Recent Responses

Many years ago someone asked a question I'm still unable to answer. I think it falls under 'perception'. I traveled quit a bit and had many interesting experiences as a woman working for a multi-national corporation. While in Pakistan, I met a co-worker's wife. We got along very well and had a great time discussing something we both enjoyed very much - cooking. She turned to me and asked, "What does an avocado taste like?" They just weren't available to her in Lahore. She had seen pictures and read recipes but never had one. I couldn't relate the taste through comparison because avocadoes are unique. I could talk about colour or texture but that didn't satisfy her question about flavour. I asked many people when I got home. The answers all related to texture or colour. I had an interesting disagreement over the answer, "It tastes green." How do you express or talk about flavour without a base to compare against? How can someone share perception without a common experience? Thanks Nadine

Joseph G. Moore 4/5/06 (changed 4/5/06) Permalink That's a great example, and a great question. There are a number of obstacles to conveying the taste of an avocado to another person in words. Some are practical and some are philosophical. First, even those of us who've tasted avocados will have difficulties recalling the taste when we're not actually tasti... Read more

Dear Sir I would like you to ask you that what is the definition of and duration of the present? The harder I try to figure out the answer the more clear it becomes that the present is just the most recent imprint of our senses on our consciousness. In a moment this imprint is transferred to our memories and it fades away. This gradual fading away of imprints from our senses gives us a feeling that time is passing. I think that the feel of time is a function of the fading process of our imprint on our memory. That is why in different situations we feel differently about the passage of time. I think there is no duration of present. Future is directly converted into past. Some part of our consciousness is in future and some of it is in past. Please comment on my thought thanks and regards Omar Javaid javaid_omar@hotmail.com

Peter Lipton 4/5/06 (changed 4/5/06) Permalink These are interesting and difficult questions about time. First of all, it's helpful to distinguish our sensation of time from time itself. Time would exist even if there was no consciousness in the universe. It is less clear whether would be any interesting notion of past, present and future. Acording to a... Read more

It seems that philosophical discussions of any issue lead nowhere, since disputes are bound to arise whatever answer is given to a philosophical question. Discussion of any philosophical question seems to lead only to endless series of arguments and counter-arguments. On the other hand, whatever happens in philosopical discussions and debates seems to make no difference to our ordinary life - science goes on, religion goes on, anti-religious ideologies go on, society goes on. So, wouldn't it be better to devote our time and intellectual resources to things that make difference (i.e. to practical things or theoretical things that make practical difference)?

Marc Lange 4/4/06 (changed 4/4/06) Permalink Many beginning students of philosophy are led to ask questions of this kind. I can sympathize: a philosophy course can seem to consist of arguments and counterarguments, intuitions and counterexamples, with no final resolution offered to any of the questions taken up, and simply an array of failed proposals litte... Read more

What is the relation between law and morality? Do they always go hand in hand, or is there such things as immoral laws or illegal morality? Jean

Peter Lipton 4/3/06 (changed 4/3/06) Permalink Racist laws and laws concerning slaves provide examples of how legality and morality come apart. A law could make it legal to keep slaves, even if that is immoral; a law could prohibit one from helping someone of another race, even if that is morally obligatory. You can fail to do what is right without break... Read more

I was walking down my school hall today and was thinking about just some random things, such as how this hallway smells, who that person looks like, etc. Then, about 2 minutes later I began to think the same basic thoughts, just in a seperate location and at a later time. Since nobody else heard these thoughts the first time, maybe my mind did not really think of them 2 minutes ago but was just telling myself that 2 minutes ago I thought those things. What I mean to say is, how can I be sure that I thought of something earlier if my mind may have just fabricated its own memories?

Alan Soble 4/3/06 (changed 4/3/06) Permalink In my salad days, I would have replied: keep an accurate, comprehensive diary; take a lot of photographs; and hang on to all your receipts. Now I know better. None of this solves the logical problem. For example, when you are writing down your thoughts or acts in your diary, are you remembering correctly and henc... Read more

Before a computer is assembled, it's a pile of useless wires and hardware. Put it all together and the whole is much greater than its parts, in that it can do things like beat the best chess player in the world. Conversely with the human brain, severe enough head injuries can cause profound changes in personality. Doesn't this "whole much greater than the sum of parts" not prove that dualism fails Occam's razor? I mean, if there was a soul independent of brain matter, where does it go after severe head injuries? By all accounts, people are not who they used to be after such unfortunate losses. Thanks Jeff

Richard Heck 4/6/06 (changed 4/6/06) Permalink Most dualists hold that the mind acts through the brain somehow (assuming they hold that the mind "acts"). Hence brain damage would diminish the mind's ability to act, much as damage to other parts of one's body might. Most dualists (but not epiphenomenalists) would also hold that changes in the body (mostly, t... Read more

If there is not any criterion for truth and any methodology for checking propositions with evidence, why should we consider philosophy as a way to truth? It can be understood as a kind of playing with thought, in spite of searching the truth. It can be classified in a cluster with poker and chess, not with science. Sorry for probable rudeness.

Thomas Pogge 4/2/06 (changed 4/2/06) Permalink Not rude at all -- just uninformed. Well understood, philosophy does not pretend to be "a way to truth," nor does it ask to be classified with science. First coined in ancient Greek, "philosophy" means "love of wisdom." So, it is not truth but wisdom we are after. And we don't pretend to deliver it to you, but... Read more

What's the METHOD in philosophic research? Don't tell me, please, that it's logic or the principle of inconsistency. The logic can be applied to all kinds of thinking: scientific, religious, philosophic, and even artistic. What I mean by METHOD is something like case-control or cohort methodology in scientific research. Is there any methodology in philosophic research? Do philosophers conduct any research for testing their propositions/hypotheses with some kinds of evidence? How? Which kind of evidence are they concerned about? How much evidence is enough for approving or refuting a hypothesis?

Peter S. Fosl 7/22/07 (changed 7/22/07) Permalink While it's right to say that philosophy has no single distinctive method, over time it has developed what I suppose could be called families or quivers of methods and tools. In some ways this collection has also determined the distinctive character of philosophy as a form of investigation. Among these tool... Read more

What justifies so many people, especially nasty people who don't show us any respect, in talking about their having "human rights"? I mean, doesn't it need to be in my interest to respect bad people's rights? Ewan

Thomas Pogge 4/1/06 (changed 4/1/06) Permalink Human rights are understood as very basic rights that every human being has. By virtue of having these rights, every human being enjoys some minimal moral protections against being treated in certain ways by other (individual or collective) human agents. And by virtue of having these rights, every human being a... Read more

What's the METHOD in philosophic research? Don't tell me, please, that it's logic or the principle of inconsistency. The logic can be applied to all kinds of thinking: scientific, religious, philosophic, and even artistic. What I mean by METHOD is something like case-control or cohort methodology in scientific research. Is there any methodology in philosophic research? Do philosophers conduct any research for testing their propositions/hypotheses with some kinds of evidence? How? Which kind of evidence are they concerned about? How much evidence is enough for approving or refuting a hypothesis?

Peter S. Fosl 7/22/07 (changed 7/22/07) Permalink While it's right to say that philosophy has no single distinctive method, over time it has developed what I suppose could be called families or quivers of methods and tools. In some ways this collection has also determined the distinctive character of philosophy as a form of investigation. Among these tool... Read more

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