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It’s been interesting simultaneously taking Behavioral Neuroscience and Theory of Knowledge. The two subjects tackle the question of “How do we know?” in entirely different ways.
An interesting perspective from which to approach the subject is from the Dualist “Mind-Body Distinction” proposed by Descartes. It’s weird. Neuroscience scoffs (generally) at the idea that we have an independent “mind/soul/etc” that is separate from the material composition of our brain. It seems very odd that a shit ton of neurons (billions, in fact) connecting to each other and firing electrical impulses, causing the release of hormones, etc. somehow explains that feeling I get when I see a sad movie or win praise from someone. What causes the neurons to fire in the way they do? What is the source of the stimulus? How does experiencing a certain stimulus lead to the chain of events in the brain?
It seems almost like the same problem facing the origin of the universe. Does it “just happen?” Perhaps the question is out of our grasp. Perhaps science will one day answer it for us. It seems almost like philosophy and science complement our need for knowledge in different ways. Philosophy fills in the gaps where empirical experimentation comes up short.
Just some thoughts =P
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I used to have a lot of respect for a philosopher named Ayn Rand. Her views seemed to be very well-reasoned, even if they were controversial. They had a sort of cool “IN YOUR FUCKING FACE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM!” feel to them.
The more I’ve read about her though, the more I seem to think that she was just a bitter lady taking out her personal inclinations through philosophical argumentation. Take for instance, her assessment of philosophical giant Immanuel Kant, who she dubbed as a “monster” and “the most evil man to ever exist.” This hardly seems like a fair and honest assessment of a man who practically defines the discussion of ethical theory for the past 250 years.
Also, her books. I read the first 250 pages of the Fountainhead. That was more than enough. I got her point about fifteen pages into the book. Howard Roark is a genius who only cares about himself and conventional wisdom is stupid and need not be the way people live their lives. You don’t need 800 pages to make that point. Apparently Ayn Rand doesn’t care about trees in addition to anyone else.
Essentially what Ayn Rand’s theories do is justify being a selfish prick. Rather, I should say, they ATTEMPT to justify them. I guess you can make a reasonable philosophical argument for being selfish to promote the goodness for the self. But that hypothetical situation is just a plain dumb way to approach life. As a champion for libertarians and/or conservatives, Ayn Rand has made people really think that living for yourself and telling others to fuck off is a good way to approach living your life.
What Rand misses is the core of being human, our “social” nature. You can’t simply dismiss others throughout your life and enjoy it (See Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Social Interaction a la Evolution by Natural Selection, History of Mankind). Not everyone is an isolated, narcissistic, arrogant sociopath like Ayn Rand seems to think. Her philosophical view misses the key ingredient of practicality. She assumes we’re all Frank Lloyd Wrights who just suck our own dicks all day long or Paris Hiltons who don’t need to help others because we already have it well off.
I understand this is not how she conceives her argument. But I like to apply Philosophy to real life. And being selfish is no way to live real life. Helping others has real benefits and it’s what makes the world go round. I’m terrible sorry that a woman as smart and talented as Ayn Rand didn’t bother to recognize this.
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So, according to the evidence provided by our ancestors, madness is a nobler thing than sober sense. Sober sense is merely human…whereas madness comes from God.
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