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The Origin of Ideas September 4, 2014

Posted by anagasto in philosophy.
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Consciously or not, most people would have an idea of what beauty is or what a democracy should be, and they look critically at a woman or a country to decide whether they come up to that ideal.

That is Plato’s way: you have an idea, and you use that idea to evaluate the objects of your interest.

This means that you use an idea as a guide or as a measuring stick even if you consider yourself a skeptic, a materialist, a realist.

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And where did you get your idea of “beauty”, “democracy”, or “realism”  from?

Plato says that you get it from your soul, your component of eternity that (he adds) naturally tends towards perfection.

This is where Plato set a basis for subsequent Christian thinking that lasted for a very long time.

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And then came a change with lots of new ways trying to be more scientific, objective, or binding.

>>>> Hume thought that our ideas are part of some acquired habits.
>>>> Kant thought that ideas can be mental constructs similar to laws.
>>>> Marx thought that ideas were conditioned by class.
>>>> Nietzsche would have considered ideas to be by-products of our chemo-physical nature.
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At present most people would probably believe that our ideas, including some sort of moral code, are subjectively drawn from our daily interaction  with public opinion through family, friends, and TV.

Public opinion is however anonymous, and it is difficult to trace its ingredients back to their various origins.

Quote Leo Strauss:

Our ideas are only partly our ideas. Most of our ideas are abbreviations or residues of the thought of other people, of our teachers (in the broadest sense of the term) and of our teachers’ teachers; they are abbreviations and residues of the thought of the past. These thoughts were once explicit and in the center of consideration and discussion.   — What is Political Philosophy (1959)

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The two school boys are from cartoons by Gary Olsen for the Dubuque cartoon college.
The Quixote and photos are by ghD.

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Comments»

1. Mike Hermes - July 25, 2013

I like your reasoning and the Darwinistic reference….

cantueso - July 29, 2013

I don’t think there is any reference to Darwin.


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