Sunday, May 10, 2009

101 Herman Bergson

In a bookstore I once bought the book "100 Essentail Thinkers",by Peter Stoker. It was parked on my bookshelf with that famous thought: next time I'll read it. The attractive quality of the book was that each philosopher got one picture and only one page of text.

Thus I got the idea to start a class in SL, sothat I had a good motivation to read the book thoroughly and the big gain would be, that after so many years teaching computer classes, I would be back in business after lecturing on all these 100 philosophers.

And I can tell you, I AM back in business. I reanimated my degree in philosophy and learnt that I am still the same student of philosophy as I was when I was 24, but this time with so much more insight and understanding.

You all were in fact my teachers and a great help during more than a year. Your participation and enthousiasm showed that it was worth investing so much time in this project.

Each philosopher had answers and evoked new questions, never the final answer. Are we then only left with questions? How can philosophy help you think, when you only get questions?

Let me describe you what I have learnt from our classes. For some reason you are attracted by a specific philosphical theory. Don't ask for a rational explanation, but approach the issue as Popper did regarding hypotheses. They are the result of your creativity and imagination. So is also your feeling attracted to some philosophical theory.

That is, I guess, why I was convinced that choosing for analytical philosophy was the right choice almost 40 years ago. So, make a choice, follow your intuition and say: yes, that is how I think about things too, when you read something philosophical.

But the next step is the most important one; you have to keep an open mind. You know what your fundamental questions are and in some philosopher you recognize a soulmate. However, this doesnt mean that you believe every word of him in awe. On the contrary, he will be the one who you will question and interrogate in the most severe way and that is where you become a philosopher yourself.

This class has shown me that in all these 40 years I havent changed my philosophical views that much at all. I was educated in analytical philosophy and I still see it as the best tool for me.

In matters of ontology and epistemology I have gained a much cleared insight in the difference between realisme / naturalism and idealism. Add to this the theories of Kuhn and Feyerabend, the ontological relativism and I feel I am in a fascinating philosophical universe regarding the question after reality.

And within this context I discovered that there is a novelty: quantum physics. I know it means something, but I have no idea what. I only have gotten the impression that it could be something: a new chapter to study.

My thesis was on Materialism and the philosophy of mind. That was in 1977. Today the focus in philosophical debate moved from epistemology to the philosophy of mind.

I still believe that materialism comes closest to my ideas about man and mind. That is why I was so enthousiastic about Dewey, where I said that "knowledge isn't a one on one correspondence with reality, but an instrument, a process to survive as a learning organism.", according to Dewey.

What was new to me was to discover the strong influence of pragmatism on Kuhn and Feyerabend. It only confirmed my opinions.

Ethics, finally, is an important subject to me too. There I follow the analytic tradition in making the distinction between descriptive statements and non-descriptive statements, the difference between "Rembrandt was a painter." and "Rembrandt was a better painter than Rubens."

Ethical statements are non-descriptive statements. They don't describe something, they do something. I still have to work on this subject, but this is the direction I choose to go.

There is a comment in our blog from Cailleach. It was after the introduction class of the project. She said: "Thanks Herman, I enjoyed the introductory class today. Anticipating the pleasure of getting to know the great 100. "

Well, Cailleach, we both had the pleasure and I hope your anticipation came true. As you are still attending the class, I think it did.

Last but not least I'd love to recommend you "The Future of Philosophy, John R. Searle --- (Article for the millenium proceedings of the Royal Society). A very clear and readable article. He tells the same story as I have done here.

The Discussion

[13:27] itsme Frederix: most statements say more about the subject than the object Herman!
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL
[13:27] hope63 Shepherd: start with our ancestors to get a clearer-- or more objective picture herman..
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: :-))
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: 101
[13:27] hope63 Shepherd: afk
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: herman
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, indeed
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: is 101
[13:28] Elia Scribe: Why are ethical statements not descriptive?
[13:28] Ze Novikov: yes !! 101
[13:28] arabella Ella: 101 - Herman Bergson ...
[13:28] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:28] arabella Ella: could it be that ethical statements are like intentions to potential action?
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: a hearty round of applause for the Professor
[13:28] arabella Ella applauds
[13:28] Ze Novikov: claps
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: ***** BR@VO *** BR@VO*****
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: thank you , Herman
[13:28] Paula Dix applauds
[13:28] APPLAUSE: A Hearty round of applause bursts from the crowd
[13:28] APPLAUSE: A Hearty round of applause bursts from the crowd
[13:28] itsme Frederix: /applause
[13:28] Vladimir Apparatchik: An unfortunate number herman - Room 101 in 1984 is the room of your fears LOL
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: ahha
[13:29] itsme Frederix: /aplause
[13:29] Paula Dix: lol
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:29] You: thank you.....but I see that there are some questions
[13:29] Samuel Okelly: many many thanks for all your time, effort and hard work herman :)
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: uh oh, yes Vlad
[13:29] itsme Frederix: no thinking without questions herman!
[13:30] Aya Beaumont: A massive undertaking, well pushed through.
[13:30] You: Ok..let's start with Arabella's request to elaborate on the confirmation I see in pragmatism
[13:30] hope63 Shepherd: three cheers for Herman.. because i think it's easy to build something in SL with enough lindens.. but he gave us something you can't buy..
[13:30] You: thank you Samuel
[13:31] arabella Ella: ty Herman ... I am honoured ...
[13:31] You: Oh cool association Vladimir..I like that one
[13:31] You: But Arabella.....her question
[13:32] arabella Ella: yes pls
[13:32] You: What I felt confirmed was my epistemological views
[13:32] You: like Dewey says that knowledge is a tool, not a collection of theories and facts..
[13:33] You: I think that I am instrumentalistic in some respect too...
[13:33] arabella Ella: but herman dont some people just collect information, theories and facts?
[13:33] hope63 Shepherd: hmm. i think that knowledge is a collection of theories and facts.. and they become a tool:)
[13:33] You: And I never realized that Kuhn and Feyerabend are basically pragamatists
[13:33] itsme Frederix: Herman some epistomological question remains ... are the tools already there (just to find) or do we make them
[13:33] arabella Ella: dont get me wrong i like dewey and his ideas lots
[13:34] You: The remark by Hope.....
[13:34] You: That is just the point....
[13:35] You: if you say there are theories and they become a tool , you get a completely different reference
[13:35] Aya Beaumont: I have a question too, herman...
[13:35] itsme Frederix: arabella even collecting is (in quantum view / Heisenberg) an act
[13:35] arabella Ella: could you explain herman pls?
[13:35] You: Ok Aya
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: right on time rod
[13:35] Aya Beaumont: What is next for you?
[13:35] Rodney Handrick: Hi Gemma
[13:35] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:35] arabella Ella: yes itsme it is
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: :))) Rodney
[13:35] You: I'll get to that later Aya
[13:35] Aya Beaumont: Ah =)
[13:35] Rodney Handrick: Hi Ari
[13:36] You: What did I mean with reference...
[13:36] You: here we touch a real epistemological issue...
[13:37] You: when you say that there are theories you imply some kind of realisme or naturalisme...theories describing an emperical reality
[13:37] You: Kuhn and especially Feyerabend hold the view that there are theories indeed, but they are a creation of the mind...
[13:38] You: so the theory does not refer to an external word primarily
[13:38] hope63 Shepherd: which should be justified or falsificated:)
[13:38] itsme Frederix: and does not pre-exist!
[13:38] You: The theory is the tool, the fact that it works is the link with reality
[13:39] You: No platonism here
[13:39] itsme Frederix: with high impact Herman
[13:39] Vladimir Apparatchik: I missed your Feyerband lecture unfortunately, I've always been concerned about his "anything goes"
[13:39] arabella Ella: but isnt everything a construct of our mind? according to your epistemology what do we really know herman?
[13:39] itsme Frederix: but I agree (I guess)
[13:40] hope63 Shepherd: may the link with what we see as reality - a a special time given- is the lint to the theory.. and not vice versa--
[13:40] itsme Frederix: at least mind is an construct ara
[13:40] Paula Dix: this means theories can stabilish relations that arent real? and if so, they can still be "useful"?
[13:40] You: To answer your question we need to elaborate on a theory of knowledge.
[13:41] Elia Scribe: the object and the cognizer are both essential?
[13:41] You: No Paula...if you say it like that you presuppose an independent reality
[13:41] hope63 Shepherd: not only essential elia..
[13:41] Paula Dix: ok
[13:41] hope63 Shepherd: this is what it is all about..
[13:42] itsme Frederix: I wouls say yes Paula, as long as it works - or seems to work - even if its wrong
[13:42] Elia Scribe: Sorry, what is beyond essential Hope?
[13:42] Paula Dix: was thinking about someone told me space rockets use a geometry where infinite straights passs by a ponit parallel to a line, which for me looks wrong, but it still is used with success...
[13:43] You: wow...paula...:-)
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: noting beyond elia.. but i think ebven nietsche recognized that the i is only recognizable through the other..
[13:43] itsme Frederix: Please Herman be more concrete with the answer to Paula's question (and my thought about it to)
[13:43] herman Bergson smiles
[13:44] You: I have no knowledge of rocket geometrics
[13:44] itsme Frederix: Paula that is non-euclidian geometry
[13:44] You: I wouldnt dare to say what she said..:-)
[13:44] Paula Dix: i mean, this non-euclidian describes a non-real space? its a mental only theory?
[13:45] Vladimir Apparatchik: Space-time is non-Euclidean
[13:45] itsme Frederix: how do you know its a non-real space if it works
[13:45] Elia Scribe: Right Vlad!
[13:45] You: Wait...
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: we need another class in another place for that
[13:46] You: what is confusing here is that Paula supposes that there is a real world of which we have knowledge
[13:46] itsme Frederix: Vla space-time can succesfully be described by non-euc, it seems to work (yet)
[13:46] Paula Dix: yes, thats my question
[13:46] hope63 Shepherd: lets continue .. because hawkins is going to resing from his professor job..
[13:46] hope63 Shepherd: ther is space for one of us..
[13:46] Paula Dix: and non-real mental worlds
[13:47] You: Well....the position pragmatims takes and in particular Feyerabend is, that you cant talk about a real world
[13:47] Aya Beaumont: This existence isn't big enough for the two of us, is that it, hope? =)
[13:47] You: we only have theories
[13:47] itsme Frederix: shoudn't we state that was is (and not is) all what seems to be talked about - world
[13:47] You: and they work or dont
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: smile.. for US- anytime aya:)
[13:47] Vladimir Apparatchik: But the key question to me is how it works - it's fantastically successful. How can that be? As Einstein said - the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible - I guess I'm a closet Platonist
[13:48] Paula Dix: or then, since minds are part of the world, we cant get out of it
[13:48] Elia Scribe: The US center for military GPS satelites, has make time adjustments for non-euclidian reactivity (slowing of time) or your GPS will be off by kilometers every month. These are not only theories.
[13:48] You: Indeed Paula....bu this idea goes back to Kant is not new
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: vlad.. how does the cave example fit into what you said...
[13:48] itsme Frederix: Vla .. that it works is fantastic but also so dull just tautologies
[13:48] You: And Vladimir...How it works.....
[13:49] Aya Beaumont: Bye people. Thank you again, herman.
[13:49] Vladimir Apparatchik: dull? dull? tautolgies?
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: bye aya
[13:49] Paula Dix: bye aya
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: come for the new thread
[13:49] Ze Novikov: bye
[13:49] You: It only works within the context of the given theory and indeed it sounds tautological
[13:49] Aya Beaumont: Ow!
[13:49] Vladimir Apparatchik: Quantum phusics id dull and a tautology?
[13:49] itsme Frederix: don't you agree Vla
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Aya
[13:49] You: you could say What works is reality to us and reality is what works for us
[13:50] Paula Dix: good :)
[13:50] itsme Frederix: thats really dull Herman
[13:50] Paula Dix: i see, hence science
[13:50] hope63 Shepherd: aya.. was apleasure e o have known you and be able to listen to you..
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: In becoming reality, philosophy retreats and science takes charge
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: reality
[13:50] You: I never said that life is exciting Itsme...:-)
[13:50] Vladimir Apparatchik: I'm amazed that a creature from evolution manages to come up with these fantastic theories that don't just describe and explain but also predict,
[13:51] You: True Vladimir.....we are one of a kind on thisplanet
[13:51] arabella Ella: but herman .. how can ethics work just cos it is real or vice versa? do your comments apply to ethics too?
[13:51] Vladimir Apparatchik: How can successul prediction be a tautology?
[13:51] hope63 Shepherd: hmm. some creatures can prdict earthquakes.. now how about that..
[13:51] : Elia Scribe raises hand
[[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: evolution , Hope
[13:51] You: Ok...hold on
[13:51] Elia Scribe: Sorry. How do I lower it?
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:51] You: Arabella hit a nerve and elai has a question
[13:52] arabella Ella smiles
[13:52] Elia Scribe: Sorry, my cat stepped on my keyboard.
[13:52] hope63 Shepherd: smile.. and we are exempt of that because we consider us something dinely tranformed ..
[13:52] arabella Ella: did not mean to hit any nerves herman
[13:52] itsme Frederix: Vla but if that is like you say, and it is a typology/habit/power of the species it is selfdescribing in a way (circular, dull)
[13:52] hope63 Shepherd: divine.. not dinar lol
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: what we consider makes no difference to nature
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: nature
[13:53] You: The remark of Arabella...the position of ethics in this all
[13:53] hope63 Shepherd: we have to consider what differenxc e we make to nature:)
[13:53] You: Ok
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: what about the ethics?
[13:54] itsme Frederix: Vla, please understand I think it is facinating business .. life (and quantum also, music even more) but its not super/strange, language is making it confusing
[13:54] hope63 Shepherd: let's not forget.. herman is still the boss around here..:)
[13:54] You: Ethics is a difficult chapter for me, for close to materialism lies I have to face the problem of the free will
[13:54] You: That is a subject that needs more of my attention still
[13:55] Vladimir Apparatchik: fair point Hope
[13:55] Rodney Handrick: Hi Dumpling
[13:55] You: Besides I am considering the question whether you need free will to have responsability
[13:55] Elia Scribe: Do you think ethics changes with scale, Herman, like astro physics compared to atomic physics?
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: I see ethics as the empathetic expression of free will
[13:55] DaisyDee Dumpling: Hello...sorry to interrupt
[13:56] You: I still dont know....this is to some extend new territory for me as this class has brought me a lot of new ideas on this subject
[13:56] Paula Dix: ethics as in relation between people or as way to live a good life?
[13:56] itsme Frederix: Herman good question .. it seems some modern theories (which seem to work well so be aware) do deny free will. Although Dennet is trying to save some of it.
[13:57] You: Yes Itsme....that is my intuition free will a conditio sine qua non for responsability
[[13:57] itsme Frederix: So I stay with Kants question: what to know/do/hope
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: what meaning are ethics without others
[13:58] arabella Ella: yes?
[13:59] hope63 Shepherd: ar hear..
[13:59] You: Last but not least I'd love to recommend you "The Future of Philosophy, John R. Searle --- (Article for the millenium proceedings of the Royal Society). A very clear and readable article. He tells the same story as I have done here.
[13:59] Ze Novikov: thanks
[13:59] You: It really is my story of our class....or how I interpreted things in my lectures...really amazing
[14:00] Elia Scribe: Where can we get it Herman?
[14:00] arabella Ella: is it available on the net too herman?
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: I will be including this as the epilogue to our class book
[14:00] arabella Ella: for free?
[14:00] You: I have sent a PDF to Aristotle and i think he will include the article in the last publication of the 100 PDF, am I right Aristotle?
[14:00] itsme Frederix: not that amazing if you think you are human, talk about philosophy, live in this time .......
[14:00] arabella Ella: fantastic thanks
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, it is an exciting read
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: oh thanks ari
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: i just found it on the web
[14:01] arabella Ella: i like searle' s ideas even on the human mind 'The Rediscovery of the Mind'
[14:01] Vladimir Apparatchik: Thanks herman - great
[14:01] You: I also found Torrent file for a philosophy library of almost 3 Gb
[14:01] Paula Dix: wow! where?
[14:01] Qwark Allen: that is a lot
[14:01] CONNIE Eichel: wow
[14:01] You: A download of 920 Mb
[14:01] Qwark Allen: :-)
[14:01] itsme Frederix: small torrent a lot of thoughts
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: lololol
[14:01] hope63 Shepherd: lol ara.. they haven't even discovered the mind yet.. and speqak about rediscovery?
[14:02] Ze Novikov: :))
[14:02] Qwark Allen: heehhe
[14:02] You: Everything is there...
[14:02] arabella Ella: true Hope but his view is plausible
[14:02] Vladimir Apparatchik: got to go herman - thank you for everything. It's been a wonderful journey.
[14:02] arabella Ella: makes a lot of sense
[14:02] arabella Ella: bye Vlad
[14:02] hope63 Shepherd: smile.. why not discuss it with me one day..:)
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Vlad
[14:02] You: Ok..what next....
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[14:02] arabella Ella: me Hope? of course ;)
[14:03] Paula Dix: bye Vlad
[14:03] Elia Scribe: Bye Herman. Bye all. Got to feed the cats. See you!
[14:03] arabella Ella: the females next herman?
[14:03] AristotleVon Doobie: by Elia
[14:03] Paula Dix: Bye Elia
[14:03] You: Next class will be coming Sunday!!!!
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: fly samuel
[14:03] itsme Frederix: come on Sam junp
[14:03] Samuel Okelly: :)
[14:03] You: The first lecture of a series on 25+ female philosophers
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: ah nice
[14:03] CONNIE Eichel: woo hoo
[14:03] Qwark Allen: :-)
[14:03] AristotleVon Doobie: woot
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: 25+??
[14:04] Qwark Allen: sounds better then 20
[14:04] arabella Ella: excellent herman
[14:04] itsme Frederix: Gemma thats the age
[14:04] You: Depends how many I can find, but 25 at least
[14:04] Paula Dix: lol
[14:04] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[14:04] Gemma Cleanslate: no
[14:04] Qwark Allen: ehheeh
[14:04] Gemma Cleanslate: you wish
Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-10-29 10:14:26

No comments:

Post a Comment