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“Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd one”. - Voltaire
Simply put, an idea or theory doesn’t enter the realm of science until we can state it in such a way that a test could prove it wrong. This important identifier allowed him to distinguish between science and pseudoscience.
Neo-Platonism is a modern term which defines the resurgence of Platonic thought, mixed with elements of mysticism and Christianity, which flourished in the 3rd century CE (as Rome was going through it's chaotic century), with the work of Plotinus, and ended with the closing of Plato’s Academy by the emperor Justinian in 529 CE.
Plotinus was (probably) a Greek which developed his philosophy in Alexandria. He joined Emperor Gordian III's invasion of Persia, but established to Rome after the the emperor's assassination. He did't write anything and we know him through his reviewers.
It is experience that provides knowledge.
Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas: – How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store with the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety Whence has it all the materials or reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from EXPERIENCE. In that all our knowledge is founded; and from that it ultimately derives itself.
The idea of progress rests on the belief that the growth of knowledge and the advance of the species go together.
In science, the growth of knowledge is cumulative. But human life as a whole is not a cumulative activity; what is gained in one generation may be lost in the next. In science, knowledge is an unmixed god; in ethics and politics it is bad as well as good. Science increases human power — and magnifies the flaws in human nature. It enables us to live longer and have higher living standards than in the past. At the same time it allows us to wreak destruction — on each other and the Earth — on a larger scale than ever before.
This approach offers the possibility of discovering universal commonalities among the many idiosyncracies in religious concepts, beliefs and practices found across history and culture.
But unlike previous efforts, modern researchers largely eschew any attempt to provide a single monocausal explanation for religion, arguing that to do so is as meaningless as searching for a single explanation for art or science.
These categories are just too broad for such an analysis. Instead, a scientific study of religion must begin by ‘fractionating’ the concept of religion, breaking down the category into specific features that can be individually explored and explained, such as the belief in moralistic High Gods or participation in collective rituals.
Religion can work in two fundamentally different ways:It can be a source of self-education, or it can be a source of self-glorification. Self-glorification can make people considerably less moral.
Trying to nurture moral virtues is one thing; assuming that you are already moral and virtuous simply because you identify with a particular religion is another. The latter turns religion into a tool for self-glorification.
A religion’s adherents assume themselves to be moral by default, and so they never bother to question themselves. At the same time, they look down on other people as misguided souls, if not wicked infidels.For such people, religion works not as cure for the soul, but as drug for the ego. It makes them not humble, but arrogant.
When you believe that 2 + 2 = 4, you are justified because you understand the concepts involved. You understand what all the terms in that simple sum mean and that, as a result, the sum of two and two is four. Philosophers call that sort of justification a priori justification, and describe it as justification independent of experience beyond what is required to possess the concepts involved in the proposition believed. A priori justification ultimately founds all of our justified beliefs.
“The Fairness Principle: When contemplating a moral action, imagine that you do not know if you will be the moral doer or receiver, and when in doubt err on the side of the other person.” - Michael Shermer, The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom
If you feel purposeless because you’re not as accomplished in your profession as you dreamed of being, you could theoretically derive meaning from other endeavors, like relationships, volunteer work, travel, or creative activities, to name just a few. It may also be that the things you already do really are meaningful, and that you’re not valuing them sufficiently because you’re focused on a single factor for value. - Iddo Landau
Those who think meaning can be discerned fall into these groups:
- Some are god-centered, that believe only a deity can provide purpose(1).
- Some ascribe to a soul-centered view, thinking something of us must continue beyond our lives, an essence after physical existence, which gives life meaning(2).
- Then there are two camps of “naturalists” seeking meaning in a purely physical world as known by science, who fall into “subjectivist”(3) and “objectivist” categories(4). The two naturalist camps are split over whether the human mind makes meaning or these conditions are absolute and universal.
People are mistaken when they feel their lives are meaningless. The error is based on their failure to recognize what does matter, instead becoming overly focused on what they believe is missing from their existence.
From the consistent appearance of the same set of mythological themes, symbols, images, thoughts, and ideas across cultures, times, and persons, Karl Jung inferred the existence of a ‘collective unconscious’ and its constituent ‘archetypes’. Which are predispositions to patterns of behaviour or modes of functioning, which can give rise to images, such as the Mother, Father, Death, Male and Female, Hero, etc.
Rather than being blank slates written upon by experience, a collective unconscious is present in each of us as a determinate psychic structure, evoked and activated by particular realities of our world. Despite the differences we see between cultures and persons, each of which is uniquely configured, we discover a remarkable imaginative commonality between them. This commonality involves archetypes, which are predispositions to patterns of behaviour or modes of functioning, which can give rise to images, such as the Mother, Father, Death, Male and Female, Hero, etc.
Religion functions at the deep level of the collective unconscious, presenting symbols that evoke and articulate these fundamental human responses, running far deeper than ideology, which may have a tenacious grip upon the conscious mind, yet has much less imaginative purchase at a more fundamental level of our psyche. In the study of religions, we can come to an understanding of the structure of human reality itself. Due to religion’s rootedness in the collective unconscious, we ought not be surprised by the frequently striking resemblances between religions, even those that have developed independently of each other.
After that, he should study logic. I do not mean the logic of the Schools, for this is strictly speaking nothing but a dialectic which teaches ways of expounding to others what one already knows or even of holding forth without judgment about things one does not know.Such logic corrupts good sense rather than increasing it.I mean instead the kind of logic which teaches us to direct our reason with a view to discovering the truths of which we are ignorant.- René Descartes, Principles of Philosophy
"Any kind of important book should immediately be read twice, partly because one grasps the matter in its entirety the second time, and only really understands the beginning when the end is known; and partly because in reading it the second time one’s temper and mood are different, so that one gets another impression; it may be that one sees the matter in another light."- Arthur Schopenhauer
"The chief task in life is simply this:to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own" - Epictetus, Discourses, 2.5.4–5
No activity can be successfully pursued by an individual who is preoccupied … since the mind when distracted absorbs nothing deeply, but rejects everything which is, so to speak, crammed into it. Living is the least important activity of the preoccupied man; yet there is nothing which is harder to learn… Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die. - Seneca
"It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it. For if it has withdrawn, being merely beguiled by pleasures and preoccupations, it starts up again and from its very respite gains force to savage us. But the grief that has been conquered by reason is calmed for ever. I am not therefore going to prescribe for you those remedies which I know many people have used, that you divert or cheer yourself by a long or pleasant journey abroad, or spend a lot of time carefully going through your accounts and administering your estate, or constantly be involved in some new activity. All those things help only for a short time; they do not cure grief but hinder it. But I would rather end it than distract it". - Seneca
"Real wisdom is not the knowledge of everything, but the knowledge of which things in life are necessary, which are less necessary, and which are completely unnecessary to know. Among the most necessary knowledge is the knowledge of how to live well, that is, how to produce the least possible evil and the greatest goodness in one’s life. At present, people study useless sciences, but forget to study this, the most important knowledge" - Jean Jaques Rousseau
It is not the search for certainty. To err is human. All human knowledge is fallible and therefore uncertain.It follows that we must distinguish sharply between truth and certainty. That to err is human means not only that we must constantly struggle against error, but also that, even when we have taken the greatest care, we cannot be completely certain that we have not made a mistake. To combat the mistake, the error, means therefore to search for objective truth and to do everything possible to discover and eliminate falsehoods. This is the task of scientific activity. Hence we can say: our aim as scientists is objective truth; more truth, more interesting truth, more intelligible truth. We cannot reasonably aim at certainty.
Since we can never know anything for sure, it is simply not worth searching for certainty; but it is well worth searching for truth; and we do this chiefly by searching for mistakes, so that we can correct them. - Karl Popper
Because if you imagine failure you start seeing all the ways that have led to that result. And you can start actively working on addressing and mitigating them in advance.