Philosophy and the Czech Republic


Back in the day I decided that my education as a liberal  intellectual could not be complete without some courses in philosophy and so I signed up for a few through the University of Waterloo correspondence program.

There is nothing like philosophy to sharpen your thinking and  I decided to start with basic logic 101…..

“Plato was a man

All men are mortal

Therefore all men are Plato

And so all men are homosexual”

Piece of cake this course is going to be.

“God is Love.

Love is blind.

Steve Wonder is blind.

Conclusion: Steve Wonder is God “

well maybe not but I liked his music

“Only God is perfect

Nobody is perfect

I am nobody

Therefore I am perfect”

Hell this course was easy. But I only got a B-

My next venture was into French Existentialism where I learned about choice, responsibility and free will….

I dove into studying Sartre and Camus and uplifting works like Being and Nothingness and Nausea- “It’s quite an undertaking to start loving somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. There is even a moment right at the start where you have to jump across an abyss: if you think about it you don’t do it.”

The abyss according to Kierkegaard is crossed by a leap of faith, so when you reach  the edge of nothingness  you jump across into the arms of God. If you don’t there is only nihilism, and the fear and trembling that comes with awareness of the absurd. Camus might say..” the predicament of man is that he is forced to live in a barren Godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void surrounded by waste, horror and depravity.”

So I guess maybe the orange guy is right..

Well after this course you required high doses of antidepressants and so I needed solutions to the abyss and the problem of God  which meant  it was time to explore the philosophy of religion and the various proofs of God’s existence. What I learned was that most of  the justifications for his/her existence were flawed but the design argument had definite possibilities..

“Every contingent object that we know was the product of intelligent design”.  Like a watch for example, can’t assemble itself.

Now since the universe is a contingent object it’s probably true that the universe is intelligently designed.

Well that’s logical enough. Except science has shown us that there  are other ways that order and design can come about such as by purely physical force over very long time periods. Damn.

I did however dispense with God in an essay on the problem of evil.

There is firstly moral evil which is the misery we inflict on each other. I learned that God allows this in order to perfect our free will and encourage  us to make moral choices. If we are good we go upstairs and if bad we go somewhere much warmer and so the bad guys hopefully get weeded out and prefer to perform good works.

But then there was the holocaust which lead to the conclusion that God  was guilty of wretched excess in his perfection program and maybe a tad sadistic as well. So much for that argument.

Natural evil was a bigger hurdle since catastrophes like hurricanes and earthquakes etc seem to occur in developing poor nations that happen to have the worlds’ most religious people. So why doesn’t God instead dispense with the Czech republic which is full of boozing  immoral atheists?…..

Czech and mate(s)

Is it that they drink more  beer than anywhere else on earth and beer was invented by theistic monks?

OK, so what I did determine was that God never inflicted natural evil in North  Dakota and that’s because it’s filled with God-fearing republicans but yet Mississippi which has the most religious folks in the USA has the most tornadoes in the country. Well this theorizing wasn’t going to work.

I next contemplated this issue: Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II was a wealthy job creator  but God apparently sided with a poor, altruistic  and humble community organizer (Moses). So if God did exist he was certainly not a republican but a socialist and certainly his son was pretty much a Marxist.

So naturally my next course was now going to have  to be social and political philosophy. I learned that there were 16 types of government eg republic (France) , theocracy (Iran,) dictatorship (Angola) or monarchy (Brunei) to name but a few. But which is best? Meaning moral, just, and utilitarian, as in the needs of the many outweighing  the needs of the few. Plato thought that an oligarchy of philosopher kings might do the best job of governance but humans beings being as they are, need checks and balances ie a constitution or charter. The answer, not surprisingly, is found in those philosophies  that embrace democratic socialism which seem to offer the most just governance. So places like Canada and Norway are at top of the heap . No republicans they are not communist..

Having figured out religion and politics and logic theory it was now time to look at epistemology-the study of knowledge and how we know what we know.

The first step was to show that you existed and Rene Descartes said even if you doubted your existence you had to exist in order to be able to do the doubting -good start.

We often know what we know through reason from self evident  truth eg something really obvious..” a bachelor is a single man”. The other truths are  based on observable evidence fact-finding, read science. Plants are green because of chlorophyll. The sun is hot because of hydrogen fusion.   Jesus did not have a pet dinosaur, and man evolved in Tanzania not in  a garden in Iraq eating Macintosh apples supplied by an immoral woman.

But at the quantum level everything gets a bit murky and when we observe things, we change what we are observing and we can’t know anything with  clear certainty..

Well that made perfect sense.

And so what I asked myself, at the end of these courses was, is knowledge really knowable and if it is, how do you know?

Well, what I do know is that when I retire I am  moving to Prague.

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