Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar, Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein

The authors argue that philosophy and jokes are two sides of the same coin. Both of them amuse us, tickle our minds and makes us think. The book is an attempt to explain philosophy through jokes. The authors call this approach philogagging.

Metaphysics - Does the universe have a purpose? What are the characteristics that define an object? Do human beings have free will?
  1. Teleology - What is purpose of our lives?
  2. Essentialism - What are the essential qualities that define an object?
  3. Rationalism - We acquire knowledge through reasoning.
  4. Infinity and Eternity - Is the universe going to last till eternity?
  5. Determinism versus Free Will - Do we have free will or are all our actions predetermined?
  6. Process Philosophy - Evolving God!
  7. The Principle of Parsimony
Logic - How to perform reasoning?
  1. Aristotle's Law of Non-contradiction - A statement cannot be true and not true simultaneously.
  2. Illogical Reasoning - Wrong reasoning!
  3. Inductive Logic - Reasoning is performed based on observation and generalization.
  4. Falsifiability - In order for a statement to be valid there should be some possible circumstance when the statement can be proved to be false.
  5. Deductive Logic - Reasoning is performed based on rules.
  6. Argument from Analogy- Conclusions are drawn from analogous entities or situations.
  7. Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc Fallacy - An event X succeeded by another event Y does not necessarily mean X is the cause of Y.
  8. Monte Carlo Fallacy - Each trial is independent of the other.
  9. Circular Argument - One of the premises of an argument is the conclusion itself.
  10. Respect for Authority Fallacy - False dependence on the veracity of a higher authority than verifying the accuracy of a statement.
  11. Zeno's Paradox - Achilles and the Tortoise
  12. Logical and Semantic Paradoxes - This following statement is false. The preceding statement in true.
Epistemology - What does it mean to say I know something? How do we gain knowledge?
  1. Reason versus Revelation - Is knowledge attained through human reasoning or through revelation from God?
  2. Empiricism - Knowledge is attained through sense data
  3. German Idealism (Immanuel Kant)
  4. Philosophy of Mathematics - Analytic versus Synthetic statement, A priori versus A posteriori statement
  5. Pragmatism - Truth of a statement lies in its practical consequences.
  6. Phenomenology
Ethics - What is good? What is right? Is there any absolute standard to distinguish between right and wrong?
  1. Divine Revelation - Ethics is decided by God.
  2. Platonic Virtue - Ethics is decided by human wisdom.
  3. Utilitarianism - The end justifies the means.
  4. Golden Rule - Do unto others what you want others to do unto you (as long it can be considered a universal law).
  5. Will to Power
  6. Emotivism - Ethics is decided by our emotional state.
  7. Applied Ethics - Professional ethics
  8. Psychoanalysis - Ethics is decided by our unconscious being.
  9. Situation Ethics - Ethics is decided by the situation under consideration.
Philosophy of Religion - Is there a God?
  1. Deism and Historical Religions - "The Force" versus Creator/Clockmaker
  2. Belief in God - Theism (God exists), Atheism (God does not exist), Agnosticism (Current evidences cannot prove existence of God)
  3. Theological Distinctions - Jewish; Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Methodist, Jehovah's Witness; Buddhism, Zen
  4. Airhead Philosophy

Philosophy of Language - How do we communicate?
  1. Ordinary Language Philosophy - "I promise" versus "I paint", "nothing" seems to be a thing, "I love you" and "I love ya" occur in different contexts, "I believe in God" can have different connotations,
  2. The Linguistic Nature of Proper Names - Bertrand Russel (short descriptions),  Saul Kripke (rigid demonstrators)
  3. The Philosophy of Vagueness

Social and Political Philosophy - Do we need laws? Is it possible to have an ideal state?
  1. The State of Nature
  2. Might equals Right
  3. Feminism
  4. Economic Philosophies
  5. Philosophy of Law
Relativity - What are the things that are relative and things that are absolute?
  1. Relativity of Truth
  2. Relativity of Time
  3. Relativity of World-views
  4. Relativity of Views
  5. Absolute Relativity

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