Month: December 2017

The Philosophy of Star Wars

The Philosophy of Star Wars

A Long Time Ago, In A Land Far Far Away…

2 Distinguished Philosophers, Teacher and Pupil to one another, for although they come from 2 different generations, fate intertwines them together, to create a conflict between scholars, for nearly 2000 years after their passing. On one side, we have Plato, believing that humans are beings with innate gift to think, and everything we have in our world are just a shadow of true knowledge and our ideals. On the other side we have Aristotle, believing that knowledge comes from experience, and only after receiving experience does a human have capabilities of comprehending something.

Neither of them are good and evil, but the both of them are equally strong, and equally smart, until then, both sides, of the Rationalists and the Empiricists, must fight, arguing every article, maintaining the balance of the Thought, until one true Rationalist or Empiricist shall win the war for them, finishing a conflict that has went on for eternities.

Well, yes, this quarrel between Innate Knowledge versus Experience has went on and on and on for 2 millenniums. Today I’m going to explain the relation between the 2 and Star Wars, because trust me, if I put Empiricism or Rationalism onto the title, no one will click it. But if you add the Star Wars brand onto the title, and then BAM! Fanboys will march and click it… Probably the Star Wars tag is what dragged you here, anyways read on, this philosophy article is gift wrapped with Star Wars, and I hope this article could help you comprehend Rationalism and Empiricism more.

Like Stormtroopers marching to war, we shall march onto the article!

MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS BEWARE WHEN READING… I’M SERIOUS

Rationalism and Empiricism

What on Earth does Rationalism and Empiricism even mean? I’m here to read about Star Wars!

Patience young Philosopher, we shall get there. Just not now… Though you can skip this part if you would like to, but I really hope you don’t (Just so you know, I’d make a terrible Yoda)

Still here? Good, don’t skip to the Star Wars part just yet…

If you think the war between the Republic and the Empire (or First Order, Resistance, just, insert whatever name you want here, especially Millennials who haven’t watched Episode IV-VI yet) has been going on and on for a long time, this is probably the longest quarrel ever. Like I said previously, it has went on for nearly 2000 years, until a hero solved the problem and brought peace to the galaxy of philosophy.

Of course, we know it is a conflict, you don’t need to watch Star Wars to know the Jedi and the Sith are on 2 different sides. Well, let’s put it onto perspective…

Rationalists…

Rationalists are people who believe in Innate knowledge, they believe in Reason as the reason we could comprehend things in real life. Humans are born with basic skills to reason with reality. They are the followers of Plato, who once said that everything is but a shadow of earthly knowledge. Plato was the original Jedi… or Sith… I don’t know, I won’t pick sides by saying the Rationalists are the Sith or the Jedi, that’s not fair.

A famous Rationalist was René Descartes (he’s the Skywalker, or Vader of the Rationalists). Descartes uttered the quote “I think, therefore I am”. A simple, meaningful, and memorable quote, basically saying that we exist, purely by thinking, and no matter what devils (or Descartes’ definition of The Dark Side) do to distort our belief, the devils cannot distort our beliefs if we do not exist in the first place.

Descartes said that no matter what the world tries to do to distort our beliefs, or distort us from the truth, we humans will come back to our original reasoning, and we would know whether or not our beliefs are true or not. Any sane man will never actually doubt these things, but he once devised some form of test, making a man question everything, from the existence of god, to whether or not this world is an illusion. He basically became the Evil Demon who distorts humans from the truth.

Through this experiment (I can’t call it an experiment with the standard of experiments we have today, but it should be considered as one), Descartes “proved” that through innate reason of a sane man, any doubt caused by whatever it may be, will always lead us back to truth. I have no Star Wars analogies at this point, but I shall move on to Empiricism.

Empiricists…

No, they’re not the Empire, they are the followers of Aristotle, the original Empiricist. Empiricists believes in knowledge coming through experience, and after dealing with something of past experience, we would remember it, whilst also being capable to not step in the same hole twice.

Anyways, The term Empiricist comes from the term Empirical, which means Solid Evidence (in a nutshell it is). Since according to Aristotle the Truth is obtained from the world around us, Empiricists believe evidence is gained through experience.

Truth is something you gain from observation, you can’t get the truth without experiencing something, that’s a pretty common belief among Empiricists.

Empiricists believe in Aristotle’s syllogism, which is a form of logic Aristotle devised, it’s a form of logic used to this day. 

Syllogism started with Aristotle’s uttering the phrase “Socrates Is Mortal”. He obtained this logic from 2 thoughts that connect with each other.

  • Men Are Mortal
  • Socrates Is A Man
  • Therefore Socrates is Mortal

Back then, since Socrates was so brave to drink some lethal concoction which instantly killed him, people thought he was immortal, and thanks to Aristotle, he somehow disproved it.

Syllogism is simple? Indeed it is… But back then this invention of logic was like the invention of the Light Bulb . Because it enabled people who aren’t quite as smart as Aristotle to question and answer some of the simpler questions in life.

Another form of Syllogism is Aristotle sorting animals based on some categories he devised.

  • A mammal suckles its young
  • Elephants suckle their young
  • Therefore elephants are mammals

And he goes on and on with some of the species in the animal kingdom. Aristotle’s observations and research are still used in some species to this day.

Star Wars Rationalism

Skip here if you’re a fanboy of Star Wars, who only came because of the title. This is the part where Star Wars analogies are being used the most.

The heroes of Star Wars are using rationalism. True, the Jedi does benefit from experience in using the Force. But without the bloodline of a Jedi, and without the reasoning of a proper Jedi, what you’ll have is a Sith. *Cough* Kylo Ren *Cough*

So, in terms of Rationalism versus Empiricism, Jedis rely more on their basic Reasoning rather than their Experience. 

The experience that they’d obtain, would differ from their basic reasoning. If they don’t have proper reasoning, then the Emperor or Supreme Leader would convert the Jedi onto the Dark Side.

Like Descartes said, through one’s reasoning, a human is certain of their existence, and through their reasoning and thinking, they would get back to their original beliefs, one that they are certain of. Regardless of whatever evil demons, the Dark Side, or whatever people do to distort their beliefs.

If one doesn’t have enough reasoning, then they’d be insane, thinking about their own existence, and reality. In Star Wars logic, they’d be converted to the Dark Side, receiving the training of a Sith. I wouldn’t mind if there are more Siths though, the Sith are cool. (Yes, they’re better than the Jedi… in my opinion… *Sticks tongue out*)

Of course, experience plays a part onto the strength of a Jedi. But the experience we use would still be affected by our basic reasoning more than our experience.

Why is that? You might ask…

Well let’s put it this way… A Jedi wouldn’t Force Choke people. A Sith would. What’s the reason you’re using the Force in the first place? A Jedi uses the force to protect people, or to… Well actually I’ve no idea, I still don’t completely understand the purpose of the Jedi and the Sith. But point is, A Jedi wouldn’t hurt people, A Sith wouldn’t mind hurting people. That’s their basic reasoning.

From then Experience plays some part, of course the more often you choke someone, the better the quality of your choking. But since a Jedi would never choke someone in the first place, then the basic reasoning affects the judgement of a Jedi or Sith more than experience.

If I recalled precisely the way a Jedi and a Sith utilizes the Force is different. The Jedi channels it with a peace of mind, and The Sith channels it with hate and anger. Therefore, reason affects the judgement of a Jedi more than experience.

You change the reasoning of a Jedi, he or she becomes a Sith. You change the reasoning of a Sith he or she becomes… I don’t think they’ll become a Jedi though… Maybe they’ll be a Sith with mercy? Like Vader did in the first movie.

Like I’ve said before, through reasoning, a sane man would go back to their original beliefs. A person would be insane, if they don’t hold strong beliefs. In terms of Star Wars logic, (again, like I’ve said before), if a Jedi doesn’t have strong reasoning, they would easily wane to the Dark Side

So, Luke, instead of reading the old Jedi texts, just read Descartes’s work. You wouldn’t have lost Ben if you did… I seriously pity you… 

I guess that’d be all in terms of Star Wars Philosophy.

A Heroic Ending

Fanboys are allowed to leave, this’ll be discussing Philosophy again.

Yes, a Heroic Ending to Rationalism versus Empiricism. About 2000 years after Plato’s death, the galaxy finally sent a hero wise enough ending the millennium long quarrel.

His name was Immanuel Kant. 

Immanuel Kant believes in Transcendental Idealism. An idea that unites both innate knowledge and reasoning with experience and ability to observe. Somehow, Kant found a method to unite two ideas that actually go against each other. If only the Galaxy sent a hero to end the quarrel between the Jedi and Sith, then Star Wars would not have anymore episodes to it and life would be boring.

His ideas in detail would be discussed in a new article I hope I could release this year, but I’ll keep it short and simple currently.

Immanuel Kant argues that to observe something and make a decision or process thought, we would need the ability to reason with the object in the first place. Of course I don’t literally mean Reason with the object, but Immanuel Kant points out that observations cannot be done without innate reason. 

After we use our reasoning and rationalized the object, putting it into our thoughts, then experience comes into play. We would have more experience to interact and remember the things to do or not to do when the same thing, or if a similar thing happens is again.

After 2000 years where philosophers have been arguing about where knowledge comes from, and how our mind interacts with things, this problem is solved, all thanks to Immanuel Kant.

Conclusion

Every quarrel has an ending. Sometimes even the simplest solutions can be unexpected, whether it’s Jedi vs Sith or Rationalists vs Empiricists whatever quarrel it may be, all conflicts will come to an end, however the way a conflict may end is the main question.

For 2000 years philosophers have argued what’s better or right, innate knowledge or experience. In the end both are needed equally, for our mind to process information.

Same goes for the Republic and Empire, there’ll be an ending to the conflict Disney version of Star Wars, we just don’t know how.

Meanwhile we’ll just do our stuff, waiting for Disney to whip up their movie magic and hopefully give us a satisfying ending. 

There goes my article for the day, hope you enjoy it and of course, have a nice day, and May The Force Be With You.

What Is Right? What Is Wrong?

What Is Right? What Is Wrong?

Where have I been? Well… it’s a long story… For the past month I had a series of events, including sickness, binging on Stranger Things  (this isn’t really a productive thing, but still… I did this, there’s no turning back now), and I read a bunch of books, receiving Input before I output some writings in this blog. In addition to that I teach kids programming on Mondays.

If I’m a computer, I need some more information, or knowledge before I could give some writings, I was just done downloading lots of input and learned about some stuff, so I could write here.

Firstly, I apologize for the inactivities in this blog, but I hope you haven’t lost hope in me, after a month of inactivities that is. While I was sick, I read some Philosophy… Perhaps too much, but a man who feasts on knowledge is one whose hunger will never be sated. See? Told you I’ve read philosophy, and anyways, I want to write 3 articles  about philosophy before January, starting with this one. These articles are just random thoughts and some definitions according to some philosophers.

Enjoy reading!

Background

I feel like it’s necessary for me to write the background of this article, since I think without these conversations, I never would’ve made this article.

Anyways, I had a conversation with my friends a while ago, and I brought up Psychological Manipulation, I wonder, will there ever be a situation that could justify manipulation. During the discussion, which I couldn’t really say how’d it end, since the answer isn’t solid, neither it is clear… but it ended with me answering my own question.

A day after the discussion I remembered a bit about a discussion I had with Babah and Bubi, discussing about intent. A good intent could justify a bad act, a bad intent could disprove a good act.

Not so long ago, I read about Buddhism as a philosophy, and according to the book I read, Buddhism is a philosophy, just the way it is a religion, actually, the internet is full of debates between the two, but I’m playing it neutral here.

The connection between Buddhism, Philosophy, and the “right” thing to do is going to be explained below.

Anyways, I connected the dots between the 2, and I got the idea to do this article, explaining a bit about a good action, according to some philosophers, and psychologists.

DISCLAIMER:

Despite the discussion of some religions (in a philosophical way) here, I have my own set of beliefs whether religious beliefs, or philosophical, and even though I’m taking the philosophical roots of some religions, that doesn’t mean I’m practicing the aforementioned religions. The same applies for philosophical beliefs.

Defining A “Right” Action.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”William Shakespeare

Nothing in this world is good or bad, but a person can think and argue whether an act is good or bad. Well, under here I have some definitions of a right (or good) action based on some philosophies.

Philosophically speaking, everything can be right, as long as you can prove the action as a right one through your thinking. Fortunately, not all forms of philosophy makes sense, and since the world is still governed by laws, so no one could just justify killing someone through their thinking, unless the logic and arguments really are solid, and are counted as an exception. (For example, killing someone in terms of self defense)

Regardless, here are the definitions of right, based on some of the most appealing philosophies to me.

Dialectical Method

To define right, you need to have a concept of wrong, and a purpose, Socrates, an Ancient Greek philosopher said this. Just because you’re doing something that’s not wrong, doesn’t mean it’s right, you need to fulfill your purpose and have your action to not fit your concept of wrong, therefore you’re right.

The Dialectical method was invented by Socrates, a philosopher that is dubbed as the “Father of Western Philosophy”, purely because he questions everything. His questioning, writings and teachings are burned in public because he questioned the basic norms of the time, which was the Greek Gods governing the world.

Socrates questioned their existence, and was given a death sentence, or at the kings mercy, exile! But Socrates chose the death sentence since he believes that a life unexamined is one that is not worth living. (That’s his most famous quote, after all, he died because of that belief, more on that later)

I chose Socrates’s philosophy on right and wrong (though Socrates used the terms Good and Evil), because I think it fits my thoughts the most. Socrates said that Good and Evil are absolutes, which you can find by questioning an act (in a nutshell that’s literally what he did as a philosopher, questioning everything). If we question an act using a different basis, or different set of ethics, we can get the answer, though that would mean that Good and Evil aren’t absolutes.

Regardless, Socrates fits the philosophy of this article the most (yes, not just this part of the article, but including other philosophies), due to the fact that I like to question things, and he is still my basis on right or wrong, despite there’s one critical difference in the fact that Good and Evil as something that’s not absolute.

Anyways, Socrates lead himself to believe and utter his quote that killed him, through this thought process…

  • A life worth living is one that is a good life
  • I can only live a life that is good, if I know what’s Good, and what’s not good (or Evil, but evil is a harsh word)
  • Good and Evil are absolutes, one that can be found through a process of questioning and reasoning (commentaries from me: Socrates as a philosopher whose overall career is based on him questioning everything, but I have yet to find his definitions of good and evil, except for… read on below).
  • If Good and Evil is a moral, and questioning and reasoning is a knowledge, then morality and knowledge are bound together
  • A life where you don’t question or reason with anything, is one that’s ignorant.
  • An ignoring life is one that can’t find morality.
  • An unexamined life (or an ignoring life) is one that’s not worth living

If you’ve heard of that thought process before, it’s cause it isn’t mine, it is Socrates’s, and I just rewrote it.

For one to find the definitions of good and evil, you need to question everything, but firstly you need a basis of Good and Evil, or Right and Wrong. Read on below and see the philosophies and thought processing below.

Buddhism

I haven’t read too much about Buddhism itself, but the ultimate goal of Buddhism is to end the “cycle of suffering”, with the wish that we will be reborn onto a state where we are still at peace, without any suffering.

In order to end all suffering, you can’t have any temptations, since according to Gautama, temptations and pleasure is the source of all suffering, to do that, there’s a path for you to traverse.

More on that later, since our current topic is about a right action, and according to Siddharta, to reach “True Peace” you need to follow the Buddhist Code of Ethics, defining what a right action is. The code of ethics is known as “The Eightfold Path”, symbolized by The Dharma Wheel. To be able to reach the final goal of Buddhism teachings, which is to be reborn without any temptations, and stopping the cycle of suffering, you need to have all 8 paths going the right way, otherwise, you will still be reborn with temptations.

Buddhism already has a concept of wrong, and a purpose. According to Buddhism, fulfilling your temptations are wrong. By wrong I don’t mean wrong per se, but, the purpose of Buddhism is to purge temptations. Eventually you can perceive temptations as a wrong thing, and it wouldn’t really go against the general philosophy.

The main purpose of Buddhism is to gain peace (I know I said that it’s purpose is to purge temptations 2 sentences ago, but hear me out), and according to Siddharta Gautama, peace is gained from within, when you feel content with what you have, you won’t seek anything more than what you already own, therefore you wouldn’t be tempted by anything, and peace is achieved.

Feel confused? Philosophers use analogies, and I’ve just made an example for this case.

Currently my phone has 250 songs, all of them I would listen to if one of these songs pop up randomly in the radio. When I play them in my phone, there are 2 possible things I do if I listen to music.

Firstly is just shuffle my entire library, and put my phone in my pocket, ignoring whatever song gets played, because anyways, I’m satisfied with the 250 songs I currently have, whatever song gets played, I’m satisfied with it, because I do like all of them

The other option for me is to keep my phone in my sight, and each time it plays a song that doesn’t fit my ideal though, I would skip it, constantly pressing next until my phone shuffle gets a song I truly am satisfied with.

Putting this analogy into perspective, I have 250 songs which I am satisfied of, and I like all of them, but there are times where I can’t be satisfied with the song that’s playing, forcing me to put unnecessary effort, while feeling a bit annoyed as well, whilst I could just be happy with what song that’s currently being played, I mean, the song is in my phone since I like it.

So, the definition of right according to Buddhism Philosophy is doing an action that doesn’t disturb one’s peace, without fulfilling any one of your temptations. Now we have one step in order to be able to do the right actions, finding out the meaning of right for you.

Machiavellian

This isn’t a religion, it’s a philosophy, so apologies if you haven’t heard of it before.

Niccolo Machiavelli is an Italian Politician who wrote the book, “The Prince”. Haven’t heard of it? Well, The Prince is a book on Machiavellian philosophy, with the term “The end justifies the means”, as its main philosophy. Machiavelli said that a ruler can do whatever it takes to gain glory. Machiavellian philosophy is political philosophy, and he said some things that doesn’t fit common moral judgement, because it’s cruel.

Anything that benefits you, according to Machiavellian philosophy is deemed as a right action. For the end justifies the means, and any means, or actions, would be justified by the reward.

I really mean anything, Machiavelli even said that a ruler needs to utilize both fear and love to “control” their people. Preferably through fear as a priority. Spreading fear is… well it’s a terrible act, there’s not really anything to justify it, but Machiavelli said that a ruler is allowed to ignore moral laws, for personal benefit.

What’s the wrong act according to Machiavelli then? Any act that doesn’t benefit you? I mean, it’s pretty hard for you to find an act that has absolutely no benefits at all. I mean, even helping a kingdom, still grants you benefits, you gain a loyal ally, and despite your people loses a hint of their fear from you, an ally still benefits you more than fear from your people. So, any act that isn’t stupid (stupid in the way of a purposeless act, without any benefits), is right.

In conclusion, a right action according to Machiavelli isn’t a complex thing to find, just find an act, and regardless on how many norms, or what morals have you ignored, are deemed right, as long as one can benefit from it.

My Perspective

Protagoras, one of my favorite philosophers (or memorable) stated that “Man Is The Measure Of All Things”. It is a philosophy I use to this date, and it’s a world where I dream of existing as well. Protagoras stated that everything is measured by one’s perspective on things. As an example he used a case of two people visiting Athens during Spring. One from Sweden, One from Egypt. The Swedish visitor claims it’s warm, The Egyptian visitor claims that it’s cold. Both of them are right, and they shouldn’t fuss to each other about their opinions, everyone has their differences, deal with it.

Why do I dream of a world like this? Because, when one can choose to appreciate the opinion of others without letting any factor blind them (regardless what the factor may be, perhaps a difference in religion, perhaps your own opinion), then no conflict would be created. As long as one side of the war won’t disturb the other side, no war would be created. Tolerance and contentment is what the world needs.

I don’t believe in Good and Evil, I believe in 2 concepts. Majority and Minority, and 2 sides of a conflict. (I haven’t find a canon philosopher on these 2 concepts, so this part would be my thoughts).

Just because the minority is different from the majority, doesn’t mean that the majority is correct, and just because more people believes in something, doesn’t mean that the minority is incorrect. As simple as that.

In fact since the beginning of civilization, social conduct have always been in the same order, and have used the same set of levels in terms of flow and followers.

  • There are always leaders, trendsetters, maybe the king, or the famous celebrity that everyone follows. Usually 20% of the society are the trendsetters
  • There’s the followers, mainstream people who believe in the king, or buys the exact same clothes as a famous celebrity they are fans of. 60% of society think like this, although sometimes they agree with the last category instead.
  • There’s the anti-mainstream flow… People who disagree with the main trend, and just goes against the flow. These people are usually those that becomes the leaders or trendsetters when their time has come, replacing the previous trendsetters. Usually 20% of society are people like this.

You should guess where I belong…

I’m someone who supports differences, and believes that differences are a good thing, without differences, we would stay in the same place.

I don’t believe in good and evil, as I’ve stated, but there will always be 2 sides of a conflict, and I’m not one to take sides, unless if I have to. In fact, my article on Ragnarok is a good example of this. There are 2 sides, neither are right or wrong, just they’re fighting their own definitions of it, and the end is pointless, the end is just… they’re all dead.

So with my philosophical beliefs out of the way, I think I should let you know that, philosophically speaking, I have no belief in what is right or wrong. Does that mean I abandon religious laws and the laws of society? No, quite the contrary actually I follow them, because I’m not one who has a belief in philosophical version of right and wrong.

Why is that? Well, I believe in lots of things, but my main philosophical belief is that, opinions are relative, and nothing can be said as wrong or right without an argument, and I’m someone who relies on arguments to support a claim. This entire article is filled with facts and arguments to support a claim. Everyone can be right, everyone can be wrong, philosophically speaking, there is no right or wrong, unless one thinks of something as right, or as wrong. (Rewording and Remarking the Shakespeare Quote earlier on)

So, well, it’s okay to have no versions of right or wrong, just be sure to not break the law and to follow whatever your religions teachings are, we’re way past times of society following on a single set of beliefs.

Conclusion?

Hang on… if you are asking, “you’re concluding the article after 3 set of Philosophical beliefs?”

I am… all 3 beliefs are extremely different from each other. They’re pretty colorful and should give someone an impression to question your definitions of right or wrong.

There’s Buddhism which cares about every single thought before you act, whether it’s your intent or mindfulness, to the act and who is benefiting from it.

There’s Machiavellian who only cares about the end, and you can do whatever you want as long as you benefit from it.

Then there’s mine who practically doesn’t care about any definitions of right or wrong, just think of something, and there you have it… You’re either right or wrong.

All of these definitions of right or wrong ultimately comes back to your own definition of right and wrong. Whether you are a truly religious person, whether you are someone who believes in opinions and arguments, or whatever your thinking on this subject is, you have your opinions, people have theirs, don’t have a conflict about it.

There… It’s as simple as that…

If you want to live a good life, find your definition of good, the way Socrates questions everything, live your life based on your philosophy, don’t forget to remember you need to be religious, and follow social laws as well. Live your life using your opinion, don’t question the opinion of others, and there you have it… the key of your good life.

The problem with lots of people nowadays is that, they don’t even have a definition of right or wrong, and they’re not looking for it, neither they are trying to have a good life. How can you have a good life, without doing things you deem good, and how can you deem something as a good action if you don’t have a definition on good.

Living a good life starts with finding what the meaning of good is. That’s my conclusion, I hope you enjoy this article, and well, wait for my other articles. Thanks for reading, until next time! (this sounds like a TV show closing, but well… yeah)