The university today finds itself in a global state of emergency, at once financial, military and ecological. Teaching must assume this emergency as premise and responsibility: it must consider the grounds of the classroom, both figurative and literal, and generate emergent lines of inquiry that address the pressing global and local situation. For us, that means that teaching must take the university’s grounds of supposedly universal knowledge to be constitutively unstable and to require a reflexive teaching method that puts in (...) question disciplinary fields and discursive modalities of knowledge. And it must take in the physical grounds of the university too—because local space is increasingly articulated by technocapital interests that are fully implicated in this global state of emergency. Thus, we do not seek stability amidst such turbulence, but rather a seismotic overturning of the grounds of the university or, rather, a returning to its ground, through the deepened sense of purpose and place that ‘teaching the emergency’ provides. (shrink)
The standard view is that Shakespeare depicts alcoholic consumption as good in moderation, but bad when used to excess. Although he illustrates in Falstaff and others alcohol’s debilitating effects, Shakespeare also treats occasional drunkenness at festive events—christenings, wakes, church ales—as benign and even salutary. Such occasions are part and parcel of the pre-Reformation tolerance of social drunkenness, what I call good Christian drinking. The REED documents attest to the church’s accommodation of drinking at parish festivities, particularly at ales. I argue (...) that Shakespeare’s plays permit and even encourage social drunkenness as a lubricant for fellowship—especially if the drinking is done in the company of fellow believers. Engaging this serious Reformation controversy with comic levity, Shakespeare shows a taste that is remarkably latitudinarian concerning the religious tolerance of social drunkenness. (shrink)
This volume explores the versatility of the concept of pneuma in philosophical and medical theories in the wake of Aristotle’s physics. It offers fourteen separate studies of how the concept of pneuma was used in a range of physical, physiological, psychological, cosmological and ethical inquiries. The focus is on individual thinkers or traditions and the specific questions they sought to address, including early Peripatetic sources, the Stoics, the major Hellenistic medical traditions, Galen, as well as Proclus in Late Antiquity (...) and John Zacharias Aktouarios in the early 14th century. Building on new scholarly approaches and on recent advancements in our understanding of Graeco-Roman philosophy and medicine, the volume prompts a profound re-evaluation of this fluid and adaptable, but crucially important, substance, in antiquity and beyond. (shrink)
Two qualitative data sets from 2010 and 2016 are compared to explore the respondents’ perceptions of peacebuilding in the wake of the 1998 Belfast Agreement and the ensuing peace process. Fifty-two Civil Society Organization leaders from Londonderry/Derry were interviewed during the summer of 2010 to delve into their perceptions of the BA, and building cross community contact through peacebuilding and reconciliation processes. The International Fund for Ireland and the European Union Peace Fund funded these respondents CSO peacebuilding projects. They (...) held many viewpoints on peacebuilding. Seven grassroots peacebuilders from Derry/Londonderry were interviewed in 2016. These peacebuilders revealed that Northern Ireland has a long way to go to build an authentic and genuine peace. A key stumbling block to the Northern Ireland peace process is heightened societal segregation that results from the BA institutionalizing sectarianism, and the recent fallout from Brexit. Politicians continue to refuse addressing the past that has long-term implications for peace. (shrink)
The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze has, in recent decades, occupied the attention of Anglophone continental philosophy and cultural theory largely in light of the perceived political significance of his work. In particular, his analysis of capitalism in the texts co-authored with Felix Guattari, and his articulation of the logic of control — a logic which, he claimed, could be found emerging in the wake of those societies that Michel Foucault had characterized according to the logic of discipline — have (...) served as the basis of an increasingly large body of extension and commentary. In this essay, I intend to highlight one particularly important aspect of the logic of control: the mechanism by which control captures practices of communication. This mechanism can be described, I argue, by reference to a concept that is familiar to statisticians, economists, and practitioners of ‘numerical’ social sciences: exogeneity. Additionally, I want to challenge the notion that antagonism to the logic of control can coincide with the affirmation of logics of ‘plurality’ or ‘multitude.’ The logic of control, insofar as it relies on exogeneity, is already a logic of radical plurality. (shrink)
In the wake of the numerous translations of Badiou’s works that have appeared in recent years, including the translation of the second volume of his major work, Logic of Worlds: Being and Event II, there has been a marked increase in interest in the philo- sophical underpinnings of his oeuvre. The papers brought together in this volume provide a range of incisive and critical engagements with Badiou’s philosophical heritage and the philosophical prob- lems his work engages, both directly and (...) indirectly. Our aim is to offer a balanced assessment of the ways in which Badiou responds to various philosophical thinkers, arguments and traditions, and of the arguments that he employs to do so. (shrink)
Whether the policies of the Thatcher and Reagan years brought any overall economic benefits is doubtful; that they have had high social costs is now quite evident. The unfettered pursuit of self-interest has weakened social bonds and led to social decay and disintegration on a scale which is causing alarm right across the political spectrum. Until recently such concerns were voiced only from the left, but now the right is also waking up to them: witness, for example, the Conservatives' recent (...) and mercifully inept `back to basics' campaign. Communitarians like Alasdair MacIntyre, Michael Walzer, Charles Taylor and Michael Sandel, have attempted to articulate these ideas in philosophical terms and develop a critique of `liberal' individualist social theory on this basis. Against this background, their view that community is a reality and a value has great intuitive appeal. However, the more one goes into it, the more problematic it seems to become. (shrink)
continent. 1.2 (2011): 136-140. In early 2011, Cow Heavy Books published The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature , a compendium of catalog 'blurbs' for non-existent desired or ideal texts. Along with Erinrose Mager, I edited the project, in a process that was more like curation as it mainly entailed asking a range of contemporary writers, theorists, and text-makers to send us an entry. What resulted was a creative/critical hybrid anthology, a small book in which each page opens (...) to a new iteration of textual desire. These texts explore the material possibilities of the book. Somewhat parallel to the call of N. Katherine Hayles who, in her book Writing Machines , urges literary theorists to take up the practice of Medium Specific Analysis (to account for the way the medium in which it is presented conditions or at least bears on a literary text). I see in the imagined works of The Official Catalog a call for the innovative writers of today to become Medium-Responsive. This would mean thinking through the specific (materially constrained) possibilities offered by the media in which texts are presented, and in thinking of the literary text as a kind of art in the greater context of other arts and the book as a medium situated within the context of many other media. In doing so, the contemporary writer refutes the chorus of critics who lament the death of the book by consistently reinvigorating literary innovation. The following are selections from The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature that show possible paths for (thinking about) new writing that engages with its medium. —Ben Segal, Editor THE CUBE Even the most radical non-linear texts have tended to exploit or subvert only the sequential possibilities of print—from the continuous loop of Joyce's Finnegans Wake to the shuffled cards of Marc Saporta's Composition No. 1 —but The Cube takes such multiplicities to an entirely new level. Set in a grid, the book's words can be read conventionally, across the page, as well as down each column—with either route making complete grammatical sense. But they can also be read as stacked strata and mined like lexical core samples through the layered pages of the book. Each path tells the same story from a different perspective (the narrative, naturally, hinges on the potential outcomes of a throw of cubed dice). By opening up the z-axis to reading in this way, The Cube recognizes the book as a three-dimensional sculptural space. Taking its lead from Armand Schwerner's (If Personal) and Raymond Queneau's Cent mille milliards de poèmes , The Cube reads like a experiment by Christian Bök precision printed by Emily McVarish. Craig Dworkin is the editor, most recently, of The Consequence of Innovation: 21st Century Poetics (Roof Books, 2008), The Sound of Poetry/The Poetry of Sound , with Marjorie Perloff (U. Chicago Press, 2009), and Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing , with Kenneth Goldsmith (Northwestern UP, 2010). He teaches at the University of Utah. HE GOES In He Goes , we read notes, letters and e-mails from a scholar father to his novelist daughter. We read of the father's musings on Beckett, on Pinter, on Anne Frank; his description of a woman hanging laundry from a line. We read about his journey toward dying, followed by a brief, third person account of his death, and his obituary. Then a long series of blank pages that demand to be read in real time, non-sentence by non-sentence, blank page by blank page. Finally—and it is here that this peculiar little book begins to soar—the dead father writes to his as-of-yet-still-living daughter. He does not write from death. He does not write from life. The words unprint, unstamp, unkindle. Still, they require no translation. The father "writes" (for lack of a better word) about the serendipitous, the commonplace; he recommends another book. He jokes. He asks his daughter how her stomach is. He says forget about presence in absence, darling; screw words as memorial and the guys in garbage cans and loss as redemption and I can't go on I must go on. He goes, "Love, Fodder." He goes, "incidentally." He goes, "I thought you might like to know." Elizabeth Graver is the author of a story collection, Have You Seen Me? , and three novels: Unravelling ; The Honey Thief ; and Awake . Her work has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories , Best American Essays , and Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards . She teaches at Boston College. THE PAPER ARCHIVIST A stunning package and a triumph of imagination, The Paper Archivist at times looks to be less a book than an abstract expressionist painting. Softly bound, its contents unfold to a single sheet of uneven thickness and texture—a canvas splattered with colored lines, stickers, broken sentences, and nonsense pictographs. But by following the directions to fold, dip, smell, rub, scratch, and tear the sheet according to the contingencies of the weather and using only the objects at hand, the reader slowly brings the forces hidden in the noise into a glorious sculptural convergence, processing a different story and shape each time. This is the rare book that continues to stir, whirl, and pop on every new reading. Sean Higgins blogs at BOMBlog where he is responsible for the column Volumes and Territories, as well as Ghost Island , a fledgling collaborative intellectual collective. THE SLOW BOOK The Slow Book , written by an anonymous author at the dawn of literacy, on a minor planet (otherwise notable only as the source of that exceptionally hardy, not very tasty grain called “shef” sowed on hostile planets as an early step to colonization), and encoded into a series of punctures on a strip of copper coiled inside a clever device, something between a player piano and an old-fashioned film projector, is being released into print, as was the author’s intention, at a rate of one word per century (local time). Each word is, across the Forty Galaxies, agreed to be uncannily apt for the century in which it appears—even “of,” in a century during which the highest value was attached to fidelity, whether to ideals, worlds, or romantic love; even “the,” which governed two centuries, one extraordinarily materialistic, during which advances in propulsion and navigation accelerated the exchange of exceptional objects between the remotest planets of the Forty, and one in which the central concern, both of philosophers and the common man, was whether, in an age of rapidly proliferating hypothetical worlds, anyone or anything concretely existed at all. Even those words published long before interstellar contact can be seen in retrospect to have transgalactic pertinence. As a result, attempts to abstract the machine from its publishers, Hobson & Hui, in order to “predict the future” for insight or gain by “fast- forwarding” the copper strip have been many and ingenious. While, in centuries of skepticism (“maybe”), or of unrest (“go”) the book has been nearly forgotten, in others it seems to haunt every thought, every deed, despite the fact that the subject of The Slow Book is still unclear. So far only a few sentences exist in print; everyone knows them, can quote them, offer the standard exegeses and assorted heresies; yet certainties are the stuff of adolescence; mature readers are forced to acknowledge that these sentences are probably only a preamble to the main argument. They contain no proper nouns, nor can we identify any definite theme. There is even disagreement about their tone, whether coolly ironic, as some insist, or ardent. The appearance of an unusual grammatical case, sometimes called the future pluperfect continuous, used to describe events that at some future point will have always been true (but are not yet)—hitherto known to appear only in the synthetic dogmas of the Thanatographical Society, and in certain highly circumscribed religious contexts—has suggested to some scholars that the Slow Book was originally intended for ritual use, but the proximity of the usage to a term designating a small hand plow that, as Pott and Mielcke have convincingly shown, would have borne a distinctly obscene double meaning in its culture of origin in the author’s time, argues otherwise. It is likewise unclear whether the situation that seems to be—with teasing incompleteness—sketched out in these few lines is intended as an illustration of general principles, a case study, a dramatic scene, or an extended metaphor. In short, we have no idea what The Slow Book is about. In our own time, we believe that it is almost certainly a work of fiction, but that may be because we live in the century of “if”. In each age, perhaps, we see the book we most need to read. Some have dared to suggest that the metal strip is blank until, with millennial fanfare, it advances into its new position, that no ur-text exists, that the book itself is brought into being—written—by our need. But that is exactly the sort of thing we would believe, in 7645. Shelley Jackson is the author of the story collection The Melancholy of Anatomy , the novel Half Life , and hypertexts including Patchwork Girl . The recipient of a Howard Foundation grant, a Pushcart Prize, and the 2006 James Tiptree Jr Award, she has also written and illustrated several children's books, including The Old Woman and the Wave ; Sophia, the Alchemist's Dog ; and Mimi's Dada Catifesto . Her stories and essays have appeared in Conjunctions , McSweeney's , The Paris Review , and Cabinet Magazine . In 2004 she launched her project SKIN , a story published in tattoos on 2095 volunteers. THE BOOK OF SOUNDS The Book of Sounds is just that: a book of sounds made when letters are construed in new ways to bring forth out of the alphabet new forms of speech. A book meant to be read out loud, The Book of Sounds is not unlike Laurie Anderson's O Superman or Brian Eno's Music for Airports in its attempt to make music out of the most primary and simplest of methods. It breaks language down to its barest bones and makes out of the page a drum that has never before been beaten upon. Peter Markus is the author of a novel, Bob, or Man on Boat (Dzanc Books) as well as two books of short fiction, Good, Brother and The Singing Fish , both of which were published by Calamari Press. A new collection of stories, We Make Mud , is now available from Dzanc Books. PARADISE OF THE BLIND by Celan Solen Although the reclusive Celan Solen published his first and only book in 1963—paying out-of-pocket for a limited edition of the slim collection No One May Have the Same Knowledge Again —he remained in American obscurity for almost three decades. In 1992 a micro-press in Istanbul brought out No One in Turkish. A German translation followed in 1995. Soon it became clear in literary circles Solen was a world-class (if highly unclassifiable) artist—lyrical, dense, enigmatic—who could undo the conventional short story in 397 words by inventing impossible worlds housed in impossible whirls (in “Small Sadnesses,” a single chartreuse tree frog in Borneo unknowingly holds time together by its very presence in the universe, while each letter of its tale refers, not to itself, but to the one preceding it in the alphabet). By his disappearance last year, Solen was considered master by a generation of writers and critics (except, alas, for those gentlemen in the Swedish Academy). Imagine, then, that generation’s delight at the discovery, locked away in the author’s safe-deposit box, of his second and final composition. Had Lynch’s Lost Highway been book instead of film, and had it been penned by Beckett at his least certain, revised by Barthelme at his most formally deranged, and typeset by Derrida at his most semiotically catastrophic, the result might have been something like Paradise of the Blind : interlacing narratives of a man composed of borrowed organs (whose most cheerless and difficult to locate, god, could only have been invented by an empty heart), a nonexistent medieval painting blamed for the ruin of future hope, and the spread of a philosophy that holds earth a mistake constantly recurring in the dream of a fish lying on the floor of the Atlantic (if the fish wakes, our world winks off)—all contained in a text packed with typed-over passages, torn postcards, poems that can be deciphered only when held up to a mirror, pages ornamented with trompe-l'œil paperclips and coffee stains and buzzing houseflies, some busy with illegible runes that dissolve when exposed to light, three that smell like roses or lemons (depending on whether a man or woman is reading), two that stain with the bloody fingerprints of the those who handle them, one that ignites when brushed with breath, thirteen sewn from baby skin, one that moans when touched, and one that screams—yet all without mass, unimaginable, and invisible. Lance Olsen is author of more than 20 books of and about innovative fiction, including, most recently, the novels Calendar of Regrets (2010) and Head in Flames (2009). He teaches experimental narrative theory and practice at the University of Utah. SUPERSTRUCTURE! by Barbara D'Albi As soon as I opened the third drawer of Barbara D'Albi's wooden novel, everything became hopeless. Now in Ithaca, there was no going back. And it wasn't just the intricate series of shelves, hinged doors and locked drawers which D'Albi layered into the book, no, lo, I was constructed anew by the story. Who else but D'Albi to imagine a God who becomes a carpenter and gets killed?! And makes it good! You want stories? D'Albi is a skyscraper, built with planes and levers. Momentarily I wondered where I could shelve this book, and then I thought: no matter; I couldn't put it down. Adam Robinson lives in Baltimore, where he runs Publishing Genius. He is the author of Adam Robison and Other Poems and Say, Poem. 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TOC -/- 0. Introduction (SN/CW) -/- I. Revisiting vitalist themes in 19th-century science -/- 1. Guido Giglioni (Warburg Institute) – Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and the Place of Irritability 2. in the History of Life and Death 3. Joan Steigerwald (York) – Rethinking Organic Vitality in Germany at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century 4. Juan Rigoli (Geneva) –The “Novel of Medicine” 5. Sean Dyde (Cambridge) – Life and the Mind in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Somaticism in the Wake of Phrenology. -/- (...) II. Twentieth century debates on vitalism in science and philosophy -/- 6. Brian Garrett (McMaster) – Vitalism versus Emergent Materialism 7. Christophe Malaterre (Paris) – Life as an Emergent Phenomenon: from an Alternative to Vitalism to an Alternative to Reductionism 8. Sebastian Normandin (Montreal) – Wilhelm Reich: Vitalism and Its Discontents 9. Chiara Elettra Ferrario (Wellington) and Luigi Corsi (Pisa) – Kurt Goldstein: Vitalism and the Organismic Approach 10. Giuseppe Bianco (Paris/Warwick) – The Origins of Canguilhem’s “Vitalism”. Against the Anthropology of Irritation -/- III. Vitalism and contemporary biological developments -/- 11. William Bechtel (UCSD) — Dynamic Mechanistic Explanation: Addressing the Vitalists’ Objections to Mechanistic Science 12. John Dupré and Maureen O’Malley (Exeter) – Varieties of living things: Life at the intersection of lineage and metabolism 13. J. Scott Turner (Syracuse) – Homeostasis and the forgotten vitalist roots of adaptation -/- . (shrink)
Model theory is an important area of mathematical logic which has deep philosophical roots, many philosophical applications, and great philosophical interest in itself. The aim of this book is to introduce, organise, survey, and develop these connections between philosophy and model theory, for the benefit of philosophers and logicians alike.
A renowned philosopher of the mind, also known for his groundbreaking work on Buddhism and cognitive science, Evan Thompson combines the latest neuroscience research on sleep, dreaming, and meditation with Indian and Western philosophy of the mind, casting new light on the self and its relation to the brain. Thompson shows how the self is a changing process, not a static thing. When we are awake we identify with our body, but if we let our mind wander or daydream, we (...) project a mentally imagined self into the remembered past or anticipated future. As we fall asleep, the impression of being a bounded self distinct from the world dissolves, but the self reappears in the dream state. If we have a lucid dream, we no longer identify only with the self within the dream. Our sense of self now includes our dreaming self, the "I" as dreamer. Finally, as we meditate--either in the waking state or in a lucid dream--we can observe whatever images or thoughts arise and how we tend to identify with them as "me." We can also experience sheer awareness itself, distinct from the changing contents that make up our image of the self. Contemplative traditions say that we can learn to let go of the self, so that when we die we can witness its dissolution with equanimity. Thompson weaves together neuroscience, philosophy, and personal narrative to depict these transformations, adding uncommon depth to life's profound questions. Contemplative experience comes to illuminate scientific findings, and scientific evidence enriches the vast knowledge acquired by contemplatives. (shrink)
I defend the extremist position that the fundamental ontology of the world consists of a vector in Hilbert space evolving according to the Schrödinger equation. The laws of physics are determined solely by the energy eigenspectrum of the Hamiltonian. The structure of our observed world, including space and fields living within it, should arise as a higher-level emergent description. I sketch how this might come about, although much work remains to be done.
I discuss "Poetic Naturalism" -- there is only one world, the natural world, but there are many ways of talking about it -- both as a general concept, and how it accounts for our actual world. I talk about emergence, fundamental physics, entropy and complexity, the origins of life and consciousness, and moral constructivism.
This book provides an account of the nature of time, especially time's arrow and the role of entropy, at a semi-popular level. Special attention is given to statistical mechanics, the past hypothesis, and possible cosmological explanations thereof.
Population health has recently grown from a series of loosely connected critiques of twentieth-century public health and medicine into a theoretical framework with a corresponding field of research—population health science. Its approach is to promote the public’s health through improving everyday human life: affordable nutritious food, clean air, safe places where children can play, living wages, etc. It recognizes that addressing contemporary health challenges such as the prevalence of type 2 diabetes will take much more than good hospitals and public (...) health departments. -/- Blending philosophy of science/medicine, public health ethics and history, this book offers a framework that explains, analyses and largely endorses the features that define this relatively new field. Presenting a philosophical perspective, Valles helps to clarify what these features are and why they matter, including: searching for health’s “upstream” causes in social life, embracing a professional commitment to studying and ameliorating the staggering health inequities in and between populations; and reforming scientific practices to foster humility and respect among the many scientists and non- scientists who must work collaboratively to promote health. -/- Featuring illustrative case studies from around the globe at the end of all main chapters, this radical monograph is written to be accessible to all scholars and advanced students who have an interest in health—from public health students to professional philosophers. (shrink)
Effective Field Theory (EFT) is the successful paradigm underlying modern theoretical physics, including the "Core Theory" of the Standard Model of particle physics plus Einstein's general relativity. I will argue that EFT grants us a unique insight: each EFT model comes with a built-in specification of its domain of applicability. Hence, once a model is tested within some domain (of energies and interaction strengths), we can be confident that it will continue to be accurate within that domain. Currently, the Core (...) Theory has been tested in regimes that include all of the energy scales relevant to the physics of everyday life (biology, chemistry, technology, etc.). Therefore, we have reason to be confident that the laws of physics underlying the phenomena of everyday life are completely known. (shrink)
Quine's set theory, New Foundations, has often been treated as an anomaly in the history and philosophy of set theory. In this book, Sean Morris shows that it is in fact well-motivated, emerging in a natural way from the early development of set theory. Morris introduces and explores the notion of set theory as explication: the view that there is no single correct axiomatization of set theory, but rather that the various axiomatizations all serve to explicate the notion of (...) set and are judged largely according to pragmatic criteria. Morris also brings out the important interplay between New Foundations, Quine's philosophy of set theory, and his philosophy more generally. We see that his early technical work in logic foreshadows his later famed naturalism, with his philosophy of set theory playing a crucial role in his primary philosophical project of clarifying our conceptual scheme and specifically its logical and mathematical components. (shrink)
We study the question of how to decompose Hilbert space into a preferred tensor-product factorization without any pre-existing structure other than a Hamiltonian operator, in particular the case of a bipartite decomposition into "system" and "environment." Such a decomposition can be defined by looking for subsystems that exhibit quasi-classical behavior. The correct decomposition is one in which pointer states of the system are relatively robust against environmental monitoring (their entanglement with the environment does not continually and dramatically increase) and remain (...) localized around approximately-classical trajectories. We present an in-principle algorithm for finding such a decomposition by minimizing a combination of entanglement growth and internal spreading of the system. Both of these properties are related to locality in different ways. This formalism could be relevant to the emergence of spacetime from quantum entanglement. (shrink)
In his “Wissenschaftslogik: The Role of Logic in the Philosophy of Science,” Michael Friedman argues that Carnap’s philosophy of science “is fundamentally anti-metaphysical—he aims to use the tools of mathematical logic to dissolve rather [than] solve traditional philosophical problems—and it is precisely this point that is missed by his logically-minded contemporaries such as Hempel and Quine”. In this paper, I take issue with this claim, arguing that Quine, too, is a part of this anti-metaphysical tradition. I begin in section I (...) with Russell’s account of scientific philosophy, focusing on its critique of metaphysics and its reliance on logical constructions. I then argue that each of Carnap and Quine take up this call to scientific philosophizing but that they both find Russell’s account of logic wanting. In section II, I first provide an account of Carnap’s critique of metaphysics and its reliance on developments in logic. This is followed by a discussion of his appeal to the analytic/synthetic distinction so as to improve upon Russell’s account of logic. Section III follows this same structure but focuses on Quine. In the end, though, Quine turns not to the analytic/synthetic distinction but to holism to provide an account of logic suitable to scientific philosophy. Carnap had claimed to be “more Russellian than Russell,” and in this final move by Quine I argue that he is “being more Carnapian than Carnap.” I conclude by showing how, contrary to Friedman’s view, Quine’s rejection of the analytic/synthetic distinction does not yield a return to the kind metaphysics that he, Carnap, and Russell all objected to. (shrink)
We have a much better understanding of physics than we do of consciousness. I consider ways in which intrinsically mental aspects of fundamental ontology might induce modifications of the known laws of physics, or whether they could be relevant to accounting for consciousness if no such modifications exist. I suggest that our current knowledge of physics should make us skeptical of hypothetical modifications of the known rules, and that without such modifications it’s hard to imagine how intrinsically mental aspects could (...) play a useful explanatory role. Draft version of a paper submitted to Journal of Consciousness Studies, special issue responding to Philip Goff’s Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness. (shrink)
This is the story of a seductive idea and its sobering consequences. The twentieth century brought a new cultural confidence in the social powers of invention – but also saw the advance of consumerism, world wars, globalisation and human-generated climate change. Techno-Fixers traces how passive optimism and active manipulations were linked to our growing trust in technological innovation. It pursues the evolving idea through engineering hubris, radical utopian movements, science fiction fanzines, policy-maker soundbites, corporate marketing, and consumer culture. It explores (...) how evangelists of technological fixes have proselytised their faith, and critically examines the examples and products of their followers. The new technological confidence mixed together beliefs that were simultaneously compelling and unsettling. As motor vehicles, electricity supplies and radio became part of modern life in the early decades of the century, it was hard to argue against the transformative effects and inevitability of such transitions. Like it or not, social consequences seemed to come inexorably with the Machine Age, the Space Age and the Information Age. This deterministic vision implied an ever more technological future with unavoidable social consequences. For many, innovative technologies promised appealing new lifestyles and powers. But for a narrower band of proponents – the first generation of technological fixers – wise engineering invention was touted as a guaranteed route to positive human benefits and societal progress. Socially-engaged engineers and designers argued that such improvements could be directed, hastened and amplified. These engineering adventurers argued that modern societies could be guided only by rational designers. They contended that adroit technological solutions could solve contemporary problems better than any traditional method, including economic initiatives, citizen education, political ideology, lifestyle changes, legal frameworks and moral guidance. Their seductive claims were tamed by more mainstream American enthusiasts, and eventually boiled down to the concept of the technological fix. Their shared confidence infused policy-makers, broadcasters and science popularisers. Trust in technological fixes shaped a new generation of managers and law-makers, engineers and educators, futurists and citizens – and continues to drive a new generation of techno-fixers today. This cultural wave, its promoters and detractors, have championed the promise and voiced concerns that we have inherited, still unresolved. This book tracks the hubristic influencers and weighs up the confidences and concerns associated with them: the dramatic potential for novel technologies to work alongside longer human traditions to meet our enduring ambitions – or to reshape society for the worse. (shrink)
This book explores the important yet neglected relationship between the philosophy of time and the temporal structure of perceptual experience. It examines how time structures perceptual experience and, through that structuring, the ways in which time makes perceptual experience trustworthy or erroneous. -/- Sean Power argues that our understanding of time can determine our understanding of perceptual experience in relation to perceptual structure and perceptual error. He examines the general conditions under which an experience may be sorted into different (...) kinds of error such as illusions, hallucinations, and anosognosia. Power also argues that some theories of time are better than others at giving an account of the structure and errors of perceptual experience. He makes the case that tenseless theory and eternalism more closely correspond to experience than tense theory and presentism. Finally, the book includes a discussion of the perceptual experience of space and how tenseless theory and eternalism can better support the problematic theory of naïve realism. -/- Philosophy of Time and Perceptual Experience originally illustrates how the metaphysics of time can be usefully applied to thinking about experience in general. It will appeal to those interested in the philosophy of time and debates about the trustworthiness of experience. (shrink)
In a democracy, citizens should have some control over how they are governed. If they do not participate directly in making policy, they ought to maintain control over the public officials who design policy on their behalf. Rule by Multiple Majorities develops a novel theory of popular control: an account of what it is, why democracy's promise of popular control is compatible with what we know about actual democracies, and why it matters. While social choice theory suggests there is no (...) such thing as a 'popular will' in societies with at least minimal diversity of opinion, the author argues that multiple, overlapping majorities can nonetheless have control, at the same time. After resolving this conceptual puzzle, the author explains why popular control is a realistic and compelling ideal for democracies, notwithstanding voters' low levels of information and other shortcomings. (shrink)
In her essay, “After de Brosses”, Rosalind C. Morris briefly considers the historical importance of the concept of the fetish on the relatively recent movements of new materialism, but she does not engage with Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented Ontology. This essay addresses this gap and focuses on the influence of the fetish on Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented Ontology by focusing on Graham Harman’s conception of objects and Quentin Meillassoux’s theory of arche-fossils. In short, I am offering a posthumanist theorization of (...) the fetish in order to argue that Object-Oriented Ontology can be considered, at points, to be a fetish-oriented ontology and that this notion of the fetish allows us to think about philosophical considerations of objects in a new light. (shrink)
With his remarkable range of vision, the author takes us on a voyage of discovery that leads from Eden to Fellini, from paradise to parody - plotting the various models of the imagination as: Hebraic, Greek, medieval, Romantic, existential and post-modern.
This essay explores how the experience of National Socialism provoked German intellectuals to rethink elitist conventions in politics. It focuses on three figures in the town of Heidelberg—Alexander Mitscherlich, Dolf Sternberger, and Alfred Weber—as well as on a journal and a discussion forum that they established after 1945. Breaking with both mandarin and vanguardist traditions, they conceived a politics that neither transpired over the masses’ heads nor sought to organize them from above but rested on the people's participation from below. (...) Moreover, a correspondence existed between their thinking on democracy and the grassroots, extra-institutional activities they pursued in an attempt to realize what they called “publicness”. Finally, the essay relates such immediate postwar ideas and practices to these intellectuals’ stances toward West Germany after 1949 as well as to the discussion on “publicness” that unfolded there, as exemplified in Jürgen Habermas's early work. (shrink)
Moral philosophy has long been dominated by the aim of understanding morality and the virtues in terms of principles. However, the underlying assumption that this is the best approach has received almost no defence, and has been attacked by particularists, who argue that the traditional link between morality and principles is little more than an unwarranted prejudice. In Principled Ethics, Michael Ridge and Sean McKeever meet the particularist challenge head-on, and defend a distinctive view they call "generalism as a (...) regulative ideal.". (shrink)
With his remarkable range of vision, the author takes us on a voyage of discovery that leads from Eden to Fellini, from paradise to parody - plotting the various models of the imagination as: Hebraic, Greek, medieval, Romantic, existential and post-modern.
Several scholars have recently entertained proposals for "epistocracy," a political regime in which decision-making power is concentrated in the hands of a society's most informed and competent citizens. These proposals rest on the claim that we can expect better political outcomes if we exclude incompetent citizens from participating in political decisions because competent voters are more likely to vote "correctly" than incompetent voters. We develop what we call the objection from selection bias to epistocracy: a procedure that selects voters on (...) the basis of their observed competence---as epistocracy does---will often be "biased" in the sense that competent voters will be, on average, more likely than incompetent voters to possess certain attributes that reduce the probability of voting correctly. Our objection generalizes the "demographic objection" discussed in previous literature, showing that the range of realistic scenarios in which epistocracy is vulnerable to selection bias is substantially broader than previous discussions appreciate. Our discussion also shows that previous discussions have obscured the force of the threat of selection bias. Since we lack reasons to believe that epistocratic proposals can avoid selection bias, we have no reason to seriously entertain epistocracy as a practical proposal. (shrink)
Achieving the global benefits of artificial intelligence will require international cooperation on many areas of governance and ethical standards, while allowing for diverse cultural perspectives and priorities. There are many barriers to achieving this at present, including mistrust between cultures, and more practical challenges of coordinating across different locations. This paper focuses particularly on barriers to cooperation between Europe and North America on the one hand and East Asia on the other, as regions which currently have an outsized impact on (...) the development of AI ethics and governance. We suggest that there is reason to be optimistic about achieving greater cross-cultural cooperation on AI ethics and governance. We argue that misunderstandings between cultures and regions play a more important role in undermining cross-cultural trust, relative to fundamental disagreements, than is often supposed. Even where fundamental differences exist, these may not necessarily prevent productive cross-cultural cooperation, for two reasons: cooperation does not require achieving agreement on principles and standards for all areas of AI; and it is sometimes possible to reach agreement on practical issues despite disagreement on more abstract values or principles. We believe that academia has a key role to play in promoting cross-cultural cooperation on AI ethics and governance, by building greater mutual understanding, and clarifying where different forms of agreement will be both necessary and possible. We make a number of recommendations for practical steps and initiatives, including translation and multilingual publication of key documents, researcher exchange programmes, and development of research agendas on cross-cultural topics. (shrink)
To the best of our current understanding, quantum mechanics is part of the most fundamental picture of the universe. It is natural to ask how pure and minimal this fundamental quantum description can be. The simplest quantum ontology is that of the Everett or Many-Worlds interpretation, based on a vector in Hilbert space and a Hamiltonian. Typically one also relies on some classical structure, such as space and local configuration variables within it, which then gets promoted to an algebra of (...) preferred observables. We argue that even such an algebra is unnecessary, and the most basic description of the world is given by the spectrum of the Hamiltonian and the components of some particular vector in Hilbert space. Everything else—including space and fields propagating on it—is emergent from these minimal elements. (shrink)
Some modern cosmological models predict the appearance of Boltzmann Brains: observers who randomly fluctuate out of a thermal bath rather than naturally evolving from a low-entropy Big Bang. A theory in which most observers are of the Boltzmann Brain type is generally thought to be unacceptable, although opinions differ. I argue that such theories are indeed unacceptable: the real problem is with fluctuations into observers who are locally identical to ordinary observers, and their existence cannot be swept under the rug (...) by a choice of probability distributions over observers. The issue is not that the existence of such observers is ruled out by data, but that the theories that predict them are cognitively unstable: they cannot simultaneously be true and justifiably believed. (shrink)
As a growing area of research, the philosophy of time is increasingly relevant to different areas of philosophy and even other disciplines. This book describes and evaluates the most important debates in philosophy of time, under several subject areas: metaphysics, epistemology, physics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, rationality, and art. -/- Questions this book investigates include: Can we know what time really is? Is time possible, especially given modern physics? Must there be time because we cannot think (...) without it? What do we experience of time? How might philosophy of time be relevant to understanding the mind-body relationship or evidence in cognitive science? Can the philosophy of time help us understand biases toward the future and the fear of death? How is time relevant to art – and is art relevant to philosophical debates about time? Finally, what exactly could time travel be? And could time travel satisfy emotions such as nostalgia and regret? -/- Through asking such questions, and showing how they might be best answered, the book demonstrates the importance philosophy of time has in contemporary thought. Each of the book’s 10 chapters begins with a helpful introduction and ends with study questions and an annotated list of further readings. This and a comprehensive bibliography at the end of the book prepare the reader to go further in their study of the philosophy of time. (shrink)
Cosmological models that invoke a multiverse - a collection of unobservable regions of space where conditions are very different from the region around us - are controversial, on the grounds that unobservable phenomena shouldn't play a crucial role in legitimate scientific theories. I argue that the way we evaluate multiverse models is precisely the same as the way we evaluate any other models, on the basis of abduction, Bayesian inference, and empirical success. There is no scientifically respectable way to do (...) cosmology without taking into account different possibilities for what the universe might be like outside our horizon. Multiverse theories are utterly conventionally scientific, even if evaluating them can be difficult in practice. (shrink)
A number of authors have argued recently that the content of perceptual experience can, and even must, be characterized in conceptual terms. Their claim, more precisely, is that every perceptual experience is such that, of necessity, its content is constituted entirely by concepts possessed by the subject having the experience. This is a surprising result. For it seems reasonable to think that a subject’s experiences could be richer and more fine-grained than his conceptual repertoire; that a subject might be able, (...) for example, to discriminate in experience more shades of colors than he has color concepts. The key move in their argument, therefore, is to articulate the conceptual content of experience using demonstrative, instead of general, concepts. For instance, these authors argue that the content of my perceptual experience of a particular shade of green is properly characterized in terms of the concept expressed by the linguistic utterance “that shade”. Even if I don’t possess a general concept for the shade I’m seeing—a concept of the kind typically expressed using color names like ‘chartreuse’ or ‘lime’—nevertheless, these authors argue, the content of the experience can still be characterized conceptually using a demonstrative concept that I do possess. (shrink)
"Nonsense Lab" is the unofficial name of a studio space that hosted Sean Smith and the Department of Biological Flow at University of Western Ontario. Here, in an offhand reflexive tumblr post, the infrastructural thematics of acoustic ecology, perceptual programming and media environments are cut across and sewn together.
On one popular view, the general covariance of gravity implies that change is relational in a strong sense, such that all it is for a physical degree of freedom to change is for it to vary with regard to a second physical degree of freedom. At a quantum level, this view of change as relative variation leads to a fundamentally timeless formalism for quantum gravity. Here, we will show how one may avoid this acute ‘problem of time’. Under our view, (...) duration is still regarded as relative, but temporal succession is taken to be absolute. Following our approach, which is presented in more formal terms in, it is possible to conceive of a genuinely dynamical theory of quantum gravity within which time, in a substantive sense, remains. 1 Introduction1.1 The problem of time1.2 Our solution2 Understanding Symmetry2.1 Mechanics and representation2.2 Freedom by degrees2.3 Voluntary redundancy3 Understanding Time3.1 Change and order3.2 Quantization and succession4 Time and Gravitation4.1 The two faces of classical gravity4.2 Retaining succession in quantum gravity5 Discussion5.1 Related arguments5.2 Concluding remarks. (shrink)
This book is the first clear and unproblematic account of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s method and its consequences for good thinking. It has radical implications for conceptual investigation, analysis, value judgment, political ideology, ethics, and even religion.