Hey everyone, Saturday is finally here again, and with it comes another philosophical story challenge. This week I want to keep it pretty short and simple since the last two challenges have been pretty in-depth stuff. You guys deserve a little bit of a break too! So I’ve decided to shift our focus this week towards ethics. Throughout philosophy ethics has always been a bit of a hot topic. On the one hand you have theistic philosophers who propose that any true and objective ethical system must find its basis in a deity (or in at least in some sort of entity that exists outside of humanity), and on the other hand you have naturalistic philosophers who more or less believe that ethics and morality are mere societal constructions created in the process of social evolution as mankind advanced into social beings. A lot of these philosophers have had mixed success in their attempts to establish effective and coherent ethical systems. For your challenge this week I want you to write a story involving an ethical system that falls outside of what we commonly experience in our lives. That is, most ethical rely on a concept of right and wrong. I want you to write a story where the concept of right and wrong is not based in either theistic morality or societal benefit. As always, please keep your story under 1,000 words if you want to post it on here, but feel free to write more!
Good everyone! I apologize for the lateness of this post, but it is Saturday once again and as such it is time for another Philosophical Story Challenge. For this week’s challenge I want us to focus a bit on social groups. I’ve written a lot on personal identity and the philosophical aspects of that, but I want to step forward a bit and look at societal identity and the varying ways that it influences our thinking. It seems to be a theme of history that different groups of people have always created some form of social group divisions. What is, perhaps, even more interesting, is that historically these divisions were generally based on family or belief and pertained to survival. People took care of their own and often fought with people of different groups to protect their land or their resources. Yet, in America today (and really in most all of western culture), we see these same divisions when there appears to be no real need for them. Think of sports teams and alma maters. Why do we create such a fierce, dividing, loyalty to these things? Why do we divide ourselves into social groups when those groups serve no practical purpose? Your challenge this week is to write a story in which there are social groups of a nature similar to sports teams, alma maters, religions, political beliefs, etc. but these social groups exist to fill some tangible, societal need instead of just a desire for societal identity. As always, please keep your stories under 1,000 words if you want to post them on here, but feel free to write more!
Hey everyone! Time for another philosophical story challenge. I’ve really enjoyed reading the responses to the last few that I posted, so keep up the good work everyone! For this week’s challenge I want to look at the idea of human nature. In the world today we chalk a lot of things up to “human nature” but if you’ve ever sat down and tried to pin-point characteristics of human nature it can be difficult, to say the least. Sure, it’s easy to say things like love and friendship are part of human nature–and they certainly are–but then we have to confront the elephant in the room: hatred. It seems hatred is as much a part of human nature as love and the desire for societal connection. I mean, if we just look at the history of the world it is filled with violence, and perhaps even more intriguing to me is the fact that most of this violence is justified by love of different things. In fact, I think it can honestly be said that sometimes both parties in a conflict can desire the same thing, but because of differences in religion or culture this common goal is never achieved. It’s tragic, really. So for your challenge this week I want you to write a story where there is some form of conflict and both sides ultimately want the same thing, but due to fear and hatred or discrimination it cannot be attained.
Hey everyone, I apologize for the late post but I was really tired last night so I decided to wait until this morning to post. Anyway, Saturday has rolled around again so its time for another Philosophical Story Challenge. This week’s topic goes all the way back to the days of Plato and Aristotle: identity. What makes you who you are? What makes anything that particular thing. How can we look at a horse and know that it is a horse even if it’s missing a leg or has some deformation? Where does identity really lie? Plato’s view, or at least the view that has been derived from Plato’s works, is that identity is entirely within the soul. To him, there is a level of distrust of the physical world because our senses are so clearly fallible. On the other hand we have Aristotle who argued that all of our knowledge and experience comes from the physical, observable world. It is important to note that Aristotle is not denying the existence or importance of the soul, but rather denying that our identity could be so completely contained within it. In his view, your identity is as much a part of your body as it is your soul. If your soul were removed from your body we would no longer say that your body was you, and Aristotle would also argue that your soul isn’t you either. A human is a body and a soul; take away one and while the other may remain it is not that person in their entirety. Conversely, Plato would argue that your body, because it is physical, is a hindrance; your real being is that of your soul unshackled to your body. Your challenge this week is to write a story that explains identity like Plato or like Aristotle. As always, please keep your stories under 1,000 words if you want to post them on here, but feel free to write more!
Hey guys, hope you’ve had a happy 4th of July! It’s Saturday again so I’m here to bring you another philosophical story challenge. This week I want to focus on perception versus reality. I think it’s a common theme throughout life that everyone views the world through their own lens of perception which is crafted by their own experiences and biases. How can we come to a true understanding of what we see and experience if everything we see and experience is interpreted by a brain which overlays all of past experiences onto it; how can there be any objectivity at all? It’s easy to say that we should only deal with facts and empirically tested ideas but even these are in question–how can we trust an empirical test when it relies on our senses to interpret the data that it yields? It seems as though we just have to accept that at some level we have to trust our senses, even though we know how fallible they can be. The problem is that this leaves some room for differences between “reality” and our perceptions. 200 years ago if you had told someone about our atomic theory they would have laughed; they didn’t have the tools we have to measure the things that we can measure to verify this data. It is both the beauty and the weakness of science; it can tell you the most accurate information that you can observe, but that doesn’t make it true–it just makes it the most accurate information available. Your challenge this week is to write a story where perceptions and reality are different from each other. I’m leaving it up to you to decide how you want to portray this theme; but, as always, if you want to post on here please keep it under 1,000 words. Otherwise, feel free to write more! Have fun.
Hey guys. It’s Saturday again so it’s time for another philosophical story challenge. I’m going to keep this weeks challenge short and simple. Love. Love is a concept that can be rather difficult to pin down; it both goes against our nature and is also a part of that nature. Everyone craves love to some extent, and it seems like a lot of people are proponents of the idea that love would solve a lot of our problems. If more people were loving and less selfish the world would be a better place, it’s probably true. Your challenge this week is to write a story with two conditions. One, the society within the story must have some fixation on love, and two, the main character/characters need to question this fixation. As always, keep your stories under 1,000 words if you want to post them on here, but feel free to write more! Have fun!
Good morning everyone. I apologize for the late post; my power was out briefly last night and when it came back on I had completely forgotten that I needed to write this. Regardless, it’s Saturday so I’ve come to bring you another philosophical story challenge. I’d like to make this week’s challenge revolve around some theories of knowledge so without further ado let’s begin. Two of the main theories of knowledge are known as Idealism and Empiricism and they can roughly be defined as follows: Empiricism believes that all knowledge is gained by empirical means (e.g. through experience via our senses) whereas Idealism is the belief that knowledge (or at least certain knowledge) is innate. Some common examples of innate knowledge would be things that are definitionally true. For example, if you tell me that a person I have never met is a bachelor I can know without seeing or meeting him that he is an unmarried male. If you tell me that you work in a triangular building I know roughly what your building will look like without ever seeing it. In our world today we are just beginning to emerge from a time period of radical empiricism where science has reigned as the only means to true knowledge; but before this there was a period where Idealism held a strong footing; where it was recognized that empiricism has its limits. It seems to be a bit of an ebb and flow throughout the history of philosophy going back and forth between these two ideas (or descendants of them). For your challenge today I want to choose one of these ideas and write a story with it as a theme. As always, have fun, and try to keep it under 1,000 words if you want to post it up here, otherwise feel free to write more.
Hey everyone, it’s Saturday once again which brings us to another philosophical story challenge. For this week’s challenge we’re going to be dealing the idea of Monism. Monism can be described as the belief in a single reality or substance. That is, at our essence, all existing things go back to one distinct thing or source. There are multiple theories of Monism that usually distinguish themselves by what they believe the source is (e.g. matter vs mind vs ‘the universe’). Even Platonism and Neoplatonism hold to a form of monism with their theories of the forms.
According to Wikipedia (very trustworthy, I know, but this isn’t a research paper it’s a blog post!) there are three basic types of Monism.
- Substantial monism, “the view that the apparent plurality of substances is due to different states or appearances of a single substance”
- Attributive monism, “the view that whatever the number of substances, they are of a single ultimate kind”
- Partial monism, “within a given realm of being (however many there may be) there is only one substance”
With this information at hand, your challenge this week is to write a story that involves at least one form of monism, either as an over-arching philosophy behind the story or as a belief held by a specific character or group of people within the story. Good luck and have fun!
Hey everyone, sorry for the lateness of this post. Anyway, it’s Saturday again which means I’m here to bring you another Philosophical Story Challenge. For this week’s challenge I want to look a philosophical theme instead of a specific philosophy, and for the theme this week I’ve chosen the idea of redemption. Most everyone should be familiar with the concept of redemption and how it works, but in case anyone isn’t I’ll give a brief explanation. To redeem means gain or regain possession of something in exchange for a payment. So when you buy something at the grocery store you are redeeming that item in exchange for some money. However, this definition is not complete; redemption can also mean to make up for the faults of something. When it comes to redemption of people this can be difficult because people are all flawed; one flawed thing cannot redeem another which is why it is commonly accepted that, as a general rule, something contained within a system cannot redeem that which it is contained in. So a normal human cannot redeem humanity, someone from earth cannot redeem the earth. You need someone or something that is outside of the system to come in and choose to redeem it. That’s why the Doctor is only part human and why V from V For Vendetta has to let Evee set off the explosion at the end. The Doctor is redeeming the world from space and time and V is redeeming a world that turned him into a monster, but the world he is making is not something that he can be a part of. Only someone who belongs to the redeemed world is qualified to make the choice to create it. Your challenge this week is to write a story that centers around a redemption story. As always, please keep them under 1,000 words if you want to post them on here, otherwise feel free to write more!
Hey guys it’s Saturday again so it’s time for another Philosophical Story Challenge. This week I want us to take a step away from the ethical challenges we’ve been dealing with and instead focus on Epistemology, or the theory of knowledge. Specifically I want us to focus on the Gettier problem. The Gettier problem comes from the Philosopher Edmund Gettier who published a short article called “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” Prior to the publishing of this work it was commonly accepted that if you had a justified true belief you had knowledge. What this means is that you hold a belief to be true which actually is true and you are justified in believing it to be true then you have real knowledge; Gettier, however, disagreed with this and posed two scenarios which challenged this idea. The easiest way to explain the problem involves a man with a broken watch. His watch stopped working at a certain time without his knowledge and 12 hours later exactly he decides to casually glance at his watch for the time. He believes his watch to still be working so he believes the time that it tells and he is justified in this belief, and it happens to be true–is this real knowledge? Gettier didn’t think so and most philosopher’s today don’t think so either. Your challenge today is to write your own short story that portrays the Gettier problem of a justified true belief being true by chance alone (making it really an unjustified true belief that is only thought to be a justified true belief). As always please try to keep your stories under 1,000 words if you want to post them on here; otherwise feel free to write more!