Philosophy Assignment: Case Analysis Based On Philosophical Concepts
Task: Question: Answer all the four questions to complete the philosophy assignment: Question 1: You have the opportunity to go back in time to stop a murder. However, in order to do so, you have no choice but to kill the murderer yourself. Putting aside any other problems with time travel, and just assessing the particular ethical dimension of killing in order to stop a murder, contrast a Kantian and a Nietzschean take on the matter, and argue for one as your actual position.
Suggestions: The Kantian perspective: you cannot kill to stop a murderer (Kant does, in fact, allow for killing in self defence but the argument from self defence is fairly complex and plus, we haven’t covered it in class. So, you’ll have to accept that murder is for Kant against the Categorical Imperative, end of story). In this sense, the Kantian perspective is the less interesting one since it is less nuanced. For Kant, anything which cannot be turned into a universal moral law cannot be considered moral, no exceptions. The Nietzschean perspective: Nietzsche would probably be all right with killing a murder as long as it is done in the name of affirming life and not out of sense of some type of duty which requires self-sacrifice and possibly, self-denial. You need to explain, however, what would motivate both Kant and Nietzsche to suggest what they suggest (it’s not enough to say it, you have to actually explain it!). As for choosing your own position, it will depend on how you understand ‘to kill in order to stop a murder’. You can get creative and try to play with different possibilities here: what kind of murder, who is the murderer, etc.
Question 2: Friedrich Nietzsche, in Beyond Good and Evil, makes a distinction between what he claims are the two 'types' of morality. Saying that there are “certain traits regularly recurring together”, he proceeds to describe them, and classifies previous systems of morality into those categories. What are the two types Describe them. Finally, using examples from (a) previous theorist(s) in the course, make an argument either for or against Nietzsche's distinction.
Suggestions: the two types of morality are ‘slave’ and ‘master’ morality. Note that when you compare Nietzsche, you have to compare him to someone who’s lived earlier than him (so, comparing him to Sartre or de Beauvoir wouldn’t work.) Possible points of comparison: Aristotle, Plato, Machiavelli, or Kant, of course. I suggest you pick someone whose moral theory we’ve studied. But this doesn’t exclude the possibility of you getting creative (in other words, you could pick someone who has not written on morality directly). Then ask yourself this: would Aristotle, or whoever else you pick, accept Nietzsche’s theory of morality Aristotle, for example, probably wouldn’t accept it. Why? For Aristotle, for example, community is very important. So, the isolated individual cannot possibly survive on his/her own. After the analysis, you’ll have to say whether you think that Nietzsche can sustain the morality that he proposes, or not. Suggestions in favor of his morality: the individual has only him or herself and his or her life power/will to power, so it makes sense that everyone would want to be a master of their own destiny, etc. Suggestions against his morality: it leads to extreme individualism.
Question 3: In Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre writes, “And at the point of departure there cannot be any other truth than this, I think, therefore I am, which is the absolute truth of consciousness as it attains to itself. Every theory which begins with man, outside of this moment of self-attainment, is a theory which thereby suppresses the truth, for outside of the Cartesian cogito, all objects are no more than probable, and any doctrine of probabilities which is not attached to a truth will crumble into nothing.” Explain how Sartre understands and subsequently, modifies, Descartes’ cogito argument. Why does Sartre do that? In other words, why is Sartre not entirely happy with the way Descartes develops the cogito argument? And finally, if Descartes were to respond to Sartre’s modified understanding of the cogito argument, would Descartes agree with it or not?
Suggestions: in order to answer the question, you have to read carefully the passages that lead to the quoted sentence above, as well as the paragraph that follows it. Sartre’s modification of the cogito argument has to do with the emphasis on self-awareness as opposed to on the process of thinking as Sartre interpreted the original argument to be. It also has to do with Sartre’s preoccupation with the place of the other in one’s self-awareness. As for how Descartes would have responded to it, it could go either way, depending on how you interpret the original cogito argument. You just have to go with how you understand the original cogito argument.
Question 4: In the Introduction to The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir writes, “She is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute – she is the Other.” Explain what de Beauvoir means by the statement that woman is the other. (As part of your answer you should explain what he dynamics between the One and the Other is.) Then explain what solution to the woman not being the ‘other’ she proposes.
Suggestions: again, this question is based off the text. Keep in mind two things: for de Beauvoir the dichotomy one-other in principle is not a problem, but when it comes to the two genders (male and female), it becomes a problem in the sense that the one becomes the ideal, the absolute, the paradigm, the privileged and the other becomes the relative and secondary, the unimportant. Don’t forget that her solution is what she calls “existentialist ethics” which preaches that women should not seek happiness but liberty.
According to Friedrich Nietzsche, it is stated herein philosophy assignment that society often lives up from unfavorable conditions which only makes it stronger. The occurrence of murder is one such thing where the crime is committed against someone. Nietzsche also emphasizes the role of hardships and their response to shaping the world. It means if someone is able to overcome the hardships, then they become stronger while others being affected by it become weak and vulnerable. So, in deciding from the perspectives of Nietzsche, the murder should continue to happen because that will give a certain and specific message to people around there to be cautious and careful. By this, they will learn the importance of comprehending the surroundings. Nietzsche also emphasizes the concept of a higher power that pushes people to do different kinds of activities. Similarly, the murder is carried out in the thirst for one such power (Nietzsche, 2000). According to Kant, cognition plays a crucial role in determining the course of action. Kant has defined analytical judgement to rise from the conceptual understanding of something. Saying that it will imply a direct impact on decisions made while travelling in the past. Since saving someone from murder is the right thing to do as it would save a life but at the same time committing that very act makes one no different. Kant proclaimed about the limitation of good but goodwill plays an important role in character building (Hatfield, 2004). I believe that the course of action being taken must not be disturbed. I would definitely save myself or prevent the murder in the case of any danger coming upon me in self - defense. It is always directed that people save someone from being hurt or such as murder only when they are affected by it. It’s their common instinct that rises from natural cognition as emphasized by Nietzsche. There is no set distinction on ethical truth as it is all about perspective. One could argue the objective of an ethical decision is to prevent the suffering and misery of someone and saving someone from murder is an act of compassion but at the same time killing the murderer myself will embark on my consciousness. As the murderer is doing an act of crime but my actions of killing him will be a crime too. An act of murder in defence is not justifiable as it can be seen in the modern world that we always condemn an act of barbarism even in self - defense or protest. Thus, in a circumstantial scenario, one could only murder someone if their life is threatened as it points to the survival instincts of an individual. So, I won’t commit murder to prevent murder unless I am threatened with my life.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher whose work had a great influence on modern intellectual history. Nietzsche is very well known for his thoughts on morality, which is master morality and slave morality. According to Nietzsche, the masters are powerful and wealthy and they are considered good. On the contrary, the slaves are the opposite of masters and are considered poor and weak. They are portrayed as bad as opposed to masters who are considered good. The morality of a man, who succeeds god after his death, is known as master morality. Master morality was viewed as valuing things like greatness, richness, and ambition. The master morality had very few followers since those who are themselves powerful and portray strength favoured it. They did not wish to follow the already made rules and wish to follow new life routes in life which might not be widely accepted by others.
On the other hand, showed hatred towards the strength that the masters possess and were very satisfied with their weak position. Nietzsche believed that slave morality is a moral system, which required the submission of others for the good of others. The slaves tried to free themselves from the evils of the masters and hence they turned around their moral values as opposed to their masters and who were then considered evil. The good qualities of the slave - like sympathy, humanity and kindness were then seen and the powerful and aggressive masters were then considered dangerous. This was one of the slave revolts where slaves do not focus on strength but the terror of the master and hence the masters are considered evil. According to Nietzsche, evil was described as powerful, wealthy, and attractive and good was left to the slave who was weak and downtrodden. Philosopher Nietzsche supported master morality as they were considered noble. A noble person was considered ambitious and goal-oriented which are the traits of the master. Kant characterizes such mentality as ‘Categorical Imperative’ which refers to adapting rationality over desires. Thus, the desire could be to murder the murderer and save the person who is going to be murdered. But rationality and ethics will prevent the person from doing such a thing (Ameriks and Clarke, 2000). The distinction between slave and morality from Nietzsche to Plato varies on multiple fronts. First thing, during Plato or in his works, there wasn’t much discussion on slavery, rather there was mention of freemen. Freeman is another form of people where they have been raised from slavery. Though Plato considered slavery as a natural reason that is it was a deficiency in people. Plato has a circumstantial opinion about slavery but he hasn’t written much on it. Even his disciple Aristotle believed that slavery is a natural thing. Both of the philosophers considered the birth of an individual a chance of God. This means if someone is born in a rich family out of chance deserves to live a better life or the life of mastery while someone being born in a poor family continues to live in those circumstances because they were bound to. Nietzsche was no different in stating the importance of slavery. He meant that slavery is essential for allowing human society to flourish because all the miniature tasks that contribute as a foundation stone of society is built by slaves (Bloom and Kirsch, 1968).
Sartre did not favour the cogito argument made by Descartes. Sartre emphasizes the importance of thinking which he believes comes before existing. Sartre has modified the cogito argument and almost reversed it. He implied with his statement that when humans realize their existence, then they can think. Sartre has also made sure that by modifying the argument of Descartes, it does not make humans any materialistic objects as our existence is primary identification and then we can think. Sartre has also defined the role of others in his statement. As the notion of ‘I’ in thinking also marks the other individuals who have their own ‘I’s and they must be aware of themselves allowing them to think. This concludes that every individual must recognize the existence of other humans around them. Thus, the modified cogito argument not only allows the discovery of oneself but also acknowledges the discovery of others too in the world (Sartre and Humanism, 1946).
Descartes' basis of cogito argument was completely oriented on the ability to think. The concept of existence for Descartes was to mark existence based on the ability of thinking. This means all the elements that cannot exist shouldn’t exist. This goes true for other beings in our world. Sartre did not agree with this statement as he specified that thinking should not be the basis of existence, rather it should be one of the characteristics of existence. He focused on one of the many possible elements that could define existence in philosophical terms. That’s why Sartre stated that thinking is due to existence. The basis of the cogito argument made by Descartes was dependent on two elements of the world that is mind and material. That’s why for the identification of the mind, he formulated the notion of thinking and for material, the ability to not be able to think. If Descartes were given the choice to make comment on Sartre cogito argument, then he wouldn’t have agreed because in some way both the statements are bidirectional. Another important element that should be considered is that to define consciousness, only two elements are thinking and existence, are not exhaustive elements. There are other elements that can be considered. Sartre’s argument was based on multiple elements to define consciousness and mind, while Descartes had limited the argument to two main elements that is – mind and material. If Descartes were to think of allowing other elements or parameters to consider, then he would have accepted the modified statement of Sartre. The foundation of the argument regarding existentialism as a humanism was based on comprehending existentialism as the rendering of human life. Thus, the association of existence can be done with action on the environment and human subjectivity, which also emphasizes the evil side of human life. The most important aspect of differentiating the conceptual foundation of cogito arguments among Descartes and Sartre was that Descartes was an idealist and Sartre was a realist, or more specifically an existentialist. So, Descartes would have never pitched into the modified argument of Sartre (Descartes, 2010).
Simone de Beauvoir emphasizes the distinctive role and identification of men and women. The distinction of women being identified as ‘other’ isn’t because of the problem with women, rather it has always been a problem of men. The men are often regarded as the one or absolute while the women are being regarded as the other. The notion of ‘other’ was to create suspicion on all the justifications made by the men. By ‘other’, Beauvoir embarked on the recognition and differentiation given by the people on woman and man. It also percolates the ideology that seeps across the society considering men as privileged while women as inferior. In other words, men are always regarded as ‘seers’, she is considered as an object while he is considered as the subject. The notion of an object as something that is owned or controlled as well as used accordingly while the notion of the subject is with something that is in focus or around which the objects are placed for specification. Further, Beauvoir carried the biological aspect of women being other as handicapped condition and development of every organ defining them as women is a characteristic that is hostile in the oppressive society.
Beauvoir gathered some attention while marking the difference between adolescent boys and girls as minimum. The elemental identification of One and the Other later changes and modifies everything. The notion of One is designated with something that is unique and quite prominent while the notion with other is something that is common and abundant. The philosophical and societal significance of One is to mark the importance of men, around whom everything revolves and the Other is to mark the unimportance of women which are objects to be used in whatever manner thought to. Beauvoir not only market the elements of one and the other but also focused on the changes and activities taking place within the women from their early days to full growth, showcasing how women become the subject of sexual threat within society and everything that follows is a traumatic experience for them (De Beauvoir, 1949). Beauvoir has focused that woman are complicit in reinforcing their unfreedom but the question and investigation of women being complicit is still the topic of debate. Another aspect that Beauvoir focused on is that women are lacking the concrete substance to organize themselves in a group which makes them an object to be controlled by the subject. Historically and culturally, women are bound to be dependent on men and they need to overcome this in order to migrate from being other to the one. They must look out for a legal framework to facilitate equality and develop abilities to stand for themselves. As nowadays, many women are trying to make their living and be independent. This is one of the prominent elements that will change and shape society into a better place for women.
De Beauvoir, S., 1949. Introduction. Woman as Other. The second sex, pp.1-12. Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex, Woman as Other 1949 (marxists.org)
Sartre, J.P. and a Humanism, E.I., 1946. (translated by Philip Mairet). Existentialism is a Humanism. Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre 1946 (marxists.org)
Nietzsche, F., 2000. Beyond good and evil (p. 179). Www. BNPublishing. com.
Hatfield, G., 2004. Immanuel Kant: Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics: That Will Be Able to Come Forward as Science: With Selections From the Critique of Pure Reason. Gary Hatfield (ed.), Immanuel Kant: Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics: That Will Be Able to Come Forward as Science: With Selections From the Critique of Pure Reason - PhilPapers
Bloom, A. and Kirsch, A., 1968. The republic of Plato (Vol. 2). New York: basic books. Jowett’s translation of Plato’s Republic, 3rd ed.—A Project Gutenberg eBook
Ameriks, K. and Clarke, D.M., 2000. Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics. Philosophy assignment Cambridge University Press. The Internet Classics Archive | Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle (mit.edu)
Descartes, R., 2010. Meditations on First Philosophy in which are demonstrated the existence of God and the distinction between the human soul and body. Descartes: Selected Philosophical Writings, pp.73-122. Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes (marxists.org)