June 01, 2012: Week 3 / We’ll be discussing Brett’s School Sucks Podcast trilogy (episodes 134-136) titled “The American Way”; focusing on hour 3 and the story of Prussian influence on American culture. CLICK HERE to listen to Corbett Report Radio live on RBN weeknights at midnight Eastern.
Click here to access the personal brain model being discussed during the show to see the historical connections and legacy of Hegel, and the Philosophic Corruption of Reality.
- Subjectivism – The philosophical tenet that “our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience”. The success of this position is historically attributed to Descartes and his methodic doubt. Subjectivism accords primacy to subjective experience as fundamental of all measure and law. In extreme forms like Solipsism, it may hold that the nature and existence of every object depends solely on someone’s subjective awareness of it. One may consider the qualified empiricism of George Berkeleyin this context, given his reliance on God as the prime mover of human perception.
- Solipsism – The philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. The term comes from the Latin solus (alone) and ipse (self). Solipsism as an epistemological position holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure. The external world and other minds cannot be known, and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist. As such it is the only epistemological position that, by its own postulate, is both irrefutable and yet indefensible in the same manner. Although the number of individuals sincerely espousing solipsism has been small, it is not uncommon for one philosopher to accuse another’s arguments of entailing solipsism as an unwanted consequence, in a kind of reductio ad absurdum. In the history of philosophy, solipsism has served as a skeptical hypothesis.
- Positivism – A philosophy of science based on the view that in the social as well as natural sciences, data derived from sensory experience, and logical and mathematical treatments of such data, are together the exclusive source of all authentic knowledge. Obtaining and “verifying” data that can be received from the senses is known as empirical evidence. This view holds that society operates according to laws like the physical world. Introspective and intuitional attempts to gain knowledge are rejected. Though the positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history of Western thought, the concept was developed in the modern sense in the early 19th century by the philosopher and founding sociologist, Auguste Comte. Comte argued that society operates according to its own laws, much as the physical world operates according to gravity and other laws of nature.
- Pragmatism – A philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice. Important positions characteristic of pragmatism include instrumentalism, radical empiricism, verificationism, conceptual relativity, and fallibilism. There is general consensus among pragmatists that philosophy should take the methods and insights of modern science into account.  Charles Sanders Peirce (and his pragmatic maxim) deserves most of the credit for pragmatism, along with later twentieth century contributors William James and John Dewey.
i. Pragmatism as a philosophical movement began in the United States in the 1870s. Its direction was determined by The Metaphysical Club members Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and Chauncey Wright, as well as John Dewey and George Herbert Mead.
ii. The first use in print of the name pragmatism was in 1898 by James, who credited Peirce with coining the term during the early 1870s. James regarded Peirce’s 1877–8 “Illustrations of the Logic of Science” series (including “The Fixation of Belief“, 1877 and especially “How to Make Our Ideas Clear“, 1878) as the foundation of pragmatism . Peirce in turn wrote in 1906 that Nicholas St. John Green had been instrumental by emphasizing the importance of applying Alexander Bain‘s definition of belief, which was “that upon which a man is prepared to act.” Peirce wrote that “from this definition, pragmatism is scarce more than a corollary; so that I am disposed to think of him as the grandfather of pragmatism.” John Shook has said, “Chauncey Wright also deserves considerable credit, for as both Peirce and James recall, it was Wright who demanded a phenomenalist and fallibilist empiricism as an alternative to rationalistic speculation.”
iii. Dewey, in The Quest For Certainty, criticized what he called “the philosophical fallacy”: philosophers often take categories (such as the mental and the physical) for granted because they don’t realize that these are merely nominal concepts that were invented to help solve specific problems. This causes metaphysical and conceptual confusion. Various examples are the “ultimate Being” of Hegelian philosophers, the belief in a “realm of value“, the idea that logic, because it is an abstraction from concrete thought, has nothing to do with the act of concrete thinking, and so on. David L. Hildebrand sums up the problem: “Perceptual inattention to the specific functions comprising inquiry led realists and idealists alike to formulate accounts of knowledge that project the products of extensive abstraction back onto experience.” (Hildebrand 2003) A summary of which can concluide that pragmatism
iv. From the outset, pragmatists wanted to reform philosophy and bring it more in line with the scientific method as they understood it. They argued that idealist and realist philosophy had a tendency to present human knowledge as something beyond what science could grasp. These philosophies then resorted either to a phenomenology inspired by Kant or to correspondence theories of knowledge and truth. Pragmatists criticized the former for its a priorism, and the latter because it takes correspondence as an unanalyzable fact. Pragmatism instead tries to explain, psychologically and biologically, how the relation between knower and known ‘works’ in the world.
- Nihilism – The philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. Moral nihilists assert that morality does not inherently exist, and that any established moral values are abstractly contrived.
- Existentialism – The philosophical and cultural movement which holds that the starting point of philosophical thinking must be the individual and the experiences of the individual, that moral thinking and scientific thinking together do not suffice to understand human existence, and, therefore, that a further set of categories, governed by the norm of authenticity, is necessary to understand human existence. (Authenticity, in the context of existentialism, is being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.)
i. A central proposition of existentialism is that existence precedes essence, which means that the actual life of the individual is what constitutes what could be called his or her “essence” instead of there being a predetermined essence that defines what it is to be a human. Thus, human beings – through their own consciousness – create their own values and determine a meaning to their life. Although it was Sartre who explicitly coined the phrase, similar notions can be found in the thought of many existentialist philosophers from Kierkegaard to Heidegger.
- Sophism – In the modern definition is a specious argument used for deceiving someone. In ancient Greece, sophists were a category of teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching arete — excellence, or virtue — predominantly to young statesmen and nobility. The practice of charging money for education and providing wisdom only to those who could pay led to the condemnations made by Socrates, through Plato in his Dialogues, as well as Xenophon‘s Memorabilia. Through works such as these, Sophists were portrayed as “specious” or “deceptive”, hence the modern meaning of the term.Different types of objectivists tied to sophism.
- The term originated from Greek σόφισμα, sophisma, from σοφίζω, sophizo “I am wise”; confer σοφιστής, sophistēs, meaning “wise-ist, one who does wisdom, one who makes a business out of wisdom” and σοφός, sophós means “wise man”.
- The Seven Sages (of Greece) or Seven Wise Men (Greek: οἱ ἑπτὰ σοφοί, hoi hepta sophoi; c. 620 BC–550 BC) was the title given by ancient Greek tradition to seven early 6th century BC philosophers, statesmen and law-givers who were renowned in the following centuries for their wisdom.
- Philosophical Sophists
- Problems with sophisticated arguments
i. Fallacies of Objectivism
- Assumes hypotheticals like free market capitalism
- Reason will unveil all truths
ii. Fallacies of context
- Greek Slavery
- Esoteric knowledge systems
- Abstraction to concrete
Definition of Existence – Existence is every substance, action, relationship, and attribute which is, was, or ever will be. Existence is every noun, verb, adjective/adverb, and conjunction that is, was, or ever will be.
iii. Substance – A person, place, or any substantial thing to be perceived through the five “Instruments of Knowledge”, the five senses: Pronouns and Nouns.
iv. Action – Those things that nouns do, as in motion or states of being: verbs.
v. Relationships – Comparisons among existents, usually spatial and or temporal
vi. Prepositions – Words which connect other words to show the relationship among the things those words represent.
- Law of Causality – The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature….The law of identity does not permit you to have your cake and eat it too. The law of causality does not permit you to eat your cake before you have it.
- Entity – A solid thing open to human perception and capable of independent action.
- Law of Identity – A cannot be both A and non-A at the same time, in the same respect. Put differently, it is what distinguishes what a thing is apart from other things, and this sets in motion the law of causality since a thing’s actions are determined, not by chance, but by its nature. Identity is the concept that refers to the aspect of existing as something in particular, with specific characteristics. All entities have limited natures as a function of individual characteristics.
- Logic – The art of non-contradictory identification.
- Objectivism – A philosophy created by Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand (1905–1982). Objectivism’s central tenets are that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness (or rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans’ metaphysicalideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form—a work of art—that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.
- Axioms of Objectivism
i. Existence exists.
ii. Law of Identity
iii. Consciousness is conscious
- 5 Tenets of Objectivist Philosophy
i. Metaphysics – What is?
ii. Epistemology – How do we know what is?
iii. Ethics – What do we do about what we know to exist?
v. Aesthetics – How do we communicate that which we know to exist? Concretizing abstractions.