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My understanding is that philosophers like Wittgenstein held that thought without language is impossible. I've seen many people reply that they have non-linguistic thoughts all the time, and my guess is that what they mean is that they often "think" in imagery rather than words. For example, rather than saying with their inner voice, "I should advance my pawn," they picture a chess board with a pawn moving forward. Does this demonstrate non-linguistic thought?

I'm no expert on Wittgenstein Stephen Maitzen August 9, 2018 (changed August 10, 2018) Permalink I'm no expert on Wittgenstein, and I don't know the particular argument of his that you're alluding to. He does give a famous argument that anything properly regarded as a language must be usable (if not also used) by more than one person. But your question... Read more

If the unconscious exists as part of our working brains, how can we tell what is in it? Can we find out what is in specifically our own unconscious by ourselves?

There are different theories Gordon Marino August 9, 2018 (changed August 9, 2018) Permalink There are different theories about that but one prominent theory, namely, Freud's - that repression and resistance are the reasons why much of our mental life is unconscious and save for himself -- he thought ordinary human beings could not break through that resista... Read more

did socrates really say "I know that I know nothing."?

It seems not. In any case, Allen Stairs August 4, 2018 (changed August 4, 2018) Permalink It seems not. In any case, the discussion of this saying in Wikipedia is actually pretty good: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_that_I_know_nothing Log in to post comments

My wife wants to retire to a gated community. I find the phrase to be an oxymoron, and believe that the whole gated project is morally flawed; for example, it can lead to us vs. them thinking, social stratification, etc. Is there an argument here, or just a personal preference?

Nice question - I wish Michael Cholbi July 26, 2018 (changed July 26, 2018) Permalink Nice question - I wish philosophers thought more about questions related to domestic choices like this one! No doubt the disagreement between you and your wife could reflect variations in personal preferences that are morally defensible. Some can tolerate noisy environments... Read more

Dear Sir or Madame, As you now there are names for nearly every ideology, liberalism, positivism etc. But I cant find the name of one ideology, and I was wondering if you can help me with that. For the record, I do not believe in the way of thought I am about to discribe, I am just curious if there is a name for it. Here it goes: What do you call it when someone believes so much in science, that it values scientific progress above all else, even human rights? This person will for example think human experimentation is okay, if it benefits scientific progress. The reason I ask this, is because I came across articles about bioconservatism. And was wondering if there was something like extreme anti-bioconservatism, but wikipedia didnt satisfy me. Thank you for your time and with kind regards, Bram

You could call this science Jonathan Westphal July 26, 2018 (changed July 26, 2018) Permalink You could call this science worship, I think. There is also the word "scientism", meaning a sort of extreme and exaggerated regard for science, so maybe "scientism" is the best fit for what you describe. You add in the idea of sacrificing human beings for science, a... Read more

For some reason, the sorites paradox seems quite a bit like the supposed paradox of Achilles and the turtle with a head start: every time Achilles reaches where the turtle had been, the turtle moves a little bit forward, and so by that line of reasoning, Achilles will never be able to reach the turtle. Yet, when we watch Achilles chase the turtle in real life, he catches it and passes it with ease. By shifting the level of perspective from the molecular to the macro level, so to speak, we move beyond the paradox into a practical solution. If we try to define "heap" by specifying the exact number of grains of sand it takes to differentiate between "x grains of sand" and "a heap of sand," aren't we merely perpetuating the same fallacy, albeit in a different way, by saying that every time Achilles reaches where the turtle had been, the turtle has moved on from there? If not, how are the two situations qualitatively different? Thanks.

In my opinion, the reasoning Stephen Maitzen July 26, 2018 (changed July 27, 2018) Permalink In my opinion, the reasoning that generates the paradox of Achilles and the tortoise isn't nearly as compelling as the reasoning that generates the sorites paradox. The Achilles reasoning overlooks the simple fact that Achilles and the tortoise are travelling at diff... Read more

My wife wants to retire to a gated community. I find the phrase to be an oxymoron, and believe that the whole gated project is morally flawed; for example, it can lead to us vs. them thinking, social stratification, etc. Is there an argument here, or just a personal preference?

Nice question - I wish Michael Cholbi July 26, 2018 (changed July 26, 2018) Permalink Nice question - I wish philosophers thought more about questions related to domestic choices like this one! No doubt the disagreement between you and your wife could reflect variations in personal preferences that are morally defensible. Some can tolerate noisy environments... Read more

Say the universe is natural (say it had 'natural' beginnings and there was no creator)... what should this mean for my life? If we took this a step further and said we are the products of some accidental RNA interaction and there is no soul or afterlife, what should this mean about an overall worldview? Am I to live happily? How am I to struggle through moments of toil - work hard in society - if there is no meaning?

The topic of the meaning of Charles Taliaferro July 26, 2018 (changed July 26, 2018) Permalink The topic of the meaning of life is now very big among philosophers. Most non-theistic / atheistic philosophers would respond that even if there is no meaning or purpose OF or FOR life, there can be meaning IN life. So, even if all life is the result of purposeless... Read more

We've been pondering the Problem of Evil. How can a good God allow evil to exist? I think the solution is right there in opening pages of the Book of Genesis. According to the Bible, after six days' labor, God needed to rest to regain his strength. When God is enjoying some necessary down time, then evil takes advantage and spreads. Is this a convincing argument?

This argument is a variation Allen Stairs July 23, 2018 (changed July 23, 2018) Permalink This argument is a variation on solutions that assume a non-omnipotent God. If God doesn't have the power to prevent all evil, then the fact that there is evil would be no surprise. This version's variation is just that God gets tired and sometimes has to rest. For the... Read more

Is it an implication of quantum mechanics that it's possible for information about the future to be available to the past?

There are interpretations of Allen Stairs July 19, 2018 (changed July 19, 2018) Permalink There are interpretations of quantum mechanics that make related claims. There's the transactional interpretation, proposed by John Cramer and developed more recently by Ruth Kastner. It holds that quantum events such as measurement results occur when there is a "hands... Read more

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