By Phil Percs (with Jon Cogburn, John Fletcher, BP Morton, and Duncan Richter)
University professors, restricted in this way, are quite happy about the matter, for their real concern is to earn with credit an honest livelihood for themselves and also for their wives and children and moreover to enjoy a certain prestige in the eyes of the public. On the other hand, the deeply stirred mind of the real philosopher, whose whole concern is to look for the key to our existence, as mysterious as it is precarious, is regarded by them as something mythological, if indeed the man so affected does not even appear to them to be obsessed by a monomania, should he ever be met with among them. For that a man could really be in dead earnest about philosophy does not as a rule occur to anyone, least of all to a lecturer thereon; just as the most sceptical Christian is usually the Pope. It has, therefore, been one of the rarest events for a genuine philosopher to be at the same time a lecturer in philosophy.
- Email correspondence between Björk and philosopher Timothy Morton concerning what 'ism' she might be and OOO (not referring to the thousand or so year post-Apocalyptic Earth of Adventure Time, but rather Object-Oriented Ontology). [Sans parenthetical and bracketed comments, this is also entry #2 in Metaphysics Broadly Construed below.]
- Literary Hub's Tobias Carroll delineates the genre/aesthetic of weird fiction, with some great examples. Nice to see Samuel Delaney and Jeff Vandermeer represented.
- The Spectator's James Woodall celebrates Ringo Starr's contribution to the Beatles. It's really nice to see that John Lennon never made the joke about Ringo not even being the best drummer in the Beatles.
- Damien Hirst in Winter. QUOTE- "He would pull his foreskin through a hole in his pocket, then exclaim in mock alarm: “What’s that?” “People would go, ‘You’ve got some chewing gum on your trousers.’ They would touch it and go, ‘What the fuck?’” he said, smirking. He played this trick on drinking buddies and he played it on complete strangers." At least the poor shark wasn't (I presume) subjected to that.
- Aesthetics for Birds' Bill Seeley defends the view that cognitive science is relevant to aesthetics. Very nice critical discussion of his opponent (going back to Wittgenstein) as well as wonderful photographs of Seeley's own sculptures.
- Boston Review's Jessica Crispin on how not to write like Eat, Pray, Love's Elizabeth Gilbert. QUOTE- "She may travel to India, but she remains tucked away in an ashram, conversing almost exclusively with westerners, more interested in relaying the details of her recent breakup than noticing anything about her host country. From there, she goes to Bali and tries to rescue a poor Balinese woman by raising money to buy her a house, and then criticizes that same woman for not playing along." In Bali there are signs in some restaurants that say "Eat. Pay. Leave."
- If your seven year old asks you who would win between a jaguar and a crocodile, you can show them this.
- A neat example of bird intelligence, a wild crow that has received a few weeks of problem solving training, solves an 8 step puzzle.
- Pea Soup's Caspar Hare leads a discussion of Preston Greene & Meghan Sullivan's "Against Time Bias."
- The Critique's David Benatar muses about anti-natalism and the first True Detective show.
- 3AM's Timothy Kennett reviews David Graber’s The Utopia of Rules. QUOTE- "Graeber, however, is skeptical of bureaucracy’s ability to change or improve; indeed, he is skeptical of its ability to be effective at all. He predicts “that any market reform, any government initiative intended to reduce red tape and promote market forces will have the ultimate effect of increasing the total number of regulations, the total amount of paperwork, and the total number of bureaucrats the government employs.”
- NYTimes' Alex Rosenberg on whether moral disagreements can be resolved. Hurrah, Alex Rosenberg!
- aeon's Leslie Garrett on just how messed up it is to tell kids that they can be anything. QUOTE- "Indeed, a 2011 survey of more than 5,000 children around the world revealed that while almost half of children in developing countries dreamed of becoming doctors and teachers, more than a quarter of American children aspire to such careers as professional athletes, singers and actors. When a grown‑up asks the inevitable: What do you want to be when you grow up?, most kids have an answer: video‑game developer; astronaut; back-up dancer for Rihanna. And many grown-ups will congratulate them for dreaming big, assuring them that, with hard work and a can-do attitude, they can be anything they want."
- n + 1's Meagan Day reviews Göran Hugo Olsson’s Concerning Violence: Nine Scenes from the Anti-Imperialist Self-Defense. The film consists of audio excerpts from Franz Fanon over documentary footage, with an introduction from Gayatri Spivak.
Gender and its Discontents:
- Another week, another deceptive edit of a Planned Parenthood "sting" video. Media Matters breaks down the creative cutting.
- Feminist Philosophers' Anne Jacobsin on the Papineau brouhaha. QUOTE- "Let me first say that readers may want to pay particular attention to his discussion, both for the information conveyed and for the model of discourse that is presented. Among other things, Papineau’s discussion reveals he has listened seriously to those invoking empirical research on implicit bias and stereotype threat. He is critical of the role of aggressive discourse. Perhaps most remarkably, he considers whether the typical topics of philosophical discourse should be enlarged to consider issues about, for example, power and gender. Papineau’s comments argue an unusual ability to expand one’s imagination. To take a more critical view: I will mention two problematic areas in his discussion: 1. His view of the place of the excellence required by philosophy, and 2. Two assumptions he makes about women in relation to philosophy."
- The Washington Post's Caitlin Dewey presents Michael Kasumovic and Jeffrey Kuznekoff's research that shows that men who harass women in on-line video games are more likely to be losers. QUOTE- "Some male players, however — the ones who were less-skilled at the game, and performing worse relative their peers — made frequent, nasty comments to the female gamers. In other words, sexist dudes are literally losers." A little bit funny but also sad. POSSIBLE JUST-SOIST UPSHOT- '"Our results support an evolutionary argument for why low-status, low-performing males are hostile towards female competitors," the study said. "Low-status and low-performing males have the most to lose as a consequence of the hierarchical reconfiguration due to the entry of a competitive woman. As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status, the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank. This idea is reinforced by the fact that higher-skilled males that should not feel threatened by a female increased their number of positive comments.'"
- Slate's David J. Morris on how the preferred treatment for PTSD makes many people's symptoms worse (half of people being treated quit). Psychotherapy never fails us. We only fail psychotherapy.
- Believer's Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah presents a history of the Electric Lady recording studio. This is really quite amazing in lots of ways, including Ghansah's own first-person recollections of working there. QUOTE-"It’s easy to use words like vibe and surreal to describe Electric Lady, but it is almost impossible to understand the brave new world Hendrix was trying to forge with his studio if one doesn’t know that, in 1968, the idea of a studio owned by an artist—and one that had been built to allow artists to sit in the control room—was almost unheard of. Studios operated for the most part under the ironfisted grip of record companies. Engineers of that era were largely technicians, so much so that they often wore lab coats and cut their mixes in sterile, scientific environments. “There was a real boundary line between one side of the glass and the other, so Jimi’s idea was that it would be a safe haven for artists,” the Electric Lady’s architect, John Storyk, told me last summer."
- One of our activist friends who is a TPOC is being kicked off Facebook in basically the same way that Joy is describing, (albeit in a different city) because he got reported for name violations after having the temerity to critique a gay white guy in a space that was supposed to be for all LGBTQ folks. In January Facebook promised the Drag and Trans communities that they were not going to continue the real name policy, and would cease harassing drag and trans folk about ID backing for the names we use in public in non-fraudulent ways. But it has continued unabated, and indeed turned into a response tactic for people that feel that trans folk are being to uppity.
- “On July 16, the EEOC concluded in a 3-2 vote that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination and hence violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (Several circuit courts have ruled otherwise, meaning this may be a legal question the Supreme Court will have to settle someday.)” But Indiana like 28 other states has no state protections on LGBT employment, and there is plenty of evidence of actual employment discrimination.
- Daily Beast's Jen Yamato on the issue of if/when WWE will have wrestlers who are gay in storyline. The title of the piece is a little unfair and misleading, but Yamato does a great job explaining the history and current thinking of WWE with respect to this. The only missing piece of information is that part of the reason GLAAD works with WWE today is because of WWE's anti-bullying campaign.
- Wonkette's Rebecca Schoenkopf on the recent Gawker fiasco. QUOTE- "In addition to facing, according to your owner Nick Denton, possible million dollar losses in advertising — which you would possibly care about once there were a million dollars’ worth of layoffs — your story put a fucking fat target on your company for people who would like to sue it into oblivion. Couple the itchy-trigger-finger lawsuit folks with the stupid, relentless people who suck and who have nothing better to do in life than ring up advertisers and tell them you love to make fun of retarded babies, or out private citizens like you’re fucking Roy Cohn, and guess what then? Sorry if I sound like a capitalist — or, worse, a boss! — but you sound like whiny-ass millennial titty babies. The only thing missing is your mom complaining to the board on your behalf."
Logic and Language:
- Believer's Robert Schneider and Benjamin Phelan tell the story of Ramanujan. QUOTE- "'There’s no way Ramanujan knew all these intermediate things,' says Ono. 'The concepts [encoded in the tau function] didn’t exist when he was alive. That’s the mind-boggling part: Ramanujan anticipated the work of people who would live long after him. He had visions that said there were going to be some theories in the future. Somehow. He didn’t need any intermediate steps for him to anticipate that there would be all these subjects, and that he would find the first examples of them, and that they would go on to be the prototypes that we desperately needed to build our subjects. Whether he’s in fashion or out of fashion has more to do with us, with where we are in coming to grips with him.'”
- M Phi-s Catarina Dutilh Novaes’ finishes her series of posts on reductio ad absurdum from a dialogical perspective.
- Part I, Problems with reductio proofs: cognitive aspects
- Part II, Problems with reductio proofs: assuming the impossible
- Part III, Problems with reductio proofs: “jumping to conclusions"
- Part IV, A precis of the dialogical account of deduction
- Part V, Dialectical refutations and reductio ad absurdum
- Part VI, Reductio arguments from a dialogical perspective: final considerations
Metaphysics, broadly construed:
- enemyindustry's David Roden responds to some of the recent hoopla over his Posthuman Life. There's some really nice new discussion of Eugene Thacker's work and the relevance of Schopenhauer to these debates. In the next post Roden is going to work through some of the ideas raised by BP Morton in this post.
- Email correspondence between Björk and philosopher Timothy Morton concerning what 'ism' she might be and OOO.
- Shannon Spaulding, "Imagination, Desire, and Rationality" (Journal of Philosophy).
- Catarina Dutilh Novaes and Erich Reck, "Carnapian explication, formalisms as cognitive tools, and the paradox of adequate formalization" (Phil. Studies). ABSTRACT- "Explication is the conceptual cornerstone of Carnap’s approach to the methodology of scientific analysis. From a philosophical point of view, it gives rise to a number of questions that need to be addressed, but which do not seem to have been fully addressed by Carnap himself. This paper reconsiders Carnapian explication by comparing it to a different approach: the ‘formalisms as cognitive tools’ conception (Formal languages in logic. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge2012a). The comparison allows us to discuss a number of aspects of the Carnapian methodology, as well as issues pertaining to formalization in general. We start by introducing Carnap’s conception of explication, arguing that there is a tension between his proposed criteria of fruitfulness and similarity; we also argue that his further desideratum of exactness is less crucial than might appear at first. We then bring in the general idea of formalisms as cognitive tools, mainly by discussing the reliability of so-called statistical prediction rules (SPRs), i.e. simple algorithms used to make predictions across a range of areas. SPRs allow for a concrete instantiation of Carnap’s fruitfulness desideratum, which is arguably the most important desideratum for him. Finally, we elaborate on what we call the ‘paradox of adequate formalization’, which for the Carnapian corresponds to the tension between similarity and fruitfulness. We conclude by noting that formalization is an inherently paradoxical enterprise in general, but one worth engaging in given the ‘cognitive boost’ it affords as a tool for discovery."
- Philosophy, lit, etc.'s Paul Raymont continues his genealogy of the difference between fact and opinion in Fact-opinion 9, opinion (part d).
- Philpercs own Helen De Cruz continues her Philosopher's Cocoon series of posts on skilled perception.
- Pete Mandik, "Conscious-state Anti-Realism."
- See entry #2 on Animals
Philosophers: Stylin' and Profilin'
- Eerdwod asks Nicholas Woltorstorff five questions, mostly about The God We Worship. QUOTE- "Most religious believers do in fact have beliefs about God; that is certainly true for Christians. But most religions also include liturgies and rituals, and most adherents of most religions participate in the liturgies and rituals of their religions. Yet philosophers have paid almost no attention to this important dimension of religion. . . For some time now I have regarded this “myopia” as deeply regrettable. So I am hard at work on a book, addressed to my fellow philosophers, that I am tentatively calling Acting Liturgically: Philosophical Reflections on Liturgy. I hope that the book will succeed in showing my fellow philosophers that liturgy poses a large number of fascinating philosophical issues, and that it will contribute to jump-starting a new sub-discipline within philosophy of religion."
Race and Racism:
- We have more than one friend who was present at Netroots Nation 15 in Phoenix and saw the interactions between the BlackLivesMatter protestors and Bernie Sanders. We know at least one Sanders supporter who has turned away from Sanders because of his poor handling of this. We are hearing many narratives, and many spins on this event. We're not sure what to say here except that it needs to be thought about. . .
- "WWE terminated its contract with Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan). WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide."
- Huffington Post's Kelly James Clark schools Franklin Graham and the one hundred sixty-five thousand or so bigots who facebook liked his screed. Also please read this post by Trinitarian Mission.
- Digression & Impressions' Eric Schliesser meditates on the revival of Christian philosophy. We hope the back and forth between Schliesser and Winsberg in the comments continues.
- The Table's Jeanine Brown on what Christians ought to think about poverty. QUOTE- "Those who were often viewed with contempt by society are those whom Jesus tells his followers to care for and value." Amen!
- Dan Kahan on the difference between knowing what evolution is and believing in evolution.
- We all need to make sure we're up to speed on the crisis in teledildonics patent trolling.
- Idle Words on the first 100 years of web design. This is a fascinating, accessible, and philosophically fruitful piece. The photos and information about commercial jetliner design are worth the price of admission alone. EXAMPLE FROM BIT ABOUT THE UNEXPECTED CRUSHING TRIUMPH OF THE 747 OVER ITS SCIENCE FICTIONY RIVALS- "We have a space station in 2014, but it's too embarrassing to talk about. Sometimes we send Canadians up there. Never mind the Moon—we can't even launch astronauts into orbit anymore. If we want to go to our sad-sack space station, we have to ask the Russians, and they're mean to us. Can you imagine the look in that engineer's eyes? The technology was pointing in one direction, the future was clear and inevitable. And then it never happened. Why? First, we ran into diminishing returns. As these planes got faster, they got more expensive to design and operate. Pushing all that air out of the way required exotic materials and vast amounts of fuel. The space program was even worse. Those rockets used a lot of public money that could be better spent on bombing Vietnam." The author then argues that the Moore's Law exponential sleigh ride is over and in fact has been for a while. ANOTHER QUOTE ON PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE IN THE TECH INDUSTRY - "The flip side of our disregard for the past is a love of gratuitous change. Any office worker who uses Microsoft products knows this pain. At some point fairly early on, Microsoft Office became good enough. Windows became good enough. But that hasn't stopped Microsoft from constantly releasing new versions, and forcing people to upgrade. I pick on Microsoft because so many of us have experience with their software, but this holds true for any software vendor. Consider the war Microsoft is waging against XP users. After years of patching, XP became a stable, beloved, and useful operating system. A quarter of desktops still run it. This is considered a national crisis. Rather than offer users persuasive reasons to upgrade software, vendors insist we look on upgrading as our moral duty. The idea that something might work fine the way it is has no place in tech culture." UPSHOT- "This is the correct vision. The Web erases the barrier of distance between people, and it puts all of human knowledge at our fingertips. It also allows us to look at still images and videos of millions of cats, basically all of it for free, from our homes or a small device we carry in our pocket. No one person owns it, no one person controls it, you don't need permission to use it. And the best part is, you are encouraged to contribute right back. You can post your own cat pictures. Why is this not enough?"
- Rebecca Kukla brings the thunder in and out of the ring.
- You've seen the Jurassic World--High Heels Edition video, right? If not, you need to see the Jurassic World--High Heels Edition video. Because philosophy.
- Ernest Hemingway’s Six-Month Appraisal at BuzzFeed.
- Godwin's Law apparently also applies to incompetently pretentious magazines!
- How to get a haircut similar to Joseph Stalin without showing the girl who cuts my hair a picture of Joseph Stalin?
- Philosophy Club.
- What might happen if you ask a new acquaintance to get coffee.
- Beauty magazine editors consult on the new ten dollar bill.
This Week’s Cool Podcasts/Videos:
- See This Week’s Wifi below.
- The first episode of Prindle Post's new podcast (Paul B. Thompson on food ethics and Marcia McKelligan about ethics bowl).
- History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps′ Peter Adamson on Bonaventure.
- Philosophy Bites' Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds interview Susan James about Foucault and Knowledge.
- The Partially Examined Life's Mark Linsenmayer presents Episode 119: Nietzsche on Tragedy and the Psychology of Art (Part Three).
- The Philosopher’s Zone’s Joe Gelonosi on Marriage.
- Philosophy Talk's John Perry and Ken Taylor on Neuroscience and Free Will.
This Week’s IEP:
- Charles Hartshorne: Dipolar Theism.
- Charles Hartshorne: Biography and Psychology of Sensation.
- Charles Hartshorne: Theistic and Anti-Theistic Arguments.
- Anna Gotlib's Feminist Ethics and Narrative Ethics.
- Anthony Bolos' Reformed Epistemology.
This Week’s NDPR:
- Catherine Audard reviews John Mandle and David A. Reidy (eds.)' A Companion to Rawls.
- Johannes Zachhuber reviews George Karamanolis' The Philosophy of Early Christianity.
- James Harold reviews Peter Lamarque's The Opacity of Narrative.
- Ronnie Littlejohn reviews James F. Peterman's Whose Tradition? Which Dao?: Confucius and Wittgenstein on Moral Learning and Reflection.
- Jean Paul Van Bendegem reviews Mark van Atten's Essays on Essays on Gödel's Reception of Leibniz, Husserl, and Brouwer.
- Manuel R. Vargas reviews Shaun Nichols' Bound: Essays on Free Will and Responsibility.
- Karsten Stueber reviews Heidi L. Maibom (ed.)'s Empathy and Morality.
- Jeremy Williams reviews Tom Bailey and Valentina Gentile (eds.)' Rawls and Religion.
- Margaret Atherton reviews Paul Lodge and Tom Stoneham (eds.)' Locke and Leibniz on Substance.
- Christopher Frey reviews John Campbell and Quassim Cassam's Berkeley's Puzzle: What Does Experience Teach Us?
This Week’s SEP:
- Philosophy of Statistical Mechanics (Lawrence Sklar) [REVISED: July 24, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography.
- Medieval Theories of Conscience (Douglas Langston) [REVISED: July 23, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography.
- Walter Benjamin (Peter Osborne and Matthew Charles) [REVISED: July 22, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography.
- Environmental Ethics (Andrew Brennan and Yeuk-Sze Lo) [REVISED: July 21, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, biodiversity.html, theories-research.html
- Medieval Mereology (Andrew Arlig) [REVISED: July 18, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography.
- Moore's Moral Philosophy (Thomas Hurka) [REVISED: July 18, 2015]
Changes to: Main text, Bibliography.
This Week's WiPhi:
- Marc Lange on the Paradox of the Ravens.
- Dailynous' Justin Weinberg starts a discussion on student plagiarism and plagiarism detection software. FINAL BIT- "Once, most of a student’s paper was marked by SafeAssign as plagiarized. I confronted the student with the accusation. He repeatedly and strenuously denied plagiarizing. Further investigation revealed I was mistaken. He hadn’t plagiarized. He had simply bought the paper from someone who had."
- In related pundocrisy, Teaching and Learning in Higher Ed's Gerald Nelms on plagiarism as an educational opportunity. I assumed this was absolutely daft until I started reading it.
- Against Professional Philosophy's JV, Ishmael, L_E, and Z have a round-table discussion on a set of recent posts. QUOTE- "The philosophy blogosphere is awash these days in calls for philosophers to engage with a broader audience, but all they really want is to find a way to expand their professional-style philosophy into a broader sphere." Ouch.
What it's Like:
Every morning this dog, very attached to me,
Quietly keeps sitting near my seat
Till touching its head
I recognize its company.
This recognition gives it so much joy
Pure delight ripples through its entire body.
Among all dumb creatures
It is the only living being
That has seen the whole man
Beyond what is good or bad in him
It has seen
For his love it can sacrifice its life
It can love him too for the sake of love alone
For it is he who shows the way
To the vast world pulsating with life.
When I see its deep devotion
The offer of its whole being
I fail to understand
By its sheer instinct
What truth it has discovered in man.
By its silent anxious piteous looks
It cannot communicate what it understands
But it has succeeded in conveying to me
Among the whole creation
What is the true status of man