Here is a question. Say I want to live forever and constantly move my brain from one body to another, so I never age. I also replace non functioning parts of my brain with new ones made with stem cells. Eventually after living for a long enough time my brain is no longer anything like the original except for its collective memories. Would that thing still be me? To take it a step further I create clones of myself and each of them has a small part of my originals brain. Would I still exist? Or I created a collective consciousness in which I am able to communicate to each of my clones and we are able to share our experiences in one big cloud. What does that even mean for me? Am I even the same person or something completely different? These problems have been really bugging me and I am just trying to see if anyone has any answer.

Often with questions that are composed of multiple further questions ("Here is a question", you write . . . - it's not - I count four question marks!) it helps to take just one, and deal with it carefully, before moving on to the next. Of course some of the sub-questions will generate further questions, but that simply means that some patience is required. For example, 'I move my brain from one body to another, so I never age.' Why does it follow that you never age? If you retain your memories (line 3) and add to them, then you are changing and aging, psychologically. So you must mean that you don't physically age. But the brain does age. And why is it that 'I never age' follows from 'I move my brain from one body to another'? That seems to assume that who you are is a matter of having the same brain. Is that right? And if it is, then if as you say 'after living for a long time my brain is no longer anything like the original' then you are not after all the same person, so the question goes away. A...

I'm in a sticky situation right now. Within a month I have to choose if I want to study law, philosophy or take a year off so I can find out what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to study law so I can hopefully make a lot of money and provide well for my hypothetically family. However, I don't know if that's worth it. Because I have to study a lot for 5 years then work hard until the day I'm too old to work, then I have to wait for the day I die. This seems meaningless to me right now, because I don't care about money at all. But I know I will need it to take care of a family. Anyway, I want to study philosophy so I can somehow change the problems humanity is facing. Somehow this makes more sense for me because I often ponder about everything wrong with this world, and why we don't do anything about it. Here is also why I don't care about money, because that's another factor that bring humanity down. And I don't think I can spend 8 hours everyday of my young and adult life, to work for money....

Many years ago I was in something like your position, (though my family was already real rather than merely possible), and I put roughly the same question to a very experienced and wise philosopher, who was also a friend. She was pretty elderly at the point, but her mind was still as sparkling as it was when she studied with Whitehead. She said to me, 'Well, Jonathan, reflect on the fact that it is better to be a third-rate philosopher than a first-rate anything else.' 'Of course! ' I said to myself. 'Why didn't I see that?' I became a third-rate philosopher, and I have been happy ever since.

I don't quite understand why people put so much time and effort into conversing with other people about their internal "belief systems." To me, the only thing that really matters is how other people behave: whatever they believe is secondary to how well or how poorly they act. If one person believes "treat others well because Jesus says so," while another person believes "treat others well because Krishna says so," wouldn't they then both agree with each other that the over-riding priority here is to treat others well? How much "should" it really matter WHO says so?

Your view reminds me a bit of what used to be called "Christian atheism". The idea was that to say for example that God is our heavenly Father is to adopt and proclaim a policy of behaviour towards other men, namely one of brotherhood. The problem with ruling out religious faith as such, "without works", so to speak, is that as a matter of fact for many if not most religious believers it is not the case that religion is just ethics and that "the only thing that really matters is how people behave". That may be what matters to you; then you are saying, 'Ethics matters to me; religious faith doesn't.' And if your view is stated impersonally, that the one ought to matter and the other not, we have to consider the fact that it might be the case that people came to be behave in a brotherly way, but without any affection or love. Would that be as good as people behaving well towards one another and loving their neighbours? And that is the heart of the matter. Behaviourism (your view) is I am afraid to...

Can literature "tell the truth" better than other Arts or Areas of Knowledge?

My answer to this is a firm "Yes". Novels, for example, "tell the truth" better than any other written material, with the exception things like diaries and letters, unless you think of the relevant passages of diaries and letters as though they were mini-novels. But diaries and letters are no better at telling the truth in the appropriate sense than the skills of their authors. What sense is the sense in which novels (or more generally imaginative writing) can "tell the truth" better than any other "Areas of Knowledge", as you call them? (I imagine that you might have the sciences in mind.) The sense is one in which telling the truth has to do with getting the details of a description absolutely right, and getting the overal balance and colour and mood of what one is describing absolutely right. Here psychology for example (which might be thought to "tell the truth" better than the novel) is no better than the sensibility (the eighteenth and nineteenth century word) of the individual working...

Acts of "kindness": I do things in my life for others like; hold doors, pick up liter and carry groceries. I have been under the assumption that I was doing these things for others. After making this a way of life, I find myself feeling guilty when I don't pick up trash or hold the door for someone. So my question is: Are my actions as well intentioned and selfless as I once believed or do I do those things to feed my ego to make myself think I am a good person? This has really got me thinking about my motivations for "doing the right thing". Am I secretly trying to make the unconscious case for my moral/socital superiority? Thanks for listening. Kai

Is there any reason at all to think your motivation is selfish? It seems like an abstract possibility that you are trying "to make the unconscious case" for your moral and social superiority, but where is the evidence? There is the deliverance of your own heart to be considered too. If you catch yourself thinking, 'I wish I didn't have to open all these doors for people. It is so annoying. Why don't I just shove through first? - Oh, but then people will not think I am a good person.' Suppose you suppress the thought. Then there is a question to be answered. But in the absence of any evidence of this sort, any thoughts of this kind, and in the presence of a good-hearted or kindly feeling towards the people for whom you open doors and carry groceries, why on earth would you think that there was anything sinister and egoistical going on in the unknown depths of your soul? For one thing, ex hypothesi these things are unknown. Maybe they are there and maybe they are not. But that is a tautology from logic...

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...

With regards to the recent events in US and European politics — Trump's triumph, Brexit, etc. — Is populism an *inevitable* consequence of democracy, or is it avoidable by means such as educating the people?

Populism, however understood, may not have been the only thing behind "Trump's triumph". And Brexit was not just an exercise in populism. There were genuine issues of national sovereignty with Brexit, in a narrow legal sense, unlike with Trump, about which there were genuine differences of political opinion. The parliamentary monopoly on law-making in the UK is guaranteed by the Coronation Oath, but denied by EEC and then EU legislation from 1972 on. In addition, there were plans ("Dokument UE-2", co-authored by the Foreign Ministers of Germany and France), in the event of a "Remain" vote, for a common European Army and police force, though the plans were concealed before the referendum. It is hard to imagine too many of the United States wanting a common army with Mexico and Canada, say, or a common legal system. The EU executive, though appointed by elected legislators, is not itself elected. Yet it has the power to issue "directives" having the force of law in the member states with no oversight or...

The First Amendment says that the government protects the right of the individual of free speech. But, should the government protect the individual's hate speech?

According to the US Supreme Court, there are certain categories of speech or expression that are not protected by the First Amendment, for example "fighting words" or those that incite people to riot or cause a breach of the peace; the "fighting words" are also "insulting", and they are "those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace". These "have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem" (Chaplinsky v New Hampshire 1942). Slander is another example. "There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or "fighting words" those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight...

what is a perfect person? we all know that something that is perfect is impossible to find. Since there is no such thing as a perfect line, circle, machine even with all the technology in our current time. What makes a person perfect? symmetrical facial and body recognition? ones inner self is that it? maybe im too young to seek the answer myself.

We don't all agree that there is no such thing as a perfect line, and all the rest. A line, say from point P to point Q is easy to find, but we have to know what a line is. Take a comparison. A captain may instruct his helmsman to set a course to Q . It may be that the waves or the tides push the ship slightly off course here and there, but the course is set. Is it impossible for the captain to ask for the course to be set? Is it impossible to follow the course? And finally, is it impossible for the ship to arrive at the point Q ? Maybe you think that there is no such point, because a point is not physical. But this isn't quite right. The thing that's important is that though the point does not extend into any of its dimensions, it can be located on a map using two dimensions, or in physical space using three. Or again, compare the line to the direction. The fact that a direction is like a line itself is one-dimensional (though it is a vector not just a line) has no relevance to its...

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