Socrates (470-399 B.C.)

“I was almost carried away in spite of myself, so persuasively did they speak. And yet, hardly anything of what they said is true” (Socrates in Plato’s Apology). The power of a forceful personality often finds its way to podiums, pulpits, and YouTube’s most viewed videos. But, as Socrates points out, being a powerful speaker … Read more …

Ordinary things

In this post, I will consider ordinary things, objects such as pens, desks, chairs, and your body. One might think that ordinary objects like these are easy to understand. We don’t need philosophers for them. However, a short reflection on some philosophical questions about them reveals the mysterious nature of the things we take for … Read more …

Metaphysical realism

In the next couple of posts, I am going to talk about objects. By an object, I mean a thing or a being, something that exists. That is very general, but it will get us started. I should warn you; metaphysics is neither easy to understand nor easy to teach. I will try my best … Read more …

Reality

Some people reject Christianity and other religions because they don’t like mystery. God, angels, souls, and other entities complicate things. It is simpler to consider the world in terms of objects that are more familiar to us. Any cursory glance at the discipline of metaphysics soon puts such an objection to rest. Although we take … Read more …

The Pre-Socratics

In fifth-century Greece, a group of thinkers began to think differently to their forebears. The work of these philosophers marks the beginning of the scientific and philosophical endeavor and a shift away from the mythological understanding of the world that had been popularised by the Homeric tradition. What we know about the Pre-Socratics (philosophers prior … Read more …

Faith and Reason

One of the knottier issues for Christians is working out how faith and reason are supposed to fit together. The problem is exacerbated by varying conceptions of both faith and reason. Faith is an ambiguous term. It might be used to talk about a capacity we have that, when developed, is considered a virtue. It … Read more …

Relativism

In all my posts so far, I have assumed that there are objective truths about the world, and we can know some of them. For some, however, those assumptions should be questioned. Relativists suggest that there are many ways to know the world. Some relativists believe that facts about the world are constructed and dependent … Read more …

Someone trying to speak to somebody who has a box with the word "po-mo" (short for post-modernism) on their head so that they can't see.

Postmodern Scepticism

In the last post, I examined ‘brain in a vat’ scepticism. There are many other ways to be a sceptic, but a particularly common contemporary form is more postmodern in nature. A postmodern sceptic might make the following claims: A) What we believe is determined by our psychology, sociology, and autobiography. B) There is no … Read more …

Scepticism

“Are you certain?” You wonder how to reply. Suppose you say no. Your friend might say, “Well I didn’t think so. Christianity is just a leap in the dark.” Suppose you say yes. Doing so will oblige you to defend your beliefs as being certain. But you don’t feel able to defend them to that … Read more …

Foundationalism

Pastor Jim believes that Jesus rose from the dead. What reasons does he have to think it is true? He might start with the gospels and appeal to what we are told. But suppose someone asks what makes him think the gospels are true. Again, it is likely that he’d be reaching for reasons. He’d … Read more …

Evidentialism

So far, we have talked vaguely about reasons for belief. Often, we call these reasons, evidence. But what exactly is the relationship between a person, evidence, belief, and the truth of a proposition? For instance, our belief that Jesus rose from the dead has some relation to evidence and truth. But what is it? Evidentialism … Read more …

Someone riding a bicycle

Knowledge

There are three ways we use the term ‘knowledge.’ Sometimes we use it to describe procedural knowledge. When we use the term this way, we might be saying that someone knows how to ride a bike, speak French, or play a game. Knowing how to do something is different from knowing about it. One can … Read more …