Against the Indeterminists

Randomness as Independence

Ancient Roman die

Epistle 26. Posted on 2019-10-15.

If randomness is defined as an uncaused event, it may also be defined as an independent event. After all, if one event depends on another event, it is no longer random. Therefore, to be random, an event must have no dependency on any other event, or it must be independent of every other event. If the cosmos were regarded as the domain of all events, this implies that a random event must be independent of the cosmos. A random event cannot participate in the cosmos in any respect. These are simply the consequences of regarding an event as uncaused, as independent. Since a random event can play no role whatsoever in the rest of the cosmos, Epictetus (Enchiridion, 1) would surely quip that any random event “is nothing to me.” And he would be correct, even physically.

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Epictetan Worms

Seek Ye Stoic Therapy

painting entitled The Worm (2017) by Вадим Олейник

Epistle 25. Posted on 2019-09-16.

Epictetus (55–135 CE) is a famous Stoic philosopher who opened his own school in Nicopolis (Nikopolis) in Epirus (in northwestern Greece), calling it the “healing place for sick souls.” His school acquired a good reputation, attracting many upper-class Romans. One noteworthy student was Flavius Arrian (c.86–c.160 CE), who wrote down many lessons of Epictetus into a work that is referred to now as Epictetus’s Discourses. In his Discourses, Epictetus referred to worms on at least three occasions.

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Passion

painting entitled Separation (1896) by Edvard Munch (1863-1944)

Epistle 24. Posted on 2019-07-24.

Every Stoic seeks a state of mind that is referred to as apatheia (Greek: ἀπάθεια), which is to be without ‘passion.’ This article is a brief introduction to Stoic passion. A passion is defined as:

A passion (Greek: πάθη or pathê, plural: πάθαι or páthai) is a temporary mental state that is caused by an unreasonable assent to an impulsive impression.

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Midlife Crisis

Age-Related Disempowerment

painting entitled The Voyage of Life: Manhood (1842) by Thomas Cole (1801-1848)

Epistle 23. Posted on 2019-07-01.

A midlife crisis is the experience of a conflict with respect to meaning, purpose, and age-related disempowerment. It is an identity crisis that occurs in middle-age and results from the combination of introspection, reflection, and unreasonable judgments that seem reasonable. Many people do not experience a midlife crisis, and of those who do, many suffer for years before accepting the change in identity. This article describes midlife crisis and how to resolve it.

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Katalepsis

The Stoic Criterion of Knowledge

a picture of a pomegranate hanging on a tree

Epistle 22. Posted on 2019-06-24.

A graspable impression (Greek: phantasia kataleptike) is a sensory impression that contains information which may be regarded as knowledge, given proper reasoning. As such, grasping or katalepsis is the Stoic criterion of knowledge. This article presents my interpretation of the method of grasping a graspable impression, of discriminating knowledge from opinion in Stoicism.

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Potentiality

The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum (1822) painted by John Martin (1789-1854)

Epistle 21. Posted on 2019-06-10.

Conceive of the cosmos as consisting purely of matter or bodies, such that each body is merely a spatiotemporal region of the cosmos. I further implore you to consider that referring to any body requires one to demarcate it from other bodies, and the denoted body consists purely of a conjunction of causal powers. Anything independent of causality does not participate in causality, and therefore does not participate in the cosmos because, by definition, it would have to be independent of the cosmos. Everything participates in causality as a conjunction of causal powers.

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Essence

painting entitled The Kiss (1897) by Edvard Munch (1863-1944)

Epistle 20. Posted on 2019-06-03.

At first, essence may seem like a concept about which one should be skeptical, but it has a logical definition, at least as it is used here:

Essence: The essence of any body is the conjunction of all of its qualities, where a quality is a property that the body has with conceptual necessity.

If a body must have a property, that property is a quality of that body, and that quality is part of the essence of that body.

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Conceptual Modality

Penrose triangle

Epistle 19. Posted on 2019-05-27.

Conceptual modality is one of the most useful innovations in ancient logic. Of the many different kinds of modalities, we are concerned with alethic modality. “Alethic” derives from aletheia in Ancient Greek and means truth, and “modality” derives from modus in Latin and means measure, method, or way. An alethic mode, then, is a way for truth to be, or to be regarded. In logic, alethic modality distinguishes a proposition that is impossibly true from possibly true, and necessarily true from not-necessarily true.

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Addiction

From Self-Seduction, Indentured Servitude

painting entitled Sudden Involuntary Chemical Withdrawal (2016) by Andrew Litten

Epistle 18. Posted on 2019-04-29.

Addiction is a disposition relative to a category of objects in which those objects are overvalued, and this relative disposition has duration, like a habit. As long as a person has this addiction, or is disposed relative to this category of objects, the addiction necessarily generates an impulse toward such an object, given any suitable stimulus, real or imagined.

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Contrariety

Opposites Do Not Mingle

venn diagram of p, not p, and q

Epistle 17. Posted on 2019-04-22. Edited on 2019-04-25.

How good are you at identifying a contrariety? Did you know that the vast majority of your mistakes are due to this failure? In logic, contrariety — or contrariness — refers to contrary propositions. Contradiction and contrariety are often confused and used interchangeably, but this distinction is useful in everyday life.

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