Topic: Philosophy/Philosophy of religion
Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (Arabic: أبو العلاء المعري, full name أبو العلاء أحمد بن عبد الله بن سليمان التنوخي المعري Abū al-ʿAlāʾ Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sulaymān al-Tanūkhī al-Maʿarrī; December 973 – May 1057) was a blind Arab philosopher, poet, and writer. Despite holding a controversially irreligious worldview, he is regarded as one of the greatest classical Arabic poets.
Born in the city of Ma'arra during the Abbasid era, he studied in nearby Aleppo, then in Tripoli and Antioch. Producing popular poems in Baghdad, he nevertheless refused to sell his texts. In 1010, he returned to Syria after his mother began declining in health, and continued writing which gained him local respect.
Described as a "pessimistic freethinker", al-Ma'arri was a controversial rationalist of his time, citing reason as the chief source of truth and divine revelation. He was pessimistic about life, describing himself as "a double prisoner" of blindness and isolation. He attacked religious dogmas and practices, was equally critical and sarcastic about Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism, and became a Deist.
He advocated social justice and lived a secluded, ascetic lifestyle. He was a vegan, known in his time as moral vegetarianism, entreating: "do not desire as food the flesh of slaughtered animals / Or the white milk of mothers who intended its pure draught / for their young". Al-Ma'arri held an antinatalist outlook, in line with his general pessimism, suggesting that children should not be born to spare them of the pains and suffering of life.
Al-Ma'arri wrote three main works that were popular in his time. Among his works are The Tinder Spark, Unnecessary Necessity, and The Epistle of Forgiveness. Al-Ma'arri never married and died at the age of 83 in the city where he was born, Ma'arrat al-Nu'man. In 2013, a statue of al-Ma'arri located in his Syrian hometown was beheaded by jihadists from the al-Nusra Front.
- "Al-Maʿarri" | 2019-06-20 | 103 Upvotes 55 Comments
Distributism is an economic theory asserting that the world's productive assets should be widely owned rather than concentrated.
Developed in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, distributism was based upon the principles of Catholic social teaching, especially the teachings of Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Rerum novarum (1891) and Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo anno (1931). It views both capitalism and socialism as equally flawed and exploitative, and it favors economic mechanisms such as cooperatives and member-owned mutual organizations as well as small businesses, and large-scale antitrust regulations.
Some Christian democratic political parties have advocated distributism in their economic policies.
- "Distributism" | 2019-04-01 | 209 Upvotes 113 Comments
In a paper delivered to the Aristotelian Society on 12 March 1956, Walter Bryce Gallie (1912–1998) introduced the term essentially contested concept to facilitate an understanding of the different applications or interpretations of the sorts of abstract, qualitative, and evaluative notions—such as "art", "philanthropy" and "social justice"—used in the domains of aesthetics, development, political philosophy, philosophy of history, and philosophy of religion.
Garver (1978) describes their use as follows:
The term essentially contested concepts gives a name to a problematic situation that many people recognize: that in certain kinds of talk there is a variety of meanings employed for key terms in an argument, and there is a feeling that dogmatism ("My answer is right and all others are wrong"), skepticism ("All answers are equally true (or false); everyone has a right to his own truth"), and eclecticism ("Each meaning gives a partial view so the more meanings the better") are none of them the appropriate attitude towards that variety of meanings.
Essentially contested concepts involve widespread agreement on a concept (e.g., "fairness"), but not on the best realization thereof. They are "concepts the proper use of which inevitably involves endless disputes about their proper uses on the part of their users", and these disputes "cannot be settled by appeal to empirical evidence, linguistic usage, or the canons of logic alone".
- "Essentially contested concept" | 2015-08-08 | 60 Upvotes 11 Comments
Gödel's ontological proof is a formal argument by the mathematician Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) for the existence of God. The argument is in a line of development that goes back to Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109). St. Anselm's ontological argument, in its most succinct form, is as follows: "God, by definition, is that for which no greater can be conceived. God exists in the understanding. If God exists in the understanding, we could imagine Him to be greater by existing in reality. Therefore, God must exist." A more elaborate version was given by Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716); this is the version that Gödel studied and attempted to clarify with his ontological argument.
Gödel left a fourteen-point outline of his philosophical beliefs in his papers. Points relevant to the ontological proof include
- 4. There are other worlds and rational beings of a different and higher kind.
- 5. The world in which we live is not the only one in which we shall live or have lived.
- 13. There is a scientific (exact) philosophy and theology, which deals with concepts of the highest abstractness; and this is also most highly fruitful for science.
- 14. Religions are, for the most part, bad—but religion is not.
"Turtles all the way down" is an expression of the problem of infinite regress. The saying alludes to the mythological idea of a World Turtle that supports the earth on its back. It suggests that this turtle rests on the back of an even larger turtle, which itself is part of a column of increasingly large world turtles that continues indefinitely (i.e., "turtles all the way down").
The exact origin of the phrase is uncertain. In the form "rocks all the way down", the saying appears as early as 1838. References to the saying's mythological antecedents, the World Turtle and its counterpart the World Elephant, were made by a number of authors in the 17th and 18th centuries. This mythology is frequently assumed to have originated in ancient India and other Hinduist beliefs.
The expression has been used to illustrate problems such as the regress argument in epistemology.
- "Turtles All the Way Down" | 2016-09-03 | 57 Upvotes 10 Comments
The self-referencing doomsday argument rebuttal is an attempt to refute the doomsday argument (that there is a credible link between the brevity of the human race's existence and its expected extinction) by applying the same reasoning to the lifetime of the doomsday argument itself.
The first researchers to write about this were P. T. Landsberg and J. N. Dewynne in 1997; they applied belief in the doomsday argument to itself, and claimed that a paradox results.
- "Self-referencing doomsday argument rebuttal" | 2021-04-01 | 10 Upvotes 1 Comments