Category Archives: Pure Philosophy

Cognition as Negation

The cognitive version of the onto-epistemic stance paper can be acquired by clicking on: Cognition as Negation.  Unfortunately, due to length restrictions, I had to summarize the original onto-epistemic paper, which has grown to forty pages, and try to slip in how I think it can be extended to cognition.  The headache of trying to organize the previous paper was trebly difficult, because I could not speak at length in this paper to describe in detail what was intended in: The Onto-epistemic Stance.  I included a couple of modified portions of the earlier text in this newer paper, which is being sent to the joint conference on cognition held by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.  As a result of the inordinate constraint placed on the text length of this paper, I did not have the space to do a ground-up presentation of how the onto-epistemic stance seems to be present already in cognitive science.  In fact, I am wondering whether the totality of the venture might not merit full monographic treatment.  With as little exposure as I have had to the sciences of mind, further research on, for instance, phonemes will assuredly thicken up the text, leading me to believe that a full-length endeavor might be necessary.

At any rate, please send me an e-mail or leave me a comment if you have any ideas on how to make the paper better, ideas that need to be explained further/clarified, or anything of that sort.

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

Reasons to Be Excited about Immanuel Kant, Or, Why Should I read Kant?

“Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”

–Immanuel Kant

There is one thinker that is, in my opinion, far and away, the greatest thinker of all-time —and I mean it isn’t even close: Immanuel Kant.  He improved Newton’s physics by coming up with the modern idea of inertia (and Newton’s physics, still using Aegilus Romanus’ vis inertiae, was a bit of a mess); the idea that there are other galaxies (“island universes”); a metaphysical foundation for Newton’s physics; in a way, resolved the outstanding epistemological debate between the empiricists (Bacon, Hume, Locke, and so on) and the rationalists (Descartes, Berkeley, Leibniz, and so on), giving a framework illustrating that there was another, more attractive option; created the synthetic-analytic distinction that permitted mathematics and morality a completely new classification over and beyond the mere a prior and a posteriori, namely the synthetic a priori; created (as far as I know) the only rationalistic absolute system of morality; provided the modern foundation for cognitive science; and developing some loose rules of thumb for the predication of attributes in logic (resolving the Anselm’s Argument debate in definitive fashion…see below), among many other things.  The Critique of Pure Reason is Kant’s most important work, and I think it is the single most important piece of scholarship ever composed; so I recommend starting there.  The general consensus is that first Critique is difficult to understand, but a decent piece of secondary literature and Pluhar’s translation should be enough to understand the major points of the work.  (Pluhar’s translation sacrifices some accuracy, but this should be of little matter to general readership.) Continue reading

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

The False Dichotomy of Theism/Deism and Atheism in Meillassoux’s “Spectral Dilemma”

One of the salient features of ideas I like to discuss is originality.  That is an attribute that I see in much of Meillassoux’s work, the primary reason for my continued fascination with him.  The idea discussed below is no different.  One item that I have to get out of the way before continuing is that the following post has to do with religion, and I have said in the past that I will not touch on religion or politics because of the degree to which humanity has turned them into ideological battlegrounds.  Therefore, in proceeding, one should be reminded of my epistemological stance (click here), before getting upset about anything I write.  It should also be noted that some understanding of virtuality (non-static ontology) is necessary to understand this blog post, so clicking here will provide the necessary primer.  Continue reading

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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

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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On Decision-Making Considerations in Light of Meta-Data with Dubious Ontological Status

(Note: With permission of the author, I have appended Roy Sorensen’s “The Practical Dogmatist,” and you may click here to view it.)

There was an interesting paper (a couple of them, actually) presented at the Sixth Midwest Epistemology Workshop hosted by Indiana University Bloomington.  The particular paper I have in mind, “The Practical Dogmatist” by Roy Sorensen of Washington in St. Louis, was very intriguing; but it was not all that well received by the IU Bloomington Philosophy Department.  My impression is that the paper’s importance was missed, and this impression is supported by some of the questions asked and comments made after Sorensen gave his presentation.  It could be that the paper is still in an early state of formation, inchoate in its development, but I think the merit in its line of thought can be seen.  It could very well have been the case that few had actually read the paper prior to the presentation. Continue reading

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The Time Traveller’s Instantaneous Cube

I offer for consideration a very interesting dialogue from the opening of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (Pocket Books, 2004, page 5).  The protagonist begins:

“You know of course that a mathematical line, a line of thickness nil, has no real existence.  They taught you that?  Neither has a mathematical plane.  These things are mere abstractions.”

            “That’s all right,” said the Psychologist.

            “Nor having only length, breadth, and thickness, can a cube have a real existence.”

            “There I object,” said Filby.  “Of course a solid body may exist.  All real things —”

            “So most people think.  But wait a moment.  Can an instantaneous cube exist?”

            “Don’t follow,” said Filby.

            Can a cube that does not last for any time at all, have a real existence?”

            Filby became pensive.

            “Clearly,” the Time Traveller proceeded, “any real body must have extension in four directions, it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and —Duration.”

The dialogue points to what is, in my experience, a much overlooked idea: that there is an interesting constraint applied to time by the first three spatial dimensions.  When we look around, we don’t see triangles, we see things that look like triangles.  This is the sort of thinking that led Plato to the idea of universal forms and the allegory of the Cave.  The dialogue points out an interesting question: Supposing that one can obtain, say, a platonic solid, what if it exists only for an instant —that is, no duration at all?  I don’t see this question come up often in the more academic forums; maybe it does and I am just missing it.  Continue reading

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