Saturday, January 09, 2010

Western Philosophy - v0.000001

I am reading Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy". All I understood was Western philosophy is a pointless mysticism (I think that's what people used to say about Eastern philosophy too). A true philosophy is the one that defines and explores with empirical methods and models mathematically. Science does the latter two parts but sometimes overlooks the exact definitions.


Maju said...

I haven't read Russell but probably yes to a large extent. However check the pre-Socratics and also Materialism (aka Marxism) for a counterpoint. Western philosophical thought has been too much constrained by the Socrates-Plato-Aristotle school which is highly conservative and esotheric.

Kepler, one of the founders of modern science, "wasted" much of his life trying to explain the solar system following the Platonic model. He failed once and again, of course, and his greatness is because at some moment he realized he had to break with such dogmatic preconceptions and build on the hard data, even if "irregular and ugly".

Now we know, thanks to that revolutionary approach, that planets do not describe circles but ellipses and that their working has nothing to do with the Platonian theory of solids, fascinated by "perfection" and regularity.

Similarly Marx had to break up with Hegel's idealism to build up dialectic materialism.

But otherwise I agree that moralistic buffoons like Kant and the like are essentially irrelevant. I mention Kant because it really stroke me how, in spite of having logically found at first that God was probably false, he revised all his own work to make God fit in his model and only for that reason. He is a clear example of betrayal to rationalism.

A good read is also Spinoza, who much less emblematic than Descartes' "I think, hence I exist", approached reality from the opposite viewpoint: how must God be. Obviously he could not make any distinction between God and the Universe inaugurating Pantheism in modern terms and being later adopted by many Marxists as a precursor.

Yet another western philosopher I found notable but is widely ignored is Holderlin and his Holistic (whole-istic) theory. However, I have never read much of him, just a few articles on his thought.

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered, when asking others where to began reading in order to understand Karl Marx, they would reply to start with KANT. I've read few passages from his critique and especially his universal model of categorical Imperative. Personally I've never liked reading Kant and I wanted to see if I should skip to Hegel?

Maju said...

Absolutely. Kant is a hypocrite (I have no idea who recommended you Kant). You can also skip Hegel as long as you understand the concept of Dialectics.

Much more important may be Spinoza and Machiavelli in fact.

Anonymous said...

Hey How are you doing mate? I was reading some posts on kerala issue on a blog where you have posted comments and I think I asked you where one should began to comprehend marx. Well I started reading the manifesto and few introductions and I have come across few questions that I would like to ask you.

1) How can the productive forces form the mode of production and yet come into conflict with the mode of production? Exception would be human ideas but Marx mentions the objectivity of the economic laws which are independent of humans.

2) How can one hold, as marx does, on the one hand that men are conscious, purposive, and indeed inventive, and on the other hand, that their social life, like the processes of blind, physical nature, develops independently of their thought and will? How does one reconcile with this sort of paradox?

3) If change is gradual in systems, like it was in the past when feudal society transmutes into capital society, than why the coercion of political evolution? why cant we let it be? why there must be a vast change if there is a historical dialectics in process?