Interpretations of The Republic have generally emphasised its role as either a political or an ethical text. Those who interpret it as chiefly a political text point to things like Plato's arrangement of different social classes in to different types of labour; the absence of private property for the guardians of the state; and the… Continue reading Is Plato’s Republic a mandate for totalitarianism?
Kant and Sartre - Actions and Intentions For the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, whenever we act we are acting in a legislative way for the rest of humanity. This is because our actions are freely chosen, and so each time we choose to act in this or that way, we are accompanied by the weighty responsibility of forming… Continue reading What makes us good – our actions, or our intentions?
Shared Experience - Mental Breakdown All my movements became jarred...the anxiety and the fear, I was terrified all the time. I was terrified of everything... I always remember the remote control. Somebody said if you want to turn on the television or watch a DVD you have to shift from antennae over to that you know,… Continue reading Kierkegaard on what it is like to be anxious
Disclaimer: This is a follow up to my previous posts on the philosophy of mind series with Marianne Talbot. I suggest that you read those first to familiarise yourself with the arguments and terminology referenced in this post. Physicalist theories of mind, such as anomalous monism and functionalism, become problematic when considering certain features of… Continue reading Do we really have thoughts and feelings?
In Being and Nothingness, Sartre argues that consciousness is consciousness of its being (what we might call 'self-consciousness'). He also argues that what consciousness is conscious of - its 'being' - is that it is what it is not. What does this mean by this? For Sartre, human consciousness is a 'nothingness' - it is unique in… Continue reading Jean-Paul Sartre’s bad faith
In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault explores the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham's panopticon in idea and in practice. A panopticon is, in its general form, a building structured so as to have one central observation point, like the watch tower in the centre of the panopticon prison, and rooms or spaces surrounding this central point; structured… Continue reading Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish – The Panopticon
In The Criqitue of Pure Reason Immanuel Kant sets out to give a systematic account of the metaphysics that underpins empirical inquiry. Kant was operating in the age of the Enlightenment, at a time when scientists like Isaac Newton and his predecessor Galileo loomed large. Empiricism - study based on observation - was making great… Continue reading Metaphysics: An overview of Kant’s project
In Famine, Affluence, and Morality, utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer argues that all of us ought to act according to the following principle: If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it. The only assumption underpinning this principle is… Continue reading How much should we give to charity?
For Aristotle, becoming good is a matter of practice. He believed that each of us are born with dispositions towards good things - an inclination towards justice, courage, and kindness, for example - and becoming good requires us to exercise these dispositions regularly so that they become habits. In order to make good actions habits,… Continue reading How to be a good person
Anomalous monism is a theory in the philosophy of mind. The philosopher Donald Davidson argues that mental things must have a physical ontology (that is, must exist as/be part of a physical thing) because only physical things can cause other physical things (see my earlier post on identity theory for a reminder of why this is). Davidson… Continue reading Can mental things cause physical things?