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Modern Philosophy Kilbridge McQuaid Jesuit. Epistemology What can we know? Of what can we be certain?

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Presentation on theme: "Modern Philosophy Kilbridge McQuaid Jesuit. Epistemology What can we know? Of what can we be certain?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Modern Philosophy Kilbridge McQuaid Jesuit

2 Epistemology What can we know? Of what can we be certain?

3 René Magrittes The Treachery of Images (1929), conveys Kants view on representations. We can never know things-in-themselves (noumena).

4 René Magritte, The Human Condition


6 Harvard Shield, 1640s. The Old and New Testaments reveal the nature of the universe, but reason is limited

7 Harvard Shield, current. The nature of the universe is no longer a closed book.

8 The Question of Free Will

9 Free will, decision-making and morality…

10 The Force : Is it like Schopenhauers Will or Bergsons Élan Vital?

11 Hegel Professor John L. Heineman, Boston College

12 Marx Professor John L. Heineman, Boston College

13 According to Hegel and Marx, the individual is swept up in the great forces of history (whether material or immaterial: society or geist). The individual does not really exist and certainly is at the mercy of these deterministic forces.

14 Hegel and Marx Nietzsche What do you envision as an ideal world? Are we progressing toward it? What prevents or opposes that dream? Do we have the power to make it happen? Self and Society

15 Existentialism and The Meaning of Life

16 The Dilemma of Free Will and Purpose: If there is a grand scheme to the world, one in which we serve a purpose, do we have free will? If there is none, and we do have free will, to what end do we exert our will?

17 A Cry for Freedom or a Plea for Meaning? Sources:; Harold Crick, Stranger than Fiction and Edvard Munchs The Scream

18 Source:; Reality and illusion, beauty and horror, freedom and conformity: How do we become authentic individuals out of a social existence? Rene Magritte and Stranger than Fiction

19 Disillusioned Darkness at the break of noon Shadows even the silver spoon The handmade blade, the child's balloon Eclipses both the sun and moon To understand you know too soon There is no sense in trying… The hollow horn plays wasted words Proved to warn That he not busy being born Is busy dying.… words like bullets bark As human gods aim for their marks Made everything from toy guns that sparks To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark It's easy to see without looking too far That not much Is really sacred. - Bob Dylan, Its Alright, Ma (Im Only Bleeding)

20 The Meaning of Life Does life have meaning? What is a good life? What is purpose? What is a goal? What is our goal?

21 Happiness What brings sustainable happiness? Aristotle: Virtue Someone who would willingly die? Stranger Than Fiction ( NYC Subway Hero (

22 Virtues Cardinal –Fortitude –Temperance –Justice –Prudence Theological –Faith –Hope –Love

23 Postmodernism Liberating ourselves from the mistaken notion that there are grand narratives or objective truths. Vocabulary and recurring phrases: Critique of institutional power structures Fragmented narrative perspectives Social construction of reality/norms The map replacing the territory Deconstruction Irony


25 Postmodernism asks: Are you a tool?

26 Commodification Are you, in any way, the products you purchase? Are you the product of social constructs? Untitled, Barbara Kruger, 1987


28 The ironic use conventional images and fashion to critique conformity and social norms. This then becomes the norm. Ironic, eh?, surprised/. surprised/

29 Source:

30 The Examined Life Reflect on Experience Act based on Reflection Pursue Knowledge Practice Virtue Love

31 What we havent explored: Analytic philosophy, the dominant philosophical movement of the English and the American academies. Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein are two important philosophers who formed and adopted this approach. They focus on language analysis and formal logic.




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