We want to build tiny gnat-sized robots, a millimeter or two in diameter. They will be cheap, disposable, totally sefcontained autonomous agents able to do useful things in the world. This paper consists of two parts. The first describes why we want to build them. The second is a technical outline of how to go about it. Gnat robots are going to change the world.
Abstract This paper puts Searle?s social ontology together with an understanding of the human person as inclined openly toward the truth. Institutions and their deontology are constituted by collective Declarative beliefs, guaranteeing mind-world adequation. As this paper argues, often they are constituted also by collective Assertive beliefs that justify (rather than validate intrainstitutionally) institutional facts. A special type of Status Function-creating ?Assertive Declarative? belief is introduced, described, and used to shore up Searle?s account against two objections: that, as based on (...) collective acceptance, Searlean social ontology cannot make sense of dissenters, and that it, as its deontology is all game-like, implies a legal positivism and thus cannot make proper sense of the moral import of sociopolitical institutions. This change is necessary to deepen social ontology?s understanding of human societies and to accurately describe many social, religious, and political institutions as constituted from the perspectives of participants and dissidents. (shrink)
What types of unity and disunity belong to a group of people sharing a culture? Husserl illuminates these communities by helping us trace their origin to two types of interpersonal act—cooperation and influence—though cultural communities are distinguished from both cooperative groups and mere communities of related influences. This analysis has consequences for contemporary concerns about multi- or mono-culturalism and the relationship between culture and politics. It also leads us to critique Husserl’s desire for a new humanity, one that is rational, (...) cooperatively united, and animated by a universal philosophical culture. Reflecting on culture, a spiritually shaped and shared domain of the world, draws us to reflect also on ourselves as social and rational animals, and to ask, what should we reasonably hope for—and aim for—in a human culture that expresses and supports our shared lives of reason? Aristotle is used for occasional comparisons and contrasts. (shrink)
Life expectancy and health differ greatly between emerging and developed countries and within countries. Global dependence on fossil fuels contributes to health inequalities through air pollution, the geopolitics of scarce resources and probable climate change arising from global warming. Substituting for fossil fuels (C), hydrogen (H2), as vector and store of energy produced from low-carbon and/or renewable sources could reduce health inequalities by improving the environment. It is unlikely that the global market would initiate such a change. Nation-states would not (...) act alone and would need to cooperate in leading it. Global recession might be the incentive that is needed to restructure a C-economy into an H2-economy. Yet, the transition would carry high costs, which would have to be borne by the developed countries in order to achieve a new treaty that included emerging countries. H2 for C is thus not only a technical fix, but also a global-ethical choice. (shrink)
This article briefly reviews concerns related to the “cultural colonialism” of applying Western biomedical models of research ethics to non-Western groups. The feasibility of alternate ethical models is discussed and found wanting. In practical terms, many academic researchers in the United States are funded by federal agencies and are required to adhere to Title 45, Part 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations , legislation that is clearly grounded in the Western biomedical research tradition. Consequently, the question is not whether (...) this system of ethics should be applied but rather how it can be applied most sensitively, appropriately, and wisely. The remainder of this article discusses of how the authors have attempted to do so in each stage of their own research with Hispanic immigrants to the United States. (shrink)
The crucial distinction for ethics is between the good and the apparent good, between being and seeming. Tradition is useful for developing our ability to make this distinction and to live ethically or in self-responsibility, but it is also threatening to this ability. The phenomenology of Husserl and of others in the Husserlian tradition, especially Robert Sokolowski, are helpful in spelling out how tradition works; how the difference between the apparent good and the good is bridged in the experience of (...) moral truth but also a permanent, challenging feature of human life; what ethics requires regarding self-responsibility or authenticity; and what the proper voice of tradition is in the ethical or moral life. (shrink)
“Dialectical” stands in parentheses because I wish to discuss both authors in terms of a critique of reason as such in addition to specifying the issue in terms of their respective assessments of the dialectic. But I shall first consider how each employs the term “critique.” So my remarks will focus on Critique, Reason and Dialectic in that order. Of course, each topic understandably bleeds into the others. In view of the occasion, I shall conclude with a brief sketch of (...) four milestones along Sartre's way from Being and Nothingness to the Critique. (shrink)
We consider three accepted truths about iris biometrics, involving pupil dilation, contact lenses and template aging. We also consider a relatively ignored issue that may arise in system interoperability. Experimental results from our laboratory demonstrate that the three accepted truths are not entirely true, and also that interoperability can involve subtle performance degradation. All four of these problems affect primarily the stability of the match, or authentic, distribution of template comparison scores rather than the non-match, or imposter, distribution of scores. (...) In this sense, these results confirm the security of iris biometrics in an identity verification scenario. We consider how these problems affect the usability and security of iris biometrics in large-scale applications, and suggest possible remedies. (shrink)
Husserl’s philosophy of culture relies upon a person’s body being expressive of the person’s spirit, but Husserl’s analysis of expression in Logical Investigations is inadequate to explain this bodily expressiveness. This paper explains how Husserl’s use of “expression” shifts from LI to Ideas II and argues that this shift is explained by Husserl’s increased understanding of the pervasiveness of sense in subjective life and his increased appreciation for the unity of the person. I show how these two developments allow Husserl (...) to better describe the bodily expressiveness that is the source of culture. Husserl’s account of culture is thoroughly intentionalistic, but it does not emphasize thought at the expense of embodiment. Culture originates not in an abstract subjectivity, but by persons’ expressing themselves physically in the world. By seeing how Husserl develops his mature position on bodily expressiveness, we can better appreciate the meaningfulness and the bodily concreteness of cultural objects. (shrink)
Philosophy as a way of life -- Becoming an individual -- Humanism : for and against -- Authenticity -- A chastened individualism? Existentialism and social thought -- Existentialism in the twenty-first century.
This paper elaborates a conception of the relationship between Philosophy and the Political which would not be one of exteriority but one of an intertwining between them. An analogy with Rémi Brague, who presents the conditions whereby the concept of 'the world' became a thematic object of reflection (The Wisdom of the World), is proposed to show the emergence of the concept of 'the political.' Following Lefort's philosophy, we trace the emergence of modern democracy with that of the political by (...) claiming that there is an ontological dimension of the political. As the concept of the world could not emerge within a conception of the universe that united man and world in an organic whole, so too the concept of the political cannot emerge when the discourse on power is determined theologically (premodern societies). It is argued that there is an ontological dimension to the revolutions that introduced our political modernity. Modern revolutions are not simply a change in a form of governance; they effect a mutation in the symbolic order of a society by which the political, as such, can become visible. The indetermination of modern democracy corresponds to "the disappearance of the markers of certainty" that characterize the modern experience of the world, an experience that reveals a transformed ontological dimension. This dimension of uncertainty, the experience of the place of power as an "empty place," is contrasted with the totalitarian impulse to fill this empty place with a determinate image, e.g., the Party, the Fürher. (shrink)
This article seeks to contribute to a vision for leadership in business based on a recovery of virtue. The vision for leadership articulated here draws principally on the writings of the classical philosopher Aristotle and of the contemporary philosopher Josef Pieper. Without discounting the ever-increasing complexity of modern business, this essay will attempt to reconstruct Aristotle’s emphasis on virtue and moral character, and argues for the philosopher’s relevance to modern management and corporate leadership. The paper concludes that the message of (...) virtue is a message of hope and attempts to find plain language to articulate its value to those engaged in business or concerned with the formulation of government policy. (shrink)
The relationship between intimacy and honesty seems a paradoxical one. While intimate relationships would seem to demand a high level of honesty, this same intimacy might make us more likely to shield the other or protect ourselves through benevolent lying or the withholding of information. It would seem that honesty may not always be the best policy in intimate relationships. The purpose of this article is to examine the tension between honesty and intimacy in Kant’s duty of friendship, and it (...) will highlight the limitations of Kant’s expectations of friendship. At the same time I will use Kant’s own appeal to the autonomy of moral agents to delineate an appropriate role for the obligations of honesty and self disclosure in friendship. (shrink)
This article follows the development of Merleau-Ponty’s political philosophy from his 1947 text, Humanism and Terror, through a number of essays in the Adventures of the Dialectic, to the Preface to Signs published in 1959. It shows the process by which Merleau-Ponty escaped the “grip of marxism” as a philosophy of history. It notes the link between his philosophy of history and the concrete historical events of his times, particularly the Russian Revolution and its degeneration into Stalinism. It suggests a (...) certain analogy between Merleau-Ponty’s reflection on the October Revolution and Kant’s reflection on the French Revolution. The notion of the universal class of the proletariat is the guiding thread in the analyses of both Merleau-Ponty’s proximity to marxism and the process by which he frees himself from its grip. We observe the role that this concept plays in Humanism and Terror and in the essays on Weber and Lukacs in the Adventure of the Dialectic where we eventually see its dissolution. It is argued that Merleau-Ponty arrives at a new conception of historical meaning which is neither totalizing or empiricist. The paper concludes by presenting an outline of the direction that his philosophy of history took after he extricated himself from marxism. This new philosophy took the form of a critical reflection on the role of the “notion of the hero” in 20th century political philosophy in general, particularly in Heidegger and Sartre. (shrink)
The fact that a right is unlikely to be exercised by most members of a group does not mean it has lost its social and justice-defending utility. Current attitudes can be revealed by a questionnaire, but the value of a tradition must be assessed in the light of history. Historically, academic freedom and tenure are inseparable and mutually reinforcing. (Published Online February 8 2007).
Brain physiology and IQ gains over time both show that various cognitive skills, such as on-the-spot problem solving and arithmetic reasoning, are functionally independent, despite being bundled up in the correlational matrix called g. We need a theory of intelligence that treats the physiology and sociology of intelligence as having integrity equal to the psychology of individual differences. (Published Online April 5 2006).
One of the leading philosophical movements of the twentieth century, existentialism has had more impact on literature and the arts than any other school of thought. Focusing on the leading figures of existentialism, including Sartre, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, and Camus, Thomas Flynn offers a concise account of existentialism, explaining the key themes of individuality, free will, and personal responsibility, which marked the movement as a way of life, not just a way of thinking. Flynn sets the philosophy (...) of existentialism in context, from the early phenomenologists, to its rise in the 40's and 50's, and the connections with National Socialism, Communism, and Feminism. He identifies the original definition of "existentialism," which tends to be obscured by misappropriation, and highlights how the philosophy is still relevant in our world today. (shrink)
Despite Sartre's almost proverbial rejection of Freudian psychoanalysis, Jean-Pierre Boulé places the philosopher himself on the couch in a wonderfully detailed and suggestive work. He notes that the fruit of his study may well be "to help us gain a better understanding of Sartre as an embodied sexual being and possibly demonstrate a new way of connecting biography with oeuvre." After analyzing Boulé's argument and considering the psychoanalytic method itself, I address this last claim about relating Sartre's biography and oeuvre, (...) especially in view of the integral role assigned biography in any existentialist theory of history. (shrink)
After reviewing how Jean Wahl interprets the early Marcel, specifically his Metaphysical Journal, in a seminal work whose title captured the philosophical spiritof the 1930s, Vers le concret (“Toward the Concrete”), I discuss the existentialist style of philosophizing, offer five criteria for judging a philosopher to be an existentialist and submit Marcel’s work to each. I turn to the appropriateness of calling him a neo-Socratic philosopher, an appellation he seemed to prefer, and conclude with some observations of how this mixture (...) of the Socratic and the existentialist places Marcel in the lineage of those like Michel Foucault and Pierre Hadot who speak of philosophy less as a doctrine and more as a way of life. (shrink)
We are celebrating the centennial year of the birth of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980). His death and the huge funeral cortege that spontaneously gathered on that occasion marked the passing of the last of the philosophical "personalities" of our era. Contrast, for example, his departure, which I did not witness, with that of Michel Foucault, which I did. The latter was acknowledged in a modest ceremony at the door of the Salpêtrière Hospital; his private funeral in the province was even more (...) stark. The two passings exhibit the distinction graphically. Foucault, the most likely candidate to become Sartre's successor as reigning intellectual on the Left Bank, exited the institution that had figured in several of his books attended by a small crowd of a couple hundred, admittedly assembled without public notification, on a damp morning to hear Gilles Deleuze read a brief passage from the preface to The Uses of Pleasure. Describing philosophy as "the critical work that thought brings to bear on itself," the message had an ironically haunting Sartrean ring. (shrink)
In this essay I contrast Kant and Hegel on the so-called right of necessity, or distress. The contrast is significant because it summarizes succinctly the difference between their respective philosophies of right. Furthermore, I take the difference to indicate what in Hegel’s philosophy of right makes it preferable to Kant’s. In sum, the issue between the two is whether or not the concept of justice is determined in part by what I term in the paper the vicissitudes of making a (...) worthwhile living. (shrink)
Most contemporary discussions of institutional ethics take contractual rather than fiduciary relations as the model for describing moralresponsibilities, leaving institutional boards with few resources to support and critique their moral behavior. I argue that institutional fiduciary relationships cannot be characterized as contracts, either in fact or function. Each form of relationship privileges a different set of behaviors and values that are far from interchangeable.
Universal Grammar (UG) can be interpreted as a constraint on the form of possible grammars (hypothesis space) or as a constraint on acquisition strategies (selection procedures). In this response to Herschensohn we reiterate the position outlined in Epstein et al. (1996a, r), that in the evaluation of L2 acquisition as a UG- constrained process the former (possible grammars/ knowledge states) is critical, not the latter. Selection procedures, on the other hand, are important in that they may have a bearing on (...) development in language acquisition. We raise the possibility that differences in first and second language acquisition pertaining to both attainment of the end-state and course of development may derive from differences in selection procedures. We further suggest that for these reasons age effects in the attainment of nativelike proficiency must necessarily be separated from UG effects. (shrink)
Sartre and Foucault were two of the most prominent and at times mutually antagonistic philosophical figures of the twentieth century. And nowhere are the antithetical natures of their existentialist and poststructuralist philosophies more apparent than in their disparate approaches to historical understanding. A history, thought Foucault, should be a kind of map, a comparative charting of structural transformations and displacements. But for Sartre, authentic historical understanding demanded a much more personal and committed narrative, a kind of interpretive diary of moral (...) choices and risks compelled by critical necessity and an exacting reality. Sartre's history, a rational history of individual lives and their intrinsic social worlds, was in essence immersed in biography. In Volume One of this authoritative two-volume work, Thomas R. Flynn conducts a pivotal and comprehensive reconstruction of Sartrean historical theory, and provocatively anticipates the Foucauldian counterpoint to come in Volume Two. (shrink)