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KyaryPamyu

Any Fans Of Non-Aristotelian Western Philosophy?

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If anybody is interested in other philosophers or movements apart from Objectivism and Aristotelian philosophy, you are welcome to share your experiences here. What attracts you to those ideas? Do they influence your own thinking or philosophical positions? For the sake of the topic, these presentations need not necessarily point out the similarities/divergences with Objectivism.

My first encounter with philosophy was a long time ago in primary school. After scrambling in my aunt's book collection, I found a Romanian philosophy textbook from the communist era. It was full of pictures and it probably covered every major philosopher known at the time, from Thales to the moderns. Marx and Engels where the only ones that had full page photographs.

At the time I didn't understand much of what I was reading, but being a philosopher seemed like a really prestigious thing. Upon reading that the history of philosophy can be described as a duel between materialist and idealist points of view (as it's commonly taught by marxists), I promptly declared myself a materialist, because idealism struck me as an extraordinarily bizarre point of view. Nobody I knew subscribed to the primacy of consciousness view. (Objectivism is the only philosophy I know of that is not monist or pluralistic in some way, although there might be many others). My first encounter with the world transcendental was on the page about Immanuel Kant, and I quickly used it afterwards in a test paper at school (it was not a philosophy test, obviously). I didn't realy know what it meant, apart from reading the dictionary definition and considering it to be one of the coolest words in my vocabulary. After the grades were announced, the teacher asked me what transcendental means and, after I blurted out the dictionary definition, she said that she just wanted to make sure that I'm not using words without knowing what they mean.

Until about half an year ago, when I started to study Objectivism seriously and I read Atlas (I knew about Objectivism much earlier than that, and I read The Fountainhead three years ago), philosophy seemed to be no less pointless than religion. After all, with all the advances in science and psychology, what could philosophers possibly bring to the table? Objectivism provided interesting answers to this question, and I am sympathetic to a lot of Objectivist positions (most strongly in metaphysics). I also emphaticaly disagree with some points, from Rand's denial of human instincts all the way to her claim that Dali's paintings portray an 'evil metaphysics'.

Lately, I remembered about that old gang of philosophers who called themselves the Idealists and decided to see exactly what line of reasoning brought them to their philosophical claims. I'm not really interested in Kant since his version of idealism is nowhere as weird as that that of his succesors (he still believed in a noumenal world), but I do have a strong interest in Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. Even without believing much, if any, of their speculations, it's still fascinating as hell to read about their philosophy as a classical musician. Romantic classical music composers were inevitably inspired by the contemporary trends in German philosophy; Wagner was notably a follower of Schopenhauer, although S. is a bit too Kantian (and Buddhist) to grab my interest. Speaking of Buddhism, my first encounter with detailed information about it (meditation always fascinated me) was also in a communist book of my aunt's, titled Questions and Answers Pertaining to the Atheist Education of the Youth.

If I have to take something good out of German Idealism, it's definitely the enthusiastic, creative and imaginative spirit that was its trademark (and was also present in the arts). Apparently Fichte and Schelling were extremely charismatic teachers, managing the feat of being university teachers and superstars at the same time. Hegel was notorious for his classes, which people attended without understanding a single word of what he was saying. His system is absolutely gargantuan, and nobody since him attempted such a feat. His famous claim, 'The truth is the Whole' is quoted at the beginning of Leonard Prikoff's OPAR (systems were the big trend of German Idealism)

As much as I like Rand, I have to say that the whole Romantic Realism thing never appealed to me as strongly as the movements and genres that feature a great deal of fantasy, myth, even the supernatural. And I'm an earthly guy. It seems to me that this type of art does something that Romantic Realism does not: it's a concretized presentation of some of the more 'metaphysicaly adventurous' parts of ourselves: myths, the dream world, imagination, altered states of consciousness. It also inspires me to study the broader nature of consciousness, apart from its perceptual and reasoning faculties.

I leave you with this beautiful romantic painting, The Chancel and Crossing of Tintern Abbey, Looking Towards the East Window, by JMW Turner. Exploring the visual arts of the Romantic era is also on my current to do list.

tintern.jpg

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About 8 or 9 years ago I began to get interested in both the history and philosophy of science.  It just so happened that I was also reading Neil Stephenson's 8 volume fictional work, The Baroque Cycle, which was centered around the Newton Leibniz debate.  This lead to a greater appreciation of the two different directions that the English Protestant Reformation and the German Protestant Reformation took with regards to the roll of the State vs. the Individual.  One lead to the foundation of the United States by the Dissenting Protestants who refused to join the Anglican Church, and the other lead to the placing of almost all power into the hands of the States of the German Princes, in opposition to both the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire, which eventually lead to Marx, Kaiser Wilhelm the 2nd, Hitler and the Soviet Union.

It's also interesting to trace how these two divergent views had major impacts on both science, psychology and mathematics.

Edit:  You write wonderfully.  Is English your first language?  If not, what language do you read German Philosophy in?

Edited by New Buddha

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22 hours ago, New Buddha said:

Edit:  You write wonderfully.  Is English your first language?  If not, what language do you read German Philosophy in?

Thank you, New Buddha. English is my secondary language, but it's the one I use for thinking - a side effect of reading mostly English language material.

Since the works of the German Idealists are very long (and incomprehensible, even for native German speakers), I just browse around for summaries. Here is an outstanding source for learning about philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html 

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3 minutes ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Since the works of the German Idealists are very long (and incomprehensible, even for native German speakers), I just browse around for summaries. Here is an outstanding source for learning about philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html 

And I was hoping that they might make sense in German!  Karl Popper in his book The Open Society and it's Enemies give a pretty strong tongue lashing to German philosophers and the German language in general.  Despite Popper's faults, he can at least be understood.

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I forgot to add the most obvious, William James.  Not only is he insightful, but most of his essays were lectures to students (he was a professor at Harvard) and he not only presents his own ideas, but also critiques contemporary philosophers of the late 19th Century and others throughout the ages.

Edited by New Buddha

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I've been interested in Hume for a long time. He writes clearly, and he has a knack for finding strong, clear arguments for his positions, whether you agree with him or not. His system is also remarkably well integrated, and on many specific points he is correct (for example, his work on the epistemology of testimony).

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Valid philosophy has its purpose and it is limited.  I mention this because my response otherwise would be misleading.  Philosophy is not properly concerned with specifics of the special sciences or humanities or in fact any special aspect of knowledge.  Philosophical writings which err, by definition fall outside of correct philosophy which deals with knowledge of reality.  Incidentally (and I refuse to engage in any sort of argument with anyone here) I am of the view that no knowledge transcends true philosophy and I happen to believe that qua philosophy in its proper role, Objectivism is actually correct.

I am quite interested in the writings of Joseph Campbell and his ideas of Monomyth. I find interesting his connections between the psyche and various stories and myths which for millennia have been propagated generation to generation.  What's crucially interesting to me is his identification that myths are true in a metaphorical sense in what effect they have, what insight they provide for, the human psyche.  This is not properly philosophy although some may call it that.   I would place this somewhere in the special humanities between (or combining) art (literature), anthropology (culture and religion), and psychology.

As with everyone, Jo has an implicit metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics but most of his writings are much more narrow and hence not actually philosophical. To the extent he errs, he ironically serves as a useful example consistent with his own theories.  A myth is useful not because what it denotates is true but because of truths it tells us something about (what it is to be human) by what it connotates... this truth can be extended to Jo's own implicit philosophy although that itself is primarily expressed as symbolic of something like an "I know not what" and hence appears mostly itself metaphorical.

In a similar fashion, erroneous philosophies, their crazy speculations and flights of fancy, although they tell us nothing about reality, epistemology, ethics, politics, they do serve as useful insight into the human psyche.  Of course the level of insight varies but as metaphor, the ramblings of thinkers across the ages together are connotative in some aspect of the human condition/psyche.  

In this sense (connotative) all myths and philosophies reveal truths to be gleaned from them.

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In a similar fashion, erroneous philosophies, their crazy speculations and flights of fancy, although they tell us nothing about reality, epistemology, ethics, politics, they do serve as useful insight into the human psyche.  Of course the level of insight varies but as metaphor, the ramblings of thinkers across the ages together are connotative in some aspect of the human condition/psyche.

I note that this fits well with Rand's view that a philosophy is a record of the philosopher's psycho-epistemology.

Can you give some examples of Campbell's insights?

Edited by William O

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Wittgenstein ranks high in the Objectivist demonology, but Rand's readers might get a pleasant surprise from On Certainty. It mounts a polemic against hard-core skepticism and presents a theory something like Rand's ideas of contextual certainty.

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It's hard to say I'm a -fan- of non-Aristotelian philosophy (what makes something Aristotelian exactly?), but there is value I glean from those who don't make me think of it. I like to study Buddhism sometimes. Buddhism has good points to make as far as a path of moral action as a set of principles, epistemology as agent-oriented, and some good methods to perform introspection. The issue with Buddhism is that the agent-oriented epistemology goes too far, so that the ever present need to classify and think becomes human conceit or illusion.

I like Stoicism a lot, and Nietzsche - I consider both to be more Aristotelian than not. Some eastern philosophers are pretty Aristotelian, even Confucius a bit.

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15 hours ago, Reidy said:

Wittgenstein ranks high in the Objectivist demonology, but Rand's readers might get a pleasant surprise from On Certainty. It mounts a polemic against hard-core skepticism and presents a theory something like Rand's ideas of contextual certainty.

I haven't studied On Certainty that carefully, but this was not the impression I got from it at all. From what I understood, Wittgenstein was basically advocating a form of skepticism where you have a "world picture" that you arrive at uncritically and do not have evidence for, but which is so fundamental that you cannot coherently doubt it. That might sound vaguely like the Objectivist concept of contextual certainty, but it is actually a completely different approach.

Edited by William O

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11 hours ago, Eiuol said:

It's hard to say I'm a -fan- of non-Aristotelian philosophy (what makes something Aristotelian exactly?), but there is value I glean from those who don't make me think of it. I like to study Buddhism sometimes. Buddhism has good points to make as far as a path of moral action as a set of principles, epistemology as agent-oriented, and some good methods to perform introspection. The issue with Buddhism is that the agent-oriented epistemology goes too far, so that the ever present need to classify and think becomes human conceit or illusion.

I like Stoicism a lot, and Nietzsche - I consider both to be more Aristotelian than not. Some eastern philosophers are pretty Aristotelian, even Confucius a bit.

You think Nietzsche was more Aristotelian than not? That needs defending, I think.

I agree that Stoicism is useful, although of course you have to approach it critically.

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20 hours ago, William O said:

I note that this fits well with Rand's view that a philosophy is a record of the philosopher's psycho-epistemology.

Can you give some examples of Campbell's insights?

One specific insight (as an example that stories of myth and religion involve recurring themes directed at important aspects of human life) are the various devices and motifs used as a metaphor for growth and transformation.  Developing from an infant/child to an adult, shifting from a loner to a person in a relationship/marriage, becoming a parent, growing old, accepting death, all are very difficult transitions which require a sort of psychological reorientation sometimes on a heroic and fundamental level.  Jo observes many myths are about transformation in the abstract, while many deal with metaphors of the specifics types; stories which deal with aspects of a hero's adventure, re-birth, resurrection, change, etc. are about this sort of death and rebirth of the self, helping to teach and serving as a call to accepting and embracing change and growth in human life as part of the journey of an individual through the birth-life-death cycle.   Some stories deal with the opposite themes of stagnation, refusal to step outside ones comfort zone, being stuck so to speak, and these teach the same thing (negatively), that becoming closed and unmovable, and a refusal to grow in the face of challenges and changes which require it, is a refusal to live (and there are consequences).  Jo observes myths convey that life requires transformation, and that all are faced with it in some form or another (and the ancients, heroes and Gods have done so in spades) be brave, don't be afraid, hear the call of life.  The stories do so through connotation, in terms of their usefulness they are not to be taken literally, they serve as metaphors for the reader/listener and even if not consciously decoded, work on a subconscious level.

Again this is not philosophy proper.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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9 hours ago, William O said:

You think Nietzsche was more Aristotelian than not? That needs defending, I think.

I agree, it certainly is a controversial claim. For one, his epistemology is not Aristotelian at all. N had a little respect for Francis Bacon, but nothing substantial. N is more like Wittgenstein for epistemology.

Where N starts to look Aristotelian when it comes to aeshetics and ethics. Now, he certainly did not not believe in objective morality, but he loved to rank values. In particular, at least his higher rankings had to do with pursuing life for the agent's own end. He seemed to appreciate heroism in the ancient Greek and Roman world a great deal, for their life-focused attitudes and attention to personal growth. Even more, aesthetics was interesting to him as far as glorification, and a person's attitude reflects their psychology and way of thinking. This is what Aristotle may think of as the habits one forms.

Aristotle appreciated drama, and N had a lot to say about how art reflects a manner of thinking. That is, for N specifically, the art one makes is a matter of the sort of "lies" one wants to tell about the world. That's not a similarity - the similarity here is the attention to drama and art rests on his analysis and beliefs of how people think. Aristotle believed people sought art for the ideals it can show, meaning psychology and epistemology were important for the purpose for art. It was a while since I read Poetics, though.

N had more in common with Greeks and Romans than any of his contemporaries.

EDIT: Joseph Campbell's Wikipedia page mentions that he cites N a lot. The value SL sees in Campbell is similar to the value I see in Campbell. The crossover here seems interesting, although it's also why I'd say he too was more Aristotelian than not. :P

Edited by Eiuol

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