As I understand it, the Sokal affair is about affirmative action for ideas. Should arguments felt to be under-represented in the culture-at-large be admitted into prestigious haunts like Social Text even if they don't meet the standard intellectual tests? Alan Sokal got tired of what he saw as an excess of affirmative action in the ideas purveyed by cultural studies. So he devised a test in the form of a hoax: Could an author who deliberately met no standards whatsoever make (...) it into Social Text merely by parading past the judges their own sympathies, dressed up in a jargon they would recognize and citing these same judges as authoritative? The test came back positive. The issue, then, is what to make of the results. (shrink)
When I was a child, my favorite story was "The Emperor's New Clothes." A chorus of adults praises the Emperor's new wardrobe, but a child blurts out the truth: The Emperor is in fact stark naked. From this tale, I learned that adults could be intimidated into endorsing all kinds of flummery. The longer I teach at the university, the more I return to this story for consolation.
Stated as simply as possible, Loeb wishes to introduce what he regards as a methodological innovation in the study of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The innovation is required in order to rectify a scandalous situation in Nietzsche studies that has obtained up to the present time.Actually, there seem to be two main points to Loeb's argument. These points are expressed on the first two pages of his exposition. First, "[t]o paraphrase Kant, it remains a scandal to Nietzsche scholarship that we are (...) obliged to assume the centrality of his doctrine of eternal recurrence but we are not able to give a satisfactory reply to anyone who may claim to refute this doctrine." A satisfactory rebuttal to an alleged refutation is itself .. (shrink)
Integrative and naturalistic philosophy of mind can both learn from and contribute to the contemporary cognitive sciences of dreaming. Two related phenomena concerning self-representation in dreams demonstrate the need to bring disparate fields together. In most dreams, the protagonist or dream self who experiences and actively participates in dream events is or represents the dreamer: but in an intriguing minority of cases, self-representation in dreams is displaced, disrupted, or even absent. Working from dream reports in established databanks, we examine two (...) key forms of polymorphism of self-representation: dreams (or dream episodes) in which I take an external visuospatial perspective on myself, and those in which I take someone else's perspective on events. In remembering my past experiences or imagining future or possible experiences when awake, I sometimes see myself from an external or ‘observer’ perspective. By relating the issue of perspective in dreams to established research traditions in the study of memory and imagery, and noting the flexibility of perspective in dreams, we identify new lines of enquiry. In other dreams, the dreamer does not appear to figure at all, and the first person perspective on dream events is occupied by someone else, some other person or character. We call these puzzling cases ‘vicarious dreams’ and assess some potential ways to make sense of them. Questions about self-representation and perspectives in dreams are intriguing in their own right and pose empirical and conceptual problems about the nature of self-representation with implications beyond the case of dreaming. (shrink)
Abstract This paper illustrates how Aristotle's topological theses about change in Physics 5-6 can help address metaphysical issues. Two distinctions from Physics 5. 1 are discussed: changing per se versus changing per aliud ; motion versus change. Change from white to black is motion and alteration, whereas change from white to not white is neither. But is not every change from white to black identical with a change from white to not white? Theses from Physics 6 refute the identity. Is (...) change from white to black at least accompanied by change from white to not white? Perhaps, but given further theses from Physics 6, this supposition yields unwelcome consequences. Most likely, when something changes from white to black it changes merely per aliud , not per se , from white to not white. Genuine change between white and not white is found elsewhere; its admission has bearing on Aristotle's theory of perception. (shrink)
This article argues for a conception of the history of ideas that treats philosophy historically while avoiding sociological reductionism. On the view presented here, philosophical problems characteristically arise from a conflict of commitments, at least some of which have roots in wider forms of life and ways of seeing the world. In bringing such 'doxa' to our attention, the history of ideas, it is argued, plays a role that is both genuinely historical and, at the same time, contributes to philosophical (...) argument in making these commitments available to scrutiny. The article defends the permissibility of the apparent 'anachronism' involved in such interpretations. Although they may violate the 'principle of attribution' advocated by Quentin Skinner in his seminal 'Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas', that principle should not be accepted. The ascription of authorial intentions does indeed form an important part of interpretation, but intentions should not be understood either in a 'Cartesian' fashion (as recapturing what was 'in the author's mind') or in the modified version of Austinian speech-act theory advocated by Skinner. (shrink)
Objective or subjective : that is the question -- The science of nature and the nature of science -- Theory : explanation, not speculation -- Is science the whole story? -- Our unique universe -- Nature's laws -- Facing the universe -- The hunt for reality.
According to Parfit, the best version of Kantian ethics takes as its central principle Kantian Contractualism: the thesis that everyone ought to follow the principles whose universal acceptance everyone could rationally will. This paper examines that thesis, identifies a class of annoying counterexamples, and suggests that when Kantian Contractualism is modified in response to these examples, the resulting principle is too complex and ad hoc to serve as the 'supreme principle of morality'.
The central thesis of this paper is that contemporary theoretical physics is grounded in philosophical presuppositions that make it difficult to effectively address the problems of subject-object interaction and discontinuity inherent to quantum gravity. The core objectivist assumption implicit in relativity theory and quantum mechanics is uncovered and we see that, in string theory, this assumption leads into contradiction. To address this challenge, a new philosophical foundation is proposed based on the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Martin Heidegger. Then, through (...) the application of qualitative topology and hypernumbers, phenomenological ideas about space, time, and dimension are brought into focus so as to provide specific solutions to the problems of force-field generation and unification. The phenomenological string theory that results speaks to the inconclusiveness of conventional string theory and resolves its core contradiction. (shrink)
According to one sort of epistemic relativist, normative epistemic claims (e.g., evidence E justifies hypothesis H) are never true or false simpliciter, but only relative to one or another epistemic system. In chapter 6 of Fear of Knowledge, Paul Boghossian objects to this view on the ground that its central notions cannot be explained, and that it cannot account for the normativity of epistemic discourse. This paper explores how the dogged relativist might respond.
Most recent discussions of John Stuart Mill’s System of Logic (1843) neglect the fifth book concerned with logical fallacies. Mill not only follows the revival of interest in the traditional Aristotelian doctrine of fallacies in Richard Whately and Augustus De Morgan, but he also develops new categories and an original analysis which enhance the study of fallacies within the context of what he calls ‘the philosophy of error’. After an exploration of this approach, the essay relates the philosophy of error (...) to the discussion of truth and error in chapter two of On Liberty (1859) concerned with freedom of thought and discussion. Drawing on Socratic and Baconian perspectives, Mill defends both the traditional study of logic against Jevons, Boole, De Morgan, and others, as well as the study of fallacies as the key to maintaining truth and its dissemination in numerous fields, such as science, morality, politics, and religion. In Mill’s view the study of fallacies also liberates ordinary people to explore the truth and falsity of ideas and, as such, to participate in society and politics and develop themselves as progressive beings. (shrink)