Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Human Mind

"We consider knowledge always worthwhile and  to be prized, though one kind may be more so, either because  it is more exact or because its object is more dignified and wonderful. On both these grounds we may place highest the study of the soul." (Aristotle, On the Soul, 1:1)

[This is a very short look at the parts of the mind and why they are what they are. Again, any thoughts are welcome!]

So far we've come to a definition of the goal, a method of getting there, and a place to start. Now all that's left to do is to fill in the gaps! That's the difficult part.

Having covered logic, beauty, and wisdom, it seems that the place to begin would be in the mind, since all of these relate essentially to it. Logic is how reason works, wisdom is when it's orderly and correct, and beauty is in something that pleases.

But so far, while not using his method, we've only got a Cartesian start to what the mind is like. I think, however, that we can add some more pieces.

First, and most easily, we can add what we might call the Assent. Since knowledge requires true, justified belief, and if it requires this, it requires not only a part to justify (the thinking part), and to be true (the external reality, which is as yet unknown), but also a part to believe. This seems to be a deep part, related thoroughly to the part which thinks.

We can next add the Memory, since we are able to think about things which have happened to us in our own past, but not in someone else's. This means we each have a memory.

Next we can add the Attention, by which we direct our mind to some things and not others. We don't always think about everything, so we must have something to focus our thoughts. And this can't be the result of the thinking part itself, since we would first have to be thinking about everything to then think ourselves into focus. So something must exist that does this before we are conscious of the thing in our mind.

The final part which we might add would be the Emotions. Just like we don't always think about everything we think, we don't always act on all of our thoughts. So we have to have some kind of filter for what goes out, that determines if we act or do not.

Furthermore, we have to have senses to bring things into our mind from outside, and the imagination to bring them to our attention from within, and also the active energy to make the ideas our emotions drive us to into real actions.

That gives us eight total parts to the mind, and will form a good basis for anything to come involving the mind.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Possible General Outline

For this blog, my intention is basically to systematically go through what might be called my philosophical "system", as well as give special attention to specific matters.

I'm going to talk about the mind/soul first, then physics, cosmology, and metaphysics, as well as ethics, politics, and theology in parallel; a sort of split into three topics on matter, and three on interactions. But I am sure I won't stick to that as a hard & fast rule.

Generally, too, I will be moving from the thing being studied to how we know/study/recognize it, since we see the thing first before we understand it.

I also will give some specific proofs or discussions--"proof" being not always, though sometimes, syllogistic:

  • Proof(s) of the existence of God
  • Proof of theism (God is a person/mind) from deism
  • Proof of Trinitarianism from general theism
  • Proof of the Resurrection (which itself, if accepted, will be shown to constitute proof of Christianity)
  • Proof of the correctness of Orthodoxy
  • Proof of the immateriality of the intellect
  • Proof of the immortality of the intellect
  • Proof of the sufficiency of the five external senses
  • Proof of the sufficiency of the eleven internal "emotions"

  • Discussion on Geocentrism and frame of reference
  • Discussion on Creation and Evolution
  • Discussion on Bohmian and Copenhagen Quantum theories
  • Discussion on abortion & rights
  • Discussion on the Is-Ought problem
  • Discussion on virtue ethics & other theories
  • Discussion on mixed government & other forms
  • Discussion on a-confessional versus secular states
  • Discussion on sexual ethics and public policy

So if you're looking forward to any of this, keep reading, and if you have any thoughts for topics, let me know, and I will be glad to get to them!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Philosophy Begins in Wonder

"This especially is the feeling of a philosopher; wonder. There is no other beginning to philosophy than this."
(Socrates in Plato's Theaetetus, 155d)

[In order to come to know the truth, we have to go beyond ourselves and our biases--we have to be in love with reality as it truly is, and conform ourselves to it, rather than living in fantasy.]

Life is something we experience before we come to understand it--the only place we can begin to understand our experience of life is in that experience itself.

Wonder is a feeling caused by coming to newly understand something beautiful. Wonder is a subset of appreciation, which is of beautiful things generally. Because it involves novelty, it is associated with rare or exceptional phenomena.

So if life experience in general is not philosophy, but rather, philosophy is a special sort of coming to understand life experience, then it makes sense that wonder will be the first feeling of this new understanding.

But beauty especially arouses this wonder within us, which shows us the special place of beauty in the pursuit of truth and the good life. Beauty turns our perception from its scattered state among the experience of life in all its variation, and focuses it on the beautiful object.

Beauty is that which is intrinsically pleasant to behold. Because its value is intrinsic, and not based on function, it cannot be used up. Beauty touches the infinite. Appreciation which proportionately cannot be used up is love. Love, too, touches the infinite.

Love allows us to pursue the truth diligently and without obstructions from our own biases. Love for the object as well as a general love for people allows us to overcome pride and inattention, which could otherwise prevent cooperative learning. Love lets us stretch beyond ourselves, to the external reality which is not the self, where the truth is.

And once we get to truth as it is in truth, we can use it for good, to create, sustain, and enjoy life. And that is the ultimate goal--a full, happy, connected life.

Beauty inspires Love; Love seeks Truth; Truth creates Good.

Love is the whole: 
Beauty is the initiative, Truth is the method, and Good is the result.

For a good link on this, read about the uselessness of humans over at BadCatholic's blog!

The Wise Method

"My mouth will speak truth; false lips are an abomination to me"
(Proverbs 8:7)

[When we are looking for general wisdom, we're looking for wisdom about the universe--the "meaning of life". The best way to come to know this for sure is by logic. Thankfully, we all can!]

I'm going after wisdom.

Wisdom is ordering something in one’s reason to its perfection.
(Someone who is wise about something knows how to make it work, fix it, understands its function, etc.--Wisdom is having an idea in your mind of how a thing would be if it were complete/mature.)
Its perfection also requires the origin of the thing's existence.
(The thing can't be perfect unless it exists, and things both natural, like seeds, and human, like medicine, have things they will naturally produce if uninhibited, based on what they are when they are made; a tree in the one case, and a healthy person in the other.)
Thus wisdom is ordering something in one’s reason to its origin and perfection.

Wisdom without particular qualification is ordering everything universally in one’s reason to its origin and perfection, rather than some particular thing.
(If someone is called "wise", and not wise about something specific, it means they are in general.)
Knowledge is ordering something in one’s reason to truth.
(If you know something, it means your idea matches reality.)
Thus wisdom without particular qualification is knowledge of the origin and perfection of everything universally.

Thus I am going to seek knowledge of the origin and perfection of everything universally.
(Well, that's a bit more ambitious than I'll manage, but trying for it is the fun part. Only God is truly wise in this sense.)

Knowledge is ordering something in one’s reason to truth, as distinguished from falsity.
Logic is the method of distinguishing truth from falsity in one’s reason.
Thus logic is the method of knowledge.

If one has the faculty of reason, one can use logic.
Every human has the faculty of reason.
Thus every human can use logic.

I will try my best to do so.

But for now, a comic!