Enlightenment in 10 weeks

Throughout the course, I have been more aligned to the Enlightenment side of the rationality it upholds. I am someone who believes in hard facts and numbers because of the truth it holds. The rationality and mechanical view of humans through the scientific method or even learning about Hobbes social contract was more applicable to me personally. Despite this, I have also enjoyed learning about the Romanticism ideals of focusing on the individual and sentiment over reason. It focused more on the organic feature of humans like emotions rather than the mechanical aspect where we are just cogs in a machine.

I believe that this has a large impact on contemporary western society because of the vast amount of information we have. It is very easy to fabricate and control how arguments are directed with manipulated data or biased persuasion. The Enlightenment teaches us to progress based on reason and the scientific method which makes it consistent when making an argument of any sort. For example, Locke was more focused on people’s natural rights and how it relates to their freedom under a government. It was very clear of what was required in his Second Treatise with his use of rationality and reason.

The most important takeaway from this class for me was the balance between Enlightenment and Romantic ideals. Both are polar opposites in terms of what they focus on but the authors we read had conflicting views that forced us to consider both sides and the middle road. For example, Goethe’s focus on following our emotions in contrast with Kant’s focus on duty and rational thinking made me concerned with the middle road and the tension between those two contrasting ideals. It is a unique style of thinking that would help in arguments that I thought was the most important takeaway from HUM 4.

I thought this image was a good representation of what Enlightenment thinkers were striving for when focusing on rationality and reason. It made us less organic and more mechanical.

2 Different Worlds on the Same Planet

In general, most people believe that we should explore more outside of this planet to places like Mars, Jupiter, etc. However, the ocean often goes under looked when we realize that we haven’t fully explored all of it and it covers the majority of our own planet. When we take a look at this picture, we can see the two contrasting worlds just separated by the surface of the water. On the top, we have the industrialized, modern world while below the surface, we have the natural, wild and free ecosystem of marine life. Schiller argues that this beauty is it’s own authority in the sense that mankind’s ideals can not affect or corrupt it’s ideal. When we begin to admire what the art displays, it demonstrates its sensual experience of observing the contrast between both worlds. Then we begin combine that beauty with our intellectual sense as mankind and make judgement where we can question and challenge art and man’s ideals. This composes the aesthetic experience when we have a free play between our sensual and intellectual experiences.

Our aesthetic experience of learning about the distinction between the industrialized and natural world integrated with our intellect can “ameliorate” the fractured state between the contrasting ideals that each experience teaches us. We can begin to be morally better when we understand both worlds and respect the differences to preserve the beauties that both worlds exclusively have from the aesthetic experience we undergo when viewing this art piece.

Is Buying Police the New Trend?

Last year, John Hopkins University decided on a new Act called the “Hopkins Bill” which won a vote of 94-42. It allowed them to essentially “buy” the police in a private sector to defend the school. The university is known to be located in what people would call “a dangerous neighborhood” and they wanted the area to feel safe. However, people were concerned on how it might be “over-policing” the area and is tasked to only protect the students. However, there exists other residential areas with people nearby and according to the Act, only the students are priority. This raises the question regarding Article 12 in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in which “to guarantee the rights of man and the citizen requires a public force; this force is therefore instituted for the benefit of all, and not for the personal advantage of those whom it is entrusted.” While Hopkins is trying to benefit people by having more police, it is apparent that they are violating the 12th Article since it is not guaranteeing the rights and benefits of ALL people and citizen. This skepticism can be expanded to the general use of buying police forces for an institution or person in which it puts only a certain party as a priority and is not a benefit for all but rather for a personal advantage.

Our Duty for Beavers

In the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant states that there is an unconditional good where people are intrinsically good without any intentions of power, intelligence, fortune, etc. He claims that the specific obligations of a good will are called duties, in which he makes three propositions about them. The second proposition is interesting because he states that “an action from duty has its moral worth not in the purpose to be attained by it but in the maxim in accordance with which it is decided upon”. This means that one should fulfill his or her duties because of the principle of volition where people fulfill a duty without any regard for objects or desires. However, if one expects a particular result or is driven by some external motivation other than the duty, it violates this good will. Therefore, people should only act upon a duty without regard for the benefits or consequences the action may bring upon them to be considered an unconditionally good driven duty.

In a Facebook video I found, there’s a man who finds a beaver with a stick about five times its size preparing to walk across the street. The man recognizes that this beaver is probably trying to build a dam in the middle of the night and decides to leave his car and help the beaver carry the stick across the street. This man is acting out of a sense of duty in which he understands that he should help innocent animals despite the fact that he will not gain anything directly from the beaver. On the other hand, he could fulfill his duty driven from an external motivation in which he knows he will go viral on Facebook for this act of kindness. Considering both sides, I would argue that he is fulfilling his duty out of an intrinsically good will by the second proposition Kant states in which he is doing it for its moral worth and not because of any material principle. 

Shakespeare for the win!

Hi class, my name is William Luu and I am a second year Cog Sci ML major. I don’t mind if people call me Will, William, or even Bill. I was born in here in sunny San Diego and have been living here all my life. I enjoy playing video games, gyming, and racing people on typing racer.

My favorite book in the HUM series was Shakespeare’s The Tempest because of its nature of a play. The relationship between the stranded island characters was enjoyable to read with Prospero’s relationship to Caliban and Ariel along with his plotted revenge on the ship. It highlights some of the history of slavery with the subtle inferiority complex between Prospero and Caliban and the effects of European settlement to new places such as Prospero’s arrival to the island. Overall, it was nice to read a play that had a lot of drama.

I like listening to electronic music so here’s a song from one of my playlists.