4 Bi Weekly Feedback 5th Question 1st Period

Pick any one of the philosophers that we discussed and choose the one whose ideas are most relevant to your life. Please explain.

My entire being coincides with the inner turmoil or struggle represented by Blaise Pascal in his Pensees. So similarly, I am a fusion of both passion and belief with a serious calculating mindset which I think both sets me back a step but also individualizes me. My mind is divided fundamentally between passion and proof, calculation and consideration, emotion and empiricism. This struggle, this inner decision that comes to consume Pascal’s mind is something that has also approached me and like Pascal, I never truly decided which is more important, only what makes me happiest. My naturally science/math oriented mind forces me always to consider the most basic and fundamental principles of a problem or issue before solving; however, it is my passion, my faith in all things romantic and emotional, that drives even my interest in science to all its potential. (RORS)

I think the philosopher who I identify as the most modern would probably be Sir Francis Bacon. His scientific and logical methods, unlike those of Descartes, I recognize in my daily life in my science classes, in processes of logic, and in any and all forms of inductive reasoning. I think since his ideas were so lasting and relevant to even modern pursuits that he, thus, is the philosopher most relevant in my life. I think the idea of science nourishing faith, popularized by Bacon, is also relevant in my life because I think it is important to understand the role both science and faith play in life, and the fact that Bacon was able to reconcile those two important facets of my life with each other makes him important in my appreciation of both science and religion. -Caroline Beuley

“Seek not the favor of the multitude, but seek the testimony of the few; and number not the voices, but weigh them”. Just in case the quote didn’t serve as an indication, I’m a fan of Immanuel Kant. He believes it’s necessary for us to think in all situations, a challenge I think even the most enlightened among us can rise to. My favorite insight from “What Is Enlightenment?” is that “immaturity in matters of religion is not only most noxious but most dishonorable”, not because I think religion is stupid or useless, I think it’s been quite useful in establishing socially acceptable behaviors, but because I’ve seen too many god-fearing people accept the terms of their religion without really questioning the substance of the terms. By advocating this romanticized, intellectual skepticism, he debunks the idea that without religion we’re immoral, which serves as an indication that even with religion immorality can still exist. By taking the focus off of religion, he forces us to consider us, the people, with our material goods, our wrongdoings, and our shortcomings so that we can be conscious of those things, and work to limit them. To me, that’s an action that’s extremely powerful. We have to strip ourselves bare; look beyond the worldly possessions that bring us happiness, and instead, search for happiness in our thoughts alone. —-TB

Although I can’t pronounce his name, Marquis de Condorcet outlined the methods by which I live my life in “Progress of the Human Mind.” At the basis of Condorcet’s philosophy is human perfection through equality, freedom, and a life without prejudice. All men have “natural rights” that cannot be eliminated, and from exercising these rights through freedom of participation and thought, I also believe we will arrive at “the perfection of human faculties.” I try to mold my life through tolerance of different ideas and cultures, and without the freedom to be true to oneself, the world will never profit from the great things we already have on this earth. I believe that those who refuse to overcome prejudices not only limit themselves, but they also hinder others’ abilities to live life to the fullest. KatieMayo

I would agree with Katie. In my opinion Marquis De Condorcet is the most forward thinker of all the philosophers because his points are what society has been constantly dealing with throughout the course of history. In many ways I believe that War and conflict can all be caused by a lack on tolerance and understanding. The way that Condorcet clarifies the natural rights of men show a certain level of tolerance and respect that should exists among the entire human race. I try my best every day to get to know people based on who they are as a person, as hard as it is sometimes. But if I love others for who they are, then I have found the truth. Condorcet likewise believes that they "progress of equality" goes hand in hand with the "true perfection of mankind". I am a very faithful person, but at the same time have an open mind. I want to trust God, but also reason and learn Science. I felt as though Condorcet addresses both of those topics well. - Ellie Sheild

I agree with Caroline - I think Francis Bacon's ideas make the most sense in my life today. Inductive reasoning, with experiments and observations as first steps, seems to be the most practical way for scientific research to proceed both in his era and in ours. Bacon foresaw a world where scientific researchers had tremendous respect in society - the way many medical and environmental researchers should be treated today, even if this rarely actually happens. Today, Bacon's ideas seem quite natural, but his ideas for standardizing processes in science have made an enormous impact on the world. I think that Bacon's theories about how to gain information are much more applicable to science students' lives than those of Descartes. -Jane Wester

I agree with Jane and Caroline. I believe that Sir Frances Bacon is the most important philosophe in terms of relevance to my life today. While Bacon was in favor of scientific exploration and the experimentation of science, he used some of these scientific ideas to explain superstitious concepts in religion. I too, have to see experimentations and scientific calculations. I am not one to believe everything I hear, but rather I have to experiment with the evidence I am given. I am also in favor of the Bacon’s scientific method, because it eliminates unfair bias and false opinions. Through strict calculation and experimentation, and answer is either right or wrong and there is no in between. I believe that I am a more logical thinker and would agree with Bacon’s logical thought process and reasoning. (Lauren Burton)

I personally identify with Blaise Pascal and his struggle with the contradictions of faith and reason in Pensées. As a Catholic from Alabama, many of my core religious beliefs are not supported by science. Similar to Pascal, I grapple with deciding which are more important: the truths of faith or the proven truths of science. Specifically in “The Wager,” I agree with Pascal’s appreciation and confidence in scientific reasoning. However, when this reasoning contradicts faith, I chose to believe in my faith and the Bible, as did Pascal, saying, “…in the end you will realize that you have wagered on something certain and infinite for which you have paid nothing.” -Meg

Unlike the many Enlightenment philosophers, I believe in neither the perfectibility of humanity nor the goodness of human nature. Contrary to Condorcet’s idealistic view, most are simply comfortable with not challenging the world around them and are content to stay statically entrenched and stymied in their “superstitions.” While the “hypocrisies and fanaticisms” of today may be entirely different from those which caged the minds of 18th century Europeans, it is natural for people to trend toward the path of least resistance: assuming and unquestioning. This is not to say that there are not those who do attempt to break their shackles of ignorance, but the majority of the population likely will never wish to do so. People most often make choices based on a group mentality, not on their own reasoning. We have not, and will not witness a day where “the sun will shine only on free men who know no other master but their reason.” Prejudice, hate, and ignorance are simply too convenient. However, the direction in which the Philosophes wanted to move society is admirable. For all my cynicism, to give up and pronounce the perfection that Condorcet describes as unattainable is to accomplish nothing. Therefore, albeit with the understanding that I cannot greatly or even noticeably change the way all of humanity operates, I like to think I follow more or less the principles described by the Enlightenment figures, such as Condorcet, eschewing irrational thoughts, prejudice, hatred, while trying to better myself with knowledge and by using reason. For I believe the world has become a better place as a result of less authoritarian forms of government and less intolerance: concepts which the Philosophes hailed. -DavisHeniford

The philosopher who I can identify most with is actually probably the one who I would consider the craziest, and that would be Rene Descartes. I mean, he didn't trust anything at all, and this made everyone think he was a little crazy, but really I admire his views. Instead of getting caught up in all the Religion vs. Science skirmishes that were occurring throughout this time period, Descartes broke everything down to its most basic elements, and using as little bias as possible to make deductions about the world around us. He had his head above the fray, and through this he was able to explain things more logically than anyone before him. This guy made a proof for God's existence, which in my opinion perfectly blends science and religion, by using that scientific logic to support a religious view. Descartes almost robotic way of going about his reasoning seems very wild to me, but through this he was able to bring himself onto kind of his own plane, where his view of the truth was not obscured by the views of everyone around him. And this I can certainly respect. CarterWiles

In a life built around hard work, the philosopher I most closely related to was Marquis de Condorcet. He believed that human potential was limitless, and I completely agree with this statement. I believe that morals and reason can progress mankind forward, just like Condorcet believed. This is a time in all of our lives that involves hard work to be successful. Through this hard work, people can achieve more than they thought they would be able to. Condorcet also states that not necessarily those who are most educated will have the most success in life. All one has to know is the alphabet. Our main connection is that we believe morals and reason can propel human society in a way that it never could have suspected, and that progress is limitless. It may be a bit of a humanists mindset, but it is an optimistic one that works for me in an idealistic manner. Robert Jessell

I like Descartes. His radical skepticism is something that I can relate to, because I try (not always successfully) to be skeptical of everything that is presented to me. He strips life down to the most basic principle of existence, saying that this is the only thing you can be sure of. In a time of financial instability, not only should you invest in Rosland Capital gold, but you need to be sure to hedge your bets and be a skeptic. This ensures that every aspect of something is examined from all sides, although he would say that even then you can’t trust it. Also, I often wondered how I can trust that anything actually exists, so it is interesting to know that he had similar thoughts. Matt Borin

I identify the most with Blaise Pascal. I’m a fan of his sharp with and elegant prose, but what really resonates with me is his struggle with the role of Christianity in a period of great scientific discovery. He was a talented mathematician (think Pascal’s triangle, probability theory, and a Pascal as a unit of pressure), but he was also a man of faith. He examined Christianity with the same rational mindset he approached math and science and determined that it is impossible to either prove or disprove the existence of God. This means that Christianity will always be a matter of faith, and not of concrete facts. Ultimately, the idea that either faith or science must be superior to the other, or that one is true and one is false, is incorrect. Science will never be able to prove the existence of God, but neither will it be able to disprove it. Science and faith may be very different, but they aren’t mutually exclusive, and you can certainly believe in both God and science. (Connor Haines)

For me, Descartes offers the most important influence, specifically through tackling an absurd idea rationally. There is an ease and, in many cases, a reward to looking at an idea or object and simply understanding what it is physically, instead of what its value is. The two ways of looking at objects, in my view, underly Descartes mindset of constant questioning. While it is very easy to accept reality and not question our surroundings, this lack of questioning also reflects an acceptance of the surroundings and the faults that the same surroundings have. What Descartes exposes, however, is that we don't need to simply accept what is given, that instead we can question everything and anything. Then, in this constant questioning, we're able to appropriate true value to the world. The critics will argue that questioning the nature of existence holds no value as whether our sense deceive us or not, we still are living in the world of perception. Where I disagree with this criticism lies in that the whole point of questioning existence isn't to expose some matrix like, but to instead establish a new epistemology based completely on doubt. This initial questioning of the existence of the world and then the further proof of ones own existence (cogito ergo sum) provides the backbone for most philosophical investigations to come. Without Descartes questioning, we would never have the questioning of government, religion, or even science to such an extent that he inspires. For me, the greatest impact of Descartes thus comes in the avenues he opens. In doubting everything, we are free to think in new and different ways to discover how the world truly works. Without this constant thought and reflection, I feel that the world (if it exists) would be meaningless. (David Farrow)