Tag: Philosophy

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In grad school I took a class on emotions and wrote a paper for it. I have long wanted to turn it into a published paper, but haven’t yet. (One or two versions of the paper were rejected by a prestigious scholarly journal, though.) But here’s a bulleted summary of some of the interesting points from the […]

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What makes a government legitimate? What does legitimacy mean in regard to politics?  I have been wondering, again, about the conditions which require obedience to unjust laws. The question of legitimacy seems the most fundamental form of that ethical conundrum. Laws express authority. Before one accepts the laws of representatives or rulers, one must accept […]

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Translated from EPISTOLA DE MODO STUDENDI: Enter through rivers and not immediately into the sea. Master that which is easier before you tackle the more difficult. Be slow to speak. Don’t frequent noisy places. Live a good moral life. Pray. Love the space in which you study. Be pleasant to all people. Don’t worry about the […]

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So it’s not as impressive as How It Should Have Ended, but my TeacherOfPhilosophy hits can now be measured in the millions–albeit, at 0.1 million, with the use of a decimal place. The History of Philosophy playlist is a good introduction to the dialogues and speeches (plus one letter, one prayer, and one story) from the history of philosophy. There’s dudes like Socrates, […]

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The Night of Fire

 

Blaise Pascal, mathematician, scientist, inventor, and philosopher, a man who from the age of 16 had been making historic contributions to mathematics and the physical sciences, who, despite a sickly constitution and a capacity for intense abstraction nonetheless oversaw the material construction of his experiments and inventions with great zest, was barely past 30 when saw something unexpected one raw November night. He saw fire. The vision of it so branded him that he sewed the record he made of it, his Memorial, into his coat, carrying it with him the rest of his life:

Memorial, Pascal

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In the game We Happy Few, currently in development, Joy is a pill issued by government that makes everyone happy regardless of their circumstances. Downers — citizens who refuse to take the pill — are punished for their obstinance.  But suppose Downers were left alone. Suppose that it was a free choice to chemically induce […]

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Here’s an article that illustrates one of the huge difference between conservatives/libertarians and liberals/progressives: It’s been the prettiest love story in recent Canadian political history — the romancing of the Assembly of First Nations by the Liberal government. But there are early signs that the relationship between the star-crossed lovers could be fraying. Preview Open

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Do You Believe in Fate?

 

Abraham_Lilien By Ephraim Moses Lilien אפרים משה ליליין.

In my most recent post, I shared my life-changing experience of sharing the beginning of Pesach with the iWe family. As part of that special time, they invited a rabbi — iWe’s study partner — for lunch one day. A Chassid with a twinkle in his eye, he sat across the table from me, and his wit, intelligence and humor were evident from the start.

At some point during lunch, the rabbi asked me if I believed in fate. I told him that I didn’t, that I believed in free will which would contradict the concept of fate. Then he asked if G-d knew what choices I would make and I said that I felt G-d could know those choices, if He wished to know. He then pointed out that if G-d knew what my future held, how could I have free will? Was my life not pre-destined? I was silent. He assured me warmly that we didn’t need to pursue that discussion, but I realized it was something I wanted to give a lot of thought.

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It’s been brought to my attention that the first installment of this journal is pretty dark. I’m not a depressed guy. I’m all about figuring out how we can have community by sharing in beautiful things & insightful inquiries. I’m always trying to bring poetry & similar things to Ricochet. Of course, trying ain’t doing; […]

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  I’ve spent some time in Florence this month–I had my first Ricochet meet-up–I remembered my days in liberal arts wandering the streets of Florence a few fleeting days fancifully remembered a decade past…–I sat with my friend & talked over some of the things we saw. I’ve been meaning to write about it, but […]

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The Upside of Reality

 
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I can’t wait to show my folks the virtual pictures!

Imagine that, years from now, Virtual Reality hardware and simulations have advanced to a point where giant, richly-detailed virtual worlds — each with seemingly limitless potential for experience and interaction — are possible. Imagine, for example, deciding to spend a few hours of your first day of vacation in such a simulated world. Then, finding it a genuinely thrilling experience, you return there on every subsequent day of that vacation.

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Yesterday was the anniversary of Robert Frost’s birthday lo these many years ago in 1874. I wrote about The pasture, the opening poem of his first famous book. For those who care enough about this matter to wish for more thoughts, I would like to explain a few things I think I have learned about […]

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Donald Trump came to power on what some have called a righteous anger against the status quo in many areas of American Politics. At the same time some have also stated they believe he will retain the status quo in many areas of American Politics also. Trump’s ambiguous statements have only further enabled this conflict of […]

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I like history. I wish I could get paid to just sit around and read, ruminate, and occasionally pontificate on the subject. But alas, no such freedom for me at this juncture of my life, and in the current political climate, there are hazards to consider. But I digress. A couple of years ago, I […]

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One doesn’t normally expect to find one’s faith in God validated by a video game. But if you are one of the millions of gamers with access to the open beta of Tom Clancy’s The Division this weekend, you might consider how the game’s “Dark Zone” relates to the problem of evil.  Preview Open

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Allan Bloom says somewhere that Americans are the funniest people, because nowhere else will you ever hear someone say Mr. Aristotle. I think that is meant to show how good manners are mostly a matter of innocence. I came to think of that today. I teach kids how thinking works, grammar, & language. You know […]

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We know that the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is FORTY-TWO. We don’t know what the Question is, but obviously it has to fit the Answer. So what questions fit the answer “FORTY-TWO?” Let’s try out a few: Maybe it’s something very serious and philosophical, like How many great philosophers accepted some […]

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Can Religion Be Empirical?

 

JamesLet empiricism once become associated with religion, as hitherto, through some strange misunderstanding, it has been associated with irreligion, and I believe that a new era of religion as well as of philosophy will be ready to begin. — William James

Empiricism is the theory that we get knowledge through experience. As James notes above, it’s usually associated with things like science, reason, skepticism, and irreligious attitudes. Religion is more often associated with faith (usually thought to be separate from reason), dogmatism, and Rationalism, the view that knowledge comes from reason rather than experience. Are these associations accurate?

James provides us with a useful name for the view that they are notRadical Empiricism. He uses the term as a technical name for his own version of Pragmatism, but it’s still the best name for the theory I wish to propose: that we can get moral or religious knowledge from experience.

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I’m a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. One Saturday morning a few months ago I woke up to a generic email from the EPS. Along with more of the usual stuff that doesn’t really affect my life (if you know where I live you know I can’t easily fly up to Michigan this March […]

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