A Brief Lexicon of Some Commonly Used Philosophical TermsF.F. CENTORE
A PRIORI (prior to in time): That which comes before sense experience; that which does not require sense knowledge to be known as true. Cf. "armchair" mathematicians. E.g., I know a circle is round by definition, even if I had never seen a circle in my life.
ABSTRACTION (ab-trahere; to draw out): The mental concentration on one aspect of something while ignoring other aspects; contrasted with the whole, CONCRETE thing, e.g., sweetness - this orange; humanness - Sally. It does not necessarily entail or imply the actual division or separation of the different aspects of the thing as it exists outside of the mind.
ABSURD (ab-surdus; senseless): That which is self-contradictory, impossible, e.g., a square circle; hence, meaningless, ridiculous, irrational. In 20th c. phil. the term is often used by Atheistic Existentialists, such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, to refer to the human condition, i.e., the "absurd man" must learn to survive, without committing suicide, in a meaningless, de trop, world, one which hasn't come from anywhere and which is not going anywhere. The world and humans are "surds," things without any reason for being.
ACADEMIC FREEDOM The right to do research and teach in accordance with the standards of the institution you freely chose to join and by whose moral and intellectual principles you freely agreed to abide. Hence, IF both the individual and the leaders of the institution know what they are about in the first place, there-cannot be any-conflict between one's personal, conscience and the school. If such should arise due to a change on the part of the teacher, in good conscience the teacher should voluntarily leave.
AD HOMINEM (against the person): In logic, a pseudo-argument directed against some personal characteristic of the opponent rather than against the substance of the position. E.g., Einstein couldn't have been right; just look at the way he combed his hair!
AESTHETICS (aisthanesthai; to perceive by the senses): Theories concerning the nature, origins, and appreciation of the beautiful.
AGNOSTICISM (a-gnostos; unknown): In Latin, ignorance. Claiming that nothing is known concerning the answers to the ultimate questions of science, phil., theology, and life in general. Such knowledge is lacking now, but we may get it in the future. E.g., Darwin claimed that he didn't have any certain knowledge about the existence of God and human freedom.
ALIENATION (alius; other): In general, the withdrawing or removing of one thing from another; to be left out; estranged. In 19th c. phil., the "For-Itself" losing itself to the "In-Itself," which then comes to stand over in opposition against the "For-Itself." In Hegel, The Absolute Spirit (God) becoming other in the form of the Material world which is determined and mechanistic in accordance with the Newtonian laws of nature. In Marx, the workers losing their profits to the capitalists; their labor, which is the source of all wealth, is alienated from themselves. In Ludwig Feuerbach and Sigmund Freud, the projection of human father-figure traits into the heavens so as to produce God; the losing of human nature, which is real, to divine nature, which is unreal but which nevertheless, as an obsessional neurosis, stands in opposition to man. In Sartre, the human condition of the absolute, autonomous, free will (the For-Itself, non-being, nothingness) in opposition to the oppressive, inert world of physical matter (the In-Itself, being); inexplicably the In-Itself produces the For-Itself; being recoils against itself to produce the nothingness of human consciousness; it's me (my consciousness) against the world (including other people).
ALTRUISM (alter; the other): Showing an unselfish love for others.
ANALOGOUS USAGE In general, the same term has a meaning that's partially the same and partially different in different contexts; very common in ordinary language. E.g., tall man, ta;; tree; good flatworm, good husband; true diamond, true friend, true love; beautiful flower, beautiful building, beautiful person, etc.
ANALOGY (ana-logos; to say again): A ratio of one thing to another; a comparison; usually meaning that two things are the same in at least one respect even though there may be differences in other respects. Main types: ATTRIBUTION: The trait belongs to only one of the things being compared but is attributed by the mind to something else, e.g., only a whole organism is really healthy but we can also call vitamin C healthy because of its relationship to health in the body. GENUS, INEQUALITY: Both a man and a dog are animals; "animal" is the genus to which they both belong; we can compare them by pointing out this sameness. However, although they are equally animals they are not equal animals, i.e., man is superior to dog. IMPROPER PROPORTIONALITY: Literary devices and comparisons; "Pretty as a picture;" "The sunset was a great pool of blood lying on the horizon;" "My love is like a red, red rose...;" etc. This sort is very important in rhetoric, poetry, persuasive speech, etc., and can add a great deal of enjoyment to our lives, but is not so useful in science, phil., and theology. PROPER PROPORTIONALITY: The most important in phil. Here there is a strict proportion of proportions; the individual terms of one proportion are not proportionate to the individual terms of the other proportion, but the whole proportion between the terms on one side is proportionate to the whole proportion between the terms on the other side of the relationship. E.g., 3/6 = 5/10; the good for a flatworm is to the nature of a flatworm as the good for a human is to the nature of a human; knowledge in God is to the essence of God as knowledge in an angel is to the essence of an angel as knowledge in a human is to the essence of a human. 3 and 5 are different numbers; goodness and knowledge are different in each of the cases mentioned. Yet, even though the numerators and denominators are not the same, the proportion holds. What the sets have in common is the same relationship within each of the respective proportions. This is very important when it comes to reasoning by analogy in phil., especially in the Phil. of Being.
ANALYTIC STATEMENT (see A Priori).
ANGST (die Angst - German; mir 1st angst - I am afraid; anxiety, anguish): Term popularized by Heidegger; the human condition when Atheistic Existentialism takes hold and we become fully aware of the meaninglessness of life. Also known as Existential or Objectless Anxiety; state of being forlorn, lost; aimless; bored.
ANTHROPOMORPHISM (anthropos-morphos; human-shaped): Having human traits; attributing human traits to non-humans, such as to animals or to the gods.
APPEARANCE (ad-parere; to come forward and show yourself): That which shows itself in any way, either to the senses or to the mind. Cf. PHENOMENON (phainein; to show).
ARGUMENT (argos; white; arguere; to clarify): Words arranged in such a way so as to persuade somebody of something; a proof; to make clear by "spelling it out;" a reasoning process which goes from the truth of some given statements to the truth of some other statement(s). Either Deductive or Inductive.
ASSUMPTION (assumere; to take up): Something taken for granted without proof.
ATHEISM (a-theos; godless): A denial of God's existence; usually meaning the denial of the Judaeo-Christian God of the Bible.
ATOM (a-tomos; indivisible): The smallest possible unit of material reality. Atomism as a phil. of all reality was first developed by the ancient Greeks.
ATTACKING A STRAW MAN In logic, a faulty argument which misses the main point of something and instead of directing its rebuttal against the opponent's true point sets up a false point (a straw man) which it then proceeds to attack as if it were the true point. E.g., the traditional religious position on human nature and freedom is that we are free but that we also have a nature (essence) which sets limits to what we are capable of doing freely (e.g., we are not free to fly by flapping our arms). Someone such as Sartre, though, claims that having a positive essence necessarily determines all of our actions so that we are not free at all. But this is to sidestep the original position which was to be argued against.
AUTHENTICITY (authentikos; one who acts boldly, the master): In 20th c. phil., doing what, you want to do without making any excuses or giving any reasons; to be true to yourself by acting in opposition to others. Cf. Jean-Paul Sartre: "Hell is other people." Cf. his Being and Nothingness, III, 3, iii: "The essence of the relations between consciousnesses is not the Mitsein; it is conflict."
AUTHORITY (auctor; originator): The right to direct and rule; a moral power, not based on physical force, although force must often be used in practice. Presupposes the freedom of those commanded; only free beings can responsibly respond to an order. E.g., the difference between the government ordering the rain not to fall and ordering citizens to pay taxes.
AUTONOMOUS (auto-nomos; self-law): In 20th c. phil., being a law unto yourself; disregarding the needs of others if you want to and not feeling guilty about it; acting without any external guidelines, rules, objective measures of what's good and bad or right and wrong. "Doing your own thing."
AXIOM (axios; worthy): Something obvious enough to be taken for granted.
"BAD FAITH" In 20th c. phil., acting in a non-authentic and non-autonomous way.
BECOMING (becuman - Old English): Any motion or change; any process of passing from potency to act; any condition of being different from what something was before.
BEGGING THE QUESTION Assuming the truth of the thing to be proven; circular argument. E.g., you can tell the age of the rock strata from the fossils and we know the fossils are of a certain age because of the rock strata in which they are found; This is an IQ test. Yes but what is IQ? It is what the IQ test tests for. Sometimes it is called a vicious circle (vitium; corrupt, vice) because of its faultiness.
BEHAVIORISM In the 20th c., philosophical Reductionism applied to the study of humans. Developed by J.B. Watson and B.F. Skinner; adopted by A.J. Ayer.
BEING (esse; to be): That which is in any way whatsoever, whether in or out of the wind, whether actual or possible. A BEING: That which is in existence here and now in any way whatsoever.
BEING-FOR-ITSELF Terminology derived from Hegel. In Sartre (être-pour-soi), the nihilation of being within each human being; the basis for consciousness of the world and self-consciousness; that which stands out in opposition to being even though it is itself a creation of being; human nature.
BEING-IN-ITSELF Terminology derived from Hegel. In Sartre (être-en-soi), the non-conscious, inert, dead, inexplicable, physical nature world of being; the full world; the world without the admixture of nothingness; the world that simply is; what we will become at death.
BEING OF REASON In Latin: ens rationis; plural: entia rationis. Something which cannot exist outside the mind; it can have only mental existence; a logical being; a mental construct, but which nevertheless has a foundation in extramental reality. E.g., negations and privations - talking about something which isn't there; logical devices to deal with things as thought - abstractions, subjects and predicates in propositions, genera and species, etc. It does not refer to simply imaginative entities, e.g., a flying horse, or the numerous Hollywood creations. (see Intention)
CATEGORY (kata-agora; by the town square where people congregate): A more definite arrangement of things; a narrowing down of something broad and open; a classification; putting something into a class, group, set, type, sort, etc., as set of f from other groups, classes, etc.
CATHOLIC (kata-holos; oin with the whole): That which is universal and all-encompassing. Most usually used in The Roman Catholic Church: A universal religious organization with its HQ in Rome whose obligation it is to convey the message of Christ to all parts of the world until the end of time.
CAUSE (causa): That upon which something else is dependent for its existence; that which in any way influences the being or becoming of something; the reason for the exisence of something; the principle from which something flows. Aristotle's four main types of causes: MATERIAL: That out of which something is made; that which is in potency to become something else, e.g., the wood used in making a chair. AGENT or EFFICIENT: The real thing that works on the material to wake the thing, e.g., the carpenter. The agent cause must be a really existing thing; a possible carpenter cannot make anything. FORMAL: The form or nature of the thing made, e.g., it's a chair rather than a table, etc. In this case it is an artifact, and so the form is accidental to the material. In the case of a natural entity, such as a human being or an oak tree, the form would be essential. FINAL: The purpose, end, goal, or reason why the thing is made. In the case of a natural thing, the Formal Cause, once in existence, acts as an Agent Cause to produce the Final product, e.g., an acorn growing into an oak tree. Thus Aristotle can treat the last three causes as one cause in natural operations. Beware of pseudo-causes. Time, for instance, is not a cause of anything; it cannot heal any wounds or bring about the creation of a new species. How did you get from New York to Toronto? It took a long time. HOW did man develop from the apes? It took a long time.
CENSORSHIP (censere; to tax or assess costs): In common usage, always bad and incompatible with a free society; the unjustified suppression of public expression. But this should not be confused with the justified regulation of the popular media. E.g., the control of information in time of war; the suppression of hate literature or material degrading or exploiting people, such as pornography; the control of material inciting riots, violence, and sedition; copyright laws preventing one person from stealing the work of another; laws forbidding the telling of lies about people in public, etc. Also, in any decent society self-censorship is necessary.
CERTITUDE (certus; cernere; to sift out, to discern): The state of being certain and settled in one's view; a firm assent to an intelligible statement without any fear of error. To be really firm and complete (scientific) it must include a knowledge of the reasons why things are the way they are and could not be otherwise. Main types: METAPHYSICAL, MATHEMATICAL, ABSOLUTE: There is no possibility of error, e.g., 2 plus 2 is 4, a physical whole is always greater than any one of its parts or subdivisions, the diameter of a given circle is always shorter than its circumference, a world of physical things exists independently of the individual's own mind, etc. PHYSICAL: The ordinary and usual laws of nature, e.g., the laws of chemical interaction, motion, thermodynamics, aerodynamics, etc. Barring miracles, we can bet our lives on these certitudes- and do! MORAL, JURIDICAL: Beyond reasonable doubt; the ordinary kind in most societal interactions; all the evidence, from many different independent sources, all points to the same conclusion. E.g., when taking a bus downtown, it would be unreasonable to run up and down the aisle shouting that the bus was being captured by Martians. The denial of Moral Certitude is the most- usual basis for Hollywood spy movies, science fiction plots, adventure series, etc. The suspension of ordinary human expectations (i.e., being neurotic) greatly helps one's career as a novelist and screenwriter. (see Realism)
COMMON SENSE In general, knowing those things which are required in order to survive in a given society. This will vary from society to society in different parts of the world. E.g., those living in the Arctic need to know about 14 different kinds of snow; those living in London need to know not to run out into the street from between parked cars, etc. In phil., it refers to those truths known with certainty by all normal human beings, regardless of where they live. E.g., basic mathematics, the existence of the external world, that there's a difference between existential questions (Is it?) and essentialistic questions (What is it?), that water runs down hill, that what goes up (a rock, an arrow, a spear, etc.) comes down, etc. These certitudes can then be used as a basis for further philosophical and scientific reasoning.
COMMUNISM A 19th c. utopian political phil. based upon Hegel's doctrine of conflicting contradictories, but reduced to a two-part disjunction in which one side is all bad and the other side all good. In theory, the 19th c. capitalists would concentrate more and more power in themselves while the working class would become larger and larger and poorer and poorer. Finally a flash-point would be reached, revolution would break out, all capitalists would be destroyed, and the society, after a brief bloody and violent transition period, would be transformed into a new classless, stateless, godless Paradise on earth for all future generations. Abhors (in theory) God-Statism (Fascism, Nazism).
CONCEPT (concipere; to conceive in the womb): Something born within the mind; an IDEA, a "universal," that about which we invent languages, etc. Every idea we have is a universal in the sense that its content or meaning is something common to many different things in the world. E.g., the word "dog" in English stands for the concept of dogness, which applies to all possible dogs, whether past, present, or future. No concept can be identified with anything of a material or physical nature, such as the word "dog," or some particular picture or graphic image of a particular dog, etc. Since philosophers work with ideas, and since ideas are so special, they have always been of special interest to philosophers.
CONCLUSION (com - claudere; to close in): In logic, the end of a reasoning process; the final outcome of an argument. E.g., given that all people are mortal and that Sally is a person we conclude that Sally is mortal.
CONSERVATIVE (conservare; to preserve): In general, anyone who wants to maintain the status quo without any fundamental change or alteration. "Today's liberals are tomorrow' s conservatives."
CONTINGENT (com - tangere; to touch upon): That which need not be the case; something which could be otherwise; the accidental; something which just happens to be the case.
CONTRADICTION (contra - dicere; to speak against): In logic, the relationship between a universal proposition and a particular proposition differing in quality. E.g., All people are mortal - Some people are not mortal; No people are mortal - Some people are mortal. In general, any statement which denies a given statement in an immediate and direct way.
COSMOLOGY (kosmos-logos; explaining the cosmos): The General Science of Nature; the attempt to explain the natural universe of changing things in some general and comprehensive way. Common topics: Substance, change, chance, teleology, time. Cf. cosmonauts, cosmetics. Today the word is often used to mean astronomy.
CREATION EX NIHILO (creare; to make more): To create from nothing; creation strictly and properly speaking; possible only for a Supreme Being whose very essence is to exist.
DASEIN (there-being in German): Term for human nature derived from Hegel and popularized by Heidegger. Humans are the locus, medium, site, etc., wherein Being becomes aware of itself. Only in humans is Being there; otherwise it would be completely unknown and even "non - existent."
DEDUCTION (de - ducere; to lead away from): In logic, the process of starting from something more universal and coming down to something more particular; common in a priori reasoning; a desirable and strong form of reasoning because if the premises are true we can be sure that the conclusion will be true. E.g., all circles are round, this thing is a circle, and so this thing is round.
DEISM (deus; god): The doctrine that there indeed exists a God who created the universe and who punishes sinners, but in a highly "rationalized" sense; after setting things up God abandoned the world and us to the laws of nature; an absentee landlord; there is no Revelation nor authoritative Scripture and Church. Some famous deists: Many of the leaders of the American and French Revolutions; Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, maybe Darwin.
DETERMINISM (de - terminare; to set limits to): The doctrine that everything that happens, including apparently free decisions by humans, is really already decided by previous, unconscious, unfree events which cause things to go one way rather than some other way regardless of what we think about it; fatalism; a perfect knowledge of the causes would provide us with perfect predictability (the dream of science). Some famous determjnists: Darwin, Freud, Einstein, Bertrand Russell, B.F. Skinner, A.J. Ayer.
DIALECTIC (dia-legesthai; to converse): In Plato, phil. itself; the epitome of reasoning; the process of trying to reach a conclusion by examining all possibilities until the right one is found. In phil. since the early 19th c., a collision of contradictories producing some third thing which synthesizes them and then becomes itself a part of another conflict. In Georg Regel and Karl Marx, the fusion of Something and Nothing to give Becoming; in Fascism, the conflict of capitalists and workers to give the State.
DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM The theoretical foundation for the Communism of Marx and Engels; the doctrine that the only reality is the material universe, but that it necessarily progresses in a dialectical way, the results of which are various stages of development, i.e., non-life to life to animals to man to society to various economic systems to socialisms to Communism; a "scientific" dialectic, in contrast to Hegel's mystical spiritualistic process.
DISTINCTION (stigma; mark; dis - stinguere; different marks): The non-identity of one thing with another. Main types: SEPARATION: The physical arrangement of parts outside of parts, e.g., your pen is separate from your hand. VERBAL; Different names for one and the same thing, e.g., methanol, methyl alcohol, methyl hydrate, denatured alcohol, wood alcohol. LOGICAL, MENTAL, CONCEPTUAL, RATIONAL: The difference is only in the mind; outside the mind there is in fact no real differentiation, e.g., cat - mammal, dime - coin; in the extramental world every case of cat is also a case of mammal, every dime is a coin; in reality the two are the same; they are identical. REAL: Even though there is no separation of parts, outside the mind one aspect is really not the other; in one and the same unified being there is a non-identity of aspects, features, etc., e.g., your height and weight, the direction and velocity of a body in locomotion, the essence and existence of a being. Distinction should not be identified with separation; although every separation is a distinction it is not the case that every distinction is a separation. This is very important in the Phil. of Being.
DUALISM (dualis, duo; two): Most usually in phil. the view that the body and soul (psyche, mind, consciousness, etc.) cannot be reduced one to the other; i.e., both are factors in the explanation of human nature which possess some sort of reality of their own. Main types: MODERATE: In' Aristotle, the body and soul constitute a unity of one being in which the soul is the form of the substance; they can be distinguished but not separated. Variations are possible, e.g., Thomism, in which the body and soul form a unity based upon the existential act of the soul, so that it's possible for the soul to survive the breakdown of its body. EXTREME: In Plato and Descartes, the body and soul are two separate entities which do not form a unity; the soul is the real person; the body is simply a machine.
EGALITARIANISM (egalitaire; equality): An absolute equality of everyone in everything; the Prime Minister would have exactly the same rights, privileges, standard of living, etc., as the lowest street cleaner; males and females must be treated in exactly the same way, whether it's fighting in the army or having babies; a doctrine proposed by some modern revolutionaries and feminists; but quite impossible in practice.
EMPIRICISM (en - peiran; to try something for yourself): The doctrine that all knowledge must come through the senses; there are no INNATE IDEAS born within us that only require to be remembered. It is often carried to the extreme of saying that our concepts are only sense images or only the words we use to refer to things.
ENTITY (ens; being): Anything that exists, usually meaning as a natural unified substance.
EPICUREANISM An ancient Greek school of phil. founded by the Athenian Epicurus. Based upon a materialistic atomism, it taught that physical pleasures, adjusted to what can be reasonably expected in a particular time and place, constitute man's greatest good and happiness. One must live unknown, avoid pain and trouble, and calculate the pleasure and pain to be derived from a given activity, including interpersonal relations; produces a very conservative attitude because "rocking the boat" is sure to get you into trouble with the police. "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die" is really a distortion of this phil. The phil. of life actually practiced by most people in the world. Defended by the Roman Lucretius about the time of Christ.
EPISTEMOLOGY (episteme-logos; true and certain knowledge explained): The study of human knowledge; its origins, types, and dependability.
EQUALITY (aequus; on the same level): Everyone having the same basic worth and dignity before God, the law, and among other people; the same opportunities for success and advancement, though equality of results is not guaranteed. It does not mean that anyone can do anything anyone else can do, e.g., becoming a priest.
EQUIVOCATION (aequi - vox; with equal voice): Using the same term with entirely different meanings. E.g., a river bank, a bank for money; Fido and Kierkegaard are both Great Danes. Often the basis for puns and jokes.
ESSENCE (essentia; beingness, reality): Answers to the question, What is it? The definition of something. The NATURE as known. E.g., Fido and Rex are Great Danes; Sally and Sam are human beings.
ETHICS (ethos; habits): The ultimate practical knowledge; how to lead the good life in the good society; the norms of proper behavior for humans as humans, not as doing some particular Job, e.g., Street cleaning, computer programming, being the president of GM, being the Pope, etc. Ethics presupposes freedom on the part of the beings capable of acting ethically, e.g., humans. Things such as animals, plants, and minerals, which are not free in the sense of having the potential for free -choice, are not held responsible for their actions in any moral sense. Main subdivisions, following the six main institutions of all human soèieties: Phil. of Religion and Government (Political Phil.), Family, Education, Work, Recreation.
ETIOLOGY (aitia; cause): The study of the causes and origins of things.
EUDAEMONISM (eu-daimon; good demon or spirit): Living well; being attended by good fortune. In Aristotle, happiness as the ultimate result of a good life.
EVIDENCE (e-videre; clearly seen): The reasons for holding a certain view; the indicators of truth.
EVIL (yfel - Old English): The privation of something that a being should have or is due to it; the deviation from an ideal. E.g., with respect to humans, not having wings is not an evil. PHYSICAL EVIL: Starvation, blindness, being crippled; MORAL EVIL: Sin, turning away from God; SOCIAL EVIL: Being deprived of just treatment, not being able to receive a liberal education. Any talk of evil presupposes the existence of objective standards or ideals.
EVOLUTION (e-volvere; to unroll): Originally, the unrolling or unfolding of Divine Providence, which is why Charles Darwin avoided using the term. DARWINIAN EVOLUTION: The creation of new species by common descent with modification via natural selection. He could not reconcile evil and Providence and so sought to explain species without their being specially created by God. Starting from one very simple living thing each new individual would vary somewhat from all others. Those better able to survive in their given environments would go on to reproduce in larger numbers than the others (differential reproduction). In time, different looking, more complicated things would be seen, while many others died out. He was a firm believer in the overall progress and advancement of the biosphere. This has led to the widespread present-day attitude that anything novel is automatically better and superior to anything old; the common saying, "You're history," indicates that you are no longer of any importance or significance. Today, in common speech, evolution usually means simply a slow change, as opposed to a fast change (revolution).
EXISTENTIALISM (ex - sistere; to stand outside of its cause or source): In 20th c. phil., mainly the view of Sartre, emphasizing the Death of God, the For-Itself vs. the In-Itself, the autonomous will, anti-scientific determinism, anti-essences, and the need to avoid "bad faith;" usually identified with Atheistic Existentialism after 1946.
EXTRAMENTAL That which is outside of the mind.
FAITH (f ides, fidere; to trust, believe): To accept something as true based upon the testimony of another; to believe based upon the word of someone who is honest and knowledgeable. It does not mean based upon no evidence at all. For normal, rational humans, so called "blind faith" is not even possible. Most of our life is based upon faith in others, something emphasized by the Pragmatist William James. So is the academic discipline of history, our legal system, etc.
FALLACY (fallere; to deceive): In logic, a faulty reasoning process; an invalid argument. E.g., fish live in water, whales live in water, and so whales are fish; "More people buy brand x than any other brand" - if you complete the comparison you'll see that the statement, although true, is trivial.
FALSIFICATION PRINCIPLE In early 20th c. phil., the test for whether or not one was dealing with a scientific statement; if a statement could possibly be falsified by some sort of empirical evidence it was scientific, e.g., "There is water on the moon" can be falsified by actually searching the whole surface of the moon and finding no water. In later 20th c. phil., an attempted substitute for the VERIFICATION PRINCIPLE of the LOGICAL POSITIVISTS. Having failed to eliminate the meaningfulness of all non-scientific propositions by use of the Verification Principle they tried to extend the earlier use of the Falsification Principle to do the job. This also failed. E.g., "Al]. hydrogen is combustible" cannot be empirically verified but can be falsified; however, "All prayers to God are answered" can also be falsified, e.g., by praying for something and not getting it, and is thus a meaningful statement even though it is not taken from one of the physical sciences.
FASCISM (fascis; bundle of rods with an axe in the middle): A 20th c. political phil. based upon Hegel's conflicting contradictories in which both the capitalists and the workers are subsumed into a higher category, the State, which takes over the ownership, control, and direction of all the major institutions and all the major economic means of production in the society. Individuals are submerged in the collective, which it is their destiny to serve. The State becomes God. Abhors "atheistic" Communism. Fascism should not be confused with Nazism, or with old-fashioned dictatorships such as Caesar in Italy or Franco in Spain.
FORM That which specifies something as being this sort of thing rather than that; what is special to one thing as opposed to another; what identities something. For Plato the form of each type of thing possesses a separate and independent existence in a separate World of Ideas. For other philosophers the form is only one aspect of a thing existing here and now.
FORMAL That which makes something more specific; the angle from which something Is viewed or investigated. E.g., investigating the universe as changeable, in order to say what it means to change in a general way, is the formal object of the Phil. of Nature, as differentiated from a particular science such as physics which only looks at certain types of change. Also, being rational for human beings is formal relative to being an animal, i.e., our rationality makes us specifically to be what we are relative to animals.
FREE CHOICE The more proper name for freedom in human beings. An act of the will, based upon a knowledge of the attainable options, selecting one of two or more means leading to a known goal. E.g., assuming I judge that going out for lunch is good for me here and now, I can direct myself to actually realize one of several different possibilities.
FREEDOM (fri - Old High German): The absence of forced action. In much of 20th c. phil., the right to do whatever I feel like doing and/or can get away with. More usually, the feeling that you could have done otherwise if you wanted to. Some varieties: Freedom to refers to the potencies inherent in something, what It can do, e.g., water is free to run if it gets over the dam. Freedom from refers to the lack of social, political, and physical restraints, e.g., if there is no law against it I am free to go to church. Freedom for refers to the active process of seeking out some goal to be achieved and then going for it, e.g., trying to understand phil. better.
FREE WILL Generally a misnomer. In humans the will is the "rational appetite" - the inner movement of the human mind to acquire the good and avoid the evil. Broadly speaking it would include acts of des-ire, intention, consent, choice, love, hope, joy, hate, etc. Depending upon the nature of the thing (its form) its possible ways of behaving are fixed within certain limits. For humans our "soul hunger" or "spiritual appetite" is fixed on happiness. What constitutes fulfillment will differ from one type of thing to another. Fulfillment for a flatworm is not the same as for a horse, etc. Creatures are not free in this regard. Hence, to the extent that we are bound to strive, within bounds, for a fixed ultimate goal our will is not free. Only someone who does not understand human freedom would want to be as free as a bird. Yet we still have FREE CHOICE. Thus freedom does not mean a complete lack of determination, but SELF-DETERMINATION.
GENUS (genes; born; plural-genera): That which is common to two or more species; that which is common to species after the specific differences have been removed. E.g., within the class "animal" humans are distinguished from dogs by rationality; within the class "plane closed figure" triangles are distinguished from rectangles by having only three sides; "animal" and "plane closed figure" are the genera. What is true of the genus is true of the species but not vice versa.
GOD (Gott - German): The Supreme Being, the First Cause, the Initial Principle of everything, the Prime Mover, the Creator, the Author of Nature, the Perfect Being, the Last End, the Necessary Being. Many and various interpretations, including monotheism, polytheism, deism, pantheism, etc. In Judaeo-Christianity the proper name of God is YAHWEH, HE WHO IS, the one being whose very essence is to exist.
GOOD (guot - Old High German): That which is befitting and suitable to a particular type of thing or to a particular individual thing; that which something strives for; the object desired; the natural needs (not wants) of something; the fulfillment of a natural tendency inherent within something. E.g., having clean water to drink is good for humans. The existence of thirst points to the existence of water. Likewise, some philosophers argue that the existence of a desire for happiness points to the existence of God. Some varieties: The COMNON GOOD: That which is suitable to many simultaneously; the benefits can be shared equally by everyone. E.g., in political phil., laws protecting the right-to-life of everyone from natural conception to natural death guard each individual in society against abuse by anyone else. The INDIVIDUAL GOOD: That which benefits only one individual; that which cannot be shared by everyone equally. As with most key terms in phil., good" is usually used analogously; e.g., good cake, good book, good wife, etc.
HEDONISM (hedone; sense pleasure): A theory of morality which claims that the pleasures of the senses are sufficient for our complete happiness; in ancient Greece, defended by the Epicureans and vigorously criticized by Plato.
HERMENEUTICS (hermeneutikos, hermeneuein; to interpret, to let the meaning show itself): Derives from Kant's IDEALISM which claims that we can never know the Ding an sich (the thing as it really is in itself). In 20th c. phil., as fostered byWilhelm Dilthey and Martin Heidegger, the view that there is no Truth (compare the SOPHISTS), but that all views of reality are only interpretations provided by the individual and/or society. In its more extreme form it becomes DECONSTRUCTIONISM, the doctrine reminiscent of some of the ancient Greek SOPHISTS, who claimed that there is no reality at all to know (e.g., Gorgias). The text, the thing, the event, etc., to be interpreted completely disappears, to be replaced with a never-ending series of private perspectives. (see NOMINALISM)
HYPOTHESIS (hypo-tithenai; to place underneath): A statement, usually contained within some broader THEORY concerning some view of reality, to be confirmed or refuted by whatever methodology is proper to that field of study. E.g., the notion that the weight of the air is what makes barometers go up and down can be tested by taking the barometer to places where the air is more or less heavy.
IDEALISM (idein-to see; idea-ism): In ordinary usage, having high standards. In modern phil., the emphasis on one's own subjective mind as the center of everything in the universe; the view that first and foremost I know my own ideas best, rather than the things of the real outside world (see Realism). Both meanings come from Plato who placed True Reality in a separate World of Pure Ideas high above the earth. Two main variations: EPISTEMOLOGICAL IDEALISM: The doctrine that the way I conceive of something in my mind is the way it really is outside of my mind; "the rational is the real;" the movement from inside the mind to things outside the mind. E.g., by defining material things to be nothing but 3D parts outside of parts, extension, equivalent to space, and then claiming that that's the way the universe really exists, we would have moved from the mind to the world; we would have defined the essence of the world into existence in a certain way. This is what Rene Descartes did, and he was followed in this method by later thinkers such as Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Sartre, and many others. ONTOLOGICAL IDEALISM: The denial of any material world at all; everything is only in the mind; the material universe is an unnecessary hypothesis; defended by Bishop George Berkeley, who also took his lead from Descartes.
IDEOLOGY The attempt to put a theoretical, speculative, ideal system into actual practice in a real social and political context. E.g., Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Libertarianism, etc.
INDUCTION (in - ducere; to lead in): In logic, the process of going from something less universal to something more universal; the opposite of deduction; from observing how many different examples of something behave, we come to form a definition of that thing which expresses the nature of the type of thing that it is. E.g., by observing the way our own minds work we conclude that there must be something immaterial about them; by observing that others are capable of the same sorts of activity we conclude that their minds are also immaterial; hence, all humans have immaterial minds. Sometimes induction is taken to mean a mere ENUMERATIVE INDUCTION; e.g., this student in this class is wearing shoes; so is that one, and that one, etc.; hence all the students in this class are wearing shoes. This sort of induction is useless in science and phil. because in the vast majority of significant cases we cannot get a complete enumeration (e.g., all hydrogen is combustible). There is no way, based simply upon an accumulation of sense experiences, that we can go from talking about some cases to talking about all cases. This gives rise to the modern PROBLEM OF INDUCTION, recognized by but not solved by David Hume, which can never be resolved on a purely sensate basis.
IN PRINCIPLE To speak abstractly; as divorced from particular cases, but not from anything of a certain sort or kind of thing. E.g., Communist leaders getting together to decide in principle that socialism doesn't work and that it requires radical renovations, but not being able to agree on exactly what to do and how to go about it. POSSIBLE IN PRINCIPLE: There is no internal contradiction within something or no contradiction between different things or states of affairs, e.g., law and freedom are not mutually exclusive. It is not necessary that a particular case actually exist, e.g., someone might claim that it is possible in principle to construct a square with exactly the same area as a given circle even though it has not yet actually been done.
INTELLIGENCE (intus-legere; to gather or read within): The ability to penetrate to the essence, the "what," or the definition of something; to know a means as a means to an end; to understand something in the sense of getting inside and underneath it; the power to transcend the superficial sense experiences of something. Do not confuse with mere mimicking, trial and error, training, etc. - -
INTENTION (intendere; to move towards something): In common usage, to do something or want to do something on purpose. In phil., the IDEA of something. FIRST, DIRECT
INTENTION Paying mental attention to the thing as it exists outside of the mind, either as a particular thing or as an example of a type of thing, e.g., that cat I see here and now, or that thing as an example of the species "cat." SECOND, REFLEX, LOGICAL INTENTION Paying mental attention to the known object as it exists in the mind; looking at the concept itself as it functions in our process of understanding, e.g., in the proposition "All cats are mammals," "cats" is the subject and "mammals" is the predicate. Subjects and predicates exist only in the mind. If we intend to study outside things as thought about in the mind we are dealing with second intentions, or ideas about ideas.
INTRAMENTAL That which is within the mind.
IRRATIONAL Thinking which violates the basic rules of rational thought, ultimately leading to contradictions. Should not be confused with non-rational. Only rational beings, such as humans, can act irrationally; flatworms don't have such an option. The height of irrationality is to try affirming contradictory statements simultaneously, which presupposes the ability to have concepts and frame propositions. E.g., in Hegel, claiming that Being and Non-Being, Something and Nothing, are the same; in Sartre, claiming that Nothingness is the positive core of human nature. People who engage in such irrationality usually claim that they are driven to such an extreme in their effort to explain the facts of experience, such as change and freedom, within an atheistic context. However, when one runs into such a situation the first thing to suspect is that the thinker who is making outlandish claims has somehow or other gotten of f on the wrong foot. The proper thing to do in such a case is to go back to square one and start over again, this time being sure to check and challenge your own first principles.
JUDGMENT (judicare; to judge): An act of the mind in which a subject and a predicate are combined or separated, e.g., "All men are equal;" "All men are not equal." Or an act of the mind asserting or denying the existence of something, e.g., "Angels are;" Angels are not."
JURISPRUDENCE (juris - prudens; law-skilled): The study of how and why various legal decisions are made; the phil. of law; a branch of the Phil. of Government, which is a subdivision of Ethics; a discussion of how the legal system can be changed for the better. This means that the legal system is always based upon something more fundamental, namely, Political Phil. and the Phil. of Human Nature. This would apply even to subjects like ECOLOGY, ANIMAL RIGHTS, POLLUTION CONTROL, etc.
JUSTICE (jus; right): Rendering to each thing what is objectively due to that thing; providing to each thing what is needed to fulfill the nature of that thing. E.g., what is inferior can be used by what is superior; hence it. is just for plants to be killed and eaten by animals and for animals to be killed and eaten by humans. DISTRIBUTIVE
JUSTICE Making sure that the common good is served; arranging things in such a way __ that opportunities and things are fairly distributed according to basic needs. RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE: Making sure that crimes do not go unpunished; making the punishment fit the crime, e.g., it is unjust to cut of f somebody's hand for stealing a loaf of bread or confiscating someone's car for having a tiny amount of "hash" in the glove compartment. SOCIAL JUSTICE: The same as Distributive Justice but usually applied on an international scale.
KNOWLEDGE (knowen, kennen - German): Cognition; the internal mental process whereby we possess intentionally (see Intention) something outside of us; any union of the knower and the known via sensation, apprehension, reasoning, etc. It's one of those things you either know about through your own direct experiences or you can't know about at all. E.g., try giving someone born blind a knowledge of the color red. Two important varieties: SPECULATIVE, THEORETICAL KNOWLEDGE: (specere, theorem; to look at): Knowledge for its own sake; knowing as a good for the mind; the perfection of the mind; in here goes most of science, phil., and theology. PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE (practicus, praktikos; to do or to do over again; cf. techne, technikos; art or of art): Knowledge for the sake of something else; directed towards doing and action; the making or production of something, even if it is only some mental structure within the mind, e.g., setting up a syllogism, written work, mathematical formulas. Cf. "how to do it" books: Executive training, business practices, accounting, engineering, medicine. Do not confuse the practical with the useful; theoretical knowledge is just as useful, and maybe even more so, e.g., CORRECT and TRUE knowledge of nature is needed in order to have a technology that works.
KULTURKAMPF (kultur-kampf; culture - war): In Prussia (Germany), a late 19th c. conflict between the government of Prince Otto von Bismarck and religious leaders over who should control the schools and appointments to religious teaching positions and administrative posts. This situation is bound to recur whenever the state tries to establish a state religion, either directly, as under Communism in Russia, or indirectly, as with Secular Humanism in many other nations today.
LANGUAGE (lingua; tongue): An arbitrarily invented system of physical signs and symbols, vocal or written, used by one person to let another person know what he wants him to know or how he wants him to act. This would also apply to deceptions, lies, and propaganda. BODY LANGUAGE: A not-so-arbitrary system of gestures, often done unconsciously, expressing one's thoughts and feelings, e.g., crying. smiling, various arrangements of head, arms, legs, etc.
LAW (log- Old Norse): A command of reason designed to promote the common good made by the leader(s) of the community and effectively promulgated to all. GOD'S ETERNAL LAW: The overall plan and purpose of all of creation. DIVINE LAW: That part of the Eternal Law revealed to us by God; includes direct revelation in Scripture, as well as the following: NATURAL PHYSICAL LAW: The laws of operation built into nature by God (i.e., Newton's law of universal gravitation is really God's law). NATURAL MORAL LAW: The rules of right behavior built into human nature by God; the natural norm of morality founded upon human reason. POSITIVE, CIVIL LAW: The laws passed by civil governments in order to actually implement Divine Law. It would include what is known of natural physical and moral law. "In a liberal democracy the state cannot dictate morality." This does not mean that the state lacks authoEity in moral matters (e.g., anti-discrimination laws), but that morality is superior to the state. To say otherwise would be some form of collectivism in which there could be no such thing as inalienable rights, i.e., rights that no earthly authority can take away. We would then have no way of judging whether a law is good or not. Fortunately for freedom, Law is above men.
LIBERAL (liber; free): In general, anyone who wants to change the status quo in some fundamental way. In political phil., "liberalism" has undergone many changes over the centuries. In the 18th c., it was the liberal position to side with the common people against the absolute power of the king; in the 19th c., especially as fostered by John Stuart Mill, it was the individual against the power of majority rule government and public opinion; in the 20th c., it means using Big Government to control Big Business and selfish individualism, usually via high taxes and socialistic programs. "Today's liberals are tomorrow's conservatives."
LIBERAL ARTS For the Greeks, the encircling or all-encompassing studies (enkyklios-paideia; circle of basic learning; pais - child). What everyone needs in order to learn anything else; necessary tools for advanced studies; what must be mastered by the masters; the basic education for free citizens. Main branches: The methods of rational thinking (logic); clear and effective communication (language arts); accurate figuring (math); the two last are often called the "3R's." LIBERAL EDUCATION: A thorough grounding in the Liberal Arts, and in science, phil., and theology. Obviously, it is both unnecessary and dangerous to educate slaves.
LIBERAL DEMOCRACY (deinos-kratia; people-rule): An 18th c. political phil., developed by John Locke (following Thomas Aquinas and others), based upon a system of eligible voters electing representatives who then pass laws for the common good based upon Divine Law, including the Natural Moral Law; presupposes certain inalienable rights granted to humans by God, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (Locke said the pursuit of property). The separation of state and church means that there should be no established or state church (as there was in England), not the separation of state and religion. Traditional religious values are absolutely essential to the continued existence of a Liberal Democracy.
LIBERTARIANISM Hyper-individualism; licentiousness. Based upon the erroneous 17th c. doctrine of a non-social human nature (Thomas Hobbes - "Everyone is at war with everyone else;" Cf. Sartre - "Hell is other people"). The ethical doctrine that there are no objective guidelines, divine or otherwise, for personal human behavior; you can do whatever you want and/or can get away with. Typical sayings: I did it way. I have an absolute right to my privacy. I can do anything with anybody I can get to agree to it. And even if they don't agree there's no reason for not doing it anyways if I can get away with it. The only sin is not getting what I want. The only crime is getting caught. This attitude is very widespread today, so much so that many people simply refuse to hear anything else. It is fostered by NOMINALISM, REDUCTIONISM, and certain schools of sociology and psychology which like to talk about the "uniqueness" of each individual human as if each person belonged to a separate species. The result, however, is always the same, individual and social destruction via the 3Ds: Drugs, Dementia, Depopulation. If we don't see these results it's because its advocates are not really practicing what they preach, but are instead engaging in some watered down version of it involving ENLIGHTENED SELF-INTEREST and/or UTILITARIAN principles which, in effect, means denying their own basic doctrine.
LOGIC (logos; an account of why it's so): The Science of Second Intentions; the study of the way things are thought; the various structures of rational order; what's good and bad reasoning; the rules for making sense. If you have trouble writing well and clearly it's very likely because you have trouble thinking straight and properly, in which case you need a course in INTENTIONAL LOGIC. There is also MATHEMATICAL, SYMBOLIC, MACHINE LOGIC: A modern logic which treats thoughts as if they were things outside the mind; works by juxtaposing one thing next to another thing, e.g., Toronto is north of New York. "(Blank) is north of (blank)" constitutes a way of arranging things relative to each other as if thoughts were concrete things outside the mind. Useful in math, which deals with the order among quantifiable parts, but practically useless in ordinary, humanistic affairs. Important today because of our dependency upon computers, which cannot understand meanings but can only deal with quantitative arrangements such as on-off, open-closed, etc.
LOGICAL POSITIVISM or EMPIRICISM In 20th c. phil., the doctrine, fostered in the English speaking world by A.J. Ayer, that only statements based upon a combination of sense knowledge and logical and/or mathematical reasoning are to be taken seriously as suitable to reasonable and rational discourse. Nothing of an immaterial or spiritual nature can be rationally discussed; only the measurable is meaningful; if you can't count it, it doesn't count; seeing is believing, etc. Meaningfulness is decided by the VERIFICATION or VERIFIABILITY PRINCIPLE, i.e., if a statement cannot be verified via empirical measurements, at least in part, it is not worthy of any further rational consideration. This was meant to make phil. into a handmaiden of the physical sciences, and to eliminate anything of a religious nature from rational discourse. After flourishing in the 1940's it died out in the 1950's, and has now been abandoned even by Ayer himself, primarily because of its inability to account for the necessary and universal nature of scientific statements, e.g., the principle of inertia, all hydrogen is combustible, every interaction between an acid and a base produces water and a salt, etc. I.e., there's much more to science than gathering up sense data and computers.
LOVE (lubere; to please): To will goodness to something or someone; to appreciate and rejoice in goodness. Do not confuse with sex, mere emotion, sentimentality, etc. True love makes irrevocable promises and thrives on absolute faithfulness. It means using both the mind and the heart; a great love, however passionate, is blind without knowledge; a great knowledge, however exact, is cold and dead without a burning charity. Without a true and objective measure to guide it, a consuming passion usually turns ugly and deadly. A real personal integrity requires a harmony of both intellect and will. Loving yourself means appreciating what is good in yourself and wanting to see it amplified. Loving another means wanting what. is best for the person, even if it means that you must suffer; the greater the love the greater the willingness to suffer and even die for the other. Loving God means appreciating God as the Highest Good and doing God's will freely and joyously. The four main types of human loving: Familiarity or family love ("There's no place like home."); eros -or the attraction between complementary male and female sexes; friendship or a meeting of the minds, sharing the same interests and outlook on things, intellectual love ("anima in amicis una" - there is one mind among friends; "amicus est tamquam alter idem" - a friend is like another self); and agape (agathos; the good) or religious love. The last incorporates the best features of the previous three, and is required for human perfection.
MATTER (mater; mother): In ordinary usage, that which has 3D extension, sensible qualities, and can be acted upon by physical forces; the passive principle which can be formed in different ways. In Aristotle, the material cause; that which is in potency to receive some further determination. In this philosophical sense matter does not have any sensible, physical traits. The most fundamental matter is called "prime matter" by Aristotle.
MATTER-OF-FACT In 18th c. phil. as fostered by Hume, a statement based upon sense knowledge; an empirical claim which can be verified or falsified only through sense experience. E.g., The sun is shining today here and now.
METAPHYSICS (meta-phusis; beyond the natural world): Aristotle's theology. That subject which deals with those things that exist beyond the sphere of the moon, in the heavens, which are inhabited by the heavenly orbs and the gods. The gods exist without a material component. Here is where Real Being is found, and thus it is the science of being being in the sense of the Separated Substances which exist beyond the realm of changing and corruptible things down here on earth. The highest god is the Prime Mover or the Self-Thinking Essence of Thought.
METEMPSYCHOSIS (meta - en - psyche; beyond the besouled): The transmigration of a living soul from one body to another; common in Hinduism, Buddhism, the Pythagoreans, Plato, and many modern New Age, neo-pagan sects.
METHODICAL DOUBT In 17th c. phil. as fostered by Rene Descartes, the method or practice of doubting the existence and truth of anything which was not so absolutely certain that doubting it was impossible. He arrived at only one such truth, namely, "I think therefore I am" (cogito ergo sum). From this intramental position he would then move out to redesign the universe (see Idealism).
MONISM (mon; one): The doctrine that there is one and only one Reality which incorporates into itself everything in the universe, whether known or unknown to us. The impersonal form of Pantheism.
NATURAL THEOLOGY Reasoning to the existence and attributes of God without the aid of Scripture or Revelation.
NATURE (natus, nasci; born, to be born): That which is born, grows, and dies; hence, the changeable, the mutable, that which undergoes generation and corruption. Also the inner source and cause of these changes. The form or essence of the thing viewed from the perspective of its role as the intrinsic principle of change. In more ordinary usage, the usual course and events of the physical world.
NAZISM (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche A.rbeiterpartei; NSDAP; National Socialistic German Workers' Party): A 20th c. political phil. based upon Hegel's doctrine of the State as an expression of God (see Pantheism) developing Itself in worldly affairs. The state (Hegel predicted that in the near future it would be the Prussian state) is God marching through the world. Within the state there is a superior race - the Aryans (arya; noble), which all other races must serve or die. The yolk or People, whose Will is personified in one great leader (Hitler), is more real than the individual, so much so that the individual has no rights or even reality relative to The Race. Ultimately the Race is trans-national and will dominate the whole world, using the techniques of selective killing and breeding (taking Nietzsche's advice) so as to produce a race of Supermen who will use all others as we now use a herd of cattle. Abhors "atheistic" Communism. Should not be confused with non-racist, but no less repugnant, Fascism.
NIHILISM (nihil; nothing): In 19th and 20th c. phil., as fostered by various Russian revolutionaries and Nietzsche, the view that the religions, thought patterns, and the traditional justifications for human moral behavior used in the past are now dead and gone forever. This is epitomized in the DEATH-OF-GOD slogan. However, the state of emptiness and nothingness is not meant as a final, enduring state, but only as a transitional period to something else, hopefully better, in the future. In Nietzsche, the one who is aware of this and acts accordingly is the Overman, Higher Man, or Superman (there are no Super women). What we actually got was Communism, Fascism, Nazism, and Libertarianism.
NOMINALISM (nomen; name): In epistemology, the doctrine that the only thing the members of a class have in common is the class name. E.g., there is no human nature, only the name used to cover a collection of unique individuals. This doctrine destroys all science and human rights. Although often theoretically advocated by materialistically and atheistically inclined people, it cannot be acted upon in practice.
ONTOLOGY (on-logos; study of the real): The study of what is really real.
PANTHEISM (pan - theos; all god): The doctrine that everything is God or the identification of God with some aspect of the world, usually personified somehow. Nature is God; God is the World - Soul, etc. The World is the one and only source of all creativity and novelty. Some pantheists: The Stoics, Spinoza, Hegel, Goethe, Emerson, Nietzsche, Whitehead, Hans Kung, Matthew Fox, and many more 20th c. thinkers. In Judaeo-Christianity and Islam pantheism is atheism.
PANTHEISTIC ETHICS If Nature is God then everything is natural. You have as much right to survival, work, and happiness as the flowers and birds, i.e., you have none_at all! Thus there can be no immorality. Even environmental polluters are ultimately guiltless because all they are really doing is "programming" Nature so as to bring about certain internal changes which will, in the long run, produce new and wonderful things. This is the natural progressive course of evolution, regardless of how unpleasant things may momentarily appear to us within our very limited range of vision. In modern evolutionary Pantheism, quickly or slowly "God" is always developing and advancing.
PARADIGM (para - deiknynai; up against - to show): The archetype or ideal example of something, usually of a theory or pattern of explanation; a clear case illustrating something according to its inner rationality and meaning.
PARADOX (para - doxa; against common opinion): Something which sounds strange when judged against commonly held views, e.g., learning to use your leisure time well is hard work, heavy cream is lighter than light cream. In logic, a proposition which appears to be both true and false simultaneously, e.g., "Every rule has an exception" (including this one?); "Everything is relative" (absolutely!); "No proposition is negative;" "You doubt that you are reading what you are now reading." Most paradoxes depend upon arbitrarily assuming some statement to be true to begin with when there is really no need to do so.
PER ACCIDENS Existing through another; dependent existence.
PER SE Existing through itself; independent existence.
PERSON (per - sona; speak through; actor's mask): An analogous term used to refer to humans, angels, and the Three Persons of the Trinity in Christian theology. With respect to humans, an individual spiritual being acting in the world through his or her own body. As free spiritual beings persons can be bearers of rights and duties.
PHILOSOPHER-KING In Plato, a man, who may be part of a group of such men, who combines in himself a knowledge of the IDEAS with the political power to enforce the rule of the Divine Ideas on the Greek city-state. As described in his Dialogue THE REPUBLIC, with such men in power Athens would be perfected and preserved forever. The Philosopher-King is strongly opposed to the Sophist.
PHILOSOPHY (philein - sophos; friendship - wisdom): Term probably coined by Plato. The love of wisdom; or more properly, being on friendly terms with wisdom. Friendship is of the mind, and wisdom is an understanding of the whole, how all the parts fit together, what is true and good. Main branches: Phil. of Being, Phil. of Nature in General, Phil. of Living Things, Ethics. In each area its aim is to find the ultimate reasons or causes of things as far as possible by natural reason. In contrast, the social and physical sciences seek the more proximate reasons for things.
PLAYBOY PHILOSOPHY A modern, fantasized version of EPICUREANISM, made possible by modern medicine and technology. The purpose of life is to have a good time, physically speaking. This excludes anything ugly, painful, debilitating, deformed, diseased, etc. Only beautiful things are allowed - beautiful mansions, with beautiful swimming pools, and rose gardens always in bloom, with no thorns; beautiful cars, yachts, airplanes, food, and lots of safe sex; also beautiful, perfect bodies, fully exposed to the-pagan sun god. Enjoying beautiful art and music is OK too. Anything requiring real responsibility, self-sacrifice, and suffering, e.g., a faithful marriage, caring for children, dying in battle to protect one's country, getting up early every morning to go to work (a dirty 4-letter word), etc., is out. An infinite amount of fun, and zero amount of responsibility (the real meaning of safe sex), is in. The ultimate illusion that it's possible to live on bread, or in this case, expensive tarts, alone.
POSITIVISM A term coined by Auguste Comte to stand for the final, mature stage of human intellectual development. The stages: Religious (mythological), metaphysical (philosophical), positivistic (scientific). In the'last we must only ask how and never why; science is reduced to a body of accumulated, organized data. This, however, is not how actual scientists really operate.
PRAGMATISM A l9th-2Oth c. epistemology based on evolutionary theory, developed by James. Truth is not fixed in advance but changes and develops over time. A "truth" or true theory (not to be confused with a present "fact") is determined by whether or not it has good and useful results. There are no fixed principles of right and wrong, good and bad, even in science. Something doesn't work because it's true but vice versa - it's true if it works out in practice. However, since it fails to define the good in an objective way, it has itself proven not to be very useful. It does, though, have some value in defending the importance of faith in daily life and "self fulfilling promises."
PREMISES (prae-mittere; that which comes before in a sequence): In logic, the propositions upon which the conclusion of a reasoning process is based.
PRINCIPLE (principium; beginning): That from which something comes or proceeds; the source; that which generates something. E.g., a point is the principle of a line.
FIRST PRINCIPLE That which is first in some process of production, e.g., God is the absolutely first cause of everything which has come into existence.
PROCESS PHILOSOPHY (THEOLOGY) In 20th c. phil., the view, fostered by Alfred North Whitehead, that God is not perfect but is instead constantly changing, developing, and becoming more and more perfect along with the world. Unable to reconcile the existence of God and the existence of evil in the world, the Process Philosopher thinks it necessary to deny God's perfect power and/or perfect knowledge. Thus everything is in process, everything is progressing, everything is becoming perfect, including God. This view is opposed to traditional religious (Judaeo-Christian, Islamic) doctrine, practices, and prayer. Sometimes called Panentheism (all in God) or Semi-Pantheism.
PROVIDENCE (pro - videre; forward-see): Superintendence; the arranging of things and interactions so as to achieve a pre-determined goal. Usually means Divine Providence - God's overall plan or purpose for the world; God's constant attention to the order and sequence of events in the world. It does not demand that every event be pre-determined by God, i.e., there can still be ample room for many chance variations, accidents, and contingencies; the good can suffer by chance as much as the bad, etc.
PSYCHOLOGY (psychein; to breathe; psyche-logos; the study of besouled or living things): Today, as one of the social sciences, which feels it must imitate the physical sciences in order to be respectable as a science, it usually means the empirical study of human behavior, treating humans as if they were simply lumps of matter to be studied like any other lump of matter; often the mind is equated with the brain, etc. PHILOSOPHICAL PSYCHOLOGY: What does it mean to be alive? What are the main types of living things and their traits? PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY: An examination of human beings as one type of living thing; the main theories of human nature; What does it mean to be a human being? The main reason school psychology interests anybody today is because of its philosophical and religious aspects, i.e., because of what it tries to say about my personal happiness and my place in the universe.
PSYCHOSOMATIC (psyche - soma; mind-body): In medicine, the effects of mental changes upon the body and vice versa. In phil., the view of humans as one unified being of body and soul; human wholeness and integrity requires that both aspects be taken into account when any human problem is encountered, e.g., in politics, in sexual matters, etc.
QUIDDITY (quid; what): (see Essence and Nature).
RACISM A social system in which some subsection of the human species is regarded as inferior to other subsections, caused either by some intrinsic condition, e.g., having a certain skin color, being born into a certain caste, being as yet unborn, being mentally or physically handicapped, being chronically and/or terminally ill, becoming deformed and/or ugly, etc., or by some extrinsic condition, e.g., being conquered in war, etc. Once declared to be inferior, such creatures become "fair game" for the superior ones who can then use (there can be no abuse) them, and even kill them, as they freely choose. Cf. "pro-choicers" on abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, etc.
RADICAL (radix; root): In general, anything or anybody that goes to the "root" of something, e.g., a free radical in chemistry, a radical root in math, a radical operation in medicine, etc. In political phil., someone who wants to bring about fundamental and rapid change in a society or organization. Phil., insofar as it searches for the basic reasons for things, is radical. Also, the more basic the level of inquiry the more radical the science, e.g., in the Speculative Sciences, astronomy is less radical than physics, but physics is less radical than the General Phil. of Nature; in the Practical Sciences, political science is less radical than political phil., while the latter is less radical than ethics.
RATIONAL (ratio; accounting for, explaining why): In general, being able to grasp the true causes or reasons for something. In logic, following the rules of good reasoning. In epistemology, beginning with sense knowledge and going on to transcend the senses in order to understand the essence or nature of something or some process. Humans are rational animals in that we must use our senses (bodily powers) as well as our minds (conceptual powers) in order to know. In contrast, purely intuitive beings, such as angels, can know without recourse to the senses. Lesson: For humans, being rational is hard work!
RATIONAL DECISION-MAKING The process of adjusting our power of free choice to objective standards of right and wrong, good and bad, etc. E.g., deciding when to launch a space ship based upon scientific facts and calculations rather than upon certain private whimsor fancies. In ethics, acting morally means freely doing what you are supposed to do.
REALISM In epistemology, the ordinary, common sense view of things: The public world as I experience it is really there; if I were to die right now the world would still be here, etc. The extramental world is existentially independent with respect to mind.
REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM Reduction to the absurd. In logic, showing that an initial statement is false by showing that it leads to a contradiction. E.g., X says that all Xs are always lying. If true then X must be lying about Xs always lying, which means that X regards the statement as false. Hence the contradiction: All Xs both are and are not always lying. It must be that the statement is false to begin with.
REDUCTIONISM (re - ducere; to lead back): In math and science, the process of identifying A with B, B with C, etc., so that we end with A = N (a transitive relationship). In phil., the doctrine that everything is on a par; there's only one essence to all of reality; there's nothing but mathematical space, 3D extension, parts outside of parts. ALL observed differences are due to different arrangements of parts. ALL qualitative differences are really only quantitative. All of the humanities are reduced to the social sciences, which are reduced to biology, which is reduced to chemistry, which is reduced to physics. All physics is reduced to geometry, all math translated into numbers, and all numbers made into on-off switches (anaLytic geometry; digital computers, clocks, records, cameras, everything!). In effect, there is no longer any physical world at all; everything real is dissolved in a vat of mental formulas and numbers - and this in a doctrine which says that there is no immaterial mind! Love, emotions, spirit, freedom, and value judgments become meaningless sounds. Theoretically speaking this view is very common among modern scientists and philosophers. In practice, however, it's totally impossible to live by. Hence, since the time of Descartes, the quantitative production of millions of words on how science can be reconciled with human values.
RELIGION (religio; reverence): Broad Definition: Any comprehensive world-view explaining why the universe is the way it is, why we are here, outlining rites and practices to be followed, offering consolation for troubles and problems, and holding out the hope for some sort of salvation. This would include Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and even Secular Humanism (we came from the ocean "soup" via evolution, etc.). Narrow Definition: Same as above but derived from some direct Revelation from God. The religion is based upon a Scripture, or Holy Writ, given directly by God to humans. This would keep Judaeo-Christianity and Islam, but would exclude the others mentioned above. As well, if we are dealing with a religion with a separately existing personal God, then religion can also be considered under JUSTICE, i.e., giving to God the worship, obedience, etc., that is due to God.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM "Freedom of Conscience." Someone convinced against her will remaineth unconvinced still. If by religious freedom we mean actually doing whatever you feel like doing because it's "your religion," then there can never be such a thing as religious freedom. On the other hand, though, a forced belief is neither in keeping with spiritual human dignity nor meritorious in the sight of God; you must do freely what you are supposed to do. In general, the right to publicly practice the rites of your own freely chosen world-view, to be publicly educated therein, etc. (Although not allowed morally speaking, in private you can legally believe anything you wish.) However, no society can allow complete freedom, i.e., it is proper to outlaw multiple spouses, satanic cults, human sacrifices, abortions, other forms of racism, pollution, etc. Conscience cannot be used as an excuse for doing, in plain English, anything you damn well please. Where possible and feasible (usually because of the homogeneity of the population), the full Divine Law, or at least the Natural Moral Law, should also be the Civil Law. If not practicable, then, within limits, each religious group should be free to act as described above. WITHIN LIMITS means that at least the most basic parts of the Natural Moral Law must be observed. If they are not, the society is doomed to self-destruction. E.g., what good is equality for women if women are not having children, thus leading to the elimination of the very society in which they are supposed to be equal? Compare being the first female (Black, Polish, Jewish, etc.) president of a bankrupt corporation.
SCIENCE (scire; to know; sciens; having knowledge): The knowledge of the causes or reasons for things, usually, today, for things of a material or physical nature. Factual knowledge or mere information should not be confused with scientific or causal knowledge. E.g., seeing the stars twinkle (even animals can see) is not the same as knowing why they twinkle. Science must be in conformity with the facts and its explanations stated in terms different from what is to be explained.
SECULAR HUMANISM (saeculum; a generation, or one segment of a cycle): An exclusively this-worldly anthropology. The simultaneous denial of the existence of God and the affirmation of the high worth and dignity of humans; fostered by Marx, John Dewey, Sartre, and many others today. Do not confuse with other forms of HUMANISM which maintain both the existence of God (in one form or another) and the high value of human beings, e.g., PLATONIC, STOIC, CHRISTIAN, ISLAMIC HUMANISM, etc.
SET (sittan; to sit - Old English): In mathematics, a collection of elements, distinguishable from non-members, and from each other. E.g., the set of all even numbers: 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. Simultaneously, all the elements are the same (even numbers) and also different from each other (2 is not 4, etc.). In terms of possible progressive counting, this universal set is infinite, i.e., it contains an infinite number of members. Although mathematicians often speak as if all the members of such a set actually exist simultaneously here and now, in fact they do not; i.e., the rules allow for an indefinite extension of the series; the set is potentially infinite, not actually so. A SUBSET is one in which every element of the Subset is also an element of the Set. Phil. is required in order to explain how Sets and Subsets are possible. Also, when dealing with things mentally there can be no NULL or EMPTY SET, since everything thought of possesses at least intramental existence. (see Genus, Species)
SEX EDUCATION Today, treating the process of reproduction in humans as if humans were merely unfree lumps of matter lacking the ability to say "no" to immoral sexual relations; assumes an amoral position (usually under the euphemism of "non-judgmental") towards sexual behavior; claims to leave ethics out of education; claims to be strictly factual. This, however, cannot be done. Every free decision made by humans implies some ethical direction; making evaluations is part of our free, intellectual nature. As normal humans we must transcend the mere facts and make judgments about how they fit into some broader scheme of things. Thus, aU. sex education programs are religious/philosophical to one extent or another. The only serious question is: Which religion and/or phil. is being taught? E.g., far from being neutral, today in psychology, we are usually subjected to propaganda favoring the view that we are a naked consciousness (cf. Sartre), divorced from reality, seeking pleasurable feelings and experiences. This is in direct opposition to the teachings of biology, and the more well-balanced religious groups such as the R. C. Church. And as it turns out, sex is not the lowest common denominator for us; the desire to know and love and have meaning in our lives is much more fundamental, which is why it's possible to get rid of a specific program in sex education but it's not possible to ever get rid of phil.
SKEPTICISM (skepsis; to doubt): The doctrine, carefully reasoned out, that nothing of any great significance in science, phil., or theology can be known with certainty. This is a philosophical doctrine and should not be confused with the scientific attitude, which is cautious and circumspective; professional skepticism would mean the end of science.
SOCIALISM In modern times mainly a series of 19th c. political philosophies teaching the virtues of a collectivism approach to social life; a central authority takes over and controls all the major means of production and distribution of goods and services in society. Phil. may not bake any buns but it does decide who owns the bakery!
SOCIETY (socius; companion): A group of living things living together in order to achieve a common goal or purpose. Depending upon the natures of the beings involved (plant, animal, human), the possible sizes and aims of the groups and subgroups involved will vary quite a bit. E.g., an ant, bee, baboon, etc., society is geared for survival alone, while a human society aims for much more, even in the most primitive conditions. In addition to reproduction and survival in a given environment, humans are interested in all sorts of "useless" things like the opera and phil. In general, human society is permeated with the presence of the spiritual dimension of personhood, something lacking among birds, deer, lions, etc. In political phil., the primary aim of a state or nation is not freedom but JUSTICE. A just society must necessarily curtail the freedom of both individuals and groups, e.g., my right to swing my arm ends at the tip of your nose. A state does not create Justice but presupposes it. LAW and FREEDOM are not incompatible; in fact, law is necessary to maximize the human ability for free choice. The task of government is to apply at least the Natural Moral Law, and if possible the Divine Law as found in Scripture, to particular, concrete circumstances. Main types of human society: Natural (family, tribe, nation); Conventional or Arbitrary (e.g., trade unions, chess clubs, Y.M.C.A., etc.); Supernatural (the Church). SOCIETAL BREAKDOWN: Usually caused by a lack of common beliefs, goals, and objectives. A "society" which is not intellectually and morally unified is really not one society at all, but at best a collection of different 8ocieties inhabiting the same geographical area. The result of this is usually civil war to one degree or another, e.g., India-Pakistan, South Africa, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, etc., until one side is defeated or two new nations are formed. Cf. also, pro-slavers vs. abolitionists, pro-segregationists vs. civil rightists, pro-abortionists vs. pro-lifers, etc.
SOCRATIC METHOD Named after Socrates in ancient Greece. It was his habit to ask leading questions designed to draw out or educe (EDUCATION), from the person he was talking to, the information and conclusions be wanted to teach to the person. He was like a midwife helping in the birth of ideas. For Plato, who used Socrates as his mouthpiece, the IDEAS are already in you (innate) and the task of the teacher is to get you to teach yourself, to wake up to what is already in you just waiting to get out and become explicit. But what if we want to be ignorant and not know the truth? This is what finally got Socrates arrested and executed, by drinking the poison hemlock while in prison (he committed suicide in effect). By playing the gadfly he so upset so many of the influential people (lawyers, writers, politicians) in Athens that they felt they had to get rid of him. He was condemned by a jury of 500 of his fellow Athenians, which led Plato to reject the value of "democracy" in matters of basic importance. Still true today, e.g., one scientist (Galileo) being right while everyone else is wrong.
SOPHIST (sophos; wisdom): Now a derogatory term; someone who wants to win an argument and is willing to use any means, even deliberately false and faulty reasoning (Cf. lawyers, advertising executives, politicians, etc.). Referred originally to a group of Greek teachers in the 5th c. B.C. who earned their money by teaching the sons of the rich how to be successful in Greek political life. This meant training them to speak persuasively in public forums. Because they were more interested in winning than in the truth they were attacked by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Some famous Sophists: Protagoras, Gorgias, Thrasymachus, Hippias of Elis. In general the Sophists justified their actions by claiming that truth was either non-existent or could not be found; intellectual and moral relativism.
SOUL (seula - Old High German): The intrinsic principle of life; the psyche. More technically, the first act of a properly disposed physical body with a potency for being alive. In Aristotle, the substantial form of a living body; if an axe were alive, axeness would be its soul; if an eye were a complete living thing, seeing would be its soul. In fact, without its soul, there would be no organized body at all; compare the state of the corpse. There is no need to assume that the body and soul are two separate things as they actually exist in a living substance. Because the soul is so much regarded as the inner self, we get expressions such as soul-searching, soul food, soulful, soul mate, soul music, etc.
SPECIES (image, appearance): That which is predicated essentially of two or more things that differ individually. E.g., Sally and Sam are human beings. "Human being" is the species to which they belong. Species in turn fit into genera. Species and genera cannot exist outside the mind as species and genera, i.e., we can find Sam sitting in class but not human beingness. Species are predicated of concrete individuals, but concrete individuals cannot be predicated of each other, e.g., it makes no sense to say that "Sally is Sam." This is because the class to which something belongs always tells us what is common to the items under consideration, and no concrete individual is ever common to anything. In general, in the process of classification, what is true of the broader category can be applied to the more narrow category but not vice versa, e.g., animal traits belong to both humans and dogs but human traits belong only to humans and not to dogs, i.e., humans and dogs are equally animals but not equal animals. The whole area of sets, classification, species, etc., is basically a philosophical issue rather than a mathematical or biological one.
STOICISM (stoa; porch or portico where the founder taught in ancient Athens): A pantheistic ethical doctrine emphasizing fatalism, indifference, and impassiveness.
SUBSTANCE (sub - stare; to stand under): That which has a natural unity and can exist on its own, e.g., this individual man, dog, pine tree, etc. Usually contrasted with an ACCIDENT or that which cannot exist on its own but must exist in, or "go along with," a substance, e.g., colors, sounds, etc.
SUPERMAN In 19th c. phil. as fostered by F.W. Nietzsche, the Overman or superior human type of creature who has the right to use inferior humans, THE HERD, for his own ends; the bold, brave, strong, daring, willful, and therefore lonely, one who is willing to take seriously the amoralism following upon the Death-Of-God; the outsider; used as a model by Hitler.
SYLLOGISM (syn-logizesthai; to put together reasons, to calculate): The basic form of deductive reasoning using three terms and three propositions, e.g., all humans are liable to death, Sally is a human, and so Sally is liable to death.
SYNTHETIC STATEMENT (syn - tithenai; to place together) (see A Posteriori).
TABULA RASA (writing surface - empty): In 18th c. phil. as fostered by John Locke, the view of the mind as a blank tablet needing to be filled in with sense experiences; opposed to Descartes's INNATE IDEAS.
TELEOLOGY (telos; end, goal): The study of the purposes of things; looks at things from the perspective of where they are going rather than where they've come from, although the two are certainly related. E.g., it's a fact that the earth is warm. But, is the earth warmed because the sun happens to exist, or does the sun exist in order to warm the earth? The latter may be taken to mean that the sun was deliberately created by an intelligent Supreme Being for that purpose, which is why teleology is often rejected by those philosophers who want to be atheists. Also, are sexual relations simply one aspect of an aimless series of sensual stimulations and explorations, or are they a means to an end, namely, reproduction? Much of our modern media, claiming to be neutral and non-judgmental on the subject (which they really are not) push the former, while those more attuned to the complete human condition, such as biologists and the R. C. Church, while not denying a place for sense pleasure and mutual comfort, affirm the latter.
THEOLOGY (theos - logos; study of God): The application of one's rational powers to Scripture and Revelation; presupposes faith in the revelation to be studied; proper to argue from authority (Scripture, the Articles of Faith, Teachings of the Church, etc.). Theology is to faith as phil. is to reason, i.e., the denominators represent the areas in which each is at home. Theology is to Scripture as phil. is to ordinary human experience, i.e., the denominators represent the respective starting points of each. It should not be supposed that the results of science, phil., and theology must contradict one another.
THOMISM Phil. and theology based upon the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.
TOLERATION (tolerare; to endure): Not using violence to suppress someone with whom you have a fundamental disagreement; agreeing to peacefully disagree. Do not confuse with indifference. Only dogmatic people can be tolerant; both firm conviction and love of neighbor are required for toleration.
TRANSCENDENT (trans-scandere; to climb over): That which goes beyond something. It does not necessarily mean to be completely or even partially out of contact with the near-at-hand. E.g., in one and the same human being intellectual knowledge transcends sense knowledge; in Judaeo-Christianity, without pantheism, God is both transcendent and IMMANENT
TRANSCENDENTALS In the Phil. of Being, that which is common to everything which exists; something not restricted to any one class or category of things. E.g., every being, in its own way, is one, true, good, and beautiful. In the 18th c. phil. of Immanuel Kant, the mental categories, common to all humans, which exist beyond sense experience and which we use to "inform" the material world in an orderly and scientific way. For Kant, the physical world is unknown and unknowable in itself (see Idealism).
TRUTH (treove - Old English; faithful): In general, the conformity of the mind with some situation or thing outside the mind. LOGICAL TRUTH, VALIDITY: Reasoning in conformity with the proper logical rules. E.g., if it's true that all students love phil. then it must be true that some students do. ONTOLOGICAL TRUTH: The conformity of something to an objective, external measure. E.g., the painting truly expresses the creative intention of the artist; this is a true diamond, meaning that it conforms to the objective chemical composition and structure of what a diamond should be. MORAL TRUTH: Telling the truth; the conformity of one's speech with what is really in one's mind.
TRUTH-OF-REASON In 18th c. phil. as fostered by Hume, an a priori or analytic type statement which can be known as true without any appeal to sense knowledge; the sort of thing found in logic and math; opposed to matter-of-fact statements.
ULTIMAT E (ulter; beyond; ultimus; farthest away): In general, anything which is last in a series. In phil., within a given domain, the most fundamental reason(s) for things; the most basic level of inquiry. (see Radical)
UNIVERSAL (unus - vertere; one turn): Covering the whole; taking into account the entire situation, etc. In logic, a UNIVERSAL PROPOSITION is one which states something about the nature of the subject, e.g., the statement "All men are mortal" tells us that it is of the nature of humans to be liable to death; to be a human is to be liable to death. This means that the predicate, in this case "mortal," must apply to each and every possible case considered under the subject term, "men." Thus the use of "all" is justified.
UNIVERSALITY - ULTIMACY-ANALOGOUS USAGE Although all ideas are universal, some are more universal than others, e.g., "flag" is more universal than "French flag." This is important because it allows for a HIERARCHY of values and disciplines. E.g., a principle, law, statement, science, etc., can be ultimate and universal within its own domain, but its own domain may be restricted relative to a wider domain in the same order of reality or subject area. Within the area of Practical Knowledge, for instance, Ethics is the ultimate science, with its own basic principles and procedures. (Thus there is no problem with the so-called is - ought transition as "discovered" by Hume.) Yet, simultaneously, e.g., the science of being a business executive can be ultimate and universal within that lesser domain of human action. Likewise on the Speculative side. The ultimate science for some area of lesser extent in the physical world may be biology, chemistry, or physics. However, relative to these areas, Philosophical Psychology and the Phil. of Nature would be more ultimate. In other words, "ultimate" and "universal" must be understood analogously. The only absolutely ultimate and universal human rational science is the PHILOSOPHY OF BEING. Scientists and mathematicians have a hard time understanding this because they keep wanting to speak univocally.
UNIVOCAL USAGE (uni-vox; one voice): A term is used each time with exactly the same meaning; important in logic, math, and science. E.g., a+b = b+a; All exceptional people are in mental hospitals, all philosophy students are exceptional people,... (see Analogous Usage, Equivocation)
UNNATURAL Two main meanings: ARTIFICIAL: Not found in nature without human interference, e.g., eyeglasses; not necessarily evil. OPPOSED TO NATURE: Something which violates our highest power, our reason; an abuse of our natural powers as directed by our reason (not as found in cruel and mean uninterfered-with nature); a violation of the Natural Moral Law. This type is always evil. E.g., gluttony, lying, stealing, homosexuality, child abuse, polluting, etc.
UTILITARIANISM A 19th c. ethical theory which argued that because everyone desires one's own happiness one must necessarily desire the happiness of everyone taken collectively. The aim of all law, as developed by J.S. Mill, should be the greatest happiness (good) of the greatest number of people in society, and ultimately of the whole world. However, by failing to define human happiness in an objective way based upon the ultimate good of human nature, the doctrine is not very useful practically speaking. We still don't know what to aim for. Mill did not understand the difference between NATURE as the usual run of natural events, including all of its mean and cruel aspects, and as the internal standard of morality, i.e., human nature dominated by God-given reason.
UTOPIA (ou.-topos; no-place): An imaginary country of perfect harmony and happiness for everyone, popularized by Thomas More in the 16th C.
VIRTUE (virtus; strength): A stable disposition to always operate and act for the good; a "second nature" in human beings to do good. INTELLECTUAL VIRTUE: The habit of always seeking the truth, which is the good of the intellect. MORAL VIRTUE: The habit of always willing the good and seeking to do what is right. The chief CARDINAL or MORALvirtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance. The Judaeo-Christian THEOLOGICAL virtues: Faith, Hope, Charity (Love).
WELTANSCHAUUNG (world - view in German): A universal and all-encompassing insight into the nature of reality.
WILL TO POWER In Nietzsche, the same as the will to life. All living things automatically strive, not to just survive, but to expand and conquer. Self-conscious humans, however, can counteract this drive and opt for security and comfort instead (the HERD MENTALITY). The SUPERMAN, though, is rare and different. Using the Herd as a stepping stone, he is willing to undergo the struggle and suffering needed to conquer himself and others on his way to the creation of his own brave new world.
WISDOM (wis - Old English; sophos, sophia): An intellectual virtue; the highest form of knowledge; a knowledge of the First Principle(s) of all things; found only in phil. and theology; cannot be found in math or in the social and physical sciences.
WORLD OF IDEAS
In Plato's phil., the world of Greek Being, of the Really Real, the realm of True Being; a completely stable and unchanging collection of Ideal Forms, which act as the ARCHETYPES or models after which the things of the changing, earthly world are fashioned. It can only be known by the mind through a process of pure intellection; the senses are of no use, and even act to hold back the process of obtaining true knowledge and salvation for the human soul or psyche, which alone is the true human person. Hence the phrase PLATONIC LOVE, meaning a body-less meeting of the minds; "kindred spirits."
F. F Centore is professor and chairman of the department of philosophy at St. Jerome's College, U. of Waterloo, Ontario.
Reprinted with permission of the author
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