"Being unable to cure death, wretchedness, and ignorance, men [and women] have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things." ~ Blaise Pascal, Pensees (133).
"Our lives are empty. We cannot face the vacuum. So we fill our lives up with junk, with trash, with refuse.... we divert ourselves from our real needs.... We invent little problems and hold them close, fixating on them to block us from seeing the bigger problems." ~ Thomas V. Moore, Making Sense of it All: Pascal and the Meaning of Life, pp. 32-33.
"The only good thing for men therefore is to be diverted from thinking of what they are, either by some occupation which takes their minds off it, or by some novel and agreeable passion which keeps them busy, like gambling, hunting, some absorbing show, in short by what is called diversion" ~ Blaise Pascal, Pensees (136).
| Philosophy |
"Opinions can be true or false. Opinions can be right or wrong. We all recognize this, I think. But think a moment, knowledge can't be false, knowledge can't be wrong. If something is knowledge it's impossible for it to be false knowledge or wrong knowledge." ~ Mortimer J. Adler, How to Think About Great Ideas, 14.
“Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.” ~ Thomas Aquinas
Kant's Understanding of Skepticism & Types of Imperatives: Section II
This outline is based upon Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), section II. The focus is on skepticism and his view of imperatives. In essence, Kant argues that skepticism is a result from the error of grounding certainty in the content of experience (where he believes it can't be found). Rather, certainty, for Kant, is "located" in the form of reason itself. Thus, moral laws are a priori (not derived from experience), necessary, and applicable to every rational being. Interestingly, he claims that it is the mind which orders our experience casually rather than the view that nature itself provides the causal order of our experience. Therefore, his work is primarily an examination into the nature of thought itself to show how we can have "certain" knowledge of both scientific facts and moral obligations. It is pivotal in understanding Western thought to see how he divorced reason from reality. What an impact his ideas made on theology!
Ethics of David Hume
This is a philosophical introduction into the ethics of David Hume. It is in powerpoint.
Chart On Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia.
This chart is a summary of some of the key elements of Professor Robert Nozick's infamous work, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, 1974 Basic Books edition. In this work on political philosophy, Nozick asserts that "Indviduals have rights, and there are things no person or group may do to them (without violating their rights). So strong and far-reaching are these rights that they raise the question of what, if anything, the state and its officials may do" (p. ix). He further states, that a "minimal state, limited to the narrow functions of protection against force, theft, fraud, enforcement of contracts, and so on, is justified; that any more extensive state will violate persons' rights not to be forced to do certain things, and is unjustified; and that the minimal state is inspiring as well as right. Two noteworthy implications are that the state may not use its coercive apparatus for the purpose of getting some citizens to aid others, or in order to prohibit activities to people for their own good or protection" (p. ix).
Chart on John Rawls' The Law of Peoples
This chart on John Rawls' The Law of Peoples focuses only on "The Law of Peoples" portion of the book. In other words it does not include his presentation, "The Idea of Public Reason Revisited." In this book Rawls extends the idea of a social contract to nations in the hopes of creating a "Society of Peoples" whereby "realistic" utopianism may be achieved and human rights universally secured. To this end he offers principles that should be accepted and applied by liberal and decent societies (well-ordered nations) and lawless (expansionists and aggressors), burdened (unfavorable conditions), and benevolent absolutists non-well ordered societies/nations may be motivated to consider and pursue. Unlike Nozick he promotes distributive justice.
Overview of Major Models of Ethics
This powerpoint presentation offers an overview of the following approaches in ethical theory: Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Social Contract Ethics, Utilitarianism, John S. Mill, David Hume, Rule Utilitarianism vs. Act Utilitarianism, Sir W.D. Ross' Intuitionism, Moral Realism, Moral Relativism, Care Ethics, F. Nietzsche, and John Rawls. The sections on Kant, Hume, and Rawls are extended examinations. To be sure, the advantages and objections listed are standard objections used in ethical theory; they are not necessarily ones I personally endorse. I am personally an Aretaic Graded Absolutist from the Reformed tradition. What I mean by "aretaic" is that I have integrated graded absolutism with Christian virtue ethics into a complimentary thesis in order to strengthen this Christian view. I believe the integration of virtue with obligation offers a more coherent, robust biblical notion on what it means to be follower of Jesus Christ. Read Norman Geisler's Christian Ethics for a general understanding of "graded absolutism."
How Graded Absolutism Can Be Virtuous
Here is a paper I gave on 15 November 2007 at the annual gathering of the Evangelical Theological Society in San Diego on integrating virtue theory with graded absolutism (deontological model) into a complementary thesis. It is in PDF.
"Aggregativity: Reductive Heuristics for Finding Emergence"
This is exclusively a summary outline of Dr. William C. Wimsatt's dense article, "Aggregativity: Reductive Heuristics for Finding Emergence." Though I totally disagree with his overall presuppositions (evolutionary perspective from a naturalistic worldview), because I believe in an infinite-personal God who is the Creator of all things, as clearly stated in Scripture and well argued by intelligent design theorists and scientific creationists, Dr. Wimsatt argues for the compatibility of reductionism and emergence. So, here is my attempt to understand his position which I had to prepare for my studies in the philosophy of science at Texas A&M University.
Ethics of Care vs. Ethics of Justice
This is a presentation of Carol Gilligan's work, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982, 1993) with the focus on chapter 2, "Images of Relationships." While I reject feministic thought in favor of a biblical view of anthropology, this is my attempt to understand her famous argument that generated a plethora of discussion called "Care Ethics." If you are interested in studying feminism from a biblical worldview, I recommend reading Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem and/or examining the outstanding resources from the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. CBMW's website is http://www.cbmw.org/. I also whole heartily recommend the video presentation by Elisabeth Elliot titled, "A Harmony of Differences: Real Men and Real Women." It is produced by Ligonier Ministries: The Teaching Fellowship of R.C. Sproul in Orlando, Florida. Call toll free at 1-800-435-4343. This presentation is in powerpoint.
This summary chart is concerned with Moral Realism and some of its various developments. It does not consider Non-Cognitive (i.e., ethical claims do not have truth-value) Prescriptivism (i.e., ethical terms do not ascribe properties and meaning is not factual. Rather, ethical terms signify universal prescriptions; they are existentially justified). It is in PDF.
Chart on R. Hursthouse's Virtue Ethics
This is a chart summarizing a significant portion of Rosalind Hursthouse's article, "Virtue Theory and Abortion." It is in PDF. While I absolutely and unilaterally disagree with her conditional argument for abortion, her response to objections made against virtue ethics are worth noting. In my judgment the best book to date against abortion is the recent work by Francis Beckwith, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice. It is published by Cambridge University Press (2007). Hursthouse article used for this chart is from Virtue Ethics: Oxford Readings in Philosophy, edited by Roger Crisp and Michael Slote (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 217-38.
How Graded Absolutism May be Virtuous
This is a revised outline from a presentation I recently gave exploring the advantages of integrating virtue theory with graded absolutism in what I term as Aretaic Graded Absolutism.
Simone de Beauvoir and Existentialism
This presentation is a brief introduction to existentialism in an effort to set the context for Simone de Beauvoir's Ethics of Ambiguity. It is in PDF.
Summary Notes on John Dewey
This sheet summarizes some of the aspects of Dewey's disagreement with earlier philosophy that confused true nature & function of knowledge. It is in PDF.
The Philosophical Fallacy
This is a summary of the 4 philosophical fallacies John Dewey observed in earlier philosophies (empirical and rational). It in PDF.
Overview of John Dewey's Philosophy
I'm particularly indebted to Gregory Pappas' work, John Dewey's Ethics: Democracy as Experience, and David Hildebrand's Dewey. Two outstanding works in understanding Dewey's contribution to philosophy. It is in PDF. Particular attention is given to his practical starting point, the nature of experience, ethics, aesthetics, and his criticism of traditional philosophy.
Chart on Epicureanism
This chart is an overview of Epicurean epistemology, metaphysics, & ethics. It is in PDF.
Aesthetics in Plato's Republic
This is a summary of some of the significant portions of Plato's notions and concerns of aesthetics in the Republic. This does not offer a comprehensive understanding of his view of aesthetics but a glimpse into what the Republic has to offer in this area as it relates to a well-ordered society. It also includes a very brief overview of his concept of "beauty", mainly drawn from the Symposium. It is in powerpoint.
This is an introduction to Aristotle's aesthetics. Largely drawn from the Poetics, we come to find out that Aristotle is a structural and textual critic of the Fine Arts. Believing that there is value to aesthetics, he offers a cogent reply to Plato's condemnation of the Fine Arts. Particular attention is given to Aristotle's notion of "mimesis" and "catharsis." It is in powerpoint.
Philosophical Aesthetics From Greek Antiquity
This introduction focuses on the objectivity and subjectivity of beauty in philosophical aesthetics from the Pythagoreans to Vitruvius the Roman architect and engineer. It is in powerpoint.
Monroe Beardsley: The Aesthetic Point of View
This is an outline of Monroe Beardsley's position regarding what is the aesthetic point of view. In essence, he contends that the aesthetic point of view is really aesthetic value. Thus, he asserts that "the aesthetic value of X is the value that X possesses in virtue of its capacity to provide aesthetic gratification when correctly and completely experienced" (pg. 230). It is in powerpoint.
Is Dewey Deconstructed?
This aesthetic paper answers the question why John Dewey is not a postmodernist. To be sure, I am not endorsing John Dewey's aesthetic system. I am only clarifying the fact that he was not a postmodernist as some have stated.
Here is a summary outline of David Hume's Aesthetics. It is in Word.
Aesthetics from the Analytic Tradition
This is a chart summarizing the 20th century ideas on what is art by three analytic aesthetic philosophers: Monroe Beardsley, George Dickie, and Arthur Danto.
Hume's Aesthetics & Ethics
A chart that offers a summarization and comparison of some of the central aspects of David Hume's aesthetics and ethics. It is in PDF.
This is an overview summary chart with criticisms. I believe Plantinga's version offers the best ontological proof for God's existence. It is in PDF.
Chart of Spinoza's Ethics
Here is an overview of Spinoza's Ethics. It is material largely adapted from the scholarship of Steven Nadler. It is in PDF.
Spinoza's View of God
Here is an outline of the some of the significant aspects of Spinoza's view of God in Ethics Part One. It is in PDF.
A Pascalian Critique of Rene Descartes
This is a collection of notes regarding Pascal and Descartes from my reading of Roger Hazelton's superb book, Blaise Pascal: The Genius of His Thought (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1974). It is in PDF.
Nominalism vs Realism
This chart is in PDF. It is adapted from J. P. Moreland & William Lane Craig's Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, 204-6. It is in PDF.
An overview of some of the themes in Guide of the Perplexed.
Moderate Realism (Thomistic Theory of Knowledge):
I'm indebted to Dr. Thomas Howe's very insightful studies on the nature of moderate Realism. His book, Objectivity in Biblical Interpretation is very helpful; it is a recommended read. The chart is in PDF.
What is Hume's Fork?
It is in PDF. This outline summarizes Hume's Fork (classical formulation) and introduces the Induction Problem.
"Christians today need a lot more courage and confidence that what they offer is true, reasonable, and critical for a wide range of issues at the center of the public square. For too long we have looked for ways to insert a word about Jesus into cultural discourse that is largely secular, and we often lack the courage needed to speak up about our views without coming off as defensive on the one hand and arrogant on the other....by understanding just how powerful and pervasive a Christian worldview is, we Christians can gain an attractive sort of confidence needed to bring honor to the Lord we love so much." ~ J. P. Moreland, Kingdom Triangle (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 39.