outubro 27, 2011


Existe uma relação - dinâmica, complexa, intermitente - entre o sistema nervoso humano e a realidade que o limita. A esta relação chamamos 'eu'.

outubro 24, 2011

Guilherme de Ockham

Ockham [...] deplored the inaccuracy of the terms used in philosophy, and spent half his time trying to make them more precise. He resented the Gothic edifice of abstractions- one mounted upon the other like arches in superimposed tiers- that medieval thought had raised. We cannot find in his extant works precisely the famous formula that tradition called "Ockham's razor": entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem - entities are not to be multiplied beyond need. But he expressed the principle in other terms again and again: pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate - a plurality (of entities or causes or factors) is not to be posited (or assumed) without necessity; and frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora - it is vain to seek to accomplish or explain by assuming several entities or causes what can be explained by fewer.

The principle was not new; Aquinas had accepted it, Scotus had used it. But in Ockham's hands it became a deadly weapon, cutting away a hundred occult fancies and grandiose abstractions. Applying the principle to epistemology, Ockham judged it needless to assume, as the source and material of knowledge, anything more than sensations. From these arise memory (sensation revived), perception (sensation interpreted through memory), imagination (memories combined), anticipation (memory projected), thought (memories compared), and experience (memories interpreted through thought). "Nothing can be an object of the interior sense" (thought) "without having been an object of the exterior sense" (sensation); here is Locke's empiricism 300 years before Locke.

All that we ever perceive outside ourselves is individual entities- specific persons, places, things, actions, shapes, colors, tastes, odors, pressures, temperatures, sounds; and the words by which we denote these are "words of first intention" or primary intent, directly referring to what we interpret as external realities. By noting and abstracting the common features of similar entities so perceived, we may arrive at general or abstract ideas- man, virtue, height, sweetness, heat, music, eloquence; and the words by which we denote such abstractions are "words of second intention," referring to conceptions derived from perceptions. These "universals" are never experienced in sensation; they are termini, signa, nomina - terms, signs, names - for generalizations extremely useful (and dangerous) in thought or reason, in science, philosophy, and theology; they are not objects existing outside the mind. "Everything outside the mind is singular, numerically one."

Reason is magnificent, but its conclusions have meaning only in so far as they refer to experience- i.e., to the perception of individual entities, or the performance of individual acts; otherwise its conclusions are vain and perhaps deceptive abstractions. How much nonsense is talked or written by mistaking ideas for things, abstractions for realities! Abstract thought fulfills its function only when it leads to specific statements about specific things. From this "nominalism" Ockham moved with devastating recklessness into every field of philosophy and theology. Both metaphysics and science, he announced, are precarious generalizations, since our experience is only of individual entities in a narrowly restricted area and time; it is mere arrogance on our part to assume the universal and eternal validity of the general propositions and "natural laws" that we derive from this tiny sector of reality. Our knowledge is molded and limited by our means and ways of perceiving things (this is Kant before Kant); it is locked up in the prison of our minds, and it must not pretend to be the objective or ultimate truth about anything.

Will Durant - Story of Civilization, vol.06, pp.246-49

outubro 19, 2011


"[Liberalism is] a philosophy that champions the right of individuals – regardless of rank or creed or color – to be free of the choking grip of enforced traditionalism, free of the stupidity of superstition (including the hyper-lethal superstition that is nationalism), and free of the arbitrary will of their ‘betters.’

Classical liberals (and many “conservatives”) champion free markets and private property rights, therefore, not to defend “elite privileges against challenges from below” but out of a sincere conviction that markets and property are necessary for maximum possible freedom and for astonishing material abundance." Don Boudreaux

outubro 17, 2011

outubro 13, 2011

the only question that really matters

"Apparently praying keeps her calm and happy. It's some kind of ritual for them. It doesn't do any harm. Why don't you go and join them if you're worried?"
Theo said: "I don't think they'd want me."
"I don't know, they might. They might try to convert you. Are you a Christian?"
"No, I'm not a Christian."
"What do you believe, then?"
"Believe about what?"
"The things that religious people think are important. Whether there is a God. How do you explain evil? What happens when we die? Why are we here? How ought we to live our lives?"
Theo said: "The last is the most important, the only question that really matters. You don't have to be religious to believe that. And you don't have to be a Christian to find an answer."
Rolf turned to him and asked, as if he really wanted to know: "But what do you believe? I don't just mean religion. What are you sure of?"
"That once I was not and that now I am. That one day I shall no longer be."
Rolf gave a short laugh, harsh as a shout. "That's safe enough. No one can argue with that. What does he believe, the Warden of England?"
"I don't know. We never discussed it."
Miriam came over and, sitting with her back against a trunk, stretched out her legs wide, closed her eyes and lifted her face, gently smiling, to the sky, listening but not speaking.
Rolf said: "I used to believe in God and the Devil and then one morning, when I was twelve, I lost my faith. I woke up and found that I didn't believe in any of the things the Christian Brothers had taught me. I thought if that ever happened I'd be too frightened to go on living, but it didn't make any difference. One night I went to bed believing and the next morning I woke up unbelieving. I couldn't even tell God I was sorry, because He wasn't there any more. And yet it didn't really matter. It hasn't mattered ever since."
Miriam said without opening her eyes: "What did you put in His empty place?''
"There wasn't any empty place. That's what I'm telling you."
P.D.James, The Children of Men

outubro 12, 2011


Como na separação da Igreja e do Estado, precisamos da separação das Corporações e do Estado.

outubro 11, 2011


O conceito de deus inclui um método de explicação do mundo natural (e.g., os mitos da criação). Este método nunca pode ser reconciliado com as metodologias actuais, designadas genericamente por método científico. Se um evento for observado repetidamente e que não possui explicação ou predição possível nas teorias científicas correntes, a única explicação científica para este facto é admitir que essas teorias são incompletas e precisam de reforma ou, raramente, de substituição. Não existe espaço para complementar estes modelos com um deus ex machina. Este argumento é, na essência, baseado na indução de séculos de acumulação de conhecimento científico onde cada evento interpretado como mágico e misterioso ou se encontrou um modelo científico (e.g., a electricidade, as ervas curativas) ou foi eliminado por testes e experiências controladas (e.g., os fantasmas, a premonição). Não existem contra-exemplos desta tendência.

outubro 06, 2011


"The following kind of scenario is familiar throughout analytic philosophy. A bold philosopher proposes that all Fs are Gs. Another philosopher proposes a particular case that is, intuitively, an F but not a G. If intuition is right, then the bold philosopher is mistaken. Alternatively, if the bold philosopher is right, then intuition is mistaken, and we have learned something from philosophy. Can this alternative ever be realised, and if so, is there a way to tell when it is? In this paper, I will argue that the answer to the first question is yes, and that recognising the right answer to the second question should lead to a change in some of our philosophical practices.

The problem is pressing because there is no agreement across the sub-disciplines of philosophy about what to do when theory and intuition clash. In epistemology, particularly in the theory of knowledge, and in parts of metaphysics, particularly in the theory of causation, it is almost universally assumed that intuition trumps theory. [...] I claim that it is (usually) the epistemologists and the metaphysicians who are wrong. In more cases than we usually imagine, a good philosophical theory can teach us that our intuitions are mistaken. Indeed, I think it is possible (although perhaps not likely) that the justified true belief (hereafter, JTB) theory of knowledge is so plausible that we should hold onto it in preference to keeping our intuition that Gettier cases are not cases of knowledge.


In short, the true theory of knowledge is the one that does best at (a) accounting for as many as possible of our intuitions about knowledge while (b) remaining systematic. A ‘theory’ that simply lists our intuitions is no theory at all, so condition (b) is vital. [...] counterexamples to a theory count against it. While a theory can be reformist, it cannot be revolutionary. A theory that disagreed with virtually all intuitions about possible cases is, for that reason, false. The theory: X knows that p iff X exists and p is true is systematic, but hardly plausible. As a corollary, while intuitions about any particular possible case can be mistaken, not too many of them could be. Counterexamples are problematic for a theory, the fewer reforms needed the better, it’s just not that they are not fatal. Importantly, not all counterexamples are as damaging to a theory as others. Intuitions come in various degrees of strength, and theories that violate weaker intuitions are not as badly off as those that violate stronger intuitions. Many people accept that the more obscure or fantastic a counterexample is, the less damaging it is to a theory." - Brian Weatherson, What good are counterexamples (2003)

outubro 03, 2011


As pessoas são livres mas exercem a sua liberdade e as suas capacidades dentro da sociedade e da cultura a que pertencem. O possível e o admissível são contingentes e limitados por muitas direcções, como pela geografia, pela história ou pela cognição humana. Estudar disciplinas que gerem o finito, como a Ética ou a Economia, é um passo importante para lidar com a frustração do limite.