# Boards

## Philosophy

Fuck you, people who say it's a pisstake. Fuck you. It's the hardest subject in the world. I do maths as well, and philosophy's about a hundred times harder than that. And it's not because I'm shit at arts subjects or anything, it's just that PHILOSOPHY IS THE HARDEST SUBJECT IN THE WORLD. Thanks.

## nah

i did history at uni but in my second year i did a couple of modules in philosophy and got a first for both, and i just rambled on about rubbish really, i didn't take them too seriously. one essay was on Decartes' Meditations, the other was about the pro life/pro choice argument.

saying that you go to Bristol, right? far better uni than mine.

## 1 + 1 = 2: not hard

Maths: still hard.

## try chemical engineering

http://wikis.lib.ncsu.edu/images/c/cb/CH431_Image80.gif

## Philosphy is only "hard" when it doesn't make sense

Which to be fair is quite frequently, but still...

## I don't mean "make sense as in "I don't get it" either

As in, there is completely and entirely no grounding in the slightest, the arguments don't join up at all, and the conclusion reached isn't in the least bit logical given those things.

## I find it pretty amusing, too

That philosophy is just about the subject that requires you to think for yourself the least. Nobody seems to get that.

## No, you mean you don't get it

## Not at all....

## Nah, you do

Sorry.

## If I meant something different

I would have said that, wouldn't I? Seriously...

## Okay, sorry

You *should* mean that you don't get it.

## This is all getting too philosophical for me.

## That just looks like applied maths

## That doesn't look so bad.

I do study mech eng tbf.

## err excuse me

look at all those strange symbols! obviously it is the hardest QED

## ^Maths

http://xkcd.com/435/

## So I guess

the logician is just out of shot on the right..?

## David Lewis

Just makes it up as he goes along.

What's your favourite modal logic? Mine is K4. Big fan of K4.

## Depends what philosophy you're talking about really.

Some of it IS a pisstake - the kind that argues for conclusions that are either wrong or just plain obvious but gains credibility by using language that no-one understands. Or alternatively, stuff that's pretty well argued but tackles irrelevant minutiae that no-one cares about.

The best philosophy courses are amongst the hardest because of their high standards rather than anything intrinsic to the subject. In a sense philosophy is very easy: you don't need much background knowledge or specialist skills to do it.

## For me, philosophy is bullshit

No-one is ever right, no-one is ever wrong. It's completely subjective. And when it comes down to it, it's just one bearded guy arguing with another bearded guy.

## "it's completely subjective"

i disagree

## "All we are is dust in the wind," dude.

## it is pretty difficult

hence never trying. Was thinking of joining a Deleuze reading group.

I really think once you get your head around some philosophical concepts, everything else becomes a lot easier. It just seems to make people a lot more interesting and able to explain things, phenomena a lot better. Simple seemingly obvious things aren't taken so much for granted, and you can see how much of your everyday experience is based on a set of expectations.

I really wish I had the patience, the stamina and well, the mental agility to get my head around Heidegger, Kierkegaard , and Nietzche (as well as the less cool philosophers).

## took some philosophy modules in my first year

didn't understand a word of what was said (phil of religion). Got a first. Best marks I got in anything.

## yeah pisstake innit lol

## I didn't say that.

## philosophy is the best

## Fuck you on bro?

Hume is the least stuffy. Hume is fuckin' hilarious.

## uhhhhh.

It doesnt say anything about my ego if Im saying that Hume is not stuffy. He is one of the least boring people to read.

## welcome to academia.

## i think the thing is

that to actually fully GET advanced philosophy is very very difficult and requires a lot of intelligence and hard work, but courses in the subject (or at least, beginners-level courses, which is what most people are probably basing their opinion on) do seem to be quite lenient in giving away good grades for anything that vaguely resembles a coherent argument (based purely on anecdotal evidence and the fact that i got As this year without reading any of the texts)

## haven't done enough to call it a pisstake but hardest subject in the world?

try most sciences

http://www.cadlive.jp/CADLIVE_summary/summary.files/image005.jpg

## I have

Cheers.

## Yeah, but we're all going to die anyway, so what does it matter?

## Okay, since some of you guys apparently find philosophy so easy

from now on, I'm going to post any problems I have in here rather than bothering my tutor with them. First off, the one that inspired this thread:

According to David Lewis, everything which is possible in this world (like, for example, that there are blue swans) is in fact going on in some other world, not spatiotemporally connected to our world. This is controversial and not many people believe it, but you don't have to in order to assess the various weaknesses and strengths of the theory.

The entities within these worlds can partly be established by recombining the properties and individuals which exist in our world (for example, the property of blue with the individuals of swans to create blue swans, or even human heads with swan bodies to create swans with human heads), although note that this does not create *all* the possible worlds because some may contain alien properties, such as colours that don't exist in our world (debatable).

Nonetheless, we can imagine a big world which is an amalgamation of all the possible worlds. In total, this world has a vast, vast number of electrons, a number which we shall represent with a capital N. Considering these electrons to comprise a set, we can generate a power set. (For example, if there were only 3 electrons, namely A, B and C, we could generate a set containing A, a set containing B, one containing C, one containing A and B, one containing A and C, one containing B and C, one containing A, B and C, and an empty set, i.e. one containing nothing at all. In total, these are said to comprise the power set of the initial set containing A, B and C.)

In general (by which I mean always, not usually), there are 2^N sets contained within the power set of a set with N members. Ignoring the empty set, this is 2^N - 1, i.e. there are 2^N - 1 combinations of electrons which can be created from the initial N electrons. By the principle of recombination, each of these sets within the power set can be said to represent a possible world, i.e. the set containing electron A represents a world which consists of this one electron, and the set which contains electrons A and B represents a world comprised of these 2 electrons, and so on. We call these variant worlds.

Now each of these variant worlds are existent, possible worlds, and so can be said to have a duplicate within the original big world which overlaps with no other duplicate (since the original world has been defined to be an amalgamation of *all* possible worlds). But then we arrive at a paradox, for there are 2^N - 1 variant worlds, each containing at least one electron, yet there are only N electrons within our original big world, and 2^N - 1 is necessarily larger than N. So, as Lewis puts it, "the big world has more electrons in it than it has".

Intuitively, this paradox is a problem, as a paradoxes always are - it means we can't talk about the collection of all possible worlds in a non-paradoxical sense. But what's wrong with that? Why does this itself create a problem? I wouldn't for a moment suggest that the fact I don't see a problem means there isn't a problem, or even that I'm convinced there isn't a problem - if anything, I find it more likely that I don't truly appreciate the intricacies of the situation. So my question to my tutor was going to be, why exactly is this a problem, and this is the question I instead ask all of you.

## ...

http://is.gd/2icHT

## yeah I get the paradox

but not why it's a problem.

happy to help.

## it was all a dream

duh

## i haven't got a clue about 'philosophy'

but that story just seems to end where it started. totally circular and illogical. clearly the first "big" world with N electrons wasn't an amalgamation of all the "possible" worlds, as shown by the rest.

## Okay, so we say we didn't have all possible worlds after all

and we add our new variant worlds. And then we repeat the process and realise that we still didn't have all possible worlds. So we do it again. And again. And again. And we realise that whatever we want to choose as our class of all possible worlds cannot in fact be a class of all possible worlds, because this will always apply. Hence the conclusion: it is impossible to talk about a collection of all possible worlds.

It is not circular - the very point of the proof is to show either that the initial assumptions can be valid or they cannot be, namely those that there can be a collection of all possible worlds and that the principle of recombination is valid. If we were to say that our collection of all possible worlds contains N electrons, and then, from this, attempted to prove that the collection of all possible worlds contains N electrons, then yes, that would be circular, but that is not what we are doing.

And while the conclusion is illogical - such is the nature of a paradox - none of our assumptions are, at least on the face of it. Our conclusion may show that to assume there is a collection of all possible worlds is illogical, but it's certainly not illogical by definition. It is a proof by contradiction, much like those seen in mathematics. Here is the proof that root 2 is irrational, for example:

1. Assume that ?2 is a rational number, meaning that there exists an integer a and an integer b such that a / b = ?2.

2. Then ?2 can be written as an irreducible fraction a / b such that a and b are coprime integers and (a / b)2 = 2.

3. It follows that a2 / b2 = 2 and a2 = 2 b2. ((a / b)n = an / bn)

4. Therefore a2 is even because it is equal to 2 b2. (2 b2 is necessarily even because it is 2 times another whole number; that is what "even" means.)

5. It follows that a must be even as (squares of odd integers are also odd, referring to b) or (only even numbers have even squares, referring to a).

6. Because a is even, there exists an integer k that fulfills: a = 2k.

7. Substituting 2k from (6) for a in the second equation of (3): 2b2 = (2k)2 is equivalent to 2b2 = 4k2 is equivalent to b2 = 2k2.

8. Because 2k2 is divisible by two and therefore even, and because 2k2 = b2, it follows that b2 is also even which means that b is even.

9. By (5) and (8) a and b are both even, which contradicts that a / b is irreducible as stated in (2).

## I haven't entirely wrapped my head around this

But isn't there an initial assumption that we can in fact define the number of electrons in all possible worlds asa finite number (your N)? If we instead accept that this number is infinite, then we can't perform the operation 2^N-1. (Or at least we can't compare the result to N and say that one is or is not bigger than the other when dealing with infinite numbers - it's a meaningless phrase in that context). There are weird things happen with infinities in advanced maths that might come into play here though.

## I don't know what your knowledge of maths is

but Lewis assumes that N is "some large infinite cardinal", cardinals basically being ordered infinities (which are in fact the direct result of set theory, so they can very much be subject to set theoretic operations). So yes, N is infinite, but this doesn't prohibit us saying that 2^N - 1 is larger than it.

Indeed, it's a paradox which can be extended to set theory in general (naive set theory, anyway). Unfortunately, that's where my knowledge runs out. I know that there have been efforts to resolve the paradox, but I don't know them well enough to apply them to this possible world situation. Not that it really matters, since I still don't have any particular desire to do so, because I still don't see what serious implications the paradox has.

## Ah, I think this will go a bit above my head then

We're into the realm of "maths I know exists but don't really know much about" when you start talking about ordering infinities and such, so I'll bow to your superior knowledge. Sounds dead interesting though, I might go and look it up when I've got some time. Cheers!

## No because in mathematical terms infinity times x is still infinity

Its was a term in some electical engineering stuff I did in high school, which was wierd.

So in your discussion 2xN -1 moves to N-1 if N is infinity.

## It's not 2 times N

It's 2 to the power of N.

## The point still stands

2^N would still equal infinity if N is infinity

## It would be *an* infinity

Not the same infinity. 'Lewis assumes that N is "some large infinite cardinal", cardinals basically being ordered infinities (which are in fact the direct result of set theory, so they can very much be subject to set theoretic operations). So yes, N is infinite, but this doesn't prohibit us saying that 2^N - 1 is larger than it.'

## IT WAS ALL A DRAEM

## ^ that's funnier with a typo so let's just leave it that way

## it's more mathematical than straight up philosophy

just use occham's razor - the simplest explanation is the right one.

## The simplest explanation of what?

## i guess

in this case, the simplest explanation would be that there aren't an infinite number of possible worlds and therefore not everything possible. occham's razor would dictate that if you have to keep adding a new world every time you think of a new possible variant, then your argument is flawed as it would be simpler to say that these possible worlds don't exist.

i've not done philosophy for about three years but i think that's 'right'. good thread anyhow.

## There are three possible flaws, as far as I can see it

1) That recombination isn't a valid way of accounting for all possible worlds.

2) The number of possible worlds is such that power sets cannot be generated from it.

3) It is not possible to collect all the possible worlds.

I guess Occam's razor could be applied in the sense that accepting the first of these only has implications for possible world theory, whereas accepting either of the second two would have implications for mathematics, and in turn implications for possible world theory that we cannot hope to truly understand. Thus, we should accept the first.

## Shut up zapsta

you're giving us philosophy students a bad name. continental philosophy is where its at anyway.

## Now *that* I'm happy to dismiss as a pisstake

## In case anyone's interested in my current thoughts on this, they are as follows:

Modal necessity, under Lewis's possible worlds model, is defined as truth in all possible worlds. So, for example, if it is *necessary* that the sky is blue, it must be blue in all possible worlds (which it isn't because, by the principle of recombination, we can combine the individual "sky" with any colour property we so wish; therefore it is simply contingent). If it is unreasonable to talk about all the possible worlds, however, it must also be unreasonable to talk about what holds in all the possible worlds. Therefore our definition of necessity is found to be meaningless and all talk of possible worlds is found to be useless (since its purpose is to provide the opportunity for clear analysis of the concept of necessity and possibility).

Still though, I'm not sure that this matters, since we can surely talk about "allness" as a property in itself, without having any specific details about what this allness might consist of. I could talk about all the Premiership footballers for example - I could say that I think they should all donate a week's wages to charity each season. I don't really have a firm idea of how many Premiership footballers there are, but that doesn't mean my sentiment is hollow, because I know what "all of them" means in spite of this.

Clearly this isn't an entirely analogous case, because while I simply don't know how many Premiership footballers there are, I not only don't know how many possible worlds there are, I know that there can be no reasonably defined number. How about an unreasonably defined number, though? When Gregory Cantor first encountered this problem in his set theory (that there is no way to define the set of infinities), he put forward the notion of an absolute infinity. Along with various other properties, this absolute infinity had the main properties of (1) being too large to generate from smaller infinities (such as our N or our 2^N - 1) and (2) being the number of smaller infinities, i.e. defining how many smaller infinities there are. If we say this is how many possible worlds we have, it may prevent us from knowing any of the properties our possible world universe has in its capacity as a single entity, but it nonetheless allows us to talk about "all of it" without being meaningless, and this (as far as I can tell) is the only thing that really matters.

## WE CAN DO THIS, GANG

The key to philosophical progress is discussion.

## Not sure I agree with the conclusion

In your easy example (ABC) the "big" world has 3 electrons (A+B+C) the other worlds have the combinations of A, B, C, A and B, A and C, B and C. Which actually goes to 2^N -2 as both the empty world and the "big" world are discounted.

The number of electrons in the smaller worlds totalls to 9. Which is larger than the 3 found in the big world, yet there exists no problem as the amalgam of all possible worlds is not to do with sheer number, but in combinations through the logic you have used above. The ABC covers all the potential combinations.

## To go a little further,

Surely if your "big" world is looking at a summation of all possible electons, then the ABC analogy doesn't work. The ABC discusses variation whereas you seem to be talking about ALL electons as opposed to all types of electrons.

In this case each electon, irrespective of type would be independant and you would not be able to have A appear on 2 smaller planets.

## fucksake

i quit philosophy, if this is it.

## The big world is considered to be a variant of itself

As for the second part, your misunderstanding the concept of duplication, I think. (Probably my fault - I haven't really explained it.) But anyway, the number of electrons *is* important. Recombination also applies to numbers. So, by recombination, we realise a blue swan is possible, but recombination is also the policy that makes us realise a world with 2 blue swans is possible, or 3 blue swans, or a million blue swans, since a blue swan can be combined with another blue swan just as easily as the property "blue" can be combined with the individual "swan". Perhaps to make it clearer, recombination allows a world in which there is an unlimited number of Mr_Mills, all nominally identical.

## I don't see a paradox

It seems to me that either; the big world is not actually an amalgamation, but is just a varient world. Or Electron A from a world with just electrons As is somehow different to electron A from a World with electron A and Bs.

## As I said further up

Okay, so we say we didn't have all possible worlds after all and we add our new variant worlds. And then we repeat the process and realise that we still didn't have all possible worlds. So we do it again. And again. And again. And we realise that whatever we want to choose as our class of all possible worlds cannot in fact be a class of all possible worlds, because this will always apply. Hence the conclusion: it is impossible to talk about a collection of all possible worlds.

As for the second part, I think it misrepresents the policy of recombination (and duplication, specifically), but even if it didn't, I don't see how it would solve anything.

## Why don't we just say

we did have all possible worlds? Just as fair to assume that, no?

I know it is simplifying matters but using your example of three electrons, we can see that we do have all possible worlds.

## I don't see how my example shows that

## Your example shows an example of an imalgamation world with three electrons

Surely that world, as an amalgamation, contains the three electrons as well as all possible combinations. If it does not, then it is not an amalgamation. If it does, then the rest is irrelevant and the concluson drawn wrong.

## example

example

## I was just using the 3 electron world as a demonstration of how variant worlds are developed

If the big the world contains three electrons, and it's supposed to be an amalgamation of all possible worlds, the implication is that there are 3 possible worlds of 1 electron each, *or* there are 2 possible worlds (of 1 electron and 2 electrons), *or* there is only one possible world, consisting of 3 electrons.

Now if you take into account the principle of recombination, it is clearly not the case that those are all the possible worlds, but if we say "Right, this 3 electron entity *is* an amalgamation of all the possible worlds - recombination to create further possible worlds isn't allowed", then that is what our 3 electron world represents.

## This is why people think philosophy is a joke

there is no logic to it. It's just some chap making up rules and laws that ammount to absolutely nothing, just so he can have an argument with himself.

The argument is...

We've designed a world that we know can not possibly be an amalgamtion of all worlds, because we've invented this thing called recomboination. Let's just call it an amalgamtion of all worlds anyway.

Now, if we consider this thing called recombination, we can take the amalagamtion world, mix it up, and give ourselves a whole set of worlds.

Blow me down, if we add up all the new variety, we find we have more than we started with!

It's absurd, there is no paradox.

## You're missing the point!

The very point of the argument is to show that considering possible worlds as recombinations cannot be consistent with our other beliefs.

Look, start from the beginning: There's a problem of modality. Modality is the philosophy of necessities and possibilities. The most basic approach to defining necessity and possibility is to say, anything that is necessary is analytic. An analytic statement is one which contains its truth within it, rather than in the outside world. For example, "All bachelors are unmarried" is an analytic statement; you don't need to go out and look at all the bachelors in the world to see if they are unmarried because the unmarried-ness of a bachelor is part of its definition. Therefore, "All bachelors are unmarried" is necessarily true.

"All bachelors are tall" on the other hand - if it were true - would only be contingently true, i.e. you *would* need to go out and see all the bachelors in the world to ascertain whether it were true or not. And since it would only be contingent, "All bachelors are short" would be possible, even though it would not be true.

This is the most intuitive way to look at it. Unfortunately, if we attempt to analyse possibilities and necessities in this way, we run into difficulties (which I won't go into here, but hopefully you'll take my word for it). Thus, philosophers have spent the last 100 years or so attempting to find a new way to analyse possibilities and necessities.

Lewis's solution was to suggest that there are concrete possible worlds, in some of which all possibilities occur and in all of which all necessities occur. For this to be a workable way to analyse modalities though, we need our possible worlds to be more rigorously defined. How many possible worlds are there, for example? The most intuitive way to answer this is perhaps to say "If we can imagine a world, it is possible". But that is unsatisfactory - there are impossible things which are just as imaginable as possible things. The example Lewis uses is the construction of regular polygons with many sides. A regular 18-sided polygon (I think - may have the number of sides wrong) can be constructed using a ruler and compass. As such, it is possible, and if anything which is possible can be imagined, then the construction of a regular 18-sided polygon can be imagined. You would think, therefore, that the construction of a regular 19-sided polygon can also be imagined. The construction of a regular 19-sided polygon is not possible, however. Thus we can imagine things which are impossible.

So Lewis needs an alternative, and he proposes the policy of recombination. The argument I have presented, however, shows that an assumption that recombination is a valid way of describing possible worlds creates a paradox, and it can therefore not be valid.

## Correct me if I'm wrong, but

isn't this more a mathematical problem than a philosophical one? Or at best a problem of logic (mathematical logic), specifically "set theory"?

E.g. I can raise all kinds of objections (semantic and metaphysical) to the starting assumptions, but none of these would do anything to the "problem", because the problem has nothing to do with the existence or otherwise of "worlds", "swans", "blue", "electrons", etc. These latter are just words used to give the problem some kind of materiality, as is already demonstrated by the use of "A", "B" and "C" to stand in for electrons (or kinds of electrons).

Then again, analytic philosophy isn't my bag at all, me being more of a continental philosopher myself (albeit one who neither lives on the Continent nor works in a philosophy department).

## It kind of starts off as philosophy, goes into maths then comes back out as philosophy on the other side

If you consider the problem in its purest form - which is that there is no largest cardinal infinity and therefore all the cardinals cannot be collected - it's a maths problem, but the dilemma it creates is a philosophical one, i.e. the notion that things can exist but not be collected. "A collection of individuals exists so long as the individuals exists" seems analytic, and insofar as numbers can be said to exist, so do all the cardinals, yet the collection of all the cardinals does not.

## In that case:

the problem with the problem (in its philosophical form) is that it is premised on the assumptions that (1) all that "exists" in "the world" takes the form of a "thing" (how can one form a collection of "blue"? is this really a dilemma?); and (or?) (2) anything that is not a "thing" constitutes a "property" of a "thing" (as distinct, say, from a relation between things, or between properties, etc.).

At least, that's how I see it... The "problem" comes from the imperative to quantify (i.e. count) what may, in essence (as it were), be uncountable.

## We're not trying to collect "blue" though

we're trying to collect blue things. And red things and green things and things of every other colour, at least as they exist within their respective possible worlds.

## see, this just brings me back to the view that it's a maths problem

specifically, a problem in the logic of accounting that constitutes set theory... but I don't know enough about maths and mathematical logic to say whether or how it is a problem.

## Okay, got it, I think...

I think I see now what quakerstoy was getting at. The characteristics of "the big world" are changed mid-problem, when you introduce the duplication, such that the second "big world" is not the same as the first "big world" and there is ultimately no mathematical contradiction or paradox.

To begin with, the "big world" has N electrons, from which one develops the power set, which depends on distributing and recombining the electrons. In SPECIFYING the TOTAL number of electrons as N, you're assigning to each electron a uniqueness or an individuality. From that fixed total, you go on to extrapolate a power set, which entails multiple counting of each of these individual electrons. But if the "big world" IS the amalgamation of all possible worlds that you've defined it as, then the power set would already be contained within it, as it were.

The "paradox" lies (1) partly in assigning an individuality to each of the electrons in the first step, as though the "big world" weren't the amalgamation of all possible worlds that you said it was; (2) partly in the simultaneous appeal to the fact of completeness, on the one hand, and the principle of recombination, on the other; and (3) partly in the inescapably temporal or sequential nature of thought.

Basically, "completeness" (or "allness" or "totality") isn't a property but an event. In terms of grammar, we might say that it has a completed aspect. Likewise, recombination isn't a principle but a process; its aspect is continuing. Accordingly, the problem begins by posited a (completed) completeness or totality, and then subjecting it to the continuing process of recombination, which, since it's something that happens _after_ the completion of completeness, inevitably shows up completeness as incomplete. When the process of recombination is momentarily paused, so to speak, completeness is able to take place once again, but the cycle begins all over again when we subject that event-bound completeness to the endless process of recombination.

Ergo, "It is impossible to talk about a collection of all possible worlds", if recombination is granted the status of principle, i.e. as something that can be applied to the outcomes of recombination.

## I don't see how this isn't an argument against the concept of proof by contradiction in general

You could single-handedly bring down the whole world of mathematics here.

## It's nonsense

It's like saying 123 is the biggest number in the world ever...

But hang on, we can break 123 down to 1, 2, 3, 12, 13, 23 and 123. Yet when we add it all up, the sum is 177.

So maybe 177 is the biggest number ....

I could set up any paradox I wanted if I could define everything myself and give each definition two meanings.

## How do you feel about the proof of the irrationality of root 2?

## Neutral

Haven't heard much about it in nearly a decade.

## Digf

## Different situation anyway

irrationality of root 2 assumes something general, that root 2 is a rational number and the proof is entirely consistent.

This swans stuff firstly assumes something specific and then introduces fluffy laws essentially just to contadict the original assumption.

## All we're talking about here is that the complete collection of possible worlds has N electrons

You think that's too specific? How would you make it more general? N particles, perhaps? It doesn't change the problem in any way.

And we introduce nothing *but* assumptions. That the policy of recombination is valid: that is an assumption. That the complete collection of possible worlds has N electrons: that is an assumption. And that the N is a number such that set theoretic operations can be applied to it (which, according to any conventional set theory, is ANY number) is an assumption. I imagine the part of that you have a problem with is the recombination, but that isn't introduced - it's the very subject of our analysis!

## I've definitely contradicted myself in there

but I think the point is made well enough nonetheless.

## Homework for extra credit:

Find the contradiction.

## I hope that doesn't cause my house to collapse too

## Hm. I've now tracked this down on the web

Seems the problem you've put forward is Forrest and Armstrong's argument against Lewis' thesis, am I right?

In "On the Plurality of Worlds" (p.101), Lewis dismisses their argument by saying that he qualifies the principle of recombination by saying "size and shape permitting". He can do that, I guess, because he's putting forth a metaphysics, i.e. cashing out his counter-part theory with some ontology, but it's hardly a satisfying response to the "paradox".

## Yeah, I know his response

It's stupid. If you read what he says earlier on though, it almost seems like he *wants* the paradox to be an issue. Even without it, he insists on "size and shape permitting" because "without it, the principle [of recombination] would deliver proofs that there are very large spacetimes, since if we had a class of more than continuum many possible individuals, they could not be copied into any merely continuum-sized spacetime; however 'it seems very fish if we begin with a principle that is meant to express plentitude about how spacetime might be occupied, and we find our principle transforming itself unexpectedly so as to yield consequences about the possible size of spacetime itself.'" (The lengthy bit at the end in double quotes is him quoting himself from an earlier chapter.)

I don't see anything "fishy" about it at all, and even if I did, it would in no way be an acceptable reason to instigate a policy of "size and shape permitting". So it's almost like a sigh of relief from him because he now has a decent reason not to live with his unease. Which wouldn't be an issue if it wasn't still a rubbish idea.

This is how he imagines the policy working: mathematics develops possible models of spacetime, each with different manifolds - "A restriction to four-dimensional, or to seventeen-dimensional, manifolds looks badly arbitrary; a restriction to finite-dimensional manifolds looks much more tolerable. Maybe this is too much of a restriction, and disqualifies some shapes and sizes of spacetime that we would firmly believe to be possible. If so, then I hope there is some equally natural break a bit higher up: high enough to make room for all the possibilities we really need to believe in, but enough of a natural break to make it not intolerably ad hoc as a boundary."

Now I have two quite serious grievances with this. The first is, he's basically saying that, if there *is* a natural break, then that will be because of possible worlds. That's just exceptionally arrogant. Secondly, if a mathematician tells me that certain spacetimes are possible while a philosopher with his stupid theory of possible worlds tells me they're not, I'm going to defer to the mathematician, thanks.

## You may find it difficult (and it indeed may be difficult at a degree level)

What use is it tho?

In society its surely a luxuary subject. Doctors, engineers, scientits thats what we need.

And besides difficulty can be manipulated in "soft" subjects.

## We need some scientists

Not all scientists. Nor do we need historians, journalists, most mathematicians... Basically, any degree which cannot be construed as training for a role required for the ultimate survival of society can fuck right off.

Your initial post was saying that despite being difficult it is still thought of as a micky mouse subject.

I was trying to say that the difficulty level is not why people think its a pisstake.

## That may be your opinion

but I don't think it is the generally held one.

## So you think that people only look down on philosiphy because they think its easy

Thats what I read into your initial post

## Yes

That is what I think. People have this idea that philosophers just sit around, plucking theories out of nowhere and leaving it at that.

## ....

....

## just to clarify the above post

that wasn't an ellipsis of approval, that was an ellipsis of "damn that's retarded"

## It's "science" for people who can't handle evidence.

A subject designed to make people feel clever.

## In that case

it's spectacularly failed in its purpose.

## Out of interest,

why did you want to do philosophy?

## I wanted to be able to express myself in a more creative manner than maths would allow

but at the same time, didn't want to get bogged down with essays and reading. Maths + philosophy = good combination

## Philosophy is an activity, not a subject.

## As Nietzsche might say,

I replied to a post that referred to it as a subject, therefore it IS a subject.

## Why would neitzsche say that?

what you on about?

## Why not?

Ignoring the fact he's dead.

## I always thought it was a fairly respected subject

much more so than most humanities and social sciences, just not that useful for anything

## philosophy is not easy

if it was i wouldn't like it

## The biggest problem here is that most people don't really know what philosophy is.

As a subject, I mean. That somebody up there actually said it requires *less* independent thinking than in other humanities - no. Just no. History, English, and so on, all require massive amounts of research and sourcing, constructing arguments around other peoples' - you cannot escape context. Philosophy, by contrast, deals with things on such a more fundamental level that it necessarily requires jumping off into the deep end in essay work and thinking entirely independently. The people who are most dismissive of it as a subject, I find, tend to be those who misunderstand what it is the most.

To be slightly more material about it all, it's seen as such a good degree by employers because it trains students to be extremely analytical, capable of analysing situations from all angles and assessing evidence and proofs more rigorously than other humanities. It's pretty much a degree in thinking well, and that it has one of the higher employment levels of the humanities reflects this.

## Out of curiosity what is the general job destinations for philosiphy grads?

## All over the place, I believe.

Like most humanities subjects. Journalism, advertising, law, management, business, finance, etc. etc.

## Although right now, the dole.

## But surely the analysis angles and proofs are by your description being generated by yourself

As there is no evidence for some of the concepts being described.

## But there is evidence.

Either a priori or a posteriori. Philosophers don't just pluck stuff from thin air - it takes fundamental things that must necessarily be true and extrapolates them further. That this often leads to what seem bizarre or ridiculous conclusions says more about the human capacity to act illogically than anything else.

## ...

Lots of stuff going on in this thread

I dont know anyone who does philosophy. I cant say im too bothered.

## I don't know anyone who does medical sciences

because it's not a real subject. TOUCHÉ, ZAPSTA. TOUCHÉ.

## ...

:D

FIRE WITH FIRE

In other news. I really want to become a fireman.

## My homie was studying philosphy and recently graduated from Durham

he did the best in his year and got a load of honours and shit, but not only that he was getting cheques in the mail and got sent about £300 plus loads of other stuff. It must be rediculously solid for that kind of gift parade!!

## Comic Book Guy Voice:

Worst...thread...ever.

## Don't be bitter

## I'm not bitter. I just don't care for bullshit.

I don't care to hear it, and I don't care to speak it.

## I'm sure you don't need telling that you could have fooled me

## You're doing it again.

## Hold on a minute, if you're going to come into my thread, specifically to have a go

you can't really deny me the right to respond. From this point onward, are you just going to dismiss me with "Hey look, Zapsta's being argumentative again!" every time I call bullshit on you?

## Zapsta in being delusional and making shit up again SHOCKER.

I'm not denying you anything man. You can have anything you want. At Alice's Restaurant. And on DiS.

## A few people I know are doing it at uni in a month or so

Both mildly intelligent massive dossers. They perceive it to be pretty easy going. I got U's for my essays consistently when I did it at A level though, I'd say it's pretty hard (tedious).

## Philosophy?

Why?

What can you do with a degree in philosophy, except become a philosophy teacher?

Aren't we all philosophers, to some degree?

Space Cowboys riding the rock of flashing inspiration toward a supernova of unconscious awakening?

## people in not using university for vocational training shocker

## Predictable sarcastic remark ending with the word 'shocker' shocker

I could get used to it.

A philosophy degree don't pay the phone bill, toots.

## congratulations you missed the point

## No, I got your point.

But it was shit so I chose to ignore it. There's a difference. Thank you for missing that difference.

## Re: jobs, mainly the same things that someone with a degree in English can do

As proslo has already said, philosophy is more a degree in analytic thought than it is a degree in the material studied, and that skill is going to be of interest to numerous employers.

## Thank you, Zapsta, for answering my question in a polite and warm manner.

Lazerlife, learn something from this young man.

## ask a stupid question..

## I don't ask anything of you except that you realize your mistakes

and make every effort you can to learn from them.

## arghhhh man i am getting so freakin owned right here

dude's burning posts i haven't even typed yet fffffuuuckkkkkkk

## Yes. Quite.

Are we done with our little interaction here?

## LOL

Keeps my feet on the ground.

## I love Philosophy

coz I'm well deep innit.

## nah

no well-established subject is any more difficult (on an intellecual level) than any other. I'd think the only exceptions come where you get subjects which very few of the most able people ever go into and which are shunned by high-level university research, because then the expectations and development of the subject are so much less.

## Actually this is bollocks.

Give me the most difficult philosophical question ever Zapsta, and I'll still answer it in two paragraphs. Easy

## Can I retract this.

I wasn't thinkin clearly...

## Fair play to you zapsta

Although I shouldn't complain, past few years I've started properly regretting not doing a combination of philosophy/physics at university. Seems to me they contain the most interesting questions, although I'd probably have done quite badly.

As for the paradox, I don't know. I can't help but feel that there is a conjuring trick in one of the premises that I can't see, something to do with the fact that recombination might be said to be a property in itself.

## C'mon...philosophy is a fuckin' cake walk.

I won a nice bundt the other day.

## I've been doing some intense philosophical study recently:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundt

## Starting to get a bit tired of your personal vendetta, to be honest

## Don't spare my feelings man.

Tell me what's really on your mind.

## Ain't no vendetta.

I love you baby.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmQVWH9u8Xo