The Life of Constantin Brunner

In the period 1850-1900, quite a few important philosophers and their works came to the surface in the countries where the German language was spoken. Some of the most important names of those days are Hermann Cohen (born 1842), Fritz Mauthner (1849), Paul Natorp (1854), Georg Simmel (1858), Edmund Husserl (1859), Max Weber (1864), Ernst Cassirer (1874), Max Scheler (1874), Martin Buber (1878), and Martin Heidegger (1889). Very interesting is the video (in German, though) from Yehudi Menuhin about Constantin Brunner:

Constantin Brunner was born in 1862 as Leo Wertheimer in a village named Altona in the neighborhood of the Northern German city of Hamburg. Brunner belongs to the lesser-known philosophers of that time but he was definitely among the greatest thinkers and philosophers of those days.

It was a peculiar time for Europe, especially for the German states that were united at that time in 1871, into one single Germany, a glorious and stunning achievement. This time frame, in retrospect, has all the characteristics of a sort of German “Golden Age” but it eventually led to self-destruction and the two most terrible tragedies and catastrophes of human history that we’ve seen, WW I and WW II.

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Who Was Constantin Brunner?

Constantin Brunner was a German Jewish Philosopher. He was the creator of three different modes of mental activity theory. Nowadays, this theory is used to understand non-traditional learners, such as high-school dropouts and is cities as the inspiration for the creation of modern online learning methods.

He was born in 1862 as Leo Wertheimer in Altona, a village close to Hamburg in Northern Germany. Brunner was the son of a prominent German Jewish family and his grandfather (Akiba Wertheimer) had been chief rabbi of Schleswig-Holstein.

He was brought up in line with traditional orthodox Jewish practices and completed his studies in Cologne, at the Jewish Teacher’s College. When the young Constantin had turned twenty years of age, he abandoned his traditional religious background to study other religions in pursuit of the “perfect religion”.

He wasn’t looking for rituals and dogmas, things he later on described as “superstitious”, but he rather explored the philosophical essence of both Christian and Jewish religions. In his view, these essentials involve not the relation of man to some transcendent being but the capacity of man for spiritual reflection. In other words, man’s consciousness to be able to connect to the Absolute. Continue reading “Who Was Constantin Brunner?”

The Librarian as Historical Information Architect

Excellent information architecture allows people to find information more successfully. Information architects are involved in the processes of designing various systems (labeling, organization, search, and navigation) to support users in their queries to access and manage any type of information. So let’s look at the librarian as Historical Information Architect especially in relation to historically important philosophical literary works.

In the following video, Agata Bielik-Robson, professor at the University of Nottingham, talks about the question of whether there is something like ‘Jewish Philosophy’. Or could it just be something like ‘Kosher-flavor’ philosophy?

Though they will not always be referred to as such, all information sources (e.g. website, telephone book, philosophical work, or map) includes an organization and a structure that are results of various information architecture efforts.

Librarians are responsible for maintaining the works of great philosophers like the Jewish thinker Martin Buber in good order so future generations can enlighten their minds and spirits as well. Buber (1878-1965) advocates human development in freedom in his pedagogical pieces and is among the most influential thinkers of Constantin Brunner.

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Martin Buber Shaped German-Jewish Thought

The great Jewish thinker Martin Buber (1878-1965), who in his pedagogical writings advocated the freedom of human development through interpersonal encounter and communication, is one of the great thinkers who influenced Constantin Brunner.

To get an idea of Buber’s theory principles, check out the following video in which Professor Moshe Halbertal (Institute of Jewish Studies, University of Antwerp), talks about “German-Jewish Thought and its Afterlife: A Tenuous Legacy” at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2017:

The Jewish thinker Martin Buber has become an influence in many disciplines at the beginning of the 20th century. Born in Vienna in 1878, Martin  Buber had shaped German-Jewish thought until his death in Jerusalem in 1965.

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Increasing Insecurity in an Insecure Globalizing World

Just over a decade ago, the extent of financial markets worldwide was spectacularly illustrated to the electorates of advanced Western nations as fears over a breakdown in liquidity in financial markets (or Credit Crisis) exploded into a financial crisis of global proportions. In response to the crisis, governments launched unprecedented schemes of financial assistance to bail-out private sector institutions in financial markets. And now we’re faced with the possible (or should I say sure) disastrous Brexit consequences.

About a decade ago, the United States government bailed out the mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; Britain nationalized Bradford & Bingley and injected £37 billion into the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB, in effect partly nationalizing them. According to the National Audit Office, at its peak, the UK taxpayers provided a bail-out to private-sector banking institutions of £1.162 trillion…

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The Philosophical Approach

The philosophical approach to personality study is based on a broad view of man as is nature is revealed by history, literature, and general observation. Some psychologists have attempted to unite the philosophical approach with that of objective measurement.

A good example of this is found in the Study of Values test. The Study of Values is a self-inventory devised to measure the relative importance of six basic motives in an individual’s personality: theoretical, economic, aesthetic, social, political, and religious.

This classification is based directly upon Eduard Spranger’s Types of Men, a brilliant work which presents and defends the view that the personalities of men are best known through a study of their values or “philosophy of life”.

Questions are included in this test which defines the following types in terms of what people think is worthwhile in life.

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Christian Moral Hypocrisy

As some of the nastiest people I know are also the most conspicuously pious, I do not subscribe to the view that religion is the guardian of morals. Indeed, the Church can often be a magnet for the petty and mean-spirited, the spiteful and sadistic, the resentful and the bigoted. This is not a novel claim. It was something the young Nietzsche noticed when he surveyed the congregation in his father’s Lutheran church: the foul stench of moral hypocrisy.

Of course, moral hypocrisy, or inconsistency between our actions and the moral values we espouse, is not an exclusively Christian phenomenon. But the common view that Christians are perhaps more susceptible than most to this particular vice is in fact supported by many empirical data. For example, statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (1997) indicate that criminality in the United States correlates with levels of religious conviction, with Catholics comprising 39% of prison inmates but only 12% of the general population.

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Inequality and Violence

I have reviewed numerous studies on inequality with various foci. I looked at how inequality is connected to violence at the individual level, for example. Braithwaite published a prominent study arguing that inequality is connected to crime, including violent crime here. Also, of course, Wilkinson and Pickett’s prominent publication The Spirit Level is of importance here as it shows that inequality is connected to violence in societies, more unequal countries have more cases of murders and deaths from violence, for example.

Secondly, I looked at the evidence for other forms of violence at the state level. Here we have to think in particular about revolutions, civil wars, and terrorism. All of these three forms of violence have been connected in the literature to inequality in their causation. The connection between inequality and revolutions is the most established one, the arguments for inequality causing revolutions go back to Tocqueville and Marx. And empirical research has found support for the claim that inequality precedes revolutions.

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Hermann Rorschach and the Inkblot Test

What do you see?

The Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922) believed that your answer to this question reveals a great deal about who you are and how you experience the world. Some psychologists use this test to examine a person’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning, some organizations include the Rorschach inkblot test as a part of the standardized tests they use.

The test he designed at the beginning of the 20th century can be seen as an early instance of a starting transformation regarding society and psychology’s perception of genius.

It is suggested that this transformation occurred in the following two ways: firstly, there was a move from the pathologization, and secondly, genius began to become a desired and demanded personality trait.

The Rorschachʼs study, which he published under the title Psychodiagnostics, is in this sense ambiguous. On the one hand, his work helps to define various forms of intelligence and originality. On the other hand, it strictly distinguishes between good and bad forms of originality. Thus, genius appears in his study to be a well-identifiable trait. However, it could also continue to be an indication of mental illness.

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The Non-Existence of God (Contrast of Causation)

Since Quine, the following ontological principle has seen much popularity: we should accept as existing only those entities which are postulated in the best explanation of what we accept to be the case. It follows that we have good reason to believe that x exists if and only if x has some explanatory power: only those entities the postulation of which is necessary for explaining something should be believed to exist. I will argue that appeal to God is always explanatorily impotent.

For us to be justified in accepting the existence of God, the postulation of God must have some explanatory significance. A common argument for the non-existence of God is that there is nothing the (best) explanation of which requires the postulation of God. This was Laplace’s line when he told Napoleon that he did not believe in God because he had ‘no need for that hypothesis.’

It has often been assumed that a canonical explanandum consists of a single event or fact. More recently, however, Peter Lipton has claimed that a canonical explanandum is a ‘contrastive phenomenon’: a pair consisting in a fact and a foil. A fully specified explanatory statement does not take the form ‘p explains why q’, but rather the form ‘p explains why rather than r’. In its minimal form, an explanatory statement would be ‘p explains why rather than ~q’.

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