Saturday, January 16, 2010
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” This was Ludwig Wittgenstein’s position on what language is all about. Language gives shape to reality, because through language we come to comprehend and understand reality.
As I was trying to decipher my answer to the question – How did my native language allowed me to interpret my life? – I felt for a moment bewildered because I couldn’t really grasp the relevance of my native language to my dispositions in life. I am a true blue Kapampangan and I speak the Kapampangan language, but still I could not really respond to the question that much because I have really taken for granted studying the language because I thought being a speaker need not further studies of the language.
What I know about Pampanga is that it is the culinary center of the country, and the home for the best lantern makers. The funny thing is that I thought of starting my reflection with the gastronomic delights of the Kapampangans that shaped up my interpretation of life, which is basically enjoyment and satisfaction. Until I came to know that the Kapampangan word “mangan” or eat in English is the same term used by Pangasinenses and Ilocanos alike. I felt that the culture of eating is not exclusively Kapampangan, but a “Filipino Tradition”; so I tried to look for certain experiences which are uniquely Kapampangan.
I found out that the language is spoken not only in Pampanga but also in some of the towns of Tarlac, Bataan, Bulacan, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Zambales, or in other words it is practically spoken in most parts of Central Luzon. The language is also called Pampango and Pampangueno. It is also called “Amanung Sisuan” or in literal translation it means “breastfed language” which is synonymous to the phrase “native language”. The word Kapampangan is said to be derived from the word “pampang” which means “river bank”, because when the Spaniards came, the people lived beside the Rio Grande de Pampanga or the Pampanga River and its tributaries. This is where I would start my reflection, as when I was a child my mother recounted that we lived beside a river tributary. The fondest memory would necessarily involve nature (kalikasan), for both of my grandparents were farmers and so their children need to help in the fields. As told by my parents they used to climb trees and take a bath on water pumps. From their stories, greeneries dominate their place then.
Months after I was born, Mt Pinatubo erupted devastating the whole of Pampanga. Lava flowed down the slopes covering three fourths of the province, leaving 800 people killed and families relocated. Though still a baby, I felt the impact of the catastrophe by the stories that my parents have told me as I was growing up. They literally saved only their lives, leaving their houses and livelihood. They experienced how hard it is to just rely on ”dole-outs” given by the government and private groups. This story is usually narrated by my parents especially when we want something badly and we can’t buy it because of financial reasons, and the story’s lesson seems to be “contentment” of what we have. The story of the eruption is one of the most astounding disasters that affected the whole of the province, in its history. Kapampangans were challenged by mother nature to stand up after stumbling down.
As I was growing up, we were relocated to a vacant lot at the back of a primary school and we‘re given the right to till a portion of that land. I could remember riding the carabao with my ingkung (grandfather), in times of planting rice in the field. It is usually muddy and after every parcel of land covered by rice seedlings; me and my cousins usually throw at each other balls of mud. It was fun and enjoyable as I reminisce such memories. Overall, this part of my life as a Kapampangan highlighted our dependence on the soil that we till. The earth became the provider of our livelihood and subsistence. It became the source of our survival.
Danum at Angin
(Water and Air)
Until there came a time that a typhoon struck our place devastating the crops my grandparents and parents have invested into, thus leading to the inundation of our place. Our nipa hut then was dilapidated and I could still remember that night when I was crying because everyone is panicking and soaking wet. Another calamity which has changed the course of our lives.
This resulted to a relocation to another town, where we currently reside. It was the project for the victims of the Mt. Pinatubo Eruption. The community was very different from that which I am used to. Everything was cemented, and there were no trees. There were no fields to even speak of. It is a place which seeks industrialization for its cityhood. This is a sudden shift from my perspective because as a child I have been closed to nature. Instead of trees, there were high rise buildings; and instead of carabaos and horses, there were cars.
Api, Gabun, Danum, Angin, and Pamagbayu were the elements of which Ancient Philosophers like Thales, Anaximenes, and Heraclitus, had used to explain that which constitute the universe. Through the Kapampangan language I had since birth, being that it’s my “breastfed” language, I was able to concretize reality and interpret it in such a way that it can be meaningful to all those who encounter the same experiences I have. Like the ever- flowing Pampanga River, I was brought up to adapt to the changes that happens around me. Resilience could also be one of the things that my language had taught me. For in every events of my life I was able to become stronger even in the face of storms.
This paper made me realize the value of the Kapampangan language in the shaping of my being, which according to some scholars is facing extinction because most Kapampangan youth speaks Tagalog and English, nowadays. I think that the Kapampangan language played a pivotal role to my identity. Thus if I lose our language, it is tantamount to losing our identity as Kapampangans. More than the common land, the common history, and the common traditions, it is the common language which for Pampanga is Kapampangan, which would truly define, unite and lead us to a common goal.
The “Cratylus” is one of the dialogues of Plato which is concerned with the correctness of names. Its characters include Socrates, Hermogenes, and Cratylus; each of whom having their own points of view regarding the abovementioned idea. Hermogenes postulates that the correctness of names is by convention or agreement, while Cratylus speaks of names as natural and not conventional. The starting point of the dialogue is when both Hermogenes and Cratylus decided to consult Socrates about their disagreement. Hermogenes presented his arguments against Cratylus by explaining that there is no necessary connection between the names and the nature of the things which are named. He cited the examples of the differences in the names given by the Hellenes and the Barbarians for the same things; and the changes made in the names of slaves which he further elaborated by saying that in the case of the slave: “the newly imposed name is as good as the old, for there is no name given by nature”. Thus, all names are products of convention and the habit of the users, and that the name of each thing is only that which anyone wants to call such thing. Socrates, on the other hand, tried to verify such claims by pointing out a series of logical questions and analogies. He started by asking: “Suppose I call a man a horse, and a horse a man, you mean a man or a horse would be rightly called as such?” Then, he further asked if there are true and false propositions, which Hermogenes agreed with. This question led to Socrates’ claim that indeed there are also true and false names. This part of the dialogue could be analogous with the issue on relativism because ultimately, it resulted to the disclaiming of the concept of relativism as seen in Protagoras’ claim that man is the measure of all things and that things appear to a person as what he perceives them to be. Names for Hermogenes are relative being that they are given on the basis of how one wants to call any thing, thus, the dilemma of having right and wrong names is undermined, for names are subjectively given. This was refuted by Socrates through his logical analogy of how truth and falsity is independent from individual perception, and how the assignment of the right names is independent to individual perception, which he further strengthened through his example of what a shuttle (weaving instrument) and an awl (instrument for piercing) are, how they differ, and as names for something, how do they represent the instruments themselves. In the end, Hermogenes started to doubt his propositions because of what Socrates had presented to him. The next issue is whether such a natural way of naming is really possible especially considering that men are the ones who act like legislators, so there is really no connection on how the right names be achieved when anyone could name a thing to begin with. This was answered by Socrates by asking: “Is every man a carpenter or the skilled only?” Hermogenes answered that carpenters are only those who are skilled in carpentry. Thus, says Socrates, not every man is able to give a name, but only the makers of names, these are the legislators. These makers of names should know how to put the true natural names of a thing into a phoneme or a syllable. In the case of the Hellenes and Barbarians, which depicts the differences in the languages we use, names for the same things do not necessarily mean that they must have the same sound, but at least the essence of the phonemes or the syllables that will be used be consistent to the things which are named. As in the case given in the dialogue, the more correct name for Hector’s son if it be Astyanax or Scamandrius was questioned. These differences in naming would be resolved if the sounds or syllables used be correct especially in consideration of the thing being named. This was further elaborated by Socrates’ and Hermogenes’ discussion on how the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology were named in accordance with their essence as Beings and what you call their delegated “specialization” as immortals. Further reading of other texts actually distinguishes Socrates’ claims from that of Cratylus’ especially on the matter concerning the correctness of names; though both adheres to the natural way of naming things, for Cratylus all names are assigned correctly, while Socrates would concede to the idea that though there are no incorrect names, the assignment of names may be made either correctly or incorrectly.
Friday, September 11, 2009
John Locke tries to discredit the writings of Sir Robert Filmer which justify the rule of King William. Locke refutes Filmer's concept of the Divine Right, a political and religious doctrine of royal absolutism.
In the first chapter of the Treatise, Locke presents his counter- arguments against the claims of Sir Robert Filmer's writings. His contentions circulate in the very idea that a sovereign was not given absolute authority over his subjects and that his children cannot inherit this authority, by using Adam, which is considered as the universal father. According to Locke, it follows then that no one can claim rights since it is impossible to identify Adam's heirs today. He goes further by defining political power as the right to create laws for the protection and regulation of property in accordance to public good.
Locke characterizes the state of man as a state of equality in which no one has power over another, and all possess freedom. However, this freedom does not mean that everyone has an equal right to abuse others. He safeguards such notion by saying that everyone in the state of nature is bound by a natural law. Locke also posits that the proof of this natural law lies in the very nature of the human person act reasonably. Locke concludes by saying that people are in a state of nature until a compact or an agreement among them, which thus should make them members of a political society.
In the third chapter, Locke starts by defining war as a state of "enmity and destruction" caused by one person's pre-meditated attempts against others’ lives. The law of self-preservation dictates that a person may kill another person only in self-defense. This definition is based upon the assumption that any aggression by one person against another may constitute a challenge to that person's freedom. Locke then distinguishes the differences between the state of nature and the state of war. He starts by saying that the state of nature involves people living together, governed by reason, without a common superior. While the state of war occurs when people employ force upon other people, without a common authority. But Locke qualifies that there are some cases when war is justified, as in the presence of a common authority that fails to act justly, the only possible state is a state of war, because the faulty adjudicating power is in itself a violation of the natural law. It is due to these instances why people enter into society - that is to avoid the state of war.
Locke defines natural liberty as a person's right to act in accordance with the natural law, while he defines social liberty as the right to be under no legislative power other than that founded by the consent of the commonwealth, functioning for the common good. Locke bases his ideas about slavery from the idea of freedom from arbitrary and absolute power. Thus, no one is enlisted into slavery by birth. So, the only possible state of slavery is in the state of war, between a lawful conqueror and a captive, when the captive has been forced into obedience. In this chapter, Locke takes note of the flight of the Jews.
In the fifth chapter, Locke starts by stating that by natural reason and by Biblical understanding thereof, the earth may be considered as the property of all people in their common usage for their survival and benefit. He tries then to justify individual property by saying that each person owns his or her own body, and all the labor that they perform with the body. So, when people mix their own labor, their own property, to an object, that object becomes their own because they have utilized with it their labor. This was concretized through the analogy of picking apples. But Locke also places a bound on this type of acquisition that is, a person may only acquire as many things in this way as he or she can reasonably use to their advantage. Locke finishes this chapter by tracing the origin of money. He notes that all useful goods such as food, clothing, shelter, etc. are generally of short life span. However, if one collects too many an object (i.e. apples), one can then trade them for other goods with someone who has too many of those, thus, barter was developed. Money fulfills the need for an imperishable valuation of worth which is rooted in the property of labor.
The next chapter would speak of the equal right to freedom accorded to everyone. But Locke qualifies by saying that because people are born without reason, the tool that people use to survive in both the state of nature and society is the guidance of their parents. For Locke, parental power extends until the child is grown old enough to function independently within the society. Likewise, in the commonwealth one’s age attributes the responsibilities and duties persons are delegated. As for an adult who reaches this age of readiness. Reason then leads to personal freedom. Locke faces the problem of equating monarchical power with paternal power. He starts off by saying that political power and paternal power are totally different. People are free of paternal power when they are old enough to function as individuals; but political power is built on wholly different foundations.
The seventh chapter begins with Locke's description of the first society, which is a conjugal society between a man and a woman. From here, Locke would reiterate his description of civil society as a united body of individuals under the power of an executive that protects their property and well being, and designs legislation to govern their behavior. Thus, the commonwealth combines the legislative power to make laws and the executive power to enforce laws, though the agreement of the people at large. Locke ends the chapter with a description of all the ways in which absolute monarchy violates these principles of freedom, liberty and estate. Absolute monarchy places no common authority over all. Since the monarch can impinge on people's property and welfare without fear of retribution, the people lack the comfort, protection, and incentive to contribute to the good of the commonwealth. To prevent such an imbalance of power, the legislature and executive must be placed in a collective body. Thus, no individual is exempted from or above the laws of the commonwealth.
Locke starts the next chapter by arguing that the factor which governs the civil society must be the majority, this is due to practical reasons. By entering into the civil society, the person submits him or herself to the majority, and agrees to follow the rules and decisions of the majority. However, even in this situation, the establishment of government is by consent, as it must be to ensure the peaceful formation of all civil societies. Since people are all born under some government, they are not in fact free and at liberty to unite together to change that government. Locke's response is that, although someone may bind himself to a given government, he cannot bind his children; they are born free and must make the decision about whether to ally themselves with their parents' government. Once again, consent makes any one a member of any commonwealth.
In the succeeding chapters, Locke explains why people would give up their natural freedom to enter into society. For him, the end or goal of those who consent is to assure the protection of their property. The majority, upon entering into a commonwealth, get to choose their form of government. Locke presents different forms of commonwealth like democracy where people retain the legislative powers for themselves, an oligarchy where they submit that legislative power to a few selected persons, or a monarchy where they give power to a single person. The majority always has the power to change types of government. The placement of legislative power defines the type of government. Locke then notes that by "commonwealth" he does not particularly mean democracy, rather he uses the term to underscore the point that the community, regardless of its form of government, exists for the commonwealth, for the good of all. Locke has identified legislative power as the most important part of the government. The legislative power is the preservation of the society. Every member of society must adhere to the laws laid down by the legislative body. Though there are limits to the power of the legislature. The first is that the legislature must be governed by fixed, promulgated and established laws that apply equally to everyone; secondly, that these laws must be designed solely for the good of the people; and lastly, that the legislature must not raise taxes on the property of the people without the latter’s consent.
Locke also notes that the executive, on the other hand, must always be active, because the laws that the legislature passes must always be enforced. For this practical reason, the executive and legislative powers should be separated. Locke then moves on to discuss the international character of his civil state. All of the individuals forming the civil state and their government come together to form a single body, and this body is in a state of nature with respect to other states; in other words, international relations are governed by natural law. Locke names this the federative power, the natural power in charge of the state's international relations, and notes that it is often conjoined with the executive power, which manages the society within.
In chapter thirteen, Locke begins with a reminder that, even if high powers are relegated to legislature, the people are still supreme over all, and they have the power to remove or change the legislation as they deem best. Locke notes that the executive's power over the legislature does not imply that it controls the legislature. First, if the executive impedes the meeting and acting of the legislative when it is required, this constitutes an act of war against the people, since they have a right to the protection and work of that body when the state requires it.
Locke also discusses the basic differences of paternal power is power that parents have over their children until they reach the age of reason. Political power is the power that each individual in a society consents to submit to the commonwealth for the protection of their property. While despotical power is absolute, arbitrary power of one person to take the life and property of another against their will. Thus, nature gives parents paternal power, consent yields political power to the commonwealth, and forfeiture gives a tyrant despotical power over his subjects.
Locke also gives account to usurpation, which Locke describes as domestic conquest. Usurpation is simply a change of leadership, not of the forms of rules and government, and is not right unless sanctioned by the people. A usurper has no just right to the power he has taken until the people freely confirm him as a leader.
Of the Dissolution of the Government; Chapter XIX, Second TreatiseLocke defines tyranny as the exercise of power beyond right. A just leader is bound by the laws of the legislative and works for the people, whereas a tyrant breaks the laws and acts on his own behalf. Finally, “when the government is dissolved, the people are free to reform the legislative in order to re-create a civil state that works in their best interest before they fall under tyrannical rule”.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
In the first chapter of the Enquiry, Hume distinguishes two different “species” of philosophical thinking which contribute to the variations of human understanding. The first was that philosophy which he described as “easy and obvious”, especially in terms of treating the subject which serves as a guide for man and his behavior. This philosophy usually utilizes poetry and eloquence, in such manner that it becomes fitting to please the imagination and engage to affections and emotions. This species of philosophy tries to treat our manners or behaviors. Moreover, this species tries to treat our manners by drawing on examples from common life, and so making us feel the difference of vice and virtue. Thus, this philosophy both excites and at the same time regulates our behavior which would lead us to fully attaining our goals in life. Hume associates this philosophy with Cicero, La Bruyere, and Addison as represented in their contentions that common-sense is more beautiful and less prone to error.
On the other hand, Hume contrasted the abovementioned with that he philosophy which he described as “accurate and abstract”, usually held by those men who claim to be “rational”. More than guiding our sentiments, this philosophy seeks to widen our understanding of the principles that govern our behavior. Moreover, rather than emphasizing our reliance to common-sense, this philosophy upholds abstract reasoning. Nonetheless, be that as it may, Hume says that error in this field is common because of its detachment with reality, sometimes. This species of philosophy is usually associated with thinkers such as Aristotle, Malebranche, and Locke.
Although it may seem that Hume characterizes the former as more viable. He still suggests that the latter should not be entirely disregarded for he advocates that the most perfect character of philosophy lies between the two extremes. We are reasonable beings, so we aspire for scientific knowledge.
Another human dimension would be that we are also social and active beings - that is we devote our life to action. Hume believes that the “easy and obvious” philosophy has its virtues, especially in terms of its rigor to have a face-to-face encounter with reality, while the “accurate and abstract” philosophy seeks to achieve perfection and to show an exact analysis of human understanding. This is keeping faithful to what Hume said, that is – “To solve the problem regarding “abstruse questions” is to enquire seriously into the nature of human understanding”.
Hume further says that the mind seems to possess wife freedom insofar as it can conceive the most unnatural images or ideas. In his analysis, the contents of the mind can be reduced to the materials given to us by sense experiences which Hume termed as “perceptions”. These perceptions of the mind take two classifications which Hume distinguished as “impressions” – vivid perceptions and “ideas” – copies derived from perceptions. Impression let us comprehend what we hear, see, feel, love, hate, desire, or will. To feel pain is an impression, while the memory of this feeling is an idea. Besides merely distinguishing the two, Hume argues that without these impressions, there can be no ideas.
He also discussed the possibility of having an idea which does not correspond to any impression. He calls this process, “association of ideas”. For instance, if we imagine a gold mountain, we are only compounding the idea of a mountain and the idea of gold. Hume further discusses the possibility of having ideas from other ideas. Moreover, Hume lays-out three principles by which ideas might be associated. These are: a) resemblance; b) contiguity in time and place; and c) cause and effect. From here, Hume argues that with these principles, one cannot arrive at certitude because of the flaws that may be derived from them.
Hume also tackles human understanding in terms of clearing ideas such as “relations of ideas” and “matters of fact” He says that “relations of ideas” are apriori and indestructible ideas. These include logically true statements such as those in the sciences of geometry, algebra, arithmetic and mathematics. In such a way that the denial of which implies a contradiction. While “matters of fact” deal with experience, which are learned aposteriori, and can be denied without fear of contradiction. Hume then suggests that we know matters of fact about unobserved things by way of “causality”. Hume tries to ask how we know the principle of cause and effect, and he suggests that usually infer similarities between the past and the future but there is no form of reasoning that can confirm these, so they may be regarded as mere possibilities. Hume tells us that matters of fact are not founded on reason, but are based on the habituation of custom and tradition.
From the abovementioned discussions, Hume was able to deduce that the passion for philosophy determines our rigor in experience based from experience. For Hume, there is no solid foundation why we should reason according to cause and effect. We cannot sense causation. Hume’s answer to the claim that life would be an unintelligible place of unconnected events is that our inductive reasoning regarding caused events are derived from customization and not from understanding based on reason. For Hume the very idea of causality is suspect, and he approaches the problem by asking the question of the origin of the idea of causality. Since ideas are copies of impressions, Hume asks what impression gives us the idea of causality. For him no impression corresponds to this idea. It must be said that the reason why we have this idea, is that causality arises in the mind when we habitually accept certain relations between objects without introspection. When we speak of cause and effect, we mean to say that A causes B. Experience furnishes other relations like, first, there is a relation of contiguity in time and place, for A and B are always close together, and secondly, there is resemblance between A and B for A always is and almost the same with B. This would bring about the very idea of necessary connections.
But for Hume, neither of the abovementioned was really explained, because there seems to be a gap, especially when we consider objects individually. No amount of observation can ever tell us that when we mix hydrogen and oxygen, it will necessarily give us water. So experience only tell us the existence of one object from another. Thus, causality is not a quality in objects we observe, but it is just the product of our habit of association in the mind we produce.
Next, Hume suggests that necessary connection, be it in matter or human behavior, is not founded on solid grounds, but a mere conglomeration of our imaginations. Hume also discusses human nature and the laws that govern it. People can be understood to behave in accordance with strict laws and principles that we might claim to understand. Our entire behavior is directed by certain expectations of the behaviors of others. An example would be that if Juan would not till his land and plant rice, if he knows that men will just rob his harvests. Liberty or free-will, then, does not depend on actions being disconnected from their motives; rather it means simply that actions depend on determinations of the will. Liberty, then, should be contrasted with constraint, the inability to obey one’s own will rather than with necessity. Hume suggests that we might look upon these motives as our causes of our actions. But following a compatibilitist perspective, free-will is reconciled with the moral practice, insofar as the spectator, judges our actions.
Hume gives account for a possible objection relating to God as the author of all human acts. For him, the very error of making God as the author of all human acts, makes him worthy of not only praise but also blame for that matter because of the problem of evil and suffering. Hume suggests that this is a result of our analogy – linking similar causes and effects.
Hume further argues that we don’t have enough reason to believe in miracles. Miracles should not be considered as the foundations of religions. Miracles have no reasonable ground to stand on because they are derived from the testimonies of others who claim to have witnessed such, so we should treat them with less reliability. All these bizarre phenomena are mere imaginations or probabilities. On the other hand, Hume also notes that miracles are violations of the law of nature. He provided a number of reasons for miracles’ mere probability. “First, no miracle is supported by trustworthy testimonies of people so as to rule out the possibility of fallibility. Next, while we should normally believe that which most closely accords itself with past experience, the sensations of surprise and wonder often lead us to unreasonable beliefs. Third, Hume remarks that most reports of miraculous events occur among barbaric or ignorant people, who may not be sophisticated enough to disbelieve fabricated testimonies. And lastly, since every religion claims the veracity of its own miracles as against the miracles of every other religion, the evidence of all other religions opposes the evidence in favor of a miracle in any one particular religion.” So for Hume, there is no rational justification for miracles and he suggests that miracles are creative works of fabricators.
“I deny a providence, you say, and Supreme Governor of the world who guides the course of events, and punishes the vicious with disappointment, and reward virtuous with honor and success, in all their undertakings.”
Hume relates a conversation with a confidant, regarding the clash of religious certainty and speculative philosophy. He suggest that philosophy in Ancient Greece and Rome was far better because of secular philosophy. He notes Epicurus, known for discrediting religious beliefs. Religious philosophy argues for God's existence based on the argument from design. It states that a certain order in the universe that could not have arisen from mere accident, and so infers the existence of God as an ordering principle.
We can perhaps infer God's existence from what we observe in the world, but we cannot then infer some greater design or perfection in the world from our inference of God's existence. Philosophers who claim to do so proceed not from reason but from imagination. He argues that there seems to be an error in using analogy of human terms and that of God. He means that it is a sign that we anthropomorphized God. The inference of the existence of God is singular in nature, and thus the inference might be regarded with some suspicion.
In the last chapter, Hume differentiated two kinds of speculative philosophy which he called antecedent and consequent, both of which come in an extreme and a moderate form. He identifies the extreme form of skepticism with the universal doubt, which doubts all opinions and even the basic idea of the sense perception. No claim is acceptable to the Cartesian skepticism unless that indubitable principle.
Hume suggests that there is no indubitable principle that is so self-evident as to be beyond doubt, and second, even if there were such a first principle, we couldn't advance beyond it for the reason that we are limited. The skepticism of the Enquiry has been instead a kind of consequent skepticism that questions our habitual judgments by doubting the grounds on which they become more secured. We are led by what our senses report to us as an accurate representation of this external world. However, not only do our senses change as we move about in the world, but there are cases where our senses deceive us entirely. We can only justify our belief in an external world through experience, but experience cannot take us beyond the very perceptions that we are calling into doubt. Thus, Hume concludes, our belief in an external world is not rationally justified. So he poses that the thing we can do for it to be mitigated is through a constant recognition that reasoning can go astray and judgments should never be absolute. So we have to be extra-careful.