Speaking Philosophy

Philosophical Statements that Don’t Mean What You think They Do, At All, of the Day:

“Time is just phenomenal.”

Doesn’t mean: time is groovy.

Means: Time is solely a construct of the human mind through which we have to process all of our experiences; we cannot know whether the noumena actually exist in time.

“This won’t be very hard; I think you’ll enjoy this reading.”

Doesn’t mean: You can feel excited because you will get off easy on homework. You will find yourself laughing uproariously and quoting this philosopher on all of your first dates from now on.

Means: you will want to shoot yourself/go to sleep slightly less while reading this than you do while reading that other guy.

“Must one be able to rule out moral nihilism to be justified in believing, say, rule utilitarianism? That is like asking whether jumbo shrimp are large. No simple answer is possible.”

Doesn’t mean: The philosopher had taken up residence in a Long John Silver’s while writing this essay and gotten deeply involved in the ongoing contentious debate about the size of jumbo shrimp between the employees.

Means: It really it means that terms like “large” need to be in a comparison to have any meaning, just like some people argue that moral theories need to be in a specific comparison class to figure out if they are justified.

What they all really mean: Philosophers sometimes get bored of using words everyone knows and decide to make up their own.


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