything there is and anything there could be? The notion of a general study of being is a rather daunting one to people who are accustomed to fractionalizing knowledge into the various sciences and who see a Grand Unified Theory of Everything exclusively as a function of subatomic physics. Nevertheless, the philosophy of being , which is also called ontology , has a secure place in the world of philosophers.
The general study of ontology leads us in three specific directions:. This is often called natural theology. This can be called general philosophy of the observable world. The terms "cosmogony" and "cosmology" more properly "philosophical cosmogony" and "philosophical cosmology" have been used to name this branch of philosophy, but they are currently out of favor among philosophers, although scientists use them in their accounts of the observable world.
Aside from the terms used, philosophy of the world is not a prime concern of contemporary philosophers. Still, it is not completely lacking, as can be shown by philosophical treatment of the immediate world of human experience, the environment, as we shall encounter in the section on environmental and ecological ethics under Special Questions of Ethics.
First published in Although explicitly mentioning the weakness of the human mind, he proposes that syntheses of these opposites are possible within the limits of our understanding. The flow of his thought is quite clear, although the points along the way are obscured by the esoteric terminology which he invents for the sake of explanation.
It appears me that there is little to be said about metaphysical cosmology outside of what Whitehead says in this work and that he says it making allowance for the terminology as well as it can be said. While the work centers on cosmology, it reaches far into ontology and natural theology, but very little into philosophy of people and society. Ontology and the specific directions within it constitute traditional speculative philosophy, i. Such speculation is sometimes termed "metaphysics," and it is in this sense that we shall use the word metaphysics.
We will return to this topic below under its own heading. With a foundation in epistemology and metaphysics the philosopher can go on to consider various fields. There are philosophies of religion, of history, of politics; there are aesthetics and ethics. The only one of these which is of concern to us is ethics, the philosophy of human action.
This scrutiny of the appropriateness of human actions is a prominent field of human speculative endeavor in our time. Although many efforts have been made to develop ethics without relating it to epistemology and metaphysics, traditionally it has been considered a branch of philosophy, and this is the way we will proceed. Postulates and Reasoning.
Although some knowledge and its validity are derived from other knowledge by processes of reasoning, not all knowledge can be so justified. Various philosophical explanations of which knowledge comes first have been made, and they all have in common the experience of the human observer. Accordingly, we postulate acceptance of the observing subject who is not the whole of its observed object and who has some accurate knowledge of the same. This way of putting it rejects only radical skepticism, which has a perennial appeal, but which deprives of value all intellectual discourse, including discourse about itself.
As Nozick points out, attempts to refute skepticism do not satisfy the skeptic; better we should learn from the skeptic how to be cautious in trusting what we think we know. Philosophical Explanations , chapter 3. A further postulate, linked to that of the observer, is that of multiple observers and of communication between them by means of language.
The mere presence of multiple objects in the world would not entail a multiplicity of observers, but the interchange of language shows that some other entities are observing as I am and that we can discourse about ourselves and about our observations. Language is an imperfect vehicle of communication, which, by following its own rules, can make absurd statements. Thus, "This statement is meaningless," "I never tell the truth," or even "No truthful statement can be made" are not only grammatically correct even "All triangles are hot" is grammatically correct , but they link concepts which are related.
The strengths and weakness of language are topics of great concern in contemporary philosophical and scientific activity. A century ago positivism, scientific reductionism and the quantification of logic led such outstanding philosophers as Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein and others of the School of British Analytic Philosophy to minute analyses of language, its function and its limits.
Now much of this has been tempered by the still more advanced and mature analyses of contemporary philosophers. The core lesson of Analytic Philosophy, however, is never to be out of the minds of philosophers: use extreme caution to anchor words in reality. In these notes I am trying to be careful in the use of language. As far as I can see, 1 is a particular pitfall of inchoate philosophies, such as that of the Pre-Socratics and the Pre-Confucians as well as of Hegelianism and 2 is a defect shared by such otherwise diverse philosophies as Scholasticism, Bergsonianism, and Existentialism.
A remainder or residue that is almost everything. For in holding that which is different as the same, or in holding one or more pieces of material - one or more things - as another, there remains that which is different The remainder not exhausted by material is not anything in particular, it is open, but the manner in which it is open is influenced by the material. This remainder will be referred to as 'texture'".
He intends to operate within a post-kantian, post analytic philosophical context. But by stating that closure and the associated activities apply to absolutely everything, including reflexively closure itself, he joins the ranks of those whose think that an overall description of reality is an analysis of it. His concepts are close to the act and potency etc. Too bad, for he missed the opportunity to reason from the atemporally undifferentiated to the object-world of Western philosophy.
When I read the review of this in the Times Literary Ssupplement of March 1, I thought perhaps he was coming from the Chinese worldview, but nothing in the book as much as hints that he knows about this!
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Presented in its extreme versions, each of these three theories has long since been discredited, but each at least represents a phase of philosophical understanding. The interplay between the above three positions was treated, throughout most of the history of Western philosophy, as a metaphysical question, but that was before it became necessary to distinguish epistemology from metaphysics.
For the most part, the inclusion of this matter in epistemology needs no explanation since Kant, but there are those who still maintain that the prime concern of ontology is, how does the general exist? The best example for modern minds of the meaningfulness of this question is its application to us humans: which is more real, the individual or society? Premoderns would have phrased it, which is more real, individual human beings or mankind?
Only extremists are willing to answer that question when it is asked in these terms. In this framework Gottfried Martin proposes in General Metaphysics Its Problems and its Method that there are three known although there could, he says, be more positions on the matter, Plato's, Aristotle's, and Kant's. The being of the general is respectively Idea, law of nature, and activity of thought which threesome was seen by Hegel p. The first to ask what being means was Plato, in the Sophist p. In the 20th century the formalism of Hilbert, the logicism of Russell, and the intuitionism of Brouwer were "intimately connected" with respectively the same philosophers p.
Each of the three positions has strengths and weaknesses; each is an incomplete approach to understanding, each leads to aporias insoluble puzzles , none reduces to the other, and none prevails. Also, the process of our receiving the forms, species intelligibilis etc,. Others he mentions in this context are Descartes, Leibnitz at length and Hegel, who thought, unwisely, that the difficulties in reconciling the three positions could be overcome by pushing the dialectical method which is in each of the three to some extent to the extreme.
The position which states that only concrete, singular, entities are real at all is called nominalism , and it would almost seem that nominalism holds sway in modern thinking in asmuch as singular, concrete entities are the units with which science builds its theoretical structures.
Thus nominalism is not incompatible with the study of sets and classes from a logical-mathematical point of view. Of course we can view the world as the raw data for sets and classes of our own devising, and this logico-mathematical approach works functionally, enabling scientists, engineers, logicians, and literary deconstructionists to communicate among themselves. The existence of a set or class, however, does not explain why its elements belong to it. The explanation lies in the common characteristics of the elements: what is it that makes them common, and the possible answers to this question throw us back to the original question of how the mind works and how it relates to external reality.
It appears to me that amidst the debris of discarded methods for answering this question there is a modern one, systems theory, which does justice both to scientific knowledge and philosophical tradition, and I will devote some space to this under Questions of Ontology: questions of the philosophy of being. Rationalism can be considered possible only if human thought is completely and unfailingly accurate in its interpretation of the world. A discovery of modern linguistics, however, is that various natural languages interpret the world in markedly different ways. In languages which do not have a continuum of time, and in those which do not separate words into two basic classes of substantives and verbs the unconsciously possessed worldview of native speakers of the language is radically different from that of the native speakers of the Indo-European languages.
Thus it is now scientifically temerarious to hold that a universally satisfying rationalistic analysis of the world must be made on the bases which were available to the Greek philosophers. It would also appear that confusion would be rife if all the worldviews of all the languages were to be included in an overall rationalistic analysis. I propose this on the basis of the linguistic work of Benjamin Whorf. When linguists became able to examine critically and scientifically a large number of languages of widely different patterns, their base of reference was expanded; they experienced an interruption of phenomena hitherto held universal, and a whole new order of significances came into their ken.
Formulation of ideas is not an independent process, strictly rational in the old sense, but is part of a particular grammar, and differs, from slightly to greatly, between different grammars. We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages. The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there because they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organized by our minds - and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds.
We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way - an agreemet that holds throughout our speech community as is codified in the patterns of our language. There is scientific truth, but there are also philosophical truth, artistic truth, and religious truth. The term "truth" itself is an abstract substantive used to describe a situation in which an expression represents accurately, although not necessarily exhaustively, some reality or some aspect of reality.
Truth always involves representation because it involves the use of a medium, and tests for truth exist for each of the kinds of expression. Many reflections about truth are being omitted here, but one will be mentioned: truth is a value. It is somethng people want to know. Likewise the sciences and philosophy want their conclusions to be true. We start, he explains, from "belief," conviction that something is so, and by a process of reference to correlatives and implications which he calls "tracking" we validate this belief so that it becomes "true belief.
The notion of value figures prominently in Ethics. Here we are using the word not as a technical philosophical term, but as it is used in common parlance: a value is a thing or state to esteem, to strive for, to view as a goal. Although Nozick uses the notion of value liberally, he seems to keep within the common understanding of it rather than to build a system around it. The Limits of Human Knowledge. It would seem self-evident that human knowledge cannot predict its own limits, i.
Scientific knowledge, in particular, can predict no limit to itself as long as it can make fresh observations, because these lead to fresh reasoning. Historically there have been stages when scientists have thought they knew all, but then they have found their neatly packaged system torn apart by new discoveries.
Furthermore, this assumes that science is staying in its own territory; there are things science does not know about but which are known to art or religion or philosophy. Art and religion, for their part, cannot know their own limits because they involve imagination, that is, creativity, and by definition creativity does not know its own limits.
Philosophy shares with science one kind of limitlessness: it can build indefinitely on new observations, but philosophy is in a position to judge that in some series of thought new observations will not make a difference, and that, therefore, some philosophical knowledge is definitive and some is definitively inconclusive. The following is an example of what is meant when one asserts that some philosophical knowledge is definitively inconclusive:.
Colin McGinn has a new idea. In his book The Problem of Consciousness he concluded that the difficulty of accounting for the presence of consciousness in a world of physical objects and processes of the kind we already understand is simply too great for human minds ever to overcome. Now in Problems in Philosophy , he extends that verdict to philosophical issues involving other aspects of the mind, such as the self, free will, meaning and knowledge.
They, too, present real problems that simply transcend our natural powers of understanding. That is something most of us will have felt personally from time to time, but McGinn generalizes the inadequacy. It is the human intellect as such that cannot cope. The reviewer does not think that McGinn develops his thesis well. The preceding reflection has another side: how much is there about our world that we are missing? How much is happening that our minds are unable to fathom? This is an epistemological question which has made sense ever since Kant made us wonder what the noumena are.
It would be exceedingly presumptuous of us at the present stage of the development of human knowledge to suppose that the form of perception and reflection we possess tells us all there is to know about things. I think there is a virtual certainty that there is more to the world than appears to our senses and the instruments we use to aid them. To think otherwise, i. The Nature of Metaphysics. It can be added that the terms "general metaphysics" and "ontology" are taken as synonymous by some philosophers.
Copleston, A History of Philosophy , Vol. It is for this reason sometimes said for example, by Whitehead to be concerned with the most general and pervasive features of the world, and at others for example, by Plato to be the most synoptic of the sciences. Harris in Robert P. Wood, Ed. To pursue Whitehead's explanation, " The term 'logical' has its ordinary meaning, including Weakness of insight and deficiencies of language stand in the way inexorably.
Words and phrases must be stretched towards a generalization foreign to their ordinary usages; and however such elements of language be stabilized as technicalities, they remain metaphors mutely appealing for an imaginative leap. Martin in Wood, The Future of Metaphysics , pp. Refers to Whitehead's Process and Reality , pp.
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An important notion of metaphysics which includes, however, elements which are not of common agreement is that of Kant. Kant used the term 'metaphysics' to refer to all a priori speculation on questions that cannot be answered by scientific observation and experiment. As he formulates it: metaphysics 'is the system of pure reason, that is, the science which exhibits in systematic connection the whole body true as well as illusory of philosophical knowledge arising out of pure reason. Kockelmans in Wood, The Future of Metaphysics , p. Kant's definition is objectionable for two reasons.
One is his notion of the metaphysics of morals, which is clever and powerful, but which fails to convince the many, many thinkers who are against or at least suspicious of a universal deontology a topic of Ethics. The other objection to Kant's definition is its rationalism. His postulate of a power of pure reason which operates independently of the observations which come to it can scarcely be taken seriously any more, although the broader application of what Kant saw, that our mind imposes shapes and forms on the reality it perceives has become part of the patrimony of human wisdom.
In spite of criticism of Kant as a metaphysician, all commentators hold that he stands among the ranks of the all time greats of metaphysics. While Kant changed metaphysics, he did not kill it, and some post-kantian metaphysicians are Schopenhauer, Hegel, Bergson, and Whitehead. Although modern Western philosophy generally shuns metaphysics by name, numerous modern philosophers are closer to metaphysics than might appear at first sight.
Phenomenologists and existentialists, by describing the world in a way free of suppositions of duality between mind and body and between subject and object, come up with a structure of reality that fits the common definition of metaphysical description. It is even possible to see something of the metaphysician in as non-metaphysical, no-hocus-pocus and no-hidden-entities American philosopher as John Dewey.
Copleston remarks, "Obviously, Dewey's philosophy is not a metaphysics if by this term we mean a study or doctrine of meta-empirical reality. But though, as has already been noted, he denies, in one place at least, that any general theory of reality is needed or even possible, it is clear enough that he develops a world-view. And world-views are generally classed under the heading of metaphysics.
It would be ingenuous to say that Dewey simply takes the world as he finds it. For the plain fact is that he interprets it. For the matter of that, in spite of all that he has to say against general theories, he does not really prohibit all attempts to determine the generic traits, as he puts it, of existence of all kinds. Questions of ontology. In explaining the term philosophy I mentioned several metaphysical questions. Now we shall examine some of these.
Is there anything that can be said about everything. It is possible to isolate the notion of being and scrutinize it, prescinding from closely related notions like unity and multiplicity, permanence and flux. To do this requires extreme effort to avoid aspects of being such as these, and it practically involves ignoring the whole of Western philosophy since Plato.
A modern effort to do just this has been that of Martin Heidegger and his method of investigating Being as such. Heidegger himself was not at all concerned to forge links between fundamental ontology and less general areas of ontology. His method, however, seems to furnish clues to this. While Heidegger expresses his thought preeminently in Being and Time , he explains his philosophical project in much more intelligible terms in a later slim volume entitled On Time and Being. If, beyond the notion of being itself, with or without a heideggerian analysis, there are statements that can be made about anything and everything, if there are completely universal predicates, they can be called transcendental attributes of being, or, simply, "transcendentals.
This is not the same as the Platonic transcendentals, the Forms of the Good, the True, etc. In the following section we will see how there are two transcendentals, unity and relation. How are unity and multiplicity related? It seems that everything is somehow one and somehow multiple. Wherever we direct our attention there are wholes and parts, there are unities and diversities, and everywhere unity exists in multiplicity. Diverse elements seek to unify themselves, and unities tend to dissolve into their parts. Furthermore, we are aware of no part which is not a unity in itself, and we are aware of no unity which has no parts.
The urge to ponder these observations and to explain them has been one of the sources of philosophy in the West as it has been a source of philosophy and of religion in the East. It is also the central question in Indian philosophy. One might go so far as to hold with Iris Murdoch that ontology which she calls metaphysics is the intellectual activity of accounting for perceived unities when other ways of accounting for them - common sense, science, art, and religion - are judged to be inadequate.
See page 1 of Murdoch, Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals. In a similar vein, Nozick holds that there are two principal and perhaps only topics in ontology which he also calls metaphysics : what is unity? Much of what can be said about unity in multiplicity derives from Aristotle, who was interested in unified things and how they became such.
According to Aristotle, "Among authentic modes of unity we find first mere being-together, whether, to cite an example often repeated later, we are dealing with a mere heap, or with unities which arise from binding, glueing, or nailing things together, as for example a bundle. Next, Aristotle considers those unities which consist in a mere coherence of material, such as the unity of a plank. Then follows the unity resting on form, such as the unity of a marble ball. The unity of a living being represents the last in this series All these are forms of unity for individuals. To them must be added an entirely new mode of unity, that of the general, the unity of logos, as Aristotle rather cautiously expresses it.
This is primarily a matter of the unity which is expressed in a concept, for example the unity of the human race as the unity of the concept 'man'? Another of Aristotle's ways of looking at unity was to consider that things, objects, have an underlying unity as "substances," and that the changeable aspects of substances are "accidents. Modern minds, starting most notably with John Locke, reject the notion of substance as thus presented.
While this does not seem to the writer to be fair to Aristotle, it raises the problem of description versus definition alluded to above. In other words, substance-accident seems to be a mere description rather than an insight into being. More immediately useful is the division of unities into three kinds: A. It is debatable whether or not intentionality can be predicated of all beings, but it certainly can be predicated of all living beings, and it is a prime element of human existence.
In humans it is spread throughout a double continuum of perception and affection, of knowledge and love. This enumeration of the kinds of unity does not separate the processes of unity from their products; it is not of statically conceived beings concerning which the question of becoming is to be asked; it points to unity itself. Intentionality is taken here in the sense introduced by Franz Brentano.
An observation that applies to the three kinds of unity is that the whole is different from the sum of its parts. Everywhere, from the atom-subatomic particle relatioship to the galaxy-star relationship, from the word-letter relationship to the discourse-word relationship, the whole looks different and acts differently from its constituents. This is not to say that a whole cannot be explained by a complete synthesis of its parts; it means that the parts have taken on, so to speak, a new life in connection with one another.
As Nozick puts it, "The theory of value, formulated below, will give sense to the notion that a whole not only is different from the sum of its parts, but is greater than that sum -- greater in intrinsic value.
2. Self-Consciousness in Thought
The modern notion of systems , expanded from science into philosophy, provides a general framework for describing and dealing with all kinds of unities and for the wholes which are not simply sums of parts. Ervin Laszlo, Introduction to Systems Philosophy , pp. Laszlo goes on to explain cognitive systems , which are otherwise called operations of mind or intentional as defined above actions.
The same general formula applies to them as to natural systems. Introduction to Systems Philosophy , pp. Laszlo sees these two types of systems, which are seemingly irreducible the one to the other, as facets of the same reality. He asserts,. We note that the theories applying to natural and to cognitive systems are isomorphic, with the consequence that when switching from the one to the other system, wo do not necessitate changes in theory.
The content or referent of the theory changes; its form remains invariant. We obtain a parallel series of independent variables applying to both varieties of systems. This provides our ontology with a fundamental concept: that of the natural-cognitive i.
Such systems are not 'dual' but 'biperspectival': they are single, self-consistent systems of events, observable from two points of view. When 'lived,' such a system is a system of mind-events, viz. Here identity is predicated on the ground of the invariance of the two theories: if systems of events, however different the latter may be in themselves, are isomorphically structured, so that their respective theories do not change form when passing from the one to the other, then these systems are identical qua systems.
There are no grounds on which we could differentiate between them The psychophysical thesis of this framework for an ontology can be stated as follows. Sets of irreducibly different mental and physical events constitute an identical psychophysical system, disclosed through the invariance of the respective theories. The basic entities of systems philosophy are non-dualistic psychophysical systems, termed 'biperspectival natural-cognitive systems.
In conclusion,"unity" is a transcendental because something does not exist unless it has some kind of internal coherence, a oneness that sets it apart from anything else, and some kind of permanence that stands up to change. All the same, "relation" is also a transcendental if we accept our initial observation that unity and multiplicity are everywhere. It is easy for the modern, scientific mind to accept relation as a transcendental. Philosophers, however, who posit the existence of an absolute God can admit that relation is a transcendental only by considering being as an equivocal term, according to which the being of God is basically dissimilar to the being of the world.
In this case the relation of God to the world is basically dissimilar to all other relations. How are change and permanence related? We have looked at the question of the one and the many as though it dealt with static beings, as though we could, as it were, take a photograph of all beings and investigate their relationships in the photograph. We can do this because our Western minds tend to look at the world this way and in so doing they separate from this view of things the aspect of change.
That we do this is shown by the structure of language. Not all language families separate nouns and verbs as decisively as Indo-European languages do, but at least all the languages which have served as matrices for philosophy speak in some way of action and of actors. Mentally restoring change to the photograph produces a motion picture in which some things or aspects of things which are seen in the photo taken in moment A are still there in moment B.
We have skirted the epistemological question of the validity of our perception of duration in things by pointing to the observer, who is aware of some self-identity in moments A and B. Self-identity or any identity maintained through change is clearly a kind of oneness, a unity in the midst of diversity which allows for successive, varied relationships. The most basic thing that can be said about this question, indeed, according to many, the only thing that can be said about it is that it is highly speculative.
It is so highly metaphysical that even to say that the question cannot be answered is a metaphysical statement. In other words, the question does make sense, and we are drawn to ask it, and the way we answer it or fail to answer it tells something about our worldview, about who we are and about our limitations.
The question of the end or purpose of the world, i. In the major Western religions it is totally linked to the notion of God and it derives its answer from the knowledge religious people judge that they have about God's intentions. Some systems of philosophy are similar to this, but others are not. Philosophy can, for instance, talk about ultimate causes and purposes without bringing into play a divine mind which conceives of them. What are good and evil?
In considering this as a metaphysical question we refer to the transcultural human experience that things go right or wrong on small scales and on large scales, and to the legends and archtypes of societies far separated in time and place. There are states of affairs which are desirable, approvable, felicitous, and there are states of affairs which are the opposite. Indeed, there is here a question of opposites, contraries, and fatal contradictories which runs through history, art, and metaphysics.
We say that a thing is good or bad and we say that an action is good or bad. We say that people and their actions are good or bad, and we also use these terms to refer to non-human events and states. Metaphysics cannot stay clear of the good-evil relationship. If a philosopher tried to construct a world view in which there were no good or evil, the interpreters of this world view would say that it is a good world or a bad world whether its inventor liked them to make this judgment or not.
Fortunately for students of metaphysics there is a limited array of possible meanings of good and evil in metaphysical systems. The fourth of these analyses allows for the possibility of its converse, which is the Manichean view, that evil is a force which moves things to act inappropriately. We shall leave aside the Manichean view because it is a useless hypothesis which is not needed for explaining the tension between good and evil. Certainly, the Manichean view accentuates the consideration of evil, but even among non-Manicheans the topic of good is more often than not paired with that of evil in what is called the problem of evil: how does it happen that evil infects an otherwise good world?
Often this problem is seen in a theistic context why does a good God allow evil? For an example of the frequency of treatment of the problem of good and evil as opposed to the study of good I note the online library catalog of a large, secular American university, in which it is fruitless to search for "good", but 91 lines respond to the search command "good and evil".
The four analyses of good do not contradict one another, and they can be understood as four aspects of one general notion of good, which is that things are good in so far as they are unified, in so far as they are one. Thus a force can move others because it is unified in itself, a being can be sought by others because it has definite lineaments, and beings strive for their own perfection, a state which to them or to observers of them looks satisfying and fulfilling for them.
This is a view of good that has been maturing for many years in my mind. Aside from the Manichean view of evil the array of opinions about it is limited. Starting from the notion that evil is the opposite, contrary, or contradictory of good, the possibilities are that it is a lack of good, that it is a lack of good where the lack is not appropriate, or that it is repulsive. We will exclude the first of these because it is not in accordance with normal usage of the terms to say that evil is directly the absence of good.
In other words, in normal usage of the terms we do not say that evil is the contradictory of good, that wherever good is not found, evil is. Looking now at good as unity, unifiedness, we can see that several things can go wrong with it. The process of unification can be disrupted, the proper unity of an existing thing or act can be disrupted, an act can be directed at a goal that will be disruptive to the actor, or the unity of one entity thing or act precludes that of another.
The first three of the things that can go wrong has to do with the united being considered by itself: it impairs or destroys its perfection. Evil is a disruption of the process or the product of unification. It is also misdirection of action: one could describe it as action directed toward an entity which objectively speaking is repulsive to the actor, an entity that will impair or destroy the actor's unity. Perfection is a useful descriptive term here as long as we take it in the sense of relative perfection, the degree of perfection suitable for the normal existence of the entity, and not in the sense of an unattainable absolute perfection.
The precluding of the good of one entity by that of another, the conflict between actions or things which would in themselves be good but are mutually exclusive, which cannot exist together, is a kind of evil which is hard to understand and deal with. One entity is being harmed by another, one suffers at the expense of another, and this is a dilemma at least to the extent that the greatest good to be achieved will not be the sum of the greatest good of the parties involved. This last dynamic of good and evil, applied to the observable world on a large scale, has been expressed by Whitehead: "The ultimate evil in the temporal world is deeper than any specific evil.
It lies in the fact that the past fades, that time is a 'perpetual perishing.
The present fact has not the past fact with it in any full immediacy. The process of time veils the past below distinctive feeling. There is a unison of becoming among things in the present. Why should there not be novelty without loss of this direct unison of immediacy among things? In the temporal world, it is the empirical fact that process entails loss: the past is present under an abstraction. But there is no reason, of any ultimate metaphysical generality, why this should be the whole story.
The nature of evil is that the characters of things are mutually obstructive. Thus the depths of life require a process of selection. But the selection is elimination as the first step towards another temporal order seeking to minimize obstructive modes. Selection is at once the measure of evil, and the process of its evasion. It means the discarding the element of obstructiveness in fact. No element in fact is ineffectual: thus the struggle with evil is a process of building up a mode of utilization by the provision of intermediate elements introducing a complex structure of harmony.
What are the most general categories of being? Following Aristotle, the analysis of being into such categories as substance, accident, quality, and quantity was a standard part of Western philosophy until and including Kant. This analysis is no longer fashionable, and even if a metaphysically inclined philosopher were to engage in it, it would add little to our understanding of the world. Another division of being is into material and spiritual. Many philosophers have held that there is a spiritual world within or in addition to the material world which we see and touch.
Modern, non-Christian Western philosophers tend to deny that there is such a division. The main philosophical source of Western thinking about the spiritual world is, of course, Plato, but the modern notion of the dichotomy of matter and spirit, of an abyss between the two, is traced to Descartes.
Is there a supreme being? Often this is phrased as the question of the existence of God: do we reason to the existence of God or do we have experience of God or neither or both? This is in theory a philosophical question, and the treatment of it is called natural theology also, theodicy , but the major interest in it is theological, religious.
Thus under Ethics we shall note implications of the position that God exists, but we shall not dwell on them. As a matter of fact, many conceptions of God - as being perfect good, as being an ideal of good, as being the cause of all good, as being that to which all things tend - lead to ethics systems which are scarcely different from non-religious ones.
Perhaps the theistic concept which most varies from the philosophical one is that of God as a lawgiver who can arbitrarily decree that some actions are good and some are bad. Philosophy of People and Society. Turning to metaphysical questions which have to do with people and society, we have first:. Perhaps the most perplexing of all philosophical questions concerns the philosopher and the philosopher's fellow humans. The ancient perception of human littleness has, to say the least, not been displaced by scientific knowledge of the vastness of the universe.
Nevertheless, the ancient perception of the specialness of humans, who are able to search the heavens and look into the past and the future, has been accentuated by the discovery of more and more tools which help them do this. We have been and are paradoxes to ourselves. I propose that two principal schools of thought challenge his assertion: scientific reductionism, which holds that the human whole is no greater than the sum of its parts, and that theism which explains everything about us by holding that God made it that way.
Poets and philosophers, on the contrary, are moved by the strange and seemingly unique human condition. It seems to me that the place of humans in the world is best seen philosophically by considering three salient kinds of unity found in the human person. Or, rather, the human person has a three-fold kind of unified being: organic , intentional , and social.
Organic unity is shared at least with other local life forms and is an exceedingly complex interrelated structure and synergy which is located in time and space. Intentional unity can be either intellective or emotional or both. Social unity refers to any human collectivity, from couples to families to groups to nations to the whole of humankind. What does it mean to be a good human being? Metaphysically, if a certain degree of organic, intentional, and social unity are found in a person, that person satisfies the conditions for goodness.
Certain activities of people, however, lie within the field of ethics, and it is in connection with them that we customarily speak of good people and their good actions. We can mention here, however, that on the one hand the social unity of humans makes us terribly interdependent, but that on the other hand it enormously increases our ability to act: it multiples our synergistic power. Lewis presents his conceptions which grew out of his investigations in the field of exact logic and its application to mathematics.
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