iai.tv news RSS feed https://iai.tv/articles-old/metaphysics-and-language What's Metaphysics All About? https://iai.tv/articles/what-is-metaphysics-all-about-auid-870 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/kantmetaphysics.jpg" /><br />When I say “metaphysics”, you might think of that weird new-agey section of the bookstore oncrystals, astrology, vibrations, life-changing secrets of the universe, and other silly mumbo-jumbo.Philosophers are interested in a different kind of metaphysics — and while some havethought that it, too, is silly mumbo-jumbo, many of us believe it’s a good deal more intellectuallyserious than the new-agey bookstore kind.We get the name “metaphysics” from one of Aristotle’s editors, who titled a number of hiswritings “meta ta phusika&quot; — literally, “after the physics.” Some questions that we normallyconsider metaphysical questions are: What sorts of stuff is the world made up of? What does itmean for something to exist? Do numbers exist? Are there universals or forms (is there Catnessin addition to particular cats, or Blueness in addition to blue things, or Beauty in addition tobeautiful things)? Is reality just in the mind or is there a world outside the mind? Do minds orsouls exist? What is th... Mon, 14 Aug 2017 14:53:21 +0000 Amanda K. Bryant https://iai.tv/articles/what-is-metaphysics-all-about-auid-870 What Really Matters? An Interview with Rebecca Goldstein https://iai.tv/articles/rebecca-goldstein-on-what-really-matters-auid-1141 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/rebecca-goldstein.jpg" /><br />Raised in a Jewish Orthodox family, philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein gave up on the idea of God in her teenage years, after she read Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not A Christian. She then became ‘a quiet atheist’, so that she wouldn’t upset her religious parents. Meanwhile, Goldstein has become a vocal humanist. She found solace in philosophy and philosophical fiction, having a particular soft spot for Plato and Spinoza – her twitter account name is ‘PlatoOnBookTour: Plato reacts to the 21st century.’ She is one of three philosophers who ever got the US National Humanities Medal. A visiting Professor at New York University and New College of the Humanities in London, Goldstein will be giving a talk on Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away, and discussing post-truth at HowTheLightGetsIn Festival in London on 22nd September. In this interview, she explains why we should think more about what really matters, the ways in which mattering is a more helpful philosophical concept than meaning,... Mon, 03 Sep 2018 13:49:51 +0000 Rebecca Goldstein https://iai.tv/articles/rebecca-goldstein-on-what-really-matters-auid-1141 Time Is What We Are – Uncertain https://iai.tv/articles/time-is-what-we-are-uncertain-auid-1228 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Time-Is-What-We-Are.jpg" /><br />Time is everywhere we are. Maybe that’s why we take a lot of things about it for granted: for example that the past is fixed and unchangeable, and that the future is open and changeable.The PresentWhen is now? As crazy as the question seems at first – after all, now is, surely, right this moment in the present – we also realise that any instant of now will be over before the thought is completed. The present is an amorphous period with fuzzy edges within a continuum of past and future, so we don’t know where it begins or where it ends. All we can know is that our now instantly becomes the past. Although we seem to feel and know what the present moment means that doesn’t make it a temporal fact. Vienna Circle philosopher Rudolf Carnap recounted how Einstein told him that ‘the experience of the now means something special for man, something essentially different from the past and the future, but this important difference does not and cannot occur within physics.’According to Einstein’s t... Wed, 24 Apr 2019 09:56:54 +0000 Ronald Green https://iai.tv/articles/time-is-what-we-are-uncertain-auid-1228 What Is Arabic Philosophy? https://iai.tv/articles/what-is-arabic-philosophy-auid-1219 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/AverroesAndPorphyry.JPG" /><br />There is, let us admit, something faintly comical about an academic field that cannot even decide what to call itself. It conjures up the sort of absurd scene that is so common in university life: the lengthy committee meeting devoted to working out what the committee’s remit should be, the tussle over the title of an endowed chair, the passionate debate waged over the placement of a comma. Yet serious intellectual disagreements can lie behind disputes over nomenclature. One such disagreement rages in my own field of speciality, which depending who you ask might be called “Arabic Philosophy” or “Islamic Philosophy.” Views on the question are so deeply held that when I co-edited the Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy with Richard C. Taylor some years ago, one book review confined its remarks almost exclusively to complaining about the title.This is ironic, since the beauty of the phrase “Arabic philosophy” should in theory be that it is so uncontentious. It would refer quite strai... Mon, 11 Mar 2019 16:19:49 +0000 Peter Adamson https://iai.tv/articles/what-is-arabic-philosophy-auid-1219 The Contemporary Women Philosophers You Should Know About https://iai.tv/articles/the-contemporary-women-philosophers-you-should-know-auid-1218 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/international-womens-day-collage2.jpg" /><br />For International Women's Day, we've asked established as well as up-and-coming contemporary women in philosophy to recommend the other women in the field that they admire most. According to HESA data, only 35% of philosophy PhD students in the UK are female, compared to 61% in English and 53% in history, and only 24% of permanent academic staff in UK philosophy departments are women. The situation is similar across the transatlantic and anglophone world. Yet female thinkers produce groundbreaking work across all fields of western philosophy, from metaphysics to political theory, and sometimes on the boundaries between philosophy and other disciplines such as biology, economics and law. Our hope is that this list will point our readers towards new ideas and thinkers that have transformed the intellectual landscape of the past few decades. And if there are other contemporary female philosophers you would like to recommend, or whose work you admire, then join the conversation and let us ... Thu, 07 Mar 2019 17:17:46 +0000 IAI News Editorial Staff https://iai.tv/articles/the-contemporary-women-philosophers-you-should-know-auid-1218 The Paradox of Authenticity https://iai.tv/articles/the-paradox-of-authenticity-auid-922 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/ferreraredux.jpg"><br>Never in history has authenticity loomed so large within so many influential practices affecting countless people and yet been sneered at, literally or metaphorically, by so many pundits of deconstructionism, postcolonial and cultural studies and other trendy philosophical schools. There are two sides to this paradoxical predicament. Let's look at the first side. Authenticity – the exemplary, disinterested alignment of the subject's inner states and outer conduct or, in Bernard Williams' phrase, “the idea that some things are in some real sense really you, or express what you are, and others aren't”[1] – between 1760 and 1960 played a pre-romantic, romantic, lebensphilosophisch and finally existentialist second fiddle to the mainstream notion of “autonomy”. Born as an antagonistic ideal of total truthfulness, critical of received social scripts, authenticity seems now co-opted and enervated by powerful economic forces: by the late 20th century it climbed to an unequalled popularity in ... Mon, 06 Nov 2017 18:04:53 +0000 Alessandro Ferrara https://iai.tv/articles/the-paradox-of-authenticity-auid-922 Authenticity and Modernity https://iai.tv/articles/authenticity-and-modernity-auid-921 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/bowieredux.jpg" /><br />In Sincerity and Authenticity (1972) liberal critic Lionel Trilling distinguished between two particular ways of being in the modern world. Being ‘sincere’ (from Latin sincerus, of things, ‘whole, clean, pure, uninjured, unmixed’), ‘true to oneself’ by not ‘dissembling’, becomes an ideal during the early emergence of bourgeois individualism. Its new significance coincides with the increase in social mobility, mobility which also offered more chances for pretending to be what one wasn’t. Shakespeare’s plays often deal with this issue. However, being true to oneself by not pretending to be other than one’s social role dictates subsequently often comes to be seen as merely a kind of conformism that precisely lacks ‘authenticity’. This demands doing things on one’s own authority, which can be seen in terms of being ‘author of oneself’. Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew (1761), a dialogue with an eccentric man who is able to play character roles at will but who cannot stably adhere to any role for ... Mon, 06 Nov 2017 18:00:39 +0000 Andrew Bowie https://iai.tv/articles/authenticity-and-modernity-auid-921 Authenticity, Alienation and Privilege https://iai.tv/articles/authenticity-alienation-and-privilege-auid-920 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/rossiredux.jpg" /><br />Picture a bunch of relatively impecunious PhD students, in an effortlessly mangy pub, in a Scottish fishing village. A fellow apprentice philosopher, American, puffs at her cigarette and coughs out some angst: “So I guess this grad school thing isn’t working out for me. No jobs, no nothing. I’m going back to California and, like, get a cushy job with my family’s real estate company.” Me, inadequately: “Mmm-hmm.” Her: “Y’know, imagine me at a party, telling someone I’m a realtor. People are gonna run a mile. And I’m gonna be bored out of my mind.” “In a sense”, I reply, “You might be right.” Was she? It seems to me there are two things going on in our friend’s lamentation. First, the worry about becoming a centrifugal force for fellow partiers. I’m going to suggest that’s about authenticity, or lack thereof. Second, the worry about bottomless tedium. Arguably that’s about alienation. Let’s take the two issues in turn, and then see how they may relate to each other. Authenticity: the rou... Mon, 06 Nov 2017 17:54:40 +0000 Enzo Rossi https://iai.tv/articles/authenticity-alienation-and-privilege-auid-920 How Childbirth Became Philosophy's Last Taboo https://iai.tv/articles/why-do-the-arts-put-death-before-birth-auid-867 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/hennessy.jpg" /><br />The humanities study the human condition, something that begins at birth and ends in death. But if the scholarly production on these two topics is any indicator, then academics are more fascinated with death than they are with birth. The top listing that popped up when I searched under “childbirth” in Oxford University Press, for example, was “Death in Childbirth,” and searching under “birth” in the same publication brought to the top a book called “Death before Birth.” Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. Why we choose death over birth goes much deeper than simple intrigue, however. Some investigation reveals that intellectual approaches to birth are suppressed in both active and passive ways. While one could argue that the historical domination of white men in the academy is part of the problem, the lopsided coverage of these two monumental endpoints of life is quite complex and cannot be reduced to it. Understanding the reasons behind this suppressio... Thu, 03 Aug 2017 16:13:14 +0000 Anna M. Hennessey https://iai.tv/articles/why-do-the-arts-put-death-before-birth-auid-867 The Battle for the Real You https://iai.tv/articles/the-battle-for-the-real-you-auid-917 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/varga-image-2.jpg"><br>The glorification of the “real” in Western societies is reaching new heights. Or perhaps new lows, I should say. Craving the “real” to satiate ourselves, we eagerly embark on the quest to find our “real” and “authentic” self, without giving much thought to the cost. After all, even in the midst of the haunting fear of failing in any of our social roles, one of our greatest fears is—as Richard Rorty has accurately pointed out—the horror of finding oneself “to be only a copy or a replica.”[1] But what kind of a promise does the idea of authenticity hold that makes it so desirable? Well, the strongly simplified answer is that it holds a promise to provide an “inner bastion”—a sanctuary offering a strong sense of self and purpose in a rapidly changing environment. But several critics have argued this is an illusion and self-defeating. The philosopher Theodor W. Adorno warned that the “liturgy of inwardness” is an empty substitute for lost ethical values, and it relies on a crude picture of... Mon, 06 Nov 2017 17:40:18 +0000 Somogy Varga https://iai.tv/articles/the-battle-for-the-real-you-auid-917 Travels with Heidegger https://iai.tv/articles/travels-with-heidegger-auid-914 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/heideggerhiking.jpg" /><br />For decades tourism scholars took as their starting point a binary distinction between “travelers” (assumed to be in search of their selves) and “tourists” (assumed to be passive recipients of packaged experiences). This reductionist approach masked a clear class bias: people with taste and social acumen allegedly don’t tour, they travel – even when they join tours, as with adventure outfits such as REI. This distinction has morphed into an emphasis on existential authenticity in the study of tourist motivation. We travel, theorists now claim, to counter the alienation we experience in our everyday lives at home. While drawing mainly on Martin Heidegger’s work, this claim reflects a distinctly Euro-American philosophical focus running from Rousseau to Schiller, Kierkegaard to Nietzsche, and Heidegger to Sartre, on what it means to be authentic. If life at home is self-alienating, journeys elsewhere would appear to be a clear improvement. Of course, this perspective rests on the questio... Mon, 30 Oct 2017 17:01:53 +0000 Robert Shepherd https://iai.tv/articles/travels-with-heidegger-auid-914 The Being of Replicants https://iai.tv/articles/the-being-of-replicants-auid-911 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/replicantbeing2.jpg" /><br />It’s a common observation that Blade Runner inspires us to reflect on what it means to be human. The principal cause for such reflection is, of course, the cast of replicants – the bioengineered humanoid creatures originally produced by the Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies. As the opening, scene-setting text famously informs us, following a bloody off-world mutiny by a group of Nexus 6 replicants, the creatures are declared illegal on Earth and are hunted down and terminated (‘retired’) by special police units known as blade runners. Against this backdrop, the replicants repeatedly engage our thoughts and emotions by blurring the distinction between the human and the non-human. Confronted by an event such as Rachael’s distressed reaction when Deckard exposes the truth about her ‘memories’ or Roy Batty’s poetic dying speech, we ask ourselves one of those stubborn and demanding existential questions: ‘what does it mean to be human?’. Unsurprisingly, this is a question tha... Mon, 23 Oct 2017 16:47:15 +0000 Michael Wheeler https://iai.tv/articles/the-being-of-replicants-auid-911 Nietzsche and The Philosophy of Umbrellas https://iai.tv/articles/the-philosophy-of-umbrellas-auid-912 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/umbrella.jpg"><br>Tucked away amongst Friedrich Nietzsche's unpublished manuscripts is a small fragment of text, neatly enclosed in quotation marks: "I have forgotten my umbrella." The remark stands on its own, devoid of contextualising information and just as perplexing to the Nietzsche devotee as it is to the lay philosopher. In his slim volume Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles, Jacques Derrida interrogates this fragment for every shred of meaning - or not-meaning - it may hold, leading readers through a labyrinth of possibilities:“Could Nietzsche have disposed of some more or less secret code, which, for him or for some unknown accomplice of his, would have made sense of this statement?” Or perhaps,“What if Nietzsche himself meant to say nothing, or [at] least not much of anything, or anything whatever? Then again, what if Nietzsche was only pretending to say something? In fact, it is even possible that it is not Nietzsche's sentence...” Almost gleefully, Derrida references scholars who, convinced that Nietz... Wed, 25 Oct 2017 15:26:40 +0000 Marion Rankine https://iai.tv/articles/the-philosophy-of-umbrellas-auid-912 What You Should Know About Contemporary African Philosophy https://iai.tv/articles/what-you-should-know-about-contemporary-african-philosophy-auid-1047 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/ifeyani-menkiti-blue.jpg" /><br />‘Westerners’ tend to romanticize traditional African beliefs when they treat them as inherently a-rational; we see ‘African beliefs’ as offering an escape from the constraints of a rationally disenchanted modern world. But anyone who expects to find a refuge from rationality in modern African philosophy should stop reading now: African philosophy is just as critically rational, professional, and institutionalized as its Western relative.Anyone who is interested in philosophy in general, has at least two reasons to be interested in African philosophy. First, African philosophy queries the habitual universality claims of Western philosophy; second, African philosophy offers insights into dimensions of human experience made uniquely available through African metaphysical beliefs and normative commitments.Below, I shall briefly speak to both these points in the course of reflecting on the rise of post-independence African philosophy. I shall focus on Anglophone West African philosophical t... Mon, 12 Mar 2018 11:41:46 +0000 Katrin Flikschuh https://iai.tv/articles/what-you-should-know-about-contemporary-african-philosophy-auid-1047 What Is Truth? Four Different Answers https://iai.tv/articles/what-is-truth-four-different-answers-auid-1202 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/bryan-goff-395916-unsplash.jpg" /><br />Everyone knows that a belief is true if it corresponds with the facts. This is the first theory of truth, and it has only two problems: what to make of correspondence, and what to make of facts. Facts, said the twentieth century logician Willard Van Orman Quine, are fictions: sentence-sized objects invented for the sake of correspondence. Facts are not simply given, independent, partners of true beliefs. To form a belief is just to claim to find a fact. It may or may not be a fact that Elizabeth I remained a virgin; to find out requires inquiry, and inquiry is just a matter of settling what to believe about this pressing issue. Inquiry is a matter of warping our beliefs as little as possible in order to accommodate new experience. But in order to exert a pressure, experience needs to be interpreted and conceptualised, or in other words, to have a voice, indicating what to believe. So once it includes the results of inquiry, there is no escape from our overall system of belief. So says ... Tue, 15 Jan 2019 11:30:04 +0000 Simon Blackburn https://iai.tv/articles/what-is-truth-four-different-answers-auid-1202 Can There Be Belief Without Language? https://iai.tv/articles/can-there-be-belief-without-language-auid-1199 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/jack-cain-351543-unsplash.jpg" /><br />We can wonder about what others are thinking or feeling without ever hearing them say a word. My toddler holds an empty ice cream cone, looking despondently at a melting ball of goo on the ground. It is obvious that she is sad she lost her treat. An orangutan brushes his head with a leaf, then hands the leaf to a human caregiver. For anyone familiar with the orangutan sanctuary in Indonesian Borneo, it is clear the orangutan wants his head cleaned. An extraterrestrial spaceship is observed approaching Earth. Humanity hopes their intentions are peaceful.  The ideas we have about young children's, animals' or aliens’ feelings and intentions suggest that it is possible to be a thinker without being a speaker. But some philosophers have denied it, arguing that only language users can believe anything. Understanding this view requires a little unpacking about what language and belief are.    My daughter doesn’t yet use language. The orangutan, like all nonhuman animals, doesn’t have a natur... Tue, 08 Jan 2019 12:45:33 +0000 Kristin Andrews https://iai.tv/articles/can-there-be-belief-without-language-auid-1199 Why There Is No Self: A Buddhist Perspective for the West https://iai.tv/articles/why-there-is-no-self-a-buddhist-perspective-for-the-west-auid-1044 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/no-self-magic.jpg" /><br />Buddhism is famous for its doctrine of no-self (anātman).  Do Buddhists really believe that we have no self? Yes. Isn’t that crazy? No. Do you mean that none of us exist? No. But we don't exist as selves.  And to believe that you do exist as a self is a serious, albeit common, pathology. Let me explain.The Buddhist doctrine of no-self is not a nihilistic denial of your reality, or that of your friends and relatives; instead, it is a middle way between such a nihilistic denial and a reification of the existence that you do have. That reification is instinctive, and then forms the basis for lots of bad religion and metaphysics, as well as for some really problematic ethical thought and conduct, all of which lead to a mass of suffering. Since Buddhism is all about the release from suffering (they call it nirvāṇa), and the belief in a self is regarded as a cause of suffering, extirpating that belief is a central project of Buddhist philosophy.Let us begin by identifying the self whose exis... Mon, 19 Feb 2018 12:05:52 +0000 Jay Garfield https://iai.tv/articles/why-there-is-no-self-a-buddhist-perspective-for-the-west-auid-1044 How Western Philosophy Became Racist https://iai.tv/articles/the-racism-of-the-western-philosophy-canon-auid-1200 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/western-philosophy-became-racist-min.jpg" /><br />Open up almost any book on the history of philosophy published over the last 150 years and you’ll likely find much the same story: philosophy arose out of the blue in ancient Greece about 2600 years ago, when Thales theorised that water was the fundamental principle of nature, and was then developed by the Greeks and later the Romans. For the last 2000 years, the story goes, philosophy has been cultivated by other European thinkers, most notably those from Germany, France, and Britain, with American thinkers also contributing over the last two centuries. The clear implication is that anything worthy of the name philosophy occurred in the west, more particularly, in western Europe and America.But it was not always this way. The first English-language history of philosophy, published in 1687 by Thomas Stanley, presented various ancient philosophies from the east, including those of the Chaldeans, Persians, and Sabeans, from which Stanley claimed Greek philosophy had developed. A French-l... Tue, 08 Jan 2019 15:19:13 +0000 Lloyd Strickland https://iai.tv/articles/the-racism-of-the-western-philosophy-canon-auid-1200 The Evolution of Eternity https://iai.tv/articles/the-evolution-of-eternity-auid-1182 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/nadine-shaabana-161337-unsplash.jpg" /><br />We humans have repeatedly contemplated the idea of living forever in myths, fairy tales, philosophy, religion and science. More recently, however, skeptics of the benefits of eternal life have abounded. Bernard Williams famously argued that immortality would inevitably get boring.  But whether or not he was right, the temporal limits of our lives – that we are born at some time, and that we die at some time – are some of our most defining characteristics. Life as we know it would be very different if it wasn’t finite in its temporal extent.Not so for the God of Christianity. According to the Bible, God “is before all things” (Col. 1:17), and God’s “years have no end” (Ps. 102:27). God is, in a word, eternal. That’s a very different way to be from ours. And it’s not surprising that God’s relationship to time is thought to be so utterly different. After all, God is supposed to be the creator of the universe, the ultimate being that controls and watches over everything else.But what exact... Tue, 11 Dec 2018 11:56:18 +0000 Natalja Deng https://iai.tv/articles/the-evolution-of-eternity-auid-1182 On Swearing and Philosophy: An Interview with Rebecca Roache https://iai.tv/articles/on-swearing-and-philosophy-an-interview-with-rebecca-roache-auid-832 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/RebeccaRoachePhilSwearing.jpg" /><br />Rebecca Roache is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London, and is currently writing a book about swearing. Roache began her academic career at the University of Leeds, where she worked closely with Professor Robin Le Polvidin during her BA and MA studies, with a focus on the philosophy of time. Her philosophical interests cover a broad array of issues, covering but by no means limited to metaphysics, philosophy of mind, practical ethics, and philosophy of language. This conversation took place over the phone in a quiet Islington café and I’m grateful to Rebecca for joining me in swearing with such gusto. — David Maclean   DM: How should we define swearing? What separates it from other aspects of speech? RR: I think there are a few things. If you look it up, you’ll find definitions like 'taboo language', which is just anything that you’re not allowed to do - often informally, not illegal but whatever is frowned upon. So that’s a good place to start but t... Sun, 21 May 2017 08:57:51 +0000 Rebecca Roache https://iai.tv/articles/on-swearing-and-philosophy-an-interview-with-rebecca-roache-auid-832 Why The Term ‘Continental Philosophy’ Is An Insult https://iai.tv/articles/why-the-term-continental-philosophy-is-an-insult-auid-1151 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/analytic-vs-philosophy-split2.jpg" /><br />One of the youngest philosophy professors in Germany, Markus Gabriel teaches in 16 languages, dreads metaphysics and thinks that the philosophy of mind needs to tighten up, and understand the problem with focusing on the English-specific term 'mind'  (in German, 'geist' has no connection to the brain). Author of ‘I Am Not A Brain’ and ‘Why The World Does Not Exist’, in the interview below, Gabriel discusses the link between Brexit, breakfast and the analytic/continental split, and how the language we speak shapes and limits our answer to what he considers philosophy's key question – what it means to be human. You mentioned in an interview that you find the distinction between analytic and continental philosophy ridiculous. Could you elaborate on that? Being from the so-called continent I was never able to understand what continental philosophy is. It always looked to me, when travelling to the US or the UK, like continental breakfast – something that you shouldn’t try, or a weird confu... Mon, 01 Oct 2018 14:05:03 +0000 Markus Gabriel https://iai.tv/articles/why-the-term-continental-philosophy-is-an-insult-auid-1151 African Philosophy Is More Than You Think It Is https://iai.tv/articles/african-philosophy-is-more-than-you-think-it-is-auid-1097 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/african-philosophy-frantz-fanon-iainews.jpg" /><br />North Atlantic professional philosophy has only recently been awakening to the realization that societies in the global South have rich traditions of thought. While efforts to break beyond the narrow canon of academic philosophy ought to be welcomed, a truly robust engagement with African, Asian, Latin American and other philosophical systems will demand more than the odd additional reading tacked on at the bottom of the syllabus to round off the semester. Rather, it will require, among other things, a thoroughgoing excavation of the reading schemas by which philosophers engage with non-Western texts. A recent essay written by Katrin Flikschuh, a respected professor of modern political theory at the London School of Economics, may serve as an illustration of how North Atlantic philosophers often misread African philosophical texts. In an otherwise fine article pushing back against Western dismissals of African beliefs as devoid of rationality, Flikschuh ends up reasserting several trou... Wed, 20 Jun 2018 11:05:01 +0000 Omedi Ochieng https://iai.tv/articles/african-philosophy-is-more-than-you-think-it-is-auid-1097 Why The Mind Is Not the Brain https://iai.tv/articles/why-the-mind-is-not-the-brain-auid-1139 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/matthew-henry-130381-unsplash-1.jpg" /><br />One of the youngest philosophy professors in Germany, Markus Gabriel teaches in 16 languages, dreads metaphysics and thinks that the philosophy of mind needs to tighten up. Author of ‘I Am Not A Brain’ and ‘Why The World Does Not Exist’, he will be debating Mind, Matter and Mechanisms with neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland and writer and former clinical neuroscientist Raymond Tallis at our London Festival HowTheLightGetsIn on 22-23 September. In the interview below, he talks about why he prefers the German term ‘geist’ to the English ‘mind’, how we should reclaim our rationality, and why we ought to stop making claims about what we don’t know.Let’s start with the title of your latest book. Why is the mind not the brain?The shortest argument goes something like this: there’s what philosophers call a mereological fallacy. Mereology is the discipline which studies the relation between wholes and parts. So imagine someone tells you that David Beckham didn’t score a goal, it was his foot... Wed, 29 Aug 2018 12:43:48 +0000 Markus Gabriel https://iai.tv/articles/why-the-mind-is-not-the-brain-auid-1139 The Secrets of the Tantric Body https://iai.tv/articles/the-story-of-the-tantric-body-auid-1106 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/jairo-alzate-45540-unsplash.jpg" /><br />The body is of central importance to the Hindu and Buddhist Tantra traditions because it is thought to contain the entire universe within it. The body recapitulates the cosmos, with the highest level of Shiva or the Goddess located at, or above, the crown of the head and the level of the earth located at the feet.  The practices of the Tantras are designed to achieve liberation (moksha) but also to achieve magical powers and worldly success (siddhi). In the traditional worldview of ancient and medieval India, supernatural powers afforded through yogic practice were a standard list of eight that included powers of levitation and increase or decrease of size. The other kind of worldly success through ritual was the destruction of one’s enemies and the power of attraction; to attract a desired person through a kind of ‘love magic’. An early text (possibly 7th century) describes visualization techniques for ‘hooking’ the desired person and drawing her/him into oneself. Other powers gained ... Mon, 09 Jul 2018 14:44:22 +0000 Gavin Flood https://iai.tv/articles/the-story-of-the-tantric-body-auid-1106 The Secrets of Experience https://iai.tv/articles/the-secrets-of-experience-auid-850 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/heilcorrectaspect.jpg" /><br />Could you ever hope to observe – visually or otherwise – the conscious experiences of others? Before venturing an answer to this question, it is important to understand what is being asked and why answers have proved so elusive. Philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists vigorously debate solutions to what David Chalmers calls the Hard Problem of consciousness: how are conscious experiences to be reconciled with our emerging understanding of the material world? Many who accept that consciousness has a neurological ‘substrate’ reject the reduction of the mental to the physical because this seems effectively to eliminate the mental. On the one hand, we seem intimately familiar with qualities of our conscious experiences, experiences that mediate our awareness of the physical universe. On the other hand, the qualitative nature of these experiences seem altogether to elude the physical sciences. From the scientific perspective, conscious phenomena seem alien and utterly mysterious. W... Mon, 31 Jul 2017 09:14:37 +0000 John Heil https://iai.tv/articles/the-secrets-of-experience-auid-850 Meaning, Minds and Mother Tongues https://iai.tv/articles/meaning-minds-and-mother-tongues-auid-856 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Meaning-Minds-and-Mother-Tongues-Daniel-Everett.jpg" /><br />Hearing our native tongue, especially spoken with our home-town accent, in a strange place comforts us. When I was dean on the marvelous program, Semester at Sea, a semester-long voyage around the world with 600 students, 30 faculty members, along with more than 300 crew, staff, and family, we docked in over 13 countries. Students were nervous about not speaking the language. Many of them told me that as they wandered the streets of Tokyo, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Madras, Cairo, Jerusalem, Odessa, Casablanca, and La Guaira, among others, whenever they heard their native language, usually English, they felt un-alone, in the presence of someone like themselves. This is easy enough to show by experiment. First, go somewhere where the people speak differently from you – even slightly, such as a Bostoner visiting Atlanta, Georgia or a Cockney visiting a place where Received Pronunciation is spoken. Next, listen to the dissonance of the varied voices around you. You will perhaps be fascina... Mon, 31 Jul 2017 11:05:25 +0000 Daniel Everett https://iai.tv/articles/meaning-minds-and-mother-tongues-auid-856 The Ecstasy of the Hyperreal in the Age of Trump https://iai.tv/articles/were-all-schizophrenic-and-ecstatic-in-the-age-of-trump-auid-1102 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/stephen-mayes-560286-unsplash-trump-hyperreal.jpg" /><br />In French theorist Jean Baudrillard’s postmodern world, individuals flee from the ‘desert of the real’ for the ecstasies of hyperreality and the new realm of computer, media, and technological experience. In this universe, subjectivities are fragmented and lost, and a new terrain of experience appears, which for Baudrillard renders previous social theories and politics obsolete and irrelevant. Tracing the vicissitudes of the subject in contemporary society, Baudrillard claims that contemporary subjects are no longer afflicted with modern pathologies like hysteria or paranoia, but exist in “a state of terror which is characteristic of the schizophrenic, an over-proximity of all things, a foul promiscuity of all things which beleaguer and penetrate him, meeting with no resistance, and no halo, no aura, not even the aura of his own body protects him. In spite of himself the schizophrenic is open to everything and lives in the most extreme confusion”. For Baudrillard, the “ecstasy of commu... Tue, 26 Jun 2018 16:17:45 +0000 Douglas Kellner https://iai.tv/articles/were-all-schizophrenic-and-ecstatic-in-the-age-of-trump-auid-1102 The Minds of Strangers https://iai.tv/articles/the-minds-of-strangers-auid-855 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/mindsofothersredux.jpg" /><br />How we know others has been a problem perplexing philosophers for centuries (exactly when the problem arises in the history of philosophy is a matter of some speculation). For as long as there has been a problem, there has also been an acknowledgement that the way in which we know others and the way we know ourselves is substantially different. One very early statement of the problem can be found in St. Augustine’s De Trinitate (written in the 4th century AD): “Know thyself” is not said to the mind as…”know the will of that man”, for it is not within our reach to perceive at all, either by sense or understanding, unless by corporeal signs set forth….&quot; It should be remembered that when philosophers talk about knowing oneself and others they are not talking about having deep insight into character but are asking a rather more superficial question: how can I know what another is thinking or feeling? St Augustine points out that we cannot perceive the mind of another (using the will as an ... Mon, 31 Jul 2017 10:59:27 +0000 Anita Avramides https://iai.tv/articles/the-minds-of-strangers-auid-855 Intuition vs Reason https://iai.tv/articles/intuition-vs-reason-auid-790 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/intuitionvreason.jpg" /><br />Consider the following puzzle, borrowed from Nobel-prize winner Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast And Slow:    A bat and ball cost $1.10.    The bat costs one dollar more than the ball.    How much does the ball cost?The puzzle naturally evokes an intuitive answer: 10 cents (the correct answer is 5 cents). The puzzle is a very simple math puzzle that is easily solved using careful reasoning. But when we are intellectually lazy, we tend to follow our gut instincts or intuitions, even when the task is not the kind of task that should be handled in this way. Mathematical and logical exercises typically cannot be solved using our gut instinct.Daniel Kahneman and his colleague Amos Tversky, however, have taken this insight one step further. They have argued that we do not reason rationally in everyday circumstances and regularly are subject to cognitive illusions, produced by heuristics, or rules of thumb, that we rely on when we reason fast. The mistake we make in these cases is to rely on ... Tue, 28 Feb 2017 13:32:53 +0000 Berit Brogaard https://iai.tv/articles/intuition-vs-reason-auid-790 The Ethical Minefield of Baby Names: An Interview with Nolen Gertz https://iai.tv/articles/the-ethical-minefield-of-naming-your-baby-auid-838 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/johnny-cash-at-folsom-prison.jpg" /><br />Nolen Gertz is Assistant Professor of Applied Philosophy at the University of Twente, Netherlands, Senior Researcher at the 4TU.Centre for Ethics of Technology, and the author of The Philosophy of War and Exile: From the Humanity of War to the Inhumanity of Peace (Palgrave 2014). Describing himself as a “continental philosopher trying to live in an analytic philosophy world”, Gertz’s career as a philosopher began at The George Washington University before he went on to complete his PhD at The New School for Social Research,  His philosophical interests include applied ethics, social and political philosophy, phenomenology, existentialism, and aesthetics. Amid his engagements as an ‘ethicist for hire’, he is currently focused on investigating the relationship between nihilism and technology.—David Maclean  DM: Why do baby names, particularly unusual ones, provoke such a strong reaction?NG: I think it’s certainly something that stressed me out, both as a parent and as someone who has a s... Wed, 14 Jun 2017 15:34:25 +0000 Nolen Gertz https://iai.tv/articles/the-ethical-minefield-of-naming-your-baby-auid-838 In Defence of Knowledge https://iai.tv/articles/in-defence-of-knowledge-auid-557 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Ray-Brassier-35.jpg" /><br />Is knowledge overrated? Many philosophers think so. They have been convinced by the horrors of 20th century totalitarianism that the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake is not only dangerous but ruinous for humanity. This mistrust of knowledge – particularly scientific knowledge – now percolates throughout the humanities. If there is anything resembling an unassailable doxa in the humanities, it is the following: absolute truth is a totalitarian ideal and the desire to know everything harbours a murderous impulse. We should give up our Platonic obsession with knowing the reality behind appearances and appreciate instead the multifaceted ambiguity of appearances, as well as the plurality of perspectives on the world. These have become familiar tenets of postmodern skepticism. But skepticism is as old as philosophy and its resurgence in the second half of the 20th century needs to be put into historical perspective. Doubt about the fundamental worth of knowledge is always a symptom of ... Sat, 15 Aug 2015 08:30:02 +0000 Ray Brassier https://iai.tv/articles/in-defence-of-knowledge-auid-557 The March of Truth https://iai.tv/articles/the-march-of-truth-auid-788 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Cameron-1.jpg" /><br />                   '... let us recall the well-known statement of a university professor in the                    Republic of the Massagetes: &quot;Not the faculty but His Excellency the General                    can properly determine the sum of two and two.&quot;'                                                                                                    - Hermann HesseThe world is a dangerous place right now. Politicians encourage a new version of the Cold War's nuclear arms race, more dangerous now because there are more players in the game. Greed overrides prudence in the rush to burn our last resources of fossil fuels, leading the planet ever closer to an irreversible tipping point of climate change. And relentless human population pressure drives more of our fellow species to extinction.Those are opinions. But the facts on which they are based are not.There are two ways to react to the situation. We may wait passively for the Horsemen of the Apocalypse to come and do their work. ... Mon, 27 Feb 2017 16:20:39 +0000 Peter Cameron https://iai.tv/articles/the-march-of-truth-auid-788 Philosophy and Science: Double Team? https://iai.tv/articles/philosophy-and-science-double-team-auid-401 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/philosophy-bites-back-3.jpg" /><br />The role of the philosopher is often open to question, especially in an age when science can appear to be the dominant form of knowledge. But there remain questions that science can perhaps never answer, and that philosophy – among other disciplines – may be better equipped to address. But rather than see philosophy and science at odds with one another, in certain fields the two are actually inextricably linked. So argues philosopher Angie Hobbs, the Chair for the Public Understanding of Philosophy at Sheffield University, in this interview with the IAI. Hobbs is also a frequent contributor to the BBC’s In Our Time, Night Waves and The Forum, the author of Plato and the Hero, and is currently working on a new edition of Plato’s Symposium.Here she draws on Aristotle to discuss the overlaps between science and philosophy and explain how philosophy still has important practical applications in our everyday lives. Science seems to be the dominant form of knowledge today, but can science do... Tue, 12 Aug 2014 00:01:34 +0000 Angie Hobbs https://iai.tv/articles/philosophy-and-science-double-team-auid-401 Searle vs Lawson: After the End of Truth - part 1 https://iai.tv/articles/objectivity-and-truth-auid-548 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Searle-39-2.jpg" /><br />Read the alternative perspective on the existence of objective truth from post-realist philosopher Hilary Lawson here. I have been a professional teacher of philosophy now for 60 years. One persistent philosophical confusion I have discovered is the temptation among intelligent undergraduates to adopt a conception of relativism about truth. It’s not easy to get a clear statement of relativism, but the general idea is something like this: there is no such thing as objective truth. All truth statements are made from a perspective and the perspective is inherently subjective and the result is that truth is always relative to the interests of the truth-staters. So what is true for me is true for me, and what is true for you is true for you. Each of us has a right to our own truth. Part of the appeal of this view is that is seems both empowering and democratic. It is empowering because I get to decide what is true for me, and democratic because everybody else has the right to decide what is... Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:33:45 +0000 John Searle https://iai.tv/articles/objectivity-and-truth-auid-548 Searle vs Lawson: After the End of Truth - part 2 https://iai.tv/articles/after-the-end-of-truth-part-2-auid-552 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Lawson-39.jpg" /><br />This article was written in response to philosopher of mind and language John Searle's defence of the existence of objective truth. Read John Searle's piece here. It is time to put behind us the arguments between realism and relativism.  Realism has failed.  Relativism is incoherent.  We must find a new philosophy that is neither realist nor relativist.  John Searle and I have fundamental differences but let me begin with some common ground.  The relativism that has typically been espoused by generations of students cannot be expressed without relying on an implicit realism, and is at once paradoxical.  At its most elemental, to say ‘there is no truth’ is self-denying when applied to the claim itself.  Some thirty years ago at the outset of my career, in ‘Reflexivity: the post-modern predicament’, I argued that this self-referential puzzle could not be evaded and was central to 20th century philosophy. The incoherence of relativism does not however validate realism.  As Hilary Putnam c... Wed, 05 Aug 2015 12:42:26 +0000 Hilary Lawson https://iai.tv/articles/after-the-end-of-truth-part-2-auid-552 Issue 57: Knowing Others and Knowing Our Selves https://iai.tv/articles/issue-57-knowing-others-and-knowing-our-selves-auid-858 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Editorial-other-minds.jpg" /><br />Can we ever know the minds of others? Will we ever experience their lives as they do? Is technology distorting identity? “No man is an island” wrote Donne. We are social animals and through shared experiences we come to know ourselves and others. Yet such is the nature of consciousness that our thoughts and feelings are ultimately hidden, private and inscrutable. From our loved ones to strangers on the street, it remains impossible to truly know anyone. Meanwhile, with the parade of perfect lives exhibited by social media, or twitter and its anonymous trolls, the gap between appearance and reality is growing. And now neuroscience claims we even dupe ourselves to gain social advantage. Are our minds profoundly unknowable? Are we as much a mystery to ourselves as we are to each other? Or is experience inextricably social and identity created through interaction with the world? In this issue of IAI News, we tackle problem of other minds. Our contributors will be asking if it’s possible to... Mon, 31 Jul 2017 12:55:57 +0000 Editorial https://iai.tv/articles/issue-57-knowing-others-and-knowing-our-selves-auid-858 The Philosopher and the Ocean https://iai.tv/articles/the-philosopher-and-the-ocean-auid-658 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Duits-48.jpg" /><br />What is the point of philosophy? One significant role that philosophy can play is to prompt us to take a step back from our everyday assumptions to a broader perspective in which alternative possibilities can come into view. One can then first wonder about why our assumptions are the way they are. Take the Atlantic Ocean – how is it the individual object that it is? How is it that this particular expanse of water is distinguished from others spatially contiguous to it and given the status of an entity, a thing, an object? What about all the infinite number of regions of water that the Atlantic Ocean could be carved up into? Why aren’t they themselves oceans, seas, things? Whatever answer one gives to these questions, the questions themselves invite one to reflect that the objecthood of the Atlantic Ocean is a result, a product, a consequence, of some “individuating operation” and thus that it is not a brute, ultimate fact that the Atlantic Ocean is an individual thing. Such “individuat... Sun, 27 Mar 2016 11:14:04 +0000 Rufus Duits https://iai.tv/articles/the-philosopher-and-the-ocean-auid-658 The Iron Cage of Reason https://iai.tv/articles/the-iron-cage-of-reason-auid-789 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Mottier-2-New.JPG" /><br />The history of Western culture is the history of the rise of the authority of ‘Reason-with-a-big-R’. Since the Enlightenment, we have come to believe that modes of knowledge that are guided by rationality are intrinsically more valuable, more ‘true’ than others. This is reflected in the power of scientific discourses in modern society: today, science occupies the throne which religion occupied in earlier times, as the key source of knowledge and truth. We have gained a lot of things in this process, including the many benefits that medical discoveries using rationalist scientific methods have brought us. But it is also important to ask ourselves: what have we lost? What has been pushed out by this historical march of Reason, what are we not seeing when we assume that rational thought automatically brings ‘progress’, and what areas of our human experience have come to be devalued? Nietzsche pictured the history of Western culture as a struggle between Apollo, the Greek god of orderly ra... Tue, 28 Feb 2017 13:31:05 +0000 Véronique Mottier https://iai.tv/articles/the-iron-cage-of-reason-auid-789 What We Cannot Know https://iai.tv/articles/what-we-cannot-know-auid-787 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Du-Sautoy-3.jpg" /><br />The pace of scientific discovery in the last few decades has been extraordinary. We’ve discovered new particles; seen habitable planets orbiting distant stars; detected gravitational waves; mapped the complete neuronal network of a C Elegans worm; and built new forms of carbon called graphene. In 2014 the science journal Nature reported that the number of scientific papers published has been doubling every 9 years since the end of World War Two.  So is there anything science cannot answer? Or could we possibly know it all? Identifying the known unknowns was the task I set myself on the journey I’ve been on for the last three years writing my new book What We Cannot Know. Not just things we don’t know now. I wanted to identify whether there are any problems that are intrinsically unanswerable. One of the motivations for my journey comes from a proof that my own subject of mathematics has provable limits. Called Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, the discovery made by Austrian logician Kurt... Mon, 27 Feb 2017 16:15:48 +0000 Marcus Du Sautoy https://iai.tv/articles/what-we-cannot-know-auid-787 Beyond Words https://iai.tv/articles/beyond-words-auid-648 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Emma-Borg-47.jpg" /><br />I’m a realist. I think there is a world beyond words and that the aim and purpose of (at least some parts of) language is to describe that world. Of course, not all parts of language need serve this purpose. For instance, perhaps the aim of poetry is to encourage ways of thinking where the connection to reality is far from central, so that to charge poetry with failing to provide an accurate description of reality would just be to miss the point. Still, I think that language evolved as a means of conveying information, of making claims about the world, and that much of what we do with language today still has ‘describing reality’ as its job description. To my mind, this seems like an evidently reasonable claim, and it seems to have a fair amount of intuitive appeal, so why might one think otherwise? Why might someone think that language doesn’t describe reality at all? Well, one thing that might prompt us towards a less realist view is the recognition that language is a human construct... Sat, 12 Mar 2016 16:09:50 +0000 Emma Borg https://iai.tv/articles/beyond-words-auid-648 The Kingdom of Speech https://iai.tv/articles/the-kingdom-of-speech-auid-649 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Daniel-Everett-47.jpg" /><br />Language is a tool that evolved as humans, with their unique cognitive abilities and unparalleled dependency on cooperation, worked over millennia to build small bands of scavengers from the rich African ecosystem into societies held together by culture. Culture itself exists in symbiotic relationship with language, in which knowledge structures, values ranked by relative importance, and social roles are justified, explained, and brought into being largely through language. Language is the most amazing tool in the animal kingdom. American author Tom Wolfe has gone so far as to say that humans have moved beyond the animal kingdom to the “kingdom of speech.” Yet because language was not simply given to humans by the command of an all-knowing creator, or “first talker,” it has evolved from the days of Homo erectus to this current era of Homo sapiens, as no more nor any less than the only communication system we have. Our languages are associations of sound, meaning, and sequential arrange... Sat, 12 Mar 2016 16:15:02 +0000 Daniel Everett https://iai.tv/articles/the-kingdom-of-speech-auid-649 The Word and the World https://iai.tv/articles/the-word-and-the-world-auid-599 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Joanna-Kavenna-40.jpg" /><br />Is language limited? We might answer the question with reference to a tragi-comic empirical precept: everything is limited, in the end, in one sense or another. We are mortal; we exist in an unknowable and strange universe, of which we understand very little. Each one of us is limited, by finitude, by vantage point; our species is limited, and, we might reasonably assume, will one day become extinct. Furthermore, these words I am deploying – ‘the universe,’ ‘time’ – are linguistic concepts, not perpetual realities. The word is not the thing. Moreover, the thing is most likely not the thing as we understand it; it is completely possible we have not grasped the meaning of it at all. Despite this, we eagerly apply words to the formlessness around us, and our anointed experts deliver new taxonomies in language, which rise to prominence and then fade, to be replaced by other taxonomies in turn. Meanwhile, another species, with another language and another mode of being-in-the-world, might... Sat, 21 Nov 2015 22:24:29 +0000 Joanna Kavenna https://iai.tv/articles/the-word-and-the-world-auid-599 Devout Disbelief https://iai.tv/articles/devout-disbelief-auid-526 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/In-Search-of-the-Self-SAT-23-MAY.jpg" /><br />I am getting increasingly astonished at hearing so many well-qualified scholars repeating – as official scientific doctrine - a claim which they clearly don’t believe. The claim is that they (and indeed their readers) don’t exist. But existing isn’t something extra that you do on top of just being present. It is simply being present in the first place. We can, of course, ask these people, `Who, then, are the beings that are now making this claim? What are the mysterious entities which (in your view) actually write their books - work out their subtle doctrines - make their life-changing decisions for them and deal, for instance, with their children and their bank-managers? How do these bogus entities manage to go on deceiving all the people round them into taking them for genuine human beings? And who, indeed, are all those surrounding people? If they are all just flickering illusions, how do they manage to provide us with a world which is certainly not just fantasy but is solidly and p... Thu, 07 May 2015 11:37:52 +0000 Mary Midgley https://iai.tv/articles/devout-disbelief-auid-526 The Age of Nothing https://iai.tv/articles/the-age-of-nothing-auid-558 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Peter-Watson-35.jpg" /><br />So far as I know, Jürgen Habermas set the ball rolling. In 2008 he wrote a celebrated essay, ‘An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-Secular Age.’ The thrust of what he had to say first occurred to him after he had attended a memorial service for Max Frisch, the Swiss author and playwright, which was held in St. Peter’s Church in Zurich as long ago as April 9, 1991. The service began with Karin Pilliod, Frisch’s partner, reading out a brief declaration written by the deceased. It stated, among other things: ‘We let our nearest speak, and without an “amen”. I am grateful to the ministers of St. Peter’s in Zurich … for their permission to place the coffin in the church during our memorial service. The ashes will be strewn somewhere.’ Two friends spoke but there was no priest and no blessing. The mourners were made up mostly of people who had little time for church and religion. Frisch himself had drawn up the menu for the meal that followed. Habermas wrote much later... Mon, 17 Aug 2015 09:54:04 +0000 Peter Watson https://iai.tv/articles/the-age-of-nothing-auid-558 The Key to Wisdom https://iai.tv/articles/the-key-to-wisdom-auid-507 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Nicholas-Maxwell-2.jpg" /><br />Nearly forty years ago I discovered a profoundly significant idea. Quite simply: the key to wisdom. For over two and a half thousand years, philosophy (which means “love of wisdom”) has sought in vain to discover how humanity might learn to become wise – how we might learn to create an enlightened world. For the ancient Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato and the rest, discovering how to become wise was the fundamental task for philosophy. In the modern period, this central, ancient quest has been laid somewhat to rest, not because it is no longer thought important, but rather because the quest is seen as unattainable. The record of savagery and horror of the last century is so extreme and terrible that the search for wisdom, more important than ever, has come to seem hopeless, a quixotic fantasy. Nevertheless, it is this ancient, fundamental problem, lying at the heart of philosophy, at the heart, indeed, of all of thought, morality, politics and life, that I have solved. Or so I beli... Sun, 08 Mar 2015 13:10:21 +0000 Nicholas Maxwell https://iai.tv/articles/the-key-to-wisdom-auid-507 What Philosophy Ought to Do https://iai.tv/articles/what-philosophy-ought-to-do-auid-483 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Nicholas-Maxwell.jpg" /><br />Philosophy is unique. There is no other academic discipline that has laboured for so long under such a massive misconception as to what its basic task ought to be. The proper basic task of philosophy is to keep alive awareness of what our most fundamental, important, urgent problems are, what our best attempts are at solving them, and what the relative merits and demerits of these attempts are. A basic task is to articulate, and improve the articulation of, our fundamental problems, and make clear that there are answers to these problems implicit in much of what we do and think – implicit in science, politics, economic activity, art, the law, education and so on – these answers often being inadequate and having adverse consequences for life and thought in various ways as a result. Philosophy should also try to help improve our attempted solutions to our fundamental problems, by imaginatively proposing and critically assessing possible solutions, all the time making clear, where relevan... Fri, 09 Jan 2015 07:38:18 +0000 Nicholas Maxwell https://iai.tv/articles/what-philosophy-ought-to-do-auid-483 Truth and Reality https://iai.tv/articles/truth-and-reality-auid-499 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/James-Williams-II.jpg" /><br /> It is well known that in his masterwork, Difference and Repetition, Gilles Deleuze argues for extending the concept of ‘true’ with the concept of ‘interesting’. It is less well known, but perhaps more important, that he claims we should not confuse the real with the actual. Instead, we must expand the real to include the virtual, which can be understood, initially, as latent abstract potential, where abstract means potential not strictly associated with a given actual thing and its known effects. There are fairly accessible intuitions we can follow to grasp what he is getting at. Many truths are of no obvious interest at all. I just took a sip of coffee, dear reader. On the other hand, there are propositions and ideas which catch our attention and initiate important actions. They want the Greek government to fail. The actual potential power of an engine can be calculated in relation to valve areas and engine displacement. This gives us an accurate figure in horsepower. There are other... Sun, 22 Feb 2015 13:00:50 +0000 James R Williams https://iai.tv/articles/truth-and-reality-auid-499 Europe's Philosophical Rivalry https://iai.tv/articles/europes-philosophical-rivalry-auid-353 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Union-Jack-and-the-european-flag.jpg" /><br /> In an article in the Telegraph under the title “Europe’s dogmatic ruling class remains wedded to its folly”, Peter Oborne draws the quarrels over Britain’s future in the European Union into relation to age-old philosophical rivalries: “The problem is that European and British leaders tend to come from rival intellectual traditions”:“In Britain, empiricism – most closely associated with Hume, though its roots can be traced back to William of Ockham and others – is the native inheritance. Empiricism insists that all knowledge of fact must be based on experience. Most European schools of philosophy claim the exact opposite, namely that ideas are the only things that truly exist. This school of metaphysical idealism can be traced back through Hegel (for whom history itself is the realisation of an idea) and Kant to Plato. Anglo-Saxon empiricism and the idealism found on the Continent therefore prescribe directly opposite courses of political conduct.”Oborne’s attempt to align contemporary... Sat, 19 Apr 2014 17:29:34 +0000 Simon Glendinning https://iai.tv/articles/europes-philosophical-rivalry-auid-353 Reason, the Enlightenment, and Post-Truth Politics https://iai.tv/articles/reason-the-enlightenment-and-post-truth-politics-auid-785 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Hacker-4-New.JPG" /><br />Will post-truth politics put an end to the Enlightenment? Journalists and politicians have introduced the expressions ‘post-truth world’ and ‘post-truth politics’. Some post-modernists have welcomed this new era. It will, they enthusiastically proclaim, put an end to the Enlightenment Project. This is correct. For the Enlightenment was committed to the pursuit of truth in the face of religious dogma and political bigotry. It advocated empirical science and its methods as opposed to religious judgments based on the Bible or on the authority of the church. It demanded reasons and rational justifications for social institutions inimical to human felicity. And it fought for freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the face of religious and political censorship. The misleading and misguided expressions ‘post-truth world’ and ‘post-truth politics’ arose out of the 2016 debates over the British referendum on membership of the European Union and the US presidential election. In both, blat... Mon, 27 Feb 2017 15:58:13 +0000 Peter Hacker https://iai.tv/articles/reason-the-enlightenment-and-post-truth-politics-auid-785 Thinking Without Limits https://iai.tv/articles/thinking-without-limits-auid-338 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Simon-Saunders2.jpg" /><br />Simon Saunders is currently Professor of Philosophy of Physics at the University of Oxford, and Fellow of Linacre College. He is noted for his work on quantum mechanics (particularly the many-worlds interpretation), on identity and indiscernibility in physics, and on structural realism.   What do you think the idea of thinking the unthinkable actually amounts to? When we discuss “thought”, what do we actually mean? I think it’s about limits to thought vis-a-vis something like states of affairs. To set it up, one might ask, “are there extraordinary facts about the universe that somehow are going to be forever beyond our comprehension?” So the important question is whether or not we can have knowledge of every state of affairs?  Right. I think there are other aspects to the question which are also interesting – issues of experiential knowledge etc. It comes up in the philosophy of mind: for example, qualitative experience called qualia. Is redness a property that we can have access to th... Sat, 22 Mar 2014 22:48:14 +0000 Simon Saunders https://iai.tv/articles/thinking-without-limits-auid-338 In Defence of Post-Truth https://iai.tv/articles/in-defence-of-post-truth-auid-786 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Fuller-2.jpg" /><br />To believe what philosophers say about their field, you might be forgiven for thinking that they are seekers after the truth. However, as in so many other cases, you shouldn’t believe the hype. On the contrary, philosophers are the ultimate experts in a post-truth world. They see ‘truth’ for what it is: the name of a brand ever in search of a product which everyone is compelled to buy. This helps to explain why philosophers are most confident appealing to the truth when they are trying to persuade non-philosophers, be they in courtrooms or classrooms.Anyone who finds my judgement too harsh or cynical is invited to consider the careers of the key philosophical terms in which knowledge claims are transacted, not least ‘evidence’ and ‘truth’ itself. ‘Evidence’ is a good place to start because it feeds directly into the popular image of our post-truth world as ‘post-fact’, understood as a wilful denial of solid, if not incontrovertible, pieces of evidence, whose independent standing sets l... Mon, 27 Feb 2017 16:08:41 +0000 Steve Fuller https://iai.tv/articles/in-defence-of-post-truth-auid-786 Rethinking Cause and Effect https://iai.tv/articles/rethinking-cause-and-effect-auid-335 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/James-Ladyman.jpg" /><br />James Ladyman is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol. His work has predominately focused on the philosophy of science and mathematics. He is co-editor of the collection Arguing About Science, an introduction to the essential topics in the philosophy of science.   What do we mean by “cause and effect”? Well, that's very contentious. I'm not quite sure how to answer that. I think, traditionally, a cause is thought to be a sufficient condition for an effect, but that’s if the cause definitely happened. That's not what people tend to think now. They tend to think there are various causal factors; causation might be probabilistic, it might be all or nothing. I think cause and effect has been blown wide open as science has changed. For one thing, there are all sorts of diverse uses of cause and effect. Adaptation being caused by natural selection, for example, is the kind of causation that can only happen at population level. But people might say, &quot;smoking causes cancer”. Th... Sat, 22 Mar 2014 22:38:09 +0000 James Ladyman https://iai.tv/articles/rethinking-cause-and-effect-auid-335 Logic and the Linguistic Turn https://iai.tv/articles/logic-and-the-linguistic-turn-auid-332 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Michael-Potter-interview.jpg" /><br />Michael Potter is Professor of Logic in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, and has been a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College since 1989. His forthcoming book, Wittgenstein 1916, will be a study of Wittgenstein's views on ethics and religion during the First World War, during the time he was writing his famous Tractatus. We spoke to him about Wittgenstein, the linguistic turn and the importance of logic to the study of language. Can you start by explaining what we mean when we talk about the linguistic turn in philosophy? It is usually attributed to Gottlob Frege in his 1884 book, The Foundations of Arithmetic. He was interested in explaining arithmetic and his account was based on the idea of trying to explain what sentences like &quot;2+2=4&quot; mean. He was worried that merely explaining what a whole sentence means would leave the question answered, but not the question of what really are the numbers? So he adopted what's called the &quot;context principle&quot;. This turned what loo... Tue, 11 Mar 2014 21:52:10 +0000 Michael Potter https://iai.tv/articles/logic-and-the-linguistic-turn-auid-332 Against Relativism https://iai.tv/articles/against-relativism-auid-352 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/relativism.jpg" /><br />Every philosopher knows of the “freshman relativist”, quick to assert, dogmatically even, that it all depends how you look at it; if they think that then it must be true for them; when in Rome…; and at the end of the line, just “wha’ever”. You do not have to own a signed photograph of Michael Gove to loathe and fear this cynical or sceptical character. Yet for a long time the “postmodernist” climate nurtured the relativist frame of mind. Hidden dark forces mould and skew our beliefs and even our perceptions, let alone our values and tastes. We are each the creation of a particular history and culture, class and gender. There is no reason to expect uniformity, or convergence towards it. Multiplicity and diversity rule, and a good thing too. We should no longer entertain imperial ambitions, blithely supposing that just one ethic, or ideology, or way of life is the right one for everybody, and still less that we have the right to impose it on everybody. The relativist frame of mind was no... Sat, 19 Apr 2014 17:24:40 +0000 Simon Blackburn https://iai.tv/articles/against-relativism-auid-352 Stories of Desire https://iai.tv/articles/stories-of-desire-auid-405 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Stories-of-Desire-2.jpg" /><br />A mosquito bite is good way of understanding Deleuze and Guattari’s definition of desire. For them, desire is a cut in a flow and the start of another flow. We see this in the mosquito: interrupted in flight and redirected by our emission of CO2, cutting the flow of our blood for its progeny, but also injecting saliva into our blood flow, leading to the itch. For Deleuze and Guattari, desire is an explanatory model for all living events, not only the mosquito bite then, but also our subsequent behaviour, when we scratch to stop the flow of irritation from the swelling. Desire explains why we act in certain ways and what goes on when we do so. It is a very simple model with complex ramifications and surprising implications. The implication I want to draw attention to is in the distinction between desiring and willing. From Deleuze and Guattari’s point of view it is a common but dangerous mistake to confuse the wide-ranging process of desire, found in plants, animals and humans when a fl... Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:00:42 +0000 James R Williams https://iai.tv/articles/stories-of-desire-auid-405 It’s a Postrealist World https://iai.tv/articles/it-s-a-postrealist-world-auid-326 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/What-is-out-there2.jpg" /><br />The obvious and the self-evident are also the hallmarks of prejudice and danger. And what could be more obvious than that our maps, theories and histories of the world help us understand the world because they reflect reality. Science works because it is uncovering how the world really is. Self-evident common sense it may be – and one that Michaela Massimi and Simon Blackburn endorsed in their debate with me in After Relativism – but it is a mistake, and a dangerous mistake to boot. The name of this philosophical mistake is realism. What is dangerous about realism is that it encourages those who believe they have uncovered the truth to dismiss other accounts and sometimes to describe these alternative perspectives with derision or worse. From suicide bombers and terrorists to dictatorial governments and fanatical cults, the most ardent and violent supporters are typically realists. In the name of truth and in the name of having uncovered how the world ultimately is, it is possible to s... Mon, 24 Feb 2014 22:54:57 +0000 Hilary Lawson https://iai.tv/articles/it-s-a-postrealist-world-auid-326 What Science Can't Tell Us https://iai.tv/articles/what-science-can-t-tell-us-auid-317 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Question-mark.jpg" /><br />There is a view that science can ultimately explain everything, can answer every legitimate question. It is called scientism. Interestingly, most scientists consider scientism a pretty dubious doctrine. Many accept there are questions that science has not, and perhaps cannot, answer. Take moral questions, for example. Is killing always wrong? Is it morally acceptable to design a baby? Science can make new technologies possible, including weapons of mass destruction and genetic engineering. But most scientists agree that science cannot tell us whether it is ever morally permissible to use such technologies. It seems, as the philosopher David Hume famously noted, that science ultimately reveals only what is the case; it cannot tell us what we morally ought or ought not to do. Nor, it seems, can science explain why the universe itself exists – why there is anything at all. Scientific explanations involve appealing to natural causes or laws. For example, if you ask why the water froze in t... Sun, 09 Feb 2014 12:44:17 +0000 Stephen Law https://iai.tv/articles/what-science-can-t-tell-us-auid-317 The Sex Lives of Philosophers https://iai.tv/articles/the-sex-lives-of-philosophers-auid-259 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/tumblrlxr6626y4U1qbmtexo11280.jpg" /><br />In the 2002 biographical documentary on Jacques Derrida the director Amy Ziering Kofman asks the philosopher what he would most like to see in a film about Kant, Hegel or Heidegger. Derrida takes his time before answering. Then he responds: “their sex lives”. Kofman is taken aback. “Why?” she asks. Derrida explains that these philosophers never speak about their own sex lives in their philosophy. They present themselves as asexual. But, he wonders, what could be more important to them and to their writing than love, those they love, and the making of love? Philosophy has a lot to say about love in general; perhaps philosophy even began with this question: what is love? And yet, according to Derrida, individual philosophers have little to say about their own love lives, at least in their philosophical texts. Philosophy concerns the depersonalised construction of logical and universal systems of thought. Traditionally there should be no room in it for biographical introspection about one... Sat, 23 Nov 2013 13:14:51 +0000 Martin McQuillan https://iai.tv/articles/the-sex-lives-of-philosophers-auid-259 Why Study Philosophy? https://iai.tv/articles/why-study-philosophy-auid-289 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/why-study-philosophy-peter-hacker-iaitv.jpg" /><br />Physicists study matter, motion, and energy. Chemists study substances and their forms of combination, interaction and decomposition. Biologists study living things. And so forth. But what is it that philosophers study? One answer common throughout the ages is that as physicists study physics, philosophers study meta-physics. Philosophers, or at any rate the deepest of philosophers, we are told, are meta-physicists. Physicists study the contingencies of the world – things that happen to be so. Meta-physicists study the essential, necessary features of all possible worlds.This reply is unconvincing for a number of reasons. For one thing, if it were the case, it would need a great deal of explaining to vindicate philosophy. For while physics has produced libraries of well established results (and chemistry and biology yet more libraries), we can look in vain for trustworthy books entitled Established Truths of Metaphysics or A Handbook of Philosophical Facts.Moreover, there is more than ... Tue, 10 Dec 2013 14:23:23 +0000 admin https://iai.tv/articles/why-study-philosophy-auid-289 After Relativism https://iai.tv/articles/after-relativism-auid-266 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/after-relativism3.jpg" /><br />&quot;Everything is relative&quot; has become the mantra of our age - in ethics, in art and in science. But does this in fact mean we are lost? Should we retreat to the safe havens of absolute truth, or is there an alternative adventure beyond postmodernity?Author of Truth Simon Blackburn, non-realist philosopher and Closure theorist Hilary Lawson, and philosopher of science Michela Massimi explore ways forward from postmodernity.Click on the image to watch the debate!   Tue, 26 Nov 2013 18:06:18 +0000 Editor https://iai.tv/articles/after-relativism-auid-266