Preferred philosophy competition topics

I like to see a philosophy essay competition with these topics

  • How will our understanding of morality change?
  • Discuss the philosophy of a modern social phenomenon.
  • Which recent scientific discovery has have a significant impact on philosophy and why?
  • Ethics of modern medicine.
  • What will be the most significant philosophical question of the 21 century and why?

Stanley Kubrick on the meaning of life

Stanley Kubrick on the meaning of life:

Playboy: If life is so purposeless, do you feel that it’s worth living?
Kubrick: Yes, for those of us who manage somehow to cope with our mortality. The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at somethinig as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism – and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But if he’s reasonably strong – and lucky – he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

This is exactly how i feel, but could never say as beautifully.

Also check out Wikipedia’s page on the meaning of life.

The Calculous of Abrahamic Religions

Followers of Abrahamic religion (christianity, islam or judaism) believes, by following the correct religious doctrine you will enter heaven in the afterlife, if not you will be consign to hell. This mechanism raise the ultimate cost and benefit of good and bad to infinity. Without it there is in the long run (death) no cost nor benefit to acting morally. This is perhaps what fear the Abrahamist about atheists the most. Not only do the atheist deny the existence of heaven and hell, they consider the very concept of afterlife to be complete nonsensical.

I suspect that there are closet-atheist-elitist (CAE) who denounce atheism and promote religion because while they are comfortable with themselves living without heaven or hell, they are uncomfortable with others doing the same. These CAE fear the freedom of knowing the ultimate cost and benefit is zero may lead to nihilist social unrest. They imagine nightmare of nihilists going around raping and pillaging, doing whatever they want with completely disregard for other people, and if thing turn for the worse, either because they got caught committing crime or whatever they can just kill themselves to set all balance to zero.

I as an atheist obviously do not subscribe to CAE’s fear. I am convinced that human internal moral compass develop via evolution and the incentive mechanism of modern legal institutes are very effective. To the contrary of CAE’s logic, if ultimately the cost/benefit is zero after death, than the only cost/benefit is that will affect you when you are a life. It does not make leading a life of crime more attractive, it make it less so.

While its extremely difficult to have a watertight demonstration of correlation between believe/non-believer and morality/criminality, because we dont have the technology (yet) to read peoples minds to know if they really believe in god or they are just paying lip service. There is at least some evident to suggest that atheism dont necessarily lead to more, but less crime.

More than half of Japanese consider themselves to be irreligious, they also have one of the lowest homicide rate in the world – 0.5 case per 100,000 people. While in the United States, where only 15% consider them self to be irreligious, their homicide rate is 10 times higher than japan at 5 cases per 100.100 people.

Ricky Gervais sums up the benefit of teaching your kids Christianity (he is now an atheist).

Taking issue with Wikipedia’s definition of philosophy

I got a rant or two about the definition of Philosophy on wikipedia. It states:

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2] It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.

To me, philosophy is the thinking and theorizing process that exist before and between actions for the purpose of discovering truth and what to do with it. All established academic disciplines, economics, physics and everything else were all initially the subject of philosopher’s contemplation. Philosophers thought about them until they convince themselves to move beyond thinking up theories to understand those subjects and onto actually proving their theories, with scientific methods developed by other philosophers. Where scientific method can be effectively applied to prove theories about the subject, advanced theories are able to be built on proven theories which can then proven by further application of scientific methods. Thus a loop is form and study of those subject become highly specialized giving birth to disciplines. Philosophers who become specialized in a particular discipline are then given name associated with their discipline, such as economist and physicist. Disciplines where scientific method are more applicable are grouped together under the broader label of science. The people who study a science discipline are brought under the broader label of scientist. These scientist are still philosophers who engage in philosophical theorizing between acts of proving their theories with scientific methods.

Subjects where the scientific method cannot be effectively applied, never got developed too far from the initial spark of thought about them. It only seems like philosophers only study general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language because understanding of them remains primitive (with all due respect); and philosophers who study specialized and advanced subjects are given broadly recognizable new labels.

Having already go on too long on the first sentence of wikipedia’s definition, let me just quickly end my rant with the second sentence by saying this: Philosophical thinking usually involve critical, generally systematic approach and rational argument because they are usually the best when one try to think about truth and what to do about truth. Philosophy is not distinguished by its method, but by its intended goal and its limitation to thought. Get it right Wikipedia.

ps. i know what you are thinking. you are thinking “its a wiki, if you are not happy about it, go fix it yourself, you pompous prick”. Yeah yeah, i know.

My atheism is ultimately faith based

My atheism is ultimately faith based

My atheism derived from my observation of reality,
since the accuracy of observation cannot be proven,
conviction in my understanding of reality is therefore an exercise in faith.
Thus, my atheism is ultimately faith based,
as with almost all forms of knowledge,
except for the existence of self.
(hat tip: René Descartes for “cogito ergo sum“, and Monicks for my muse.)