Selected Topics in Philosophy is an eclectic mix of various topics in philosophy including the nature of language, epistemology, ethics, the nature of religion and literature, metaphysics, existentialism and transcendentalism.
Some particularly interesting issues discussed in the book include
- George Berkeley and John Locke's theories on the difference between language and reality (most confusion and much conflict in the world seems to be because we use words for things that do not exist)
- Immanuel Kant's transcendental idealism and in particular his discussion of antinomies (we are not passive tabula rasas on which the external world writes but rather active minds organizing and making sense of a random and incomprehensible world)
- Jean Paul Sartre's existential admonition that we must accept the world with no telos (which naturally leads us to the truism that if we wish life to have meaning we must look to ourselves to create it)
- the question of whether there are certain timeless, objective standards by which we can judge human actions (if we cannot, and ethics is subjective, how do we distinguish between good and evil?)
- what are the limits to our knowledge (are there certain immutable truths which we can discover which are built like a pyramid with a broad foundation and each layer resting on the one below, or is all knowledge simply how well things cohere like a raft on the open sea floating around with no permanent tether)
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