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Lecture

Butler, Locke & Kant

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 1F91
Professor
David Hayes
Semester
Fall

Description
18/04/2012 1 PHIL 191 HUMAN NATURE 2 FROM THE MEDIEVAL WORLD TO MODERNITY A lot happens between Aquinas [1224-74] and Butler [1692-1752] The Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation(s), the Scientific Revolution(s), the great discoveries (including circumnavigating the globe), the Gutenberg printing press and the start of The age of Reason and the Enlightenment Sometime in this period Modernity begins But what is Modernity? Dam good question My answer is 3 MODERNITY AND HUMAN NATURE The Bacon Descartes theory of science and technology: We must learn to understand Nature correctly by using The Proper METHOD If we can only learn the truth about nature and its laws, causes, forces etc. then we can apply this knowledge to benefit humanity. 4 THE VIRTUOUS CIRCLE Agriculture, disease control, transportation and communication More and better food, longer lives, fewer deaths in infancy, quicker movement of persons and information 5 THE ENLIGHTENMENT PROJECT Western philosophy and science inherited conflicting views of SCIENTIFIC METHOD [Bacons so-called induction versus Descartes deduction] this lead to many other views later. It also led to conflicting views of what were then called the MORAL SCIENCES. The amazing success of Newtonian science gave great hope that the same method could be applied to produce A Newton of the Moral Sciences or, as they later became, the Social Sciences. 6 THE PROBLEM(S) OF EGOISM 1 PSYCHOLOGICAL EGOISM 2 Theory of HN that: All humans everywhere are [almost] always motivated by self- interest even when it seems that they act altruistically Altruism = to act in the interests of others at a cost to ones self 3 2 types of ALTRUISM 4 Kin Altruism Reciprocal Altruism 7 P-T-A APPROACH TO HUMAN NATURE [P] Problem: is HN entirely or at least mostly egoistic? [T] Theory 1: Egoism: we are entirely or at least 98% egoistic so who cares about the other 3%? * 1 4 Kin Altruism 18/04/2012 Reciprocal Altruism 7 P-T-A APPROACH TO HUMAN NATURE [P] Problem: is HN entirely or at least mostly egoistic? [T] Theory 1: Egoism: we are entirely or at least 98% egoistic so who cares about the other 3%? * Theory 2: Altruism: many humans act unselfishly more than 3% of the time and do so for non-egoistic reasons. [A] Argument: lots of evidence to support egoism but also a significant amount to support altruism. * A shirt my wife gave me says: I am right 98% of the time who cares about the other 3%? 8 BISHOP BUTLERS PROBLEM To defend the Christian view of human nature against critics especially those of egoistic bent Why does egoism undermine Christian ethics? It seems to conflict with the fundamental principle: Love thy neighbor as thyself If we are naturally selfish we cannot love our neighbor as we love ourselves and therefore cannot have a duty to do so. [Why does this follow or does it???] Sigmund Freud will later use exactly this same argument!!! 9 BISHOP BUTLERS THEORY Well stated on page 85 [4.] based on comparison of the nature of man as respecting self and tending to private good*and the nature of man as having respect to society and tending to promote pubic good,* the happiness of that society RS Then he derives a very contentious conclusion: the two goods are not inconsistent [but] mutually promote each other. [ibid.] OK but how does he argue this? * my emphasis 10 BISHOP BUTLERS ARGUMENT Premise 1: there is a natural principle of benevolence in man 85, [6.] which he uses to make an analogy: benevolence is to society what self-love is the individual So my self-love wants what is good for me and so therefore my benevolence makes me want what is good for society. Well on Friday Nov. 4, a day for random acts of kindness, I performed 3 such acts. But did I do this so everyone would think: What a wonderful great person Prof. Hayes is!!!? 11 BUTLERS ARGUMENT PREMISE 2 [Observation of] Human nature reveals several passions and affections* that are distinct from both benevolence and self-love 86 [7.] and which contribute both to public good and private good. 87 [7] Then he clearly anticipates Adam Smiths most famous idea the Invisible Hand 87 [7 RS] * what we call emotions and desires today although we still distinguish cognitive and affective as in neurological studies [and in Spinoza] 12 BUTLERS ARGUMENT PREMISE 3 3. there is a principle of reflection in men 87 [8.] that distinguishes between approval and disapproval of their own actions not just those of others. This refection he calls conscience = con plus science (= knowledge) and so 2 Then he clearly anticipates Adam Smiths most famous idea the Invisible Hand 87 [7 RS] 18/04/2012 * what we call emotions and desires today although we still distinguish cognitive and affective as in neurological studies [and in Spinoza] 12 BUTLERS ARGUMENT PREMISE 3 3. there is a principle of reflection in men 87 [8.] that distinguishes between approval and disapproval of their own actions not just those of others. This refection he calls conscience = con plus science (= knowledge) and so means knowledge of right and wrong. 13 BISHOP BUTLERS CONCLUSION 89 [10.] this leads to a different view of HN where he presents a reductio ad absurdum of egoism: It assumes we are atomistic individuals i.e. the speculative absurdity of considering ourselves as single and independent, as having nothing in our nature which has respect to our fellow creatures. However he admits that there are still problems!! 14 BUTLERS COUNTER-ARGUMENTS 89 [11.] but dont humans have dispositions to do evil and inflict harm on others as well as do good? Yes but they also have ungoverned passions and desires that lead to injure themselves!! There is no real love of injustice or injury there is only eager desires after such and such external goods 89[12RS] 15 COOL SELF-LOVE & HUMAN NATURE 89-90 [13-14. ] The gist of this argument is: yes there are people totally indifferent to the well-being of others or just fanatics [e.g. Carlos the Jakal] but there are also people equally perverse in pursuing their own self-interest who lead dissolute lives that end sooner then they need to 16 SERMON II: UPON HUMAN NATURE The main point here is to refute counter-arguments He starts with a huge epistemological analogy Later it becomes the idea of a Moral Sense We have our 5 external senses and we have a heart and conscience that is just as reliable as those 5 senses. OK but what about the perverse elements in our human inner person? 17 WHY DOES INTEREST AND PASSION OFTEN PREVAIL? Butler is willing to concede a number of points to the opponent First Interest and Passion often prevail over Reflection and Conscience In addition some people pursue honour, other riches and other pleasure Why should the virtuous blame the ambitious, the covetous or the dissolute? Since they all equally follow theIr nature In addition the word Nature is ambiguous 18 NATURE LEADS IN CONTRARY AND CONTRADICTORY DIRECTIONS Sometimes nature leads us to follow the law and other times it leads us to the contrary 94 [12] very very very NB: Human nature is a mixture of appetites, passions, 3
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