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March 7, 2013 Phil Note.docx

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PHIL 115

Twilight of the Idols  The average human being had very different commitments, often wrong or lacking philosophical basis, but people had purpose  What convictions would you be willing to die for? Most likely nothing o If so, usually those ideas cannot be rationally defended  Our ideals become empty idols  Nihilism – belief in nothing  It is the role of the philosopher to anticipate what our new ideals might be o Re-evaluate our values  All of our political ideas are based on ancient religious ideas that don’t stand up anymore  Philosophers should have the mind of a poet (imaginative way of interpreting things)  A philosopher should be able to think about human existence and the meaning of one’s own and others existence o Most urgent questions possible for a human to ask to be able to live an examined life  Does not write formal philosophical treatises, often gets off topic  Why did we start thinking that truth was an ideal? Why do we value it?  A person is a living organism, bodies, with capacity of mind  No one can think except for the individual thinker o A work of art is a work of self-expression  All good philosophy is a skeptical philosophy  Skeptical of all the great world religions, especially Christianity and all philosophical metaphysics, epistemology (rationalism, empiricism), skeptical of common sense morality o Your moral intuitions are present because of your culture and your tradition  Our political values are based on our moral values  The whole discipline of metaphysics and epistemology are dead ends, ask questions with no possible answers  Thinking is not only a rational, cerebral enterprise, it involves the body  Strong notion of individuality in the early modern world (17 century) o Before that, the notion of individuality didn’t exist  What makes us an individual might be nothing more than the biological difference between people  Individuality is not a fact, is it a moral concept, it is more of an achievement o We should take on the task of becoming individual  The human will is not a faculty of mind  If our will is inclined to be weak, it is not fated to be weak  The human being, the human existence/nature consists of limited possibilities o Possibilities that are historically created and historically specific  If you are aspiring to be something or do something then you have possibilities to make those things actuality  All knowledge is interpretation, might be true, but there is no non-interpretive, objective, knowledge  Just because certainty is not possible does not mean knowledge is not possible  Descartes – certain ideas are evident by the “light of nature”, cannot be denied o No such thing as the light of nature, and if it does exist, we need evidence, but it is an assumption, yet Descartes said he did not assume anything  You can’t get something from nothing – ancient theory  Certain ideas are so fundamental that we depend on them, making it impossible for these ideas to be untrue o Depending on something does not make that something absolutely dependable  The fact that we rely on an idea does not mean that the idea is true o The fact that we wouldn’t know how to live without relying on certain ideas does not make them true, it just means we are limited  Truth is metaphorically a “woman”, there is no definition of the word truth (no theory of truth)  If what makes a true statement true is that it is blank – no way to fill that blank space o Nothing makes true ideas true; true ideas are mostly ideas we accept and rely on, it is what works  What is the value of truth?  We have to regard ideas in a more personal way o Self-expression, will to power  We have to regard philosophy as a discipline and ideas more generally  Knowledge is available to any rational being if they are following their rational method (Descartes) o Hume will say make knowledge claims when you have empirical support o James and Dewey will say you should adopt an idea once you have inquired into it and seen the consequences o Nietzsche will disagree and say that philosophy is the personal confession of its author  The philosopher is not one type o Rational, platonic, etc  All knowledge is contingent on the speaker, on the interests of the speaker  Knowledge always serves its knowers  Knowledge is interpretive on the standpoint of the knower  Perspectivism is a hypothesis about the nature of knowledge  Knowledge is much more limited than we wish to believe  In the nature of knowledge that it doesn’t reveal itself in totality  The very condition that makes knowledge possible, also limits knowledge  We never know the whole truth about something, we have an aspect of the truth  The discipline of psychology is a point of view  all disciplines are a variety of different points of view o The richer our knowledge will be, the more points of view on it, but our knowledge will never be complete  Human existence needs a justification: why are we here? What is the value and point of my life?  Religion deprives us in our ability to answer the most urgent question in human existence  As soon as I believe in the gods or a god, I prostrate myself in front of this god o All the good things and important things in my life are given to me by an act of grace from above, it is a gift, I do not deserve it o All the things that give my life meaning and purpose are given to me, leaving me the originator of everything bad  Human existence ought to be lived in the present as much as possible o Get rid of the notion of the afterlife – if our soul is eternal, why should we care about this life?  The basic impulse of religion is to tear down what is inspired or different (resentment)  Any inspired idea that must be inspired by a God or another greater self must be justified  Our ordinary way of thinking about morality is in some way false o We each have a basic sense of what is right and wrong, what is mostly common knowledge  The fact that we need consensus means there is some kind of falsity in the consensus o We are not thinking about it, if we were, we are not thinking about a variety, about our values  The basic distinction in master morality is between good/noble and bad/base 1 o Honesty, individuality, creativity, pride, life affirmation, etc.  Slave morality, good and evil 2 o Charity, compassion, self-sacrifice, love (Christian), equality, etc.  One’s values are one’s own, they are chosen  We choose our values with some necessity  All ideas of moral values are expressions of the self  I don’t choose my values
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