The Ship of Theseus

2 Mar

 

Hello everyone! I know I have not done anything here for awhile, and it is for a good reason. My plan here from now on is to only post here a few things I have already written for school or other reasons, or to only post when I have extreme leisure time available.

I am currently in the process of beginning a book I have decided to write. This involves a strikingly different metaphysical theory inferred from an in depth analysis of the consciousness. This will either make me post here even less or, make me post here more. If you want more frequent yet shorter things from this crazy brain of mine you can follow me on tumblr:

http://bluespectacles.tumblr.com

below is an analysis of the metaphysics of identity of the puzzle of the ship of Theseus.

 

When Theseus, hero of Athens, last sailed his ship and left it in the harbor in Athens, the ship was left there long after his death. When the ship’s planks decayed to a point, it was renovated with new planks so Theseus’ ship would be maintained. The history of that ship led to the puzzle that has caused debate among metaphysicians as to the identity of the original ship and where the identity was after the original ship was renovated. The original ship was renovated one at a time with a new plank replacing an old decayed plank. This was done until a new renovated ship remained. For the purpose of the puzzle, the action of placing the old decayed planks of the old ship in a warehouse and then reconstructing a ship exactly the same with those same old planks is discussed also. This leads to there being two ships (one reconstructed and one renovated) and a puzzle as to which one is the ‘original’ ship that Theseus sailed. This puzzle is useful in debate for metaphysics of identity between particulars (identity of a thing to itself and identity of a thing to other things based on principles like Leibniz’s law). There is debate between people that think that the original ship is the renovated ship or the reconstructed ship for a few good reasons. One large question is as to whether an object’s identity survives the replacement of the object’s parts, and another is to whether objects can maintain identity in intermittent existences. These and other things matter a lot in arguing for any position that could possibly solve this puzzle.

Since no one conclusion can be achieved that solves this puzzle without some further objection, both arguments are worth exploring. At present, I will explore both sides of the argument yet argue for the reconstructed ship being the original. I will argue the following argument and refute its objections:

  1. If x has exactly the same parts as y, then x=y
  2. The reconstructed ship has exactly the same parts as the original ship
  3. Therefore, the reconstructed ship = the original ship

This argument obviously favors the reconstructed ship being the original ship, but objections and counter-arguments need to be taken into consideration before proclaiming this argument to be a better solution to the puzzle.

Before going through the argument premise by premise, it is worthy to note that this puzzle as it corresponds to metaphysics and identity is important as the ships’ numerical and qualitative identities. Objects are often understood as composite objects because of how many parts are understood as one composite object together as a whole. Two objects, or an object and itself, are numerically identical if the objects as composites are the same (e.g. a banana is numerically identical to itself when it goes from its green color to yellow). Two objects are qualitatively different when parts or qualities within a composite object are different between two objects or an object and itself at a later time. The banana is not qualitatively identical to itself between its time as a green banana and its time as a ripe yellow one. Keeping these terms in mind going further, it is also worthy to note that this argument for the reconstructed ship is valid as its conclusion follows from the two premises.

The first premise (if x has the same parts as y, then x=y) is generally a common sense principle. Lowe in A Survey of Metaphysics uses examples of ancient artifacts and the restoration of them. When an artifact is restored (taken apart then put back together where x is the artifact before disassembling and y is the artifact after reassembling), the newly reconstructed artifact is considered still the original artifact that was excavated. Numerical identity seems to subsume qualitative identity in that the composite whole of an object gets its numerical identity from the parts that make it up. The parts of an object matter to the whole identity of an object, therefore, this premise is favorable. Objections come from the possibility of a composite object being disassembled (i.e. the ship of Theseus) and then reassembled. X and Y would still have their same parts, but their identity may have been lost between disassembling and reassembling. One might object by asking where the existence of the object went from the time the object was disassembled up to the time it was reassembled. The replacement of an object’s parts brings further objections.

The second premise (the reconstructed ship has the same parts as the original ship) is simply an example of the first premise that states that when an object has the same parts as another object then those two objects equal each other. Since qualitative identity is seemingly subsumed by numerical identity, the reconstructed ship will end up debatably having the same numerical identity as the original ship. One large question that divides the arguments of the puzzle of Theseus’ ship is whether or not an object’s identity can survive the replacement of its parts. One arguing that the reconstructed ship is the original ship is saying that an object’s identity cannot survive the replacement of parts. On this view, once the parts are replaced an intermittent existence is allowed for the object as its original parts are disassembled where the object still exists but is simply on existential hiatus. This violates a common sense principle because an intermittent existence is sometimes thought of as a ‘ceasing to exist’ and a ‘coming back into existence’ allowed for the object that violates many things philosophers have already stated. These two big questions create the dividing line between the two sides of the puzzle.

From the previous two premises, it is easy to see how this conclusion follows: Therefore, the reconstructed ship = original ship. This conclusion to the puzzle is arguable because it is numerically identical as well as qualitatively identical to the original ship. It has all the same parts making the composite object equal to that of the original ship. The renovated ship has both of these kinds of identity but has less qualitative identity because of the set of different parts it was given during renovation. Concluding by saying that the reconstructed ship is the original is saying that the object’s identity cannot survive the replacement of parts because of the changes of qualitative identity. Concluding this is also saying that intermittent existences are allowed and are not equivalent to a contradictory ‘coming into existence’ and ‘ceasing to exist.’ This conclusion is also saying that the original ship cannot be both renovated and reconstructed ships because one identity cannot be in two spatial locations at once. This is also saying that it cannot be neither the renovated nor the reconstructed ship because that conclusion would cause one to stop using general common sense.

Whether one thinks the original ship is the renovated or the reconstructed it comes down to whether that person thinks objects can have intermittent existences and whether object’s identities can survive replacement of parts. Having discussed this argument and its objections it is clear why one would argue either stance. My argument is in agreement with the current argument discussed. When thinking about metaphysical identity at all it is easy to see how and why numerical identity subsumes qualitative identity. Because of this, I do not agree that the object’s identity survives the replacement of its parts. The renovated ship after replacement has differences of qualitative identity from the original ship because of the entirety of different parts even if renovated in the same structure as the original ship. The parts of the ship contribute to its qualitative identity. Furthermore, I agree that objects are allowed intermittent existences and during existences such as these a composite object does not cease to exist or come back into existence when restructured. When the original ship was renovated, each part removed from the ship was taking a little bit of the original ship’s identity little by little.  The identity of the original ship stood with the old decayed planks in the warehouse that were reconstructed. All of this comes down to the argument that the identity of the ship is in the planks that made up its parts and the whole composite object. The renovated ship with new planks is a new composite object with new parts and thus a new identity. Even though there are objections to this stance, one identity cannot be identical to a qualitatively different one.

 

Michel Foucault’s This Is Not a Pipe (Treachery of Images)

12 Jan

This philosopher is new to me and new to this site. I will be talking more about him from here on out. The French post-structuralist philosopher wrote This is Not a Pipe referring to the surrealist painter Rene Magritte’s painting Treachery of Images. This painting yields confusion as to what Magritte’s point was and what it means overall.

Ceci n’est pas une pipe is French for This is not a pipe. The issue here is what does it mean to write this across a clear painting of a pipe. Michel Foucault’s writing about the surrealist painting is a clear detailed analysis of the two versions of the painting, the calligram in the painting, and a lot of other detailed information. Foucault’s section of the writing The Unraveled Calligram is th section I have interest in because it gives 3 possible explanations to what the [this] is referring to.

A calligram is a piece of art that is made of a word or phrase or many phrases. When the word or phrase(s) is put on paper/canvas it is structured into a shape of something and what the word or phrase says represents the shape the word or phrase makes.

The above is a calligram. It makes the shape of skilled guitarist Jimi Hendrix and any enthusiast of his would understand that the words the calligram says are of Hendrix’s music. Magritte’s calligram in his surrealist painting has the same function but is with one word.

Going back to the calligram later, the two issues is what is meant by this? and what is Magritte’s point? Magritte’s point is an easy one. He stated himself he would be lying if he were to say that the pipe in the painting really was a pipe. Could you fill that pipe? no you for sure could not, therefore that is not a pipe. What Magritte is aiming to convey is that the non-pipe is a representation of a pipe.

This is an idea that is and can be applied to epistemology and phenomenology in epistemology did just that. Phenomenology, Foucault and Magritte are not related and have no ties, this is just my noticing a similarity in principle between the painting and phenomenological epistemology. Phenomenology is a school of epistemology that studies phenomena and perceives the world unempirically in that when object X is viewed it is not thought that the object is being seen, it is thought that the phenomenal representation of object X is being seen. Therefore being is taken out of the picture in consciousness in epistemology. So, phenomenologically, if one were to see a pipe in real life it would be viewed as a representation of a pipe, however that representation of a pipe being filled would just be an episode of a representation of a pipe being filled with a representation of tobacco. Coming back from my epistemological tangent, in Magritte’s painting it is just a matter of aesthetics in surrealism, while phenomenological thinkers are just a matter of viewing things as phenomena as representations. These two are only the same in principle.

Knowing Magritte’s point to the painting, Foucault discussed 3 functions of the [this] in Treachery of Images. In the first function of the [this], the [this] is referring to the picture of the pipe. The statement is what Magritte’s point is, that the picture of the pipe is not really a pipe.

The second function of the [this] is when the [this] refers to the written statement [This is not a pipe]. It is saying that the statement of the pipe is not the representation of the pipe. This seems difficult to grasp because when speaking of the statement it might be thought that it cannot be denied that [pipe] refers to the above design. Foucault states that ‘design and designation do not overlap’. I understand this as the statement denying that it corresponds to any object like pipe.

The third function of the [this] is when the [this] refers to the entire boundless painting overall. Here the calligram matters in two ways: 1) In the English version of the painting where [this is not a pipe] is what the statement is, the calligram is with the word [pipe] the place in the pipe where tobacco goes in is where the top of the p and the ipe, and the taller part of the p is the long part of the pipe.

Look at the large letter p and try to envision how the pipe can become a calligram with the p especially when the ipe are added. Foucault has illustrations in the writing but I could not find them on the internet. The third function of the [this] again refers to the whole boundless (second version of Treachery of Images by Magritte) painting with the pipe representation and the statement. The calligram here being with the word pipe, the proclamation is that [this], the painting and its entailments is not any representation of a object pipe or a statement/word meaning a pipe.

“Hence the third function of the statement: “This” (this ensemble constituted  by a written pipe and a drawn text) “is not” (is incompatible with) “a pipe” (this mixed element springing at once from discourse and the image, whose ambiguous being the verbal and visual play of the calligram wants to evoke” (Foucault).

In this third function there is an ambiguity. This lies in the identity of the [a pipe] because it is not understood what it refers to because of the ambiguous calligram. The above is a quote on the third function of it from Foucault, and he even says that here lies an ambiguity.

2) The second calligram is with the French version of Magritte’s painting (the second version) where instead of [This is not a pipe], [Ceci n’est pas une pipe] is stated across the surrealist painting under the representation of the pipe. Here lies a different calligram and a somewhat similar ambiguity. The calligram is in the [une] and the u is the part of the pipe where tobacco is inserted to smoke and the other parts of the pipe is the ne and the word [pipe].

Foucault goes on into talking about Klee and Kandinsky and a lot of other things, but I have less interest in that and more in the painting, its functions, its ambiguities, the calligram(s), and the aesthetic value it possesses.

This painting contains astronomical aesthetic value for the following reasons: the three functions of the [this], the utter confusion at first sight of this painting, and the ambiguities from the calligram in each version of the painting. Hegel had 3 ways (as I have continuously affirmed as my standards for aesthetic value) to recognize aesthetic value and beauty in artistic pieces (and media now I think): 1) coming close to imitation of nature, 2) so beautiful you are emotionally moved, or 3) it is so confusing that it sucks you in and does not allow you to think otherwise because you want so much to comprehend. This surrealist painting causes utter confusion in the viewers of the painting because the desire to comprehend the functions of the statement and the desire to comprehend the ambiguities in the calligram(s). Once one understands 2 of the simple functions the [this] of the painting, the third function will create new confusion because whether in the French version the calligram is in the [une] or in the English version where the calligram is in the [pipe], there is renewed confusion as to what the third function means and aims to claim. Foucault even said himself in the writing that the calligram ‘evokes ambiguous being’ of the calligram. It is because of this large amount of things to take into account about Treachery of Images that this painting has aesthetic value by Hegel’s third qualification because it sucks one in in that the person desires to comprehend so much.

Through my reading about Magritte and into Foucault’s analysis of the painting I am only further sucked in than I was when I first saw it. I have made some progress in comprehension but I am right back where I started. This somewhat is what artists aiming for this kind of aesthetic value try to achieve.

Thanks for the support. I shall write more in the coming and soon weeks about phenomenology, existentialism, ethics, some older modern and 19th century philosophy, and more about epistemic justification.

If I misconstrued anything about Magritte’s painting or Foucault’s analysis of the unraveled calligram, please let me know on twitter (cosmosz), by email (cosmosuniversez@yahoo.com) or comment below.

Shay Carl’s Epicurean Tendencies

12 Jan

I recently wrote a writing and posted it here about Epicurus’ plan for prudence to allow for a happy life and a pleasant life. If you want to learn about his Letter to Menoeceus go to the Epicurus category on the side and the other writing you will  find there besides this one is that one.

The background to this website is Epicurus. His philosophy was that happiness is a choice. He went into great detail in explaining prudence, living blessedly, and self sufficiency as the processes to get to the happy life, but essentially, he viewed the coveted happy life as one that is achievable by any person (except for a few exceptions).

The header of this website I have is a painting by Darryn James Rae. It is not just a pretty picture it means something. Shay Carl, a popular vlogger on Youtube has 4 kids and a wife. Having found the below picture on the internet and having gotten a picture of his family in Rae’s beautiful impression he has on art.

This picture means something. Many blue balls around represent the people, you know them, the people who are all unhappy with everything that is going on in any circumstance. The yellow ball in the middle is that one person that that person choice for him/herself to be that is happy and chooses to be happy in most circumstances. This means if things aren’t going so well, or regardless of how well they are going at all (as long as horribly crucial crises aren’t going on) this person chooses to be happy. This positive attitude is one way to yield happiness. If you choose to smile and choose to have a positive attitude you will view aspects of your life positively and will be more happy as a result. Shay Carl, in his vlogs, saw this internet picture and asked Darryn James Rae to use his own art impression and signature to paint a wide array of blue unhappy people represented as balls, and one large yellow ball representing the one having chosen happiness.

The above is Darryn James Rae’s painting Shay Carl asked for. It hangs framed in Shay Carl’s office now. This is why Epicurus is my background and the above is my header. I think Shay Carl’s idea of happiness is a choice corresponds and coheres with Epicruean prudence and what it yields. Here is Rae’s website with many other great paintings. This and other of his paintings will go on my Aesthetic Thought page: http://www.raeart.page.tl/

The above is where Shay reveals his intentions for the painting and his Epicurean philosophy behind it, although he never mentions Epicurus.

The above, Shay tells some breathing exercises to feel better, and he gets the painting from Rae

The above he hangs up the painting and more.

The above is from his iPhone channel where he names the blue ball and the lower left of the painting Grumpy Gus.

The question now is, is happiness really a choice? Yes. For most people. If you do not have mental psychological disorders, happiness is a choice. If some horrible crises, deaths, losses or other horrible things happen to you , obviously you can’t just breath and be the yellow ball. These and other cases are the exception to happiness being a choice.

Besides all of these obvious exceptions, you can go from a pessimistic to an optimistic attitude quite quickly.

G.W.F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 90-91

9 Jan

I understand it has been awhile since I have published anything here. I say this all the time when transitioning into new material to discuss, so I just experienced déjà vu. Or is it jamais vu? I think it’s déjà vu. I hope you all have had a great Christmas and New Years and got lots of kickass stuff from your loved ones, as well has you giving kickass stuff to them. I also hope you got at least a little schwasted (slang word, sorry, it is a combination of shitfaced and wasted). I also have more posts beyond this one. When I told u I would deliver another post before Christmas about Epicurean prudence my computer succumbed to viruses, key loggers, spyware, and malware and I had to wipe the hard drive and recover. I have been on a 3 week break from school and have had no internet as a result because I only have internet at school. That post will really, for sure, come now.

Moving on, I have acquired numerous books this break and have acquired G.W.F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. I have been reading each one and contemplating upon it. Starting with number 90 in the book, I would like to begin discussing each proposition of the book on this blog.

The test begins with A. Consciousness, 1. Sense Certainty: Beginning with 90, Hegel begins by saying that what we see at first is for sure true knowledge of reality and that we should not try to grasp what we see. Hegel is basically saying that the observed object seen is immediate knowledge of what is. What is phenomenologically observed is what is. This is true, in my opinion, because due to metaphysical modal realism what is seen is what is.  Modal realism being the metaphysical belief that all things observed at any time t is real in one way, world, or another, a dream for instance, is real if it can possibly appear to you. Modal realism (by David Lewis specifically) combats the epistemological objection that something seen is not metaphysically real in existence. Object= Immediate knowledge. Object seen= What is.

Hegel continues in the same proposition by saying that the object seen should be not grasped, altered, or comprehended: “Our approach to the object must be immediate and receptive” (Hegel). We should not add anything to the object as it appears to us. It is understood by Hegel that the object should only be taken in and registered without altering it or adding anything to it, but it can be argued whether or not grasping and comprehending the object actually alters the object or adds to it. I agree with Hegel that all objects should not be comprehended, grasped, altered, or added to. A person coming to the world not having seen anything before with no record of protocol statements will find any object (and note that the object is the word Hegel uses to refer to what we see) odd and in need of understanding of interpretation. This new person will jump to grasping or comprehending the newly seen objects because confusing things immediately call for grasping and comprehension. This grasping and comprehension of odd objects by a recordless subject can lead to distortion of the object seen, therefore I agree with Hegel that in any observation (specifically of phenomenological investigation) should not only  be without additions and alterations but without grasping or comprehension.  People having seen certain objects all their life may or may not look to grasping or comprehension in a later stage of life, but when they first saw these objects they did use grasping and comprehension and their life long perception is distorted and damaged. Therefore, due to all of this, no grasping or comprehension should ever be done to the object because at some point this will result in alterations and additions distorting the said object.

This knowledge of immediate sense certainty is described further in 91. Sense certainty is stated by Hegel as a ‘rich’ knowledge because of its ‘concrete content’. This sense certainty is rich in its expanses. Hegel also describes sense certainty to be knowledge  that is truest because it is pure when it is not grasped or comprehended and nothing is removed from the object as it is immediately presented to us. At the same time sense certainty is a poor, empty, and abstract truth. Hegel claims that it is poor and abstract because all it claims is that it is. It simply has an ontological claim to truth. Furthermore, Hegel describes consciousness, or one having consciousness, as representing one as another ‘I’ or ‘this’. The object is also simply another ‘this’. Sense certainty (or a subject ‘I’ being certain of an object ‘this’) occurs just because of how the object appears to us with immediate knowledge. Sense certainty does not come about, according to Hegel, by the ‘I’ or the ‘this’ having importance over one another. For example, it may be thought that the ‘this’ becomes known by the ‘I’ having control over the object field perceived.  A solipsist would believe that the ‘I’ has importance over the object and the object has a certain level of potentiality to be known or certain about. “ I, this particular I, am certain of this particular thing, not because I, qua consciousness, in knowing it have developed myself or thought about it in various ways; and also not because the thing of which I am certain, in virtue of a host of distinct qualities, would be in its owns elf a rich complex of connections, or related in various ways to other things. Neither of these has anything to do with the truth of sense certainty: here neither I nor the thing has the significance of a complex process of mediation; the ‘I’ does not have the significance  of a manifold imagining or thinking; nor does the ‘thing’ signify  something that has a host of qualities….” (Hegel). He continues to state that sense certainty is true because of how immediate knowledge in the object seen just simply is.  Consciousness of sense certainty just registers and does no work beyond that.

One thing I think can be argued in 91 is whether or not the ‘I’ of the subject and the ‘this’ of the object take importance over one another (is the ‘I’ equal to the ‘this’), and whether or not consciousness in sense certainty does any work beyond just recognizing ontological existence and truth in the object. Thinking that the ‘I’ is more significant than any ‘this’ would cause the belief that the certain ‘I’ grasps and comprehends the object perceived therefore distorting the object. An ‘I’ being superior to other subjects and objects puts reliance on the view of that ‘I’.  If one is attempting to observe things phenomenologically (I shall explain more about phenomenology soon) a polarization or bias cannot be put on the evaluation of observations. Hegel’s work here creates the idea that any observation should understand that all things are level with one another and that it all is equal in truth. It is all difficult to explain in this proposition,  as it is to a degree difficult to understand in the first place. Reading it gives you an idea how to phenomenologically investigate and evaluate observations.

Essentially 91 explains that all observations should be free of all bias, polarization, alterations, additions and all other distortion. It should simply be understood during phenomenological investigation and observation that this immediate knowledge of sense certainty just is. Another way to describe immediate knowledge of sense certainty is that it has no content, just the ontological statement of truth when it immediately appears to the subject.

I could continue discussing these matters of 90 and 91 in the Phenomenology of Spirit because of how it is difficult to explain and even understand. I urge you (especially if you are a lover of philosophy and a philosopher yourself) to read this book. To really understand what Hegel is saying about consciousness and sense knowledge when understood phenomenologically.

I will talk more about this epistemological theory of perception called phenomenology including philosophers of the subject like Husserl, Nietzsche, and Heidegger.

Thanks for the support as always. If I misconstrued something Hegel talked about in 90 or 91 in the Phenomenology of Spirit please let me know by Twitter (cosmosZ), by commenting below, or by email at cosmosuniversez@yahoo.com

 

Epicurean Prudence for the Pleasant and Happy Life

9 Jan

When viewing philosophy of Epicurus happiness will usually come to mind as his overall belief. Before actually reading philosophy of Epicurus I assumed that advocating happiness would mean advocating doing whatever one wants at any time. Epicurean philosophy of happiness is necessary complication of a seemingly simple thing. Certain beliefs must be held, happiness must be held as a high priority, and a specific process must be followed to truly be happy. Epicurus in Letter to Menoeceus discusses the place of happiness in the status of a person’s life, what one must believe in achieving a happy pleasant life, and the process in which one must go through in keeping a life happy and pleasant.

The Epicurean idea of happiness is all based on Epicurus’ belief that the soul should be healthy, and that anything done to make the soul healthy should be continued. The study of philosophy is one of those things. Based on this soul health, it is inferred as a characteristic view of the Epicureans that happiness is everything to want and achieve. Happiness is the goal. In the Letter to Menoeceus Epicurus argues overall a theory of happiness arrived at by prudence. Prudence is the system of judgment and grounds that things to avoid and things to choose are evaluated and assessed. This prudence argued by Epicurus is the way to view life so that you may have the most happiness. Prudence having several aspects and granted ideas, Epicurus goes over a few beliefs one should hold going into aspects of prudence.

Epicurus states that one should believe god to be a ‘blessed undeniable force’. Gods harm bad people and do well to people who do good things. A god or gods is stated by Epicurus to just be something to take into account when looking at actions one executes. Another larger fact Epicurus wrote that should be granted is that people should not fear death. He believed that one someone dies the soul no longer exists. If someone does not exist there can be no feelings of pain or pleasure or other sensory experiences. Death, therefore, is painless and should not be feared. Using this stance to advocate most happiness, Epicurus states that instead of wanting to live as long as possible because of the possibilities of death we should cherish the time there is in life. Having pleasure in the right way and cherishing life reduces any fear of death down to nothing. Epicurus includes the discussion about the gods before going into prudence because it was probably a misconception in Hellenistic Greece that gods are not friends to anyone. The discussion about death was probably because of the fear people had of death. Epicurus’ stance on the gods is correct in concept because good people are rewarded while those who sin the most are not rewarded at all. Epicurus probably felt that discussing these issues was best to clear any fog they would pose for the theory of happiness by prudence. Because of these arguments the reader would then agree that the gods would agree with using prudence and that death was no threat to happiness by prudence. Philosophy of happiness in Epicurus is founded by some basic beliefs about pleasure and other desires. Next, Epicurus began discussing basic beliefs one keeping a prudence theory for happiness should hold (Epicurus did not call his happiness philosophy the prudence theory, I am using those terms because the way the Letter to Menoeceus reads is all propositions building together towards this theory of prudence).

To begin to form a theory of how to achieve and maintain happiness Epicurus discusses desires and their nature. There are natural desires and groundless ones. Natural desires are either necessary or merely natural. A natural belief is necessary if it happens to be a necessary pleasure or if it is a desire that frees the body or soul from trouble. Necessary desires are necessary because of their necessity to be fulfilled to maintain the health of the soul or body. These necessary desires a lot of the time are pleasures. Pleasures are necessary beliefs when there is pain. Distinguishing desires based on whether they are natural or necessary or not already introduces the idea that not all pleasure desires should be fulfilled. Two main pieces of advice are given that are put together to make prudence and how it pushes towards happiness and pleasance.

The first piece of advice Epicurus gives that funnels into the concept of prudence is living blessedly. To live blessedly means to seek out pleasure. Pleasure is “the first innate good” and is the starting point as well as the goal in living blessedly. The overall good in pleasure is to be seen when one lives blessedly. Saying that pleasure is the goal, innate good, and starting point in living blessedly does not mean Epicurus believes every pleasurable desire presented should be fulfilled. Living blessedly is one aspect of prudence being a sorting system of desires and how they are responded to (with pleasure or pain or both). In living blessedly one is to use “comparative measurement and examination of the advantages and disadvantages” in deciding choices and avoidances (in which situation will one choose pleasure and avoid pain, or vice versa). One must not always choose pleasure, only necessary desires of pleasure. In choosing any random pleasure, a small pleasure benefiting you could be responded with unbearable pain. It is because of this pleasures must be chosen carefully. Not all pains should be passed up because it could be in any given situation that for a small or large pain being endured an even larger pleasure will result. In using this ‘sorting system’ of living blessedly the goal is still pleasure of the greatest variety even if some pain is experienced as a result. If one lives blessedly as shown by Epicurus having a happy pleasant life is feasible in most cases however an extra specification is needed in prudence.

The second aspect of prudence making it have this ‘sorting system’ feel to it as well as living blessedly is maintaining self sufficiency. Self sufficiency is Epicurus’ way of further controlling partake of desire in achieving a happy pleasant life. Self sufficiency being maintained ensures that one trying to move towards a happy pleasant life is not cheated out of it because of his or her dependence luxurious pleasures. Epicurus states that the point of self sufficiency is not to say that luxuries must be left out of a happy pleasant life. In any prudence theory pleasure is what is ultimately striven for as it is the point and the goal of living blessedly. One must be self sufficient to be happy and pleasant in life because luxuries will assuredly not always be present. If one is not self sufficient and those luxuries are removed any happiness that was there before is now gone. The main point of requiring a self sufficiency in prudence is that people must be able to live without lavish luxuries to have the happy pleasant life.

I like to think of prudence as a cohesive sorting system because of what putting living blessedly with self sufficiency together makes. Both things together as prudence mostly makes sure that the person seeking a happy pleasant life gets just that by making sure that no unnecessary pleasure or harmful pleasure is allowed to be chosen. This prudence also makes sure that the person is only put through pain for good reasons and not too much pain. To finally define prudence, prudence is the use of discretion. Specifically applied to achieving and maintaining happiness and pleasance, prudence is the use of discretion so that one does not choose excessive pleasure or choose too much pain (especially since the choice of unnecessary or unnatural pleasure can hide negative consequences of excessive pain). Keeping living blessedly and self sufficiency in mind as the contents of prudence, prudence still involves more than the aforesaid statements about the achievement of happy pleasant life.

Epicurus claims another trait to prudence in governing happy pleasant life. Prudence allowing for one to live pleasantly, Epicurus states prudence to generate all other forms of virtue (besides prudence since prudence is already present) including honor, justice, compassion, empathy, and courage. What prudence does in governing and allowing the existence of the happy pleasant life allows it to generate all virtues besides itself. To better understand how this can work I think comparing this to the epistemological analogue in the foundationalist theory of epistemic justification. In this foundationalism a basic foundational belief is held without the need for justifying (e.g. sense data or the analytic) and other propositions needing justifying are built upon the basic foundational belief as this belief helps justify the ones that build upon it. This is similar to prudence and how it allows for a happy pleasant life because prudence having this ability to govern and justify a pleasant life other virtues besides prudence can build upon it because of prudence’s special power so to speak. Thinking about prudence as a whole and what it does, it has the ability to conform to various ideas of what happiness is.

It is debated what happiness is based on two central biases. Some people are convinced that happiness is indulgence in whatever any desire happens to be at any point in time. Objections to this view are stated by Epicurus in his explanation of living blessedly and self sufficiency. This view of happiness cannot be because one holding this view would not be self sufficient. Furthermore, partaking of every pleasure seen at any place and point in time leads to the possibility that great harm will come to the one holding this view. On the other side of this debate some believe and have believed that happiness is serving of those less fortunate and a general assistance of others. This view is based on the many virtues certain people practice (including prudence). Shown in the entire Letter to Menoeceus Epicurus states that the innate good and goal of prudence and its aspects is garnering pleasure. Serving others has its own kind of pleasure but that is a virtuous pleasure not the kind of pleasure Epicurus claims to be the foundation of a happy pleasant life. Considering these two sides of what happiness really is prudence and its aspects (living blessedly and self sufficiency) provide the best definition of happiness.

Prudence is proven to yield happy pleasant life not just because of how it judges and sorts choices and avoidances but because of its definition of happiness. The way prudence defines happiness is by the combination of both sides of the debate of what happiness is. Prudence is able to do this because the happy pleasant life it yields is really a happy one because it is based on a search for pleasure (not at the extremes people who are for pleasure happiness are at) yet at the same time it generates all other virtues. The moderation of the frequency and type of pleasure one can partake in at any time I think is what allows for the pleasant as well as happy life. This specific definition of a happy life that Epicurus discussed in Hellenistic Greece is one that worked then and still works in real life scenarios. When one is in a state of unhappiness it is a good idea to take a look at the schematics of choices and avoidances and make some changes based on prudence.

One really common example of an unhappy person is the person surrounded by extravagantly opulent luxuries yet suffers a state of dissatisfaction. Having the wealth to surround oneself with luxuries, that person will continue to do so because there will never be a state where the person feels there is enough and is satisfied. This occurs because the person partakes of unnecessary sometimes unnatural pleasures all not having a strictly dire consequence itself but all create a problem for this person. The consequence to these unnecessary and unnatural pleasures is a continuous overall dissatisfaction and therefore unhappiness. Not known to the person is the problem of his or her dependence on the luxuries. Gaining more and more luxuries created this dependency because if someone were to take all of these luxuries away the person would not have the ability do without them. The changes that should be made are the gradual removal of these lavish luxuries allowing for a self sufficiency to return. This is one real life scenario that can be solved using prudence to achieve a happily pleasant life.

Another would be the situation of the person keeping an unhealthy relationship with a person that treats him or her badly. The person keeps this unhealthy relationship because he or she does not want to feel the pain of the lost relationship (that has been established over a long period of time) or (possibly and) the person does not believe he or she can be loved by anyone other than the person currently in the unhealthy relationship with. The keeping of this relationship is preventing a completely pleasant happiness in this person because of how its unhealthy characteristics make the person extremely unhappy. What can be done to counteract this unhappiness is the dissolving of that unhealthy relationship. This is a painful event in any scenario even remotely like this one. This painful event of the end of that relationship is justified in that a larger pleasurable event is to follow possibly with a new relationship with someone that treats the person nicely. This is one of those cases in prudence where there must be a painful event for the large pleasurable one.

I have discussed Epicurus’ view of the happy life with prudence simply because it answers any question about a person’s unhappiness and provides a solution as to how to become happy and pleasant again. Furthermore this view allows for there to be virtue in happiness while still keeping pleasure at the top of one’s priorities. Thinking about both opposing views of what happiness is (serving others as happiness versus all pleasure as happiness); both views are incorporated at varied levels in Epicurus’ prudence. Reading Epicurus’ view of happiness influenced me enough that I no longer question the foundation and content of happiness (as I have given some thought on this before ever reading Epicurus). Unless a strongly justified objection is given, this is the belief about happiness and pleasance I shall hold.

Ayer’s Function of Philosophy in Language, Truth, and Logic ( A Metaphilosophy #2)

2 Dec

I am writing a few things here on my free of obligations thursday so that I can get some posts in before I won’t be able to write anything for about a month (I think). This is simply because I have a ton of school things to do for the next 2 weeks and then I will have Christmas break and will have little time.  I will for sure come back to writing by the week of January 10.

I want to talk about an aspect of another section in A.J. Ayer’s Language Truth and Logic. The second section of the book is the Function of Philosophy. I find this interesting because metaphilosophy and finding out what the goal of philosophy is should be held dear by any philosopher. Again showing his rejection for metaphysics Ayer states that the function for philosophy is not to find insight on metaphysical things. Ayer says that the search for a first philosophy is not really the goal. First philosophy is the kind of philosophizing Descartes did in his meditations.

Ayer proclaims philosophy to be a critic. This is for one thing towards scientific propositions where philosophy is used to critique the sciences and make it better. Mostly, he states philosophy to be a critic in that it tells one whether their beliefs are  ‘self consistent’ or not, and that it shows the things we use to find the truth ( or lack thereof) in our propositions. This function of philosophy contributes to science and critiques things one scientifically proposes. Ayer seems to be defending against the idea that science cannot do without philosophy because of induction. He goes on to say that induction cannot be solved, and we should deal with it in science and philosophy is not really needed for this purpose.

Others in the logical positivist era and before it have maintained the idea that science can do without philosophy and simply that philosophy assists philosophy by critiquing it and making it the best it possibly can be. In the beginning of logical positivism, the Vienna Circle (influenced by Mach and Wittgenstein, and including Carnap, Hempel, Schlick and others) wrote the Scientific Conception of the World. “The goal ahead is a unified science. the endeavor is to link and harmonize  the achievements of individual investigators in their various fields of science. From this aim follows the emphasis on collective efforts, and also the emphasis on what can be grasped intersubjectively; from this springs the search for a neutral system of formulae, for a symbolism freed from the slag of historical languages; and also the search for a total system of concepts.” This I quoted from the Scientific Conception of the World. The aim these scientists show to have is to give philosophy a goal to contribute in this unified science with physics, chemistry and all other sciences contributing in any specific theory. Philosophy just seems here to be one of many parts of a collective effort. Philosophy plays a huge part in this collective effort in that its theories can contribute to any kind of discipline or science. Did I mention the members of the Vienna Circle rejected metaphysics too? Its what all the positivists were doing. If your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it too? I am simply joking because of how many people in the logical positivist era who advocated a verification, an a priori epistemology, and the rejection and elimination of all metaphysics and its pseudo-statements. I can understand why they feel the need to remove metaphysics from philosophy because science does some of metaphysics’ roles in the most logical way possible (I am kind of being facetious). A unified science achieved by collective efforts among many sciences and disciplines is one goal philosophy has. This should not involve the rejection of metaphysics however.

Putting science aside, I feel philosophy is not simply an additive profession used to critique and assist scientific experimentation and exploration. In mostly non-metaphysical aspects of philosophy, there are roles in philosophy made specifically for the critique and use in science, but an underlying goal or purpose exists under all specialized goals and roles the specific kinds of philosophy has (such as I feel the Vienna Circle refers to the philosophy of science and not really to the rest of philosophy as they may have thought). The huge purpose philosophy seems to me to have is the role in doing what science and experimentation cannot.  Science cannot prove the existence of noumenal beings or transcendent realities but philosophy actually has a chance at doing just that. If one uses the intersection of metaphysics and epistemology along with some ethics (and of course logic as the foundation of understandings) to postulate upon our empirical and un-empirical observations, things can be discovered that science cannot measure up to. This is why I think the unified science by the collective efforts of all disciplines including philosophy is the best combination because science being paired with philosophy can yield great results. Philosophical propositions can be experimented sometimes scientifically and proved out.

I totally advocate the unified science proposed by the Vienna Circle, but instead of eliminating half of the entire body of philosophy, it should be revitalized and used toward science’s benefit. Metaphysics can be beneficial to scientists as can some religion.  Philosophy should be used whenever possible in all disciplines of science.

I have interest in metaphilosophy to help philosophers define and redefine the purpose being driven toward. I want to keep addressing themes in metaphilosophy here every once in awhile to keep thoughts on track. Each philosopher regardless of situation has his or her own course of action to take to complete a philosophical project or work. I have my own so I feel it necessary to keep metaphilosophically addressing philosophy right now, and the philosophy I currently pursue.

What function or goal do you think philosophy should have?

Let me know your answer if you would like to (on Twitter, commenting below, or by email).

I appreciate the support as always.

A.J. Ayer’s Language, Truth, and Logic: Elimination of Metaphysics

30 Nov

I return, once again, yes again, to Mr. Alfred Jules Ayer. I am now interested in his book he wrote in his twenties Language Truth and Logic. Reading it, the first section addresses metaphysics and why it sucks.

What a positivist.

I have two bones to pick with the first section of Ayer’s book, but he goes over more things than I am particularly concerned with. He begins to discredit the metaphysician  by stating that they attempt to get into the transcendent reality (unseen unempirical reality) when we create our propositions by our senses. When we feel we are limited to our 5 senses, postulating about anything other than empirical matters can be something hard to muster. Ayer claims that if one cannot really or worthily postulate about anything unempirical, most metaphysics conducts philosophies of pseudo-statement where nothing is really proclaimed and nothing can be argued for or against because again nothing is really proclaimed. From this discussion of most metaphysics as crappy pseudo-statements Ayer goes on to saying that statements and propositions made in metaphysics and epistemology must have a process of verification. He then goes into aspects of verification ( like application and other things).

Like I said, what a positivist (trying to kill metaphysics and trying to verify statements).

I have said before, I have 2 opinions differing from Ayer. 1) must all propositions be derived from sensory perception?

2)Verification is a lost cause.

In the beginning of the section Elimination of Metaphysics, Ayer stated that if most propositions are derived from sensory perception, transcendent realities cannot be understood or postulated about. Not to say that we have a 6th sense, but there are senses and feelings beyond the 5 senses we all know (sight, sound, smell, touch, sound). The main five tell us things about phenomenal reality, but there are things we have that can lead us to postulations about noumenal reality. When I say noumenal reality, I mean reality we cannot empirically perceive. I hate to exemplify this because I will be called dumb, but one might be a conversation indirectly or directly between a God and man. This is not of th 5 senses. This can note an existence of a God, and a heaven. Another example is God talking to a man and sending him to a very dark place (i.e. Hell) and then bringing him back. These observations are not empirical. This would lead me to question does one have the 5 senses beyond the body and when the soul is relocated? I think not, and it is just that everything is made known to the soul of what is around it. This is all hard to explain because empirically understood people will not understand. A connection between a God and a man, or a relocation to another space, is personally experienced only with the soul present, and cannot be understood to a man who has not experienced it himself.

I have only experienced an indirect conversation with God. In a hard time of problems in my life, and constantly praying to God for answers, my prayers were answered as I immediately understood wholly my situation and what I needed to do from there on out. It is almost as if I had a close experience with God to the point that I cannot explain it to any other than myself. These experiences are examples of what can lead us into inferring a noumenal space not empirically observed by people.

My point is that not all propositions have to be derived from empirical observations. It isn’t like we can chose to observe unempirically a noumenal place or being, but it happens at the will of God and other beings there. I do not mean to reject Ayer’s argument solely on religious inferences, but I mean to reject it by saying that if people have conceived of beings and places unempirical and not phenomenal before, it  can happen again even if its not at our will.

This leads me to verification, the Holy Grail of the logical positivists. Quine and other philosophers have shown the with meaning and other things in verification, it is just not a feasible project for metaphysical and epistemological propositions.  Verification can be done, but only on a personal basis, or a local basis between a few people who have experienced the same things. If verification of statements can only be done on such local or personal bases, there is little point to continuing on the quest for verification. Meaning has been solved, as has justification and criterion of application, and how these are applied has also been solved, but using all of these things in verification is what I understand as a pointless endeavor.

Going back to the noumenal perceptions that I believe people (including myself) to have, if these noumena unempirical perceptions are there mixed with the phenomenal ones, propositions become personal. Once these propositions about the world phenomenal or noumenal become personal, verification is a pointless endeavor.  It cannot be done, and one would be continuously be searching for that last part to verify a proposition.

Where does this leave a person who wants to know things about the world?

Still with a bright future I think (I haven’t even addressed the current foundationalism vs. coherentism, and internalism vs. externalism yet but nonetheless this is a totally different course of action in postulating things about the world). The fact that propositions cannot be verified only means that single propositions cannot be verified because of personal aspects with noumenal facts. Various propositions grouped together are what actually can tell one something about the world. Plethoras of propositions put together that while aren’t verified alone, can overlap and tell people something about the phenomenal or noumenal world. Or at least this is what I think, not taking into account any other philosophies.

Let me guess what you’re thinking, “Bullshit”. Did I hit the nail on the head?

Noumenal metaphysics is something totally feasible, just not entirely by empirical observation. Empirical observation is the short cut in all epistemology crossing with metaphysics, and it is also seen as the only way, when really it is one among many.

Thanks for the support. I have not a clue when I shall write again as my college papers are coming closer to their due dates and I will have less time.