Philosophy and Literature @ E&S


Today’s discussion about whether Hume was influenced by Buddhism started out really slow, but we had about 10 people show up randomly throughout. It was decided as a majority that since Hume was introduced to Buddhism while writing his “Treatise”, the Buddhist philosophy would have solidified his ideas rather than change them.

Next week, I’m trying something a bit new. The discussion topic will be based on an article, that you can find in my Google docs (since I seem to have lost the original link, although had downloaded the PDF). It is viewable only if you go to it through a link that is provided below. Please, read the article before you come to the discussion, as I will not have detailed intro notes. Of course, if you don’t manage to read it, do feel free to come to the discussion anyway and comment, although you may have many questions.

The article is called, “The Myth of the Beginning of Time” by Gabriele Veneziano, and you can find it at this link: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bz9Ur_V5-S2OSTJnSmN1MTdRTWVTTUxjYTdPWkNEdw

Let me know what you think of the idea of using Google docs to share PDFs. I haven’t tried it before, so if you have any troubles feel free to let me know! Also, feel free to share the link with your friends, just make sure you copy/paste from the link above, and not the browser address.

Hope to see you all there!

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Intro Notes for Tues Feb 21 Philosophy and Literature


Topic: Avicenna on life-forms and the universe

Quotes taken from “Philosophy” by Stephen Law.

Avicenna (Ibn Sina) is a scientist and astronomer from Persia in 980-1037. He’s best known for his “Cannon of Medicine”.

He supported the cosmological argument for God’s existence known as the “Kalam argument”.

This argument “begins from the observation, gained from al-Farabi, that all things in the universe are possible beings, meaning that they might not have existed and have no inherent reason for existing.”

“The “essence” of such beings is said to be distinct from their “existence,” so the fact that they exist is not determined by what they are.”

“Therefore they must depend on something else for their existence, and must be caused to exist by something else.”

“However, this cannot be true of everything that exists, otherwise there would be an infinite regress and no ultimate ground for the existence of anything.”

“It follows that there must be a being whose existence is necessary, which is its own cause and sustains everything else in existence.”

Avicenna thought that being was Allah.

Avicenna follows the same idea as the Neo-platonists, in that all being emanates from God as its sustaining cause.”

“This implies that events and actions are predetermined, thus problematizing ideas of moral responsibility and divine justice.”

This isn’t intended to be a conversation about God, Gods, or any being as such. If possible, I’d like to replace the idea of God as whatever you want it to be.

A force, an energy, or even God if you’d prefer. View it how you like. However, I’d like to focus on the rest of the premises Avicenna comes to a conclusion about.

What do you think? I open the floor.