All posts tagged: metaphysics

Week 18 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Mind-Body Dualism

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here! I hope you’re enjoying the topics so far.  Now that we’re approximately a third of the year in, the concepts are getting a little more abstract!  Hang on tight – we’re about to get metaphysical!) This Week’s Journal Topic: Substance Dualism Substance dualism is a fancy term for the belief that the mind and physical body are two different kinds of “stuff” in the universe. Think of the brain and mind.  The brain is physical substance, whose properties we can detect through scientific study.  For example, we can measure electrical impulses, chemicals, and understand the connections between cells.  The mind, however, seems to be a substance that really exists but is undetectable by scientific methods. The reference to the mind as a substance is controversial because although we have intimate subjective experience with it (we feel it), we cannot scientifically test its properties.  So how do we know the mind exists and how can we even …

Does smoking cause cancer? Philosophy says no.

Causation, a.k.a. cause & effect, is arguably the most important and fascinating notion in metaphysics. (Metaphysics is a branch of academic philosophy dealing with questions like, “how/where/why does stuff exist?” and “what does it mean to exist?”) We use causation language  everyday.  But our normal usage of terms such as cause & effect are clumsy and inexact.  When we try to do philosophy or science without refining the notion of causation, are results are a big pile of cow dung. And even if you don’t plan on doing much philosophy, you should still care about refining your usage of cause & effect. If you are confused about what causation is, then you fundamentally misunderstand the world.  Errors in perceiving causal connections in reality cause you to: form unjustified beliefs make false statements to yourself and others.   That’s not be so bad, you say.  So what if I have false beliefs. But remember, decisions are based on beliefs – you act because you believe other people rely on your words – they expect them to be a …

Philosophy for Real Life: Theories of Truth

As a lover of philosophy, I often think about truth. But I was at a party on Friday night and a colleague asked me exactly what I mean by “truth”.  Suddenly, I couldn’t explain what I meant! What is truth? By age five you had heard the word and probably even used it.  Now as an adult, it’s difficult to (non-circularly) explain what “truth” refers to.  In this blog, I’ll teach you three ways to think about Truth/Falsity of statements, then talk about two distinct types of truths.  Finally, we’ll consider a truth that adds meaning to daily life and enriches your closest relationships. Truth and Falsity So your friend calls and says excitedly she’ll come pick you up in her new car. She shows up in a used 2008 Camry.  You’re slightly miffed because you were expecting something 2018 or more recent (you got out of bed on a Sunday for this?!) “I thought you said you got a new car,” you say casually, not wanting to hurt her feelings. “Well, that’s the truth …