“To preach skepticism to us as a duty until ‘sufficient evidence’ for religion be found, is tantamount therefore to telling us, when in presence of the religious hypothesis, that to yield to our fear of its being error is wiser and better than to yield to our hope that it may be true. It is not intellect against all passions, then; it is only intellect with one passion laying down its law.” —William James
Imagine a ship owner who sells tickets for transatlantic voyages. He is at the dock one day, bidding his ship farewell, when he remembers a warning he had received from his mechanics the week before, that the integrity of the ship’s hull was questionable and that it might not be seaworthy. But on some plausible grounds or other he forms Continue Reading …
“If it is to be established that there is a God, then we have to have good grounds for believing that this is indeed so. Until and unless some such grounds are produced we have literally no reason at all for believing; and in that situation the only reasonable posture must be that of either the negative atheist or the agnostic.”
Roger Scruton famously rejected photography as an art form on the grounds that, being causal, photographs cannot represent an artist’s intentions. For Scruton, paintings can enable us to see lines, shapes and colors ‘as’ something other than lines, shapes and colors per se. Photographs cannot do this as they are tied to the visual scene they depict. Wilfrid Sellars’s ideas on the role of phenomenal content in visual perception provide a fruitful approach to questioning Scruton’s thesis.
In fifty years, what will seem most embarrassing about contemporary society? Three futurists weigh in on what is primitive about the present.
The Ancient philosophy of Stoicism, as the ultimate life hack, has taken the world by storm. It seems particularly suited to providing pithy quotes for Silicon Valley desktops, doors of CrossFit gyms, and the bedroom walls of disenfranchised youths. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with that. But then again, didn’t the famous Stoic slave Epictetus warn us all about learning just a “little philosophy”?
Why do diamonds cost more than water, when water is essential to life? The answer eluded both Smith and Marx before its resolution arrived in the form of the Marginal Revolution.
Why do hippies seek transformation in tepees? Try as they might, they’re very much within the “mainstream” of Western art and ideology.
Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, became arguably the most impactful public intellectual in the present-day online media sphere after speaking out against impediments to free speech in the fall of 2016. While the “father figure” of the YouTube world is revered as a conservative warrior against “social justice”—and for inveighing against activists, postmodernists, neo-Marxists and those he labels “radical leftists”—closer inspection of his ideas suggests that, significant shortcomings aside, there are lessons even those of us who disagree politically and philosophically with Peterson can still learn from his public pedagogy.
A burning question: are the aesthetics of the Trump regime more “kitsch” or “camp”?
The recent boom of interest in alternative currencies has generated a dizzying amount of economic speculation, with a corresponding amount of confusion. The question that economists are asking right now is: what is the value of these currencies? Mainstream economics points to scarcity and utility as the primary sources of value, but these explanations don’t always yield satisfactory answers. The labor theory of value provides an alternative perspective on alternative currencies, one that might show us something of real worth in the emerging digital economy.
In a competition with already-famous poets, one of whom was her future husband, an 18-year-old Mary Shelley was asked to create a ghost story. Instead, she created a story of the perils of creative ambition, and the possibility that it might lead to a ghosting of the self.
Mark joins the folks at the Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast for a two-part holiday special on everyone’s favorite yuletide character, Friedrich Nietzsche!
What is the “lust of the mind” and how does it fit in with the modern university?
Yes, our episode 173 was not perfect. Maybe we can do a follow-up? Maybe you can help make that happen. Or maybe you think it was fine and we should all just move on.
It is our moral duty to call things as they are, and stop giving the asshole power by polluting the air with his name. Stop the erosion of our political discourse by using the hashtag #theasshole.
Yes, capitalism has provided a high standard of living, but how should goods other than monetary ones play into a public policy debate? Mark riffs off of Adam Smith and a video by Walter Williams.
“Your father was a computer engineer; your mother was a concert pianist, and when the spaceship lands, they make music together on the computer.”
King Laius died at the Cleft Way, where he got in the way of an emigrant to Thebes who happened also to be his son. The prophecy was that Oedipus would be the death of Laius, and it was in the name of avoiding this fate that father and son worked together to seal it. Yet what truly made Oedipus Continue Reading …
What are science, religion, and secularism? How have they interacted, historically, and what are the major issues in contemporary reflection on them? A new series explores these questions through the works of the scientists, theologians, and philosophers who have shaped the dialogue over the last century and a half.