Notes from: The Elements of Philosophy.

Philosophy is about the big themes:

Knowledge, Reason, Truth, Mind, Freedom, Destiny, Identity, GOD, Goodness, Justice.

The philosopher studies the structure of thoughts.
Human beings are relentlessly capable of reflecting upon themselves.

Philosophy is not about how much we know. Its is more about how little we know - Socrates.

Logic has only one concern. It is concerned whether
There is NO way that the premise could be true without the conclusions being ALSO true.

Does GOD exists.
GOD the being: "something-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought", exists
Theism is the belief that God exists.
Atheism is the belief the God does not exists.
Agnosticism is the belief that sufficient evidence is not available to decide whether God exists.
Charles Tanti de Bono(1943 - ): You see a fly and it annoys you. You kill it. One second the fly was flying around. Now it is dead. Can any power on earth bring it back to life. NO. Then who gave the fly life in the first place. GOD - that's who.
The Principle of Sufficient Reason.
If we see a watch lying on a table, it would be utterly foolish to say that the watch made itself or that it got there by itself. Nobody in their right mind would think something like that was ever possible.
Therefore: It is strange indeed that a world such as ours should exist, yet few people are very often struck by this strangeness but simply take it for granted.
This illustrates a metaphysical belief that seems to be almost a part of reason itself, even though few ever think upon it, the belief, namely, that: There is some explanation for the existence of anything whatever, some reason why it should exist rather than not - Richard Taylor(1919-2003).
William Paley(1743-1805): The world we see must be the work of a supreme mind responsible for the order, ie. GOD.
For it is one thing for an object to exist in the mind, and another thing to understand that an object really exists.
The Problem of Evil.
If God is perfectly loving, he must wish to abolish evil, and if he is all powerful, he must be able to abolish evil.
But evil exists, therefore God cannot be both omnipotent and perfectly loving.
Augustine(354-430): Evil represents the going wrong of something that in itself is good.
Christian thought has always considered moral evil in its relation to moral freedom and responsibility.
Consequently, the possibility of wrongdoing or sin is logically inseparable from the creation of finite persons, and to say that God should not have created beings who might sin amounts to saying that he should not have created people.
If all our thoughts and actions are divinely predestined however free and morally responsible we may seem to be to ourselves, we cannot be free and morally responsible in the sight of God, but must instead be his helpless puppets.
Creatures who lack moral freedom, however superior they might be to human beings in other respects, would not be what we mean by persons.
For we can never provide a complete casual explanation of a FREE ACT. If we could, it would not be a FREE ACT.
The origin of moral evil lies forever concealed within the mystery of Human Freedom.
The Problem of Good.
Could a world containing evil have been created by an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being.
Let us restate the problem of Goodness in a more formal fashion:

1. Assume that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnimalevolent demon created the world.
2. If the demon exists, the world would contain no goodness.
3. But the world contains Goodness.
4. Therefore the demon does not exists.

By the same token, we can restate the problem of evil:

1. Assume that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God created the world.
2. If God exists, the world would contain no evil.
3. But the world contains evil.
4. Therefore God does not exists.

In my view these arguments are pointless and meaningless.

Theists find the hypothesis of creation by a benevolent deity far more plausible than the hypothesis of creation by a malevolent demon. Therefore they believe the problem of goodness to be irrelevant.
Grounds for Belief.
Either God is or he is not. But to which view shall we be inclined? Reason cannot decide this question.
If there is a God, he is infinitely beyond our comprehension, since, being indivisible and without limits, he bears no relation to us. We are therefore incapable of knowing either what he is or whether he is.
Blaise Pascal(1623-1662):
Pascal's Wager.

1. If you believe in God and God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven.
2. If you do not believe in God and God does exist, you will be condemned to remain in hell forever.
3. If you believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded. You lose nothing.
4. If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded. You gain nothing.

Therefore if you wager that God does not exist, you stand to gain nothing. You are making a sucker's bet.

The Ethics of Belief.
William Kingdom Clifford(1845-1879): It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything, upon insufficient evidence.
He who truly believes that which prompts him to an action has looked upon the action to lust after it, he has committed it already in his heart.
No simplicity of mind, no obscurity of station, can escape the universal duty of questioning all that we believe.
Every time we let ourselves believe for unworthy reason, we weaken our powers of self-control, of doubting,of judicially and fairly weighing evidence.
The Will to Believe.
He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he tried and failed.
We may regard the chase for truth as paramount and the avoidance of error as secondary, or we may, on the other hand, treat the avoidance of error as more imperative and let truth take its chance.
Moral questions immediately present themselves as questions whose solution cannot wait for sensible proof.
Science can tell us what exists, but to compare the worths, both of what exists and of what does not exist, we must consult not science, but what Pascal calls our heart...
The Hiddenness of God.
If God exists but is hidden, this is a perplexing state of affairs. One reason that is perplexing is internal to theism and arises from the fact that the theistic traditions place such importance on Belief.
Part of the cost of divine hiddenness is its contribution to the large scale failure of human beings to respond to God in ways that seem appropriate in the case of a good, just and wise creator.
If God exists and if the facts about God were as clear as they could be, there might not be as much room for disagreement, and hence such disagreement would not contribute to social conflict.
The mystery surrounding God also provides opportunities for charlatans and frauds to pose as experts on the nature and activities of God, and for religious authorities in numerous traditions to acquire and exercise, and sometimes abuse, power and control over others.
Thus if God were not hidden, and the facts about God were clear for all to see, it appears that belief would be easier.
There is then, some reason to think that, if God exits, it must not matter greatly to God whether we believe.
God and Science.
Nicholas Everitt: Scientific evidence about the nature and size of the universe is in tension with views that suggest that the universe was created by a divine being.
Theism tells us that God is a being who is omnipotent and omniscient, wholly self-sufficient, with no needs, or flasks, or deficiencies of any kind.
For reasons that are not entirely clear, God decides to create a universe in which human beings will be the jewel.
Although he will have a care for the whole of his creation, God will have an especial care for human beings. He will give these creatures the power of free choice. Exactly what this power is, no one can agree.
Among the more likely scenarios is a universe somewhat like the one presented to us in the story of Genesis.
Moral Philosophy.
Moral Philosophy or Ethics is concerned with questions of right or wrong, good and bad.
There are three major Ethical Theories.
1. Utilitarianism: John Stuart Hill(1806-1873) British Philosopher.
2. Deontology: Immanuel Kant; German Philosopher.
3. Virtue: Aristotle(384-322 BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher.
According to utilitarianism an act is right insofar as it produces the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.
John Stuart Hill: Morally right acts are those that promote happiness, whereas morally wrong acts are those that reduce happiness.
Deontology holds that which makes an act morally right is that it is performed for the right sort of reasons. Kant argues that a good will is the only thing that is good in itself.
Aristotle: Virtue theorists focus on the character of the person performing the act. A virtuous character is acquired by constantly acting with responsive moderation; in the right way, at the right time, for the right sort of reasons.
Are the wealthy morally obligated to share their resources with those whose basic needs are not met.
God helps those who help themselves.
Cultural Relativism and Political Philosophy.
1. Different societies have different moral codes.
2. There is no "universal truth" in ethics; that is there are no moral truths that hold for all people at all times.
3. It is mere arrogance for us to try to judge the conduct of other people.
It is commonly held that there is no natural political inequality: no one is born with a right to rule over others. This idea is the cornerstone of modern political philosophy: facts about who rules are not facts of nature, rather, they are grounded in conventions.
Thomas Hobbes(1588-1679): If we lived in a state of nature where there was no political authority, then out lives would be ridden with fears of destruction and death.
John Rawls(1921-2002): Rawls focuses on the kinds of institutions with the deepest impact on people's lives, such as education, family and political and asks what principles should regulate them. He argues that these principles include a principle of equal liberty, according to which any inequalities in opportunity or circumstance should be minimized so that the worst off are as best off as possible. To be Continued
Robert Nozick(1938-2002): The only justifiable state is one that takes personal liberty to be the fundamental political value.
Just War: War is the most brutal and terrible form of large-scale human behavior. Is there such a thing as a morally just way to conduct a war once it has begun?
The Theory of Justice and The Role of Justice.
So that in the nature of man, we find three principle causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory.
Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.
The rights received by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests.
Laws and Institutions no matter how efficient and well arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust.
Justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others.
Being first virtues of human activities, truth and justice are uncompromising.
The justice of a social scheme depends essentially on how fundamental rights and duties are assigned and on the economic opportunities and social conditions in the various sectors of society.
Metaphysics and Epistemology.
Knowledge and Reality.
Defining Knowledge: Plato(427-347 BCE): To know something is more than merely to believe something truly. When one knows something, he suggests, one's true belief is, in a metaphysical sense, "tied down" to one's grounds for it. "Knowledge is justified true belief."
The soul according to Plato, is, in itself, perfectly equipped to go beyond appearances and thus gain access to reality, but to do so, it must switch its attention from the "visible" to the "intelligible realm".
The skeptic about knowledge argues that we know very little or nothing of what we think we know.
We cannot lay the specter of skepticism to rest without first hearing what it shall unfold.
The problem of skepticism about the external world, or Cartesian skepticism, has its roots in the under determination of the theory of evidence.
To be sure, science adds great power and coherence to our explanations of phenomena, and one might argue that no explanatory scheme the skeptic devises could seriously compete with our best scientific theories.
All the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of Fact.
It may, therefore, be a subject of worthy curiosity, to enquire what is the nature of that evidence which assures us of any real existence and matter of fact, beyond the present testimony of our senses, or the records of our memory.
It is one thing to describe how people go about seeking to extend their knowledge; it is quite another to claim that the methods employed actually do yield knowledge.
One of the basic differences between knowledge and belief is that knowledge must be founded upon evidence.
Metaphysics. Time and Time Travel.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that is concerned with fundamental questions about the nature of reality.
Albert Einstein(1879-1955): Simultaneity is relative: two events that occur at the same time from the perspective of one observer may occur at different times from the perspective of another.
David Lewis(1941-2001): Understood properly, he suggests time travel is metaphysically possible, in the sense that the idea does not give rise to any contradictions.
Free Will.
On the one hand, it seems clear that all events have causes; on the other, it seems clear that human beings can act freely in accordance with their will.
John Locke(1632-1704): He argues that questions about identity overtime have different sorts of answers. Self conscious beings persist through chains of psychological connections like memory and anticipation.
Alfred Jules Ayer(1910 - 1989): Ayer defends the view that free will and moral responsibility are compatible with casual determinism.
For a man is not thought to be morally responsible for an act that it was not in his power to avoid.
Now it is commonly assumed both that men are capable of acting freely, in the sense that is required to make them morally responsible, and that human behaviour is entirely governed by casual laws; and it is the apparent conflict between these two assumptions that gives rise to the philosophical problem of the freedom of the will.
For it is not when my action has any cause at all, but only when it has a special sort of cause, that it is reckoned not to be free.
Roderick Chisholm(1916 - 1999): Chisholm defends a libertarian view of free will, arguing that although free will is incompatible with determinism, we nonetheless do act freely.
Johnathan Edwards(1703 - 1758) and G. E. Moore(1873 - 1958):

One proceeds as follows: The expression:

(a) He could have done otherwise,

it is argued, means no more no less than:

(b) If he had chosen to do otherwise, then he would have done otherwise.

(c) He could have chosen to do otherwise.

Charles Tanti de Bono(1943 - ): God created humans with Free Will. It is as simple as that.
Life and Death.
Among the most profound questions that we face are how we should live life and how we should confront death.
Jean-Paul Sartre(1905 - 1990): We are condemned to a life of perilous freedom: although we did not choose to be authors of our own fate, it is we alone who are responsible for all that we do.
Derek Parfit(1942 - ): "What makes someone's life Go Best?"

(1) According to hedonistic theories, someone's life goes well insofar as it is filled with happiness.

(2) According to desire-fulfillment theories, someone's life goes well insofar as the person's desires are fulfilled.

(3) According to objective list theories, someone's life goes well, insofar as certain objectively specified things occur or fail to occur in the course of his or her lifetime.

Socrates suggests that: it is only when all the parts of the human soul are in proper harmony that authentic happiness is possible.
Jean-Paul Sartre(1905 - 1980): Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. Such is the first principle of existentialism.

If existence really does precedes essence, man is responsible for what he is.

Man is condemned to be free. Condemned because he did not create himself, yet, in other respects is free: because: once thrown into this world, he is responsible for everything he does.
It is a universal fact of earthly human existence that each of us is mortal. How should we confront this inevitable truth.
Thomas Nagel(1937 - ): Considers the view that what is disturbing about death is that it deprives us of experiences that we might otherwise have had.
If death is the unequivocal and permanent end of our existence, the question arises whether it is a bad thing to die.
One's attitude toward immortality must depend in part on one's attitude toward death.
Death brings to an end all the goods that life contains.
None of us existed before we were born but few regard that as a misfortune.
Christianity has spread the horror of death through its threats of hell and its perennial attempts to frighten people into repentance on the threshold of eternity.
Charles Tanti de Bono(1943 - ): Death is only the beginning, because the Soul is immortal.
The End.