Anselm’s argument for the existence of God in Proslogion 2 has a little-noticed feature: It can be properly formulated only by beings who have the ability to think of things and refer to things independently of whether or not they exist in reality. The authors explore this cognitive ability and try to make clear the role it plays in the ontological argument. Then, we offer a new version of the ontological argument, which, we argue, is sound: it is valid, has (...) true premises, and does not beg any questions against the atheist. However, the new reconstruction of the argument falls short of Anselm’s goal of producing “a single argument that would require no other for its proof than itself alone; and alone would suffice to demonstrate that God exists.” The new reconstruction requires a subsidiary argument to show that God exists in the understanding. The subsidiary argument relies on premises that are both contingent and known a posteriori. However, the somewhat amplified argument, if it is sound as the authors believe it to be, does show that God exists in reality. Moreover, the new reconstruction escapes an important recent criticism by Peter Millican (2004, 2007) against ontological arguments generally. (shrink)
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)
Readers who are introduced to philosophical analysis by reading the early Platonic dialogues may be puzzled to find that Plato, in his middle and late periods, largely abandons the style of analysis characteristic of early Plato, namely, the 'Socratic elenchus'. This paper undertakes to solve the puzzle. In contrast to what is popularly called 'the Socratic method', the elenchus requires that Socrates, the lead investigator, not have a satisfactory answer to his 'What is F-ness?' question. Here is the bind. Part (...) of what motivates the elenctic inquiry is the natural assumption that one cannot identify F-things unless one has a satisfactory analysis of what it is to be F. But to test the adequacy of suggested analyses of F-ness one needs to be able to identify counterexamples. Together these two points present us with a 'catch-22', which is something the 'paradox of inquiry' in the Meno brings out. In the Theaetetus Plato makes clear that, although the elenchus, including Socratic ignorance, can refute philosophical theses arrived at by other means, it cannot, by itself, give birth to viable philosophical theses. Its legitimate role is therefore only propaedeutic. (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.
Forty years ago Norman Malcolm presented a now-famous paper at the Eastern Division meetings of the American Philosophical Association in Burlington, Vermont. MalcolmKnowledge of Other Minds.” The paper focused on the Argument from Analogy for Other Minds, which, of course, Malcolm roundly criticized. After making a number of preliminary points, Malcolm stated.
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)