A retrospective: John Locke

John Locke was a philosopher and physician who was born in Somerset, England in the 17th century, and is credited as the Father of Political Liberalism, and is without a doubt one of the most influential figures in the Age of Enlightenment. He was a strong advocate for the scientific revolution, where the scientific method evolved, and he was a medical researcher, who was concerned with the evidence being gathered empirically. As well as being a researcher in the sciences, he was also a political critique and believed that humans have three basic rights; life, liberty and estate, and he was a keen advocate for the separation of the church and the state; secularism, and heavily influenced the United States of America’s founding documents, especially the first amendment, and the Declaration of Independence.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

In 1689 he published his book, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which became an instant hit amongst enlightenment thinkers, where he studied that understanding the human consciousness, and knowledge, including moral knowledge, comes from sensory experiences. One of his greatest admirers was Voltaire, who was heavily influenced by his political and ethical philosophy, as well as Sir Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton, and just like Thomas Jefferson claimed, Voltaire believed them to be the three most important thinkers in history.

“All mankind… being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” – John Locke

Locke’s political theory cantered around reason and tolerance, and he claimed that no leader, or monarch had a divine right to rule, and should be removed from power if they failed in their duties, and advocated revolution if the need arose, and scholars claim his ideas had a profound influence on America’s decision of independence. The term liberalism’s origins come from the Latin word Liber, which means free, but it became a very popular philosophy in the 17th century when the focus of equality became a serious subject. Laws were reformed where fair trials were eventually witnessed by juries, speech became freer, as did religious freedom, and freedom from religion.

“The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.” – John Locke

Despite these things, the subject of ethical rights and freedom were discussed thousands of years before in classical Greece by a wide range of philosophers, including the Stoics, Sophists and the Cynics, who believed virtue was the only path to a great life, as did the Peripatetics, who Aristotle was part of. He clearly had a positive influence and contributed towards liberalism, but as for being the father, I disagree completely, but his scientific works, and his views on how to gain knowledge are still influential to this day.

A retrospective: Donald Trump

Since becoming the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump has become one of the most infamous political figures in history. As the world watches his legacy unfold, the god fearing, gun supporting Christian majority, MAGA Republicans, believe him to be of legendary status, whilst everyone else is bewildered as to how he became the commander-in-chief of one of the most powerful nations in the world, and a resident at the Oval Office of the White House. How has such a controversial figure managed to split America down the middle, and be loved by so many for his disingenuous public displays of egotistical arrogance, and childlike tantrums. Many people were critical of Obama’s policies and claimed that Trump has done more for America in four years than Obama did in eight, but as a political figure, Trump significantly lacks the dignity, and the humbleness of Obama, and he’s a puppet on a string for the Republican Party.

‪It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!” – Donald Trump‬

Donald John Trump‘ was born in 1948, in the borough of Queens, New York City, and was the son of the real estate developer ‘Fred Trump‘, who was the son of German immigrants. He was raised as a Presbyterianism because of his mother’s faith, and he claimed in 2015 that he regularly attends Marble Collegiate Church in New York, but the church countered this by claiming he isn’t active, so another lie, and yet he still wins the November 2016 presidential election. The apple certainly didn’t fall far from the tree where Donald and Fred are concerned, and both have been surrounded by accusations of corruption regarding their business models.

“In 1954 Fred was investigated by the Senate Banking Committee for allegedly abusing the loan-guarantee program by deliberately overestimating the costs of his construction projects to secure larger loans from commercial banks, enabling him to keep the difference between the loan amounts and his actual construction costs. – Source

Although he was never officially charged with any crime, it tarnished his reputation, and his conscience got the better of him, and he returned $1.2,000,000. After the accusations, which he admitted to pocketing over $3,000,000 for his own commercial projects, he was denied access to further state loans. In 1974, Donald became president of his father’s empire which he renamed the ‘Trump Organisation‘. Before this happened, both Fred and Donald were accused of racial discrimination towards African Americans who lived at Trump owned housing developments, and they were sued by the Department of Justice. The Trumps immediately countersued as their reputation had been tarnished, and the settlement meant the Trumps never had to admit guilt. Does this mean that Fred genuinely was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, as after all, he was one of seven arrested at a rally in 1927 due to rioting?

‪Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” – Donald Trump‬

After taking over his father’s company, Donald expanded it greatly by buying and building hotels, casinos and golf complexes. By 1990 his self estimation of his fortune was around $1.5,000,000,000. Trump has been repeatedly asked to present his tax returns since taking the role of United States President, but he constantly ignores the request. It’s almost like he has something to hide. Throughout his career as a real estate mogul he’s been in the firing line with accusations of racism, misogyny, fraud, false advertising, tax evasion, and breach of contract, but being filthy rich, he can afford the best lawyers who somehow always manage to get deals where he’s held unaccountable. Between 1991 and 2009, the Trump Organisation has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy no less than six times, which left him with banks refusing to bail him out of trouble, all except the Deutsch bank.

“In fall 2019, after Trump admitted to misusing money raised by his foundation to promote his presidential campaign and settle debts, he was ordered to pay $2,000,000 in damages” – Source

Regarding his presidential campaign, is he truly a Republican, as his political affiliation seems inconsistent, and he’s been a Democrat and the independent Reform party, before rejoining the Republican Party in 2009. He’s since been advised to sell off his business ventures as he’s been accused of violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause, in which it’s unethical to receive funds from foreign governments as it can lead to influence, yet several key governments who are responsible for human rights violations have invested in the Trump organisation. When Trump was in the reform party he was in the running for the presidential race, but after polls claimed that with him running against ‘George W. Bush‘, he had no chance whatsoever as barely anyone supported him, and he dropped out to save himself from future embarrassment. So how was he so successful in November 2016, and what changed? Surely it wasn’t his public persona on the Apprentice that brought him further into the public eye? It’s common knowledge that during his campaign he was accused of pandering to the white supremacists to gain votes, and he had huge support from the Ku Klux Klan as they believed he was prepared to take the country back from immigration and foreign nationals.

You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything….Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” – Donald Trump

Many of the MAGA crowd, despite claiming to be deeply religious, have far right views on immigration, national patriotism and homosexuality. Trump has been under intense scrutiny since 2016 for a long list of accusations by the Justice Department, with over 20 separate investigations surrounding every area of his presidency, and his business ventures. He’s allegedly paid out many millions of dollars to keep people quiet about incidents he’s supposedly been involved in, most notably having an affair with a porn star, and presidential campaign influence from Russia.

In December 2019 two articles of impeachment were brought to the House of Representatives, and if the Senate reached 2/3rds majority in favour of removing Trump from office, then the Democrats accusation of obstructing Congress would be valid, with ‘Mike Pence‘ automatically becoming President. The trial failed, and was always going to fail, as the Republican Party had the most seats. Out of 44 Presidents, this is only the 3rd time one has faced impeachment, and they include ‘Andrew Johnson‘, ‘Bill Clinton‘ and ‘Donald Trump‘. ‘Richard Nixon‘ was facing impeachment but he resigned before it was set in motion, and as of yet, no American President has been removed from office, but if Trump wins the 2020 election in November, then he’s got another four years to ruin his career once and for all.

If you had any doubt that Donald Trump is an imbecile, then the above video confirms it. The man can barely string a coherent sentence together.

A retrospective: Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant‘ was born in Königsberg, Prussia, a region of Germany, in 1724. He grew up to become one of the most influential philosophers surrounding epistemology during the Age of Enlightenment. As philosophers go, Kant was the real deal, and followed in the footsteps of ‘Sir Francis Bacon‘, who 200 years previous had focused on rationalism, the pursuit of reason, and empiricism which involves knowledge that’s gained through experiences of the senses. He was born and raised as a Lutheran, and started at the local Pietist, Latin school aged 8 where he remained a student until he was 16, and he then enrolled at the University of Königsberg, where he studied theology. It was here that he discovered his love of physics, and he began reading the works of the most notorious scientists and philosophers of the past.

“It is beyond a doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience.” – Immanuel Kant

One of Kant’s areas which he began to study was metaphysics, which is theoretical philosophy that focuses on cause and effect; the cause of the universe and the nature of being. In other words it studies how and why, and a perfect example is the question; Divine Creation, or the Big Bang? The second of Kant’s areas was the study of ethics which began with his Pietist faith. He believed that morality comes about by using extensive reasoning, and this led him towards political ethics where he claimed democracy and liberty would lead to world peace. Despite being raised as a Pietist, and adhering to the ethics of his faith, he became sceptical towards arguments defending theism, and some historians claim he was an agnostic, and others say he developed atheistic views. I think it’s fair to say that his spirituality was an ever developing idea, and when applying reason, he struggled with the concept of god.

“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.” – Immanuel Kant

As a scientist and philosopher he turned the world upside down with his theories and ideas regarding cosmology, ethics, politics, geology and physics. He was a thought machine, and many of his theories despite being disregarded in certain circles during his life, have stood the test of time and his influence on modern science has been monumental.

He proposed the nebular hypothesis which is the theory that the solar system was formed 4.5 billion years ago by a nebula cloud containing dust and gas. As it became denser, gravity formed objects of mass which include the planets and the sun, and they began to rotate. Kant claimed that the evidence for this was the fact that all the natural satellites in the solar system (planets and moons) all orbit around the Sun in the same direction, and because over 99% of the mass in the solar system is the Sun, it attracts all the other objects of mass. The gravity of the Sun condensed until it reached a critical point and the hydrogen atoms fused to create helium, and nuclear fusion began with the Sun coming to life. He proposed that galaxies formed in a similar way, and each galaxy had an infinite amount of solar systems that formed by gravity interaction.

As a moral philosopher he never encouraged any theism in his approach, and he deals with something he described as ‘fact of reason’. What this implied was every human has been endowed with a conscience, and with this comes empathy and reason, and without freedom we have no moral worth, but he also dismissed the idea of free will and believed in the theory of causality proposed by ‘Isaac Newton‘. In other words, morality is derived from consequence, and we must always endeavour to respect humanity in ourselves, and once that’s achieved we will understand our intrinsic moral duty. He separated the idea of morality into two distinctions.

Theoretical reason is studying the natural world through understanding why

Practical reason studies the questions of how the world ought to be and tells us our duty

As well as personal ethics, he had a deep interest in political ethics which involved an honest government and civil rights. In a way he was an idealist and believed that human were inevitably going to reach a state of perpetual happiness, but there must be reform. This he believed would come from a Rechtsstaat, which essentially means ‘rule of law, or state of justice‘, which is a form of constitutionalism. As well as wishing for universal peace, he claimed that wars lead to economic turmoil, and the more expensive wars become, the more reluctant that nations will wish to get involved, which will eventually lead to conditions of peace, which encourages morality.

Have the courage to use your own reason- That is the motto of enlightenment.” -Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals

Regarding Kant’s cause and effect ideas; every action has a reaction, he also studied autonomy and its influences, like universality and particularity, objectivity and subjectivity, conformity and individuality, and what impact they have on decision making, and especially in regards to morality. He defined autonomy into three categories that are:

The right to make decisions without outside influence

The right to make decision independently using personal reflection and reason

The right to be accepted by others that morality is universal and what is required by you, is required by all

“Autonomy, in Western ethics and political philosophy, the state or condition of self-governance, or leading one’s life according to reasons, values, or desires that are authentically one’s own.” – Source

Kant’s ethical ideology is known as Kantian ethics, or deontological ethics, means ethical duty. This involves something that Kant coined as ‘Good Will‘, which suggests that doing something that you consider good, doesn’t automatically make it good, it’s the attitude behind the action which is important. Take theism as a perfect example of why it cannot be categorised as good will. Once there’s a reward for doing a good deed, then the act of morality is cancelled, and according to Kantian ethics, you do a good deed because it’s your duty, not for merit. So good will and duty is what defines morality, not pleasing the will of a god, and once opposing inclinations outweighs rational incentive, the moral framework breaks down.