Thursday, 6 May 2010

Names, Reference and God

After getting up to vote this morning (I could discuss the UK elections but my brain isn't currently up to such a task), which I hope any Brits reading this would have done too, I headed to the library for a revision day. I've lost lots of revisions days thanks to one reason or another so am swiftly running out of time before my first exam Monday. But all will be ok... She says, in a non-commital tone...

I had a revision day yesterday with a few philosophers, which left me feeling as though I'm lacking. I adopted a new revision technique (kinda) and a gauge of where I should be and how far I have to go; however nauseating, did give me some direction. So today I rocked up to the library, armed with some felt tips and coloured paper to tackle reference.

What is it about a name that allows us to talk about something? If I'm talking to you about 'Plato' how is it we both know who I'm talking about? 

This was more or less my day (up until 4pm): following an argument through and realising the complexities of language. I now know that just 'cause something means the same thing it can't just be interchangeable.

Pennie Varvarides = SuperPennie
Pennie Varvarides = Pennie Varvarides

Well, we can't just substitute one out for the other or we'd lose meaning. We don't gain anything from the second statement so it has to be something deeper.

I have thought about attempting to go into what I covered today properly, partly as it'll help towards my revision and partly 'cause it's kinda interesting. Only, I doubt that all that many of you want to be reading a philosophy essay (though I know there are in fact a few). So instead, if any philosophers have anything to say about name and reference or about Mill, Russell, Frege or Kripke please, leave a comment.

On taking a break from Logic and Metaphysics (which is Mondays exam) I met with a friend to discuss religion. We got side tracked a lot and I discovered one of our class mates actually found God so to speak, when most of us in studying the subject went the other way. This made me think, maybe there's something I missed. Maybe one day I'll work out what that was...

We tried to work through the design argument and pretty much concluded that theists make up a few dodgy arguments and assume it implies some omniscient being when really all it does is show humans like to make inferences.

Paley uses the example of a watch and the watchmaker to claim that the universe is the same. That because we wouldn't look at the intricate mechanics of a watch and not assume it had a creator so why look at the world and think it sprung up all on it's own. Only mechanics and nature are as different as can be, so why should they fall to the same rules?

Anyway, I just thought I'd share my day and leave you all something to think about. Feel free to share your thoughts on names or God or whatever in the comment section below; I'd love to know what you think.

I'm currently sat outside the library enjoying the cold air and waiting for rush hour to end so I don't need to squish into a metal tube with too many other people. I like my space.

Ooh talking about the underground, I've handed out a few more business cards today and gave my friends some to pass on! The group is growing faster with each day =] Be sure to get involved!


  1. I often feel that my brain is lacking in both Philosophy and religion, so I am afraid that i cannot comment on such things, however i must say that i am glad that i stumbled across your blog... its made me think about something other than politics (a portion of today at work was spend discussing the constructs of british politics as observed in the 1850s...!) and i do now think i might go and think on 'god' and get back to you...
    PS: found you through facebook so i might just click the link again :-)

  2. Speaking of names, one of the Russell's paradoxes about names has popped up in my mind. It is the statement "Nobody is home". If "nobody" is a name, then the statement is false because no one is named "nobody". If it is not a name, then it's also false or meaningless because "nobody" is not a noun. But I have no intention to go further into these difficult philosophy of language and epistemology since I have had enough of Russell, Mill, and Frege in philosophy of Mathematics this semester!

    I have something to say about God though. The discussion over the argument of design can be easily ended by a simple question: Who made God? Since this argument presupposes that whatever is sophisticated has to be made by a creator. If we are really sophisticated, then the one who has created us has got to be more sophisticated than us. But then who made Him?