Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Leibniz’s Philosophy of Mind

[Revised entry by Mark Kulstad and Laurence Carlin on June 29, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Leibniz's place in the history of the philosophy of mind is best secured by his pre-established harmony. In a more popular view, this is the thesis that, roughly, there is no mind-body interaction strictly speaking, for there is only a non-causal relationship of harmony, parallelism, or correspondence between mind and body. Certainly, the pre-established harmony is important for a proper understanding of Leibniz's philosophy of mind. But there is much more to be considered, and even when it comes to the [More]

Freedom, Action, and Motivation in Spinoza's Ethics

2020.06.29 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Noa Naaman-Zauderer (ed.), Freedom, Action, and Motivation in Spinoza's Ethics, Routledge, 2020, 255pp., $140.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780367362249. Reviewed by Andrew Youpa, Southern Illinois University This is a collection of original essays by ten scholars, with an in-depth introduction by the editor, Noa Naaman-Zauderer. Its title is apt: all ten essays deal with issues related to Spinoza's views on freedom, action, and motivation. The essays focus, as would be expected, on philosophical and interpretive issues that arise in Parts 3, 4, and 5 of the Ethics. It is not the volume's aim to provide an overview of Spinoza's views. As Naaman-Zauderer notes: "The main objective is thus neither to offer a comprehensive survey of Spinoza's view of freedom and activity in general . . . nor to refer to all aspects of his Ethics" (p. 3). Rather, each author addresses an issue or set of issues connected to... Read [More]

War by Agreement: A Contractarian Ethics of War

2020.06.28 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Yitzhak Benbaji and Daniel Statman, War by Agreement: A Contractarian Ethics of War, Oxford University Press, 2019, 215pp., $65.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780199577194. Reviewed by Saba Bazargan-Forward, University of California, San Diego There are two assumptions that have guided theorists writing on the ethics of war, since the scholastics and jurists of the late Renaissance and Early Modern periods (from roughly the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries). First, war is a relation between states (or, more recently, between a state and a collective aspiring to statehood) rather than a relation between individuals. Second, the moral rules governing conduct in war do not depend on the morality of the war being fought. These doctrines form the basis of what has come to be known as Just War theory. Since the turn of the century, however, the doctrines grounding Just War theory have come under sustained attack. According to this new revisionist critique, war is a relation... Read [More]

English as a Sacred Language: the path to a new global ecclesia

Latin was once considered a sacred language all over Western Europe. Today, we can see English as a global sacred language, but how long will it maintain this role? Imagine living in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. With the collapse of the Roman government, Europe had fragmented in a myriad of cities and statelets, each one with its territory and its language. Starting from your home town, it was enough to travel for a few hundred miles to find yourself in a land where nobody could understand you, nor you could understand them. You didn't even need to cross the border of the main linguistic blocks of the European territory (Romance, Anglo-Frisian, Germanic, Slavic, and more). Just the internal variation of each block was enough to make communication impossible.  It was the Babel tower again.But the old Roman Empire had left a heritage that kept Europe as a single cultural entity: it was Latin. Once the language of a small city-state in central Italy, it had spread all over the lands controlled by the empire as the language spoken by the legionnaires, the bureaucrats, the governors, and the tax collectors. All that was gone, but Latin had remained, too useful to disappear. It was the language of commerce, of diplomacy, of pilgrims and travelers, of intellectuals, and, more than all, it had morphed into a sacred language used by the Catholic Church. It was the language of the holy Christian books. Even though God had never spoken in Latin to anyone (we [More]

How we can understand ourselves through games

Games are a distinctive art form — one very different from the traditional arts. Game designers don’t just create an environment, or characters, or a story. They tell you who to be in the game. They set your basic abilities: whether you will run and jump, or move around your pieces geometrically, or bid and […] The post How we can understand ourselves through games appeared first on OUPblog.         Related StoriesAre militaries justified in existing?India Cooper and the art of copyeditingHow Buddhist monasteries were brought back from [More]

The Tyranny of the Mask?

Leon County in my adopted state of Florida has mandated the wearing of face coverings in indoor, public spaces. There are numerous exceptions to the requirement, such as while exercising (at a distance) and for health reasons. Those who violate the ordinance face an initial $50 fine which increases to $125 and then up to [More]

Is Gaia a Superorganism? No, she is a holobiont!

A few days ago, I was discussing with a friend and he used the term "superorganism" for Gaia as the Earth Goddess. When I said that Gaia is not a superorganism but a holobiont, he asked me, "but what is a holobiont, exactly?" I thought about that for a while, and then I said, "a holobiont is a democracy, a superorganism is a dictatorship."If you have a friend who is a biologist, try to tell her that Gaia is a superorganism. Likely, she won't be happy and, even if she won't attack you physically, she will at least ask you, venomously, "And so, tell me, good sir, how could natural selection have generated this -- ahem-- 'Gaia' of yours? You tell me that there is only one Gaia on this planet and so, in order to evolve, did perhaps different planetary ecosystems in the galaxy competed with each other?" I am not inventing this, it is the scathing criticism of the Gaia theory that Richard Dawkins produced in his book, "The Extended Phenotype" (1982).Given a certain interpretation of Darwin's idea, Dawkins' position is logical and even unavoidable. There is just one problem: the common interpretation of Darwin's theory is wrong.Don't misunderstand me: Darwin was one of the greatest scientific geniuses in history. But we need to take into account that he was working on limited data and with limited tools. He himself could never decide exactly between two concepts that he used interchangeably: "natural selection" and "survival of the fittest." They are not the same thing, not [More]