Somerville, Wilson and Descartes

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19 Apr 2012
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PHIL 191 INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
HUMAN NATURE
MOTHER NATURE
HUMAN KNOWLEDGE
The most important course you will ever do
Why human nature is important
Margaret Somerville
A distinguished Canadian Philosopher
Quoted on page 2 of CO
[How] Do we differ from animals and robots?
E. O. Wilson
A distinguished and very controversial Biologist
[2004] “Can there be a more important subject than human nature?”
Some Major Questions
1. Is there such a thing as Human Nature?
2. Are we more similar to machines or to animals? = Do we have free will or are we
like dominoes, chess pieces or dogs?
3. Do we have a “soul” [or spirit or mind], that is, a non-material component or are
we just bodies with a very complex body part called a brain?
4. Are we naturally good [= altruistic] or naturally evil [= selfish, greedy egoists]?
5. How and why are males and females different?
How to THINK about this Course
Be introspective
What have you learned from Family, Friends and Fellow citizens?
What have you learned from mass media about the world?
How to THINK about this Course2
What have you learned from the past [= history and pre- history] about the world?
What have you learned from or are learning from other courses?
Be a Lighthouse not a bucket!!! [or sponge]
THE TWO [2 = 10] TEXTS
There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those that understand binary arithmetic
and those who do not
Readings on Human Nature
is an anthology
Ultimate Questions
is a single author book
It is much easier to read and more visual and has lots of on-line supplementary
material i.e. the 3rd edition does
THE 2 TEXTS
Human nature
Arranged both chronologically and thematically
Chronologically: First half is a long period of time: 400 BCE to cir. 1800 CE =
Common Era
2nd half is post-Malthusian era
Thematically:
Ultimate questions
Chapters 1-2: How philosophy and logic are relevant to human nature issues
somewhat indirectly but……
Chapters 3-6 most directly relevant to human nature issues
Chapters 7-8: God and Morality are very relevant to human nature issues because
THE 2 TEXTS
Human nature
Thematically: the first 2 parts 3 distinct themes: Antiquity, Early Modernity and
Christianity
The next 2 themes are ideological
Then we have a kaleidoscopic mixture of views: Dialectical, Biological, Psycho-
analytical, Behaviourist anti-psyche theories, feminism, philosophical and social
scientific theories.
Ultimate questions
Ultimate questions
Religion and Morality are relevant to human nature issues because: MAN [sorry]
[1] HUMANS are not merely Rational Animals but:
[2] HUMANS are Religious animals; and
[3] HUMANS have Rights or at least they are the only animals that THINK they have
rights!!!! And so they are MORAL animals
WARNING: PARTS OF BOTH TEXTS WILL BE DIFFICULT
Human nature
1. Many of these readings are difficult and technical yet many are fairly easy to read
2. Some have very complicated arguments but a few have none or very few.
3. The vocabulary of many is obscure, even though “We should eschew obfuscation
in ongoing parlance”.
This has no title
WARNING CONTINUED
Ultimate questions
1. There are a number of technical terms and definitions.
2. Above all the problem of abstract concepts that are difficult to grasp because
difficult to picture or imagine.
3. Not all philosophers follow the advice “Always avoid an ostentatious display of
pompous verbosity”.
WHAT IS IN THE FOREST?
Why study Philosophy?
A minute study of minute points without an understanding of the great problems of
[1] COSMOLOGY,
[2] of HUMAN KNOWLEDGE,
[3] of ETHICS and
[4] of POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
and without a serious and devoted attempt to solve them, appears to me fatal”
[‘ute’ in ‘minute’ rhymes with ‘cute’ not with ‘it’ ] Karl Popper
Next sentence: “Criticism curbs the imagination but does NOT put it in chains”
Why study Philosophy? [2]
The great problems of (1) COSMOLOGY [= METAPHYSICS]*
(2) KNOWLEDGE [Epistemology]
(3) ETHICS; and (4) POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY and attempts to solve them is what
PHILOSOPHY is all about or at least what it should be all about or you are wasting
your time studying it.
* “kosmos= Greek word for “world” or “universe”
What is “Philosophy”?
Karl Popper
(1) COSMOLOGY* [= METAPHYSICS]*
(2) KNOWLEDGE [Epistemology]
(3) ETHICS; and
(4) POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
* “kosmos= Greek word for “world” or “U NIVERSE
Nils Rauhut
1. METAPHYSICS
2. EPISTEMOLOGY
3. ETHICS
4. AESTHETICS
5. LOGIC
Key ELEMENTS of PHILOSOPHY
1. ARGUMENTS: need to construct and evaluate argument [p. 4]
2. RESPONSE to persistent QUESTIONING
3. SOCIAL activity that is IMPERSONAL
in its criticisms [p. 5] AS AN IDEAL
4. PLURALITY of different ANSWERS.
THE W5 SET OF QUESTIONS
WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? = FACTS
1. Who is a person? All people or just some?
2. What are we made of? Are we just made of matter or do we have a ‘soul’ or mind
that is not merely matter?
What is consciousness?
3. When did animals become human?
What is personal identity?
WHY? the Main PROBLEM = THEORIES
4. Are we as free as we SEEM to be or are we completely controlled by the laws of
nature?
5. Are humans naturally Good, kind, altruistic or are humans naturally Evil, cruel
and selfish? are humans naturally BOTH?
6. Why is 5 a “Why question?”
\
What are we made of? What are we made from?
What are we made of?
We obviously have a body
Less obviously we have a brain
Do we have a “soul”?
We have something that makes us have EXPERIENCES and THOUGHTS and
FEELINGS
We call this “Consciousness”
What are we
made from
? JUST A BODY [& BRAIN]?
Essence & Definitions
Essences
An “essence” is something that make a thing what it is and different from everyone
other thing
Is there an essence of human nature?
Definitions
A definition is an attempt to put in words what the essence of something is: “a
triangle is a figure enclosing a space by 3 straight lines” “a circle is a curve with
every point equidistant from the center” A square is ……..
2 concrete & abstract examples
Essences
Definitions
Definitions of “Human Beings”
“Man is a rational animal” Aristotle
“Man is a political/social animal” Aristotle
Humans are made in the “image of God”.
These are all attempts to distinguish humans from other animals and everything
else in the Universe
Classical economic theory
Humans = “Rational, Self-Interested, Utility Maximizers”
1. Rational: does NOT mean we are perfectly rational.
2. Self-Interested: does NOT mean we are purely and only selfish and greedy in all
our acts.
3. Utility: does NOT mean we are always after pleasure and happiness.
4. Maximizers: Does mean that we attempt to get the greatest benefit at least cost [=
effort or money or time etc.].
Concrete and Abstract Universals
Concrete Universal
ALL HUMANS
We can picture this even though we probably cannot picture 7,000,000,000
humans!!
Parallel: If I say “My car is red” you can picture that BUT………………….
Abstract Universal
“HUMANITY”
We cannot picture this although we possibly can define it!!
Parallel: If I say “My car is NOT blue” can you picture that??
Non-human biological items
Concrete and Abstract
Concrete Examples
A chess board and pieces
Dominoes
Dogs
Rocks and stones
Ships and shoes and shamans
Abstract thought
Humans can move themselves unlike chess pieces.
Dominoes fall according to natural laws of motion plus …IC & other natural laws
Dogs are like humans: they bark at strangers and welcome friends
Concrete and Abstract [2]
Concrete
1. “Seeing is believing”
2. Predicting the future
3. Turtles and elephants OR
Chickens and eggs.
Abstract
1. Appearance and
Reality
2. The problem of Induction
[= Inference
]
3. The problem of Infinite Regress [∞]
Examples
1. Appearance and
Reality
2. The problem of Induction
[= Inference
]
3. The problem of Infinite Regress [∞]
CONCRETE Examples
1. The sun seems to move not the earth. Stars seem smaller than the moon. We
do not see stars in daytime.
2. Only women who have sex get pregnant but not all do.
3. What caused the Big Bang? God? Ok what caused God? [∞]
The Dialectic of chapter 3 [UQ]
Food for thought
1. “
we are …concerned with propositional knowledge
[42]
2. “it is wrong always, everywhere and for anyone to believe on insufficient
evidence” [44]W.K. Clifford
3. [46-7] 10 examples: notice 3, 6, and 7 and human nature
Rest of Text
1. knowledge is true, justified belief. [46]
2. The case for Skepticism
3. Descartes’ “Quest for certainty”.
3 responses to Skepticism
1. Empiricism: All our ideas and knowledge come from experience alone.
2. Rationalism: Plato, Descartes [Spinoza and Leibniz] The best most reliable
knowledge is based on Pure Reason
3. Logical Positivism: Only propositions based either on sense experience or
mathematical logic are cognitively meaningful [= “knowledge”]
Descartes
Cogito, ergo sum
Cogito, ergo sum
7. We cannot doubt our own existence
I think, therefore I am
Je Pense, donc je suis (our second grand-daughter’s first words!!)
Uses a reductio ad absurdum
Logical contradiction to say “that which thinks does not at the same time as it
thinks, exist” [author’s emphasis: p. 24]
The body/soul [mind/body] distinction
PLATO
Uses both body/soul (psyche) and mind/body distinction
Mind > Body metaphysically, epistemologically and ethically
The body deceives us, misleads us and is mortal
DESCARTES
P. 25 [8]
Soul = that which thinks
Body = is that which is corporeal
But no bodily qualities are attributable to mindbut only thought alone
What is thought*? [cogitatio]
[9] “thought*” is “all that of which we are conscious as operating in us”
* Notice that this is different from what we usually think of as “thought”.
Not just “understanding, willing, imagining, but also feeling, are …the same as
thought*”
Relate this to your own understanding of your own experiences
This is the MIND UQ p. 127
Two [2] modes of thought [32]
Perception of the Understanding
And “action of the will
What is “perception” [lexical def.] “PERCEPTION act or faculty of perceiving;
intuitive recognition (of truth, aesthetic quality, etc.); (Philos.*) action by which the
mind refers it sensations to external object as cause; hence…..
This is the # 1 problem for empiricism which favours both rationalism and skepticism
[not positivism of either kind] see pp. 60-61
* = Philosophy
The principle perfection of [hu]man(s)
Is it “We have free will”? NO! It is that we “have the power of acting freely or by
will [37]
Do we praise or blame computers when they screw up or perform fantastic
computational feats?
Do we praise of blame our cars when they work well or DO NOT!
Is Free Will self-evident? [39]
Is anything self-evident?
Both rationalism and empiricism need some axioms or principles or beliefs or
theorems or whatever the hell you want to call them to get an argument going
Euclidean geometry needed 5 axioms = Self-evident truths
The Metaphysics of Substance [53]
1. Each substance has one principle attribute
2. The principle attribute of mind is thought
3. The principle attribute of body is extension
MIND BODY
. _______________
There are examples of clear and distinct ideas
Sensations, affections, appetites
Sensations: THE fundamental error(s) of empiricism especially in its naïve form: “all
things of which we… have sensations have… an existence outside our thoughts” and
“they [are] entirely similar to the sensation” [66]
Notice that there are 2 distinct inferences here and the 2nd is the most problematic
Affections
Appetites
Can we deceive ourselves?
How can we be wrong about the experience of Pain? [67]
Often seen today as the least deniable of all our sensations. Can you deny pain
when you are experiencing it?
Pain and Descartes’ Greatest Theory
The Bacon-Descartes theory of Science and Technology
1. If we learn to use the proper method of studying nature we will acquire genuine
scientific knowledge of cause and effect
2. We can then use this knowledge to improve human well-being.
3. He especially emphasized health but it also applies to improving the quantity and
quality of food and of REDUCING PAIN AND SUFFERING
Two problem for Descartes
DUALISM
Descartes insisted that his view did not compromise the unity of the person
We are a UNITY of body and mind not a dualism.
The mind is not in the body the way a captain is in a ship.
DOMINATION [of Mother Nature]
Why is this bad?
2 reasons
1. Ecological
2. Animal Rights
Pain, Happiness and Human Nature
Some theories of Human Nature say we are mostly motivated by the desire to be
HAPPY
Other theories of Human Nature say we are mostly motivated by the desire to [1]
avoid pain and suffering; AND to [2] acquire the maximum amount of pleasure
consistent with the least amount of pain
2 More Cartesian contributions
1. Anti-elitist epistemology
2. Primary and secondary qualities
Empiricism two devastating problems
Perception
Empiricists have 3 or more different theories of perception: [p. 60]
1. Naïve Realism
2. Indirect Realism
3. Idealism
All 3 face serious problems
Induction
Induction
As John Locke [yes the same John Locke on Lost] recognized, experience only gives
knowledge of particulars i.e.
This swan is white.
This fire causes smoke.
This lightning is followed by thunder.
These humans were mortal; BUT it does NOT follow that what is true of some is true
about All of them.
Empiricism’s #1 Problem
3 Baseball Umpires arguing about what they do when they call strikes and balls
FIRST: “I call it like I see it.
SECOND: “I call it like it is.
THIRD: “It ………………………………
Rationalism 3 key distinctions
Rational
1.
a priori
propositions
All bachelors are unmarried.” is TRUE by definition
2. Necessary truths
“7 + 5 =12”
3. Analytic truths
All even numbers are divisible by 2.
Empirical
1.
a posteriori
propositions
All bachelors are happy.truth or falsity depends on empirical facts
2. Contingent truths
“It is not snowing today.
3. Synthetic truths
“Brock University has never had a strike”.
Essay topics
1. Which theory of knowledge best solves the problems posed by skepticism?
2. The problem of free will and determinism.
3. Are cynical, pessimistic views of human nature more realistic than optimistic
views of human nature?
4. Which view of the mind/body problem is most reasonable? Why?
Do we make free choices? OR …?
Free will [= free CHOICE]
IF human beings have free will then this would make them significantly different
than everything else in the whole universe
Notice that this is a very big IF
We have no Free will
How what and why are combined
Are we merely the product of our genes, our environment, our brain and other
factors over which we have no control?
Are we just
material objects
controlled by the laws of nature or do we have free will
or at the very least: “Can we make free choices”?
What is consciousness?
CAN WE
DEFINE
“CONSCIOUSNESS”?
What is personal identity? How can anyone be the same person she was 20 years
ago when almost everything about her body, brain and personality has changed?
Is the best answer “the continuity of consciousness”?
CAN WE
EXPLAIN
CONSCIOUSNESS?
Why are there “” on the left hand side but not the right hand side?
GOOD QUESTION
DON’T BE afraid to “Ask why?”*
* The motto of ENRON
Humans & [non-human] animals
Is there such a thing as “human nature”? Are we really different, let alone
“superior”, to animals or computers?
Prof. Sommerville’s view
THE most dangerous idea in the world is “the idea that there is nothing special
about being human and, therefore, humans do not deserve ‘special respect,as
compared with other animals or even robots.
Others argue that this is just typical human arrogance that is unjustified.
SEE p. 39 UQ, Food for Thought, #1
Human Nature
1. Human BE-ings: Why are humans beings they way they are and why do they do
what they do?
2. Human BE-liefs: Why do humans believe what they do and why are their beliefs
so different?*
3. Human BE-havior: Why do humans behave as they do and why are their
behaviours so different?*
* The Life of Brian: We’re all individuals; we’re all different. We’re all individuals;
we’re all different…..ad nauseum”
Is the glass half empty?
+ and - views
Negative, pessimistic and cynical attitudes to humanity
Are humans naturally good or naturally evil or naturally egoistical or “All of the
above”?
Optimistic and positive views
Blank slate theory
The neonate is born without any ideas about the universe, society, right and wrong
or any other ideas that we later teach them to believe or accept as correct
John Locke is one of the major originators of this idea
BS theory illustrated below!
Why is Human Nature a problem?
1. The contradictory evidence and arguments involving Human behaviour;
2.
2. Contradictory explanations of that behaviour;
3. Contradictory theories about human nature
The School of Athens
Plato and Aristotle
Western philosophy is NOT just “footnotes to Plato” it is a dialogue between
followers of Plato and Aristotle
The medieval RC church adopted first Plato [Augustine, 354-430 CE] and Aristotle
[Aquinas, cir. 1224-1274] as philosophical supports for church teachings
Plato and Aristotle in modernity
Rationalism seems to follow Plato [especially in Descartes but not just him]
Empiricism has an uneasy relation with Aristotle since a great deal of modern
science seems to constitute refutation of most of his major ideas
however…………………
The Platonic Virtues
The Platonic Soul
Plato [cir. 428-348 BCE]
The tripartite soul = 3 parts of the
psyche*
Compare this with Brock’s Two sides of the brains
Temperate brave and wise
One of the three parts is rational, the other 2 irrational or non-rational
* usually translated as “soul”
Roughly thinking, desiring and feeling
In Plato, “reflection” [3] “appetite” [3] and [4] “passionate feeling” [thymos]
Reason should rule but does not always even in the wise and the good
ABCs of The Republic
3 surprises in Platonic theory
A. The city/soul parallel =
polis
/
psyche
B. Plato’s proto-feminism?
C. Plato’s Freudianism?
What is left out
The great Gyges’ Ring story
The terrifying Thrasymachustheory of human nature
Mind/Body Dualism [or BS Dualism] Body-
psyche
dualism
The Republic
JUSTICE
In many ways the main gist of the The
Republic
is to reconcile the demands of
JUSTICE with the realities of HUMAN NATURE
But this is only necessary if there is a conflict between the 2!!!
HUMAN NATURE
Book 1 is a fantastically wonderful argument about HUMAN NATURE and JUSTICE
which continues in Book 2 with one of the greatest of all myths: GYGES’ RING
PLATO’S GREAT QUESTIONS
WHAT IS JUSTICE?
Plato answers this question by drawing a parallel between justice in the city and
justice in the individual i.e. The soul [
psyche
]
WHY BE JUST?
This takes a lot longer to answer because it involves the conflict between self-
interest and the interests of others as illustrated by GYGES’ RING
GYGES’ RING
What is [was] GYGES’ RING?
Gyges was a shepherd who found a magic ring
When he rubbed it he noticed that he disappeared from view
It dawned on him that he could literally get away with murder so he killed the king,
seduced the Queen and they both lived happily ever after!!!!
The Prisoners’ dilemma
The Prisoners’ dilemma
The soul’s contradictory nature
Plato may be the first person to formulate the [supreme] law of Non-contradiction
In formal language “P and not-P cannot both be true at the same time”.
“I am a Canadian citizen” and “I am NOT a Canadian citizen” cannot both be true
at the same time
So if our
psyche
has contradictory desires they must come from different parts of
the soul.
See PP re Plato’s Freudianism
THE TRIPARTITE RIVALRY
B. Plato’s proto-feminism?
Plato has been accused of being many BAD things: a Utopian, a proto-fascist, a
proto-communist,
But he was one of the first to regard women as being capable of more than looking
after babies, children, home and husbands!!!
His argument is very neat and concise
Dogs, women and words
How are men and women different?
Apart from the obvious learned in SEX ED 101 there are no great differences at least
not when it comes to being a Guardian or counsellor
They are similar to watch dogs protecting the flock from predators and enemies
But is Soc contradicting himself?
He after all anticipated Adam Smith
division of labour
by several centuries.
The common sense notion that some people are better than others at some jobs.
“everyone should do the one job for which nature fits her” [p. 8 OK it says “him”
but…]
Soc’s contradiction [8]
Different natures should have different occupations
Males and Females have different natures so…
_____________________________________
Conclusion: Men and women should have different occupations!!
However if you substitute “bald” and “harry” guys for M and F you get an absurdity
Women are almost equal
Except for being the “weaker” sex women are equal to males and “there is no
occupation’ concerned with the ……peculiar to women”
Not many males before Condorcet or JS Mill [The wimpy guy on the right] argued
this way
C. Plato’s Freudianism?
Final section [10-11]
Unnecessary pleasures and desires are unlawful and perhaps INNATE
Very interesting and controversial but provocative finish; “in every one of us
….there exist desires, terrible in the untamed lawlessness, which reveal themselves
in dreams ” [11] very Freudian!!!!
Aristotle (384-322 CE)
LIKE PLATO he has a tripartite soul but….
Correlates virtues with the soul not the city
Virtue =
arete
a Greek word similar to
aristos =
“the best”
Virtue, Happiness and Politics
Virtue =
arete
= excellence both intellectual and ethical =
ethos
Happiness =
eudomania
= a good demon!!!
Politics =
polis
= city
Virtue, the
psyche
and Politics
The tri-partite soul =
psyche
Think of plants, animals and humans
Two of these are non-rational but one of them can respond to reason
Plants cannot respond to reason just as our
psyche’s
nutritive part cannot
But animals can just as our
psyche’s
other non-rational part can
The Tripartite
psyche
Plato and Aristotle
Very similar to Plato but not quite the same
Plato: appetite, passion and reason
Aristotle: plant-like, appetitive and rational
2 types of Virtue
THOUGHT
Comes through teaching
“Virtue” is a very broad term for Aristotle Plato and the ancient Greeks unlike for us
It includes intellect and ethics, humans and non-humans
CHARACTER
Comes from habit not from nature or teaching
Compare Brock’s 2 faced policy and ML King’s “judge not by the colour of skin etc.
but the conduct of our character”
How is Virtue acquired?
By NATURE?
NO WAY, JOSE!
BY HABIT?
YES BECAUSE
What is the right sort of HABITUATION …………
Two types of REASON
PRACTICAL
What a father or friends would give
This is advice that would benefit you and have practical aims
THEORETICAL
What a mathematician would give or a lawyer or a…………….
Solely aims at theoretical knowledge of no obvious or at least immediate use like
studying Philosophy for example!!!
The Golden Mean
EXCESS
Eating and drinking too much= gluttony
Gratifying every and all pleasures [Playboy]
Rashness: being too brave or exercising foolish bravado
DEFICIENCY
Eating and drinking too little = anorexia
Gratifying none or very few pleasures [Puritan]
Cowardice: being a totally gutless wimp
BOOK X FUNCTION
FUNCTION
Definition is practically a tautology: function is decided by intended or obvious
usefulness as means to an end
What is the function of a knife? Or a house? Or clothes?
But what is the function of an animal?
HUMANITY’S FUNCTION
Do humans have a function?
However the definition includes proper pleasure
What is our “proper pleasure”?
WINE, WIMMIN and SONG perhaps? If you get bored with that stop singing?
How is our function determined?
INSTRUMENTAL GOODS
Since it is determined “By the virtuous person” let me give my answer: I am going
to the dentist AGAIN this week! WHY?
Well not because it is a lot of fun but because………
Like money, work, keys, etc
INTRINSIC GOODS
While instrumental goods are means to an end intrinsic goods are good in
themselves: pleasure, happiness, perhaps knowledge or at least most of it
OK but what is happiness?
HAPPINESS
This idea of Aristotle’s is as totally contrary to present North America’s excessive,
obsessive hedonistic indulgence as you can imagine
Happiness is not amusement
Ok so then what is HAPPINESS?
What is the supreme HAPPINESS?
THEORETICAL STUDY
Something like Philosophy but more
There are several reasons given [13.31-13.38]
1. Continuous
2. Pleasantest
3.
4.
5. No end beyond itself
6. Leisure form Greek
schole
7. GOD-like
The main argument
HUMAN NATURE
THE supreme element in
human nature!!!
Is Reason the
supreme element in
human nature??
Other virtues
They are human not divine
It may and should occur to you that this is very elitist
It expresses what Adam Smith later called “The Vanity of the Philosophers”
POLITICS
Family Village State
Possibly we should add tribes and clans and whatever
Is he correct in saying [19-20 final sentence] “the state is by nature clearly prior to
the family and to the individual, since the whole is of necessity prior to the part.”?
TWO types of rule
SOUL > BODY
DESPOTIC
This is like unlimited, absolute monarchy or tyranny
INTELLECT > APPETITE
ROYAL:
This is like a constitutional monarchy where the power of the monarch is limited by
laws both human and divine and therefore is the RULE of LAW
Two types of slavery
Nature
This is established by either pure natural law or by divine law independent of the will
of humans
Slavery is natural because some men by nature are naturally slavish or servile
CONVENTION
This exists purely by human convention or invention or social constructions as they
are called today
Read the final line very CAREFULLY!!
“Half [=50% of] the free persons in a state are
women”.
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18/04/2012
2
PHIL 191 INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
HUMAN NATURE
MOTHER NATURE
HUMAN KNOWLEDGE
The most important course you will ever do
Why human nature is important
Margaret Somerville
A distinguished Canadian Philosopher
Quoted on page 2 of CO
[How] Do we differ from animals and robots?
E. O. Wilson
A distinguished and very controversial Biologist
[2004] “Can there be a more important subject than human nature?”
Some Major Questions
1. Is there such a thing as Human Nature?
2. Are we more similar to machines or to animals? = Do we have free will or are we
like dominoes, chess pieces or dogs?
3. Do we have a “soul” [or spirit or mind], that is, a non-material component or are
we just bodies with a very complex body part called a brain?
4. Are we naturally good [= altruistic] or naturally evil [= selfish, greedy egoists]?
5. How and why are males and females different?
How to THINK about this Course
Be introspective
What have you learned from Family, Friends and Fellow citizens?
What have you learned from mass media about the world?
How to THINK about this Course2
What have you learned from the past [= history and pre- history] about the world?
What have you learned from or are learning from other courses?
Be a Lighthouse not a bucket!!! [or sponge]
THE TWO [2 = 10] TEXTS
There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those that understand binary arithmetic
and those who do not
Readings on Human Nature
is an anthology
Ultimate Questions
is a single author book
It is much easier to read and more visual and has lots of on-line supplementary
material i.e. the 3rd edition does
THE 2 TEXTS
Human nature
Arranged both chronologically and thematically
Chronologically: First half is a long period of time: 400 BCE to cir. 1800 CE =
Common Era
2nd half is post-Malthusian era
Thematically:
Ultimate questions
Chapters 1-2: How philosophy and logic are relevant to human nature issues
somewhat indirectly but……
Chapters 3-6 most directly relevant to human nature issues
Chapters 7-8: God and Morality are very relevant to human nature issues because
THE 2 TEXTS
Human nature
Thematically: the first 2 parts 3 distinct themes: Antiquity, Early Modernity and
Christianity
The next 2 themes are ideological
Then we have a kaleidoscopic mixture of views: Dialectical, Biological, Psycho-
analytical, Behaviourist anti-psyche theories, feminism, philosophical and social
scientific theories.
Ultimate questions
Ultimate questions
Religion and Morality are relevant to human nature issues because: MAN [sorry]
[1] HUMANS are not merely Rational Animals but:
[2] HUMANS are Religious animals; and
[3] HUMANS have Rights or at least they are the only animals that THINK they have
rights!!!! And so they are MORAL animals
WARNING: PARTS OF BOTH TEXTS WILL BE DIFFICULT
Human nature
1. Many of these readings are difficult and technical yet many are fairly easy to read
2. Some have very complicated arguments but a few have none or very few.
3. The vocabulary of many is obscure, even though “We should eschew obfuscation
in ongoing parlance”.
This has no title
WARNING CONTINUED
Ultimate questions
1. There are a number of technical terms and definitions.
2. Above all the problem of abstract concepts that are difficult to grasp because
difficult to picture or imagine.
3. Not all philosophers follow the advice “Always avoid an ostentatious display of
pompous verbosity”.
WHAT IS IN THE FOREST?
Why study Philosophy?
A minute study of minute points without an understanding of the great problems of
[1] COSMOLOGY,
[2] of HUMAN KNOWLEDGE,
[3] of ETHICS and
[4] of POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
and without a serious and devoted attempt to solve them, appears to me fatal”
[‘ute’ in ‘minute’ rhymes with ‘cute’ not with ‘it’ ] Karl Popper
Next sentence: “Criticism curbs the imagination but does NOT put it in chains”
Why study Philosophy? [2]
The great problems of (1) COSMOLOGY [= METAPHYSICS]*
(2) KNOWLEDGE [Epistemology]
(3) ETHICS; and (4) POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY and attempts to solve them is what
PHILOSOPHY is all about or at least what it should be all about or you are wasting
your time studying it.
* “kosmos= Greek word for “world” or “universe”
What is “Philosophy”?
Karl Popper
(1) COSMOLOGY* [= METAPHYSICS]*
(2) KNOWLEDGE [Epistemology]
(3) ETHICS; and
(4) POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
* “kosmos= Greek word for “world” or “U NIVERSE
Nils Rauhut
1. METAPHYSICS
2. EPISTEMOLOGY
3. ETHICS
4. AESTHETICS
5. LOGIC
Key ELEMENTS of PHILOSOPHY
1. ARGUMENTS: need to construct and evaluate argument [p. 4]
2. RESPONSE to persistent QUESTIONING
3. SOCIAL activity that is IMPERSONAL
in its criticisms [p. 5] AS AN IDEAL
4. PLURALITY of different ANSWERS.
THE W5 SET OF QUESTIONS
WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? = FACTS
1. Who is a person? All people or just some?
2. What are we made of? Are we just made of matter or do we have a ‘soul’ or mind
that is not merely matter?
What is consciousness?
3. When did animals become human?
What is personal identity?
WHY? the Main PROBLEM = THEORIES
4. Are we as free as we SEEM to be or are we completely controlled by the laws of
nature?
5. Are humans naturally Good, kind, altruistic or are humans naturally Evil, cruel
and selfish? are humans naturally BOTH?
6. Why is 5 a “Why question?”
\
What are we made of? What are we made from?
What are we made of?
We obviously have a body
Less obviously we have a brain
Do we have a “soul”?
We have something that makes us have EXPERIENCES and THOUGHTS and
FEELINGS
We call this “Consciousness”
What are we
made from
? JUST A BODY [& BRAIN]?
Essence & Definitions
Essences
An “essence” is something that make a thing what it is and different from everyone
other thing
Is there an essence of human nature?
Definitions
A definition is an attempt to put in words what the essence of something is: “a
triangle is a figure enclosing a space by 3 straight lines” “a circle is a curve with
every point equidistant from the center” A square is ……..
2 concrete & abstract examples
Essences
Definitions
Definitions of “Human Beings”
“Man is a rational animal” Aristotle
“Man is a political/social animal” Aristotle
Humans are made in the “image of God”.
These are all attempts to distinguish humans from other animals and everything
else in the Universe
Classical economic theory
Humans = “Rational, Self-Interested, Utility Maximizers”
1. Rational: does NOT mean we are perfectly rational.
2. Self-Interested: does NOT mean we are purely and only selfish and greedy in all
our acts.
3. Utility: does NOT mean we are always after pleasure and happiness.
4. Maximizers: Does mean that we attempt to get the greatest benefit at least cost [=
effort or money or time etc.].
Concrete and Abstract Universals
Concrete Universal
ALL HUMANS
We can picture this even though we probably cannot picture 7,000,000,000
humans!!
Parallel: If I say “My car is red” you can picture that BUT………………….
Abstract Universal
“HUMANITY”
We cannot picture this although we possibly can define it!!
Parallel: If I say “My car is NOT blue” can you picture that??
Non-human biological items
Concrete and Abstract
Concrete Examples
A chess board and pieces
Dominoes
Dogs
Rocks and stones
Ships and shoes and shamans
Abstract thought
Humans can move themselves unlike chess pieces.
Dominoes fall according to natural laws of motion plus …IC & other natural laws
Dogs are like humans: they bark at strangers and welcome friends
Concrete and Abstract [2]
Concrete
1. “Seeing is believing”
2. Predicting the future
3. Turtles and elephants OR
Chickens and eggs.
Abstract
1. Appearance and
Reality
2. The problem of Induction
[= Inference
]
3. The problem of Infinite Regress [∞]
Examples
1. Appearance and
Reality
2. The problem of Induction
[= Inference
]
3. The problem of Infinite Regress [∞]
CONCRETE Examples
1. The sun seems to move not the earth. Stars seem smaller than the moon. We
do not see stars in daytime.
2. Only women who have sex get pregnant but not all do.
3. What caused the Big Bang? God? Ok what caused God? [∞]
The Dialectic of chapter 3 [UQ]
Food for thought
1. “
we are …concerned with propositional knowledge
[42]
2. “it is wrong always, everywhere and for anyone to believe on insufficient
evidence” [44]W.K. Clifford
3. [46-7] 10 examples: notice 3, 6, and 7 and human nature
Rest of Text
1. knowledge is true, justified belief. [46]
2. The case for Skepticism
3. Descartes’ “Quest for certainty”.
3 responses to Skepticism
1. Empiricism: All our ideas and knowledge come from experience alone.
2. Rationalism: Plato, Descartes [Spinoza and Leibniz] The best most reliable
knowledge is based on Pure Reason
3. Logical Positivism: Only propositions based either on sense experience or
mathematical logic are cognitively meaningful [= “knowledge”]
Descartes
Cogito, ergo sum
Cogito, ergo sum
7. We cannot doubt our own existence
I think, therefore I am
Je Pense, donc je suis (our second grand-daughter’s first words!!)
Uses a reductio ad absurdum
Logical contradiction to say “that which thinks does not at the same time as it
thinks, exist” [author’s emphasis: p. 24]
The body/soul [mind/body] distinction
PLATO
Uses both body/soul (psyche) and mind/body distinction
Mind > Body metaphysically, epistemologically and ethically
The body deceives us, misleads us and is mortal
DESCARTES
P. 25 [8]
Soul = that which thinks
Body = is that which is corporeal
But no bodily qualities are attributable to mindbut only thought alone
What is thought*? [cogitatio]
[9] “thought*” is “all that of which we are conscious as operating in us”
* Notice that this is different from what we usually think of as “thought”.
Not just “understanding, willing, imagining, but also feeling, are …the same as
thought*”
Relate this to your own understanding of your own experiences
This is the MIND UQ p. 127
Two [2] modes of thought [32]
Perception of the Understanding
And “action of the will
What is “perception” [lexical def.] “PERCEPTION act or faculty of perceiving;
intuitive recognition (of truth, aesthetic quality, etc.); (Philos.*) action by which the
mind refers it sensations to external object as cause; hence…..
This is the # 1 problem for empiricism which favours both rationalism and skepticism
[not positivism of either kind] see pp. 60-61
* = Philosophy
The principle perfection of [hu]man(s)
Is it “We have free will”? NO! It is that we “have the power of acting freely or by
will [37]
Do we praise or blame computers when they screw up or perform fantastic
computational feats?
Do we praise of blame our cars when they work well or DO NOT!
Is Free Will self-evident? [39]
Is anything self-evident?
Both rationalism and empiricism need some axioms or principles or beliefs or
theorems or whatever the hell you want to call them to get an argument going
Euclidean geometry needed 5 axioms = Self-evident truths
The Metaphysics of Substance [53]
1. Each substance has one principle attribute
2. The principle attribute of mind is thought
3. The principle attribute of body is extension
MIND BODY
. _______________
There are examples of clear and distinct ideas
Sensations, affections, appetites
Sensations: THE fundamental error(s) of empiricism especially in its naïve form: “all
things of which we… have sensations have… an existence outside our thoughts” and
“they [are] entirely similar to the sensation” [66]
Notice that there are 2 distinct inferences here and the 2nd is the most problematic
Affections
Appetites
Can we deceive ourselves?
How can we be wrong about the experience of Pain? [67]
Often seen today as the least deniable of all our sensations. Can you deny pain
when you are experiencing it?
Pain and Descartes’ Greatest Theory
The Bacon-Descartes theory of Science and Technology
1. If we learn to use the proper method of studying nature we will acquire genuine
scientific knowledge of cause and effect
2. We can then use this knowledge to improve human well-being.
3. He especially emphasized health but it also applies to improving the quantity and
quality of food and of REDUCING PAIN AND SUFFERING
Two problem for Descartes
DUALISM
Descartes insisted that his view did not compromise the unity of the person
We are a UNITY of body and mind not a dualism.
The mind is not in the body the way a captain is in a ship.
DOMINATION [of Mother Nature]
Why is this bad?
2 reasons
1. Ecological
2. Animal Rights
Pain, Happiness and Human Nature
Some theories of Human Nature say we are mostly motivated by the desire to be
HAPPY
Other theories of Human Nature say we are mostly motivated by the desire to [1]
avoid pain and suffering; AND to [2] acquire the maximum amount of pleasure
consistent with the least amount of pain
2 More Cartesian contributions
1. Anti-elitist epistemology
2. Primary and secondary qualities
Empiricism two devastating problems
Perception
Empiricists have 3 or more different theories of perception: [p. 60]
1. Naïve Realism
2. Indirect Realism
3. Idealism
All 3 face serious problems
Induction
Induction
As John Locke [yes the same John Locke on Lost] recognized, experience only gives
knowledge of particulars i.e.
This swan is white.
This fire causes smoke.
This lightning is followed by thunder.
These humans were mortal; BUT it does NOT follow that what is true of some is true
about All of them.
Empiricism’s #1 Problem
3 Baseball Umpires arguing about what they do when they call strikes and balls
FIRST: “I call it like I see it.
SECOND: “I call it like it is.
THIRD: “It ………………………………
Rationalism 3 key distinctions
Rational
1.
a priori
propositions
All bachelors are unmarried.” is TRUE by definition
2. Necessary truths
“7 + 5 =12”
3. Analytic truths
All even numbers are divisible by 2.
Empirical
1.
a posteriori
propositions
All bachelors are happy.truth or falsity depends on empirical facts
2. Contingent truths
“It is not snowing today.
3. Synthetic truths
“Brock University has never had a strike”.
Essay topics
1. Which theory of knowledge best solves the problems posed by skepticism?
2. The problem of free will and determinism.
3. Are cynical, pessimistic views of human nature more realistic than optimistic
views of human nature?
4. Which view of the mind/body problem is most reasonable? Why?
Do we make free choices? OR …?
Free will [= free CHOICE]
IF human beings have free will then this would make them significantly different
than everything else in the whole universe
Notice that this is a very big IF
We have no Free will
How what and why are combined
Are we merely the product of our genes, our environment, our brain and other
factors over which we have no control?
Are we just
material objects
controlled by the laws of nature or do we have free will
or at the very least: “Can we make free choices”?
What is consciousness?
CAN WE
DEFINE
“CONSCIOUSNESS”?
What is personal identity? How can anyone be the same person she was 20 years
ago when almost everything about her body, brain and personality has changed?
Is the best answer “the continuity of consciousness”?
CAN WE
EXPLAIN
CONSCIOUSNESS?
Why are there “” on the left hand side but not the right hand side?
GOOD QUESTION
DON’T BE afraid to “Ask why?”*
* The motto of ENRON
Humans & [non-human] animals
Is there such a thing as “human nature”? Are we really different, let alone
“superior”, to animals or computers?
Prof. Sommerville’s view
THE most dangerous idea in the world is “the idea that there is nothing special
about being human and, therefore, humans do not deserve ‘special respect,as
compared with other animals or even robots.
Others argue that this is just typical human arrogance that is unjustified.
SEE p. 39 UQ, Food for Thought, #1
Human Nature
1. Human BE-ings: Why are humans beings they way they are and why do they do
what they do?
2. Human BE-liefs: Why do humans believe what they do and why are their beliefs
so different?*
3. Human BE-havior: Why do humans behave as they do and why are their
behaviours so different?*
* The Life of Brian: We’re all individuals; we’re all different. We’re all individuals;
we’re all different…..ad nauseum”
Is the glass half empty?
+ and - views
Negative, pessimistic and cynical attitudes to humanity
Are humans naturally good or naturally evil or naturally egoistical or “All of the
above”?
Optimistic and positive views
Blank slate theory
The neonate is born without any ideas about the universe, society, right and wrong
or any other ideas that we later teach them to believe or accept as correct
John Locke is one of the major originators of this idea
BS theory illustrated below!
Why is Human Nature a problem?
1. The contradictory evidence and arguments involving Human behaviour;
2.
2. Contradictory explanations of that behaviour;
3. Contradictory theories about human nature
The School of Athens
Plato and Aristotle
Western philosophy is NOT just “footnotes to Plato” it is a dialogue between
followers of Plato and Aristotle
The medieval RC church adopted first Plato [Augustine, 354-430 CE] and Aristotle
[Aquinas, cir. 1224-1274] as philosophical supports for church teachings
Plato and Aristotle in modernity
Rationalism seems to follow Plato [especially in Descartes but not just him]
Empiricism has an uneasy relation with Aristotle since a great deal of modern
science seems to constitute refutation of most of his major ideas
however…………………
The Platonic Virtues
The Platonic Soul
Plato [cir. 428-348 BCE]
The tripartite soul = 3 parts of the
psyche*
Compare this with Brock’s Two sides of the brains
Temperate brave and wise
One of the three parts is rational, the other 2 irrational or non-rational
* usually translated as “soul”
Roughly thinking, desiring and feeling
In Plato, “reflection” [3] “appetite” [3] and [4] “passionate feeling” [thymos]
Reason should rule but does not always even in the wise and the good
ABCs of The Republic
3 surprises in Platonic theory
A. The city/soul parallel =
polis
/
psyche
B. Plato’s proto-feminism?
C. Plato’s Freudianism?
What is left out
The great Gyges’ Ring story
The terrifying Thrasymachustheory of human nature
Mind/Body Dualism [or BS Dualism] Body-
psyche
dualism
The Republic
JUSTICE
In many ways the main gist of the The
Republic
is to reconcile the demands of
JUSTICE with the realities of HUMAN NATURE
But this is only necessary if there is a conflict between the 2!!!
HUMAN NATURE
Book 1 is a fantastically wonderful argument about HUMAN NATURE and JUSTICE
which continues in Book 2 with one of the greatest of all myths: GYGES’ RING
PLATO’S GREAT QUESTIONS
WHAT IS JUSTICE?
Plato answers this question by drawing a parallel between justice in the city and
justice in the individual i.e. The soul [
psyche
]
WHY BE JUST?
This takes a lot longer to answer because it involves the conflict between self-
interest and the interests of others as illustrated by GYGES’ RING
GYGES’ RING
What is [was] GYGES’ RING?
Gyges was a shepherd who found a magic ring
When he rubbed it he noticed that he disappeared from view
It dawned on him that he could literally get away with murder so he killed the king,
seduced the Queen and they both lived happily ever after!!!!
The Prisoners’ dilemma
The Prisoners’ dilemma
The soul’s contradictory nature
Plato may be the first person to formulate the [supreme] law of Non-contradiction
In formal language “P and not-P cannot both be true at the same time”.
“I am a Canadian citizen” and “I am NOT a Canadian citizen” cannot both be true
at the same time
So if our
psyche
has contradictory desires they must come from different parts of
the soul.
See PP re Plato’s Freudianism
THE TRIPARTITE RIVALRY
B. Plato’s proto-feminism?
Plato has been accused of being many BAD things: a Utopian, a proto-fascist, a
proto-communist,
But he was one of the first to regard women as being capable of more than looking
after babies, children, home and husbands!!!
His argument is very neat and concise
Dogs, women and words
How are men and women different?
Apart from the obvious learned in SEX ED 101 there are no great differences at least
not when it comes to being a Guardian or counsellor
They are similar to watch dogs protecting the flock from predators and enemies
But is Soc contradicting himself?
He after all anticipated Adam Smith
division of labour
by several centuries.
The common sense notion that some people are better than others at some jobs.
“everyone should do the one job for which nature fits her” [p. 8 OK it says “him”
but…]
Soc’s contradiction [8]
Different natures should have different occupations
Males and Females have different natures so…
_____________________________________
Conclusion: Men and women should have different occupations!!
However if you substitute “bald” and “harry” guys for M and F you get an absurdity
Women are almost equal
Except for being the “weaker” sex women are equal to males and “there is no
occupation’ concerned with the ……peculiar to women”
Not many males before Condorcet or JS Mill [The wimpy guy on the right] argued
this way
C. Plato’s Freudianism?
Final section [10-11]
Unnecessary pleasures and desires are unlawful and perhaps INNATE
Very interesting and controversial but provocative finish; “in every one of us
….there exist desires, terrible in the untamed lawlessness, which reveal themselves
in dreams ” [11] very Freudian!!!!
Aristotle (384-322 CE)
LIKE PLATO he has a tripartite soul but….
Correlates virtues with the soul not the city
Virtue =
arete
a Greek word similar to
aristos =
“the best”
Virtue, Happiness and Politics
Virtue =
arete
= excellence both intellectual and ethical =
ethos
Happiness =
eudomania
= a good demon!!!
Politics =
polis
= city
Virtue, the
psyche
and Politics
The tri-partite soul =
psyche
Think of plants, animals and humans
Two of these are non-rational but one of them can respond to reason
Plants cannot respond to reason just as our
psyche’s
nutritive part cannot
But animals can just as our
psyche’s
other non-rational part can
The Tripartite
psyche
Plato and Aristotle
Very similar to Plato but not quite the same
Plato: appetite, passion and reason
Aristotle: plant-like, appetitive and rational
2 types of Virtue
THOUGHT
Comes through teaching
“Virtue” is a very broad term for Aristotle Plato and the ancient Greeks unlike for us
It includes intellect and ethics, humans and non-humans
CHARACTER
Comes from habit not from nature or teaching
Compare Brock’s 2 faced policy and ML King’s “judge not by the colour of skin etc.
but the conduct of our character”
How is Virtue acquired?
By NATURE?
NO WAY, JOSE!
BY HABIT?
YES BECAUSE
What is the right sort of HABITUATION ………
Two types of REASON
PRACTICAL
What a father or friends would give
This is advice that would benefit you and have practical aims
THEORETICAL
What a mathematician would give or a lawyer or a…………….
Solely aims at theoretical knowledge of no obvious or at least immediate use like
studying Philosophy for example!!!
The Golden Mean
EXCESS
Eating and drinking too much= gluttony
Gratifying every and all pleasures [Playboy]
Rashness: being too brave or exercising foolish bravado
DEFICIENCY
Eating and drinking too little = anorexia
Gratifying none or very few pleasures [Puritan]
Cowardice: being a totally gutless wimp
BOOK X FUNCTION
FUNCTION
Definition is practically a tautology: function is decided by intended or obvious
usefulness as means to an end
What is the function of a knife? Or a house? Or clothes?
But what is the function of an animal?
HUMANITY’S FUNCTION
Do humans have a function?
However the definition includes proper pleasure
What is our “proper pleasure”?
WINE, WIMMIN and SONG perhaps? If you get bored with that stop singing?
How is our function determined?
INSTRUMENTAL GOODS
Since it is determined “By the virtuous person” let me give my answer: I am going
to the dentist AGAIN this week! WHY?
Well not because it is a lot of fun but because………
Like money, work, keys, etc
INTRINSIC GOODS
While instrumental goods are means to an end intrinsic goods are good in
themselves: pleasure, happiness, perhaps knowledge or at least most of it
OK but what is happiness?
HAPPINESS
This idea of Aristotle’s is as totally contrary to present North America’s excessive,
obsessive hedonistic indulgence as you can imagine
Happiness is not amusement
Ok so then what is HAPPINESS?
What is the supreme HAPPINESS?
THEORETICAL STUDY
Something like Philosophy but more
There are several reasons given [13.31-13.38]
1. Continuous
2. Pleasantest
3.
4.
5. No end beyond itself
6. Leisure form Greek
schole
7. GOD-like
The main argument
HUMAN NATURE
THE supreme element in
human nature!!!
Is Reason the
supreme element in
human nature??
Other virtues
They are human not divine
It may and should occur to you that this is very elitist
It expresses what Adam Smith later called “The Vanity of the Philosophers”
POLITICS
Family Village State
Possibly we should add tribes and clans and whatever
Is he correct in saying [19-20 final sentence] “the state is by nature clearly prior to
the family and to the individual, since the whole is of necessity prior to the part.”?
TWO types of rule
SOUL > BODY
DESPOTIC
This is like unlimited, absolute monarchy or tyranny
INTELLECT > APPETITE
ROYAL:
This is like a constitutional monarchy where the power of the monarch is limited by
laws both human and divine and therefore is the RULE of LAW
Two types of slavery
Nature
This is established by either pure natural law or by divine law independent of the will
of humans
Slavery is natural because some men by nature are naturally slavish or servile
CONVENTION
This exists purely by human convention or invention or social constructions as they
are called today
Read the final line very CAREFULLY!!
“Half [=50% of] the free persons in a state are
women”.
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18/04/2012
3
PHIL 191 INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
HUMAN NATURE
MOTHER NATURE
HUMAN KNOWLEDGE
The most important course you will ever do
Why human nature is important
Margaret Somerville
A distinguished Canadian Philosopher
Quoted on page 2 of CO
[How] Do we differ from animals and robots?
E. O. Wilson
A distinguished and very controversial Biologist
[2004] “Can there be a more important subject than human nature?”
Some Major Questions
1. Is there such a thing as Human Nature?
2. Are we more similar to machines or to animals? = Do we have free will or are we
like dominoes, chess pieces or dogs?
3. Do we have a “soul” [or spirit or mind], that is, a non-material component or are
we just bodies with a very complex body part called a brain?
4. Are we naturally good [= altruistic] or naturally evil [= selfish, greedy egoists]?
5. How and why are males and females different?
How to THINK about this Course
Be introspective
What have you learned from Family, Friends and Fellow citizens?
What have you learned from mass media about the world?
How to THINK about this Course2
What have you learned from the past [= history and pre- history] about the world?
What have you learned from or are learning from other courses?
Be a Lighthouse not a bucket!!! [or sponge]
THE TWO [2 = 10] TEXTS
There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those that understand binary arithmetic
and those who do not
Readings on Human Nature
is an anthology
Ultimate Questions
is a single author book
It is much easier to read and more visual and has lots of on-line supplementary
material i.e. the 3rd edition does
THE 2 TEXTS
Human nature
Arranged both chronologically and thematically
Chronologically: First half is a long period of time: 400 BCE to cir. 1800 CE =
Common Era
2nd half is post-Malthusian era
Thematically:
Ultimate questions
Chapters 1-2: How philosophy and logic are relevant to human nature issues
somewhat indirectly but……
Chapters 3-6 most directly relevant to human nature issues
Chapters 7-8: God and Morality are very relevant to human nature issues because
THE 2 TEXTS
Human nature
Thematically: the first 2 parts 3 distinct themes: Antiquity, Early Modernity and
Christianity
The next 2 themes are ideological
Then we have a kaleidoscopic mixture of views: Dialectical, Biological, Psycho-
analytical, Behaviourist anti-psyche theories, feminism, philosophical and social
scientific theories.
Ultimate questions
Ultimate questions
Religion and Morality are relevant to human nature issues because: MAN [sorry]
[1] HUMANS are not merely Rational Animals but:
[2] HUMANS are Religious animals; and
[3] HUMANS have Rights or at least they are the only animals that THINK they have
rights!!!! And so they are MORAL animals
WARNING: PARTS OF BOTH TEXTS WILL BE DIFFICULT
Human nature
1. Many of these readings are difficult and technical yet many are fairly easy to read
2. Some have very complicated arguments but a few have none or very few.
3. The vocabulary of many is obscure, even though “We should eschew obfuscation
in ongoing parlance”.
This has no title
WARNING CONTINUED
Ultimate questions
1. There are a number of technical terms and definitions.
2. Above all the problem of abstract concepts that are difficult to grasp because
difficult to picture or imagine.
3. Not all philosophers follow the advice “Always avoid an ostentatious display of
pompous verbosity”.
WHAT IS IN THE FOREST?
Why study Philosophy?
A minute study of minute points without an understanding of the great problems of
[1] COSMOLOGY,
[2] of HUMAN KNOWLEDGE,
[3] of ETHICS and
[4] of POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
and without a serious and devoted attempt to solve them, appears to me fatal”
[‘ute’ in ‘minute’ rhymes with ‘cute’ not with ‘it’ ] Karl Popper
Next sentence: “Criticism curbs the imagination but does NOT put it in chains”
Why study Philosophy? [2]
The great problems of (1) COSMOLOGY [= METAPHYSICS]*
(2) KNOWLEDGE [Epistemology]
(3) ETHICS; and (4) POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY and attempts to solve them is what
PHILOSOPHY is all about or at least what it should be all about or you are wasting
your time studying it.
* “kosmos= Greek word for “world” or “universe”
What is “Philosophy”?
Karl Popper
(1) COSMOLOGY* [= METAPHYSICS]*
(2) KNOWLEDGE [Epistemology]
(3) ETHICS; and
(4) POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
* “kosmos= Greek word for “world” or “U NIVERSE
Nils Rauhut
1. METAPHYSICS
2. EPISTEMOLOGY
3. ETHICS
4. AESTHETICS
5. LOGIC
Key ELEMENTS of PHILOSOPHY
1. ARGUMENTS: need to construct and evaluate argument [p. 4]
2. RESPONSE to persistent QUESTIONING
3. SOCIAL activity that is IMPERSONAL
in its criticisms [p. 5] AS AN IDEAL
4. PLURALITY of different ANSWERS.
THE W5 SET OF QUESTIONS
WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? = FACTS
1. Who is a person? All people or just some?
2. What are we made of? Are we just made of matter or do we have a ‘soul’ or mind
that is not merely matter?
What is consciousness?
3. When did animals become human?
What is personal identity?
WHY? the Main PROBLEM = THEORIES
4. Are we as free as we SEEM to be or are we completely controlled by the laws of
nature?
5. Are humans naturally Good, kind, altruistic or are humans naturally Evil, cruel
and selfish? are humans naturally BOTH?
6. Why is 5 a “Why question?”
\
What are we made of? What are we made from?
What are we made of?
We obviously have a body
Less obviously we have a brain
Do we have a “soul”?
We have something that makes us have EXPERIENCES and THOUGHTS and
FEELINGS
We call this “Consciousness”
What are we
made from
? JUST A BODY [& BRAIN]?
Essence & Definitions
Essences
An “essence” is something that make a thing what it is and different from everyone
other thing
Is there an essence of human nature?
Definitions
A definition is an attempt to put in words what the essence of something is: “a
triangle is a figure enclosing a space by 3 straight lines” “a circle is a curve with
every point equidistant from the center” A square is ……..
2 concrete & abstract examples
Essences
Definitions
Definitions of “Human Beings”
“Man is a rational animal” Aristotle
“Man is a political/social animal” Aristotle
Humans are made in the “image of God”.
These are all attempts to distinguish humans from other animals and everything
else in the Universe
Classical economic theory
Humans = “Rational, Self-Interested, Utility Maximizers”
1. Rational: does NOT mean we are perfectly rational.
2. Self-Interested: does NOT mean we are purely and only selfish and greedy in all
our acts.
3. Utility: does NOT mean we are always after pleasure and happiness.
4. Maximizers: Does mean that we attempt to get the greatest benefit at least cost [=
effort or money or time etc.].
Concrete and Abstract Universals
Concrete Universal
ALL HUMANS
We can picture this even though we probably cannot picture 7,000,000,000
humans!!
Parallel: If I say “My car is red” you can picture that BUT………………….
Abstract Universal
“HUMANITY”
We cannot picture this although we possibly can define it!!
Parallel: If I say “My car is NOT blue” can you picture that??
Non-human biological items
Concrete and Abstract
Concrete Examples
A chess board and pieces
Dominoes
Dogs
Rocks and stones
Ships and shoes and shamans
Abstract thought
Humans can move themselves unlike chess pieces.
Dominoes fall according to natural laws of motion plus …IC & other natural laws
Dogs are like humans: they bark at strangers and welcome friends
Concrete and Abstract [2]
Concrete
1. “Seeing is believing”
2. Predicting the future
3. Turtles and elephants OR
Chickens and eggs.
Abstract
1. Appearance and
Reality
2. The problem of Induction
[= Inference
]
3. The problem of Infinite Regress [∞]
Examples
1. Appearance and
Reality
2. The problem of Induction
[= Inference
]
3. The problem of Infinite Regress [∞]
CONCRETE Examples
1. The sun seems to move not the earth. Stars seem smaller than the moon. We
do not see stars in daytime.
2. Only women who have sex get pregnant but not all do.
3. What caused the Big Bang? God? Ok what caused God? [∞]
The Dialectic of chapter 3 [UQ]
Food for thought
1. “
we are …concerned with propositional knowledge
[42]
2. “it is wrong always, everywhere and for anyone to believe on insufficient
evidence” [44]W.K. Clifford
3. [46-7] 10 examples: notice 3, 6, and 7 and human nature
Rest of Text
1. knowledge is true, justified belief. [46]
2. The case for Skepticism
3. Descartes’ “Quest for certainty”.
3 responses to Skepticism
1. Empiricism: All our ideas and knowledge come from experience alone.
2. Rationalism: Plato, Descartes [Spinoza and Leibniz] The best most reliable
knowledge is based on Pure Reason
3. Logical Positivism: Only propositions based either on sense experience or
mathematical logic are cognitively meaningful [= “knowledge”]
Descartes
Cogito, ergo sum
Cogito, ergo sum
7. We cannot doubt our own existence
I think, therefore I am
Je Pense, donc je suis (our second grand-daughter’s first words!!)
Uses a reductio ad absurdum
Logical contradiction to say “that which thinks does not at the same time as it
thinks, exist” [author’s emphasis: p. 24]
The body/soul [mind/body] distinction
PLATO
Uses both body/soul (psyche) and mind/body distinction
Mind > Body metaphysically, epistemologically and ethically
The body deceives us, misleads us and is mortal
DESCARTES
P. 25 [8]
Soul = that which thinks
Body = is that which is corporeal
But no bodily qualities are attributable to mindbut only thought alone
What is thought*? [cogitatio]
[9] “thought*” is “all that of which we are conscious as operating in us”
* Notice that this is different from what we usually think of as “thought”.
Not just “understanding, willing, imagining, but also feeling, are …the same as
thought*”
Relate this to your own understanding of your own experiences
This is the MIND UQ p. 127
Two [2] modes of thought [32]
Perception of the Understanding
And “action of the will
What is “perception” [lexical def.] “PERCEPTION act or faculty of perceiving;
intuitive recognition (of truth, aesthetic quality, etc.); (Philos.*) action by which the
mind refers it sensations to external object as cause; hence…..
This is the # 1 problem for empiricism which favours both rationalism and skepticism
[not positivism of either kind] see pp. 60-61
* = Philosophy
The principle perfection of [hu]man(s)
Is it “We have free will”? NO! It is that we “have the power of acting freely or by
will[37]
Do we praise or blame computers when they screw up or perform fantastic
computational feats?
Do we praise of blame our cars when they work well or DO NOT!
Is Free Will self-evident? [39]
Is anything self-evident?
Both rationalism and empiricism need some axioms or principles or beliefs or
theorems or whatever the hell you want to call them to get an argument going
Euclidean geometry needed 5 axioms = Self-evident truths
The Metaphysics of Substance [53]
1. Each substance has one principle attribute
2. The principle attribute of mind is thought
3. The principle attribute of body is extension
MIND BODY
. _______________
There are examples of clear and distinct ideas
Sensations, affections, appetites
Sensations: THE fundamental error(s) of empiricism especially in its naïve form: “all
things of which we… have sensations have… an existence outside our thoughts” and
“they [are] entirely similar to the sensation” [66]
Notice that there are 2 distinct inferences here and the 2nd is the most problematic
Affections
Appetites
Can we deceive ourselves?
How can we be wrong about the experience of Pain? [67]
Often seen today as the least deniable of all our sensations. Can you deny pain
when you are experiencing it?
Pain and Descartes’ Greatest Theory
The Bacon-Descartes theory of Science and Technology
1. If we learn to use the proper method of studying nature we will acquire genuine
scientific knowledge of cause and effect
2. We can then use this knowledge to improve human well-being.
3. He especially emphasized health but it also applies to improving the quantity and
quality of food and of REDUCING PAIN AND SUFFERING
Two problem for Descartes
DUALISM
Descartes insisted that his view did not compromise the unity of the person
We are a UNITY of body and mind not a dualism.
The mind is not in the body the way a captain is in a ship.
DOMINATION [of Mother Nature]
Why is this bad?
2 reasons
1. Ecological
2. Animal Rights
Pain, Happiness and Human Nature
Some theories of Human Nature say we are mostly motivated by the desire to be
HAPPY
Other theories of Human Nature say we are mostly motivated by the desire to [1]
avoid pain and suffering; AND to [2] acquire the maximum amount of pleasure
consistent with the least amount of pain
2 More Cartesian contributions
1. Anti-elitist epistemology
2. Primary and secondary qualities
Empiricism two devastating problems
Perception
Empiricists have 3 or more different theories of perception: [p. 60]
1. Naïve Realism
2. Indirect Realism
3. Idealism
All 3 face serious problems
Induction
Induction
As John Locke [yes the same John Locke on Lost] recognized, experience only gives
knowledge of particulars i.e.
This swan is white.
This fire causes smoke.
This lightning is followed by thunder.
These humans were mortal; BUT it does NOT follow that what is true of some is true
about All of them.
Empiricism’s #1 Problem
3 Baseball Umpires arguing about what they do when they call strikes and balls
FIRST: “I call it like I see it.
SECOND: “I call it like it is.
THIRD: “It ………………………………
Rationalism 3 key distinctions
Rational
1.
a priori
propositions
All bachelors are unmarried.” is TRUE by definition
2. Necessary truths
“7 + 5 =12”
3. Analytic truths
All even numbers are divisible by 2.
Empirical
1.
a posteriori
propositions
All bachelors are happy.truth or falsity depends on empirical facts
2. Contingent truths
“It is not snowing today.
3. Synthetic truths
“Brock University has never had a strike”.
Essay topics
1. Which theory of knowledge best solves the problems posed by skepticism?
2. The problem of free will and determinism.
3. Are cynical, pessimistic views of human nature more realistic than optimistic
views of human nature?
4. Which view of the mind/body problem is most reasonable? Why?
Do we make free choices? OR …?
Free will [= free CHOICE]
IF human beings have free will then this would make them significantly different
than everything else in the whole universe
Notice that this is a very big IF
We have no Free will
How what and why are combined
Are we merely the product of our genes, our environment, our brain and other
factors over which we have no control?
Are we just
material objects
controlled by the laws of nature or do we have free will
or at the very least: “Can we make free choices”?
What is consciousness?
CAN WE
DEFINE
“CONSCIOUSNESS”?
What is personal identity? How can anyone be the same person she was 20 years
ago when almost everything about her body, brain and personality has changed?
Is the best answer “the continuity of consciousness”?
CAN WE
EXPLAIN
CONSCIOUSNESS?
Why are there “” on the left hand side but not the right hand side?
GOOD QUESTION
DON’T BE afraid to “Ask why?”*
* The motto of ENRON
Humans & [non-human] animals
Is there such a thing as “human nature”? Are we really different, let alone
“superior”, to animals or computers?
Prof. Sommerville’s view
THE most dangerous idea in the world is “the idea that there is nothing special
about being human and, therefore, humans do not deserve ‘special respect,as
compared with other animals or even robots.
Others argue that this is just typical human arrogance that is unjustified.
SEE p. 39 UQ, Food for Thought, #1
Human Nature
1. Human BE-ings: Why are humans beings they way they are and why do they do
what they do?
2. Human BE-liefs: Why do humans believe what they do and why are their beliefs
so different?*
3. Human BE-havior: Why do humans behave as they do and why are their
behaviours so different?*
* The Life of Brian: We’re all individuals; we’re all different. We’re all individuals;
we’re all different…..ad nauseum”
Is the glass half empty?
+ and - views
Negative, pessimistic and cynical attitudes to humanity
Are humans naturally good or naturally evil or naturally egoistical or “All of the
above”?
Optimistic and positive views
Blank slate theory
The neonate is born without any ideas about the universe, society, right and wrong
or any other ideas that we later teach them to believe or accept as correct
John Locke is one of the major originators of this idea
BS theory illustrated below!
Why is Human Nature a problem?
1. The contradictory evidence and arguments involving Human behaviour;
2.
2. Contradictory explanations of that behaviour;
3. Contradictory theories about human nature
The School of Athens
Plato and Aristotle
Western philosophy is NOT just “footnotes to Plato” it is a dialogue between
followers of Plato and Aristotle
The medieval RC church adopted first Plato [Augustine, 354-430 CE] and Aristotle
[Aquinas, cir. 1224-1274] as philosophical supports for church teachings
Plato and Aristotle in modernity
Rationalism seems to follow Plato [especially in Descartes but not just him]
Empiricism has an uneasy relation with Aristotle since a great deal of modern
science seems to constitute refutation of most of his major ideas
however…………………
The Platonic Virtues
The Platonic Soul
Plato [cir. 428-348 BCE]
The tripartite soul = 3 parts of the
psyche*
Compare this with Brock’s Two sides of the brains
Temperate brave and wise
One of the three parts is rational, the other 2 irrational or non-rational
* usually translated as “soul”
Roughly thinking, desiring and feeling
In Plato, “reflection” [3] “appetite” [3] and [4] “passionate feeling” [thymos]
Reason should rule but does not always even in the wise and the good
ABCs of The Republic
3 surprises in Platonic theory
A. The city/soul parallel =
polis
/
psyche
B. Plato’s proto-feminism?
C. Plato’s Freudianism?
What is left out
The great Gyges’ Ring story
The terrifying Thrasymachustheory of human nature
Mind/Body Dualism [or BS Dualism] Body-
psyche
dualism
The Republic
JUSTICE
In many ways the main gist of the The
Republic
is to reconcile the demands of
JUSTICE with the realities of HUMAN NATURE
But this is only necessary if there is a conflict between the 2!!!
HUMAN NATURE
Book 1 is a fantastically wonderful argument about HUMAN NATURE and JUSTICE
which continues in Book 2 with one of the greatest of all myths: GYGES’ RING
PLATO’S GREAT QUESTIONS
WHAT IS JUSTICE?
Plato answers this question by drawing a parallel between justice in the city and
justice in the individual i.e. The soul [
psyche
]
WHY BE JUST?
This takes a lot longer to answer because it involves the conflict between self-
interest and the interests of others as illustrated by GYGES’ RING
GYGES’ RING
What is [was] GYGES’ RING?
Gyges was a shepherd who found a magic ring
When he rubbed it he noticed that he disappeared from view
It dawned on him that he could literally get away with murder so he killed the king,
seduced the Queen and they both lived happily ever after!!!!
The Prisoners’ dilemma
The Prisoners’ dilemma
The soul’s contradictory nature
Plato may be the first person to formulate the [supreme] law of Non-contradiction
In formal language “P and not-P cannot both be true at the same time”.
“I am a Canadian citizen” and “I am NOT a Canadian citizen” cannot both be true
at the same time
So if our
psyche
has contradictory desires they must come from different parts of
the soul.
See PP re Plato’s Freudianism
THE TRIPARTITE RIVALRY
B. Plato’s proto-feminism?
Plato has been accused of being many BAD things: a Utopian, a proto-fascist, a
proto-communist,
But he was one of the first to regard women as being capable of more than looking
after babies, children, home and husbands!!!
His argument is very neat and concise
Dogs, women and words
How are men and women different?
Apart from the obvious learned in SEX ED 101 there are no great differences at least
not when it comes to being a Guardian or counsellor
They are similar to watch dogs protecting the flock from predators and enemies
But is Soc contradicting himself?
He after all anticipated Adam Smith
division of labour
by several centuries.
The common sense notion that some people are better than others at some jobs.
“everyone should do the one job for which nature fits her” [p. 8 OK it says “him”
but…]
Soc’s contradiction [8]
Different natures should have different occupations
Males and Females have different natures so…
_____________________________________
Conclusion: Men and women should have different occupations!!
However if you substitute “bald” and “harry” guys for M and F you get an absurdity
Women are almost equal
Except for being the “weaker” sex women are equal to males and “there is no
occupation’ concerned with the ……peculiar to women”
Not many males before Condorcet or JS Mill [The wimpy guy on the right] argued
this way
C. Plato’s Freudianism?
Final section [10-11]
Unnecessary pleasures and desires are unlawful and perhaps INNATE
Very interesting and controversial but provocative finish; “in every one of us
….there exist desires, terrible in the untamed lawlessness, which reveal themselves
in dreams ” [11] very Freudian!!!!
Aristotle (384-322 CE)
LIKE PLATO he has a tripartite soul but….
Correlates virtues with the soul not the city
Virtue =
arete
a Greek word similar to
aristos =
“the best”
Virtue, Happiness and Politics
Virtue =
arete
= excellence both intellectual and ethical =
ethos
Happiness =
eudomania
= a good demon!!!
Politics =
polis
= city
Virtue, the
psyche
and Politics
The tri-partite soul =
psyche
Think of plants, animals and humans
Two of these are non-rational but one of them can respond to reason
Plants cannot respond to reason just as our
psyche’s
nutritive part cannot
But animals can just as our
psyche’s
other non-rational part can
The Tripartite
psyche
Plato and Aristotle
Very similar to Plato but not quite the same
Plato: appetite, passion and reason
Aristotle: plant-like, appetitive and rational
2 types of Virtue
THOUGHT
Comes through teaching
“Virtue” is a very broad term for Aristotle Plato and the ancient Greeks unlike for us
It includes intellect and ethics, humans and non-humans
CHARACTER
Comes from habit not from nature or teaching
Compare Brock’s 2 faced policy and ML King’s “judge not by the colour of skin etc.
but the conduct of our character”
How is Virtue acquired?
By NATURE?
NO WAY, JOSE!
BY HABIT?
YES BECAUSE
What is the right sort of HABITUATION …………
Two types of REASON
PRACTICAL
What a father or friends would give
This is advice that would benefit you and have practical aims
THEORETICAL
What a mathematician would give or a lawyer or a…………….
Solely aims at theoretical knowledge of no obvious or at least immediate use like
studying Philosophy for example!!!
The Golden Mean
EXCESS
Eating and drinking too much= gluttony
Gratifying every and all pleasures [Playboy]
Rashness: being too brave or exercising foolish bravado
DEFICIENCY
Eating and drinking too little = anorexia
Gratifying none or very few pleasures [Puritan]
Cowardice: being a totally gutless wimp
BOOK X FUNCTION
FUNCTION
Definition is practically a tautology: function is decided by intended or obvious
usefulness as means to an end
What is the function of a knife? Or a house? Or clothes?
But what is the function of an animal?
HUMANITY’S FUNCTION
Do humans have a function?
However the definition includes proper pleasure
What is our “proper pleasure”?
WINE, WIMMIN and SONG perhaps? If you get bored with that stop singing?
How is our function determined?
INSTRUMENTAL GOODS
Since it is determined “By the virtuous person” let me give my answer: I am going
to the dentist AGAIN this week! WHY?
Well not because it is a lot of fun but because………
Like money, work, keys, etc
INTRINSIC GOODS
While instrumental goods are means to an end intrinsic goods are good in
themselves: pleasure, happiness, perhaps knowledge or at least most of it
OK but what is happiness?
HAPPINESS
This idea of Aristotle’s is as totally contrary to present North America’s excessive,
obsessive hedonistic indulgence as you can imagine
Happiness is not amusement
Ok so then what is HAPPINESS?
What is the supreme HAPPINESS?
THEORETICAL STUDY
Something like Philosophy but more
There are several reasons given [13.31-13.38]
1. Continuous
2. Pleasantest
3.
4.
5. No end beyond itself
6. Leisure form Greek
schole
7. GOD-like
The main argument
HUMAN NATURE
THE supreme element in
human nature!!!
Is Reason the
supreme element in
human nature??
Other virtues
They are human not divine
It may and should occur to you that this is very elitist
It expresses what Adam Smith later called “The Vanity of the Philosophers”
POLITICS
Family Village State
Possibly we should add tribes and clans and whatever
Is he correct in saying [19-20 final sentence] “the state is by nature clearly prior to
the family and to the individual, since the whole is of necessity prior to the part.”?
TWO types of rule
SOUL > BODY
DESPOTIC
This is like unlimited, absolute monarchy or tyranny
INTELLECT > APPETITE
ROYAL:
This is like a constitutional monarchy where the power of the monarch is limited by
laws both human and divine and therefore is the RULE of LAW
Two types of slavery
Nature
This is established by either pure natural law or by divine law independent of the will
of humans
Slavery is natural because some men by nature are naturally slavish or servile
CONVENTION
This exists purely by human convention or invention or social constructions as they
are called today
Read the final line very CAREFULLY!!
“Half [=50% of] the free persons in a state are
women”.
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