Can a depiction or a representation of something be considered the something itself? For instance, can a picture of a unicorn actually be considered a unicorn? Is there a need to specify certain definitions in one's head in order for this to be argued? Like must I specifically define that if I want to see a unicorn I must specify I need one that must be living right in front of me and be able to perform the natural processes something that is living would, or could it be assumed to that if I want to see a real unicorn someone could show me a picture of one or a stuffed animal and it still be a valid response?

There could be a picture of an X that is itself an X. For example, there could be a minimalist picture of a square that is itself a square. The picture could even be titled in such a way that it is or is meant to be a picture of itself, so that this square is a picture of this square. But in general a picture of X is, obviously, not X. A picture of a unicorn is an oil painting, say, and an oil painting is not a unicorn. The famous portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Arthur Lawrence (1815-1816) is most certainly not the Duke of Wellington himself. It has outlived him for by a longtime, for example. We can of course say, looking at the portrait, 'Oh look, there's the Duke of Wellington. I can see why they called him the Iron Duke.' There is a difficult and interesting question about depiction, and how to construe the first of these statements. It cannot mean, 'Oh look, there is a picture of the Duke of Wellington.' This is an observation about a picture in a material sense, gold frame and all. Nor can...

Recently there was a question that said, "you can't create something from nothing, can you?" Actually, if I understand quantum theory correctly, something indeed can exist from nothing. - nothing can spontaneously decay into a particle and its anti-particle - usually, those two particles then interact with each other, leaving nothing again afterward - occasionally one of those two resulting particles will interact with something else instead - consequently, the remaining particle of the original two particles will then continue to exist. Voila! something out of nothing, and it is grounded in physics.

There is a well-known equivocation on "nothing" here. According to quantum theory, there are two particles that go in and out of existence, and leave behind "something". You might as well argue that when I win a trick in bridge, my score came from nothing because the trick disappeared into the "book" (the pile of tricks I needed to make") afterwards. How are two particles interacting "nothing"? Besides, there is also the structure of the sea of quantum gravity, with fluctuations. Is a sea nothing? Is a fluctuation nothing? The fluctuation in the sea of quantum gravity is a most definite something. No, when in metaphysics we talk about something coming from nothing, the nothing has to be a pukka nothing - absolutely nothing at all, and not just a vacuum, for example, which has a structure and is therefore not nothing, but merely not air.

You can't create something out of nothing can you! And yet, here we exist. Is this not the most relevant question we can't answer?

Leibniz considered the question, and perhaps was the first to ask it, in "On the Radical Origination of Things" of September 23, 1697. He gave a comparison for the sequence of things demanding explanations. For a sufficient reason for existence cannot be found merely in one individual thing or even the whole aggregate and series of things. Let us imagine a book on the Elements of Geometry to have been eternal, one copy always being made from another; then it is clear that though we can give a reason for the present book based on the preceding book from which it was copied, we can never arrive at a complete reason, no matter how many books we may assume in the past, for one can always wonder why such books should have existed at all times; why there should be books at all, and why they should be written int his way. What is true of books is also true of the different states of the world . . . This puts the skids under the type of explanation Quentin Smith gives. He commits what informal logicians...

Is their really an objective answer as to where the world came from?

The current evidence and theory from cosmology almost conclusively give us the objective answer that the first event was the Big Bang. If God brought about the Big Bang, that too is an objective answer, or if the Big Bang came about due to fluctuations in a sea of quantum gravity, that is an objective answer. As Stephen observes, the steady state theory (the universe was always there) is equally objective. The Big Bang and the steady state theory may be counter-intuitive, but they are objective answers. You ask about the existence of an objective answer to the cosmological question in particular. I cannot see anything about the question where if anywhere the universe came from that raises questions of objectivity. Or is there a religious question behind your question? Does your question really mean, 'Is there an objectively true answer as to where the world came from, rather than a religious answer?' Then is the assumption that religion is subjective? That may be all wrong about what is behind your...

So a really old question would be "what's the meaning of life?". I wanna switch it up and ask "why do we even exist?". We've done so many negative things throughout history. The importance of knowing what we're made of and how we work means nothing to me, if I don't know why we exist on this planet we call earth.

I am not sure how old the question is, in exactly the form you give it. I suspect it is quite new. In the Nichomachean Ethics Aristotle asks whether 'there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for its own sake (everything else being desired for the sake of this) . . .' (W.D. Ross trans.). But this is a very different question. There is no mention of meaning, and there is no mention of life. So I think it makes matters worse to think that 'Why do we even exist?' is the same question. (I wonder about the implication of the word "even". What is it suggesting? ( Cf. 'Why does he even bother to come to the meeting, since he never utters a word, and sleeps through them?')) Another bit of phrasing bothers me. You say that what we are made of means nothing to you, 'if I don't know why we exist on this planet we call earth.' Are you thinking that it's not really called earth, but we, we ignorant fools, we call it that? So what is it's real name? We need to get the main question very...

I've just returned from holiday. On the flight back I noticed that the seating rows were numbered from 1 to 33 and on further inspection that there was no row 13 marked (presumably through superstition). So there were actually 32 rows. My questions are: Does row 13 exist even if it is not numbered? Is there really a row 33, or is it merely row 32 given an incorrect name?

Row 12 is followed by row 14, so that if the steward directed you to sit in row 14, that is where you would go. We should distinguish between the what the rows are called (there is no row called "row 13") and which rows they are. The thirteenth row is still the thirteenth, as could be proved by counting the rows from the first to the thirteenth. You would end up with a count of thirteen rows. But when the steward says, 'Go to row 14,' he does not mean 'Go to the fourteenth row'. He means, 'Go to the row, over there, that you can see has the number "14" written above it' or wherever, even though you might not be able to tell the difference between the thirteenth row and the row numbered "14". Does this help? The thing we shouldn't say is that the fourteenth row is the thirteenth row (that were a contradiction) or that there isn't a thirteenth row. There plainly is such a row, as counting rows shows, and not even superstition can remove it. What is thought to be unlucky is the number thirteen, but - alas!...

I don't know if this a philosophical question or scientific question, So this is my question, If A create all things, is it logically safe to say that A is uncreated?

I'm not sure Prof. Maitzen is quite right about this. My answer to the original question is, 'Certainly not.' First there is the contradiction that exists if I say God created all things but did not create God, unless of course we put a heavy, suggestive emphasis on things . If I create everything except myself, then of course it follows that I do not create myself, and there is a contradiction in saying that I do, given the premise. But contra Stephen does it follow that I am uncreated? I can't see how it does. For one thing, there could be someone else who created me, Stephen for example. I think Prof. Maitzen's reading of the John passage is a bit stretched. After all, the "and" between the two sentences might suggest an amplification in the conjunction. We could then read 'All things were made by [God] . . . ' as 'All things that were made were made by God', giving the second sentence as evidence. Just a thought.

If I print all the money in the world, except the money in my wallet, does it follow that the money in my pocket is unprinted? Well, it doesn't. Maybe there is another press somewhere that prints money in spite of my near monopoly. Does it make any difference if I built that press, for example if I made it over to someone else after its construction? I think on reflection that Prof. Maitzen is right about the two sentences in John . I retract the point that the second sentence is a premise for the first. I should say instead that it is a restriction and a clarification, a sort of 'Oh, and by the way, what I said means . . . " sort of amplification.

What is an instantiated concept in philosophy? My class has a question asking TRUE or FALSE: A sphere made of solid gold is an instantiated concept. However, I am confused as to what they mean by that term. If someone could help me better understand that would be great!

If a concept (say tame tiger ) is instantiated that means that there is in fact an instance of the things falling under it: there is at least one tame tiger. An uninstantiated concept, square triangle , for example, is one that has no instances: there are no instances of square triangles. But the phrase "instantiated concept" is bad grammar or "usage", it seems to me. Just as an abstract concept is a concept which is abstract, so an instantiated concept is a concept which is instantiated. That ought to mean that there is an instance of it. But "it" here is that concept, so to say that there is an instantiated concept is to say that there is one of it, one of that concept. Something is wrong here, obviously. Of course one can twist the language to give "instantiated concept" a conventional meaning, or any other meaning, but why bother?

Hello Philosophers! Can anyone defend the Ontological Argument against Kant's criticism that existence is not a predicate?

Some random suggestions: (1) David Pears pointed out that even if Kant's argument were wholly clear and wholly successful, which it is not, it could only show that existence is not an ordinary predicate, if it is a predicate. His view is that it is a predicate, just a very peculiar one; (2) There is also the view of the celebrated logician, mathematician and philosopher Bolzano, who writes in the Theory of Science ("Kinds of Propositions") that 'I take being [Sein] or actuality [ Wirklichkeit ] to be precisely what language makes it out to be, namely an attribute; whoever denies this confuses (I believe) actuality with substance. By substance I mean an actuality which is not an attribute of another actuality; hence I admit that we cannot truly predicate the putative abstractum of the substance (substantiality) of any object. For it is part of the concept of substance that there is no property of this kind. But it is not the same with actuality, which I consider to be a mere attribute, not...

Do you really believe that the entire universe was made by a "big bang?" Doesn't it seem like there must be some type of higher being something? It just doesn't seem like all the pieces of the puzzle come together from a few dust particles...

I believe that your question is a good one, and that there is a further one that it suggests. The further question is where the dust particles might have come from. Or if we mean by "the universe" absolutely everything, including dust particles, then the universe did not come from a few dust particles or anything else, as, if it did, then the universe came from a part of itself, which is clearly impossible.

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