PHIL 112 Week 6 Notes: 9/29/16-9/30/16
PHIL 112 Week 6 Notes: 9/29/16-9/30/16 PHIL 112
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hadley Ashford on Friday September 30, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 112 at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill taught by Martin Glazier in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 8 views. For similar materials see Making Sense of Ourselves in Philosophy at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.
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Date Created: 09/30/16
PHIL 112 Week 6 Notes: 9/26/16-9/30/16 9/26/16 - Inadequate arguments for why life is absurd o Actions now won’t matter in a million years o Humans are just a blip in the immensity of time/space o Humans will all eventually die - Reasons they are inadequate: o Vastness of space/time: if lives are absurd now, why would they be any less absurd if humans took up more space/time o Death as final end: actions are justified in the short-term Ex. take aspirin to relieve headache to relieve pain in the moment, which isn’t really pointless o Million years: if what we do now won’t matter in a million years, then what happens in a million years doesn’t matter now, so shouldn’t worry about that - Definition of ordinary absurdity: discrepancy between what you think will happen and what actually happens o Ex. you go to get knighted and pants fall down: getting knighted is supposed to be dignified, but pants falling down ruins that - Definition of philosophical absurdity: the conflict between how seriously humans take their lives and the constant doubting of this seriousness o Philosophical absurdity must be universal to all humans o People take lives seriously because try to achieve goals, plan out lives, try to have a good life o The fact that they are open to doubt refers to the ability of humans to step back and wonder if their plans are right or important o Impossible to avoid being serious and trying to make life productive o Also impossible to avoid stepping back and questioning o Objection: doubting perspective isn’t necessarily superior to ordinary justification Life can’t be considered absurd/meaningless simply because this perspective exists - Argues that even if we try to find meaning in broader concerns, those reasons are still insignificant because it involves humans and the individual o Any larger purpose can be doubted in same way as smaller ones o Objection: devoutly religious never step back and doubt their broader purpose, so can’t have conflict that causes absurdity o Response: even if these people don’t have the conflict, it is still possible to doubt whether or not their idea of broader purpose matters o Objection: there are really two questions to ask when doubting 1. Whether the purpose for human life is appropriate 2. Whether there even is a purpose Ex. if there is a God, may question whether what we do for religion really matters or may wonder if there even is a God for which we have purpose Must decide which question is answered before determining absurdity- author goes between both - How to live with absurdity: o Irony: doesn’t help us necessarily escape absurdity completely, but makes it a little easier to swallow o Spectators of our own lives: can’t occupy backwards step in the flesh, so must continue to live reality and every so often take a step back and view it ironically o Can abandon one perspective- completely identify with backwards step and stop living life with overall purpose Author says viewing lives in this way doesn’t ultimately matter either 9/28/16 - Question of what is the meaning of life asks the purpose of human life, why we are here o Depends on existence of God - What makes life meaningful or meaningless o First look at meaningless lives to determine what is lacking: The Blob: passive, person on couch watching TV and drinking beer all day Useless: no goals, idle rich doing useless activities Bankrupt: unsuccessful, person works hard, but unable to achieve ultimate goal Objection: the bankrupt life implies that meaning is out of individual control Response: this example would be externally meaningless o Meaningful life is actively engaged, has projects, and is oriented around positive value “projects” refers to broad goal-directed tasks “actively engaged” means that person wants to do the projects and identifies with them “positive value” is up to debate and will determine what different people find meaningful Meaningful life must be objective- can’t just “seem” to have value, has to actually be valuable - Reason why meaningful life must be objective: o Possibility of having an epiphany when realize that life has been meaningless o Epiphany can’t happen if meaning is subjective because involves realizing that you’re wrong o Can’t be wrong because opinions aren’t considered wrong o Objection: can have an epiphany about something personal o Response: meaning doesn’t have to be the same for everyone, what is objectively meaningful to one person might be objectively meaningless to another - Meaningfulness does not equal morality o Olympic athletes lead meaningful lives, but aren’t necessarily moral like Mother Theresa, for example - Why do people strive to live meaningful lives? o Not because it is better for the world because doesn’t mean morality o Not because it is better for the individual because doesn’t guarantee happiness o Meaningful life is good because recognizes that humans are not the most important/individual is not most important Not egocentric Interest in meaningful life is response to truth about world that humans are small/insignificant Supports objectivity argument because involves fundamental truth about world 9/30/16 Meditation 1: - Realized that many opinions of youth were false and called into question beliefs built upon them o Must start over from “original foundations” so he can form new, correct opinions - Strategy is to reject all opinions that are either completely false or are questionable o Will be left only with true, certain opinions o Objection: very high standard to only believe things that are absolutely certain o Response: he actually finds that there are a lot of things left over after rejection But possible reader may not agree with these - Reasons to throw out opinions/beliefs: his strategy 1. Reason to doubt 2. Reason to limit the scope of the doubt because entire belief may not be false - Doubt from illusion: o Senses can be deceptive, so should always doubt senses that have deceived at least once Scope of doubt: all senses/sense perceptions o Should limit scope of doubt: there are some perceptions that are completely certain Should throw out sense perceptions that are far removed from self, but keep those close to self Ex. know that I am holding a pencil, so that is certain. - Doubt in dreaming: o Threatens all sense perceptions that are close to selves Ex. could be dreaming that I am holding a pencil Limits scope by saying that dreams piece together different parts of reality At least ingredients (corporeal nature/physically real parts, shape, size, number, place, and time) are real/certain/constant - Doubts involving religion: o If God can do anything, then he could use that power to feed humans completely false beliefs Could make it so humans always miscalculate 3+5=8, may not actually =8, but all humans think it does o Objection: God is too nice to deceive people like that o Response: could be an evil demon that does the deceiving instead o Targets every single belief to throw out because questionable Meditation 2: - New goal is to find one thing that is certain - God could exist to put thoughts in head and he would be certain and real o Possible that he, himself put thoughts in own head Then he would be real and definitely exist o Demon that is deceiving has to have something that exists to deceive- so he must exist - Interpretation 1: 1. He thinks 2. Everything that thinks has to exist 3. He must exist o Not really exactly what he is arguing - Interpretation 2: 1. Should only accept beliefs that are absolutely certain 2. In each doubting scenario, he exists 3. Can’t doubt own existence 4. Should, therefore, accept that he exists o Objection: not a sound argument because only takes into account what he believes/doubts, other people could doubt his beliefs and not find them “absolutely certain” Invalidates premise 1, so conclusion cannot follow o Response: only his doubts matter because no way to be certain if other people truly exist or believe things that are truly absolutely certain o Objection: possible that humans exist in a dream/imagination of higher being Doubts/beliefs made up by other being Can project deceptions on humans in its dream
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