I honestly think something has gone awry in the way we talk about faith and religion. Disagreement and conflict have persisted throughout human history. Almost always, we end up talking over one another.
This is not because we’re stupid or ignorant about one another’s religion. It’s because we lack an epistemic common ground to engage in meaningful discourse.
We each come from an epistemic community (henceforth called “tradition”) and thus inherit the hermeneutics (theory of interpretation) inherent to that community. Since each tradition uses a unique set of language to describe the world around them, inter-tradition discourse is difficult.
When was the last time you had a debate, an argument, or just a simple conversation where the listener just couldn’t understand what you were trying to say?
It could be that you’ve misled your listener. So, you try to rephrase, slow down, and repeat but time after time, you’re just misinterpreted and mischaracterized.
I’d usually give up. It’s just pointless.
Psychologists like to pin this to our biases. For instance, confirmation bias makes us follow and favor information that confirms our prior beliefs. In a conversation, it would make us interpret the speaker’s words in a way that confirms…
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
If you expect to enjoy doing something, and if what’re doing is charitable in nature, then you shouldn’t be expected to be paid for your time and effort.
Now, if this is true, then this logically follows:
If you expect to be paid for your time and effort, then don’t expect to enjoy what you’re doing, or that you’re doing something charitable.
Let’s take a moment to think about what this means. It means that if you expect to be paid, you should suffer doing something you don’t enjoy at all. …
Imagine you suddenly come across a child about to fall into a river. How would you feel? Alarmed?
Most likely, you’ll have the impulse to help the child. You might be too far away to actually do it. Or if you’re near enough, you’d grab the child.
Regardless if you’d actually managed to save the child from drowning, you’d have the impulse to save the kid. Such impulse isn’t motivated by the prospects of benefits: praises, reputation, or fame from heroism. No, our impulses are likely altruistic.
This is a modified thought experiment (2A:6) proposed by the Chinese Confucian philosopher…
When I was 16 taking my O Levels in Singapore, a radical idea hit me.
What if the Cambridge markers don’t actually grade our papers. They could’ve thrown all our papers. And whichever papers land the furthest away would get A’s. Those that land the nearest will fail.
This is not some wild guess. — Well, it’s hogwash, really.
It’s not uncommon to see students who consistently score well in internal exams to suddenly score poorly for the national exams. …
Though I’ve come across people debating over whether the Earth is flat or round, I’ve hardly come across anyone debating whether the Earth revolves around the Sun or the Sun revolves around the Earth. I’m sure this debate exists in some obscure part of this world. I don’t want to participate in it.
“If all the evidence in the universe turned in favour of creationism, I would be the first to admit it, and I would immediately change my mind. As things stand, however, all available evidence (and there is a vast amount of it) favours evolution.” — Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
Those of us who’re familiar with atheist Richard Dawkins would know his fascination with scientific evidence. And how he preaches the idea of educating our children to evaluate evidence for themselves.
Admittedly, a lot of us are like Dawkins. We draw a dichotomy between facts and values, evidence and doctrine…
The stereotype is real. Chinese people (not everyone) are good at maths. Pick any global metric, and you’ll see — it doesn’t mean that they’re the best, quite the contrary. For instance, in the top 10 of the PISA 2018 rankings, seven countries are from East Asia (China, Macao, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea).
What does it mean to say that something is good?
This is a simple question. But the answer is far from that. It’s a question moral philosophers have grappled with for centuries. How do we make sense of utterances such as “He is a good person,” “This is a good book,” and the repetitive phrase that comes up in Genesis, “And God saw that it was good”?
We use “good” every day. “Good morning,” “Good luck,” “Good day,” … but what do we really mean when we utter these things?
Are you planning to contribute to society’s unemployment rate?
I remembered this so clearly. I was 17. I thought of sharing my plans to study philosophy with my seniors at a high school during our reunion. One of them gave the usual ‘wow’ expression that most people give; the other said this.
I’m studying philosophy in Singapore now. I’ve never been happier to go to school. And I’ve never been happier studying what I’m studying now.
To anyone who doesn’t know me well, this doesn’t sound interesting at all. So, let me try to make it interesting.
I was a…
I was once asked about the origins of the universe. So, here I am doing philosophy. Ethics | Intellectual History | Chinese Comparative Philosophy