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Interviews » The End Times » Not and Other Metalinguistic Stuff (published 12/03/2016)

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Transparency, in the relevant sense of the word, is a property of certain linguistic contexts. It’s a property they have if they permit the substitution of co-referring terms. For example, before he encountered Darth Vader in Cloud City, Luke Skywalker knew that Anakin Skywalker was his father. He didn’t know that Darth Vader was his father. It came as quite a shock to him, after all, when he learned the sad truth. But ‘Darth Vader’ and ‘Anakin Skywalker’ refer to the same man. So the context ‘Luke Skywalker knew that _ was his father’ fails to be transparent. Only transparent contexts license the sort of inference needed to challenge monism.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Mahrad Almotahari.

Interviews » The End Times » imagination supposition, imagine. (published 29/02/2016)

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The topic of imagination can evoke fancy, dreams, artistic abilities, in contrast with reality, facts, scientific abilities. Clearly this is a cliché and imagination, as I tried to show beforehand, is strongly connected to knowledge and the sciences. Stereotypically the humanities in general are tied to women, whereas the sciences to men. Moreover, among the humanities philosophy emerges as more masculine than languages or literature, for instance. But this does not stop here. Analytic philosophy is stereotypically masculine (though analytic feminism is increasing its visibility).

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Margherita Arcangeli.

Interviews » The End Times » The Pyrrhonian Skeptic (published 28/02/2016)

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The conversation I am interested in is also facilitated by the fact that most Greek philosophy pre-dates monotheistic premises. This doesn’t mean that for Plato, Aristotle, Chrysippus, Epicurus, and so on, there is no such thing as divinity. But for them it is a question, and not one to which the answer is simply available, how one should think of a god. And for all the ancients know, the soul may well be physical. The main interlocutors of ancient skeptics, Stoics and Epicureans, think so. This is one reason why ancient skeptics would not come up with external world skepticism. To them, it is an alien idea that ‘the mind’ is different in the relevant, radical way, from ‘the world.’ Instead it is a highly complex part of the world. I think this is along the right lines, and a good reason to study these theories.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Katja Vogt, with images by Jens Haas.

Reviews » I Hate the Internet (published )

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With the nasty-eyed sharpness of Swift, Burroughs or Houellebecq Kobek writes a tripwire just above the level for walking. Everyone falls down. It’s a satire about losing track of the world. How? It takes a swipe at those that suppose we’re tracking the world we’re in, rather than just the world. The result of that first-person engorgement is a fetishised digitalized idiocy exposed as a blank hate state, a bleak panorama of digitised repression balanced on the corrosive manipulative belief in a centred world. If Donald Trump is the personification of the centred-world, then Kobek’s satire can be directed towards him and all he stands for.

Richard Marshall reviews Jarett Kobek’s I Hate the Internet.

Interviews » The End Times » All About the Ego Tunnel (published 25/02/2016)

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Conscious experience as such is an exclusively internal affair: Once all functional properties of your brain are fixed, the character of subjective experience is determined as well. If there was no unidirectional flow of time on the level of inner experience, then we would live our conscious lives in a bubble, perhaps like some simple animals or certain mystics – locked into an eternal Now. However, our phenomenal model of reality is not only 3D, but 4D: Subjective time flows forward, the phenomenal self is embedded into this flow, an inner history unfolds. That it is why it is not a bubble, but a tunnel.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Thomas K Metzinger.

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

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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.