Thursday, 30 September 2010

Lecture 2 Summary

Yesterday I had my second lecture on the history of Journalism. There were some interesting discussions. I'm slowly developing a love for the weird and wacky side to the history and theories we're learning about.

Take, for example, Thomas More's description of 'Utopia'. (1518) It's insane. Basically, it's a vision of the perfect world. A flawless, perfect world in social, political and moral terms. Admittedly, some parts of Thomas' vision don't make much sense to me and I really wouldn't fancy popping over to the Southern hemisphere for a relaxing week away. More says that on Utopia there are no locks on the doors, suits last 7 years, all clothes are made by families and no difference is made between Summer and Winter clothing. Should Channel 4 look into this theory and implement it into a new Philosophical reality TV show?

Pictured above: A map of 'Utopia' by Abraham Ortelius

As peculiar as it may seem, More's theory of a perfect world is strangely fascinating. René Descartes also strikes me as a very interesting man. His work was not only unique but particularly influential, marking the 'intellectual transition' from the Middle ages to the modern world. We went on to discuss his view on what he called 'false ideas'. Interestingly, Descartes came to the conclusion that if he was not to live under false ideas he should dismantle his beliefs. Essentially, he wanted to 'unlearn' everything and rebuild his knowledge from the ground up. He also decided that while he was doing this, he would stick with the most moderate ideas around at the tine. Clearly, his passion for the pursuit of truth was a process he believed was vital to his own intellectual well-being.

Obviously, when one thinks of René Descartes the phrase 'I think, therefore I am' comes to mind (In Latin this translates to 'Cogito ergo sum') But what does this mean and why is it so influential in the world of philosophy? The video link I've embedded above is a nice reading of some of Descartes' thoughts that portrays the philosophers ideas and theories. Descartes attempted to prove his own existence as a thinking being by doing exactly that - Thinking. Personally, I think the thing I admire most about René is his complete determination, drive and desire to answer some of life's most important questions, even if these questions seemed unanswerable in the first place. As he said himself, 'Is there not a God, or some being, by whatever name I may designate Him, who causes these thoughts to arise in my mind?"


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