191 Modern Western philosophy of the United States and Canada
192 Modern Western philosophy of the British Isles
193 Modern Western philosophy of Germany and Austria
194 Modern Western philosophy of France
195 Modern Western philosophy of Italy
196 Modern Western philosophy of Spain and Portugal
197 Modern Western philosophy of the former Soviet Union
198 Modern Western philosophy of Scandinavia
199 Modern Western philosophy in other geographic areas
As we round the final bend of the 100s Tributary (of the Dewey River in the United States of Libraries), let’s take a moment to enjoy the scenery of this particular ecosystem of knowledge we’ve paddled through in the last ten posts. We’ve had our minds blown by huge universal ideas and by the paradox of formerly infinity; we’ve given a new (and probably better) definition of physiognomy and sat on Freud’s couch; and above all we’ve learned that there is so much to learn.
When we’re dealing with trying to capture and organize the sum of human knowledge, I’d say that’s a logical and humbling lesson to let sink in as we venture further into the Deweybyss. Or, to put it as one of the Dew3 picks does, let us move forward with fear and trembling as we get ready to tackle one of the two topics traditionally off-limits at Thanksgiving dinner: religion (the other being politics – we’re coming for you, 320s).
For now, though, let us enjoy the relative tranquility provided by the civil and introspective discussions of the 190s.
The Book of Dead Philosophers
By Simon Critchley
Random Sentence: “He was, in G.K. Chesterton’s words, ‘a huge bull of a man, fat and slow and quiet.’”
I admit that I haven’t been exposed much to ancient philosophy, outside of that college philosophy class I’ve mentioned. I remember being especially taken by Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and its take on friendship. I love learning about different taxonomies and ways of looking at things we take for granted or don’t really think about that much. Like, what does love actually mean? What does it mean to genuinely love someone? When you start asking fundamental questions about the big yet basic elements of life, you begin quite the journey that will end either with your total enlightenment or a complete mental breakdown. Here’s hoping it’s the former.
Of all the subtopics in 140-149, pantheism has the coolest name by far. Its definition and substance are certainly debatable, but having nearly all of the word panther in it makes it the coolest and sexiest of all -isms. (Admittedly not a high bar to hit.)
For probably the first time in Dewey thus far, the number of words in this 10-spot that end in “-ism” far outnumber those that don’t. Translation: It’s about to get ideological up in her’. This is not to say that ideology is bad; it’s simply incomplete most of the time, or limited in its understanding of the world. Believing in only one -ism is impossible, but once you start collecting them your box of -isms becomes a cluttered hoard of old toys that don’t always play well with each other.
107 Education, research, and related topics of philosophy
108 Kinds of persons in philosophy
109 Historical treatment of philosophy
Ahhhhhh… Sam Cooke. Melodically justifying ignorance since 1960. But those of us who don’t know much about philosophy are in luck: Dewey’s got us covered. Having conquered the first 100 Dewey points, we now enter the mind-melting glass case of cognition dedicated to Philosophy and Psychology. This first 10-spot focuses on philosophy, its theories and important historical figures. If you’re like me, you’re now having flashbacks to that Philosophy 101 course you took freshman year that was very stimulating but also made your brain hurt after every session and where you learned how to extend two pages’ worth of substantive arguments into 10 pages of grade-A high-falutin’ BS. (Or was that just me?)
Anyway, I really am fascinated by philosophy, even if I’m not cut out to study it hardcore. (I’m also noticing that it’s a super annoying word to type, at least for hunt-and-pecker like me. For the last time, hands, it’s not philospohy!) A lot of the books in my library were dedicated to making philosophy accessible to laypeople, which is good because it’s often not. Still, it is everywhere, even when it’s not evident. Just ask the Philosoraptor.
The issue of predestination v. free will is inexplicably tied to the issue of evolution v. creationism. Are we here just because we are? Or has our existence been thoroughly planned? A Calvinist would say that we are entirely “on purpose” while an Arminianist would say that we’re completely free from God’s control. In reality, we get a little bit of both.
I haven’t quite figured out why we’re here (and I don’t know if I ever will), but it’s pretty clear to me that we didn’t come from nothing. Even science proves that; matter cannot be completely created or destroyed. Venturing further would require a deeper philosophical discussion, so I guess the point is; we were created, then let be.
God extends his grace to all who wish to accept it–he can’t force you to acknowledge him. But in terms of this world we’ve been placed in, I think God created it and everything in it through a divine process, started spinning the world on its axis, then let it go on its own. He creates every one of us, then lets us decide.
This theory supports both a Calvinist and Arminianist. We are created and equipped with certain attributes that complement and are complemented by a divine presence, but in terms of free will, we are given a great deal. The world spins on its own, and so do we. Why would a divine presence create a living thing only to expect it to remain eternally stagnant and lifeless? Are we not able to grow physically, spiritually, and mentally? Why can’t the world grow as well?
As humans and the earth interact, be it symbiotically or parasitically, so do humans and God. We can choose to believe that everything we do is completely out of our control, that this earth has not changed for however long it’s been in existence, or that we can change it, and choose to change it as we wish. Who knows if any of this makes sense. It made sense in my head.
We’re reading Nicomachaen Ethics in my Philosophy 100 class. In Book IX Aristotle talks about friendship and what it requires. The three kinds of friendship he describes are:
1. utility: where each party finds something of use in the other
2. pleasure: whether it be simply enjoying each others company or sharing a common interest
3. complete: where self-interest is put aside and total moral virtue towards each other is key.
Aristotle claims that one should only have very few complete friendships for they require a lot of work and attention to keep strong. It was also said that there should be no justice among complete friends, meaning one shouldn’t expect everything to remain even. We should be willing to do anything for our friends even if that means not being at even with them. That being said, there are certain necessities for friendship:
-there should be a conscious reciprocity, meaning that the love within the friendship should be able to go both ways
-and that doing things for your friend isn’t something done merely out of goodwill for them. We should be willing to do those things out of complete love for them and not out of charity.
The reason I’m writing about this is because after I heard all of this, I realized that my friendships are always like this. I always seem to need justice within my friendships. This feeling probably comes from the pride within all of us. CS Lewis talked about pride in Mere Christianity as an ugly beast inside of us that works completely against all the good we hope for. It therefore is linked to humility. I want to be able to serve and love my friends without the expectation of eventual justice. It’s a daily battle I think we all fight.