My topic is personal identity, or rather, our identity. There is general, but not, of course, unanimous, agreement that it is wrong to give an account of what is involved in, and essential to, our persistence over time which requires the existence of immaterial entities, but, it seems to me, there is no consensus about how, within, what might be called this naturalistic framework, we should best procede. This lack of consensus, no doubt, reflects the difficulty, which must strike anyone (...) who has considered the issue, of achieving, just in one's own thinking, a reflective equilibrium. The theory of personal identity, I feel, provides a curious contrast. On the one side, it seems highly important to know what sort of thing we are, but, on the other, it is hard to find any answer which has a ‘solid’ feel. (shrink)
It is fortunate for my purposes that English has the two words ‘almighty’ and ‘omnipotent’, and that apart from any stipulation by me the words have rather different associations and suggestions. ‘Almighty’ is the familiar word that comes in the creeds of the Church; ‘omnipotent’ is at home rather in formal theological discussions and controversies, e.g. about miracles and about the problem of evil. ‘Almighty’ derives by way of Latin ‘omnipotens’ from the Greek word ‘ pantokratōr ’; and both this (...) Greek word, like the more classical ‘ pankratēs ’, and ‘almighty’ itself suggest God's having power over all things. On the other hand the English word ‘omnipotent’ would ordinarily be taken to imply ability to do everything; the Latin word ‘omnipotens’ also predominantly has this meaning in Scholastic writers, even though in origin it is a Latinization of ‘ pantocratōr ’. So there already is a tendency to distinguish the two words; and in this paper I shall make the distinction a strict one. I shall use the word ‘almighty’ to express God's power over all things, and I shall take ‘omnipotence’ to mean ability to do everything. (shrink)
In recent years philosophers have given much attention to the ‘ontological problem’ of events. Donald Davidson puts the matter thus: ‘the assumption, ontological and metaphysical, that there are events is one without which we cannot make sense of much of our common talk; or so, at any rate, I have been arguing. I do not know of any better, or further, way of showing what there is’. It might be thought bizarre to assign to philosophers the task of ‘showing what (...) there is’. They have not distinguished themselves by the discovery of new elements, new species or new continents, nor even of new categories, although there has often been more dreamt of in their philosophies than can be found in heaven or earth. It might appear even stranger to think that one can show what there actually is by arguing that the existence of something needs to be assumed in order for certain sentences to make sense. More than anything, the sober reader will doubtlessly be amazed that we need to assume , after lengthy argument, ‘that there are events’. (shrink)
This is the twenty-sixth volume in the Library of Living Philosophers, a series founded by Paul A. Schilpp in 1939 and edited by him until 1981, when the editorship was taken over by Lewis E. Hahn. This volume follows the design of previous volumes. As Schilpp conceived this series, every volume would have the following elements: an intellectual autobiography of the philosopher, a series of expository and critical articles written by exponents and opponents of the philosopher's thought, replies to these (...) critics and commentators by the philosopher, and as nearly complete a bibliography of the published work of the philosopher as possible. (shrink)
Throughout its history philosophy has been thought to be a member of a community of intellectual disciplines united by their common pursuit of knowledge. It has sometimes been thought to be the queen of the sciences, at other times merely their under-labourer. But irrespective of its social status, it was held to be a participant in the quest for knowledge – a cognitive discipline.
This is a transcript of a conversation between P F Strawson and Gareth Evans in 1973, filmed for The Open University. Under the title 'Truth', Strawson and Evans discuss the question as to whether the distinction between genuinely fact-stating uses of language and other uses can be grounded on a theory of truth, especially a 'thin' notion of truth in the tradition of F P Ramsey.
In medieval writers an important distinction was drawn between two applications of the term ‘ logica ’: there was logica utens , the practice of thinking logically about this or that subject-matter, and there was logica docens , the construction of logical theory. Of course the English word ‘logic’ and its derivative ‘logical’ have a corresponding twofold meaning, and we ignore the distinction at the risk of serious confusion. ‘Logical thought’ may mean thinking that is being commended as orderly, consistent, (...) and consequent, whatever its subject-matter; or it may mean the thinking of logicians about logic, which alas has not always exhibited these virtues. Similarly for ‘teaching logic’: there is trying to get people, by precept and example, to be orderly, consistent, and consequent in their thinking, and there is the endeavour to train logicians for the next generation. In any respectable philosophy department there will be someone teaching logic in the first sense; in my own university there are very many first-year undergraduates who do a course called Reason and Argument with this aim. But we hold that the teacher of such logica utens must himself have a sufficient skill in logica docens if he is to do his job properly; and we undertake the further task of training people in logical theory so that some of them, who have sufficient native ability and motivation, may take up the torch from their teachers. (shrink)