Many disciplines have areas of study that overlap other disciplines. For example, to do physics also requires substantial math. At the same time, each discipline has something that is uniquely its own. Physics tests the mathematical predictions against actual results. What is it that is unique to philosophy that distinguishes it from other disciplines?

I suppose that if anything unites all philosophers it is an interest in the big questions of mind, world, existence ...analytic philosophers tend to deploy, or try to deploy, rigorous logical arguments in their work. In the latter part of the last century, a lot of analytic philosophers thought of philosophy as a very distinctive subject concerned with the a priori (armchair) analysis of concepts, but the idea that this enterprise is at all fruitful is now much less popular.

I was recently at a wedding where one of the guests at my table (people from the other side of the new family) said something about the "maid of honors". Another person sitting next to him quickly leapt in to correct him into saying the "maids of honor," and I was then witness to a ten-minute, heated argument about whether or not it mattered. So that is my question to you, philosophers. How much does it matter whether a person makes minor grammatical mistakes, so long as everybody understands what is meant? How important is it to say "My friend and I" instead of "Me and my friend," or "Passers-by" instead of "Passer-bys"? What is at stake?

It doesn't matter to me. I would say 'my friend and me' rather than 'my friend and I' because it sounds better to me ... it is really just a question of taste. A lot of people get hung up about the 'correct' way of speaking .. with the idea that in some sense one formulation is 'right' and another is 'wrong'. Usually these people are ignorant of how language works in general, the actual syntactic and semantic properties of the words used, and their history. For example, in a conjunction like 'my friend and ...' no case is assigned to the individual words by the deep grammatical principles by which language actually does work .. which have to do with the computational systems in the mind-brain that underlie our linguistic capacities. So it is question of what form people happen to use as a default for the first-person pronoun: 'I' or 'me'. And both are widely used. I think 'me' is actually a more natural default form for English. So, for example, if someone is offering the last piece of cake and says 'who...

What is the difference between revenge and justice? Example: Some guy holds you at gun point and wants your money. You manage to snatch the gun from him, would it be considered justice or revenge if you now rob him instead?

I don't think that justice and revenge have all that much in common. Justice is about fairness and morality: doing what is right. Revenge is about inflicting hurt or harm on someone in response to wrong suffered at their hands. But two wrongs do not make a right... acting purely out of vengefulness is rarely just at all. If someone has done something wrong then they should make it right if possible ...make an amend, redress the balance. In a just society the legal system may enforce this. But the point is not to make the wrong-doer suffer. That does no good to anyone. It is only to make things better. If you manage to snatch the gun from the would-be robber, then robbing him would be vengeful but not just.

I have read that the statement "There is no absolute truth" is self-refuting because it relies on absolute truth to be true. I have also read that the idea expressed in the previous statement commits the fallacy of begging the question. I am thoroughly confused by the debate here...?

Relativists do seem to be in trouble with having to live with a relative notion of truth for their own claims. But I am not sure that Allen's worries are decisive. Suppose the claim is that there are no absolute truths, but there are truths relative to standards that you and I accept. You can try insisting that you adhere to a valid standard according to which my claim is false. But then we could argue about whether that is right. Insisting is one thing, being rationally persuasive is another. Similarly, I might claim that a given proposition really will be true by some standards and really will be false by other standards and further say that that claim itself is true relative to standards that we both accept .. but false by others. This sort of relativism might not be motivated by a desire dogmatically to insist that one has a right to one's own opinion ... it might be motivated by deep philosophical views about the relationship between language and/or thought and reality ... I think this...

As an atheist, I am often asked the question, "What is the meaning of life for an atheist?" I am myself sometime confused whether as an atheist do have a purpose in life or I am just living and waiting for an end to my life? Mirza A.

I think the meaning of life is to give life meaning. I find helpful the idea of being in the now .. the past is all gone, forever, period, it no longer matters. The future is not yet. Be here now! Here are some quotes I find helpful: “Human life is founded on kindness and concord, and is bound into an alliance for common help, not by terror, but by mutual love.” Seneca “Courtesy, kindness, justice and love are the keynotes by which we may come into harmony with practically anybody.” Bill Wilson “The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” “You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” “When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ...” “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” Marcus Aurelius "You, yourself, as much as anybody in the...

Even if there is overwhelming evidence in opposition of solipsism, it still cannot be disproven to 100% certainty. Is it just the nature of any conscious entity to have to have faith in their surroundings being external and objective to the mind, while still viewing them subjectively, in order to just live their lives? Or can one really live their entire life suspecting solipsism?

Whether one thinks there is overwhelming evidence in opposition of solipsism may depend on what one takes evidence to be. Arguably, if evidence is just the way things seem, construed in the most minimal, least question-begging way possible, then there is no evidence in opposition to sopipsism at all. Things might seem just this way, and yet there be nothing in the universe other than my own experiences. Why suppose that in addition to those experiences, those things of which one does have knowledge, there is some other stuff about which one has no knowledge at all? It seems hard even to form a conception of what such other stuff might be like, since conceptions seem to be formed from the material of experience itself and unsuited to picture for us this myserious others stuff of which we know nothing. Personally I don't buy into that sort of soplispistic reasoning. But I expect that a solipsistic worldview could be made consistent with the beliefs one needs to live a normal life. The loaf of...

how do i get out of the depression i am in???

Certainly consulting a physician is a good idea. There is a smattering of knowledge of some of the brain chemistry underlying some forms of depression and anti-depressants do work for some people. A physician might be able to offer some advice about different forms of therapy, such as CBT which is now popular. In any event also look into other forms of therapy, ask around, look on the net. If you are on facebook go to Depressives Anonymous and ask your question there, where you will probably get several informed responses and will be able to discuss your problem in more detail. Meantime try to do stuff you enjoy, try not to worry and chill out as well as you can.