Category Archives: Natural Philosophy

Developing a New History of Philosophy

An immediate response to the title is: Do we need yet another history of philosophy?  Anyone vaguely familiar with their local library’s selections and new arrivals will have seen half a dozen such histories, ostensibly, at least.  For example, Anthony Kenny has recently put out a set of volumes, and there has even been the instantiation of a very ambitious attempt at a “History of Philosophy without Any Gaps” by Adamson.  Go beyond that, and there are more or less scholarly compilations by Bertrand Russell (much less), Frederick Copleston (more), and Will Durant (less).  Smaller chunks of history have been, in some respects, very competently done.  I stress the qualifier “in some respects,” a great example being A History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages by Etienne Gilson, which beautifully ties together a number of the ideas with theirs sources (and the relation of the ideas) and philosophers to their intellectual forbearers and inspirations.  However, that work fails as a history qua history.  Continue reading

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Filed under Education, History and Philosophy of Science, History of Philosophy, History of Science, Natural Philosophy, Pedagogy

Distinguishing between Types of Science: Unmixing Metaphysics and Pragmatic Science

I get questions regularly about the bizarre nature of contemporary physics.  I am sure practicing physicists with PhDs get these more regularly than I, yet I occupy an interesting and rare position in the academic disciplinary landscape: I’ve studied science, particularly physics, into the graduate level, and I am actively developing my expertise in the history and philosophy of science, particularly physics, as well as being a lifelong student of more traditional philosophy (e.g., analytic, contemporary, and Eastern).  The question most regularly asked of late has been: What are physicists talking about with all of this “non-verifiable” theory; it sounds like philosophy?  By this, they mean the fact that there is this apparent post-empirical turn, and the lack of requirement of empirical data to substantiate proposed theory.  I’d like to spend some length explaining my thoughts on this, including a suggestion to all practicing scientists, regardless of discipline.

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Filed under Cosmology, Epistemology, History and Philosophy of Science, History of Physics, History of Science, Natural Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Physics, Popular Science, Science

Teleology and Immaterial Substance after the Physico-Chemical Turn in the Life Sciences

I am posting a paper (click here) I have been playing with for a little while.  I generally don’t post anything that I might publish, but, with some added input and further vision in formulating it, I may be able to turn this into something worth publishing.  The essence of the paper is on vitalism and how teleology has not been stripped out of the original nascent formation (i.e., romantische Naturphilosophie) of the biological discipline.  The paper grew out of my reading of Timothy Lenoir’s The Strategy of Life: Teleology and Mechanics in nineteenth-Century German Biology. Continue reading

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Filed under History and Philosophy of Science, History of Physics, History of Science, Natural Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Physics

Examining and Thinking Through “The Simplest Possible Universe”: Part II

This is the second in a series of blog posts about a work done by Dr. David Lee Cale, professor at West Virginia University.  Cale, a polymath, is chiefly a philosopher, trained in physics, political science, mathematics, economics, and numerous other disciplines, holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, an M.B.A., a B.A. in political science, and is ABD in economics, and is a notable ethicist.  The work of his being examined is “The Simplest Possible Universe,” a monograph that synthesizes ancient Greek and Scholastic styles of thinking with modern physical insight.  The work is striking, in that its brand of creativity is not common in modern intellectual enterprises.  Retaining the good sense and substance of modern physics, Cale employs modes of thinking that are on loan from times nearly forgotten.  The objective of this blog series is to deconstruct the monograph, examine its components, and assess the merits of each, redoubting where possible.  At the end, if efficacious, an attempt at resynthesis of the project, consequent upon the conceptual retooling, will be made.  Continue reading

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Filed under Natural Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Pure Philosophy

Examining and Thinking Through “The Simplest Possible Universe”

This is the first in a series of blog posts about a work done by Dr. David Lee Cale, professor at West Virginia University.  Cale, a polymath, is chiefly a philosopher, trained in physics, political science, mathematics, economics, and numerous other disciplines, holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, an M.B.A., a B.A. in political science, and is ABD in economics, and is a notable ethicist.  The work of his being examined is “The Simplest Possible Universe,” a monograph that synthesizes ancient Greek and Scholastic styles of thinking with modern physical insight.  The work is striking, in that its brand of creativity is not common in modern intellectual enterprises.  Retaining the good sense and substance of modern physics, Cale employs modes of thinking that are on loan from times nearly forgotten.  The objective of this blog series is to deconstruct the monograph, examine its components, and assess the merits of each, redoubting where possible.  At the end, if efficacious, an attempt at resynthesis of the project, consequent upon the conceptual retooling, will be made.  Continue reading

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

“Nomos and Physis”: Duquesne University’s 7th Annual Graduate Conference in Philosophy

There was a very nice turnout at Duquesne University’s 7th Annual graduate conference in philosophy (themed “Nomos and Physis”).  A big thanks goes to the Duquesne Department of philosophy and Matt Lovett for running such a well-organized event.  The spread of papers presented was diverse array of subtopics: Phenomenology and Nature; Nature In Itself, Nature for Us; Nature in Ancient Philosophy; Contemporary Ontologies and Nature.  The general sentiment around the room seemed to be that the questions, discussion, and commentary was productive.  Probably the most fascinating element of the conference —I know not if it was by design or happenstance— was that the papers reflected holistic approaches to philosophical considerations pertaining to Nature.   Continue reading

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

Why Emergence Doesn’t Emerge and Secondary Qualities Are Not Secondary

This is the full, uncut version of the paper I sent to the Harvard-MIT graduate philosophy conference.  It is entitled, “Why Emergence Doesn’t Emerge and Secondary Qualities Are Not Secondary.”  I may pursue this project further, depending on feedback.  There are a number of shortcomings, among them being that I am not as well versed in Aristotle, and it has come to my attention (through al-Kindi, of all people!) that Aristotle’s epistemology contains the an idea of subtraction from perception to arrive at mental content.  Contingent upon looking further into this, I may add a significant section on Aristotle, or just had his philosophy, insofar as it is applicable, to the Meillassoux-Objectivism discussion.

Also posted on my blog are two papers, “Cognition as Negation” and “The Onto-Epistemic Stance,” which line up with the purpose of this paper.  If I take this collective project any further, I may look into writing a full-length monographic work for publication.

Again, this is the raw form of the paper, well over 5,000 words, and exceeding the 4,000-word limit imposed by the conference.  Nonetheless, feel free to comment.

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Filed under Cognitive Science, Epistemology, Natural Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Science, Pure Philosophy