A) Foundational debates

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  • Foundational debates in philosophy
    • Socrates (470-399 BC)
      • "The unexamined life is not worth living."
      • The life and teaching of Socrates stand at the foundation of Western Philosophy.
      • He never recorded his thoughts… records came from contemporaries. These accounts are often biased by the authors personal interpretations.
      • Compared himself to a gadfly, who stings the lazy horse that is Athens, into action.
      • He earned many enemies but also concluded that he is wiser than anyone else because, at least he knows he that he knows nothing.
      • Rejects prison or exile, preferring death.
        • If he fears death he would be presuming to know what happens after...
          • He can't know… so it is foolish to fear it.
            • Therefore, he shouldn't avoid acting justly because he's afraid of dying.
      • Refuses to give up philosophizing.
      • The jury found Socrates guilty by a vote of 280 to 221.
    • Plato        (427-347BC)
      • Born into one of the most prominent families in Athens.
      • As a youth, he was drawn to the enigmatic figure of Socrates.
        • He was drawn to his ability to reduce the most pompous and self-aristocrats to a state of bewilderment.
          • He became one of Socrates' students.
      • Plato believed that 'knowledge' is reserved for our understanding of eternal realities.
        • Because… the forms alone do not change.
          • Therefore…they can offer certainty.
      • He believed that we could never have 'true knowledge' about the world.
        • Because… ordinary things that are known through the senses are always changing.
          • Therefore…what we say about them now may not remain true forever. It is always possible for a new piece of information/ experience to come along and change our opinion.
      • Plato's Theory of Forms
        • First introduced in the Phaedo.
        • Maintainsthat there are two distinct levels of reality.
        • The Visible World of sights and sounds that we inhibit.
        • The Intelligible World of forms which stands above the visible world and gives it meaning.
        • Envisions an entire world of forms, a world that exists outside time/space- a world where beauty, courage, justice etc. could exist untarnished by the changes and imperfectionsof the visible world.
        • According to Plato, the forms are related to each other in a hierarchy, with the form of the good at the top, which gives all the other forms their value.
          • However… goodness is something we have never seen perfectly exemplified. We recognise it because we understand how it corresponds to our intuitive knowledge of the form of good.
      • Argument from opposites
        • The theory of recollection
          • 1. States that learning is essentially an act of recollecting things we knew before we were born but… then forgot.
          • 2. 'True knowledge' according to Plato, is knowledge of eternal, unchanging forms that underlie perceptible reality.
            • For example, we are able to perceive that 2 sticks are equal in length BUT unequal in width because… we have an innate understanding of the form of equality.
          • 3. Since we can grasp this 'form of equality', even though we never encounter it in experience, our grasping of it must be a recollection of immortal knowledge we had and then forgot prior to birth.
          • 4. This argument implies that… *The soul must have existed prior to birth.        *This in turn implies that the souls life extends that of the bodies.
        • Argument from affinity
          • 1. This argument distinguishes between…     *a) those things that are immaterial, invisible and immortal.     and             *b) those that are material. visible and perishable.
          • 2. The soul belongs to a) and the body to b)
          • 3. The  soul then, is immortal , although this immortality may take many different forms.
          • 4. A soul that is not properly detached from the body will become a ghost that will long to return to the flesh.
        • The theory of forms
          • 1. A form, unlike qualities in this world, is perfectly itself and doesn't admit to its opposite.
            • For example, the form of Beauty doesn't possess any ugliness at all.
              • In contrast, a beautiful girl may be beautiful compared to other girls, but she wouldn't seem beautiful compared to a God.
                • Therefore… she isn't perfectly beautiful.
          • 2. The form of Beauty however, is always and absolutely beautiful.
          • 3. The soul is what animates us:      *we are alive because we have a soul.   *that concept suggests that the soul is intimately connected to the form of life...
          • 4. Since the form of life doesn't in any way include its opposite- death- the soul cannot in any way be tainted by death.
          • 5. Plato concludes that the soul therefore must be immortal.
        • 1. Bases the argument on the observation that everything comes to be out of its opposite.
          • For example, a tall man can become tall only if he was short previously.
        • 2. Life and death are opposites, so we can reason analogously that, just as the living become dead, so must the dead become living.
        • 3. Life and death are in a perpetual cycle such that death cannot be a permanent end- the soul is eternal.
      • Plato's Analogies
        • The Cave
          • It is used/ related to Plato's theory of forms.
          • Fictional dialogue between Socrates and Plato's brother Glaucon.
          • Plato asserts that 'forms' or 'ideas' and not the 'material world of change' known to us through the sensations, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.
          • Used to illustrate "our nature in its education and want of education" in the Republic.
          • Only knowledge of the forms constitutes 'true knowledge'.
            • The philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from a cave and comes to realize that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.
              • Our world= inaccurate and corrupt.
        • The Charioteer
          • The charioteer represents intellect, reason and the part of the soul that must guide us to the truth.
            • The white horse represents rational/ moral impulses or the positive part of passionate nature.
            • The black horse represents the souls irrational passions, appetites or concupiscent nature.
          • A charioteer is driving a chariot pulled by two horses:
            • One horse is white and long-necked, well behaved and runs without a whip.
            • The other horse is black and short-necked, badly bred and troublesome.
          • The charioteer directs the entire chariot/ soul, trying to stop the horses from going different ways, and to proceed towards enlightenment.
        • The Ship of State
          • It likens the government of a city-state to the command of a naval-vessel.
            • Ultimately, Plato argues that the only men fit to be captain of the ship are the philosopher Kings- benevolent men with absolute power who have access to the form of good.
          • Metaphor put forward by Plato in the Republic.
        • The Ring of Gyges
          • A mythical, magical artifact mentioned in the Republic.
          • The Republic discusses whether a typical person would be moral if they did not have to fear the consequences of their actions.
          • Granted its owner the power to become invisible at will.
          • Puts the tale in the mouth of Glaucon, who uses it to make the point that...
            • No man is so virtuous that he could resist the temptation of being able to steal at will by the ring's power of invisibility.
        • The Divided Line
        • Socrates' discussion with Meno: The Slaveboy
    • Aristotle       (384-347BC)
      • Father was a doctor at the court of Macedon, grandfather of Alexander the Great.
      • Studied at Plato's academy, but left in 347, the year Plato died.
        • Some have speculated that he felt snubbed that Plato didn't choose him as his successor
      • Summoned to be the personal tutor of the young Alexander the Great
      • Son of a doctor, so brought up to pursue a medical career.
        • His writings on biology show a sharp understanding of anatomy.
          • Much more empirically orientated than Plato.
      • Rejects the idea that we can only make sense of the world by appealing to invisible entities beyond it.
      • Aristotle's rejection of Plato's Theory of Forms
        • He provides detailed arguments against many of Plato's doctrines in almost all of his major works.
          • Focusing inparticular on the Theory of Forms
        • In Aristotle's view, the Theory of Forms is essentially an assertion of the superiority of universals over particulars.
        • Plato argues that particular instances of, say, beauty or justice exist only because they participate in the universal Form of Beauty or Justice.
        • Aristotle argues that universal concepts of beauty and justice derive from the instances of beauty and justice in this world.
          • We only arrive at a conception of beauty by observing particular instances of beauty , and the universal concept of beauty has no existence beyond this conception that we build from particular instances.
      • Aristotle: The Archer
        • The activity of reasoning is what makes you human.
      • Hierarchy of the soul
        • Aristotle  believed that there was a hierarchy of types of souls:
          • 1. Plants-  have a vegetative type of soul with powers of nutrition, growth e.t.c
            • 2. Animals- have a soul with the capacity for appetite and so they have feelings and desires.
              • 3. Humans- have a soul with the power of reason. The soul gives people the ability to develop intellects and ethical characters.
        • Aristotle considered that by investigating these powers and that to which they are aimed, we would have an insight into human nature.
      • The Four Causes
        • Unlike Plato, Aristotle embraced the visible world of change & motion and sought all his life to describe the principles which bring about change and motion.
          • He therefore became the first major thinker to base his thought and science entirely on the idea that everything that moves or changes must be caused to move or change by some other thing.
        • 1. The Material Cause- The elements or material from which a thing comes into being.
        • 3. The Efficient Cause- The means or agency by which a thing comes into existence.
        • 2. The Formal Cause- The pattern, model or structure upon which a thing is made.
        • 4. The Final Cause- The goal or telos of a thing, the part it plays in the wor
      • Aristotle- Strengths
        • The Four Causes can be readily applied to things that exist within the world as a way of explaining them.
        • Aristotle's theory can be defended because it is derived from reflection on his studies of the natural world. This could be seen as a strength of Aristotle's 4 causes compared with Pato's theory of forms, which are not observable in the physical w
      • Aristotle- Criticisms
        • The causal relationship between the Prime mover and the world is unclear.
        • It is difficult to see how reason could exist post mortem is the body and soul no longer exist.
        • Perhaps some things don't happen for a reason and simply happen by chance?
        • Aristotle states that only humans have the faculty of reason. However, many have argued that animals also have the ability to reason.
        • Aristotle criticises Plato for having no concrete evidence to backup his theories.
          • Aristotle however, has no concrete evidence that the material world is the souce of knowledge.
            • Some might claim that religion and faith are the source of truth.
    • Metaphysics
      • Involves a study of the universal principles of being- the abstract qualities of existence itself.
        • It is the examination of the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter.
      • Plato's Mataphysics
        • 1. Material objects are changeable and not in themselves; rather, they correspond to an idea, eternal and immutable form by a common name, and this form can be perceived only by the intellect.
        • 2. A thing that is perceived to be beautiful in this world is in fact an imperfect manifestation of the form of beauty.
        • 3. Aristotle thought Plato's ideas were poetic but empty language.
      • Aristotle's Metaphysics
        • Unmoved Mover
          • It is the ultimate cause of the universe, containing no matter since it is the very cause of itself.
          • Only such a being could generate eternal circular motion.
          • Aristotle gave the mover the name of God- this figure is unlike most standard conceptions of a divine being.
        • Substance
          • As he argued                in his works of natural philosophy, the only continuos motion must be circular.
          • There are 3 kinds of substance:   1. Changeable and perishable- plants and animals.       2. Changeable and eternal- heavenly bodies.        3. Immutable
          • The law of contradictions essentially asserts that something cannot both 'be' and 'not be' simultaneously.
          • Aristotle argues that both form and matter are substances but… matter is potential and form is actual.
            • The two aren't separate but intertwined and actuality precedes potentiality.
    • Plato and Aristotle: the body and soul
      • Aristotle
        • Criticisms
          • The concept of the unmoved mover- or prime mover- depends upon the argument that everything must have a cause.
            • This argument contradicts itself by claiming that God does exactly what it claims is impossible.
          • Aristotle doesn't adequately explain how God as a thinking force- could be responsible for causing movement.
            • He stresses  that real knowledge begins with the senses but the concept of something being moved just through thought is not what most of us experience.
          • There is no clear evidence that everything does have a final cause.
            • Some philosophers deny that there is any purpose to the universe.
              • Such philosophers claim that the universe ha no intrinsic purpose other than existing.
          • Aristotle dismisses Plato's Realms- saying that there is no clear evidence for them.
            • Instead he appeals to our senses, claiming that it is through them that we experience reality.
              • However, we are still left with the problem that there is no clear evidence that our senses are reliable.
                • A religious person might argue that we know the world through faith and revelation.
        • Influences on Christian thought
          • God is eternal, beyond space and time, immutable.
          • The universe has a purpose.
          • Aristotle's teleology supports Aquinas' Natural Law.
          • God is the final cause- unmoved mover- the Christian cosmological argument for the existence of God.
        • According to Aristotle a living creature is 'substance'
          • Body = matter
          • Soul= form
        • Aristotle thought that the soul is the Form of the body. The soul is simply the sum total of the operation of a human being.
        • Aristotle tries to explain his understanding of the distinction between the body and the soul using the analogy of an axe.
          • If an axe were a living thing then its body would be made of wood and metal.
            • However, it;s soul would be the thing which made it an axe ie. its capacity to chop.
              • If it lost it's ability to chop it would cease to be an axe- it would simply be wood and metal.
        • Also uses the illustration of an eye.
          • If the eye were an animal, sight would have to be its soul.
            • When the eye no longer sees then it is an eye in name only.
        • What is important for Aristotle is the end purpose of something- an axe chops and and eye sees etc.
        • For Aristotle, the body and soul are not 2 separate element but one thing.
          • The body & soul are not, as Plato would have it, 2 distinct entities, but they are different parts or aspects of the same thing.
        • Aristotle doesn't allow for the possibility of the immortality of the soul.
          • The soul is simply the Form of the body, and is not capable of existing without the body.
            • The soul is imply what makes a person a person rather than a lump of meat!
              • Without the body, the soul cannot exist.
                • Untitled
      • Plato
        • Strengths
          • Stephen Evans
            • "…Plato offers a rational argument for the existence of another reality, which can be read off this world, even though not fully; this involves free choice."
          • Magee
            • "The theory that there is another world than this… gives value and meaning to our present world..."
        • Criticisms
          • Brian Davies
            • Not everything has an opposite.
            • Challenges Plato's conception of the self as an un extended thing that does not pass out of existence, because it cannot be split or broken-very weak argument.
          • Bernard Williams
            • Identity comes from body/physical characteristics too and without our bodies we could not be identified.
            • Things we do to the body can affect our mind eg. drugs and the mind appears to be dependent on the brain.
            • If minds and bodies were not linked- surely we wouldn't be able to make things happen in the world (mind linked to brain activity)
        • 4 arguments for the existence of a soul.
        • Dualist- believed that the soul and body are 2 separate substances that interact.
          • The real identity of the person lies with the
        • The body and the mind are often in opposition.
          • The body is interested in sense pleasures eg. eating and sleeping- which often gets in the way of intellectual pursuits.
            • Often the demands of the body take over completely- Plato saw the body as a nuisance and a bind.
              • He believed that the real person is separate and distinct from the body it inhibits.
        • The soul has existed prior to being in the present body and, on death, it will leave the body.
          • The soul is on a higher level of reality than the body, being immortal with understanding of the realm of ideas.
        • The body is concerned with the senses.
          • The soul is concerned with reason.
        • The soul isn't always perfect however, the body corrupts it and drags it down.

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