(continuing from part I) I wish Hume had taken Philosophy 101, with an emphasis on Logic, from Aristotle. That thought crossed my mind many times when reading the Enquiry. Hume should have known that many ideas he had difficulty expressing had been defined Aristotle long before him. He could have saved himself some trouble reinventing the wheel — and saved his reader some time trying … Continue reading An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding II.
Hume and Moral Philosophy Hume speaks of “moral philosophy” in the very beginning of his treatise. I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the main purposes of his writing is to overthrow moral philosophy and religion up till his time, like what Nietzsche attempted a century later. Hume didn’t come right out and attack Christian philosophy, perhaps because blasphemy law was still in effect … Continue reading “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding” by David Hume
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes. –Proverbs 26:4,5 Blaise Pascal, a Catholic theologian, scientist and brilliant thinker, wrote these letters to defend his Jansenist friends against charges of heresy by the Jesuits. I tend to think that Pascal and Kierkegaard are … Continue reading “Provincial Letters” By Blaise Pascal
In a previous post on Dostoevsky, I formulated his argument that belief in God is necessary for morality from an ontological perspective. In this post, I’ll formulate it from an epistemological perspective, following the method of René Descartes. Foundation of Knowledge In his Meditations, Descartes reasoned that ideas formed within our mind have their origin beyond our mind, that is, our ideas are caused by … Continue reading The Brothers Karamazov: III. The Foundation of Morality
Choice vs. Freedom There is an important distinction, which most people overlook, between free choice of the will, commonly known as free will, and freedom. Choice is consequent of multiplicity, but freedom is consequent of power of being or becoming. For example, when a person is present at a crossroad, he has a choice between one way or the other, but he does not necessarily … Continue reading The Brothers Karamazov: II. The Nature of Freedom
The Natural Law The word morality comes from the Latin root mos (meaning “custom or law”), which in turn is a translation of the Greek word ἠθικός (“character or moral nature”). The idea of natural law originated with Plato and the Stoics, and found its full expression in Cicero: The universe is governed by God, who has implanted the immortal soul in man from His … Continue reading The Brothers Karamazov: I. The Nature of Morality
The Meaning of Reality I was taught from a very young age that reality is what exists independently of human perception and knowledge, and we gain knowledge of reality if and only if our ideas correspond to it. Fantasy is that which has no correspondence in reality, and exists only in the mind of an individual — unless he communicates his fantasy, others have no … Continue reading “A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge” by George Berkeley