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Republic is Plato’s most famous and most influential dialogue. In it he goes into depth on all of the subjects for which he is universally known: The virtues and vices of various political systems, education, art, the human psyche, the Forms, justice, and much more.

Plato is probably the most studied, cited, and influential writer who ever lived, and it is very fortunate that we have access to all or most of the texts that he created. That is not the case with other extremely influential figures such as Socrates, Jesus Christ, and the chief engineer of the Great Pyramid.


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Hume attacks the principle of induction, which he calls cause-and-effect reasoning, in at least two ways in his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.

His most devastating attack is in Section IV, Part 1, where he shows that the reasoning behind inductive inference is circular. The argument runs thus:

  1. All matters of fact (propositions containing empirical claims) are warranted by cause-and effect (inductive) reasoning.
  2. Cause-and-effect reasoning is warranted by experience.
  3. Experience is warranted by the idea of the unity of Nature (the idea that the laws of Nature apply everywhere and at all times).
  4. The unity of Nature is warranted by experience.

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Hume’s entire philosophical project can be seen as a refutation of the rationalism that Descartes so systematically deploys, but when you ask for a specific argument, two come prominently to mind. One explicitly confutes Descartes by name, and the other confutes him by rejecting all of his principle assumptions, thereby removing any warrant for his conclusions.

We find Hume’s explicit argument in Section XII, Part 1 of his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, where he rejects Descartes’ foundationalism as illusory, and for good measure, he claims that even if a foundational proposition could be identified, the Evil Genius doubt would make…


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It is said that once Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and Owen Lovejoy were riding in a coach to Bloomington, Illinois, when a dispute broke out between Douglas and Lovejoy concerning the proper proportion of a man’s legs to his torso.

When asked to weigh in on the ideal length for legs, Lincoln is supposed to have said, “I have not given the matter much consideration, but on first blush I should judge they ought to be long enough to reach from his body to the ground.”

I currently teach English Composition at two community colleges in the Bay Area of…


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Writers do not precisely agree on what logic is, and without an exact definition, it would not be prudent to claim very decidedly that it is either an intrinsic component of the cosmos or a purely human invention.

The term “logos” applied to metaphysical concerns seems to appear first in the writings of the pre-Socratics, specifically Heraclitus. There is some disagreement concerning what exactly he means by it, but it seems to name some kind of world process underlying or perhaps describing the pervasive change in the cosmos.

Aristotle, who gives us the first systematic description of the operations of…


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I don’t know if it is a good reason or not, but the explanation seems to be that the action of providing food or drink to a person who is in line to vote constitutes, or could easily evolve into an instance of illegal electioneering.

The Republicans are manifestly doing everything that they can think of, or get away with, to suppress voting among the less affluent, and their actions are grotesquely repugnant to anyone committed to liberal democracy.

That said, the progressive-leaning journalists and commentators should stop harping on the water issue and acting as if there could be…


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Plato shows in his Theaetetus that experience and reason seem to act like competitors in the task of guiding us to knowledge. In that dialogue, Socrates identifies Protagoras as the standard bearer for experience while he himself carries reason’s baton.

Socrates explains to Theaetetus, and his teacher Theodorus, that defining “knowledge” as “that that is shown or given to us by our senses or our experience” is tantamount to affirming Protagoras’ dicta of “homo mensura” (man is the measure) and “things are as they seem.”


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The Pre-Socratics asked a couple of basic questions about the cosmos, and those questions and the answers they came up with made all of the difference in the way that Western intellectual history has played out.

The first question was, “Why do the things that are beyond our control happen as they do?” And the second question was, “What is all of this really?”

The Greek poets who preceded Thales and the other Pre-Socratics: Homer and Hesiod, gave accounts of a cosmos whose makeup, content, qualities, and processes were either gods themselves or the consequences of the actions of gods…


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Adequate for what? Two of Plato’s most important vessels of epistemological theorizing are Meno and Theaetetus (Republic is more explanatory than exploratory).

Meno starts out with an argument for the primacy of definition, goes on to exemplify Socrates’ elenchus, dips into aporia, posits anamnesis as a solution to the paradox of inquiry, demonstrates anamnesis, proposes the use of a hypothesis in a theoretical examination, and seems to accept the Justified-True-Belief definition of knowledge in the end.

Theaeteus dramatizes an explicit search for a definition of knowledge, which presents an exquisitely detailed description and refutation of empiricism. …


That the President of the United States is a wheedling prevaricator of the crassest and grossest kind. In his latest perfect phone call: the one in which he puts the Georgia Secretary of State, Raffensperger, on notice that failure to find 11,780 votes could be very dangerous for him and his lawyer, the President apparently commits multiple federal crimes.

The House of Representatives must draw up new articles of impeachment now! Has the United States defeated the mightiest militaries and most illiberal ideological regimes in human history to now be brought low by this sordid mountebank and two-bit carnival barker?

Charles Gray

“If it can be done, why do it?” Gertrude Stein

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