Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thoughts of A Pro-Life Atheist


It may seem strange, as an atheist, to identify myself as "pro-life." Of course, nowadays, it is common to stereotype atheists as pro-choice; but there is always room for anomalies.

My reasoning for my stance against abortion is one that is does not involve the notion of
the sanctity of life. Beings come into existence, live their lives, and then cease to exist. This is the cycle which is life, and there is not any special significance about the idea of it. However, it seems to be the case that any sort of potential for existence is a completely different aspect, and one that I hold paramount in my stance about abortion. In this sense, it is misleading for me to designate myself as "pro-life." Perhaps a more appropriate title of my stance could be pro-potential.

By potential of life, I mean that fertilized egg, in the exact moment of conception, has a certain capacity that will lead to consciousness (given that the fetus is not exposed to medical complications that result in its death). Many people that hold the pro-choice stance will claim that a damaged or deformed fetus (and even ones without complications) are in the jurisdiction of the mother's choice. I must admit that, unless the woman is raped or the birth of the baby will lead to her death, any decision to abort this potential for life is a rights violation. Of course, if this action is a human rights violation is another matter entirely, for it could be argued that the fetus is not a human.

Pro-lifers usually object to the claim that human life starts at conception. I do not hold this view, for there is a lack of evidence that suggests that the fetus, before a certain stage in its development, experiences any neurological functioning. However, the potential for life is firmly established by fertilization; this cannot be refuted by any scientist or philosopher. Perhaps the next objection from the pro-lifers would be something like, "Well, in that case, the moment when your mother is born could be a potential for life, since her life inevitably leads to your own." This objection seems ad hoc, and totally misses the basis of my assertion. It is obtuse to say that the potential starts before fertilization.

As mentioned earlier, abortion is a rights violation. By giving the mother the right to infringe upon the fetus' potential for life, the point is made clear. When viewing this from a rights perspective, the potential for the fetus to develop into a rationalizing human being, whether his/her life is full of conflict or flourishing, is something that cannot be ignored. Many people of the pro-choice opinion are bound to say, "The child will not live a fulfilled life if they are exposed to a life full of hardships or given away to adoption. Why put the child through this? We should, instead, abort the fetus so that the child will not experience a horrible quality of life." To this, I ask: "Who are we to decide that another being cannot eventually overcome even the most destructive obstacles?" Adoption, in cases not mentioned previously, truly is the morally superior alternative to destroying another being's potential to experience the beauty of life. If indeed, the child grows up and realizes that his/her life is so miserable in his situation, he always has the right to commit suicide. This point may seem unavoidably poignant on first glance, but at least it leaves the ultimate decision to life up to the human subject, and not some outside source.

Just some thoughts... maybe an outline for a bigger exposition in the future.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Schelling's Logic and the Characteristics of the Absolute

As a philosopher, there are some works that leave me utterly speechless. I must admit that Schelling's lecture On the Nature of Philosophy as Science was one of those occasions that left me thinking about his ideas long after I finished the text. It goes to show how just a mere thirty pages of text can leave individuals with open minds in complete awe of logic. In class, this past Thursday, we discussed the work. My professor admitted that this particular work called for a  discussion instead of a traditional lecture about the material. I felt comforted to know that another thinker realized the true beauty of Schelling's claims.

Friedrich Schelling's lecture covers the topic of the human subject; a seemingly cliche topic of philosophy - no doubt. However, his writing and his process through logical claims is truly astounding, and makes even the most ubiquitous subject a pleasure to read. His main logical argument concerning the absolute can be simply symbolized thus:

1. A
2. S⇢O
3. ~S
4. K ∙ I
∴ 5. ~S⇢S
  
Scheme of abbreviation:
A = Philosophers want to figure out the subject that underlies everything
S = Subject
O = Object
K = Knowledge is lost about the subject
I = The philosopher becomes ignorant of the subject

As a general overview of his conclusion apart from logical terms, Schilling asserts that the underlying subject of reality only becomes feasible when the human mind notices the indefinable nature of this experience. In his own words he writes about this realization: "... the indefinable itself, the aspect of the subject that cannot be defined, has to be made the definition." This conclusion is explained when Schilling uses Socrates to allude to his admonition of "...not knowing anything." From this awareness, true wisdom becomes possible. When working from a foundation that is indefinable, there is a certain "ecstasy" that overwhelms the philosopher.  This allows him/her to see (or feel?) the nature of the Absolute.

Another astounding characteristic of Schelling's logic in this lecture deals with the concept of God in relation to the Absolute. He is quick to acknowledge the fact that these two manifestations (that is the only term I can think of to explain his use of the comparison) are inherently different. When further explaining the incomprehensible nature of the Absolute, Schelling writes: "Those who want to gain command of the completely free and self-generating science must rise to its level. Here we have to depart from everything finite, from everything that is still an entity, and our last attachments must dwindle. Here we must leave everything... even God. For from this standpoint God, too, is only an entity... the absolute subject is not not God, and it is not God either, it is also that which is not God. Hence, in this respect it is above God..."

As one of my classmates humorously pointed out, this seems like "theism with a funny hat." However, it could be possible that Schelling wished to say that this Absolute is something that exists on a plane above all of existence - perhaps morality in its Platonic form. I do admit that this is speculation, and I need to read further into Schelling's views. For the time being, I will bask in the astounding logic of this lecture. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Meditations - Section 1

I do not think that following tradition for tradition's sake is healthy or helpful.

The only doctrine that I vow to practice is that of openness to knew ideas, no matter how absurd they may seem at first. It can then be judged thoughtfully.

The truths of the universe are somewhere within the universe and can be explained therein. There is no reason to think otherwise.

Freeing yourself, and sitting down and relaxing; leisure. It is essential for rejuvenating the mind and body. 

Much is learned from those who are better than me.

Condemnation is a powerful feeling to those who notice it. Things that are deleterious - I condemn them. Things that are positive - I promote them.

Everything is reducible to nature.

Honor my teachers; make them proud.

Solace is found within thoughts. It is that fantastic, far-away land.

 Noteworthy fiction is just as meaningful as superb non-fiction. The profound points of both are found within the implications.

Emotions are able to blind and make me stumble, but they also give me euphoria.

Reason is worth investigating. It seems to hold some objectivity.

I am a slave to my habits, a raindrop controlled by gravity.

I must always remember: "The universe was not made for me. Rather, I must adapt to the universe."

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Question

The war of the minds is fought – through and through;
above the grasses grown:
above the dirt - so rough

It fights with nukes and guns and oil
and makes our world throw up its soil.

Thoughts that impede and aim to mar: it impels me to ask…

an idea in the air;
it just elegantly hovers…

By and by, I must inquire:

“Have we evolved very far?”
Artwork: "Naturally Mindful" by Anthony Her