Philosophy is a profoundly interesting subject. Often many people have little to no understanding of what the subject actually is, and don’t realise how influential it has been on numerous aspects of their lives.
Ever come across the question “if a tree falls in a forest and there’s nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Well that annoyingly difficult question was sprung out of the philosophical notion of Idealism.
Idealism, which essentially suggests that The Matrix is real, refers to the suggestion that our reality is not actually physical, but rather that it is all immaterial, and is nothing more than a construction in our minds. It sounds crazy, but there’s actually many convincing arguments in favour of it.
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you can’t determine a solution to a question, what can you do? You can’t just leave it alone, you need an answer. But what if none of the possible answers are definitive enough? Well William of Ockham may very well have the trick for you.
Ockham’s Razor is a reasoning technique which states that, in times of need, one must look at the possible answers, see which of them makes the least assumptions or leaps of faith, and which is the most comprehensive. In following this technique, you will be far better equipped, and far more likely, to find the correct answer.
“Does God exist?” is perhaps one of the greatest philosophical questions of all time. If we were ever to discover the true answer to that question, regardless of the answer, it would change the face of the earth in ways we couldn’t imagine.
But the fact is, we don’t know. So what on earth do we do? Well French philosopher Blaise Pascal suggested that because we do not know whether there truly is a God, the only logical answer is to live under the assumption that there is one. His reasoning was if you don’t live under a God which turns out to exist, you are destined to spend an eternity in hell-fire. While on the other hand, if you believe in a God that doesn’t exist you’ve lost relatively little. For Pascal the battle between loss and reward was a clear one.
Mind/Body Identity Theory
We perhaps now take for granted the idea that everything which we are -what we think and feel – is nothing more than physical and chemical processes in the brain. But this notion, referred to as the Mind/Body Identity Theory, was only developed in the middle of the 20th Century.
Previously, philosophers had trouble understanding the mind, as things like consciousness or sensations are so difficult to explain through physical means, so they reasoned that the body and the mind must be two entirely separate substances: The body is obviously a physical substance, whereas the mind is non-physical – it is the soul.
However, using modern scanning technology it is now possible to record the activity of the brain and match it with certain sensations indicating that what you feel is identical to a specific state of your brain.
If you’ve ever walked down the street, stopped and wondered “what the hell is life actually all about?” then you’ve wandered into what is perhaps the greatest philosophical question of them all. You’ve realised that to be alive is a truly wonderful, yet crazy, unexplainable adventure – this is the very root of Absurdism.
Developed predominantly by French Philosopher Albert Camus, the Absurd refers to the strange predicament that human beings find themselves in: The battle between the constant human search for purpose and our sheer inability to find it in this meaningless, chaotic universe. We all crave a meaning for our lives, yet not one single human being has ever objectively found it.
For Camus, this battle is unanswerable, but it does have three possible responses. The first is to commit suicide, take ourselves out of the running, and answer the question ourselves. The second is to take a leap of faith: To believe in a God, which gives us a reason for our existence. Or finally, to do what most of us do – understand how unexplainable our existence is, accept it, and move forward, enjoying as much as we can along the way.