In this paper I present two new arguments against the possibility of an omniscient being. My new arguments invoke considerations of cardinality and resemble several arguments originally presented by Patrick Grim. Like Grim, I give reasons to believe that there must be more objects in the universe than there are beliefs. However, my arguments will rely on certain mereological claims, namely that Classical Extensional Mereology is necessarily true of the part-whole relation. My first argument is an instance of a problem (...) first noted by Gideon Rosen and requires an additional assumption about the mereological structure of certain beliefs. That assumption is that an omniscient being’s beliefs are mereological simples. However, this assumption is dropped when I present my second argument. Thus, I hope to show that if Classical Extensional Mereology is true of the part-whole relation, there cannot be an omniscient being. (shrink)
Ontological pluralism is the view that there are ways of being. Ontological pluralism is enjoying a revival in contemporary metaphysics. We want to say that there are numbers, fictional characters, impossible things, and holes. But, we don’t think these things all exist in the same sense as cars and human beings. If they exist or have being at all, then they have different ways of being. Fictional characters exist as objects of make-believe and holes exist as absences in objects. But, (...) human beings and cars exist in a much more robust sense. What are ways of being? Why should be believe in them and what should we believe about them? This short essay provides an overview of the recent revival of ways of being and explores some of the surrounding issues. (shrink)
A material simple is a material object that has no proper parts. Some philosophers have argued for the possibility of extended simples. Some have even argued for the possibility of heterogeneous simples or simples that have intrinsic variations across their surfaces. There is a puzzle, though, that is meant to show that extended, heterogeneous simples are impossible. Although several plausible responses have been given to this puzzle, I wish to reopen the case against extended, heterogeneous simples. In this paper, I (...) briefly canvass responses to this puzzle which may be made in defense of extended, heterogeneous simples. I then present a new version of this puzzle which targets simples that occupy atomic yet extended regions of space. It seems that none of the traditional responses can be used to successfully save this particular kind of extended simple from the new puzzle. I also consider some non-traditional defenses of heterogeneous extended simples and argue that they too are unsuccessful. Finally, I will argue that a substantial case can be made against the possibility of extended heterogeneous simples of any kind. (shrink)
We discuss the view that a hole is identical to the region of spacetime at which it is located. This view is more parsimonious than the view that holes are sui generus entities located at those regions surrounded by their hosts and it is more plausible than the view that there are no holes. We defend the spacetime view from several objections.
The general composition question asks “what are the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions any xs and any y must satisfy in order for it to be true that those xs compose that y?” Although this question has received little attention, there is an interesting and theoretically fruitful answer. Namely, strong composition as identity (SCAI): necessarily, for any xs and any y, those xs compose y iff those xs are identical to y. SCAI is theoretically fruitful because if it is true, (...) then there is an answer to one of the most difficult and intractable questions of mereology (The Simple Question). In this paper, I introduce the identity account of simplicity and argue that if SCAI is true then this identity account of simplicity is as well. I consider an objection to the identity account of simplicity. Ultimately, I find this objection unsuccessful. (shrink)
Roy Sorensen has discussed a scenario he calls 'the Disappearing Act', introduced a puzzle based on this scenario, and offered a solution to this puzzle. We argue against Sorensen's solution and offer our own.
The Principle of Alternative Possibilities is the intuitive idea that someone is morally responsible for an action only if she could have done otherwise. Harry Frankfurt has famously presented putative counterexamples to this intuitive principle. In this paper, I formulate a simple version of the Principle of Alternative Possibilities that invokes a course-grained notion of actions. After warming up with a Frankfurt-Style Counterexample to this principle, I introduce a new kind of counterexample based on the possibility of time travel. At (...) the end of the paper, I formulate a more sophisticated version of the Principle of Alternative Possibilities that invokes a certain fine grained notion of actions. I then explain how this new kind of counterexample can be augmented to show that even the more sophisticated principle is false. (shrink)
Upshot: Albeit mostly supportive of our work, the commentaries we received highlighted a few points that deserve additional explanation, with regard to the notion of learning in our model, the relationship between our model and the brain, as well as the notion of anticipation. This open discussion emphasizes the need for toy computer models, to fuel theoretical discussion and prevent business-as-usual from getting in the way of new ideas.
Context: Constructivist approaches to cognition have mostly been descriptive, and now face the challenge of specifying the mechanisms that may support the acquisition of knowledge. Departing from cognitivism, however, requires the development of a new functional framework that will support causal, powerful and goal-directed behavior in the context of the interaction between the organism and the environment. Problem: The properties affecting the computational power of this interaction are, however, unclear, and may include partial information from the environment, exploration, distributed processing (...) and aggregation of information, emergence of knowledge and directedness towards relevant information. Method: We posit that one path towards such a framework may be grounded in these properties, supported by dynamical systems. To assess this hypothesis, we describe computational models inspired from swarm intelligence, which we use as a metaphor to explore the practical implications of the properties highlighted. Results: Our results demonstrate that these properties may serve as the basis for complex operations, yielding the elaboration of knowledge and goal-directed behavior. Implications: This work highlights aspects of interaction that we believe ought to be taken into account when characterizing the possible mechanisms underlying cognition. The scope of the models we describe cannot go beyond that of a metaphor, however, and future work, theoretical and experimental, is required for further insight into the functional role of interaction with the environment for the elaboration of complex behavior. Constructivist content: Inspiration for this work stems from the constructivist impetus to account for knowledge acquisition based on interaction. (shrink)
Perhaps the commonest reasons for the keeping of pets are companionship and as a conduit for affection. Pets are, therefore, being “used” for human ends in much the same way as laboratory or farm animals. So shouldn’t the same arguments apply to the use of pets as to those used in other ways? In accepting the “rights” of farm animals to fully express their natural behavior, one must also accept the “right” of pets to express their intrinsic natural behavior. Dogs (...) kept in houses for most of the day are being kept in an unnatural environment. So are rabbits kept in hutches, and guinea-pigs or birds in cages. These conditions infringe the animals’ telos. Dogs are naturally pack animals, so is a dog in isolation being denied its telos? Other actions more deliberately infringe telos and autonomy. Enforced shampooing – or even exercise; hair-cutting of poodles; putting animals in clothes; and tail-docking. If de-beaking of chickens is considered wrong, then the same must be true for tail-docking of dogs. One should also question the ethics of specialist breeding – especially when that results in physiological disadvantages (boxers with breathing troubles). There would appear to be no advantage to the animals in having such health problems and when these are the direct result of the breeders’ desire for specific cosmetic traits, we should question the ethics of the practice at least as much as when animals are bred for specific agricultural traits. (shrink)
Probably no intellectual has suffered more distortion and abuse than Spencer. He is continually condemned for things he never said – indeed, he is taken to task for things he explicitly denied. The target of academic criticism is usually the mythical Spencer rather than the real Spencer; and although some critics may derive immense satisfaction from their devastating refutations of a Spencer who never existed, these treatments hinder rather than advance the cause of knowledge.
Being on a 40 city 24x7 book tour for War Against the Weak . I am writing this from an airplane, and I regret my brevity. Catching up on some email from a few weeks back I have now come across your remarks and those of your like minded friends defending Spencer.
Starting from R. K. Merton's now classic criticism of 'holistic' functionalism, i.e. of a functionalism which postulates social unity, universality and functional in-dispensability, the author stresses certain implications of this criticism more than they have been stressed hitherto. Classical and holistic functionalism) from H. Spencer, B. Malinowski, A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, etc to T. Parsons, postulates certain total unities (a global culture, an integrated system, etc.) in which each item (existence, actions, structures, etc.) is considered and defined on the grounds (...) of its consequences for the maintenance of the system as a whole; therefore holistic functionalism as a method is, in effect, the study of the consequences of the system on the items that compose it, since each of these items is defined within the sphere of the system and of its integrative functions. Merton's 'neo-functionalism', on the other hand, is remarkable not only in that it takes into account the 'dysfunctional' and 'nonfunctional' consequences of certain items on the system, but more especially because, within the context of functional analysis, it stresses the possible existence of structural substitutes and alternatives of functions, and therefore of latent structures which are foreign to objective functional consequences, as well as being able to deal with unanticipated and unexpected items and their consequences on the system. 'Neo-functionalism', which is susceptible of further development, is not limited to the study of the consequences of the system on its items: it can also reverse this scheme and study the consequences of certain items on the system. Merton's criticism of holistic functionalism therefore implies a broadening of the scientific resources of this method and a renewal of its interpretative scheme, thanks to which functional analysis ceases to appear as 'the* method of explaining sociology as a science, and becomes an interpretative method which complements the analysis of social structures and relations. Seen in this light the concept of structure becomes emancipated and independent of the concept of system and function; whereas, within the framework of universal functionalism, it was ancillary to the concept of function. Finally, latent structures and unconscious structures, conditions of possibility and subjective dispositions are favourable to social structures and social relations, not excluding those that are neither visible nor observable. This analysis, the author notes, is extremely meaningful and has great possibilities of development, especially in view of the structuralism recently to be noted in the human and social sciences: anthropology, history, linguistics, etc. (shrink)
From Bishop Wilberforce in the 1860s to the advocates of "creation science" today, defenders of traditional mores have condemned Darwin's theory of evolution as a threat to society's values. Darwin's defenders, like Stephen Jay Gould, have usually replied that there is no conflict between science and religion--that values and biological facts occupy separate realms. But as James Rachels points out in this thought-provoking study, Darwin himself would disagree with Gould. Darwin, who had once planned on being a clergyman, was convinced (...) that natural selection overthrew our age-old religious beliefs. Created from Animals offers a provocative look at how Darwinian evolution undermines many tenets of traditional philosophy and religion. James Rachels begins by examining Darwin's own life and work, presenting an astonishingly vivid and compressed biography. We see Darwin's studies of the psychological links in evolution (such as emotions in dogs, and the "mental powers" of worms), and how he addressed the moral implications of his work, especially in his concern for the welfare of animals. Rachels goes on to present a lively and accessible survey of the controversies that followed in Darwin's wake, ranging from Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinism to Edward O. Wilson's sociobiology, and discusses how the work of such influential intellects as Descartes, Hume, Kant, T.H. Huxley, Henri Bergson, B.F. Skinner, and Stephen Jay Gould has contributed to--or been overthrown by--evolutionary science. Western philosophy and religion, Rachels argues, have been shaken by the implications of Darwin's work, most notably the controversial idea that humans are simply a more complex kind of animal. Rachels assesses a number of studies that suggest how closely humans are linked to other primates in behavior, and then goes on to show how this idea undercuts the work of many prominent philosophers. Kant's famous argument that suicide reduces one to the level of an animal, for instance, is meaningless if humans are, in fact, animals. Indeed, humanity's membership in the animal kingdom calls into question the classic notions of human dignity and the sacredness of human life. What we need now, Rachels contends, is a philosophy that does not discriminate between different species, one that addresses each being on an individual basis. With this sweeping survey of the arguments, the philosophers, and the deep implications surrounding Darwinism, Rachels lays the foundations for a new view of morality. Vibrantly written and provocatively argued, Created from Animals offers a new perspective on issues ranging from suicide to euthanasia to animal rights. (shrink)
In this pathbreaking study, Micaela di Leonardo reveals the face of power within the mask of cultural difference. From the 1893 World's Fair to Body Shop advertisements, di Leonardo focuses on the intimate and shifting relations between popular portrayals of exotic Others and the practice of anthropology. In so doing, she casts new light on gender, race, and the public sphere in America's past and present. "An impressive work of scholarship that is mordantly witty, passionately argued, and takes no prisoners."--Lesley (...) Gill, News Politics "[Micaela] di Leonardo eloquently argues for the importance of empirical, interdisciplinary social science in addressing the tragedy that is urban America at the end of the century."--Jonathan Spencer, Times Literary Supplement "In her quirky new contribution to the American culture brawl, feminist anthropologist Micaela di Leonardo explains how anthropologists, 'technicians of the sacred,' have distorted American popular debate and social life."--Rachel Mattson, Voice Literary Supplement "At the end of di Leonardo's analyses one is struck by her rare combination of rigor and passion. Simply, [she] is a marvelous iconoclast."--Matthew T. McGuire, Boston Book Review. (shrink)
Evolutionary ethics has a long history, dating all the way back to Charles Darwin.1 Almost immediately after the publication of the Origin, an immense interest arose in the moral implications of Darwinism and whether the truth of Darwinism would undermine traditional ethics. Though the biological thesis was certainly exciting, nobody suspected that the impact of the Origin would be confined to the scientific arena. As one historian wrote, 'whether or not ancient populations of armadillos were transformed into the species that (...) currently inhabit the new world was certainly a topic about which zoologists could disagree. But it was in discussing the broader implications of the theory...that tempers flared and statements were made which could transform what otherwise would have been a quiet scholarly meeting into a social scandal' (Farber 1994, 22). Some resistance to the biological thesis of Darwinism sprung from the thought that it was incompatible with traditional morality and, since one of them had to go, many thought that Darwinism should be rejected. However, some people did realize that a secular ethics was possible so, even if Darwinism did undermine traditional religious beliefs, it need not have any effects on moral thought.2 Before I begin my discussion of evolutionary ethics from Darwin to Moore, I would like to make some more general remarks about its development.3 There are three key events during this history of evolutionary ethics. First, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of the Species (Darwin 1859). Since one did not have a fully developed theory of evolution until 1859, there exists little work on evolutionary ethics until then.4 Shortly thereafter, Herbert Spencer (1898) penned the first systematic theory of evolutionary ethics, which was promptly attacked by T.H. Huxley (Huxley 1894). Second, at about the turn of the century, moral philosophers entered the fray and attempted to demonstrate logical errors in Spencer's work; such errors were alluded to but never fully brought to the fore by Huxley. These philosophers were the well known moralists from Cambridge: Henry Sidgwick (Sidgwick 1902, 1907) and G.E. Moore (Moore 1903), though their ideas hearkened back to David Hume (Hume 1960). These criticisms were so strong that the industry of evolutionary ethics was largely abandoned (though with some exceptions) for many years.5 Third, E.O. Wilson, a Harvard entomologist, published Sociobiology: The New Synthesis in 1975 (Wilson E.O. 1975), which sparked renewed interest in evolutionary ethics and offered new directions of investigation. These events suggest the following stages for the history of evolutionary ethics: development, criticism and abandonment, revival. In this paper, I shall focus on the first two stages, since those are the ones on which the philosophical merits have already been largely decided. The revival stage is still in progress and we shall eventually find out whether it was a success. (shrink)
This essay examines D. G. Ritchie's claim that Principally, it endeavours to determine what Ritchie means by and what kind of utilitarianism he thinks evolutionary theory vindicates. With respect to the kind of utilitarianism vindicated, I will show how he tries to fortify Millian liberal utilitarianism with new liberal values such as self-realization and common good. Ritchie's intellectual debts were eclectic and included mostly Mill, T. H. Green, Hegel and Herbert Spencer.
Neodarwinian ethology, today above all represented by sociobiology, is conceived of by responsible exponents as a descriptive and explanatory theory that cannot include any normative declarations. Still other, indeed notable, authors belonging to the discipline in question, either underhand or frankly employ prescriptive or evaluative judgments, — or they claim (what is not an insight of natural science) that it is impossible to provide a rational foundation for prescriptive or evaluative judgments. (Michael Ruse and Edward O. Wilson even assert the (...) latter without relinquishing the former.) — Several functional explanations of normative validity claims advanced by Michael Ruse, Edward O. Wilson, Donald T. Campbell, Florian von Schilcher and Neil Tennant are designed to show that prescriptive or evaluative judgments cannot be justified. The reasonableness of this move is, however, dubious, because it implies strategies of raising oneself into a privileged status or of rendering the position of oneself immune from criticism by shifting it among the objects of the theory. Then Wilson's concept of 'evolutionary ethics' is thoroughly — and critically — analyzed. The suspicion that Wilson's fallacies in the transition from biological facts to moral norms are of exemplary nature is finally examined on the basis of tenets advanced by Herbert Spencer, Wolfgang Wickler, and Hans Mohr. (shrink)
I. History. Mainwaring's Handel : its relation to British aesthetics -- Herbert Spencer and a musical dispute -- II. Opera and film. Handel's operas : the form of feeling and the problem of appreciation -- Anti-semitism in Meistersinger? -- Speech, song, and the transparency of medium : on operatic metaphysics -- III. Performance. On the historically informed performance -- Ars perfecta : toward perfection in musical performance? -- IV. Interpretation. Another go at the meaning of music : Koopman, Davies, (...) and the meaning of "meaning" -- Another go at musical profundity : Stephen Davies and the game of chess -- From ideology to music : Leonard Meyer's theory of style change -- Sibley's last paper -- In defense of musical representation : music, representation, and the hybrid arts -- Music, language, and cognition : which doesn't belong? (shrink)
This piece, included in the drift special issue of continent. , was created as one step in a thread of inquiry. While each of the contributions to drift stand on their own, the project was an attempt to follow a line of theoretical inquiry as it passed through time and the postal service(s) from October 2012 until May 2013. This issue hosts two threads: between space & place and between intention & attention . The editors recommend that to experience the (...) drifiting thought that attention be paid to the contributions as they entered into conversation one after another. This particular piece is from the BETWEEN SPACE & PLACE thread: April Vannini, Those Between the Common * Laura Dean & Jesse McClelland, Ballard: A Portrait of Placemaking * Amara Hark Weber, Crossroad * Isaac Linder & Berit Soli-Holt, The Call of the Wild: Terro(i)r Modulations * Ashley D. Hairston, Momma taught us to keep a clean house * Sean Smith, The Garage (Take One) * * * * Instead of beginning with radical doubt, we start from naiveté. —Graham Harman, The Quadruple Object Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest. —Jack London, The Call of the Wild The figure of the feral remains a perpetual enigma, but the parameters remain relatively consistent. A person, usually a child, enters civilization after having been raised by wolves or kept in some kind of cruel captivity. The outsider perspective on domestication ensuing in an edge of a culture's self-recognition of its clumsier attributes, what has been taken for granted becomes apparent, is brought to the foreground with the stranger and made questionable. Amusement follows naïve questions or observations such as Kaspar Hauser in the Herzog film, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, when Kaspar notes that while in his room he is engulfed by it, but when he looks at the tower (with the room inside) he can turn away and it disappears. Ergo, the room is larger than the tower. How entertaining. The aberrant one destabilizes the comforting cultural normative. Places become seen as mere impressions out of space, a patterning, a rut that not everyone lives in like us. This is one figure of the feral. The naiveté that begs all the questions. As a figure for a certain philosophical disposition, the rapidity of one’s saccade scans the environment, intuits it’s space, not from an initial thaumazein or a Critchlean sense of disappointment, but from a child-like naiveté bent on survival (itself other than the Socratic naiveté Nietzsche speaks of). To serve the naïve is merely one form of critique, and it is not nearly used enough in lieu of the critique that provides answers. How dull. It is not necessary to be an outsider to entrench a critique with naiveté. After having forced to suffer in the most parched and rocky terro(i)r, itself for so long rooted upwards of fifty feet into the ground upon which it grows, even a grapevine can spontaneously produce a white grape on a red vine. The curious feral can arise from within, and like pinot grigio, it adds variety without admonishing its roots. There is also the feral dog. Not raised by wolves, but humans. Founded in place the figure of this feral denies this place. The trajectory of this feral roves from the cultivated to uncultivated, or in speaking of plants from controlled to volunteer, finding the necessary nutrients and survival patterns on its own. Finding other places, reaching out into space testing its fertility. And when introduced into a foreign environment, it withers or flourishes. We would like to attempt a thesis at this juncture and to accept neither feral figure in its entirety, but to argue for the intimate conjunction between a cultivated place and its resonance with the space it procures for its nest and kin. I'm not a biter, I'm a writer for myself and others. —Jay-Z, What More Can I Say? I am writing for myself and strangers. This is the only way that I can do it. Everybody is a real one to me, everybody is like some one else too to me. No one of them that I know can want to know it and so I write for myself and strangers. —Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans There is no subjective disposition outlining an unambiguous individual of the para-academy. There is no para-academic. We all have day jobs. 'Para-academic' seeped through the cracks as an adjective in the call to frame publishing dedicated to the critical rigor expected by academic publishing, but to deny the limitations of guarded legitimation through capital means. Open-access holds hands with this parasitic descriptor. Para-academic publishing's refusal to adhere to the valuation of locked access of a site, the site “of a desperate initiation to the empty form of value,” 1 seeks to recognize not merely an inclusive interpretation of significance, but the significance of thinking practice. The practice inside the paywalls of academic 'education' is held in a deathgrip by its infatuation with value and information, both empty without the apprehension of human experience, the barbaric yawp. “I can't breathe in here.” It is not that a para-academic practice leads one to the childish wonder of Kaspar Hauser who wonders about the spatiality of his room. It is the academic legitimation that distorts that one can hold the understanding of both in a constellation of place and space. Led to believe there is only a place for things, we are led to disillusionment. It is also not that a para-academic practice relinquishes itself to the invasive growth outside of careful cultivation, an abandonment of pleasantries for the toothy growl of a predator. It is the academy's fear that thought does not require capital to signify value. Some of the most nutritious meals can be foraged. Defining a para-academic practice is not outlining a place of accreditation of the practice, it is the recognition that any place is subject to modulation by the space it inhabits as well as creates. The para-academic practice keeps an eye of the creation of spaces, follows those paths that eat themselves in the name of academia. This is not unlike Red Peter's report to the academy, only successful if we report in idle idiosyncratic banalities that we have once again become victorious in our acculturation and nullification within the confines of accredited mush and our trajectory of wild rigor is defeated in our desire for recognition as recognizable in this place. Weeds are integral to the functioning of a large ecosystem. The manicured garden is entirely reliant on its keeper. The pansy can also go wild once neglected, the daisy definitely does. . . . a universe comes into being when a space is severed or taken apart. The skin of a living organism cuts off an outside from an inside. So does the circumference of a circle in a plane. By tracing the way we represent such a severance, we can begin to reconstruct, with an accuracy and coverage that appear almost uncanny, the basic forms underlying linguistic, mathematical, physical, and biological science, and can begin to see how the familiar laws of our own experience follow from the original act of severance. The act is itself already remembered, even if unconsciously, as our first attempt to distinguish different things in a world where, in the first place, the boundaries can be drawn anywhere we please. At this stage the universe cannot be distinguished from how we act upon it, and the world may seem like shifting sand beneath our feet. —George Spencer-Brown, Laws of Form Two edges are created: an obedient, conformist, plagiarizing edge (the language is to be copied in its canonical state, as it has been established by schooling, good usage, literature, culture), and another edge, mobile, blank (ready to assume any contours), which is never anything but the site of its effect: the place where the death of language is glimpsed. These two edges, the compromise they bring about, are necessary. —Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text Between these two epigraphs, interminable questions of where and questions of happening, gesture, and interface. To stay buoyed between a site of visible (read: valued) happening and haptic perspicacity. Bounded by one or the other leads to a desiccation of potential knowledge. The tumbleweed tumbles until met with mud, a bare structure moving but not movement. A tumbleweed tumbleweeds, propagates only at a place. It becomes significant again, continues. Significance, the site where meaning is made known through kinesthetic apprehension. 2 The feral founds (as those feral twins Romulus and Remus found) a gestural horizon; an outsider’s scrawl-becoming-law; Deleuze teaching Meno’s dog geometry. Place as marked, outlined, recognized, territorialized. The academies marked by their peculiar disciplines, outlined by their rigid boundaries, recognized as factories of value. This far from ensures complete purchase on the space of thought, but it has made an undeniably elaborate means of making work significant. The academy is a muddy spot, it is fertile, but its gates are high and its dogs are barking. The coordinates of concept and experience. Already claimed by a stabilizing suspension, the terms enter specificity of ‘this is this’. Another correlation: activity and the individual. The individual, a placeholder in the crosshairs of juridical identification. Activity, what expands and surrounds this location, but utterly indebted to the node of “one who”. What's happening in this oscillation of nature and nurture is practice. Practice, as Stengers tells us “is not the activity of an individual or the product of that activity. It is the ingredient without which neither that activity nor this product would exist as such.” 3 Moving outward from our own honing, we're curious about the ingredient creating the place for holding conceptual and experiential engagements in each hand. And we'd like to argue that this place is not a limiting specification, but a practice undulating daily, by the minute. And we call this practice the para-academic practice. I repeat: there was no attraction for me in imitating human beings; I imitated them because I needed a way out, and for no other reason. —Franz Kafka, A Report to an Academy In order to exist, man must rebel, but rebellion must respect the limit it discovers in itself—a limit where minds meet and, in meeting, begin to exist. —Albert Camus, The Rebel Anyone is a para-academic or practicer of such means. The academic can, and we argue should, be active para-academically, to escape the bounds, recognizing no site specific place as a place to rest on or the place to grab the Kafka's top and wonder at its disobedience not to continue. Yet, the para-academic practice must maintain the desire for rigor in scholarship. Indeed desiring past itself to claim a more naïve rigor, one that does not take its form for granted. Without a para-academic practice, the scholar spends half the time merely working on behalf of a hierarchy, to maintain it, and the other measly amounts of time are in the name of thinking, but only in name. Not to mention the amount of debt it takes to attend the halls of higher education. Not to mention the snoring tenures. Not to mention the barely scraping by adjuncts. Not to mention the materials that shake the very force of producible theory. Not to mention when swimming in texts becomes slogging through data. Academia is a barbaric food chain and it is our claim that there is, as always, an imperative for thought to move, with Heidegger, beyond the logics of calculation and planning, to a time (and so a space) of its own. The path, into the panic of the dark wood of this space can be followed by any; any who let the silence and the rigor enter the play. Where the little theater is larger when inhabited (Hauser’s perspective); where the data of the tutor asymptotically refutes; and where, as much as one wouldn’t expect it here, ballet may turn out to be the most feral of forms… NOTES Jean Baudrillard, “Value's Last Tango” Simulacra and Simulation trans. Sheila Faria Glaser, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1994). “What is significance? It is meaning, insofar as it is sensually produced.” Roland Barthes in The Pleasure of the Text . Isabelle Stengers, “The Science Wars” Cosmopolitics I trans. Robert Bononno (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010), 47. (shrink)
Categorization and decision making are combined in a task with photorealistic faces. Two different types of face stimuli were assigned probabilistically into one of two fictitious groups; based on the category, faces were further probabilistically assigned to be hostile or friendly. In Part I, participants are asked to categorize a face into one of two categories, and to make a decision concerning interaction. A Markov model of categorization followed by decision making provides reasonable fits to Part I data. A Markov (...) model predicting decision making followed by categorization is rejected. In Part II, a no-parameter model predicts decisions using categorization and decision responses collected in separate trials, suggesting that Part 1 results are not an artifact of the presentation of categorization and decision questions within a single trial. Decisions concerning interaction (defensive/friendly) appear to be based on information from the category decision, and not from the face stimuli alone. (shrink)
Henry Charlton Bastian's support for spontaneous generation is shown to have developed from his commitment to the new evolutionary science of Darwin, Spencer, Huxley and Tyndall. Tracing Bastian's early career development shows that he was one of the most talented rising young stars among the Darwinians in the 1860s. His argument for a logically necessary link between evolution and spontaneous generation was widely believed among those sympathetic to Darwin's ideas. Spontaneous generation implied materialism to many, however, and it had (...) associations in Britain with radical politics and amateur science. Huxley and the X Club were trying to create a public posture of Darwinism that kept it at arm's length from those negative associations. Thus, the conflict that developed when Huxley and the X Club opposed Bastian was at least as much about factional in-fighting among the Darwinians as it was about the experiments under dispute. Huxley's strategy to defeat Bastian and define his position as "non-Darwinian" contributed significantly to the shaping of Huxley's famous address "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis." Rhetorically separating Darwinism from Bastian was thus responsible for Huxley's first clear public statement that a naturalistic origin of life was compatible with Darwin's ideas, but only in the earth's distant past. The final separation of the discourse on the meaning of Brownian movement and "active molecules" from any possible link with spontaneous generation also grew out of Huxley's strategy to defeat Bastian. Clashes between Bastian and the X Club are described at the BAAS, the Royal Society, and in the pages of "Nature" and other journals. (shrink)
While the classical Greco-Roman tradition is not ordinarily thought of as associated with radical individualism, many of the central concerns of such radical individualists as Frédéric Bastiat, Herbert Spencer, Benjamin Tucker, Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, and Ayn Rand—including their views on human sociality, spontaneous order, and the relation between self-interest and non-instrumental concern for others—are shown to be inheritances from and developments of Platonic, Aristotelian, Epicurean, and Stoic ideas. Hence those working in the classical tradition have reason (...) to explore the radical individualist tradition and vice versa. (shrink)