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Human Nature Discussion Notes

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Syracuse University
PHI 197

8/29 What is philosophy about? - Study of ideas? - Discussion of how life should be lived? - Philio/sophy: Love of wisdom - Reflective investigation of questions that can’t be answered by the means of other disciplines Substantive claims about human nature - Humans are _x_ x: imperfect, not-methodical, reasoning creatures, pleasure, emotional (linguistically expressed), puzzling, free Derived claims (based on some substantial claims) - Give that humans are _x_, _y_ follows - Hobbes x: rational, fearful, aggressive, of roughly equal power y: we should live in a society ruled by a big bully How should one live? - Follow your own moral code - Follow your dreams/desire - Follow THE moral code - Promote peace Why? If you follow your own moral code, you’ll be happy and you won’t be a sheep. So follow your own moral code. Is doing right by others an essential aspect of a good life (for creatures like us?) or what’s so good about being righteous? Why be moral? Plato (424BC-348BC) Socrates (489BC-399BC) Plato wrote plays influenced by Socrates, who hardly wrote anything down. Justice - As a social practice - “In one’s soul” being righteous- trait of character (more of less righteous) - As an attribute of actions Humans are _x_ x: only practice justice under that of punishment; only care about appearances; competition “State of nature,” the original state of humans without pressures of laws and society 8/30 - Socrates says people are just because they want to be just (you should feel bad for doing something bad) - Glaucon says people are just because of the rewards (you shouldn’t feel bad for doing something bad) - How do humans act? - How should humans ought to be? 9/5 How much of the outward appearance of justice can be preserved on the common view? How common is the common view? - The story of the most just and most unjust man, the most unjust man is wealthy and the most just man is poor and doesn’t know what’s so good about being just ex: Most just man is: happy; personal fulfillment; feelings - Socrates sees that having just in your soul is most personal - Hedonism: Pleasure is the only good in life (@ discussion) 9/7 - Socrates never wrote anything down because he thought that he didn’t have anything positive to add to the world - The Republic: shows socrates as more positive through a series of questions and answers - Social Darwinism: people who took the idea of evolution and applied moral claims (that we should take all the resources and the weak will fall) - Callicles says that the weak have convinced the strong to have equal terms, “justice” - Callicles says that the better are more powerful, stronger, etc. He also says the group will overtake the individual. Before he said the weak convinced the strong about the laws, thus, contradicting himself yet again. He revises “the best” to be the more intelligent. - Callicles seems to be making things up on a whim when Socrates contradicts him, however he still shows confidence in what he says - Callicles says if food is split the more intelligent should have more food and that’s how it ought to be - Callicles changes his definition to brave and intelligence about the city 9/10 How should one live? Aim at the best kind of life (for a human). What’s the best kind of life (for a human)? One that maximizes the food things in a (human) life and minimizes the bad. Callicles: Pleasure... is what’s really good in life? Freedom... (on restraint) Being a “real man” The only thing? The most important? Some helpful tools for clarification (using Callicles view for examples) - Necessary condition (A is required for B) ex: Pleasure is necessary foundation for living the best kind of life - Sufficient condition (A guarantees B) ex: Loads of pleasure is a sufficient condition for living the best life counter ex: life of the catamite ex: freedom counter ex: Doesn’t guarantee because doesn’t imply pleasure, life of the miserable person What’s so good about being just? - (Ideal) city Structure Justice is... What good is justice? (makes possible other virtues) - Soul Similar structure Analogies P1: A and B have properties x, y, z P2: A is M C: So B is M 9/12 Taking stock Humans... Experience and feel (pleasure) Act (freedom) Are embodied (health) Think (reason): appearance, reality Live together (social city) Evaluate each other (shame, horror, respect) What place has the best kind of life for a human? Health + reason = mental health Socrates: mental health necessary for best kind of life - Socrates thinks reason, spirit, and appetite is needed in one’s idea soul and also needed for a good mental health. What’s the role of mental health? Is it a necessary condition? 9/17 Aristotle (348 BC - 322 BC) Scientist, philosopher, and much more (doesn’t usually walk of individuals) ⅓ stuff found, rest lost. Only have lecture notes. Virtue (excellence, is Greek “arete”) Good as a virtue (something that makes something good- objective) Good as something an individual welcomes (subjective) Eu-daimon (good spirit) Rational animals (us) We can reason for things we do, we believe, we feel ex: Learning, enjoyment Handout 5: P3 Not quite true... the function of humans is... to lead.. to innovate.. to reason Virtue of a rational activity ex: Obama is a Muslim (something we can all disagree on) Those who say this have bad reason and cannot prove (@ discussion) 9/21 Aristotle - He says some end is also “good,” which is not necessarily the same - Premises can be true but conclusions don’t always have to be. - Is there only one goal that every human aims at? - He says that all humans activities aim at the chief good (happiness) - Virtues are excellences - Rational activity: to do something with reason - P1: counter ex: The good of a murder lies in performing murdering well Murdering can be bad for the murder in the end - P2: Substitute X with something bad - P3: Says that humans only have one thing they are good at - Talks about ancient Greek’s values as examples of virtues of characters and their domains because that is what he’s familiar too. These are just examples, he didn’t limit himself to those thoughts though. - End: goal in his sense - Are things really good within itself? ex: Knowledge might be only to get better jobs counter example: Knowledge can be good by itself but it also gives other things 9/24 Handout 7 Is hedonism true? Aristotle: No Nazick: No Mill: Yes Are some kinds of pleasure objectively better than others? ex: Sleeping? Dinner with friends and family? Is knowledge intrinsically good? ex: I know how the movie goes Sometimes more pleasure, other times less pleasure Nozick’s thought experience machine: If you would choose to it’s a good reason for saying you’re a hedonist Reasons to not use experience machine: Experiences of failure and improvement Actual vs artificial experiences Mill: Someone who has experienced both (or all) kinds of __ is the best judge of ___. Anyone who has experienced all ___, will put ___ above ___. 9/26 The Dalai Lama Cycles of craving (suffering) Dependent on externals ex: Transient See Gorgias, the “leaky pots” section Aristotle- not all pleasures depend on craving ex: Knowledge Do we practice “universal compassion”? Should we? Compassion: empathy; wish to help We open ourselves to suffering when we think we can control something but we really can’t. Where does achievement play a role? How about excellence? Ex: Your friend is in financial need... if they practice universal compassion, what would one do? - Lend money? - Give the reading of Dalai Lama to tell you friend that money isn’t everything, only one that lets us suffer? - Somewhere in the middle? Help a bit but then point them in the right direction? (@ discussion) 9/27 - Assume that philosophy is the better pleasure than watching TV. Mill - “It’s better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.” This means that it’s better to be aware and not as pleased than a pig who is pleased by rolling in the mud, who does whatever and doesn’t know “real pleasure,” ex: reading. Nozick - Experience machine: Can go into the machine and choose what experiences you want Most people want to just maximize pleasure so he thinks that most would choose the experience machine. He is trying to say there is something more than just intrinsic value if you choose not to. It’s better to actually accomplish something. Dalai Lama - Thinks that the best thing is human compassion counter ex: Psychopaths Should we show them compassion? YES, because it doesn’t make sense to ridicule them because they don’t show compassion then in return do the same thing NO, they are incapable of giving compassion Can they be happy? Because he is not empathetic, he cannot be as truly happy. Can they be more happy because they don’t feel empathy and are taught to do what they please? - Assumes that humans are naturally good, but what if we are naturally bad? - There was a study that he pointed out that says that there is a correlation between the amount of times you say “I” and how long you live. Although the study doesn’t say, he assumes that one causes another, making it seem like he is saying that you should be compassionate because it makes you live longer. 10/1 Going through how to write topic 2: - Only do what’s required Part 1: 2 pgs Explain why someone who holds the so-called “common view” of justice would think that a person who was still just, even when they knew there were no repercussions for acting unjustly, would be “wretched and stupid”. What is the common view? The common view is... Tip: How much to explain? Start small main point, fill in more as needed. What is the imagined situation? He imagines... the invisibility ring. Describe what a just person is. What’s the judgement of the common view on this situation? Why does the common view make this judgement? Answering all these will make the paper have a clear structure. Part 2: 1 sentence Is the common view right about this? (Yes, no, it’s complicated) CV: That’s wretched and stupid. You: Why do you say that CV? CV: He could’ve murdered, stolen, etc without repercussions and he didn’t. You: Why would he murder, steal, etc? CV: Are you kidding? That is the best thing in life. (The best thing in life is to do injustice without repercussions) Part 3: 3 pgs Why or why not? Yes: Are your reasons for agreeing the same as CV? Yes: Reasonable objections No: What are your reasons? No: Are your reasons the same as someone we’ve read? (Doesn’t always apply) Yes: What are the reasons? What are some reasonable objections? No: What are your reasons for thinking that the CV is wrong? 10/3 If you go to college [then] you’re more likely to get a better job. Split this into two claims 1) If you go to college then X 2) If X then you’re more likely to get a better paying job. X, for example, can be “you have qualities that employers look for.” 10/8 Human nature & Political freedom (Political association/authority) What is a “state of nature”? - He doesn’t think that the whole world has obtained it all Ex: Syria, war-torn parts of Africa, really bad ghettoes Government has broken down, state of civil war How do we get out of the state of nature? - If we can, we flee Are you terrified of...? - Violation of rights (freedom of speech) - Heights - Loneliness - Prison Which person would more likely pressure those into keeping their contracts? Obama? More for regulations on banks More for basic policy More political authority More power in the hands of the government to control us Romney? More terrifying, moving control to status, less control and fear More in your face... Hobbes - In order to flourish we need censorship - Fear is the primary motivator for humans - Don’t blame people for having certain kinds of wants/desires - Human nature: we will protect our friends and family over strangers (@ homework notes) 10/8 Hobbes: Leviathan Exceprts Chapter 13: Of the Naturall Condition of Mankind, as concerning their Felicity, and Misery - The state of nature is an example of fiction Hobbes created to respond to “what human nature might have been like in a hypothetical existence prior to any civilization). Some close examples to reality can be made, but none specifically. - The state of nature is reality - Natural condition: mistrust of others, criminal behavior, domination of the weak... aka war against every man - State of nature has no security and is a life full of horror - Two natural passions enable people to escape the state of nature: fear and reason Fear makes man want to escape Reason provides the natural laws that constitute the foundation for peace Chapter 14: Of the first and second Naturall Lawes, and of Contracts - “Law of Nature” is a general rule discovered through reason - This law affirms human self-preservation and condemns destructive acts to human life - Law of nature is natural and and inherently known - The naturl main, in order to preserve life, must seek peace - "That every man, ought to endeavour Peace, as farre as he can hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps and advantages of Warre. The first branch of which Rule, containe the first, and Fundamental Law of Nature; which is, to seek Peace, and follow it. The Second, the summe of the Right of Nature of Nature; which is, By all means we can, to defend our selves." - Natural law says that we seek peace because to seek peace is t fulfill our natural right and to defend ourselves - 2: we must mutually divest ourselves of certain rights (such as the right to take another person's life) in order to escape the state of natural war - Contract: mutual transferring of rights Chapter 15: Of other Lawes of Nature - 3: states that it is not enough simply to make contracts, but we need to keep the contracts we make (justice) - Humans desire power, which causes the want to break the contract despite the logic of the third law and the natural mandate to preserve our own lives - Other natural laws must come into play in order to preserve the functionality of the third law - 4: show gratitude toward those who maintain the contract so that no one will regret having complied with the contract. - 5: we must be accommodating to others for the purpose of protecting the contract and not quarrel over minor issues lest the contract collapse. - 6: We must pardon those who have committed offenses in the past - 7: Punishment should be used only to correct the offender and to protect the contract, not for gratuitous retribution (e.g. "an eye for an eye") - 8: People must avoid making signs of hatred or contempt toward others - 9: Pride should be avoided - 10: One should retain only those rights that one would recognize in others - 11: Equality and impartiality in judgment should be maintained at all times - 12: Resources that cannot be divided must be shared - 13: Resources that cannot be divided nor shared in common should be assigned by lottery - 14: Lots are of two sorts: natural (either through primogeniture or through first seizure of the resource) or arbitrary (random determination of possession) - 16: Individuals who work to preserve the peace should be left in peace - 17: Disputes must be settled by an arbitrator - 18: No one with self-interest may be an arbitrator - 19: Witnesses and facts must be brought to bear in arbitration, lest decisions be made by force, contrary to the law of nature (moral philosophy) - General law of nature: “Do not that to another, which thou wouldst not have done to tey selfe.” - Laws of nature are simply conclusions drawn from natural reason, not the mandates of government Chapter 16: Of Persons, Authors, and things Personated - There are two types of persons, natural and artificial. A "natural person" is one whose words are his or her own. An "artificial person" is one whose words are those of someone else - All the natural men in the state of nature are natural persons - The contract symbolizes social unity 10/10 1. Pick a premise (P6-P9) 2. Find a quote in the text (if you can) that supports Hobbes argument 3. Strongest objection that you can - P8: Someone who breaks a contract without repercussions must live amongst fools. - “He, therefore, that breaketh his covenant and consequently declare that he thinks he may with reason do so, cannot be received into any society that unite themselves for peace and defence but by the error of them that receive him“ - It’s more trouble than it’s worth, it may benefit you or not hurt anyone; self interests - P9: Living amongst fools is not conducive to one’s one security. (@discussion) 10/12 Hobbes - Human nature: where there is no authority - No one wants to be in the state of nature so they choose a leader - Sovereign/leader might not be nice (and only peruses self-interest), but you should follow him because anything is better than the state of nature - If we try to overthrow the sovereign then we will face prisoner dilemma scenario - if you don’t threaten humans then they will try to overthrow the sovereign because they are greedy - Glacon thinks that the individual is a fool to not break the law when allowed. Hobbes thinks that the society is the fool. - If you make a promise you have an obligation to follow through - Just because two people act in their own self-interest doesn’t mean the law is just (one might’ve been forced into it) 10/15 1) How can we be “truly free” (& “truely human”)? “Man is born free and everywhere is in chains” - Ex: Government justice system No child left behind act - If you want to be able to have a say in government you have to live in a reasonably small “city” because then you can make sense into others - In a sense, born into slavery - Three different kinds: “careful distinction between...” (end of book 1, chapter 8, page 27) Natural: Civil: No property ownership Moral: Only gained through living in civil liberty - Says that one shouldn’t been enslaved and forced but when contracts are made then he says that these do not apply It’s okay to put someone in line (if they agree) - Thought Grotius lived in a really good place, until he further analyzed - Social contract: Exchange civil liberties to community 2) What makes for legitimate political authority? - Disagrees that we need a “big bully” to rule Rousseau’s Critique of Grotius/Hobbes (Thought that Grotius and Hobbes basically had the same view) Humans in the state of nature... - No developed capacity to reason (we are all equal in prudence) (whereas Hobbes say we are born with it) Back when we were more “monkeys” they had a more simple life because we didn’t have a need to reason.. we just needed food and water - Scattered Doesn’t enter into constant close relations, more scattered - Natural sympathy (that Hobbes ignores) Contracts entered into under classes are: Hobbes: - Legit, you are bound. You can’t agree then just find a way to rebel later Rousseau JJ (1712-1778): - No. Not legit - How can force be the best way? - You should agree then later find a way to rebel when it’s in a better situation - Can be by taken in by conquest or by choosing a sovereign (@ homework notes) 10/16 Social Contract by Rousseau Book 1, Chapters 1-5 - Rejects the idea that legitimate political authority is found in nature (except father and child) - Legitimate political authority cannot be founded on force - People obey rulers not because they should, but because they have no choice - If they are able to overthrow their ruler, it is their right because they are exercising their superior right - People simply do whatever is within their power - Legitimate political authority rests on a convent (a “social contract”) between members of society - It’s impossible to surrender one’s freedom in a fair exchange - Our actions can only be moral if those actions were done freely - In giving up our freedom we give up our morality and our humanity - Wars have nothing to do with individuals - Wars are constructed between states for sake of property - People in absolute monarchy are slaves Book 1, Chapter 6-9 - In the state of nature, people need to combine forces in order to survive - Socia
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