Subjectivity

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Subjectivity

Subjectivity is, primarily, an aspect of consciousness. In a sense, conscious experience may be described as the way the world appears from a particular mental subject’s point of view. The idea that there is a distinction between appearance and reality seems to presuppose the distinction between subjective and objective points of view.

The two controversies

There are two principal controversies surrounding subjectivity: first, whether subjectivity, as it is manifested in consciousness, is an essential component of mentality; and second, whether subjectivity presents an obstacle to naturalistic theories of the mind.

THE FIRST CONTROVERSY. Most philosophers agree that intentionality—the ability to represent—is characteristic of mentality. However, there is strong disagreement over whether subjectivity is also necessary.

Substance and Attribute

Substance and Attribute
Substance and Attribute

The concepts of “substance and attribute” are the focus of a group of philosophical problems that have their origins in Greek philosophy and in particular the philosophy of Aristotle. The concepts are, of course, familiar to prephilosophical common sense.

Yet although we are acquainted with the distinction between things and their properties and are able to identify the same things among the changing appearances they manifest in time, these commonsense notions give rise to a group of philosophical problems when we come to scrutinize them.

Thus we may wonder what it is that remains the same when, for example, we say that the car has new tires and lights and does not run as smoothly as it used to, but is still the same car; or when we say that although we could hardly recognize him, this man is the same one we went to school with thirty years ago.

Suicide

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Suicide

What role may a person play in the end of his or her own life? Is suicide wrong, always wrong, profoundly morally wrong? Or is it almost always wrong, but excusable in a few cases? Or is it sometimes morally permissible? Is it not intrinsically wrong at all though perhaps often imprudent? Is it sick? Is it a matter of mental illness?

Is it a private or a social act? Is it something the family, community, or society could ever expect of a person? Or is it solely a personal matter, perhaps a matter of right, based in individual liberties, or even a fundamental human right?

What role a person may play in the end of his or her own life is the central ethical issue in suicide around which a set of related issues also form: What should the role of other persons be towards those intending suicide? What should the role of medical and psychiatric clinicians be toward a patient who intends suicide since it is they who are said to be charged with protecting human life?

Johann Georg Sulzer

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Johann Georg Sulzer

Johann Georg Sulzer, the Swiss aesthetician, was born in Winterthur. After studying in Zürich under J. J. Bodmer, he became a tutor in a private home in Magdeburg in 1743. He then went to Berlin, where he became acquainted with Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis and Leonhard Euler.

In 1747 he was appointed professor of mathematics at the Joachimsthaler Gymnasium and in 1763 he moved to the new Ritterakademie. Illness forced him to resign in 1773, but in 1775 he was appointed director of the philosophical section of the Berlin Academy, to which he had been elected in 1750.

Sulzer’s Allgemeine Theorie der Schönen Künste (General theory of the fine arts) was originally planned as a revision of Jacques Lacombe’s Dictionnaire portatif des beaux-arts (1752), but it developed into an original encyclopedia covering both general aesthetics and the theory and history of each of the arts and of literature.

William Graham Sumner

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William Graham Sumner

The American social philosopher, economist, and cultural anthropologist William Graham Sumner was graduated from Yale in 1863 and continued his studies at Geneva, Göttingen, and Oxford, with the aim of entering the Episcopal ministry. He did so in 1867, having returned to America the preceding year.

Increasingly, however, this calling conflicted with his wider interests, and when in 1872 he was offered the chair of political and social science at Yale University, he gladly accepted it.

He soon gained a considerable reputation as a teacher, publicist, and local politician, but his chief claim to renown derived from his studies in social development, culminating in his masterpiece, Folkways (1907).

Jonathan Swift

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Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift, the British clergyman, moralist, satirist, poet, and political journalist, was born in Dublin, a few months after his father’s death. He was educated at Kilkenny Grammar School and received his MA speciali gratiâ from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1686 and MA from Hart Hall, Oxford, in 1692.

Periodically, from 1689 to 1699, he acted as secretary to Sir William Temple at Moore Park, Surrey. Ordained deacon and priest in the established church of Ireland, he was left by Temple’s death in 1699 to make a career for himself. As domestic chaplain to the earl of Berkeley, lord justice of Ireland, he returned to Dublin and was granted the DD degree in 1701 by Trinity College.

In 1704 there appeared anonymously (his customary mode of publishing) A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books, brilliant satires upholding the ancients against the moderns; assaulting both Catholic and Puritan theologies while upholding the via media of the Anglican Church; and castigating the shallowness of contemporary scholarship and literature.

Supervenience

Supervenience
Supervenience

There is supervenience when and only when there cannot be a difference of some sort A (for example, mental) without a difference of some sort B (for example, physical). When there cannot be an A-difference without a B-difference, then but only then A-respects supervene on B-respects.

Supervenience claims are thus modal claims. They are claims to the effect that necessarily, there is exact similarity in A-respects whenever there is exact similarity in B-respects.

So if, for example,mental properties supervene on physical properties, then, necessarily, individuals that are physically indiscernible (exactly alike with respect to every physical property) are mentally indiscernible (exactly alike with respect to every mental property).

Emanuel Swedenborg

Emanuel Swedenborg
Emanuel Swedenborg

Emanuel Swedenborg, the scientist, biblical scholar, and mystic, was a member of a famous Swedish family of clergymen and scholars; his father was a prominent bishop and a prolific writer.

Swedenborg studied the classics and Cartesian philosophy at Uppsala and became interested in mathematics and natural science. In 1710 he went abroad, spending most of the next five years in England, where he learned the Newtonian theories and developed a modern scientific outlook.

After his return to Sweden in 1715, Swedenborg was appointed an assessor in the College of Mines by Charles XII. He held this office until 1747, when he resigned in order to devote his time to the interpretation of the Scriptures.

Sympathy and Empathy

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Sympathy and Empathy

The notions of empathy and sympathy have a muddled history, and they are often used interchangeably. Recently, efforts at clarifying the difference have focused on empathy first and proceeded to characterize sympathy by contrast.

The contemporary philosophical conception of empathy has three aspects. If Sam empathizes with Maria’s anger, then: 1) Sam has a representation of Maria as angry; 2) Sam comes to have his empathic experience because of his representation of Maria as angry; 3) Sam’s experience involves experiencing a state that is similar to anger.

On most accounts, sympathy differs from empathy by being triggered solely by emotions that are linked with pain and involves—either as consequence or through sharing the other person’s pain—feeling sorry for the other person or wanting to alleviate the other person’s suffering. The phrases feeling with and feeling for, respectively, are often used to capture the difference between the two notions.

Syntax

Maria Selena
Syntax

“Syntax” is the theory of the construction of sentences out of words. In linguistics, syntax is distinguished from morphology, or the theory of the construction of words out of minimal units of significance, only some of which are words.

According to this division, it is a matter of morphology that the word solubility decomposes into “dissolve” + “able” + “ity”; but it is a matter of syntax to analyze the construction of the sentence, “That substance is able to dissolve.”

Although syntax is a traditional grammatical topic, it was only with the rise of formal methods growing out of the study of mathematical logic that the subject attained sufficient explicitness to be studied in depth, in works by Zelig Harris (1957) and Noam Chomsky (1957). Since then a flourishing field has been created; for it was rapidly discovered that the syntax of human languages was far more complex than at first appeared.

Rabindranath Tagore

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Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian writer and philosopher. Romain Rolland, referring to the Orient and the Occident, said that Tagore contributed more than anyone else toward “the union of these two hemispheres of spirit.” Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan called Tagore “the greatest figure of the Indian renaissance.”

Tagore was born in Calcutta, studied in London, returned to India, and was married in 1883. He founded Visvabharati, a university at Santiniketan (near Bolpur), became India’s most popular poet, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913, and was knighted in 1915.

He visited and lectured in Canada, the United States, South America, England and several countries of Europe, the Soviet Union, Turkey, Iran, Ceylon, China, and Japan. He was in personal contact with Henri Bergson, Benedetto Croce, Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, and other leading intellectual figures of his period.

Hippolyte-Adolphe Taine

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Hippolyte-Adolphe Taine

Hippolyte-Adolphe Taine was a philosopher, psychologist, historian, and critic. Taine and Ernest Renan were the leading French positivistic thinkers of the second half of the nineteenth century. As a result of Taine’s great independence of mind, his life was not always comfortable. Discriminatory treatment from the authorities of the Second Empire led to his withdrawal from teaching from 1852 to 1863, when he was appointed an examiner at Saint-Cyr.

The next year he became a lecturer at the École des Beaux Arts; from his lectures there came his famous Philosophie de l’art, At the intervention of the Catholic clergy, a French Academy award for his Histoire de la littérature anglaise was denied him, and he was elected to the academy only in 1878, after the fall of the Second Empire. By that time he had antagonized both liberals and Bonapartists by his ruthless destruction of the revolutionary and Napoleonic legends.

Nevertheless, his influence was great and diversified. His positivistic and physiological approach to psychology was adopted by Théodule Ribot, Pierre Janet, and others, and his opposition to centralization and to revolutionary experiments attracted Catholic traditionalists such as Paul Bourget and Maurice Barrès, who, however, ignored his severe condemnation of the old regime and his outspoken sympathies for Protestant and parliamentary England.

Alfred Tarski

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Alfred Tarski

Alfred Tarski, the Polish-American mathematician and logician, was born in Warsaw, received his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Warsaw in 1924, and two years later was named docent. In 1939 he emigrated to the United States.

Appointed lecturer in mathematics at the University of California (Berkeley) in 1942, he remained at that institution for the rest of his life, serving as professor of mathematics from 1946 and becoming professor emeritus in 1968.

Mathematics

Tarski worked in both pure mathematics, especially set theory and algebra, and mathematical logic, especially metamathematics.

Johannes Tauler

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Johannes Tauler

The German mystic Johannes Tauler entered the Dominican order at Strasbourg about the age of fifteen and probably studied in the Dominican studium generale at Cologne, where he may have been taught by Meister Eckhart. He was certainly influenced by the latter and by the contemplative movement known as the Gottesfreunde (Friends of God).

He was in Strasbourg at the time of Pope Innocent XXII’s interdict on the city for taking the wrong side in the war between different sections of the Holy Roman Empire, but there is no good evidence for the story that during the Black Death he defied the interdict by administering sacraments to the dying. He remained a loyal and orthodox member of the church.

Much legendary material surrounds his life, and various spurious works are attributed to him. It was on the basis of these sources that some earlier scholars mistakenly thought of Tauler as a precursor of the Reformation.

Alfred Edward Taylor

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Alfred Edward Taylor

Alfred Edward Taylor, the British philosopher, was born at Oundle, Northamptonshire, and educated at New College, Oxford. His teaching experience was unusually varied: He was a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, 1891–1898; lecturer at Owens College, Manchester, 1898–1903; professor of logic and metaphysics at McGill University, Montreal, 1903–1908; professor of moral philosophy at St. Andrews University, 1908–1924; and professor of moral philosophy at Edinburgh, 1924–1941.

His interests were also varied; not only was he an authority on Greek philosophy but he also made extensive contributions to current thinking on ethics, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion.

Taylor’s thought was within the tradition of British neo-Hegelianism, but as his philosophy developed, other influences came in also, though he remained firmly attached to a theistic and spiritualist interpretation of reality.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the paleoanthropologist and Roman Catholic priest who advocated a doctrine of cosmic evolution, was born in Sarcenat, France.

At the age of eighteen he entered the Jesuit order, and he remained a faithful member of it for the rest of his life. By the time he was ordained, his interest in science and the reading of Henri Bergson resulted in his becoming a fervent evolutionist.

Association with the Bergsonian scholar Édouard Le Roy also deeply influenced his thought. It became one of Teilhard’s aims to show that evolutionism does not entail a rejection of Christianity.

Teleological Argument for the Existence of God

Teleological Argument for the Existence of God
Teleological Argument for the Existence of God

The “Teleological Argument for the existence of God” is a member of the classic triad of arguments, which is completed by the Ontological Argument and the Cosmological Argument. Stated most succinctly, it runs:
The world exhibits teleological order (design, adaptation).
Therefore, it was produced by an intelligent designer.
To understand this argument, we must first understand what teleological order is.

Teleological Order

Generally speaking, to say that a group of elements is ordered in a certain way is to say that they are interrelated so as to form a definite pattern, but the notion of a definite pattern is vague. Any set of elements is interrelated in one way rather than another, and any complex of interrelations might be construed by someone as a definite pattern.

Teleological Ethics

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Teleological Ethics

Theories about what is right and wrong are standardly divided into two kinds: those that are teleological and those that are not. Teleological theories are ones that first identify what is good in states of affairs and then characterize right acts entirely in terms of that good.

The paradigm case of a teleological theory is therefore an impartial consequentialist theory, such as hedonistic utilitarianism; defended by John Stuart Mill (1969) and Henry Sidgwick (1907), it says the right act is always the one whose consequences contain the greatest total pleasure possible.

But the category of teleological ethics is normally thought to be broader than that of consequentialism, so there can be teleological theories that are not consequentialist. This can be so, however, in several different ways.

Teleology

Teleology
Teleology

The term teleology locates a series of connected philosophical questions. If we grant that there is such a thing as purposive or goal-directed activity (as we must, since, for example, a political campaign aimed at victory represents a clear, uncontroversial case), we may ask the following questions:
  1. By what criteria do we identify purposive activity? 
  2. What is the nature of the systems that exhibit purposive activity? 
  3. Does the nature of purposive activity require us to employ special concepts or special patterns of description and explanation that are not needed in an account of nonpurposive activity? And if we grant that there are objects and processes which perform functions (again, as we must, since no one would deny, for instance, that the human kidney performs the function of excretion), we may ask: 
  4. By what criteria do we identify functions?
  5. What is the nature of the systems that exhibit functional activity? 
  6. Does the description of functions require special concepts or special patterns of analysis?

Bernardino Telesio

Bernardino Telesio
Bernardino Telesio

Bernardino Telesio, the Renaissance philosopher, was born at Cosenza, in Calabria, Italy. He studied philosophy, physics, and mathematics at the University of Padua, and received his doctorate in 1535. In Padua he became acquainted with the teaching of Aristotle and the two main Aristotelian schools, the Averroistic and the Alexandrist.

Following the trend of the time, he devoted himself especially to the study of nature; but far from accepting the Aristotelian doctrine, he reacted vigorously against it. Telesio pursued his literary activity mostly at Naples, where he was a guest of the Carafa family, and at Cosenza.

He enjoyed the friendship of several popes, and Gregory XIII invited him to Rome to expound his doctrine. He never engaged in any formal teaching, for he preferred to discuss his ideas in private conversations with friends.

Testimony

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testimony

The term testimony in contemporary analytic philosophy is used as label for the spoken or written word, when this purports to pass on the speaker’s or writer’s knowledge, conveying factual information or other truth.

Testifying, or giving testimony, is a linguistic action, and testimony is its result, an audible speech act of telling or more extended discourse (perhaps recorded), or a legible written text. Interest in the topic has grown rapidly since the publication of C. A. J. Coady’s Testimony: A Philosophical Study (1992).

Testimony in this broad sense includes the central case of one person telling something to another in face-to-face communication, as well as a range of other cases, from public lectures, television and radio broadcasts, and newspapers to personal letters and e-mails, all kinds of purportedly factual books and other publications, and the information recorded in train timetables, birth registers, and official records of many kinds.

Thales of Miletus

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Thales of Miletus

Thales of Miletus is widely depicted in ancient sources as a pioneering rationalist and the founding father of Greek philosophy, science, and mathematics. Famous for ingenuity in many areas, he was also numbered among the seven sages (Sophoi or wise men).

Evidence for his life and thought is meager and often questionable.Although written work is attested, nothing survives and he probably wrote nothing (Greek script still had limited uses).

The earliest extant reports come from the historian Herodotus (c. 484–between 430 and 420 BCE); other evidence derives largely from Aristotle and his younger colleagues, Theophrastus and Eudemus (fourth century BCE). Hence, the reliability of the evidence depends heavily on the accuracy of the information available to them.

Arguments for and Against Theism

Arguments for and Against Theism
Arguments for and Against Theism

Philosophy of religion enjoyed a renaissance in the final third of the twentieth century. Its fruits include important contributions to both natural theology, the enterprise of arguing for theism, and natural atheology, the enterprise of arguing against it. In natural theology philosophers produced new versions of ontological, cosmological, and teleological arguments for the existence of God.

In natural atheology problems of evil, which have always been the chief arguments against theism, were much discussed, and philosophers debated proposed solutions to both the logical problem of evil and the evidential problem of evil.

Natural Theology

Building on work by Charles Hartshorne and Norman Malcolm, Alvin Plantinga (1974) formulated a model ontological argument for the existence of God that employs the metaphysics of possible worlds.

Theophrastus

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Theophrastus

Born in Eresus on the Aegean island of Lesbos, Theophrastus moved to Athens, studying under Plato briefly and then Aristotle, soon becoming the latter’s colleague. In 322/1 BCE he succeeded Aristotle as head of the Lyceum.

The picture arising from his extant works is that of a conscientious scholar and researcher, with a marked emphasis on natural philosophy. His place as Aristotle’s first successor has for a long time created the impression of a dogmatic and docile pupil, but a comparison with his master is invidious.

A more acceptable perspective, established in antiquity (e.g., frag. 72A), is to view his work as trading on the presence of the Aristotelian corpus, while expanding and adjusting even fundamental aspects of the system where required.

Thinking

Thinking
Thinking

“Thinking” is an essentially human activity occurring in two basic forms. We may think in order to attain knowledge of what is, must, or may be the case; we also may think with a view to making up our mind about what we will or will not do. Following Aristotle, these two forms of thought may be called, respectively, contemplation and deliberation.

Both forms may be carried on well or badly, successfully or unsuccessfully, intelligently or stupidly. When contemplation is successful, it terminates in a conclusion; successful deliberation terminates in a decision or resolution.

Again following Aristotle, the form of reasoning involved in contemplation may be called theoretical, and the form involved in deliberation may be called practical. Obviously, our day-by-day reasoning in ordinary life is an untidy mixture of both these basic forms.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic theologian and philosopher, was born at Roccasecca, Italy, the youngest son of Landolfo and Teodora of Aquino. At about the age of five he began his elementary studies under the Benedictine monks at nearby Montecassino. He went on to study liberal arts at the University of Naples.

It is probable that Thomas became a master in arts at Naples before entering the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in 1244. He studied in the Dominican courses in philosophy and theology, first at Paris and, from 1248 on, under Albert the Great at Cologne.

In 1252 he was sent to the University of Paris for advanced study in theology; he lectured there as a bachelor in theology until 1256, when he was awarded the magistrate (doctorate) in theology. Accepted after some opposition from other professors as a fully accredited member of the theology faculty in 1257, Thomas continued to teach at Paris until 1259.

Thomism

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Thomism

The epithet “Thomist” has been applied since the four-teenth century to followers of St. Thomas Aquinas; the earlier “Thomatist,” occasionally used, was dropped toward the end of the fifteenth century. The term has a different implication according to the three main historical periods that can be distinguished.

First, until the beginning of the 1500s, during a period of vigorous Scholasticism and competition among several schools, Thomism stood in metaphysics for the doctrine of a composition of essence and existence in all created beings; and in noetics it opposed both nominalism and the Neoplatonic concept of illumination by the Ideas.

Second, from the sixteenth until the eighteenth century Thomism flourished in the golden age of Spanish Scholasticism. (At this time Thomists unreservedly applied to theology the metaphysical concept of the premotion of all secondary causes by the first cause.) Third, beginning about the middle of the nineteenth century there was a revival of Thomism that was authoritatively endorsed by the Catholic Church.

Christian Thomasius

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Christian Thomasius

Christian Thomasius was a philosopher and jurist and the first important thinker of the German Enlightenment. He was born in Leipzig, the son of the Aristotelian philosopher Jakob Thomasius, who had been a teacher of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

Christian, after studying philosophy and law at the universities of Leipzig and Frankfurt an der Oder, began lecturing at Leipzig in 1682.

His theological enemies forced him to move in 1690 to the Ritterakademie in Halle. He helped to found the University of Halle, became professor of law there in 1694, and later was Geheimrat (privy counselor) and rector of the university.

Judith Jarvis Thomson

Judith Jarvis Thomson
Judith Jarvis Thomson

Judith Jarvis Thomson has made major contributions to moral theory and metaphysics. In addition to several books in these areas, she has written more than seventy articles on a range of topics, including action theory, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science.

She was educated at Barnard College, Cambridge University, and Columbia University, the last awarding her a doctoral degree in 1959. Since 1962, Thomson has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she became a full professor in 1969.

In moral theory, much of Thomson’s work concerns what it is to have a moral right. Thomson’s 1971 article “A Defense of Abortion”—an important contribution not only to ethics but also to feminist philosophy— revolutionized the abortion debate, which had previously focused largely on the question of whether the fetus has a right to life.

Henry David Thoreau

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Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau once described himself as “a mystic, a transcendentalist, and a natural philosopher.” If this description does some justice to the extent of Thoreau’s eclecticism, it nevertheless obscures those characteristics that made him important during his lifetime and still remain significant today, for Thoreau was an anarchist and revolutionary who created a highly articulate literature of revolt.

Born at Concord, Massachusetts, the son of a pencil maker, Thoreau emerged from Harvard in 1837 with testimonials signed by Dr. George Ripley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the president of the university, all of whom attested, in glowing terms, to his moral and intellectual integrity.

After a brief skirmish with school teaching, Thoreau became infected with the ideas of the New England transcendentalists, gave up all plans of a regular profession, and devoted himself to literature and the study of nature.

Thought Experiments in Science

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Thought Experiments

Thought experiments in science are generally characterized by contrast to actual experiments: The former are conducted by engaging in an imaginative act, the latter by manipulating features of the observed world.

So if to perform an (actual) scientific experiment is to conduct an empirical test under controlled conditions with the aim of illustrating, supporting, or refuting some scientific hypothesis or theory, then to perform a scientific thought experiment is to reason about an imaginary scenario with a similar aim.

In the case of actual experiments, the theory-relevant evidence generally takes the form of data concerning the behavior of the physical world under specific conditions; in the case of thought experiments, the theory-relevant evidence generally takes the form of intuitions (or predictions) concerning such behavior.

Thucydides

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Thucydides

Thucydides wrote a history of the epic struggle between Athens and Sparta. His work has proved to be—as he hoped—a “possession for all time,” though perhaps not in quite the way he intended. Virtually every age, every occasion, every interpreter, has appropriated a different Thucydides and a different masterpiece. Both the author and the work remain enigmatic.

The reliable biographical details are few, and all derive from his own account. Thucydides son of Olorus was an Athenian, born around 460 BCE. In his analysis of the causes, symptoms, and consequences of the plague that devastated Athens a few years after the outbreak of hostilities with Sparta, Thucydides drew on his own experience of the illness. He was for a time prominent in Athenian public life.

During the war, he attained the office of general, one of the very few elected positions in the Athenian democracy (most offices were allocated by lot), and was sent to Thrace, perhaps because of his connections and influence there. In 423 BCE, his fellow citizens banished him for failing to reach the Athenian colony of Amphipolis in time to rescue it from the Spartans.

Paul Tillich

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Paul Tillich

Paul Tillich, the German American theologian, was born in Starzeddel in eastern Germany, the son of a Lutheran pastor. He received a theological and philosophical education and was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1912. He served as an army chaplain during World War I and then taught theology and philosophy at Berlin, Marburg, Dresden, and Frankfurt.

On Adolf Hitler’s advent to power in 1933, Tillich immigrated to the United States, serving as professor of systematic theology and philosophy of religion at Union Theological Seminary from 1933 to 1956. From 1956 until his death he held chairs at Harvard and at the University of Chicago.

Anxiety

Tillich’s religious thought has been enormously influential, particularly in English-speaking countries. He was strongly influenced by existentialism, and he held, as did Søren Kierkegaard, that religious questions are appropriately raised only in relation to problems that are inherent in the “human situation” and that theological claims are not mere responses to theoretical puzzles.

Time

Sweet time
Time

Time has frequently struck philosophers as mysterious. Some have even felt that it was incapable of rational discursive treatment and that it was able to be grasped only by intuition.

This defeatist attitude probably arises because time always seems to be mysteriously slipping away from us; no sooner do we grasp a bit of it in our consciousness than it has slipped away into the past. This entry will argue, however, that this notion of time as something that continually passes is based on a confusion.

St. Augustine’s Puzzles

The apparent mysteriousness of time can make puzzles about time seem more baffling than they are, even though similar ones arise in the case of nontemporal concepts. St. Augustine, in his Confessions, asks, “What is time?” When no one asks him, he knows; when someone asks him, however, he does not know.

Consciousness of Time

Yolanda Lystia Empel
Consciousness of Time

William James’s discussion of the perception of time in Principles of Psychology provides a convenient starting point for a discussion of the “consciousness of time.” James’s main concern was to give an empiricist account of our temporal concepts.

This is clear from the Lockean question with which he started: “What is the original of our experience of pastness, from whence we get the meaning of the term?” and from his answer that the “prototype of all conceived times is the specious present, the short duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible”.

A contemporary empiricist might formulate James’s thesis thus: that all other temporal concepts can be defined in terms of the relation “earlier than” and that this relation is sense given or can be ostensively defined so that even if a person does not use the term specious present, he is obliged to say that some earlier events are still, in some sense, present to us when we are sensing a later event.

Time in Continental Philosophy

Time in Continental Philosophy
Time in Continental Philosophy

The attempt to conceive time, time’s relation to human experience, and the makeup of the universe is perhaps the central problem of twentieth-century Continental philosophy. Time emerged as a central problem in late nineteenth century German philosophy where temporality became increasingly identified with consciousness and mind.

Franz Brentano’s work provided an impetus for Edmund Husserl’s analyses of internal time-consciousness, and Wilhelm Dilthey and Husserl were both influential for Martin Heidegger’s fundamental ontology. In France, before these phenomenological approaches had been worked out, Henri Bergson reconceived time in a way that anticipated them and profoundly influenced later French thought.

In general, Bergson calls on metaphysics (that is, Platonism and its latest version in Kant) to embrace the reality of movement, change, becoming, and time. The originality of this thinking consists in differentiating between abstract representations of time and the immediate givenness of pure duration in consciousness.

Time in Physics

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Time in Physics

No one conception of time emerges from a study of physics. One’s understanding of physical time changes as science itself changes, either through the development of new theories or through new interpretations of a theory.

Each of these changes and resulting theories of time has been the subject of philosophical scrutiny, so there are many philosophical controversies internal to particular physical theories. For instance, the move to special relativity gave rise to debates about the nature of simultaneity within the theory itself, such as whether simultaneity is conventional.

Nevertheless, there are some philosophical puzzles that appear at every stage of the development of physics. Perhaps most generally, there is the perennial question, Is there a “gap” between the conception of time as found in physics and the conception of time as found in philosophy?

John Toland

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John Toland

John Toland was an English deist, philosopher, diplomat, political controversialist, secular and biblical scholar, and linguist. Christened “Janus Junius” in the Roman Catholic Church, Toland later took the name of John.

He was born near Londonderry, Ireland, possibly of partial French extraction. At the age of sixteen he ran away from school to become a Protestant Whig. In 1687 he turned up at Glasgow University and in 1690 was awarded an MA at Edinburgh University.

For two years he studied at the University of Leiden under Friedrich Spanheim the younger, and in 1694 he settled at Oxford for some time to carry on research in the Bodleian Library. “The Character you bear in Oxford,” he was informed by a correspondent, “is this; that you are a man of fine parts, great learning, and little religion.”

Toleration

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Toleration

“Toleration” is a policy of patient forbearance in the presence of something that is disliked or disapproved of. Toleration must thus be distinguished from freedom or liberty precisely because it implies the existence of something believed to be disagreeable or evil.

When freedom or liberty is said to prevail, no criticism, moral or otherwise, is entailed of the people who are said to be free or of the use to which such people put their freedom. Indeed, there are some writers who would reserve the words liberty and freedom for the rightful exercise of human choice, thinking, with the poet John Milton, that “only the good man can be free.”

Toleration, on the other hand, has an element of condemnation built into its meaning. We do not tolerate what we enjoy or what is generally liked or approved of. We speak of freedom of speech, of worship, and of movement—speech, worship, and movement being good or ethically neutral things.

Touch

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Touch

Two bodies are said to be touching if there is no spatial gap between some point on the surface of one and some point on the surface of the other. If one of the touching bodies is that of a sentient being, it may be aware of certain properties of the other body: for instance, that it is hot or cold, rough or smooth, wet or dry, hard or soft, sweet or sour.

The sentient being is said to be aware of an object’s sweetness or sourness by taste. (Aristotle attributes our distinguishing taste from touch to the fact that only a part of our flesh is sensitive to flavor.)

The remaining properties the sentient being is said, in common speech, to be aware of by touch. Accordingly, touch appears in the traditional list of senses, with sight, hearing, and so on.

Lev (Leo) Nikolaevich Tolstoy

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Lev (Leo) Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Lev (Leo) Nikolaevich Tolstoy, the renowned Russian novelist, won worldwide fame as a moralist and sage for his antiecclesiastical interpretation of Christianity and fervent preaching of nonviolence.

A well-read amateur in philosophy from the age of fifteen, Tolstoy displayed serious philosophical interests in his greatest novel, War and Peace (1865–1869), and in 1874 he began an increasingly anguished philosophical and religious quest, seeking a reason for living.

His spiritual crisis, dramatically described in My Confession (1879), was resolved by a return to the Christian faith of his youth, but in a radically different form based on his reading of selected New Testament texts.

Tragedy

Tragedy
Tragedy

The two main strands in the history of philosophical reflection on tragedy, as a genre of art, can both be seen as having their origins in Plato’s critique of tragic poetry in the Republic and other dialogues. It is there that we find their first sustained philosophical treatment; and with respect to this small part of it, at least, Alfred North Whitehead’s characterization of the history of philosophy as a series of footnotes to Plato is not too fanciful.

Tragedy and Emotion

One strand of thought focuses on the character and value of our experience of tragedy, and can be seen in Plato’s charge that tragedy (and indeed mimetic poetry in general) “gratifies and indulges the instinctive desires ... with its hunger for tears and for an uninhibited indulgence in grief”; that “it waters [passions] when they ought to be allowed to wither, and makes them control us when we ought, in the interests of our own greater welfare and happiness, to control them”).

Plato’s thought that the emotional dimension of our experience of tragedy is particularly significant has been taken up in a variety of directions by other philosophers.

Ernst Troeltsch

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Ernst Troeltsch

Ernst Troeltsch, the German theologian and social scientist, was born near Augsburg in Bavaria. He studied Protestant theology at the universities of Erlangen, Göttingen, and Berlin, and after three years as a Lutheran curate in Munich, he returned to the University of Göttingen as a lecturer in theology.

He became extraordinary professor at Bonn in 1892, and in 1894 ordinary professor of systematic theology at Heidelberg, a position that he held for twenty-one years. He also served as a member of the Bavarian upper legislative house. In 1915 he moved to a chair of philosophy in the University of Berlin, serving concurrently as a member of the Prussian Landtag and as undersecretary of state for religious affairs.

Troeltsch contributed to the philosophy and sociology of religion and also to cultural and social history, ethics, and jurisprudence. His work raised in many related fields the much-debated questions of the extent and limitations of the historicosociological method.

Evgenii Nikolaevich Trubetskoi

Evgenii Nikolaevich Trubetskoi
Evgenii Nikolaevich Trubetskoi

A Russian philosopher, law specialist, religious and political figure, Evgenii Trubetskoi was a member of one of the oldest aristocratic families of Russia. He received an excellent education, graduating from the Department of Law of Moscow University (1885) and earning a master’s degree in philosophy for his work on St. Augustine (1892) and a doctorate for his work on Pope Gregory VII (1897).

He taught law and philosophy in Iaroslavl’ (1886–1897), Kiev (1897–1905), and Moscow (1905–1917), where he was elected chair of philosophy after the sudden death of its former head, his brother Sergei Trubetskoi (1862–1905). Parallel to his teaching career, he was active in Russian cultural, academic, and political circles.

Trubetskoi was one of founders of several philosophical associations (Psychological Society at Moscow University, Vladimir Solov’ev Religious-Philosophical Society, and others); he was a leading figure of the publishing house Put (The Way) and of the group of religious thinkers affiliated with it, who represented the so-called “neoSlavophile” current in Russian culture.

Nikolai Sergeevich Trubetskoi

Nikolai Sergeevich Trubetskoi
Nikolai Sergeevich Trubetskoi

A Russian linguist, ethnologist, and student of culture, Nicolai Trubetskoi was one of the founders of Eurasianism. His father, Sergei Trubetskoi, was a well-known philosopher and the first elected rector of Moscow University.

Although a descendant of an old aristocratic family, he played an outstanding role in the democratization of Russian life. Unfortunately, his life was cut short: He died less than a month after his election at the age of forty-three; the same fatal ailment (heart disease) killed his son, who lived to be only forty-eight.

It is hard to determine to what extent Trubetskoi’s family was responsible for his future scholarly and political views, but certain influences are apparent. He grew up in a devout Orthodox family and owed a great deal to his religious upbringing.

Sergei Nikolaevich Trubetskoi

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Sergei Nikolaevich Trubetskoi

Sergei Nikolaevich Trubetskoi was a Russian philosopher, socially conscious essayist, and man of public affairs. After graduating from the historico-philological department of Moscow University in 1885, he remained at the university.

In 1890 he defended his master’s dissertation, “Metafizika v Drevnei Gretsii” (Metaphysics in ancient Greece), and in 1900 he defended his doctoral dissertation, “Uchenie o Logose v ego istorii” (The doctrine of the logos in its history).

From 1900 to 1905 he served as one the editors of the journal Voprosy filosofii i psikhologii (Questions of philosophy and psychology). He actively participated in the Zemstvo movement, becoming one of its spiritual leaders. Starting in 1901, at the beginning of the student disturbances, he came out for the institution of university autonomy.

Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge
Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge remains one of the most recognized archaeological sites in the world. It has provided, and continues to provide, vital information to researchers seeking answers about the origins of humanity and its evolution through time.

Wilhelm Kattwinkel, a German entomologist, stumbled across Olduvai Gorge in 1911 in northern Tanzania. The location is a canyon approximately 40 kilometers long with walls standing nearly 100 meters high that showcase nearly 2 million years of history.

Extensive investigations at Olduvai Gorge began shortly afterward, yielding an array of lithic tools and fossilized animal remains amongst which were the remains of early hominids, including those of Australopithecine (boisei) and Homo habilis specimens.

Ontology

Ontology
Ontology

The term ontology (from Greek to on, ontos—being, entity; logos—concept, science) usually denotes: (a) a philosophical discipline that studies being (entity) as being (entity), that is, being in general; (b) the ontology of a theory: the kind of entities that should exist if the given theory is true.

One of the fundamental problems of ontology (particularly in its first meaning) is the question about the relation between being and becoming and thus the question about the place and role of time in the explanation of reality.

As a philosophical discipline, ontology has existed at least since the time of Aristotle (384–322 BCE), who in his Metaphysics claims that one of its tasks is to investigate “being as being and the attributes that belong to this in virtue of its own nature.”

Truthlikeness

Truthlikeness
Truthlikeness

Truth is the aim of inquiry. Despite this, progress in an inquiry does not always consist in supplanting falsehoods with truths. The history of science is replete with cases of falsehoods supplanting other falsehoods.

If such transitions are to constitute epistemic progress, then it must be possible for one falsehood better to realize the aim of inquiry—be more truthlike, be closer to the truth, or have more verisimilitude—than another. The notion of “truthlikeness” is thus fundamental for any theory of knowledge that endeavors to take our epistemic limitations seriously without embracing epistemic pessimism.

Given that truthlikeness is not only a much-needed notion but rich and interesting, it is surprising that it has attracted less attention than the simpler notion of truth. The explanation is twofold. First, if knowledge requires truth, then falsehoods cannot constitute knowledge. The high value of knowledge has obscured other epistemic values such as the comparative value of acquiring more truthlike theories.

Ehrenfried Walter von Tschirnhaus

Ehrenfried Walter von Tschirnhaus
Ehrenfried Walter von Tschirnhaus

Ehrenfried Walter von Tschirnhaus (or Tschirnhausen), the German mathematician and physicist, was born in Kieslingswalde, near Görlitz, and became count of Kieslingswalde and Stolzenberg. He studied mathematics at Görlitz and at the University of Leiden, where the Cartesian philosophers Adriaan Heereboord and Arnold Geulincx were teaching.

After serving with the Dutch in 1672 during a war with France, Tschirnhaus studied further in Leiden and in Germany, and in 1674 he traveled to London, Paris, Rome, Sicily, and Malta. He met Benedict de Spinoza in Holland, English scientists in London, and he undoubtedly met Cartesian philosophers and scientists such as Jacques Rohault and Pierre-Sylvain Régis in Paris.

Tschirnhaus finally settled down in Kieslingswalde. He established several factories for manufacturing glass and for grinding magnifying glasses, and was associated with J. F. Böttger in the development of Meissen porcelain.

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