mind,_body,_and_structure_chapters_1-3 - William Jaworski...

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William Jaworski Fordham University 1 Chapter 1 Philosophy and the Scientific Revolution Synopsis Modern philosophy began with the Scientific Revolution. Leaders of the Revolution such as Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, and René Descartes rejected the scientific ideas of Aristotle that had dominated Western thought for over a thousand years. In the process they also rejected Aristotelian philosophy. In its place they erected a philosophy based on dichotomies: freedom versus determinism, fact versus value, mind versus body. The task of philosophy since the Scientific Revolution has been to resolve the tensions generated by these dichotomies – to explain how we can be free, mental, moral beings if we inhabit a universe that at a fundamental level has none of these features. Philosophy of mind tries to resolve the tensions generated by the mind-body or mental-physical dichotomy. These are called mind-body problems . Modern philosophical problems For the past 350 years philosophers, scientists, theologians, and others have tried to understand human nature using conceptual tools that were forged in the Scientific Revolution. That revolution introduced a new method for studying the natural world. The benefits of
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William Jaworski Fordham University 2 following it have included what has probably been the greatest expansion of human knowledge in recorded history. The corresponding cost was a displacement of our ordinary prescientific modes of understanding – the mental, the moral, and the spiritual – and the loss of what had been a well-articulated philosophical understanding of their interrelations grounded in the philosophy of Aristotle. The new science contradicted the orthodox Aristotelian science of the day, and it had implications that many believed to be inconsistent with the broader tenets of Aristotelian philosophy. At the time, the distinction between science and philosophy, which is so familiar to us now, was only dimly recognized. Aristotelian science and the Aristotelian philosophy of nature were both grouped under the heading of ‘natural philosophy’. Consequently, when Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, René Descartes and other leaders of the Scientific Revolution threw out Aristotelian science, they threw out Aristotelian philosophy with it. What they eventually put in its place was a new philosophy based on dichotomies: freedom versus determinism, fact versus value, mind versus body. Seeing the world in these dichotomous terms was one outcome of the Scientific Revolution. The new science revealed a world that was made of the same fundamental physical material throughout. Because everything was made of the same material there could be no fundamental difference between, say, a human body and an inanimate body such as a rock. Moreover, because both were made of the same materials, both could be exhaustively described
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This note was uploaded on 08/18/2008 for the course PHIL 1000-002 taught by Professor Jaworski during the Spring '07 term at Fordham.

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mind,_body,_and_structure_chapters_1-3 - William Jaworski...

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