iai.tv news RSS feed https://iai.tv/articles-old/metaphysics-and-language 72 Philosophy Books Everyone Should Read https://iai.tv/articles/70-philosophy-books-everyone-should-read-auid-1168 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/72-philosophy-books-everyone-should-read.jpg" /><br />Why am I here? How can I live a good life? What does it mean to have a mind and be a person? Since the days of antiquity, philosophers have puzzled over fundamental questions like these that sit at the very heart of our lived experience and interactions with the world. Solving these problems is not merely about increasing our knowledge of the world, to fill up academic textbooks and sit on library shelves, but to impart wisdom to aid us as we navigate through life's uncertainties and its profoundest mysteries. November marks the anniversary of UNESCO's commitment to celebrate World Philosophy Day, an occasion to consider the impact of philosophy and big ideas around the world and across cultures. What's more, it's an opportunity to reflect on the intellectual challenges that are confronting humanity today, whether that be environmental damage, rising political tensions and a renewed nationalist fervour, or calculated attempts to undermine respect in truth. In 2017, we spoke to a number... Wed, 14 Nov 2018 17:09:28 +0000 IAI Editorial https://iai.tv/articles/70-philosophy-books-everyone-should-read-auid-1168 Beyond the analytic / continental divide https://iai.tv/articles/beyond-the-analyticcontinental-divide-auid-1843 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/21-07-21.Beyond-analytic-continental-philosophy.jpg" /><br />The analytic / continental divide was an invention of 20th century Anglo-American philosophy. And while analytic philosophy and the English language have become dominant in academia, continental philosophy is increasingly accepted within analytic circles. The hope is that a new configuration will eventually emerge, a universal philosophy beyond the strictures of any one tradition or language. The very question “what is philosophy?” is open to a variety of answers, beyond those any one model could give, writes Simon Glendinning.  In a lecture delivered at UNESCO in 1991, Jacques Derrida reflected on a situation in which “two competing models” had succeeded in becoming the “hegemonic references” for what we call philosophy right across “the entire world”. Derrida identified them as “the so-called continental tradition…and so-called analytic or Anglo-Saxon philosophy”. However, he was also sensitive to the fact that these two models were linked to “national and linguistic histories”, and ... Wed, 21 Jul 2021 15:52:48 +0100 Simon Glendinning https://iai.tv/articles/beyond-the-analyticcontinental-divide-auid-1843 The prejudices of philosophers https://iai.tv/articles/the-prejudices-of-philosophers-auid-1820 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/21-06-15.The-prejudices-of-philosophers.jpg"><br>We all think we believe what we believe for good reasons – especially philosophers. However, as figures such as Nietzsche, William James and Iris Murdoch have suggested, what we believe may be influenced far more by our psychology and life experiences, rather than by logic and reason, writes David Bryce Yaden and Derek Anderson.  How do philosophers come to endorse one view over another? One might imagine an impartial analysis of the merits of various arguments. Indeed, we don’t doubt that this accounts for the majority of the process. But what other influences­­––perhaps more psychological––should we consider? That is the question that we explored in our new paper, “The Psychology of Philosophy.” [1]One potential influence on a given philosopher’s views may be their personality or other psychological traits. Does a philosopher’s disposition relate to complicated philosophical views, such as whether free will exists, whether one endorses deontological or consequentialist ethical views,... Tue, 15 Jun 2021 11:45:16 +0100 David Bryce Yaden https://iai.tv/articles/the-prejudices-of-philosophers-auid-1820 This is the only possible world https://iai.tv/articles/this-is-the-only-possible-world-auid-1816 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/21-06-02.Divers-possible-worlds.jpg" /><br />In trying to make sense of the way we talk about possibility, David Lewis argued that everything that could possibly exist does exist, in some possible world. But our best scientific theories suggest that there are no real facts about what’s possible, and therefore possible worlds aren’t real, argues John Divers. David Lewis (in)famously argued that just about everything you can think of really exists. Just as zebras exist, so do unicorns. Just as brains exist so do the immaterial minds that Descartes thought were associated with them. And just as there exists a universe that conforms to special relativity, so there exists a universe that conforms to Newton’s laws. What is driving all this is a pair of thoughts: (a) there are real facts about what is possible and (b) these facts consist in the real existence of things in other possible worlds. My response is that (b) is moot because we have no reason to believe that (a) is true. We have no reason to believe that there are real facts a... Wed, 02 Jun 2021 15:46:54 +0100 John Divers https://iai.tv/articles/this-is-the-only-possible-world-auid-1816 Infinite possibilities, infinite worlds https://iai.tv/articles/infinite-possibilities-infinite-worlds-david-k-lewis-auid-1788 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/21-04-07.Possible-worlds.jpg" /><br />The idea of an infinite number of worlds - each containing all the possibilities presented in our own world - might initially seem bizarre. Certainly David K. Lewis had a hard time convincing his fellow philosophers of his theory. But its application to theories of possibility - and its undeniable similarity to how we already think about time - means that we must make sense of its extraordinary claims, writes Daniel Nolan. David Lewis (1941-2001) was an influential American philosopher of the second half of the twentieth century. His biggest impact in philosophy has been in the field of metaphysics.One of his views, above all else, struck many of his fellow philosophers as fantastic and hard to believe. Lewis held that, as well as our concrete universe, there also existed infinitely many variations, cut off from our &quot;world&quot; each in their own space and time. These &quot;possible worlds&quot; were not just variants with our fundamental laws of nature but different parameters, they included every w... Wed, 07 Apr 2021 15:45:13 +0100 Daniel Nolan https://iai.tv/articles/infinite-possibilities-infinite-worlds-david-k-lewis-auid-1788 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 +0100 Markus Gabriel https://iai.tv/articles/why-the-term-continental-philosophy-is-an-insult-auid-1151 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 +0100 Daniel Everett https://iai.tv/articles/meaning-minds-and-mother-tongues-auid-856 15 Ideas that Inspired the World’s Leading Thinkers https://iai.tv/articles/15-ideas-that-inspired-the-worlds-leading-thinkers-auid-1272 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/World-Philosophy-Day.jpg" /><br />For World Philosophy Day, we've asked leading thinkers around the world about the philosophical idea that has had the greatest impact on them, and set their responses alongside the big ideas posited by their recent forebears - renowned philosophers of the twentieth century. Discover the concepts behind the cutting edge of ideas, and trace their evolution through history. Judith Butler on HegelJudith Butler is an American social and political philosopher, and co-director of the International Consortium for Critical Theory Programs, whose first book Subjects of Desire investigated Hegelian reflections in twentieth-century France. Butler has made major contributions to political philosophy, ethics, and literary theory, and her theory of gender performativity is highly influential.It is probably odd to think that Hegel has something to tell us about our lives, but what if our most basic obligations toward one another and the planet could be illuminated by this early 1800s philosopher? In P... Thu, 21 Nov 2019 12:27:50 +0000 IAI Editorial https://iai.tv/articles/15-ideas-that-inspired-the-worlds-leading-thinkers-auid-1272 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 Issue 70: The Boring Issue https://iai.tv/articles/issue-70-the-boring-issue-auid-1184 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/feliphe-schiarolli-497640-unsplash.jpg" /><br />In this issue of IAI News, we ask: can boredom be interesting? The essayist Joseph Epstein has remarked, &quot;Boredom is after all part of consciousness, and about consciousness the neurologists still have much less to tell us than do the poets and the philosophers.&quot; Boredom, for philosophers, sociologists and psychologists, is fast becoming a major and legitimate issue to grapple with in providing an account of modern life. It is, as the late Bertrand Russell wrote, ''essentially a thwarted desire for events&quot; — or perhaps put in simpler terms, an inability to live the life that one desires. For those in states of extreme isolation, such as solitary confinement or imprisonment, there is a direct link between boredom and mental stagnation — when life stretches out behind, and ahead, with few opportunities to progress, gain experiences or make choices. As the Roman senator Boethius, sentenced to die, discovered during his imprisonment, philosophy can offer a form of consolation. Kirtstine Sz... Wed, 12 Dec 2018 17:53:40 +0000 Editor https://iai.tv/articles/issue-70-the-boring-issue-auid-1184 The Philosopher at Work: An Interview with Brennan Jacoby https://iai.tv/articles/the-philosopher-at-work-an-interview-with-brennan-jacoby-auid-1169 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/rsz-brennan-jacoby-b-w-min.jpg" /><br />Dr. Brennan Jacoby is a philosopher and the founder of Philosophy at Work, an organisation providing professional support to companies navigating complex issues and bringing about positive change.  He delivers group facilitation, learning and development training and public speaking.   In this interview, we discussed the role of the philosopher in the boardroom, how to make the right decisions, and why Silicon Valley has taken a sudden interest in the lessons of Plato.—David Maclean Where did you grow up, and what was your hometown like?I grew up in Detroit, MI until I was 8-years old, and then the family moved to Jackson, MI in the countryside. I grew up in a family of musicians and artists, but there was always a lot of reading and thinking going on in the home, and I think that likely sparked some of my later interest in philosophy. Were you interested in philosophy during high school, or did that come earlier? You mention that it was perhaps always there percolating in the backgrou... Thu, 15 Nov 2018 12:32:10 +0000 David Maclean https://iai.tv/articles/the-philosopher-at-work-an-interview-with-brennan-jacoby-auid-1169 What African Philosophy Can Teach You About the Good Life https://iai.tv/articles/what-african-philosophy-can-teach-you-about-the-good-life-auid-1147 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/africna-philosophy-good-life-omedi-ochieng.jpg" /><br />Africa’s diverse philosophical traditions unfold striking accounts of ‘the good life’.“Be not haughty with what you have learned and now know, hold forth with the unknowing as well as the sagacious,” reads the first thesis of Ptahhotep  –  an ancient Egyptian official who lived c. 2400 BCE, who distilled a vision of how one ought to live in thirty-seven theses. “None knows all. Excellent discourse is better than the most precious stones and is found in the most unlikely of places,” he went on.In West Africa, Orunmila – a sage born c. 500 BCE and considered to be the most important figure in the Ifa philosophical tradition – taught that Iwa (living a virtuous life) is the most important ideal worth living for.  “What matters most is good character,” rings one characteristic teaching of Orunmila. “You may be wealthy, have many children and build several houses; all come to naught if you lack good character. A life without moral rectitude is nothing but vanity.” In the same vein, the vast... Mon, 10 Sep 2018 09:44:58 +0100 Omedi Ochieng https://iai.tv/articles/what-african-philosophy-can-teach-you-about-the-good-life-auid-1147 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 +0100 Omedi Ochieng https://iai.tv/articles/african-philosophy-is-more-than-you-think-it-is-auid-1097 Are Celebrity Scientists Just Memes? https://iai.tv/articles/hawking-dawkins-einstein-are-celebrity-scientists-just-memes-auid-1052 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/einstein-dawkins.jpg" /><br />Stephen Hawking's recent death was on the front pages of newspapers and trended on social media. Cher and Katy Perry tweeted about it. It's not often that science or scientists get so popular. In this interview with Columbia University philosopher of science Philip Kitcher, author of multiple books including Science in a Democratic Age, we discuss how and when (some) scientists turned into celebrities, and what are the benefits and costs we derive from that, in a culture that celebrates memes and distrusts experts —Paula Erizanu  PE: Could you explain the appeal of Hawking, Dawkins and Einstein as celebrity scientists?PK: So Dawkins and Hawking are very different cases. There’s a really healthy side to the celebrity science movement and that is the tremendous increase in our acceptance that scientists, including eminent scientists, might write for a broader public. I think that’s something that’s happened over the past 40 years. Forty years ago scientists who wrote popular science book... Tue, 27 Mar 2018 16:26:09 +0100 Philip Kitcher https://iai.tv/articles/hawking-dawkins-einstein-are-celebrity-scientists-just-memes-auid-1052 What Should You Worry About and Hope For in 2018? https://iai.tv/articles/what-should-you-worry-about-and-hope-for-in-2018-auid-1022 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/planet-what-we-should-worry-about.jpg" /><br />As we're sobering up from the end-of-year celebrations, it's time to ask: what should we reflect on, and hope for, in 2018? Can we do anything about it? Philosophers Julian Baggini and Barry Smith, gender theorist Jack Halberstam, psychiatrist David Nutt, astrophysicist Liv Boeree, Times columnist Philip Collins and literary critic Stanley Fish speak about the biggest challenges we face in 2018 and how we could overcome them.   Jack Halberstam, Author of GaGa Feminism and Professor of English and Gender Studies at University of Columbia ___ &quot;I hope that we can change everything. And if we cannot, I hope everything can change us.&quot; ___ The short answer to the question “What should you worry about?” is: everything. The long answer is also everything. That’s the bad news. The good news?  Well, the good news is that under the intense pressure of a cascading series of crises - political, environmental, social and economic - we are being forced to think beyond the usual liberal language of ... Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:35:14 +0000 Editor https://iai.tv/articles/what-should-you-worry-about-and-hope-for-in-2018-auid-1022 Sober Reflections: A Philosopher's Advice On Going Dry https://iai.tv/articles/a-philosophers-counsel-on-dry-january-auid-1017 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/thomas-picauly-65648.jpg" /><br />Feasting and fasting are two sides of the same coin: altered attitudes to eating that reflect special moments in the year, changes of moods or attempted corrections. The heady spectacle of the Venice Carnivale celebrates a return to meat after religious abstinence and a need for excess, just as excessive fasting suggests a necessary correction to overindulgence. Each enjoyable in its own way because they mark a departure from the everyday and we know they will make us feel different. Endless feasting would soon pall into a dulling of the senses, and, like excessive fasting, would end up as a form of pathology.However, these states reflect different attitudes and have entirely different time courses.To feast is to look forward, to anticipate more and more pleasures, but while each item is enjoyed as much or more than the last there will come a time when eating anything else is unsustainable. It reminds me of Kingsley Amis’s apt remark that getting drunk was very pleasurable but that bei... Mon, 15 Jan 2018 12:34:45 +0000 Barry C. Smith https://iai.tv/articles/a-philosophers-counsel-on-dry-january-auid-1017 Issue 62: Try again, fail again, fail better https://iai.tv/articles/issue-62-try-again-fail-again-fail-better-auid-1013 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/boxing-jpeg.jpg" /><br />What does it mean to fail today? How can we overcome a fear of failure? Is there value to be found in defeat? “New year, new you”. A phrase synonymous with January and the tide of resolutions it announces. We make vows to exercise more, eat less, be more productive, be less stressed: become better people, essentially. Yet studies show 80% of these resolutions fail by February. While few of us are spared the spectre of failure in January or elsewhere in our lives, in a world of Instagram perfection, falling short seems out of fashion. Yet proverbial wisdom reminds us that “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, and some of the greatest philosophical minds agree. Confucius said ‘Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail’ while Beckett quipped: “Try again, fail again, fail better.” So is failure good for us? Is there value to be found in the midst of defeat, and if so, what is it? Should we always get back on that horse? Can we learn from our mistakes and b... Tue, 09 Jan 2018 11:17:36 +0000 Editor https://iai.tv/articles/issue-62-try-again-fail-again-fail-better-auid-1013 On Being A Stoic At Christmas https://iai.tv/articles/how-to-be-a-stoic-at-christmas-auid-1010 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/christmas-tree.jpg" /><br />The question is whether Stoics are all Scrooges. At least inwardly, since they have been represented as lacking a rich emotional life. (That is flatly false, by the way, but a topic for another time.)  Christmas is an extended festival of joyful hope, gift-giving, concern for each other's welfare, and special concern and care for children, the sick, the poor, the old, and those who are overburdened. It is organized around the retelling of an event of great emotional potency and complexity for believers – the birth of a child whose existence is directly intended by God, in circumstances which are impoverished and dangerous, and who is destined to be executed as a common criminal, only to be resurrected and become the Savior to all those – and only those – who believe in him. The festival is typically organized in a way that emphasizes the joy at the sight of a healthy mother and her newborn, dresses up the impoverished physical circumstances with shepherds and wise men arriving with gif... Fri, 22 Dec 2017 17:47:15 +0000 Lawrence C. Becker https://iai.tv/articles/how-to-be-a-stoic-at-christmas-auid-1010 How to Become A Philosophical Foodie https://iai.tv/articles/how-to-become-a-philosophical-foodie-auid-999 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/sartredebeauvoir.jpg" /><br />Very few things are so important to our lives as food, but most of us don’t think much about it. Sure, we think about what to eat every day and, even more so, what not to eat, but we don’t really think about food. Where does it come from? Who produced it? Who picked these tomatoes or apples? How far has it travelled? Even less do we reflect on other more remote issues, but central to food, such as, hunger, population growth, migration, sustainable agriculture, human rights, animal rights, waste, GMOs, etc. It seems clear that we cannot continue to be ignorant of these issues. I suggest we should make them part of our lives and our food choices.It is becoming clear that our food system involves massive problems that will take all our ingenuity and resolve to come to terms with, and which cannot be solved unless we change our own habits. Most researchers studying this agree that people in certain parts of the world (foremost North America and Europe) need to eat less and food production ... Mon, 11 Dec 2017 14:04:14 +0000 Henrik Lagerlund https://iai.tv/articles/how-to-become-a-philosophical-foodie-auid-999 10 Soviet Philosophers You Should Know https://iai.tv/articles/ten-soviet-philosophers-you-should-know-auid-915 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/CominternIV.jpg"><br>Given the radical ideological change that the November 1917 Russian Revolution brought, it's peculiar how little we speak about Soviet philosophers. One obvious explanation is that the government used philosophy to reinforce its ideology rather than allowing it to be a space for critical thinking and open debate. Fearful of giving philosophers too much autonomy, Soviet institutions not only exiled rebels but eventually marginalized even its main ideologues. Despite all these challenges, at least ten thinkers are worth our attention. There is one thing they all share - an interdisciplinary approach to their subjects. None of the thinkers below solely pursued philosophy – perhaps a happy by-product of the Soviet interference in academia.___ “We have been nodding for so long that today we should learn anew how to distinguish life from death, reality from dream […] Diminished, in the Soviet way and without any energy, we lost the ability to understand politics […] The unreality of things a... Thu, 02 Nov 2017 15:32:38 +0000 Paula Erizanu https://iai.tv/articles/ten-soviet-philosophers-you-should-know-auid-915 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 +0100 Rufus Duits https://iai.tv/articles/the-philosopher-and-the-ocean-auid-658 Why Facts Elude Us https://iai.tv/articles/why-facts-elude-us-auid-1285 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/The-Elusiveness-of-Facts.jpg" /><br />What is reality? How might we know it, when it is so strange and when our own experience is subjective and finite?These questions are central to the earliest known work of literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh (c.1800BC).  The eponymous hero goes on a quest for eternal life and absolute knowledge. Yet, Gilgamesh is denied this prize, and offered another: to accept mortality and wild uncertainty. As a result, The Epic of Gilgamesh is not merely the first example of a quest narrative but also the first example of a quest narrative in which the hero fails to gain the prize he wanted, but is given another completely different prize and advised to be grateful anyway.No one ever finds a single overarching answer; at least, it is unlikely that any answer - however beautiful and persuasive - will remain definitive for all eternity. How, practically, might we prove the eternal truth of anything we assert, except by becoming eternal and objective ourselves and hanging around forever? In Valis, Phili... Wed, 11 Dec 2019 18:43:17 +0000 Joanna Kavenna https://iai.tv/articles/why-facts-elude-us-auid-1285 The Fantasy of Reality https://iai.tv/articles/the-fantasy-of-reality-auid-1284 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/19-12-13.reflection2.ata.jpg" /><br />Most of us, most of the time, have the sense that we are connected to the real.  The immediate world around us, the objects and people, the buildings and the natural world seem unquestionably present.  Not only in the sense that we are experiencing them but in the sense that they exist independently of us out there in the real world.Some, we imagine slightly crazed, philosophers may have doubted the existence of those objects and the real world and proposed that it is all a dream and a product of our subjective imagination.  We feel we know better.   Aside from moments of mental instability or those who have taken rather too many psychoactive substances,  we have an abiding sense that the world we experience is for the most part only too real.___&quot;Philosophical Realism is a mistake that limits our ability to intervene successfully in the world and encourages division and conflict.&quot;___This notion of reality is so close to us and so central to our culture that it is hard for us to imagine... Wed, 11 Dec 2019 18:38:20 +0000 Hilary Lawson https://iai.tv/articles/the-fantasy-of-reality-auid-1284 The Big Myths In And On Science https://iai.tv/articles/the-big-myths-in-science-auid-1259 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/myths-in-science-massimo-pigliucci.jpg" /><br />If there are two concepts that ought to be antithetical those are science and myths. Science, after all, began with the Pre-Socratic philosophers, who made the very conscious move of rejecting the worldview of “the poets,” that is, people like Homer and Hesiod, in favour of looking at the cosmos as the result of natural phenomena that could, at least potentially, be understood by the human mind.Xenophanes (c. 570 – c. 475 BCE), for instance, was the first philosopher to explicitly attack the authority of the poets, as nicely recounted in Peter Adamson’s Classical Philosophy, volume 1 of his History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps. Far from being the movers and shakers of the universe, Xenophanes recognised that the gods were made in human image. The Trojans did not lose their war against the Greeks because the gods were divided by Paris’ justified but incautious choice of Aphrodite as the most beautiful of the goddesses (thus ticking off the other two competitors, Hera and Athena). They... Thu, 12 Sep 2019 13:39:23 +0100 Massimo Pigliucci https://iai.tv/articles/the-big-myths-in-science-auid-1259 Modelling Life in Art and Science https://iai.tv/articles/modelling-life-in-art-and-science-auid-1185 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/lucas-sankey-423257-unsplash.jpg" /><br />Suppose that you’re interested in how false beliefs – ‘fake news’ – spread across a population. The problem is extraordinarily complicated. What people come to believe depends on a myriad of factors: which news outlets they read; who their friends and colleagues are; their ability to distinguish between fact and fiction; their social media echo chamber; and so on. A very good way of investigating a complicated phenomenon is to model it. This involves the construction of a simplified version of it and the investigation of the behaviour of that simplified version in order to draw conclusions about the actual system of interest. Both of these steps require a curious and playful outlook. We can play around with different ways to model the spread of fake news. A creative suggestion is to model it as a disease. A simple way to do this is to take a toy model from epidemiology, e.g. the susceptible, infected, recovered (SIR) model, and to reinterpret it. We might divide the population into thr... Wed, 12 Dec 2018 17:55:55 +0000 James Nguyen https://iai.tv/articles/modelling-life-in-art-and-science-auid-1185 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 Beyond Reality https://iai.tv/articles/beyond-reality-auid-518 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/day-and-night.jpg" /><br />I opened the Beyond Reality debate with a quotation from Ambrose Bierce: “Reality is the dream of a mad philosopher.” Bierce’s words seemed apposite because to me the notion of a single overarching ‘reality’ which might apply equally and objectively to all humans, now and forever, is a wild fantasy. A standard dictionary definition of reality runs thus: “Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.” This sounds, at first, quite reassuring. Someone, somewhere, has carefully divided ‘things’ into two fixed categories: (a)   ‘Things’ which actually exist. These are objectively Real (b)   ‘Things’ which exist only as ideals or notions. These are not objectively Real. ‘Things’ can apparently only be one or the other – (a) or (b), real or unreal. Therefore, we might speak about someone refusing to face up to reality (meaning category a), or refusing to accept reality, and by this we would apparently suggest that there is somethi... Sun, 19 Apr 2015 10:06:06 +0100 Joanna Kavenna https://iai.tv/articles/beyond-reality-auid-518 The Plague, Camus, and hope https://iai.tv/articles/hope-hidden-by-plague-auid-1446 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-04-21.beale2.jpg" /><br />There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.Albert Camus eerily familiar tale of a town in plague lockdown can show us how to preserve hope amid the prolonged suffering of a pandemic. Albert Camus’ The Plague almost reads as a contemporary account. The denials and delays of public authorities in responding, the shortage of vital medical supplies, the overcrowding of hospitals—Camus saw it all with uncanny clarity. Moreover, he understood how pandemics can harm not just the body, but also the spirit.One of the worst things about the plague is that it seems never-ending. This may seem like an obvious statement, but the point is significant. A night watchman says he wishes the city had been hit with an earthquake instead of the plague. “A good bad shock, and there you are! You count the dead and living, and that’s an end of it,” the watchman says. Earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and other similar natural disasters—as horrific... Mon, 27 Apr 2020 12:34:27 +0100 Stephen Beale https://iai.tv/articles/hope-hidden-by-plague-auid-1446 Editorial: Reconstructing Reality https://iai.tv/articles/editorial-reconstructing-reality-auid-536 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/ArcRedo4site.jpg" /><br />Once it was simple. Fantasy was the imaginary, reality was the objective world. But in our topsy-turvy, postmodern space, the real has come to look like a mirage created from our fantasies. What is going on, and could our pictures of reality be radically incomplete?“Reality is the dream of a mad philosopher,” argues Joanna Kavenna in this issue of IAI News, quoting from nineteenth-century writer Ambrose Bierce. Can we ever persuade others of the reality of our subjective experience, she asks, or should we abandon all claims to objectivity? And when does it really matter?Objective reality is out there, believes quantum computation researcher Chiara Marletto; but we need to question our basic assumptions about the physical universe. Is information fundamental to reality? Did the universe emerge from a bundle of bits? In The Code of the Cosmos, she outlines the new “constructor theory” which seeks to explain life, the universe and everything in it.Economics, too, is in need of an urgent r... Sun, 05 Jul 2015 08:01:47 +0100 Editor https://iai.tv/articles/editorial-reconstructing-reality-auid-536 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 t... Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:33:45 +0100 John Searle https://iai.tv/articles/objectivity-and-truth-auid-548 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 +0100 Marion Rankine https://iai.tv/articles/the-philosophy-of-umbrellas-auid-912 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 ty... Sun, 22 Feb 2015 13:00:50 +0000 James R Williams https://iai.tv/articles/truth-and-reality-auid-499 Does the Enlightenment Need Defending? https://iai.tv/articles/does-the-enlightenment-need-defending-auid-1149 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/pinker-bhabha.jpg" /><br />Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker and postcolonial theorist Homi Bhabha, both professors at Harvard University, participated at our festival HowTheLightGetsIn London on 22-23 September at Kenwood House. While Pinker focuses on the merits of the Enlightenment, Bhabha outlines its complicated and dual reverberations. We asked the two luminaries to engage in a written dialogue about the good, the bad and the ugly of the Enlightenment in the twenty-first century, starting from an extract from Pinker's book Enlightenment Now.Steven Pinker: ''The Enlightenment principle that we can apply reason and sympathy to enhance human flourishing may seem obvious, trite, old-fashioned. I wrote this book because I have come to realise that it is not. More than ever, the ideals of reason, science, humanism, and progress need a wholehearted defense. We take its gifts for granted: newborns who will live more than eight decades, markets overflowing with food, clean water that appears at the flick of a fi... Thu, 13 Sep 2018 17:18:44 +0100 Steven Pinker https://iai.tv/articles/does-the-enlightenment-need-defending-auid-1149 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 m... Mon, 06 Nov 2017 18:04:53 +0000 Alessandro Ferrara https://iai.tv/articles/the-paradox-of-authenticity-auid-922 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 coge... Wed, 05 Aug 2015 12:42:26 +0100 Hilary Lawson https://iai.tv/articles/after-the-end-of-truth-part-2-auid-552 Should We Do Philosophy In Dialogue or Debate? https://iai.tv/articles/how-should-we-do-philosophy-through-dialogue-or-debate-auid-1138 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/neonbrand-428982-unsplash.jpg" /><br />Conferences on philosophy have much in common with academic conferences on anything else. But in one way they differ. Amongst philosophers, a lecture often matters less than what follows — ‘Q&amp;A’, the question-and-answer period. That is when the speaker’s arguments and conclusions are put to the test.Questioners propose counterexamples, allege fallacies, discern ambiguities. In response, the speaker fights for the life of their cherished ideas. Exchanges continue, back and forth, over several turns. The rest of the audience watches and listens keenly, as if following a chess match, trying to work out who’s winning. Sometimes a draw is offered with the words “It’s a stand-off” and tacitly accepted; sometimes the chair intervenes to cut short a stalemate. There is a code of signals to the chair: a raised hand means a new question, a raised finger a follow-up on the current point. A serious conference may schedule an hour for Q&amp;A after each talk.When it comes to the outcome, the chess anal... Fri, 24 Aug 2018 16:18:50 +0100 Timothy Williamson https://iai.tv/articles/how-should-we-do-philosophy-through-dialogue-or-debate-auid-1138 How To Escape The Dangers of Overthinking https://iai.tv/articles/how-to-escape-the-dangers-of-overthinking-auid-1068 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/dangers-of-overthinking.jpg" /><br />&quot;Thinking hurts&quot; — this is how the German philosopher Georg Simmel is said to have consoled his students. The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber (1878-1965) would give this ironic remark of his teacher an ethical twist by noting that &quot;thinking&quot; can also hurt others.For in our encounter with our fellow human beings we often tend to allow established categories of thought to determine how we relate and perceive them. In doing so, Buber held, they in effect become objects of thought, an &quot;It&quot;, rather than indivuals whose existential reality is impervious to the markers that thought constructs.To be sure, these markers — concepts and categories — may be intrinsically benign and essential to navigating the multiple by-ways of life. We need them to recognise others and position them in the sociological landscape of everyday life: the other may be a physician, an electrician, a priest, a rabbi; elderly, young, tall, slim. But these markers, as indispensable as they may be, cannot comprehend that ... Mon, 16 Apr 2018 17:29:54 +0100 Paul Mendes-Flohr https://iai.tv/articles/how-to-escape-the-dangers-of-overthinking-auid-1068 The Importance of 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 The Storm and the Butterfly https://iai.tv/articles/the-storm-and-the-butterfly-auid-662 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Rupert-Read-49.jpg" /><br />In the 19th and 20th centuries, standard economic models assumed that people would act in a rational and predictable manner. These models are flawed, of course, for if modern psychology has taught us anything it is that we are massively complex beings who are ultimately in important respects not predictable, often not rational, and certainly often rational in ways that are judged irrational by ‘experts’. We are moreover (and this is less widely understood) not predictable not only in practice but also in principle: i.e. this is not a limitation that can be overcome. For if the human future could be predicted, it would then be deliberately altered. Therefore it cannot be predicted. Human creativity and novelty and our ability to respond to predictions means that our actions cannot possibly by reliably modelled, even in principle.The same can be said to some extent of natural systems too. Many still consider these to be deterministic systems governed by the strict laws of nature. And ind... Sun, 10 Apr 2016 09:45:35 +0100 Rupert Read https://iai.tv/articles/the-storm-and-the-butterfly-auid-662 Metaphysics matters https://iai.tv/articles/metaphysics-matters-auid-1750 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Metaphysics-matters-with-text.jpg" /><br />Critics of contemporary metaphysics might have moved on from logical empiricism but the accusation that metaphysics is a waste of time has not gone away. Those like Craig Callender argue that this branch of philosophy asks irrelevant questions and answers them with unreliable intuitions. But this ignores the role of arguments in metaphysics as well as the crucial, real-world applications of its seemingly strange subject matter, writes Alexander Kaiserman. It’s not easy to say what metaphysics is, much less what it ought to be. Most branches of philosophy are named after their subject matter – philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and so on. The word ‘metaphysics’, by contrast, is derived from the collective title given to fourteen books by Aristotle 100 years after his death, probably as a warning from the editor that they should be tackled only after having mastered the books contained in what we now call Aristotle’s Physics. Indeed it’s not clear that metaphysics even has a sub... Fri, 05 Feb 2021 13:02:21 +0000 Alexander Kaiserman https://iai.tv/articles/metaphysics-matters-auid-1750 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 +0100 Douglas Kellner https://iai.tv/articles/were-all-schizophrenic-and-ecstatic-in-the-age-of-trump-auid-1102 The Science of Simplicity https://iai.tv/articles/the-science-of-simplicity-auid-493 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Steve-Fuller-2.jpg" /><br />When scientists, usually physicists, wax lyrical about the importance of elegance and simplicity to their enterprise, non-scientists are bound to conclude that their sense of “elegance” or “simplicity” is rather peculiar. After all, science, in both conduct and content, is difficult and complicated – and increasingly contested. But maybe this only shows how little the lay person knows about science. It is still by no means obvious that the different sciences share any common standards of elegance and simplicity.Indeed, the received wisdom amongst philosophers of science these days is that there is no overarching sense of elegance and simplicity to be had. The very idea is likely to be dismissed as the result of an unholy conspiracy between Platonists and positivists who would have us believe that certain perspicuous patterns in nature are self-validating. It would be as if science were a sophisticated version of finding faces in clouds or inferring aliens from crop circles.According to... Sun, 08 Feb 2015 10:45:55 +0000 Steve Fuller https://iai.tv/articles/the-science-of-simplicity-auid-493 Phenomenal evidence https://iai.tv/articles/phenomenal-evidence-auid-1638 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-09-18.berghofer.ata.jpg" /><br />What do we mean when we talk of evidence and knowledge? Do we necessarily mean something outside ourselves? Or could we ground the concepts in our own experiences? Philipp Berghofer explains what a phenomenological account of evidence will look like. Certainly, there is a lot we know about ourselves, the world we live in, and abstract objects. I know I like Star Wars, that there are several books in front of me on my desk, and that 2 + 3 = 5., It’s also uncontroversial that human knowledge is fallible. I can fall prey to optical illusions, I regularly miscalculate, and sometimes, sadly, I even err about my own beliefs and desires. What’s more, people can be systematically manipulated into adopting false beliefs and abandoning truth and reason. Philosophers like thought experiments, like contemplating the idea of an evil demon who systematically deceives some poor soul. Even scarier, perhaps, is the idea of an old friend or kind relative getting lost in conspiracy theories, becoming ins... Fri, 18 Sep 2020 15:32:02 +0100 Philipp Berghofer https://iai.tv/articles/phenomenal-evidence-auid-1638 Why do we lie? https://iai.tv/articles/why-do-we-lie-auid-1641 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-09-23.cohen.ata.jpg" /><br />Lying shields us from our vulnerability to our own unconscious desires, but also corrodes a shared reality. The liar wields the power to create their own reality free of uncertainty, writes Josh Cohen. Why do we lie? In one key respect, the psychoanalytic response to this venerable (and currently very urgent) question is broadly in line with other psychologies: we lie to evade the many and various unpleasant consequences of telling the truth. Lying to others can preserve us from the embarrassment of having values, tastes or desires that offend societal norms; lying to ourselves helps protect our favourable self-image. Beyond these defensive functions, lying can confer advantages over public and personal rivals and adversaries, in sex or business, art or politics.But by placing conflict at the centre of our inner lives, psychoanalysis also enriches and complicates our understanding of lying. Freud proposed that our minds are a permanent battleground between the id, a reservoir of unboun... Wed, 23 Sep 2020 11:43:33 +0100 Josh Cohen https://iai.tv/articles/why-do-we-lie-auid-1641 The philosophy of warnings https://iai.tv/articles/the-philosophy-of-warnings-auid-1646 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-10-07.santiago.ata.jpg" /><br /> Amid a flurry of crises and existential threats, our ability to interpret the world around us and heed warnings about the future has never been more vital, writes Santiago Zabala. This month an undergraduate student told me his parents were using the pandemic to persuade him to avoid philosophy as it could not prevent or solve real emergencies. I told him to let them know that we find ourselves in this global emergency because we haven’t thought philosophically enough.The increasingly narrow focus of experts this century has prevented us from addressing problems from a global perspective, which has always been the distinctive approach of philosophy. This is evident in the little consideration we give to warnings. Too often these are discarded as useless or insignificant—much like philosophy—when in fact they are vital. Though philosophers can’t solve an ongoing emergency—philosophy was never meant to solve anything—we can interpret their signs through a “philosophy of warnings.” Altho... Wed, 07 Oct 2020 18:12:21 +0100 Santiago Zabala https://iai.tv/articles/the-philosophy-of-warnings-auid-1646 An unnatural divide https://iai.tv/articles/an-unnatural-divide-auid-1661 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-10-19.harman.ata.jpg" /><br />Philosophers have divided the natural and the artificial since ancient Greece. But do we know what we mean by that distinction, and where do humans and their actions fit? Graham Harman sets about flattening this divide. The drawing of a sharp distinction between the natural and the artificial goes all the way back to Ancient Greek philosophy. In Aristotle’s Physics there is a famous distinction between natural and violent motion: celestial bodies naturally move in a circle around the earth, terrestrial bodies move downward towards the center of the earth, and violent motion is whatever departs from these expected processes due to the intervention of an outside cause.And so things remained until modern natural scientists reduced the difference between celestial and terrestrial motion to a universal physics, one that also erased the distinction between natural and violent motion, given that all forces are now said to be of the same kind. Hence, the difference between natural and artifici... Mon, 19 Oct 2020 16:20:17 +0100 Graham Harman https://iai.tv/articles/an-unnatural-divide-auid-1661 The potential of postmodernism https://iai.tv/articles/the-potential-of-postmodernism-auid-1650 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/postemodernpotential2.jpg" /><br />Is postmodernism doomed to impotent interpretations of the world around us, never able to change things for the better? Or does the deconstruction of binaries and challenging of grand narratives offer us a fruitful way to think about the age we live in, and where it might take us? Simon Glendinning responds to Mike Cole's article. Mike Cole begins and ends his essay on the ongoing significance of Marxism with the evocation of Marx’s own pronouncement on what is needed in our time: not merely an effort to interpret the world, something Marx regarded as the results of philosophy hitherto, but to change it. Postmodernism is regarded by Cole as the contemporary epitome of that old pre-Marxist philosophical failing: not only does it only interpret the world, it is limited to such an ambition “by definition”.Cole does not elaborate on this claim by providing a definition of postmodernism, but he presents an example in that name in relation to an author who wrote a book about it. Cole refers ... Tue, 13 Oct 2020 14:56:04 +0100 Simon Glendinning https://iai.tv/articles/the-potential-of-postmodernism-auid-1650 On the cusp of the unnatural https://iai.tv/articles/on-the-cusp-of-the-unnatural-auid-1685 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-11-11.lawson.ata.jpg" /><br />The distinction between the natural and unnatural is beset with paradox.  We are neither natural nor unnatural. Instead we should overcome the opposition and find a new place to be, writes Hilary Lawson Problematic and depraved, dark and threatening, these are the characteristics traditionally associated with the unnatural. Morally offensive, even devilish, undermining what it is to be properly human. The natural in contrast has typically had the moral high ground. To behave naturally has been to act in accordance with our true instinct, to be at one with our nature.Yet this distinction, between the natural and unnatural, so prevalent in our vocabulary, is beset by paradox. To be at one with our nature is also to be at one with our animal spirit, one might even say the bestial. And is it not there that many have claimed to find not the natural but the profoundly unnatural?Moreover, the contemporary zeitgeist is sceptical of the moral assumptions to be found in the opposition of natural... Fri, 06 Nov 2020 10:43:48 +0000 Hilary Lawson https://iai.tv/articles/on-the-cusp-of-the-unnatural-auid-1685 Evolution or revolution https://iai.tv/articles/evolution-or-revolution-auid-1714 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-12-11.goff.ata.jpg" /><br />Is the hard problem of consciousness as hard as it seems? Can we rely on science to solve it, or must we look elsewhere for satisfactory answers? Philip Goff repsonds to Peter Vickers' recent IAI News piece. Read Bernardo Kastrup's response here. It’s broadly agreed that consciousness poses a profound challenge to contemporary science: a ‘hard problem’ as David Chalmers famously put it. Some theorists, including myself, think we need to radically rethink our scientific picture of the universe in order to solve it. Others think we should plug away with our standard methods of investigating the brain and gradually chip away at the problem until one day we wake up to find the problem’s no longer there.Peter Vickers, in an interesting recent piece for IAI, takes a nuanced middle way. We should recognize that the hard problem is a philosophical problem and that as such it should be sharply distinguished from problems that can be tackled with scientific methods. In terms of the latter, we ca... Fri, 11 Dec 2020 16:31:01 +0000 Philip Goff https://iai.tv/articles/evolution-or-revolution-auid-1714 New truths https://iai.tv/articles/new-truths-auid-1723 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/AdobeStock-194267874.jpg" /><br />With articles and books hailing a post-truth future multiplying across the English-speaking world, many attribute this change to ‘postmodernism’ or, even more loosely, to ‘French theory’. Not only is this historically inaccurate it completely misunderstands the project of the philosophers of 1960s Paris writes Tom Eyers. Michiko Kakutani has a fearsome reputation as a reviewer of fiction at the New York Times. She recently published a book, ‘The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump’, that rehearses the no-doubt controversial case that truth is something to be valued. In the course of defending her position, Kakutani indicts what she calls ‘postmodernism’. It has devalued science, she says; it has reduced everything to narrative; and, ultimately, it has helped lead us to Trump. It is only the latest of a slew of books to suggest that our contemporary ills can be traced to the writings of a few philosophers and cultural critics, almost all of them working in Paris in th... Tue, 05 Jan 2021 16:17:20 +0000 Tom Eyers https://iai.tv/articles/new-truths-auid-1723 Rupturing the present https://iai.tv/articles/rupturing-the-present-auid-1724 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/rsz-adobestock-263459778-34.png" /><br />If the future is a time that disappears as we approach it, how can we distinguish the future from the present? Only when we see a radical change both in the structures of society and consciousness can we say the future has begun. That change is born of the political tensions already embedded in our societies, argues Gerard Delanty.  The modern concept of the future is an ‘open future’ - a horizon of possibilities that disappear as we approach them. But, with this conception, how can we decide when the future begins? Has it already started? Or is there no future at all?We live in the era of the Anthropocene - the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment, generally thought to have begun after the great caesura of 1945. As we look into that horizon of possibilities, beyond the next thirty years, can we know when the next era will begin? Can we think beyond catastrophism?If the future is not the present, it must be created when radic... Wed, 06 Jan 2021 13:25:28 +0000 Gerard Delanty https://iai.tv/articles/rupturing-the-present-auid-1724 The death of realism https://iai.tv/articles/the-death-of-realism-auid-1746 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/realism-part-1.jpg" /><br />The various schools of contemporary philosophy have a fundamental similarity: realism. It is also their fatal flaw. Despite the defences of philosophers such as Timothy Williamson, the problem of self reference is inescapable when making statements about ‘the world.’ For this reason, realism has no future in philosophy argues Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel. What exactly is philosophy in 2021 and what is its future? In trying to answer this question one loses oneself in the diversity of positions that each school claims are the most promising. Among all the philosophical currents in force today, should we privilege the most recent? For example, analytic metaphysics (Lowe, Tiercelin, etc.) which under the name of &quot;ontological turn&quot; has sought in recent years to perpetuate the supposedly analytic way of philosophizing, or speculative realism (Meillassoux, Brassier, etc.) which passes for being the continental version of the ontological renewal, and has itself produced different movements or subse... Wed, 27 Jan 2021 16:34:40 +0000 Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel https://iai.tv/articles/the-death-of-realism-auid-1746 In defence of realism https://iai.tv/articles/in-defence-of-realism-auid-1747 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/realism-part-2.jpg" /><br />Many philosophers, such as Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel, claim to have refuted realism. None has succeeded. We must recognise the distinction between truth and knowledge and the distinction between truth and falsity. Philosophical ideas have a way of leaking into the rest of society; we cannot speak truth to power if we have given up on truth argues Timothy Williamson.  The word ‘realism’ is used in very different ways. I will explain one philosophical view which can reasonably be called ‘realist’. It is not exactly the same as the view Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel calls ‘realism’ in her article ‘Is realism the future of philosophy?’, but I think my realism captures the insights in the realism she criticizes. Although many philosophers claim to have refuted this kind of realism, none of them has succeeded. Realism is a sober philosophy; rejecting it brings both the pleasures and the dangers of drunkenness.Reality comprises everything. Most of reality is independent of us—of you, me, and other thin... Fri, 29 Jan 2021 10:52:19 +0000 Timothy Williamson https://iai.tv/articles/in-defence-of-realism-auid-1747 Metaphysics in free fall https://iai.tv/articles/metaphysics-in-free-fall-auid-1749 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Metaphysics-in-free-fall-with-text2.jpg" /><br />Contemporary metaphysicians ask deep questions about the structure of reality but answer them with unreliable, untested intuitions. Although philosophers like Alexander Kaiserman argue that logical argument can tell us which intuitions are valid, to be useful to anyone, metaphysics must apply comprehensive models of the world and start asking questions that really matter writes Craig Callender.  To understand my concerns about the direction of analytic metaphysics, let’s begin with a little game. I’ll describe a simple scenario. You guess what will happen.   Image Attribution: Lily Callender 1. You’re in a car stopped at a red light. You hold a helium balloon. The light turns green and the car starts to accelerate forward. Release the balloon. In what direction does it go, if any? 2. Pierce a small hole in both the cap and bottom of an ordinary plastic water bottle filled with water. Drop the bottle. Water ceases to flow out while it falls. Refill and throw the bottle up in the air. Wh... Wed, 03 Feb 2021 16:53:12 +0000 Craig Callender https://iai.tv/articles/metaphysics-in-free-fall-auid-1749 Post-realism https://iai.tv/articles/post-realism-auid-1755 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/realism-part-3.jpg" /><br />While philosophers such as Timothy Williamson reassert realism as the solution to our post-truth age, the key problem of self-reference, the open-ended nature of reality and realism’s blunt approach to disagreement mean that it cannot be the future of philosophy. Post-realism, without abandoning empiricism and rationalism, makes sense of our relationship to an unknown world and provides a way forward to a more inclusive and effective means to intervene, writes Hilary Lawson. Timothy Williamson's defence of realism is to be commended for its rhetorical punch, but the flaws in the realism project are deeper than he supposes.At the conclusion of his article Timothy Williamson makes the political argument that realism is needed to stand up to the falsehoods and the tyrannies of power.  Citing recent events in the US Presidential election, he makes the case that anti-realist philosophers are at least in part responsible for this toxic outcome.  As if the trusty sword of truth is the way to ... Tue, 16 Feb 2021 15:34:58 +0000 Hilary Lawson https://iai.tv/articles/post-realism-auid-1755 Politics, truth and self-reference https://iai.tv/articles/politics-truth-and-self-reference-auid-1758 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/realism-part-4.jpg" /><br />In his recent article, Hilary Lawson argued that realism fell into paradox and that post-realism could retain both empiricism and rationalism, making it the future of philosophy. But not only are those paradoxes surmountable, logic itself demands realism - an inconvenient fact which makes Lawson’s post-truth project impossible - argues Timothy Williamson.  Hilary Lawson’s article ‘Post-realism’ could equally well have been entitled ‘Post-truth’, since it is truth that he is declaring obsolete. Since he is responding to my piece In defence of realism, I will explain where his objections go wrong. Post-realism Read more Lawson points out that appeals to truth will not defeat dictators and demagogues, whose supporters are convinced that they already have the truth. But the question is not whether the distinction between truth and falsity is sufficient for blocking tyranny—of course it isn’t—but whether it is necessary for doing so. A resistance whi... Tue, 23 Feb 2021 15:24:39 +0000 Timothy Williamson https://iai.tv/articles/politics-truth-and-self-reference-auid-1758 In defence of post-realism https://iai.tv/articles/in-defence-of-postrealism-auid-1764 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/realism-part-5.jpg" /><br />Realists might claim that paradoxes of self-reference can be theorized away but the question remains: how can language describe its own relationship to the world? Rather than being true or false, language is a tool to be judged by its usefulness. From holocaust denial to Trump’s election win, the way to counter problematic opinions is not a decree of falsity but by a demonstration of their worthlessness when engaging with the world, writes Hilary Lawson. In response to criticisms that I made of realism in my previous article, Timothy Williamson has two primary lines of response. The first is that while the paradoxes of self-reference might not have been solved we have possible strategies. And the second is a counter-challenge to postrealism that if there is no truth there is also no falsity, and that cannot be a viable position. Yet, neither of these addresses the failures of realism, and they misunderstand the force and potential of postrealism.Let me begin with self-reference. Moving... Fri, 05 Mar 2021 12:49:37 +0000 Hilary Lawson https://iai.tv/articles/in-defence-of-postrealism-auid-1764 Plato's virtual reality https://iai.tv/articles/platos-virtual-reality-auid-1632 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-09-9.plato2.jpg" /><br />Plato distrusted art as a dangerous deception. But his fear of images came from his appreciation of their the power. As every embodied being, Plato lived in an inescapable world of images and he used them powerfully to communicate his ideas, writes Radcliffe Edmonds.Images are powerful; they strike our senses – whether through vision, hearing or touch – and they impress themselves on our minds. Plato is notorious for his distrust of images and the people who make them; his Republic is filled with discussions about banning the poets from the city and restricting what, when and how images can be circulated. But Plato’s suspicions stem from his appreciation of the power of images and his fears about how that power can be misused.That same appreciation shows itself in Plato’s own use of images, not just his elaborate myths filled with vivid imagery of the torments of the afterlife or the shape of the heavens, but even in his chosen form of writing. The dialogue, the genre which Plato chose... Tue, 08 Sep 2020 16:21:06 +0100 Radcliffe Edmonds https://iai.tv/articles/platos-virtual-reality-auid-1632 Mapping the illusion of reality https://iai.tv/articles/mapping-the-illusion-of-reality-auid-1617 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/AdobeStock-243858276-Converted.jpg" /><br />In his new book, When Maps Become the World, University of California, Santa Cruz philosopher and humanist Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther shows how the scientific theories, models and concepts we use to intervene in the world function as maps. We increasingly understand the world around us in terms of models, to the extent that we often take the models for reality. Winther explains how our representations in science become dominant social narratives—they become reality, and they can remake the world.This extract is taken from Chapter 9: Map Thinking Science and PhilosophyHow do we understand the reality of the objects and processes postulated by science? Did Galen’s four humors exist in some sense, despite the fact they were disproven? Were atoms or electrons or genes ever not real? Do social classes or the unconscious exist, and in what sense? What role do researchers or the lay public or university science students play, if any, in establishing and stabilizing the existence and reality of ... Mon, 17 Aug 2020 17:50:10 +0100 Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther https://iai.tv/articles/mapping-the-illusion-of-reality-auid-1617 Labyrinths of reality https://iai.tv/articles/labyrinths-of-reality-auid-1606 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Labyirinths-of-reality.jpg" /><br />What is reality? And who are we, the people populating it? Both fiction and philosophy are engaged in unraveling this questions, and their answers uncover the absurd nature of our existence, writes Joanna Kavenna. Albert Camus wrote: 'A novel is never anything but a philosophy expressed in images. And in a good novel the philosophy has disappeared into the images.’ As soon as you create a character you ask philosophical questions about the nature of the self; as soon as you create a world you ask philosophical questions about the nature of reality. Leading philosophers at HowTheLightGetsIn Global Read more In an absurdist novel, as in an absurdist philosophical argument, the universe is fundamentally meaningless and any attempt to find a sane and coherent interpretation of events is doomed by the insane and incoherent nature of reality.In a sense, all fiction is quite absurd, because it is concerned with the inner lives of unreal people. Then ag... Fri, 31 Jul 2020 15:29:53 +0100 Joanna Kavenna https://iai.tv/articles/labyrinths-of-reality-auid-1606 Beauty is Truth? https://iai.tv/articles/beauty-is-truth-auid-484 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Jon-Butterworth.jpg" /><br />E=mc2. Einstein’s great equation represents a pinnacle of mathematical purity. But as the evidence piles up which general relativity struggles to account for, is the very elegance of Einstein's theories preventing scientists from updating them? Is there always beauty in truth, or are aesthetics a distraction from the fundamental mission of science? Jon Butterworth is a physics professor at University College London. He is a member of the UCL High Energy Physics group and works on the Atlas experiment at Cern's Large Hadron Collider. His book, Smashing Physics: The Inside Story of the Hunt for the Higgs was published in May 2014. Here, he speaks to the IAI about quantum physics, the Standard Model, and the relationship between beauty and scientific truth. You have said in the past that beauty is found in simplicity, but isn’t it actually the complex nature of the world that inspires awe? Obviously it’s a subjective point of view but, for me, what inspires awe is the fact that such comp... Sat, 17 Jan 2015 08:26:15 +0000 Jon Butterworth https://iai.tv/articles/beauty-is-truth-auid-484 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 +0100 Simon Glendinning https://iai.tv/articles/europes-philosophical-rivalry-auid-353 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 san... Mon, 24 Feb 2014 22:54:57 +0000 Hilary Lawson https://iai.tv/articles/it-s-a-postrealist-world-auid-326 Thinking the Grey Areas https://iai.tv/articles/thinking-the-grey-areas-auid-320 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Luciano-Floridi1-Oppositesattractbystellamarina.jpg" /><br />Award-winning philosopher of the information age, Luciano Floridi, is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford. In this interview, Floridi comments on the peculiar human obsession with oppositions.Some philosophy has questioned the reality of all direct oppositions. How far would you agree that all oppositions are constructed?Oppositions are not constructed – as if it were up to us to decide about them entirely – but they are not discovered either – as if we only needed to acknowledge them by registering their presence in the world from some God’s eye perspective. They are designed, and this means that they are a mixture of objective data and subjective manipulation. We can see the world in black or white, appreciate it as big or small, evaluate it in terms of right or wrong, or think that it must be discrete or continuous. But the truth is that any opposition is the outcome of a specific abstraction – that is, a specific way of processing the const... Sun, 09 Feb 2014 13:07:52 +0000 Luciano Floridi https://iai.tv/articles/thinking-the-grey-areas-auid-320 What is Out There? https://iai.tv/articles/what-is-out-there-auid-282 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/nuts-and-bolts.jpg" /><br />What is “out there”? Good reasons prompt the question. Out of my window, there is a world of people walking and cycling; there is Bristo Square with its concert hall, trees, and blades of grass; and the sky and clouds moving fast over Scottish land. Ask the same question to a cosmologist and she will reply that “out there”, there is a world consisting of 4% atoms, 21% dark matter, and 75% dark energy, with atoms consisting of protons, neutrons and electrons, and protons and neutrons consisting, in turn, of up and down quarks. Ask my three-year old son, and he will reply that “out there” is a world of marigolds, and limpets, dogs and dinosaurs. Ask the Azande, and they will reply that “out there” is a world of harvest and famines, witches and spring festivals. What is then “out there”? Prompted by these considerations, conceptual relativists, such as Hilary Putnam, Nelson Goodman, and Peter J. McCormick, happily forsake the idea of a ready-made world. We make and re-make the world by ca... Thu, 05 Dec 2013 13:42:49 +0000 Michela Massimi https://iai.tv/articles/what-is-out-there-auid-282 The strange allure of borders https://iai.tv/articles/the-strange-allure-of-borders-auid-1554 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-05-28.thomas.ata.jpg" /><br />Borders are strange and unique entities, mind-dependent but realised in mind-independent geography. It is this oddness that gives them their allure, drawing us to them. Hadrian’s Wall. The Berlin Wall. The Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between South Korea and North Korea. The ‘Golden Triangle‘ between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. The ‘Four Corners’ between Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. All these borders are tourist attractions, drawing large numbers of visitors every year. Some of them, such as the Berlin Wall, are not even borders today - they mark historical borders. Why do tourists visit them? Why is ‘border tourism’ so popular? Part of the fascination we have for borders lies in what they are: peculiar, mind-dependent things.Geographical borders exist, but not in an ordinary way. The OED defines such borders as a ‘boundary line which separates one country from another’ . Borders clearly exist: it is a geo-political fact that France borders Germany, that South Korea touches the ... Thu, 28 May 2020 13:14:33 +0100 Emily Thomas https://iai.tv/articles/the-strange-allure-of-borders-auid-1554 Why are we conscious? https://iai.tv/articles/why-are-we-conscious-auid-1556 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-06-02Brogaard.ata.jpg" /><br />Our efforts to solve the hard problem of consciousness will require significant scientific progress and a paradigm shift in what we consider an acceptable answer to this philosophical puzzle. In his book The Conscious Mind, consciousness researcher David Chalmers  distinguishes between what he calls the “easy problems” of consciousness and the “hard problems.”The easy problems are those that can be satisfactorily solved by providing a mechanistic explanation based on the methods of scientific disciplines such as computer science, neuroscience, biology, and cognitive psychology. The easy problems include those of offering explanations of our ability to discriminate, categorize, attend to, and report on environmental stimuli; how information is integrated from different sensory modalities; and how internal body maps are used to guide our movements when we perform actions. Even if a complete explanation of these problems is not currently available, there is little doubt that one can be pr... Tue, 02 Jun 2020 12:18:03 +0100 Berit Brogaard https://iai.tv/articles/why-are-we-conscious-auid-1556 The phenomenology of solitude https://iai.tv/articles/the-phenomenology-of-solitude-auid-1568 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-06-26.moran.ata.jpg" /><br />Throughout the history of philosophy there has been a tension between the valuable introspection afforded by solitude and the intrinsic need to understand ourselves in relation to others. In the phenomenological tradition of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger we find a vivid picture of man as a being meditatively alone but fundamentally social. It is often thought that philosophers favor living alone, in isolation, devoting themselves to quiet contemplation. There is the standard image of the guru or sadhu living in a cave. And this really happens. A young British woman, Tenzin Palmo (formerly Diana Perry), converted to Buddhism in her teenage years, travelled to India to study at the age of 20, and then lived for some 12 years on her own in a tiny cave in the high Himalayas in Northern India. She lived alone in great hardship, but claimed she was never lonely – “not for one minute” (MacKenzie 1999, 87). Living alone in such isolation is an almost impossible ideal; and, indeed, she de... Thu, 25 Jun 2020 10:26:59 +0100 Dermot Moran https://iai.tv/articles/the-phenomenology-of-solitude-auid-1568 Dislocating the self https://iai.tv/articles/dislocating-the-self-auid-1570 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-06-26.gallagher.ata.jpg" /><br />David Hume famously argued that when he went looking for the self by introspecting his own first-person experience he was unable to find it. More recently Kai Vogeley and I argued that neuroscientists have a similar problem.When they go looking for the self, using advanced imaging technology, they find the self both everywhere and nowhere in the brain. That is, so many areas of the brain activate under different conditions involving self-reference or self-related tasks that no one area can be defined as self specific.Some theorists point to the default network which activates as a resting state when we are not focused on some task in the world, but rather may be self-ruminating. In fact, however, numerous experiments have shown that the default network, overlapping with cortical midline structures, which already covers a quite large set of brain regions, activates for self-other differentiation, which means it involves others and not just self. These areas are involved in social cognit... Fri, 26 Jun 2020 09:00:41 +0100 Shaun Gallagher https://iai.tv/articles/dislocating-the-self-auid-1570 An irrational world https://iai.tv/articles/an-irrational-world-camus-auid-1578 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-07-15.irrational.jpg" /><br />Albert Camus faced the absurdity of an irrational world by forging his own meaning in his personal passions. If we're to survive the absence of universal meaning, we must do the same. The universe doesn’t give a shit about you. It lives by a basic, merciless rule: things must change. And there’s nothing you can do about it.The atoms that make up your body and consciousness won’t stick around for long. They want to leave and join something else—a blade of grass, a plastic coke bottle, an aardvark. It doesn’t matter. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Atoms just want to flit around, and the fact that you need them to stay alive is inconsequential. You can fall on your knees, clasp your hands together and beg for salvation, but it won’t make any difference. The universe doesn’t care—things must change.When Albert Camus suggested that suicide was the only serious philosophical question, he was asking the same thing. Is it worth struggling through a life that ends in annihilation?I first lea... Thu, 02 Jul 2020 14:19:12 +0100 Rob Marchant https://iai.tv/articles/an-irrational-world-camus-auid-1578 Performativity and Black Lives Matter https://iai.tv/articles/speaking-the-change-we-seek-judith-butler-performative-self-auid-1580 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-07-20.butler2.jpg" /><br />In declaring 'Black Lives Matter' the speaking selves, not just the speech acts, are performative. In these acts, individuals seek to transform the value of their own lives, explains Judith Butler. I am not sure that I would defend the thesis that the self is performative, although that position is sometimes ascribed to me.  The reason for my hesitation is that the meaning of performative is highly contested, so I would want to wait and see which meaning of that term is in play when someone makes that claim.  Further, I am fairly certain that whatever the self is, it is not exclusively performative.  So though there may be performative dimensions of selfhood, it would be too general to claim simply that the self is performative and that is the end of the story.I notice that very often “performative” is used with the adjective “merely” so that when we hear that someone has taken a stand and that it is merely performative, we are meant to understand that this is a gesture of some kind, b... Fri, 03 Jul 2020 11:02:57 +0100 Judith Butler https://iai.tv/articles/speaking-the-change-we-seek-judith-butler-performative-self-auid-1580 A conscious universe https://iai.tv/articles/conscious-universe-panpsychism-idealism-goff-kastrup-auid-1584 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-07-09.goff.ata.jpg" /><br />At HowTheLightGetsIn Online 2020 Philip Goff, Bernardo Kastrup and Sophie Grace Chappell debated the fundamental nature of reality. Here, Philip defends panpsychism against the criticisms outlined by Bernardo in that discussion, and presents his own arguments against analytic idealism. Read Bernardo's response here.For me, the highlight of the recent HLTGI festival was a two-hour discussion I had with Bernardo Kastrup, Sophie-Grace Chappell, and a number of festivalgoers on the Sunday evening. Bernardo defends a form of idealism: roughly the view that the physical world is grounded in a more fundamental, mind-involving reality. I have been meaning for a while to take a deep dive into his papers and really work out what I think of the view, and this event gave me a good excuse.Although I ultimately don’t quite buy Bernardo’s idealist view, I still think it’s a really important contribution to the science and philosophy of consciousness. It’s early days in the science of consciousness, a... Thu, 09 Jul 2020 11:25:17 +0100 Philip Goff https://iai.tv/articles/conscious-universe-panpsychism-idealism-goff-kastrup-auid-1584 The embodied self https://iai.tv/articles/merleau-ponty-and-the-embodied-self-consciousness-auid-1582 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-07-07.mcclamrock.ata.jpg" /><br />Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological philosophy suggests the search for the self and consciousness need not be focused on the space within our skulls. Instead, we should turn our attention to the lived body. Our scientific and philosophical search for the self and the place of consciousness in the world has tended to focus between our ears -- although Descartes, as the originator of the modern mind-body problem, held the conscious mind had (as non-material) no location. In the last hundred years or so, materialist-leaning theories have been especially inclined to locate mind and self in the head. In both computational/information-processing and biological theorizing about consciousness and the self, the question to be answered is often seen as one about where to localize this mind/self -- whether those critical properties were best modeled as information processing or as more fundamentally biological.This is sometimes such a fundamental background assumption that it's even taken by... Tue, 07 Jul 2020 09:27:54 +0100 Ron McClamrock https://iai.tv/articles/merleau-ponty-and-the-embodied-self-consciousness-auid-1582 The universal mind https://iai.tv/articles/the-universal-mind-kastrup-goff-idealism-auid-1586 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/KASTRU.jpg"><br>At HowTheLightGetsIn Online 2020 Philip Goff, Bernardo Kastrup and Sophie Grace Chappell debated the fundamental nature of reality. In his recent IAI news article, Philip defends panpsychism against the criticisms outlined in that discussion, and presents his own arguments against analytic idealism. Here, Bernardo responds.Even in the preliminaries of Philip’s essay there appears to be a contradiction. He claims, whereas “panpsychists think that the physical world is fundamental, idealists think that there is a more fundamental reality underlying the physical world.” Fair enough. But then he immediately adds: “[panpsychists] believe that fundamental physical properties are forms of consciousness” (emphasis added). Leading philosophers at HowTheLightGetsIn Global Read more If physical properties are forms of consciousness, they are reducible to consciousness and aren’t fundamental. What does Philip mean, then, when he claims that the physical wor... Fri, 10 Jul 2020 11:56:59 +0100 Bernardo Kastrup https://iai.tv/articles/the-universal-mind-kastrup-goff-idealism-auid-1586 The transcendental self https://iai.tv/articles/the-transcendental-self-auid-1560 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-06-09.cottngham3.jpg"><br>While our concept of self perhaps lacks the ethical connotations of the soul, both embody our search for transcendental values and meaning. The self is not something fixed and static, but something we seek to develop in ourselves and others.“This me [ce moi] … by which I am what I am”. This was the strange and resonant phrase Descartes used in the seventeenth century to characterise the unique individual subject of conscious experience – what is often called the self.   Some have sought to question the very idea of the self. In the Buddhist tradition, there is no such thing: there is simply a succession of psychological states that arise and pass away, but no enduring subject.  The philosopher David Hume took a similar line in the eighteenth century, arguing that the idea of an enduring self is a kind of fiction or illusion. But the fact that our experience is constantly changing is no reason to deny that there is an enduring subject which undergoes these changes. Each of us has a powe... Tue, 09 Jun 2020 10:18:48 +0100 John Cottingham https://iai.tv/articles/the-transcendental-self-auid-1560 A Defence of Progress https://iai.tv/articles/a-defence-of-progress-auid-1289 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/A-Defence-of-Progress.jpg" /><br />The astonishing progress of humanity over the last century seems undeniable. Whether you look at the facts about nutrition, poverty, child mortality or literacy, the story is the same: vast improvements. So why does it constantly feel like humanity is on the brink of going to hell in a handcart?The timescale in which massive changes for the better have taken place is staggering. The race to end extreme poverty began only 200 years ago: an eye-blink in the 300,000 year history of Homo sapiens. And in the last 20 years alone, world poverty has fallen from 29% of the population to 9%.The consequences of negativity are themselves negative.In Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things are Better than you Think, Hans Rosling offers a plausible explanation for why this good news is not known or believed by many people: ‘the feeling that as long as things are bad it’s heartless to say they are getting better’. But those who believe in progress are not heartless Pangl... Thu, 09 Jan 2020 19:54:23 +0000 Raymond Tallis https://iai.tv/articles/a-defence-of-progress-auid-1289 A Question of Binaries https://iai.tv/articles/a-question-of-binaries-auid-330 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Barry-Smith-binaries2.jpg" /><br />Barry C Smith is a Director of the Institute of Philosophy at the Institute of Advanced Studies at University of London. His interests range from the philosophy of wine to Chomskyan theory of mind and language. He co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language (2006) with Ernest Lepore. Following his 2007 collection, Questions of Taste - the philosophy of wine (Oxford University Press), he began working with psychologists, neurologists and neuroscientists on flavour perception and is now the co-organiser of an international research project on the Nature of Taste.  So the topic up for discussion is binaries in nature and whether or not they’re real or fictitious and created by us. But I suppose the first question is what do we mean when we talk about binaries, opposites? And is there any sense in which binaries are distinct from “x and not x”?Well, I think we all know what we mean by binaries. I think that’s pretty clear. What we are interested in is whether these binary disti... Tue, 11 Mar 2014 21:15:34 +0000 Barry C. Smith https://iai.tv/articles/a-question-of-binaries-auid-330 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, Wittgenstein1916, 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 looks li... Tue, 11 Mar 2014 21:52:10 +0000 Michael Potter https://iai.tv/articles/logic-and-the-linguistic-turn-auid-332 Up Against the Grammar Police https://iai.tv/articles/up-against-the-grammar-police-auid-404 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/grammar.jpg" /><br />There is a definite pleasure to correcting other people’s grammar. Catching someone out when they speak or write incorrectly, especially if that person is regarded as clever or of a higher status than you, gives an instant thrill. This is most evident whenever any celebrity fails in their syntax on Twitter, and people in their droves immediately leap on the opportunity to point out their error. Just for that one moment you have ‘beaten’ them, you are cleverer than this columnist, or novelist, or whoever it is that has misspoken or mistyped. For most of us, this is an occasional occurrence, a rare moment of point scoring which is quickly forgotten.For some, however, it appears to be almost a full-time job constantly to upbraid those around them for failing to use ‘whom’ or splitting an infinitive. It seems actually to offend them that others fail to speak according to their standards. These are the ‘grammar police’ – and their calling is to boldly go (they won’t like that) in search of ... Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:33:21 +0100 Nick Cordingly https://iai.tv/articles/up-against-the-grammar-police-auid-404 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 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 arrangem... Sat, 12 Mar 2016 16:15:02 +0000 Daniel Everett https://iai.tv/articles/the-kingdom-of-speech-auid-649 Language and Reality https://iai.tv/articles/language-and-reality-auid-650 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Editorial-47.jpg" /><br />Perhaps responsible for the success of the human species, the power of language is remarkable. Yet a description of love, or a storm at sea, is not the same as the experience itself. Might language not describe reality at all? Is meaning a dangerous human fantasy of unlimited power, or can it tell us how things really are? In this issue of IAI News, our contributors accept that there is a world out there that, in principle at least, we can understand and engage with. But the question is: how? Through language? We use language every day to communicate with others and understand the world, says philosopher Emma Borg. So why do we now distrust it so much? Anthropologist Daniel Everett seeks to understand these problems from an evolutionary perspective. Could evolution explain why language works? And why it will always be limited? Meanwhile, behavioural scientist Dylan Evans shifts the debate from language to imagination. If our imaginations shape our reality, he asks, do we need to conjur... Sat, 12 Mar 2016 16:47:08 +0000 Editorial https://iai.tv/articles/language-and-reality-auid-650 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 Rebecca Roache On Swearing and Philosophy 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 taboo l... Sun, 21 May 2017 08:57:51 +0100 Rebecca Roache https://iai.tv/articles/on-swearing-and-philosophy-an-interview-with-rebecca-roache-auid-832 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 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 The plague of postmodernism https://iai.tv/articles/the-plague-of-postmodernism-auid-1651 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/postmodernplague2.jpg" /><br />The world, arguably, has never been in greater need of change. Can philosophy provide it, or is the discipline destined to forever interpret the world without meaningfully effecting it? Is postmodernism not only the epitome of this, but the cause of current our dire situation? Mike Cole uncovers the problems with postmodernism, and the promise of Marxism. Read Simon Glendinning's response. The rationale for this article is to insist that Marx’s famous pronouncement that ‘philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it’ is more relevant today than ever before. Postmodernism is by definition merely an interpretation of the world and as such precludes a political project, whereas what is needed is to heed the call for the transformative progressive change that Marxism represents.Challenges to Marxism have a long history and began perhaps with the sociologist Max Weber. While Albert Salomon’s famous observation that Weber was involved in a d... Tue, 13 Oct 2020 17:05:48 +0100 Mike Cole https://iai.tv/articles/the-plague-of-postmodernism-auid-1651 Sartre's Anarchist Philosophy https://iai.tv/articles/sartres-anarchist-philosophy-auid-1242 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Jean-Paul-Sartre-Birthday-Anarchism-Exisentialism-Political-Philosophy.jpg" /><br />Every philosopher must run the gauntlet of time. Philosophical ideas fall in and out of favor, but the acid test is whether we continue to debate a philosopher’s ideas long after they have left the scene. The anniversary of Jean-Paul Sartre’s birthday, almost forty years since his death, is an appropriate moment to look back on the legacy of a philosopher whose work helped to define an era, and whose ideas continue to resonate with the political climate today. Professor Richard Falk places Sartre alongside Noam Chomsky and Edward Said as one of the few individuals worthy of the title ‘public intellectual’. Yet towards the end of his life, even as Sartre moved further in the direction of political engagement, he lamented that his politics were not radical enough; perhaps that is why Sartre’s political philosophy is so highly disputed.Since the publication of Critique of Dialectical Reason in 1960, scholars have largely interpreted Sartre’s political philosophy as ‘existential Marxism’: ... Thu, 20 Jun 2019 19:47:28 +0100 William L. Remley https://iai.tv/articles/sartres-anarchist-philosophy-auid-1242 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 Sex Lives of Philosophers https://iai.tv/articles/the-sex-lives-of-philosophers-auid-259 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/tumblrlxr6626y4U1qbmtexo11281.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 Plato Not Prozac https://iai.tv/articles/plato-not-prozac-auid-283 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/brain.jpg" /><br />Professor Lou Marinoff is a Commonwealth Scholar originally from Canada, Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at The City College of New York, and founding President of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association (APPA). He is also Editor of Philosophical Practice: Journal of the APPA. Lou has authored two international bestsellers: Plato Not Prozac, translated into 27 languages since 1999, and Therapy for the Sane, into 12 languages since 2003. Both books apply Asian and Western philosophy to the resolution of everyday problems. Lou is also a three-time Canadian Open Table Hockey champion. Beatrice Popescu: Where does your love for counselling stem from? Who was your first inspiration? Lou Marinoff: My first inspiration was my talkative extended family, most of whom were capable of dispensing advice almost continuously, and on any topic. In such a climate, one must think for oneself, dispense advice in self-defence, and ultimately take one's own counsel. Beatrice ... Thu, 05 Dec 2013 13:56:58 +0000 Lou Marinoff https://iai.tv/articles/plato-not-prozac-auid-283 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 Editorial: 2014's Big Ideas https://iai.tv/articles/editorial-2014s-big-ideas-auid-474 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/15061205821-4b7a68ca7c-k.jpg" /><br />We live in an age of big science. But 2014 was the year that philosophy fought back. The year began on IAI News with Peter Hacker’s agenda-setting Why Study Philosophy? In it, he argued that philosophy is the only discipline able to patrol the borders between sense and nonsense. Philosophy’s great task, he writes, “is to function as a Tribunal of Sense”. Only philosophy can decide what makes sense, not science.Two interviews on IAI News provide exemplary illustrations of Hacker’s argument. First, we spoke to the ever-combative Mary Midgley about the materialist dogma that dominates much of modern scientific thinking. Second, Lou Marinoff and Beatrice Popescu discussed why philosophy is essential on a practical level – especially in the complex field of mental health.But big science is still going strong. 2014 marked 60 years since the foundation of CERN, one of the best-funded science organisations on the planet, with an annual budget of £786 million. But is the Large Hadron Collider a... Wed, 17 Dec 2014 06:30:15 +0000 Editor https://iai.tv/articles/editorial-2014s-big-ideas-auid-474 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 relevant,... Fri, 09 Jan 2015 07:38:18 +0000 Nicholas Maxwell https://iai.tv/articles/what-philosophy-ought-to-do-auid-483 The Known, the Strange and the New https://iai.tv/articles/the-known-the-strange-and-the-new-auid-667 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/Editorial-49.jpeg" /><br />It’s now just three weeks to HowTheLightGetsIn, our annual festival of philosophy and music in the magical setting of Hay. So for the latest issue of IAI News we’re looking forwards to give you a taste of things to come.The theme of this year’s festival is 'The Known, the Strange and the New'. In an age when knowledge appears at the click of a button, it is easy to think we largely understand the world and know what is right – even if we do not always act accordingly. Yet a time will come when our current beliefs are thought mistaken and our morality is seen as prejudice. So it is that the IAI seeks to challenge the assumption that the accepted wisdom is the truth and sets out to uncover its flaws in search of alternative and better ways to hold the world. And it is when there is almost universal acceptance of an opinion that we should surely be at our most vigilant. In this issue of IAI News, we start with a thorough interrogation of that strangest of concepts, the self. Clinical psyc... Sat, 30 Apr 2016 08:52:29 +0100 Editorial https://iai.tv/articles/the-known-the-strange-and-the-new-auid-667 The Metaphysics of Horror https://iai.tv/articles/the-metaphysics-of-horror-auid-1262 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/19-10-29.metaphysics-of-horror-CROPPED.jpg"><br>“What would your feelings be,” asks Ambrose in Arthur Machen’s novel The House of Souls, “… if your cat or your dog began to talk to you, and to dispute with you in human accents?” He goes on:You would be overwhelmed with horror. I am sure of it. And if the roses in your garden sang a weird song, you would go mad. And suppose the stones in the road began to swell and grow before your eyes, and if the pebble that you noticed at night had shot out stony blossoms in the morning?[Machen’s examples are disturbing, but it’s not immediately obvious why. It’s not that they’re frightening, at least not in the ordinary sense of the word. Normally, we’re scared of things because we think they pose a physical danger to us, but singing roses don’t pose any such hazard, so why is the thought of them so nightmarish?Notice that Machen said that if you encountered a singing rose you would be overwhelmed with horror rather than fear. Fear is a primitive emotional response—an instinctive reaction to perc... Tue, 29 Oct 2019 12:31:07 +0000 David Livingstone Smith https://iai.tv/articles/the-metaphysics-of-horror-auid-1262 Why Philosophy Should Be at the Core of Education https://iai.tv/articles/why-teaching-philosophy-should-be-at-the-core-of-education-auid-872 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/worley-article.jpg" /><br />First of all, I will distinguish between doing philosophy and teaching philosophy. If I ask you a question like ‘Should you do or be good?’ or ‘Are you in control of your life?’ I am inviting you to think about a philosophical question. If you do so, in a suitably philosophical spirit, then you are doing philosophy, whether you know it or not. If I explain to you what philosophers have said about these questions over the years or even explain and attempt to transfer to you the methods philosophers have used to answer such questions, then I am teaching philosophy to you. In the former case, I am teaching philosophy as the history of ideas and in the second, philosophy as methodology. But, like singing, philosophy is something humans can begin doing without knowing any of the history or methods of philosophy. Philosophy emerges from humans being human, and some would say that it emerges from one of the features that, like cooking and storytelling, sets us apart from other animals: namely... Fri, 25 Aug 2017 16:36:13 +0100 Peter Worley https://iai.tv/articles/why-teaching-philosophy-should-be-at-the-core-of-education-auid-872 Why Philosophy Matters https://iai.tv/articles/why-philosophy-matters-auid-973 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/whyphilosophymatters.jpg" /><br />This November marks the 12th anniversary of World Philosophy Day, a moveable feast endorsed by UNESCO and aimed at underlining the significant and often overlooked impact and value of philosophy on everyday life and human thought. The benefits of philosophy on intellectual development have been well-documented, with a recent wide-ranging study in UK schools demonstrating that children who spent an hour each week participating in philosophical discussion, debate and reflection over the course of a year saw significant gains in maths and literacy skills, with disadvantaged students reaping the greatest benefits in terms of improvement. This of course attests to philosophy’s demonstrable social and economic ‘impact’ – a word quickly that has, quite deservedly, become anathema in humanities departments – but doesn’t speak to philosophy’s broader implications for self-reflection, confidence and reasoned deduction. At at a fundamental level, philosophy equips us with the tools to ask the que... Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:30:28 +0000 IAI Editorial https://iai.tv/articles/why-philosophy-matters-auid-973 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 +0100 Amanda K. Bryant https://iai.tv/articles/what-is-metaphysics-all-about-auid-870 Contemporary Women Philosophers You Should Read 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 Editorial https://iai.tv/articles/the-contemporary-women-philosophers-you-should-know-auid-1218 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 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 Phenomenology solves quantum puzzles https://iai.tv/articles/phenomenological-answers-to-quantum-conundrums-auid-1593 <img src="https://iai.tv/assets/Uploads/_resampled/ScaleWidthWzE1MF0/20-07-24.french.ata.jpg" /><br />At the heart of the quantum measurement problem is a profound misunderstanding of the subject-object relationship. A closer look at Fritz London and Edmond Bauer's work on the problem reveals Edmund Husserl's phenomenology at play. Recognising this provides a new way to explain the fate of Schrödinger's cat, writes Steven French.Of all the mysteries associated with quantum physics, from entanglement to the Uncertainty Principle, perhaps the most fundamental is the so-called ‘measurement problem’. A striking way of seeing what’s at stake is by means of the infamous ‘Schrödinger's Cat’ thought experiment: inside a box is placed a cat and a sample of radioactive material, together with a Geiger counter connected to a device that, if triggered, will kill the cat (if you’re uncomfortable with the set-up, think of putting Schrödinger in the box).According to quantum theory the state of this arrangement should be described as a superposition of sample-doesn’t-decay-geiger-counter-doesn’t-trig... Tue, 21 Jul 2020 10:21:07 +0100 Steven French https://iai.tv/articles/phenomenological-answers-to-quantum-conundrums-auid-1593 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 a ... Sat, 15 Aug 2015 08:30:02 +0100 Ray Brassier https://iai.tv/articles/in-defence-of-knowledge-auid-557 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