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- Aug 17, 2:15 am - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
Correction - see Luke’s wiki article. Not dmf’s.
- Aug 16, 8:48 pm - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
Hi Luke and Dmf, We are certainly entering a new world of what we can call truth or facts. The very notion is live in a way that maybe it hasn’t been for a while. We are now in the space of the discovery of intellectual humility which is a fine line between being arrogant or overly confident and being sort of servile. It seems that the project of “On Truth” is to show that there is a kind of truth we can practically use. What I would like to sink my teeth into is the idea that we don’t need to be certain to move forward - to apply some kinds of guidelines in order to allow one to interact with issues in life. When I read Socrates I see that he is certain that he can’t know some things but has tools which allow him to still know about things. (I can’t think of a better way to say that but hopefully you’ve read him and know what I’m referring to.) Epistemic self doubt is a good thing. However, it takes a certain kind of person to have it. It seems to me that the people who are...
- Aug 16, 4:01 pm - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
There might be something to be said here about 'rational ignorance,' too. If it's just more sensible to trust experts than spend innumerable hours becoming an expert on everything, we're back in the puzzle of deciding who is most credible to outsource our truth-finding to. And if I can successfully throw sand in the gears of conventional wisdom (a la Trump), maybe I scale up the epistemic problem to a point that any provisional consensus on truth (according to a Rortyian worldview?) becomes so tenuous that it potentially disables coordinated action. Anyway, I gather that's what a lot of the hand-wringing is about with such casual deployment of the term 'fake news.' Meaning, if we can't even agree on the most basic of facts or interpretation, any more substantive need to cooperate or compromise or coordinate our behavior become less likely. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_ignorance
- Aug 16, 2:26 pm - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
"When I was in grad school I published a paper that ended up in a science journal. To make a long story short, I was very uncomfortable with the data because I knew that the way I measured things could have been done differently to yield different results. When I took my concerns to my PI, he shared that it is preponderance of the evidence (I had a statistically significant result) and the disclosure of my methods which gave this legitimacy. However, I know the truth which is that though my methods were disclosed, no one knew to ask certain questions because no one else really had experience with this method. Since then I have been quite wary of all data and scientific studies I read. Similarly I have been wary of just about everything. This kind of uncertainty doesn’t feel like a healthy skepticism. It feels a bit closer to a paralyzing uncertainty tending toward apathy." When you (and the rest of us) are uncertain about matters (as with yer research dilemma) that you know a lot about I think that is very different from people being uncertain (or certain for that matter) about things that they know next...
- Aug 16, 12:47 pm - Science, Religion, and Secularism Part XXXIII: Justin L. Barrett—Why Would Anyone Believe in God? Part A
Good. And what about the basic human temptation or reflex to potentially think in tribal or self-serving terms (be that from religious conviction or otherwise)? Does non-reflective thinking incline us to intuitively 'take sides' in some epistemic or socially-freighted debate? Does it take us all more reflective thinking, for example, to default to a more ecumenical or open-minded disposition on whatever issue may be live (let's just say, in this case, the existence of God)? Or is my anecdotal observation here possibly more attributable to individuals' personalities, rather than something that can be asserted as a general evolutionary trait? I appreciate that you are summarizing literature here, by the way, and not purporting to be cognitive scientist yourself. However, if the referenced text should speak to as much.
- Aug 16, 12:28 pm - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
This is interesting, Jennifer. I wonder if there is more to be said here just about how cognitive or epistemic specialization (especially as it's accelerated in the last 100 years or so), on the one hand, has contributed amazing wealth and higher standards-of-living to industrialized society. On the other hand, possessing a still fairly-decent education, and a not-unprivileged background, a lot of us yet are not necessarily guaranteed (today) to be able to sort out sophistry from ground truth. It's this persistent anxiety perhaps that is so unsettling, that - conceivably - I could go my whole life rooting about to be an epistemic ninja, and still somehow (in the end) be mercilessly fooled or tricked or duped or hoodwinked, and - adding insult to injury - never even know the better. Maybe even a modest amount of reflective humility suffices for the handsome portion of us to just admit we are relying on the good faith and honesty of others, but - as you point out - it's not very satisfying for being confident of the ultimate truth. Our science and human cleverness have outpaced the ability of the ordinary person to make sense of things. And now someone...
- Aug 16, 12:13 pm - Science, Religion, and Secularism Part XXXIII: Justin L. Barrett—Why Would Anyone Believe in God? Part A
Thanks for your kind words, Luke. I don't think that this line of inquiry runs the risk of scientism because to say that a belief has a scientific explanation is not to say that it is false. All beliefs of any description whatever have a scientific explanation, including those which constitute science itself, so there's a real problem of self-refutation for the person who argues that if we can explain how people come to have beliefs about God, then we've shown why they're false. It really just doesn't follow. So this to me is not so much scientism as just a not-very-strong argument. A person could become an anti-realist about beliefs generally, I guess, but that's a question more about the nature of belief just as such then about belief in God specifically, and it would leave one's commitment to theism or atheism or what have you untouched. I'm not sure about Kahneman, but the general thrust of contemporary Cognitive Science of Religion appears to be that our non-reflective, spontaneous beliefs are weighted in the direction of some kind of theism. I don't think reflective belief is weighted in favor of skepticism, but it does seem to be a prerequisite....
- Aug 16, 11:56 am - Science, Religion, and Secularism Part XXXIII: Justin L. Barrett—Why Would Anyone Believe in God? Part A
Great post, Daniel. Just to play a friendly devil's advocate: (1) Is there the potential risk here that the HADD hypothesis is just so much scientism / just-so storytelling? (2) If not, will our explanatory space accommodate the insertion of Kahneman and Tversky's 'System 1/System 2' analysis into the mix? (Meaning that, conceivably, both theistic and atheistic convictions could be based on reflective and/or non-reflective processing?) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow
- Aug 16, 10:36 am - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
Also - we had a grad school class which was devoted to nothing other than tearing apart studies. We had to read papers and write about all the ways in which their results were flawed. We had to present papers as one would for a defense thesis but instead of defending it we had to carefully illustrate why the results were in doubt. (And hope we caught all the ones our professors did). It was helpful and yet still - leaves me with nothing but doubt.
- Aug 16, 10:25 am - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
Really enjoying his book if for nothing other than just a really nice clear overview of the sort of history of the various philosophical ideas on truth. What strikes me listening to this episode a second time is that it seems like what we seem to be realizing in the age of post truth is how reliant we are sources. We are at the mercy of those who give us the news and when that is undermined we become paranoid and question everything. And similarly, if there is a source, say Trump, who says something when we used to dismiss what he said out of hand we now start to wonder if perhaps he may be correct. For example - he now accuses the Boston Globe of collusion with other papers against him. I guess my point is that there is a kind of underlying trust we have and how quickly paranoia can set in when there is a disruption. I wonder if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It seems dangerous to become too complacent and reliant on secondary info but it also seems quite detrimental to feel as though you have no way to sort out...
- Aug 16, 9:13 am - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
Rorty really wanted to emphasize contingency and irony (you guys should really tackle that book sometime), it does raise some serious questions about whether or not there are matters that philosophy can explain better than a "thick" description of who is doing what ,with what means, and to what ends can? Paul Rabinow takes up the work of folks like Dewey and Foucault but as an anthropology of the contemporary and he's pretty convincing: https://thecontemporary.stanford.edu/paul-rabinow-contemporary-inquiry-ecologies-assemblages
- Aug 16, 6:08 am - Moby-Dick as Philosophy: Plato – Melville – Nietzsche
I'm really intrigued by this book and thoroughly enjoyed the free Kindle preview - I shall certainly be buying the whole book. I am surprised by the lack of reference to Schopenhauer however - the novel far more 'prefigures' Schopenhauer than Nietzsche and is riddled with Schism references. Indeed, although Melville didn't discover 'The World as Will and Representation' until after writing Moby-Dick, he at once became an ardent devotee and proclaimed that he had always adhered to this philosophy! Perhaps this is addressed later in the book?
- Aug 15, 5:55 pm - Part 2 of Episode 1: "The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living."
This, I think, is why so many philosophy clubs, debating societies, academic fora, salons, etc. weaken and fail: there is no civic consequence. People entertain one another with their arguments, then go home. This is why (some) religious communities strengthen and succeed: they follow up with concrete civic projects. (In the Old Testament, Jacob wrestles with God, i.e. the Absolute, and survives. He names the place Peniel: “for I have seen God face to face.” The next day, he encounters his brother, whom he fears, but the meeting goes better than expected. Jacob tells Esau, “...accept my present from my hand; for I have seen your face, as one sees the face of God.”)
- Aug 15, 3:39 pm - Part 2 of Episode 1: "The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living."
Socrates did not support his family, but the tragedy might be that Socrates did not support anyone. What is the purpose of public discourse? It is not to find The Truth (if there even is one to be found.) And, despite what Plato tells us, that may not even have been his own and Socrates' purpose. Their lesson may have been larger than their narrative. I suggest that the purpose of the (publicly) examined life is to wrestle with the truth, to recognize that none of us ever reach it, but to witness one another's participation in the quest. It is, in short, a trust-building exercise. In this way, democratic alliances may be formed among people with different experiences, different perceptions, different values and different skills so that they may sufficiently understand one another's motivations to come together in any civic project. (It is a different social scheme from, say, military Basic Training, but with the same general aim.) Socrates was sentenced to death because, in the end, no one trusted him to ally himself with them for any civic purpose, despite society's evident flaws. He chose death because he could not trust society, despite his own evident flaws.
- Aug 15, 3:12 pm - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
Note: it seems Blackburn's book is a reprint of a book released (in the UK only?) last year: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Truth-Ideas-Profile-Simon-Blackburn-ebook/dp/B01KI4VS2G/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1534363407&sr=1-1 (in case you want to save yourself some money).
- Aug 15, 10:23 am - Updated "Episodes by Topic" and "Upcoming" pages
I think you guys should talk to Tony Chemero about his research into enactivism/radical-embodiment , if he is close to right about human-being than this will be a substantial contribution to many of the topics that you folks have done shows about at a time when academic philosophy can't offer much in the way of progress as a discipline, could be a whole new ordering of the field. you can get a taste of his thought @ http://ensoseminars.com/presentations/past22/
- Aug 15, 9:00 am - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part Two)
couple of academic philosophers puzzling the question of whether philosophical questions have answers in the way that say scientific questions do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JyrCmXJlCk
- Aug 15, 5:13 am - Updated "Episodes by Topic" and "Upcoming" pages
Wow! I requested Judith Butler a while back so I’m doubling down bc I had no idea she’d be a guest! Very hopeful for this one.
- Aug 14, 1:46 pm - Updated "Episodes by Topic" and "Upcoming" pages
Wow, what a rich and diverse menu you have provided us with! Your good will, hard work, and love of wisdom will allow us to feast philosophically for a long time. Thanks for actually listening to your fans. PEL maintains its status as the best philosophy podcast of all time!
- Aug 14, 10:29 am - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Citizen Edition)
I think you've hit it on the head: He's in favor of the restoration of common sense (or rather the practice that goes into how we determine truth, not "armchair" common sense notions), and his exploration of various philosophical traditions is largely to say that they're not actually adding anything to our practical understanding.
- Aug 14, 10:17 am - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Citizen Edition)
I really enjoyed this episode, so much so that I purchased the e version of his On Truth. The introduction itself has made the purchase worth it. I'm wondering if he addresses things like Gettier problems or infinite regress. I didn't find it during a quick search. Perhaps not that kind of book. I hope reading the actual book will help me understand how he arrives with what came across in the podcast as such confidence at the idea of the existence of truth. The more I try to find answers the more I come away feeling confused about what we can hang our hat on and why. At any rate, I appreciated how he brought a kind of common sense to truth. I hate walking away from these things feeling as though "it's all relative" and hopefully reading on I will arrive at the same confidence about truth as he seems to.
- Aug 12, 3:43 pm - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
Good stuff! Thanks to you both for pulling this thread. The following came down the digital pike today, and - though fairly short in length/scope - I found it to add a little more context and "so what?" explanation for me. The Pragmatists http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/philosopherszone/the-pragmatists/10090786
- Aug 12, 2:38 pm - Sub-Text #1: Poesis as Revenge Forsaken in Shakespeare's "The Tempest" (Citizens Only)
I just became fascinated with Madame Bovary and the concept “bovarysme” . This led me to a paper by T.S. Elliot “Shakespeare and the stoicism of Seneca.” There is a lot of psychoanalytical literature connected to this and it seems like such a great subject matter for this spin off!
- Aug 12, 7:59 am - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
- Aug 11, 11:52 am - Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)
Hi August, I'm sorry you felt that way. I strongly recommend you just get Blackburn's new book, which is really easy to follow. If I have time, I'll go back and listen through and see if I can use the show notes to clarify the preliminaries needed for a newbie to follow the discussion (not saying you're a newbie; obviously you've read Aristotle's "Topics." We're certainly always in danger when we have a prof on of trying to engage with/impress him or her at our highest level rather than slowing down to make sure everything is explained. We definitely still owe the audience an episode on post-modernism and perhaps Rorty on truth (who is difficult to interpret, and we didn't read anything by him for this time). However, I think through our previous two episodes we already hammered deflationism and the issue of what the predicate "true" applies to. According to Blackburn, Rorty and post-modernism more generally do not think that "true" is a useful word any more, because it's too fraught with an unwarranted universalism and objectivism. A sentence or point of view or assumption presents a model, and those models can be more or less helpful in certain...