Unlike the bulk of electronic media the computer game or video game is a distinctly gendered medium. All investigations confirm that we are dealing with a medium which almost exclusively appeals to and is used by, boys and young men. Therefore, the video games and computer games are very suited for investigating the form of entertainment, the pleasure, that appeals to men, i.e. the specific ‘masculine pleasure’.The paper deals with questions such as: What do computer games mean? What does violence (...) in computer games signify? Why do computer games, especially the violent ones, mean something special to a certain group of men? These questions are discussed from the perspective of semiotics, media and control studies.Finally, the paper discusses the connections between women and the male dominated video games, and attempts to explain why, nevertheless, some girls and women do play these games. (shrink)
The definition of mysticism has shifted, in modern thinking, from a patristic emphasis on the objective content of experience to the modern emphasis on the subjective psychological states or feelings of the individual. Post Kantian Idealism and Romanticism was involved in this shift to a far larger extent than is usually recognized. An important conductor of the subjectivist view of mysticism to modern philosophers of religion was William James, even though in other respects he repudiated Romantic and especially Idealist categories (...) of thought. In this article I wish first to explore William James' understanding of mysticism and religious experience, and then to measure that understanding against the accounts of two actual mystics, Bernard of Clairvaux and Julian of Norwich, who, for all their differences, may be taken as paradigms of the Christian mystical tradition. I shall argue that judging from these two cases, James' position is misguided and inadequate. Since James' account has been of enormous influence in subsequent thinking about mysticism, it follows that if his understanding of mysticism is inadequate, so is much of the work that rests upon it. (shrink)
The great increase of interest in the study of spirituality and mysticism is reflected in the large number of articles that the Encyclopedia of Religion devotes to various aspects of this topic. As one would expect, there are long entries for ‘Mysticism’ and ‘Christian Spirituality’ and ‘Religious Experience’. In addition to these broad categories, attention is given to more specific aspects of spirituality such as ‘Asceticism’, ‘Silence’, ‘Prayer’, ‘Meditation’, and so on. This is complemented by entries on many of the (...) spiritual giants of the Christian tradition, both ancient and modern. I shall begin by discussing these articles on individuals, and go on to examine the more general articles later in the review. I shall suggest that, despite many merits, both sorts of entry display an editorial policy about which serious questions must be raised. (shrink)
Donna Haraway, in her ‘Manifesto for Cyborgs’, issues a warning that in the postmodern world where grand narratives increasingly fail and subjects are seen to be irremediably fragmented, ‘we risk lapsing into boundless difference and giving up on the confusing task of making a partial, real connection. Some differences are playful; some are poles of world historical systems of domination. Epistemology is about knowing the difference’. Such an account of epistemology, which sees its central task to be a knowledge of (...) the significance of difference and a capacity to discern between innocent and oppressive forms of difference, is perhaps not one that would most readily occur to British philosophers of religion. It is, however, an account which has resonances both with many contemporary continental thinkers and with feminist epistemologists. Notwithstanding the many areas of divergence between and among these groups, on two points at least they converge: that the recognition and discernment of difference has become inescapable for epistemology, and that of the differences which must be dealt with, gender difference has a paradigmatic status. (shrink)
An identical consciousness of close communion with God is obtained by the non-sacramental Quaker in his silence and by the sacramental Catholic in the Eucharist. The Christian contemplative's sense of personal intercourse with the divine as manifest in the incarnate Christ is hard to distinguish from that of the Hindu Vaishnavite, when we have allowed for the different constituents of his apperceiving mass.
What must I do to be saved? And is what I must do the same as what you must do? The Philippian jailor in the book of Acts received a most peculiar answer to the question: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ’, said St Paul, ‘and you will be saved.’ In the context, this hardly seems appropriate. The jailor was not asking how he could be assured of a place in the next world, or how he could be reconciled to (...) God or have his sins forgiven. His was a cry of quite unreligious desperation: was there any alternative to suicide, now that his prison was no longer secure and he had failed in his duty? The curious thing about the story is that it is recorded, not as an example of over–zealous bad manners, but as ultimately the right answer for even the jailor's situation. When Paul instructed him further, he and his household were baptized: the writer clearly intended the story to show that Paul's initial response was exactly right, and that belief in Christ brought salvation to the jailor and his family. (shrink)
"The book’s contribution to feminist philosophy of religion is substantial and original.... It brings the continental and Anglo-American traditions into substantive and productive conversation with each other." —Ellen Armour To what extent has the emergence of the study of religion in Western culture been gendered? In this exciting book, Grace Jantzen proposes a new philosophy of religion from a feminist perspective. Hers is a vital and significant contribution which will be essential reading in the study of religion.
Various causal details of the genetic process of translation have been singled out to account for its privileged status as a ‘code'. We explicate the biological uses of coding talk by characterizing a class of special causal processes in which topological properties are the causally relevant ones. This class contains both the process of translation and communication theoretic coding processes as special cases. We propose a formalism in terms of graphs for expressing our theory of biological codes and discuss its (...) utility in understanding biological systems. *Received May 2007; revised May 2008. †To contact the authors, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Baker Hall 135, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; e-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Most attempts to answer the question of whether populations of groups can undergo natural selection focus on properties of the groups themselves rather than the dynamics of the population of groups. Those approaches to group selection that do emphasize dynamics lack an account of the relevant notion of equivalent dynamics. I show that the theory of ‘dynamical kinds’ I proposed in Jantzen :3617–3646, 2014) can be used as a framework for assessing dynamical equivalence. That theory is based upon the (...) notion of a dynamical symmetry, a transformation of a system that commutes with its evolution through time. In the proposed framework, structured sets of dynamical symmetries are used to pick out equivalence classes of systems. These classes are large enough to encompass the range of phenomena we associate with natural selection, yet restrictive enough to guarantee a sort of causal homogeneity. By characterizing dynamical kinds via symmetry structures in this way, the question of levels of selection becomes a precise question about which populations respect the dynamical symmetries of Darwinian evolution. Standard population genetic models suggest that populations undergoing evolution by natural selection are partially characterized by a group of fitness-scaling symmetries. I demonstrate conditions under which these symmetries may be satisfied by populations of individuals, populations of groups of individuals, or both simultaneously. (shrink)
In a naïve realist approach to reading an ontology off the models of a physical theory, the invariance of a given theory under permutations of its property-bearing objects entails the existence of distinct possible worlds from amongst which the theory cannot choose. A brand of Ontic Structural Realism attempts to avoid this consequence by denying that objects possess primitive identity, and thus worlds with property values permuted amongst those objects are really one and the same world. Assuming that any successful (...) ontology of objects is able to describe a universe containing a determinate number of them, I argue that no version of OSR which both retains objects and understands ‘structure’ in terms of relations can be successful. This follows from the fact that no set of relational facts is sufficient to fix the cardinality of the collection of objects implied by those facts. More broadly, I offer reasons to believe that no version of OSR is compatible with the existence of objects, no matter how ontologically derivative they are taken to be. Any such account would have to attribute a definite cardinality to a collection of objects while denying that those objects are possessed of a primitive identity. With no compelling reason to abandon the classical conception of cardinality, such an attribution is incoherent. (shrink)
Scientists routinely solve the problem of supplementing one’s store of variables with new theoretical posits that can explain the previously inexplicable. The banality of success at this task obscures a remarkable fact. Generating hypotheses that contain novel variables and accurately project over a limited amount of additional data is so difficult—the space of possibilities so vast—that succeeding through guesswork is overwhelmingly unlikely despite a very large number of attempts. And yet scientists do generate hypotheses of this sort in very few (...) tries. I argue that this poses a dilemma: either the long history of scientific success is a miracle, or there exists at least one method or algorithm for generating novel hypotheses with at least limited projectibility on the basis of what’s available to the scientist at a time, namely a set of observations, the history of past conjectures, and some prior theoretical commitments. In other words, either ordinary scientific success is miraculous or there exists a logic of discovery at the heart of actual scientific method. (shrink)
Scientific practice involves two kinds of induction. In one, generalizations are drawn about the states of a particular system of variables. In the other, generalizations are drawn across systems in a class. We can discern two questions of correctness about both kinds of induction: what distinguishes those systems and classes of system that are ‘projectible’ in Goodman’s sense from those that are not, and what are the methods by which we are able to identify kinds that are likely to be (...) projectible? In answer to the first question, numerous theories of ‘natural kinds’ have been advanced, but none has satisfactorily addressed both questions simultaneously. I propose a shift in perspective. Both essentialist and cluster property theories have traditionally characterized kinds directly in terms of the causally salient properties their members possess. Instead, we should focus on ‘dynamical symmetries’, transformations of a system to which the causal structure of that system is indifferent. I suggest that to be a member of natural kind it is necessary and sufficient to possess a particular collection of dynamical symmetries. I show that membership in such a kind is in turn necessary and sufficient for the presence of the sort of causal structure that accounts for success in both kinds of induction, thus demonstrating that has been answered satisfactorily. More dramatically, I demonstrate that this new theory of ‘dynamical kinds’ provides an answer to with methodological implications concerning the discovery of projectible kinds. (shrink)
Philosophers of science have long been concerned with the question of what a given scientific theory tells us about the contents of the world, but relatively little attention has been paid to how we set out to build theories and to the relevance of pre-theoretical methodology on a theory’s interpretation. In the traditional view, the form and content of a mature theory can be separated from any tentative ontological assumptions that went into its development. For this reason, the target of (...) interpretation is taken to be the mature theory and nothing more. On this view, positions on ontology emerge only once a theory is to hand, not as part of the process of theory building. Serious attention to theory creation suggests this is too simple. In particular, data collection and experimentation are influenced both by theory and by assumptions about the entities thought to be the target of study. Initial reasoning about possible ontologies has an influence on the choice of theoretical variables as well as on the judgments of the methodology appropriate to investigate them. (shrink)
Physical theories continue to be interpreted in terms of particles. The idea of a particle required modification with the advent of quantum theory, but remains central to scientific explanation. Particle ontologies also have the virtue of explaining basic epistemic features of the world, and so remain appealing for the scientific realist. However, particle ontologies are untenable when coupled with the empirically necessary postulate of permutation invariance—the claim that permuting the roles of particles in a representation of a physical state results (...) in a representation of the same physical state. I demonstrate that any theory which is permutation invariant in this sense is incompatible with a particle ontology. (shrink)
The history of design arguments stretches back to before Aquinas, who claimed that things which lack intelligence nevertheless act for an end to achieve the best result. Although science has advanced to discredit this claim, it remains true that many biological systems display remarkable adaptations of means to ends. Versions of design arguments have persisted over the centuries and have culminated in theories that propose an intelligent designer of the universe. This volume is the only comprehensive survey of 2,000 years (...) of debate, drawing on both historical and modern literature to identify, clarify and assess critically the many forms of design argument for the existence of God. It provides a neutral, informative account of the topic from antiquity to Darwin, and includes concise primers on probability and cosmology. It will be of great value to upper-level undergraduates and graduates in philosophy of religion, theology, and philosophy of science. (shrink)
Framed as a critique of David Hume’s analysis of miracles, Peirce offers a sustained argument against an approach to historical inference he calls the “Method of Balancing Likelihoods‘ (MBL). In MBL the posterior probability that a disputed historical event has occurred is computed on the basis of the prior probability of that event occurring and the probability that each purported witness of the event has given accurate testimony. Peirce’s critique of this method is hierarchical: he denies that an objective probability (...) obtains for the truthfulness of witness testimony. Conceding this point, he asserts that, even if such objective probabilities exist, it is implausible to believe that witnesses are independent of one another. Conceding the first two points, Peirce argues that the very sampling process inherent to history necessarily introduces a strong probabilistic dependence that makes MBL unreliable. Finally, irrespective of the success of his first three criticisms, Peirce argues that MBL can be shown by empirical means to fail as a reliable method of inference. I reconstruct this hierarchical critique from a handful of Peirce’s manuscripts, and emphasize its continuing relevance for modern accounts of judgment aggregation. (shrink)
It has been suggested that puzzles in the interpretation of quantum mechanics motivate consideration of entities that are numerically distinct but do not stand in a relation of identity with themselves or non-identity with others. Quite apart from metaphysical concerns, I argue that talk about such entities is either meaningless or not about such entities. It is meaningless insofar as we attempt to take the foregoing characterization literally. It is meaningful, however, if talk about entities without identity is taken as (...) elliptical for either nominal or predicative use of a special class of mass terms. (shrink)
The idea that the world is made of particles — little discrete, interacting objects that compose the material bodies of everyday experience — is a durable one. Following the advent of quantum theory, the idea was revised but not abandoned. It remains manifest in the explanatory language of physics, chemistry, and molecular biology. Aside from its durability, there is good reason for the scientific realist to embrace the particle interpretation: such a view can account for the prominent epistemic fact that (...) only limited knowledge of a portion of the material universe is needed in order to make reliable predictions about that portion. Thus, particle interpretations can support an abductive argument from the epistemic facts in favor of a realist reading of physical theory. However, any particle interpretation with this property is untenable. The empirical adequacy of modern particle theories requires adoption of a postulate known as permutation invariance — the claim that interchanging the role of two particles of the same kind in a dynamical state description results in a description of the identical state. It is the central claim of this essay that PI is incompatible with any particle interpretation strong enough to account for the epistemic facts. This incompatibility extends across all physical theories. To frame and motivate the inconsistency argument, I begin by fixing the relevant notion of particle. To single out those accounts of greatest appeal to the realist, I develop the logically weakest particle ontology that entails the epistemic fact that the world is piecewise predictable, an ontology I call ‘minimal atomism’. The entire series of scientific conceptions of the particle, from Newton’s mechanically interacting corpuscles to the ‘centers of force’ in classical field theories, all comport with MA. As long as PI is left out, even quantum mechanics can be viewed this way. To assess the impact of PI on this picture, I present a framework for rigorously connecting interpretations to physical theories. In particular, I represent MA as a set of formal conditions on the models of physical theories, the mathematical structures taken to represent states of the world. I also formulate PI — originally introduced as a postulate of non-relativistic quantum mechanics — in theory independent terms. With all of these pieces in hand, I am then able to present a proof of the inconsistency of PI and MA. In the second part of the essay, I survey responses to the inconsistency result open to the scientific realist. The two most plausible approaches involve abandoning particles in one way or another. The first alternative interpretation considered takes the property bearing objects of the world to be regions of space rather than particles. In this view, the properties once attributed to particles in quantum states are attributed instead to one or more regions of space. PI no longer obtains in this case, at least not as a statement about the permutation symmetry of property bearers. Rather, the new interpretation naturally imposes an analogous constraint on quantum states. The second major approach to evading the inconsistency result is to dispense with objects altogether. This is the recommendation of so-called ‘Ontic Structural Realism’. The central OSR thesis is that structure rather than entities are the basic ontological components of the world. OSR is intended to embrace the ‘miracle’ argument in favor of scientific realism while avoiding the pessimistic meta-induction. I demonstrate that one principal motivation for OSR based on the under-determination of interpretations in QM is actually dissolved by the incompatibility result. At the same time, I suggest reasons to think that OSR fares no better with respect to the pessimistic meta-induction than traditional realism does. Thus, while PI and MA may be incompatible, object ontologies remain the best option for the realist. (shrink)
Most feminists take for granted that the One Father God, omnipotent, separate from the universe overwhich ‘he’ presides, which has been at the heart of western conceptions of deity, is a projection which ensuresthat all otherness is reducible to ‘a variant of the same’. In whatever way the divine might be thought, it should not be like that. From this agreed starting point, however, there is sharp divergence among feminists. Many feminists, rejecting this Big Daddy in the Sky, reject with (...) him all religion, directing their efforts toward practical and theoretical struggles for justice. In the light of the incalculable consequences of western theism in terms of colonialism, racism, homophobia, and sexism, such a refusal on the part of feminists to have anything further to do with it, even in terms of contestation, is wholly understandable and worthy of respect. (shrink)
If you would know God, you must not merely be like the Son, you must be the Son yourself. With these words Meister Eckhart encapsulates the aim of Christian mysticism as he understood it: to know God, and to know God in such a way that the knower is not merely like Christ but actually becomes Christ, taken into the Trinity itself. Eckhart speaks frequently of this in his sermons.
Paul Helm's discussion of my book is a clear illustration of some of my central claims about Anglo-American philosophy of religion: he instantiates its undue preoccupation with beliefs, and its erasure of gender. In my reply I show how Helm conflates my objection to such preoccupation with the absurd claim that beliefs are unnecessary, and how he conflates philosophy of religion – even rationality itself – with its Anglo-American variants. He refuses to engage with the masculinism implicit both in his (...) selectivity and in the boundaries he seeks to maintain around the discipline; boundaries which, I argue, need to be opened up for philosophy of religion to flourish. (shrink)
Although there is a deep channel dividing British philosophy of religion from French thought associated with poststructuralism, much is to be gained from communication between the two. In this paper I explore three central areas of difference: the understanding of the subject, of language, and of God/religion. In each case I show that continental philosophy pursues these areas in ways which make issues of gender central to their understanding; and suggest that, while continental thought is neither monolithic nor beyond criticism, (...) its understandings of difference are of great value to religious thought. (shrink)
The use of the Law of Likelihood (LL) as a general tool for assessing rival hypotheses has been criticized for its ambiguous treatment of background information. The LL endorses radically different answers depending on what information is designated as background versus evidence. I argue that once one distinguishes between two questions about evidentiary support, the ambiguity vanishes. I demonstrate this resolution by applying it to a debate over the status of the ‘fine-tuning argument’.
This article challenges the widely held view that mysticism is essentially characterized by intense, ineffable, subjective experiences. Instead, I show that mysticism has undergone a series of social constructions, which were never innocent of gendered struggles for power. When philosophers of religion and popular writers on mysticism ignore these gendered constructions, as they regularly do, they are in turn perpetuating a post-Jamesian understanding of mysticism which removes mysticism and women from involvement with political and social justice.
Most attempts to answer the question of whether populations of groups can undergo natural selection focus on properties of the groups themselves rather than the dynamics of the population. Those approaches to group selection that do emphasize dynamics lack an account of the relevant notion of equivalent dynamics. I present a new approach to identifying instances of evolution by natural selection that is based upon dynamical symmetries. I apply the symmetry method to arrive at an affirmative but qualified answer to (...) the question of group selection. (shrink)