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137. Ingmar Bergman’s Metaphysical Reduction, Part 2: “Winter Light”

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In May 1963, the Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) retrospectively described his films “Through a Glass Darkly”, “Winter Light”, and “The Silence” as a trilogy with a theme: “The theme of these three films is a ‘reduction’ – in Read more ›

136. Ingmar Bergman’s Metaphysical Reduction, Part 1: “Through a Glass Darkly”

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  In May 1963, the Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) retrospectively described his films “Through a Glass Darkly”, “Winter Light”, and “The Silence” as a trilogy with a theme: “The theme of these three films is a ‘reduction’ – Read more ›

132. If we are arguing should we be substance dualists?

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I have been thinking a lot about what philosophical positions might be implied by the fact that we present and evaluate arguments. Consider this argument: Premise 1: All humans are mortal. Premise 2: Socrates is a human. Conclusion: So Socrates Read more ›

125. Is Truth Human?

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Truth, for so many thinkers throughout history, has been seen as existing independent of human minds. But it seems far more sensible to embrace an anthropological account of truth which Robert Adams nicely describes as the view “that the truths Read more ›

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92. Plato’s Wooden Horse Argument and the Soul

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How is it that we can experience incoming data from the five senses as coherent, rather than incoherent, perceptions of objects and people? This issue, often referred to as “the binding problem” in neuroscience, has been a concern of philosophers Read more ›

87. Eros vs. Thanatos, Part 3: The Furies of Creativity

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In previous posts we have seen ways in which Eros (love) can imply, lead to, or be thwarted by Thanatos (death). Here is yet another example of a dynamic relation between the two from Alfred North Whitehead. In his book Read more ›

80. Plato on the Immortality of the Soul: Republic X, Part 2

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In post #79 I introduced Plato’s argument for the immortality of the soul in Book X of his dialogue Republic (all quotations will be from Cornford’s translation).  I then discussed the argument’s central claim – the essential destructibility claim – which Read more ›

74. Leibniz on Atoms

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The enlightenment rationalist G. W. Leibniz (1646-1716) was a master at articulating certain general and fundamental principles and applying these principles to various philosophical problems.  Principles are statements of basic laws, truths, or rules from which other laws, truths, or Read more ›

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55. Eros vs. Thanatos, Part 1: Archive Fever

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Sigmund Freud, in Civilization and Its Discontents, claims, like the pre-Socratic Empedocles before him, that there are two “Heavenly Powers” or mutually opposing instincts: Eros and Thanatos. Freud characterizes these two principles as follows: eros is the instinct to conserve Read more ›

41. Freedom and Critical Thinking

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Can we, sometimes, make free choices? Obviously, a lot rides on what we mean by free choices. Mark Balaguer has recently formulated a helpful definition in his book Free Will (MIT, 2014): a choice is the product of my free Read more ›

25. Memes

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What is an idea?  According to Peter A. Angeles’ Dictionary of Philosophy we have the following candidates: Idea:  (Gk., idea, “concept,” “class,” “kind,” “idea,” “mode,” “sort,” “species,” “form,” “nature,” “from eidos, “visual appearance,” “form,” and idein, “to see,” “to grasp conceptually”).  1. Anything that is Read more ›

22. The Demonic, Part 2: Demonic Music

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The Danish proto-existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) put forth an intriguing account of the demonic in chapter 4 of his eccentric work The Concept of Anxiety (see the Princeton edition translated by the Hongs). Kierkegaard claims the demonic person has “anxiety about the Read more ›

13. Augustine on God and Eternal Truth

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In his dialogue On Free Choice of the Will (Macmillan, 1964), St. Augustine (354-430 C.E.) argues that our minds can know truths that are eternal.  For Augustine, something is eternal if it exists in a timeless, unchanging state.  So eternal truths are unchanging Read more ›

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3. Plato’s Forms and the Truth, Part 1

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A note of caution: the ancient Greek philosopher Plato (427-347 BCE) wrote dialogues not treatises. These dialogues show the life of the philosophical mind at work: questioning, arguing, speculating, imagining, wondering, struggling, and understanding. They do not show finished results Read more ›