Human beings have the unique ability to consciously reflect on the nature of the self. But reflection has its costs. We can ask what the self is, but as David Hume pointed out, the self, once reflected upon, may be nowhere to be found. The favored view is that we are material beings living in the material world. But if so, a host of destabilizing questions surface. If persons are just a sophisticated sort of animal, then what sense is there (...) to the idea that we are free agents who control our own destinies? What makes the life of any animal, even one as sophisticated as Homo sapiens, worth anything? What place is there in a material world for God? And if there is no place for a God, then what hold can morality possibly have on us--why isn't everything allowed? Flanagan's collection of essays takes on these questions and more. He continues the old philosophical project of reconciling a scientific view of ourselves with a view of ourselves as agents of free will and meaning-makers. But to this project he brings the latest insights of neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychiatry, exploring topics such as whether the conscious mind can be explained scientifically, whether dreams are self-expressive or just noise, the moral socialization of children, and the nature of psychological phenomena such as multiple personality disorder and false memory syndrome. What emerges from these explorations is a liberating vision which can make sense of the self, agency, character transformation, and the value and worth of human life. Flanagan concludes that nothing about a scientific view of persons must lead to nihilism. (shrink)
This book is a major contribution to the philosophical literature on the nature of the self, personal identity, and survival. Its distinctive methodology is one that is phenomenologically descriptive rather than metaphysical and normative. On the basis of this approach Raymond Martin shows that the distinction between self and other is not nearly as fundamental a feature of our so-called egoistic values as has been traditionally thought. He explains how the belief in a self as a fixed, continuous point of (...) observation enters into our experience of ourselves and the world. He also reveals the explosive implications this thesis has for recent debates over personal identity and what matters in survival. This is the first book of analytic philosophy directly on the phenomenology of identity and survival. It builds bridges between analytic and phenomenological traditions and, thus, to open up a new field of investigation. (shrink)
This book aims at reconciling the emerging conceptions of mind and their contents that have, in recent years, come to seem irreconcilable. Post-Cartesian philosophers face the challenge of comprehending minds as natural objects possessing apparently non-natural powers of thought. The difficulty is to understand how our mental capacities, no less than our biological or chemical characteristics, might ultimately be products of our fundamental physical constituents, and to do so in a way that preserves the phenomena. Externalists argue that the significance (...) of thought turns on the circumstances of thinkers; reductionists hold that mental characteristics are physical; eliminationists contend that the concept of thought belongs to an outmoded folk theory of behavior. John Heil explores these topics and points the way to a naturalistic synthesis, one that accords the mental a place in the physical world alongside the non-mental. (shrink)
Eleven papers by distinguished British and American philosophers are brought together in this volume. -/- Five of the contributors engage in effect in a running debate about knowledge. How does knowledge relate to evidence? How reliable need one be to have knowledge? Once sceptical doubt has been introduced is there any untainted evidence to show that it is misplaced? Does verificationism succeed in showing that scepticism is untenable? Or is there a natural propensity for belief which explains why we are (...) not in fact sceptics? -/- The other six tackle questions about logic and its relation to language. Can one give a 'realist' account of logical truth without supposing that logic has a subject-matter? How do theories of descriptions fare when tested by their handling of functions? How can indirect speech report someone's use of words like 'this'? Does our language count for or against adopting second-order logic? -/- These papers, given in the British Academy Philosophical Lectures series, are all examples of recent philosophy at its best. (shrink)
While experience tells us that time flows from the past to the present and into the future, a number of philosophical and physical objections exist to this commonsense view of dynamic time. In an attempt to make sense of this conundrum, philosophers and physicists are forced to confront fascinating questions, such as: Can effects precede causes? Can one travel in time? Can the expansion of the Universe or the process of measurement in quantum mechanics define a direction in time? In (...) this book, researchers from both physics and philosophy attempt to answer these issues in an interesting, yet rigorous way. This fascinating book will be of interest to physicists and philosophers of science and educated general readers interested in the direction of time. (shrink)
In Natural Minds Thomas Polger advocates, and defends, the philosophical theory that mind equals brain—that sensations are brain processes—and in doing so brings the mind-brain identity theory back into the philosophical debate about consciousness. The version of identity theory that Polger advocates holds that conscious processes, events, states, or properties are type- identical to biological processes, events, states, or properties— a "tough-minded" account that maintains that minds are necessarily indentical to brains, a position held by few current identity theorists. Polger's (...) approach to what William James called the "great blooming buzzing confusion" of consciousness begins with the idea that we need to know more about brains in order to understand consciousness fully, but recognizes that biology alone cannot provide the entire explanation. Natural Minds takes on issues from philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and metaphysics, moving freely among them in its discussion. -/- Polger begins by answering two major objections to identity theory—Hilary Putnam's argument from multiple realizability (which discounts identity theory because creatures with brains unlike ours could also have mental states) and Saul Kripke's modal argument against mind-brain identity (based on the apparent contingency of the indentity statement). He then offers a detailed account of functionalism and functional realization, which offer the most serious obstacle to consideration of identity theory. Polger argues that identity theory can itself satisfy the kind of explanatory demands that are often believed to favor functionalism. (shrink)
This book examines how Western behavioral science--which has generally focused on negative aspects of human nature--holds up to cross-cultural scrutiny, in particular the Tibetan Buddhist celebration of the human potential for altruism, empathy, and compassion. Resulting from a meeting between the Dalai Lama, leading Western scholars, and a group of Tibetan monks, this volume includes excerpts from these extraordinary dialogues as well as engaging essays exploring points of difference and overlap between the two perspectives.
The concept of identity has been seen to lead to a paradox: we cannot truly and usefully say that a thing is the same either as itself or as something else. Williams here examines this paradox in philosophical logic, and its implications for the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and relativism about identity.
Hilary Putnam deals in this book with some of the most fundamental persistent problems in philosophy: the nature of truth, knowledge and rationality. His aim is to break down the fixed categories of thought which have always appeared to define and constrain the permissible solutions to these problems.
Time is the greatest modern scarcity. What used to be considered signs of success--being busy, having many responsibilities, being involved in many projects or activities--are today being felt as afflictions. The bestselling author of Money and the Meaning of Life, philosopher Jacob Needleman, shows how to take a bold and unconventional approach to time. The aim: to get more out of it by breaking free of our illusions about it. Needleman dispenses with tricks and techniques that only serve to make (...) our obsessiveness more "efficient." Instead he shows how we can understand what our days are for. It's this understanding that allows time to finally begin to "breathe" in our lives. People can learn to experience time more purposefully and meaningfully. We need not be at time's mercy. Needleman rejects time-management techniques in order to reveal ancient and little-known modern practices for exploring one's internal clock. He reveals how time is experienced by the soul. Drawing on the wisdom literature that chronicles the ways of Buddhists, poets, and philosophers, one learns: What it could mean to chart one's real past, unclouded by emotions How memory can lie to us Why we need not be obsessed with the future How to experience time so that it is not an enemy robbing us of the joy of life How to have more "nonpsychological time," or "time of the heart [that] does not move," such as moments of ecstasy or joy in which time is cut off from the physical world How to experience the gifts of time. (shrink)
Visionary quests to return to the Garden of Eden have shaped Western culture from Columbus' voyages to today's tropical island retreats. Few narratives are so powerful - and, as Carolyn Merchant shows, so misguided and destructive - as the dream of recapturing a lost paradise. A sweeping account of these quixotic endeavors by one of America's leading environmentalists, Reinventing Eden traces the idea of rebuilding the primeval garden from its origins to its latest incarnations in shopping malls, theme parks and (...) gated communities. With eloquence and insight, Merchant shows how the drive to conquer nature and to explore and settle the globe, springs from this utopian pastoral impulse throughout Western history. Time and again, human manipulation of the environment is our downfall: Eden is achieved by fencing off pristine beauty in national parks and wildlife preserves, while leaving the majority of the earth in ruins. Challenging both narratives, Merchant argues that the green veneer of city-park conservation has become a cover for the corruption of the earth and the neglect of its environment. Reinventing Eden is a bold new way to think about the earth that includes green political parties, sustainable development and a partnership between humans and earth that is nothing short of an ecological revolution. (shrink)
The debate over foundationalism, the viewpoint that there exists some secure foundation upon which to build a system of knowledge, appears to have been resolved and the antifoundationalists have at least temporarily prevailed. From a firmly historical approach, the book traces the foundationalism/antifoundationalism controversy in the work of many important figures Animaxander, Aristotle and Plato, Augustine, Descartes, Hegel and Nietzsche, Habermas and Chisholm, and others throughout the history of philosophy. The contributors, Joseph Margolis, Ronald Polansky, Gary Calore, Fred and Emily (...) Michael, William Wurzer, Charlene Haddock Siegfried, Sandra B. Rosenthal, Kathleen Wallace, and the editors present well the diversity, interest, and roots of antifoundationalism. Tom Rockmore is Professor and Chairman in the Department of Philosophy at Duquesne University. Beth J. Singer is Professor of Philosophy at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. (shrink)
In this work, Henry Vyverberg traces the evolution and consequences of a crucial idea in French Enlightenment thought--the idea of human nature. Human nature was commonly seen as a broadly universal, unchanging entity, though perhaps modifiable by geographical, social, and historical factors. Enlightenment empiricism suggested a degree of cultural diversity that has often been underestimated in studies of the age. Evidence here is drawn from Diderot's celebrated Encyclopedia and from a vast range of writing by such Enlightenment notables as Voltaire, (...) Rousseau, and d'Holbach. Vyverberg explains not only the age's undoubted fascination with uniformity in human nature, but also its acknowledgment of significant limitations on that uniformity. He shows that although the Enlightenment's historical sense was often blinkered by its notions of a uniform human nature, there were also cracks in this concept that developed during the Enlightenment itself. (shrink)
In this fully revised and updated version of the highly successful first edition, Michael J. Loux provides a fresh look at the central topics in metaphysics rendering this essential reading for anyone interested in metaphysics. Wherever possible, the author relates contemporary views to their classical sources in the history of philosophy.Some of the topics addressed include: the problem of universals; the nature of abstract entities; the problem of individuation; the nature of modality; identity through time; the nature of time and (...) a new chapter on the realism/antirealism debate. (shrink)
Introduction -- Part I: The meaning of life -- Richard Taylor, The meaning of life -- Thomas Nagel, The absurd -- Richard Hare, Nothing matters -- W.D. Joske, Philosophy and the meaning of life -- Robert Nozick, Philosophy and the meaning of life -- David Schmidtz, The meanings of life -- Part II: Creating people -- Derek Parfit, Whether causing someone to exist can benefit this person -- John Leslie, Why not let life ecome extinct? -- James Lenman, On becoming (...) extinct -- David Benatar, Why it is better never to come into existence -- Part III: Death -- Stephen E. Rosenbaum, How to be dead and not care : a defense of epicurus -- GeorgePpitcher, The misfortunes of the dead -- Steven Luper, Annihilation -- Fred Fldman, Some puzzles about the evil of death -- Frederick Kaufman, Pre-vital and post-mortem non-existence -- David B. Suits, Why death is not bad for the one who died -- Part IV: Suicide -- David Hume, Of suicide -- Immanuel Kant, Suicide and duty -- David Benatar, Suicide : a qualified defence -- Part V: Immortality -- James Lenman, Immortality : a letter -- Bernard Williams, The Makropulos case : reflections on the tedium of immortality -- John Martin Fischer, Why immortality is not so bad -- Christine Overall, from here to eternity : is it good to live forever? -- Part VI: Optimism and pessimism -- Margaret A. Boden, Optimism -- Michaelis Michael and Peter Caldwell, The consolations of optimism -- Bruce N. Waller, The sad truth : optimism, pessimism, and pragmatism -- Arthur Schopenhauer, On the suffering of the world. (shrink)
From political scandals at the highest levels to inflated repair bills at the local garage, we are seemingly surrounded with unethical behavior, so why should we behave any differently? Why should we go through life anchored down by rules no one else seems to follow? Writing with wit and elegance, Simon Blackburn tackles such questions in this lively look at ethics, highlighting the complications and doubts and troubling issues that spring from the very simple question of how we ought to (...) live. Blackburn dissects many common reasons why we are skeptical about ethics. Drawing on all-too-familiar examples from history, politics, religion and everyday personal experience, he shows how cynicism and self-consciousness can paralyze us into considering ethics a hopeless pursuit. But ethics is neither futile nor irrelevant, he assures us, but an intimate part of the nitty gritty issues of living--of birth, death, happiness, desire, freedom, pleasure, justice. Indeed, from moral dilemmas about abortion and euthanasia, to our obsession with personal rights, to our longing for a sense of meaning in life, our everyday struggles are rife with ethical issues, whether we notice it or not. Blackburn distills the arguments of Hume, Kant and Aristotle down to their essences, to underscore the timeless relevance of our voice of conscience, the pitfalls of complacency, and our concerns about truth, knowledge and human progress. Blackburn's rare combination of depth, rigor and sparkling prose, and his distinguished ranking among contemporary philosophers, mark Being Good as an important statement on our current disenchantment with ethics. It challenges us to take a more thoughtful reading of our ethical climate and to ponder more carefully our own standards of behavior. (shrink)
This ambitious book explores the relationship between time and history and shows how an appreciation of long-term time helps to make sense of the past. The book is devoted to a wide-ranging analysis of the way different societies have conceived and interpreted time, and it develops a theory of the threefold roles of continuity, gradual change, and revolution which together form a "braided" history. Linking the interpretative chapters are intriguing brief expositions on time travel, time cycles, time lines, and time (...) pieces, showing the different ways in which human history has been located in time. In its global approach the book is part of the new shift toward “big history,” in which traditional period divisions are challenged in favor of looking at the entire past of the world from start to end. The approach is thematic. The result is a view of world history in which outcomes are shown to be explicable, once they happen, but not necessarily predictable before they do. This book will inform the work of historians of all periods and at all levels, and contributes to the current reconsideration of traditional period divisions (such as Modernity and Postmodernity), which the author finds outmoded. (shrink)
Professor Richard Hanley faced the dilemma plaguing so many philosophy professors today—how to entice students into the classroom. Based upon his own successful course, Is Data Human presents a thoroughly unique and enjoyable way of introducing students to the basic concepts of philosophy as seen through the lens of Star Trek. From the nature of a person, of minds, and of consciousness, to ethics and morality, to the nature and extent of knowledge and free will, Hanley brings a fresh perspective (...) to the contemporary debates concerning humankind’s place in the world.Dare to boldly go where no philosophy professor has gone before—a classroom packed with eager and enthusiastic students. (shrink)
Welcome to the world of cutting-edge math, physics, and neuroscience, where the search for the ultimate vacuum, the point of nothingness, ground zero of theory, has rendered the universe deep, rich, and juicy. "Modern physics has animated the void," says K. C. Cole in her entrancing journey into the heart of Nothing. Every time scientists and mathematicians think they have reached the ultimate void, new stuff appears: a black hole, an undulating string, an additional dimension of space or time, repulsive (...) anti-gravity, universes that breed like bunnies. Cole's exploration at the edge of everything is as animated and exciting as the void itself. Take Cole's hand on this adventure into the unknown, and you'll come back informed, amused, and excited. (shrink)
Barry Taylor's book mounts a major new argument against one of the fundamental tenets of much contemporary philosophy, the idea that we can make sense of reality as existing objectively, independently of our capacities to come to know it. He concludes that there is no defensible notion of truth which preserves the theses of traditional realism, nor any extant position sufficiently true to the ideals of that doctrine to inherit its title. In presenting his case Taylor engages with many key (...) works of contemporary metaphysics, semantics, and philosophical logic, so his book will be of interest to a broad spectrum of scholars and students. (shrink)
This book presents a study of the nature and conditions of historical knowledge, conducted through a study of the relevant theories of Hume, Hegel and Vico. It is usually thought that in order to establish historical facts, we have to have a theory of human nature to support our arguments. Hume, Hegel and Vico all subscribed to this view, and are therefore discussed in detail. Professor Pompa goes on to argue that there is in fact no way of discovering anything (...) about human nature except through historical investigation. It is necessary therefore to find a different way of thinking about how we discover historical facts. This is done in the last chapter where, in opposition to almost all present views, it is argued that we must have a framework of inherited knowledge before we can believe in anything which results from historical enquiry. (shrink)
The law-governed world-picture -- A remarkable idea about the way the universe is cosmos and compulsion -- The laws as the cosmic order : the best-system approach -- The three ways : no-laws, non-governing-laws, governing-laws -- Work that laws do in science -- An important difference between the laws of nature and the cosmic order -- The picture in four theses -- The strategy of this book -- The meta-theoretic conception of laws -- The measurability approach to laws -- What (...) comes where -- In defense of some received views -- Some assumptions that will be in play -- The laws are propositions -- The laws are true -- The logically contingent consequences of the laws are laws themselves -- At least some laws are metaphysically contingent -- The meta-theoretic conception of laws -- Laws of nature, laws of science, laws of theories -- The first-order conception versus the meta-theoretic conception -- What is a law of nature? -- Some examples of meta-theoretic accounts -- The virtues of the meta-theoretic conception -- Weighing the virtues and shortcomings of the meta-theoretic conception -- An epistemological argument for the meta-theoretic conception of laws -- The discoverability thesis, the governing thesis, and the first-order conception -- The main argument -- The objection from bad company -- The objection from inference to the best explanation -- The objection from bayesianism -- The objection from contextualist epistemology -- The objection from the threat of inductive skepticism -- Laws, governing, and counterfactuals -- Where we are now -- What would things have to be like in order for the laws of nature to govern the universe? -- Lawhood, inevitability, counterfactuals -- What is it for a proposition to be inevitably true? -- What is it for a whole class of propositions to be inevitably true? -- What is it for lawhood to confer inevitability? -- NP and supporting counterfactuals -- The worry about context-variability -- A solution and a look ahead -- When would the laws have been different? -- Where we are now -- The God cases -- Other counterexamples to NP -- A moral-theoretic counterexample to NP -- Scientific contexts and non-scientific contexts -- Scientific God cases? -- Lewisian non-backtracking counterexamples -- Where things stand now -- How could science show that the laws govern? -- Why the law-governed world-picture must include the science-says-so thesis -- What is extra-scientific? -- How can the science-says-so thesis be true? -- NP as a consequence of the presuppositions in any scientific context -- Np as true in all possible scientific contexts -- But how could it be so? -- Attack of the actual-factualists -- Measurement and counterfactuals -- Where we are now -- Measurements, reliability, counterfactuals -- A general principle that captures the relation between measurement and counterfactuals -- What we can learn about lawhood from what we have learned about the counterfactual commitments of science -- A first-order account of laws or a meta-theoretic account of laws? -- What methods are presupposed to be legitimate measurement procedures? -- Why we must adopt a meta-theoretic account of laws -- What lawhood is -- Where we are now -- The measurability account of laws -- Brief review of the case for the mal -- A note about hedged laws -- How plausible is the mal? -- What if we don't care about the law-governed world-picture? -- Newton's God and Laplace's demon -- Beyond humean and non-humean -- Two views of laws -- Humean supervenience and the meta-theoretic conception -- Alleged counterexamples to humean supervenience -- Governing and non-trivial necessity -- How the mal lets us have it all -- Humeanism? non-humeanism? -- What is the significance of the idea of the law-governed universe? -- Where in the world are the laws of nature? -- Appendix: The mal in action : a few examples -- Of scientific theories and their laws -- Newton's theory as a paradigm example -- Classical special-force laws -- Geometrical optics and one of its laws -- Local deterministic field theories. (shrink)
This book provides a radical alternative to naturalistic theories of content, and offers a new conception of the place of mind in the world. Confronting the scientific conception of the nature of reality that has dominated the Anglo-American philosophical tradition, Morris presents a detailed analysis of content and propositional attitudes based on the idea that truth is a value. He rejects the causal theory of the explanation of behavior and replaces it with an alternative that depends upon a rich conception (...) of the behavior we explain with references to state of mind. His lucid and detailed exposition of this controversial arguments poses an emphatic challenge to the naturalistic orthodoxy in areas as diverse as metaphysics, ethics, and cognitive science. (shrink)
Ehring shows the inadequacy of received theories of causation, and, introducing conceptual devices of his own, provides a wholly new account of causation as the persistence over time of individual properties, or "tropes.".
In this collection of essays written over thirty years, Miri, drawing on both Western and Indian traditions, provides fresh insight into some fundamental philosophical concerns--morality, modernity, individual and group identity, rationality, and violence in politics.
This book has two main and connected themes - the conception and articulation of time in the Greek world and the creation of history, especially in the context of the Greek city. Both how time is expressed and how the past is presented have often been seen as reflections of society. By looking at the construction of the past through the medium of local historiography, where we can view these issues in the relatively restricted world of individual city-states, we can (...) gain a clearer insight into how different versions of the past and different constructions of time were offered to the community for approval. In this way, the citizens were able to negotiate time past and indeed their own history, and thereby to express their values and aspirations. (shrink)
The Metaphysics of Knowledge presents the thesis that knowledge is an absolutely fundamental relation, with an indispensable role to play in metaphysics, philosophical logic, and philosophy of mind and language. Knowledge has been generally assumed to be a propositional attitude like belief. But Keith Hossack argues that knowledge is not a relation to a content; rather, it a relation to a fact. This point of view allows us to explain many of the concepts of philosophical logic in terms of knowledge. (...) Hossack provides a theory of facts as structured combinations of particulars and universals, and presents a theory of content as the property of a mental act that determines its value for getting knowledge. He also defends a theory of representation in which the conceptual structure of a content is taken to picture the fact it represents. This permits definitions to be given of reference, truth, and necessity in terms of knowledge. Turning to the metaphysics of mind and language, Hossack argues that a conscious state is one that is identical with knowledge of its own occurrence. This allows us to characterize subjectivity, and, by illuminating the "I"-concept, allows us to gain a better understanding of the concept of a person. Language is then explained in terms of knowledge, as a device used by a community of persons for exchanging knowledge by testimony. The Metaphysics of Knowledge concludes that knowledge is too fundamental to be constituted by something else, such as one's functional or physical state; other things may cause knowledge, but do not constitute it. (shrink)