Seneca the Younger (5 BC – 65 AD) was a Stoic philosopher and advisor to the emperor Nero. His fascinating life came to a rather abrupt halt when he was told to commit suicide following accusations of his involvement in a famous plot to kill Nero, although it is commonly accepted that Seneca was probably innocent. His book ‘On The Shortness Of Life’, rather poetically, concerns the way in which humans might make proper use of the ample time nature provides us with to live a fulfilled life. We never quite know when everything will come to an end. If you […]
The Sorites paradox doesn’t refer to an individual paradox, but a family of paradoxes. The paradox identifies a weakness in the way we apply predicates to objects – ‘tall’, ‘red’ and ‘bald’ for example. These predicates are not clearly defined, and exist as somewhat vague, or relational concepts in our minds. An Example Of The Paradox Itself A grain of sand is not a heap of sand. Adding one grain of sand to any collection of sand grains which is not already a heap cannot cause there to be a heap of sand on its own. Say I […]
Moral realism refers to a world in which moral facts exist – there are objective ethical standards which can be discovered by humans. However, this world is not the one we live in, and I shall explain the best argument against moral realism below. This morning I was watching an interesting interview that popped up on YouTube, when something someone said struck a chord. A political commentator was arguing that recent times in the UK illustrate a failure of our society to educate people on the difference between right and wrong. But does this make sense? Further, what […]
Over the course of around seven years, your body replaces itself – bit by bit. Every cell in your body dies, and is replaced by another. So, how are our identities maintained? What is it about ‘me’ that persists? If (as I believe is the case) the mind is physical in nature, then how can the idea of a continual ‘self’ make any sense? Should we even be responsible for the actions of our previous versions of ourselves? These questions are raised in a thought experiment known as The Ship of Theseus, and it works as follows. The Ship […]
All around the world, Immanuel Kant is lauded as one of the most important philosophical figures in history. While there is no denying the historical significance of his work (notably his Critique of Pure Reason), it might seem as if Kant’s day in the sun is over. His strong emphasis on a duty-based worldview and objective standards of morality seem to clash with today’s existential zeitgeist. Not to mention, much of Kant’s metaphysics has now been replaced by physics – his views on time, space, and causality have all been ousted. So, the question you might be wondering is why […]
Written to win favour with the Governor of Florence, Lorenzo de Medici, Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ was conceived in a desperate attempt to return himself to politics. His intention was to produce a practical guide on how to attain and retain political power. In this article the question I’m interested in is whether Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ is still relevant today. Now hailed as one of the seminal works of the time, it is easy to read the first chapters and wonder what all the fuss is about – I know that’s how I felt. While the first half of the book […]
What does it actually mean to say that human beings are free, and how can science possibly prove that it doesn’t exist?
This week I stumbled across a snippet from the celebrated thinker Lao Tzu. The particular insight made a lasting impression on me – as you would imagine, having been written by the man whose name meant ‘Old Master’. Nevertheless, it got me thinking – what really are the most profound philosophical quotes to ever have been proclaimed? After scouring the Internet, I have compiled below a list of philosophically enlightening tidbits, that, when taken to heart, just might change your life. Of course, if you can think of any great examples of quotes or musings that personally resonated with you […]