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Bill Vallicella
A recovering academician, I taught philosophy at various universities in the USA and abroad before abandoning a tenured position to live the eremitic life of the independent philosopher in the Sonoran desert.
Interests: Everything. <em>Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto.</em> from Terentius. "I am a man: I consider nothing human foreign to me." Nothing human, but also nothing nonhuman.
Recent Activity
It is often said that a human fetus is a potential human life. Not so! A human fetus is an actual human life. Consider a third-trimester human fetus, alive and well, developing in the normal way in the mother. It is potentially many things: a neonate, a two-year-old, a speaker... Continue reading
A question rarely asked is the one I raise in this post: Is the abortion question tied to religion in such a way that opposition to abortion can be based only on religious premises? Or are there good reasons to oppose abortion that are nor religiously based, reasons that secularists... Continue reading
John Anderson's rejection of God is radical indeed. A. J. Baker writes: Anderson, of course, upholds atheism, though that is a rather narrow and negative way of describing his position given its sweep in rejecting all rationalist conceptions of essences and ontological contrasts in favour of the view that whatever... Continue reading
Interactionist substance dualism in the philosophy of mind is supposed to face a devastating objection, the interaction objection. In the first part of this post I will present this objection in its traditional form and suggest that it is not all that serious. In the second part, however, I take... Continue reading
Change, Accidental and Substantial There is no change without a substrate of change which, in respect of its existence and identity, does not change during the interval of the change. In a slogan: no change without unchange. No becoming other (alter-ation, Ver-aenderung) without something remaining the same. In the case... Continue reading
Hardly anyone reads Gustav Bergmann any more, but he is well worth reading. It is interesting to compare his style of ontological analysis with that of the great hylomorphic ontologists, Aristotle and Aquinas. The distinguished Aristotelian Henry B. Veatch does some of my work for me in a fine paper,... Continue reading
It's been said of Aquinas. On Aristotle's hylomorphic ontology, form and matter are 'principles' or ontological factors involved in the analysis of sublunary primary substances. These factors are not substances in their own right. Now Thomas is an Aristotelian in ontology. But when it comes to God and the soul... Continue reading
Viewed in one way, ambition is a good thing, and its absence in people, especially in the young, we consider to be a defect. Without ambition, there can be no realization of one's potential. Happiness is connected with the latter. We are happy when we are active in pursuit of... Continue reading
The better people are hard on themselves. The exemplify the anti-Bukowski property: they try. They set themselves difficult tasks and strive to complete them. They make intellectual, moral, spiritual, and physical demands on themselves. They are alive to the discrepancy between what they are and what they ought to be.... Continue reading
That beautiful line is contained in the following passage from the pen of Richard M. Weaver (1910-1963): It is my contention that a conservative is a realist, who believes that there is a structure of reality independent of his own will and desire. He believes that there is a creation... Continue reading
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The last days of Lev Davidovich Bronstein, better known as Leon Trotsky, prime mover of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, are the subject of Bertrand M. Patenaude's Trotsky: The Downfall of a Revolutionary (HarperCollins, 2009). It held my interest from the first page to the last, skillfully telling the story... Continue reading
We suffer pain, but we also suffer pleasure. Fundamentally, to suffer is to be passive, to be acted upon, to be at the mercy of what is not oneself. Excessive pleasure and pain should both be avoided as one avoids heteronomy, the heteronomy of the not-self. Compare Plato, Timaeus 86c:... Continue reading
St. Augustine at Confessions, Bk. VI, Ch. 11, speaks of "a greed for enjoying present things that both fled me and debased me." A paradox of pleasure. Certain pleasures madly striven after prove fleeting and unreal, yet not so fleeting and unreal that they cannot degrade and debase their pursuers.... Continue reading
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Properly enacted, independent thinking is not in the service of self-will or subjective opining, but in the service of submission to a higher authority, truth herself. We think for ourselves in order to find a truth that is not from ourselves, but from reality. The idea is to become dependent... Continue reading
There is such a thing as excessive concern with the body's health and excessive fear of its destruction. The body is to be used -- and used up. It is your vehicle here below; it is not you. It is an experience mill, so grind away. If thinking raises blood... Continue reading
The old man's libido on the wane, he thinks more clearly and more truly about sexual matters. And when the waning of all his physical forces and endowments reaches its term -- will he then think best of all, or not at all? The dove soars through the air and... Continue reading
I had known him for years. Our friendship was an acquaintanceship that remained on the surface. Never having gone deep, it never drifted toward the hazards the deep waters hide: the differences that most truly define and distinguish us, but also oppose us to others. And so when he died... Continue reading
1. A contingent being is one the nonexistence of which is possible, whereas a necessary being is one the nonexistence of which is impossible. (At play in these definitions is broadly logical possibility which is between narrowly logical and nomological possibility.) 2. Framing a definition is one thing, showing that... Continue reading
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Baltasar Gracián (1601-1658), The Art of Worldly Wisdom (Doubleday, 1992, tr. C. Maurer, # 173): Don't be made of glass in your dealings with others. Even less so in friendship. Some people break very easily revealing how fragile they are. They fill up with resentment and fill others with annoyance.... Continue reading
(Written 24 April 2013) Suppose two 70-year-olds decide to marry. They can do so, and their marriage will be recognized as valid under the law. And this despite the fact that such elderly couples cannot procreate. But in many places the law does not recognize marriage between same-sex couples who... Continue reading
1) With respect to any occurrent (as opposed to dispositional) belief, there is a distinction between the mental act of believing and the content believed. Since believing is 'intentional' as philosophers use this term, i.e., necessarily object-directed, there cannot be an act of believing that is not directed upon some... Continue reading
(Written 15 July 2011) According to a wisecrack of Schopenhauer, the medievals employed only three examples: Socrates, Plato, and an ass. In keeping with this hoary if not 'asinine' tradition, I too in my capacity as humble footnoter to Plato shall employ Socrates as my example. To point out the... Continue reading
Haecceitism is the doctrine that there are haecceities. But what is an haecceity? Suppose we take on board for the space of this post the assumptions that (i) properties are abstract objects, that (ii) they can exist unexemplified, and that (iii) they are necessary beings. We may then define the... Continue reading
Here: White nationalists are not really nationalists since they are engaged in a globalist enterprise. They are reaching beyond traditional nation states and seek to unify all peoples of a certain race, partly by demonizing other races. But propositionalists like Buckley and the neoconservative journalists are likewise involved in a... Continue reading
This post is a sequel to Van Inwagen on the Ship of Theseus. Peter van Inwagen, Material Beings (Cornell UP, 1990), p. 31, writes: The question 'In virtue of what do these n blocks compose this house of blocks?' is a question about n + 1 objects, one of them... Continue reading