The 253 new ideas included in the latest update (of 18th October), by Theme

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1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 1. Nature of Wisdom
Cicero sees wisdom in terms of knowledge, but earlier Stoics saw it as moral [Cicero]
     Full Idea: Cicero (drawing on Panaetius) treats wisdom as if its province were primarily a disinterested pursuit of knowledge. But earlier Stoics gave purely moral definitions of wisdom.
     From: M. Tullius Cicero (On Duties ('De Officiis') [c.44 BCE], 1.11-20), quoted by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 5
     A reaction: I would have thought that after long discussion most ancient (and even modern) philosophers would conclude that it is both. The 'intellectualism' of Socrates hovers in the background, implying that healthy knowledge produces virtue.
Moral self-knowledge is the beginning of all human wisdom [Kant]
     Full Idea: Moral self-knowledge, which seeks to penetrate into the depths (the abyss) of one's heart that are quite difficult to fathom, is the beginning of all human wisdom.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 441 I.I)
     A reaction: I'm not clear what I am supposed to be looking for on this quest. I'm guessing that being completely honest about one's own maxims in moral action would be a good start. And maybe confronting one's murkier desires.
1. Philosophy / C. History of Philosophy / 2. Ancient Philosophy / b. Pre-Socratic philosophy
The Pre-Socratics are not simple naturalists, because they do not always 'leave the gods out' [Leroi]
     Full Idea: The problem with making naturalism the hallmark of Pre-Socratic thought that they do not always 'leave the gods out'; the Divine can usually be found lurking somewhere is their cosmologies.
     From: Armand Marie LeRoi (The Lagoon: how Aristotle invented science [2014], 007)
     A reaction: An important observation. I've been guilty of this simplistic view. We tend to ignore the religious fragments, or we possess so little that we have no idea where religion figured in their accounts.
1. Philosophy / C. History of Philosophy / 2. Ancient Philosophy / c. Classical philosophy
Crates lived in poverty, and treated his whole life as a joke [Crates of Thebes, by Plutarch]
     Full Idea: Crates, with his bag and threadbare cloak, spent his whole life laughing and joking as though he were on holiday.
     From: report of Crates (Theb) (talk [c.325 BCE]) by Plutarch - 30: Quiet of Mind 266e
     A reaction: Crates sounds a little less alarming than Diogenes, while living a similar life. Was Crates the first ancestor of post-modernism?
1. Philosophy / C. History of Philosophy / 4. Later European Philosophy / c. Eighteenth century philosophy
Hamann, Herder and Jacobi were key opponents of the Enlightenment [Gardner]
     Full Idea: Hamann, Herder and Jacobi are central figues in the reaction against Enlightenment.
     From: Sebastian Gardner (Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason [1999], 10 'immediate')
     A reaction: From a British perspective I would see Hume as the leading such figure. Hamann emphasised the neglect of the role of language. Jacobi was a Christian.
Kant halted rationalism, and forced empiricists to worry about foundations [Gardner]
     Full Idea: Kant's Critique swiftly brought rationalism to a halt, and after Kant empiricism has displayed a nervousness regarding its foundations, and been forced to assume more sophisticated forms.
     From: Sebastian Gardner (Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason [1999], 10 Intro)
     A reaction: See the ideas of Laurence Bonjour for a modern revival of rationalism. After Kant philosophers either went existential, or stared gloomily into the obscure depths. Formal logic was seen as a possible rope ladder down.
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 3. Philosophy Defined
Philosophy is knowing each logos, how they fit together, and what follows from them [Epictetus]
     Full Idea: [Philosophical speculation] consists in knowing the elements of 'logos', what each of them is like, how they fit together, and what follows from them.
     From: Epictetus (The Discourses [c.56], 4.08.14), quoted by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 4.1
     A reaction: [Said to echo Zeno] If you substitute understanding for 'logos' (plausibly), I think this is exactly the view of philosophy I would subscribe to. We want to understand each aspect of life, and we want those understandings to cohere with one another.
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / a. Philosophy as worldly
Unobservant thinkers tend to dogmatise using insufficient facts [Aristotle]
     Full Idea: Those whom devotion to abstract discussions has rendered unobservant of the facts are too ready to dogmatise on the basis of a few observations.
     From: Aristotle (Coming-to-be and Passing-away (Gen/Corr) [c.335 BCE], 316a09)
     A reaction: I totally approve of the idea that a good philosopher should be 'observant'. Prestige in modern analytic philosophy comes from logical ability. There should be some rival criterion for attentiveness to facts, with equal prestige.
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / d. Philosophy as puzzles
Philosophers are marked by a joint love of evidence and ambiguity [Merleau-Ponty]
     Full Idea: The philosopher is marked by the distinguishing trait that he possesses inseparably the taste for evidence and the feeling for ambiguity.
     From: Maurice Merleau-Ponty (In Praise of Philosophy [1953], p.4), quoted by Sarah Bakewell - At the Existentialist Café 11
     A reaction: I strongly approve of the idea that philosophers are primarily interested in evidence (rather than reason or logic), and I also like the idea that the ambiguous evidence is the most interesting. The mind looks physical and non-physical.
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / e. Philosophy as reason
Because there is only one human reason, there can only be one true philosophy from principles [Kant]
     Full Idea: Considered objectively, there can only be one human reason, there cannot be many philosophies; in other words, there can only be one true philosophy from principles, in however many conflicting ways men have philosophised about the same proposition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], Pref)
     A reaction: An idea that embodies the Enlightenment ideal. I like the idea that there is one true philosophy, because there is only one world. Kant is talking of philosophy 'from principles', which means his transendental idealism.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 2. Possibility of Metaphysics
Metaphysics might do better to match objects to our cognition (and not start with the objects) [Kant]
     Full Idea: Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects; ...let us try whether we do not get farther with problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to cognition.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B Pref xvi)
     A reaction: Kant compares this to rethinking our viewpoint on the solar system, and Gardner calls this idea Kant's 'Copernican Revolution'. We can only applaud the idea that we should be more self-conscious when we assess reality. Just don't give up on reality!
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 3. Metaphysical Systems
It is still possible to largely accept Kant as a whole (where others must be dismantled) [Kant, by Gardner]
     Full Idea: Unusually, Kant's system has continued to seem possible, to some degree, to endorse as a whole, as opposed to an edifice that has most to offer by being dismantled.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Sebastian Gardner - Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason 10 Intro
     A reaction: I think Aristotle passes this test, but Plato has to be dismantled. No one ever swallows Leibniz whole. I suppose Hume can be taken complete, but only because of his minimal commitments.
Reason has two separate objects, morality and freedom, and nature, which ultimately unite [Kant]
     Full Idea: The legislation of human reason (philosophy) has two objects, nature and freedom, and thus contains the natural law as well as the moral law, initially in two separate systems, but ultimately in a single philosophical system.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B868/A840)
     A reaction: Pure reason is for nature, and practical reason (which has priority) is for freedom and morality. There is a streak of religiosity in Kant which makes him give morality and normativity priority over truth and science.
Super-ordinate disciplines give laws or principles; subordinate disciplines give concrete cases [Peirce, by Atkin]
     Full Idea: In Peirce's system, a super-ordinate discipline provides general laws or principles for subordinate disciplines, which in turn provide concrete examples of those general laws.
     From: report of Charles Sanders Peirce (works [1892]) by Albert Atkin - Peirce 1 'System'
     A reaction: Does he really mean that subordinate disciplines have no principles or laws? That can't be right.
I tried to be unsystematic and piecemeal, but failed; my papers presuppose my other views [Lewis]
     Full Idea: I should have like to be a piecemeal, unsystematic philosopher, offering independent proposals on a variety of topics. It was not be. I succumbed too often to the temptation to presuppose my views on one topic when writing on another.
     From: David Lewis (Introduction to Philosophical Papers I [1983], p.1)
     A reaction: He particularly mentions his possible worlds realism as a doctrine which coloured all his other work. A charming insight into the mind of a systematic thinker (called by someone 'the most systematic metaphysician since Leibniz').
Only Kant and Hegel have united nature, morals, politics, aesthetics and religion [Gardner]
     Full Idea: Apart from Hegel, no later philosophical system equals in stature Kant's attempt to weld together the diverse fields of natural science, morality, politics, aesthetics and religion into a systematic overarching epistemological and metaphysical unity.
     From: Sebastian Gardner (Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason [1999], 10)
     A reaction: Earlier candidate are Plato and Aristotle. Earlier Enlightenment figures say little about morality or aesthetics. Hobbes ranges widely. Aquinas covered most things.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 4. Metaphysics as Science
Metaphysics must understand the world thoroughly, as a principal source of knowledge [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: The task of metaphysics is not to pass over experience in which the world exists, but to understand it thoroughly, since inner and outer experience are certainly the principal source of all knowledge.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Idea [1819], I:428), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 3 'Will'
     A reaction: I wonder to what extent he meant ordinary experience, and to what extent he was advocating the study if science?
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 5. Metaphysics beyond Science
Metaphysics studies the inexplicable ends of explanation [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: The plummet touches the bottom of the sea now at a greater depth, now at a less, but is bound to reach it somewhere sooner or later; the study of this inexplicable devolves upon metaphysics.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], I:1)
     A reaction: This definition of metapysics contains the germ of despair about the subject. Does he hope that metaphysicians can explain what nobody else can?
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 6. Metaphysics as Conceptual
For any subject, its system of non-experiential concepts needs a metaphysics [Kant]
     Full Idea: A philosophy of any subject (a system of rational knowledge from concepts) requires a system of pure rational concepts independent of any conditions of intuition, that is, a metaphysics.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 375 Pref)
     A reaction: 'Pure rational concepts' must be a priori, and (in Kant's case) transcendental - i.e. discovered from the study of presuppositions. Does this actually say that the philosophies of science, biology, psychology, economics etc each needs a metaphysics?
1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 2. Phenomenology
Later phenomenologists tried hard to incorporate social relationships [Bakewell]
     Full Idea: Ever since Husserl, phenomenologists and existentialists had been trying to stretch the definition of existence to incorporate our social lives and relationships.
     From: Sarah Bakewell (At the Existentialist Café [2016], 08)
     A reaction: I see a parallel move in Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument. Husserl's later work seems to have been along those lines. Putnam's Twin Earth too.
Phenomenology begins from the immediate, rather than from axioms and theories [Bakewell]
     Full Idea: Traditional philosophy often started with abstract axioms or theories, but the German phenomenologists went straight for life as they experienced it, moment to moment.
     From: Sarah Bakewell (At the Existentialist Café [2016], 01)
     A reaction: Bakewell gives this as the gist of what Aron said to Sartre in 1933, providing the bridge from phenomenology to existentialism. The obvious thought is that everybody outside philosophy starts from immediate experience, so why is this philosophy?
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
Philosophers should not offer multiple proofs - suggesting the weakness of each of them [Kant]
     Full Idea: It is a highly unphilosophic expedient to resort to a number of proofs for one and the same proposition, consoling oneself that the multitude of reasons makes up for the inadequacy of any one of them taken by itself.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 403 Intro XIII)
     A reaction: This makes philosophical proofs sound very mathematical in character, whereas I think most reasons for a proposition given in philosophy are more like evidence, which can clearly accumulate in a rational way. Some maths proofs are better than others.
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 2. Logos
Stoics believed that rational capacity in man (logos) is embodied in the universe [Stoic school, by Long]
     Full Idea: The Stoics believed the faculty in man which enables him to think, to plan and to speak - which they called 'logos' - is literally embodied in the universe at large.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 4 Intro
     A reaction: This is the stage where logos becomes something dramatically more grand than the logos found in Plato's 'Theaetetus' (but see Heraclitus). It is what is meant by St John's 'In the beginning was the logos' (which is straightforward stoicism).
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 4. Aims of Reason
Religion and legislation can only be respected if they accept free and public examination [Kant]
     Full Idea: Religion and legislation ...excite a just suspicion against themselves, and cannot claim that unfeigned respect that reason grants only to that which has been able to withstand free and public examination.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], A Pref xi n)
     A reaction: A wonderful statement of a core principle of the liberal enlightenment. I can't really relate to anyone who would reject this idea (in general). Legislation might have special circumstances (such as wartime).
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 5. Objectivity
We become objective when we detach ourselves from the world [Janaway]
     Full Idea: We apprehend the world purely objectively, only when we no longer know that we belong to it.
     From: Christopher Janaway (Schopenhauer [1994], II:368), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 6 'Objectivity'
     A reaction: Since we are not actually detached from the world, that makes objective thought an act of imagination. And none the worse for that, I would say, since philosophers don't seem to understand the central epistemological importance of imagination.
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 9. Limits of Reason
Mortals are incapable of being fully rational [Plato]
     Full Idea: We mustn't assume that mortal eyes will ever be able to look upon reason and get to know it adequately.
     From: Plato (The Laws [c.348 BCE], 897d)
     A reaction: This is in the context of the rational control of the whole Cosmos. I presume Plato would be flabbergasted by the findings of recent physics and cosmology. Did Kant believe that he was being completely rational about ethics?
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 6. Ockham's Razor
Supposing many principles is superfluous if a few will do it [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: It is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Ia,Q2,Art3,Ob2)
     A reaction: Notice that this is 'superfluous' rather than 'wrong'. But ten people can lift a piano which could have been lifted by eight. Note that this is 150 years before Ockham.
2. Reason / E. Argument / 2. Transcendental Argument
Transcendental proofs derive necessities from possibilities (e.g. possibility of experiencing objects) [Gardner]
     Full Idea: A transcendental proof converts a possibility into a necessity: by saying under what conditions experience of objects is possible, transcendental proofs show those conditions to be necessary for us to the extent that we have any experience of objects.
     From: Sebastian Gardner (Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason [1999], 02 'Transc')
     A reaction: They appear to be hypothetical necessities, rather than true metaphysical necessities. Gardner is discussing Kant, but seems to be generalising. Hypothetical necessities are easy: if it is flying, it is necessarily above the ground.
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 3. Value of Truth
Piety requires us to honour truth above our friends [Aristotle]
     Full Idea: While both are dear, piety requires us to honour truth above our friends.
     From: Aristotle (Nichomachean Ethics [c.334 BCE], 1096a16)
     A reaction: Interesting that 'piety' requires it. Piety doesn't figure much in Aristotle. He has just been talking about Platonic Forms. It would be an odd person who sacrificed a friendship for a trivial truth.
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 9. Rejecting Truth
If the existence of truth is denied, the 'Truth does not exist' must be true! [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: Whoever denies the existence of truth grants that truth does not exist: and if truth does not exist, then the proposition 'Truth does not exist' is true: and if there is anything true, there must be truth.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Art 1, Obj 3)
     A reaction: A classic example of turning the tables, also applicable to anyone who firmly denies knowledge, or that words are meaningful, or says that meaning needs verification. However, one measily truth is not much consolation.
3. Truth / B. Truthmakers / 10. Making Future Truths
The causes of future true events must exist now, so they will happen because of destiny [Chrysippus, by Cicero]
     Full Idea: True future events cannot be such as do not possess causes on account of which they will happen; therefore that which is true must possess causes: and so, when the [true future events] happen they will have happened as a result of destiny.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - On Fate ('De fato') 9.23-8
     A reaction: [exact ref unclear] Presumably the current causes are the truthmakers for the future events, and so the past is the truthmaker of the future, if you are a determinist.
Future events are true if one day we will say 'this event is happening now' [Carneades]
     Full Idea: We call those past events true of which at an earlier time this proposition was true: 'They are present now'; similarly, we shall call those future events true of which at some future time this proposition will be true: 'They are present now'.
     From: Carneades (works (all lost) [c.174 BCE]), quoted by M. Tullius Cicero - On Fate ('De fato') 9.23-8
     A reaction: This is a very nice way of paraphrasing statements about the necessity of true future contingent events. It still relies, of course, on the veracity of a tensed assertion
3. Truth / E. Pragmatic Truth / 1. Pragmatic Truth
If truth is the end of enquiry, what if it never ends, or ends prematurely? [Atkin on Peirce]
     Full Idea: Two related worries about Peirce's account of truth are (from Royce) what are we to make of truth if enquiry never reaches an end, and (from Russell) what are we to make of truth if enquiry never reaches an end?
     From: comment on Charles Sanders Peirce (works [1892]) by Albert Atkin - Peirce 3 'issues'
     A reaction: The defence of Peirce must be that the theory is not holistic - referring to the whole Truth about absolutely everything. The discovery of the periodic table seems to me to support Peirce. In many areas basic enquiry has reached an end.
5. Theory of Logic / C. Ontology of Logic / 3. If-Thenism
Pure mathematics deals only with hypotheses, of which the reality does not matter [Peirce]
     Full Idea: The pure mathematician deals exclusively with hypotheses. Whether or not there is any corresponding real thing, he does not care.
     From: Charles Sanders Peirce (works [1892], CP5.567), quoted by Albert Atkin - Peirce 3 'separation'
     A reaction: [Dated 1902] Maybe we should identify a huge branch of human learning as Hyptheticals. Professor of Hypotheticals at Cambridge University. The trouble is it would have to include computer games. So why does maths matter more than games?
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 1. Logical Form
Stoics avoided universals by paraphrasing 'Man is...' as 'If something is a man, then it is...' [Stoic school, by Long]
     Full Idea: Stoics reduced universals to thoughts or concepts, in order to make universal statements which would not conflict with their metaphysics, they rephrased sentences of the form 'Man is...' as conditionals: 'If something is a man, then it is...'
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 4.3.3
     A reaction: [reference to Sextus, Adv Math 9.8] Predicate logic handles this with ease. It is something like the strategy of Ramsey sentences, for eliminating metaphysical properties.
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 3. Antinomies
The battle of the antinomies is usually won by the attacker, and lost by any defender [Kant]
     Full Idea: These sophistical assertions [the antinomies] open us a dialectical battlefield where each party will keep the upper hand as long as it is allowed to attack, and will certainly defeat that which is compelled to conduct itself merely defensively.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B450/A423)
     A reaction: This seems related to the interesting question of where the 'onus of proof' lies in a major dispute. Kant's implication is that the battles are not rational, if they are settled in such a fashion.
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 2. Geometry
Modern geoemtry is either 'pure' (and formal), or 'applied' (and a posteriori) [Gardner]
     Full Idea: There is now 'pure' geometry, consisting of formal systems based on axioms for which truth is not claimed, and which are consequently not synthetic; and 'applied', a branch of physics, the truth of which is empirical, and therefore not a priori.
     From: Sebastian Gardner (Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason [1999], 03 'Maths')
     A reaction: His point is that there is no longer any room for a priori geometry. Might the same division be asserted of arithmetic, or analysis, or set theory?
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 5. The Infinite / k. Infinitesimals
Things get smaller without end [Anaxagoras]
     Full Idea: Of the small there is no smallest, but always a smaller.
     From: Anaxagoras (Natural Science (frags) [c.460 BCE], B03), quoted by Gregory Vlastos - The Physical Theory of Anaxagoras II
     A reaction: Anaxagoras seems to be speaking of the physical world (and probably writing prior to the emergence of atomism, which could have been a rebellion against he current idea).
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 2. Types of Existence
There is no medium state between existence and non-existence [Hume]
     Full Idea: Betwixt unity and number there can be no medium; no more than betwixt existence and non-existence.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.2)
     A reaction: Just to confirm that, as you would expect, the great empiricist has no time for 'subsistence', or shadows and holes having lower grade existece.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 4. The Absolute
The Absolute is the primitive system of concepts which are actualised [Hegel, by Gardner]
     Full Idea: In Hegel the Absolute is the exhaustive, unconditioned and self-grounding system of concepts made concrete in actuality, the world of experience.
     From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (Science of Logic [1816]) by Sebastian Gardner - Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason 10 'Absolute'
     A reaction: If I collect multiple attempts to explain what the Absolute is, I may one day drift toward a hazy understanding of it. Right now this idea means nothing to me, but I pass it on. His notion of 'concept' seems a long way from the normal modern one.
Qualities and relations are mere appearance; the Absolute is a single undifferentiated substance [Bradley, by Heil]
     Full Idea: In Bradley's view, qualities and relations belong to the realm of appearance. We are left with a single, undifferentiated substance: the Absolute.
     From: report of F.H. Bradley (Appearance and Reality [1893]) by John Heil - Relations 'Internal'
     A reaction: I've not read Bradley, but I can't distinguish this proposal from Parmenides's belief in The One. Or maybe Spinoza's monist view of God and Nature (but that is 'differentiated'). It doesn't sound like Hegel.
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 6. Fundamentals / c. Monads
Leibnizian monads qualify as Kantian noumena [Gardner]
     Full Idea: Leibnizian monads clearly satisfy Kant's definition of noumena.
     From: Sebastian Gardner (Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason [1999], 06 'Noumena')
     A reaction: This needs qualifying, because Leibniz clearly specifies the main attributes of monads, where Kant is adamant that we can saying virtually nothing about noumena.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 1. Realism
For me thing objective thing-in-itself is the will [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Thing in itself signifies that which exists independently of our perception, that which actually is; …to Kant it was '= x'; to me it is will.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], IV:61)
     A reaction: Does he mean his own will, which is plausible since he has direct experience of it, or is he referring will in general - whatever that is?
Realism is basic to the scientific method [Peirce]
     Full Idea: The fundamental hypothesis of the method of science is this: There are real things, whose characters are entirely independent of our opinion of them.
     From: Charles Sanders Peirce (The Fixation of Belief [1877]), quoted by Albert Atkin - Peirce 3 'method'
     A reaction: He admits later that this is only a commitment and not a fact. It seems to me that when you combine this idea with the huge success of science, the denial of realism is crazy. Philosophy has a lot to answer for.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 3. Anti-realism
Even the most perfect intuition gets no closer to things in themselves [Kant]
     Full Idea: Even if we could bring this intuition of ours to the highest degree of distinctiveness we would not thereby come any closer to the constitution of objects in themselves.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B060/A43)
     A reaction: Either slightly ridiculous anti-realism, or a self-evident platitude. Personally I think I know the reality of trees pretty well, but to totally embrace their constitution I would have to become a tree (an Ent). My experience of me is only partial.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 4. Naturalism
Non-human things are explicable naturally, and voluntary things by the will, so God is not needed [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: All natural things can be reduced to one principle, which is nature; and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle, which is human reason, or will. Therefore God does not exist.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Ia,Q2,Art3,Ob2)
     A reaction: Not, of course, the opinion of Aquinas. So the possibility of naturalism (assuming the human will can be further reduced to nature) was a clear option in the thirteenth century. In reply Aquinas cites his Fifth Way.
7. Existence / E. Categories / 1. Categories
Categories are general concepts of objects, which determine the way in which they are experienced [Kant]
     Full Idea: The categories are the concepts of an object in general, by means of which its intuition is regarded as determined with regard to one of the logical functions of government.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B128/A95)
     A reaction: These are Kant's 'transcendental' categories. I'm wondering what he made of our more normal categories, such as animal species, genera etc.
8. Modes of Existence / A. Relations / 1. Nature of Relations
Aristotle said relations are not substances, so (if they exist) they must be accidents [Aristotle, by Heil]
     Full Idea: Aristotle categorised relations as accidents - Socrates's whiteness,s the sphericity of this ball - entities dependent on substances. Relations are not substances, so they must be, if anything at all, accidents.
     From: report of Aristotle (Categories [c.331 BCE], §7) by John Heil - Relations 'Historical'
     A reaction: Heil says this thought encouraged anti-realist views of relations, which became the norm until Russell.
The ratio between two lines can't be a feature of one, and cannot be in both [Leibniz]
     Full Idea: If the ratio of two lines L and M is conceived as abstracted from them both, without considering which is the subject and which the object, which will then be the subject? We cannot say both, for then we should have an accident in two subjects.
     From: Gottfried Leibniz (Letters to Samuel Clarke [1716], 5th Paper, §47), quoted by John Heil - Relations 'External'
     A reaction: [compressed] Leibniz is rejecting external relations as having any status in ontology. It looks like a mistake (originating in Aristotle) to try to shoehorn the ontology of relations into the substance-properties framework.
Philosophers of logic and maths insisted that a vocabulary of relations was essential [Russell, by Heil]
     Full Idea: Relations were regarded with suspicion, until philosophers working in logic and mathematics advanced reasons to doubt that we could provide anything like an adequate description of the world without developing a relational vocabulary.
     From: report of Bertrand Russell (The Principles of Mathematics [1903], Ch.26) by John Heil - Relations
     A reaction: [Heil cites Russell as the only reference] A little warning light, that philosophers describing the world managed to do without real relations, and it was only for the abstraction of logic and maths that they became essential.
We want the ontology of relations, not just a formal way of specifying them [Heil]
     Full Idea: A satisfying account of relations must be ontologically serious. This means refusing to rest content with abstract specifications of relations as sets of ordered n-tuples.
     From: John Heil (Relations [2009], Intro)
     A reaction: A set of ordered entities would give the extension of a relation, which wouldn't, among other things, explain co-extensive relations (if all the people to my left were also taller than me). Heil's is a general cry from the heart about formal philosophy.
Two people are indirectly related by height; the direct relation is internal, between properties [Heil]
     Full Idea: If Simmias is taller than Socrates, they are indirectly related; they are related via their possession of properties that are themselves directly - and internally - related. Hence relational truths are made true by non-relational features of the world.
     From: John Heil (Relations [2009], 'Founding')
     A reaction: This seems to be a strategy for reducing external relations to internal relations, which are intrinsic to objects, which thus reduces the ontology. Heil is not endorsing it, but cites Kit Fine 2000. The germ of this idea is in Plato.
Maybe all the other features of the world can be reduced to relations [Heil]
     Full Idea: A striking idea is that relations are ontologically primary: monadic, non-relational features of the world are constituted by relations. A view of this kind is defended by Peirce, and contemporary 'structural realists' like Ladyman.
     From: John Heil (Relations [2009], 'Relational')
     A reaction: I can't make sense of this proposal, which seems to offer relations with no relata. What is a relation? What is it made of? How do you individuate two instances of a relations, without reference to the relata?
It may be that internal relations like proportion exist, because we directly perceive it [MacBride]
     Full Idea: Some philosophers maintain that we literally perceive proportions and other internal relations. These relations must exist, otherwise we couldn't perceive them.
     From: Fraser MacBride (Relations [2016], 3)
     A reaction: [He cites Mulligan 1991, and Hochberg 2013:232] This seems a rather good point. You can't perceive the differing heights of two people, yet fail to perceive that one is taller. You also perceive 'below', which is external.
8. Modes of Existence / A. Relations / 2. Internal Relations
If Simmias is taller than Socrates, that isn't a feature that is just in Simmias [Plato]
     Full Idea: When you say Simmias is taller than Socrates but shorter than Phaedo, so you mean there is in Simmias both tallness and shortness? - I do. ...But surely he is not taller than Socrates because he is Simmias but because of the tallness he happens to have?
     From: Plato (Phaedo [c.382 BCE], 102b-c)
     A reaction: He adds that both people must be cited. This appears to be what we now call a rejection relative height as an 'internal' relation, which is it would presumably be if it was a feature of one or of both men.
A relation is internal if two things possessing the relation could not fail to be related [Moore,GE, by Heil]
     Full Idea: Moore characterises internal relations modally, as those essential to their relata. If a and b are related R-wise, and R is an internal relation, a and b could not fail to be so related; otherwise R is external.
     From: report of G.E. Moore (External and Internal Relations [1919]) by John Heil - Relations 'Internal'
     A reaction: I don't think of Moore as an essentialist, but this fits the essentialist picture nicely, and is probably best paraphrased in terms of powers. Integers are the standard example of internal relations.
Truthmaking is a clear example of an internal relation [Heil]
     Full Idea: Truthmaking is a paradigmatic internal relation: if you have a truthbearer, a representation, and you have the world as the truthbearer represents it as being, you have truthmaking, you have the truthbearer's being true.
     From: John Heil (Relations [2009], 'Causal')
     A reaction: It is nice to have an example of an internal relation other than numbers, and closer to the concrete world. Is the relation between the world and facts about the world the same thing, or another example?
In the case of 5 and 6, their relational truthmaker is just the numbers [Heil]
     Full Idea: We might say that the truthmakers for 'six is greater than five' are six and five themselves. On this view, truthmakers for one class of relational truths are non-relational features of the world.
     From: John Heil (Relations [2009], 'Founding')
     A reaction: That seems to be a good way of expressing the existence of an internal relation.
If R internally relates a and b, and you have a and b, you thereby have R [Heil]
     Full Idea: A simple way to think about internal relations is: if R internally relates a and b, then, if you have a and b, you thereby have R. If you have six and you have five, you thereby have six's being greater than five.
     From: John Heil (Relations [2009], 'External')
     A reaction: This seems to work a lot better for abstracta than for physical objects, where I am struggling to think of a parallel example. Parenthood? Temporal relations between things? Acorn and oak?
Internal relations are fixed by existences, or characters, or supervenience on characters [MacBride]
     Full Idea: Internal relations are determined either by the mere existence of the things they relate, or by their intrinsic characters, or they supervene on the intrinsic characters of the things they relate.
     From: Fraser MacBride (Relations [2016], 3)
     A reaction: Suggesting that they 'supervene' doesn't explain anything (and supervenience never explains anything). I vote for the middle one - the intrinsic character. It has to be something about the existence, and not the mere fact of existence.
8. Modes of Existence / A. Relations / 4. Formal Relations / a. Types of relation
'Multigrade' relations are those lacking a fixed number of relata [MacBride]
     Full Idea: A 'unigrade' relation R has a definite degree or adicity: R is binary, or ternary....or n-ary (for some unique n). By contrast a relation is 'multigrade' if it fails to be unigrade. Causation appears to be multigrade.
     From: Fraser MacBride (Relations [2016], 1)
     A reaction: He also cites entailment, which may have any number of premises.
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 4. Powers as Essence
If properties are powers, then causal relations are internal relations [Heil]
     Full Idea: On the conception that properties are powers, it is no longer obvious that causal relations are external relations. Given the powers - all the powers in play - you have the manifestations.
     From: John Heil (Relations [2009], 'Causal')
     A reaction: This also delivers on a plate the necessity felt to be in causal relations, because the relation is inevitable once you are given the relata. But can you have an accidental (rather than essential) internal relation? Not in the case of numbers.
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 6. Dispositions / d. Dispositions as occurrent
Peirce's later realism about possibilities and generalities went beyond logical positivism [Peirce, by Atkin]
     Full Idea: The realism about possibilities, generalities, tendencies and habits that we find in Peirce's later maxim is something that the logical positivists would have been uncomfortable with.
     From: report of Charles Sanders Peirce (works [1892]) by Albert Atkin - Peirce 2 'Concl'
     A reaction: Atkin examines the various later statements of the earlier maxim, given here in Idea 21490. Ryle and Quine express the empiricist and logical positivist approach to dispositions.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 1. Physical Objects
The a priori concept of objects in general is the ground of experience [Kant]
     Full Idea: Concepts of objects in general lie at the ground of all experiential cognition as a priori conditions.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B126/A93)
     A reaction: Does Kant have an a priori insight that process philosophy, or philosophy based entirely on relations, are wrong?
Our idea of an object consists entirely of the practical effects it might have [Peirce]
     Full Idea: Consider what effects, which might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conceptions to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.
     From: Charles Sanders Peirce (How to Make our Ideas Clear [1878], EP1.132), quoted by Albert Atkin - Peirce 2 'early'
     A reaction: This is his 1878 version, which was fine-tuned later in life. He seems to have extended his principle to include possibilities, as well as the mere object. That is, he moved beyond mere nominalism.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 4. Individuation / a. Individuation
Indiivduation is only seeing that a thing is stable and continuous over time [Hume]
     Full Idea: The principle of individuation is nothing but the invariableness and uninterruptedness of any object through a supposed variation of time, by which the mind can trace it in the different periods of its existence.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.2)
     A reaction: Not convinced by this. I can individuate something by an almost instantaneous glimpse. I don't increasingly individuate it as time passes. Instant viewing of type and structure may be enough.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / d. Substance defined
All appearances need substance, as that which persists through change [Kant]
     Full Idea: All appearances contain that which persists (substance) as the object itself, and that which can change as its mere determination (i.e. the way in which the object exists). ...[2nd ed] In all change of appearances substance persists.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B224/A182)
     A reaction: This is a full-blooded commitment by Kant to the traditional Aristotelian concept of a substance which endures through the change in its accidental features. Though in Kant's case the commitment is 'transcendental', not realist.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 4. Essence as Definition
To grasp a thing we need its name, its definition, and what it really is [Plato]
     Full Idea: There are three elements in any given thing: the first is what the object actually is, the second is the definition of this, and the third is the name.
     From: Plato (The Laws [c.348 BCE], 895d)
     A reaction: I take the importance of this to be its distinction between what it is, and the definition of what it is. Aristotle maintains this distinction, but some modern Aristotelians seem to get the confused. Plato worried a lot more about names than we do.
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 1. Objects over Time
Changing a part can change the whole, not absolutely, but by its proportion of the whole [Hume]
     Full Idea: Though the change of any considerable part of a mass of matter destroys the identity of the whole, yet we must measure the greatness of the part, not absolutely, but by its proportion to the whole.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: This seems to nicely demonstrate that the wholeness is in the mind of the perceiver, and does not simply depend on objective facts. Compare the proportion needed to change my pile of mud and my pile of gold.
A change more obviously destroys an identity if is quick and observed [Hume]
     Full Idea: A change in any considerable part of a body destroys its identity; but 'tis remarkable that where the change is produced gradually and insensibly we are less apt to ascribe to it the same effect.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: Broad spotted that landscapes change too, but so slowly that we barely admit any change at all. The type of change also matters. If my car slowly changes to chocolate the speed of change is a minor factor.
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 7. Intermittent Objects
If a ruined church is rebuilt, its relation to its parish makes it the same church [Hume]
     Full Idea: If a church which was formerly of brick fell to ruin, the parish can build the same church of free-stone, with modern architecture. Neither the form nor materials are the same, but their relation to the parishioners is sufficient to say they are the same.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: The clearly invites the question of whether this is type-identity or token-identity. If the parish decided they wanted two churches they obviously wouldn't be the same (even if they then demolished the first one).
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 8. Continuity of Rivers
We accept the identity of a river through change, because it is the river's nature [Hume]
     Full Idea: Where the objects are in their nature changeable and inconstant, we admit of a more sudden transition. The nature of a river consists in the motion and change of parts. What is expected appears of less moment than what is unusual and extraordinary.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: Aha! Little does Hume realise how Aristotelian he is! Aristotle may have a more objective view of the 'nature' of a thing, but making inferences about identity over time from a thing's essential nature is pure Aristotle.
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 9. Ship of Theseus
The purpose of the ship makes it the same one through all variations [Hume]
     Full Idea: The common end [of a ship], in which the parts conspire, is the same under all variations, and affords an easy transition of the imagination from one situation of the body to another.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: It is not true that a ship remains the same under ALL variations. Consider gradually changing a yacht into a racing powerboat. You might say the purpose is then changed, but the slight variations in a yacht can slightly change its purpose.
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 13. No Identity over Time
We treat slowly changing things as identical for the sake of economy in language [Reid]
     Full Idea: All bodies, as they consist of innumerable parts, are subject to continual changes of their substance. When such changes are gradual, because language could not afford a different name for each state, it retains the same name and is considered the same.
     From: Thomas Reid (Essays on Intellectual Powers: Memory [1785], III.Ch 4)
     A reaction: This is hard to deny. We could hardly rename a child each morning. Simlarly, we can't have a unique name for each leaf on a tree. Economy of language explains a huge amount in philosophy.
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 1. Concept of Identity
Multiple objects cannot convey identity, because we see them as different [Hume]
     Full Idea: A mutiplicity of objects can never convey the idea of identity. The mind always pronounces the one not to be the other.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.2)
     A reaction: However, if we are talking on the phone about two objects we are viewing, such as two buildings, our descriptions might lead us to conclude that our objects are identical. Thus experience might imply identity.
Identity is familiar to common sense, but very hard to define [Reid]
     Full Idea: Every man of common sense has a clear and distinct notion of identity. If you ask for a definition of identity, I confess I can give none. It is too simple a notion.
     From: Thomas Reid (Essays on Intellectual Powers: Memory [1785], III.Ch 4)
     A reaction: 'Identical' seems to be a two-place predicate, but the only strict way two things can be identical is if there is actually just one thing. In which case just drop the word 'identity' (instead of defining it), and say there is just one thing here.
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 5. Self-Identity
'An object is the same with itself' is meaningless; it expresses unity, not identity [Hume]
     Full Idea: In that proposition 'an object is the same with itself', if the idea expressed by the word 'object' were no way distinguished from that meant by 'itself', we should really mean nothing. ...One single object conveys the idea of unity, not that of identity.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.2)
     A reaction: As far as I can see it is mathematicians who like self-identity, to justify x=x, which they need. To say 'this vase is identical with itself' is an empty locution. It expresses either unity or stability over time. See Idea 21292.
Saying an object is the same with itself is only meaningful over a period of time [Hume]
     Full Idea: We cannot, in any propriety of speech, say that an object is the same with itself, unless we mean that the object existent at one time is the same with itself at another time.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.2)
     A reaction: This seems correct, but the strict language of identity is superfluous when identifying stolen goods. 'This is my watch', not 'this watch is identical with my watch'.
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 9. Sameness
A tree remains the same in the popular sense, but not in the strict philosophical sense [Butler]
     Full Idea: When a man swears to the same tree having stood for fifty years in the same place, he means ...not that the tree has been all that time the same in the strict philosophical sense of the word. ...In a loose and popular sense they are said to be the same.
     From: Joseph Butler (Analogy of Religion [1736], App.1)
     A reaction: A helpful distinction which we should hang on. Of course, by the standards of modern physics, nothing is strictly the same from one Planck time to the next. All is flux. So we either drop the word 'same' (for objects) or relax a bit.
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 3. Types of Necessity
Carneades distinguished logical from causal necessity, when talking of future events [Long on Carneades]
     Full Idea: From 'E will take place is true' it follows that E must take place. But 'must' here is logical not causal necessity. It is a considerable achievement of Carneades to have distinguished these two senses of necessity.
     From: comment on Carneades (works (all lost) [c.174 BCE]) by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 3
     A reaction: Personally I am inclined to think 'necessity' is univocal, and does not have two senses. What Carneades has nicely done is distinguish the two different grounds for the necessities.
Necessity is physical, logical, mathematical or moral [Schopenhauer, by Janaway]
     Full Idea: For Schopenauer there are physical necessity, logical necessity, mathematical necessity and moral necessity.
     From: report of Arthur Schopenhauer (Fourfold Root of Princ of Sufficient Reason [1813]) by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 2 'Fourfold'
     A reaction: These derive from four modes of explanation, by causes, by grounding in truths or facts, by mathematical reality, and by motives. Not clear why mathematics gets its own necessity. I like metaphysics derived from explanations, though. Necessity makers.
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 1. Possibility
That a concept is not self-contradictory does not make what it represents possible [Kant]
     Full Idea: That the concept of a thing is possible (not self-contradictory) is not yet sufficient for assuming the possibility of the thing itself (the objective reality of the concept).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 382 Intro I)
     A reaction: I take this to be an inkling of Kripke's a posteriori scientific necessities, which place far greater restrictions on the possibilies of what we seem to have conceived, in addition to the mere need for consistency.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
Perception an open hand, a fist is 'grasping', and holding that fist is knowledge [Zeno of Citium, by Long]
     Full Idea: Zeno said perceptions starts like an open hand; then the assent by our governing-principle is partly closing the hand; then full 'grasping' is like making a fist; and finally knowledge is grasping the fist with the other hand.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (talk [c.294 BCE]) by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 4.3.1
     A reaction: [In Cicero, Acad 2.145] It sounds as if full knowledge requires meta-cognition - knowing that you know.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 3. Value of Knowledge
Knowledge is not power! Ignorant people possess supreme authority [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Knowledge is power. The devil it is! One man can have a great deal of knowledge without its giving him the least power, while another possesses supreme authority but next to no knowledge.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], III:43)
     A reaction: He is referring to Bacon's famous adage. Bacon may be right about military affairs, but not about politics.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 1. Perceptual Realism / b. Direct realism
A knowing being possesses a further reality, the 'presence' of the thing known [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: Knowing beings are differentiated from non-knowing beings by this: non-knowing beings have only their own reality, but knowing beings are capable of possessing also the reality of something else, ...a presence of the thing known produced by this thing.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], 1a,q.14,art 1)
     A reaction: [Quoted by Ryan Meade in a talk at Pigotts] A famous and much discussed remark. Aquinas was a direct realist about perception, so this presence seems to be the thing itself, rather than a 'representation'.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism
Objects having to be experiencable is not the same as full idealism [Gardner on Kant]
     Full Idea: Being subject to the condition of experienceability - that is, necessarily related in some manner to intuition - is not the same as being composed of experiences in any sense (and particularly Berkeley's sense).
     From: comment on Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Sebastian Gardner - Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason 08 'Non-phenom'
     A reaction: This is Gardner's best explanation of why Kant is definitely not a Berkeleyan idealist (who claims objects ARE conscious experiences)
If we disappeared, then all relations of objects, and time and space themselves, disappear too [Kant]
     Full Idea: If we remove our own subject ...then all the constitution, all relations of objects in space and time, indeed space and time themselves would disappear, and as appearances they cannot exist in themselves, but only in us.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B059/A42)
     A reaction: Apart from over-cautious 'as appearances', this seems like simple Berkleyean idealism, and hence rather silly. The first commitment of realism (mine, anyway) is that at least time and space would survive our disappearance.
For Schopenhauer, material things would not exist without the mind [Schopenhauer, by Janaway]
     Full Idea: Schopenhauer is not a realist about material things, but an idealist: that is, material things would not exist, for him, without the mind.
     From: report of Arthur Schopenhauer (Fourfold Root of Princ of Sufficient Reason [1813]) by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 2 'Fourfold'
     A reaction: Janaway places his views as close to Kant's, but it is not clear that Kant would agree that no mind means no world. Did Schopenhauer believe in the noumenon?
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 4. Transcendental Idealism
For Kant experience is either structured like reality, or generates reality's structure [Kant, by Gardner]
     Full Idea: On the analytic interpretation of Kant (by Strawson) ...the structure of experience ultimately reduces to the structure of what is experienced. ...In the idealist view (of D. Heinrich) experience itself has an inherent structure.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Sebastian Gardner - Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason 02 'Interpretations'
     A reaction: Gardner thinks Strawson has got it wrong, and makes a good case for his view. Strawson's view sounds more like the empiricist view of concepts. I prefer that view, but I doubt whether it is Kant's.
'Transcendental' is not beyond experience, but a prerequisite of experience [Kant]
     Full Idea: The word 'transcendental' does not mean something that goes beyond all experience, but something which, though it precedes (a priori) all experience, is destined only to make knowledge by experience possible.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 373 n)
     A reaction: One of two explanations by Kant of 'transcendental', picked out by Sebastian Gardner. I think the word 'prerequisite' covers the idea nicely, using a normal English word. Or am I missing something?
'Transcendental' cognition concerns what can be known a priori of its mode [Kant]
     Full Idea: I call all cognition 'transcendental' that is occupied not so much with objects but rather with our mode of cognition of objects insofar as this is to be possible a priori.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B025/A11)
     A reaction: Kant thinks this enquiry is a highly rational affair, but it sounds more like hopeful introspective psychology to me. If you find some prerequisites for an activity, how do you know there aren't others you have missed?
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 1. Nature of the A Priori
A priori propositions are those we could never be seriously motivated to challenge [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: A dictate of reason is the name we give to certain propositions which we hold to be true without investigation, and of which we think ourselves so firmly convinced we should be incapable of seriously testing them even if we wanted to.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], I:12)
     A reaction: This is closer to the cautious way modern thinkers are inclined to express the idea. Even Quine would be reasonably happy with this.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 2. Self-Evidence
Some things are self-evident to us; others are only self-evident in themselves [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: A thing can be self-evident in either of two ways: on the one hand, self-evident in itself, though not to us; on the other hand, self-evident in itself, and to us.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Art 1, Obj 3)
     A reaction: A clear distinction, which is hard to deny, though there are lots of borderline cases. Self-evident to genius, and self-evident to future genius. Self-evident to almost everyone. Goldbach's Conjecture may be self-evident but unknowable.
Descartes needs to demonstrate how other people can attain his clear and distinct conceptions [Leibniz]
     Full Idea: It is not sufficient for Descartes to claim that he perceives something in himself clearly and distinctly, for this is to not complete the demonstration, unless he shows the method through which others can attain the same experience.
     From: Gottfried Leibniz (New Essays on Human Understanding [1704], App X)
     A reaction: For the simplest rational insight this seems a rather tough requirement. If you say A>B, and B>C, so A>C, then once you have grasped the concept of 'greater than' I'm not sure there is a further possible demonstration.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 8. A Priori as Analytic
A proposition is self-evident if the predicate is included in the essence of the subject [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: A proposition is self-evident because the predicate is included in the essence of the subject. E.g. Man is an animal, because animal is included in the essence of man.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Art 1, Obj 3)
     A reaction: Aquinas focuses on the essence of the subject, where Kant embraces the whole concept of the subject. Is it self-evident that we are genetically related to apes? Yes, to a geneticiist. Is that part of human essence? No. So Kant wins.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / d. Secondary qualities
I can make no sense of the red experience being similar to the quality in the object [Kant]
     Full Idea: I can make little sense of the assertion that the sensation of red is similar to the property of the vermilion [cinnabar] which excites this sensation in me.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic [1781], 290)
     A reaction: A sensible remark. In Kant's case it is probably a part of his scepticism that his intuitions reveal anything directly about reality. Locke seems to have thought (reasonably enough) that the experience contains some sort of valid information.
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 1. Empiricism
A proposition cannot be intelligible or consistent, if the perceptions are not so [Hume]
     Full Idea: No proposition can be intelligible or consistent with regard to objects, which is not so with regard to perceptions.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature, + Appendix [1740], Appendix)
     A reaction: An interesting variant on expressions of the empiricist principle. Presumably one can say intelligible things about Escher drawings.
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 4. Pro-Empiricism
Events are baffling before experience, and obvious after experience [Hume]
     Full Idea: Every event, before experience, is equally difficult and incomprehensible; and every event, after experience, is equally easy and intelligible.
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 8)
     A reaction: If you don't believe this, spend some time watching documentaries about life in the deep oceans. Things beyond imagination swim around in front of you. But we can extrapolate, once the possibilities are revealed by experience.
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 4. Foundationalism / d. Rational foundations
A presentation is true if we judge that no false presentation could appear like it [Zeno of Citium, by Cicero]
     Full Idea: I possess a standard enabling me to judge presentations to be true when they have a character of a sort that false ones could not have.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - Academica II.18.58
     A reaction: [This is a spokesman in Cicero for the early Stoic view] No sceptic will accept this, but it is pretty much how I operate. If you see something weird, like a leopard wandering wild in Hampshire, you believe it once you have eliminated possible deceptions.
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 2. Demonstration
Aristotle doesn't actually apply his theory of demonstration to his practical science [Leroi on Aristotle]
     Full Idea: There is a conflict between the syllogistic theory of demonstration of the Posterior Analytics, with its austere programme of certainties, and how Aristotle actually does science.
     From: comment on Aristotle (Posterior Analytics [c.327 BCE]) by Armand Marie LeRoi - The Lagoon: how Aristotle invented science 104
     A reaction: Leroi observes that there are no demonstrations anywhere in the biological writings. Biology probably lends itself least to such an approach.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 1. Explanation / a. Explanation
All knowledge and explanation rests on the inexplicable [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: The fundament upon which all our knowledge and learning rests is the inexplicable. It is to this that every explanation, through few or many intermediary stages, leads.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], I:1)
     A reaction: This is obviously true, and the only question is whether it is a necessary or a contingent truth.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 3. Best Explanation / c. Against best explanation
We should accept as explanations all the plausible ways in which something could come about [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: The phases of the Moon could happen in all the ways [at least four] which the phenomena in our experience suggest for the explanation of this kind of thing - as long as one is not so enamoured of unique explanations as to groundlessly reject the others.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Pythocles [c.292 BCE], 94)
     A reaction: Very interesting, for IBE. While you want to embrace the 'best', it is irrational to reject all of the other candidates, simply because you want a single explanation, if there are no good grounds for the rejection.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 2. Psuche
Soul is what is defined by 'self-generating motion' [Plato]
     Full Idea: The entity which we call 'soul' is precisely that which is defined by the expression 'self-generating motion'.
     From: Plato (The Laws [c.348 BCE], 896a)
     A reaction: We may suspect that he defines soul in this way for a particular context, aimed at proving the existence of a First Mover. He must think there is more to soul than the generation of movement.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 5. Unity of Mind
The separate elements and capacities of a mind cannot be distinguished [Lucretius]
     Full Idea: No single element [of the soul] can be separated, nor can their capacities be divided spatially; they are like the multiple powers of a single body
     From: Lucretius (On the Nature of the Universe [c.60 BCE], III.262), quoted by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 2.7
     A reaction: It is interesting that this comes from someone with a strongly physicalist view of the mind (though not, if I recall, focusing on the brain). He is still totally impressed by the unified phenomenology of mental experience. He is an empiricist.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 2. Unconscious Mind
We have hidden and unadmitted desires and fears, suppressed because of vanity [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: We often do not know what we desire or fear. For years we can have a desire without admitting it to ourselves ....because the intellect is not to know anything about it, since the good opinion we have of ourselves would inevitably suffer thereby.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Idea [1819], II:210), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 5 'Will'
     A reaction: The idea of unconscious thought crept up well before Freud. It is in La Rochefoucauld, and important in Nietzsche. Neuroscience seems to give it a strong priority over the conscious mind, which is a revolutionary idea.
Half our thinking is unconscious, and we reach conclusions while unaware of premises [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: One might almost believe that half our thinking takes place unconsciously.. Usually we arrive at a conclusion without having clearly thought about the premises which lead to it.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], III:40)
     A reaction: Schopenhauer was a major pioneer of this crucial idea. I'm beginning to think it is much greater than a half.
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 3. Persons as Reasoners
I can hardly care about rational consequence if it wasn't me conceiving the antecedent [Reid]
     Full Idea: The conviction of personal identity is indispensably necessary to all exercise of reason. Reasoning is made up of successive parts. Without the conviction that the antecedent have been seen by me, I could have no reason to proceed to the consequent.
     From: Thomas Reid (Essays on Intellectual Powers: Memory [1785], III.Ch 4)
     A reaction: Society needs philosophers precisely to point such things out. It isn't conclusive, but populist waffle about the self not existing undermines the very concept of a 'train of thought', which everybody is signed up to. Trains of thought can take years.
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 4. Persons as Agents
Within nature man is unimportant, but as moral person he is above any price [Kant]
     Full Idea: In the system of nature, man is a being of slight importance ....but man regarded as a person, that is as the subject of a morally practical reason, is exalted above any price.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 434 I.I)
     A reaction: See what you've done, John Locke? You've given yet another ground for claiming that humans are angels or demi-gods, exalted far above our animal cousins.
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 4. Presupposition of Self
Despite consciousness fluctuating, we are aware that it belongs to one person [Butler]
     Full Idea: Though the successive consciousnesses which we have of our own existence are not the same, yet they are consciousnesses of one and the same thing or object; of the same person, self, or living agent.
     From: Joseph Butler (Analogy of Religion [1736], App.1)
     A reaction: Butler's arguments seems to be that he appears to be the same person, so he is the same person. He is explicitly disagreeing with Locke.
Representation would be impossible without the 'I think' that accompanies it [Kant]
     Full Idea: The 'I thinks' must be able to accompany all my representations; for otherwise something would be represented in me that could not be thought at all, which is as much as to say that representation would be impossible, or would be nothing to me.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B132)
     A reaction: This is evidently a flat rejection of Hume's claim that he is a bundle of experiences with no self to co-ordinate them. Presumably this should apply to animals too, if they 'represent' their world (and how could they not?).
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 5. Self as Associations
A person is simply a bundle of continually fluctuating perceptions [Hume]
     Full Idea: [People] are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a continual flux and movement.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: Nowadays we must say that this misses the huge non-conscious aspect of what a person is. He seems to see all mental events as equal. Isn't the experience of deciding to focus on this sentence more 'central' than awareness of your feet?
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 2. Knowing the Self
I know both aspects of my body, as representation, and as will [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: My body is the only object of which I know not merely the one side, that of the representation, but also the other, that is called 'will'.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Idea [1819], I:125), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 3 'Will'
     A reaction: I'm not convinced that knowledge of the body through the will (and action, presumably) constitutes a different sort of knowledge. Philosophers are always trying to split the world in two (but not Nietzsche!).
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / a. Memory is Self
If consciousness of events makes our identity, then if we have forgotten them we didn't exist then [Butler]
     Full Idea: Though consciousness of what is past does ascertain our personal identity to ourselves, yet to say that it makes personal identity, or is necessary to our being the same persons is to say a person has not existed a single moment but what he can remember.
     From: Joseph Butler (Analogy of Religion [1736], App.1)
     A reaction: An over-cautious scepticism has crept in about the reliability of bodily identity. Now we can have photographs and CCTV to prove that we experienced events we have forgotten. Butler is right.
Memory not only reveals identity, but creates it, by producing resemblances [Hume]
     Full Idea: The memory not only discovers the identity [of the mind], but also contributes to its production, by producing the relation of resemblance among the perceptions
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: This is Hume battling to explain personal identity by his principles of association. He discount 'contiguity'. He doesn't explain how memory creates resemblances. Is not resemblance of idea to fact required in order to remember?
Who thinks that because you have forgotten an incident you are no longer that person? [Hume]
     Full Idea: Who will affirm, because he has entirely forgot the incidents of past days, that the present self is not the same person with the self of that time? And by that means overturn all the most established notions of personal identity?
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: This is a swipe at one of Locke's most controversial claims (especially when applied to incidents of criminal behaviour). Hume says memory constitutes this identity, but Locke's view says it merely reveals identity.
The identity of a thief is only known by similarity, but memory gives certainty in our own case [Reid]
     Full Idea: A man challenges a thief in possession of his horse only on similarity. The testimony of witnesses to the identity of a person is commonly grounded on no other evidence. ...Evidence of our own identity is grounded in memory, and gives undoubted certainty.
     From: Thomas Reid (Essays on Intellectual Powers: Memory [1785], III.Ch 4)
     A reaction: With other people the best we can hope for is type-identity, hoping that each individual being is a unique type, but with otherselves we are always confident of establishing token identity. Could I have been someone different yesterday, without realising?
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / b. Self as mental continuity
Causation unites our perceptions, by producing, destroying and modifying each other [Hume]
     Full Idea: As to causation, the true idea of the human mind is to consider it as a system of different perceptions, which are linked together by the relation of cause and effect, and mutually produce, destroy, influence and modify each other.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: He suggests that the associations of memory and causation might be sufficient to produce identity of the mind, and he gives the priority to memory. Eventually the good empiricist despairs because you cannot experience the links.
Are self and substance the same? Then how can self remain if substance changes? [Hume]
     Full Idea: Is the self the same with substance? If it be, how can that question have place concerning the subsistence of self, under a change of substance? If they be distinct, what is the difference between them?
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature, + Appendix [1740], Appendix)
     A reaction: Locke seems to think there is a characterless substance which supports momories, and the latter constitute the self. So if my substance acquires Nestor's memories, I become Nestor. Hume, the stricter empiricist, cares nothing for characterless things.
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / c. Inadequacy of mental continuity
Locke's memory theory of identity confuses personal identity with the test for it [Reid on Locke]
     Full Idea: In Locke's doctrine not only is consciousness confounded with memory, but, which is still more strange, personal identity is confounded with the evidence which we have of our personal identity.
     From: comment on John Locke (Essay Conc Human Understanding (2nd Ed) [1694], 2.27.14) by Thomas Reid - Essays on Intellectual Powers: Memory III.Ch 6
     A reaction: The same type of criticism as Russell's view of the coherence theory of truth (Idea 5424). I'm inclined to think that Reid has precisely identified Locke's main error. Some confuse the existence of a chair with our tests for whether the chair is there!
Consciousness presupposes personal identity, so it cannot constitute it [Butler]
     Full Idea: One would think it really self-evident that consciousness of personal identity presupposes, and therefore cannot constitute, personal identity, any more than knowledge can presuppose truth, which it presupposes.
     From: Joseph Butler (Analogy of Religion [1736], App.1)
     A reaction: It rather begs the question to dogmatically assert that mere consciousness presupposes a self, especially after Hume's criticisms. That consciousness implies a subject to experience needs arguing for. Is it the best explanation?
Perceptions are distinct, so no connection between them can ever be discovered [Hume]
     Full Idea: If perceptions are distinct existences, they form a whole only by being connected together. But no connexions among distinct existences are ever discoverable. We only feel a connexion pass from one object to another.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature, + Appendix [1740], Appendix)
     A reaction: This first part of this is a problem for any 'bundle' theory of objects or self. This is why Hume abandons all hope for his theory of personal identity based on association. You infer the associations, but don't perceive them.
Memory reveals my past identity - but so does testimony of other witnesses [Reid]
     Full Idea: Although memory gives the most irresistible evidence of my being the identical person that did such a thing, I may have other good evidence of things which befell me. I know who bare me and suckled me, but I do not remember those events.
     From: Thomas Reid (Essays on Intellectual Powers: Memory [1785], III.Ch 4)
     A reaction: A splendidly accurate and simple observation. Reid's criticisms of Locke are greatly superior to those of Butler. We now have vast collections of photographs showing our past identities.
If consciousness is transferable 20 persons can be 1; forgetting implies 1 can be 20 [Reid]
     Full Idea: If the same consciousness can be transferred from one intelligent being to another, then two or twenty beings may be the same person. If he may lose the consciousness of actions done by him, one intelligent being may be two or twenty different persons.
     From: Thomas Reid (Essays on Intellectual Powers: Memory [1785], III.Ch 6)
     A reaction: Reid says Locke was aware of these two implications of his theory of personal identity (based on consciousness). The first example is me replicated like software. The second is if I forget that I turned the light off, then who did turn the light off?
Boy same as young man, young man same as old man, old man not boy, if forgotten! [Reid]
     Full Idea: Suppose a brave officer, flogged as a boy for robbing an orchard, to have captured a standard in his first campaign, and become a general in advanced life. [If the general forgets the flogging] he is and at the same time is not the same as the boy.
     From: Thomas Reid (Essays on Intellectual Powers: Memory [1785], III.Ch 6)
     A reaction: The point is that strict identity has to be transitive, and if the general forgets his boyhood that breaks the transitivity. If identity is less strict there is no problem. The general may only have memories related to some part of his boyhood.
If a stolen horse is identified by similitude, its identity is not therefore merely similitude [Reid]
     Full Idea: When a stolen horse is claimed, the only evidence that this is the same horse is similitude. But would it not be ridiculous from this to infer that the identity of a horse consists in similitude only?
     From: Thomas Reid (Essays on Intellectual Powers: Memory [1785], III.Ch 6)
     A reaction: Actually that is exactly Hume's view of the matter (Idea 21292). For a strict empiricist there is nothing else be close resemblance over time. I prefer Reid's account to Hume's. - but then I am not a 'strict' empiricist.
I can only determine my existence in time via external things [Kant]
     Full Idea: The determination of my existence in time is possible only by means of the existence of actual things that I perceive outside of myself.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B275)
     A reaction: This may be the germ of Hegel's much more social view of the self. Kant is only concerned with the question of identity across time.
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 3. Reference of 'I'
The knot of the world is the use of 'I' to refer to both willing and knowing [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: The identity of the subject of willing with that of knowing by virtue whereof ...the word 'I' includes and indicates both, is the knot of the world, and hence inexplicable.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Abstract of 'The Fourfold Root' [1813], p.211-2), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 4 'Self'
     A reaction: I'm struggling to see this as a deep mystery. If we look objectively at animals and ask 'what is their brain for?' the answer seems obvious. This may be a case of everything looking mysterious after a philosopher has stared at it for a while.
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 5. Concerns of the Self
If the self changes, we have no responsibilities, and no interest in past or future [Butler]
     Full Idea: If personality is a transient thing ...then it follows that it is a fallacy to charge ourselves with any thing we did, or to imagine our present selves interested in any thing which befell us yesterday, or what will befall us tomorrow.
     From: Joseph Butler (Analogy of Religion [1736], App.1)
     A reaction: We seem to care about the past and future of our children, without actually being our children. Can't my future self be my descendant, a close one, instead of me?
16. Persons / E. Rejecting the Self / 4. Denial of the Self
A continuous lifelong self must be justified by a single sustained impression, which we don't have [Hume]
     Full Idea: If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, that impression must continue invariably the same, through the whole course of our lives; since self is supposed to exist after that manner. But there is no impression constant and invariable.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: This is a rather dogmatic application of the requirement that all knowledge must be founded in experience. It fails to recognise that knowledge of the thing having the experiences is a rather special case. We must ask for the best explanation.
When I introspect I can only observe my perceptions, and never a self which has them [Hume]
     Full Idea: When I enter most intimately into myself I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never observe any thing but the perception.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: It isn't like looking for your car in the car park. The prior question should be: assuming you do have a persisting self, what would you expect introspection to reveal about it?
We pretend our perceptions are continuous, and imagine a self to fill the gaps [Hume]
     Full Idea: We feign the continued existence of the perceptions of our senses, to remove their interruption; and run into the notion of a soul, and self, and substance, to disguise the variation.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: Modern neuroscience (according to Dennett) endorses this, because the brain continually fills in gaps in experience (as it fills in the blindspot during normal vision).
Identity in the mind is a fiction, like that fiction that plants and animals stay the same [Hume]
     Full Idea: The identity we ascribe to the mind is only a fictitious one, and of a like kind with that we ascribe to vegetable and animal bodies. It cannot therefore have a different origin, but must proceed from a like operation of the imagination upon like objects.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: Sustained purpose is Hume's common factor. Is the identity over time ascribed to the body of a single animal nothing more than a fiction? It is a wise ascription, compared to stupid ascriptions to gerrymandered objects.
We have no impression of the self, and we therefore have no idea of it [Hume]
     Full Idea: Every idea is derived from preceding impressions; and we have no impression of self or substance, as something simple and individual. We have, therefore, no idea of them in that sense.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature, + Appendix [1740], Appendix)
     A reaction: This spells out with beautiful simplicity how his empiricist assumptions lead him to this sceptical view. No logical positivist could reject this thought. Personally I favour empiricism with added inference to the best explanation.
Does an oyster with one perception have a self? Would lots of perceptions change that? [Hume]
     Full Idea: Suppose an oyster to have only one perception, as of thirst or hunger. Do you consider any thing but merely that perception? Have you any notion of self or substance? If not, the addition of other perceptions can never give you that notion.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature, + Appendix [1740], Appendix)
     A reaction: A splendid addition to his earlier sceptical thinking. We could form a different conclusion. Suppose I do have a self. If my multitudinous perceptions were reduced to a single perception of agonising pain, would that remove the self?
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 6. Determinism / a. Determinism
Some actions are within our power; determinism needs prior causes for everything - so it is false [Carneades, by Cicero]
     Full Idea: Now something is in our power; but if everything happens as a result of destiny all things happen as a result of antecedent causes; therefore what happens does not happen as a result of destiny.
     From: report of Carneades (works (all lost) [c.174 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - On Fate ('De fato') 14.31
     A reaction: This invites the question of whether some things really are 'in our power'. Carneades (as expressed by Cicero) takes that for granted. Our 'power' may be antecedent causes in disguise.
We don't control our own thinking [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Thoughts come not when we want but when they want.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], III:37)
     A reaction: One of my favourite Nietzsche ideas originated in Schopenhauer!
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 8. Dualism of Mind Critique
Incorporeal substances can't do anything, and can't be acted upon either [Zeno of Citium, by Cicero]
     Full Idea: Zeno held that an incorporeal substance was incapable of any activity, whereas anything capable of acting, or being acted upon in any way, could not be incorporeal.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - Academica I.11.39
     A reaction: This is substance dualism kicked into the long grass by Zeno, long before Descartes defended dualism, and was swiftly met with exactly the same response. The interaction problem.
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 2. Origin of Concepts / b. Empirical concepts
All of our concepts are borrowed from perceptual knowledge [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: The entire property of a concept consists in nothing more than what has been begged and borrowed from perceptual knowledge, which is the true and inexhaustible source of all insight.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], I:9)
     A reaction: Schopenhauer is usually seen as a sort of idealist, but this is a full endorsement of the empirical view of concepts, to which I largely subscribe. Note that he talks of 'knowledge', rather than of 'experience'.
19. Language / B. Reference / 1. Reference theories
Referring to a person, and speaking about him, are very different [Seneca]
     Full Idea: It makes a very great difference whether you refer to the person directly, or speak about him.
     From: Seneca the Younger (Letters from a Stoic [c.60], 117.13), quoted by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 4.3.2
     A reaction: We seem to think that the distinctiveness of reference was first spotted by Frege. Not so.
19. Language / E. Analyticity / 4. Analytic/Synthetic Critique
I will even consider changing a meaning to save a law; I question the meaning-fact cleavage [Quine]
     Full Idea: I am not concerned even to avoid the trivial extreme of sustaining a law by changing a meaning; for the cleavage between meaning and fact is part of what ...I am questioning.
     From: Willard Quine (Letters [1962], 1962.06.01)
     A reaction: [Letter to Adolf Grünbaum. Found on Twitter] A strikingly helpful expression of his position by Quine. We should take about the 'meaning/fact distinction' in order to understand clearly what is going on here.
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / a. Will to Act
Only the will is thing-in-itself, seen both in blind nature and in human action [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Only the will is thing-in-itself. ...It appears in every blindly acting force of nature, and also in the deliberate conduct of man, and the great difference between the two concerns only the degree of the manifestation.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Idea [1819], I:110), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 3 'Will'
     A reaction: If will acts 'blindly' in forces of nature, then these seems to be the same concept as Nietzsche's 'will to power'. This seems to be heading towards Heidegger's Dasein, as a central and distinctive mode of being.
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / c. Reasons as causes
Motivation is causality seen from within [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Motivation is causality seen from within.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Fourfold Root of Princ of Sufficient Reason [1813], p.214), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 2 'Fourfold'
     A reaction: This is more illuminating about causation than about motivation, since we can be motivated without actually doing anything.
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 1. Aesthetics
Aesthetics concerns how we can take pleasure in an object, with no reference to the will [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: The central problem of aesthetics is how satisfaction with and pleasure in an object are possible without any reference thereof to our willing.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], II:415), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 6 'Aesthetic'
     A reaction: This does seem a good distinction. We can divide pleasures into willed and unwilled. Compare thinking that some remote stranger (in a photograph) is very beautiful, with falling in love with someone.
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 2. Aesthetic Attitude
Schopenhauer is a chief proponent of aesthetic experience as 'disinterested' [Schopenhauer, by Janaway]
     Full Idea: Schopenhauer belongs to a tradition which equates aesthetic experience with a 'disinterested' attitude towards its object, and is often cited as one of the chief proponents of such a view.
     From: report of Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Idea [1819]) by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 6 'Aesthetic'
     A reaction: 'Disinterested' is quite a nice word for one's attitude to art, though you then have to capture why you are also involved in it.
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 4. Beauty
The beautiful is a perception of Plato's Forms, which eliminates the will [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: In the beautiful we always perceive the intrinsic and primary form of animate and inanimate nature, that is to say Plato's Ideas thereof. …When an aesthetic perception occurs the will completely vanishes from consciousness.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], XIX:205)
     A reaction: An essential Schopenauer idea. Iris Murdoch said something similar.
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 6. The Sublime
The sublime is a moral experience [Kant, by Gardner]
     Full Idea: The sublime is understood by Kant as a moral experience.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgement I: Aesthetic [1790], 28-9) by Sebastian Gardner - Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason 09 'Judgment'
     A reaction: Gardner give the source in Kant. I can't accept that the initial experience of the sublime is moral in character. It could easily acquire a moral character after contemplation by someone who had such inclinations.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / f. Ultimate value
The love of man is required in order to present the world as a beautiful and perfect moral whole [Kant]
     Full Idea: Love of man is required by itself, in order to present the world as a beautiful moral whole in its full perfection, even if no account is taken of advantages (of happiness).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 458 I.II)
     A reaction: For me, this illustrates the basic problem with Kant. In the Groundwork he presents morality as arising from pure reason, deriving moral maxims from contradictions, but here we find a totally ungrounded assertion of grand traditional values.
All morality directs the will to love of others' ends, and respect for others' rights [Kant]
     Full Idea: All moral relations of rational beings, which involve a principle of the harmony of the will of one with another, can be reduced to love and respect. Love reduces one's will to another's end, and respect to another's right.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 488 II)
     A reaction: It all comes out too neat and tidy in Kant. Love doesn't merely focus on another person's 'ends', and respect should be for a lot more than another person's mere 'rights'. They'd have to be natural rights, because some societies restrict rights.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / a. Normativity
We only understand what exists, and can find no sign of what ought to be in nature [Kant]
     Full Idea: In nature the understanding cognizes only what exists, or has been, or will be. It is impossible that something ought to be other that what it in fact is. ...We cannot ask what ought to happen in nature, any more than what properties a circle should have.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781], B575/A547)
     A reaction: This seems to be the first clear recognition of what we now call 'normativity', which seems like a misfit in naturalistic views. Davidson derives a sort of mental dualism from it. Note that powers and dispositions can also not be directly cognised.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / d. Love
The duty of love is to makes the ends of others one's own [Kant]
     Full Idea: The duty of love for one's neighbour can be expressed as the duty to make others' ends my own (provided they are not immoral).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 449 I.II)
     A reaction: An interesting idea. Kant's remarks on love and respect seem distorted, to shoehorn them into his system of end/means and maxims. If I love someone, should I continually enquire what their current ends are?
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / d. Routes to happiness
We can never attain happiness while our will is pursuing desires [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: So long as our consciousness is filled by our will, so long as we are given up to the throng of desires with its constant hopes and fears, so long as we are the subject of willing, we never attain lasting happiness or peace.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Idea [1819], I:196), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 6 'Aesthetic'
     A reaction: I hate this idea. It obviously leads to his Buddhism, and the eastern idea that life is generally a bad idea and to be avoided. I think Nietzsche rebelled strongly against this attitude of Schopenhauer's.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / c. Value of pleasure
Pleasure is weaker, and pain stronger, than we expect [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: As a rule we find pleasure much less pleasurable, pain much more painful than we expected.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], XII:149)
     A reaction: Never go on holiday with Schopenhauer. This is more accurate about pain, I think.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / a. Preconditions for ethics
Duty is impossible without prior moral feeling, conscience, love and self-respect [Kant]
     Full Idea: Moral feeling, conscience, love of one's neighbour, and respect for oneself (self-esteem). There is no obligation to have these, because they lie at the basis of morality, as subjective conditions of receptiveness to the concept of duty.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 399 Intro XII)
     A reaction: A bit of a revelation, this one, because I thought the only precondition for Kantian morality was rationality. Turns out that he agrees with Aristotle (Idea 46) that you can't started in morality if your heart isn't in the right place.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / c. Purpose of ethics
The only aim of our existence is to grasp that non-existence would be better [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Nothing else can be stated as the aim of our existence except the knowledge that it would be better for us not to exist.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Idea [1819], II:605), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 8 'Denial'
     A reaction: Nonsense on stilts. Nietzsche rebelled against this. If there is such 'knowledge' then it obviously has nothing to do with the aim of our existence. It is just a rejection of aims. The aim is making the best of existence, not spurning it.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / d. Ethical theory
We should no more expect ethical theory to produce good people than aesthetics to produce artists [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: We should be just as foolish to expect that our moral systems and ethics would create virtuous, noble and hold men, as that our aesthetics would produce poets, painterd and musicians.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Idea [1819], I:271), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 7 'Against'
     A reaction: Presumably the aim of ethical theory is to understand the truths about ethics. That can't do any harm, can it? In every other area of life we think that understanding leads to improvement. Unless, of course, there are no truths of ethics....
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / g. Moral responsibility
We clearly feel responsible for our deeds, because we are quite certain that we did them [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Another fact of consciousness the wholly clear and certain feeling of responsibility for what we do, of the accountability of our actions, which rests on the unshakable certainty that we ourselves are the doers of our deeds.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (On the Freedom of the Will [1841], p.93-4), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 7 'Freedom'
     A reaction: The point is that we have this feeling even if we do not believe in free will. I am struck by the fact that responsibility is very obvious in our own case, even if it is not when we objectively consider other people. Even villains can feel guilty.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / b. Rational ethics
Reason can be vicious, and great crimes have to be rational [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Reasonable and vicious are quite consistent with each other, in fact, only through their union are great and far-reaching crimes possible.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (On the Basis of Morality [1841], p.83), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 7 'Against'
     A reaction: This is opposed to Kant, who always looks wildly optimistic in his hope that high rationality entails a morally good will. Good people seem to have a fairly irrational empathy with their fellow citizens.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / e. Human nature
Man is essentially a dreadful wild animal [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Man is at bottom a dreadful wild animal.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], VIII:114)
     A reaction: As an example he cites the slave owners in the United States.
Man's three basic ethical incentives are egoism, malice and compassion [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Man's three fundamental ethical incentives, egoism, malice and compassion, are present in everyone in different and incredibly unequal proportions. In accordance with them, motives will operate on man and actions will ensue.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (On the Basis of Morality [1841], p.192), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 7 'Egoism'
     A reaction: A well chosen trio. Kant would be shocked that he has left out duty, which is supposed to rise above such feelings.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / h. Expressivism
Moral principles do not involve feelings [Kant]
     Full Idea: No moral principle is based on any feeling whatsoever.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 376 Pref)
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / a. Nature of virtue
A duty of virtue is a duty which is also an end [Kant]
     Full Idea: Only an end that is also a duty can be called a duty of virtue. ....[385] The necessary ends are one's own perfection, and the happiness of others.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 383 Intro II)
     A reaction: So virtues are a subset of duties. I don't think an Aristotelian virtue is anything like a duty. A soldier might do his duty, with no virtue at all. An even a Kantian categorical imperative duty can be formed without right feeling or good character.
Virtue is strong maxims for duty [Kant]
     Full Idea: Virtue is the strength of man's maxims in fulfilling his duty.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 394 Intro IX)
     A reaction: So virtue is just strong moral commitment. So what are we to make of the lists of distinctive virtues, found in every culture? How do they differ? Only in the areas of duty to which they refer? How do we possess some virtues without others?
The supreme principle of virtue is to find universal laws for ends [Kant]
     Full Idea: The supreme principle of the doctrine of virtue is: Act in accordance with a maxim of ends that it can be a universal law for everyone to have.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 395 Intro IX)
     A reaction: I'm not sure that any end can be a universal law. I certainly don't expect everyone to study philosophy. I suppose basic human ends, such as kindness and avoidance of suicide, are what he means. He's even more conformist than Aristotle!
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue
We are obliged to show the social virtues, but at least they make a virtuous disposition fashionable [Kant]
     Full Idea: Affability, sociability, courtesy, hospitality and gentleness in argument ...are merely the manners one is obliged to show in social intercourse, ...and so they promote a virtuous disposition by at least making virtue fashionable.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 473-4 I.II App)
     A reaction: His emphasis on rational duty forces him to diminish virtue, making it sound hypocritical. He needs Aristotle's distinction between the controlled [enkratic] man and the man of true virtue (which is rational and whole-hearted).
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / d. Teaching virtue
Antisthenes said virtue is teachable and permanent, is life's goal, and is like universal wealth [Antisthenes (I), by Long]
     Full Idea: The moral propositions of Antisthenes foreshadowed the Stoics: virtue can be taught and once acquired cannot be lost (fr.69,71); virtue is the goal of life (22); the sage is self-sufficient, since he has (by being wise) the wealth of all men (8o).
     From: report of Antisthenes (Ath) (works (all lost) [c.405 BCE]) by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 1
     A reaction: [He cites Caizzi for the fragments] The distinctive idea here is (I think) that once acquired virtue can never be lost. It sounds plausible, but I'm wondering why it should be true. Is it like riding a bicycle, or like learning to speak Russian?
If virtue becomes a habit, that is a loss of the freedom needed for adopting maxims [Kant]
     Full Idea: If the practice of virtue were to become a habit the subject would suffer loss to that freedom in adopting his maxims which distinguishes an action done from duty.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 409 Intro XVI)
     A reaction: Looks like a misunderstanding of Aristotle, who always promotes the role of 'phronesis' [practical reason], and never advocates unthinking virtuous habits. I think Aristotle would ask how you select your maxim, if you lack the virtues.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / e. Character
A man's character can be learned from a single characteristic action [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: As a botanist can recognise the whole plant from one leaf, …so an accurate knowledge of a man's character can be arrived at from a single characteristic action.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], VIII:118)
     A reaction: Very true. Great novelists specialise in such observations. One word can reveal a character, as well as one action.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / f. The Mean
One of Zeno's books was 'That Which is Appropriate' [Zeno of Citium, by Long]
     Full Idea: Zeno of Citium wrote a (lost) book entitled 'That Which is Appropriate'.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 4.1
     A reaction: I cite this because I take it to be about what in Aristotle called 'the mean' - to emphasise that the mean is not what is average, or midway between the extremes, but what is a balanced response to each situation
How do we distinguish a mean? The extremes can involve quite different maxims [Kant]
     Full Idea: Who will specify for me this mean between the two extremes? What distinguishes avarice (as a vice) from thrift (as a virtue) is not that avarice carries thift too far but that avarice has an entirely different principle (maxim).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 404n Intro XIII)
     A reaction: He says one concerns enjoyment of possessions, and the other their mere possession. Similarly, reckless courage may aim at glory, while cowardice aims at survival. Aristotle is looking at circumstances, Kant at mental states.
If virtue is the mean between vices, then virtue is just the vanishing of vice [Kant]
     Full Idea: If the mean between prodigality and avarice is supposed to be one of degree, then one vice would pass over into the opposite vice only through the virtue. So virtue would simply be a diminished, or rather a vanishing vice.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 432 I.I)
     A reaction: Interesting, but not convincing. Doesn't the thought equally show that vice is a vanishing virtue? Aristotle gives the example of the quantity of food we eat, which obviously passes from starvation to appropriate diet to gluttony.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / j. Unity of virtue
There is one principle of virtues; the virtues are distinguished by their objects [Kant]
     Full Idea: To think of several virtues (as one unavoidably does) is nothing other than to think of the various moral objects to which the will is led by the one principle of virtue.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 406 Intro XIII)
     A reaction: So Kant commits to the Greek ideal of the unity of virtue - but not for Greek reasons. The unity of duty is what concerns Kant.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / a. Virtues
The five Chinese virtues: pity, justice, politeness, wisdom, honesty [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: The Chinese name five cardinal virtues: pity, justice, politeness, wisdom and honesty.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], VIII:110)
     A reaction: I like politeness being on the list, though it seems rather superficial to be a virtue of character. Respect would be better.
Buddhists wisely start with the cardinal vices [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Because of their profounder ethical and metaphysical insight, the Buddhists start not with the cardinal virtues but with cardinal vices, …which are lust, sloth, wrath and avarice (and maybe hatred).
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], VIII:110)
     A reaction: This may be right. Our lives are affected much more by the vices of others than by their virtues, and most virtuous behaviour aims at rectifying the bad effects of other people's vices.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / h. Respect
Disrespect is using a person as a mere means to my own ends [Kant]
     Full Idea: The duty of respect for my neighbour is contained in the maxim not to degrade any other man to a mere means to my ends (not to demand that another throw himself away in order to slave for my end).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 449 I.II)
     A reaction: A weirdly narrow concept of respect. Is enslavement the only way to show disrespect? What about sneering at people, or ignoring them, or prejudicially depriving them of some benefit?
Love urges us to get closer to people, but respect to keep our distance [Kant]
     Full Idea: The principle of mutual love admonishes men constantly to come closer to one another; that of the respect they owe one another, to keep themselves at a distance from one another.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 449 I.II)
     A reaction: It might be a situation where it is right to invoke the Golden Rule. Do we want others to be close to us all the time? Probably not. Respect wins, and love loses! Kant's makes a nice distinction. Respect is a virtue, and love is not.
Respect is purely negative (of not exalting oneself over others), and is thus a duty of Right [Kant]
     Full Idea: A duty of free respect towards others is only a negative one (of not exalting oneself above others) and is thus analogous to the duty of Right not to encroach upon what belongs to anyone.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 449 I.II)
     A reaction: Not good enough. He seems to think belongings are the main issue. By referring to one's own modesty, he has no way to indicate equality of respect (among races, ages, genders, religions, animals etc). Being humble does not entail being respectful.
We must respect the humanity even in a vicious criminal [Kant]
     Full Idea: I cannot deny all respect to even a vicious man as a man; I cannot withdraw at least the respect that belongs to him in his quality as a man, even though by his deeds he makes himself unworthy of it.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 463 I.II)
     A reaction: The obvious way to find some respect for a vicious criminal is to ask how they got that way. Their state is almost certainly self-destructive, and not what they would ever have wished for. Would they choose eternal recurrence?
We can love without respect, and show respect without love [Kant]
     Full Idea: One can love one's neighbour though he might deserve but little respect, and can show him the respect necessary for every man regardless of the fact that he would hardly be judged worthy of love.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 448 I.II)
     A reaction: Not sure about this. Respect seems much clearer than love. You can train yourself and others to show respect, but you can't switch on love. Personally, I don't love strangers, but I try hard to respect them.
Respect is limiting our self-esteem by attending to the human dignity of other persons [Kant]
     Full Idea: Respect to be understood as the maxim of limiting our self-esteem by the dignity of humanity in another person.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 449 I.II)
     A reaction: I can't see any direct connection between my own self-esteem and my respect for others, though in practice great vanity makes us neglect others. I also don't find the concept of 'dignity' very helpful. I think we should respect plants.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 4. Boredom
Boredom is only felt by those clever enough to need activity [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Only in the cleverest animals such as dogs and apes does the need for activity, and with that boredom, make itself felt.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], III:50)
     A reaction: But it is much more frequently young creatures, of almost any kind, that seek constant activity, and get continually restless. The most active adults need not be the cleverest.
Human life is a mistake, shown by boredom, which is direct awareness of the fact [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Human life must be some kind of mistake. ...Boredom is a direct proof that existence is in itself valueless, for boredom is nothing other than the sensation of the emptiness of existence.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], XI:146)
     A reaction: I think it is a good advertisement for existentialism that it makes something more out of boredom than Schopenhauer does.
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 2. Sexual Morality
Would humanity still exist if sex wasn't both desired and pleasurable? [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: If the act of procreation were neither the outcome of a desire nor accompanied by feelings of pleasure, but a matter to be decided on the basis of purely rational considerations, is it likely the human race would still exist?
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], XII:156)
     A reaction: This is almost certainly correct in the modern world. In tougher economic circumstances people seem desperate to have children who will help them survive.
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 3. Animal Rights
Men can only have duties to those who qualify as persons [Kant]
     Full Idea: Man has duties only to men, ...since his duty to any other subject is moral constraint by that's subject's will. Hence the constraining (binding) subject must first be a person. Man can therefore have no duty to any beings other than men.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 442 I.I)
     A reaction: This is good for illuminating why I am not a Kantian. It is not just that animals are ruled out - it is that whether you show respect depends on whether the recipient passes some test or other. Humans with brain damage may fail the test.
Cruelty to animals is bad because it dulls our empathy for pain in humans [Kant]
     Full Idea: Cruel treatment of animals is intimately opposed to man's duty to himself; ...for it dulls his shared feeling of their pain and so weakens and gradually uproots a natural predisposition that is very serviceable to morality in relations with other men.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 443 I.I)
     A reaction: This idea is quite shocking. Kant's rough contemporary Bentham was far more enlightened. If we could be certain that our feelings of empathy for pain were not dulled by cruelty to animals, then it would be fine.
Philosophy treats animals as exploitable things, ignoring the significance of their lives [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: In philosophical morals animals are mere 'things', mere means to any end whatsoever. ...Shame on such a morality, that fails to recognise the eternal essence that lives in every living thing, and shines forth with inscrutable significance from all eyes.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (On the Basis of Morality [1841], p.96), quoted by Christopher Janaway - Schopenhauer 7 'Against'
     A reaction: Good. I find Kant's theoretical indifference to animals very creepy (despite his kind attitude to them). And I also think the utilitarians are wrong to only value animals for their pain, as if any animal could be shredded for fun, if it felt no pain.
24. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 4. Suicide
If suicide was quick and easy, most people would have done it by now [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Perhaps there is no one alive who would not already have put an end to his life if this end were something purely negative, a sudden cessation of existence.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], XIII:158)
     A reaction: Nonsense, on the whole, but it is a nice question how many people would do it if it only took a painless instant.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / a. Human distinctiveness
Man is distinguished by knowing conditional truths, because impressions are connected [Stoic school, by Long]
     Full Idea: Stoics say man differs from irrational animals because of internal speech ...and in virtue of impressions created by inference and combination. Because of this man grasps 'signal', of the form 'If this, then that', which follows from the nature of man.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 4.3.1
     A reaction: [In Sextus, Adv.Math 8.275-] This is unusual. The distinctive feature of humans is their ability to assert conditionals (because they see connections - or associations - among their impressions). Nice thought.
Man is both social, and unsociable [Kant]
     Full Idea: Man is a being meant for society (though he is also an unsociable one).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 471 I.II)
     A reaction: A striking contrast with Aristotle in Idea 5133. It is the difference between the communitarian and the liberal views of society. The latter values privacy and good fences.
Humans are distinguished from animals by their capacity to set themselves any sort of end [Kant]
     Full Idea: The capacity to set oneself an end - any end whatsoever - is what characterises humanity (as distinguished from animality).
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 392 Intro VIII)
     A reaction: This appears to exclude animals which hunt, or build nests - but we have now hugely closed the gap between humans and other animals. I like this, because it chimes in with Sandel's Idea 21045.
25. Society / B. The State / 1. Purpose of a State
The state only exists to defend citizens, from exterior threats, and from one another [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: The state is essentially no more than an institution for the protection of the whole against attacks from without, and the protection of its individual members from attacks by one another.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], IX:123)
     A reaction: He then has a swipe at Hegel for his inflated idea of the importance of the state. Schopenhauer is close to Hobbes on this one.
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Culture
Culture is the struggle to agree what is normal [Gibson,A]
     Full Idea: Culture is the struggle to agree what is normal.
     From: Andrew Gibson (talk [2018])
     A reaction: A nice aphorism. Typically the struggle took place in villages, but has now gone global. The normalities of other cultures are beamed into a remote society, and are frequently unwelcome.
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 1. Social Justice
People change laws for advantage; either there is no justice, or it is a form of self-injury [Carneades, by Lactantius]
     Full Idea: The same people often changed laws according to circumstances; there is no natural law. There is no such thing as justice or, if there is, it is the height of folly, since a man injures himself in taking thought for the advantage of others.
     From: report of Carneades (works (all lost) [c.174 BCE]) by Lactantius - Institutiones Divinae 5.16.4
     A reaction: [An argument used by Carneades on his notorious 156BCE visit to Rome, where he argued both for and against justice] This is probably the right wing view of justice. Why give other people what they want, if it is at our expense?
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / a. Slavery
Natural slaves are those naturally belong to another, or who can manage no more than labouring [Aristotle]
     Full Idea: A human being who belongs, by nature, not to himself but to another is, by nature, a slave. ...Those whose function happens to be the use of their bodies (when this is the best that can be achieved) are slaves by nature.
     From: Aristotle (Politics [c.332 BCE], 1254a09-), quoted by Armand Marie LeRoi - The Lagoon: how Aristotle invented science 099
     A reaction: A nice example of Aristotle trying to derive what ought to be from the 'nature' of each thing. Clearly, though, this was not the best that can be achieved. And why are labourers slaves, but not computer programmers or economists?
Poverty and slavery are virtually two words for the same thing [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Poverty and slavery are only two forms - on might almost say two words for - the same thing, the essence of which is that a man's energies are expended for the most part not on his own behalf but on that of others.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], IX:125)
     A reaction: The modern world is full of people who righteously despise slavery, but think only of the poor that it serves them right.
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / c. Free speech
The freedom of the press to sell poison outweighs its usefulness [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Freedom of the press must be regarded as a permit to sell poison. …I very much fear, therefore, that the dangers of press freedom outweigh its usefulness.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], IX:127)
     A reaction: On the whole the modern world disagrees with this view, but watching the popular press in Britain in the last twenty years has made me sympathise with Schopenhauer.
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 3. Social Equality / c. Legal equality
Equality is not being bound in ways you cannot bind others [Kant]
     Full Idea: Our innate equality is independence from being bound by others to more than one can in turn bind them.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals I: Doctrine of Right [1797], Div B)
     A reaction: This doesn't seem to capture the whole concept. The two of us may be unequally oppressed by a third. We are unequal with the third, but also with one another, though with no binding relationships.
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 5. Right to Punish / b. Retribution for crime
Violation of rights deserves punishment, which is vengeance, rather than restitution [Kant]
     Full Idea: Every deed that violates a man's right deserves punishment, the function of which is to avenge a crime on the one who committed it (not merely to make good the harm done). ...but no punishment may be inflicted out of hatred.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Metaphysics of Morals II:Doctrine of Virtue [1797], 460-1 I.II)
     A reaction: A fairly hideous idea, confirming the image of Kant as someone who coldly perfoms ruthless duties. I don't think Kant ever offers any clarity for the concepts of 'deserving' or of 'avenging'. What is the appropriate vengeance for theft?
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 1. Political Theory
The Stoics saw the whole world as a city [Stoic school, by Long]
     Full Idea: The Stoics conceived of the world itself as a kind of city.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 1
     A reaction: Interesting. Not the same as a cosmopolitan acceptance of a multitude of varied cultures. The most remote and unusual culture is seen as a distant suburb of our culture.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 9. Communism
The truth about events always comes from the oppressed and disadvantaged [Sartre, by Bakewell]
     Full Idea: Work out who is most oppressed and disadvantaged in the situation, and then adopt their version of events as the right one. If something is not true in the eyes of the least favoured, then it is not true.
     From: report of Jean-Paul Sartre (The Communists and Peace [1953], final part) by Sarah Bakewell - At the Existentialist Café 12
     A reaction: A theory of social truth, rather than truth in general. A bit simplistic, but appealing. If you want to know the truth, ask the people involved. This is true of the Savoy Grill, as well as of homeless life. You must first care about the oppressed.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 6. Early Matter Theories / c. Ultimate substances
The ultimate constituents of reality are the homoeomeries [Anaxagoras, by Vlastos]
     Full Idea: Anaxagoras contrasts with other thinkers in the formula that his 'elements' were not the air of Anaximenes or the fire of Heraclitus or the roots of Empedocles or the atoms of Leucippus, but the infinite variety of homoiomereia.
     From: report of Anaxagoras (Natural Science (frags) [c.460 BCE]) by Gregory Vlastos - The Physical Theory of Anaxagoras III
     A reaction: Not sure about the 'roots' of Empedocles. Anaxagoras is particularly thinking of the basic stuffs that make up the body, such as hair, bone and blood. It is plausible to reduce everything to stuffs that seem to have no further structure.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 6. Early Matter Theories / f. Ancient elements
The later Stoics identified the logos with an air-fire compound, called 'pneuma' [Chrysippus, by Long]
     Full Idea: From Chrysippus onwards, the Stoics identified the logos throughout each world-cycle not with pure fire, but with a compound of fire and air, 'pneuma'.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 4.4.2
     A reaction: I suspect this was because breath is so vital to the human body.
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 1. Mechanics / d. Gravity
Instead of gravitational force, we now have a pervasive gravitational field [Farmelo]
     Full Idea: Physics replaced the notion that bodies exert gravitational force on each other by the more effective picture that the bodies in the universe give rise to a pervasive gravitational field which exerts a force on each particle.
     From: Graham Farmelo (The Strangest Man [2009], 08)
     A reaction: This still uses the word 'force'. I sometimes get the impression that gravity is the curvature of space, but gravity needs more. Which direction along the curvature are particles attracted? The bottom line is the power of the bodies.
27. Natural Reality / F. Biology / 1. Biology
Germs contain microscopic organs, which become visible as they grow [Anaxagoras]
     Full Idea: In the germ there are hair, nails, arteries, sinews, bones, which are not manifest because of the smallness of their parts, but become distinct little by little as they grow. For how could hair come from not-hair, or flesh from non-flesh.
     From: Anaxagoras (Natural Science (frags) [c.460 BCE], B10), quoted by Gregory Vlastos - The Physical Theory of Anaxagoras I
     A reaction: Compare Aristotle's apparent view that the physical world has no microscopic structure, and Democritus's view that hair can come from not-hair by the organisation of atoms. Is this the first suggestion that we need to know what is microscopic?
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 4. Divine Contradictions
Perfections must have overlapping parts if their incompatibility is to be proved [Leibniz]
     Full Idea: If two propositions (about perfections) are incompatible, that cannot be demonstrated without a resolution of the terms, for otherwise their nature would not enter into the ratiocination.
     From: Gottfried Leibniz (New Essays on Human Understanding [1704], App X)
     A reaction: If God is omnipotent and wholly free, these appear to be fully separate perfections. But it is their implications (can God decide to do otherwise, given His foreknowledge?) which lead to a problem. So this analyis of contradiction is wrong.
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / a. Ontological Proof
The word 'God' can be denied, but understanding shows God must exist [Anselm]
     Full Idea: We think of a thing when we say the world, and in another way when we think of the very thing itself. In the second sense God cannot be thought of as nonexistent. No one who understands can think God does not exist.
     From: Anselm (Proslogion [1090], Ch 4)
     A reaction: It seems open to the atheist to claim the exact opposite - that you can commit to God's existence if it is just a word, but understanding shows that God is impossible (perhaps because of contradictions). How to arbitrate?
Guanilo says a supremely fertile island must exist, just because we can conceive it [Anselm]
     Full Idea: Guanilo supposes that we imagine an island surpassing all lands in its fertility. We might then say that we cannot doubt that it truly exists is reality, because anyone can conceive it from a verbal description.
     From: Anselm (Proslogion [1090], Reply 3)
     A reaction: Guanilo was a very naughty monk, who must have had sleepless nights over this. One could further ask whether an island might have necessary existence. Anselm needs 'a being' to be a special category of thing.
Nonexistence is impossible for the greatest thinkable thing, which has no beginning or end [Anselm]
     Full Idea: If anyone does think of something a greater than which cannot be thought, then he thinks of something which cannot be thought of as nonexistent, ...for then it could be thought of as having a beginning and an end. And this is impossible.
     From: Anselm (Proslogion [1090], Reply 3)
     A reaction: A nice idea, but it has a flip side. If the atheist denies God's existence, then it follows that (because no beginning is possible for such a being) the existence of God is impossible. Anselm adds that contingent existents have parts (unlike God).
Even the fool can hold 'a being than which none greater exists' in his understanding [Anselm]
     Full Idea: Even the fool must be convinced that a being than which none greater can be thought exists at least in his understanding, since when he hears this he understands it, and whatever is understood is in the understanding.
     From: Anselm (Proslogion [1090], Ch 2)
     A reaction: Psalm 14.1: 'The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God'. But how does the fool interpret the words, if he has limited imagination? He might get no further than an attractive film star. He would need prompting to think of a spiritual being.
If that than which a greater cannot be thought actually exists, that is greater than the mere idea [Anselm]
     Full Idea: Clearly that than which a greater cannot be thought cannot exist in the understanding alone. For it it is actually in the understanding alone, it can be thought of as existing also in reality, and this is greater.
     From: Anselm (Proslogion [1090], Ch 2)
     A reaction: The suppressed premise is 'something actually existing is greater than the mere conception of it'. As it stands this is wrong. I can imagine a supreme evil. But see Idea 21243.
An existing thing is even greater if its non-existence is inconceivable [Anselm]
     Full Idea: Something can be thought of as existing, which cannot be thought of as not existing, and this is greater than that which cannot be thought of as not existing.
     From: Anselm (Proslogion [1090], Ch 3)
     A reaction: This is a necessary addition, to single out the concept of God as special. But you really must give reasons for saying God's non-existence is inconceivable. Atheists seem to manage.
Conceiving a greater being than God leads to absurdity [Anselm]
     Full Idea: If some mind could think of something better than thou, the creature would rise above the Creator and judge its Creator; but this is altogether absurd.
     From: Anselm (Proslogion [1090], Ch 3)
     A reaction: An error, revealing a certain desperation. If a greafer being could be conceived than the being so far imagined as God (a necessarily existing being), that being would BE God, by his own argument (and not some arrogant 'creature').
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / b. Ontological Proof critique
We can't know God's essence, so his existence can't be self-evident for us [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: Because we do not know the essence of God, the proposition 'God exists' is not self-evident to us, but needs to be demonstrated by things that are more known to us.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Art 1, Obj 3)
     A reaction: Depends on his definition of self-evidence (Idea 21250), which needs knowledge of the essence of the subject. Anselm required 'understanding' of the concept. One might understand the existence criteria without knowing the whole essence. Anselm wins.
No being's non-existence can imply a contradiction, so its existence cannot be proved a priori [Hume]
     Full Idea: Nothing that is distinctly conceivable implies a contradiction. Whatever we conceive of as existent we can also conceive as non-existent. So there is no being whose non-existence implies a contradiction. So no being's existence is demonstrable.
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 9)
     A reaction: I totally subscribe to this idea, and take claims that nature actually contains contradictions (based on the inevitable quantum mechanics) to be ridiculous. Nature is the embodiment, chief exemplar and prime test of consistency.
28. God / B. Proving God / 3. Proofs of Evidence / a. Cosmological Proof
Self-generating motion is clearly superior to all other kinds of motion [Plato]
     Full Idea: We can't resist the conclusion that the motion which can generate itself is infinitely superior, and all the others are inferior to it.
     From: Plato (The Laws [c.348 BCE], 894d)
     A reaction: Who said you can't get values from facts! Not that the argument depends on superiority. There could be an inferior First Mover, as a bus driver is subservient to the passengers, or (my favourite) a head teacher is inferior to the pupils.
Self-moving soul has to be the oldest thing there is [Plato]
     Full Idea: Soul, being the source of motion, is the most ancient thing there is.
     From: Plato (The Laws [c.348 BCE], 896b)
     A reaction: Plato seems to assume that the First Mover must still exist, which doesn't follow from anything in the argument. The First Pusher could be dead before the last domino falls. Why can't activity be the default state of everything?
The only possible beginning for the endless motions of reality is something self-generated [Plato]
     Full Idea: When the motion in reality is transmitted to thousands of things one after another, the entire sequence of their movements must surely spring from some initial principle, which can hardly be anything except the change effected by self-generated motion.
     From: Plato (The Laws [c.348 BCE], 895a)
     A reaction: This gives a domino picture of reality, with all of reality responding inertly to a first kick. Much better is to see self-generated motion in the active qualities of all matter, as seen in the sea of virtual subatomic particles at the smallest level.
Way 1: the infinite chain of potential-to-actual movement has to have a first mover [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: A thing can only be reduced from potentiality to actuality by something actual. A thing can never be in actuality and potentiality in the same respect. So what is moved must be moved by another. But this cannot go on to infinity, with no first mover.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Ia,Q2,Art3,Reply)
     A reaction: [compressed] This relies on the Aristotelian ideas of potentiality and actuality. We might talk about things moving, but lacking the 'power' to move. This is almost identical to Plato in 'The Laws' (which I guess Aquinas knew nothing of).
Way 3: contingent beings eventually vanish, so continuity needs a necessary being [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: That which can not-be at some time is not. So if everything can not-be, then once there was nothing in existence. If so, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist. So there must be some being having of itself its own necessity.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Ia,Q2,Art3,Reply)
     A reaction: [compressed] Why can't things take it in turns to not-be, so that something is always on duty? Maybe it is a feature of things that they bring other things into existence (e.g. virtual particles)?
Way 2: no effect without a cause, and this cannot go back to infinity, so there is First Cause [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: If there is no first cause among efficient causes, there is no ultimate or intermediate cause. That in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity is plainly false. So it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, which everyone calls God.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Ia,Q2,Art3,Reply)
     A reaction: [compressed] It doesn't seem to follow at all that the First Cause is God. There could be a single thing like the Phoenix, with unique self-causing properties. Or a quantum fluctuation.
Way 4: the source of al qualities is their maximum, so something (God) causes all perfections [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: More and less are predicated of different things according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum. The maximum of a genus is the cause of all in that genus. So there must be something causing the perfections of all beings.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Ia,Q2,Art3,Reply)
     A reaction: [compressed] The argument makes a startling jump from each quality (like heat or nobility) having a maximum, to their being a single entity (a 'being' at that) which is the sole source of all human perfections.
A chain of events requires a cause for the whole as well as the parts, yet the chain is just a sum of parts [Hume]
     Full Idea: The whole chain or succession [of causes and effects], taken together, is not caused by anything, and yet it is evident that it requires a cause or reason, as much as any particular object which begins to exist in time.
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 9)
     A reaction: This is such a major and significant idea. With blinkers on we think our questions are answered. Then someone (a philosopher, inevitably) makes you pull back and ask a much wider and more difficult question.
28. God / B. Proving God / 3. Proofs of Evidence / b. Teleological Proof
If all the motions of nature reflect calculations of reason, then the best kind of soul must direct it [Plato]
     Full Idea: If the movement of the heavens and all that is in them reflects the motion and revolution and calculation of reason ...then clearly we have to admit that it is the best kind of soul that cares for the entire universe and directs it along the best path.
     From: Plato (The Laws [c.348 BCE], 897c)
     A reaction: Most of this passage reflects the cosmological argument - that without some initiating source natural events could not occur - but this slides into the design argument. So who designed mud (which is too inferior to have a Form)?
Way 5: mindless things act towards an obvious end, so there is an intelligent director [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: Things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, which is usually in the same way, to obtain the best result. Hence they achieve their end designedly. Hence some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Ia,Q2,Art3,Reply)
     A reaction: [compressed] This is Greek teleology with a vengeance. Plants probably illustrate best what he has in mind. There is obvious teleology in human affairs, and there is a sort of teleology in living things, but we take the end to be reinforced by success.
Unlike a stone, the parts of a watch are obviously assembled in order to show the time [Paley]
     Full Idea: When we come to inspect a watch we perceive (what we could not discover in a stone) that its several parts are put together for a purpose, to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day.
     From: William Paley (Natural Theology [1802], Ch 1)
     A reaction: Microscopic examination of the stone would have surprised Paley. Should we infer a geometer because the sun is spherical? Crytals look designed, but are explained by deeper chemistry.
From the obvious purpose and structure of a watch we must infer that it was designed [Paley]
     Full Idea: The inference is inevitable that the watch had a maker; that there must have existed, at some time, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who designed its use.
     From: William Paley (Natural Theology [1802], Ch 1)
     A reaction: It rather begs the question to refer to an ordered structure as a 'design'. Why do we think it is absurd to think the the 'purpose' of the sun is to benefit mankind? Suppose we found a freakish natural sundial in the woods.
Even an imperfect machine can exhibit obvious design [Paley]
     Full Idea: It is not necessary that a machine be perfect, in order to show with what design it was made.
     From: William Paley (Natural Theology [1802], Ch 1)
     A reaction: This encounters Hume's point that you will then have to infer that the designer contains similar imperfections. If you look at plagues, famines and mothers dying in childbirth (see Mill), you might wish the designer had never started.
All the signs of design found in a watch are also found in nature [Paley]
     Full Idea: Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature.
     From: William Paley (Natural Theology [1802], Ch.3)
     A reaction: This is far from obvious. It was crucial to the watch analogy that we immediately see its one self-evident purpose. No one looks at nature and says 'Aha, I know what this is all for'.
No organ shows purpose more obviously than the eyelid [Paley]
     Full Idea: The eyelid defends the eye; it wipes it; it closes it in sleep. Are there, in any work of art whatever, purposes more evident than those which this organ fulfils?
     From: William Paley (Natural Theology [1802], p.24), quoted by Armand Marie LeRoi - The Lagoon: how Aristotle invented science 031
     A reaction: Nice to have another example, in addition to the watch. He is not wholly wrong, because it is impossible to give an evolutionary account of the development of the eyelid without referring to some sort of teleological aspect. The eyelid has a function.
28. God / B. Proving God / 3. Proofs of Evidence / c. Teleological Proof critique
If the divine cause is proportional to its effects, the effects are finite, so the Deity cannot be infinite [Hume]
     Full Idea: By this method of reasoning you renounce all claim to infinity in any of the attributes of the Deity. The cause ought to be proportional to the effect, and the effect, so far as it falls under our cognizance, is not infinite.
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 5)
     A reaction: You cannot deny that the Deity MAY be infinite, be only accept that your evidence is not enough to prove it. But if nothing infinite has been observed, it is a reasonable provisional inference that nothing infinite exists.
This excellent world may be the result of a huge sequence of trial-and-error [Hume]
     Full Idea: Many worlds might have been botched and bungled, throughout an eternity, ere this system was struck out; many fruitless trials made, and a slow but continued improvement carried on during infinite ages in the art of world-making.
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 5)
     A reaction: Lee Smolin, a modern cosmographer, suggests that this evolution may have led to the current universe, after a long train of selective creations. The idea of natural selection was waiting to happen in 1760.
From a ship you would judge its creator a genius, not a mere humble workman [Hume]
     Full Idea: It is uncertain whether all the excellences of the work can justly be ascribed to the workman. If we survey a ship, what an exalted idea must we form of the ingenuity of the carpenter ...and what surprise must we feel when we find him a stupid mechanic.
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 5)
     A reaction: You can at least infer that the ship was not made entirely by makers who are ignorant of carpentry. Somewhere in the divine team there must exist the skills that produce whatever we observe?
Design cannot prove a unified Deity. Many men make a city, so why not many gods for a world? [Hume]
     Full Idea: How can you prove the unity of a Deity? A great number of men join in building a house or ship, in rearing a city; why may not several deities combine in contriving and framing a world?
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 5)
     A reaction: You might look at the Cistine Chapel ceiling and conclude that only a team could have achieve such a thing. Since there is no way to infer how many gods might be involved, then one god is a possible theory.
Humans renew their species sexually. If there are many gods, would they not do the same? [Hume]
     Full Idea: Men are mortal and renew their species by generation. Why must this circumstance, so universal, so essential, be excluded from those numerous and limited deities?
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 5)
     A reaction: Hume observes that this would be like the Greek gods. Hume makes mincemeat of attempts to prove the existence of God merely by analogy with human affairs.
This Creator god might be an infant or incompetent or senile [Hume]
     Full Idea: [Maybe] this world ...was only the first essay of some infant deity ...or it is the work only of some dependent, inferior deity, the object of derision to his superiors ...or it is the product of the dotage of some superannuated deity...
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 5)
     A reaction: His opponent in the dialogue rejoices that, in the face of these sacreligious fantasies, Hume still accepts the likelihood of some sort of design. Hume is right that it is not much of a theory if nothing can be said about the Designer.
Motion often begins in matter, with no sign of a controlling agent [Hume]
     Full Idea: Motion in many instances begins in matter, without any known voluntary agent; to suppose always, in these cases, an unknown voluntary agent is mere hypothesis, attended with no advantages.
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 8)
     A reaction: This is the modern 'powers' view of science, and a direct contradiction of Plato's claims in The Laws. It seems a bit primitive to assume that magnetism must be the work of some god.
The universe could settle into superficial order, without a designer [Hume]
     Full Idea: The universe goes on in a succession of chaos and disorder. But is it not possible that it may settle at last, so as not to lose its inherent motion and active force, yet so as to produce a uniformity of appearance, amidst the continual fluctuation.
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 8)
     A reaction: From what I know of the constant fluctuation of virtual particles (e.g. inside protons) this is exactly what actually is happening. There is an 'appearance' of order, but at the lowest level this is not the case.
Ideas arise from objects, not vice versa; ideas only influence matter if they are linked [Hume]
     Full Idea: In all known instances, ideas are copied from real objects. You reverse this order and give thought the precedence. ...Thought has no influence upon matter except where that matter is so conjoined with it as to have an equal reciprocal influence upon it.
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 8)
     A reaction: He allows something like mental causation, provided mind and brain are closely linked. Hume brings out the close relationship between divine design theories, and the mind-body problem.
A surprise feature of all products of 9 looks like design, but is actually a necessity [Hume]
     Full Idea: The products of 9 always compose either 9 or some lesser product of 9, if you add the characters of the product. To a superficial observer this regularity appears as chance or design, but a skilful algebraist sees it as necessity.
     From: David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [1751], Part 9)
     A reaction: An example of this universal generality is that 369 is a product of 9 (9x41), and if you add 3, 6 and 9 you get 18, which is 2x9. Similar examples occur in nature, such as crystals, which are necessary once the atomic structure is known.
We don't get a love of 'order' from nature - which is thoroughly chaotic [Mill]
     Full Idea: Even the love of 'order' which is thought to be a following of the ways of nature is in fact a contradiction of them. All which people are accustomed to deprecate as 'disorder' is precisely a counterpart of nature's ways.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.116)
     A reaction: The Greeks elevated the idea that the cosmos was orderly, but almost entirely based on the regular movement of the planets. They turned a blind eye to the messy bits of nature. As you magnify nature, order and chaos seem to alternate.
29. Religion / A. Polytheistic Religion / 1. Animism
The heavens must be full of gods, controlling nature either externally or from within [Plato]
     Full Idea: A soul or souls have been shown to be cause of all the phenomena, and whether it is by their living presence in matter that they direct all the heavens, or by some other means, we insist that these souls are gods. So 'everything is full of gods'.
     From: Plato (The Laws [c.348 BCE], 899b)
     A reaction: This seems to have little to do with the pagan gods on Olympus. It is also notably not monotheistic. It is somewhere between animism and panpsychism. Does he think the rivers and woods contain gods? Probably not. Just the orderly heavens.
29. Religion / A. Polytheistic Religion / 4. Dualist Religion
There must be at least two souls controlling the cosmos, one doing good, the other the opposite [Plato]
     Full Idea: There must be more than one soul (not fewer than two) controlling movement and the heavens: that which does good, and that which has the opposite capacity.
     From: Plato (The Laws [c.348 BCE], 896e)
     A reaction: [Wording compressed - as often with the dialogues] This idea of controlling opposites is found in Empedocles. Presumably this good soul defers to the Form of the Good, as implied by the Euthyphro Question.
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 1. Religious Commitment / a. Religious Belief
Only religion introduces serious issues to uneducated people [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: Religion is the only means of introducing some notion of the high significance of life into the uncultivated heads of the masses.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], XV:174)
     A reaction: Cf Philip Larkin's poem 'Church Going'. On the whole Schopenhauer didn't actually believe that our lives had any 'high significance'.
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 2. Immortality / a. Immortality
If all of my perceptions were removed by death, nothing more is needed for total annihilation [Hume]
     Full Idea: Were all my perceptions removed by death, and I could I neither think nor feel nor see nor love nor hate, after the dissolution of my body, I should be enitrely annihilated, nor do I conceive what is further requisite to make me a perfect non-entity.
     From: David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)
     A reaction: 'A perfect non-entity'. How about that for an eighteenth century rejection of immortality of the soul? In the context, his point is that the has no enduring self, apart from this range of experiences.
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 3. Problem of Evil / a. Problem of Evil
God does not exist, because He is infinite and good, and so no evil should be discoverable [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: If one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the name God means that He is infinite goodness. If therefore God existed there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not exist.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Ia,Q2,Art3,Ob1)
     A reaction: This is not, of course, the opinion of Aquinas. I love the way he states the opposition's arguments so lucidly. The modern problem usually talks of God's omnipotence, rather than infinity. His formulation allows that there might be undiscoverable evil.
It is part of God's supreme goodness that He brings good even out of evil [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: As Augustine says, God would not allow any evil to exist in his works, unless he were to bring good even out of evil. It is part of the infinite goodness of God, that He allows evil to exist and out of it produces good.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Ia,Q2,Art3,Ob1rep)
     A reaction: Are God's powers so limited that He could not have achieved an equal amount of good without having to indulge in some evil first?
The Creator created the possibilities for worlds, so should have made a better one than this possible [Schopenhauer]
     Full Idea: The Creator created not only the world, but also created possibility itself; therefore he should have created the possibility of a better world than this one.
     From: Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena [1851], XII:156)
     A reaction: This is explicitly a response to Leibniz's claim that the Creator selected the best of all possible worlds from the available options. The Euthyphro Question hovers here: must the Creator accept what is possible (the platonic view), or create possibility?
Belief that an afterlife is required for justice is an admission that this life is very unjust [Mill]
     Full Idea: The necessity of redressing the balance [of injustice] is deemed one of the strongest arguments for another life after death, which amounts to an admission that the order of things in this life is often an example of injustice, not justice.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874])
     A reaction: It certainly seems that an omnipotent God could administer swift justice in this life. If the whole point is that we need freedom of will, then why is justice administered at a much later date? The freedom seems to be illusory.
No necessity ties an omnipotent Creator, so he evidently wills human misery [Mill]
     Full Idea: If a Creator is assumed to be omnipotent, if he bends to a supposed necessity, he himself makes the necessity which he bends to. If the maker of the world can all that he will, he wills misery, and there is no escape from the conclusion.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.119)
     A reaction: If you add that the Creator is supposed to be perfectly benevolent, you arrive at the paradox which Mackie spells out. Is the correct conclusion that God exists, and is malevolent? Mill doesn't take that option seriously.
Evil comes from good just as often as good comes from evil [Mill]
     Full Idea: If good frequently comes out of evil, the converse fact, evil coming out of good, is equally common.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.117)
     A reaction: Mill surmises that on the whole good comes from good, and evil from evil, but the point is that the evidence doesn't favour the production of increased good.
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 3. Problem of Evil / d. Natural Evil
There is a rationale in terrible disasters; they are useful to the whole, and make good possible [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: The evil which occurs in terrible disasters has a rationale [logos] peculiar to itself: for in a sense it occurs in accordance with universal reason, and is not without usefulness in relation to the whole. For without it there could be no good.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by A.A. Long - Hellenistic Philosophy 4.4.5
     A reaction: [a quotation from Chrysippus. Plutarch, Comm Not 1065b] A nice question about any terrible disaster is whether it is in some way 'useful', if we take a broader view of things. Almost everything has a good aspect, from that perspective.
Nature dispenses cruelty with no concern for either mercy or justice [Mill]
     Full Idea: All of this [cruel killing] nature does with the most supercilious disregard both of mercy and of justice, emptying her shafts upon the best and noblest indifferently with the meanest and worst
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.115)
     A reaction: The existence of an afterlife at least offers an opportunity to rectify any injustice, but that hardly meets the question of why there was injustice in the first place. It would be odd if it actually is justice, but none of us can see why that is so.
Killing is a human crime, but nature kills everyone, and often with great tortures [Mill]
     Full Idea: Killing, the most criminal act recognised by human laws, nature does once to every being that lives, and frequently after protracted tortures such as the greatest know monsters purposely inflicted on their living fellow creatures
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.115)
     A reaction: We certainly don't condemn lions for savaging gazelles, but the concept of a supreme mind controlling nature forces the question. Theology needs consistency between human and divine morality, and the supposed derivation of the former from the latter.
Hurricanes, locusts, floods and blight can starve a million people to death [Mill]
     Full Idea: Nature often takes the means by which we live. A single hurricane, a flight of locusts, or an inundation, or a trifling chemical change in an edible root, starve a million people.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.116)
     A reaction: [second sentence compressed] The 'edible root' is an obvious reference to the Irish potato famine. Some desertification had human causes, but these are telling examples.
Nature makes childbirth a miserable experience, often leading to the death of the mother [Mill]
     Full Idea: In the clumsy provision which nature has made for the perpetual renewal of animal life, human being ever comes into the world but another human being is literally stretched on the rack for hours or day, not unfrequently issuing in death.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.116)
     A reaction: This is a very powerful example, which is rarely cited in modern discussions.