Just another blogs.oregonstate.edu weblog

Phenominalism is the theory that we can not know the true reality behind our perceptions, but only know the perceptions (or phenomina) themselves. Reality effectively exists to us only in the times and how we perceive it.

I have actually heard phenominalism used once before to describe a person who is a thrill seeker, seeking exhilarating or ‘phenominal’ experiences. This is a credit to the misconstruing of the english language by college students, and in no way reflects the philosophical meaning of the term.

My belief in the reality of a spiritual realm is connected to phenominalism. I believe that there are things in the world that are easily perceived, but usually looked over, that point to a God. While one person looks at a tree and sees a tree, I look at a tree and see the handprint of something so much bigger and greater than me.

The concept of Truth is related to phenominalism. I struggle with the idea that we can know anything for sure, and are limited to the ability of our physical bodies to ‘perceive’ reality. At the same time, is the belief in an unseen God any different in the belief in a seen chair? Sure you can see, touch, and sit in a chair, but all you can know about the chair is what people have seen and felt. The scientific process can never prove anything, just make accurate predictions. Perhaps it is true that all we can know as reality is what we perceive as we perceive it, however that does not necessarily mean that if we don’t perceive something, it isn’t true either. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? I think the truth is that the sound still exists, but if we happen to hear it, all we can know of it is what we perceive.

June 8th, 2010 at 6:54 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Social Darwinism is the theory that relates Darwin’s theory of natural selection to the human society. Behind this social theory are such ideas as the most dominant people group will rule, and selective breeding.

Social Darwinism is used in an every day sense to describe any belief that the most capable (fit) will rise to the top in any given social situation, and/or any belief that the selection process should be aided by the government or powers that be. This everyday use is pretty much the same as the philosophical use.

My belief in Love is very much against Social Darwinism. Social Darwinism is all about self-love, instead of loving others. The most fit should use their power to help those who are less fit, not use their power for maintaining dominance.

Others often believe that Social Darwinism is a promise of a future utopia of an incredibly powerful race of selectively bred humans. The Germans tried this with the Aryan race, which lost several events to the ‘inferior’ African-Americans in the 1936 Olympics.

Social Darwinism has severe implications for Feminism. The most immediate is that most of the world is dominated by men socially and occupationally. By Social Darwinism’s theory, this is because men are the most fit and thus it is good that men dominate these areas and should be allowed to continue to do so. Also, there’s the anatomical differences between men and women. Men are genetically disposed to have more muscle and bone mass than women. According to Social Darwinism, men should be allowed to dominate any area of society in which strength is valued. Some would even say that because of this ‘strength advantage’ alone, men should always be the dominating sex in all areas society and unless women can be proven to have some genetic advantage over men (such as greater intelligence) that would balance their ‘use’ in society, they should not be allowed to fill any position of importance in society. These are extreme views, but if followed out completely they show how Social Darwinism and Feminism do not get along at all.

June 8th, 2010 at 6:34 am | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

Socialism is the philosophical ideal of a government that controls the manufacturing and distributions of all products of labor. The idea being that everyone is treated equally as far as material, and even otherwise, allocation. This is in contrast to Capitalism; and most recently communism has been the poster child for socialism.

The every day use of the word ‘socialism’ can often be directly meant to be another word for communism. Communism is not socialism, but to be true to Karl Marx, communism is a utopian society that is the result of the abolishment of distinction between class, race, and gender.

My feelings about democracy are directly related to socialism. I am so thankful for America and her democracy (or republic really), but I see so much in socialism that is beautiful. I believe that democracy is very adequate, but that socialism could eventually (and hopefully) develop as a result of a love for each other from the people of our country.

Many people think that socialism means the taking away of ‘rights’, ‘just desserts’, or ‘what people deserve’; that if socialism had it’s way, the lazy man would be rewarded for his laziness and the hard working man wouldn’t be rewarded for his hard work. I disagree completely; socialism is only built out of love for your fellow man/woman. It’s the people who are so concerned that they get more privilege than their neighbor because of their ‘great service’ that make socialism so hard to achieve.

Socialism and idealism go hand in hand to me. I so badly want and wish for a true and pure socialist society, but I know the failings of myself first, and my fellow man, make it so almost unattainable. Yet I see progress in this direction, even today under the presidency of President Obama. This is one thing he is constantly under attack for from his opponents, that his policies are too socialistic. Ever since communist Russia, people are scared (and rightly so), of anything with the ‘socialism’ tag. Yet we are so often concerned with our own betterment that we forget about our fellow man/woman. I believe that socialism is right on the border of being idealistic (and maybe its that belief that by the definition of idealism, makes it idealistic), that if everyone could just love each other a little bit more, we could make socialism work. I see progress towards that, and while maybe being idealistic, I cannot give up on it yet.

May 28th, 2010 at 9:09 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

The philosophical idea of will to power is that a person’s drive is the activity and mastery of power, in contrast to will to live, or natural instinct. While will to live is simply the drive to stay alive, will to power is the concept that being active and taking control is what really motivates people in their actions and desires.

I honestly can not think of a day to day use of the phrase ‘will to power’. The only thing I can think of in opposition of its philosophical definition is the possible use of the phrase as a description of someone who is particularly on a power trip.

I belief as a Christian that after creation, man sinned and brought about human depravity. The will to power is a direct result of this depravity; while will to live is not necessarily deprave, will to power is.

Others may think that will to power is an innocent and natural way of existence. I however as stated before, believe that while the human race as a whole may tend to strive for power, this is not a good or praiseworthy thing.

Feminism is one of the first things that pops into my head when I think about will to power. At a first glance it may seem that the only reason women, or any other minority groups for that matter, strive for more power is because its just the way of things; women want more power because we all do. Though I think there is a clear distinction between seeking equal treatment and seeking more power. Women are inarguably not as privileged as men in our American society. For reasons beyond this discussion, women do not have the recognition or respect the men do today in general. While the feminist movement is definitely making a move to gain more power, it is not rooted in a grasp for domination of men (in general), but a grasp for equality. They only want to be treated as peers, and this is not to be condemned as ‘depravity of man’. Equality and acceptance is a good and worthy cause for any people group.

May 28th, 2010 at 8:41 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Idealism is the view that material things are not the foundation of reality, but rather ideas. It is the philosophical idea that things only exist as we perceive them, a result of our mind.

The more ordinary use of the word ‘idealism’ is used to describe the views of someone who does not focus on reality, but rather something imagined in the mind that is not yet realized in reality.

My belief in God is somewhat connected to Idealism. I know that there are some ‘ideas’ that are more real and true than material things, but I am not an agnostic. Material things are very real as well.

Other people often think that Idealism means someone has their ‘head in the clouds’ and denies all material realities. I disagree. I think that reality often exists in our minds, and is very achievable, though perhaps only through the power of God. Sometimes people say that belief in God, spirits,heaven and hell, ect. is idealism in itself, but I also disagree again because I believe that all these things can have physical effects, even going so far as Christ manifesting Himself as a human in material form.

Idealism and Social Contract have an interesting relationship. Social Contract is the idea that government really only exists as the majority of people view/imagine it in their minds. They give government control as they will it, not through any pre-existing material determinant. In this way, the idea of Social Contract seems somewhat Idealistic in its purest form. When the majority change their minds about what government looks like, the government changes with their idea. This is prevented in everyday life by the physical ramifications of earlier manifestations of imagined government, but it does seem plausable… which in itself is the definition of Idealism!

May 11th, 2010 at 5:39 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

The Social Contract in philosophy refers to the idea that ‘government’ is the society created by the common will of individuals. These individuals participate because the feel it is more beneficial to associate with each other than to remain in isolation, and political authority is only valid by their consent.

I find that this word is often used today as the idea of the ‘understood’ but unlegislated requirements that is owed, both from the people to the government and vice versa, by simply being a part of society. An example might be that you have a ‘social contract’ to recycle.

My belief in Non-Violence is connected to Social Contract because I am a Christian and I still wish to be a part of society, but I have morals that do not necessarily agree with the rest of society. According to social contract, the common (or often majority) will decides the legitimacy of government (and its mandates), so there are sacrifices that must be made to join society under its contract.

Many people believe that social contract means that by being a part of a society you owe them certain things, and while this may be true, I disagree with the extent that many take this to. America wasn’t meant to run on the whims of the majority, and neither is the follower of Christ. You do not owe it to the society you partake in to agree with the majority voice every time, nor do you owe it to always follow it despite some kind of disagreement. You owe it to society to do what you think is best for them, thought some times that may come at a cost which is hard for the rest of society to understand or agree with.

May 4th, 2010 at 2:10 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

In the philosophical tradition, logic is the method of reasoning in a valid way. Originally developed by Aristotle and further developed by others into the symbolic logic that is dominant today, it provides a means to philosophical inquiry.

The everyday use of the word ‘logic’ is very much similar to the philosophical use, thought sometimes it is invalidly objectified. While one person may find it illogical to enjoy lots of attention, another thinks it is very logical. For someone who has not studied philosophical logic, it is difficult to always tell what is logical and what is not by the philosophical rules of logic.

My belief in God is connected to logic. There is a logical proof for God that goes like this, “If it is possible that God exists, he must exist. It is possible that God exists, therefore God must exist.”

Some people believe logic can be used to prove their concepts, and while this can sometimes work, your ability to win an arguement is often based solely on your opponents logical skills than their premise, which is often forgotten. I believe logic is useful, but it is no replacement for experience.

Logic is very often used with philosophical perspectives to determine how someone should live their life. Materialism is a prime example. “If matter is the only thing that exists, there are several easy logical deductions to determine what is important in life. First of all, if matter is all that exists, there is no life after death. If there is no life after death, there is nothing that is important to oneself after death. If there is nothing important to oneself after death, social interactions with others are not important after death. If social interactions with others are not important after death, social interactions with others are only as important to oneself as the pleasure they bring in life. If social interactions with others are only as important to oneself as the pleasure they bring in life, whatever social interactions bring oneself the most pleasure in life are the most important.” Following this logic, if someone enjoys killing people, that is the most important thing to do if matter is all that exists. Believing in materialism has heavy inferences on how someone should live their life.

April 26th, 2010 at 7:45 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Materialism is the belief that the only thing that exists is matter. Conciousness, emotion, and other such unseen things are explainable as aspects of matter.

This is to be differentiated from the everyday use of the word ‘materialism’ that means material things are all the only important things in life, though you can see this usage has its foundation in the philosphical definition.

Materialism is a farce according to my beliefs. My belief in a God that created ‘matter’ from nothing, and that people have a body and a soul that is matterless, makes it impossible for me to believe that only matter exists.

However, materialism is a common belief. Many have their ‘faith’ in science; that it can explain everything from the creation of our universe to emotions in terms of atomic interactions. This means that there is no God and no eternal soul, which heavily affects how someone should feel led to live their life. I find the everyday use of the word materialism to be more accurate than the philosophical definition in my opinion. Materialism is an obsession with the material that leads men to care more for pleasure than for their fellow man.

April 26th, 2010 at 6:30 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Feminism is the belief that women should be treated equally as well as men. This belief of equality can take on different forms as men and women clearly differ physically. This can lead to wanting women to be treated differently than men in instances where different treatment would be more fair.

Usually the philosophical definition of feminism is accurate for the everyday use of the word as well. However the label of ‘feminist’ is often used as a derogatory word for a woman (or man) by someone who thinks that women either shouldn’t be or are already treated equally as well as men.

As a follower of Christ, I am very adamant in the pursuit of social justice, of which I believe feminism is a part of. I believe no one should be treated worse than anyone else based on race and/or gender, which makes me a feminist.

There are a lot of people who believe that the process of giving women equal treatment really gives them unfair advantages. To them, feminism means the belief that women should be treated better than men, which I disagree with completely.

Clearly, whether someone agrees that women are equals of men or not determines their stance on Feminism. This relates to Truth. There are many people who believe that women are not equals of men (sadly) and that this is just an anatomical/physiological truth. Others believe that their god has given then divine truth that women are inferior, and while maybe they wish that women could be treated as equals, to do so would be going against their god’s orders. For most Feminists, the truth is that treating everyone equally as well is natural truth of life, regardless of gender, race, or religion. It has a very postmodern perspective; as long as you are not infringing on anyone else, you can believe what you want. It makes Feminism a very difficult subject to come to a consensus on when the platforms of truth that different groups are operating on are so different from each other.

April 26th, 2010 at 6:09 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

I know to myself and many others, Truth is the most important subject in any philosophical discussion. It is an incredibly foundational subject, and having a competent understanding of Truth, of what Truth is and/or can be and what others’ perception of Truth is, allows for much greater in-depth discussions and more pure communication.

Truth is tricky because it is very hard to define; often used in comparison to a ‘lie’ (did you write your precis? yes = truth, no = lie), Truth in the philosophical sense is really the same thing. Little do we realize that we are making descriptions and qualifications of reality when we acknowledge that even simple things are ‘True’.

I believe that God is Truth, ” I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”[1] Because my philosophical framework is built around the idea that I can know the Truth, Truth itself is incredibly imperative to me; in comparison if someone believes they can not know the Truth, then it doesn’t really matter so much what it is as it is unknowable.

I have one friend who said that Truth is, “What is real.” I asked a second friend what she thought and she said, “Whatever you know is true, is Truth.” The stark difference between these two descriptions of Truth is that my first friend believes that Truth is absolute/objective. My second friend believes that Truth is knowable, but it is subjective. The idea that different things can be true to different people is something I have never understood. I believe that there is only one absolute Truth, so how could my belief of truth and someone who thought all beliefs are true, both be true? How can only one belief AND all beliefs be true at the same time?

[1] John 14:6. The Bible, English Standard Version.

April 8th, 2010 at 4:47 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink