Tag Archives: philosophy

fairies don’t exist


First published Wed Oct 10, 2012

Existence raises deep and important problems in metaphysics, philosophy of language, and philosophical logic. Many of the issues can be organized around the following two questions: Is existence a property of individuals? and Assuming that existence is a property of individuals, are there individuals that lack it?

Bertrand Russell expressed one aspect of the problem this way: If it’s false that the present King of France is bald, then why doesn’t this fact imply that it’s true the present King of France is not bald?

Kant argues that the use of words (or “predicates”) alone does not necessarily imply the existence of their referents. We can only assume the existence of entities named by our words; we cannot prove “existence” by means of the use of language alone.



Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?

Edmund Gettier is Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts,
Amherst. This short piece, published in 1963, seemed to many decisively to
refute an otherwise attractive analysis of knowledge. It stimulated a renewed
effort, still ongoing, to clarify exactly what knowledge comprises.

Gettier problem

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Gettier problem, in the field of epistemology, is a landmark philosophical problem with our understanding of knowledge. Attributed to American philosopher Edmund Gettier, Gettier-type counterexamples (called “Gettier-cases”) overturned the long-held justified true belief (or JTB) account of knowledge. On the JTB account, knowledge is equivalent to justified true belief, and if all three conditions (justification, truth, and belief) are met of a given claim, then we have knowledge of that proposition. In his three-page 1963 paper, titled Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?, Gettier showed, by means of two counterexamples, that there were cases where individuals had justified true belief of a claim, but still failed to know it. Thus, Gettier showed that the JTB account was inadequate—it could not account for all of knowledge. The JTB account was first credited to Plato, though Plato argued against this very account of knowledge in the Theaetetus (210a).

The term “Gettier problem”, or “Gettier case”, or even the verb Gettiered is sometimes used to describe any case in epistemology that purports to repudiate the JTB account.

Responses to Gettier’s paper have been numerous. Some rejected Gettier’s examples, while others sought to adjust the JTB account to blunt the force of counterexamples. Gettier problems have even found their way into experiments, where the intuitive responses of people of varying demographics to Gettier cases have been studied.

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A subject is a being who has a unique consciousness and/or unique personal experiences, or an entity that has a relationship with another entity that exists outside of itself (called an “object“). A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed. This concept is especially important in continental philosophy, where ‘the Subject’ is a central term in debates over human autonomy and the nature of the self.[citation needed]

The sharp distinction between subject and object corresponds to the distinction, in the philosophy of René Descartes, between thought and extension. Descartes believed that thought (subjectivity) was the essence of the mind, and that extension (the occupation of space) was the essence of matter.[citation needed]

In the modern continental tradition, debates over the nature of the Subject play a role comparable to debates over personhood within the distinct Anglo-American tradition ofanalytical philosophy.

Continental philosophy

Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe.[1][2] This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and traditions outside the analytic movement. Continental philosophy includes the following movements: German idealism,phenomenology, existentialism (and its antecedents, such as the thought of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche), hermeneutics,structuralism, post-structuralism, French feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism.[3]

It is difficult to identify non-trivial claims that would be common to all the preceding philosophical movements. The term “continental philosophy”, like “analytic philosophy”, lacks clear definition and may mark merely a family resemblance across disparate philosophical views. Simon Glendinning has suggested that the term was originally more pejorative than descriptive, functioning as a label for types of western philosophy rejected or disliked by analytic philosophers.


Martin Heidegger (German: [ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈhaɪdɛɡɐ]; September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) was a German philosopher, widely seen as a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition, although tainted by his association with the Nazi regime. From beginnings as a Catholicacademic, he developed a groundbreaking philosophy that influenced literarysocial and political theoryart and aesthetics,architecture, cultural anthropologydesignenvironmentalismpsychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

For Heidegger, the things in lived experience always have more to them than what we can see; accordingly, the true nature of being is “withdrawal”. The interplay between the obscured reality of things and their appearance in what he calls the “clearing” is Heidegger’s main theme. The presence of things for us is not their being, but merely their being interpreted as equipment according to a particular system of meaning and purpose. For instance, when a hammer is efficiently used to knock in nails we cease to be aware of it. This is termed ‘ready to hand’, and Heidegger considers it an authentic mode. The ‘time’ in the title of his best-known workBeing and Time, refers to the way that the given features (‘past’) are interpreted in the light of their possibilities. Heidegger claimed philosophy and science since ancient Greece had reduced things to their presence, which was a superficial way of understanding them. Modern technology made things mere stockpiles of useful presence.

It has been suggested Heidegger’s championing of Nazism as university chancellor between 1933 and 1934 was motivated by his view that the Nazis did not share the technological worldview of American capitalism and Soviet communism. In the aftermath of World War II he was banned from teaching, and denounced by Karl Jaspers. Amid mounting pressure that included talk of confiscating his books, Heidegger suffered a minor nervous breakdown. He tearfully apologized for his misdeeds to a former mentor, by then an archbishop, but never made similar statements in public. He was rehabilitated and made a professor emeritus in 1951.

Being and Time (GermanSein und Zeit) is a 1927 book by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Although written quickly, and though Heidegger did not complete the project outlined in the introduction, it remains his most important work. It has profoundly influenced 20th-century philosophy, particularly existentialismhermeneutics and deconstruction. The book is dedicated to Edmund Husserl “in friendship and admiration”.


René Girard (/ʒiˈrɑrd/French: [ʒiʁaʁ]; born December 25, 1923) is a French-born, American historianliterary critic, and philosopher of social science whose work belongs to the tradition of anthropological philosophy. Girard is the author of nearly thirty books (seebelow), with his writings spanning many academic domains. Although the reception of his work is different in each of these areas, there is a growing body of secondary literature on his work and his influence on disciplines such as literary criticismcritical theory,anthropologytheologypsychologymythologysociologyeconomicscultural studies, and philosophy.

Girard’s fundamental ideas, which he has developed throughout his career and provide the foundation for his thinking, are that desire is mimetic (all of our desires are borrowed from other people), that all conflict originates in mimetic desire (mimetic rivalry), that thescapegoat mechanism is the origin of sacrifice and the foundation of human culture, and religion was necessary in human evolution to control the violence that can come from mimetic rivalry, and that the Bible reveals these ideas and denounces the scapegoat mechanism.


Erich Fromm Archive


The most important misunderstanding seems to me to lie in a confusion between the human necessities which I consider part of human nature, and the human necessities as they appear as drives, needs, passions, etc., in any given historical period. This division is not very different from Marx’s concept of “human nature in general”, to be distinguished from “human nature as modified in each historical period.” The same distinction exists in Marx when he distinguishes between “constant” or “fixed” drives and “relative” drives. The constant drives “exist under all circumstances and … can be changed by social conditions only as far as form and direction are concerned.” The relative drives “owe their origin only to a certain type of social organization.” Human Nature and Social Theory, 1969

Biography Fromm


Trotzky’s Diary in Exile, 1935
Character and Social Process,
Individual and Social Origins of Neurosis
, 1944
The Authoritarian Personality, 1957
The Influence of Social Factors in Child Development, 1958
Summerhill – A Radical Approach to Child Rearing, 1960
Marx’s Concept of Man, 1961
Introduction to Socialist Humanism: An International Symposium, 1965
Marxism, Psychoanalysis and Reality, 1966
Human Nature and Social Theory, 1969

Further reading:

On the anniversary of the birth of Erich Fromm, Raya Dunayevskaya 1980
L.S. Vygostsky Archive
Fromm’s Sane Society, Paul Mattick, 1956
Raya Dunayevskaya Archive
Sigmund Freud, Weltanschauung