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Lifelong Learning

Philosophy & Logic


I went back to school in January, and among the goals of this project is probably a "second" major in philosophy.  It was a secondary consideration to my astronomy major, but because courses can't really start until Autumn, I could get a serious head start on this one at the beginning.  It's almost finished now.

I have a couple areas of interest in Philosophy: history of/philosophy of science, and logic/skepticism.  The history I'm most interested in is classical and medieval, so you can find that component there.  There is probably also information scattered in the astronomy and science sections of my website.

My interest in philosophy is not primarily a general interest in the way people think, per se, but specifically a those things that I've found interesting and useful.  I am in search of those philosophical nuggets that will be beneficial to my own thinking.  It's not a career, but a way of life, I suppose.

Below are some of the papers I've written.  I'm not pretending to any great deal of philosophical insight.  It's tough to write papers and edit them for clarity while taking exams, and giving exams between two or three jobs and school.  But these are my efforts and they are what they are.

Plato: κατα της τελευτης: A Dialogue on Plato's Conception of the Afterlife & Sources (General comments from prof were "good dialogue, not enough philosophy", which by that I take to mean in-depth analysis of the texts. Point taken.)

Hume: How Probability Begets Belief (I got a B+ on this paper. Didn't read the comments beyond that.  The prof made a lot of errors in class about science.  Having a hard time getting used to 4-page papers again after 500-page novels.)

Mill: Utilitarianism and the Afterlife: the paradox of a pleasant hereafter (I wrote off-topic on this because the topic was just bugging me.)

Mill: Mill's "Competent Judges": self-selection and higher pleasures  (Got an A on this one, but I had to put off a lot of concerns on the topic because of the abbreviated length requirement.)

Kant: Is Morality Rational? (this was a very unpopular topic in the class, so I didn't get a lot of good feedback during the draft stages, and after turning it in and sleeping on it, wanted it back to make more changes... and that 4-page requirement is killing me.)

Berkeley: Berkeley's God. (to be perfectly honest, I suck at 5-page papers.  I got to page 4 and was about 1/3 of the way through the topic.  So, if it seems to be cut off at the end, that's why.  It was just getting interesting.  I am so glad these history courses are over.  I want my 600 level topics courses back where I stand a chance to do a better job on longer papers... and topics I actually care about.  This got a B of some sort, enough to kill an A- for the class for me, but I received no feedback on it.)

Scientific Realism: The Cosmological Constant and Scientific Realism.  (truth be told, I wasn't really happy with this paper.  I was working too much and didn't get a good start at it until late, and had a hard time focusing my thoughts.  Anti-realism really upsets me and it's clear that they are commenting on science they don't understand. Then, I learned that our final and paper should focus on different things, so I had to avoid talking about what I thought made most sense to argue with... and well.  A couple more days would have done a world of good.)

Feyerabend: Realism & Instrumentalism.  (this was a presentation I did for my philosophy of science class. Some good info here.  since I can't post the paper, I can at least post this.)

Aristotle: Aristotle v. The Atomists.  (I did this for my Aristotle course.   I didn't do as well as I'd have liked, but on the other hand, I did basically stop writing about halfway through my thought.  I talked here about Aristotle's use of terms for "chance", but never got around to talking about the implications for his teleological view of physics.)

Al-Ghazali: Causality's Black Box: Mathematics and Logical Necessity in Al-Ghazali's Incoherence of the Philosophers.  I wrote this paper for a course on Al-Ghazali (a 11th/12th century Islamic philosopher) in December 2011.  I could probably clarify a few things in it, but generally, it turned out well, and I got an A, together with compliments from the prof (that I wasn't expecting) about it's enjoyability.  If you've never heard of Al-Ghazali, you might want to read his Wikipedia page for context; my take on his position is quite different than the norm.

Al-Ghazali: Discussion 17: On Causality & Miracles.  Also on the Incoherence of the Philosophers, this is a handout I prepared for a presentation of the 17th discussion of the book that talks about Al-Ghazali's view of causality (see above) and his view on miracles.  The handout provides some background information definitions of miracles, Kalam atomism, and causality in general.  Then it goes through highlights of the text, and cites papers that comment on the passages, often with different perspectives.  Not sure how I got roped into doing miracles, but there it is.


Ancient Greek Skepticism [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Ancient Greek Philosophy

Medieval Logic and Philosophy

The Partially Examined Life | A Philosophy Podcast and Blog







Philosophy of Science

Characteristics of Science


κατα της τελευτης: A Dialogue on Plato's Conception of the Afterlife

Utilitarianism and the Afterlife: the paradox of a pleasant hereafter

Mill's "Competent Judges": self-selection and higher pleasures

Is Morality Rational?

How Probability Begets Belief

The Cosmological Constant and Scientific Realism

Aristotle v. The Atomists

Causality's Black Box

Discussion 17: On Causality & Miracles









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