The history of philosophy can be studied from two distinct points of view. The first point of view is that of the historian; the second one is that of the philosopher. They will each approach the study of the history of philosophy with different feelings.
The historian will be excited to the greatest enthusiasm by the great works of the thinkers of all times, by the spectacle of the immense mental energy and imagination, zeal and unselfishness which they have devoted to their creations, and the historian will derive the highest enjoyment from all of these achievements.
The philosopher, of course, when he studies the history of philosophy will also be delighted, and he cannot help being inspired by the wonderful display of genius throughout all the ages. But he will not be able to rejoice at the sight that philosophy presents to him with exactly the same feelings as the historian. He will not be able to enjoy the thoughts of ancient and modern times without being disturbed by feelings of an entirely different nature. The philosopher cannot be satisfied to ask, as the historian would ask of all the systems of thought – are they beautiful, are they brilliant, are they historically important? And so on. The only question which will interest him is the question, “What truth is there in these systems?” And the moment he asks it he will be discouraged when he looks at the history of philosophy because, as you all know, there is so much contradiction between the various systems – so much quarreling and strife between the different opinions that have been advanced in different periods by different philosophers belonging to different nations. Will philosophers go on contradicting each other, ridiculing each other’s opinions, or will there finally be some kind of universal agreement, a unity of philosophical belief in the world?
(The Future of Philosophy by Moritz Schlick at WIKISOURCE)
Optimism is an outlook on life such that one maintains a view of the world as a positive place. People would say that optimism is seeing the glass “half full” of water as opposed to half empty. It is the philosophical opposite of pessimism. Optimists generally believe that people and events are inherently good, so that most situations work out in the end for the best. Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Hope implies a certain amount of despair, wanting, wishing, suffering or perseverance — i.e., believing that a better or positive outcome is possible even when there is some evidence to the contrary. “Hopefulness” is somewhat different from optimism in that hope is an emotional state, whereas optimism is a conclusion reached through a deliberate thought pattern that leads to a positive attitude.
A broken future may not be inevitable, but neither is it merely imaginary. This is one possible future – and perhaps the most likely one. And, of course, the longer we do less than we should, the more likely that future becomes.
The prospect of a broken world raises many sobering questions. The present topic, rather parochially, is how the shift to a broken world might impact on philosophy.
In our affluent world, political philosophy revolves around moral concepts – need, rights, entitlement, justice, happiness – that are colored by these two optimistic assumptions. And moral philosophers build elaborate theories on the shifting sands of intuitions tailored to our world of plenty. Will future philosophers find any use for the scholastic niceties of current debates between liberals, libertarians, egalitarians, communitarian’s cosmopolitans, deontologists, consequentiality, and contractualists?
(The Future of Philosophy: By Tim Mulgan, by Liam Cooper (Managing Editor)
A robot walks into a bar and says, “I’ll have a screwdriver.” A bad joke, indeed. But even less funny if the robot says “Give me what’s in your cash register.”
The fictional theme of robots turning against humans is older than the word itself, which first appeared in the title of Karel Čapek’s 1920 play about artificial factory workers rising against their human overlords. Just 22 years later, Isaac Asimov invented the “Three Laws of Robotics” to serve as a hierarchical ethical code for the robots in his stories: first, never harm a human being through action or inaction; second, obey human orders; last, protect oneself. From the first story in which the laws appeared, Asimov explored their inherent contradictions. Great fiction, but unworkable theory. The prospect of machines capable of following moral principles, let alone understanding them, seems as remote today as the word “robot” is old.
This is why we need to think long and hard about machine morality. Many take the very idea of moral machines to be a kind of joke. Machines, they insist, do only what they are told to do. A bar-robbing robot would have to be instructed or constructed to do exactly that. On this view, morality is an issue only for creatures like us who can choose to do wrong. People are morally good only insofar as they must overcome the urge to do what is bad. We can be moral, they say, because we are free to choose our own paths.
Machines are increasingly operating with minimal human oversight in the same physical spaces as we do. Self-driving cars are not far behind. Mercedes is equipping its 2013 model S-Class cars with a system that can drive autonomously through city traffic at speeds up to 25 m.p.h. Google’s fleet of autonomous cars has logged about 200,000 miles without incident in California and Nevada, in conditions ranging from surface streets to freeways. By Google’s estimate, the cars have required intervention by a human co-pilot only about once every 1,000 miles and the goal is to reduce this rate to once in 1,000,000 miles. How long until the next bank robber will have an autonomous getaway vehicle? This is autonomy in the engineer’s sense, not the philosopher’s. The cars won’t have a sense of free will, not even an illusory one. They may select their own routes through the city but, for the foreseeable future, they won’t choose their own paths in the grand journey from dealership to junkyard. We don’t want our cars leaving us to join the Peace Corps, nor will they any time soon.
(The Future of Moral Machines, COLIN ALLEN at
To retain the profits of a lucrative business, or to prevent the loss of fortune, or of honor, a man will sometimes strain every nerve, stretch every faculty, deprive himself of sleep, submit to numerous privations, encounter the raging elements, and brave the dangers of the ocean. Nay, he will often be overwhelmed with despondency at the slightest inconveniences, and will pass whole weeks and months in sullenness and chagrin, for an imaginary affront, or for the loss of a few pounds, while, at the same time, he remains perfectly indifferent, and without the least emotion, in regard to the unknown scenes of the eternal world, and the danger of endless misery to which he is exposed. Such a conduct, and such dispositions which are too frequently realized in the case of thousands who occasionally mingle in our religious assemblies, are obviously inconsistent with the dictates of prudence and of common sense, and with everything that ought, to characterize a rational and accountable creature.
There is no human being who feels full satisfaction in his present enjoyments. The mind is forever on the wing in the pursuit of new acquirements, of new objects, and, if possible, of higher degrees of felicity, than the present moment can afford. However exquisite any particular enjoyment may sometimes be found, it soon begins to lose its relish, and to pall the intellectual appetite. Hence the voracious desire, apparent among all ranks, for variety of amusements, both of a sensitive and of an intellectual nature. Hence the keen desire for novelty, for tales of wonder, for beautiful and splendid exhibitions, and for intelligence respecting the passing occurrences of the day. Hence the eagerness with which the daily news papers are read by all ranks that have it in their power to procure them. However novel or interesting the events which are detailed to-day, an appetite for fresh intelligence is excited before to-morrow. Amidst the numerous objects which are daily soliciting attention, amidst the variety of intelligence which newsmongers have carefully selected for the gratification of every taste, and amidst the fictitious scenes depicted by the Novelist and Poet, “the eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear with hearing.”
If we cast our eyes towards Asia, we shall find the greater part of five hundred millions of human beings involved in political commotions, immersed in vice, ignorance, and idolatry, and groaning under the lash of tyrannical despots. Elsewhere, the cruelty and tyranny of its rulers have transformed many of its most fertile provinces into scenes of desolation. If we turn our eyes upon Africa, we behold human nature sunk into a state of the deepest degradation: the States of Barbary in incessant hostile commotions, and plundering neighboring nations both by sea and land. If we direct our attention towards Europe, the most tranquil and civilized portion of the globe, even here we shall behold numerous symptoms of political anarchy and moral disorder.
During the last fifty years, almost every nation in this quarter of the world has been convulsed to its centre, and become the scene of hostile commotions, of revolutions, and of garments rolled in blood.
If we come nearer home, and take a view of the every-day scenes which meet our eye, what do we behold? We see a mixed scene of bustling and confusion in which vice and malevolence are most conspicuous and most frequently triumphant. When we contemplate the present aspect of society, and consider the prominent dispositions and principles which actuate the majority of mankind; the boundless avaricious desires which prevail, and the base and deceitful means by which they are frequently gratified; the unnatural contentions which arise between husbands and wives, fathers and children, brothers and sisters; the jealousies which subsist between those of the same profession or employment; the bitterness and malice with which law-suits are commenced and prosecuted; the malevolence and cabling which attend electioneering contests; the brawling, fighting, and altercations which so frequently occur in our streets, ale-houses, and taverns; and the thefts, robberies, and murders, which are daily committed: when we contemplate the haughtiness and oppression of the great and powerful, and the insubordination of the lower ranks of society; when we see widows and orphans suffering injustice; the virtuous persecuted and oppressed; meritorious characters pining in poverty and indigence; fools, profligates, and tyrants, riot; generous actions unrewarded, crimes unpunished; and the vilest of men raised to stations of dignity and honor: we cannot but admit that the moral world presents a scene of discord and disorder, which mar both the sensitive and intellectual enjoyments of mankind.
(Adapted from The philosophy of a future state (1869) by Dick, Thomas (1774-1857) at

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