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Say that you join a "youth social and adventure group", where, while rock-climbing or bowling or hiking, its core members will begin, subtly, to sound out your religious beliefs and talk to you about God, is that at all morally problematic? Or in general, if any group has the main raison d'etre of recruiting for a church/political party/pyramid scheme, but initially conceals this motivation (for instance, through initially avoiding any mention of the parent organisation), is there anything wrong with that?

There is something plainly wrong with a group that conceals its real purpose, surely, and lures you in with a false front. But there is nothing wrong with members of a group that is visibly religious in orientation inviting someone to come along and join. 'Why not come and join our Catholic knitting group?' is fine. As to your first question, being sounded out seems OK, because if it get too intense or probing you can always leave. I do think there is something a bit off about a religious group targeting people who are a little lonely or isolated, but on the other hand if there's no expected quid pro quo where's the harm? The devil is in the details of how things are done, I think. Concealed pyramid schemes are another thing altogether, because here the element is deception is at the centre of what's going on.

What is the key difference between philosophy and poetry? Can a quote be identified as poetic with a philosophical idea hidden within it? For example Albert Einstein once said "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." Could this quote be identified as a sort of poetry? Can it be described as something that describes a philosophical idea? This question arose as someone told me that this is his philosophy, but it sounds like a poetic piece that describes an idea to me. In addition, David Schmidtz once said that "Life is a house and meaning is what makes it home." This also sounds poetic, but does it also describe a philosophy in a single sentence? In general, can a poetic sentence/quote be used as a philosophy or to more generally describe a philosophy?

Plato's view was that poetry is a divine madness - theia mania - and that it is better avoided. He recommended philosophy instead. This seems a bit extreme, and a bit dull. Not all poetry is the product of any kind of mania, and many poets are perfectly sane. Some philosophy, on the other hand, is pretty mad, and does come across as a kind of poetry, though mostly bad poetry. Poetry is not all tall tales, as Plato thought, though some of it has an aspect of fiction. Take for example John Clare's "Autumn Birds", which begins, The wild duck startles like a sudden thought, And heron slow as if it might be caught. The flopping crows on weary wings go by And grey beard jackdaws noising as they fly. There is nothing maniacal about this. Imagination can rise to a kind of poetic description of fact, brilliant and accurate as a mere statement of fact could not be: "The wild duck startles like a sudden thought . . .", for example. The quotation from David Schmidtz seems perfectly reasonable as a piece of...

Is it possible to answer a question with another question? is that what we called a Socratic questioning?

It seems that the word "answer" is being used in two senses in the question that you ask. Plainly, it can happen that someone asks, 'Is the tomato a fruit?' and someone else answers thus: 'What do you think?' That might well happen. But it is not the end of the story. One could count that as an answer, or as a failure to answer, or as both, but then in two different senses. It is a verbal response or reply, and "response" is one sense of "answer". There is a narrower sense of "answer", in which it means something like, "State the correct (or what the respondent takes to be correct) solution to the problem posed by the question", or something like that. This is closer to the legal sense of "answer", in which one "replies" or "makes answer" to a charge or accusation, by offering a defence. Asking a question as an answer would not work in these contexts. So if I am asked, 'What is the solution to 7x9?', what is meant is "the correct answer", and it is the answer to the question what the product of 7 and 9 is...

Don't many of us regard that "vision" is something like the headlights of a car, casting a beam of light on objects, originating inside the eye? Which is of course completely wrong and the truth is the opposite. Its fairly present in many cultures and even though it is just a mere figure of speech it feels wrong doesn't it?

Do the perceptual systems work from the environment in, or from the perceiver out? In English there are famously two very different groups of perceptual words, one active and one passive: look/see, listen/hear, touch/#feel, smell/smell (i.e. "smell" has two meanings, one for the activity of sniffing out - ('The dog was smelling my shoes'), and the other for a more passive kind of reception of some smell.) In his celebrated 1966 The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems J.J. Gibson argued that the active seeking out of "information" is more fundamental than passive sensing, and his famous cookie-cutter experiment showed this. If you actively move your hands relative to the object of perception, the percentage of correct identifications is very high. If the stimuli are given to you passively, the percentage drops to under half of what it was. The senses have to be active, and without activity even the passive sensation degrades. This was also shown by some early phenomenological experiments by Katz on...

I want to ask about the truth, universal truth. There is any standard about universal truth?I mean the truth which every one agree about it. what is the real truth? Why people have their own argument about their own truth? is it possible all of people agree about one truth?

Do you really believe that there is any truth that you are going to get 7,511,772,360 (the number on the rolling world census at the time of writing) people to agree to? That includes new born infants, who are people. So perhaps we should cut off your question at some later age, say 18. But how will this age be decided? I think probably people have their own views because they have their own ideas, and they have their own ideas because their experiences are different and they are very different people anyway. Still, most people, though by no means all, accept elementary mathematics and the elementary ethics of everyday life. There are standards of evidence and argument that apply to both, to ethics in practical settings and to mathematics in theoretical ones as well. It seems very improbable that short of the coming of the Kingdom of God everyone will agree on everything. But that doesn't mean that what they should agree on, because it is true, isn't true.

Philosophers like Wittgenstein and Plato are known for their distinctive, and challenging, writing styles. Perhaps unsurprisingly, commentators generally don't write like Wittgenstein and Plato in writing about them. Does this show that works like the Tractatus and the Republic could have been written just as well in ordinary prose? My underlying presumption here is that when people write about philosophers, this largely amounts to restating the claims of those philosophers. So if a Wittgenstein scholar insists that Wittgenstein's oracular style is essential to his philosophy, and yet argues as much in an article written in straightforward, conventional prose, she is actually contradicting herself in a way.

Not all of Plato's writings are challenging or difficult. But some are, the Parmenides for example. And Wittgenstein writes perfectly ordinary sentences in the Philosophical Investigations , though people complain that the writing is hard to follow. I can't agree with this, as I think it's a view that insinuates itself when you don't know the arguments very well. The Tractatus is of course different. But both the Parmenides and the Tractatus could have been written in ordinary prose, apart from the symbolic bits, for example in connection with the symbol omega and the theory of numbers, say, or the theory of truth-functions and the general form of the proposition. But your presumption is wrong. When people write about philosophers' work, very little restates the claims of those philosophers. The only point of that would be educational. Much more of the writing about works of philosophy is about what the claims mean and whether they are true. So your contradiction disappears. It is...

Is their really an objective answer as to where the world came from?

The current evidence and theory from cosmology almost conclusively give us the objective answer that the first event was the Big Bang. If God brought about the Big Bang, that too is an objective answer, or if the Big Bang came about due to fluctuations in a sea of quantum gravity, that is an objective answer. As Stephen observes, the steady state theory (the universe was always there) is equally objective. The Big Bang and the steady state theory may be counter-intuitive, but they are objective answers. You ask about the existence of an objective answer to the cosmological question in particular. I cannot see anything about the question where if anywhere the universe came from that raises questions of objectivity. Or is there a religious question behind your question? Does your question really mean, 'Is there an objectively true answer as to where the world came from, rather than a religious answer?' Then is the assumption that religion is subjective? That may be all wrong about what is behind your...

A lot of philosophy seems to be "philosophy of x" -- philosophy of science, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, etc. Given this, should philosophy, institutionally speaking, be treated as a separate discipline at all? I mean, why couldn't the various philosophies of x be absorbed into the various types of x?

What you are offering is a philosophy of philosophy. From your principle that "philosophy of x" should be absorbed into the department of x, institutionally speaking, doesn't it follow that philosophy of philosophy should be absorbed into the department of philosophy? But it must be treated as "a separate discipline" for this to happen. Where else would you teach the philosophy of philosophy, metaphilosophy? In the department of physics perhaps?

What is the difference between marital relationship and a committed relationship in all aspects, except the legal bond?..is there really a difference?

The difference is exactly that marriage is a legal bond, and it involves certain obligations and requirements (for example those having to do with property) that may not be implied by the "committed relationship". It is as a result a more serious affair. There is also the historically related fact that marriage is often taken to have a religious dimension, which the committed relationship may or may not. What some people dislike about marriage is that in the past it has existed in a hierarchical setting, so that a priest or other official, at a particular moment, says the words, 'I pronounce you man and wife.' It may be that in a particular committed relationship there is such a moment, but it may also not be the case.

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