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History of Western Philosophy

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Aristotle claimed that the supralunar realm was composed solely of ether. But did he believe the moon was also made only of ether or did he express doubt about this ? And if he did believe the moon was made solely of ether, how did he explain away the imperfections of the moon which can be seen by the naked eye ?

Most, if not all the early Church Fathers were schooled in Greek Philosophy. What principles and practices of Christianity would have clashed with their worldviews in general?
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Christianity did not emerge from a vacuum. The Hebrews were the first Christians. Before Christianity it was likely that they practiced or were familiar with Judaism. Some adherents of Judaism during the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD totally rejected Greek philosophy which is known as Hellenism. Others embraced Hellenism in different degrees. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic, the language of Judaism. The New Testament, which espoused Christianity was transmitted in Koine Greek, the language of the Hellenists.  The descendants of the Hebrews are called Jews in the New Testament. Why did the Jews en bloc (or for the most part) reject Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity, upon whose teaching the religion was founded? For these Jews, the Messiah had not yet come. Most Jews today still believe that the promised Messiah of the Old Testament has not yet come. If you were a Jew in the 1st century, would you have accepted Jesus Christ?
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  • Kane Tran, 2015-07-27 : I argue that the received conception of the aim and results of Kant’s Paralogisms must be revised in light of a proper u... (read more)
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Tarski’s convention T: condition beta. South American Journal of Logic. 1, 3–32.

John Corcoran and Leonardo Weber


HISTORICAL NOTE: This paper is the culmination of a years-long joint effort by the two authors. A preliminary report appeared in 2013: Corcoran-Weber, Bulletin of Symbolic Logic, 19 (2013) 510–11. Their co-operative work was conducted by email dialogue in which each author’s work was developed and corrected by the other. Each section went through several iterations. The final version was the result of dozens of reciprocal exchanges; it is impossible to allocate credit. Each author learned from and taught the other. During this time they consulted several other scholars including the Tarski experts David Hitchcock, James Smith, and Albert Visser.

The senior author expresses his deep gratitude to the junior author. Moreover the senior author acknowledges publicly what he has already said privately, viz. that without the junior author’s help and mastery of ... (read more)

REQUEST: Please send errors, omissions, and suggestions. I am especially interested in citations made in non-English publications.

I have noticed a small literature on Okin's objection to libertarianism. But I question whether this should be discussed under the heading of "Okin's objection". A very similar objection has been around for centuries by Robert Filmer, which the author briefly mentions but does not present. Filmer's objection is now discussed under the heading of the paradox of self-ownership.

It says that, given common knowledge, we cannot endorse both these propositions, which are essential to (standard?) libertarianism:
(1) Each person owns themselves.
(2) Each person owns the products of their labour.

According to Filmer, a person is the product of their parents' labour so they do not own themselves by (2).

Okin's version says that a person is the product of their mother's labour so they do not own themselves. (It seems she does not give a male parent even 0.000001% labour contribution.)

If the focus is mainly on whether a libertarian can say that individuals are self-owners, I feel it is unfair to discus ... (read more)
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Corcoran’s 2009 ARISTOTLE’S DEMONSTRATIVE LOGIC deals decisively with several issues that had previously been handled by vague speculation and dogmatic pontification if at all. One possible example: Corcoran [2009, p. 13] proves conclusively that the imperfect syllogisms Baroco and Bocardo—which Aristotle completed indirectly [by reductio-ad-impossible]—cannot be completed directly. More generally, Corcoran shows that no valid premise-conclusion argument, regardless of the number of premises,  having an existential negative [“particular negative” or “O-proposition”] as a premise can be completed using a direct deduction—assuming of course that no premises are redundant and that the conclusion is not among the premises. To be clear this means that for no such argument is it possible to deduce the conclusion from the premises without using reductio.

This result, called the EXISTENTIAL-NEGATIVE EXCLUSION [ENE], was circulated informally by Corcoran much earlier but it seem ... (read more)

This seems a simple mistake, and it should consequently be simple to rectify it. 

In particular, since the bulk of the translation was done by G.E.M. Anscombe in 1958, and the front page of the fourth edition states "The German text, with an English translation by G.E.M. Anscombe, P.M.S. Hacker and Joachim Schulte", Anscombe should be appropriately credited. 


JOHN CORCORAN, Two-method errors.

  Where there are two or more methods for the same thing, sometimes errors occur if two are mixed. Two-method errors, TMEs, occur in technical contexts but they occur more frequently in non-technical writing. Examples of both are cited.

  We can say “Abe knows whether Ben draws” in two other ways: ‘Abe knows whether or not Ben draws’ or ‘Abe knows whether Ben draws or not’. But a TME occurs in ‘Abe knows whether or not Ben draws or not’.

  We can say “Abe knows how Ben looks” using ‘Abe knows what Ben looks like’. But a TME occurs in ‘Abe knows what Ben looks’ and also in ‘Abe knows how Ben looks like’. Again, we can deny that Abe knows Ben by prefixing ‘It isn’t   that’ or by interpolating ‘doesn’t’. But a TME occurs in trying to deny that Abe knows Ben by using ‘It isn’t that Abe doesn’t know Ben’.

  There are two standard ways of defining truth for first-order languages: using finite sequences or infinite sequences. Quine’s discussion in the 1970 first ... (read more)

I am currently writing a paper on Wittgenstein's notion of 'nonsense' in the Tractatus. I'm situating my analysis in terms of how to characterise nonsense, what informs this characterisation, and in what sense Tractarian propositions can be understood as nonsense, or having sense. 
I'm situating myself slightly outside of the typical metaphysical/ resolute debate. Insofar as if my claim has any merit, we might be able to side-step the problems faced between proponents of both sides, qua: metaphysical readers ignoring W's determination of nonsense, or otherwise supporting an 'ineffable' expression of truth; resolute readers offering an implausible reading given contextual considerations of the work (both external, in terms of W's preface and later treatment of the work, and internal with regards to his situation certain propositions in terms of an intellectual context). 

I understand W's nonsense in a generally Fregean capacity. (actually, I agree with Diamond's characterisations- j ... (read more)
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From september onwards I'll be teaching a course on epistemology at secondary school level. The approach to epistemology that I have to take (because of curricular demands) is mostly historical, starting with some Ancient philosophers (Plato, Aristotle), skipping the Middle Ages, and ending with Modern philosophy from Descartes to Kant.

I tend to think that the importance of the views espoused by all these historical thinkers lies not in the veracity of their theories, for clearly some things said by Plato or Locke are most likely false. Furthermore the questions they tend to concern themselves with appear in part to have moved over from philosophy to psychology which give them the appearance of unfounded armchair speculation. Rather in my opinion it is only against the background of the broader scientific developments during the time of these philosophers that we can begin to appreciate their significance. However I feel ill-equiped to talk about this background, because I simply don ... (read more)


Methodologically speaking, I wonder why Matilal and S's article has not been enough for  further studies of this sort to be the rule on Mind (and other philosophical journals). Does this failure depend on their style? (Or should we just start working as a task-force and submit many articles of this kind?)

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Can there be linguistics without ontology?

The context principle and some Indian controversies over Meaning is a milestone in Indian studies, and in the history of their interaction with mainstream (i.e. Western) philosophy. Since it was published in 1988 on Mind (one of the top-5 journals in Philosophy, inaccessible for most authors), virtually everyone (in Indian philosophy) has read it.

Have you also re-read it?

I re-read it after some years this Summer and I have to admit that it was again a surprise. The article starts with a discussion of the Context principle in Frege and Quine (does the principle mean that words HAVE no meaning outside a sentence, or that their meaning can only be UNDERSTOOD within a sentence?). In this connection, Matilal and Sen discuss a strong and a weak interpretation of the Context principle (according to whether it should answer the first or the second question). They end up saying that the strong interpretation clashes with Frege's later work (see belo ... (read more)

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Good morning all

I am writing a piece about social work values and how these are a challenge in certain circumstances within mental health treatment. Some unwell people who are a danger to others while unwell are persuaded/coerced into taking medication that although relieves the mental health problem and so reduce the risk to the public, also leaves the patient with side effects which are debilitating. Many patients endure this as the only alternative is to return to hospital detention.

I am attempting to suggest that in certain circumstances this oppressive intrusion into liberty has some justification. However, I cannot recall which philosopher (Aristotle or Plato?) has said something about an individuals responsibility to society.

I am using a moral argument that no one is responsible for the individuals predicament and that society is not responsible for the conflict of circumstances.

I have only the vaguest recollection that some old Greek fellow has said something on this subject.

An ... (read more)
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I did my dissertation, in philosophy of education, on Royce and the problem of religious inclusion in public education. I think Royce is a fascinating figure in American Philosophy, that is of continuing importance today. Do you agree or disagree? I would like to know of anything anyone is doing related to his work in this forum. 
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Hello Everyone!

In Being and Time Heidegger states that in order for thematization to be possible at all Dasein must transcend the entities thematized. Following two interpreters -Gelven and Hanley- this necessity would be inspired on a "strongly kantian doctrine": that which states that " in order for something like thematizing to occur at all that which does the thematizing cannot be a part of that which is thematized". Given that both interpreters give a coincident formulation of the problem I would like to know if anyone has found a formulation of this problem in Kant in this explicit fashion. The point for me its quite simple in Kant: sensibility cannot be sensible. But I can't hardly see this issue in Heidegger. At least beyond the problem of finitude that affects every modern thinker, that which states that the subject must "position" some kind of sensible or meaningful horizon in order for objects or meanings to appear. What do you think about this? Thank you all!

Juan E. P

Hi everyone,

I hope that someone can give me a hint in the right direction with this question: In analyzing the issue of thematization in Being and Time, Michel Gelven states that the necessity for Dasein to transcend the entities that it thematizes has an strongly Kantian "family resemblance" (p.195). For thematizing to occur at all, -he says- that which does the thematizing cannot be a part of that which is thematized.

My problem is that I still can't understand why this reading is required for understanding the necessity for Dasein to transcend the entities that it thematizes. Is this correct at all? to render the necessity for dasein to transcend as this prohibition "not being part of what is thematized"? Also where does this problem can be seen in Kant?

For me this necessity points to the inseparability of being and understanding, specially regarding the necessity of a horizon for the showing of entities. Because if the reading of Gelven is right how could the Analityc be possible a ... (read more)
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Does anybody know where I could find a good scholarly discussion of the weird 'numerological' passages about cultural decline in Republic VIII (ca. 545e-547a). I'm interested both in where Plato might have gotten these ideas about the 'predictable unpredictability' of genetic heritability of traits and what light the passages might throw upon his remarks about the 'noble lie.'
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Before suggesting any category additions/changes here, I thought it might be useful to have some discussion among those with interests in ancient philosophy.

I think that, in general, for the categories to be useful, the Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy categories need to be more fine-grained.

(1) Specifically, I think that at least Plato and Aristotle and probably Stoics, Epicureans, and some others as well need subject sub-categories such as Ethics, Metaphysics, Epistemology, etc. These subject categories could further be cross-listed under other major categories. For example, a Political Philosophy sub-category under Aristotle could be cross-listed under Social and Political Philosophy as History of Political Philosophy/ Ancient Greek Political Philosophy/ Aristotle. (For some it might also even be useful to have categories for specific works, such as the Republic.)

(2) It also might be useful to add general subject categories under Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy for articles th ... (read more)
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