In my last essay, I argued that it was important to distinguish science from non-science, and that a first step toward doing so was to distinguish between nomothetic (law-seeking) sciences like physics and chemistry, and idiographic (particularizing) sciences like biology and geography. I tried to show that science doesn’t have to copy methods characteristic of physics in order to count Continue Reading …
A burning question: are the aesthetics of the Trump regime more “kitsch” or “camp”?
The claim to be doing science is a claim to prestige and authority. For this reason, it’s important to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate claims to that term, and in order to do that we need to have a clear idea of what science really is.
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.
The monster represents the return of a devitalized creator, where the loss of vitality represents a failure of creativity—driven by an inability to tolerate the imperfection of the creative process. The solution involves reconciling the fact of being a creature with that of being a creator.
Perfect childhoods are deadly traps, but neglecting one’s family—in favor of one’s creative ambitions—is no escape.
In a previous article, we finished our exploration of Michael Allen Gillespie’s Theological Origins of Modernity. One of the things I tried to show, on the basis of Gillespie’s argument, was that modern intellectual history can be mapped, more or less exhaustively, according to a three-part diagram, where the axes are defined by the place where explanation stops. The medieval Continue Reading …
Creative commitment and perfectionism do not mix: There is nothing like a perfect childhood to produce the perfect monster.
In their “workshop of filthy creation”—in which their endeavors are monstrously incomplete—how do artists remain committed?
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.
One thing that quickly becomes apparent in discussions about science and religion is that there are a lot of stories out there. Some of them are quite good. Too good, even. Consider, for instance, Myth #8 in Galileo Goes to Jail, an essay anthology edited by historian of science Ronald L. Numbers. According to this myth, Galileo was imprisoned in Continue Reading …
Part of the way the prestige of science has been established in our own time is through the rhetoric of favorable contrasts. In previous articles, we’ve seen one instance of this contrast in the tripartite division of European history: rational inquiry flourished in the ancient world, withered in the medieval times, and was revived again in the time of the Continue Reading …
We come to the end of our series within a series, on Michael Allen Gillespie’s Theological Origins of Modernity. We’ve spent a lot of time on this text because it’s such good, rich material, and because it’s a fairly recent book with a genuinely novel perspective. For my part, I’m persuaded that nominalism goes a long way toward explaining the Continue Reading …
“Each person, whether saint, solider, or philosopher, follows some irresistible call of his nature.” –Petrarch
In the last article, we saw how William of Ockham developed his nominalist philosophy in the context of disputes within the medieval Franciscan order. Ockham’s nominalism—the thesis that there are no real, abstract universal concepts, but that these terms refer only to ideas that we have—undercut Aristotelian arguments about the naturalness of property ownership, based as they were on the Continue Reading …
Both opponents and proponents of the use of this rhetoric make a mistake that obscures what’s really at issue. The purpose is to point out some often-ignored current disparities, historical occurrences, and facts about how people feel, not to claim that injustices are literally caused by a mechanism of privilege.
How an important element of both modern philosophy and science emerged from an obscure dispute within the medieval Franciscan order involving Plato, Aristotle, the Roman Catholic Church, and William of Ockham, among others.
What is the “lust of the mind” and how does it fit in with the modern university?
“Next to the word ‘Nature,’ ‘The Great Chain of Being’ was the sacred phrase of the eighteenth century, playing a part somewhat analogous to that of the blessed word ‘evolution’ in the nineteenth.” –Arthur O. Lovejoy
From, whence, then, could arise the solitary and strange conceit that the Almighty, who had millions of worlds equally dependent on his protection, should quit the care of all the rest, and come to die in our world because, they say, one man and one woman had eaten an apple. –Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason