Plato’s “The Myth of Er:” A Summary

The Myth of Er is fucking weird. Way the fuck weirder than the Allegory of the Cave, where at least every part of the story had a clear function. The Myth of Er has sky assholes? And birds? I’m way out of my depth here. So I’m letting Ovid over at Myths Retold handle the actual retelling of this one, and when he’s done, then we can come together and talk about what it all means.

So, go read that shit first.

Done?

Okay great. See what I mean? Fucked up shit, right? But I’d say the point for the modern, cosmopolitan reader is pretty simple: the Universe has a way of punishing dickheads and rewarding chill, contemplative bros, and it’s not like it’s a big fucking secret or anything. “How was I supposed to know I had to be virtuous just because it’s literally the only thing that matters in the end?” Yeah man that’s a tough one, jeez, I dunno.

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Anonymous asked: “ASS”


Yeah bro, butts

Anonymous asked: “Dear Philosophy Bro, this bro of mine read some Jeremy Bentham, and now he says that from a Utilitarian perspective he is in the right to cheat on his girl as long as she never finds out. He claims it won't harm her and he gets more pleasure, so it's more total pleasure for the world. How can I convince him that he's still being a douche?”


Okay, see, this is the kind of question that gets me out of bed in the morning, so definitely thanks for sending it in!

Your bro’s first mistake is taking Jeremy Bentham’s moral theory that seriously. I mean, really. Dude is kind of important to the history of philosophy, since he invented Utilitarianism and all, but even then we’re usually like “And he really liked bowling, for some reason? Anyway, then John Stuart Mill took over and came up with a WAY THE FUCK BETTER version, so, we’re going to read that.” No one reads Bentham anymore, unless they either 1) need to read him for some historical reason, or 2) want to be able to say “nyeh, look at me, I’ve read Jeremy Bentham, now I can cheat on my giiiiirlfriend!”

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Leibniz’s “Monadology”, Para. 1-25: A Summary

Literally everything is made from monads. What the fuck is a ‘monad?’ Well, (1) it’s the building block everything is made from, I just told you that, fucking pay attention, and (B) it’s the solution to literally every single problem in metaphysics, ever. All aboard the monad train, which is just a regular train, because all trains are monads, WHOO-WHOO!!

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Mailbag Monday: Ethical Dogmatism


Mailbag Monday: A weekly segment that covers readers’ questions and concerns about all things Philosophy, Bro, and Philosophy Bro that don’t quite fit anywhere else. Send your questions to philosophybro@gmail.com with ‘Mailbag Monday’ in the subject line. 

— 
Rolf writes,

Bro, i got a problem

So alright, you got this shit with ethics and not murdering for no reason and shit.

But if you keep asking ‘why’ long enough you discover that any sort of ethic-based code of living is eventually derived from either

  • intuitive feelings (i FEEL it’s not right to murder)
  • or dogmatism (i can’t murder because the bible says so)

and it eventually leads to some sort of nihilism where every fucking thing is subjective and you got like 2 philosibros arguing against eachother and im like ‘yeah theyre both kinda right but whoever to believe doesnt really matter anyway cause its so fucking subjective’

Should i just pick whatever i ‘feel’ is right or live in apathy all my life?


Dude, you keep asking “why” long enough, you’re going to have waaaaaay bigger problems than, “I’m not sure what’s right or wrong anymore.” Descartes tried it, and he had to rely on the existence of God and a really fucking suspect notion of how ideas work to get him anywhere other than, “Well, I exist right now at this moment in time insofar as time is maybe a thing.” The external world, other minds, right and wrong, your memories of childhood, pretty much everything is fucked if you ask “why?” long enough. 

In that sense, ‘feelings’ and dogmatism are really kind of the same thing - someone just asserting that this is the thing that grounds morality. You have to start somewhere! But people have derived morality from plenty of places - our capacity for pleasure and pain, our ability to reason, some sort of hypothetical contract - it’s all over the place, man. It sure looks dogmatic when someone says, “It’s utility that makes things right and wrong.” Why? “Because. Because if we didn’t get utility from things, we wouldn’t have to bother.” Well c’mon, that’s just saying the same thing over again. But what are you supposed to say? What would an alternative to ‘dogmatism’ look like?  

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Mailbag Monday: Paradoxes

Mailbag Monday: A weekly segment that covers readers’ questions and concerns about all things Philosophy, Bro, and Philosophy Bro that don’t quite fit anywhere else. Send your questions to philosophybro@gmail.com with ‘Mailbag Monday’ in the subject line.

Mike Z. writes,

Hey bro, do you mind going over a couple paradoxes? Zeno’s paradoxes, like what’s the deal with them. Trying to explain that shit is fucking hard, think you can do it?

So maybe one of the reasons you’re having trouble explaining paradoxes is that paradoxes are fucking hard to explain, and that’s the whole thing about paradoxes. What is a paradox? Roughly, something that makes us go, “Oh, I get it, just… fuck, that does not make sense.” Sometimes they generate straight-up contradictions - those ones are easy enough to understand, but hard to wrap your whole brain around, which is the point.

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Karl Popper’s “Introduction to the Logic of Science:” A Summary

Look, there’s been a lot of controversy lately about what is and isn’t “good philosophy” and what we can and can’t say, and opinions on that are like assholes - everyone’s got one, and no one knows what to do about Wittgenstein’s. But I think we can all agree that a really worthwhile task is understanding the world around us, especially with science. But no one is really talking about how science is supposed to work - they’re just going around saying “Oh, science! Look at me, I’m science and I’m the best!” But if everybody is going to be using science, we damn well better make sure we understand exactly what the fuck is going on in science, right? I thought so.

After all, what makes science so great? Everyone seems to think it’s induction, that induction is what makes science so great. They’re all, “Look at all this data we have that proves that gravity is real! Where you at on the data for beauty and the soul, poets? Yeah, that’s wht we thought. Fuckin’ poets.” Except fuck that, induction is broken. We’ve known since David Hume that induction is broken, and I’m here to tell you that there’s no fixing it. You can’t just drop shit a bunch of times and then be like, “Well, all these rocks keep falling at the same speed, and we’ve been dropping them for like three hours now so obviously that’s how it is all the time everywhere in the universe.” But for some reason people keep trying to figure out how many times we need to see rocks fall at the right speed before we can assume it’s the same everywhere - “Uh, maybe if it happens the same way the first thousand times we try it, we can just go with it.” Oh really? A thousand? How’d you get that number? Did we just test a thousand different things a thousand times and they’ve all worked so far, so we assume a thousand is the magic number? Bullshit, something could go terribly horribly wrong with the sunrise tomorrow and then your arbitrary “thousand” number is right the fuck out the window. You can’t inductively justify induction, so you can’t pretend like induction is all there is. Knock it off.

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Mailbag Monday: Dialetheism

Mailbag Monday: A weekly segment that covers readers’ questions and concerns about all things Philosophy, Bro, and Philosophy Bro that don’t quite fit anywhere else. Send your questions to philosophybro@gmail.com with ‘Mailbag Monday’ in the subject line.

Matthew writes,

I was wondering if you could explain Dialetheism for me. That shit is confusing. How can a contradiction be true?

Right, so, for those of you playing along at home, dialetheism is (roughly) the belief that there are true contradictions, or dialetheias - for some p, both p and not-p are true. Which means that, whatever p is, you could ask, “Hey, bro, uh… p?” and I could legitimately respond “Yes! Also, no.”

And of course, at first blush that sounds fucking crazy. How can a thing be true and false at the same time? If you’re a Randian, you are perhaps stomping your foot here and just insisting that contradictions can’t be true, and that’s all there is to it. (Also, if you’re a Randian you should know that I’m going to be presenting two sides to an issue here, so get out while you can.)

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Robert Nozick’s “State-of-Nature Theory, or How to Back into a State without Really Trying:” A Summary

So let’s start with the state of nature. I’m pretty sure my boy Locke got it mostly right about how a government state emerges from the state of nature. The one problem is that the whole “social contract” thing is kind of a myth, right? It’s not like everybody signs the contract - like 14 white dudes signed a thing and then suddenly this thing binds everyone? That’s some bullshit. We have to find a way to let people sign up for realsies.

Now look. In the state of nature, shit can get a little crazy from time to time. You’re minding your own business farming when suddenly OH NO MARAUDERS MARAUDING YOUR FARM, and you have to protect yourself. Eventually, maybe people get together and decide, “hey guys, it’s pretty fucking rough out there, why don’t we work together? Pool our resources?” Now when your farm gets marauded, some guys with guns protect you because you paid them to do that. And if you have an issue with someone within the group, then the group just forms a court rather than fighting, so no one gets their skull crushed over some pigs eating some daisies. And maybe the group also decides on some rules to follow so no one is left in the dark about what rights they do and don’t have. Are the rules more restrictive than the state of nature? Well, fucking obviously, because rules are more restrictive than no rules, that’s what makes them rules. But that’s a small sacrifice and in exchange they’ll fuck the shit up of anyone who tries to mess with you. That’s a solid deal.

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Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems and You - A Helpful Guide

I get a ton of emails asking me what is up with Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems, and with good reason: they are complicated as fuck, but they’re also among the most important results ever obtained in logic. They’re also super clever - it wasn’t enough that Gödel was incredibly good at logic, he also had to be inventive as fuck to come up with this procedure. The theorems stand at this really weird crossroads of being important, celebrated, and complicated, and as a result they’re a part of logic that people tend to hone in on, even when they have no context whatsoever. It’s like asking what made Bobby Fischer so great at chess when you don’t know how the pieces move - there’s so much context necessary. So it’s easy for people who don’t know what they’re talking about to get away with misrepresenting Gödel. 

What do they actually show? 

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