Thursday, December 19, 2013

499: Philosophy and religion

First of all I want to thank everybody for the warm support and good wishes I have received because of what has happened to me. It really helped me to feel better. Thank you all, who showed such kind compassion.

[13:08] herman Bergson: I guess I'd better begin
[13:09] herman Bergson: This is actually the lecture of October 24 :-))

[ hB suffered a heart attack in RL on that day, but after six weeks is fully recovered now]

[13:09] Gemma Allen: :-)
[13:09] .: Beertje :.: smiles
[13:09] herman Bergson: First of all I want to thank everybody for the warm support and good wishes I have received because of what has happened to me. It really helped me to feel better. Thank you all, who showed such kind compassion.
[13:09] Nectanebus: :)
[13:09] Bejiita Imako: 
[13:09] Bejiita Imako: your welcome

In my quest to understand what the relation is between philosophical thinking and religion, especially while this plays such an important role in Eastern thinking,

I want to elaborate some more on the ideas I developed in my previous lecture. What fascinated me in the previous lecture was and still is, that in the development of the human mind we time and again see the same pattern. 

A wise man (not a woman) appears on stage. He appears to be rather influential with his teachings in his time. Then after his death a lot  of his teaching including all kinds of ideas added by others are committed to "paper":  

this happened to Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, Socrates, Mohammed. And only a 350 years ago scientific thinking was added to our repertoire to understand life.

Now my primary assumption is, that the homo sapiens is a result of evolution.

My second assumption is that in general all humans biologically have the same brain. That is, a limbic system and a prefrontal cortex and some other parts. Thence , theoretically, we all are mentally wired in the same way.

My third assumption is, that survival, survival of the individual and then survival of the group, is the primary drive in nature. In this process, the organisms best adapted to their environment, survive.

If you assume that philosophy begins with wonder, then somewhere in the history of mankind the homo sapiens formulated the wondering question: "Who am I and what am I?"

Let me return to "The Problems of Philosophy", by Bertrand Russell (1912): 
If you ask a mathematician, a mineralogist, a historian, or any other man of learning, what definite body of truths has been ascertained by his science, his answer will last as long as you are willing to listen. 

But if you put the same question to a philosopher, he will, if he is candid, have to confess that his study has not achieved positive results such as have been achieved by other sciences. 

It is true that this is partly accounted for by the fact that, as soon as definite knowledge concerning any subject becomes possible, this subject ceases to be called philosophy, and becomes a separate science. 

The whole study of the heavens, which now belongs to astronomy, was once included in philosophy; Newton's great work was called 'the mathematical principles of natural philosophy'. 

Similarly, the study of the human mind, which was a part of philosophy, has now been separated from philosophy and has become the science of psychology. 

Thus, to a great extent, the uncertainty of philosophy is more apparent than real: those questions which are already capable of definite answers are placed in the sciences, 

while those only to which, at present, no definite answer can be given, remain to form the residue which is called philosophy.
-end quote-

Now look at the passage "…as soon as definite knowledge concerning any subject becomes possible…"
It means, that our primary question in life :"Who am I and what am I?" is gradually answered by science.

And here, from an evolutionary point of view, I disagree with Russell. For thousands of years our mind generated "definite" knowledge and yes the subject ceased to be philosophy and became RELIGION and only a 350 years ago the subject became science,

The evolutionary meaning of religion has been crucial for survival of the group. It answered all uncertainties. It offered a perspective and a destiny of existence.

It strengthened the cohesion of the group. Created the binding feeling of a "WE" against the "OTHERS". It answered the questions about good and evil. It answered our primary question: "Who am I and what am I?" This is especially evident in, for instance, Confucianism.

This doesn't mean that the basic assumptions of all those religions were definite knowledge. They were just treated as if it was definite knowledge and it fulfilled its purpose in the evolving society.

Many religious answers now go the way philosophical answers did. As soon as it became clear that it was a virus that caused the disease, it no longer was the will of gods or evil spirits, but a medical issue that could be treated.

In Russell's days science was the future, the true knowledge. Today, science is an effective way of interpreting reality, but not the complete answer to our primary question: "Who am I and what am I?"

So, there is still plenty of time for another 500 lectures on philosophy after next Thursday.

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you :-)
[13:21] Nectanebus: heh
[13:21] Chantal:
[13:21] Nectanebus: Nice, that was certainly worth the wait
[13:21] Daruma Boa: thank u herman
[13:21] Daruma Boa: so no class after thursday?^^
[13:22] Bejiita Imako:
[13:22] Gemma Allen: on i doubt that
[13:22] herman Bergson: How do you mean Daruma?
[13:22] Gemma Allen: forget that idea
[13:22] Daruma Boa: u wrote another 500 lectures on philosophy after next Thursday.
[13:22] herman Bergson: I was planning another 500 ;-)
[13:22] Gemma Allen: probably
[13:22] Gemma AllenGemma Allen GIGGLES!!
[13:22] Gemma Allen: ...LOL...
[13:22] Gemma Allen: see
[13:22] Daruma Boa: ahh okeee
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:22] Gemma Allen: but it is a milestone
[13:22] Gemma Allen: i was at the first class
[13:23] Chantal: Herman 2.0 has enough to share
[13:23] Gemma Allen: imagine
[13:23] .: Beertje :.: do you think those next 500 are enough Herman?
[13:23] herman Bergson: Next Thursday is Lecture 500 :-))
[13:23] Nectanebus: I found it interesting you mentioned the "trial and error" methods employed as social programming, and its parallel with scientific method. I always thought Russell overlooked things like alchemy and theology in his statement.
[13:23] herman Bergson: Dont think so Beertje....we always have to keep on thinking critically
[13:23] Nectanebus: Wow, seems I missed a few haha
[13:23] Laila Schuman: one important question is WHY am I... i think a lot of people really need a PURPOSE in life... they long for purpose... not just who and what
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:24] Daruma Boa: right nectan
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: i guess so
[13:24] .: Beertje :.: i think ..just TO enough
[13:24] herman Bergson: Ahh yes ..the WHY question.....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: same here
[13:24] Nectanebus: That's a very Chan viewpoint, Bejita ;)
[13:24] herman Bergson: There is a problem with that question....
[13:24] Velvet: I think we decide the WHY, individually
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: I am just me
[13:24] Bejiita Imako:
[13:25] Daruma Boa: well just to be i guess is not enough
[13:25] herman Bergson: The thing is....we have the word WHY.....
[13:25] Daruma Boa: it sounds like u have no will^^
[13:25] herman Bergson: but the question every sentence which begins with WHY meaningful?
[13:25] Daruma Boa: to think about being here is an important question
[13:25] Laila Schuman: or the reverse is that one has no passion
[13:25] Daruma Boa: and only humas are able to
[13:25] Daruma Boa: humans
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: Im a nice guy who do many good things and like to hage fun and be with friends
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: thats good enough for me
[13:26] Daruma Boa: ok^^
[13:26] Laila Schuman: ants and trees are here...
[13:26] Daruma Boa: 4 me often not^^
[13:26] Laila Schuman: we have minds
[13:26] Gemma Allen: fortunately
[13:26] Nectanebus: I think post-(post-post-post-)modernism proved that if life has no meaning, we shall ascribe it one that suits us.
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes...and that mind makes us believe a lot of things
[13:26] Gemma Allen: ah
[13:27] Laila Schuman: like communism ascribes meanings... or church?
[13:27] Merlin: Well before we digress too much I had a comment early on but did not want to interrupt.....
[13:27] herman Bergson: Different from other organisms we are indeed capable of giving meaning to things
[13:27] Chantal: Thinks the pursuit of being the best YOU possible could be a real could why
[13:27] Merlin: Another example of people who did not themselves write but was written later.....
[13:27] herman Bergson: No no...Merlin.....
[13:27] Nectanebus: more like hedonism and monasticism being sufficient reasons for life to their adherents, to use a more base example
[13:27] Merlin: Socrates
[13:27] Chantal: could=good
[13:28] herman Bergson: let's return on our steps and Merlin, plz repeat your comment
[13:28] Merlin: Ok
[13:28] Merlin: Socrates is another example to add
[13:28] Merlin: people who did not write themselves
[13:29] herman Bergson: Ahhh indeed...Plato did all the work :-)
[13:29] Bejiita Imako:
[13:29] herman Bergson: A good example, which makes the list less religious :-))
[13:29] Merlin: Oh good I am glad I got them round the right way. I sometimes get it wrong
[13:29] ἀρετή: hi quaezar
[13:29] ⓆⓊⒶⒺⓏⒶⓇ: A very good day everyone :)
[13:29] Velvet: And we can just hope that Plato got it right!
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: hi Quaezar
[13:30] Lizzy Pleides: hi quaezar
[13:30] herman Bergson: hello Quaezar :-)
[13:30] Daruma Boa: hi quaezar
[13:30] herman Bergson: we have to expand the existential question to WHo , what an why I am.....
[13:30] ⓆⓊⒶⒺⓏⒶⓇ: A very good evening Herman :)
[13:31] Merlin: It is interesting to consider that Jesus might have been illiterate
[13:31] Gemma Allen: that is where we started
[13:31] Nectanebus: who what when where how?
[13:31] Nectanebus: heheh
[13:31] herman Bergson: I hope you al see that the WH and What are of a different nature than the WHY
[13:31] Bejiita Imako:
[13:31] ἀρετή: why are all the important questions beginning with the letter 'w'?
[13:31] Velvet: You're right, Merlin, we only have others' accounts of what he said
[13:32] Merlin: ty Velvet
[13:32] herman Bergson: another one Merlin :-))
[13:32] Nectanebus: I think Socrates is a literary troll of ancient Greece, a...what's the word for when people create something that is representative of them as a whole anthromorphously? Sorry, weird fragmentation there...
[13:32] Nectanebus: also typos haha
[13:33] herman Bergson: Doesn't matter Nectabebus...I wouldn't know the answer anyway :-))
[13:33] Nectanebus: nvm, you get the idea
[13:33] Nectanebus: like King Arthur or whatever
[13:33] herman Bergson: a myth
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: aaa ok
[13:33] Merlin: hehe
[13:34] Nectanebus: that's an easy way to say it I guess haha, I do tend to overthink some times
[13:34] Velvet: myths are meant to communicate ideas rather than history
[13:34] Velvet: so, they are philosophical
[13:34] Gemma Allen: there have always been more questions than answers here
[13:34] Chantal: and with every questions arise
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: indedd
[13:34] herman Bergson: Has to Gemma, otherwise there wouldn't be a next lecture :-))
[13:35] Daruma Boa: i guess its good to have more questions than answers^^
[13:35] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:35] Daruma Boa: it keeps life going
[13:35] Merlin: Yes indeed Chantal
[13:35] .: Beertje :.: that's why we need a lot more lectures than 500 Gemma
[13:35] Gemma Allen: that is why there are 500 morecmoing
[13:35] Merlin: A good example is the power of telescopes
[13:35] Nectanebus: Life would be boring without navel gazing
[13:35] herman Bergson: But on the other hand it is an observation that makes sense
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: hehe indeed
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: if all questions were answered would be more booring for sure
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: alwase need something to chase after
[13:35] herman Bergson: Only questions drive us to new answers and solutions....
[13:36] Bejiita Imako:
[13:36] Velvet: I vote for more solutions!
[13:36] herman Bergson: So...has anyone  still a question about the subject of today?
[13:37] herman Bergson appreciates the silence
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: dont know hehe
[13:37] Velvet: this topic can head off in many directions!
[13:37] herman Bergson: Time to think it all over again perhaps :-)
[13:37] Nectanebus: I'm a bit tired today unfortunately, I'm not up to my usual standard :(
[13:37] Daruma Boa: lol
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: maybe that
[13:37] Bejiita Imako:
[13:37] Nectanebus: can't elucidate or conjugate at all today heh
[13:38] herman Bergson: Then  I thank you all for your participation again.....
[13:38] ἀρετή: Earlier.. it was mentioned that "A wise man (not a woman) appears on stage." Were there really no women philosophers in history?
[13:38] Velvet: Herman, are we heading into religious territory?
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: hmm also been tored all day, dont know why probably got awakened at wrong moment
[13:38] Gemma Allen: I would like to thank Herman for all the research and work that he has put into all these classes... and giving us vacations and allowing us to miss class .. and never allowing us to graduate ... and no tests... I was really scared the first year he kept promising a test soon!!
[13:38] herman Bergson: It was a real pleasure to have you all here again....
[13:38] .: Beertje :.: thank you Herman and have a goodnight
[13:38] Velvet: should I bring my seatbelt?
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: then doesn't matter how long i ve slept
[13:38] Lizzy Pleides: thank you herman!
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: will be a wreck
[13:38] Corronach: thanks Herman

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