Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Connection 6 Reflection 6

Reflection #6

My last philosophy reflection will be about the class as a whole. I started this course with the thought that I would learn a few things about philosophy and have some news insights about everyday topics. However, I am now leaving this class feeling as if I have a completely different mindset. I do admit thinking about how much this class has changed me is a bit scary, but the changes have been for the better. This class has allowed for me to think intelligently about my religion and listen to others who disagree with it. Being able to hear different perspectives in a safe space gave me the opportunity to make my religion be able to fit and remain true with who I am as a person. I still believe in God through the cosmological argument that there must have been a first cause, but after the discussion of fate vs free will I now contemplate who or what God really is and what their intentions are. My new thoughts do not necessarily align with my religion, but this class has taught me to be accept that it is okay to question what you believe in and it does not mean you don’t believe anymore. I am a result of all of my life experiences and that makes me unique to everyone’s thought processes. Throughout this class I have taken pleasure in finding philosophers that I completely agree with such as Heraclitus because it helps solidify my thinking and positions about topics such as the necessity for “bad things”. I also took pleasure in learning about interesting philosophers such as Berkeley. Although I don’t necessarily believe that we only exist in God’s mind, I do think it’s important to consider someone else’s philosophy because it allows for creative thinking and a spiral of “what if’s”. I will forever be grateful for how this class has challenged my thinking and made me more open to letting different thoughts influence my own.

Connection #6

With my thoughts about free will aside, through existentialism one has absolute freedom in the outcome of their life. I struggle with making the decision of wanting to become a doctor or an environmentalist and I often think I will chose one and it will be the wrong choice. But in reality there is not a right choice or a correct answer to my decision. Whatever I chose will be the answer and I will live my life that way. Although, there is another part of me that wants to believe in essentialism. When I was younger I thought that since God created everyone and he was all knowing that our lives had already been planned out with a purpose. I had the hope that I would just continue through school without any concrete idea of where I wanted to end up because God would take care of that worry. That made a lot of sense to me at the time. If my life is planned out already by God, then I didn’t see any use in worrying about what my future will be like. I still struggle with what my future beholds because I believe in determinism and existentialism. The two concepts are fairly different and conflicted, but I still think both are possibilities. In one thought my life is already determined and there is no need to worry about whether or not I make the right decisions because God has already made those choices for me. On the other hand, life is meaningless and it is up to me to give my own life meaning. There are no right or wrong answers because there isn’t a right answer until I make that choice about my life. Either way, both ideas are equally terrifying. I am either just a puppet in my own life or I have complete freedom over every choice I make.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Connection 5 Reflection 5

Reflection #5

I think it is a very cool twist in the plot to have Sophie and Alberto be figures of Albert’s imagination, but there is one thing that does not make much sense to me. Alberto and Sophie are hoping to save themselves from being trapped in the story by manipulating the plot before Albert has thought of it. To me this is confusing because if Albert isn’t focused on the characters, then how are they able to interact with each other and plan their escape? It does not make sense that the characters are able to act outside of the plot that Albert wrote. Sophie and Alberto should not even be able to think of such a plan to seek independence because their thoughts are made by Albert. If the lives of Sophie and Alberto are truly figments of Albert’s imagination, then Albert must be making the characters seek an alternative fate. These different levels of consciousness in the novel clash and make me wonder if Albert really has complete control over their lives. This idea made me compare Albert to God. Maybe Albert does control the lives and fate of the characters, but Alberto and Sophie are still left with a bit a free will. This would make sense in the context of the story, but I am still convinced from the Hank Green video that humans are not capable of having free will. The more I think about it, the more I realize that not only is this novel teaching the reader about philosophy, but it also challenges the thought of perception and free will that each individual may have.

Connection #5

After watching the Crash Course video on Utilitarianism, I immediately thought of the death penalty. While I do agree that saving the most people in a given situation is probably the better choice, I still wonder about the person or people that had to lose their lives for that to happen. Does the sacrifice of some justify for the saving of the majority? Growing up I was taught that no person’s life should be worth more than another’s. This was mainly taught to me in the context of slavery. A person can not be owned by someone else because their life is worth just as much as the other person’s life. With social status aside, we are all equals because we are all human. Now that I am older I apply this concept to all living beings. I don’t think my life is worth more than even the ants that make their way into my house in the summertime. In my eyes valuing your life over another’s allows for heinous actions such as killing to be justified. This is why I strongly disagree with the justification of the death penalty. While I do understand the utilitarian thought of killing one person to potentially save the lives of many others they could harm, I don't agree with the taking their life. We, the spectators, are not worth anymore than the person who committed the crime. Yes, that person has done terrible things and they probably are a terrible person, but that does not constitute a right to kill them. I think the utilitarian philosophy can still be applied by letting that person have their life waste away in misery behind bars. That way the majority are being saved, but not at the cost of another’s life.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Connection 4 Reflection 4

Reflection #4

The Bjerkely chapter has really messed with my mind. The fact that this entire time I have been reading the book that Albert Knag wrote for Hilde is uncomfortable. It remind me of the allegory of the cave. I thought the reality was Sophie and her teacher Alberto Knag and now it has been revealed that the real world is really that of Hilde and her father. It feels as if Sophie’s world (the shadows) is what is actually real and I am having a hard time grasping the fact that it is all a story. I also agree with the relevance of this chapter being right after the Berkeley chapter (someone said that in class). Berkeley believed that “To be is to be perceived” in other words, one can not exist if they are not perceived by someone else. Sophie and her world exists because she is being perceived by Hilde and her father. Hilde and her father exist because they are being perceived by the class as we read the book. If this idea of perception is followed further then one begins to think: who’s perceiving me? Berkeley says that the greater perceiver is God to make up for the fact that one still exists even when they are alone. The part of his odd logic that freaks me out, however, is the fact that we (humans) could be just a story though of by God. The next frame outside of that is God is being perceived by something even greater. Is that even possible? And if so, then when does the perception end? Most importantly, what can we consider actual reality if everything is merely a perception?

Connection #4

The philosophy presented by Hume stuck made me think this most in the reading. Hume believed that we can not be sure of the laws of nature. At first, I thought Hume was ridiculous for saying that, but after more consideration I could understand more what he was getting at. My initial opposition to Hume’s claim was that through the scientific method and diligently carried out experiments, humans can identify the laws of nature and be sure of them. However, this thought changed when I was reminded that correlation does not equal causation. The example given in the book was: just because a rock drops to the ground when you let it go does not mean it must do that. I applied this to what I am learning in my astronomy class. The creation of the moon is said to have happened because the Earth slammed together with another planet and the debris of the collision is what coalesced to create the moon. While this idea is highly probable through intensive scientific studies, humans can not actually go back in time and prove that it is actually what happened. It’s just a theory. There is just so much in our world that requires explanation to make sense. We try our best to come up with the best reasoning to the explanations, but after reading the chapter about David Hume I am starting to think that they can’t truly be proved. Humans used to think that the world was flat, and that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Mankind’s beliefs about outer space and the laws of our planet may be educated, but there is a possibility that they aren’t completely correct.

Connection 3 Reflection 3

Reflection #3

As of now in the book the life of Sophie is getting stranger and stranger and it’s really confusing. It’s really odd how close the names of Alberto Knox and Albert Knag are so close together and how Alberto keeps calling Sophie by the name Hilde. I don’t think it is coincidental at all either. My thoughts are that Alberto is really Albert and Sophie is actually Hilde, but trying to make sense of it with the evidence in the book is very confusing. If Alberto and Sophie are actually father and daughter then how are they living two lives? I’ve considered the possibility that Alberto and Sophie are living in a world that is parallel to Albert and Hilde and that is how they can all exist at the same time is similar yet different lives. This idea could also make more sense for how Alberto was able to give Sophie a philosophy lesson in ancient Greece with Socrates. Is time travel possible if there is a possibility of accessing parallel universes? I also feel that it is probable that Sophie’s father could be Alberto because they are both living somewhere far off and are not actively in the lives of Sophie and Hilde. Another confusing part of the novel for me is the role of Sophie’s mother. Although it seems as she is clueless to what is going on with her daughter when she accuses her of using drugs because of her new thought process, her mother still seems as though she is not completely involved in her daughter's life. It’s strange that her mother doesn’t want to meet who her daughter is meeting with almost daily. For a mother that seems to care about her daughter she is very lax about her philosophy lessons. This is why I also think her mother is somehow apart of all of the oddness going on in Sophie’s life.

Connection #3

The chapter about Spinoza is what has intrigued me the most lately. Alberto talks about how Spinoza believed that “nature is with God” and how “God is the world”. This was a moment for me when I had to put the book down for a moment and think further about this new idea. Can God be an entity that is all around us rather than a single “person” or object? During class we often discuss if God is actually real. During one of the discussions we watched a crash course video that touched what God looks like. I believe some of the options were a turtle or even a rock and while these idea were funny, it made me think of the endless possibilities of what God could actually be. After reading that God is the world it made me consider that rather than taking a human form or even a rock what if God is simply the world around us. He could be so powerful that he is the beautiful world we all live in. This idea also lead me to think about life after death. If God could be the world then maybe when we die and our bodies decompose we simply become one with the earth and with God. All of these new ideas were slightly overwhelming and I still continue to thoughts during my nightly showers, but what’s really amazing is the possibility of the unknown are truly endless.

Connection 2 Reflection 2

Reflection #2

At this point in the novel things are beginning to pick up and the plot outside of the philosophy lessons is almost as intriguing as the new knowledge Sophie receives. The postcards that Sophie is getting from Hilde’s father is really strange and it makes me wonder if she is actually somehow tied to their lives. Later in the chapter, Sophie reads her lesson from Alberto and he describes to her the philosopher Plotinus. Sophie learned that Plotinus believed in an idea of two poles. One pole being called the One or God, which by his definition was the presence of all light and the other pole was the absence of that light. The idea is the closer something is to the light the the closer it is to God. Plotinus also believed that the our soul is what is closest to God and that earth, stone, and water are the things that are the furthest. However, this made me wonder why would God create something such as earth or water that is so far away from his glory? If the soul is the closest thing humans posses on Plotinus’s light spectrum, then why isn't the world just some ghostly pot of souls? It would make more sense for the creator to want his creations to be close to him as possible. After considering this idea, there truly does not seem to be a point in the creation of the human body. Our souls are the most pure and immortal thing we humans have. Why let an aging sack of organs get in the way of the light?

Connection #2

After reading about the Epicureans way of living I thought how interesting it seemed to me and how I could see the application of the philosophy in my own life. The idea that “the highest good is pleasure” and “the greatest evil is pain” really made sense to me. Life will end sooner than later and the reality is I could die tomorrow. I would rather have lived my life seeking pleasures and doing what makes me happy, than having lived a life of pain doing what I felt was necessary for a better tomorrow. The reality is tomorrow is not guaranteed and even if we do live to see tomorrow it may be a life filled with suffering. I often find myself living my life this way when I choose to indulge in eating an entire sleeve of oreos rather than having an apple for a late night snack. I weigh the good over the bad. I would much of rather have enjoyed that moment by eating yummy oreos than settling for an apple and feeling like a being responsible to my bod rather than enjoying myself while I still can. Although I wish I could live my life this way all the time there is a problem with constantly being a pleasure seeker. I’m a rather ambitious individual and I don’t think I would get very far in my journey to becoming a doctor if I never did the things I don’t find pleasurable. Epicureanism is a lot like eating breakfast every morning: it sounds like a great idea, but it just doesn’t work out.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Connection 1 Reflection 1

1) Response to Sophie's World

As of now, the novel has greatly peaked my interest. The plot of of Sophie and her life is not that entertaining, but the letters that she receives from her teacher Alberto are rather interesting. In one of the earlier chapters Alberto mentions how adults lose the ability to explore the possibilities of the unknown like children can. It seems as we (humans) age the capacity to explore the realms of our minds with philosophical ideas diminishes. Adults have become too accepting of what society has taught them and this may be why it is so hard to convince others that their epistemology of the world may be flawed. Alberto goes on to describe a natural philosopher named Heraclitus. He is the philosopher that I most closely align my own idea with, thus far, because of his motto of all things flow. His belief of opposites makes the most sense to me and my understanding of the world as well. "Without this constant interplay of opposites the world would cease to exist" (36). Although the world ceasing to exist seems a little extreme, the idea that good cannot exist without bad or peace can't exist without conflict is realistic. What would be the basis for one or the other. Like almost everything in my life I related this concept back to science. Good is the constant in the experiment and bad is the independent variable. One can't exist without the other because the basis of comparison would be lost, making the experiment (or life) pointless.

2) Real World Application

The difficulty of proving one's own ignorance is a topic of high interest for me. After learning about Plato through Sophie's World and watching the video about the allegory of the cave, I began to think of all of the stagnant thinkers and how badly they affect the quality of life for many. In the allegory of the cave, a group of people were unable to change their mindset about just how real the shadows are because that was all they had ever experienced. The anger and reluctance to be enlightened about a possibility that there was something else that created those shadows was not a tangible idea for them because of their inability to alter their psyche. This made me think of those who have trouble changing their mindset about concepts such as oppressed bodies. Specifically I related this to the essay "Can the Subaltern Speak" by Gayatri Spivak. The idea that a group of entitled White men can come together and "give knowledge" to a group that they know nothing about, such as Black women is problematic. Historically the west has been known the invade other cultures and force their own knowledge and ideas onto them. For example, how Africans were stripped from their homeland and brought to the west to be taught that they were less of a person because of their skin tone. That they were stupid because their already established society was nothing like the west's and therefore it was wrong. This is still seen today, when our president makes assertions that he knows what is best for the female body when it comes to birth control. If people could come to the same realization that Socrates had ("One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing") then the world would be a much different place. The awareness that one is ignorant to so many things around them opens up the possibility for a culture of learning and understanding. To me that is what is necessary for a better world. A little understanding and compassion can go a long way.