The 491 new ideas included in the latest update (of 10th February), by Theme

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1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 1. Nature of Wisdom
The health of the soul is a good blend of beliefs [Stoic school, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: The health of the soul is a good blend of the beliefs in the soul.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 2.05b04
     A reaction: When I write my great book, this may well be its epigraph. I presume it means 'wisdom is the health of the soul'.
1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 2. Wise People
A wise man's chief strength is not being tricked; nothing is worse than error, frivolity or rashness [Zeno of Citium, by Cicero]
     Full Idea: Zeno held that the wise man's chief strength is that he is careful not to be tricked, and sees to it that he is not deceived; for nothing is more alien to the conception that we have of the seriousness of the wise man than error, frivolity or rashness.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - Academica II.66
     A reaction: I presume that this concerns being deceived by other people, and also being deceived by evidence. I suggest that the greatest ability of the wise person is the accurate assessment of evidence.
Wise men should try to participate in politics, since they are a good influence [Chrysippus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: The wise man will participate in politics unless something prevents him, for he will restrain vice and promote virtue.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.121
     A reaction: [from lost On Ways of Life Bk 1] We have made modern politics so hostile for its participants, thanks to cruel media pressure, that the best people now run a mile from it. Disastrous.
No wise man has yet been discovered [Stoic school, by Cicero]
     Full Idea: According to the Stoics the wise man is hitherto undiscovered.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - On the Nature of the Gods 2.133
     A reaction: This could plausibly be axiomatic for the whole of philosophy, since the subject is the 'love of wisdom', and not its acquisition. The subject is the pursuit of wisdom, which would be pointless if we already had it.
Wise men are never astonished at things which other people take to be wonders [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: The wise man is astonished at none of the things which appear to be wonders, such as the caves of Charon or tidal ebbs or hot springs or fiery exhalations from the earth.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.123
     A reaction: This seems to me to be correct. Wise people will have thought more extensively about what is possible, and when something they had never imagined occurs, they have the humility to recognise their own limitations.
Wise men participate in politics, especially if it shows moral progress [Stoic school, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: The wise man participates in political life, especially in the sort of governments which show some moral progress.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 2.11b
     A reaction: Nowadays this would probably involve belonging to a political party which offered moral progress.
Unfortunately we choose a way of life before we are old enough to think clearly [Cicero]
     Full Idea: At the beginning of adolescence when our deliberative capacities are weak we decide on the way of life that we find attractive. So one gets entangled in a definite manner and pattern of life before one is able to judge which one is best.
     From: M. Tullius Cicero (On Duties ('De Officiis') [c.44 BCE], 1.117)
     A reaction: Hence it is important to have lots of means for bailing out of education courses, jobs, and even marriage. At least university postpones the key life choices till the early twenties.
1. Philosophy / B. History of Ideas / 5. Later European Thought
The Scientific Revolution was the discovery of our own ignorance [Harari]
     Full Idea: The great discovery of the Scientific Revolution was that humans do not know the answers to their most important question.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 14 'Ignoramus')
     A reaction: I think of that revolution as raising the bar in epistemology, but this idea gives a motivation for doing so. Why the discovery then, and not before?
For millenia people didn't know how to convert one type of energy into another [Harari]
     Full Idea: For millenia people didn't know how to convert one type of energy into another, …and the only machine capable of performing energy conversion was the body.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 17 'Intro')
     A reaction: Hence the huge and revolutionary importance of the steam engine and the electricity generator.
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 4. Divisions of Philosophy
Philosophy has three parts, studying nature, character, and rational discourse [Zeno of Citium, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: They say that philosophical theory is tripartite. For one part of it concerns nature [i.e. physics], another concerns character [i.e. ethics], and another concerns rational discourse [i.e. logic]
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.39
     A reaction: Surely 'nature' included biology, and shouldn't be glossed as 'physics'? And I presume that 'rational discourse' is 'logos', rather than 'logic'. Interesting to see that ethics just is the study of character (and not of good and bad actions).
Six parts: dialectic, rhetoric, ethics, politics, physics, theology [Cleanthes, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Cleanthes says there are six parts: dialectic, rhetoric, ethics, politics, physics, and theology.
     From: report of Cleanthes (works [c.270 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.41
     A reaction: This was a minority view, as most stoics agreed with Zeno and Chrysippus that there are three main topics. Nowadays there is little discussion of the 'parts' of philosophy, but the recent revival of meta-philosophy should encourage it.
Three branches of philosophy: first logic, second ethics, third physics (which ends with theology) [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: There are three kinds of philosophical theorems, logical, ethical, and physical; of these the logic should be placed first, ethics second, and physics third (and theology is the final topic in physics).
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by Plutarch - 70: Stoic Self-contradictions 1035a
     A reaction: [in his lost 'On Lives' Bk 4] 'Theology is the final topic in physics'! That should create a stir in theology departments. Is this an order of study, or of importance? You come to theology right at the end of your studies.
Ethics studies impulse, good, passion, virtue, goals, value, action, appropriateness, encouragement [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Stoic divisions of ethics: on impulse, on good and bad things, on passions, on virtue, on the goal, on primary value, on actions, on appropriate actions, and on encouragements and discouragements to action.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.84
     A reaction: A substantial part of this is covered by modern Action Theory, rather than by ethics. This describes later stoicism, from Chrysippus onwards. I like the study of 'appropriate actions', which could do with some modern analysis.
Stoic physics concerns cosmos, elements and causes (with six detailed divisions) [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Stoics divide physics into topics on bodies, principles, elements, gods, limits, place and void. The general division is into three topics, concerning the cosmos, the elements and causal explanations.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.132
     A reaction: Apart from the gods, not much has changed.
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / a. Philosophy as worldly
True philosophising is not memorising ideas, but living by them [Stoic school, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: It is not the man who listens eagerly and memorises what philosophers say who is prepared for philosophising, but the man who is prepared to carry into action what is pronounced in philosophy and to live by it.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 2.11k
     A reaction: Hence stoicism was seen more as a way of life, and less as theorising. I aim to combine the two. There is a way of life which centres on theorising about life while living it. A life without enquiry is not worth living.
Philosophy investigates the causes of disagreements, and seeks a standard for settling them [Epictetus]
     Full Idea: The start of philosophy is perception of the mutual conflict among people, and a search for its cause, plus the rejection and distrust of mere opinion, an investigation to see if opinion is right, and the discovery of some canon, like scales for weighing.
     From: Epictetus (The Discourses [c.55], 2.11.13)
     A reaction: So the number one aim of philosophy is epistemological, to find the criterion for true opinion. But it starts in real life, and would cease to trade if people would just agree. I think we should set the bar higher than that.
Habermas seems to make philosophy more democratic [Habermas, by Bowie]
     Full Idea: Habermas is concerned to avoid the traumas of modern German history by making democracy an integral part of philosophy.
     From: report of Jürgen Habermas (The Theory of Communicative Action [1981]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy Conc 'Habermas'
     A reaction: Hence Habermas's emphasis on communication as central to language, which is central to philosophy. Modern philosophy departments are amazingly hierarchical.
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 2. Possibility of Metaphysics
Metaphysics is hopeless with its present epistemology; common-sense realism is needed [Colvin]
     Full Idea: Despair over metaphysics will not change until it has shaken off the incubus of a perverted epistemology, which has left thought in a hopeless tangle - until common-sense critical realism is made the starting point for investigating reality.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.144)
     A reaction: It seems to me that this is what has happened to analytic metaphysics since Kripke. Careful discussions about the nature of an object, or a category, or a property, are relying on unquestioned robust realism. Quite right too.
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 1. Analysis
Thoughts are learnt through words, so language shows the limits and shape of our knowledge [Herder]
     Full Idea: If it is true that we cannot think without thoughts, and that we learn to think through words: then language gives the whole of human knowledge its limits and outline.
     From: Johann Gottfried Herder (On Recent German Literature. Fragments [1767], p.373), quoted by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy
     A reaction: Deomonstrating that Frege's famous 1884 'linguistic turn', immortalised by Dummett, was actually the continuation of a long focus on language in German philosophy. Non-verbal animals very obviously think.
1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 2. Phenomenology
Phenomenologists say all experience is about something and is directed [Aho]
     Full Idea: Phenomenologists agree that all experience has an intentional structure, that is, my experience is always about or of something; it is always directed towards an object.
     From: Kevin Aho (Existentialism: an introduction [2014], 2 'Phenomenology')
     A reaction: I am just beginning to grasp that the analytic debates about perception are a re-enactment of the Kantian debates about the thing-in-itself. This is the sort of idea you find in McDowell. Presumably the idea denies the Given, and raw sense-data.
1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 3. Hermeneutics
Hermeneutics is hostile, try to overcome the other person's difference [Derrida, by Zimmermann,J]
     Full Idea: Derrida described the hermeneutic impulse to understand another as a form of violence that seeks to overcome the other's particularity and unique difference.
     From: report of Jacques Derrida (works [1990]) by Jens Zimmermann - Hermeneutics: a very short introduction App 'Derrida'
     A reaction: I'm not sure about 'violence', but Derrida was on to somethng here. The 'hermeneutic circle' sounds like a creepy process of absorption, where the original writer disappears in a whirlpool of interpretation.
Hermeneutics blunts truth, by conforming it to the inerpreter [Derrida, by Zimmermann,J]
     Full Idea: Derrida worried that hermeneutics blunts the disruptive power of truth by forcing it conform to the interpreter's mental horizon.
     From: report of Jacques Derrida (works [1990]) by Jens Zimmermann - Hermeneutics: a very short introduction 3 'The heart'
     A reaction: Good heavens - I agree with Derrida. Very French, though, to see the value of truth in its disruptiveness. I tend to find the truth reassuring, but then I'm English.
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
Art can make reason more all-inclusive, by articulating what seemed inexpressible [Bowie]
     Full Idea: The early German Romantics argued that art pointed to a more all-inclusive conception of reason, which can offer ways of articulating what is not conceptually accessible.
     From: Andrew Bowie (Introduction to German Philosophy [2003], 5 'Reason')
     A reaction: [This is Novalis, F.Schlegel, Schleiermacher, and Hölderlin] I'm in favour of expanding reason, to include assessment of situations and coherence, rather than just stepwise reasoning. Not sure that art 'articulates' something new.
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 2. Logos
Stoics study canons, criteria and definitions, in order to find the truth [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: They include the study of canons and criteria in order to discover the truth. This is to straighten out the differences among the presentations. And they also include the definitional part for the purposes of recognising the truth.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.42
     A reaction: Might we call this categorisation, justifications and definitions? This is part of the study of logos, which comes first in the stoic view of philosophy.
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 4. Aims of Reason
Rather than instrumental reason, Habermas emphasises its communicative role [Habermas, by Oksala]
     Full Idea: Instead of Enlightenment instrumental rationality (criticised by Adorno and Horkheimer), Habermas emphasizes 'communicative rationality', which makes critical discussion and mutual understanding possible.
     From: report of Jürgen Habermas (The Theory of Communicative Action [1981]) by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.6
     A reaction: There was a good reason not to smoke cigarettes, before we found out what it is. In one sense, reasons are in the world. This is interesting, but I feel analytic vertigo, as the lovely concept of 'rationality' becomes blurred and diffused.
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 5. Objectivity
We take part in objective truth, rather than observe it from a distance [Zimmermann,J]
     Full Idea: Hermeneutic thinkers insist that we need to redefine objective truth as something we take part in rather than something we merely observe from a distance.
     From: Jens Zimmermann (Hermeneutics: a very short introduction [2015], 1 'Truth')
     A reaction: Don't get it. If I objectively judge that there are some cows in a field, I judge that they will probably still be there if I turn away and forget them, so any passionate involvement I have with cows is irrelevant to the objective facts. Am I wrong?
Hermeneutic knowledge is not objective, but embraces interpretations [Zimmermann,J]
     Full Idea: In the hermeneutic ideal of knowledge, not distance but involvement, not impersonal observation but personal interaction, not thinking against prejudice or tradition but accessing knowledge through them, characterizes our perception of the world.
     From: Jens Zimmermann (Hermeneutics: a very short introduction [2015], 3 'Beyond')
     A reaction: To make this stick it will have to challenge scientific knowledge which results from mathematical summaries of measurements done by instruments. Is a stop watch an interpretation?
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 2. Sufficient Reason
Everything happens necessarily, and for a reason [Democritus]
     Full Idea: Nothing happens at random, but everything for a reason and as the effect of necessity.
     From: Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], B002), quoted by Pseudo-Plutarch - On the Doctrine of the Philosophers 1.25.4
     A reaction: [In Aetius 'Stob'] This remark reminds us of the link between necessity and sufficient reason. Do all reasons arise for a reason?
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 1. Dialectic
Like spiderswebs, dialectical arguments are clever but useless [Ariston, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: He said that dialectical arguments were like spiderswebs: although they seem to indicate craftsmanlike skill, they are useless.
     From: report of Ariston (works (all lost) [c.250 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.161
     A reaction: Useful for the spider, but useless to Ariston.
Dialectics is mastery of question and answer form [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Dialectical knowledge is about conversing correctly in speeches of question and answer form.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.42
     A reaction: The whole of ancient Greek philosophy seems to be aimed at speaking well.
Rather than in three stages, Hegel presented his dialectic as 'negation of the negation' [Hegel]
     Full Idea: Hegel's 'dialectic' is often characterised in terms of the triad of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. This is, however, not the way he presents it. The core of the dialectic is rather what Hegel terms the 'negation of the negation'.
     From: Georg W.F.Hegel (works [1812]), quoted by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy
     A reaction: Interestingly, this connects it to debates about intuitionist logic, which denies that double-negation necessarily makes a positive. Presumably Marx emphasised the first reading.
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 2. Elenchus
In discussion a person's opinions are shown to be in conflict, leading to calm self-criticism [Plato]
     Full Idea: They collect someone's opinions together during the discussion, put them side by side, and show that they conflict with each other at the same time on the same subjects.... The person sees this, gets angry at themselves, and calmer towards others.
     From: Plato (The Sophist [c.359 BCE], 230b)
     A reaction: He goes on to say that the process is like a doctor purging a patient of internal harms. If anyone talks for long enough (even a good philosopher), their opinions will probably be seen to be in conflict. But which opinions do you abandon?
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 1. Truth
Speak lies, intend lies, intend deception, aim at deceptive goal? [Aquinas, by Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Lying can involve (1) speaking false words, (2) the intention to speak false words, (3) the intention of bringing about deception, and (4) the ultimate goal of one's deception.
     From: report of Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologicae [1265], Q. 110) by Tuckness,A/Wolf,C - This is Political Philosophy 10 'Lying'
     A reaction: It's a start, but much more is needed to clarify lying. Irony is an obvious problem with (1).
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 3. Value of Truth
Falsehoods corrupt a mind, producing passions and instability [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Corruption afflicts the intellect because of falsehoods, and from such a mind there arise many passions and causes of instability.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.110
     A reaction: In Dec 2017 this ancient wisdom perfectly fits the current President of the USA.
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 5. Truth Bearers
The truth bearers are said to be the signified, or the signifier, or the meaning of the signifier [Stoic school, by Sext.Empiricus]
     Full Idea: Some located the true and the false in the thing signified (Dion himself), some located it in the utterance ('Dion'), and some in the motion of the intellect (what foreigners do not undestand when they hear 'Dion')..
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Sextus Empiricus - Against the Mathematicians 8.11
     A reaction: [View is attributed to Dogmatists, which also includes Epicureans] I love the definition of what we might call 'meaning' as what foreigners fail to understand when they hear it. I don't think the debate has got any further today. His example is one word.
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 2. Correspondence to Facts
Graspable presentations are criteria of facts, and are molded according to their objects [Chrysippus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Of presentations, some are graspable, some non-graspable. The graspable presentation, which they say is the criterion of facts [pragmata], is that which comes from an existing object and is stamped and molded in accordance wth the existing object itself.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.46
     A reaction: [in lost Physics Bk 2] The big modern anguish over truth-as-correspondence is how you are supposed to verify the 'accordance'. This idea seems to blur the ideas of truth and justification (the 'criterion'), and you can't have both as accordance.
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 3. Correspondence Truth critique
How could you ever know that the presentation is similar to the object? [Sext.Empiricus on Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: One cannot say that the soul grasps the externally existing objects by means of the states of the senses on the basis of the similarity of these states to the externally existing objects. For on what basis will it know the similarity?
     From: comment on Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Sextus Empiricus - Outlines of Pyrrhonism 2.74
     A reaction: This exactly the main modern reason for rejecting the correspondence theory of truth. You are welcome to affirm a robust view of truth, but supporting it by claiming a correspondence or resemblance is dubious.
4. Formal Logic / A. Syllogistic Logic / 2. Syllogistic Logic
Stoics like syllogisms, for showing what is demonstrative, which corrects opinions [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Stoics say the study of syllogisms is extremely useful; for it indicates what is demonstrative, and this makes a big contribution toward correcting one's opinions; and orderliness and good memory indicate attentive comprehension.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.45
     A reaction: The stoics also developed propositional logic. The main point is that they liked formal logic, which is not true of all the ancient schools.
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 2. Tools of Propositional Logic / e. Axioms of PL
Chrysippus have five obvious 'indemonstrables' of reasoning [Chrysippus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Chrysippus has five indemonstrables that do not need demonstration:1) If 1st the 2nd, but 1st, so 2nd; 2) If 1st the 2nd, but not 2nd, so not 1st; 3) Not 1st and 2nd, the 1st, so not 2nd; 4) 1st or 2nd, the 1st, so not 2nd; 5) 1st or 2nd, not 2nd, so 1st.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.80-81
     A reaction: [from his lost text 'Dialectics'; squashed to fit into one quote] 1) is Modus Ponens, 2) is Modus Tollens. 4) and 5) are Disjunctive Syllogisms. 3) seems a bit complex to be an indemonstrable.
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 2. Logical Connectives / c. not
The contradictory of a contradictory is an affirmation [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: A double contradictory is the contradictory of a contradictory, for example, 'It s not the case that it is not day'. It posits that it is day.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.69
     A reaction: Seems like common sense to the stoics, but verifying the double negative may be a different procedure to verifying the affirmative. 'Are you happy?' 'Well ….I'm not unhappy'. 'Is it day yet?' 'Well, it's not night'.
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 7. Application of Mathematics
At one level maths and nature are very similar, suggesting some deeper origin [Wolfram]
     Full Idea: At some rather abstract level one can immediately recognise one basic similarity between nature and mathematics ...this suggests that the overall similarity between mathematics and nature musst have a deeper origin.
     From: Stephen Wolfram (A New Kind of Science [2002], p.772), quoted by Peter Watson - Convergence 17 'Philosophy'
     A reaction: Personally I think mathematics has been derived by abstracting from the patterns in nature, and then further extrapolating from those abstractions. So the puzzle in nature is not the correspondence with mathematics, but the patterns.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / a. Nature of Being
True Being only occurs when it is completely full, with atoms and no void [Democritus, by Aristotle]
     Full Idea: In response to defenders of the One, Democritus says that what is, in the proper sense, is being that is completely full, but that such a being is not one, but that they are unlimited in number and invisible because of the smallness of their masses.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A007) by Aristotle - Coming-to-be and Passing-away (Gen/Corr) 325a28
     A reaction: Democritus is in a tangle here. He says proper being has no void, having apparently conceded that motion needs void (which he admits is non-existent). So true being only occurs when everything grinds to a halt, which is not now. But Idea 20902.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / d. Non-being
Being does not exist more than non-being [Democritus, by Aristotle]
     Full Idea: They say that being does not exist more than non-being, because neither does the void exist more than the body.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A006) by Aristotle - Metaphysics 0985b09
     A reaction: The claim that Being and Non-Being are the same thing is pretty startling. It seems to be an expedient to get Void into the picture, even though it is taken to be wholly devoid of qualities.
The non-existent exists as much as the existent, because it has causal powers [Democritus]
     Full Idea: What exists does not exist at all more than what does not exist, and both are causes in a similar way for the things that come about.
     From: Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A008), quoted by Simplicius - On Aristotle's 'Physics' p.28.4-27
     A reaction: [Simplicius actually attributes this to the shadowy Leucippus] You can see the point. If you drive into a pothole, that has considerable causal powers.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / g. Particular being
The only distinctions are Configuration (shape), Disposition (order) and Turning (position) [Democritus, by ]
     Full Idea: They say that what is differs only by Configuration ([rhusmos], which is the shape), by Disposition ([diathege], which is the order), and by Turning ([tropê], which is the position.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A006) by - 0985b16
     A reaction: If you give the shape, structure and position of an object, there is no much more to say. Perhaps mention time.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / h. Dasein (being human)
For man, being is not what he is, but what he is going to be [Ortega y Gassett]
     Full Idea: Being consists not in what it is already, but in what it is not yet, a being that consists in not-yet-being. Everything else in the world is what it is….Man is the entity that makes himself….He has to determine what he is going to be.
     From: José Ortega y Gassett (Toward a Philosophy of History [1941], p.112,201-2), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 4 'Problem'
     A reaction: [p.112 and 201-2] This seems to be Ortega y Gasset's spin on Heidegger's concept, by adding a temporal dimension to it.
'Dasein' expresses not 'what' the entity is, but its being [Heidegger]
     Full Idea: When we designate this entity with the term 'Dasein' we are expressing not its 'what' (as if it were a table, house, or tree) but its being.
     From: Martin Heidegger (Being and Time [1927], p.297), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 2 'Phenomenology'
     A reaction: Presumably analytic discussions of persons try to be too objective. Heidegger is trying to capture the thought at the heart of Kierkegaard's existentialism. Objectivity and subjectivity are never in conflict. Is there really a different mode of existence?
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 4. Existence as One
Defenders of the One say motion needs the void - but that is not part of Being [Parmenides, by Aristotle]
     Full Idea: Defenders of the One say that there could not be motion without a void, and that void is what does not exist, and that nothing that is not belongs to being.
     From: report of Parmenides (The Way of Truth (frags) [c.474 BCE]) by Aristotle - Coming-to-be and Passing-away (Gen/Corr) 325a26
     A reaction: This is why motion is an illusion, a view also supported by the paradoxes of Zeno of Elea. Aristotle goes on to give Democritus's response to this idea. Parmenides was contemplating 'void', before Democritus got to it.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 5. The Absolute
The 'absolute idea' is when all the contradictions are exhausted [Hegel, by Bowie]
     Full Idea: The point in philosophy at which the contradictions are exhausted is what Hegel means by the 'absolute idea'.
     From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (Science of Logic [1816]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 4 'Questions'
     A reaction: {Can't think of a response to this one)
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 8. Criterion for Existence
Whatever participates in substance exists [Zeno of Citium, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: Zeno says that whatever participates in substance exists.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 2.05a
     A reaction: This seems Aristotelian, implying that only objects exist. Unformed stuff would not normally qualify as a 'substance'. So does mud exist? See the ideas of Henry Laycock.
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 1. Nature of Change
Nothing comes from non-existence, or passes into it [Democritus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Nothing comes into being from what does not exist, nor is it destroyed into what does not exist.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A001) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 09.44
     A reaction: [part of a concise summary of Democritus by DL] Probably an intuition about conservation laws, rather than a speculation about the Big Bang.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 1. Realism
We can only distinguish self from non-self if there is an inflexible external reality [Colvin]
     Full Idea: Were there no inflexible reality outside of the individual, opposing and limiting it, knowledge of the self and the non-self would never develop.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.140)
     A reaction: Presumably opponents would have to say that such 'knowledge' is an illusion. This is in no way a conclusive argument, but I approach the problem of realism in quest of the best explanation, and this idea is important evidence.
Common-sense realism rests on our interests and practical life [Colvin]
     Full Idea: It is the determination of the external world from the practical standpoint, from the standpoint of interest, that may be defined as the common-sense view of reality.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.141)
     A reaction: Probably more appropriately named the 'pragmatic' view of reality. Relying on what is 'practical' seems to offer some objectivity, but relying on 'interest' rather less so. Can I be an anti-realist when life goes badly, and a realist when it goes well?
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 3. Anti-realism
If objects are doubted because their appearances change, that presupposes one object [Colvin]
     Full Idea: If objects are doubted because the same object appears differently at different times and circumstances, in order that this judgement shall have weight it must be assumed that the object under question is the same in its different presentations.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.145)
     A reaction: [compressed] Scepticism could eat into the underlying object as well. Is the underlying object a 'substrate'? If so, what's that? Is the object just a bundle of a properties? If so, there is no underlying object.
Arguments that objects are unknowable or non-existent assume the knower's existence [Colvin]
     Full Idea: Arguments for the absolute unknowability or non-existence of an external object only works by assuming that another external object, an individual, is known completely in so far as that individual expresses a judgement about an external object.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.145)
     A reaction: Anti-realism is a decay that eats into everything. You can't doubt all the externals without doubting all the internals as well.
The idea that everything is relations is contradictory; relations are part of the concept of things [Colvin]
     Full Idea: The doctrine [that all we can know is the relations between subject and object] is in its essence self-contradictory, since our very idea of thing implies that it is something in relation either actually or potentially.
     From: Stephen S. Colvin (The Common-Sense View of Reality [1902], p.150)
     A reaction: Ladyman and Ross try to defend an account of reality based entirely on relations. I'm with Colvin on this one. All accounts of reality based either on pure relations or pure functions have a huge hole in their theory.
7. Existence / E. Categories / 3. Proposed Categories
Stoics have four primary categories: substrates, qualities, dispositions, relative dispositions [Stoic school, by Simplicius]
     Full Idea: Stoics reduce the number of primary categories, some of them new. They divide them into four: substrates [underlying things], qualities [qualified things], dispositions [things in a certain state], and relative dispositions [with respect to something].
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Simplicius - On Aristotle's 'Categories' 1b25 8.66.32
     A reaction: [a precious rare quote on stoic categories] Not sure of the status of the glosses in square brackets. I very much like 'dispositions' as a basic category. Substrates are elusive beasts. Is this list 'objects, qualities, dispositions, relations'?
7. Existence / E. Categories / 5. Category Anti-Realism
It is not possible to know what sort each thing is [Democritus]
     Full Idea: In reality [eteé] to recognise what sort each thing is, belongs to what is impracticable [aporos].
     From: Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], B008), quoted by Sextus Empiricus - Against the Logicians 7.137
     A reaction: On the whole modern scientists (and the rest of us) shoehorn virtually everything into a specific category. It strikes me as wildly bad metaphysics to say that everything necessarily has its category.
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 6. Platonic Forms / a. Platonic Forms
Platonists argue for the indivisible triangle-in-itself [Plato, by Aristotle]
     Full Idea: The Platonists, on the basis of purely logical arguments, posit the existence of an indivisible 'triangle in itself'.
     From: report of Plato (works [c.375 BCE]) by Aristotle - Coming-to-be and Passing-away (Gen/Corr) 316a15
     A reaction: A helpful confirmation that geometrical figures really are among the Forms (bearing in mind that numbers are not, because they contain one another). What shape is the Form of the triangle?
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 6. Platonic Forms / d. Forms critiques
Platonic Forms are just our thoughts [Stoic school, by Ps-Plutarch]
     Full Idea: The Stoics said that the Ideas [Platonic forms] are our own thoughts.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Pseudo-Plutarch - On the Doctrine of the Philosophers 882a
     A reaction: That's Plato deftly kicked into touch. I'm with the Stoics.
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / c. Wholes from parts
How is divisibility possible, if stoics say things remain united when they are divided? [Alexander on Stoic school]
     Full Idea: How could the divisibility of bodies be preserved if division is the separation of what is united, and according to them all things stay united with each other, all the same even when they are divided?
     From: comment on Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Alexander - On Mixture 2.2
     A reaction: Evidently the stoics were committed to unrestricted mereological composition (that any parts make a whole, no matter how scattered). Alexander points out that this makes the concept of 'division' of an entity meaningless.
How is separateness possible, if separated things are always said to be united? [Alexander on Stoic school]
     Full Idea: How could one avoid the inconsistency of saying that adjacent objects that can easily be separated are all the same united with each other, being coherent and never able o be separated from each other without division?
     From: comment on Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Alexander - On Mixture 2.2
     A reaction: In general my sympathies are with Alexander on this. If you abandon all principles of unity apart from unrestricted mereological composition, you save yourself a lot of bother, but you abandon the most useful concepts in ontology.
Stoics say wholes are more than parts, but entirely consist of parts [Stoic school, by Sext.Empiricus]
     Full Idea: Stoics say the wholes are not the same as their parts, for a human being is not his hand, nor are they other than their parts, for they do not exist without the parts.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Sextus Empiricus - Outlines of Pyrrhonism 3.170
     A reaction: 'A human being is not his hand' is not much of a reason. Surely some holistic claim is needed here? The conflict of these two ideas was spotted by Plato.
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 11. Denial of Necessity
Maybe modal sentences cannot be true or false [Casullo]
     Full Idea: Some people claim that modal sentences do not express truths or falsehoods.
     From: Albert Casullo (A Priori Knowledge [2002], 3.2)
     A reaction: I can only imagine this coming from a narrow hardline empiricist. It seems to me obvious that we make true or false statements about what is possible or impossible.
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 1. Possibility
The Master Argument seems to prove that only what will happen is possible [Diod.Cronus, by Epictetus]
     Full Idea: The Master Argument: these conflict 1) what is past and true is necessary, 2) the impossible does not follow from the possible, 3) something possible neither is nor will be true. Hence only that which is or will be true is possible.
     From: report of Diodorus Cronus (works (fragments) [c.300 BCE]) by Epictetus - The Discourses 2.19.1
     A reaction: [Epictetus goes on to discuss views about which of the three should be given up] It is possible there will be a sea fight tomorrow; tomorrow comes, and no sea fight; so there was necessarily no sea fight; so the impossible followed from the possible.
A proposition is possible if it is true when nothing stops it being true [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: That proposition is possible which admits of being true, if external factors do not prevent it from being true, for example, 'Diocles is alive'.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.75
     A reaction: Well that's different. So every unprevented possibility will occur tomorrow. Any possibility that does not occur tomorrow must have been prevented in some way. Whatever does occur prevents innumerable other things from occurring. Your turn…
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 8. Conditionals / c. Truth-function conditionals
Conditionals are false if the falsehood of the conclusion does not conflict with the antecedent [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: A conditional is true if the opposite of the conclusion conflicts with the antecedent, and false if it doesn't conflict. Thus 'If it is day, Dion is walking' is false, because 'Dion is not walking' does not conflict with 'It is day'.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.73
     A reaction: For the two to conflict there must be some connection in subject matter, which is not the case if the mere falsehood of the conclusion (from a true premise) falsifies the conditional. This seems like a rather good account.
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 1. A Priori Necessary
If the necessary is a priori, so is the contingent, because the same evidence is involved [Casullo]
     Full Idea: If one can only know a priori that a proposition is necessary, then one can know only a priori that a proposition is contingent. The evidence relevant to determining the latter is the same as that relevant to determining the former.
     From: Albert Casullo (A Priori Knowledge [2002], 3.2)
     A reaction: This seems a telling point, but I suppose it is obvious. If you see that the cat is on the mat, nothing in the situation tells you whether this is contingent or necessary. We assume it is contingent, but that may be an a priori assumption.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
Knowledge is a secure grasp of presentations which cannot be reversed by argument [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Knowledge itself, say the stoics, is either a secure grasp or a disposition in the reception of presentations not reversible by argument.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.47
     A reaction: Helpful, but not enough. Fools hold secure grasps which cannot be refuted, as far as they are concerned. Consensus needed. Falsification? The truth-bearer is a 'presentation' (an appearance), which is different from modern accounts.
Knowledge is threefold: apprehension, reproduction by imagination, recognition by concepts [Kant, by Bowie]
     Full Idea: Kant describes knowledge in terms of a 'threefold synthesis', in which something is first 'apprehended' as affecting the mind, then is 'reproduced' in the imagination, and finally is 'recognised' via a concept which classifies it.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 1 'Judgement'
     A reaction: Helpful. How does this distinguish knowledge from error (as Russell would enquire)? Is the 'apprehended', then, the unconceptualised 'Given'? I think that is what later German philosophers rebelled against in Kant.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / b. Elements of beliefs
Two sorts of opinion: either poorly grounded belief, or weak belief [Stoic school, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: There are two kinds of opinion: one is assent to something which is not graspable; the other is weak belief.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 2.11m
     A reaction: Strong belief usually qualifies as knowledge. The Greek 'opinion' and 'belief' don't exactly map onto the modern words. This idea covers both the subjective aspect of belief (its strength) and its objective aspect (its grounding).
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / d. Cause of beliefs
Belief is no more rational than is tasting and smelling [Hamann]
     Full Idea: Belief happens as little in terms of reasons as tasting and smelling.
     From: J.G. Hamann (works [1770], v2:74), quoted by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy
     A reaction: That is one idea definitively expressed! I take it as only a partial truth. Beliefs happen as a result of observation and experience. But someone can draw our attention to something (and we can hunt it out ourselves), which is giving a reason for belief.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 7. Knowledge First
A grasp by the senses is true, because it leaves nothing out, and so nature endorses it [Zeno of Citium, by Cicero]
     Full Idea: He thought that a grasp made by the senses was true and reliable, …because it left out nothing about the object that could be grasped, and because nature had provided this grasp as a standard of knowledge, and a basis for understanding nature itself.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - Academica I.42
     A reaction: Sounds like Williamson's 'knowledge first' claim - that the basic epistemic state is knowledge, which we have when everything is working normally. I like Zeno's idea that a 'grasp' leaves nothing out about the object. Compare nature with Descartes' God.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 2. Phenomenalism
Appearances do not hide the essence; appearances are the essence [Sartre]
     Full Idea: We reject the dualism of appearance and essence. The appearance does not hide the essence, it reveals it; it is the essence.
     From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Being and Nothingness [1943], p.4-5), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 2 'Phenomenology'
     A reaction: This idea, expressed in the language of Hegel and Husserl, strikes me as the same as the analytic phenomenalism of Mill and Ayer. Hence I take it to be wrong.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism
The absolute I divides into consciousness, and a world which is not-I [Fichte]
     Full Idea: Fichte's very influential idea is that the subject becomes divided against itself. The absolute I splits into an I (consciousness) and a not-I (the objective world) that are relative to each other.
     From: Johann Fichte (works [1794]), quoted by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 3 'Fichtean'
     A reaction: This is German Idealism in action. Is there a before and after the split here? I can't make much sense of this idea. It is said that babies spend a while deciding which bits are them and which aren't. There is more to the world than 'not-I'.
German Idealism says our thinking and nature have the same rational structure [Bowie]
     Full Idea: German Idealism aims to demonstrate that our thinking relates to a nature which is intelligibly structured in the same way as our thinking is structured.
     From: Andrew Bowie (Introduction to German Philosophy [2003], 3 'Limits')
     A reaction: Now that's an idealism I might buy into. Frege thought his logic was mapping rational reality. My angle is that we are a product of this 'reality', so we should expect our thinking to be similarly structured. Reason is derived from nature.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 1. Nature of the A Priori
There are non-sensible presentations, which come to us through the intellect [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Stoics say some presentations are sensible, some non-sensible. Those received through the sense organs are sensible; non-sensible are those which come through the intellect, for example, presentations of incorporeals and other things grasped by reason.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.51
     A reaction: The a priori used to be metaphysics (a world of truths), and in modern times is epistemology (a mode of justification), but here it is just a mode of experience, which is not, it seems, necessarily true.
Epistemic a priori conditions concern either the source, defeasibility or strength [Casullo]
     Full Idea: There are three suggested epistemic conditions on a priori knowledge: the first regards the source of justification, the second regards the defeasibility of justification, and the third appeals to the strength of justification.
     From: Albert Casullo (A Priori Knowledge [2002], 2)
     A reaction: [compressed] He says these are all inspired by Kant. The non-epistemic suggested condition involve necessity or analyticity. The source would have to be entirely mental; the defeasibly could not be experiential; the strength would be certainty.
The main claim of defenders of the a priori is that some justifications are non-experiential [Casullo]
     Full Idea: The leading claim of proponents of the a priori is that sources of justification are of two significantly different types: experiential and nonexperiential. Initially this difference is marked at the phenomenological level.
     From: Albert Casullo (A Priori Knowledge [2002], 5)
     A reaction: He cites Plantinga and Bealer for the phenomenological starting point (that some knowledge just seems rationally obvious, certain, and perhaps necessary).
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 3. Innate Knowledge / c. Tabula rasa
Stoics say we are born like a blank sheet of paper; the first concepts on it are sensations [Stoic school, by ]
     Full Idea: The Stoics say when a human being is born, the leading part of his soul is like a sheet of paper ready for being written on. On this he inscribes every one of his conceptions. The first manner of writing on it is through the senses.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by - 900a
     A reaction: This may not be dogmatic empiricism, because later inscriptions on the sheet could be purely a priori.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 4. A Priori as Necessities
Analysis of the a priori by necessity or analyticity addresses the proposition, not the justification [Casullo]
     Full Idea: There is reason to view non-epistemic analyses of a priori knowledge (in terms of necessity or analyticity) with suspicion. The a priori concerns justification. Analysis by necessity or analyticity concerns the proposition rather than the justification.
     From: Albert Casullo (A Priori Knowledge [2002], 2.1)
     A reaction: [compressed] The fact that the a priori is entirely a mode of justification, rather than a type of truth, is the modern view, influenced by Kripke. Given that assumption, this is a good objection.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 5. A Priori Synthetic
Kant bases the synthetic a priori on the categories of oneness and manyness [Kant, by Bowie]
     Full Idea: The categories of oneness and manyness are the basis of what Kant terms 'synthetic judgements a priori'.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason [1781]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 1 'First'
     A reaction: This is a solution to the paradoxes of one and many that bothered Plato. I think it is best seen in our capacity to count things, and the individuation which must precede that. Atomism and holism.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 11. Denying the A Priori
What is considered a priori changes as language changes [Habermas]
     Full Idea: Habermas claims that what is regarded as a priori changes with history. This is because the linguistic structures on which judgements depend are themselves part of history, not prior to it.
     From: Jürgen Habermas (The Theory of Communicative Action [1981]), quoted by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy Conc 'Habermas'
     A reaction: This is an interesting style of argument generally only found in continental philosophers, because they see the problem as historical rather than timeless. Compare Idea 20595, which sees analyticity historically.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 1. Perception
Snow is not white, and doesn't even appear white, because it is made of black water [Anaxagoras, by Cicero]
     Full Idea: Anaxagoras not only denied that snow was white, but because he knew that the water from which it was composed was black, even denied that it appeared white to himself.
     From: report of Anaxagoras (Natural Science (frags) [c.460 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - Academica II.100
     A reaction: Not ridiculous. Can you deny that red and yellow balls look orange from a distance? It seems to result from a failure of discrimination on your part. It sounds okay to say 'what I am really perceiving is red and yellow'.
In phenomenology, all perception is 'seeing as' [Zimmermann,J]
     Full Idea: That human perception is always a 'seeing as' was the cardinal insight of what Husserl called 'phenomenology'.
     From: Jens Zimmermann (Hermeneutics: a very short introduction [2015], 2 'Husserl's')
     A reaction: I presume that 'cardinal insight' means there is no possibility of Husserl being wrong about this. What's happening before you figure out what it is you are looking at?
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / d. Secondary qualities
Non-graspable presentations are from what doesn't exist, or are not clear and distinct [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: The non-graspable presentation is either not from an existing object or from an existing object but not in accordance with it; it is neither clear nor well stamped (i.e. distinct).
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.46
     A reaction: This sounds exactly like Locke's account of secondary qualities, at least as interpreted by Peter Alexander. That is, they are genuine qualities of things, but misleading, in a way that primary qualities are not.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 3. Representation
Man is separated from reality [Democritus]
     Full Idea: It is necessary to recognise that man by virtue of this criterion is separated from reality.
     From: Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], B006), quoted by Sextus Empiricus - Against the Logicians 7.137
     A reaction: I don't know what 'this criterion' is, but it strikes me as quite a good slogan for fans (like myself) of the representative theory of perception. Critics say it is the big objection to the representative theory, but I say 'get over it'.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 5. Interpretation
Stoic perception is a presentation to which one voluntarily assents [Stoic school, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: The Stoics did not make sense-perception consist in presentation alone but made its substance depend on assent; for perception is an assent to a perceptual presentation, the assent being voluntary.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 1.49.25
     A reaction: [Stobaeus cites Porphyry's De Anima] Thus you only perceive a hallucination if you do not realise that it is false. This is more subjective than I would want to be. If you only think you perceive, but you are wrong, then I say you don't perceive.
Perceived objects always appear in a context [Heidegger]
     Full Idea: The perceptual 'something' is always in the middle of something else, it always forms part of a 'field'.
     From: Martin Heidegger (Being and Time [1927], p.4), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 3 'Perceptual'
     A reaction: Sounds like our knowledge of electrons. Nice point. Standard analytic discussions of perceiving a glass always treat it in isolation, when it is on an expensive table near a brandy bottle. Or near a hammer.
The mind does not unite perceptions, because they flow into one another [Merleau-Ponty]
     Full Idea: I do not have one perception, then another, and between them a link brought about by the mind. Rather, each perspective merges into the other [against a unified background].
     From: Maurice Merleau-Ponty (Phenomenology of Perception [1945], p.329-30), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 3 'Perceptual'
     A reaction: I take this to be another piece of evidence pointing to realism as the best explanation of experience. A problem for Descartes is what unites the sequence of thoughts.
12. Knowledge Sources / C. Rationalism / 1. Rationalism
Obscure knowledge belongs to the five senses, and genuine knowledge is the other type [Foa]
     Full Idea: There are two forms of knowledge [gnomé], the one genuine, the other obscure. And to the obscure one belongs all of these: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch. The other is genuine, and is separated from this one.
     From: Pamela Foa (What's Wrong with Rape? [1977], B011), quoted by Sextus Empiricus - Against the Logicians 7.139
     A reaction: [Sextus goes on to make it clear that the 'genuine' one is knowledge acquired by thought]. I take Parmenides to be the first rationalist. It is interesting that Democritus, who devoted his life to finding causal explanations, seems to be a rationalist.
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 1. Empiricism
All our concepts come from experience, directly, or by expansion, reduction or compounding [Stoic school, by Sext.Empiricus]
     Full Idea: In general one can find nothing in our conceptions that is not known to oneself in direct experience. For it is grasped either by similarity to what is revealed in direct experience, or by expansion or reduction or compounding.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Sextus Empiricus - Against the Mathematicians 8.58
     A reaction: Although the stoics allow for purely a priori knowledge, this quotation sounds comprehensively empirical.
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 1. Justification / c. Defeasibility
If a grasped perception cannot be shaken by argument, it is 'knowledge' [Zeno of Citium, by Cicero]
     Full Idea: What had been grasped by sense-perception, he called this itself a 'sense-perception', and if it was grasped in such a way that it could not be shaken by argument he called it 'knowledge'. And between knowledge and ignorance he placed the 'grasp'.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - Academica I.41
     A reaction: This seems to say that a grasped perception is knowledge if there is no defeater.
If experiential can defeat a belief, then its justification depends on the defeater's absence [Kitcher, by Casullo]
     Full Idea: According to Kitcher, if experiential evidence can defeat someone's justification for a belief, then their justification depends on the absence of that experiential evidence.
     From: report of Philip Kitcher (The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge [1984], p.89) by Albert Casullo - A Priori Knowledge 2.3
     A reaction: Sounds implausible. There are trillions of possible defeaters for most beliefs, but to say they literally depend on trillions of absences seems a very odd way of seeing the situation
'Overriding' defeaters rule it out, and 'undermining' defeaters weaken in [Casullo]
     Full Idea: A justified belief that a proposition is not true is an 'overriding' defeater, ...and the belief that a justification is inadequate or defective is an 'undermining' defeater.
     From: Albert Casullo (A Priori Knowledge [2002], n 40)
     A reaction: Sounds more like a sliding scale than a binary option. Quite useful, though.
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 2. Justification Challenges / c. Knowledge closure
Sphaerus he was not assenting to the presence of pomegranates, but that it was 'reasonable' [Sphaerus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: When Sphaerus accepted pomegranates from the king, he was accused of assenting to a false presentation, to which Sphaerus replied that what he had assented to was not that they were pomegranates, but that it was reasonable that they were pomegranates.
     From: report of Sphaerus (talk [c.240 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.177
     A reaction: He then cited the stoic distinction between a 'graspable' presentation and a 'reasonable' one. This seems a rather helpful response to Dretske's zebra problem. I like the word 'sensible' in epistemology, because animals can be sensible.
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 1. Epistemic virtues
Dialectic is a virtue which contains other virtues [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Dialectic itself is necessary, and is a virtue which contains other virtues.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.46
     A reaction: Presumable the virtues which are 'contained' are the whole panoply of other intellectual virtues. These will be virtues of intellectual character (Zagzebski), not virtues of processes (Sosa).
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 4. Foundationalism / b. Basic beliefs
Some things are their own criterion, such as straightness, a set of scales, or light [Sext.Empiricus]
     Full Idea: Dogmatists say something can be its own criterion. The straight is the standard of itself, and a set of scales establishes the equality of other things and of itself, and light seems to reveal not just other things but also itself.
     From: Sextus Empiricus (Against the Mathematicians [c.180], 442)
     A reaction: Each of these may be a bit dubious, but deserves careful discussion.
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 1. Scepticism
We actually know nothing, and opinions are mere flux [Democritus]
     Full Idea: Certainly this argument too makes it clear that in reality [eteé] we know nothing about anything, but for each person opinion is a rhythmic afflux [epirhusmié].
     From: Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], B007), quoted by Sextus Empiricus - Against the Logicians 7.137
     A reaction: This seems to pick 'all is flux' up from Heraclitus, and make Democritus (along with aspects of Socrates) the true source of ancient scepticism.
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 3. Illusion Scepticism
Every true presentation can have a false one of the same quality [Cicero]
     Full Idea: [The sceptical Academics say] what is false cannot be perceived, but every true presentation is such that there can be a false presentation of the same quality.
     From: M. Tullius Cicero (Academica [c.45 BCE], II.40)
     A reaction: It was the stoics who focused the discussion on 'presentations'. This claim is purely theoretical; no one has ever experienced a false presentation of talking to a family member that was as vivid as the real thing.
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 6. Scepticism Critique
How can sceptics show there is no criterion? Weak without, contradiction with [Sext.Empiricus]
     Full Idea: The dogmatists ask how the sceptic can show there is no criterion. If without a criterion, he is untrustworthy; with a criterion he is turned upside down. He says there is no criterion, but accepts a criterion to establish this.
     From: Sextus Empiricus (Against the Mathematicians [c.180], 440)
     A reaction: This is also the classic difficulty for foundationalist views of knowledge. Is the foundation justified, or not?
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 6. Relativism Critique
How can we state relativism of sweet and sour, if they have no determinate nature? [Theophrastus]
     Full Idea: How could what is bitter for us be sweet and sour for others, if there is not some determinate nature for them?
     From: Theophrastus (On the Senses [c.321 BCE], 70)
     A reaction: The remark is aimed at Democritus. This is part of the general question of how you can even talk about relativism, without attaching stable meanings to the concepts employed.
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 2. Demonstration
Demonstration derives what is less clear from what is clear [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Demonstration is an argument which by means of things more clearly grasped concludes to something that is less clearly grasped.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.45
     A reaction: In Aristotle demonstration seems to concern physical sciences, but this stoic account makes it sound like pure logic proof. This is why all logic tends to start from atomic sentences, because they are clearest.
14. Science / B. Scientific Theories / 2. Aim of Science
Science has to abstract out the subjective attributes of things, focusing on what is objective [Aho]
     Full Idea: Crucial to the scientific method is the ability to abstract out the subjective qualities that we give to things - such as beauty, meaning, purpose, and value - and focus only on the objective qualities of things, which can be measured and quantified.
     From: Kevin Aho (Existentialism: an introduction [2014], 1 'Emergence')
     A reaction: This seems to me exactly right. People who deny the primary/secondary distinction, like Hume, are usually correspondingly pessimistic about science. And Hume was wrong about that.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / d. Consilience
Consilience is a common groundwork of explanation [Whewell]
     Full Idea: Consilience is the jumping together of knowledge by the linking of facts and fact-based theory across disciplines to create a common groundwork of explanation.
     From: William Whewell (The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences [1840]), quoted by Peter Watson - Convergence Intro 'United'
     A reaction: Apparently this is the first use of the word, which was popularised by E.O. Wilson in recent times. If, as I do, you dream of a final theory, in philosophy as well as in science, then you have to be a fan of consilience.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / g. Causal explanations
Democritus was devoted to discovering causal explanations [Democritus, by Eusebius]
     Full Idea: Democritus himself, as they say, stated that he would rather discover a single causal explanation [aitiologia] than become the King of the Persians.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], B118) by Eusebius - Preparation for the Gospel 14.27.4
     A reaction: Democritus seems to be clearly the father of the physical sciences, because he focused single-mindedly on physical and causal explanations. David Lewis says all explanations are causal.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / j. Explanations by reduction
Six reduction levels: groups, lives, cells, molecules, atoms, particles [Putnam/Oppenheim, by Watson]
     Full Idea: There are six 'reductive levels' in science: social groups, (multicellular) living things, cells, molecules, atoms, and elementary particles.
     From: report of H.Putnam/P.Oppenheim (Unity of Science as a Working Hypothesis [1958]) by Peter Watson - Convergence 10 'Intro'
     A reaction: I have the impression that fields are seen as more fundamental that elementary particles. What is the status of the 'laws' that are supposed to govern these things? What is the status of space and time within this picture?
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 1. Mind / c. Features of mind
Eight parts of the soul: five senses, seeds, speech and reason [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: The stoics say there are eight parts of the soul: the five senses, the spermatic principle is us, the vocal part, and the reasoning part.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.155
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 2. Psuché
The soul is the same as the mind [Democritus, by Aristotle]
     Full Idea: Democritus says the soul is the same thing as the mind.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A101) by Aristotle - De Anima 405a10
     A reaction: This is not in contrast to the Christian concept of the soul, but in contrast to the normal view of psuché, which is more like the life that permeates the whole body. Democritus was more in tune than Aristotle with modern thought on this.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 7. Animal Minds
Animals have a share of reason [Democritus, by Porphyry]
     Full Idea: Democritus recognised that animals have a share of reason.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE]) by Porphyry - On Abstinence 3.6.7
     A reaction: Since he considers thinking to be the interaction of atoms in the body, which animals evidently possess, this seems consistent. No one seems to observed animals closely before the 20th century, other than to exploit them.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 8. Brain
The directive centre is located in the whole head [Democritus, by Ps-Plutarch]
     Full Idea: Democritus says [the directive centre is located] in the whole head.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A105) by Pseudo-Plutarch - On the Doctrine of the Philosophers 4.5.1
     A reaction: The whole head is not quite the brain, but he is getting very warm indeed, and long before anyone else got so close.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / b. Essence of consciousness
Consciousness is shaped dialectically, by opposing forces and concepts [Aho, by Aho]
     Full Idea: In 'The Phenomenology of Spirit' Hegel offers a panoptic account of Western consciousness as a dialectical process shaped by opposing principles - such as subject/object, freedom/determinism, temporal/eternal, and particular/universal.
     From: report of Kevin Aho (Existentialism: an introduction [2014]) by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 2 'Subjective'
     A reaction: A helpful pointer, for us poor analytic philosophers, who stare in bewilderment at Hegel's stuff, despite its apparent importance. At moment it is the politics that strikes me as most interesting in Hegel. This is cultured consciousness, pre-Marx.
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 1. Faculties
Our conceptions arise from experience, similarity, analogy, transposition, composition and opposition [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Some conceptions are conceived on the basis of direct experience, some on the basis of similarity, some on the basis of analogy, some on the basis of transposition, some on the basis of composition, and some on the basis of opposition.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.52
     A reaction: These are examples of what I think of as 'philosophical faculties', probably not mentioned by either psychologists or neuro-scientists, but seen by philosophers as necessary preconditions for certain basic operations of thought.
There are 23 core brain functions, with known circuit, transmitters, genes and behaviour [Watson]
     Full Idea: In 2014 the National Institutes of Mental Health published a list of 23 core brain functions and their associated neural circuitry, neurotransmitters and genes, and the behaviour and emotions that go with them.
     From: Peter Watson (Convergence [2016], 16 'Physics')
     A reaction: They were interested in the functions behind mental health, but I am interested in the functions behind our belief systems, which might produce a different focus. Sub-functions, perhaps.
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 1. Existence of Persons
Persons must be conscious, reasoning, motivated, communicative, self-aware [Warren, by Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Suggested characteristics of personhood: consciousness (esp. of pain); reasoning and problem solving; self-motivated activity; varied communication on many topics; self-concepts and self-awareness.
     From: report of Mary Anne Warren (On the Moral and Legal State of Abortion [1973], p.55) by Tuckness,A/Wolf,C - This is Political Philosophy 8 'Standing'
     A reaction: [a 'famous' article] A number of non-human animals come very close to passing these tests. I suspect the complex commication is only in there to disqualify them from getting the full certificate. (But she wrote on animal rights).
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 2. Ethical Self
The real subject is ethical, not cognitive [Kierkegaard]
     Full Idea: The real subject is not the cognitive subject …the real subject is the ethically existing subject.
     From: Søren Kierkegaard (Concluding Unscientific Postscript [1846], p.281), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 2 'Subjective'
     A reaction: Perhaps we should say the essence of the self is its drive to live, not its drive to know. Just getting through the day is top priority, and ethics don’t figure much for the solitary person. But each activity, such as cooking, has its virtues.
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 6. Self as Higher Awareness
Maybe a person's true self is their second-order desires [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: A second-order desire is a desire about what kind of desires you want to have. ....Some philosophers have argued that we should associate a person's second-order desires with her 'true self'.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 2 'What is')
     A reaction: Presumably the buck stops at these second-order desires, though we might request an account of their origin. 'What sort of person do I want to be?' looks like a third-order question. I don't even want to be a saint. Self is nothing to do with desires?
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 7. Self and Body / a. Self needs body
The powerful self behind your thoughts and feelings is your body [Nietzsche]
     Full Idea: Behind your thoughts and feelings stands a powerful commander, an unknown wise man - he is called a self. He lives in your body; he is your body.
     From: Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spake Zarathustra [1884], I.4), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 5 'Creature'
     A reaction: I find Nietzsche's view of the self very congenial, though I tend to see the self as certain central functions of the brain. The brain is enmeshed in the body (as in the location of pains).
16. Persons / E. Rejecting the Self / 2. Self as Social Construct
Nazis think race predetermines the self [Bowie]
     Full Idea: The Nazi idea is that the self is predetermined primarily by its race.
     From: Andrew Bowie (Introduction to German Philosophy [2003], Intro)
     A reaction: I suspect that I occasionally encounter this view, in very patriotic people. But then you meet people who feeling that their self is mainly determined by support of a football team. Note, though, 'pre-'determined. Hegel makes this idea possible?
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 2. Sources of Free Will
Epicurus showed that the swerve can give free motion in the atoms [Epicurus, by Diogenes of Oen.]
     Full Idea: There is a free motion in the atoms, which Democritus did not discover, but which Epicurus brought to light, and which consists in a swerve, as he demonstrated on the basis of what is seen to be the case?
     From: report of Epicurus (works (fragments) [c.290 BCE]) by Diogenes (Oen) - Wall inscription 54.II-III
     A reaction: I presume the last bit means that we see that we have freedom of choice, and infer the swerve in the atoms as the only possible explanation. The worry for libertarians is, of course, who is in charge of the swerve.
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 4. For Free Will
Chrysippus allows evil to say it is fated, or even that it is rational and natural [Plutarch on Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: Chrysippus gives vice blatant freedom to say not only that it is necessary and according to fate, but even that it occurs according to god's reason and the best nature.
     From: comment on Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Plutarch - 70: Stoic Self-contradictions 1050c
     A reaction: This is Plutarch's criticism of stoic determinism or fatalism. Zeno replied that the punishment for vice may also be fated. It seems that Chysippus did believe that punishments were too harsh, given that vices are fated [p.109].
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 5. Against Free Will
A swerve in the atoms would be unnatural, like scales settling differently for no reason [Chrysippus, by Plutarch]
     Full Idea: Chrysippus argues against the 'swerve' of the Epicureans, on the grounds that they are doing violence to nature by positing something which is uncaused, and cites dice or scales, which can't settle differently without some cause or difference.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Plutarch - 70: Stoic Self-contradictions 1045c
     A reaction: That is, the principle of sufficient reason (or of everything having a cause) is derived from observation, not a priori understanding. Pace Leibniz. As in modern discussion, free will or the swerve only occur in our minds, and not elsewhere.
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 6. Determinism / a. Determinism
Chrysippus is wrong to believe in non-occurring future possibilities if he is a fatalist [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: Chrysippus's accounts of possibility and fate are in conflict. If he is right that 'everything that permits of occurring even if it is not going to occur is possible', then many things are possible which are not according to fate.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by Plutarch - 70: Stoic Self-contradictions 1055e
     A reaction: A palpable hit, I think. Plutarch refers to Chrysippus's rejection of Diodorus Cronus's Master Argument. Fatalism seems to entail that the only future possibilities are the ones that actually occur.
Everything is fated, either by continuous causes or by a supreme rational principle [Chrysippus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Chrysippus says (in his 'On Fate') that everything happens by fate. Fate is a continuous string of causes of things which exist or a rational principle according to which the cosmos is managed.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.148
If we could foresee the future, we should collaborate with disease and death [Epictetus]
     Full Idea: The philosophers are right to say that if the honorable and good person knew what was going to happen, he would even collaborate with disease, death and lameness.
     From: Epictetus (The Discourses [c.55], 2.10.5)
     A reaction: The 'philosophers' must be the earlier stoics, founders of his school.
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 6. Determinism / b. Fate
Fate is an eternal and fixed chain of causal events [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: Fate is a sempiternal and unchangeable series and chain of things, rolling and unravelling itself through eternal sequences of cause and effect, of which it is composed and compounded.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by Aulus Gellius - Noctes Atticae 7.2.01
     A reaction: It seems that Chrysippus (called by Aulus Gellius 'the chief Stoic philosopher') had a rather grandly rhetorical prose style.
The Lazy Argument responds to fate with 'why bother?', but the bothering is also fated [Chrysippus, by Cicero]
     Full Idea: Chrysippus responded to the Lazy Argument (that the outcome of an illness is fated, so there is no point in calling the doctor) by saying 'calling the doctor is fated just as much as recovering', which he calls 'co-fated'.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - On Fate 28-30
     A reaction: From a pragmatic point of view, this idea also nullifies fatalism, since you can plausibly fight against your fate to your last breath. No evidence could ever be offered in support of fatalism, not even the most unlikely events.
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 4. Occasionalism
Without God's influence every operation would stop, so God causes everything [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: If God's divine influence stopped, every operation would stop. Every operation, therefore, of everything is traced back to him as cause.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Summa Contra Gentiles [1268], III.67), quoted by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion 3 'Freedom'
     A reaction: If the systematic interraction of mind and body counts as an 'operation', then this seems to imply Occasionalism.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 1. Physical Mind
Democritus says the soul is the body, and thinking is thus the mixture of the body [Democritus, by Theophrastus]
     Full Idea: Democritus explains thinking by the mixture of the body, which is surely in accordance with his reasoning, since he makes the soul the body.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A135) by Theophrastus - On the Senses 58
     A reaction: I agree with Democritus.
The soul suffers when the body hurts, creates redness from shame, and pallor from fear [Cleanthes]
     Full Idea: Nothing incorporeal shares an experience with a body …but the soul suffers with the body when it is ill and when it is cut, and the body suffers with the soul - when the soul is ashamed the body turns red, and pale when the soul is frightened.
     From: Cleanthes (works [c.270 BCE]), quoted by Nemesius - De Natura Hominis 2
     A reaction: Aha - my favourite example of the corporeal nature of the mind - blushing! It is the conscious content of the thought which brings blood to the cheeks.
Traditional ideas of the mind were weakened in the 1950s by mind-influencing drugs [Watson]
     Full Idea: One development in particular in the 1950s helped to discredit the traditional concept of the mind. This was medical drugs that influenced the workings of the brain.
     From: Peter Watson (Convergence [2016], 16 'Intro')
     A reaction: This explains Ryle's 1949 book, and the Australian physicalists emerging in the late 1950s. Philosophers don't grasp how their subject is responsive to other areas of human knowledge. Of course, opium had always done this.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 5. Causal Argument
A body is required for anything to have causal relations [Zeno of Citium, by Cicero]
     Full Idea: Zeno held (contrary to Xenocrates and others) that it was impossible for anything to be effected that lacked a body, and indeed that whatever effected something or was affected by something must be body.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - Academica I.39
     A reaction: This seems to make stoics thoroughgoing physicalists, although they consider the mind to be made of refined fire, rather than of flesh.
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 1. Concepts / a. Nature of concepts
Concepts are intellectual phantasms [Stoic school, by ]
     Full Idea: A concept is a phantasm of the intellect of a rational animal.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by - 900c
     A reaction: No doubt they assume that the brutes are devoid of all concepts, but that makes it hard to explain their behaviour.
Every concept depends on the counter-concepts of what it is not [Hegel, by Bowie]
     Full Idea: Hegel relies on the claim that every concept depends for its determinacy upon its relation to other concepts which it is not (so that even the concept of being depends, for example, upon the concept of nothing).
     From: report of Georg W.F.Hegel (Science of Logic [1816]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 4 'Questions'
     A reaction: How does he know this? A question I keep asking about continental philosophers. The negation concepts must be entirely non-conscious. Which negation concepts are relevant to the concept 'tree'?
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 6. Meaning as Use
Study the use of words, not their origins [Herder]
     Full Idea: Not how an expression can be etymologically derived and determined analytically, but how it is used is the question. Origin and use are often very different.
     From: Johann Gottfried Herder (works [1784], p.153), quoted by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 2 'Herder'
     A reaction: This doesn't quite say that meaning is use, and is basically an attack on the Etymological Fallacy (that origin gives meaning), but it is a strikingly modern view of language.
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 3. Predicates
Predicates are incomplete 'lekta' [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Stoics place predicates among the incomplete 'lekta'.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.63
     A reaction: This seems to be the modern Fregean logician's concept of a predicate.
19. Language / D. Propositions / 1. Propositions
A proposition is what can be asserted or denied on its own [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: A proposition is what can be asserted or denied on its own, for example, 'It is day' or 'Dion is walking'.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.65
     A reaction: Note the phrase 'on its own'. If you say 'it is day and Dion is walking', that can't be denied on its own, because first the two halves must each be evaluated, so presumably that doesn't count as a stoic proposition.
19. Language / E. Analyticity / 4. Analytic/Synthetic Critique
Concepts are only analytic once the predicate is absorbed into the subject [Schleiermacher]
     Full Idea: The difference between analytic and synthetic judgements is an unimportant fluid one. 'Ice melts' is analytic if it is already taken up into the concept of ice, and synthetic if not yet taken up. It is just a different state of the formation of concepts.
     From: Friedrich Schleiermacher (Dialektik [1833], p.563), quoted by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 8 'Scientific'
     A reaction: [compressed] I wonder if Quine ever encountered this quotation. The idea refers to Kant's notion of analyticity, and makes the good point that predicates only become 'contained in the subject' once the situation is very familiar.
19. Language / F. Communication / 1. Rhetoric
Rhetoric has three types, four modes, and four sections [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Stoics say rhetoric is tripartite. Part is deliberative, part forensic, part encomiastic. It is divided into invention, diction, organisation, and delivery. Rhetorical speech is divided into the introduction, exposition, counterargument and conclusion.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.42-3
     A reaction: The last bit is quite a good guide for a philosophical paper.
Eloquence educates, exhorts, comforts, distracts and unites us, and raises us from savagery [Cicero]
     Full Idea: How wonderful is the power of eloquence! It enables us to learn and to teach. We use it to exhort and persuade, to comfort the unfortunate, to distract the timid and calm the passionate. It unites us in law and society, and raises us from savagery.
     From: M. Tullius Cicero (On the Nature of the Gods [c.44 BCE], 2.147)
     A reaction: [compressed] Cicero would have been well aware of the doubts about rhetoric felt by Socrates (and possibly Plato). Cicero was probably the greatest Roman orator.
Rhetoric is built into language, so it cannot be stripped from philosophy [Bowie]
     Full Idea: The attempt to rid philosophy of rhetoric falls prey precisely to that fact that what is involved in rhetoric is inherent in what is built into all natural languages by their genesis in the real historical world.
     From: Andrew Bowie (Introduction to German Philosophy [2003], 2 'Hamann')
     A reaction: Rhetoric can range from charming to bullying, and it is the latter which is the problem. The underlying issue is dogma versus dialectic. Some analytic philosophers have a good shot at being non-rhetorical.
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 1. Intention to Act / c. Reducing intentions
Action needs an affinity for a presentation, and an impulse toward the affinity [Plutarch]
     Full Idea: The sceptics say there are three movements of the soul: presentation, impulse and assent. …And action requires two things: a presentation of something to which one has an affinity, and an impulse toward what is presented as an object of affinity.
     From: Plutarch (74: Reply to Colotes [c.85], 1122c)
     A reaction: Not much reasoning involved in this account, which the sceptics say is compatible with suspension of judgement.
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / d. Weakness of will
Passions are judgements; greed thinks money is honorable, and likewise drinking and lust [Chrysippus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Chrysippus says (in his On Passions) that the passions are judgements; for greed is a supposition that money is honorable, and similarly for drunkennes and wantonness and others.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.111
     A reaction: This is an endorsement of Socrates's intellectualist reading of weakness of will, as against Aristotle's assigning it to overpowering passions.
21. Aesthetics / B. Nature of Art / 8. The Arts / b. Poetry
Tragedies are versified sufferings of people impressed by externals [Epictetus]
     Full Idea: Tragedies are nothing but the sufferings of people who are impressed by externals, performed in the right sort of meter.
     From: Epictetus (The Discourses [c.55], 1.4.26)
     A reaction: The externals are things like honour, position and wealth. Wonderfully dismissive!
The hermeneutic circle is between the reader's self-understanding, and the world of the text [Zimmermann,J]
     Full Idea: The 'hermeneutic circle' of understanding is not between the author and the reader, but between my understanding myself in my own world, and the world projected by the text, with its possibilities for life.
     From: Jens Zimmermann (Hermeneutics: a very short introduction [2015], 4 'How texts')
     A reaction: I'm not much of a fan of hermeneutics, but this idea seems quite important. Readings of Dickens in1860, 1930 and 2020 are very different events. For example, which parts catch the reader's interest, or jar with their sensibilities?
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / a. Nature of value
Prime values apply to the life in agreement; useful values apply to the natural life [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Stoics say one sort of value is a contribution to the life in agreement, which applies to every good. Another is an intermediate potential or usefulness (such as wealth or health) contributing to the life according to nature.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.105
     A reaction: Assessing value by what it contributes to is interesting. There is also the appraiser's value.
There are no values to justify us, and no excuses [Sartre]
     Full Idea: There are no values or commands to turn to which legitimize our conduct. …We are alone with no excuses.
     From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.296), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 6 'Bad'
     A reaction: If there are no values or duties, why might you ever need excuses?
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / b. Fact and value
We do not add value to naked things; its involvement is disclosed in understanding it [Heidegger]
     Full Idea: We do not throw a 'signification' over some naked thing which is present-at-hand, we do not stick a value on it; but when something is encountered as such, the thing in question has an involvement which is disclosed in our understanding of the world.
     From: Martin Heidegger (Being and Time [1927], p.190-1), quoted by George Dickie - The Myth of the Aesthetic Attitude 3 'Undoing'
     A reaction: Analytic philosophy and science have tried to dismantle experience, and Heidegger wants to put it back together. I would say there is a big difference between encountering a thing (which is a bit facty), and understanding it (which is more valuey).
Facts don't oppose values; they are integrated into each person's aspirations [Gadamer, by Zimmermann,J]
     Full Idea: Gadamer shows that we cannot oppose facts to values, but that all facts are integrated into meaningful wholes through a personal commitment to some kind of vision of how things ought to be.
     From: report of Hans-Georg Gadamer (Truth and Method [1960]) by Jens Zimmermann - Hermeneutics: a very short introduction
     A reaction: Straw man here. Whoever said that facts were 'opposed' to values? Certainly not David Hume. Any sensible empiricist of that type would try to develop values that integrated nicely with the facts. Gadamer seems to be denying facts.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / d. Subjective value
The appraiser's value is what is set by someone experienced in the facts [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Another sense of value is the appraiser's value, which someone experienced in the facts would set, as when one says that wheat is exchanged for barley with a mule thrown in.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.105
     A reaction: No relativist nonsense here. Conventional values are set by experts, not by hoi polloi.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / f. Ultimate value
The goal is to 'live in agreement', according to one rational consistent principle [Zeno of Citium, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: Zeno says the goal of life is 'living in agreement', which means living according to a single and consonant rational principle, since those who live in conflict are unhappy.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 2.06a
     A reaction: If there is a 'single' principle, is it possible to state it? To live by consistent principles sets the bar incredibly high, as any professional philosopher can tell you.
Live in agreement, according to experience of natural events [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: The goal of life is to live in agreement, which is according to experience of the things which happen by nature.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 2.06a
     A reaction: Cleanthes added 'with nature' to Zeno's slogan, and Chyrisppus added this variation. At least it gives you some idea of what the consistent rational principle should be. You still have to assess which aspects of nature should influence us.
The goal is to live consistently with the constitution of a human being [Stoic school, by Clement]
     Full Idea: More recent stoics defined the goal as to live consistently with the constitution of a human being.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Clement - Stromates 2.21.129.6
     A reaction: This sounds more Aristotelian than the classic stoics. The obvious problem is the nasty side of human nature. At least Aristotle adds something like 'when it is functioning well, particularly in social situations'.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / c. Love
Virtuous men do not feel sexual desire, which merely focuses on physical beauty [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Sexual love is a desire which does not afflict virtuous men, for it is an effort to gain love resulting from the appearance of physical beauty.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.113
     A reaction: That is a surprising interpretation of the slogan 'live according to nature'. I would have thought it was factually incorrect, since many objects of human lust rank fairly low in the scale of beauty. Sex is a tough duty if you don't desire it.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / b. Types of good
Final goods: confidence, prudence, freedom, enjoyment and no pain, good spirits, virtue [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Stoics say that confidence and prudence and freedom and enjoyment and good spirits and freedom from pain and every virtuous action are final (as opposed to instrumental) goods.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.96
     A reaction: An interesting and unusual list. I've never seen 'confidence' or 'good spirits' mentioned. 'Freedom' is also unusual, but probably just means not being enslaved.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / d. Routes to happiness
Happiness is the end and goal, achieved by living virtuously, in agreement, and according to nature [Stoic school, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: Stoics say that being happy is the goal for the sake of which everything else is done, for the sake of nothing else; and this consists in living according to virtue, in living in agreement, and (which is the same thing) in living according to nature.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 2.06e
     A reaction: The best summary I have found of the main stoic goal. Stoics are eudaimonists. The full stoic story must explain how virtue, agreement and nature fit together into a coherent whole.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / c. Value of pleasure
There are shameful pleasures, and nothing shameful is good, so pleasure is not a good [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: Chrysippus (in his On Pleasure) denies even of pleasure that it is a good; for there are also shameful pleasures, and nothing shameful is good.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.103
     A reaction: Socrates seems to have started this line of the thought, to argue that pleasure is not The Good. Stoics are more puritanical. Nothing counts as good if it is capable of being bad. Thus good pleasures are not good, which sounds odd.
Stoics say pleasure is at most a byproduct of finding what is suitable for us [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Stoics say that pleasure is, if anything, a byproduct which supervenes when nature itself, on its own, seeks out and acquires what is suitable to the animal's constitution.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.86
     A reaction: It would be nice if pleasure were just an indicator that you are successfully living according to nature. Human refinement of alcohol and opium have rather undermined that view (but note 'on its own'). Note also the parenthetical 'if anything'.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / f. Dangers of pleasure
Rapture is a breakdown of virtue [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Rapture is a breakdown of virtue.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.114
     A reaction: I take rapture to be judged as the highest good by many romantics. Could rapture be confined and ring-fenced by virtue? Does rapture include great art?
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / a. Preconditions for ethics
Levinas took 'first philosophy' to begin with seeing the vulnerable faces of others [Levinas, by Aho]
     Full Idea: Levinas forwarded a notion of 'ethics as first philosophy' that begins from the concete exposure and openness to 'the face' of the other, an experience of vulnerability and suffering that undercuts our ordinary egoistic and objectifying tendencies.
     From: report of Emmanuel Levinas (works [1956]) by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 1 'Existentialism'
     A reaction: Iris Murdoch speaks of seeing a falcon in flight as having a similar effect of diminishing the ego. If the main focus is on potential 'suffering' does this eventually cash out as utilitarianism? I bet not!
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / g. Moral responsibility
Fate initiates general causes, but individual wills and characters dictate what we do [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: The order and reason of fate set in motion the general types and starting points of the causes, but each person's own will [or decisions] and the character of his mind govern the impulses of our thoughts and minds and our very actions.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by Aulus Gellius - Noctes Atticae 7.2.11
     A reaction: So if you try and fail it was fate, but if you try and succeed it was you?
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / b. Rational ethics
De Sade said it was impossible to rationally argue against murder [Adorno/Horkheimer]
     Full Idea: De Sade trumpeted far and wide the impossibility of deriving from reason any fundamental argument against murder.
     From: T Adorno / M Horkheimer (Dialectic of Enlightenment [1944], p.118)
     A reaction: [They focus on 'Juliette'] This is a big problem for utilitarians, because murdering an unhappy person may maximise happiness. Presumably a maniac could will universal carnage, and thus thwart Kant.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / e. Human nature
Human purpose is to contemplate and imitate the cosmos [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: The human being was born for the sake of contemplating and imitating the cosmos.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by M. Tullius Cicero - On the Nature of the Gods 2.37
     A reaction: [This seems to be an idea of Chrysippus] Remind me how to imitate the cosmos. Presumably this is living according to nature, but that becomes more obscure when express like this.
Instead of having a nature, man only has a history [Ortega y Gassett]
     Full Idea: Man lives in view of the past. Man, in a word, has no nature; what he has is history. Expressed differently: what nature is to things, history is to man.
     From: José Ortega y Gassett (Toward a Philosophy of History [1941], p.217), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 5 'Situated'
     A reaction: Makes explicit the existentialist denial of human nature. The foundation of ethics can only be total freedom, to choose both yourself and your actions. What is inescapable is the social and culture contexts. What is the role of the 'history'?
Humans have been hunter-gatherers for 99.5% of their existence [Watson]
     Full Idea: Anthropology shows that the hunter-gathering lifestyle has occupied 99.5 per cent of the time humans have been on earth.
     From: Peter Watson (Convergence [2016], 13 'Emergence')
     A reaction: If you are trying to understand humanity, you ignore this fact at your peril. Even agriculture is only a tiny part of our history, and that only disappeared as a major human activity (in many nations) in the last hundred years.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / g. Will to power
Ultimately, all being is willing. The nature of primal being is the same as the nature of willing [Schelling]
     Full Idea: In the last and highest instance there is no other being but willing. Willing is primal being, and all the predicates of primal being only fit willing: groundlessness, eternity, being independent of time, self-affirmation.
     From: Friedrich Schelling (On the Essence of Human Freedom [1809], I.7.350), quoted by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 5 'Reason'
     A reaction: Insofar as this says that 'primal being' must be active in character, I love this idea. Not the rest of the idea though! Bowie says this essay clearly influenced Schopenhauer. It looks as if Nietzsche must be read it too.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / k. Ethics from nature
Zeno said live in agreement with nature, which accords with virtue [Zeno of Citium, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Zeno first (in his book On Human Nature) said that the goal was to live in agreement with nature, which is to live according to virtue.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.87
     A reaction: The main idea seems to be Aristotelian - that the study of human nature reveals what our virtues are, and following them is what nature requires. Nature is taken to be profoundly rational.
Only nature is available to guide action and virtue [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: What am I to take as the principle of appropriate action and raw material for virtue if I give up nature and what is according to nature?
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by Plutarch - On Common Conceptions 1069e
     A reaction: 'Nature' is awfully vague as a guideline, even when we are told nature is rational. I can only make sense of it as 'human nature', which is more Aristotelian than stoic. 'Go with the flow' and 'lay the cards you are dealt' might capture it.
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 8. Contract Strategies
Punctuality and justice in dealings are excellent for raising a man in the world [Franklin]
     Full Idea: After industry and frugality, nothing contributes more to raising a young man in the world than punctuality and justice in all his dealings.
     From: Benjamin Franklin (Advice to a Young Tradesman [1748], p.87-), quoted by Max Weber - The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism 2
     A reaction: A perfect illustration of the self-interest that drives morality in the social contract view.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / b. Basis of virtue
Chrysippus says virtue can be lost (though Cleanthes says it is too secure for that) [Chrysippus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Chrysippus says that virtue can be lost, owing to drunkenness and excess of black bile, whereas Cleanthes says it cannot, because it consists in secure intellectual grasps, and it is worth choosing for its own sake.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.127
     A reaction: Succumbing to drunkenness looks like evidence that you were not truly virtuous. Mental illness is something else. On the whole I agree the Cleanthes.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue
Virtue inspires Stoics, but I want a good temperament [Montaigne]
     Full Idea: What Stoics did from virtue I teach myself to do from temperament.
     From: Michel de Montaigne (III.10 On Restraining your Will [1580], p.1153)
     A reaction: I take this to be an Aristotelian criticism of Stoicism. They venerate virtue above everything, but Aristotle says you must integrate virtue into your very being, so that right actions flow from you, with very little need for premeditation.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / e. Character
There is not much point in only becoming good near the end of your life [Montaigne]
     Full Idea: It is almost better never to become a good man at all than to do so tardily, understanding how to live when you have no life left.
     From: Michel de Montaigne (III.10 On Restraining your Will [1580], p.1142)
     A reaction: A very nice perspective, which I don't recall Aristotle mentioning. It does, though, reinforce Aristotle's belief that early training is essential.
We don't choose our characters, yet we still claim credit for the actions our characters perform [Schelling]
     Full Idea: Nobody has chosen their character; and yet this does not stop anybody attributing the action which follows from his character to themself as a free action.
     From: Friedrich Schelling (The Ages of the World [1810], I.93)
     A reaction: This pinpoints a very nice ambivalence about our attitudes to our own characters. We all have some pride and shame about who we are, without having chosed who we are. At least when we are young. But we make the bed we lie in.
In becoming what we want to be we create what we think man ought to be [Sartre]
     Full Idea: In creating the man that we want to be, there is not a single one of our acts which does not at the same time create an image of man as we think he ought to be.
     From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.293), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 7 'Anything'
     A reaction: I recall this being one of my earliest thoughts about morality - that in everything we do we are all role models for the people around us. For me, that leads to virtue theory.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / f. The Mean
Contentment comes from moderation and proportion in life [Democritus, by ]
     Full Idea: Contentment [euthumia] comes about for human beings from the moderation of enjoyment and proportion [summetria] in life.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], B191) by -
     A reaction: This is close to Aristotle's doctrine of the Mean. The majority of ethical ideas attributed to Democritus (presumably by the Epicureans) are thought to be spurious. This idea actually sounds rather stoic.
An appropriate action is one that can be defended, perhaps by its consistency. [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: An appropriate action, say the stoics, is that which, when done, admits of a reasonable defence, such as what is consistent in life, and this extends also to plants and animals.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.107
     A reaction: I love [Zeno's] word 'appropriate' here, since that strikes me as greatly clarifying the Aristotelian doctrine of the mean. In fact I love the whole of this idea. Appropriate actions can be defended. Cf T.Scanlon. Consistency is a good defence.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / e. Honour
Honour is just, courageous, orderly or knowledgeable. It is praiseworthy, or functions well [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Four forms of the honourable: just, courageous, orderly, knowledgeable. The honourable means what makes it possessor praiseworthy; or what is naturally suited for its function; or what adorns its possessor, since we say only the wise man is honourable.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.100
     A reaction: Thus we honour successful judges, soldiers, administrators and scholars. Oh, and footballers. Paul Macartney said 'show me someone famous, and I'll show you someone who is good at their job.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / h. Respect
We should respect the right of people to live in their own way, even if it is irrational [Swift]
     Full Idea: Forcing people to do what is rational involves a lack of respect, a failure to respect the value of her living her life in her own (irrational) way.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 2 'Resisting' 6)
     A reaction: Up to a point. Irrationally eccentric is one thing, and irrationally self-destructive is another. You can sit back and watch your children embrace a life less happy than the one you wanted for them - but not a life of utter misery.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / a. External goods
Crafts like music and letters are virtuous conditions, and they accord with virtue [Stoic school, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: Stoics call 'practices' the love of music, letters, horses, hunting and crafts. They are not knowledge, but virtuous conditions, and they say that only the wise man is a music lover and a lover of letters. Crafts lead to what accords with virtue.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 2.05b11
     A reaction: I like the distinction between virtue and 'virtuous conditions'. It might correspond to the eighteenth century idea of good taste, or the later idea of having a liberal education.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / c. Wealth
Money does produce happiness, but only up to a point [Harari]
     Full Idea: An interesting conclusion (from questionnaires) is that money does indeed bring happiness. But only up to a point, and beyond that point it has little significance.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 19 'Counting')
     A reaction: The question is whether that flattening-off point is relative to those around us, or absolute, according to the needs of living. Though these two may not be separate.
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 1. Deontology
It is basic that moral actions must be done from duty [Kant]
     Full Idea: The first proposition of morality is that to have moral worth an action must be done from duty.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], p.19), quoted by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion 9 'Religion'
     A reaction: [p.19 in Beck tr] In Aristotle's account these are 'controlled' actions [enkrateia], which are a step below virtuous actions, which combine reason and pleasure.
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
The idea of duty in one's calling haunts us, like a lost religion [Weber]
     Full Idea: The idea of duty in one's calling prowls about in our lives like the ghost of dead religious beliefs.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], 5)
     A reaction: Great sentence! Vast scholarship boiled down to a simple and disturbing truth. I recognise this in me. Having been 'Head of Philosophy' once is partly what motivates me to compile these ideas.
Are we only obligated by agreement, or should we always help the weak? [LaFollette]
     Full Idea: A fundamental question in morality is whether we are obligated to help only those we specifically agreed to help, or are we obligated to help others in need, because they are vulnerable?
     From: Hugh LaFollette (Introductions in 'Ethics in Practice' [2002], p.061)
     A reaction: [He is considering J.J. Thomson's defence of abortion] The first option sounds extraordinary. If I don't make any agreements at all, then I cease to be a moral being? Not help strangers when they fall over?
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 3. Universalisability
When my personal freedom becomes involved, I must want freedom for everyone else [Sartre]
     Full Idea: Freedom as the definition of man does not depend on others, but as soon as there is involvement, I am obliged to want others to have freedom at the same time that I want my own freedom.
     From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.306), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 7 'Anything'
     A reaction: Appears to be a highly Kantian sense of rational duty, and a rather odd constraint on someone whose only value is freedom. Sartre is aware that he needs an existential politics, but he's not there yet. 'Involvement' is an interesting addition to Kant.
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 1. Utilitarianism
If maximising pleasure needs measurement, so does fulfilling desires [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Just as hedonists need a way to compare pleasures, so desire fulfilment theorists need a way to compare the fulfilment of desires.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 1 'Is happiness')
     A reaction: A nice point. We picture desire fulfilment as just ticking it off when it is achieved, but if your desire is for a really nice house, the achievement of that can be pretty vague.
Desire satisfaction as the ideal is confused, because we desire what we judge to be good [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Critics of desire satisfaction theory argue that it gets things backward. We desire things because we already think they are good in some way. Desire theory puts it the other way round.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 1 'Is happiness')
     A reaction: Not persuasive. It looks to me as if skiing is a spendid pastime, but I have no desire to do it. More exercise would even be a good for me, but I don't desire that either. Indeed, right now I desire more cake, which is very naughty.
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 2. Ideal of Pleasure
If an experience machine gives you any experience you want, should you hook up for life? [Nozick]
     Full Idea: Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired ...such as writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. ...Should you plug into this machine for life?
     From: Robert Nozick (Anarchy,State, and Utopia [1974], 3 'Experience')
     A reaction: A classic though experiment which crystalises a major problem with hedonistic utilitarianism. My addition is a machine which maximises the pleasure of my family and friends, to save me the bother of doing it.
Modern utilitarians value knowledge, friendship, autonomy, and achievement, as well as pleasure [Hooker,B]
     Full Idea: Most utilitarians now think that pleasure, even if construed widely, is not the only thing desirable in itself. ...Goods also include important knowledge, friendship, autonomy, achievement and so on.
     From: Brad W. Hooker (Rule Utilitarianism and Euthanasia [1997], 2)
     A reaction: That pleasure is desired is empirically verifiable, which certainly motivated Bentham. A string of other desirables each needs to be justified - but how? What would be the value of a 'friendship' if neither party got pleasure from it?
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 5. Rule Utilitarianism
Rule-utilitarians prevent things like torture, even on rare occasions when it seems best [Hooker,B]
     Full Idea: For rule-utilitarians acts of murder, torture and so on, can be impermissible even in rare cases where they really would produce better consequences than any alternative act.
     From: Brad W. Hooker (Rule Utilitarianism and Euthanasia [1997], 4)
     A reaction: It is basic to rule-utilitarianism that it trumps act-ulitilarianism, even when a particular act wins the utilitarian calculation. But that is hard to understand. Only long-term benefit could justify the rule - but that should win the calculation.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 1. Existentialism
Man is a brave naked will, separate from a background of values and realities [Murdoch]
     Full Idea: Existentialists no longer see man against a background of values, of realities, which transcend him. We picture man as a brave naked will.
     From: Iris Murdoch (Against Dryness: a polemical sketch [1983], p.46), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 7 'Subjectivism'
     A reaction: It is one thing to deny the values, and another to deny the realities. This piece is a 'polemic', and reads more like an exhortation than a truth. Many of us are, at best, cowardly naked wills.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 3. Angst
If man considers himself as lost and imprisoned in the universe, he will be terrified [Pascal]
     Full Idea: Let man consider what he is in comparison with what exists; let him regard himself as lost, and from this little dungeon the universe, let him learn to take the earth and himself at their proper value. Anyone considering this will be terrified at himself.
     From: Blaise Pascal (Pensées [1662], p.199), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction Pref 'What?
     A reaction: [p.199 of Penguin edn] Cited by Aho as a forerunner of existentialism. Montaigne probably influenced Pascal. Interesting that this is to be a self-inflicted existential crisis (for some purpose, probably Christian).
Anxiety is staring into the yawning abyss of freedom [Kierkegaard]
     Full Idea: One may liken anxiety to dizziness. He whose eyes chance to look down into a yawning abyss becomes dizzy. Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom which when freedom gazes down into its own possibility, grasping at finiteness to sustain itself.
     From: Søren Kierkegaard (The Concept of Dread (/Anxiety) [1844], p.55), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 6 'Moods'
     A reaction: Most of us rapidly retreat from the thought of the infinity of things we might choose. Choosing bizarrely merely to assert one's freedom is simple stupidity.
Fear concerns the world, but 'anguish' comes from confronting my self [Sartre]
     Full Idea: Anguish is distinguished from fear in that fear is fear of being in the world whereas anguish is anguish before myself.
     From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Being and Nothingness [1943], p.65), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 5 'Radical'
     A reaction: I'm guessing that the anguish comes from the horror of the infinite choices available to me. Once you've made major life choices with full commitment (such as marriage), does that mean that existentialism becomes irrelevant?
If existence is absurd it can never have a meaning [Beauvoir]
     Full Idea: To declare that existence is absurd is to deny that it can ever be given a meaning; to say that it is ambiguous is to assert that its meaning is never fixed.
     From: Simone de Beauvoir (Ethics of Ambiguity [1948], p.129), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 6 'Bad'
     A reaction: Absurdity precludes meaning, but being meaningless doesn't entail absurdity. Asteroids are meaningless. Presumably if existence is meaningless now (as in a depression), but it might possibly become meaningful, then it can't qualify as 'absurd'.
Anxiety, nausea, guilt and absurdity shake us up, revealing our freedom and limits [Aho]
     Full Idea: Some moods, such as 'anxiety' (Heidegger), 'nausea' (Sartre), 'guilt' (Kierkegaard), and 'absurdity' (Camus) are important because they have the capacity to shake us out of complacency and self-deception, disclosing our freedom and finitude.
     From: Kevin Aho (Existentialism: an introduction [2014], Pref 'What?)
     A reaction: [bit compressed] Problem: if I fail to feel such things, and deliberately induce them in myself, am I being inauthentic? Making a huge and unnatural effort to be an existentialist seems all wrong. And who wants the permanent grip of such feelings?
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 4. Boredom
Culture is now dominated by boredom, so universal it is unnoticed [Heidegger, by Aho]
     Full Idea: Heidegger came to say that the cultural mood had changed from 'anxiety' to 'boredom'. The danger is that our boredom has become so ubiquitous and all-encompassing that it is now hidden.
     From: report of Martin Heidegger (Contributions to Philosophy [1938]) by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 9 'Conc'
     A reaction: I'm not sure what the danger of boredom is if it is 'hidden'. It rather depends what else is hidden with it.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 5. Existence-Essence
Our 'existence' is how we create ourselves, unconstrained by any prior 'essence' [Aho]
     Full Idea: 'Existence precedes essence' means there is no pre-given 'essence' that determines who and what we are. We are self-making beings.
     From: Kevin Aho (Existentialism: an introduction [2014], Pref 'What?)
     A reaction: This not a yes/no dilemma. Personally I believe (with Aristotle, and Steven Pinker) that there is a fairly comprehensive 'human nature' which we all share, and is the basis of ethics. On top of that, though, a fair bit of 'self-making' can go on.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 6. Authentic Self
Feelings are prior to intelligence; we should be content to live with our simplest feelings [Rousseau]
     Full Idea: To exist is to feel, our feeling is undoubtedly earlier than our intelligence, and we had feelings before we had ideas. …Let us be simpler and less pretentious; let us be content with the first feelings we experience in ourselves.
     From: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Emile: treatise on education [1762], p.210), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 6 'Moods'
     A reaction: Beginning of the sentimental movement, and precursor to romanticism, but here seen as the basis for the existentialist concept of authenticity. Wallowing in emotions doesn't appeal to me, but you have to make space for them. Rousseau loved walking.
Sincerity is not authenticity, because it only commits to one particular identity [Sartre, by Aho]
     Full Idea: Being sincere [in Sartre] has nothing to do with authenticity because, in committing ourselves to a particular identity, we strip away the possibility of transcendence by reducing ourselves to a thing.
     From: report of Jean-Paul Sartre (Being and Nothingness [1943]) by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 6 'Bad'
     A reaction: I take this to mean that sincerity says genuinely what role you are playing (such as a waiter), but authenticity is recognition that you don't have to play that role. I think.
It is dishonest to offer passions as an excuse [Sartre]
     Full Idea: Every man who takes refuge behind the excuse of his passions is a dishonest man.
     From: Jean-Paul Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism [1945], p.305), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 5 'Core'
     A reaction: To say 'my passion was so strong that I was too weak to resist it' doesn't sound prima facie dishonest. Sartre's idea is more of an exhortation than a fact, and sounds rather old fashioned and puritan. Do my reasons constitutes excuses?
The self is constituted by its choices made within a social context [Aho]
     Full Idea: The [existential] self is constituted by the continuous, open-ended process of choosing and pulling together the social interpretations that we care about and that are made available by the situation we grow into.
     From: Kevin Aho (Existentialism: an introduction [2014], 4 'Self')
     A reaction: These kind of explanations always seem wrong. That the self is influenced and moulded strongly by the choices it makes sounds right. But that the choices 'constitute' the chooser sounds like a bit of a muddle.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 7. Existential Action
What matters is not right choice, but energy, earnestness and pathos in the choosing [Kierkegaard]
     Full Idea: In making a choice, it is not so much a question of choosing the right way as of the energy, the earnestness, and the pathos with which one chooses.
     From: Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: a fragment of life [1843], p.106), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 2 'Phenomenology'
     A reaction: I'm struggling to identify with the experience he is describing. I can't imagine a more quintessentially existentialist remark than this. Reference to 'energy' in choosing strikes me as very romantic. Is 'the way not taken' crucial (in 'pathos')?
24. Applied Ethics / A. Decision Conflicts / 1. Applied Ethics
Errors in moral practice might be inconsistent or inappropriate principles, or inappropriate application [LaFollette]
     Full Idea: I might make parallel 'mistakes' in ethical deliberation. For instance I might 1) use inconsistent ethical principles, 2) have inappropriate moral standards, and 3) apply moral standards inappropriately.
     From: Hugh LaFollette (Introductions in 'Ethics in Practice' [2002], p.005)
     A reaction: I would want to get the word 'values' in there somewhere. Dogmatic application of moral rules might indicate a failure of values.
We can discuss the criteria of a judgment, or the weight given to them, or their application [LaFollette]
     Full Idea: In discussing a movie you can challenge my criteria, the weight I give to those criteria, or my application of the criteria (the claim that the movie satisfies the criteria).
     From: Hugh LaFollette (Introductions in 'Ethics in Practice' [2002], p.008)
     A reaction: I can't think of anything missing here, so it is a helpful start.
24. Applied Ethics / A. Decision Conflicts / 5. Omissions
The highest degree of morality performs all that is appropriate, omitting nothing [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: He who makes moral progress to the highest degree performs all the appropriate actions in all circumstances, and omits none.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by Sophocles - Sophocles' Electra 4.39.22
     A reaction: Hence concerns about omission as well as commission in the practice of ethics can be seen in the light of character and virtue. The world is fully of nice people who act well, but don't do so well on omissions. Car drivers, for example.
The act/omission distinction is important for duties, but less so for consequences [LaFollette]
     Full Idea: Consequentialists, unlike deontologists, are unlikely to think that the act/omission distinction is fundamentally important.
     From: Hugh LaFollette (Introductions in 'Ethics in Practice' [2002], p.021)
     A reaction: Not sure where virtue theory fits in here. Virtues tend to be applied more locally, where duty tends to be global. All moral theories must acknowledge that failure to act may be either a good or a bad thing, depending on circumstances
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 1. Moral rights
Too many options may open us to unwanted pressures, like being paid very little [LaFollette]
     Full Idea: Having options is not an unadulterated good. Options may make us vulnerable to unwanted pressure from others. For example, having the option to work for less than the minimum wage increases the chances of employers offering less.
     From: Hugh LaFollette (Introductions in 'Ethics in Practice' [2002], p.019)
     A reaction: [J.D. Velleman is cited for this] A nice point, beginning to articulate my growing feeling that although freedom is generally a virtue, it is the most overrated virtue.
Should people be forced to make choices? [LaFollette]
     Full Idea: Should we give people choices they might not want to have?
     From: Hugh LaFollette (Introductions in 'Ethics in Practice' [2002], p.020)
     A reaction: In personal life we encounter people who force us to make an unwanted choice (choose the wine, when you know nothing about wine). Politically, there is the sneaky move of giving unwanted choices, to disguise absence of desired choices.
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 2. Sexual Morality
Why do sexual relationships need permanence, if other relationships don't? [Punzo]
     Full Idea: What is the reason for demanding permanence in the relationship of sexual partners when we do not see such permanence as being importance to other human relationships?
     From: Vincent C. Punzo (Morality and Human Sexuality [1969], p.220)
     A reaction: The distinction may not be that simple. 'Loyalty' must certainly be mentioned. Friends can legitimately drift apart, but to desert a close friend at a time of great need might be as great a crime as adultery. When is loyalty particularly needed?
Does engaging in sexual intercourse really need no more thought than playing tennis? [Punzo]
     Full Idea: It seems strange for a man and a woman to give no more thought to the question of whether they should engage in sexual intercourse than to the question of whether they shoud play tennis.
     From: Vincent C. Punzo (Morality and Human Sexuality [1969], p.221)
     A reaction: This strikes me as a reasonable point, but times have moved on since 1969, and for plenty of people nowadays playing tennis is a bigger issue than having sex, because of the time, equipment and effort involved.
A rape disregards the status of being a person - but so does all assault [Foa]
     Full Idea: In a rape a person is used without proper regard for her personhood - but this is true of every kind of assault.
     From: Pamela Foa (What's Wrong with Rape? [1977], 1)
     A reaction: This is a good step towards her attempt to pin down what is specifically wrong with rape, which strikes me as an extremely important question, and not merely in order to justify punishments.
Rape of children is dreadful, but no one thinks children should have a right of consent [Foa]
     Full Idea: Rape of children is at least as heinous as rape of adults, though few believe that children have or ought to have the same large domain of consent adults (male and female) ought to have.
     From: Pamela Foa (What's Wrong with Rape? [1977], 1)
     A reaction: A powerful point. She is not quite spelling out the crux, which is that no one thinks children should have a right to consent to sexual intercourse, which means that consent is irrelevant in such a case of rape. So it can't be the key to adult rape?
If men should lust and women shouldn't, that makes rape the prevalent sexual model [Foa]
     Full Idea: We are taught that sexual desires are desires women ought not to have and men must have. This is the model which makes necessary an eternal battle of the sexes. It explains why rape is the prevalent model of sexuality.
     From: Pamela Foa (What's Wrong with Rape? [1977], 3)
     A reaction: A striking thought. See 'The Origins of Sex' by F.Dabhoiwala, which claims that women used to be seen as the sexual predators, and the balance shifted in the 18thC. Are women obliged to exhibit lust, in order to defuse rapacious desires?
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 3. Animal Rights
Justice is irrelevant to animals, because they are too unlike us [Chrysippus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: There is no justice between us and other animals because of the dissimilarity between us and them.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.129
     A reaction: [from lost On Justice Bk 1] What would he make of modern revelations about bonobos and chimpanzees? If there is great dissimilarity between some peoples, does that invalidate justice between them? He also said animals exist for our use.
24. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 3. Abortion
Is abortion the ending of a life, or a decision not to start one? [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: One group may consider abortion as a decision to end a life, while another may regard it as the decision not to start one.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 8 'Hard I')
     A reaction: An early foetus is 'life', but is it 'a life'? Is a blade of grass 'a life'? Is a cell in a body 'a life'?
24. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 4. Suicide
Suicide is reasonable, for one's country or friends, or because of very bad health [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: The wise man will commit suicide, for a good reason, both on behalf of his fatherland and on behalf of his friends, and if he should be in very severe pain or is mutilated or has an incurable disease.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.130
     A reaction: Being in a state of despair or depression doesn't seem to figure on the list. Suicide for friends, but not for family?
24. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 5. Euthanasia
Euthanasia may not involve killing, so it is 'killing or not saving, out of concern for that person' [Hooker,B]
     Full Idea: Passive euthanasia is arguably not killing, and the death involved is often painful, so let us take the term 'euthanasia' to mean 'either killing or passing up opportunities to save someone, out of concern for that person'.
     From: Brad W. Hooker (Rule Utilitarianism and Euthanasia [1997], 1)
     A reaction: This sounds good, and easily settled, until you think concern for that person could have two different outcomes, depending on whether the criteria are those of the decider or of the patient. Think of religious decider and atheist patient, or vice versa.
Euthanasia is active or passive, and voluntary, non-voluntary or involuntary [Hooker,B]
     Full Idea: Six types of euthanasia: 1) Active voluntary (knowing my wishes), 2) Active non-voluntary (not knowing my wishes), 3) Active involuntary (against my wishes), 4) Passive voluntary, 5) Passive non-voluntary, 6) Passive involuntary.
     From: Brad W. Hooker (Rule Utilitarianism and Euthanasia [1997], 5)
     A reaction: 'Active' is intervening, and 'passive' is not intervening. A helpful framework.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / a. Human distinctiveness
Maybe humans are distinguished from other animals by feelings, rather than reason [Unamuno]
     Full Idea: Man is said to be a reasoning animal. I do not know why he has not been defined as an affective or feeling animal. Perhaps that which differentiates him from other animals is feeling rather than reason.
     From: Miguel de Unamuno (The Tragic Sense of Life [1912], p.3), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 2 'Problem'
     A reaction: Perfectly plausible, given that we presume that our feelings are startlingly different from other animals - even if we feel far more community with other mammals than we did in Unamuno's day.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / b. The natural life
Rational animals begin uncorrupted, but externals and companions are bad influences [Chrysippus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: The rational animal is corrupted, sometimes because of the persuasiveness of external activities and sometimes because of the influence of companions. For the starting points provided by nature are uncorrupted.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.89
     A reaction: If companions corrupt us, what corrupted the companions? Aren't we all in this together? And where do the 'external activities' originate?
Human beings can never really flourish in a long-term state of nature [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: We must agree with Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau that nothing genuinely worthy of being called a state of nature will, at least in the long term, be a condition in which human beings can flourish.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 1 'Conc')
     A reaction: Given our highly encultured concept of modern flourishing, that is obviously right. There may be another reality where hom sap flourishes in a quite different and much simpler way. Education as personal, not institutional?
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / c. A unified people
The biology of societies: kin selection, parenting, mating; status, territory, contracts [Wilson,EO]
     Full Idea: Societies are ordered around six sociobiological principles: kin selection; parental investment; mating strategy; status; territorial expansion and defence; contractual agreement.
     From: Edmund O. Wilson (Consilience [1998], 19 'Intro'), quoted by Peter Watson - Convergence
     A reaction: I'm not sure I trust such a precise list. Personally I'm in society because I'm too frightend to drop out. So where is 'defence'? Still, I like attempts at assembling such a list. Politics needs grounding.
Collective rationality is individuals doing their best, assuming others all do the same [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: We need to distinguish between individual and collective rationality. Collective rationality is what is best for each individual, on the assumption that everyone else will act the same way.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 1 'Hobbes')
     A reaction: Wolff is surmising what lies behind Hobbes's Laws of Nature (which concern collective rationality). The Prisoner's Dilemma is the dramatisation of this distinction. I would making the teaching of the distinction compulsory in schools.
Rousseau assumes that laws need a people united by custom and tradition [Wolff,J, by Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Rousseau assumes that there should already be bonds of custom and tradition uniting a people before it is fit to receive laws.
     From: report of Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Rousseau') by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev)
     A reaction: In unusual circumstances, such as the arrival of a large population at a new colony, it might be that the laws would create the missing customs and traditions.
Should love be the first virtue of a society, as it is of the family? [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Love, or at least affection, not justice, is the first virtue of the family. Should mutual affection also be the first virtue of social and political institutions?
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 6 'Transcending')
     A reaction: Surely this ideal should be at the heart of any society, no matter how far away from the ideal it is pushed by events and failures of character? I take 'respect' to be the form of love we feel for strangers.
World government needs a shared global identity [Oksala]
     Full Idea: Critics have argued that a global 'demos' would require a shared global identity.
     From: Johanna Oksala (Political Philosophy: all that matters [2013], Ch.9 'Epi')
     A reaction: The great divisions are religion and language. The great unifiers are sport, arts and entertainment, plus basic human needs like food, health and housing. The reply is that there cannot be identity without differences, so global democracy is out.
If a group is bound by gossip, the natural size is 150 people [Harari]
     Full Idea: Sociological research has shown that the maximum 'natural' size of a group bound by gossip is about 150 individuals.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 02 'Legend')
     A reaction: On the other hand, most of us can learn the names of a group of about 450. Maybe the 'known' group and the 'gossip' group are equally significant. Not much use for a modern state, but of interest to communitarians.
Anti-colonial movements usually invoke the right of their 'people' to self-determination [Swift]
     Full Idea: Nationalist movements seeking to throw off the yoke of colonial rule are often motivated by a sense that their 'people' have the right to self-determination.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 5 'Intrinsic 1')
     A reaction: In 2017, Basques, Catalans and Kurds come to mind. The whole of Africa was an example of this c.1950-80, but there was uncertainty about states, tribes and language groups.
In a democracy, which 'people' are included in the decision process? [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: In any democratic state, who are 'the people' who get to rule themselves? That is, who gets to participate in the public decision process, and who is excluded?
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'What is')
     A reaction: In the modern world this may be clear-cut when a democracy gets started, but people move around so much more that every democracy is faced with new types of residents. Then there is age, criminality, mental health...
People often have greater attachment to ethnic or tribal groups than to the state [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Some states have a number of different ethnic or tribal groups. Often these attachments are much stronger than the attachment people feel towards the state.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 6 'Membership')
     A reaction: In Britain I fine people torn between attachments to the UK and to England or Wales or Scotland or NI. Attachments to football clubs are much stronger than most patriotism. Or attachment to a particular locality. Does it matter?
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 2. Natural Freedom
If men are born free, are women born slaves? [Astell]
     Full Idea: If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves?
     From: Mary Astell (A Serious Proposal to the Ladies I [1694]), quoted by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.9
     A reaction: What a magnificent question for such an early date. She is said to have been the 'first British feminist'. It is not just a feminist point, but a strong objection to the idea that anyone is 'born free'. Because there is no way to tell if it is true.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 3. Natural Equality
Men are created equal, and with certain inalienable rights [Jefferson]
     Full Idea: We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
     From: Thomas Jefferson (U.S. Declaration of Independence [1775]), quoted by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.4
     A reaction: In the context, saying equality and rights are 'natural' is just a way of saying we will fight to the death to defend them. The big modern problem for the U.S. is that nominal equality before the law doesn't ensure equality in society.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 5. Original Position / a. Original position
The original position models the idea that citizens start as free and equal [Rawls, by Swift]
     Full Idea: The original position is presented by Rawls as modelling the sense in which citizens are to be understood as free and equal.
     From: report of John Rawls (A Theory of Justice [1972]) by Adam Swift - Political Philosophy (3rd ed) 3 'Strikes'
     A reaction: In other words, Rawls's philosophy is not a demonstration of why we should be liberals, but a guidebook for how liberals should go about organising society.
Choosers in the 'original position' have been stripped of most human characteristics [Sandel, by Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Sandel argues that people in the 'original position' have been stripped of everything that makes them recognisably human: their conceptions of the good, their nationality, family membership, religion, friendships and past histories.
     From: report of Michael J. Sandel (Liberalism and the Limits of Justice [1982]) by Tuckness,A/Wolf,C - This is Political Philosophy 4 'Communitarian'
     A reaction: This draws attention to what a pure Enlightenment rational project Rawls is pursuing, in the spirit if Kant's ethics. Choosers in the original position become identical, and thus choose a homogeneous society.
Isn't it more rational to maximise the average position, but with a safety net? [Swift]
     Full Idea: Wouldn't it be more rational to choose principles that would maximize the average position, perhaps subject to some 'floor' level beneath which they would not want to take the risk of sinking?
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 1 'Rawls')
     A reaction: The criticism is that Rawls's prediction is over-cautious, and that people will take mild risks in what they choose, as long as there is no danger of disaster. (Just as you should allow small children to risk injury, but not death).
For global justice, adopt rules without knowing which country you will inhabit [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Imagine a new original position where we adopted rules for global justice without knowing which country we would inhabit.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 4 'Cosmopolitan')
     A reaction: Nice question. North Korea!! Rawls says it is only within a nation, because there is a co-operative enterprise going on. That is, I presume, that the choosers involved are a 'people'. See Kant's 'Perpetual Peace' for an alternative.
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 5. Original Position / b. Veil of ignorance
You can't distribute goods from behind a veil, because their social meaning is unclear [Walzer, by Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Walzer says behind the veil of ignorance there would be no way to know how a particular good should be distributed, because we would not know the social meaning of the good in question.
     From: report of Michael Walzer (Spheres of Justice [1983]) by Tuckness,A/Wolf,C - This is Political Philosophy 4 'Communitarian'
     A reaction: Is Rawls actually proposing to decide details of distribution from behind the veil? There is just the maximin principle. What that means in practice would surely come once the society was under way.
The principles Rawls arrives at do not just conform to benevolence, but also result from choices [Oksala]
     Full Idea: The advantage of Rawls's method is that the principles the individual chooses are not only fair according to some abstract principle of benevolence, but also the result of rational choice.
     From: Johanna Oksala (Political Philosophy: all that matters [2013], Ch.5)
     A reaction: That is a very nice way of putting the beauty of Rawls's idea. In modern political philosophy you hear far more criticisms of Rawls than praise. If a philosopher is criticised a lot, it is probably because they have stated their views clearly.
The veil of ignorance ensures both fairness and unanimity [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: The veil of ignorance ensures that the original position is fair, but it also guarantees that agreement will be unanimous (which would be impossible if each person insisted that justice should match her own conception).
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 4 'Original')
     A reaction: Not clear about this. If I choose very cautiously, but others choose very riskily, and they win, why I should I fall in with their unanimity? That can only be if we agree to be unanimous in backing the result. Like a democratic election?
25. Society / B. The State / 1. Purpose of a State
The state should produce higher civilisations for all, in tune with the economic apparatus [Gramsci]
     Full Idea: The role of the State is always that of creating new and higher types of civilisation; of adapting the 'civilisation' and the morality of the broades popular masses to the necessities of the continuous development of the economic apparatus of production.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Collective')
     A reaction: This makes education virtually the prime role of the state. Reminiscent of Sir John Reith's original dream, in the 1930s, for the BBC. Many marxists feel that the economy is in direct conflict with morality and civilisation.
States have a monopoly of legitimate violence [Sartre, by Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Max Weber observed that states possess a monopoly of legitimate violence.
     From: report of Jean-Paul Sartre (Sketch for Theory of Emotions [1939]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 2 'State'
     A reaction: This sounds rather hair-raising, and often is, but it sounds quite good if we describe it as a denial of legitimate violence to individual citizens. Hobbes would like it, since individual violence breaches some sort of natural contract. Guns in USA.
The Nazi aim was to encourage progressive evolution, and avoid degeneration [Harari]
     Full Idea: The main ambition of the Nazis was to protect humankind from degeneration and encourage its progressive evolution. …Given the state of scientific knowledge in 1933, Nazi beliefs were hardly outside the pale.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 12 'Worship')
     A reaction: It still sounds a fairly worthy ambition, close to the heart of educationalists everywhere. The problems start with the definition of 'degeneration' and 'progress'.
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / a. Sovereignty
Hobbes says the people voluntarily give up their sovereignty, in a contract with a ruler [Hobbes, by Oksala]
     Full Idea: While Hobbes had held that the people were the final source of political authority, he had argued that in entering the social contract they gave up their sovereignty by transferring all power to an absolute ruler.
     From: report of Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan [1651]) by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.5
     A reaction: Later the idea of 'inalienable' rights crept in. If you volunteer for exploitation or slavery, that still doesn't justify them. Sadism is presumably not justified by masochism.
Rousseau insists the popular sovereignty needs a means of expressing consent [Rousseau, by Oksala]
     Full Idea: Rousseau's idea of popular sovereignty is a much more radical idea of self-government, because he insists that the consent of the people has to have a real means of expression.
     From: report of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762]) by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.5
     A reaction: Presumably Hobbes's 'contract' is forgotten in the mists of time, and ceases to be of any interest to a ruler (such as Charles I, who thought God must have appointed him). Perhaps Britain needs an annual ceremony reaffirming the monarch.
Unjust institutions may be seen as just; are they legitimate if just but seen as unjust? [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Legitimacy and perceived legimitimacy do not always go together: people can believe that their institutions are just, but they may be wrong. Is the reverse also possible? Can institutions be legitimate if people believe they are not?
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'What are')
     A reaction: Nice thoughts. An institution cannot be just merely because it is seen that way (if someone gets away with rigging an election). If they are just but seen as unjust, I presume they are legitimate (which is objective), but disfunctional.
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. Social contract
We no more give 'tacit assent' to the state than a passenger carried on board a ship while asleep [Hume]
     Full Idea: [If we give 'tacit' assent to the state] ...we may as well assert that a man, by remaining in a vessel, freely consents to the dominion of the master, though he was carried aboard while asleep.
     From: David Hume (Of the original contract [1741], p.475), quoted by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 2 'Tacit'
     A reaction: We should probably drop the whole idea that we give assent to the state. We are stuck with a state, and a few of us can escape, if it seems important enough, but most of us have no choice. He hope to assent to the controllers of the state.
Kant made the social contract international and cosmopolitan [Kant, by Oksala]
     Full Idea: Kant developed the social contract theory into an international and cosmopolitan idea.
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795]) by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.6
     A reaction: That is, the contract both operates between states, and rises above them. I found this idea rather thrilling when I first met it (listening Onora O'Neill). But then I remain a child of the Englightenment.
For utilitarians, consent to the state is irrelevant, if it produces more happiness [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: On the utilitarian account the state is justified if and only if it produces more happiness than any alternative. Whether we consent to the state is irrelevant.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 2 'Intro')
     A reaction: The paternalistic character of utilitarianism is a familiar problem. I quite like this approach, even though liberals will find it a bit naughty. We make children go to school, for their own good. Experts endorse society, even when citizens don't.
Social contract theory has the attracton of including everyone, and being voluntary [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Social contract theory ...satisfies the twin demands of universalism - every person must be obligated - and voluntarism - political obligations can come into existence only through consent.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 2 'Voluntaristic')
     A reaction: I'm going off the idea that being a member of large society is voluntary. It can't possibly be so for most people, and it shouldn't be. I'm British, and society expects me to remain so (though they might release me, if convenient).
Maybe voting in elections is a grant of legitimacy to the winners [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: One thought is that consent to government is communicated via the ballot-box. In voting for the government we give it our consent.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 2 'Voluntaristic')
     A reaction: Hm. This may be a strong positive reason why some people refuse to vote. We shouldn't load voting with such heavy commitments. It's just 'given the current situation, who will be temporarily in charge'.
Social contracts and markets have made society seem disconnected and artificial [Aho]
     Full Idea: Modern society has come to be viewed as something artificial, an aggregate of disconnected individuals that is held together by instrumental social contracts and monetary exchanges.
     From: Kevin Aho (Existentialism: an introduction [2014], 1 'Emergence')
     A reaction: This is all long of you, Thomas Hobbes! Aho is explaining the rebellion of existentialists against this - though existentialism strikes me as another variant of liberal individualism.
Hypothetical contracts have no binding force [Swift]
     Full Idea: A common objection to Rawls is that hypothetical contracts, unlike real ones, have no binding force.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 1 'Rawls')
     A reaction: [I think Dworkin made this point] 'Contract' may be metaphorical. Perhaps it is just an 'initial agreement' or a 'working arrangement',
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / e. General will
Eventually political parties lose touch with the class they represent, which is dangerous [Gramsci]
     Full Idea: At a certain point in their lives, social classes become detached from their traditional parties. In that particular form ...the parties are no longer recognised by their class as its exopression. ...The field is then open for violent solutions.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Parties')
     A reaction: Left wing parties pursue ideologies that don't connect with the actual current interests of the working class, and righ wing parties are taken over by rich elites who don't value safe traditonal communities. (This thought is resonant in the 2018 UK).
We can see the 'general will' as what is in the general interest [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: The general will demands the policy which is equally in everyone's interests. Thus we can think of the general will as the general interest.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Rousseau')
     A reaction: That seems to assume that the people know what is in their interests. Rousseau's General Will mainly concerns who governs, and their mode of government, but not details of actual policy.
25. Society / B. The State / 4. Citizenship
A citizen is committed to ignore private advantage, and seek communal good [Epictetus]
     Full Idea: The commitment of the citizen is to have no private advantage, not to deliberate about anything as though one were a separate part.
     From: Epictetus (The Discourses [c.55], 2.10.4)
     A reaction: This is the modern problem of whether democratic voters are choosing for themselves or for the community. I think we should make an active effort at every election to persuade voters to aim for the communal good. Cf Rawls.
Cosmopolitans reject the right of different states to distribute resources in different ways [Swift]
     Full Idea: Cosmopolitans who claim that the same distributive principles should apply to all human beings seem to be denying that different states may make different judgements about how they want to allocate resources among their members.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 1 'Social')
     A reaction: If you want to be a citizen of the world, you have to face up to the pluralistic character of cultures. Do you thereby want to be a citizen of both California and Saudi Arabia? Or are you actually just becoming a citizen of nowhere?
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / a. Autocracy
Caesarism emerges which two forces in society are paralysed in conflict [Gramsci]
     Full Idea: Caesarism (as the emergence of a 'heroic' personality) expresses a situation in which the forces in conflict balance each other in a catastrophic manner ...which can only terminate in their reciprocal destruction.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Caesarism')
     A reaction: He goes on to distinguish progressive and reactionary versions of Caesarism. Gramsci's interest is in the circumstances that throw up such people. Marx had identified 'Bonapartism'.
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / c. Despotism
Totalitarian parties cut their members off from other cultural organisations [Gramsci]
     Full Idea: A totalitarian party ensures that members find in that particular party all the satisfactions that they formerly found in a multiplicity of organisations. They break the threads that bind them to extraneous cultural organisms.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Organisation')
     A reaction: British parties traditionally had a 'club house', where you could do most of your socialising. Presumably Nazis left the church, and various interest groups.
Modern totalitarianism results from lack of social ties or shared goals [Arendt, by Oksala]
     Full Idea: Arendt claims that modern totalitarianism's primary condition is an atomised mass society: isolated individuals who have no strong ties to communities and who are indifferent to shared political goals.
     From: report of Hannah Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism [1968]) by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.9
     A reaction: I think the lack of ties simply describes large modern cities. Not sure about the lack of shared goals. Hitler and Stalin rode on the back of apparent shared goals. Working classes strike me as sharing more goals than middle classes.
The ideal subject for dictators is not a fanatic, but someone who can't distinguish true from false [Arendt, by Oksala]
     Full Idea: The ideal subject of totalitarianism is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but anyone who has lost the ability to make distinctions between fact and fiction and between true and false.
     From: report of Hannah Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism [1968]) by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.9
     A reaction: We are currently living with an apparent attempt by Donald Trump to become a totalitarian President of the U.S.A., by constantly disseminating lies, and labelling all of his critics as 'fake news'.
How can dictators advance the interests of the people, if they don't consult them about interests? [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Even if a dictator wants to advance the interests of the people, how are those interests to be known? In a democracy people show their interests, it seems, by voting: they vote for what they want.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Knowledge')
     A reaction: I suppose a wise and kind despot could observe very carefully, and understand the interests of the people better than they do themselves. Indeed, I very much doubt, in 2017, whether the people know what is good for them.
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / d. Elites
If winning elections depends on wealth, we have plutocracy instead of democracy [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: If we let people's influence on election outcomes depend on their wealth, then we don't have a democracy any more. We have a plutocracy, where the people who have all the wealth have all the political power too.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'Intro')
     A reaction: [see Michael Walzer on 'complex equality'] This is startling true in the United States, but still somewhat true elsewhere. Being wealthy enough to control the media is the key in modern democracies.
25. Society / B. The State / 6. Government / a. Government
What is the function of a parliament? Does it even constitute a part of the State structure? [Gramsci]
     Full Idea: The question has to be asked: do parliaments, even in fact constitute a part of the State structure? In other words, what is the real function?
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Parliament')
     A reaction: Nice question. In the UK it is only the cabinet which has active power. Backbench MPs are usually very frustrated, especially if their party has a comfortable majority, and their vote is not precious. They are privileged lobbyists.
'Separation of powers' allows legislative, executive and judicial functions to monitor one another [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: The Federalists took the idea of 'separation of powers' from Locke and Montesquieu. This places the legislative, executive and judicial functions in independent hands, so that in theory any branch of government would be checked by the other two.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Representative')
     A reaction: [The American Federalist writers of 1787-8 were Madison, Hamilton and Jay] This is a brilliant idea. An interesting further element that has been added to it is the monitoring by a free press, presumably because the other three were negligent.
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Religion in Society
Only when working people are poor do they remain obedient to God [Calvin, by Weber]
     Full Idea: Calvin made the much-quoted statement that only when the people, i.e. the mass of labourers and craftsmen, were poor did they remain obedient to God.
     From: report of Jean Calvin (works [1549]) by Max Weber - The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism 5
     A reaction: This is only one aspect of Christian influence. The alternative is John Wesley's exhortation to work diligently, live modestly, save, invest and get rich. Most people want a comfortable intermediate state, but who proclaims that?
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Culture
Human cultures are organisms which grow, and then fade and die [Spengler, by Bowie]
     Full Idea: Spengler relies upon the idea of human cultures as organisms which grow and then inevitably die, having lost their vitality.
     From: report of Oswald Spengler (The Decline of the West [1918]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 2 'Herder'
     A reaction: He should have thought more about technology. If the 'West' collapses and is replaced by China (say), the new Chinese culture will be barely distinguishable from the West, because they will pursue similar technologies.
We stabilise societies with dogmas, either of dubious science, or of non-scientific values [Harari]
     Full Idea: Modern attempts to stabilise the sociopolitical order either declare a scientific theory (such as racial theories for Nazis, or economic ones for Communists) to be an absolute truths, or declare non-scientific dogmas (such as liberal values)
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 14 'Ignoramus')
     A reaction: [compressed]
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Religion in Society
If minority views are accepted in debate, then religious views must be accepted [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: It is unfair to exclude religious arguments from the public square because they are not accepted by everyone, unless other views that are not accepted by everyone are also excluded.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 9 'fairly')
     A reaction: Raises the obvious problems of a huge group in the grips of a fairly crazy view, and a tiny group (e.g. specialist scientists) in possession of a correct view. You can't just assess it on the size of the group. You can be wrong but reasonable.
25. Society / B. The State / 9. Population / b. Human population
Since 1500 human population has increased fourteenfold, and consumption far more [Harari]
     Full Idea: In the year 1500 there were about 500 million Homo sapiens in the world. Today there are 7 billion. …Human population has increased fourteenfold, our production 240-fold, and energy consumption 115-fold.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 14 'Discovery')
     A reaction: We really need to grasp how extraordinary this is.
People 300m tons; domesticated animals 700m tons; larger wild animals 100m tons [Harari]
     Full Idea: The combined mass of homo sapiens is about 300 million tons; the mass of all domesticated farmyard animals is about 700 million tons; the mass of the surviving larger wild animals (from porcupines up) is less than 100 million tons.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 18 'Permanent')
     A reaction: These really are figures that deserve much wider currency. Every school entrance hall needs a board with a few of the basic dramatic statistics about human life on Earth.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 1. Political Theory
The best government blends democracy, monarchy and aristocracy [Stoic school, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Stoics say the best form of government is a blend of democracy and monarchy and aristocracy.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.131
     A reaction: Sounds like nineteenth century Britain, when democracy was more limited, and the aristocracy richer and more influential. Presumably they want rule by an elite, but with some democratic restraints.
Political choice can be by utility, or maximin, or maximax [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Political choices can be made by the utility principles (maximising total utility), or maximin (maximising for the worst off, a view for pessimists), or maximax (not serious, but one for optimists, being unequal, and aiming for a high maximum).
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 5 'Choosing')
     A reaction: [my summary of a page of Wolff] Rawls embodies the maximin view. Wolff implies that we must choose between utilitarianism and Rawls. Would Marxists endorse maximin? He also adds 'constrained maximisation', with a safety net.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 2. Social Utilitarianism
Maximise happiness by an area of strict privacy, and an area of utilitarian interventions [Mill, by Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: For Mill the greatest happiness will be achieved by giving people a private sphere of interests where no intervention is permitted, while allowing a public sphere where intervention is possible, but only on utilitarian grounds.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 4 'Liberty'
     A reaction: This is probably standard liberal practice nowadays. Freely consenting adult sexual activity is agreed to be wholly private. At least some lip-service is paid to increasing happiness when government intervenes.
Sidwick argues for utilitarian institutions, rather than actions [Sidgwick, by Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Sidgwick's complex version of utilitarianism urges that institutions should be set in place to maximise utility, but that individual actions people undertake might not appear to be justifiable on utilitarian terms.
     From: report of Henry Sidgwick (The Methods of Ethics (7th edn) [1874]) by Tuckness,A/Wolf,C - This is Political Philosophy 1 Refs
     A reaction: This seems to be a specifically political version of utilitarianism, but isn't cited much by political philosophers who discuss utilitarianism.
Utilitarianism probably implies a free market plus welfare [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: A utilitarian political philosophy would probably be a free market with a welfare state.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 5 'Choosing')
     A reaction: This is roughly how Britain became, after the welfare state was added to Millian liberalism. What's missing from this formula is some degree of control of the free market, to permit welfare.
Utilitarianism neglects responsibility, duties and rights [Oksala]
     Full Idea: A focus solely on utility excludes considerations of personal responsibility and duty, as well as considerations of the basic rights of individuals.
     From: Johanna Oksala (Political Philosophy: all that matters [2013], Ch.7)
     A reaction: [He cites these as the common modern criticisms] The defence is to explain the value of each of these in utilitarian terms. There is a general problem (conceded by Mill) of motivation in utilitarianism. There's not much in it for me!
Utilitarians lump persons together; Rawls somewhat separates them; Nozick wholly separates them [Swift]
     Full Idea: Rawls objects to utilitarianism because it fails to take seriously the separateness of persons (because there is no overall person to enjoy the overall happiness). But Nozick thinks Rawls does not take the separateness of persons seriously enough.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 1 'Nozick')
     A reaction: In this sense, Nozick seems to fit our picture of a liberal more closely than Rawls does. I think they both exaggerate the separateness of persons, based on a false concept of human nature.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 3. Anarchism
It is hard for anarchists to deny that we need experts [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Many anarchists have accepted the need for the authority of experts within society
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 1 'Anarchism')
     A reaction: The status of experts may be the hottest topic in contemporary politics, given the contempt for experts shown by Trump, and by the Brexit campaign of 2016. It is a nice point that even anarchists can't duck the problem.
A realistic and less utopian anarchism looks increasingly like liberal democracy [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: As the anarchist picture of society becomes increasingly realistic and less utopian, it also becomes increasingly difficult to tell it apart from a liberal democratic state.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 1 'Anarchism')
     A reaction: Nice challenge to anarchism, which is clear in what it opposes, but isn't much of a political philosophy if it doesn't have positive aspirations. Anarchists may hope that people will beautifully co-operate, but what if they re-form the state to do it?
Anarchists prefer local and communal government [Oksala]
     Full Idea: Anarchists advocate forms of governance such as communes and associations that are as local and close to the direct control of the people as possible.
     From: Johanna Oksala (Political Philosophy: all that matters [2013], Ch.8)
     A reaction: Which might explain why recent conservative governments have steadily eliminated local government in Britain.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / a. Nature of democracy
A system of democracy which includes both freedom and equality is almost impossible [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: We are very unlikely to be able to find an instrumental defence of democracy which also builds the values of freedom and equality into a feasible system.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Conc')
     A reaction: I increasingly think that freedom is the most overrated political virtue (though it is certainly a virtue). Total freedom is ridiculous, but the aim of sacrificing many other social goods in order to maximise freedom also looks wrong.
Democracy expresses equal respect (which explains why criminals forfeit the vote) [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Democracy is a way of expressing equal respect for all, which is perhaps why we withdraw the vote from criminals: by their behaviour they forfeit the right to equal respect.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Conc')
     A reaction: I disagree, and he has converted me to franchise for criminals. One-off criminals do not forfeit my respect for them as people, though their action may merit a controlling response on our part. Bad character, not a bad action, forfeits respect.
Democracy has been seen as consistent with many types of inequality [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Greeks assumed democracy was consistent with slavery, Rousseau that it was consistent with sexual inequality, and Wollstonecraft that it was consistent with disenfranchisement of the poor.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Freedom')
     A reaction: If you are allowed to restrict the franchise in some way, then a narrow oligarchy can qualify as a democracy, with half a dozen voters.
A true democracy could not tolerate slavery, exploitation or colonialism [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: A democratic state has power only over the people who make up the electorate. Ruling over a subservient class, or territory, is claimed to be antithetical to the true ideals of democracy.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Intro')
     A reaction: Is making trade deals very favourable to yourself (i.e. good capitalism) antithetical to democracy?
Occasional defeat is acceptable, but a minority that is continually defeated is a problem [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Most of us can accept losing from time to time, but sometimes an entrenched majority will win vote after vote, leaving the minority group permanently outvoted and ignored.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Protecting')
     A reaction: This is the key problem of the treatment of minorities in a democracy. Personally I have only once been on the winning side in voting for my MP, and he changed party a couple of years later.
Democracy is bad, but the other systems are worse [Swift]
     Full Idea: During WW2 Winston Churchill famously said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 5 'Procedures')
     A reaction: [Actually a speech in 1947, which began 'it has been said that....'] Aristotle thought an intelligent and benevolent dictatorship was the best form, but held little hope of achieving it. Getting rid of bad rulers is the big virtue.
Since all opinions are treated as equal in democracy, it implies there are no right answers [Swift]
     Full Idea: If there were moral knowledge about political matters, democracy would be a very strange way of reaching it. Democratic law-making means treating each person's view as equally good, which only makes sense if there is nothing to be right or wrong about.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 5 'Subjectivism')
     A reaction: Ah, I suddenly grasp that the modern fad for a rather gormless blanket relativism is rooted in the modern desire to take democracy really seriously. Important to remember Condorcet's point here.
Design your democracy to yield political stability, or good decisions? [Swift]
     Full Idea: If you value democracy because it yields political stability, then you will probably worry about different aspects of the procedure from those who care about its producing good decisions.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 5 'Values')
     A reaction: [Combine this with Idea 20562] Surely the primary aim must be good decisions? The other three options are the result of pessimism about any method achieving that. Instability, inequality and dud citizens are bars to good decisions.
Design your democracy to treat citizens equally, or to produce better citizens? [Swift]
     Full Idea: If your main reason for being a democrat is that democratic procedures respect citizens equally, then you may want a different kind of democracy from those who favour it because they think it tends to produce better citizens?
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 5 'Values')
     A reaction: [Combine this with Idea 20563]
Epistemic theories defend democracy as more like to produce the right answer [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: According to epistemic theories of democracy, democratic outcomes are justified because they are more likely to be true or right than the choice of the individual.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'Do the people')
     A reaction: Bear in mind Condorcet's proof that this claim is only correct if individuals have a better than 50% chance of being right, which may be so on obvious things, but is implausible for decisions like going to war.
Which areas of public concern should be decided democratically, and which not? [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Are there areas which are excluded from democratic decision making? Or should all issues of public concern be decided through a democratic process?
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'What is')
     A reaction: Crucially, are we discussing direct democracy, or representative democracy? In Britain all major decisions are made by the cabinet. Our representatives appoint leaders, who then appoint the decision makers. Judiciary is non-democratic.
Discussion before voting should be an essential part of democracy [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: According to advocates of deliberative democracy, people should have an opportunity to talk and reason with one another before votes are cast.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'Who gets')
     A reaction: This is now done on Facebook and Twitter, but no one thinks that is sufficient. We will never again persuade most people to actually meet up and discuss issues.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / b. Consultation
How people vote should be on public record, so they can be held accountable [Mill, by Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Mill believed in an open vote. People should be held accountable for how they vote, and therefore it should be a matter of public record.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (Representative Government [1861]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 3 'Representative'
     A reaction: Nowadays it is a mantra that voting should be secret, because coercion is an obvious problem, but MPs vote publicly, and are held accountable for their voting records. People like the mafia seem to make open public voting impossible.
Voting is a strict duty, like jury service, and must only be aimed at the public good [Mill]
     Full Idea: The citizen's vote is not a thing in which he has an option; it has no more to do with his personal wishes than the verdict of a juryman. ...he is bound to give it according to his best and most conscientious opinion of the public good.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Representative Government [1861], p.299), quoted by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 3 'Representative'
     A reaction: Mill was also concerned that voters might pursue 'class interest' (which they currently do, big time).
We should decide whether voting is for self-interests, or for the common good [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: To avoid mixed-motivation voting, we must choose between one model of people voting in accordance with their preferences, and another of voting for their estimate of the common good.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Voting')
     A reaction: Personally I always voted for the common good, and only slowly realised that most people were voting for their own interests. A rational society would at least bring this dichotomy into the open. Voting for self-interest isn't wicked.
Condorcet proved that sensible voting leads to an emphatically right answer [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Condorcet proved that provided people have a better than even chance of getting the right answer, and that they vote for their idea of the common good, then majority decisions are an excellent way to get the right result.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Voting')
     A reaction: [compressed] The point is that collective voting magnifies the result. If they tend to be right, the collective view is super-right. But if they tend towards the wrong, the collective view goes very wrong indeed. History is full of the latter.
If several losing groups would win if they combine, a runoff seems called for [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: It is possible that the people who supported several losing candidates might have joined forces and had a majority. For that reason, many countries have a runoff election.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'Does democracy')
     A reaction: The problem is that there is no rationale as to who stands in an election. If their views are evenly spread, the first result seems OK. If there are five left-wingers and one right-winger, a runoff seems to be produce a more just result.
Rights as interests (unlike rights as autonomy) supports mandatory voting [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: If rights concern people's interests, that might support mandatory voting, but if rights rely on protecting autonomy that might oppose it.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'Interest')
     A reaction: I approach it from the other end, and am inclined to support mandatory voting, which suggests I am more concerned about interests than about autonomy.
How should democratic votes be aggregated? Can some person's votes count for more? [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: A major question for democracy is how are the contributions of different people aggregated into a collective decision? Must votes have equal weight and consideration, or is it permissible for different people's votes to count differently?
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'What is')
     A reaction: Mill hoped that wise and knowledgeable people would have a strong influence over the others, but we have recently moved into the post-truth era, where we are swamped by bogus facts. Does that strengthen the case for elite voting?
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / c. Direct democracy
Direct democracy is inexperience judging experience, and ignorance judging knowledge [Mill]
     Full Idea: At its best [direct democracy] is inexperience sitting in judgement on experience, ignorance on knowledge.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Representative Government [1861], p.232), quoted by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 4 'Representative'
     A reaction: Recent experiments have suggested that inexperienced people can become very good at making large decisions, if they are allowed to consult experts when they want to. See Van Reybrouck's 'Against Elections'.
Teledemocracy omits debate and deliberation, which are important parts of good decisions [Swift]
     Full Idea: We are averse to teledemocracy because it misses out some important parts of a good decision-making procedure, such as debate and deliberation.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 5 'Procedures')
     A reaction: Perhaps you should be sent a short info pack, and only allowed to vote when you have passed a factual multiple choice test about the topic. Or one pack from each political party. Maybe compulsory online discussion as well.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / d. Representative democracy
Your representative owes you his judgement, and betrays you if he gives your opinion instead [Burke]
     Full Idea: Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion
     From: Edmund Burke (Address to the Voters of Bristol [1774]), quoted by Adam Swift - Political Philosophy (3rd ed)
     A reaction: Nice rhetoric, but I'm not sure about the logic of it. Do I betray you if I give my stupid judgement rather than your wise one? Am I so arrogant as to think my judgement is always preferable? His audience was entirely of property owners.
People can only participate in decisions in small communities, so representatives are needed [Mill]
     Full Idea: Since all cannot, in a community exceeding a single small town, participate personally in any but some very minor portions of the public business, it follows that the ideal type of a perfect government must be representative.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Representative Government [1861], p.217-8), quoted by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 4 'Representative'
     A reaction: Wolff offers Mill as the principal spokesman for representative democracy. It is not only the difficulty of achieving participation, but also the slowness of decision-making. Modern technology may be changing all of this.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 6. Liberalism
Liberalism's weakness is its powerful rigid bureaucracy [Gramsci]
     Full Idea: Liberalism's weakness is the bureacracy - the crystallisation of the leading personnel - which exercises power, and at a certain point it becomes a caste.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'Hegemony')
     A reaction: This sounds more like what is called 'the Establishment' in Britain, which is the hidden controllers of power, rather than the administrators (whose role is only despised by right-wingers).
Liberals mistakenly think individuals choose their values, without reference to the community [Swift]
     Full Idea: The two core liberal mistakes (according to communitarians) are that people choose their values, and that they do so in some way detached from their communities.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 4 'Correcting')
     A reaction: I think I might be a communitarian liberal, meaning that extreme individualism is both incorrect and pernicious, but that communities should only exist to promote the varied lives of individuals within them.
The state fostered individualism, to break the power of family and community [Harari]
     Full Idea: States and markets use their growing power to weaken the bonds of family and community. They made an offer that couldn't be refused - 'become individuals' (over marriage, jobs and residence). The 'romantic individual' is not a rebel against the state.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 18 'Collapse')
     A reaction: [compressed] See the film 'Breaking the Waves'. An interesting slant on the Romantic movement. See Wordsworth's 'Michael'. Capitalism needs shoppers with their own money, and a mobile workforce.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 7. Communitarianism
Early Marx anticipates communitarian objections to liberalism [Marx, by Oksala]
     Full Idea: The early writings of Marx anticipate the communitarian critique of liberalism.
     From: report of Karl Marx (works [1860]) by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.8
     A reaction: [Oksala says modern writers seem to prefer this to the hardcore later Marx, which is presumably too 'scientific'. He says 'Capital Vol 1' is Marx's most important work]
In 1750 losing your family and community meant death [Harari]
     Full Idea: A person who lost her family and community around 1750 was as good as dead.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 18 'Collapse')
     A reaction: This is a very good advert for liberal individualism, and marks the downside of 'too much community'.
The best way to build a cohesive community is to be involved in a war [Swift]
     Full Idea: There is nothing like a war to build a sense of common purpose, of being in the same boat, and to generate the kind of interaction between people that breaks down divisive social boundaries.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014])
     A reaction: A nice warning to those who over-do or simplify communitarianism. Alternatively, the greatest sign of health in a community is that citizens have almost no interest in one another?
Membership and inclusion in a community implies non-membership and exclusion [Swift]
     Full Idea: Community is about membership and inclusion. But that means it is also about non-membership and exclusion.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 4 'Conc')
     A reaction: I'm a fan of communitarianism (focused on Aristotle's life of individual virtue for each citizen), but I'm beginning to see that it has a poisonous cousin travelling under the same name. The cousin's rallying cries focus on aliens and enemies.
Multiculturalism is a barrier to the whole state being a community [Swift]
     Full Idea: For those wanting to regard the state itself as a community, multiculturalism can be a problem.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 4 'Liberalism')
     A reaction: A very important idea. A certain type of aggressive patriot passionately wants the whole country to be a close-bound community, and becomes deeply frustrated by the impossibility of this in a complex and fluid modern world.
Liberals are concerned to protect individuals from too much community [Swift]
     Full Idea: Liberals are concerned to protect individuals from too much community - from practices that stifle the individual's freedom to choose for herself how she lives her life.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 4 'Liberalism')
     A reaction: The phrase 'too much community' is an excellent warning to communitarians. I'm happy to be enmeshed in a community, as long as it is composed of highly liberal and easy-going individuals. Avoid too much bad community.
We have obligations to our family, even though we didn't choose its members [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Many of our most important obligations are things we did not consent to. If you think you have obligations to your family, did you choose to have them as family members?
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 6 'Gratitude')
     A reaction: A question that gets close to the heart of the communitarian ideal, I think. We choose to have children, and we bring them up, but even then we don't choose who our children are.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 8. Socialism
Socialist economics needs a very strong central power, virtually leading to slavery [Hayek, by Oksala]
     Full Idea: Hayek argues that socialist economic equality can only be effectively put into practice by a strong, dictatorial government. Planning has to be imposed by force, and centralised economic power creates a dependency scarcely distingishable from slavery.
     From: report of F.A. Hayek (The Road to Serfdom [1944]) by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.7
     A reaction: I don't see much sign of the post-war British Labour government being anything like this, even though they nationalised the railways and introduce a national health service. Hayek was mesmerised by Russia.
Redistributing wealth treats some people as means, rather than as ends [Swift]
     Full Idea: Treating people as means seems like a fairly accurate description of what is involved when the state coercively redistributes resources from some to others.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 1 'Nozick')
     A reaction: The objection comes from Nozick, and alludes to Kant's desire to treat everyone as an end in themselves. Personally I don't mind at all being treated as a means, when my wife asks me to make her a cup of tea. Or paying my taxes to help the community.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 9. Communism
Even decently paid works still have their produce bought with money stolen from them [Marx]
     Full Idea: Even if the workers are paid a fair wage, the whole thing still remains the age-old activity of the conqueror, who buys commodities from the conquered with the money has has stolen from them,
     From: Karl Marx (Capital Vol. 1 [1867], p.728), quoted by Johanna Oksala - Political Philosophy: all that matters Ch.8
     A reaction: [Penguin edition cited] The word 'stolen' is obviously dubious here. 'Exploitation' is a much more accurate word. One might talk of 'blackmail' or 'extortion' rather than theft.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 12. Capitalism
Time is money, ..credit is money, ..and money breeds more money [Franklin]
     Full Idea: Remember that time is money, …and that credit is money, …and that money can beget money.
     From: Benjamin Franklin (Advice to a Young Tradesman [1748], p.87-), quoted by Max Weber - The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism 2
     A reaction: [snippets] A wonderful quotation rescued by Max Weber, showing that Franklin understood capitalism with crystal clarity, before it had even barely begun
Selfish profit-seeking increases collective wealth, so greed is good, and egoism is altruism [Smith,A, by Harari]
     Full Idea: Smith's claim that the selfish human urge to increase private profits is the basis for collective wealth is one of the most revolutionary ideas in human history. …Greed is good …and egoism is altruism.
     From: report of Adam Smith (The Wealth of Nations [1776]) by Yuval Noah Harari - Sapiens: brief history of humankind 16 'Growing'
     A reaction: The central confrontation of political philosophy still seems to be Adam Smith v Karl Marx. Why can't there be altruistic non-greedy profit-seeking? Not 'I want profits' but 'we want profits'. Altruistic capitalists aim to create jobs.
Free markets lead to boom and bust, pointless middlemen, and alienated workers [Engels]
     Full Idea: Free markets inevitably lead to unemployment and ruined businesses, when the capitalist market is punctuated by a 'trade cycle' of boom and bust. .. There are speculating, swindling middlemen. ...and the nature of work is degrading and alienated.
     From: Friedrich Engels (Speeches in Elberfeld [1849]), quoted by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 5 'Arguments'
     A reaction: [compression of Wolff's summary] Wolff observes that middlemen are heroes to lovers of the market. The idea of alienation seems to be that everyone should be in charge of their own work. That may approach anarchy.
Capitalism changes the world, by socialising the idea of a commodity [Marx, by Bowie]
     Full Idea: In Marx's view the essential factor in capitalism is that the encroachment of the commodity form into society fundamentally changes the world.
     From: report of Karl Marx (works [1860]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 6 'Historical'
     A reaction: The main point is that people and their labour become commodities. Haven't animals always been treated as commodities? Clearly slave were commodities, long before capitalism. Capitalism universalises it?
Acquisition and low consumption lead to saving, investment, and increased wealth [Weber]
     Full Idea: If people are acquisitive but consumption is limited, the inevitable result is the accumulation of capital through the compulsion to save. The restraints on consumption naturally served to increase wealth by enabling the productive investment of capital.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], 5)
     A reaction: [compressed. He also quotes John Wesley saying this] In a nutshell, this is how the protestant ethic (esp. if puritan) drives capitalism. It also needs everyone to have a 'calling', and a rebellion against monasticism in favour of worldly work.
When asceticism emerged from the monasteries, it helped to drive the modern economy [Weber]
     Full Idea: When asceticism was carried out of the monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], 5)
     A reaction: Since Max Weber's time I should think this is less and less true. If you hunt for ascetics in the modern world, they are probably dropped out, and pursuing green politics. Industrialists are obsessed with property and wine.
Capitalism is not unlimited greed, and may even be opposed to greed [Weber]
     Full Idea: Unlimited greed for gain is not in the least identical with capitalism, and is still less in its spirit. Capitalism may even be identical with the restraint, or at least a rational tempering, of this irrational impulse.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], Author's Intro)
     A reaction: The point is that profits have to be re-invested, rather than spent on pleasure. If we are stuck with capitalism we need a theory of Ethical Capitalism.
Modern western capitalism has free labour, business separate from household, and book-keeping [Weber]
     Full Idea: The modern Occident has developed a very different form of capitalism: the rational capitalist organisation of free labour …which needed two other factors: the separation of the business from the household, and the closely connected rational book-keeping.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], Author's Intro)
     A reaction: For small businesses the separation has to be maintained by a ruthless effort of imagination. Book-keeping is because the measure of loss and profit is the engine of the whole game. Labour had to be dragged free of family and community.
Marx thought capitalism was partly liberating, and could make labour and ownership more humane [Bowie, by Bowie]
     Full Idea: Marx did not disapprove per se of capitalism. New divisions of labour and forms of ownership could transform individuals in modern societies, creating a more humane world with the means capitalism had liberated from feudalism.
     From: report of Andrew Bowie (Introduction to German Philosophy [2003]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 11 'Metaphysics'
     A reaction: I'm guessing this might be early Marx, which has less to say about the 'scientific' inevitably of deep change, and the necessity for revolution. Nowadays we tinker with humane changes at the poorer end, while the rich run rampant.
The sacred command of capitalism is that profits must be used to increase production [Harari]
     Full Idea: In the new capitalist creed, the first and most sacred commandment is: The profits of production must be reinvested in increasing production.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 16 'Growing')
     A reaction: In this sense, capitalism is less greedy than its predecessors. 17th century aristocratic monopolists simply spent the profits of their activities. See the gorgeous clothes then (and pyramids and palaces), and the quiet suits of capitalists.
The progress of capitalism depends entirely on the new discoveries and gadgets of science [Harari]
     Full Idea: The history of capitalism is unintelligible without taking science into account. …The human economy has managed to keep on going only thanks to the fact that scientists come up with a new discovery or gadget every few years.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 16 'Growing')
     A reaction: For example, the desperate but unconvincing attempts to persuade us of the novelty of new models of car. Built-in obsolescence is needed once a design becomes static.
The main rule of capitalism is that all other goods depend on economic growth [Harari]
     Full Idea: The principle tenet of capitalism is that economic growth is the supreme good, or at least a proxy for it, because justice, freedom, and even happiness all depend on economic growth.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 16 'Growing')
     A reaction: In this respect, the main opponent of captitalism is green politics, rather than marxism.
In capitalism the rich invest, and the rest of us go shopping [Harari]
     Full Idea: The supreme commandment of the rich is 'invest!', and the supreme commandment of the rest of us is 'buy!'
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 17 'Age')
     A reaction: Hence not only do the rich get much richer, while most of us remain roughly where we were, but there is a huge gulf between the investors and the non-investors. Encouraging small investors is a step forward.
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 13. Feminism
One is not born, but rather becomes a woman [Beauvoir]
     Full Idea: One is not born, but rather becomes a woman.
     From: Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex [1952], p.301), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 2 'Phenomenology'
     A reaction: This has become the principle idea in modern discussions of gender. It divides gender from sex, rather as Locke divided person from human being. It is an abstraction. It is part of the Hegelian-Marxist idea that persons are moulded by culture.
As a young girl assumes her status as feminine, she acts in a more fragile immobile way [Young,IM]
     Full Idea: The young girl acquires many subject habits of feminine body comportment - walking, tilting her head, standing and sitting like a girl, and so on ….The more a girl assumes her status as feminine, the more she takes herself to be fragile and immobile.
     From: Iris Marion Young (On Female Body Experience [2005], p.43), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 3 'Aspects'
     A reaction: This strikes me as true of young women, but it largely wears off as they get older, at least among modern women. A whole book could be written about women and smiling.
Men have had the power to structure all of our social institutions [Swift]
     Full Idea: The problem for feminists is that men have had the power to structure all our social institutions - family, economy, polity - in ways that suit them.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 3 'Gender')
     A reaction: An interesting question is whether masculine domination runs even deeper than that, into our value system, our metaphysics, our science, our epistemology, our language. How do you tell? If women take over half the masculine roles, does that solve it?
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 1. Legal Rights / a. Basis of rights
There is now a growing universal community, and violations of rights are felt everywhere [Kant]
     Full Idea: The peoples of the earth have entered in varying degrees into a universal community, and it has developed to the point where a violation of rights in one part of the world is felt everywhere.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795], 'Third')
     A reaction: I hope slavery was at the forefront of his mind when he wrote that. It is only in very recent times (since about 1960?) that major violations of rights are felt to matter to the whole human race. A long way to go, though.
There are political and inter-national rights, but also universal cosmopolitan rights [Kant]
     Full Idea: The idea of a cosmopolitan right is not fantastic and overstrained; it is a necessary complement to the unwritten code of political and international right, transforming it into a universal right of humanity.
     From: Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace [1795], 'Third')
     A reaction: The interesting thought is that there are no 'natural rights', but there can be universal rights insofar as there exists a universal community. See the UN Declaration of Human Rights c.1948.
Marxists say liberal rights are confrontational, and liberal equality is a sham [Marx, by Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: For Marx liberal rights are egoistic rights of separation: they encourage each individual to view others as limitations to his or her freedom. ....Liberals set up a sham community of 'equal' citizens.
     From: report of Karl Marx (On the Jewish Question [1844]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 4 'Marxist'
     A reaction: The point is that equality in law does not ensure equal treatment in daily life. I suppose a liberal right can be seen as an opt-out clause for some aspect of society.
If natural rights are axiomatic, there is then no way we can defend them [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: The theory of basic natural rights is problematic, because although the theory is rigorous and principled, the disadvantage is that we are left with nothing more fundamental to say in defence of these rights.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 4 'Liberty')
     A reaction: This is a nice point about anything which is treated as axiomatic - even Euclid's geometry. Presumably rights can only be justified by the needs of our shared human nature.
If rights are natural, rather than inferred, how do we know which rights we have? [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: If natural rights have a fundamental status, and so are not arrived at on the basis of some other argument, how do we know what rights we have?
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 4 'Liberty')
     A reaction: He cites Bentham as using this point. Utilitarianism at least provides a grounding for the identification of possible basic rights. Start from what we want, or what we more objectively need? Human needs, or needs in our present culture?
Rights and justice are only the last resorts of a society, something to fall back on [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Justice is the last virtue of society, or at least the last resort. Rights, or considerations of justice, are like an insurance policy: something offering security to fall back on.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 6 'Transcending')
     A reaction: I like this. He points out that a good family doesn't talk of rights and justice. We want a friendly harmonious society, with safety nets.
Justice can be seen as fairness or entitlement or desert [Swift]
     Full Idea: The three influential conceptions of justice are as fairness (Rawls), as entitlement (Nozick), and as desert.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 1 'Concept')
Some rights are 'claims' that other people should act in a certain way [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: A 'claim right' is one in which the person asserting the right makes a claim on others to act or not act in a certain way.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'Claim')
     A reaction: There seems to be a crucial distinction between rights which entail obligations on some individual or institution, and those which don't. Contracts (including employment contracts) generate duties on the parties.
One theory (fairly utilitarian) says rights protect interests (but it needs to cover trivial interests) [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Interest theorists hold that rights serve to protect people's important interests. This is closely allied with utilitarian values. The theory has difficulty accounting relatively trivial interests (like owning a lemonade you bought).
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'Interest')
     A reaction: This sounds more plausible than choice theory (Idea 20604). It is obvious that infants must have rights. The lemonade problem seems to demand some sort of rule utilitarianism. Sidgwick looks promising. Rights can also be moral claims.
Choice theory says protecting individual autonomy is basic (but needs to cover infants and animals) [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Choice theorists hold that rights protect our rights to make autonomous judgements, because our basic right to autonomy must be protected, The theory has a problem with people unable to exercise autonomy (such as infants and animals).
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'Interest')
     A reaction: The problem of infants and animals looks like a decisive objection to me. We obviously don't protect dangerous or hostile autonomous judgements, and it is not clear why protecting stupid autonomy should be basic.
Having a right does not entail further rights needed to implement it [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Possession of a right (such as self-defence) does not always imply that one has additional rights to whatever they need (such as a handgun) in order to exercise the first right.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'Is there')
     A reaction: The right to life entails a right to food (but not to a banquet), so it is a stronger right than self-defence. I have no obligation to let you defend yourself against me, but I may have an obligation to feed you if you are starving. (Distinction here?)
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 1. Legal Rights / c. Property rights
Locke says 'mixing of labour' entitles you to land, as well as nuts and berries [Wolff,J on Locke]
     Full Idea: The great advantage of Locke's 'labour-mixing' argument is that it seems it can justify the appropriation of land, as well as nuts and berries.
     From: comment on John Locke (Second Treatise of Government [1690]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 5 'Locke'
     A reaction: The argument is dubious at best, and plausibly downright wicked. How much labour achieves ownership? What of previous people who worked the land but never thought to claim 'ownership'? Suppose I do more labour than you on 'your' land?
Property is theft! [Proudhon]
     Full Idea: Property is theft!
     From: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (What is Property? [1840]), quoted by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev)
     A reaction: [Context in Proudhon's book?] This may not be the essence of property rights today, but it is almost undeniable as a historical fact. William the Conqueror kills the opposition in battle, and then gives English land to his friends.
Property is legitimate by initial acquisition, voluntary transfer, or rectification of injustice [Nozick, by Swift]
     Full Idea: Nozick identified three ways in which people can acquire a legitimate property holding: initial acquisition, voluntary transfer, and rectification (of unjust transfers).
     From: report of Robert Nozick (Anarchy,State, and Utopia [1974]) by Adam Swift - Political Philosophy (3rd ed) 1 'Nozick'
     A reaction: I think it is a delusion to look for justice in the ownership of property. You can't claim justice for buying property if the money to do it was acquired unjustly. And what rights over those who live on the land come with the 'ownership'?
Can I come to own the sea, by mixing my private tomato juice with it? [Nozick]
     Full Idea: If I own a can of tomato juice and spill it in the sea so that its molecules mingle evenly throughout the sea, do I thereby come to own the sea?
     From: Robert Nozick (Anarchy,State, and Utopia [1974], p.175)
     A reaction: This is a reductio of Locke's claim that I can own land by 'mixing' my labour with it. At first glance, mixing something with something would seem to have nothing to do with ownership.
Utilitarians might say property ownership encourages the best use of the land [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: A utilitarian justification of property rights says allowing people to appropriate property, trade in it, and leave it to their descendants will encourage them to make the most productive use of their resources.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 5 'Locke')
     A reaction: This obviously has a point, but equally justifies confiscation of land from people who are not making best use of it. In Sicily many landowners refused to allow the peasants to make any use at all of the land.
You can't necessarily sell your legitimate right to something, even if you produced it [Swift]
     Full Idea: Ownership is a complicated idea. I have a right to the office photocopier, but I can's sell the right to others. If people have absolute rights over what they produce, why can't parents sell their children into slavery?
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 1 'Nozick')
     A reaction: If I make a car from stolen parts, does constructing it make it mine? Etc. Do birds own their nests? Swift goes on to ask if we 'own' our bodies.
Libertarians about property ignore that fact that private property is a denial of freedoms [Swift]
     Full Idea: Libertarians say that they care about freedom, and argue for private property rights on freedom grounds. But they don't sem to care about, or even notice, the unfreedom implied by the existence of private property rights.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 2 'Freedom')
     A reaction: When I pass some vast country estate totally surrounded by a high wall, I certainly don't think how wonderful it is that someone has the right to own this property as private land. On the contrary....
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 2. Social Freedom / c. Free speech
Nothing we say can be worse than unsaying it in the face of authority [Montaigne]
     Full Idea: Nothing which a gentleman says can seem worse than the shame of his unsaying it under duress from authority.
     From: Michel de Montaigne (III.10 On Restraining your Will [1580], p.1153)
     A reaction: The point is that you have to fight every day for free speech, because no matter what the law says, there are always people in power who want to shut you up.
Free speech does not include the right to shout 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Oliver Wendell Holmes (in 1919) noted that freedom of speech does not include the right to shout 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 1 'Conflict')
     A reaction: The point here is that such irresponsible free speech does not even require legislation, and there is probably already some law under which the perpetrator could be prosecuted.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 2. Social Freedom / d. Free market
Market prices indicate shortages and gluts, and where the profits are to be made [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: The price system is a way of signalling and transmitting information. The fact that the price of a good rises shows that the good is in short supply. And if prices rise in a sector because of increasing demand, then new producers rush in for the profits.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 5 'Free')
     A reaction: [Woff is discussing Hayek] Why do we have a shortage of decent housing in the UK? Centralised economies lack this direct way of discovering where their efforts should be directed.
No market is free of political bias, and markets need protection of their freedoms [Harari]
     Full Idea: There is no such thing as a market free of all political bias, …and markets by themselves offer no protection against fraud, theft and violence.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 16 'Cult')
     A reaction: Is this in theory, or in practice? In Sicily the free market has been a tool of the mafia.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 2. Social Freedom / e. Freedom of lifestyle
Mill defends freedom as increasing happiness, but maybe it is an intrinsic good [Wolff,J on Mill]
     Full Idea: Mill has presented liberty as instrumentally valuable, as a way of achieving the greatest possible happiness in society. But perhaps he should have argued that liberty is an intrinsic good, good in itself.
     From: comment on John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 4 'Intrinsic'
     A reaction: If freedom is intrinsically good, does this leave us (as Wolff warned earlier) unable to defend its value? Freedom isn't an intrinsic good for infants, so why should it be so for adults? Good because it brings happiness, or fulfils our nature?
Utilitarianism values liberty, but guides us one which ones we should have or not have [Mill, by Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Utilitarianism provides an account of what liberties we should and should not have. Mill argues we should be free to compete in trade, but not to use another's property without consent. Thus he sets limits to liberty, while paying it great respect.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 4 'Intrinsic'
Berlin distinguishes 'negative' and 'positive' liberty, and rejects the latter [Berlin, by Swift]
     Full Idea: Isaiah Berlin draws a famous distinction between 'negative' and 'positive' concepts of liberty, and argues that the latter should be seen as a wrong turning (because totalitarian regimes have invoked it).
     From: report of Isaiah Berlin (Two Concepts of Liberty [1958]) by Adam Swift - Political Philosophy (3rd ed) 2 'Intro'
     A reaction: Swift argues against him, saying that positive liberty is not a single concept (it's three), and has aspects that should be defended. I think I'm with Swift on that. Is religious freedom a freedom 'from' something, or a freedom 'to do' something?
Liberty Principle: everyone has an equal right to liberties, if compatible with others' liberties [Rawls]
     Full Idea: First Principle [Liberty]: Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all.
     From: John Rawls (A Theory of Justice [1972], 46)
     A reaction: This is the result of consensus after the initial ignorant position of assessment. It is characteristic of liberalism. I'm struggling to think of a disagreement.
Liberty principles can't justify laws against duelling, incest between siblings and euthanasia [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Many laws of contemporary society are very hard to defend in terms of Mill's Liberty Principle, such as laws against duelling, incest between siblings, and euthanasia.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 4 'Poison')
     A reaction: [He cites Chief Justice Lord Devlin for this] Being killed in a duel can cause widespread misery. Fear of inbreeding is behind the second one, and fear of murdering the old behind the third one. No man is an island.
Either Difference allows unequal liberty, or Liberty makes implementing Difference impossible [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Critics say that the Difference Principle allows inequality of liberty ...and (more often) that liberty means we cannot impose any restriction on individual property holdings.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 5 'Nozick')
     A reaction: The second objection is associated with Robert Nozick. The point is that you can implement the Difference Principle without restricting liberty. The standard right-wing objection of social welfare.
Freedom may work against us, as individuals can choose to leave, and make fewer commitments [Harari]
     Full Idea: The freedom we value so highly may work against us. We can choose our spouses, friends and neighbours, but they can choose to leave us. With the individual wielding unprecedented power to decide her own path, we find it ever harder to make commitments.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 19 'Counting')
     A reaction: Thisis the worry of the communitarian. I take freedom to be a great social virtue - but an overrated one.
Maybe a freedom is from a restraint, and also in order to do something [Swift]
     Full Idea: Maybe freedom is a triadic relation, involving an agent, freedom from a contraint, and in order to act towards some goal.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 2 'Two')
     A reaction: [He cites Gerald MacCallum for this thought] The point is that this makes freedom both negative and positive, contrary to Isaiah Berlin's claim. But on the first day of the school holidays you are 'free', with nothing in particular in mind.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 3. Social Equality / a. Grounds of equality
Treat equal people equally, and unequal people unequally [Aristotle, by Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Aristotle's principle of proportional equality says treat equals equally and treat unequals unequally.
     From: report of Aristotle (Politics [c.332 BCE]) by Tuckness,A/Wolf,C - This is Political Philosophy 3 'Baseline'
     A reaction: [original ref?] This can only be assessed by considering the ways in which people are or are not equal. Equal respect should, I believe, apply to absolutely everything (even the inanimate). I can't think how this dictum should ever be applied.
Only liberty, equality and sympathy can stand up to anti-social people [Kropotkin]
     Full Idea: Liberty, equality and practical human sympathy are the only effective barriers we can oppose to the anti-social instincts of certain among us.
     From: Peter (Pyotr) Kropotkin (Law and Authority [1886], 1 'Anarchism'), quoted by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev)
     A reaction: One might state it more succinctly as 'only the social can oppose the anti-social'. The dominance in society of essentially anti-social people seems to have become a major political fact in 2017, in the UK and the USA.
'Social justice' is a confused idea, and inequalities need no justification [Hayek, by Swift]
     Full Idea: Hayek thinks the whole idea of social justice involves a philosophical mistake, so that inequality doesn't really need justification in the first place.
     From: report of F.A. Hayek (The Mirage of Social Justice [1976]) by Adam Swift - Political Philosophy (3rd ed) 1 'Conc'
     A reaction: It is certainly hard to justify the claim that the state of nature involves equality, making its disturbance in need of justification. But surely inequalities in government policy (such as differential income tax) need justification?
Hobbes says people are roughly equal; Locke says there is no right to impose inequality [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Hobbes's principle of equality was a claim about the mental and physical capabilities of all people. For Locke it is a moral claim about rights: no person has a natural right to subordinate any other.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 1 'Locke')
     A reaction: There are obvious questions to ask about the claim that people are naturally equal. For the second one, does the lion have a natural right to subordinate the gazelle? Who cares! I'm inclined to be consequentialist about equality.
Utilitarians argue for equal distribution because of diminishing utility of repetition [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: The utilitarian argument for equality assumes that people have 'diminishing marginal returns' for goods. If there are two people and two nice chocolate biscuits, then utilitarianism is likely to recommend one each.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 5 'Arguments')
     A reaction: The point is that the second biscuit provides slightly diminished pleasure. This is why you can buy boxes of assorted biscuits, which you are then not required to share.
Difference Principle: all inequalities should be in favour of the disadvantaged [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Difference Principle: Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 46)
     A reaction: Rivals would say that inequalities should go to those who have earned them.
Opportunity should ignore extraneous factors, or foster competence, or ignore all disadvantages [Swift]
     Full Idea: The minimal conception of equality of opportunity is that race or gender or religion should not affect chances of a good job or education. The conventional conception needs equality in acquiring competences. Radical views ignore inborn disadvantages.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 3 'Equality')
     A reaction: [my summary of Swift] There can't be a simple answer here. Equality is desirable for lots of fairly easy jobs, but not for difficult and important jobs like teaching or brain surgery.
Most people want equality because they want a flourishing life [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: If we want equality so much, we find that it is often because they think of equality as a prerequisite for a certain kind of flourishing life.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 1 'Happiness')
     A reaction: Most writers seem to agree that we don't want equality for its own sake. In what respects do we want to be equal? Why not equal in hair colour? Hence it looks as if equality drops out. I would aim to derive it from the social virtue of respect.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 3. Social Equality / b. Political equality
Perfect political equality requires economic equality [Gramsci]
     Full Idea: The idea that complete and perfect political equality cannot exist without economic equality ...remains correct.
     From: Antonio Gramsci (Selections from Prison Notebooks [1971], 2 'The State')
     A reaction: In the west we are living in a period (2018) when the top 0.1% of the wealthy are racing away, creating huge inequality. Their wealth controls the media, and it seems unrestrainable. The belief that we live in a 'democracy' is an illusion.
Complex equality restricts equalities from spilling over, like money influencing politics and law [Walzer, by Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Complex equality tries to keep advantages in one area (such as money) from translating into advantages in politics or before the law.
     From: report of Michael Walzer (Spheres of Justice [1983]) by Tuckness,A/Wolf,C - This is Political Philosophy 3 'Complex'
     A reaction: Put like that, Walzer's complex equality becomes very interesting, and pinpoints a major problem of our age, where discrepancies of wealth have become staggeringly large at the top end.
Political equality is not much use without social equality [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: As Marx observed, and as women have learnt to their cost, equal political rights are worth fighting for, but they are of little value if one is still treated unequally in day-to-day life.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 3 'Participatory')
     A reaction: In fact social equality comes first, because that will imply political equality and financial justice. I think it is all covered under the virtue of 'respect', which should have pre-eminence in both public and private life.
Standard rights: life, free speech, assembly, movement, vote, stand (plus shelter, food, health?) [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: The normal liberal basic rights are right to life, free speech, free assembly and freedom of movement, plus the rights to vote and stand for office. Some theorists add the right to a decent living standard (shelter, food and health care).
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 4 'Liberty')
     A reaction: I think he has forgotten to add education. In Britain Beatrice Webb seems to have single-handedly added the living standard group to the list.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 3. Social Equality / d. Economic equality
Equality is complex, with different spheres of equality where different principles apply [Walzer, by Swift]
     Full Idea: Michael Walzer argues for 'complex equality', saying different goods belong to different distributive 'spheres', each with its own distributive principles.
     From: report of Michael Walzer (Spheres of Justice [1983]) by Adam Swift - Political Philosophy (3rd ed) 3 'Egalitarian'
     A reaction: Sounds interesting. Equality seems to make different demands when it concerns basic food for survival, or fine wines. You can spend your money freely, but hording in a crisis is frowned on.
Inequalities are needed, as incentives to do the most important jobs [Swift]
     Full Idea: Without inequalities, people will have no incentive to do one job rather than another - to do the kind of work which is most useful.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 1 'Rawls')
     A reaction: The reality is that the lowest pay goes to the jobs that no one wants to do, and all the really nice jobs are usually well paid. Which is a conspiracy, because all the salaries are set by the people with the nice jobs.
A person can desire redistibution of wealth, without it being for reasons of equality [Swift]
     Full Idea: Someone who rejects equality can care passionately that resources should be transferred from the rich to the poor. They are just rejecting a particular reason that might be offered to justify the redistribution.
     From: Adam Swift (Political Philosophy (3rd ed) [2014], 3 'Intro')
     A reaction: For example, it might be for utilitarian reasons, which usually only seek maximised happiness, not equal happiness. And one may love many forms of equality, without economic equality being one of them.
If there is no suffering, wealth inequalities don't matter much [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: It is hard to get worked up over wealth inequalities if no one is suffering from them!
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 3 'Deprivation')
     A reaction: The more the poorer group resent the inequality, the more they suffer. When is resenting huge inequalities in wealth justified? It depends how the big wealth was obtained.
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 4. Right to Punish / b. Retribution for crime
How should the punishment fit the crime (for stealing chickens?) [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: One criticism of the retributive theory of punishment is that it is hard to know how to fit the punishment to the crime. What punishment should correspond to stealing chickens?
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 7 'Rationales')
     A reaction: The ancient world was more keen on restitution for such crimes, which makes much better sense. Buy them some chickens, plus twenty percent.
25. Society / E. State Functions / 1. The Law / a. Legal system
Positive law needs secondary 'rules of recognition' for their correct application [Hart,HLA, by Zimmermann,J]
     Full Idea: Hart says we have secondary legal 'rules of recognition', by which primary positive law is recognised and applied in a regulated manner.
     From: report of H.L.A. Hart (The Concept of Law [1961]) by Jens Zimmermann - Hermeneutics: a very short introduction 6 'Rules'
     A reaction: The example of the authority of a particular court is given.
If being subject to the law resembles a promise, we are morally obliged to obey it [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: One of the more common reasons people will give for having a moral obligation to obey the law is consent. ...It rests on the intuitively appealing idea of an analogy with a promise.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 6 'Consent')
     A reaction: [They cite Locke and Jefferson] In Locke's case it has to be a 'tacit' promise, which is more realistic. In real life we have problems with people who 'said' they would do something. They are often accused of promising, when they didn't.
If others must obey laws that we like, we must obey laws that they like? [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: If we expect others to obey the laws we think just, do we have an obligation to obey the laws that other people think just?
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 6 'What should')
     A reaction: Depends whether you have to be consistent about everything. I'm picky about which laws I obey, but I'm not going to tell you that, in case you get the same idea. Free riders.
25. Society / E. State Functions / 1. The Law / b. Natural law
Justice, the law, and right reason are natural and not conventional [Chrysippus, by Diog. Laertius]
     Full Idea: Chrysippus says (in On the Honourable) that justice is natural and not conventional, as are the law and right reason.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Diogenes Laertius - Lives of Eminent Philosophers 07.128
     A reaction: How does he explain variations in the law between different states? Presumably some of them have got it wrong. What is the criterion for deciding which laws are natural?
We should obey the laws of nature, provided other people are also obeying them [Hobbes, by Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Hobbes's position is that we have a duty to obey the Laws of Nature when others around us are known (or can reasonably be expected) to be obeying them too, and so our compliance will not be exploited.
     From: report of Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan [1651]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 1 'Hobbes'
     A reaction: In particular, we should keep contracts. Hobbes doesn't seem fully committed to keeping facts and values separate.
Natural law theorists fear that without morality, law could be based on efficiency [Zimmermann,J]
     Full Idea: Natural law theorists fear that by denying the intrinsic connection between law and morality, positivists could encourage the validation of law based on efficiency alone.
     From: Jens Zimmermann (Hermeneutics: a very short introduction [2015], 6 'Natural')
     A reaction: The law's the law. The issue can only be whether one can ever be justified in breaking a law, and that isn't a legal question. I am sympathetic to the positiviists.
Instead of against natural law, we might assess unjust laws against the values of the culture [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Do we need natural law theory in order to make sense of the idea that laws can be unjust? Perhaps not: we might consider whether laws are consistent with the values of the culture or society where they apply.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 5 'Unjust')
     A reaction: So were the wicked laws passed by the Nazis consistent with 1930s German culture? Impossible to say.
25. Society / E. State Functions / 1. The Law / c. Legal positivism
The existence of law is one thing, its merits and demerits another [Austin,J]
     Full Idea: The existence of law is one thing; its merit and demerit another. Whether it be or be not is one enquiry; whether it be or be not conformable to an assumed standard is a different enquiry.
     From: John Austin (Lectures on Jurisprudence [1858], p.214), quoted by Jens Zimmermann - Hermeneutics: a very short introduction 6 'Positivism'
     A reaction: It is impossible to contest this point, but the issue is whether there is nothing more to law than its written existence.
Hart replaced positivism with the democratic requirement of the people's acceptance [Hart,HLA, by Zimmermann,J]
     Full Idea: Hart replaced Austin's concept of positive law as sovereign command with a more democratic ideal. In modern law-based societies the authority of law depends on the people's acceptance of a law's enduring validity.
     From: report of H.L.A. Hart (The Concept of Law [1961]) by Jens Zimmermann - Hermeneutics: a very short introduction 6 'Hart'
     A reaction: Presumably the ancestor of this view is the social contract of Hobbes and Locke.
Following some laws is not a moral matter; trivial traffic rules, for example [Wolff,J]
     Full Idea: Some laws have little grounding in morality. You may believe you have a moral obligation to stop at a red light at a deserted crossroads, but only because that is what the law tells you to do.
     From: Jonathan Wolff (An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) [2006], 2 'Goal')
     A reaction: I would have thought such a law was wholly grounded in the morality of teamwork. It is the problem of rule utilitarianism, and also a problem about virtuous character. The puzzle is not the law, but the strict obedience to it.
25. Society / E. State Functions / 2. Taxation
Financing is increasingly through credit rather than taxes; people prefer investing to taxation [Harari]
     Full Idea: The European conquest of the world was increasingly financed through credit rather than taxes. …Nobody wants to pay taxes, but everyone is happy to invest.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 16 'Columbus')
     A reaction: This is presumably the mechanism that drives the unstoppable increase of the gulf between the rich and the poor in modern times. With investment, the rich get richer.
25. Society / E. State Functions / 4. Education / d. History study
The more you know about history, the harder it becomes to explain [Harari]
     Full Idea: A distinguishing mark of history is that the better you know a historical period, the harder it becomes to explain why things happened one way and not another.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 13 'Hindsight')
     A reaction: Presumaby that means it resembles statistics. Each individual reading is perplexing, but some patterns emerge on the large scale.
History teaches us that the present was not inevitable, and shows us the possibilities [Harari]
     Full Idea: We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and the we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we can imagine.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 13 'Hindsight')
     A reaction: On the whole winners forget history, and losers are branded through and through with it. If you don't know history, you can never understand the latter group.
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. War
People at home care far more than soldiers risking death about the outcome of wars [Montaigne]
     Full Idea: How many soldiers put themselves at risk every day in wars which they care little about, rushing into danger in battles the loss of which will not make them lose a night's sleep. Meanwhile a man at home is more passionate about the war than the soldier.
     From: Michel de Montaigne (III.10 On Restraining your Will [1580], p.1139)
     A reaction: It depends whether you are a mercenary (which the majority probably were in 1680), and what are the implications of defeat.
Real peace is the implausibility of war (and not just its absence) [Harari]
     Full Idea: Real peace is not the mere absence of war. Real peace is the implausibility of war.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 18 'Pax')
     A reaction: I have a nasty feeling that war only becomes implausible because it hasn't happened for a long time. War looked implausible for Britain in 1890. War certainly now looks implausible in western Europe.
During wars: proportional force, fair targets, fair weapons, safe prisoners, no reprisals [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Classical just war theory during a war: force must be proportional; only legitimate targets; avoid prohibited weapons; safety for prisoners of war; no reprisals.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 9 'In the conduct')
     A reaction: What of massacre if a besieged city refuses to surrender? It was commonplace, and sometimes the only way to achieve victory. What if the enemy breaks all the rules? Nice rules though. At the heart of civilisation.
Just wars: resist aggression, done on just cause, proportionate, last resort, not futile, legal [Tuckness/Wolf]
     Full Idea: Classical just war theory: resist aggression; just cause must be the real reason; must be proportionate; last resort; not futile; made by a nation's authority.
     From: Tuckness,A/Wolf,C (This is Political Philosophy [2017], 9 'Ius ad')
     A reaction: [My squashed summary of Tuckness and Wolf] A very helpful list, from Cicero, Augustine and Aquinas. So where is the sticking point for pacificts? Presumably it is never the last resort, and aggression should not answer aggression.
26. Natural Theory / A. Heart of Nature / 2. Natural Purpose
Covers are for shields, and sheaths for swords; likewise, all in the cosmos is for some other thing [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: Just as the cover was made for the sake of the shield, and the sheath for the sword, in the same way everything else except the cosmos was made for the sake of other things.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by M. Tullius Cicero - On the Nature of the Gods 2.37
     A reaction: Chrysippus was wise to stop at the cosmos. Similarly, religious teleology had better not ask about the purpose of God. What does he think pebbles are for? Nature is the source of stoic value, so it needs to be purposeful.
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 3. Space / a. Void
Growth and movement would not exist if there were no void to receive them [Democritus]
     Full Idea: They say that one argument for void is that otherwise local motion (that is, locomotion and growth) would not exist: for there would not seem to be motion if there were no void, for what is full is incapable of receiving anything.
     From: Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A019), quoted by Aristotle - Physics 213b03
     A reaction: The modern concept of a 'field' seems to have removed the possibility of a genuine 'void'.
Void is a kind of place, so it can't explain place [Aristotle]
     Full Idea: It is absurd to explain place by the void, as though this latter were not itself some kind of place.
     From: Aristotle (On the Heavens [c.336 BCE], 309b24)
     A reaction: Presumably this is aimed at Democritus.
There is no void in the cosmos, but indefinite void outside it [Zeno of Citium, by Ps-Plutarch]
     Full Idea: Zeno and his followers say that there is no void within the cosmos but an indefinite void outside it.
     From: report of Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]) by Pseudo-Plutarch - On the Doctrine of the Philosophers 884a
     A reaction: Only atomists (such as Epicureans) need void within the cosmos, as space within which atoms can move. What would they make of modern 'fields'? Posidonius later said there was sufficient, but not infinite, void.
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 3. Space / d. Substantival space
Space and its contents seem to be one stuff - so space is the only existing thing [Wolfram]
     Full Idea: It seems plausible that both space and its contents should somehow be made of the same stuff - so that in a sense space becomes the only thing in the universe.
     From: Stephen Wolfram (A New Kind of Science [2002], p.474), quoted by Peter Watson - Convergence 17 'Philosophy'
     A reaction: I presume the concept of a 'field' is what makes this idea possible.
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 4. Time / e. Existence of time
If there were many cosmoses, each would have its own time, giving many times [Aristotle]
     Full Idea: If there were a plurality of heavens, in the same way the movement of each of them would be a time, so that many times would coexist.
     From: Aristotle (Physics [c.337 BCE], 218b3)
     A reaction: I take it that for Aristotle this is an absurdity, but for a modern cosmologist this is a real possibility. So which one is fastest? Can God rank them according to speed?
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 4. Time / f. Presentism
The present does not exist, so our immediate experience is actually part past and part future [Chrysippus, by Plutarch]
     Full Idea: Stoics do not allow a minimal time to exist, and do not want to have a partless 'now'; so what one thinks one has grasped as present is in part future and in part past.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Plutarch - On Common Conceptions 1081c
     A reaction: [from lost On Parts Bk3-5] I agree with the ontology here, but I take our grasp of the present to be very short-term memory of the past. I ignore special relativity. Chrysippus expressed two views about this; in the other one he was a Presentist.
Time is continous and infinitely divisible, so there cannot be a wholly present time [Chrysippus, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: Chrysippus says most clearly that no time is wholly present; for since the divisibility of continuous things is infinite, time as a whole is also subject to infinite divisibility by this method of division.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 1.08.42
     A reaction: But what is his reason for thinking that time is a continuous thing? There is a minimum time in quantum mechanics (the Planck Time), but do these quantum intervals overlap? Compare Idea 20819.
The past and the future subsist, but only the present exists [Chrysippus, by Plutarch]
     Full Idea: When he wished to be subtle, Chrysippus wrote that the past part of time and the future part do not exist but subsist, and only the present exists.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by Plutarch - On Common Conceptions 1081f
     A reaction: [from lost On Void] I think I prefer the ontology of Idea 20818. Idea 20819 does not offer an epistemology. Is the present substantial enough to be known? The word 'subsist' is an ontological evasion (even though Russell briefly relied on it).
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 4. Time / i. Time and change
Time is an interval of motion, or the measure of speed [Posidonius, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: Posidonius defined time thus: it is an interval of motion, or the measure of speed and slowness.
     From: report of Posidonius (works [c.95 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 1.08.42
     A reaction: Hm. Can we define motion or speed without alluding to time? Looks like we have to define them as a conjoined pair, which means we cannot fully understand either of them.
Only heat distinguishes past from future [Rovelli]
     Full Idea: It is always heat and only heat that distinguishes the past from the future.
     From: Carlo Rovelli (Reality is Not What it Seems [2014], 12)
     A reaction: I can remember the past but not the future - so can that fact be reduced to facts about heat?
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 5. Space-Time
Space-time is indeterminate foam over short distances [Close]
     Full Idea: At very short distances, space-time itself becomes some indeterminate foam.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 6 'Intro')
     A reaction: [see Close for a bit more detail of this weird idea]
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / g. Eliminating causation
The Uncertainty Principle implies that cause and effect can't be measured [Watson]
     Full Idea: The Uncertainty Principle implied that in the subatomic world cause and effect could never be measured.
     From: Peter Watson (Convergence [2016], 05 'Against')
     A reaction: The fact that it can't be measured does not, presumably, entail that it doesn't exist. Physicists seem to ignore causation, rather than denying it. Can causation be real if it only exists at the macro-level, as an emergent phenomenon?
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 3. General Causation / d. Causal necessity
That events could be uncaused is absurd; I only say intuition and demonstration don't show this [Hume]
     Full Idea: I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause: I only maintained that our certainty of the falsehood of that proposition proceeded neither from intuition nor from demonstration, but from another source.
     From: David Hume (Letters [1739], 1754), quoted by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion 5 'God'
     A reaction: Since the other source is habit, he is being a bit disingenuous. While rational intuition and demonstration give a fairly secure basis for the universality of causation, mere human habits of expectation give very feeble grounds.
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 1. Laws of Nature
General relativity assumes laws of nature are the same in all frames of reference [Close]
     Full Idea: Einstein came to general relativity from the principles that the laws of nature are the same in all frames of reference.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 5 'Cosmological')
     A reaction: I wish physicists would tell us a bit more about the ontological status of the 'laws of nature'. Presumably they are not supernatural, so there is an aspect of nature which is constant in all frames of reference. Explanation please.
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 1. Matter / c. Atoms
Atoms cling together, until a stronger necessity disperses them [Democritus, by Aristotle]
     Full Idea: Democritus thinks that the substances hold on to one another and remain together for a length of time until some stronger necessity arising from their surroundings shakes and disperses them.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A037) by Aristotle - On Democritus (frag)
     A reaction: [quoted in Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotle's On the Heavens] He's not wrong. This seems to provide a mechanism for the Heracltean flux. Ancient critics wanted to know where the 'stronger necessity' came from.
Atoms are irregular, hooked, concave, convex, and many other shapes [Democritus, by Aristotle]
     Full Idea: Some substances are irregular, others hook-shaped, other concave, other convex, others provided with innumerable other differences.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A037) by Aristotle - On Democritus (frag)
     A reaction: [quoted in Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotle's On the Heavens] 'Substance' here means a fundamental object, which for Democritus is an undividable atom.
There could be an atom the size of the world [Democritus, by Ps-Plutarch]
     Full Idea: Democritus say that it is possible that there exists an atom of the size of the world.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A047) by Pseudo-Plutarch - On the Doctrine of the Philosophers 1.12.6
     A reaction: The editor says this may have been a criticism of Democritus - presumably a reductio ad absurdum. But Democritus has no upper limit on the size of an atom. It challenges the imagination to treat such a huge thing as indivisible.
The basic atoms are without qualities - which only arise from encounters between atoms [Democritus, by Galen]
     Full Idea: Democritus and the Epicureans posit that the first element is without quality, possessing by nature neither whiteness, blackness, sweetness or bitterness, warmth or cold. ...It is from the encounter of the atoms that all the sensible qualities come about.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A049) by Galen - On Hippocrates and Plato 1.2
     A reaction: Idea 493 comes in the middle of this summary by Galen. Hence atoms play the role that substrates play in object-based metaphysics. So atoms have the same problem. Is the shape of an atom a quality of an atom. Or are qualities what atoms DO?
Democritus says atoms have size and shape, and Epicurus added weight [Epicurus, by Ps-Plutarch]
     Full Idea: Democritus said that the properties of the atoms are in number two, magnitude and shape, but Epicurus added to these a third one, weight.
     From: report of Epicurus (works (fragments) [c.290 BCE]) by Pseudo-Plutarch - On the Doctrine of the Philosophers 1.3.18
     A reaction: The addition of Epicurus seems very sensible, and an odd omission by Democritus. He seems to think that atoms have a uniform density, so that volume indicates weight.
How can things without weight compose weight? [Alexander]
     Full Idea: How could weight come about out of things composed of what is without weight?
     From: Alexander (On Aristotle's Metaphysics Book 2 [c.200], p.36.21-27)
     A reaction: This is obviously why Epicurus added weight to the features of atoms. Alexander seems unaware of this move.
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 1. Matter / e. Greek elements
Fire is a separate element, not formed with others (as was previously believed) [Chrysippus, by Stobaeus]
     Full Idea: In his theory fire is said independently to be an element, since it is not formed together with another one, whereas according to the earlier theory fire is formed with other elements.
     From: report of Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]) by John Stobaeus - Anthology 1.10.16c
     A reaction: The point is that fire precedes the other elements, and is superior to them.
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 1. Matter / h. Mass
Mass is a measure of energy content [Einstein]
     Full Idea: The mass of a body is the measure of its energy content.
     From: Albert Einstein (works [1915]), quoted by Peter Watson - Convergence 04 'Intro'
     A reaction: If I knew what energy was, this would be very illuminating. This idea is e=mc^2 in words. We now have the Higgs field to consider when trying to understand mass.
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 1. Matter / i. Modern matter
Modern theories of matter are grounded in heat, work and energy [Close]
     Full Idea: The link between temperature, heat, work and energy is at the root of our historical ability to construct theories of matter, such as Newton's dynamics, while ignoring, and indeed being ignorant of - atomic dimensions.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Arrow')
     A reaction: That is, presumably, that even when you fill in the atoms, and the standard model of physics, these aspects of matter do the main explaiining (of the behaviour, rather than of the structure).
Only four particles are needed for matter: up and down quark, electron, electron-neutrino [Watson]
     Full Idea: We need twelve particles in the master equation of the standard model, but it is necessary to have only four to build a universe (up and down quarks, the electron and the electron neutrino (or lepton). The existence of the others is 'a bit of a mystery'.
     From: Peter Watson (Convergence [2016], 11 'First Three')
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 1. Matter / j. Electrons
Dirac showed how electrons conform to special relativity [Close]
     Full Idea: In 1928 Paul Dirac discovered the quantum equation that describes the electron and conforms to the requirements special relativity theory.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: This sounds like a major step in the unification of physics. Quantum theory and General relativity remain irreconcilable.
Electrons get their mass by interaction with the Higgs field [Close]
     Full Idea: The electron gets its mass by interaction with the ubiquitous Higgs field.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 6 'Hierarchy')
     A reaction: I thought I understood mass until I read this. Is it just wrong to say the mass of a table is the 'amount of stuff' in it?
Electrons rotate in hyrogen atoms 10^13 times per second [Watson]
     Full Idea: In the hydrogen atom the electron rotates some 10,000 billion times per second.
     From: Peter Watson (Convergence [2016], 18 'Evolutionary')
     A reaction: That's an awful lot. Is it at the speed of light?
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 1. Matter / k. Fields
The Higgs field is an electroweak plasma - but we don't know what stuff it consists of [Close]
     Full Idea: In 2012 it was confirmed that we are immersed in an electroweak plasma - the Higgs field. We curently have no knowledge of what this stuff might consist of.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 4 'Higgs')
     A reaction: The second sentence has my full attention. So we don't understand a field properly until we understand the 'stuff' it is made of? So what are all the familiar fields made of? Tell me more!
Quantum fields contain continual rapid creation and disappearance [Close]
     Full Idea: Quantum field theory implies that the vacuum of space is filled with particles and antiparticles which bubble in and out of existence on faster and faster timescales over shorter and shorter distances.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 6 'Intro')
     A reaction: Ponder this sentence until you head aches. Existence, but not as we know it, Jim. Close says calculations in QED about the electron confirm this.
Electric fields have four basic laws (two by Gauss, one by Ampère, one by Faraday) [Close]
     Full Idea: Four basic laws of electric and magnetic fields: Gauss's Law (about the flux produced by a field), Gauss's law of magnets (there can be no monopoles), Ampère's Law (fields on surfaces), and Farday's Law (accelerated magnets produce fields).
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: [Highly compressed, for an overview. Close explains them]
In QED, electro-magnetism exists in quantum states, emitting and absorbing electrons [Close]
     Full Idea: Direct created quantum electrodynamics (QED): the universal electro-magnetic field can exist in discreet states of energy (with photons appearing and disappearing by energy excitations. This combined classical ideas, quantum theory and special relativity.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: Close says this is the theory of everything in atomic structure, but not in nuclei (which needs QCD and QFD). So if there are lots of other 'fields' (e.g. gravitational, weak, strong, Higgs), how do they all fit together? Do they talk to one another?
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 1. Matter / l. Quantum theory
Quantum theory explains why nature is made up of units, such as elements [Watson]
     Full Idea: Planck's quantum idea explained so much, including the observation that the chemical world is made up of discrete units - the elements. Discrete elements implied fundamental units of matter that were themselves discrete (as Dalton had said).
     From: Peter Watson (Convergence [2016], 4 'Intro')
     A reaction: The atomic theory was only finally confirmed by Einstein in 1905. This idea implies that the very lowest level of all must have distinct building blocks, but so far we have got down to 'fields', which seem to be a sort of 'foam'.
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 4. Energy
Heat is a state of vibration, not a substance [Joule]
     Full Idea: We consider heat not as a substance but as a state of vibration.
     From: James Joule (works [1870]), quoted by Peter Watson - Convergence 01 'Nature's'
     A reaction: The puzzle is that giving accurate accounts of vibrations, heat and movement require a quantitative substance, energy. But all we have here is movement, and the denial of a substance. Energy is 'nature's currency system'.
Helmholtz used 'energy' to mathematically link heat, light, electricity and magnetism [Helmholtz]
     Full Idea: Helmholtz provided the requisite mathematical formulation linking heat, light, electricity and magnetism, by treating these phenomena as different manifestations of 'energy'.
     From: Hermann von Helmholtz (On the Conservation of Force [1847]), quoted by Peter Watson - Convergence 01 'Human'
     A reaction: I'm increasingly struck by the neglect by philosophers of nature of these amazing developments in 19th century physics, because they prefer the excitement of the latest nuclear physics. There is more philosophical interest in the earlier stages.
Energy has progressed from a mere formula, to a principle pervading all nature [Kelvin]
     Full Idea: The name 'energy', first used by Thomas Young, has come into use after it was raised from a mere formula of mathematical dynamics to become a principle pervading all nature, and guiding every field of science.
     From: Lord Kelvin (Wm Thomson) (works [1881]), quoted by Peter Watson - Convergence 01 'Principle'
     A reaction: [bit compressed] As far as I can see energy behaves exactly as if it were a substance, like water conserved in rainfalls, and yet it isn't a stuff, and seems to result from a process of abstraction. I take it to be one of the biggest mysteries in physics.
First Law: energy can change form, but is conserved overall [Close]
     Full Idea: The first law of thermodynamics : energy can be changed from one form to another, but is always conserved overall.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Perpetual')
     A reaction: So we have no idea what energy is, but we know it's conserved. (Daniel Bernoulli showed the greater the mean energy, the higher the temperature. James Joule showed the quantitative equivalence of heat and work p.26-7)
Third Law: total order and minimum entropy only occurs at absolute zero [Close]
     Full Idea: The third law of thermodynamics says that a hypothetical state of total order and minimum entropy can be attained only at the absolute zero temperature, minus 273 degrees Celsius.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Arrow')
     A reaction: If temperature is energetic movement of atoms (or whatever), then obviously zero movement is the coldest it can get. So is absolute zero an energy state, or an absence of energy? I have no idea what 'total order' means.
Work degrades into heat, but not vice versa [Close]
     Full Idea: William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, declared (in 1865) the second law of thermodynamics: mechanical work inevitably tends to degrade into heat, but not vice versa.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Perpetual')
     A reaction: The basis of entropy, which makes time an essential part of physics. Might this be the single most important fact about the physical world?
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 5. Light
Electro-magnetic waves travel at light speed - so light is electromagnetism! [Close]
     Full Idea: Faradays' measurements predicted the speed of electro-magnetic waves, which happened to be the speed of light, so Maxwell made an inspired leap: light is an electromagnetic wave!
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: Put that way, it doesn't sound like an 'inspired' leap, because travelling at exactly the same speed seems a pretty good indication that they are the same sort of thing. (But I'm not denying that Maxwell was a special guy!)
Light isn't just emitted in quanta called photons - light is photons [Close]
     Full Idea: Planck had assumed that light is emitted in quanta called photons. Einstein went further - light is photons.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: The point is that light travels as entities which are photons, rather than the emissions being quantized packets of some other stuff.
In general relativity the energy and momentum of photons subjects them to gravity [Close]
     Full Idea: In Einstein's general theory, gravity acts also on energy and momentum, not simply on mass. For example, massless photons of light feel the gravitational attraction of the Sun and can be deflected.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 5 'Planck')
     A reaction: Ah, a puzzle solved. How come massless photons are bent by gravity?
Photon exchange drives the electro-magnetic force [Close]
     Full Idea: The exchange of photons drives the electro-magnetic force.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 6 'Superstrings')
     A reaction: So light, which we just think of as what is visible, is a mere side-effect of the engine room of nature - the core mechanism of the whole electro-magnetic field.
The interference of light through two slits confirmed that it is waves [Watson]
     Full Idea: Thomas Young in 1803 confirmed the idea of Huyghens that light is waves, showing how light passing through two slits produces an interference pattern that resembles water waves sluicing through two slits.
     From: Peter Watson (Convergence [2016], 04 'Conception')
     A reaction: The great puzzle emerges when it also turns out to be quantised particles.
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 6. Special Relativity
The electric and magnetic are tightly linked, and viewed according to your own motion [Close]
     Full Idea: Electric and magnetic phenomena are profoundly intertwined; what you interpret as electric or magnetic thus depends on your own motion.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: This sounds like an earlier version of special relativity.
All motions are relative and ambiguous, but acceleration is the same in all inertial frames [Close]
     Full Idea: There is no absolute state of rest; only relative motions are unambiguous. Contrast this with acceleration, however, which has the same magnitude in all inertial frames.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Newton's')
     A reaction: It seems important to remember this, before we start trumpeting about the whole of physics being relative. ....But see Idea 20634!
27. Natural Reality / B. Chemistry / 1. Chemistry
The shape of molecules is important, as well as the atoms and their bonds [Watson]
     Full Idea: Pauling showed that the architecture - the shape of molecules was relevant (as well as the bonds). This meant that molecules were just as important as atoms in the understanding of matter. Molecules were not just the sum of their parts.
     From: Peter Watson (Convergence [2016], 05 'Three')
     A reaction: If Aristotle struggled to understand matter, then so should modern philosophers. This involves thermodynamics and chemistry, as well as quantum theory.
27. Natural Reality / C. Biology / 2. Life
In 1828 the animal substance urea was manufactured from inorganic ingredients [Watson]
     Full Idea: In 1828 Wöhler, in an iconic experiment, had manufactured an organic substance, urea, hitherto the product solely of animals, out of inorganic materials, and without any interventions of vital force.
     From: Peter Watson (Convergence [2016], 06 'Inorganic')
     A reaction: For reductionists like me, the gradual explanation of life in inorganic terms is the great role model of explanation. I take it for granted that the human mind will go the same way, despite partisan resistance from a lot of philosophers.
Information is physical, and living can be seen as replicating and preserving information [Watson]
     Full Idea: In passing information, physical changes take place, and information is thus physical. On this account, the act of living can be seen as replicating and preserving the information that a living body is comprised of.
     From: Peter Watson (Convergence [2016], 17 'Dreams')
     A reaction: [He emphasises 'the act' of living, rather than a life]
27. Natural Reality / D. Cosmology / 1. Cosmology
There are unlimited worlds of varying sizes, some without life or water [Democritus, by Hippolytus]
     Full Idea: Democritus says that there exist unlimited worlds and that they are different in magnitude. ...Some worlds are devoid of animals and plants and of all humidity.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A010, A040) by Hippolytus - Refutation of All Heresies 1.12,13.2-4
     A reaction: I'm not clear why Democritus came up with the idea of the Multicosmos. I don't suppose he meant the moon or planets, but another Cosmos.
Since the cosmos produces what is alive and rational, it too must be alive and rational [Zeno of Citium]
     Full Idea: Nothing which lacks life and reason can produce from itself something which is alive and rational; but the cosmos can produce from itself things which are alive and rational; therefore the cosmos is alive and rational.
     From: Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]), quoted by M. Tullius Cicero - On the Nature of the Gods 2.22
     A reaction: Eggs and sperm don't seem to be rational, but I don't suppose they count. I note that this is presented as a formal proof, when actually it is just an evaluation of evidence. Logic as rhetoric, I would say.
27. Natural Reality / D. Cosmology / 2. Beginning
The cosmos is regularly consumed and reorganised by the primary fire [Stoic school, by Aristocles]
     Full Idea: At certain fated times the entire cosmos goes up in flames and then is organised again. And the primary fire is like a kind of seed, containing the rational principles and cause of all things and events, past, present and future.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Aristocles - works
     A reaction: [in Eusebius] I wonder why the stoics thought this? Is it just spring cleaning? So is each cycle different? Does that mean that the primary fire was different at each seminal event? What made it different? Or is it eternal recurrence?
27. Natural Reality / D. Cosmology / 5. General Relativity
Newton is a special case of Einstein's general theory, with an infinite speed of light [Close]
     Full Idea: Einstein's general relativity included Newton's theory as a special case: Newton's theory corresponds to the speed of light being infinite relative to the speed of the interacting bodies.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 5 'Gravity')
     A reaction: So Newton's theory was NOT wrong, but he made the false assumption that the speed of light was infinite.
General Relativity says there is no absolute force or acceleration [Close]
     Full Idea: Einstein's General Theory arose from the idea that there is no absolute measure of force and acceleration.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 5 'Gravity')
     A reaction: If absolutely everything is only true relative to something else you wonder what the point of measuring anything is. How big can a 'frame of reference' or 'inertial frame' be. Is the multiverse a frame of reference?
The general relativity equations relate curvature in space-time to density of energy-momentum [Close]
     Full Idea: The essence of general relativity relates 'curvature in space-time' on one side of the equation to the 'density of momentum and energy' on the other. ...In full, Einstein required ten equations of this type.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 5 'Gravity')
     A reaction: Momentum involves mass, and energy is equivalent to mass (e=mc^2).
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 2. Divine Nature
We can approach knowledge of God by negative attributes [Maimonides]
     Full Idea: You will come nearer to the knowledge and comprehension of God by the negative attributes.
     From: Moses Maimonides (The Guide of the Perplexed [1190], p.86), quoted by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion 2 'Negation'
     A reaction: Illustrated by grasping what a ship is by eliminating other categories it might belong to. The assumption is that you have a known and finite list - something like Aristotle's categories. Maimonides fears we know too little for positive attributes.
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 5. Divine Morality / a. Divine morality
The origin of justice can only be in Zeus, and in nature [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: One can find no other starting point or origin for justice except the one derived from Zeus and that derived from the common nature; for everything like this must have that starting point, if we are going to say anything at all about good and bad things.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by Plutarch - 70: Stoic Self-contradictions 1035c
     A reaction: [in lost 'On Gods' bk 3] This appears to offer two starting points, in the mind of Zeus, and in nature, though since nature is presumed to be rational the two may run together. Is Zeus the embodiment, or the unconscious source, or the maker of decrees?
Can God be good, if he has not maximised goodness? [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: We may wonder whether God can be good since he has not produced more moral goodness than he has. We may wonder whether God is guilty by neglect.
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 3 'Freedom')
     A reaction: The orthodox response is that we cannot possibly know what the maximum of moral goodness would look like, so we can't make this judgement. Atheists say that God fails by human standards, which are not particularly high.
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 5. Divine Morality / c. God is the good
The goodness of God may be a higher form than the goodness of moral agents [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: If we can know that God exists and if God's goodness is not moral goodness, then moral goodness is not the highest form of goodness we know. There is the goodness of God to be reckoned with.
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 3 'Goodness')
     A reaction: This idea is to counter the charge that God fails to meet human standards for an ideal moral agent. But it sounds hand-wavy, since we presumably cannot comprehend the sort of goodness that is postulated here.
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 5. Divine Morality / d. God decrees morality
How could God have obligations? What law could possibly impose them? [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: We have good reason for resisting the suggestion that God has any duties or obligations. …What can oblige God in relation to his creatures? Could there be a law saying God has such obligations? Where does such a law come from?
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 3 'Goodness')
     A reaction: Plato can answer this question. Greek gods are not so supreme that nothing could put them under an obligation, but 'God' has to be supreme in every respect.
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 6. God and Time
God is 'eternal' either by being non-temporal, or by enduring forever [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: Saying 'God is eternal' means either that God is non-temporal or timeless, or that God has no beginning and no end. The first ('classical') view is found in Anselm, Augustine, Boethius, Aquinas, Calvin and Descartes.
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 8 'Meaning')
     A reaction: A God who is outside of time but performs actions is a bit of a puzzle. It seems that Augustine started the idea of a timeless God.
28. God / B. Proving God / 1. Proof of God
'Natural theology' aims to prove God to anyone (not just believers) by reason or argument [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: 'Natural theology' is the attempt to show that belief in God's existence can be defended with reference to reason or argument which ought to be acceptable to anyone, not simply to those who believe in God's existence.
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 1 'Other')
     A reaction: I assume by 'reason or argument' he primarily means evidence (plus the ontological argument). He cites Karl Barth as objecting to the assumption of natural theology (preferring revelation). Presumably Kierkegaard offers a rival view too.
28. God / C. Proofs of Reason / 1. Ontological Proof
Rational is better than non-rational; the cosmos is supreme, so it is rational [Zeno of Citium]
     Full Idea: That which is rational is better than that which is not rational; but there is nothing better than the cosmos; therefore, the cosmos is rational.
     From: Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE]), quoted by M. Tullius Cicero - On the Nature of the Gods 2.21
     A reaction: This looks awfully like Anselm's ontological argument to me. The cosmos was the greatest thing that Zeno could conceive.
A possible world contains a being of maximal greatness - which is existence in all worlds [Plantinga, by Davies,B]
     Full Idea: Plantinga reformulates Malcolm's argument thus: 1) There is a possible world in which there exists a being with maximal greatness, 2) A being has maximal greatness in a world only if it exists in every world.
     From: report of Alvin Plantinga (The Nature of Necessity [1974], p.213) by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion 4 'b Descartes'
     A reaction: This is only Plantinga's starting point, which says nothing about the nature of God, but only that this 'great' being exists in all worlds. I would like to know why it is a 'being' rather than a 'thing'. Malcolm says if it is possible it is necessary.
28. God / C. Proofs of Reason / 3. Moral Argument
God is not proved by reason, but is a postulate of moral thinking [Kant, by Davies,B]
     Full Idea: Kant speaks of God not as something known or proved to exist by virtue of rational argument, but as a postulate of moral reflection (that is, of 'practical reason').
     From: report of Immanuel Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]) by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion 9 'Morality'
     A reaction: Presumably it is a necessary postulate, which makes this a transcendental argument, surely?
God must be fit for worship, but worship abandons morally autonomy, but there is no God [Rachels, by Davies,B]
     Full Idea: Rachels argues 1) If any being is God, he must be a fitting object of worship, 2) No being could be a fitting object of worship, since worship requires the abandonment of one's role as an autonomous moral agent, so 3) There cannot be a being who is God.
     From: report of James Rachels (God and Human Attributes [1971], 7 p.334) by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion 9 'd morality'
     A reaction: Presumably Lionel Messi can be a fitting object of worship without being God. Since the problem is with being worshipful, rather than with being God, should I infer that Messi doesn't exist?
28. God / D. Proofs of Evidence / 1. Cosmological Proof
A distinct cause of the universe can't be material (which would be part of the universe) [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: If the universe was caused to come into being, it presumably could not have been caused to do so by anything material. For a material object would be part of the universe, and we are now asking for a cause distinct from the universe.
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 5 'God')
     A reaction: We're out of our depth here. We only have two modes of existence to offer, material and spiritual, and 'spiritual' means little more than non-material.
28. God / D. Proofs of Evidence / 2. Teleological Proof
God's eternal power and deity are clearly seen in what has been created [Paul]
     Full Idea: From the creation of the world God's invisible nature, namely his eternal power and deity, are clearly perceived in the things that have been made.
     From: St Paul (xx: 1 Romans [c.55], 19-21), quoted by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
     A reaction: St Paul says that for this reason the Gentiles are 'without excuse' for not believing (which means they are in trouble if Christians ever gain political power). Davies says it is unusual to find an argument for God's existence in the Bible.
The universe exhibits design either in its sense of purpose, or in its regularity [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: The design argument offers two lines: the first states that the universe displays design in the sense of purpose; the second that it displays design in the sense of regularity.
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 6 'Versions')
     A reaction: I would have thought that you would infer the purpose from the regularity. How could you see purpose in a totally chaotic universe?
28. God / D. Proofs of Evidence / 3. Teleological Proof critique
If God is an orderly being, he cannot be the explanation of order [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: If God is an instance of something orderly, how can he serve to account for the order of orderly things?
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 6 'b Has')
     A reaction: You can at least explain the tidiness of a house by the tidiness of its owner, but obviously that won't explain the phenomenon of tidiness.
28. God / D. Proofs of Evidence / 4. Religious Experience
Maybe an abnormal state of mind is needed to experience God? [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: Might it not be possible that experience of God requires an unusual state or psychological abnormality, just as an aerial view of Paris requires that one be in the unusual state of being abnormally elevated?
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 7 'Are the')
     A reaction: That would make sense if it were analogous to great mathematical or musical ability, but it sounds more like ouija boards in darkened rooms. Talent has a wonderful output, but people in mystical states don't return with proofs.
A believer can experience the world as infused with God [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: Maybe someone who believes in God can be regarded as experiencing everything as something behind which God lies. Believers see the world as a world in which God is present.
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 7 'Experiencing')
     A reaction: [Attributed to John Hick] This would count as supporting evidence for God, perhaps, if seeing reality as infused with God produces a consistent and plausible picture. But seeing reality as infused with other things might pass the same test.
The experiences of God are inconsistent, not universal, and untestable [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: A proclaimed experience of God must be rejected because a) there is no agreed test that it is such an experience, b) some people experience God's absence, and c) there is no uniformity of testimony about the experience.
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 7 'Objections')
     A reaction: [compressed] I'm not sure that absence of an experience is experience of an absence. Compare it with experiencing the greatness of Beethoven's Ninth.
28. God / D. Proofs of Evidence / 5. Miracles
False prophets will perform wonders to deceive even the elect [Mark]
     Full Idea: For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
     From: St Mark (02: Gospel of St Mark [c.66], 13:22), quoted by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
     A reaction: This casts a rather different light on the miracles of Jesus, since they were performed in a context in which even Jesus believed that lots of people (and not just the son of God) could perform miracles. Undermines any Argument from Miracles.
28. God / E. Attitudes to God / 2. Pantheism
The cosmos and heavens are the substance of god [Zeno of Citium]
     Full Idea: Zeno says that the entire cosmos and the heaven are the substance of god.
     From: Zeno (Citium) (works (fragments) [c.294 BCE])
29. Religion / A. Religious Thought / 2. Religious Meaning
One does not need a full understanding of God in order to speak of God [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: In order to speak meaningfully about God, it is not necessary that one should understand exactly the import of one's statements about him.
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 2 'Sayng')
     A reaction: Perfectly reasonable. To insist that all discussion of a thing requires exact understanding of the thing is ridiculous. Equally, though, to discuss God while denying all understanding of God is just as ridiculous.
29. Religion / B. Polytheistic Religion / 1. Animism
Animism is belief that every part of nature is aware and feeling, and can communicate [Harari]
     Full Idea: Animism is the belief that almost every place, every animal, every plant and every natural phenomenon has awareness and feelings, and can communicated direct with humans.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 03 'Talking')
     A reaction: So does this count as a 'supernatural' belief system? It seems not, if the awareness is integral to the natural feature, and dies with it. Panpsychism is not supernatural either. A problem for anyone trying to define Naturalism.
29. Religion / B. Polytheistic Religion / 2. Paganism
Most polytheist recognise one supreme power or law, behind the various gods [Harari]
     Full Idea: Polytheism does not necessarily dispute the existence of a single power or law governing the entire universe. Most poytheist and even animist religions recognised such a supreme power that stands behind all the different gods, demons and holy rocks.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 12 'Benefits')
     A reaction: Presumably this one supreme power was always taken to be too remote for communication or worship. Are the other gods seen as slaves, or friends, or ambassadors of the Supreme One?
Polytheism is open-minded, and rarely persecutes opponents [Harari]
     Full Idea: Polytheism is inherently open-minded, and rarely persecutes 'heretics' and 'infidels'.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 12 'Benefits')
     A reaction: The Old Testament tells of the Jews turning on local pagans, and India was presumably tolerant Hindus encountering less tolerant Muslims. Then there's Christians in Africa. Dreadful bunch, the monotheists. Romans killed very few Christians.
Mythologies are usual contracts with the gods, exchanging devotion for control of nature [Harari]
     Full Idea: Much of ancient mythology is a legal contract in which humans promise everlasting devotion to the gods in exchange for mastery over plants and animals.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 12 'Silencing')
     A reaction: [He cites the first book of Genesis] So how readily do you swith allegiance, if someone else's gods are more successful? Why be loyal a loser. It should be like shopping - but I bet it wasn't.
29. Religion / B. Polytheistic Religion / 4. Dualist Religion
Dualist religions see everything as a battleground of good and evil forces [Harari]
     Full Idea: Polytheism gave birth to monotheism, and to dualistic religions. Dualism explains that the entire universe is a battleground between good and evil forces, and everything that happens is part of that struggle.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 12 'Battle')
     A reaction: Presumably we are supposed to support the good guys, so the gods are not equals. God v Satan seems the right model, but Satan has to be beyond God's control, or else the problem of evil has to be solved. Empedocles held something like this.
Dualist religions say the cosmos is a battleground, so can’t explain its order [Harari]
     Full Idea: Dualist religions solve the problem of evil, but are unnerved by the Problem of Order. …If Good and Evil battle for control of the world, who enforces the laws governing this cosmic war?
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 12 'Battle')
     A reaction: You might explain it if one side was persistently winning, which is roughly God v Satan.
Manichaeans and Gnostics: good made spirit, evil made flesh [Harari]
     Full Idea: Manichaeans and Gnostics argued that the good god created the spirit and the soul, whereas matter and bodes are the creation of the evil god.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 12 'Battle')
     A reaction: Hm. What motivated the evil god to do that? The evil god's achievement looks a lot more impressive.
29. Religion / C. Monotheistic Religion / 1. Monotheism
In order to explain both order and evil, a single evil creator is best, but no one favours that [Harari]
     Full Idea: Monotheism explains order but not evil, and dualist religion explains evil but not order. One logical solution is a single omnipotent God who created the universe, and is evil - but nobody in history has had much stomach for that belief.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 12 'Battle')
     A reaction: Eh? Is there not also good, which also needs explaining? And there is some chaos to be explained too. Hume offers the best explanations. An inexperienced god, a team of squabbling gods, a god with shifting moods…. Study the facts first.
Monotheism appeared in Egypt in 1350 BCE, when the god Aten was declared supreme [Harari]
     Full Idea: The first monotheist religion known to us appeared in Egypt c.1350 BCE, when Pharaoh Akenaten declared that one of minor deities of the Egyptian pantheon, the god Aten, was in fact the supreme power ruling the universe.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 12 'God')
     A reaction: Zeus seems to have started like a tribal chief, and eventually turned into something like God.
29. Religion / C. Monotheistic Religion / 2. Judaism
Traditionally, God dictated the Torah to Moses, unlike the later biblical writings [Zimmermann,J]
     Full Idea: Jewish traditionalists hold that the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (the 'Torah') were dictated word for word by God to Moses, while the remaining sacred writings were more generally inspired.
     From: Jens Zimmermann (Hermeneutics: a very short introduction [2015], 5 'Inspiration')
     A reaction: This gives the Torah a similar status to the Quran, and presumably also to the actual words which are ascribed to Jesus in the four gospels.
29. Religion / C. Monotheistic Religion / 3. Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism saw the world as a battle between good evil gods [Harari]
     Full Idea: Zoroastrianism saw the world as a cosmic battle between the good god Ahura Mazda and the evil god Angra Mainyu.
     From: Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: brief history of humankind [2014], 12 'Battle')
     A reaction: Hm. This contradicts the impression I had gained that it was monotheist.
29. Religion / C. Monotheistic Religion / 4. Christianity / a. Christianity
We need to see that Christianity cannot be understood [Kierkegaard]
     Full Idea: The problem is not to understand Christianity, but to understand that it cannot be understood.
     From: Søren Kierkegaard (The Journals of Kierkegaard [1854], p.146), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 1 'Roots'
     A reaction: This seems to cut us intellectually adrift. We could say the same of supporting Real Madrid. There has to be some magnetism which holds our attention, and there must be something to say about that.
Punish the heretic, but be indulgent to the sinner [Weber]
     Full Idea: The rule of the Catholic church is 'punishing the heretic, but indulgent of the sinner'.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], 1)
     A reaction: Weber cites this as if it is a folklore saying. It seems to fit the teachings of Jesus, who is intensely keen on unwavering faith, but very kind to those who stray morally. Hence Graham Greene novels, all about sinners.
Protestantism brought the modern emphasis on inner states of the soul [Aho]
     Full Idea: An important development in the formation of the modern worldview was the emergence of Protestantism, that reconfigured the self by privileging the inner states of the soul. Salvation concerns inner feelings, thoughts and desires, which can be genuine.
     From: Kevin Aho (Existentialism: an introduction [2014], 1 'Emergence')
     A reaction: [bit compressed] He is preparing the historical background for the existentialist concept of authenticity. We can link this Protestant idea with Descartes's Cogito, which grounds knowledge in the inner self.
29. Religion / D. Spiritual Disciplines / 3. Buddhism
Four Noble Truths: life is suffering, caused by attachment, it is avoidable, there is a path [Aho]
     Full Idea: The teachings of the Buddha are summarised in 'four noble truths': 1) life means suffering, 2) the origin of suffering is attachment, 3) the end of suffering is attainable, and 4) the path to the end of suffering.
     From: Kevin Aho (Existentialism: an introduction [2014], 9 'dukkha')
     A reaction: 1) and 2) summarise everything I dislike about most eastern philosophy. In the modern world life does not have to be suffering. To break off attachments in order to avoid suffering is a hideous injunction.
29. Religion / E. Immortality / 1. Immortality
The soul is destroyed with the body [Democritus, by Ps-Plutarch]
     Full Idea: Democritus says the soul is destructible, and is destroyed together with the whole body.
     From: report of Democritus (works (fragments) [c.431 BCE], A109) by Pseudo-Plutarch - On the Doctrine of the Philosophers 4.7.4
     A reaction: This is the only belief possible for Democritus, since everything, including life and soul, is just the confluence of atoms, and they are regularly dispersed. This is the epitome of materialist philosophy.
Virtuous souls endure till the end, foolish souls for a short time, animal souls not at all [Stoic school, by Eusebius]
     Full Idea: They say the soul of the virtuous man lasts until the breakdown of everything into fire, but that of fools only for a certain length of time. But the souls of the imprudent and irrational animals ae destroyed with their bodies.
     From: report of Stoic school (works [c.200 BCE]) by Eusebius - Preparation for the Gospel 15.20.6-7
     A reaction: We are half way to the Christian heaven as the reward for the good life. We just need to add hell….
29. Religion / E. Immortality / 2. Soul
Death can't separate soul from body, because incorporeal soul can't unite with body [Chrysippus]
     Full Idea: Death is a separation of soul from body. But nothing incorporeal can be separated from a body. For neither does anything incorporeal touch a body, and the soul touches and is separated from the body. Therefore the soul is not incorporeal.
     From: Chrysippus (works (fragments) [c.240 BCE]), quoted by Tertullian - The Soul as an 'Astral Body' 5.3
     A reaction: This is the classic interaction difficulty for substance dualist theories of mind.
29. Religion / E. Immortality / 4. Heaven
Paradise would not contain some virtues, such as courage [Davies,B]
     Full Idea: There are virtues (such as courage) that would not be present in a paradise.
     From: Brian Davies (Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion [1982], 3 'Evil')
     A reaction: Part of a suggestion that morality would be entirely inapplicable in paradise, and so we need dangers etc in the world.
29. Religion / F. Problem of Evil / 1. Problem of Evil
Irenaeus says evil is necessary for perfect human development [Irenaeus, by Davies,B]
     Full Idea: Echoing Irenaeus, John Hick argues that the existence of evil is necessary for the perfect development of human beings. Hick understands evil in the light of God's desire not to coerce people into accepting him.
     From: report of Irenaeus (works [c.190]) by Brian Davies - Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion 3 'Notable'
     A reaction: I don't suppose I could opt out of perfect development? If I endure the evil, can I be guaranteed that my development will be 'perfect'. Oh, and could I just check what is meant by 'development'?