Sunday, June 10, 2012


So you've certainly noticed by now that I haven't posted anything in nearly a year. That's probably because I've completely forgotten about these blogs.

I should have posted a note like this earlier, but I kept putting it off. I'm no longer updating the blogs. I won't be even in the foreseeable future.

I will however leave the blogs as they are. The links all still work and the navigation bar on the right side still links between the blogs. It'll be open for however long Blogger keeps it up, and available for you all to read.

I may come back to it. I may not. I did enjoy doing it for a while, but then it started to feel like a second job and drained the fun out of it.

Enjoy yourselves and thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 28, 2011 : Solipsism

Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. The term comes from Latin solus (alone) and ipse (self). Solipsism is an epistemological or ontological position that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure. The external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist. In the history of philosophy, solipsism has served as a skeptical hypothesis.

Denial of materialistic existence, in itself, does not constitute solipsism.

Possibly the most controversial feature of the solipsistic worldview is the denial of the existence of other minds. Since personal experiences are private and ineffable, another being's experience can be known only by analogy.

Philosophers try to build knowledge on more than an inference or analogy. The failure of Descartes' epistemological enterprise brought to popularity the idea that all certain knowledge may go no further than "I think; therefore I exist" without providing any real details about the nature of the "I" that has been proven to exist.

The theory of solipsism also merits close examination because it relates to three widely-held philosophical presuppositions, each itself fundamental and wide-ranging in importance:

  1. my most certain knowledge is the content of my own mind—my thoughts, experiences, affects, etc.
  2. there is no conceptual or logically necessary link between mental and physical—between, say, the occurrence of certain conscious experience or mental states and the 'possession' and behavioral dispositions of a 'body' of a particular kind (see the brain in a vat)
  3. the experience of a given person is necessarily private to that person.
Solipsism is not a single concept but instead refers to several worldviews whose common element is some form of denial of the existence of a universe independent from the mind of the agent.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

August 21, 2011 : Pythagoreanism

Pythagoreanism is a term used for the esoteric and metaphysical beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans, who were considerably influenced by mathematics. Pythagoreanism originated in the 5th century BCE and greatly influenced Platonism. Later revivals of Pythagorean doctrines led to what is now called Neopythagoreanism.

Pythagorean thought was dominated by mathematics, but it was also profoundly mystical. In the area of cosmology there is less agreement about what Pythagoras himself actually taught, but most scholars believe that the Pythagorean idea of the transmigration of the soul is too central to have been added by a later follower of Pythagoras. The Pythagorean conception of substance, on the other hand, is of unknown origin, partly because various accounts of his teachings are conflicting. The Pythagorean account actually begins with Anaximander's teaching that the ultimate substance of things is "the boundless," or what Anaximander called the "apeiron." The Pythagorean account holds that it is only through the notion of the "limit" that the "boundless" takes form.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 14, 2011 : Hollow Earth

The Hollow Earth hypothesis proposes that the planet Earth is either wholly hollow or otherwise contains a substantial interior space. The hypothesis has long been proven wrong by overwhelming observational evidence, as well as by the modern understanding of planet formation; the scientific community has dismissed the notion since at least the late 18th century.

The concept of a hollow Earth still recurs in folklore and as the premise for subterranean fiction, a subgenre of adventure fiction. It is also featured in some present-day scientific, pseudoscientific and conspiracy theories.

In ancient times, the idea of subterranean realms seemed arguable, and became intertwined with the concept of "places" such as the Greek Hades, the Nordic svartalfheim, the Christian Hell, and the Jewish Sheol (with details describing inner Earth in Kabalistic literature, such as the Zohar and Hesed L'Avraham).

Edmond Halley in 1692 put forth the idea of Earth consisting of a hollow shell about 800 km (500 miles) thick, two inner concentric shells and an innermost core, about the diameters of the planets Venus, Mars, and Mercury. Atmospheres separate these shells, and each shell has its own magnetic poles. The spheres rotate at different speeds. Halley proposed this scheme in order to explain anomalous compass readings. He envisaged the atmosphere inside as luminous (and possibly inhabited) and speculated that escaping gas caused the Aurora Borealis.

In 1818, John Cleves Symmes, Jr. suggested that the Earth consisted of a hollow shell about 1300 km (800 miles) thick, with openings about 2300 km (1400 miles) across at both poles with 4 inner shells each open at the poles. Symmes became the most famous of the early Hollow Earth proponents. He proposed making an expedition to the North Pole hole, thanks to efforts of one of his followers, James McBride. United States president John Quincy Adams indicated he would approve of this but he left office before this could occur. The new President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, halted the attempt. It is possible this is the source of the (untrue) legend that Jackson believed in a Flat Earth, and was consequently the only United States president to do so.

The Nazi era Thule Society reported much about Tibetan myths of openings into the Earth. There is even a theory that Hitler ordered a research journey for such an opening in Antarctica, based on a speech of Admiral Dönitz in front of a German submarine in 1944, when he claimed "The German submarine fleet is proud of having built an invisible fortification for the Führer, anywhere in the world." During the Nuremberg Trials, Dönitz spoke of "an invisible fortification, in midst of the eternal ice."


Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 7, 2011 : Russell's Teapot

Russell's Teapot

Russell's teapot, sometimes called the Celestial teapot, Cosmic teapot or Bertrand's teapot, is an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) to illustrate the idea that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon a person making scientifically unfalsifiable claims rather than shifting the burden of proof to others, specifically in the case of religion. Russell wrote that if he claimed that a teapot were orbiting the sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars, it would be nonsensical for him to expect others not to doubt him on the grounds that they could not prove him wrong. Russell's teapot is still referred to in discussions concerning the existence of God and has drawn some criticism for comparing the unfalsifiablility of a teapot to God.

In an article titled "Is There a God?" commissioned, but never published, by
Illustrated magazine in 1952, Russell wrote:

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.