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Philosophy everywhere everywhen
The First Law of Philosophy: For every philosopher, there exists an equal and opposite philosopher. The Second Law of Philosophy: They're bo
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The Myth of Universal Love

The Myth of Universal Love | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Expanding our ethical care to include all of humanity is a nice idea, but it involves a misunderstanding of the source of our empathy: emotions.

 

Now that the year-end holidays have passed, so have the barrage of entreaties to nurture a sense of “good will to all mankind,” to extend our love and care to others beyond our usual circle of friends and family. Certainly, this is a message we are meant to take to heart not just in December but all year long. It is a central ideal of several religious and ethical systems.

 

In the light of the new year, it’s worth considering how far we actually can, or should, extend this good will.

 

To some, the answer might seem obvious. One of the more deeply engrained assumptions of Western liberalism is that we humans can indefinitely increase our capacity to care for others, that we can, with the right effort and dedication, extend our care to wider and wider circles until we envelop the whole species within our ethical regard. It is an inspiring thought. But I’m rather doubtful. My incredulity, though, is not because people are hypocritical about their ideals or because they succumb to selfishness. The problem lies, instead, in a radical misunderstanding about the true wellsprings of ethical care, namely the emotions.

 

Two of the leading liberal social theorists, Jeremy Rifkin and Peter Singer, think we can overcome factional bias and eventually become one giant tribe. They have different prescriptions for arriving at ethical utopia.

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Does confidence really breed success?

Does confidence really breed success? | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
More and more American university students think they are something special - but could high self-esteem actually be bad for your life chances?
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Research suggests that more and more American university students think they are something special. High self-esteem is generally regarded as a good thing - but could too much of it actually make you less successful?

About nine million young people have filled out the American Freshman Survey, since it began in 1966.

It asks students to rate how they measure up to their peers in a number of basic skills areas - and over the past four decades, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being "above average" for academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability and self-confidence.

This was revealed in a new analysis of the survey data, by US psychologist Jean Twenge and colleagues.

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A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition — consc.net — Readability

ABSTRACT

Computation is central to the foundations of modern cognitive science, but its role is controversial. Questions about computation abound: What is it for a physical system to implement a computation? Is computation sufficient for thought? What is the role of computation in a theory of cognition? What is the relation between different sorts of computational theory, such as connectionism and symbolic computation? In this paper I develop a systematic framework that addresses all of these questions.

Justifying the role of computation requires analysis of implementation, the nexus between abstract computations and concrete physical systems. I give such an analysis, based on the idea that a system implements a computation if the causal structure of the system mirrors the formal structure of the computation. This account can be used to justify the central commitments of artificial intelligence and computational cognitive science: the thesis of computational sufficiency, which holds that the right kind of computational structure suffices for the possession of a mind, and the thesis of computational explanation, which holds that computation provides a general framework for the explanation of cognitive processes. The theses are consequences of the facts that (a) computation can specify general patterns of causal organization, and (b) mentality is an organizational invariant, rooted in such patterns. Along the way I answer various challenges to the computationalist position, such as those put forward by Searle. I close by advocating a kind of minimal computationalism, compatible with a very wide variety of empirical approaches to the mind. This allows computation to serve as a true foundation for cognitive science.

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Badiou: Politics, Philosophy, and Critique

Among the political theories I find most appealing, is that of Badiou’s.  There are roughly four reasons for this: First, and perhaps foremost, Badiou does not treat everything as political. ...

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….philosophy is…the configuration, within thought, of the fact that its four generic conditions (the poem [art], the matheme [science], the political and love) are compossible in the eventful form prescribe the truths of the time, a suspension of philosophy can result from the restriction or blockage of the free play required in order to define a regime of passage, or of intellectual circulation between the truth procedures conditioning philosophy.  The most frequent cause of such a blockage is that instead of construct a space of compossibility through which the thinking of time is practiced, philosophy delegates its function to one or other of its conditions, handing over the whole of thought to one generic position.  Philosophy is then carried out in the element of its own suppression to the great benefit of that procedure.

I shall call this type of situation a suture.  Philosophy is placed in suspension every time it presents itself as being sutured to one of its conditions.  (61)

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Pursuing literary immortality illuminates how the mind works

Pursuing literary immortality illuminates how the mind works | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
The initial excitement of hearing a new song fades as it’s replayed to death.
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That's because the brain naturally functions as a kind of ticking time bomb, obliterating the thrill for artistic sounds, images and words by making them familiar over time.

So the artist, musician or author's challenge is to create a work that retains a freshness, according to Case Western Reserve University's Michael Clune, in his new book, Writing Against Time (Stanford University Press). And, for the artist, musician or writer, creating this newness with each work is a race against "brain time."

Clune explains how neurobiological forces designed for our survival naturally make interest in art fade. But the forces don't stop artists from trying for timelessness.

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The Constitution: Who Needs It? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Constitution: Who Needs It? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Louis Michael Seidman wants to scrap America's foundational document, and he has anticipated your objections.
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Jamming About the Mind at Qualia Fest,Where Theory and Research Meet to Jam About the Mind

Jamming About the Mind at Qualia Fest,Where Theory and Research Meet to Jam About the Mind | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
In its third year, Qualia Fest, a gathering of musically inclined philosophers and neuroscientists, will continue to promote the overlap of theorists and practical researchers through music.

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The opportunity to hear Professor Chalmers, one of the most celebrated philosophers of mind and a visiting professor at New York University, will next arise on Monday night at the third annual Qualia Fest, a lineup of seven bands, most of whose members hail from the realms of philosophy and neuroscience.

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The best psychology books of 2012

The best psychology books of 2012 | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

It's the season for Christmas book lists and we've trawled through them, looking for the psychology-themed tomes earning a recommendation.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by psychologist Jonathan Haidt - listed by the Sunday Times as one of their favourite thought-provoking books of the year (also chosen by the Guardian as a top psychology book).

In the same Sunday Times category was listed Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, which also won GoodReads vote for best non-fiction of the year.

In its list of the over-looked non-fiction books of the year Slate highlights The Wisdom of Psychopaths by psychologist Kevin Dutton: a "terrifically entertaining and chilling book".

Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad Doctors of Victorian England by Sarah Wise (Bodley Head, £20) - Sebastian Faulks for the Daily Telegraph recommended it, saying "it is an illuminating look at an area of social history that inspired Wilkie Collins among others".

Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired by Till Roenneberg was chosen by Brain Pickings as one of the best science books of the year.

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Bataille and the Birth of the Subject

Bataille and the Birth of the Subject | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

This article examines how Georges Bataille, one of the celebrated precursors of the postmodern death of a linguistic subject (the subject of the signifier), is also a Nietzschean, pre-Freudian thinker who offers us an account of the birth of an affective subject (the subject of mimesis). If critics still tend to recuperate Bataille within a “metaphysics of the subject,” the present article shows that the central concept of his thought (i.e., “sovereign communication”) needs to be reconsidered in the light of his debt to Pierre Janet’s “psychology of the socius,” an interpersonal psychology that transgresses precisely this metaphysics. In line with contemporary theoretical developments, Bataille’s account of the birth of the subject out of the laughter of the socius offers us a theoretical model to rethink the foundations of subjectivity in relational, mimetic terms.

 

(2011). Bataille and the Birth of the Subject. Angelaki: Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 73-88.

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Will augmented reality be the next digital battlefield? : Postnoon

Will augmented reality be the next digital battlefield? : Postnoon | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

On Monday, Microsoft was given a patent on ‘augmented reality’ (AR) glasses that would enhance sports and other live events with streams of information beamed directly in front of the user — even including action replays and lyrics of songs. Google’s Glass Project is already active in this sphere. But what is AR, and will it be the next digital battlefield? We take a look.

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Poiēsis and technē in Foucault and Heidegger: Towards an Aesthetics of Free Being

Poiēsis and technē in Foucault and Heidegger: Towards an Aesthetics of Free Being | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
"Foucault’s writings in Discipline and Punish, The History of Sexuality and later essays, lectures and interviews suggests a way of understanding power – power not simply in terms of the production of bodies and behaviours, but power as a finite...

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Robert Pirsig and Montana State University | The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast | A Philosophy Podcast and Blog

Robert Pirsig and Montana State University | The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast | A Philosophy Podcast and Blog | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

Robert Pirsig, the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974), will be celebrated at Montana State University in Bozeman on the weekend of December 7th and 8th. On December 15th, during their commencement ceremonies, he will receive an honorary Doctorate from MSU.

These events offer some sweet redemption for Pirsig both personally and philosophically. In terms of his own philosophical journey, as his readers will know, Bozeman is ground zero. His quest for “Quality” began on the campus of MSU and led him to enroll in a Doctoral program at the University of Chicago, which then led him into madness and/or enlightenment. (Pirsig himself does not dispute either interpretation.)

He never did get his Ph.D. but with millions of readers (5 or 6 million copies sold in 27 languages), it’s hard to imagine how his book could have been any more successful. Now, fifty years later, Pirsig is finally getting that degree and in recent years his work has been officially established within academic philosophy, thanks to Anthony McWatt, who wrote the world’s first dissertation on Pirsig’s work in 2005 and to David Granger’s dissertation, published in 2006 as John Dewey, Robert Pirsig, and the Art of Living. It’s like one of those happy endings written in Hollywood, almost too neat and tidy to be true. It’s a full circle from Bozeman to Bozeman in life, in the book, and in life again. It’s a fifty year cycle that almost literally begins and ends in same building, Montana Hall, right in the center of campus. This neat vindication is all the sweeter because Pirsig, who is 84 years of age, is still around to see this happen.

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The Taste for Being Moral by Thomas Nagel | The New York Review of Books

The Taste for Being Moral by Thomas Nagel | The New York Review of Books | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

Human beings want to understand themselves, and in our time such understanding is pursued on a wide front by the biological, psychological, and social sciences. One of the questions presented by these forms of self-understanding is how to connect them with the actual lives all of us continue to lead, using the faculties and engaging in the activities and relations that are described by scientific theories.

An important example is the universal human phenomenon of morality. Even if we come to accept descriptive theories of the different forms of morality based on evolutionary biology, neuroscience, or developmental and social psychology, each of us also holds specific moral views, makes moral judgments, and governs his conduct and political choices partly on the basis of those attitudes. How do we combine the external descriptive view of ourselves provided by empirical science with the active internal engagement of real life?

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Could Human Enhancement Turn Soldiers Into Weapons That Violate International Law? Yes

Could Human Enhancement Turn Soldiers Into Weapons That Violate International Law? Yes | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
New technologies reveal ambiguities and hidden assumptions in international humanitarian law.

 

Science fiction, or actual U.S. military project? Half a world away from the battlefield, a soldier controls his avatar-robot that does the actual fighting on the ground. Another one wears a sticky fabric that enables her to climb a wall like a gecko or spider would. Returning from a traumatic mission, a pilot takes a memory-erasing drug to help ward off post-traumatic stress disorder. Mimicking the physiology of dolphins and sled-dogs, a sailor is able to work his post all week without sleep and only a few meals.

All of these scenarios are real military projects currently in various stages of research. This is the frontlines of the Human Enhancement Revolution -- we now know enough about biology, neuroscience, computing, robotics, and materials to hack the human body, reshaping it in our own image. And defense-related applications are a major driver of science and technology research.

But, as I reported earlier, we also face serious ethical, legal, social, and operational issues in enhancing warfighters. Here, I want to drill down on what the laws of war say about military human enhancements, as we find that other technologies such as robotics and cyberweapons run into serious problems in this area as well.

Should enhancement technologies -- which typically do not directly interact with anyone other than the human subject -- be nevertheless subject to a weapons legal-review? That is, is there a sense in which enhancements could be considered as "weapons" and therefore under the authority of certain laws?

In international humanitarian law (IHL), also known as the laws of war, the primary instruments relevant to human enhancements include: Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907), Geneva Conventions (1949 and Additional Protocols I, II, and III), Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (1972), Chemical Weapons Convention (1993), and other law. Below, I discuss these agreements and what their implications may be for human enhancement.

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Meaning on the Brain: How Your Mind Organizes Reality | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network

Meaning on the Brain: How Your Mind Organizes Reality | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

They called him “Diogenes the Cynic,” because “cynic” meant “dog-like,” and he had a habit of basking naked on the lawn while his fellow philosophers talked on the porch. While they debated the mysteries of the cosmos, Diogenes preferred to soak up some rays – some have called him the Jimmy Buffettof ancient Greece.

Anyway, one morning, the great philosopher Plato had a stroke of insight. He caught everyone’s attention, gathered a crowd around him, and announced his deduction: “Man is defined as a hairless, featherless, two-legged animal!” Whereupon Diogenes abruptly leaped up from the lawn, dashed off to the marketplace, and burst back onto the porch carrying a plucked chicken – which he held aloft and shouted, “Behold: I give you… Man!”

I’m sure Plato was less than thrilled at this stunt, but the story reminds us that these early philosophers were still hammering out the most basic tenets of the science we now know as taxonomy: The grouping of objects from the world into abstract categories. This technique of chopping up reality wasn’t invented in ancient Greece, though. In fact, as a recent study shows, it’s fundamental to the way our brains work.

 

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Immanence and Deterritorialization: The Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari — www.bu.edu — Readability

In the following I would like to talk about a topic that has been treated very little in academic philosophy. The works of GILLES DELEUZE - and not to forget his co-author, FÉLIX GUATTARI - are still treated as 'curiosities' and their importance for philosophical discussions is not recognized. (2) In opposition to this, I will show what the very concept of philosophy means to these two thinkers.

In doing this I will start with the more theoretical backround. As many others have already I will stress the decisive influence of DELEUZE'S thinking, but I will also try to indicate the impact GUATTARI had on him. This account will therefore show DELEUZE'S attempts - before GUATTARI - to concieve of a non-dialectic philosophy of becoming. After that I will turn to the rethinking of such an approach given the influence of GUATTARI and his anti-psychoanalytic analysis of territorial processes. The outcome will be the resulting conception of the philosophical activity as an act of 'becoming-minor'.

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Toward a Pluripotent Hybridity: A new body agency of self? | Artbrain

A performative context The development of new biology(1) has opened up new possibilities for the question of what defines the nature of humanity(2) and the
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The development of new biology(1) has opened up new possibilities for the question of what defines the nature of humanity(2) and the risk of biopower,(3)
to explore and develop endogenous capacities of the body. With the discovery of embryonic pluripotent stem cells, nanotech(4) and prosthesis
the old definition of the mechanical body was no longer sufficient for describing the plasticity and the reconfiguration of body agency. By body agency, we not only mean a human enhancement(5), but also the activation of the pluripotential body through its biotechnological performance. The matter of the body is the result, as Judith Butler has noted, of our performative action on it by our technological expertise. If the paradigm of technics was always based on the passive model of the stimulation of immunologic defenses like Koch and Pasteur had demonstrated, this conception of the body was related to a respect for the notion of cellular integrity resulting from an exploitation of mechanism. The reactive model is different from the performative model: the enhancement of the body, even if a new body-shop appears(6) , is not the same project of post-human(7) disembodiment because pluripotentiality implies and supposes not only the deconstruction of the body but also its reconfiguration. Enhancing me(8) is a hybrid solution and not a new eugenics for the production of better people(9).

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philosophy bites: Alan Ryan on Freedom and Its History

philosophy bites: Alan Ryan on Freedom and Its History | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Alan Ryan explores questions about what freedom has meant at different times in history in this Philosophy Bites podcast interview with Nigel Warburton.

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Eleven Dogmas of Analytic Philosophy-Natural philosophy uses scientific evidence, not intuitions.

Eleven Dogmas of Analytic Philosophy-Natural philosophy uses scientific evidence, not intuitions. | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

 

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Philosophy is the attempt to answer fundamental questions about the nature of knowledge, reality, and morals. In North America and the United Kingdom, the dominant approach is analytic philosophy, which attempts to use the study of language and logic to analyze concepts that are important for the study of knowledge (epistemology), reality (metaphysics), and morality (ethics).

I prefer an alternative approach to philosophy that is much more closely tied to scientific investigations. This approach is sometimes called “naturalistic philosophy” or “philosophy naturalized”, but I like the more concise term natural philosophy. Before the words “science” and “scientist” became common in the nineteenth century, researchers such as Newton described what they did as natural philosophy. I propose to revive this term to cover a method that ties epistemology and ethics closely to the cognitive sciences, and ties metaphysics closely to physics and other sciences.

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A Brief Note on Incorporeal Machines

A Brief Note on Incorporeal Machines | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
One of the major innovations of Onto-Cartography is the introduction of incorporeal machines.  While incorporeal machines were already implicit in my treatment of Luhmann in The Democracy of Object...

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Under Deleuze and Guattari’s account, the plane of content is composed entirely of bodies– what I call corporeal machines –affecting and being affected by one another. The relationship of a smith to his hammer and anvil, for example, belong to the plane of content. The way in which the interaction of these three machines affect one another differs from the way in which signifiers affect bodies. The perpetual hammering on the metal of the anvil produces corporeal changes in the smith’s body. His muscle structure, bone structure, and way of holding himself change over time. This is not the result of expression or signs.

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Educated intuitions. Automaticity and rationality in moral judgement

Educated intuitions. Automaticity and rationality in moral judgement | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

Moral judgements are based on automatic processes. Moral judgements are based on reason. In this paper, I argue that both of these claims are true, and show how they can be reconciled. Neither the automaticity of moral judgement nor the post hoc nature of conscious moral reasoning pose a threat to rationalist models of moral cognition. The relation moral reasoning bears to our moral judgements is not primarily mediated by episodes of conscious reasoning, but by the acquisition, formation and maintenance – in short: education – of our moral intuitions.

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2012). Educated intuitions. Automaticity and rationality in moral judgement. Philosophical Explorations: Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 255-275.

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Read of the day: Philosophy and the Poetic Imagination

Read of the day: Philosophy and the Poetic Imagination | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Poetry can help awaken us to the richness of the language that surrounds us, even in the seeming cacophony of the digital age.

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Perhaps now more than ever, we spend our days immersed in language. We communicate—talk, write and read—through a burgeoning array of forms and technologies. But most of us rarely stop to think about how language works, or how come we succeed in getting our ideas across in words. It all seems to happen naturally. Poets, novelists, speechwriters or the merely curious sometimes confront these questions, but it is a job that often falls to linguists and philosophers of language.

Here’s one striking puzzle: We speak and write with remarkably different aims. We sometimes try to get clear on the facts, so we can reach agreement on how things are. But we sometimes try to express ourselves so we can capture the uniqueness of our viewpoint and experiences. It is the same for listeners: language lets us learn the answers to practical questions, but it also opens us up to novel insights and perspectives. Simply put, language straddles the chasm between science and art.

A central challenge for philosophy is to explain how language accommodates these two very different kinds of enterprise. Literary theorists and translators often say that artistic language takes on special meaning (semantics), different from what we ordinarily find. Cognitive scientists often say instead that the difference comes from our ability to recognize the purposes and goals of speakers who use language in different ways (pragmatics). We believe, contrary to these received views, that the key differences are to be found in the different ways the audience can engage with language.

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What truly exists? Structure as a route to the real - opinion - 28 November 2012 - New Scientist

ARE you ever tempted to ask whether entities such as electrons, black holes or the Higgs particle really exist? As a chemist, I worry about what is real and dependable in my field. Is it the "entities" or the "theories" of chemistry and quantum mechanics that largely explain the periodic table? I also care because all of this goes to the heart of an old, important - and unresolved - debate about how to regard scientific discoveries.

There are two main camps in this debate: scientific realism and anti-realism. Scientific realism holds that if science has made great progress by invoking entities such as electrons, then we should take the next step of accepting that they really do exist, that the world described by science is the "real" world. Our present theories are too successful to have happened by chance: somehow we have latched onto the blueprint of the universe.

This is not to everybody's taste. Anti-realists accept the progress made by science but stop short of taking the additional leap of faith of believing in the materiality of things they cannot actually see. The anti-realist typically presents a counter-argument along these lines: so many past theories and theorised entities have come and gone (remember ether or phlogiston?), why should we ever regard any of them as "real"? It is difficult to say how many scientists belong to each camp - moreover, you may be a realist about some theories but an anti-realist about more abstract theories such as quantum mechanics.

Anti-realists also argue that their approach places them in a better position to adapt to change when a particular entity or theory becomes redundant. Not investing belief in a particular theory, they claim, allows them to move on to alternatives more easily.

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26 November 1831: The origins of Frankenstein-As a revised edition of her famous novel Frankenstein is published, Mary Shelley reveals the genesis of the story

26 November 1831: The origins of Frankenstein-As a revised edition of her famous novel Frankenstein is published, Mary Shelley reveals the genesis of the story | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

Many and long were the conversations between Lord Byron and Shelley, to which I was a devout but nearly silent listener. During one of these, various philosophical doctrines were discussed, and among others the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated.

They talked of the experiments of Dr. Darwin (I speak not of what the doctor really did, or said that he did, but, as more to my purpose, of what was then spoken of as having been done by him), who preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case, till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion. Not thus, after all, would life be given. Perhaps a corpse would be reanimated; galvanism had given token of such things; perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endued with vital warmth.

Night waned upon this talk, and even the witching hour had gone by before we retired to rest. When I placed my head on my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bound of reverie. I saw - with shut eyes, but acute mental vision - I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together; I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out; and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion.

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Nietzsche, Our Contemporary-Eric Walther introduces the infamous iconoclast | Issue 93 | Philosophy Now

Nietzsche, Our Contemporary-Eric Walther introduces the infamous iconoclast | Issue 93 | Philosophy Now | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

Friedrich Nietzsche, who was born in 1844, fell silent in 1889, and died eleven years later, was the first great philosopher of the twentieth century. What made, and makes, him so important, is that he recognized with great clarity and impressive foresight the most troubling and persistent problem of modernity, the problem of values. His attempts to resolve this problem were not successful, but they did uncover depths of issues that still defeat our best efforts today.Let’s begin with his notorious declaration that “God is dead” (first in The Gay Science, 1872). Secular thinking is a commonplace today, but in Nietzsche’s time this declaration was strikingly prophetic. The point of the claim is not so much to assert atheism: although Nietzsche was certainly an atheist, he was far from being a pioneer of European atheism. Rather, his observation is sociological, in a way: he means that Western culture no longer places God at the center of things. In another way, the term ‘sociological’ is quite misleading, for there is nothing ‘value-neutral’ in Nietzsche’s assertion. The death of God has knocked the pins out from under Western value systems, and revealed an abyss below. The values we still continue to live by have lost their meaning, and we are cast adrift, whether we realize it or not. The question is, what do we do now?

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