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Ever since Descartes published his book Meditations he has been accused of committing a fallacy of circular reasoning with his argument that God is the guarantor of the truth of our belief in an external world. Descartes’ argument has ever since been derided as the “Cartesian Circle.” The problem is that the so-called “Cartesian Circle” is a misrepresentation of what Descartes is actually arguing.

The accusation against Descartes is that he asserts that the existence of God verifies that clear and distinct ideas must be true. …


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Social recognition among individuals and groups is what keeps together communities. Without it, struggles for justice and freedom are impossible. All of those struggles include the struggle for the authority and power to claim recognition.

Excerpt from the book, Rethinking Misrecognition and Struggles for Recognition: Critical Theory Beyond Honneth. Used with the permission of the publisher.

Because recognition is a specific response to how a specific individual is, the question arises as to who has the authority to recognize another, and what is the authority that sets the standards for recognition norms? The temptation is to say that social institutions…


What are they trying to gain?

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Dying one’s hair is changing one’s appearance. Why would someone do that? Is it as simple a matter as changing one’s shirt? What is really going on when people dye their hair?

When we consider what clothing to wear, we consider practical matters and appearance. On the one hand, we wear more or less clothing depending on the temperature and perhaps a raincoat if it is raining. That’s being practical. On the other hand, we wear particular styles and colors of clothing because we want to appear a certain way, even if it is only to please ourselves. …


How to best teach philosophy so students can understand and appreciate its importance.

One of the biggest challenges for philosophy professors is reaching students who have little to no background or interest in philosophy. In the US, philosophy is seldom taught in high school and many students see a college Intro to Philosophy course as nothing but a general distribution requirement to get out of the way as quickly and painlessly as possible. Knowing this, most intro textbooks approach students with a dumbed-down, jazzed up, collection of “hey kids, look at this wild idea.” …


Units of Time Are Arbitrary

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In the Gregorian calendar, 1 January marks the new year. It is not the new year in the dozens of other calendars that exist. This is not insignificant. Although the “new year” is celebrated with fanfare and increased alcohol consumption, aside from hangovers absolutely nothing changes between 31 December and 1 January. Nature does not know that it is a new year, nor does it care. Even if we humans care about delineating a new year there is nothing that indicates that 1 January should be the first day of a new year. Why not on August 1? Why not…


This is a very interesting and profound question that speaks to morality and human nature. As with all good philosophical questions, answering it requires challenging our preconceptions.

Did Hitler know that he was bad? Well, do we know he was bad? Do we know anyone is good or bad? Great philosophical questions, but let’s avoid getting bogged down in wondering whether we have knowledge of moral truths. Let’s agree that Hitler was a very bad man. When I took ethics at university, the professor said that if your ethical system doesn’t condemn Hitler, you need a new one. I’ve long…


Ideas change everything

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It is impossible for us today to appreciate the profound effect of Johannes Kepler’s theory of planetary motion. Before Kepler’s book Astronomia Nova (1609) the unquestioned assumption was that everything in the heavens was perfect. A large part of that assumption was that the motion of heavenly bodies must be circular.

Since ancient times, the circle was revered as geometric perfection. Scientists and sages assumed that the heavens were a realm of perfection and all motions of bodies reflected that perfection. Planets, assumed to revolve around the Earth of course, must revolve in circles. The paradigm of circular motion was…


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Today, I watched with interest a BBC news story. It was about the ownership of Taylor Swift’s song recordings being sold by some guy named Scooter to some investment firm. Swift is upset that she wasn’t offered the chance to buy ownership of the master recordings of her first six albums. This is the latest in a long-standing struggle by Swift to win control of her own music. I don’t share Swift’s taste in music, but I admire her for her courage to stand up to the music labels. …


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Space for difference

“The test of faith is whether I can make space for difference. Can I recognize God’s image in someone who is not in my image, whose language, faith, ideals, are different from mine? If I cannot, then I have made God in my image instead of allowing God to remake me in God’s.”

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

This quote is from his book, The Dignity of Difference. Another recommended book by Rabbi Sacks is Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence. In these books, Rabbi Sacks calls for the courage to accept those who are different from…


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Text Transcript:

There are now three realms of existence: reality, fiction, and reality TV. Reality TV is far too contrived to be reality, which is probably why the TV networks prefer the term “non-scripted TV.” The genre fails in comparison to reality. Nevertheless, locking people in houses, stranding them on islands, stalking hillbillies, and raiding abandoned storage lockers are now staples of basic cable reality TV.

Then there’s Oak Island. It’s a real place with a real history, not an island turned into a TV set with scripted “non-scripted” drama. But Oak Island the place is different from “The…

Douglas Giles, PhD

Philosophy professor reaching out beyond the ivory tower. elmhurst.academia.edu/DouglasGiles. I also run WorldFusionRadio.com and InsertPhilosophyHere.com.

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