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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
From the time of its clearest origins with Pascal, the theory of probabilities seemed to offer means by which the study of human affairs might be reduced to the same kind of mathematical discipline that was already being achieved in the study of nature. Condorcet is to a great extent merely representative of the philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries who were led on by the prospect of developing moral and political sciences on the pattern of the natural sciences, (...) specifically physics. The development of economics and the social sciences, from the eighteenth century onwards, may be said in part to have fulfilled and in a manner to have perpetuated these ambitions. In so far as the new sciences have been susceptible of mathematical treatment, this has not been confined to the calculus of probabilities. But there is a temptation at every stage to ascribe fundamental significance and universal applicability to each latest mathematical device that is strikingly useful or illuminating on its first introduction. It is the theory of games that enjoys this position at present, and shapes the common contemporary conception of the very same problems that preoccupied Condorcet. (shrink)
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 argue that folk psychology does not serve the purpose of facilitating prediction of others' behaviour but if facilitating cooperative action. (See my subsequent book *The Importance of Being Understood*.
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)