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V. Alexandrovskaya Philosophic propaedeutics

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^ 3. Philosophy of the Enlightenment.

1. General characteristic:

The 18th century got the name of the Enlightenment: scientific knowledge left the boarders of universities and laboratories, it became the subject of discussion of many groups of people; the motto of the Enlightenment was: “ Confidence in intellect and its unlimited opportunities”.

  • Such ideas were formed by Descartes, Bacon and Hobbes in the 17th century. The criticism of the medieval scholasticism got deeper in the 18 century – the epoch of intellect, freedom, prosperity of arts and science. In the 18th century the connection of science and practice was strengthened; the criticism of scientists was directed at metaphysics.

  • The increase of the achievements in the Enlightenment period was caused by the prosperity of the bourgeoisie, which was against metaphysics. K. Marx wrote: “The disappearance of metaphysics of the 17th century could be explained by the influence of the materialist theory of the 18th century only because this movement can be expressed in practical character of the existing French life. Metaphysics lost any confidence.”

2. J. Locke: the research of cognition (two sources of cognition, primary and secondary qualities).

  1. John Locke (1632-1704) is the founder of empiricism, the first one who started open criticism of cognition theory and developed sensualism as new gnosiology.

  2. He set an objective of researching intellect, its possibilities, functions and limits.

NB: In “Introduction” and the work “ Experiment on human intellect” Lock wrote: “ Knowledge of personal cognitive ability preserves us from skepticism and intellectual inactivity.”

  • he underlined that while examining our own intellectual ability and estimating what we can expect from it, we act, on the one hand, and on the other one, we don’t put everything into doubt and reject every knowledge just because some things can’t be cognized;

  • until intellectual ability and power is studied, the search of satisfaction in truth possession is in vain; while people waste their thoughts in the “ocean of being” and direct their research out of their abilities, their thoughts don’t have a firm ground, that why the questions appear and disputes are provoked and they don’t lead to clear salvation;

  1. Locke supplemented his research with some Cartesian statements: the only object of human thinking is idea. Ideas appear as a result of experience (experiment), thus experience is a limit of every possible cognition. He refuses any form of innateness and says that ideas originate from experience. This conception contains the following statements:

  2. there exist neither inborn ideas nor principles;

  3. no intellect is capable of forming ideas and of destroying existing ones as well;

  4. the origin and the limit of intellect is experience (experiment);

The experience can be of two types:

      1. the sensation of outer material objects;

      2. the sensation of inner activity of our soul and the motion of our thoughts;

- two different types of simple ideas come from this dual source of experience. Senses are derived from the first one – they appear from organs of sense perception. Simple reflexive ideas come from the second one. Ideas are in a human mind, but outside there is something capable of producing ideas in mind. Such a method of things is called “quality” by Locke.

  1. Locke distinguished primary and secondary qualities:

  • primary qualities are “primary and real qualities of objects which are always in them (e. g. extent, density etc.);

  • secondary qualities are the combination of primary ones (e. g. taste, colour, smell etc.);

  • primary qualities are objective as corresponding to them ideas are the exact copies of objects, existing outside us;

  • secondary ones are subjective as they don’t reflect objective properties of things themselves;

Thus, primary qualities are the qualities of objects while secondary appear in the result of objects and subjects collision.

Conclusion: Locke’s research is characterized by “sense of proportion” and “common sense”. Further empiricism will be more strict.

4. Berkeley’ subjective idealism

  1. George Berkeley (1685-1753) is the most paradoxical of all the British empiricists. His philosophical ideas are concentrated on the principle: “ To exist means to be apprehended”. Berkeley’s new apologetics was based on matter existence rejection and on the statement that there exist God and people’s souls only.

  2. In his work “ The treatise on the principles of human knowledge” Berkeley answered the question: “What are ideas? Where do they appear from? How are they combined?” These are some of his statements:

  • all realized words serve for ideas defining;

  • every cognition is concentrated around ideas;

  • all ideas are derived either from the outer world or from the inside:

  • if they come from the outside, it means they come from organs of senses and are called senses;

  • if they come from the inside, they are the act of intellect and are called thoughts;

  • everybody who doesn’t have senses is unable to feel;

  • simple passive idea appearance is perception;

  • all ideas are either simple ones or composed of simple ideas;

  • intellect can compare nothing but its own ideas;

Thus, our ideas are sensations or the influence of intellect on sensations; it means, it is necessary to rely on sensations. This is the essence of Barkeley’s gnosiology.

  1. Ideas – primary and secondary – are sensations. They don’t exist without intellect. Thus, there is nothing out of consciousness: “ Nothing can exist truly but people; all the rest are modi of human being”. “There is nothing available for understanding but ideas”.

  2. By excluding the idea of matter existence, Berkeley changed the interpretation of the world and reality: “ Ideas exist in our intellect. Undoubtedly, there is intellect with its own ideas, so “to exist means to perceive and to be apprehended”.

4. Hume’s agnosticism

  1. David Hume (1711-17-76) and his works gave empiricisms the traces of skepticism and irrationality. He believed that “science about human nature” would become more important than physics and other sciences as all the sciences depend in different degree on human nature.

  2. Hume noted that the content of human intellect was only “perceptions”, divided into two classes: impressions and ideas. There are two differences between them: the first one refers to power and brightness with which impressions and ideas appear in our intellect; the second one refers to order and temporal continuity with which they appear.

  3. Hume uses a general difference of ideas, given by Locke, according to which they are divided into: ideas of substance, relationships and general ideas; but Yom gave deeper analysis of these groups:

  • the supporters of general notions existence give human intellect the ability to differentiate things in mind which are not divisible in reality. Hume refutes this: a differentiated is something separated. As every imaginary thing is a copy of impression and an impression can only be personal, consequently qualitatively and quantitatively defined, images then must be defined in the same way;

  • according to Hume’s principle, every idea is only an “image” and as it is – individual and personal.

  1. In his works Hume researches the questions of “ideas” and “facts” connection:

  • he divides the existing in human consciousness objects into 2 types:

-“relations between ideas”

- “facts”

Arithmetics, algebra and geometry are referred to the “relationships between ideas”.

All conclusions about “facts” are based on cause and effect connection. Cause and act are different notions as no analysis of a cause can primarily define the act.

  1. In researching the question of cause and act connection, Hume came to the conclusion that the connection between a cause and an act can be defined neither by intuitively, nor by means of a logic prove. A source of confidence in knowledge is not a theoretic knowledge, but “ faith” that distinguishes our judgments from fiction. A key to solving the problem is, in Yom’s opinion, in a “faith” which is a feeling. That’s why the basis of causality is transformed from rational-ontologic to emotional-irrational sphere, i.e.. from the sphere of objective to the sphere of subjective.

  2. Analogically, Hume criticizes classical conception of substance relatively to corporal bodies and spiritual objects:

  • everything we perceive in reality is embodied in impressions and ideas; e. g. we think that a bunch of perceptions, called an apple, is based on the principle of connection, providing the unity of impressions. This principle is not an impression, but only the way of imagining things which we consider existing out of us;

  • he criticizes the existence of spiritual substance, especially “I” notion in the sense of reality. He says, “I” is not a single impression, but to which many impressions and ideas are referred;

  • rough conclusions are made in the respect of objects. As objects are collection of impressions, we, by analogy, are nothing but combinations of impressions and ideas.

Thus, Hume stresses that the existence of things independently of us is not the object of cognition, but “faith”, and “I” category is the object of “faith” as well.

5. Leibnz’s philosophy: the idea of monads and pre-determined harmony.

  1. G. Leibniz (1646-1716) – a German philosopher who opposed to the doctrine of substance multitude. He tried to introduce nominalist ideas about the reality of a single thing in rational metaphysics of the 17th century.

  2. His pluralism of substance was contrasted to Espinosa’s monism. Independently existing substance was called by Leibniz monads (from Greek – “unite”). A monad is simple, doesn’t consist of parts, consequently it is indivisible and it is not tangible and extent, as a tangible thing, being extent, endlessly divisible:

  • the essence of every monad is activity, which is something that can’t be explained with the help of mechanical reasons: perception and strive;

  • the activity of monads is expressed in continuous change if inner states. Giving monads perception and attraction, Leibniz compares them with a human soul. Monads are called souls when they have feelings and intellect.

  1. Leibniz idea of every monad isolation is of great interest. Monads don’t have “windows” that’s why their mutual influence is impossible; every monad is like an independent, isolated universe. Not all the monads possess intellect. Even rational monads have greater unconscious than conscious images.

  2. To understand the synchronicity of processes in monads, Leibniz introduced the notion of pre-determined harmony which has much in common with Descartes’ idea of the plurality of processes in thinking substance: synchronicity of perception in isolated monads takes place due to God who established and supports harmony of inner life of all endless multitude of monads. The level of rationality of a conscious monad is equal to the degree of its freedom.

6. French philosophers on society, nature and a person (Voltaire, Rousseau, Holbakh, Diderot)

  1. François Marie Aroids (Voltaire) - a French writer. His ideas of nature, human being and society include:

  • “ God exists as true phenomenon and the opposite statement is absurd”. The world order is not accidental “ first of all because there exist intellectual creatures in the universe; the universe is inspired by rational force”;

  • God created physical world order; history is created by people themselves. This is the essence of deism;

  • “A person is incomprehensible without this incomprehensive puzzle: what’s the reason in striving for moving further than Holy Writ? A person, really, is not such a sophisticated creature. A person is given more concrete place at a higher level in nature compared with animals to which he bears some resemblance, and a lower place compared with other creatures to which he can’t bear resemblance in thinking;

  • every person contains the combination of good and evil, pleasure and suffering, desires and intellect, just like everything we can see. If a person were perfect, he would become God; opposites are necessary components of a human nature;

  • “ a search of entertainment is the first and necessary principle and the base of a society”.

  1. Gean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) – a famous philosopher, characterized by Kant as ”Newton of morality”. His main ideas are:

  • he introduced the notion of a natural person – total, kind, biologically health, morally honest and just. A person wasn’t bad by nature, but he became unjust and malicious. The absence of balance between nature and a man is caused by social conditions;

  • “natural man” is a theoretical category that helps understand a modern person and his deformations. He said: “ It’s not easy to distinguish true elements in nature of a modern person from artificial ones and to study in details non-existing state”;

  • nature is an element of God, beauty and well-being;

  • comparing the past and the present of a man, Rousseau wanted to urge people on saving changes. In “Confession” he stressed that people suffer from troubles, caused by themselves.

  1. Paul Anrie Dietrich, Baron Holbakh published a range of articles on physics, chemistry, metallurgy, mineralogy, philosophy:

  • “The system of nature” is his main work where he expressed his ideas:

  • any person is a creature of nature; he exists as a part of nature, he is subordinated to its laws and is not free from them even in his mind. For a creature, created and limited by nature, there is nothing out of this great unity under the influence of which he is;

  • there is no difference between physical and spiritual man: “ A person is a purely physical creature; spiritual creature is just the same as a physical one, considered from a special point of view, i. e. in the respect of all its behaviour types, provoked by personal peculiarities”;

  • a physical man acts under the influence of reasons, cognized with the help of organs of sense perception; a spiritual person is a person, acting for physical reasons which prevent us from cognizing our own prejudices. As a result of this a person should always address physics and experience;

  • it is necessary to look for the means and help in nature and in personal effort but not in idols; it’s important to study nature and society objectives, to check everything up by means of experience for establishing the truth. A person is a part of nature, and in nature there exist only natural causes and effects;

  • by nature every person strives for happiness and “ societies have the same objective”. A society is a “totality of individuals, joined by the necessity of cooperation for the sake of self-preservation and society well-being.”;

  • natural laws, “based on the nature of a striving for good and ignoring evil, thinking and seeking for happiness person” can’t be canceled by society. That’s why, “civil” laws must be natural laws, adjusted to the necessities of a society or nation”.

  1. Denie Diderot is one of the compilers of the first “Encyclopedia”. His main ideas are:

  • a dominant conception of science among encyclopedists was directed against the “system of inborn ideas” which still had its followers;

  • the first thing, opened to our feelings is our being, thus our ideas, reflected by consciousness, refer to ourselves, i.e. they reflect thinking origin which is our nature, inseparable from us;

  • the second type of knowledge, existing due to our feelings, is being of outer objects, including our bodies;

  • Diderot defined ‘three different ways of soul influence on the objects of our thoughts”, referring to memory, intellect and imagination. These three abilities make up three different objects of human cognition: history refers to memory, philosophy - to intellect, arts – to imagination.

Thus, the main questions and the representatives of the New Philosophy were considered in the lecture.

Lecture 5

German philosophy


    1. The idea of an active man in German idealism.

    2. Cognition theory elaboration.

    3. Hegel’s philosophical conception.

    4. Feuerbach’s anthropological materialism: idea of a person, criticism of religion.

    5. Marx’s philosophy as the development of Hegel and Feuerbach’s’ ideas.

^ 1. The idea of an active man in German idealism.

1. The idea of freedom and necessity (Kant, Fichte)

  1. Freedom, according to Kant, is independence from definite reasons of the perceived by senses world.

  2. A creature, capable of acting in accordance with not only egoistic but with general purposes as well, is a free person.

  3. If in empirical world every phenomenon is caused by the previous one which is the reason for it, in the world of freedom a rational creature can “start the range”, proceeding from intellect, but not being determined by natural necessity.

2. According to Fichte, theoretical and practical origins coincide in absolute “Ego” and nature is only a condition for human freedom realization. “ We accept the existence of natural objects as something independent only because such activity with the help of which these objects appear, is hidden from our consciousness”.

  1. the principle of the world of freedom says: a rational creature is the objective itself, it can’t be considered only as a mean for something else;

  2. that’s why the world of freedom is an objective, it can’t be an freely acting cause, i.e. free will.

^ 2. Cognition theory elaboration.

1. General characteristics.

  1. A detailed attitude to the theory of cognition is typical for German idealism; ontological basis of the cognition theory was firs overcame in the 18th century.

  2. The founder of German idealism is I. Kant (1724-1804) who gave ontological explanation of the cognition theory.

  3. Unlike the philosophers of the 17th century, Kant analyses the structure of a subject for the salvation of the question “What is true knowledge?”;

  4. He set an objective to find the difference between subjective and objective elements of knowledge, proceeding from the subject itself and its structure; he distinguished empirical and transcendental levels:

  • empirical level includes psychological characteristics of a person;

  • transcendental one – general definitions, making up the belonging of a person.

  1. the objective character of knowledge is caused by the structure, which is an individual origin in a person.

2. Kant: experience and a priori forms of knowledge, contradiction in cognition (“antinomies”, “a thing in itself”, “a thing for us”).

  1. The problems of cognition were provoked by new approaches to the examination of nature:

  • Kant came to the conclusion that sensuality and intellect have a principle difference; they are two different pivots in human knowledge;

  • scientific knowledge is a synthesis of sensuality and intellect;

  • senses are blind without notions, notions are empty without senses;

  • judgments, in which empirical statements are given, don’t contain necessary and general knowledge, but have only possible knowledge;

  • these judgments have a priori character, i.e. they are based on the experience and because of their trustworthy and necessity can’t be compared with a priori judgments (pre-experience):

= space is a priori form of outer sense;

= time is a priori form of inner sense;

= synthetic judgments can be a priori, if they are based on the form of sensuality.

  1. Kant stressed the fact that a subject cognizes only something that he himself creates; he distinguished the world of phenomena and uncognizible world of “things in themselves”:

  • “things in themselves” (rationally cognized world) and phenomena bear the relationships of cause and effect; phenomena can’t exist without “things in themselves”;

  • antinomy is in his illegal application of the intellect category – causality – in the respect of “things in themselves”;

  • Kant defines rationally cognized world as the totality of “ intellectual creatures as things by themselves”;

  • “In every created phenomenon everything can be used as a mean; a person only (and every intellectual creature as well) is an aim itself”.
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