Friday, June 9, 2017

Hilde's father tells her about the universe and the Big Bang while Sophie tells Alberto she thinks they can have an impact on Hilde's world. She hits Hilde in the face with a wrench and Hilde yelps in pain, thinking a gadfly stung her and Hilde thinks she feels Sophie's presence. Albert tells his daughter that they are all a part of the same whole, since everything started with the Big Bang. Thus, trying to understand the universe is an attempt to understand ourselves. Sophie and Alberto manage to get the rowboat out, and Albert makes fun of his daughter by suggesting that maybe Sophie did it. The ending of Sophie’s World was weird and a little disappointing. The whole book was just so overwhelming, that I was not expecting such an underwhelming ending, and I think that if the ending was better I would have like the book more as a whole. A good ending should leave you with some inspiration and cause you to think differently or make a change in how/what you think in some way. This book could have done so much more, considering how different it is compared to others. The style and genre had so much potential to be one of those life-changing reads, yet the forced simplicity of such a heavy subject left me feeling confused. It didn’t make me question my morals or existence, although I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have an existential crisis every couple classes. I was however, able to learn things about philosophy that ever thought I would have known, and dive deeper into the meaning of life and things.

The end of the book raises the question of free will, a question in which philosophers have been asking for ages. And everything that we read in the book we can see in the real world, and connect to what we learn in class to further our understanding. From carpe diem to the debate between living a long miserable life or short happy life, whatever we learn can be exemplified in the book. We know that Albert Knag has written Sophie’s World, and that Sophie and Alberto are characters in it. At the same time, Sophie and Alberto know that they are characters, but they do not know how the book (or their lives) will end. Sophie and Alberto feel like they are in control of their actions even though they know that Albert Knag has made them feel that way. This same problem applies to how we live our lives. Do we exercise free will, or is it possible that our lives are predetermined? While it’s not as clear as it seems to be for the characters in the book, every one of our actions could also be predetermined. We know in our minds that we decide what we do, however by the notion of determinism, all things we do are influenced by an external factor. When we think of our lives as determined most of us take it in a negative way because we don’t even want to imagine the possibility that our lives could be laid out from start to finish because an existence like this seems meaningless. It gives us a sense of helplessness and anxiety that Sophie and Alberto never seemed to have. To me the book basically is a never-ending cycle of questioning and thinking, about free will, carpe diem, and so much more. This is what makes it philosophical.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In Our Own Time, Hilde wakes up and realizes that she was dreaming that she was sitting on the dock. She heard Sophie's voice when her father came home. As Hilde begins to read again, and she follows Sophie as she tries to distract Albert from Alberto. Sophie climbs a tree and gets stuck so she is flown down by a goose that first makes her smaller. Sophie gets home and helps her mother prepare for her party before going to sleep. The next morning, Sophie meets Alberto in town. Alberto begins to talk more about existentialism. He focuses on Sartre who felt that existentialists have nothing but humanity to go on. He was an atheist who believed that because people are conscious of their existence, so their "being" is different from that of things. Sartre viewed our freedom as a burden, since we arrive in the world free either way, and that we must take complete responsibility for our actions.
Alberto also points out that modern science is still dealing with many of the questions that the ancient Greek philosophers asked. He speaks of new trends and warns Sophie not to pay attention to the so-called New Age science that is really just superstition passing as science. Alberto tells her that publishers publish what people want to read, not always just good books. He picks apart some of the ideas of the supernatural and says that nature itself is magnificent enough. Before Sophie leaves Alberto buys her a copy of Sophie's World, which sits on the philosophy shelf in a bookstore.

For me, Freud is the first topic that I think of when trying to make a personal connection. Talking about Freud and his concepts inspired me to talk about him with my therapist. Last Thursday when I saw my therapist we discussed some of Freud’s philosophies and it was ironic to say the least. As we were talking, he pointed to a mini doll of Freud that is wedged between the ledges of his metal paper-holder. I’d noticed it before and even commented on it but never realized that it was Freud. It turns out, that my therapist has had a stuffed mini Freud hidden in plain sight this whole time! He told me that when he was in college he had to read an entire book about him for one of his classes and at that moment he realized that psychology/therapy was his calling. It’s funny how I could relate something that I learned in philosophy class back to my everyday encounters and conversations. I believe that therapy can be a very useful and effective way to take care of yourself. Talking about yourself to the same person a few times a month can end up helping you greatly in the long run. In some situations, after a while that person begins to understand you and you form a similar connection that you would see in other relationships. Many of the relationships that we aspire to have, contain the qualities of good communication, an ability to listen, and an interest in the other person’s life. I mean yes, the relationship that someone may have with their therapist can be pretty one-sided, however, they are still valuable in being able to open up, and learn how to communicate your problems.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Blog #5

In class the other day we talked about how Romanticism relates to the present. We discussed artists who were at the peak of their career and tragically died. We talked about how much we admire artists such as Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Amy Winehouse. They were true examples of romantics, as they died around thirty, just as people were recognizing their potential for greatness. The romanticism chapter talks a lot about how Romanticism worshipped the work of the individual, which emphasized the ego’s importance to knowledge. We see this in these famous artists, who many were thought of as geniuses of their time. In the chapter we learned how Novalis provided the age with its rebellious spirit, and that is also reflective in the music of artists such as Kurt Cobain. He yearned for the darker and more mystical side of life. This became romanticized and started flowing into the mainstream. Suddenly everyone was integrating the “grunge” look into their style. People were listening to his music and buying “distressed jeans.” This culture appealed to the youth because Cobain created his own reality. What makes these people so special is because they weren’t afraid to challenge the status quo for the sake of their individuality. If Beethoven hadn’t embraced his feelings and willingness to do something that caused him to feel and act freely, society wouldn’t have ever progressed and developed the way it did. Although he was deaf, he made up his own rules and expressed himself nevertheless. Generations afterward, society still looks upon him as a predecessor to more amazing development and worship him for it.

In the Romanticism chapter, Hilde wakes up the next morning, eats, and begins to read. On the other hand, Sophie returns home and learns that her mother has invited Joanna and her parents over. When Joanna comes over, her and Sophie create an invitation to her birthday party which they call a "philosophical garden party." Tuesday, Alberto calls and tells Sophie he has been working on their plan and says that it is easier to work when Albert Knag focuses on Sophie. Later that afternoon they meet and Alberto talks about Romanticism . He teaches her that the Romantic period was characterized by a worship of the individual and freedom. Romantics felt that art was humanity's greatest expression of freedom, and one of the Romantics he taught her about was engaged to a girl named Sophie who died four days after her 15th birthday. This scares Sophie, but Alberto later tells her that she should not worry about dying because there are clearly several chapters left in their story. The Romantics saw nature as a world spirit, and this was the view of Schelling, the greatest philosopher of the time. After Universal Romanticism, came National Romanticism.  History, language, and culture of the people became important as well as fairy tales and folk songs became important. Aladdin visits them with a message from Albert Knag in his lamp. Alberto says that they are inside Hilde's father's mind and that he is working hard on their story, and that Albert Knag directly dictated the words. Alberto hopes for Hilde to rebel against Albert, and points out that Hilde and her father could be inside the mind of someone who is writing a book about Hilde's father writing a book. Sophie points out that even that author could be in the mind of someone else, and Alberto says that he must have had them discuss that option because the book is really a textbook on philosophy.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Connection/Reflection 4

Hilde Moller Knag wakes up on her birthday, Friday June fifteenth, excited for her birthday and for her father to return home in a week. She looks outside and remembers the time she fell overboard in the rowboat and the boat had been left floating in the middle of the bay. Hilde looks at her reflection and remembers how she used to try to wink at it with both eyes because her father said it was possible in this magic mirror. She sees a large package by her bed and becomes annoyed because it might be the strange present she was expecting from her father. Hilde opens the package and finds a ring binder filled with typed pages, with the title Sophie's World. As she begins reading it, she finds out that the book tells Sophie's story, and Hilde flies through the chapters. She realizes that Sophie must have been very confused by the birthday cards that were sent from her father. Hilde also wonders about her silk scarf that Sophie found and she figures out that it must actually be someone who’s not just in the book. Her mother comes in to wish her happy birthday and has a difficult time getting Hilde to look away from the book. Although Hilde finds the book interesting, she also begins to get annoyed with her father for confusing Sophie, Alberto, and Joanna. When Sophie finds her gold crucifix Hilde becomes confused, because she does not know how her father could have known it was lost. At that point she is sure that Sophie actually exists. This chapter was a nice twist to the book, and I think it will make it more interesting as try to decode the reality of Sophie’s world.

Earlier in the week our class, once again, had another debate. However, this time my place was in the majority. I disagreed with Kant’s belief that lying in any circumstance is bad. Lying is something that every person had done and will continue to do, as it is part of human nature. If nobody ever lied, our society would be completely different. People would be much more straightforward when it comes to stating their opinions and how they interact with others. Though I disagree with the statement, at the same time, I don’t believe that lying is the right thing to do all of the time. I believe that, in most situations, if you have the opportunity to lie, or to tell the truth, that being honest is the more respectable thing to do. At the end of the day, you have power and the control over what you say, and you are your words. There is a fine line between compulsively lying and being truthful a hundred percent of the time. I believe that there should be a purpose for lying, and it should come with a good result. I have obviously been lied to in the past, but who really stuck out to me when we had this discussion was one person that I can remember. This person lied to me almost each time they spoke, and when I found out their character, I was shocked to have unknowingly been friends someone with such poor integrity. I felt betrayed to have such a close person in my life benefitting from the good intentions and love I had for them, but through everything I did for them, getting the opposite in return. I learned from experience, the value that comes with speaking your truth. Lying most of the time is revealed in the end, and if it doesn’t have a good end result, for example, the murderer who knocks on your door example, then it shouldn’t be done.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

In the Descartes chapter of Sophie’s World, Alberto continues to talk to Sophie, and he describes the life of Descartes. Descartes doubted the various philosophical works that had been handed through the Middle Ages and he set out to build his own philosophical system. Descartes was the first philosopher in a long time to try and bring all his knowledge into a system of philosophy. Because philosophers believed in a mechanistic view of nature, it was important for him to figure out how the mind's thoughts became translated into actions of the body because he was interested in the mind/body relationship. Descartes doubted everything that was not for certain and then realized that the fact that he was doubting something meant he had to be thinking. From that he thought that God is also certain, and defined the world in terms of thought and matter, which he named extension. The mind and body interact as one, but the goal is to get the mind to work only according to reason. Alberto shows Sophie an artificial intelligence program and Sophie has a conversation with it. Major Albert Knag, Hilde's father, hacks into the hard drive and talks to them briefly through the computer. Alberto then starts to tell Sophie about Spinoza. Heavily influenced by Descartes, Spinoza was the first to suggest that the Bible be read critically. He was persecuted for his beliefs, and his own family even left him. Spinoza viewed nature itself as a part of God. He had a deterministic view of the world, believing that God could be found through nature. Spinoza felt that only God was truly free but that people could attain happiness through seeing things "from the perspective of eternity." Sophie goes to eat a banana but finds a message from Hilde's father on the peel. They determine that he is clever and Sophie suggests that maybe he was controlling everything that they say. Alberto tells her not to jump to conclusions, and then he calls her Hilde as she leaves.
I believe that the book relates to our previous conversation about God in class. Some of us, like Spinoza had a more spiritual view of the world, and were not as religious as others. On the other hand, there were some religious people, such as Descartes that made up some of the class. I believe that God is an interesting topic to discuss because most people are very opinionated when it comes to their faith. I think that though I have never really had a strong belief in God, that being open to everyone’s perspective made me understand why some people are very attached to their religious beliefs. Because my mother grew up with religion, my grandparents are Jewish, and I have been taught some of the beliefs. I feel that what I know about that relates to Spinoza and his beliefs. He thought that God did not create the world to stand outside it, but to stand within everything that the world is. He thought that God was the world, and that God was expressed through nature. Growing up, I was taught that God is in everything, that he is in every person and every tree. I find that if I replace the word God with universe, I can understand better where my parents and Spinoza was coming from. Today I see that it is somewhat of a trend to do yoga, and be healthy, and meditate with a more Buddhist approach to spirituality. When I was younger I started to learn about astrology and tarot, and in that, it is taught that the universe is in everything. By this, I believe that Spinoza was definitely ahead of his time because if he were alive right now, he would be amazed at the amount of people that have developed some of his ideas.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Post #2

It is obvious that Hilde's father is powerful because everything that he has seems impossible, such that he could be some sort of deity. However if he were some sort of God then it seems unlikely that he would torment Sophie and Alberto. As the book goes on, Hilde's role is even more difficult to understand. It seems that she and Sophie are connected, just as Alberto and Hilde's father are connected, or maybe they are the same people somehow. She dreams that she sees Hilde meet her father and that Hilde's father looks a lot like Alberto. In the dream she finds a gold crucifix and when she wakes up it is under her pillow. The next morning Hermes comes and guides Sophie to Alberto. Just before going inside she finds a postcard addressed to Hilde from her father, postmarked on June 15. He tells his daughter that Sophie is going to the philosopher's house and tells her he is sorry she lost her gold crucifix. She goes into Alberto's house, but he tells her the crucifix was just a "cheap trick." Alberto says that Hilde's father has tremendous power. It is crazy that Sophie met Alberto and all these things started to happen. It makes me think that Alberto knows what’s going on, especially when he slips Sophie for Hilde. The problem is that we don’t understand or make sense of the events that have taken place. Like Hilde’s father, it appears as though he knows everything that’s going to happen before it does when he isn’t surprised by the things that do occur, but instead want to continue with philosophy. Alberto says that that is the only way to understand all of this. Yet, since everything is surrounded by philosophy, there is a certainty that there must be some sort of philosophical explanation.
In the novel, Sophie is continuously learning about the past. However, I believe that history often repeats itself and that we can see patterns in the present day that relate to the past. When Alberto gives Sophie a lesson on the Renaissance, he tells her that it was a time characterized by a belief in humanity, with a focus on the individual. All cultural life flourished, and Rome was rebuilt.. We learn that scientific knowledge became important, and led to scientific innovation that has continued to the present day. The innovations have been both good and bad, but there is no way to return to the days before such inventions. People were starting to intervene in nature and were beginning to control it.  Today, there seems to be a big political discussion about the environment. Global warming seems to be a big place of debate between believers and non believers. The environment, as well as scientists continue to struggle as programs in the US are currently being defunded as we try to learn how to control nature without threatening its existence. Earlier in the chapter, Sophie is shocked at the amount of “antiques” Alberto holds in his apartment, but doesn’t understand that everything that was made was just a building block to another invention. Without the development of everything like a doll, a chair, or a bookcase, we wouldn’t have things like space probes, or washing machines. Alberto explains that all the inventions of the past have paved the way to things of the present. Just as scientific discoveries have developed throughout time. We learned that gravity was discovered by dropping a marble and seeing where it went- down because of weight. Alberto explains that this has cosmic significance, as gravity is a universal occurrence. Scientific discoveries in itself relate to today because we are still using them to experiment. In the present day world, we can now do amazing things such as go to the moon or mars, places we can’t

Friday, March 24, 2017

first blog post, chapter 1

In chapter one of Sophie’s World, The Garden of Eden, the main character Sophie is introduced. The story starts with her and her friend Joanna walking home from school and discussing the human brain. Joanna thought the human brain was like an advanced computer. To Sophie, the brain was more than just a piece of hardware so she wasn’t sure if she agreed with her friends. As they parted ways, Sophie followed the road back to her house until she arrived. The first thing she did when she got home was check the mail. Inside was an envelope addressed to her, and to her dismay, the letter read three words. “Who are you?” Sophie began to think about the mysterious letter and had no idea who she really was. She debated whether if her name was not the same, if she would be the same person. After, she went to the bathroom mirror and studied the way she looked, for the person in that mirror was the same person staring back at her. She wasn’t sure whether her appearance was a reasonable factor in determining who she was because her looks weren’t made by her free will. After a while, Sophie went back outside to ponder life and death. She began to realize that she would not be alive forever. After seeing her grandmother dying, she proposed that without death, one would not appreciate life. Sophie then decided to check the mailbox for more letters and found another white envelope, exactly like the first. The question on the letter inside was “where does the world come from?” The mysterious letters stressed Sophie out, so she decided to go to the den the clear her head. She couldn’t accept the comfortable idea that God had created everything, because he too must have come from somewhere as well the universe. She eventually concluded that the world had come from space, which had always existed, and that something had to have come from nothing. Sophie checked her mailbox one last time, and found a birthday card from her father addressed to a boy named Hilde Moller Knag, who she didn’t know. Sophie realized that she had been presented with three problems, who put the white letters in the mailbox, the difficult questions the letters contained, and who Hilde Moller Knag could be.
In chapter one of the book Sophie’s World, The Garden of Eden, Sophie receives a letter in her mailbox sent in a white envelope. The envelope contained a piece of paper that read “Who are You?” The second time she checked her mailbox, she received another white envelope, with the question Where does the world come from?” Sophie began to ponder, and started to question her life and existence in itself. These questions started to spark a curiosity in her mind and Sophie began to wonder things like such as who she was, where she came from, and the origin of the universe.  In the movie, Source Code, the main character Captain Stevens awakens to find what he perceives as himself on a train. However, when he wakes up, he has no recollection of why he’s on a train or where the rain is going. Also, Captain Stevens had no idea who the woman sitting next to him was. He begins to become frantic when this all hits him at once and started to ask questions out of confusion, as well as say his name and job. Captain Stevens then walked over to the bathroom to have some space and as soon as he got in, he locks the door behind him and looks on the mirror. However what he sees contradicts what he looks like and “who” he is. He sees himself and realizes that his consciousness was inside of a different person’s body. This scene in the movie reminded me greatly of the part in the book in which Sophie looks in the mirror. As soon as she had been asked the question who she was, she immediately looked to her reflection as a representation of who she was as a person. Beside her name, the way she looked was the most consistent, familiar part of her identity. Both she and Captain Stevens associated their outward appearance as a part of how they identified themselves as within. Sophie thought it was odd that her appearance wasn’t determined by her own free will, and wondered what a human being was to begin with. As we know by the end of the movie, Captain Stevens was mostly dead; only a small part of his brain remained able to understand and perceive reality. However, he completed the entire mission, without being in his own body; his home, and without being fully aware of the condition he was in. The question of “what is a human being” plays into this because Captain Stevens was able to create an alternate world and continue living through someone else’s body without being attached to his own. This question provokes my thought and the connection to Captain Stevens is a prime example of the body and memory theory. The memory theory supports the situation that he was placed into, and brings into question what a human being really is.