Notes for a Lecture on Philosophy. Trident Missiles; pornography; sex shops; 100 million or more: terrifying deaths!


User Warning – For those who are in the ‘childhood of the intellect’ – ‘the long childhood’ – ‘various degrees’ of religious and ideological Revelation.
 

In the ‘childhood of the intellect’ – ‘The Long Childhood’ J.Bronowski  http://www.bbcshop.com/History/Ascent-Of-Man-DVD/invt/bbcdvd1608 (possibly, one of the most important DVD/Video’s that anyone could possibly see, and then understand) 

"Philosophy is the childhood of the intellect, and a culture that tries to skip it will never grow up." Thomas Nagel

Nick Clegg – Liberal Democrat Party (Lib Dems)  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8624009.stm UK Election 2010. "Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg used his final statement at the Leaders’ debate to insist his party offered an alternative to Labour and the Conservatives." (scrap Trident)

All about Trident Missiles  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4805768.stm

Calls to scrap useless Trident http://news.uk.msn.com/uk/article.aspx?cp-documentid=12855391

Not For The Self-Assured Hedonist.

   
A slow and creepy build up to 100 million or more, terrifying and blood curdling deaths, which all stem from one particular (neglected) subject.
       
Why should anyone be interested in philosophy?
       
Why is philosophy important?
       
What exactly is philosophy?
   
Whether I am successful in holding your attention will become empirically clear from the number of people who fall asleep. Empirical, as everyone knows, means verifiable by observation and experiment. It is a word that professional philosophers are very fond of using. An amateur like me tends to use professional words, in the hope of fooling his audience into believing that he knows more about a subject than he really does. Obviously, this audience is far too intelligent to be taken in by such tricks or by flattery. Thus, I shall have no alternative but to stick to plain speaking.
 

Why should anyone be interested in philosophy?

This first question is the most difficult to answer. You will see as we go along that the other two questions are easier to answer. The importance of philosophy may be proved, dare I say – empirically, and what philosophy is – may be explained by reference to its subject matter and purpose. Philosophy like bad pornography is not very nice, and both attract the wrong sort of people. Many would agree that humanity would be better off without philosophy and pornography. 
       
In the fourth century Saint Augustine, who by reason of his profession, had expert knowledge of both activities and made this point forcibly, "There is another form of temptation" he wrote "Even more fraught with danger, this is the disease of curiosity". Philosophy, being a particularly extreme form of curiosity is therefore by its definition, and on the highest authority, very wicked. Therein, of course, lies its attraction and is your answer to the first question. Philosophy, being wicked, makes many people uncomfortable. It deals with assumptions on which a great many normal and everyday beliefs rest. These assumptions, when examined critically often turn out to be insecure, and sometimes, nonsensical. People do not like having their assumptions and beliefs examined: it irritates them! That is why philosophy, although being quite as wicked as pornography is not as popular. As no doubt you have seen in the newspapers; in a praiseworthy attempt to rectify the sad situation the government has asked Bernard Williams Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University to report on the matter. 

No doubt, Professor Williams’s committee will advise setting up, combined sex and philosophy shops in all major towns. Thus, giving the public the best of both worlds. It has been leaked that Labour Members of the Committee would support such action, in lieu of buying Trident Missiles. They point out that it would cost very little more and give employment to many young people, who had shown their aptitude for these disciplines at school!
       
In this country, the most dramatic revolution in philosophy took place in 1936, with the introduction from the continent of what is known as Logical Positivism. The person responsible for importing this new and powerful intellectual tool was A.J.Ayer, who is known to his friends as Freddie. Freddie Ayer (Sir Alfred Ayer) was until recently Professor of Logic at Oxford University. When a young man, he was a pupil of Gilbert Ryle the author of a famous book entitled ‘The Concept of Mind’. In this work, Ryle cleverly proved that neither he nor anyone else possessed such a thing. Thereafter, the mind became known as ‘The Ghost in the Machine’, as people wished to have something above the ears and a ghost was considered better than nothing at all!
       
The importation of Logical Positivism happened this way. Gilbert Ryle having got wind of the secret deliberations of certain philosophers in Vienna said to Freddie Ayer, "Dear boy, pop over and see what’s going on. Infiltrate, you know the form". Freddie Ayer being 22 years of age and healthy, was game to face any dangers, especially an expenses paid one in the gay city of Vienna. These continental philosophers were known as ‘The Vienna Circle’, not to be confused with the ‘The Inner Circle’, an underground group of London philosophers. The leader of ‘The Vienna Circle’ was a man named Carnap and his henchmen were Neuarth and Schlich. Such menacing names did not deter brave Freddie from his mission, although he had been looking forward to studying at Cambridge instead, under the good old Anglo Saxon philosopher Professor Wittgenstein. 
       
Wittgenstein was a mild man, who’s only known fault was a propensity to hit anyone who disagreed with him with a red-hot poker. Incidentally, Wittgenstein having solved the whole of philosophy in a book called ‘Tractatus’ that was written for him by his students from lecture notes, thus, saving him much labour. He may have been a philosopher, but he was no fool and he left University to become a gardener. However, he soon tired of digging and returned to University to solve philosophy all over again, in a book that he modestly entitled ‘Certainty’. The critics remembering his skill with the red-hot poker, gave it enthusiastic reviews.
       
Let us now return to Freddie Ayer and his infiltration of ‘The Vienna Circle’. It soon became evident to him that these foreigners had discovered a new and important philosophical truth. This, somewhat expanded for the sake of clarity was, "What is : is ! What is not: is not ! And, does not exist – perhaps! Unwilling to trust to his memory Ayer made a précis of this message to humankind and returned to Oxford to write the splendid book ‘Language, Truth and Logic’. This has been a best-seller for the past 45 years and is published by Penguin Books in paperback. 
       
Chapter 1 is entitled ‘The Elimination of Metaphysics’ and the first sentence reads, "The traditional disputes of philosophers are for the most part as unwarranted, as they are unfruitful". For some strange reason, the book was not popular with, either philosophers or theologians. Ten years after publication Ayer read the book again and decided that it was all wrong. He brought out a longer edition, in which the first half cancelled out, so to speak, the last half, and everybody was happy again. Except perhaps philosophy students who foolishly complained that books like this muddled them up.
       
We have been having a little joke at the expense of Alfred Ayer and the Logical Positivists. However, in reality Ayer at the age of twenty five was brilliantly successful in clearing away much of the useless verbiage, with which philosophy had become clogged. In essence, he maintained that any statement that in principle could not be verified was just a meaningless noise. Such statements might be emotive or poetic, but should not be the concern of philosophers. They should stick to clarifying concepts and leave everything else to scientists.
       
This somewhat rigid attitude soon came under attack. Philosophers pointed out that at one time; it would have been thought impossible in principle to weigh a star billions of miles away, but now it was commonplace to do so. It followed therefore that the critical examination of things metaphysical might be helpful, as the metaphysics of today, often becomes the physics of tomorrow.
       
I have grossly simplified the arguments over Logical Positivism, but the important point is that Ayer soon attacked his own pet theory and helped to demolish it. 
       
Such an attitude by World Leaders towards their doctrinaire policies would quickly lead to the millennium.
       
With the decline of Logical Positivism, a philosophy known as Existentialism, swept into fashion in Paris after the last war. The philosopher Jean Paul Sartre popularised Existential ideas through his novels and plays. Sartre’s major philosophical work is entitled ‘Being and Nothingness’ and his best-known novel is called ‘Nausea’. These titles, may perhaps convey to you the flavour of his work. As a philosophy Existentialism is anti-rational and self-centred, which no doubt accounts for its continuing popularity.
       
Apart from Sartre, the only philosopher known to the general public is Socrates, who was so wicked that he was condemned to death for impiety and corrupting the youth of Athens. His charge sheet read, "Socrates is an evil doer and a curious person, searching into things under the earth and above the heavens, and making the worse, appear the better cause and teaching all this to others". At his trial in 399 BC prosecuting counsel asked Socrates, "Why should anyone take an interest in philosophy?" Socrates replied, "Sir, the unexamined life is not worth living!" His pupil Plato was heard to murmur, "Better to be Socrates discontented, than a pig contented".
       
We come now to the second question. Why philosophy is important?
       
To this, I will try to give an ’empirical’ answer. It may be said that men, broadly speaking – inhabit two worlds.
      
                                                                                  World One  
       
Comprises their private thoughts, personal goals and actions, in order to achieve them.
       
                                                                                  World Two 
       
World two consisting of the Nation State in which they live. The State impinges on their lives, by making the laws they must obey and deciding policy towards other Nation States. Internal laws and external policy are mostly determined on a day-to-day basis, and without consulting the individual. Constant referendums or elections, whether genuine, or rigged, are impractical.  
       
This is the world of political philosophy and philosophers are responsible for it. It is true that men of action have performed the labour of creating it, done the dirty work, if you like to put it that way, but their bosses have been the philosophers. To think of the philosopher scribbling away in his study as being a harmless word spinner, is as manifestly untrue, as it is naive. He is the most formidable person and the unacknowledged legislator of humankind, for good or for evil. All educated people should be interested in what he writes, for his words will dictate the kind of world their children will live in. He is scribbling away now in Europe, America, Russia and China; quietly determining the future. He does not appear on television to peddle his wares. He lights a slow paper fuse, which cannot be extinguished and the bomb explodes after he is dead! 
       
Fascist ideology has its roots in the writings of Rousseau, Fichte, and the quiet Professor Nietzsche (1844-1900). Nietzsche wrote "The object is to attain that enormous energy of greatness, which can model the man of the future by means of discipline, and also, by means of the annihilation of millions, and which, can yet avoid going to ruin at the sight of the suffering created thereby, the like of which has never been seen before… A new vast aristocracy based upon the most severe self-discipline, in which, the will of philosophical men of power and artist-tyrants will be stamped upon for thousands of years". 
       
Adolf Hitler thought it great stuff and modelled his life on it, "If men will read my works" Nietzsche wrote, "A certain percentage of them inspired by my philosophy, can preserve and restore Aristocracy, with themselves as Aristocrats. In this way they will achieve a fuller life than they can have as servants of the people". It is evident that some ambitious and intelligent men did indeed read his works and were inspired by them, and put theory into practice. From the 1967 to 1974 ‘The Era of the Greek Colonels’, to the present rulers of many modern states. I submit to you that the philosophy of Professor Nietzsche of Basel is still alive and well !
       
The other makers of the modern world are the philosophers of the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries. 
       
John Locke (1632-1704), John Stuart Mill (1806-73), Hegel (1770-1831), Karl Marx (1818-83). To quote from a modern textbook, "It is accurate to say that John Locke was the architect of democracy as it exists in the western world today". A careful study of the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution reveals both documents to be replete with such phrases as, "All men are created equal, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – we hold these truths to be self-evident", and, so forth, which are culled almost literally from Locke’s book "Second Treatise on Civil Government".
       
Nevertheless, there is no way round the fact that the personal achievement of the philosopher Karl Marx is without parallel in the history of humankind. There he was, an elderly intellectual, living in Hampstead (London) and devoting his day to reading and writing. However, in less than seventy years of his death, one-third of the human race, including, the whole of the Russian Empire and the whole of China, had adopted forms of society that called themselves by his name. He was not a man of action or a preacher, he studied and wrote, often in appalling poverty. In addition, today, an interest in his philosophy is always their amongst the intelligent young, in the universities and in the political parties. 
       
There are Christian Marxists, Islamic Marxists, Bennite Marxists, and ’57’ other varieties of his disciples. Academic studies indicate that his philosophy has been the cause of the death of over one hundred million humans. Who knows, how many millions more it may cause in the future.
       
The question was, ‘Why is philosophy important’? My case rests – as the lawyers say.
       
The reason for the popularity of Marxism is that it provides a sweeping, detailed, and intellectually coherent explanation, of past, present, and future history, in which man’s fate is linked with that of the Cosmos and the "total certainty" that the human mind requires. Marxism has its sacred books, and prophets, its sects, and schisms, and excommunications, its persecutions, and inquisitions, its martyrs, and its millions of slaughtered heretics. A cynic would say that it has everything going for it!
       
Incidentally, the philosopher and former Marxist Sir Karl Popper utterly destroyed ‘The Theory of Marxism’ in his book ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies’. 
       
We now come to the final question, ‘What exactly is philosophy’?
       
Philosophy began with Thales in the fifth century BC. Thales was a smart Greek, who made a fortune by cornering all the oil presses in advance of a bumper olive crop. This enabled him to opt out of the rat race and having nothing better to do, he decided to invent Philosophy. Realizing that the first philosopher would be expected to say something profound, he visited the local bistro to meditate on the matter. After a few glasses of Ouzo, inspiration came to him and he was able to announce to the anxiously awaiting company, the first philosophic statement, namely, "Everything is made of water". In this, he was almost two thirds correct, as water is two-thirds hydrogen and ninety per cent of the universe consists of hydrogen. Thus, philosophy got off to good start and some say, "It has been nowhere near as right about anything since"!
       
Before the invention of philosophy, natural occurrences were accounted for by the activities of gods, as they still are today by many people. The great contribution of Thales and his successors was to show intelligent men, how to challenge superstition and to seek rational explanations for events and for human behaviour. After the second century AD, philosophy became submerged in the dark waters of theology and remained so, until the time of Bacon and Descartes early in the seventeenth century. Much of modern philosophy is highly technical and is allied to science, mathematics, and theories of language. 
       
Nevertheless, the interested non-professional may easily understand the writings of philosophers such as Bertrand Russell, Sir Alfred Ayer, Sir Karl Popper and Sir Isaiah Berlin. Their books are often masterpieces of clarity and wit. Russell received the Nobel Prize for literature and his answer to the question, "What is philosophy" is the best that I know.
       
"Philosophy is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge, has so far been unascertainable, but like science it appeals to human reason, rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or that of revelation. All definite knowledge, so I should contend, belongs to science, all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. However, between theology and science, there is a ‘no man’s land’ exposed to attack from both sides. This ‘no man’s land’ is philosophy. Almost all the questions of most interest to speculative minds, are such as science cannot answer and the confident answers of theologians, no longer seem as convincing as they did in former centuries. Is the world divided into mind and matter, and if so, "What is mind and what is matter"? Is mind subject to matter or is it possessed of independent powers? Has the universe any unity or purpose? Is it evolving towards some goal? Are there really laws of nature or do we believe in them only because of our innate love of order? 
       
Is man what he seems to the astronomer, "A tiny lump of impure carbon and water impotently crawling on a small and unimportant planet"? Is there a way of living that is noble, and another that is base, or is: all ways of living merely futile? If there is a way of living that is noble, in what does it consist and how shall we achieve it"? To such questions, no answer can be found in the laboratory. The studying of these questions, if not the answering of them is the business of philosophy. Why then you may ask waste time on such insoluble problems? Ever since men became capable of free speculation, their actions in innumerable important respects have depended on their theories as to the world and human life, as to what is good and what is evil. This is as true in the present day as at any former time. To understand an age or a nation, we must understand its philosophy, and to understand its philosophy, we must ourselves be in some degree philosophers.
       
There is, also, however, a more personal answer, "Science tells us what we can know, but what we can know is little, and if we forget how much we cannot know, we become insensitive to many things of very great importance. Theology, on the other hand, induces a dogmatic belief that we have knowledge, where, in fact, we have ignorance, and by doing so generates a kind of impertinent insolence towards the universe. Uncertainty, in the presence of vivid hopes and fears is painful, but must be endured if we wish to live without the support of comforting fairy tales. To teach how to live without certainty, and yet, without being paralysed by hesitation is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy in our age can still do for those who study it.
       
Philosophy is not for self-assured hedonists, who know everything they want to know. Nor is it for those who feel no need to look beyond the mostly limited horizon of family, friends and occupation. However, for someone who can spare a moment to lift his brow from the furrow and his eyes from the ledger it will have a certain charm!     
       
In the Fifth Century BC Euripides wrote, "Blessed is he who learns how to engage in inquiry, with no impulse to harm his countrymen or to pursue wrongful actions, but perceives the order of immortal and ageless nature, how it is structured" !
       
And nearly one thousand years later St Augustine, "There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity… It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing: and which, man should not wish to learn" !
       
Is this why some of our children are so bored out of their brains, and/or, so disruptive and self-mutilate today?

The best book, besides the many others that I have listed, helping to prevent your mind being taken over by the persuasive idiocies of  the shallower popular press and media is F.A. Hayek ‘The Road to Serfdom’ a Routledge Classics at www.routledgeclassics.com

http://luckyme0.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!A18BF3FCC5E126A2!1279.entry

Global Zero http://www.globalzero.org/en

About luckyme0

My First family, second marriage, bringing up my 18-year-old twins, boy, and girl. I am a third generation Humanist, who has some old handwritten information and notes; collected over many years. Someone may find the articles interesting, or helpful. They could bring back a little ‘reality’, after being ‘shocked’ and ‘brainwashed’, by some malicious group, or institution (REBT Therapy). People should know better, than to do this, to our very young, and the ‘obviously’ vulnerable! Go to easily accessible, non-superstitious knowledge that is not charlatanism! https://charleslizzy.com/2011/08/06/independent-schools-inspectorate-isi-marketing-spirituality-buzzword-or-maybe-even-for-you-to-shiver-at-the-something/ The blog has given me an incentive to order my thoughts, learn, and read up again, after a few non-thinking years of (very silly) imagination and passion. Why not, get your own key to a ‘door’, customise it to suit you, and it can be, all of your very own! Don’t believe, or be led by someone else’s; inherited, stupid, and a very likely (past, and not of today’s) ‘totally preposterous reality’s’. Only some interest in the ‘really big questions’, keeps life above the level of a farce, and very little else! KEEP THINKING! Some of the posts may need some correcting. Interests: REBT Counselling, Atheism, Secularism, Humanism, Psychology, Reading, Popular Science, School Ethos, Philosophy, History, Family, Parenting, Psychology, Horse Riding, Sailing, Rescue Boat Driver, Skiing (Teppichswinger), TV Documentaries, Motorbike Cross Country Riding, Volunteer Sports Stewarding, Writing, Primitive Man, Pre-history, Social Anthropology, British Humanist Association, BHA, Meaning of Life, The Big Questions, Where am I, What am I, Why am I, Hippie Love, Knowledge, Education, Globalisation. Favorite quote: “The world belongs to those who, at least to some degree, have figured it out.” Carl Sagan, ‘The Demon Haunted World’, ‘Contact’, and other famous books DVD ‘Cosmos’. The warning of another and horrendous, “Age of Superstition”. “Isn’t there something deeply absurd in the presumption that children ought to inherit beliefs from their parents. It can be deeply damaging, even lethally divisive. A ‘them’, with an ‘against us’, mentality” – Professor Richard Dawkins. “The will to believe is stronger than mere reason in the vast majority of people” – Dr J.Brown, Army Psychologist of the 1960′s. Humans will believe in almost anything, in fact, they seek it! Why? “98% of us, trained to be just good consumers, let’s train our children to be the 2% who have their very own creativity and discernment”; quote by a famous surreal artist. “The lack of reason brings forth monsters”. “Global interconnectedness is lethal against mass religion, nationalism, racism, and other destructive memeplexes. Let us connect everybody they hate it in restrictive regimes”; from the ‘meme learning group’, Richard Brodie’s book, ‘Virus Of The Mind’ (Richard Brodie a designer for ‘Microsoft Word’). Following on, J.Bronowski, and ‘The Ascent Of Man’ TV series, and a book http://www.bbcshop.com/science+nature/the-ascent-of-man/invt/9781849901154/ with the last DVD in this series, ‘The Long Childhood’ being especially revealing. ‘Prehistory’ and the ‘Making of the Human Mind’ by Colin Renfrew, with P.Wilson’s, ‘The Domestication of the Human Species’, and Nigel Spivey’s, TV series and book, ‘How Art Made The World’, offers some further explanations. Latest reading: Jared Diamond http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Diamond
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