I don't think I like my mother as a person. I mean, if I were not her daughter I think I will not befriend this kind of woman. It's not that I hate her, I just dislike the value she has. Is this feeling acceptable? Do we, children, have an obligation to love our parents? Or is it suppose to be natural?

There is an old saying (I'm told it originates with Kant, but I am not sure about that), which goes, "'ought' implies 'can.'" The idea is that you can only be held responsible or have an obligation to do something (you "ought" to do it) if it is something that is under your control. Do you suppose that emotions (such as love) are under one's voluntary control? I'm inclined to doubt that (with a few reservations, which I will get to momently). But if love is not something that you can voluntarily control, then it makes no sense to say that you have an obligation to love your mother (or anyone else, for that matter). On the other hand, we do also evaluate people on the basis of how they feel about things, and on the basis of emotions they have and display. We same that some anger, for example, is inappropriate, and we regard most examples of hatred as at least unfortunate, if not contemptible. Does this make sense? I think it does make some sense, in that at least one of the things we value ...

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 for one am hoping that philosophers' obsessions with these notions will simply go away, because aas your question indicates, I think these concepts are more useful for creating confusions than for solving real philosophical problems. Surely one can (quite correctly) regard it as very much in one's own self-interest to do things for others. Any parent knows this! So why should we find ourselves tied in knots trying to figure out whether this is really altruistic or egoistic (as if somehow the distinction mattered)? Other-regarding bevaior can also be self-regarding, if one includes among one's self-interests the interests of others who are important to one. Now, an act presumably cannot both entirely sacrifice one's own self interest and also promote one's self-interest. But I have never been able to see why sacrifices of some of one's self-interests can't also be ways to promote others of one's self-interests. This does not mean that the notion of selfishness (as a vice), or...

Is it conceivable that there are truths about science, nature or the universe that we are better off not knowing? What might some such truths be?

There have recently been psychological studies showing that people tend to have somewhat inflated views about themselves in terms of their own attractiveness. Those whose self-images most closely mathced other people's actual assessments of them tended to be depressed. So that is one example. Another comes from Greek mythology (see Aeschylus's Agamemnon from his trilogy, the Oresteia ). Cassandra seduced Apollo, and promised to have sex with him if he gave her the gift of prophesy. He agreed and gave her that gift, but then she reneged on heer part of the deal. So Apollo added the curse that no one would ever believe Cassandra's prophesies. Cassandra "sees" that she (and her captor, Agamemnon) are about to be mercilessly slaughtered in his home. But there's nothing she can do about it, and no one will listen to her when she wails out her terrors... There's an old blues song that goes, "Nobody loves me but my mama...but she may be jivin', too." So there's another option for you!

So Oedipus comes along, gets into a fight with a stranger (his father, unknown to him), and kills his father. Depending on the telling, either the killing was intentional, or it was in self-defense; let's assume the former. If Oedipus intended to kill Laius, and Laius is Oedipus' father, but Oedipus didn't know that Laius was his father, did Oedipus intend to kill his father?

Your question raises what is known as the " de dicto/de re " distinction. Rather than give a formal explanation of that (for which, have a look at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), I'll try to put an answer without using the distinction explicitly. One way we can think about intentions is to think that an intention is at least partly contituted by the specific content in which the intention would be expressed. Hence, when Oedipus killed the man where three roads met, his intention was not to "kill his father" (or, for that matter, to "kill Laius"), but to "kill the SOB who has the gall to push me--the crown prince of Corinth--aside"). In other words, if you asked Oedipus, "What is your intention?" he would surely not sincerely reply in terms off anything having to do with his father. On the other hand, it is also true that there is another sense in which he intended to kill his father, since he intended to kill that man, and that man = his father. But I think if we were reporting...

Is our society's assumed negative view of pre-marital sex only because of what is said about it in the Bible? Or does this also account the fact that sex is used for procreation? But at the same time, why is it more shocking to hear that a high school student hasn't had sex rather than has?

I suspect that you put it well when you state that it is our society's "presumed negative view," since I suspect that it is a minority of people who actually do marry as virgins these days. So if our actual cultural values are reflected in our practices, then I think what we find is that only a minority actually share the negative view of which you speak. Truly, I think even where there is some sort of negative view, it falls within something of a double standard: We have a negative view about others engaging in pre-marital sex (especially if the others happen to be our daughters!), but we do not regard that view as applying to our own behavior. Anyway, I think that most people now realize that pre-marital sex is much more the norm than the exception, which is why it is more surprising to hear of someone in their late teens who has not yet had sex than to hear that they have. I'm not sure what the current statistics are, as to high schoolers, but obviously the percentage who have had sex will go...

how do i get out of the depression i am in???

While I do regard Leaman's advice as good philosophical advice about practical ways to improve one's reactions to things, I would hasten to add that depression is now widely recognized as a treatable problem of brain chemistry. In brief, those who are suffering from depression would be well advised to talk to their physicians about it. It may be that the best reply you could get to your question would be from a physician, rather than from a philosopher!

Is the exhortation by Jesus to "Love thy neighbor as thyself" something that many or most modern ethicists would agree with? What about the part about "loving thy enemy"?

It probably depends on which ethicist you ask, but one consideration weighs against these mandates, and that is the criterion of what is called "demandingness." A theory that demands more from human agents than they can be reasonably held responsible for is too demanding. Arguably, these mandates are too demanding. They might be held as a certain ideal to be strived for, but not as moral requirements, I think.

I'm having a hard time separating virtue ethics from other theories. As I understand it, virtue ethics states that we ought to have strong moral characters, because virtue will help us make moral decisions; the decisions themselves are said to be mere reflections of one's character. But, first, how is this different from deontology, i.e. a preoccupation with rules and duties? Isn't a virtuous character simply somebody who follows certain rules and who perceives certain duties? Alternatively, how is it different from utilitarianism? Isn't a virtuous person merely a person who is intrinsically motivated to behave in such a way that produces more happiness? Aren't virtues just descriptors of such a character?

Here is a way to distinguish the different theories: What does each regard as the primary bearer of value? Is it the characters of moral agents (so that actions have value only insofar as they are either symptomatic of, derive from, or help to create or sustain the approved character-traits). Or, is primary value associated with certain sorts of outcomes? Or perhaps is value to be understood as primarily an intrinsic property of action-guiding rules? The first sort of answer is what we would expect from a virtue theory, the second from a consequentialist theory (of which utilitarianism is one version), and the third from a deontological theory.