Outcome of Genealogy

Foucault in Power/Knowledge, through his “Two Lectures” proposes the idea that individuals are not separate from power nor can they stand objectively in relation to it; instead they are the effects of power. The individual as an effect of power is to be seen as a symptom of a type of power that is power relations that that intersect and embed within the individual morally and bodily. Foucault essentially speaks of a form of power ontology which is to an extent distinct from the one presented by Nietzsche in “On The Genealogy of Morals”.
However, in Foucault’s “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History”, genealogy creates an interesting outcome. In genealogy there are three uses of what Nietzsche refers to as the ‘historical sense’ that create what Foucault would categorize as an alternative-memory. The alternative-memory here would mean a division from any anthropological and metaphysical modals of history and hence break with traditional history or the dialectic. This divorce from dialectic then opens up a new conception of time that can account for what the dialectic can not account for concerning history and time and taking away pretend objectivities and the superstitions of truth which could hinder or pose a threat to humanity. In the last section of the essay, Foucault asserts that there are three uses that historical sense gives rise to , which all correlate with and opposes the modalities of history suggested by Platonism. The first use is what is called the parodic and refers to the use of history in which the historian offers people the prospect of changing their identities by presenting them individual historical figures as alternatives. This venerates past identities and past events but never gives a new interpretation or an honest sense of transformation concerning someone’s identity. In contrast to this, Foucault mentions that the genealogist will know that this method is only a disguise that points to our unreality as a symptom does to a disease. The genealogist’s response to the historian’s charade will be to push the masquerade of identities to the breaking point and “prepare the great carnival of time where masks are constantly reappearing” (Foucault 94). This push by the genealogist will supposedly create dissociation with the identities of the past in regards to our own fragile identity and create an ‘unrealization’ through the myriad choices of possible identities from the past.(94) By taking up these masks we are giving new life to the ridiculousness of history and possibly finding a new realm of originality by parodying history by a force interpreting an old mask. This is in contrast to veneration-this is parody. Foucault points out that Nietzsche in his Untimely Meditations called this parodying “monumental history” in which so called high points in historical development were to be reestablished (94). This reestablishing of historical high points was later criticized by Nietzsche as restricting access to the actual creation of life and its intensities. Thus we now have Nietzsche parodying the monumental.
The second use of historical sense is to systematically dissociate and destabilize identity. This second use opposes itself to any ideas of a stable identity or the rediscovery of a forgotten identity by analyzing history, and is against what Nietzsche would call “antiquarian history” which tries to create continuities with the past rooting our present to it or as Nietzsche says “it tries to conserve for posterity the conditions under which we are born” (95). Nietzsche criticizes this form of history for restricting creativity and instead supporting laws of loyalty to the continuity of the past and present. In response to this form of history, genealogy makes us question our so called native language, native land and what governs us , to expose the heterogeneous systems that intersect us and inhibit any formation of an identity, though all the while masked by what we phenomenologically experience as the self.
The third use of the historical sense is in regards to the sacrifice of the subject of knowledge. When Foucault looks at this particular part he mostly goes over Nietzsche’s warning of the will to knowledge which also wills a fuel to truth. The will to knowledge functions as historically and psychologically to require a sacrifice , a sacrifice that has mutated from a religious sacrifice of bodies to that of knowledge which requires the subject and humanity at large. Nietzsche’s warning of the will to knowledge and the will to truth are seen all over his texts, and indicate that this will to knowledge knows no limits and no sacrifice is too great, save for its own death. As we can already see the will to knowledge spawns a will to truth which indicates a point of end or limit, though in how it functions breaks apart all limits such as superstitions, and illusions. The way in which the will to knowledge functions then exposes a contradiction within its functionality and structure and re-installs new superstitions and illusions such as a truth or objectivity. I think that this could also reveal a self-deluding pathology within the seekers of knowledge and truth. We then have Foucault saying about the will to knowledge that “it creates a progressive enslavement to its instinctive violence” (96).

Why the Farmer Made the Best Citizen

Trying to rescue virtue from the morally deluded Europe, Jean-Jacques Rousseau took a surprising stance on the question proposed by the Academy of Dijon. In his response, Rousseau stated that the arts and sciences bring about not only the dissolution of morals but also the corruption of tastes. In fact, it is because the arts and sciences “owe their birth to our vices” that he could be certain of their disadvantages (48). Their origin was traced by Rousseau to an even larger issue in European society. Just as in Plato’s Republic, the first harm to the city was luxury: “luxury rarely develops without the science and arts, and they never develop without it” (50). In Rousseau’s Discourse, luxury signified a misuse of time. In addition, Rousseau considered idleness to be one of the greatest evils to society. The issue for Rousseau transformed from the arts and sciences and became the misuse of time, which laid the foundations for art and science to appear: “born in idleness, they nourish it in turn; and irreparable loss of time is the first injury they necessarily cause society” (49). Idleness was the root of evil in a society, and “every useless citizen may be considered a pernicious man” (49). If wasting time and being useless were the causes of corruption, then what was the solution? Somehow, citizens needed to be productive again and to find a correct use for their time.

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Eryn – paper #3

Italian philosopher and author, Giambattista Vico, was a man who used his text, The New Science of Giambattista Vico,  to speak to sophisticated individuals. Rather than traditionally teaching his audience he showed them authentic research that was driven by facts and fables. The author, who used sense to seek understanding, repeatedly used God as the core foundation to show his readers that human life was purposefully constructed. Vicco did not intend to create an argument or beat around the bush, but instead he wanted to expose his readers to the truth, which was that like mathematics, life was intentionally designed.

From the beginning of his book, Vicco used God as a piece of evidence to provide the foundation of worldly accepted principles. He laid out this foundation by starting from scratch and using evidence from the beginning of time- the creation of man. “We should begin our study by scientifically ascertaining this important starting-point…which takes its start from the fact that the first people of the world were the Hebrews, whose prince was Adam, created by the true God…”(p 33/51). From here Vicco continued to write that the “Hebrew religion was founded by the true God”(68/167), due to His creation of His people. He used these examples to show readers that the human race must have been created. Once created, God intended for events to occur in people’s lives, choices to make, and paths to choose. He further explored this idea and stated “the flood was world-wide is proved”. This serves as an example of a intentional occurrence rather than a creation because God created the people, the water, the land, etc. but intended a world wide floor to occur in their lives.
Unfortunately, all readers do not believe in God, which lead to Vicco’s exploration of wisdom. Grecian theological poets were “versed in this wisdom”, which explained why “the Latins called the judicial astrologers ‘professors of wisdom’”(111/365). Although these men were wise, “the word ‘wisdom’ came to mean the knowledge of the natural divine…which is seeking knowledge of man’s mind in God, and recognizing God as the source of all truth…the regulator of all good”(111/365). Thus said, the “knowledge of man’s mind in God” is truly dependent on what God intends to insert into man’s mind.

Furthermore, God does intend to insert certain wisdom into the human mind, however, what man chooses to do with that wisdom is entirely up to him. For example, when the Hebrews “lost sight of their natural law during their slavery in Egypt” God had to redirect His people to the correct path through Moses (125/317). In other words, God did not create the wrong path that mankind chose, however, because of this He intended for Moses to guide the Hebrews back to the life He originally intended them to live.

Although God intended the Hebrews to follow the divine law, the correct knowledge of God and his intentions would not be of any help either. For instance, God does not intend to tell us his intentions, for man must battle to follow His divine law and from there man can learn them. Yet if man truly believes that he contains God’s knowledge, he must humble himself. Vicco warned readers, “just as on the other hand arrogance will lead them to atheism”(143/502), or even to praise ancient Roman gods(172/506).

In conclusion, The New Science of Giambattista Vico is a piece of work that shows, rather than argues, his audience that life was intentionally designed. By using biblical references to piece together evidence, Vicco ultimately succeeded his goal. This work became so successful because he used familiar facts, such as the flood and the slavery in Egypt, to back up his belief rather than arguing that he is correct.

Julie – Paper #2

The existence of God is a concept that is explored in the Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene’ Descartes. In Meditation Five, he explores the notion of material things and the complexity of the perception of material things in accordance with the mind. He understands the reason behind material things, but within the boundaries of what he knows and understands. He understand the what may be outside of him may not be what is inside of him, which is shown in his mind and body argument. He uses this argument as a pathway to bring fourth his perception of God. By using essence versus existence as an explanation for his arguments he is able to navigate through the complicated premises that suggest the existence of material things and in the end, the existence of God.

Descartes’ basis of understanding is the argument of a mind-body union. The question of what exists inside the mind and what exists outside the body is a very important aspect of the argument that he is presenting. He knows that me must understand what is inside his mind before he can understand the thing outside of his mind. “Yet, before inquiring whether any such thing exist outside me, I surely ought to consider the ideas of these things, insofar as they exist in my thought, and see which ones are distinct and which ones are confused (pg. 45).” He understands that to know the existence of a concept, object or anything of that nature, he must understand the essence of that said thing outside of his mind. He needs to make the distinction between what he understands and what he find confusing. This first critical step allows him to know what exists in his mind so that he can make the connection between the mind and the body to further understand the existence of said thing.

Each said thing has its own nature. Descartes believes that although there are many things that exist in his mind as well as outside his mind, they each have certain aspects. “And although, in a sense, I think them at will, nevertheless they are not something I have fabricated; rather they have their own true and immutable natures (pg. 45).” Each thing has a nature that exists without the mind. “For example, when I imagine a triangle, even if perhaps no such figure exists outside my thought anywhere in the world and never has, the triangle still has a certain determinate nature, essence, or form which is unchangeable and eternal, which I did not fabricate, and which does not depend on my mind (pg. 49).” The essence of this thing, in this case a triangle, exists outside the mind, but it can exist inside the mind as well. This nature of the triangle is true and eternal no matter what in the world. It is not thought of in any other mind, it is just there because of its determined nature. It is a continuous thing in which the essence of it is present inside the mind and outside the mind, which in turn allows for its existence.

Descartes uses this as a smooth transition into the argument of the existence of God. He follows the same premises to try and come to a similar result. He believe that the existence of God can be proven using the same notions he has of any other thing in which its existence can be argued. “Clearly the idea of God, that is, the idea f a supremely perfect being, is one I discover to be no less within me than the idea of any figure or number (pg. 46).” He is bringing God into an argument that is used with all other things. He understands that like the essence of a triangle existing inside of his mind as well as outside of him, the existence of God can be related by using the same argument. A triangle has a constant essence and so does God.

“For although it is not necessary that I should ever happen upon any thought of God, nevertheless whenever I am of a mind to think of a being that is first and supreme, and bring forth the idea of God as it were from the storehouse of my mind, I must of necessity ascribe all perfections to him, even if I do not at the same time enumerate them all or take notice of each one individually (pg. 46).” I believe that since Descartes believes the perfections of God inside of his mind, he automatically sees God as the ultimate perfect being. The perception of God in his mind is what he knows for sure and what a constant essence within him is. This allows him to believe the perfection of God as a whole in his mind, although he may not understand the individual perfections that make up the essence of God. This is how he understands the essence of God in his mind.

Descartes believes that what he clearly understands in his mind is true and it exists, this includes the notion that God exists. “Consequently, there is a great difference between false assumptions of this sort and the true ideas that are inborn in me, the first and chief of which is the idea of God. For there are a great many ways in which I understand that this idea is not an invention that is dependent upon my though, but is an image of a true and immutable nature (pg. 47).” He knows that those notions he believes to be clear and distinct in his mind are those that are born within himself. He believes that he does not need to be dependent on what he thinks to understand the essence of God, in which leads him to believe the true existence of God. What he clearly understands is not what he thinks, but it is rather what he is born with. “But, whatever type of argument I use, it always comes down to the fact that the only things that fully convince me are those that I clearly and distinctly understand (pg. 47).”

Descartes believes that those things that he clearly and distinctly understands are not blocked by certain issues such as ignorance. He knows that he is capable of ignorance due to certain outside sources and other worldly things that may affect his perceptions of a certain thing, but if the essence and perfections of God are already instilled in his mind, there is no way that he can be ignorant of said perfections and the essence of God? He speaks of “previously made judgments (pg. 47).” He knows that he cannot focus on one perfection or one thing in his mind, so other judgments may cloud his mind, but his born perception of the existence of God would not be affected if he were ignorant. “Thus, other arguments can be brought forward that would easily make me change my opinion, were I ignorant of God. And thus I would never have true and certain knowledge about anything, but merely fickle and changeable opinions (pg. 47).”

I believe that Descartes knows that the existence of God is fact, because in his mind he knows that the essence and perfections are clear to him and they are distinct and they are natural. He believes that there are other arguments outside of his mind that may change him or mold the essence of some ideas, but that would be because of ignorance. “Be that as it may, this changes nothing; for certainly, even if I were dreaming, if anything is evident to my intellect, then it is entirely true (pg. 48).” He cannot control the judgments that occur outside of his mind, but he can control the effect of them, purely because he believes clearly and distinctly the essence of God exists within his mind and outside of it.

Eryn – Paper #2

Meditation, commonly associated with a physical discipline, is more than a clear mind and a healthy lifestyle. According to Descartes, meditation is an exercise of self-knowledge. When practiced correctly, self-knowledge will achieve meditation’s original goal- to find a foundation that is certain to be true. In his piece entitled, Meditations, Descartes used six meditations to prove God’s existence. Furthermore, he believed his meditations could convert the non-believers by providing an explanation for God’s existence rather than the traditional preaching and lecturing.
Meditation One: Concerning Those Things That can be called into Doubt, reminds readers to doubt everything unless it is certain. For example, “arithmetic, geometry…contain something certain and indubitable”(29). What is certain is “whether I am awake or asleep, two plus three makes five, and a square does not have more than four sides” (29.) Obvious statements such as those should not be considered false, however, everything else must be considered false until proven certain, including God.

Descartes continued to Meditation Two: Concerning the Nature of the Human Mind: That it is Better Known than the Body. This meditation reinforced meditation one and added to doubt memory, for it is deceitful (30). But what if one were to doubt God? The knowledge of God reveals that He is all good and never evil, yet our mind is deceitful. In this case should we question our existence as well as Gods? No because there is no doubt we exist. We take up space, we have substance we have a presence. Even though we must doubt our mind, we should never doubt our senses. Our senses are connected to our body. If my mind senses pain it is because my body feels pain as well. The body and mind are intertwined with senses for certain, yet the mind must be continually questioned for validity since it can be deceitful.
Descartes uses meditation to provide proof of God’s existence in The Third Mediation, Concerning God That He Exists. Unlike the last two meditations, that prepared readers for receiving the truth through the use of meditations, the third meditation uses eminent reality and formal reality to prove His existence. Eminent reality is higher or more real than having something formally (36). For example, God does not have mountainhood but he can bring mountains into being. It is the ability to create or cause other things. Formal reality, which is intrinsic, has formal reality but goes through different stages (37). For example, the idea of a creator existing is a form of formal reality because the creator, God, placed the idea inside my head. My mind is not the idea. Although all ideas have the same formal reality, the content or representation of an idea is defined as objective reality (37). Descartes uses objective to prove God as the idea of “a supreme deity, eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, and creator of all things other than Himself” (36). Therefore, humans are limited, we are not supreme, eternal, or infinite and we do not have formal reality (37). God on the other hand is not limited and has formal reality (38).
For further explanation, his fourth Meditation regards truth and falsity. In addition to formal reality, Descartes demonstrates why man is subject to mistakes and errors. “It is impossible for God to ever deceive me, for trickery is always indicative of some imperfection (41).” Since God is perfect, as explained in Meditation Three, deception is not the answer. “Rather it just so happens that I make mistakes because the faculty of judging the truth, which I get from God, is not, in my case, infinite” (41). As a result of man’s limitations humans are susceptible to misjudgment and, in contrast, God is infinite therefore He is not.
Although Descartes argued the reason behind the idea of God was His existence, His placement of this idea was purposely distributed into the minds of man, and that He is perfect and infinite, does validate His existence. This is why he wrote the Fifth Meditation, Concerning the Essence of Material Things, and Again Concerning God, That He Exists. This meditation serves as proof for God’s existence and is meant to provide certainty. Within this work he further explained that the idea of God is so clear and descriptive that the human mind is not capable of imagining a creator so great(46). Ultimately, God must have placed this idea into our minds.

Finally, the last meditation, Concerning the Existence of Material Things, and the Real Distinction between the Mind and Body, takes a different route. Instead of justifying the body’s existence, Descartes presents the probability.Within his first observation “there is a great difference between a mind and a body, in that a body, by its very nature is always divisible”(53). He continued to explain the great difficulty to separate the image of the mind and the body. “Although the entire mind seems to be united to the entire body, nevertheless, were a foot or a arm or any other bodily part to be amputated, I know that nothing has been taken away from the mind on that account”(53). Once understood that the mind and the body are separate from one another, the recognition of the different parts of the mind will be comprehended as well. “…The faculties of willing, sensing, understanding, and so on be called ‘parts’ of the mind, since it is one and the same mind that wills, senses, and understands”(53). The second observation regards common sense. He wrote, “my mind is not immediately affected by all the parts of the body, but only the brain, or perhaps…where ‘common’ sense is said to reside”(53). In addition to his second observation, he furthermore provided an explanation of the distinction between the mind and the body. For instance, the body and it’s parts are all connected. In this case if there was a “ cord ABCD, and if the final part D is pulled, the first part A would be moved exactly the same manner as it could be, if one of the intermediate parts B or C were pulled, while the end part D remained immobile”(54). Likewise, he continued, “when I feel a pain in my foot, physics teachers me that this sensation takes place by means of nerves distributed throughout the foot, like stretched cords extending from the foot all the way to the brain”(54). The mind would feel the same pain as the foot. The last observation highlights the richness of sensations and how they “conduct the maintenance of a healthy man” (54). In conclusion to the sixth mediation, “there is nothing to be found in them that does not bear witness to God’s power and goodness”(54).

In the final analysis, Descartes used six meditations to prove God’s existence. He chose this assuming humans to be rational and that in order to be convinced he must provide them with justification and evidence. Ultimately, he found the foundation of certainty and verified his certainly. Not only did he provide readers proof of God but he provided proof of the immortal soul and the different realities. In addition to providing evidence, he provided guidance, like God does with His children, regarding the order of mediations to read. It is with this combination through the use of meditation that he may have reached success converting the non believers to believers. Instead of preaching and lecturing, he laid out the evidence and supported it, a perfect approach to convert a rational man’s way of thinking.

Lindsey – Paper #2

In Meditation one, Descartes addresses the things that can be called into question, and makes a case as to why we can doubt everything.  This doubt is useful in “freeing us from all prejudices.” (26)  This freedom from prejudice allows us to start fresh and discover for ourselves the things that are true. The things we are taught when we are young and take for granted that they are true cause a weak foundation, because of this we should “raze everything to the ground and begin again from the original foundations, if I wanted to establish anything firm and lasting” (27).  This is, however,impossible to do without being free of all cares and prejudices, as well as being prepared to withdraw from the world so as not to be contaminated by the outside world.  Descates suggests “witholding assent from opinions that are not completely certain,” rather than proving all of your previous opinions false (28). Even though he says that we should “raze everything,” it seems that he views reason as something that he can count on.

The senses are called into question almost immediatley in the first meditation, and they aren’t just dimissed, they are harshly critiqued and seemingly forbidden (28).

It seems that after this Descartes reconsiders the severity of his claims and reconsiders saying, “…still there are many ither matters concerning which one simply cannot doubt, even though they are derived from the very same senses” (28).  He seems to think that the senses are accurate most of the time and even poses the question, “ …on what grounds could one deny that these hands and this entire body are mine” (28).  Then he brings up dreaming, and seems to begin questioning the senses again.  It is like he’s saying humans sleep and wake, but who is to say that our waking moments aren’t just dreams.  Descartes says, “I see so plainly that there are no definiteive signs by which ti distinguish being awake from being asleep,” and as a result of this confusion he is “ becoming quite dizzy and this dizziness nearly convinces me that I an asleep” (28). As an answer to this problem Descartes says that there are three types of ideas: innate, adventitious, and fabrications. The innate ideas come from one’s own nature, adventitious are concieved bodily and fabrications are generated by the mind.  For Descartes, these three classes allow us to conclude, “…that physics, astronomy,medicine and all the other disciplines that are dependent upon the consideration of composite things are doubtful” (29).  These categories also allow us to see that things that are seen in an arithmetic way are “certain and indubitable” (29).

Descartes begins to take on the existence of God in Meditation one, but finishes it in Meditation three.  He believed that he was created by someone or something, and that this innate idea was put into him by the very same substance that created him. He says that some people believe that God is fictious and that, “…they supose that I came to be what I am either by fate or by chance, or by a connected chain of events, or by some other way” (29).  Descartes thinks that the “author of his origin” is not an “evil genius” type, but rather “ a supremely good God” (29).  His proof for that is, more or less,  his reason, will and ability to make sense of things.  The basis for his proof of God is the three types of reality: eminent,formal and objective.  Eminent reality is the ability to cause other things, formal reality is the intrinsic reality of something, and objective reality is the content of an idea.  Based on these types of reality and the fact that Descartes never doubts causal principles, he lays out his first proof, “ Now it is indeed evident by the light of nature that there must be at least as much reality in the efficient and total cause as there is in the effect of that same cause” (35).  Things have to have some sort of cause because they don’t just spontaneously appear out of nothingness, they are caused and those causes have to have reality, especially in the case of ideas, meaning that the idea has to have at least as much formal reality as the idea has objective reality.  The next proof Descartes lays out is that his idea of God had to come from somewhere since it is as clear and distinct as it is, and that the giver of this idea must have be infinite since a human is finite and cannot give such an idea.  Descartes phrases this proof, “ a certain substance that is infinite.independent,supremely intelligent,supremely powerful anf that created me along with everything else that exists” (38).  Everything has some type of reality, but it is limited since they cannot just snap their fingers and create more, which means something with infinite formal reality must exist since things must be created.  Since humans are most definitely limited, we don’t have infinite formal reality which is cause to believe that there exists something separate from humans that has this infinite formal reality.

 

Poetic Logic and the Importance of Language

Giambattista Vico establishes metaphysics as “the first wisdom of the gentile world” (375). These first men were consumed by their senses and their imagination, and everything they knew about the world, God, and themselves began from there. Any true investigation of wisdom should plainly begin where knowledge first sprung. Consequently, Vico attempts to understand “the first wisdom” in the same way the ancient theological poets would have. According to Vico, knowing how things would have been communicated and expressed is vital to understanding the material and the history of knowledge itself. The study of poetic logic is Vico’s way of understanding those early theological poets. Vico tells us that logic comes from the word logos which originally meant both fable and myth. To understand poetic metaphysics and all the sciences that naturally followed, Vico calls for us to discover the origin of language and letters.

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Understanding the Idols

In writing the New Organon, Bacon Plans to improve upon Aristotle’s Organon by offering a mechanism for rational thinking for the modern age. Initially, Bacon’s aphorisms offer a definition for Man’s relationship with nature and examine the problems with the current methods of investigating nature. Bacon argues that hoping for absolute power over nature is futile and we can only grasp and consider how it functions. He describes the relationship between investigator and subject as problematic, since the methods lack imagination and do not follow any form of rigorous methodology. (1-10) Moreover, he continues and introduces his first real discussion of logic. Bacon contrasts the Aristotelian syllogism with inductive reasoning. The main issue with such a syllogism is that it proceeds straight to general axioms from the things that already exist in nature while supplying the steps in between afterwards. However, induction questions and examines the things for itself and then only proceeds to general statements in a methodical manner. He creates the argument that the link between syllogisms and argument is incorrect. According to Bacon the philosophical tradition of dialectic is tedious and leads to very little progress. The only value of philosophical argument is in suggesting new areas to consider. (11-20) Bacon uses the term “anticipation” (26) to describe the operation of syllogisms, because they move ahead or ‘anticipate’ from concrete things to general propositions. “Anticipation” essentially imposes a meaning on nature by missing out several key stages in the process of interpretation. Anticipations can be useful if you are more concerned with winning an argument than finding the truth, and on the basis of such a criteria Bacon would find Aristotle particularly guilty.(21-31)

Bacon’s relationship with the ancient skeptics becomes apparent again. Since the skeptic position of doubt is often based upon uncertainty over whether our senses can give a true picture of reality or allow us to know things, Bacon attacks them for undermining the importance of the senses. Bacon’s own position is that the senses can give an accurate picture of reality, but only if they are used and supported in the proper manner. Due to this reason Bacon can be seen as adhering to a weaker form of skepticism , which is less pessimistic about the possibility for knowledge. (37) Bacon then introduces the concept of the four idols or illusions, which represent the psychological, linguistic and philosophical barriers to progress in scientific investigation. Together they comprise a barrier that must be broken down before any meaningful progress can be established. First, he argues that the ‘idols of the tribe’ are shared by all people and are what may be termed as common psychological faults. The stem from the way the human mind operates and processes information from the senses and the manner in which the senses provide that information. The human mind has a tendency of imposing an order on things, developing fixed ideas and is heavily influenced by emotion. Therefore, Bacon draws on a long tradition of opposing the emotions and passions in favor of reason and the mind. Reason, even when controlled is adversely affected by emotion. According to Bacon, theses mental obstacles may not have a solution. However, since they are an integral part of human understanding, all that can be done is to recognize them and compensate for their effects. (41) He then goes on to offer that there is a greater chance of resolving the problems caused by the ‘idols of the cave’ because they affect the way an individual thinks. Men fall in love with different facts or ideas and become enslaved to them-Aristotle’s reliance on logic can be offered as an example.  Different minds work in different ways due to their unique experiences. To avoid the effects of the ‘idols of the cave’, such as a tendency to draw complicated distinctions or rely excessively on experience, an awareness of one’s own thought processes and a great deal of rigor are necessary. (42)

The phrase ‘idols of the marketplace’ is a translation of the Latin idola agorae, with the agora in ancient Greece being the public forum where citizens talked politics and traded. Problems of language and discussion are therefore central to this particular idol. Bacon has a keen awareness of the complex nature of words; they act as symbols of concrete things and abstract ideas but they can deceive us if we do not understand the relationship between the symbol and object or idea. It is necessary to look at particular instances and their order to form notions and axioms. Two types of illusion are imposed on the understanding by words: names of things that do not exist and names that are badly defined.   Carefully defining all the words used in an investigation does not always work. We need to think deeply about the way such definitions are formulated. Illusions of the first kind can be easily rejected however, it is the second kind which is more complex and caused by unskillful abstraction. The idea that knowledge and our ability to produce it depend on terminology is very important to Bacon. (42) Furthermore, he then spends more effort dissecting the ‘idols of the theater’, because they form the foundations of the authority that he wants to demolish. The ‘idols of the theatre’ are the most dangerous but also arguably the easiest to combat. They are false philosophies, and are therefore written by men rather than written into human nature. The three kinds of false philosophy that Bacon identifies (sophistic, empirical and superstitious) are equally bad. The key problem with each is their founding principle: sophistic philosophy is found on argument, empirical philosophy on limited experience, and superstitious philosophy on superstition.(46) Bacon argues that philosophy should be founded on sound method and on nature. He makes an interesting point about religion here; although he situates his philosophy within a generally Christian framework, bacon does not want to use Scripture as a foundation for Science. The Bible is, after all, another kind of authority that should be challenged and proper investigation looks only at Nature as God created it. Hence, Bacon’s categorization of errors explores and explains that scientific investigation has failed to progress because it has not recognized the true role of natural philosophy.

 

Divine Providence and Human Providence in the New Science

Giambattista Vico’s New Science is, in part, “a rational civil theology of divine providence” (NS 385). It is a rational civil theology because it seeks to interpret the poetic theology conceived by the theological poets, and because it understands the theology of the poets as a civil history unto itself, recording the acts of men under the guise of deities. Still, as Vico indicates, the Science is balanced on divine providence, the definition of which is seemingly unclear throughout the text. Using Vico’s descriptions of divine providence from the text, this essay will show that providence, though it appears to exist on a higher plane of existence from human beings, exists within all humans and expresses itself in the creation of religions and societies throughout history. It will also expose an apparent anomaly in Vico’s conception of divine providence, and how this anomaly ultimately aligns with the overall message of the New Science.

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Descartes: Meditations One and Six

In Meditation One, Descartes tries to find everything that can be called into doubt. Attacking the foundations of his own self-knowledge, Descartes demolishes his core principles and discredits every opinion, thought, feeling, and perception he has ever had. Everything, which Descartes considers doubtful, is thrown into a sort of limbo between true and false. He intends to discover the few things that are absolutely certain, and until then, everything is left in purgatory and will have to be judged at a later time. By the end of the Meditations, many critics believe that Descartes comes full circle and that everything he previously had doubts about is back. Between the first and sixth Meditations, the only certainties Descartes discovers are that he exists as a thinking thing and that God inherently exists as well. Because of this, seemingly everything Descartes doubted beforehand can be trusted again. The reasons, which made Descartes, question everything in the first place and the reasons he gives for calling it all back seem to be the same, but are they? It is never made explicitly clear if all of the things Descartes called into question did in fact return nor does Descartes explain if his reasons for doubt are the same reasons he restores everything.

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