Notes on Truth, Beauty, and Goodness -- Phil A231

William Jamison - Instructor

The First Person

The Idea of the individual is cultural and linguistic. (note this description:

"Language, Culture and Mind

Integrating perspectives and methodologies in the study of language

18-20 July 2004

University of Portsmouth, England

Human natural languages are biologically based, cognitively motivated, affectively rich, socially shared, grammatically organized symbolic systems. They provide the principal semiotic means for the complexity and diversity of human cultural life. As has long been recognized, no single discipline or methodology is sufficient to capture all the dimensions of this complex and multifaceted phenomenon, which lies at the heart of what it is to be human. "

There may not even be a cultural sense of an individual as a coherent subject over time -- some cultural groups may view an individual as different people depending on their behavior, for example. Drunk -- and abusive -- call the police for help and he is arrested. By trial time he is sober and loving -- so there is no desire to prosecute him -- it was the other guy that was the problem! And this repeats.

"These words are different instruments in our language." p. 193

p. 191 "This leads us to considering the criteria for the identity of a

person." Link to

If we establish the nature of the person -- we are obviously doing this in the context of a narrative -- then we can extrapolate from there to the nature of the narrative. Have we established the most fulfilling characteristics of what it can mean to be a person?

This is to be self-reflective -- stage 6. (Link to )

What kind of society would we have to have in order for as many people as possible to reach stage 6?

Comments on the text: Schizophrenia p. 196 ? visual room. Those that see things the rest of us do not. What are they seeing? Brain scans indicate the eyes are not responding to stimuli but the brain responds as if it does. What are they seeing? Again mention Roger Penrose.

The limitation we impose by the use of our agreed socially constructed reality is not adequately imposed on the schizophrenic. So they are free to see things we do not.

Art: p. 197  "What you have primarily discovered is a new way of looking at things. As if you had invented a new way of painting; or, again, a new metre, or a new kind of song. --"

Idealists versus realists turns out to be a fight over which method of linguistic expression serves all uses -- as though the various uses were not all useful in their own respects! They are not therefore mutually exclusive but different tools we can use for different things.

p. 200 giddiness in set theory paradoxes


Paradox: Russell "it is the distinction of logical types that is the key to the whole mystery"  but he gave this up for the "no-classes" theory. The "no classes theory" holds that proposition functions are not assumed to determine classes and relations. Propositions about classes and relations are rephrased in terms of propositional functions. (p. 47 in Ency of Phi 5/6 under Logical Paradoxes)

"343"  contains three figures

343 = 73


"73" contains three figures

(p. 51 in Ency of Phi 5/6 under Logical Paradoxes)

William James notion of the self as peculiar motions of the head while thinking about myself!

p. 202 concept of "afraid" -- keep in mind his (Wittgenstein's) war experiences. He was suicidal until he came under fire and then developed a passion for living -- quote from Monk: "suicide is always a rushing of one's own defenses".

p. 204 Moore's paradox  -- "I am dead" statements that even though they are true can not be truly expressed.

What criteria can we use to evaluate art? In our perfect narrative....competition -- anything goes. Madonna?

Her newest book? English Roses?


FYI here is a link to a Peter Berger page: and the book was

Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective
by Peter L. Berger


or you can access my topics and philosophers pages here:


I do not have Charles Murray on my page but here is the book I mentioned today:

Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 -- by Charles Murray; Hardcover

And this is the other book I did not read from:

Pascalian Meditations
by Pierre Bourdieu, Richard Nice


The Encyclopedia of Philosophy Volumes 5 and 6.

For an interesting new book review take the link below to:

J. M. Bernstein

Against Voluptuous Bodies: Late Modernism and the Meaning of Painting

J. M. Bernstein, Against Voluptuous Bodies: Late Modernism and the Meaning of Painting, Stanford University Press, 2006, 400pp., $27.95 (pbk), ISBN 0804748950.

Reviewed by Daniel Herwitz, University of Michigan

This page is maintained by William S. Jamison. It was last updated August 14, 2012. All links on these pages are either to open source or public domain materials or they are marked with the appropriate copyright information. I frequently check the links I have made to other web sites but each source is responsible for their own content.