Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hume and Kant: a contrast of styles and 'as we were/are'

Well as I've a week break (half term)  from the Philosophy class, this gives me an opportunity to look at our subjects for next week and even consider issues around what we've looked at so far and will look at in the future .

Jamie's Missing Colour?
Well the next week we've been asked top look at two giants the Scott Hume and the German Kant, the two  philosophers share a common focus on Morality.

David Hume (1711- 76) 
Hume came to be famous at the time of the Scottish Enlightenment when Science seemed to be revealing much of our world and  his writing skills are much celebrated
The work which Hume a noted Sceptic is best remembered for is 
'A Treatise of Human Nature' - in hindsight he's viewed as an Atheist. 
Hume concerned himself with sensory data - there's a short video that details some of his ideas here.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
To me it seems that Kant shared something of the perspective of Hume around Ethics and Morality, famed for his 'Critique of Pure Reason' book and The Categorical Imperative (as opposed to Utilitarianism).

Kant's work is considered challenging and somewhat inaccessible as a result partly of his dense writing style.

The equivalent 3 minute video for Kant (of the Hume one) is here.

Reflecting so far

Well what this class has brought to my attention (so far) is the Psychoanalytic perspective and also an appreciation of the historic environment which too influences thought at a given time.

What shapes us?

I've been in an e-mail conversation with a slightly older cousin Andrew, (my Father's elder brother's son) which has given me cause for reflection (it doesn't take much to do this for me these days).
Harry Bourne remembered. 

it's useful, interesting and illuminating to look at insights from people one shares a past with, I'm pleased to know that like me Andrew has an allotment where he grow veg and fights pests

My Grandfather, Henry Bourne was editor of the Leicester Mercury at the time of his retirement in 1948 and was (it seems) a man with Victorian values, his eldest son (Andrew's father) followed him into Newspapers, initially in 1932  and returning after World War 2 until his own retirement.

Such was behaviour at this time that it was not 'really done' for his second son to the same and so it happened that my Father went into the then fledgling technology of Radar.

From What Andrew says these generation were vastly different from our own and those who succeed us - whether they were happier or more content is of course a moot point but it does seem they were more stoic in their outlook.

I don't know how much we can delegate our own actions, feelings and responsibilities  to external factors it may well also be rather egocentric to say that we have learned to avoid some regrettable modes of behaviour  that we might consider to have been at large in our families.

My Cousin despairs somewhat of the Mercury newspaper as it is now and goodness knows what My Grandfather and my Uncle would say about the Telegraph selling its editorial principles to HSBC if the respected Journalist Peter Oborne is to be believed.

I suppose many of us see more clearly the arc of our lives post fifty but may still wonder why we have become what we have.
It shaped my life

Certainly for me it's curious what we recall and what becomes buried for some reason or other.

Odd perhaps that any memory I have of receiving my 'O' levels is more distant than many childhood memories but material  evidence indicates that it did happen and certainly it feels in hindsight that it is one of the things that very much shaped my career .

Another reflection I have is that for others we can say things like

'don't beat yourself up - it's not your fault' 

or perhaps

'Well I know you had too much to drink so didn't take it seriously'

but to ourselves we cannot always offer these dispensations although conversely our expectations of the fallibilities of others  can be unrealistically high  too (for example all too human politicians).

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