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.
In Emotions, Values, and 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.
This book is our century’s most comprehensive and wise treatment of nihilism in all of its guises, comparing favorably with Rosen, Cavell, and indeed with Spengler. Crosby argues that our culture is genuinely haunted by nihilism expressing itself in the fideism of fundamentalism as well as in the debilitating alienation from all orientation. This results from a one-sided development of Western culture. Unlike most writers on this topic, Crosby acknowledges many sources colluding to frame the culture of nihilism, (...) including “the death of God,” the objectification of nature, the meaninglessness of suffering in a mechanical universe, the ephemerality of time in a world where value does not accumulate, the arbitrariness of historicized reason, the reduction of value to will, and the alienation of the Cartesian ego. These sources are reviewed in the first two parts of the book with the result that the phenomenon of nihilism becomes understandable. In its third and fourth parts, Crosby provides a critical analysis of the religious and philosophical forces leading to nihilism by discussing authors from the early modern period through Dostoyevsky, Sartre, Russell, and Derrida. He shows that these forces are skewed and impoverished and should not be allowed to determine our situation. The comprehensive attention to detail and the multi-perspectival interpretation demonstrates as well as asserts the richness of the culture that puts nihilism in its place. Part Five, finally, rephrases the criticism of the sources of nihilism in positive ways. Part Four in particular is a tour de force of philosophical argument. Its richness of nuance, plurality of views examined, and adroitness of critical interpretation provide cumulatively a powerful, non-nihilistic reading of the philosophic tradition. The force of the argument derives from its comprehensive, cumulative character. Crosby distinguishes and relates five areas of nihilism: political, moral, epistemological, cosmic, and existential. Throughout the book, he illustrates and examines these as they are expressed in literature and art, in daily life and practical affairs, and in philosophy. The book is richly erudite in its marshalling of consciousness from so many domains. (shrink)
The question of causality has haunted the history of Western metaphysics since the time of the Pre-Socratic philosophy. Hand-in-hand with attempts to address this question is the promise of unlocking larger and more complicated questions pertaining to human freedom. But what of novelty? In this brilliant extended essay Donald A. Crosby contends that, though novelty can't be comprehended without efficient causality, causality requires a concept of novelty; without it cause and effect relations are unintelligible and, indeed, impossible.
This book explores the nature of human freedom, or what Crosby calls genuine freedom. He argues at length for the crucial importance of genuine freedom for responsible and meaningful human life and takes extended issue, on practical as well as theoretical grounds, with those who argue for the compatibility of freedom with causal determinism.
In ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’, Turing, sceptical of the question ‘Can machines think?’, quickly replaces it with an experimentally verifiable test: the imitation game. I suggest that for such a move to be successful the test needs to be relevant, expansive, solvable by exemplars, unpredictable, and lead to actionable research. The Imitation Game is only partially successful in this regard and its reliance on language, whilst insightful for partially solving the problem, has put AI progress on the wrong foot, prescribing (...) a top-down approach for building thinking machines. I argue that to fix shortcomings with modern AI systems a nonverbal operationalisation is required. This is provided by the recent Animal-AI Testbed, which translates animal cognition tests for AI and provides a bottom-up research pathway for building thinking machines that create predictive models of their environment from sensory input. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis article examines the term kammaṭṭhāna in three contexts. It begins by looking at the rare usage in the Pali canon where it denotes secular work, but is extended to include the work of the ascetic. It then looks at its usage in the commentarial period to denote the meditation subjects for samatha meditation, and where extensions of this to include vipassanā also occur. Finally, the article looks at kammaṭṭhāna in early modern Southeast Asia in the context of a variety (...) of pre-modern meditation, boran kammathan, where the number of meditation subjects is increased, the patterns of their usage has changed with a new emphasis on experiencing nimitta, and kammathan is employed as a general term for meditation per se. The article also considers some ancillary features of boran kammathan texts, offering suggestions to enhance the search for new boran kammathan texts in manuscript archives and libraries. (shrink)
This article announces the discovery of a Sinhalese version of the traditional meditation ( borān yogāvacara kammaṭṭhāna ) text in which the Consciousness or Mind, personified as a Princess living in a five-branched tree (the body), must understand the nature of death and seek the four gems that are the four noble truths. To do this she must overcome the cravings of the five senses, represented as five birds in the tree. Only in this way will she permanently avoid the (...) attentions of Death, Māra, and his three female servants, Birth, Sickness and Old Age. In this version of the text, when the Princess manages not to succumb to these three, Māra comes and snatches her from her tree and rapes her. The Buddha then appears to her to explain the path to liberation. The text provides a commentary, padārtha , which explains the details of the symbolism of the fruit in terms of rebirth and being born, the tree in terms of the body, etc. The text also offers interpretations of signs of impending death and prognostications regarding the next rebirth. Previously the existence of Khmer and Lānnā versions of this text have been recorded by Francois Bizot and Francois Lagirarde, the former publishing the text as Le Figuier a cinq branches (Le figuier à cinq branches, 1976). The Sinhalese version was redacted for one of the wives of King Kīrti Śrī Rājasiṅha of Kandy by the monk Varañāṇa Mahāthera of Ayutthayā. This confirms earlier speculation that this form of borān/dhammakāya meditation was brought to Sri Lanka with the introduction of the Siyam Nikāya in the mid-eighteenth century. It also shows that in Sri Lanka, as in Ayutthayā, this form of meditation—which in the modern period was to be rejected as ‘unorthodox’—was promoted at the highest levels of court and Saṅgha. (shrink)
In the Theravada Buddhism of the Shan peoples of northern Burma and Thailand, the main medium for the transmission of complex teachings is an elaborate form of poetry. The scholars who preserve and perform the readings of such teachings are called zare. Mostly they are laymen, although some are women and a few are monks. This article examines how the zare acquire their extraordinary erudition, the challenges confronting the tradition in the face of political suppression, modernity and minority language status, (...) and the ways in which zare culture undermines common preconceptions about Theravada Buddhism. (shrink)
Despite there being little consensus on what intelligence is or how to measure it, the media and the public have become increasingly preoccupied with the concept owing to recent accomplishments in machine learning and research on artificial intelligence (AI). Governments and corporations are investing billions of dollars to fund researchers who are keen to produce an ever‐expanding range of artificial intelligent systems. More than 30 countries have announced such research initiatives over the past 3 years 1. For example, the EU (...) Commission pledged to increase the investment in AI research to €1.5 billion by 2020 (from €500 million in 2017), while China has committed $2.1 billion towards an AI technology park in Beijing alone 1. This global investment in AI is astonishing and prompts several questions: What are the true possibilities and limitations of AI? What do AI researchers and developers mean by “intelligence”? How does this compare to the everyday concept of intelligence and how the term is other branches of cognitive science? And can machine learning produce anything that is truly “intelligent”? (shrink)
_ The Subject of Human Being_ discusses the basic powers of human kind arising from the foundation of the biological brain and manifesting in extraordinary psychological and social capacities and developments. The book consolidates theoretical insights into social ontology from several thinkers, whose profound advances toward understanding the relationship between individuals and society ought to revolutionize social theory as understood and practiced in the social sciences and humanities. Drawing from critical realist social theory developed by Bhaskar and Margaret Archer, John (...) Searle’s philosophy of mind and social ontology, Husserlean and Sartrean phenomenology of consciousness, and Lacanian and existential psychoanalytic theory, the book seeks to portray a unified social ontology that is materialist, emergent, realist, dialectical, processual, and liberatory. Offering a dialectical and progressive view of human being to counter the forces of exploitation and division inflicted on human kind and the ecosystems in which we reside, this book is essential reading for students and scholars of critical realism, philosophy and sociology. (shrink)
Towards the end of his response to me, Lee presents an argument for the necessity of interpreting all evil as privation. I counter this argument by showingthat it works only for what I call “formal” good and evil, but not for what I call “contentful” good and evil. In fact, evil that is “contentful” presents a challenge tothe privation theory that I had not discussed in my article. I then proceed, in the second part of my response, to revisit the (...) three cases of evil that in my original paper I had presented as challenges to the privation theory. I engage Lee’s objections to these three counterexamples and I try to explain in a new way why the principle of badness in each of them, especially in pain/suffering and in moral evil, is not just a lack or a deficiency. (shrink)
Historically, entities with a vested interest in a product that critics have suggested is harmful have consistently used research to back their claims that the product is safe. Prominent examples are: tobacco, lead, bisphenol A, and atrazine. Research literature indicates that about 80–90 % of studies with industry affiliation found no harm from the product, while only about 10–20 % of studies without industry affiliation found no harm. In parallel to other historical debates, recent studies examining a possible relationship between (...) mercury exposure and autism spectrum disorder show a similar dichotomy. Studies sponsored and supported by industry or entities with an apparent conflict of interest have most often shown no evidence of harm or no “consistent” evidence of harm, while studies without such affiliations report positive evidence of a Hg/autism association. The potentially causal relationship between Hg exposure and ASD differs from other toxic products since there is a broad coalition of entities for whom a conflict of interest arises. These include influential governmental public health entities, the pharmaceutical industry, and even the coal burning industry. This review includes a systematic literature search of original studies on the potential relationship between Hg and ASD from 1999 to date, finding that of the studies with public health and/or industry affiliation, 86 % reported no relationship between Hg and ASD. However, among studies without public health and/or industry affiliation, only 19 % find no relationship between Hg and ASD. The discrepancy in these results suggests a bias indicative of a conflict of interest. (shrink)
It is proposed to test the privation theory of evil by examining three kinds of evil: (1) the evil of the complete destruction of some good (as distinct from the wounding of that good); (2) the evil of physical pain; and (3) certain forms of moral evil in which the evildoer is hostile to some good. It is shown that in none of these cases does evil seem to fit the privation scheme, and that in the second and third case (...) evil seems to be in some way “more” than privation. In conclusion it is argued that to entertain such doubts about the privation theory has nothing to do with restoring a Manichean view of evil. In fact, one can entertain these doubts and still affirm that evil is parasitic on good. (shrink)
In this article I explain various points of contact between Newman and the Catholic philosophical tradition. I begin with Newman’s personalism as it is found in the Grammar of Assent, especially in the distinction between notional and real assent, and in the distinction between formal and informal inference. Then I proceed to Newman’s personalism as it is found in his teaching on conscience and on doctrinal development. I then consider Newman as proto-phenomenologist and also as an Augustinian thinker. Finally, I (...) discuss Newman’s teaching on moral and intellectual virtue in The Idea of a University. If I had to pick one utterance of Newman that epitomizes his philosophical thought in a way that engages Catholic philosophers, I would pick the motto of the Grammar of Assent: “Non in dialectica complacuit Deo salvum facere populum tuum.”. (shrink)
In his deep and significant study of the thought of Max Scheler, Hans Urs von Balthasar writes that “the realm of the personal was Scheler’s innermost concern, more important to him than anything else, the sanctuary of his thought.” This is why Scheler again and again aligned himself with personalism in philosophy, as we can see from the introduction to his major work, Formalism in Ethics.
Taking John Paul II's teaching on the Christian meaning of suffering as my main source for a Catholic perspective on suffering, I show how seriously he takes the reality of suffering, and how seriously he takes the question as to the meaning of suffering. I proceed to explore his many-sided teaching on the way in which sin is and is not involved in the meaning of suffering, giving particular attention to his teaching on social dimensions of sin and suffering that (...) are little understood in the individualistic West today. The heart of his teaching on suffering lies in his explication of how it is that we have to be conformed in our suffering to the suffering of Christ so as to share in His resurrection. But it is not the suffering as such but the love that we are called to live when we suffer, that incorporates us into the risen Christ. (shrink)
My interlocutor is Locke with his reduction of person to personal consciousness. This reduction is a main reason preventing people from acknowledging the personhood of the earliest human embryo, which lacks all personal consciousness. I show that Catholic Christians who live the sacramental life of the Church have reason to think that they are, as persons, vastly more than what they experience themselves to be, for they believe that the sacraments work effects in them as persons that can only be (...) believed but that cannot be experienced within themselves in this life. I also show that Christians and non-Christians alike have an experience of moral good and evil in themselves that implies that they are, as moral persons, far more than they find in their conscious self-presence. It is, therefore, natural to think that if my being as person so far exceeds my consciousness, I may well have once existed as person even before the awakening of consciousness. (shrink)
In this essay, I try to advance the reception of Karol Wojtyła’s seminal essay “Subjectivity and the Irreducible in Man.” In particular I try to understand and to think through the distinction that he makes between the “personalist” and the “cosmological” image of man. I unpack Wojtyła’s concept of subjectivity, which underlies all that he says about the personalist image of man. I give particular attention to all that he says about the unity formed by the two images. I then (...) proceed to apply Wojtyła’s analysis to a certain cosmological challenge to a personalist understanding of man: it is the challenge that comes from looking at the immensity of the cosmos and at the infinitesimal smallness of man in it and of thinking that man is swallowed up in this immensity and obliterated in his importance. I argue that precisely the subjectivity of the person implies that there is in each person an “infinite abyss of existence” so that each person is in reality his or her own whole and is no mere part of the cosmic whole but is incommensurable with it. (shrink)
My interlocutor is anyone who denies peisonhood to the embryo on the grounds that a human person can exist only in conscious activity and that in the absence of consciousness a person cannot exist at all. I probe personal consciousness to the point at which the distinction between the being and the consciousness of the human person appears, and argue on the basis of this distinction that the being of a person can exist in the absence of any consciousness. I (...) proceed to argue that it is not only entirely possible for the embryo to be a human person, but that, given the embodied peisonhood of us human beings, this is the only reasonable assumption which we can make. Keywords: human embryo, personhood, being, consciousness, embodiment CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
In the course of his polemic against Kant’s moral philosophy, Scheler was led to depreciate moral obligation and its place in the existence of persons. This depreciation is part of a larger anti-authoritarian strain in his personalism. I attempt to retrieve certain truths about moral obligation that tend to get lost in Scheler: moral obligation is not merely “medicinal” but has a place at the highest levels of moral life; the freedom of persons is lived in an incomparable way in (...) responding to moral obligation; obligation and obedience even have an indispensable place in the existence of Christians. Drawing on the studies of Scheler by Rudolf Otto, Karol Wojtyla, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Dietrich von Hildebrand, I show how Scheler’s personalism is corrected and enhanced once we distance ourselves from his anti-authoritarian animus against obligation and restore obligation to its place in the existence of persons. (shrink)
I explore the personalism embedded in von Hildebrand’s moral philosophy, and then I explore the personalism in his later account of love. I claim that his personalism was significantly developed in his later work, and that it can be still further developed by us. I begin by explaining what Hildebrandian value-response is, and then I proceed to show how he subsequently qualified this foundational concept, first in his Ethics but especially in his late work, The Nature of Love, and here (...) especially through the concept of Eigenleben that was introduced in that work. I am particularly interested in showing why the personalism of von Hildebrand’s thought is enriched through this concept. (shrink)
In this thorough compendium, nineteen accomplished scholars explore, in some manner the values they find inherent in the world, their nature, and revelence through the thought of Frederick FerrZ. These essays, informed by the insights of FerrZ and coming from manifold perspectives—ethics, philosophy, theology, and environmental studies, advance an ambitious challenge to current intellectual and scholarly fashions.