Chapter 3-After Aristotle: A Search For The Good Life Flashcards Preview

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What did skepticism and cynicism promote?

Skepticism promoted a suspension of belief in anything, and cynicism promoted a retreat from society


The belief that all beliefs can be proved false; thus to avoid the frustration of being wrong, it is best to believe nothing



How did widespread skepticism come to help the spread of Christianity?

If the philosopher says that nothing is true or false and that there are not reliable standards of judging, then why not except Christian revelation and why not revert to faith in custom as a sources of inspiration?


What did the skeptics use as their guide for living?

Appearances and convention.

By appearances, the skeptics meant simple sensations and feelings. By convention, they meant the traditions, laws, and customs of society


According to the skeptics, any person claiming to have arrived at an indisputable truth



Studied with the Sophist Gorgias and later became a companion of Socrates. At some point completely lost faith in philosophy and renounced his comfortable upper-class life. He believed that society, with its emphasis on material goods, status, and employment, was a distortion of nature and should be avoided. Questioned the value of intellectual pursuits and preached a back to nature philosophy that involved a life free from wants, passions, and the many conventions of society. True happiness depended on self-sufficiency.



The son of a disreputable money changer who had been sent to prison for defacing money. Was a disciple of Antisthenes. Believed that conventional labels such as king, general, honor, wisdom, and happiness were social currencies that needed to be exposed or defaced. Advocated natural impulse as the proper guide for action instead of social convention.

Engaged in what was considered outrageous behavior such as farting loudly in crowded places, urinating, masturbating, or defecating in sight of all



The belief that the best life is one lived close to nature and away from the rules and regulations of society



The belief that the best life is one of long-term pleasure resulting from moderation



The belief that one should live according to nature's plan and accept one's fate with indifference or, in the case of extreme hardship, with courage



For a stoic, what is the basic moral choice people make?

Whether to choose to act in accordance with nature's plan.
When the individuals will was combatable with natural law, the individual was virtuous. When it was not, the individual was immoral


The belief that the good life consists of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain



Philosophy that emphasized the most mystical aspects of Plato's philosophy. Transcendental experiences were considered the most significant type of human experience



Explain how Neoplatonism provided a platform for Christianity?

One form of Neoplatonism combined platonic philosophy with Judaism and, in doing so, created two things lacking in the prevailing religions and philosophies-a concern with individual immortality and human passion.

Plotinus saw the body as the souls prison. Through intense meditation, the soul could be released from the body and dwelt among the eternal and the changeless. Strongly influenced subsequent Christian thought.


What were the dark ages and when did they begin?

Some historians mark the beginning of that portion of the Middle Ages known as the dark ages with the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410; others with the death of Augustine in 430; and others with the abdication of the last Roman emperor in 476.

It is about this time in history when Greek and Roman books were lost or destroyed; little or no progress was made in science, philosophy, or literature; uniform Roman law collapsed and was replaced by a variety of local customs; and villages armed themselves against attack from both their neighbors and invaders from afar

During all this uncertainty the Christian church became increasingly powerful. Europe was dominated by mysticism, superstition, and anti-intellectualism


How did the Crusades lead to the rediscovery of Aristotle's work?

Church dogma was no longer challengeable and it wielded tremendous power during the dark ages. People were either believers or heretics, and heretics were dealt with harshly

The eight crusades against the Muslims showed Christianity's power to organize its followers to stop Islamic influence that had been spreading so rapidly throughout Europe. It was during these holy wars that Aristotle's writings were discovered. When the Romans began to invade this empire, Greek scholars fled into territories later conquered by the Muslims. The scholars carried with them any Greek works of art and philosophy, among them the works of Aristotle. Aristotle's works were preserved in the grade is Lemic universities and mosques and were used to develop is Lemic philosophy, religion, mathematics, and medicine. The Muslim armies moved west, and the Christian armies moved east. The clash between the two resulted in the bloody holy wars, but it also brought the west back into contact with Aristotle's philosophy


Argued that sense perception and rational powers should supplement faith

Saint Anselm


Saint Anselms contention that if we think of something, it must be real. Because we can think of a perfect being (God), that perfect being must exist

Ontological argument for the existence of God


Insisted that God could be known through faith, reason, or the study of his work in nature.

Peter Lombard


The synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy with Christian teachings



One of the first western philosopher-theologians to emphasize the works of Aristotle.

Introduced a method of study that was to characterize the Scholastic period called the dialectic method: the technique used to seek truth by raising questions and exploring several possible answers to those questions. Goal was not to contradict church dogma but to overcome inconsistencies in the statements made by theologians through the years.

Debated William of Champeaux on the matter of realism versus nominalism. William was a devout and informed realist, and using his considerable skills in rhetoric and logic, skillfully exposed to the fallacies in Williams position. Said that we should not confuse words with things.

Peter Abelard


The belief that so-called universals are nothing more than verbal labels or mental habits that are used to denote classes of experience



The belief that abstract universals or essences exist and that empirical events are only manifestations of those universals



Abelard's proposed solution to the realism-nominalism debate. Abelard argued that concepts do not have independent existence (realism), but that, being obstructions, they are more than mere names (nominalism)

He argued that universal essences do not exist but similarities among categories of experiences do. Concept summarize individual experiences but, once formed, concepts in a sense exist apart from the individual experiences upon which they were formed



Epitomized scholasticism. He sought to Christianize the works of Aristotle and to show that both faith and reason led to the truth of gods existence.

Saint Thomas Aquinas


Describe Hergenhahn's summary of the limitations of Scholastic philosophy

Assumed that something is true and then attempted to make nature conform to that truth.

New information was accepted only if it could be shown to be compatible with church dogma; if this was not possible, the information was rejected. The truth had been found, and there was no need to search elsewhere

Offered little of value to either philosophy or psychology because they were much more interested in maintaining the status quo than in revealing any new information.


Denied the contention of the realists that what we experience are but manifestations of abstract principles. Instead, he sided with the nominalists who said that so-called abstract principles, or universals, were nothing more than verbal labels that we used to describe the classes of experiences. Believed that reality is what we experienced directly; there is no need to assume a higher reality beyond our senses

William of Occam


The belief that of several, equally effective alternative explanations, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be accepted

Occam's razor


Why is William of occam's philosophy considered to be a turning point in philosophy?

Occam went beyond Aristotle who believed that sensory experience was the basis of knowledge but that reason needed to be applied to extract knowledge of universals and essences from individual experiences. For Occam, sensory experience provided information about the world-period.

Despite the church's efforts to suppress occam's philosophy, his knees were widely taught and can be viewed as a beginning of modern empirical philosophy.


Describe the cultural conditions prevailant during the 14th and 15th centuries

Philosophy still see religion, as did everyone and everything else. There were two classes of people: believers and nonbelievers. The latter, if they cannot be converted, or physically punished, imprisoned, or killed, and they were considered either stupid or possessed by the devil. There was no in between. Astrology was extremely popular and magic was practiced almost everywhere and by almost everyone.

Was characterized by a single paradigm: the Christian conception of humans and the world


Describe the Greek social and cultural conditions in the time after Aristotle's death that gave rise to skepticism, cynicism, Epicureanism, stoicism, and Christianity

Shortly after Aristotle's death, the Romans invaded Greek territory, making an already unstable situation even more uncertain. In this time of great personal strafe, complex and abstract philosophies were of little comfort. A more worldly philosophy was needed-a philosophy that addressed the problems of everyday living.

Instead of "what is the nature of physical reality? "The questions became how is it best to live? Or what is the nature of the good life?