It is surprising how old the modern world is. We think questions about what time really means and the strange findings of Quantum mechanics are new, but they are both over one hundred years old. One hundred years of extraordinary change which enable us to see answers that the original questioners could not hope to find.
It is surprising how new the modern world is. Very few countries have more than fifty years’ experience of elections and the number who have fifty years of free and fair elections can be counted on the fingers of one hand. But we have now got enough data to review the experiment and the result is a challenge to received wisdom.
With all that we have learned over the last century, from genetics to the internet, from cold war to terrorism, we can look at the old questions – what do words mean? what is the meaning of life? with new eyes and find new answers.
‘Escaping the Circular Firing Squad’ looks at all these questions. It uses all these new experiences to give short, clear answers. References to past thinkers are avoided – you do not need to know who Lavoisier was to understand oxygen, although he named it and you do not need to know who Kant was to understand ethics, although he wrote famous books on the subject.
With ‘Philosophy 2’ you start with the question you find most interesting. For each question there is a short, self-contained answer, put forward in clear, simple language. The questions answered are:
Questions of Existence
- How is the mind connected to the physical world?
- Do objects really exist and what do they really look like?
- What makes the same thing the same?
- What is the link between cause and effect?
Questions of Meaning
- What is the link between words and things?
- Why are some words so difficult to understand?
- What is probability?
Questions of Science
- What are space and time?
- How did intelligent life start?
- Does everything run down over time?
- Can you go faster than light?
- Is the quantum world different?
Questions of Ethics
- Do we have free will or is everything inevitable?
- Can robots be conscious?
- What makes things right or wrong?
- What is the connection between justice and law?
Questions of Power
- How should wealth be distributed?
- If a government is elected, how can it be unpopular?
- How do we get democracy?
- Why don’t wealth and progress make people happy?