How to look at thoughts of philosophers and philosophical systems

In certain religious groups there are people who say one may not read philosophers their work.

Many philosophers their thought have influenced lots of people. We always should remember that their thoughts are best read in context. In the context of the lives that they lived, the times that they lived in, and the history of what came before and what happened after.

Many of the ideas of great thinkers of the past, so many centuries later might look dated to us. And our post-modern sensibilities make it easy for us to find fault, to criticize and to deconstruct these earlier works. Some even think that there is not much real value to be found in their works, whilst others think today some people give not enough interest to those ancient thinkers.

The real value for us is to hunt down the true genius that was driving the ideas. What was the inspiration, the spark that fuelled truly original thinking? We should wonder how they came to think about certain matters and how their thinking was   original or could bring something extra to that period of thinking or for later generations.

If they had not much to tell, I do not think we would still speak of them or would not be interested to read those ancient writings.

What did for example Ralph Waldo Emerson or William James bring that was new, that was passed on from them to the next generations? What made it that people were willing to listen to them or to give them so much attention? Or what did James offer that had not been thought of before and how has that affected the course of things since?

thinks

This is where the value is to be found. You won’t find answers to these questions through only reading the ideas, you have to know about culture and history and personality. {How Do You Read Philosophy?}

What we do have to question is

  • what has this person to tell us
  • in what kind of light is that person looking at things
  • how are their thought fed by the trends in their time or what was the general thinking of their time
  • in which way where such thinkers willing to listen to people of their time
  • how were they willing to place their ideas in context with other ways of thinking
  • what is are were the angles to look at things
  • how could they cope with agreement or disagreement and what were their reactions on critique

Today we have to try to approach the ancient and the present philosophers from different sides.

According

Philosophy is generally seen to be comprised of three main components; Metaphysics, which tells you what is real; Epistemology which tells you how you know what is real; and Ethics which tells you what you should value.

To his understanding

a philosophical system is complete in the sense that it fulfills all of these functions. {Why do worldviews clash?}

His generalised idea of Christians is limited to Trinitarian Christians who believe in hell to be a place of torture, and the belief that man

will abide in one or the other after death based on the way you live and the state of some invisible part of you called a soul. {Why do worldviews clash?}

He writes

Epistemologically the way Christians know what is real is that God has told human beings what is real through the Bible, so what is true is what is written in the Bible. Christian Ethics revolve around things like charity, loving thy neighbor, duty to family, etc. In a closed system like this you can always ask questions from within the system. Question: Should I steal? Answer: No. Justification: Because the Bible dictates that you don’t. But when you start to ask questions from outside of the system such as: Does God exist? Things get more challenging. {Why do worldviews clash?}

He seems to forget many Christians wonder in their life if God exists. So to call it a non-christian question is in our eyes not exactly right or forgetting that all people question matters of life, what is behind it and what is in it.

He probably agrees that

a complete philosophical system – a worldview – dictates what is real, how you know what is real and what to value about what is real. Without those agreements there is only flimsy basis for discussion. {Why do worldviews clash?}

As such we not need as such the Bible to explain that there is a god or The God. Though the problem can be when one says or thinks:

If the question is inserted into the system from the outside, a Christian could answer by saying, ‘yes, God exists because the Bible says so.’ But that argument only works if someone shares the epistemological presupposition that the Bible is the source of truth. {Why do worldviews clash?}

A Christian shall consider the credibility of the Bible being it the infallible Word of God, but a real Christian shall also be able to point to the Divine Creator God and His possessions without having to need the Bible.

also seems to know only creationist or to classify Christians as creationists or people who would not believe in any form of evolution. He also calls his view modernist whilst the Hebrews already had his modernist view then. Perhaps he should come to know some present and ancient views of Bereshith or Genesis.

He writes:

So a complete philosophical system – a worldview – dictates what is real, how you know what is real and what to value about what is real. Without those agreements there is only flimsy basis for discussion.

If we think about the modernist worldview we have a different system. Metaphysically we have a universe that is composed of matter that has evolved to a complexity that gave rise to human beings and a mysterious property we call consciousness. Epistemologically we know what is true based on ‘logical positivism’ which means adhering to certain laws of logic applied to the evidence we gather through our senses. And the ethics of modernism revolves around the inherent goodness of progress. This is also a complete philosophical system.

It looks like he does think we Christians have no sense or “laws of logic” and that because we live by old “ethics of …..” wich would not be the same as his ethics of modernism even when he considers himself a post-modernists. Seemingly believing we as Christians can not have different views about matters, or would not have similar worldviews as certain philosophers.

He argues:

As postmodernists we recognize that there are different worldviews and we value that diversity. We also recognize that we can’t impose one worldview on another because they rest on different fundamental beliefs and each person has a right to believe as they wish as long as they don’t hurt one another.

We wonder where he gets it that Christians would not say that behaviourism is something that can be true.

The pragmatists were trying to find a way that takes us beyond the deadends of clashing worldviews when debating what is true. That is why they said that it was more useful to argue the truth of something by examining its effect. It isn’t that useful to debate, for instance, whether Behaviorism is true or not.

A Christian might say no because that is not the view that the Bible tells us. (This lets us wonder if he has ever read the Bible); A modernist might say yes because that is what the evidence proves. The question that is more useful to ask is what results from a belief in Behaviorism. Does it work? When does it work? Does it work in this instance and not in that? What results from materialism, what results from a belief in the soul, a belief in freewill, a belief in God? Everything can be examined based on Pragmatic grounds. {Why do worldviews clash?}

All the time man is bombarded in his mind with the question of what should he believe, or what is true or what is real. In his postings Carreira also argued that

if a philosophy dictates “what is real,” “how you determine what is real,” and “how you value what is real,” then it is a closed system. Internally it will be completely consistent, and as long as you “believe” in these three pillars everything (to lift a phrase from Carl) on the inside will look like non-fiction (ie. true) and everything on the outside will look like fiction (ie. not true.) {Test Drive a Worldview}

Carreira continues:

A worldview is not only a set of ideas or beliefs about the world; it is a complete psycho-emotional mental filter of the world. It is a 360 panoramic view of the real. Your worldview dictates how you think about the world, how you feel about the world and how you respond to the world. It envelops us so that the world from inside what worldview looks and feels completely different than the world seen from inside another. {Test Drive a Worldview}

We totally agree with his view that it is each individual his or her worldview which shall dictate how that person thinks and how he or she is going to react to certain matters.  How a person feels about the world and how he or she shall respond to the world depends firstly on the way that person looks at the world and secondly how that person his ethics and moral ideas are formed.

We do not need the the romantic poets, philosophers and scientists to see

a world of open and unlimited possibility in which strangely marvelous and unseen natural forces were guiding the movement of life. {Test Drive a Worldview}

Christians are aware of the many sometimes incomprehensible ways of nature. For him

These natural invisible movements were continuously revealing themselves and there was a sense of awe and wonder at the marvel of life and reality. {Test Drive a Worldview}

And that is just where we say is the Power of God. There, by the wonders of nature, man is able to come to see the invisible Hand of the Divine Creator.

Carreira has been thinking about how challenging philosophical discussion can be and he thinks that part of that difficulty comes about when we are not discussing ideas within a single worldview, but are actually clashing one worldview against another.

As I see it a worldview is a belief in a complete philosophical system. Discussing within a given philosophical system is easy, discussing across one system into another gets challenging. {The Trouble with Worldviews}

Is not that the nice challenging idea of our world where everyone may think freely?

William James believed that humanity had evolved beyond the point of absolute truth. We don’t know the absolute truth; we only know part of the truth and what that truth is, is always changing. For that reason truth had to be seen as evolving; utilized for as long as it worked in those circumstances in which it worked. He, along with his Pragmatist colleagues imagined a complete revisioning of all of philosophy based on Pragmatic grounds. {The Trouble with Worldviews}

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