The context for these interviews was a seminar [Peter Gratton] conducted on speculative realism in the Spring 2010. There has been great interest in speculative realism and one reason Gratton surmise[s] is not just the arguments offered, though [Gratton doesn't] want to take away from them; each of these scholars are vivid writers and great pedagogues, many of whom are in constant contact with their readers via their weblogs. Thus these interviews provided an opportunity to forward student questions about their (...) respective works. Though each were conducted on different occasions, the interviews stand as a collected work, tying together the most classical questions about “realism” to ancillary movements about the non-human in politics, ecology, aesthetics, and video gaming—all to point to future movements in this philosophical area. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: ARISTOTELIAN AND CARTESIAN LOGIC AT HARVARD -- by Rick Kennedy -- I. Introduction --II. Religiously-Oriented, Dogmatically-Inclined Humanistic Logics from the Renaissance to the Seventeenth Century -- A. Melanchthon and Aristotelianism 01 -- B. Richardson and Ramism 16 -- C. Aristotelianism, Ramism, and Schematic Thinking 25 -- D. Puritan Favoritism From Ramus to Descartes 32 -- E. Cartesian Logic and Christian Skepticism 37 -- F. The Religious and Dogmatic Orientation of The Port-'Royalfogic 42 -- G. Cartesian Logic (...) in British Textbooks 52 -- III. Charles Morton and c A; logick System -- A. Charles Morton 62 -- B. Morton's cAfogick System 78 -- IV. William Brattle and the Compendium of logick -- A. Intellectual Reform in the Puritans' Collapsing World 91 -- B. The Compendium ofJogick 93 -- c. Brattle: Tutor and Unofficial Professor of Divinity 108 -- V. Epilogue: Later Constituencies of Religious Logics and 133 -- The Separation of Logic and Divinity at Harvard. (shrink)
This is a reply to de Sousa's 'Emotional Truth', in which he argues that emotions can be objective, as propositional truths are. I say that it is better to distinguish between truth and accuracy, and agree with de Sousa to the extent of arguing that emotions can be more or less accurate, that is, based on the facts as they are.
Having set global warming in irreversible motion, we are facing the possibility of ecological catastrophe. But the environmental emergency is also a crisis for our philosophical habits of thought, confronting us with a problem that seems to defy not only our control but also our understanding. Global warming is perhaps the most dramatic example of what Timothy Morton calls “hyperobjects”—entities of such vast temporal and spatial dimensions that they defeat traditional ideas about what a thing is in the first (...) place. In this book, Morton explains what hyperobjects are and their impact on how we think, how we coexist with one another and with nonhumans, and how we experience our politics, ethics, and art. Moving fluidly between philosophy, science, literature, visual and conceptual art, and popular culture, the book argues that hyperobjects show that the end of the world has already occurred in the sense that concepts such as world, nature, and even environment are no longer a meaningful horizon against which human events take place. Instead of inhabiting a world, we find ourselves inside a number of hyperobjects, such as climate, nuclear weapons, evolution, or relativity. Such objects put unbearable strains on our normal ways of reasoning. Insisting that we have to reinvent how we think to even begin to comprehend the world we now live in, _Hyperobjects_ takes the first steps, outlining a genuinely postmodern ecological approach to thought and action. (shrink)
The claim of this paper is that the everyday functions of knowledge make most sense if we see knowledge as contrastive. That is, we can best understand how the concept does what it does by thinking in terms of a relation “a knows that p rather than q.” There is always a contrast with an alternative. Contrastive interpretations of knowledge, and objections to them, have become fairly common in recent philosophy. The version defended here is fairly mild in that there (...) is no suggestion that we cannot think in terms of a simpler not explicitly contrastive relation “a knows that p.” Some, for instance Schaffer (2005) and Karjalainen and Morton (2003), have hinted that this stronger possibility may be right. But all that I am arguing now is that facts that are easily expressed in contrastive terms are vital to understanding why we need the concept of knowledge. In a piece that is in some ways a companion to this one ("Contrastivism" in Duncan Pritchard and Sven Bernecker, eds. The Routledge Companion to Epistemology. Routledge 2010, 513-522), I give a general survey of theories of contrastive knowledge and the differences between them. (shrink)
[Ronald de Sousa] Taking literally the concept of emotional truth requires breaking the monopoly on truth of belief-like states. To this end, I look to perceptions for a model of non-propositional states that might be true or false, and to desires for a model of propositional attitudes the norm of which is other than the semantic satisfaction of their propositional object. Those models inspire a conception of generic truth, which can admit of degrees for analogue representations such as emotions; belief-like (...) states, by contrast, are digital representations. I argue that the gravest problem-objectivity-is not insurmountable. /// [Adam Morton ] It is accuracy rather than truth itself that is valuable. Emotional truth is a dubious though attractive notion, but emotional accuracy is much easier to make sense of. My approach to accuracy goes via an account of what makes a story accurate. Stories can be accurate but not true, and emotions can be accurate whether or not they are true. The capacity for emotional accuracy, for emotions that fit a person's situation, is an aspect of emotional intelligence, which is as important an aspect of rational human agency as the intelligent formation of beliefs and desires. (shrink)
Conscience and Conscientious Objection of Health Care Professionals Refocusing the Issue Content Type Journal Article Pages 351-364 DOI 10.1007/s10730-009-9113-x Authors Natasha T. Morton, The University of Western Ontario Ontario Canada N6A 5B9 Kenneth W. Kirkwood, Arthur and Sonia Labatt Health Sciences Building London Ontario Canada N6A 5B9 Journal HEC Forum Online ISSN 1572-8498 Print ISSN 0956-2737 Journal Volume Volume 21 Journal Issue Volume 21, Number 4.
(for Adam Morton's half) I argue that if we take the values of persons to be ordered in a way that allows incomparability, then the problems Broome raises have easy solutions. In particular we can maintain that creating people is morally neutral while killing them has a negative value.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivaks seminal contribution to contemporary thought defies disciplinary boundaries. From her early translations of Derrida to her subsequent engagement with Marxism, feminism and postcolonial studies and her recent work on human rights, the war on terror and globalization, she has proved to be one of the most vital of present-day thinkers. In this book Stephen Morton offers a wide-ranging introduction to and critique of Spivaks work. He examines her engagements with philosophers and other thinkers from Kant to (...) Paul de Man, feminists from Cixous to Helie-Lucas and literary texts by Charlotte Bronte, J. M. Coetzee, Mahasweta Devi and Jean Rhys. Spivaks thought is also situated in relation to subaltern studies. Throughout the book, Morton interrogates the materialist basis of Spivaks thought and demonstrates the ethical and political commitment which lies at the heart of her work. Stephen Morton provides an ideal introduction to the work of this complex and increasingly important thinker. (shrink)
continent. 1.3 (2011): 149-155. The world is teeming. Anything can happen. John Cage, “Silence” 1 Autonomy means that although something is part of something else, or related to it in some way, it has its own “law” or “tendency” (Greek, nomos ). In their book on life sciences, Medawar and Medawar state, “Organs and tissues…are composed of cells which…have a high measure of autonomy.”2 Autonomy also has ethical and political valences. De Grazia writes, “In Kant's enormously influential moral philosophy, autonomy (...) , or freedom from the causal determinism of nature, became prominent in justifying the human use of animals.”3 One of the oldest uses of autonomy in English is a description of the French civil war from the late sixteenth century: “Others of the…rebellion entred in counsell, whether they ought to admit the King vpon reasonable conditions, specially hauing their autonomy.”4 Life, and in particular human life, and in particular human politics, is well served by the usages of autonomy . What about the rest of reality, however? Should it be thought of, if it's even considered real and mind-independent, as pure stuff for the manipulation or decorative tastes of truly autonomous beings? We tend to think of things such as paperweights and iPhones as mere tools of human design and human use. To use them is to cause them to exist as fully and properly as they can. But according to Martin Heidegger, when a tool such as a paperweight is used, it disappears, or withdraws ( Entzug ). We are preoccupied with copying the page that the paperweight is holding down. We are concerned with an essay deadline, and the paperweight simply disappears into this general project. If the paperweight slips, or if the iPhone freezes, we might notice it. All of a sudden it becomes vorhanden (present-at-hand) rather than zuhanden (ready-to-hand).5 Yet Heidegger is unable to draw a meaningful distinction between what happens to a paperweight when it slips from the book I'm copying from and what happens to the paperweight when it presses on the still resilient pages of the thick paperback itself. Further still and related to this point, even when I am using the paperweight as part of some general task, I am not using the entirety of the paperweight as such. My project itself selects a thin slice of paperweight-being for the purposes of holding down a book. Even when it is zuhanden the paperweight is withdrawn. Graham Harman is the architect of this way of thinking.6 Harman discovered a gigantic coral reef of withdrawn entities beneath the Heideggerian submarine of Da-sein, which itself is operating at an ontological depth way below the choppy surface of philosophy, beset by the winds of epistemology, and infested with the sharks of materialism, idealism, empiricism and most of the other isms that have defined what is and what isn't for the last several hundred years. At a moment when the term ontology was left alone like a piece of well chewed old chewing gum that no one wants to have anything to do with, object-oriented ontology (OOO) has put it back on the table. The coral reef isn't going anywhere and once you have discovered it, you can't un-discover it. And it seems to be teeming with strange facts. The first fact is that the entities in the reef—we call them “objects” somewhat provocatively—constitute all there is: from doughnuts to dogfish to the Dog Star to Dobermans to Snoop Dogg. People, plastic clothes pegs, piranhas and particles are all objects. And they are all pretty much the same, at this depth. There is not much of a distinction between life and non-life (as there isn't in contemporary life science). And there is not much of a distinction between intelligence and non-intelligence (as there is in contemporary artificial intelligence theory). A lot of these distinctions are made by humans, for humans (anthropocentrism). And the concept autonomy has come into play in policing such distinctions. In this essay I shall to try to liberate autonomy for the sake of nonhumans. I shall do so by parsing carefully the title, which is taken from Hakim Bey's work The Temporary Autonomous Zone .8 First we shall explore the term autonomous . Then we shall explore what the full meaning of zone is. Finally, we shall investigate what temporary means. Each of these terms is of great value. An object withdraws from access. This means that its very own parts can't access it. Since an object's parts can't fully express the object, the object is not reducible to its parts. OOO is anti-reductionist. But OOO is also anti-holist. An object can't be reduced to its “whole” either, “reduced upwards” as it were. The whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. So we have a strange irreductionist situation in which an object is reducible neither to its parts nor to its whole. A coral reef is made of coral, fish, seaweed, plankton and so on. But one of these things on its own doesn't embody part of a reef. Yet the reef just is an assemblage of these particular parts. You can't find a coral reef in a parking lot. In this way, the vibrant realness of a reef is kept safe both from its parts and from its whole. Moreover, the reef is safe from being mistaken for a parking lot. Objects can't be reduced to tiny Lego bricks such as atoms that can be reused in other things. Nor can be reduced upwards into instantiations of a global process. A coral reef is an expression of the biosphere or of evolution, yes; but so is this sentence, and we ought to be able to distinguish between coral reefs and sentences in English. The preceding facts go under the heading of undermining . Any attempt to undermine an object—in thought, or with a gun, or with heat, or with the ravages of time or global warming—will not get at the withdrawn essence of the object. By essence is meant something very different from essentialism . This is because essentialism depends upon some aspect of an object that OOO holds to be a mere appearance of that object, an appearance-for some object. This reduction to appearance holds even if that object for which the appearance occurs is the object itself! Even a coral reef can't grasp its essential coral reefness. In essentialism, a superficial appearance is taken for the essence of a thing, or of things in general. In thinking essentialism we may be able to discern another way of avoiding OOO. This is what Harman has christened overmining .? The overminer decides that some things are more real than others: say for example human perception. Then the overminer decides that other things are only granted realness status by somehow coming into the purview of the more real entity. When I measure a photon, when I see a coral reef, it becomes what it is. But when I measure a photon, I never measure the actual photon. Indeed, since at the quantum scale to measure means “to hit with a photon or an electron beam” (or whatever), measurement, perception ( aisthesis ), and doing become the same. What I “see” are deflections, tracks in a diffusion cloud chamber or interference patterns. Far from underwriting a world of pure illusion where the mind is king, quantum theory is one of the very first truly rigorous realisms, thinking its objects as irreducibly resistant to full comprehension, by anything.9 So far we have made objects safe from being swallowed up by larger objects and broken down into smaller objects—undermining. And so far we have made objects safe from being mere projections or reflections of some supervenient entity—overmining. That's quite a degree of autonomy. Everything in the coral reef, from the fish to a single coral lifeform to a tiny plankton, is autonomous. But so is the coral reef itself. So are the heads of the coral, a community of tiny polyps. So is each individual head. Each object is like one of Leibniz's monads, in that each one contains a potentially infinite regress of other objects; and around each object, there is a potentially infinite progress of objects, as numerous multiverse theories are now also arguing. But the infinity, the uncountability, is more radical than Leibniz, since there is nothing stopping a group of objects from being an object, just as a coral reef is something like a society of corals. Each object is “a little world made cunningly” (John Donne).10 We are indeed approaching something like the political valance of autonomy . The existence of an object is irreducibly a matter of coexistence. Objects contain other objects, and are contained “in” other objects. Let us, however, explore further the ramifications of the autonomy of objects. We will see that this mereological approach (based on the study of parts) only gets at part of the astonishing autonomy of things. Yet there are some more things to be said about mereology before we move on. Consider the fact that since objects can't be undermined or overmined, it means that there is strictly no bottom object . There is no object to which all other objects can be reduced, so that we can say everything we want to say about them, hypothetically at least, based on the behavior of the bottom object. The idea that we could is roughly E.O Wilson's theory of consilience .11 Likewise, there is no object from which all things can be produced, no top object . Objects are not emanations from some primordial One or from a prime mover. There might be a god, or gods. Suppose there were. In an OOO universe even a god would not know the essential ins and outs of a piece of coral. Unlike even some forms of atheism, the existence of god (or nonexistence) doesn't matter very much for OOO. If you really want to be an atheist, you might consider giving OOO a spin. If there is no top object and no bottom object, neither is there a middle object . That is, there is no such thing as a space, or time, “in” which objects float. There is no environment distinct from objects. There is no Nature (I capitalize the word to reinforce a sense of its deceptive artificiality). There is no world, if by world we mean a kind of “rope” that connects things together.12 All such connections must be emergent properties of objects themselves. And this of course is well in line with post-Einsteinian physics, in which spacetime just is the product of objects, and which may even be an emergent property of a certain scale of object larger than 10?¹?cm).13 Objects don't sit in a box of space or time. It's the other way around: space and time emanate from objects. How does this happen? OOO tries to produce an explanation from objects themselves. Indeed, the ideal situation would be to rely on just one single object. Otherwise we are stuck with a reality in which objects require other entities to function, which would result in some kind of undermining or overmining. We shall see that we have all the fuel we need “inside” one object to have time and space, and even causality. We shall discover that rather than being some kind of machinery or operating system that underlies objects, causality itself is a phenomenon that floats ontologically “in front of” them. In so doing, we will move from the notion of autonomy and begin approaching a full exploration of the notion of zone , which was promised at the outset of this essay. Since an object is withdrawn, even “from itself,” it is a self-contradictory being. It is itself and not-itself, or in a slightly more expanded version, there is a rift between essence and appearance within an object (as well as “between” them). This rift can't be the same as the clichéd split between substance and accidents , which is the default ontology. On this view, things are like somewhat boring cupcakes with somewhat less boring sugar sprinkles on them of different colors and shapes. But on the OOO view, what is called substance is just another limited slice of an object, a way of apprehending something that is ontologically fathoms deeper. What is called substance and what is called accidence are just on the side of what this essay calls appearance. The rift (Greek, chorismos ) between essence and appearance means that an object presents us with something like what in logic is known as the Liar: some version of the sentence “This sentence is false.” The sentence is true, which means that it is a lie, which means that it is false. Or the sentence is false, which means that it is telling the truth, which means that it is true. Now logic since Aristotle has tried desperately to quarantine such beasts in small backwaters and side streets so that they don't act too provocatively.14 But if OOO holds, then at least one very significant thing in the universe is both itself and not-itself: the object. An object is p ? ¬p. To cope with this fact, we shall need some kind of paraconsistent or even fully dialetheic logic, one that is not allergic to dialetheias (double-truthed things). Yet if we accept that objects are dialetheic, p ? ¬p, we can derive all kinds of things easily from objects. Consider the fact of motion. If objects only occupy one location “in” space at any “one” time, then Zeno's paradoxes will apply to trying to think how an object moves. Yet motion seems like a basic, simple fact of our world. Either everything is just an illusion and nothing really moves at all (Parmenides). Or objects are here and not-here “at the same time.”15 This latter possibility provides the basic setup for all the motion we could wish for. Objects are not “in” time and space. Rather, they “time” (a verb) and “space.” They produce time and space. It would be better to think these verbs as intransitive rather than transitive, in the manner of dance or revolt . They emanate from objects, yet they are not the object. “How can we know the dancer from the dance?” (Yeats).16 The point being, that for there to be a question, there must be a distinction—or there must not be (p ? ¬p).17 It becomes impossible to tell: “What constitutes pretense is that, in the end, you don't know whether it's pretense or not.”18 In this notion of the emergence of time and space from an object we can begin to understand the term zone . Zone can mean belt , something that winds around something else. We talk of temperate zones and war zones. A zone is a place where a certain action is taking place: the zone winds around, it radiates heat, bullets fly, armies are defeated. To speak of an autonomous zone is to speak of a place that a certain political act has carved out of some other entity. Cynically, Tibet is called TAR, the Tibetan Autonomous Region, for this very reason. In this phrase, Region tries to emulate zone : it sounds as if the place has its own rules, but of course, it is very much under the control of China. What action is taking place? “[N]ot something that just is what it is, here and now, without mystery, but something like a quest…a tone on its way calling forth echoes and responses…water seeking its liquidity in the sunlight rippling across the cypresses in the back of the garden.”19 If as suggested earlier there is no functional difference between substance and accidence; if there is no difference between perceiving and doing; if there is no real difference between sentience and non-sentience—then causality itself is a strange, ultimately nonlocal aesthetic phenomenon. A phenomenon, moreover, that emanates from objects themselves, wavering in front of them like the astonishingly beautiful real illusion conjured in this quotation of Alphonso Lingis. Lingis's sentence does what it says, casting a compelling, mysterious spell, the spell of causality, like a demonic force field. A real illusion: if we knew it was an illusion, if it were just an illusion, it would cease to waver. It would not be an illusion at all. We would be in the real of noncontradiction. Since it is like an illusion, we can never be sure: “What constitutes pretense…” A zone is what Lingis calls a level . A zone is not entirely a matter of “free will”: this concept has already beaten down most objects into abject submission. Objects are far more threateningly autonomous, and sensually autonomous, than the Kantian version of autonomy cited in the first paragraph of this essay. A zone is not studiously decided upon by an earnest committee before it goes into action. One of its predominant features is that it is already happening . We find ourselves in it, all of a sudden, in the late afternoon as the shadows lengthen around a city square, giving rise to an uncanny sensation of having been here before. Objects emit zones. Wherever I find myself a zone is already happening, an autonomous zone. It is the nonautonomous zones that are impositions on what is already the case. Or rather, these zones are autonomous zones that exclude and police. They are brittle. Every object is autonomous, but some objects try to maintain themselves through rigidity and brittleness, like (and such as) a police state. Paradoxically, the more rigidly one tries to exclude contradiction, the more virulent become the dialetheias that are possible. I can get around “This sentence is false” by imagining that there are metalanguages that explain what counts as a sentence. Then I can decide that this isn't a real sentence. This is basically Alfred Tarski's strategy, since he invented the notion of metalanguage specifically to cope with dialetheias.20 For example we might claim that sentences such as “This sentence is false” are neither true nor false. But then you can imagine a strengthened version of the Liar such as: “This sentence is not true”; or “This sentence is neither true nor false.” And we can go on adding to the strengthened Liar if the counter-attack tries to build immunity by specifying some fourth thing that a sentence can be besides true, false, and neither true nor false: “This sentence is false, or neither true nor false, or the fourth thing.” And so on.21 It seems as if language becomes more brittle the more it tries to police the Liars of this world. Why? I believe that this increasing brittleness is a symptom of a deep fact about reality. What is this deep fact? Simply that there are objects, that these objects are withdrawn, and that they are walking contradictions. This means indeed that (as Lacan put it) “there is no metalanguage,” since a metalanguage would function as a “middle object” that gave coherency and evenness to the others.22 Since there is no metalanguage, there is no rising above the disturbing illusory play of causality. This may even have political implications: no global critique is therefore possible, and attempts to smooth out or totalize are doomed to fail. To think the zone is to think the notion of temporary , which we shall now begin to discuss in greater detail. The zone is not in time: rather it “times.” But because a zone is an emanation of an object, it is based on a wavering fragility, since objects are p ? ¬p. When an object is born, that means that it has broken free of some other object. An object can be born because it and other objects are fragile. If not, no movement would be possible. Objects contain the seeds of their own destruction, a dialetheic sentence that says something like “This sentence cannot be proved.” Kurt Gödel argues that every true system of propositions contains at least one sentence that the system cannot prove. In order to be true, the system must have a minimum incoherence. To be real, it has to be fragile. Imagine a record player. Now imagine a record called I Cannot Be Played on This Record Player . When you play it on this record player, it produces sympathetic vibrations that cause the record player to shudder apart. No matter how many defense mechanisms you build in, there will always be the possibility of at least one record that destroys the record player.23 That is what being physical is. An object is inherently fragile because it is both itself and not-itself. When the rift between appearance and essence collapses, that is called destruction, ending, death. When an object breaks, several new objects are born. An opera singer sings a loud note in tune with the resonant frequency of a wine glass. (See the movie included below.) The singing is a zone, an autonomous level of intensity, opening a rift between appearance and essence. The glass ripples—for a moment it is nakedly a glass and a not-glass—almost as if it were having an orgasm, a little death. It is caught in the rift of the singing. Then its structure can't handle the coherence of the sound waves, and it breaks. It is incoherence and inconsistency that is the mark of existence, not consistency and noncontradiction. When things break or die, they become coherent. Essence disappears into appearance. I become the memories of friends. A glass becomes a dancing wave. Instantly, there are glass fragments, new temporary autonomous zones. The fragments have broken free from the glass. They are no longer its parts, but emanate their own time and space, becoming perhaps accidental weapons as they bury themselves in my flesh. Thus Hakim Bey's instructions on creating temporary autonomous zones oscillate disturbingly between performance art and politics, circus clowning and revolution. To play with the aesthetic is to play with causality, to rip from the sensual ether emanating from things new regions, new zones. Anarchist politics is the creation of fresh objects in a reality without a top or a bottom object, or for that matter a middle object: Everything in nature is perfectly real including consciousness, there's absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only have the chains of the Law been broken, they never existed; demons never guarded the stars, the Empire never got started, Eros never grew a beard. … There is no becoming, no revolution, no struggle, no path; already you're the monarch of your own skin—your inviolable freedom waits to be completed only by the love of other monarchs: a politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky.24 Bey imagines that this is because chaos is a primordial “undifferentiated oneness-of-being.” A Parmenides or a Spinoza or a Laruelle would read this a certain way. Individual objects, or decisions to talk about this rather than that, are just maggot-like things crawling around on the surface of the giant cheese of oneness.25 Yet he also describes chaos as “Primordial uncarved block, sole worshipful monster, inert & spontaneous, more ultraviolet than any mythology.” This image is of an inconsistent object, not of an undifferentiated field. An object, indeed, that can be distinguished from other things. If not, then the first part of The Temporary Autonomous Zone , subtitled “The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism,” is a kind of onto-theology. Onto-theology proclaims that some things are more real than others. Bey, however, is writing poetically, and thus ambiguously. We are at liberty to read “undifferentiated oneness-of-being” as something like the irreducibility of a thing to its parts and so forth (undermining and overmining). This certainly seems closer to the language in the following paragraph: “There is no becoming … already you're the monarch of your own skin.”26 On this view, there is no difference between art and politics: “When ugliness, poor design & stupid waste are forced upon you, turn Luddite, throw your shoe in the works, retaliate.” Since Romanticism this has been the war cry of the vanguard artist.27 To say to is to fall prey to the tired axioms of the avant-garde, and we think we know how the game goes. But OOO is not simply a way to advocate “new and improved” versions of this shock-the-bourgeoisie boredom. Bey's text is certainly full enough of that. Rather, since causality as such is aesthetic, and since nonhumans are not that different from humans, the new approach would be to form aesthetic–causal alliances with nonhumans. These alliances would have to resist becoming brittle, whether that brittleness is right wing (authoritarianism) or left wing (the endless maze of critique). No “ism,” especially not the ultimate forms, nihilism and cynicism, is in any sense effective at this point. All forms of brittleness are based on the mistaken assumption that there is a metalanguage and that therefore “Anything you can do, I can do meta.” I will not be listing any approaches here, as Bey does. Such lists and manifestos belong to the vanguardism that no longer works. Why? Not because of some marvelous revolution in human consciousness, but because nonhumans have so successfully impinged upon human social, psychic and aesthetic space. It is the time after the end of the world. That happened in 1945, when a thin layer of radioactive materials was deposited in Earth's crust. Geology now calls it this era the Anthropocene . Ironically, this period, named after humans, is the moment at which even the most thick headed of us make decisive contact with nonhumans, from mercury in our blood to manta rays to magnesium. Richard Dawkins, Pat Robertson and Lady Gaga all have to deal with global warming and mass extinction, somehow. We now live in an Age of Asymmetry marked by a skewed, spiraling relationship between vast knowledge and vast nonhuman things—both become vaster and vaster because of one another and for the same reasons.28 This means that coming up with the perfect attitude or the perfect aesthetic prescription just won't work any more. Even the most hardened anthropocentrist now has to pay through the nose for basic food supplies, and has to use more sunscreen. Whether he knows it or acknowledges it, he is already acting with regard towards nonhumans. There is nothing special to think, no special critique that will get rid of the stains of coexistence. The problem won't fit into the well-established modern boxes, which is why the “mystical,” “spiritual” quality of Bey's prose is welcome. Of course, when I put it this way, you may immediately close off and decide that I am talking about perfect attitudes after all, or something outside of politics, or other ways that the radical left marshals to police its thinking of the nonhuman. Because that is what is really at stake in all this: the nonhuman in its coexistence with the human—bosons, gods, clouds, spirits, lifeforms, experiences, the sunlight rippling across the cypresses. Bey begins to get at this in a Latour litany in the second part of The Temporary Autonomous Zone , “The Assassins”: Pomegranate, mulberry, persimmon, the erotic melancholy of cypresses, membrane-pink shirazi roses, braziers of meccan aloes & benzoin, stiff shafts of ottoman tulips, carpets spread like make-believe gardens on actual lawns—a pavilion set with a mosaic of calligrammes—a willow, a stream with watercress—a fountain crystalled underneath with geometry— the metaphysical scandal of bathing odalisques, of wet brown cupbearers hide-&-seeking in the foliage—“water, greenery, beautiful faces.”29 This will be conveniently dismissed as orientalism. If we're never allowed to escape the crumbling prison of modernity for fear of imperialism there is truly no hope. In a similar way, the fear of anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism is very often staged from a place that just is anthropocentrism .30 Critique turns into ressentiment . An object radiates a zone that is aesthetic and therefore causal. Because objects “time” they are temporary. Not because they exist “in” time that eventually gets the better of them. Their very existence implies the possibility of their non-existence. Since objects are not consistent, they can cease to exist. But nothing, no one, will ever be able to insert a blade between appearance and existence, even thought there is a rift there. Now that's what I call autonomy. NOTES 1. John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973), 96. 2. P. B. Medawar and J. S. Medawar, The Life Science: Current Ideas in Biology (London: Wildwood House, 1977), 8. 3. David DeGrazia, Animal Rights: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 5. 4. Antony Colynet, A True History of the Civil Warres in France (London, 1591), 480. 5. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time , tr. Joan Stambaugh (Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press, 1996) 62–71. 6. Graham Harman, Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects (Peru, IL: Open Court, 2002). 7. Hakim Bey, The Temporary Autonomous Zone (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1991). 8. Graham Harman, The Quadruple Object (Ripley: Zero Books, 2011), 7–18. 9. This is not the place to get into an argument about quantum theory, but I have argued that quanta also do not endorse a world that I can't speak about because it is only real when measured. This world is that of the reigning Standard Model proposed by Niels Bohr and challenged by De Broglie and Bohm (and now the cosmologist Valentini, among others). See Timothy Morton, “Here Comes Everything: The Promise of Object-Oriented Ontology,” Qui Parle 19.2 (Spring–Summer, 2011), 163–190. 10. John Donne, Holy Sonnets 15, in The Major Works: Including Songs and Sonnets and Sermons , ed. John Carey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). 11. Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (New York: Knopf, 1998). 12. Martin Heidegger, What Is a Thing? (Washington: Regnery, 1968), 243. 13. Albert Einstein, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory (London: Penguin, 2006); Petr Horava, “Quantum Gravity at a Lifshitz Point,” arXiv:0901.3775v2 [hep-th]. 14. Graham Priest, In Contradiction (Oxford University Press, 2006), passim: the most notable recent quarantine officers have been Tarski, Russell, and Frege. 15. Priest, In Contradiction , 172–181. 16. William Butler Yeats, “Among School Children,” Collected Poems , ed. Richard J. Finneran (New York: Scribner, 1996). 17. Paul de Man, “Semiology and Rhetoric,” Diacritics 3.3 (Autumn, 1973), 27–33 (30). 18. Jacques Lacan, Le seminaire, Livre III: Les psychoses (Paris: Editions de Seuil, 1981), 48. See Slavoj Zizek, The Parallax View (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006), 206. 19. Alphonso Lingis, The Imperative (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998), 29. 20. Priest, In Contradiction , 9–27. 21. See Graham Priest and Francesco Berto, “ Dialetheism ,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2010 Edition), ed. Edward N. Zalta. 22. Jacques Lacan, Écrits: A Selection , tr. Alan Sheridan (London: Tavistock, 1977), 311. 23. The analogy can be found at length in Douglas Hofstadter, “Contracrostipunctus,” Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 75–81. 24. Bey, “ Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism ,” Temporary Autonomous Zone . 25. This is closest to the language of François Laruelle in Philosophies of Difference: A Critical Introduction to Non-Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2011) 179. 26. Bey, “ Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism ,” Temporary Autonomous Zone . 27. Peter Bürger, Theory of the Avant Garde (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984). 28. For further discussion see Timothy Morton, “From Modernity to the Anthropocene: Ecology and Art in the Age of Asymmetry,” The International Social Science Journal 209 (forthcoming). 29. Bey, “ The Assassins ,” Temporary Autonomous Zone . 30. Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010), 75–76. (shrink)
Peter Morton provides in these pages a fundamental critique of the assumptions of positivist jurisprudence and also puts forth an attack on the foundationalism of contemporary legal philosophy. His prime concern is to distinguish between the different fields of law--penal, civil, and public--taking as his starting point a careful analysis of those institutions in a democracy wherein legal language and norms are in fact generated. Offering an original, coherent, and systematic exposition of law in today's society, Morton sheds (...) new light on legal practices and relations by way of a comparison with an ideal type of legal system. (shrink)
In late August 2012, artist Paul Thomas and philosopher Timothy Morton took a stroll up and down King Street in Newtown, Sydney. They took photographs. If you walk too slowly down the street, you find yourself caught in the honey of aesthetic zones emitted by thousands and thousands of beings. If you want to get from A to B, you had better hurry up. Is there any space between anything? Do we not, when we look for such a space, (...) encounter a plenitude of other things —a slice of plaster, an old vinyl record, a flattened piece of aluminum, painted metal surfaces, nameless interstitial powder, the reflection of sky, some letters of the alphabet, roughened concrete. Between what we take to be things there exist other things, as if the universe were jammed with entities like clowns in a crowded Expressionist painting. An abyss of things that emanates from them, not a yawning void that threatens to engulf them, but a sunlit nothingness filled with dust that seems to spray out of them like dry mist sparkling with firefly swarms. In these so-called spaces, we encounter the work of causality. Look: someone painted over this crack, some sunlight rippled in a mirage, a hole appeared. When we look for causes and effects, we don't encounter a basement of efficiently whirring machinery. Rather, we encounter these in-between spaces, where we had not thought to look. What we see are stage hands moving the scenery about—they are doing it in plain sight, the best place to hide, right in front of you, in the place we call the aesthetic dimension . In Tibetan Buddhism these spaces are called bardo , which just means the between. There is no such thing as a moment of your life that is not a between, according to this view. There is the between of living. There is the between of dying. There is the between of the transition between lives. There is the between of dreaming. There is the between of meditation. There is the between of two humans holding cameras walking down a street in Sydney. The between of two buildings, a space bursting with objects as if a billion jack in the boxes had exploded at once. Some of the lids are stuck, sometimes a nose bursts out and the hinge won't open any further; at other times, the jack in the box flies right out and pulps against the wall on the opposite side of the room. Time opens up. Each surface is a poem about the past. A myriad stories begin to proliferate, as if a thing were a crisscrossing of books, a whole library of them, each page whispering parts of paragraphs and broken pieces of word. The stories tell us things—they are quite literal, look, this guy painted part of this wall, then they came and stripped off the panel and touched up the holes. Form is the past. When you look at appearance, you are looking at the past. Where is the present? And essence is the future. The hints of unknown, unseen things, the absolute impossibility of grasping everything about this plastic pipe, the way photons entering the camera lens obey a speed limit and splash onto receptors, going into and out of coherence. At the electronic level, it's quite clear that causality is aesthetic. I can't see an electron without deflecting it. Everything is a refrigerator with a light on—or off—inside. For me, for you, for this arrangement of tiles sandwiched between a door and a slab of marble. To a photon, an electron is a refrigerator with a closed door, and a light that might be on—or off—inside. How can you know whether the light is on inside? Why, you open the door of course. But then you are looking at the past. You never see the light in the refrigerator before you open the door. This future is not a predictable future that is a specific number of now-points away. You will never reach it. You will never be able to sneak up from the side and see through the refrigerator. Nor can a photon see through the refrigerator of an electron. Nor can paint see through the refrigerator of this plastic pipe. You take a photo—click—the past appears, another open refrigerator. But the thing you have just made, the photograph, the graphing of the photons—it is another thing, another story. You can read the words, but the meaning always eludes you. It always lurks just off the edge of the sentence, just at the very edge of this ragged slice of paint, just at the edge of this building, between this one and that one. Thousands of secrets, everywhere. Masks that lie and tell the truth at the same time: this pink paint is not blue paint, that's true. But the thing, the thing in itself, that paint sliding off a brush onto that pipe—it is nowhere to be seen, like a light behind a closed door. When you walk too slowly down the street, you start walking into millions of levels of pastness, levels emitted not just by the humans or the dogs and cats, but also by this garbage can, this mottled pink surface pockmarked with nail holes. You walk surrounded by as many futures as there are things. You walk, or rather you occupy a peculiar shifting ground of nowness, created by the relative motion of the past sliding against the future, not touching. You begin to realize that the present does not exist. A thing is a train station where one train is always arriving and one train is always leaving. Hundreds of train stations everywhere, hundreds of relative motions. The idea of a universal, regular, atomic sequence of instants that contains everything is absolutely ludicrous, the philosophers have known this for thousands of years, and to hide the absurdity, to get from A to B, Houston to Sydney, crossing the International Date Line without too much laughter, you have embedded piezoelectric devices in as many pieces of hardware as possible, devices in which quartz talks to electrons, making train stations where the trains seem to run on time. When you walk too slowly down the street, you begin to realize that Zeno had a point. You can seemingly divide each moment, each step, infinitesimally. So perhaps there are no moments, no steps. Or perhaps time is not a box that everything goes in. Perhaps time is, as Einstein argued after all, a way that things send out ripples. Where one house touches another house, there arise hundreds of things, hundreds of meeting places (Old English thing , meeting place). Hundreds of times. I have a thing for you. Come over here, let's do a thing. Stay in the sunlight and shadow between worlds, in the sunlit canyon between this building and that building. See how paint touches this pipe, caressing then leaving, no one will notice if a surface is left exposed, not quite filled in. See how shadows are reflected in pale cream glass—see the luminous abyss of causality spreading out before your very eyes, right in front of security. All kinds of beautiful crimes are committed right here, and as American cars keep telling you, and you never notice, OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. They are here, or rather, here is them, and now is them. Kissing in the shadow. Tim Morton Rice University. (shrink)
This expanded and revised second edition of Morton's A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind combines primary readings with detailed commentary. The book has two aims: to present the philosophy of mind from a historical perspective so that the theories in the field are seen to emerge in the process of solving problems with earlier theories; and to give the students access to the original source material together with commentaries that explain the technical terms and jargon, outline the (...) argumentative structure, and place the texts in their historical context. The second edition adds several new chapters covering recent issues in the field, and revises earlier chapters to improve the readings and update the commentaries. The readings and commentaries begin with Plato and Aristotle, and then explain the implications of the scientific revolution for philosophy of mind. The philosophies of the early modern period include Cartesian dualism, Hobbesian materialism, and Berkeley’s idealism. The second part of the book surveys the developments in philosophy of mind in the twentieth century, including behaviourism, identity theory, and functionalism. In the third part, the readings and commentary survey contemporary problems if philosophy of mind, including artificial intelligence, consciousness, intentional semantics, and mental causation. (shrink)
Lewis et al. (2011) attempted to restore the reputation of Samuel George Morton, a 19th century physician who reported on the skull sizes of different folk-races. Whereas Gould (1978) claimed that Morton’s conclusions were invalid because they reflected unconscious bias, Lewis et al. alleged that Morton’s findings were, in fact, supported, and Gould’s analysis biased. We take strong exception to Lewis et al.’s thesis that Morton was “right.” We maintain that Gould was right to reject (...) class='Hi'>Morton’s analysis as inappropriate and misleading, but wrong to believe that a more appropriate analysis was available. Lewis et al. fail to recognize that there is, given the dataset available, no appropriate way to answer any of the plausibly interesting questions about the “populations” in question (which in many cases are not populations in any biologically meaningful sense). We challenge the premise shared by both Gould and Lewis et al. that Morton’s confused data can be used to draw any meaningful conclusions. This, we argue, reveals the importance of properly focusing on the questions asked, rather than more narrowly on the data gathered. (shrink)
The analytical notion of ‘scientific style of reasoning’, introduced by Ian Hacking in the middle of the 1980s, has become widespread in the literature of the history and philosophy of science. However, scholars have rarely made explicit the philosophical assumptions and the research objectives underlying the notion of style: what are its philosophical roots? How does the notion of style fit into the area of research of historical epistemology? What does a comparison between Hacking’s project on styles of thinking and (...) other similar projects suggest? My aim in this paper is to answer these questions. Hacking has denied that his project of styles of thinking falls into the field of historical epistemology. I shall challenge his remark by tracing out the connections of the notion of style with historical epistemology and, more in general, with a tradition of thought born in France in the beginning of twentieth-century. (shrink)
In this paper, I provide the outlines of an alternative metaphilosophical orientation for Continental philosophy, namely, a form of scientific naturalism that has proximate roots in the work of Bachelard and Althusser. I describe this orientation as an “alternative” insofar as it provides a framework for doing justice to some of the motivations behind the recent revival of metaphysics in Continental philosophy, in particular its ecological-ethical motivations. In the second section of the paper, I demonstrate how ecological-ethical issues motivate new (...) metaphysicians like Bruno Latour, Jane Bennett, Timothy Morton, Ian Bogost, and Graham Harman to impute to objects real features of agency. I also try to show how their commitments lead to deep ambiguities in their metaphysical projects. In the final section, I outline a type of scientific naturalism in Continental philosophy that parallels the sort of naturalism championed by Quine, both conceptually and historically, and suggest that it might serve our ecological-ethical purposes better. (shrink)
This paper examines the role of the Morton Thiokol engineers in the decisions surrounding the launch of the Challenger, particularly with reference to an analysis of this event by Edward Tufte. The engineers at Morton Thiokol recommended against the launch of Challenger because the projected launch temperature between 26°F to 29°F was far outside their field database of successful launches. The engineers had asked for, but not received, data necessary to determine the cause of massive blow-by on the (...) launch the previous January, and they had informed their managers and NASA that continuing flights could be catastrophic if the cause of the problems with the launches was not discovered. The authors conclude that the engineers thus did what they were ethically as well as professionally obligated to do. (shrink)
En los últimos años Ian Hacking se ha dedicado a trabajar principalmente acerca de las ciencias humanas. El objetivo de este artículo es presentar algunas de las nociones acuñadas por el filósofo canadiense -fundamentalmente las de ontología histórica y nominalismo dinámico- para dicho ámbito. A par..
Popper’s methodological individualism faces some problems. It is not clear if we should interpret it as Weberian or along the lines of rational choice theory. As contrasted with what was done in Ian C. Jarvie’s admirable The Revolution in Anthropology, the theory was not addressed to concrete problem situations in social theory and does not fit well with Popper’s early ideas about methodological rules or his later ideas about metaphysical research programs. Further, its defenders–including Jarvie–interpret it in ways that give (...) it little content, or which, I think mistakenly, take its thrust to be moral. In reinterpreting this nonetheless important idea, I think that we should take our lead from Jarvie in The Revolution in Anthropology. (shrink)
The rosy dawn of my title refers to that optimistic time when the logical concept of a natural kind originated in Victorian England. The scholastic twilight refers to the present state of affairs. I devote more space to dawn than twilight, because one basic problem was there from the start, and by now those origins have been forgotten. Philosophers have learned many things about classification from the tradition of natural kinds. But now it is in disarray and is unlikely to (...) be put back together again. My argument is less founded on objections to the numerous theories now in circulation, than on the sheer proliferation of incompatible views. There no longer exists what Bertrand Russell called ‘the doctrine of natural kinds’—one doctrine. Instead we have a slew of distinct analyses directed at unrelated projects. (shrink)
I introduce two new tools in experimental neurobiology, optogenetics and DREADDs. These tools permit unprecedented control over activity in specific neurons in behaving animals. In addition to their inherent scientific interest, these tools make an important contribution to philosophy of science. They illustrate the very premises of Ian Hacking’s “microscope” argument for the relative independence of experiment from theory. This new example is important for generalizing Hacking’s argument because the background sciences and the fields of engineering producing these tools differ (...) significantly. (shrink)
Ian Rumfitt has proposed systems of bilateral logic for primitive speech acts of assertion and denial, with the purpose of ‘exploring the possibility of specifying the classically intended senses for the connectives in terms of their deductive use’ : 810f). Rumfitt formalises two systems of bilateral logic and gives two arguments for their classical nature. I assess both arguments and conclude that only one system satisfies the meaning-theoretical requirements Rumfitt imposes in his arguments. I then formalise an intuitionist system of (...) bilateral logic which also meets those requirements. Thus Rumfitt cannot claim that only classical bilateral rules of inference succeed in imparting a coherent sense onto the connectives. My system can be extended to classical logic by adding the intuitionistically unacceptable half of a structural rule Rumfitt uses to codify the relation between assertion and denial. Thus there is a clear sense in which, in the bilateral framework, the difference between classicism and intuitionism is not one of the rules of inference governing negation, but rather one of the relation between assertion and denial. (shrink)
In a recent article Mark Ian Thomas Robson argues that there is a clear contradiction between the view that possible worlds are a part of God's nature and the theologically pivotal, but philosophically neglected, claim that God is perfectly beautiful. In this article I show that Robson's argument depends on several key assumptions that he fails to justify and as such that there is reason to doubt the soundness of his argument. I also demonstrate that if Robson's argument were sound (...) then this would be a problem for all classical theists and not just those who hold the possible worlds view. (shrink)
How is a person's freedom related to his or her preferences? Liberal theorists of negative freedom have generally taken the view that the desire of a person to do or not do something is irrelevant to the question of whether he is free to do it. Supporters of the “pure negative” conception of freedom have advocated this view in its starkest form: they maintain that a person is unfree to Φ if and only if he is prevented from Φ-ing by (...) the conduct or dispositions of some other person. This definition of freedom is value-neutral in the sense that no reference is made to preferences over options or indeed to any other indicators of the values of options, either in the characterization of “Φ-ing” itself or in the characterization of the way in which Φ-ing can be constrained. (shrink)
In Eckhart, Heidegger, and the Imperative of Releasement, Ian Alexander Moore investigates Martin Heidegger’s use of releasement. Moore argues that this conceptual development was greatly influenced by Meister Eckhart’s thought. In addition to their shared use of releasement, Moore suggests, both Heidegger and Eckhart share similar philosophical strategies. The task of Moore’s monograph is to illuminate how releasement functions in Heidegger’s work and to argue that Eckhart was one of Heidegger’s central influences. This review examines Moore’s method for assessing the (...) function of releasement in Heidegger and Eckhart’s thought, while noting the distinctive and compelling aspects of this monograph. (shrink)
This article explores the proposal offered by Ian Hacking for the distinction between natural and social sciences—a proposal that he has defined from the outset as complex and different from the traditional ones. Our objective is not only to present the path followed by Hacking’s distinction, but also to determine if it constitutes a novelty or not. For this purpose, we deemed it necessary to briefly introduce the core notions Hacking uses to establish his strategic approach to social sciences, under (...) the assumption that they are less well known that the ones corresponding to his treatment of natural sciences. (shrink)
A new book by Timothy Morton, Being Ecological, is reviewed. Being Ecological is a project into the ethics and discourse that emerge between speculative realism and ecological politics. This book is intended to build on the object-oriented ontology that Morton has espoused in previous volumes, however with a greater emphasis on the current state and future of ecological discussions. The book's core methodology is to outline the failures of the current modes of discussion environmental and ecological concerns and (...) provide ways of entering into a more authentic philosophical discussion. The book differs from Morton's usual verbose and highly poetic form in favor of a more grounded and accessible entry into his large project. (shrink)
This article reviews the research of “top rebirth scientist” Ian Stevenson on spontaneous past-life memory cases, focusing on three key problems with Stevenson’s work. First, his research of entirely anecdotal case reports contains a number of errors and omissions. Second, like other reincarnation researchers, Stevenson has done no controlled experimental work on such cases; yet only such research could ever resolve whether the correspondences found between a child’s statements and a deceased person’s life exceed what we might find by chance. (...) Finally, the best reincarnation research should at least meet the standards met by typical empirical research, but Stevenson’s methodology does not even meet the standards expected of third- or fourth-year college students. -/- 1. How Controlled Experimental Work is Possible -- 2. The Anecdotal Record - 2.1 Reincarnation and Biology - 2.2 The Imad Elawar Case -- 3. Conclusion. (shrink)
In the Mead–Freeman controversy, Ian Jarvie has supported much of Derek Freeman’s critique of Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa, arguing that Samoan society was sexually repressive rather than sexually permissive, that Mead was “hoaxed” about Samoan sexual conduct, that Mead was an “absolute” cultural determinist, that Samoa was a definitive case refuting Mead’s “absolute” cultural determinism, that Mead’s book changed the direction of cultural anthropology, and that Freeman’s personal conduct during the controversy was thoroughly professional. This article calls (...) into question these empirical and theoretical arguments, often using Freeman’s own field research and publications. (shrink)
In his book The Boundary Stones of Thought, Ian Rumfitt considers five arguments in favour of intuitionistic logic over classical logic. Two of these arguments are based on reflections concerning the meaning of statements in general, due to Michael Dummett and John McDowell. The remaining three are more specific, concerning statements about the infinite and the infinitesimal, statements involving vague terms, and statements about sets.Rumfitt is sympathetic to the premisses of many of these arguments, and takes some of them to (...) be effective challenges to Bivalence, the following principle: Each statement is either true or false.However, he argues that counterexamples to Bivalence do not immediately lead to counterexamples to Excluded Middle, and so do not immediately refute classical logic; here, Excluded Middle is taken to be the following principle: For each statement A, is true.Much... (shrink)
Ian Hacking has defined himself as a philosopher in the analytic tradition. However, he has also recognized the profound influence that Michel Foucault had on much of his work. In this article I analyse the specific imprint of certain works by Foucault—in particular Les mots et les choses—in two of Hacking’s early works: Why Does Language Matter to Philosophy? and The Emergence of Probability. I propose that these texts not only share a debt of Foucauldian thought, but also are part (...) of what I believe is Hacking’s central project: the analysis of the historical and situated conditions of possibility for the emergence of concepts and of objects, inspired also by the French philosopher’s thought. (shrink)
. In my response to Ian Barbour's criticisms, I first argue for the anthropological dimensions and contextuality of any theology. Next I examine and criticize Barbour's thesis that I am an in‐compatibilist about divine action. Finally I illustrate the fact that I see genuine opportunities for a dialogue between theologians and scientists without apologetics, category mistakes, or relegating theology to the fringes of science, by pointing to evolutionary explanations of religion.
This deep presence of Foucault’s influence across contemporary theoretical landscapes signals a need for self-reflectiveness that has largely (though not entirely) been missing in contemporary uses of Foucault. While scholarship in a Foucauldian vein is obviously alive and well, scholarship on Foucauldian methodology is not. This paper develops a distinction between two methodological features of Foucault’s work that deserve to be disentangled: I parse the methods (e.g., genealogy, archaeology) and concepts (e.g., discipline, biopower) featured in Foucault’s texts. Following this, I (...) use the terms of this distinction to develop a detailed survey of two quite different contemporary uses of Foucault. My two test cases for comparison are the works of Giorgio Agamben and Ian Hacking, two contemporary theorists who demonstrate a productive engagement with central features of Foucault’s work. (shrink)
This paper examines Ian Hacking's arguments in favor of entity realism. It shows that his examples from science do not support his realism. Furthermore, his proposed criterion of experimental use is neither sufficient nor necessary for conferring a privileged status on his preferred unobservables. Nonetheless his insight is genuine; it may be most profitably seen as part of a more general effort to create a space for a new form of scientific and philosophical certainty, one that does not require foundations.
In the first part of chapter 2 of book II of the Physics Aristotle addresses the issue of the difference between mathematics and physics. In the course of his discussion he says some things about astronomy and the ‘ ‘ more physical branches of mathematics”. In this paper I discuss historical issues concerning the text, translation, and interpretation of the passage, focusing on two cruxes, the first reference to astronomy at 193b25–26 and the reference to the more physical branches at 194a7–8. In (...) section I, I criticize Ross’s interpretation of the passage and point out that his alteration of has no warrant in the Greek manuscripts. In the next three sections I treat three other interpretations, all of which depart from Ross's: in section II that of Simplicius, which I commend; in section III that of Thomas Aquinas, which is importantly influenced by a mistranslation of, and in section IV that of Ibn Rushd, which is based on an Arabic text corresponding to that printed by Ross. In the concluding section of the paper I describe the modern history of the Greek text of our passage and translations of it from the early twelfth century until the appearance of Ross's text in 1936. (shrink)
I use Ian Hacking 's views to explore ways of classifying people, exploiting his distinction between indifferent kinds and interactive kinds, and his accounts of how we 'make up' people. The natural kind/essentialist approach to indifferent kinds is explored in some depth. I relate this to debates in psychiatry about the existence of mental illness, and to educational controversies about the credentials of learner classifications such as 'dyslexic'. Claims about the 'existence' of learning disabilities cannot be given a clear, simple (...) and unambiguous interpretation. In particular I show that science cannot deliver a definitive taxonomy of learner categories, and that this has important implications for teachers and policy makers. (shrink)
Ian Hunter's essay pursues several lines of argument, one explicit and the others not. The first is that of an historian correcting the mistaken view among Kantian commentators that Kant's conception of international justice had displaced Vattel's as the dominant one in nineteenth- and twentieth-century international thought. The second, which is not acknowledged, is that of a philosopher entering a debate over the relative cogency of the two conceptions. To accomplish this unacknowledged philosophical task, Hunter exaggerates the importance of Kant's (...) metaphysics in his treatment of international justice and understates the element of raison d'état in Vattel's casuistical ethics. The subtext in both lines of argument is criticism, political rather than either historical or philosophical, of Kant's effort to articulate principles of international justice, together with implicit advocacy of Vattelian ethics as a corrective to Kantian ideology. (shrink)
Lewis et al. (2011) attempted to restore the reputation of Samuel George Morton, a 19th century physician who reported on the skull sizes of different folk-races. Whereas Gould (1978) claimed that Morton's conclusions were invalid because they reflected unconscious bias, Lewis et al. alleged that Morton's findings were, in fact, supported, and Gould's analysis biased. We take strong exception to Lewis et al.’s thesis that Morton was “right.” We maintain that Gould was right to reject (...) class='Hi'>Morton's analysis as inappropriate and misleading, but wrong to believe that a more appropriate analysis was available. Lewis et al. fail to recognize that there is, given the dataset available, no appropriate way to answer any of the plausibly interesting questions about the “populations” in question (which in many cases are not populations in any biologically meaningful sense). We challenge the premise shared by both Gould and Lewis et al. that Morton's confused data can be used to draw any meaningful conclusions. This, we argue, reveals the importance of properly focusing on the questions asked, rather than more narrowly on the data gathered. (shrink)
Charles Taylor's work has recently taken a religious turn, with Taylor becoming more explicit about his own religious faith and its influence on his thinking. Ian Fraser offers a systematic, critical exploration of the nature of Taylor's Catholicism as it appears in his writings. This reply to Fraser endorses his belief in the importance of looking carefully at Taylor's religious views. However, it raises doubts about some of Fraser's particular arguments and conclusions, and aims to foster a clearer understanding of (...) Taylor's religious beliefs. It poses questions for Fraser about what Taylor is setting out to do in A Catholic Modernity?; why he invokes the figure of Matteo Ricci; whether he believes that acts of practical benevolence are impossible without a religious foundation; and whether his religiously-inspired pluralism suffers an inherent contradiction. (shrink)