Philosophy aims at creating a better understanding of life, nature, matter, God, and whole universe to us. The paper discusses the three aspects of philosophy such as metaphysics, epistemology, and political philosophy in terms of the theoretical framework laid down by prominent philosophers. The paper includes my own ideas regarding these aspects and also critically evaluates my ideals and the ideals of the philosophers so as to understand the distinction between both forms of ideas.
Metaphysics aims at exploring the reality of everything in this universe and countless theories and sub-categories have developed over the course of history to explain the nature of reality, matter, God, and every other aspect and object of life and creation. But no amount of knowledge seems to complete the knowledge on the nature of reality and reality of the nature. T.Z. Lavine regards the metaphysic’s conquest to explore the nature of reality as limited as “Human understanding is limited—and the things that metaphysics seeks to know, we can never know” (Lavine 67).
Among many theories on metaphysics, materialism, dualism, and idealism are three major theories on exploring the nature of reality. Materialism takes the approach of philosophical monism (taking one definition for everything) in describing the nature of reality. According to materialism, every phenomenon and every reality in nature belong to matter and its physical properties. Even psychological processes, spiritual dogmas, and supernatural explanations stem from the material definition of the relevant situation or phenomenon. To simplify its meanings, let us take the example of our modern society. According to materialist definition of the nature and reality, the basis of the world is matter, for instance, emotions exist as a result of hormones in the human body, economy flourishes due to an urge to earn money, and sex between two individuals has its physiological reason. Thus, materialism views the nature and reality in terms of physical properties and does not adhere to any kind of spiritual or supernatural explanation of the world and the nature. This implies that there is no concept of God, religion, ethics, and values found in the basis of materialism. This ideal of materialism is explained by T.Z. Lavine in Socrates to Sartre: The Philosophical Quest that even the formation of the laws is based on some material purpose, whether it is to punish a criminal or obey traffic rules, “only a fool obeys the law if it is against his own advantage” (Lavine 87).
Idealism is a set of philosophical theories that is directly in contrast to the materialism, as the former regards mind and ideas as the basic foundation in understanding the nature of reality. My theory of metaphysics is somewhat similar to the absolute idealism presented by Hegel in an attempt to reconcile the thought and being, according to him, we cannot understand the reality without taking into consideration the importance of thinking. I believe that mere belief in physicalism cannot unravel the great mysteries and realities of this universe to us as materialistic thought limits the scope of exploring the world. Therefore, in order to explore the universe in a diverse and dynamic manner, we must reconcile the thought and being together. In his book Science of Logic, Hegel explains that seeing things from material perspective has the finite value and thus, the thought will not be completely reliable. In this regard, he regards the consideration of historical evidence mandatory in understanding the reality of being and thought (Hegel 223). In simple words, neither the focus on physicalism is a perfect way nor will the mere focus on idealism help in revealing the universal truths to us.
I believe that the Constructivist epistemology is the most appropriate and basic theory on the knowing of knowing. It believes that the world and the universe is not dependent upon the human mind and its thoughts. The phenomenon and objects keep going on without having to depend upon human mind. However, the knowledge and literature regarding the world and universe is merely the construction of human mind and thought. In constructivism, the assertion is that whatever we know is all but attributable to our senses (Feldman 54). This implies that what we see, hear, smell, touch and taste provides us with that ultimate chance to acquire knowledge. In other words, the knowledge only exists in human mind and its reality is nothing outside human mind. It is very hard to test the truth of this theory as the reality of knowledge is very difficult to be understood. If the constructivist epistemology is rejected, then one must adhere to either the rationalism or empiricism, or in the divine source of knowledge (Katz 123). But once again, rationalism and empiricism are stems of human thought on knowledge. Indeed, constructivism posits that if one has to learn they have to begin from point where their preexisting conceptions about the world are unreliable and non-viable. However, this depends on what other experiences exits to force an individual to rule out their conceptions of the world. Viewing these other available options to which one rules out the prior conceptions then they utilize that prior knowledge to make use of the data that is currently being perceived by the human senses. In this view, other people around us act as part of the experimental world from which we base our meanings of the world (Katz 129). It is, therefore not a process of deciding the truths and non-truths but rather more concerned about making meaning from the experiences through the senses.
In Kantian’s synthesis of rationalism and empiricism, the focus is still on defining or describing the faculties through which we ultimately gain knowledge. Kant regards the importance of combining empiricism and rationalism to understand the process of acquiring knowledge (Marx 231). In a rationalist’s view, knowledge is acquired through reason as well as the mind’s activity to capably attain knowledge from those external sources beyond sense, perception and experiences. For instance, rationalism states that the mind is responsible for all that is known, where senses and perceptions only supported the mind’s activity (Altman 34). For the empiricists, the experiences and evidence of instances and phenomena brings the concluding thoughts in our mind, that is, without evidence and experiencing, the knowledge is not complete (Altman 13). In Kant’s synthesis of rationalism and empiricism, knowledge is fully acquired only if the two, rationality and empiricism have a converging point. He ascribed a complete knowledge to be based on sense and perceptions, thought process, and experiences. Thus, knowledge is a whole sum of three concepts than just being one staunch ideal. This synthesis by Kant provides a basis from which knowledge is acquired while still providing an avenue to determine the truths; an aspect that was neglected by constructivist epistemology.
3. Political philosophy
Political philosophy is a vital part of philosophy as it explains the thoughts and ideas related to the power, politics, and rule in governing the people of a country or society. My ideal form of government is based on the democratic mindset, which argues that all the people are naturally equal and free, and that no one should be held a subject as is in the case of monarchical governments. It is through the will and intention of the people that the governments are formed and exist (Stankiewicz 56). However, the successful implementation of democracy involves taking into consideration the qualitative votes rather than conventional quantitative voting in the world as the latter threatens the selection of the most capable person to govern the people. In this regard, the people of a country should focus more on the leadership skills and abilities, and motto to serve the nation of their chosen candidate as compared to his/her contender (Stankiewicz 57). Moreover, there needs improvement in the methodology of removing an incompetent and incapable leader. My political philosophy is in direct contrast to the political philosophy of Karl Marx, who believed that the political power in the modern world rests with those who accumulate the means of production most and it must be snatched away from the hands of those capitalists for the welfare of a society (Harrington 45). He proposed that the bourgeoisie has always exploited the proletariat on the basis of holding resources of production and that the labor class should stand up against such form of anarchy and bring a social revolution (Marx and Engels 173). The political philosophy of Karl Marx is known as Socialism, which emphasizes on a strictly centralized government that divides the jobs and labor equally among the members of a society, so as to eradicate the concept of social class from a society. He even called for a ‘bloody revolution’ to end the hegemony of bourgeoisie (Marx and Engels 344). The living legacy of Marx is the Chinese political system that is directly inspired from Marx’s political philosophy (Marx et al. 78). However, the implication of his political philosophy cannot be made across the world as the ‘bloody revolution’ he called for can endanger the existence of man on earth in an era of nuclear weapons. It is best to adopt democracy as a political system but with improvements such as describing the amicable means to remove an incompetent president.
The paper reflects the philosophic theories on the reality of nature, the nature of knowledge, and the political system in reference to my beliefs and ideas regarding these three aspects of philosophy, so as to reflect my learning and ideas shaped due to the course. In terms of metaphysics, I believe in absolute idealism of Hegel as opposed to materialistic definition of the world. In terms of epistemology, I support constructivism in the light of Kant’s synthesis of rationalism and empiricism. In understanding political philosophy, I support democracy as opposed to the Marxism, which is an extreme.
Lavine, Thelma Z. From Socrates to Sartre: the philosophic quest. Bantam, 2011.
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Science Of Logic. London: Allen & Unwin, 1929. Print.
Feldman, Richard. Epistemology. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2003. Print.
Marx, Karianne J. The Usefulness Of The Kantian Philosophy. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011. Print.
Katz, Jerrold J. Realistic Rationalism. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998. Print.
Altman, Matthew C. A Companion To Kant's Critique Of Pure Reason. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2008. Print.
Stankiewicz, W. J. Approaches To Democracy. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981. Print.
Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. Basic Writings On Politics And Philosophy. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959. Print.
Harrington, Michael. Socialism. New York: Saturday Review Press, 1972. Print.
Marx, Karl et al. Capital. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1955. Print.