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How is it that such can be true, as in many historic philosophical works and their base, that all has been done... that nothing is to be seen as new... when quite factually (according to science) the relative age of our existence in regard to all else that is known and yet to be discovered in our perception and reality, is comparable to that of an infant at best? Perhaps even yet to have been "born" being still in a gestative state..... Is such opinion not simply from our confined and very limited perspective?

There are a few philosophical works that express the conviction that they have solved all the important problems and that nothing new of any interest should be expected. But these are in the minority. Most philosophical works on the contrary emphasize how much work is left to be done, how much we don't know, how much room and need there is for new ideas and approaches.

Hi, I am an aspiring philosopher and I would like to become a professor one of these days. But I don't know how to go about it. I am still an undergrad student and I don't what steps to take. The advice will be much appreciated. Thanx.

One good test of whether one ought to pursue philosophy is whether one finds oneself staying up at night worrying about philosophical questions.

In this vein, I was once told that if I read Thomas Nagel's Mortal Questions and found one essay that kept me up worrying, then I would know that I should go on to graduate school. (Nagel's book is a good test of one's interest because it includes essays on a wide variety of topics, from ethics to the philosophy of mind to free will to the meaning of life.)

It is important to try to figure out how much, and why, it matters to one to be a philosopher. After all, philosophy in particular, and academia in general, is not the easiest of professions, and one must be willing to make all sorts of sacrifices, both in graduate school and afterwards, in order to remain in the profession. So one should try to determine whether one is willing to make the sacrifices that may be necessary.

Why do I feel stupid when confronted with questions about Philosophy and yet, I'm strangely attracted to it? Am I a masochist or someone who doesn't know better? Cheers! Victor

Of course I can't say what's up with you, Victor, since I don't know you, but I can report that the questions in philosophy often have that dual effect on people. On the one hand, they are utterly seductive and mesmerizing. On the other hand, their elusiveness and apparent intractability can be painful at times. Some of the greatest of philosophers have felt the stupidity before philosophical problems that you report; for instance, the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein felt this very strongly and would frequently castigate himself — often before his dumbfounded students — for his stupidity. Perhaps you're right in your suggestion that these traits might be connected: for some people are most attracted by precisely that which remains out of their reach.

What is the difference between ethics and morality?

A distinction is sometimes drawn between ethics as concerning all the values or goods that might be instantiated in a person's life (well-being, friendship, virtue of character, aesthetic qualities, and so on), and morality as the narrower domain of moral obligation only (right and wrong, what's forbidden and permitted, etc.). Bernard Williams thought that one of the problems with modernity and modern philosophy is an excessive focus on morality as opposed to ethics, the former being what he called 'the peculiar institution' (see his *Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy*, ch. 10). The Greek philosophers, he thought, had a broader conception, one we should try to share.

Are there logic systems that are internally consistent that have a different makeup to the logic system that we use?

On Dan's comment. The distinction between so-called weak counterexamples and strong ones is, of course, important. But it really is possible to prove, in intuitionistic analysis, the negation of the claim that every real is either negative, zero, or positive. The argument uses the so-called continuity principles for choice sequences. I don't have my copy of Dummett's Elements of Intuitionism here at home, but the argument can be found there. A short form of the argument, appealing to the uniform continuity theorem—which says that every total function on [0,1] is uniformly continuous—can be found in the Stanford Encyclopedia note on strong counterexamples.

There is an important point here about the principle of bivalence, which says that every statement is either true or false. It's sometimes said that intuitionists do not, and cannot, deny the principle of bivalence but can only hold that we have no reason to affirm it. What's behind this claim is the fact that we can prove that we will not be able to find a statement P and show that it is neither true nor false. That is to say, we can prove that there is no statement that is neither true nor false. But that does not, by itself, show that it is incoherent to hold that not every statement is either true or false. The two claims are intuitionistically consistent.

What's the difference between a philosophy and a religion?

One might mark the difference between philosophy and religion by looking at the different bases given for claims in these two domains. Philosophical claims are justified by arguments, which provide reasons to believe those claims; religious claims need not rest on arguments, but appeal to faith.

To be sure, philosophers have sought to give arguments for religious claims: such argument are part of what is called natural religion. Nevertheless, certain claims--such as the claim that Jesus is the son of God, or the doctrine of the Trinity--are recognized to lie outside the scope of rational justification, and therefore are considered to be part of revealed religion.

Arguably, philosophy began to be distinguished from religion in the work of the Pre-Socratics, and one can track the emergence of rational justification for claims as one reads through their fragments.

Is there an "unconscious", or "subconscious", and if so why hold that such an entity exists.

I'm not sure what you mean by "unconcious". If something braodly Freudian, then I'm not in a position to answer this. But there is another notion of "unconscious" that figures heavily in comtemporary empirical psychology: It is the idea of processing or information that is inaccessible to conscious reflection. For example, the standard view in linguistics nowadays is that our ability to speak and understand our native languages depends upon all sorts of unconcious processing. The evidence for this view is the explanatory success of linguitic theory. It is possible, for example, to state an extremely general principle governing when a pronoun can be "bound by" an antecedent (that is, "refer back" to it) which will account for why the first but not the second of these can mean that John saw John in the mirror:

  1. John saw him in the mirror.
  2. John saw himself in the mirror.

There are all kinds of similar contrasts that the principles explain. Compare, for example:

  1. Bill thinks it would be wrong to kill him.
  2. Bill thinks it would be wrong to kill himself.

The former cannot mean that Bill thinks it would be wrong for him to commit suicide. It can mean either that that it would be wrong for some unspecified person to kill Bill or that it would be wrong for Bill to kill "him", where who that is is determined by context. The latter can mean only that Bill thinks it would be wrong for Bill to commit suicide. It cannot mean that Bill thinks it would be wrong for some unspecified person to commit suicide. Why? Well, "binding theory" explains that too.

The principles of binding theory appear to be correct for all known human languages. The question therefore arises why all normal human beings end up speaking a language for which those principles are correct. A priori, there are lots of possibilities, but the one that seems most plausible is that the principles of binding theory themselves (or something nearby) are known, unconciously, by normal human speakers and that these principles figure in the processing that leads us to hear these sentences as we do. Indeed, these principles are plausibly known innately, since they are not plausibly learned. But they are not, again, something most people consciously know.

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