Wednesday, November 30, 2016

regarding your final papers

dear phi 2010 classes: final papers are to be handed the day of your respective final exam. 

however, you are not to do that unless you have my approval. I have told only a few students that they can go ahead and submit their final drafts, which means most of you need to see me during these two weeks we have left to finish this thing. 

if you don't you actually risk losing 20 pts. of your final grade.

so, please, see me. my room number is 3604-28 and my office hours are here.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

FINAL EXAM: Tuesday Dec 13


MWF 10am   Wednesday Dec 14

MWF 11am   Friday Dec 16

TR 9:50am    Tuesday Dec 13

T 5:40pm      Tuesday Dec 13

Regarding the Analects your turn #8

pick any topic from our reading. go ahead.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Taoism: five into 5

Dmytro Didora, via Juxtapoz

chinese civilization would have been utterly different if the Tao Te Ching had never been written. even confucianism would not have been the same, for like buddhism, it did not escaped taoist influence. 

one cannot hope to understand chinese philosophy, religion, government, art, medicine –or even cooking- without a real appreciation of the profound philosophy taught in this little book. 

1- Tao (the Way) is the ONE.  

Natural, eternal, spontaneous, nameless and indescribable

ying yang represents the binary structure of the universe

this reflect the YING YANG principle. 

Yang is the cosmic energy of Heaven, male, aggression, firmness and brightness. Ying is the cosmic energy of earth, a female element that is receptive, yielding and dark. Harmony in nature is achieved through these two cosmic energies. They are both equally important. 

2- Being/Non-being, is a duck/ rabbit relationship. Ziran/Wuji meaning the dialectic aspect of the universe. Ziran is the irreducibility of Tao, which cannot be referred back to anything else. Wuji (limitless, infinite) is the ultimate nothingness. 
Know whiteness, maintain blackness, and be a model for all under heaven. By being a model for all under heaven, Eternal integrity will not err. If eternal integrity does not err. You will return to infinity. 

3- Tao moves in cycles Wu Xing. But the life cycle is an unchanging truth. While everything in nature and all sentient beings follow their respective cycles, so do worldly events. The main lesson here is that there is no rule by which one can foresee the future.

4- if one has Tao, then one becomes Te (virtue). The ideal life for the individual and the ideal order for society and government are based on and guided by it. 

Te = harmony with the natural environment.  
One who understand the the dominating character of the male yet keeps to the passive nature of the female, behaves properly. Te "produces but does not possess, cares but does not control; it leads but does not subjugate." 
5- Tao has a 5-point method: 

1- Simplicity"the ultimate good is like water"

& silence:

"Those who are quiet value the words." 
"Behave simply. Hold on to purity." 

2- Spontaneity"blaze the trail not often followed" 

"Even at the verge of erring, err honestly."  

3- Tranquility: "moon illumines the crystal blue water"

"The quiet horizon amidst the noise. Levelheadedness in crisis."  

4- Flexibility: "be a blade of grass" 

"Dare let the weather lead."  

5- Non-action (wu-wei): "when nothing is done, nothing is left undone"

Because of its importance, I intend to explain wu-wei in more detail in my next post.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Analects (excerpts)

Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles. "Have no friends not equal to yourself. "When you have faults, do not fear to fix them."

Tsze-kung asked what constituted the chun-tzu (superior man). The Master said, "He acts before he speaks, and speaks according to his actions."

The Master said, "The superior man is universal and not partisan. The mean man is partisan and not universal."
The Master said, "Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is dangerous."

The Master said, "Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it; -- this is knowledge."

The Master said, "If a man is without the virtues proper to humanity, why would he need rites of propriety? If a man is without the virtues proper to humanity, how would he manage with anything in particular?"

The Master said: "Things that are done, it is needless to speak about; things that have had their course, it is needless to remonstrate about; things that are past, it is needless to blame."

The Master said, "Those who are without virtue cannot abide long either in hardship or enjoyment. On the other hand, the virtuous rest in virtue."

Continue reading here

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

your turn #7 (the dhammapada)

by oneself evil is done; by oneself one suffers; by oneself evil is left undone; by oneself one is purified. purity and impurity belong to oneself, no one can purify another.

didn't want to leave the dhammapada without a proper comment session. please, participate.

just to refresh some themes:

1- the insistence of the causal connection of evil & life. in the twin verses of 1:1."we become what we think."  then, 1:5: "hatred can never put an end to hatred". this is a novel way of looking at ethics. wrong actions carry moral (causal) consequences = you reap what you sow is not a metaphor, it's cause & effect! of course, 9:119: "the evil doers may be happy as long as he does not reap what he has sown, but when he does sorrow overcomes him." yeah, there's no way out of paticca samuppada.

2- the control of the mind: "hard is to train the mind, which goes where it likes..." 3: 35
the importance of self-governance of the mind. ..."those who can direct thoughts are freed from the bond of mara" (3:37).

and this one: "make your mind a fortress to conquer maya with the weapon of wisdom".

i doubt something this deep has been said with this simplicity.

the beautiful chapter 4, "on flowers". this stands out: "do not give your attention to what others do or fail to do, give it to what you do or fail to do" 4:50.

3- a central lesson in the dhammapada is that good is objective,  it can be perceived: "the fragrance of the good spread everywhere..." 4:54.  good is an essence.

4-  the importance of self-governance. the self is a refuge, not a place to waste. so, we must keep our house in order. these three are key:

"do not give your attention to what others do or fail to do; give it to what you do or fail to do." 4:50
"if you find no one to support you on the spiritual path, walk alone". 5:61
"a solid rock cannot be moved by the wind, the wise are not shaken by praise or blame." 6:81

(that doesn't mean we don't try to build our own sangha):

"make friends with those who are good and true, not with those that are bad and false." 6:78

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Confucius molded Chinese civilization in general and judging by the Analects, one can see that he exerted great influence on Chinese philosophical development. There is a humanistic tendency in Confucius’ thought. He did not care to talk about spiritual beings or even about life after death. Instead, he believed that we can make the Way (Tao) great.

Confucius concentrated on man. His primary concern is a good society based on good government and harmonious human relations. Confucius believed in the perfectibility of all men and in this connection he radically modified a traditional concept, that of the “superior man” or chün-tzu. How can one be chün-tzu?

One can broadly sum up Confucius system in a handful of principles:

1- T’ien (or heaven) is purposive, the master of all things. Confucius idea of T’ien is that of immanence: “Heaven sees through the eyes of the people, Heavens listens through the ears of the people.” Not necessarily anthropomorphic but anthropogenic. Heaven is embodied in the people and exemplified by the people. Heaven is a principle and that relates to human as that of part/whole relationship.

2- The Mandate of Heaven or T’ien Ming consists of a Supreme Being who institutes a moral principle to operate by itself. That’s the principle of Heaven, T’ien Tao, later on called T’ien-li.

3- Jen (also pronounced as “ren” means indistinctly, altruism, humanity and fairness). “Jen” appears more than 100 times in the Analects. Jen also requires compassion: “Do not impose to others what you don’t want.” This negative form of the golden rule is essential in Confucianism for it tells people what not to do. “If you want to establish yourself, establish others. If you want to promote yourself, promote others.” To be able to apply the golden rule one has to follow a method

4- “Shu” which means to be empathetic, i.e., to be able to understand the circumstances. Shu is the right method to achieve jen. There are certain important virtues that can help in the process. They are:

respectfulness (gong), 
reverence (jing), 
leniency (quan), 
beneficence (hui), 
being quick in action (ming), 
reliability in words (xing) and 
cultivating slowness to speak (yan ren). 

Gong can be best explained as self-respect, self-worth. The Confucian self needs to be cultivated holistically (the mind is as important as the body).

Next there is jing, or reverence, but a better term is estimation. It’s a public virtue. How can one esteem something or someone? When one avoid the short-sightedness of the moment and ponders the far reaching implication of our actions. One becomes socially productive when one leaves pettiness and jealousies behind.

Quan is a principle of charity. It means magnanimity, being able to being thorough with oneself and the others, but suspending judgment until one has all the possible evidence. Quan doesn’t rule out criticism, only that it analyses it more and applies it to oneself. Quan presupposes self-awareness.

Xing relates to the idea of moral coherence between intentions and words, which amounts to honesty: One is reliable if one is trustworthy.

Yan ren is very close to our idea of prudence.

5- Shu needs “Xue” or learning. Not an achievement verb, but rather a stronger sense of affecting oneself whether by improving one’s sensitivity, understanding or ability. With xue one appropriates what’s learned, a process of becoming transforming. Xue is accompanied by,

6- “Si,” that is, reflecting. “Learning without thinking, one will be perplexed, thinking without learning, one will be in peril.” (A, 2:15).

7- An important theme in Confucian ethics is The Doctrine of the Mean or “Zhong-Yong.” It means centrality, non-deviation: not to be “one-sided.” It doesn’t mean staying in the middle no matter what: “Excess is as bad as deficiency.” (A, 20:1). Enduring, undeviating behavior that includes genuineness on one hand and steadfastness and persistence on the other. Implies non-deviation from this way.

8- There is also Rectification of names (Pinyin). This essentially means that for every action, there is a word that describes that action. The belief is that by following the Rectification of Names you would be following the correct/right path. By calling things what they are, we avoid confusion. RON also presupposes the idea of honesty in our speech acts

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

why is 7+5=12 synthetic apriori (as per Thalia's question)

Why does 7+5=12 is considered "synthetic a priori" by Kant?

According to Kant, analytic statements really tell us nothing new about the world: they simply assert a structural relationship between subject and predicate, i.e., a predicate that is already "contained" in the subject as part of its meaning. They are "analytic" in the sense that the predicate can be found by analyzing the meaning of the subject. All bodies are extended is analytic because part of the definition of a body is that it occupies space (which is what "extended" means here). This statement clarifies what we already understand a body to be, but does not tell us anything more about them.

Synthetic statements, on the other hand, assert more of a thing than is already contained in the definition of that thing. They "synthesize" one concept with another, and tell us that they are found together in some specific thing. They are "ampliative" in that they convey substantive information about a thing, information that is not contained in the very concept of that thing.

"All bodies are heavy" is synthetic because "having weight" is not part of the definition of "occupying space." In addition,

... the negations of synthetic statements are not contradictions, while the negations of analytic statements are.

Take a look at this:

12=12 obvious
7+5= 12 (one had to add them)
24 - (2x6) = 12 (less obvious)

Actually I can have an infinite number of combinations on the right hand side of the equation that equals 12.

Same with "straight line" and "two points" and "shortest line" and "two points", neither of which can be analytically "extracted" from the other.