:: The End Times

The Contesting Memory of African Philosophy published 12/08/2018

An African philosophical perspective, that takes itself seriously, must engage the question of being—i.e., what to be means—for contemporary Africa, since colonialism, above all else, destroyed the differing modes of African being-in-the-world. Indeed, the struggle for African freedom (which presently has achieved only the status of formal independence) is aimed at precisely this; reclaiming the African experience of being from within the context of our contemporary world. This is what Amilcar Cabral means by “return to the source.” This too is what Frantz Fanon is calling us to when he insists that we must invent our freedom. Remember, this is how The Wretched [Damned] of the Earth ends—one of the most important works of contemporary African philosophy.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tsenay Serequeberhan.

» Read more...

Is Time Travel Possible? Are We Close to Doomsday? And Other Big Deals… published 04/08/2018

The Doomsday Argument applies anthropic thinking to our place in history.  It says (roughly), we should favour the prospect of imminent human extinction on the grounds that our location, qua randomly selected humans, is more probable if a large fraction of all humans there will ever be have already lived.  In other words, the argument runs, if we apply anthropic reasoning to our location in history, we should increase our probability for history being close to its end.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Alasdair Richmond.

» Read more...

Interdisciplinary: Metaphysics, Science and Philosophy published 28/07/2018

Looking at Pauli’s scientific correspondence and the way he originally introduced the principle in a letter to Alfred Landé in 1924, it was clear that it was a purely phenomenological rule to explain some puzzling phenomena in spectroscopy on which Pauli and colleagues had been working for years. Heisenberg referred to it teasingly as Pauli’s “Verbot”; and it was only with Dirac that it became known as “Pauli’s exclusion principle” in 1926. How did a phenomenological rule eventually become a scientific principle?

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Michela Massimi.

» Read more...

Philosophy and Poetry published 22/07/2018

Martha Nussbaum argued that what we value is embedded in narrative structures (it’s the way in which some object figures in a narrative that attaches value and significance to it) and it is the particular histories with certain things that gives them the significance they have in our lives. For instance, my lucky penny is not lucky in itself but has developed this significance because I have carried it around and there have been a series of events which I perceive to have experienced luck whilst in possession of the penny. The penny may have further significance if given to me by a loved one, and so through the connected episodes the object is configured with a particular value and significance that can only be understood or explained with reference to that history. Nussbaum develops this thought with reference to the role emotional responses play in shaping this significance in such episodes (e.g. the feeling of security that comes from knowing I have my lucky penny to my gratitude in succeeding in my endeavours and attributing that gratitude to that particular object).

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Karen Simecek.

» Read more...

The Weaponising of Free Speech On Campus, and Other Toxicities… published 20/07/2018

While the boundaries of speech have been debated and contested on campus for decades, the focus on free speech as a wedge issue is newer and more pressing in the last few years. The history of campus activism is long and storied: Students’ concerns about invited speakers, for instance, have sparked protests and disinvitations in the 1970s; the Vietnam war gave rise to heated political activity on campus; the sweatshop issue prompted students to stage sit-in numerous times over decades. None of the current expressions of tensions – protests, ‘no platforming,’ controversial speakers, disinvitations – is new. What we see now that we have not seen before is, first of all, the involvement of outside groups, ideologically motivated and funded by individuals and organizations, which are promoting the more divisive aspects of the current tensions. It seems that they do so either out of a sense that conservative and right-leaning views are too sparse on college campuses, or as part of an effort to discredit higher education for political reasons.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Sigal Ben-Porath.

» Read more...

Emptiness and No-Self: Nāgārjuna’s Madhyamaka published 15/07/2018

The emptiness of emptiness is interesting as a response to the Madhyamaka dilemma because of its meta-philosophical implications. It forces us to re-examine our conception of what philosophical theories are and what they do. The theory of emptiness certainly looks like a very general and very comprehensive metaphysical theory. And if we consider it from the perspective of Western metaphysics we are all familiar with, it is unclear how we could say that such a theory is not making the claim that it is ultimately true.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jan Westerhoff.

» Read more...

How Not To Be A Frog In A Well: Chinese/German/Buddhist Philosophy published 14/07/2018

Hegel and Rosenzweig belong to what could well be described as the religiously motivated rejection of non-Western forms of thought; they lack the grandeur and height of God and the individual dignity of the person that they respectively associate with Christianity and Judaism. These narratives are not only historically problematic in the past; they concern the present. Each time someone claims that the Chinese are merely imitative and not capable of creativity, merely collective without any sense of individuality, that an idea does not matter because it is only Chinese, and so on, they are reproducing the Eurocentric and Aryanist (it should not be forgotten the common use of such terms across the West until 1945) racial schemata that emerged in the Enlightenment as reason and freedom were increasingly identified as unique capacities of a particular race and civilization that had the duty to rule over lesser ones.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Eric S. Nelson.

» Read more...

Hindu Syllogisms and Dark Necessities Go Fusion published 07/07/2018

The other way you can improve on your own conceptual analysis via reflection on cases is by doing some experimental philosophy. To this end, I think the goal is to see what relation there is between your philosophical investigation and the way the folk use relevant terms in the semantic range of the term you have for the specific concept. Again, we can look at how Americans at Rutgers University use ‘knowledge’ and we can meaningfully compare that to how Malayali fisherman in Kerala use a term that is in the semantic range of ‘knows’ in English, such as ‘ariv’.   The experimental philosophy role I am thinking of does not battle with analytic philosophy. Rather, there is a supplementation or complementation between the two. I see things through the lens of what I call ACE Philosophy. Analytic philosophy united with Cross-Cultural philosophy, united with Experimental methods.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Anand Jayprakash Vaidya.

» Read more...

Nietzsche: the Middle Writings published 03/07/2018

The middle Nietzsche remains in large part very ‘unknown’ to readers of his writings and to philosophical culture as a whole; second, there is the assumption in many people’s heads that because the late Nietzsche obviously comes after the middle one that it must be the final, the authentic, the consummate Nietzsche, but this in my view is a large assumption to make. The late texts are specific texts; they work primarily as polemics (that often degenerate into rants!) Nietzsche himself said that the middle writings constituted the ‘yes-saying’ part of his task, whilst the late writings constitute the ‘no-saying’ part. The issue that needs reflecting upon, then, is the relation between the two parts of task and whether Nietzsche’s middle writings offer more of a philosophy of the future than do the late writings.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Keith Ansell-Pearson.

» Read more...

Maximus, Al-Farabi and the Extended Philosophical Canon published 01/07/2018

Maximus’ philosophy challenges our understanding of what European philosophy is. The examination of numerous aspects of Maximus’ philosophy stresses the interdisciplinary character of Maximian studies. Apart from Maximus’ relevance and importance for philosophy in general, a second question arises: should towering figures of Byzantine philosophy like Maximus the Confessor be included in an overview of the history of European philosophy, or rather excluded from it—as is the case today with most histories of European philosophy?

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Georgios Steiris.

» Read more...