Philosophy of Descartes and Its Essay

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5. Kant's "Copernican Revolution" in philosophy is in his genius use of the positive aspects of Rationalism (Descartes and so on) and Empiricism (Locke, Berkeley and Hume). How can you argue this out with the help of the "Critique of Pure Reason"?

The human experience of negotiating the universe as it seems to be presented to us is one governed by a great many assumptions. Our education of this process, and in particular our capacity to become adept or even talented in various faculties thereto, is created by experience. In experience, we gain the evolving abilities to relate to objects which we can perceive in our world. However, in order to accomplish this, there are any number of beliefs which must be possessed in us that will create a framework wherein such relating can occur. These beliefs -- and the practical, ideological and physiological experiences which are dependent upon them -- are somehow instinctually incorporated into human thought as knowledge. Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is concerned both with the process by which we have assumed such 'knowledge' and with the implications that such assumptions have on our approach to the mortal realm. In his discourse, he approaches space and time as two principles which occupy such a disposition in our shared consciousness and herein offers insight into the transcendental notion of human perception as a reflection of the self rather than of 'reality.'

Immanuel Kant may perhaps be regarded as our most important metaphysical philosopher for the assimilation of a great breadth of scientific knowledge with an unparalleled insight into questions over existence, man's relationship to the universe and the inherent nature of man to strive for answers to questions beyond his pale of understanding. Key works composed by and about Kant's explorations of all of the above disciplines indicate that the thinker viewed scientific ingenuity as a natural extension man's senses and as a manifestation of human impulse to challenge, create and comprehend. It was thus that he worked to elevate empiricism as a key element of his rationalist ideology.

Kant's metaphysical perspective within the 'Critique of Pure Reason,' with its emphasis on human perception as an end to the means of scientific progress, espoused the idea that the tangible result of empirical science represented a high act of moral responsibility by its creator to the betterment of collective human living standards.

In his discussion on reason, Kant would find rationalizations for the continual probing of our capacity to understand and even harness the great forces of the universe, suggesting that for Kant, the relationship between spiritual and mortal concerns was in many ways based in this plane of scientific innovation. .

6. The self in world experiences "fear and trembling" in front of faith or God. This paradox of religious ideality and models is clearly seen in the figure of "Abraham." Describe it out with Kierkegaard.

The existentialist considerations of Kierkegaard are particularly intriguing to our discussion as they reveal a mold for the consideration of God which pays due respect to the role which human emotion, perception and even social systems play into religiosity. Accordingly, he makes the challenging argument that as we develop our individual relationships with the physical and the spiritual, we come to achieve a relationship with God less based on rational presumption or empirical observation. Instead, he attributes this relationship to something more fundamentally psychological or emotional in the beholder.

To this point, he denotes that "religion is made meaningful and relevant by our passionate commitment to what we believe and what we want out of life, regardless of whether it can be rationally and mathematically described. For the religious person to say that such-and-such is 'true,' they are saying that it is 'true for me' because it is a truth that this person lives in an immediate and existential way rather than simply observes at a distance." (Cline, 1)

Kierkegaard defends this position as having a basis in the scriptures, recounting Abraham's horrible dilemma when God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac. Here, the biblical allegory is invoked for its demonstration of pure faith, separate from the empirical or rational considerations of human morality that might have prevented Abraham from agreeing to the act. Though the act is not carried out -- a reward for Abraham's faith to say the least -- Kierkegaard views this as the type of impassioned commitment that one assumes with God based on personalized and individualized experiences. The nature of Abraham's faith, to this point, would take him to the peak of a mountain with his son in a stark demonstration of the sense of this commitment.

7. Marcel's contribution to "Inter-subjectivity" is unique and important. How and why?

The importance of Marcel's contributions to the field of philosophy revolves on that which he offers us on the subject of human relationships. The notion of inter-subjectivity is a crucial element of what Marcel describes in the capacity of one individual to relate properly to another. The concept is important for helping to define the civility, conscientiousness and compassion which are derived from this experience of understanding the world and its encounters as they are likely to be understood through the eyes of another individual. The concept of intersubjectivity serves an important function here, denoting that as part of the social experience of being human, the way that we relate to others is underscored by our ability to define morality and rightness within the practical confines of the relationship.

This points to what Marcel refers to as spiritual availability. He defines this as "entering into one another's lives through different disposabilities. Disposability is the condition for the possibility of an openness to the other. Not only can we permeate one another but also there is a sympathetic resonance that moves beyond those involved." (Kidd, 1) This is to say that Marcel's ideas are of particular importance for their simultaneous nuance and universality. Namely, Marcel changes a discourse of morality almost always driven by behavioral codes or theological prescriptions. Here, instead, he leaves these moral decisions where other individuals are concerned to the 'intersubjectivity' which might allow us not just to do right by those whom we know but to use these interactions and experiences as a way to project a proper template for behavior and moral orientation in all of one's dealings. Particularly for its emphasis on human systems as a way to define moral behavior, Marcel draws the nature of this discourse somewhat closer to our pedestrian experiences, making it valuable and easily applicable.

8. Jean Paul Sartre and his atheistic philosophy

The school of thought supporting existentialism is distinguished in the attention which it devotes to questioning the rift between the individual's instinctual experience of the universe and the frequently obscuring impingement of the collective. With the ideology emerging from an essentially negativist understanding of this rift, Sartre's would speak on this point with a distinctive bent toward rejection of collectively driven theological impulses. An article from the New York Times, speaking on the subject of Sartre's dramatic rejection of the Nobel Laureate honorin 1964, reinforces the appropriateness of the author's decision, describing the existential movement according to an atheistic precept distinguishing it from institutionalization of any kind. As the article explains, "for the existentialist God does not exist and the world is just a phenomenon without any meaning other than what man may attach to it." (Special, 1). Thus, fundamental to this ideology is the belief that institutions designed by man to convey their own distinct and self-motivated conceptions of truth are diametrically opposed to the liberty of the existentialist. This is a notion that applies to academic institutions, governments and, indeed, to award committees. It is quickly detectable that, in spite of what we might perceive as an extremely reputable organization, the Nobel group is ideology distinct from the existentialist thinker whom it sought to honor in 1964. In response to Sartre's refusal, in fact, the academy's secretary, Karl Ragnar Gierow is reported to have contended that thought it had been forewarned of his intended refusal, the organization chose Sartre because of his work's "vast influence on our times, mainly through its spirit of liberty and quest for truth." (1) The explanation here points to a contradiction likely suffered by Sartre, whose very philosophy rejects the merit of institutional recognition of universal truths or collectively pertinent values.

According to existentialist ideology, the cause for rejection of such universal truths is the frequency with which these tend to force a conflation between individual desire and the pressures imposed by larger systems such as societies and governments. This conflation will tend to eliminate free-will in the individual who is unaware that such a phenomenon has taken place. It is understandable, therefore, that Sartre approached the notion of accepting the award as the dangerous prospect of endorsing a single vision of truth as defined according to an elite academic organization's determination or to an…[continue]

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