Thursday, October 24, 2019

The History of Philosophy

"The School of Athens" by Raphael (1509-10)
You’re not going to ask if reality is a subjective fantasy when a car is coming right at you. Solipsism is an aristocrat who lives in a ivory tour occupied by those who have the leisure to contemplate such matters. Deontology or moral philosophy illustrated by Kant’s categorical imperative may come in handy in everyday life. Do the ends justify the means is a question that falls into this category and it’s something you might find yourself asking in a situation where you’re determined to win at any costs. At what point does the immoral way in which something is done color or tarnish the result? If you’re a phenomenologist like Husserl, Heidegger or Merleau-Ponty, you’re going to be thinking about intention. Here subjectivity rears its head again, but not in terms of whether things exist. Rather it’s a matter of how one perceives them. Individuals have intention toward objects which shapes their idea of them, whereas inanimate objects like tables and chairs, which don’t think, just exist. Sometimes the idea of being a piece of furniture or say a wallflower can be appealing, particularly if there's a hurricane in the offing and you don’t have to worry about your fate—which, if you’re a piece of porch furniture, may be in flying off the patio. How many angels can dance on the top of a pin was a famous question posed by the medieval philosophers? However, don’t forget Buridan’s ass the unique situation, named after a 14th century French philosopher, of an animal dying since it cannot decide whether it wants to eat or drink. It’s by the way reminiscent of “Zeno’s paradox” about Achilles and the tortoise from the Eliatic school of pre-Socratic philosophy (and don't forget the Milesian School, Heraclitus, Anaximander and Thales, who argued the opposite position, that the world is in flux). Of course Achilles is going to beat the tortoise, just like the ass is going to eat his Wheaties, but the impossible situations in which creatures find themselves is always a pretext for conjecture.  

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