103

Your reasoning would be sound if you picked any random human who ever lived and checked whether they would be alive today. This chance would indeed be rather low. (Because today's world population is far higher than ever in the past, the chance is not quite as astronomically low as one might think.) However, we are not looking at any random human who ever ...


98

If you shake the box, it rattles. If you measure its weight before you put in the pencil and after, it will have increased by exactly the weight of the pencil. That's how you know the pencil still exists in there. And if you really want to explore the basic meaning of "existence": how and why do you know the pencil exists before you put it into the box? ...


69

The objection to "I think, therefore I am" is that it presupposes the existence of an "I" doing the thinking. Possibly, "there are thoughts" is the true minimum statement that can be reached using Descartes' method; this does not presuppose the existence of some sort of unified consciousness having the thoughts. Bernard Williams and Søren Kierkegaard were ...


69

I’m having a tough time explaining why the pencil ceases to exist once you close the box. Because you're trying to explain something which is wrong physically and wrong philosophically. Your friends are correct. The issue is that you have no proof of its presence or absence once you close the box. That does not mean it ceases to exist. It just means ...


52

The assumption that the pencil continues to exist - even when the box is closed - is the most simple hypothesis which explains all relevant observations. E.g., the observation that the pencil exists when opening the box, as @Mauro ALLEGRANZA explains.


49

Ultimately, it all comes down to what you mean by "exist". Werewolves and ghosts do indeed exist, as fictional objects. And thus they can be distinguished from each other within the fiction, even though neither one exists in the real world. If you wish to pursue this, I'd recommend you look into Husserl's notion of "regional ontologies", which attempts ...


42

Shuffle a standard deck of 52 playing cards and look at the arrangement you end up with. Assuming your sorting was completely random the probability of you getting that exact arrangement is about 1 in 8 x 10 ^ 67. What an incredible coincidence! Well not really - you had to end up with one of the possible arrangements and they are all improbable, so an ...


30

This is exactly what Descartes was trying to prove. He wanted to build philosophy from the ground up based on a series of rational observations. I think he must've been quite dismayed when he realized that it is possible to take a skeptical position on almost everything. His conclusion in his Meditations I & II was that this is the only truth, and the ...


28

You are assuming that existence is a phenomenon that can undergo sudden state changes. Or in simpler words: That things can cease to exist and came (back) into existence instantly and without observable side effects. As Carl Sagan said: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” Your claim has no supporting evidence. No such sudden stage changes ...


24

To make the argument valid, you'd need to say something like: Human life is intrinsically valuable. A human life begins at conception. To destroy anything intrinsically valuable is always wrong. Since abortion is the destruction of something that counts as "a human life" by (2), then by 1 and 3 it will follow that it is wrong. Secular arguments against ...


22

If you place a pencil in an opaque box and close the box, does the pencil exist? This is a Metaphysical question to which we do not know the correct answer. But here are some philosophical views Idealism : The pencil does not exist when no one is watching The mind is what creates matter, if something is not created by any mind (i.e : inside an opaque ...


21

We don't know. There are some very valiant attempts to engage the question here, and many of them even explore concepts well worth exploring. But just because we live in such a complex, information-packed age doesn't mean we need to pretend we know things we don't. The oracle at Delphi said that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens simply because he ...


21

No. Descartes didn't say: "I think about me therefore I am". He said "I think therefore I am". That is, the thing you're asserting the existing of is the thing that is thinking. His rationale is that if something is thinking, it must exist. The rationale is not that anything he can think of exists.


19

Before anything else one should be aware of the instrument used to answer questions. That instrument is human language. While there is no guarantee that such a system of patterns is powerful and expressive enough to reason about the necessity of all that is, we can still examine what can we reasonably say and understand about this. Let us begin by finding ...


18

Death is not the opposite of existence. The opposite of existence of is non-existence, and the opposite of death is life. Existence does not necessarily entail life, but life necessarily entails existence. So when philosophers argue for the existence of God, they're not arguing that he is "alive", and thus the notion of death is not applicable.


16

If you make the supposition that no thing inside the universe could generate the universe and that every thing that exists is inside the universe than the direct conclusion is that the universe was not generated by a thing, which is similar to saying that it was generated by nothing. The difficulty here is that you have to ask yourself what you mean by "...


12

Yes it may be false I think therefore I am is a logical conclusion, aimed at showing that something exists. It assumes that logic works and exists. How can you assume that before you even know if you or anything else exists? Well, you can't, of course. And famously logic is in itself impossible to prove. Therefore we can not say that Cogito is proven ...


12

That's a nice question, but I don't think things can "have" front and back. A chair is just an object with its geometry and configuration. Front and back are concepts defined by us for matters of pure perspective. They are not some kind of property of the chair. In the course of our existence on earth we found it necessary to distinguish between some ...


12

A proposition is objective if its truth value is independent of the person uttering it. A fact is objective in the same way. For morality to be objective, moral propositions such as "Killing is bad","Stealing is bad", etc... need to be true independently of the person who is stating them. Moral statements are basically statements of value. Some value ...


11

Definition: We say X is logically impossible if it entails a contradiction, and logically possible otherwise. Definition: Given a set of assumptions, a sufficient explanation for X is a demonstration that not-X is logically impossible within those assumptions. Lemma: If not-X is logically possible within a set of assumptions, then there does not exist a ...


11

This isn't one unified theory, but a strain of thought that has reoccurred many times and in many different forms in the world of philosophy. Some of the most notable versions are found in Plato, who viewed the ordinary material world as a imperfect copy or reflection of a more true Reality composed of ideal elements (perhaps most memorably explained in the ...


11

I think Shane captures the basic structure of the standard secular arguments, but there are a few more that can be offered -- some of which run contrary to the usual political divisions at least in the American sphere. Regarding your initial formulation, there are a few gaps that I don't really get: Human existence is inherently good. A human exists at ...


11

Actually the whole business of living other than the animalic part, is denying death. So the idealism you are seeking by not denying death is itself a denial of death. [I] The human animal is the only animal that knows it is going to die. (Sartre) As a result we fear death but not necessarily consciously: If this fear [of death] were as constantly ...


10

Douglas Adams said: A guy said to me, 'yes, but the whole theory of evolution is based on a tautology: that which survives, survives' This is tautological, therefore it doesn't mean anything. I thought about that for a while and it finally occurred to me that a tautology is something that if it means nothing, not only that no information has gone ...


10

This is classic "Nature versus Nurture" debate, and if you study psychology you'll never hear enough of this. The ultimate answer is that it is not one way or another, but rather a dynamic mix of both. Tabula rasa vs. innate knowledge The problem is first and foremost of definitions: how do you define knowledge? Proponents of tabula rasa suggest that we ...


10

It's not entirely clear to me where you're having difficulty but I will attempt to go over the thought experiment and provide some clarity. Note that this experiment depends on monism (e.g. physicalism) unless the teletransporter can copy "non-substance" as well. So the assumption is that everything that makes you you is based on the physical location of ...


10

I believe it is impossible. I recommend you read (if you haven't already) Descartes' meditations where he famously concludes I think therefore I am - http://www.sacred-texts.com/phi/desc/med.txt: Archimedes, in order that he might draw the terrestrial globe out of its place, and transport it elsewhere, demanded only that one point should be fixed and ...


10

This is an interesting question, there are several ways of looking at it. Here are two: Alexis Meinong looked at it from the point of view of intentionality. Intentionality is the fact that any thought we have has to be about something. We don't just think, we think about people, objects, events, conversations etc. Because our thoughts always have to have ...


10

To expand upon Mauro's excellent response: "Nothing" isn't a name of a thing that doesn't exist. Words like "nothing" "something" "everything" "most things" and so on don't refer to objects the way that proper names like "Shane" do. Rather these words, called quantifiers, show how many objects are being referred to by other expressions. So "nothing exists" ...


10

Simplicity is a criterion for theory or explanation selection. It can clash with other criteria such as explanatory reach. Also there is no agreement on the nature of simplicity. Intuitively, I suppose, it denotes ontological parsimony or theoretical elegance - notions which themselves stand in need of clarification. The question asks 'how they know'. ...


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