Your Strangest-Sounding Philosophical Beliefs

Your Strangest-Sounding Philosophical Beliefs


If philosophy can sometimes sound weird to other philosophers, it can sound really weird to non-philosophers. Imagine (you can do it) you were in a conversation with some non-philosophers and they asked, “what’s your strangest philosophical belief?”

What would your answer be?

(image: detail of “They Have Slept In The Forest Too Long” by Max Ernst)

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John Protevi
John Protevi
6 years ago

The the world is an egg and God is a lobster.Report

Stephen Marotta
Stephen Marotta
6 years ago

I believe in the eternal recurrence of the same.

I believe that one’s response to the notion presents an important philosophical test for overcoming nihilism.

I also believe that it is cosmologically true.

That’s pretty strange I think.Report

Patrick
Patrick
Reply to  Stephen Marotta
6 years ago

I’m really interested in this idea but I can’t really get my head around it. I mean, if the multiverse exists it could be that the simplest explanation for why WE exist is that “everything exists.” I’m basically thinking of Parfit’s “Why Anything? Why This?” The most ontologically simple explanation for why THIS universe exists is that “every universe exists.” Which would support the notion that reality is indeed truly infinite, which might make N.’s idea of the eternal recurrence possible? I’m still missing something. I’m trying to see how this could be “cosmologically true.”

In terms of the actual philosophical test, I’m also not 100% clear on why affirming any single moment means affirming all the rest that happened – is this because N is taking reality to be wholly deterministic? I could see how, if the universe is deterministic, that it would follow that affirming any moment entails affirming all that led up to it, because if the universe is deterministic then there is only one possible present for each actual past. But this is a question that has yet to be decided, and it requires an ontological commitment that is unwarranted in my opinion.Report

george
george
Reply to  Patrick
4 years ago

I go farther than that. The substrate- the basement of existence- is number (Platonism, of course). Number simply IS. This universe is denumerable (Cantor’s term) thanks to the holographic bound conjecture: its entropy is 2^10^122, the number of possible universes at this particular Planck-time (all exist, as much as this one). As I said, denumerable- like the set of integers, aleph-null, the smallest infinity. The set of real numbers is infinitely larger than aleph-null (though R contains I), of order aleph-one. The alephs themselves run to infinity. Somewhere in this is there God (Spinoza’s God)? This is as compact a summation as I can make.Report

Heidi Howkins Lockwood
Heidi Howkins Lockwood
6 years ago

Backwards causation — and, specifically, information transfer via the past — is the best explanation for spooky action at a distance.Report

Carl Brownson
Carl Brownson
6 years ago

I believe in this entity called The Good.Report

Geoff Pynn
Geoff Pynn
6 years ago

That all truths are necessary.Report

Andrew Peterson
6 years ago

philosophical zombiesReport

jdkbrown
jdkbrown
6 years ago

Numbers don’t exist.

[Also: It’s awesome to see a shout-out for backwards causation!]Report

Tyler John
Tyler John
6 years ago

There is no spoon.

(only matter arranged spoon-wise)Report

Russ Ford
Russ Ford
6 years ago

Ideocentrism: human beings are survival machines for ideas.Report

Evan Westra
Evan Westra
6 years ago

Chimpanzees are mind-readers.Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

If it feels good, it is good.Report

Will Behun
Will Behun
6 years ago

I believe in the very real existence of things that I cannot see or feel or hear (well, I can’t hear anything, so that’s sort of a gimme) or taste or touch that are called “ideas”.Report

Brian Montgomery
Brian Montgomery
6 years ago

That universities should have fewer deans and more full time faculty. Weird, huh?Report

Brian Montgomery
Brian Montgomery
6 years ago

Yeah, that’s pretty messed up, Geoff.Report

Eric Winsberg
Eric Winsberg
6 years ago

There is a puzzle about the arrow of time.Report

Frank Suarez
Frank Suarez
6 years ago

Christianity, as expressed in the Nicene Creed, is true. That is strange sounding to most philosophers today.Report

Felix
6 years ago

1. The very thought that natural laws get an actual grip on reality (rather than approximating the dispositions of nature) is stupid, quasi-religious hang-over that future philosophers will rightly laugh at. It’s 2015 and we are still clawing god out of science.
2. Life (which is everywhere in the universe) is just one of many ways matter organizes itself to better dispel energy.
3. Arguments from statistics claiming that radio-signal-using intelligent life must arise elsewhere in the universe are bullshit anthropocentrism. They claim that we cannot be so special so as to only arise once. But this is precisely to assume that the human scale and frame is special enough to be repeatable. Nature repeats itself, but it’s not going to repeat anything like US! On the cosmic scale, we are nothing.
4. The whole distinction between plants and animals is overwrought.
5. The form of consciousness we have is essentially a social practice.
6. The ability to recognize ourselves and others as persons is also the means for grasping objects as such. All objects are in effect persons stripped of personality (mostly).Report

Patrick
Patrick
Reply to  Felix
6 years ago

1. I’m not so sure about this. I think there are two things here: the way nature actually works, and our description of how nature works. Our description gets closer and closer to the way nature actually works as our knowledge and tools improve. It seems very strange to me to think that our descriptions “just happen” to track reality as well as they do.
2. agree with this, but I’m not sure about life being everywhere in the universe due to the Rare Earth hypothesis. It’s possible that this is a freak accident.
3. agree- I’ve always thought that alien life would be so alien to us that communication might be impossible, even if it is intelligent. I’m also not sure that intelligence is even a good thing. It seems like it is, up to a point, but then it winds up doing more harm than good.
4. not sure about this, that does sound pretty strange – although, I might agree that there is little difference, morally, between a plant and an insect.
5. agree with this – I’ve long thought that “the ego” is a social construct and that in reality we have no “individual self.” There is an individual organism here which is constantly excreting conscious experience. There is nothing other than the organism which survives moment to moment. The self is a persistent illusion that we cling to because it gives order to our experience and it facilitates social interaction.
6. Yes!! this is a nice summary of many thoughts I’ve been having lately. There is no “person” just a crude ability/tendency to group certain properties together. In reality, there is only one thing – Parmenides, Einstein and Spinoza are right about this – a sea of fluctuating matter-energy that manifests different properties at different times, which, due to our evolved capacities, we label as individual “things.”Report

anon
6 years ago

Psychology and the brain sciences are sustained by question begging and the ol’ bait-and-switchReport

Heathcliff
Heathcliff
6 years ago

The weirdest and most non-intuitive belief I have is probably that “(metaphysical) freedom” in the/a positive sense denotes a kind of ignorance, and a sort of restriction in the/a negative sense.Report

Nobody Important
Nobody Important
6 years ago

That collective groups can have perceptions– though that one’s too weird for most philosophers, too.Report

Austin Duggan
Austin Duggan
6 years ago

Free will nihilism.Report

GradStudent
GradStudent
6 years ago

Freedom isn’t being able to do whatever you want.Report

Ted Shear
Ted Shear
6 years ago

Negative acts are acts…

Put more absurdly: not doing things is doing things.Report

anon
anon
6 years ago

There exist mathematical structures of which you only speak truly by contradicting yourself. Far too weird for most philosophers, let alone most mathematicians.Report

Komal
Komal
6 years ago

There is only one substance (and it’s not matter or mind).Report

Joe
Joe
6 years ago

I don’t believe in beliefs.Report

J C McG
J C McG
6 years ago

The good man cannot be harmed.Report

David Hunter
David Hunter
6 years ago

Strangest philosophical exchange of beliefs:
Kantian 1: It is hard to point to space.
Kantian 2: It is hard not to point to space.Report

Bryan Frances
6 years ago

plenty of philosophers subscribe to at least one of these odd beliefs:

• There are no composite material objects (objects with parts); all there are are lots of particles arranged into relatively stable patterns (e.g., there are no dogs; there just are particles arranged “dog-wise”).
• Although there are composites, there are no artifacts that are composites: no human-made objects that have parts.
• No ordinary physical objects are colored; color is just in our experiences.
• No one has any beliefs; although we have many cognitive operations and states of various kinds, the notion of belief is a relatively primitive one that will be replaced upon future research.
• There is no substantive knowledge of the external world.
• There are no mathematical truths; mathematical theorems are practically useful but false.
• Pain is located only in the head, not in the rest of the body.
• There are no substantive moral truths, only moral opinions and feelings.
• The entire universe is just one particle plus a physical “pilot wave”; everything else is illusion (this is an ontological version of Bohmian quantum mechanics).
• No claims made with vague words are true even though many are useful in virtually all contexts.
• There are no truths; truth is an inconsistent concept, as shown by the semantic paradoxes.Report

Merilyn Jackson
6 years ago

Well, I ponder which came first, the egg or the lobster.Report

YoungGradStud
YoungGradStud
6 years ago

Plants ought to have legal rights.Report

Merilyn Jackson
6 years ago

To some, it feels good to murder, or torture. Do you stick with that belief?Report

NotDescartes
NotDescartes
6 years ago

I honestly have no idea whether or not I’m dreaming, or if I’m a brain in a vat, or what.Report

Not John Leslie
Not John Leslie
6 years ago

1) All that exists is minds and the thoughts in minds.
2) We are actually thoughts within a supremely powerful and rational mind (God).
3) The existence of God and our existence is explained by their being good.
4) Modal realism is true.
5) Everettian relative state theory (about QM) is true.Report

Anon grad student
Anon grad student
6 years ago

privation theory (i think)Report

Strange? Me?
Strange? Me?
6 years ago

That basically no now living person has benefitted from historically distant activities such as the industrial revolution due to Parfit’s non-identity problem.Report

Matthew
Matthew
6 years ago

1) That there is no such thing as ‘communication’ and that noone can ‘change their mind’ on the basis of dialogue (we are only going to have the ideas we are necessarily going to have by virtue of our intellectual disposition).
2) That you have to force the philosopher to teach (although it seems to be to the contrary!)Report

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

Hegel’s theoretical philosophy is, by and large, correct.Report

BLS Nelson
6 years ago

Theories of truth should not be able to explain the rational faultlessness of affirming hysteretical (“flip-floppy”) mental representations in terms of changing opinions about the truth of propositions.

That sounds totally strange and pompous, but the motivation is noble. It really just feeds off of the introspectively obvious fact that we don’t have a series of miniature mental breakdowns when we see the duck rabbit illusion and say “It is a duck” one minute and “it’s not a duck” the next.Report

Another Anon Junior Person
Another Anon Junior Person
6 years ago

There are objective, mind-indepedent facts about what is morally right, but I can’t tell you with confidence what any of them are.Report

Zain
Zain
6 years ago

The world is God’s love affair with herself.Report

Michael Cholbi
Michael Cholbi
6 years ago

We have moral duties to self. In fact, we probably wouldn’t have duties to others if we didn’t antecedently have duties to self.Report

Sad Eyed Philosopher of the Lowlands
Sad Eyed Philosopher of the Lowlands
6 years ago

We are how being thinks itself.Report

Matt Burstein
6 years ago

My telephone call to New York does, in fact, strengthen my conviction that the external world exists.Report

NotHegel
NotHegel
6 years ago

The Hegelian Dialectic is the best thing that ever happened to me.Report

Barry Lam
Barry Lam
6 years ago

Yesterday, someone lost a penny, and on the basis of that alone, went from being rich to being not rich.Report

Tim O'Keefe
6 years ago

If “I” has been adopted by a different family than the one who (as a matter of fact) adopted me, I would not exist.Report

Tim O'Keefe
6 years ago

And closely related: If I had not been put up for adoption by my biological mother, I would not exist.Report

ejrd
ejrd
6 years ago

Most non-human animals can’t feel pain, but do have aversive experiences.Report

David Boonin
David Boonin
6 years ago

The conjunction of theses I defended in two different books: (1) It’s morally impermissible for the state to punish people for breaking the law and (2) abortion is morally permissible even if the fetus is a person with the same right to life that you and I have.Report

Christopher Stephens
Christopher Stephens
6 years ago

Observing more and more black ravens can disconfirm the claim that all ravens are black.Report

Alan White
6 years ago

Symbolizing “Girls just want to have fun” requires triple quantification and an identity relation to capture the precise logical sense of “just”.Report

Dale Miller
6 years ago

The pleasure that Osama Bin Laden experienced on 9/11 had as much value as any other pleasurable experience of the same intensity, duration, and quality.Report

Tyler Hamrick
Tyler Hamrick
6 years ago

I’m just pre-undergrad so take what I say with caution, but I’m inclined to believe that having children is morally wrong.Report

Salty Dog
Salty Dog
6 years ago

I believe in cultural evolution.Report

DanF
DanF
6 years ago

Oh … hell … yes!!! Glad to hear another MF say this!!!Report

M
M
6 years ago

What doesn’t happen is logically impossible and whatever is logically possible is actual.Report

Michael Patton
Michael Patton
6 years ago

That I do not exist, and neither does anything big enough to see.Report

MA-Student
MA-Student
6 years ago

1) With respect to objects referred to in science and mathematics, I am an empiricist/nominalist/anti-realist, but I still think metaphysics is a useful philosophical practice that gets us real knowledge about the world (perhaps better knowledge than science).

2) I believe that God exists even though I think there’s no good reason to believe that God exists. I think one can know God substantively even though it’s not possible to utter a substantive sentence about God.

3) I’m not sure that language ever describes the world correctly (to include logic, math, science, etc.), yet I study logic, math, and science and even write papers about which logics model language better than others and which ways of thinking about scientific models and the like make the most sense.Report

Patrick Stokes
6 years ago

1. Moral realism.
2. The dead continue to exist as persons, and thereby as moral patients, just insofar as we remember them, and so we have (admittedly rather defeasible) duties not to delete their Facebook pages.
3. Some propositions that are more than metaphors but less than literally true. “I’m no longer that person” is one such.
4. “Ought implies can” is false.Report

Jeff Heikkinen
Jeff Heikkinen
6 years ago

Not only is classical logic almost entirely bunk, but practically everyone already knows this (for some significant sense of “know”).Report

jc
jc
6 years ago

not everything is a thingReport

A J Cotnoir
6 years ago

There is no such thing as Logic as traditionally conceived.
Also, two things can be parts of one another.Report

Kiwi Undergrad
Kiwi Undergrad
6 years ago

That there is no inportant difference between great apes and humans for the purposes of clinical testing.Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

Freedom and determinism are compatible.Report

Someone
Someone
6 years ago

Whether abortion is morally permissible or not is determined by whether the pregnant woman wants to have an abortion. If she does, then it’s as morally irrelevant as any other surgical procedure. If she doesn’t, then it is a grave moral wrong–and you and me, likely, hold some of the blame for it.Report

convinced by priest
convinced by priest
6 years ago

Some contradictions are trueReport

Aaron Garrett
Aaron Garrett
6 years ago

Panpsychism and corporate minds/mentality/perceptions — Spinozistic stuff.Report

Izzy Black
Izzy Black
6 years ago

Free will does not require the ability to do otherwise, and we are morally responsible for (some) things beyond our control.Report

Owen Schaefer
Owen Schaefer
6 years ago

Imprisonment is as wrong as torture, and as such should be abolished.Report

Matt
6 years ago

We do not have privileged access to our own minds, and how we know ourselves is essentially the same as how we know others. (The only way in which we do have any sort of “privileged access” is much more like how I have privileged access to my closet or pants pocket than what is normally thought.) Failure to see this is one of the biggest sources of self-deception among people.Report

Creature of Darkness
Creature of Darkness
6 years ago

No truths are necessary.Report

ejrd
ejrd
6 years ago

One token of an emotion type can be cognitive and another token of the same type can be non-cognitive.Report

CM
CM
6 years ago

Tarskian semantics was a bad start down a road that continues to be badReport

Richard Galvin
Richard Galvin
6 years ago

In principle (for sure) and even in a variety of actual circumstances, there is nothing morally wrong with cannibalism.Report

MA-Student
MA-Student
6 years ago

Also, I think dualist interactionism is mostly right.Report

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

1. Analytic philosophy is worthless in its attempt to mirror science; there is no such thing as progress in philosophy, just new concerns
2. Graduate programs are exploiting the labor of grad students; there is no purpose to them since mentoring would involve more than just supervising a dissertation. It would involve the responsibility of making sure some level of prosperity was possible.
3. Continental philosophy has its purists, and they exclude just as much as analytics. Evidence of this can be gleaned from a Heidegger research group on Facebook that laments that Epoche and Heidegger Studies are not rigorous enough; on the contrary, there are some fine articles in those journals.
4. God’s existence is revealed through our realization of love; panentheism is true.
5. There are nonnatural kinds.
6. Philosophy that does not mesh with experience is worthless; analytic philosophy that maintains a distinction between the folk and philosophers is equally worthless.
7. Gatekeepers of the profession have benefited from the prestige bias of the Leiter Report, and the power of that structure is replicated in many social interactions in philosophy to the point that people will immediately take issue with this proposition. They will hide behind doing the best philosophy when really it is a manifestation of the power this structure imposes on the whole of the profession. The desire to keep the report is implicitly connected to the prestige, benefit, and perpetuation of its effect. Overcoming the Divide should be connected to destabilizing the configuration of this structure.
8. Philosophy of culture is a real thing.
9. Ethics can only be regulative, not prescriptive.
10. Ethics can discern moral truths only about the forms of life and the conditions/capacities of persons to realize moral truth; these moral truths, however, are objective for the participants in the lifeworld.
11. All religions are an arrangement of aesthetic beliefs; they give us an aesthetic of suffering to address the same existential questions of suffering in the human condition. In this way, theologians are just art historians, bad philosophers, and therefore any speculation about God must come from philosophy. There can really be no verification of any speculative metaphysics, so any speculation can only be true pragmatically. A speculation becomes pragmatically internalized and is re-presented as a new interpretive possibility for religion. Think Thomism for Catholics, Calvinism for Protestants.
12. Given 11, most philosophy of religion defies the Jamesian constraint of metaphysics. Most philosophers of religion are working on pseudo problems.
13. William James’s critique of metaphysics is true; the only metaphysics possible is a metaphysics of experience; radical empiricism and neutral monism are true.
14. Phenomenology is a form of nonnaturalism; it is committed to a form of intuitionism and nonreductive realism, not idealism. We can also be realists about the structures it describes, a form of realism I like to call participatory realism.
15. Ethics cannot get off the ground without a philosophical anthropology, which includes a philosophy of community. This is why analytics look to construct one by trying to do moral psychology, analyzing agency, and trying to provide a picture about how agency works..what is practical reason etc. Continentals also proffer ethics without a philosophical anthropology, especially Levinasian otherists. These otherists use the religious appeal of Levinas to do the same thing. Also, the Nietzschean critique of ethics is false.Report

Recent PhD
Recent PhD
6 years ago

Statues are properties (rather than objects).Report

G
G
6 years ago

There “are”nonexistent objects
Minds are the only particular things that exist.Report

Charlie Lassiter
Charlie Lassiter
6 years ago

Complex cognition (e.g. math, language) doesn’t happen in the head.Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

To show other philosophers “respect” by constructively criticizing without being an asshole is pretty weird.Report

Matthew
Matthew
6 years ago

Life happens according to the principle of increase; this metaphysical principle is true and inviolable.Report

YoungGradStud
YoungGradStud
6 years ago

I think you mean “property”Report

Matthew
Matthew
6 years ago

Why?Report

Travis Timmerman
Travis Timmerman
6 years ago

(1) Your self-regarding attitudes toward your death should not track how good or bad it is for you. So, your death might be good for you, but you should lament it for self-regarding reasons anyway.

(2) Sometimes it is morally permissible to indulge in a trivial good (e.g. going to the theatre) at the cost of letting a child drown. Or, sometimes there is nothing wrong with letting a child drown.

http://analysis.oxfordjournals.org/content/75/2/204.short?rss=1&ssource=mfrReport

Jim
Jim
6 years ago

If Nozick’s Entitlement theory is true, then Americans have a legitimate claim to the British crown jewels, but more importantly, Native Americans and African Americans have legitimate claims to most, if not all of America’s wealth.Report

Richie C
Richie C
6 years ago

That there is not a significant moral difference between inflicting pain or suffering on a human and inflicting pain or suffering on a sentient non-human. And sometimes if you have to decide between harming a non-sentient, non-human, living thing and harming a human living thing, you ought morally to choose the latter.Report

Clement Loo
Clement Loo
6 years ago

I share all your listed beliefs. Also, belief #6 leads me to another weird belief that we have a moral obligation not to interfere with other objects (at least in terms of damaging or destroying them) unless we have a pressing and overriding need to. When I express #6 people always look at me like I’m a little crazy.Report

Clement Loo
Clement Loo
6 years ago

P.S. I should note that my above message was directed at Felix who offered comment #17.Report

newfie931
newfie931
6 years ago

“Sex is the language of the soul.” Not sure who came up with it, but I like it.Report

Alan Richardson
6 years ago

The Lion King does not depict lions. Why? The beings depicted in the movie talk and we understand them. But if a lion could talk, we would not be able to understand it. (This is just one way that philosophy can help you make your children/grandchildren/colleagues cry.)Report

Shane Epting
6 years ago

Not my beliefs, but I’ve heard two environmental philosophers say, “Because trees are people, and people are trees.” And, “Buildings are morally wrong.” The first was a keynote speaker and the second was an undergrad.Report

Patrick
Patrick
6 years ago

I think that average happiness utilitarianism is true and can be defended from most/all of the criticisms that have been directed toward it.

I think that if a utility monster actually did exist, we actually would be morally obligated to feed ourselves to it/ it actually would be morally obligated to eat us. I think it can be shown that our intuition is wrong in this case. I think we can show that people are utility monsters. I think we can show that small children, the elderly, cute little fluffy animals etc. are all utility monsters.

I think that once people really accept the substrate-independence theory of mind, that they would no longer be averse to plugging into an experience machine, given the right conditions.

I think more than likely, we are already living in a computer simulation. I don’t think the fact that there might be moral reasons against creating an ancestor simulation are sufficient to prevent such a simulation from being created anyway in the vast span of time.Report