top of page

Philosophy

This page relects my interests in Philosophy. It also reflects the interests and activities of the Melrose Park Philosophy Club, which I co-founded approximately in the year 2,000. I hope to add various sub-topics as time permits.
Epicurus300.jpeg
Causality and Science
The related topics of causation and hypotheses can be complicated. To provide something eminently manageable, I'd suggest the following:
First, reading ONLY item #4 (on pages 5 and 6) of the following document:

https://www.phgfoundation.org/documents/288_1330445346.pdf
(To be sure, interested readers are welcome to read the rest of the document.)

Second, read the following abstract:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jep.12994
What is important in this abstract is ONLY to understand the problem that the author is proposing to solve. I don't think it's necessary to fuss that much with his proposed solution (the last part of the abstract).
Dark Matter
This article from Columbia College Today Magazine is concise, and beautifully illustrated! Maybe these Columbia scientists will find the 85% of matter that is missing. And then we will no longer fly apart!

https://magazine.columbia.edu/article/pursuit-dark-matter

A friend asked me "How do you rule out the existence of many types of dark matter that you've proposed?"

My answer is: I rule out all types of dark matter except phlogiston.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phlogiston_theory.

Alchemist J.J. Becher first made this ground-breaking discovery.

To Becher's observations, I add: "Look around you. You see many empty spaces that masquerade as empty air. This space is, indeed, filled with phlogiston. And we ride within an unseen ocean of it, comprising 86% if the invisible universe. This is the Dark Matter whose existence had previously been unrevealed to you. And now you know!"
Friendship
Our Philosophy Club had a great meeting on the varied subject of Friendship on December 22, 2023. We discussed many of the quesriona listed above. The views of Aristotle were presented by Jeffrey Berger and of Epicurus by Albert Fried-Cassorla. The news release contains many valuable links, and the zoom discussion shows our presentations plus valuable discussion.

Friendship Philo Club meeting News Release

Friendship Philosophy Resources

Friendship Philosophy meeting Zoom recording
Quantum Physics or Mechanics
For the purpose of this web site, and generally, Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Physics refer to the same topic.

Below is a link to my article on the subject:

Quantum Physics - some Key Aspects by Albert Fried-Cassorla 8-12-21

 

And here is a link to the meeting of the Melrose Park Philosophy Club featuring Dr. Paul Halpern on Quantum Physics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yED_hnQT220q11

Quantum email 2 - Pre-Socratics Wave Functions and more 5-3-21

The above is a link to a pdf of an email that includes links to articles by our speaker at a Philosophy Club meeting, Paul Halpern. It also includes links to relevant videos and readings.

 

Quantaum Entanglement, a brief description by Robert Fuentes - May 3, 2021


The above link is to a brief article written at my request by friend Robert Fuentes, on the subject of Quantum Entanglement. As you will see, it also provides a general relationshp of the subject to Classical Physics.
Free Will vs. Determinism
If your mind goes wandering in a forest, who decides where it heads?



















Photo by Marina Priest via Morguefile.com

This was (or will be!) the topic of a presentation by member Jeff Berger, who teaches philosophy at Community College of Philadelphia (CCP). The presentation is slated for January 20, 2022. 

 
brain_in_forest_650.jpeg
Science - Philosophy of Science
As a general introduction to Philosophy of Science, I (Albert) recommend the following:

Video - Philosophy of science in fifteen minutes - by Mark Pallen - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SffJp89Ua8g

Text - For a lengthy but good article on the subjects, try wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_science

To search for particular national belioefs about science, or by individual philosophers, refer to:

https://plato.stanford.edu/

The following materials and links pertain to a planned meeting of our Philosophy Club to be led by Dr. Justin Kaplan.
 
Science Denial,
This is from an email from Justin:

"The FIRST part of this email is a response to requests for information for preparation for the session.

"Here are a few things that interested people can read in advance. I have tried to be highly selective, so that these materials require only a brief amount of time.

"For the topic of countering science denial, I like the following:

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/06/how-to-counter-science-denial/
Philosophical Essays by Albert Fried-Cassorla
The Meanings of Life by Albert Fried-Cassorla

John Locke - His Philosophy of Human Nature by Albert Fried-Cassorla V2 6-18-18

A Brief Introduction to Aesthetics by Albert Fried-Cassorla 1-26-18

Quantum Physics - some Key Aspects by Albert Fried-Cassorla 8-12-21
Albert's History of Philosophy Timeline and Resources


 
The Basic Questions of Life and Philosophy
1. How can we be happy? 


2. How can we be wise?
3. What are the meanings of life? 
4. What is truth or knowledge?
5. What are the right or moral courses of action?
6. How can the interests of the individual, society and the family be balanced?
Resources
The following are some of the general or encyclopedic resources we are using in our club and studies. If we have sources to recommend for particular philosophers or schools of thought, we will list them in that section.

The Internet Encyclopedia Of Philosophy - This is a wonderful web site, which provides a full encyclopedia, selected readings by particular philosopher, and a time line, which serves as a history of philosophy. Visit: http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/

The Oxford Illustrated History of Western Thought - Edited by Anthony Kent. This book is filled with wonderful and interesting illustrations. In fact, that's why I bought it. However, the first section on Ancient Philosophy is written in a very convoluted style. It takes much work to penetrate, though it is rewarding if you expend the effort.

Treasury of Philosophy by Dagobert D. Runes - This wonderful book offers sections from philosophers of all eras. I bought it at age 14 for $2.99 in Greenwich Village, and it has been a wise companion to me for most of my life. Each philosopher is presented with an overview and then a few pages of selected original text, plus a bibliography. Of course, then you can then turn to the original book for more in-depth reading. Invaluable and wonderful!
Aristotle












My contributions here are limited to my Powerpoint offered for our June 11, 2020 Philosophy Club Zoom meeting, plus a video of my talk, recorded prior to the meeting. -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pN1Z7Lam10

Also, these are some resources mentioned in my final slide:

•Nicomachaean Ethics by Aristotle
•Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall
•The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant
•The History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
•Stanford Encyclopedia on Philosophy: Aristotle’s Ethics: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-ethics/
•http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.9.ix.html

•And MANY Youtube videos, including ones by or featuring Edith Hall, Peter Adamson (who has an excellent podcast series), Crash Course Philosophy, Bertrand Russell, and many others
 

Aristotle on Adverity by Albert Fried-Cassorla - PDF

Aristotle on Adversity by Albert Fried-Cassorla - POWERPOINT

Aristotle on Adversity by Albert Fried-Cassorla - link to Youtube video

 
672px-Aristotle_Altemps_Inv8575.jpeg
Epicurus












Happiness Is It

There are no values higher than happiness. Wisdom, by contrast, assists in the achievement of a happy or joyful state.

Happiness, as I view it, is more than simple pleasure. It involves deferred pleasures and the greater good.


Oneness and Multiplicity

The pre-Socratics debated whether the world was One great unity, or an assemblage of unending multiplicities.

That this could even be debated is hard to comprehend.

Simply put, here is one world with many parts.

We clearly have one world, with multiplicities of entities within it. As physicists now speculate, there may be opposing universities, perhaps on thee other wide of black holes.

Even if this is so, because we can conceive of it, the alternate universe is ipso facto a part of the one universe we can conceive.


On disaster and fatality

Knowledge that disaster can happen can only partially insulate us from shock when it does occur.

The "philosophical attitude" can carry us for part of the distance, and then its powers wane.

For example, every day there is a disaster in the world. A ferry sinks in Malaysia, a rain falls off a bridge in India, and so on.
 

On altruism and philanthropy

If we are honest, we admit that we say to ourselves, "That's horrible. I feel sad for those people and their relatives."

But then we find a way to go on with our lives and our thoughts. In essence, we have said, "Oh well, there's nothing I can do" and moved on emotionally.

What I feel would be helpful and remedial is if everybody (myself included) did something to help people in need both near and far. Because by replication, such acts as a totality could mitigate the effects of disasters worldwide.

By do something, I mean donate to a charity such as Care, or UNICEF, and do something positive in one's own neighborhood as well.

By extension, if everybody did his part, the world would be a better place. (Now doesn't that sound special?)







































































 
epicurus.jpeg
Thales of Miletus
(about 640 B.C.)












He is the Father of Greek Philosophy. Also, he is the father of materialism.

Miletus is on the western coast of modern-day Turkey, also called Ionia.

He was revered and considered one of the great Seven Sages of Greek antiquity.

Thales believed in the primacy of water, that it was the origin of all living things. Even today, that assessment is not so far off the mark, as living things are mostly composed of water.

 
He monopolized olive trade in a time of shortage and thus got rich. I don't know if this means he got rich from the great misfortunes of others; I believe beans were thee main staple and olives a valued extra food.

Thales on friendship

He said men ought to remember friends ho are absent as well as those present. I agree with this, mostly because it pleases me to do so. I am not sure there is a moral imperative.
thales.gif
Heraclitus
(about 540-480 B.C.)

Heraclitus is for me a philosopher who makes many assertions I disagree with. Yet what he says is very interesting and usually contains a valuable truth buried in an excessive generalization.






 
 
 
 




Heraclitus on change

One of his most famous quotes is this; "you cannot step twice into the same rivers; for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you."

Source: Fragments by Heraclitus, from Early Greek Philosophy, edited and translated by John Burnet, A. U C. Burnet, Ltd. 1930.

The above fragment is an exaggeration but a powerful, beautiful one.

For example, some aspects of a river remain basically the same over a human lifetime. The riverbank's contours and general physical location remain similar. The persistent physical similarity enables us to say that body of water is, say the Hudson River and not the Thames.

The basic message of this fragment is that things change. Life changes. We'd better recognize it and adapt. Reckon what is different, what we've lost and what the newly exposed opportunities are.

Of course, I am reading all of this into the fragment, which simply observes change. Objects can change so that they no longer match their original definition.

For example, in our neighborhood of Melrose Park, we have a memory of a lake but not the lake itself, which sadly was drained about 1910. The lake became a dry lake bed which in turn became an apartment building.

So you can never step into the same lake twice -- especially if it is becoming a condo!

Dealing successfully with change is another matter entirely, and I don't think Heraclitus offers us much there. But this is like complaining that the Mona Lisa does not smile broadly enough.

Elsewhere, Heraclitus says: "We step and do not step into the the same rivers; we are and we are not." That is more credible.
 
Heraclitus on wisdom

He writes; "Wisdom is one thing. It is to know the thought by which all things are steered through all things."

To him, wisdom has nothing to do with how to live life successfully and happily. It pertains more to the notion of order, which I believe is equivalent to the laws of nature and of DNA.

Heraclitus makes the mistake of saying that all things are one. For example, he believes that day and night are one. Day is defined in part by night but is not the same as it. As Jim Morrison of The Doors said: "Night divides the day, day divides the night."

For example, some aspects of a river remain basically the same over a human lifetime. The riverbank's contours and general physical location remain similar. The persistent physical similarity enables us to say that body of water is, say the Hudson River and not the Thames.

The basic message of this fragment is that things change. Life changes. We'd better recognize it and adapt. Reckon what is different, what we've lost and what the newly exposed opportunities are.

Of course, I am reading all of this into the fragment, which simply observes change. Objects can change so that they no longer match their original definition.

For example, in our neighborhood of Melrose Park, we have a memory of a lake but not the lake itself, which sadly was drained about 1910. The lake became a dry lake bed which in turn became an apartment building.

So you can never step into the same lake twice -- especially if it is becoming a condo!

Dealing successfully with change is another matter entirely, and I don't think Heraclitus offers us much there. But this is like complaining that the Mona Lisa does not smile broadly enough.

Elsewhere, Heraclitus says: "We step and do not step into the the same rivers; we are and we are not." That is more credible.

Heraclitus on war

Like Nietzsche who would follow him millennia later, Heraclitus believed that war is a good thing.

"War is the father of all and the king of all."

Here's a less than temperate viewpoint: That attitude is disgusting!

On the other hand, he said,"It is opposite that brings things together." That at least, is comprehensible.

Heraclitus on organization and leadership

"Even the ingredients of a posset separate if it is not stirred."

(A posset is drink of hot, curdled milk and vinegar or wine. Sounds disgusting!) How true of organizations! Having been president of a neighborhood organization, I know that if I do little or nothing the organization falls apart. There's a strict relationship of action and reaction.

You could say that Heraclitus was an elitist. He said: "One man is as ten thousand to me, if he be best."

But I take this as an evaluation of the importance of leadership, talent and genius. A Washington, Jefferson, or Lenin would make the same valuation: people who get jobs done well are critical to organization.

Heraclitus on Fear of the Unknown

"Dogs bark at everyone they do not know."

My dog Bailey agrees. After all, most people are terrorists and deserve to be hunted down like, well, dogs.

But in truth, we all have or internal "dogs" barking at what we do not know or understand. We would do well to run off our "internal dogs."

"One day is equal to another." This is a variation on carpe diem. Every day has its possibilities. Making best use of them is a key to happiness and wisdom.

"Man's character is his fate."

One of Heraclitus's best! Think of how our mentalities give rise to possibilities on a daily basis. Or think of how our "hangups" prevent us from staking out new ground daily.

Our personal character at once holds all possibility and all limitation.

To summarize the lessons I take from Heraclitus (these above statements come from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy):

Everything is in flux.

However, flux is regulated by logos, or word logic, argument or reason.

This worldview summarizes the fact that things change, but they do so according to the laws of nature.

Heraclitus is all very interesting. but he does not teach us how to be wise or happy. For that we need to find other, even wiser teachers...

heraclitus4.jpeg

Several views of Heraclitus - I love the dreamy look and even the disappeared nose in some views. Is this the same Heraclitus? Has his shape changed too much?

Epicurus
(341-240 BC)












Epicurus seems to me to be he greatest and wisest of the Greek philosophers, apart from Aristotle. He was the wisest of the pre-Socratics because, he worked out a worldly system for happiness.

For him, pleasure is the absence of pain, a somewhat constricted view. He believe that ethically, we should aspire to "quietude of mind and steadfastness of faith."

He believed in the ethical goals of simple pleasure, friendship and retirement. (I take retirement to mean the simple life of reflection, and absence from politics, but I am not certain.)


Voltaire - The Portable Voltaire, edited by Ben Ray Redman, Penguin Books

Thoughts by Albert Fried-Cassorla 2-15-05

This book is a compilation containing parts of many of Voltaire's works. Here are reflections on a tiny selection from the book…


The Lisbon Earthquake

The Lisbon Earthquake is a 3-page work that concludes the collection. This poem has particular resonance for today. By today, I mean 2005, right after the great tsunami that took over 150,000 lives recently.

The earthquake of the poem's title took place in 1755 and took about 40,000 lives.

In the poem, Voltaire, who was a believer, questions God's wisdom in killing all of these people.

He asks: "Should not God towards mercy be inclined?"

In so doing, he presaged modern questioning of belief that followed the recent tsunami disaster.

In the Philosophic Dictionary, Voltaire dispenses his views on a variety of subjects in series, all done in alphabetic order.

He is very charming and of course very learned. How his factual knowledge holds up in the light of modernity, I am not sure. Yet he said in his essay on atoms, that it "appears" that they are indivisible. He was wise enough to hedge his bet with that qualifier. Pretty smart for an 18th century man (an understatement).


Voltaire on Destiny

Destiny - Voltaire seems to believe that whatever has happened has happened by necessity. Frankly, I find the truth or non-truth of this to be puzzling. But I do think that human will in many past situations could have been different and therefore could have yielded different outcomes.

I COULD have chosen in the past to say or do something differently. The result would have been different. But perhaps I did NOT say something differently because of the build-up to who I was psychologically at that last time. In that case, I could not have done nothing in the past differently, even though I might in similar circumstances do something differently in the FUTURE.

So in pondering this, I think I agree with Voltaire in this: all that happened in the past had to happen that way by necessity, or destiny.

This is very different from saying either:

This is the best of all possible worlds. Or…

All that will happen is destined. So using WILL is futile.


Voltaire on Dog

Note, not dogs plural, but dog singular, as in the character of a dog.

Who can disagree of Voltaire's assessment of the creature that is man' best friend and guardian?

No wonder he expostulated against such derogation as as: "You French dog!" or "Turkish dog!" Now as a dog owner, I understand Voltaire's affection for these great animals more directly.


























 
epicurus.jpeg
The Problems of Philosophy 













This book chiefly reflects on epistemological, or theory of knowledge, questions.  Within that field, it gives a good introduction.  You need to have an appetite for careful investigations into such questions as:

What is an object?
How do we truly know an object?
Is it the sum of its properties?
Is there a think in itself?
Does it exist apart from our knowing it?
Those are interesting questions, but they are limited in scope compared to the totality of philosophy, and Russell admits to this in his introduction.  The reading is lucid if difficult. However, his final chapter is extremely eloquent and wise.  That is chapter 15: The Value of Philosophy.  It begins on page on page 103 and ends on page 119 in the book, as I have paginated it for you.

This is broad and almost reads like a Nobel Prize speech, along the lines or copy of say, William Faulkner's.  So if you can only read one part of the hook, do read these 16 most worthwhile pages!
 
Bertrand_Russell.jpeg

Bertrand Russell

bottom of page