Is there a place for emotion in philosophy?

Q. Is there a place for emotion in philosophy or is it rejected as being not rational? If so what should people do with their powerful emotions? A. Let's address the second question first. Philosophers try to understand things. So a philosopher will try to understand emotions; but it isn't at all clear that a philosophical understanding of emotions will tell you what to do with them. Of course philosophers do try to understand emotions: what they are and how they feed into the ways we act. Em...

Are we free?

Q. We are told constantly by self-help gurus (and others) that we are free, just freely change, your beliefs, your thoughts, your behaviour? You have the power. I'm not so doesn't always feel or look like that is true. Is a mother raising kids in a shack home free? To accept her lot? Are we free? Philosophically are there limits to the notion that we are free? A. A philosopher responds. There are a lot of questions here. First, are there limits to our freedom? Of course there are. I...

I’ve been offered weed…is it safe?

Q. I have been offered weed by close friends at school, grade 8. Lots of my friends use it, lots of parents don't stop their children and some openly use it too. I guess it must be safe since everybody using weed seems ok. Is it dangerous to start? I heard about gateways not sure what that means. A. So 'it's organic don't panic'? Sadly there is reason to panic as we never know if we're going to be the one who just gets a bit chilled from using weed (and happy and laid back with racing thought...

Should I keep my faith?

Q. I have been struggling for some time now. It seems as if my faith is being tested. I am beginning to have doubts. Should I keep my faith? A. I have always thought that if someone has God in their life that they are quite fortunate. Not because I necessarily believe that this thing called God actually exists but rather that having this faith seems sometimes, from my experience to give the faithful something, a quality of life that feels different, more clear perhaps? Having faith connote...

Should I leave my spouse?

Q. Things are not easy in my marriage. My friend Louise keeps pushing me to stand up to my husband whom she calls the ‘cactus’ and leave him….I’m very confused. What should I do? A. I do not know your story. I cannot make comments about who you are, your life and the decisions you have made or will make. If I did I would be no different from those telling you what to do. I do not know what is best for you or the people who make up your life….how could I? I can only share with you what I think...

Why did he do it?

My wife has a customer Leah, who has become a friend. She is elderly, a widow with three children who has decided to ensure that her affairs are in order for the inevitable day. We were standing on the veranda as she was leaving when she asked me a question. “Julian, why does somebody throw themselves under a train?” Not quite zay gezunt, see you next time with a kiss on the cheek as I had expected her to say and do. When I was doing my clinical training our course coordinator told us abou...

We use the same language but do we understand each other?

Q. I get the impression sometimes that communication/language between people is a hit and miss affair and could go very wrong. We all use the same words and assume that we share and understand the meaning in the same way, that we actually understand each other. Is this correct to assume? A. It is not an assumption it is part of what it is to be a language user. Of course there are failures to communicate: speakers understand words in different ways and assume their understandings are the same...