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V. Alexandrovskaya Philosophic propaedeutics

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^ 1.Christian and pagan ideological conflict.

2. Main features of the Renaissance philosophy.

  1. Christian and pagan ideological conflict.

1.General characteristics.

a) According to the Christian worldview God created the world. Such a worldview is called creationism.

b) Unlike antique gods, Christian one is above nature, he is transcendent god.

c) A dualism of opposite origins – active and passive one - was a characteristic of the antique philosophy. Christianity brought a monistic principle: there is an absolute origin – God, the rest is his creation.

d) God only possesses true being; He’s great, unchangeable and is a source of every existing thing:

  • knowledge about divine origin can be obtained by a supernatural way only, a key to cognition – faith – is an ability of soul unknown to pagan world;

  • God is the greatest being, everything created by him is perfect.

e) The worldview of Early Christian communities was being formed within the struggle with pagan one.

f) In the course of Christianity spread it became necessary to give a rational ground to the doctrines and to the use of antique philosophers’ studies.

g) According to the ancient Greeks’ ideas, the notion of being was closely connected with the idea of a limit; in Christianity God is unlimited Almighty.

Conclusion: thus, Medieval thought and the worldview were formed with the help of two opposite and conflicting directions: Christianity and Paganism.

  1. Arabian philosophy, its connection to medicine (Ibn-Sinna).

a) Social and cultural conditions of the Arabian science birth:

  • the destruction of ancient Greek civilization took place in conditions of increase of social and economic degradation of society;

  • knowledge was being lost;

  • Christian church destroyed the remnants of culture. In the 4th century a scientific center of Alexandria was destroyed;

  • in some layers of Arabian culture overestimation of philosophic knowledge took place. Philosophy became closer to natural knowledge; Plato and Aristotle’s works were spread all over the Arabian continent. It promoted the development of science.

b) Main directions in science were: physics, maths, astronomy, medicine, chemistry, geography etc. The representatives of the Arabian science were: Abyssinia (psychology and medicine), Alkhazena (medicine), Averoes (philosophy, psychology).

c) Achievements of the Arabian science:

-one of the first researchers of age psychology was Ibn-Sina. He studied connection between physical and psychological development of an organism and different age stages. He paid much attention to up-bringing and education. He believed that psychological influence on a stable structure of an organism is due to up-bringing. As a result of people’s influence on a child, some feelings are developed, psychological processes are changed. He came to a conclusion that physical processes in an organism can be controlled.

One of the great researchers in the sphere of organs of sight was Inb-al-Heisam. In the vision act he distinguished outer influence and intellectual work for establishing common qualities of objects. He studied binocular vision, mixing of colours. He studied the dependence of visual perception on its duration and identified that for the appearance of visual image both direct and indirect influence of light irritant is necessary.

  1. West European scholasticism, its problems.

The brightest representative of a developed scholasticism is Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274), disciple of a famous theologist Albert the Great:

  • he tried to ground the main principles of Christian theology, guided by Aristotle’s studies;

  • the greatest origin is being itself;

  • being is a Christian God, created the world;

  • he stressed general character of being and essence;

  • essence (substance) possesses self-being unlike qualities or properties; the latter exist due to substances;

  • he distinguished substantional and accidential form;

  • substantional form is a source of simple being, accidential one is a source of definite qualities;

  • form makes up outer characteristic of a thing at the lowest stage of being;

  • at the following stage form is a final cause with inner expediency;

  • the third level represents animals where form is acting cause;

  • form is independent of matter at the fourth level. This is spirit, rational soul;

  • for soul not being connected to matter, it dies when body dies;

  • intellect is the greatest human ability to distinguish good and evil;

  • will possesses practical intellect;

  • individuals truly exist;

  • every being, starting from God, possesses independence which reduces in the course of moving down.

^ 2. Main features of the Renaissance philosophy.

  1. Anthropocentrism: a man is the center of attention in the Renaissance Epoch.

  2. Humanism: an individual obtains greater independence; social position is changed – honesty, realization of self-power and self-affirmation become main principles.

  3. Pantheism: nature is understood as Almighty.

  4. Natural philosophy: an ability to see nature as living integrity and supernatural force.

1. Humanism, anthropocentrism.

  1. In the Renaissance Period an individual gets more independence that leads to a new understanding of a person.

  2. Unlike Medieval understanding of a person, Renaissance human being demonstrates his personal abilities and emphasizes his own power.

  3. The Renaissance gave the world the brightest all-round developed individuals.

  4. The theory of architecture, painting, sculpture, maths, philosophy, pedagogics was developed.

  5. Talented people elaborated the creed of becoming great (poet, artist etc.). It was typical for humanists. They opposed to church and universities as the traditional centers of medieval science.

  6. One of the greatest humanist of the 15th century was Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. In his work “Talks about human dignity” he puts a man in the “center of the world”: every person, who is not restricted by any limits, is capable of defining the image he likes. An antique person was a natural creature, i.e. his borders were restricted by nature. Pico says that God gave a free will to a man to define his own destiny. A person is a self-creator unlike other natural creatures. He is above nature.

  7. An idea of a human nature sin becomes reduced; it leads to the conclusion that a person doesn’t need a divine grace.

  8. Personality (“inner person”) gets a special value in the Renaissance Epoch. A cult of beauty, demonstrating human face and body is closely connected to anthropocentrism. Originality of every person is emphasized.

2. Pantheism and natural philosophy.

  1. In the Renaissance period a person appeals to the study of nature and by the end of the 15th -16th centuries the interest to natural philosophy has vividly increased. The medieval idea of nature as dependent origin changes:

There appeared a pantheistic understanding of nature. Pantheism (Greek – “general”). God loses outer-natural character and is equal to nature. Nature in its turn is idolized and obtains new features. Paracelsius, for example, considered nature as living entity, possessing magic forces. Natural philosophers were critical of Aristotle’s physics which was understood as too much rational, simple and lacking in magic element. Aristotle’s physics distinguished animate things from inanimate ones, that was opposite to natural philosophy worldview. Natural philosophers established connections between human and animal organs on the one hand and plants, minerals and heavenly bodies on the other one. Natural philosophy used the notion of the “world soul” (taken from neoplatonics) with the help of which it tried to remove the idea of creation. The “world soul” was equal to nature itself. Nature gets independence due to the “word soul”.

b) One of the greatest representatives of the Renaissance philosophy was Nickolay Kusansky (1401-1464). He came to the conclusion that an entity is everything proceeding from Christian monism and refusing antique dualism. He stated the fact that there is nothing opposite to an entity. An entity is equal to an infinite.

  • Kusansky developed the principle of opposites’ coincidence (unity of opposites) – minimum and maximum. Thus he is considered to be the founder of new European dialectics.

c) Kusansky’s tendency of understanding the origin ob being as unity of opposites was more elaborated by G. Bruno (1548-1600):

  • He developed a consequent pantheist doctrine, taking Kusansky’s ideas and N. Copernicus’s heliocentric astronomy as the basis.

  • He believed that the universe is unmeasured and limitless. The dimensions of Earth are small compared with the ones of the universe.

  • According to Bruno, cosmos is infinite god; there in no borders between the creator and a creature; he destroyed the opposite of the form – as the beginning of an inseparable, i. e. an active and creative on the one hand, and matter as a borderless origin, i. e. passive on the other one.

  • He gave nature the qualities which God only possessed: active and creative impulse; matter as well as the form was considered the origin of life.

  • Bruno’s pantheism was a materialistic understanding of nature; that’s why it was blamed by church.

3. Social philosophical studies.

  1. Tomaso Campanella (1568-16-39), philosopher and a priest:

-gave a new meaning to sensible cognition, expressed in as a symbol, in interpretation of which Campanella connected “wisdom” with the word “taste”;

-he believed that sensation presupposes a close interaction with a thing, taste is a deeper revealing of some qualities in a thing by plunging into it.

  1. In his first book “Metaphysics” Campanella disproved skepticism, basing on self-cognition. He said that a soul cognized itself by a cognition of self-presence, but not by an objective cognition of the object which was different from itself at the level of reflection:

  • first, it’s true that we exist, capable and have knowledge;

  • second, it’s true, that we are something but not everything, we are able to cognize something, but not everything and not completely.

  1. Cognition itself is available to everything that is given life and soul; it is not an advantage of a person only:

  • He said that every thing is given inborn wisdom; knowledge of something other, different from itself is his “obtained wisdom”;

  • Apart from soul-spirit, Campanella accepts immaterial and divine intellect which absorbs means and forms in the way, created by God.

  1. In his doctrine Campanella considered the question about cognition. Cognition is a loss and an acquisition at one and the same time; an acquisition by means of a loss. To exist means to know. Something existing is known. “Everybody who is everything, knows everything; everybody who is little, knows a little.” While cognizing we are estranged from ourselves; but in this estrangement we obtain something different from us:

-“ Everybody cognizing are estranged from own being like becoming reckless or dieing; we find ourselves in the world of death”. As consciousness of the object is a change, this also means death, partial at least;

  • knowledge reveal the structure of things, their “essence”; Every thing consists of the potency (intention) of being, knowledge of being and love for being;

  • every being, because it exists, is: 1) potency of being; 2) everything that can exists knows that it exists; 3) it loves its own existence as it knows that it exists;

  • Campanella defined the origin of non-being: these were weakness, ignorance, hate. These fundamental principles are ultimate;

  • God is the greatest power, greatest wisdom, greatest love.

Thus, the lecture considers the conflict of the Christian and pagan worldview and gives the characteristics of the Renaissance period.

Lecture 4

The New Time Philosophy


    1. Historical conditions of the philosophy development in the 17th-18th centuries.

    2. Materialism of the New Time and science development.

    3. Philosophy of the Enlightenment.

^ 1. Historical conditions of the philosophy development in the 17th-18th centuries.

  1. The process of feudalism disintegration which started in the Renaissance intensified in the 17th century:

  • the bourgeois revolution in the Netherlands which took place in the last decade of the 16th-17th centuries played a vital role in the development of the capitalist relations in the protestant countries;

  • in the middle of the 17th century (1640-1688) the revolution took place in England; the reason for the revolution was a development of manufactory, which substituted handicraft;

  • due to the transformation to manufactory, labour productivity increased, as manufactory was based on workers cooperation, each of them fulfilling own function in a separated into definite operations process.

  • the development of the bourgeois society brought changes not only in the economy, politics and social relationships, but influenced peoples’ consciousness as well. These changes influenced experimental and mathematical science, which was in the process of development in the 17th century;

  • in the 17th century labour division intensified in production; this resulted in the necessity of production and science perfection;

  • science development, social changes and church influence reduction provoked the birth of the new science oriented philosophy.

  1. That’s why to understand the tasks of the 17th century philosophy the following facts should be taken into account:

  • new trend in science – experimental-mathematical science;

  • the problems of gnosiology (theory of cognition);

c) In the 17th century the discussion between nominalists and rationalists, started in the Renaissance period, was continued. These two trends transformed into empiricism and rationalism.

^ 2. Materialism of the New Time and science development.

1. Bacon’s philosophy: the problem of the inductive method.

  1. An English philosopher F. Bacon (1561-1626) is a founder of empiricism. He considered the task of philosophy to elaborate a new method of scientific cognition.

  2. He said that the objective of scientific knowledge was to bring benefit to the mankind; a general task of all the sciences was to increase the power of a person over nature. He understood science as a mean, but not the objective itself:

  • science must cognize causation of natural phenomena for the sake of their usage for people’s benefit. A well-known statement of his is “Knowledge is power”;

  • he tried to draw the attention of science to natural phenomena cognition and to achievements in the production sphere. He understood that for studying nature it was necessary to change scientific methods of research.

  1. Bacon studied Aristotle’s deductive method and came to the conclusion that it was ineffective and unsuitable for nature cognition. Every cognition and acquisition must be based on experience and move from single to general statement. This method was called inductive:

  • a simple example of the inductive method is a complete induction. Its essence is in the enumeration of all objects of the given class and their properties revealing;

  • but a complete induction in science is rare. Its essence is that as the result of observance of final number of facts a general conclusion about the whole class of the phenomena is made. An example: a statement “ all swans are white “ is true until a black swan appears. Thus, a basis of incomplete induction is a statement, which, on the analogy, is incredible;

  • Bacon tried to make the method of incomplete induction strict and elaborate “true induction”. He believed that it was necessary to find not only facts, proving the conclusion, but facts, disproving the outcome as well.

Thus, Bacon came to the conclusion that science must use two means: enumeration and elimination where elimination is of greater importance. Bacon’s ideas influenced much the philosophy formation in the 17th century. But it should be mentioned that he emphasized empirical methods of research, underestimating the role of rational origin in cognition.

2. Descartes’ philosophy: idea of being, deductive method.

  1. Descartes (1596-1650) is a founder of a new methodology in philosophy. His philosophical ideas he started with the criticism in the form of universal doubt, doubt as to the reality of the world itself.

  2. Descartes philosophy is antitraditional; it is a creation of the new type of society and a man, which was expressed in social, economic and educational spheres:

  • he elaborated the principle of the new culture, saying: “ never accept anything as a true that I couldn’t clearly cognize; include in your judgments facts which seam clear and understandable…”;

  • he believed that everything, having a spontaneous character, must become the subject of conscious and purposeful will which is guided by the principle of intellect. A person must control the history in all its forms. A new science must develop according to a single plan and with the help of a single method. The elaboration of the method needs a firm base which is intellect itself (self-consciousness);

  • he called in question the fact that the world includes sky, earth, his own body; he attached a special value to “inner man”;

  • As the basis of his philosophy Descartes took the principle of thinking as an objective process, i. e. subjectively realized the process of thinking: “It’s useless to consider a thing non-existing when it thinks and until it thinks”.

  1. The method due to which Descartes believed it was possible to create a new science was called “a single scientific method”. The method was to transform cognition into the organized activity free from casualties. He decided to orientate not on separate discoveries, but to take every fact into account not to miss anything. The process of cognition must be continuous; continuity is one of the most important principle of method.

  2. After studying rationalist metaphysics Descartes gave a new definition to substance: substance is a thing that doesn’t need anything but itself for its existence. Substance is God, this definition is relatively applied to the created world to distinguish things. He divided the world into two substances: spiritual and material. Greater attention was paid to spiritual substance:

  • spiritual substance is indivisible; material one is endlessly divisible;

  • the main attributes of substance are thinking and extent. The rest are derived from the first ones (imagination, feelings, wants etc.);

  • non-material substance contains idea, initially given to it. They were called inborn. The idea of God as a perfect creature, the idea of figures and digits were referred to inborn ideas;

  • material substance was equal to nature: everything in nature is subordinated to mechanical laws which could be discovered with the help of mathematical science – mechanics. The notion of aim is excluded from nature.

  • The dualism of substances allows Descartes to create materialistic physics as a doctrine of extent substance and idealistic psychology as a doctrine of thinking substance. A connecting link between these types of substance is God, giving nature motion and providing variability of all its laws.

Thus, Descartes became the founder of classical mechanics; he elaborated the idea of nature as a giant mechanical system put in motion by divine origin.

3. Espinosa’s ideas of substance.

Descartes’s idea of substance was a disputable one. On the one hand, true being was a characteristic of infinite substance – God and ultimate substance depends on infinite one. This problem was taken up by Espinosa (1632-1677) who was under Descartes’s influence, but who didn’t accept his dualism.

a)Espinosa didn’t accept the substantiality of separate things, thus opposing to the traditions of nominalism and empiricism. His doctrine bears the trace of extreme realism, transforming into pantheism;

b)Espinosa defines substance as equal to itself, existing and cognized through itself. He understands God under substance, but not the one who was personified in theistic religions. God, according to Espinosa, is infinite, impersonal being;

  1. the pantheism of his study was in the idea of God and nature merge. Espinosa’s pantheism was a step to materialism:

- he underlined that thinking and extent are the attributes of substance; individual things (thinking creatures and extent objects) are modi (modifications) of substance. Every phenomenon of the physical world, being modi, develop in the same continuity that all the modi in the sphere of thinking. That’s why the order and the connections of ideas correspond to the order and the connections of tings.

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