Friday, January 4, 2008

Logical Positivism's Critique of Metaphysics

(Seminar Paper, Ateneo Philosophy Symposium, Xavier University, 1997)

1. Language, Truth, and Logic, a book written by Alfred Jules Ayer in 1936, is considered as something to popularize what may be called the classic position of the Vienna Circle. (PHP) Ayer, being one of the foremost members of the Vienna Circle, just like other logical positivists, is attracted to the methods of science. A follower of Auguste Comte, a 17th century French philosopher, Ayer argued that because of the essential character of language, metaphysics is impossible. According to Ayer, metaphysicians are working on literally senseless writings without even seeing them as non-sense. Since what goes beyond phenomena cannot be verified, then what goes beyond phenomena cannot be meaningfully described.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Moral Selves and Politics as a Crisis of Meaning

(Seminar Paper, Ateneo Philosophy Symposium, Ateneo de Zamboanga, 2005)

Human existence finds at the very core of its being that it is perpetually underway to language. According to the French Philosopher Paul Ricoeur, it is through language that the responsible human subject is revealed, a subject who speaks and acts in a world that is immersed in constant conflict, a subject who continuously suffers in life but still desires to live. The human person is this never-ending desire to be.The human subject is always a mystery, and thus, he is to be understood indirectly. Human existence demands a detour through language.

Notes on the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

1. The world is all that is the case.

The world is the sum total of all state of affairs. Truth belongs to the world, and what is beyond it cannot be expressed. To express the meaning of the world means to express what can be said about it.For logical atomists, reality consists of objects. “Only objects exist, and ideas are mere mental copies of objects.” (PA) Multiplicities have to be admitted since this is the actual state of affairs of things.The statement also expresses the limitation of human knowing. Since the world is all that is the case, the object of human knowledge is limited to what can be known in the world.Thus, what can only be meaningful is the world and everything that can be said about it. The world exists like a compendium of facts, and language, that tool that describes what the world is like, presents the world into a form that makes communication and understanding possible.

Wittgenstein's Mature Philosophy of Language

(Seminar Paper, Ateneo Philosophy Symposium, Xavier University, 2002)

1. Analytic philosophy began as a reaction to F.H. Bradley. Bradley’s monistic idealism essentially destroys all contentions of multiplicity. For Bradley, all of reality is the content of one mind, the Absolute. The absolute is the reality. All objects belong to one and only one substance, the Absolute.Bertrand Russell rejected F.H. Bradley’s ideas, henceforth, the birth of logical atomism. Russell, in reaction against F.H. Bradley, says that the world consists of objects. Generally, the following illustrate the claims of logical atomism: first, that objects truly exist apart from the mind (extra-mental); secondly, that only objects exist; ideas exist in the mind (intra-mental); and lastly, that real objects are to be determined logically. (PA)Language, according to atomists, is truth-functional. A compound proposition is the truth-function of its constituent parts.

Perspective, Ideology and Social Reality in the Aesthetic Theory of Georg Lukacs

(Conference Paper, PHAVISMINDA Conference, Silliman University, 2007)

What is the function of a writer[1]? Consequently, it can also be asked, what is the function of art? To the first question, the response shall be direct – the function of a writer is to reveal reality. It is the writer’s task to inform human consciousness of the reality of the world and to put forward a perspective of the human condition. The second question needs an indirect route, for we need to ask what is presupposed when any aesthetic formulation is conceived. To this, we say, that art must reveal the truth. Truth must be in art; art must be in truth.

Childhood in the Margins: Levinas and the Mortality of the Face

(Conference Paper, PHAVISMINDA Conference, Camiguin, 2005)

Emmanuel Levinas elaborates in his magnum opus, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, the groundwork for an ethics of the human face, “choosing as basis, the ethical basis of society, the self’s responsibility for the other”1. For Levinas, the face, which is a metaphor for the other, refers “to the poor, the stranger, the abandoned, the orphan”[i], or put simply, the suffering man who is left in the margins, hungry, and dying. The face, the marginalized, reminds us of our responsibility. The “I’ only finds its meaning when it answers the call of the other. To be responsible means to proclaim that the “I” in the here and now is an “I” that says, “I am for you”.

Language, Being and Transcendence

Language, according to Heidegger, is the house of Being (Heidegger 1977, 193). It is the place where Being presents itself to Dasein (There-Being); Dasein is the place whereby Being makes itself accessible to man. Language, in this sense, is constitutive of the man’s being-in-the-world (Sallis 1993, 357). Man, as Dasein, has the fundamental character of thrownness. By being thrown into the world, it is through man whereby the Being of beings becomes manifest. It is through man whereby Being is known. Metaphysics, says Heidegger, is the basic occurrence of Dasein (Heidegger 1977, 112). For Heidegger, Dasein dwells on the disclosure of Being through the nothing (the unsaid in human speech), which stands as its groundless ground and source of meaning. The nothing, Heidegger, says, makes possible the openness of beings (Ibid., 105). This openness comes to man in language, for Being “is perpetually under way to language (Ibid., 239).”