Diamond's Animals with Wheels   2015  JPG  "Why did evolution not anticipate the most important element of human transportation, the wheel? [...] Let us evaluate a [...] hypothetical wheeled animal" - Jared Diamond, "The Biology of the Wheel", 1983

Diamond's Animals with Wheels

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"Why did evolution not anticipate the most important element of human transportation, the wheel? [...] Let us evaluate a [...] hypothetical wheeled animal" - Jared Diamond, "The Biology of the Wheel", 1983

  Eddington's Two Tables   2015  JPG  "There are duplicates of every object about me — two tables, two chairs, two pens. [...] One of them has been familiar to me from earliest years. It is a commonplace object of that environment which I call the world. How shall I describe it? It has extension; it is comparatively permanent; it is coloured; above all it is  substantial .   [...]. Table No. 2 is my scientific table, [which] is mostly emptiness. Sparsely scattered in that emptiness are numerous electric charges rushing about with great speed; but their combined bulk amounts to less than a billionth of the bulk of the table itself. [...] There is nothing  substantial  about my second table. It is nearly all empty space." - Arthur Stanley Eddington,  The Nature of the Physical World ,   1929

Eddington's Two Tables

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"There are duplicates of every object about me — two tables, two chairs, two pens. [...] One of them has been familiar to me from earliest years. It is a commonplace object of that environment which I call the world. How shall I describe it? It has extension; it is comparatively permanent; it is coloured; above all it is substantial. [...]. Table No. 2 is my scientific table, [which] is mostly emptiness. Sparsely scattered in that emptiness are numerous electric charges rushing about with great speed; but their combined bulk amounts to less than a billionth of the bulk of the table itself. [...] There is nothing substantial about my second table. It is nearly all empty space." - Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, 1929

  Al-Ghazali's Dates   2015  JPG  "Suppose two similar dates in front of a man, who has a strong desire for them but who is unable to take them both. Surely he will take one of them, through a quality in him, the nature of which is to differentiate between two similar things." - Abu Hamid al-Ghazali,  The Incoherence of the Philosophers,  c. 1100

Al-Ghazali's Dates

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"Suppose two similar dates in front of a man, who has a strong desire for them but who is unable to take them both. Surely he will take one of them, through a quality in him, the nature of which is to differentiate between two similar things." - Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, The Incoherence of the Philosophers, c. 1100

  Frege's Wounded Doctor   2015  JPG  "Consider the following case. Dr. Gustav Lauben says, "I have been wounded". Leo Peter hears this and remarks some days later, "Dr. Gustav Lauben has been wounded". […] Rudolph Lingens does not know Dr. Lauben personally and does not know that he is the very Dr. Lauben who recently said "I have been wounded". In this case Rudolph Lingens cannot know that the same thing is in question. I say, therefore, in this case: the thought which Leo Peter expresses is not the same as that which Dr. Lauben uttered." - Gottlob Frege, "The Thought", 1956

Frege's Wounded Doctor

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"Consider the following case. Dr. Gustav Lauben says, "I have been wounded". Leo Peter hears this and remarks some days later, "Dr. Gustav Lauben has been wounded". […] Rudolph Lingens does not know Dr. Lauben personally and does not know that he is the very Dr. Lauben who recently said "I have been wounded". In this case Rudolph Lingens cannot know that the same thing is in question. I say, therefore, in this case: the thought which Leo Peter expresses is not the same as that which Dr. Lauben uttered." - Gottlob Frege, "The Thought", 1956

  Chekhov's Gun   2015  JPG  "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there." - Anton Chekhov, "Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov", 1904

Chekhov's Gun

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"If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there." - Anton Chekhov, "Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov", 1904

  Jackson's Fred   2015  JPG  "People vary considerably in their ability to discriminate colours. Suppose that in an experiment to catalogue this variation Fred is discovered. Fred has better colour vision than anyone else on record; he makes every discrimination that anyone has ever made, and moreover he makes one that we cannot even begin to make. Show him a batch of ripe tomatoes and he sorts them into two roughly equal groups and does so with complete consistency." - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982

Jackson's Fred

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"People vary considerably in their ability to discriminate colours. Suppose that in an experiment to catalogue this variation Fred is discovered. Fred has better colour vision than anyone else on record; he makes every discrimination that anyone has ever made, and moreover he makes one that we cannot even begin to make. Show him a batch of ripe tomatoes and he sorts them into two roughly equal groups and does so with complete consistency." - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982

  Kavka's Toxin Puzzle   2015  JPG  "You have just been approached by an eccentric billionaire who has offered you the following deal. He places before you a vial of toxin that, if you drink it, will make you painfully ill for a day, but will not threaten your life. [...] The billionaire will pay you one million dollars tomorrow morning if, at midnight tonight, you intend to drink the toxin tomorrow afternoon. [...] You need not drink the toxin to receive the money; in fact, the money will already be in your bank account hours before the time for drinking it arrives, if you succeed. [...] All you have to do is sign the agreement and then intend at midnight tonight to drink the stuff tomorrow afternoon. You are perfectly free to change your mind after receiving the money and not drink the toxin." - Gregory S. Kavka, "The Toxin Puzzle", 1983

Kavka's Toxin Puzzle

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"You have just been approached by an eccentric billionaire who has offered you the following deal. He places before you a vial of toxin that, if you drink it, will make you painfully ill for a day, but will not threaten your life. [...] The billionaire will pay you one million dollars tomorrow morning if, at midnight tonight, you intend to drink the toxin tomorrow afternoon. [...] You need not drink the toxin to receive the money; in fact, the money will already be in your bank account hours before the time for drinking it arrives, if you succeed. [...] All you have to do is sign the agreement and then intend at midnight tonight to drink the stuff tomorrow afternoon. You are perfectly free to change your mind after receiving the money and not drink the toxin." - Gregory S. Kavka, "The Toxin Puzzle", 1983

  Berkeley's Orange   2015  JPG  "George Bishop stared intently at the bowl of oranges before him [...]. He started by making an obvious distinction between the features of the oranges that are mere appearances and those properties that they really have. [...] But as he started stripping away the "mere appearances" from the fruits, he found himself left with vanishingly little. [...] To truly imagine the fruit in itself, independent of the mere appearances of sense perception, he was left with the vague idea of something, he knew not what. So what is the real fruit: this gossamer "something" or the collection of mere appearances after all?" - George Berkeley,  The Principles of Human Knowledge , 1710

Berkeley's Orange

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"George Bishop stared intently at the bowl of oranges before him [...]. He started by making an obvious distinction between the features of the oranges that are mere appearances and those properties that they really have. [...] But as he started stripping away the "mere appearances" from the fruits, he found himself left with vanishingly little. [...] To truly imagine the fruit in itself, independent of the mere appearances of sense perception, he was left with the vague idea of something, he knew not what. So what is the real fruit: this gossamer "something" or the collection of mere appearances after all?" - George Berkeley, The Principles of Human Knowledge, 1710

  Locke's Inverted Spectrum   2015  JPG  "Simple ideas wouldn’t be convicted of falsity if through the different structure of our sense-organs it happened that one object produced in different men’s minds different ideas at the same time—for example, if the idea that a violet produced in one man’s mind by his eyes were what a marigold produced in another man’s, and vice versa." - John Locke,  An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,  1689

Locke's Inverted Spectrum

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"Simple ideas wouldn’t be convicted of falsity if through the different structure of our sense-organs it happened that one object produced in different men’s minds different ideas at the same time—for example, if the idea that a violet produced in one man’s mind by his eyes were what a marigold produced in another man’s, and vice versa." - John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1689

  Machery's Chair   2015  JPG  "If I judge of an object that it is a chair, my judgment that it is a chair is evidence that it is a chair because I am reliable at sorting chairs from nonchairs." Edouard Machery, "Thought Experiments and Philosophical Knowledge", 2011

Machery's Chair

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"If I judge of an object that it is a chair, my judgment that it is a chair is evidence that it is a chair because I am reliable at sorting chairs from nonchairs." Edouard Machery, "Thought Experiments and Philosophical Knowledge", 2011

  Lucretius' Spear   2015  JPG  "If we should theorize that the whole of space were limited, then if a man ran out to the last limits and hurled a flying spear, would you prefer that, whirled by might and muscle, the spear flew on and on, as it was thrown, or do you think something would stop and block it?" - Lucretius,  On the Nature of Things , c. 95-55 B.C.E.

Lucretius' Spear

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"If we should theorize that the whole of space were limited, then if a man ran out to the last limits and hurled a flying spear, would you prefer that, whirled by might and muscle, the spear flew on and on, as it was thrown, or do you think something would stop and block it?" - Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, c. 95-55 B.C.E.

  Nagel's Bat   2015  JPG  "I have said that the essence of the belief that bats have experience is that there is something that it is like to be a bat. [...] We must consider whether any method will permit us to extrapolate to the inner life of the bat from our own case, and if not, what alternative methods there may be for understanding the notion. Our own experience provides the basic material for our imagination, whose range is therefore limited. [...] I want to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat. Yet if I try to imagine this, I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate to the task." - Thomas Nagel, "What is it like to be a bat?", 1974

Nagel's Bat

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"I have said that the essence of the belief that bats have experience is that there is something that it is like to be a bat. [...] We must consider whether any method will permit us to extrapolate to the inner life of the bat from our own case, and if not, what alternative methods there may be for understanding the notion. Our own experience provides the basic material for our imagination, whose range is therefore limited. [...] I want to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat. Yet if I try to imagine this, I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate to the task." - Thomas Nagel, "What is it like to be a bat?", 1974

  Perry's Amnesiac in a Library   2015  JPG  "Let us consider [an] example. An amnesiac, Rudolf Lingens, is lost in the Stanford library. He reads a number of things in the library, including a biography of himself, and a detailed account of the library in which he is lost. He believes any Fregean thought you think might help him. He still won't know who he is, and where he is, no matter how much knowledge he piles up." - John Perry, "Frege on Demonstratives", 1977

Perry's Amnesiac in a Library

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"Let us consider [an] example. An amnesiac, Rudolf Lingens, is lost in the Stanford library. He reads a number of things in the library, including a biography of himself, and a detailed account of the library in which he is lost. He believes any Fregean thought you think might help him. He still won't know who he is, and where he is, no matter how much knowledge he piles up." - John Perry, "Frege on Demonstratives", 1977

  Nagel's Spider   2015  JPG  "One summer [...] a large spider appeared in the urinal of the men's room. [...] His life seemed miserable and exhausting. [...] So one day toward the end of the term I took a paper towel from the wall dispenser and extended it to him. His legs grasped the end of the towel and I lifted him out and deposited him on the tile floor. [...] The next day I found him in the same place, his legs shriveled in that way characteristic of dead spiders. His corpse stayed there for a week, until they finally swept the floor." - Thomas Nagel,  The View from Nowhere,  1986

Nagel's Spider

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"One summer [...] a large spider appeared in the urinal of the men's room. [...] His life seemed miserable and exhausting. [...] So one day toward the end of the term I took a paper towel from the wall dispenser and extended it to him. His legs grasped the end of the towel and I lifted him out and deposited him on the tile floor. [...] The next day I found him in the same place, his legs shriveled in that way characteristic of dead spiders. His corpse stayed there for a week, until they finally swept the floor." - Thomas Nagel, The View from Nowhere, 1986

  Plutarch's Ship of Theseus   2015  JPG  "The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same." - Plutarch,  Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans , 1517

Plutarch's Ship of Theseus

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"The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same." - Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, 1517

  Bostrom's Paperclip Maximizer   2015  JPG  "It also seems perfectly possible to have a superintelligence whose sole goal is something completely arbitrary, such as to manufacture as many paperclips as possible, and who would resist with all its might any attempt to alter this goal. [...] The consequence [could be] that it starts transforming first all of earth and then increasing portions of space into paperclip manufacturing facilities." - Nick Bostrom, "Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence", 2003

Bostrom's Paperclip Maximizer

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"It also seems perfectly possible to have a superintelligence whose sole goal is something completely arbitrary, such as to manufacture as many paperclips as possible, and who would resist with all its might any attempt to alter this goal. [...] The consequence [could be] that it starts transforming first all of earth and then increasing portions of space into paperclip manufacturing facilities." - Nick Bostrom, "Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence", 2003

  Putnam's Brain in a Vat   2015  JPG  "Imagine that a human being [...] has been subjected to an operation by an evil scientist. The person’s brain [...] has been removed from the body and placed in a vat of nutrients which keeps the brain alive. The nerve endings have been connected to a super-scientific computer which causes the person whose brain it is to have the illusion that everything is perfectly normal. [...]. It can even seem to the victim that he is sitting and reading these very words about the amusing but quite absurd supposition that there is an evil scientist who removes people’s brains from their bodies and places them in a vat of nutrients which keep the brains alive." - Hilary Putnam,  Reason, Truth, and History,  1981

Putnam's Brain in a Vat

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"Imagine that a human being [...] has been subjected to an operation by an evil scientist. The person’s brain [...] has been removed from the body and placed in a vat of nutrients which keeps the brain alive. The nerve endings have been connected to a super-scientific computer which causes the person whose brain it is to have the illusion that everything is perfectly normal. [...]. It can even seem to the victim that he is sitting and reading these very words about the amusing but quite absurd supposition that there is an evil scientist who removes people’s brains from their bodies and places them in a vat of nutrients which keep the brains alive." - Hilary Putnam, Reason, Truth, and History, 1981

  Putnam's Twin Earth   2015  JPG  "Suppose that somewhere in the galaxy there is a planet we shall call Twin Earth [that] apart from the differences we shall specify [...] is exactly like earth. [...] One of the peculiarities of Twin Earth is that the liquid called "water" is not H2O but a different liquid whose chemical formula [...] I shall abbreviate [...] as XYZ. I shall suppose that XYZ is indistinguishable from water at normal temperatures and pressures. In particular, it tastes like water and it quenches thirst like water. Also, I shall suppose that the oceans and lakes and seas of Twin Earth contain XYZ and not water, that it rains XYZ on Twin Earth and not water, etc." - Hilary Putnam, "The Meaning of Meaning", 1975

Putnam's Twin Earth

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"Suppose that somewhere in the galaxy there is a planet we shall call Twin Earth [that] apart from the differences we shall specify [...] is exactly like earth. [...] One of the peculiarities of Twin Earth is that the liquid called "water" is not H2O but a different liquid whose chemical formula [...] I shall abbreviate [...] as XYZ. I shall suppose that XYZ is indistinguishable from water at normal temperatures and pressures. In particular, it tastes like water and it quenches thirst like water. Also, I shall suppose that the oceans and lakes and seas of Twin Earth contain XYZ and not water, that it rains XYZ on Twin Earth and not water, etc." - Hilary Putnam, "The Meaning of Meaning", 1975

  Jackson's Mary   2015  JPG  "Mary is a brilliant scientist [...] forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like "red", "blue", and so on. [...] What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room [...]? Will she learn anything or not?" - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982

Jackson's Mary

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"Mary is a brilliant scientist [...] forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like "red", "blue", and so on. [...] What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room [...]? Will she learn anything or not?" - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982

  Harman's Third Table   2015  JPG  "The real table is in fact a third table lying between these two others. And if Eddington's two tables provided the moral support for Snow's two cultures of scientists and humanists, our third table will probably require a third culture completely different from these two. This is not to say that the third culture is a completely, new one: perhaps it is the culture of the arts, which do not seem to reduce tables either to quarks and electrons or to table-effects on humans." - Graham Harman,  The Third Table , 2012

Harman's Third Table

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"The real table is in fact a third table lying between these two others. And if Eddington's two tables provided the moral support for Snow's two cultures of scientists and humanists, our third table will probably require a third culture completely different from these two. This is not to say that the third culture is a completely, new one: perhaps it is the culture of the arts, which do not seem to reduce tables either to quarks and electrons or to table-effects on humans." - Graham Harman, The Third Table, 2012

  Quine's Spy   2015  JPG  "There is a certain man in a brown hat whom Ralph has glimpsed several times under questionable circumstances on which we need not enter here; suffice it to say that Ralph suspects he is a spy. Also there is a gray-haired man, vaguely known to Ralph as rather a pillar of the community, whom Ralph is not aware of having seen except once at the beach. Now Ralph does not know it, but the men are one and the same. Can we say of this man (Bernard J. Ortcutt, to give him a name) that Ralph believes him to be a spy?" - W. V. Quine, "Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes", 1956

Quine's Spy

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"There is a certain man in a brown hat whom Ralph has glimpsed several times under questionable circumstances on which we need not enter here; suffice it to say that Ralph suspects he is a spy. Also there is a gray-haired man, vaguely known to Ralph as rather a pillar of the community, whom Ralph is not aware of having seen except once at the beach. Now Ralph does not know it, but the men are one and the same. Can we say of this man (Bernard J. Ortcutt, to give him a name) that Ralph believes him to be a spy?" - W. V. Quine, "Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes", 1956

  Schrödinger's Cat   2015  JPG  "A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device [...]: in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts." - Erwin Schrödinger, "The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics", 1935

Schrödinger's Cat

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"A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device [...]: in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts." - Erwin Schrödinger, "The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics", 1935

  Shankara's Snake   2015  JPG  "Māyā can be destroyed by the realization of the pure Brahman, the one without a second, just as the mistaken idea of a snake is removed by the discrimination of the rope. She has her Guṇas as Rajas, Tamas and Sattva, named after their respective functions." - Adi Shankara,  Vivekachudamani , 8th century C.E.

Shankara's Snake

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"Māyā can be destroyed by the realization of the pure Brahman, the one without a second, just as the mistaken idea of a snake is removed by the discrimination of the rope. She has her Guṇas as Rajas, Tamas and Sattva, named after their respective functions." - Adi Shankara, Vivekachudamani, 8th century C.E.

  Stevin's Continuous Motion   2015  JPG  "Descent on the one and ascent on the other side will continue for ever, because the cause is always the same, and the spheres will automatically perform a perpetual motion." - Simon Stevin,  The Principles of the Art of Weighing , 1586

Stevin's Continuous Motion

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"Descent on the one and ascent on the other side will continue for ever, because the cause is always the same, and the spheres will automatically perform a perpetual motion." - Simon Stevin, The Principles of the Art of Weighing, 1586

  Newcomb's Paradox   2015  JPG  "Suppose a being [offers you] two boxes, (B1) and (B2). (B1) contains $1,000. (B2) contains either $1,000,000 ($M), or nothing. [...] You have a choice between two actions: (1) taking what is in both boxes (2) taking only what is in the second box. Furthermore [...] (I) If the being predicts you will take what is in both boxes, he does not put the $M in the second box. (II) If the being predicts you will take only what is in the second box, he does put the $M in the second box. [...] First the being makes his prediction. Then it puts the $M in the second box, or does not, depending upon what it has predicted. Then you make your choice. What do you do? - Robert Zozick explaining William Newcomb's thought experiment in "Newcomb's Problem and Two Principles of Choice", 1969

Newcomb's Paradox

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"Suppose a being [offers you] two boxes, (B1) and (B2). (B1) contains $1,000. (B2) contains either $1,000,000 ($M), or nothing. [...] You have a choice between two actions: (1) taking what is in both boxes (2) taking only what is in the second box. Furthermore [...] (I) If the being predicts you will take what is in both boxes, he does not put the $M in the second box. (II) If the being predicts you will take only what is in the second box, he does put the $M in the second box. [...] First the being makes his prediction. Then it puts the $M in the second box, or does not, depending upon what it has predicted. Then you make your choice. What do you do? - Robert Zozick explaining William Newcomb's thought experiment in "Newcomb's Problem and Two Principles of Choice", 1969

  Zeno's Arrow Paradox   2015  JPG  "If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless." - Aristotle's recounting of Zeno's thought experiment,  Physics , 350 B.C.E.

Zeno's Arrow Paradox

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"If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless." - Aristotle's recounting of Zeno's thought experiment, Physics, 350 B.C.E.

  Zhuangzi's Butterfly Dream   2015  JPG  "Once upon a time, I, Zhuangzi, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Zhuangzi. Soon I awakened, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things." - Zhuang Zhou,  Zhuangzi,  476–221 B.C.E.

Zhuangzi's Butterfly Dream

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"Once upon a time, I, Zhuangzi, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Zhuangzi. Soon I awakened, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things." - Zhuang Zhou, Zhuangzi, 476–221 B.C.E.

  Thomson's Transplant Problem   2015  JPG  “Imagine yourself to be a surgeon [...]. At the moment you have five patients who need organs. Two need one lung each, two need a kidney each, and the fifth needs a heart. If they do not get those organs today, they will all die [...]. The time is almost up when a report is brought to you that a young man who has just come into your clinic for his yearly check-up has exactly the right blood-type, and is in excellent health. Lo, you have a possible donor. All you need do is cut him up and distribute his parts among the five who need them. You ask, but he says, "Sorry. I deeply sympathize, but no." Would it be morally permissible for you to operate anyway?" - Judith Jarvis Thomson, "The Trolley Problem", 1985

Thomson's Transplant Problem

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“Imagine yourself to be a surgeon [...]. At the moment you have five patients who need organs. Two need one lung each, two need a kidney each, and the fifth needs a heart. If they do not get those organs today, they will all die [...]. The time is almost up when a report is brought to you that a young man who has just come into your clinic for his yearly check-up has exactly the right blood-type, and is in excellent health. Lo, you have a possible donor. All you need do is cut him up and distribute his parts among the five who need them. You ask, but he says, "Sorry. I deeply sympathize, but no." Would it be morally permissible for you to operate anyway?" - Judith Jarvis Thomson, "The Trolley Problem", 1985

  Diamond's Animals with Wheels   2015  JPG  "Why did evolution not anticipate the most important element of human transportation, the wheel? [...] Let us evaluate a [...] hypothetical wheeled animal" - Jared Diamond, "The Biology of the Wheel", 1983
  Eddington's Two Tables   2015  JPG  "There are duplicates of every object about me — two tables, two chairs, two pens. [...] One of them has been familiar to me from earliest years. It is a commonplace object of that environment which I call the world. How shall I describe it? It has extension; it is comparatively permanent; it is coloured; above all it is  substantial .   [...]. Table No. 2 is my scientific table, [which] is mostly emptiness. Sparsely scattered in that emptiness are numerous electric charges rushing about with great speed; but their combined bulk amounts to less than a billionth of the bulk of the table itself. [...] There is nothing  substantial  about my second table. It is nearly all empty space." - Arthur Stanley Eddington,  The Nature of the Physical World ,   1929
  Al-Ghazali's Dates   2015  JPG  "Suppose two similar dates in front of a man, who has a strong desire for them but who is unable to take them both. Surely he will take one of them, through a quality in him, the nature of which is to differentiate between two similar things." - Abu Hamid al-Ghazali,  The Incoherence of the Philosophers,  c. 1100
  Frege's Wounded Doctor   2015  JPG  "Consider the following case. Dr. Gustav Lauben says, "I have been wounded". Leo Peter hears this and remarks some days later, "Dr. Gustav Lauben has been wounded". […] Rudolph Lingens does not know Dr. Lauben personally and does not know that he is the very Dr. Lauben who recently said "I have been wounded". In this case Rudolph Lingens cannot know that the same thing is in question. I say, therefore, in this case: the thought which Leo Peter expresses is not the same as that which Dr. Lauben uttered." - Gottlob Frege, "The Thought", 1956
  Chekhov's Gun   2015  JPG  "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there." - Anton Chekhov, "Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov", 1904
  Jackson's Fred   2015  JPG  "People vary considerably in their ability to discriminate colours. Suppose that in an experiment to catalogue this variation Fred is discovered. Fred has better colour vision than anyone else on record; he makes every discrimination that anyone has ever made, and moreover he makes one that we cannot even begin to make. Show him a batch of ripe tomatoes and he sorts them into two roughly equal groups and does so with complete consistency." - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982
  Kavka's Toxin Puzzle   2015  JPG  "You have just been approached by an eccentric billionaire who has offered you the following deal. He places before you a vial of toxin that, if you drink it, will make you painfully ill for a day, but will not threaten your life. [...] The billionaire will pay you one million dollars tomorrow morning if, at midnight tonight, you intend to drink the toxin tomorrow afternoon. [...] You need not drink the toxin to receive the money; in fact, the money will already be in your bank account hours before the time for drinking it arrives, if you succeed. [...] All you have to do is sign the agreement and then intend at midnight tonight to drink the stuff tomorrow afternoon. You are perfectly free to change your mind after receiving the money and not drink the toxin." - Gregory S. Kavka, "The Toxin Puzzle", 1983
  Berkeley's Orange   2015  JPG  "George Bishop stared intently at the bowl of oranges before him [...]. He started by making an obvious distinction between the features of the oranges that are mere appearances and those properties that they really have. [...] But as he started stripping away the "mere appearances" from the fruits, he found himself left with vanishingly little. [...] To truly imagine the fruit in itself, independent of the mere appearances of sense perception, he was left with the vague idea of something, he knew not what. So what is the real fruit: this gossamer "something" or the collection of mere appearances after all?" - George Berkeley,  The Principles of Human Knowledge , 1710
  Locke's Inverted Spectrum   2015  JPG  "Simple ideas wouldn’t be convicted of falsity if through the different structure of our sense-organs it happened that one object produced in different men’s minds different ideas at the same time—for example, if the idea that a violet produced in one man’s mind by his eyes were what a marigold produced in another man’s, and vice versa." - John Locke,  An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,  1689
  Machery's Chair   2015  JPG  "If I judge of an object that it is a chair, my judgment that it is a chair is evidence that it is a chair because I am reliable at sorting chairs from nonchairs." Edouard Machery, "Thought Experiments and Philosophical Knowledge", 2011
  Lucretius' Spear   2015  JPG  "If we should theorize that the whole of space were limited, then if a man ran out to the last limits and hurled a flying spear, would you prefer that, whirled by might and muscle, the spear flew on and on, as it was thrown, or do you think something would stop and block it?" - Lucretius,  On the Nature of Things , c. 95-55 B.C.E.
  Nagel's Bat   2015  JPG  "I have said that the essence of the belief that bats have experience is that there is something that it is like to be a bat. [...] We must consider whether any method will permit us to extrapolate to the inner life of the bat from our own case, and if not, what alternative methods there may be for understanding the notion. Our own experience provides the basic material for our imagination, whose range is therefore limited. [...] I want to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat. Yet if I try to imagine this, I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate to the task." - Thomas Nagel, "What is it like to be a bat?", 1974
  Perry's Amnesiac in a Library   2015  JPG  "Let us consider [an] example. An amnesiac, Rudolf Lingens, is lost in the Stanford library. He reads a number of things in the library, including a biography of himself, and a detailed account of the library in which he is lost. He believes any Fregean thought you think might help him. He still won't know who he is, and where he is, no matter how much knowledge he piles up." - John Perry, "Frege on Demonstratives", 1977
  Nagel's Spider   2015  JPG  "One summer [...] a large spider appeared in the urinal of the men's room. [...] His life seemed miserable and exhausting. [...] So one day toward the end of the term I took a paper towel from the wall dispenser and extended it to him. His legs grasped the end of the towel and I lifted him out and deposited him on the tile floor. [...] The next day I found him in the same place, his legs shriveled in that way characteristic of dead spiders. His corpse stayed there for a week, until they finally swept the floor." - Thomas Nagel,  The View from Nowhere,  1986
  Plutarch's Ship of Theseus   2015  JPG  "The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same." - Plutarch,  Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans , 1517
  Bostrom's Paperclip Maximizer   2015  JPG  "It also seems perfectly possible to have a superintelligence whose sole goal is something completely arbitrary, such as to manufacture as many paperclips as possible, and who would resist with all its might any attempt to alter this goal. [...] The consequence [could be] that it starts transforming first all of earth and then increasing portions of space into paperclip manufacturing facilities." - Nick Bostrom, "Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence", 2003
  Putnam's Brain in a Vat   2015  JPG  "Imagine that a human being [...] has been subjected to an operation by an evil scientist. The person’s brain [...] has been removed from the body and placed in a vat of nutrients which keeps the brain alive. The nerve endings have been connected to a super-scientific computer which causes the person whose brain it is to have the illusion that everything is perfectly normal. [...]. It can even seem to the victim that he is sitting and reading these very words about the amusing but quite absurd supposition that there is an evil scientist who removes people’s brains from their bodies and places them in a vat of nutrients which keep the brains alive." - Hilary Putnam,  Reason, Truth, and History,  1981
  Putnam's Twin Earth   2015  JPG  "Suppose that somewhere in the galaxy there is a planet we shall call Twin Earth [that] apart from the differences we shall specify [...] is exactly like earth. [...] One of the peculiarities of Twin Earth is that the liquid called "water" is not H2O but a different liquid whose chemical formula [...] I shall abbreviate [...] as XYZ. I shall suppose that XYZ is indistinguishable from water at normal temperatures and pressures. In particular, it tastes like water and it quenches thirst like water. Also, I shall suppose that the oceans and lakes and seas of Twin Earth contain XYZ and not water, that it rains XYZ on Twin Earth and not water, etc." - Hilary Putnam, "The Meaning of Meaning", 1975
  Jackson's Mary   2015  JPG  "Mary is a brilliant scientist [...] forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like "red", "blue", and so on. [...] What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room [...]? Will she learn anything or not?" - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982
  Harman's Third Table   2015  JPG  "The real table is in fact a third table lying between these two others. And if Eddington's two tables provided the moral support for Snow's two cultures of scientists and humanists, our third table will probably require a third culture completely different from these two. This is not to say that the third culture is a completely, new one: perhaps it is the culture of the arts, which do not seem to reduce tables either to quarks and electrons or to table-effects on humans." - Graham Harman,  The Third Table , 2012
  Quine's Spy   2015  JPG  "There is a certain man in a brown hat whom Ralph has glimpsed several times under questionable circumstances on which we need not enter here; suffice it to say that Ralph suspects he is a spy. Also there is a gray-haired man, vaguely known to Ralph as rather a pillar of the community, whom Ralph is not aware of having seen except once at the beach. Now Ralph does not know it, but the men are one and the same. Can we say of this man (Bernard J. Ortcutt, to give him a name) that Ralph believes him to be a spy?" - W. V. Quine, "Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes", 1956
  Schrödinger's Cat   2015  JPG  "A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device [...]: in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts." - Erwin Schrödinger, "The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics", 1935
  Shankara's Snake   2015  JPG  "Māyā can be destroyed by the realization of the pure Brahman, the one without a second, just as the mistaken idea of a snake is removed by the discrimination of the rope. She has her Guṇas as Rajas, Tamas and Sattva, named after their respective functions." - Adi Shankara,  Vivekachudamani , 8th century C.E.
  Stevin's Continuous Motion   2015  JPG  "Descent on the one and ascent on the other side will continue for ever, because the cause is always the same, and the spheres will automatically perform a perpetual motion." - Simon Stevin,  The Principles of the Art of Weighing , 1586
  Newcomb's Paradox   2015  JPG  "Suppose a being [offers you] two boxes, (B1) and (B2). (B1) contains $1,000. (B2) contains either $1,000,000 ($M), or nothing. [...] You have a choice between two actions: (1) taking what is in both boxes (2) taking only what is in the second box. Furthermore [...] (I) If the being predicts you will take what is in both boxes, he does not put the $M in the second box. (II) If the being predicts you will take only what is in the second box, he does put the $M in the second box. [...] First the being makes his prediction. Then it puts the $M in the second box, or does not, depending upon what it has predicted. Then you make your choice. What do you do? - Robert Zozick explaining William Newcomb's thought experiment in "Newcomb's Problem and Two Principles of Choice", 1969
  Zeno's Arrow Paradox   2015  JPG  "If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless." - Aristotle's recounting of Zeno's thought experiment,  Physics , 350 B.C.E.
  Zhuangzi's Butterfly Dream   2015  JPG  "Once upon a time, I, Zhuangzi, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Zhuangzi. Soon I awakened, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things." - Zhuang Zhou,  Zhuangzi,  476–221 B.C.E.
  Thomson's Transplant Problem   2015  JPG  “Imagine yourself to be a surgeon [...]. At the moment you have five patients who need organs. Two need one lung each, two need a kidney each, and the fifth needs a heart. If they do not get those organs today, they will all die [...]. The time is almost up when a report is brought to you that a young man who has just come into your clinic for his yearly check-up has exactly the right blood-type, and is in excellent health. Lo, you have a possible donor. All you need do is cut him up and distribute his parts among the five who need them. You ask, but he says, "Sorry. I deeply sympathize, but no." Would it be morally permissible for you to operate anyway?" - Judith Jarvis Thomson, "The Trolley Problem", 1985

Diamond's Animals with Wheels

2015

JPG

"Why did evolution not anticipate the most important element of human transportation, the wheel? [...] Let us evaluate a [...] hypothetical wheeled animal" - Jared Diamond, "The Biology of the Wheel", 1983

Eddington's Two Tables

2015

JPG

"There are duplicates of every object about me — two tables, two chairs, two pens. [...] One of them has been familiar to me from earliest years. It is a commonplace object of that environment which I call the world. How shall I describe it? It has extension; it is comparatively permanent; it is coloured; above all it is substantial. [...]. Table No. 2 is my scientific table, [which] is mostly emptiness. Sparsely scattered in that emptiness are numerous electric charges rushing about with great speed; but their combined bulk amounts to less than a billionth of the bulk of the table itself. [...] There is nothing substantial about my second table. It is nearly all empty space." - Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, 1929

Al-Ghazali's Dates

2015

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"Suppose two similar dates in front of a man, who has a strong desire for them but who is unable to take them both. Surely he will take one of them, through a quality in him, the nature of which is to differentiate between two similar things." - Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, The Incoherence of the Philosophers, c. 1100

Frege's Wounded Doctor

2015

JPG

"Consider the following case. Dr. Gustav Lauben says, "I have been wounded". Leo Peter hears this and remarks some days later, "Dr. Gustav Lauben has been wounded". […] Rudolph Lingens does not know Dr. Lauben personally and does not know that he is the very Dr. Lauben who recently said "I have been wounded". In this case Rudolph Lingens cannot know that the same thing is in question. I say, therefore, in this case: the thought which Leo Peter expresses is not the same as that which Dr. Lauben uttered." - Gottlob Frege, "The Thought", 1956

Chekhov's Gun

2015

JPG

"If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there." - Anton Chekhov, "Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov", 1904

Jackson's Fred

2015

JPG

"People vary considerably in their ability to discriminate colours. Suppose that in an experiment to catalogue this variation Fred is discovered. Fred has better colour vision than anyone else on record; he makes every discrimination that anyone has ever made, and moreover he makes one that we cannot even begin to make. Show him a batch of ripe tomatoes and he sorts them into two roughly equal groups and does so with complete consistency." - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982

Kavka's Toxin Puzzle

2015

JPG

"You have just been approached by an eccentric billionaire who has offered you the following deal. He places before you a vial of toxin that, if you drink it, will make you painfully ill for a day, but will not threaten your life. [...] The billionaire will pay you one million dollars tomorrow morning if, at midnight tonight, you intend to drink the toxin tomorrow afternoon. [...] You need not drink the toxin to receive the money; in fact, the money will already be in your bank account hours before the time for drinking it arrives, if you succeed. [...] All you have to do is sign the agreement and then intend at midnight tonight to drink the stuff tomorrow afternoon. You are perfectly free to change your mind after receiving the money and not drink the toxin." - Gregory S. Kavka, "The Toxin Puzzle", 1983

Berkeley's Orange

2015

JPG

"George Bishop stared intently at the bowl of oranges before him [...]. He started by making an obvious distinction between the features of the oranges that are mere appearances and those properties that they really have. [...] But as he started stripping away the "mere appearances" from the fruits, he found himself left with vanishingly little. [...] To truly imagine the fruit in itself, independent of the mere appearances of sense perception, he was left with the vague idea of something, he knew not what. So what is the real fruit: this gossamer "something" or the collection of mere appearances after all?" - George Berkeley, The Principles of Human Knowledge, 1710

Locke's Inverted Spectrum

2015

JPG

"Simple ideas wouldn’t be convicted of falsity if through the different structure of our sense-organs it happened that one object produced in different men’s minds different ideas at the same time—for example, if the idea that a violet produced in one man’s mind by his eyes were what a marigold produced in another man’s, and vice versa." - John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1689

Machery's Chair

2015

JPG

"If I judge of an object that it is a chair, my judgment that it is a chair is evidence that it is a chair because I am reliable at sorting chairs from nonchairs." Edouard Machery, "Thought Experiments and Philosophical Knowledge", 2011

Lucretius' Spear

2015

JPG

"If we should theorize that the whole of space were limited, then if a man ran out to the last limits and hurled a flying spear, would you prefer that, whirled by might and muscle, the spear flew on and on, as it was thrown, or do you think something would stop and block it?" - Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, c. 95-55 B.C.E.

Nagel's Bat

2015

JPG

"I have said that the essence of the belief that bats have experience is that there is something that it is like to be a bat. [...] We must consider whether any method will permit us to extrapolate to the inner life of the bat from our own case, and if not, what alternative methods there may be for understanding the notion. Our own experience provides the basic material for our imagination, whose range is therefore limited. [...] I want to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat. Yet if I try to imagine this, I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate to the task." - Thomas Nagel, "What is it like to be a bat?", 1974

Perry's Amnesiac in a Library

2015

JPG

"Let us consider [an] example. An amnesiac, Rudolf Lingens, is lost in the Stanford library. He reads a number of things in the library, including a biography of himself, and a detailed account of the library in which he is lost. He believes any Fregean thought you think might help him. He still won't know who he is, and where he is, no matter how much knowledge he piles up." - John Perry, "Frege on Demonstratives", 1977

Nagel's Spider

2015

JPG

"One summer [...] a large spider appeared in the urinal of the men's room. [...] His life seemed miserable and exhausting. [...] So one day toward the end of the term I took a paper towel from the wall dispenser and extended it to him. His legs grasped the end of the towel and I lifted him out and deposited him on the tile floor. [...] The next day I found him in the same place, his legs shriveled in that way characteristic of dead spiders. His corpse stayed there for a week, until they finally swept the floor." - Thomas Nagel, The View from Nowhere, 1986

Plutarch's Ship of Theseus

2015

JPG

"The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same." - Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, 1517

Bostrom's Paperclip Maximizer

2015

JPG

"It also seems perfectly possible to have a superintelligence whose sole goal is something completely arbitrary, such as to manufacture as many paperclips as possible, and who would resist with all its might any attempt to alter this goal. [...] The consequence [could be] that it starts transforming first all of earth and then increasing portions of space into paperclip manufacturing facilities." - Nick Bostrom, "Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence", 2003

Putnam's Brain in a Vat

2015

JPG

"Imagine that a human being [...] has been subjected to an operation by an evil scientist. The person’s brain [...] has been removed from the body and placed in a vat of nutrients which keeps the brain alive. The nerve endings have been connected to a super-scientific computer which causes the person whose brain it is to have the illusion that everything is perfectly normal. [...]. It can even seem to the victim that he is sitting and reading these very words about the amusing but quite absurd supposition that there is an evil scientist who removes people’s brains from their bodies and places them in a vat of nutrients which keep the brains alive." - Hilary Putnam, Reason, Truth, and History, 1981

Putnam's Twin Earth

2015

JPG

"Suppose that somewhere in the galaxy there is a planet we shall call Twin Earth [that] apart from the differences we shall specify [...] is exactly like earth. [...] One of the peculiarities of Twin Earth is that the liquid called "water" is not H2O but a different liquid whose chemical formula [...] I shall abbreviate [...] as XYZ. I shall suppose that XYZ is indistinguishable from water at normal temperatures and pressures. In particular, it tastes like water and it quenches thirst like water. Also, I shall suppose that the oceans and lakes and seas of Twin Earth contain XYZ and not water, that it rains XYZ on Twin Earth and not water, etc." - Hilary Putnam, "The Meaning of Meaning", 1975

Jackson's Mary

2015

JPG

"Mary is a brilliant scientist [...] forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like "red", "blue", and so on. [...] What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room [...]? Will she learn anything or not?" - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982

Harman's Third Table

2015

JPG

"The real table is in fact a third table lying between these two others. And if Eddington's two tables provided the moral support for Snow's two cultures of scientists and humanists, our third table will probably require a third culture completely different from these two. This is not to say that the third culture is a completely, new one: perhaps it is the culture of the arts, which do not seem to reduce tables either to quarks and electrons or to table-effects on humans." - Graham Harman, The Third Table, 2012

Quine's Spy

2015

JPG

"There is a certain man in a brown hat whom Ralph has glimpsed several times under questionable circumstances on which we need not enter here; suffice it to say that Ralph suspects he is a spy. Also there is a gray-haired man, vaguely known to Ralph as rather a pillar of the community, whom Ralph is not aware of having seen except once at the beach. Now Ralph does not know it, but the men are one and the same. Can we say of this man (Bernard J. Ortcutt, to give him a name) that Ralph believes him to be a spy?" - W. V. Quine, "Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes", 1956

Schrödinger's Cat

2015

JPG

"A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device [...]: in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts." - Erwin Schrödinger, "The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics", 1935

Shankara's Snake

2015

JPG

"Māyā can be destroyed by the realization of the pure Brahman, the one without a second, just as the mistaken idea of a snake is removed by the discrimination of the rope. She has her Guṇas as Rajas, Tamas and Sattva, named after their respective functions." - Adi Shankara, Vivekachudamani, 8th century C.E.

Stevin's Continuous Motion

2015

JPG

"Descent on the one and ascent on the other side will continue for ever, because the cause is always the same, and the spheres will automatically perform a perpetual motion." - Simon Stevin, The Principles of the Art of Weighing, 1586

Newcomb's Paradox

2015

JPG

"Suppose a being [offers you] two boxes, (B1) and (B2). (B1) contains $1,000. (B2) contains either $1,000,000 ($M), or nothing. [...] You have a choice between two actions: (1) taking what is in both boxes (2) taking only what is in the second box. Furthermore [...] (I) If the being predicts you will take what is in both boxes, he does not put the $M in the second box. (II) If the being predicts you will take only what is in the second box, he does put the $M in the second box. [...] First the being makes his prediction. Then it puts the $M in the second box, or does not, depending upon what it has predicted. Then you make your choice. What do you do? - Robert Zozick explaining William Newcomb's thought experiment in "Newcomb's Problem and Two Principles of Choice", 1969

Zeno's Arrow Paradox

2015

JPG

"If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless." - Aristotle's recounting of Zeno's thought experiment, Physics, 350 B.C.E.

Zhuangzi's Butterfly Dream

2015

JPG

"Once upon a time, I, Zhuangzi, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Zhuangzi. Soon I awakened, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things." - Zhuang Zhou, Zhuangzi, 476–221 B.C.E.

Thomson's Transplant Problem

2015

JPG

“Imagine yourself to be a surgeon [...]. At the moment you have five patients who need organs. Two need one lung each, two need a kidney each, and the fifth needs a heart. If they do not get those organs today, they will all die [...]. The time is almost up when a report is brought to you that a young man who has just come into your clinic for his yearly check-up has exactly the right blood-type, and is in excellent health. Lo, you have a possible donor. All you need do is cut him up and distribute his parts among the five who need them. You ask, but he says, "Sorry. I deeply sympathize, but no." Would it be morally permissible for you to operate anyway?" - Judith Jarvis Thomson, "The Trolley Problem", 1985

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