Category Archives: Philosophy

The Subject-Object Divide, Corey Anton, and on the Priority Debate between Being and Knowing (Part 2)

With the conceptual baggage drawn out more fully and clearly marked, it is clear that the heart of the matter is overcoming correlationism, whose tenet of the subject-object split is paramount.  A great deal of work has been performed in the attempt to resolve the issue of the subject-object divide, which originally arose in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.  It’s important to understand the centrality of the critical project in this discussion, because Kant’s way of resolving the debate between the rationalists and empiricists synthesized the positions in such a way as to instantiate in remarkably lucid terms, and formulating in its present form, the subject-object divide.  Perhaps beginning with an exchange between Chad and Corey is the way to go, and then following it up with a very perceptive remark made in a video (“Ontological Creativity (response to professoranton)”) by Matthew Segall, a graduate student at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Continue reading

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The Subject-Object Divide, Corey Anton, and on the Priority Debate between Being and Knowing (Part 1)

Prefatory remark: I will be breaking this blog into two parts, due to its length.

Corey Anton (of Grand Valley State University) recently published a series of videos (“Ontology”, “Epistemology Is a Subset of Ontology”, “A Lively Dialogue on Ontology, Epistemology, Emergence & Agency”, and “Understanding Agency (Information, Language, Literacy, Calendars)”), hosted by youtube, concerning the idea that epistemology is a subset of ontology.

 

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Why .9999… (Repetend) Is Not Equal to 1

I recently bumped into a graduate student in the economics department at the University of Pittsburgh, Shawn McCoy, and he brought to my attention that there are some folks who wish to claim that .9999…=1.  That is, the decimal value, .9-repetend, which has infinitely many places of ‘9’ after the decimal, is equivalent to the whole number, 1.  Any individual of sufficient commonsense and no real inclination toward contrarianism-for-the-sake-of-contrarianism will maintain that the claim is silly and move on.  However, there is a bit of mathematical prestidigitation —and that’s precisely what it is, as I will show— presents an “argument” to the contrary of commonsense.  The argument requires that we do the following:

Let x be .9999…  Then, let the left-hand side (LHS) of our equation be 10x-x.  Also, let the right-hand side of the equation (RHS) be the same, not in algebraic terms, but in numerical terms: 9.9999…-.9999…=9.  Solving the LHS, we get 10x-x=9x.  The conundrum is that it should be the case, of course, that LHS=RHS.  However, if one divides LHS and RHS by 9, the consequent value is x=1, though, ab initio, we said that x=.9999…  Therefore, some try to conclude, .9999…=1.  Continue reading

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“The Great Gatsby” and Aristotle’s Four Causes

The Penguin Critical Studies Guide to The Great Gatsby has an interesting analysis of locations in Fitzgerald’s masterpiece —probably the standard interpretation of the symbolism of West Egg, East Egg, the valley of ashes, and New York City.  Since this is, no doubt, well understood, I leave it to the interested reader to look into said interpretation.  The purpose of this blog post is to explore a different interpretation, an Aristotelian interpretation of the feature locations in the book.  Admittedly, I am not particularly familiar with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s extended biography, and especially not his intellectual influences.  Yet, having done some research, I have not found an Aristotelian interpretation of any kind pertaining to Fitzgerald’s writings.  This is intriguing, because, as will be seen, imposing Aristotelian causes, as symbolism, onto the book makes for a consistent reading, and I would not be surprised to find that Fitzgerald did have some such symbolism in mind.  Continue reading

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Some First Impressions of “Being and Time” and a Few Suggestions for Studying It

I took quite a while in going through Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit (Being and Time).  Part of the reason was to give time to digest it, but another part was that Heidegger’s approach can make the head ache.  In particular, the language, which is often noted for its difficulty, whether one is reading it in English or German, is very cumbersome and makes for slow reading.  I think that a second reading of the text would go much more smoothly than the first, and, more than likely, two readings is necessary for the task of getting a grip of Heidegger’s ideas.  In the second part of this blog, I’ll give some suggestions for how one might make Heidegger more approachable and easier to understand, though it still requires one’s willingness to be highly involved with the text.  Continue reading

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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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Meillassoux: On the Road to Absolutizing Phenomenology

At a conference I presented at, held at Duquesne University, notable scholar, Adrian Johnston, stopped me in the middle of something I was saying.  ‘Whoa, whoa,’ he said (and I paraphrase), ‘but Meillassoux does away with phenomenology.’  What I had said prior is not important.  What is important are the words “phenomenology” and “Meillassoux.”  I really had no real clue what he meant.  I mean, I knew that Meillassoux threw Heidegger, a phenomenologist, in the correlationist brig with all the other correlationists (Kant, Berkeley, etc.), and I knew that I was referring to phenomenology qua assessment of phenomenal experience.  However, at that time —much has changed in a few months—, I knew absolutely nothing about phenomenology: nothing about Brentano, Meinong, Husserl, and the gang, and what their philosophies were all about.  Coming from the hard sciences, the reason I jumped on the opportunity to work with the Speculative Turn in philosophy was because it requires an extraordinary knowledge of contemporary and near-contemporary philosophy, which constituted a knowledge gap for me, and has done much to remedy that.  Continue reading

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Einstein at Leyden (1920): Making Sense of His Reversion to Ether

Einstein is often touted as the physicist to annihilate the idea of the ether.  This is peculiar, because it is as though the world stopped listening to his opinion on the matter prior to his reflections on general relativity (GR).  Einstein never got too excited about proclaiming that an ether, after the conception of GR, is necessary; but he did, nonetheless, make clear arguments, the details, philosophical and historical, I will try to fill in —if only even a few of them.  Continue reading

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Einstein, Poincaré, and Kant: Between Galison and Yourgrau

I find something deeply puzzling about Peter Galison’s Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps: Empires of Time.  In particular, this wonderful book develops the contextual settings in which the relativistic physics of Einstein’s and Poincaré’s physics were conceived, as well as the intellectual link that existed between them.  In brief, Galison makes clear the role that technology played in formulating the ideas of Einstein and Poincaré.  The hope of Europe was to establish a synchronized system of clocks, for economic reasons (e.g., train services without collisions due to timing issues), political reasons (e.g., von Moltke maintained that a strong relationship existed between German national unity and einheitzeit), and general technology concerns (e.g., inductance in wires can cause incredible and varying lag times in signal transmission, as a function of distance and current among other variables, in telegraphy).  Poincaré, having been educated at the École Polytechnique, possessed the “factory stamp” that their students possessed: even the mathematicians were essentially “mechanicians”. Einstein, educated at one of Europe’s leading technology universities and working in a patent office, machine patents abound, and Poincaré being thoroughly immersed in problems dealing with telegraphy (electrodynamics) and clock synchronization, Galison makes the claim that relativity theory is largely a product of the machine-minded science of the nineteenth century.   Continue reading

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