When William James spoke about belief to the philosophy clubs of Yale and Brown in 1896, he forewarned his audience of the nature of his comments by describing them as a “sermon on justification by faith” (James 13), titling the talk “The Will to Believe.” Although there is disagreement about the substance of James’s remarks, it is fairly innocuous to assert that James thought they were appropriate because of the prevalence of the “logical spirit” of (...) many of those who practiced academic philosophy that led them to the conclusion that religious faith was untenable. Aware of his audience, James presents his view on the permissibility of religious faith on the terms and grounds familiar to professional philosophers. .. (shrink)
John L. Austin believed that in the illocution he had discovered a fundamental element of our speech, the understanding of which would disclose the significance of all kinds of linguistic action: not only proposing marriage and finding guilt, but also stating, reporting, conjecturing, and all the rest of the things men can do linguistically. 2 We claim that the illocution, the full-fledged speech-act, is central to religious utterances as well, and that it provides a perspicuity in understanding them not elsewhere (...) provided in the work of recent philosophy of religion. In particular we hold that understanding religious talk through the illocution shows the way in which the representative and affective elements are connected to one another and to the utterance as a whole. There may, further, be features in such an analysis which can be extended to other forms of discourse than religious. (shrink)
Biographical Information The author is a Professor of Physics at New York University. His main research interests are in statistical mechanics and quantum ﬁeld theory. He is co-author with Roberto Fern´andez and J¨.
This article follows Jacques Derrida, who follows the animal-machine. In his lecture The Animal That Therefore I Am, Derrida could easily have swapped “the animal” for “the machine” . In fact, throughout his readings of René Descartes, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Lacan, and Emmanuel Levinas, the machine emerges right alongside the animal. In defining the limits of the human, these thinkers present the animal and the machine together in order to elevate the human. Unlike the human, who responds, the animal-machine merely (...) reacts. The animal-machine may approximate certain human actions, but it can never, according to Descartes, in Derrida’s words, “respond to our questions” and will always suffer from a “lack .. (shrink)
Originally published in 1991, The Laboratory of the Mind: Thought Experiments in the Natural Sciences, is the first monograph to identify and address some of the many interesting questions that pertain to thought experiments. While the putative aim of the book is to explore the nature of thought experimental evidence, it has another important purpose which concerns the crucial role thought experiments play in Brown’s Platonic master argument.In that argument, Brown argues against naturalism and empiricism (Brown 2012), (...) for mathematical Platonism (Brown 2008), and from the Platonist-friendly, abstract universals posited by the Dretske-Tooley-Armstrong (DTA) account of the laws of nature to a more general, physical Platonism. The Laboratory of the Mind is where he takes this final step. (shrink)
Gibson distinguishes among the properties of environmental things their affordances, which he identifies in terms of that which a thing offers an animal for good or ill. In large part, this article considers his conception of environmental affordances and visually perceiving them, with special attention to the concept of affordance that he exercises in the presentation of his conception. Particular emphasis is placed here on the distinction between the affordance properties of things themselves, and what it is that these things (...) afford an animal, what they enable owing to those properties, and the proposal that the affordances of environmental things are not experiential; they are not properties of the perceptual experiences produced in the process of perceiving them. This does not deny that experiences themselves too possess affordance properties — for example, they are such as to enable specific behaviors — but these affordances are not that which is perceived, according to Gibson, when engaged in the activity of straightforward perceiving. The stream of perceptual experience that is part and product of the latter activity is at all points outwardly directed, not directed upon itself. (shrink)
The Science Wars have not involved any violence, nor even threats of violence. Thus the label “wars” for this series of discussions, mostly one-sided and mostly located within the academy, is something of an overblown metaphor. Nonetheless, I will suggest that there are some respects in which the metaphor is appropriate. The Science Wars involve territory, albeit a metaphorical kind of territory. They inspire work that can be best interpreted as ideological, a result of disciplinary interests. Moreover, fellow participants in (...) the wars and others reward that ideological work.My goal in this is to display efforts to maintain a discipline's epistemic authority, the recognition that members of that discipline have legitimate claims to knowledge on a subject. The central section of the paper takes the form of a discussion of one recent contribution to the Science Wars, James Robert Brown's Who Rules in Science? My argument is at least somewhat generalizable beyond this book, and it therefore points to interesting phenomena related to epistemic authority. (shrink)
Two topics dear to James Robert Brown are discussed, and brought together. First, the applicability of mathematics: it is claimed that applicability offers an a posteriori justification of our mathematical beliefs, on a reflective, rather holistic level in a two level hierarchy. Second, the answer to Benacerraf’s dilemma. A non-empirical mathematical property M is realized in empirical reality through realizers, concrete numerical patterns. The realizers have been interacting causally with human thinkers throughout evolution, which has, through a kind (...) of evolutionary abstraction process, left a proto-representation as of M in human mental apparatus. The innate proto-representation, and its ontogenetic avatars, guide actual humans in recognizing instances of M in the empirical reality. But does the evolutionary production of mechanisms for M-representation track truth? Hopefully yes; the applicability and indispensability of math are a testimony to the truth-tracking. (shrink)