Winter 2015: Introduction to Philosophy

M/W/F, C 2033 12-12:50 10:30-11:45


Office Hours: M/W/F 11:00-11:55 AA 3012

What is philosophy? Does one need training to become a philosopher? What is the relationship between the philosopher and the culture surrounding him/her? In this class, we will read a number of different thinkers in relation to these basic, though far from easy, questions. We will begin with perhaps the most famous text in the history of philosophy, namely, Plato’s Apology, which will take us through questions of the role of philosopher in society. We will then read from important canonical figures in philosophy, from Augustine to Beauvoir. We will broach a number of important philosophical concerns, from the nature of the soul to the problems of societal inequality. But our first and last concern is captured in the question what is called thinking? In modernity, thought and its patient formation is being short-circuited in the name of efficiency, where all that can be said must fit into 120-character tweets or text messages to friends. Are we on the cusp of loving thought forever? By reading closely these canonical and ever-important texts, we will find it is always necessary to think about our world and our place within it, politically, socially, and ethically.

Books ordered:

Plato’s Five Dialogues, ISBN: 087220202X (Hackett)
Aristotle, Metaphysics, ISBN: 0140446192 (Penguin).
Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, ISBN: 0679724621 (Vintage)

Reading Schedule and Resources

Monday January 5

Introduction to the course

Wednesday January 7

Intro to class and Plato’s Apology, pp. 21-30

Resources for Plato:

1. BBC In Our TimesSocrates

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

Friday January 9

Plato’s Apology, 31-45

Monday, January 12

Meno, pp. 58-80

Wednesday, January 14

Meno, pp. 80-93

Friday, January 16

Crito (all) (Samantha M.)

Monday, January 19

Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” (Mychaila)

Quiz 1 (1.5-2 pages, single-spaced, due Monday, Jan. 19): What is a philosopher? Use three examples–at least–from Plato’s MenoApology, and Crito to illustrate what makes Socrates different from others (the sophist, the politician, etc.). Begin with a clear introductory paragraph and make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors.

Wednesday, January 21

Plato, Phaedo, 93-110

Friday, January 23

Phaedo, 111-135 (Clare M.)

Monday, January 26

Phaedo, 136-end (Sam T.)

Wednesday, January 28

Quiz 2 (2 pages, single-spaced, due Monday, Jan. 28, 5 pts.)): In the Phaedo, Socrates gives three arguments for the immortality of the soul. Quickly provide them. Then tell the reader why Socrates gives these arguments. What is the relation of the soul to the body? How does this relate to any of Socrates’ views as depicted by Plato in our previous readings? Begin with a clear thesis statement about the relation of the soul and the body in the Phaedo, then go through the three arguments, noting any problems you see with them. Then end by describing how this relates to the type of philosophy Socrates does, as you depicted it in your first paper.

Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book Alpha 1 and 2 (Evan H.)

Friday, January 30

Aristotle, Metaphysics, Alpha 3, 4, 5 (Andrew G.)

Monday, February 2

Aristotle, Metaphysics, Alpha 8-9 (Catlin C.)

Wednesday, February 4

Aristotle, Metaphysics, Gamma, 1-7 (Sarah M.)

Friday, February 6

Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book Delta (first 16 definitions) (Colin P.)

Monday, February 9

Aristotle, Metaphysics, Theta (Megan H.)

Quiz 3 (3 pages, single-spaced, due Monday, Feb. 9, 10 pts.): In Book Alpha of the Metaphysics, Aristotle lodges several criticisms of Plato’s theory of the forms. First, describe what is Plato’s theory of the forms. Next outline the criticisms of Plato that one finds in Aristotle. Why are they important? How is this important for understanding Aristotle’s own work?

Wednesday, February 11

Aristotle, MetaphysicsLambda 1-6  (Greg D.)

Friday, February 13

Aristotle, MetaphysicsLamba 6-12 (Samantha W.)

Monday, February 16

Winter Break

Wednesday, February 18

Winter Break

Friday, February 20

Augustine, “On Free Choice of the Will,” pp. 34-50

Monday, February 23

Augustine, “On Free Choice of the Will,” pp. 51-61 (Holly O.)

Quiz 4 (5 points, in class): short answer and multiple choice.

Wednesday, February 25

Aquinas, selections (for this day and next) (Luke B.)

Friday, February 27

Aquinas, selections (Nicole P.)

Monday, March 2

Aquinas, selections (for this day and next)(Cailey W.)

Wednesday, March 4

Aquinas, selections (Jenna E.)

Quiz 5-6

Friday, March 6


  1. Philosophy BitesA.C. Grayling on Descartes’ Cogito” (podcast)
  2. BBC, In Our Times“Mind/Body Problem” (podcast)

Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, Meditation 1 (Clara B.)

Monday, March 9

Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, Meditation 2 (David M.)

Wednesday, March 11

Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, Meditation 3 (Nick S.)

Friday, March 13

Catch-up day

Monday, March 16

snow day

Wednesday, March 18

RESOURCE: Philosophy Now, “The Thought of Friedrich Nietzsche” (podcast)

Quiz 7 (5 points, Descartes)

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals (preface) (Stephen P.)

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals (first essay) (Jennifer B.)

Friday, March 20

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals (second essay, sections 1-12) (Gavyn P.)

Monday, March 23

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals (second essay, sections 13-25) (Chelsea T.)

Quiz 8

Wednesday, March 25

Resources: BBC In Our Times, “Feminism”

Simone de Beauvoir, selections from The Second Sex, Introduction and Part I, Chapter I (Amy W.)

Friday, March 27

Simone de Beauvoir, selections from The Second Sex, selections (Brandon K.)

Monday, March 30

Simone de Beauvoir, selections from The Second Sex, conclusion(Annie W.)

Quiz 9

Wednesday April 1

Last Class

April 13, 12:00-2:00pm, C2033

Final Exam (Study Guide here)

5 thoughts on “Winter 2015: Introduction to Philosophy

  1. According to the foreword preceding book Alpha, the question that Aristotle wishes to address is this: what is the nature of philosophy? What is the primary object of philosophical interest? In beginning to address this question Aristotle introduces two forms of knowledge: experience of particulars versus knowledge of the applicability of generalities. Aristotle offers a comparison between these two forms of knowledge before comparing how they relate to the practice of philosophy in contrast with other occupations and trades, ostensibly laying the groundwork to explore his deeper, more fundamental question.
    Alpha begins with the statement, “By nature, all men long to know.” Aristotle phrases this as a statement of generally agreeable fact, explaining that man’s “delight in the senses” indicates this inherent curiosity. Sight, in particular, is stressed as the favoured human sense in that it “especially produces cognition in us and reveals many distinguishing features of things.”
    Animals also have senses, but it is the capacity for memory, Aristotle asserts, that renders some more intelligent than others. He also draws an inherent connection between hearing and learning, offering that “learning is reserved for those that in addition to memory also have the sense of hearing,” offering the bee as an example. It is this capacity for memory that allows man to recollect, and to draw upon past experiences, producing knowledge and skill.
    One form of knowledge, the philosopher offers, is that of knowledge of particulars gained through many experiences. The philosopher offers the analogy of a doctor knowing to use a particular drug in a particular situation on two separate patients. “Experience is the knowledge of particulars,” he argues, “and practical actions, like all occurrences, are concerned with particulars.”
    A second form of knowledge is that of theoretical understanding, which Aristotle compares with skill. He says that this form of knowledge differs from the former in that “the skilled know the cause, whereas the experienced do not.” Experience is concerned with “that,” while skill is concerned with “because.”
    Many people confusedly associate experience and expertise with skill, Aristotle states, but designers are thought of more highly than craftsmen, he says, because designers know why things are being done, not just how. According to Aristotle, the ability to teach is the hallmark of this difference: the skilled can teach, while those with mere experience cannot.
    Aristotle continues by saying that none of the senses can be associated with true wisdom. He offers that senses can tell that fire is hot but not why it is hot. As a result, skills that deal with indulgence, rather than necessity, are generally more admired. Therefore, Aristotle concludes, all arts – practices which are concerned neither with pleasure or necessity – were discovered and practiced only in situations where men had time for leisure.
    Aristotle concludes book Alpha with the thought that “wisdom is knowledge having to do with certain principles and causes.“

  2. Philosophy Handout
    Cailey Walsh

    The Summa Theologica: Part 1 Question 1

    In this selection, Aquinas is concerned with how to interpret the bible. This selection starts by asking the question “Whether, besides the Philosophical sciences, any further doctrine is required?” The first objection states that man should not seek to know what is above reason. The second objection states that knowledge can only be concerned with being. Aquinas however, also says that “besides the philosophical sciences investigated by reason, there should be a sacred science investigated by way of revelation.”(516) He believes that there is a separate knowledge revealed by God that is necessary for a man’s revelation, because certain truths surpass human reason. Aquinas determines that although theology does not necessarily need philosophy to promote the knowledge of God, philosophy can help to reveal the intentions of theology.
    The second question is “Whether Sacred Doctrine is a Science?” The first objection is that it is not a science because it proceeds from articles of faith which are not self evident, unlike other sciences. The second objection is that it is not a science because it focuses on individuals, unlike other sciences. Aquinas however, says despite these objections, Sacred Doctrine is a science because there are two kinds of sciences, some that are based on intellect such as geometry, and others which are known by the light of a higher science. Sacred Doctrine falls into the light of a higher science because it is the “science of God and the blessed.” (517). He also says that the individuals addressed in the Sacred Doctrine do not prevent it from being a science because they are used as examples to support the principles instead of being concerned with them specifically.
    The third question is “Whether Sacred Doctrine is one Science?” The first objection is that is it not one science because it treats more than one class of subjects. The second objection is that it is not one science because the subjects in the Sacred Doctrine belong to more than one philosophical science. Aquinas states that is one science, because all things in the Sacred Doctrine have in common that they are under the same Formality of being divinely revealed. They can be named specifically but they are under the same overall category.
    The fourth question is “Whether Sacred Doctrine is a Practical Science?” The objections argue that it is a practical science because it ends in action, and because it is divided into laws, which belongs to a moral science, which is a practical science. Aquinas says that it is more of a speculative science than a practical science because it is more concerned with divine things than with human acts.
    The fifth question asks, “Whether Sacred Doctrine is Argumentative?” The objections say that it is not argumentative because you should not argue regarding faith. Aquinas argues that it is argumentative in a sense because “we can argue with heretics from texts in Holy Scripture, and against those who can deny one article of faith we can argue from another.” (519) He also says that any proofs brought against faith are arguments that can be answered because it is based on a truth.
    The sixth question questions, “Whether Holy Scripture Should Use Metaphors?” The objections argue that they should not use metaphors because it is the highest science. Using various similitudes, which are poetic (considered the least of all sciences) would not be proper and may compromise the truths. Aquinas points out that it is “befitting to the Holy Scripture to put forward divine and spiritual truths by means of comparisons with material things. For God provides for everything according to the capacity of its nature” (521) The Holy Scripture uses sensible things to teach spiritual truths. The use of metaphors in the scripture makes it easier for man to understand things that are not easily explainable.
    The final question asks, “Whether in Holy Scripture a Word May Have Several Senses?” The objections argue that you cannot because different senses may produce confusion and deception, and the Holy Scripture seems to be described using different senses than other sciences. Aquinas however, says that even one word in the Holy Scripture can have several senses, and can signify many things. The things signified by the word can also signify other things. Aquinas also says the Holy Scriptures is divided into history, etiology, analogy, and allegory. However each of these can be put into the categories of literal, allegorical, tropological or moral, and analogical senses. Aquinas concludes by saying “hence it is clear that nothing false can ever underlie the literal sense of Holy Scripture” (523).

  3. Augustine – On Free Will – P. 51-61
    Holly O’Keefe handout

    Book II

    God gave you things
    – Woe is to the people who do not follow God, and instead enjoy the fruits of God’s labor, without taking heed of the meanings of God’s teachings. You should look at the things made by God, and remember that he gave those things to you.
    – A man who does not follow the word of God, because it is easier not to, will be shrouded in darkness, instead of being bathed in His light.
    – If you don’t follow God’s truth, and are shrouded in the darkness, you will not be able to make sense then of evil, and you will suffer

    Temporal & Eternal things
    – (Mutable) things are nothing unless they have a numerical form
    – There is a different, inmutable form (eternal) that presents the mutable things from dropping into nothingness
    – This eternal form does not change throughout time. It is the basis for everything to be formed. The things that this eternal form helps establish, are temporal, and therefore can change throughout time.

    Mutable & Formable
    – Mutable things are those that can be changed
    – Formable things are capable of receiving form
    – These things can’t form themselves (can’t give itself what it doesn’t already have)
    – If something already has form, then it doesn’t need to receive form
    – The body and the mind receive form from a form that is inmutable (unchanging and eternal)

    Body and Life
    – Instead of looking at existing things, living things, and intelligent things, the focus is now on just 2; body and life.
    – The life of animals (that live but have no intelligence) and humans (how live and have intelligence), are both called Life.
    – He is careful to point out that he is not talking about God here, because God is a Supreme life, and he is only talking about created things right now
    – Body and life are formable, and fall into nothingness if the form leaves them (temporal)
    – They owe their existence to an eternal form; God (every good thing owes its existence to God)

    Is free will good?
    – Evodius agrees with Augustine but now asks, “Can it be shown that free will is to be numbered among the things wich are good?”
    – He says that if Augustine can answer this question, he will accept that God has given us free will
    – Augustine claims this question has already been answered
    – Evodius had previously said that we shouldn’t have been given free will, because it is by free will that we commit sin
    – Augustine countered his argument and said that men cannot choose to act rightly if they didn’t have free will, and this is why God gave it to us
    – Evodius then claimed that we should only have been given free will to use in the same capacity that we use jutice (apparently we can only use it rightly)
    – This led them into a previous discussion where they discovered that all good things come from God

    Don’t abuse the good things
    – They say that the body is a lower state of being than the soul (which means the soul is better than the body)
    – Augustine makes a point that, just because some people abuse parts of their body and soul, does not mean that someone should make the argument that God shouldn’t have given it to them
    – He makes an example that, man was given eyes, and the sense of sight is the most splendid possession our bodies have. But, some people use their eyes for things like lust. You should make sure to pay attention to the people who have these good things, but choose (ie. free will) to abuse them. These people should be condemned according to Augustine, and it shouldn’t be pinned on God, if we don’t use the good things he gave us correctly)

    Summing up Augustine’s argument that free will is good
    – Evodius wants Augustine to prove that free will is good. (He already knows and agrees that God gave us all that is good, be he isn’t convinced that free will is good)
    – Augustine goes over some things they already talked about (claiming they already answered Evodius’ question)
    – Every corporeal form gets its existence from the Supreme form (the form of truth—God)
    – Every form is good
    – Numbered things= things that are good= things from God (doesn’t matter how small)
    – Augustine claims, if Evodius knows all this to be true, why wouldn’t he also believe that free will came from God (and even though there are people who chose to live by evil, doesn’t mean that God still didn’t give us free will, so we can choose to be right)
    – Augustine also points out that the loss of a good thing doesn’t mean that you can’t still live rightly (a one-eyed man can still live rightly)

    God gave us great and lesser goods
    – Apparently no one can make a bad use out of justice
    – No one can make bad use of the good virtues of the soul that we possess
    – The forms of bodies are the lowest on the spectrum of good things
    – The powers of the soul are intermediate on the spectrum of good things
    – No one makes a bad use of their virtues, because ‘no one makes a bad use of anything when he uses it well’ (ie. good virtues are only there to be used rightly, so you can’t use them wrongly)
    – God is praised because he gave us all kinds of goods, big and small

    – Reason is known by reason
    – Memory is known by memory
    – Will is known by will

    Public & private (to determine a happy life)
    – Will is an intermediate good (when it pertains to the eternal good)
    – Will is public (not private, because everyone has will and will always be able to access it)
    – The virtues are private (each man has his own virtues, only accessible to themselves)
    – Truth and wisdom are public to all men, and if you live through truth you will have a happy life, but,
    – Happiness is private (what makes one man happy is only true to him, and will not make another man happy)

    – Will is public (always available to men)
    – But, it can turn private, and then can focus on sins
    – When it turns private it controls itself (and then gets curious about inferior things, and turns men proud and licentious – things that are not good)
    – If you live like this then you aren’t really living (I think is what he means by saying that this isn’t a form of life, but is really a form of death)
    – Basically, what makes Will bad is when man turns his Will from the good values (honor, valence, etc.) and focuses on bad values (lust, pride, etc.)
    – Turning to bad values= aversion
    – Turning to good values= conversion
    – If you turn to bad values then, it is just if you are unhappy

    If it’s bad, God didn’t do it
    – Why does Will go from the inmutable to the mutable good?
    – That is an evil change (even though the choice to do that through free will has to be counted as good, since man can live rightly through will)
    – Sin to turn from God
    – But you can’t attribute this sinful movement from good to evil to God
    – So what is the cause then, if not God? (because God just can’t be the author of sin)
    – Augustine doesn’t know
    – Nothing can happen if it doesn’t come from God
    – God is the maker of measure, number and order. If you remove these things, there is nothing left
    – Measure, number and order= the perfect form
    – Aversion is a movement of sin, which means it is defective, and anything that is defective comes from nothing (which means that if it isn’t perfect; or is sinful; then God didn’t do it)
    – Defective movements are products of will (Our fault, not God’s)

    Book III

    Nature’s possible role in the changing of the Will
    – Evodius wants Augustine to explain when Will changes from an inmutable good to a mutable one (ie. wants him to explain when a time would come where Will would change from good to bad)
    – Augustine questions why Evodius wants to know this, to which Evodius replies that, if it is simply nature that free will makes this movement from good to bad, then no one can be blamed for it
    – Augustine accuses Evodius of finding fault with the mind, even though the mind (apparently) can’t have fault
    – They go back and forth, with Augustine saying that Evodius is contradicting himself by saying that he doesn’t think the movement of Will is culpable to anyone/anything, but then insinuating that it is culpable through his words.
    – Evodius makes clear that the movement displeases him, but that he still does not think a soul is responsible for the movement that happens by nature.
    – Augustine tries to make an example, arguing that if a stone is thrown into the air, is it not the movement of the stone (of its own accord)
    – Evodius says that the motion of the stone falling back to earth is the natural motion of the stone, but it was not the fault of the stone, as it was simply nature.
    – Augustine refreshes Evodius’ memory about their previous discussions
    – The mind is not compelled to anything dishonorable by any superior power, but only by its Will
    – So, the mind’s own movement (from good to bad) is its own Will, and if that movement is to be blamed on the mind, then that movement should be determined as voluntary, and not nature (he compares this to the stone, except that the stone’s downward motion can’t be stopped by the stone, but the mind’s movement of Will can be stopped, because as we said earlier, nothing can happen that has not been willed to happen)

    Evodius summing movement of Will up in agreement
    – Evodius agrees and says that he feels he has Will, and that there is no one else to blame but himself for whatever actions he commits, and that the good God made him, and gave him good Will
    – He also agrees that movement of Will of a man has to be voluntary, otherwise the man would not be able to receive blame or praise for whatever movement he made (whether movement towards good or towards bad)
    – And in this same notion, that if movement of Will weren’t voluntary, then teaching men to strive for eternal things, and not to mind temporal things, and to live rightly, would be useless, because they would have no control over it if they didn’t have voluntary action over the movement of their Will towards these things
    Why would God make us if he knew we would sin?
    – Evodius wonders why we sin by choice if God knows things before we do them
    – Implying that things can happen outside of whatever God knows beforehand is impious
    – If God knew man would sin, he wouldn’t have made him in the first place
    – He makes clear that he is not insinuating that God is to be blamed for man’s sin
    – He asks the question that, if God already knew man would sin before he made him, then how can free will be?
    – Augustine argues that men who asks that question ask it impiously (they ask it to try and rid themselves of blame for their sins, and to try and refute God’s role in their lives and actions)
    – Basically sinners are the ones who ask the question Evodius asked

    Does God know what HE will do in the future?
    – Augustine sums up Evodius’ question in two points;
    – Evodius is afraid that either God’s foreknowledge of sin has to be denied (and this would be impious—ie. against God and his teachings) or, that God’s forknowledge won’t be denied, but then that refutes free will
    – Evodius thinks that since God knows man will sin, it is nature, and not free will
    – They speak about whether God knows his future actions
    – Evodius says he was only saying that God knows about future events for his creations, and not future events within himself
    – Augustine argues that God would have to have foreknowledge of his own future actions (because it is known that God knows to make a man happy the day he becomes happy)

  4. Gavyn Plourde
    Dr. Gratton
    Philosophy 1200
    25 March 2015

    Genealogy of Morals: Second Essay
    Nietzsche begins his second essay by asking what kind of beings can make promises and how this ability came to be, more specifically the origin of our conscience. He says that in order to make a promise whereas to accurately judge the future, man must have learned to distinguish between what happens by accident and by what design. This means to be able grasp the future with certainty. By man doing this, it means that we would have had to be reliable, regular and necessary in order to be answerable for our own future.

    Nietzsche builds section two off of section one by saying the history of promises is directly linked to the history of responsibility. And that these two things make up the “conscience”. He also begins to include the effects of society on man’s ability to become predictable. He uses the words “morality of custom” and “social strait-jacket” to describe how we became truly predictable. These terms mean that as a whole man, became predictable in a negative way. We became a paralyzed society and only the person who could pull away from this would master his free will. This person is able to make promises not because of his societal bias, but because he mastered his free will by understanding the paralysis around him. Once they have done this, they face a large responsibility of freedom to make claims regarding their future; this sense of responsibility is what Nietzsche calls the “conscience”.

    Section three poses the question “How did culture produce the sovereign individual?” Nietzsche says it was through fearful mnemonics. This was a way to burn things into ones memory. Only something that continues to hurt stays in the memory. When man decided he had to make a memory for himself it never happened without blood, torment or sacrifice. These were the best ways of burning the memory into your head. This was also the origin of asceticism, the doctrine that one can reach a high spiritual state through the practice of extreme self-denial or self-mortification. This was the birth of the penal law. If someone failed to keep a promise to say a loan, they were in debt to the person they let down. So the reprisal would be punishment, cruelty or torture. This led to the person not forgetting any promises in the future.

    Section four and five ask “how did bad conscience come into the world?” Previous genealogists had missed an important point, the origin of the notion of guilt. His definition of guilt is simply a debt needed to be paid. He asks if guilt descends from the very material concept of debt or that punishment as retribution or, evolved independently of any assumption about freedom or lack of freedom of the will. Nietzsche says that punishment was not given because the person was held responsible for the act but rather it was our anger over some wrong directed at the perpetrator. This meant that the severity of the punishment was equal to the severity of the crime. The origin of this equality is the contract between creditor and debtor. This can be summed up in an order of events:

    -Promises are made

    -Memories of that promise must be made

    -Fear of torture and cruelty create the memory of the promise

    -Debtor promises it will be done by creating a contract which entitles the creditor to this body or wife or freedom

    This gives the creditor pleasure in being able to exercise power over the powerless without a thought. Through punishment of the debtor, the creditor takes part in the rights of the masters. This means he shares the elevated feeling of being in a position to punish someone inferior and the higher the creditor is in the hierarchy the greater the pleasure. Nietzsche believes this was the origin of the bad conscience.

    Section six simply concludes that making others suffer was a great joy, and was even considered festive, as a wedding or something similar would not be held without an execution or torture. Section 7 introduces the justification of torture, the gods. Nietzsche says that even with all of the cruelty in older cultures, there was more cheerfulness. People today say that suffering is an argument against life, while back then it was considered one of the greatest celebrations. He says that our dislike for suffering come from our biological instincts and its absolute senselessness. For ancient peoples suffering was not senseless, it was always a good reason for it. Nietzsche suggests that people invented gods so that any suffering would not go unnoticed. This led to all suffering being justified because “All evil is justified if a god takes pleasure in it”.

    Section eight talks about the origin of pride and man’s superiority over other living things. The earliest form of cunning was born from these debtor, creditor transactions. Working out what was equivalent, setting values and exchanging was building the sensation of self-confidence. This gave birth to the notion that everything can be compensated for, everything has a value. An early form of justice was also born from people coming to an understanding by means of a settlement and to force the less powerful to reach such settlements.

    Section nine and ten introduces the origin of communities. Communities are simply many creditor, debtor groups. You live a sheltered, protected life in peace and trust, without any worry of suffering certain kinds of harm and hostility to which the man outside, the ‘man without peace’, is exposed. This means if someone breaks a law, whereas to break a promise, they were to be thrown out of the community. The bigger the community the less seriously it needs to take offences because a single instance of corruption does not affect the stability of the community. The offender does not have to be casted off from the community either. In simple terms, the offender is at the will of mercy because the wealthier the creditor, the less concerned they are. The final product is a community so strong that it does not need to punish its parasites.

    Section eleven and twelve provide further elaboration of justice and provide insight on the origin of law and punishment. Nietzsche defines justice as overcoming revenge and law as the struggle against reaction and revenge. With the institution of law, someone who is robbed is not them who have been harmed, it is justice. In order to make this just, justice seeks revenge on the robber. He suggests that justice can only exist within a society who has a system of law and that there is no such thing as Justice in itself. Nietzsche suggests that punishment did not evolve for the purpose of punishing, because every purpose and use is just a sign that the will to power has achieved mastery over something less powerful.

  5. Nic
    Professor Gratton
    Philosophy 1200
    11 March 2015

    Review and Reflection on Meditation III by René Descartes
    Descartes begins his third meditation by reinforcing the idea that he is simply a thinking being of some substance capable of a host of emotions, desires, doubts, and the like. He then tries to qualify exactly what he is searching for achieve a truth, and determines truth to be within himself as a truth can be what he affirms to be true. A common theme introduced in the beginning of the meditation is the existence clear and distinct perceptions that are held as true. Descartes builds upon his “clear and distinct” perception of a deity/God throughout the piece. Images, when thinking or in thought are held in the most perfect or idealized form. Within these thoughts also exist a representation or intangible feelings attributed to the object, which Descartes terms judgements.Descartes also reaffirms his doubtful thinking of things in the sense world, saying that he took a lot of these sensible (as in things that can be sensed) attachments to be truth.
    In doubting nearly all things, Descartes postulates that there is no reason to believe that God deceits, but also no reason to believe God even exists in the first place. The notion that God cannot deceit likely comes from his clear and benevolent perception of a higher, supreme power. Thus, there becomes two key questions that frame the philosophical issues Descartes is trying to solve within himself:
 1) Is there God?
    2) Can he be a deceiver?
    the second question is most certainly vital in the quest for truth or affirming God exists. I interpret this question as should God not have the ability to deceive, everything in/about/through God is absolute truth. The converse is also true, if God could be a deceiver, then there would be no absolute truth in anything, because even those things that come from this all-powerful entity could indeed be tricks. Later in the piece, Descartes believes that ideas, when considered only in themselves, are not false; and that they are often conformed to/by things around us. Ideas are then classified into 3 classes: they can be adventitious (originating from outside of the self), innate (like instinct), or fictitious (false). Descartes continues to deconstruct thoughts and the reasons/justifications they need for a being (or him) to be convinced that they are true or exist.
    Another central idea to the meditation is the idea of absolute perfection and objective reality. Objective reality refers to something that is true even outside of a subject’s individual biases, while absolute perfection is a figure of Descartes’ thoughts that is attributed to a higher power. He concludes that because this absolute perfection does not exist within himself, if must come from elsewhere — nor can he create such a perfection. In his view, God is also an infinite being that must surely exist when considering the contrast to finite things like human beings. This reminds me of the method of thinking used by Alan Watts, who often utilizes the complementarity of contrast to explain things related to existence. Descartes realizes he is finite, and then believes that his finite nature can only come from something infinite. This pattern of thinking arises again later in his thoughts regarding the conservation of substance; which he argues that the conservation and continued existence of a substance (such as a rock, or a human) requires the same power and act that would be necessary to create it. Descartes comes to know that he is not capable of this power and thus must rely on something greater outside of himself. He postulates that he has the potential to become perfect and powerful, but potential is not actual reality, and God is all actuality (not potential being).
    Ending the meditation are the conclusions that the origins of things or of himself can be traced back and layered only to come back to the ultimate cause that God exists. The ability to think is also a gift from God and reaffirmation of his existence because he is able to ponder and doubt the existence of God only to come back to realize that God actually does exist. Finally, because the idea of God is so clear (and has been built upon for centuries before), the idea that he (God) exists has more objective reality and is more likely to be true, especially considering God is infinite and there is more truth attributed to these infinite things. A criticism of the piece would be that it is built upon a “clear and distinct” perception of something. In my view, which is in part shaped by experience, a clear and distinct perception does not provide a solid foundation for truth. But maybe I am just bitter.

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