Philosophical Dilemmas

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Philosophical Dilemmas

Postby Stu » Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:35 pm

Occasionally, I encourage my first-year students to consider a "philosophical dilemma" that I have thought up as part of a thinking exercise. I have a few that I use and they are a good warm-up exercise, a way of making students think outside the box, form and express arguments. Here is one:

Which would you prefer? Eternal Paradise or Total Destruction of your Soul?

This might sound like no quandary as there is an obvious answer, but bear with me. Imagine that you had lived to a ripe old age and you had lived a faultless life. When you pass away, you meet your maker who tells you that you are unique - the only mortal human being who has ever lived or who ever will live who has earned a place in paradise. Everyone else will have their soul destroyed for their sins, except you; you will, if you want it, live forever in paradise. In this paradise, you will be able to live in a constructed nature - beautiful beaches, forests, rivers and mountains. You will have a magnificent house. You will be able to eat and drink whatever takes your fancy just by imagining it. Nothing can cause you physical harm or pain. You will never be sick or grow old and you will never die. Of course, this isn't compulsory. If you wish it, the Almighty will destroy your soul as He has done to and will do to every other living human. But remember this, as the only perfect human being ever to have lived or who ever will live, you won't be sharing your paradise with anyone else. It'll just be you. For all eternity.

Paradise or destruction? Make your choice.
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Re: Philosophical Dilemmas

Postby Big and Bashful » Thu Jul 04, 2019 5:29 pm

Will there be cats? I like cats!

No other people, hmmm, lets see, no prejudice, no abuse, no ridicule, no ignorance unless it is DIY, no arguments, no hostility, no bigotry, no wind ups, no religious zealots, no politics, no gratuitous violence, no-one to destroy the environment, apart from DIY if you don't care, no-one to poke fun at a big guy wearing a skirt, or anything else, or nothing at all, whatever floats your boat!

Hmmm, tempting!
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Re: Philosophical Dilemmas

Postby john62 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:58 am

Life without community is not worth living, and this is what the Western World is turning into.

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Re: Philosophical Dilemmas

Postby moonshadow » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:40 am

Eternity without people?

Sounds like heaven to me!
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Re: Philosophical Dilemmas

Postby crfriend » Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:29 am

At times, given how seemingly rotten humanity can be and if we're not careful, we can forget that we are social animals and that without our societies tend to do very poorly from both a psychological and physical perspective. Sure, it's good to be "away from it all" from time to time, but without human interaction it would get quite dire after a while.

There's a reason I go to the office 5 days a week even though I only really need to be there for one -- and that's because I enjoy the human interaction; it's also why I spend a large chunk of my time out when I could be at home. Sure, I can get pretty down about humanity, but being out in a social setting helps me to keep that thought in check. It's really not as bad as it looks on the evening news.
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Re: Philosophical Dilemmas

Postby denimini » Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:07 pm

Good times are only good if you can share them. Give me total soul destruction with everyone else - at least I will be sharing in something.
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Re: Philosophical Dilemmas

Postby Jim » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:22 pm

If Jesus isn't there my faith has been foolishness and useless; I'd choose annihilation.
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Re: Philosophical Dilemmas

Postby skirtyscot » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:59 pm

There's a chapter in A History of the World in Ten and a Half Chapters that is about this. A guy dies and goes to heaven, where his every dream comes true. Anything he wants is instantly provided. Good health, food, drink, sex, golf courses, you name it. He's not the only person to make it to heaven, though of course he only meets the ones he gets on well with. He can ask to die again at any time. He has been told that after that there is oblivion, but eventually he gets so bored he asks for it.
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Re: Philosophical Dilemmas

Postby dillon » Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:29 am

I believe in a universal deity that knows our hearts and consciences. Human compassion is its gift to us, and our responsibility to it. It exists in humans regardless of the theologies that we use to divide ourselves and grant ourselves false security and self-indulgent superiority. I suppose I hope there is an eternal judgement just so that really bad people get a measure of justice, but then I realize I am only seeking my own superiority and my own sense of justice. We are entitled to meter justice as a society upon Earth, but not beyond this life. And maybe that is one of the moral quagmires through which I wade.

Another is the sense of right and wrong in a greater social realm. I am not different from others, even political conservatives, in wanting justice and equality, but still finding myself resentful when it comes at expense to my family’s fortunes, despite my ability to reconcile the cost with the greater good. I’m socially liberal but concede that it is much easier to support regulation and taxation when you feel like you’re getting something in return for the costs. But that’s the point of democracy, I suppose. One can vote against either social welfare or corporate welfare, in favor of national defense or against defense dollars spent to prop up foreign Princes and Emirs, for or against “allies” who refuse to work toward a consensus concept of peace and security. One can vote for action to abate climate change, or against higher energy prices. One can vote for “law and order” or against malicious policing. The trick is to have a long-term ideal as a common goal. When men agree on goals, the means of achieving them can be fruitfully debated and negotiated.

So my philosophical issues are addressed partly by action and partly by soul-searching.
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