• Artur Braun added an answer:
    Which was the value of the oral or written form of philosophical communication in ancient Greece?

    A truth must be always called into question and you can only do it through dialogue, in oral form, because what is written does not change. The script does not respond to questions posed by the interlocutor and this nullifies the value of philosophical dialogue where the two parties together are seeking the truth, with each other's questions and answers

    Plato was wary in communicating his ideas in writing. In ancient Greece in fact the preferred way to display any kind of knowledge was the spontaneous use of oral communication. When the written transmission appeared, this assumed the function of fixing thoughts synthetically in order to make storable in the memory a new content of knowing. Until the fifth century, when the sophists appear masters of rhetoric, the poetic expression was certainly superior to prose, more suitable for expressing abstract thoughts. Even afterwards, however, as in the Hellenistic and late imperial age the use of the verse was not completely abandoned.

    Another widely used kind of philosophical communication of ancient times was the epistle, usually directed at an acquaintance or friend of the writer, and in that it was often initially private. Moreover, the ancients were reluctant to publish letters about their private and intimate life and then the epistle gradually assumed for philosophical considerations the value of being taken besides the readers.

    Plato in his Letter VII seems to support positions similar to those of his teacher Socrates on the limits of writing but it looks even to anticipate certain interpretations of the value of the communication of existence found in Kierkegaard when saying that he will hide his personal convictions about "things that were given thought" since it is difficult to understand if not in contact with existential dialogue rather than in writing. "However, this I can say on behalf of all those who have written or will write to know things that I think, both for having heard me, and having them heard by others or for having discovered for themselves: I believe impossible that they have understood anything of that subject. On these matters there is no my writing nor will there ever be [...] For this reason, no one who has good sense will dare to commit his own thoughts to such a means of expression, to an immobile way of communication, as they are precisely the words set out in characters of writing. "

    Plato's solution was to keep the expression in prose in the philosophical discourse, but at the same time recover the artistic aspect by introducing the literary form of dialogue and especially the use of myth. Plato will try to recover the poetic wisdom within philosophy; Aristotle instead, breaking all relations with poetry, thought that in the philosophical discourse  philosophy would only be rational and specialized.

    The problem prevailing from Socrates onwards was not so much to give or not an  artistic garment to the philosophical thought, but if the communication should be submitted orally or in writing.

    Plato in fact was in disagreement with his teacher Socrates who had never wanted to state his thoughts in writing because the written word is like "a bronze that being struck gives always the same sound." The script did not respond to questions of the interlocutor and this nullified the value of philosophical dialogue where the two parties together are seeking the truth with each other's questions and answers. A truth that must also be called into question and that is possible only through dialogue, in the oral form, because what is written does not change.

    So, there are two opposing needs: that of Socrates who aspires to a philosophizing open and evolving, leading to the conviction of the interlocutor, but that remains imprecise in colloquial language and not well defined in its terms, and that of Plato adopting a closed system of doing philosophy which does not allow immediate answers because what he says has long been considered and determined in the certainty of the written words and mainly because what they receive is unchanging truths that comes from the "world of ideas". A way of philosophizing that of Plato more accurate but, in a sense static. It is no coincidence that in the Platonic ‘production’ the Socratic dialogue form of his writings, present in the early works, is progressively abandoned in maturity: the figure of Socrates loses more and more importance and the dialogue is reduced to a monologue, a dialogue, as has been said, of the soul with itself.

    Artur Braun

    I see no fundamental difference between the spoken communication and written communication other than, in ancient times before voice recorders were available, that the written form is a record which can be checked over again for potential necessary clarifications of what has been "said" or written, or what has been "meant".

    Latter in the end is again a matter of discussion, debate, discourse. The practical use of written form is obvious because it can be stored and transported and archived, and copied and distributed with ease (disregard that spoken communication nowadays can be done the same with).

    Does anyone of you know Heidegger's "Feldweg-Gespräche" ? The (certainly written) discussion of a scholar, a scientist and a teacher. Right now I was somewhat comfused because I mistook it with "Holzwege".

  • Radim Brixi added an answer:
    Astral Projection?
    What does it mean to say that the soul leaves the body?
    Radim Brixi

    Based on Franz Bardon's  terminology it means that you leave the material body and travel with astral body.

    Some details can be found also here:

  • Ferenc Hörcher added an answer:
    Can literary studies increase creativity?
    One of the benefits of reading literature and engaging in literary studies is that it has the ability to increase inter-subjectivity and expand ones' own experiences. Does the expansion of subjectivity facilitate creativity and creative thinking, or are the benefits simply limited to the above.
    Ferenc Hörcher

    As I see it, a simple consumption of leterary works does not necessarily enhance creativity directly. However, fictional works can help to develop our ability to use our phantasy, which is a prerequisitie of creativity. Also, through a widening up of one's vocabulary and stylistic refinenement one's ability to write creatively might also develop.

  • Andrey Luchnik added an answer:
    Can it be avoided that in ethics naturalisic fallacy indicates a defect of reasoning blamed by naturalists to derive prescriptions from descriptions ?

    Naturalistic fallacy is an expression found for the first time in Principia Ethica, a work published in 1903 by the English philosopher George Edward Moore. According to it, the concept of good which is at the basis of moral discourse is a simple concept and can not be further defined.

    When you claim to identify it with some natural property, such as useful or pleasant, it falls into the naturalistic fallacy, which includes both the naturalistic ethical theories and the ethical metaphysical theories. The choice of a solution can not entirely exclude the other ones.

    It is possible to escape this contradiction by adopting the intuitionistic solution by Moore for which the good is sensed as the yellow color: in this way, you will know what it is and there are no alternative solutions. Moore soon realized that his solution, by virtue of intuitionism, could lead to subjectivist drifts: he pleaded this risk by focusing on the fact that the good is absolute, it expresses an intrinsic and universal value.

    In this way, any possible subjectivism is reset at the start. However, a new problem showed up: given that the good is universal, absolute and independent, which is its nature? Certainly, it cannot have an empirical nature, because if it did it would fall into the naturalistic fallacy; but neither can it be metaphysical, because otherwise you would re-awaken the metaphysical fallacy. The solution is then advanced  by Moore in recognizing that ‘good’ has an ontological status equal to that of Platonic ideas and numbers, which are absolute and objective without being either empirical or metaphysical: in this sense, the ‘good’ is just as number four.

    In later writings, Moore would soften his position, by arguing that the good depends on the intrinsic nature of things; in this way, he will approach Aristotelianism from Platonism... ".

    In the explanation of the onset of the 'naturalistic fallacy', one moves from 'having to be' which is the term used by Kant to indicate what is required by the moral law, regardless of any condition of fact and the entire order of nature. The moral law is an expression of reason in its practical use, that is, determining the will. The duty to provide what the law says to man, be reasonable but finite, exposed then to the empirical influences of  subjective motives and subjective inclinations, is expressed in the imperative form.

    Therefore, the ‘need to be' indicates "the relationship between the objective laws of the will in general and the subjective imperfection of the will."

    Then, since the moral imperative is not subject to any end, nor is placed by the faculty of desire, it addresses people in categorical terms, that is unconditioned, and then it is intended: "because you have to."

    It is by virtue of this duty that the possibility of action properly human is deducted: not the physical possibility to act, which belongs - as Kant says – to the order of causes and effects, but it is the moral possibility to fullfil the moral law or not, that qualifies man as a moral entity. Between the world of being - that is, of what is the way it is, according to the laws of nature - and the world of 'having to be'- that is of what is required by the moral law - an absolute hiatus opens up, the same as Hume had pointed out, denouncing the naturalistic fallacy which is to take prescriptive propositions, that is related to having to be, from descriptive propositions, related to what it is .

  • F. Leyvraz added an answer:
    Should there exist a temporal ordering between a cause and its effect?

    For example consider Newton’s second law P = mf. Here P is the force applied on a body of mass m producing acceleration equal to f. My question is should there be a temporal ordering between the instants of the application of P and the production of acceleration f? If it exists then there must be a delay present between the two happenings. On the other hand if it does not exist then how the sense of dependency can be maintained? How to avoid such logical contradiction?

    F. Leyvraz

    At this late stage in the discussion, I hardly dare to make such a suggestion: still, would it not be important to answer first the question: what do we mean by cause? Otherwise the discussion can go on forever.

    My suggestion for a definition of cause: it is something, the knowledge of which allows  useful and effective interventions in a given system. Thus, knowing that smoking causes cancer, we may decide not to smoke. Knowing Newton's laws and being in the position to kick a soccer ball, we may score a goal by applying an appropriate force. On the other hand, saying that the Sun causes planetary motions seems absurd to me. I do not claim, of course, tat he definition of cause I have just suggested is the only one, or the best. It is the one that makes most sense to me. In particular, of course, causal thinking is only relevant in a probabilistic setting, since when determinism is perfect and knowledge absolute, there is nothing anybody can do.

  • Mina Sennek added an answer:
    Would a judicial system be better if it were computerised; replacing judge, jury and lawyers?
    I've had recent experience of the judicial system here in Scotland on a number of occassions and my experience of cost, system and outcomes personally were very poor. I have wondered on and off since whether having a fully automated system would be more reliable with its judgements based in the laws, presidence and the patterns of these currently in society to ensure a more reliable reflection of the will of the people. It should be a great deal more economical than the current system.
    Mina Sennek

    One more thought, automation assumes that all relevant decision criteria can be predicted and that all programmed solutions are appropriate for all jurisdictions. That is simply not realistic.

  • Jonathan Edwards added an answer:
    Are we ready to understand Leibniz now?
    Three hundred years after the publication of Monadology in 1714, Leibniz's philosophical work remains largely ignored or misunderstood. There are important new developments in commentary from philosophers like Daniel Garber and some of the most serious misinterpretations, like 'psychophysical parallelism' are now being discarded, but there still seems to be very little appreciation of how much Leibniz's work presages modern physics. Leibniz was in many ways first and foremost a theoretical physicist, with his metaphysics being designed to describe that deeper layer of physics that was empirically hard to address and required careful inference. That deeper layer looks extraordinarily like fundamental physics as it is now understood. In this tercentenary year, is it perhaps time that Leibniz's prescience was more widely recognised and a more concerted attempt made to understand what he really meant - which probably bears little or no relation to what people thought he meant for most of the early twentieth century.
    Jonathan Edwards

    I think Richard is excellent. We disagree of some details but agree on a lot more I think. His Leibniz book for a general audience is very impressive.

  • H Chris Ransford added an answer:
    If it's confirmed that there has been something before the "Big Bang", what do you think about that "something"?
    Is anybody able to Imagine "Nothing" before the big bang? Does it mean no time and no space. Well, I cannot imagine there were nothing before the big bang. I think it might be something. But what about "something"? For me, this is the main question?
    H Chris Ransford

    Stefan, it may be all a bit more complicated, and independent of questions of semantics. Very many models of reality demand that time itself pre-exist the Big Bang for it to be able to happen in the first place (see e.g. Martin Bojowald , etc.) Then there are the issues of incompressible uncertainty, which prevent pinpointing infinitely exact moments in time.  Then there is the possibility that the topology of time is so counterintuitively non-linear that we are unable to grasp it properly (there are environments when this is demonstrably the case.) Then there is the possibility that time itself is an illusion, a side effect emerging in the lower dimensions of a purely mathematical universe. And so on ...

  • Kevin Stoda added an answer:
    Should cartoons be taken seriously?
    A cartoon is a drawing that portrays situations in an exaggerated style for
    humorous or satirical effect.

    See, for example, the sample cartoon from an 1869 issue of Punch magazine. Many cartoons have the universality of music. We do not have to read music to appreciate a sonata or symphony. Only listening is required. Similarly, one does not need to read the captions for most cartoons to see the humor or satire in a cartoon drawing by itself.

    Every country has its own cartoons and cartoonists. Here are some examples:

    Ziraldo Alves Pinto; Brazilian cartoonist
    Steve Bell (cartoonist) The Guardian (UK)
    Sergio Aragonés, known for his contributions to Mad
    Richard Decker, The New Yorker
    Yuliy Abramovich Ganf, Russia, Krokodil magazine
    Geoff "Jeff" Hook, Australian, Herald Sun
    John Leech, 19th-century Punch cartoonist
    Mario Miranda, The Economic Times, India
    Mana Neyestani, Iranian cartoonist
    Shigeru Mizuki, manga cartoonist
    René Pellos, French cartoonist
    Peter Klusen, German writer and cartoonist

    Cartoons appeal to young and old alike. So the question for this thread is Do cartoons have a message that we should take seriously? Do cartoons convey an underlying philosophy or message along with the humor of a cartoon?
    Kevin Stoda

    However, Marovic and James, cartoons as seen or defined in your cultures are cultural or social constructs.

    We have moved away from allowing total freedom of speech in the West because that speech is considered hateful. Calling the hate speech a cartoon does not provide license for abuse or hateful usage of art.

    Now that art is globalized so quickly on the internet, we may need to reconstruct our rules or social constructs.

    For example, byzantine art may be considered cartoonish in nature, but that will not lead a byzantine or a muslum to change their definition of what is right and sacred.

    Perhaps, if we are to create and share art, we--in global media, like the internet--need to clearly state at times for whom the art is made.  Perhaps we need to make disclaimers with the art. 

    We are no longer artists in our own little galleries.

  • Tsediso Makoelle added an answer:
    How can the African philosophy of "Ubuntu" help us conceptualise inclusion in an African context?

    'Ubuntu" departs from a premise that a person is an individual in relation to others. Which simply means you are a person because of others.

    Tsediso Makoelle

    very interesting view Stefan

  • Stefan Gruner added an answer:
    What is today the central problem for philosophy?
    After a series of "turns" from philosophical phenomenology to hermeneutics through semiotics and the philosophy of language, so that today the problem of meaning, even the meaning of philosophy, is essential.
    Stefan Gruner

    Dear Fernando,

    THE central problem of nowadays philosophy is the problem of Modernity or Modernism --- as far as I can see.

    • Just to give one example problem: the peculiar discrepancy between objectivism in the realm of the sciences and ---at the same time--- relativism in the realm of morality; is it not somehow strange that we are objectivists here and relativists there?

    All the so-called 'Postmodernism' is ---ultimately--- the philosophical reflection of Modernity upon itself; I do not believe that the era of Modernity has already ended.

    As you are based at a Catholic University ("Universidad Catolica"), you will surely find much inspiration in the publications by the Charles Taylor...


  • Stefan Gruner added an answer:
    History of philosophy: Who influenced Giordano Bruno's work (the most)?
    What literature, philosophy, cosmology, etc. did Bruno read?

    Is there a record of his library?

    Who was part of Bruno's intellectual circle?

    Are there archives documenting (m)any of his correspondences?
    Stefan Gruner

    @Alex Broudy:

    Such as Master Eckhart long time before him, Giordano Bruno was a Dominican monk. In this context it is interesting to note that also Master Eckhart had to stand trial on allegations of heresy.

    The irony of history is that the Dominican order had been created and established especially for the persecution and/or re-conversion of heretics ---"Dominican" is a Neo-Latin compound word, meaning "Dogs(Hounds) of the Lord"--- and then within the order of those anti-heretic persecutors a number of intellectually amazing 'heresies' evolved.

    Thus: to find a 'comprehensive' answer to your question, you must also study the history and the specific spirituality of the entire Dominican order --- and how they differed from other contemporary orders such as the Franciscans.

    The question is not so much: which books were available to them ---the number of books in those days was rather limited by nowadays standards--- but how the available books were interpreted. And there you might ---perhaps--- find different 'traditions of interpretation' in the different religious orders of the late Middle Ages --- e.g.: a Dominican might have read an Aristotle-book 'with different eyes', in comparison against how a Franciscan might have read and understood the very same Aristotle-book, because of their different 'outlook' on the world-at-large.


  • Radim Brixi added an answer:
    Is realisation of oneness of existence the ultimate Truth ?
    We say God is everywhere. We find existence everywhere.Attraction of each and every particle of existence indicates oneness of existence.
    Radim Brixi

    If you mean realization in terms of Buddhism then its a state of consciousness that reflects this truth. There are other steps and there is a death that will disconnect you from the incarnation to the other state which depends on the quallity of the realization and the state at the very end of life.

  • Bernd Schmeikal added an answer:
    A Paradox for Contemporary Society!


    Dejenie Alemayehu Lakew, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Mathematics
    Virginia Union University

    Imagine for a moment what religion was meant for, who initially brought it and what it is doing now on mankind and the groups who commit these crimes on innocent habitants of our planet earth.

    When you see in the name of soul searching, in the name of looking for the best possible imagined spiritual space somewhere, which is so tranquil, peaceful and faultless pure angelic place of eternity, how could people should first loose their soul, righteousness, humility etc., which are their main tickets of entrance to the heavens here on earth? How could a soulless being expects to be an angel in heaven, just right after his violent and cruel intent death here on earth? If existence should be continuous( which indeed is) but in different forms, then this type of violent way of changing existence is an irremovable infinite discontinuity which justifies the impossibility of martyrdom tickets to the heavens.

    This is a societal paradox where in old times mathematicians used to create fancy looking arguments, they enjoyed it for a while and after some time they discover that the logic was flawed. Here is one of the famous paradoxes which I always want to tell to my students when I teach about set theory, that not all arbitrary collections will form a set. The paradox is called Russell's paradox, due to the English philosopher and mathematician B. Russell.

    Russell' paradox : Consider a collection which is defined as follows:


    In words, X is defined as a collection which contains sets which are not contained in themselves.

    This definition or description of the collection X then says this: an object x will be in X if it is not in x, and x is not in X if it is in x . In short, X is contained in X if X is not contained in X and conversely X is not contained in X if it is contained in X. This is what we call a paradox but seeming logically correct in its definition. Many curious people created several real life counter examples which show indeed the construction was flawed. A common and popular example that shows indeed the construction of set X is a paradox is this :

    In a certain town all people go to an auto mechanic if only they can not fix their cars by themselves. Then the question is, when will the technician or authomechanic fix his own car?

    From looking at the hypothesis, the only time the technician will fix his car is when he can not fix his car and this is a paradoxical argument.

    It seems to me that some religions and some existing social norms( such as in politics which can be poly tricks in most cases) are full of such paradoxes. The point that I mentioned above, which is martyrdom in some religions is a best fit of a societal version of Russell's paradox: to be first in hell, in order to go to the heavens. For that reason the human society should restructure it self axiomatically to amend paradoxes that are almost everywhere dense in our existing social structures : religion, politics, economics,humanities, etc., and create very almost closer to correct, sensible systems with no paradoxes in it, where thinking, imagination and reasoning are cherished not only in scientific domains but in all structures of society.

    Re-structuring the human society by creating a well designed and well ordered axiomatic structure where all religions and other forms of non-scientific structures can be established in a consistent and complete way so that at no condition that mankind will take part in destruction, killing, inhumane activities for the sake of religion, and with all those moral and ethical axioms stated in the existing manuscripts of religions. In the construction of these systems, there should not be an axiom ( or axioms ) or a derivative of it which will incite violence, particularly in religions where there is a notion of life in heaven after earthly life. There should not be an : if..., then..., else..., loop of a negative actions at no time in religions. The path to heaven (if exists) should only be through good work, compassion, love for humanity, etc..

    Life in heaven has to be an existence(after death) in a different form, but an extension to that of a person's heavenly like exemplary life style here on earth : humane, compassionate, peaceful with a tranquil earthly life, who feels sufferings of others with the same magnitude (if not more) in whatever form, from what ever source, for whatever reason by others, that who does not inflict pain and damage on others intentionally or otherwise, and these are the traits of passengers to the heavens should have. Even airliners demand several months of bookings to make sure our flights are reserved. We can not get a ticket today and get on board and go where we want to go. These types of definitions will immediately remove all other forms of heavenly entrances, in particular the violent ones, the inhumane ones, the non-compassionate ones, which by no means are not extendable to the eternal heavenly spiritual domain of God.

    The situations happening in Iraq and some other countries where a single individual loaded with bombs, put him self among mothers, children, fathers, old and innocent ones and explode himself and kill all around him to go to the heaven, are the most paradoxical thinking that mankind ever created or imagined about the heaven and the means to go there. These kinds of definitions of heavens are simply fictional deep space missions where every body has his own destination which he calls it heaven, and this costs mankind collectively a lot here on earth, several civilizations are destroyed and buried, relationships are spoiled and left a scar of suspicions among peoples and countries, and among members of worshipers of different religions. In general the human race is undermined and humanity comes almost at the bottom of the to do list for these deep space mission travelers.

    I call these particular people, passengers of a black hole and their way, "passages with in a black hole" which is not a worm hole. Some thing in a black hole to escape from it, the path it has to use is a worm hole which takes the object to a new outer domain called a white hole, where there is an extreme of lightness contrary to the black hole. Therefore the wrong path in a black hole will not take things out of it but rather it takes them to another location with in the black hole. I use the black hole here to represent a place which is completely devoid of lightness, where reasoning and logic are not known, where human thinking is completely undermined, and above all sense of humanity is completely wiped out
  • Sudev Naduvath added an answer:
    Is law a science?
    The question has the merit of simplicity even if the response to it proves somewhat complex.
    Sudev Naduvath

    Law is not a science as it does not have  an objective  that everyone could universally agree on, irrespective of culture. Even though it is a set of well-defined rules, law does not include any scientific practices.  Certain laws are applicable but everywhere,  but scientific procedures are not applicable for law.

  • Ashfaq Ahmed Khokhar added an answer:
    Is there a "philosophy" approach to define spirituality?

    I have a student interested in comparing different fields' definitions of spirituality and/or approaches to defining spirituality. She's hoping to incorporate a "philosophy" perspective. Broad topic, obviously, but any suggestions for a representative article?

    Ashfaq Ahmed Khokhar

    Spirituality is total practical field. In simple words, it is science of using of those human brains characteristic or qualities which are used in sleep when human is awake.

    In general, we are only taught to use our brain on one dimension but there are other dimensions are as well. Some people are gifted with these and some activate through other means like meditation.

  • Marković G. Đoko added an answer:
    Does anyone know where is the papyrus (pergament) Archimedes method (Archimedes' letter to Dositej) ?

    From Papus "Anthology" (III century), we find that Archimedes had the original method by which he obtained his amazing discovery, but for her it was not known until Dane Heiberg early twentieth century, he found an ancient papyrus and deciphering found that this epistle, addressed Kononos' student Dositej, Archimedes' treatise on method.

    Marković G. Đoko

    Dear Salva Piera,
    Thank you for your interest in my question and detailed answer and attachments.

    Best regards

  • Marković G. Đoko added an answer:
    Are there mathematicians, scientists or philosophers whose work you view as influencing historical outcomes in a minor or in a major significant way?
    Do you think that the interaction between such scholars has led to the success of their work in making an impact?

    Scholars such as Euclid (geometry), Newton (science), Plato (philosophy) have
    been very influential in shaping the way we see the world. For example, Euclid’s
    Elements written in Alexandria around 300 B.C. became a standard work in geometry. It is one of the most widely read, translated and commented on work in European history. It was translated into Arabic around 800 A.D., into Chinese in 17th century and into Sanskit in the 18th century. The first english version of Euclid’s Elements was Sir Henry Billingsley’s translation published in 1570. Euclidean geometry has been enormously influential in shaping our view of the world. For more about this, see

    Plato, 428-348 B.C., descendent from kings of Athens and Messenia, student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle, founded the Academy of Athens, one of the institutions of higher learning in the Western world. He wrote about justice, beauty, equality, political philosophy, theology, cosmology, epistemology and the philosophy of language. For more about this, see
    A central notion in Plato’s philosophy is the theory of forms. The only true being is founded upon the forms, the eternal, unchangeable, perfect types, of which particular objects of sense are imperfect copies. This theory has been enormously influential in science and mathematics. For more
    about this, see

    Isaac Newton, 1643-1727, son of a farmer, Professor at Cambridge University, taught optics, introduced a theory of colours of light and theory of gravitation, published his Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, 1687, introducing infinitesimal calculus, co-discovered (with Leibniz). During his study of optics, Newton investigated the refraction of light, demonstrating that the multi-coloured speturm produced by prism (see attached image) could be recomposed into white light by a lens and a second prism. He showed that colour is the result of objects interacting with already-coloured light rather than objects generating the colour themselves. He designed the first reflecting telescope, demonstrating his telescope to the Royal Society in 1671.
    Marković G. Đoko

    Felix Klein, ie. its visionary  Erlangen program at the end of the 19th century predicted guidelines for the development of mathematics as a science and as teaching methodology in the 20th century.

  • Shian-Loong Bernard Lew added an answer:
    Is "knowledge" only a knowledge of models of reality, not knowledge of reality itself?
    Studies, such as by Godel, on incompleteness imply all conceptual systems, including logic and mathematics, and, by extension, the sciences, are incomplete.
    Shian-Loong Bernard Lew

    Very immersive discussions! Coming on board rather late...The history of science and its philosophy has in large part been a history of instrumentation. Whether it be the chronology of successive technological advancements or the rise and fall of systems of thought.And as such, though the object of investigation may be real (ontologically-speaking), the meaning, learning and knowledge through the course of interacting with it is always obscured- "through an instrument dimly." Thanks in part to the human mind as an instrument, and also the collective consciousness as a ferment for ideas, or a graveyard of lost/redundant ideas. The finite does not attain to the universal, as Gödel admitted with his  attempts at axiomatizing math.Yet within the bounded is to be found the boundless.Even models and metaphors can be beautiful with much depth of hope. As one might be awed by the implications from Cantor's dust.

  • Eduardo Alfredo Duro added an answer:
    How do you define research ethics?
    Ethical issues are a complimentary part of any research. What are their reality and origin?
    Eduardo Alfredo Duro

    Research Ethics is the branch of practical philosophy which addresses questions of morality in relation with all stages of process used  to understand the world, such planning, conducting and evaluating an experiment to understand or describes causal processes or investigate a phenomenon.

  • John David Sanders added an answer:
    Robotics, Genetics and AI with a touch of Philosophical prediction?
    Would it be reasonable to think that combining Molecular Genetics and Cognitive Robotics will some day (ex. in 10, 50, 100 yrs.) contribute to a successful convergence between man and machine to combat disease and degeneration of humans?
    Many science writers seem to say the merger in not too far away now. Should we believe them?
    John David Sanders

    Cognitive robots (electro-mechanically based) capable of fully  interacting with our environment will be a significantly different architecture from biological systems.  It is possible to have a biological solution and a mechanical/electronic system both of which may be, in some sense, viable (with respect to the environment) but which are mutually incompatible. And still we cannot say  that we will build a cybernetic solution within the next few decades. Convergence (if even possible) need not occur.

    Why do I say this? Because the driving force of their development is not the environment but the minds of people applying modelling, determinism, discrete rules from a basis which is machine dominated. (ie we are trying to simulate living systems)

  • Andrey Luchnik added an answer:
    The study of parts and wholes - any thoughts?

    I am looking for any information about the academic study of parts and wholes and the relationships between parts and parts as well as parts and wholes. I am interested in these entities especially from a philosophical, psychological and cognition point of view. I would be extremely grateful if anyone could share their knowledge in this area and their knowledge of sources on this topic.

  • Mikael M Karlsson added an answer:
    Is it possible to provide a simple definition of Aristotle's concept of powers?
    How does this relate to causation in his work?
    Mikael M Karlsson

    The target of your question is somewhat unclear, as is indicated by the rather diverse reactions of other respondents. Are you asking for a "simple definition" of dynamis (δύναμις),: the term that Aristotle uses for potency, potentiality, capacity, power, where the translation (into English, say) depends upon the context? As you list your topic as "metaphysics", dynamis would be the most likely candidate for the thing for which you hope to find a simple definition. If so, then there is no one simple definition to be found, but there are several definitions, as is so often the case for Aristotle's key systematic terms, since these are, according to him, typically polysemous. The normal place to start looking is in Metaphysics V — Aristotle's own "dictionary" of key terms. That doesn't always provide what you want, since the dictionary is not always in accord with what Aristotle says elsewhere. Moreover, the definitions provided may be difficult to fathom without reference to the larger discussions where the terms in question are deployed. But, if you are in fact interested in "power" in the sense of dynamis, then you will find Aristotle's own definitions in Metaphysics V, beginning at 1019a15. What he says there, in Tredennick's translation, is this:

    - - -

    [1019a] [15] "Potency" [δύναμις] means: (a) the source of motion or change which is in something other than the thing changed, or in it qua other. E.g., the science of building is a potency which is not present in the thing built; but the science of medicine, which is a potency, may be present in the patient, although not qua patient. Thus "potency" means the source in general of change or motion in another thing, or in the same thing qua other; [20] or the source of a thing's being moved or changed by another thing, or by itself qua other (for in virtue of that principle by which the passive thing is affected in any way we call it capable of being affected; sometimes if it is affected at all, and sometimes not in respect of every affection, but only if it is changed for the better). (b) The power of performing this well or according to intention; because sometimes we say that those who can merely take a walk, or speak, without doing it as well as they intended, cannot speak or walk. And similarly in the case of passivity. (c) All states in virtue of which things are unaffected generally, or are unchangeable, or cannot readily deteriorate, are called "potencies." For things are broken and worn out and bent and in general destroyed not through potency but through impotence and deficiency of some sort; and things are unaffected by such processes which are scarcely or slightly affected because they have a potency and are potent and are in a definite state.

    Since "potency" has all these meanings, "potent" (or "capable") will mean (a) that which contains a source of motion or change (for even what is static is "potent" in a sense) which takes place in another thing, or in itself qua other.

    - - -

    And there is more of interest in the immediately following text. However, if you seek really to understand Aristotle's idea of a dynamis in the sense of a power to affect (or, for that matter, to be affected ) then you will want to look at his insightful discussion in Metaphysics IX, starting at 1046a1.

    If you want to connect up the notion of a "power" with larger issues of causation and agency, you might like to read (among other things) my article, "Agency and Patiency — Back to Nature?" (Philosophical Explorations 5:1 (2002) pp. 59-81). At any rate, a "simple definition" of dynamis will not, by itself, get you all that far.

  • Paul M.W. Hackett added an answer:
    Are you optimists or pessimists for the future of humanity?
    There are many readings for the same set of data for our evolution as human beings. Others read the circular growth and recession times by a pessimistic mood while others believe that humanity after having tried different systems finally will converge to a stable and viable status for all of us and not for a small subset of us.
    What do you think about?
    Paul M.W. Hackett

    Pessimism seems to me to be rather like nihilism: both ring true but take us nowhere. It is not exactly a useful doctrine to believe that there is little meaning to anything and that most things are negative. However, to believe anything else is irrational. 

  • Ferenc Hörcher added an answer:
    Is Legal positivism of Hans Kelsen outdated by Dworkin?

    Legal positivism, by contrast to natural law, holds that there is no necessary connection between law and morality and that the force of law comes from some basic social facts. Legal positivists differ on what those facts are. (Soper, "Legal Positivism", Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy)

    In his book Law's Empire Dworkin attacked Hart and the positivists for their refusal to treat law as a moral issue. Dworkin argues that law is an 'interpretive' concept, that requires judges to find the best-fitting and most just solution to a legal dispute, given their constitutional traditions. (Ronald Dworkin, Law's Empire (1986) Harvard University Press)

    Ferenc Hörcher

    I do not think that it isan objectively decidable either-or question, but I myself side in this respect with Dowrkin. However, i would go further, and claim, that natural law still has a relevance, as human nature decides a priori certain things, that can be excluded from becoming law, and certain other things, that must be included in any normal working mechanisms of law.

  • Mark A Symmons added an answer:
    Can anyone help me with sources on the philosophy of perception?
    I am doing some writing in the area of philosophical understandings of perception. Specifically I am interested in how we perceive abstract art. I would be grateful if anyone has any references of the general area of the philosophy of perception or the application of this to art perception.
    Mark A Symmons

    Very much a focus on vision and visual processes. The original question did not specify vision. There's no reason why abstract art in particular cannot have haptic (touch) aspects in particular,  but also auditory elements etc. Would anyone care to reflect more on that? 

  • Jerry Rhee added an answer:
    What is the scientific method suitable for research in the area of legal philosophy?

    To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry is commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. (Rules for the study of natural philosophy", Newton transl 1999, pp. 794–6, after Book 3,The System of the World.)

    Jerry Rhee


    I find nothing in Marcelo’s definition of the scientific method that says it is a “quantitative reductionist empiricist behavioral definition of scientificity”.  In fact, the things you talk about can be given formal descriptions where good ones are expected to be adapted and sustained. 

    You also make a good point about how we shouldn’t ignore the different values we hold regarding interpretation of signs. 

    “In spite of the often confusing plurality of terms, it is reasonably clear that mediation, which is almost equivalent to Peirce's third category (see, in particular, CP 1.328 [c. 1894]; CP 2.88 [1902]; PPM 193 f. [1903]; NEM 4:308), is the most generic way of characterising semiosis.

    That is, whatever else semiotic representation, determination, and communication may turn out to be, they can plausibly be construed as modes or aspects of mediation. In semeiotic, mediation is intimately associated with the fundamental semiotic relationship, taken as a triadic whole; the mediating sign is something that brings two other semiotic subjects into a certain kind of irreducible relation. Or, expressed differently, the sign mediates between the object and the interpretant (EP 2:410 [1907])…

    …Peirce undeniably characterises his theory of signs as a scientific undertaking, but that does not mean that semeiotic would study nothing but science; Peirce himself tends to view practically everything that can in any sense be investigated in semiotic terms (see SS 85 f. [1908]).

    ~ Mats Bergman, “Reflections on the role of the communicative sign in semeiotic”. 

  • John David Sanders added an answer:
    Pros and Cons of ICT development. What are Social Bugs of Technology? What has changed or will change in individuals and society due to technology?
    I am trying to get a big picture of where we as individuals and as a society are going. Coming from the technological side, I am not interested in condemning technology as a total, but rather trying to identify “social bugs”, as I call them, to improve our everyday life.

    This question is trying to understand:

    1. What exactly has changed at individual (psychological) level and in our society (relationships, culture, etc.)?
    2. Why has it changed?
    3. What was it that changed it?
    4. How could that be avoided?

    I highly appreciate interdisciplinary answers, personal opinions and links to related research.
    John David Sanders

    1) Social dependency

    The rate of change that we now live with is fuelled by technologies such as computers. Coping with change creates stress and isolation. Although much larger populations can be made plausibly viable with these tools  a large underclass can be left out or made dependent.  This creates vulnerable sub-classes - this may be a design flaw. Software engineers will tell that design flaws are many times harder and more costly to fix than basic bugs. The consequences will tend to be new groupings. (Made easier by the very technology that created the problem!)

    2) Basis Loss

    The dependency on technology to solve everyday tasks can create a loss of connection with the process that would have been used in the past. It creates the illusion that this is how it is now done so I need not know anything more about it. Unfortunately knowing how things arise helps us check their validity and without it we move on with blind acceptance. Apply this to large populations with all that attendant inertia and the result is loss of ability to question and refine. The current social and scientific beliefs become difficult to escape from.

    3) Meme propagation  (see the selfish Gene  - Richard Dawkins)

    With the advent of powerful communications and computing, random and even bizarre beliefs now regularly haunt the more susceptible. This attacks social cohesion.  The internet is not a particularly good thing when this affect is taken into account. Again this is at the level of a design flaw.

    4) Peer Pressure   - herd mentality brings conformity but frequently it can still be detrimental.

    5) Isolation  - Just stand waiting for a train at any British station and watch the  phones come out and the  frantic dobbing at titchy screens. No one looks around - they are all in their own heads. It is probably no longer rare for two people to hold a via SMS/email when they are near enough to talk.

    6) A new fashion industry  - mobiles/computing  - a cynical move?

    7)  Games - relieve the pressure of real interaction by playing games to get the reward of apparent (safe ) interactions in a game. Again isolating.

    All bugs condemn a system to some extent. So the negative slant is predominant here. For example the last one; games could be seen as coping strategy that can be taught via a game but it rarely meets the total need and creates an illusion of a solution.

    So what is good? Systems and solutions that are far beyond our ability  to handle can be realised. Examples military sensors and defence systems ,  power controls systems, government management systems (tax and pensions) trading systems... do you notice these tend to be for the social "animal". Individuality traded out for sake of society. That is not actually bad but in a trade-off it should ultimately find an acceptable  balance - that is the point. 

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