A philosophy webcomic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world. Also Jokes

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Philosophical Ghostbusters

Rene Decartes watching Ghostbusters: "ahhhh, I see, the spirit world actually interacts with the physical world because of 'ectoplasm', it all makes sense now".

The term "supernatural" is kind of funny because by definition it sort of means things that don't exist. If something exists, it is part of the natural world, in that it can interact with particles via the rules of physics. If ghosts exist, for example, they can't so much disobey the laws of physics, because scientists would simply adjust the rules of physics to match what they observed in the ghosts. The most striking example of this are cryptid animals like Nessie or Bigfoot. In a way they sort of count as supernatural, merely by the fact that they don't exist. If they were ever discovered, they would be boring old natural animals. In the sea, the division is even clearer, we can imagine a cryptid enthusiast asking a scientist "do you believe in sea monsters?", and the scientist replying "oh sure, there are plenty: great white shark, orca, giant squid, etc". Here the cryptid enthusiast would become frustrated and say "no I mean like Leviathan or Kraken". The scientist might ask "isn't that just a Sperm Whale and Giant Squid?". Frustration increasing, the cryptid enthusiast says "no, I mean things that don't exist." Here our poor scientist is left to contend with the true meaning of the question: "do you believe in things that don't exist?".

There are two differences, it seems, between "sea monsters" and "sea creatures". The first is that sea monsters are named in Greek, where sea creatures are named in Latin. The second is that sea monsters don't exist.

The term "supernatural" is kind of funny because by definition it sort of means things that don't exist. If something exists, it is part of the natural world, in that it can interact with particles via the rules of physics. If ghosts exist, for example, they can't so much disobey the laws of physics, because scientists would simply adjust the rules of physics to match what they observed in the ghosts. The most striking example of this are cryptid animals like Nessie or Bigfoot. In a way they sort of count as supernatural, merely by the fact that they don't exist. If they were ever discovered, they would be boring old natural animals. In the sea, the division is even clearer, we can imagine a cryptid enthusiast asking a scientist "do you believe in sea monsters?", and the scientist replying "oh sure, there are plenty: great white shark, orca, giant squid, etc". Here the cryptid enthusiast would become frustrated and say "no I mean like Leviathan or Kraken". The scientist might ask "isn't that just a Sperm Whale and Giant Squid?". Frustration increasing, the cryptid enthusiast says "no, I mean things that don't exist." Here our poor scientist is left to contend with the true meaning of the question: "do you believe in things that don't exist?".

There are two differences, it seems, between "sea monsters" and "sea creatures". The first is that sea monsters are named in Greek, where sea creatures are named in Latin. The second is that sea monsters don't exist.

Philosophers in this comic: Rene Descartes, Rudolf Carnap
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