Until recently, Albert Einstein's complaints in his later years about the intelligibility of Quantum Mechanics often led philosophers and physicists to dismiss him as, essentially, an old fool in his dotage. Happily, this kind of thing is now coming to an end as philosophers and mathematicians of the caliber of Karl Popper and Roger Penrose conspicuously point out the continuing conceptual difficulties of quantum theory [cf. Penrose's searching discussion in..
Mankind soon learn to make interested uses of every right and power which they possess, or may assume. The public money and public liberty...will soon be discovered to be sources of wealth and dominion to those who hold them; distinguished, too, by this tempting circumstance, that they are the instrument, as well as the object of acquisition. With money we will get men, said Caesar, and with men we will get money. Nor should our assembly be deluded by the integrity (...) of their own purposes, and conclude that these unlimited powers will never be abused, because themselves are not disposed to abuse them. They should look forward to a time, and that not a distant one, when a corruption in this, as in the country from which we derive our origin, will have seized the heads of government, and be spread by them through the body of the people; when they will purchase the voices of the people, and make them pay the price. (shrink)
The title of The Rediscovery of the Mind suggests the question "When was the mind lost?" Since most people may not be aware that it ever was lost, we must also then ask "Who lost it?" It was lost, of course, only by philosophers, by certain philosophers. This passed unnoticed by society at large. The "rediscovery" is also likely to pass unnoticed. But has the mind been rediscovered by the same philosophers who "lost" it? Probably not. John Searle is an (...) analytic philosopher, with some of the same notions as the positivists and behaviorists who rejected consciousness and "lost" the mind in the first place, but he also does not sound like the kind of reductionist who would have joined that crowd. His views, indeed, are sensible enough, and some of his insights so important, that it is a shame to find his thought profoundly limited by some of the same mistakes and prejudices that ruined philosophy, and not just philosophy of mind, under the influence of those positivists and behaviorists. There is enough of genuine value in his treatment, that it can easily be taken up and, with relatively slight modification, added to what is of permanent value in the history of philosophy. (shrink)
The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are still best selling introductions to the ideas of personal freedom and of the free market. As literature they may have drawbacks, but they are compelling "reads," which is certainly what Rand would have wanted. Rand's passionate and moralistic tone, while off-putting to many, is nevertheless probably a real part of her appeal and is no less than an equal and opposite reaction to the self-righteousness that is still characteristic of leftist rhetoric. Few writers convey (...) an irresistible ferocity of convictions as Rand does. To many, including the present writer, raised and indoctrinated with the standard disparagements of capitalism, a novel like Atlas Shrugged can produce something very much like a Conversion Experience. At the same time, the harsh certainty of an autodidact and self-made person, and the high handed authoritarian manner of Rand's personality, worked against her case, her cause, and her life. (shrink)
The most important philosopher of science since Francis Bacon, Sir Karl Popper finally solved the puzzle of scientific method, which in practice had never seemed to conform to the principles or logic described by Bacon -- see The Great Devonian Controversy, by Martin J. S. Rudwick, for a case study of Baconian rhetoric and expectations being contradicted by actual practice and results. Instead of scientific knowledge being discovered and verified by way of inductive generalizations, leaping from perceptual data into blank (...) minds, in terms that go back to. (shrink)
Using Jakob Fries's epistemological scheme of Wissen, Glaube, and Ahndung, "Understanding, Belief, and Aesthetic Sense," (to use Kent Richter's translation), Ruldolf Otto expands the meaning of Ahndung beyond the merely aesthetic by introducing the category of numinosity, which is the quality of sacred or holy objects, persons, or experiences in religion. Although Otto is often classified as a theoretician of mysticism, "numinosity" is not fundamentally a theory of mystical experiences, because every practionier of any religion experiences certain things as sacred (...) to that religion. The "sacred" and the "holy," and the "unclean" or "polluted," are categories that apply (non-metaphorically) to peculiarly religious objects in an entirely universal and cross-cultural manner. (shrink)
Certainly one of the greatest philosophers of the 19th century, Schopenhauer seems to have had more impact on literature (e.g. Thomas Mann) and on people in general than on academic philosophy. Perhaps that is because, first, he wrote very well, simply and intelligibly (unusual, we might say, for a German philosopher, and unusual now for any philosopher), second, he was the first Western philosopher to have access to translations of philosophical material from India, both Vedic and Buddhist, by which he (...) was profoundly affected, to the great interest of many, and, third, his concerns were with the dilemmas and tragedies, in a religious or existential sense, of real life, not just with abstract philosophical problems. As.. (shrink)
Amid all the talk about the "Collective Unconscious" and other sexy issues, most readers are likely to miss the fact that C.G. Jung was a good Kantian. His famous theory of Synchronicity, "an acausal connecting principle," is based on Kant 's distinction between phenomena and things-in-themselves and on Kant 's theory that causality will not operate among thing-in-themselves the way it does in phenomena. Thus, Kant could allow for free will among things-in-themselves, as Jung allows for synchronicity. Next to Kant, (...) Jung is close to. (shrink)
Leonard Nelson, described by Karl Popper as an "outstanding personality," produced a great quantity of work in a tragically short life. The quantity and the tragedy may have both happened because Nelson was an insomniac who worked day and night and exhausted himself into a fatal case of pneumonia.
"...Let us face facts: the people have triumphed -- or the slaves, the mob, the herd, whatever you wish to call them -- and if the Jews brought it about, then no nation ever had a more universal mission on earth. The lords are a thing of the past, and the ethics of the common man is completely triumphant. I don't deny that this triumph might be looked upon as a kind of blood poisoning, since it has resulted in a (...) mingling of the races, but there can be no doubt that the intoxication has succeeded. The 'redemption' of the human race (from the lords, that is) is well under way; everything is rapidly becoming Judaized, or Christianized, or mob-ized -- the word makes no difference....". (shrink)
A few miles farther on, we came to a big, gravelly roadcut that looked like an ashfall, a mudflow, glacial till, and fresh oatmeal, imperfectly blended. "I don't know what this glop is," [Kenneth Deffeyes] said, in final capitulation. "You need a new geologist. You need a Californian.".
Among these prophets, Heidegger was perhaps the most unlikely candidate to influence. But his influence was far-reaching, far wider than his philosophical seminar at the University of Marburg, far wider than might seem possible in light of his inordinately obscure book, Sein und Zeit of 1927, far wider than Heidegger himself, with his carefully cultivated solitude and unconcealed contempt for other philosophers, appeared to wish. Yet, as one of Heidegger's most perceptive critics, Paul Hühnerfeld, has said: "These books, whose meaning (...) was barely decipherable when they appeared, were devoured. And the young German soldiers in the Second World War who died somewhere in Russia or Africa with the writings of Hödlerlin and Heidegger in their knapsacks can never be counted."... What Heidegger did was to give philosophical seriousness, professorial respectability, to the love affair with unreason and death that dominated so many Germans in this hard time... And Heidegger's life -- his isolation, his peasant-like appearance, his deliberate provincialism, his hatred of the city -- seemed to confirm his philosophy, which was a disdainful rejection of modern urban rationalist civilization, an eruptive nihilism. (shrink)
The references to "Chicago" (meaning, of course, the University of Chicago) Schools of economics and history of religion, and the quotation of Allan Bloom, who may be considered to belong to a Chicago school of philosophy, may suggest a general endorsement of "Chicago" ideas. This is not the case.
In the traditional logic of the syllogism, Aristotelian logic, there are four kinds of syllogisms, Darapti, Felapton, Bramantip, and Fesapo, that are often said to be invalid in modern logic. Elementary logic students may even simply be told that they really are invalid. This is, of course, a distortion; but it is instructive to consider why this has happened and why it is that the syllogisms are considered invalid.