Reason is the Slave to the Passions: Hume on Reason vs. Desire

David Hume

Author: Daniel Weltman Category: Ethics, Historical Philosophy, Logic and Reasoning, Epistemology, or Theory of Knowledge Word Count: 998   Imagine you’re offered a delicious piece of cake. You know it’s very unhealthy. Your stomach tells you to eat it, but your brain tells you to refuse. Maybe you listen to your brain and you ignore both … Continue reading Reason is the Slave to the Passions: Hume on Reason vs. Desire

Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

Author: Thomas Metcalf Categories: Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysics, Historical Philosophy, Islamic Philosophy Word count: 1000 Why is there something rather than nothing? Intuitively, it could have been that nothing existed at all. Yet you and I are here, plus a whole universe of other stuff. We had parents, and our parents had parents, who had … Continue reading Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

Rousseau on Human Nature: “Amour de soi” and “Amour propre”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

Author: Corey McCabe Category: Historical Philosophy, Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy Word Count: 995 Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) was a Swiss philosopher who described the state of nature—what life was like before governments were instituted—as the state “most suitable to mankind.”[1] He broke sharply with his contemporaries by arguing that people were good prior to the … Continue reading Rousseau on Human Nature: “Amour de soi” and “Amour propre”

“Nasty, Brutish, and Short”: Thomas Hobbes on Life in the State of Nature

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679).

Author: Daniel Weltman Category: Historical Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy Word Count: 995 What would life be like without any government? Would it be a utopia, or would it be miserable? The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) famously leaned in the latter direction. He argued in his book Leviathan[1] that, without government, life would be … Continue reading “Nasty, Brutish, and Short”: Thomas Hobbes on Life in the State of Nature

Moore’s Proof of an External World: Responding to External World Skepticism

Author: Chris Ranalli Categories: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Historical Philosophy Word count: 1000 External world skepticism is the view that we cannot know anything about the external world: we can’t know that we have hands, that there are other people, or, in general, know that anything external to our minds exists. Such skeptics commonly argue that we … Continue reading Moore’s Proof of an External World: Responding to External World Skepticism

African American Existentialism: DuBois, Locke, Thurman, and King

W.E.B. DuBois, Alain Locke, Howard Thurman, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Author: Anthony Sean Neal Category: African American Philosophy, Phenomenology and Existentialism, Historical Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Race, Ethics Word Count: 996 Race today is often presented as a social construct. But social constructions, as Black people know all too well, can create real existential crises. Philosophers of the Black Experience[1] writing during the … Continue reading African American Existentialism: DuBois, Locke, Thurman, and King

Pascal’s Wager: A Pragmatic Argument for Belief in God

Pascal's wager image: person praying in front of a pile of poker chips.

Author: Liz Jackson Categories: Philosophy of Religion, Epistemology, or Theory of Knowledge, Historical Philosophy, Logic and Reasoning Word Count: 996 Should you believe there’s a God? To answer this, we might examine arguments for theism—like first-cause and design arguments—and arguments for atheism—like arguments from evil. These arguments offer evidence for and against God’s existence.[1] Pascal’s … Continue reading Pascal’s Wager: A Pragmatic Argument for Belief in God

Is Death Bad? Epicurus and Lucretius on the Fear of Death

By The Death Bed, 1896 by Edvard Munch

Author: Frederik Kaufman Categories: Ethics, Metaphysics, Historical Philosophy Word count: 987 Most people think dying would be bad for them and so they fear it. Is that fear rational? The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BCE) says no. He argues that death— as the permanent extinction of consciousness—is not bad, so we should not fear … Continue reading Is Death Bad? Epicurus and Lucretius on the Fear of Death

John Stuart Mill on The Good Life: Higher-Quality Pleasures

John Stuart Mill

Author: Dale E. Miller Category: Ethics, Historical Philosophy Wordcount: 994 One important question in ethics is what makes people’s lives go well for them. Philosophers have proposed various theories about what things in and of themselves make people better off, i.e., theories of “well-being.” Many such theories say that pleasurable experiences are at least part of … Continue reading John Stuart Mill on The Good Life: Higher-Quality Pleasures