Can Philosophy Comprehend Life? (A Talk by Eckart Förster)

Great talk by Eckart Förster (discussing Evan Thompson’s book Mind in Life, among other things, and the relationship between scientific discourse and philosophy, including a reference to Naturphilosophie and Goethe) found here. There is also a talk by Evan Thompson following Eckart Förster.

Sensual Head-Scratching Continues.

Bryant finally raises some interesting questions concerning Harman’s theory of causation. Harman responds and I think this is where we are going to see if there’s any genuine engagement or it’s all just for show, because Harman does not really address Bryant’s question – I mean he goes on and on about the usual stuff, but in the end, it seems this is what happens:

Summary: Harman’s thesis, as I understand it, is that two objects can only be brought into a causal relation through the mediation of a third object. Where traditional occasionalist thought has God or mind (Hume’s empiricism, Kant’s transcendental idealism) as the third object that links other objects in causal relations (for example the role God plays in linking body and mind), Harman argues that there is no logical reason to restrict this to God, but instead argues that any object can serve this role of the “third”.

Objection: “Now here’s where I have a lot of difficulty following Harman’s idea. In traditional occasionalism where God serves the role of this third, I presume God has the power to link the completely unrelated because God is a whizbang, superpowerful, grand poobah powerhouse that can surmount any distance or separation. In other words, the appeal to God in this tradition is a sort of appeal to magic. In the secularized versions of occasionalism in Hume and Kant, mind is capable of acting as the third relating to the separate because mind is not relating objects but something strictly immanent to mind, namely sensations.” Continue reading