Monthly Archives: November 2012

Autopoiesis and Kant’s Theory of Time

Kant had a pretty trippy and extremely fascinating view of time.  (The Hstorical Dictionary of Kant and Kantianism says “innovative,” which I gladly grant.)  For Kant, time is a “pure form of sensible intuition” (Critique of Pure Reason, N. K. Smith trans., 2003, pg. 75), and “[t]ime is nothing but the form of internal sense, that is, of the intuition of ourselves and of our inner senses.  It cannot be a determination of outer appearances; it has to do neither with shape nor position, but with the relation of representations in our inner state” (ibid. pg. 77).  Continue reading

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Filed under History of Science, Kantian Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Physics, Pure Philosophy

Kuhn as Empiricist

Thomas Kuhn’s career quite possibly occurred at precisely the wrong time for him.  By “for him,” I mean that he did his work at a time when ideology was thick, and when revolutionary thought pervaded America, and it resulted in his having to spend the rest of his career correcting everyone else on what he meant.  (The length restrictions placed on his monograph, and his ability to cause problems for himself by creating analogies that used words like “religious conversion,” only made things worse.)  Setting the mood and the stage of the period, and to do it accurate, is no easy task, so I leave it for another post.  Continue reading

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A “Meillassouxian” Approach to Kant’s First Antinomy of Pure Reason and the Big Bang

This is a paper I am preparing for a graduate conference at Duquesne, whose theme is “physis and nomos.”  The paper is to be sent in on December 1, 2012, so any comments before then are especially welcome, but comments afterword are also welcome.



Filed under Cosmology, Kantian Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Physics, Popular Science

Why “A Universe from Nothing” Is Garbage

The intention of this post is plural: to illustrate how patently unqualified Lawrence M. Krauss is to make any kind of philosophical statement; to convince the reader of how bad his book, The Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing, is; and to provide a moral about what happens when someone’s thought is so ideologically driven that the individual becomes set at all costs to demonstrate a particular result, even if it means affirming the consequent.  Having now read the book, my opinion has changed of Krauss (see my related post), and I can say that I no longer have any sympathy for him.  Perhaps the most interesting point about my take on the book is that I actually agree with what he is arguing for, so much so that I am preparing a paper for a graduate conference on just this topic: the universe from nothing.  Therefore, it should be clear from the outset that there is certainly no clash in ultimate beliefs between us. Continue reading


Filed under Cosmology, Philosophy, Physics, Popular Science

Comparing the Great Books of the Western World to the Harvard Classics (Part III): Assessing the Philosophy Selections

I think the real limitation of Harvard Classics can be seen in the philosophy selections it contains.  Unfortunately, I think the Harvard Classics could have been put together with much greater efficacy, had the editor taken a much more piecemeal approach in selecting excerpts to be included.  Otherwise, I am not sure I see any way that Harvard Classics could present a sustained usefulness to a readership seeking novelty in the set.  The approach of the Great Books of the Western World, including whole swathes of philosophical literature, essentially, obviates the most desires to own the Harvard Classics, at least as far as the philosophy goes.  In fact, when I began this blog, I owned the Harvard Classics, but not the Great Books of the Western World; but finding the latter to be such an asset, I now on it and sold the former.  Continue reading

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Filed under Great Books and Harvard Classics Series, Literature, Philosophy

Light as Metaphysical Unifying Entity of Opera

It certainly doesn’t seem very easy to get one’s hands on literature concerning the theory of lighting in opera production.  Why this is, is not completely clear.  Prima facie, light contributes to the visual sensation induce by the performance just as the orchestral pieces composed to move us through the auditory sense.  Yet there is a much stricter recipe for the nature of the auditory stimulus than for lighting, which is especially confusing, if one considers that it is well within reason to weight the visual stimulus on exactly the same par as the auditory; and one might argue for some small amount of privilege for the visual medium.  My reason for thinking so is that, in my experience, the visual conveys a tremendous amount of information to the viewer, and even contributes to the mood, which I take to be the central function of the musical arrangement. Continue reading

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Filed under Aesthetics, Arts, Philosophy

A Primer on Virtuality and Contingency

In one of Slavoj Žižek’s numerous talks, he discusses the notion of “virtuality” in a very insightful way, paraphrasing something Donald Rumsfeld said: “There are known knowns.  These are things we know that we know.  There are known unknowns.  That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know.  But there are also unknown unknowns.  There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”  It’s an unlikely source for an explication of a philosophical idea, but it does the job and well.  However, Žižek was talking about epistemic virtuality, which, even if not by name, is familiar to everyone.  Continue reading

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Filed under Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Pure Philosophy