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Socrates and the Third Argument on Social Contract
In the argument on social contract, Plato presents a model of the social contract that ties the citizen to the law. However, we ought to take care when comparing the Socratic social contract concept with the modern concept of the social contract as perceived by Hobbes and Rousseau. In Rousseau’s concept, the state is an absolute outcome of the common will of the citizens.
As such, the social contract is an arrangement among citizens to exist collectively under set laws. Plato, on the other hand, believes that the contract is between a specific native of the state and the law. Plato views the law as an actual entity while Rousseau sees it as an abstract construction designed for the people by the people.
Plato’s representation of the state (law) as an entity is creativity that generates an imagination of the meaning that Socrates conveys. The representation is meant to elicit a favorable mood for ethical contemplation. In this contract, the citizen pledges to submit to the law and to stand by the determinations of its courts. This is intended to maintain order and peace in the state.
However, in portraying the law as directives that have to be observed, Plato shows the law as authoritarian. Plato’s theory, which equates the law to parents in a status of great authority, depicts them as dictators. Though the law can be coaxed into change, the citizens are meant to obey the law at all times.
Socrates’ social contract argument implies that if one enjoys the advantages of citizenship, then he vows to obey the law of the state. A problem arises when a noncitizen breaks the law. Applying the principles of Plato’s theory becomes complicated as the person is not bound by the contract.
The First Cause
Developed by Saint Thomas Aquinas, the first cause argument is based on the principle of sufficient reason, which we use each day in science and normal thinking processes. When we encounter something new we naturally try to establish its cause.
If it appears that there is no physical cause, we often consider a psychological cause and ultimately resort to a supernatural explanation. Eventually, we discover that the world is made up of a chain of causes with one cause linked to the next.
Human existence, for example, can be traced back to billions of causes all the way from the big bang theory to the progression of the protein molecule. The main concern here is the cause of the universe in its entirety and not the causes of its components.
There is a cause that precedes all the causes. To deny such a cause means a retreat down the chain of causes including the denial of the doubter’s own existence. If we stick to the chain of causes and concede that indeed an uncaused cause exists, then there is a perpetual and necessary being who is the supreme cause. According to Aquinas, that uncaused necessary being can only be God.
Some philosophers refute this argument on the basis of contradiction. They argue that the first premise implies causality in everything that exists, but the conclusion infers that there is something uncaused (God). To avoid such contradiction, the first premise can be changed to say that everything in motion has a cause or everything contingent has a cause. God is neither in motion nor contingent.
A Sound Argument for the Existence of God: Argument to Design
This is a teleological argument for the existence of God. According to this argument, the design (order) that exists in the world is proof for the presence of a gifted designer. This designer is in most cases identified as God. One of the classic proponents of this school is William Paley.
Paley likens the intricacy of living things to the subordinate intricacy possessed by a watch, which we know is designed by a gifted being. According to Paley, living things cannot be without a maker in the same way a watch cannot exist minus a watchmaker.
The argument from design asserts that the universe is specially designed for human occupancy. It also states that there are various ways in which the universe could have existed such as having altered laws of physics from the ones we know.
The universe could have possessed a different planetary arrangement or even began with a bigger or smaller ‘big bang’ than it did. It could have occurred in a way that could not support life. The fact that the universe exists the way it does enables its inhabitation. The precision in design of the universe is a sign of a master planner at work.
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The design argument is of extensive and persistent appeal. Theists appreciate that order and beauty are works of deliberate and intelligent design.
Arguments supporting design are made to defend this notion and convince the atheists that it is the most reasonable argument for the existence of a supreme being. Though these arguments exist in various forms, their underlying principle is that the order we see is deliberately caused by an intelligent designer.
Dualism is the perspective on the body-mind problem, which proposes that the mental and the physical are real and distinct. In her correspondence to Descartes, Elisabeth of Bohemia sought clarification on how the material extended nature of the body could interact with the immaterial and (un-extended) mind.
Descartes proposed a mechanistic interpretation of the material. He argued that though the body and mind are distinct, they still interact. Elisabeth wanted to know the exact nature of the interaction between the extended body and the un-extended mind.
Since the immaterial mind is not extended, it cannot have direct interaction with the body. Descartes asserts that the place where this interaction takes place is the pineal gland (‘the seat of the soul’) in the human brain. In his view, this is the only component of the body that is not a duplicate.
Descartes postulates that the brain collects neural signals from different body regions, which it sends to the mind. For instance, a signal of pain felt in the stomach is sent to the brain.
It is imperative to note that (in the Cartesian view) the brain and the mind are not synonymous. Part of the duty of the brain (specifically the pineal gland) is to link the body to the mind. However, due to its physical extended nature the brain is not the mind. Unlike the body that is physical and reducible, the mind cannot be reduced.
The Cartesian view remains the most appropriate response to the dualistic nature of the body-mind problem since it makes a deliberate attempt to link the body and mind. Though Descartes recognizes the independent nature of the body and the mind, he still sees the need for their interaction as they both belong to the same individual.
In evolutionary theory, emergent materialism is the growth of a system that cannot be projected or justified from antecedent forms. Generally, materialists refute the existence of the mind as a unit superior to physical existence. They maintain that feelings, impressions and ideas are produced by processes in the physical brain. Emergent materialism is a physically inclined theory that proclaims the mind as an irreducible element.
The theory asserts that the study of mental occurrences is not dependent upon other sciences. In agreement with other varieties of non-reductive physicalism, emergent materialism is criticized for attempting to ‘have its cake and eat it.’
According to this view, there is an actual distinction between a conscious (rational) human and a simply physical or purely biological entity. To emergent materialists, a purely biological or physical account of human nature is a blind undertaking.
Despite the fact that human beings are constituted of purely physical and biological components, reflection and deliberate activity make up new forms of composition of these physical constituents. This is done in accordance to a new and definite level of laws. In brief, human beings are not merely physical or biological objects as their mental processes are governed by psychological principles.
An emergent property is dependent upon some fundamental properties of the object, and it can have no independent existence away from the object.
However, the emergent proponents postulate a degree of independence in a way that the new forms are not reducible to their antecedents. This linkage between body and mind makes emergent materialism the most applicable school of physicalism.