Ask More Questions


An interesting life is one long string of questions. Six year-olds are full of questions, before school and busy parents teach them that you get on quicker by pretending to know things. Socrates asked lots of difficult questions. He might have ended up dead (who doesn’t) but he was never bored and he never bored anyone else.

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” – Voltaire

See other: Philosophy of Interestingness

Truth


When contemplating the property truth, as with knowledge, it turns out to be very difficult to provide an uncontentious analysis. Because of its many different conceptions and dimensions, the full value of truth is surprisingly hard to capture. To that end, below is a list of quotations to help sketch a definition of the property truth.

“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
– François de La Rochefoucauld

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
– Winston Churchill

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
– Oscar Wilde

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
– Gloria Steinem

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
– Socrates

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
– Mark Twain

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
– Aldous Huxley

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.”
– Pablo Picasso

“The more I see, the less I know for sure.”
– John Lennon

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”
– Carlos Ruiz Zafón

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

See more: Approximations

Epistemology‏


Epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. It is concerned with the nature, sources and limits of knowledge.

“Wisdom is knowing how little we know.”
– Socrates

Epistemology has been primarily concerned with propositional knowledge, that is, knowledge that such-and-such is true, rather than other forms of knowledge, for example, knowledge how to such-and-such.

There is a vast array of views about propositional knowledge (knowledge which requires no actual experience), but one virtually universal presupposition is that knowledge is true belief, but not mere true belief.

For example, lucky guesses or true beliefs resulting from wishful thinking are not knowledge. Thus, a central question in epistemology is: what must be added to true beliefs to convert them into knowledge?

This question is generally discussed in a debate between rationalism and empiricism, or the question of whether knowledge can be acquired a priori or a posteriori:

  • Empiricism: knowledge is obtained through experience.
  • Rationalism: knowledge can be acquired through the use of reason.

Akrasia


Akrasia, occasionally transliterated as acrasia, is the state of acting against one’s better judgement.

The problem goes back at least as far as Plato. Socrates, in Plato’s Protagoras, asks precisely how this is possible:

“If one judges action A to be the best course of action, why would one do anything other than A?”

In the dialogue Protagoras, Socrates attests that akrasia is an illogical moral concept, claiming “No one goes willingly toward the bad” (358d). If a person examines a situation and decides to act in the way he determines to be best, he will actively pursue this action, as the best course is also the good course, i.e. man’s natural goal.

An all-things-considered assessment of the situation will bring full knowledge of a decision’s outcome and worth linked to well-developed principles of the good.

A person, according to Socrates, never chooses to act poorly or against his better judgement; actions that go against what is best are only a product of being ignorant of facts or knowledge of what is best or good.

On a Biblical note, in Matthew 23:25 Jesus uses it to describe hypocritical religious leaders. The Apostle Paul also gives akrasia as a reason for a husband and wife to not deprive each other of sex (I Corinthians 7:5).