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We human beings had no say in existing--we just opened our eyes and found ourselves here. We have a fundamental need to understand who we are and the world we live in. Reason takes us a long way, but mystery remains. When our minds and senses are baffled, faith can seem justified--but faith is not knowledge. In Ultimate Questions, acclaimed philosopher Bryan Magee provocatively argues that we have no way of fathoming our own natures or finding definitive answers to the big questions we all face. With eloquence and grace, Magee urges us to be the mapmakers of what is intelligible, and to identify the boundaries of meaningfulness. He traces this tradition of thought to his chief philosophical mentors--Locke, Hume, Kant, and Schopenhauer--and shows why this approach to the enigma of existence can enrich our lives and transform our understanding of the human predicament. As Magee puts it, "There is a world of difference between being lost in the daylight and being lost in the dark." The crowning achievement to a distinguished philosophical career, Ultimate Questions is a deeply personal meditation on the meaning of life and the ways we should live and face death.
In this revised and updated edition of The Secret Connexion, Galen Strawson explores one of the most discussed subjects in all philosophy: David Hume's work on causation. Strawson challenges the standard view of Hume, according to which he thinks that there is no such thing as causal influence, and that there is nothing more to causation than things of one kind regularly following things things of another kind. He argues that Hume does believe in causal influence, but insists that we cannot know its nature. The regularity theory of causation is indefensible, and Hume never adopted it in any case.
Human beings are not model epistemic citizens. Our reasoning can be careless and uncritical, and our beliefs, desires, and other attitudes aren't always as they ought rationally to be. Our beliefs can be eccentric, our desires irrational and our hopes hopelessly unrealistic. Our attitudes are influenced by a wide range of non-epistemic or non-rational factors, including our character, our emotions, and powerful unconscious biases. Yet we are rarely conscious of such influences. Self-ignorance is not something to which human beings are immune. In this book Quassim Cassam develops an account of self-knowledge which tries to do justice to these and other respects in which humans aren't model epistemic citizens. He rejects rationalist and other mainstream philosophical accounts of self-knowledge on the grounds that, in more than one sense, they aren't accounts of self-knowledge for humans. Instead he defends the view that inferences from behavioural and psychological evidence are a basic source of human self-knowledge. On this account, self-knowledge is a genuine cognitive achievement and self-ignorance is almost always on the cards. As well as explaining knowledge of our own states of mind, Cassam also accounts for what he calls 'substantial' self-knowledge, including knowledge of our values, emotions, and character. He criticizes philosophical accounts of self-knowledge for neglecting substantial self-knowledge, and concludes with a discussion of the value of self-knowledge. This book tries to do for philosophy what behavioural economics tries to do for economics. Just as behavioural economics is the economics of homo sapiens, as distinct from the economics of an ideally rational and self homo economics, so Cassam argues that philosophy should focus on the human predicament rather than on the reasoning and self-knowledge of an idealized homo philosophicus.
On Philosophy and Philosophers is a volume of unpublished philosophical papers by Richard Rorty, a central figure in late-twentieth-century intellectual debates and a primary force behind the resurgence of American pragmatism. The first collection of new work to appear since his death in 2007, these previously unseen papers advance novel views on metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, philosophical semantics and the social role of philosophy, critically engaging canonical and contemporary figures from Plato and Kant to Kripke and Brandom. This book's diverse offerings, which include technical essays written for specialists and popular lectures, refine our understanding of Rorty's perspective and demonstrate the ongoing relevance of the iconoclastic American philosopher's ground-breaking thought. An introduction by the editors highlights the papers' original insights and contributions to contemporary debates.
The nature of emotion is an important question in several philosophical domains, but little attention has so far been paid to identifying the general ontological category to which emotions belong. Given that they are short-lived, are they events? Since they often have components or stages, are they processes? Or does their close link with behaviour mean they are dispositions? In this volume, leading scholars investigate these basic ontological issues, contributing to current discussions about emotions and paving the way for new research into an underexplored area of philosophy. With chapters addressing issues including the temporal profile of emotions, the distinction between emotions and other affective states, and the epistemology of emotion, this highly original book will be valuable for students and specialists of philosophy, and particularly for those working in the metaphysics of mind and emotions.
This masterful work on Kant's Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason explores Kant's treatment of the Idea of God, his views concerning evil, and the moral grounds for faith in God. Kant and Religion works to deepen our understanding of religion's place and meaning within the history of human culture, touching on Kant's philosophical stance regarding theoretical, moral, political, and religious matters. Wood's breadth of knowledge of Kant's corpus, philosophical sharpness, and depth of reflection sheds light not only on Kant, but also on the fate of religion and its relation to philosophy in the modern world.
Bradford Skow presents an original defense of the 'block universe' theory of time, often said to be a theory according to which time does not pass. Along the way, he provides in-depth discussions of alternative theories of time, including those in which there is 'robust passage' of time or 'objective becoming': presentism, the moving spotlight theory of time, the growing block theory of time, and the 'branching time' theory of time. Skow explains why the moving spotlight theory is the best of these arguments, and rebuts several popular arguments against the thesis that time passes. He surveys the problems that the special theory of relativity has been thought to raise for objective becoming, and suggests ways in which fans of objective becoming may reconcile their view with relativistic physics. The last third of the book aims to clarify and evaluate the argument that we should believe that time passes because, somehow, the passage of time is given to us in experience. He isolates three separate arguments this idea suggests, and explains why they fail.
How scientists through the ages have conducted thought experiments using imaginary entities-demons-to test the laws of nature and push the frontiers of what is possible Science may be known for banishing the demons of superstition from the modern world. Yet just as the demon-haunted world was being exorcized by the enlightening power of reason, a new kind of demon mischievously materialized in the scientific imagination itself. Scientists began to employ hypothetical beings to perform certain roles in thought experiments-experiments that can only be done in the imagination-and these impish assistants helped scientists achieve major breakthroughs that pushed forward the frontiers of science and technology. Spanning four centuries of discovery-from Rene Descartes, whose demon could hijack sensorial reality, to James Clerk Maxwell, whose molecular-sized demon deftly broke the second law of thermodynamics, to Darwin, Einstein, Feynman, and beyond-Jimena Canales tells a shadow history of science and the demons that bedevil it. She reveals how the greatest scientific thinkers used demons to explore problems, test the limits of what is possible, and better understand nature. Their imaginary familiars helped unlock the secrets of entropy, heredity, relativity, quantum mechanics, and other scientific wonders-and continue to inspire breakthroughs in the realms of computer science, artificial intelligence, and economics today. The world may no longer be haunted as it once was, but the demons of the scientific imagination are alive and well, continuing to play a vital role in scientists' efforts to explore the unknown and make the impossible real.
Causation is the most fundamental connection in the universe. Without it, there would be no science or technology. There would be no moral responsibility either, as none of our thoughts would be connected with our actions and none of our actions with any consequences. Nor would we have a system of law because blame resides only in someone having caused injury or damage. Any intervention we make in the world around us is premised on there being causal connections that are, to a degree, predictable. It is causation that is at the basis of prediction and also explanation. This Very Short Introduction introduces the key theories of causation and also the surrounding debates and controversies. Do causes produce their effects by guaranteeing them? Do causes have to precede their effects? Can causation be reduced to the forces of physics? And are we right to think of causation as one single thing at all? ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
The present framing of the cultural debate in terms of materialism versus religion has allowed materialism to go unchallenged as the only rationally-viable metaphysics. This book seeks to change this. It uncovers the absurd implications of materialism and then, uniquely, presents a hard-nosed non-materialist metaphysics substantiated by skepticism, hard empirical evidence, and clear logical argumentation. It lays out a coherent framework upon which one can interpret and make sense of every natural phenomenon and physical law, as well as the modalities of human consciousness, without materialist assumptions. According to this framework, the brain is merely the image of a self-localization process of mind, analogously to how a whirlpool is the image of a self-localization process of water. The brain doesn't generate mind in the same way that a whirlpool doesn't generate water. It is the brain that is in mind, not mind in the brain. Physical death is merely a de-clenching of awareness. The book closes with a series of educated speculations regarding the afterlife, psychic phenomena, and other related subjects.
This book examines the nature of economic objects that form the subject matter of economics, and studies how they resemble or differ from the objects studied by the natural sciences. It explores the question of whether economic objects created by modern economics sufficiently represent economic reality, and confronts the question whether tools, techniques and the methodology borrowed from the natural sciences are appropriate for the analysis of economic reality. It demonstrates the unsustainability of rational choice theory. It looks at economic agents, such as individuals, groups, legally constituted entities, algorithms, or robots, how they function and how they are represented in economics. The volume further examines the extent, if any, that mathematics can represent the objects of the economy, such as supply and demand, equilibrium, marginal utility, or the money supply as they actually occur in the economy, and as they are represented in economics. Finally, the volume explores whether the subject matter of economics - however defined - is the proper subject of theoretical knowledge, whether economics is an analytic or a descriptive discipline, or if it is more properly seen in the domain of practical reason. Specifically, the book looks at the importance and the ambiguity of the ontology of modern economics, temporality, reflexivity, the question of incommensurability, and their implications for economic policy.
The Sublime in Schopenhauer's Philosophy transforms our understanding of Schopenhauer's aesthetics and anthropology. Vandenabeele seeks ultimately to rework Schopenhauer's theory into a viable form so as to establish the sublime as a distinctive aesthetic category with a broader existential and metaphysical significance.
Metaphysics is one of the traditional four main branches of philosophy, alongside ethics, logic and epistemology. It is also an area that continues to attract and hold a fascination for many people yet it is associated with being complex and abstract. For some it is associated with the mystical or religious. For others it is known through the metaphysical poets who talk of love and spirituality. This Very Short Introduction goes right to the heart of the matter, getting to the basic and most important questions of metaphysical thought in order to understand the theory: What are objects? Do colours and shapes have some form of existence? What is it for one thing to cause another rather than just being associated with it? What is possible? Does time pass? By using these questions to initiate thought about the basic issues around substance, properties, changes, causes, possibilities, time, personal identity, nothingness and emergentism, Stephen Mumford provides a clear and simple path through this analytical tradition at the core of philosophical thought. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
This volume covers a wide range of topics that fall under the 'philosophy of quantifiers', a philosophy that spans across multiple areas such as logic, metaphysics, epistemology and even the history of philosophy. It discusses the import of quantifier variance in the model theory of mathematics. It advances an argument for the uniqueness of quantifier meaning in terms of Evert Beth's notion of implicit definition and clarifies the oldest explicit formulation of quantifier variance: the one proposed by Rudolf Carnap. The volume further examines what it means that a quantifier can have multiple meanings and addresses how existential vagueness can induce vagueness in our modal notions. Finally, the book explores the role played by quantifiers with respect to various kinds of semantic paradoxes, the logicality issue, ontological commitment, and the behavior of quantifiers in intensional contexts.
This is a book about evolution from a post-Darwinian perspective. It recounts the core ideas of French philosopher Henri Bergson and his rediscovery and legacy in the poststructuralist critical philosophies of the 1960s, and explores the confluences of these ideas with those of complexity theory in environmental biology.
Exam board: AQA Level: A-level Subject: Philosophy First teaching: September 2017 First exams: Summer 2019 Enable students to critically engage with the new 2017 AQA specifications with this accessible Student Book that covers the key concepts and philosophical arguments, offers stimulating activities, provides a key text anthology and assessment guidance. - Cements understanding of complex philosophical concepts and encourages students to view ideas from different approaches through clear and detailed coverage of key topics. - Strengthens students' analytical skills to develop their own philosophical interpretations using a variety of inventive and thought-provoking practical activities and tasks. - Encourages students to engage with the anthology texts, with references throughout and relevant extracts provided at the back of the book for ease of teaching and studying. - Stretches students' conceptual analysis with extension material. - Helps AS and A-level students to approach their exams with confidence with assessment guidance and support tailored to the AQA requirements.
This book argues that a plausible account of emergence requires replacing the traditional assumption that what primarily exists are particular entities with generic processes. Traversing contemporary physics and issues of identity over time, it then proceeds to develop a metaphysical taxonomy of emergent entities and of the character of human life.
When a doctor tells you there's a one percent chance that an operation will result in your death, or a scientist claims that his theory is probably true, what exactly does that mean? Understanding probability is clearly very important, if we are to make good theoretical and practical choices. In this engaging and highly accessible introduction to the philosophy of probability, Darrell Rowbottom takes the reader on a journey through all the major interpretations of probability, with reference to real-world situations. In lucid prose, he explores the many fallacies of probabilistic reasoning, such as the 'gambler's fallacy' and the 'inverse fallacy', and shows how we can avoid falling into these traps by using the interpretations presented. He also illustrates the relevance of the interpretation of probability across disciplinary boundaries, by examining which interpretations of probability are appropriate in diverse areas such as quantum mechanics, game theory, and genetics. Using entertaining dialogues to draw out the key issues at stake, this unique book will appeal to students and scholars across philosophy, the social sciences, and the natural sciences.
For the Parmenidean monist, there are no distinctions whatsoever-indeed, distinctions are unintelligible. In The Parmenidean Ascent, Michael Della Rocca aims to revive this controversial approach on rationalist grounds. He not only defends the attribution of such an extreme monism to the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides, but also embraces this extreme monism in its own right and expands these monistic results to many of the most crucial areas of philosophy, including being, action, knowledge, meaning, truth, and metaphysical explanation. On Della Rocca's account, there is no differentiated being, no differentiated action, knowledge, or meaning; rather all is being, just as all is action, all is knowledge, all is meaning. Motivating this argument is a detailed survey of the failure of leading positions (both historical and contemporary) to meet a demand for the explanation of a given phenomenon, together with a powerful, original version of a Bradleyan argument against the reality of relations. The result is a rationalist rejection of all distinctions and a skeptical denial of the intelligibility of ordinary, relational notions of being, action, knowledge, and meaning. Della Rocca then turns this analysis on the practice of philosophy itself. Followed to its conclusion, Parmenidean monism rejects any distinction between philosophy and the study of its history. Such a conclusion challenges methods popular in the practice of philosophy today, including especially the method of relying on intuitions and common sense as the basis of philosophical inquiry. The historically-minded and rationalist approach used throughout the book aims to demonstrate the ultimate bankruptcy of the prevailing methodology. It promises-on rationalist grounds-to inspire much soul-searching on the part of philosophers and to challenge the content and the methods of so much philosophy both now and in the past.
This contributed volume aims to reconsider the concept of individuation, clarifying its articulation with respect to contemporary problems in perceptual, neural, developmental, semiotic and social morphogenesis. The authors approach the ontogenetical issue by taking into account the morphogenetic process, involving the concept of individuation proposed by Gilbert Simondon and Gilles Deleuze. The target audience primarily comprises experts in the field but the book may also be beneficial for graduate students. The challenge of the genesis and constitution of "units" has always been at the center of philosophical and scientific research. This ontogenetical issue is common to every discipline but it is articulated in different ways: in phenomenology of perception the constitution of perceptual units is at the base of gestalt field theories, in theoretical neuroscience synchronized neural assemblies are considered as correlates of conscious processes, in developmental embryogenesis the constitution of organs is the principle outcome of morphodynamic evolution while in social morphogenesis the constitution of coherent units is common to segmentary, gerarchic and functional differentiation.
Relativism is a hotly contested doctrine among philosophers, some of whom regard it as neither true nor false but simply incoherent. As Carol Rovane demonstrates in this analytical tour-de-force, the way to defend relativism is not initially by establishing its truth but by clarifying its content. The Metaphysics and Ethics of Relativism elaborates a doctrine of relativism that has a consistent logical, metaphysical, and practical significance. Relativism is worth debating, Rovane contends, because it bears directly on the moral choices we make in our lives. Three intuitive conceptions of relativism have been influential in philosophical discourse. These include the idea that certain unavoidable disagreements are irresolvable, leading to the conclusion that "both sides are right," and the idea that truth is always relative to context. But the most compelling, Rovane maintains, is the "alternatives intuition." Alternatives are truths that cannot be embraced together because they are not universal. Something other than logical contradiction excludes them. When this is so, logical relations no longer hold among all truth-value-bearers. Some truths will be irreconcilable between individuals even though they are valid in themselves. The practical consequence is that some forms of interpersonal engagement are confined within definite boundaries, and one has no choice but to view what lies beyond those boundaries with what Rovane calls "epistemic indifference." In a very real sense, some people inhabit different worlds--true in themselves, but closed off to belief from those who hold irreducibly incompatible truths.
Analytic philosophy is once again in a methodological frame of mind. Nowhere is this more evident than in metaphysics, whose practitioners and historians are actively reflecting on the nature of ontological questions, the status of their answers, and the relevance of contributions both from other areas within philosophy (e.g., philosophical logic, semantics) and beyond (notably, the natural sciences). Such reflections are hardly new: the debate between Willard van Orman Quine and Rudolf Carnap about how to understand and resolve ontological questions is widely seen as a turning point in twentieth-century analytic philosophy. And indeed, this volume is occasioned by the fact that the deflationary approach to metaphysics advocated by Carnap in that debate is once again attracting considerable interest and support. Containing eleven original essays by many of today's leading voices in metametaphysics, Ontology After Carnap aims both to deepen our understanding of Carnap's contributions to metaontology and to explore how this legacy might be mined for insights into the contemporary debate. This collection will be of interest to scholars and students working in metaphysics, semantics, philosophical logic, metaphilosophy, and the history of analytic philosophy.
Peter Hanks defends a new theory about the nature of propositional content. According to this theory, the basic bearers of representational properties are particular mental or spoken actions. Propositions are types of these actions, which we use to classify and individuate our attitudes and speech acts. Hanks abandons several key features of the traditional Fregean conception of propositional content, including the idea that propositions are the primary bearers of truth-conditions, the distinction between content and force, and the concept of entertainment. The main difficulty for this traditional conception is the problem of the unity of the proposition, the problem of explaining how propositions have truth conditions and other representational properties. The new theory developed here, in its place,explains the unity of propositions and provides new solutions to a long list of puzzles and problems in philosophy of language.
Leo Bersani's career spans more than fifty years and extends across a wide spectrum of fields--including French studies, modernism, realist fiction, psychoanalytic criticism, film studies, and queer theory. Throughout this new collection of essays that ranges, interestingly and brilliantly, from movies by Claire Denis and Jean-Luc Godard to fiction by Proust and Pierre Bergounioux, Bersani considers various kinds of connectedness. Thoughts and Things posits what would appear to be an irreducible gap between our thoughts (the human subject) and things (the world). Bersani departs from his psychoanalytic convictions to speculate on the oneness of being--of our intrinsic connectedness to the other that is at once external and internal to us. He addresses the problem of formulating ways to consider the undivided mind, drawing on various sources, from Descartes to cosmology, Freud, and Genet and succeeds brilliantly in diagramming new forms as well as radical failures of connectedness. Ambitious, original, and eloquent, Thoughts and Things will be of interest to scholars in philosophy, film, literature, and beyond.
Powers and Capacities in Philosophy is designed to stake out an emerging, discipline-spanning neo-Aristotelian framework grounded in realism about causal powers. The volume brings together for the first time original essays by leading philosophers working on powers in relation to metaphysics, philosophy of natural and social science, philosophy of mind and action, epistemology, ethics and social and political philosophy. In each area, the concern is to show how a commitment to real causal powers affects discussion at the level in question. In metaphysics, for example, realism about powers is now recognized as providing an alternative to orthodox accounts of causation, modality, properties and laws. Dispositional realist philosophers of science, meanwhile, argue that a powers ontology allows for a proper account of the nature of scientific explanation. In the philosophy of mind there is the suggestion that agency is best understood in terms of the distinctive powers of human beings. Those who take virtue theoretic approaches in epistemology and ethics have long been interested in the powers that allow for knowledge and/or moral excellence. In social and political philosophy, finally, powers theorists are interested in the powers of sociological phenomena such as collectivities, institutions, roles and/or social relations, but also in the conditions of possibility for the cultivation of the powers of individuals. The book will be of interest to philosophers working in any of these areas, as well as to historians of philosophy, political theorists and critical realists.
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