This post is a follow up to 5 Western Philosophies You Might Not Know About, which saw relative success. The point of these articles is to provide the reader a chance to see the world in a different light. They are at least an attempt to show how even simple concepts can contain complicated arguments.
When I started my first article of this series, I wanted to write about a few different schools of philosophy. Due to time constraints, I had to downsize the list but made sure to save them for later. The list below contains philosophies that I have found interesting or that my readers have suggested I cover.
- Optimism vs Optimalism
In philosophy, Optimism is the idea that the universe is the best outcome out of of all possible other. Voltaire argued the contrary, citing the various horrors of his time. How could a world that is the best of all other outcomes contain horrors such as mass starvation? Gottfried Leibniz, a great thinker of the 17th and 18th century, posed the following argument.
He first posed the definition of God: “God is omnipotent and omniscient and benevolent and the free creator of the world.” He then offered up the premise that there are other possible worlds that could have been. If we suppose that this world is not the best of all possible worlds then all logical conclusions violate the initial definition of God. If there is a better possible world out there, then God had the power to make it so. So, this world that we live in is the best of all possible worlds.
Now, that conclusion can be fine for some. But the argument posed by Leibniz first supposes the existence of God, which for agnostics and atheists alike is unsatisfactory. Optimalism offers up a similar conclusion to optimism. Optimalism holds that this universe exists only because it is better than all the alternatives. This philosophy excludes the existence of a deity as irrelevant.
Phenomenalism holds that physical objects do not exist as things but only as sensory stimuli. One could also call this sensory stimuli “perceptual phenomena”. Some “phenomenalists” state god is the reason that the things we perceive remain constantly the same. God is omnipotent and all-seeing can perceive all objects in existence. This perception of God’s keeps these perceptual phenomena constant.
I feel where things often get confusing is in German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s account of “epistemological phenomenalism”. Kant argued that the brain forms the basis of what one experiences. Kant argued that the purpose of this function is so that all of humankind can share certain integral features. The consequence of this thought was that the human experience is alway in the realm of the Phenomena. This meant that we don’t have access to the things themselves but only the sensory experiences. For more on this search for Noumena
Pragmatism is the first American-bred school of philosophy. Those who first contributed to what is now pragmatism, are Harvard educated. These Harvard educated people were in an organization called “The Metaphysical Club”.
Pragmatism holds that an idea or claim is true if it works. This means that if one were a pragmatist they would reject calling things right or wrong based on argument. They would instead call it true as long as it has functionality. This also meant that pragmatists rejected ideas with no functionality in the concrete world. Pragmatism has influenced field beyond philosophy including law and education.
You can look at pragmatist philosophy as a way to dispel fruitless metaphysical banter. To the pragmatist, truth only matters if it can have a practical difference.
This list completes my short series of Western Philosophies. There are plenty of schools that I’ve left out, some intentional and some not. Some of the more obvious ones missing i.e stoicism, are ones that I plan on making a separate article on.
It is important to keep in mind through some advice from pragmatism. Studying philosophy can be fun but you should use philosophy different when seeking self improvement. In this case you should mine philosophy should for functional uses; for ways to improve how you think . Then when we have free time we can get back to studying again.
If you want me to cover terms or other schools of philosophy (or anything else) feel free to leave it in the comments.