:: The End Times

Rethinking Minds: the Wittgenstein, Levinas, Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty Gang published 27/06/2018

Wittgenstein certainly isn’t interested in solving the sceptical problem of other minds. That is, he has no interest in proving, to a sceptic’s satisfaction, that we may know what other people are thinking and feeling, or that they feel and think in the first place. So if the traditional epistemological problem is a sceptical one, Wittgenstein just wants to shrug it off (I think John McDowell puts it like that somewhere). Here, Wittgenstein is perfectly in line with phenomenologists such as Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty. So you might say this is the first respect in which his perspective is like that of the phenomenologists. Moreover, like the phenomenologists, I think he is trying to shed light on our ways of relating to other people (and their minds), in such a way as to make us see that there is no compelling reason to bother with those sceptical problems in the first place. Here, too, he is in line with the phenomenologists.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Søren Overgaard.

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Bayes’ Arrows published 23/06/2018

McGinn and Giere and their like can botanize the world of thought into “philosophy” and “not philosophy” and corral the mostly fruitless into the former, as they wish. Universities make those sorts of separations an invitation to triviality and sometimes, outright stupidity. I think the basic motivation is pretty simple: most philosophers can’t do any mathematics, certainly not original mathematics; they are trained not to know statistics or computation. They treasure playground and rewards for the skills they have, and want to make sure the playground is well-guarded.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Clark Glymour.

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Carl Schmitt and Democratic Cannibalism published 16/06/2018

The absolute entrenchment of the constitution’s core commitments and party bans are the two most significant takeaways. By arguing that the basic decision of the Weimar Constitution was for liberal basic rights rather than democracy, Schmitt believed he had discovered a way to prevent extremists from gaining power and committing legal revolution, a way consistent with the existing Weimar Constitution.

As the Nazis and Communists gained seats in parliament, Schmitt was frustrated by positivist jurists’ unyielding commitment to democratically decided positive law. He criticized them for how their theoretical commitments resulted practically in something like political quietism. And, in doing so, he seems to interpret them as one-sided adherents to Weber’s ethics of conviction, as politically irresponsible.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Benjamin A Schupmann.

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The Impossible and The Real published 09/06/2018

When I think about what it means for something to exist, I don’t see a gap between existence, reality, being, or whatever you want to call it. When it comes to Pegasus, Santa Claus, and the Tory party’s concern for the poor, it’s not that there’s something out there in reality that somehow lacks the property of existence. There’s simply no such thing.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Mark Jago,

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Aristotelian Plato, Mathematical Pythagoreanism and the Origins of Philosophy published 02/06/2018

Plato was impressed by the Persians and Egyptians, and in antiquity he was thought to have traveled to meet them in his youth (and, on his death bed, a Chaldean came to gain wisdom from him). Plato wrote eloquently about the wisdom of Egypt in the Timaeus-Critias, ascribing the wisdom of his distant ancestor Solon of Athens to the Egyptians, and he praises the wisdom of the Persian kings Cyrus and Darius in the Laws. He also wrote about the Zoroastrian educational system, and in particular Ahura Mazda (who was the primary god of the Zoroastrian pantheon), in the First Alcibiades, which he praised in various ways, but ultimately considered deficient to the system of Socratic/Platonic education that he was advancing. Quite interestingly, as soon as Plato dies, his students in the Academy (especially his amanuensis Philip of Opus, and another figure called Hermodorus of Syracuse) claim that Plato took his overall metaphysical system from the Persians – a striking claim that, when compared with the surviving inscriptions from Persia and the Zoroastrian writings, which are collected under the title Avesta, show impressive connections.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Phil Horky.

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Indian Philosophy of Language published 31/05/2018

We can’t be familiar with the intellectual traditions of every culture (I’m certainly not), but given that some of our oldest literature is in Sanskrit and that human beings have been speaking languages for a very long time, I don’t think we should be that surprised that there would be people reflecting on what language is and how it works, well before Russell and Frege. And in the 1960s and the work of B.K. Matilal, English-language philosophers have had resources to make them well aware that Indian philosophers have been doing sophisticated stuff in language (in Sanskrit, but not only that language–there’s Pāli, Prakrit, Tamil, and other languages too). I should add that Chinese philosophy also has a very long history of linguistic philosophy, dating back to around the time of Pāṇini, and that anyone interested should look into Mohist logic.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Malcolm Keating.

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After Identity: Questions Of Interpretation published 27/05/2018

White non-trans faculty are not meant to study issues of race or transgender – witness the controversy over Rebecca Tuvel’s article, “In Defense of Transracialism” – and non-white faculty are meant to study nothing but issues of race and the consequences of racialization. For the most part we find LatinX scholars, for example, in Hispanic Studies and Ethnics Studies departments, rather than, say, Philosophy ones. We are all, then, to study ourselves. This outcome seems to me to be both a travesty of the promise of diversity and a dogmatic account of identity.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Georgia Warnke.

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How Good Are We? published 24/05/2018

Now after reading the psychology literature, one view you might hold is the depressing one that most of us are vicious people to some extent or other – cruel, callous, dishonest, and the like. We belong on one end of the spectrum.

But I don’t see a lot of support for drawing that conclusion, just like I don’t see a lot of support for widespread virtue either. For instance, in the cheating literature just mentioned above, cheating was basically eliminated when participants recalled the Ten Commandments or signed the honor code. Yet to a truly dishonest person, neither of those would matter a great deal if at all.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Christian Miller.

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Can Philosophy and Religion be Harmonised? Averroes, Avicenna, Hegel published 19/05/2018

With regard to Averroes and Hegel, it must be said that neither of them defended the double truth thesis in the medieval sense of the phrase. They both advocated that the truth can be expressed in different ways by philosophy and by religion. The content which these disciplines conveyed remained the same. Perhaps an ambiguity remains in the case of both philosophers as to their views on religion, because they both stated that religion portrays the truth in a metaphorical way, while philosophy expresses the truth in a rigorous, explicit or literal way. There is clearly a preference for the philosophical way of expressing the truth in both Averroes and Hegel.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Catarina Belo.

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To Be Refuted at Each Century: James Ward and Alfred North Whitehead published 12/05/2018

Whitehead argues that we experience causation all the time. Notoriously, this is precisely what Hume denies; according to him, we just experience succession, not the action of one thing upon another. Whitehead does not deny that we apprehend sense-impressions; when an object hits me, however, I have direct experience of causal forces acting upon me. Whitehead charges the entire British tradition with having neglected this fundamental dimension of experience. This failure has led to the strange view that experience is like a cage – that it encloses us within the circle of our perceptions, instead of doing what it so obviously does, namely bringing us in touch with the outside world.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Pierfrancesco Basile.

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