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"I bet there's an explanatiokishu coin tokenn on the way. I'm anxious to know which stage I'm at."

"So he agreed witbitcoin cash price alerth what Democritus said two thousand years before?""Both idealism and materialism are themes you will find all through the history of philosophy. But seldom have both views been so clearly present at the same time as in the Baroque. Materialism was constantly nourished by the new sciences. Newton showed that the same laws of motion applied to the whole universe, and that all changes in the natural world--both on earth and in space--were explained by the principles of universal gravitation and the motion of bodies.

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"Everything was thus governed by the same unbreakable laws--or by the same mechanisms. It is therefore possible in principle to calculate every natural change with mathematical precision. And thus Newton completed what we call the mechanistic world view.""Did he imagine the world as one big machine?""He did indeed. The word 'mechanic' comes from the Greek word 'mechane,' which means machine. It is remarkable that neither Hobbes nor Newton saw any contradiction between the mechanistic world picture and belief in God. But this was not the case for all eighteenth- and nineteenth-century materialists. The French physician and philosopher La Mettrie wrote a book in the eighteenth century called L 'homme machine, which means 'Man--the machine.' Just as the leg has muscles to walk with, so has the brain 'muscles' to think with. Later on, the French mathematician Laplace expressed an extreme mechanistic view with this idea: If an intelligence at a given time had known the position of all particles of matter, 'nothing would be unknown, and both future and past would lie open before their eyes.' The idea here was that everything that happens is predetermined. 'It's written in the stars' that something will happen. This view is called determinism." "So there was no such thing as free will.""No, everything was a product of mechanical processes--also our thoughts and dreams. German materialists in the nineteenth century claimed that the relationship of thought to the brain was like the relationship of urine to the kidneys and gall to the liver." "But urine and gall are material. Thoughts aren't." "You've got hold of something central there. I can tell you a story about the same thing. A Russian astronaut and a Russian brain surgeon were once discussing religion. The brain surgeon was a Christian but the astronaut was not. The astronaut said, 'I've been out in space many times but I've never seen God or angels.' And the brain surgeon said, 'And I've operated on many clever brains but I've never seen a single thought.' " "But that doesn't prove that thoughts don't exist.""No, but it does underline the fact that thoughts are not things that can be operated on or broken down into ever smaller parts. It is not easy, for example, to surgically remove a delusion. It grows too deep, as it were, for surgery. An important seventeenth-century philosopher named Leibniz pointed out that the difference between the material and the spiritual is precisely that the material can be broken up into smaller and smaller bits, but the soul cannot even be divided into two."

"No, what kind of scalpel would you use for that?" Alberto simply shook his head. After a while he pointed down at the table between them and said:"The two greatest philosophers in the seventeenth century were Descartes and Spinoza. They too struggled with questions like the relationship between 'soul' and 'body,' and we are now going to study them more closely.""But surely this is only an assertion. Hume was probably right in that we can't prove what is right or wrong by reason."

"According to Kant, the law of morals is just as absolute and just as universal as the law of causality. That cannot be proved by reason either, but it is nevertheless absolute and unalterable. Nobody would deny that.""I get the feeling that what we are really talking about is conscience. Because everybody has a conscience, don't they?""Yes. When Kant describes the law of morals, he is describing the human conscience. We cannot prove what our conscience tells us, but we know it, nevertheless.""Sometimes I might only be kind and helpful to others because I know it pays off. It could be a way of becoming popular."

"But if you share with others only to be popular, you are not acting out of respect for moral law. You might be acting in accordance with moral law--and that could be fair enough--but if it is to be a moral action, you must have conquered yourself. Only when you do something purely out of duty can it be called a moral action. Kant's ethics is therefore sometimes called duty ethics.""I can feel it my duty to collect money for the Red Cross or the church bazaar."

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"Yes, and the important thing is that you do it because you know it is right. Even if the money you collect gets lost in the street, or is not sufficient to feed all the mouths it is intended to, you obeyed the moral law. You acted out of good will, and according to Kant, it is this good will which determines whether or not the action was morally right, not the consequences of the action. Kant's ethics is therefore also called a good will ethic.""Why was it so important to him to know exactly when one acts out of respect for moral law? Surely the most important thing is that what we do really helps other peo-pie.""Indeed it is and Kant would certainly not disagree. But only when we know in ourselves that we are acting out of respect for moral law are we acting freely.""We act freely only when we obey a law? Isn't that kind of peculiar?"

"Not according to Kant. You perhaps remember that he had to 'assume'or 'postulate' that man has a free will. This is an important point, because Kant also said that everything obeys the law of causality. How, then, can we have a free will?""Search me.""On this point Kant divides man into two parts in a way not dissimilar to the way Descartes claimed that man was a 'dual creature,' one with both a body and a mind. As material creatures, we are wholly and fully at the mercy of causality's unbreakable law, says Kant. We do not decide what we perceive--perception comes to us through necessity and influences us whether we like it or not. But we are not only material creatures--we are also creatures of reason."As material beings we belong wholly to the natural world. We are therefore subject to causal relations. As such, we have no free will. But as rational beings we have a part in what Kant calls das Ding an sich--that is, the world as it exists in itself, independent of our sensory impressions. Only when we follow our 'practical reason'-- which enables us to make moral choices--do we exercise our free will, because when we conform to moral law, it is we who make the law we are conforming to."

"Yes, that's true in a way. It is me, or something in me, which tells me not to be mean to others.""So when you choose not to be mean--even if it is against your own interests--you are then acting freely."

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"You're not especially free or independent if you just do whatever you want, in any case.""One can become a slave to all kinds of things. One can even become a slave to one's own egoism. Independence and freedom are exactly what are required to rise above one's desires and vices."

"What about animals? I suppose they just follow their inclinations and needs. They don't have any freedom to follow moral law, do they?""No, that's the difference between animals and humans.""I see that now.""And finally we could perhaps say that Kant succeeded in showing the way out of the impasse that philosophy had reached in the struggle between rationalism and empiricism. With Kant, an era in the history of philosophy is therefore at an end. He died in 1804, when the cultural epoch we call Romanticism was in the ascendant. One of his most quoted sayings is carved on his gravestone in Konigsberg: Two things fill my mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the reflection dwells on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.' "Alberto leaned back in his chair. "That's it," he said. "I think I have told you what's most important about Kant.""Anyway, it's a quarter past four."

"But there is just one thing. Please give me a minute.""I never leave the classroom before the teacher is finished."

"Did I say that Kant believed we had no freedom if we lived only as creatures of the senses?""Yes, you said something like that."

"But if we obey universal reason we are free and independent. Did I say that, too?""Yes. Why are you saying it again now?"

Alberto leaned toward Sophie, looked deep into her eyes, and whispered: "Don't believe everything you see, Sophie.""What do you mean by that?""Just turn the other way, child.""Now, I don't understand what you mean at all."

"People usually say, I'll believe that when I see it. But don't believe what you see, either.""You said something like that once before."

"Yes, about Parmenides.""But I still don't know what you mean."

"Well, we sat out there on the step, talking. Then that so-called sea serpent began to flap about in the water.""Wasn't it peculiar!"

"Not at all. Then Little Red Ridinghood came to the door. 'I'm looking for my grandmother's house.' What a silly performance! It's just the major's tricks, Sophie. Like the banana message and that idiotic thunderstorm.""Do you think ... ?""But I said I had a plan. As long as we stick to our reason, he can't trick us. Because in a way we are free. He can let us 'perceive' all kinds of things; nothing would surprise me. If he lets the sky go dark or elephants fly, I shall only smile. But seven plus five is twelve. That's a fact that survives all his comic-strip effects. Philosophy is the opposite of fairy tales."Sophie sat for a moment staring at him in amazement.

"Off you go," he said finally. "I'll call you for a session on Romanticism. You also need to hear about Hegel and Kierkegaard. But there's only a week to go before the major arrives at Kjevik airport. Before then, we must manage to free ourselves from his gluey fantasies. I'll say no more, Sophie. Except that I want you to know I'm working on a wonderful plan for both of us.""I'll be off, then."

"Wait--we may have forgotten the most important thing.""What's that?"

"The birthday song, Sophie. Hilde is fifteen today.""So am I."

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC#

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster