Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Reading Wittgenstein's Investigations

Have come across two group readings of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations.

The first, which seems to have made it as far as Section 110, though seems to have ended abruptly at this point, can be found here. The second, from Studi Galileiani, has only recently commenced and made it as far as section 2.

The quality of both is varying, but it is the web and you do seem to get that.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Question - 29th March

The Schiavo case, as it presently plays itself out, raises the fundamental question of whether a family’s desire to keep their incapacitated relative alive should over-ride that person’s right to die?

Any thoughts, comments?

Adorno as Antidote

"No one was better than Adorno at dissecting the psychic and emotional brutality of capitalism’s regimes of commodification and the increasing pressure it exerts on individuals to define themselves through consumption. This, he argued, led to the compulsion to shut off one’s capacity for empathy, whether with working people whose labor produces commodities (how could we shop at Wal-Mart otherwise?) or those whose homes, lives and futures are being sacrificed in the name of a market-friendly abstraction called “Iraqi freedom.” ... Adorno examined the phenomenon of highly commodified mass culture not to get people to read Beckett rather than go to the movies (although he clearly wished we would)."

From an article in In These Times

Monday, March 28, 2005

On Sorcery

There has been a proposal, to be found over at Doing Things With Words, that the entire discipline of Philosophy be renamed Sorcery. Now, am not so sure about that, but I do quite enjoy one of the implications which would be the replacement of the world 'philosophy' with the word 'sorcery' (and its vice versa, the replacement of 'sorcery' with 'philosophy').

This would result in having to retitle a great many books, a point that has already been vaguely recognised, with suggestions of Russell's The Problems of Sorcery and Wittgenstein's Sorcerous Investigations. But why stop there ...

I would like to set down a challenge to see how many titles we can rename simply by replacing 'philosophy' with 'scorcery' and their varients. I suggest, to commence

Boethius, The Consolation of Sorcery (and by implication De Botton, The Consolations of Sorcery)
Derrida, Margins of Sorcery
Hegel, The Sorcery of Right
Hume, Sorcerous Essays Concerning Human Understanding (using the early title of the Enquiry)
Russell, History of Western Sorcery
Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Sorcerous

A Discussion on Wittgenstein ...

Being aware that Ol'Ludwig is gnawing away at the back of some of the minds around here - mine included - thought that it might be useful to link to this discussion taking place over at Thoughts Arguments and Rants on Interpreting Wittgenstein ... It appears to have little to do with meaning scepticism, though I did see Investigations section 201 mentioned somewhere, or thought that I did ... The question that I sort of have is in virtue of which fact can we be sure that anyone actually means 'Wittgenstein' when they 'Wittgenstein'? Could they not actually be talking about 'Kripkenstein' - a creature that seems to feature in a lot of the literature I have been reading lately.

Anyway, am going to return to wading through Blackburn, McGinn, and Wright on Kripke on Wittgenstein (the most fun way to spend a public holiday ...).

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Debate: Life's Great Questions

The Newcastle Adventist Students Association is holding a public debate.

The topic: Are religious people kidding themselves? Is belief in God just a crutch? A product of wishful thinking? On the existence of God and whether humanity needs a supernatural person called God.

Sceptics Team Leader: Dr Colin Keay
Christian Team Leader: Dr Sven Ostring
Moderator: Dr David Dockrill

Time: Thursday 7th of April, 3 to 4.30pm
Location: CT202

The Philosophy Club is not affiliated with NASA, or any religious organisation on campus, we support any activity that increases the level of intellectual discussion. The Club encourages those members who can attend, to do so.

A couple of links from Houyhnhnm Land ...

Thought that these links might be of interest to different people ...

Regarding Jonathan Swift; his book Three Sermons, Three Prayers and his Thoughts on Various Subjects are both available on-line.

A recent post, from Philosophical Fortnights, on 'How philosophy gets done'.

Thanks should go the the Houyhnhnm for the links.

The Person Game

This blog is unique - it appears to be some sort of competition, one that recalls Borges' Lottery ... Apparently the contestants were given 'persons' (in the lose non-philosophic sense of the word person) and allowed to determine where these persons lived. This done, the controllers of the game allocate each of the players points based on how the controllers think that the person is going.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Desert-Island Philosophers

A meme, that can be traced back to Blogosophy, is haunting the philosophy blogs, and is now appearing here ...

The question has been asked: 'Which five philosophers works would you take with you to a desert island, given that you are probably going to be trapped there for a very long time?' To make the process of selection as easy as possible, you can take with you their complete works (however they may be concieved ...).

My list would probably be:
I. Michel de Montaigne
II. Niccolo Machiavelli
III. Michel Foucault
IV. Albert Camus
V. Bertrand Russell

(I get the feeling that I possibily would not be the sort of person that you would want to meet after some time on an island with these as my company ...)

Now, who would constitute your desert island five?

And still it continues....

I've just read this snippet on our ABC site this morning on how the "Intelligent Design" argument is being dug up again, as an alternative to evolutionary theory. I'm not sure I even want to get into this debate, but this presentation of pseudo - scientific speculation as being in the same league as more rigorous theory, in order to prop up a backward and at times oppressive worldview is more than I can stomach.
In any case, (as Martin will inevitably point out), intelligence of a "Designer" is not so much the issue as benevolence. The existence of an intelligent designer might explain some biological facts (though I seriously doubt this), but please pause and take a look at the world around you. If you were omnipotent, do you think you could do better? Without answering several other important questions, this push for the acceptance of an intelligent designer does not come within spitting distance of putting a christian god on the map. Rather it indicates something much more ominous, an intelligent designer that is not so benevolent.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

On Terrorism

Friday, the Eleventh of March, marks the first anniversary of the terrorist attack in Madrid. Several organisations around the world are holding discussions on the topic of terrorism to mark the occasion, including a summit in Madrid.

To mark, in our own way, the event we request that contributors and others post their thoughts on terrorism here and engage in the discussion.

Winn On Beauty

Winn wrote the following as part of a piece on beauty:
"Extreme physical beauty, wherever it turns up, is an unnerving thing. It can appear anywhere -- on a street corner, at a restaurant, at the movies, in the park. Beautiful people stop us dead, bewitch, torment and bewilder. I got waylaid at the Legion of Honor the other day by two 19th century paintings of beautiful women.
Art licenses us to stare -- in museums, at the theater, the ballet, especially at the movies. But there's also something in our puritan constitution that makes us skeptical, suspicious, even a little ashamed of our bedazzlement. Shouldn't we value deeper and more lasting things and regard appearance as a fleeting, transitory apparition? Beauty may be truth (and vice versa), as Keats famously said. But when it shows up too clearly in human form, we don't really trust it, or our responses."

McLemee On Defending Derrida

The discussion commenced in the wake (and obituaries) of Derrida's death continues; in this case it is a discussion of his legal theory. This discussion draws attention to theory developed in a 1989 lecture by Derrida, and its use in understanding the Bush Administation's legal thought.

Honderich On Being Persona Non Grata

Ted Honderich has written another work on terrorism. Here Honderich discusses his own unpopularity - which stems from the arguments he has made in recent years on the subject of terrorism - and the lessons that he has learned from it.

The article raises the question of since when has Honderich been "Great Britain's outstanding progressive philosopher"?

Dawkins On The Giant Tortoise

Richard Dawkins, in promotional mode for his latest defense of evolution, looks at the evolution of the giant tortoise in this essay, the first of three, published in the Guardian.

Sample On Evil Spirits

In England recently a documentary was screened during which a young man, who claimed to be possessed by evil, was exorcised while scientists monitored "the man's brain with electrodes to see whether the procedure has any measurable effect". Sample breifly looks at the psychology and the mystery.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Petals Around The Rose

This is a little intellectual challenge for you all - it only took me ten attempts before I gleaned the rule, can any of you do better? If so record your rolls in the comments. (Thanks to Melbourne Philosopher for the link).