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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
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
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Peter van Inwagen's Material Beings (Cornell UP, 1990) is a very strange book, but he is a brilliant man, so one can expect to learn something from it. A central claim is that artifacts such as tables and chairs and ships do not exist. One can appreciate that if there... Continue reading
Is it consistent to support both fetal rights and the moral acceptability of capital punishment? That depends on what is meant by 'consistent.' Let us begin by asking whether the following propositions are logically consistent. P1. A living human fetus has a right to life which cannot be overridden except... Continue reading
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This entry is installment #2 in a Carnap versus Heidegger series. Here is the first in the series. It couldn't hurt to at least skim through it. Part of what I am up to is an exploration of the origin and nature of the analytic-Continental split. To quote from the... Continue reading
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One of the reasons I gave this weblog the title Maverick Philosopher is because I align neither with the analytic nor with the Continental camp. Study everything, I say, and drink from every stream. Reverting to the camp metaphor, when did the camps become two? In dead earnest this occurred... Continue reading
People are so easy to swindle because the swindler has as accomplices the victim's own moral defects. When good judgment and moral sense are suborned by lust or greed or sloth or vanity or anger, the one swindled participates willingly in his own undoing. In the end he swindles himself.... Continue reading
The topic of conditionals is ancient, not as ancient as Aristotle and logic itself, but damn near: hard thinking on this topic began with the Dialectical School which featured such worthies as Philo the Logician and Diodorus Cronus, circa late 4th to mid-3rd centuries B.C. In nuce, those gentlemen had... Continue reading
Christopher Hitchens says somewhere that he didn't suffer from cognitive dissonance of the sort that arises when a deeply internalized religious upbringing collides with the contrary values of the world, since he never took religion or theism seriously in the first place. But then I say religion was never a... Continue reading
Catholicism is true enough to provide moral guidance and spiritual sustenance for many, many people. So if you are a lapsed Catholic, you could do far worse than to return to the arms of Holy Mother the Church. And this despite the deep post-Vatican II corruption. Better such a reversion... Continue reading
Albert Camus, Notebooks 1951-1959, tr. Ryan Bloom, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2010, p. 94: A priest who regrets having to leave his books when dying? Which proves that the intense pleasure of eternal life does not infinitely exceed the gentle company of books. Come on, Al, be serious. Eternal life... Continue reading
Take the sentence, 'If I will die tomorrow, then I will die tomorrow.' This has the form If p, then p, where 'p' is a placeholder for a proposition. Any sentence of this form is not just true, but logically true, i.e., true in virtue of its logical form. Now... Continue reading
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Albert Camus, Notebooks 1951-1959, tr. Ryan Bloom, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2010, p. 202: Algerians. They live in the richness and warmth of friendship and family. The body as the center, and its virtues -- and its [sic] profound sadness as soon as it declines -- life without a view... Continue reading