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Interviews » The End Times » Why Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics Is More Important Than That of Poached Eggs (published 11/02/2017)

I think the scientists who are unhappy with metaphysics generally have a rather narrow view of what metaphysics is – that it’s speculation, unconstrained by empirical findings, angels on the head of a pin stuff. I’m not saying that doesn’t go on. But there is such a thing as empirically informed metaphysics. If you want to find out about the nature of the physical world, then sure, look to physics. But don’t expect a physics textbook to provide all the answers.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Peter Lewis.

Interviews » The End Times » Internalism and Descartes’ Demon and Stuff (published 04/02/2017)

He seemed to think that sensations, perceptual experiences, emotions, imaginations – all mental features with a phenomenal character – supervene on bodily states and require what he called the “union of mind and body”. This aspect of Descartes’s dualism often puzzles interpreters, since in addition to asserting that mind and body are distinct, he also says that they are “intermingled”. I propose an interpretation of the relevant texts that is coherent with dualism. The key is that on Descartes’s view, all the mental features just mentioned need a proximate cause outside the mind. So they depend on the body not for their existence, but for their causal origin.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Katalin Farkas

Interviews » The End Times » Against Post-Truth: The Logical Experience of Knowledge, the Circularity of Truth etc (published 28/01/2017)

Truth is definitely a circular concept. And it is essentially circular; there is no non-circular way of giving an extensionally adequate definition of truth. The circularity is not vicious, however, in any sense that implies incoherence or defect in the concept of truth. On the contrary, some of the functions truth serves require that the concept be essentially circular.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Anil Gupta.

Interviews » The End Times » Turing tests, Chinese Rooms, Sherlock Holmes, Wittgensteinian Vagueness and Descartes (published 22/01/2017)

Brain research can make no contribution to traditional philosophical questions. These are conceptual, not empirical, and therefore no empirical discovery can shed light on the issues they involve.
But even more specific, non-conceptual questions that can be asked by neuroscientists sometimes involve problematic conceptual assumptions which might undermine them. I think the search for a brain correlate of voluntary action is one such case.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Hanoch Ben-Yam.

Reviews » Scotland Yardie (published 20/01/2017)

These are caricatures by dint of their very likeness, tautologies of themselves, buckled to the fast dialogue and tic tac caustic critique, working a humour pitched towards a knowing affection for its sources and illustrious originals whilst simultaneously pointing pointingly to their defects. Knowing the detectives and their shows you’re ready for the shoe-horned well-known premises, the outsider cop and his sidekick buddy and all that jazz where a fast and hilariously layered plot makes its contrivance answer all purposes and understand each swift visual interruption and eruption that the ‘Scotland Yardie’ graphic novel represents.

Richard Marshall reviews Bobby Joseph and Joseph Samuels’ Scotland Yardie graphic novel.

Interviews » The End Times » Darwinian Creativity, Memetics and Some (published 14/01/2017)

Memetics reduces again either to something trivial – no big news that there are cultural items that spread, right – or to something false: that they make copies of themselves and that they spread because of their properties. The last point, an explanatory analogy, is often taken to also imply that memes spread independently of the beliefs and interests of human beings, which is also wrong.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Maria Kronfeldner.

Interviews » The End Times » Kant, other minds and intersecting issues… (published 07/01/2017)

An Epicurean is someone who thinks that when people are dead, they no longer exist. Our suggestion is that people are implicit Epicureans. How should an implicit Epicurean answer the questions in the study? Consider first the vignette in which David is dead. You’re asked whether you agree or disagree with statements such as ‘David has emotions and feelings’. This statement presupposes that David exists. And it’s very natural to think that when a statement has a presupposition that you take to be false, neither agreement or disagreement seems appropriate. (Compare being asked whether you agree or disagree with the statement ‘I’ve stopped cheating on my partner’.)

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Anil Gomes.

Essays » Lumpenproletariat. Writing Attack/Antisystem/Subliterature (published 03/01/2017)

These are properly “deconstructive texts” in the sense that they burlesque rather than conventionally critique: they occupy the very language of disenfranchisement that is otherwise employed to demonstrate that they do not really exist. There is nothing of a Foucauldian paradigm here: this is not some pretence to an authentic voice of the excluded, a critique of the history of reason from the POV of the madwoman in the attic. The truly subversive character of the sublit project is that it is first and foremost a “locus” of détourning action – a radical poetics – a tropism. While the theorisers of the recuperated avantgarde toil to contain and expropriate the thing they imagine subliterature to be, their grasp necessarily comes up empty: there’s nothing to grasp, in any case, but a hologram of their own transgressed image, which they are more than adept at attending to.

Louis Armand on the Sublit Project.

Reviews » Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned (published 31/12/2016)

In Willy’s ‘ Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned’ we find ‘there are no good fairies: the bad fairies killed them off long ago. ’ Bad magic also illustrates the crisis of masculinity of the time: in Arenes’ ‘The Ogresses’ we have a painter who falls in love with and is a victim of the Ogresses’ seven daughters. As mentioned above Bluebeard becomes a victim of scheming wives. A century before Margaret Atwood, AS Byatt, Angela Carter decadent fairy tales upended sexual stereotypes. Mendes’s Beauty refuses the prince’s kiss, preferring to dream on. Wily’s Daphnis and Chloe don’t marry, they just have sex: ‘ People have filled your head with ridiculously optimistic notions and persuaded you to believe in good fairies… All that, my children, is a farce, and you must believe the exact opposite of such nonsense.’

Richard Marshall reviews Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned.

Interviews » The End Times » Kuhn’s Science and Does Medicine Really Care About Patients? (published 23/12/2016)

Who is the physician? The answer to this question has changed dramatically through the centuries. For the Greek and Roman traditions, for example, the nature of the physician shifted from priest to philosopher. Today another shift has occurred, from philosopher to scientist—especially technician. The human factor has been eliminated or greatly marginalized, and so professionalism is often reduced to technical competence. Little if any human competence, if you will, is required of a medical professional today, and this can result in patient harm and compromise the morality of modern medicine. Unfortunately, modern medicine too often resembles an industrial factory in which patients are placed on a conveyer belt, and then anatomized, tested, and treated.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews James Marcum.