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THE

AXIOM ABINGDON SCHOOL'S PHILOSOPHY MAGAZINE

SUMMER

ISSUE 3

• WITTGENSTEIN • JOHN NASH: GAME THEORY • A CASE FOR LEGAL PATERNALISM • DOES SATAN OFFER THE ANSWERS? • A STUDY OF TRIALISM • ARE ANIMALS SUB-HUMAN? • COULD YOU WAKE UP IN A DIFFERENT BODY? • DEFINING THE A-PHYSICAL • JOIN PYTHAGORAS TODAY! • PHILOSOPHER TOP TRUMPS • EXISTENTIAL COMICS

FEATURE ARTICLE

Can we support our superiority? Could you find yourself one morning in a different body?

How far can legal paternalism go?

Is Satan a viable alternative to God?

All philosophers ranked, even by facial hair


Letter From the Editor

T

his is the last issue of this academic year, and the last of which I am editor. Our own Blake Jones, of course, has done a great majority of the work for this issue, even persisting during his exams; and I am very much in debt to him for all the great work he has put into keeping the Axiom going, and taking it on to new and greater things. It is with great pleasure that I leave the editorship of the magazine to him, and hope that he gets as much pleasure out of working on the Axiom as I have - I am more than sure he is up to the task! The changing of hands puts one in mind of cyclical philosophies - those which try to draw broad conclusions about a method or trend throughout history, which can be seen in any culture or any system of thinking. For example, the concept of a thesis, an antithesis, and finally a synthesis, is oft attributed to Hegel as a characterisation of a superior method, which may be turned to any problem. The Myth of Er, pinned to the back of Plato’s Republic, talks of rebirth as a symbol of rending the just. Further, the inevitable political cycles in the same work, moving from autocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny, give us another example of the historical inevitability of cycles. The common thread, of course, is worth remembering in a rather unphilosophical way - this is the only time I will promote such cod philosophy! Everything changes, in shape, form, and content. It might be viewed as one of the inevitabilities of history. The recent break has given me some time to accomplish some long needed reading on the matter. Norman Davies’ ‘Europe’, which I encourage everyone no matter their subject preference to read, gives us a broad view of change and continuity. From the roman appropriation of audacious corinthian architecture, to the relatively recent emergence of ‘retro’ culture, continuity, as well as change, is present. That is what I hope the Axiom will go on to be - an invention, a constant flux, changing with the tastes and opinions of its Editor and writers; but all the while sitting on solid stone, keeping with its original aims until the last. May it always be a place for philosophers to talk about what they love. My deepest thanks to Blake, Miss Holt, Tom, and all contributors; and most of all to all those reading, Tomas Brown

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Contents

WITTGENSTEIN

5

JOHN NASH: GAME THEORY

8

THE LIMITS OF THE LAW

14

DOES SATAN OFFER THE ANSWERS

20

A STUDY OF TRIALISM

25

ARE ANIMALS SUB-HUMAN

29

COULD YOU WAKE UP IN A DIFFERENT BODY?

33

DEFINING THE A-PHYSICAL

40

JOIN PYTHAGORAS TODAY!

47

PHILOSOPHER TOP TRUMPS

49

EXISTENTIAL COMICS

53

CONTRIBUTORS

56

2


The Axiom

WITTGENSTEIN Words by Tomas Brown

5


Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein is famous for his incomprehensibility. Throughout his life, the man was famous for being misunderstood. Which is not surprising; on one level, his medium in his early career is a mix of succinct but unclear sentence long propositions, attempting to express momentous ideas; on another, Wittgenstein was talking about how misconceptions were the essence of all philosophical questions. There is, of course, a pinch of salt which must be taken when reading any of his work; Wittgenstein is practically a different person in his early period and his late.

6


Wittgenstein

W

ittgenstein’s early philosophy has been described most famously as crystalline, a hard and cold mix of logic and mathematics, which is bound up near exclusively in the 20th century exactness of Vienna culture and Modernism itself. Before anything else, Wittgenstein was a mathematician, his first degree being one in aeronautics from Birmingham university. It was one of the qualities that Bertrand Russell was looking for in his undergraduates at the time, a quality of ‘mathmaticy’ and ‘scientism’ he thought he found in the ‘queer german lad’ who would follow him back to his rooms. Wittgenstein wrote his first notable work in this period, finished only while in the Austrian army - the Tractatus Logico Philosophicus, a mathematical work which looked to solve all of philosophy in one fell swoop. The work divides the world into three parts; the world of binary logical facts, the world of thought, and the world of expression, loosely similar to the ontology of Popper to emerge 50 years later. Every one reflects another, so broadly, once you have the structure of one world down, you have that of all three. The world, Wittgenstein says, splits into ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ facts. Complexes are arrangements of simples; ‘the sky is blue’ for example, is an arrangement of the simple facts of sky and blue. The set of all simples he says make up the ‘facts of the world’; a set of binary facts which can have the value of true or not true and be effective. The notion of truth here relies upon the reflection between the world of expression and the world of facts; a thing is true if it paints a logically valid picture of the facts of the world as they are, like how a score for a film is right if it notes all the music down in the right tone and the right beat. Truth for Wittgenstein is however not so much about relation; it isn’t asking ‘is this the case or not, this individual fact?’ but rather about asking if the situation holds true, if the arrangement reflects the facts of the world; does the music sound right, in other words? This of course leads him to make statements about the kind of things we can say with this theory of language and this theory of truth. Can we really talk about the way propositions work? No! Because the way propositions work isn’t an arrangement of things propositions can be the subject of, persay. It is like trying to depict how the music score relates to the piece of music by using musical notation again, you just end up repeating yourself. Communication of some things, for Wittgenstein is not about ‘saying’ - it isn’t about saying that you mean things are one way and that is ontologically how they are - it is about ‘showing’ the relationship between certain facts, showing how the bits relate together which allows us to communicate. Of course, this really leads us into tricky territory for the purpose of the book; what Wittgenstein has been trying to do for us is lead us up and talk about how propositions relate to things! Of course, this is why Wittgenstein ultimately finds his victory over philosophy uncomfortable - the book is a ‘ladder’ to be climbed and thrown away when you realise what tosh it is. All this is complicated by the fact that Wittgenstein is not making an argument in the Tractatus by any stretch of the imagination; he makes a broad system of unsupported statements to do with the nature of the world, which he just expects us to accept. This doesn’t stop it from being one of the most complicated works in any language. Constant germanicisms, redefinition every second page, and a strikingly unconventional layout borrowed from Spinozia all make the work hard to read. But, well rewarding for anyone who wants to get past the first page, and especially so considering the first words Wittgenstein spoke when he put the work forward to be judged for his doctorate. He simply clapped Moore and Russell on the back, and shouted ‘Don’t worry Gentlemen, you will never understand it!’

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The Axiom

JOHN NASH: GAME THEORY Words by Blake Jones

8


John Nash: Game Theory

American mathematician John Nash sadly died on May 23 2015. Nash was notably an essential contributor to game theory and he wrote papers on Equilibrium Points in N-person Games, The Bargaining

Problem, Non-cooperative Games and Two Person Cooperative Games. His theory of the Nash Equilibrium led to him being awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994. Nash also came to

popular fame after the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind was released which was based on him. In this article I will outline the Nash Equilibrium and other aspects of game theory.

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John Nash: Game Theory

T

he Nash Equilibrium can be defined as ‘a situation where the optimal outcome of a game is one where no player has an incentive to deviate from his or her chosen strategy after considering an opponent's choice. Overall, an individual can receive no incremental benefit from changing actions, assuming other players remain constant in their strategies.’ In more simplistic and applied terms, the Nash Equilibrium is ‘a situation where a law would be followed even if it was not enforced’. The Nash Equilibrium points to a time where people would cooperate by their own choice because it has the best outcome for them. A common example of this is following traffic lights. When there is an intersection of two roads and a car is driving down each road, the cars will generally wait at the traffic lights if they indicate that they need to do so. Whilst cars can receive tickets for not following this, it is not strongly enforced for people to follow and even without it being law most people would listen to it. This is because of the simple reason that the cars would crash if they went at the same time and they would waste time if they both waited. Therefore it makes sense to cooperate to find the best solution. The table below demonstrates this with roughly how much time they would waste.

GO

STOP

GO

Ten minutes Ten minutes

No time, Ten seconds

STOP

Ten seconds, No time

Fifteen seconds, Fifteen seconds

Though this table is only a rough estimation to how much time would be taken, it shows that one car waiting whilst one car goes creates the best outcome for both cars. This option is also what traffic lights try to enforce, with GO on one side and STOP on the other. Obviously both cars would not go at the same time since it would cause a crash and time would be wasted by giving insurance details. If both cars were to stop they would then see that the other was waiting and then restart their car and slowly make the cross. Ergo is they cooperate one car is agrees to wait a few second so that the other car can go straight away - the best outcome is produced for everyone. This traffic light situation follows the Nash Equilibrium for the two cars listening to the traffic lights. Going back to the definition, here the two sides have considered what the other car will choose and how what they do is affected by that and once they have made their decision it would be pointless for them to change it. However the Nash Equilibrium can only be used a limited amount because it is rarely the case that individuals come off best when they cooperate with others. The opposing situation to the Nash Equilibrium is the Prisoner’s Dilemma. In this situation one will always be better off if they chose the option which benefits them and harms another.

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John Nash: Game Theory

Two people are caught doing a small scale crime together and arrested by the police. That night there was another crime on a larger scale which happened which the police suspect the pair were involved in, but they have no evidence. Therefore the two prisoners are questioned individually. The police offer the same choice to the two of them: say nothing and receive their sentence for the small crime or testify that their partner committed the larger crime and they will be pardoned for the smaller crime and set free. Added to this, if one of the prisoners is accused of the larger crime they will have a larger sentence. If they both accuse each other, they will both have longer sentences, but they would shorter than the sentence if they were solely blamed. The two prisoners are held in separate cells and cannot communicate with each other. The number of years in jail they would receive can be shown in the table below.

COOPERATE

DEFECT

COOPERATE

1 year 1 year

Set free 3 years

DEFECT

3 years Set free

2 years 2 years

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John Nash: Game Theory

The fundamental difference to the Nash Equilibrium here, is that is better for the individual to go for the selfish option. If the partner has decided to cooperate, that decision is fixed and since they cannot communicate what you do does not affect their decision. Therefore you can cooperate and get one year in jail, or defect and get set free. On the flip side, if the partner is going to defect and there is little which can be done about that you can cooperate and get three years in jail, or defect and get two years. Whatever the situation it is best to defect because that will always bring the shortest time. Yet if one compares total years in jail, both cooperating has two, one cooperating and one defecting has three and both defecting has four. Thus on balance the two prisoners may go for the more utilitarian approach. The Prisoner’s Dilemma is also a much more relevant model to the real world in which there is competition in many aspects of life. The most obvious

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John Nash: Game Theory

area is economics and the world of business. The Prisoner’s Dilemma can serve as a stripped down example of competition between companies and their approaches to matters. For example, in advertising the same situation can occur. If we take simplistic approach of a real situation, there are two chocolate producing companies in a town of 1,000 people. The chocolate bars they produce are practically the same and if they were to just sell both of them as they were, 500 would buy from ‘Chocolatiers’ and 500 would buy from ‘Dairy Dunk’. Here both sides would make equal amounts of money. However, the two companies have the option of spending money on advertising and increasing the popularity of their chocolate, creating a greater turnover. This of course would take away customers from the other company, so that company may feel the need to invest in advertising as well. If one chocolate bar cost £1 and adverting costs £200, the situation below arises.

A: NO ADVERTISING

A: ADVERTISING

B: NO ADVERTISING

A: 500 x £1 = £500 B: 500 x £1 = £500 Total: £1,000

A: (800 x £1) - £200 = £600 B: (200 x £1) = £200 Total: £800

B: ADVERTISING

A: (200 x £1) =£200 B: (800 x £1) - £200 = £600 Total: £800

A: (500 x £1) - £200 = £300 B: (500 x £1) - £200 = £300 Total: £600

This table demonstrates a similar situation to the Prisoner’s Dilemma. ‘Defecting’ or advertising in this situation will always create a better outcome for the individual. They can choose to have £600/£300 or have £500/£200, with the other company’s decision fixing whether or not you have the larger amount. Nevertheless, the two companies are in the best overall position if they both choose to not advertise. The Nash Equilibrium and the Prisoner’s Dilemma are two models which are both relevant to our lives. It would be good if we could live in a world of Nash Equilibriums and we could always cooperate to have the best outcome. Yet unfortunately we often have to deal with Prisoner’s Dilemmas. The fundamental difference is that we can communicate with other parties. We can negotiate to try and work out the best outcome. We are not robots who will always do what is best for just us; we can take into account the effect we have on other people. Therefore whether we are the kind of people to defect or not, understanding these two examples and the long term consequences connected to them informs us to help us make the right decisions.

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The Axiom

THE LIMITS OF THE LAW Words by Giannis Giortzis

14


The Limits of the Law

Discussion One: A Case for Legal Paternalism What are the limits of the Law? Which principle should guide Government intervention in our everyday lives, and where is it necessary to draw the line? In these discussions, we will aim to exhibit some of the key philosophies which attempt to answer the above questions, introducing the arguments in favour and against each theory.

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The Limits of the Law

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T

he Oxford Companion to Philosophy defines paternalism as “the power or authority one person or institution exercises over another to confer benefits or prevent harm for the latter regardless of the latter’s informed consent.” Seeing that this is an extremely vague definition, those attempting to use the term more precisely have, in essence, formed a spectrum with different variants of the notion used in specific circumstances. These include soft versus hard, broad versus narrow, weak versus strong, pure versus impure, moral versus welfare, and old versus new. Within these variants, the threshold above which the state should act is entirely debatable, especially in cases where scientific evidence either for or against is inconclusive. Distinction is made between the people affected by paternalist action and the aspect of their welfare that is to be affected. Paternalism’s target(s) can be divided into two categories – pure and impure – where “pure” paternalism is supposed to benefit the person restricted or regulated under the law (such as a ban on underage alcohol and tobacco use that benefits the consumers themselves), whereas “impure” refers to situations where individuals other than those who are controlled are benefitted by this measure (such as mandatory licensing of medical practitioners that benefits future patients). Similarly, theorists also attempt to distinguish between moral and welfare paternalism, where the moral side focuses on the public’s moral welling being, whereas the welfare side is directed towards improving the material, or physiological, aspect of our lives. The two often complement each other – a ban on prostitution could be made on the grounds that an escort undermines his/

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her mental health and self-respect by selling his/ her body, whereas sexual intercourse may also lead to physical abuse or sexually transmitted diseases being transferred from one participant to the other. A ban could therefore be warranted under both variants.

Variations of Paternalism

Soft paternalism, for starters, is the belief that the state should only be able to intervene in affairs if the affected individual is involuntarily misinformed or ignorant on the matter. Hence, intervention is justified by the fact that the state is, ideally, protecting the individual from a harm that he/she didn’t know and most certainly did not consent to. On the contrary, “hard” paternalism involves an action even if the person is acting knowledgably, perhaps because the state considers itself more informed or accurate in the given field and/or wishes to avoid harm to come to its citizens at all costs. Examples could include the outlawing of physician-assisted suicide or the enforcement of the wearing of seat belts in vehicles. As for weak/strong paternalism, it eventually boils down to the means versus ends debate. “Weak” paternalists would advocate a restriction of access to means through which an individual can eventually realise his end goal, if they are known to be ineffective if used for that purpose. This is backed up by the simple belief that an institution whose role is to improve the individual’s well-being would use the most effective means possible simply for the sake of maximising its efficiency and economising on time and resources. If the end result is deemed acceptable, then it could be argued that there should be nothing impeding progress towards

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The Limits of the Law

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it. An oft cited example refers to how a medical institution will advise, if not force, a patient to not use a certain drug which has already been proven will not cure him. The debate here lies at which the Government judges intervention to be necessary. To illustrate: should the Government actively prevent us from taking sugar pills to cure cancer, because it is empirically comprehending the gravity of the situation better than the patient? Should it just inform us on how they (fail to) work, explain the placebo effect and let us move on with our lives, respecting our personal convictions more than our health? Should it take no measures at all and let us research our treatment at our own will and expense? Meanwhile, “strong” paternalists pride themselves in interfering with peoples’ ends, if they are thought to not be acting in a rational way in striving for them. An example could be the censorship of pro-suicide media, by assuming that no rational human would pursue suicide without having first been influenced in part by external factors highlighting the existence or benefits of such an option. Advocates sneer at the “slippery slope” argument where the opposition asks whether it’s appropriate to potentially blow something out of proportion in order to bring conformity (such as the NHS’s gruesome advertisements against smoking): for them, the ends usually justify the means, and shocking the target individuals is the only way to overcome denial. Unfortunately, scenarios like these are highly contentious and too broad to be generalised, especially when sentimentality and personal experience enter the debate. To provide another scenario, what happens when someone suffering from a terminal illness under great pain

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wishes to commit suicide? Has the meaning of life, which is so extraordinarily unique and valuable in the eyes of greater society, been lost after years of suffering? Whose role is it to determine who decides the outcome of such an important decision, with profound personal, religious and political effects? At this stage, an observer would just have to agree that with something rather shocking for philosophy: that one size fits none and that no number of theories on human rationale can possible begin to comprehend the complexity of each individual situation.

Criticism

In our increasingly liberal western democracies, it really is no wonder that paternalist policies, especially when involving legal coercion, are often divisive. One of the most prominent arguments against the “nanny-state” is Mill’s First argument, which, consistent with his liberal ideals, is largely of a consequentialist nature. In his treatise “On Liberty” (1859), he argues that the maximum possible utility (satisfaction) arises from when an individual has the freedom to carve his own path in life, achieving his goals in the way that he/she best sees fit. Other philosophers, such as Feinberg, also utilise similar ideas of maturity, personal sovereignty and autonomy when attacking aspects of Paternalism. Coupled to this concept of rightness of action is that, by doing so, a person will be able to develop his own sense of moral and cultural autonomy, rendering him more responsible (and hopefully also allowing him to learn from his mistakes). However, this argument makes a critical assumption that does not always apply in the real world – that all humans are experts in every field that is relevant to

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The Limits of the Law

their lives. If that was so, there would be little demand for lawyers, or doctors, or teachers, or any other profession whose role it is to advise or teach the individual in order to directly or indirectly improve his well-being! Additionally, we could consider the fact that life is to short and unique to waste “learning from past mistakes” (or missed opportunities), especially when they may have a long-lasting effect on our lives and, in the long run, have a detrimental effect on out utility. Knowingly allowing others to make them, in the eyes of paternalists, is unacceptable when we have an opportunity to intervene and share our own acquired knowledge on the issue. This claim, however, raises even deeper philosophical questions about fate and if we can avoid or alter it. Should a third party be making that decision for us without our say? In response to the argument above, Goodin raises the question of current vs. future self. Under his proposition, the state should reserve the right to intervene where people’s preferences are short-lived or temporary, rather than permanent (or “settled”). According to this principle, some activities, such as the habitual consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs, induce a temporary sense of utility, which, however, is most definitely inverted as the person grows older and starts to suffer from the negative impacts of the substances, notably health issues and social isolation. By this logic, Government regulation is justified by asserting that someone’s future self would be more satisfied with the outcome if he was prevented from going down this road in the first place, if the utility lost in the future outweighs the satisfaction gained in the present. But, surely, all individuals must be rational and understand the consequences of their actions in

18


The Limits of the Law

the first place? Not necessarily, as a lack of education on the matter, poor living conditions, peer pressure, denial, the status quo bias, and a plethora of other reasons may lead to a person indulging in activities which grant him short-term pleasure regardless of possible future dangers. Since these become increasingly incurable and irreversible as time goes by, Goodin advocates both “soft” and “hard” rapid paternalist action in order to prevent this process of gradual decay from starting in the first place, which, we can extrapolate, would have a net utility loss on the individual. Further arguments against paternalism include the so-called “moral hazard”, where one party involved in a transaction is prepared to take more risks, knowing in advance that these will impact the other. Critics of paternalism use the example of someone taking less care of his property if he is legally obliged to fully insure it, as he knows that the insurance company will eventually foot the bill. Even though this does seem compliant with human nature, nowadays, this is becoming a non-issue in the real world, as companies engage in stringent checks and offer full reimbursement only under certain conditions to prevent people from exploiting the system, which links to the conditionality of welfare as mentioned above. Besides, the satisfaction gained from getting reimbursed (and cheating the system) may not always compensate for that lost during the period which your property is damaged. Finally, opponents of this public policy are quick to remind us that the state is a large, anonymous institution which in no way knows what will give you the most satisfaction. As obvious as that may sound the first time, the state does in fact know, and in a relatively objective manner (through statistics and polls), what the most important nationwide aggregate problems faced by the populace are. But, unlike many individuals, paternalists see the state as actually having the power and clout to deal with them. It may introduce, for instance, a junk food tax and public information campaigns in order to reduce obesity levels, or it may impose an income management scheme to ensure that all parents are providing as much as needed for their children in response to rises in child delinquency or abuse. Such general concerns of the electorate are therefore often reflected and (re)acted upon at the highest echelons of power, even if relying solely on a possibly inefficient or corrupt administration to cater for one’s needs is naïve, considering the fact that government policy does not always benefit the majority or address smaller local issues. In conclusion, liberal democracies have certain preconceived notions, such as that human dignity is to be respected, that all humans should have the right to life and good health, and that unemployment is a negative which should be minimised. It is also reasonable to consider that someone will gain more utility in the long term by having a stable source of income, high job satisfaction, social links with friends/family, a roof over his head, good health, and a vision for the future. Therefore, if the government uses legal paternalism responsibly as part of a public policy in order to realise these aims and deliver a higher standard of living to its peoples by accounting for all of the aforementioned issues, then its policies seem to be justified both economically and psychologically. After all, satisfaction may just equally arise from living a comfortable, safe, promising life. This series will be continued in the next issue of The Axiom, by exploring the arguments for and against Mill’s Harm Principle.

19


The Axiom

DOES SATAN OFFER THE ANSWERS? Words by Blake Jones

20


Does Satan Offer the Answers?

Do you believe in God? Do you believe in the Devil? Two separate questions which commonly have two different answers. Belief in God could come about because of the prejudices we have of the world, but by that standard, belief in Satan is much more likely and would be much more dominant. Humans regard God and Satan in two different ways, but they suggest that humans are so desperate for Satan to exist. One can say that the idea of God came about from the need to avoid responsibility, the way to control the people, the vessel for human qualities and the explanation of why the universe was created. However after all of those factors, why didn’t we think of the Devil?

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Does Satan Offer the Answers?

S

igmund Freud wrote in The Future of an Illusion, ‘the gods retain their threefold task: they must exorcise the terrors of nature, they must reconcile men to the cruelty of fate, particularly as it is shown in death, and they must compensate them for the sufferings and privations which a civilized life in common has imposed on them.’ Freud was amongst many who felt that the belief in God was something which naturally came about due to the need humans have to believe in a Holy Being. Yet he disagreed. This is used as a criticism of theism due to the idea that faiths came about because we wanted to have a God. However, whilst there may be good reason to suggest this, it comes more naturally to believe in the Devil than God. If one was to survey the world, there would be more people believing in God than in the Devil, though plenty believe in God. The Devil is a horrible figure and obviously should never be worshipped, but the simple belief in Satan is a more natural one and is a more appealing one to humans. Thus Freud’s argument becomes redundant. Belief in Satan or Iblis often comes as a consequence of belief in God, particularly in Christianity and Islam. However, there are plenty of Christians who avoid believing in the Devil and both the ideas of Demons and God come from different places, long before Christianity. All the same, the way Christians look at Satan and God reveals what our attitudes are really like. The Christian view of God predominantly comes from the Bible. Christians think of God as the All-powerful, All-loving and All-knowing Being and the image of Him and His qualities are nearly always the ones described by Jesus and other Biblical prophets. Very few Christians think of God as the bearded man on the fluffy white cloud, which is how human art and popular culture has described Him. Compare this to the Devil, whom is immediately thought of and commonly believed to be the horned red figure holding a pitchfork. Christians who believe in the Devil may believe that he is the cherub-like figure, or the serpent in the Garden of Eden, or the creature who had a wager with God, but those are not the most central ideas about Satan, even if they are the main ideas from the Bible. The more common Christian beliefs of Satan come from John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the artwork of William Blake. The view of the Devil has a much greater human influence leading to the image of the winged beast with a tail. Therefore, the beliefs in the Devil come from human ideas and feelings much more than beliefs about God do. This means that the idea of Satan is controlled more easily by what humans want and thus the entire idea is reflective of human’s preconceived notions and what they want to believe in However the most significant question is ‘why do we want to believe in Satan?’ One can take any reason why someone would want to believe in God or even impose the belief in God, without actually knowing God existed, and by that same reason believing in Satan is even more compelling. Sigmund Freud suggested that belief in God was a way to avoid responsibility for our actions. We are able to not worry about the future since someone else is in

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Does Satan Offer the Answers?

control and God will look after us. Whilst this may be something which has increased belief in God, belief in Satan is the ultimate way of avoiding responsibility. We do not need to take responsibility for our actions since they were right and good, or the Devil is the reason why we did wrong. This frees us from all responsibility and lets us keep avoiding the harsh realities of life, since we can blame it all on one figure. Civilisations can be criticised for using God as a way to control the people. If laws such as “thou shalt not kill” and “thou shalt not steal” are in place and have an eternal consequence if they are broken, people are much more likely to follow them. However the Devil or negative reinforcement has always been a way of controlling people. From a young age we were told stories of the bogeyman and the horrible things that would happen to us if we were naughty, and it worked well. In contrast to positive reinforcement, children are told that Father Christmas will reward them if they are good, but this is a less effective system. Children are not good to get presents at Christmas, instead presents are just expected at that time of year. In a larger scale, belief in God to make people do good becomes less effective, since going by Christian doctrine on the Atonement of Christ, there is no longer a need to do good. Instead using the fear of the Devil taking your soul and you becoming prisoner to him if you submit to his temptation, controls the people much better. Therefore if people were looking for a supernatural idea to control the people, it would make much more sense to go to an evil one and thus Satan is more likely to be created than God. Furthermore, God can be seen as the best and most desirable qualities we have put into an Entity. We take the idea that humans are loving and make God All-loving. Our hope for these qualities leads us to create God who amplifies these traits and helps us in our hope to reach them. Yet in the same way we put our worst qualities into the figure of the Devil. He personifies deceitfulness, temptation and chaos, all of which we want to avoid. In Buddhism the closest figure to Satan is Mara, whose main traits are unwholesome impulses and unskillfulness. Again what we fear or want to avoid is put into this figure. This is demonstrated by the different ways God and Satan are described. God is someone very close to humans, His Son lived in a human body and humans receive part of God inside us through the Holy Spirit. Satan however is a serpent, lying in the dirt amongst the other beasts, and when he contacts us it is just through thoughts or ideas suggested to us, or often through other ways in the physical world. This underlines how humans have put their best and most hopeful side into God and allowed the very worst of us to be consumed by Satan. This is because we can have a source of these qualities to blame for them appearing in us. More importantly though, Satan is more effective than God in this incidence, for rather than have a Being who can help us as we work towards being like Him, we have an enemy to fight, who we have to do all we can to be the opposite of. Ergo, regarding human hopes effecting what we believe in, the human desire for an enemy is what endures and that is why humans

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Does Satan Offer the Answers?

are more likely to create Satan than create God. Finally, it is commonly said that people believe in God since we wanted an explanation as to why we are here and how it could be done. We are said to have gone to God for this explanation, and now as science offers other reasons atheism grows. However why would we think that it was God who created us, since that has the underlying assumption that the creation of the world was a kind thing. I personally am grateful that we exist rather than not exist, yet if one was to look at the majority of the world, there would probably be a preference for the world never being created. Therefore it makes much more sense that humans would assume that an evil being in the form of the Devil created this world as a way of inflicting pain on us, not the All-loving God in order to give us a gift. As a result of this, the ancient tribe would have created demons to hate and blame for bringing us here; God would have nothing to do with it. In conclusion, whilst humans could have created God as a way to cope with whatever challenges they were facing, it is much more likely that the Devil would have been created from this. Human nature tends towards believing in Satan before others, yet this is not the case. Therefore the idea that we believe in God as a response to the world we live is invalid. If our beliefs were truly based on instinctive human nature, we would have religions based on the Devil and not God. Thus the idea of God could not simply come about because human nature required it; at heart humans would require a belief in Satan instead.

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“Man is the cruelest animal. When gazing at tragedies, bull-fights, crucifixations he hath hitherto felt happier than at any other time on Earth. And when he invented Hell...lo, Hell was his Heaven on Earth"; he could put up with suffering now, by contemplating the eternal punishment of his oppressors in the other world.� - Nietzsche


The Axiom

A STUDY OF TRIALISM Words by Tomas Brown

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A Study of Trialism

We were recently privileged enough to hear John Cottingham speak for the school’s Edmund society; but what was this trialism he talked about? Is it really legitimate to say that the mind is split into three separate parts? Does it solve the problem of mind body interaction, does it even sort out the problems that it sets out to? Here I provide a brief expose for the new awkward dualist on the topic.

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A Study of Trialism

‘N

ature also teaches me by these sensations of pain, hunger, thirst etc., that I am not only lodged in my body as a pilot in a vessel, but that I am very closely united to it.’ In 1985, Cottingham published an article in the journal MIND, tackling the two main problems with Cartesian dualism;

(1) the challenge that it is impossible for mental operations to ‘not require any place or depend on any material thing’ (2) the problem of what to consider sensations to be; are they part of the mind or are they a physical product of the body. These problems had led Descartes to some very tricky positions. He for example was forced to consider animals as having no sensations and being just automatons, because he ascribed to the categorization of sensations as a kind of thinking, and he didn’t want animals to think in the same way as humans. Perhaps introducing a third category of substance, a completely new kind of being, can avoid the problems which arise when we try to jam matter into either a mental or physical type of thing? Trialism essentially attempts to solve this by sprinting all the substances in the world into three domains. Traditional Cartesian dualism invokes the concept of body, an extended, changing, and unthinking substance, which is completely separate from the second substance of the Mind, the unextended, thinking substance. Imagine, for example, a mouse; a mouse has a body - a tail, claws, a pair of whiskers, and so on. It also has the thing which tells the mouse what to do, sees where the cheese is, moves the legs in a scampering motion and so on. This dualistic theory has a big problem; what happens to the parts of us which ‘bridge the gap’?

If I sit down in a car, there are a number of things informing me. While I have purely mental thoughts, like ‘I am going to sit in this chair’, there are a number of mental entities, sensations, which aren’t just mental. I feel the heat of the car heater, the hardness of the seat below me, I feel the texture of the upholstery and so on. The doctrine of trialism solves this problem by making sensation a completely separate substance, something which is independent on it’s own, neither physical nor mental, but acting as a separate, smaller cog between the two realms of mental and physical. Does this solve our two problems? Firstly, can it counteract the challenge that it is impossible for mental operations to ‘not require any place or depend on any material thing’? Certainly. The doctrine places the sensation as a class of it’s own, between the physical and the mental, at once relying on physical causes Descartes describes sensation as being dependent upon things outside himself and a mental event. Trialism gives a physicalist basis for thought and sensation, while retaining the central quality of dualism between a mental and physical realm - in other words, trialism gives an avenue for solving this problem which is not reliant on the reductionist methods of behaviourists or identity theorists. Secondly, can it counteract the problem of what we consider physical sen-

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A Study of Trialism

sations to be? As we saw with the animal example, this lead Descartes into trouble concerning animals and their autonomy. It is further clear that they are problematic, as sensations appear to be mental events - I feel something burn me, for example - but are actually able to enforce themselves on us against our volution in ways mental thoughts generally should not be

able to. Again, we find this problem solved; by conceiving of sensation as ‘bridging the gap’ we might see that it is a process of causation, or something that presents itself to us in ways which are completely apart from the mental sensations we have every day. This objection is, in short, a category mistake; sensations may not strictly be a thing.

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In conclusion, we find that Trialism, despite what may be a precarous position when read into the texts of Descartes, allows us to circumvent both of the great problems posed by Cottingham in the opening to his paper. I would advise anyone who wishes to engage in further reading to dip into Cottingham’s brilliant book entitled ‘The Rationalists’.


The Header Axiom

INSERT ARE A GOOD ANIMALS TITLE SUB-HUMAN? HERE Words by Richard Ainslie

Words by Tomas Brown

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Are Animals Sub-human?

It seems now that human beings treat animals as very much a sub-genus to humans, one that is more there to fulfil our needs for food, pets, sport hunting and other sorts of hobbies and uses. But a question that might be dismissed by many as the ramblings of vegetable-fuelled activists from PETA is whether animals should be treated as subhuman and below us or whether we need to treat them with equal respect as we treat each other.

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Are Animals Sub-human?

T

he central definition of this issue is how we define humanity. Do we say that humanity is having intelligent thought? Emotions? Morality/ choice? In this article I will address these options and also whether there is something else that is a defining factor that splits or unites our species. First of all let it be said that biologically/evolutionarily speaking we are of course just a higher evolved creature that is only that, just a more complex brain that can produce more complicated thought processes, combined with opposable thumbs and a more sophisticated voice box which allow us for using tools and using complex language. But when we come to the more developed questions in metaphysics and meta-ethics, this is why we might ask the question ‘Are animals sub-human?’, for while animals concern themselves only with base needs of eating, sleeping etc. we seem to concern ourselves with questions on finding higher meaning in life. This is the distinction that I would like to focus on in this article. So first perhaps it could be considered that it is intelligence which gives us our humanity and that our ability to rationalise and logically reason gives us the superior aspect. At first it does seem that this facet that has given us technology, mastery of the natural world and all our infrastructure seems like something that elevates us. However, we have seen over the years that animals display intelligence or intelligence-like behaviour. The example that is a key in this is the famous Koko the gorilla who learned a reported 1000 signs and was able to converse, admittedly fairly basically, seem emotive and display greater capacity for relating ideas than monkeys had before. Koko not only could interact with her owner and strangers but she could mention in ‘conversation’ objects that were absent (displacement), recognise herself in a mirror, report memories she has, talk about language itself, invent new signs for other concepts (for example while Koko did not know the sign for ‘ring’ she started calling it ‘finger bracelet’, combining these two ideas) and using counterfactual statements for humour, which suggests an understanding of other minds. While it is only monkeys who can show this level of sophistication of thought, other animals also show varying degrees of intelligence. There are many species of animals that can learn to navigate mazes, Gordon setters can remember where they found dead animals up to a year afterwards and elephants can associate names with people. So in fact intelligence is not a wholly unique human quality and we must look elsewhere. So perhaps then it is our emotions that define us as a species. We do seem to have much more complex emotional responses to others ranging from basic ones such as happiness, sadness and embarrassment to complicated ones such as love, schadenfreude and deep empathy. This huge range of emotions at face value do seem exceptional when we compare it to animals. However, another remarkable aspect of Koko is that she showed a desire to have a pet and then, having chosen a pet cat, she cared for it as if a baby gorilla and she was very loving towards it. When the cat got run over and Koko was told about it, she signed ‘bad sad frown cry cry sad’. Other animals show huge devotion to their family group and dogs have been known to lay down their lives for their owners. So once again emotion and complex emotion is not unique to us. Finally when we examine our sense of morality and choice it appears we have found a much more convincing candidate. Our perceived sense of what is right and wrong and how we largely subscribe to these, as well as how we choose decisions freely. These are in fact things that we have and animals don't as animals don't stop to consider whether they should or shouldn't kill the gazelle in front of

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Are Animals Sub-human?

them because it may be morally dubious. Neither will an animal choose to oppose the mass consensus of its family group/pack and go it alone whereas humans may well do this. The issue here may not be whether our morality and choices make us different from animals but whether we have these at all. Firstly because morality certainly does not seem objective as it is so varied from culture to culture which suggests that it is a purely human social construct, perhaps to enforce law and keep people in check, after all society would dissolve if no one had a problem with killing each other. Also, our choices, as many psychologists would argue, are so influenced by our social groups and our surroundings that most of our choices are determined by others anyway and our idea of free will is not really real. While I do not want to be weighing the validity of determinism or moral objectivity it must be considered that these are not actual higher functions that humans hold at all, they are just extensions of the social structures that animals have, much as a wolf will be chastised for not helping the group, if we choose ‘morally wrong’ actions then we are chastised. Therefore, it seems that in conclusion we must look back to the cold evolutionary view that we really are just another species of monkey whose brain is a bit better at processing and that there is not objective standard by which we can judge our species as superior, and that we can say ‘animals are sub-human’ as ‘human’ is nothing too special at all. But before we cast our sense of value into the abyss and settle for a very nihilistic depression, it might be considered that while there is nothing objectively superior about humans, it is our subjective values and opinions which are able to give more meaning to our lives. This I feel is what gives us greater value, our ability to place more than just scientific value on our ideas and beliefs which can mean more to us than just cold hard facts and it is these ideas which allow us to find higher meaning in life, something which animals just don't have.

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The Axiom

COULD YOU WAKE UP IN A DIFFERENT BODY? Words by Tomas Brown

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Could You Wake Up in a Different Body?

‘One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour­like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections.’ ­-Kafka, Metamorphosis

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Could You Wake Up in a Different Body?

F

or Gregor Samsa to retain his identity for us to call him ‘Gregor Samsa’ and for him finding himself in a different body to be feasible ­there are two necessary conditions: (a) that the subject (Samsa) retains a constant identity which we can refrence him by before and after his transformation and (b) that the subject’s physicality changed independent of this constant identity. Broadly, in any transformation there must be ‘identity’, which is transitive1 over time and does not change ­ensuring ‘you’ stay ‘you’; and ‘body’, which is what transforms independently of identity. We wake up unwittingly to find ourselves in different bodies every morning under these principles; a day sees a turnover of at least 170,000 cells. We incrementally change physicality constantly, so if we make identity or the ‘self’ distinct from physicality, ­the approach of a substance dualist and the view the question presupposes ­then we find ourselves waking up in a different body every morning2 . In the following, I consider the critiques of such a dualist approach to identity. If we adopt a dualist approach, we must specify how identity is attached to the self. Locke approaches this by attaching ‘identity’ to the concept of memory or consciousness of experience. He tells the story of a Prince who has his soul swapped with a Cobbler; his experiences and his memories transferred into the Cobbler’s body. According to Locke, X at T2 is the same person as Y at T1 if X is able to have consciousness of Y’s experiences/memories. Therefore as X (the Cobbler) has the same experiences and memories as Y (the Prince), the Prince has retained his identity though he is in the Cobbler’s body, as he has his past experiences, memories and awareness. Here both the original criteria of (a) and (b) we established are satisfied, as the subject has retained a constant identity, and has changed physicality independently of this identity. Therefore, under Locke’s scheme, it is possible to wake up in a different body, given that we retain consciousness of experiences and memories. One objection to identity being attached to mental ‘consciousness of experience’ extends from Thomas Nagel’s ‘What is it Like to be a Bat?’. It is impossible, he says, to know what it is like to be another thing if we don’t have identical consciousness of experiences ­this, for example, is why we can’t know what it is like to be a bat, as we are not aware of what the use of echolocation is like or a bat’s other experiences. Should we attempt to know batness, say, by slowly metamorphosing ourselves into a bat, by the end of the process we would not have the same conscious experiences which identify us with ourselves; rather we would have a bat’s. Here Locke’s theory is challenged. Even if our mental selves were transferred into a different body, we could say that we are not the same ‘us’. The difference in what experiences we are conscious of ( just as a seeing man might be aware of colour in a way a blind man might not be) would render us subtly different people ­just as we are not the same person mentally after we metamorphosize into the

Transitivity being the principle iff X = Y and Y = Z, then Z = X, so if Gregor’s identity at time T1 is the same as time T2, and at T2 is the same as T3, then Gregor’s identity at time T1 is retained through to time T3. 2 Assuming the ‘strict and philosophical’ qualitative view of identity taken by Joseph Butler and Roderick Chisholm, where a thing has continuous identity iff X at time T1 has the same properties as X at time T2. 1

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Could You Wake Up in a Different Body?

mind of a bat. Therefore, we can’t keep identity as constant on the basis of consciousness of experiences, as we find that there is a link between what we experience from our physicality and who we are. A further criticism extends from Locke’s linking of memory to constant identity. If the Cobbler can refer to the same memories as the Prince, he argues, he must be the same mental individual. Reid provides retort to this with his ‘Brave Officer’ example. If an Officer remembers a whipping he had as a Boy, we may say under Locke’s principle that him and the Boy are the same. If an old General remembers his career as an Officer, we may say also that he and the Officer are the same person. However, if the old General can’t recall the beating he had as a Boy, we can’t say that he is the same person, and this weakens memory as a principle of constant identity. Identity is not in Locke’s scheme transitive over time, as if the General has no shared memory with the boy, they can’t have the same identity. If identity can’t be transitive, relating consistently to all points, it can’t be a basis for a constant identity to retain being ‘us’ after waking up in a different body. Having explored Locke’s idea of attaching a constant identity to either memory or conception of experience (and found it unfruitful), we shall now explore whether there is even a ‘self’ to attach identity to or transfer to a different body. Let us engage in a thought experiment to pursue this, and produce a synopsis of ourselves. For example:

(i) ‘I am Tomas Brown, I’m a sixth form student who enjoys philosophy and debating - I consider myself a calm person’. First, strip away our likes or dislikes, as they are not us ourselves, merely things that ‘selves’ participate in:

(ii) ‘I am Tomas Brown, I’m a sixth form student who enjoys philosophy and debating - I consider myself a calm person’. Second,strip away our physical position, since we are attempting to find our purely mental self:

(iii) ‘I am Tomas Brown, I’m a sixth form student who enjoys philosophy and debating - I consider myself a calm person’. Third, strip away our emotional quality and dispositions, since emotion is something we participate in, not something which I myself am.

(iv) ‘I am Tomas Brown, I’m a sixth form student who enjoys philosophy and debating - I consider myself a calm person’.

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Could You Wake Up in a Different Body?

The synopsis of the self we are left with is ‘I am Tomas Brown’ does not express anything about the self, given that it is only another term of reference for myself3 . From this and similar attempts, we may find that the ‘self’ is inexpressible. Russell affirms a similar view that we aren’t acquainted with our actual mental self, only our sensations and thoughts. It becomes evident, due to it’s inexpressibility, that we might question its existence at all. A verificationist approach affirms that we can’t have positive or negative verification for a mental self (as we can’t be acquainted with it directly), it must be a meaningless and unrealisable concept. From this point, we question if it is possible for us to find ourselves in a different body if there is no self to fulfil our first criteria of (a) and be a constant point of identification in both our initial and our different body. Without a constant identity, we could not possibly wake up to find ourselves in a different body. A retort to be made of this view might be that we feel emotions that pertain to a self, and we have the concept of ownership of one’s body, pertaining to a self. In the opening quote of this essay, Samsa clearly sees his brown belly, and his armour like back. We however would reply that the mental concept of the self is merely an illusion as it derived from our physical concept of the self, and therefore can’t constitute a literal ground for transferring identity from one body to another. We always have immediate evidence for the conception of my physical self; I look down at my legs, and I know that they are mine; I can feel the keys of my laptop under my fingers; I am aware of them in space and their

3

Given a minimalist scheme of reference where X = Y iff X is the same as Y.

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Could You Wake Up in a Different Body?

location in relevance to me. I am aware broadly of the physical thing that is me, and can give an accurate description of what it is to be me down to the atomic level. In reference to this, it is proposed, the term ‘self’ was created with definite intent ­to our physicality. The concept of a mental self arguably comes from an extension of this concept into the mind. As I know I have legs, arms in the physical world, I assume that I have some sort of equivalent in the mental world ­the self. However, we already know from our thought experiment, that we don’t have any immediate evidence for the concept of the self ­we can’t be acquainted with it, only thought and sense ­we find it impossible to directly describe it at all. Therefore, as we don’t have the same relation to the mental self as the physical self, the mental self becomes a referenceless condition, corresponding to nothing. When we say ‘I woke up in a different body’, what we are saying is meaningless, as ‘I’ is referenceless, and as such we find no constant identity that we can be taken from the first body to the body we transfer into. However, some may counter the possibility that a physically based identity can still be transferred into a different body by abandoning the dualist approach. The paradox of the ship of Theseus, when tackled from the point of perdurantism (specifically stage theory), demonstrates how an object, although it may change its physicality, can maintain its identity without resorting to untenable dualism. It proceeds as such. The ship of Theseus is to be preserved for a thousand years via the progressive renovation of one plank per year. By the end of the thousand years, the ship will have none of its original physicality left, consisting of only renovated planks. Stage theorists such as Tim Sider argue that despite this change in physicality, the ship is still the ship of Theseus, because the ship is composed of temporal parts, which extend across the fourth dimension of time. Working under the principle of numerical identity4, Sider argues if we examine slices of time between the renovation of each plank, we will find the ship numerically identical to how it was last year, although it’s physicality has changed. Therefore, it is possible to have a changing physicality but still retain a constant identity. Applying this to the possibility of being able to wake up in a different body, we may find that it is indeed possible. While we must cede that waking up in an entirely different body, as Samsa does in Metamorphosis, is not possible as our current body is not numerical-

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Could You Wake Up in a Different Body?

ly identical to a beetle’s and thereby can’t transfer identity, we may say that the gradual biological turnover of cells allows us to wake up in a ‘different body’ while retaining our concept of identity. As with the ship of Theseus, where a ship is numerically identical despite changing physically because it retains its planks at all times, we may say that our physical self is numerically identical despite changing our physicality over time, and becoming a ‘different body’ in constitution but not form. Therefore, we may say that in this strict sense, it is possible to wake up in a different body while retaining our identity. In conclusion, the possibility of being able to wake up in a different body necessitates two things: (a) that there is constant identity which we can reference someone by before and after their metamorphosis and (b) that the subject’s physicality changes independent of this constant identity. We have found that the possibility of a self in the terms of substance dualism, that might transfer between bodies is improbable, and even granted its existence, carrying identity on basis of mental memories and consciousness of experience is impossible. However, the physical self we find can provide a consistent identity as it may withstand physical change if it is numerically identical with it’s past selves. This change we must be gradual however, and we find that while we wake every morning with a different cellular body, we may sleep sound knowing we can’t wake a beetle.

Objects A and B are numerically identical if there is only one thing variously called ‘A’ and ‘B’. 4

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The Axiom

DEFINING THE A-PHYSICAL Words by Blake Jones

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Defining the A-physical

Physical: relating to the body as opposed to the mind; relating to things perceived through the senses as opposed to the mind; tangible or concrete. What is the a-physical? It would be completely separate from the body or senses, yet does this mean it would be the mind or spirit? Can we ever have anything completely separate from the body and thus is it possible or the a-physical to exist and if so what would it be?

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Defining the A-physical

T

he a-physical by my definition is something which is totally disconnected from the physical world and exists on its own without any influence from that which is tangible or concrete. To discover whether this axiom is possible, one must reflect on what already exists. For the sake of this article the body and the physical exist, and our perceptions of them are valid. In addition, the mind exists. Following Descartes’ ‘cogito ergo sum’ (I think therefore I am), there is a spiritual element to this world as well; which I know exists since I can experience. However, does the mind count as something a-physical? The brain has neurones and nerves send impulses throughout it, causing the different thoughts we have. This suggests that the mind itself is only brought about by the physical and is just another process of the body. Yet, the mind could be more independent than that. The mind may act upon the physical world through nerve impulses, but the mind can still be free from control from the brain. The mind exists in a separate realm to the physical world, where it acts separately from the body. Then for the mind to have effect in this realm, the thoughts and decisions of the mind are sent to the brain so that they can take place in the physical world. This would allow the mind to be a-physical. However, the mind is made up of thoughts. Can any thoughts be a-physical? Some thoughts such as remembering what a house looked like or thinking about something soft are physical. They exist as a result of physical objects and physical experiences, thus cannot escape their physical nature. The thoughts of them may be of the mind, yet this is combined with the physical. As a result of this, the mind cannot be a-physical. It may not be solely physical, but it experiences physical things and holds physical based thoughts, meaning that it is part physical and part spiritual, but never a-physical. Nevertheless, there could be some thoughts or ideas which are a-physical, allowing the a-physical to exist. We can try to find a-physical ideas, yet they all eventually have a connection to the physical. 2+2=4 is considered to be an innate and eternally true idea, which is of the mind and not physical. However, 2+2=4 has a physical root. That idea and the rest of maths itself comes from observation of the physical world. It may transcend the physical and be able to be applied to all situations both in the physical and spiritual worlds, yet its origin is physical. 2+2=4 first comes from observation of physical things and realising that the statement is true. Whilst this can be proved by non-physical means, numbers themselves come from the physical. We first observed physical things and realised that we could give value to them, hence numbers arose. Today, we can think about numbers in a non-physical way, yet these thoughts come from and make up the physical world, and they cannot escape their slightly physical nature. Ergo, 2+2=4 and other ideas about numbers are all at heart physical based ideas. Or at least, they are too connected to the physical world that they cannot be described as a-physical. One potential a-physical idea is the idea of a perfect circle. Unlike other ideas which can only have a physical influence to exist. The perfect circle only exists in the physical world because humans and their minds created it. The perfect circle does not come about from nature and instead we have to think about it for it to exist. The perfect circle was originally a solely spiritual idea; the fact that it exists as a physical object is irrelevant since it was created later

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Defining the A-physical

due to the idea being inside our minds. However, the idea of the perfect circle comes from the idea of the physical circle which may not be perfect, but still exists and prompts this idea. Whilst the idea alone of a perfect circle is a-physical, when I think of the perfect circle I am partly thinking about non perfect physical circles which I have seen, allowing this idea to be prompted. Therefore the perfect circle is not a-physical. A conversation could be called a-physical. If two people are discussing something, the words they speak are not physical things. The sounds representing them may be physical vibrations and they may be made and heard in physical ways, the idea of those words is not physical. The thought of ‘hello’ is not a physical one. It does not necessarily mean a greeting to a physical person nearby, but instead is the idea of one mind meeting another. ‘Hello’ is the closest idea we have to the a-physical, yet it cannot escape the physical. It is thought of in the mind which is closely connected to the physical. It is learnt through physical interactions or someone being taught it through physical means (talking, sound waves and hearing). It can only be used correctly if one knows the physical situation they are in (greeting another mind inhabiting a body), and we know to say or think this based on observing the world with physical senses and knowing that someone is there. In conclusion, we cannot properly define the a-physical, since examples of it cannot be given. We know of nothing which is truly a-physical thus we are not able to give an example of it. The a-physical could exist, but humans are not a-physical beings and do not have an a-physical part of ourselves either. Therefore we are unable to observe the a-physical and cannot know if it exists. The moment we observe or understand an a-physical idea it is no longer a-physical since it is used in a physical way. So what do we have? In Cartesian trialism it is suggested that we have the mind, the body and a side which combines the mind and body – for example the sensation of hunger. Yet if we cannot experience the a-physical, we only have the body and the rest is a combination of the body and mind at different ratios. Karl Popper suggested that the universe was made of three worlds. World 1, the world of material things (the pages of a book or a human hand); world 2, the subjective world of minds (memories or cognition); world 3, the world of objective knowledge or culture and ideas (art, ethics or language). However the issue with this is that whilst world 3 is the predominant world of combining the physical and spiritual, world 2 is still a world featuring this combination, just to a lesser extent. Memories contain the combination of the physical and mental just as much as language does. Thus the three worlds are in truth two worlds. In conclusion, the a-physical cannot be defined since as physical beings we are unable to appreciate it. Instead there is the solely physical realm which exists; in addition there is a spiritual side to the universe. We have the physical, then everything else is a combination of the physical and spiritual, all to different extents. In this universe we cannot say that there is one solely physical world, or that it is made to two or three realms involving the physical and spiritual. There are an infinite number of realms or levels with increasingly less physical influence on them. This may lead eventually to the a-physical world, as the ultimate level, but we cannot understand it. Yet we live as physical beings in these many worlds or realms of the physical united with the spiritual.

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The Axiom

JOIN PYTHAGORAS TODAY! Words by Tomas Brown

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Join Pythagoras Today!

Do YOU know just how much of a menace beans are to our society? Do YOU know that picking up things off of the ground is dirty and wrong and intellectually degrading? Do you want to become a mathematikos, joining an organisation which broadly makes you sound like you are a particularly nerdy fish? Well then my cult is sure as beans are from the pits of hell for you! Here in our triangle themed paradise, we live in freedom from such daily dystopian dilemmas as having to eat from whole loaves of bread, or having an outburst of flatulence ruin your voting procedures! I have found and practiced many of the ancient techniques from totally not the seediest of the Egyptian cults you have ever seen, spending 22 years of my life thinking about the essential triangular centers of all our religious lives; the Pyramids! Today, I offer this knowledge to you, for little else than all your worldly and intellectual possessions! Of course, you might ask “What is in it for me, apart from eternal freedom from beans and a life in our utopian triangular paradise?�. Well, you get, and get this, an entire fantastic life of cheese and pastry! We have an eternal pythagorean party happening 20-4-7 over in Pythagoras land! Cheese guys! Who doesn’t like cheese! Well, for the small price of only 40 drachma per day in advance to your rebeanalising and fantastically mathematical stay, you too can take on the title of mathematikoi, and join me, Pythagoras, in triangle heaven. Free cheese included.

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The Axiom

PHILOSOPHER TOP TRUMPS Words by Tomas Brown

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Philosophers Top Trumps

Russell Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

Diogenes 2 0 3 9 4

Hume Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

10 6 10 6 8

Wittgenstein 6 0 3 9 1

Spinoza Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

Plato

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

4 7 3 10 3

Moore 9 1 10 10 10

Popper 4 0 3 6 5

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

1 0 1 7 4

Hegel

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

50

3 0 4 7 4

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

3 0 4 8 1


Philosopher Top Trumps

Gettier Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

Frege 1 0 7 10 3

Nietzsche Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

4 7 7 6 5

Kierkegaard 10 10 10 7 3

Descartes Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

Kant

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

7 0 4 10 7

Pythagoras 9 0 5 10 7

Sartre 3 5 8 8 6

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

10 10 9 10 3

Leibniz

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

51

4 0 5 9 4

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

2 0 3 6 10


Philosophers Top Trumps

Camus Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

Barnes 4 0 5 4 10

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

Hobbes Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

10 10 10 10 10

Locke 8 4 7 6 3

Insanity Facial Hair Controversy Renown Beauty Score

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2 0 4 6 3


The Axiom

EXISTENTIAL COMICS

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Existential Comics


Existential Comics


THE

AXIOM ISSUE No.3

Contributors

Tomas Brown Blake Jones Giannis Giortzis Richard Ainslie Tom Davy

Comic by Existential Comics Design by Blake Jones & Asten Yeo

"The Axiom is a publication wholly produced and owned by Abingdon School, a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity (Charity No. 1071298). Copyright in all articles and images remains with the creators and owners of those works. Previously published images and quotes or other excerpts from published works are used either by explicit permission or under the terms of Fair Use or a Creative Commons licence." Page 24: "I was walking among the fire of Hell" courtesy of flickr user gags9999 is liscensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Page 30: "Captive Cat" courtesy of flickr user Faris Algosaibi is liscensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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2015 No.3 THE AXIOM

The Axiom - Issue 3  
The Axiom - Issue 3  
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