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By. A philosopher of comparative religions has spoken over the terror of history by which he means that all the achievements and the aspirations of human beings are wiped down mercilessly relentlessly and forgotten in the ongoing changes of history so we can feel the terror of history in the loss of the Greek civilization and its youthful zest for democracy philosophy the arts mathematics science and the good life. After the defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War the Greek city states were conquered by the armies of Alexander the Great and were absorbed. Finally in the Roman Empire the Roman empire built upon its inheritance from the Greeks. But then we see the
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to the Roman Empire and conquered all of Europe and the Middle East and much of Africa. But in time it had become stagnant and paralyzed by the unmanageability of this immense far flung imperial territory and was increasingly plagued also by barbarian invasions. The city of Rome itself was invaded and plundered this magnificent city by the Visigoths in 410 A.D.. By the fifth century with the weakening of the Empire. Christianity on the other hand had already become the official religion of the Empire and the church structure was now the only powerful organization in all of Europe. By this time also Christian beliefs and values and attitudes dominated the Roman Empire. And while some of the heritage of the classical Greek and Roman civilization was retained and used by the
church many Greek and Roman writings were destroyed because the church considered them to be pagan unchristian and immoral and so for over a thousand years from the fifth to the fifth century Christianity shape the entire social and cultural world of Europe. It shaped its political and personal life social institutions economic relations knowledge of the natural world literature and the arts. All of these were under church direction and control philosophy science and art were all seen to be placed right fully in the service of religion and the free rational independent philosophical speculation of the Greeks was brought to an end by Christianity and was not to be restored until the Renaissance and the modern era in which Descartes is the first philosopher the classical world view of Plato and his great pupil Aristotle was of a natural cosmos rational order and moral and purposeful but
caused which was known solely by human reason. This was replaced by the supernaturalistic world view of the church whose source of its knowledge is divine revelation and whose fundamental beliefs such as the incarnation and the Trinity are dogmas to be accepted by faith. These dogmas are not proven nor are they provable by reason. The early Catholic worldview. The fundamental problem is that with the relation of the individual soul to a just and merciful and omnipotent father god a god so loving that he sacrificed his only son the rest of humanity might be redeemed for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. The world itself and human beings are the creation of God and fulfil his purposes. The crucial issue is personal salvation for the sinful Irving cell in a corrupt and unjust
society. The way to salvation is by purity of heart repentance of sins by love of God and love of one's neighbor as oneself. The good life for human beings is not the life of reason not science philosophy mathematics and the arts are important but rather the good alloy for human beings is the life of faith. Devotion prayer good works love and obedience to God and to his church but in the Tarot of history in which civilization such as the great Greek civilization disappear the great philosophies seem to survive through a kind of immortality. Plato and his great peuple Aristotle survived. Ironically the two greatest philosophers of Christianity the great St. Augustine and Thomas they produced their profound philosophies by fusing Christianity with precisely the pagan Greek philosophy which the church had almost entirely destroyed. St. Augustan fuse
Christianity with Plato St. Thomas with Aristotle St. Augustan is now known as the plate or Nizer of Christianity as the synthesizer of Christianity with the philosophy of Plato. But by the second half of the fourth century when Augustine was growing up in the Roman province of new media which is now part of Algeria in North Africa intellectual darkness was rapidly descending the Roman Empire was disintegrating. It's vast cultural resources suffered from the Empire as neglect and from the church's indifference or hostility to pagan culture. It is uncertain today how much if any of the writings of Plato himself or Plato's followers was available for Augustine to study so thoroughly had the books of pagan philosophers been lost or destroyed yet in some form the influence of Plato did reach Augustine Augustine's greatest work was called the City of God which
he wrote to try to explain the sack and Fall of Rome in hundred 410. In this work the voice of Plato can be heard. The Platonic distinction between the sensible and the intelligible world is expressed by Augustine in Christian terms as the distinction between the earthly city of the flux of opinion and the heavenly city of God's eternal truth. As for Aristotle the most important works of Aristotle the second greatest philosopher of the ancient world some people would say the first had been lost or destroyed by the church but it had survived the writings of Aristotle in the Middle East in the eastern Christian Church and with the rise of Mohammedanism the works of Aristotle were translated by Arabs into Arabic and then they were translated by Jews into Hebrew and into Latin and so the works of Aristotle were finally made available again to the Western world by the 12th century saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century was accordingly
able to build upon the recovery of the detailed philosophic writings of Aristotle and Thomas brought scholasticism to its highest stage of development during the middle ages. The philosophers who undertook to make a philosophical system of the Christian beliefs and to prove them were called school men and their philosophic systems were called scholastic philosophy or scholasticism scholasticism may be defined as the philosophy of the many evil Cathedral schools which attempted to fuse Christian beliefs with the Greek philosophy of Plato or Aristotle using the logical syllogism and debase the great synthesising philosophy of St. Thomas is in fact the greatest system of Catholic philosophy ever written. It is called the summa theologian. It is not one of the greatest system of Catholic philosophy ever written by one of the greatest systems of philosophy ever written. It became the standard philosophy of the Middle Ages and its influence continues into the present time. It is known as totemism totemism
is a world view claiming absolute truth. It is based upon faith in divine revelation and upon supporting reason. Thomas Aquinas and so some provided theology metaphysics theory of knowledge ethics psychology and politics. But historical changes were already at work. Sentamu is his interpretation of Aristotle which was so important an element in his formulation of Christian thought. His interpretation Masoom challenge by other scholars. Why was that. Because now Aristotle's writings were available for all to read more and more free discussion was demanded for all the important problems and the absolute sovereignty of the two great many evil institutions. The Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire were both beginning to be weakened. By the 15th century scholars and writers were turning to the classical Greek civilization for a new inspiration and with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks and 1953 the entire
world of vast learning of Greek culture which had been preserved in the Eastern Empire was made available to the Christian West. The courts of kings the Popes the universities everyone was excited by the new art and literature that they had rediscovered. Access to these classical treasures resulted in the European period called the Renaissance literally Renaissance means rebirth and it was truly a rebirth of classical learning and a rebirth of European civilization. But also what was made available was an opposition to the prevailing Christian religiosity of the Middle Ages. This opposition took the form of the revival of Greek humanism. Humanism may be defined as the affirmation of the dignity and worth of human beings. In respect of the power of human reason and the human capacity for seeking knowing and achieving what is good the invigorating secular focus of Greek humanism was rediscovered that Greek humanism which was Man and Nature
centred and which affirm the power of human reason to know the truth of nature and to determine the good for human beings in the Renaissance human achievements and talents are no longer regarded as worthless but celebrated and honored. Human beings are glorified and are turned in the direction of expressing not suffering and death but the Greek joy in living nature became interesting in itself and was not merely symbolic of the supernatural a visual Revolution began to take place among artists who increasingly turned away from painting and sculpting Christian subject and Christian symbolism to painting and sculpting things as they appear to the eye of the artist in nature artists discovered the human body again and began to study the physiology of the muscles and bones of the human body in motion. Michelangelo's Adam and Leonardo's Last Supper are examples magnificent examples of the highly developed Renaissance portraiture of the natural human body in
action. The good life is again the life of reason discovering and satisfying the needs of the whole person harmoniously and with balance. The 15th century was not only the beginning of the Renaissance revival of classical learning and of the humanistic fidelity to nature to the human body and to human reason in painting sculpture and literature but also by the 15th century there were many other developments each of which struck a blow at the weakening structure of the medieval world. The 15th century was the time of the great discoveries so-called the discovery of the New World by Columbus and his successors and the other great discovery the discovery of the all water route to India and the Far East around the Cape of Good Hope with the discoveries of these new trade routes came a great burst of energy and optimism and the development of shipping technology related scientific knowledge a money
economy banking and insurance and the emergence of a new social class the bourgeoisie which was to become the capitalist class and with all of this the decline of the older feudal aristocracy the Reformation the Protestant Reformation which was begun by Martin Luther struck another blow at the unity of the medieval Christian world. But most significantly what developed during the Renaissance and during the period of discoveries and their aftermath is a revolutionary new view of truth in opposition to the scholastic view that truth relates to a divine supernatural or transcendent reality which is forever inaccessible to human reason and known only by revelation. The shift is to the new view that human reason has the power to know the truth of reality and that reality is neither divine nor transcendent
especially did this new view hold for astronomy which was reborn in the fifteenth century by the time of the 16th century. All the best minds were tracked into astronomy as today so many minds are attracted to the frontiers of space exploration new and careful. Astronomical observations were made and discrepancies were found between these new observations and what was claimed by the prevailing astronomical theory which was the Ptolemaic theory invented by Ptolemy in the second century. The earth set the theory the theory that the earth is the center of the universe. The Ptolemaic theory prevailed from the second century to the sixteenth century for 14 centuries. Nicholas Copernicus The poet just Trauner in the 16th century using new observations and mathematics using the methods of empiricism and rationalism over through the earth's center and Ptolemaic theory and
offered a new sun centered heliocentric theory that the earth revolves on its own axis and moves around the sun. This theory accounted for the new observations and also greatly simplified the mathematical calculations of the older now antiquated Ptolemaic theory ever since Copernicus overthrew in this revolutionary way Ptolemaic theory any drastic change in thought has been called a Copernican revolution. For us it is difficult to imagine a similar challenge to our accustomed beliefs such as the challenge of the Copernican Revolution to the traditional belief that the earth is the center of the universe. Such a tremendous jolt to the imagination. Such a reversal of what is taken to be immutable truth. It was it would be comfortable for us to suddenly have the announcement of the discovery of superior conscious intelligence in outer space
science fiction star trek. Even some scientists have opened up this possibility for us. But the response of the Copernican revolution in response to the Copernican revolution by the great church of Rome was extreme. Scientists were excommunicated or banned from the church and condemned to everlasting hell if they refuse to deny these new ideas and they were subject to imprisonment torture or even death for broaching these new ideas. This was accomplished either through the office of the Pope or with the help of the reigning kings of Princes of Europe. Copernicus himself hesitated to publish his theory for fear of the church's reaction but his publication went unnoticed and it was only his followers in the next century who were caught up in 16:00 at the turn of the seventeenth century. Bruno was burned at the stake in Rome as an atheist for accepting Copernican theory in 16:20 Dandini who called himself a naturalist was burned at the stake in Toulouse in
France as an atheist and in 16:21 Fontenay was burned in Paris as an atheist but among the scientists the new astronomers. It was Galileo who came under attack because he undertook to prove the Copernican theory. In the seventeenth century Galileo developed a telescope magnifying a thousand times by which he observed the satellites of Jupiter Saturn's rings and the moon's surface unlike Copernicus Galileo vigorously and actively tried to publicize the new heliocentric or Sun centred theory and as a result he met with formidable church opposition and he was censored for his views but in sixteen hundred thirty two you wrote another great work called two systems of the world in which you in effect repeated the Copernican theory although he was allegedly only comparing the Copernican and the older Ptolemaic theory as to systems. For this he was condemned forced to deny the
doctrine of Copernicus upon his knees forced to recite the seven penitential psalms weekly for three years and was imprisoned Vohs until his death. Meanwhile the scientific spirit moved on technology new inventions new observations and new scientific theories was spreading all over Europe. The telescope the microscope and the thermometer were invented Boyle's developed his theory of gases. New laws of electricity and magnetism were developed laws of optics by day Carhenge Snell hobby developed the theory of the circulation of the blood and Descartes invented analytical geometry. But what is the nature of the new science and its method to elements in scientific method where identified one. The empirical element the use of sensory observation and experimentation and to the rational element the use of mathematics and deductive reasoning as by Copernicus and Galileo in
explaining the motion of the heavenly bodies almost immediately conflicting theories of scientific method appeared depending upon which of the two elements the empirical or the rational was claimed to be the more important. Francis Bacon in England looked at scientific method and clinged for empiricism. He claimed the scientific method was a triumph of the method of observation and experimentation. A triumph of these over reason theories hypotheses systems. But Rene Descartes the philosopher however looked at scientific method and claimed it for rationalism. The scientific method as far as they cut was concerned was a triumph of the new mathematics of geometry of axioms and deduction from axioms. These according to the cart make science into the certainty of knowledge which it possesses. The new age of the seventeenth century in which all beliefs were changing and in which the new scientific method and scientific discoveries were advancing so rapidly.
This was an age in which the many evil philosophy of scholasticism was clearly no longer adequate. A new philosophy is required for this new age and Rene Descartes is the first philosopher of the modern age and Rene Descartes offers the first metaphysical theory in response to the new scientific view of the universe and in relationship to the counter claims of the church. Take heart is born in fifteen hundred ninety six at the turn of the 17th century four years before Bruno was burned at the stake as a Copernican Descartes was the son of a lawyer in Brittany in northern part of France. His family was one of the oldest and most respected in the region. Descartes was brought up with all of the amenities of noble and upper class life in his early years. He wore the green velvet dress and the sort of French nobility. He attended Le flesh a famous Jesuit College from 10 to 18 years of
age and he was dissatisfied However with his education there and unconvinced of any truth that he could be sure wrong. He was weary of textbooks based on confused ideas and unconfirmed science and weary of the authoritative dogmas of the church. When he completed his studies at last flash he stopped reading entirely and began to travel. Here we have a very modern note like the despair of someone in our time who longs for moral certainty and finding none might stop reading entirely and who also might just go off to the homologies and look for a guru. The longing for certainty was always paramount with a car. Mathematics alone he regarded as certain but what relation did mathematics have to other kinds of knowledge. And so he begins his travels in 16:00 18 he joined the army of Prince Maurice of Nassau as an unpaid volunteer during this kind of thing represented a kind of war college for young members of the nobility.
Descartes followed the advancing army at his own leisure while studying music and mathematics and sixteen hundred nineteen they got transferred to another army to the Army of the Duke of Bavaria and he was detained by the weather in November in the year nineteen hundred sixteen hundred nineteen. In the small German town of. O.M. where he remained for a whole day shut up in his hot room in the company of a huge about the and stove. He had decided to review his situation philosophical and personable. That night he had a vision in a dream and in his diary there is the following momentous entry 10th of November 16 hundred nineteen. I was filled with enthusiasm. I discovered the foundations of a marvelous science and at the same time my vocation was revealed to me. He takes a vow that he will devote the rest of his life to establish this new science and he promises to visit the shrine of our Lady of Loretto to give
thanks for the vision he was given. What was this vision. It was a vision of a plan for a single unified science in which philosophy and all the sciences would be integrated interconnected in one systematic totality and all qualitative differences of things would be treated mathematically as quantitative differences and mathematics would be the key to all the problems of the universe. By contrast with Plato who saw the unity of all sciences in the idea of the good for Descartes the unity of science was a rational mystic and mathematical unity based on clear and distinct mathematical ideas as axioms for the next nine years. Descartes devoted himself to working out a method for this unification of the sciences. Meanwhile you sold the estates in France which he had inherited from his wealthy father so as to have the funds to live as he says free
from the obligation of making a living from my science. Leisure enabled him to sleep a lot which he liked a lot. He usually stayed in bed until noon and has come to be known as the philosopher who did his best work in bed. He recommends idleness to anyone who would wish to produce good intellectual work and he values his leisure as being without cares or passions to trouble me. He remains always aloof from the moral and political conflicts of his day. Like all the philosophers of his time he did not become a professor at a university. Since the universities were then so censored by the church that they had become stagnant and extremely hostile to the new science toward anyone who liked a co-author would profess the new science. Descartes was always a solitary man and he decided that no social commitments and no marriage bonds will ever make. So as not to interfere with his vow to advance knowledge by the vision of the new method he refused to be married saying no
beauty is comparable to the beauty of truth but Descartes also expressed a startlingly cynical view of marriage saying when a husband weeps over a dead wife in spite of this in his innermost soul he feels a secret joy. And yet to day card did have an illegitimate daughter whose death in her early childhood appears to have saddened him greatly and he was a long time recovering from the day Cox settled in Holland when he was 32 years old and he lived there for twenty years enjoying the toleration of the Dutch government. It is sixteen hundred twenty two he finished his drink his Copernican treatise on the world but as he was about to study the treatise off for publication he learned that Galileo had been condemned by the inquisition of the Catholic Church and that Galileo's book had been publicly burned. Descartes immediately hurried to stop publication of his own book and he says it is imprudent to lose one's lot when one can save oneself without dishonor. And he
has the word spread about that. He holds theology in the highest esteem as well as the church. Descartes scholars are divided on day Kautz real views about the church and his teachings. Descartes also says now that I am to be not only a spectator of the world but am to appear an actor on the stage. I wear a mask they gods mask represent one way of dealing with the fear of persecution. But one thinks also of Socrates or of the contemporary Russian decenter Alexander you need some who did not win in mosques and who were outspoken in the face of persecution and willing to face death or deportation. Three years after this Descartes published his discourse on method a discourse on scientific method which remains a philosophic classic to this very day and ten years later he published the meditations on first philosophy which we are reading here. The last important event in Descartes life was his receiving
a request or request he could not refuse from the Queen Christina of Sweet'N that the intellectual queen to come and help her understand his philosophy which he was trying to read. Returning from Cork one November morning and 16:00 fifty he got a chill and died of pneumonia within a week. Thus perished the greatest philosopher of frumps at the height of his powers. What is the claim of Descartes to greatness as a philosopher. Eight years he also himself a twentieth century famous French philosopher says of Descartes he lived by thought alone or thought alone. Never was an existence more noble than his. Next time. We'll take a look at some of his thoughts. Why. Why. Why.
They were. Recorded in the studios of the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting.
From Socrates To Sartre
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The Modern World Begins
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Maryland Public Television
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Maryland Public Television (Owings Mills, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Descartes I: Scholasticism. Cartesian Rationalism - 17th century France. Conflict between the Christian-Scholastic world-view and the development of the new sciences. Empiricism and mathematical rationalism. The challenge to existing beliefs by Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo. The growth of mathematics, physics, chemistry, physiology. The life of Descartes, mathematician, physicist, philosopher. His fear of persecution, refuge in Holland. His philosophic resolution of the conflict. Cartesian rationalism compared with platonic rationalism.
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"From Socrates to Sartre is an educational show hosted by Dr. Thelma Z. Lavine, who teaches viewers about the theories and history of philosophy."
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Copyright Holder: MPT
Host: Thelma Z. Lavine, Ph.D.
Producing Organization: Maryland Public Television
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