Category: Philosophy


Mythological Creatures from Dante’s Inferno

The Inferno (Hell) is the first part of The Divine Comedy, followed by the Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Heaven). It is a classic Christian theological text that uses strong poetic imagination and allegorical allusion.  Though originally written in Italian between 1308 and 1321 AD, the work is widely translated and its themes are drawn upon by generations of writers since.  Written in first person narrative, the comedy is about the imaginative events and experiences of Dante (and his companion poet Virgil) as he traverses through Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso in his afterlife. Dante meets both mythological and real people during his long voyage.  He also comes across mythological creatures that pose moral dilemmas and questions to him.  By successfully resolving such challenges, Dante (and by extension anyone with faith in Christ) steadily attains spiritual salvation.  The rest of this essay will dwell on the mythological . . . Read More

Continue Reading

St. Augustine’s spiritual journey of divine reverence as evidenced in his Confessions

Although Augustine of Hippo’s early life was disordered and undisciplined, his adult life is marked by maturity and spiritual searching.  His steadfast spiritual journey – one identified with penance and dedication – will lead him to a profound understanding of the message of Christ.  He attains a refined reverence for the omnipotent will of God.  Although St. Augustine lived at an age that was far removed from St. Francis Assisi’s, some of the values cherished and preached by the latter is easily applicable to the former’s life. Reverence is one such Franciscan value that is represented by Augustine’s lifelong spiritual journey. The rest of this essay will highlight this connection by citing relevant passages from the Confessions as well as scholarly commentary given upon it.

One of the early influences on St. Augustine was the Greek theologian Plotinus, whose famous words ‘alone with the Alone’ made an impact on the young aspirant. This peculiar theory . . . Read More

Continue Reading

What have been the prevailing creationist/intelligent design explanations for the origin and development of organic beings and how have these views been challenged by Darwin’s theory of evolution?

Charles Darwin’s publication of the theory of evolution through natural selection is one of the pivotal moments in the history of science. But the theory was unveiled only in the middle of 19th century, by when great strides have already been made in other fields of science. Yet, when compared to the complexity and cumbersomeness of theories in the fields of astronomy, quantum physics or discrete mathematics, Darwin’s theory is remarkable for its simplicity.  Despite this fact the theory has generated a lot of controversy – both among the general public and among intellectuals. Leading the aggression are the religiously orthodox, who see a threat to the tenets of their faith. To overcome their insecurities they adopt one of two approaches. First, they try to reject evolution as valid scientific theory for want of adequate evidence supporting it. When this fails, they co-opt the theory into a religious understanding and project the process of evolution as God’s . . . Read More

Continue Reading

How might a theological anthropology enable Christians to resist ideologies of racial oppression in church and society?

Introduction

Despite Christian doctrine’s claims of all men being created in the image of God, the Church has historically been guilty of racial discrimination.  The very notion of slavery goes against Christian theology.  Western Christianity has especially failed to adequately interfere with this social malice in the centuries past.  In contrast, among cultures of the newer churches around the world there is more communal harmony and acceptance. This is evident in indigenous peoples from less materialistic and less consumerist cultures that practice Christianity.  There, we find “traditions of cherishing every creature, however small, and of living in close and respectful relationship with the earth itself. Openness to traditions like this could lead the church into a renewed relationship with the Creator and the creation, and to a deeper respect for life itself.” (McRae-McMahon, 1998)  This essay will elaborate how theological . . . Read More

Continue Reading

New perspectives on Education & Philosophy: Realism

Realism: Summary

Students are encouraged to think critically and creatively. Teachers, instead of spoon-feeding all concepts and course content, give a fair degree of liberty for students to find their own individualized style of learning. They prompt students to find equilibrium in the interaction between the organism and the environment. There is a focus on student experience and taking social action for solving real problems.

Realism: Synthesis & Response

Realism is a relevant philosophy of schooling even today. The prevalent system of education does not mould students into well-rounded and socially-conscious individuals. The emphasis is too much on grades and individual excellence. Being part of the current education system I can clearly see what Realism offers. Under this system of education student co-operation is given more importance compared to student competition. This is not the case in the current system where . . . Read More

Continue Reading

New perspectives on Education & Philosophy: Social Reconstruction

Social Reconstruction: Summary

This system treats education as an instrument for addressing social problems. Education is seen as the means to creating a harmonious social order.  It adopts an open ended syllabi intended to meet practical problems with socially conscious solutions.  Progressive education is embraced as against conservative models. Some of the leading thinkers include Theodore Brameld, George Counts and Paulo Freire.  One of the core beliefs of its pioneers is that systems must be changed to overcome social and individual oppression. The system encourages students to find creative solutions for problems such as violence, hunger, economic inflation, terrorism, etc. There is a strong belief in literacy as a vehicle for social change.

Social Reconstruction: Synthesis & Response

It should be lauded that social reconstruction attempts to create constructive dialogue and . . . Read More

Continue Reading

New perspectives on Education & Philosophy: Idealism

Idealism: Summary

This model of education focuses on value education and student character development. One of the goals is to gear learning toward understanding objective truth.  The teacher plays an important role in imparting knowledge.  Conceptual methodology that uses logic and rationality is employed as an instructive tool.  The education method is so designed to stimulate the student’s intellect.  This school of education is based on the assumption that that which is ultimately real is spiritual or ideational.

Idealism: Synthesis & Response

Although Idealism is the preferred system of education in the 19th century, its relevance has continued to decline in the 20th century.  This is due to its old-fashioned core goals such as value education and student character development. In other words, it is not very compatible with the labor market orientated structuring of curriculum and goals that . . . Read More

Continue Reading

New Perspectives on Philosophy and Education: Pragmatism

Pragmatism: Summary

Philosophers such as John Dewey, Charles Peirce and William James are the founding fathers of Pragmatism in education.  These influential thinkers rejected Idealistic education model and instead conceived of schools as institutions for practical goals. The curriculum is based on performing activities, history and geography, and scientific problem solving. Progressive politics is also taught to students. Students are encouraged to take a pragmatic approach to problem solving.  The curriculum is not rigidly set.  In contrast only the broad outline is provided within which a variety of course content could be accommodated. The teachers play the role of a mentor to students.  There is no standardized evaluation of learning. Moreover, the process involves experimentation and learning through experience rather through concepts.  Pragmatism also rejects Metaphysical Absolutes and Metaphysical Dualisms.

Pragmatism: Synthesis . . . Read More

Continue Reading

What is the source of law’s legitimacy for Antigone and Creon?

The confrontation between Antigone and her uncle Creon (the ruler of Thebes) begins with the demise of her two brothers Eteocles and Polyneices. Since Creon was on the side of Eteocles during the combat between the two brothers, he decrees to honor him in death.  In sharp contrast he decrees that Polyneices be left rotting in the battle field sans a proper burial.  This is the highest form of punishment in ancient Greek and its evocation is a measure of Creon’s hostility toward Polyneices.  In Creon’s own view, what legitimizes his decree is his authority as the supreme ruler of Thebes.  He performs very little moral deliberation before setting his order to execution.

But Polyneices’ beloved sister Antigone is a balanced, intellectual and humane person (as evidenced from allusions in the play). Her love for her brother impels her to bury him properly. Though this action would invoke the wrath of Creon and jeopardize her life, her humanity and love supersedes all . . . Read More

Continue Reading

An outline of Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche’s key ideas and their contribution to the development of social thought.

Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche are two important intellectuals whose thoughts are integral to the development of social thought in Europe and North America.

Immanuel Kant’s thoughts have enriched a wide variety of disciplines within humanities, including theology, political science and sociology. But Kant’s work does not fit easily into any particular disciplinary paradigm.  Of late, Kant’s thoughts have regained eminence in the study of international politics.  Contemporary proponents of Kant’s relevance to international politics espouse the view that democracy leads to peace. But this position contradicts the philosophic foundations of Kant’s works.  Hence there is not straightforward account of how Kant’s works have influenced subsequent social thought.  The infiltration of Kant’s ideas into later scholarship is at places overt and at others subtle.  Neither is the influence uniform and unidirectional for contradictions abound. (Rossi, 2010, . . . Read More

Continue Reading