by Christopher Paul on May 23, 2006

I’m getting into philosophy again. Although thinking about life, the universe, who we are, where did we come from, and where are we going – you know, the usual – since I was 16, I really got into philosophy when I tested into my honors English class in college (I’ll tell you about that some other time). What the class did was amazing and something I am so glad I had the opportunity to experience.

The class was a very simple humanities class – arranged by topic and then chronological order. First we read Genesis and talked about the beginning of mankind’s consciousness or when man became self aware. The class eventually talked about governments, money, and power and it was really nice to read these new and exciting books – the books that were and made history – not those that were written about history.

That same semester, I took an ethics class. In retrospect, I don’t think it was a great title for the course because the professor really positioned the class to educate the students on what certain famous and influential philosopher’s ideas were on the “greatest good for the greatest number of people” and I, to this day, am not convinced that the greatest good for the greatest number of people is an accurate way to lay the foundation for ethics. What is ethical doesn’t have to be the greeted good and something that is the greatest good for the greatest number of people isn’t necessarily ethical. Although one could argue that ethics and, therefore, the greatest good is relative – and it is – I believe that they can contradict. But more on that in some other essay.

What the class did though, is expose me to even MORE philosophers and what they believed. I first heard of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Rene Descates, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Søren Kierkegaard to name a few. The exposure to each of them was very brief and the course, like many intro classes, put things in chronological order to help give the student an idea of how, uh, ideas changed over time and how other philosophers influenced those that followed them. After finishing that class, I knew I was hooked on philosophy.

I started reading more summaries throughout my scholastic career and even read a few full essays of the writers I admired very much. I started to come up with my own theories of life, the mind, good, evil, ethics, and government. The whole purpose of this site is to expose those to the masses and its about time I started. But I’m stuck in a little creative rut, however, and I’m trying to break out of it. This phase I’m going through, though, just might do the trick.

Right now, I’m really excited about empiricism. Empiricism is a general term for ideas that are derived from or built upon by scientific observations through experiment or experience. Although very scientific in the technical or classic sense of the word, empiricism isn’t that cold. The concepts can (and have) been applied to social observations and theories. In fact, most notable empiricists were political thinkers and, to some, atheists or “non-believers” who rejected the ideas of the church. In Britain, empiricism helped form the concepts of democracy and we all know where that led to…. Right?

Oh… Empiricism is also thought to be skeptical and sometimes referred to as practical – both of which am I. I’d also like to take it a step further and say that it describes me perfectly as it leads or is (in many ways) realism – which I definitely believe in. I have said many times to my contemporary thinkers (i.e. anyone who would listen to me babble on about this shit) that I am a realist.

Anyway, I’ve been reading up on David Hume and George Berkeley and brushing up on John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. I’m finding their ideas fascinating once again but in a new light. Before, I was focused on their theories of government. Now, I’m approaching their work as social criticisms and learning how they believed people and human nature to be versus how governments are/were/should be. I’m trying not to focus so much on the science of it and grasp the human or emotional aspect of their works so bring a new level of perception to the ideas of empiricism.

Like I said, I’m just getting back into this and it could be some time before I have something solid write about but I’m getting my ideas.

So watch out world!

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