Gregory Novak explores philosophy, psychology, and science with an emphasis on Hegel. For seekers and scholars alike.
075 - A Matter of Life & Death: How Philosophy Underpins Politics, Law, Science, and Morality.
32:58Is philosophy just mental masturbation? Nothing but air?Many today see no value in philosophy because there seems to be little agreement among philosophers on anything, and much of what they say seems to have little or no impact on one's life, or society in general. Is this the case?An examination of the major pillars upon which society stands - political systems, the law, science, and its moral base - shows just the opposite. Holding each of these institutions up is a philosophical position. In most cases, these are stances that have been analyzed for over two thousand years by the likes of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, and Hegel. As the 20th century demonstrated, the philosophy that nations choose to embrace can lead to the death of millions. And as citizens of the world, we do not have to blindly accept the doctrines that are handed us. We can, as Steve Job said, "change it, influence it, mold it." This episode shows the major impact philosophy has had on all aspects of life. Support the show
074 - Is the Unconscious Mind Real or Fantasy? - B.F. Skinner, Freud, & Hegel
22:36The behaviorism of B.F. Skinner took the psychology world by storm. His 1971 book "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" was hailed as the most important psychological publication of the 20th century. And this was from someone who denied mind and free will. It was an attempt to dignify psychology as a hard science, based on experiments and what can be observed, rather than what people think or feel, a direct contradiction to the root meaning of word psychology - "a study of mind." He claimed that reason, values, concepts, judgment, and purpose simply do not exist. To him, all actions are based on conditioning. Hegel laid the groundwork for the unconscious, calling it soul, and saying it is from what consciousness itself comes. Famed psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung built on this with their brilliant conceptions - the reality of the unconscious mind on Freud's part and the collective unconscious from Jung. This episode discusses all this as well as Novak's personal interactions with Skinnerism in the university setting of the early 1970s. Support the show
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073 - Who Needs Philosophy? - You Do!
31:38Developing one's own philosophy of life can be one of the most rewarding experiences. ll can serve as the basis for a productive and happy experience in this world. What many don’t realize is that our beliefs, values, and actions are based on a grounding in a particular philosophy, whether we understand it or not. Examining the underpinnings of our concept of self and the world can be a fruitful exercise. It is better to actively choose one's philosophy of life rather than have it handed to us by others, or by unconsciously absorbing it from the environment of family and friends. The default position often produces conflicting and random direction, which can lead to doubt, frustration, a lack of fulfillment, and loss of meaning in one's life. This podcast episode demonstrates how we are handed a philosophical outlook starting in childhood, continuing through our education, and examines the current paradigms upon which this pedagogy is based. It discusses key philosophical questions that should be actively pondered, and dives into current topics such as sexual orientation, political affiliation, identity groups, and individualism vs. collectivism. Lastly it is shown how many of the casual cliches we use in speaking are actually statements of profound philosophical positions.Support the show
072 - Pillars of the Collective Unconscious: How Jung's Feminine & Masculine Archetypes Manifest in the Psyche and Brain
33:15This episode explores psychologist Carl Jung's conception of the psyche, from the ego and the persona it shows to the world, down through the personal and collective shadow, finally reaching the two core archetypes of the collective unconscious - the anima and the animus. This fundamental polarity is seen in myths and narratives throughout the ages, including the yin/yang symbol, heaven and earth of the Bible, Hegel's being and nothing, and even the left and right brain hemispheres, with it two distinct approaches to thinking.While this polarity is often expressed as masculine/feminine, it is not dependent on the body, but on a host of psychological attributes that differ in their application. The anima is more receptive, social, and connecting, whereas the animus is more divisive and abstract. The aspects we identify with and put forward mean their opposites are kept below in the unconscious. But both sides exist in all of us, whether implicit or explicit. This episode explores the collective unconscious from several standpoints, including the mystical tree of life from the Kabbalah. Support the show
071 - Perception & Memory - the Mind/Body Link: A Look to Bergson, Jung, & Hegel
30:14The duality of Mind and Body has been debated for millennia. This has resulted in two polarized camps - Realists vs. Idealists. Realists contend that there is a world existing out there whether we are here or not, whether we are observing it or not, whether we are thinking about it or not. Idealists contend that ultimately only Mind exists, and the physical world around us is just an illusion, an unreal fantasy of the Mind.But there is a third camp. Many mistakenly classify Hegel as an Idealist, However, he actually proposed a tripartite system with Mind and Nature coming together and evolving in one process of Becoming. He referred to this as the historical advance of Spirit. Interestingly, Bergson postulated a way that Mind and Body are linked through perception and memory. As did Jung, with his collective unconscious. This episode explores this topic in depth. Support the show
070 - The "I" in Me & You: Identity, Freedom, and Oneness
25:08Can't we all just get along? The world today is increasing fractious. The Electronic Age has fueled a return to tribalism, as the individualistic linear emphasis of the print age gave way to finding identity though emotionally connected groups. And these groups are often based more on hatred of the "other" than on what they stand for themselves. What can be done? As Hegel and others have pointed out, it starts with a recognition of Spirit within us all. A freedom that humans alone can call their own. And without this recognition in others, we cannot know it is within us. This episode reviews the issue from different standpoints, include a look at the Lordship/Bondage and Beautiful Soul portions of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, as well as Žižek's Hegelian take on forgiveness. Support the show
069 - Artificial Intelligence (AI): Oxymoron or the Next Level of Consciousness?
33:13Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet, has said that artificial intelligence (AI) could have a more profound effect on humanity than fire and electricity. Quite a statement.New AI technologies are being produced, Including ChatGPT, that are conversational and can write better and communicate more clearly than most people. And they provide fast, almost immediate, answers to any question. While it is has not yet been perfected, and flaws have been noticed, the question has been raised as to whether such programs can self-learn on their own, and program themselves. And importantly, when fully developed, whether they should be considered conscious entities. Like a human being. There seems to be two camps here. One group believes that it AI is just an algorithm at the end of day, and does not possess anything beyond the information and formulas put into it by the programmers. The other group feels we are on the verge of a creating a digital super intelligence, a digital god. What has philosophy and psychology to say about this? This episode explores. Support the show
068 - Jung's Personality Types & Hegel: Operating Manual for the Mind
23:46The great psychologist Carl Jung was a leading pioneer in psychological type analysis. In fact, he coined the terms "extrovert" and "introvert." His work spawned a whole industry of personality analysis which is as strong today as ever. And key to his psychological type system was his recognition of Intuition, or the "small still voice within." This function has direct correspondence to Hegel's notion of Spirit. In a 1933 lecture on proto-psychologists in philosophy, Jung thought that had a scientific study of psychology existed back in Hegel’s time, Hegel would probably have been a psychologist. This episode reviews Jung's work, relates it to Hegel, and offer a new dimension based on Jung's work - the Creative/Receptive. Support the show
067 - Dawkins' Selfish Gene vs. Hegel's Geist: No Contest!
32:34Biologist Richard Dawkins is the poster child for the materialist doctrine and the new atheism. His paradigm boils down to a mechanical replicator, that somehow appeared by chance, which no one can explain how (a miracle?), that goes by the name "gene." He sees us all as mere robots, zombies, propagating the gene's replication. The materialist doctrine stands on three assumptions - that all is matter, that the laws of nature are fixed, with us from the beginning, and that there is no inherent purpose in matter. While this may be true for matter, what about Mind? Materialists use their doctrine as a sword against religion and philosophy. Yet their paradigm is misguided. There is a huge difference between being true and not being proven false. Hegel showed how matter and mind are combined, both a part of Geist, Spirit, and are one fundamentally. This episode explores the many problems with the pure materialist doctrine. Support the show
066 - Kierkegaard vs. Hegel: The Existentialism/Absolute Idealism Debate
28:5019th century Danish theologian and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard was a towering figure not only in philosophy and religion, but in psychology as well. He is commonly considered to be the father of Existentialism, with the importance he place on individual subjectivity in finding meaning and truth. He was also a fierce critic of Hegel. By examining the differences between the two, one can hopefully see the distinctiveness of each. This podcast episode will examine two main themes of Kierkegaard, that of subjectivity and the "leap of faith," to show where some commonalities exist, where their difference was a matter of emphasis, and where there exists an unbridgeable gap between the two. I hope to show how their differences cannot be reduced to the old "individual vs. society" or "head vs. the heart" debate; but what I believe to be a faulty/incomplete portrayal of Hegel's philosophy by Kierkegaard. Support the show