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Interviews » The End Times » Digital Ghosts (published 20/02/2016)

Future-Brain

Your whole body is just a system of cells. It’s like a library of interacting books, which all tell stories about each other. Or its like a network of interacting computers. You are a visceral internet, a living digital library. As part of your body, your brain is also digital. If it’s not digital, then what is it? Don’t say analog, because that’s just an infinity of bits. If it’s not digital, then it contains something that escapes binary division. Plato wrote about this in his Sophist, which I think is by far his best dialogue. If you don’t think the brain is digital, then you believe it contains a sophist. To use the Platonic imagery, the brain is a trackless wilderness, haunted by an uncanny shadow.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Eric Steinhart.

Interviews » The End Times » Scepticism and Early Wittgenstein (published 13/02/2016)

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I had always been attracted to the challenge of understanding Wittgenstein’s enigmatic early work. The Tractatus is the result of a phenomenal burst of intellectual energy. Wittgenstein arrived in Cambridge in 1911 to work with Bertrand Russell. He was 22 years old, he spoke little English and had no philosophical training. By 1913 he had already developed some of the central ideas of the book. He wrote it while serving in the Austrian army during World War I. When the war ended in 1918 he had finished it. The book conveys an enormous sense of depth and mystery. You feel that he is on to something important, even if you can’t quite see what it is.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jose Zalabardo.

Interviews » The End Times » Truth, Knowability, Mind and Romantic Love (published 07/02/2016)

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Romantic love is a classical philosophical topic, and while neuroscientists and psychologists have much to add, I am of the belief that this is one of the few areas left where philosophers have a clear advantage and can make genuine progress. What really drew me to this topic was my interest in the emotions. Add to that my bewilderment upon witnessing the puzzling tendency in the popular literature to focus either on the ‘feelings’ involved in love or the brain chemicals and neural correlates underlying them.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Berit Brogaard.

Interviews » The End Times » Nietzsche, Art and the Neo-Hegelian Commitment (published 31/01/2016)

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Some might see the Nazis, on this front, as having tried to put Nietzsche’s ideas into action in fashioning themselves as the Germanic inheritors of the Greco-Roman culture of the past. Think, in this vein, of all that neo-classical triumphalist architecture of Speer. They wanted to make a resplendent culture, in part by aestheticizing the political sphere, in that famous description due to Walter Benjamin. Nietzsche despised the nascent German Reich under Bismarck, despised power politics, and would have despised the Nazis. But his celebration of excellence, achievement, strength, and splendor, including when these come at the expense of ordinary morality, can leave him uncomfortably close to some ideas that took a hugely nasty turn—a turn, I again stress, that he wouldn’t have supported.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Andrew Huddleston.

Interviews » The End Times » Necessary Metaphysics (published 17/01/2016)

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Metaphysics and science both examine and explain reality, even though the means by which they do so differ. So metaphysics and science share their subject matter, but not their methods. But this non-overlap of methods does not entail that science and metaphysics are two completely independent ways of asking questions about a common subject and providing answers to those questions. Instead, we insist that the methodological autonomy of metaphysics can be maintained even if metaphysicians also employ the empirical results of science — as they should.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tuomas E Tahko.

Fiction » Andy Warhol and Angela Carter: Blackstar 10/1/16 (published 16/01/2016)

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Now the stark elders have an anorexic look; there is not much in the autumn wood to make you smile but it is not yet, not quite yet, the saddest time of the year. Only, there is a haunting sense of the imminent cessation of being; the year, in turning, turns in on itself. Introspective weather, a sickroom hush. What is […] made of? Birdbones and tissue paper. spun glass and straw.

Completing 3:AM’s Blackstar Saturday, Andy Warhol and Angela Carter make an oblique pass at Blackstar.

Fiction » Franz Kafka and James Baldwin: Blackstar 10/1/16 (published )

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Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have.

Franz Kafka and James Baldwin take oblique passes at Blackstar.

Fiction » Simone de Beauvoir and Emil Cioran: Blackstar 10/1/16 (published )

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As far as I am concerned, I resign from humanity. I no longer want to be, nor can still be, a man. What should I do? Work for a social and political system, make a girl miserable? Hunt for weaknesses in philosophical systems, fight for moral and aesthetic ideals? It’s all too little. I renounce my humanity even though I may find myself alone. But am I not already alone in this world from which I no longer expect anything?

Simone de Beauvoir and Emil Cioran take oblique passes at

Fiction » de Sade and Anais Nin: Blackstar 10/1/16 (published )

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To hell, to hell with balance! I break glasses; I want to burn, even if I break myself. I want to live only for ecstasy. I’m neurotic, perverted, destructive, fiery, dangerous – lava, inflammable, unrestrained. I will not be just a tourist in the world of images, just watching images passing by which I cannot live in, make love to, possess as permanent sources of joy and ecstasy.

de Sade and Anais Nn take oblique passes at Blackstar.

Interviews » The End Times » The Hedonistic Utilitarian (published 10/01/2016)

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Once we realise that utilitarianism comes with the idea of blameworthy rightdoing (such as when you push a big man onto the tracks in order to save five lives) and blameless wrongdoing (such as when you don’t push a big man onto the tracks in order to save five lives), then utilitarianism all of a sudden appears to give the right answers. It is indeed right to push the big man, but we should attempt not to become people who are prepared to do this, since this would, even if it helps us to the right decision in this abstract thought experiment, make us dangerous, nasty, and ones no one should want to socialise with.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Torbjörn Tännsjö .