Philosophy: Basic Readings
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This is the ideal introduction to key philosophical texts for students. Nigel Warburton brings philosophy to life with an imaginative selection of philosophical writings on key topics. Each chapter considers a key area of philosophy, complementing the sections in Philosophy: The Basics with a selection of readings.
subject, such as that it is just hair-splitting and irrelevant – a subject best pursued by those who want to live in an ivory tower. Here Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) responds to such remarks with a robust defence of the value of philosophy. Philosophy has value not because it is likely to provide definitive answers to the questions it asks, but rather because the questions themselves are profound and important ones. Philosophical contemplation removes us from our narrow everyday concerns and
extraordinary and miraculous than all the miracles it relates; which is, however, necessary to make it be received, according to the measures of probability above established. What we have said of miracles may be applied, without any variation, to prophecies; and indeed, all prophecies are real miracles, and as such only, can be admitted as proofs of any revelation. If it did not exceed the capacity of human nature to foretell future events, it would be absurd to employ any prophecy as an
Exactly the same trick is performed in the ‘mystery’ of the Trinity. Mysteries are not meant to be solved, they are meant to strike awe. The ‘mystery is a virtue’ idea comes to the aid of the Catholic, who would otherwise find intolerable the obligation to believe the obvious nonsense of the transubstantiation and the ‘three-in-one.’ Again, the belief that ‘mystery is a virtue’ has a self-referential ring. As Hofstadter might put it, the very mysteriousness of the belief moves the believer to
occasion, and Pedro here will do what he was about to do when Jim arrived, and kill them all. Jim, with some desperate recollection of schoolboy fiction, wonders whether if he got hold of a gun, he could hold the captain, Pedro and the rest of the soldiers to threat, but it is quite clear from the 157 158 Bernard Williams set-up that nothing of that kind is going to work: any attempt at that sort of thing will mean that all the Indians will be killed, and himself. The men against the wall, and
is misleading to think, in such a case, of Jim having an effect on the world through the medium (as it happens) of Pedro’s acts; for this is to leave Pedro out of the picture in his essential role of one who has intentions and projects, projects for realizing which Jim’s refusal would leave an opportunity. Instead of thinking in terms of supposed effects of Jim’s projects on Pedro, it is more revealing to think in terms of the effects of Pedro’s projects on Jim’s decision. This is the direction