It is controversial whether masses (what mass nouns refer to) exist. But on the assumption that they do, here are two uncontroversial facts about them: first, they satisfy a fusion principle which takes any set of masses of kind K and yields a mass fusion of kind K; secondly, a mass must have all and only the same parts at every time at which it exists. These two theses are usually built into the concept 'mass'. I argue that the latter (...) follows from the former. This shows that the concept 'mass' is unified, not gerrymandered. Moreover, since my arguments show that any entity which follows a certain fusion principle is also mereologically constant, and since these two properties are sufficient for being a mass, my arguments make it easier to argue that there are masses. (shrink)
The Charlie Hebdo massacre in January 2015 and the subsequent attacks of November 13 cast a garish light onto a conundrum at the center of how liberal democracies understand themselves. The Syrian emigrant crisis has added further color. How can a tolerant, liberal political culture tolerate the presence of intolerant, illiberal, sub-cultures while remaining true to its principles of tolerance? The problem falls within the intersection of two developments in the thinking of John Rawls, the great American political philosopher (...) who died in 2002. The later Rawls struggled with the problem of how society might stably survive the clash of plural sub-cultures that a liberal society - unless it is oppressively coercive - must itself foster and allow to flourish. And he separately struggled with the problem of how liberal peoples might peacefully share the planet with illiberal, but "decent" peoples elsewhere. This article shows that Rawls's two solutions do not easily mix. (shrink)
In this thesis, I use a close reading of the silent films of Charlie Chaplin to examine a question of listening posed by Jean-Luc Nancy, “Is listening something of which philosophy is capable” (Nancy 2007:1)? Drawing on the work of Nancy, Jacques Derrida and Gayatri Spivak, I consider a claim that philosophy has failed to address the topic of listening because a logocentric tradition claims speech as primary. In response to Derrida’s deconstruction of logocentrism, Nancy complicates the problem of (...) listening by distinguishing between l’écoute and l’entente. L’écoute is an attending to and answering the demand of the other and l’entente is an understanding directed inward toward a subject. Nancy could deconstruct an undervalued position of l’écoute, making listening essential to speech. I argue, Nancy rather asks what kind of listening philosophy is capable of. To examine this question, I focus on the peculiarly dialogical figure derived from Chaplin that communicates meaning without using speech. This discussion illustrates how Chaplin, in the role of a silent figure, listens to himself (il s’écoute) as other. Chaplin’s listening is Nancean resonance, a movement in which a subject refers back to itself as another subject, in constant motion of spatial and temporal non-presence. For Nancy, listening is a self’s relationship to itself, but without immediate self-presence. Moving in resonance, Chaplin makes the subject as other as he refers back to himself as other. I argue that Chaplin, through silent dialogue with himself by way of the other, makes his listening listened to. Chaplin refused to make his character speak because he believed speech would change the way in which his work would be listened to. In this way, Chaplin makes people laugh by making himself understood (se fait entendre) as he makes himself listened to (se fait écouter). In answer to Nancy’s question, I conclude philosophy is capable of meeting the demand of listening as both l’entente and l’écoute when it listens as Chaplin listens. (shrink)
This discussion follows a series of high profile cases involving a terminally ill child, Charlie Gard. These cases are significant as they trace the complexities that arise when parents and medical teams do not agree as well as addressing the question of whether there is a right to access experimental treatment.
The parents of Charlie Gard, who was born August 4, 2016, with an exceedingly rare and incurable disease called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, fought a prolonged and heated legal battle to allow him access to experimental treatment that they hoped would prolong his life and to prevent his doctors from withdrawing life-sustaining care. Charlie's clinicians at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London believed that the brain damage Charlie had suffered as a result of frequent epileptic seizures, (...) along with many other severe disabilities, would render any innovative therapy futile, and they disagreed with his parents’ wishes to use an experimental therapy. They felt it in Charlie's best interest that he be allowed to die. A battle ensued among Charlie's parents, his doctors, and a guardian who had been appointed to represent him that drew the attention of politicians and prominent persons from all over the world. The case was much in the news over the past year, but it has also been frequently misunderstood. (shrink)
The televised Charlie Brown Christmas tale and its bawdy Peanuts characters taught me important lessons while growing up as the awkwardly drawn, “blockhead” sibling. This essay explores the down and dirty deities that reside in each of us, including Brown and Pig Pen, at once seen as contemporary symbols of the globally inter challenged-being and surprising instruments of sacred expression. Ruminations on the Bhagavad Gita, Immanuel Kant, Jessye Norman, bell hooks, and Thich Nhat Hahn encourage us to reimagine contexts (...) for power and authority, racial mistrust and injustice, and restoring our slumping spirits. (shrink)
Starting from support for James's critique of Clifford's dictum, the article argues for holding beliefs, whether secular or religious, firmly but provisionally, remaining open to fresh experience. This consideration prompts reflection on the debate following the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Alternative beliefs were opposing each other with seemingly equal certainty. The justification for insistence on the right to free speech itself requires scrutiny. The article finishes by noting the baleful effects of the intellectual apartheid which has tended to be (...) practised in the West which presumes that religion and reason have nothing to do with each other. (shrink)
"Nous vomissons sur tous ces gens qui, subitement, disent être nos amis," ["We vomit on all those people who suddenly declare themselves our friends"],1 Willem, one of the surviving cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo told the press shortly after the 2015 attack on the magazine's offices that left twelve dead, including six of its star cartoonists. Willem was speaking at the peak of demonstrations that were taking place across France in support of the paper, which became known as Republican marches. (...) Thrust suddenly into international prominence, CH editors made a show of their irreverence towards their new supporters, mocking the way their cause was being taken up by their erstwhile political... (shrink)
Using the work of Emmanuel Levinas, this article sheds light on Charlie Chaplin's The Circus, a piece that so far eluded the critics, despite its immense popularity with theater viewers. I show that it is not Chaplin's lack of inventiveness that makes the Tramp risk his life on the tightrope 'for nothing'. It is, on the contrary, Chaplin's intuitive sense that makes him believe, anticipating Levinas, that it is human and simple for a person to help another for no (...) benefit. It is this point that cinema-goers understood more easily than we, scholars, may think. Starting with The Circus I demonstrate that this film, which critics have underestimated due to its 'pointless' ending, becomes meaningful once interpreted as promoting radical for-the-other ethics. My argument about The Circus is supported by close reading as well as Chaplin's own remarks and his later talkie Limelight in which similar ideas are expressed more openly through language and through the ending scene, with the protagonist dying on stage, to the sounds of roaring laughter of the audience. (shrink)
Cohn's (2013) theory of “Visual Narrative Grammar” argues that sequential images take on categorical roles in a narrative structure, which organizes them into hierarchic constituents analogous to the organization of syntactic categories in sentences. This theory proposes that narrative categories, like syntactic categories, can be identified through diagnostic tests that reveal tendencies for their distribution throughout a sequence. This paper describes four experiments testing these diagnostics to provide support for the validity of these narrative categories. In Experiment 1, participants reconstructed (...) unordered panels of a comic strip into an order that makes sense. Experiment 2 measured viewing times to panels in sequences where the order of panels was reversed. In Experiment 3, participants again reconstructed strips but also deleted a panel from the sequence. Finally, in Experiment 4 participants identified where a panel had been deleted from a comic strip and rated that strip's coherence. Overall, categories had consistent distributional tendencies within experiments and complementary tendencies across experiments. These results point toward an interaction between categorical roles and a global narrative structure. (shrink)
In his new paper, “Eligibility and Inscrutability,” J. R. G. Williams presents a surprising new challenge to David Lewis’ theory of interpretation. Although Williams frames this challenge primarily as a response to Lewis’ criticisms of Putnam’s model-theoretic argument, the challenge itself goes to the heart of Lewis’ own account of interpretation. Further, and leaving Lewis’ project aside for a moment, Williams’ argument highlights some important—and some fairly general—points concerning the relationship between model theory and semantic determinacy.
This paper begins with an examination of Amelie Rorty’s claim that although “emotions cannot be rational in the narrow sense of being logically derived from accepted premises, they can be deemed rational . . . as ‘appropriately formed to serve our thriving.’” This is the background against which (i) I develop a notion of ‘emotional holism’ based on the aetiology of emotion in infantile phantasy; and (ii) introduce a dark corollary about the likelihood that our emotions do not, on the (...) whole, match the myths we use to describe them to ourselves. The paper has five sections: (1) The Rationality of Kinds of Emotion and the Argument Against the Rationality of Particular Emotions; (2) Alternative Views of the Rationality of Emotions; (3) Is EmotionaI Behavior RationaI?; (4) Do Particular Emotions Generally Serve Our Thriving?; and (5) Are There Emotions Not Worth Having?: EmotionaI Holism and Manipulating One’s Emotional Repertoire. (shrink)
This paper examines how, building on earlier filmic representations such as Ousmane Sembene’s La Noire de… and Abderrahmane Sissako’s Bamako, Khady Sylla’s Le Monologue de la muette traces a continuum of women’s exploitation, from slavery to colonization to globalization.
This paper begins with an examination of Amelie Rorty’s claim that although “emotions cannot be rational in the narrow sense of being logically derived from accepted premises, they can be deemed rational... as ‘appropriately formed to serve our thriving.’” This is the background against which I develop a notion of ‘emotional holism’ based on the aetiology of emotion in infantile phantasy; and introduce a dark corollary about the likelihood that our emotions do not, on the whole, match the myths we (...) use to describe them to ourselves. The paper has five sections: The Rationality of Kinds of Emotion and the Argument Against the Rationality of Particular Emotions; Alternative Views of the Rationality of Emotions; Is EmotionaI Behavior RationaI?; Do Particular Emotions Generally Serve Our Thriving?; and Are There Emotions Not Worth Having?: EmotionaI Holism and Manipulating One’s Emotional Repertoire. (shrink)
"In 'I Don't Know, Just Wait: Remembering Remarriage in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', William Day shows how Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind should be considered part of the film genre known as remarriage comedy; but he also shows how Kaufman contributes something new to the genre. Day addresses, in particular, how the conversation that is the condition for reunion involves discovering 'what it means to have memories together as a way of learning how to be together'. (...) One of the most innovative aspects of Kaufman's filmic representation of such a conversation is its effect on the audience: how the narrative structure 'replicates for the viewer the felt contingency of memory that we attribute' to the characters we see onscreen - a couple contending with the interrelated experiences of remarriage and remembering." --David LaRocca, Introduction to The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman, 12. (shrink)
This book explores how the practice of art, in particular of avant-garde art, keeps our relation to time, history and even our own humanity open. Examining key moments in the history of both technology and art from the beginnings of industrialisation to today, Charlie Gere explores both the making and purpose of art and how much further it can travel from the human body.
In Emotions, Values & Agency, Christine Tappolet develops a sophisticated, perceptual theory of emotions and their role in wide range of issues in value theory and epistemology. In this paper, we raise three worries about Tappolet's proposal.
A familiar feature of moral life is the distinctive anxiety that we feel in the face of a moral dilemma or moral conflict. Situations like these require us to take stands on controversial issues. But because we are unsure that we will make the correct decision, anxiety ensues. Despite the pervasiveness of this phenomenon, surprisingly little work has been done either to characterize this “ moral anxiety” or to explain the role that it plays in our moral lives. This paper (...) aims to address this deficiency by developing an empirically informed account of what moral anxiety is and what it does. (shrink)
Theories of children's developing understanding of mind tend to emphasize either individualistic processes of theory formation, maturation, or introspection, or the process of enculturation. However, such theories must be able to account for the accumulating evidence of the role of social interaction in the development of social understanding. We propose an alternative account, according to which the development of children's social understanding occurs within triadic interaction involving the child's experience of the world as well as communicative interaction with others about (...) their experience and beliefs (Chapman 1991; 1999). It is through such triadic interaction that children gradually construct knowledge of the world as well as knowledge of other people. We contend that the extent and nature of the social interaction children experience will influence the development of children's social understanding. Increased opportunity to engage in cooperative social interaction and exposure to talk about mental states should facilitate the development of social understanding. We review evidence suggesting that children's understanding of mind develops gradually in the context of social interaction. Therefore, we need a theory of development in this area that accords a fundamental role to social interaction, yet does not assume that children simply adopt socially available knowledge but rather that children construct an understanding of mind within social interaction. Key Words: language; Piaget; social interaction; theories of mind; Vygotsky; Wittgenstein. (shrink)
Emotion plays an important role in securing social stability. But while emotions like fear, anger, and guilt have received much attention in this context, little work has been done to understand the role that anxiety plays. That’s unfortunate. I argue that a particular form of anxiety—what I call ‘practical anxiety’—plays an important, but as of yet unrecognized, role in norm-based social regulation. More specifically, it provides a valuable form of metacognition, one that contributes to social stability by helping individuals negotiate (...) the challenges that come from having to act in the face of unclear norms. (shrink)