:: The End Times

Multi-Scale & Existentialist Freedoms published 09/11/2018

The idea of level encourages scientists, on the basis of nothing, to formulate the idea of dependence of everything on the minutest stuffs, because a level system admits of natural bottoms and tops.  And while there is no reason to resist the idea that any number of things depend on the minutest features of the universe, why (by the very same token) should we insist upon it?  In any case, it requires an argument to maintain any sort of dependence thesis, whatsoever its content.  That is my fundamental argument against levels.  By holding out the model of levels in advance of any argument to that end, we smuggle in some profound prejudices.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Mariam Thalos.

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Buddhaghosa: Immeasurable Words published 03/11/2018

The text that we have begins to list matrices that operate as a sort of table of contents introducing different types of causes and conditions among the phenomena of lived experience, and it operates in an algorithmic way of endlessly ramifying the possibilities for human experience. The Burmese scholars of old sometimes said it simply cannot be written down, and at others times tried to estimate how many cartloads of books it would take. There really is nothing equivalent to this style of thought about psychological experience in other traditions.

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

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Nietzschean Flourishing published 27/10/2018

Nietzsche argued that philosophers were wrong to endorse the psychological generalization that human beings avoid pain and seek pleasure.  Rather, we avoid pain and pleasure that we see as meaningless, and we seek pleasure and pain that we regard as meaningful.  So it is facts about meaning, rather than the hedonic quality of outcomes, that determines what we do. Nietzsche likes to make this point by mocking the English utilitarians, who claimed that happiness is the only thing we value for its own sake.  Nietzsche’s rejoinder is simple: “Man does not pursue happiness – only the Englishman does that”

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Paul Katsafanas.

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Taking Stock of Fiction and the Issue of Feminism and Trans Women published 19/10/2018

I don’t have the definitive answer as to why so many academics I otherwise respect have decided that my articulating the thoughts just expressed are ‘hateful’ or ‘transphobic’; nor why many others, who have no skin in the game either way, seem so content to let them go unchallenged. I think partly it is to do with feminist philosophy being a small club, and with me being an outsider to that club; partly to do with people’s commendable intention to be ‘inclusive’ but without facing the hard questions about how to enact that intention in a complicated world with many extant patterns of oppression; partly to do, ironically, with certain gendered stereotypes  which tends to position me, as a female, as particularly unkind in saying what I say, without seeking more charitable motives.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Katherine Stock.

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Rousseau: Where Does Social Inequality Come From? published 13/10/2018

Rousseau is certainly thinking of Augustine when he absolves God of the responsibility for evil, but he adds an important twist to his predecessor’s account of the same: for Rousseau evil does not enter the world through human sin but as a result of contingent events, including free human actions, whose evil consequences no one foresees or intends. By far the most important respect in which Rousseau is influenced on these matters by his predecessors lies in his appropriation of the connection drawn by Augustine between sin and pride and of Hobbes’s claim that glory is a major cause of the state of war that characterizes the state of nature.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Fred Neuhouser.

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Hegelian Themes published 06/10/2018

Idealism in Kant, Fichte and Hegel is a claim about the capacity of pure (empirically unaided) reason to determine of all that is knowable that it is knowable, and how it is knowable. Human reason can thus be understood to be self-authorizing, a tribunal unto itself. In the Hegelian version, this determination of the knowable is a determination of all that there is in its knowability and so is a metaphysics.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Robert Pippin.

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Zizek, Hegelian Theology after Lacan, and Philosophical Crisis published 28/09/2018

Dostoevsky–he was the first to write within the literary register that presented the truth of reality’s “crack” that underneath all the institutions (education, religion, the family etc.) what you really have is a social logic that undergirds and reproduces the powerful’s power. And all citizens are suppose to do is accept this logic (mostly unconsciously), but one devoted to truths in the end, just cannot accept this because they see social logic as a scam in which the powerful have become a transcendent master signifier, “God”. This is the meaning of Nietzsche’s pronouncement, “God is Dead… We have killed him” which was taken from Hegel actually.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Creston Davis.

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Making a Difference published 19/09/2018

Hume’s answer to the problem of induction is: ‘custom or habit’. The mechanism is just a brute mechanism that works as follows: once you’ve got enough experience of events just like y (e.g. feeling satisfyingly full rather than dropping dead) following events just like x (eating toast), you start just brutely coming to expect y-type events when we experience x-type events. That’s it. Essentially it’s no different to what happens when your dog infers that a walk is imminent from the fact that you’ve just put your coat on, picked up its lead and said ‘Walkies!’. Your dog has come to expect a walk to follow because that’s what’s always happened in the past.

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

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Buddhism and Levinas published 14/09/2018

A chair, for example, is often regarded as “the same chair” whether it is painted one color or another, or a leg is replaced. Moreover, the concepts we employ are understood to circumscribe or capture that essence. But if all phenomena are always arising and passing away, dependent on causes and conditions, then—according to many Buddhist thinkers—they do not possess the nature or essence that we attribute to them with our words and concepts. They do not exist independently. According to our social/linguistic conventions, of course, things do have meanings that are stable. But upon analysis, many Buddhists argue, it is we who have superimposed these meanings on passing phenomena. Ultimately, these phenomena lack, or are empty of, the concepts that we superimpose upon them. Even this emptiness of the meaning that is superimposed, it is argued by some Buddhist philosophers, is itself dependent on the mental imputation of an essence, and is therefore also empty.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews William Endelglass.

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The Causal Revolutionary published 08/09/2018

We have never internalized how profound this dichotomy is, which Nancy Cartwright immortalized in: “No causes in no causes out.” This means that statistics and big-data cannot answer ANY causal question, for example, what will happen if we intervene (say ban cigarettes) or what would have happened had we acted differently. The latter being counterfactual.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Judea Pearl.

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