God vs. EthicsIn Soren Kierkegaards Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard uses the example of Abraham and his son Isaac to illustrate what Kirkegaard terms the teleological suspension of the ethical: Abraham acted in accordance to no imaginable ethical standard by acting according to Gods commands, and by doing so, he suspended his ethical judgment for no reason other than faith. In this essay, I will examine the ramifications of the aforementioned suspension of the ethical, attempt to identify circumstances in which divine will pre-empts ethical considerations, and examine the conflict of God and ethical frameworks, with particular mind to the views of Kant and Socrates.
Kierkegaard explicitly states that little can be said about the teleological suspension, since it falls outside the bounds of rationality. In a sense, then, the suspension must be defined negatively. It is not a utilitarian principle, through which a seemingly unethical action is justified by appealing to the greater good: Th
The Audacity of HopeIn Barack Obamas 2004 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address, The Audacity of Hope, Obama invoked passion for the American way of life to persuade his audience that John Kerry and John Edwards were the best candidates for the 2004 Presidential election. In my analysis, I intend to show that his specific purpose was to convince his audience that Kerry and Edwards were the best choice, to show that he successfully associated Kerry and Edwards with American values and electability, and to show that his use of repetition conveyed sincerity and accessibility.
In the body of Obamas speech, he dedicated time to describing what he saw as the best components of the United States of America and to demonstrating that John Kerry exemplifies these components: Obama first introduced a question of value (what makes America great?), then answered a question of policy (John Kerry incorporates what makes America great; therefore he should be elected). Therefore, the whole
On Education in UtopiasIn my last essay, I examined the role of art in a utopia, and concluded that in individualistic societies, it flourishes; and that in holistic societies, it is suppressed. Similarly, the role of education seems to be divided along these lines: In the civilizations dedicated to stability, education becomes a matter of suppression of thought and the exposition of the bare minimum of knowledge required to function; in civilizations dedicated to individual expression, education becomes a matter of encouraging intellectual acumen and broadening knowledge. Today, I shall examine two societies so differentiated: That of Aldous Huxleys Brave New World, and that of his Island.
In Brave New World, the education system is dedicated to conditioning a citizen to function as a component of the World State, both in terms of developing his or her desires and in terms of developing his or her knowledge. In the first chapter, the Director of Hatcheries states that particulars are what make for a p
Incompleteness and UtopiaFinite, progressive knowledge can be modeled upon a mathematical formal system: from a small set of initial statements and rules of inference, one expands ones base of knowledge until one gets as close to complete understanding as possible, limited by Gödels Incompleteness Theorem. Infinite, instantaneous knowledge, the sort that I ascribe to a divine being, is not subject to the progression or temporality of the finite version of knowledge, but it can still be expressed to those subject to time and finitude. If a utopia is to be possible, it would require the perfection of human knowledge insofar as it is possible to eliminate malevolence, develop stable or otherwise sustainable modes of government, and determine what goal, if any, the utopia should achieve. Correspondingly, any attempt at a viable utopia must call upon the greater and transcendental knowledge of a being unfettered by the finite restrictions the human mind suffers; any real perfect society must pull its des
On OmniscienceSince Gödels Incompleteness Theorem was first published, its significance with regards to the possibility of a complete base of knowledge has been debated. On the one hand, philosophers such as Patrick Grim have argued that Gödels Incompleteness Theorem proves that there is no possibility of a complete body of knowledge, since any body of knowledge can be modeled on a formal system, subject to Gödelian incompleteness. John Lucas argues that omniscience, or at least a transcendence of incompleteness, is possible, and that knowledge is generated beyond mere mechanical manipulations. Some, such as Gödel and me, have interpreted the theorem to mean that mathematics contains truths that are objective. In this section, I shall present these three interpretations of the theorem.
One of the easiest conclusions that can be drawn from Gödels Incompleteness Theorem is that, since any formal system must necessarily be incomplete, no body of kno
Incompleteness TheoremGödels Incompleteness Theorem is one of the most surprising results to come out of twentieth-century mathematical logic. In its most basic form, the theorem states that there exist mathematical statements that are true, but cannot be proven by the mathematical framework the statements are a part of. In this section of my essay, I intend to describe its history, since the context of mathematical formalism is important to understand its significance, and the basics of its derivation and meaning.
Gödels Incompleteness Theorem first appeared in 1931, at a time when the dominant drive in mathematics was the consolidation of mathematics to the most self-evident axioms and immediately apparent axioms; the idea was to avoid even the possibility of internally inconsistent systems and to prevent mathematics from being infected with shortcuts peculiar to human thought. One of the most famous attempts to create a strictly formal mathematical systemthat is, a system with