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PHIL 115 Study Guide - Final Guide: Reductio Ad Absurdum, Existence Precedes Essence, Gaunilo Of Marmoutiers

Course Code
PHIL 115
Jacqueline M Davies
Study Guide

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Ontological Argument
-All objective knowledge is dead; we haven't killed God, we have killed objectivity
-World without objective knowledge = no morality, horrible way of life, animalistic
-Anselm: atheists are fools
-Reductio ad absurdum: reduce somebody's argument to something stupid
-Contingent existence vs. necessary existence
-Descartes reworks Anselm's argument, Kant challenges it, and Gaunilo creates a reductio ad absurdum
-To say that one must act a certain way because of human nature is to act in bad faith, not authentically
-Human essence is in being as becoming
-Condemned to freedom; weighty responsibility
-We must not only choose, but choose well
-Choosing well = choosing the right choice about what we choose to be/become
-Meaningful choice = justifiable to oneself and others, holds oneself accountable
-A meaningful choice is not just what I think is right for me at this moment
-Human condition characterized as anguish, abandonment, and despair
-Existence precedes essence
-A human is nothing but what he makes of himself
-Existentialism recognizes our capacity for transcendence
-Anguish does not prevent action, we still choose and act
-No a priori morality with existentialism
-One cannot blame anyone or anything for one's choices, either within or outside oneself
-Choosing morality is constructing a work of art; it isn't obvious what makes it great until it is done
-In our choices we choose for all humanity, which puts us in a position to praise or condemn others; we
may not know all facts about others, therefore we cannot make accurate judgements
-4 criticisms: dwell in quietism, depicts humans as mean and ignores beauty, considers humans in
isolation and ignores solidarity, and denies the reality of human affairs by allowing anything
-The self is a complex combination of parts
-We can account for the unity of the self without assuming that there is anything constant (“atomistic
-Gestalt: whole is more than the sum of its parts
-Wool is made of many fibres and not one long thread, yet we see a piece of wool as one unified thing
-It is a unified thing out of which even more complex unified things (sweaters) can be made
-Unity of the self is neither substantial nor atomistic
-Organic unity
-Sweater = made of wool, woollen thread = made of fibre
-2 dimensions of complexity: transversal and horizontal
-Transversal = complexity of a person's identity at one moment, “time slice”
-Time slices are composed of bundles of three kinds of experiences: intellectual, emotive, volitive
-Intellectual = perceptions, images, ideas
-Emotive = affect, how we feel
-Volitive = will, what one is inclined to do/not do
-Each kind of experience is related to the other two
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-Horizontal complexity cannot be broken up into discrete parts or moments because the past structures
the future in psychological time
-Current experience is tied to the past & shaped by an anticipated future
-Self is made up of experiences but not equivalent to their sum
-Our self is a sweater made from the knitting of a long piece of wool, which is in turn made up of
shorter, twisted fibres
-Knitting = looping forwards and backwards through our psychological experience of time
-The knitting gets tighter and looser, much like the unevenness of our experience of time
-Structural unity is a function of the interrelations and tensions between parts
-Gestalt allows for a permanent and mutable self
-Both immanent in and transcends its experiences, and both a unity and multiplicity
-Unity = structure, multiplicity = various aspects
Buddhism & Descartes
-From the Zen Buddhist tradition
-Pra = being born, Jna = to know
-Vi = separation/differentiation, Jnana = to know
-Sanskrit terms
-Vijnana analyses reality into knowing subject and known objectivity
-Analysis = to loosen, unravel, investigate, dissect
-Prajna = intuitive pure knowledge, grasps reality in its “oneness”
-Samadhi = non-dualistic state of consciousness; single pointed concentration
-Satori = enlightenment, waking up
-Buddhists and Descartes are both interested in producing a method that could 100% distinguish
between knowledge of reality and uncertain beliefs/dreams
Buddhism & Ethics
-Four noble truths: suffering, origins of suffering, cessation of suffering, path leading to cessation of
-Dukkha = truth of suffering
-Three categories: ordinary suffering, suffering caused by impermanence, suffering associated with
identity/conditioned states
-True origins of suffering/3 poisons: craving conditioned by ignorance, attachment, and aversion
-True ending of suffering = liberation from cravings
-Steps of path to cessation (“8-fold path”):
-Right View (understanding noble truths)
-Right Intention (good will, non harmful)
-Right Speech (kind, no slander)
-Right Action (peaceful)
-Right Livelihood (support consistent with path)
-Right Effort (towards virtuous states of mind)
-Right Mindfulness (focused contemplation)
-Right Concentration (Samadhi)
-Requires developing compassion for others and wisdom about ultimate emptiness of selves
-Ethics depend on knowledge of the nature of suffering and desire to liberate oneself from suffering
-First steps focused on liberation from suffering and compassion/love, final steps are mental trainings
which depends on the previous steps
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