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Reviews » Hefner: The Virginia Woolf of Pornotopia (published 30/09/2017)

Preciado sees Playboy as a ‘titanic allegoric operation.’ He died having succeeded in what he set out to do , ‘… namely, to construct a collective sexual imaginary capable of implementing, right in the middle of the Cold War, a new set of affects, bodily habits, and desires that prepared the shift from a disciplinary society, with its repressive norms and bodily regulations, toward a pharmacopornographic regime characterized by immaterial labour, postdomestic space, the psychotropic and chemical regulation of subjectivity, prosthetic extension of the sexual body, electronic sexual surveillance, and consumption of intimacy.’

Richard Marshall reviews Beatriz Preciado‘s book about Hugh Hefner‘s Playboy legacy.

Interviews » The End Times » Understanding Defensive Killing (published )

I don’t buy the conceptual division between war and ‘ordinary life’ – I think it’s just a hangover from Walzer – so I don’t want to talk of one as an extension of the other. Talk of ‘ordinary life’ conjures up an image of a peaceful suburb in New Hampshire, which is a pretty parochial way to think about morality. Some people live their whole lives in failed states. Some people grow up in dire poverty, surrounded by violence and lawlessness. Ordinary life might, to them, feel a lot like a permanent state of conflict. And we can have crises outside of war – outbreaks of disease or natural disasters, for example, that raise a lot of the questions that also arise in war (the distribution of resources, allowing harm, collateral harms, uncertainty and so on).

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Helen Frowe.

Interviews » The End Times » embodiment (published 24/09/2017)

Eagleton has more of a kind of British wit and works a lot with understatements; this is something he has in common with one of his intellectual precursors, the Dominican friar and philosopher Herbert McCabe. Žižek’s version of humour is more explicit or drastic, and less subtle, often drawing upon the distance between the ‘high’ matter under discussion – philosophy, Hegel, Lacan – and the ‘low’ form of the joke through which he wishes to illuminate the matter at hand.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Ola Sigurson.

Interviews » The End Times » Does God Play Dice? (published 17/09/2017)

The puzzle of how the electron moves in an atom had been plaguing me. Day after day, I gradually doubted the reality of continuous motion. But I still felt in my bones that the electron is a particle and it must move in space in some way. Finally, in an early morning of October 1993, I experienced a sudden enlightenment or revelation. At that moment, I felt that my body permeated the whole universe and I was united with it. I “disappeared”. A clear picture then appeared: a particle is jumping in a random and discontinuous way. It is not inert but active; it moves purely by its own “free will”.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Shan Gao.

Interviews » The End Times » Why Compromise? Why Peace? (published 09/09/2017)

I argue that we are never morally required to establish fair compromises, at least if fair compromises are understood as compromises in which the parties make an equal amount of concessions relative to what they can gain and lose. If you disagree with a friend about where to go on vacation, then you should certainly try to accommodate your friend’s interests, but this does not mean that you should be concerned with how much both of you can gain and lose from the interaction (and hence with the power relations between you two). Fair compromises might sometimes serve a pragmatic function as “focal points”, but there is nothing moral about them.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Fabian Wendt.

Interviews » The End Times » The Infidel and the Professor (published 02/09/2017)

Friendship was absolutely central to their lives and also important in their writings. Hume and Smith were both lifelong bachelors, so their relationships with each other and with their other friends were the most meaningful ties they had (along with Smith’s close relationship with his mother). And both of them claimed repeatedly, throughout their philosophical works, that friendship is an indispensable component of a good and happy life. Hume declared that “friendship is the chief joy of human life,” for instance, and Smith proclaimed that the esteem and affection of one’s friends constitutes “the chief part of human happiness.”

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Dennis Rasmussen.

Essays » Bad Coop Eleatics (published 31/08/2017)

Twin Peaks Week | Day 4

Twin Peaks acknowledges a certain heroism and nobility in being average. Lynch populates his strangeness with the strangeness of characters who we best resemble, our average mystic neighbour. We place in them our own beliefs and desires so that what comes out are the beliefs, desires and hypothetical actions that follow from this simulation. The closer we assume they were to us in the first place, the greater the degree of predictability, dependability and precision that follows from this isomorphism. The victims and heroes of Twin Peaks’ horror have been predictable and dependable because we recognise them as being, all in all, like us. The weird terrors of the plot are beyond understanding and exist as uncanny manifestations of our own endless, inescapable dread.

By Richard Marshall.

Interviews » The End Times » How to Talk About Empiricism (published 27/08/2017)

Empiricists in the philosophy of science take the basic criterion of success in science to be empirical, with the ultimate aim of empirically adequate theories, accurate representation of what is accessible to human observation and manipulation. Theories and the search for explanation are important, but instrumentally, as roads toward greater empirical knowledge. Empiricism is not skepticism, nor anti-realism in any general sense, it is just anti-scientific-realism. Empiricism as it is now can be combined with a ‘common sense realism’ that sees no difficulties in our reference to trees, rocks, persons, lasers, electron microscopes, interferometers, radio telescopes …. or, in their own way, optical phenomena such as rainbows and images produced by microscopes, to give some examples.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Bas C. van Fraassen.

Interviews » The End Times » Aristotelian Metaphysics (published 19/08/2017)

In understanding priority in Aristotle’s metaphysics we should first ask about the respect in which we are viewing priority: is it priority in time, in account, in definition, in knowledge, or in being, substance, and nature? I argue that the central notion, in the sense of what plays the role of a criterion for what counts as fundamentally real –Aristotle’s primary substance– or even in the sense of what being fundamentally real (partly) consists in, is ontological priority (in respect of being, substance, or nature).

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Michail Peramatzis.

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.