3 Other Western Philosophies You Might Not Know About


   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.

  1. 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.
  2. Phenomenalism

      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 
  3. Pragmatism
      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.

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Phenomenalism http://www.iep.utm.edu/pragmati/#SH1b


28 thoughts on “3 Other Western Philosophies You Might Not Know About

  1. Interesting 🙂 In my opinion, a good philosophy to cover would be Platonism and Neo-Platonism. It would tie into the optimalism, by offering a different (read “more comprehensive” definition of God, without contradicting the more usual one. Also, thank you for taking the time to read one of my rambles and following me 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve always found Leibniz’s argument to be the most elegant among the similar ones of his contemporaries, but what bugs me about it is that it rests on an unprovable premise (like you said,the existence of a god, not to mention the nature of that god which is, likewise, unprovable).

    What interests me about your definition of Optimalism is the idea of “better” or “best” which I feel like is is intuitive in this context, but confounded a little when you look at it through the lens of Conceptualism that you talked about in your previous philosophy post, I guess primarily because you could argue that that nature of the Universe, its goodness or its best-ness (which, here, determines whether it does or doesn’t exist), is sort of confined by the parameters of the mind, if that makes sense (I’m kinda thinking as I type, sorry…). So for that to function otherwise, I feel like your Forms would lean more Platonic than Aristotelian ’cause the Universe can and has existed without us, so you’re you’re left with (best) ~ (~best), with both (best) and (~best) having to exist independently of the mind. But I think Plato might’ve rejected (~best) as a Form to begin with. Again, thinking as I type, this is a little messy… But in the case of Optimalism here, would (~best) = nonexistence? ‘Cause maybe Leibniz would view (~best) as the worst possible of all worlds, rather than nonexistence? (Tangentially, there’s a Calvin and Hobbes snowman called “The Torment Of Existence Weighed Against The Horror Of Nonbeing” which is amazing and hilarious and prob my favorite of the snowmen.) What do you think?

    I never studied Conceptualism as an independent topic – just as it came up via certain philosophers – so this is mostly just me running around the playground right now. Neat stuff! Now I gotta actually read the 2nd and 3rd parts of the post…diggin’ it a bunch so far!


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  3. Dear Austin,
    Thank you for your update!

    1. Optimism
    Vlotaire has been brought up in Hong Kong media lately. As a Christian, I would like to remind readers that the best possible world was created: paradise (Adam and Eve), and the best possible world is to come (heaven). In the meantime, this is the “best”, though by no means *good*, considering all the sins and postpondment we are living with.

    The question of suffering rightfully remains.

    2. Phenomentalism
    I see that they are really struggling to explain an objective reality.
    However, with colourblindness and pragmatism in mind:

    A. The Chinese philosopher with “The Happiness of Fish”
    We can never prove that we 100% comprehend the experience and understanding of that another person, though we can get fairly close.

    B. Does it matter?
    As long as we exchange empathy and get things done, what’s the relevant difference between true understanding and functional understanding?

    Liked by 1 person

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