What is Being? "To be or not to be, that is the question." Hamlet (Shakespeare)
Do you see a pipe?? The answer, as the painting tells you, is no; Cecin'est pas une pipe: this is not a pipe. You are seeing a picture of a pipe, not the pipe itself.
Being… • As you've learned, Metaphysics is the study of reality. • In this activity you will be exploring the concept of being. • But before continuing, take a moment to consider the similarity between Hamlet and Magritte's perspectives. • Is there one? And if so, what is it?
Something vs. Nothing • How many times has someone asked you what you did and you replied, "Nothing."? • Of course, you know that you did something... it just might not have been something interesting or something you wanted to share with the person asking.
But something definitely did occur - in fact, billions of things occurred (the wind blew a leaf, a car's brake squealed, your teacher took your homework, the sun's rays let you see the world, etc). • Although categorizing the hierarchy of such 'somethings' might have made Aristotle jump with joy, most philosophers would rather tackle the larger question____________________________________________________________________________________________
Usually people are fairly certain about what exists and what doesn't. • Your friends exists, your pet unicorn doesn't. Your computer exists, your perpetual motion machine doesn't. • Unfortunately, as you discovered earlier, reality is not always so cut and dried. • For example, how can you prove that virtue exists? Or that love exists? It almost seems easier to explain that a unicorn could exist than love!
A big question in philosophy is 'why is there ______________________ rather than ___________________' (obviously, if there was nothing, you wouldn't be thinking about this question)? • Later, you will examine some suggested reasons for why and how there is something. But for now, it is enough to recognize the question and why it is important.
Did You Know? • Another famous Shakespearian quote is from King Lear, "Nothing will come of nothing." Now, although he was saying it to his daughter Cordelia in order to encourage her to "mend [her] speech a little lest [she] may mar her fortunes", did you know that King Lear's statement is, in fact, not true?
Physicists have proved that something can come from nothing! • Basically, within a vacuum (meaning there is necessarily nothing there) tiny particles called virtual particles leap in and out of existence. The existence of virtual particles were first theorized by HendrikCasimir over 50 years ago. He showed that two mirrors facing each other with empty space between are "attracted" to each other. And if that sounds strange, famed physicist Stephen Hawking has theorized that over eons these virtual particles can actually evaporate black holes.
So what does this mean for philosophers? • Well, if you think back to Descartes' Meditations, he found proof of his existence; "I think, therefore I am“
David Hume critiqued Descartes reasoning by suggesting that he could not prove he was the same "thinking thing" from one instance to the next, especially since Descartes acknowledged that his memories might be false. Without appeals to divinity, refuting this argument seems pretty hopeless... • Can you theorize how virtual particles can help Descartes respond to Hume?
Note: • Think back to our discussion on Personal Identity and some of the different philosophies explaining it. We covered the following : • Western View • Lohn Locke • Derek Parfit • David ___________________as just mentioned has been is thought ton have the last word on personal identity.
David Hume's Thoughts On Personal Identity Hume argues that Personal Identity as we commonly use the term, as it relates to "ordinary people", does not exist. At least not in the way that we think it does. The key term for him was “________________ of perceptions". He defines the identity of a person as nothing more than the ____________________ of that persons perceptions, This bundle makes up the "identity" of that person. However, these perceptions are always ____________________! There is no moment during conscious life where our perceptions remain constant through time.
This differs from any regular non-conscious object. He talks about the identity of objects being definable because they (for practical purposes) stay the same through time, so that if a person were to examine them today, tomorrow, or next week, they would still be the same object. The ways in which objects ______________________________________-constitutes their identity. But since the Identity of a Personality is the constituents of its Perceptual Bundle, and those constituents are always in flux...Personal Identity does _________, in the same way, as other ordinary objects, and in a sense, could be said not to exist at all.
Ontology • Ontology is the study of existence and, within existence, what is most real. (think back to the activity, where you decided what was most real to you) • However, determining what is most real is a difficult task. For example, in the Hindu religion reality is a manifestation of the dream of Brahma. In Western philosophy, reality is usually anchored to a concept (substances, entities, God, etc). • Ontology, then, is fairly ________________________.
The question of being • What is being? • What does it mean to be? • Is “being” a thing, a substance, a process different? • What is the relation of “being” to a particular thing that exists? • These are the basic ontological questions.
Three key terms in ontology are _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ • Substance refers to the _____________________reality of something that is independent, unchanging and can exist by itself. • For example, in a monist reality (one substance) most philosophers cite God or Being as that substance. • In a dualist reality (two substances or more) philosophers generally focus on bodies and minds.
Individuals are distinct, ________________________, singular entities (for example, you, a strawberry, a train are all singular) whereas universals are ________________________ proprieties of an individual. • For example, you are tall but your friend is taller. Tallness, then, is a universal since it can be in multiple places at one time and is used to differentiate individuals. Colour too can be a universal.
Take a moment and lets create a list of 5other universals. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.