Monday, December 20, 2010

The philosopher, something either monstrous or god-like...

Nurtured in freedom and taking their time, there is something dreadfully uncanny about the philosopher, something either monstrous or god-like or indeed both at once. This is why many sensible people continue to think the Athenians had a point in condemning Socrates to death.-Critchley

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and political activist. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky is well known in the academic and scientific community as one of the fathers of modern linguistics, and a major figure of analytic philosophy. Since the 1960s, he has become known more widely as a political dissident and an anarchist,[8] referring to himself as a libertarian socialist. Chomsky is the author of more than 150 books and has received worldwide attention for his views, despite being typically absent from the mainstream media.

Chomsky is also the eighth most cited human being in history, behind Karl Marx, Lenin, Shakespeare, Aristotle, the Bible, Plato and Freud.

In the 1950s, Chomsky began developing his theory of generative grammar, which has undergone numerous revisions and has had a profound influence on linguistics. His approach to the study of language emphasizes "an innate set of linguistic principles shared by all humans" known as universal grammar, "the initial state of the language learner," and discovering an "account for linguistic variation via the most general possible mechanisms." He elaborated on these ideas in 1957's Syntactic Structures, which then laid the groundwork for the concept of transformational grammar. He also established the Chomsky hierarchy, a classification of formal languages in terms of their generative power. In 1959, Chomsky published a widely influential review of B. F. Skinner's theoretical book Verbal Behavior. In this review and other writings, Chomsky broadly and aggressively challenged the behaviorist approaches to studies of behavior and language dominant at the time, and contributed to the cognitive revolution in psychology. His naturalistic approach to the study of language has influenced the philosophy of language and mind.

Beginning with his opposition to the Vietnam War, first articulated in his 1967 essay "The Responsibility of Intellectuals" and later extended in his American Power and the New Mandarins (1969), Chomsky established himself as a prominent critic of U.S. foreign and domestic policy. He has since become an outspoken political commentator and a dedicated activist; he is a self-declared anarcho-syndicalist[12] and a libertarian socialist, principles he regards as grounded in the Age of Enlightenment and as "the proper and natural extension of classical liberalism into the era of advanced industrial society."

Chomsky's social criticism has also included an analysis of the mass media; Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), co-written with Edward S. Herman, articulated the propaganda model theory for examining the media.

According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar from 1980 to 1992. He is also the eighth most cited source of all time, and is considered the "most cited living author". He is also considered a prominent cultural figure, while his status as a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy has made him controversial.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Albert Camus ([albɛʁ kamy ] (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French Algerian author, philosopher and journalist. He was a key philosopher of the 20th-century, with his most famous work being the novel L'Étranger (The Stranger). In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement, which was opposed to some tendencies of the Surrealist movement of André Breton.

Camus was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times". He was the second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, after Rudyard Kipling, and the first African-born writer to receive the award. He is the shortest-lived of any Nobel literature laureate to date, having died in an automobile accident just over two years after receiving the award.

Although often cited as a proponent of existentialism, the philosophy with which Camus was associated during his own lifetime, he rejected this particular label. In an interview in 1945, Camus rejected any ideological associations: "No, I am not an existentialist. Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked..."

Specifically, his views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. He wrote in his essay "The Rebel" that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual freedom.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Aristotle (Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης, Aristotélēs) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato's teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle's writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics.

Aristotle's views on the physical sciences profoundly shaped medieval scholarship, and their influence extended well into the Renaissance, although they were ultimately replaced by Newtonian physics. In the zoological sciences, some of his observations were confirmed to be accurate only in the 19th century. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which was incorporated in the late 19th century into modern formal logic. In metaphysics, Aristotelianism had a profound influence on philosophical and theological thinking in the Islamic and Jewish traditions in the Middle Ages, and it continues to influence Christian theology, especially the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church and some strains of Eastern Orthodox thought. His ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics. All aspects of Aristotle's philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues (Cicero described his literary style as "a river of gold"), it is thought that the majority of his writings are now lost and only about one-third of the original works have survived.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

David Hume

David Hume (7 May 1711 [26 April O.S.] – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He is regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment. Hume is often grouped with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist.

Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic "science of man" that examined the psychological basis of human nature. In stark opposition to the rationalists that preceded him, most notably Descartes, he concluded that belief rather than reason governed human behavior, saying famously: "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions." A prominent figure in the skeptical philosophical tradition and a strong empiricist, he argued against the existence of innate ideas, concluding instead that humans have knowledge only of things they directly experience. Thus he divides perceptions between strong and lively "impressions" or direct sensations and fainter "ideas," which are copied from impressions. He developed the position that mental behavior is governed by "custom"; our use of induction, for example, is justified only by our idea of the "constant conjunction" of causes and effects. Without direct impressions of a metaphysical "self," he concluded that humans have no actual conception of the self, only of a bundle of sensations associated with the self. Hume advocated a compatibilist theory of free will that proved extremely influential on subsequent moral philosophy. He was also a sentimentalist who held that ethics are based on feelings rather than abstract moral principles. Hume also examined the normative is–ought problem. He held notoriously ambiguous views of Christianity,but famously challenged the argument from design in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779).

Kant credited Hume with waking him up from his "dogmatic slumbers" and Hume has proved extremely influential on subsequent philosophy, especially on utilitarianism, logical positivism, William James, philosophy of science, early analytic philosophy, cognitive philosophy, and other movements and thinkers. The philosopher Jerry Fodor proclaimed Hume's Treatise "the founding document of cognitive science." Also famous as a prose stylist, Hume pioneered the essay as a literary genre and engaged with contemporary intellectual luminaries such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith (who acknowledged Hume's influence on his economics and political philosophy), James Boswell, Joseph Butler, and Thomas Reid. Hume remains one of the giants of Western philosophy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

René Descartes

René Descartes (French pronunciation: [ʁəne dekaʁt]; 31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650)

(Latinized form: Renatus Cartesius; adjectival form: "Cartesian")was a French philosopher, mathematician, physicist, and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the "Father of Modern Philosophy", and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day. In particular, his Meditations on First Philosophy continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments. Descartes' influence in mathematics is also apparent; the Cartesian coordinate system—allowing geometric shapes to be expressed in algebraic equations—was named after him. He is credited as the father of analytical geometry. Descartes was also one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution.

Descartes frequently sets his views apart from those of his predecessors. In the opening section of the Passions of the Soul, a treatise on the Early Modern version of what are now commonly called emotions, Descartes goes so far as to assert that he will write on this topic "as if no one had written on these matters before". Many elements of his philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century, or in earlier philosophers like St. Augustine. In his natural philosophy, he differs from the Schools on two major points: First, he rejects the analysis of corporeal substance into matter and form; second, he rejects any appeal to ends—divine or natural—in explaining natural phenomena. In his theology, he insists on the absolute freedom of God’s act of creation.

Descartes was a major figure in 17th-century continental rationalism, later advocated by Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, and opposed by the empiricist school of thought consisting of Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Hume. Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes were all well versed in mathematics as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well. As the inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system, Descartes founded analytic geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis. He is perhaps best known for the philosophical statement "Cogito ergo sum" (French: Je pense, donc je suis; English: I think, therefore I am; or I am thinking, therefore I exist or I do think, therefore I do exist), found in part IV of Discourse on the Method (1637 – written in French but with inclusion of "Cogito ergo sum") and §7 of part I of Principles of Philosophy (1644 – written in Latin).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)

Immanuel Kant started as a traditional rationalist, having studied the rationalists Leibniz and Wolff, but after studying David Hume's works, which "awoke [him] from [his] dogmatic slumbers", he developed a distinctive and very influential rationalism of his own, which attempted to synthesise the traditional rationalist and empiricist traditions.

Kant named his branch of epistemology Transcendental Idealism, and he first laid out these views in his famous work The Critique of Pure Reason. In it he argued that there were fundamental problems with both rationalist and empiricist dogma. To the rationalists he argued, broadly, that pure reason is flawed when it goes beyond its limits and claims to know those things that are necessarily beyond the realm of all possible experience: the existence of God, free will, and the immortality of the human soul. Kant referred to these objects as "The Thing in Itself" and goes on to argue that their status as objects beyond all possible experience by definition means we cannot know them. To the empiricist he argued that while it is correct that experience is fundamentally necessary for human knowledge, reason is necessary for processing that experience into coherent thought. He therefore concludes that both reason and experience are necessary for human knowledge.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Since the Enlightenment, rationalism is usually associated with the introduction of mathematical methods into philosophy, as in Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza. This is commonly called continental rationalism, because it was predominant in the continental schools of Europe, whereas in Britain empiricism dominated.
Rationalism is often contrasted with empiricism. Taken very broadly these views are not mutually exclusive, since a philosopher can be both rationalist and empiricist. Taken to extremes the empiricist view holds that all ideas come to us through experience, either through the five external senses or through such inner sensations as pain and pleasure, and thus that knowledge is essentially based on or derived from experience. At issue is the fundamental source of human knowledge, and the proper techniques for verifying what we think we know (see Epistemology).

Proponents of some varieties of rationalism argue that, starting with foundational basic principles, like the axioms of geometry, one could deductively derive the rest of all possible knowledge. The philosophers who held this view most clearly were Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, whose attempts to grapple with the epistemological and metaphysical problems raised by Descartes led to a development of the fundamental approach of rationalism. Both Spinoza and Leibniz asserted that, in principle, all knowledge, including scientific knowledge, could be gained through the use of reason alone, though they both observed that this was not possible in practice for human beings except in specific areas such as mathematics. On the other hand, Leibniz admitted that "we are all mere Empirics in three fourths of our actions" Rationalism is predicting and explaining behavior based on logics.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


The term "empirical" was originally used to refer to certain ancient Greek practitioners of medicine (Empiric school) who rejected adherence to the dogmatic doctrines of the day (Dogmatic school), preferring instead to rely on the observation of phenomena as perceived in experience. The notion of tabula rasa ("clean slate" or "blank tablet") dates back to Aristotle, and was developed into an elaborate theory by Avicenna and demonstrated as a thought experiment by Ibn Tufail. The doctrine of empiricism was later explicitly formulated by John Locke in the 17th century. He argued that the mind is a tabula rasa (Locke used the words "white paper") on which experiences leave their marks. Such empiricism denies that humans have innate ideas or that anything is knowable without reference to experience.

According to the empiricist view, for any knowledge to be properly inferred or deduced, it is to be gained ultimately from one's sense-based experience. As a historical matter, philosophical empiricism is commonly contrasted with the philosophical school of thought known as "rationalism" which, in very broad terms, asserts that much knowledge is attributable to reason independently of the senses. However, this contrast is today considered to be an oversimplification of the issues involved, because the main continental rationalists (Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz) were also advocates of the empirical "scientific method" of their day. Furthermore, Locke, held that some knowledge (e.g. knowledge of God's existence) could be arrived at through intuition and reasoning alone. Similarly, Robert Boyle, a prominent advocate of the experimental method, held that we have innate ideas.

Some important philosophers commonly associated with empiricism include Aristotle, Alhazen, Avicenna, Ibn Tufail, Robert Grosseteste, William of Ockham, Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, Robert Boyle, John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume, John Stuart Mill, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

Jung's Analytical Psychology

A 37 year old Carl Jung in 1912.

In Carl Jung's analytical psychology, he contrasted a rational, decisive logos with an emotional mythos. Jung contrasted the critical and rational faculties of logos and with the emotional, non-reason oriented and mythical elements of mythos. In Jung's approach logos vs mythos can be represented as "science vs mysticism", or "reason vs imagination" or "conscious activity vs the unconscious".

For Jung, logos represented the masculine principle of rationality, in contrast to its female counterpart, eros:

Woman’s psychology is founded on the principle of Eros, the great binder and loosener, whereas from ancient times the ruling principle ascribed to man is Logos. The concept of Eros could be expressed in modern terms as psychic relatedness, and that of Logos as objective interest.
Jung attempted to equate logos and eros, his intuitive conceptions of masculine and feminine consciousness with the alchemical Sol and Luna. Jung commented that in a man the lunar anima and in a woman the solar animus has the greatest influence on consciousness. Jung often proceeded to analyze situations in terms of "paired opposites", e.g. by using the analogy with the eastern yin and yang and was also influenced by the Neoplatonics.

In his book Mysterium Coniunctionis Jung made some important final remarks about anima and animus:

In so far as the spirit is also a kind of "window on eternity"... it conveys to the soul a certain influx divinus... and the knowledge of a higher system of the world, wherein consists precisely its supposed animation of the soul.

And in this book Jung again emphasized that the animus compensates eros, while the anima compensates logos

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Incompleteness Theorem

The Incompleteness Theorem

In 1931 and while still in Vienna, Gödel published his famous incompleteness theorems in "Über formal unentscheidbare Sätze der Principia Mathematica und verwandter Systeme" (called in English "On formally undecidable propositions of Principia Mathematica and related systems"). In that article, he proved for any computable axiomatic system that is powerful enough to describe the arithmetic of the natural numbers (e.g. the Peano axioms or ZFC), that:

If the system is consistent, it cannot be complete.

The consistency of the axioms cannot be proven within the system.

These theorems ended a half-century of attempts, beginning with the work of Frege and culminating in Principia Mathematica and Hilbert's formalism, to find a set of axioms sufficient for all mathematics. The incompleteness theorems also imply that not all mathematical questions are computable.

In hindsight, the basic idea at the heart of the incompleteness theorem is rather simple. Gödel essentially constructed a formula that claims that it is unprovable in a given formal system. If it were provable, it would be false, which contradicts the idea that in a consistent system, provable statements are always true. Thus there will always be at least one true but unprovable statement. That is, for any computably enumerable set of axioms for arithmetic (that is, a set that can in principle be printed out by an idealized computer with unlimited resources), there is a formula that obtains in arithmetic, but which is not provable in that system. To make this precise, however, Gödel needed to solve several technical issues, such as encoding statements, proofs, and the very concept of provability into the natural numbers. He did this using a process known as Gödel numbering.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Power to Integrate....

Wittgenstein, who ... looked back nostalgically on a well-ordered world where everyone had his place, found modernity uncultured because it had lost its power to integrate, and left individuals in a state of confusion. The only ones who can keep their balance and personal creativity are those whom Nietzsche calls the strong men, that is the most moderate, who need neither convictions nor religion, who are able not only to endure, but to accept a fair amount of chance and absurdity, and are capable of thinking in a broadly disillusioned and negative way without feeling either diminished or discouraged (p. 296).by Jacques Le Rider’s (1993)

What is the Use of Studying Philosophy?

What is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., and if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life .... You see, I know that it is difficult to think well about “certainty”, “probability”, “perception”, etc. But it is, if possible, still more difficult to think, or try to think, really honestly about your life and other people’s lives.-Wittgenstein

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Compassion (from Latin: "co-suffering") is a virtue —one in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy (for the suffering of others) are regarded as a part of love itself, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnectedness and humanism —foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.

There is an aspect of compassion which regards a quantitative dimension, such that individual's compassion is often given a property of "depth," "vigour," or "passion." More vigorous than empathy, the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering. It is often, though not inevitably, the key component in what manifests in the social context as altruism. In ethical terms, the various expressions down the ages of the so-called Golden Rule embody by implication the principle of compassion: Do to others what you would have them do to you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Dialectical Forms of Government

The dialectical forms of government

Plato spends much of the Republic narrating conversations about the Ideal State. But what about other forms of government? The discussion turns to four forms of government that cannot sustain themselves: timocracy, oligarchy (also called plutocracy), democracy and tyranny (also called despotism).

Socrates defines a timocracy as a government ruled by people who love honor and are selected according to the degree of honor they hold in society. Honor is often equated with wealth and possession so this kind of gilded government leads to the people valuing materialism above all things.

These temptations create a confusion between economic status and honor which is responsible for the emergence of oligarchy. In Book VIII, Socrates suggests that wealth will not help a pilot to navigate his ship. This injustice divides the rich and the poor, thus creating an environment for criminals and beggars to emerge. The rich are constantly plotting against the poor and vice versa.

As this socioeconomic divide grows, so do tensions between social classes. From the conflicts arising out of such tensions, democracy replaces the oligarchy preceding it. The poor overthrow the inexperienced oligarchs and soon grant liberties and freedoms to citizens. A visually appealing demagogue is soon lifted up to protect the interests of the lower class. However, with too much freedom, the people become drunk, and tyranny takes over.

The excessive freedoms granted to the citizens of a democracy ultimately leads to a tyranny, the furthest regressed type of government. These freedoms divide the people into three socioeconomic classes: the dominating class, the capitalists and the commoners. Tensions between the dominating class and the capitalists causes the commoners to seek out protection of their democratic liberties. They invest all their power in their democratic demagogue, who, in turn, becomes corrupted by the power and becomes a tyrant with a small entourage of his supporters for protection and absolute control of his people.

Ironically, the ideal state outlined by Socrates closely resembles a tyranny, but they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. This is because the philosopher king who rules in the ideal state is not self-centered but is dedicated to the good of the state insofar as the philosopher king is the one with knowledge.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Vita Contemplativa

Vita Contemplativa

It may already be September. I drank tasteless coffee
in the cafe garden of the Museum-Insel
and thought about Berlin, its dark waters.
Black buildings that have seen so much.
But peace reigns in Europe, diplomats doze,
a pale sun, the summer dies serenely,
spiders weave its shining shroud, the plane trees'
dry leaves write memoirs of their youth.

So this is the vita contemplativa.
The black walls enclosing white sculptures.
The bust of a Greek beauty. So this is it.
An altar before which no one prays.
So this is the vita contemplativa.
Narkissos--a Roman copy of a Greek boy
on prosthetic limbs of bronze (a veteran of which war?).
Then a kuros with his pouch of testes (a vanished phallus).

We seem to occupy a desert island.
Time moves deliberately, without haste.
Helpless rapture, so this is the vita contemplativa.
Bliss. An instant with no hour, as the poet said,
the poet killed in Lublin by a bomb.
But what if, in this or a different city,
the vita activa surged again, what would Artemis,
fourth century B.C.E., do then? Hermes? Narcissus?

Parchment faces stare at me with envy--
I still make mistakes, they can't.
Comparing day and night, so this is it.
Sleep and waking, mind and world, this is it. Joy.
Tranquility, taut attention, the levitating heart.
Lucent thoughts smoulder in black walls.
So this is it. What it is, we do not know.
We dwell in the abyss. In dark waters. In brightness.

By Adam Zagajewski, Translated From the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vandana Shiva

"[How do I do it?] Well, it's always a mystery, because you don't know why you get depleted or recharged. But this much I know. I do not allow myself to be overcome by hopelessness, no matter how tough the situation. I believe that if you just do your little bit without thinking of the bigness of what you stand against, if you turn to the enlargement of your own capacities, just that itself creates new potential. And I've learned from the Bhagavad-Gita and other teachings of our culture to detach myself from the results of what I do, because those are not in my hands. The context is not in your control, but your commitment is yours to make, and you can make the deepest commitment with a total detachment about where it will take you. You want it to lead to a better world, and you shape your actions and take full responsibility for them, but then you have detachment. And that combination of deep passion and deep detachment allows me to take on the next challenge, because I don't cripple myself, I don't tie myself in knots. I function like a free being. I think getting that freedom is a social duty because I think we owe it to each not to burden each other with prescription and demands. I think what we owe each other is a celebration of life and to replace fear and hopelessness with fearlessness and joy."
— Vandana Shiva

The Golden Rule

Ancient Greek philosophy

The Golden Rule was a common principle in ancient Greek philosophy. Examples of the general concept include:

"Do not do to your neighbor what you would take ill from him." – Pittacus

"Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing." – Thales

"What you do not want to happen to you, do not do it yourself either. " – Sextus the Pythagorean

"Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others." – Isocrates

"What thou avoidest suffering thyself seek not to impose on others." – Epictetus

"It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing 'neither to harm nor be harmed', and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life." – Epicurus

"One should never do wrong in return, nor mistreat any man, no matter how one has been mistreated by him." - Plato's Socrates

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Methods of Gaining Wisdom- Confucius

There are three methods to gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is limitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest.

Twilight and Philosophy

The Editor of PhilosophyTweet has not read this book:  Bella and Edward, and their family and friends, have faced countless dangers and philosophical dilemmas in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight novels. This book is the first to explore them, drawing on the wisdom of philosophical heavyweights to answer essential questions such as: What do the struggles of "vegetarian" vampires who control their biological urge for human blood say about free will? Are vampires morally absolved if they kill only animals and not people? From a feminist perspective, is Edward a romantic hero or is he just a stalker? Is Jacob "better" for Bella than Edward?


Eternalism is a philosophical approach to the ontological nature of time. It builds on the standard method of modeling time as a dimension in physics, to give time a similar ontology to that of space. This would mean that time is just another dimension, that future events are "already there", and that there is no objective flow of time. It is sometimes referred to as the "Block Time" or "Block Universe" theory due to its description of space-time as an unchanging four-dimensional "block", as opposed to the view of the world as a three-dimensional space modulated by the passage of time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Bertrand Russell said envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness. It is a universal and most unfortunate aspect of human nature because not only is the envious person rendered unhappy by his envy, but also wishes to inflict misfortune on others. Although envy is generally seen as something negative, Russell also believed that envy was a driving force behind the movement towards democracy and must be endured in order to achieve a more just social system.

envy is the pain or frustration caused by another person having something that one does not have oneself. 

Kant defined envy as "a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed by another's because the standard we use to see how well off we are is not the intrinsic worth of our own well-being but how it compares with that of others" 

Envy is one of the Seven deadly sins of the Christian Church

In Islam, envy (Hassad in Arabic) can destroy one's good deeds. Therefore, one must be content with what God has given to them by saying Maashallah (God has willed it).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lives of Eminent Philosophers

Pythagoras Quotes come from this book.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Enjoy your Time by improving yourself...

Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for. -Socrates 

It shouldn't be employ your time but, "Enjoy your Time by improving yourself..."

What is philosophy?

Philosophy does not spring forth for reasons of utility, but neither does it flourish out of caprice.  It is constitutionally necessary of the the intellect.  Why? Its purpose was to seek all things as such, to hunt the Unicorn, to capture the universe.  But why that eagerness? Why not be content without philosophizing, with what we find in the world, with what already is, what stands there clear before us?  For this simple reason:  all that there is, there in front of us, given to us present and clear, is in its very essence a mere piece, a bit, a fragment, the stump of something absent.  And we cannot see it without sensing and missing the part that is not there.    In every given being, every datum of the world, we find its essential fracture line, its character as a part and only a part; we see the scar of its ontological mutilation; its ache of the amputated cries out to us, its nostalgia for the bit that is lacking, its divine discontent.  Some years ago speaking in Buenos Aires, I defined discontent as "like loving without being loved, like a pain we feel in parts we do not have." It is the missing of what we are not, the recognizing of ourselves as crippled and incomplete. -Jose Ortega y Gasset

Monday, June 21, 2010

PhilosophyTweet T-Shirt

PhilosophyTweet T-Shirt will be used to fund The PhilosophyTweet Anti-Library.

The PhilosophyTweet T-Shirt will have "PhilosophyTweet" embroidered in the front and the Orange @Philosotini image ( on the back.  Please send your email address to: 

PhilosophyTweet will then send an invoice to you by email.

What is the Anti-Library?

The anti-library: A library of the books you haven't read, of the things you don't know. A massive collection of unknowledge, the anti-library contains all the books and maxims that may change your destiny.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Philosophy of Time

It has been said that people spend their time less wisely than their money.  Since most Americans are up to their eyeballs in debt this is a very painful truth.  Are you so obsessed with schedules and multitasking to save time that you no longer have time to reflect on where you are going?

Ten factors as accompanying an experience of flow:

Csíkszentmihályi identifies the following ten factors as accompanying an experience of flow:[3][4]
  1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities). Moreover, the challenge level and skill level should both be high.[5]
  2. Concentrating, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
  3. loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
  4. Distorted sense of time, one's subjective experience of time is altered.
  5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
  6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
  7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
  8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
  9. A lack of awareness of bodily needs (to the extent that one can reach a point of great hunger or fatigue without realizing it)
  10. People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.
Not all are needed for flow to be experienced.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Samurai Philosophy

The philosophies of Buddhism and Zen, and to a lesser extent Confucianism and Shinto, influenced the samurai culture. Zen meditation became an important teaching due to it offering a process to calm one's mind. The Buddhist concept of reincarnation and rebirth led samurai to abandon torture and needless killing, while some samurai even gave up violence altogether and became Buddhist monks after realizing how fruitless their killings were. Some were killed as they came to terms with these realizations in the battlefield. The most defining role thatConfucianism played in samurai philosophy was to stress the importance of the lord-retainer relationship; this is, the loyalty that a samurai was required to show his lord.
Bushidō ("way of the warrior") was a term that began to appear in intellectual and nationalist discourse after the Japanese defeat of China in 1885 and of Russia in 1905 [11]Hagakure or "Hidden in Leaves" by Yamamoto Tsunetomo and Gorin no Sho or "Book of the Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi both written in the Tokugawa period (1603–1868)are theories often associated with Bushido and Zen philosophy.
The philosophies of Buddhism and Zen, and to a lesser extent Confucianism and Shinto, are attributed to the development of the samurai culture. "The notion that Zen is somehow related to Japanese culture in general,and bushido in particular, is familiar to Western students of Zen through the writings of D. T. Suzuki, no doubt the single most important figure in the spread of Zen in the West." [12]
In an account of Japan sent to Father Ignatius Loyola at Rome, drawn from the statements of Anger (Han-Siro's western name), Xavier describes the importance of honor to the Japanese (Letter preserved at College of Coimbra.):
"In the first place, the nation with which we have had to do here surpasses in goodness any of the nations lately discovered. I really think that among barbarous nations there can be none that has more natural goodness than the Japanese. They are of a kindly disposition, not at all given to cheating, wonderfully desirous of honour and rank. Honour with them is placed above everything else. There are a great many poor among them, but poverty is not a disgrace to any one. There is one thing among them of which I hardly know whether it is practised anywhere among Christians. The nobles, however poor they may be, receive the same honour from the rest as if they were rich".[13]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Parmenides of Elea

Parmenides of Elea (GreekΠαρμενίδης ὁ Ἐλεάτης; fl. early 5th century BCE) was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Elea, a Greek city on the southern coast of Italy. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy. The single known work of Parmenides is a poem which has survived only in fragmentary form. In this poem, Parmenides describes two views of reality. In The Way of Truth (a part of the poem), he explains how reality is one, change is impossible, and existence is timeless, uniform, and unchanging. In The Way of Opinion, he explains the world of appearances, which is false and deceitful. These thoughts strongly influenced Plato, and through him, the whole of Western philosophy.

Thinking and the thought that it is are the same; for you will not find thought apart from what is, in relation to which it is uttered. (B 8.34-36)
For thought and being are the same. (B 3)
It is necessary to speak and to think what is; for being is, but nothing is not. (B 6.1-2)
Helplessness guides the wandering thought in their breasts; they are carried along deaf and blind alike, dazed, beasts without judgment, convinced that to be and not to be are the same and not the same, and that the road of all things is a backward-turning one. (B 6.5-9)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Frank Knight- The Capitalist system is not Ethically Defensible

Knight was an avid proponent of a cosmopolitan laissez-faire – but he did so on unique, "non-consequentialist" grounds. As is evident in his famous Ethics of Competition (1923) and in other works on ethics throughout his life, Knight does not regard the capitalist system as ethically defensible. Capitalism, he claims, does not produce what people want but merely creates the wants for what it produces – "the freest individual. in large measure a product of the economic environment that has formed his desires and needs, given him whatever marketable productive capacities he has, and which largely controls his opportunities." (Knight, 1923). Furthermore, he argued that there was a tendency in market systems towards monopoly, that the "efficiency" of markets was misleading for there was no sense of "usefulness" of its output to society, that the marginal productivity thesis had erroneous ethical implications as "the income does not go to "factors" but to their owners. ..and ownership of personal or material productive capacity is based upon a complex mixture of inheritance, luck and effort, probably in that order of relative importance" (Knight, 1923).

Monday, June 14, 2010


Relativism-conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Philosophy Tweet

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