In Ayn Rand's philosophical perspective, and in the working epistemology of science, claims, about which there is no knowledge originating in the evidence of the senses, are considered— in the words of physicist Wolfgang Pauli—" not even false." Theistic arguments presented in Tie Journal of Ayn Rand Studies by Parrish and Toner are in this category. Various claims to which Parrish and Toner refer are shown to come from misuse of intution, middle-school fallacies about probability, and attempts to (...) deduce the existence of a god from temporary gaps in scientific knowledge. (shrink)
In two books and several articles Philip Goff has developed a panpsychist theory. Recently, he has put forth a version which he calls cosmopsychism. Rejecting both perfect being theism and physicalism, according to cosmopsychism, there is a unitary mind that is not only the cause of the universe, but in a sense is the universe. In this essay I critique Goff’s theory, arguing that it is not simpler than PBT, and that it fails to make important issues clear. I conclude (...) that Goff’s theory is a version of theism but fails to be a plausible alternative to PBT. (shrink)
There has been much discussion of the relationship between God and abstract objects. Three positions taken by theists are Absolute Creationism, Theistic Conceptualism, and Antirealism. I argue that Theistic Conceptualism combined with Perfect Being theology can avoid common criticisms, and that it renders the created abstract objects of Absolute Creationism unnecessary. I also hold that Antirealism is quite close to Theistic Conceptualism, and that Antirealism when combined with God as an omniscient being ends up being almost indistinguishable from it.
In his book Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing, Bede Rundle argues that there is no need to appeal to God for an explanation concerning why the universe exists, and remains in existence. I argue that on the contrary, Rundle’s philosophical naturalism is unable to give a plausible account for the continued existence of the universe in a lawful manner and the objects of which it is composed. The major reason for this inability is that since, as Rundle admits, (...) everything that exists has a logically contingent existence, there can be no necessary principle by which contingent objects are sustained in existence. (shrink)
Theism and naturalism are rival worldviews. Both seek to explain the nature of reality, but often give radically different explanations. One of the most important areas of conflict is the differing accounts for the existence of the world in which we live. Why is the actual world the one that has been instantiated instead of any other of the apparently infinite number of other possible worlds? In this paper I argue that whereas theism has a puzzle as to why God (...) actualized this particular world, naturalism has a major problem as why any ordered world exists. (shrink)
Bergson's 1896 theory of perception/memory assumed a framework anticipating the quantum revolution in physics, the still unrealized implications of this framework contributing to the large neglect of Bergson today. The basics of his model are explored, including the physical concepts he advanced before the crisis in classical physics, his concept of perception as ‘virtual action’ with its relativistic implications, and his unique explication of the subject/object relationship. All form the basis for his solution to the ‘hard’ problem. The relation between (...) Bergson and Gibson as natural complements is also explored, with Bergson providing the framework that explicates Gibson's concept of direct perception, with Gibson's resonance model as a precursor to dynamic systems models of the brain and his reliance on invariance laws defining perceived events providing more detail for the mechanisms Bergson only envisioned from afar, and with Bergson providing the basis for an otherwise missing Gibsonian model of direct memory. (shrink)
The Limits of Influence is a detailed examination and defense of the evidence for largescale-psychokinesis . It examines the reasons why experimental evidence has not, and perhaps cannot, convince most skeptics that PK is genuine, and it considers why traditional experimental procedures are important to reveal interesting facts about the phenomena.
For over thirty years, Stephen Braude has studied the paranormal in everyday life, from extrasensory perception and psychokinesis to mediumship and materialization. _The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations_ is a highly readable and often amusing account of his most memorable encounters with such phenomena. Here Braude recounts in fascinating detail five particular cases—some that challenge our most fundamental scientific beliefs and others that expose our own credulousness. Braude begins with a south Florida woman who can make thin (...) gold-colored foil appear spontaneously on her skin. He then travels to New York and California to test psychokinetic superstars—and frauds—like Joe Nuzum, who claim to move objects using only their minds. Along the way, Braude also investigates the startling allegations of K.R., a policeman in Annapolis who believes he can transfer images from photographs onto other objects—including his own body—and Ted Serios, a deceased Chicago elevator operator who could make a variety of different images appear on Polaroid film. Ultimately, Braude considers his wife’s surprisingly fruitful experiments with astrology, which she has used to guide professional soccer teams to the top of their leagues, as well as his own personal experiences with synchronicity—a phenomenon, he argues, that may need to be explained in terms of a refined, extensive, and dramatic form of psychokinesis. Heady, provocative, and brimming with eye-opening details and suggestions, _The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations_ will intrigue both adherents and detractors of its controversial subject matter alike. (shrink)
Evolutionary theory has yet to offer a detailed model of the complex transitions from a living system of one design to another of more advanced, or simply different, design. Hidden within the writings of evolution's expositors is an implicit appeal to AI-like processes operating within the "cosmic machine" that has hitherto been evolving the plethora of functional living systems we observe. In these writings, there is disturbingly little understanding of the deep problems involved, resting as they do in the very (...) heart of AI. The end-state requirements for a system, device, or "machine" with intelligence capable of design are examined. The representational power must be sufficient to support analogical thought, an operation demanding transformations of events in imagery, in turn a function of perception, both dependent on a non-differentiable flow of time. The operational dynamics of the device must inherit this fundamental property of the dynamically transforming matter-field. Whether the evolutionary mechanisms or algorithmics thus far envisioned by biology or AI are coordinate with such requirements is left seriously in doubt. (shrink)
What is art's relationship to play? Those interested in this question tend to look to modern philosophy for answers, but, as this book shows, the question was already debated in antiquity by luminaries like Plato and Aristotle. Over the course of eight chapters, this book contextualizes those debates, and demonstrates their significance for theoretical problems today. Topics include the ancient child psychology at the root of the ancient Greek word for 'play', the numerous toys that have survived from antiquity, and (...) the meaning of play's conceptual opposite, the 'serious'. What emerges is a concept of play markedly different from the one we have inherited from modernity. Play is not a certain set of activities which unleashes a certain feeling of pleasure; it is rather a certain feeling of pleasure that unleashes the activities we think of as 'play'. As such, it offers a new set of theoretical challenges. (shrink)
Skepticism has always been a part of the history of Western philosophy. If one were to look at current works focusing on the history of skepticism in philosophy, however, one would get the impression that skepticism disappeared from the philosophical landscape after the work of Sextus Empiricus, only to reappear with the methodological skepticism of Descartes. Yet, did skepticism, which had thus been so prevalent in the ancient period, disappear so completely during the middle Ages? The resounding answer that this (...) dissertation proposes to give to this question is no. To that end, the main focus will be on Nicolaus of Autrecourt, a figure in the waning High Middle Ages who revived skepticism within a peculiarly Christian context. In the first three chapters of the dissertation, the skepticism of Nicolaus of Autrecourt will be studied. Starting in the first chapter with a study of Nicolaus's life and the skeptical elements of his correspondence, the second chapter will continue to look for these same skeptical elements in his Exigit ordo, while the third chapter will look for possible influences on Nicolaus's skepticism. The fourth and fifth chapter will present views similar to Nicolaus's in the works of the Muslim thinker al-Ghazali and the more well-known David Hume concerning the skepticism of causal necessity. In the sixth and final chapter, a major difference between the doctrines of Nicolaus and al-Ghazali on the one hand and Hume on the other concerning the issue of miracles will be examined. From this point, a simplified genealogy of skepticism shall be offered, and it will be contended that the skepticisms of Nicolaus and al-Ghazali deserve a place in that genealogy. By allowing Nicolaus's and al-Ghazali's type of skepticism into this genealogy, the main conclusion shall be that skepticism is in fact a double-edged sword that can be used against religion by attempting to destroy the ability of reason to come to any definitive conclusions about God or against atheistic philosophy in leaving room for faith in the omnipotence of God. (shrink)
The Limits of Influence is a detailed examination and defense of the evidence for largescale-psychokinesis. It examines the reasons why experimental evidence has not, and perhaps cannot, convince most skeptics that PK is genuine, and it considers why traditional experimental procedures are important to reveal interesting facts about the phenomena.
The relations among consciousness, brain, behavior, and scientific explanation are explored in the domain of color perception. Current scientific knowledge about color similarity, color composition, dimensional structure, unique colors, and color categories is used to assess Locke.
This article explores the role of weakness of will in the Indian Buddhist tradition, and in particular within Śāntideva’s Introduction to the Practice of Awakening. In agreement with Jay Garfield, I argue that there are important differences between Aristotle’s account of akrasia and Buddhist moral psychology. Nevertheless, taking a more expanded conception of weakness of will, as is frequently done in contemporary work, allows us to draw significant connections with the pluralistic account of psychological conflict found in Buddhist texts. I (...) demonstrate this by showing how Amélie Rorty’s expanded treatment of akrasia as including emotional response and perceptual classification allows us to recognize that one of the purposes of many of Śāntideva’s meditations is to treat various forms of akratic response. (shrink)
This article explores the defense Indian Buddhist texts make in support of their conceptions of lives that are good for an individual. This defense occurs, largely, through their analysis of ordinary experience as being saturated by subtle forms of suffering . I begin by explicating the most influential of the Buddhist taxonomies of suffering: the threefold division into explicit suffering , the suffering of change , and conditioned suffering . Next, I sketch the three theories of welfare that have been (...) most influential in contemporary ethical theory. I then argue that Buddhist texts underdetermine which of these theories would have been accepted by ancient Indian Buddhists. Nevertheless, Buddhist ideas about suffering narrow the shape any acceptable theory of welfare may take. In my conclusion, I argue that this narrowing process itself is enough to reconstruct a philosophical defense of the forms of life endorsed in Buddhist texts. (shrink)
Why are people interested in money? Specifically, what could be the biological basis for the extraordinary incentive and reinforcing power of money, which seems to be unique to the human species? We identify two ways in which a commodity which is of no biological significance in itself can become a strong motivator. The first is if it is used as a tool, and by a metaphorical extension this is often applied to money: it is used instrumentally, in order to obtain (...) biologically relevant incentives. Second, substances can be strong motivators because they imitate the action of natural incentives but do not produce the fitness gains for which those incentives are instinctively sought. The classic examples of this process are psychoactive drugs, but we argue that the drug concept can also be extended metaphorically to provide an account of money motivation. From a review of theoretical and empirical literature about money, we conclude that (i) there are a number of phenomena that cannot be accounted for by a pure Tool Theory of money motivation; (ii) supplementing Tool Theory with a Drug Theory enables the anomalous phenomena to be explained; and (iii) the human instincts that, according to a Drug Theory, money parasitizes include trading (derived from reciprocal altruism) and object play. (Published Online April 5 2006) Key Words: economic behaviour; evolutionary psychology; giving; incentive; money; motivation; play; reciprocal altruism. (shrink)
This paper reconstructs an Indian Buddhist response to the overdemandingness objection, the claim that a moral theory asks too much of its adherents. In the first section, I explain the objection and argue that some Mahāyāna Buddhists, including Śāntideva, face it. In the second section, I survey some possible ways of responding to the objection as a way of situating the Buddhist response alongside contemporary work. In the final section, I draw upon writing by Vasubandhu and Śāntideva in reconstructing a (...) Mahāyāna response to the objection. An essential component of this response is the psychological transformation that the bodhisattva achieves as a result of realizing the nonexistence of the self. This allows him to radically identify his well-being with the well-being of others, thereby lessening the tension between self and others upon which the overdemandingness objection usually depends. Emphasizing the attention Mahāyāna authors pay to lessening moral demandingness in this way increases our appreciation of the philosophical sophistication of their moral thought and highlights an important strategy for responding to the overdemandingness objection that has been underdeveloped in contemporary work. (shrink)
While humanists have pondered the subject of love to the point of obsessiveness, philosophers have steadfastly ignored it. One might wonder whether the discipline of philosophy even recognizes love. The word _philosophy _means “love of wisdom,” but the absence of love from philosophical discourse is curiously glaring. So where did the love go? In _The Erotic Phenomenon,_ Jean-Luc Marion asks this fundamental question of philosophy, while reviving inquiry into the concept of love itself. Marion begins his profound and personal book (...) with a critique of Descartes’ equation of the ego’s ability to doubt with the certainty that one exists—“I think, therefore I am”—arguing that this is worse than vain. We encounter being, he says, when we first experience love: I am loved, therefore I am; and this love is the reason I care whether I exist or not. This philosophical base allows Marion to probe several manifestations of love and its variations, including carnal excitement, self-hate, lying and perversion, fidelity, the generation of children, and the love of God. Throughout, Marion stresses that all erotic phenomena, including sentimentality, pornography, and even boasts about one’s sexual conquests, stem not from the ego as popularly understood but instead from love. A thoroughly enlightening and captivating philosophical investigation of a strangely neglected subject, _The Erotic Phenomenon _is certain to initiate feverish new dialogue about the philosophical meanings of that most desirable and mysterious of all concepts—love. (shrink)
The essay discusses the March 5, 1944 "Discussion on Sin," an event that was held between French intellectual Georges Bataille and the Jesuit priest and patristics scholar Jean Daniélou, along with other important Christian and non-Christian intellectuals. I argue that the event is the best recorded wartime intellectual encounter between the founders of contestation (subsequently so important in deconstructive thought) and serious practitioners of Christianity. Aspects of the thought of French thinker Maurice Blanchot and Swiss theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar (...) are also profiled. (shrink)
In this essay several challenges are raised to the project of classifying Śāntideva’s ethical reasoning given in his Bodhicaryāvatāra, or Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva, as a species of ethical theory such as consequentialism or virtue ethics. One set of difficulties highlighted here arises because Śāntideva wrote this text to act as a manual of psychological transformation, and it is therefore often difficult to determine when his statements indicate his own ethical views. Further, even assuming we can identify (...) a set of statements that accurately portray the moral position of Śāntideva, it is argued that these statements underdetermine which foundational normative theory should be ascribed to him. (shrink)