Рабочая программа по дисциплине иностранный язык (английский) (наименование дисциплины) по отрасли

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IV. The Negation of Philosophy

In A Pluralistic Universe (1909) and Essays in Radical Empiricism (1912), James developed his metaphysical position: there is no fixed external world to be discovered by one's mind but instead a "humming-buzzing confusion" that one organizes through experience. The universe, as well as one's knowledge of it, is continuously evolving. Never complete, it cannot be reduced to a single underlying substance.

Neither materialistic nor spiritualistic monism satisfied William James. The individual is a mere puppet in the hands of absolute substance, be it universal matter or universal mind. The test of a theory, belief, doctrine, must be its effect upon us, its practical consequences -- the pragmatic test: whatever works is true. The possession of truth is not an in itself but a preliminary means to vital satisfaction. Knowledge is an instrument for the sake of life, existing as practical utility. True ideas are those we can assimilate, validate, corroborate, and verify. Truth is, therefore, useful because it is true, it is true because it is useful.

James's empiricism opposes classical rationalism and traditional empiricism. He denies that whatever is rational is real. To reach reality we must take experience as it exists before it has been manipulated by conceptual thinking. Reality is the flux of our sensations coming from what we know not. It is the totality of consciousness, experience permeated with thought. Reality is ever in the making, growing where thinking beings are at work.

James's radical empiricism makes for pluralism, multiplicity, diversity, opposition either in quantity or quality. Pluralism satisfies man's moral nature, recognizes individual perceptions. It is melioristic; if each man will do his best, the universe cannot fail. In such a world man is free to seek his ideal.

CRITICAL NOTE: The only metaphysics consistent with James's theory of knowledge has to be based on a selection from among a multitude of opinions. This eclectic approach is clearly the negation of philosophy, for it does not lead to any absolute or to any certitude. James sought to avoid this difficulty and to reach the absolute and God by having recourse to the unconscious mind.

V. Consciousness and the Subconscious

James's psychology gives foundation to his empiricism. Consciousness is active and a unity. It is selective and teleological. It carves out man's world. The will, by making a strong idea focal to the exclusion of others, fills the mind and prepares for action. The intellect isolates and integrates "things," imputes reality to them, through the emotional and active life, and conceives them pragmatically. The unity of consciousness is thorough connectedness, a flowing stream, "substantive" parts shading into one another through the "transitive" parts, surrounded by a "fringe" or "feeling of tendency."

He acknowledges a stream of experiences but not a stream of conscious experiences. Therewith he denies that in knowledge the relation between the knowing subject and the object to be known is fundamental, which almost all modern philosophers had taken for granted. This denial has induced many contemporary philosophers, though opposed to James's views, to reconsider the bases and starting points of their own thoughts.

James discovered besides, around and beneath the conscious mind, a darkened psychical zone, the zone of the subconscious, in which -- he believed -- the highest spiritual values, such as genius, sanctity and so forth, were formed, and contact was established with the absolute.

CRITICAL NOTES: James's discovery of the subconscious mind was surely a great contribution to psychology and won for James world-wide fame. But we cannot accept James's doctrine that the highest spiritual values originate in the subconscious mind, for the subconscious mind is irrational and therefore the highest spiritual values would be founded on irrationality -- a supposition which is absurd. James may justify in this way his stand as a liberal Protestant; he may be quoted as a father of Modernism; but no one can deny that his religious position is in complete opposition to the basic statement of his pragmatism -- for it does not lead to any solution, to any practical certitude, to any justification of the universe.

If the only road leading to the supreme spiritual reality is to be found in the analysis of psychological emotions, of religious sentiment, objective Christian dogma disappears. It is modified and replaced by the subjective exigencies of each individual, and thus every believer creates his own religion, his own truth. This, of course, is the central position of Modernism. The logical consequence is that even the nature of God will be understood differently according to various religious emotions. In fact the sincere religious tendency of James himself stumbles along and falls into a pluralistic conception of Divinity. God is finite, He exists in time -- a being among many beings, and like us, a creator of His own story.

How can any satisfaction be found in such a religion? Even from the viewpoint of Pragmatism, it cannot work, for in it none of the fundamental aspirations of mankind are fulfilled. There is no certitude, no hope, no absolute. How can such a limited God guarantee the order of the physical and of the human world? What is left of the world of spirits?

Religious Pragmatism is merely a shortsighted, emotional and irrational attempt to replace dogmatic, absolute and universal truth with the personal fancies of the man in the street. It is morally disastrous, for if truth depends upon subjective feeling, any action can be justified by virtue of the satisfaction it procures. Such a philosophy makes man his own judge and leads to total moral anarchy.


The Philosophy of Plato

I. Life and Works

Plato was born in Athens in the year 428 or 427 B.C.E. He was of a noble family and was related through his father to Codrus and on his mother's side to Solon. His real name was Aristocles, but he was called Plato by his instructor in gymnastics because of his broad shoulders. Physically perfect, he had an artistic and dialectical temperament which remained with him through his whole life and made of him the philosopher-poet.

He was at first in the school of Cratylus, a follower of Heraclitus and the Sophists, and from him received his start in the study of poetry and an understanding of the philosophers.

At the age of twenty he came under the tutelage of Socrates; he felt profoundly the ethical influence of his master during the eight years he spent in his companionship. During his entire life he remained attached to Socrates, having a profound admiration for him because of the teaching he had received from the master and also because of personal friendship. "I thank the gods for having been born a Greek and not a foreigner, a man and not a woman, free and not a slave, but above all for having been born during the time of Socrates."

We do not know whether Plato was in Athens during the trial of Socrates. It is certain that if not before that time then shortly afterward he left Athens where, after the demise of the great master, the air was not healthy for his disciples. With some friends Plato retired to Megara, to the school of Euclid.

Between 390 and 388 B.C.E. Plato began long voyages in order to place himself in contact with the principal schools which flourished at that time. He visited Egypt, whose venerable antiquity and political stability he admired. He also went to southern Italy, where he was in contact with the Pythagoreans and studied their doctrines. He then went to Sicily and was at the court of Dionysius the Elder, the tyrant of Syracuse. There he formed a friendship with Dion, brother-in-law of the tyrant.

Falling under suspicion Plato was consigned by Dionysius as a prisoner of war to a Spartan ambassador and was then sold into slavery. Freed by a friend in 388 B.C.E., he returned to Athens. There, about the year 387 B.C.E., he founded his famous school, which was called the Academy from the gardens of Academus, where the classes took place. Here Plato imparted his philosophical teachings to his followers. He taught in the Academy for fifty years, that is, until he died.

During this period Plato left Athens twice to go to Syracuse. The first time was in 366 B.C.E. when, after the death of Dionysius, his successor, Dionysius the Younger, and Dion invited him to come there; he went with the hope of carrying out an experiment in his form of the ideal state. When Dion was sent into exile, the deluded philosopher returned to his native city. He returned again to Syracuse in 361 to reconcile Dionysius with Dion. His attempt failed, and he was held a prisoner by Dionysius. Plato was liberated, probably through the intercession of Archytas of Tarentum, general, scientist, and Pythagorean philosopher. After these unhappy attempts, Plato never left Athens again, but became absorbed in his teaching, in metaphysical speculations, and in the editing of his works. Death, which came in 347, interrupted this work. The philosopher was eighty years old.

Plato is one of the most accomplished geniuses humanity has ever known. In him are united the speculative and scientific spirit and the sense of artistic beauty, the influence of which have been felt in all times. All the known works of Plato remain extant, that is, thirty-six dialogues, thirteen letters and a collection of definitions. Critical study casts some doubt on a few -- for example, the definitions, which appear apocryphal, and some of the letters. The most important part of Plato's literary activity is represented by the dialogues, which are authentic in their greater part. In default of the chronological order in which these works were published, they are commonly classified in four groups, representing the various developments of Plato's thought.

They are as follows:

  • Socratic Dialogues, youthful writings in which Plato, as yet lacking a personal system of philosophy, expounds and defends the doctrine of Socrates: Laches; Charmides; Euthyphro; Lesser Hippias; Apology for Socrates; Crito; Ion; Lysis.

  • Polemical Dialogues against Sophistic doctrine. In these works Sophism is given a concise critical revision under logical, ethical and political aspects, and the doctrine of Socrates defended: Gorgias; Meno; Euthydemus; Cratylus; Theaetetus; Menexenus; Greater Hippias.

  • Dialogues of Maturity. Plato, now in complete possession of his system, expounds the theory of the Idea, basis of all his problems: Phaedrus; the Symposium; Phaedo; the Republic.

  • Dialogues of Late Maturity, or of his revised teaching: Parmenides; the Sophist; the Statesman; Philebus; Timaeus; Laws.

These dialogues are the most representative of Plato's thought in all its divisions.

II. Doctrine: General Ideas

Socrates had spoken about concepts, and had affirmed their existence in the field of logic and morality. But he had said nothing of the nature of concepts and of their origin. Plato, his greatest disciple, not only inherited his master's doctrine on concepts, but sought to complete it, giving it a metaphysical foundation. For Plato, the concepts of which Socrates had spoken are representative of a metaphysical world which really exists. This is the world of Ideas; Plato conceives of these Ideas as having all the attributes of the being of Parmenides.

Ideas, for Plato, are subsistent realities, distinct both from the mind that possesses them and the material objects in which they appear. Ideas are eternal, immovable. Opposed to the world of Ideas there is Chaos, the element which receives the form. And between the worlds of Ideas and Chaos there are Demiurge and souls. Demiurge infuses the soul in the Chaos and, working upon it, makes possible this visible world, the world of becoming, of which Heraclitus had spoken.

Another important characteristic of the speculation of Plato, one which he had inherited from Socrates, is that philosophy is conceived of in its practical order. Man must seek the truth; and once the truth is discovered in the purely speculative field, it must serve to find the solution of practical problems: Philosophy must render man morally better. This was the philosophic labor, the quest in which Plato spent his whole noble existence, and it explains the great influence his philosophy has exercised on all ages up to the present day.

III. Theory of Knowledge

Plato distinguishes four degrees of knowledge:

  • Apprehension of pure sense images, such as dreams and imaginations;

  • Perceptive knowledge of sensible objects, the purpose of which is to form a particular judgment, such as "This rose is red;...this light is beautiful";

  • Mathematical knowledge -- for instance, the apprehension of the particular shape of the perceived rose (Plato observes that mathematical apprehension can be held also independently of any object -- circularity can be apprehended in itself, independently of a circular object);

  • Philosophical knowledge, which consists in the apprehension of the Ideas, as absolute, unconditioned and eternal realities.

The first two degrees constitute what Plato calls opinion, because the things appear in this manner, but they could appear also in a different manner. The last two degrees constitute true understanding, because their object is the reality which is, and which cannot be otherwise. (See "The Myth of the Cave" in Plato's Republic, VII, 1-3.)

The four degrees of knowledge may be reduced to two fundamental classes:

  • Sense knowledge, which includes apprehension of sensorial images, and perception of sensible objects;

  • Intellective knowledge, which includes mathematical notions and knowledge of ideas.

For Plato, the inferior degrees constitute knowledge in so far as they express the necessity of something which transcends them; they are steps through which the soul ascends to the world of Ideas. The soul, which understands that its happiness consists in the world of Ideas, never is satisfied with the knowledge of the inferior degrees. Thus it appeals from the inferior to the superior degrees, till the knowledge of Ideas is reached. This continuous dissatisfaction of the soul is what Plato calls Love or Eros, the god of love. (See "The Myth of Eros" in the Symposium.)

IV. General Metaphysics

The World of Ideas: Plato's investigations begin on the Socratic plan, that is, with sensitive cognition, with the purpose not only of transcending the data of sense and arriving at concepts (a problem already solved by Socrates), but also of going beyond Socratic concepts to the point of reaching a world where concepts are actual realities and not only simple representations.

There are two ways to knowledge: the senses and the intellect. The two kinds of knowledge which result differ essentially: sensitive cognition tells us that a thing is, but does not tell us what that thing is; sensitive cognition shows us the existence but not the essence of the thing known. Consequently sense knowledge is devoid of the characteristics of universality and necessity. On the other hand, intellective (conceptual) knowledge tells us what the object is that we know, and has at the same time the characteristics of necessity and universality.

According to Plato, these two kinds of knowledge are not derivable one from the other. Intellective knowledge does not take its origin from sensitive cognition. First of all, the characteristics of both are diametrically opposed: sensitive cognition is contingent and particular; intellective knowledge is necessary and universal. Since the perfect cannot be derived from the imperfect, intellective knowledge cannot be derived from that which is sensitive.

Moreover, Plato, led by his mathematical and aesthetic studies, finds not only that these concepts cannot be derived from experience, but also that such concepts precede experience. I must, for example, have first the concept of a circle in my mind in order to know whether that particular figure on the blackboard is a circle or not. If the knowledge of just what a circle is (the concept of a circle) were not anterior to the data of the senses (the circle drawn on the board), I would be unable to affirm that the given figure is a circle.

Having affirmed the distinction of inderivability and the precedence of intellective over sensitive knowledge, Plato makes of our concepts more than representative signs; he makes of them a world of actual realities. The Ideas of Plato are endowed with real existence in a world superior to the world which we see, which is the object of sensitive cognition. Ideas as they appear in our own mind are but the images or representations of things in this world apart.

Plato was induced to admit the existence of this world of Ideas from a parallelism which he noted between intellective and sensitive cognition. If sense knowledge presupposes a world constituted of beings and is derived from them, equally so must it be said of intellective knowledge: hence there exists a world of beings (Ideas) from which our ideas draw their representations.

The suprasensible world of Plato must be considered as constituting a multiplicity of subsistent ideas which find their unity in the Idea of the Good (God). Platonic Ideas in fact are but the realities which refract the single Idea (the Good). Granted, then, the identity of the Good and of the True and the Beautiful, all ideas are at the same time true, good and beautiful, i.e., perfect models. The world of Ideas is the world of true reality.

The existence of a transcendent world (Ideas) presents Plato with new and grave problems regarding cosmic and psychic nature. Both the sensible world and the human intellect participate in the world of transcendence, the first under the form of essence and the second under the form of Ideas. How can this participation be understood? In other words, what is the relationship between the sensible world and that of transcendence; why are ideas present in the human mind independently of all contact with the sensible world? The attempt to resolve these new problems forms what we will call the cosmology and the psychology of Plato.

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