Articles

28 January 2016

The ex-Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko poisoned by drinking a cup of tea laced with radioactive…

A public inquiry into the killing of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has concluded that President Putin probably approved his assassination. But who was he and why did his death cause such controversy?

Former spy Alexander Litvinenko was killed in November 2006, leading to a clouding of relations between London and Moscow.

The 43-year-old had been an officer with the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, but he fled to Britain where he became a fierce critic of the Kremlin. In his final years he also became a British citizen.

After…Read

Freewill and Determinism in Psychology

The determinist approach proposes that all behavior is caused by preceding factors and is thus predictable. The causal laws of determinism form the basis of science.

Free will is the idea that we are able to have some choice in how we act and assumes that we are free to choose our behavior, in other words we are self determined.

For example, people can make a free choice as to whether to commit a crime or not (unless they are a child or they are insane). This does not mean that behavior is random, but…Read

US and Russia fail to agree on Syria peace talks

A Syrian opposition council formed in Riyadh last month said on Wednesday it will not attend peace negotiations if a third party joins the talks, a reference to a Russian bid to include other groups in the process that was due to be launched next week, Reuters reported.

Riad Hijab, who heads the council, accused Russia of impeding negotiations, and also told a news conference in Riyadh that the opposition could not negotiate while Syrians were dying as a result of blockades and bombardment.

Sources told Zaman al-Wasl that Brigadier General Asaad al-Zoubi, Southern Front'…Read

Mideast Talks…

Parties have yet to agree on a list of opposition groups who may attend, as both sides seek more assurances.

Talks meant to be held in Geneva next week between both sides of Syria's civil war - opposition groups and President Bashar al-Assad's government - are far from certain to take place.

Although the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, briefed the Security Council in a closed meeting on Monday about these muchanticipated talks, there is still no consensus on who should be invited.

"Obviously we hope that the…Read

The Courage to be oneself

How can it be defined? Baruch Spinoza believes that courage is an essential act of everything that participates in being, namely self-affirmation. The endeavour, where everything endeavours to persist in its own being is nothing else but the actual essence of that thing, the striving towards something. This striving is not a contingent aspect of a thing nor is it an element in its being along with other elements; it is the essentia actualis. The striving makes a thing what it is. If the striving stops the thing disappears.

Spinoza calls this striving which is the essence…Read

6 January 2016

The Courage to be oneself—Self Affirmation

How can it be defined?  Spinoza believes that courage is an essential act of everything that participates in being, namely self-affirmation.  The endeavour, where everything endeavours to persist in its own being is nothing else but the actual essence of that thing. The striving towards something.  This striving: is not a contingent aspect of a thing nor is it an element in its being along with other elements; it is the essential actualis  the striving makes a thing what it is. If the striving stops the thing disappears.

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11 September 2015

Editorial, Sep 2015

I'm neither a scientist, nor a philosopher who is well acquainted with the intricacies of science. It is therefore a subject I approach with some trepidation, knowing that my limited knowledge prevents me from voicing forth with any true authority. Yet it is precisely this notion of the scientist as expert and authority that makes me cautious.

For we live in a world increasingly shaped, governed and interpreted according to science. As possessor of this uniquely powerful knowledge, the scientist is put in a position formerly held by the priest or the shaman in more ancient…Read

7 September 2015

Force Majeure

Thomas Wartenberg asks if you really know yourself.

Do you know what you'd do if you suddenly found yourself facing imminent death, say from a rapidly approaching tornado or avalanche? Would your normal sense of yourself as (I assume) a well-meaning, moral adult get you through the cataclysmic situation with that sense of self left intact? Or would your own fear, perhaps even panic, undermine your ability to act in ways you would be proud of? These are some of the questions posed by Force Majeure, a 2014 Swedish social comedy directed by Ruben Ö…Read

Einstein’s Relativity and Everyday Life

What good is fundamental physics to the person on the street?

This is the perennial question posed to physicists by their nonscience friends, by students in the humanities and social sciences, and by politicians looking to justify spending tax dollars on basic science. One of the problems is that it is hard to predict definitely what the payback of basic physics will be, though few dispute that physics is somehow "good."

Physicists have become adept at finding good examples of the longterm benefit of basic physics: the quantum theory of solids leading…Read

The Objectivity Thing

(or, why science is a team sport)

One of the qualities we expect from good science is objectivity. And, we're pretty sure that the scientific method (whatever that is) has something to do with delivering scientific knowledge that is objective (or more objective than it would be otherwise, at any rate).

I'm here to tell you that it's more complicated than that -- at least, if you're operating with the picture of the scientific method you were taught in middle school. What we'll see is that objectivity requires more than…Read

Philosophy and Science

The touchstone of the value of philosophy as a world-view and methodology is the degree to which it is interconnected with life. This interconnection may be both direct and indirect, through the whole system of culture, through science, art, morality, religion, law, and politics. As a special form of social consciousness, constantly interacting with all its other forms, philosophy is their general theoretical substantiation and interpretation.

Can philosophy develop by itself, without the support of science? Can science "work" without philosophy? Some people think that the sciences can stand apart from philosophy, that the scientist should actually…Read

A universe without purpose or guidance

In general, philosophy describes methods of approaching reality. It provides subjective approaches to fundamental questions, the Why of the universe. Science on the other hand often pretends to answer the Why but really only can answer the How.

NATURAL PHILOSOPHY

Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature was the philosophical study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural sciences. Empirical science historically developed out of philosophy or, more specifically, natural philosophy. In the 14th and 15th…Read

The Origin Of Life On Earth

In November of 2014, for the first time, a spacecraft landed on a comet - and in the process revealed much about the early solar system, as well as offering clues to the origin of life on Earth.

Launched in 2004, the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission arrived at 67P/Churyumov– Gerasimenko, or simply 67P, in August of 2014. Rosetta is the name of the orbiting spacecraft, while Philae is the lander. Philae was to probe the comet's surface while Rosetta analyzed the gas and dust that surrounds the comet, called the coma. The coma and cometary…Read

11 February 2015

Beyond Pleasure and Pain

Aristippus' Hedonism is a simple concept, which has long perplexed and polarized serious thinkers. Its essence rests on the stark doctrine that all pleasure denotes good, and pain denotes evil. This sparks from a phenomenological standpoint, that all we can know is our own feeling. Within this idea, it is understood that pleasure is the sole driving force behind action, the ultimate goal, the purpose of life and the compass for moral determination. If one is to live well, he ought to seek pleasure and minimize or eradicate pain entirely.

Aristippus, the first hedonist and ancient creator…Read

Judgments of perception and judgments of experience

Article by Jason Zarri (1986 - 2014) Aspiring philosopher, writer, and co-founder of Scholardarity, a website for scholars and students in the Humanities - http://www.scholardarity.com/wp-content/ uploads/2012/09/Notes-on-Kant-draft-5-PDF.pdf.

1) We often observe that one appearance regularly succeeds another. For example, we may take notice of the fact that whenever a metal is heated, it expands. If we affirm that this is so, we have made a judgment of perception. But we don't stop there; usually, we go on to conclude that heating a metal causes it to expand. Now we have a…Read

The Roots of Reason Issue 77 Philosophy Now

Jeffrey Scheuer on the philosophical legacy of J. Renford Bambrough.

I never met John Renford Bambrough (1926-1999), the Cambridge philosopher who shaped and inspired my own thinking perhaps more than any other twentieth century figure. Looking back, I'm saddened and slightly surprised that I didn't take the opportunity to seek him out or attend his lectures during the year I spent as a graduate student in England in the 1970s. When I finally visited St John's College, Cambridge, in the fall of 2002, and met with some of Bambrough's former colleagues, it…Read

Pleasure Now

Dane Gordon on a forgott en philosopher who practiced what he preached.

Aristippus is remembered in the history of Western philosophy as the founder of hedonism, that is, as the first person to propose the theory that pleasure is the good of life. But he is not remembered very much, mainly as the shadowy forerunner of later Epicureanism. None of his many works, which might have given us the information we need about his teaching, have survived, and what we do know appears to be rudimentary.

But Aristippus was an interesting and complex…Read

Kant As He Is

There's an old Talmudic proverb anticipating Kant which says, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Kant's transcendental idealism gives this proverb an entirely new meaning. A Kantian might rightly amend it to say, "We can never know things in themselves, we can only know things as processed through our psychological filters." Certainly not as memorable a saying, but more philosophically accurate.

Interestingly, Kant presumed we all have the same cognitive architecture (with a few minor exceptions, such as colour blindness). This is why, when the glass fell…Read

Kant and the Smashing Beer Glass

You get back from the bathroom.

"Two more, please," your friend mouths to the bartender, holding up two fingers. She nods subtly in recognition. You watch as the busy woman reaches for two glasses with one hand, working the cash register with the other. In a moment of inattention, she loses grip of one of the glasses. It smashes as it hits the wooden floor. The shards glisten like toothed diamonds against the dull background.

While this event may seem trivial, a glass falling and hitting the floor actually brings up another interesting topic in…Read

Kant at the Bar: Transcendental Idealism in Daily Life

Patrick Cannon uses a popular sett ing to explain Kant's metaphysics.

It's Friday night and you're at the bar. It's packed. You snake through the sea of bodies.

"Ah! There's a free spot!" exclaims your friend, pointing to some stools across the counter. You part your way through a boisterous group of young women, sit down, and catch the bartender's eye. "Two beers, please," you say, holding up the peace sign.

"IDs please," she responds sceptically, holding her hand out.

"Uh!" You both…Read

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