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Buzzwords » Top Reads of 2016: Richard Marshall (published 23/12/2016)

12 of what I’ve read this year: The Genesis of Neo-Kantianism, 1796-1880. Frederick Beiser. Beiser is an essential read and this is a great and readable book about an important sub-field of continental philosophy. It includes, for the Beckett fans amongst us, a chapter on Windelband, one of whose books Beckett read and from which […]

Interviews » Restless Hauntings: Richard Marshall Interviews Marina Warner (published 06/04/2009)

mw2By the time photography got into its stride it was accepted pretty much as a documentary index of reality. This was why it became very popular in spirit circles because it proved that spirits existed. Well now of course we know so much more about this very peculiar state of being which has been called ‘image flesh’ – a term of Maurice Merleau-Ponty that I like very much. It’s an expression I like because it implies flesh that is not flesh. He applied it to other forms of iconography, which are also image flesh. They might be more material than a photograph – a sculpture, a painting – but they share the relationship to the mind’s eye that photography does.

Richard Marshall talks Catholicism, zombies and Beckton Alps with Marina Warner.

Reviews » Back To The Real AI (published 14/08/2017)

There’s no demand for AI with common sense. We seem to like our AI supersmart and dumb. None of our current billion dollar research projects into AI are looking to create fully intelligent AI with common sense. According to Levensque, we’re creating systems that can deal with stable, normal circumstances but which are not able to deal with the unexpected. Levensque is quietly alarmed: ‘ … if this is the future of AI, we need to be careful that these systems are not given the autonomy appropriate only for agents of common sense.’ Automation poses political questions rather than technological ones for the AI community.

Richard Marshall reviews Hector J Levesque‘s Common Sense, The Turing Test, and the Quest for Real AI.

Interviews » The End Times » Causation, Probability and Philosophy (published )

It’s a mistake to analyze actual causation and think that you have thereby analyzed causation. The surface grammar of our language is misleading in this regard. Consider philosophers’ favorite example: “Suzy’s throwing her rock caused the bottle to smash”. This statement describes a relation of actual causation, but there is nothing in the wording to indicate that a specialized causal concept is involved. The word “caused” seems to suggest a fully general notion of causation. One of the clues that this is wrong is that many concepts that involve a causal dimension don’t involve actual causation.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Christopher Hitchcock.

Interviews » Psychedelics and Philosophy » Tripping For Knowledge: The Psychedelic Epistemologist (published 05/08/2017)

I think psychedelic states can offer genuine knowledge. Specifically, I think psychedelic subjects gain what philosophers call ‘knowledge by acquaintance’ of their own vast psychological potential. They become directly acquainted—because it becomes manifest—with the modal or dispositional fact that there are vastly many, often very unusual, possible ways that their minds can be. And this knowledge often makes a strong impression; many spiritual seekers in the 60s became dedicated meditation practitioners in order to realise the psychological potential they’d discovered by tripping.

Lindsay Jordan kicks off 3:AM’s Psychedelics and Philosophy series interviewing Chris Letheby.

Interviews » The End Times » On Doing and Allowing Harm (published )

I do not think you would be required to sacrifice your own life to save the child or indeed to sustain permanent major physical damage to your body which would leave you severely mentally or physically incapacitated for life. It would probably be morally admirable to do so, but this is not something that can be demanded from people. Requirements to sacrifice yourself in this except under truly exceptional circumstances undermine your authority over your own body.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Fiona Woollard.

Interviews » The End Times » On the Nature of Truth (published 30/07/2017)

‘Believe only what is true!’ is a useless epistemic norm. It’s correct, but it cannot guide us, because what we need are criteria we can actually apply; truth, however, isn’t a criterion we can directly test. ‘Believe only what is consistent with your entire belief system!’ is similarly useless. By Church’s theorem we cannot test a given set of axioms for its consistency. In general, this is beyond the computational powers of the best ideal computer.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Volker Halbach.

Reviews » Endless (published 27/07/2017)

His Endless House was a shock proof shelter, like the rock-shaped formations of his Magic Architecture, rooted in primal regression but rather than being a hypersexualised elastic expression like Paris Endless the new version was rather ‘a palpable luxury of warm soft glowing atmospheres of multimedia affections.’ Kiesler exploded space creating endlessness through illusions that ‘sweep past the boundaries’ dwelling in a solid protective shell.

Richard Marshall reviews Stephen J Phillips on Frederick Kiesler.

Interviews » The End Times » The Happiness Philosopher (published 22/07/2017)

Bentham was undeniably strange, one of the strangest human beings who ever lived. In my view, it was the acute kindness of his disposition that drove him to formulate proposals that his many critics have seized upon as revealing that “iron cage” of modernity that you mentioned earlier–the Panopticon prison system, control through architecture and surveillance, being one of the primary examples. But he spun off so many elaborate schemes that it is very difficult to see how they fit together, especially as part of a historical trajectory headed toward a better society.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Bart Schultz.

Interviews » The End Times » Descrying the World of Physics (published 14/07/2017)

While physics has had tremendous successes it is still an open question whether there is fundamental ontology and laws and if there is whether they can be found by the methods of physics. To the extent that this aim of physics is achieved we should be able to understand how what Sellars calls “the manifest image” emerges from fundamental physics. That is what I mean by “descrying the world in physics.”

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Barry Loewer.