is Jungs' theory of synchronicity simply nonsense? I can make neither head nor tail of it. It is often quoted by 'new agers' as sign that we are all in a way "connected" (i.e networks for a higher consciousness, etc) and I feel that they have abused the original concept, but I myself can't even understand it.

Perhaps we might start with a distinction between two things the accusation of nonsense might mean. One is that it's patently false; the other is that there's no coherent idea. Your worry is pretty clearly the latter, and I'm sympathetic: whatever exactly Jung meant, it's hard to be sure that one has gotten hold of it. With that in mind, my sense is that there's an interesting idea behind the notion of synchronicity, though not one I'm inclined to believe. Insofar as I understand it, synchronicity is meaningful coincidence . More particularly, it's meaningful coincidence between an inner state of mind and an occurrence in the outer world. By saying that synchronicities are coincidences, Jung meant that neither of the events causes the other. By saying that the coincidence is meaningful, Jung seems to mean two things. The first, and more obvious, is that the outer event corresponds in a meaningful way to the inner state. In one of Jung's well-known examples, a patient is recounting a dream about a...

What is a possible world? So I read Quine's two dogmas, and he says that there is no distinction between an analytic statement and a synthetic one. If I have that right. But when people talk about possible worlds they seem to think there is. So if Quine is right there is only one possible world, isn't there?

I'm not sure there's much of a connection. Whether or not some things are true by virtue of meaning along and whether there are incompatible ways things could be strike me as different questions. The thought might be that if there are no analytic truths, there are no necessary truths, no impossibilities, and no meaningful distinctions between supposed possibilities, hence no notion of different possible worlds. But that seems way too quick. For starts, whether there are necessary truths and whether such truths hold by virtue of meaning alone are different questions. I can't talk myself out of thinking that "1 +1 = 2" is a necessary truth, even if I'm a lot less sure that it holds by virtue of meaning alone. I also think that "There are no more than 2 people in this room" (i.e., the one I'm in right now) and "there are at least 7 people in this room" are two different, incompatible possibilities, whether or not the analytic/synthetic distinction is real. But leave all that heady stuff aside. You...

Hello Philosophers! Can anyone defend the Ontological Argument against Kant's criticism that existence is not a predicate?

Sure. Even if existence is not a predicate, it's at least arguable that necessary existence is. (As Norman Malcolm pointed out years ago, there really are two versions of the argument, and the second one deals with necessary existence.) We doubt that existence is a predicate because, roughly, saying that something exists tells us nothing about what it's like. Not so for necessary existence. Not just anything could exist necessarily. The computer I'm typing on is the wrong sort of thing to be a candidate for necessarily existing thing. Assuming that some things are of the right sort to exist necessarily, necessary existence would be a predicate. Whether this is a defense of the argument all things considered is another matter. But I think the point made here is fair as far as it goes. A being that merely happened to exist wouldn't be a being than which none greater can be conceived.

What would Kant say about "networking"? Poses a dilemma for me bc of his prohibition against using people, which networking is, by definition. Is there a way we could modify or qualify networking to fit his Categorical Imperative, as in: well, if you offer in return a commensurate service, and if you wouldn't mind everyone doing it or even would recommend it... any ideas?

The key is to be careful about what Kant says. You must never use people merely as means, but must also treat them as an end in themselves. One common example is buying something in a store. I use the clerk as a means to the transaction, but I don't coerce her/him. If I did, that would be a case of using someone merely as a means. Since I take seriously the need for the clerk's (implicit) consent to the arrangement, I am also treating the clerk as an end. Networking is similar. The people in the network all consent. No one is being coerced, and so long as everyone is being truthful and otherwise decent to one another, then there's no violation of the Categorical Imperative.

I am currently reading Theaetetus, for a course at university, and I am struck by the number of times Socrates discusses "God" (for example, 176c, where Socrates says "God" is utterly and perfectly righteous). Considering the fact that these dialogs were written centuries before the birth of Jesus, and the fact that the Greeks were almost certainly not Jewish, it seems odd that the translators should use a monotheistic god when translating Socrates' words. Did the Greeks actually have a serious concept of monotheism, and is this concept what is being referred to in the English translations of Theaetetus? Or is this "God" just a way for the translator to "whitewash" the ancient Greeks so as to make it easier for Christians (be it theistic Christians or non-Christians who grew up with Christian cultural heritage) to relate to the dialog? Does such a translation do justice to the original?

I'd been hoping one of our classicists would take a stab at this, but since none has… The Jews were not the only people in the ancient world to develop monotheistic ideas, nor, for that matter, was Judaism clearly monotheistic (as opposed to henotheistic — taking Yahweh to be their god and the most powerful.) There's a strong abstract and unificatory streak in Greek thought that would make the development of monotheistic ideas unsurprising, whether most people accepted them or not. But on the matter of translation, I fid it hard to imagine any of the classicists I know hedging their translations to make them acceptabe to wider Christian culture. On the contrary, if the usual translations were suspect, I'd expect this to be an active debate in the literature, and far as I know, it's not.

What do you philosophers think of when non-philosophers step into your turf? Are "pop-philosophers" (for lack of a better term, I don't see the "man on the street" going hooplah over what Putnam or Kripke says) worth reading or do they have any good philosophical value at all? What do you philosophers think of Dawkins commenting on God which I believe is your turf? What do you philosophers think of when Stephen Hawking says that philosophy is dead?

I'll speak for myself, but I think there are lots of other philosophers who would agree. For me it's not a matter of turf. There are people who weren't trained as philosophers but who have made serious contributions to philosophy. To take but one example, I have a colleague whose formal training was entirely in physics -- all the way to the PhD level. But he's an excellent philosopher. Philosophers would need to be very careful about laying claim to any stretch of intellectual territory -- not least because so much of contemporary philosophy is "Philosophy of X," where X is some discipline like physics or psychology. Richard Dawkins has as much business talking about religion as I do; I just wish he'd do it a bit less ham-fistedly. And while I have enormous respect for Hawking as a physicist, he simply hasn't done his homework when he makes pronouncements about the death of philosophy; he appears to have very little idea what sophisticated philosophers actually have to say. So I'm happy to...

I have recently become very interested in philosophy and have recently decided to work through Plato's Republic. However, I am already a little confused with Book I. Ideally; I should like to understand Book I before I move on. What confuses me is how Socrates presents his arguments, or rather how he undermines the arguments of others. It almost seems that all of what Socrates says is trickery. I think a good example of what I'm saying is the "Analogy of the Arts". Socrates uses the analogy to convince Polemarchus that "justice is the art which gives good to friends and evil to enemies". So far, this analogy seems to make sense and I would agree with Socrates. However, Socrates goes on to use the analogy to make it appear that Justice is of no use in times of peace. Really? At this point I believe that the analogy has been taken too far and has been taken in such literal understanding that it has been stretched beyond context. Another problem I am having is how specific Socrates is getting in...

You're not the first person to find some of Socrates' reasoning a bit slippery; there are many philosophers who would agree. But a suggestion: if you want to get a good introduction to philosophy, working though Plato's Republic on your own is probably not a good way to do it. out Plato Philosophy is a live discipline, and most of the people who practice it don't spend much time thinking about Plato. Better to start with something written a lot more recently -- Simon Blackburn's Think is a possibility as a place to start, but you might also consider good introductions to special topics, such as Robert Kane's A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will , for example.

Hume showed that belief in induction has no rational basis, yet everyone believes it and in fact one can't help believing it. How then can one criticize religious belief, the person who says "I know my belief in God has no rational basis, but I believe it anyway"?

At least part of the answer to your question is hidden in the way you phrased it. Suppose that I'm wired so that there's really nothing I can do about the fact that I think inductively. As soon as I put my copy of Hume down, I revert straightaway and irresistibly to making inductive inferences. We usually 't think it doesn't make sense to criticize people for things they have no control over. If we can't help making inductions, then criticism is pointless. But we don't think that all non-rational beliefs are like this. On at least some matters, we're capable of slowly, gradually changing the way we think until the grip of the irrational belief weakens to the point where we can resist it. For example: someone might realize that they're prejudiced against some group. They might come to see that this prejudice is simply irrational. That might lead them to think they should try to change the way they think and react, and they might well succeed . Or to take a different example, when cognitive...

Does Rawls consider inborn abilities an important determinant of social status? I haven't read his entire text in A Theory of Justice, but when he mentions the veil of ignorance, is he considering social status more or less a matter of fate?

I have a feeling I'm missing your point, but I suspect Rawls would have said that what determines social status is complicated. I doubt he'd describe it as "fate" since it seems pretty clearly to be a combination of things: accidents of birth (the social status of one's family), partly, one assumes, one's abilities, , and all this against the background of the social arrangements of the particular society. In any case, the people behind the veil of ignorance don't know their social status, but not because this is or isn't a matter of "fate." It's because if they did, it would presumably make a difference to the social arrangement they favored, and that misses the point of the veil.

How can one determine authenticity and authoritativeness? For example, how would you gauge the authenticity of the panelists' responses? Does studying philosophy give the panelists anymore authority to issues like abortion, love, or education than the "average" non-philosopher? Is there not a little ego in that notion?

I have a little ego, so I'll offer a little answer. I agree completely: it's not necessary to have studied philosophy to be able to say sane, sensible things about abortion, love, education and so on. Indeed, it would be very bad news if being able to think well about those sorts of things called for specialized training in philosophy. And in fact, no one on this panel is an authority on what people ought to think about, say, capital punishment. The questions philosophers think about are, as it's sometimes put, essentially contested. It's in the nature of the strange business we're in that no one is an authority on the answers in the way that a physicist might be an authority about the answer to some scientific question. No one should accept the conclusions folks on this panel come to just because we're philosophers, and none of us would want anyone to do that. What philosophers are often good at, however, by skill, training and inclination, is sorting through the logical and conceptual details...