Why ‘I’ matters? A theory of solipsism

‘Only I exists’, ‘I am at the center of this world’, ‘My consciousness’, ‘self-centered’, ‘selfish’, ‘I am alone’. All this describes the word solipsism.

Solipsism is the idea which revolves around the word ‘I’.  Many philosophers have tried to describe the idea of solipsism and connect it with subjective experiences. I guess solipsism is a part of everyone’s life. Therefore, defining it in a way that would give meaning to life and preserve our self would sound great.

The knowledge of self or introspection is believed to be the best technique to understand the self and its capacities. It can help to manage ourself to fit in this world. It should be noted that the knowledge of the external world could be known by self-consciousness.

Now, it’s important to know the terms which explain consciousness. They are- inner, private, subjective, mental, sensations, moods, memories, thoughts, and emotions. By understanding all these terms in-depth, we can understand consciousness. It should be clear that this terms could explain only self-consciousness and not the consciousness of others.

Since we are trying to explore the term solipsism, so it’s the duty to understand and describe self-consciousness well. To know others consciousness is a totally different process and in many ways depends on the intentions as well as actions of a person.

Solipsism has made advancement in individual thinking. An individual being always tries to know thyself best so that it could accommodate in the harsh circumstances and live life with dignity and respect.

I think self-value has become important because of the idea of solipsism. If a person hasn’t considered himself important in life, then in no way he had demanded values and respects from the society. We haven’t seen animals fighting for equality and importance. It is because they don’t understand the self. But, human beings know and understand self very well. And so he thinks of the self-rights and others rights. In this way, he also tries to establish an adequate place in this society.

Many have criticized solipsisms on the basis that it is a false theory with no literal resemblances to our life. Many have compared solipsism to ‘egoisms’, egotisms’. Solipsisms is considered as a negative theory in philosophy. It is not a very useful theory by many philosophers and critics. But, there are some popular philosophers who have worked in the theory of solipsisms and has tried to redefine it. They are- Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, George Berkeley, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Other similar words to solipsisms are ‘personalism’, Transcendental ego(Husserl), ego, super-ego(Freud), Dasein, Existenz(Heidegger), Cogizo, Personality, I, Me.

There are many kinds of solipsisms- Epistemological solipsisms, Ontological solipsisms, metaphysical solipsisms, and psychological solipsisms. The main idea of this essay is to define solipsisms in a way that would give meaning to our life. But, describing the kinds would make the solipsism theory more sound and effective.

Hence, I would be trying to make this kind clear in a few lines to give a summary of the main idea of the theory of solipsisms. Before we understand the kinds, it should be noted that the idea of solipsisms is running for a long period of time. The usage of these terms was recorded in 1700’s literature. And in the modern era too, this term could be found in every subjective and metaphysical text.

Kinds of Solipsisms-

1. Epistemological solipsisms-  Certainty is in one’s own consciousness.

2. Ontological solipsisms-  Only individual consciousness exists.

3. Psychological solipsisms- self-disturbances leading to the solipsistic lifeworld.

I have been reading an article where it was written that the schizophrenic patients(a mental disorder with detached reality) mostly live in their own solipsistic world. Schizophrenia symptoms include distorted thoughts, hallucinations, paranoia and feelings of fright. So, it could be concluded that the excess of anything could be dangerous. And, so, the excess of solipsisms in one’s life is not a good idea.

Therefore,it must be concluded that one should be able to have a proper balance between the internal life and external life. When the objective world is given proper sense and well-analyzed through the medium of a subjective world, then our self is preserved.

I would like to conclude my article with some poetic lines of ‘Soliloquy of the solipsist’ by Sylvia Path.

“I
Make houses shrink
And trees diminish
By going far; my look’s leash
Dangles the puppet-people
Who, unaware how they dwindle,
Laugh, kiss, get drunk,
Nor guess that if I choose to blink
They die.”

The last line of the stanzas makes clear that if ‘I’ don’t exists nothing exists. There is a complete importance and justification to the person ‘I’ and that’s make it a perfect example for the topic of solipsism.

The skeptical approach in Free-thinking

Before we understand skepticism, we must know dogmatism which is just the opposite of the skeptical theories. Dogmatism is the belief which claims that no theories could be doubted or disputed. Any judgements is considered as a final, when it is announced by a trustworthy person.

Drawbacks of dogmatic views

The dogmatic views is giving a lots of troubles to the free thinking individuals. The opinions of the free thinkers are often neglected on the basis that it is wrong and novice.  The dogmatic views claims that they are cent percent true in their opinions and their opinions could not be rejected in any ways. This kind of beliefs is dangerous for the society. The society is getting moulded in the same dogmatic form and are not allowed to grow in a different & unique way.

Society problems identified

The  problems faced by the society are- inter-caste marriages, same-sex marriages, live-in relations, age-difference marriages, divorcee marriages, legal abortions, etc.

The dogmatic views strictly rejects the rightness of the above mentioned problems. According to them, marriages are pure union between the two opposite partners. The purity of union depends on some conditions. These conditions like partners castes, communites, gunas,gender, age, mental conditions, etc. In this, some conditions could be accepted, but some conditions seems totally insane.

We need to change our dogmatic views to deal with the on-going problems of the society and to accept various latest trends. Suppose for a second, if dogmatic views are vanished completely then various problems would automatically be solved- the inter castes, same sex marriages and legal abortions would be allowed and accepted easily. Just because of the dogmatic views, this trending thing is facing many barriers to become transparent in society.

Philosophical approach- skepticism

Getting solutions to any problems is the first job of philosophy. If phiosophical views are problematic to society, then it also has got solutions for the same problem. Yes, solution is right here in skeptical thinkings.

Let’s understand the meaning of skepticism. Skepticism is the belief that there is no certainty in human knowledge. Everything can be doubted and could be proved wrong.  Skepticism could also be called as the intellectual therapies for those affected by the dogmatic beliefs. Skeptics are the radical doubters. They claim that they don’t know anything in this world. Everything is unknown to them. Through the medium of right sense and thinking, they could explore the things out.

According to skepticism, we should have a good reason to accept knowledge rather take it for granted.

To look further, Descartes method of inquiry has a proper system to seek truth in science. “It is because others believe it as true, and so do I” makes no sense. The right method is to explore the reasons for the truthness of an opinion. Once we have verified a problem by the use of our own senses, then we could easily accept a theory.

Descartes Method of inquiry

“Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum” – “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”

The method of obtaining knowledge through a systematic doubts as well as right testing would be the appropriate way to accept the latest trending social problems.

Suppose the dogmatic people stop accepting the old beliefs, and start self -judgements about the latest social problems. In such conditions, many problems would be sorted out and the society would start implementing new changes. The developement of the society is directly proportional to the continuous changes and progress. As per the demands of its people, the society should adapt the changes.

To conclude, our beliefs should not depend on the dogmatic stance rather it should be well verified by our own thinking. Whatever things sounds stable in a large number, should be given a legal validations and should be accepted by the people.

Some quotations which would strengthen our Skeptic stance

David Hume, British Empiricists, “A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.”

Marcello Truzzi “Extraordinary claims requires extraordinary proofs.”

Hume- Reasons & Passions

Suppose you have to choose the best between the two concepts of reason & passion. What will you do? People trust the reason to make a decision. And passion always drives you closer to your goals. There is confusion in choosing the best between the two. To understand the concepts in a better way, we have to understand the theory of Hume.

Who is Hume?

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, essayist, novelist, historian, and an economist who is best known today for his worldwide popular theory in scepticism, empiricism and naturalism.

Hume – “Reason is the slave of passion”

Hume believes that reason has no role to play in making moral judgements. Judgements are taken in a spur of moments. A sudden impetus which guarantees us that the things would go fine.

According to Hume moral theory, “Reason is nothing but a wonderful and unintelligible instinct in our souls”.

Hume ‘Perception theory’ or ‘Empiricism’

Hume was an ardent believer of perception. He says nothing could be known without perception. We believe what we see and; we trust our senses the most. Our perception is the prime defining theory of our actions. We learn from experiences and that converts later in our reasons to choose or not to choose particular actions.

Therefore, reasons are not the first theory, but it’s our instincts. We depend on our instincts to understand the situations and pass on judgments.

Hume pointed out the two most important facts on reasons:

  1. Morality cannot be achieved from reasons.
  2. The reason is not necessary, only sufficient.

Hume’s conclusion on Moral Judgement 

  1. We do occasionally arrive at a moral judgement by reasoning.
  2. A moral judgement those arrived can influence actions.

According to Hume, moral Judgments, arriving by reasoning may not always be true. So, we need something else and i.e., Moral sentiments. 

A computer is good in reasoning but lack of passions devoid it of judging any moral and immoral actions.

Mackie’s Rationalizing of Actions.

We make decisions based on our rationale. We do the thing which we believe to be right or wrong. We know the past events, and using the best of our judgments, we predict future events. Our rationale is our beliefs. It is our past experiences which prepares our beliefs and guides us to take a future course of actions.

In the past, if something wrong has resulted from a particular course of actions, then we would most likely to avoid such actions in future life.

Hume Moral Sentiments- ‘defined’

According to Hume, passion is a prime mover to act. Reasons can only differentiate between gratitude and ingratitude. It is our own moral sentiments which involve us in a particular action. Moral sentiments are our feelings, attitudes, beliefs, dispositions taken towards people or objects. Moral sentiments should always be the first theory in the judgments we pass.

Criticism of moral sentiments in Judgements- ‘Landing Back to Reasons’

Suppose you see a man brutally punishing a dog. You will feel emotional for the mute creature and would curse the man for showing no sentiments towards the creature. You will never think of the man’s point of view. You won’t try to analyze the reasons for the actions of a man. You will only see wrong in his actions. Now, when I say the same dog has bitten the neighbour’s child who died recently. Do you feel the same emotions for the dog now as you felt before? No! Now you will feel the righteousness in the action of a man.

Therefore, our moral sentiments, though best reflect our reasons often neglect the absolute real reason. So, to make the best of judgements we have to calculate all the reasons related to circumstances and then declare a judgment.

Solving the conflicts

John Haugeland points out that a computer doesn’t give a damn. It calculates, manages tasks, runs operations and performs various actions without a thought. It never fears to get judged. It always performs an action in the best of the ways it knows.

Humans should perform actions without the fear of getting judged. In Hume’s language, Humans should perform actions in the best of their moral sentiments.

Impact of moral Judgements

According to Clarke, moral judgments don’t change the course of actions. We know the moral principles of no lying, no cheating, no killing. But, sometimes we ought to do the actions which are morally wrong.

Doctors need to lie to their patients about his health.

A lawyer could cheat his clients for higher goals- like saving the nation from a terrorist.

A girl could kill a rapist in self-defence.

By these examples, it is clear that moral judgments don’t influence a course of actions. It is our own mentality, our own reasons, and our own moral sentiments to perform an action. It is our own interest, passion, desires, willingness, attitudes in a course of actions.

‘Tis one thing to know virtue, and another to confirm the will to it (T 465)’- Hume

Reviewing “Reason is the slave of passion”

By this, Hume doesn’t mean that reason plays no role in a course of actions. He believes the reason has a second role. The prime mover is a passion which generates an action. It is our passion, motivations, thinking, attitude, beliefs, choices, willingness and moral sentiments which helps in the performance of a particular kind of actions.

It is clear that in performing an action, we have to make use of our moral sentiments or passions. But, in the passing of judgments, we have to take take care to use both the reasons and our own moral sentiments. Therefore, it could be concluded that Moral sentiments are good only in actions and not in judgments.

Reference: AT Nuyen University of Queensland, Wikipedia, Britannica

‘Vegetarianism’-Is it a big deal?

It’s a way too difficult to define animal rights as compared to human rights. The reason is we can feel the different treatments or procedures, if any, inflicted on humans. We could realize any pains of humans as our own. We fear that we may pass through the same pain one day. Our fear gives us a voice to shout in the union for human rights before it turns late.

Are we suffering alone?

In safeguarding us from unwanted sufferings, we don’t realize somewhere on this planet other beings are also suffering. The moral philosophers define animal rights in a way that makes people understand that all beings are equal and deserve equal treatments. If humans have their rights, then why not animals? It is believed that every living being has consciousness but the degree may differ. This idea is enough to drive the law-makers to bring some decent rights for the innocent mute beings. The rights don’t mean political rights, but it means the just right concerning the justice of every being. The justice which would decrease the sufferings and pains of other creatures.

‘Equality’ for all

When all beings are treated equally then the concepts of utilitarianism turns more sound. The idea of utilitarianism which guarantees larger good for the larger number seems valuable.

But, Is this concepts only for humans? The concept of utilitarianism, in my opinion, is losing some values. The animal rights are being exploited in our choice of being a non-vegetarian. Let’s understand more.

We have our rights to stay at the best of our health. To follow this right, we choose food consisting of animal proteins. We feel it appeasing to our taste buds and dietary needs. We have hundreds of positive reasons for the choice of being a non-vegetarians. But, do we ever realize that we are ignoring the pains and sufferings of the other creatures in our self-choices? How could it be a good thing when our decisions are impacting the living & surviving needs of other beings of this planet? Do we consider the animal as only food? Don’t we think that they have got emotions too?

Jainism totally refrains from providing harms or any troubles to other creatures. They very well understand the need to protect other beings. Though we can’t be completely faithful to Jainism concepts, we could choose our lifestyles in a way that it may not have a negative impact on others.

The solution to the choice conflicts

Now, what kind of choices can we make to stop the pains and sufferings of other beings? Which initiatives would reduce the pains of other creatures? Once we understand that animals are parts of the same Earth where we live. Then, we may never feel that we are exploiting them for the gratification of our own needs. The day when we start accepting them as part of this same planet, then we would take every measure to not hurt them. We would also leave spaces for them so that they may live their life peacefully.

When I see the meats being sold at the markets, I also see the poor animals kept in captivity. Inside the Small dirty cages with minimum food for survival, these animals suffer all the tortures which humans can never imagine for their own self.

When we talk of healthy choices, is it must to be a non-vegetarian? Do vegetarians aren’t fit and capable of meeting survival goals of life? Consider the two sections of society-‘ vegetarianism’ and ‘Non-vegetarianism’- who is healthy, happy and successful? Many of us would say, yes, they both are capable of growing and achieving success in their life. The only difference is the food choices they are following. I have only one question to the non-veggies, couldn’t we alter our food choices a bit to reduce the sufferings of other animals?

Peter Singer, Philosopher & Animal rights activists

Australian moral philosopher Peter Albert David Singer puts forward his theory on the needs for animal rights. He wrote a very influencing book ‘animal liberation’ in 1975. In his book, he discusses the theory of ‘speciesism’ where we give privilege to humans over all other beings. We think only for human welfare and often ignores the value of other beings on this Earth. We, sometimes forget that animals such as Chimpanzee, dogs, cats, cows show some emotions which are as same as the emotions seen in humans. When there is similarity, then why do we consider all this being completely different from humans? Why don’t we leave for them the living spaces they need? Just because they can’t speak and demand, we are leaving all these creatures helplessly suffer the pains.

Peter Singer is totally against the meat produced in a factory, he believes the animals receive more torture in the factory which is generally for the production of meat. The factory farm often treat animals unethically. Believe it or not, the brutally produced meats could only satisfy our hunger but could never satisfy our soul.

Shelley Kagan View on vegetarianism.

Shelley Kagan is a popular philosopher and animal rights activists. His theory is simple where he tries to reflect the different needs in our life.

Looking back at the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we understand that we have physiological needs, survival needs, safety needs, needs for love, care & belongingness, and self -actualization. We can confirm that most of these needs arise for animals too. But, who really cares for it? We, humans, generally care for our own needs. Don’t we?

Now coming back to Shelley Kagan theory. He says that we should involve in something when there is a need. We should be having a non-vegetarian meal when our body really demands from us. Also, it is a proven fact of a stronger link between adopting vegetarianism and living a longer life. Wherever there are no such needs of eating meat, we could adopt other healthier choices.

Noting down Peter singer and Shelley Kagan views, we have reached to the final conclusion which could protect animal rights. They are:

1. Look at the needs of including meat or non-veggies products in your diet. When we have another healthy veg- options, then mostly we should include that.

2. Other beings are also conscious, we should avoid giving any pains and sufferings to them.

Turning vegetarianism is never a compulsion but a choice. It’s we who should play the role of a rational being well. It’s we who should understand the emotions and needs of other beings. It’s only we who would take initiatives to protect and help other living beings to grow and nourish in this beautiful Earth. We are humans, and we should understand the responsibility of supporting the rights and needs of other beings.

‘To be’ is ‘to exist’

Being signifies existence. The literal meaning of Being is ‘to be’ or ‘to exist’. What is this existence for? Why DO WE EXIST? To clear this concept in a better way, it is very important to define the nature of being or its concerning reality.

Problem of Being

There are so many questions arising on the nature of being or reality which many ancient philosophers have tried to answer from time to time. The basic questions are- ‘what is being?’ ‘What we should consider being or reality as?’ ‘What if reality doesn’t persist?’ ‘How can we define reality as?’ ‘What is the complete nature of reality?’ ‘What is considered as permanent and temporary?’ ‘How the concept of ‘being’ makes relevance in our life?’

The philosophers of the ancient period have tried to find out the answers to the above-mentioned questions using various ways. The deep intellectual thoughts and the reference to related texts may help to identify the real nature of beings. The sources vary from scripture knowledge to intuition. The natural things around us are the primary sources which anyone would believe in. This is because we always believe what we perceive. Right!

Cause of Existence

The philosophers of the early period found that complete existence is not dependent on the natural elements like air, water, fire, earth and ether. They felt that the elements can be considered as the cause of each other and other natural things found in this Earth. But the cause of ‘being’ cannot be related to the elements or atoms for sure. The cause of being or consciousness or existence could only be itself. This is the ontological view “on being” held by various philosophers.

Real & Temporary

We see philosophers comparing their lives from what they see around. The leaf appears fresh when anew but dries when it falls from the tree. The same is life -we die when our body weakens and is not able to support life. Some philosophers would take this theory to a great height. After understanding that death is real and nothing could stop it from happening, they would find out the possibilities after death? Do we die completely or still there is something left after death? These types of questions make philosophers query into the theory of reality. They say that something which has ended, is temporary or which undergoes complete extinction; cannot be said to be real. ‘When we are born, we would die’; ‘whatever is created has its expiration period’; and conclusively ‘the things which could be destructed is unreal or temporary’.This is a common saying by philosophers.

Knowing Reality

Now again to the same question ‘what is real then?’ Because thing we see around us changes or destroys with time, so they could not be considered as real.

This makes the conclusion that “real” is something which is indestructible, which is not temporary and which is forever. It has no origin, no source and no end. Real is something which is beyond time and space.

Ancient Greek Philosophers and ‘the concept of being’

Many natural philosophers of ancient Greece have tried to define the first principle or the ultimate reality or the ultimate cause of this universe. They tried to find out the essence of this objective world. Firstly, they tried to understand the objectivity of the world, then they moved to subjectivism. The interest was shifted from external nature to the internal nature of logic, ethics, psychology, politics, arts, ethics and conducts.

The first great problem of external nature was studied in the pre-sophistic period. The philosophers of naturalistic period tried to find out the nature of the substance from which this world is made. It was like ‘What is the basic substance responsible for the origin of ‘being’?’ The second was the problem of change: ‘How could change be defined?’

Nature Philosophers

Earlier nature philosophers of the Milesian school are- Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes. They have given the reason for the first principle to the natural substances. Thales defines the first principle as water whereas Anaximander believes that ultimate reality in boundless –which is not a thing. Anaximenes says that the first principle is air.

Pythagoreans see the ultimate reality in numbers. Numbers are the basic things because everything around us could be explained in terms of numbers. They fix their attention not so much upon a concrete, sense-perceived substance, but on the relation existing between two things, the order, uniformity, or harmony in the world. For more information on Pythagorean Theory of being, you could refer here.

The problem concerning the nature of substances or being (reality) was given some sort of definitions, the next problem was the theory of change.

Theory of change

The problem of change emerges in a radical form in Heraclitus and in the Eleatic school, of which Parmenides is the chief exponent. The question for them is not so much how the change takes place but whether there is any change at all. For Heraclitus, change is ultimate and permanence a mere sensory appearance. For Parmenides, the permanent is fundamental and change a mere appearance.

Later, Empedocles and Anaxagoras gave attention to both the problem of substance or reality as well as change. Empedocles and Anaxagoras agree with the Eleatics that absolute change is impossible, that nothing can become anything else, in the literal sense of the term. ‘Nothing can come from nothing; nothing can go into nothing, and nothing can change into anything absolutely different.’ Nevertheless- and in this way, they agree with the Heraclitus – things do change. The change, however, is only relative and not absolute.

Heraclitus nature of Being

The fundamental thought in the teaching of Heraclitus is that the universe is in a state of ceaseless change.

“Everything is in a state of flux”

‘One cannot step into the same river twice’.

For Heraclitus, the universal fire is the first principle, the most mobile substance he knows, something that never seems to come to rest, the ever-living fire- sometimes called by him vapour or breath – which is regarded by him as the vital principle in the organisms and the essence of the soul.

The primal unity itself is in constant motion and change, its creation is destruction; its destruction is creation. Everything is changed into its opposite and everything, therefore, is a union of opposite qualities.

Parmenides nature of Being.

According to Parmenides, there can be only one eternal, underived, unchangeable being. Since it is all alike and there cannot be anything in it but being, it must be continuous and indivisible. There cannot be any break in it, it is continuous. It must be immovable, for there is no non-being(empty space) for it to move in. Moreover, being and thought are one, for what cannot be thought cannot be, i.e, non-being cannot be thought.

Being or reality is a homogenous, continuous, indeterminate mass- which the aesthetic imagination of the philosopher’s pictures as a sphere- endowed with reason, eternal, and immutable.

According to Parmenides, the world is unity, unchangeable, and immovable. Sense perception, on the other hand, reveals to us a world of plurality and change; this is the world of appearance and opinion.

Atomists nature of Being.

The atoms and the empty space in which they move are the sole realities for the atomists: everything is void. Being or the full, and non-being, or the void, are equally real, that is real is not one continuous, undivided, immovable being, as the Eleatics held, but the plurality, an infinite number of beings separated from one another by empty space. All bodies are combinations of atoms and spaces; origin means union: destruction; separation.

Summary

Though there are some unanswered questions on the origin of being. But, the nature of being is somewhat made clear by the theory of philosophers of the various time. By knowing the nature of being, we can conclude the purpose of our existenc, space and many other forces responsible for the universe operation or function.

It is difficult to define the actual nature of our being. But, throughout humanity, people are trying to find out the complete meaning of the existence of being.

Hope you liked all the important definitions of ‘Being’ in one frame. I would love to hear your views on these concepts.

Thanks for sparing time and reading this blog. 🙂

Gilbert Ryle ‘Concept of Mind’ In Brief

Gilbert Ryle has produced one interesting theory in his book “Concept of Mind” (1949). It has cleared the important misconceptions that the philosophers believe to have followed. No doubt, his work has brought a tremendous change in the style of thinking that people adopt.

Cartesian Dualism

It is the most popular theory given by Descartes. It popularizes the view that ‘mind’ and ‘body’ are two different substances. Therefore, the body is made up of material elements and the mind is made up of mental elements. While material elements are easily provable through various methods of experimentation and observation. The mental elements are most likely to fail in providing accurate proof.

Descartes ‘cogito ergo sum’ means I think therefore I am’. This means the mental elements influences the physical elements and physical elements influence the mental elements. The problem of mind-body was resolved somehow by providing clear definitions of both this as existing as an independent entity.

Rejection of Cartesian Dualism

Gilbert Ryle has rejected the most popular concepts of Cartesian Dualism. He strongly affirms that such concepts are vague. It is an error in linguistic analysis. The body could be attributed to the substances made of materialistic particles. But, the mind has no proof to arise from the mental substances.

In his book, ‘concepts of mind’, Gilbert Ryle has given important terminology to define the Descartes concepts of mind-body dualism. He called the concepts of ‘mind’ in the ‘body’ as ‘ghost in the machine’. The one who doesn’t understand the mechanical concepts of the working of machines would most likely to consider the machine as run by some forms of ghosts sitting inside it.

The use of ‘mind’ in the complete work process of the body is comparable to the concepts of ‘ghost in the machine’. Without any proof, the mind is given the credit for the entire work of the machine. It is the major error we are committing in defining the structures and functions of the body.

No doubt, the concepts of Gilbert Ryle has brought major changes in the cognitive theory of Psychology. It would not be wrong to credit the long gone philosopher with the major development in the area of cognitive sciences.

Category Mistake

The category mistake is defined as the misplacing of one category into another one. Gilbert Ryle has used this term to highlight the offences people are making to consider the mind and mental elements as in the same category. According to him, the mind isn’t made of immaterial substances. It’s just our wrong way of taking the things.

To clarify more, we do consider the terms ‘university’ and ‘college’ as same. The ‘college’ is the physical form of a building where people go and study whereas ‘university’ is a mental form in which multiple set of colleges are grouped to be. While ‘college’ has got a physical presence, the term ‘university has got no physical presence. We can’t show university to the one asking about it. But, we can definitely show the ‘college’ in physical form.

The ‘time crawled’ is the wrong metaphorical use occasionally used in a sentences form. Time is a non-physical entity and crawling is used for physical beings. The mixing of two terms could bring irregularities to the actual senses of the sentences.

Gilbert Ryle explains the concepts further by telling the condition of a blind child whom we have to tell about the different colours. We can definitely tell him about the colour ‘blue’ and the thing which has got blue colours. But, we could never make him experience the truth and depths of the colour in the real sense. He may regain his blind-sight, but he may not be able to apply completely what he has learned about the colour blue. He would definitely commit the category mistakes.

To Summarize, the category mistake is the ‘major flaw’ in the use of the terms which we are considering to be true since time being. This category mistake needs to be rectified so that we could understand the concepts of Mind in a more fairer and sensible way.

John Dewey “Common faith”

American philosopher John Dewey (1897), in “My Pedagogic Creed,” concludes with these words:

“I believe, finally, that the teacher is engaged, not simply in the training
of individuals, but in the formation of the proper social life.
I believe that every teacher should realize the dignity of his calling; that
he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of proper social order
and the securing of the right social growth.
I believe that in this way the teacher always is the prophet of the true
God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of God. (p. 95)”

The teacher is a prophet, a social servant; apart from teaching and following her duties, she must be an expert in managing and ordering the social life of an individual. According to Dewey, a man is never known by the recognition he has collected in his lives but by the contributions, he has made to society. One must be engaged in contributing to what one knows throughout one’s lifetime. Social struggle is a process of human betterment.

John Dewey ‘spirituality’

The major role of Dewey was to seal the gap between ‘Traditional organized religions’ and ‘Major advances in science’. He produced the concepts of spirituality which would help to maintain the balance between religions and science. The main idea of Dewey was to guide people the true concepts of ‘religions’ (he meant ‘spiritualism’) which is all in us but, we are diverted by the different norms of religious sects and cultures.

Dewey Rejection of ‘supernatural’

John Dewey rejected the ‘concept of the supernatural’ in religions. He affirms that there is nothing such as supernatural. Whatever is there could be observed and confirmed. Belief in the supernatural is the ancient human inabilities to understand the natural phenomenon. Whatever couldn’t be understood has given the name of ‘act of supernatural entity’. In today generations also, whatever phenomenon science is incapable to define is termed the ‘causation of God’.

In his contributions to the symposium “Religion and the Intellectuals” in The Partisan Review (Dewey, 1950), he projected his disbelief in the supernatural substances. The only solution to embrace spiritual qualities is to reject the concepts of ‘supernatural entities’.

Dewey’s meaning of religious

The true meaning of religions according to the point of view of Dewey is “sense of the whole”. The good relationships among individual and community are considered as the true meaning of religions. Organized religions institutions have missed the true meaning of religions and always bragged about the doctrines, theory, religious faith.

In ‘common faith’ (Dewey 1934) Dewey mentioned clearly about the wholeness of religions in maintaining relationships with others in the best possible ways. In this book he has written the four major concepts:

  1. The knowledge is unified-  Forms of knowledge shouldn’t be separated from one another. The religions and science should be considered as the same. One could only ‘experience’ the wholeness and oneness of all the knowledge. The individual should search for religions in every set of experiences.
  2. Knowledge is democratic– knowledge is public and everyone can reach out for it. It doesn’t matter what method you are implying in search of truth, what matters is the inquiry of truth.
  3. The pursuit of moral ideals requires moral faith– faith is the commitment to moral principles and ideals of the society that always works for the improvements of the society. The faith in religions is, therefore, important because it helps in self-improvements.

While you still feel a sort of ‘atheist’ in accepting religions, you could anytime refine your beliefs on the actual definitions of “being religious”.

Webster(2009) summarized religions as “religion is not something that people should have but should become like the way of living.”

4. The authority of moral ideals is explored by inquiry– Every moral ideal should be for the benefit of society. If an idea is stated in doctrine, but the society doesn’t feel secure by following it, then, the ideal could be eradicated and altered for the sake of society.

John Dewey has shared in his writings the benefits of ‘experiences’ in life. We all should have experiences to inquiry the truth of knowledge at its best.

“Experience gives meaning to existence” – John Dewey

Dewey is confident that the method of inquiry would give meaning to life and refine knowledge which isn’t possible without the self-experiences. The ‘experiences’ also leads to the development of moral values in life.

To summarize, acceptance of orthodox and standardized religious hierarchy isn’t needed for spreading the concepts of morality instead ‘wholeness of knowledge’ and ‘understanding democracy’ is the sole requirements for the ignition of ‘religious beliefs’.

The religion is realizing the perfect state between actual and ideal.  Humans have always looked for the problem-solver, the ultimate helper. But, he has not tried fully to solve his problems on his own. We should search for the moral ideals in our real lives instead of expecting some supernatural power to come and cherish our life.

“Logical Positivism” In Brief

What is Logical Positivism?

It is a theory discovered by the members of the Vienna circle. It is an outlook that the philosophical problems would be considered as true and meaningful only if it could be analysed properly. The discovery of logic in philosophy by philosophers like Russell and Quine has widened the advantage & scope of philosophy. It shifted the subject philosophy from traditional orthodox definitions to Modern Logical Positivism.

“Vienna circle”

It is a group of major philosophers- Moritz Schlick, Philipp Frank, Rudolf Carnap, Victor kraftand and others. They considered positivism as an evolution of philosophy. Their main intention was to look back at all major philosophical problems and make a logical analysis to it. The problem which couldn’t be analysed logically is skipped to be treated as a Valid philosophical Problems.

Positivism could be said as switching of philosophy as a theoretical subject to science. The positivism could be understand better by reference to analytic philosophy. Previously, many have questioned the practical use of philosophy as a subject. But, the misconceptions was broken down with the progress of analytic thoughts. In a similar fashion, Logical positivisms could change the philosophy to one of the branches of science.

Rejection of Idealism

Philosophy considers idealism as a thought or idea arising from one’s mind. It has no value in reality. It is called as a fiction of the mind. ‘The mental thoughts gave way to all other physical and material thoughts’, is the basic concept of idealism. Positivism rejected idealism on the basis that the ideas of mind have no logical basis. It is the uncertain thoughts on the basis of which philosophy couldn’t be defined. Further, the ideas arising from the mind couldn’t be analyzed properly. Everyone has got distinct ideas. The subject matter describing philosophy should be universal and not distinctive.

Other Rejected Theory

  • Metaphysics

‘Positivism’ rejected the unrealistic elements of society. The abstract concepts of this society could not be experienced universally. ‘Love’, ‘Hate’, ‘Honesty’, ‘fear’ doesn’t carry worldwide accepted definitions.  Suppose if it’s experienced by more than one source, then there is no guarantee that the thoughts would resemble dicto. Generally, the concept of metaphysics differs from a person to person. It makes it difficult to announce it as a valid philosophical inquiry. The first principle, the questions concerning realities are quite debatable. Therefore, Positivists consider the metaphysical problems as unsuitable for valid analysis.

The statement such as “Absolute is beyond time couldn’t be verified.” Nobody has ever travelled beyond time to identify the qualities of absolute. The basic idea of Substances couldn’t be logically analyzed by the logical lenses of positivism.

  • Epistemology

Epistemology is known as the theory of knowledge. It could be validated and non-validated. Knowledge of thing which could be seen or observed is true. But, the knowledge of the external world is meaningless. The knowledge of the world where humans couldn’t travel nor could send anyone for the inquiry would be difficult to be called a true/ valid knowledge.

The idea of the external world is only in mind. And the theory which defines ideas i.e., metaphysics are rejected previously as a true means to scientific truth.

Apart from all this, Logical Positivism has rejected many theoretical principles which couldn’t be verified logically. One such rejection is the acceptance of transcendental ethics.  Transcendental ethics is the ‘value’ which isn’t the case but ‘ought to’ be the case.

This kind of values which couldn’t be experienced practically is difficult to be categorised as Logical positivism. So, the guidelines of Logical Positivists are very clear. They accept the views which could be analysed logically or mathematically and they absolutely reject principles which have no logical relevance.

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