The Problems of Philosophy Briefly Stated

The Problem of Morality
“Certain acts are called good, certain acts wicked. Once this is understood, morality becomes a problem, and for two reasons. Firstly, it seems that if we are to call an act “good” we must be in possession of some criterion of “goodness”, and we are then faced with the problem of accounting for this criterion-where does it come from? and how do we know it is valid? (And what do we mean by a “valid” criterion of goodness?). Secondly, we discover that there have been and still are differences of opinion as to what acts are good, and we are then faced with the problem of how to decide between differing moral opinions.”
(Hollingdale, Western Philosophy, An Introduction,53)

The Problem of Permanence and Change
“We cannot fail to notice that the world is changing, and the more closely we observe this change, the more likely we are to come to the conclusion that it involves everything and is perpetual; that there is no permanent state anywhere. On the other hand, it seems that there must be unchanging elements in the world, or we should not be able to recognize what are in fact familiar objects. The problem therefore is this: if everything changes, as it seems to do, how can anything be permanent? But if there are permanent elements in the world, as there seem to be, how can they be part of a world which is always changing?”
(Hollingdale, Western Philosophy An Introduction, 45)

The Problem of Mind and Body
“Mind and body interact every moment of the day. A simple instance of mind acting upon matter is the (mental) decision to raise one’s arm producing the (physical) action corresponding to the decision. A simple example of matter acting on mind is the (physical) intake of alcohol producing the (mental) condition of drunkenness. Moreover, mind and matter seem to be so intimately associated that thought appears to be impossible except when there exists a physical brain to “produce” it. The problem, therefore, is: how are mind and matter related?”
(Hollingdale, Western Philosophy An Introduction, 45)

The Problem of Free will and Determinism
“There exists much evidence to show that man is not free, but that his actions and thoughts are determined by a very large number of influences which operate upon him from the moment he is born, and even before that moment. What a man is, is determined by his environment, the character of his parents-or the fact that he has no parents if his parents die while is very young-the character of his ancestors, the behavior of other people, the physical condition of his body and brain, and so on. Or-and this is the crux of the problem-is what a man is determined by these forces only to a degree? Is there a core of free will which enables a man to decide of his own volition what he shall be and what he shall do?”
(Hollingdale, Western Philosophy An Introduction, 48)


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