The ontological argument in Anselm’s Proslogion II continues to generate a remarkable store of sophisticated commentary and criticism. However, in our opinion, much of this literature ignores or misrepresents the elegant simplicity of the original argument. The dialogue below seeks to restore that simplicity, with one important modification. Like the original, it retains the form of a reductio, which we think is essential to the argument’s great genius. However, it seeks to skirt the difficult question of whether 'exists' is a (...) genuine predicate by appealing instead to a distinction between having only mediated causal powers and having unmediated causal powers. Pegasus has no unmediated causal powers, but he has mediated causal powers through the thoughts, depictions, and literature in which he figures. This distinction allows us to argue about the existence of God without begging any questions. (shrink)
The first-person point of view -- Augustine's life -- Skepticism -- Language -- The Augustinian cogito -- Mind--body dualism -- The problem of other minds -- Philosophical dream problems -- Time and creation -- Faith and reason -- Foreknowledge and free will -- The problem of evil -- Wanting bad things -- Lying -- Happiness.
In De trinitate X Augustine seeks to discover the nature of mind (mens). As if recalling Plato’s Paradox of Inquiry, he wonders how such a search can be coherently understood. Rejecting the idea that the mind knows itself only indirectly, or partially, or by description, he insists that nothing is so present to the mind as itself. Yet it is open to the mind to perfect its knowledge of itself by coming to realize that its nature is to be only (...) what it is certain that it is. (shrink)
This paper illustrates some of the exciting and interesting philosophical discussions we can have with children when we let them develop the thread of the conversation in their own ways. The author discusses the virtue of patience when doing philosophy with children, and the importance of letting the rhythms of the discussion unfold without undue adult interference. Adults (and especially teachers) often attempt to control the ways in which children discuss issues with one another. The author reminds us of how (...) powerful it can be for a philosophical conversation among children to develop organically. and of how allowing silences to occur can inspire further philosophical explorations among the children. (shrink)
Plato and Aristotle thought that philosophy begins in the perplexed recognition that there are significant puzzles one does not know how to deal with. Some such puzzles can be expressed in questions of the form, ‘How is it possible that p?’, e.g., ‘How is it possible that the world had an absolute beginning?’ I discuss an example of young children asking that last question and go on, with further examples, to make a plea for cultivating such questions as an educational (...) objective, whether the perplexity-expressing questions themselves be scientific, philosophical, or both. (shrink)
Gareth Matthews suggests that we can better understand the nature of philosophical inquiry if we recognize the central role played by perplexity. The seminal representation of philosophical perplexity is in Plato's dialogues; Matthews examines the intriguing shifts in Plato's attitude to perplexity and suggests that these may represent a course of philosophical development that philosophers follow even today.
In a recent paper Paul Vincent Spade suggests that, although the medieval doctrine of the modes of personal supposition originally had something to do with the rest of the theory of supposition, it became, by the 14th century, an unrelated theory with no question to answer. By contrast, I argue that the theory of the modes of personal supposition was meant to provide a way of making understandable the idea that a general term in a categorical proposition can be used (...) to refer to the individual things that fall under it. Once that idea had been made acceptable, truth conditons for the various forms of categorical proposition could be given without any specific appeal to the ideas of descent and ascent in terms of which the modes had been defined. (shrink)
We discuss Aristotle's "Categories" as an answer to Plato's One-over-Many argument. For Plato, F-ness is something "over against" particular F things; to predicate "F" of these things is to assert that they all stand in a certain relation to F-ness. Aristotle answers that predication is classification; and there being a classification of a certain sort is a fact correlative with there being things classifiable in the way the classification in question would classify them.
Anthony Kenny says it is impossible to want what one already has and knows one has. We present a counter-example and then suggest that Kenny may have been misled by the fact that wanting expresses itself in goal-directed behavior. From the truism that one's behavior cannot be directed toward a goal that one knows one has already attained, Kenny may have been led to suppose that behavior directed toward an as yet unattained goal cannot express one's desire for what one (...) has and knows one has. (shrink)