Nietzsche and affirmation of life

Nietzsche and affirmation of life

In this post, let us have a look at Nietzsche’s conception of affirmation. Netzsche’s conception of affirmation is not necessarily a straightforward one, as laid out in the statements within the various aphorisms towards the concept itself. So naturally, while looking at such aphorisms as the notorious ‘Ja-sager’ in The Gay Science is indicative of his views, there remain passages that are of equal (and perhaps higher) interest than these straightforward ones. One of these is...

'War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength'

‘War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength’

Some two years ago I wrote this post defining what a paradox is and how it is used on this website. In there, I also gave as an example of paradoxes Orwell’s well-known quotations, appearing in all kinds of articles: ‘War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength’. It is, I think, high time to return to an idea from two years ago, and give my take on these paradoxical statements. It is assumed...

Zeno's paradox of motion - part 1

Zeno’s paradoxes

Zeno of Elea (c. 490 – c. 430 BC) is one of the most enigmatic pre-Socratic philosophers. Though none of his own works have survived, there are fragmentary mentions of his on the classics like Aristotle and Plato. He was a member of the Eleatic School and, according to Plato at least, aimed to reinfoced Parmenides’s arguments (Parmenides being the founder of the school). While we know very little of Zeno himself, other than some...

Sam Harris’s kind of thought experiment

Sam Harris’s kind of thought experiment

I have recently shown that there are three kinds of thought experiments. Very briefly, there are kinds that have sound theoretical premises and the conclusions of which can be verified by experimentation; there are kinds that have sound theoretical premises, but the conclusions cannot be verified by experimentation; and there kinds that have neither sound theoretical premises, nor verifiable conclusions. It has proven difficult in particular to show where category 2 overlaps with category 3....

Three kinds of thought experiments in philosophy

Thought experiments are quite common in philosophy, but they are also quite problematic. Some thought experiments are meant to be taken almost literally (as in the case of Hobbes’s state of nature), while other are meant to lead the reader to a ‘logical’ conclusion based on a number of propositions (as in the case of Searle’s Chinese Room). Whatever the intention of the philosophers may be, it is important to establish what kinds of thought...

Ten underappreciated philosophers of the Islamic World

Ten underappreciated philosophers of the Islamic World

On August 27th 2016, OUP published a list of 10 underappreciated philosophers of the Islamic World. The list is not readable on mobile phones (mine at least) and for this reason has been reproduced below. It was compiled by Peter Adamson, who is the author of Philosophy in the Islamic World. The philosophical contribution of Islamic culture often goes unacknowledged, and when it is recognized, it is often reduced to a discussion of Islamic influence on European...

“If a tree falls in a forest …”, and quantum mechanics

“If a tree falls in a forest …”, and quantum mechanics

‘If a tree falls in a forest and absolutely nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ – This question has been asked quite a few times over the years. The first known formulation of this question was written back in 1883 in The Chautauquan, an educational magazine. Its popularity is probably due to its publication in the well known Scientific American, a year later. This is a bit weird as it is normally...

Michael Frazer’s (UEA) response to the Brexit Referendum

“When I woke up Friday morning, my Facebook friends—pro-Remain university lecturers, mostly—were quoting Yeats: “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” There was an easy explanation for what had just happened. As former Europe minister Keith Vaz told the BBC, “emotions” had triumphed over reason....

The Christian halo paradox

What follows is mostly an art history lesson into religious iconography. The word ‘halo’ has its origins in Ancient Greek – literally meaning ‘threshing-floor’, a circular space that was used to thresh grain by walking around it. The repeated movement around this space would leave a mark that looks like a halo. We can already notice that the Christian halo has its roots elsewhere, but it is nevertheless strange. There is, to be sure, no mention of...

6 Paradoxes in Macbeth – a study guide

6 Paradoxes in Macbeth – a study guide

Macbeth is known for its paradoxes and there are many of them in the play. Though I am by no means an expert in drama, and in fact my main appreciation of Shakespeare is in Hamlet (for madness) and Othello (for being an outsider with an ability to seduce). I have read most of his sonnets, and I still think them rather dull (sorry Shakespeare fans). And yet, despite these admissions, I will also admit that Macbeth rightfully...