The Human Condition

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The Human Condition

By Professor Kelly Perez | Spring 2014

The Humanities seeks to understand the similarities and differences amongst ideologies, not the right and wrong ideologies. Philosophy seeks to understand our society’s ideas, and then, after much contemplation, we discuss possible answers and see what stems from the advantages and challenges of that discourse. The Presocratics shifted speculation away from the ideals of the supernatural to the natural realm of reality and knowledge as it appeared in the natural world. Socrates emphasized knowledge, virtue, and goodness in all his teachings as he searched for objective knowledge. 

To give you perspective on the Presocratics and Western Philosophy, we will begin with Xenophanes of Colophon, who lived roughly 500 years before Christ or the Before Common Era. As a predecessor to the great Greek Philosophers, he focused his ideas on the chaos of the time, something we can all relate to #2020IsRough. His Greece looked like a typical Watch of the Titans movie. Gods here, gods, their gods everywhere. Wars to the left and wars to the right, and at the center of it all, was the eternal question - why? What is our purpose? If we were going to die anyway, what was the whole point? Exploring the Human Condition is a lifelong pursuit you will tackle this week. Xenophanes looked to his corrupt leaders and flawed gods and said no! The very nature of a supreme god would be good, everlasting, ultimate, and wise. They would not be rapists or murderers who lusted after each other and caused untold trauma, as seen with the Homeric gods. The Human Condition is your task this week. --- Now that you are here on this planet -- tell me why.

The Human Condition

The Human Condition begins with investigating a culture's habits, historical events, and psychological identity, which shape the human experience. Yet before we can understand the human experience, we must first ask ourselves, what does it mean to study human conditions? Look at these beautiful dogs. What would you say about their appearance? The dogs are lean, alert, posed, and covered in fur based on their physical makeup alone.

Now, what could we say about their mental condition? According to the Canine Behavioral Center, dogs are brilliant, can interpret human signals, are social beings with a pack mentality, and, above all, see weakness as a sign of sickness and unrest. The Canine Behavioral Center observed that if a mother gives birth to seven pups and one of them is sick, she will push it away and ignore it. The key trait inherent in their DNA is survival. That’s the condition of the canine species. 

So, what is the human condition?

We’d be remiss if our philosophical look into the Human Condition didn’t include four types of philosophers: the Presocratics, The Enlighten Rationalists, The Romantics, and the Modern Nihilist. Looking at the Human Condition from each perspective will give us a cursory idea. For a more in-depth study of the question, I implore you to dig deeper into each era’s philosophy; it’s quite fascinating! 

The Human Condition as seen through Objective Greek Knowledge

Philosophy is a tool used to achieve Justified Knowledge. Looking at the figures below, can you guess where you are as students enter their first week of philosophy class?

Let me introduce you to the father of Western Philosopher Socrates and his pupil Plato.

The Socratics Method

Socrates offered a line of questions instead of the answer' hoping to promote critical thinking and, of course. He assumed that the right answer was already in you. He needs to help you recall dormant knowledge. The resulting conversation was highly effective but not loved by anyone. His goal was not to confuse people but to let them shine. He wanted people to properly and make their arguments. He gave them plenty of time and space to talk and always tried to let them win their argument, but it seemed that the people he spoke to, the same people who thought they knew their beliefs so well, didn't know much about them. His pupil Plato will help us understand how our beliefs are shackled by so much perception and objective pure knowledge outside of Relativism. 

It’s bound to be a bumpy ride, but I know my students will shine! There’s a pretty good chance you are the stick figure on the left. We aim to help you move towards knowledge that is not supported by mere flimsy opinions. Still, that can sharpen your arguments and beliefs through logic and reason or justified knowledge. To do that, you must move through four building blocks of critical thinking and philosophical thought.