Fall 2013, Introduction to Philosophy

Tuesday, Thursday, A 2071 10:30-11:45

Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 11:50-2:30 AA 3012


Books ordered:

Republic of Plato, ISBN 0465069347, Basic Books

Augustine, Confessions, ISBN 0199537828, Oxford University Press

Spinoza, Ethics, ISBN 0872201309, Hacket

Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays, ISBN 0872201325, Hacket

Smolin, The Rebirth of Time, ISBN: 9780547511726, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Reading Schedule and Resources

Thursday, September 5

Introduction to the course

Tuesday, September 10

Intro to class and Plato’s Republic, Book I

Resources for Plato:

1. BBC In Our TimesSocrates

2. Philosophy Bites, “Edward Craig – What is Philosophy?” (podcast)

Thursday, September 12

Plato’s Republic, Book 1, continue (concentrate on sections with Thrasymachus) [Kaley R.]; First half, Book II [Chris E.]

Tuesday, September 17

Plato’s Republic, Book II (second half) [Sifth A.]; Book III [Jami A.]

Thursday, September 19

Plato’s Republic, Book IV [M. Benoit]; Book V [Dylan B.]

Tuesday, September 24

Plato’s Republic, Book VI [Joseph B.]; Book VII (first half) [Kristen B.]; Book VII (second half) [ Sifth C.]

Thursday, September 26

Plato’s Republic, Book VIII; Book IX [Hedley C.]; Book X [Samantha C. and Nicholas D.]

Tuesday, October 1

Augustine, Confessions, Books I [Kent D.]; Book II [Ian D.]; Book III [Kassandra D.]

Augustine Resources:

BBC In these TimesNeoplatonism podcast. 

Thursday, October 3

Augustine, Confessions, Books IV-V [Kimberly D.]; Book VI [Laura F.]; Book VII [Sean G.]; Book VIII [Rebecca A.]; Books IX [Meghan F.]

Tuesday, October 8

Augustine, Confessions, Books IX-X [Katelyn F. and Kirsten C.]; Book XI [Rebecca C.]

Thursday, October 10

Augustine, Confessions, Books XII-end [Cambria G. and Jamie A.]

Spinoza, Ethics, Book I (first half) [Michael H. and Matthew V-O]

Spinoza Resources:

1. BBC, In Our TimesSpinoza podcast.

2. “Spinoza,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Tuesday, October 15

No classes, Thanksgiving Break

Thursday, October 17

Spinoza, Ethics, Book I (second half) [Dawn H.]

Tuesday, October 22

class cancelled.

Thursday, October 24

Spinoza, Ethics, Book II [Susan H. and Katie H.]

Spinoza, Ethics, Book III (first half) [Melanie H. and Angelina H.]

Tuesday, October 29

Spinoza, Ethics, Book IIII (second half) [Adrienne H. and Christopher I.]

Thursday, October 31

Spinoza, Ethics, Book IV [Ryan J. and Patrick K.]

Dress as your favorite philosopher, no quiz for you.

Tuesday, November 5

Spinoza, Ethics, Book V [Josh V. and Ethan L.]

Thursday, November 7

Leibniz, “The Ultimate Origin of Things” in Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays [Ryan L. and Rebecca S.]

Take home quiz: Write three pages comparing the view of freedom or God (choose one) in Spinoza and Augustine. (3 pages, single-spaced). Tell me whether or not you agree or disagree with each and why. (10 pts)

Tuesday, November 12

Leibniz, “The Ultimate Origin of Things,” continued, and Principles of Philosophy or Monadology in Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays, pp. 68-74. [Morven M. and Erin M.]

Thursday, November 14

Leibniz, Principles of Philosophy or Monadology in Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays, pp. 75-82. Quiz on Leibniz [Zack Z. and Sherri P.]

Tuesday, November 19

Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics, paragraph numbers 1-10, 12-13, 16-18 [Aaron B. and Matthew R.]

Thursday, November 21

no class.

Tuesday, November 26

Smolin, The Rebirth of Time, Part I [Marissa R., Laura S., and Nicole S.]

Smolin, The Rebirth of Time, pp. 91-139 [Shawn L. and Michelle P.]

Thursday, November 28

Smolin, The Rebirth of Time, pp. 140-end. [Emily P. and Jessica C.]

Take home quiz: Write three pages comparing the view of freedom or God or the soul (choose one) in Leibniz and one other philosopher we have read. (3 pages, single-spaced). Tell me whether or not you agree or disagree with each and why. (10 pts)

Tuesday, December 3

Final Quiz

December 13

Final Exam: Noon to 2pm, A 1043

37 thoughts on “Fall 2013, Introduction to Philosophy

  1. Philosophy 1200 Book 7- The Allegory of the Cave Kristen Burry

    -Socrates wants to prove the effect of education and the lack of it on the human soul
    -How education moves the philosopher through the divided line and brings him the Form of the Good
    -He tells a story about human beings living in an underground cave who have been there since childhood
    -They never see the light of day and can only see what’s in front of them, not able to look to their sides of behind them
    -The only light they see is from a fire which is situated behind them, behind the fire is a partial wall
    -On the wall are statues of people and animals
    -The only reality they have is what they see from the shadows, the people and animal’s shadows
    -Socrates says imagine that a human was freed from their bonds and realizes shadows are caused by statues and fire
    -Still has belief that shadows are more real than what he’s seeing now, it’s all he knew for a life time and it’s difficult for him to see the greater reality
    -Next, human is dragged outside, by force, to see the light of day – eyes would take a while to adjust because he was so used to being in the dark
    -At first he would see shadows, then imagines of people, then objects themselves
    -Lastly, he would actually see the sun by itself and conclude that it provides the seasons, the years, and light for him to see everything in the world
    -The man would be reminded of his earlier life in the cave and feel bad for the others still there
    -Socrates compares the man’s sight of the world to the cave/prison, and the light of the fire inside the cave to the sun’s power
    -Sun represents knowledge, understanding – Form of the Good
    -The upward journey for the man and seeing the light of day and things above are compared to the upward journey of the soul and being educated
    -The cave represents the visible realm on the divided line of light and it’s source, the man being educated/seeing the light of day and a world outside of the cave represents the intelligible realm on the divided line – truth and understanding
    -Socrates says the souls would be more willing to spend their time above ground/above the cave which represents man and their yearning for education
    -Goal of education is to drag every man as far out of the cave as possible turning the soul towards the right desires – obtaining the Form of the Good
    -Educate those with right natures, turn their soul toward Form of the Good – understanding, knowledge, education
    -The rulers will have to return to the cave/the darkness where the other citizens live to help other and to rule there

  2. Nicholas deWinter
    Philosophy 1200
    Plato’s Republic Book X (2nd half – The Soul’s Immortality and True Nature-End of Book.)
    -Socrates begins this section of the book by stating that souls are immortal and are never destroyed.
    -Glaucon is very shocked at the statement and questioned if Socrates is able to make such a bold statement.
    -Socrates insists that he is in a position to make such a statement and that Glaucon ought to be as well.
    -Glaucon is doubtful so Socrates compares and contrasts the soul to the body.
    -He uses such an analogy that when a body is harmed by bad food, we cannot blame the food for the damage, but can only blame the body for harming itself through obtaining disease from the food, since the body and food are different things.
    -Than he says, that a body’s deficiency cannot induce a deficiency in the soul, similar to the last argument.
    -5th paragraph page 315- 2nd last paragraph page 315- what happens here? (Soul becomes unjust at death, or as death approaches?)
    -Than it seems that Socrates has prove that the soul is immortal as they agree that “when something is not destroyed by a single bad thing—whether its own or an external one- clearly it must always exist” Which they have agreed that the soul is not destroyed by a single bad thing as when the body is harmed by disease or chopped up into many pieces.
    -Than Socrates makes the point that justice is the best thing for the soul and the soul should do what is just, and that the soul should give back to justice what it has given to the soul, during life and after death (as the soul is immortal).
    -Which would mean that the soul is entirely just, but does Socrates not contradict himself in saying that “the just man should seem unjust and the unjust one just.” Would that not mean that the soul should seem unjust? (Page 317)
    -Than Socrates and Glaucon go on to discuss what happens to a just man and an unjust man and decide that the Gods reward a just man and that an unjust man will be punished and hurt by the time his time is over.
    -Which leads into the story of Er, where a man had died during battle and twelve days later had revived and claimed he had seen the “other world”. Where he said there were judges who either told you to go up the stairs to the heavens if you were just, or down the stairs if you were unjust. But this man was to chosen to be a messenger to the people on earth to tell them all the things that happened up there.
    -he had learned that unjust people got caused ten times the pain for every bad deed they had done and that just people got commensurate awards for their good deeds.
    -He then goes on to explain this long journey in which he had to go through and how everyone who was assigned to be a messenger was put into someone else’s body on earth, except for Er, he was chosen to be put back into his own body, which is why he revived back on Earth.
    -the story Socrates believes proves that the soul is immortal and the soul must be just and it will be rewarded.

  3. St. Augustine Confessions: Book II Adolescence

    Ian Drake, October 1st, 2013

    This book starts off with Augustine feeling the need to confess and look back upon his mischief and sexual exploits as a young man.

    He states that he simply wanted to love and to be loved. This was his greatest desire. Augustine blames puberty for being unable to distinguish between the good of love and the darkness of lust. He knows now that god intended sex to be used for purposes of pro-creation rather than to give into sexual tendencies (considered evil much like Adam and Eve). This led Augustine to depression, self-pity, and exhaustion.

    Augustine’s parents try to ignore this behaviour and try to keep him focused on his education. As long as he is cultured, that is all that matters. They were actually excited about the prospect of having grandchildren. Augustine says that many of the things he and his friends did was for boasting, gloating, and a sense of admiration.

    Augustine confesses to doing the evil things he did for no real reason. He was wicked for the sake of being wicked. He even claims to have liked doing it. The Pears he stole play into this. He didn’t steal them because he was hungry or for the taste. He wanted it just for the purpose of stealing it. Once he got it he actually threw it away. It was a feast of wickedness.

    The way Augustine goes against the rules of religion and society ties into Neoplatonism. It shows how some one can go against the societal norms purposed by Sophocles/Plato in favour of chaos and mayhem. Eventually this chaos will pass and people will return to the constants (God). God is always the unified figure that you can go back to much like how Augustine after doing all these unjust things is confessing his sins.

    In the end Augustine suggests peer pressure as a cause for his deviant behaviour. Augustine thinks that friendship can be a dangerous enemy, or a seduction of the mind. You must evaluate your friends first to see if they are truly your friends.

  4. Confessions: Book I
    Kent Davis

    Augustine begins with a prayer to the Lord. This prayer then branches to a series of questions by Augustine asking if calling on God or praising God comes first, then asking if knowing God precedes calling on God. He then states that calling upon God is an act of faith, that believing in God is enough to praise him. Augustine asks what is the best way to call upon God. He then begins to ask if God can be contained in his own creations, and asks if God is within him, or if he is within God. More questions pop up as Augustine asks whether God is contained in heaven and earth, and if so, where the overflow will be contained, since heaven and earth are full. Augustine then asks if God is contained within vessels, or big and small vessels that contain his “greater parts” and his “lesser parts”, respectively, and if the universe contains God.
    After much more praise to the Lord (in which Augustine outlines the characteristics of the Lord), Augustine begins to dive into his early childhood, reciting what people have told him. He says that he had learned to throw his limbs around when he wanted something, and when he did not get his way, he would begin to cry to get his way. He claims to of learned this from other infants, and says that he has learned more from them than he had from the nurses.
    Augustine breaks away from his story to ask God more questions, more specifically those inquiring about a life before life, and says a prayer to him in regards to the Lord’s power to give life and set limits on them.
    Another prayer comes from Augustine, this time about sins of a child. Augustine recites scripture that states no child is pure from the beginning, and then questions what he had done wrong. He questions if it was right of him to use tears to beg for “what would be harmful to get”. He says that because he could not understand the adults that had scrutinized him, he was never truly disciplined. He also does not remember the time in his life in which he had acted out these behaviors, and states that they are not an actual part of his existence, comparing it to the time he has spent in his mother’s womb. Augustine finally ends this series of questions by admitting that these behaviors are somehow acceptable, but only at that age.
    We are told of how Augustine began to speak as he left infancy and began to grow up. He states that he had learned to speak not by his parents or caretakers, but from his power of speech and intelligence given to him by God, using memory tasks and overhearing conversations and frequently heard lines. After he had learned to speak, Augustine was sent to a school to learn how to read and write so that he could obtain the means to cheat his way to riches. If he did not study, he would be beaten. It was there he learned to pray to God, pleading with him to not get beaten at the next day of school. Augustine states that he relished the pride that came with winning, and liked to ‘tickle [his] ears with false stories’. This increased his hungering for sporting events.
    When he was a boy, Augustine heard about the benefits of staying humble to God, namely eternal life after death. We also learn that Augustine was nearing death as a boy, with ‘pressure on the chest suddenly making [him] hot with fever’. It was then that Augustine begged to be baptized in order to achieve his eternal life after his passing. Augustine’s mother, upset, hastily made arrangements for this baptism, however Augustine made a full recovery before he could be baptized. Augustine’s father was the only one in his household that wasn’t a believer in God, but did not stop anyone from worshipping him. He tells us that his mother tried to convince him that God was his actual father, and not his biological father. She was still the wife of Augustine’s father, but in this way she was keeping her obedience to God.
    Augustine resumes his telling of his school days, stating that he had no interest in books, and would only read if he was forced to. He later states that God must of used his reluctance to learn as punishment for sinning as a young boy.
    Although he was forced to study Greek literature, a subject which he hates, Augustine states that he liked Latin literature when he was a boy. He learned Latin at his secondary level of education, and felt that he was a burden in his entire set of Greek classes. He says that this aversion must be a part of his sinning as a child. He became averse to and mocked the Aeneid, a book that recounts Aeneas mourning the death of Dido, to which Augustine felt no emotion over. However, Augustine does make it a point to recite different parts of the story throughout this book.
    He criticizes a young boy’s education during his time, saying that free curiosity has more power for education than forcing someone to learn through force and discipline. That being said, Augustine still prays to God to make the knowledge he obtained in his youth relevant to Augustine’s service to the Lord. More criticism is brought out when the topic of Jupiter appears. Augustine cites Jupiter as a horrible role model for those learning literature, as this promotes indecent behavior.
    This branches off to Augustine telling us how his education made him fearful of failure. He was afraid that if he recited a speech wrong, he would be beaten for his mistake, and if he never made a mistake in reciting, he would get praise for performing a feat that would eventually turn to ‘smoke and wind’. He then complains that he was fearful for speaking a vulgarity, yet he was surrounded by those who would speak of their lust in vivid detail. He also complains that an educated person would be censored if he were to pronounce ‘human’ contrary to what he was taught, but he would be free to speak if he were to hate a fellow human being.
    Augustine became a liar and a cheat, often using illegal means to win in wrestling matches and stealing from his parents’ cellar. He states that one doesn’t simply escape their habits when they leave childhood, as the adult life is harsher than it is in boyhood. He ends the book in praise to the Lord, thanking him for his memory, his skill with words, friendships, and avoided pain, despondency, and ignorance.

  5. Saint Augustine – Confessions Book VI
    Laura Fallon

    The book begins with Augustine discussing how his mother, Monica, followed him to Milan. While Augustine had not yet become a Catholic, he was headed on the right path. He explains that she did not seem overjoyed at this step in the right direction, as he thought she would, because she knew in her heart and had faith in Christ that Augustine would become a baptized Christian before the end of her life. He then goes on to discuss how his mother brought offerings to the church, both food and drink, but when told these were not allowed, she abstained. Augustine claims she agreed to these customs so readily because she admired and loved Ambrose, the Bishop, so much. Augustine was intrigues by his mother’s unwavering faith and wondered if his future did in fact lie with the church. He explains that Bishop Ambrose spent much of his time tending to the needs of his flock, and the rest of his time fulfilling needs and reading, and therefore did not have time to answer Augustine’s questions or listen to his woes.

    An important part of Augustine’s transition to Christianity came when he realized that believers do not take certain passages of the Bible literally, but instead there is a deeper meaning which one comes to understand with time. He realizes that he has been against the Catholic church due to blind accusations, without truly understanding its beliefs. He then states that while he wants his soul to be healed by belief in what he called the medicines of faith, he feared believing in something which was false. He likens this to someone who has been treated by a bad doctor being afraid to go to another doctor, even though they will be helpful. Augustine then describes how he began to understand the modesty in the way the church stuck to faith rather than following with the custom of the time to demand proof of all claims. In other words, he admired their choosing to believe in something which cannot be shown to be true, rather than to be forced to believe in things which are impossible, like in Manichean belief.

    Augustine then discusses how his belief sometimes wavered but he still maintained his faith in God and the Bible. He then recounts a time when he was about to give a speech. He passed a beggar on the street, and noticed that he was happy, while Augustine was very nervous and anxious about the impending speech. Had someone asked him if he would rather be happy or anxious, he would have chosen to be happy, but when asked to choose between being the happy beggar or his anxious self, he would have chosen himself. He states that this was a stupid choice, as he should not have thought himself better than the beggar for reasons such as being better educated.

    While in Milan, Augustine was often in the company of two friends, named Alypius and Nebridius. Alypius was younger than Augustine, and was one of his students at a time. Alypius was intrigued by “circus games” and public shows, which Augustine saw as foolish. Augustine tried to talk Alypius out of going to these events, and succeeded for the most part. Once, though, Alypius went with friends to one of these events and, while he thought he was strong enough to resist the pleasure and stimulation they would bring, he was drawn in and became very intrigued again. Augustine also recounts a time where Alypius was arrested as a thief, though wrongly so. He states that these experiences had a hand in leading Alypius to the teachings of Catholicism. Both Alypius and Nebridius came to live with Augustine in Milan, and together they looked for truth and guidance.

    Ambrose then goes into a discussion about where and how knowledge and truth can be found. He then discusses how he was putting off his true devotion to the Church because of fear. Augustine worried about the concept of abstinence in the Catholic Church. He wanted to have a wife, and was driven by sexual appetites but Alypius, who was celibate since adolescence, advised against it, in part because he thought this would ruin their current state of living together and seeking knowledge, and also because sexual relations are looked down upon by the church. Still driven by pleasure, Augustine ignored Alypius’ warnings and continued to desire marriage, even causing Alypius to become somewhat curious about the matter. Augustine was set to marry a girl, however she was too young to marry at the time so it would have to wait.

    Augustine and his friends had frequent discussions about withdrawing from the social world and living ‘a life of contemplation’ together. Augustine was forced to give up his concubine, the woman whom he slept with occasionally, because of his impending marriage. He was left with a broken heart, as well as a son. After this, he found another woman to fulfill his desires, but he was still unhappy.

    He closes the book by explaining that the unhappier he became, and the more sins he committed, the closer he came to God. He also says that he only refrained from sinning even more due to a fear of death and judgment. Finally, he discusses the importance of friends in one’s life, and how he realized that material things could not give him true happiness.

  6. While reading book IV and V, I came across two things that really stuck out to me, in negative ways. I do not agree with some of Augustine’s opinions but these are the two that I really have a hard time grasping.
    In book IV of Saint Augustine Confessions, Augustine himself talks about the passing of a dear friend of his. He describes how he felt nothing but grief and sadness in regards to the event. He mentions that, now, he can only see death as death and in no other form. That his hometown has become a torture, that everything they shared had now just become cruel torment. He describes hating everything because nothing includes his friend anymore. After he no longer wants to feel this way, he comes to the realization that none of these feelings would have overcome his being if he had been closer with god. He has become more attached with transient objects instead of god, and therefore that is the reason he is feeling such grief.
    My understanding of this particular section is that without the attachment to god, you are vulnerable to feeling such things as grief, and sadness and any other so called negative emotions. That if you are a loyal worshiper of god that he will exempt you from such hurt. I however disagree with this. Like it had been loosely stated earlier on in Confessions, God is very powerful but he is not all powerful, so just because one is close with god that does not mean that those people will no longer be able to feel pain. People, while we all may be very individual in many aspects, also have many things in common, one being that we are all able to receive the same emotions, and no one person will get through life feeling no emotional pain. In my view, what we encounter in life and how we deal with it on our own defines who we are, not whether we follow god or whether we don’t. Yes, I feel it is necessary to believe in something otherwise you may find to be somewhat lost, but that thing you believe in does not necessarily have to be god. I am not saying it is not allowed to be, because I recognize that god helps many people, all I am saying is that those who believe in god and those who don’t are all vulnerable to the same feelings, whether they be happy or sad.
    In book V, Augustine brings up the original sin and how we are all considered sinners because of it. After departing Carthage to head off to Rome to teach, Augustine falls greatly ill and his only reasoning for such occurrences is that this is Gods way of punishing him for the original sin.
    The original sin is that of Adam and Eve, and how they lost touch with the Paradise that god created for us all to live in and created todays world, one full of injustice and suffering. It depicts that everyone is born a sinner even though they have yet to accomplish anything in life that therefore children who are unbaptized will be sent to hell when they die. I find this very unnecessary because I do not believe that people should be blamed for their ancestors’ mistakes. What happens in the past, while it will indirectly affect the future generations, positively and negatively, no blame should ever be placed upon those who are born into circumstance. A modern day example is Guantanamo Bay and how after 911, Arabic people in the USA are thrown into prison solely based on the assumption that they are involved in terrorism, just because of how they look. This relates to Augustine’s opinion because, like the children in his time, the Arab’s are being judged and lumped into what others in their culture have done and are automatically assumed to be evil.

  7. Confessions Book IX
    In the beginning of Book IX, Augustine has decides to retire from teaching. Due to a heavy teaching load over the summer, his lungs were beginning to weaken, breathing was becoming difficult, and he was having chest pains. He decides to leave at the next vacation so that it would not be as high profile. He is no longer intrigued by money; it is patience that gets him through until the vacation.
    Verecundus is upset that he cannot retire like Augustine because he is married. He dies not long after, after having been baptized. Nebridius also converts to Catholicism, and he too dies shortly after. However before they die, they all go on vacation.
    When he retires, Augustine does a lot of reading and writing. He writes “in [God’s] service” and about Christianity. He reads the Psalms of David and becomes very emotional. He says this is when he was a “beginner in authentic love” for God and the Psalms described this love. He reflects on his hatred for the Manicheans. He quickly comes to pity them for their ignorance to God’s ability to save souls. He is angry with himself that he used to “love vanity and seek after a lie.”
    Augustine recounts a terrible toothache before his baptism that impeded his ability to speak. He wrote to his friends to pray for him, and miraculously the toothache disappeared. This augmented his faith, although he was not free of his sins yet.
    After vacation, he informs the public he is retiring to follow God and because of his medical issues. He contacts Ambrose, a bishop, and tells him he wishes to be baptized. He goes to Milan and he is reborn, along with Alypius. His son, Adeodatus, accompanies him. This is his son of sin. While his son is very intelligent, Augustine claims he contributed nothing but sin to the boy. Adeodatus joins in the dialogue of one of Augustine’s books at the age of 16. He dies shortly after this. There is no anxiety in recalling his death because he considers Adeodatus to be the same age as himself in God’s eyes.
    While in Ostia, Augustine’s mother, Monica, dies. He speaks of what God gave his mother. He says her parents did not know what her character would be, but they raised her in a household that believed in God and Christ, and so she became a dedicated member of the Church. She was entrusted by her masters to discipline their daughters. Except when eating at the table with their parents, Monica would forbid the girls from drinking water, no matter how thirsty they were, to rid the girls of greed and so that they wouldn’t turn to wine when water seemed “dull”.
    Despite her authoritative presence, Monica developed her own weakness for wine. When she would fetch wine for her parents as a girl, she would sip some. This was not for the taste, but simply out of impulse. She had more and more sips each day until she began drinking full cups of wine. Augustine wonders how God was able to cure his mother.
    Augustine points out that God rewards us not for our actions or what has resulted from these actions, but for our intentions. He uses the example of a maidservant chastising a mistress for a drinking problem. Even though the mistress acknowledged the issue and changed for the better, the maidservant did not have these intentions, she set out to hurt the mistress. Even from someone’s fury God can bring healing to another.
    Augustine returns to the subject of his mother. He talks of her marriage and how she was a good wife. Even though her husband had several infidelities, he also had a temper and so she would not argue with him. She even won over her difficult mother-in-law with her patience and gentle nature. She told her son to punish the slave girls and he did so. Monica’s husband was baptized before his death and became a true believer.
    On the day of her death, Augustine and Monica questioned the quality of eternal life that saints would have. They concluded that the bodily senses experienced in the physical world would be “not worth considering”. They were seeking answers from within their own minds rather than through their bodies. They believed eternal life was the wisdom that brought all creatures into being. There could not be past or present, the wisdom is eternal.
    This concept relates back to Plato’s Republic and his idea of the Forms, the idea that images and senses are almost primitive. Augustine says they are not worth considering, and Plato describes how they are of the lowest forms of knowledge. Both Plato and Augustine emphasize the idea of a type of knowledge greater than the visual realm.
    Before she dies, Monica tells Augustine that she has fulfilled her life goal. She has lived to see him as a true baptized Catholic, and now she has no purpose to live. She fell ill within five days. After regaining consciousness from a period of unconsciousness, Monica asks where she had been and mumbles about where she will be buried. She dies on her ninth day of illness.
    Augustine does not grieve her death, but gives thanks for the gifts God gave her. Augustine struggles with why he feels sadness. He assumes it is due to the break in habit of living together.

  8. Beginning of Book III:
    (Augustine and his road to Manichaeism)
    Kassandra Drodge
     Leaves for Carthage from his hometown of Thagaste.
     His range of “rotten…ulcerous” sins expands from teenage pranks to include attending public spectacles and reading tragedies. Here Augustine has a weak relationship with God.
     When in search for a new philosophy, he finally stumbled upon the Manichean faith.
     Listening to the Manichean’s will turn out to be perhaps the biggest mistake of his life in Augustine’s eyes.
     Augustine states that he has a wholesale self-condemnation, recalling his “foul and immoral” state of being at Carthage
     His sexual adventures continues… a “hell of lust” that Augustine again attributes to a misdirection of the love for God
    -“I sought an object for my love”
     Augustine also expanded his schoolboy “sin” of reading fiction, taking advantage of cosmopolitan Carthage to attend “theatrical shows.” He particularly regrets having attended tragedies, since this constitutes immersion in fictional suffering without recognition of one’s own suffering in sin.
     Augustine recalls seeking out tragic stories that “scratched” his soul and became “inflamed spots, pus, and repulsive sores” according to God’s justice “you beat me with heavy punishments”
     At this point Augustine came across a book by Cicero called Hortensius. This book focuses on rebuilding the position that philosophy is useless and does not lead to happiness. Cicero argues that this anti-philosophy opinion can only be judged by philosophy since it itself is a philosophical statement
     Feeling that Hortensius was compromised by the lack of any reference to Christ (he attributes this feeling to Monica’s early influence), Augustine finally decided to take a look at the Christian Bible. Unfortunately, the early Latin bible was not worded as well as the Greek bible. (it was blunt and repulsive)
     Augustine now turns to the primary Manichean criticisms of Catholic belief……
    1) The nature and source of evil- If God is supremely good, and if he is also all-powerful, eternal, and the cause of all existence, how can evil exist?
    2) Is God confined within a corporeal form? Does he have hair and nails? In the Manichean view, God is limited–he is not everywhere, and does not control everything.
     These ideas allow Augustine to answer the Manichean question of evil as follows: “evil has no existence except as a privation of good, down to that level which is altogether without being.” Evil is just a name for a lack of true existence, a label for how far a thing (or person) has wandered from unity with God

  9. Augustine, Confessions
    Book VIII
    Rebecca Angel

    At the beginning of book VIII, it is clear that Augustine is progressing towards converting to the Catholic Church, and he now recognizes God as a truly spiritual substance. He writes, “My desire was not to be more certain of you but to be more stable in you.”
    He is still reluctant to becoming a full member of the Catholic Church as he says he is “still reluctant to go along its narrow paths”.
    He tells us about his visit to Simplicianus, the bishop of Milan in 397 and father to Ambrose, to seek advice regarding his troubles and hesitations. He was hopeful that he might provide a clear pathway to the ways of God. When he mentions that he had read some books of the Platonists, translated into Latin by Victorinus, Simplicianus congratulated him for not falling into the fallacies and deceptions of other philosophers. Simplicianus tells the story of Victorinus, a highly respected rhetorician who converted to Christianity late in his life. Victorinus felt a longing to become Christian, but was afraid of whether he would be accepted. Guilty and ashamed of his past, he became aware of the emptiness he felt and a desire to find what was true. Augustine is intrigued very much by the story; highly impressed by his intelligence, success and ability to become a faithful Catholic. Comparable to Victorinus, Augustine is fighting with his willingness to break old habits and resist his passions and desires. He says, “So my two wills, one old, the other new, one carnal, the other spiritual, were in conflict with one another…”
    Augustine compares his thoughts about God to someone who is unable to wake up from a deep sleep. They would like to wake up, but continue to sink back into sleep again. Similarly, Augustine wants to join Catholicism but he can’t escape his old ways just yet. Still, it is obvious that he is edging closer and closer to conversion.

    A very significant point, if not the most significant, in Augustine’s life happens the day that he and Alypius receive a surprise visit from Ponticianus. Upon noticing the book of the apostle Paul, Ponticianus begins to tell a story about the monasteries outside the city and of two men who gave up all they knew, and dedicated their lives to becoming a servant to God. After hearing this story, Augustine views himself as vile, putrid, twisted and filthy and he can’t get the image out of his head. He develops a great affection for those men, and the more hatred he feels towards himself. He admits to praying as a young man for chastity and continence, just not yet. He preferred to satisfy his urges rather than suppress them.

    Suddenly, Augustine cries out to Alypius about how truly wrong they have been acting. He is ashamed and angry with himself for not even attempting to follow the ways of God. He walks out into the garden to calm down, but instead he loses control and starts to beat himself and pull out his hair. He realizes that he doing so by his own will, but had his limbs not possessed the power to obey then he would be unable to do so. In other words, his limbs obeyed the will of his mind even though his mind could not obey itself. He says, “willing itself was the performative of the action” and so he needed the will to will something.
    He decides that there is not a big difference between willing and not willing, it is simply a condition of the mind, but then quickly dismisses this idea. He himself neither wholly willing nor wholly unwilling, he blames the conflict within himself on deliberating the decision of serving the Lord for so long.
    He is on the edge of converting, but he continues to be held back by a tiny thread of his past. Continuously being nagged by his habits, he questions whether he could he live without them. He says to himself: let it be now, let it be now. He was hesitant still, approaching the moment when he would change everything he knew, frightened but not backing away.

    Lady Continence appears in the height of his whispering habits, and tells him to come and not hesitate. Showing off good examples of those before him, both joyous and serene. Confused and agitated, Augustine sits under a fig tree and lets his tears flow freely. He asks God, referring to his past, how long will he be angry with him? As he wept, the voice of a small child repeated ‘pick up and read, pick up and read’ over and over again. The first passage Augustine reads says ‘Not in riots and drunken parties, not in eroticism and indecencies, not in strife and rivalry, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in its lusts’. He needed not to read any further…at once he found the light. Relief and anxiety flowed out of him, and the dark shadows of doubt disappeared.

    He immediately ran to tell the good news to Alypius, who chooses to convert with him, and his mother, who is utterly thrilled. Her grief finally transformed into joy.

  10. Confessions: Book VII
    Sean Gillis

    Augustine begins book VII by detailing his struggles to understand God as something other than physical. He rejects the image of God in the shape of a man, but admits that he had a very difficult time expelling the concept of God being a physical, if invisible, force; one that permeates and is diffused through all of existence. He also knew this to be false, however, citing that this would mean that smaller beings and parts of the world would be less touched by Him than larger ones.

    This line of thinking was inspired largely by Augustine’s rejection of Manichean philosophies. Augustine was attempting to envision God as “incorruptible, immune from injury, and unchangeable” rather than the Manichean concept of a God who was threatened by evil. Still not reaching a solution, he says in hindsight that it was a problem of visualisation. He struggled with the concept of something existing without taking up physical space, realising only later that thought itself would have a served a perfect example if he had considered it at the time.

    Having rejected Manichean concepts Augustine was faced with a new problem. Given that God is the absolute, incorruptible good, how does one account for evil? He wondered if perhaps despite God’s omnipotence, He may have been powerless to stop the corruption of some lesser goods. Or, perhaps, it was human free will that caused evil. But still, he wonders how evil would even be an option since God is the all-powerful good. He seems to find no concrete answers, but remains steadfast in his faith.

    It is now in the Confessions where Augustine begins reading Neoplatonic philosophy. He begins reading a book with a philosophy that resonates with him. He laments that Neoplatonism is marred by polytheism, but praises the concepts and ideas presented. The texts he read cemented the idea that God is not a physical being in him. Following the texts, he was “admonished to turn into myself”. During this introspection he experienced a vision in which he began to understand the nature of God as non-physical. This vision also helped him interpret the nature of evil. That nature being that it does not truly exist in God’s eyes. Nothing is in direct opposition to God, but with free will humans can reject him, leading to perversity.

    Neoplatonism had led him to a problem. So taken was he with this philosophy that its lack of mention of Christ, the physical aspect of God, pushed him away from his vision. He realises that the Neoplatonic texts were very helpful, but they were not infallible and had the potential to lead him astray from God. With this realisation he began reading the writings of the apostle Paul. He found that Paul’s writing presented many of the same concepts as Neoplatonism, only with mention of Christ. Augustine finishes this book by marveling in the effect that the writings of ‘the least’ of God’s apostles has had on him.

  11. Katelyn Forgeron
    Response to Confessions: Book IX

    The first half of this chapter involves Augustine’s praise to the Lord and his baptism as well as two of his friends Nebridius and Verecundus. He explains how he did not want to see his friends end their lives without being baptized. I think this makes sense in the fact that we want the best for our friends because we see them as great people that deserve it.

    Augustine then talks highly of his mother and all the good God has given her to in turn show him. From what was said through Augustine, she was a good person and I think that most times, when our mother is involved in our lives we will always view them in some shed of light. She is the reason that Augustine learned about Christianity and for that it is appropriate that he looks to her in this way. She wanted the best for everyone and wanted them to be believers of God and have love for him the way she did. She even managed to convert her husband Patrick into a Christian before he passed away.

    I feel as though Augustine is a lot like his mother in the way he wants everyone to share his views on Christianity. Both him and his mother Monica have suffered through their demons at a young age and have found God to save them. They also both have shown people the way to Christianity and expressed their love of God.

    Being such a devoted believer in God, Augustine is very conflicted when his mother passes away. He doesn’t want to cry over his loss but his body is telling him otherwise and it pains him to keep it hidden. I think that although it isn’t mentioned that he feels some form of guilt for being upset and that a part of him would like his mother to still be with him. He feels conflicted because he knows his mother is in a much better place and tears are usually only shed for those leading a sorrowful life after death. This is something I can most relate with in this text. When we lose someone important in our lives we are overcome with sadness and I personally feel like belief cannot overcome that. I feel like it’s involuntary to feel grief over someone passing away and no matter how much we try to hold it in, we have to have that moment when we just express how we’re feeling.

    Augustine concludes the chapter by again praising his mother. People say that parents/guardians are your first teachers in life and I think Augustine would attest to that with the relationship he’s shown to have with his mother.

  12. Introductory Philosophy –
    Augustine The Confessions

    Book X

    There is a change of focus in Book X for the remainder of the novel. Instead of focusing on Augustine’s life, it begins to discuss philosophical concepts. Since he has covered the key points of his life and conversion, he expresses his outlook on Christianity and different concepts that relate to it. The main focus of Book X is memory and its use to prove his point that you must look within your mind in order to find God.
    To Augustine, memory is composed of God’s light, voice, food, odor, embrace and parts of the spirit. Along with the composition, there are four different types of memories.


    It is the most basic and common memory. This type of memory is stored within the mind. It can recall images, taste, etc. This type of memory relies on recollection. A person may not remember something until it is in front of their very eyes.


    This memory is heavily connected to truth. Truth is firmly established in the memory and is remembered when the mind comes across something familiar.


    It is not to be mistaken with sensory memory. This memory does not recall images or other senses. Rather, it recalls the skill to perform an activity.

    Emotional memory:

    This memory can remember emotions attached to certain events. People have the ability to recall emotion without re-experiencing them. This emotion is linked to happiness and how humans have the ability to recall it.

    Attempts at understanding forgetfulness did not end well since Augustine did not reach a real conclusion. Instead, he marvels at the complexity of memory.
    It is the truth itself that we distinctly remember, not joy. Knowledge is innate and we do not discover it until we are touched by God.

    Emotional memory is extended through the discussion of true joy. Since emotional memory is the recollection of an emotion, Augustine believes it plays a crucial role in joy. He states that we did know happiness at one point and we continually put together parts of the truth. We remember it due to Adam, who experienced original goodness. The true joy is God. It is still God for the non-believers. The non-believers may not work towards their relationship with God and experiencing the joy. However, Augustine reasons that the only reason they don’t pursue God is due to lack of will. For those who work towards it will begin to realize that joy in the truth is the way to be happy.

    An issue in Augustine’s time, which is still very real in our society is the importance of physical things. People often get caught up in focusing their health, or material possessions that they lose track of what’s truly important. Because of this, the truth loses its meaning. Augustine himself seeks knowledge in God. He concludes that he is not sense or emotional, nor is he in the mind. God transcend everything. In order to be closer to him, you must begin an inward search.

    He then spends the rest of the book to outline his attachment to physical things. According to Augustine, he lives a separate life from a truly godly one. His first attachment is erotic images. Even though he is celibate, he still has desires and experiences wet dreams. Augustine also over indulges on food. He felt he had a false attachment to world beauty, valuing the beauty shaped by his society.

    Augustine experienced a lot of pride in his lifetime. It made him feel good. Even when helping others, he liked to hear praise about himself instead of how positive things came out of helping. This also ties in with humans and truth. Humans are full of pride and do not want to admit that they have been deceived. He concludes that the ego is not God and should be avoided.

    Book X concludes with Augustine believing that the soul isn’t safe anywhere, but with God and that one should have faith in that God will have mercy.

  13. Confessions Book XIII

    This book is written in the form of a prayer from Augustine to God, praising and thanking all that he does. Augustine also greatly focuses on the book of Genesis and how he interprets it.
    He starts off calling upon God, reflecting on how he has never left him despite him straying from Christianity. He states that though god has no need for him and that he cannot help god, he serves him so that his goodness will come to him. He proceeds to praise god’s formless being, stating that “formless spiritual being is superior to formed body. Formless physical entities are better than no existence at all”. God being the cause of all good and creation are also mentioned.
    He spends a great deal of time asking about the Holy Spirit and why he is only mentioned after the mentioning of heaven and earth as “invisible and unorganized” and “darkness above the abyss”. Augustine theorizes that this is so he could be referred to as “borne above”, and this could only be done after mentioning the above, but why is him being “borne above” so significant? He believes that all three in the divinity would have been “borne above”, so why is only the spirit mentioned his way?
    Augustine then states that we are all carried into whatever position is appropriate to us, which is not necessarily downward. He uses the example of fire moving upward and a stone moving downward, and how that is their appropriate position so that is where they go. He states his love is his weight and compares our love to god as fire, saying “by your gift we are set on fire and carried upwards”.
    The rest of this book greatly focuses on the book of Genesis and what it could symbolize. He interprets the creation story as a metaphor for the creation of the church, saying the dry land represents faithful followers of god and that the raging sea surrounding them are the non-believers.

  14. Cambria Grieser
    Book 12

    • Augustine starts off book twelve stating that seeking for something takes more work than receiving the answer.
    • He then starts to think about the book of Genesis and his wonders and interpretation of the book.
    • He believes that before God gave form there was nothing, however it was not absolute nothing, in other words, formlessness that had no definition.
    • Augustine then states that people use words as a replacement of things they cannot sense (touch, see, etc.) When putting these things into words they are either aware of what is not knowable or it is ignorance based on knowledge.
    • He used to think of matter in the wrong way. He thought of it as a form instead of something that was formless. He then goes on to describe what he pictured when thinking of matter. When he tried to get a better understanding of it and achieve to form the idea of formlessness, he could only think of it as non-existent rather than something in between form and nothingness.
    • God made things out of nothing. If he made heaven and earth from himself it would be equal to him. But it is not.
    • This brought him to the question of what heaven and earth really was. Heaven is what people cannot sense. Earth can be seen, touched, etc. He interprets from the book of Genesis that one heaven and one earth was made before days and time.
    • Augustine interprets that when reading the scripture, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” it is referring to heaven being the “heaven of heaven” and the earth being “the earth invisible and unorganized”. These being the heaven and earth that was created before time.
    • Critics and objectors say that the literal meaning of Genesis is different than what Augustine interpreted.
    • Augustine then argues that they cannot claim his interpretation to be false because they cannot say that God’s “nature will never vary at different times, and his will is not external to his nature.” God never changes his mind because nothing that changes is eternal. If they claim this to be false they are saying that God is not eternal.
    • This leads to “the House of God”. What I understand from Augustine’s thoughts of the House of God is that it has no time because although it is not coeternal with God it will in its own way be eternal in heaven. Those who are Christians (who make up the House of God) do not exist in time because when they no longer exist on earth, they will have an eternity in heaven and, therefore, be eternal.
    • “Heaven and Earth” can be interpreted in many ways because people see things and read things differently. Although some people may say that other’s interpretations are wrong, Augustine believes that if people are looking for the truths in the scripture they are following the right path. There is no one specific interpretation that is correct over others.
    • From these truths comes different interpretations:
    The visible world has its components, which is heaven and earth.
    Everything that changes has some type of formlessness.
    No experience of time can touch something close to an unchanging form because with time comes change. These things can change but do not.
    Formlessness cannot suffer temporal successiveness.
    Something that is made can bear the same name as that which made it. For example formlessness that heaven and earth are made from can be called heaven and earth.
    Earth and the abyss are the closest thing to formless.
    God made everything with form and everything that is capable of form
    Everything is first formless and then acquires form.
    • Augustine wants nothing to do with those that fall under the category of those who think they know things but are wrong and those who think Moses said anything untrue. Augustine wants to be associated with those who seek the will of God in their reading of his words through his servant, Moses.
    • He cannot say for sure that his interpretation is what was meant by Moses but he believes it is what God meant even if it is not what Moses had in mind when writing it.
    • Those who do not seek the truth, do this because they are proud. They love their own view not because it is true but because it is their own opinion. Otherwise, they would accept other’s interpretations as valid just like Augustine accepted other’s interpretations although they were not the same as his own. He did so because he believes seeking for the truth is what is important, and not one interpretation being correct over all others.
    • Augustine says that everything is made from nothing but given form through God’s likeness.
    • There are a lot of interpretations of what is meant by “In the beginning God made heaven and earth.” Those who know that “heaven and earth” is a formless matter do not share the views of those that viewed this part of the scripture as “the starting point” or “First he made”. Someone who thinks that this means “first he made” cannot understand “heaven and earth” as anything else other than to refer to the matter of heaven and earth. This is because if he tried to make it mean all of creation already formed, then someone would ask him what God made next.
    • If someone says that first God made the formless creation he would have to be able to distinguish priority in eternity, priority in time, priority in preference, and priority in origin.
    • Moses could have meant all interpretations in his writing of God’s words.
    • Moses could have had in mind only one meaning in mind and that was superior to all others.

  15. Spinoza’s Ethics (book one-second half) Dawn Harvey

    The second half of Book One is a series of propositions and proofs that Spinoza has put forth regarding God, the natures of God, and his existence. I will discuss numbers 18, 19 and 20 (as it would be time consuming to discuss up to #36) before discussing what Spinoza feels are the prejudices against them.

    Proposition 18 states, “God is imminent, not the transitive, cause of all things” meaning that God causes all things and these things are in God, not external to God.

    Proposition 19 states, “God, that is, all the attributes of God, are eternal.” Spinoza says that God is an infinite being, therefore he is eternal and all of his attributes must involve eternity.

    Proposition 20 states, “God’s existence and his essence are one and the same.” He says those attributes which make up his external essence also make up his existence, which in turn make them the same thing.

    The remainder of the propositions describe the properties of God to varying degrees; for example, it is He who causes all things, everything is dependent upon God and nothing can be conceived without him, and everything has been predetermined by God due to his infinite power.
    Once Spinoza has stated and proven all 36 propositions, he then explains the prejudices which exist against them. He said that men believe all things in nature act like themselves with an end in view. He said men believed, “God has made everything for man’s sake and has made man so that he should worship God.” The reason for this prejudice, he feels, is that man is born ignorant – they have no idea as to what causes them to desire things because they are ignorant of them. Next he states that men only act with an end in view – they only seek the final causes of things done. When they find that result, they are happy because there is no reason for further doubt. If they fail to discover the end view externally, they must turn inwardly to themselves for answers. As a result of looking within themselves and outside themselves, men believed there was someone else who produced these means for their use; someone who has attended to man’s needs. They believed the gods provided everything for man’s use in order that man would be bound to worship them. As a result, everyone had a different way of worshipping; a way that each person believed would make God love him more than the others. This, in turn, would cause God to take the best care of the best worshipper. Spinoza felt that each man worshipping in this particular way only showed that Nature and the gods were equally as crazy as mankind.

    Spinoza also stated that men believed that any disasters that occurring were the result of the gods being angry at the wrongs done to them by men, even though this was proven wrong as disasters present themselves to both good and bad people alike. However, they continued to believe this because it allowed them to carry on in their state of ignorance rather than try to come up with a new theory as to why disasters happen.

    Finally, Spinoza explains that everybody’s judgement is “a function of the disposition of his brain” and that, “he mistakes for reality the way his imagination is affected.” Because of this, there are many arguments or differences among men which produces skepticism. Any of the propositions he put forth can therefore be refuted.

  16. Spinoza, The Ethics, Part 1. (half of first half) Michael H.

    Spinoza, The Ethics, part one begins with Spinoza giving definition to some of the things he will use to give explanation in the book. He then outlines some axioms. These axioms are things that are known to be self-evidently true. He uses these definitions and axioms to help give proof for the arguments in his propositions.

    In his first proposition, Spinoza says that “substance is by nature prior to its affections”. He then gives proof to this by referring back to definitions numbered 3 and 5 which basically say that the conception of something doesn’t require the conception of something else in order to take form and its affections are things that are in something else and are conceived in something else. This basically means that things can be understood within themselves without a reference to something else.

    The second proposition states that “two substances having different attributes have nothing in common”. He also proves this with reference to his third definition in saying that if something is understood in itself it doesn’t need the help of something else to help give itself definition.

    Spinoza’s third proposition says that “when things have nothing in common, one cannot be the cause of the other”. This means that if two things are unrelated, and neither of these things share common characteristics, then one of these things cannot be the cause of the other thing. He proves this by referencing his fifth axiom which says that things that do not have anything in common cannot be understood through each other and therefore cannot be the cause of each other.

    In his fourth proposition, Spinoza says that “two or more distinct things are distinguished from one another either by the difference of the attributes of the substances or by the difference of the affections of the substances”. He proves this by referencing his axioms and definitions. He says that the only things that exist outside the intellect are substances and their affections. This means that the only things external to the intellect that can be used to distinguish two or more things are their substances or the attributes and the affections of their substances.

    In proposition 5, Spinoza says “in the universe there cannot be two or more substances of the same nature or attribute”. This is proven by basically saying that if two or more things share the same nature or attributes then these things are seen as the same. If there are no differences between two things then they are seen as the same thing.

    Proposition six says that “one substance cannot be produced by another substance”. This is proved by referencing previous propositions in saying that in the universe two things of the same attribute do not exist. This means that if they are not the same, they must be different therefore having different attributes. Also, it references proposition three which says that one substance cannot be produced by the other. He follows to say that substance cannot be produced by anything else. Spinoza also defends his proposition by saying that if substance could be produced by another substance, then the new substances would have the same knowledge as the substance that precedes it, therefore it would be the same, and could not be another substance.
    In proposition 7, Spinoza says that “existence belongs to the nature of substance”. As seen in previous propositions, substance cannot be produced by anything else, which means it is a cause of itself. Its essence necessarily involves existence, which means existence belongs to its nature.

    The eighth proposition says that “every substance is necessarily infinite”. If there were more than one substance with the same attributes, then thinking about one substance would mean having to think about the other which contradicts substance’s definition of being self-caused. Substances can be seen as either finite or infinite. Finite things are limited by other things of the same nature. This also contradicts the definition of substances which means that all substances must be infinite. Also, finite existence involves a partial negotiation and infinite existence is the absolute affirmation of the given nature. This means that because substances exist on account of themselves alone, there is no partial negotiation in their definition, making them infinite. Spinoza goes on to say that people who do not understand the difference between something that exists in itself and something that exists in something else will believe that they are created in the same way. Spinoza also offers another proof of how there cannot be more than one thing of the same nature. He lists off four proofs that can be summarized by saying that true definitions only give what is necessary to give its definition, the definition of something does not define how many things can fall under it, if something exists there must be a reason for its existence, and the cause of existence must be contained in its definition or without it.

    Proposition nine says that “the more reality or being that a thing has, the more attributes it has”. The only proof that Spinoza offers for this proposition is a reference to his fourth definition which says that attributes are things that constitute a substances essence.

    In proposition ten, Spinoza says that “each attribute of one substance must be conceived through itself”. This means that since a substance must be conceived through itself, so must its attributes.

  17. Susan Hawkins
    Philosophy 1200

    Spinoza Ethics – Part 2

    In part two of the Ethics, Spinoza focuses on the human mind and body. He addresses several Cartesian ideas:

    (1) That the mind and body are distinct substances that can affect one another.
    (2) That we know our minds better than we know our bodies.
    (3) That our senses may be trusted.
    (4) That despite being created by God we can make mistakes, namely, when we proclaim our own free will, an idea that is not clear and distinct.

    However, Spinoza denies each of Descartes’s points. Regarding statement #1, Spinoza argues that the mind and the body are a single thing that is being thought of in two different ways. The whole of nature can be fully described in terms of thoughts or in terms of bodies. However, we cannot mix these two ways of describing things, as Descartes does, and say that the mind affects the body or vice versa.

    At the beginning of Part 2, Spinoza opens with this comment:
    “I now pass on to explaining the results, which must necessarily follow from the essence of God, or of the eternal and infinite being; not, indeed, all of them, but only those which are able to lead us, as it were by the hand, to the knowledge of the human mind and its highest blessedness”.

    Spinoza closes Part 2 with this:
    “I thus bring the second part of my treatise to a close. I think I have therein explained the nature and properties of the human mind at sufficient length, and, considering the difficulty of the subject, with sufficient clearness. I have laid a foundation, whereon may be raised many excellent conclusions of the highest utility and most necessary to be known, as will, in what follows, be partly made plain”.

    Propositions 1-13 concerns:
    – The mind is the idea of the existing body and, the nature of all bodies involves the Attribute of Extension, and the immediate mode of motion/rest.

    Propositions 14-18 concerns:
    – An existing human body retains impressions or images and memories when it is acted upon by external bodies through motion/rest and the ideas of these modifications will be in that particular human mind. This is the fundamental nature of the imagination.

    Propositions 19-31:
    – Further explains the nature of the imagination and the inadequacy of the ideas formed in our minds. This is the realm, so to speak, of words and images which make up our own particular version of “the world” of external things including our imagination of our selves.

    Propositions 32-36:
    – All ideas are in God. Every idea, which is in us is absolute or adequate and perfect. This is true because those ideas are actually in God.

    Propositions 37-40:
    – Some things are common to all bodies and the ideas of these things in any mind can only be conceived adequately.

    Propositions 41-47:
    – Spinoza here distinguishes the 2nd and 3rd kinds of knowledge (Reason and Intuition), both of which he shows to be true. If we are reasoning, in the way Spinoza defines it, we will at the same time be certain of the Eternal Truth of the ideas involved.

    Propositions 48-49:
    – Spinoza shows that there is in the mind no absolute or free will and that “Will and Understanding” are actually one and the same, clear and distinct ideas themselves.

  18. Spinoza Book III (second part of first half, Prop 19 – 39)

    – In Prop 19 Spinoza is saying that if a person is thinking of something bad happening to them or an object that they love, then they will feel the pain of it being destroyed. The same thing goes for if there is something good that a person is thinking of then they will feel the pleasure of this thought and will in turn make them happy. Our minds are always looking for the images that help our body, which is usually the things that we love, and when we think of these things it will help the mind to conceive what we are loving and the same as for the emotion of pain.

    – Prop 20 is taking prop 19 a step further saying that if one thinks of something bad happening to someone or something that he dislikes in life, then in turn he will feel pleasure from this. This is the mind trying to exclude the images of things that it does not like to imagine. So when you think of something that you do not like being harmed then you will get pleasure from this act.

    – Prop 21 is talking about when something happens to the things we love in our lives. When something that we love greatly is in pain or pleasure then we will feel the same amount of pain or pleasure. The amount of pain/pleasure that we feel will depend on the emotional attachment that we have with that object or person.

    – Prop 22 talks about when something is affecting an object that we love with pleasure, then we will feel love towards it that thing. This can be seen when we love someone and our friend is being nice to this person that we love, we will in turn love our friend more because of this. It can also be turned around the other way as well, when there is something that we love being affected by pain then we will hate the thing that is causing the pain.

    – Prop 23 is along the same lines as prop 20 in the sense that when there is something that we love feeling pain then we in turn feel pleasure and the opposite happens as well. The pain and pleasure that we feel is again dependent on the hatred that we have for this object.

    – Prop 25 says that our minds try to only think of the things that affect what gives us pleasure and tries to exclude the things that gives us pain.

    – Prop 26 is saying that when we think if the things we hate that we never want to think of things that causes it pleasure and always just want to think of the things that cause it pain.

    – Prop 27 says that if we have no emotions towards someone but we see this person affecting something that we love with pain then we will hate this person. On the contrary, if we have no emotion for someone and then we see this person affect something that we love with pleasure then we will feel happiness towards this person.

    – Prop 28 says that the things that we try to think of the pleasure things are actually happening in the present and we strive to have this in our lives. With the pain, we shall be happy that it has been destroyed but also to put it out of our minds so that we do not think about it as in the now.

    – Prop 29 is where Spinoza brings forth his definitions of ambition, kindliness, praise, and blame. All of these coming from the fact we should do whatever we think is going to give “men” pleasure. What this man loves is the exact thing that we want to do because we can see the pleasure that it gives him and that in itself will give us pleasure.

    – Prop 30 says that if we do something to affect someone with pleasure then we will think that we are the cause of this pleasure and the same with the affect of pain.

    – Prop 31 gives us the idea that if there is an object that we love and someone that we know loves the same thing, then we will in turn love this object even more. But if we love this object and someone we know hates this object we will in turn look within ourselves to see why we love this object so much and try to justify it. We all try to get people to like the same things that we like and to hate the same things that we hate, it is when there are different ideas about an object that each person may look inwards at themselves to find why they think this way.

    – Prop 32 says that if we see someone enjoying an object that can only be possessed by one person at a time, we will try to take this object away from that person for ourselves. We want to take this happiness away from this person because we want the happiness that this person feels.

    – Prop 33 is saying that when there is something out there that we love, we what this object/person to also give us the same love that we have for it.

    – Prop 34 says that the things that we love should show us the love back because it should be affected by the pleasure of our love, so in return know us as the cause of this pleasure that they feel.

    – Prop 35 believes that if there is an object of our love out there and they have a closer relationship with someone other than us, we will in turn be jealous of this bond and have hatred towards this bond.

    – In Prop 36 we think of something that once gave us such pleasure and happiness and we want to feel this again so we try to re-enact the same circumstances that in which we had this happiness the first time around.

    – Prop 37, when a man feels pleasure all he wants to do is preserve that feeling that he is having. With pain, he wants to remove this feeling and the cause of it. The greater the feeling of this pain the greater the desire of removing the cause.

    – Prop 38 says that if a man starts to hate something that he loves, it will slowly begin to build up the hatred that he has and in turn will cause his hatred to build to the strength of the love he once had for this object.

    – In Prop 39 Spinoza says that if we hate someone then will try our hardest to harm this person unless we know the consequences will hurt us more. But he says that if we love someone then we will in turn look for the same benefits of that love.

  19. Spinoza- Ethics
    Book III – second half
    Adrienne Hyde

    This book focuses on the origin of emotions and how the mind and body interact. I focused on the Definitions of the Emotions for the purpose of this analysis.

    Spinoza describes desire as “the very essence of man in so far as his essence is conceived as determined to any action from any given affection of itself.” The wording of this definition turns out to be very important. Spinoza says that “from any given affection of itself,” makes it clear that humans can be aware of their desires. A desire can be any endeavour, urge, or appetite. These may change with a person’s ‘various states’ and often opposing desires will result in confusion of what action or path a person should take. People have a natural tendency toward self-preservation; this is a desire that one is conscious of having.

    The next definitions are of pleasure and pain. Pleasure is a person’s transition from a state of less perfection to a state of greater perfection and pain is just the opposite. To explain both definitions Spinoza uses them in contrast of one another. Pleasure is not the state of perfection as pain is not a state of imperfection or a privation of greater perfection. To be deprived of something would just mean to not have it. But pain is an emotion that is felt (as is pleasure). Emotions such as cheerfulness and anguish are related to the body and are merely species of pleasure and pain.

    In the scholium of Proposition 11 in part III, Spinoza says desire, pleasure, and pain are the three primary emotions and others rise from the three of these.

    One’s mind is fixed on a topic when he or she finds it unusual, or has no knowledge or previous connection with the subject; this is known as wonder. Contempt is the opposite of wonder, where the mind focuses on traits that are not involved with the topic they are thinking about rather than the traits that are.

    Love is pleasure triggered by an external cause (i.e. a person), in order to love, the person must be able to decide freely that they love something. Hatred is pain triggered by an external cause.
    Inclination, devotion, hope, confidence, joy, etc. are all related to pleasure but have different causes. Aversion, fear, despair, disappointment, pity, etc. are differing types of pain which can have a number of causes to trigger the emotion. Definitions 6 through 31 are all directly related to the emotions pleasure and pain.

    Longing is a desire to possess something, it is triggered by memories of the thing one longs for that has given us pleasure in the past. Longing will most likely bring pain. Gratitude is the desire of love in which we want to benefit someone who has in some way benefited us. Benevolence the desire to benefit someone we pity. Anger the desire to inflict pain upon the person we hate.

    Emotions 32 through 48 are all driven by desires.

    The general definition of emotions explains that emotions are confused ideas that only allow the mind to focus on one thing (the thing triggering the emotion and emotion itself) but also causes a transition in the body. When the body reacts to an emotion it is usually with facial expressions, crying, laughter, internal changes, etc.

    Each of the emotions talked about are born from the three primary emotions: desire, pleasure, and pain. All emotions are caused by events, memories, or some stimuli, which directs the mind and results in some physical transition in the body.

  20. Melanie Hoskins
    Philosophy 1200
    Spinoza Ethics – Part 4

    Spinoza’s part four of Ethics aims to explain how man has no true control over emotions (he assigns the term bondage), and also the positive and negative aspects of emotions. He states that “a man at the mercy of his emotions is not his own master but is a subject to fortune…” He continues on to explain the origins of the words imperfect and perfect, saying that anything that is complete is recognizable by the author and the audience and therefore perfect. On the other hand, if something is unrecognizable and not completed in its entirety, it is imperfect. Over time we have altered the meaning of these words to mean perfection is when something is recognizable as a standard model, any other variant is imperfect.
    Spinoza says that man believes that nature serves no purpose if there is no end result, and therefore if nature produces a variant from the general model it is considered imperfect. Nature or God doesn’t act with an end, and also doesn’t exist for an end; instead the “final cause” is simply desire for a starting point. He then goes on to explain good and bad are modes of thinking through comparison. Good then becomes human nature that we can set for ourselves and bad is anything that prevents us from creating the ideal model.

    “There is in Nature no individual thing that is not surpassed in strength and power by some other thing. Whatsoever thing there is, there is another more powerful by which the said thing can be destroyed.”

    Proposition 1-4:
    -Here Spinoza discusses the fact that man is apart of nature, and that our existence is limited by external factors.
    -He says it is impossible to not be a part of nature and therefore impossible to not undergo the changes of nature.

    Proposition 5-14:
    -Our emotions do not persist on us existing but instead rely on external causes in comparison with our own power.
    -An emotion can stay fixed within a person and cannot be destroyed unless another stronger emotion takes over.
    -Emotions that we believe to be inevitable are stronger than emotions that are possible, or that we may potentially feel.
    -No emotion can be considered good or bad, it is simply a feeling.

    Proposition 15- 18:
    -Desire that arises from knowledge of good and evil can be eliminated by other emotions, and can be eliminated more easily by the desire of the present.
    -Desires that arise from pleasure will always be stronger than desire that is come from pain.

    Proposition 19-25:
    -Every man aims to be or avoids what they consider to be good and what they consider to be evil.
    -The more he seeks to maintain his existence the more virtue he obtains.
    -No one can desire to be happy, they can only exist.
    -Everyone acts to preserve themselves, or being. No one maintains their existence for something besides themselves.

    Proposition 26- 41:
    -The mind can only be measured to the extent to which it understands; therefore the highest good is the knowledge of God, and the mind’s highest virtue would be to know god.
    -Anything that is different from us cannot be either good or evil because it has nothing in common with us and therefore we cannot decide its nature. It also cannot be considered evil for what it does share in common with us.
    -Things that agree in nature are believed to agree with respect to their power, and because man is subject to passive emotion they would not be considered to be in agreement with nature.
    -Everyone seeks to pursue virtue, and everyone can enjoy virtue equally. If you act from virtue you are acting through reason.
    -The more an individual pursues virtue, the more he or she will desire it for others, and ultimately posses a greater knowledge of God.

  21. Philosophy 1200
    Ryan Jones

    Spinoza – Ethics
    Part IV: Of Human Bondage or the Strength of the Emotions

    Spinoza begins his Preface by saying that bondage is, “man’s lack of power to control and check the emotions”. If an individual is at the mercy of their emotions then they are not in rational control, therefore they may pursue a worse action even though they know better. Nature does not act to complete a final goal; Nature acts to exist and exists to act. We, as part of Nature, also behave in likewise fashion: we act to exist and exist to act, neither acting nor existing for an end. There is no beginning or ending to our existing nor to our acting.

    We are tied to Nature through the necessary things that are required to preserve the self. All of our actions strive to do what is good, that which gives us pleasure, and stay away from what we deem bad, that which brings us pain, so that we can distinguish between the two in better hopes that we can preserve the self. Man’s very essence, his nature, is virtue in so far as man has the power to bring about that which can be understood through the laws of his own nature.

    His axiom follows: No thing that is not surpassed in strength and power by some other thing. This means that everything can be destroyed by another that is more powerful. His third proposition later refers back to this when he says that man has limited power than is surpassed infinitely by external causes.

    Spinoza then begins his propositions by saying that what we believe to be true through our senses can not be annulled by the presence of truth in reality, for he uses our perceptual distance from of the sun vs. the actual distance to prove this idea true.

    Propositions 2 through 14 deal with the strength and feebleness of human emotions and how they can be checked or destroyed only by stronger emotions. He states that we are all a part of nature and can not be conceived independently of other parts. Proposition 8 should also be noted: “Knowledge of good and evil is nothing other than the emotion of pleasure or pain in so far as we are conscious of it.”

    Propositions 15 through 18 deal with desire. He later brings up desire in propositions 60 and 61 where he says that desire that arises from reason cannot be excessive. Back in proposition 18 however, he says that the desire for pleasure is stronger than the desire for pain and that there is also nothing more advantageous to human beings than other human beings. He outlines the basis of virtue which is the conatus to preserve one’s being and that happiness consists in a man’s being able to preserve his own being. Proposition 19 explains human nature in simple terms, “Every man, from the laws of his own nature, necessarily seeks or avoids what he judges to be good or evil.”

    Spinoza explains which emotions are good and which ones are bad, essentially expanding from proposition 19 onward through proposition 49. At proposition 50 until proposition 66, Spinoza explains which emotions arise from reason (self-contentment and approbation for example) and which emotions are opposed to reason (such as humility and repentance). From reason we aim for the greater of two good and choose the lesser of two evils. He mentions in the Scholium of Proposition 54 that to be free is to live by the guidance of reason, and this idea of a “free man” is the basis for propositions 67 to 73.

    With the propositions over, Spinoza writes an appendix to concisely sum up the propositions within a few pages without the proofs and logical deductions. Here, he gives more support for his way to enjoy living a rational life. Spinoza makes a couple of interesting points here, saying that, “…as an absolute rule, it is permissible by the highest natural right for everyone to do what he judges to be his own advantage” (Ax.8) and “…men’s hearts are conquered not by arms but by love and nobility.” (Ax.11)

  22. Spinoza, Ethics, Book V

    In Book V of Spinoza’s ‘Ethics’, Spinoza begins by stating that he is to contrast the life of the wise man v.s. the ignorant man.

    Initially, he begins by refuting an idea of Descartes — that the Pineal gland is responsible for encompassing the soul within the corporeal body. Spinoza says that this is a tad ludicrous (after insulting Descartes), and questions how this gland is to stay suspended within the brain, affected not by external, corporeal forces, yet moved by passions? For Spinoza, this makes no sense (as it shouldn’t), and Spinoza immediately rejects this theory.

    Here, I’ll solely explain my interpretations of Book V’s Prepositions, as best I can, and hope for the best.

    I’ll spare us all writing out the actual preposition, for we’ve SURELY all read it!!!!!!

    Proposition One: Here, Spinoza says that the affections of the body are arranged and connected in the body in the same manner as they are in the mind. This, I interpret to mean that the desires of one’s body rely completely on the understanding of their consequences, just as ideas of the mind rely on knowledge of consequence.

    Proposition Two: Spinoza says that, should we remove an external cause which grants us pleasure/pain, we too, remove the pleasure or pain, seeing as these ideas of pleasure or pain are relative to that which caused it. This can be re-worded to simply say that should one remove the cause of something, one, too, removes the consequence of something (emotion being the consequence).

    Proposition Three: A passive emotion (a confused idea), is no longer confused once we develop a clear understanding of it. This is self evident. However, this goes to say that once we develop an understanding of our emotions, we then, too, develop a sense of control over them, for “the more it is known to us, the more it is within our control.”

    Proposition Four: what is common to all things can only be conceived adequately, thus anything the body feels — which is, naturally, a part of nature — can be understood adequately, as nature is common to all things.

    Thus, men naturally have the ability to understand their emotions completely. Spinoza then says this is vital, as by understanding what you want, you can, in turn, eliminate what you don’t want/don’t need to achieve what you want. By doing this, you can essentially free yourself of passive desires, and are closer to the path of reason.

    Proposition Five: an emotion we have for something free, rather than necessary, possible, or contingent is the greatest emotion. By this, I understand that Spinoza means that we either despise or love something solely for its own nature, and not from the benefits or consequences it grants. This is greatest, then, because we love it solely for it, and do not account for external factors in our love of it.

    Proposition Six: if the mind understands all things as governed by necessity, it will have greater control over the emotions. I feel this is self evident, in the sense that should we realize something to be unnecessary, and also should we be of rational thought and aim towards ultimate self preservation, we can deem unnecessary things as unnecessary and waste no time striving for things that will not aid in our self preservation, which Spinoza says is power.

    Proposition Seven: emotions which are formed from reason are more powerful than those formed from the absence of something, as reason is forever constant (should one truly possess it) and likewise, emotions that are contrary to this will eventually adapt themselves more and more to the point that they are the same (this is Axiom 1, V).

    Proposition Eight: The more causes something has, the greater the emotion in their regard will be. I find this to be self evident, in the sense that should something necessarily yield a reaction, numerous things yielding one sole reaction must necessarily be greater, as it encompasses a myriad of actions.

    Proposition Nine: an emotion caused by a myriad of things is less than that of an emotion caused by one sole thing. I understand this to mean that it is harder to focus on a myriad of things, which in turn also make the emotion harder to focus on, rather than one sole thing in which the mind can completely conceptualize and focus in on.

    Proposition Ten: emotions that aren’t contrary to our nature, in turn, do not hinder our ability to understand and conceptualize. Therefore, should our ability to understand not be hindered by emotions that are not contrary to our nature, through our understanding of them we can arrange them according to the order of the intellect.

    This, I believe Spinoza says, makes it so that we are not easily affected by “bad emotions”. By having our emotions arranged properly, we can set in place a guideline to life. i.e. we can live with the idea of which emotion is best, and in turn strive to achieve it (through whatever process we deem, through reason, can).

    Proposition Eleven: This preposition I find to be self evident: the more causes something has, the more frequently it will be caused. This is self evident, as should something have multiple causes, there is a greater chance that it will be caused.

    Proposition Twelve: This preposition, too, I find to be self evident, in the sense that if we understand something we can in turn relate things to it with greater ease. If one were not to fully understand something, one would have a difficult time trying to relate it to something else, or vice versa, in the sense that we do not fully understand what it entails and therefore do not fully understand its interactions or relations with/to other things.

    Proposition Thirteen: I feel this preposition falls under the same nature as Pr. 11.

    Proposition Fourteen: anything that exists exists necessarily within God, therefore all the affections of the body, which are a part of nature (God), necessarily, too, exist within God and can be in turn related to God.

    Proposition Fifteen: Should one understand himself, and in turn understand his emotions (i.e. what he desires), he shall love God, as he’ll understand that within God exists what he loves, and likewise love God for this.

    Proposition Sixteen: This love of God is bound to hold chief place in the mind, in the sense that it is directly related to understanding one’s self and emotions. So, should one understand one’s emotions and desires, naturally it will hold chief place in the mind for it will be intricately woven in one’s daily actions in the pursuit of self-preservation.

    Proposition Seventeen: God is without passive emotion, as all ideas related to God are, by numerous prepositions, adequate. The second half of this preposition states that God feels no emotion, and I feel this, too, to be self evident, for God is not a transitive being, but rather a totality of existence. Naturally, then, a totality cannot feel emotion for it is not a being — it is a totality of beings. Although the beings in which the totality comprises may feel emotion, the totality itself cannot, and thus God cannot feel emotion.

    Proposition Eighteen: “Nobody can hate god”. This, I find rather hard to believe. If, by God, Spinoza means (as he has in the entire Ethics) Nature, then I feel this preposition is rather invalid. Should it be reworded as “the rational man cannot hate God”, then I’d agree with this, but as it stands this seems rather silly.

    Spinoza defines hatred as “pain accompanied by the idea of an external cause”, and I disagree that one could not, by this definition, hate nature. Consider, for example, somebody in a depressed state. Whatever the cause be that has lead them to this state (which, too, by Spinoza’s own philosophy was unavoidable), has rendered their perceptions of the world to be in rather grim standings. They no longer feel long-lasting pleasure, and feel as though they are surrounded by sorrow. In this day and age, after hearing of numerous incidents of suicide and manic depression, I don’t feel as though this is too ludicrous of an example to suppose.

    Now, consider that they have deemed that their toils outweigh any of pleasures they are to feel in life. Naturally, one would realize that all things felt are directly related to instances which prompt a reaction, or, to rephrase: every action has a reaction. Nobody feels pain simply because, nor do they feel anything at all simply because. One, depressed or not, normally realizes the causes of one’s emotions, and in turn either blames or rejoices in these causes, should they be irrational. So, should one deem that the causes of grief present within their life outweigh the causes of joy, it seems only natural to hate the causes of things in general, as things are viewed to generally cause more pain than they do pleasure. Believing this, then, it seems relatively fair to assume that one could hate God, or nature, with the belief that God/Nature is comprised of things that, while are are capable of providing pleasurable experiences, generally yield those that inflict us with grief. The idea that one cannot hate God/Nature is too, I feel, rejected by the idea of suicide. Whether or not it be justified, in Spinoza’s mind, I feel as though this is an aspect that pokes a very large hole in this proposition.

    One cannot hate pleasure, as to hate pleasure would contradict the definition of pleasure, itself. And while pleasure is an aspect of God, it is not the entirety of God. Though, in God, all things are infinite, should the irrational being fail to see this, one could fall under the illusion that the toils of life greatly outweigh the joys, and by my rationale above be led to the conclusion that life simply isn’t worth the ups and downs. Perhaps, then, this person could be lead to the idea, due to this hatred of totality in spite of minute blissful aspects, that suicide is one’s best course of action.

    Killing one’s self due to the idea that sorrow outweighs joy, and hating the totality of things with the belief that sorrow is its main component, I feel completely refutes this preposition, as to hate the part of God which one feels is the most prominent could lead one to hate the totality, under the pretense that the minute aspects of joy simply cannot outweigh the overwhelming senses of sorrow they believe they are greeted with.

    Now, should Spinoza have rephrased this to “the rational man” cannot hate God, I’d agree, for the rational man would see the error in the ways listed above, and in turn realize that by hating a portion of something one does not hate its totality. But, should the irrational man be blind to this — overwhelmed with emotion — I feel it is possible to hate God. Whether or not it is rational is irrelevant, for I believe, by this logic, it is still possible to hate God.

    I feel at this point my summary is already a tad long, and thus this concludes the first half of my interpretation of Spinoza’s Book V. I had hoped to do the entire Book V, but we’d be here all period, at this rate.

  23. Leibniz: On the Ultimate Origin of Things. First Half (p41-45).

    Leibniz opens this section by making a claim that “the One Being who rules the universe not only rules the world, but also fashions or creates it […] and therefore he is the ultimate reason for things” (p41). He begins to explain himself by offering the example of a geometry book. While we can “explain a present copy of the book from a previous book” (p41), we can never follow that chain to a complete explanation of why it exists. No matter what chain we follow it will never lead us to a complete understanding “for why […] there is any world at all, and why it is the way it is” (p42). He explains that while we can imagine the world as eternal, we do so by using these successions and therefore cannot find a reason for the world. Leibniz states that “the reason must be found elsewhere. For in eternal things, even if there is no cause, we must still understand there to be a reason” (p42). He claims that in anything in our world that persists has its reason as nature or essence itself.
    Leibniz thinks now that the “reasons for the world must lie hidden” in something other than the succession of things, so we must look past “physical or hypothetical necessity […] to something which is [an] absolute or metaphysical necessity. He defines these as “something for which a reason cannot be given” (p42). It is here that he makes the claim that while the world is physically or hypothetically necessary it is not metaphysically necessary. Leibniz combines his earlier reasons and argues:
    “The ultimate ground must be in something which is of metaphysical necessity, and since the reason for an existing thing must come from something that actually exists, it follows that there must exist some one entity of metaphysical necessity, that is, there must be an entity whose essence is existence, and therefore something must exist which differs from the plurality of things, which differs from the world” (p42).
    This relates back to his earlier claim that “the One Being […] is the ultimate reason for things” (p41) by explaining that there must be some kind of being whose essence is to exist. It explains how our physically necessary world is rooted in something that is metaphysically necessary while not being necessary in itself.
    To further connect the idea that physically necessary things are rooted in a metaphysical entity, Leibniz states that “we must first acknowledge that since something rather than nothing exists, [then] there is a certain urge for existence” (p43). He further explains that “essence in and of itself strives for existence… it follows from this that all possibles […] strive with equal right for existence in proportion to the amount of essence or reality […] they contain” (p43).
    From here Leibniz explains how physical necessity is derived from metaphysics and comes, again, to the conclusion that the world, while not metaphysically necessary, is physically necessary or determined. He points out a common argument against him by stating “…this comparison between a certain determining metaphysical mechanism and the physical mechanism of heavy bodies […] is faulty insofar as the heavy bodies striving actually exist, while possibilities or essences […] are imaginary or fictional.” (p44) He refutes this claim by stating that those things are not fictitious but exist in a certain realm of idea, namely “in God himself, the source of every essence and of the existence of the rest” (p44). He re-states again that since the reason for things cannot be found in an actual series that they must be sought in metaphysical necessities.
    Leibniz ends this section of reason by re-stating his ideas. He explains:
    “…existing things cannot derive from anything but existing things […] so it is necessary that eternal truths have their existence in a certain absolute or metaphysically necessary subject, that is, in God, through whom those things which would otherwise be imaginary are realized” (p45).

  24. Leibniz – The Ultimate Origination of Things

    Leibniz starts by professing his belief that there is some “One Being” who rules the universe and also creates it. He says the “One Being” is above the world, extramundane, and therefore the ultimate reason for things.

    Leibniz then states “For we cannot find in any of the individual things, or even in the entire collection and series of things, a sufficient reason for why they exist.” He then proceeds to clarify by providing an example. Leibniz says “Let us suppose that a book on the elements of geometry has always existed, one copy made from another. It is obvious that although we can explain a present copy of the book from the previous book from which it was copied, this will never lead us to a complete explanation, no matter how many books back we go, since we can always wonder why there have always been such books, why these books were written, and why they were written the way they were.” I think this argument is akin to “if God created earth, who created God? And who created God’s creator? And so on..” which could go on forever without reaching a conclusion. This seems to be what Leibniz is trying to illustrate.

    Building on the idea that thinking back to all previous copies of a book will get you no closer to a complete explanation, Leibniz says that if a solution cannot be found using this method of looking at creation, then the answer must be somewhere else.

    Leibniz states “For eternal things, even if there is no cause, we must still understand there to be a reason.” He believes that the reason is the nature or essence itself and concludes by saying “From this it follows that even if we assume the eternity of the world, we cannot escape the ultimate and extramundane reason for things, God.”

    He then goes on to say that we need to abandon the idea that everything has physical or hypothetical necessity and believe that something can exist in the metaphysical world, for which a reason cannot be given.

    Next, Leibniz asks us to “acknowledge that since something rather than nothing exists, there is a certain urge for existence” and that all things inside the realm of possibility strive with equal right for existence.

    Using this idea he then surmises that “from this it is obvious that of the infinite combinations of possibilities and possible series, the one that exists is the one through which the most essence or possibility is brought into existence.” meaning the possibility that is most possible is the one that exists.

    He elaborates on this by using an example, saying “If you were to go from one point to another, without being directed to use a particular path, the path chosen will be the easiest or the shortest one. And so, assuming that a some time being is to prevail over nonbeing, or that there is a reason why something rather than nothing is to exist (it is easier to exist than not exist), or that something is to pass from possibility to actuality… it follows that there would be as much as there possibly can be, given the capacity of time and space.”

    Leibniz claims that physical necessity is drawn from metaphysical necessity and states that “indifference arises from ignorance, and the wiser one is, the more one is determined to do that which is most perfect.”

  25. Leibniz, “The Ultimate Origin of Things”:
    Monadology in Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays

    Summary and explanations:
    Paragraphs 68-74

    68. He talks of how complex life is. When we think of a pond of fish, it is so much more than just a pond with fish in it, it has many other components, both living and nonliving things. However we can think of a pond of fish, and the rest of the components contributing to the pond are not easily perceived by us.

    69. He states that there is no chaos or confusion in the universe except in appearance. So things may appear chaotic from a distance, but in fact everything has an order if you look at it closely.

    70. “Each living body has a dominant entelechy” so everything living has a potential or a purpose. Also each living thing can be broken down into smaller parts each with their own entelechy. Such as an animal that has limbs with the purpose to move and support, and with the potential to run, hunt, rest, etc.

    71. It is important to remember that each soul does NOT have mass or matter. “For all bodies are in a perpetual flux, like rivers, and parts enter into them and depart from them continually.” So each body has a soul, but the soul has no mass. The soul is not corporal and parts come and go from them again and again.

    72. Every soul is attached to its body with the one exception of God. Every other soul cannot be detached from its body; even animals that exhibit metamorphosis continue to have the same soul. There is no metempsychosis/ transmission of the soul, therefore also no reincarnation after death. “There are no completely separated souls, nor spirits without bodies” The soul can change little by little, as does the body over time.

    73. No total generations or “perfect death” (death does not separate the soul.) Generations are “developments and growths” and deaths are “enfoldings and diminutions”. Generation being procreation, so at no point is the soul separate from the body.

    74. There is some “preformation” regarding conception, since no souls are ever created by chaos or putrefaction, but rather from an entelechy, new life comes with intention and purpose. Always from seeds, which were there before conception, so that means the soul was there before conception. So conception, and metamorphosis are transformations, and souls originate from organic bodies already containing souls.

  26. Point-form notes
    (pg. 68-71)

    – the simplest of substances
    – they are “the elements of things” (68)
    – not extendable, shaped, or divisible, since they do not have any distinguishable parts
    – monads have characteristics, and they are distinguishable from each other
    *makes sense because if all monads were the same and they form composites, there would be no reason to assume that composites are made up of more than one monad and not shaped from a single one (like Spinoza said was the case with only one substance)
    – they do not begin or end naturally, so they are only created or annihilated
    – they are subject to changes because of their characteristics, but they cannot be changed internally by external forces (they “have no windows” (68))
    – it must follow that “the monad’s natural changes come from an internal principle”(69)

    – is a “collection, or aggregate, of simples” (68)
    – composites can “begin or end through their parts” (68)

    – since monads are subject to CHANGE, and since all change “is produced by degrees” (69), it logically follows that when a change occurs within a monad, aspects of the unchanged version remain present in the monad as well
    – this means that in the changed monad there is a “multitude in the unity” (68) * i.e.: what I understood to mean multiple states of being (which Leibniz calls PROPERTIES or AFFECTIONS) within the monad after and during the change
    – this multitude results in PERCEPTION
    – “perception… is inexplicable in terms of mechanical reasons” (70)

    Leibniz mentions the Cartesians, pointing out that regarding the concept of PERCEPTION, the Cartesians have “failed badly, since they took no account of the perceptions that we do not apperceive” (69) – i.e.: Leibniz is saying that perception is not conditional to conscious recognition. Monads are possessive of perception, and so are composites, but the composite might not recognize that there are perceptions present within the parts of which it is comprised. This does not mean the perception is non-existent.

    He goes on to prove that apperception is not a necessary precursor to perception, using the analogy of human thought. Leibniz argues that we, as humans, are able to apperceive that even our simplest thoughts have complexity. This concept can be applied to the human soul, which is a simple substance, and is not apperceived in a tangible way, but is complex. This can therefore also be applied to all simple substances – monads. They are complex, and so they have perception, despite the fact that they do not have apperception, nor do we apperceive them.

    { Appetites: I do not fully understand}

    Leibniz distinguishes perception from sensation (perhaps to expand further on his ideas about apperception/perception? (70)) and uses an analogy of fainting to explain the difference between perception alone (during unconsciousness), and perception which we apperceive while we are conscious (71).

  27. Sherri Payne (Leibniz, the Monadology, paragraphs 75-90)

    Mostly talking about the soul, the physical body, and God
    • Leibniz defines spermatic as animals raised by conception to the larger levels of animals (75)
    • “small number of Elect that pass onto the larger scale” – survival of the fittest?
    • The soul is indestructible (77)
    • An animal itself is also indestructible because even though it “perishes in part” (decomposes) it becomes a part of the earth and therefore is still there
    • “The soul follows its own laws and the body also follows its own” – the soul and body are different from each other but cannot be separated (78)
    • The soul and the body are at harmony with each other (78-79)
    • “Souls act according to the laws of final causes, through appetitions, ends, and means. Bodies act according to the laws of efficient causes or of motions. And these two kingdoms, that of efficient causes and that of final causes, are in harmony with each other” – The body works with physical laws such as gravity and the soul drives wants, desires, etc and they work together in harmony (79)
    • Leibniz thinks it is impossible that bodies act as if there were no souls, but, believe the soul can act as if there was no body and both act as if influenced by each other (81)
    • “souls begin only with the world and do not end any more than the world does” – the soul lives as long as the universe does, it outlives your physical body (82)
    • Animals believe once one is conceived the soul is given reason, before this the soul is only ordinary or sensitive (82)
    • The difference between the ordinary soul and mind (also known as rational soul) is souls are “living mirrors or images of the universe of creatures” but “minds are also images of the divinity itself” – The soul is an image of ordinary things and the mind is an image of God (83)
    • Relates an inventor to his machine to God as the creator of creatures (84)
    • “all minds must make up the city of God” – The rational soul believes in God? (86)
    • The world is God’s greatest work (86)
    • “he would have none of his greatness and goodness were not known and admired by minds” – God wouldn’t have a reason to exist if no one believed in him? (86)
    • “Gods wisdom and power is evident everywhere” – God is a part of everything (86)
    • We cannot understand the things that God does because we are finite and finite beings cannot understand infinite thinking (85-86)
    • This is the best world we can have otherwise God wouldn’t have chosen it (85)
    • “God considered as the monarch of the divine city of minds” – God is the head of rational souls (87)
    • Sins will get their penalty and noble actions with receive their rewards, even if they have to wait awhile, have to suffer a little to truly feel the pleasure from the reward (89)
    • God should be our will and “he alone can make us happy” (90)

  28. Pg 74-48 or 46-66

    Starting on 46 so the notes can have a clear progression.

    46-47: God is determined to be the source of eternal truth, as these truths are dependent on his understanding of them but are also eternal in the sense that they are not altered on his whim as had been suggested by Deschartes. As such he is the originator of the universe and the first simple substance (monad). The infinite multitude of monads is therefore ‘created’ from the interactions of the primary monad, in its necessary perfection, and the limited receptivity (what I took to mean understanding, of the creatures in their imperfection.

    48: God’s perfect, infinite attributes are described; power: the source of all things, knowledge; the diversity of all ideas and will; what brings about changes and products as determined by the principle of best. The other monads are determined to also possess these qualities but in limited amounts proportional to the perfection/closeness to God they individually possess.

    49-50: Here a creature’s perfection is, as compared to God, dependent on how it acts or is acted upon by another creature. Perfection being acting upon another and imperfection being acted upon. Action in all its forms can therefore be attributed to monads, with a distinction made between action (caused by monads of distinct perceptions) and passion (caused by monads of confused perceptions).

    51-52: Given the nature of monads and action, and that monads are not capable of a physical interaction, the action of one monad on another is a direct result of God’s influence. As it is through God’s influence that the action between monads occurs, how this action affects creatures and whether this action is viewed as active or passive is dependent on the flawed understanding of said creatures.

    Having determined God as not only the source of monads/existence but also the driving force behind them, we begin exploring what this means for our universe.

    53: God, knowing all things, knows all choices and thus all universes. Therefore (as he is the cause of it) there must be a reason that guides His choices, leading to this being THE Universe that exists.

    54: This reason can be described as fitness or as the perfection possessed by the potential world. Additionally, the more perfection a world contains the more right to exist it possesses.

    55: By definition this causes the existence of the best. An existence that must exist, as God’s attributes would allow no other.

    56: This existence implies a connection between all created things to one another. Thus all simple substances possess relations that express all the others and each simple substance is ‘a perpetual, living mirror of the universe’.

    57: Using the analogy of a city seen from multiple points of view appearing entirely different, this is extrapolated to monads views of the universe, giving the appearance of multiple universes while there are only perspectives of a single one.

    58: These multiple points of view are what makes obtaining any amount of perfection possible by giving the greatest variety (of views) in the greatest amount in the most ordered way possible (analogous to God’s perspective of the Universe).
    Having worked through his proof of this being the best of all possible universes, Leibniz addresses some critics of his theories and uses this to segue into matters of the body and the soul.

    59: Leibniz describes his theory as the only (demonstrated) one that properly describes the greatness of God. Dismissing his critics (Bayle in particular) that claim he over-represents God’s influence as they cannot disprove his theories concerning the effect of all things in the universe on all other things (universal harmony/the living mirrors).

    60: The influence of God is not only unable to be disproved it can be seen in the Universe how things could not be otherwise. Monads, as an attribute, are representative and as God regards and regulates each one cannot be said to only represent a part of things. Thus each most be representative of the whole (Universe) but limited in their perception of these connections (as knowing all would make each monad a God onto itself).

    61: In this sense of Universal Harmony both simple and composite substances could be considered analogous as everything is a plenum (everything affecting everything else). That communication can extend to any distance immediately follows from this, as does the idea that, if able to see/understand all these infinite connections one could know not only everything that is happening but all that has or will happen. Thus a soul, in contact with all things, can only know what is distinctly represented in itself (as anything else would be to know infinity).

    Having established the infinite yet limited nature of the monad or soul we begin to explore its interaction with the physical world through its inter-existence with the body.

    62: While a monad can be described through its interaction with the Universe as a whole, it is more accurate to describe it though its interactions with the body which is most affected by it and is gifted entelechy (potential) through. Thus the body represents all things through their inter-connectedness in the plenum and the soul represents all things as well through its connection to the body.

    63*: Distinctions are made between an animal, a body belonging to a soul, and a living being, a body belonging to a soul also gifted entelechy. Additionally the body, as it belongs to a monad, is an ordered existence down as it now belongs to the Universe which is a perfectly ordered existence.

    64: Every monad owned body is to be considered a divine machine, as each individual part must function as its own existence; down to the infinitely small as each part is in itself part of the ordered Universe. Thus the distinction between divine and mortal is emphasized as anything we create is, at some level merely a collection of parts, serving no purpose in themselves.

    65: God is perfect in this divine creation, each part its own entity, as it could not otherwise represent the whole of the Universe.

    66: From this we can see everything, all parts of matter as possessing monads.

    Distinction of entelechy/monads/souls.

    Argument for infinite universes.

  29. Matthew Randell

    Leibniz: Discourse on Metaphysics

    1. Leibniz first establishes God as an absolutely perfect being. Then, goes on to say that all perfections are a result of God. He begins to define “perfection” by saying that “forms or natures that are not capable of a highest degree are not perfections.” I interpret this as meaning, in order for something to be perfect, it must first have the potential to be perfect. He says that, because God is perfect and infinite, his power and knowledge are also perfect and infinite; they have no limits. Leibniz briefly brings up the idea of God’s morality, saying that he always chooses the perfectly moral act. If this act isn’t understood to be perfectly moral, it is only because God’s reasons are beyond human comprehension.

    2 & 3. Paragraphs two and three expand on the idea of God’s morality raised in the first paragraph. Leibniz explains that God’s decisions are not to be deemed morally good just because they are the actions of God, but because they are actually morally good decisions in themselves; God chooses to act in a morally good way. This idea separates God from any kind of determinism. Leibniz says that there is a reason why God chooses to act the way he does, the reason being that the act is morally good. If God was to act without any reason, then he would not be worthy of praise, as any action he chose would be praised, regardless of the reason.

    4. Here Leibniz says that, in order to truly love God, one must accept the fact that his will is always inclined to do what is morally good. If something initially appears not to be morally good, it is because God is planning a positive outcome for the future. Leibniz writes that we should not simply sit back and wait for God’s will to fall on us, but that we should “act in accordance with what we presume to be the will of God, insofar as we can judge it, trying with all our might to contribute to the general good.” And, if this results in a negative outcome, it is not because God did not want us to act as we did; God asks only that we act with good intentions.

    5. In this paragraph Leibniz argues that we should do our best, given what we have. He gives examples of tradesmen performing to the best of their abilities, given their limited supplies. He says that we should simply accept that God’s will always has our best interest in mind, that his workings transcend any human understanding; we should accept God’s will on faith.

    6 & 7. In paragraphs six and seven, Leibniz says that God never acts in an un-orderly fashion. There is no distinction between an ordinary/normal act and an extraordinary act with God. An act which may be perceived by some to be extraordinary, is merely God acting in a way which seems extraordinary in comparison to his usual customs. However, all of God’s actions conform with his general will. Leibniz then reiterates his justifications of all of God’s actions: if an event is good in itself, then it is because God willed it to be so. But, if an event is evil in itself, it is because God permitted the evil to take place only to allow his will to eventually come into fruition, bringing some greater good.

    8. Here Leibniz says that there are many substances, not just one, but they are all somehow under control of God. For a substance to be recognized as an individual substance, however, all of the substance’s characteristics, its predicates, must be able to be traced back to that same substance. If we cannot differentiate between separate substances, it is not because the substances are not separate, but because we are unable to understand which predicates are contained in which substances. God is the only being who is able to comprehend the origin of all predicates and is therefore the only being capable of distinguishing between all substances.

    9. In chapter 9, Leibniz gives some more rules about substances. He says: two substances can’t be identical in every way except number, a substance “can begin only by creation and end only by annihilation,” a substance can’t be divided into two or joined into one, and that the number of substances does not naturally change. He then goes on to explain how all substances are, in some way, a mirror of God: substances express different perspectives of the universe.

    10. Here, Leibniz discusses the idea of forms (ideal, divine concepts which transcend physical perception). He says that the forms are useless in terms of physics, using a clock as an example of why; the level of “clockness” of a certain clock offers nothing in regards to the understanding of how that clock functions. However, Leibniz does credit the forms as being beneficial in metaphysics, saying, “without it one cannot properly know the first principles or elevate our minds sufficiently well to the knowledge of incorporeal natures and the wonders of God.” In short, understanding the concept of the forms helps in the understanding of a transcendent God.

  30. Marissa Ryan
    Time Reborn
    Lee Smolin
    Book 1

    Smolin begins by talking a bout the nature of falling and how every object falls in a mathematical shape, a parabola. Smolin explains within nature a parabola does not occur perfectly, but has flaws as does everything in nature. It is explained that everything in nature exists within the flow of time, however mathematical objects exist outside time. This leads to the discussion of a world separate from ours, which exists in timelessness. We can learn truths of the timeless realm through reason, however we can make errors in our assumptions. He poses the question that if we seek mathematical knowledge from this other world through reason, is it a form of transcendence, and therefore can it be seen as a religious activity.
    The next chapter discusses the historical reasons behind why the discovery of the ellipse of planetary revolution and the parabola of falling objects on earth came so late. Great minds before Galileo had the tools to discover the mathematical laws behind movement however all movement in the sky was considered divine, or heavenly, and therefore no one questioned how it worked. Once Galileo made his discovery, it paved the way for Newton to put everything together under one law of motion: gravity. He discovered that the force acting on an object that is falling is proportional to the distance from the Earth. He also discovered that without force, something moves only in a straight line, and once a force is acting on an object, it acts to cause acceleration, which it the rate of change of the object’s velocity, or position.
    The next section discusses the “relational and the absolute notions of space.” It is explained that the motion of an object looked at in relation to another object is an example of relative motion. This notion is subject to point of view. Newton proposed an absolute notion of position, meaning that something is moving in relation to “absolute space”. A record of the movement is frozen in time; it remains unchangeable. This freezing of time has philosophical consequences in that it challenges time as a part of nature. Smolin goes on to discuss that a record of movement, which is frozen in time, can be looked at as just a representation, one that is not identical to the motion itself: a pragmatic’s perspective. Or the record can be viewed as “more real” than the motion, a mystic’s view.
    Smolin discusses that when doing an experiment, one must restrict the settings, or isolate the phenomenon, which he calls ‘doing physics in a box’. To study a system in physics, treated as though it were isolated from the rest of the universe, Newton’s laws of motion are used: What is the initial configuration of the system, What is the initial velocity of the system and What are the outside forces the system is subject to being changed by. With these three laws any curve of motion can be predicted before it happens. This is called the ‘Newtonian Paradigm’. From this, time can be seen as removable from any description.
    Pierre-Simon Laplace made an assumption that Newton’s Paradigm can be applied to all life, in such that the future can be predicted. Smolin explains that this theory, determinism, is debated in that it removes the experiment from its narrow conditions and expands the principles to the entire universe. Deterministic theory is like inputting data into a computer, every time the same data is put in the same outcome will be determined. The transformation of the initial configuration into the final configuration is a mathematical fact that is timeless. Smolin explains it is possible to look at it as a reversible process: if the final configurations are put in, the computer will give you the initial conditions. This shows that Newtonian theory is time-reversible, meaning that through this perspective, there is no difference between the past and the future.
    The next section discusses Einstein’s theory of relativity of simultaneity. This determines that two events being observed are determined to either occur simultaneously or not depending on the viewer. If the events are affected by one another, they are casually related; otherwise they are not casually related. The principle of relativity states that speed is a relative quantity that is based on the observer, therefore there is no right answer as to whether the observed actions are occurring simultaneously, and no truth to ‘now’. Smolin explains the theory of a block universe, stating that all of time occurs all at once, the entire history of the universe is one picture connected through casual events. A statement was made that the universe is changing through expansion, but Einstein’s ‘cosmological constant’ put forth a suggestion that the contraction caused by gravity is balanced by ‘dark matter’, which counters gravity’s pull.
    The last section talks about the theory of quantum state, which defines the universe in terms of possibilities. The ‘Schrodinger Equation’ explains how states change in time. The problem faced by quantum mechanics is that the clock to measure time must be outside the universe. The debate around this was somewhat solved by Julian Barbour who posited that everything is a collection of moments frozen in time. “Each moment has the form of a configuration of the universe.” They all exist in a heap, a pile of moments, no one coming before the other. Our experience of time passing is simply our experience of moments and our impression that a moment followed the previous one based on our memory. His theory of a timeless quantum cosmology allows for an understanding of the past, present and future being as one, and for our fears of death to be based on a misconception.

  31. Lee Smolin is a theoretical physicist who has made many influential contributions to search for a unification of physics.

    His book “Time Reborn” deals with the simple question of what time is.

    The current scientific understanding of time is that time is not “real” and he feels that’s a fundamental flaw, one that could be corrected by taking time serious as a real quantity.

    What he suggests is that instead of laws of physics, that eternal and everlasting, physicists, instead treat physics in a more “relational” way, in which they are viewed as dynamic systems of behaviors.

    Lee takes on the seemingly puzzling fact that mathematical truth is eternal and timeless, while the world that physicists are trying to describe with that mathematics isn’t.

    Lee argues that our present procedures must fail when we attempt to apply them to describe the whole universe. They fail because we’re presently treating the passing of time as emergent, but as emergent in a fundamentally timeless universe. Only if we abandon the conviction, held by the vast majority of physicists, that this is the correct procedure, then can we understand the fundamental nature of reality.

    For Smolin there is no timeless world and there are no timeless laws. Time, he says, is real and nothing can escape it. According to Smolin, when it comes to cosmology, the ultimate study of the Universe as a whole, faith in timeless laws has led physicists astray. The laws of physics, he says, evolve just like species in an ecosystem. The laws must live within time like everything else and that means they must change. In essence, Smolin claims, there is no eternal, Platonic realm of ideals and there never has been.

  32. *** this is my summary from October, because it doesn’t seem to have been posted when I tried back then.

    Saint Augustine – Confessions Book VI
    Laura Fallon

    The book begins with Augustine discussing how his mother, Monica, followed him to Milan. While Augustine had not yet become a Catholic, he was headed on the right path. He explains that she did not seem overjoyed at this step in the right direction, as he thought she would, because she knew in her heart and had faith in Christ that Augustine would become a baptized Christian before the end of her life. He then goes on to discuss how his mother brought offerings to the church, both food and drink, but when told these were not allowed, she abstained. Augustine claims she agreed to these customs so readily because she admired and loved Ambrose, the Bishop, so much. Augustine was intrigued by his mother’s unwavering faith and wondered if his future did in fact lie with the church. He explains that Bishop Ambrose spent much of his time tending to the needs of his flock, and the rest of his time fulfilling needs and reading, and therefore did not have time to answer Augustine’s questions or listen to his woes.

    An important part of Augustine’s transition to Christanity came when he realized that believers do not take certain passages of the Bible literally, but instead there is a deeper meaning which one comes to understand with time. He realizes that he has been against the Catholic church due to blind accusations, without truly understanding its beliefs. He then states that while he wants his soul to be healed by belief in what he called the medicines of faith, he feared believing in something which was false. He likens this to someone who has been treated by a bad doctor being afraid to go to another doctor, even though they will be helpful. Augustine then described how he began to understand the modestly in the way the church stuck to faith rather than following with the custom of the time to demand proof of all claims. In other words, he admired their choosing to believe in something which cannot be shown to be true, rather than to be forced to believe in things which are impossible, like in Manichean belief.

    Augustine then discusses how his belief sometimes wavered but he still maintained his faith in God and the Bible. He then recounts a time when he was about to give a speech. He passed a beggar on the street, and noticed he was happy, while Augustine was very nervous and anxious about the impending speech. Had someone asked him if he would rather be happy or anxious, he would have chosen to be happy, but if asked to choose between the happy beggar or his anxious self, he would have chosen himself. He states that this was a stupid choice, as he should not have thought himself better than the beggar for reasons such as being better educated.

    While in Milan, Augustine was often in the company of two friends, named Alypius and Nebridius. Alypius was younger than Augustine, and was one of his students at a time. Alypius was intrigued by “circus games” and public shows, which Augustine saw as foolish. Augustine tried to talk Alypius out of going to these events, and succeeded for the most part. Once, though, Alypius went with friends to one of these events and, while he thought he was strong enough to resist the pleasure and stimulation they would bring, he was drawn in and became very intrigued again. Augustine also recounts a time where Alypius was arrested as a thief, though wrongly so. He states that these experiences had a hand in leading Alypius to the teachings of Catholicism. Both Alypius and Nebridius came to live with Augustine in Milan, and together they looked for truth and guidance.

    Ambrose then goes into a discussion about where and how knowledge and truth can be found. He then discusses how he was putting off his true devotion to the Church because of fear. Augustine worried about the concept of abstinence in the Catholic Church. He wanted to have a wife, and was driven by sexual appetites but Alypius, who had been celibate since adolescence, advised against it, in part because he thought this would ruin their current state of living together and seeking knowledge, and also because sexual relations are looked down upon by the church. Still driven by pleasure, Augustine ignored Alypius’ warnings and continued to desire marriage, even causing Alypius to become somewhat curious about the matter. Augustine was set to marry a girl, however she was too young at the time and he was forced to wait until she was old enough.

    Augustine and his friends had frequent discussions about withdrawing from the social world and living ‘a life of contemplation’ together. Augustine was forced to give up his concubine, the woman whom he slept with occasionally, because of his impending marriage. He was left with a broken heart, as well as a son. After this, he found another woman to fulfill his desires, but he was still unhappy.

    Augustine closes this book by explaining that the less happy he became, and the more sins he committed, the closer he came to God. He also says that he only refrained from sinning even more due to a fear of death and judgment that would surely come with defiance of the church. Finally, he discusses the importance of friends in one’s life, and how he realized that material things could not give him true happiness.

  33. Smolin
    Chapter 12
    Smolin writes about quantum mechanics and how it is considered to be “the most successful theory yet invented” and while he says we rely on quantum mechanics he also believes that it is incomplete. He goes on about the history of quantum mechanics and that scientists are still trying to make sense of it today. Quantum mechanics gives no physical evidence that is occurring nor does it predict precise outcomes needing measurement, observation and information in order to express the theory. Three clues about the nature that experiment has revealed are integral to quantum physics; Incompatible questions, entanglement, and nonlocality. Incompatible questions are being unable to ask, question or receive all the answers about the property making it much different than classical physics. Entanglement is being unable to measure properties because it will create random answers. And Non Locality, Locality is the movement of information from one place to another by a particle wave presumed to travel at light speed or slower. Quantum physics violates this rule. With quantum physics if you study something across the world it will affect its counterpart elsewhere, changing the results. Smolin then goes on to talk about the “Free will theorem” basically claiming that Atoms have no reason for moving in the way they do and that they “choose” to move in a certain way that is uncaused by anything else. And that they are essentially trying to measure how much freedom they get. Smolin says that in order to figure that out you must test identical copies and ask different questions of each in order to figure out the range of freedom each might have.
    Chapter 13
    Particles are linked to hidden relationships to the universe as a whole, so making sense of cosmology is near impossible. He argues that contemporary theorists who believe quantum mechanics is really the information we have about the physical world is falling short. Why can’t we describe and understand the truth of the activity in math. The theorist DeBroglie claimed that the particles followed the wave, pulled to the crest. But because we don’t know where the particles started out we cannot predict where it will be. The hidden variable. DeBroglie’s theory holds that the wave influences the particle, but only from the observer’s position and therefore there must be a preferred observer. The theory does not satisfy the cosmology theory criteria of action being mutual. Ex: the partial does not influence the wave. Smolin tries to formulate an idea similar to the ensemble interpretation which attempts to describe what could be occurring in an experiment by using a collection of imaginary particles. However Smolin used real particles. He called this the real ensemble interpretation. In it he puts forth that identical particles could or would match the other properties. This works if there is faster than light communications simultaneity. So he determines there must be a preferred idea of rest. Motion is absolutely relative to the observer. A choice must be made. Either quantum mechanics is correct with a notion of unpredictability or there truly is preferred motion and rest.
    The universe chooses preferred observers for this favoured state of rest and the observers will see the galaxies evenly distributed with the cosmic microwave background (CMB) more or less equal. This lends itself to a global notion of time. But on a smaller non cosmic scale, this does not work. To tackle these contradictions we look at shape dynamics. If size changes relative to location in the universe comparisons are irrelevant. The theory also has time moving at a single rate throughout the universe. In the end he concludes the overall volume of the universe remains constant and it can be the “Universal Physical Clock”
    Chapter 15
    Smolin set out to support the reality of time. He begins by describing how humans went from the low dimension existence to the earth’s surface. Essentially two dimensions, to a vast dimensional reality though technology, mobile phones and the internet simulate the introduction of many dimensions through the vast network of connections. Remove the connections, “pull the Plug” and we fall back to the basic dimensions. The majority of the dimensions are all illusions and so is space. Several theories including the string theories support this idea. Think of space as a lattice with particles connected to movement of particles from node to node. The more dimensions the more nodes thus the more we are connected.
    Chapter 16
    The law of thermal dynamics does seem to apply to the universe and it has been 13 billion years since the Big Bang, but the universe has not reached equilibrium, yet time moves in a specific manner, ex: the arrow of time as we see in every day events. If the law of thermodynamics were at play over this real movement of time we would have reached equilibrium. Using conventional models of the universe we should be in equilibrium. In such a state of complexity that exists, even to the existence of the human brain, could not happen. They simply would not evolve.
    Chapter 17
    Every moment is unique. No two moments of time can be identical. There cannot be two objects in the universe that are indistinguishable but distinct. Time is real as illustrated in the arrow of time.

  34. Jessica Crummey
    Time Reborn
    Lee Smolin
    Chapters 12-19 (pages 140-271)

    The following chapters deal with how time is real. Lee Smolin tries to give us alternate explanations and structures.

    Chapter 12:
    – Smolin suggests Quantum Mechanics may be a flawed theory/might not be true.
    – It may be an approximation to a deeper unknown theory-cosmological theory, which is looking at the universe as a whole.
    – 3 possible reasons why quantum mechanics is flawed:
    1. It fails to give a physical picture of what goes on in an experiment. In other words, it doesn’t show us what is happening moment by moment.
    2. It doesn’t give us a precise outcome. Rather it gives only probabilities for various things that might happen.
    3. The notions of measurement, observation and information are flawed.
    – He also tells us that atoms are free. They have a free will. Their choice is not determined by past history. No amount of information from their past can help with predicting the outcome. Thus, choices that atoms make are uncaused.

    Chapter 13:
    – Smolin says nature is truly free.
    – Lee Smolin argues in this chapter that we should be able to capture the essence of an electron in conceptual language and in a mathematical framework. In other words, each subatomic process in nature should be understood and comprehended by all human beings and we should be able to express this subatomic process in language and math.
    – He talks about a theory called ensemble interpretation. This interpretation ignores describing what is going on in an individual experiment. Instead it describes an imaginary collection of all things that might be going on in an experiment.

    Chapter 14:
    – Smolin says the universe is arranged in a way that does indeed pick out a preferred state of rest.
    – The universe has a choice of a special global time. It is determined by how matter is distributed across the universe.

    Chapter 15:
    – Smolin states that space is very mysterious. He believes time is real and time is essential for a description of nature.
    – He believes the world is organized in terms of space.
    – Everything is potentially connected to everything else, thus proving a global time.

    Chapter 16:
    – The universe is highly structured and complex.
    – This complexity involves a series of steps.
    – Lots of steps involves ordering of events in time.
    – The universe has a history, which is played out in time.
    – Finally, there exist many different arrows of time in our universe.

    Chapter 17:
    – Our universe can have no exact symmetries. In fact, our universe is one where every moment of time and every place in every moment of time, is unique and distinguishable from any other moment. In other words, no moment repeats.
    – Our universe is becoming more structured and more complex. Evolving complexity means time.

    Chapter 18:
    – There is a boundary to space. This boundary is infinitely far away but nevertheless is a boundary.

    Chapter 19:
    – Smolin talks about meta-law. This is a law that acts on laws rather than directly on particles.
    – This meta-law may act on past laws to produce laws in the future.
    – By allowing laws to evolve in time, we increase our chances of explaining them by hypothesis thus increasing the overall power of science.
    – Nothing in science is certain. We can however construct reasonable arguments for diverse hypothesis.

    – Imagination helps us thrive between opportunity and danger.
    – Everything in nature, including ourselves is time bound and part of a larger, ever evolving system.

  35. Time Reborn: Part 1
    Nicole Sullivan

    In Part one, chapter 6: Relativity and Timelessness, Simolin talks about a few different theories, including relativity of simultaneity. He talks about this in the book, and also goes further into it in an appendix.

    Relativity of Simultaneity

    In an appendix Simolin talks about 2 different events, happening in 2 separate places, occurring at the same time. To prove this we could construct 2 different clocks and make sure that they are synchronized. He states that a good clock is one whose mechanics apply to Newton’s laws of motion. In particular, Newton’s first law, the principle of inertia, should be applied. This asserts that a body with no forces acting on it moves equal distances in equal times. We can check this by recording the motion of a ball rolling on a table. If it covers the same distance on the table in each equal increment of time measured by our clock, then that clock is working well.
    Relativity of simultaneity can apply to someone in Africa and someone in Newfoundland, or even someone on Earth and an alien on a different planet. Simolin uses New Years Eve in Toronto (event a) and some random event (event b) at the same time on Proxima Centauri (the nearest star to Earth) to describe this is theory. He than states that there will be a third person in between these planets, named Ralph, who will receive a radio signal from both of these places at the time of the event. He should receive both these signals at the same time because they are both the same distance away from him, and the event is happening at the same time.
    However, if Ralph happened to be moving the test would be faulty. If we assume that Ralph is moving toward Earth (but not accelerating so he cannot feel it), then the result would show that the event happening in Toronto would happen first, due to its nearer proximity. Simolin then states that Ralph has a brother named Randy, who is not moving, and he stayed halfway between Earth and Proxima Centauri. He has receives the 2 radio signals at the same time. The brothers would have a disagreement because they both believe themselves to be in the middle of these 2 places when, in reality, only Randy is. Therefore Randy would judge that the events were simultaneous, while Ralph would not.
    You would also have to take into account if either Earth or Proxima Centauri was moving. You could even use another example of instead of Proxima Centauri event b was 2 asteroids colliding. There are many factors to take into account, and Simolin touches on only a few

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s