While recognising the power and fundamental importance of Wickham’s Framing the Early Middle Ages, this essay explores some of the problems associated with the relative silence within the text about the issue of the forces of production and their development. By contrast, Harman suggests that Wickham’s most important contribution to our understanding of the period, his concept of a peasant-mode of production, is best understood against the backdrop of prior developments of the forces of production. Moreover, the peasant-mode’s temporality is (...) itself best understood against the background of further developments of the forces of production. (shrink)
Sciabarra replies to the seven respondents to his Fall 2002 essay on Rand, Rush, and progressive rock music. He defends the view that Rand's dialectical orientation underlies a fundamentally radical perspective. Rand shared with the counterculture—especially its libertarian progressive rock representatives—a repudiation of authoritarianism, while embracing the "unknown ideal" of capitalism. Her ability to trace the interrelationships among personal, cultural, and structural factors in social analysis and her repudiation of false alternatives is at the heart of that ideal vision, which (...) transcends left and right. (shrink)
Der folgende Beitrag setzt sich mit den Begriffen „Normalität“ und „psychische Erkrankung“ auseinander. Es zeigt sich, dass beide zu einem erheblichen Maße unterbestimmt sind und beiden nicht nur ein deskriptiver, sondern ein nicht unerheblicher normativer Gehalt innewohnt, der sich der Reflexion nicht selten entzieht. Problematisch ist die mitunter synonyme Verwendung von „Normalität“ und „psychische Gesundheit“ bzw. „Anormalität“ und „psychische Krankheit“, da damit nicht nur inhaltlich unterschiedlich gelagerte Begrifflichkeiten, sondern auch diskrepante Begriffslogiken vermischt werden. Während in Bezug auf ausgeprägte psychische Störungen (...) diese Tatsache weniger von Belang zu sein scheint, da hier die Zuschreibung einer psychischen Erkrankung allgemein zustimmungsfähig ist, wird die Begriffsvermischung im Graubereich zwischen psychischer Krankheit und Gesundheit deutlich relevanter. Hier scheint man sich unausgesprochen an Kriterien der Normalität zu orientieren, womit ein ausgeprägt normatives Moment zum Tragen kommt. Dieser normative Sog hin zur statistischen Mitte kann auch als eine Form von Optimierung verstanden werden, die psychisches Leiden möglichst reduzieren möchte. Auch wenn dies auf den ersten Blick wünschenswert sein könnte, übersieht man dabei doch die nicht immer nur negativ zu interpretierende Bedeutung, die psychisches Leid für menschliches Leben haben kann. (shrink)
In this book, Chris W. Surprenant puts forward an original position concerning Kant’s practical philosophy and the intersection between his moral and political philosophy. Although Kant provides a detailed account of the nature of morality, the nature of human virtue, and how right manifests itself in civil society, he does not explain fully how individuals are able to become virtuous. This book aims to resolve this problem by showing how an individual is able to cultivate virtue, the aim of (...) Kant’s practical philosophy. Through an examination of Kant’s accounts of autonomy, the state, and religion, and their effects on the cultivation of virtue, Surprenant develops a Kantian framework for moral education, and ultimately raises the question of whether or not Kantian virtue is possible in practice. (shrink)
In his wide-ranging study of architecture and cultural evolution, Chris Abel argues that, despite progress in sustainable development and design, resistance to changing personal and social identities shaped by a technology-based and energy-hungry culture is impeding efforts to avert drastic climate change. The book traces the roots of that culture to the coevolution of Homo sapiens and technology, from the first use of tools as artificial extensions of the human body to the motorized cities spreading around the world, whose (...) uncontrolled effects are fast changing the planet itself. Advancing a new concept of the meme, called the 'technical meme', as the primary agent of cognitive extension and technical embodiment, Abel proposes a theory of the 'extended self' as a complex and diffuse outcome of that coevolution. Challenging conventional ideas of the self as a separate and autonomous being, the extended self, he explains, encompasses material and spatial as well as psychological and social elements, including the built environment and artifacts, and now reaches out into the virtual world of cyberspace. Drawing upon research into extended cognition and embodied minds from philosophy, psychology and the neurosciences, the book presents a new approach to environmental and cultural studies. N.B. This book was the winner of the International Committee of Architectural Critics 2017 Bruno Zevi Book Award by unanimous decision of the international jury. (shrink)
Thomas Eisele explores the premise that the Socratic method of inquiry need not teach only negative lessons. Instead, Eisele contends, the Socratic method is cyclical: we start negatively by recognizing our illusions, but end positively through a process of recollection performed in response to our disillusionment, which ultimately leads to renewal. Thus, a positive lesson about our resources as philosophical investigators, as students and teachers, becomes available to participants in Socrates' robust conversational inquiry. __Bitter Knowledge __includes Eisele's (...) detailed readings of Socrates' teaching techniques in three fundamental Platonic dialogues, _Protagoras, Meno_, and _Theaetetus_, as well as his engagement with contemporary authorities such as Gregory Vlastos, Martha Nussbaum, and Stanley Cavell. Written in a highly engaging and accessible style, this book will appeal to students and scholars in philosophy, classics, law, rhetoric, and education. "This book is original, fresh, and of very high quality, opening up these Platonic texts, central to Western culture, in new ways. In addition, it establishes a method that others can use and apply to the other dialogues. It would be a wonderful text to assign in courses in philosophy, basic humanities, education, and law." --_James Boyd White, University of Michigan_ "Through his thoughtful and incisive readings of Plato, Thomas Eisele puts Socrates in a new light. In Eisele's hands, Socrates offers us a method not simply for philosophy but for the challenges of life and mind. This superb book builds on the great readings of Plato, adding to the richness of our understanding of the enigmatic figure of Socrates. These are profound readings of Plato." --_Dennis Patterson, Rutgers University School of Law_ "Eisele's book is much more than an erudite, seductive, and imaginative exploration of three central Platonic dialogues. It is also a fine general treatment of philosophy, discussing the kind of finality or closure to which philosophical questions are susceptible and the appropriate stance of the inquirer. It considers the pedagogy of philosophy and law brilliantly." --_Thomas Morawetz, University of Connecticut School of Law_. (shrink)
Recent clinical trials show that psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin can be given safely in controlled conditions, and can cause lasting psychological benefits with one or two administrations. Supervised psychedelic sessions can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and addiction, and improve well-being in healthy volunteers, for months or even years. But these benefits seem to be mediated by "mystical" experiences of cosmic consciousness, which prompts a philosophical concern: do psychedelics cause psychological benefits by inducing false or implausible beliefs about (...) the metaphysical nature of reality? This book is the first scholarly monograph in English devoted to the philosophical analysis of psychedelic drugs. Its central focus is the apparent conflict between the growing use of psychedelics in psychiatry and the philosophical worldview of naturalism. Within the book, Letheby integrates empirical evidence and philosophical considerations in the service of a simple conclusion: this "Comforting Delusion Objection" to psychedelic therapy fails. While exotic metaphysical ideas do sometimes come up, they are not, on closer inspection, the central driver of change in psychedelic therapy. Psychedelics lead to lasting benefits by altering the sense of self, and changing how people relate to their own minds and lives-not by changing their beliefs about the ultimate nature of reality. The upshot is that a traditional conception of psychedelics as agents of insight and spirituality can be reconciled with naturalism (the philosophical position that the natural world is all there is). Controlled psychedelic use can lead to genuine forms of knowledge gain and spiritual growth-even if no Cosmic Consciousness or transcendent divine Reality exists. Philosophy of Psychedelics is an indispensable guide to the literature for researchers already engaged in the field of psychedelic psychiatry, and for researchers-especially philosophers-who want to become acquainted with this increasingly topical field. (shrink)
Expanding his collected essays on architectural theory and criticism, Chris Abel pursues his explorations across disciplinary and regional boundaries in search of a deeper understanding of architecture in the evolution of human culture and identity formation. From his earliest writings predicting the computer-based revolution in customised architectural production, through his novel studies on 'tacit knowing' in design or hybridisation in regional and colonial architecture, to his radical theory of the 'extended self', Abel has been a consistently fresh and provocative (...) thinker, contesting both conventions and intellectual fashions. This revised third edition includes a new introduction and six additional chapters by the author covering a broad range of related topics, up to recent concerns with genetic design methods and virtual selves. Together with the former essays, the book presents a unique global perspective on the changing cultural issues and technologies shaping human identities and the built environment in diverse parts of the world, both East and West (from the book cover). (shrink)
The primary aim of this book is to understand how seemings relate to justification and whether some version of dogmatism or phenomenal conservatism can be sustained. It also addresses a number of other issues, including the nature of seemings, cognitive penetration, Bayesianism, and the epistemology of morality and disagreement.
It is natural to think that many of our beliefs are rational because they are based on seemings, or on the way things seem. This is especially clear in the case of perception. Many of our mathematical, moral, and memory beliefs also appear to be based on seemings. In each of these cases, it is natural to think that our beliefs are not only based on a seeming, but also that they are rationally based on these seemings—at least assuming there (...) is no relevant counterevidence. This piece is an introduction to a volume dedicated to the question of what the connection is between seemings and justified belief: under what conditions, if any, can a seeming justify its content? (shrink)
This paper is an enquiry into the logical, metaphysical, and physical possibility of time travel understood in the sense of the existence of closed worldlines that can be traced out by physical objects. We argue that none of the purported paradoxes rule out time travel either on grounds of logic or metaphysics. More relevantly, modern spacetime theories such as general relativity seem to permit models that feature closed worldlines. We discuss, in the context of Gödel's infamous argument for the ideality (...) of time based on his eponymous spacetime, what this apparent physical possibility of time travel means. Furthermore, we review the recent literature on so-called time machines, i.e., of devices that produce closed worldlines where none would have existed otherwise. Finally, we investigate what the implications of the quantum behaviour of matter for the possibility of time travel might be and explicate in what sense time travel might be possible according to leading contenders for full quantum theories of gravity such as string theory and loop quantum gravity. (shrink)
Users of psychedelic drugs often report that their sense of being a self or ‘I’ distinct from the rest of the world has diminished or altogether dissolved. Neuroscientific study of such ‘ego dissolution’ experiences offers a window onto the nature of self-awareness. We argue that ego dissolution is best explained by an account that explains self-awareness as resulting from the integrated functioning of hierarchical predictive models which posit the existence of a stable and unchanging entity to which representations are bound. (...) Combining recent work on the ‘integrative self' and the phenomenon of self-binding with predictive processing principles yields an explanation of ego dissolution according to which self-representation is a useful Cartesian fiction: an ultimately false representation of a simple and enduring substance to which attributes are bound which serves to integrate and unify cognitive processing across levels and domains. The self-model is not a mere narrative posit, as some have suggested; it has a more robust and ubiquitous cognitive function than that. But this does not mean, as others have claimed, that the self-model has the right attributes to qualify as a self. It performs some of the right kinds of functions, but it is not the right kind of entity. Ego dissolution experiences reveal that the self-model plays an important binding function in cognitive processing, but the self does not exist. (shrink)
In _The Persistence of the Sacred in Modern Thought,_ Chris L. Firestone, Nathan A. Jacobs, and thirteen other contributors examine the role of God in the thought of major European philosophers from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. The philosophers considered are, by and large, not orthodox theists; they are highly influential freethinkers, emancipated by an age no longer tethered to the authority of church and state. While acknowledging this fact, the contributors are united in arguing that this is (...) only one side of a complex story. To redress the imbalance of attention to secularism among crucial modern thinkers and to consolidate a more theologically informed view of modernity, they focus on the centrality of the sacred in the thought of these philosophers. The essays, each in its own way, argue that the major figures in modernity are theologically astute, bent not on removing God from philosophy but on putting faith and reason on a more sure footing in light of advancements in science and a perceived need to rethink the relationship between God and world. By highlighting and defending the theologically affirmative dimensions of thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, Gottfried Leibniz, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, F. W. J. Schelling, G. W. F. Hegel, and others, the essayists present a forceful and timely correction of widely accepted interpretations of these philosophers. To ignore or downplay the theological dimensions of the philosophical works they address, they argue, distorts our understanding of modern thought. "Over the past twenty-five years there has been a gradual change in the study of modern philosophy toward recognizing the centrality of our relation to God in the work of most of the major modern thinkers of the period. _The Persistence of the Sacred in Modern Thought_ is a timely and useful collection that has the potential to crystallize this important development in the study of modern philosophy." —_John E. Hare, Yale Divinity School_. (shrink)
Mentalizing refers to our ability to read the mental states of other agents and engages many neural processes. The brain's mirror system allows us to share the emotions of others. Through perspective taking, we can infer what a person currently believes about the world given their point of view. Finally, the human brain has the unique ability to represent the mental states of the self and the other and the relationship between these mental states, making possible the communication of ideas.
This book takes concepts developed by researchers in theoretical computer science and adapts and applies them to the study of natural language meaning. Summarizing over a decade of research, Chris Barker and Chung-chieh Shan put forward the Continuation Hypothesis: that the meaning of a natural language expression can depend on its own continuation.
The chapter introduces and characterizes the notion of fittingness. It charts the history of the relation and its relevance to contemporary debates in normative and metanormative philosophy and proceeds to survey issues to do with fittingness covered in the volume’s chapters, including the nature and epistemology of fittingness, the relations between fittingness and reasons, the normativity of fittingness, fittingness and value theory, and the role of fittingness in theorizing about responsibility. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of issues to (...) do with fittingness that aren’t covered extensively by the volume’s chapters in order to indicate avenues for further research. (shrink)
Any attempt to construct a realist interpretation of quantum theory founders on the Kochen-Specker theorem, which asserts the impossibility of assigning values to quantum quantities in a way that preserves functional relations between them. We construct a new type of valuation which is defined on all operators, and which respects an appropriate version of the functional composition principle. The truth-values assigned to propositions are (i) contextual; and (ii) multi-valued, where the space of contexts and the multi-valued logic for each context (...) come naturally from the topos theory of presheaves. The first step in our theory is to demonstrate that the Kochen-Specker theorem is equivalent to the statement that a certain presheaf defined on the category of self-adjoint operators has no global elements. We then show how the use of ideas drawn from the theory of presheaves leads to the definition of a generalised valuation in quantum theory whose values are sieves of operators. In particular, we show how each quantum state leads to such a generalised valuation. A key ingredient throughout is the idea that, in a situation where no normal truth-value can be given to a proposition asserting that the value of a physical quantity A lies in a set D of real numbers , it is nevertheless possible to ascribe a partial truth-value which is determined by the set of all coarse-grained propositions that assert that some function f(A) lies in f(D), and that are true in a normal sense. The set of all such coarse-grainings forms a sieve on the category of self-adjoint operators, and is hence fundamentally related to the theory of presheave. (shrink)
Ethicists increasingly reject the scale as a useful metaphor for weighing reasons. Yet they generally retain the metaphor of a reason’s weight. This combination is incoherent. The metaphor of weight entails a very specific scale-based model of weighing reasons, Dual Scale. Justin Snedegar worries that scale-based models of weighing reasons can’t properly weigh reasons against an option. I show that there are, in fact, two different reasons for/against distinctions, and I provide an account of the relationship between the various kinds (...) of reason for and against. With this account in hand, we’ll see that Dual Scale has no problem weighing any kind of reason against. (shrink)
Psychedelic ingestion and meditative practice are both ancient methods for altering consciousness that became widely known in Western society in the second half of the 20th century. Do the similarities begin and end there, or do these methods – as many have claimed over the years – share some deeper common elements? In this chapter I take a neurophilosophical approach to this question and argue that there are, indeed, deeper commonalities. Recent empirical studies show that psychedelics and meditation modulate overlapping (...) brain networks involved in the sense of self, salience, and attention; moreover, psychedelics can occasion lasting increases in “mindfulness-related capacities” for taking a non-reactive stance on one’s inner experience (e.g. Sampedro et al. 2017). The self-binding theory of psychedelic ego dissolution (Letheby and Gerrans 2017) offers a plausible explanation of these findings: by disrupting self-related beliefs implemented in high-level cortical networks, both psychedelics and meditation can “unbind” mental contents from one’s self-model, moving these contents along the continuum from phenomenal transparency to opacity (cf. Metzinger 2003). In other words, both psychedelics and meditation can expose and weaken our foundational beliefs about our own identity, allowing us to disidentify with these beliefs and see them as “just thoughts”. There are connections between these ideas and recent arguments suggesting that psychedelic use may have epistemic benefits consistent with philosophical naturalism (Letheby 2015, 2016, 2019). I conclude with a proposal: these connections may help in thinking about the putative epistemic benefits of meditation practice from a naturalistic perspective. (shrink)
Phenomenal conservatism holds, roughly, that if it seems to S that P, then S has evidence for P. I argue for two main conclusions. The first is that phenomenal conservatism is better suited than is proper functionalism to explain how a particular type of religious belief formation can lead to non-inferentially justified religious beliefs. The second is that phenomenal conservatism makes evidence so easy to obtain that the truth of evidentialism would not be a significant obstacle to justified religious belief. (...) A natural objection to phenomenal conservatism is that it makes evidence too easy to obtain, but I argue this objection is mistaken. (shrink)
It's easy and reflexive to view our online presence as fake, to see the internet as a space we enter when we aren't living our real, offline lives. Yet so much of who we are and what we do now happens online, making it hard to know which parts of our lives are real. IRL, Chris Stedman's personal and searing exploration of authenticity in the digital age, shines a light on how age-old notions of realness--who we are and where (...) we fit in the world--can be freshly understood in our increasingly online lives. Stedman offers a different way of seeing the supposed split between our online and offline selves: the internet and social media are new tools for understanding and expressing ourselves, and the not-always-graceful ways we use these tools can reveal new insights into far older human behaviors and desires. IRL invites us to consider how we use the internet to fulfill the essential human need to feel real--a need many of us once met in institutions, but now seek to do on our own, online--as well as the ways we edit or curate ourselves for digital audiences. The digital search for meaning and belonging presents challenges, Stedman suggests, but also myriad opportunities to become more fully human. In the end, he makes a bold case for embracing realness in all of its uncertainty, online and off, even when it feels risky. -- from jacket. (shrink)
Classical acquaintance theory is any version of classical foundationalism that appeals to acquaintance in order to account for non-inferential justification. Such theories are well suited to account for a kind of infallible non-inferential justification. Why am I justified in believing that I’m in pain? An initially attractive (partial) answer is that I’m acquainted with my pain. But since I can’t be acquainted with what isn’t there, acquaintance with my pain guarantees that I’m in pain. What’s less clear is whether, given (...) classical acquaintance theory, it’s possible to have non-inferential justification to believe something false. Classical acquaintance theorists try to make room for such a possibility, but I argue that the attempts of Richard Fumerton, Ali Hasan, and Evan Fales are inadequate. I’ll focus on introspective justification, but similar issues arise for a priori justification as well. (shrink)
After examining the ethical and political writings of Immanuel Kant, one finds an apparent paradox in his philosophy as his perfectionist moral teachings appear to be linked to his anti-perfectionist political theory. Specifically, he writes that the perfection of moral character can only take place for an individual who is inside of civil society, a condition where no laws may legitimately be implemented expressly for the purpose of trying to make individuals moral. Kant believes that living in civil society is (...) a necessary condition for an individual to refine his talents and reason completely, a process required by morality. I believe, however, that the connection between his moral and political theory runs much deeper than simply facilitating the refinement of talents. Kant's moral theory focuses on an individual's cultivation of virtue, but this cultivation cannot be most satisfactorily completed unless that individual is a member of civil society. Put differently, civil society plays a necessary role in cultivating an individual's character so that he is able to act from maxims consistent with the moral law, out of the respect for the law itself. However, because he believes that civic laws primarily intended to encourage moral cultivation cannot be implemented legitimately, it seems curious that this condition should play such a significant role in Kant's moral philosophy. Through this examination of Kant's moral and political theory, it will be shown that Kant's political society establishes a condition necessary for an individual's complete cultivation of virtue, not by implementing laws that make men moral but by weakening the forces of heteronomy, thereby removing barriers to moral action. (shrink)
CHRIS MATTHEW SCIABARRA discusses the major historical significance of his discovery and investigation of Ayn Rand's transcript from the University of St. Petersburg. The document provides evidence of Rand's study with some of the finest Russian scholars of the period, and helps to resolve certain paradoxes concerning Rand's relationship to the philosopher, N. O. Lossky. It also contributes to our understanding of those methods and ideas that may have influenced Rand's intellectual development.
Subjective theories of well-being claim that how well our lives go for us is a matter of our attitudes towards what we get in life rather than the nature of the things themselves. This article explains in more detail the distinction between subjective and objective theories of well-being; describes, for each approach, some reasons for thinking it is true; outlines the main kinds of subjective theory; and explains their advantages and disadvantages.
In this incisive study of the biological and cultural origins of the human self, the author challenges readers to re-think ideas about the self and consciousness as being exclusive to humans. In their place, he expounds a metatheoretical approach to the self as a purposeful system of extended cognition common to animal life: the invisible medium maintaining mind, body and environment as an integrated 'field of being'. Supported by recent research in evolutionary and developmental studies together with related discoveries in (...) animal behavior and the neurosciences, the author examines the factors that have shaped the evolution of the animal self across widely different species and times, through to the modern, technologically enmeshed human self; the differences between which, he contends, are relations of degree rather than absolute differences. We are, he concludes, instinctive and 'fuzzy' individuals clinging to fragile identities in an artificial and volatile world of humanity's own making, but which we now struggle to control. This book, which restores the self to its fundamental place in identity formation, will be of great interest for students and academics in the fields of social, developmental and environmental psychology, together with readers from other disciplines in the humanities, especially cultural theory and philosophy. (shrink)
_The Good Life of Teaching_ extends the recent revival of virtue ethics to professional ethics and the philosophy of teaching. It connects long-standing philosophical questions about work and human growth to questions about teacher motivation, identity, and development. Makes a significant contribution to the philosophy of teaching and also offers new insights into virtue theory and professional ethics Offers fresh and detailed readings of major figures in ethics, including Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Bernard Williams and the practical philosophies of (...) Hannah Arendt, John Dewey and Hans-Georg Gadamer Provides illustrations to assist the reader in visualizing major points, and integrates sources such as film, literature, and teaching memoirs to exemplify arguments in an engaging and accessible way Presents a compelling vision of teaching as a reflective practice showing how this requires us to prepare teachers differently. (shrink)
Just as theory of representation is deficient if it can’t explain how misrepresentation is possible, a theory of computation is deficient if it can’t explain how miscomputation is possible. Nonetheless, philosophers have generally ignored miscomputation. My primary goal in this paper is to clarify both what miscomputation is and how to adequately explain it. Miscomputation is a special kind of malfunction: a system miscomputes when it computes in a way that it shouldn’t. To explain miscomputation, you must provide accounts of (...) computational behavior, computational norms, and how computational behavior can deviate from computational norms. A secondary goal of this paper is to defend an (quasi-)individualist, mechanistic theory of miscomputation. Computational behavior is narrowly individuated. Computational norms are widely individuated. A system miscomputes when its behavior manifests a narrow computational structure that the widely individuated norms say that it should not have. (shrink)