Presentation on theme: "Moral and Social Philosophy 3 Texts for reading : Blind Alley Beliefs David Cook, chapters 3,4,5 Questions that Matter, Ed Miller. Philosophy, Popkin."— Presentation transcript:
Moral and Social Philosophy 3 Texts for reading : Blind Alley Beliefs David Cook, chapters 3,4,5 Questions that Matter, Ed Miller. Philosophy, Popkin and Stroll. Section taught by Howard Taylor
Topics for Third Term n Humanism n Post-Modernism. n Existentialism n Marxism
Ideology. Ideas. How to improve the world or how to behave in the world. What is wrong with the world. How it should be put right. Systematic – written explanations Actions – justified by the ideology Own morality.
n The tutor does his best to be fair to all views - religious and non-religious. n However in the interests of honesty he will explain what he thinks and believes and why. n Although the tutor has his own convictions, the assessment of essays and tutorials will not be affected by a student's own different convictions. n Knowledge of the subject and good argument are all important for assessment. n Holding the same convictions as, or different convictions from, the tutor will not be relevant for module assessment.
Humanism HUMANISM: "Man is the measure of all things" Said Protagoras the ancient Greek Philosopher. (What he actually meant was that each person knows for him/herself alone what it true and what is good.)
These days ‘humanist’ usually means ‘atheist’. However that was not always so. Even in its modern atheist form it is only a special (optimistic) form of atheism. In its modern form it believes that we know nothing greater than ‘humans’ and therefore we should place our faith in humanity above all else. As we shall see later in the module, other forms of atheism say that there are no grounds for putting our faith in anything at all - not even ourselves.
We now turn briefly to the ancient world. n Ancient Greek philosophers believed the ability for reason n abstract thought n universal thought – made human beings unique and superior to all other earthly living or non-living things.
n Everywhere they looked in nature they saw ‘order’ and therefore ‘mindedness’. – Somehow, then, they believed that n mind pervades nature. n human beings share in that universal mind. n They had no belief in a Creator or Creation - (although Aristotle believed in a Prime Mover), so nature has to be as it is by logical necessity. – The mysteries of the universe can be understood by reason, logic and mathematics alone - without the need for experimentation.
Renaissance Humanism (15th & 16th Centuries) n Celebration of freedom of thought. – Dependence on the doctrines of the Church became less necessary – Right and wrong could be discerned from ‘the way the world is’. – Natural law. n Although knowledge became less dependent upon the Church, underpinning this humanism was faith in the goodness of the natural world and its Creator.
Post Enlightenment and Modern Humanism. n After Newton’s discoveries of the ‘laws of motion’ governing the movement of bodies (large and small), many gradually came to believe that eventually all things would be explicable by physical laws alone. Growth of a humanism without belief in God. The Laws of Nature, eternal? Why do the planets orbit the sun? Not God but the law of gravity. God of the gaps. A mechanistic universe. Reductionism Nevertheless humanism maintains its optimistic belief in the goodness of humanity.
EXCERPTS FROM THE BRITISH HUMANIST ASSOCIATION’S DECLARATION OF ITS MAIN CONVICTIONS (whole slide): n Humanists reject the idea of any supernatural agency intervening to help or hinder us. n Evidence shows that we have only one life, and humanists grasp the opportunity to live it to the full. n Humanists retain faith … that people can and will continue to solve problems, and that quality of life can be improved and made more equitable. Humanists are positive, gaining inspiration from a rich natural world, our lives and culture. n Humanists think that: this world and this life are all we have; we should try to live full and happy lives ourselves and, as part of this, make it easier for other people to do the same; all situations and people deserve to be judged on their merits by standards of reason and humanity; individuality and social co-operation are equally important.
Questions and Problems for Modern Humanism 1
Questions and Problems for Modern Humanism 2 n We must promote human happiness. Yes but, how do we know what is good for the promotion of human happiness in the long term? Does not human happiness come from a sense of purpose, which is being fulfilled? What is this purpose? Is humanity's purpose in life to be happy? If that is the case, all that is being said is that in order for humanity to be happy it must be happy! The first question above has not been answered.
Questions and Problems for Modern Humanism 3 n God is now unnecessary because education has meant that humans have 'come of age'. n Are not some educated people criminals? n Is there evidence from our behaviour that we have grown up and can now safely guide ourselves? n Mankind is potentially capable of achieving great progress in terms, of technology and social justice. n Can we be sure that the way we have used the progress in technology has brought more good than evil?
Questions and Problems for Modern Humanism 4 n Mankind is also free to act and achieve his aims if he so chooses - there are no supernatural bonds to tie him down. n If we are nothing but bundles of matter and physical laws can there be real freedom?
Lord Hailsham: If Common Law did take the view that a child in the womb has the same rights as a separate human being, it would follow that the termination of a pregnancy, even to save a woman's life, is legally the same thing as the murder of a child. But at the other end of the scale, I find it impossible to deny that the embryo in the mother's womb is a form of human life and, as such, to be reverenced both by the mother herself and by her doctor. I have to take into account the holiness and worshipfulness of human life, whether in the mother or the unborn child, and, in so far as humanism leads one to treat human beings as if they were just animals or, for that matter, to treat animals as if they were chattels and nothing more, it seems to me to fall down precisely because it has degraded humanity and even animal life in the proper scale of values... Humanism by itself has never redeemed mankind from sin or despair, offers no explanation why, in acting morally, men are also acting rationally. In so far as humanism exalts the nature and destiny of man I am with it all the way. But in so far as it debases man to a mere bundle of wants and satisfactions, I find it unworthy of the name of humanism, because it fails to understand the nature of humanity it professes to serve.
Post Modernism. First what is meant by Modernism? It had/has many differing forms mainly expressing beliefs about science and/or politics and the meaning of human history. n It was/is the quest for certainty without reference to religion. (Many ‘modern’ people remained religious but used religion for their private lives and kept it out of the public domain.)
What is Modernism - continued. n From science: – Truth is built on logic applied to self-evident truths (rationalism) and/or experimental data. – Objective scientific method applied across the board in the soft sciences (eg: sociology, psychology) – Naturalism - and scientism: The physical universe is all there is. n From history and politics: – Hegel’s Universal Spirit and the Dialectic. – Marxism was one political example of modernism.
The Meta-narratives of Modernism broke down: n Problems with Modernism. – Political Theories broke down. – Science’s advance reveals more and more mystery. n It can’t answer the ultimate questions after all. – Doubts about science’s ability to be really objective. – Depersonalising influence of modernism n wars, pollution, n it cannot explain our personal self-awareness and spiritual longings. – Its optimistic belief in progress has been undermined by recent human history.
Post Modernism reacts against Modernism. n If the Meta narratives of Modernism fail should we return to the big stories or Meta narratives of religion? n Jean-Francois Lyotard (French Canadian), in 1979, defined Post Modernism as `incredulity towards (all) Meta-narratives’. – Neither science nor politics nor religion give us universal truth. – There is no `big story’ - no universal truth. n Don’t worry - just pick and mix what makes you feel good. n Don’t consider the big questions. Just enjoy your own little world.
Mix together ancient and modern images, sayings and teachings. Don’t ask yourself what they mean - meaning does not matter - there is no universal meaning. If possible enjoy both religious services and speeches by atheists. If they appear to contradict one another - don’t worry - its how they make you feel that matters. Just don’t get bored.
. Post Modernism is a ‘care-free’ attitude to life coming from the conviction that there are no universal truths. But can that conviction remain care-free? – The conviction also has its inevitable darker despairing side - e.g.: Nietzsche (19th C German philosopher) and his alternatives to Nihilism. – Nietzsche and his fear of Nihilism are considered later under the heading of Existentialism.
The Intellectual Problem for Post Modernism ‘There is no absolute truth’ is itself a statement that claims to be absolutely true! Post Modernism therefore refutes itself! See handout: Post Modernism
Structuralism, Post Structuralism and Decontructionism. In contrast to the old view that all my disparate parts are held together by my unchanging 'self' and 'consciousness', Structuralism held that the real 'I' is the construction of the 'language' of my culture. The old view had been that my conscious self apprehends the real world around me, and then from my ideas about it, formulates language to communicate to other ‘selves’ my ideas of reality. So language is a product of the 'self' apprehending the real world out there.
Structuralism reverses this by making the whole 'language' the source of the structure of the real 'me'. Words are defined by other words not by the reality they pretend to reflect. So words do not refer to the real world. They are understood by their difference in relation to other words. (Words 'differ' and do not 'refer') It is claimed evidence for this comes from attempts to translate one language to another. All translations are approximations. This means that there is no direct reference from reality to word. Words only find meaning in relation to other words. Structuralists tried to strip the human of his various cultures that structure the 'person' to find the real 'person' behind all the differing manifestations of humanity.
Post Structuralists thought that there were no definite underlying structures that could explain the human condition it was impossible to step outside of discourse and survey the situation objectively. Jacques Derrida (1930- ) developed Deconstruction as a technique for uncovering the cultural assumptions hidden in the texts. Influenced by Nietzsche and others, Derrida suggests that all text has ambiguity, therefore the possibility of a final and complete interpretation is impossible. There is no point in trying to get back to the ‘author’ (including Derrida himself?).
According to Post Structuralists and Deconstructionists: Language contains hidden ‘hierarchies' and 'privilege' which construct the culture. Language gives Reason/Science special places of privilege. (Yet science does not really know what reality is. It should be more humble.) To identify these hierarchies one is involved in 'deconstruction'. Attempts to interpret texts have given the Author a privilege. Deconstruction rejects this and therefore seeking 'what the author really meant' is wrong. (Therefore to find what Derrida really meant is also wrong!) Anti-Elitism. Post-modern art attacks traditional views of 'quality’. Exhibits: a bicycle wheel, vacuum cleaners, a dirty nappy, a urinal. those portraying contradiction and absurdity, such as: a picture of a horse labelled as a ‘door’ and a glass of water labelled as an ‘oak tree’.
Existentialism. Some important existentialists: n Soren Kierkegaard ( ) – father of existentialism – Christian n Friedrich Nietzsche ( ) – Atheist. n Jean Paul Satre ( ) – Atheist n Albert Camus ( ) – Atheist. n John McQuarrie – Christian.
Essence and Existence. n Essence Does God exist? Who are we? Is there life after death? What is the good life? What is right? How can we improve the world? What is the purpose of life? n Existence Decisions Commitments Passions
Existentialism n Existence precedes essence. You are not born with a fixed nature. You cannot, by thinking, find the meaning of life. So don’t ponder the essence of your life and then act. Rather choose and commit yourself to something. From your choice you will make and find your own essence. You cannot avoid choices. (Choosing not to choose is a choice) This involves a frightening responsibility. Death mocks everything in the end. (Atheistic form of existentialism only) It has many forms but there is a common thread :
To Be or Not to Be? - that is the Question. n Albert Camus (Atheist existentialist who eventually died in a car crash) said: – “death is philosophy's only problem.” – How does one make sense of life when haunted by this spectre? n Existentialists say: – `We must answer `To Be’ and put everything into our lives.’
Background to Existentialism. n German Philosopher - Hegel. ( ) – Not an existentialist! – Dialectic n Socrates: n Ideas in conflict with other ideas lead to advance in knowledge. – Hegel’s Dialectic: n Nation in conflict with nation leads to advance in the progress of history. n This progress is guided by Great Spirit - immanent in World
Kierkegaard’s themes Rejected Hegel’s philosophy as unrelated to life. Tumultuous life marked by indecision re marriage and ordination. We cannot find truth by reflection and reason. I must do what God wants me to do and then I will find truth. Don’t go in for proofs. The less the evidence the better. Decision - leap in dark - pain.
Kierkegaard’s book titles give a clue to his thinking: n Fear and Trembling n Philosophical Fragments n Concluding Unscientific Postscript. n The Concept of Dread
Kierkegaard’s main themes (Cont ) Stake your life on something even if, at first, there is no reason to do so. Don’t live a second or third hand life, choose for yourself. Subjectivity not objectivity is key to truth. Enlightenment must come from beyond one’s reason. One must desire enlightenment for its own sake.
Kierkegaard’s parable. n King (representing God and/or enlightenment) wants to marry peasant girl. – She must love him not for his wealth or power n He can’t dazzle her with wealth and entice her. n He can’t force her to marry her. n He conceals himself. n So: – God concealed Himself from us in Christ. – We must desire enlightenment for its own sake and not be enticed by its benefits. n Then God is able to miraculously reveal true purpose of life to us. n Kierkegaard was converted during Holy Week
Subject - Object relationship n HGT’s comments: n Objective truth does exist. n Thinking is necessary. n Thinking alone is not enough. n Revelation is necessary especially in knowledge of persons. n We cannot be detached observers n Understand a little, commit a little, understand more, commit more. n Truth does change us. n Personal commitment and passion is part of the quest for objective truth.
Soren Kierkegaard - quotations (1) *Faith Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further. *Life and Living Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living. *Mystics and Mysticism Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, so the mystic longs for the moment when in prayer he can, as it were, creep into God.
Soren Kierkegaard - quotations (2) – Personality n Personality is only ripe when a man has made the truth his own. – Saints n God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners. – Tyranny n The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.
Meaning and meaninglessness from two philosopher mathematicians. (I owe the thoughts to the Christian philosopher: Thomas V. Morris.) Bertrand Russell (20th C) in ‘Why I am not a Christian.’: “That man … his growth, his hopes and fears, his love and beliefs, are but the outcomes of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, nor heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling can preserve individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system.. and be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins - all these things, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.” Pascal (17th C), Pensees 139: How hollow and full of trash is man’s heart.
Something has meaning if and only if it is endowed with meaning of significance by a purposive personal agent or group of such agents. To have meaning of any kind, a thing must be brought under the governance of some kind of purposive intention, whether an intention to refer, to express, to convey, or to operate in the production of some acknowledged value. This is true of all meaning. Meaning is never intrinsic; it is always derivative. Objective or Subjective Meaning? Some philosophers advocate a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ approach to questions of meaning. According to this view there is no ‘objective’ meaning of life waiting to be discovered. If we order our lives around things we desire, value and enjoy, within the structure of goals we take for ourselves, we render them meaningful and thereby give meaning to the life they compose. A person’s life can therefore have ‘subjective’ meaning - or so they say.
Problems for Subjective Meaning. How do you distinguish between one kind of ‘meaningful’ goal and another? Someone may focus his whole life on collecting matchbox covers and another on finding cures for terrible diseases. How does one distinguish the trivial from meaningful goals? There is nothing to appeal to. Someone may be very good at torturing people and enjoy it very much so that he focuses his life on that pursuit. How does one distinguish between worthy goals and unworthy goals? There is nothing to appeal to. How can a purely subjective approach to life’s meaning account for these objective differences?
Nietzsche. n `God is Dead’ – Thus Spake Zarathustra begins with pronouncement by Zarathustra that God is dead – Nietzsche meant that belief in God is dying and that is the significant fact for belief in life’s alleged value. (Rather than the actual existence/non-existence of God.)
According to Nietzsche Christian belief in God is essential for meaning and morality. To try to preserve it without God is an ‘English’ fantasy. Values cannot survive without belief in God. There is no value to be discovered in the world. He attacks the view that the preservation and advancement of humankind can be a motive for morality. He is thus afraid of the ‘nihilism’ that will follow the death of God. However he is also afraid we may cling to Christian morality (without reason - because ‘God is dead’) and deteriorate into the ‘slave’ morality described in the Sermon on the Mount.
No truth can serve as the basis of morality or immorality. (Although there are cases where ‘moral’ action should be pursued and ‘immoral’ be action avoided but not for any ultimate reason.) Why should we be interested in truth? Maybe the pursuit of falsehood might serve us better. Dissatisfaction is the germ of ethics. Survival of the fittest belongs to what we actually are. Therefore our humanity must be affirmed by the pursuit of ‘Greatness’ rather than ‘Goodness’. Greatness absorbs and uses pain. Goodness tries to relieve pain - and is therefore to be despised. We must assert the ‘will to power’ or the ‘master morality’ rather than the pathetic appeals to goodness by the ‘slaves’ who invoke Christian morality or ‘human rights’ to protect them from the masters.
Because God is Dead (said Nietzsche) : n It follows that: – the physical world with its laws is all that there is – there is no real `I' independent of my body/brain. (See quote in next slide) – no such thing as free thought – no such thing as reasoning and knowledge – science as knowledge of the real universe is an illusion
Quotation from `Beyond Good and Evil’: As for the superstitions of the logicians, I shall never tire of underlining a concise little fact which these superstitious people are loath to admit - namely that a thought comes when it wants, not when `I' want; so that it is a falsification of the facts to say: the subject `I' is the condition of the predicate `think' Here Nietzsche is saying two related things: 1. There is no real ‘self’ (`I’) that can initiate anything. All actions and ‘thoughts’ are the result of impersonal physical laws. 2. `Thinking’, as we normally consider it, is impossible.
The Irony n In an age of dramatic scientific discoveries we decide that we know nothing – To the obvious question: `How can it be true that there is no truth?' he provides no answer. He cannot. – Nietzche enjoys the irony that the rationality that made science possible has been destroyed by science.
Nietzsche’s existentialism in blue Science alone provides the given This has made our normal understanding of truth unintelligible There is no objective purpose to life - no good and evil. We must now seize the moment, say yes to life, and impose our will on the world around us. We must be strong willed. Truth is not discovered it is created. Truth is the will to power.
An extreme example of Nietzsche’s rejection of objective morality: "Who can attain to anything great if he does not feel in himself the force and will to inflict great pain ? The ability to suffer is a small matter: in that line, weak women and even slaves often maintain masterliness. But not to perish from internal distress and doubt when one inflicts great suffering and hears the cry to it - that is great, that belongs to greatness.” Friedrich Nietzche, 'The Joyful Wisdom', trans. by Thomas Common (New York: Russell and Russell, Inc., 1964), p.25.
Nietzsche’s Contradictory & Tragic Life(1) n Son of a Protestant minister n Father died young. n He always loved and honoured his father’s memory. n On his father’s grave stone he put the words from the New Testament: – Love abides forever. n He had little money, poor health and was lonely.
Nietzsche’s Contradictory & Tragic Life(2) n Yet he hated teaching of Jesus (which taught ‘slave morality’ such as: – Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. – Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Nietzsche’s Contradictory & Tragic Life(3) n He believed such teaching went against his conviction that we must assert ourselves in the face of adversity. n He believed Jesus encouraged weakness. n A Question: – Could the contradictions in his intellectual and spiritual life have contributed to his eventual insanity? (He died at 56 after spending years in a psychiatric hospital)
Richard Rorty*, Human Rights, Rationality and Sentimentality: n When contemporary admirers of Plato claim that all featherless bipeds - even the stupid and childlike, even the women, even the sodomized - have the same inalienable rights, admirers of Nietzsche reply that the very idea of 'inalienable human rights is, like the idea of a special added ingredient, a laughably feeble attempt by the weaker members of the species to fend off the stronger. n As I see it, one important intellectual advance made in our century is the steady decline of interest in the quarrel between Plato and Nietzsche. There is a growing willingness to neglect the question 'What is our nature?' and to substitute the question 'What can we make of ourselves?'… We are coming to think of ourselves as the flexible, protean, self-shaping animal rather than as the rational animal or the cruel animal. n One of the shapes we have recently assumed is that of a human rights culture… We should stop trying to get behind or beneath this fact, stop trying to detect and defend its so-called 'philosophical presuppositions'… Philosophers like myself… see our task as a matter of making our own culture - the human rights culture - more self-conscious and more powerful, rather than of demonstrating its superiority to other cultures by an appeal to something trans-cultural. Richard Rorty is Professor of Comparativ e Literature in USA and a well known supporter of Post- Modernism.
If we think of our essence as mere accidental descent from bacteria, we can find it depressing, as did George Bernard Shaw. (Next slide) See also handout: Bad and Bored. Or we can rejoice in the meaninglessness of life - and allow the strong to eliminate the weak as in the quote of H. G. Wells. (2 slides ahead.) (The following GBS and HGW quotes are taken from Richard Dawkins’ ‘The Devil’s Chaplain’.) Or we can attempt to rise above the meaninglessness of life in personal existentialism. (Satre, Camus (?)
George Bernard Shaw wrote of Darwinian evolution: When its whole significance dawns on you, your heart sinks into a heap of sand within you. There is a hideous fatalism about it, a ghastly and damnable reduction of beauty and intelligence, of strength and purpose, of honour and aspiration.
H.G.Wells, however, revelled in the ruthlessness of nature: And how will the New Republic treat the inferior races? How will it deal with the black?... the yellow man?... the Jew?... those swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people, who do not come into the new needs of efficiency? Well, the world is a world, and not a charitable institution, and I take it they will have to go.... And the ethical system of these men of the New Republic, the ethical system which will dominate the world state, will be shaped primarily to favour the procreation of what is fine and efficient and beautiful in humanity—beautiful and strong bodies, clear and powerful minds.... And the method that nature has followed hitherto in the shaping of the world, whereby weakness was prevented from propagating weakness... is death.... The men of the New Republic... will have an ideal that will make the killing worth the while. Someone asked: ‘Why shouldn't morality be accepted as the truth and Darwinism a mere political construct?’
EXISTENTIALISM AFTER KIERKEGAARD – Some books by Jean Paul Sartre Nausea Mockery of ‘humanism’. Distinction between a person and a thing is blurred or denied. Being and Nothingness The Wall No Exit The Room
Jean Paul Satre - Quotations 1: n "Atheistic existentialism...states that if God does not exist, there is at least one being in whom existence precedes essence, a being who exists before he can be defined by any concept and that this being is man, or, as Heidegger says, human reality. What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essence? It means that, first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself."
Jean Paul Satre - Quotations 2: "The existentialist is strongly opposed to a certain kind of secular ethics which would like to abolish God with the least possible expense.” (This is Satre’s attack on Humanism.) All human actions are equivalent... and all are on principle doomed to failure. The poor don't know that their function in life is to exercise our generosity. Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance.
Jean Paul Satre - Quotations 3: n Things are entirely what they appear to be and behind them... there is nothing. n Hell is other people., n My thought is me: that's why I can't stop. I exist because I think... and I can't stop myself from thinking.
Jean Paul Satre - Quotations 4: n "There are two kinds of existentialists; first, those who are Christian...and on the other hand the atheistic existentialists, among whom...I class myself. What they have in common is that they think that existence precedes essence, or, if you prefer, that subjectivity must be the turning point." We must act out passion before we can feel them. Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
Albert Camus - Most famous book - ‘The Outsider’. Summary in next slide. n Quotations from Albert Camus 1: – Ideology n Whoever today speaks of human existence in terms of power, efficiency, and "historical tasks" is an actual or potential assassin. – Injustice n Children will still die unjustly even in a perfect society. Even by his greatest effort, man can only propose to diminish, arithmetically, the sufferings of the world. – Life and Living n If, after all, men cannot always make history have meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one.
Albert Camus’s The Outsider. The Outsider is not a ‘bad’ man, but he is indifferent to the difference between good and evil and to society’s norms. This means: No pretence of sadness at mother's funeral. Helps his ‘bad’ friends, e.g: pimp who was brutal to Arab girl who tried to escape, neighbour who was cruel to his dog but wept when it died, Pimp quarrels with girl's brothers and this leads to a fight in which the Outsider kills, in self defence??, an Arab. He is arrested and put on trial for murder. Evidence against him includes: attitude to his mother's death & helping the pimp escape. No pretence. He is then sentenced to death. Priest comes to him before execution and appeals to him to accept the gospel of forgiveness and peace with God. Angrily refuses saying he doesn't believe in God. Just before his death he rejoices at meaningless of everything.
Quotations from Albert Camus 2: – Optimism n If Christianity is pessimistic as to man, it is optimistic as to human destiny. Well, I can say that, pessimistic as to human destiny, I am optimistic as to man. – Self-knowledge n To know oneself, one should assert oneself. Psychology is action, not thinking about oneself. We continue to shape our personality all our life. If we knew ourselves perfectly, we should die. (This quote shows Camus as a true existentialist) – Suffering n In default of inexhaustible happiness, eternal suffering would at least give us a destiny. But we do not even have that consolation, and our worst agonies come to an end one day.
Marxism Karl Marx ( ) The Two Main Writings: Das Capital The Communist Party Manifesto. But first the background to Marxist theory:
The Dialectic. n Process. n Thesis against Antithesis leads to Synthesis. n This new thesis has its own antithesis. n So a new synthesis emerges n And so on … n Dialectic in Socrates and Plato. n Method of argumentation using `contrary case’ to elicit more truth. n One opinion has a counter opinion. n The clash of the two leads to advance in understanding in a synthesis - and so on …
Hegel( )& the Dialectic Absolute Spirit (Mind) guides dialectic process. n A) Process in history of universe – Material universe - Low level consciousness - higher consciousness - self-awareness - human reason. – The Mind of the Universe now expresses itself in human reasoning. n B) Process in history of nations. – Nation against nation leads to new nation incorporating best of both in a new synthesis. – This new nation conflicts with another nation and another nation appears. – So on until the perfect society is reached.
Feuerbach ( ) n He denied the existence of the Absolute Mind or Spirit. n Reality can be understood by material processes alone.
Marx’s Dialectical Materialism n The Dialectic is not the conflict of nations but classes. – The Class Struggle. n The Dialectic is an inevitable process but is not moved forward by Absolute Spirit or Mind - there is no God or Eternal Mind. – It can be understood by material and economic processes alone. – A Question for Marxists: n How do we know that blind material processes alone will follow the path Marx believed in?
Some of the main phases of Marx’s dialectic: 1. Feudalism, 2. Capitalism, 3. Socialism, 4. Communism. – Each change is revolutionary not gradual or evolutionary. – The process needs each of these in order. n A people cannot jump from Feudalism to Socialism (say). n For example Marx believed capitalism was needed to give socialism a prosperous foundation. – However, after Marx’s time, one of the main communist nation (Russia) did try to jump from rural semi-feudal economies to socialism, missing out industrial capitalism!
Feudalism n Landowner and Tenants. – Tenants have no right to buy land or significant property. – Permanent serfdom. n Clash between serfs and landowners leads to Capitalism.
Capitalism leads to Socialist revolution. – Every person can own land and/or capital. n Some are successful and start businesses. n They employ workers. n Competition between businesses lowers prices. n Low prices means low wages paid to workers. n Worker is paid less than the `value’ he puts into the product. n The difference is the `surplus value’ n Worker becomes alienated from the product. – Workers rise against owners of capital. n Workers take over government and seize all property for the people. – `Dictatorship of the proletariat’ (socialism) begins.
Socialism to Communist Utopia. n The power of the state withers away n Nations and governments disappear. n A community of common ownership emerges. n This communist community would then fulfil Marx’s famous words: ` From each according to his ability to each according to his need’. – It was this statement that inspired many Western Christian people to sympathise with Communist ideology - at least until the realities of life under Stalin (USSR) and Mao (China) became apparent. – This final `communist’ phase was never reached.
The reality was the opposite of Utopia. n Even excluding those killed in war or civil war, in the 20th Century more than 100 million people perished under so-called Marxist governments - many more than all those who perished under all other systems of government put together. n Why did this happen? n Three things, at least, contributed: – Absence of the rule of law. – The concentration of all political and economic power in the hands of a political elite. – The explicit materialist conviction that human beings are not finally accountable to God.
Marxist Morality and a Paradox n An act which encourages the forward movement of the revolutionary process is good. n An act (say generosity to the poor) that delays the revolution is bad. n The revolutionary process is inevitable and cannot be stopped by anyone. – Nevertheless we must struggle and fight to promote the revolution.