Friday, May 13, 2011

The Passion of Christ Follow Up

I wanted to follow up on my presentation regarding The Passion of Christ and the importance of humanity.

If one has faith that God exists and believes that He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good the answer to the question of the importance of humanity is answered very easily.

The question "What does it mean to be human?" is answered through the passage "in the image of God" (Genesis 1:26-27).1 God created every human being to be made in His image and likeness. This alone is amazing. It shows that God wants us to be like Him. Our goal in life is to love and live as Jesus did.

The next act of God that answers the importance of humanity is God becoming human. God, being all-powerful, did not need to become human to show us and teach us how to live. He could have just said the words and all could have been made perfect. Yet, He decided that humanity is important, and therefore, decided to become human himself and teach us to how to live through His example. One being who incorporates both man and God is another example of ontology.

The most important act that God did to show humanity’s importance was to suffer through the passion and die on the cross. He died on the cross not for one person, not for himself, but for every human being that he created on earth. He took on the burden of humanities sin so that we could be forgiven and live with Christ in heaven.

God shows us in many different ways how important we are as human beings.

PS – If anyone wants to look at St. Anselm and St. Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy on the existence of God here is the link. It is pretty interesting!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Abstract: Plato's Cave

Richard Hoopman & Garrett Holt

We are examining Plato’s explanations of reality as depicted in The Allegory of the Cave

Plato believed the reality we exist in is merely a shadow of true perfection. We are unable to identify the truth of perfection, because our senses are only able to perceive the physical world around us. Truth is only obtained through logical thought, a reasoning which is completely deprived from physical reality. Plato divides thought and physical existence into two separate categorizes of being. The Allegory of the Cave demonstrates the fallacy of trusting physical
reality. Only by progressing through the different levels of Thought can true knowledge be obtained.

The movie The Island depicts an underground civilization tricked into believing a false reality. The main character questions his existence and, by rationalizing his situation, discovers the truth behind his being. The Island illustrates the fundamental point of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

Final Abstract -Scott Woody

Recent advancements in the field of Neurotheology have called into question the separation of the spiritual mind and body. Some have but forth the only separation between the mind and body is self-imposed. They further claim that recent scientific evidence alludes to the assumption that God was created in the mind of man.

Others, like Spinoza before them agree to a point. They also believe there is no separation between the mind and body, but believe both are just different manifestations of the same higher energy. Energy trapped in a slow moving form if you will. They also view the recent evidence in the field of Neurotheology of confirmation of a higher form or truth. Which side would you chose?

The Plausible Impossible Abstract

Saturday morning cartoons and cartoon movies are one of society's first teachers for children. Characters like Wile E. Coyote, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck are often the first personalities children are exposed to besides family. In these cartoons, several philosophical links can be made to existentialism, reality, death, and suffering. Cartoons often suspend physics to make the situation funnier, but in doing so, a reality is presented to children which is not real. Some characters, like Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, are locked in a never-ending struggle against each other. The aggressive, unintelligent behavior displayed by characters like Wile E. Coyote is, whether we know it or not, being impressed upon young children. Finally, cartoon characters never experience true sorrow, trauma, or death. These experiences are impossible to escape in reality; yet, in cartoons, they are rarely examined. When death does occur to cartoon characters, it is never finite. The characters always return in the next episode without any psychological trauma or fundamental change in their personality. These cartoons, however innocent they are intended to be, are nonetheless influential in teaching children about the world. The concepts that children learn through cartoon violence and struggles must be unlearned if the individual is to ever fully understand the true nature of the world.

~From CJ Skinner and Shane Coffing

Friday, May 6, 2011

Abstract : Determinism in Minority Report

"The film Minority Report demonstrates several aspects of determinism though it's central plotline. Several ideas can be extracted from it's narrative, some even conflicting; but in the end, it still leaves the viewer with the fundamental question - is the future set?"

Writing in My Sleep Pt. 2

Descartes’ theory of distinguishing between dream and reality is similar to the idea of the totem portrayed in Inception. In order to differentiate between the world of the dream and reality, the characters in the film each carry their own totem unique only to the beholder. As the film describes it, the totem is “a small object, potentially heavy, something you can have on you all the time…like - this is a loaded die.” Another character then reaches out to feel the die. To this the owner responds “I can't let you touch it, that would defeat the purpose. See only I know the balance and weight of this particular loaded die. That way when you look at your totem, you know beyond a doubt you're not in someone else's dream.”

The totems in the film are basically objects that have certain characteristics that are known only to the owner. Therefore, when in a dream, the characteristics of that item can help the owner discern whether or not they are in someone else’s dream. If they are in someone else’s dream, that other person does not know the particular characteristic and thus in that dream the totem will not behave properly, signaling the owner that they are in someone else’s dream. If the totem does behave as the owner knows it should, then the owner concludes that they are either awake or in their own dream. Another example of this as portrayed by the movie is the totem of a spinning top. When the character is in someone else’s dream the top continues spinning indefinitely. When he is in reality or his own dream the top topples after a matter of a few seconds.

This idea of a totem seems plausible (supposing there were a way to get inside others’ dreams), but doesn’t propose a solution to the question of whether or not we ourselves are dreaming. The totem only informs the owner if they are in someone else’s dream. It does not help them differentiate between reality and their own dreams. Whether we consider this or not, the idea of the totem raises an interesting question: could there exist a universal totem, one that works for anyone and everyone? The film’s representation suggests that there could not. It emphasizes that the totem is a physical object and that its characteristics are known only by the owner such that those characteristics cannot be reproduced in another’s dream. Therefore, if everyone had the same totem then everyone would know that special characteristic and would reproduce it in every dream defeating the item’s purpose.

Descartes on the other hand, suggests that there could be a universal totem. He mentioned that one can know if they are dreaming based on the fact that they are considering their current state to be a dream. It is not a physical item like the film uses, but his theory could be applied to everyone as a sort of universal reference.

This idea of a universal totem is also suggested throughout culture in the form of pinching. It is common practice or belief to pinch one’s self when thought to be dreaming such that the pain of the pinch might induce waking. This therefore could also be used as a universal sort of totem or reference point. Arguing against this, Blackburn states that a person could merely dream the pain of the pinch in response to the action. He suggests that whatever the test, one could simply dream the expected result (25). This agrees with the film such that a person’s totem cannot help them discern between reality and their own dream.

As of the writing of this paper there has not yet been discovered a surefire way to distinguish between reality and the world of the dream despite these thoughts. Nevertheless, countless philosophers and filmmakers have provided thought provoking or, at the very least, entertaining ideas on the topic. Whether cruising through reality or living amidst the world of a dream, the mystery remains. Whether spinning a top or pinching until the skin turns purple, the discernment eludes. That said, it is possible that this assignment and the resulting paper at hand are all figments of the imagination, brought about by the dreams of someone fast asleep in a cozy bed… or perhaps no more than a brain, floating in a jar atop someone’s (or something’s) desk.