Course Work On Western Philosophy

Published: 2021-06-22 00:45:17
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Category: Education, Knowledge, Experience, Law, Thinking, Life, Psychology

Type of paper: Essay

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1) In the 19th century, many different philosophers attempted to pin down the nature of experience. However, if I were to pick a philosopher whose experiences and philosophies most closely matched my own, I would have to say that Arthur Schopenhauer provides the most agreeable point of view for me. According to Schopenhauer, "human beings are rarely rational in their actions" (Chapter 7, p. 153). We often behave irrationally and based on emotion. Often, despite our best interests, or objective facts that we have at our disposal, we will operate on impulse or a gut feeling.
According to Schopenhauer, "one can achieve a measure of peace and happinessonly do the degree one escapes the tyranny of will" (Chapter 7, p. 154). I tend to agree with this assumption; the success and popularity of media and art demonstrates man's innate need to distract itself and achieve that euphoria of not having to be subject to one's own will. When we watch TV, or read a book, we are taken out of the burden of choice, and can immerse ourselves in an experience out of our control, and therefore divorced of the need to control it.
In essence, I agree with Schopenhauer's reading because I think that people have an inherent need to act in selfish ways, regardless of their objective best interest. We will lash out at people in misunderstanding, just because we don't like the look of them, or we are in the wrong mood on that day. This indicates we are not creatures of reason, but of sheer will and instinct, at least to some extent. To that end, Schopenhauer describes a phenomenon I very much agree is present in humanity.
2) Of the three metaphysical ideas presented in the chapter, I believe that dualism seems the most logical to me. In essence, in dualism, everything that exists has a physical and a spiritual component. For example, my body exists, but I also have a mind that allows me to transcend the physical and become a mental or spiritual creature. While that may entirely be the result of electrochemical responses that are ordered in such a way as to resemble intelligence and sentience, I think that the possibility exists for there to be other explanations. To that end, I prefer to hold a strict dualistic stance on the world, and agree with Descartes' views on dualism.
According to Descartes, "the mind, because it is not in space and hence does not move, is not in any sense subject to physical laws and therefore is 'free'" (Chapter 6, p. 113). This aspect of dualism intrigues me the most - the fact that we can be both physical and spiritual, not bound by physical laws. It is nearly impossible (at least yet) to measure and read people's minds, at least what they are specifically thinking. There is no way to quantify or predict thoughts; with that in mind, it is not physical. It exists, but it is not physical; so what else could it be but spiritual?
Descartes also purported that what we may think is knowledge may not be true knowledge. As a result, this kind of fundamental uncertainty makes it impossible to truly know whether or not we are wholly physical or wholly spiritual. There is very little, if anything, that can be known for certain due to the imperfect nature of our existence and our ability to discern. Therefore, there is always room for different perspectives. With that in mind, I stand by the logic of a dualist perspective on existence.
Works Cited
Moore-Bruder. Philosophy: The Power of Ideas. 7th ed. McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.

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