11 February 2015

Our Minds are not Mirrors

For Kant, our minds are not passive receivers of representations like mirrors. A normal flat mirror reflects the image from an object as if it is the same except in a twodimensional way. It was a common attitude among philosophers before Kant to treat the mind like a mirror. The mirror does not change the form of the object. Likewise, the mind does not affect or change the form of the objects, it just receives them. However, Kant changed the whole picture. He treated minds as active filters. Whatever is reflected on it is shaped in a certain way.<…Read

Kant made simple

Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804) was a German philosopher who taught for many years at the University of Koenigsberg. He made pivotal contributions to the study of ethics and epistemology and was a leading figure in the German Enlightenment.

Two stages of knowledge

Kant identified two stages in the process whereby our mind works the raw material of sensation into the finished product of thought. The first stage is the coordination of sensations by applying to them the forms of perception - space and time. The second stage is the coordination of perceptions by applying to them…Read

17 January 2015

A world where language is no longer a barrier.’

The Translate app can decipher French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Russian, and with more languages apparently in the pipeline. Google said the new app should offer better conversation between languages, and is said to allow seamless chat between people. The Guardian's Adam Gabbatt put the app's translation skills to the test in New York City.



6 October 2014


Bischler, W. (1939). Schopenhauer and Freud: acomparison. Psychoanal. Q. 8, 88-97.

Brandell, G. (1979). Freud: A Man of His Century. New Jersey: Humanities Press.

Brentano, F. (1874). Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint. Trans. A. C. Rancurello, D. B. Terrell and L. L. McAlister. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973 Brook, A. (1992). Psychoanalysis and commonsense psychology. Annual of Psychoanal. New Jersey: Analytic Press.

Ellenberger, H. (1970). The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry. New York: Basic Books.

Freud, S. (1893-1895). Studies of Hysteria. S.E. 2.

--------. (1895). Project for a Scientific Psychology.…Read

Noise, Human Natu re and Democracy

I imagine Arthur Schopenhauer would have been happy to die. He had little time for most people and didn't think much of worldly matters. He viewed himself as homeless. The world could not be called his home as it lacked warmth, cordiality and safety. According to its very nature the world was an intensely painful place to be stuck in. He was a frustrated man who had few friends, was abandoned by his family and could not find requited romantic love. His philosophy is like no other and his brutal honesty and satire entirely loveable. Schopenhauer spent most…Read


The id, ego and super-ego are the three parts of the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche; they are the three theoretical constructs in terms of whose activity and interaction our mental life is described. According to this model of the psyche, the id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends; the super-ego plays the critical and moralizing role; and the ego is the organized, realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego. The super-ego can stop one from doing certain things that one's id may want…Read


A close study of Schopenhauer's central work, The World as Will and Representation, reveals that a number of Freud's most characteristic doctrines were first articulated by Schopenhauer. A thinker always expresses something of his culture, of course, but the parallels to be found between Freud and Schopenhauer go well beyond cultural influence. Schopenhauer's concept of the will contains the foundations of what in Freud became the concepts of the unconscious and the id. Schopenhauer's writings on madness anticipate Freud's theory of repression and his first theory of the etiology of neurosis. Schopenhauer's work…Read

Birds and bees

It underlies the world's oldest profession, it can sell anything, and each one of us is here on earth because of it. Undeniably, sex is one of the most powerful and pervasive elements of human life.

Perhaps because it can so easily become compulsive, human societies seek to regulate sexual expression. Religion has a lot to say about sex, and in many cases use it as the basis for generating negative emotions and perceptions. Western society at least since the 1960's has gone for sexual de-regulation, with hedonistic values becoming more accepted.

There are…Read

9 June 2014


November 2013 marks the centennial of the birth of Albert Camus. A native of French Algeria, Camus became an influential wartime journalist before embarking on a creative writing career. He would become a titan of French literature and a leading voice of the existentialist philosophy that dominated the post-WWII intellectual climate in France. Alba Amoia says in her biography that Camus became "the moral conscience of his generation." Ironically, this spokesman for the absurdity of the human condition came across as a pretty regular guy; in fact, he possessed an easy charm, excelling at endeavours social, athletic or literary. At…Read


Existentialism is a philosophy concerned with the lives of human beings, challenging what is valuable and why. Through existentialism we learn that everything in our lives is our own choosing. While alive we realize life is absurd and meaningless, we are battling with hell and then all progress is erased by death. This ultimately is a frightening thought but defended by Jean Paul Sartre as humanistic and liberally life-affirming. Sartre demands we live freely as culprits to our every exploit and answerable to every aspect of life. Although we all bear symptoms of the same condition Sartre believes we…Read

DO IT YOURSELF: Existentialism as Punk Philosophy

Existentialism is a tricky philosophy to explain without trivializing or obfuscating so much about it that's important, original and relevant. There are a number of peculiarities that can account for this, but an important one is that Existentialism is a state of mind as much as it is a collection of ideas. As Kierkegaard's ‘aesthetic' works, and the novels and plays of Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus and Unamuno demonstrate, the communication of this form of philosophy benefits from being indirect. To appreciate its significance you have to be there, in amongst the detailed stories, rolling critiques…Read


Time should be grasped in and of itself as the unity of the three dimensions of future, past and present

To try and compress 437 dense pages of Being and Time into eight brief articles was obviously a difficult exercise from the start. But, I must admit, this was also part of the attraction. Despite the limits of this virtual medium, I hope that something of the book has been conveyed in a way that might encourage people to read more and further. Being and Time is extraordinarily rich, difficult and systematic work of philosophy that repays careful…Read


Far from being morbid, Heidegger's conception of living in the knowledge of death is a liberating one.

As I said in my first article on Heidegger, the basic idea in Being and Time is very simple: being is time and time is finite. For human beings, time comes to an end with our death. Therefore, if we want to understand what it means to be an authentic human being, then it is essential that we constantly project our lives onto the horizon of our death. This is what Heidegger famously calls "being-towards-death". If our being is…Read


In his essay Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre defines what existentialism is. He begins by identifying that the key starting point for existentialism is that: Human existence precedes human essence (p. 314).

There is no a priori human nature formulated by God. After we reject the idea that God exists, Sartre follows Heideggerian thinking by stating that there can only be one being for whom existence precedes essence. This "human reality" (Heidegger's terminology p.315) arrives first, then defines himself.

… man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and…Read


For Heidegger, the call of conscience is one that silences the chatter of the world and brings me back to myself.

After the existential drama of Heidegger's notion of being-towards-death, why do we need a discussion of conscience? As so often in Being and Time, Heidegger insists that although his description of being-towardsdeath is formally or ontologically correct, it needs more compelling content at what Heidegger calls the "ontic" level, that is, at the level of experience. Finitude gets a grip on the self through the experience of conscience. For me, the discussion of conscience contains…Read


How do we find ourselves in the world, and how can we find our freedom here?

As I already tried to show, Heidegger seeks to reawaken perplexity about the question of being, the basic issue of metaphysics. In Being and Time, he pursues this question through an analysis of the human being or what he calls Dasein. The being of Dasein is existence, understood as average everyday existence or our life in the world, discussed in the last entry. But how might we give some more content to this rather formal idea of existence?



As I showed in the previous article, moods are essential ways of disclosing human existence for Heidegger. Yet, there is one mood in particular that reveals the self in stark profile for the first time. This is the function of anxiety (Angst), which Heidegger calls a basic or fundamental mood (Grundstimmung). Rudiger Safranski rightly calls anxiety; "a shadowy queen amongst moods".

Anxiety makes its appearance in Division 1, Chapter 6, where Heidegger is seeking to define the being of Dasein as what he calls "care" (Sorge). It would take far more time than I have at my disposal to…Read


For Heidegger, what defines the human being is the capacity to be puzzled by the deepest of questions: why is there something rather than nothing?

As Heidegger makes clear from the untitled, opening page with which Being and Time begins, what is at stake in the book is the question of being. This is the question that Aristotle raised in an untitled manuscript written 2500 years ago, but which became known at a later date as the Metaphysics. For Aristotle, there is a science that investigates what he calls "being as such", without regard to any specific realms…Read


How Heidegger turned Descartes upside down, so that we are, and only therefore think

I talked in my first article about Heidegger's attempt to destroy our standard, traditional philosophical vocabulary and replace it with something new. What Heidegger seeks to destroy in particular is a certain picture of the relation between human beings and the world that is widespread in modern philosophy and whose source is Descartes (indeed Descartes is the philosopher who stands most accused in Being and Time). Roughly and readily, this is the idea that there are two sorts of substances in the…Read


*A modern philosophical movement stressing the importance of personal experience and responsibility and the demands that they make on the individual.

*Humans are grounded in the world, in existence. A human condition, born without seeking to be born, dying without seeking death. We live between birth and death trapped within our body and our reason, unable to conceive of a time in which we were not or a time in which we will not be.

* We have no fixed human nature in the sense of determining who we are or what we may become. Humans…Read

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