Is it possible for anything to matter? My teacher always tells me if I do bad in a drama scene, I shouldn't worry about it because no one will remember or care in a few weeks. Doesn't that apply to everything? If I cure cancer, surely that will affect almost everyone on the planet, but will anyone even appreciate it a million years after the fact? A billion? Humans can't last forever, and eventually our species will die - meaning no one will be alive to remember cancer even existed. Even Earth will die eventually. Even the Galaxy!! So how can anything I do be important in the grand scheme of things?

Good question? I have wrestled with this one a lot. Of course, it depends what we mean by "matters" -- if it is an issue of being remembered then there is a good chance that when the earth slips into the sun or whatever, all will be forgotten and in the end nothing will have mattered. When we say that something matters to us I think we mean to say it has value. But just because an event has impact at one time but not at another -- like the play -- does it follow that it never mattered? I don't think so. I can remember playing football in college. Sad to say, it was the most important thing in the world to me. Now, I can barely remember the outcome of some games. But it doesn't mean that those games were meaningless. There is no reason to think that in order for an event to matter it has to have eternal consequences. Obviously, your drama teacher was just trying to help you fit things into perspective. Events that can feel world consuming to us at one time will look differently in the rear...

Is it right to call a believer rational even if she cannot prove articulately or give good arguments for her belief in God? Let's just say I ask a believer "Why do you believe in God?" and she simply answered, "Because I've experienced God's grace in my life," and she needs no arguments or other evidences for her belief, is her position justifiable? I personally thinks it is but if that is the case, then what would make belief in God irrational, if simply certain personal experiences can justify such belief?

If she had reasons to believe, it would not be faith that she had but knowledge. It might be hard to set up experiments and prove that love exists, and yet I would not call a person who believed in love on the basis of personal experience - irrational. Perhaps it would be irrational - to think- to imagine - that reason could take in the full sweep of reality. It might be reasonable to believe that there are limits to reason and yet as human beings we still have to decide whether or not believe in what falls outside the bounds of reason. Thanks for your provocative question.

Utilitarianistically speaking, is there any difference between forced population transfer and ethnic cleansing?

Yes, the two egregious actions would have different short and long term consequences. And the reasonably understood consequences are the bottom line for Utilitarianism.

I have a reoccurance of Base of Tongue cancer, and this is a dehumanizing sort of cancer in that it starts to strip away some our most basic asthetic appreciations: eating food, tasting, swallowing, speaking and sexual intimacy. It is also dreadfully painful. So - I've been having the internal question of, when is enough enough, and I think there was a classical parable of how someone would choose their death.

When is enough enough? Oh my friend, what a hard, hardquestion - a question that when being raised says a lot about life itself. Though I worry about a person being in decent fettle trying to resolve such a question --for me it would be when the pain got so relentless and all consumingthat it devoured my ability to love others – to care about anything outsidemyself – when the pain permanently nailed me to my self.

philosophy is a mind opener to me personally, thats is talking in respect as subject in school. but i would like to know if their reasons why other people think this subject is foolish?, please be sincere

I applaud Charles Taliaferro's answer but might add that many people have the sense that there is no progress with philosophical questions. As CT noted, the brilliant philosopher Wittgenstein held that many philosophical questions are pseudo-questions. Grammatically they seem like questions but that is just mirage. Also, as CT hinted there is a feeling that philosophers are all talk and no action. Like Marx but from a Christian perspective, Kierkegaard certainly expressed this view. You asked for sincerity in your question and I will admit that there have been times when I felt as though philosophy profs (which is not necessarily to say, philosophers)were like a bunch of adolescent stamp collectors who just liked sitting in their office or rooms and playing around with puzzles that had nothing to do with wisdom or life.

In my cross-cultural psychology class, we learned about the emotion "schadenfreude": to take pleasure in someone else's misfortune. If feeling this emotion goes against an individual's beliefs about themselves, i.e., that they are a good person, then isn't it possible that they would deny that they experienced this; doesn't this mean that our own personal experiences are not verifiable and therefore unknowable?

It is more than possible that we would be inclined to deny this feeling. It is probable. But the fact that there are many books on this topic make it plain that not everyone denies it. Feelings are not things like tables and chairs. They cannot be examined like external objects. Emotions are divided up different ways in different cultures and even within one culture. As Aristotle taught us, we should not expect the same degree of precision in say ethics - or the emotional realm- as we might in physics. But as for schadenfreude itself, I was recently injured in a bad car accident and home bound in the Minnesota winter. A dear friend sent me a photo of himself lounging on the beach with a beer in hand in the Virgin Islands. I can't say that my first reaction was hoping that he was having a grand time. Maybe more like - I hope you get sun poisoning! Schadenfreude is an ugly feeling, a flower of envy -- which is one of the most painful emotions to own up to. I would consider my life a...

Many pro-choice advocates maintain that, though abortions should be permissible, they are regrettable nonetheless. For instance, Bill Clinton famously said that he wanted to keep abortions "safe, legal and rare." I don't understand this view. To my mind, whether abortion is immoral turns on the question of whether a fetus is a person with a right to life. But this seems a clear dichotomy--either fetuses have such a right, or they don't. If they do, then abortion is immoral. If they don't, then not only should abortion be permitted, but there is nothing objectionable about them at all. Indeed, it is every bit as innocuous as using condoms. Sometimes I think that what is happening is that people who advocate this position are still captive to some kind of residual pro-life sentiment. They believe that abortions should be permissible, but they can't shake the feeling that they are still, somehow, a bad thing. (And not just because of circumstantial considerations, such as that women who need abortions are...

It could be, as Gene Outka, has argued that we have a false dichotomy here. A fetus is neither a person or nor an inanimate object but a unique kind of entity. It is not an object and neither does it have the rights of a person. Either way, I don't see any problem with holding that abortion should be permissible and at the same time believing that abortions are sad events. Many believe that was is sometimes justified and yet regrettable. What is there to regret in an abortion? Ending a life that is something more than a pure potential. Indeed, I would argue that when the day comes that having an abortion is akin to having a tooth extracted, we'll be in bad shape, we'll have lost a sense of the sacred. Of course, there are many who believe that losing that sense makes sense but I would beg to differ.

Being an autodidact in philosophy, while academically undertaking a Major in Political Science, can I be considered a philosopher? Not by entitlement, but by the notion that one creates and studies the philosophical world view, as anybody of such a field does regardless of academic degrees. I am so disturbed with some comments that it is only through credentials that one becomes a philosopher, that I would would like to defy and counter this confined notion by proving that it is, indeed, not the only means. Thus I require supporting views on this topic. So, once again, can I be considered a philosopher whilst also being an autodidact?

Philosophy is a love of wisdom and a philosopher is one who both loves wisdom and is possessed of some. There are plenty of people with philosophy degrees whom I would hesitate to call philosophers and there are plenty of folks who have never taken a course in philosophy whom I would be happy to recognize as part of the Socrates guild. Given this analysis, I don't believe a philosopher would worry about whether or not he or she could be considered a philosopher.

Suppose I behave altruistically, because I believe that doing so will help create a better community for all - and because I want to live in such a community. Am I acting according to altruism or egoism? Or are the two actually compatible?

I agree with Professor Smith that in this context concepts like altruistic and egoist are a recipe for confusion. Clearly, if your only intention were to improve the community for your own benefit -- like working on your house or something --- then it would be egoistic but it would be hard to imagine someone devoting their lives to others with purely selfish motives. As a footnote, I don't think one needs to be a Freud to note that it is really impossible to be transparent to ourselves with regard to our motives. There are wonderful passages in Dostoyevsky's THE IDIOT in which characters believe that they have only selfish motives and Prince Myshkin points out that they were oblivious to their good intentions. Of course, it is usually the other way around.

If a person is not afraid of non-existance then if he is afaid of death he is actually afraid of the possible pain involved ; does this seem reasonable?

It could also be a fear of losing everyone they love -- of the termination of something very good - no matter if there is no one there to experience the loss.