I don't think Jesus was a philosopher in the sense in which we use that term today. Just what counts as philosophy is, of course, pretty hard to say. But I take it that philosophy is in some sense characterized by the kinds of questions considered and the way in which those questions are approached. Jesushad some profound things to say, for sure, but they weren't addressed to the kinds of questions philosophers address, and Jesus didn't give the sorts of arguments philosophers do.
During my day to day affairs, I work to prevent families from becoming homeless. At the same time, I have the feeling that in the context of our economic and social systems we are merely keeping people afloat and, by doing so, removing the political pressure which may result in broader change that may have a more lasting impact. Is it then ethical to continue with my endeavors?
This is an extremely difficult question, and I doubt there is any straightforward answer. It is true that treating the symptoms can make the disease seem less threatening, and so sometimes one feels as if treating the symptoms is, in the long term, counter-productive. But the families you are saving from homelessness will suffer if you do not, and they may not be around to see the longer term benefits a different course of action might permit. So the tension is real, in principle, though there is a question here about whether your work is, in fact , making the underlying causes of homelessness harder to address. My own view, for what it's worth, is that the great majority of people in the United States, anyway, just don't much about the poor. That said, I wonder whether the choice is as "either-or" as you make it seem. One can do the sort of work you do and be politically active.
Does trying to prove the God exists undermine religion in that if successful, it removes the need for faith?
I've never met anyone whose belief in God was the result of a "proof" of God's existence. Even if one were convinced by such a proof, I think one's "faith" would have quite a different purpose.
When people speak of "morality", why does it always stem from a divine being? Why can't morality stem from reason?
I've often wondered whether anyone actually thinks that God's authority establishes moral principles. Of course, people say so. But when one asks such people why we ought to conform our behavior with the Divine Pronouncements, the answer, if it isn't to concede a moral standard independent of God's will, is usually that, otherwise, one will be cast into darkness with wailing and gnashing of teeth. But if so, then these aren't moral principles at all. They are arbitrary rules enforced through violence and fear. To say so isn't to say that, for a believer, God need have nothing to do with morality. That God isn't the source of moral principles doesn't imply that God isn't an authority on moral truth in the sense that someone can be an authority on, say, mathematics. (Interesting ambiguity there.) It does imply, however, that if it is wrong to covet one's neighbor's ass, then there has to be a reason other than God's saying so that it's wrong to covet one's neighbor's ass.
I don't think many philosophers would claim to have the answer to very many questions. A philosopher doesn't have to reflect very long on the history of the subject to convince h'erself that a healthy does of modesty would probaby be a good idea. Any philosopher who does claim to have the answer ought therefore to be met with great skepticism. That's not to say philosophers don't have views. They do. But the reasons offered for the view matter more than the view itself does. That's not to say philosophers wouldn't like to have answers. But the questions with which philosophers deal are very, very hard, and, well, after a while you get used to the idea that you're just not going to get to know the answer. That doesn't mean one has to remain wholly ignorant. A lot of the time, what philosophy can offer is a better understanding of a question, a better sense of what the possible answers look like, and some warnings about known dead ends. With all of that in one's mental toolbox, further...
Psychology is advancing at a rapid rate and it's providing us with answers that were previously unthought of. Who we are and why we act the way we do is all being deciphered in a scientific and irrefutable way. In light of this change in the human attempt to understand itself, why should people continue to waste their energies in the non-empirical and unscientific approach known as philosophy?
If you want to know what love is, you'll learn more at this point from Pablo Neruda and the Song of Solomon than you will from all the psychologists in the world. And I venture that there will always be something you can learn from Neruda that the psychologists will not be able to teach you. That's not to argue for some kind of dualism (though there's a way of taking these reflections that would bring them quite close to Jackson's knowledge argument ). It's simply to say that "understanding oneself" can mean many things. I'm sure psychology has something to teach us here. But so does literature. And what philosophy has to contribute to this particular enterprise may be more along the latter lines than along the former.
One might add that it is by now well established that people are, in general, terrible at probabilistic reasoning. So if there's anything hard-wired in that case, it probably doesn't conform to the laws of probability. It's a nice question why not, but it might be, for example, that reasoning according to certain heuristics that don't always work is faster or what have you than reasoning according to the rules that are actually valid. Or maybe there's some other reason.
I am upset that people have started using 'it begs the question' to introduce a question. For instance, "it begs the question: why do people incorrectly use phrases?" So my question, which isn't begged, is this: as philosophers, don't we have a duty to correct people in this regard? Or, is this (incorrect) use something we can live with?
I could be wrong about this, but I believe that the original use of the term "begs the question" is the one that has lately become common and that the "technical" use of the phrase by logicians and philosophers was adapted from the original use. I take "That argument begs the question" in some sense to be short for "That argument begs the question originally at issue".
Suppose we decide to let 'Steve' name the successor of the largest number anyone has ever thought about before next Tuesday. Can I now think about Steve? For example can I think (or even know) that Steve is greater than 2? If not, why not? If so, wouldn't that mean that some numbers are greater than themselves?
This question poses a version of Richard's paradox. (That's French: RiSHARD.) It's clear that not every number can be named using an expression of English that contains fewer than twenty-five syllables. There are only finitely many such expressions, after all. So there are some numbers that are not namable using fewer than twenty-five syllables, and it therefore follows from the least number principle (which is equivalent, under weak assumptions, to mathematical induction) that there is a least number that is not namable using fewer than twenty-five syllables. But now consider the phrase "the least number not namable using fewer than twenty-five syllables". It has twenty-four syllables, and so it would seem that the least number not namable using fewer than twenty-five syllables can be named using only twenty-four. Contradiction. What Richard's paradox shows is that the notion of namability or definability needs to be treated with great care. A great deal of interesting mathematics was done in...
If there is a God, should we ever know who made him/her/it? And if the answer is "God has always existed" then why not argue that the universe has always existed (even before the BingBang) and therefore not created by God. What I am really trying to ask is: How is leaving a question's answer infinite, any answer at all?
When considering a question such as this one, it's worth remembering what the "dialectical context" is, that is, who's asking what question for what purpose, and who's trying to prove what. So, in this case, if someone is trying to prove that God exists by asking "Who made all this stuff?" then the question, "Well, who made God, then?" is perfectly fair, and the answer, "Well, God just is" is, as you note, adequately answered by "Well, then maybe all this stuff just is". What that shows is that the argument has no probative force : It doesn't prove its conclusion; indeed, in this case, at least, the argument doesn't seem to provide any real support for its conclusion. If, however, the question "If there is a God, who made him, her, or it?" is intended to pose a problem for theists, then the answer "God just is" is perfectly adequate, so long as one's reason for saying that God exists isn't the one just mentioned. Which is to say that there is a stalemate here.