The concept of hierarchical organization is commonplace in science. Subatomic particles compose atoms, which compose molecules; cells compose tissues, which compose organs, which compose organisms; etc. Hierarchical organization is particularly prominent in ecology, a field of research explicitly arranged around levels of ecological organization. The concept of levels of organization is also central to a variety of debates in philosophy of science. Yet many difficulties plague the concept of discrete hierarchical levels. In this paper, we show how these difficulties undermine (...) various implications ascribed to hierarchical organization, and we suggest the concept of scale as a promising alternative to levels. Investigating causal processes at different scales offers a way to retain a notion of quasi-levels that avoids the difficulties inherent in the classic concept of hierarchical levels of organization. Throughout, our focus is on ecology, but the results generalize to other invocations of hierarchy in science and philosophy of science. (shrink)
A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia is a playful and emphatically practical elaboration of the major collaborative work of the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. When read along with its rigorous textual notes, the book also becomes the richest scholarly treatment of Deleuze's entire philosophical oeuvre available in any language. Finally, the dozens of explicit examples that Brian Massumi furnishes from contemporary artistic, scientific, and popular urban culture make the book an important, perhaps even central text (...) within current debates on postmodern culture and politics.Capitalism and Schizophrenia is the general title for two books published a decade apart. The first, Anti-Oedipus, was a reaction to the events of May/June 1968; it is a critique of "state-happy" Marxism and "school-building" strains of psychoanalysis. The second, A Thousand Plateaus, is an attempt at a positive statement of the sort of nomad philosophy Deleuze and Guattari propose as an alternative to state philosophy.Brian Massumi is Professor of Comparative Literature at McGill University. (shrink)
Listen to the interview with Brian Kemple... and learn to appreciate the diachronic trajectory of semiotics. *** Live interview with Brian Kemple, Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute, to discuss the legacy and influence of John Deely, the thinker most responsible for developing semiotics into the 21st century. This interview, conducted by William Passarini and Tim Troutman, is part of the preliminary activities of the 2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics: a Tribute to John Deely on the Fifth (...) Anniversary of His Passing, cooperatively organized by the Institute for Philosophical Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, the Lyceum Institute, the Deely Project, Saint Vincent College, the Iranian Society for Phenomenology at the Iranian Political Science Association, the International Association for Semiotics of Space and Time, the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Semiotic Society of America, the American Maritain Association, the International Association for Semiotic Studies, the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies, the International Center for Semiotics and Intercultural Dialogue, Moscow State Academic University for the Humanities and the Mansarda Acesa with the support of the FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of the Government of Portugal under the UID/FIL/00010/2020 project. Brian Kemple holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of St. Thomas, in Houston TX, where he wrote his dissertation under the inimitable John Deely. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute. Philosophical interests and areas of study include: Thomas Aquinas, John Poinsot, Charles Peirce, Martin Heidegger, the history and importance of semiotics, scholasticism, phenomenology; as well as ancillary interests in the liberal arts, technology, and education as a moral habit. He has published two scholarly books— 'Ens Primum Cognitum in Thomas Aquinas and the Tradition' and 'The Intersections of Semiotics and Phenomenology: Peirce and Heidegger in Dialogue', as well as a number of scholarly articles, popular articles, and his own 'Introduction to Philosophical Principles: Logic, Physics, and the Human Person' and the forthcoming 'Linguistic Signification: A Classical Course in Grammar and Composition'. In addition to being the Executive Director of the Lyceum Institute, he is the Executive Editor of 'Reality: a Journal for Philosophical Discourse'. *** Technical support was assured by Robert Junqueira and the cover image for the video was designed by Zahra Soltani. (shrink)
Espen Hammer’s exceptionally fine book explores modern temporality, its problems and prospects. Hammer claims that how people experience time is a cultural/historical phenomenon, and that there is a peculiarly modern way of experiencing time as a series of present moments each indefinitely leading to the next in an ordered way. Time as measured by the clock is the paradigmatic instance of this sense of time. In this perspective time is quantifiable and forward-looking, and the present is dominated by the future. (...) Hammer argues that this manner of experiencing time provides a way of living that brings with it not only the basis for great successes in technology, but also great costs—specifically, what he calls the problems of transience and of meaning. Hammer goes about his task by considering the ways some of the great modern philosophers have characterized present-day temporality and have responded to the problems he has identified. Specifically, he considers what Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Habermas, Bloch, and Adorno provide in response to our peculiarly modern predicaments. The book is remarkable for its clarity and perceptiveness, but in the process in crucial places it simplifies the matters at hand or fails to push its insights as far as it ought, and in the end promises more than it can deliver. In this it betrays a rationalist confidence in the power of reason that founders on what in many ways remains a mystery. (shrink)
In ‘The ethics of belief and Christian faith as commitment to assumptions’, Rik Peels attacks the views that I advanced in ‘Christianity and the ethics of belief’. Here, I rebut his criticisms of the claim that it is wrong to believe without sufficient evidence, of the contention that Christians are committed to that claim, and of the notion of that faith is not belief but commitment to assumptions in the hope of salvation. My original conclusions still stand.
A healthy, growing field such as the philosophy of biology deserves to have a variety of different points of entry for students, instructors, and non-specialist academics who want to learn about the field. Among the many new books that introduce this dynamic area of research, Garvey's Philosophy of Biology may provide the most compact and accessible survey of the field. After explaining Darwin's theory of evolution, he offers four chapters about contemporary issues in evolutionary theory. The middle chapters concern key (...) concepts in biology: innateness, function, and species. The final four chapters examine how evolutionary biology might influence our perspectives on epistemology, ethics, religion, and human nature.Acquaintances occasionally ask me to recommend a book that introduces the field in layman's terms. Until recently, I didn't have a good answer. The standard textbooks by Sober and Sterelny & Griffiths are good for classroom use but are too demanding for casual reading. Thus, I was intrigued when the jacket blurb described Garvey's book as ‘suitable …. (shrink)
In the preface to his book God the Problem , Gordon Kaufman writes ‘Although the notion of God as agent seems presupposed by most contemporary theologians … Austin Farrer has been almost alone in trying to specify carefully and consistently just what this might be understood to mean.’.
William Hasker replies to my arguments against Social Trinitarianism, offers some criticism of my own view, and begins a sketch of another account of the Trinity. I reply with some defence of my own theory and some questions about his.
I am grateful to Alan Madry and Joel Richeimer for their intelligent and stimulating critique of my article “Heidegger and the Theory of Adjudication.” It is the most interesting commentary I have seen on the paper, and I have learned much from it. It may facilitate discussion, and advance debate, to state with some clarity where exactly we agree and disagree. I leave to the footnotes discussion of certain minor points where Madry and Richeimer are guilty of some critical overreaching.
In teaching jurisprudence, I typically distinguish between two different families of theories of adjudication—theories of how judges do or should decide cases. “Formalist” theories claim that the law is “rationally” determinate, that is, the class of legitimate legal reasons available for a judge to offer in support of his or her decision justifies one and only one outcome either in all cases or in some significant and contested range of cases ; and adjudication is thus “autonomous” from other kinds of (...) reasoning, that is, the judge can reach the required decision without recourse to nonlegal normative considerations of morality or political philosophy. I also note that “formalism” is sometimes associated with the idea that judicial decision-making involves nothing more than mechanical deduction on the model of the syllogism—Beccaria, for example, expresses such a view. I call the latter “Vulgar Formalism” to emphasize that it is not a view to which anyone today cares to subscribe. (shrink)
As the author of Justice as Impartiality, I am not ashamed to admit that I was delighted by the liveliness of the discussion generated by it at the meeting on which this symposium is based. I am likewise grateful to the six authors for finding the book worthy of the careful attention that they have bestowed on it. Between them, the symposiasts take up many more points than I can cover in this response. I shall therefore focus on some themes (...) that cluster round the contractual device that I associate with the notion of justice as impartiality. Is it necessary? If it is not necessary is it nevertheless useful? Within an overall contractual framework is the form of contract that I propose uniquely justifiable? And does the form of contract that I defend generate the implications that I claim for it? (shrink)
Although the body has been the focus of much contemporary cultural theory, the models that are typically applied neglect the most salient characteristics of embodied existence—movement, affect, and sensation—in favor of concepts derived from linguistic theory. In _Parables for the Virtual_ Brian Massumi views the body and media such as television, film, and the Internet, as cultural formations that operate on multiple registers of sensation beyond the reach of the reading techniques founded on the standard rhetorical and semiotic models. (...) Renewing and assessing William James’s radical empiricism and Henri Bergson’s philosophy of perception through the filter of the post-war French philosophy of Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault, Massumi links a cultural logic of variation to questions of movement, affect, and sensation. If such concepts are as fundamental as signs and significations, he argues, then a new set of theoretical issues appear, and with them potential new paths for the wedding of scientific and cultural theory. Replacing the traditional opposition of literal and figural with new distinctions between stasis and motion and between actual and virtual, _Parables for the Virtual _tackles related theoretical issues by applying them to cultural mediums as diverse as architecture, body art, the digital art of Stelarc, and Ronald Reagan’s acting career. The result is an intriguing combination of cultural theory, science, and philosophy that asserts itself in a crystalline and multi-faceted argument. _Parables for the Virtual_ will interest students and scholars of continental and Anglo-American philosophy, cultural studies, cognitive science, electronic art, digital culture, and chaos theory, as well as those concerned with the “science wars” and the relation between the humanities and the sciences in general. (shrink)
Human beings are peculiar. In laboratory experiments, they often cooperate in one-shot prisoners’ dilemmas, they frequently offer 1/2 and reject low offers in the ultimatum game, and they often bid 1/2 in the game of divide-the-cake All these behaviors are puzzling from the point of view of game theory. The first two are irrational, if utility is measured in a certain way.1 The last isn’t positively irrational, but it is no more rational than other possible actions, since there are infinitely (...) many other Nash equilibria besides the one in which both players bid 1/2. At the same time, these behaviors seem to indicate that people are sometimes inclined to be cooperative, fair, and just. In his stimulating new book, Brian Skyrms sets himself the task of showing why these inclinations evolved, or how they might have evolved, under the pressure of natural selection. The goal is not to justify our ethical intuitions, but to explain why we have them.2.. (shrink)