Essay // Philosophy Review: “The World as Will and Idea”, by Arthur Schopenhauer (1818)

Schopenhauer et Nietzsche

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) & Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)

Schopenhauer, a pessimistic philosopher, focused on the dark side of life and mental evils and cruelty, which he considered inevitable and that we as psychologists, intellectuals and masters of the mind view as mental disorders that have a negative effect on both the character of the affected and the human environment at large exposed to the vile side of human nature.

This negative view of man’s behaviour and role in life was a sharp contrast to the other more euphoric philosophers who marked the spirits of the generation before him, and who embraced a more idealistic and perhaps a slightly exaggerated euphoric side of man’s mind and character. Though Schopenhauer’s work originally gained little attention at the time it was published [perhaps being too avant-garde for the atavistic institutions of his time], he expressed an interpretation of the world that was dragging and opposed the great ideal of who went before him, such as Victor Schelling and Hegel on some very important points but did not deny expressions of art such as the romantic movement in its various forms.

Schopenhauer who never refrained from publicly criticising people and ideas he disliked was very vocal in his complete contempt for these men, and regarded himself as their great opponent in the ring of the leaders delivering the “Real truth” to mankind and civilisation. Schopenhauer’s work in many ways could be viewed as an extension of another famous German philosopher, namely Immanuel Kant, who preceded him by one generation, delivering his major philosophical work, “a critique of pure reason”. Schopenhauer worked out a system in which reality is known inwardly by a kind of feeling where intellect is only an instrument of the will: the biological will to live and where process rather than result is ultimate.

Schopenhauer’s pessimism lies in his very strong rejection of life. In fact, this rejection is so strong that he even had to address the question of suicide as a solution to life. He fortunately also rejected this “solution” to life, this rejection to life reflected influences with roots in Eastern philosophy, particularly Buddhism, and it is one of the most significant aspects of his work that he was the first Western philosopher to integrate Buddhist thought into Western philosophy. His preoccupation with the evil of the world and the tragedy of life was also somewhat reminiscent of ancient Hindu philosophies. His writings helped to stimulate in Germany an interest in Oriental thought and religion, which can also be seen in the work of many later German philosophers.

In “The World as Will and Idea”, Schopenhauer also considered the important question of the function of art. The value of arts to human life in far more depth than any of his predecessors, and even graded each of the arts, such as music, poetry, architecture [etc], from most important to least important. For that reason, his book had not only a profound effect on future philosophers, but also artists, particularly poets and composers, such as the enigmatic Wagner, who felt indebted to him and sent him a letter of gratitude when he was first introduced to Schopenhauer’s work.

Tristan und Isolde (John Duncan 1912 Symbolism)

Image: Tristan and Isolde (1912) by John Duncan

It is believed that Wagner’s popular opera “Tristan und Isolde” in particular, shows Schopenhauer’s influence as a philosopher who believed that music was the highest form of art, an idea that of course, Wagner found pleasing and so the composer began to think of himself as a prime example of Schopenhauer concept of a genius. People in other fields of the arts were also influenced by Schopenhauer, including the novelist Thomas Mann. Schopenhauer’s ideas had the unique ability to influence not only philosophy but many other fields of human endeavour and expression. Within philosophy itself, Schopenhauer never founded a school of thought “per se”, but his influence instead was in stimulating other philosophers towards a particular line of thought, which varied with the individual and his or her response to Schopenhauer’s writing. His writing had a major impact on the German philosopher Nietzsche, who was also a friend of Schopenhauer’s admirer, Richard Wagner. Nietzsche shared the idea that life is tragic and terrible but can sometimes be transformed through art. Nietzsche was also the man famous,for his concept of the Ubermensch “Superman”, which later helped to inspire the German National Socialist movement and eventually the founding pillars of the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler.

The Apollo Belvedere (Ancient Sculpture) - Vatican Museum - Roma

Image: Apollo Belvedere (Sculpture Ancienne), Musée du Vatican, Rome

So, these three names Schopenhauer, Wagner and Nietzsche are often linked and are also associated at times, through no fault of the men themselves with a dark period of human history.

“The world is Will and Idea” begins with the famous line, “The world is my idea” when Schopenhauer says the world is his idea, he is referring to the relationship between an “object” and “the subject” [i.e. The person who sees or senses the object]. As an example, he did not mean that an apple is identical with your abstract concept of an Apple, he means that the apple as perceived by you exist only in relation to you as a person or “the subject” who perceives it. Its reality is only in what you perceive, it is what you perceive it to be so.

So, the world is my idea means that a whole visible world and its sum of total experience is “object” for a “subject”, its reality consists in appearing to be perceived by a subject. This theory of the world of idea was taken and developed from Kant’s philosophy, but the second part of Schopenhauer’s philosophy “The World as Will” is completely his own and expresses his very unique interpretation of human life. Briefly, this interpretation says that the will, « the will to survive and live » is the strongest force in man and everything else is subordinate to it. His conception of the supreme wisdom of life is one of resignation to the power this “will” has and the tragic results of it.

Arthur Schopenhauer was born on February 22nd of 1788 in Danzig, Germany. His father was a wealthy merchant and banker who hoped his son would follow in his steps. He was also an independent minded man who moved his family from the city of Danzig when it was taken over by Prussia in 1793. The new family home was in Hamburg. Schopenhauer left to visit England and other countries, on the understanding that when he completed his tour, he would begin work in a business. Schopenhauer, then 16 years old, kept his promise but he had no attraction to business and when his father died, he got consent from his mother to continue his studies. In 1809, he entered the University of Göttingen to study medicine, but he changed to philosophy in his second year, as he put it “life is a problem and he decided to spend his life contemplating it”. He also studied at Weimar where he lived with his mother until he became estranged from her.

Schopenhauer had a moody, irritable temperament and could be violent in his passion. At the university, Schopenhauer developed an affection for Plato and visited Berlin to hear the lectures of contemporary philosophers Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762 – 1814) and Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768 – 1834). Fichte was the first transcendentalist idealist and Schleiermacher was a founder of modern Protestant theology. Schopenhauer found Fichte’s comment, “No one could be a true philosopher without being religious” absurd and retorted that no man who was religious turns to philosophy since they have no need for it [a questionable statement when religion (e.g. Christianity) does not cover all the aspects of the experience of life in detail, or study God’s works methodically through the lens of science and rationality, to understand the further implications in the betterment of the human world].

Rodin - Hands (Musee Rodin, Paris)

Image: « Les Mains » par Auguste Rodin

Schopenhauer left Berlin when Prussia rebelled against Napoleon. He never developed strong German patriotic values and sentiments [perhaps never given a chance or a reason or support to do so at the time], and always regarded himself more as a cosmopolitan without any strong national affiliation. He went into retirement to write his first dissertation called “On the fourfold route of the principle of sufficient reason”, which was published in 1813 and earned him a doctorate at Vienna. The poet Goethe congratulated Schopenhauer, and in return he wrote an essay called « On Vision and Colours » which supported Goethe in his stand against Isaac Newton. But the dissertation, although it won the admiration of Goethe, went practically unnoticed. The author however always considered it the groundwork and essential introduction to his philosophy. Shortly after he published his dissertation, Schopenhauer met an Oriental scholar, Friedrich Majer (1771 – 1818), who introduced him to Indian philosophy and literature. He maintained an interest in Indian philosophy throughout his life, and as an old man, he meditated on the Upanishad, part of the Vedas [the sacred script of the Hindus]. He would later associate his theory of the world of ideas with the Indian doctrine of Maya [to the Indians, Maya is illusion or the world as an illusion]. To Schopenhauer, this meant that the individual subject and object he wrote were “Maya”, all at the end.

For 4 years between 1814 and 1818, Schopenhauer lived in Dresden, which is where he wrote his masterpiece “The World as Will and Idea”. He sent the manuscript to his publishers and left for an art tour of Italy. The book was published the following year in 1819, and although it received attention from some philosophers, it sold very few copies. This was a disappointment to the author who felt sure it contains the secret of the universe.

This failure did not kill his eagerness however, so he returned to Berlin and started lecturing. By now he was 32 years old. He deliberately scheduled his lectures for the hour at which the philosopher Hegel was also accustomed to lecture – planning to compete with the master. But his lecturing career was a failure and Schopenhauer gave it up after only one semester. His ideas seemed at odds with the dominant spirit of the time.

Dolly_the_Sheep

Schopenhauer roamed around a bit and then settled in Frankfurt in 1833, he read European literature and scientific books and journals looking for illustrations or confirmations of his theories. He frequented the theatre and also continued writing, publishing on the Will of nature and winning a Norwegian prize for an essay on freedom. He failed to win a similar prize from the Royal Danish Academy of the Sciences for a separate essay on ethics. The Academy disapproved of his disparaging remarks about other philosophers. These two essays were later published together in 1841, under the title “The two fundamental problems of Ethics”.

In 1844, Schopenhauer published a second edition of “The world as Will and Idea”, which contained 50 new chapters. In the Preface, he took the opportunity to make a strong statement of his views about university professors of philosophy, which were of course not admiring. In 1848 there was an unsuccessful revolution in Germany. A revolution from which Schopenhauer had no sympathy whatsoever. But after the failure of this revolt, people were more willing to consider a philosophy which emphasised the evil in the world in which preached the rejection of life for the route of contemplation. Schopenhauer’s popularity was on the rise. In 1851, he published a collection of essays that dealt with a wide variety of topics, and finally in 1859, he published third edition of the “World as Will and Idea” with more supplements. In the last decade of his life, the author finally became a famous man, all kinds of visitors with all kinds of philosophies came to see him and to enjoy his brilliant conversations. Lectures were given on his system at the University, the very university he has attacked, a sure indication that he had finally achieved success. Schopenhauer has spent a long, lonely life of reflection and only after his works were ignored for many years that he attained fame and reputation. He died in September 1860, at the age of 72.

Schopenhauer by Mitch Francis

Image: Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) by Mitch Francis

As a man, Schopenhauer was cultured, broadly educated, eloquent and articulate, witty and conversational, and a very talented writer, but he was also opinionated, egotistical, and often quarrelsome. His remarks about other philosophers were assaulted and his remarks about women in general were so scathing that they had to be deleted from his book by his editor. He was obsessed with the suffering of humanity, but did nothing to alleviate it. He himself made the comment that it is no more necessary for a philosopher to be a saint than it is for a saint to be a philosopher, and he never tried to prove otherwise. But, in the final analysis he was exactly the man he needed to be to write what he wrote. His pessimistic and grim interpretation of life are not very likely to have come from a man of infallible kindness or tolerance, and that interpretation of life played a significant role in the development of human thought and philosophy by inspiring both similar and opposing viewpoints which forced humanity to re-examine itself yet again.

 

Now is a summary of the text of “The World as Will and Idea

The world is my idea. This truth applies to everything that lives and knows, but only man can reflect on it and bring his abstract consciousness to it. It becomes clear to him when he looks at the sun that what he knows is not a sun, but an eye that sees the sun, not a nurse but a hand that feels the earth. This truth is by no means new, it was a fundamental text of the Vedanta philosophy of the Hindus, it was also part of the reflections of the French philosopher René Descartes and finally it was also clarified by the philosopher George Berkeley – although neglected by Kant. But this view of the world as idea is one-sided and must be balanced by another one which is the impressive and awful truth that the world is my “Will”. The world has necessary hands, the subject and object. The object and the subject that perceives it operate together. If one were to disappear, then the whole world would cease to exist. All objects have universal forms and either space, time and causality or the relation of cause and effect as Kant has demonstrated, they may be discovered and known apart from the objects in which they appear, as an expression of reason or the principle of sufficient reason. But what if our whole life is but a dream, or how do we distinguish between dream and reality? Kant tried to answer this question by stating that the connection of ideas, according to the law of causality, constitute the difference between them. But the long life dream in distinction from our short dreams has always had complete connection, according to the principle of sufficient reason. We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

Life and dreams are leaves of the same book, the book we read through and the one whose leaves we turn idly to read a page here and there. Any system of philosophy that starts with the object has to deal with the whole world of perception, the most consistent form of these philosophies is simple materialism. It regards time and space and matter as existing absolutely. It ignores the relationship to the subject in whom these ideas exist, then it takes a law of causality as its guiding principle: causality exists by understanding alone. Materialism seeks the most simple states of matter and then tries to develop all other states from it. It ascends from mere mechanism and chemistry: the chemical properties and attractions of objects. It ascends to vegetable and animal life, to sensibility and thought. But, the thoughts and knowledge reached through materialism in a long, laborious process, assumed from its starting point that there was a subject or perceived matter: eyes that side, hands that felt it and understanding that knew it.

This system of philosophy which opposes this materialism is idealism, which instead starts with the subject and then tries to derive or reach the object from the subject, but it overlooked the fact that there can be no subject without an object, like materialism this idealism begins by assuming what it is supposed to prove later. The method of Schopenhauer’s system is different from both of these, for it starts from neither object nor subject, it starts from the idea. The idea is the first form of consciousness and its essential form is the antithesis or opposite of subject and object. For each one of us it is our own body that is the starting point in our perception of the world and we consider it like all other real object simply as an idea, the understanding which develops ideas could never come into being if there were no simple bodily sensations from which to start. If the thinker were no more than a pure knowing subject without a body like a winged cherub that is all spirit, he would not be able to know the nature of the world. He would be like a man going around a castle getting to its façade and trying in vain to enter it, all reality would be a riddle, but because the subject of knowledge is also an individual with a body and a bodily nature, the world becomes revealed, it is revealed in the will. Every true act of the will is a movement of the body for the action of the body is nothing but will express through an object. The body is the object, my body and my will are one. The double knowledge which each one has of his body out of idea and inner will becomes the key to the nature of the world. Phenomenal existence, the existence we perceive with our senses, is an idea and nothing more. Real existence or the thing in itself is will.

die welt als wille und vorstellung

Will is a term that applies to both the highest and lowest in man’s nature, it is that which drives us to pursue the light of knowledge and it’s also that which in nature strives blindly and dumbly to survive. Both come under the common name of will, just as the first dim light of dawn in the rays of the full midday are both called sunlight. If we consider the impulse with which waters hurries to the ocean, or the way in which a magnet turns to the North Pole, or the eagerness with which electric poles seek to be united or the way a Crystal takes form, we can recognise our own nature, for the name will describes the inner nature of everything that is in the world. The world as will is one, it knows nothing of the multiplicity of things in the outer world: the world of perception, the world of time and space. Notions like more or less, don’t exist to it, it knows nothing of quantities or qualities. For this reason, it cannot be said that there is a small part of the will in a stone or a large part of the will in a man. Relations like this between part and whole belong to the idea of space which does not apply to the will. In reality, the will is present in its entirety and undivided in every object of nature and in every living thing. Yet in terms of its objectification, that is, its external expression, it has different grades in inorganic matter, in vegetation, in animals and in man. The lowest of these appear in the most universal forces of nature, in the form of gravity, rigidity, elasticity, electricity and the like, which are in themselves manifestations of the will, just as much as human actions are. The higher grades are seen in man where the will takes the form of individuality and consciousness. It is here that the will shows its second side. For in the human brain lies the potential of comprehending the will, so that as it is kindled by a spark it brings the whole world as idea into existence. In this manner, knowledge proceeds from the will, knowledge that is either from the senses or is rational and is destined to serve the will in its aim of expressing itself. In all beasts and in most men, knowledge remains in subjugation to the will, yet in certain individual men, knowledge can free itself from this bondage so the subject of knowledge exists for itself as a pure mirror of the world. As a rule, knowledge remains subordinate to the will and grows on the will [so to speak] as a head on the body. In the case of the beast, the head is directed towards the Earth where the objects of its will are. But in the case of man, the head is elevated and set freely upon the body as in the Apollo Belvedere where the head of the guard stands so freely on his shoulders that it seems delivered of the body and no longer subject to it.

The transition from the individual’s knowledge of particular things to the knowledge of the idea takes place suddenly. It happens when the knowledge of the will changes someone into a pure will-less subject of knowledge, contemplating things as they are in themselves. If raised by the power of the mind, a man leaves the common way of looking at things behind and forgets both his individuality and his will, then he becomes a pure “without will” timeless and painless subject of knowledge – this appears in the genius. For when Genius appears in a man a far larger amount of the power of knowledge comes to him than is necessary for the service of his will. This extra knowledge is free and purified from will: a clear mirror of the inner nature of the world. All willing arises from want. The satisfaction of a desire ends it, but for one wish that is satisfied, there remain 10 which are denied. No attained object of desire can give lasting satisfaction, for it is likely alms thrown to a beggar that keep him alive today that misery may be prolonged tomorrow.

Attending to the demands of the will, continually occupies and influences our consciousness. But when we are lifted out of the endless stream of willing, we can comprehend things free from their relation to our will without any personal interest or subjective opinions, and then the peace we have been seeking comes of our own accord. For we are, at least for the moment, set free from the miserable striving of the will – the wheel stands still. There is no more slavery to the will. It is the function of the fine arts to express this freedom from will or the different grades along the way. Matter as such cannot be an expression of the idea but when it is express through an art like architecture, its characteristics of gravity, cohesion and hardness, the universal qualities of stone appear as a direct but low grade of the objectified or expressed will. In the building nature reveals itself a conflict between the gravity of the building and the rigidity of the structure of the support, as in the simplest form of a column. The problem of architecture, apart from practical utility, is to make this conflict appear in a distinct way so that the building material instead of a mere heap of matter bound to the earth is raised above it, so that the roof example is realised only by the means of the columns or arches which support it. The pleasure that comes from looking at a beautiful building lies in the fact that the viewer is set free from the knowledge which serves the will and is raised to the kind of knowledge which comes from contemplation that has no will.

Woman and Man Roman Sculpture

The highest grade of the expression of the will is found in anything that reflects human beauty in a way which reveals the idea of man. No object transports us so quickly into will-less contemplation as the most beautiful human form. We know human beauty when we see it, but true artists can express it so clearly that it surpasses even what we have seen. In the genius of a sculptor, we find a representation of what nature intended to express, so that if you were to present his statue to nature, he would say “This is what you wanted to say!”

danaide-le-baiser-par-auguste-rodin

Image: « Danaide » & « Le Baiser » par Auguste Rodin

Painting as an art has character as well as beauty and grace for its object, for it attempts to represent the will of the highest grade in the idea of humanity. This, however, can be an abstract form of the concept known as the picture attempt [as it does at times an allegorical painting] to represent something other than what is perceived. In poetry the relationship is reversed, for here what is given directly in words is the concept that leads readers away to the object of perception, this is done through metaphors, similes, parables, allegories and the like. The aim of all poetry is the representation of man. When it is a representation of the poet himself, we have the lyric. The lyric poet reveals himself in joy or more often grief as the subject of his own will, but along with this as the sight of nature impresses him, there is the awareness of himself as the subject of pure will-less knowing, and his joy now appears as a contrast to the stress of desire: desire imposed on him by his will. Epic poetry portrays man in a more historical context in connection with significant situations in human life. Drama in the form of tragedy is not only the best of poetic art, but the most significant in terms of this system of philosophy because it is the strife of the will represented at its highest grade of objectivity, it becomes visible in human suffering that is brought about by fate or error or wickedness, in which the will lives on while people fight against and destroy one another. The tragic effect in poetry may be produced by means of a character of extraordinary evil such as Iago in Othello or Creon in Antigone or by blind fate is in the Oedipus Rex of Sophocles or by circumstance and the situation in which the character finds himself such as Hamlet. In the tragic character we can observe how the noblest of men – after a long personal conflict and inward suffering – come at last to renounce the pleasures of life and the particular goals once so keenly fought for, instead the character joyfully surrenders to life itself. It is in this sense that Hamlet renounces life for himself but askes Horatio to remain a while and to – in this harsh world – draw his breath in pain to tell Hamlet’s story and clear his name.

Shakespeare's Hamlet Tragedy

Beginning with architecture in which gravity and rigidity reveal the lowest grade of the conflict of the will with itself and ending with tragedy where this conflict reaches its highest grade, we have considered the arts and how they represent the will and the idea, but music stands quite alone, cut off from all the other arts, since it’s not a mere copy of any idea of existence in the world. Music is as direct an expression of the whole will as the world itself is. Nature and music are two different expressions of the same thing, and so music speaks a universal language. In the deepest tones of harmony in the bass we recognise the lowest grades of the will, for bass is in harmony with the crudest matter on which all things rest and from which they originate. The higher complimental parts of music are parallel with animal life and in the melody of high voice singing we recognise the high grade of the will in the effort and intellectual life of man. The pleasure we received from beauty, the consolation we get from art and the enthusiasm of the artist, rest on the fact that whereas existence in the world is something sorrowful and terrible, the contemplation of the world as idea is both soothing and significant. But in the case of the artist, the contemplation of beauty doesn’t quiet the will and it doesn’t provide a pathway out of life as does the resignation of the saint. The deliverance from the will only occurs when – tired of the game – one renounces life and gets a grasp on what is real. When the will – this blind and incessant impulse of nature – becomes conscious in man, it is recognised as the will to live. Man may affirm or deny it. He affirms the will to live when – having seen it as that which has produced nature and his own life – he then adds his own desires to it. The denial of the will to live occurs when the awareness or consciousness of it means the end of desire. The phenomena of the world – that what we see and perceive – no longer motivates the will, for the comprehension of the world as idea has freed the will and allowed it to be silent. It the essential nature of the will – nowhere free and everywhere powerful – to strive endlessly towards satisfaction that it is incapable of getting. Just as in nature, gravitation is the ceaseless striving towards a mathematical centre and this striving will not stop even if the whole universe were rolled into a single ball. In the same way the solid will become a fluid, the fluid will become a gas, and the plant – restless and unsatisfied – will strive through ascending forms until it goes to seed where it finds a new starting point.

All nature is a struggle in which war is waged that is deadly to both sides. All striving is in vain, and yet it cannot be abandoned and all this is identical to what appears in us. In us, the blind striving of nature becomes the will to live, but it is self-conscious will: we are aware of it! The fate of this will is in keeping with its striving nature in the face of constant obstacles and hindrances, and anyone who will consider the character and destiny of the will to live, will be convinced that suffering is essential to all life.

Ad Augusta Per Angusta

Translation (EN): « Has grandiose results by narrow lanes » / Source: Le Petit Larousse 2018 / Les locutions étrangères gravées dans nos mémoires ont la magie des formules oubliées dont le charme va croissant lorsque l’alchimie des mots nous est plus mystérieuses. Elles ont l’autorité de la chose écrite. / Mot de passe des conjurés au quatrième acte d’Hernani, de Victor Hugo. On n’arrive au triomphe qu’en surmontant maintes épreuves.

From where then did Dante take the materials for his hell? From the world! And when it came to describing the delights of heaven he had an insurmountable task, for the world could offer him no proper material. The fatal assertion of the will to live has produced man’s body and the desire to preserve and perpetuate it. So the assertion of the will is really the assertion of the body. In such assertion, we find the source of all egoism and all wrongdoing, but such selfhood is really an illusion due to a false philosophy in which the individual imagines he lives to himself alone. He is really only a product of the one will to live. Just as a sailor sitting in a boat trusting to his frail barque in a stormy sea, so it is that in the world of sorrows man sits quietly, trusting to the principle of individualisation and separateness, in which he only knows things superficially or as they appear to him, but when he comes to understand that the one will to live exists in all men alike, he realises that the difference between those that inflict suffering and those that bare it is only a perceived difference that is not real. In truth, the evil man is like a wild beast, who frenzied and excited, unintentionally buries its teeth in its own flesh, injuring itself as it tries to injure another. But no matter how veiled and evil man is by illusion, he still feels the sting of conscience, which creates a sense that the gulf which seems to separate him from others isn’t real. As all hatred and wickedness rely upon egoism and as egoism rest on the assertion of the will to live, so do all goodness and virtue spring from the denial of the will to live. The will turns around and no longer asserts itself but denies its own nature instead. Man then denies his own nature as expressed in his body and no longer desires sensual gratification under any condition. Voluntary and complete chastity is the first step in the denial of the will to live. But then the human race would die out, and with it the mind in which the world is reflected, and without a subject of knowledge, there would be no object, there would be no world. To those in whom the will to live has turned and denied itself, this world of ours with all its sun and milky ways is nothing [dead inside].

 

These are some of the ideas and the basic themes presented in Schopenhauer’s “The world as Will and Idea”, a very lengthy work that of course includes many other ideas and elaborations of the ones we have mentioned. But the essence of Schopenhauer’s philosophy can be found in a few basic point.

 

To begin with, he sees the will of man, and specifically the will to survive as the dominant force in the universe and slavery to this will is the root of all evil. Man and all other creatures are subservient to their will to live. In exercising his will, man inflicts all kinds of cruelties and evil. Schopenhauer first examined these cruelties in the world of nature, spending a lot of time on the way in which animals of one species prey on those of another. Then he moved onto man and says, “the chief source of the most serious evils which afflict man is man himself”. Whoever keeps this last fact clearly in view sees the world as a hell which surpasses that of Dante, through the fact that one man must be the devil of another. Schopenhauer uses war and various other cruelties such as industrial exploitation, bravery and social abuses to back up his claim. Schopenhauer had no sympathy for the revolution of his time because he felt the state was justified, exactly because of the cruelty of man. It existed to make the world a little more bearable than it would otherwise be. He did not consider the state government divine, but he considered it necessary [a view he may have been willing to revise had he been alive in 2018 with democracy falling apart and not being properly applied, leading to evil, unethical, unscrupulous and unskilled street politicians getting into positions above their understanding].

Schopenhauer believed we can do something to alleviate suffering but it is pointless to think that we can change the fundamental character of the world or of human life. If war was abolished for instance and if all of men’s material needs were met, they would eventually still resort to conflict – “it is their nature”. He is quick to condemn the optimism or idealism of other philosophers who disregard the dark side of human existence, or who try to justify it as rational. To Schopenhauer these dark aspects of life were not secondary feature, they were the most significant aspects of human life in history. On this basis, he created his theory of The Blind and Striving Impulse, he called the Will. Then, he looked around and found support for his theory in the inorganic, organic and human phenomena of life.

Unquestionably, Schopenhauer held a one-sided vision of the world, but because of its one-sidedness and exaggeration it served as a counterbalance to philosophers like Hagel who focused attention on the glorious triumph of reason throughout history and he tended to dismiss evil and suffering with elaborate, evasive, phrasing. Schopenhauer did offer 2 ways of escape from the slavery to the will. One was the path of contemplation, which is the way of art and the other was the path of asceticism, of renouncing the world in one’s personal desires or will. He did believe that the human mind could develop beyond what was required just to satisfy his physical and material needs, it could develop a surplus of energy over and above what was needed to fulfil its biological function. When that happened, man can use the extra energy to escape the life of desire and striving, of assertion of the ego, of conflict, none of which brings him satisfaction anyway. In transcending the Will through art [expressing it with insight], Schopenhauer was very specific about which art forms served what purpose, and in defining which were superior to others. Not surprisingly, the the supreme poetic art is tragedy, for tragedy reveals the real character of human life expressed in dramatic form or as he said the unspeakable pain: the wail of humanity, the triumph of evil, the mocking mastery of chance and the irretrievable fall of the just and innocent. But art and contemplation, besides reflecting on the evil of life, can also open a door that becomes perhaps the only hopeful point in Schopenhauer’s entire book. This door is opened when man can see through the veil of Maya. Maya, being the Hindu concept for the illusionary nature of the world and life. It is Maya that causes to see separateness and division where there is none, but Schopenhauer also believed that man had the intellectual capacity to develop gradually a site that penetrated Maya, and raised some questions that made even a glimmer of hope seem a little bright. What is the purpose of achieving such virtue? What happens afterward?

To start with, the man who denies the Will treats the world as nothing, for the world is just the appearance of the will, which he denied. So it is true that when the will denies itself, our world with all its sun and Milky ways is nothing as Schopenhauer said, then what happens at death? Schopenhauer is convinced of the finality of death. “Before us”, he says “there is indeed only nothingness”. Death or the withdrawal from the world means the extinction of consciousness, In life, he reduces existence to thin thread, and at death, it is finally destroyed. The man who denies his will to live reaches the final goal, which is to not live. Schopenhauer does leave one last hope beyond the grim disappearance of consciousness and of the world, admitting that it is possible that ultimate reality, which he called the thing in itself may possess attributes that we do not know about and that we cannot know. This reality would not be a state of knowledge since there would not be a subject and an object, that phenomenal and illusionary relationship that is required for knowledge, but it might resemble some experience that cannot be communicated and to which mystics refer to, but only in obscure vague ways. So, in the end like all great philosophers must, Arthur Schopenhauer admitted that he did not have all the answers but he thought he had some, and ultimately it is the questions his answers posed to others that became his most significant contribution, for the role of the philosopher and of philosophy itself is not only to solve our problems, but also to express points of views that stimulate us to further thought and consideration on human nature and the meaning of life, in that, he was incredibly successful.

Schopenhauer sur Le Style

« Style is the physiognomy of the mind. It is a more reliable key to character than the physiognomy of the body. » – Arthur Schopenhauer

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24.08.2018 | Danny J. D’Purb | DPURB.com

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Essay // History on Western Philosophy, Religious cultures, Science, Medicine & Secularisation

essayhistory2016

Part I: Western Philosophy

The fact that philosophy’s focus has never remained static over time makes its history very complex with the added possibility that most of the early writers may have even been philosophers before historians. The world’s main philosophical trends and traditions can however be traced with a decent amount of precision while considering that the ruling philosophy of any period is determined by the socio-cultural climate and economic context [when it was written and published].

The first Western philosophers, starting with Thales of Miletus (c.620-c.555BC), were cosmologists who made inquiries about the nature and origin of all things; what defined them particularly as a new type of thinkers was that their speculations unlike those before them were purely naturalistic and not based on or guided by myth or legend. The traditions of Western philosophy originates around the Aegean Sea and southern Italy in the 6c BC in the Greek-speaking region which saw its philosophical traditions and teachings blossom with Plato (c.428-c.348BC) and Aristotle (384-322BC), who have remained highly influential in Western thought, and who probed virtually all areas of knowledge; no distinction separated theology, philosophy and science then.

As the centuries came, Christianity grew as a major religious and socio-cultural force in Europe (2-5c), and apologists such as Augustine de Hippo (354-430) started to synthesise the Christian world-view with ancient philosophy, a tradition that continued with St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and throughout the Middle Ages.

As the 16c and the 17c were the years that experienced the Scientific Revolution, the physical sciences started to assert their authority as a field of their own and grow separate from theology and philosophy. A new age of Rationalist philosophers, notably Descartes (1596-1650) started their works based on the minute analysis and interpretation of the philosophical implications of the ground-breaking new scientific discoveries and knowledge of the time. The 18c produced the empiricist school of thought of John Locke and David Hume (1711-1776) in the search for the foundations of knowledge, to conclude the turn of the century with Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) who developed a strong synthesis of rationalism and empiricism as a school of philosophy. Further, the development of positivist philosophy in the 19c was inspired and based solely on the scientific method and American pragmatism [with the competing philosophy of Utilitarianism and Marxism]. Later, the individual experienced the philosophy of existentialism based on the works of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and in the 20c the discipline of psychology had firmly invented itself as a field separate from philosophy [including many branches such as neuroscience, psychiatry, psycho-analysis, etc].

 

The 20c and Western Philosophy’s influence across civilisation

Perhaps due to its wide use in maintaining reason among intellectuals and society, philosophy had fragmented into different precise and specific branches by the 20c [philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, philosophy of medicine…]. However at its core, the emphasis of philosophy remained on the analytics and linguistic philosophy due to the huge influence of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951).

Indian philosophy for example shares similarities with some aspects of Western philosophy in its foundations based on the development of logic from the Nyaya School, founded by Gautama (fl. 1c). The tenet of most schools were codified into short aphorisms (sutras) commented upon by later philosophers in the Southern parts of Asia, and India. More specifically the emphasis on linguistic expression and the nature of language which is believed to be similarly important as in the West, but different in theme as India’s language was greatly enhanced by the early development of linguistics or Sanskrit grammar, and the nature of knowledge and its acquisition. In modern times, Indian philosophy has seen an increasing Western influence especially from the social philosophies of utilitarian schools which inspired a number of religious and socio-cultural movements, such as the Brahmo Samaj. The 20c saw the Anglo-American linguistic philosophy form the basis of research, with added influence from European phenomenology present in the works of scholars such as KC Bhattacharya. The trend of Western philosophy as inspiration continued to be disseminated by intellectuals in the East, and Chinese philosophy too which first made its appearance during the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256BC) later experienced Western influence in the 20c, most notably in the introduction of the leftist branch of Marxism which became China’s official political philosophy. Around the same period, a New Confucian movement rose, attempting to synthesise the traditions of the West and the East [traditional Confucian values with Western democracy and science].

As for the African continent, starting from the Middle-East and North-Africa, it may be unsurprising that Western values or philosophy had no major influence in the Islamic territories and Muslim world who had been subjugating non-Muslin civilisations with violent wars [jihad] in the name of their God. The major European incursions and hence influence in the Arab world comes from the time of Napoleon I’s invasion of Egypt (1798) which led to the promotion of Western philosophy in the area for a short time before a backlash from Islamic circles called for a religious and politically-oriented philosophy to counter foreign domination.

Regarding African philosophy, it is to this day a subject of intense debates among intellectuals and cultured circles whether such a thing exists, along with the definition that ‘African philosophy’ may include: for example, many scholars associate the term to communal values, beliefs and world-views of traditional Black African oral cultures, highlighting the rich, long and sometimes violent tradition of indigenous African philosophy [stretching back in time] with tales of supernaturalism and communally-derived ethics by tribes. What seems to be a certitude is that African philosophy is unlike Western, Indian, Chinese and Arabic traditions as there is very little in terms of African philosophical traditions before the modern period. However, the logical question remains, and that is: if African philosophy are works that were created within the geographical area that constitutes Africa, then perhaps all of the writings of ancient Egyptians may quality as African, and also Christian apologists of the 4-5c period like St Augustine de Hippo. Indeed, to further the argument of logic, the whole world’s culture and societies could all be qualified as African, since it has recently been proven scientifically that all humans evolved after leaving Africa.

allafricans

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Part II: Religious Cultures

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Image: The Atlantic

SigmundFreudOnReligion

The main driving power behind the psychological movement focused on the « Human Mind », Sigmund Freud, was an atheist unlike Isaac Newton who was a devout Christian with complex and heterodox private beliefs

The world’s cultures are generally classified into the five major religious traditions:

  • Buddhism
  • Islam
  • Hinduism
  • Judaism
  • Christianity

 

Buddhism

The tradition of Buddhism which is made up of thought and practice originates in India around 2500 years ago, it was inspired by the teaching of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama). The concept of Buddha is explained in the ‘Four Noble Truths’, which concludes by the claim of a path leading to deliverance from the universal human experience of suffering. One of its main tenet is the law of karma, which states that good and evil deeds result in the appropriate reward or punishment in life or in a succession of rebirths. 

SONY DSC

Dharma day commemorates the day when Buddha made his first sermon or religious teaching after his enlightenment

Division

Dating from its earliest history, Buddhism is divided into two main traditions.

  • Theravada Buddhism adheres to the strict and narrow of early Buddhist writings, where salvation is possible only for the few who accept the severe discipline and effort necessary to achieve it.
  • Mahayana Buddhism is the more ‘liberal form’ and makes concession to popular piety by seemingly diluting the degree of discipline required for salvation, claiming that it is achievable for everyone instead. It introduces the doctrine of bodhisattva (or personal saviour). The spread of Buddhism lead to other schools to expand, namely Chan or Zen, Tendai, Nichiren, Pure Land and Soka Gakkai.

 

Theravada Buddhism in South and South-East Asia

While being nearly eradicated in its original birthplace, the practice of Theravada Buddhism has turned into a significant religious force in the states of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Traditionally, it is believed that missions in the area by the emperor of India, Ashoka in the 3c BC introduced Buddhism. While the evidence lacks the consistency to be conclusive, it is assumed and believed by most that many different variations of Hindu and Buddhist traditional movements were present, scattered across South-East Asia up to the 10c. Theravada Buddhism eventually acquired more influence from the 11c to 15c as it experienced growing contacts with Sri Lanka where the movement was outward looking. In Burma (now Myanmar), Buddhist states arose and soon others followed, namely Cambodia, Laos, Java and Thailand, including the Angkor state in Cambodia and the Pagan state in Burma. During the modern period [at the exception of Thailand which was never colonised], the imperial occupation, Christian missionaries and the Western world-view challenged Theravada Buddhism [the strict version of Buddhist philosophy] in South=East Asia.

 

Mahayana Buddhism in North and Central Asia

The Mahayana which is the form of Buddhism commonly practised in China, Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal, Korea and Japan dates from about the 1c when it arose as a more liberal movement within the Buddhist movement in northern India, focussing on various forms of popular devotion.

Tibetan Buddhism

Orthodox Mahayana Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism (a Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism) had been transmitted through missionaries invited from India during the 8c in Tibet. Today’s popular Tibetan Buddhism places an emphasis on the appeasement of malevolent deities, pilgrimages and the accumulation of merit. Since the Chinese invasion in 1959 and the Dalai Lama’s exile from India however, Buddhism has been repressed drastically.

Chinese Buddhism

China’s introduction to Buddhism from India happened in the 1c AD via the central Asian oases along the Silk Route. It had surprisingly established itself as a reasonable presence in China by the end of the Han Dynasty (AD 220). Buddhism had become so successful by the 9c that the Tang Dynasty saw it as ‘an empire within the empire’ and persecuted it in 845 after which the Chan and Pure Land Schools only remained strong, drew closer and found harmony with each other. Buddhism and other religions however was nearly subjugated by the attempts of the Marxist government of Mao Zedong (1949 onwards) when the lands of China were nationalised and Buddhist monks forced into secular employments. Since 1978, the Buddhist movement and other religions have seen a revival in China.

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Allah

Islam

Islam is simply Arabic for ‘submission to the will of God (Allah)’ and the name of the religion which was founded in Arabia during the 7c throughout a controversial prophet known as Muhammad. Islam relies on prophets to establish its doctrines which it believes have existed since the beginning of time, sent by God like Moses and Jesus, to provide the necessary guidance for the achievement of eternal reward; and the culmination of this succession is assumed by Muslims to be the revelation to Muhammad of the Quran, the ‘perfect Word of God’.

Beliefs and traditions

There are five religious duties that make up the founding pillar of Islam:

  • The shahadah (profession of faith) is the honest recitation of the two-fold creed: ‘There is no god but God’ and ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of God’.
  • The salat (formal prayer) must be said at fixed hours five times a day while facing towards the city of Mecca
  • The payment of zakat (‘purification’) [a form of religious tax by the Muslim community] which is regarded as an act of worship and considered as the duty of sharing one’s wealth out of gratitude for God’s favour, according to the uses laid down in the Quran [such as subjugation of all non-Muslims, the imposition of violent and controversial Sharia law (a section of Islam as a political ideology which dictates all aspects of Muslim life with severe repercussions if transgressed), learning to adapt behaviour to protect Islam at all cost even if it means deceiving (‘Taqqiya’), etc]
  • There is an imposition regarding fasting (saum) which has to be done during the month of Ramadan.
  • The pilgrimage to the Mecca, known as the Haji is part of the sacred law of Islam which applies to all aspects of Muslim life, not simply religious practices. The Haji is described as the Islamic way of life and prescribes the way for a Muslim to fulfil the commands of God and reach heaven, and must be performed at least once during one’s lifetime. The cycle of festivals such as Hijra (Hegira), the start of the Islamic year, and Ramadan, the month where Muslims fast during daytime are two of the most known practices still misunderstood by mainstream media.

Divisions

Although all Muslims believe in the ideology of Islam and its teachings from Muhammad, two basic and distinct groups exist within Islam. The Sunnis are the majority and acknowledge the first four caliphs as Muhammad’s legitimate successors. The other group, known as the Shiites make up the largest minority movement in the Muslim world, and view the imam as the principal religious authority. A number of subsects and derivatives also exist, such as the Ismailis (one group, the Nizaris, regard the Aga Khan as their imam), while the Wahhabis, a movement focussed on reforming Islam begun in the 18c.

whatdoyouconsideryourselffirst

Islam remains a priority in matters of identity for most Muslims, unlike Westerners who tend to have more nationalistic feelings

Today Islam remains one of the fastest growing religions – probably due to the high birth rate of third world North Africa where it originates along with the strong impositions it inculcates in its adepts such as the subjugation of all non-Muslims into slaves, sexual slavery, forced conversation, childhood indoctrination, honour killings and jihad (a war in the name of Islam that guarantees salvation along with mass migration to promote Islam) – and today about 700 million Muslims exist throughout the World. The constant clash with enlightened movements of the Christian West, with intellectuals such as Dr Bill Warner who initiated the movement for the study of political Islam to help break down and propagate important facts about the ideology of Islam’s political techniques in subjugating global non-Muslim societies, have started to gain major attention from the intellectual crowd [who are active on media platforms such as Twitter, a controversial platform that uses its administrative rights dictatorially, known to restrict freedom of speech, research & factual information that oppose liberal opinions, and many researchers from accessing their archived ‘tweets’ and ‘retweets’, affecting their work and research – a direct breach of Human Rights as specified by Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 – and many have questioned the practice over possibilities of World War III being caused by the USA’s unethical technological monopoly over other Western nations data. Saddam Hussein was assaulted militarily by the UN after breaching human rights]

womeninthehadith

Status of Women in the Hadith [purely based on the life, habits & actions of Muhammad]

Islam remains a controversial religions tradition while also being the only religion with a “manual to run a civilisation” as Dr. Bill Warner phrased it, in the Sharia [an Islamic set of doctrines in managing a civilisation – politics, culture, philosophy and economy] which at its deeper core includes the war on other civilisations through jihad, the subjugation of all non-Muslims, the destruction of all non-Islamic historical heritage, forced circumcision of both sexes and a whole set of violent and radical forms of Islamic lifestyle requirements that include violent and sometimes fatal repercussions [for ‘transgressing‘]. Repeatedly France has profoundly rejected Islam as a dangerous religious practice and culture that is incompatible with the values of French society & culture; however the obsolete system of management that is politics remains an atavistic barrier to banning Islam due to the concept of ‘political correctness’ – an invalid ideology created by the most corrupt & untrustworthy adepts of the obsolete practice of ‘politics’ [for reasons that are now being scrutinised in the name of change]. The late Christopher Hitchens was also a prominent speaker on secularisation and particularly focused on countering the atavistic Islamisation of the West which threatens personal liberty, freedom of expression, education, innovation, development, cohesion and socio-cultural creativity due to its rigid doctrines.

islam

***

Hinduism

Hinduism does not trace its origin to a particular founder, does not have any prophets, no set creed, and no institutional structure, but instead focuses on the ‘right way of living’ (dharma) rather than a set of doctrines. It embraces a variety of religious beliefs and practices. Variations exist across different parts of India where it was founded, differences in practice can be found even from village to village in the deities worshipped, the scriptures used, and the festivals observed. Those of the Hindu faith may be either theists or non-theists, and revere one or more gods or goddesses, or none, and instead represent the ultimate in personal (e.g. Brahma) or impersonal (e.g. Brahman) terms. Over 500 million Hindus exist today.

hinduism

Beliefs

Most forms of Hinduism assume and promote the idea of reincarnation or transmigration. The process of birth and rebirth continuing for life after life is a process referred to and termed ‘samsara. The state of rebirth (pleasant or unpleasant) is believed to be the results of karma, the law by which the consequences (good or bad) of actions reflect when life is transmigrating from one form to another which influences its character. Hindus’ ultimate spiritual goal is maksha – release from the cycle of samara.

 

Literature

No specific text is regarded as specifically authoritative unlike any other religion, Hinduism is based on a rich and varied literature with the earliest dating from Vedic period (c.1500-c500BC), known collectively as the Veda. Later (c.500BC-AD500) the religious law books (dharma sutras and dharma shastras) surfaced; they codified the classes of society (varna) and the four stages of life (ashrama), and formed the basis of the Indian caste system. The great epics were added to these, notably the Ramayana and the Mahabharata which includes one of the most influential Hindu scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita.

Caste

The concept of Hinduism is founded centrally on the caste system which is believed to have been structured since the first Aryans came to India and brought a three-tiered social structure of priests (brahmanas), warriors (Kshatriyas), and commoners (vaishyas), to which they added the serfs (shudras), the indigenous population of India which may have been hierarchically structured. The Rig Veda (10.90) gives sanction to the class system (varna), describing each class as coming from the body of the sacrificed primal person (purusha). Orthodox Hindus regard the class system which is derived from the caste system as a sacred structure in harmony with natural or cosmic law (dharma). The system of class developed into the caste (jati) system which exists today and there are thousands of castes within India based on inherited profession and concepts of purity and pollution. The upper castes are generally regarded as ritually and philosophically purer than the lower ones. While this practice was outlawed in 1951, a number of castes are still considered so ‘polluting’ that their members are known as ‘untouchables’ [too ‘polluting’ to be touched or meddled with], thus marriage between castes is forbidden and transgressors have been known to be harshly punished.

Gods

Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma are the main chief gods in Hinduism, and together form the triad (the Trimurti). Many lesser deities also exist, such as the goddesses Maya and Lakshmi. It is common to most Hindus to go on pilgrimages to local and regional worship sites with an annual cycle of local, regional and all-Indian festivals.

cgr5o7nwiaqkkse

Like Christianity & the other major religions, Hinduism too gradually spread in influence across the globe. However, 94% of people who practice Hinduism  are the native Hindi-speaking population of India

***

judaism

Judaism

Judaism is the religion of the Jews where the central belief in one God is the foundation. The primary source of Judaism is the Hebrew Bible, with the next important document being the Talmud, which consists of the Mishnah (the codification of the oral Torah) along with a series of rabbinical commentary. Jewish practice and thought however would be shaped by later documents, commentaries & the standard code of Jewish law and ritual (Halakhah) produced in the late Middle Ages.

Communal Life

UglyLeeches

Peinture: Sandrine Arbon

Most Jews see themselves as members of a group whose origins lie in the patriarchal period – however varied the Jewish community may be. There is a marked preference for expressing beliefs and attitudes more through rituals that through abstract doctrine. In Jewish rituals, the family is the basic unit although the synagogue too has developed to play an important role in being a centre for community study and worship. The Sabbath, a period starting from sunset on Friday and ending at sunset on Saturday is a central part of religious observance in Judaism with a cycle every year comprising of festivals and days of fasting, the first of these being Rosh Hashanah, New Year’s Day; in the Jewish year, the holiest day is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement – others include Hanukkah and Pesach, the family festival of Passover.

 

Divisions

Rabbinic Judaism is the root of modern Judaism with a diverse historical development. Most Jews today are the descendants of either Ashkenazim or Sephardim, while many other branches of Judaism also exist. The preservation of ‘traditional’ Judaism is generally linked to the Orthodox Judaism movement of the 19c. Other branches, such as Reform Judaism attempt to interpret Judaism in the light of modern scholarship and knowledge, a process pushed further by Liberal Judaism – unlike Conservative Judaism which attempts to emphasise on the positives of ancient Jewish traditions in attempts to modify orthodoxy.

Modern Controversies

Waves of anti-Semitic prejudice and persecution during World War II have been regular features of Western media outlets’ [mostly Jewish owned] focus, who throughout history have clashed with the Christian influenced heritage of European civilisations, and this ongoing tension between Semitic traditions/philosophies/beliefs and Western Christian-influenced cultures was to take a turn when the rise of a form of « patriotic socialism » [neither left or right, but all encompassing] nationalism across Europe was marked by the spectacular election of the talented Adolf Hitler, who had been the leader of the National Socialist party [Nationalsozialismus later tarnished as « NAZI » by a jew known as Konrad Heiden from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands)] in Germany, and implemented the core ideologies of National Socialism [a focus on self-sustainability and socio-cultural and economic independence while creating a healthier – psychologically & physically – nation] with Darwinian influence on health policies, and the arts and a scientific culture of research as an integral part of its core.

The lies surrounding the event known as « the holocaust » based on Communist propaganda, Global Zionist interests, along with the credulity of mediocre politicians across the globe, has today been unfairly implanted in the minds of the ignorant mass media consumer as being the « dark legacy » of a talents such as Adolf Hitler. This exaggerated picture that the media had already been circulating to the disapproval of some leading world figures such as John Kennedy and Gandhi [Article: Quand Gandhi écrivait à son « cher ami »… Adolf Hitler], is still being reviewed by a wave of daring, talented and modern historians of whom many have denied accusations of gas chambers that were not present or inadequate to be used as gas chambers on all of German soil. More testimonies of camp survivors gave notes of swimming pool, orchestras, shower rooms and even a canteen, without ever mentioning gas chambers. Others explained how the media propaganda videos of mass deaths with emaciated bodies were due to the outbreak of Typhus carried by lice which was caused by low hygiene due to the Allied bombing of train tracks which restricted many cities from supplies of food, medicines & sanitation; causing the starvation and death of not only camp detainees but many German men, women and children who were scavenging the streets for food. The shower rooms in the camps on German soil were also documented as working shower rooms that were vital for hygiene and the delousing process.

English historian David Irving was jailed for his revision of events linked to Adolf Hitler while other ground breaking documentaries such as ‘The greatest story never told’ by Dennis Wise keep spreading the real facts that are never part of mainstream media to the new generation of the internet era who seek factual analysis over historical controversies, such as the 150 000 Jews who gave up their heritage and had firmly assimilated German society in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and served loyally against Bolshevism & Communism until the very end.

JewExpelled.jpg

The 1290 Edict of Expulsion from England, the expulsion from France in 1306 to name a few & the Chart showing all the times throughout human history that the Jews have been expelled from the locations they had migrated to. Many books over some despicable practices regarding human sacrifices have been written by a range of  non-Jewish intellectuals and thinkers who opposed such vile ancient traditions.

However, the mainstream mind set remains stuck on the theory of the ‘gassing of the Jews by the Germans’ for most, with urgency being given to the Zionist movement, established by the World Zionist Organisation for the creation of a Jewish homeland, which is still pivotal in most relations between Jews and non-Jews to this day, with over 14 million Jews scattered around the world.

***

christianity

Christianity

Christianity is a religion that developed out of Judaism, centred on the life of Jesus of Nazareth in Israel. Jesus is believed to be the Messiah or Christ promised by the prophets in the Old Testament, and in a unique relation to God, whose Son or ‘Word’ (Logos) he was proclaimed to be. He selected 12 men as his disciples during his life, who after his death by crucifixion and his resurrection, formed the very nucleus of the Church as a society of believers. Christians gathered together to worship God through the risen Jesus Christ, in the belief of his return to earth and to establish the ‘kingdom of God’.

Despite sporadic persecution, the Christian faith saw a quick progression and spread throughout the Greek and Roman world through the witness of the 12 earliest leaders (Apostles) and their successors. In 315 Christianity was declared by Emperor Constantine as the official religion of the Roman Empire. The religion survived the Empire’s split and the ‘Dark Ages’ through the witness of groups of monks in monasteries, and made up the basis of civilisation in Europe in the Middle Ages.

The Bible

Christian scriptures are divided into two testaments:

  • The Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) is a collection of writings originally composed in Hebrew, except for sections of Daniel and Ezra which are in Aramaic. The contents depict Israelite religion from its roots to about the 2c.
  • The New Testament, composed in Greek, is called so in Christian circles because it is believed to represent a new ‘testament’ or ‘covenant’ in the long history of God’s interactions with his people, focussing on Jesus’s ministries and the early development of the apostolic churches.

Denominations

Differences in doctrines and practices however have led to major divisions in the Christian Church, these are the Eastern or Othodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, which recognises the Bishop of Rome (the pope) as head, and the Protestant Churches stemming from the break-up with the Roman Catholic Chuch in the Reformation. The desire to convert the non-Christian world and spread Christianity through missionary movements led to the establishment of numerically strong Churches in developing economies such as Asia, Africa and South America.

Passion_Of_The_Christ

Image: Jim Caviezel as « the Lord Jesus Christ » in Mel Gibson’s « Passion of the Christ (2004) » [An extract from the incredible depiction of Jesus Christ’s journey can be viewed here]

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Part III: Science

Science.jpg

‘Science’ derives from the Latin Scientia, ‘knowledge’, from the verb scire, ‘to know’. For many centuries ‘science’ meant knowledge and what is now termed science was formerly known as ‘natural philosophy’, similar to Newton’s work of 1687, Naturalis Philosophiae Principia Mathematica (‘The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy’). In can be argued that the word ‘science’ itself was not widely used in its general modern meaning until the 19c, and that usage came with the prestige that the scientific method and scientific observation, experimentation and development had by then acquired.

Early Civilisations

The first exact science to emerge from ancient civilisations is astronomy. Astronomical purposes were the guiding force that led to studying the heavens – so that the ‘will of the gods’ may be foreknown – and in order to make a calendar [which would predict events], which had both practical and religious uses. The seven-day week for example is derived from the ancient Egyptians who although not known as excellent mathematicians, had wanted to predict the annual flooding of the Nile. Chinese records and observations provide valuable references in modern times for eclipses, comets and the positions of stars. In India and even more so in Mesopotamia, mathematics was applied in creating a more descriptive form of astronomy. The ancient Mesopotamian number system was based on 60, thus from it the system of degrees, minutes and seconds was developed.

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The Ancient Greeks

It is to be noted that in all these civilisations, the emphasis had been on observation and description, as the tendency was to explain phenomena as being ‘the nature of things’ or the ‘will of the gods’. The Greeks, who had been looking for more immediate explanations, instead relentlessly examined phenomena and the theories propounded by other earlier thinkers critically. Thales of Miletus initiated the study of geometry in the 6c BC.

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Thales de Miletus (c.620-c.555BC)

At the similar period, Pythagoras had been discovering the mathematical relationship of the chief musical intervals, crucially relating number relationships to physically observed phenomena. Early Greek natural philosophers (today known as ‘scientists) passed on two major concepts to their successors: the universe was an ordered structure, and the ordering of it was organic not mechanical; all things had a purpose and were imbued with the propensity to develop in accordance with the purpose they were fated to serve.

The main voice for such ideas to later ages was Aristotle (384-322BC), who provided a cosmology with the earth at its centre in which everything above the moon was subject to circular motion, and everything beneath it [on earth] was composed of one of the four elements: earth, air, fire or water. The whole system was believed to be set in motion by a ‘prime mover’, usually identified with God.

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This concept was later given a Mathematical basis by Ptolemy (c.90-168AD), an astronomer and geographer working in Alexandria, whose main work [a solar system with the earth at its centre], the Amagest, was revered until the 17c. Aristotle also taught that living creatures were divided into species organised hierarchically throughout creation and reproducing unchangingly after their own kind – an idea that remained unchallenged until the great debate on evolution in the 19c. For Aristotle, scientific investigation was a matter of observation. Experimentation, by altering natural conditions, falsified the ‘truth of things’.

Archimedes (c.287-212BC) was Ancient Greek’s most famous and influential mathematician, who founded the science of hydrostatics, discovered formulae for areas and volume of spheres, cylinders and other plane and solid figures, anticipated calculus, and defined the principle of the lever. His principal contribution to scientific advancement lies perhaps in demonstrating how physical properties can be rendered in terms of mathematics and how formulae thus produced can be subjected to mathematical manipulation and the results translated back into physical terms.

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Archimedes Thoughtful by Domenico Fetti (1620)

The Middle Ages

The pursuit of mathematical theory and pure science was not of great importance to the Romans, who preferred practical knowledge and concentrated on technology. After the fall of the Roman Empire, ancient Greek texts were preserved in monasteries. There the number system, derived from ancient Hindu sources, had given more flexibility to mathematics than was possible using Roman numerals. It was combined with an interest in astronomy and astrology, and in medicine.

Aristotelian thought made an emergence in Christian West in large measure through the work of St Thomas Aquinas in the 13c. Christianity assimilated what it could from Aristotle, as Islam had done some centuries before. Scientific knowledge was still regarded as part of a total system embracing philosophy and theology: a manifestation of God’s power, which could be observed and marvelled at, but not altered. Eventually, Aristotle was proclaimed as the ultimate authority and last word in natural philosophy. His enormous prestige combined with the conservatism of academics and of the Church laid something on the progress of science for several centuries. In the later medieval era and the Renaissance period however, ancient Greek scientific thought was refined, and advances were made both in the Christian Mediterranean and in the Islamic Ottoman Empire. The European voyages of exploration and discovery stimulated much precise astronomical work, done with the intention of assisting navigation. Jewish scholars who could move between the Christian and Muslim worlds were often prominent in this work.

The Scientific Revolution

The Scientific Revolution of the 16c and 17c remain up until this day the most defining era in science, and it happened just after the renaissance, where the conduct of scientific enquiry in the West underwent an incredible change. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) refuted many aspects of the already established Ptolemaic model of the solar system where the earth is at the centre of everything in astronomy – where he redefined the system with sun instead at the centre.

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A German mathematician, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who was also influenced by his work concluded that the movements of planets’ orbits around the sun are elliptical rather than circular. Galileo Galilei who is now championed by many intellectuals as the father of modern science was an Italian philosopher, mathematician and scientist in those days who improved on the telescope that had been invented in Holland, and used it to make observations that included the Milky Way and Jupiter’s satellites. Later, his further research convinced him of the truth in the new Copernican system [with the sun at the centre], but under threat from the Inquisition he recanted.

In England, William Gilbert (1544-1603) established the magnetic nature of the earth and was the first to describe electricity; William Harvey (1544-1603) explained the circulation of blood; and Robert Boyle (1627-91) studied the behaviour of gases under pressure – all in the early 17c.

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Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Isaac Newton (1642-1727), who was to replace Aristotle as the leading authority in natural philosophy for the next two centuries also came from England. He established the universal law of gravitation as the key to the secrets of the universe. In 1687, he published his ground breaking work entitled Principia, which stated his three laws of motion. Alongside Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) he invented calculus, and he also did incredibly influential work on optics and the nature of light.

Cooperation and discourse among scientists and intellectuals had been fostered by the creation of societies where meeting and discussions about their work could take place: for example, the Royal Society in London established in 1662, and the Académie des Sciences in Paris, founded in 1666. Discoveries made by various scientists were used by others in science to advance faster to new theories, leading to science obtaining more status and prestige as a driving force in society.

The 18-19c

The 18c Enlightenment saw its writers play a major part in bringing the scientific advances of the previous century to the wider public and further enhancing the prestige of science as a reliable driving force of civilisation. The scientific method – observation, research, even experimentation and the use of reason, unfettered by preconceptions or dogma to analyse the findings – was applied to almost all aspects of human life.

Chemistry saw significant advances in the latter part of the century – notably the discovery of oxygen by Lavoisier in France, Priestley in Britain and Scheele in Sweden. The Industrial Revolution was a substantial contribution of scientific knowledge’s impact on society and a variety of minds from various fields with various intentions. The discovery of the dye, aniline led to a ‘revolution’ in the textile industry – an example of science’s usefulness to the ‘eyes of the public’, which gradually led to more public support and hence government funding. The École Polytechnique was founded in France in 1794 to propagate the benefits of scientific discovery throughout society. Elsewhere, technical institutions followed that were funded for scientific work – the new era of the professional in science had begun.

Throughout the 18c, botany also advanced when Linnaeus invented his system of binomial nomenclature (1735), while ever growing interest was aroused by the great variety of new species of plants and animals being discovered by explorers, particularly by Captain Cook.

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The French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s (1749-1829) work foreshadowed Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution and made the first break with the notion of immutable species proposed by Aristotle. That particular moment in time also saw geology develop into a science: William Smith (1769-1839), ‘the father of English geology’, was drawn to investigate strata while working as an engineer on the Sommerset coal canal to eventually become the first to identify strata by the different fossils found in them. The epoch-making conclusions of Darwin’s (1809-1882) work on his theory of evolution was accepted by almost all biologists upon its publication as The Origin of Species in 1859, which however did clash with the ideologies promoted by the church. The laws of heredity that had been the work of Gregor Mendel (1822-84) was unfortunately not appreciated in his lifetime – to only later become the founding stone for genetic research. The germ theory of disease was also formulated by the French chemist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) who moved into biology.

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Physics also evolved from tremendous advances in the 19c, as the Italian, Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) developed the current theory of electricity, and invented the electric battery and electrolysis [a study which he formulated in French and sent as a letter to the Royal Society later]. Michael Faraday (1791-1867) carried out experiments with magnetism and electricity, and enabled the building of generators and motors. James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79) proposed the field theory of electromagnetism which mathematically related the phenomena of electricity, magnetism and light. The existence of radio waves was also predicted by him, which was eventually demonstrated by Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894).

Although science itself had not been of major importance in the very early stages of the Industrial Revolution in 18c Britain, technology by the end of the 19c – influenced by the works of scientists – had led to the development of most of the machines and tools that were to transform life for most of humankind in the developed world in the following century. Germany as a single nation excelled and innovated for the time between 1870 and 1914, where scientific education and applied science became major parts of the educational system, all the way up to the tertiary level. A research culture, with the ability to generate change became instilled and institutionalised to become part of German education, culture & philosophy.

 

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The Reichsadler or Emblem of the Deutsches Reich (1933–1945) with the Swastika symbol

Atomic physics and relativity

The theory that all matter is made up of minute and indivisible particles known as atoms was proposed by the ancient Greeks, and various early 19c scientists such as Newton, John Dalton (1766-1844), Amedeo Avogadro (1776-1856) and William Prout (1785-1850) made significant contributions in refining the concept of the atom and the molecule, and in 1869 Dmitri Mendeleyev (1834-1907) conceived the periodic table classifying the chemical properties of each known element to their atomic weight.

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An Atom

Albert Einstein’s (1879-1955) theoretical work gave way to the development of the quantum theory in the early 20c. Einstein’s theory of relativity would incorporate Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory and Newton’s mechanics, while also predicting departures from the classical behaviour of materials at velocities approaching the speed of light. The century’s most famous formula was also provided by Einstein – E = mc 2 – to define the mass equivalence of energy. The postulation of the existence of subatomic particles, the building blocks of atoms and their nuclei, was also made after a series of experiments with ionising radiations. The large energy release created by the splitting of the atomic nucleus predicted by Einstein was demonstrated by Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) in 1919. Force fields and their subatomic particles were studied further in the second half of the 20c through the use of large particle accelerators [up to 27km/17mi in length] with a view to forming a unified theory that would describe all forces including gravity.

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What the laboratory could not provide in terms of information was gained through astronomical observations which would lead to complementary information in understanding the universe on a microscopic and cosmic scale.

The understanding of the atom in terms of a heavy nucleus surrounded by light electrons has led to a deeper knowledge of the chemical and electronic properties of materials and ways of modelling them. Near the end of the 20c, such advancement enabled the ‘tailor-making’ of materials, substances and devices exploited in chemical, pharmaceutical and electronic products.

Genetics and beyond

The study of the basic building blocks of organic life was largely influenced by the study of the atom of the 20c. Research into understanding the nature of the chemical bond and molecular structure applied in biology led to the work on DNA. Investigation by Francis Crick (1916-2004), James Watson (1928- ) and Maurice Wilkins (1916-2004) in the early 1950s revealed the famous helical structure, which has a particular structural feature in that it is composed of four types of proteins, which proved the existence of a genetic code.

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A surge in genetic science was the reality of the latter second half of the century, suddenly unlocking the possibility of cloning and even more controversially, ‘tailor-making’ or ‘engineering’ living beings.

The pace of scientific development has definitely been progressing since the Renaissance and the ongoing Scientific Revolution started in the 16c and 17c. In the 20c, the revolution was exponential, and new information gained from research and experiment is still being used in the applied sciences and technology in the search for newer and more efficient modes of power, tools, and to meet the ever increasing demand for useful and smarter environmentally friendly materials to meet the demands of civilisation while maintaining the fragile balance of our environmental ecosystem due to excessive exploitation and fossil fuel use. The public perception of science is unfortunately only based on its practical applications in everyday life and not on the more life changing matters such as atomic physics or genetics – which are as remote from the average citizen as they have ever been.

Similarly to religion, science arose out of the desire to explain the world around us. The fierce clashes between both institutions have been hard fought, although by the 20c science was crowned as the dominant orthodoxy in guiding civilisation. Yet, with the existence of uncertainty factors and the development of chaos theory, science may be less dogmatic since the Renaissance.

The Scientific Revolution of the 16c & 17c: where science was established as a driving force

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The Scientific Revolution could be qualified by many scientists, intellectuals and historians as an era born of a thirst of development and knowledge since it started just after the Renaissance, near the end of the 15c to give birth to science as it is known today. Perhaps its lasting appeal to the world is that it helped refine intellectual thoughts and establish the basis for the founding methods of investigation still used by all fields of science today. In fact, the Scientific Revolution is the name given to change in the nature of intellectual inquiry – the way in which civilisation thought about and investigated the natural world. This wave of scientific revolution began near the end of 15c Europe, and until it was accomplished or at least under way, it could be easily argued whether any of the thinkers, intellectuals and scholars of Christian Europe could properly qualify themselves as ‘scientists’.

The medieval mind set

Although the middle ages lacked the sophistication of today’s society, original thinkers did exist. It may be true however to say that scholasticism – the term given to theological and philosophical thought of the period operated within a tightly structured and closed system: the universe was God’s creation where the primary truths revealing its nature and workings were only found in the Bible. As knowledge, the Bible was also supported by the writings of selected authors of immemorial and unimpeachable authority, namely Galen, Aristotle and the Church Fathers. If one wanted to establish the truth in any matter, one would first seek support from such an authority, and if support was found, the case would be closed. The desires to critically challenge while pushing the boundaries was clearly not present as many may have believed. Most attempted rather to move closer to the supposedly ‘true meanings’ of the already authoritatively established or formulated. When Bishop James Ussher as late as the 1650s tried to investigate the age of the world, his attention went no further than the Holy Scripture, and by voraciously studying Biblical chronology, concluded at a precise date for the Creation – 4004BC.

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The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo (part of the Sistine Chapel painted in 1508-1512)

Moreover, it was also axiomatic for the times and the credibility of such a powerful voice as the church for no loose ends to be present in God’s original ‘perfect Creation.’ Although the Fall of Man had created feelings of uncertainty into the cosmos, evidence of the intended order was still arguable – there was an underling order, pattern and correspondence everywhere. Things could – in most cases – best be understood or described by analogy with another. Assuming that the one who governs the universe is God, the Sun would therefore be most powerful of all the planets circling the earth, so the king is chief ruler among men, so reason should rule over the inner life of humankind, and even more so the lion must be the king of beasts. Nowadays, it would simply not be revealing much about the lion to claim that its position on the scale of nature in the animal kingdom is equivalent to that of a king among men or the sun among the planets; in medieval times the conversation would be closed here without any space for questioning or clarifying.

The Renaissance and the Reformation

The process of modernising and opening up the workings of the closed system began with the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the voyages of exploration and discovery. Those living during the Renaissance had then possessed new knowledge or had new access to old sources. Many thinkers and intellectuals of the time believed themselves to be part of a movement that was making a significant break with the past to pave the way for a new era of modern knowledge. A process of secularising knowledge was started, prising it away from its basis in theology, and making the study of subjects such as science and mathematics a thing of value in its own right. In northern Europe the Reformers rejected the authority of the Church and instilled in believers the confidence to study the Word of God – and, by extension, His works – for themselves. Voyages of discovery finally made known the existence of new worlds entirely unsuspected by the ancients on earth, leading to the questioning of not only the value of geographical authorities but of other authorities as well.

Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo

The Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) completed his work De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres’). It represented the mature expression of an idea expressed earlier in a brief commentary, namely, that the sun was the centre of the universe and the earth and the other planets revolved around it. The work was published as a book in Frankfurt in 1543 by a Lutheran printer, shortly after Copernicus’s death.

Copernicus’s theory, if accepted, not only destroyed the old earth-centred system devised by Ptolemy, but also made obsolete all the analogies based on that cosmology. The new model however was accepted by few, not even by the popular Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), who himself contributed hugely to astronomy during the 16c through his observations of the stars and their movements. De Revolutionibus was banned by the Roman Catholic Church and remained so until 1835 [292 years].

The Copernican theory was however accepted by Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), a German mathematician and astronomer who was Tycho Brahe’s assistant and on his death succeeded him as the imperial mathematician and court astronomer in Prague. Intensive works on planetary orbits done by Kepler helped develop the theory further and provided it with a mathematical foundation. Kepler’s findings on the laws of planetary motion, published in Astronomia Nova (‘New Astronomy’) in 1609 and Harmonice Mundi (‘The Harmony of the World’) in 1619, formed an essential foundation for the later discoveries of Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Further significant discoveries in optics, general physics and geometry was also made by Kepler. It may also be noted while considering the still fragile and transitional status of science in the 17c, that he was appointed as astrologer to Albrecht Wallenstein, the Catholic general who commanded the Thirty Years’ War. Newton too was a student of alchemy.

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Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

The Copernican theory was also accepted by Johannes Kepler’s (1571-1630) older Italian contemporary, Galileo, who first took issue with Aristotle while studying in Pisa. When he was made Professor of Mathematics there in 1589, he disproved Aristotle’s theory regarding the assumption that the speed of an object’s descent is proportional to its weight – a presentation he made to his students to demonstrate the phenomenon, by releasing objects varying in weight from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After his Aristotelian colleagues pressured him into giving up his professional chair, Galileo would make his way to Florence, by the same time he had also inferred the value of a pendulum for the exact measurement of time, created a hydrostatic balance, and written a treatise on specific gravity. From 1592 to 1610 when he was a Professor of Mathematics in Padua, Galileo modified and perfected the refracting telescope after learning of its invention in Holland in 1608 and used – a powerful tool denied to Copernicus and Tycho Brahe – to make remarkable discoveries, notably the four moons of Jupiter and the sunspots, which further confirmed his acknowledgement of the Copernican system which stated that the earth moved around the sun in an elliptical orbit, a system first formed in 1595. However Galileo’s daring conclusions at the time lead to conflicts not only with traditionalist academics, but also more seriously with the Church due to his writings when he was employed as the court mathematician in Florence in 1613. A warning from Cardinal Bellarmine in 1616 instructed the mathematician that his support of the Copernican system should be dropped as the belief in a moving Earth contradicted the Bible. After several years of excruciating silence, in 1632 he published Dialogo sopra I due massimi sistemi del mondo (‘Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems’) in which, in the context of a discussion of the cycles of tides, he concluded with supporting Copernicus’s system of the solar system. The savage religious laws of the times saw Galileo compelled to abjure his position and sentenced to indefinite imprisonment – a sentence commuted immediately to house arrest. After abjuring he is believed to have murmured ‘eppur si muove’ (‘it does move nonetheless’).

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More Progress

The 16c saw major strides in all branches of science, the Belgian Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) became one of the first scientists to dissect human cadavers. Based on his professional observations, he published De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543, ‘On the Structure of the Human Body’), the very same year that Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus appeared. The anatomical principles of Galen were repudiated, and paved way for William Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood, explained in a book in 1628. The works of Galileo however had not only had an impact on knowledge itself but on many other intellectuals such as Evangelista Torricelli (1608-47), the inventor of the barometer [a vital equipment for experimentation], and the Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens (1629-1693), the inventor of the pendulum clock, the discoverer of the polarisation of light and the first to put forward the idea of its wave nature

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De Humani Corporis Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius (1543)

At the similar period, the Irish experimental philosopher and chemist, Robert Boyle (1627-1691), the formulator of ‘Boyle’s Law’, was studying the characteristics of air and vacuum by means of an air pump, created in partnership with his assistant Robert Hooke (1635-1703). The anti-scholastic ‘invisible college’ meetings of Oxford intellectuals, a precursor of the Royal Society, saw Boyle play an active part – his air pump became a powerful symbol of the ‘experimental philosophy’ promoted by the Royal Society since its founding in 1660. In 1662, Robert Hooke became the Royal Society’s first curator of experiments.

The Royal Society gradually provided a forum and focus for scientific discussions and a means of discussing scientific knowledge – its Philosophical Transactions became the first professional scientific journal. Together with other comparable institutions in other countries, such as the Académie des Sciences of Paris, founded in 1666, the systematisation of the scientific method and the way in which experiments and discoveries were reported were promoted. The importance of plain language in the detailed & systematic description of experiments for reproducibility was emphasised. The creation of prominent scientific associations also marked a cornerstone for the socio-cultural acceptance of science.

Newton

The Scientific Revolution’s culmination is believed to lie in the work of Isaac Newton, where his early mathematical studies led to the invention – simultaneously with Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) – of differential calculus. While focussing on the behaviour of light and prisms, he created the first reflecting telescope, a pivotal tool to the astrologers who followed. In 1684, Newton published his theory of gravitation, and in 1687 his famous Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (‘Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy’), which stated his three laws of motion, would become the founding stone of modern physics – unchallenged until the arrival of Einstein in the early 20c.

Most importantly, Newton’s universal law of gravitation not only explained the movements of the planets within the Copernican system but it even gave an explanation to such humble events as the fall of an apple from a tree. But more surprisingly, it never excluded God from the universe since all of Newton’s work was undertaken within the framework of a devout Christian, though his private beliefs were complex and heterodox.

By the time of his death in 1727, the scientific method was firmly established, and the thinkers, intellectual and writers of the Enlightenment acknowledged that an era had dawned where observation, experiment and the free application of human reason were the foundation of knowledge. In fusing science with culture and spreading knowledge through various themes and outlet of the discoveries made from previous centuries, the writers of the Enlightenment helped to firmly establish the prestige that science and its affiliates and practitioners have inherited and enjoyed down to the present day.

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Part IV: Medicine

medicine

From the earliest times of human civilisation, all societies seem to have had a certain amount of knowledge of herbal remedies and to have practised some folk medicine. Most patients in the earliest days were treated with the objective of regaining the favour of the gods or to ‘release’ the evil from the body, therefore the cause of illness was believed to be rooted in supernatural causes. In early civilisations such as in Egypt and Mesopotamia, for example, salves were used as part of medical practice which included divination to obtain a prognosis and incantation to help the sufferer. In the East, many commonly occurring diseases were documented by doctors in India and where they used some drugs still exploited by modern medicine; they also performed surgery that included skin graft. In some parts of the world, some societies banned the cutting of dead bodies due to religious beliefs and policies fused with the law. Unsurprisingly however, knowledge of physical anatomy was incredibly basic. Early Chinese society also banned the desecration of the dead and this resulted in Chinese concepts of physiology not being based on observational analysis. A developed medical tradition flourished in China however from the earliest times to the present day, with special focus placed on the pulse as means of diagnosis.

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In Chinese medical philosophy, the objective is to balance the yin (the negative, dark, feminine, cold, passive element) and the yang (the positive, light, masculine, warm, active element), and the pharmacopoeia for achieving this: vegetable, animal and mineral. Similarly important is the practice of acupuncture, where needles are used to alter the flow of ch’i (energy) that is believed to travel along invisible channels in the body (meridians). Anaesthesia puts the efficacy of acupuncture to the test – being its most widespread use.

The sophistication of modernity in the West started to set a new course to medicine when it was partially rationalised by the Greek philosophers, since before this it was mainly an aspect of religion.

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Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine

In ancient Greece for example, people suffering from illness would go to the god Asclepius’s temple for incubation – a sleep during which the god would visit in a dream which would then be interpreted by the priests to reveal the diagnosis or advice for the cure. Empedocles later came up with the idea that four elements exist – fire, air, earth and water, which when applied to the human body turned into blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile – which must obey certain rules to be maintained in harmonious balance. That concept was further reinforced when it was adopted by Aristotle (384-322BC) and remained a founding pillar of Western medicine until the new discoveries of the 18c. From the viewpoint of a biologist, Aristotle observed the world, performing dissections of animals and learning more of anatomy and embryology.

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After his death, the main learning centre in Greece became Alexandria, where principles expounded by Hippocrates (c.460-c.377BC) were upheld and obsolete ideas such as illnesses caused by the gods were rejected, instead he made and raised a new school of thought where his diagnosis and prognosis were made after careful observation and consideration. Today, Hippocrates is regarded as the ‘father of medicine’, and sections of the oath attributed to him are still used in medical schools to this present day.

Galen (c.130-c201), a Greek doctor, was the next major and defining influence on Western medicine who studied at Alexandria and later went to Rome. Galen gathered up all the existing writings of Greek doctors, and emphasised on the importance of anatomy to medicine. He used apes to find out about the ways the body worked since dissection of human bodies were then illegal. Although his daring efforts were justified for medicine, his reports contained many mistakes on anatomical points which included the circulation of blood around the body, which he described instead to have ‘ebbed and flowed’.

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Surprisingly, the point worth noting is that although the people then were living in the early times of human history, Rome had already developed an excellent culture with high regards for public health; more strikingly perhaps is also the fact that they even had clean drinking water, hospitals and sewage disposal – which was never developed or adopted by any civilisation until the 20c.

After the Roman Empire fell, the practice of medicine resided in the infirmaries of the monasteries. In the 12c century, medicine was developing as an important necessity in society from the lower to the upper end, and the first medical school was established at Salerno. Many other medical schools in Europe followed, namely: Bologna, Padua, Montpellier and Paris. Mondino dei Liucci (c.1270-1326) published the very first manual of anatomy after carrying out his own dissections in Bologna. The most major advancement in medicine however came from the Belgian Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) who contributed through incredibly detailed sketches, descriptions and drawings published in 1543, correcting the errors of Galen. The Inquisition sentenced him to death for performing human dissections [once again an occasion where religious traditions came in the way of reason and research], however a new wave of inquisitive intellectuals had already surfaced abroad who could not be stopped.

A better and more precise knowledge of anatomy led to an improvement in techniques used in surgery, and surgeons, the long considered as inferior practitioners by physicians, began to be recognised as a major part in medicine and its procedures. The huge increase in the armies of Europe in the 16c and 17c created greater demands for effective surgery in the military departments. Ambroise Paré (1510-1590) reformed surgical practice in France, sealing and stopping the cauterising of wounds, while in the United Kingdom, more collectives of medicine intellectuals were formed which later became the College of Surgeons.

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French nobleman and chemist Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) and his chemist wife Marie-Anne (1758-1826)

In 1628, the theory of the circulation of blood was formulated by William Harvey’s experiments in the 17c, which was reinforced by Marcello Malpighi’s work. However, it took more than a hundred years for medicine to fully understand the purpose of circulating blood up until Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794), a French chemist discovered oxygen which has to be transported to various parts of the human body through blood. A new approach to obstetrics was also invented at that time, along with the growth of microscopal studies, and by the end of the 18c Europe was introduced to vaccines which helped to eradicate previously deadly diseases such as smallpox in the 20c.

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Biologist and physician, Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694)

In the 19c scientific research generated new knowledge about physiology and medicine saw refinements to aid diagnosis, such as the invention and introduction of the stethoscope and chest percussions. The field of bacteriology was also born out of the work of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) after the latter established the germ theory of disease transmission. This had a major impact and transformed safety for all patients, for example in the field of obstetrics where women had been dying regularly from puerperal fever before it was investigated to find out that doctors were transmitting bacteria from diseased patients to healthy ones. The first use of ether as a drug in the USA in 1846 and of chloroform in Scotland in 1847 made way for another major advance in surgery when their use as anaesthetic gases opened new doors to minute, longer and more complicated surgical sessions to be initiated.

The wave of cutting edge and precise research continued into the 19c with the recognition and detailed description of many conditions now available to medical education for the first time. Precautions were taken to halt the propagation of malaria and yellow fever after it was revealed that insect bites could transmit them. At around the end of the 19c, the birth of psychology as the study of the ‘mind’ was taking place with Sigmund Freud’s work, and Rontgen’s discovery of X-rays along with Pierre and Marie Curie’s radium provided new diagnostic tools to medicine.

The 20c continued to flourish with progress when the haphazard discovery of bacteria-killing organism were made, most famously Alexander Fleming, the scottish Bacteriologist and Nobel prize winner who discovered Penicillin in 1928 and also served during the First World War in the Army Medical Corps. After qualifying with distinction in 1906, Fleming went straight into research at the University of London. One of the most important discoveries in medicine would eventually be made by a him in 1928 over a simple observation. Fleming observed that the mould that had accidentally developed on a set of culture dishes used to grow the staphylococci germ had also created a bacteria free circle around itself. After careful observation and research, the substance that repelled bacteria from the mould was named Penicillin. The drug would later only be developed further by two other scientists, Australian Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, a refugee from Nazi Germany [all three shared the Nobel Prize in medicine]. Although the first supplies of Penicillin were limited, by the 1940s the pharmaceutical industry had made it a top priority and it was mass produced by the American drugs industry.

The era also spectated the growth of advanced technology and the further development of various forms of drug treatments, such as sulfonamides when they were discovered, followed by streptomycin, the first effective antibiotic against tuberculosis which was fatal until then similarly to diabetes which was also explored and treated with the discovery of insulin, thus halting its former reputation as deadly into a controllable condition – a new breed of surgeons are claiming to have found surgical methods to completely reverse the Type-2 Diabetes that affects most.

Typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, tuberculosis, measles, whooping cough and polio were mostly eradicated in the West as the 20c was marked by improved public health services, living condition and nutrition along with well devised campaigns with the sound backing of science to promote immunisation campaigns for children. The West was also freed of diseases such as rickets and scurvy as new discoveries were made on the role and importance of vitamins which also led to the mitigation of beriberi in Africa and Asia early in the century.

Malaria, yellow fever and leprosy were also found to curable, and now that with all the advancement in medicine most people live longer in developed economies [at the exception of some that have mediocre policies due to their mediocre management system, e.g. politics], the chief causes of death nowadays have so far been cancer and heart disease.

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Life Expectancy in the United Kingdom / Source: OurWorldinData.org

 

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Life Expectancy Global / Source: OurWorldinData.org

Unleashing the power of genetics against cancer

Source: Cambridge University

In the field of cancer research, advancement in new therapies involving various techniques are now available and continuously being developed; with the most recent being the promising CRISPR, which involves using a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer, using a particular type of immune cell known as the T cell. The logic behind it explores the usual purpose of those T cells in the human body which involves surveying the body to seek out and destroy abnormal cells that have to potential to turn cancerous- detected by T cells due to the presence of strange proteins on their surface [signs that the T cell knows as ‘dangerous’]. Surprisingly cancer has evolved a cat-and-mouse game to evade T cells by developing the ability to ‘switch off’ any T cell that gets in their way, effectively blocking their healing attack. The most effective cancer therapies try to counteract this response by abnormal and cancerous cells by boosting the immune system.

CRISPR: the promising new cancer treatment

In 2015, a study used an older, less efficient gene engineering technique known as the ‘zinc finger’ which led to nucleases that give T cells better fighting ability against HIV – the therapy was well tolerated in a 12-person test group. A further study used reprogrammed T cells from multiple myeloma patients in the specific recognition of cancer cells which shrank the tumours initially while the T cells gradually withered and lost their ability to regenerate themselves – a common issue that new trials hope to solve in the near future. Perhaps one of the most unfortunate part of the story with CRISPR despite being a promising cell therapy is that it is often offered and used on patients with relapsing diseases. Other genes can also be ‘tweaked’ for the particular protein PD-1 with the CRISPR method that counter the problem of T cells losing their ‘intensive ability’ as these new tweaked genes help prolong the lifespan of the modified T cells while simultaneously enhancing their cancer fighting ability since the PD-1 protein sits on the surface of T-cells and helps dampen the activity of the cancer cells after an immune response [tumours found ways to hide by flipping the PD-1 switch themselves, thus drugs that block PD-1 from this immune suppression have been proven to be a promising immunotherapy cancer treatment].  Researchers are currently carrying intensive research to understand the deeper mechanics of CRISPR by removing T cells from patients of cancers that have stopped responding to normal treatments, and using a harmless virus, deliver the CRISPR machinery into the cells, and perform three gene edits on them. The first gene edit will insert a gene protein called the NY-ESO-1 receptor, a protein that equips T cells with an enhanced ability in locating, recognising and destroying cancerous cells [the NY-ESO-1 displaying tumour]. The T cells have a native trait that is unfortunately unsupportive in this process as it interferes with this process of added protein, so the second edit will be to remove these inhibitors so that the engineered protein will have more efficiency against cancer. The final and third edit gives the T cell longevity by removing the gene that allows recognition as a cancer suppressor by cancer cells that disable the PD-1 protein, thus countering its attack while remaining active due to the added guide RNAs which would tell the CRISPR’s DNA-snipping enzyme, Cas9, where exactly to cut the genome. However, since CRISPR is not always effective, not all cells will receive the genetic modification, thus making the engineered cells in the end, a mixture with various combinations of proposed changes to balance the reaction into the desired one. Only 3-4% may contain all three genetic edits. After the edits, the researchers would generally infuse all the edited cells back into patients and monitor for issues closely. One of the main concerns with CRISPR is that it may inadvertently snip other genes potentially creating new cancer genes or trigger existing ones, and these side effects are planned for monitoring by a team expected to measure the growth rate of engineered T cells and carry test for genomic abnormalities. However, the concluding outlook on CRISPR is very bright, in a pilot run carried out by using T cells from healthy donors, the researchers checked for 148 genes that could be snipped by mistake, and the only faulty cut that was detected was deemed as harmless. Another major concern is the fear of activating the body’s immune system against the engineered T cells since the enzyme Cas9 originates from bacteria and is essential for the cancer cutting process CRISPR relies on – although ways exist to prevent the immune system from destroying engineered Cas9 T cells, the possibility remains.

Gene therapy trials have suffered a recent setback with the death of the young patient Jessie Gelsinger during a trial. Further investigation revealed that some of the researchers failed to disclose the side effects observed in animals and some of the investigators had financial incentive for the trial to be a success. Extra precaution is being taken by UPenn who pioneered the treatment to ensure the smooth progression of medicine in genetics. As Stanford bioethicist Dr. Mildred Cho said, “Often we have to take a leap of faith.”

Cancer research and treatment on the whole has seen innovations in surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, a combination of the mentioned and the new promising method involving gene editing Cas9 based T cells with the CRISPR technique. All these together have and are increasing the prognosis for some sufferers, and in cardiology too, new treatments stunned the world, notably angiograms, open-heart surgery and heart transplants. The process of organ transplant has gradually been extended to lungs, livers and kidneys, and artificial joints for the hips and knees have also been improved.

Further education on family planning has been available and constantly updated since the 1960s where methods of contraception had first been marketed to the wider public [such as the oral contraceptive pill for women]. The controversial act of abortion too with the scientific legitimacy was made safer and legalised in many developing economies and at the other end of the scale couples unable to conceive benefited of fertility drugs and in vitro fertilisation provided many with the choice of starting a family.

With the growing discoveries and nearly godly feats of medicine, public perception of the field also changed and many soon started to entertain the belief that a cure exists for every ill. Unfortunately this is not true, as many complicated diseases such as cancer continue to defy knowledge and scientific research and new diseases and complications continue to emerge such as Ebola, HIV and antibiotic resistance. The constant struggle for 3rd world economies to keep up with medical cost has also led to major culturally destructive waves of migration that have very quickly turned out to be unsustainable for most major Western economies along with the religious and socio-cultural clashes being a constant topic of debate in most educated circles and the connected alternate media alike across Europe [to counter some of the extreme liberal & atavistic views promoted by the mainstream media fuelled by ruthless & scrupulous globalists].

The economic grip of pharmaceutical companies on the world’s economy has been a central issue for many concerned scientists and intellectuals of the times constantly questioning the responsibility of funding and providing cutting edge and hygienic health services for the people; while on the other hand other controversial but vital access to organs for transplantation have caused major social debates regarding the future cultural behaviour regarding the organs of the dead and the provision of a constant supply of fresh organs for the Western economies’ major health requirements.

While the Western model of medicine is the most effective, researched, respected and taught on earth, other sub disciplines of medicine that many medical empiricists consider to be complete lies continue to prosper at a medium scale for a surprisingly constant demand for folk and herbal medicines. In the urban areas of non-Western societies the trend is at a larger scale since Western medicine has still not made a significant impact to the adepts of traditional practices. Medically unproven and scientifically void practices such as chiropractic, aromatherapy, auto-suggestion, homoeopathy, osteopathy and hydrotherapy still exist in the West under the classification of ‘complementary medicine’ where many of the practitioners do not require any degree or certificate to ‘practice’ [a documentary by Dr. Richard Dawkins was aired on the BBC on this topic]. Most of those treatments that have no scientific grounding somehow all have long histories, and a chosen few such as acupuncture, have been fused into Western orthodox medical practice in countries such as the UK.

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Part V: Secularisation

Secularisation may be defined as the process of change where authority passes from a religious source to a secular one. This may turn into an issue or a need only where religion and the religious have gained considerable power or a dominant position in society and penetrate all aspects of life, including the government. For instance, in ancient Greece and Rome, religion does not seem to have ever dominated the state. The main religious officers was shared by the same men who held political office [religion may have been seen as simply a part of national culture]. While virtue consisted of piety and observance to the gods were expected, religion was rarely a primary focus for society. Furthermore, polytheism provided flexibility to the system as new gods and goddesses would be added to the pantheon to accommodate local cults, and an individual would have the freedom to choose a deity as his or her special patron. However, prudence demanded that other divinities not be neglected, and none of this was of major concern to the state.

Yet, as the petty logic of majority in many cases comes into conflict with strategy, the great monotheistic proselytising religions of Christianity and Islam saw a great rise and the situation and relationship with the state started to change. Now, as a matter of righteousness and justification as a moral authority, the state had to go with the religious beliefs that ruled most of the West. This led to the state having to ensure salvation, which became the founding pillar of ‘right religion’. Consequently, this acceptance and spread led to the increased power and influence of Christian kings who with them emerged a body of clerical men who claimed to exercise the spiritual ministry of the most almighty of beings, God, on earth. This led to large amounts of money, land and property being donated by individuals, organisations and Christian rulers to the Church in the hope of maintaining a good relationship and being protected. This also increased the overall influence of the power of the Church which however owed so much to the Crown in terms of donations and freedom that they gradually tended to act as its propagandists and servants. The term and principle of ‘Caesaropapism’ was accepted by the Church in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, which simply proved their acceptance of subordination to an Emperor who was thought of as an ambassador of divine authority on earth. However, this claim of a supreme imperial being at the top of the religious scale soon led to conflicts with the popes of the West who were unhappy with such imposition in regards to their contribution to the works of God and soon, conflicts began between the sovereigns and the papacy over the limits and jurisdiction of royal and papal power – both, of course claiming to be guided by the divine mandate.

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Perhaps one of the most famous of these clashes happened between Henry II of England and his Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. At that time the Church’s power may have been at its peak, during the pontificate of Innocent III, who claimed that the Holy Roman Emperor was subordinate to him. Later, Innocent III pushed for Emperor Otto IV to be deposed, forced Philip II of France into reinstating his divorced second wife, Ingeborg of Denmark. He also placed England under an interdict, and had King John (Lackland) excommunicated to be able to secure the office of Archbishop of Canterbury for his candidate, Stephen Langton. Those clashes of power and interest saw a decrease however, when in the following years the papacy was in dire need of royal help to defeat the Conciliar Movement – a movement in Western Europe in the 14c and 15c of the Roman Catholic Church which believed that final authority in spiritual matters resided with the Church as a company of Christians, embodied by a general church council, not solely with the Pope [a movement started by Pope Innocent III and is still used today in France].

In other civilisations in the Middle-East, such as in Islamic territory that obeyed the laws of Islam’s sharia, conflicts between the professional religious classes and the rulers tended to be avoided since Islam has no priesthood. Religion and state were unified in the pursuit of what the Quran and the life of Muhammad qualified as the ‘pursuit of Islamic righteousness’. This however includes violent subjugation of all non-Muslims, oppression of women, obsolete traditions in direct conflict with modern human rights in all modern Western nations in relation to restrictions to women and indoctrination of violent political ideologies that are connected to the political teachings of Muhammad, mostly found in the sharia. Thus, the constant links between extremist groups promoting violence and major governments in the Middle-East with Islam as the main religious faith are a constant topic among cultured circles. Most Muslims however are similar in many ways, even on the borders of Europe, in Turkey similar to Saudi Arabia, most adhere and believe in the same ideology that Islam and the Sharia promotes and teaches, unsurprisingly many Islamic scholars too have turned out to have very dangerous views on Islam’s war on non-Islamic civilisations and non-Muslims. The Caliph claim was made in Istanbul by the Ottoman Sultan, or supreme head of all Sunni Muslims (Sunnis). The Shia form of Islam (Shiites) was ultimately associated and identified with the Safavid Sultans in Iran.

In Tibet, where Buddhism had been flourishing, monastic donations and a huge increase in the number of dedicated monks subsequently gave monastic cultural leaders who were regarded as the incarnations of the Buddha, such as the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, ruling powers in their country. In China and Japan situations differed, as instead, religious beliefs tended to reinforce loyalty to the ruler; in China for example, Buddhism, and more particularly, Confucianism, taught civic virtues which were also taught by Buddhism and Shinto in Japan.

The Reformation

When the payments of annates to Rome was abolished by Henry VIII of England as he denied the authority of the pope upon proclaiming himself supreme head of the Church of England (1534) to further supress the monasteries, the new King was simply carrying to extremes the true traditions of his predecessors across Europe. Divine Right Kingship, that was what Henry’s Reformation was essentially, an assertion of complete power and trust in his legitimacy as an extension of God’s ministry. It is worthy to note that Henry VIII would deal as harshly as advocates of Lutheranism as with those who supported the pope as he had no doctrinal differences with Rome, he simply believed in the King as the only vice-regent of God on earth. The Reformation and Counter-Reformation revived the influence and power of religion in the domestic and international socio-cultural debates of the Western world, and for the time, turning the concept of a purely ‘secular’ power completely unconceivable and unthinkable. Yet, as the years went by the intended and expected clashes reached unprecedented heights as a result of competition between religious factions.

The wars that religion brought to humankind

In the Western Christian world, the wars of religion quickly turned into a common phenomenon or justification to shed blood and die for, and they were all based on the firm religious belief that the opposing religious civilisation had no claim to existence and even more importantly should not have any jurisdiction let alone religious or cultural control over some very specific geographical points, as these were believed to have specific powers that could be manipulated for socio-cultural advantages, for example, the ‘crusade’ against the Albigenses in Southern France was simply justified as the French crown simply trying to extend its power. The movements known to most historians as ‘The Crusades’ were in fact directed against the Islamic Middle East who had been subjugating Western Europe & Christians for hundreds of years through deadly wars where many Christian women were raped, tortured and turned into sexual slaves while many Christian leaders were beheaded others forced into Islam. Religious motives in 16c and 17c even led to violence against fellow Western Christians, and as the years went wars were endless, reaching lethal genocidal levels where whole civilisations were wiped out – the remaining joining, converting to or being enslaved by the dominant [a seemingly ruthless spectacle where the cycle of evolution may have simply been the driving force among societies who were less sophisticated and more primal – or in touch with their aggressive instincts in matters of survival and conquest].

Even with all the death in the name of religion, societal events did not persuade the current societies to perceive a possible atheistic lifestyle or system; and this endured even late in the 17c. However, private and secret groups such as ‘The Family of Love’ (of whose members many were close to Philip II of Spain, a leading figure of the Counter-Reformation) had started to spread the seeds of doubts over the particular motive and purpose of having to identity state power and dogmatic religious beliefs and traditions.

An Enlightened, educated and revolutionary civilisation

The only faith with intellectuals who stood with reason without showing any preference for any other school of thought, particularly religious ones, were Christians of the Western world in Europe and it began in the 18c where the term secularisation could only be discussed in European-derived state systems. The practice of secularisation started by individuals who originally came from different schools of thought and were seeking to be guided by a more stable doctrine than religion or traditions. Others like Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, were dedicated Christians who disagreed with the state being the authority for moral policing or to conscience regulation [quite a perceptive stance judging the questionable reputation and credibility – in terms of morals and ethics – of practitioners of the obsolete discipline that is today still termed ‘politics’]. Even more curiously, the reasoning and avant-garde [at the time] clergy of the Church of Scotland agreed, and set their focus on the barbaric violence of the 17c religious wars as a blasphemous parody of Christianity. Furthermore, the growing movement fuelled and guided by the scientific and intellectual developments of the late 17c and the spirit of the Enlightenment remained sceptical about religion and its revelations, even Voltaire was a deist.

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Religious Scale by GDP per capita

The Cult of Reason was further sponsored as a replacement for Christianity when the Jacobins under Robespierre came to power in France, suggesting that the Gregorian calendar be replaced by a revolutionary and republican one where the year 1783 would be the Year 1. As the era developed, the first ‘secular’ state in the Christian West became the federal government of the USA after 1783, a reason somehow that may have been more due to the lack of options as the foundation of the society in the states was mainly composed of immigrants deeply divided by religion where many were persecuted and faced death in the countries they were escaping from who back in those times had no peace keeping military conventions to protect or sanction the State on the grounds of human rights.

Corruption at the top was also very much present as it still is today in politics in most non-Western societies, especially in Islamic territory where many States are strictly combined with the doctrines of Islam and its violent religious law, sharia, leading to many cases of State connections to extremist terrorists operating under the guise of Islam to protect and propagate the Islamic way of life and eventually subjugate all non-Muslims[with techniques used to abuse diplomacy and the dangerous concept of ‘political correctness’ to slowly infiltrate the law and system of other Western economies to prepare and push for Islamic doctrines to be applied on Western soil]. A situation getting worse today, as obsolete politicians lack the knowledge and education to understand and cope with the techniques of Political Islam which has long been the topic of Dr. Bill Warner’s work – to protect and prevent the atavistic and dangerous Islamisation of the West.

Logically, it seems obvious to most that 3rd world traditions would clash with First World values and individualism and today, many intellectuals and growing movements are beginning to support the complete separation of religious traditions and cultures through geographical relocation and diplomatic arrangement between States of various nations to work on solutions at the source and on location and completely stop the unsustainable and clearly abused systems of refugee relocation as Western societies are at their limits with major socio-cultural clashes and disruptions to First world national communities sparking major concerns over the security of women, children and the vulnerable older people faced with 3rd world migrants with a completely different school of thought, crowding many Western cities and locations where the never-ending clash of values, education, philosophy, language and culture seem to leave authorities contemplating at the only solution that may come with radical policies to preserve the socio-cultural make up and identity of their nations in the face of a destabilizing overgrowth of population from African and the 3rd world Islamic territories and the failure of Western States to adopt appropriate and if necessary tough measures to alleviate and balance the situation while securing their own systems and providing security for their people against socio-economic and cultural degradation.

The 19c

After the final defeat of Napoleon I at the end of the 18c, the conservative climate that followed led to the Catholic Church regaining a lot of credibility that it had lost and the identification and association of Church and State was seen by many intellectuals and movements of the Enlightenment as a bulwark against freedom and revolution. This resulted to the developing climate where bourgeois liberalism rose due to its tendency towards anticlericalism and its strong belief in a new system with a secular state with no sectarian affiliations, based on the US federal model.

France saw the growing clashes over education between Church and State similar to most major Christian Western nations throughout the 19c. In 1829, the Test Act of 1673 was repealed, now not requiring holders of public office [including military officers and elected regional representatives in Parliament] to be active members of the Church of England. Eventually, reason also won in France where education became ‘compulsory, free and secular’ under the Third Republic after a series of acts passed between 1878 and 1886 with Jules Ferry as the main agitator to spearhead the change. Other economies in South America such as Mexico, with an established and influential colonial Church saw that post-independence liberal views tended to demand secularisation of the State.

As the 19c century was ending, secularism and anticlericalism grew in strength and supporters in many nations of the modern world spectated a rise of different branches of « Socialist » influenced movements.

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For example, the late American George L. Rockwell initiated a National Socialist movement in the US, and even gave some brave speeches about Jews and Negroes at Brown University & embraced the derogatory term « NAZI » for its shock value. Although the American agitator clearly drifted far from the refined version of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialism, which initially emphasised strong moral/ethical philosophies, shared communal values at every level of society & synchronised psychosocial unity, Rockwell’s version of National Socialism seemed more appropriately adjusted to the industrialised society of America, focusing on the identity of the average hardworking American citizen and his/her relationship to the unscrupulous economic model that is at the foundation of the « Wild West », i.e. the USA.

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Photo: American Workers

Rockwell remains one of the only US public figures to have proposed a straightforward, practical & ethical direction in finding a harmonious solution to the Negro population problems affecting the US (which is now along with other foreign populations growing faster than the original white US population). George Lincoln Rockwell‘s vision matched that of the prominent visionary & avant-garde Black nationalist, Marcus M. Garvey, who founded the Pan-Africanism movement, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the African Communities League (ACL).

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Marcus M. Garvey, Jr. (1887 – 1940)

Garvey also founded the Black Star Line, a shipping and passenger line which promoted the return of the African people to their ancestral lands. « Garveyism » wanted all people of Black African ancestry to « redeem » the nations of Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave the African continent. Marcus Garvey’s essential ideas about Africa were stated in an editorial in « Negro World » entitled « African Fundamentalism« , where he wrote: « Our [negroes] union must know no clime, boundary, or nationality… »

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Unknown Painting of a Negro man

Darwinism and National Socialism  gave society an explanation of human rights and human history, and a model for progress where religion was not vital [but optional] and thus not a major concern. In France, the Dreyfus Affair united all the radical progressive elements and the leftist movements in French society against the then major section of the Right: the Catholic Right. The separation of Church and State finally happened in 1905.

The 20c

During the USSR right after the Russian Revolution, the development of socialist-inspired secularism could be seen in their secular state; however, the lack of vision, philosophy and fine management eventually led to its downfall.

One of the most innovative and stunning secular changes in the Muslim world came from Turkey’s founder who believed in secular western systematisation, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who in a revolutionary wave abolished the Sultanate and in 1924 abolished the office of the Caliph, the former spiritual head of the Ottoman Empire. Ataturk continued this avant-garde wave of secular changes by closing down all religious schools in Istanbul, and removed the Minister for Religion from the cabinet. Even more confidently, among the changes the modern and westernising founder made was the repealing of the provision in Turkish constitution that made Islam the state religion. From then, deputies would cease to take oaths in the name of Allah, but instead made a secular affirmation. However today with Turkish national representatives such as Recep Erdogan, the forward-thinking, productive and modernising changes of Ataturk have all been reversed and ruined by Erdogan’s atavistic policies that are oriented towards the Islamisation of the whole system and has even been linked and found to be unresponsive towards major anti-Western Islamic Jihadists who spread terror and violence across Western societies without any disregard for children. The retrograde and deluded Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel has also played a major part in the Islamisation of Western Europe by successfully being manipulated by Islamic territories’ humanitarian departments to take in excessive numbers of Muslim refugees [by the millions] for resettlement which have mainly been healthy Muslim males with no other objectives but to find support on the welfare systems of the West while also contributing in the Islamic doctrines that promote migration [hijra] in the name of Allah for the process of Jihad [which is a process that involves multiple techniques to subjugate all non-Muslim societies to gradually allow Islam’s doctrines to take over], in the ongoing war for the Islamisation of the West. This continued clash of values makes the secularisation of Turkey by Ataturk particularly striking since Islam’s ideologies continue to control most indoctrinated minds in the vast Islamic territory that continues to promote 3rd world ideologies and show firm stance against secularisation in Muslim countries and perhaps even more shockingly, in some parts of the West where urban and uncultured low-skilled Muslim communities have amassed – a known recruiting field for many extremist Middle-East groups such as ISIS [Daech, Islamic State] and a known breeding place for rapists who in many cases justify their heinous acts as religiously valid, being the teachings of Muhammad on the treatment of non-Muslims, who are deemed spiritually ‘inferior’ beings similarly to the teachings of Judaism where all non-Jews are believed to be inferior, destined to serve the Jewry and are completely disposable, perhaps more shockingly: non-Jews should even be killed. These two 3rd world religions have doctrines of behaviour towards other groups that are rooted in hate and violence. Hence, the early expulsion of the Jewish communities globally much before the Nazi regime or any of its founders were even born. A practice known as holocaust done in the name of the Jewish god Baal, involved sacrificing young male babies was hated by many non-Jewish intellectuals and societies throughout Western history. However, today the atavistic process that should have been inexistent or even annihilated, is ironically happening to modern societies at the verge of being completely secularised after their independence such as in the West: the process of Islamisation. Islamisation of the West which was founded and evolved on Christian values, and famous deist intellectuals such as Voltaire who placed reason before irrational claims of God [although not denying the existence of powers that may be Godly], are being forced into accepting millions of Muslim refugees known to be part of the process of Islamisation linked to major extremist and pro-Muslim association such as the Muslim Brotherhood [a group heavily linked with Barack Obama] who have links to the extreme left leaning seats in the United Nations. These dangerous extreme-left [not socialist] movements with religious affiliations have been finding ways to loosen the security of the West’s defence to infiltrate the ideologies of Islam through the process of cultural Jihad, which involves using techniques such as diplomacy, and twisting arms with the unscrupulous use of ‘political correctness’ to further the purpose of Islam, aided by the act of Taqqiya, which is promoted by Islamic ideology to deceive, lie and act in whatever way it may be required to promote Islam and eventually subjugate non-Islamic societies.

One of the most recent example of complete Islamisation is Iran in 1979 where the overthrow of Shad Muhammad Reza Pahlavi ushered in an Islamic republic. This seemingly Islamic ‘success’ in the Iranian Revolution led to Islamic Fundamentalists in other undeveloped economies such as Pakistan, Egypt and Algeria to believe in their possible future, already being part of economies where governments make concessions to religious militants as they both are supporters of the ideology of Islam.

In some countries, many Islamic terrorists have justified their acts as populist alternatives to what they perceive as corrupt, dictatorial regimes that lack compassion and righteousness. Others have questioned righteousness from the perspective of Islamic ideologies that involve beheading, mass terror and other inhuman practices on non-Muslims in the name of Allah as the teachings of Muhammad, a controversial prophet who consummated a marriage to a 6-year old when the latter was nine [even the practice and promotion of what most Western minds would perceive as paedophilia has seen a near complete silence from most authorities in the west for fear of repercussions such as accusations of racism, lack of political correctness or xenophobia, all forms of speech suppression that have started to raise more voices among many people who believe that Islamisation is incompatible, dangerous and unsustainable – massive causes of systematic socio-cultural and economic degradation].

Lhomme Papillon (1858)Caricature of Jules Didier by Claude Monet (1840 - 1926)

L’homme Papillon (Butterfly Man) / Caricature of Jules Didier by Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)

In order to move towards a system of management that includes government to replace the obsolete concept of politics and reinstate credibility in decision making based on reason and science, balanced with the right philosophy to fit the appropriate expectations at a given time, the mainstream mind set will have to accept reason as a more fitting compass to guide a civilised society instead of religion.

Although most [mentally sound individuals] should have the freedom to choose where to place their faith [religion, science, philosophy, etc], secularisation would at least ensure that the state balances its priorities appropriately without discriminating those who should be prioritised.

The State may initiate a workable but firm control over the appropriate influx of immigrants by specific religious groups to maintain and not discriminate the national cultural identity of the foundation [religion would simply be a part of culture and not a reigning authority synthesised with most departments of the state] while adapting to changes that socio-cultural economic developments and research lead to [however careful consideration over the purpose and benefits must remain of vital importance and focus].

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As the system of democracy still gives voices to the masses, it is also fair noting that majority votes do not decide or confirm the degree of righteousness in a particular thought or decision. In fact, majority debates in choice simply conclude the general ‘views on a specific topic’ of a particular group of human organisms from a particular geographical location on earth. In cases such as medicine, physics, chemistry and other science based studies majority votes lead to and mean nothing, in those disciplines only reason wins, with the conclusion based on logic. Certainly what a perfect secular state may include could be a decision making department that bases every decision based on the required concept that applies to it, i.e. for e.g. matters of professional disciplines could be approved by the required boards of professionals (by their field), and decisions on socio-cultural matters would benefit from public opinion, further matters of economy would be supervised by the board of economy, etc, and this may eventually lead to a system that relies on only democratic values and management, and hardly any politics [if regional representatives by area could have a better description].

The USA’s secular government has so far demonstrated to be far from perfect with major differences in opinion on a range of issues regarding military ethics during World War 2 where Eisenhower sadistically allowed thousands of Germans to die in starvation in his very own ‘death camps’, and other claims of secrecy with Churchill & Stalin in a German boycott along with the ongoing national socio-cultural conflicts with the Islamisation of the USA by the Obama regime – open promoters of Muslims and Islam in the West. The deistic Founding Fathers of the USA’s secular government would definitely be surprised at the influence of orthodox, evangelical Christianity of various kinds in the modern but over-liberal republic. Although it may if appropriate to consider the fact that secular states will somehow forever have religious roots, and while some may not be practising Christians, most of Western literature are full of biblical references. Major festivities such as Christmas have turned into a symbol of celebration and gifts for Western societies more than a religious observance, and it unites and benefits more than only Christians in many major societies of the West – especially economically for most businesses.

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Secularisation in everyday life in an increasingly post-Christian Europe

Nowadays most educated societies in the developed nations of the West are partially entrapped in the global economy and a great section of the people have looked for alternative context for their life, alternative ways to make rites of passage and more importantly other doctrines to be cultured and guided by, and the importance of religious dimensions in public and private life today has decreased considerably.

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Munich by Harry Schiffer

Major changes in Britain saw the 1836 Marriage Act which for the first time allowed marriages to be solemnised in Britain by other practices besides a religious ceremony. On 1 July 1837, six hundred district offices opened as the act came into force along with an ongoing set of necessary changes. By 1857, divorce was obtainable in the UK by other means than the Act of Parliament – although not easily and only when requested by husbands. These changes along with the liberalised attitude on legislations such as abortion has long been opposed by the Church however, especially in Catholic countries. Nowadays, the growing number of people relying less on religion as guide is ever increasing, notably in developed economies with decent education systems supported by the newly developed Internet of Tim Berners-Lee since the early 1990s. Thus, the knowledge of science has become more widespread, along with its application to modern culture – leading to a new orthodoxy.

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The triumphs of technology have also made life for the secular minds fairly comfortable and safe in the developed world [although a lot of work remains to be done at the systematic level regarding economic policies, socio-cultural and philosophical beliefs and directions in some atavistic States of the West to counter the now dangerously increasing waves of Islamisation].

Perhaps a painful reality to most of those raised in a sophisticated science-oriented philosophical circle, or tutored with a conservative education but a liberal outlook from the West or Western derived systems, or in the ever more secular societies of the UK, France and Western Europe, is that so far we are the ‘minority’ and are seen as an ‘exception’ when compared with the majority in terms of humans living on earth globally.

That may send visions of the inundation of migrants from poorly managed nations of the 3rd world Middle-East and Africa who also play a major part on the low socio-economic birth rate explosion and consequent socio-cultural burden on global humanitarian budgets expected to cause major economic and socio-cultural unrest for the West in the coming future if situations do not change. Sadly for the secular intellectuals today is the fact that in most lesser developed societies of the world, the great religions, the smaller ones, and a series of traditional beliefs [some as illogical and ridiculous to reason or intelligence] continue to give a reason to live and subsequently meaning to the lives of many communities who are born and live in a completely different psycho-social reality fused with religious beliefs of ancient cultures [specially in the 3rd world and/or Islamic territories].

The progressive & ethical solution to deal with the alarming situation

Since, engineering environmentally also applies to the human organism, maximising the potential of humans according to their best environmental (socio-cultural) fit would seem like the most globally progressive philosophy. However, engineering our planet in terms of human abilities would also side with relocating populations to alleviate their own stress caused by incompatibility in terms of culture, language, identity and skills – a process that goes in line with evolutionary logic, but also fosters a harmonious human ecosystem with less tension, thus less stress [mental health & health].

RichardDawkinsEvolution

Cooperation on matters beneficial for both states would be achieved from synchronised work from respective locations [e.g. nature, environment, climate change, business, etc]. This would alleviate systems that lack stability due to massive population imbalance and socio-cultural conflicts caused majorly by uncontrolled geographical shifts and the birth rates that follow, leading to ‘organisms’ [from an objective perspective] that do not ‘identify’ with the system that they were born into, but see themselves as part of an ‘external system and its school of thought’, who mostly earn and live to promote the latter system and flood the current one with further external and incompatible organisms.

This continuous unregulated & unsustainable process of mass-migration & mass low-SES births add to the ongoing burden of socio-cultural conflict and economic degradation due to the sole motivating factor being foreign interest [mostly 3rd world & developing economies] in economic resources from Western systems while remaining ‘foreign’ and indifferent to public/civic expectations socio-culturally [due to a lack of linguistic proficiency and other low-SES complications such as quality education, linguistic acculturation, etc]. Such issues in uncontrollable amounts that reflect in most aspects of a society have shown to lead to systemic instability, fragmentation and low social-cohesion mostly linked to differences in belief systems created by heritage or indoctrination of beliefs from incompatible systems through exposure.

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Top Minority Languages by Country

mostusefulforeignlanguageforpersonaldevelopment

Foreign Language people consider the most useful for Personal Development

Once more, from an objective perspective and through the humble logic of observation, any system from any part of the world would face degradation with excessive sections of their population not focused in contributing in its protection, promotion, strength and stability – a simple matter of factual reasoning, an e.g. of such a statement would be « If an egg is released from a metre on hard floor, it will fall and break. ».  With geographical engineering, it seems to simply be a matter of re-assessing and replacing  ‘organic units’ with ones that are reliable in terms of stability, compatibility and long term development [experience] – a clear example of progressive innovation. A simple case of synthesising the knowledge gained from science and applying its philosophy to prevent further catastrophes while correcting the dangerous path of the present.

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regionalpopulationchangeforecast

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Exposition Victor Hugo - une exposition sur Victor-Hugo

« History has for sewers times like ours. » -Victor Hugo

PublicTrustInGovernmentUK

A New Era for Management may be near: UK & France rank low for trust in government

Updated: 24th of September, 2018 | Danny J. D’Purb | DPURB.com

***

Reference

Lenman, B. and Marsden, H. (2005). Chambers dictionary of world history. Edinburgh: Chambers.

____________________________________________________

While the aim of the community at dpurb.com has  been & will always be to focus on a modern & progressive culture, human progress, scientific research, philosophical advancement & a future in harmony with our natural environment; the tireless efforts in researching & providing our valued audience the latest & finest information in various fields unfortunately takes its toll on our very human admins, who along with the time sacrificed & the pleasure of contributing in advancing our world through sensitive discussions & progressive ideas, have to deal with the stresses that test even the toughest of minds. Your valued support would ensure our work remains at its standards and remind our admins that their efforts are appreciated while also allowing you to take pride in our journey towards an enlightened human civilization. Your support would benefit a cause that focuses on mankind, current & future generations.

Thank you once again for your time.

Please feel free to support us by considering a donation.

Sincerely,

The Team @ dpurb.com

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Essay // History of Psychology: The British Empiricist School of Philosophy

The problem of tackling psychology as a reliable form of science has lead to the empiristic school, which holds for guiding thought, the assumption that all knowledge is acquired through sensation – with the mechanism of this acquisition being gained through the process of association. This empirical movement persisted throughout British tradition, one which would focus on the accumulation of experiences; where many empiricists studied the relationship between the sensory input of experience and the mental processes. As Cartesian dualism later took the shape of sensationalism and influenced French philosophy; the early issues proposed by Descartes also lead to the formulation of British psychological opinion.

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Francis Bacon // Photo // Credit akg-images/Sothebys

Francis Bacon (1561-1636) in his scholar days had set a target to restructure the techniques of scientific research. Francis Bacon concluded that deductive logical reasoning would not hold reliable validity due to its reliance on priori assumptions on the nature of humanity, which – according to him – limited the study of individuals in the environment due to reliance on the unfounded legitimacy of the assumptions.

In his work Novum Organum (A New Instrument; 1620), Bacon’s urge for better situations to study the world was reflected; he believed only detailed and controlled observation without assumptions about the world could lead to quality observations expressed quantitatively, and where sensitive generalisations could be made from inductive reasoning and practical observations.

Firstly, Bacon stated that sense validation of quantitative observational data would be a source of agreement among psychological scientists where observations could be repeated and supported by another, leading to more a compelling validity for the findings.

Secondly, Bacon stated that scientists would have to get rid of all personal bias and be sceptical and refuse assumptions that cannot be validated through observation. This led to Bacon’s empiricism being seen as a reliable approach which became a guiding thought in the British empiricistic tradition.

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Thomas Hobbes // Photo Credit: Georgios Kollidas | Shutterstock

One of the earliest scholars and philosophers, Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) had shared radical views on psychology and may well have started the British empiricist tradition. Hobbes was fortunate through his time to be acquainted to Galileo and Descartes while also briefly serving as secretary to Francis Bacon. Hobbes established a principle where it is assumed that all knowledge is derived from sensations; while discarding the existence of external or internal factors but only considering matter and motion. Thus, firmly basing his psychology on materialism.

The sensations were believed to be reduced to motion in the form of change. For example, one would differentiate light from dark, but may not deduce either alone. Furthermore, Hobbes opposed Bacon’s reliance on inductive research, but instead supported the argument that deduction from experience would be a most appropriate method of knowing. Hobbes school of thought supported the Social Contract Theory where the framework assumes that sensations are derived from physical objects in the environment; to use the rule of mechanical association to derive ideas and memories.

For Hobbes & successors following the British tradition, it is assumed that knowledge is mentally acquired through associations that are organised into general principles that are usually mechanical in nature. These provide explanation for the formation of relationships between sensations. To Hobbes, the association of sensations forming an idea was provided by the contiguity of time or place; which is then stored in the memory by the mind where an association mechanism determines the sequence of ideas defined as “thought”. Desire was also believed to be the motivational principle in Hobbes’s psychology, where the quest for pleasure while avoiding pain was believed to be attained by physiological processes.

Based on external sensation, desire is thought to direct thought sequences where it was also argued that dreams are thought sequences unregulated by sensations. For Hobbes, free will was inexistent, as he viewed it as a label for alternating desire and aversion confronting the person in regards to a physical object in the environment. Hobbe’s psychology viewed the universe as a machine in motion where the individual is compared to a machine operating in a mechanised environment.

The mind is considered to be a physical process centered in the brain where the conversion of sensory motion is performed by the nervous system. One of the major criticisms remains the discarding of consciousness where the sequence of thought also assumes a conscious awareness of cognitive content. Despite the criticism however, Hobbes established the importance of association in comprehending the collection of experiences and his theory paved the way for other successors in the British tradition to amplify the empiricist position.

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John Locke

More inclined towards the Rational Empiricism line of thinking, another major leader in empiricism was John Locke (1632 – 1704), who believed that individual abilities are determined by experience or environment where the only government is by the acceptance of the governed. His views influenced some of the founding fathers of the American Republic, namely Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison.

Locke’s belief were that we are born with a mind like a tabula rasa, or blank slate where all experiences are engraved throughout life to compose the complete contents of the mind. Furthermore, in his essay, “Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690)”, Hobbes’ first principle was extended where Locke stated “Nihil est in intellectu nisi quod prius fuerit in sensu – There is nothing in the mind that was not first in the senses.” Locke also believed that all knowledge, including concepts of morality or god is derived through experience. The difference between sensations, which are physical and perceptions, which are the reflected products of sensations was established; “ideas” were attributed to sensations through self-reflection.

Physical objects were also believed to have 2 qualities. Firstly, primary, which entailed the properties of the object such as volume, length, number, etc; while the secondary is believed to be produced by us in the process of perceiving (e.g. sounds, colours, etc). One major dilemma remains the fact that Locke’s empiricism has definite need for the concept of mind, yet the concept can be characterised as passive as discarding innate ideas along with the reliability on sensory ideas leads to the mind’s ability to react to the environment being limited. However, one argument that embraces the human spirit is Locke’s which allocates two tasks to the mind. Firstly, although not embracing associations as strongly as Hobbes, Locke believed the mind links together sensations to form perceptions through chance. These spontaneous linkages that are also association by chance are nowadays known as “superstitious reinforcement.” Secondly, in terms of reflection, Locke’s views are opposite to Hobbes’ positioning as the former believed the sensory level would only be slightly related to mental processes (reflection). Furthermore, Locke’s views were highly regarded and influential, with his psychology being described as rational empiricism as he successfully imposed the requirement for the mind while removing the implications of God. Locke’s environmental determinacy provided the foundation for the rest of the British empiricist movement.

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David Hume

Another respected early empiricist was David Hume (1711 – 1776), who agreed with the conclusion of George Berkeley, a psychologist who was so fascinated by John Locke’s notion of mental perception that he had ended up denying reality besides acknowledging [controversially to many researchers] god in his works in his essay Towards a New Theory of Vision (1709). An associationist, Hume agreed on the conclusion of Berkeley over the assumption that, independent of perception, matter cannot be demonstrated; and further went on to deny the existence of the mind in A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) later updated to An Enquiry Concerning the Human Understanding (1748).

After embracing the premise that all ideas are ultimately derived sensation and accepting the difference between  primary and secondary qualities proposed by John Locke; Hume also concluded by defining the mind in terms of sensations and ideas, which in turned lead to denying matter similarly to Berkeley. However in his assumption it is logical as the mental world is only one the individual is knowledgeable of. By defining mind to only ongoing sensory & perceptual processes, the need for spiritual characteristics disappear. For mind, unlike Locke who defined it as the mental operations of reflection, it was defined as a transitory collection of impressions.

To Hume, even associations are the links of sensations formed by the randomness and similarity of events. Cause and effect were also inexistent for Hume as he insisted that all we have observed is a succession of events & we have simply imposed the cause-effect relationship from habit. After extending on Berkeley’s denial of matter, he discarded freewill and the Cartesian ideology of the mind, to instead propose the explanation of ideas as mental processes. Freewill to Hume is simply an idealistic concept taught to us by custom or religion, since it had been assumed that we are all determined by a momentary influx of sensory events.

All motivational behaviour was assumed to be directly linked to emotion or passion governed by the quest for pleasure without pain. The emotional states resulting from emotions are believed to be managed and acted upon by physiological mechanisms. This turned Hume approach reductionism, as he viewed human behaviour reactive and having little control of the environmental factors acting upon the organism; which seems to weaken the individual instead of empowering him or her. By identifying the mind as solely functional, Hume raised the question over the need for a mind construct.

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Thomas Reid // photo credit: Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

In the 18th century, the “Scottish Common Sense” marked a period of intellectual activity around the universities in Edinburgh & Glasgow where David Hume (1711 – 1776) played a major part in developing empiricism. Thomas Reid took the issue that led Berkeley and Hume to doubt and reductionism. Instead of acknowledging Locke’s distinction, he believed that objects are perceived directly but do not perceive sensations from the object.

He argued that primary quality justified belief in physical objects, and secondary qualities are not projections of the mind but mental judgement created by objects that cause a true interaction with mental operations. Common sense was also believed to be an instinctive part of a person’s constitution which has been taken for granted although the value has been continually showcased. Thomas Reid also viewed metaphysical discourses of Berkeley and Hume as “intellectual games.” Reid embraced the human essence by accepting that objects are present in reality but ideas require a mind contained in the self. Thus, empiricism had seemed to have been saved by Reid’s common sense, which also came with more realistic logic for the physical world.

David Hume however was rather atypical of the Scottish enlightenment being seemingly more fitting to the British tradition. As generally, most philosophers and literary contributors to the Scottish enlightenment were more independent of British thought perhaps as a reflection of the traditional link between Scotland and France or British politics of the time.

In the early days of  the development of empiricism, British empiricists presented psychology as one based on experience where sensory input was the main state of mind. The critical mechanism relating sensations to higher mental processes was associations. What may be defined as “learning” was a major focal point for early British psychology & the tendency to decrease such mental processes to simpler ideas was seen by Harley and Hume.

Reductionist has since proved to be a foundation in empirical research in many fields involving quantitative studies. However, such reductionism was met with scepticism by the French who thought the implications of draconian reduction eliminates the very need for psychology – simplicity? How simple could the human world be?

Although reductionism provides options to calculate statistical orientations and predictions, it seems less appropriate in application when dealing with the real human world where most problems are generally about the consequences of mismanaged emotions on perception, decision-making, expectancy and behaviour.

Furthermore, how much of a simple explanation could reductionist empiricism provide for the reason behind why one’s hairs stand up to certain symphonies judged exquisite only by a particular person? [Or] How does one even explain the source, initial spark and creative process behind an intricate work of art? Reductionism would likely falter on those more artistic and human paths where emotions [restrained & channelled appropriately] are key to the well-being, positive mental health and enjoyment of life [‘humane’ experience] for the individual & civilization [the human environment]. Reductionism, however, remains vital to the world of science; where precision and empirical measurements are required.

This may lead way for inquiries involving more humane & individualistic assessments; where psychotherapy and/or neuroscience could reveal and resolve more for individuals and researchers requiring more detail and precision with « mind » and neural processes – rather than « matter » [which is mostly obvious & may not always be related to the mind – which strict empiricists also discard].

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References / Sources

Bacon, F. (1978). Novum Organum. In The works of Francis Bacon (Vol. 1). Cambridge, MA: Hurd & Houghton

Berkeley, G. (1963) An essay towards a new theory of vision. In C. M. Turbayne (Ed.), Works on vision. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill

Brenan, J.F. (2014). History and Systems of Psychology (6th edn., pp.79-80). Essex: Pearson

Brenan, J.F. (2014). History and Systems of Psychology (6th edn., pp.110-124). Essex: Pearson

Hume, D. (1957). An enquiry concerning the human understanding (L.A. Selby-Bigge, Ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Locke, J. (1956). An essay concerning human understanding. Chicago: Henry Regnery

Studies

Armstrong, R.L. (1969). Cambridge Platonists and Locke on innate ideas. Journal of History of Ideas, 30, 187 – 202

Bricke, J (1974). Hume’s associationistic psychology. Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences, 10, 397-409

Brooks, G.P (1976). The faculty psychology of Thomas Reid. Journal of History of Behavioural Sciences, 12, 65-77

Miller, E.F. (1971). Hume’s contribution to behavioural science. Journal of History of the Behavioural Sciences, 6, 241-254

Moore-Russell, M. E. (1978). The philosopher and society: John Locke and the English Revolution. Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences, 14, 65-73

Robinson, D.N (1989). Thomas Reid and the Aberdeen years Common sense at the wiseclub. Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences, 25, 154-162

Smith, C. U. (1987). David Hartley’s Newtonian neuropsychology. Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences, 23, 123-136

22.04.2014 | Danny J. D’Purb | DPURB.com

____________________________________________________

While the aim of the community at dpurb.com has  been & will always be to focus on a modern & progressive culture, human progress, scientific research, philosophical advancement & a future in harmony with our natural environment; the tireless efforts in researching & providing our valued audience the latest & finest information in various fields unfortunately takes its toll on our very human admins, who along with the time sacrificed & the pleasure of contributing in advancing our world through sensitive discussions & progressive ideas, have to deal with the stresses that test even the toughest of minds. Your valued support would ensure our work remains at its standards and remind our admins that their efforts are appreciated while also allowing you to take pride in our journey towards an enlightened human civilization. Your support would benefit a cause that focuses on mankind, current & future generations.

Thank you once again for your time.

Please feel free to support us by considering a donation.

Sincerely,

The Team @ dpurb.com

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Essay // Literary Analysis: Dramatisation Through Characterisation | « Hard Times » (1854) by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’ Hard Times: « Have a heart that never hardens and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts. »

CDickens

Hard Times is Charles Dickens’s tenth novel and follows his tradition as a social critic. Published in 1854, the novel is set in the fictitious town of Coketown during the Victorian industrial revolution. The story revolves around the constant struggle between fact and fancy, while Dickens treats us with characters that are comically characterized in multiple descriptive aspects in a – sometimes satirical – criticism of the social and economic pressure of his time. The story shows the impact of rigid aspects of life (upbringing, choices, circumstances and conditioning) on the characters that Dickens introduces in very dramatic situations – with images and dialogues in perfect tandem to deliver the near magical (surreal) effect he is known for treating his readers to. We will explore and analyse some of the key moments where Dickens uses characterisation before and after the climax in the dramatisation of his story and theme. The characters of Louisa, Gradgrind and Stephen Blackpool will be focussed on while particular attention will also be given to the rebellion against the utilitarian upbringing of a strict father, the blind preaching of fact, and the sad fate of a hard-working man struggling with a heavy drinking wife along with other tribulations of life.

Louisa is introduced to us in book one, « Sowing », in Chapter 3, where she is caught peeping through the hole of a deal board by her father, Gradgrind. However, before the scene, we are introduced to Gradgrind and through Dicken’s physical portrayal of his character’s appearance, opinions and personality, we are dampened over the expected reaction of the strict father – especially over anything fancy – and in turn are more focussed on the reaction of the children. Louisa who will be focussed upon, is expected to have been fairly restrained throughout her upbringing; as before she is caught, Dickens gives an insight into the young Gradgrinds: “No little Gradgrind had ever seen a face in the moon; it was up in the moon before it could speak distinctly. No little Gradgrind had ever learnt the silly jingle, Twinkle, twinkle little star; how I wonder what you are! No little Gradgrind had ever known wonder on the subject, each little Gradgrind having at five years old dissected the Great Bear like a Professor Owen, and driven Charles’s Wain like a locomotive engine-driver”. (Dickens, 1995 p9)

While constantly following the theme of fact vs fancy, Charles Dickens uses a repetitive pattern with the “No little Gradgrind” adding a satiric sense which in turn adds to the feeling of mockery towards Gradgrind’s upbringing and his blind focus on facts. However, it also unveils early in the story, how the rigid conditioning of the hard man of facts was insufficient to completely smother Louisa’s inner sadness at not being able to enjoy the “fancy” side of life. Louisa described as “struggling through the dissatisfaction on her face, there was a light with nothing to rest upon, a file with nothing to burn, a starved imagination…” (Dickens, 1995 p11) comes as fairly expected in Dickens’ literature, while also giving us an insight in the children’s feelings; and judging from the outcome further in the story (where she nearly leaves Bounderby for James Harthouse), it tends to lead to the conclusion that the children have had to restrain so much (too much). Louisa’s short reply “Wanted to see what it was like” (Dickens, 1995 p11) gives us a hint about an air of rebelliousness about her character, a child eager to explore her emotions.

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Another character, Thomas Gradgrind, whose role is pivotal to the plot; is also subjected to Dickens mockery. “’Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts, Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!’” (Dickens, 1995 p3) Once again, the repetition and focus on “fact” through direct speech gives us a clear description of Gradgrind’s character; however, as the story opens with those lines, we are also exposed to further characterisation which comes in the form of very caricaturesque physical descriptions of the character: “The speaker’s square forefinger emphasised his observations by under scoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster’s sleeve. /…the speaker’s square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall.” (Dickens, 1995 p3) Both, the speech and the near surreal and comical physical description given by Dickens add to the dramatic effect accompanying Gradgrind as the story progresses. We are bound to tag these characteristics to his character from start to finish. Furthermore, the twist near the end is also dramatic, if not even slightly ironic, when the hard man of facts, Gradgrind is treated to his own medicine by Bitzer, who was brought up on facts and taught to operate according to self-interest.

In Chapter 8 on the 3rd book, « Garnering », we see an extreme shift in Gradgrind’s behaviour when his son, Tom, is found out for robbing Bounderby’s bank; and is also being prevented to leave the country by a product of Gradgrind’s very own school of thought: Bitzer. Unlikely to his character, Gradgrind’s faith in his own methods failed when his own flesh and blood’s safety and future was at stake. “’Bitzer,’ said Grandgrind, broken down, and miserably submissive to him, ‘have you a heart?’ ‘The circulation, sir’, returned Bitzer, smiling at the oddity of the question, ‘couldn’t be carried on without one. No man, sir, acquainted with the facts established by Harvey relating to the circulation of the blood, can doubt that I have a heart.’ ‘Is it accessible,’ cried Mr Gradgrind, ‘to any compassionate influence?’ (Dickens, 1995 p220)

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At this point, we are treated to further characterisation by Dickens, as Gradgrind’s deepest feelings are unveiled, and from the strong hard man of facts we had so far been accustomed to, to the man begging for mercy, Dickens set the tone for an unexpected turn of events in both the storyline and the change of “heart”. Furthermore, Bitzer’s response to Gradgrind is fairly satirical to us – if not darkly comedic – as his response is purely clinical and he answers in exactly the same way he answered Gradgrind at the very beginning of the story when he was asked to describe a horse: “’Girl number twenty unable to define a horse! /… ‘Girl number twenty possessed of no facts, in reference to one of the commonest of animals! Some boy’s definition of a horse. Bitzer, yours.’” (Dickens, 1995 p5) When Dickens creates the situation, Gradgrind’s dictatorial authority is showcased; his near religious bewilderment with facts is supported by Dickens’s comical characterisation, when the chapter is started with “Thomas Gradgrind, sir. A man of realities. A man of facts and calculations. A man who proceeds upon the principle that two and two are four, and nothing over, and who is not to be talked into allowing for anything over. /… with a rule and a pair of scales, and the multiplication table always in his pocket, sir, ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature, and tell you exactly what it comes to. /…You might hope to get some other nonsensical belief into the head of George Gradgrind, or Augustus… /…but not into the head of Thomas Gradgrind – no, sir!” (Dickens, 1995 p4). While we also find out the speech is usually delivered as an introduction to the public and friends. This unveils the utilitarian nature of Gradgrind and the type of model he sets for the children at his school; but it also points to the strict emotional suppression the latter lives by. The author here seems to have had the story planned, as such depth into the character of Gradgrind sets a strong image in the reader’s mind, and later (as mentioned earlier), the same Gradgrind – a man of facts – imploring the same Bitzer he (back in Chapter 2) who said “Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive…” (Dickens, 1995 p5) to the question Sissy Jupe failed to answer. Gradgrind by his actions made Bitzer look like a hero, the same Bitzer who would coldly choose to jail the former’s son; while humiliating Sissy Jupe, the one who would provide an escape route for Tom.

Dickens in his own style of narrative elicits a change of feeling and opinion towards the characters as the story progresses. The dramatic effect at the end is the unexpected turn of events when Gradgrind chooses the way of “fancy”, a line of thought he rigidly objected against throughout much of his life. We are left to spectate the soft side of a man who is initially portrayed as a strict utilitarian who disregards any kind of emotion, but only acts on the rational and the calculated. The way he reacts to Bitzer when the latter refuses to give in to emotions is near comical but elicits pity from us. We see the constant theme of fact vs fancy reoccurring, but this time with the sides reversed when a man’s own flesh and blood is at the centre of all gloomy proceedings.

The wedding of Louisa to Bounderby is also a union devoid of feelings, but based on rationality and status. Dickens throughout the book points to problems of society but never claims the solution to be at the other end.

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Stephen Blackpool, a man who had the choice to freely choose his partner is introduced in Chapter 10 of Book 1. Blackpool is introduced right after the author asserts his opinion about the hard working people of England. Once again, the tone and mood is set by the description of Coketown as an “ugly citadel” as we are placed in the set to feel the hardship Stephen Blackpool goes through as compared to the more affluent characters such as Bounderby and Gradgrind. The description of the “hands”, as the working class people of the times, is saddening with descriptions such as “lower creatures of the seashore, only hands and stomachs” (Dickens, 1995 p 50). This gives the feeling of Blackpool being used by the upper tier of society, and to soften our feelings for the character, Dickens goes on to explain how he looked older than his age, has had a hard life working in the factories and later we find out that he is subjected to the irrational behaviour of his alcoholic wife; a fruitless marriage that deteriorated. The combined misery of Blackpool sets an example of a good man totally mistreated by fate. The fact of not being able to be with Rachael (due to the marital limitations of the times), and dying horribly in the end. It seems like the imagery of the lower parts of town consuming the honest man that was Stephen Blackpool, as Dickens described the town as being “a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage.” (Dickens, 1995 p18) The negative characterisation of the industrialised city is also a clear indicator of one of the main subjects of Dickens’s disapproval.

The styles of characterisation in the building up of dramatic events is present throughout the novel, however Dickens keeps the debate of Fact vs Fancy as the main guiding thought. The characters are all presented as having their own dilemma to deal with no matter what their social rank and status, however, they are all placed meticulously and depicted precisely in Dickens’s style; which at times defies reality and pushes the audience towards the theatrical and/or the surreal; this works in synchronization with the characters actions and reactions, creating a well-balanced and well-paced plot where the themes of human deficiency – in actions mostly – is successfully portrayed along with interesting points such as fact vs fancy which remains unsolved, but leaves the audience in reflection – free to judge and relate to the characters flexibly and subjectively. Furthermore, the death of some of the « less appealing » characters along with some of the warmer ones, leads to a stale but thoughtful ending; with a near infinite number of morals over the « human » experience to ponder upon.

Bibliography

Main Source (Books/Textbooks):

Dickens. C (1995) Hard Times. Wordsworth Editions Limited, Hertfordshire (Click HERE to purchase from Amazon)

hardtimescover

22.04.2014 | Danny J. D’Purb | DPURB.com

____________________________________________________

While the aim of the community at dpurb.com has  been & will always be to focus on a modern & progressive culture, human progress, scientific research, philosophical advancement & a future in harmony with our natural environment; the tireless efforts in researching & providing our valued audience the latest & finest information in various fields unfortunately takes its toll on our very human admins, who along with the time sacrificed & the pleasure of contributing in advancing our world through sensitive discussions & progressive ideas, have to deal with the stresses that test even the toughest of minds. Your valued support would ensure our work remains at its standards and remind our admins that their efforts are appreciated while also allowing you to take pride in our journey towards an enlightened human civilization. Your support would benefit a cause that focuses on mankind, current & future generations.

Thank you once again for your time.

Please feel free to support us by considering a donation.

Sincerely,

The Team @ dpurb.com

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Climate Collapse & Human Extinction by 2030: It’s all started & it is REAL!

Climate Collapse Human Extinction 2030

The horrific truth about a reality fast approaching is being discussed, with facts from various experts who have been keeping a close eye on climate change over the last century.

If this video is deemed insufficient in raising awareness, then we are most probably doomed as primates on this planet, murdered by our own ignorance, stubbornness, indifference, and (I dare say it) sheer ignorant stupidity.

This is an issue that requires immediate attention. The simple observation that should get us all to react is:

FOSSIL FUELS ACCUMULATED OVER MILLIONS OF YEARS HAVE BEEN BURNT WITHIN A FEW CENTURIES. IT SEEMS LOGICAL THAT ITS EFFECT WAS GOING TO BE FELT IN A WAY OR ANOTHER.AND… THAT « WAY » IS GLOBAL WARMING and the increasing number of HORRIFIC and FLASH NATURAL CALAMITIES THAT HAVE TAKEN THE LIVES OF SO MANY UNSUSPECTING AND HELPLESS PEOPLE.

For once, we can all get together and move our people globally and help save our only habitat: PLANET EARTH.

This requires immediate attention from all of us: all the movers & shakers who take up space in the head & hearts of the masses (and more importantly), the younger generation.

It’s hard to imagine feeding most with a load of writing and statistic will work, but the power of ART has so far proven to reach and shatter barriers many other communicative techniques fail at.

WE NEED TO START TAKING ACTION NOW!!!!

We won’t see it coming, it’s a gradual process, until maybe [one fine day], waves mile high start swallowing entire cities within minutes. The rising temperature will also kill many organisms leading to the starvation of other species that feed on them [the circle of life].

05-24-human-extinction

It is vital that we start working towards GREEN ENERGY and COOL DOWN Planet EARTH together before it’s too late.

All of us, violets, purples, blacks , whites, greens, yellow, oranges, mauves (etc), presidents, prime ministers, dentists, footballers, singers, actors, taxi drivers, carpenters, architects, journalists, presenters, gym instructors, lecturers, kitchen workers, drivers, parents, fathers, mothers, teachers, cousins, nephews, everyone… humans made of flesh, who would love to see a future generation live, breathe, smile and ensure the healthy evolution of the human race.

goute_deau_planete_terrePLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES, WATCH & SHARE (And try not to forget it all over a some mind-crushing episodes of some insignificant sitcom, or a few glasses of wine with a friend, we will all disappear… UNLESS IMMINENT action is taken! Some think it’s already too late)

(My rashness at times might suggest my ever-growing concern over the matter – which I apologise for)

Guy McPherson is a Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology who chose to leave behind a life of academia and dedicate his work to saving our planet. However, his dedication alone will not suffice – we need to act, all of us RIGHT NOW.

(The video below should be more than sufficient in convincing any leader (political to educational), and each & everyone of us [that CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL AND SLOWLY EXTERMINATING LIFE ON PLANET EARTH, one species at a time]

(You can follow Guy McPherson on Twitter @Guy_McPherson or find out more about his writings and research through his website http://guymcpherson.com)

Should Guy McPherson’s video not sound convincing to the one’s who’d rather trust their « gut » instinct and feel that CLIMATE COLLAPSE is all a government scam to start generating tax money; or environmentalists are just a bunch of egomaniacs bent on proving a point; then the video below should clear all doubt.

The video below shows Daniel Crawford from the University of Minnesota who converted all the CLIMATE CHANGE DATA from the last 130 years (collected from NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies). The conversion into a musical piece reflects what Guy McPherson and most environmentalists have been saying (and urging/begging authorities to take note) for the last century: THAT WE ARE PUSHING THE PLANET TO THE LIMITS OF GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL COLLAPSE.

« I love my planet, and still have faith in humanity… »

And maybe it might be the struggle for survival that might unite us as the superior primates of earth and somehow incite us to re-evaluate the meaning (purpose) of existence. A lifetime well spent: What is it?

By now I should think most of us would be convinced about the urgency of addressing climate collapse, yet if some want words even deeper and « realer » than real, below you’ll find one of the most honest, touching and real essays one might find from a scientist. It’s one from Guy McPherson’s « heart » and a scientist’s heart has so far rarely been one to write poems or love songs; yet this essay will address life, nature, purpose and the environmental importance & reality…

OLRONLY LOVE REMAINS by Guy McPherson

Extract:

« Most people would say I’m not religious. I’m not spiritually religious, although I exhibit some behaviors in a religious manner. I refer to myself as a free-thinker, a skeptic, and occasionally an indifferent agnostic or a militant atheist. So the apparently spiritual title of this essay would seem out of character for those who know me. I’ll not wander down the road of… « [CLICK TO CONTINUE READING]

Updated 9th of December 2017 | Danny J. D’Purb | DPURB.com

____________________________________________________

While the aim of the community at dpurb.com has  been & will always be to focus on a modern & progressive culture, human progress, scientific research, philosophical advancement & a future in harmony with our natural environment; the tireless efforts in researching & providing our valued audience the latest & finest information in various fields unfortunately takes its toll on our very human admins, who along with the time sacrificed & the pleasure of contributing in advancing our world through sensitive discussions & progressive ideas, have to deal with the stresses that test even the toughest of minds. Your valued support would ensure our work remains at its standards and remind our admins that their efforts are appreciated while also allowing you to take pride in our journey towards an enlightened human civilization. Your support would benefit a cause that focuses on mankind, current & future generations.

Thank you once again for your time.

Please feel free to support us by considering a donation.

Sincerely,

The Team @ dpurb.com

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Essay // Moral Relativism: Aren’t we all entitled to an ugly opinion?

Ugly Opinion

No one system of morality is universal. But can we find a way to synchronize the world?

Educators believe the concept of right and wrong should be taught to children; yet, the concept itself has been challenged as to whose conception of right and wrong should be planted in the minds of the young. In this example, absolutists and relativist have been arguing the claim for choosing moral guidance. Could anyone (organisation or person) be entrusted as the arbitrator in morality? Is everyone meant to follow the same morals?

Ethical relativism is true per se – as no moral principles are valid for everyone. Anthropologists have made discoveries to back up the claim that different cultures have different practices and moral priorities and those which prevail in one does not necessarily have to be accepted in another. This argument tends to lean towards the descriptive explanation, where it is concluded that no one system of morality is universal; “what is believed to be morally good and bad differs from culture to culture” (Benn, 2006 p15) – meaning no system of moral is valid for everyone. Then, we have the normative side where codes of conduct could be assumed to be culturally determined. “Are certain things right for some cultures, but not for others – in the sense that the members of some cultures have certain obligations which members of other cultures do not have?” (Benn, 2006 p15) Ethical relativism, face another problem through other cynics who might claim that universal moral principles do exist. However, a major issue is raised here as the existence of such principles cannot be known; and the attempt to educate people morally comes across as an extreme act of arrogance when the educators would be people just as morally fallible as the rest.

The doctrine has also been questioned in its addition to most debates. Does it even make sense? If it is believed that one should follow the moral principles imposed culturally, that makes no point in arguing the validity of other cultures, as one would have to first see the culture as authority. But this would close the debate uninterestingly. Therefore we look at the argument of cultural diversity where ­it takes the truth of the statement “no one system of morality is universally valid”. This leads to conclude the underlying assumption that some beliefs are false. Why can’t some people be wrong about their morality however strongly the hold to their conviction? An example to back the logic used is in other fields of science where many professionals disagree among themselves. A case that goes against ethical relativity is where morality is questioned by the individuals within the culture (after the assumption that each culture should comply with their respective prevailing opinions and morals).

The argument however is more complicated as the logic behind acknowledging culturally imposed patterns as “right” is heavily scrutinized by the Argumentum ad Nazium. This states the example of the Nazi culture that was clearly mistaken about « some » moral principles such as genomics which disregards assimilation. Assuming, Germany had won World War II, and established Nazi values over Europe, the question of whether their values (human good emerges from conflict and domination) would then be deemed as good after they would have had settled as a culture seems conclusive. Surely, they would still be flawed in some aspects of their ideologies even if they had their own culture. The Nazi example seems enough to suggest the flaw with ethical relativism as the consequence of its applied doctrine here seems unacceptable. What ethical relativism seems to be promoting is tolerance; the idea of respecting the choice of one another. Is this acceptable? It could well be seen as confusion or moral cowardice when one is asked to withhold judgement from cases of extreme evil [e.g. some elements of Islam regarding all non-Muslims termed ‘kaffirs’].

wnr

Some locations have been imposing strict behavioural patterns (culture) on members of their respective groups with rules grounded on authoritarianism (e.g. some countries under strict Islamic rules). Such rules would surely leave the resident ethical relativist with a hard choice [if any] when expected to respect the other side’s approach to morality as a matter of giving every human being the freedom to choose their groups, sub-cultures, appearance & social patterns. However, these cultures have survived perfectly for generations [with dogmatism and other illiberal moral certainties] with a blossoming number of faithful living within the confines of their political boundaries – where they are allowed to so as long as the choices of other countries, groups & individuals are respected. By a similar rationale, it would be fair to assume that the owner of a house is free to set out the indoor decorations, furnitures and rules but would be deemed as fairly unreasonable should he try to impose rules in his neighbour’s home [who might prefer blinds to curtains, or Ribena over Pepsi].

Perhaps what ethical relativism is trying to elicit is toleration from all. Toleration has long been considered as morally virtuous. Yet, is it possible to be tolerant to others who strongly believe in “wrong”? So far, the only universally working derivative from the relativism debate seems to be toleration. The problems that confront ethical relativism remain debatable issues with no perfect solutions. However, a strong backup for toleration comes from Simon Blackburn’s article where it came as conclusive that some arguments are pointless – such as arguing about one’s art preference in a gallery. It might keep the debate calmer if people were to agree to differ. Or, maybe relativism is just a way of dealing with each other’s choices while still not in full agreement: tolerance. A similar example would be Piers Benn’s mention of colour preference; where relativism could not determine the “degree of pleasantness” to show which colour was “better”.

Gustave Cailleboteart - Fruit Displayed on a Stand 469

Gustave Caillebotte (Paris 1848 – Gennevilliers 1894), « Fruits à l’étalage« 

Ethical relativism is extremely important as it has elicited toleration from many while tackling hostility among parties. However, it does seem to fall short in terms of help and support when faced with irrational parties who consider their opinions and desires as the only valid agenda and outcome [dictatorship]. Apart from reminding the fact that as a matter of human decency, freedom of choice would seem a rightful entitlement to every human being of the 20th century living on a modern and civilised planet. According to Kantians [Immanuel Kant’s adepts], the sole motivating factor for someone’s action should be reason, and should issue from their own rational deliberations.

Moral relativism’s addition to the issues on morality seem vague, as – assuming that moral judgements are judgements of personal taste, like one’s preference for  a certain colour – it seems fair to conclude that one choice might be desirable for one but not for another. Yet, the logic of “good for one, bad for another”, can at times be misleading in morality. The example of the colour blind test mentioned by Piers Benn seems to deliver concrete proof of how relativism remains a questionable doctrine. Assuming red-green colour blindness was on the rise, the majority would likely quality the affected as “seeing things differently” and not less correctly. This logic however is flawed when applied in other circumstances such as: if half of the population had a disorder that affected their orientation and ability to size objects, they would surely be causing severe injuries to themselves and others; in that case they would be considered as “wrong”. The analogy of colour seems more fitting for morality. However, it still seems unlikely that the concept will work globally, as that analogy also completely cancels the idea of dispute [a hard outcome when human judgement clouded by selfish emotions influence particular individuals] – as this would entice that each culture is right in its own choice; a concept that could easily lead to the arms dealer’s nightmare and a peaceful civilisation.

The examples mentioned seem to bring ethical relativism to just a matter of adopting a tolerant attitude towards others; even if it goes against your beliefs as a human being. While relativism does not seem to add much to the main outcome, it does help parties cope with their differences with an element of fairness: accepting the fact that judgements of taste & lifestyle differs from person to person, and what may be deemed as ‘perfect’ to some may in fact be a torturous nightmare to others [others sometimes in direct genetic networks/bloodlines or culture/nationality/class/IQ,etc].

Drouais, Jean-Germain (French, 1763-1788)

Image: Jean-Germain Drouais (Paris 1763 – Rome 1788), « Marius Prisoner at Minturnes« 

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REFERENCES

Benn P. (2006) Ethics. pp1-29. Cornwall: TJ International Ltd

Blackburn S. (2002) Think Autumn. pp83-88

And a nod to Garo. A for sparking the question.

28.03.2013 | Danny J. D’Purb | DPURB.com

____________________________________________________

While the aim of the community at dpurb.com has  been & will always be to focus on a modern & progressive culture, human progress, scientific research, philosophical advancement & a future in harmony with our natural environment; the tireless efforts in researching & providing our valued audience the latest & finest information in various fields unfortunately takes its toll on our very human admins, who along with the time sacrificed & the pleasure of contributing in advancing our world through sensitive discussions & progressive ideas, have to deal with the stresses that test even the toughest of minds. Your valued support would ensure our work remains at its standards and remind our admins that their efforts are appreciated while also allowing you to take pride in our journey towards an enlightened human civilization. Your support would benefit a cause that focuses on mankind, current & future generations.

Thank you once again for your time.

Please feel free to support us by considering a donation.

Sincerely,

The Team @ dpurb.com

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