Book Club: Philosophy of Nature, ch. 2

Xenophanes

We have recently began taking a look at Paul Feyerabend’s (recently released, even though he died back in 1994) book Philosophy of Nature, which presents his ideas on the history of the different ways in which human beings have tried to make sense of the world. The second chapter is on the structure and function of myths, since mythological accounts are one of the three “forms of life” that humans have come up with in order to understand the world, and that Feyerabend explores in his book (the other two are philosophy and science).

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Posted in Book Club, Philosophy of Science | 33 Comments

Plato’s weekend readings, episode 55

readingsHere it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

What’s the point of regret?
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Biological essentialism? No thanks

P. Godfrey-Smith (left) and M. Devitt (right)

A few weeks ago my CUNY Graduate Center’s colleague Michael Devitt gave a colloquium entitled “Individual essentialism in biology,” which was followed by a response/commentary by Peter Godfrey-Smith by the title “Modality, essence, and biology.” I thought it was a really interesting example of two top notch philosophers going at each other, respectively defending and criticizing a given central thesis, in the best tradition of analytical philosophy (no, I do not mean this as a sneer). It was also, however, a rather surreal experience for a biologist turned philosopher of science such as myself. I mean, essentialism, seriously?

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Posted in Metaphysics, Philosophy of Science | 81 Comments

Plato’s weekend readings, episode 54, full Trump edition

readingsHere it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

Two very important graphs embedded in this article on Brexit and Trumpism.

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Book Club: Philosophy of Nature, ch. 1

I’m going to start a new occasional series here at Footnotes to Plato: a book club. I read books all the time, of course, though lately a heck of a lot of them have to do with Stoicism and ancient philosophy. Some are more worthy than others to share, and from time to time I have written individual commentaries on interesting books or even single chapters. But this new series, identified by the corresponding category on the blog, will actually present multi-part commentaries on a whole book, either chapter by chapter, or at the least on clusters of interesting chapters. My choice for the first series is Paul Feyerabend’s Philosophy of Nature.

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Posted in Book Club, Epistemology, Philosophy of Science | 49 Comments

Plato’s weekend readings, episode 53

readingsHere it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

The awful state of prisons in the UK. And the US is much worse.

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Posted in Plato's Suggestions | 155 Comments

My friend Julia and the rationalistically relativist crowd

[Note: all excerpts from Julia’s Facebook page are reprinted here with permission from my friend. I invited Julia to comment on this essay, if she so wishes.]

As I have mentioned lately, I’m a bit concerned about certain people and attitudes within the broader skeptic movement, a concern that led to a fruitful recent exchange with my friend Steve Novella. Before that, I had expressed a worry about some over-interpreting of results from neuroscience and social psychology, seemingly suggesting that we are not as much Aristotle’s “rational animal,” as a rationalizing one, always busy confabulating in order to justify our own points of view no matter what. The two worries came together in the immediate aftermath of the US Presidential election, when I read with utmost interest a series of exchanges between my friend Julia Galef (with whom I used to co-host the Rationally Speaking podcast) and some of her followers on Facebook. The evidence is, of course, anecdotal, but it fits with the above worries I’ve been harboring for some time, based on my broader experience with self-professed skeptics.

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Posted in Logic, Social & Political Philosophy | 185 Comments