Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Slavoj Žižek on what really makes him mad

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What really makes me mad when I read critical (and even some favorable) reactions to my work is the recurring characterization of me as a postmodern cultural critic – the one thing I don’t want to be. I consider myself a philosopher dealing with fundamental ontological questions, and, furthermore, a philosopher in the traditional vein of German Idealism.Everyone who has seen Hitchcock’s Vertigo remembers the mysterious scene in the sequoia park where Madeleine walks over to a redwood cross-section of an over-thousand-year-old trunk showing its growth history by date, points to two circular lines close to the outer edge and says: “Here I was born . . . and here I died.” In a similar way, we can imagine a philosophy muse in front of a timeline of European history, pointing to two date markers close to each other and saying: “Here I was born . . . and here I died.” The first marker designates 1781, the publication date of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and the second one 1831, the year of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s death.For me, in some sense, all of philosophy happened in these fifty years: the vast development prior to it was just a preparation for the rise of the notion of the transcendental, and in the post-Hegelian development, philosophy returns in the guise of the common Judy, i.e., the vulgar nineteenth-century empiricism. For me, all four great German idealists — Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel — articulated a distance towards idealist subjectivity and gained a non-metaphysical insight into the essence of history and the alienation of our existence. They struggled with how to break out of the horizon of absolute subjectivity without regressing to pre-transcendental realism.But which Hegel am I referring to here? Where am I speaking from? To simplify it to the utmost, the triad that defines my philosophical stance is that of Baruch Spinoza, Kant and Hegel. Spinoza is arguably the pinnacle of realist ontology: there is substantial reality out. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

Techne Theory: A New Language for Art

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2019.09.12 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Henry Staten, Techne Theory: A New Language for Art, Bloomsbury, 2019, 199pp., $26.95 (pbk), ISBN 9781472592903. Reviewed by Alan H. Goldman, College of William & Mary This is a book about creativity in the arts. Its thesis is opposed to the Romantic view of the artist as a lone genius who creates completely original works in flashes of inspired insight from the depths of his soul or deeply personal emotion. For the Romantic, the true genius's work will violate all past conventions and practices in embodying a radically new concept. She creates this work in a moment of divine-like inspiration ex nihilo. For Henry Staten, by contrast, there is no sharp line to be drawn between art and craft, as the artist, like the highly skilled craftsman, draws on a tradition of practical know-how built over long periods in domains within a culture. Implied in this tradition... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Retrenchment at St. Cloud State Targets Philosophy Faculty

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Three members of the Department of Philosophy at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) in Minnesota may lose their jobs if the school’s administration decides to proceed with plans for “retrenchment.” The SCSU administration has led the school into a position of projected budget shortfalls and declining enrollment over the next couple of years, according to the University Chronicle. In a scramble to avoid these problems, it has recommended dismissing eight faculty, including three philosophy professors. These professors will find out today whether they are being dismissed. Readers are encouraged to contact SCSU Provost Gregory (ddgregory@stcloudstate.edu) or President Wacker (robbyn.wacker@stcloudstate.edu) with messages of support for the philosophy faculty. In its decision to target the Department of Philosophy, the administration notes lower enrollments in philosophy courses, and identifies as causes of this curricular changes at the university that have led to fewer students being subject to requirements that philosophy courses fulfill, the development of more courses at the university outside of philosophy that students can take to fulfill these requirements, and an increase in the number of students coming to the school already having satisfied these requirements. In a response to the administration, the Department of Philosophy states that the administration’s plan “fails to consider the impact that retrenchment would have on St. Cloud State University, and the ways the Philosophy Department has responded to changes in enrollment. In order to adequately serve students across the university through the Liberal Education Program, as well as students majoring and minoring in Philosophy, the university must retain all current faculty.” The Department of Philosophy argues that the administration’s plans are based on outdated data and fail to take into account measures that the department has undertaken to respond to. . .

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News source: Daily Nous

André Gallois (1945-2019) (updated)

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André Norman Gallois, emeritus professor of philosophy at Syracuse University, died earlier this month. Professor Gallois was known for his work in metaphysics (especially the metaphysics of identity), philosophy of mind, and epistemology. In addition to many articles on these topics, he authored the books The World Without, The Mind Within (Cambridge, 1996), Occasions of Identity: A Study in the Metaphysics of Identity (Oxford, 1998), and The Metaphysics of Identity (Routledge, 2016). Professor Gallois studied philosophy at the University of Sussex and the University of Oxford, before taking up his first teaching position in 1971 at the University of Florida. He then moved to Australia, teaching initially at Monash University and then for many years at the University of Queensland. In 1997 he moved to Keele University, and then to Syracuse in 2002. In a post about him, Eric Schliesser (Amsterdam) writes: “André had firm views about what counts as philosophy that I sometimes thought too traditional. But once an issue was being analyzed, one could not imagine a gentler and more encouraging companion in shared, all-absorbing philosophical inquiry.” You can learn more about Professor Gallois’ work here. UPDATE (9/16/19): There is a detailed and personal obituary here. The post André Gallois (1945-2019) (updated) appeared first on Daily Nous.

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News source: Daily Nous

Self-Control, Decision Theory, and Rationality: New Essays

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2019.09.11 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews José Luis Bermúdez (ed.), Self-Control, Decision Theory, and Rationality: New Essays, Cambridge University Press, 2018, 268pp., $105.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781108420099. Reviewed by Richard Pettigrew, University of Bristol     When José Luis Bermúdez invited the authors of this volume to contribute, he described for them the paradigm sort of case he wished the volume to consider and the two questions about it that he wanted them to answer. Here is the version of the paradigm case that Johanna Thoma considers in her chapter ('Temptation and Preference-Based Instrumental Rationality'). You have been working all morning and it is now time for your coffee break. You want to watch an episode of your favourite TV programme during the break but you're worried that, if you do, you'll be tempted to watch a second episode straight after the first has finished, and currently you don't want that because you more strongly... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Modernizing

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There have been two big distractions from blogging over the last month. Well, there have been three if you count the political chaos here in the UK, and the unnerving sense that things really are falling apart in a dangerously nasty way. But I have nothing to add on that, except perhaps a recommendation of Chris Grey’s long-running Brexit blog, in the unlikely event that you are interested in finding informed writing on the ongoing shitshow here yet haven’t come across this truly admirable weekly commentary. But back to local distractions. One is having major building work done, a loft extension, and some other modernizing of the house. And I have no horror stories to report. All is going very well, it seems; our builders have been/are continuing to be terrific, and everything looks as if it is going to turn out even better than we hoped. But still, despite that … Three months of fairly continuous disturbance, albeit mostly at quite a low level, have been strangely unsettling — considerably more so than is rational, no doubt for deep reasons of having your space invaded. Weekends have been cherished oases of peace. However, after two solid weeks, the plasterers finished on Friday. So from here on, there won’t be the same levels of dirt and dust to contend with. There’s still a lot of upheaval in the house but I’ve ceremoniously taken down the dustsheets from all over the books in my miniature study, and a more cheering semi-normality returns  … Only another two months, on and off, to go … The other distraction has been the dratted IFL2. Yes, I did get a full version in to CUP by the beginning of August. But — long story — the Press have decided that they don’t like the layout I thought we’d agreed, so I’ve been recasting the logic book into the same format as my Gödel book which they also published, Computer Modernizing the text. But of course, it isn’t as simple as changing. . .

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News source: Logic Matters

John Duns Scotus – The ‘Subtle Doctor’ – Philosopher of the Month

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John Duns Scotus (b. c. 1265/1266–d. 1308) was one of the most significant Christian philosophers and theologians of the medieval period. Scotus made important and influential contributions in metaphysics, ethics, and natural theology. Little was known of his life but he was born in Scotland, became a Franciscan monk, spent his learning and professional life at Oxford and Paris, and died in Cologne. He was also the first theologian to defend the theory of Immaculate Conception. The doctrine of Immaculate Conception holds that God preserved the Virgin Mary from the taint of original sin from the moment she was conceived. Although Aristotle’s ideas were prevalent during the turn of the 13th century, he belonged to Franciscan tradition which, as opposed to Aristotle, emphasised the power of faith and will. He was also much influenced by Arabic philosophers, especially Avicenna, with their emphasis on Being as the metaphysical object.Scotus’s approach to philosophy was characterised by rigorous philosophical analysis, meticulous exposition of arguments and its use of technical concepts. Because of his nuanced and technical reasoning, he was referred to as the “subtle doctor.” Notably, Scotus made a distinctive contribution to natural theology in his proofs of God’s existence and the attributes of God. His arguments are both original and highly complex, establishing God as an efficient cause, an ultimate final cause, and a most eminent being, and finally as an “infinite being.” He took up some aspects of Aquinas’s arguments that all our knowledge about God starts from creatures but also presented his own arguments as modifications. Scotus’s univocal concept of being – the idea that words describing the nature of God mean the same thing as they apply to creatures and people – is also arguably his most famous position in this respect. He argued that we can apply certain predicates univocally to God and creatures with exactly the same meaning. This is in opposition. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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