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PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS electronic journal

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P H I L O S O P H Y   P A T H W A Y S                   ISSN 2043-0728
http://www.philosophypathways.com/newsletter/

Issue number 91
13th September 2004

CONTENTS

I. 'Teaching Philosophy' by Herdy L. Yumul

II. 'Dr Johnson and the Stone' by David Seaman

III. 'Essentials of Philosophy and Ethics: Call for Contributions' by
    Martin Cohen

-=-

EDITOR'S NOTE

The Pathways CD

All the Pathways web pages - over 3800 files in all - have been put on a single
CD. The CD includes:

    Pathways Portal -- http://www.philosophypathways.com
    philosophos.org -- http://philosophos.org
    International Society for Philosophers -- http://www.isfp.co.uk
    Glass House Philosopher -- http://sophist.co.uk/glasshouse/
    Wood Paths -- http://klempner.freeshell.org
    The Possible World Machine -- http://sophist.co.uk/world/
    The 10 Big Questions -- http://www.123infinity.com
    Philosophy of A-Z -- http://sophist.co.uk/aletheia/

Each copy of the Pathways CD is, in effect, a perfect snapshot of Pathways  on
the internet at the time when the CD was made.

For the Pathways CD, the links have been especially configured for offline
browsing. This involved hundreds of changes to the HTML code. It is now
possible to access different parts of Pathways with impressive speed, and
without the need for an internet connection.

For a limited time only, the Pathways CD is available free of charge. If you
would like your copy, please email klempner@fastmail.net, and remember to
give your full postal address.

Pathways Top 10 and Philosophy of A-Z

     Pathways Top 10 -- http://www.philosophypathways.com/topten.html
     Philosophy of A-Z -- http://sophist.co.uk/aletheia/

Pathways mentor Brian Tee has taken over the running of the Pathways Top 10 and
Philosophy of A-Z pages.

Brian has got off to a great start, posting around 30 new links.

Any philosophy web site can be considered for the Pathways Top 10. As new sites
are posted, old sites are pushed further down the list. There is no respect for
status. Quality - being good of its kind -  is the sole criterion. We like
sites which get a dozen visitors a week just as much as sites which get
hundreds every day.

Philosophy of A-Z lists individual pages rather than web sites. The site is
'dedicated to the proposition that everything under the sun is a subject for
philosophy'. Brian's new entries include Dick (Philip K.), Simulacra
(Baudrillard), In-betweens, Holes, Indians, Kubrick (Stanley), Prohormones and
Beer.

In this issue

Herdy Yumul, one of a growing band of enthusiastic supporters of the ISFP at
Trinity College, Quezon City, gives a gripping account of his experiences
teaching Philosophy to nursing students in the Philippines, and his feelings of
frustration over the numbers of qualified nurses who leave the Philippines
attracted by the mighty Dollar.

David Seaman has just completed his Pathways Metaphysics program. In his final
essay for the program, he gives a thoughtful appraisal of the famous incident
when Dr Johnson allegedly 'disproved' Berkeley's idealism by kicking a stone.

Martin Cohen, editor of The Philosopher, is editing a new encyclopaedia,
Essentials of Philosophy and Ethics, for Hodder. 'Unlike other such works,' he
writes, 'this aims to widen the net for philosophical entries, seeking both to
reassess the status of topics conventionally included, and offer consideration
to those habitually excluded.'

Geoffrey Klempner

-=-

I. 'TEACHING PHILOSOPHY' BY HERDY L. YUMUL

     Dear Dr. Klempner,
    
     I am one of the ISFP members in Trinity College, Quezon
     City, where I teach philosophy and sociology.
    
     Allow me to share with you a self-reflexive essay that I
     wrote, inspired by ISFP's mission to make philosophy
     meaningful to the everyman - in my case, the nursing
     student who is so transfixed at abandoning our country for
     greener pasture.
    
     Here is my own attempt. Hope it is worth your while.
    
     Thank you.
    
     Herdy L. Yumul
    
---

Teaching Philosophy
Herdy L. Yumul

ALL right, my students are bright, as we boast of having one of the finest
nursing programs in the country. Their training is rigid, and the selection
process very tight. But, at the turn of the semester, I feared that my students
would take my subject lightly. I took pains in urging them not to treat
Philosophy as a "minor subject," for there must be some reason why it is a
curriculum requirement.

After a month, my students submitted their phenomenological reflections. My
heart broke when I discovered that many of them wanted to pursue something
else, but were forced by their parents, who finance their studies, to take
nursing instead. It is sad that our ailing economy kills the dreams of the
young. Older people are infected with bitter pragmatism, and few of them are as
supportive as the father in the PLDT commercial.

Our class had an engaging discussion on Martin Heidegger, who posits that when
man confuses being with having, the origin of moods is located in external
possessions: money, gadgets, or whatnot become the source of happiness;
deprivations lead to feelings of sadness and frustration. In this case, the
human-being has identified himself with its objects of care, and forgotten his
own existence.

"At the moment, what essence do you find in your existence?," I asked them. It
is not very difficult to figure out: e$$ence. It does not take a sociologist to
understand why. Our government is a joke, our economy a disaster, and by the
time my students go abroad, in 2007 at the earliest, Fernando Poe, Jr. would
have spent three years in MalacaOang, and the peso would have dipped at over
eighty to a dollar. No wonder that many professionals are now taking
nursing-doctors, dentists, physical therapists, and, yes, lawyers. Some of them
are my students, older than I am, and resigned to this nation's dim tomorrow.

Our school's thrust reads: Preparing for life through God-centered education
and service. Here we anchored our discussion of Gustavo Gutierrez's Liberation
Theology. Gutierrez proposes that what motivates Christians to participate in
the liberation of the oppressed "is the conviction of the radical
incompatibility of evangelical demands with an unjust and alienating society.
They feel keenly that they cannot claim to be Christians without a commitment
to liberation." The emphasis here is on praxis--action, for no self-respecting
Christian can be a spectator to social unrest.

Many students seem to forget their fundamental mission. The line: "I want to be
a nurse because I want to care for the sick and needy" we only hear of now in
the question and answer portion of the Search for Little Ms. Philippines.
Caring for the sick has been reduced to an incident to the quest for the good
life. We do not need more nurses. We need more caring nurses.

My students showed an encouraging response. They pledged to offer their
services in marginalized communities where medical practitioners are needed
most. This they promised to do for at least a year when they earn their
license. The pledge, of course, is not binding, and I cannot ask the foreign
embassies to bar their visa applications if they don't comply. Such act,
nonetheless, shows us a glimmer of hope.

I know that it is difficult to speak with finality. Ate Hedy, my sister, held
the same convictions when she was a young nurse teaching at a university in
Laoag City. Aware that many families have been destroyed because of overseas
employment, she opted to stay, live a life of moderation, and build a happy
family. Now, Ate Hedy is in New Zealand, away from her husband and her four
year-old daughter, Kaka, whose future she is fighting for.

I look at nurses who have left, not with judgmental eyes, but with compassion.
There's Ate Mona and Weng in California, Auntie Elsie and Uncle Gerry in
Hawaii, Ate Joy and Jemy in New Zealand, and other relatives I hold so dear in
more parts of the world. The Philippines is always in their minds, and they
sent me nice presents last Christmas.

Many people say that I can afford to be idealistic only because I don't have
children yet. The moment you raise your own family, they warned, you will
abandon your youthful arrogance; philosophy cannot build you a home, it cannot
send your children to decent schools.

Am I losing the crusade? I don't know, but when Kit, one of my students, fell
in love with Friedrich Nietzsche, the feeling was ecstatic. Discussing the
enigmatic German philosopher with his friends, even during night-outs, Kit's
collection of Nietzsche's books puts to shame my own. Also, when I organized
the Trinity Debate Society, most of those who joined were nursing and medical
technology students. I learn a lot from these folks, and I grow with them. My
friend Alona, a colleague in the faculty, reminds me to be thankful for having
a job that allows us to earn a living while learning with amazing people.

There are a few bad times, though, such when I caught one of my students
reviewing for his anatomy class while I was delivering a lecture on Marx. This
prompted me to ask: "What good does it do to you when you find the parietal
bone, and lose your own self?" And the message got across.

I sure have my own moments of weakness, too. Such when one of my students
asked, "Sir, kuntento ka na ba sa ganyan? (Are you contented with your
situation now?) "What do you mean?," I replied. "Yung ganyan, walang sariling
bahay, padorm-dorm, walang kotse, (You live in a dormitory, not having your own
house, your own car), he clarified.

I am not asking my students to be exactly like Socrates, who loved to go to the
marketplace to see the things he is happy without. Neither am I leading them to
the footsteps of Diogenes, a cynic, who lived in a barrel, and owned nothing
but a cloak, a bread bag, and a stick, reasoning that in having very few
possessions, his happiness won't be easily stolen from him. But, I urge my
students to be steadfast in their search for meaning so that at the end of the
day, they can look back with neither resentment nor regret. The way to meaning,
of course, is not without a price. But it is the only way a truly existent man
should take.

Now, I should stop evading the question. "Sir, kuntento ka na ba sa ganyan?"

The answer I cannot tell with enough certainty. But one thing I am sure of: I
just love to teach philosophy, and I thank my students for the life I live now.
I thank them for letting me wake up each morning, with a sweet smile on my face.

It is a business both daunting and rewarding to preach the gospels of Socrates,
Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Gutierrez, in a world facing the most difficult of
times.

(c) Herdy L. Yumul 2004

E-mail: herdiology@yahoo.com

Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences
Trinity College
Quezon City
Philippines

---

"To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering,
desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities - I wish that they should not
remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust,
the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish
them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not -
that one endures."

(Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, p. 481)

-=-

II. 'DR JOHNSON AND THE STONE' BY DAVID SEAMAN

James Boswell in his Life of Johnson described this conversation between
himself and Samuel Johnson that happened towards the end of 1763:

     "After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some
     time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to
     prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in
     the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we
     are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to
     refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which
     Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force
     against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, 'I refute
     it thus.'"

It is possible that Johnson was attempting to disprove immaterialism by the
physicality of the stone and its action on his foot. But Berkeley would have
had no problem countering this argument - to the immaterialist the stone and
foot and the action between them were all mental perceptions and certainly no
practical demonstration could show otherwise.

Instead maybe the clue to Johnson's meaning is in the nature of the refutation.
Although a man of words he choose not to answer with more "ingenious sophistry"
but instead demonstrated by action that man is a participant in reality and not
primarily an observer. Such a philosophical stance has nowadays been labelled
pragmatism, and was developed by the American's Charles Peirce (1839-1914) and
William James (1842-1910) with Richard Rorty (b 1931) being a more recent
supporter. Pragmatists believe that reality is discovered by active
participation in the world. This means that the immaterialist vs materialist
dialectic is bypassed by the claim that both subject and object are constituted
from experience, and there is a bottom up approach to discovering reality
compared with the top down "pure reason" approach of analytic metaphysics.

An important assumption is that we have direct access to reality and not just
to a representation of reality (in particular Rorty is much concerned with the
rejection of representationalism). There is a laudable aim here, the discovery
of practical knowledge is an essential part of human understanding of reality
and is the source of all scientific knowledge. However the lack of anything on
which to base a system of values means that pragmatism is left with a sort of
post-modern account of truth. Truth only matters as far as there are practical
consequences of that truth (this is paraphrased from Peirce's "Principle of
Pragmatism") or "Truth is just the property that all true statements share"
(Rorty discussing pragmatism in the introduction to Consequences of
Pragmatism). For a pragmatist there is nothing interesting to talk about in the
concept of absolute truth and they claim that all metaphysical attempts to do so
have failed. However the orderly nature of the world means that the discovery
process can be undertaken with integrity, so it is still possible to talk about
scientific or historic truths in a mundane but useful sense.

Berkeley would have supported the empirical aim of gathering knowledge but
would have considered truth to be in the hands of God and certainly not have
considered pragmatism to be a genuine attack on the intellectual basis of his
metaphysic of immaterialism. If Johnson had wanted to succeed in his refutation
of immaterialism he might have followed Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and combined a
pragmatic approach to epistemology with a materialist metaphysics. A monist
materialist believes that reality consists only of an actual volume of space
that persists through time and contains at various places some actual substance
labelled matter that obeys physical laws (the materialist will of course also
have some a priori truths).

In the 17th and 18th centuries there was a practical difficulty in being a
monist materialist since there appeared to be no place for God (Hobbes was
attacked as an atheist although he clearly wasn't - in fact God was one of his
a priori truths). There was also the substantial difficulty of accounting for
how a world made out of only matter could contain the mind.

Moving forward to the beginning of the 20th century we come to Samuel Alexander
(1859-1938) who in Space, Time and Deity gave a modern account of how the mind
could emerge from the physical (Alexander even managed to introduce an emergent
God in his metaphysics, but this is very different to the Judeo-Christian God).
Emergence is the idea that higher laws and properties can be generated from the
complexities of a lower layer, and that these laws and properties are
irreducible to the properties of the lower layer. This is a commonplace in
science, for example Boyle's Law, that describes the relationship between
pressure and volume of a gas, emerges from the actions of the individual gas
molecules but is not reducible to the properties of those molecules. Alexander
argued that the properties of matter emerge from a physical substratum and
eventually the mind emerges from the properties of matter. The irreducibility
of emergence is central to this argument, although the mind is entirely made of
physical matter it has completely new properties that are not related to the
properties of the physical layer.

The claim that the mind can emerge from the physical is of course
controversial. It seems unlikely that one could prove prove that it is
logically possible for this to occur (science might come to the rescue, if
something is shown to be scientifically possible it is sure to be logically
possible). On the other hand several philosophers have tried to show it is
logically impossible for some aspect of mind to exist in a materialist world:
examples are Kripke and Jackson (see below - there is a useful summary in
Chalmers). In a typical argument Frank Jackson attempts to show, through the
example of a scientist who has always lived in a black and white world, that
qualia (such as what it is like to see red) do not supervene on the physical.
But it seems possible that these complex arguments underestimate the power of
emergence. The irreducible laws and properties that appear in an emergent mind
can be considered to generate something like a mind-body dualism whilst still
maintaining the advantage of the causal connection between the mind and the
physical layer.

So I will assume for now that it is possible to accept that the mind can emerge
from matter (especially since this is surely no harder than accepting Berkeley's
busy God, or Kant's noumena, or the teleology of Hegel's objective idealism). It
is then necessary to ask whether materialism has an answer to immaterialism.

The central argument for immaterialism is that everything that is perceived is
a perception and that there is no way of pinning these perceptions onto
anything that can be defined as knowable matter. All descriptions of the
properties of an object become descriptions of perceptions and the matter
itself becomes redundant. In reply, the emergent materialist says from her
point of view the matter is surely necessary since without it there would be no
mind. And her description of perception is certainly coherent: the properties of
an object emerge from the physical matter making up that object and are causally
transmitted to the emergent mind by the physical laws (it could be suggested
that the properties of the object emerge not in the object but in the brain or
mind, but this does not alter the basic argument since the causal relationship
with the object still exists). Finally when dealing with truth there are no
extra problems with materialism. The space and matter exist and it is always
possible to make judgements that are either true or false about the matter and
its properties. And since mind emerges from matter it is also possible to make
similar judgements about mind (even if many of these truths are unknowable in
practice).

The conclusion here is that it is probably possible to construct a materialist
metaphysics to rival immaterialism, but of course this in no way refutes
immaterialism. In any case I suspect Dr Johnson would not have wanted to follow
this road to its finish, but he would probably have not have been happier with
all the consequences of pragmatism. Analytic metaphysics leads to several
mutually incompatible outcomes with no apparent way of deciding between them.
The alternative is to reject the premise that the ultimate nature of reality is
open to the powers of logic and reason. Fortunately, this pragmatism does not
lead to anarchy but to an ordered world that we can with integrity discover for
ourselves. But if the pragmatic approach discovers an ordered world why cannot
analytic metaphysics find the cause for this order? That is the tension between
empiricism and reason.

References and bibliography:

Alexander, S. (1920) Space, Time and Deity (Macmillan)
Berkeley, G. (1710) Principles of Human Knowledge (Penguin Classics)
Boswell, J. (1791) The Life of Samuel Johnson (Penguin Classics)
Chalmers, D. J. (1996) The Conscious Mind (OUP)
Hobbes, T. (1651) Leviathan (Penguin Classics)
Jackson, F. (1982) Epiphenomenal Qualia (Philosophical Quarterly, 32:127-36)
James, W. (1904) What is Pragmatism (from Writings 1902-1920, Library of
America)
Kripke, S.A. (1980) Naming and Necessity (Harvard University Press)
Rorty, R. (1992) Consequences of Pragmatism (University of Minnesota Press)

(c) David Seaman 2004

E-mail: drseaman@sandlings.com

-=-

III. 'ESSENTIALS OF PHILOSOPHY AND ETHICS: CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS' BY MARTIN
COHEN

Philosophers both inside and outside academia are invited to contribute to a
new encyclopaedia of philosophy and ethics, to be published by Hodder
Education* in the autumn of 2005.

Unlike other such works, this aims to widen the net for philosophical entries,
seeking both to reassess the status of topics conventionally included, and
offer consideration to those habitually excluded. We are interested in
identifying key philosophical issues and topics that may have been neglected
due to prejudice, difficulty, or plain institutional inertia.

The proposed volume is aimed at a wide 'bookshop' market, as well as students
and academic generalists. It will cover not only the central philosophical
domain but include material relevant to politics, sociology, psychology and
economics. Ethics, and ethical considerations, will be a thread running through
the whole work.

In the interests of accessibility and usability, the number of topics is being
kept to just over 500, of which about 120 will be 'key entries', that is short
essays of between 400-1500 words; together making up just over half of the
entire work. There will be two classes of 'minor entries', 200-400 words and
100-250 words respectively, and a fourth category of essentially 'dictionary'
definitions, but these will be written by the editors although feel free to
make suggestions!

A list of topics can be found at:


http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/cite/staff/philosopher/encyclyfolder/
Encyclopedia-entries+.htm

(Entries highlighted in green have already been 'taken'.)

There are some example entries here:


http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/cite/staff/philosopher/encyclyfolder/
Sample-entries2.htm

Submissions are invited for the major 'key' entries. Of these, about one
quarter will be written by the editorial board of the encyclopaedia, another
quarter will be written by philosophers and others specifically invited by the
editorial board, and the remainder is being made open to the wider
philosophical community in there interests of, as indicated, broadening and
redefining the nature of the subject.

All contributors will be listed as such in the encyclopaedia, and will receive
a copy of the work. Please understand that there is no guarantee that
unsolicited material will be included and that the final selection will be
based on need and quality.

*The educational division as a whole is called Hodder Education, although the
actual imprint under which the books will appear is Hodder Arnold.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

1. Submissions must be made by email, with a name, full postal address and
contact telephone numbers. Please put 'submission for Hodder Encyclopaedia' in
the message header.

2. All submissions become property of the publisher. Do not submit material
that is copyright protected or has been published elsewhere already. Nor should
you submit material if you are concerned to protect your 'rights' to it. (See
point 3 below). This does not affect your rights to use the work elsewhere. All
contributors must formally assign copyright to the publisher by signing and
returning a declaration that we will provide.

3. Unsolicited submissions for the entries are accepted on the basis that the
ideas and material included may be adapted, modified, plagiarised,
'cherry-picked', without reference to the author. Naturally the editor will
endeavour to ensure fair recognition of contributors' work but there is likely
to be much duplication between submissions and we cannot enter into any
correspondence over claims of 'ownership'. So please only send material to us
on this sharing basis.

4. Persons considering submission of a 'key entry' may however send a synopsis
if they prefer (on the above basis) with a request to be invited to write the
entry. In the case of invited contributions the author will be consulted over
editing and related matters, and will be credited. However, such contributions
still cannot be accepted if the author intends to claim any form of copyright
over the material.

5. The editor will decide at what point someone becomes a 'contributor'. In
general, anyone who is the sole author of a 'key entry' will automatically be
considered such.

NOTE ON STYLE

In the words of the archivist of the Philosophy Society of England, whilst the
expression of obscurity is pardonable, the reverse is not. The Society
publishes The Philosopher, the oldest general Philosophy Journal in the world.
It provides a forum for short, original, brilliant and accessible articles
(and, it is true, space for a few rather less good ones!).

Authors are encouraged to study the sample entries here for style and literary
conventions. The editor insists on a high standard of readability and
transparency, more in line with Classical discussions than with the rationales
of monographs or journals catering for the academic market.

(c) Martin Cohen 2004

E-mail address for contributions: thephilosophicalsociety@yahoo.co.uk

[From The Philosopher Online website:


http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/cite/staff/philosopher/encyclyfolder/
callforentries.htm]

---------------------------------------------------------------
  Philosophy Pathways is the electronic newsletter for the
  Pathways to Philosophy distance learning program

  To subscribe or cancel your subscription please email your
  request to philosophypathways@fastmail.net

  The views expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily
  reflect those of the editor. Contributions, suggestions or
  comments should be addressed to klempner@fastmail.net
---------------------------------------------------------------


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