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Thread: Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson

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    Default Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson

    Jefferson's beliefs were decidedly radical for his time. He was a free-thinking secular humanist.

    Jefferson embraced science against revealed superstitions.

    Jefferson was part of the Enlightenment struggle against intolerance and tyranny.

    Jefferson's world view was an eclectic mix of naturalism, rationalism, and proto-romantic sensibility.

    Jefferson's metaphysical views were grounded in scientific naturalism.

    Jefferson explicitly rejected the rationalist belief in innate ideas as well as the more elaborate idealism of Plato and Christian dualism.

    Jefferson associated his three heroes of the Enlightenment - Bacon, Newton, Locke - with materialism.
    Jefferson argued that all physical realities can be constructed with sense data.

    Jefferson's materialism resulted in a radical psychological reductionism.

    Jefferson's religious beliefs were part of what was called "Christian paganism".

    He was dismissive of evangelical religion.

    Jefferson's attitude towards Jesus is complicated.

    He deeply admired the ethical teachings of Jesus and kept a scrapbook of them.

    Jefferson was an Arian in that he denied the divinity of Jesus, seeing him as a wise moral teacher like Socrates.

    A radical free thinker, Jefferson was the most advanced spokesperson for the complete separation of church and state.



    Source credit: Professor Darren Staloff, City College of New York

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    Too bad Jefferson is not more influential. Too many religious fundamentalists in America.

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    Quote Originally Posted by evince View Post
    Jesus was one of the great philosophers


    How I wish the people who claim him as a religion would follow his teachings
    Soren Kierkegaard wrote that the world is full of phony christians, because to actually emulate Jesus and live the authentic Christian life is extremely challenging and requires total commitment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BidenPresident View Post
    Too bad Jefferson is not more influential. Too many religious fundamentalists in America.
    Other than his hypocrisy (slavery, et al) his overall worldview is a pretty good guide post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
    Other than his hypocrisy (slavery, et al) his overall worldview is a pretty good guide post.
    I guess. Other than not being a jerk. not much to him.

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    Pretty sure most of the Founding Father thought that way.

    It's the people they had to deal with. Hence the reason for the First Amendment.
    Dachshund Lives Matter

    Quote Originally Posted by SmarterthanYou View Post
    What is sensical about limiting the means available for defense of self and country, when those with real criminal intent will ignore that law anyway, and where is the sense in surrendering the means of having last resort power over your government should it decide to ignore it's constitutional limits?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AProudLefty View Post
    Pretty sure most of the Founding Father thought that way.

    It's the people they had to deal with. Hence the reason for the First Amendment.
    They a achieved broad areas of consensus, but in many ways Jefferson was a radical in a way the others weren't. The John Adams faction was certainly conservative and deeply religious. In many ways, the founders were an American aristocracy.

    Jefferson was explicitly a populist and hostile to the aristocracy and the monied interests. Jefferson was one of the few in the Anglo-American world who initially supported the radical, populist doctrines and goals of the French Revolution.

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    Jefferson wrote that slavery was a moral evil, it was a violation of the natural rights of Africans, that slavery impaired the moral character of the slave owner, and he made efforts to prevent the spread of slavery into new states incorporated from the northwest territories.

    At the same time he was a virulent racist slave owner who only ever freed five of his own slaves.

    That is what you call a tortured and conflicted soul.

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    Cypress, I keep meaning to ask you if you ever use iTunesU? How did I never discover this gem before?
    "Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories," Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center,

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantasmal View Post
    Cypress, I keep meaning to ask you if you ever use iTunesU? How did I never discover this gem before?
    I did not know about this! It sounds like it has serious potential! Can you stream courses and lectures?

    I have been old school, using streaming audio and video content from the socialist public library.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
    I did not know about this! It sounds like it has serious potential! Can you stream courses and lectures?

    I have been old school, using streaming audio and video content from the socialist public library.
    I’m just in the process of discovering it. Yes! Check it out.
    "Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories," Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center,

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantasmal View Post
    I’m just in the process of discovering it. Yes! Check it out.
    I will be interested to know what courses you take.

    If only real college were this enjoyable -- no homework, no grades, no tests

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    In Jefferson's seminal correspondence with John Adams, the two debated philosophical questions.

    Jefferson espoused a type of strict, reductionist materialism.

    Adams countered with a George Berkley-inspired idealism: that the material world is an illusion and reality is constructed by ideas in our minds.


    Since I grew up in the age of Bedtime for Bonzo, Dan Quayle, George Dumbya Bush, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump, it is weird to think about former presidents corresponding and musing with peers about philosophy and history.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
    In Jefferson's seminal correspondence with John Adams, the two debated philosophical questions.

    Jefferson espoused a type of strict, reductionist materialism.

    Adams countered with a George Berkley-inspired idealism: that the material world is an illusion and reality is constructed by ideas in our minds.


    Since I grew up in the age of Bedtime for Bonzo, Dan Quayle, George Dumbya Bush, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump, it is weird to think about former presidents corresponding and musing with peers about philosophy and history.
    Absolutely agree with you. Well said.

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