Category Archives: Metaphysics

Brute Facts: A Primer

There are, generally, two ways to explain a phenomenon: you can either describe what or who “brought it about” or you can describe it at a deeper, more fundamental level. These two approaches have sometimes been referred to as the ‘personal cause’ and the ‘non-personal cause,’ respectively. This bifurcation traces its origins back to Aristotle who originally described four distinct types of causes. But we won’t go into that here (instead, check out my post on Aristotle and the Four Causes). For our purposes, we just need to know that there are different ways of explaining a phenomenon and they are not synonymous.

Relevant video:

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Summary: Einstein vs. Logical Positivism by Rossen Vassilev Jr.

The original article can be found at: https://philosophynow.org/issues/133/Einstein_vs_Logical_Positivism

Vassilev begins his article by pointing out that Logical Positivism was a philosophical movement that originated in the 1920s. Arguably its most critical mission was to establish the same methodology of science and mathematics for other fields, particularly philosophy. The logical positivists dismissed any and all ‘non-scientific’ speculation from genuine analysis or explanation. They insisted that such statements were literally meaningless; only statements that could be logically verified or corroborated through experiment/observation have meaning. This was known as the Principle of Verification (or Verification Principle) and was the driving philosophical and epistemological force behind the Vienna Circle (a particularly influential group of logical positivists).

According to the Principle of Verification, the meaning of any statement lies in its method of verification. Moreover, statements about, say, God or art or ethics would all suddenly be technically meaningless according to the logical positivists. Logical positivists were excited at this prospect because they were very much committed Naturalists. But not all philosophers were on-board with their philosophical approach or its underlying intentions.

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Commentary: Looking for the Purpose of Life by Brian King

*The original article can be found at: https://philosophynow.org/issues/147/Looking_for_the_Purpose_of_Life

Brian King writes a solid introductory piece about what the purpose of life may be and why it is such a thorny question for philosophers to answer.

*Video below unrelated, but still entertaining and quasi-relevant!*

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Brief philosophical insights

What if we combined Schroedinger’s cat with Santa Claus? Would Santa Claus only exist if we believed in him in that moment? Would he only exist for those who believed in him? If so, would non-believers ever receive any coal in their stockings? Then, let’s go one step further with this line of reasoning. If Santa Claus only existed if we believed in him, what would it mean for those who did not believe in God/Allah? How could we either blame or praise anyone if they simply did not share our same beliefs?

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Philosophers as Meta-Scholars

The philosopher is a meta-scholar.

    • What is a meta-scholar? A meta-scholar is one who understands, at a bare minimum, the fundamentals of a particular field of study or discipline (or historical enterprise or, most broadly, anything capable of being described, articulated, and/or analyzed — (e.g. any event, person, process, or object)).

      • The ‘fundamentals’ of a field of study or discipline refer to the sprawling mosaic of methodological rules, axiomatic and auxiliary operating assumptions, and normative and demarcating practices inherent to that field of study/discipline and its actively practicing members. Think of Lakatos’s ‘hard core’ or Kuhn’s ‘[dominant] paradigm.’

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2 Superb Introductions to Metaphysics!

The video above (albeit with corny transition effects — I’m thinking Prezy?) covers some of the fundamental ideas in Metaphysics. ~9 mins.

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