Who is a Skeptic?

In Berkeley’s book Three Dialogue, Berkeley uses the conversations between two characters Hylas and Philonous to state his philosophy. They discuss what a skeptic is and who could be one. Skeptic is someone who doubts everything and does not believe in the physical world. “I said indeed, that a skeptic was one who doubted of everything; but I should have added, or who denies the reality and truth of things.” (123) I thought it was interesting because Berkeley believes Descartes was a skeptic but in reality he was just trying to prove the difference between someone who is real and someone who is not by being a skeptic but indeed Descartes was not a skeptic. Hylas is someone who believes in matter, who believes what he sees. Philonous is someone who believes what the mind states is believable or not. Philonous believes in common sense; after all he is the lover of mind. Hylas accuses Philonous of being a skeptic because he often doubts thing if they do not make sense mentally, but Philonous proves him wrong and then accuses Hylas of being the real skeptic. Philonous states that he believes in what the mind will accept and not something that the senses determine. If something is logical and his mind accepts it then he will believe it. Hylas believes in what he gets from his senses. Berkeley also talks about two types of qualities; the primary and secondary qualities. Hylas states, “Colours, sounds, tastes, in all those termed secondary qualities, have certainly no existence without a mind. But by this acknowledgement I must not be supposed to derogate anything from the reality of matter or external objects, seeing it is no more than several philosophers maintain, who nevertheless are the furthest imaginable from denying matter.” (137) In class we discussed what the secondary and primary qualities are. Primary qualities are solidity, size, weight, shape, and motion. Secondary qualities are color, heat/feel, sound, taste, smell. Primary qualities are modes of extension; they exist without a mind, and can be described mathematically or logically. On the other hand secondary qualities are those that exist in the mind, if not one’s mind then someone else’s mind, but always in the mind. They are caused by primary qualities; they are all ideas that exist in the mind. For example when something heavy drops like a pot it makes a loud sound, but if no one is there to experience it then did it really make a sound? We use our secondary qualities to experience our primary qualities. Sound is an idea that exists in the mind; it would not happen if no one was there to have it in their mind. Sound would not be there if no one was there to experience it there would just be vibrations caused by the waves. Berkeley uses this idea to prove God’s existence. That is no one is there to experience it then it means that there is no sound, but how could that be possible there must be a sound. In order for sound to actually be there, someone must have it in their mind, and no one is there then that means God must have it in his mind, therefore sounds exist in God’s mind and God exist.


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Descartes and “Inception”

Inception is the most recent movie I have seen and I think some of the ideas in there are similar to Descartes philosophical ideas. Inception is a movie about a man named Cobb, who has invented a device which allows him to go into people’s dreams and discover their secrets and then steals them which they are unconsciously dreaming. Cobb is forced to accept a mission that will let him free and see his children. The man who hired Cobb has a revival and its Cobb’s job to go into the dreams of the man’s revival’s son’s dream and steal what he is hiding. Cobb designs a dream world which seems real when people are in the dream and sometimes Cobb himself gets caught up in the dream world himself. Cobb’s wife committed suicide and the only way for him to reunite with his wife is to dream and live in the dream world where she is real. Descartes describes how what we see isn’t always real; anything we experience in our life could just be a dream because dreams are so real until we wake up and realize they aren’t. Our whole life could just be a dream and we just haven’t woken up yet. Cobb’s dream world is all real, filled with fake memories, and experiences he has had. Just like how Descartes states that everything we experience in a dream we have already experienced in real life. In inceptions everything in the real world seems real but rather it’s not, it’s a dream world where we think it’s the real world. Cobb uses a spinning top which helps him distinguish between the real world and dream world depending on whether is spins fast or stops. Descartes establishes the argument that, anything we see or experience can be unreal there is always a doubt, we cannot ever be sure if something exist or does not exist. Dreams are unreal perception of our life, but what happens when our real life is just a dream itself. Cobb and his team begin their mission by entering each others’ dreams and connecting them, and then they join the business man’s son’s dream to their dream world and follow him in his dream and face all the obstacles his dream creates for them. Descartes ideas about dreams could be real and reality could be dreams are similar to the ideas in Inception. Descartes also believes in the fact that what we think we start to believe and that also takes place in the movie. When Cobb realizes he could be the reason for his wife’s suicide he starts believing that is he might have actually been the reason. Because they are in a dream world everything to them seems real even when they know it’s not because they were told that they are dreaming, the only one who is not aware that he is a dream is the business man’s son who is dreaming unconsciously while others are observing his dream. Inception was a very interesting movie to watch but at times it was very confusing for me to understand, but I recommend everyone to watch this movie 🙂

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In Rene Descartes’ book Meditation on First Philosophy, he talks about the foundation that we start building from childhood and if it’s based on falsehood then we must destroy the foundation and start over again. “I was struck by the large number of falsehood that I had accepted as true in my childhood, and by the highly doubtful nature of the whole edifice that I had subsequently based on them. I realized that it was necessary, once in the course of my life, to demolish everything completely and start again right from the foundations if I wanted to establish anything at all in the science that was stable and likely to last.” (p.12) Descartes believes that if anything in our foundation is based on falsehood then in order to fix that and establish new foundation we must destroy everything and restart. To replace our false beliefs we have to destroy all of our old beliefs and establish new beliefs which are based on truth. Descartes states, “Once the foundations of a building are undermined, anything built on them collapses of its own accord: so I will go straight for the basic principles on which all my former beliefs rested.” (p.12) to explain that anything built on false thought is likely to be false itself and will get destroyed. If the base or foundation of any building is not stable and anything built upon it will eventually fall or collapse.  Descartes other philosophical idea is that maybe that everything we see or belief is not real it might just be a dream. “Suppose then that I am dreaming, and that these particulars – that my eyes are open, that I am moving my head and stretching out my hands – are not true. Perhaps, indeed, I do not even have such hands or such a body at all.” (p.13) Descartes states that it might be that everything we experience is just a dream, how is there any way to prove it’s real. When we dream we have no idea that we are dreaming it’s only when we wake up and realize that it was a dream. Maybe our whole life is a dream and we just haven’t woken up. When we are dreaming everything seems so real and also in life everything seems real.  In a dream the things we see are not real because dreams are doubtful but we only dream about that thing because sometime in our life we have experienced that thing. We can doubt everything in our life except for our existence. Dreams are doubtful so maybe our life is a dream because we can doubt everything in our life. How can we know something is actually true or real? Descartes believes that the only thing we can be sure about is about our existence. We often tend to believe what we see, but Descartes disagrees that we should first make sure that what we believe is true. “I will suppose then, that everything I see is spurious. I will believe that my memory tells me lies, and that none of the things that it reports ever happened. I have no senses. Body, shape, extension, movement and place are chimeras,” (p.15). Everything we see is a lie, our senses are misleading. Descartes states that what we think we often then to believe, “I think therefore I am” this phrase means that whatever we think we end up believing in it.


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Aquinas and “Supernatural”

I think that Aquinas’s philosophy about God’s existence is somewhat related to one of my favorite shows, Supernatural. Supernatural is about two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester who are responsible for starting the Apocalypse. Throughout the show the brothers have been fighting supernatural forces and creatures and now that the apocalypse has started they cannot fight it alone. They come to the conclusion that the only way to end the apocalypse is to find God and ask him for help. Aquinas, in Summa Contra Gentiles states that God exists and he provides arguments to back up his ideas. The Winchester brothers argue about God’s existence, Sam states that god exist but his brother Dean has no faith in God and decides it’s up to them to save the world from eternal destruction. In the show Sam is the more religious one and the one who believes God exist but his brother Dean is a rebel and doesn’t trust God. Dean has a hard time believing in God because every time he asked for help he was let down so his faith in God was destroyed but Sam on the other hand still believes in God. I think in this situation Sam is Aquinas and Dean represent the people who do not believe in God’s existence. Sam provides almost the similar arguments that Aquinas provides about God’s existence. He first states that there must be something that’s always looking out for the world, something that created them all, something that always must be there. Then Sam states that other things like humans in the world that come and go, and that are not permanent. Lastly, he states that there is no way they can fight the apocalypse on their own, they need someone’s help and the greatest force in the world is God’s force so therefore God is the greatest thing there is so he must exist. Thomas Aquinas provides the same arguments that not all things are permanent but there is one thing that is permanent which controls everything. Since God is the greatest thing there is and the permanent things are better than contingent things. So if God is the better option than God must exist for he is the permanent thing. Sam believes that God is the best thing there is and it’s the only thing that could help them save the world. After arguing with his brother Dean, Sam finally manages to convince Dean into asking God for his help. So now the brothers are on the quest to find God, but the problem is that they cannot find him. I think the reason they cannot find God because they are looking for him by demonstration which is also what Aquinas states about Demonstration versus Contemplation. Because they are physically looking for God they are unable to find him, but if they tried contemplation they might get an answer. Aquinas describes contemplation as the face to face contact with God that anyone can experience if they have to will to leave their body emotionally and forgot about all human things and just be there for God.


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In Thomas Aquinas Summa Contra Gentile, he states that there are two kinds of truth; the truth of reason and the truth of faith. “The one kind of truth pertains to the investigation of reason, whereas the other wholly exceeds the reach of reason.” (244) Reason related to logic, every truth has a logical explanation to it; there is always a reason behind everything. The other kind of truth is faith, the faith in God that we have. No all truth can be explained through reason so that is why there is faith that we depend on. Faith is when we trust something or someone without questioning them because we believe in them. Some things can be explained through reason and some things can only be explained through faith. For example, we know that Jesus existed because of reason, when we read the bible it is stated in there. Once we read the bible it is stated in there that Jesus existed to now we have logic, something to back up our reasoning. On the other hand, the bible also states that Jesus died for our sins, and there is no reasoning to back up that statement except for the fact that it is written in the bible. We end up believing that statement anyways because we have faith in the bible and God. We trust them to give us the correct information. We cannot use reason to prove this statement we must follow our heart and faith to believe this statement. Aquinas also provides arguments to prove God’s existence in Summa Contra Gentile. His first point is that not everything can be contingent, where he means that not everything can fail to exist there must be something that always has been existed and always will be existed. His second point is that all things that are contingent will ultimately cease to exist, contingents are only temporary, and they can either exist or not exist. Aquinas then states that things that are permanent are better than things that are contingent, and then he states that God is permanent so God is the greatest which is why he must exist. “But to say that God exists is like that. For by the term ‘God’ we understand something than which nothing greater can be thought. This is formed in the minds of one who hears and understands the term ‘God’, and thus that God exist must be at least in his mind.” (245) Lastly, Aquinas also talks about how it’s better to understand God then to love him. This idea contradicts with Augustine’s philosophy because Augustine believes that there is nothing greater than loving God. Aquinas believes that one man can achieve happiness only when he first understands God and then loves him. “God by his own activity and not only by knowledge but also through the act of will, desiring and loving him and taking its delight in him, it might seem that the ultimate end, and the ultimate happiness of man…” (267) In order to love someone, we must understand them first, and Aquinas uses the same philosophy that in order to love God we must first understand him.


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Augustine and Glee

Augustine’s philosophy about the conflict between the city of God and the city of Men is no different than the internal conflict humans face every day.  When we have to decide between what is right and what is wrong, what God would want us to do and what we want to do. Recently I watched an episode of Glee, the musical show that comes on Fox 26 and I realized that the theme of that episode relates Augustine’s philosophy about conflict between the two cities. That episode of Glee was about a Glee club member Kurt, whose father is in the hospital suffering from a heart attack. Kurt does not believe in God and does what he wants to do, but his friends try to help him believe in God. He is very disturbed because of his father’s condition, but he refuses to turn to God for help. He believes that he can fix it on his own by talking to his father while he is in coma and reminding him of the good times they had had together. Although doing that would help, but praying to God for his father’s health would be much better. Kurt is living in the city of Men, where he believes that it’s only him that can make a difference, and that God does not exist. He thinks he can do everything on his own, but he does not realize that sometimes everyone needs God. His friends are trying to convince him to pray for his father while they all are praying for him too. Kurt does not live in the city of God, he only loves himself, his fathers, and the things he does but he does not love God. In Augustine’s eyes he would be considered a sinner because he loves other thing more than God and chooses to live in the city of Men instead of the city of God. Augustine believes that there is no greater love than the love for God, and if one does love something more than God, then they are sinners who don’t belong in the city of God. The city of God is for people who love God the most and other things are considered lesser than love for God in their perspective. Toward the ending of the episode Kurt starts to realize that maybe if he prays to God for his father’s well-being, his father will be all better. Kurt is going through a dilemma, whether he should turn to God or go on doing what he believes is right. During this part is where Augustine’s conflict between the two cities comes up, where one must choose God over themselves or themselves over God.  Finally in the ending Kurt decides that it’s better if he just turned to God for help instead of being stubborn. Every day we deal with our wants and what God wants us to do. When we are given a problem we always think about what is the best way to solve it so that we benefit from it and whether if that’s the right thing to do or not, what would God want us to do to solve that problem.


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St. Augustine’s City of God

In St. Augustine’s City of God, Augustine describes the conflict between the City of God and the City of Men. Augustine’s perspective about City of God is humility and City of Men is pride, he believes that if one lives in the City of God, they must face humility by obeying God’s orders and if one lives in the City of Men they are prideful because they do what they want to do, what they believe is right. For people who live in the City of God only love God and no other thing more than him they believe City of Men is evil place. “For to this earthly city belong the enemies against whom I have to defend the city of God” (2). In this statement Augustine means that city of Men is the earthly city and the ones who reside there are enemies of city of God because they refuse to follow the rules of the city of God. I think that Augustine is trying to say that loving other thing more than you love God is a sin, and the sinners are the enemies of the city of God. For the ones who prefer to live in the city of Men, have no higher authority, they do not have anyone around telling them what is right and what is wrong, they make their own choices. Augustine describes the city of Men as a happy place where, one can do whatever they want to do but they are all sinners. He states, “To this Founder of the holy city the citizens of the earthly city prefer their own gods, not knowing that He is the God of gods…” (3) To explain that ones who choose to live in the city of Men do not have a greater God instead of themselves. They believe that they are their own God; I disagree with this idea because I think the no one should treat themselves as gods, when they have a God they should follow his orders and obey him. Augustine also states that the people who choose to live in the city of God, only love God and nothing else more than him; they choose to live in this city out of love and not out of force or fear. ”…we have learned that there is a city of God, and its Founder has inspired us with a love which makes us covet its citizenship.” (3). This quote supports the reasoning that the only way for one to live in the city of God is if they have the love for God, but they cannot be forced to live there if their heart does not have the desire to love God the most. There is no actual boundary separating the two cities, they are within each other, it just depends on what the people choose to live in. These two cities are the spiritual conflict that people face, when they must decide whether they love God more or other things, when they must make a decision based on what they want to do or what God would want them to do.

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Aristotle and “The Pursuit of Happyness”

Aristotle’s philosophy in Nicomachean Ethics relates to Will Smith’s movie, The Pursuit of Happyness in many ways. The movie is about a man, Chris who invents a bone-density scanner, but unfortunately his invention does not make it big as he planned on. Since he invested all his money in his invention he fell into financial troubles. His wife ends up leaving him and his son because she couldn’t deal with the financial problems. Chris ends up losing his house and has to relocate to a shelter home with his son, but not once did Chris whine about anything because he knew he would be happy no matter what as long as he was with his son. Aristotle’s definition of happiness is doing what humans do; he says people are happy as long as they do their role. He also says happiness is an activity something we do while we are reaching for a goal or product. Chris and his son were happy all along even though they lived in conditions that were not so livable. When Chris invented the bone scanner he was being rational, he did it for a purpose or goal. He wanted to create a good life for his family by inventing something that would make a lot of money but that invention caused him to lose everything he has except his son. Aristotle believes that as long as one is being rational they are happy. At times Chris decided to sleep in a bathroom because he had no place to go and he only did that for his son so that his son could have a place to sleep that night. Happiness means pursuing a good life, and that’s what Chris was trying to do. Aristotle also states that in order to be completely happy one has to be virtuous. Chris showed many signs of virtue during the movie, but the most important virtue of all, was his courage. He had a lot of courage when he decided to built an invention without knowing if it was going to be something good or bad. He had courage when his wife left him and his son; he had to live for his son. He had the courage to do whatever it took to make his son happy. While he had so many troubles to consider and think about he always found a way to make his son smile and be happy. Aristotle agrees that happiness doesn’t mean getting everything someone wants in life, it means making the most of what one has. When one performs the tasks required for a human being then they are happy. Towards the end of the movie, Chris is offered a job and he immediately accepts, so in that sense he was pursuing a good life. Aristotle describes three ways to pursue a good life; happiness, flourishing, and doing well. Chris makes the best use of all three of these attributes. He is being happy and making his son happy, day-by-day he and his son are flourishing, and time goes on he starts to do well in his life. At the end of the movie he becomes a multi-billionaire making his life very good for him and his son. Ultimately he was pursuing a good and happy life.

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What does it mean to truly be Happy?

In Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle starts off by saying, “Every sort of expert knowledge and every inquiry, and similarly every action and undertaking, seems to seek some good.” ( 95).  To me this statement means that as human being we always do something for a “good” reason. The reason might be good for one person and maybe the quite opposite for another, it just depends on ones’ perspective. All our actions are a reaction to what we think. Aristotle’s main argument is that we all seek a “good” whenever we make a decision or take action. Aristotle’s next point is that whenever we do something, we do it for a reason or purpose which is referred to as rational action (95). I agree with Aristotle’s philosophy, that all human beings are rational thinkers who perform rational actions. Everything we do has a purpose to it and ultimately a “good” purpose. Rationalism is what makes us different from animals; there is always a purpose for all our action. Aristotle also states that each good has a different end to it, either that actions are activities or products (95). I think that whatever we do has a good reason to it and that pathway to get there is known as our activities and the ultimate end is known as the product. Aristotle talks about how one should pursue a good life, by both living well and doing well (97). He believes that for one human being to truly be achieving happiness, they must do well and be good.  Happiness is a good life, I think that if we do what we are meant to do then we are happy which means that we are pursuing a good life. The purpose of a human being is to perform actions which Aristotle refers to as happiness. In his view happiness is an activity; if humans do their job then they are happy. For one to have a “good life” they must do what they have to do, be happy, and achieve excellence.   A happy person must be virtuous because in order to be happy Aristotle believes that one needs virtue.  Virtue means to be morally right or to achieve moral excellence. To be a happy human being one must acquire virtuous acts such as being courageous or being just, etc… I agree with Aristotle’s idea about a good life. I think that if we do good virtuous things then we will truly be happy with ourselves which will result into living a good life. Aristotle says, “Since happiness is some activity of soul in accordance with complete excellence…” (109). Excellence is virtue, doing good moral things means being excellent.  In order to fully be excellent one must contain both an intellectual excellence and excellence of character. An intellectual excellence is when we decide what is good and what is not and excellence of character is characteristics one carries to be virtuous like courage, temperance, justice, etc… I think that if we know the difference between what is good and what is bad and that when we take actions to settle only the “goods” then we are being virtuous. Once we are virtuous then we are happy which ultimately means we are having a good life.

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Blog Post 2-Relation to Real Life

The movie fearless relates to the philosophical ideas of Plato’s character Socrates. Fearless is about a man named Max Klein whose life dramatically changes after a terrible plane crash. Max is one of the survivors of the plane crash, and after the plane crash he feels different, he is fearless because he saw his own death with his own eyes and he is not afraid of death. He thinks that he could have been dead but God gave him another chance to live. Max’s fearlessness of death relates to Socrates’ fearlessness of death. Socrates is about to be executes and he believes that everything will be okay, death is meant to happen to him. Socrates does not fear death just like Max doesn’t fear death either. They both believe that somehow they will be safe no matter what. Max believes that nothing can harm him anymore, he feels fearless, just as Plato describes in his dialogue Apology that a good man cannot be harmed in life or death. Max has this philosophical idea that since God saved him, he must be a good man so he cannot be harm in any way. Socrates believe the same idea, he explains that a good man cannot be harmed because he is a wise man. Socrates is accused of a crime but he is not worried at all, he seems to be very calm, he believes that nothing bad will happen to him and that God will protect him. After the plane crash Max has a whole new idea about life, death, God, and the afterlife.  In Plato’s book the same ideas occur about death, life, and the afterlife. In the book it states many theories about the afterlife, such as that there will be an afterlife, where there is heaven, and in some cases that there isn’t anything left after death that there is no soul or anything left after death.  Max’s perspective changes after the crash about life and death, he believes he is invincible from death, death cannot harm him. Another idea from the movie that is alike the book is the idea of never disobeying the law. In one scene Max’s lawyer asks him to lie to the judge and right then Max screams to refuse. He doesn’t believe in disobeying to the law in which his case means lying to the judge. This idea relates to Plato’s book from the dialogue of Crito. Crito comes to recue Socrates from his execution, he tries to persuade Socrates into escaping from prison but Socrates refuses by stating that it is wrong to disobey the law. He explains that It is because of the law that he is here, the law educated him, and has done so much for him so he could not possibly wrong the law. He must obey the law in all situations just like Max Klein decides to do. Max refuses to lie, which his lawyer tells him to do because it will help him but Max doesn’t want to disobey the law. Socrates does the same when Crito tells him to escape from prison. The characters from the movie share some of the same ideas that the characters in Plato’s book have.

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