If you’ve worked in an office, you’re probably familiar with “honor box” coffee service. Everyone helps themselves to stewed coffee, adds to the lounge’s growing filth, and deposits a nominal sum in the honor box, with the accumulated proceeds being used to replenish supplies. Notoriously, this system often devolves into a tragedy of the commons, where too many people drink without paying.
People exist at different times. My life, for instance, consists of me-at-age-five, me-as-a-teenager, me-as-a-university-student, and of course many other temporal stages (or time-slices) as well. In a sense, then, we can see a single person, whose life extends over time, as akin to a group of people, each of whom exists for just a short stretch of time.
Theistic literature is full of references and allusions to a self-concealing deity. The psalm writer whose poems are included in the Hebrew Bible regularly calls out, in alternating notes of perplexity, impatience and despair, to a God whose felt presence apparently seemed frustratingly inconstant. But he or she still assumes that God is there.
As another summer is overcast by reports of religious conflicts and atrocities around the world, I have been thinking about faith, and how the way we understand it affects our response to some of the global challenges we face.
A ‘Liar cycle’ is a finite sequence of sentences where each sentence in the sequence except the last says that the next sentence is false, and where the final sentence in the sequence says that the first sentence is false.
Since roughly the middle of the last century, there has been a thriving philosophical debate about the nature of action. What is it that makes us agents rather than patients? What makes us responsible for the things that we do rather than the things that happen to us?
Lao (Laozi) Tzu is credited as the founder of Taoism, a Chinese philosophy and religion. An elusive figure, he was allegedly a learned yet reclusive official at the Zhōu court (1045–256 BC) – a lesser aristocrat of literary competence who worked as a copyist and archivist. Scholars have variously dated his life to between the third and sixth centuries BC, but he is best known as the author of the classic Tao Te Ching (‘The Book of the Way and its Power’).
Influenced by the discoveries of cognitive science, many of us will now accept that much of our mental life is unconscious. There are subliminal perceptions, implicit attitudes and beliefs, inferences that take place tacitly outside of our awareness, and much more.
This July, we’re featuring Jacques Derrida as our Philosopher of the Month. Derrida was a French philosopher known for his work on deconstruction and postmodern philosophy and literature. A controversial figure, he received criticism from many analytic philosophers. Derrida passed way in 2004, but his works has had a lasting impact on philosophers and literary theorists today. Take our quiz to see how well you know the life and studies of Derrida.
Following the disastrous performance of the Liberal Democrats in the recent British election, concern has been expressed that ‘core liberal values’ have to be kept alive in British politics. At the same time, the Labour Party has already begun a process of critical self-examination that would almost certainly move it to what they consider more centrist ground.
William Godwin did not philosophically address the question of debt obligations, although he often had many. Perhaps this helps to explain the omission. It’s very likely that Godwin would deny that there is such a thing as the obligation to repay debts, and his creditors wouldn’t have liked that.
It is not a compliment to say that a physician is practicing “cookbook medicine.” Rather, it suggests that the physician is employing a “one size fits all” approach, applying unreflective, impersonal clinical methods that may cause patient suffering due to lack of nuanced, reflective, and humanistic care. The best physicians—just like the best cooks—make use of creativity, intuition, judgment, and even je ne sais quoi.
Can you imagine a concert hall full of chimpanzees sitting, concentrated, and feeling ‘transported’ by the beauty of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony? Even harder would be to imagine a chimpanzee feeling a certain pleasure when standing in front of a beautiful sculpture. The appreciation of beauty and its qualities, according to Aristotle’s definition, from his Poetics (order, symmetry, and clear delineation and definiteness), is uniquely human.
Today there are high hopes for technological progress. Techno-optimists expect massive benefits for humankind from the invention of new technologies. Peter Diamandis is the founder of the X-prize foundation whose purpose is to arrange competitions for breakthrough inventions.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82), a quintessentially American writer and thinker, is also one of the most international. Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian, Persian, French, British, and German philosophers and literary figures pervade his work. As we think about “Western values” and “the clash of civilizations” today, it may be useful to consider the significant role that Islam plays in Emerson’s thought.
Here I want to present a novel version of a paradox first formulated by José Bernardete in the 1960s – one that makes its connections to the Yablo paradox explicit by building in the latter puzzle as a ‘part’. This is not the first time connections between Yablo’s and Bernardete’s puzzles have been noted (in fact, Yablo himself has discussed such links). But the version given here makes these connections particularly explicit.