Early Modern Philosophy

An interesting blog (click here) on early modern figures like Reinhold, Newton, Boyle etc by four students of early modern philosophy based at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Otago in New Zealand, Early Modern Experimental Philosophy. Here’s the description of the research project “Experimental Philosophy and the Origins of Empiricism:”

Philosophers from the early modern period (from Descartes to Hume) are normally divided into Rationalists and Empiricists. Yet this distinction was developed by neo-Kantian philosophers from the late 18th century. In this research project we are exploring the hypothesis that there is a far better way of approaching early modern philosophers. Continue reading

Wittgensteinian Misanthropy

Paul Wittgenstein, that is.  This week I’ve been casually reading Gitta Honegger’s Thomas Bernhard: The Making of an Austrian before I go to sleep.  I hadn’t really known all that much about Paul Wittgenstein, other than what Bernhard attributes to him in the fictional Wittgenstein’s Nephew, but Honegger provides this account:

A popular anecdote has him attending a Wagner opera conducted by Herbert von Karajan, who took over the post of musical director of the Vienna Staatsoper from Karl Bohm in 1956. The story has Paul running down the aisle toward the orchestra pit after the performance with resounding shouts of “Bravo!” As the maestro slowly turned around with benevolently outstretched arms, Paul exclaimed, “Bravo Bohm!” (167)

Innocent Realism: Susan Haack

This is from an interview with Susan Haack (Haack.interview–warning pdf).  Aside from her Philosophy of Logics textbook, I’m completely ignorant of her work, for the most part.

CB: Could you tell us more about Innocent Realism?

SH: It is, I hope, a metaphysical position that can accommodate the most robust realist intuitions to the most sophisticated anti-realist objections. The main ideas are something like this. The world — the one, real world — is independent of how we believe it to be. In saying this, obviously, the Innocent Realist repudiates both the irrealist thesis that there is no real world, and the pluralist thesis that there are many. However, she of course allows that human beings intervene in the world, and that we, and our physical and mental activities, are part of the world. The one, real world, in other words, is heterogeneous: there are, besides natural things and events, human artifacts of every kind, social institutions, and the theories, depictions, and imaginative constructions of scientists, artists, poets, novelists. etc..Adapting an idea from Peirce (who was in turn adapting an idea from Duns Scotus), the Innocent Realist construes “real” as meaning “independent of how you, or I, or anyone believes it to be”; and as contrasting with “fictional, a figment, imaginary.” Scientific theories are real; and so are works of fiction. But the explanations scientists imagine, when they are successful, are true, and the laws they imagine real; while fictional characters and events are precisely not real, but imaginary.  Though very fallibly and imperfectly, we humans are able to know something of how the world is. This is possible only because we have sense organs able to detect information about particular things around us, and the intellectual capacity to make generalizations about them; and because the things around us are of kinds and subject to laws.

We describe the world, sometimes truly, sometimes falsely. Whether a synthetic description is true or is false depends on what it says (which is a matter of human convention) and on how the things in the world it describes are. There are many different true descriptions of the world, in different vocabularies. All these many different truths must somehow fit together: there can’t be rival, incompatible truths or “knowledges.” But this doesn’t mean that all the truths about the world must fit together by being reducible to a privileged class of truths in a privileged vocabulary; I see the truths of the social sciences as “fitting together” with the truths of the natural sciences more in the way a road map can be superimposed on a contour map of the same territory.

Here’s a pdf of an interesting article by Haack, “Six signs of scientism.”


Badiou Dictionary (Form & Formalism)

For those interested in the work of Alain Badiou, I think it’s worth pointing out the recent activity at the Form and Fomalism blog:

…The Form & Formalism Working Group began in November, 2009, in the wake the first annual “Form & Formalism” conference, held at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, and orchestrated by Tzuchien Tho of the Versus Laboratory research project. A second conference followed in 2010, and Versus is in the process of planning a third for the coming Fall. (Programmes for both FF conferences can be found here: http://versuslaboratory.janvaneyck.nl/events/view/5 and here: http://versuslaboratory.janvaneyck.nl/events/view/11.) From the conferences formed the group, and from the group now comes the blog. Nothing else needs to be said about this just yet.

To get the ball rolling, I’ve decided to make available here a few short texts that I’ve been working on, still in a somewhat rough state, for the Badiou Dictionary that Steve Corcoran is in the process of pulling together for Edinburgh University Press. Your comments, corrections, criticism, etc. are of course welcome.

I’ll try to post an entry every day or so over the next week. Today, FORCING. Stay tuned for GENERIC, MODEL, SUTURE, IDEOLOGY, ONE, and VOID.

Read the definition drafts by Concept of the Model translator, Zachary Fraser, here

Borges on Critique

I agree with Borges’ sentiment here. However, my own tirade would simply be a bunch of ad hominem attacks, for the most part.

Any time something is written against me, I not only share the sentiment but feel I could do the job far better myself. Perhaps I should advise would-be enemies to send me their grievances beforehand, with full assurance that they will receive my every aid and support. I have even secretly longed to write, under a pen name, a merciless tirade against myself.