How is it possible to respond emotionally to that which we believe is not the case? All of the many responses to this "paradox of fiction" make one or more of three important mistakes: (1) neglecting the context of believing, (2) assuming that belief is an all-or-nothing affair, and (3) assuming that if you believe that p then you cannot also reasonably believe that not-p. My thesis is that we react emotionally to stories because we do believe what stories tell (...) us – not fictionally-believe, not make-believe, but believe in the ordinary way in which we believe anything at all. (shrink)
One kind of attempt to defeat the Epicurean conclusion that "death is nothing to us" is the claim that death could be some kind of unexperienced harm. The possibility of such harm is thought to be made plausible by analogy to the possibility of unexperienced harm in life, and it has motivated the invention of many thought experiments which attempt to show that in life one can indeed be harmed without experiencing the harm or its effects in any way. But (...) such attempts fail to weaken the Epicurean conclusion because they fail to appreciate that something which is taken to be an unexperienceable misfortune could, with equal warrant, be claimed to be an unexperienceable good fortune. Indeed, a more accurate claim is that what is unexperienceable is neither good nor bad, but only nothing at all. At the conclusion of the essay I will propose a Principle of Nothing which expresses the Epicurean lesson to be learned from these investigations. (shrink)
Locke claimed that a government (with legislative, executive and judicial functions) is necessary to relieve people of the inconveniences of a state of nature. But those three functions can be provided by private arrangements in a state of nature.
Do our lives have meaning? Should we create more people? Is death bad? Should we commit suicide? Would it be better if we were immortal? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Life, Death, and Meaning brings together key readings, primarily by English-speaking philosophers, on such 'big questions.'.
Do our lives have meaning? Should we create more people? Is death bad? Should we commit suicide? Would it be better to be immortal? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Since Life, Death, and Meaning: Key Philosophical Readings on the Big Questions first appeared, David Benatar's distinctive anthology designed to introduce students to the key existential questions of philosophy has won a devoted following among users in a variety of upper-level and even introductory courses.
The essays in this collection deal with Greek philosopher Lucretius's critique of religion, his critique of traditional attitudes about death, and his influences on later thinkers such as Isaac Newton and Alfred Tennyson. 144 pp.
Epictetus was born a slave. His master, Epaphroditus, allowed him to attend the lectures of the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus and later gave him his freedom. From numerous references in his Discourses it is clear that Epictetus valued freedom as a precious possession. He would have been on the side of the many people living now who, while not actually enslaved, are denied true freedom by the harsh circumstances of their lives. Epictetus's teachings about freedom and human dignity have echoed (...) through the millennia-in the writings of Spinoza, Thomas Paine and Martin Luther King, Jr., to name a few. He was much concerned with human behavior. His advice to not worry about what is not in our control is pointedly relevant to our busy modern society-which is often fraught with anxiety. Some people might argue that what Epictetus taught is not serious philosophy, more like self-help. But the range of topics addressed by the essays in this book clearly indicates that the teachings of Epictetus provide strong incentive to present day philosophical thinking. "Epictetus: His Continuing Influence and Contemporary Relevance" is the title of a conference on Epictetus held at Rochester Institute of Technology in April 2012, when many of the ideas in these essays were first presented. (shrink)
Epicurus's claim that "death is nothing to us" is defended. The usual concepts of harm, loss and suffering do not apply in the case of death. Immortality need not be bad. Epicurean prudence does not recommend suicide. Some issues in applied ethics are also discussed: the right to life, egoistic friendship, wills, and life insurance.
The philosophy of Epicurus (c. 341-271 B. C. E.), has been a quietly pervasive influence for more than two millennia. At present, when many long revered ideologies are proven empty, Epicureanism is powerfully and refreshingly relevant, offering a straightforward way of dealing with the issues of life and death. The chapters in this book provide a kaleidoscope of contemporary opinions about Epicurus' teachings. They tell us also about the archeological discoveries that promise to augment the scant remains we have of (...) Epicurus's own writing. the breadth of this new work will be welcomed by those who value Epicurean philosophy as a scholarly and personal resource for contemporary life. "Epicurus: His Continuing Influence and Contemporary Relevance," is the title of a 2002 conference on Epicurus held at Rochester Institute of Technology, when many of the ideas here were first presented. (shrink)
In recent philosophical debates a number of arguments have been used which have so much in common that it is useful to study them as having a similar structure. Many arguments -- Searle's Chinese Room, for example -- make use of thought experiments in which we are told a story or given a narrative context such that we feel we are in comfortable surroundings. A new notion is then introduced which clashes with our ordinary habits and associations. As a result, (...) we do not bother to investigate seriously the new notion any further. I call such an arrangement, which is perhaps a variation of the fallacy of presumption, a Steep Cliff argument. One remedy for the misdirection of a Steep Cliff argument is to tell a counterstory from the point of view of the rejected notion. (shrink)