Great Opening Lines of Philosophy Articles and Books


What are the best opening lines of philosophy articles and books?

We’ve compiled lists of philosophy’s most beautiful passages  and philosophical works with good, witty, or clever titles before, but, if memory serves me right, we have yet to solicit suggestions for great opening lines of philosophy articles and books. So let’s hear some.

Ruminations on what makes for a good first sentence are welcome, too, but what we’re primary looking for are examples of them. Have you ever experienced, in the words of Allegra Hyde, “love at first sentence”? Or if not love, infatuation? What are philosophy’s most beautiful, captivating, clever, fun, shocking, or otherwise noteworthy opening sentences?

 

 

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Rollo Burgess
2 months ago

‘The world is my idea’

It takes chutzpah to open a book like that! In terms of capturing a reader’s attention, I think with Danton that it is about ‘l’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace’.Report

Benj
Reply to  Rollo Burgess
2 months ago

To which we might add:

‘The world is everything that is the case’

’The world we live in is a very inclusive thing’Report

Rubén Sampieri
Reply to  Rollo Burgess
2 months ago

Or maybe someone else’s. 😀Report

George
George
Reply to  Rollo Burgess
2 months ago

😀Report

Gary
2 months ago

“Like my cat, I often simply do what I want to do”Report

Vaughn
Vaughn
Reply to  Gary
2 months ago

Especially considering that, apparently, the cat actually belonged to Parfit’s sister, but they signed some sort of contract transferring ownership so that he could technically call it “his cat”. https://www.philosophyetc.net/2020/01/parfits-cat.html?m=1Report

Ian Olasov
2 months ago

“A curious thing about the ontological problem is its simplicity. It can be put in three Anglo-Saxon monosyllables: ‘What is there?’ It can be answered, moreover, in a word—‘Everything’—and everyone will accept this answer as true. However, this is merely to say that there is what there is. There remains room for disagreement over cases; and so the issue has stayed alive down the centuries.”Report

George
George
Reply to  Ian Olasov
2 months ago

😀Report

Bill Carroll
2 months ago

We shall not shock anyone, we shall merely expose ourselves to good-natured or at any rate harmless ridicule, if we profess ourselves inclined to the old-fashioned and simple opinion according to which Machiavelli was a teacher of evil.Report

Jonathan Barker
2 months ago

Opening lines of Susan Wolf’s “Moral Saints” (1982):

“I don’t know whether there are any moral saints. But if there are, I am glad that neither I nor those about whom I care most are among them.”Report

Rubén Sampieri
Reply to  Jonathan Barker
2 months ago

Beautiful.Report

Thomas
2 months ago

Not philosophy, but would be hard to top David L Goodstein’s intro to States of Matter (1975): “Ludwig Boltzmann, who spent much of his life studying statistical mechanics, died in 1906, by his own hand. Paul Ehrenfest, carrying on the work, died similarly in 1933. Now it is our turn to study statistical mechanics.” Report

Robert A Purdie
Robert A Purdie
Reply to  Thomas
1 month ago

That. Is. AWESOME! 😊Report

mike barnes
2 months ago

“If much recent academic work defending equality had been secretly penned by conservatives, could the results be any more embarrassing for egalitarians?”Report

catherine hills
2 months ago

“Hark, who goes there” – HamletReport

Nicholas Denyer
2 months ago

Es ist überall nichts in der Welt, ja überhaupt auch außer derselben zu denken möglich, was ohne Einschränkung für gut könnte gehalten werden, als allein ein guter Wille.Report

Kantian
Kantian
Reply to  Nicholas Denyer
2 months ago

Die menschliche Vernunft hat das besondere Schicksal in einer Gattung ihrer Erkenntnisse: daß sie durch Fragen belästigt wird, die sie nicht abweisen kann; denn sie sind ihr durch die Natur der Vernunft selbst aufgegeben, die sie aber auch nicht beantworten kann, denn sie übersteigen alles Vermögen der menschlichen Vernunft.Report

Last edited 2 months ago by Kantian
Perry Hendricks
2 months ago

“I believe that blue whale tongues can weigh as much as an elephant.”

From Andrew Moon’s “Global Debunking Arguments.”Report

jing huang
2 months ago

The Zhuangzi: “In the northern sea there is a fish and his name is ‘tiny fish egg’; the ‘tiny fish egg’ is so huge we don’t know how many thousand li he measures.”Report

Nicholas Denyer
2 months ago

L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.Report

Jim Gallagher
2 months ago

I have, as it happens, a strikingly intelligent cat.

– first line of Psychosemantics The Problem of Meaning in the Philosophy of Mind by Fodor J.A.Report

Jordan Walters
2 months ago

We know a lot. — David LewisReport

APC
APC
Reply to  Jordan Walters
2 months ago

I know what food penguins eat. I know that phones used to ring, but nowadays squeal, when someone calls up. I know that Essendon won the 1993 Grand Final. I know that here is a hand, and here is another.Report

P.D.
2 months ago

Although it’s either hubris or a non sequitur given the prompt, here’s my favourite first line from the papers I’ve written or co-written: “The short answer to our title question is yes, but of course there are complications along the way.”Report

Neo-Confucian
2 months ago

The Master: “Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application? 

“Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters?

“Is he not a man of complete virtue, who feels no discomposure though men may take no note of him?”Report

Abe
Abe
2 months ago

“Not merely in the realm of commerce but in the world of ideas as well our age is organizing a regular clearance sale.” – Fear and TremblingReport

Zain
2 months ago

This essay is about three things: Wittgenstein’s ideas concerning the question
of the possibility of illogical thought, the sources of those ideas (especially
in Kant and Frege), and Putnam’s recent interest in both of these matters.
Along the way, this paper briefly sketches the broad outlines of two
almost parallel traditions of thought about the laws of logic: one rather long
and complicated tradition called the History of Modem Philosophy, and
one rather short and complicated one called Hilary Putnam.”

James Conant “The Search for logically alien thought”Report

Michael Hauskeller
2 months ago

“The world is my idea:”—this is a truth which holds good
for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring
it into reflective and abstract consciousness. If he really does
this, he has attained to philosophical wisdom. It then becomes
clear and certain to him that what he knows is not a sun and an
earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth;
that the world which surrounds him is there only as idea, i.e.,
only in relation to something else, the consciousness, which is himself.

Schopenhauer, The World as Will and RepresentationReport

N W
N W
2 months ago

You are more than entitled not to know what the word ‘performative’ means. It is a new and ugly word, and perhaps it does not mean anything very much.
–Austin,“Performative Utterances.”

Francis Bacon, a man who rose to eminence by betraying his friends, asserted, no doubt as one of the ripe lessons of experience, that “knowledge is power.”
–Russell, “’Useless’ Knowledge,” in In Praise of Idleness.

The question whether there are numbers, or qualities, or classes, is a metaphysical question, such as the logical positivists have regarded as meaningless. On the other hand the question whether there are rabbits, or unicorns, is as meaningful as can be.
–Quine, “Existence and Quantification,” Ontological Relativity and Other Essays.

If the state did not exist would it be necessary to invent it?
–Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

Epistemology, once the pride of modern philosophy, seems in a bad way these days. 
–Charles Taylor, “Overcoming Epistemology,” Philosophical Arguments.

And just for fun,

Soon after I arrived at Crossgates (not immediately, but after a week or two, just when I seemed to be settling into the routine of school life) I began wetting my bed.
–George Orwell, “’Such, Such Were the Joys…’” A Collection of Essays.Report

Platypus
2 months ago

Who can forget the story of how epistemologists used to do business? Having offered to help you clarify how you know that p, they would gasp at your reasoning and declare that you don’t know it — or rather wouldn’t, if not for a reconstruction of your procedures invented by themselves. Then they would be gone, leaving you struggling to reconceive your relations to p along recommended lines.

http://www.mit.edu/~yablo/sop.pdfReport

Michael Kremer
2 months ago

The aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.

Wilfrid Sellars, Philosophy and the Scientific Image of ManReport

Dave Millar
2 months ago

“Strange goings on! Jones did it slowly, deliberately, in the bathroom, with a knife, at midnight. What he did was butter a piece of toast.”Report

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave Millar
Finn Knöller
Finn Knöller
2 months ago

When I was still in school Albert Camus definitely caught my interest with the opening sentence of his essay ‘The myth of Sisyphus’:

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.”

Wheter or not you agree with this sentence or even with the suggestion that this book has anything to do with philosophy, it definitely sticked with me and impressed me for a long time.Report

Patrick Lin
Reply to  Finn Knöller
2 months ago

Also: “Mother died today.” — Albert Camus, The StrangerReport

Charles Foster
2 months ago

“Good sense is the best distributed thing in the world, for everyone thinks himself to be so well endowed with it that even those who are most difficult to please in everything else never want more good sense than they already have.”
Descartes, Discourse on MethodReport

Griffin Klemick
Reply to  Charles Foster
2 months ago

In a similar vein:

“Few persons care to study logic, because everybody conceives himself to be proficient enough in the art of reasoning already. But I observe that this satisfaction is limited to one’s own ratiocination, and does not extend to that of other men.”

– Peirce, “The Fixation of Belief”Report

Daniel Munro
2 months ago

“Scepticism is a disease in which healthy mental processes run pathologically unchecked.” – Timothy Williamson, “Knowledge and Scepticism”

“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.” – Harry Frankfurt, On BullshitReport

HRL
HRL
2 months ago

“Suppose Aggressor has got hold of a tank.” (Judith Jarvis Thomson)Report

Nick Treanor
2 months ago

One must start out with error and convert it into truth.

Wittgenstein, Remarks on Fraser’s Golden BoughReport

Kaburi Kim
2 months ago

Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts, suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.Report

Cole
2 months ago

JL Mackie, “the subjectivity of values,” begins, “There are no objective values.”

That’s the whole first sentence. No caveats, or amendments. I love it.Report

Primus, leader of the forces of Purity
Reply to  Cole
2 months ago

Pithy but objectively incorrect!Report

Lecturer in philosophy
2 months ago

‘The Dao that can be spoken of (or walked, Dao) is not the constant Dao’ —LaoziReport

Dominic McIver Lopes
2 months ago

Imagine that you have the chance to become a vampire. With one swift, painless bite, you’ll be permanently transformed into an elegant and fabulous creature of the night. — Laurie PaulReport

ZVT
ZVT
2 months ago

If I hear the patter of little feet around the house, I expect Bruce. What I expect is a cat, a particular cat. If I heard such
a patter in another house, I might expect a cat but no particular cat. What I expect then seems to be a Meinongian incomplete cat. (David Lewis)Report

Paul Taborsky
2 months ago

“He who presents the world with an elaborate edition of a book dating from the last age of Graeco-Roman decadence labours prima facie under the suspicion of contributing to that most extensive of all sciences, the Wissenschaft des Nichtwissenwerthen.”

-E.R. Dodds, first sentence of the introduction to his translation of Prolcus’ Elements of Theology.Report

Elliott
Elliott
Reply to  Paul Taborsky
2 months ago

Timaeus’ reply to Dodds:
Does he present that which always is but has no becoming, or does he present that which becomes but never is?Report

Alan Hájek
2 months ago

“At the close of the preceding lecture, I said that today I should examine how matters stand with respect to the problem of induction. In a word, I think they stand ill.” – Goodman, “The New Riddle of Induction”Report

Chris Letheby
2 months ago

“Logic is an old subject, and since 1879 it has been a great one.” -Quine, Methods of Logic.Report

Edwardo Ernesto Jones
2 months ago

Categories decay. The human sciences used to presuppose the possibility of intellectual progress, but for decades now a host of scholars have called
into question the universality of the disciplinary objects and their utility as
analytical categories. Conceptual analysis—once the bedrock of the philosophical enterprise—has failed. In many sectors of the academy, it now
seems naive to presume the coherence of categories such as “art,” “literature,” or “religion,” much less the possibility of progress or knowledge.
The crowning insight of many disciplines in the human sciences—often reserved for senior majors and graduate students—is that their core conceptual categories are intellectually or ethically compromised. In most
colleges and universities, students move unawares from the department
of non-religion to the department of non-literature to the department of
anthropology (in which they had better not attempt to evaluate culture).” Storm, Metamodernism: The Future of TheoryReport

ShmanalyticShmontinentalShmivide
2 months ago

Surprised no one nabbed these two!

“Equality* gives rise to challenging questions which are not altogether easy to answer.”

“Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing.”Report

Sean McAleer
2 months ago

“I once followed a trail of sugar on a supermarket floor, pushing my cart down the aisle on one side of a tall counter and back the aisle on the other, seeking the shopper with the torn sack to tell him he was making a mess. With each trip around the counter, the trail became thicker. But I seemed unable to catch up. Finally it dawned on me. I was the shopper I was trying to catch.”
—John Perry’ “The Problem of the Essential Indexical.”Report

Alastair Norcross
Reply to  Sean McAleer
2 months ago

Perry stole that from Winnie the Pooh.Report

Rubén Sampieri
2 months ago

“All men by nature desire to know.” Aristotle, Book Alpha, Metaphysics.Report

Last edited 2 months ago by Rubén Sampieri
Sophia connell
Sophia connell
Reply to  Rubén Sampieri
2 months ago

Actually: ‘all human beings desire to know’Report

Rubén Sampieri
Reply to  Sophia connell
2 months ago

That´s too much better indeed. Thanks. Not a native speaker here.Report

Kane Baker
2 months ago

My favourite is definitely Mackie: “There are no objective values.”

Another cool one is from Sturgeon’s article What Difference Does it Make Whether Moral Realism is True?:
“I have it on good authority that any critical response to a philosophical position can be classified either as an “Oh yeah?” or a “So what?””

I also enjoy Lewis’s tendency to state the obvious. Counterfactual Dependence and Time’s Arrow:
“Today I am typing words on a page.”

Veridical Hallucination and Prosthetic Vision:
“I see.”Report

Last edited 2 months ago by Kane Baker
Rubén Sampieri
Reply to  Kane Baker
2 months ago

SQ: Is this paradox well constructed?: Does “There are no objective values” have objective value? If it does, it is false; if it doesn’t is true ergo it has objective value ergo is false.Report

George H. Rudebusch
2 months ago

Εἷς, δύο, τρεῖς· ὁ δὲ δὴ τέταρτος ἡμῖν, ὦ φίλε Τίμαιε, ποῦ…;
One, two, three, but where is our fourth, dear Timaeus?
Thus, Plato begins his dialogue on the creation and composition of the cosmos.Report

Jeremy figueira
2 months ago

It is at work everywhere, functioning smoothly at times,
at other times in fits and starts. It breathes, it heats, it eats. It shits and
fucks. What a mistake to have ever said the id.Report

Anti-Climacus
2 months ago

A human being is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation that relates itself to itself or is the relation’s relating itself to itself in the relation; the self is not the relation but is the relation’s relating to itself.Report

PhilMath
2 months ago

“The fact that a science like geometry can exist, and can be built up in the way it is, has necessarily demanded the closest attention of anyone who ever felt an interest in the fundamental questions of epistemology. There is no other branch of human knowledge which resembles it in having seemingly sprung forth ready-made, like a fully armed Minerva from the head of Jupiter, none before whose devastating aegis dispute and doubt so little dared to lift their eyes”
Helmholtz, Origin and Significance of Axioms of Geometry.Report

John M Collins
2 months ago

By a `denoting phrase’ I mean a phrase such as any one of the following: a man, some man, any man, every man, all men, the present King of England, the present King of France, the center of mass of the solar system at the first instant of the twentieth century, the revolution of the earth round the sun, the revolution of the sun round the earth.Report

Alastair Norcross
2 months ago

“On Twin Earth, a brain in a vat is at the wheel of a runaway trolley”. (Michael Patton, “Can Bad Men Make Good Brains do Bad Things?”. By far the best thing on the trolley problem ever written.)Report

Miles Rind
2 months ago

“What Madison Avenue did for the Volkswagen, Walter Kaufmann had done in his *Nietzsche* (1950). He had rendered acceptable to a reluctant public a philosophical oddity which had the motor in the back when everything else had it in front. With his *Hegel*, Kaufmann is tring to do something similar for a tank, and his book succeeds in making some lethal parts of the tank look like comfortable chairs or as if they were not there at all. Gossipy and talkative, a little disorganized, in love with itself, forgetful and repetitious, prejudiced and not exactly guileless, the book has all the charm of all these little vices.”
Walter Cerf in *Philosophy and Phenomenological Research* (1965?)Report

Louis
2 months ago

“I have based my affair on nothing”
Max stirner, the unique and its propertyReport

David Macauley
2 months ago

Nietzsche has some great opening lines. For example, Beyond Good and Evil:

Preface:

“SUPPOSING that Truth is a woman–what then? Is there not ground for suspecting that all philosophers, in so far as they have been dogmatists, have failed to understand women–that the terrible seriousness and clumsy importunity with which they have usually paid their addresses to Truth, have been unskilled and unseemly methods for winning a woman? Certainly she has never allowed herself to be won; and at present every kind of dogma stands with sad and discouraged mien–IF, indeed, it stands at all! For there are scoffers who maintain that it has fallen, that all dogma lies on the ground–nay more, that it is at its last gasp.”

Or Part One:

“The Will to Truth, which is to tempt us to many a hazardous enterprise, the famous Truthfulness of which all philosophers have hitherto spoken with respect, what questions has this Will to Truth not laid before us! What strange, perplexing, questionable questions! It is already a long story; yet it seems as if it were hardly commenced. Is it any wonder if we at last grow distrustful, lose patience, and turn impatiently away? That this Sphinx teaches us at last to ask questions ourselves? WHO is it really that puts questions to us here?”

There are, of course, other and better translations.Report

David Macauley
2 months ago

The Genealogy of Morals:

“We are unknown to ourselves, we men of knowledge-and with good reason. We have never sought ourselves-how could it happen that we should ever find ourselves?”Report

David Macauley
2 months ago

I once cobbled together a very short story from the opening lines of well-known novels. It suspect it might be much harder to do with philosophical books.

https://davidmacauley2003.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/opening-lines-a-short-story-cobbled-together-from-the-first-words-of-famous-novels/Report

Mr Raoul Selsick
2 months ago

The World as Will and Representation
by Schopenhaur
=====================================
Even before his first sentence he summarizes the whole book of more than 1000 pages.

The world of representation is full of boredom, death, hate, pain and suffering. All pleasures are empty, labour is vain drudgery and the world is full of violence.
Today is bad and everyday gets much worse until the worst of all arrives.

But…

In the world of Will everything is One, Good, Sublime and Beautiful. Everywhere there is harmony and divine music .Report

John Tilley
2 months ago

“If you do know that here is one hand, we’ll grant you all the rest.”Report

Abdul Ansari
2 months ago

“If much recent academic work defending equality had been secretly penned by conservatives, could the results be any more embarrassing for egalitarians?”

E.S. Anderson, ‘What Is The Point of Equality’

“The fact/value distinction, in league with equally grand and obscure distinctions as those between objectivity and subjectivity and between reason and emotion, has been vastly influential. Yet it appears on inspection to rest on surprisingly insecure foundations. Thus I believe we should feel a certain unease about the weight it is asked to bear when we use it to support claims of the utmost importance about the nature of knowledge and limits of inquiry. Perhaps it is time to consider what might happen were we to stop viewing these two realms as categorically distinct.”

Peter Railton, ‘Facts and Values’

“Finite and infinite goods–many finite and one infinite. This book proposes a framework for ethics that is organized around a transcendent Good and its relation to the many finite goods of our experience.”

Robert Adams, ‘Finite and Infinite Goods’

“We are the animals that can both understand and respond to reasons. These abilities have given us great knowledge, and power to control the future of life on Earth. Though there may be life elsewhere, there may be no other animals like us. We may be the only rational beings in the Universe.”

Derek Parfit, ‘On What Matters Volume I’

“Each of us finds himself not just already in the world, but already in a particular world: a particular moment in history, a particular culture, a particular family, a particular language, a particular body. What is more, our representations of the world—our beliefs, values and concepts—are radically shaped by these contingent facts about where we find ourselves in the space of possibility. What are we to make of this?”

Amia Srinivasan, ‘Genealogy, Epistemology, and Worldmaking’

Not Philosophy, but an interdisciplinary–philosophically informed–study of depression.

“Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and depression is the mechanism of that despair. When it comes, it degrades one’s self and ultimately eclipses our capacity to give or receive affection.”

Andrew Solomon, ‘The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression’Report

Pericles Lewis
2 months ago

I went down to the Piraeus yesterday with Glaucon, the son of Ariston.Report

Anna Christina Ribeiro
Reply to  Pericles Lewis
2 months ago

The innocence of that line… And then a shark comes along and swallows you whole. Brilliant.Report

Mike R.
2 months ago

I’m not asking whether you know you are not a zombie. Of course you do. I’m asking how you know it. The answer to that question is not so obvious. Indeed, it is hard to see how you can know it. Wittgenstein (1921/1961: 57) didn’t think he saw anything that allowed him to infer he saw it. The problem is more serious. There is nothing you are aware of, external or internal, that tells you that, unlike a zombie, you are aware of it. Or, indeed, aware of anything at all.

Fred Dretske’s “How do you know you are not a zombie?”Report

Timothy Sommers
2 months ago

“There was no such thing as the Scientific Revolution, and this is a book about it.” – Steven Shapin, The Scientific Revolution.Report

vcp
vcp
2 months ago

The best opening line(s) in Indian philosophy —

“Not from itself,
 nor from another,
 nor from both,
 nor without a cause
 does anything, anywhere arise”

 — Nāgārjuna, The Fundamentals of the Middle Way (Mulamādhyamakakārikā)

Runner ups:

“Now, philosophers generally presuppose a principle like the following–‘there are certain objects, namely the instruments of knowledge, whose existence is universally endorsed in all philosophical systems. Their existence, therefore, must be acknowledged by both parties in debate.’

Others disagree.”

 — Srīharṣa, Sweet Rebuttals (Khaṇḍaṇakhaṇḍakhādyam)

“If it were true that ‘nothing has intrinsic existence’ then that very statement, lacking intrinsic existence, could not disprove intrinsic existence. Or, if your statement does have intrinsic existence then it is already proven false.”
 — Nāgārjuna, Resolving Disagreements (Vigrahavyāvartanī)

“Somehow, having attained the status of God’s servant, and out of a desire to do the people a good turn, I develop the theory of recognition of that which is the cause of all goodness. For, as God is defined as ‘that which is knower and doer’–what creature, insofar as it has consciousness, could either establish or refute it? But because, out of confusion, even when perceiving something one may fail to notice it; by examining its capacities, we will enable its recognition.”
— Utpaladeva, On Recognizing God (Isvarapratyabjñākārikā)

“1.1 Now, we will explain reality.
 1.2 Earth, fire, water, air — these are what is real.
 1.3 Their aggregates are labeled ‘body’, ‘sense organ’, ‘object’.
 1.4 From them comes consciousness.
 1.5 Like the power to intoxicate from the elements of wine.
 1.6 A person is a body qualified by consciousness.
 1.7 It comes from the body alone.
 1.8 Because it occurs where the body occurs.”

 — Bṛhaspati, The Formula of the Materialists (Lokāyātasūtrāṇi)Report

Last edited 2 months ago by vcp
Suzanne Stern-Gillet
Suzanne Stern-Gillet
2 months ago

My vote for one of the most catchy first lines (in the history of philosophy) goes to Porphyry’s Life of Plotinus: ‘Plotinus, the philosopher of our time, was ashamed to be in the body.’ It was written between 301 and 305 CE.

Suzanne Stern-GilletReport

Aaron Goldbird
2 months ago

First line of Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man, bit scary, “Does not the threat of an atomic catastrophe which could wipe out the human race also serve to protect the very forces which perpetuate this danger?”Report

fmdolan
2 months ago

“Nothing” is an awe-inspiring yet essentially undigested concept, highly esteemed by writers of a mystical or existentialist tendency, but by most others regarded with anxiety, nausea, or panic. Nobody seems to know how to deal with it (he would, of course), and plain persons generally are reported to have little difficulty in saying, seeing, hearing, and doing nothing. Philosophers, however, have never felt easy on the matter. Ever since Parmenides laid it down that it is impossible to speak of what is not, broke his own rule in the act of stating it, and deduced himself into a world where all that ever happened was nothing, the impression has persisted that the narrow path between sense and nonsense on this subject is a difficult one to tread and that altogether the less said of it the better. (P.L. Heath, entry on “Nothing,” MacMillan Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1967).Report

Anco
2 months ago

“Sex robots are coming.”

From: “Robot Sex: Social and ethical implications”, J. Danaher and N. McArthur (Eds.). 2017, MIT Press.

and

“Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?”

From: “The extended mind”, A. Clark and D. Chalmers, 1998, Analysis.Report

Jakub
2 months ago

Being, pure being, without any further determination.Report

jekyll
jekyll
2 months ago

Spiegel: Herr Professor, vor zwei Wochen schien die
Welt noch in Ordnung …
Adorno: Mir nicht.

(“Keine Angst vor dem Elfenbeinturm”, interview, May 1969)Report

Sara Ellenbogen
2 months ago

“What is truth?” — Neil Tenant, The Taming of the True.”Report

Griffin Klemick
Reply to  Sara Ellenbogen
2 months ago

In the same vein, but with a dash more wit: “‘What is truth?’ said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. Pilate was in advance of his time.” (J. L. Austin, “Truth”).Report

Last edited 2 months ago by Griffin Klemick
Jeff Yoshimi
2 months ago

“It’s not terribly important on which claim David Lewis and I disagree. It might be some claim about modality, for instance. The problem is that even though he held that ¬P while I hold that P, I know full well that he was my epistemic superior with regard to the issues surrounding P. Lewis could kick my philosophical ass when it comes to modality” (Bryan Frances, The Reflective Epistemic Renegade)Report

Adam Antonelli
2 months ago

“Same time next week”Report

amb
amb
2 months ago

“Let there be no vulgar suspense: the title will be answered in the affirmative. What takes longer is to clarify its meaning.”

Williamson, Is Knowing a State of Mind?Report

Jonathan Westphal
2 months ago

    In relation to any political doctrine there are two questions to be asked: (1) Are its theoretical tenets true? (2) Is its practical policy likely to increase human happiness? For my part, I think the theoretical tenets of Communism are false, and I think its practical maxims are such as to produce an immeasurable increase of human misery.
     The theoretical doctrines of Communism are for the most part derived from Marx. My objections to Marx are of two sorts: one, that he was muddle-headed; and the other, that his thinking was almost entirely inspired by hatred. (Russell, “Why I am not a Communist”, “Portraits from Memory”, 1956Report

Martyna
2 months ago

“We are unknown to ourselves, we knowers: and with good reason.”
‘On the Genealogy of Morality’
Friedrich NietzscheReport

Strube
1 month ago

“Everyone will readily agree that it is of the highest importance to know whether we are not duped by morality.”

Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and InfinityReport

Strube
1 month ago

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that
is suicide.”

Albert Camus, The Myth of SisyphusReport