Motivation Monday: The Light in Darkness

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“Yea though I walk through the Valley of death I shall fear no evil. ” Psalms 23: 4 KJV

Life is filled with pitfalls and places that for a time are ‘The Valley of Death.”  These times of darkness are temporary, be patient and seek the light.

Motivation Monday: Shed Your Past.

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“Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again.” -Gautama Buddha

Todays motivation Monday is don’t let the past hang you up. It’s hard to do and everyday I fight but the secret is not to dwell on the negative. Look forward to the future and as The Buddha has said “shed” your past.

-Damien Knight

“I Think Therefore”

By Damien Knight

Descartes philosophy “I think therefore I am” is one of the most famous phrases. Through a series of meditations he at one point decided that he could trust nothing he sensed. As he watched wax melt, he realized he no longer could use his senses to perceive the wax and that lead him to conclude that knowledge is not obtained by sense. Using a pattern of doubt he observed that senses can deceive but his innate knowledge does not. Using doubt of the senses Descartes declared a rationalist view determined that knowledge came from innate ideas.

Hume was an empiricist believing knowledge came from the senses. He came to this much the same way Descartes came to the knowledge came not from the senses. Like Descartes establishing innate ideas through doubt Hume established a skeptical view of knowledge obtained. Whereas doubting the senses established that knowledge is not sense related. Hume denied that we can have knowledge of the world we take for granted. Like Descartes he first acknowledged that knowledge we initially have of the world is our perceptions which make up impressions and ideas. Our impressions being our senses our ideas being our thoughts, He determined that all ideas came from sense impression and therefore knowledge of the world is senses only. His view lead to a similar doubt of the world perhaps not existing at all just a Descartes innate knowledge view did.

I would be more inclined to agree with Hume that everything is sense perception. I am a Biology major everything we study we touch, taste, see and our research is based on what we experience.

Wednesday Wisdom: Try Try Again

By Damien Knight

Is it worse to fail at something or never attempt it in the first place? You cannot succeed if you do not try. Failing is a part of the process. How can you know you will fail without trying? Ultimately it is worse to never try than it is to have tried in good faith and failed.

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Motivation Mondays

By Damien Knight

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All that we are is the result of what we have thought. -Buddha

I grew up with a rough life but I kept pushing. You can imprison and torture the body but as long as you have your mind you are free. With that I introduce Motivation Mondays. Thoughts are power. What you think you speak and what you speak you act. May your thoughts be good and may you all be blessed.

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A Child Philosopher

By Damien Knight

(This is yet another blog post from a former blog written five years ago)

I talked with my five year old son today concerning topics I learned in Philosophy class. I asked him how he knows a rainbow is real and his answer reminded me of the oncological argument we discussed recently.

He said “because I can think it in my mind and when I see one I know it is a rainbow.”

I asked how he knew his sight wasn’t deceiving him making him believe it was a rainbow when in fact no rainbow existed. He replied he couldn’t be certain but that he would go ask his dad if rainbows were real. His dad, being the kind of person he is, decided to tell Jayson they weren’t real. Jay kind of got mad at him but he concluded that If he believes something is real in his mind that’s all he needed that the senses were not the way he had knowledge of rainbows. Me, I think it is both, reason and the senses.

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Philosophy: The Ontological Argument

Written by: Damien Knight

“Can Anselm’s Ontological Argument be considered a valid proof of the existence of God? If not, why not? Re-state the basic features of the argument and address the question.”

Saint Anslem’s argument was an argument that claimed to rely on reason alone. His claim was because “God” is “That than which none greater can be conceived” then god himself must exist. In other words because we can think of a perfect god and that he is the greatest being we can think of than He must exist. There is a problem with this argument. I can conceive of many things including dragons but this does not bring them into reality no matter if I wish it so. I am a spiritual person who follows the “Kemetic” Faith for me the greatest being is Amun Ra and the Egyptian Parthenon but others were not raised in nor converted in my faith therefore their idea of a greatest perfect god will be what they were raised or converted to. Does this mean I am wrong that Amun Ra whom was worshiped for so long is not the perfect god. Does the fact I conceive of him or Zeus or any god make that god real at all? What if I conceived Aliens created human life and control things on earth instead? Does that now mean that is also real because I thought it? For everything it needs a more clear defining and as a scientist I prefer that done through the scientific method of hypothesis, test and hypothesis again until the answers are there.

Philosophy: Existentialism

By: Damien Knight

Near the beginning of the book we are introduced to the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. Sartre was an existentialist who believed all humans are “condemned to be free” (Philosophy: A text with Readings P.67 pg 2) or in other-words have no choice but to accept that our lives are undetermined. Many philosophies declare that we are placed on the earth with a purpose, therefore leading a deterministic view.

Sartre claimed if there had been a god, he would have given us a determined purpose but without such conventions we had no purpose. We are essentially free to choose no matter what environment we grew up in. We exist and we choose how we live. To pretend we have no freedom otherwise is bad faith in the eyes of Sartre.

Reality is what we view in our conscious experience but is it? Do we make ourselves or are we shaped to some degree? If you are born poor and grow up having nothing and die with nothing is it not in part because the opportunity was not there. According to Sartre the answer is no, that man is free and his choices are made freely that a person chooses to live and die poor.

I cannot fully endorse complete freedom and the example the book petitions is a good example. I found before as a child that I was Christian. At first it was my choice but soon it became a mode of living and I was following a path determined by “god” and my family. Does this not equal a loss of freedom? Or say one takes a project to make oneself free but they slip as I had into just going with the flow are they free anymore?

The other reason I personally cannot agree fully to a complete free view is that I am a military spouse. When a sergeant makes an order to kill it is on the sergeant’s shoulders for the consequences of his men. According to Sartre each individual man is responsible for his actions but the military does not work as separate individuals they work as a unit and the head of the unit is who would manage individuals actions.

We should follow social constraints though ultimately we are free to not follow them. If we were not to follow the constraints, we set ourselves to limit and protect our freedom could get us in trouble. Yet since we do not, as Sartre implies only, affect ourselves we affect our family units causing trouble and affecting their own path.

I believe that to an extent environment affects how our lives are lived. Many decisions made in my life would have been made differently if my environment was different. Essentially we are free to make a few select choices in life but our lives while not predetermined are determined in the moment. In that moment, we have to choose out of the few we have and that choice can have lasting consequences. For example, if a man is about to be sent to war he has two choices: AWOL or go and fight. If he goes and fights he could end up with PTSD and that would not be a free choice he made in those choices but instead is a product of the environment he was in.

So Is Sartre wrong? Are men free at all are we in fact “condemned to destiny” instead? Is the novel idea of complete freedom elusive? No we still have choices after all. We have limited freedom. We carry within us desire both to be free and to please and conform. With our limited freedom we can do exactly what we are be the social creatures we are. Sartre’s true freedom would not allow for many of these social needs.

We could say that even though Sartre’s view is complete freedom mine is freedom by degree. We are given a start at our destiny by the choices our parents make for us. We have the freedom to eat or starve depending on where we are born and where chance rolls. Our education and social status helps shape our decisions. As our minds form we determine for ourselves what we want and how free we can be. While god may not have given use a destiny society constantly tries to.