The History of Philosophy: A Short Survey


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A. Beyond Mythology

1. Formalized Greek mythology developed from oral traditions

a. Homer

b. Hesiod

2. Presocratic philosophy: ancient Greek philosophy before Socrates

a. Role as early scientists: emphasized questions of physics

b. Role as early philosophers: emphasized the rational unity of things and rejected mythological explanations

c. Three specific issues of Presocratic philosophers


B. Milesians: the first philosophers

1. Miletus

2. Thales (c. 625-545 BCE): ancient Greek philosopher from Miletus who held that water is the basic stuff

b. Thales’ view of water

c. Importance

3. Anaximander (c. 610-545 BCE): ancient Greek philosopher from Miletus who held that the boundless (apeiron) is the source of everything.

a. View of the Boundless

b. Importance

4. Anaximenes (c. 585-525 BCE): ancient Greek philosopher from Miletus who held that the condensed and expanded air is the source of everything.

a. View of air

b. Importance

C. Other Ionians

1. Pythagoras (c.570–c.497 BCE) ancient Greek philosopher from Samos who emphasized the mathematical relations that underlie reality.

a. Pythagorean school

b. Mathematics

c. The Tetractys

d. Music

e. Cyclical aspects of the cosmos

2. Heraclitus (c. 540–c. 480 BCE): ancient Greek philosopher from Ionia who emphasized that an ever-changing world is sustained and given a kind of permanence through the logos.

a. Problem: constant change and river analogy

b. Solution: Logos: a unifying plan that underlies the coherence of all natural changes and harmonizes their opposing tendencies

D. Eleatic Philosophers: The One

1. Introduction

a. Pantheism

2. Xenophanes (c. 570–c.478 BCE): ancient Greek philosopher who satirized anthropomorphic conceptions of the gods, particularly as held by Homer, Hesiod and Pythagoras

a. Relativism

b. Satires on Anthropomorphic Theology

c. Pantheism

3. Parmenides (fl. c. 450 BCE) ancient Greek philosopher from Elea (Greek colony on south-west coast of Italy) who argued that every day perception of the world is wrong and all reality is the One, that is, a single, undifferentiated and unchanging thing.

a. Two possible paths of inquiry

b. Implications of “it is”: what exists is eternal, indivisible, unmoving, a single thing, round

4. Zeno (fl. c. 450 BCE) ancient Greek philosopher from Elea who defended Parmenides’ notion of the eternal unchanging One by presenting paradoxes designed to show the impossibility of motion or any other change.

a. Paradox 1 against motion: the stadium runner

b. Paradox 2 against motion: Achilles and the Tortoise

c. Paradox 3 against motion: the arrow

E. Pluralists

1. Greek Pluralism

2. Empedocles (c. 495–c. 435 BCE) ancient Greek philosopher who emphasized that the two forces of love and strife organize the four elements or roots of the world–namely earth, air, fire and water.

a. Four roots: earth, air, fire and water

(1) Change results from the combination, separation and regrouping of indestructible entities (the elements can only be mixed and unmixed)

b. Two forces that cause change: love and strife

2. Anaxagoras (500–428 BCE) ancient Greek philosopher who held that the world is comprised of infinitely divisible elements or seeds that is organized by Mind (nous).

a. Matter exists in a plenum

b. Material objects are infinitely divisible

c. Worlds within worlds

d. All things contain ingredients (seeds) of everything else

e. Mind is the cosmic force that accounts for motion, growth and change

F. Atomism

1. Atomism: theory developed by Leucippus and Democritus that the world is composed of indivisible particles within empty space.

2. Atoms and in a vacuum of space

3. Mind

a. Materialism

b. Perception

c. Thinking

d. The gods

e. Determinism

G. The Sophists

1. Role of Sophists as teachers

2. Controversial teaching content

a. Naturalistic world view

b. Antilogic

c. Custom vs. nature

3. Protagoras (c. 490–c. 420 BCE): most famous Greek Sophist who is remembered for the statement that “man is the measure of all things.”

a. Relativism

b. Religious agnosticism

5. Gorgias (a. 475-375 BCE): Greek Sophist from Leontini (Sicily), famous for his skeptical positions on ethics and knowledge

a. Ethical skepticism

b. Epistemological skepticism



A. Socrates

1. Socrates (469–399 BCE): ancient Greek moral philosopher and teacher of Plato, famous for his professions of ignorance, his irony, his moral earnestness and his dialectical method of questioning people.

2. Socrates and the Sophists

a. Reputation as a sophist

(1)  Aristophanes portrayal of Socrates

(2)  Charges against Socrates

b. Socrates’ mission as the wisest person

(1)  Oracle of Delphi

3. Socratic dialectic method

a. Three features of Socratic dialectic method

4. Obedience to the State

a. Debt of gratitude argument

b. Social contract argument

B. Plato

1. Plato (428–348 BCE): ancient Greek philosopher who argued for the theory of the forms, the immortality of the soul, and the grounding of justice in eternal unchanging forms

2. Knowledge and the forms

a. Knowledge vs. opinion

b. Theory of Forms

c. Four characteristics of the forms

d. Arguments for the forms based on knowledge

3. The Divided Line and the Cave

4. Soul

a. Body-soul dualism

b. Immortality of the soul

(1) Argument from the forms

(2) Argument from self-motion

c. Three parts of the soul: analogy of the charioteer

d. Four cardinal virtues

5. Politics

a. Justice

(1)  Sophists’ view of justice

(2)  Plato's view of justice

b. Three groups of people (analogous to the three parts of the soul

c. Noble lie

6. Art

a. Art as imitation

b. Good art is morally uplifting

c. Censorship

C. Aristotle

1. Aristotle (384–322 BCE): ancient Greek philosopher who emphasized the notion of a thing’s purpose (telos) and argued that morality involves the development of virtues.

2. Logic

a. Syllogism

b. Fallacies of the sophists

c. Ten Categories

3. Physics

a. Purpose (teleology)

b. Natural vs. artificial objects

c. Four Causes

(1) Efficient cause

(2) Material cause

(3) Formal cause

(4) Final cause

d. Unmoved Movers and the prime mover

4. Metaphysics

a. Matter and form

(1) Rejects Plato’s theory of immaterial forms

(2) All things are combinations of form and matter

b. Substance-accident

(2) Substance: the reality that underlies a thing’s qualities

(3) Accidents: the changes that substances go through, but do not change the kind of thing that each substance is

c. Potentiality and actuality

(1) Potentiality is a capacity, and actuality is its fulfillment

(3) Potentiality and actuality in human nature

5. Soul and mind

a. Soul is the life of a thing

b. Body-soul are related as matter-form

(1) Soul and body are inseparable: the soul is the capacity of the body to do things

(2) Immortality: the soul cannot exist without the body

c. Three kinds of souls

(1) Nutritive/vegetative (self-nourishment, growth, decay)

(2) Appetitive (sensation and movement)

(3) Rational (uses different types of reason)

6. Ethics

a. Ethics as a quest for the highest good (the good life, happiness)

(1) The highest good consists of fulfilling our purpose as rational beings

b. The Virtuous Mean

(1) Animalistic and rational elements of people

(2) Virtues are good mental habits that regulate our urges

(3) Mean between extremes: virtues that stand at a mean between vices of deficiency and vices of excess

c. Examples of the virtuous mean


Natural Urge   || Vice of Deficiency | Virtuous Mean | Vice of Excess

Anger               || Spiritlessness            Good Temper             Ill-temper

Fear of danger || Cowardice                Courage                       Rashness

Pleasure           || Insensibility              Temperance                Intemperance

Give money    || Stinginess                 Generosity                   Extravagance

Self-worth       || Self-loathing            Self-respect                 Arrogance


7. Politics

a. The formation of governments is something that humans do naturally

b. Society is prior to the individual

c. natural rulers

8. Art

a. All art is imitation

b. Art has a moral message

c. Music and tragedy are cathartic



B. Cynicism: Hellenistic school that emphasized denying established conventions, as exemplified by Diogenes of Sinope (412-323 BCE).

1. Diogenes of Sinope (412-323 BCE): follower of Antisthenes, and the model Cynic

a. Living as a dog

b. Anecdotes of Diogenes shocking behavior

C. Epicureanism: Hellenistic school founded by Epicurus (341–270 BCE) that emphasized achieving happiness by minimizing pain and pursuing pleasure.

1. Atomism

a. Slight swerve

b. Free Will and the slight swerve

2. Image-particles and perception

3. Happiness: decrease pain, increase pleasure

4. Decrease pain by eliminating fears

a. Death

b. Gods

5. Three kinds of desires

6. Pleasure through moderation

7. Wisdom and the virtues

D. Stoicism: Hellenistic school founded by Zeno of Citium (334–262 BCE) that emphasizes resigning oneself to fate.

1. Three areas of stoic thought and the garden analogy

a. Logic:  the garden wall that protects the contents

b. Physics: tree in garden

c. Ethics: fruit that grows on the tree

2. Logic

a. Four degrees of truth conviction

b. Logical connectives with assertible statements

(1) Conditional (if-then): “If it is day, then it is light.”

(2) Conjunction (and): “It is day and it is light.”

(3) Disjunction (or): “It is day or it is night”

(4) Negation (not): “It is not day”

c. Argument forms

(1) Modus ponens

If Plato is alive then Plato must be breathing.

Plato is alive

Therefore, Plato must be breathing

(2) Disjunctive syllogism

It is night or it is day

It is not night

Therefore, it is day

3. Physics

a. Fate

b. Law of bivalence

c. Eternal recurrence

5. Ethics

a. Live according to nature

b. Reconciling free will with fate

c. Adjust your attitudes to accept the uncontrollable events outside of you

(1) Cup analogy

(2) Shore leave analogy

(3) Banquet analogy

(4) Drama analogy

E. Skepticism: Hellenistic philosophical school that emphasizes achieving tranquility by doubting everything.

1. Pyrrho (c.365-c.275 BCE): Hellenistic philosopher, founder of Pyrrhonian skepticism; advocated avoiding dogmatism and suspending judgment about the reality of things.

2. Sextus Empiricus (fl. 200 CE): Greek philosopher of the Pyrrhonian skeptical tradition who offered ten modes of skepticism.

a. Three kinds of philosophies

b. Definition of skepticism: “Skepticism is an ability to place appearances in opposition to judgments in any way whatever. By balancing reasons that are opposed to each other, we first reach the state of suspension of judgment, and afterwards that of tranquility.”

c. Happiness

d. Ten methods (modes/patterns) of skepticism

(1) Formula for all ten methods

(a) An object appears to have quality X to a dog

(b) The same object appears to have quality Y to a cow

(c) We cannot prefer the dog to the cow

(d) Hence, we suspend judgment as to whether the object has quality X or Y

(2) The tenth method concerns culturally relative views God and morality

e. Skepticism and Inconsistency

(1) Criticism 1:

(a) Response

(2) Criticism 2

(a) Response

F. Neoplatonism

1. Plotinus (204-270 CE): Hellenistic philosopher inspired by Plato who held that all levels of reality emanate from the One

2. Influence of Plato

a. Matter-spirit dualism

b. Body-soul dualism

c. The Good

3. The Divine Triad

a. The One: pure undifferentiated unity, from which all reality emanates

(1) All reality emanates from the One in various levels from pure being to nonbeing, similar to the sun emanating various levels of light

(2) We cannot directly describe the One; we can only say what it is not (way of negation), or understand it through the next level of reality that it creates (i.e., Intellect)

b. Divine Intellect (nous): is created by the One

(1) The beginning of plurality and complexity

(2) It includes the Platonic forms and thinks about them

c. Divine Soul: is created by the Intellect

(1) It is a more obscure copy of the Intellect

(2) It desires eternal forms, which it does not possess

(3) It creates the natural world, including particular material things, living things (d) e.g., since it can’t possess the perfect form of roundness itself, then it makes its own round thing out of material stuff

d. Material world

(1) Created by the divine Soul, it is the lowest emanation, almost non-being

(2) Evil is the result of the absence of good (because of its extreme distance the One and its divine goodness

4. Human body-soul

a. Two parts to the human soul

b. We strive to have our lower souls return to the divine nature



A. Introduction

1. Eastern philosophies emerged from within eastern religions

2. Panthestic theme in Eastern Philosophies

a. Transcendent notion of God (western religions)

b. Immanent notion of God (eastern religions

B. Hindu Philosophy

1. Background

a. Key philosophical notion: Self-God (Atman-Brahman)

2. Self-God and Release

a. Upanishads (600 and 400 BCE)

(1) “You are that”

 b. Bhagavad Gita (Song of God), a short portion of the Mahabharata

c. Release from Reincarnation

(1) Two components of rebirth

(2) Two approaches  to release from reincarnation

3. Yoga

a. Yoga of Action (Karma Yoga): routinely acting with indifference to the fruits of our actions

 b. Yoga of Meditation: immediately experiencing our union with Brahman by means of contemplation and meditation

4. Vedanta: Monism

a. Two kinds of monism:

(1) Weak monism

(2) Strong monism

b. Sankara (788-820 CE): strong monism

(1) Metaphor of the snake

(2) Interpretation of “You are that”

(3) Maya

c. Ramanuja (1017–1137 CE): weak monism

(1) Strong monism undermines religious devotion

(2) Interpretation of “You are that”

C. Buddhist Philosophy

1. Background

a. Founded in India by Gautama Siddhartha (563-483 BCE)

c. Pali Canon: Buddhism’s oldest sacred writings, written in the Pali language (related to Sanskrit)

2. Four Noble Truths

a. Suffering

b. Desire

c. Ending desire (nirvana)

d. Eightfold path

3. Improper Questions and the No-Self Doctrine

a. We should not discuss topics that do not facilitate enlightenment

b. No-self doctrine: there is no meaningful notion of a permanent individual human consciousness

(1) Buddha rejects these three theories of the self: (a) The self is identical with sensation, (b) The self is in no way connected with sensation, (c) There is a continuous self behind our sensations

4. Doctrine of Dependent Origination: everything that occurs in the world is the result of prior causes and all causal chains result in suffering

5. Emptiness and Zen Buddhism

a. Emptiness: reality has no describable distinctions

(1) The ordinary realm and the nirvana realm are the same thing

b. Zen Buddhism: a branch of Mahayana Buddhism that emerged within China in the 4th cn CE

(1) Koan system

(2) Purpose of the koan

D. Confucian Philosophy

1. Background

a. Warring states period

b. Confucius (551–479 BCE)

(1)  Confucius’s solution to anarchy

(2)  Analects

2. Ritual Conduct

a. Inward and outward component

3. Humanity

b. Confucian principle of reciprocity

4. Superior Person

5. Filial Piety

a. Five relationships

b. Whether filial obedience obligates us to follow one’s father’s immoral instructions

6. Good Government

a. Five actions that lead to good government

b. The Great Learning: steps to properly ordering one’s country

7. Mencius

a. Dialogue between Mencius and Kao on inherent moral goodness

b. Four natural virtues

E. Daoist Philosophy

1. Background

a. Daoism’s solution to social anarchy during warring states period

2. The Dao (“way” or “path”): the fundamental ordering principle behind nature, society, and individual people.

3. Return

a. Definition of return

b. Chuang-Tzu’s story of the dying man

4. Non-Action and Non-Mind

a. Definition of non-action

(1) Definition of non-action

(4) Approach to combat

b. Definition of Non-Mind

5. Minimal Governing

c. Rule through non-action

d. Rule through non-mind

e. Chuang-Tzu’s account of primitive natural society

6. Lieh-Tzu

a. View of natural desires

b. Implications of the shortness of life

c. Value of honorable/dishonorable legacy



A. Introduction

1. Four specific issues for medieval philosophers

a. Relation between faith and reason

(1) Tertullian

b. Proving the existence of God

c. Problem of religions language

d. Problem of universals

B. Augustine (354–430): early medieval Christian philosopher, influenced by Neoplatonism, who emphasized attaining knowledge through divine illumination and achieving moral goodness by only loving God supremely

1. Faith and reason

2. Against skepticism

a. Knowledge of my existence

b. Uncontestable knowledge claims

(1) Logical truths

(2) Mathematical truths

(3) Reports of immediate experiences

c. Reasonable confidence in sense perception and testimony

4. Knowledge through divine illumination

5. Time

a. Problem: the past and future do not exist; the past exists only as memories, the future exists only in mental images that we anticipate

b. Solution: time exist in the mind in three ways

6. God and Evil

a. God’s indirect role in suffering

b. Explanations of evil

(1) Solution 1: Human free choice of the will

(2) Solution 2: evil is a privation

(3) Solution 2: the perfection of the whole

7. Human free will and divine foreknowledge

a. Problem b. Solution: God's foreknowledge of your action is dependent upon on what your *choice* will be (not on your action itself)

8. Morality and appropriate desire

a. Disordered desire

9. Earthly and Heavenly Cities

a. Earthly city

b. Heavenly city

c. Compatibility of earthly and heavenly cities

C. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (5th cn.): early medieval mystical philosopher influenced by Neoplatonism who emphasized describing God through negative attributes

1. Unapproachable light and dazzling darkness

2. Assertion

a. Theological attributes

b. Philosophical attributes

c. Human metaphors

3. Denial

a. Deny human metaphors about God

b. Deny philosophical attributes of God

c. Deny theological attributes

D. Boethius (480-524): early medieval philosopher who developed the problem of universals and argued that God exists outside of time

1. Universals

a. Three options

(1) Plato: universals exist in the realm of the forms, separate from physical bodies

(2) Aristotle: universals are intrinsic—or built into—physical things (3) Universals as concepts (nominalism): mental abstractions that do not exist in the external world

2. Free will and foreknowledge

a. Solution: God stands outside of time

b. Two notions of eternality

(1) Endless existence on the timeline

(2) Existence completely outside of time

E. Anselm (1033–1109) medieval Christian philosopher who developed what is now called the ontological argument for God’s existence.

1. Faith and reason

Faith seeking understanding

2. Proof for God from absolute goodness (from Monologium; inspired by Plato)

a. Goodness exists in a variety of ways and degrees.

b. This would be impossible without an absolute standard of good, in which all goods participate.

c. Therefore, an absolute standard of good exists, which is God.

4. Ontological argument (from Proslogium, intended as a simplified proof for God)

a. Argument for God’s existence (in Chapter 2)

(1) God is defined as “The Greatest Possible Being.”

(2) The Greatest Possible Being must have every quality that would make it greater (or more superior) than it would be otherwise.

(3) Having the quality of real existence is greater than having the quality of imaginary existence

(4) Therefore, the Greatest Possible Being must have the quality of real existence.

b. Divine attributes

(1) God must be all powerful, just, self-existent, merciful, eternal, nonphysical, non-composite

(2) If he lacked any of these qualities, he would not be the greatest possible being

c. Argument for God’s necessary existence

d. Gaunilo’s criticism of the Ontological Argument

(1) Greatest possible island

(2) Anselm’s reply

F. Medieval Muslim Philosophy

1. Averroes, Ibn Rushd (1126-1198): medieval Spanish-Muslim philosopher who held that the world is eternal and there are different approaches to interpreting scripture

a. Conflicts between reason and scripture

(1) We should follow reason and interpret scriptures metaphorically to eliminate apparent conflicts

b. Two kinds of scriptural meaning

(1) Exoteric

(2) Esoteric

(3) Middle level

c. Three types of people who attempt to understand scripture

(1) Masses

(2) Dogmatic theologians

(3) Philosophers

d. Double truth doctrine

(1) Two levels of truth

2. Moses Maimonides (1135-1204): medieval Spanish-Jewish philosopher influenced by Muslim philosophy who rejected literal interpretations of scripture in favor of allegorical ones

a. Religious language: reject literal interpretations in favor of allegorical ones

(1) Misinterpreting scripture: we often wrongly impose literal meanings on scriptural words; we can clarify things by looking at the precise words used

(2) Statements about God are allegories for the qualities that we see in God’s creation

H. Aquinas, Thomas (1225–1274) medieval philosopher influenced by Aristotle who emphasized five proofs for God’s existence and morality grounded in natural law

1. Faith and reason

a. Twofold truth

(1) Presuppositions of faith (reason)

(2) Mysteries of faith (faith)

2. Proofs for God’s existence (Summa Theologica, 1, Q. 2)

a. Five ways

(1) First way: from motion (change)

(2) Second way: from efficient cause

(3) Third way: from possibility and necessity

(4) Fourth way: from gradation

(5) Fifth way: from the purposeful governance of the world

b. Argument from efficient cause (second way)

(1) Two kinds of causes.

(a) Accidental causes

(b) Essential causes

(2) Proof from efficient cause.

(a) Some things exist and their existence is caused.

(b) Whatever is caused to exist is caused to exist by something else.

(c) An infinite series of simultaneous causes resulting in the existence of a particular thing is impossible.

(d) Therefore, there is a first cause of whatever exists.

c. Argument from Design (fifth way)

(1) Objects without intelligence act towards some end (for example, a tree grows and reproduces its own kind).

(2) Moving towards an end exhibits a natural design that requires intelligence.

(3) If a thing is unintelligent, yet acts for some end, then it must be guided to this end by something which is intelligent.

(4) Therefore, an intelligent being exists that moves natural things toward their ends, which God.

4. God’s attributes: divine simplicity (Summa Theologica, 1, Q. 3)

a. God’s nature is that of simplicity: God has no parts

b. Aquinas’s proof

c. Specific attributes can be deduced from simplicity

(1) Perfection

(2) Eternal

5. Religious language

a. Equivocal

b. Univocal

c. Analogical

6. Natural Law: God endorses specific moral standards and fixes them in human nature, which we discover through rational intuition. (Summa Theologica, 1 of 2, Q. 90)

a. Four kinds of law

(1) Eternal law

(2) Natural law

(3) Human law

(4) Divine law

b. Highest principle of natural law

c. Six Primary principles of natural law based on human inclination

c. More specific principles

(1) Secondary

(2) Tertiary

I. Duns Scotus (1266-1308): medieval philosopher who criticized divine illumination and advocated divine command morality

1. Criticism of divine illumination

2. Matter-form

a. Partial acceptance of  Aristotle’s hylomorphism

b. Partial acceptance of Plato’s view of prime matter and substantial form

3. Divine command theory: God creates and can alter morality

c. God cannot change laws of morality requiring people to worship

J. William of Ockham (1285-1347): medieval philosopher who advocated a principle of simplicity (Ockham’s razor), nominalism regarding universals, and ethical divine command theory

1. Faith and reason: belief in God is a matter of faith rather than knowledge

2. Ockham’s Razor (principle of simplicity)

3. Universals

a. Rejects both kinds of realism

(1) Plato’s view

(2) Aristotle’s view

b. Defends nominalism

(1) Argument from simplicity (the razor)

(2) Argument from individual existence

(3) Argument from sovereignty

4. Extreme divine command theory



A. Introduction

1. Renaissance:

2. Humanism:

Five humanities subjects:

3. Classical philosophies revived by humanism: Platonism, Aristotelianism, Epicureanism, Stoicism, Skepticism, Eclecticism

B. Humanism

1. Petrarch: Stoicism and the Cure for the Whims of Fortune

Stoic message:

2. Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494): Platonist renaissance Humanist who emphasized human uniqueness.

a. 900 Conclusions or Theses (1486)

b. Platonism

Plato’s three degrees of created things

Great Chain of Being

c. Oration on Human Dignity (1486)

(1) Rejects the view that the uniqueness of humans stems from the great chain of being

(2) Pico’s explanation of human uniqueness

3. More: Epicureanism and the Pursuit of Unselfish Pleasure

4. Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de (1533–1592): French philosopher and essayist influenced by the Pyrrhonian skeptical tradition.

a. Reason cannot be relied upon and religious truth is arrived at through faith

Laxative metaphor

Skepticism helps expose the problems of applying reason to faith

b. Morality is grounded in social custom

Moral conscience

C. Luther, Calvin and the Reformation

1. Luther, Martin (1483–1546): German theologian who launched the Protestant Reformation in 1517 and criticized the use of Aristotle in philosophy and theology.

a. Rejects heavy reliance on Aristotle in university curriculum

3. Calvin, John (1509–1564): French Protestant reformer who emphasized human depravity and predestination.

a. Five points of Calvinism

(1) Total depravity

(2) Unconditional election

(3) Limited atonement

(4) Irresistible grace

(5) Perseverance of the saints

b. Sense of Divinity

c. Predestination

(1) Double predestination

D. The Extremes of Faith and Reason

1. Introduction

a. Skepticism:

b. Fideism:

2. Herbert: Deism and Reason without Faith

3. Pascal, Blaise (1623–1662): French religious philosopher of the fideist tradition who proposed that we wager in favor of belief in God when reason is neutral.

a. Attacks Montaigne’s view of custom

b. Pascal’s Wager

(1) Our options


                                     |            Believe                         Don't believe

God exists                    |            infinite happiness       nothing

God doesn't exist         |            nothing                        nothing


c. Steps towards faith

E. Scientific Revolution

1. Introduction

a. Two aspects of Scientific Revolution

b. Two systems of astronomy

(1) Earth-centered view (Aristotle, Ptolemy)

(2) Sun-centered system (Copernicus, Galileo)

2. Galileo Galilei (1564–1642): Renaissance Italian scientist who defended the sun-centered system and argued for the separation of science and religion.

a. Science and religion

(1) Purpose of scripture

b. Three implications of new astronomy on conceptions of the world

3. Francis Bacon (1561-1626): British philosopher who argued in favor of inductive reasoning in science, as opposed to deductive reasoning

a. Deduction vs. induction

b. Rejects Aristotle’s deductive method and proposes an a posteriori and inductive approach

c. Table of Presence (agreement)

d. Table of Absence

e. Table of Degrees

4. Isaac Newton (1642-1727): British astronomer and mathematician who defended the design argument for God

a. Design argument for God from probability

b. Not clear whether the God made the universe completely self-sustaining

E. Secularized Natural Law

1. Hugo Grotius (1583-1645): Dutch political philosopher who developed theories of natural law and just war

a. Natural Law

(1) Highest principle

(2) Five rules of natural law

(3) God and natural law

b. Just War theory

(1) Just cause for war

(2) Just conduct in war

(a) Discrimination

(b) Proportionality

(1) Three justifications for destruction of property

2. Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679): British philosopher who developed the notions of the state of nature and the social contract

a. Thesis: to secure our survival, we mutually agree to set aside our hostilities and establish a government to assure that we abide by our agreements.

b. Materialism

c. State of nature (natural condition)

(1) Three causes of quarrel

(2) State of war

(3) No natural basis for justice or morality

a. Social contract

(1) Three laws of nature

(2) Creation of government

(a) To assure that people keep their agreements, we need to create a government with absolute authority that will punish offenders



A. Introduction

1. General view of rationalism

2. Two features of continental rationalism

B. René Descartes (1596–1650) rationalist philosopher who developed a method of scientific investigation and argued that all knowledge is derived from the truth of one’s existence.

2. Method of investigation

a. Eliminate all former opinions and establish knowledge only on solid foundations

b. Descartes’ four rules of inquiry

c. Provisionary code of morals

3. Doubt as a tool for certainty

a. Methodological doubt

b. Doubts the senses

(1) Sensory illusions

(2) Dream hypothesis

(3) Evil genius hypothesis

4. One indubitable truth is the foundation of all knowledge

a. Archimedes analogy

b. The indubitable truth that “I exist”

5. Building knowledge upon the one foundational truth

a. My true identity

b. God exists: I am born with a concept of “infinite perfection”; this idea is infinitely elaborate and, so, I could not have invented it myself with my finite mind; it must have been produced by God himself, who is infinitely perfect; thus God exists

c. God is not a deceiver

d. Clarity and distinctness

e. The external world exists

7. Interactive dualism and the pineal gland

a. Humans are composed of both a physical body and a spirit-mind

b. Problem: our minds are non-three-dimensional spirit, and our bodies are three-dimensional matter; it requires a virtual miracle to move information from one

realm to the other

c. Pineal Gland Solution

B. Nicholas Malebranche (1638–1715) French rationalist philosopher who developed the theory of occasionalism and argued that we see all things through God.

1. Life: born in Paris with a malformed spine which caused him pain throughout life; studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, joined a French monastery; works include The Search After Truth (1674-75)

2. God is the connecting link between all human spirit-body interaction

3. Sensory information: getting data from the physical to the spiritual (seeing all things through God)

4. Bodily movement: getting data from the spiritual to the physical (occasionalism)

5. Extreme occasionalism: God is the principal force behind all causal events

6. God and evil

a. Explanation of human-made suffering

b. Explanation of naturally caused suffering

(1) Balance between simplicity and perfection

C. Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza (1632–1677): Jewish rationalist philosopher who argued that God (in a non-personal sense) is the single substance of the universe.

2. Substance monism

a. Pantheism: God is identical to nature as a whole, and human beings are part of God; we know God by knowing nature

b. God is the only substance that exists: nothing in the universe exists apart from God

c. God’s attributes: God has an infinite number of attributes, but humans can only conceive of two: consciousness and three-dimensionality (God has a huge spirit-soul and a huge physical body)

d. God’s modes: God’s attributes take on different mini-forms (rocks, trees, people)

3. Mind-body parallelism

a. Consciousness and three-dimensionality are part of the same substance, so spirit-mind and physical bodies automatically operate in parallel with each other

4. Determinism and bondage

a. God has no free will and does not act with a purpose; things in the universe happen mechanically

b. No human free will

(1) Falling stone analogy

c. Human bondage

5. Free speech: rulers should only control how people behave, and not extend to what people think or say

a. Six points of free speech

D. Gottfried Willhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) German rationalist philosopher who developed the theory of monads and argued that this is the best possible world that God could create.

2. Key assumption: God maximizes his creative abilities

3. The universe is comprised of monads

a. The universe is infinitely large

b. There is no empty space (i.e., no vacuum): all space is maximally filled with stuff

c. Monads are the stuff that fills all space

(1) Infinitely small, indivisible, non-three-dimensional (like mathematical points)

(2) They take the form of objects by sensing the characteristics of monads around them (e.g., clusters of monads that comprise rocks, or air, or people – sort of like stem cells)

(3) Each one contains a master plan of the universe so they can follow their assigned function (sort of like DNA in cells)

4. Body/spirit parallelism

The mind-spirit and body operate in perfect synchronization like two clocks that are in perfect agreement; they are both part of God’s perfect master plan (pre-established harmony), and thus stay in synchronization; each realm follows its own distinct laws (spirit laws and physical laws)

5. The best of all possible worlds

a. God creates the best of all possible worlds: his wisdom tells him which his best, his goodness has him choose it, and his power has him create it

b. Pre-ordered harmony between the natural world and moral world

c. Why God doesn’t eliminate evil completely



A. Introduction

1. General view of empiricism

2. Two features of British empiricism

B. John Locke (1632–1704): British empiricist philosopher who denied innate ideas and argued that knowledge come from experience.

1. Against innate ideas

a. Two alleged types of innate ideas

(1) Speculative

(2) Practical

c. No universal consent concerning innate ideas

d. Innate ideas do not lie dormant within us until the so-called age of reason

2. Acquiring knowledge through experience

a. Simple ideas

(1) Sensation: perceptions of colors, tastes, smells, tactile solidity

(2) Reflection: perceptions of the mental acts of thinking and willing

(3) Both: perceptions of pleasure/pain, power, existence, unity, succession

b. Complex ideas: more detailed ideas that are built upon simple ones

Result from combination (composite ideas, e.g., an apple), comparing (relations, e.g., largeness), or abstraction (general ideas, e.g., greenness)

(1) Two types of complex ideas

(a) Substances: individual objects (e.g., rocks, trees, houses, animals, people and God)

(b) Modes: attributes of those objects that cannot exist independently of them (e.g., an apple’s attributes of being round, crunchy and moist)

4. Primary and secondary qualities

a. Primary: qualities which are inseparable from any physical body

b. Secondary: qualities that we attribute to objects (spectator-dependent)

c. Tertiary: the power that an object has to produce new ideas or sensations in us

5. Political philosophy and natural rights: God has invested all people with fundamental rights to life, health, liberty and possessions, and governments are formed to protect these rights

a. Laws of nature

(1) State of nature

(2) Fundamental law of nature: “we ought not harm others with respect to life, health, liberty, or possessions”.

(3) Law-breakers

b. Revolution

(1) The purpose of government is preserving our basic rights

(2) When it fails to keep its part of the agreement, the people may remove the offending government and set up a better one

C. George Berkeley (1685–1753): Irish empiricist philosopher who argued for the idealist position that there is no material world, and that all reality exists in the minds of spirits.

1. Idealist theory

a. Idealism: the metaphysical theory (opposed to materialism) that reality exists in the minds of spirits or is mind-like

b. No material world

(1) All we experience are sensations (sensible qualities), not the external objects themselves

c. God’s role: God stores all sensible perceptions in his mind and feeds them to us

(1) To be is to be perceived: external things exist only in our minds or in God’s mind

(2) An empty room does not disappear since God continues to perceive the room’s sensible qualities

2. Arguments for his theory

a. No distinction between primary and secondary qualities

b. Simplicity argument

3. God and evil

a. Problem: God would be the author of evil

b. Solution

D. David Hume (1711–1776): Scottish empiricist philosopher and skeptic who argued that causal connections are grounded in mental habits.

1. Origin of ideas: all ideas come from sensory and mental experiences

a. Division of perceptions


                         Ideas (thoughts)

Perceptions <                                                    Outward (sensations)

                         Impressions (feelings) <

                                                                           Inward (emotions, reflection)


b. All ideas are copied from impressions

c. Test for meaning

2. The association of ideas

a. Resemblance

b. Contiguity (adjoining in close proximity)

c. Cause and effect

3. Personal identity: we have no experience that of a self persists through time and change

a. Traditional idea of the self: it is that it is a single, unified substance that continues through time

b. Problem: we have no actual experience (or internal impression) of a unified, continuous self

c. Our actual experience is of various perceptions that come and go, such as feelings of heat or cold

d. Theatre analogy

4. Causality: causality is not grounded in an objective feature of the external world, but rather on a private feeling of expectation that B will follow from A

a. Problem: the idea of causality is meaningless unless we can trace each of these three elements back to an impression; the difficulty is with the idea of necessary connection

(1) No outward

(2) Rejected Possible inward (reflective) impressions

b. Hume’s solution: the idea of necessary connection is based on a specific inward impression, namely, a feeling of expectation that we have when we repeatedly see A followed by B

5. Miracles: it is never reasonable to believe second hand reports concerning miracles

a. Hume’s three assumptions about miracles

b. Main argument against miracles

c. Four additional arguments against miracles.

(1) Witnesses lack integrity

(2) People are predisposed to sensational stories (e.g., National Enquirer)

(3) Reports of miracles are typically from primitive countries

(4) Miracles support rival religious systems, and thus nullify each other

6. Morality: morality is not a rational judgment about objective moral truths, but is internal feeling of pleasure and pain

a. Traditional rationalist view of morality

b. Hume’s proof for his view that moral approval is an emotional reaction

c. We can’t derive ought from is

7. Radical skepticism and natural belief: human reason is inherently contradictory, but nature overrides our reasoning by giving us natural beliefs

a. Inherent flaw in human reasoning

b. Function of natural beliefs