Thursday, 30 September 2010

Lecture 2 (Raw Notes)


'Rebirth in learning'
Aristotle – Key in the Middle Ages
All learning guided by sacred books

Aristotle and the Bible began to merge

Pythagoras, heavily influential
Idea of numbers at the centre of understanding

Believed you could understand science through numbers


Remembered in his dialogues / discussions

Central figures – Aristotle / Plato
Plato = Aristotle's teacher

Disagreed on a great number of issues

Plato's 'cave analogy'

Aristotle didn't believe in a perfect world outside of our own.

Plato thought the senses are always confused and impure. Only the soul can have knowledge of the forms.

Renaissance – North / South Europe
Followed by the 'Age of reason'

End of the dark ages, beginning of the modern age

1492 – Columbus

New technology, travel tales become a tradition. Thomas More's Utopia

Creation of global economy

Medici family built their fortune in banking and getting around the ban on charging interest.
They became incredibly rich through dodging the ban of interest

Protagoras - “Man is the measure of all things”
South – Direct attack on the teachings of the church
North – Attempt to find compromise

Scientific Renaissance:

Galileo argued that the Bible shouldn't influence science
He stressed the quantitative, not the qualitative

Telescope – Direct attack on Aristotle


The beginning of political science
Representative of Southern Renaissance humanism
Wrote 'The Prince'
Written for Medici rulers of Florence, a 'how-to' guide

Wrote about:
How to get power
How to keep power

The message? Get power by any means! Hope when you held power you would do good deeds.
Described explicitly how to get power – Questionable morality?

Rules of Machiavelli

In conflict always support the weaker side, because when the conflict is over you will be the dominant power
Centralised regimes are difficult to conquer but easy to hold

Armed prophets succeed, unarmed ones always fail
If you plan to take power, appoint somebody to do the nasty work!

Cruelty vs Clemency

It is better to be feared than loved, for love is fickle but fear is constant”

Rene Descartes

17th Century
Advocated systematic doubt
Great concept for Journalists

Marks intellectual transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world

Completely against Aristotle

Loved long lie-ins! He believed he did most of his best thinking in bed. He also felt his formal education had given him nothing useful
When he was older, he went travelling
Joined wars around Europe
Believes he cannot rely on anything learned from custom

Comes to the conclusion that if he is not to live under false ideas then once in his life he should dismantle his entire belief system and build it up again

While he was overhauling his ideas he will simply go along with the most moderate ideas around at the time

Can we really be sure of anything?

I think, therefore I am”

He has proved that he exists, but he can doubt everything else. Even his own body, so therefore his mind/soul must be distinct from his body


Finds that in his mind, he has the concept of a perfect being. The idea of god has been given to me by god.

God is not a deceiver.

Modern philosophy begins with Descartes

Russell's P.O.V - “This was insanity”


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