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Philosophy Essays (& other stuff)

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Hello, and welcome  to my essays page 1.  My name is Susan Fleck.  I  received a Bachelors degree in philosophy from California State University at Fullerton (1996), and a Masters Degree (Humanities with emphasis in Philosophy) at Cal. State Univ., Dominguez Hills in 2008.

Susan's Essays Index:


Philosophy's Quest  . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

The Value of Philosophy . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Greek / Ancient Philosophy:

Aristotle on Eudaimonia: Dominant
End or Inclusive Aggregate?   . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Aristotle on Ultimate Happiness . . . Abstract   Essay

Aristotle in the Medieval Era  . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Meno's Paradox   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Greek Origins:
Mythos, Polis, and Logos   . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Antigone, Jacosta, and Diotima   . . . Abstract   Essay

Plato's Republic Versus
Pericles' Democracy . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

The One and the Many:
Greek City
Models . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay


Descartes' God Argument  . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Hume's Bundles of Perceptions  . . . . Abstract   Essay

Can There be Mind over Matter?  . . Abstract   Essay

A Framework for Personal Identity  . Abstract   Essay

The Problem of Cartesian Dualism   . Abstract   Essay

Kant on Things in Themselves  . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Hegel on Absolute Spirit  . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Augustine Overcomes Materialism  . Abstract   Essay

Berkeley on Secondary Qualities . . . Abstract   Essay

Extension and Intension:

A False Dichotomy   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Behaviorism and Identity Theory  . . . Abstract   Essay

Which ship--X or Y--is
The Spirit of Athens?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay


In Defense of Processed Knowledge . Abstract   Essay

Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?

Edmund Gettier's Famous Problem . . Abstract   Essay

On Logical Positivism  . .  . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Carnap on Empiricism, Semantics,

and Ontology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Instrumentalism  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

A Chink in the Causal Chain  . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Kuhn: The Scientific Community . . . . Abstract   Essay

Scientific Knowledge is

Not a Higher God   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay


Rational-Duty Meets

Rational-Selfishness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Beyond Ethical Egoism . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Pro-Life and Pro-Choice: Red
Herrings or valid "never" and

"always" positions?  (Abortion). . . . . Abstract   Essay

Is Adultery Immoral? Continuing a

Discussion by Richard Wasserstrom.  Abstract   Essay

The Right to Die? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Aristotle on Eudaimonia: Dominant
End or Inclusive Aggregate?    . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Aristotle on Ultimate Happiness  . . . . Abstract   Essay

Politics and History:

Democratic Socialism:
An Oxymoron?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Plato's Republic Versus
Pericles' Democracy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

The One and the Many:
Greek City
Models . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Renaissance Master-Slave
                     Relationships . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay


In the Name of God  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

A Glimpse at Taoism  . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Confucius on Jen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

The First Emperor  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Hegel on Absolute Spirit  . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Augustine Overcomes Materialism  . Abstract   Essay


The Existential Kiss:

Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor  . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Ibsen's "Master Builder". . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Sylvia's Birthday Present . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

After Death, Then What" A Review

of "Humboldt's Gift"  . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Courage to Confront and Let Go:

An Examination of

"The Secret Sharer"  . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay


In Defense of Processed Knowledge . Abstract   Essay

Rational-Duty Meets

Rational-Selfishness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay

Beyond Ethical Egoism   . . . . . . . . . . . Abstract   Essay


Essay Subject Index

More essays/abstracts:

Go to Abstracts Page 2

Go to Abstracts Page 3

Suzi's Essay Abstracts

In Defense of Processed Knowledge.    This paper explains the basic structures of Objectivism's Epistemology (how do we obtain knowledge?).   In addition, there are comparisons and contrasts with other major schools of thought on the subject of knowledge. Here you will find Rand's theory of concept formation, Unit Economy and abstraction.  You will also discover how she debunks the so-called analytic-synthetic dichotomy.

Rational-Duty meets Rational-Selfishness.     Did you know that Immanuel Kant's ethical system has a deeply rational basis?  Did you know that he, like Rand, views persons as "ends in themselves?"  . . . that, Kant, like Rand, is opposed to tyrannical govenrmnets which intrude far too much on personal liberty? . . .  that, like Rand, he believes we should bring quality to our lives and strive for happiness? . . . and that self-esteem plays a key role in his ethical system?  If this is all true, as I demonstrate in this essay, then why is Kant epitomized as the "enemy of Objectivism, including his views on ethics?  I explain why:  This essay compares and contrasts Kantian and Randian ethics, including their views of values, human relations, human nature, rationality, emotions, and self-esteem.

See related chart comparing Kantian and Randian ethical systems.

The Existential Kiss: Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor:    As Robert Lord pointed out, it is not in the history of ideas where Dostoevsky makes his mark, but rather in illustrating the central unknown factor - existence.  I will show you in this essay how so much is told from that one silent kiss from the Grand Inquisitor.   The main messages Dostoevsky gives us in the Grand Inquisitor are explained:   (1) We live in so far as we love;  (2) Deductive reasoning alone isolates facts from meaning; (3) Men have a deep-seated capacity for evil,  but those who try to distance themselves from their sensual nature become self-lacerated and isolated; (4) God wants men to love freely; and (6) True security is to be found in social solidarity.   This paper assumes that the reader is familiar with the story of the Grand Inquisitor and the characters in "The Brothers Karamazov."

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Hume's Bundles of Perceptions.   Two little paragraphs in the midst of David Hume's "Treatise on Human Nature" present Hume's idea that  we (all men) are nothing but bundles of perceptions.  This essay picks apart the argument in these paragraphs pointing out what is valid and what is invalid in the formal steps of Hume's argument.  While this portion of Hume's text focuses on the subject of personal identity, my essay explains wider philosophical assumptions Hume subsumed in his two paragraph mini thesis. The original Hume text, alongside formal argument steps is included after the body of my essay.

Decartes' God Argument.   This essay examines the so-called 'God argument' that is wedged between the 'Dream argument' and that of the 'evil demon' in Decartes' "First Meditation."  Descartes was deeply disturbed by the pervasive skepticism of his time.  Ironically, he deploys the strategy of thorough going doubt in the First Meditation. We will see how this God Argument fits in with Decartes overall plan of doubt in the First Meditation, and for laying the foundation for the rest of the Meditations.

Extension and Intension: A False Dichotomy   Hilary Putnam, in his paper titled "The Meaning of 'Meaning," argues against the prevailing two-part view that claims (i), that meanings are in the head, via certain psychological states, and (ii), that the meaning determines a concept's extension.  I disclose the false dichotomy of extension versus intension in meanings.  I explain why this dichotomy leads us astray from the reality for which we are trying to find meanings.

Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?  Edmund Gettier's Famous Problem.    In his famous essay "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?" Edmund Gettier argues that conditions expressed in three classical propositions about what are the necessary and sufficient conditions  for someone to know a given proposition are not always sufficient to satisfy knowledge.  I argue that, while Gettier's logic is flawless in terms of proposition statements, his problem is meaningless in terms of knowledge.  The meaning goes out the window when you allow justification to become transitive to propositions inferred from false propositions, even when these false propositions allow for justified belief.

A Chink in the Causal Chain.   Alvin Goldman, in his article A Causal Theory of Knowing, explains that there must be a causal link from inferences back to the proposition in order to constitute knowledge.  One of the examples he uses, however, obscures the view portrayed up to that point.  I will explain that by including this example, Goldman comes (dangerously) close to showing that there may not be a valid distinction between the sacred dichotomy of analytic and synthetic knowledge.

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In the Name of God.   The “Enlightenment Paradox” led to a general age of isolation and rebellion against God.  It was a paradox because life was supposed to be so much better under the light of reason, but the Judeo-Christian heritage was bypassed when men tried to base their moral ideals on reason rather than on faith.  Matthew Fox, theologian, explains how, in the 17th century, “science went out and explored the universe, while religion went inside to explore the soul.  And the result is that science forgot about the soul, while religion thinks of soul as something that’s only inside.”  Is the divide between the religious minded and atheists too large to connect?  Is the concept of God an issue where dialogue between the atheist and believer can continue, or are the differences too incongruous?  Some think that “God” is not even a valid concept that allows for intelligent discussion.  This paper examines that sentiment and explores how the dialogue can continue through the avenues of aesthetics, science and religion.

Is Adultery Immoral?  Continuing a Discussion by Richard Wasserstrom:   Wasserstrom's purpose, in his paper “Is Adultery Immoral?”, to a large degree, is to get us to think about how we think about sexual morality, instead of delineating clearly the truth about the rights and wrongs of adultery. My essay, by  focusing on a particular aspect of marriage, proposes that adultery is immoral without having to use arguments in which adultery is immoral only because it involves other types of immoral behavior.  The concept explored here is that of a marriage partner’s bonding: a union where two individual entities become one new kind of entity.  I will first show briefly why one does not have to tie adultery to other ‘sins’ to expose immorality.  Next, I will demonstrate why adultery is immoral according to current prevailing standards.  Lastly, this question, like most dealing with ethics, is re-opened for more discussion.

Scientific Knowledge is Not a Higher God.   In his paper, Technical and Untechnical Concepts,  Gilbert Ryle posits a kind of linguistic evolution inherent in scientific theorizing which makes technical terms incompatible with ordinary language terms.  There should be two distinct concepts, Ryle suggests, to distinguish sensory based qualities, for which we use ordinary language to describe, from ‘science’ based qualities, for which we use technical language to describe.  I argue against Ryle’s view that scientific knowledge, behind the technical language used, is a ‘higher truth,’ and that therefore it should receive some special priority in our claims of knowledge.

The Value of Philosophy.   It is unfortunate that the nature of what philosophy is, and what philosophers do, creates a boundary of a seemingly strange  vocabulary and conceptual dialogue that makes it so undesirable  for most people to explore.  It seems, to the inexperienced traveler, as if the philosophers over the centuries have constructed a monstrous barricade in front of the highway leading to the City of Philosophy, with a large sign posted on it which reads:  “TRESPASS AT YOUR OWN RISK.”  There is not one clue on that sign about what one may find beyond this barricade of language and esoteric dialogue.  Most of life’s travelers, then, bypass this rich domain and rarely understand the bases of their most general beliefs and feelings.  They do not realize that behind that barricade there are men and women at work who produce ideas which have the power of either destroying or sustaining the very foundations of civilization. This essay is about the importance and value of philosophy for human living.

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Berkeley on Secondary Qualities.   What counts as an item being a thing instead of a property or attribute of a thing?  What criteria is used to distinguish between substance and properties ?  If objects are independent of our mind, what is the status of their qualities (color, etc.)?  If they are not in the object, isn't it to be assumed that they are then merely in the mind and therefore are subjective and unreal?  The subject of secondary qualities leads to a discussion about primary qualities, which leads to concepts of substance and then the epistemological questions of What do I know? and How do I know it?   This essay touches on aspects of all of these questions in order to have an understanding of Berkeley's position on secondary qualities.  Some of berkeley's arguments used to back his position will be examined and I attempt to come to a definitive conclusion as to the rightness or wrongness of his position.  An alternative to the 'in the object' / 'in the mind' dichotomy is offered.

The Right to Die?   Regarding euthanasia, or so-called mercy-killing, in a word, condemnation is the official position of the Jewish, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths, and of most Protestant sects.  However, there are voices among those faiths’ leaders, especially Protestants, who are advocates of euthanasia.   This short essay focuses on theological considerations regarding active euthanasia, specifically meaning ‘taking action designed to kill the terminally ill patient.’  The controversy surrounding euthanasia from the Judeo-Christian perspective is examined.

On Logical Positivism.   During the 1920's and 1930's, logical positivism was a revolutionary and powerful force in philosophy which declared metaphysical, theological, and ethical pronouncements as lacking of cognitive meaning, and therefore beyond the boundaries of rational philosophical discussion.  Positivists placed high value on physical science, mathematics and logic.  This paper examines the methodology of logical positivism:  (1) its historical background;  (2) how it attempts to solve philosophical problems;  (3) how it sweeps metaphysical questions under the rug as meaningless, and  (4) some fundamental weaknesses with logical positivism.  The methodology involves six main aspects which are briefly explored:  language; concepts; verification of meaning;  justification of claims; logic; and instrumentalism.

Kuhn: The Scientific Community.   The purpose of their essay is not to clarify Thomas Kuhn’s theory of science, recognizing that Kuhn, himself, attempted to do that in his 1970  postscript, but rather to attack the ideas that are associated with Kuhn.   Often, ideas associated with Kuhn  miss the major theme that Kuhn wanted to discuss- the scientific community per se: how it operates, how learning takes place, and its sanctity -that is, why it should remain autonomous.

The One and the Many: Three Greek City Models. One of the major problems in the study of philosophy is commonly known as "the one and the many," or "the one over the many."  In studying real and imagined Greek cities in the classical period, it is an interesting quest to try to determine to what degree these cities were able to, or not able to, balance the needs of the one individual with the many inhabitants comprising a city.  Plato, in the Republic, applies his theory of Forms, which has everything to do with the problem of the one and the many, by outlining what he considers to be an ideal "good" city full of harmony, justice, and beauty.  Kreon, in the mythical city of Thebes in the Antigone, applies his right of kingship in an attempt to produce harmony among his city's dwellers. The citizens of the real city of Athens in the fifth century B.C., and within her sister colonies, through applying democratic principles, achieved a marvelous advancement in human culture with a synergistic balance between their personal and public lives.  However, these three models of Greek cities had tremendous flaws, as are discussed in this essay.

Renaissance Master-Slave Relationships. It is common to think of the Renaissance era as a period of emergence out of the "oppressive" Dark Ages and as a "rebirth" under the guiding light of discovered documents and artifacts from antiquity. Under this paradigm, the Renaissance is thus seen as a movement toward freedom and a view that through reason man can be the master of his universe. However, history and literature from that period tell a different story; from these sources we receive a multi-faceted and chaotic view of this epoch, and find that freedom was a prize difficult to wrench loose from the entrenched institutions of nobility and the Church.  In renaissance cities in Europe, in Thomas More's Utopia, and in William Shakespeare's London, we see how different types of freedom are gained or lost in proportion to the shifting powers of the diverse master-slave relationships coalescing during this era due to a multitude of economic, social, political, and religious forces driving changes in those relationships. On the whole, most of the freedoms gained in this period were counterbalanced by the negative consequences unleashed as a result of the nature inherent in those very freedoms.

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