Reflections on my philosophy classes

Over the past few weeks we have been discussing David Hume (1711-1776), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and Georg Wilhelm Hegel (1770-1831).

I have to say I have found them at the same time, very hard work and yet brilliant. If I had just read about them in the book we are using I would never have grasped some of their concepts but having a group discussion about them was really stimulating.

David Hume spoke about causation and that we can never assume that because we observe something happening once, we can’t be sure that it will happen the same way again! Lots of talk about billiard balls.

From Kant I learnt about the Categorical Imperative – I understand it to mean that if I need to determine if an action is moral I need to consider how it would be if it was a universal law that the action be carried out by anyone/everyone.

And then there was Hegel. I found him the most difficult to understand and yet the most fascinating. Hegel’s philosophy covered such a wide scope. I think I almost understood his “thesis – anti-thesis – synthesis” but don’t ask me to explain it here. Again, the group discussion really helped my understanding.

Next fortnight we will discuss Bertrand Russell and I am looking forward to it!

13 thoughts on “Reflections on my philosophy classes

  1. Your philosophy group might enjoy reading Candide (by Voltaire) and discussing it. From Wikipedia:

    Candide has enjoyed both great success and great scandal. Immediately after its secretive publication, the book was widely banned to the public because it contained religious blasphemy, political sedition, and intellectual hostility hidden under a thin veil of naΓ―vetΓ©. However, with its sharp wit and insightful portrayal of the human condition, the novel has since inspired many later authors and artists to mimic and adapt it. Today, Candide is recognized as Voltaire’s magnum opus and is often listed as part of the Western canon. It is among the most frequently taught works of French literature. The British poet and literary critic Martin Seymour-Smith listed Candide as one of the 100 most influential books ever written.

  2. Makes you wonder – each of us have our own philosophy to cling to – but where do we find our” bedrock of belief?”
    I’d dare to venture to say – not by following the individual philosophies of the philosophers… after-all, they’re just man-mad ideas… πŸ˜‰

  3. Thanks for your comment Vossey! I like observing how the philosophers, through time, come up with new ideas and discard some old ones. I don’t aim to live they do but to take on the things I like and discard the rest :).

    • πŸ˜‰
      Maybe best we just read philosophers writings (sometimes – not too often) and move on?
      Surely, if we base our thoughts and action on what shaped the western world’s values then we will get on just fine… our moral compass needle pointing us toward conventional truth and justice concepts?
      Just wondering…
      Just btw – I’m formulating a concept about “indirect learning”… so, because I follow your blog and have read your take on the different philosophers’ wisdom, or lack thereof, I have learned to read stuff I most likely won’t have read out of first choice.
      By considering what I have read, it often strengthens my own take on things… because I see how the so-called wisdom’s are sometime very hollow ideas! As a case in point… the 19th century German philosophers of which Marx was the main-man.
      Their desire to kill God has caused vast swathes of death and destruction when others tried to implement the ideologies stemming from their teachings.
      Ultimately, when the rights of the individual are diminished by ANY man-made religions/ philosophies, pushed on them by others, the mess is perpetuated!
      Phew… sorry… my indirect learning is getting me going again! A tribute to the fact that you get people thinking! Thanks!

      • I used to work in the training sector in government. It became popular to talk about incidental learning which often occurred on-the-job and was not part of a formal course, traineeship or apprenticeship. It was felt there should be some way of measuring it and giving it value. I think it is good to encourage job seekers (especially at interviews) to give themselves credit for that type of learning. One thing I enjoy about U3A is the concept of life-long learning. It never ends no matter what age we are πŸ™‚

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