Another TNQ (Troythulu’s Noontide Query): “What is the Highest Virtue of All?”
Excellent question, Troy. I would say it’s artificial to think of virutues separately, because in life various aspects of being human constellate into a particular way to comport oneself. This is why Plato thought there was only one virtue, but that it defied a limited definition. This one virtue was really many qualities put together. Separate virtues are really connected at a more fundamental level. In order to do justice to the idea of any one particular virtue, in other words, one must think synoptically. So, I’d have to say the seven classical or cardinal virtues are all-important: Prudence, Justice, Restraint, Fortitude, Faith, Hope, and Charity. A person’s subjective world is more enjoyable and more harmonious internally, and the person enjoys better relations to the external world of things and people, as measured by the amount of each of the seven virtues the person is able to employ in a practical sense.
Aloha! (BTW, “Aloha” is the virtue of “Charity”)
John Searle (Philosophy Pages) visits Google’s Mountain View, CA headquarters to discuss his book “Freedom and Neurobiology: Reflections on Free Will, Language, and Political Power.” This event took place on October 30, 2007 as part of the Authors@Google series. (65 min.)
You thought time is time is time, right? Einstein showed us empirically that time slows down. Depending on how fast you and your computer are moving relative to a stationary observer, this video is about 2 min. 55 sec.:
“Even though Bruce Lee is best known as a martial artist and actor, Lee majored in philosophy at the University of Washington. Lee himself was well-read and had an extensive library. His own books on martial arts and fighting philosophy are known for their philosophical assertions both inside and outside of martial arts circles. His eclectic philosophy often mirrored his fighting beliefs, though he was quick to claim that his martial arts were solely a metaphor for such teachings. His influences include Taoism, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Buddhism” (from Maniacworld.com). Enter the Dragon Video Clips:
- The famous fight to the death with “Ohara” (3:04)
- Battle Underground (4:08)
- Final battle with “Han” (6:48)
On p. xxxi, Jude says:
“W’s philosophical interests from the beginning were driven by a concern to explain the existence and conceivability of the order that seems to be resident in the course of affairs we know as our universe. In this sense, religion amplifies some of the same themes as science, and thus must conspire with the insights of science…”
It’s important here to point out two things:
1) W. is always trying to explain our given experience of the world, and he uses that experience as a constant touchstone. He’s not drawing circles in the air, or speculating in a vacuum. We have religious experience, and religious intuition, and W. is looking for an explanation. In this sense he’s a radical empiricist in the vein of William James. E.g., we feel, and some people feel strongly, that it’s good to do the right thing (or at least not an evil thing). We feel there is an order in the universe, and we want to get at the gist of that order. And that order is not only out there, in the Big Bang and in the Cosmic Background Radiation. It’s in the very molecules of our bodies, and in the atoms and subatomic entities that make up those molecules. W. wants to look at that order and determine why it’s there.
Let’s back up and bit and look at Dr. Jones’ Introduction:
“RM is very much a book about the challenges that face dogmatic statement in both religion and metaphysics; it is also a book which itself challenges the construction of either religion or metaphysics around highly suspect networks of assumptions which act as truths but fail to accurately represent the world as experienced.” (p. xi)
W. is against purely dogmatic ideas—truth claims based on little evidence—in religion and metaphysics (and science). He wants to base claims on our experience of the world. To hazard an example, I don’t experience an omnipotent being controlling my every action, against my will. As a God worthy of worship should be all-good, this would mean I’d always be feeling forced to do good things…and I’d always be doing them. I’d never be coerced to walk into a liquor store with a shotgun and kill the clerk, and take the $130 in the register. But this happens every day. So, since our experience isn’t of an omnipotent God controlling things in that sense, then maybe God isn’t omnipotent in that sense.
Beginning on page xviii, Jude points out that RM is an excellent introductory process philosophy text. In order to explain a bit about W’s treatment of religion in RM, she has to explain a bit about W’s philosophy (metaphysics) first. This is because for W. metaphysics is the explanation about how everything, including religion, happens. Reality is a dynamic process and religion and everything else issues forth from that process.
Most metaphysics asks about the “nature” or “essence” of things in the world—as if each thing has or possesses a unique nature. Traditionally, the philosophical job was to crack that thing open and see the unique, diffeent, fundamental reality or essence inside. This analysis implies a substance ontology—it started with the ancient Greeks. W. rather posits that things are much more alike than they are different—all things share certain “characteristics” or “common features” at a fundamental level. If you crack something open and look at the core level, you see the same thing as when you crack something else open. Rather than analyzing different substances, he intuits that so-called “different things” are really inter-connected entities, all part of the same, large, holographic process that is in continual development. (W. never said “holographic” as he was writing in the 1920’s. )
“Being” implies a static situation at the fundamental level based on substance. And different “things” have different “beings.” On the other hand, “becoming” implies a dynamic situation based on a common flow of energy or data at the fundamental level. In other words, everything is connected in a sense. It’s easy to crack a thing open and try to see the fundamental reality inside, but it’s different if a “thing” is fundamentally a dynamic process interconnected with everything else:
Each moment, each thing (e.g. each person) pulls (or “prehends”) elements from the past and incorporates those things into its present self. The entity then makes a decision about which way to go, and goes in a new direction. As a result of this new direction, new and different possibilities are open to it in the future, and it considers those new possibilities, and then looks again to it’s past, and picks out, prehends again, the things it will need to arm itself for it’s new future, and takes another step into that new future. Thus the phrase “character of a process” describes this dynamism better than the phrase “nature of a thing.”
Next post, we’ll say a few more things about this metaphysics, then try to tie it to religion.
The full text is available online at: Mountain Man
Whitehead’s short book on religion is intriguing in that he presents a synoptic view of religion within the larger context of his over-arching metaphysical system. It’s not just a book about religion, but it’s a book about the very structure of the universe. It’s about the INHERENT VALUE of the universe. All Whitehead’s books are complex and difficult (because he challenges the very way we’re used to thinking about the universe), but relatively speaking Religion in the Making is fairly accessible.
From the back cover: “This classic text in American philosophy by one of its foremost figures offers a concise analysis of the various factors in human nature which go toward forming a religion.”
From Whitehead’s Preface: “The aim of the lectures was to give a concise analysis of the various factors in human nature which go to form a religion, to exhibit the inevitable transformation of religion with the transformation of knowledge, and more especially to direct attention to the foundation of religion on our apprehension of those permanent elements by reason of which there is a stable order in the world, permanent elements apart from which there could be no changing world.”
In the Preface, Whitehead (hereafter, “W.”) intimates that his metaphysical system (an explanation of the universe as a matrix of interconnected drops of experience rather than “things” in the traditional sense) is the basis for both science and religion. He refers to “permanent elements” that give a stable order to the world. RM isn’t a book about a particular religion or even various religions and their interconnections, but about how religion arises out of the permanent or fundamental structure of the universe.
Thus, this text isn’t written to convert people to religion, for is it an argument for the existence of God. It’s not even about the desirability to believe in religion as opposed to being an atheist or an agnostic. W.’s view of God doesn’t posit God as controlling the universe, wielding omnipotent power, casting down thunderbolts, and sending millions at a time to damnation with a wave of his judging hand. This book, as Jude says in the introduction, is about metaphysics–the consideration of the fundamental elements of the universe, and about religious or spiritual intuition.