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Philosophy and Freedom PDF Print E-mail

given by Peter Maniatis

PHILOSOPHY AND FREEDOM The answer to the question “why study or do philosophy’ is quite elusive. Answers range from: to learn the secrets of the universe so that I can impress my friends, to, Identifying and expressing problems in a coherent way, and show that certain conclusions are more defensible than others. For me philosophy is about freethinking. Philosophy is liberating. The quest tonight then is about making a connection between philosophy and the idea of freedom. Three of the most sought after or universal human yearnings are “wealth - in a broad sense-, security and freedom. Many believe that only the sciences will eventually fulfil these for humanity. It is true that science has made tremendous progress in improving availability of material goods to an ever growing number of people all around the world, especially in the western world. The same can be said about science helping to make the world more secure, although reading to day’s papers one may disagree. On the other hand it seems that the idea of freedom is unattainable by a majority of people around the world. Human lives are either dominated by dogmas, fallacious believes, badly elected governments, sophistry and political rhetoric with fallacious arguments or doctor spinning, Even material goods, products of science, dominate the lives of an overwhelming number of people around the world. The proponents of science admit the existence of these inadequacies now. They claim, however, that it is a matter of time before various scientific disciplines such as: social and political science, anthropology, psychology and psychiatry among others, will make progress in eliminated them. Freedom is also an elusive term Science claims that freedoms such as:freedom from disease, from hunger or want, freedom from toil or hardship or from political oppression or indifference and such others are its own achievements. But do they really represent the idea of freedom? I say that these terms are used to dominate free thinking. Humanity is not now or ever be entirely free from disease or hunger or toil. Products of science are also dominating. We will always want a new car a new appliance a new house even though we could do with the one we have now. One is socially oppressed to have it even If we can’t afford it. Since Science is about the material or physical world and experience of it, the freedom from want of material things that it claims to provide is paradoxical. When some come to posses them, their lives are dominated by a greater desire to posses more. This is the sense in which science dominates Freethinking on the other hand is closer to the idea of freedom. HERE IS MY ARGUMENT

  1. Philosophy concerns itself with thoughts or mind or consciousness.
  2. Philosophy can be practiced almost by everyone
  3. Freethinking is a product of the mind
  4. Therefore philosophy promotes freethinking for the majority of people.
  5. Therefore Philosophy liberates

PHILOSOPHY: Now What is this thing we call philosophy and how it helps to freethink. To be a philosopher is to love wisdom. This kind of love seems to me to be universal. Everyone wants to be wise. Everyone wants to have the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.To be in love, however, does not necessary mean that you also in possession of the beloved. A true philosopher always pursues the truth, the right and the lasting, but he or she may never come to know them intimately. Human beings have long realised that things and people are not always what they appear to be. To explain this inconsistency three approaches have emerged in the course of human history. First the mythopoeic approach, where a belief in a parallel world explains all phenomena that have no obvious causes. The Homeric epics depict this parallel word and its influence on human life very well. So do the stories in the old testament of the Judaeo-Christian religion.But this approach is dogmatic and dominating. Human life is dominated by some unseen divine entities. The second approach is philosophical, where most explanations are attributed solely to the human mind or human thinking when in a rational kind of mode. The rational kind of mode is the capacity to transcend or go beyond the phenomena, beyond what we can perceive with our senses. This approach, frees, thinkers from the restrains of myth and of divine will or intentionality. For the western world this approach began in the 6th century BCE with the natural philosophers such as Thales and Heraclitus among others, who were asking questions about Being or what is real behind of what it seems to be real. All the questions aimed at explaining nature in general. Although, in this world -view, human life is not dominated by some supernatural deity, it is, however, dominated in a deterministic view, by natural causes If human life is determined by a variety of natural causes, deterministic view, the human desire for freedom is still unattainable. It seems then that knowing the reality of nature in general is not enough to fulfil the human desire of freedom – because of the deterministic view of nature. Later in the classical period, 4th century BCE, Socrates, Plato and others, noticed that natural philosophy, or science we could say today, was incomplete. It did not answer specific questions about human nature, about the human mind or thought or soul or consciousness. They reckoned that the world of the mind being an inseparable part of human beings, is important to human life. If human life is determined by natural forces, is not different than any other life of any other sentient being. But humans consider their lives to be different than the lives of other sentient beings. The difference lies in the faculty of reason and human thinking that allows humans to reflect. Plato believed that a cultivated use of logic and reason would free human beings from the determined powers of nature. He demonstrates this very well in his famous allegory of the cave, where human beings who never done any of his philosophy are depicted as prisoners believing only what appears to be real. They become free only when they begin to philosophise about the world of thought, of ideas, of the Forms. The Platonic Forms are the frame work of organised totality of all particular thoughts. Like a house is a totality of its parts, but only when organised in a certain way, since a pile of building materials is not a house. The same we could say about human beings. We may be made from flesh, blood and bones, but we are what we are only when we are organised in a certain way. Science can deal very well with the materials we are made of and their various functions, but the organization for a flourishing human existence we need philosophy. Now what is the best way of doing philosophy or philosophising? There are a number of methods, but the fabric that runs thru, at least the main methods is the practice of reason and logic. I favour what we are doing now. The dialectic method, which is a kind of conversation in which all human beings can participate. Doing science is only open to a minority of peoplePhilosophising is open to everybody So science by its deterministic nature dominates human life and sometimes even hides the truth. Dialectic philosophy by its nature produces freethinkers Freethinkers are more likely to discern reality from what appears to be real or true. Human beings need science to provide material goodsThey also need philosophy to provide free thinking Therefore the combination of the two would more likely fulfil all human desires, including the desire of freedom. Peter Maniatis

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