There are many general economic policies I favour such that I would feel significantly ashamed were I to succumb to bribery, or to institutional pressure short of physical threat, to publicly support their opposites. Here are a few of these policies: (1) Rich countries should not impose trade barriers, including subsidies for their own producers, against imports from poor countries. (2) Leaders of poor countries should be regarded as irresponsible when they imply to their people that their economic difficulties arise (...) principally from wickedness and exploitative behavior on the part of rich countries – the moral urgency of (1) notwithstanding. (3) Much freer movement of people across national borders for purposes of labour should be allowed everywhere. (4) Destitution is an unduly severe penalty for laziness, lack of talent or intelligence, or bad luck. More productive people should provide the lazy, the unskilled and the unlucky with as large a basic income grant as is compatible with maximizing net social productivity (which no present society comes very close to doing, partly due to confused social morality and partly due to incentive-distorting tax systems). (shrink)
The paper replies to Wade Hands’s recent criticism of one part of my 2005 book, Economic Theory and Cognitive Science: Microexplanation (ETCS). Hands argues that my association of my view of the foundations of microeconomics with aspects of the thought of Lionel Robbins and Paul Samuelson is gratuitous and historically misleading. I argue in turn that Hands’s general criticism rests on his ignoring the fact that my treatment of both Robbins and Samuelson is explicitly critical. On Robbins, I argue that (...) Hands’s concerns amount to an objection to me only given an absurd principle to the effect that the only non-misleading kind of associative relationship one can draw between two historical theses is identity. On Samuelson the dialectic is more complicated because, as a result of not understanding what philosophers call ‘externalism about intentional content’, Hands misreads the relationship I aim to construct between my general view and Samuelson’s. (shrink)
If one player’s gain is exactly equivalent to another’s loss, the game is said to be zero-sum. For example, football: every improvement of position for one team is an exactly corresponding deterioration for the other team. On the other hand, a buyer and a supplier haggling over a price is not a zero-sum game, since the parties hope to mutually gain.
It is generally thought that there are certain persons to whose welfare we should give special weight. It is commonly held, for example, that we should give special weight to our own welfare. On the strongest version of this view, we should always give overriding weight to our own welfare, and so, in considering any set of alternatives, we should always prefer the one in which we fare best. Many people would reject this strong view, for two reasons. First, many (...) people would hold that impersonal reasons (such as reasons of total utility) can sometimes outweigh, or at least counterbalance, reasons of self-interest. Further, many people think that reasons deriving from special personal relations can sometimes outweigh, or at least counterbalance, reasons of self-interest. We can, however, formulate a much weaker, and much more plausible, version of the self-interest view that avoids both these problems. Let’s first define a person’s kin as anyone in the person’s extended family (including himself). And let’s define a person’s kith very broadly as anyone with whom that person has ever interacted. We can now formulate the weak version of the self-interest view as follows. (shrink)
People differ in the extent to which they discount the values of future rewards. Behavioural economists measure these differences in terms of functions that describe rates of reduced valuation in the future – temporal discounting – as these vary with time. They measure differences in preference for risk – differing rates of probability discounting – in terms of similar functions that describe reduced valuation of rewards as the probability of their delivery falls. So-called ‘impulsive’ people, including people disposed to addiction, (...) tend to choose rewards in patterns that are described by unusually steeply sloped discount functions. The empirical literature is ambivalent as to whether this applies to pathological gamblers (PGs) who manifest most other behavioural patterns associated with addiction, with different, equally careful studies suggesting opposite conclusions (Petry & Casarella 1999; Holt, Green & Myerson 2003). This puzzle may arise from the fact that most previous experiments on discounting behaviour were not designed so as to allow effects of high temporal discounting to be distinguished from effects of low probability discounting. (Addiction has sometimes been associated with the latter because it seems to involve, at least in the starting addict, under appreciation of risk.) Our research project investigates both forms of discounting behaviour and their relationship to severity of risk of PG in a community sample of South African gamblers. (shrink)
Addiction may or may not be a highly prevalent condition, but the concept of addiction is undeniably ubiquitous. From the people who cheerfully and publicly announce their addiction to coffee, or chocolate, or shopping, to those who ruefully and perhaps only in very special settings admit their addiction to alcohol or drugs, ‘‘addiction” is an oft-invoked explanatory frame for the presentation and characterization of individual behavior. Lately, it has even been applied to the behavior of super-personal entities, as in America’s (...) ‘‘addiction” to oil. Although the ubiquity of the concept is surely a sign of its usefulness, it also gives one pause; can a term of such broad application really have precise meaning (compare the word ‘‘thing”)? And if not—if there is nothing that all the ‘‘addicted” entities above have in common—then why is the concept so apparently useful, and what is it useful for? Such questions may seem tailor made for Ivory Tower semantic analysis, but in fact the matter is much more urgent than that. For we live in a world where involuntary commitments and other coercive measures are sometimes considered justified in the course of dealing with addicted persons. Why is this so? What could be wrong with addicted persons that would justify such treatment? And why is the word extended to apply to persons for whom such treatment would presumably not be justified? These are some of the several questions asked by the authors of Midbrain Mutiny, and they have not just scientific, but also political and philosophical motivations for wanting to answer them. So what is an addict? One possible definition—one that would seem to accord with the widespread use of the term—is an agent with abnormal preferences, in the sense that the addict is willing to pay far more, and to pay for far higher quantities of a good than is the average consumer. Here we should think not just of the novelist maniacally devoted to the twin pleasures of writing and alcohol, but also of the late Steve Irwin ‘‘addicted” to contact with dangerous animals, or of the infinitely more prosaic CEO who devotes all of her time to work.. (shrink)
I discuss the role of economics in the study of social cognition. A currently popular view is that microeconomics should collapse into psychology partly because cognitive science has shown that valuation is constitutively social, whereas non-psychological economics insists that it is not. In the paper I resist this view, partly by reference to the relevant history of economic theory, and partly by reference to an alternative model of the way in which that theory complements, without reducing to, psychological accounts of (...) social cognition. (shrink)
Economics is the only established discipline that is regularly charged not just with including ideologically motivated research programs and hypotheses, but with actually being (at least in its institutionalized mainstream form) an ideology. As Coleman (2002) documents, this charge has followed economics since its modern inception as ‘political economy’ in the eighteenth century. There is a veritable tradition of what Coleman calls ‘anti-economics’, most famously populated by people such as Ruskin and Carlyle, and extending in the contemporary environment to include (...) philosophers John Gray and John Dupré, numerous popular agitators associated with environmentalism and the self-styled ‘anti-capitalist’ and ‘anti-globalization’ movements, and no small number of disillusioned economists. Of course all disciplinary establishments rightly attract critical literature; but as far as I know no one has ever published a book called ‘The Death of Geology’ featuring a hangman’s noose on the cover. Coleman’s compendium of evidence shows conclusively, in case anyone hasn’t been keeping their eyes and ears open, that economics is actively hated by a substantial number of people. There is no other discipline of which this is true, except insofar as some people hate all actual and would-be scientific disciplines from religious, green, or aesthetic motivations. (shrink)
This paper critically discusses Amartya Sen’s case for broadening the basket of wellbeing indicators in development policy beyond income and consumption expenditure. I first argue that, contrary to what Sen has suggested, the theoretical and practical motivations that he gives for this do not form a mutually complementary set. In the second, policy-focused, part of the paper I present problems Sen’s approach to measurement raises in the context of a case study from rural South Africa. I conclude by suggesting that (...) development indicators should be regarded as narrower – in particular, that we should give privileged attention to women’s incomes – rather than broader. Keywords: development policy; well-being proxies; welfare; Amartya Sen Word count: 11,315.. (shrink)
Three recent book-length studies in the philosophy of economics (Mirowski 2002, Davis 2003, Ross 2005) have drawn attention to the fact that mainstream economic theory has consistently avoided commitment to any particular model of the person. This is the most significant respect in which economics has kept aloof from part of psychology. The widespread belief, on the other hand, that economists’ attentiveness to the psychology of choice and decision had to wait for the Allais challenge and then for Kahneman and (...) Tversky is a myth. It is true that for a brief period after World War II economists led by Samuelson tried to operationalize choice as analytically derivative from observed consumer demand. This was a minor episode in the history of theory. Ross (2005) argues that, if anything, mainstream microeconomics has been more sensitive to theoretical fashions in the psychology of choice than has been good for it. (shrink)
Of crucial importance to all parts of the transport services and materials sector in South Africa is the way in which the Government chooses to implement its ambitious plans to reinvest in the country’s basic infrastructure. How will it navigate competing demands from urban and rural environments, given the divergent economics that describe them? How will it balance the goals of poverty fighting, skills empowerment, and keeping SA internationally competitive, as it considers infrastructure project options?
‘Naturalism’ about the ontology of society can most blandly be characterized as the belief that social phenomena are among the class of natural phenomena. Contemporary scholars are apt to regard this thesis as bland because its denial seems quaint at best, if not outright unhinged, after a century and a half of development in the social sciences. There has, however, been a powerful tradition in (at least) Western culture that has understood the ‘artificial’ as a primary contrast class with the (...) ‘natural’, and which has interpreted the social as a creation of human beings that stands over and against the natural realm. Often.. (shrink)
This paper argues that the most common reading of Robbins’s Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science in the methodology literature, according to which it was an historical foil for subsequent positivist-empiricist ideas, underestimates its contemporary relevance. In light of recent scholarship on 1930s positivism in philosophy, Robbins’s Essay is better interpreted as representing an attitude I call ‘broad positivism’, which remains a live option in contemporary philosophy of science. In consequence, the basis of Robbins’s preference for clear (...) demarcation between economics and psychology should be regarded as not merely historical in interest, but as raising valid considerations against the widespread current trend towards ‘correcting’ aspects of economic theory by reference to psychological experiments. (shrink)
The aim of this report is to consider feasible conditions under which South Africa!!" processed (e.g., canned and other packaged) fruit industry would be internationally competitive and a profitable site of investment, and therefore able to resume a pattern of growth from which it departed in the early part of the present decade. This is in service of the wider aim of identifying, in a subsequent phase of the project, appropriate industrial policy measures which Government might put in place to (...) assist the industry, in accordance with sound principles of national welfare optimization and public finance. (shrink)
Writing in the Business Day on 2 October 2007, economics journalist Hilary Joffe notes that “it was not long ago that there was a famine of infrastructure investment [in South Africa]; now there’s a feast, with each new week bringing reports of new projects and new, much higher estimates of the totals to be spent in years to come.” Joffe expresses enthusiasm about this, for reasons with which we agree: The infrastructure feast has already helped to raise SA’s investment ratio (...) to nearly 21% of gross domestic product, from a low of below 15% just five years ago. We are already seeing the beginnings of a shift from consumptiondriven to investment-driven growth that the economy needs if it is to grow on a sustainable basis. And of course much of that infrastructure is already urgently needed; and the need will grow as economic growth takes place. However, she is immediately led to ask two pressing questions. First, “even if these are all good and necessary projects, can SA’s economy afford them … all at the same time?” And second, “is anyone counting the total cost to the economy and puzzling out which projects should take priority, and whether some should wait (or be dropped altogether)?”. (shrink)
Critics of mainstream economics typically rest important weight on the differences between people and the 'agents' that populate economic theory and economic models. Hollis and Nell (1975) is both representative of and ancestral to many more recent variations on the theme. Lately, the upgraded status of behavioral economics (BE) within the discipline's mainstream has encouraged a number of writers to use revolutionary rhetoric in promotion of a 'paradigm shift' that includes the rejection of 'rational economic man' (Ormerod 1994, Heilbroner and (...) Milburg 1995, Fullbrook 2003). The current leading developers of BE are generally more circumspect, claiming that their approach complements standard theory rather than promising to supplant it (Camerer and Loewenstein 2004, Angner and Loewenstein this volume). However, they generally join the more florid critics in supposing that microeconomics is bound to improve its empirical relevance to the extent that it substitutes the study of people for that of abstract economic agents. Another body of thought that promotes this view stems from Sen's (1977) attack on standard economic agents as 'rational fools', amplified in Davis's (2003) argument that since economic agents lack some essential properties of human individuals, economic theory requires fundamental reform if it is to make progress in explaining human behavior. (shrink)
There may not be many points of consensus over what best promotes economic development, but here is one that has formed over the past decade: the institutional context matters a lot. This represents the single greatest shift in economic thinking about development since World War II, for there once was an almost equally clear consensus that institutions..
In your simulation you will devise measures to try to relieve the severity of the current global recession and speed the re-emergence of global growth. Each of you will be assigned the identity of an actual person with a specific institutional role. You will be required to undertake web-based research on that person, that person’s institution, and the utility function the person would be expected to behave in accordance with, given their role.
For the book that forms the basis for your debate, you’ve either been assigned to defend the thesis of the lead article or its antithesis. The thesis and antithesis are one another’s logical opposites – their contradictions. Consult the course webpage area to read the precise proposition you’re responsible for defending.
To be uninterested in an issue is to not care about it one way or the other. To be disinterested in an issue is to devote attention to deciding on it, but to do so in a way that tries to discount one’s personal stake in the outcome.
What theory should we accept from the practical point of view, or accept as a basis for guiding our actions, if we don’t know which theory is true, and if there are too many plausible alternative theories for us to take them all into consideration? This question is the theme of the first three parts of this dissertation. I argue that the problem of theory acceptance, so understood, is a problem of practical rationality, and hence that the appropriate grounds for (...) theory acceptance are practical considerations. I argue for a number of principles of theory acceptance, and I explore the implications of these principles for the acceptance both of descriptive theories and evaluative theories. (shrink)
Currently, it appears that the most widely accepted solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem is the one-third solution. Another widely held view is that an agent’s credences should be countably additive. In what follows, I will argue that these two views are incompatible, since the principles that underlie the one-third solution are inconsistent with the principle of Countable Additivity (hereafter, CA). I will then argue that this incompatibility is a serious problems for thirders, since it undermines one of the central (...) arguments for their position. (shrink)
Cognitivism about practical reason is the view that intentions involve beliefs, and that the rational requirements on intentions can be explained in terms of the rational requirements on the beliefs that figure in intentions. In particular, cognitivists about practical reason have sought to provide cognitive explanations of two basic requirements of practical rationality: a consistency requirement, according to which it is rationally impermissible to have intentions that are jointly inconsistent with one’s beliefs, and a means-end coherence requirement, according to which, (...) to a first approximation, it is rationally impermissible to intend an end while failing to intend what one regards as a necessary means to this end. In order for the cognitivist to explain these requirements, she must arrive at an account of the beliefs that figure in intentions, on the basis of which she can show that any agent who violates these requirements of pratical rationality must have beliefs that violate the requirements of theoretical rationality. Providing such an account, however, turns out to be no easy task. (shrink)
How are claims about what people ought to do related to claims about what ought to be the case? That is, how are claims about of personal obligation, of the form s ought to ?, related to claims about impersonal obligation, of the form it ought to be the case that p? Many philosophers have held that the former type of claim can be reduced to the latter. In particular, they have held a view known as the Meinong-Chisholm Thesis, which, (...) on its simplest formulation, can be stated thus: MCT: s ought to ? if and only if it ought to be the case that s ?s.[i] This thesis, I will argue, is false, and the reason for its falsity is a general problem facing any related attempt to reduce personal to impersonal obligation. (shrink)
Self-interest is widely regarded as an important, if not as the only, source of reasons for action, and hence it is widely held that one can rationally give special weight to one’s self-interest in deciding how to act. In what follows, I will argue against this view. I will do so by following the lead of Derek Parfit, and considering cases in which personal identity appears to break down. My argument will differ from Parfit’s, however, in that it will have (...) a stronger conclusion, it will involve fewer assumptions, and it will be compatible with a wider range of theories of personal identity. (shrink)
Is rationality normative, in the sense that we ought to be rational, in our actions and attitudes? Recently, the claim that rationality is normative has faced several challenges. In this paper, I will take up these challenges, and aim to vindicate the normativity of rationality in the face of them. I will begin, in part 1, by outlining these challenges, and then discussing, and criticizing, some that have been offered to them in the literature. Then, in part 2, I will (...) offer my own, unified response to these challenges. (shrink)
Parfit argues that a form of rule consequentialism can be derived from the most plausible formulation of the fundamental principle of Kantian ethics. And so he concludes that Kantians should be consequentialists. I argue that we have good reason to reject two of the auxiliary premises that figure in Parfit’s derivation of rule consequentialism from Kantianism..
analogy, the similarity along with difference, among meanings, among sorts of thinking, and among realities. Analogy theory originated with *Aristotle in its three main parts: analogy of meaning, analogous thinking, and analogy of being. There were some antecedents in *Plato, where the names of Forms and of participating things are the same but differ in meaning, and the notion of ‘being’ is said to differ with what we are talking about, for example Forms versus physical things (Sophist). Systematic use of (...) the three elements to unify philosophy and to resolve problems is, however, Aristotle's invention along with the idea that *metaphor is a species of analogy. Aristotle distinguished what were later called analogies of attribution, based on causation, signs, symptoms, and representations (medical skill, medical supplies; hat/head cover, hat/in picture), from analogy based on proportionality, A: B :: C : D; where the common implicit predicate is related in meaning (supplied food. (shrink)
To avoid the deadends, I redeploy the idea that integral human freedom (and understanding) has two modes. One is "natural" and the other "supernatural," though dividing the matter that way supposes the "natural" is the residue after the integrated whole is lost, because the supernatural contains the natural "eminently" the way olympic winning routines envelop the qualifying skills. In my account, humans were never "merely" objects in nature at all-- that is, objects, alongside stones and tigers and dinosaurs, that are (...) entirely consequences of matter and biotic life, or explicable the way trees and volcanos are. Humans never had a "completion"-- a fulfilment-- that can be defined by conditions of earthly life or attained by "flourishing," as other living things do.. (shrink)
The notion of rational certainty had developed a long way in four decades. Many now recognize that even to do science we characteristically claim rational certainty where we lack supporting proof of our own, have not engaged in some balancing of evidence, and have not even undertaken any articulate inquiry. Many further recognize that rational reliance is notably voluntaryand that our feelings, especially refined feelings, have indispensable roles in determining our willing reliances and in sustaining them. Scientists, and ordinary people, (...) judiciously sidestep the Lockean principle that one`s degree of commitment ought not exceed the evidence one has for it, realizing that Locke's idea supposed a social system of knowing that does not exist even science, much less in the rest of life and around the most important beliefs of life. (shrink)
There are reasons of principle limiting what lexical fields can explain. As will emerge, they are not just the limitations that have encouraged "frame" semantics, or an emphasis on the "belief elements of meaning" peculiar to the lexicon of a given language, but reasons concerned with the combinatorial adaptation of words in all languages. An example of combinatorial adaptation, which I call "semantic contagion," is the italicized pair: "look down \on art; look down \at the floor".
SUMMARY: If you think of analytic philosophy as disciplined argumentation, but with distinctive doctrinal commitments [to: positivism, logical atomism, ideal languages, verificationism, physicalistic reductionism, materialism, functionalism, connectivism, computational accounts of perception, and inductive accounts of language learning], then THAT analytic philosophy is fast going the way of acid rock and the plastic LP. Not because the method has betrayed the doctrines. Rather, the doctrines disintegrate under the method.
A qualitative and quantitative understanding of disease variables in relation to local understandings and values is an important dimension that broadens traditional evidence-based medicine (EBM) and is necessary in order to navigate the social perspectives of policymakers. There are dimensions of this research that share the values and practices of feminist research. This paper offers an epistemological analysis of theory and practice that can provide more effective outcomes in women’s health. PATH (Policy Advisory Towards Health) for women, bridges the knowledge (...) gap between research and direct service by providing translational support for community organizations’ legislative policy agendas. (shrink)
John Dewey wrote that the problems of philosophy were not problems of reality but rather problems of men. He suggested that philosophical dichotomies are problems to overcome. In this paper, I make an effort to help us move past the race/gene dichotomy, where on one hand we claim biological and inherent human characteristics of race and on the other hand we identify racial differences as having no inherent basis in biology or genetics. The swing between false beliefs of inherent racial (...) difference and misguided but well-intentioned beliefs of a complex social construction of difference are mirror images. Both horns of this dilemma—the dogmatic objectivity of traditional science and the relativistic subjectivity of social science—create the very kind of dilemma Dewey suggests we move past. Philosophical inquiries about race led to scientific, technological, and medical certifications. We continue to distinguish by race in medical research and practice, yet we have struggled to analyse how the legacy of race concepts informs current practice. In spite of good intentions, the legacy has produced disproportionate and damaging health consequences. I suggest that we articulate the epistemological challenges and accommodate broader and more accurate methodologies. (shrink)
The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are still best selling introductions to the ideas of personal freedom and of the free market. As literature they may have drawbacks, but they are compelling "reads," which is certainly what Rand would have wanted. Rand's passionate and moralistic tone, while off-putting to many, is nevertheless probably a real part of her appeal and is no less than an equal and opposite reaction to the self-righteousness that is still characteristic of leftist rhetoric. Few writers convey (...) an irresistible ferocity of convictions as Rand does. To many, including the present writer, raised and indoctrinated with the standard disparagements of capitalism, a novel like Atlas Shrugged can produce something very much like a Conversion Experience. At the same time, the harsh certainty of an autodidact and self-made person, and the high handed authoritarian manner of Rand's personality, worked against her case, her cause, and her life. (shrink)
Certainly one of the greatest philosophers of the 19th century, Schopenhauer seems to have had more impact on literature (e.g. Thomas Mann) and on people in general than on academic philosophy. Perhaps that is because, first, he wrote very well, simply and intelligibly (unusual, we might say, for a German philosopher, and unusual now for any philosopher), second, he was the first Western philosopher to have access to translations of philosophical material from India, both Vedic and Buddhist, by which he (...) was profoundly affected, to the great interest of many, and, third, his concerns were with the dilemmas and tragedies, in a religious or existential sense, of real life, not just with abstract philosophical problems. As.. (shrink)
The title of The Rediscovery of the Mind suggests the question "When was the mind lost?" Since most people may not be aware that it ever was lost, we must also then ask "Who lost it?" It was lost, of course, only by philosophers, by certain philosophers. This passed unnoticed by society at large. The "rediscovery" is also likely to pass unnoticed. But has the mind been rediscovered by the same philosophers who "lost" it? Probably not. John Searle is an (...) analytic philosopher, with some of the same notions as the positivists and behaviorists who rejected consciousness and "lost" the mind in the first place, but he also does not sound like the kind of reductionist who would have joined that crowd. His views, indeed, are sensible enough, and some of his insights so important, that it is a shame to find his thought profoundly limited by some of the same mistakes and prejudices that ruined philosophy, and not just philosophy of mind, under the influence of those positivists and behaviorists. There is enough of genuine value in his treatment, that it can easily be taken up and, with relatively slight modification, added to what is of permanent value in the history of philosophy. (shrink)
Amid all the talk about the "Collective Unconscious" and other sexy issues, most readers are likely to miss the fact that C.G. Jung was a good Kantian. His famous theory of Synchronicity, "an acausal connecting principle," is based on Kant's distinction between phenomena and things-in-themselves and on Kant's theory that causality will not operate among thing-in-themselves the way it does in phenomena. Thus, Kant could allow for free will (unconditioned causes) among things-in-themselves, as Jung allows for synchronicity (...) ("meaningful coincidences"). Next to Kant, Jung is close to.. (shrink)
The references to "Chicago" (meaning, of course, the University of Chicago) Schools of economics and history of religion, and the quotation of Allan Bloom, who may be considered to belong to a Chicago school of philosophy, may suggest a general endorsement of "Chicago" ideas. This is not the case.
"...Let us face facts: the people have triumphed -- or the slaves, the mob, the herd, whatever you wish to call them -- and if the Jews brought it about, then no nation ever had a more universal mission on earth. The lords are a thing of the past, and the ethics of the common man is completely triumphant. I don't deny that this triumph might be looked upon as a kind of blood poisoning, since it has resulted in a (...) mingling of the races, but there can be no doubt that the intoxication has succeeded. The 'redemption' of the human race (from the lords, that is) is well under way; everything is rapidly becoming Judaized, or Christianized, or mob-ized -- the word makes no difference....". (shrink)
In the traditional logic of the syllogism, Aristotelian logic, there are four kinds of syllogisms, Darapti, Felapton, Bramantip, and Fesapo, that are often said to be invalid in modern logic. Elementary logic students may even simply be told that they really are invalid. This is, of course, a distortion; but it is instructive to consider why this has happened and why it is that the syllogisms are considered invalid.
Kant's most original contribution to philosophy is his "Copernican Revolution," that, as he puts it, it is the representation that makes the object possible rather than the object that makes the representation possible. This introduced the human mind as an active originator of experience rather than just a passive recipient of perception. Something like this now seems obvious: the mind could be a tabula rasa , a "blank tablet," no more than a bathtub full of silicon chips could be (...) a digital computer. Perceptual input must be processed, i.e. recognized, or it would just be noise -- "less even than a dream" or "nothing to us," as Kant alternatively puts it. (shrink)
Leonard Nelson, described by Karl Popper as an "outstanding personality," produced a great quantity of work (collected in the nine volumes of the Gesammelte Schriften ) in a tragically short life. The quantity and the tragedy may have both happened because Nelson was an insomniac who worked day and night and exhausted himself into a fatal case of pneumonia.
Among these prophets, Heidegger was perhaps the most unlikely candidate to influence. But his influence was far-reaching, far wider than his philosophical seminar at the University of Marburg, far wider than might seem possible in light of his inordinately obscure book, Sein und Zeit of 1927, far wider than Heidegger himself, with his carefully cultivated solitude and unconcealed contempt for other philosophers, appeared to wish. Yet, as one of Heidegger's most perceptive critics, Paul Hühnerfeld, has said: "These books, whose meaning (...) was barely decipherable when they appeared, were devoured. And the young German soldiers in the Second World War who died somewhere in Russia or Africa with the writings of Hödlerlin and Heidegger in their knapsacks can never be counted."... What Heidegger did was to give philosophical seriousness, professorial respectability, to the love affair with unreason and death that dominated so many Germans in this hard time... And Heidegger's life -- his isolation, his peasant-like appearance, his deliberate provincialism, his hatred of the city -- seemed to confirm his philosophy, which was a disdainful rejection of modern urban rationalist civilization, an eruptive nihilism. (shrink)
A few miles farther on, we came to a big, gravelly roadcut that looked like an ashfall, a mudflow, glacial till, and fresh oatmeal, imperfectly blended. "I don't know what this glop is," [Kenneth Deffeyes] said, in final capitulation. "You need a new geologist. You need a Californian.".