The view that metaphysics is a waste of time appears to be gaining in popularity with every passing day. It is held openly by many scientists and even by many philosophers. I argue here that this is a consequence of the way metaphysics is often done, the futility of a certain approach to it, and not a reason to suppose that there is no useful knowledge to be acquired in metaphysics.
The paper offers a critical reflection, inspired by the insights of integrational linguistics, on the conception of thinking and action within the distributed cognition approach of Edwin Hutchins. Counterposing a fictional account of a mutiny at sea to Hutchins’ observational study of navigation on board the Palau, the paper argues that the ethical fabric of communication and action with its ‘first person’ perspective must not be overlooked in our haste to appeal to ‘culture’ as an alternative to the internalist, computer (...) metaphor of thinking. The paper accepts Hutchins’ own critique of the ‘meaning in the message’ illusion but goes beyond this critique to argue for a view of communication, thinking and action as creative, ethically charged and morally accountable acts of engagement. (shrink)
The paper reflects on the relationship between the understanding of human activity which Marx expresses in Capital and the theoretical model of activity offered by an influential contemporary variant of Activity Theory. The paper argues that this variant departs significantly from Marx’s conception of human activity and its role in what he calls the ‘labour process’. In particular, Activity Theory has failed to distinguish between the labour process and the valorization process, a distinction which is fundamental to Capital and to (...) Marx’s theoretical and political perspective more generally. The paper also argues that this conceptual conflation is also evident in the theoretical discourse of the founders of the Activity Theory tradition. The paper goes on to consider the theoretical and practical implications of this departure from the method and conclusions of Capital. (shrink)
Mysticism claims of its logical scheme that it is Euclidean, that from its first axiom or principle the remainder of its doctrine follows, but it makes this claim in so many languages and in such a variety of obscure and self-contradictory ways that it is difficult to discern how this could be possible, and it is rarely considered a plausible claim in metaphysics. I believe it is plausible, and in this essay I try to explain why.
Some time ago, in an article for the Journal of Consciousness Studies, David Chalmers challenged his peers to identify the ingredient missing from our current theories of consciousness, the absence of which prevents us from solving the 'hard' problem and forces us to make do with nonreductive theories. Here I respond to this challenge. I suggest that consciousness is a metaphysical problem and as such can be solved only within a global metaphysical theory. Such a theory would look very like (...) the information theory proposed by Chalmers, but with the addition of an extra phenomenon that would allow it to become fundamental. (shrink)