4 Bi Weekly Feedback 5th Question 7th Period

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

I think the ideas of Rene Descartes are most relevant to my life in many ways. I relate well to his love of mathematics and the pursuit of a reasonable and rational answer to a problem. Like Descartes, I can be quite skeptical though not to the same extent. I trust my own senses to provide me with truths about the world around me, but whenever someone tells me something, I find myself needing to know why that must be true. Why does decreasing the volume of a gas increase its pressure? Why must you use the subjunctive after words like “dudar” or “ no creer”? Why do derivatives not exist at corner points? In order to learn at my best, I cannot accept the words of my teachers without some rational explanation as to why their argument is valid. I think most people in this school would agree that in order to truly understand a given topic (versus memorizing the material for the sake of a test), it is necessary to ask why? And when I can reason that the answer to a question is rational and in accordance with what I have observed to be true, only then can I accept it as fact. ~Ashley

I think the philosophy of Sir Frances Bacon is perhaps the most applicable to my life especially as a Christian. Bacon’s new epistemology of inductive reasoning-to start with what you observe to develop general theory seems the most rational approach (as opposed to Descartes’s deductive reasoning). Daily we observe with our senses and though we don’t experiment, the recurring results, etc. lead us to know certain truths. Another aspect of his way to find truth was the acknowledgement and even nourishment of religion through science. This thought sort of made me think about what Col. Collins said in the assembly the other day about the wonder of the human body. I think Bacon would agree here that through science we can explore and understand further the human body, yet this scientific examination also fosters an appreciation for religion and the power of, in this case, God. Bacon’s inductive reasoning in a way goes hand in hand with religion. -Becca

The ideas of Rene Descartes are most relevant to my life. I appreciate the regimented and logical approach to questions and his emphasis on rational thought and deductive reasoning, especially as a math-science person and a horrible cynic. I personally only believe what can be mathematically proved, because physical senses and other such matters of "proof" are often contaminated by emotions, and though there is a time and place for subjective, personalized truths, I like to think that the truths of the universe are rigid and, well, universal. Numerical proofs, on the other hand, do not lie. Personally, the best example I can give is my views on religion (which, for the record, Descartes would not have agreed with, but I'm applying the philosophy here, so bear with me). I accept the religious views of others, but I am technically an agnostic, which means I don't know whether or not God exists. Even if I did believe wholeheartedly in God, I would not be able to accept His existence as fact, even if I believed in it, because I believe in all sorts of things that turn out to be lies. However, I cannot directly reject the existence of God because it is not possible to disprove His existence, though some specific religious teachings have been the subject of many atheist tumblrs. That's mostly the first rule in action, but the others are often used in mathematical proofs, and that's enough for me to believe in them. —Connie

I relate to the philosophy of Pascal because I like how he tried to reconcile science and religion. Descartes thought Pascal’s journal represented an “intellectual and spiritual crisis.” Like Pascal, I’m indecisive about a lot of things. I’ve gone to church my whole life but I’m still not sure I totally agree with the Christian doctrine, and I couldn’t decide who to vote for until the weekend before the election. While frustrating at times, I think indecision can be a good thing because it shows a very balanced viewpoint. I also liked the way that Pascal compared believing in God to believing that infinity exists, although he uses the word “infinite” too much. Like Connie, I don’t think that you can rationally prove God’s existence one way or the other, but that doesn’t mean it’s not rational to believe in God. Still, because it is not certain that God exists, it’s not okay to make other people choose to believe in him. (If we could use reason to prove that God exists, then there would not be so much controversy and disagreement over religion.) -Grace

I think that the Marquis de Condorcet’s philosophy is most relevant to my life at this moment in time because of its optimism. After getting a really bad test grade, it’s good to remember that, “the perfectibility of man is truly indefinite,” so there will always be a chance to perfect your understanding of material, or get your grades up. I also think that his emphasis on equality is very important, because, as recent elections have shown, the gay rights movement is gaining momentum and will certainly be a topic of political discussions in the near future. A final point I find important is his emphasis on education “beyond the catechism and the alphabet,” which to me means learning through experience, and being aware of the world around us. Overall, his message is uplifting and makes me remember in this turbulent year that there are no limits to what my reason could allow me to do, and that I am a part of this bigger community that I can use my reason to improve. -Alexis

The ideas of Blaise Pascal are more relevant to my life even though I do not agree with a lot of his statements in Pensees. Pascal claims that it is unreasonable not to believe in a higher power, and that if one just pretends to believe it will eventually become habit. I disagree with this. I am not religious, but I have grown up in a society where religion is common, so I have often struggled with my beliefs and whether or not religion is worth my time, as Pascal does in Pensees. - Erin.

I think I can relate my life to the philosophy of Blaise Pascal because I have questioned my faith before. Even without religious training people recognize that there is a higher being that is above us. Pascal’s argument is legitimate in my life because I do go to Church and believe in God but even if I didn’t go to church I would still recognize a presence of a higher being. I think the wager is based on moral standards and if you reject religion altogether or you reject secular things then your life would still be unfulfilled. I’m content with accepting the reality of religion because it instills values and tradition in my life and still combining whatever else I deem fulfilling to direct how I live my life. - Chuka

The ideas of Descartes are easy to relate to my own life. As the ultimate skeptic, he questioned everything, and did not even take physical proof as fact. He questioned if he himself even existed. I don't think I'm as extreme as him at all, but I still see myself as skeptical in many aspects. I have a hard time believing the words of others, and it takes substantial proof to change my mind on a topic. His use of deductive reasoning appeals to me. Descartes proved things with complex proofs, that were not always physically true, but at least logically sound. I like how he used the scientific thought process in non-scientific manners, such as his own existence. - Hayes