Wednesday, February 23, 2005

On the philosophical usefullness of love.

It is an age old idea in Philosophy that man is a synthesis. And the division created by this synthesis has been the focal point of vast amounts of - particularly more modern - philosophy. Kierkegaard unites this synthesis through a leap (signifying defeated reason (Camus)), Sartre by a greater devision over the gulf of nothingness, Nietzsche accentuates the multiplicity and Foucault follows, resulting in a - at least partially, though I'm sure Cooly will quibble) - deterministic sytem, and so on; all insufficient for a satisfying union. Emotions seem to be what desires this division to be made redundant, but logic is difficult to bend to the will.

The general modern tendancy in Philosophy seem to be directed towards the creation of a dynamical system of more extensive conotations than that of Foucault, but there remains the problem of determinism. Love throughout the ages has featured in literature as that link that joins two in into one - whether that two be people (to take a Joycean reading of the commandment; love your neighbour as if he were yourself), man and the world (A little like Hess' Goldmund), the two halves of the self (good old fashion Narciscism), or any other union. Given this it is surprising that the concept of Love has not been taken up more strongly as a point of philosophical discussion.

In response to Dirda's article, The Stendhal image of the bare branch that through the eyes of one that loves it will appear to be covered with "shimmering, glittering diamonds, so that the original bough is no longer recognizable" is a love of inaction - the love does everything required. The love of the wives of Gide's "The Partoral Symphony" and "the Immoralist" are also of this nature. I take this example to show it up as contrary to sexual, or desirouse love, which spurs one to action, implying that the loved is the other. The aesthetic loves seems to be the more complete love. to contrast, Zola's Nana feels love breifly, but would seem to be feeling love more out of boredom than anything else. Camus' love is sensual, and (for example in "The Outsider") it is not just for Marie, but also for the cigarette, and the tablet of chocolate, and the sun on his body and so on. Eros is one form of love, a form of love that requires action; this is not the sum total, nor indeed the most affecting love. What I am interested in that love that makes one person see a vermin rabbit while another sees a rich duck (to augment Wittgenstein's toy) - I think it is in that love that there is the most useful philosophical concept.

It would seem a usefull conection and consideration as it allows for value in descrimination, differences between agents, a definition of what the term good refers to without having to give any examples (as Aristotle needed), and as love is never a stable nor predictable thing it would seem to fit into a dynamical system.

These are some of the traditional literary (non-philosophical) conceptions of love. And as has often been stated, philosophy follows literature. So my question for anybody who cares to put an idea forward is no longer "what is 'the good', but this: what is love?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Robinson On Phil In One Syll

David Chalmers has posted part of Denis Robinson's attempt to reduce philosophy into words of one syllable. The project is in its early stages ...

Dirda On Love

An interesting, pre-Valentines' Day, survey of literature on Love.

Holt On Intelligent Design

Another contribution to the Intelligent Design argument(s) that seem to have popped up everywhere lately ... This time published in The New York Times Magazine.

Prowse On Durkheim

An interesting article on Emile Durkheim, from Prospect magazine.

Pink On Revenge of the Right Brain

"In a world upended by outsourcing, deluged with data, and choked with choices, the abilities that matter most are now closer in spirit to the specialties of the right hemisphere - artistry, empathy, seeing the big picture, and pursuing the transcendent ... Liberated by ... prosperity but not fulfilled by it, more people are searching for meaning. From the mainstream embrace of such once-exotic practices as yoga and meditation to the rise of spirituality in the workplace to the influence of evangelism in pop culture and politics, the quest for meaning and purpose has become an integral part of everyday life. And that will only intensify as the first children of abundance, the baby boomers, realize that they have more of their lives behind them than ahead. In both business and personal life, now that our left-brain needs have largely been sated, our right-brain yearnings will demand to be fed."

This is from an article, published by wired, that should give hope to most of you who are fearful of a world with no place for creativity ... though may disappoint those of you who long for revolution.

Unger On 'All the Power in the World'

Peter Unger has posted the drafts of six chapters from his forthcomming All the Power in the World (Oxford University Press, 2006[?]). According to David Chalmers , who has made his way through the papers, "There's a lot of interesting material in the philosophy of mind and metaphysics in this huge manuscript (almost 900 pages), including the defense of a strong form of Cartesian dualism".

Monday, February 21, 2005

1st Week News from the President.

Well, what a week. I'm sure that all of the executive ant the other volunteers that helped out at our O - Week stall are glad that the hard work is over, allowing us to get on with the leisurley task of our honours year.

There have been some developments over the week reguarding this forum. Any member of the University of Newcastle Philsophy Club, that would like to contribute to the blog need only email either myself, Martin or the club eddress, to be added as a contributor. This applies equally to all members of the club, no questions, end of discussion. People who are non-club members that wish to contribute will be dealt with on a case by case basis. All contributors, reguardless of their position, will be subject to editorial control. Innapropriate behavior, material or deliberate plagarism will not be tolerated.

On a happier note, we have figured out the details of our weekly meetings. As things stand:

1:00 - 2:00 Tuesdays McMullin Courtyard: 1st year study group.

2:00 onwards Normal weekly meeting (same location, etc).

Since I'm on campus most days, I would also encourage members to attend the NUSA free lunch on thursdays, for more informal disscussion. I will usually be there, and what more reason do you need?

Once again, I am overwhelmed by the unprecedented interest in our club, and our discipline this last week. There has been a great deal of interest from many of the religious organisations on campus who seem interested in opening up dialogue, which will be very intersting. It will be an exciting year, I have no doubt of that.

-Sam Douglas.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Apres O-Week

An apology for the glut in recent content. O-Week took up more time than any of us thought.

This written, O-Week has been a considerable success. The Club signed up over seventy members, well beyond our expectations and beyond last year’s total membership. We would like to say thank you to all of you who joined.

Please maintain the enthusiasm that you showed when joining, and we look forward to seeing you at out first meeting (the details of which will be here posted shortly).

Sunday, February 13, 2005

O-Week Welcome

The University of Newcastle Philosophy Club would like to welcome all first time visitors to this blog.

The blog was commenced early in January as part of the Philosophy Club’s attempts to provide various forums for philosophical discussion. As such, it has been founded as a companion to the Club’s now quarterly journal, Dialectic.

It is intended to be an open forum for members of the Philosophy Club to discuss and debate ideas, and a forum that is open to the greater community.

The blog is still being constructed, a painstaking process, which should soon be completed.

Please feel free to comment on any of the posts, and to browse through our limited archive.

Fresher Reading List

The following list consists of the ten works that it may be worthwhile for First Year students, philosophy students or otherwise, to read.

- Comte-Sponville, André. The Little Book Of Philosophy (William Heinemann)
- Plato. The Last Days of Socrates (Penguin)
- Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics (Penguin)
- Epicurus. The Essential Epicurus (Prometheus Books)
- Descartes, René. Discourse On Method And Meditations (Penguin)
- Machiavelli, Niccolò. The Prince (Penguin)
- Kant, Immanuel. Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (Oxford)
- Marx, Karl. The Portable Karl Marx (Penguin)
- Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus (Penguin)
- Foucault, Michel. The Will To Knowledge, The History Of Sexuality: 1 (Penguin)

Note: The brackets indicate available editions.

Orientation Week

The University of Newcastle Orientation Week begins on Monday 14th of April.

The University of Newcastle Philosophy Club will be operating a stall as part of the Union Clubs and Societies Fair.

Rowlands On Camus and Desperate Housewives

Mark Rowlands made the following observations in an article on the American television show Desperate Housewives:
"Philosophy is all around us, in the culture we inhabit, in the television programmes we watch and the magazines we read. All of us are the authors, producers, directors, stars and guest stars in various philosophical questions, issues, disputes, conflations and confusions - even though, most of the time, we have no idea of this. If you live life, and ever think about it, you're a philosopher ... Albert Camus, the French existentialist and chronicler of the human condition, knew all about desperation. He took, as a leitmotif for human existence, the myth of Sisyphus, a mortal who had offended the gods; his punishment was to roll a huge rock up a hill. When he reached the top, it would roll back down, and he would have to begin all over again. And that was it - for eternity. What seems so unfortunate about this isn't that the work is difficult. The real horror lies in its sheer futility. There is nothing that it aims at, and nothing that could count as its fulfilment."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Politics In The Pub - February 2005

For those Novocastrians interested, the first Politics in the Pub will be held next week. The details are as follows:

Topic: Moral Minority? Mixing Politics and Religion in the Australian Context

Speakers: Bishop Roger Herft (Anglican Bishop of Newcastle) and Dr Jim Jose (Senior Lecturer in Politics, The University of Newcastle)

6: 30 pm, Tuesday 15th Feburary at the Hamilton Station Hotel, Beaumont Street

Thursday, February 03, 2005

res Cogitans On Philosophy

res Cogitans is a recent addition, like ourselves, to the philosophy blogging community. This post on the appropriate enviroment for philosophic discussion seems to agree with certain Novocastrian practices ...

Chalmers and The Matrix

For various reasons, The Matrix has been a text for philosophical study in these parts - and probably will be again this year if the list of proposed courses is to be believed - with one of the key sources of secondary material being whatisthematrix. David Chalmers, who contributed to the Matrix Philosophy project, has made this recent post.