Talking about the soul

In “Soul Talk,” Stephen Asma says, “No self-respecting professor of philosophy wants to discuss the soul in class.”  And yet using the Wittgenstein-inspired notion of “category mistakes,” he explains there are ways in which soul talk is meaningful and can’t be replaced.

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F. P. Ramsey: greatest philosopher of the 20th century?

Restoring F. P. Ramsey.  “F. P. Ramsey has some claim to be the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century. In Cambridge in the 1920s, he singlehandedly forged a range of ideas that have since come to define the philosophical landscape. Contemporary debates about truth, meaning, knowledge, logic and the structure of scientific theories all take off from positions first defined by Ramsey. Equally importantly, he figured out the principles governing subjective probability, and so opened the way to decision theory, game theory and much work in the foundations of economics. His fertile mind could not help bubbling over into other subjects. An incidental theorem he proved in a logic paper initiated the branch of mathematics known as Ramsey theory, while two articles in the Economic Journal pioneered the mathematical analysis of taxation and saving.” All this before he died at the age of 26. Learn more about Ramsey’s theory of truth in this Philosophy Bites podcast.

Philosophy … the great conversation

Talk with me.  “Western philosophy has its origins in conversation, in face-to-face discussions about reality, our place in the cosmos, and how we should live. It began with a sense of mystery, wonder, and confusion, and the powerful desire to get beyond mere appearances to find truth or, if not that, at least some kind of wisdom or balance. Socrates started the conversation about philosophical conversation. … The point of philosophy is not to have a range of facts at your disposal, though that might be useful … rather, it is to develop the skills and sensitivity to be able to argue about some of the most significant questions we can ask ourselves, questions about reality and appearance, life and death, god and society. As Plato’s Socrates tells us, ‘These are not trivial questions we are discussing here, we are discussing how to live.'”