Sunday, September 30, 2007

Baudrillard and International Politics – Workshop Notice

The University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (United Kingdom) will be hosting a workshop on Baudrillard and International Politics.

The notice states:

The translation and publication of Jean Baudrillard’s The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1995) marked the first significant awareness of Baudrillard’s work among international politics scholars and was the source of a highly engaged debate. In the years since, Baudrillard’s work on the media, simulation, hyperreality, terror, and technology has continued to provide unique insights into contemporary international politics and the discourses in which it is framed.

International politics staff and graduate students at Newcastle University arehosting a half day workshop to explore the value and relevance of Baudrillard’s work for international politics studies and seek papers on the following (and other) themes:

Political discourses of hyperreality
Baudrillard on the USA
The political commitments of Baudrillard’s early scholarship

The workshop will be held, at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, on the 28th of November.

Further details are available from Mr Mark Edward (

Comment on Philosophy and Science

I promised, some time ago, to set out my (vague) position on the relationship between philosophy and science. It will be tediously brief.

If we look at the intellectual history of both philosophy and science, there is a considerable commonality. There are arguments over whether the early Greek atomists should be regarded ‘properly’ as scientists or philosophers (I remember this as theme of Russell’s (or was it John Wright’s – I was reading them simultaneously) treatment). There are a great many individuals who do (or should) occupy places in the pantheon of both disciplines (Aristotle, for example). Then there is a juncture. While the exact moment is unimportant, at some point science heads along one path, philosophy the other. The paths run alongside each other, separated only by a hedge, or such, which allow both to see and consider the course the other is taking.

I feel unconfident about stepping further than my earlier statement (that science should acknowledge its origin in philosophy), other than to adjust it to science should more openly acknowledge its common history with philosophy. One implication of this view, which I am willing to expound, is that it may render redundant any general suggestion that philosophy should become more scientific or that science should become more ‘philosophical’ (I’ll concede that there may be valid arguments in specific circumstances).

Comment on Mr Atkinson

I’ve just been re-reading the attempt at a discussion with Mr Philip Atkinson, ‘author’ (I’m reminded of a glib one-liner to the effect that the subject of the retort was only an ‘author if that class is broadened to include anyone who can write a sentence’) of ‘A Definition of Philosophy’.

I have to admit that, since it appears Mr Atkinson has moved on, I feel somewhat cheated. Mr Atkinson approached the Club, and thus Dialectic, and asked us to critique his argument. Mr Douglas commenced this with an introductory commentary. My, probably biased, analysis of what followed was a process of him ridiculing his interlocutors, demanding they comply with his method, and refusing to expand upon any of our points. Clearly, his interlocutors were not faultless in this process (an admission on my part).

I’m left wondering what was achieved in this quiet sustained (by recent standards) discussion. It appears that Mr Atkinson will probably ignore the points we raised, and I feel that I have actually gained no insight from the discussion.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Philosophy Job Market and Publishing Advice

Aidan McGlynn (of the boundaries of language) has recently constructed this page of links containing advice about employment and publishing (and they are intimately linked at this time) for philosophers.

Anyone considering a career in Philosophy should take a look.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Philosophers’ Carnival #53

The 53rd PhilosophersCarnival is on at Florida Student Philosophy Blog.

Of particular interest (in my opinion and in no particular order) are:

The Moving Light of Time at Daylight Atheism
There Are Two Books On My Desk at A brood comb

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Professor Emeritus Godfrey Tanner turns 80

On 24 September 2007 the University of Newcastle’s much loved Professor Godfrey Tanner would have turned 80. We take this opportunity to remember and pay homage to him and his charming intellectual exuberance.

ABC Newcastle (Newcastle)
Day Shift - 25/09/2007 - 02:10 PM (Forthcoming)
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

Newcastle University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the life and legacy of Emeritus Professor Godfrey Tanner with a journey through the late Professor’s beautiful collection of rare books and manuscripts held in the University’s Cultural Collections in the Auchmuty Library. Gems include ‘Colloquial Albanian for Beginners’, ‘Beginning Hittite’ and ‘Teach Yourself Bike Repair’ as well as some of the more beautiful 16th and 17th works.

Follow this link for the UoN Cultural Collections post containing the broadcast notes and other assorted Godfrey memorabilia.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

My posting cherry popped.

For reasons outside my enthusiasm to tell (nevertheless we can chalk it up as a direct result of my immaturity) I have been asked to post a set of my beliefs. Being the sceptic that I am this should not take long.

As a moment of consciousness (the existence of which this post will assert, constitutes an I, although this is merely for the use of language rather then any need for the argument) I do not have ultimate justification for my actions. (if you happen to have one, please tell me.)

While, intuitively, there seem to be better answers (utilitarianism) then other answers (Devine Command), the existence of any doubt (even if one is to define it as a small amount) results in the answer being equally unjustified as an answer riddled with doubt. It is the nature of doubt that its limits can not be defined. One can not say how much one does not know; only that one does not know. This being so, doubt as a technical term, can not have a magnitude (even though as a psychological term, it can).

Therefore all action, at the moment, is equally unjustified (as in all justification for action experiences doubt). Being equally unjustified, by necessity makes it equally justified. Resulting in all action (from suicide to giving money to the poor to acts of a sadistic nature) equally justified.

This is my position, and I believe in the truth of the sentiment. However, I am sure there will be language problems. Since we are playing a language game this is serious but I am confidant that the skilled philosophers out there in blog-land will help me with the language issues.

Furthermore there are some possible objections, but I would like to deal with them as they come up rather then put the effort in now.

Finally as part of the challenge I was suppose to draw out the implications outside of philosophy, at the moment I am not completely sure what this means. However, I think it would be best to see if my claim holds up within the rule of philosophy before we draw conclusions outside of it.

James Bernard Willoughby.

Friday, September 07, 2007

God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence

On July 1st, Internet Infidels released the first installment ("Mind and Will") of a four-part series of debates called "God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence." This "Great Debate" concerns which of naturalism or theism is more likely to be true given different kinds of evidence. The second installment ("Evil and Evolution") was released on September 1st, and the third and fourth installments ("Science and the Cosmos" and "Faith and Uncertainty") will be released on November 1st and January 1st, respectively.

In the first installment Andrew Melnyk defends physicalism about the human mind, the truth of which he takes to be some evidence against theism, while Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro defend substance dualism and libertarian free will, which they take to undermine naturalism.

In section two Paul Draper defends his argument from the biological role of pain and pleasure against the existence of God, while Alvin Plantinga defends his famous argument that evolutionary naturalism is self-defeating. Each contributor critiques the opening case of the other, and each defends his opening case against its critique.

The Internet Infidels are soliciting questions to pass on to the contributors on either of the two sides of these debates as part of Q&A sessions to be published online later, and would appreciate it if you would inform your students in the appropriate classes about this interactive dialogue.

Members on both sides of the Theist/Atheist side of the fence would benefit from looking over these arguments.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Parrhesia: Issue 3, 2007

The latest edition of Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy is available online.

This issue includes essays by Alain Badiou with Tzuchien Tho, Clare Blackburne and Marguerite La Caze, just to name a few contributors, as well as reviews.

Michel Foucault’s last works tell us that parrhesia is the act of fearlessly speaking the truth.To engage in parrhesia is never, however, a ‘neutral’ act. Parrhesia simultaneously incorporates aesthetic and ethical dimensions. The parrhesiast is someone whose fidelity to the truth becomes the pivot of a process of self-transformation.

The journal endeavours to feature work by leading figures in contemporary thought, along with scholarly articles, which are double blind peer-reviewed.

Parrhesia is affiliated with the Departments of English and Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, and with the Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy.