Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Pragmatism, Objectivity, and Experience

2020.06.14 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Steven Levine, Pragmatism, Objectivity, and Experience, Cambridge University Press, 2019, 270pp., $105.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781108422895. Reviewed by Robert Kraut, The Ohio State University Steven Levine has written a superb book. The title advertises three perennially puzzling topics: pragmatism, objectivity, and experience. Some background will help locate his project on a larger map. Precise specification of pragmatism would be useful, but difficult to provide: a wide variety of views tend to appear under the pragmatist rubric. Frequently it involves little more than homage paid to the work of James, Peirce, and/or Dewey. More robust versions stress doctrinal and/or methodological views about truth and reference (e.g., the rejection of truth-as-correspondence-to-reality, or a more thoroughgoing deflationism about semantic discourse); other versions foreground the primacy of institutional norms, the impossibility of epistemically privileged representation, the significance of justificatory holism, rejection of the Enlightenment tradition built upon the pursuit... Read [More]

Georges Canguilhem and the Problem of Error

2020.06.13 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Samuel Talcott, Georges Canguilhem and the Problem of Error, Palgrave MacMillan, 2019, 294pp., $89.99 (hbk), ISBN 9783030007782. Reviewed by Paul M. Livingston, University of New Mexico Under current global conditions, it is hardly necessary to belabor the immediate relevance of the work of a twentieth-century philosopher who focused, throughout his career, on problems of collective thought and practice at the intersections of ethics, politics and biomedicine. But as Samuel Talcott's admirable new study exhaustively shows, Georges Canguilhem's sustained effort to analyze the concepts of health, normalcy, and sociopolitical activity also bears important broader lessons for contemporary philosophers engaged in critically thinking about the logical and historical structure of scientific knowledge in its relationship to life. Canguilhem was trained in medicine as well as philosophy, and one aim of his work on the logic, epistemology, and history of the concepts of the life sciences and psychology is to... Read [More]

Interpreting Bergson: Critical Essays

2020.06.12 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Alexandre Lefebvre and Nils F. Schott (eds.), Interpreting Bergson: Critical Essays, Cambridge University Press, 2020, 238pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108421157. Reviewed by Heath Massey, Beloit College In the introduction to Creative Evolution, Henri Bergson sketches an approach to philosophy that would combine epistemology with evolutionary biology in order to show how the human intellect emerges as an adaptive response to our environment and why the concepts employed by this faculty are poorly suited for grasping the diversity, complexity, and creativity of life. Ambitious as it sounds, he regards this project as the beginning of a larger enterprise: Unlike the philosophical systems properly so called, each of which was the individual work of a man of genius and sprang up as a whole, to be taken or left, [such a philosophy] will only be built up by the collective and progressive effort of many thinkers, of many... Read [More]

Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Language,

2020.06.10 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Dimitris Apostolopoulos, Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Language, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019, 311pp., $120.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781786611994. Reviewed by David Morris, Concordia University Dimitris Apostolopoulos' provocative book introduces a new Merleau-Ponty, one for whom language and philosophy of language are so central that language is a concomitant or co-constitutive condition of phenomenology and ontology, alongside perceptual and temporal foundations. Apostolopoulos forthrightly admits this claim about linguistic "foundations" (his preferred term) challenges the usual emphasis on the primacy of perception in Merleau-Ponty. His reading will stir debates in Merleau-Ponty scholarship and phenomenology and enriches the study of the role of language in Merleau-Ponty's philosophy. It also leads to, but leaves open, deeper questions about just what language is and how it relates to what is prior to language. Chapter 1 introduces the problem of language through Merleau-Ponty's first book, The Structure of Behaviour (1942), which,... Read [More]

Why do people touch each other all the time? Sex among holobionts

Nowadays, we are encouraged to exterminate our skin microbiome by means of various poisonous substances. But this is not a good idea. We are holobionts, and our microbiome is part of us. If we kill the microbiome, we kill ourselves. Touching each other is a way to keep our microbiome alive, it is a form of sex ("holosex") intended as a form of communication.  The lady in this picture seems to understand the point, at least judging from her unhappy expression. (see also the "proud holobionts" group on Facebook)Humans tend to touch each other. They hug, pat, rub, kiss, cuddle, clutch, caress, clasp, embrace, each other a lot. Think of the kissing habits ("la bise") that's typical of the French society, it is done also in Italy and in other Latin countries. In most societies (*), at least some kind of skin contact is supposed to be a sign of reciprocal trust and confidence.But, today, we are seeing a completely different pattern diffusing all over the world. With the coronavirus epidemic, people are not shaking hands anymore, to say nothing about kissing and hugging each other. Not only people don't want to touch other people, but they are also positively scared of getting close to each other. It is called "social distancing" and it involves a series of ritualized behaviors of dubious efficacy against the epidemic that include wearing face masks, sanitizing one's hands, spraying disinfectants all over people and things, raising plexiglass barriers, and more. So, what's [More]

Why do people touch each other all the time? The ways of sex among holobionts

Nowadays, we are continuously encouraged to exterminate our skin microbiome by means of various poisonous substances. But this is not a good idea. We are holobionts, and our microbiome is part of us. If we kill the microbiome, we kill ourselves. Touching each other is a way to keep our microbiome alive, it is a form of sex ("holosex") intended as a form of communication.  The lady in this picture seems to understand the point, at least judging from her unhappy expression. (see also the "proud holobionts" group on Facebook)Humans tend to touch each other. They hug, pat, rub, kiss, cuddle, clutch, caress, clasp, embrace, each other a lot. It is part of the various cultural habits of different societies. It is true that some cultures don't encourage this kind of contact in public (*). But, in many cases, reciprocal contact is common, think of the kissing habits ("la bise") that's typical of the French society, it is done also in Italy and in other Latin countries. In most societies, at least some kind of skin contact is supposed to be a sign of reciprocal trust and confidence.But, today, we are seeing a completely different pattern diffusing all over the world, even in cultures that, up to now, had encouraged physical contact. With the coronavirus epidemic, people are not shaking hands anymore, to say nothing about kissing and hugging each other. Not only people don't want to touch other people, but they are also positively scared of getting close to each other. It is [More]