Rene Descartes continued

We had two interesting discussions on Thursday based on information on Descartes in Tom Butler-Dowdon’s book, 50 Philosophy Classics. I also provided some handouts based on my research mostly on the internet. This morning’s group found Descartes famous ‘I think, therefore I am’ difficult to grasp. Also the idea that Descartes could discard all existing knowledge and experience and start again in judging what he believed to be true. Is it really possible to imagine that all your past ideas and experiences can be erased to the point that the only thing one can know is that they are a ‘thinking thing’.

Descartes goes on to to say:

“And the whole force of the arguments I have used here to prove the existence of God consists in this, that I recognise that it would not be possible for my nature to be as it is, that is to say, that I should have in me the idea of a God, if God did not really exist.”

We discussed that people throughout time and in different cultures throughout the world independently believe in some form of higher power. But does that really prove that God exists? It doesn’t disprove it either!

The afternoon group suggested that Descartes’ attention to God in his writing was more pragmatic due to the time (early 1600’s) in France. Many of his ideas in maths and science, astronomy could have been seen as heresy if he didn’t publicly pay homage to a belief in God. Galileo suffered being called a heretic for his advances in scientific knowledge so Descartes, as a witness to this, withdrew some of his writings (The Book of the World).

Primarily our group is about having a stimulating discussion and keeping our brains active. The participants know that I am not a philosophy academic and hopefully that enables them to think and to express valid views on the topics raised in the book. And we can get to know each other and start to build some social networks in our community.

Advertisements

This week we look at Rene Descartes

He thinks, therefore he is!

This nine minute video gives a quick overview of the massive ground that Descartes covered in his lifetime as a philosopher, mathematician and scientist.

I will write again after we have our two discussion groups tomorrow.

A little family history …

I got a pleasant surprise today when a distant cousin sent me some old photos and scans. One family member who is well known to me from stories but I didn’t ever meet her – my Great Auntie Mary. She was born in 1892 and died in 1994.

Auntie Mary Moran
Auntie Mary wrote this poem on her 92nd birthday. She was quite a woman!

She had quite a strong interest in politics too!

Not a night person anymore!

I realised this morning that I completely messed up on my previous post. Thanks to those who ‘liked’ it anyway!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In the past I was always at my best in the evenings – did my best work when I was studying etc. Time to review this I am afraid.

My previous post was about Machiavelli but I had the heading of Descartes. I don’t think they have much in common – especially the ‘ends justifies the means”!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Machiavelli Continued …

We had two lively discussions last Thursday on Machiavelli. He is mostly remembered for the words “the ends justify the means” but I don’t believe he actually ever used those words specifically. In his book, The Prince, he develops something of an instruction manual for a Prince who is about to lead his kingdom.

There are around ten people in each group competing to share their ideas. I try hard to let everyone have a chance to talk.

It was inevitable that we would end up discussing some well known politicians such as Donald Trump and Theresa May. We also tried to discern if Machiavelli really supported unscrupulous behaviour or whether he was just “telling it like it was/is”. We generally believed he wrote from his knowledge and experience within the government of the day.

Since Thursday I see so much Machiavelli wherever I look. People in power presenting an acceptable face to the world but barely hiding some of the measures they take to continue in their roles.

It could be argued that we all have a dark side or shadow but hopefully most people work towards bettering themselves and not at refining their dark arts!

Niccolò Machiavelli

Tomorrow our U3A Group will be studying Machiavelli.

He is definitely an interesting character to consider and I am sure there will be some lively discussion. Consider the following quote:

It makes one think in these times when we long for strong leadership based on integrity. Stay tuned for more …

What makes you happy?

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Today we met and considered happiness (the Greek word is eudaimonia) as described by Greek philosopher, Aristotle. We each talked a little about what makes us happy. There was a lot of common ground with friends, family and nature featuring highly. I will include some of the ideas we looked at today:

Happiness comes from discovering who you are, developing your distinctive talents to work for the overall benefit of others as well as yourself.

Aristotle’s way of achieving happiness: activities that are in accordance with our virtues and the person having a noble purpose in those activities.

Happiness is having a sense of well-being that is achieved through good living. (Dr Martin Seligman).

According to Aristotle, ethics is about how people should best live, while the study of politics is from the perspective of the law-giver, looking at the good of the whole community (Wikipedia).

We talked about happiness and reflected on other positive emotions of which there are many examples as explored through the Positive Psychology field.

JOY, GRATITUDE, SERENITY, INTEREST, HOPE, PRIDE, AMUSEMENT, INSPIRATION, AWE, ELEVATION, ALTRUISM, SATISFACTION, RELIEF, AFFECTION, CHEERFULNESS, SURPRISE, CONFIDENCE, ADMIRATION, ENTHUSIASM, EAGERNESS, EUPHORIA, CONTENTMENT, ENJOYMENT, OPTIMISM, LOVE

(https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/positive-emotions-list-examples-definition-psychology)

There was plenty of lively discussion and different points of view which made it all the more interesting. Next time we meet we will be looking at Machiavelli.

Philosophy 2019

Next week I will be starting the Let’s Talk Philosophy course for our local University of the Third Age.

This year we will be using the book “50 Philosophy Classics” by Tom Butler Brown. We hope to cover just ten philosophers between now and June. It will really be an introduction to each of the chosen philosophers and we will enjoy some stimulating conversation and hopefully a few laughs!

I usually include a quote by a philosopher as a basis for discussion. Our first one is Aristotle and the quote is:

Aristotle 384BC – 322BC

Do you have any thoughts on the quote? I would love to hear them!

Mooji – The Parable of the Two Birds

Just wanted to share this post from Val at Finding Your Middle Ground. I think it reflects what I was trying to say in my most recent post.

Find Your Middle Ground

This inspiration is from Mooji and is taken from ‘Vaster Than Sky Greater Than Space’.

“Some time ago I saw a picture depicting a parable from the Bhagavad Gita. It showed two birds in a tree, and one of them was building a nest. This one is flying off collecting things, arranging the twigs – its active, doing many things.

Above this bird, on another branch, is a second bird. It looks identical to the first bird, and it’s not building anything. It is just observing. It’s not building a self-image out of its perceiving, and its not deeply interested in any aspect of what it sees. Its perceiving is happening quite spontaneously without effort or judgment. There’s a silence there, that feeling of Being without thought. Just looking.

This is a beautiful portrait of who we are.

These two birds are connected. The first  bird represents our dynamic being…

View original post 246 more words