Portal:Philosophy/Selected article

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The current week is Week 40.

Selected article by week[edit]

Week 1           view - talk - edit - history


The Roman god Apollo is an anthropomorphic representation of the Sun.

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics and qualities to non-human beings, objects, natural, or supernatural phenomena. A form of personification (applying human or animal qualities to inanimate objects), anthropomorphism is similar to prosopopoeia (adopting the persona of another person). Animals, the forces of nature, and unseen or unknown authors of chance are frequent subjects of anthropomorphosis.

In religion and mythology, "anthropomorphism" refers to the perception of a divine being or beings in human form, or the recognition of human qualities generally, in these beings. Many mythologies are almost entirely concerned with anthropomorphic deities who express human characteristics such as jealousy, hatred, or love. The Greek gods such as Zeus and Apollo were often depicted in human form exhibiting both commendable and despicable human traits.

Pictured is the Roman god Apollo, an anthropomorphic representation of the Sun
Archive


Week 2           view - talk - edit - history


Two-level utilitarianism is a utilitarian theory of ethics developed by R. M. Hare. According to the theory, a person's moral decisions should be based on a set of 'intuitive' moral rules, except in certain rare situations where it is more appropriate to engage in a 'critical' level of moral reasoning.

Utilitarians believe that an action is right if it produces the best possible state of affairs. Traditional utilitarianism treats this as a claim that people should try to ensure that their actions maximise overall happiness or pleasure.

Two-level utilitarianism is virtually a synthesis of the opposing doctrines of act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism states that in all cases the morally right action is the one which produces the most pleasure, whereas rule utilitarianism states that the morally right action is the one that is in accordance with a moral rule whose general observance would create the most happiness. In terms of two-level utilitarianism, act utilitarianism can be likened to the 'critical' level of moral thinking, and rule utilitarianism to the 'intuitive' level.


Archive



Week 3           view - talk - edit - history


Thucydides-bust-cutout ROM.jpg

Thucydides (c. 460 BCc. 395 BC) (Greek Θουκυδίδης, Thoukydídēs) was a Greek historian and author of the History of the Peloponnesian War, which recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC. Thucydides has been dubbed the father of "scientific history" because of his strict standards of evidence-gathering and analysis in terms of cause and effect without reference to intervention by the gods, as outlined in his introduction to his work.

He has also been called the father of the school of political realism, which views the relations between nations as based on might rather than right. His classical text is still studied at advanced military colleges worldwide, and the Melian dialogue remains a seminal work of international relations theory.

Archive



Week 4           view - talk - edit - history


Saint Thomas Aquinas.jpg

Saint Thomas Aquinas, O.P. (also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino; ca. 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian priest of the Catholic Church in the Dominican Order, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus (the Angelic Doctor) and Doctor Communis or Doctor Universalis (the Common or Universal Doctor).[1] He is frequently referred to as Thomas because "Aquinas" refers to his residence rather than his surname. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology, and the father of the Thomistic school of philosophy and theology. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy was conceived as a reaction against, or as an agreement with, his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law and political theory.


Archive


Week 5           view - talk - edit - history


Enchoen27n3200.jpg

Sun Wu (simplified Chinese: 孙武; traditional Chinese: 孫武; pinyin: Sūn Wǔ), style name Changqing (長卿), better known as Sun Tzu (simplified Chinese: 孙子; traditional Chinese: 孫子; pinyin: Sūn Zǐ; pronounced [swə́n tsɨ̀]), was an ancient Chinese military general and strategist and philosopher who is traditionally believed to have authored The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy considered to be a prime example of Taoist thinking. Sun Tzu has had a significant impact on Chinese and Asian history and culture, both as an author of The Art of War and through legend. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Sun Tzu's The Art of War grew in popularity and saw practical use in Western society, and his work has continued to influence both Asian and Western culture and politics.

Archive



Week 6           view - talk - edit - history


Hippocrates rubens.jpg

Hippocrates of Cos or Hippokrates of Kos (ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC) - Greek: Ἱπποκράτης; Hippokrátēs was an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles (Classical Athens), and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. He is referred to as the Western father of medicine in recognition of his lasting contributions to the field as the founder of the Hippocratic School of medicine. This intellectual school revolutionized medicine in ancient Greece, establishing it as a discipline distinct from other fields that it had traditionally been associated with (notably theurgy and philosophy), thus making medicine a profession.

However, the achievements of the writers of the Corpus, the practitioners of Hippocratic medicine, and the actions of Hippocrates himself are often commingled; thus very little is known about what Hippocrates actually thought, wrote, and did. Nevertheless, Hippocrates is commonly portrayed as the paragon of the ancient physician. In particular, he is credited with greatly advancing the systematic study of clinical medicine, summing up the medical knowledge of previous schools, and prescribing practices for physicians through the Hippocratic Oath, Corpus and other works.

Archive



Week 7           view - talk - edit - history


Philosophy language.jpg

Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. As a topic, the philosophy of language for analytic philosophers is concerned with four central problems: the nature of meaning, language use, language cognition, and the relationship between language and reality. For continental philosophers, however, the philosophy of language tends to be dealt with, not as a separate topic, but as a part of logic, history or politics. (See the section "Language and Continental Philosophy" below.)

First, philosophers of language inquire into the nature of meaning, and seek to explain what it means to "mean" something. Topics in that vein include the nature of synonymy, the origins of meaning itself, and how any meaning can ever really be known. Another project under this heading of special interest to analytic philosophers of language is the investigation into the manner in which sentences are composed into a meaningful whole out of the meaning of its parts.

Second, they would like to understand what speakers and listeners do with language in communication, and how it is used socially. Specific interests may include the topics of language learning, language creation, and speech acts.

Third, they would like to know how language relates to the minds of both the speaker and the interpreter. Of specific interest is the grounds for successful translation of words into other words.

Finally, they investigate how language and meaning relate to truth and the world. Philosophers tend to be less concerned with which sentences are actually true, and more with what kinds of meanings can be true or false. A truth-oriented philosopher of language might wonder whether or not a meaningless sentence can be true or false, or whether or not sentences can express propositions about things that do not exist, rather than the way sentences are used.

Archive



Week 8           view - talk - edit - history


Marywollstonecraft.jpg

Mary Wollstonecraft (/ˈwʊlstən.krɑːft/; 27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and feminist. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships, received more attention than her writing. After two ill-fated affairs, with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay (by whom she had a daughter, Fanny Imlay), Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement. Wollstonecraft died at the age of thirty-eight, ten days after giving birth to her second daughter, leaving behind several unfinished manuscripts. Her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, later Mary Shelley, would become an accomplished writer in her own right.

Archive



Week 9           view - talk - edit - history


DaodeTianzun.jpg

Laozi (Chinese: ; pinyin: Lǎozǐ; Wade–Giles: Laosi; also Lao Tse, Lao Tu, Lao-Tzu, Lao-Tsu, Laotze, Lao Zi, Laocius, and other variations) was a philosopher of ancient China, and is a central figure in Taoism (also spelled "Daoism"). Laozi literally means "old master", and is generally considered honorific. Laozi is revered as a deity in most religious forms of Taoism. Taishang Laojun is a title for Laozi in the Taoist religion, which refers to him as "One of the Three Pure Ones".

According to Chinese tradition, Laozi lived in the 6th century BC. Historians variously contend that Laozi is a synthesis of multiple historical figures, that he is a mythical figure, or that he actually lived in the 4th century BC, concurrent with the Hundred Schools of Thought and Warring States period.

A central figure in Chinese culture, both nobility and common people claim Laozi in their lineage. Throughout history, Laozi's work has been embraced by various anti-authoritarian movements.


Archive



Week 10           view - talk - edit - history


Meditation is a form of mental exercise in which one's attention is focused inward upon the mind itself. There are many forms of meditation, most of which are states of relaxation, but not all. Meditation may serve simply as a means of relaxation from a busy daily routine; as a technique for cultivating mental discipline; or as a means of gaining insight into the nature of reality, or of communing with one's God.

Some forms of meditation focus on the field or background perception and experience, also called mindfulness; others focus on a preselected specific object, and are called "'concentrative' meditation." There are also techniques that shift between the field and the object. Many practice meditation in order to achieve peace, while others practice certain physical yogas in order to become healthier. Many people report improved concentration, awareness, self-discipline and equanimity through meditation.

...Archive/schedule


Week 11           view - talk - edit - history


In futures studies, a technological singularity (often the Singularity) is a predicted future event believed to precede immense technological progress in an unprecedentedly brief time. Futurists give varying predictions as to the extent of this progress, the speed at which it occurs, and the exact cause and nature of the event itself.

I. J. Good (1965) has predicted that if artificial intelligence reaches equivalence to human intelligence, it will soon become capable of augmenting its own intelligence with increasing effectiveness, far surpassing human intellect, resulting in an “intelligence explosion.” In the 1980s, Vernor Vinge dubbed this event “the Singularity” and popularized the idea with lectures, essays, and science fiction. Vinge argues the Singularity will occur following creation of strong AI or sufficiently advanced intelligence amplification technologies such as brain-computer interfaces.

...Archive/schedule


Week 12           view - talk - edit - history


Richard Dawkins (2009).jpg

Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL (born 26 March 1941) is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science author. He was formerly Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford and was a fellow of New College, Oxford.

Dawkins came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularised the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term meme. In 1982, he introduced into evolutionary biology an influential concept, presented in his book The Extended Phenotype, that the phenotypic effects of a gene are not necessarily limited to an organism's body, but can stretch far into the environment, including the bodies of other organisms.

Dawkins is well known for his candid criticism of creationism and intelligent design. In his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker, he argued against the watchmaker analogy, an argument for the existence of a supernatural creator based upon the complexity of living organisms. Instead, he described evolutionary processes as analogous to a blind watchmaker. He has since written several popular science books, and makes regular television and radio appearances, predominantly discussing these topics.

Dawkins is an atheist, secular humanist, sceptic, rationalist and supporter of the Brights movement. He has been referred to in the media as "Darwin's Rottweiler", by analogy with English biologist T. H. Huxley, who was known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's evolutionary ideas. In his 2006 book The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that faith qualifies as a delusion − as a fixed false belief. As of November 2007, the English language version had sold more than 2 million copies and had been translated into 31 other languages, making it his most popular book to date.


Archive



Week 13           view - talk - edit - history


The felicific calculus was an algorithm formulated by Jeremy Bentham for calculating the degree or amount of happiness that a specific action is likely to cause, and hence its degree of moral rightness. It is also known as the "Utility Calculus", the "Hedonistic Calculus" and the "Hedonic Calculus".

The calculus was proposed by Bentham as part of his project of making morals amenable to scientific treatment. Since classical utilitarians considered that the rightness of an action was a function of the goodness of its consequences, and that the goodness of a state of affairs was itself a function of the happiness it contained, the felicific calculus could, in principle at least, establish the moral status of any considered act.

Some critics argue that the happiness of different people is incommensurable, and thus a felicific calculus is impossible in practice...

...Archive/schedule


Week 14           view - talk - edit - history


Eudaimonism is a philosophy that defines right action as that which leads to "well-being." The concept originates in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. In Aristotle eudaimonism means that all correct actions lead to the greater well-being of the individual human. By extending well-being from the narrowest concerns to the largest, all social rules can be adduced. Augustine of Hippo adopted the concept as beatitudo, and Thomas Aquinas worked it out into a Christian ethical scheme. For Aquinas, well-being is found ultimately in a direct perception of God, or complete blessedness.

...Archive/schedule


Week 15           view - talk - edit - history


Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on gathering observable, empirical, measurable evidence, subject to the principles of reasoning.

Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, there are identifiable features that distinguish scientific inquiry from other methods of developing knowledge. Scientific researchers propose specific hypotheses as explanations of natural phenomena, and design experimental studies that test these predictions for accuracy. These steps are repeated in order to make increasingly dependable predictions of future results. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry serve to bind more specific hypotheses together in a coherent structure. This in turn aids in the formation of new hypotheses, as well as in placing groups of specific hypotheses into a broader context of understanding.

...Archive/schedule


Week 16           view - talk - edit - history


Max Weber 1894.jpg

Maximilian Carl Emil "Max" Weber (German pronunciation: [ˈmaks ˈveːbɐ]; 21 April 1864 – 14 June 1920) was a German philosopher, sociologist and political economist, who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the remit of sociology itself. Weber's major works dealt with the rationalization and so-called "disenchantment" which he associated with the rise of capitalism and modernity. Weber was, along with his associate Georg Simmel, a central figure in the establishment of methodological antipositivism; presenting sociology as a non-empirical field which must study social action through resolutely subjective means. He is typically cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as one of the three principal architects of modern social science, and has variously been described as the most important classic thinker in the social sciences.

Archive



Week 17           view - talk - edit - history


Wittgenstein1920.jpg

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in the areas of logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language.

Described by his mentor and colleague Bertrand Russell as "the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived, passionate, profound, intense, and dominating," Wittgenstein is considered by many to be the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. Instrumental in inspiring two of the century's principal philosophical movements, logical positivism and ordinary language philosophy, he is considered one of the most important figures in analytic philosophy. According to an end of the century poll, professional philosophers rank both his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) and Philosophical Investigations (1953) among the top five most important books in twentieth-century philosophy, the latter standing out as "the one crossover masterpiece in twentieth-century philosophy, appealing across diverse specializations and philosophical orientations." Wittgenstein's influence has been felt in nearly every field of the humanities and social sciences, yet there are widely diverging interpretations of his thought.

Archive


Week 18           view - talk - edit - history


Phenomenology is a current in philosophy that takes the intuitive experience of phenomena (what presents itself to us in conscious experience) as its starting point and tries to extract from it the essential features of experiences and the essence of what we experience. It stems from the School of Brentano and was mostly based on the work of the 20th century philosopher Edmund Husserl, and was developed further by philosophers such as Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Max Scheler, Hannah Arendt, and Emmanuel Levinas. As such, phenomenological thought influenced the development of existential phenomenology and existentialism in France, as is clear from the work of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and Munich phenomenology (Johannes Daubert, Adolf Reinach in Germany and Alfred Schütz in Austria).

While the term "phenomenology" was used several times in the history of philosophy before Husserl, modern use ties it more explicitly to his particular method.

...Schedule


Week 19           view - talk - edit - history


The well-being or quality of life of a population is an important concern in economics and political science. There are many components to well-being. A large part is standard of living, the amount of money and access to goods and services that a person has; these numbers are fairly easily measured. Others factors, like freedom, happiness, art, environmental health, and innovation, are far harder to measure. This has created an inevitable imbalance as programs and policies are created to fit the easily available economic numbers, while ignoring the other measures that are very difficult to plan for or assess.

Debate on quality of life is millennia-old, with Aristotle giving it much thought in his Nicomachean Ethics and eventually settling on the notion of eudaimonia, a Greek term often translated as happiness, as central.


...Archive/schedule


Week 20           view - talk - edit - history


Non-cognitivism is the meta-ethical view that moral statements lack truth-value and do not assert propositions. A noncognitivist denies the cognitivist claim that "moral judgments are capable of being objectively true, because they describe some feature of the world." If moral statements cannot be true, and if one cannot know something that is not true, noncognitivism implies that moral knowledge is impossible.

While the bare term non-cognitivism usually refers to ethics, it can also be applied in other branches of philosophy, as in theological noncognitivism.


...Schedule


Week 21           view - talk - edit - history


Phrenology (from Greek: φρήν, phrēn, "mind"; and λόγος, logos, "knowledge") is a theory which claims to be able to determine character, personality traits, and criminality on the basis of the shape of the head (reading "bumps"). Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall around 1800, and very popular in the 19th century, it is now discredited as a pseudoscience. Phrenology has however received credit as a protoscience for having contributed to medical science the ideas that the brain is the organ of the mind and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions.

Its principles were that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that mind has a set of different mental faculties, each particular faculty being represented in a different part or organ of the brain. These areas were said to be proportional to a given individual's propensities and importance of a mental faculty, and the overlying skull bone to reflect these differences.

Phrenology, which focuses on personality and character, is to be distinguished from craniometry, which is the study of skull size, weight and shape, and physiognomy, the study of facial features. However, these fields have all claimed the ability to predict traits or intelligence. They were once intensively practised in anthropology/ethnology and sometimes utilized to "scientifically" justify racism. While some principles of phrenology are well-established today, the basic premise that personality is determined by skull shape is almost universally considered to be false.

...Archive/schedule


Week 22           view - talk - edit - history


Atheism, in a broad sense, is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.

The term atheism originated from the Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning "without gods", which was applied with a negative connotation to those thought to reject the gods worshipped by the larger society. With the spread of freethought, skeptical inquiry, and subsequent increase in criticism of religion, application of the term narrowed in scope. The first individuals to identify themselves as "atheist" appeared in the 18th century. Today, about 2.3% of the world's population describes itself as atheist, while a further 11.9% is described as nonreligious.Between 64% and 65% of Japanese describe themselves as atheists, agnostics, or non-believers, and 48% in Russia. The percentage of such persons in European Union member states ranges as low as single digits in Italy and some other countries, and up to 85% in Sweden.

Archive


Week 23           view - talk - edit - history


A paradox is a true statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or a situation which defies intuition. The term is also used for an apparent contradiction that actually expresses a non-dual truth (cf. kōan, Catuskoti). Typically, the statements in question do not really imply the contradiction, the puzzling result is not really a contradiction, or the premises themselves are not all really true or cannot all be true together. The word paradox is often used interchangeably with contradiction. It is also used to describe situations that are ironic.


Archive



Week 24           view - talk - edit - history


Domenico-Fetti Archimedes 1620.jpg

Archimedes of Syracuse (Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης; c. 287 BC – c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics, statics and an explanation of the principle of the lever. He is credited with designing innovative machines, including siege engines and the screw pump that bears his name. Modern experiments have tested claims that Archimedes designed machines capable of lifting attacking ships out of the water and setting ships on fire using an array of mirrors.[2]


Archive


Week 25           view - talk - edit - history


Yin and Yang.svg

Tao or Dao (pronounced "taů" or "daů") refers to a Chinese character that was of pivotal meaning in ancient Chinese philosophy and religion. Tao is central to Taoism, but Confucianism also refers to it. Most debates between proponents of one of the Hundred Schools of Thought could be summarized in the simple question: who is closer to the Tao, or, in other words, whose "Tao" is the most powerful? As used in modern spoken and written Chinese, Tao has a wide scope of usage and meaning. Depending on context, the character 道 'Tao' may be rendered as religion, morality, duty, knowledge, rationality, ultimate truth, path, or taste. Its semantics vary widely depending on the context. Tao is generally translated into English as "The Way".


Archive


Week 26           view - talk - edit - history


Decision theory is an interdisciplinary area of study, related to and of interest to practitioners in mathematics, statistics, economics, philosophy, management and psychology. It is concerned with how real decision-makers make decisions, and with how optimal decisions can be reached.

Most of decision theory is normative or prescriptive, i.e. it is concerned with identifying the best decision to take, assuming an ideal decision taker who is fully informed, able to compute with perfect accuracy, and fully rational. The practical application of this prescriptive approach (how people should make decisions) is called decision analysis, and aimed at finding tools, methodologies and software to help people make better decisions. The most systematic and comprehensive software tools developed in this way are called decision support systems.

...Schedule


Week 27           view - talk - edit - history


Dualism is the view that two fundamental concepts exist, such as good and evil, light and dark, or male and female. Often, they oppose each other. The word's origin is the Latin dualis, meaning "two" (as an adjective).

Moral dualism is the belief of the coexistence (in eastern and naturalistic religions) or conflict (in western religions) between the "benevolent" and the "malignant". Most religious systems have some form of moral dualism - in western religions, for instance, a conflict between good and evil.

Like ditheism/bitheism, moral dualism does not imply the absence of monist or monotheistic principles. Moral dualism simply implies that there are two moral opposites at work, independent of any interpretation of what might be "moral" and - unlike ditheism/bitheism - independent of how these may be represented.


...Archive


Week 28           view - talk - edit - history


Descriptivist theory of names is a view of the nature of the meaning and reference of proper names generally attributed to Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell. The theory consists essentially in the idea that the meanings (semantic contents) of names are identical to the descriptions associated with them by speakers, while their referents are determined to be the objects that satisfy these descriptions.

In the 1970s, this theory came under strong attack from causal theorists such as Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam and others. However, it has seen something of a revival in recent years, especially under the form of what are called two-dimensional semantic theories. This latter trend is exemplified by the theories of David Chalmers, among others.

...Schedule


Week 29           view - talk - edit - history


Maya, (Sanskrit: ma: not, ya: this) in Hinduism, is many things. Maya is the illusion that the phenomenal world of separate objects and people is the only reality. For the mystics this manifestation is real, but it is a fleeting reality; it is a mistake, although a natural one, to believe that maya represents a fundamental reality. Each person, each physical object, from the perspective of eternity is like a brief, disturbed drop of water from an unbounded ocean. The goal of enlightenment is to understand this--more precisely, to experience this: to see intuitively that the distinction between me and the universe is a false dichotomy. The distinction between consciousness and physical matter, between mind and body, is the result of an unenlightened perspective.

Maya is also the name of an Asura, who was the father-in-law of the Lord of Lanka, Ravana and the father of Mandodari. He is the archnemesis of Vishwakarma, the celestial architect of the Gods. His knowledge and skills are compatible with Vishwakarma. When Lanka was destroyed by Hanuman, it was the King of Demons, Maya who had re-installed the beauty of that Island Kingdom.


Week 30           view - talk - edit - history


Hilary Putnam.jpg

Hilary Whitehall Putnam (born July 31, 1926) is an American philosopher who has been a central figure in analytic philosophy since the 1960s, especially in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. He is known for his willingness to apply an equal degree of scrutiny to his own philosophical positions as to those of others, subjecting each position to rigorous analysis until he exposes its flaws. As a result, he has acquired a reputation for frequently changing his own position.

In philosophy of mind, Putnam is known for his argument against the type-identity of mental and physical states based on his hypothesis of the multiple realizability of the mental, and for the concept of functionalism, an influential theory regarding the mind-body problem. In philosophy of language, along with Saul Kripke and others, he developed the causal theory of reference, and formulated an original theory of meaning, inventing the notion of semantic externalism based on a famous thought experiment called Twin Earth.

In philosophy of mathematics, he and his mentor W. V. Quine developed the "Quine-Putnam indispensability thesis," an argument for the reality of mathematical entities, later espousing the view that mathematics is not purely logical, but "quasi-empirical." In the field of epistemology, he is known for his critique of the well known "brain in a vat" thought experiment. This thought experiment appears to provide a powerful argument for epistemological skepticism, but Putnam challenges its coherence. In metaphysics, he originally espoused a position called metaphysical realism, but eventually became one of its most outspoken critics, first adopting a view he called "internal realism", which he later abandoned in favor of a pragmatist-inspired direct realism. Putnam's "direct realism" aims to return the study of metaphysics to the way people actually experience the world, rejecting the idea of mental representations, sense data, and other intermediaries between mind and world.

Archive



Week 31           view - talk - edit - history


Determinism is the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. No mysterious miracles or wholly random events occur.

The principal consequence of deterministic philosophy is that free will (except as defined in strict compatibilism) becomes an illusion. It is a popular misconception that determinism necessarily entails that all future events have already been predetermined and will necessarily happen (a position known as Fatalism); this is not obviously the case, and the subject is still debated among metaphysicists. Determinism is associated with, and relies upon, the ideas of Materialism and Causality. Some of the philosophers who have dealt with this issue are Omar Khayyám, David Hume, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, and, more recently, John Searle.


Week 32           view - talk - edit - history


The dictatorship of the proletariat is a term employed by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program that refers to a transition period between capitalist and communist society "in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat". The term refers to a concentration of power in which rule by the proletariat (working class) would supplant the current political situation controlled by the bourgeoisie (propertied class). It does not refer to the repressive situation associated with the contemporary meaning of the term "dictatorship."

Before 1875, Marx said little about what in practice would characterize a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” believing that planning in advance the details of a future socialist system constituted the fallacy of "utopian socialism." Thus, Marx used the term very infrequently.


Week 33           view - talk - edit - history


In philosophy, materialism is that form of physicalism which holds that the only thing that can truly be said to exist is matter; that fundamentally, all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions; that matter is the only substance. As a theory, materialism belongs to the class of monist ontology. As such, it is different from ontological theories based on dualism or pluralism. In terms of singular explanations of the phenomenal reality, materialism stands in sharp contrast to idealism.


...Schedule


Week 34           view - talk - edit - history


In the philosophy of science, instrumentalism is the view that concepts and theories are merely useful instruments whose worth is measured not by whether the concepts and theories are true or false (or correctly depict reality), but by how effective they are in explaining and predicting phenomena.

Instrumentalism relates closely to pragmatism. This methodological viewpoint often contrasts with scientific realism, which defines theories as specially being more or less true. However, instrumentalism is more of a pragmatic approach to science, information and theories than an ontological statement. Often instrumentalists (just like pragmatists) have been accused of being relativists, even though many instrumentalists are also believers in sturdy objective realism (such as Karl Popper).


...Schedule


Week 35           view - talk - edit - history


Naturalism is any of several philosophical stances, typically those descended from materialism and pragmatism, that do not distinguish the supernatural (including strange entities like non-natural values, and universals as they are commonly conceived) from nature. Naturalism does not necessarily claim that phenomena or hypotheses commonly labeled as supernatural do not exist or are wrong, but insists that all phenomena and hypotheses can be studied by the same methods and therefore anything considered supernatural is either nonexistent, unknowable, or not inherently different from natural phenomena or hypotheses.

...Schedule


Week 36           view - talk - edit - history


Moral realism is the view in philosophy that there are objective moral values. Moral realists argue that moral judgments describe moral facts. This combines a cognitivist view about moral judgments (they are truth-evaluable mental states that describe the state of the world), a view about the existence of moral facts (they do in fact exist), and a view about the nature of moral facts (they are objective: independent of our cognizing them, or our stance towards them, etc.). It contrasts with expressivist or non-cognitivist theories of moral judgment, error theories of moral judgments, fictionalist theories of moral judgment and constructivist or relativist theories of the nature of moral facts.


...Schedule


Week 37           view - talk - edit - history


In philosophy, the term anti-realism is used to describe any position involving either the denial of an objective reality of entities of a certain type or the denial that verification-transcendent statements about a type of entity are either true or false. This latter construal is sometimes expressed by saying "there is no fact of the matter as to whether or not P." Thus, we may speak of anti-realism with respect to other minds, the past, the future, universals, mathematical entities (such as natural numbers), moral categories, the material world, or even thought. The two construals are clearly distinct and often confused. For example, an "anti-realist" who denies that other minds exist (i. e., a solipsist) is quite different from an "anti-realist" who claims that there is no fact of the matter as to whether or not there are unobservable other minds (i. e., a logical behaviorist).


...Schedule


Week 38           view - talk - edit - history


Sir Bernard Arthur Owen Williams (21 September 1929–10 June 2003) was an English moral philosopher, described by The Times as the "most brilliant and most important British moral philosopher of his time".[3] His publications include Problems of the Self (1973), Moral Luck (1981), Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (1985), and Truth And Truthfulness: An Essay In Genealogy (2002).

As Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and Deutsch Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, Williams became known internationally for his attempt to reorient the study of moral philosophy to history and culture, politics and psychology, and, in particular, to the Greeks. Described as an "analytic philosopher with the soul of a humanist", he saw himself as a synthesist, drawing together ideas from fields that seemed increasingly unable to communicate with one another. He rejected scientific and evolutionary reductionism, calling "morally unimaginative" reductionists, "the people I really do dislike". For Williams, complexity was irreducible, beautiful, and meaningful.


Archive



Week 39           view - talk - edit - history


Irreligion or irreligiousness is an umbrella term which, depending on context, may be understood as referring to atheism, agnosticism, deism, skepticism, freethought, secular humanism or heresy.[citation needed]

Irreligion has at least three related yet distinct meanings:

  • lack of religion (either due to a lack of information about religion or to lack of belief in it)
  • hostility to religion
  • behaving in such a way that fails to live up to one's religious tenets

Although people classified as irreligious might not follow any religion, they do not necessarily lack belief in the supernatural or in deities; such a person may be a non-religious or non-practicing theist. In particular, those who associate organized religion with negative qualities are likely to hold spiritual beliefs but describe themselves as irreligious.

The percentage of people who are irreligious is...


...Archive/schedule


Week 40           view - talk - edit - history


The problem of free will is the problem of whether human beings exercise control over their own actions and decisions. Addressing this problem requires understanding the relation between freedom and causation, and determining whether or not the laws of nature are causally deterministic. The various positions taken differ on whether all events are determined or not—determinism versus indeterminism—and also on whether freedom can coexist with determinism or not—compatibilism versus incompatibilism. So, for instance, hard determinists argue that the universe is deterministic, and that this makes free will impossible.

The principle of free will has religious, ethical, and scientific implications. For example, in the religious realm, free will may imply that an omnipotent divinity does not assert its power over individual will and choices. In ethics, it may imply that individuals can be held morally accountable for their actions. In psychology, it may imply that the mind controls some of the actions of the body. In the scientific realm, it may imply that the actions of the body, including the brain, are not wholly determined by physical causality. The question of free will has been a central issue since the beginning of philosophical thought.


Archive



Week 41           view - talk - edit - history


Stone BKH1.JPG

Michel Foucault (French pronunciation: ​[miʃɛl fuˈko]), born Paul-Michel Foucault (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984), was a French philosopher, sociologist, and historian. He held a chair at the prestigious Collège de France with the title "History of Systems of Thought," and also taught at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Berkeley.

Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences, and the prison system, as well as for his work on the history of human sexuality. His writings on power, knowledge, and discourse have been widely discussed and taken up by others. In the 1960s Foucault was associated with structuralism, a movement from which he distanced himself. Foucault also rejected the poststructuralist and postmodernist labels later attributed to him, preferring to classify his thought as a critical history of modernity rooted in Kant. Foucault's project is particularly influenced by Nietzsche; his "genealogy of knowledge" being a direct allusion to Nietzsche's "genealogy of morality". In a late interview he definitively stated: "I am a Nietzschean."

Archive


Week 42           view - talk - edit - history


Zen is a form of Mahayana Buddhism that places great importance on moment-by-moment awareness and 'seeing deeply into the nature of things' by direct experience. Zen emerged as a distinct school in China and spread to Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and, in modern times, the rest of the world.

Zen Buddhism is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism, and, as such, its teachings are deeply rooted in those of the Buddha. The Zen schools, like other Buddhist sects, teach the fundamental elements of Buddhist philosophy, including the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, pratitya samutpada, the five precepts, the five skandhas, and the three dharma seals: non-self, impermanence, and dukkha. Zen philosophy also includes teachings specific to Mahayana Buddhism, including the Mahayanan conception of the paramitas and the ideal of the bodhisattva's universal salvific power...

...Archive/schedule


Week 43           view - talk - edit - history


Atheism is the state of disbelief or non-belief in the existence of a deity or deities. It is commonly defined as the positive denial of theism (i.e., the assertion that deities do not exist), or the deliberate rejection of theism (i.e., the refusal to believe in the existence of deities). However, others—including most atheistic philosophers and groups—define atheism as the simple absence of belief in deities (cf. nontheism), thereby designating many agnostics, and people who have never heard of gods, such as the unchurched or newborn children, as atheists as well. In recent years, some atheists have adopted the terms strong and weak atheism to clarify whether they consider their stance one of positive belief that no gods exist (strong atheism), or of mere absence of belief that gods exist (weak atheism).


...Archive/schedule


Week 44           view - talk - edit - history


In religion, ethics, and philosophy, goodness and evil, or simply good and evil, refers to the concept of all human desires and behaviors as conforming to a dualistic spectrum —wherein in one direction are those aspects which are wisely reverent of life and continuity ("good"), and wherein the other direction are those aspects which are vainly reverent of death and destruction ("evil").

Religious and philosophical views tend to agree that, while " good and evil" is a concept and therefore an abstraction, goodness is intrinsic to human nature and is ultimately based on the natural love, bonding, affection that people grow to feel for other people. Likewise, most religious and philosophical interpretations agree that evil is ultimately based in an ignorance of truth (ie. human value, sanctity, divinity), and evil behavior itself is an aberration —one that defies any understanding save that the path to evil is one of confusion and excessive desire (greed)...


...Archive/schedule


Week 45           view - talk - edit - history


The question "what is the meaning of life?" means different things to different people. The vagueness of the query is inherent in the word "meaning", which opens the question to many interpretations, such as: "What is the origin of life?", "What is the nature of life (and of the universe in which we live)?", "What is the significance of life?", "What is valuable in life?", and "What is the purpose of, or in, (one's) life?". These questions have resulted in a wide range of competing answers and arguments, from scientific theories, to philosophical, theological, and spiritual explanations.

The Question "what is the meaning of life?" can also be simplified to say "why is anything alive?" or "what is the point in living". The answers below simply offer a guide to what is the purpose IN life, not what is the purpose OF life. "Life" itself must also be defined. For example, it could refer merely to the state of existing, or, the life-span of an individual or the achievements of an individual. This can also be applied to an entire species, a planet, or even the universe.

...Archive/schedule


Week 46           view - talk - edit - history


Determinism is the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. No mysterious miracles or wholly random events occur.

The principal consequence of deterministic philosophy is that free will (except as defined in strict compatibilism) becomes an illusion. It is a popular misconception that determinism necessarily entails that all future events have already been predetermined and will necessarily happen (a position known as Fatalism); this is not obviously the case, and the subject is still debated among metaphysicists. Determinism is associated with, and relies upon, the ideas of Materialism and Causality. Some of the philosophers who have dealt with this issue are Omar Khayyám, David Hume, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, and, more recently, John Searle.

...Archive/schedule


Week 47           view - talk - edit - history


Normative ethics is the branch of the philosophical study of ethics concerned with classifying actions as right and wrong, as opposed to descriptive ethics. Normative ethics regards ethics as a set of norms related to actions.

Descriptive ethics deal with what the population believes to be right and wrong, while normative ethics deal with what the population should believe to be right and wrong.

Moreover, because it examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions, normative ethics is distinct from meta-ethics, which studies the nature of moral statements, and from applied ethics, which places normative rules in practical contexts.

...Archive/schedule


Week 48           view - talk - edit - history


Virtue ethics, one of the three major approaches in normative ethics, focuses on what makes a good person, rather than what makes a good action. It can be described as a teleological ethical system - one that seeks to define the proper telos (goal or end) of the human person. Virtue ethics emphasizes moral character, in contrast to other normative approaches which emphasize duties or rules (deontology) or which emphasize the consequences of actions (consequentialism). Three key concepts virtue ethics are arete (excellence or virtue), phronesis (practical or moral wisdom), and eudaimonia (usually translated as happiness or flourishing).


...Schedule


Week 49           view - talk - edit - history


Noam chomsky cropped.jpg

Avram Noam Chomsky (/ˌnm ˈɒmski/ or /ˈnˌʌm-/; born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and political activist. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky is well known in the academic and scientific community as one of the fathers of modern linguistics. Since the 1960s, he has become known more widely as a political dissident and an anarchist.

Archive



Week 50           view - talk - edit - history


Consequentialism refers to those moral theories that hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action. Thus, on a consequentialist account, a morally right action is an action which produces good consequences. More formally, consequentialism refers to those moral theories which hold that consequences are more important than any other normative criteria. Consequentialism is usually understood as distinct from deontological ethics, which emphasizes the type of action instead of its consequences, and virtue ethics, which focuses on the character and motivations of the agent.


...Archive/schedule


Week 51           view - talk - edit - history


Humanism is a comprehensive life stance that upholds human reason, ethics, and justice, and rejects supernaturalism, pseudoscience and superstition. This article uses the words Humanism and Humanist (with a capital 'H' and no adjective such as "secular"[1]) to refer to the life stance and its adherents, and humanism (with a small 'h') to refer to other related movements or philosophies. While this convention is not universal among all Humanists, it is used by a significant number of them, and for purposes of this article, helps distinguish between Humanism as a life stance and other forms of humanism.


...Archive/schedule
Read more...


Week 52           view - talk - edit - history


Transhumanism (sometimes abbreviated >H or H+) is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of new sciences and technologies to enhance human cognitive and physical abilities and ameliorate what it regards as undesirable and unnecessary aspects of the human condition, such as disease, aging, and death. Transhumanist thinkers study the possibilities and consequences of developing and using human enhancement techniques and other emerging technologies for these purposes. Possible dangers, as well as benefits, of powerful new technologies that might radically change the conditions of human life are also of concern to the transhumanist movement.

Although the first known use of the term "transhumanism" dates from 1957, the contemporary meaning is a product of the 1980s, when a group of scientists, artists, and futurists based in the United States began to organize what has since grown into the transhumanist movement. Transhumanist thinkers postulate that human beings will eventually be transformed into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman".

The transhumanist vision of a profoundly transformed future humanity has attracted many supporters as well as critics from a wide range of perspectives. Transhumanism has been described by a proponent as the "movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative, and idealistic aspirations of humanity," while according to a prominent critic, it is the world's most dangerous idea.


...Archive/schedule
  1. ^ See Pius XI, Studiorum Ducem 11 (29 June 1923), AAS, XV. The title Doctor Communis dates to the fourteenth century; the title Doctor Angelicus dates to the fifteenth century, see Walz, Xenia Thomistica, III, p. 164 n. 4. Tolomeo of Lucca writes in Historia Ecclesiastica (1317): “This man is supreme among modern teachers of philosophy and theology, and indeed in every subject. And such is the common view and opinion, so that nowadays in the University of Paris they call him the Doctor Communis because of the outstanding clarity of his teaching.” Historia Eccles. xxiii, c. 9.
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference death_ray was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ "Professor Sir Bernard Williams", The Times, 14 June 2003.