December 2010

Disagreement

Isn’t it a bit odd that philosophers disagree? Consider Ken and I. We’re both a reasonably well-educated, fairly intelligent, pretty perceptive, not overly neurotic philosophers. Why shouldn’t we agree about everything? We need to distinguish between apparent and real disagreements. Suppose Ken says lima beans taste good, and I say that he’s wrong, lima beans taste bad. It seems there is no real disagreement here, just differing tastes. We only have real disagreement when two people hold opinions that cannot both be true.

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The Philosophy of History

There are different ways the word ‘history’ might be defined, so we had better start out by defining our terms. For example, you could define history as the sum total of past events. But that’s not how historians or even philosophers of history would define it. The problem with that definition is that it encompasses every single event that has so far happened in the Universe – from the big bang to the emergence of humankind and everything in between. We do sometimes talk about history in this broad and inclusive sense, but that’s not what we’re talking about today.

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Nominations open for the Third Annual Dionysus Awards!

We're gearing up to record our third annual Dionysus Awards Show.  This will be the third year in a row that we have given out Dionysus Awards for the most philosophically interesting movies of the year.   We're seeking nominations from you, our listeners.  Submit a nomination to comments@philosophytalk.org, along with information on how to reach you, in case we want to include you and your nomination on our final broadcast.

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Children as Philosophers

While licking a pot, six-year-old Tim asks: "Papa, how can we be sure that everything is not a dream?" His father admits he has no idea. Tim says "Well, I don't think everything is a dream, ‘cause in a dream people wouldn't go around asking if it was a dream." That’s an example from Gareth Matthews, a philosopher who has gotten interested in the idea that children are natural philosophers; they ask interesting philosophical questions and come up with interesting answers.

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The Power of Thought

Human thought is an amazing thing. It has given us science, literature, morality, and last -- but certainly not least -- philosophy. Thought even has the power to create new realities. And I’m not primarily thinking of literature and the arts or even of technology. I’m thinking of the entire social world. Every size social reality from clubs to nations and every thing in between is a creation of the human mind, of human thought in particular. They all exist because we simply think them into existence.

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