This paper has two parts. In the first part, I concede an error in an argument I have given for the incompatibility of free will and determinism. I go on to show how to modify my argument so as to avoid this error, and conclude that the thesis that free will and determinism are compatible continues to be—to say the least—implausible. But if free will is incompatible with determinism, we are faced with a mystery, for free will undeniably exists, (...) and it also seems to be incompatible with indeterminism. In the second part of this paper, I will defend the conclusion that the concept of agent causation is of no use to the philosopher who wants to maintain that free will and indeterminism are compatible. I conclude that free will remains a mystery---that is, that free will undeniably exists and that there is a strong and unanswered prima facie case for its impossibility. (shrink)
McGinn claims that (1) there is nothing “inherently mysterious” about consciousness, even though (2) we will never be able to understand it. The first claim is no more than a rhetorical flourish. The second may be read either as a claim (1) that we are unable to construct an explanatory theory of consciousness, or (2) that any such theory must strike us as unintelligible, in the sense in which quantum mechanics is sometimes said to be unintelligible. On the first reading, (...) McGinn's argument is based on a false premiss (the “homogeneity constraint"). On the second reading, it suffers from the shortcoming that the central notion of intelligibility is too obscure to permit any definite conclusion. I close with a brief discussion of the contemporary tendency to reject non-physicalist approaches to consciousness on a priori grounds. (shrink)
This paper proposes a reconciliation between libertarian freedomand causal indeterminism, without relying on agent-causation asa primitive notion. I closely examine Peter van Inwagen''s recentcase for free will mysterianism, which is based in part on thewidespread worry that undetermined acts are too chancy to befree. I distinguish three senses of the term chance I thenargue that van Inwagen''s case for free will mystrianism fails,since there is no single construal of the term change on whichall of the premises of his argument for (...) free will–causalindeterminism incompatibilism are true. By use of a particularevent-causal indeterminist account of free action, I support thecase for free will–indeterminism compatibilism. (shrink)
There is a problem regarding God and perception right at the heart of Berkeley’s metaphysics. With respect to this problem, I will argue for (A): It is intractable. Berkeley has no solution to this problem, and neither can we hope to offer one on his behalf. However, I will also argue for (B): The truth of (A) need not be seen as threatening the viability of Berkeley’s metaphysics. In fact, it may even be seen as speaking in its favor.
_This is an account of his present thinking by an excellent philosopher who has been_ _among the two or three foremost defenders of the doctrine that determinism and_ _freedom are incompatible -- that logically we cannot have both. In his 1983 book,_ _An Essay on Free Will_ _, he laid out with unique clarity and force a fundamental_ _argument for this conclusion. What the argument comes to is that if determinism is_ _true, we are not free, since our actions are (...) effects of causal circumstances in the_ _remote past, and those circumstances are certainly not up to us. To that line of_ _thought, in the article below, by way of the supposition of a world of angels, he adds_ _something new. This is a fundamental difficulty with the freedom that we cannot_ _have if determinism is true. The difficulty, indeed a mystery, is one having to do with_ _the opposite of determinism -- indeterminism._. (shrink)
In at least some cases of justified perceptual belief, our perceptual experience itself, as opposed to beliefs about it, evidences and thereby justifies our belief. While the phenomenon is common, it is also mysterious. There are good reasons to think that perceptions cannot justify beliefs directly, and there is a significant challenge in explaining how they do. After explaining just how direct perceptual justification is mysterious, I considerMichael Huemers (Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, 2001) and Bill Brewers (Perception and (...) Reason, 1999) recent, but radically different, attempts to eliminate it. I argue that both are unsuccessful, though a consideration of their mistakes deepens our appreciation of the mystery. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen contends that free will is a mystery. Here I present an argument in the spirit of van Inwagen's. According to the Assimilation Argument, libertarians cannot plausibly distinguish causally undetermined actions, the ones they take to be exercises of free will, from overtly randomized outcomes of the sort nobody would count as exercises of free will. I contend that the Assimilation Argument improves on related arguments in locating the crucial issues between van Inwagen and libertarians who hope (...) to demystify free will, while avoiding objections these arguments have faced. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Peter van Inwagen’s claim (in “Free Will Remains a Mystery”), that agent-causal views of free will could do nothing to solve the problem of free will (specifically, the problem of chanciness). After explaining van Inwagen’s argument, I argue that he does not consider all possible manifestations of the agent-causal position. More importantly, I claim that, in any case, van Inwagen appears to have mischaracterized the problem in some crucial ways. Once we are clear (...) on the true nature of the problem of chanciness, agent-causal views do much to eradicate it. (shrink)
Among challenges to libertarians, the _Mind_ Argument has loomed large. Believing that this challenge cannot be met, Peter van Inwagen, a libertarian, concludes that free will is a mystery. Recently, the _Mind_ Argument has drawn a number of criticisms. Here I seek to add to its woes. Quite apart from its other problems, I argue, the _Mind_ Argument does a poor job of isolating the important concern for libertarians that it raises. Once this concern has been clarified, however, another (...) argument serves to renew the challenge. The Assimilation Argument challenges libertarians to explain how ostensible exercises of free will are relevantly different from other causally undetermined outcomes, outcomes that nobody would count as exercises of free will. In particular, libertarians must explain how agents can have the power to settle which of two causally possible futures becomes the actual future. This will require them to distinguish cases where this power is supposedly present from similar cases where it’s clearly absent. (shrink)
In a recent article, Dale Tuggy argues that the two most favoured approaches to explicating the doctrine of the Trinity, Social Trinitarianism and Latin Trinitarianism, are unsatisfactory on either logical or biblical grounds. Moreover, he contends that appealing to ‘mystery’ in the face of apparent contradiction is rationally and theologically unacceptable. I raise some critical questions about Tuggy's assessment of the most relevant biblical data, before defending against his objections the rationality of an appeal to mystery in the (...) face of theological paradox. (shrink)
This paper considers two “mysteries” having to do with vagueness. The first pertains to existence. An argument is presented for the following conclusion: there are possible cases in which ‘There exists something that is F’ is of indeterminate truth-value and with respect to which it is not assertable that there are borderline-cases of “being F.” It is contended that we have no conception of vagueness that makes this result intelligible. The second mystery has to do with “ordinary” vague predicates, (...) such as ‘tall’. An argument is presented for the conclusion that although there are people who are “tall to degree 1”—definitely tall, tall without qualification—, no greatest lower bound can be assigned to the set of numbers n such that a man who is n centimeters tall is tall to degree 1. But, since this set is bounded from below, this result seems to contradict a well-known property of the real numbers. (shrink)
Common monogenic genetic diseases, ones that have unexpectedly high frequencies in certain populations, have attracted a great number of conflicting evolutionary explanations. This paper will attempt to explain the mystery of why two particularly extensively studied common genetic diseases, Tay Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis, remain evolutionary mysteries despite decades of research. I review the most commonly cited evolutionary processes used to explain common genetic diseases: reproductive compensation, random genetic drift (in the context of founder effect), and especially heterozygote (...) advantage. The latter process has drawn a particularly large amount of attention, having so successfully explained the elevated frequency of sickle cell anemia in malaria-endemic areas. However, the empirical evidence for heterozygote advantage in other common genetic diseases is quite weak. I introduce and illustrate the significance of a hierarchy of genetic disease phenomena found within the genetic disease explanations, which include the phenomena: single mutation variants of a common genetic disease, single genetic diseases, and classes of diseases with related phenotypic effects. I demonstrate that some of the confusion over the explanations of common genetic diseases can be traced back to confusions over which phenomena are being explained. I proceed to briefly evaluate the existing evidence for two common human genetic diseases: Tay Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis. The above considerations will ultimately shed light on why these diseases’ evolutionary explanations remain so deeply unresolved after so such a great volume of research. (shrink)
Research in experimental epistemology has revealed a great, yet unsolved mystery: why do ordinary evaluations of knowledge ascribing sentences involving stakes and error appear to diverge so systematically from the predictions professional epistemologists make about them? Two recent solutions to this mystery by Keith DeRose (2011) and N. Ángel Pinillos (2012) argue that these differences arise due to specific problems with the designs of past experimental studies. This paper presents two new experiments to directly test these responses. Results (...) vindicate previous findings by suggesting that (i) the solution to the mystery is not likely to be based on the empirical features these theorists identify, and (ii) that the salience of ascriber error continues to make the difference in folk ratings of third-person knowledge ascribing sentences. (shrink)
Imagine yourself sitting on your front porch, sipping your morning coffee and admiring the scene before you. You see trees, houses, people, automobiles; you see a cat running across the road, and a bee buzzing among the flowers. You see that the flowers are yellow, and blowing in the wind. You see that the people are moving about, many of them on bicycles. You see that the houses are painted different colors, mostly earth tones, and most are one-story but a (...) few are two-story. It is a beautiful morning. Thus the world interfaces with your mind through your senses. There is a strong intuition that we are not disconnected from the world. We and the other things we see around us are part of a continuous whole, and we have direct access to them through vision, touch, etc. However, the philosophical tradition tries to drive a wedge between us and the world by insisting that the information we get from perception is the result of inference from indirect evidence that is about how things look and feel to us. The philosophical problem of perception is then to explain what justifies these inferences. We will focus on visual perception. Figure one presents a crude diagram of the cognitive system of an agent capable of forming beliefs on the basis of visual perception. Cognition begins with the stimulation of the rods and cones on the retina. From that physical input, some kind of visual processing produces an introspectible visual image. In response to the production of the visual image, the cognizer forms beliefs about his or her surroundings. Some beliefs the perceptual beliefs are formed as direct responses to the visual input, and other beliefs are inferred from the perceptual beliefs. The perceptual beliefs are, at the very least, caused or causally influenced by having the image. This is signified by the dashed arrow marked with a large question mark. We will refer to this as the mystery link. Figure one makes it apparent that in order to fully understand how knowledge is based on perception, we need three different theories.. (shrink)
David Cooper explores and defends the view that a reality independent of human perspectives is necessarily indescribable, a "mystery." Other views are shown to be hubristic. Humanists, for whom "man is the measure" of reality, exaggerate our capacity to live without the sense of an independent measure. Absolutists, who proclaim our capacity to know an independent reality, exaggerate our cognitive powers. In this highly original book Cooper restores to philosophy a proper appreciation of mystery-that is what provides a (...) measure of our beliefs and conduct. (shrink)
Introduction: Does anyone actually believe in God? -- Life-orienting stories -- God of the philosophers -- Reasons for believing in God -- Resistance and receptivity -- Belief as a practical issue -- Anthropomorphism and mystery -- Naturalistic stories -- Theistic and naturalistic morality -- Meaning and the limits of meaning -- Conviction, doubt, and humility.
This paper proposes an analytical taxonomy of ‘mystery’ based upon what makes a mystery mysterious. I begin by distinguishing mysteries that depend on what we do not know (e.g. detective fiction) from mysteries that depend on what we do know (e.g. religious mysteries). Then I distinguish three possible grounds for the latter type. The third and most provocative ground offers a mathematical analogy for how rational reflection can be appropriate to mystery without compromising its intrinsically mysterious character. (...) I conclude with reflections on the metaphysical presuppositions that this understanding of mystery requires. (Published Online January 15 2007). (shrink)
Any satisfactory account of freedom must capture, or at least permit, the mysteriousness of freedom—a “sweet” mystery involving a certain kind of ignorance rather than a “sour” mystery of unintelligibility, incoherence, or unjustifiedness. I argue that compatibilism can capture the sweet mystery of freedom. I argue first that an action is free if and only if a certain “rationality constraint” is satisfied, and that nothing in standard libertarian accounts of freedom entails its satisfaction. Satisfaction of this constraint (...) is consistent with the universal causal predetermination of action (UCP). If UCP is true and the rationality constraint satisfied, there’s a sense in which our actions are explanatorily (though not necessarily causally) overdetermined. While it seems plausible (given UCP) that our actions are so overdetermined, it seems utterly mysterious why they should be so overdetermined. Compatibilism’s capacity to accommodate this mystery is a mark in its favor. (shrink)
This article on mystery and hope at the boundary of reason in the postmodern situation responds to the challenge of postmodern thinking to philosophyby a recourse to the works of Gabriel Marcel and his best disciple, Paul Ricoeur. It develops along the lines of their interpretation of hope as a central phenomenon in human experience and existence, thus shedding light on the philosophical enterprise for the future. It is our purpose to dwell briefly on this postmodern challenge and then, (...) incorporating its positive contribution, to present theirs as an alternative philosophy at the boundary of reason. (shrink)
This paper considers two mysteries having to do with vagueness. The first pertains to existence. An argument is presented for the following conclusion: there are possible cases in which âThere exists something that is Fâ is of indeterminate truth-value and with respect to which it is not assertable that there are borderline-cases of being F. It is contended that we have no conception of vagueness that makes this result intelligible. The second mystery has to do with ordinary vague predicates, (...) such as âtallâ. An argument is presented for the conclusion that although there are people who are tall to degree 1 âdefinitely tall, tall without qualificationâ, no greatest lower bound can be assigned to the set of numbers n such that a man who is n centimeters tall is tall to degree 1. But, since this set is bounded from below, this result seems to contradict a well-known property of the real numbers. (shrink)
The question of paradox in Christian theology continues to attract attention in contemporary philosophical theology. Much of this attention understandably centers on the epistemological problems paradoxical claims pose for Christian faith. But even among those who conclude that certain points of Christian theology are paradoxical and that belief in paradoxical points of doctrine is epistemically supportable, concepts of the nature and function of paradox in Christian theology differ significantly. In this essay, after briefly noting the diversity of phenomena that count (...) as paradoxes in contemporary discourse, I critique two of the most helpful accounts of paradox in Christian theology available – James Anderson's and C. Stephen Evans's – on the way to proposing an alternative definition. That definition combines the most helpful features of those two accounts while correcting certain weaknesses in each. The result is a definition of paradox as a particular kind of mystery that fits the Reformed strand of Christian theology particularly well and involves a compelling analysis of the spirituality of the phenomenon of paradox in theology. (shrink)
Anselm said that God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived, but he believed that it followed that God is greater than can be conceived. The second formulaâessential to sound theologyâpoints to the mystery of God. The usual way of preserving divine mystery is the via negativa, as one finds in Aquinas. I formalize Hartshorneâs central argument against negative theology in the simplest modal system T. I end with a defense of Hartshorneâs way of preserving the (...)mystery of God, which he locates in the actuality of God rather than in the divine existence or essence. This paper was delivered during the APA Pacific 2007 Mini-Conference on Models of God. (shrink)
That the life of Christian faith needs to understand itself as dwelling in the realm of mystery, of that which exceeds and overwhelms any languageand concepts with which we seek to understand it, is suggested at three sites in continental philosophy of religion: Heidegger’s critique of ontotheology,Marcel’s distinction between problems and mysteries, and Marion’s distinction between idol and icon, along with his account of the saturatedphenomenon. All three see the category of mystery as much wider than its religious (...) usage but as crucial for a proper understanding and practice ofChristian faith. (shrink)
Abstract In this paper the word mystery refers to “what“ cannot be understood or intellectually grasped; a mystery is concealed and unavailable for direct explanation. The questions the discussion raises address the decisive differences that sensibilities and feelings often make in our encounters with mysteries as well as occurrences of mystery that seem undetermined by differences of sensibility. The main topics are: mystery and eternal return, contexts of mystery, another kind of speaking about mystery (...) (that take account of one's own sensibility), turning away from Nietzsche and Heidegger and toward a prioritizing of feeling. (shrink)
As a general rule, contemporary philosophers have taken a different approach, and, thus, there has been very little discussion of mystery in philosophy. As a study of mystery in philosophy, this book is therefore somewhat unique.
This article explores the relationship between religious and philosophical thought, taking the kindred approaches of Anselm and Hegel as illustrations of one particular approach to the issue. It is argued that both thinkers employ a “logic of unity” which tends to subordinate the religious to the philosophical. The most important result of this approach, for the purposes of this paper, is the blurring of the distinction between the human and the divine. The logic of unity, whichultimately implies the “unity” of (...) the human and divine, renders the traditional understanding of God’s mystery problematic. Yet, while Hegel is comfortablewith this eradication of mystery, Anselm proceeds to offer a somewhat cryptic argument for divine mystery, which nevertheless respects the logic of unity towhich he adheres. (shrink)
The efforts of theologians in the last few decades to adapt their discipline to the methodological constraints of the “empirical sciences” have become obsolete. Just as many theologians have reached a tentative rapproachment with the “secular” mentality, the elements of mystery hitherto shepherded by religious thinkers have been appropriated in the cosmological models of the “new physics.” -/- The paper explores revolutionary developments over the last ten years within quantum physics. It points to an imminent convergence between scientific and (...) religious concepts within a larger framework of speculation termed synholism (from Friedrich von Weizsácher), and examines theoretical implications of such hypotheses in high-energy physics as a “cosmic consciousness” and “multiple universes.”. (shrink)
Philosophy develops the direction towards the Whole opened up by the Notion of Being that makes the mind to be a mind. It isgrounded in awe that can increase as inquiry continues, though it tends to fall back into the routines of its exercise, like every otherhuman activity. In a time when it is common to think of ourselves as just another combination of elements in the evolutionary universe,reflection upon our own awareness turns the tables on materialists by re-minding the (...) earliest phases called “mere matter” and setting the cosmos back into the encompassing realm of absolute Mystery. (shrink)
From the end of the 19th century until his death, one of history's most brilliant mathematicians languished in an asylum. The Mystery of the Aleph tells the story of Georg Cantor (1845-1918), a Russian-born German who created set theory, the concept of infinite numbers, and the "continuum hypothesis," which challenged the very foundations of mathematics. His ideas brought expected denunciation from established corners - he was called a "corruptor of youth" not only for his work in mathematics, but for (...) his larger attempts to meld spirituality and science. (shrink)
Introduction -- Historical background : schools and politics -- Major representatives : Daoists of the Liang and Tang -- The sources : commentaries and scriptures -- Key concepts : mystery, Dao, and the greater cosmos -- Salvation : Dao-nature and the sage -- The teaching : mysticism, cultivation, and integration -- Changes in the Pantheon : Laozi and the heavenly deities -- The body of the sage : the three-in-one and the three- -- Fold body of the Buddha.
This book studies the intersection of sacred and secular conceptions of kingship in the Renaissance. The book documents in detail six instances of the attempt to connect Machiavelli's thought to an ancient and secret tradition of political counsel, the arcana imperii, or mysteries of state. The ways in which Renaissance writers attempted such a connection varied widely. In addition to carefully analyzing these arguments, the book documents patterns in their dissemination. Through his connection with mysteries of state, Machiavelli influenced not (...) only Renaissance political ideas, but the transmission of these ideas. Machiavellian politics was a secret art; its vehicles, frequently secret books; and its authors and readers, sharers in a mystery. (shrink)
Gomez, Cristina Lledo This article explores the idea that motherhood is an invitation to engage with the paschal mystery and can thus be a salvific experience in the lives of women. This is of even greater significance for a Christian mother who can explicitly name the experience as her own sharing in the paschal event of Jesus. This article will focus on crisis moments of motherhood in a contemporary Western context, exploring particularly the issues raised in first becoming a (...) mother, and on the initial years of motherhood. (shrink)
In a classic article, philosopher William P. Alston argues that nonrealism, “though rampant nowadays even among Christian theologians,” is “subversive” of theistic faith.1 Among contemporaries guilty of succumbing to this philosophical bogey, Gordon Kaufman is singled out as an especially illuminating example. Alston notes that in the essays that make up God the Problem, Kaufman makes use of a distinction between the “available referent” of theistic language and its “real referent,” the former indicating the actual object of religious experience and (...) responses, and the latter appearing only as the “I-know-not-what” that ultimately grounds them. By the time Kaufman writes In Face of Mystery, Alston suggests, the .. (shrink)
This guest-edited special section explores the related themes of mystery, humility, and religious practice from both the Western and East Asian philosophical traditions. The contributors are David E. Cooper, John Cottingham, Mark Wynn, Graham Parkes, and Ian James Kidd.
The cultivation of receptivity to the mystery of reality is a central feature of many religious and philosophical traditions, both Western and Asian. This paper considers two contemporary accounts of receptivity to mystery – those of David E. Cooper and John Cottingham – and considers them in light of the problem of loss of receptivity. I argue that a person may lose their receptivity to mystery by embracing what I call a scientistic stance, and the paper concludes (...) by offering two possible responses to combating that stance and restoring the receptivity to mystery that it occludes. (shrink)
This is the first book to analyze systematically crucial aspects of ancient Greek philosophy in their original context of mystery, religion, and magic. The author brings to light recently uncovered evidence about ancient Pythagoreanism and its influence on Plato, and reconstructs the fascinating esoteric transmission of Pythagorean ideas from the Greek West down to the alchemists and magicians of Egypt, and from there into the world of Islam.
Alfred Loisy (1857-1940), the excommunicated French modernist priest and historian of religions, and Franz Cumont (1868-1947), the Belgian historian of religions and expert in pagan mystery cults, conducted a lively correspondence in which they intensively exchanged ideas. One of their favorite subjects for discussion was the dependence of St Paul on the pagan mysteries. Loisy dealt with this early 20 th century moot point for Protestant, Catholic and non-religious scholars in his publications, while Cumont always remained silent. This study (...) of their unpublished letters sheds new light on the strategies lying behind their publications. It reveals what they chose not to say, and what they meant by what they did say. (shrink)
The path to a new discovery in physics is often a very twisted one. The subject of this Alternate View column is an example of this process. A major accelerator, built with with the prospect of discovering super-heavy elements, is now being used in an experiment to produce "super-atoms" with very large electric fields, and this work has quite unexpectedly revealed what looks like a new and mysterious particle. It is reminiscent of the SF of the 1930's where one of (...) the standard science gimmicks was the discovery of a new element with amazing properties. It also sounds a bit like the Paul Preuss novel Broken Symmetries, where the plot revolves around the discovery at a large accelerator laboratory of a mysterious new particle. But this is real science, folks. Honest! (shrink)
Meet the God Who Is Greater Than Your Biggest Questions. The Bible never shies away from seeming contradictions. We are told both to resist our enemies and to love them, and that our all-knowing God can sometimes forget. Unable to reconcile such biblical paradoxes, some people abandon Christianity, while others pretend that the seeming contradictions don’t exist–preferring to believe in an uncomplicated, easy-to-comprehend God. Yet countless others are hungry for new insight into the God behind the Bible’s mysterious paradoxes. Responding (...) to this spiritual hunger, James Lucas delves into the mysteries of Scripture, demonstrating that biblical “contradictions” are actually exquisite paradoxes that enlarge our understanding of God. With this book as your guide, you can embrace the paradoxes of Scripture and pursue honest answers to your hardest questions. The study of biblical paradox leads to greater devotion to the majestic God who makes himself known even while he surpasses human understanding. Today, you can begin Knowing the Unknowable God. (shrink)
This article offers an overview of the structure and significance of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology. Neither a psychological nor an epistemological theory, Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception is instead an attempt to describe perceptual experience as we experience it. Although he was influenced heavily by Husserl, Heidegger, and Gestalt psychology, his work departs significantly from all three. Particularly original is his account of our bodily, precognitive experience of other persons, which he argues is essentially more primitive than any belief or doubt we can (...) raise concerning the contents or even the existence of their minds. I conclude with a discussion of the differences between Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology and Alva Noë's more recent 'enactive' theory of perception. (shrink)
For some fifty years now, nearly all work in mainstream analytic philosophy has made no serious attempt to understand the _nature of_ _physical reality,_ even though most analytic philosophers take this to be all of reality, or nearly all. While we've worried much about the nature of our own experiences and thoughts and languages, we've worried little about the nature of the vast physical world that, as we ourselves believe, has them all as only a small part.
This article surveys the difficulties in establishing determinism for classical physics within the context of several distinct foundational approaches to the discipline. It explains that such problems commonly emerge due to a deeper problem of ‘missing physics'. The Problems of Formalism Norton's Example Three Species of Classical Mechanics 3.1 Mass point physics 3.2 The physics of perfect constraints 3.3 Continuum mechanics Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
A number of philosophers have recently argued that (i) consciousness properties are identical with some set of physical or functional properties and that (ii) we can explain away the frequently felt puzzlement about this claim as a delusion or confusion generated by our different ways of apprehending or thinking about consciousness. This paper examines David Papineau’s influential version of this view. According to Papineau, the difference between our “phenomenal” and “material” concepts of consciousness produces an instinctive but erroneous intuition that (...) these concepts can’t co-refer. I claim that this account fails. To begin with, it is arguable that we are mystified about physicalism even when the account predicts that we shouldn’t be. Further, and worse, the account predicts that an “intuition of distinctness” will arise in cases where it clearly does not. In conclusion, I make some remarks on the prospects for, constraints on, and (physicalist) alternatives to, a successful defence of the claim (ii). (shrink)
The concept of volition has a long history in Western thought, but is looked upon unfavorably in contemporary philosophy and psychology. This paper proposes and elaborates a unifying conception of volition, which views volition as a mediating executive mental process that bridges the gaps between an agent's deliberation, decision and voluntary bodily action. Then the paper critically examines three major skeptical arguments against volition: volition is a mystery, volition is an illusion, and volition is a fundamentally flawed conception that (...) leads to infinite regress. It is shown that all these charges are untenable and the arguments are far from decisive to dismiss the concept of volition. In addition, it is suggested that a naturalistic approach, which takes philosophical inquiry as continuous with the scientific study of volition, is a promising way to demystify volition. (shrink)
Several authors have suggested that we cannot fully grapple with the ethics of human enhancement unless we address neglected questions about our place in the world, questions that verge on theology but can be pursued independently of religion. A prominent example is Michael Sandel, who argues that the deepest objection to enhancement is that it expresses a Promethean drive to mastery which deprives us of openness to the unbidden and leaves us with nothing to affirm outside our own wills. Sandel's (...) argument against enhancement has been criticized, but his claims about mastery and the unbidden, and their relation to religion, have not yet received sufficient attention. I argue that Sandel misunderstands the notions of mastery and the unbidden and their significance. Once these notions are properly understood, they have surprising implications. It turns out that the value of openness to the unbidden is not just independent of theism, as Sandel claims, but is in fact not even fully compatible with it. But in any case that value cannot support Sandel's objection to enhancement. This is because it is not enhancement but certain forms of opposition to enhancement that are most likely to express a pernicious drive to mastery. (shrink)
Darwin oﬀered an intriguing answer to the species problem. He doubted the existence of the species category as a real category in nature, but he did not doubt the existence of those taxa called ‘‘species’’. And despite his scepticism of the species category, Darwin continued using the word ‘‘species’’. Many have said that Darwin did not understand the nature of species. Yet his answer to the species problem is both theoretically sound and practical. On the theoretical side, DarwinÕs answer is (...) conﬁrmed by contemporary biology, and it oﬀers a more satisfactory answer to the species problem than recent attempts to save the species category. On the practical side, DarwinÕs answer frees us from the search for the correct theoretical deﬁnition of ‘‘species’’. But at the same time it does not require that we banish the word ‘‘species’’ from biology as some recent sceptics of the species category advocate. Ó The Willi Hennig Society 2010. (shrink)
While some branches of complexity theory are advancing rapidly, the same cannot be said for our understanding of emergence. Despite a complete knowledge of the rules underlying the interactions between the parts of many systems, we are often baffled by their sudden transitions from simple to complex. Here I propose a solution to this conceptual problem. Given that emergence is often the result of many interactions occurring simultaneously in time and space, an ability to intuitively grasp it would require the (...) ability to consciously think in parallel. A simple exercise is used to demonstrate that we do not possess this ability. Our surprise at the behaviour of cellular automata models, and the natural cases of pattern formation they mimic, is then explained from this perspective. This work suggests that the cognitive limitations of the mind can be as significant a barrier to scientific progress as the limitations of our senses. (shrink)
The paper considers a version of the problem of linguistic creativity obtained by interpreting attributions of ordinary semantic knowledge as attributions of practical competencies with expressions. The paper explains how to cope with this version of the problem without invoking either compositional theories of meaning or the notion of `tacit knowledge' (of such theories) that has led to unnecessary puzzlement. The central idea is to show that the core assumption used to raise the problem is false. To render precise argument (...) possible, the paper first identifies and removes some relevant semantic indeterminacy in philosophical talk of `semantic knowledge' and `information'. This yields rules for attributing the two to human speakers and information-processors, respectively. The paper then shows, first, that ordinary speakers qualify as possessing all along an other than finite and definite stock of semantic knowledge and, second, that a very simple information-processor running a procedural semantics qualifies as possessing an analogous stock of semantic information. The second result is used to bring out that the first is neither unduly impressive nor particularly puzzling. (shrink)
In what follows, I suggest that, against most theories of time, there really is an actual present, a now, but that such an eternal moment cannot be found before or after time. It may even be semantically incoherent to say that such an eternal present exists since “it” is changeless and formless (presumably a dynamic chaos without location or duration) yet with creative potential. Such a field of near-infinite potential energy could have had no beginning and will have no end, (...) yet within it stirs the desire to experience that brings forth singularities, like the one that exploded into the Big Bang (experiencing itself through relative and relational spacetime). From the perspective of the eternal now of near-infinite possibilities (if such a sentence can be semantically parsed at all), there is only the timeless creative present, so the Big Bang did not happen some 13 billion years ago. Inasmuch as there is neither time past nor time future nor any time at all at the null point of forever, we must understand the Big Bang (and all other events) as taking place right here and now. In terms of the eternal now, the beginning is happening now and we just appeared (and are always just appearing) to witness it. The rest is all conscious construction; time and experience are so entangled, they need each other to exist. (shrink)
What sort of entities are electrons, photons and atoms given their wave-like and particle-like properties? Is nature fundamentally deterministic or probabilistic? Orthodox quantum theory (OQT) evades answering these two basic questions by being a theory about the results of performing measurements on quantum systems. But this evasion results in OQT being a seriously defective theory. A rival, somewhat ignored strategy is to conjecture that the quantum domain is fundamentally probabilistic. This means quantum entities, interacting with one another probabilistically, must differ (...) radically from the entities of deterministic classical physics, the classical wave or particle. It becomes possible to conceive of quantum entities as a new kind of fundamentally probabilistic entity, the “propensiton”, neither wave nor particle. A fully micro realistic, testable rival to OQT results. (shrink)
Does not the theory of a general tendency of entropy to diminish [sic1] take too much for granted? To a certain extent it is supported by experimental evidence. We must accept such evidence as far as it goes and no further. We have no right to supplement it by a large draft of the scientific imagination. (Burbury 1904, 49).
Until recently, little was known of H.L.A. Hart’s private life. That has now changed with the publication of Nicola Lacey’s A Life of H.L.A. Hart: The Nightmare and the Noble Dream. Drawing on Hart’s notebooks and correspondence, Lacey paints an illuminating portrait of Hart, which reveals that despite his public success he struggled with internal perplexities, including his sexual orientation, Jewish identity, intellectual insecurity, and unconventional marriage. Yet, as critics have noted, the connection between these revelations and the development of (...) Hart’s ideas is unclear. Moreover, one cannot help but wonder whether by focusing on these aspects of Hart’s personal life, Lacey has missed an opportunity to explore certain basic questions about his jurisprudence and its link to wider intellectual currents. For example, linguistics, psychology, and the philosophy of language and mind are much different today than they were in the 1940s and 1950s, yet Lacey does not discuss how such familiar events as the overthrow of logical positivism, the demise of behaviorism, the rise of generative linguistics, or the broader cognitive revolution of which they were a part actually impacted Hart or should influence our understanding of his legacy. Surprisingly, none of these developments are taken up in this book, leading one to ponder the significance of their absence. (shrink)
This rich, subtle and hugely ambitious book might also have been called “why (and how) metaphysics matters”. Cooper's themes are the tensions implicit in the relation of contingent human beings to the world and the implications of those tensions, and of putative means of their.
This volume collects nine essays published by Peter van Inwagen between 1977 and 1995. Part I features, among other things, modal skepticism with respect to ontological arguments and arguments from evil. Part II addresses certain tensions Christians may feel between modern biology, critical studies of the New Testament, and the comparative study of religions, on the one hand, and Christian orthodoxy, on the other. Part III deploys a formal logic of relative identity to model the internal consistency of the orthodox (...) doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. In what follows, we summarize and reflect on five essays. (shrink)
Brain Mystique Light and Dark bridges the gap between neuroscience, brain evolution and consciousness by examining scientific models of how the brain becomes conscious. The book argues that the spiritual dimension of life is compatible with scientific naturalism. Not bound by conventional stereotypes, Charles Don Keyes safeguards the unity of brain/mind, synthesized from a wide range of sources, reinterprets the triune brain concept and self-reference models of consciousness.
The young women had survived the car crash, after a fashion. In the five months since parts of her brain had been crushed, she could open her eyes but didn't respond to sights, sounds or jabs. In the jargon of neurology, she was judged to be in a persistent vegetative state. In crueler everyday language, she was a vegetable.
With the arrival of the fourth volume of this work, Peter Lombard's Sentences is now fully available in English for the first time. Giulio Silano's text, based on the third critical edition by Ignatius C. Brady in two volumes (Grottaferrata, 1971-81) is distinguished by its accuracy and readability, meeting the exacting criteria of a Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies translation. Each volume has a detailed table of contents, an index of biblical and patristic references, and a full bibliography of English (...) translations of sources cited in the text along with on-line versions where they exist. Volume 1 contains a bibliography of Anglophone scholarship pertinent to the Lombard, not updated in volume 4. .. (shrink)