What matters about matter is that it’s a certain kind of substance, which is to say that matter is refutable and problematic because it is taken as something underlying or standing below (sub-stance) the outward appearances, such as the hardness and heaviness of Johnson’s rock. In other words, “substance” is a metaphysical reality, not an empirical or phenomenal reality. Pragmatists like William James and Robert Pirsig both reject what the latter called “the metaphysics of substance.”
What is science? In general, answers to this question fall between two poles. The first is the traditional view of science–that it is a process of discovery which, performed correctly, faithfully reveals the mysteries of the universe. The second holds that science is a social process which invents, rather than discovers, models of the universe.
To construct a superintelligence, we would have to understand human intelligence at a deep level. It’s doubtful we’ll ever be able to do this.
It was not until I read Carroll’s book that I realized I was operating under a tacit assumption: Art ought to express something of the author’s emotions.
The movement away from Anarchy is not to be confused with anarchism.
Henry David Thoreau thought our biological nature explained both our savagery and our spirituality.
Nozick took on metaphysics in his lesser known later work Philosophical Explanations; was it his excuse to go where no Analytic philosopher had gone before?
The smoke and noise of 19th century steam engines seem quaint now that we measure annual carbon emissions in billions of tons.
Discussing a chunk of Walden, Ch. 11 on savage/pupal vs. mature/poetic humanity.
If we think of the rise of Protestantism as a movement away from institutional authority and toward the authority of individuals, then Emerson’s vision is just one more step in that trend.
Emerson, philosophical mysticism, and Jamesian pragmatism all make the same basic assertion about the relation between concepts and the immediacy of lived experience.
Emerson’s ideal involves a background assumption about how human nature works.
A walk through Emerson’s essay “The Over-Soul.” We learn a lot about how the Divine is supposed to affect us if we’re in the proper mood, but get no information about what it actually is.
A Spinoza scholar clarifies the difference: Your knowledge lives on vs. you share in (and so in part are) divine knowledge now.
Lynda Walsh introduces Latour’s notion of modes of existence to the science vs. religion debate
“We are all exceptional cases. We all want to appeal against something! Each of us insists on being innocent at all cost, even if he has to accuse the whole human race and heaven itself.”― Albert Camus, The Fall What accounts for Heidegger’s fall from grace into Nazism? This topic is touched on in the Continue Reading …
In Arthur Schopenhauer’s essay “On Thinking for Oneself” (1851), he writes that there are few people who possess a natural love of learning and that they will only learn from others if they find something that triggers an innate interest inside themselves. Thinking must be kindled, like a fire by a draught; it must be sustained by Continue Reading …
As I’ve acknowledged, our conversation with David Brin was more monologue, and though we tried to redeem that with the follow-up episode, that still didn’t serve the purpose of actually confronting David with our objections to his views (and his style, for that matter) and getting his reasoned reactions. Well, I had another opportunity to Continue Reading …
The word “idealism,” when understood as the metaphysical position “everything is ideas” rather than some kind of optimism or high goal-setting, carries a lot of baggage with it that I hope we dispelled in the episode. To repeat: it’s not solipsism, i.e. the notion that I (or my mind) is the only thing that’s real, Continue Reading …
Even though for the podcast we read only the equivalent of three short papers by Anscombe, there was an awful lot of ground that we didn’t cover, because Anscombe had so much to say about such a variety of topics. One thing we didn’t cover was her dismissals of moral philosophers from Butler through Mill, Continue Reading …