Friday, September 18, 2015

588: A cynical view on the individual...

The discovery of the individual, that is, man realising that he is only subordinated to the laws of nature, must have begun in the Renaissance.
The Renaissance is a period in Europe, from the 14th to the 17th century. Its intellectual basis was humanism,
derived from the rediscovery of classical Greek philosophy, such as that of Protagoras (c. 490 – c. 420 BC), who said, that "Man is the measure of all things”, 
By this, Protagoras meant that each individual is the measure of how things are perceived by that individual,
interpreted by Plato (c. 425 - 348 BC.) to mean that there is no absolute truth, but that which individuals deem to be the truth. That concept of individual relativity was revolutionary for the time 
and contrasted with other philosophical doctrines that claimed the universe was based on something objective, outside of human influence or perceptions.
You can imagine, that combined with the dramatic discovery of our real place in the universe and the new empirical science, as it developed in the 17th century,
this must have influenced profoundly the way man defined himself in relation to the world around him, a world, that could be described by mathematics.
Maybe the first philosopher, who seriously wondered, what kind of individual homo sapiens was, was Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) in his Leviathan (1651).
Chapter 13 is “Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning Their Felicity and Misery?” and in misery we live, according to Hobbes.
“Nature has made men so equal in their physical and mental capacities that, although sometimes we may find one man who is obviously stronger in body or quicker of mind than another (…)
As for .the faculties of the mind: I find that men are even more equal in these than they are in bodily strength. (…)
This equality of ability produces equality of hope for the attaining of our goals. So if any two men want a single thing which they can’t both enjoy, they become enemies; 
and each of them on the way to his goal (which is principally his own survival, though sometimes merely his delight) tries to destroy or subdue the other.
…it [is] obvious that for as long as men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in the condition known as ‘war’; and it is a war of every man against every man.”
What a feast to be an individual and last but not least, if we may believe Hobbes there is “…no society; and - worst of all - continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
But fortunately there is a way out. According to Hobbes, society is a population beneath a sovereign authority, to whom all individuals in that society cede some rights for the sake of protection. 
Any power exercised by this authority can not be resisted because the protector's sovereign power derives from individuals' surrendering their own sovereign power for protection. 
The individuals are thereby the authors of all decisions made by the sovereign. Thus, in a way, the individual is subordinated only to himself.
Most important here is, that it is the individual himself who determines his world, based on his personal powers and abilities.
Thank you….if you have any questions or remarks…feel free…the floor is yours :-)

The Discussion

[13:19] CB Axel is thinking....
[13:20] herman Bergson: Well..I guess Hobbes was the frist one to realize what we are
[13:20] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): is tempted to respond but doesn't want to stir the topic in another doesn't for now
[13:20] CB Axel: I guess I agree with Hobbes, but it depends on how the sovereign is given his or her power.
[13:21] herman Bergson: are you teasing us philosophically, Chantal?? :-))
[13:21] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): let me ponder about it
[13:21] herman Bergson: Indeed CB..that was my thought too...
[13:21] Areyn Laurasia: now I'm curious :)
[13:22] CB Axel: I don't believe in "divine right," for instance.
[13:22] herman Bergson: Yes  indeed CB..that is what I was wondering too
[13:22] herman Bergson: bu tin his still was the church..god,,and so on
[13:23] CB Axel: My god, supposing I have one, might want someone in charge who believes in individual rights, whereas another person's god my want someone who thinks women should have fewer rights than men.
[13:24] CB Axel: Or the poor. Or those of a different race...
[13:24] CB Axel: whatever.
[13:24] janette Klaar Nowles (janette.shim) is offline.
[13:24] CB Axel: Or who believes that it's man's right and destiny to plunder the planet for it's resources without regard for others or for the future.
[13:25] CB Axel: In other words, the US government. °͜°
[13:25] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): and many others
[13:25] herman Bergson: the subject here is that in our culture..sometime we just saw ourselves as individuals...
[13:25] herman Bergson: just s single lonely being standing on a planet
[13:26] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Then I do agree
[13:26] CB Axel: So was this the time when the nation became important? So the individual wasn't quite so alone?
[13:26] herman Bergson: and then you cry..HELLO...and then there appears rot be a fellowman
[13:28] Areyn Laurasia: One can still be lonely in a crowd. How is that related to individuality?
[13:28] herman Bergson: I guess..the first thing was that the homo siens discovered that h ewas just an individual
[13:28] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): but the world was still an unknown and dangerous place for the individual
[13:28] herman Bergson: Important observation Aryen !!!!
[13:29] CB Axel: Wasn't that obvious from back in the time when a caveman stepped outside and was confronted by a sabre toothed tiger and realized that he had no one to help him fight it?
[13:29] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): absolutely CB
[13:29] herman Bergson: You have to make a clear difference between psycholgy and philosophy
[13:29] Chantal (nymf.hathaway):
[13:30] herman Bergson: Felling lonely in a crowd is a psychological issu..not a philosophical one
[13:30] CB Axel: So to be philosophically alone is to realize that you have your own ideas and beliefs?
[13:31] herman Bergson: yes CB..something like that
[13:31] CB Axel: And that you have the right to hold and express those ideas?
[13:32] herman Bergson: To  know you are philosophically alone means  that you intellectually stand in a desert...and wonder where to go
[13:32] Areyn Laurasia: like Spinoza? :)
[13:32] CB Axel: I feel that way all the time.
[13:32] herman Bergson: me too CB :-))
[13:33] herman Bergson: many roads to go :
[13:33] herman Bergson: I have to ask Spinoza Aryen...
[13:33] herman Bergson: I don’t know
[13:33] CB Axel: Good luck finding him. °͜°
[13:33] herman Bergson: But in a way...
[13:34] herman Bergson: Spinoza wasn’t in a desert...
[13:34] herman Bergson: he was in the All....
[13:35] herman Bergson: but to get back to our main guest of today..
[13:36] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): I really feel we have too little female philosophers... in history as well as present.
[13:36] herman Bergson: Hobbes had a really cynical view on the individual
[13:37] herman Bergson: Bu this view was mainly a social one....
[13:37] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Hobbes spoke mainly about "Men"... his view on individuality is solely based on men
[13:37] CB Axel: Yes. Hobbes seemed to think that the individual was a egoist, thinking only of his own survival and happiness.
[13:37] herman Bergson: far away from what existentialism meant...
[13:38] herman Bergson: Yes CB....and some people today like this to call neo-liberalism :-))
[13:39] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:40] herman Bergson: lecture might bring you a friendlier idea of individualism...:-)
[13:40] herman Bergson: If you have no further questions....
[13:40] herman Bergson: ???
[13:40] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Looks forward
[13:40] herman Bergson: Class dismissed :-)
[13:40] Areyn Laurasia: Thank you
[13:41] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Thank you Herman
[13:41] herman Bergson: Thank you all..
[13:41] CB Axel: I'll be looking forward to a friendlier view. I'm afraid that I take the cynical view.
[13:41] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): and others
[13:41] CB Axel: This was really good this week. I enjoyed it.
[13:41] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[13:41] herman Bergson: You always can cry on my shoulder CB :-))
[13:42] CB Axel: Awww. Thanks. °͜°
[13:42] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): :)))
[13:42] herman Bergson smiles
[13:42] CONNIE Eichel: hehe
[13:42] CB Axel: I'll see you all, and I hope many others, on Tuesday.
[13:42] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty professor herman & Class :o)
[13:42] Areyn Laurasia: hope so too
[13:42] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Waves
[13:42] CONNIE Eichel: great class!
[13:42] herman Bergson: Take care, you all :-)
[13:43] CONNIE Eichel: u too, lovely seeing you :)
[13:43] herman Bergson: xxx CONNIE
[13:43] CONNIE Eichel: i will try to be here more often :)
[13:43] CONNIE Eichel: kiss herman
[13:43] CONNIE Eichel sends a volley of smooches to herman Bergson!
[13:43] herman Bergson: mmm
[13:44] Areyn Laurasia: goodnight, everybody.. rl's calling.
[13:44] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Sleep well later on Bergie and Herman see you both soon :)
[13:44] bergfrau Apfelbaum: good night :-) see you tuesday!
[13:44] herman Bergson: Bye Aryen :-)


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