Monday, March 30, 2009

Academy Questions and Answers

Q: Can a "being" be harmed who may or may not exist?

A: Philosophy is concerned with words, with grammar and syntax. Your question as written says this; "There is a being who may or may not exist," then goes on to ask if that being can be harmed. To be answered at all, you, the questioner, must decide whether or not the being exists. You leave it hanging in limbo.

The only answer becomes this: If it exists, it can be harmed; if it does not exist the question of harm becomes irrelevant.

Q: Does determinism rid people of responsibility?

A: Naturalism.Org and the CenterForNaturalism.Org, both operated by philosopher Tom Clark , are the most prominent web-based organizations promoting determinism.

Clark argues this:"Seeing that we are fully caused creatures - not self-caused - we can no longer take or assign ultimate credit or blame for what we do."

Never does he say we cannot take "any" responsibility; but in what manner one is to mitigate one's responsibility is never really addressed, as far as I can see. I have debated with Tom via email and I've used some of what he says in this blog. [Use the Search box above for "determinism", "free will", "Tom Clark", "fully caused", "contra-causal", etc.]

Q: Is existence caused by random chemical accidents and biological mutations or is there order and purpose?

A: Both. Nature acts randomly with the material that falls into its clutches. Gravity, for example, doesn't care what solid materials it holds to the surface of a globe.

On the other hand, the fact that there are rules in nature, which nature itself cannot change, means that the "order" and "purpose" of a thing is to fulfill the laws of nature that have been set upon it. But that is much different from the "rational order" we often see, and which we look for. "Rational order" is only what we make of it, and serves no purpose but that which we give it. Only a few hundred years ago there was no "purpose" for aluminum. There was natural "order" in it. But it took men to give purpose to the natural order found in the existence of that metal.

Q: Does language limit our ability to think? In other words, are the limitations of language a barrier to "deeper" understandings?

Language ENABLES us to attain "higher and deeper" thoughts. Actually, without language, we could have no thoughts.

Even when we were as primate as we could be, homo habilis had to have a language in order to say "danger" or "mine" or "damn you!" Every concept eventually has a word to represent it. Until the word has been created, it cannot be understood and used by anyone but him who has had the concept.

"In order to be used as a single unit, the enormous sum integrated by a concept has to be given the form of a single, specific, perceptual concrete, which will differentiate it from all other concretes and from all other concepts. This is the function performed by language." Ayn Rand

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