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All the ideas for 'Difference and Repetition', 'Actualism and Possible Worlds' and 'The Philosophy of History'

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15 ideas

1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 1. Continental Philosophy
'Difference' refers to that which eludes capture [Deleuze, by May]
     Full Idea: 'Difference' is a term which Deleuze uses to refer to that which eludes capture.
     From: report of Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition [1968]) by Todd May - Gilles Deleuze 3.03
     A reaction: Presumably its ancestor is Kant's noumenon. This is one of his concepts used to 'palpate' our ossified conceptual scheme.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / a. Nature of Being
'Being' is univocal, but its subject matter is actually 'difference' [Deleuze]
     Full Idea: Being is said in a single and same sense of everything of which it is said, but that of which it is said differs: it is said of difference itself.
     From: Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition [1968], p.36), quoted by Todd May - Gilles Deleuze 3.03
     A reaction: This is an attempt to express the Heraclitean view of reality, as process, movement, multiplicity - something which always eludes our attempts to pin it down.
Ontology can be continual creation, not to know being, but to probe the unknowable [Deleuze]
     Full Idea: Ontology can be an ontology of difference ....where what is there is not the same old things but a process of continual creation, an ontology that does not seek to reduce being to the knowable, but widens thought to palpate the unknowable.
     From: Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition [1968]), quoted by Todd May - Gilles Deleuze 5.05
     A reaction: I'm inclined to think that the first duty of ontology is to face up to the knowable. I'm not sure that probing the unknowable, with no success or prospect of it, is a good way to spend a life. Probing ('palpating') can sometimes discover things.
Necessary beings (numbers, properties, sets, propositions, states of affairs, God) exist in all possible worlds [Plantinga]
     Full Idea: A 'necessary being' is one that exists in every possible world; and only some objects - numbers, properties, pure sets, propositions, states of affairs, God - have this distinction.
     From: Alvin Plantinga (Actualism and Possible Worlds [1976], 2)
     A reaction: This a very odd list, though it is fairly orthodox among philosophers trained in modern modal logic. At the very least it looks rather parochial to me.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / i. Deflating being
Ontology does not tell what there is; it is just a strange adventure [Deleuze, by May]
     Full Idea: In Deleuze's hands ontology is not a matter of telling us what there is, but of taking us on strange adventures.
     From: report of Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition [1968]) by Todd May - Gilles Deleuze 3.03
     A reaction: Presumably you only indulge in the strange adventure because you have no idea how to specify what there is. This sounds like the essence of post-modernism, in which life is just a game.
Being is a problem to be engaged, not solved, and needs a new mode of thinking [Deleuze, by May]
     Full Idea: In Deleuze, Being is not a puzzle to be solved but a problem to be engaged. It is to be engaged by a thought that moves as comfortably among problems as it does among solutions, as fluidly among differences as it does among identities.
     From: report of Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition [1968]) by Todd May - Gilles Deleuze 4.01
     A reaction: This sounds like what I've always known as 'negative capability' (thanks to Keats). Is philosophy just a hobby, like playing darts? It seems that the aim of the process is 'liberation', about which I would like to know more.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 1. Essences of Objects
Socrates is a contingent being, but his essence is not; without Socrates, his essence is unexemplified [Plantinga]
     Full Idea: Socrates is a contingent being; his essence, however, is not. Properties, like propositions and possible worlds, are necessary beings. If Socrates had not existed, his essence would have been unexemplified, but not non-existent.
     From: Alvin Plantinga (Actualism and Possible Worlds [1976], 4)
     A reaction: This is a distinctive Plantinga view, of which I can make little sense. I take it that Socrates used to have an essence. Being dead, the essence no longer exists, but when we talk about Socrates it is largely this essence to which we refer. OK?
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / a. Possible worlds
Possible worlds clarify possibility, propositions, properties, sets, counterfacts, time, determinism etc. [Plantinga]
     Full Idea: The idea of possible worlds has delivered insights on logical possibility (de dicto and de re), propositions, properties and sets, counterfactuals, time and temporal relations, causal determinism, the ontological argument, and the problem of evil.
     From: Alvin Plantinga (Actualism and Possible Worlds [1976], Intro)
     A reaction: This date (1976) seems to be the high-water mark for enthusiasm about possible worlds. I suppose if we just stick to 'insights' rather than 'answers' then the big claim might still be acceptable. Which problems are created by possible worlds?
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / d. Possible worlds actualism
Plantinga's actualism is nominal, because he fills actuality with possibilia [Stalnaker on Plantinga]
     Full Idea: Plantinga's critics worry that the metaphysics is actualist in name only, since it is achieved only by populating the actual world with entities whose nature is explained in terms of merely possible things that would exemplify them if anything did.
     From: comment on Alvin Plantinga (Actualism and Possible Worlds [1976]) by Robert C. Stalnaker - Mere Possibilities 4.4
     A reaction: Plantinga seems a long way from the usual motivation for actualism, which is probably sceptical empiricism, and building a system on what is smack in front of you. Possibilities have to be true, though. That's why you need dispositions in actuality.
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 8. Possible Worlds Semantics
Plantinga has domains of sets of essences, variables denoting essences, and predicates as functions [Plantinga, by Stalnaker]
     Full Idea: The domains in Plantinga's interpretation of Kripke's semantics are sets of essences, and the values of variables are essences. The values of predicates have to be functions from possible worlds to essences.
     From: report of Alvin Plantinga (Actualism and Possible Worlds [1976]) by Robert C. Stalnaker - Mere Possibilities 4.4
     A reaction: I begin to think this is quite nice, as long as one doesn't take the commitment to the essences too seriously. For 'essence' read 'minimal identity'? But I take essences to be more than minimal, so use identities (which Kripke does?).
Plantinga's essences have their own properties - so will have essences, giving a hierarchy [Stalnaker on Plantinga]
     Full Idea: For Plantinga, essences are entities in their own right and will have properties different from what instantiates them. Hence he will need individual essences of individual essences, distinct from the essences. I see no way to avoid a hierarchy of them.
     From: comment on Alvin Plantinga (Actualism and Possible Worlds [1976]) by Robert C. Stalnaker - Mere Possibilities 4.4
     A reaction: This sounds devastating for Plantinga, but it is a challenge for traditional Aristotelians. Only a logician suffers from a hierarchy, but a scientist might have to live with an essence, which contains a super-essence.
19. Language / D. Propositions / 1. Propositions
Are propositions and states of affairs two separate things, or only one? I incline to say one [Plantinga]
     Full Idea: Are there two sorts of thing, propositions and states of affairs, or only one? I am inclined to the former view on the ground that propositions have a property, truth or falsehood, not had by states of affairs.
     From: Alvin Plantinga (Actualism and Possible Worlds [1976], 1)
     A reaction: Might a proposition be nothing more than an assertion that a state of affairs obtains? It would then pass his test. The idea that a proposition is a complex of facts in the external world ('Russellian' propositions?) quite baffles me.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / e. Human nature
Man is God if he raises himself, by denying his nature and finitude [Hegel]
     Full Idea: Man is only God in so far as he negates the natural existence and finitude of his spirit and raises himself to God.
     From: Georg W.F.Hegel (The Philosophy of History [1840], p.324), quoted by Stephen Houlgate - An Introduction to Hegel 10 'God'
     A reaction: I suspect that it was ideas like this which motivated Nietzsche - denial of what we are, in the name of some idle daydream. I personally have no idea how to negate my natural existence or my finitude.
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / a. Slavery
Slavery is unjust, because humanity is essentially free [Hegel]
     Full Idea: Slavery is in and for itself an injustice, for the essence of humanity is freedom.
     From: Georg W.F.Hegel (The Philosophy of History [1840], p.99), quoted by Stephen Houlgate - An Introduction to Hegel 08 'Rights'
     A reaction: This is a corrective to Idea 12783, which offers a defence of the reality of historical slavery. That seemed to depend on some notion that each phase of history is necessary, which is implausible.
State slavery is a phase of education, moving towards a full culture [Hegel]
     Full Idea: Because slavery exists in states, it is a phase of advance from the merely isolated sensual existence - a phase of education - a mode of becoming participant in a higher morality and the culture connected with it.
     From: Georg W.F.Hegel (The Philosophy of History [1840], p.98), quoted by Stephen Houlgate - An Introduction to Hegel 08 'Rights'
     A reaction: [He adds that slavery should be removed slowly, not suddenly] A nicely provocative thought. Is it better to participate in something grand (like pyramid building) as a slave, or drift in dull isolation? How long should this 'phase' last?