Sunday, May 06, 2012

Sean and Philosophy


For the past few week, Sean has been engrossed in this book on Philosophy whenever he is at home.  I bought this book from Kinokuniya here some time ago but no one bit.  The way things work here is if I buy a book and tell my kids to read, they will immediately be turned off from that book.  Never fails.  According to Sean, somehow whatever it is I offer him and say is interesting will be boring to him.  So what I do is I'll buy books which I think they will like and leave it around.  Months later, one of them usually bites, and these days 99% that would be Sean, since Brian is always on Facebook or too busy with schoolwork and activities :(

Anyway, Sean was really into this book and would do his school daily blog post about information he gleaned from the book.  Now that he's moved on to his current favourite book, I'll collate his thoughts on Philosophy here (his school blog will be defunct when he leaves).
22 Apr 2012 

A Philosophical Thought


Hello!  Recently I’ve been reading a book called The Philosophy Book.  It doesn’t say the name of the author.  It talks about philosophers in history, their lives, and their thoughts.  One of the philosophers it talks about is Confucius.  Confucius lived in China at around 500 BCE.  BCE stands for Before Common Era.  So Confucius lived around 500 years before AD 0.  Now Confucius had many ideas.  One of them was that faithfulness and sincerity hold the power of transformation.  His thinking was like this: When you are performing a ritual or ceremony, obviously you will show faithfulness and sincerity.  Those settings express faithfulness and sincerity extremely well, which allows virtue to be seen.  I think virtue means goodness.  These rituals and ceremonies are public, so everyone will see them, so they will see virtue.  Some of those people will be transformed by that and become good.  Therefore, faithfulness and sincerity hold the power of transformation.  Another of Confucius’ ideas was about relationships.  For a ruler and a subject, rulers should be benvolent and subjects should be loyal.  If you are benevolent that means you are kind.  For a parent and a child, a child should be obedient and a parent should be loving.  For a husband and a wife, the husband should be good and fair, and the wives should be understanding.  For an elder sibling and a younger sibling, the elder sibling should be gentle, and the younger sibling should be respectful.  For 2 friends, the older friend should be considerate, and the younger friend should be reverential.  I think reverential means respectful because It has the word revere in it and I know what that means.
So that’s some of Confucius’ ideas.  I hope you learned something!


23 Apr 2012 

Thales and Monism

Hello!  This is another blog post about philosophy because I’m still reading The Philosophy Book.  The first person to think rationally about why things happen was Thales.  Of course he was absolutely wrong but thinking about why things happen without saying, “Oh, it’s the gods who did this” made him the first proper philosopher.

His main thought was Monism, which means that you believe that the universe is made of one substance.  Thales thought that the universe was made of water in different forms.  He believed that…

The substance of the universe has to be able to transform easily and it must be essential to life.  Water fits both of these properties, even though Thales was absolutely wrong.  So that’s what the first proper philosopher thought.

I hope you learned something!

25 Apr 2012
The Soul Is Distinct From The Body
Hello!  I know that the title sounds like it has been said by a wise person who lived a long time ago.  In fact, it was!  The wise person was a philosopher called Avicenna who lived in Arabia.  He drew this conclusion like this:

If I had just started existing, and I was suspended in the air, blindfolded and touching nothing but air, I would not be able to sense anything, and I would not know that I exist in the physical sense.  However, I am existing, and the moment I think I am existing I know that my soul, or mind, exists because I know that I am thinking.  Therefore, if I am in this position, I know that my soul exists but I do not know that my body exists.  Therefore, the soul must be distinct from the body.

26 Apr 2012
Plato
Hello!  This blog post will be about Plato.  Do any of you know who he is?  Probably not.  Well, Plato was both a philosopher and a mathematician.  Plato thought that this world was the world of the senses, and everything here was an imperfect copy of something else that existed in a higher dimension, which he called the world of ideas.  For example, he thought that the world of ideas contained a perfect horse, and the world of the senses contained many different imperfect copies of that horse.  Of course, this idea came from nowhere with absolutely no logic to back it.  However, Plato was smart as a mathematician and he discovered the Platonic Solids.

So do you think he was crazy or smart or both?  Click on the link before you decide.

27 Apr 2012
What is a human being?
Hello!  What’s a human being?  There are many different definitions, actually.  A story goes that one day, in the ancient city of Athens long long ago, all of Plato’s followers came to meet.  They were all working on this problem: What is a human being?  They all agreed that a human was a featherless creature with two legs.

Suddenly one philosopher who did not agree brought a live chicken with no feathers to the meeting and said, “This is a human being!”  This story shows us that ancient people actually could not define a human being properly.  In 1927, however, there was a philosopher called Martin Heidegger and he defined a human being quite differently from other people.  Instead of looking at physical attributes, he looked at the characteristics that all human beings share, and he says that that is ontology.  Ontology is the study of existence-related things.  Martin Heidegger says that ontology is what distinguishes us from animals, like cats.  Do cats think about questions like, “What does it mean if you are existing?”  No.

What else do you think distinguishes us from animals?

30 Apr 2012
A Post about Philosophizing about Progress
Hello!  This blog post is about the thoughts of George Santayana.  He thought that those who don’t remember the past have to repeat it.  Now this may seem a little strange at first, but actually it isn’t.  Let’s say that there’s a nuclear war because of disagreements.  The nuclear war ends.  After a few years the same disagreements come again.  The people involved in this problem forget the horrible things that happened and so…

…the nuclear war is repeated.  That’s what George means when he says that those who don’t remember the past repeat it.

Do you think is right or wrong?

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