Engels – Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Unless you have read Marx and/or Engels before, forget everything you think you know about Marxism. While there are many valid criticisms to make of Marx, they are probably not the criticisms with which you are familiar. Marx was an important influence in the history of the USSR and Mao’s China, but Marx and “actually… Continue reading Engels – Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Hegel – Democracy as its Opposite (the French Revolution)

What do we mean when we say “freedom?” Do we mean freedom to live in peace and quiet? Freedom to live under a government with checks and balances? Or do we mean free to participate in the decision-making processes of our government? Hobbes and Hume were concerned with the Utility of government. As long as… Continue reading Hegel – Democracy as its Opposite (the French Revolution)

Robespierre & the French Revolution

WARNING: I am not a historian, and barely know what I’m talking about. I’d love for someone to do some fact checking for me.  Background In the 1780s France was well out of the Middle Ages, but there were many, many aspects of society that retained the “irrational” history of feudalism. For example, laws legitimized… Continue reading Robespierre & the French Revolution

Schelling – Predestination and Freedom (in the Matrix)

Schelling received lots of attention for his exceptional talents as a philosopher, publishing his first essay at 20 years old. At one point he was roommates with Hegel. You could say Schelling was the hare, and Hegel was the tortoise. Schelling’s ideas evolved radically throughout his career, and his popularity wavered throughout his life. Although… Continue reading Schelling – Predestination and Freedom (in the Matrix)

Hofstadter – The Material Brain and Meaning in the Mind

Individual ants behave as individuals, oblivious to their role In the ant colony. An ant colony must have certain attributes in order for the colony to thrive. In the analogy of Aunt Hillary and Anteater individual ants are sacrificed for the health of the colony. Hofstadter frames the interaction between Aunt Hillary and Anteater as… Continue reading Hofstadter – The Material Brain and Meaning in the Mind

Kant – Cause and Effect

Pre-Socratic (Greek philosophy before and contemporaneous to Socrates), Eastern (from the little I know about it), and much of Western philosophy are rooted in arbitrary metaphysical claims, according to Kant. The Pre-Socratics were particularly concerned with determining whether the world was one shifting reality (the One), two dueling forces, combinations of a few elements, or… Continue reading Kant – Cause and Effect

Kant – What Can We Know and the Self

On some level, all important philosophy changes the assumptions behind a problem wrestled for decades or centuries by philosophers. In the case of Kant, he changed the assumptions behind a surprising number of philosophical problems. What can we know?  Can we know the objective truth?  Can we ground the truths of math/geometry?  Can we ground… Continue reading Kant – What Can We Know and the Self