Recently, Jordan Peterson did an extended interview with Bob Murphy. Peterson begins the interview by pitching it as a “two hour lesson in Austrian Economics”, but mainly, it was an overview comparison of the principles of Austrian economics against Marxism. It was difficult to dispute much of it. I’m already a proponent of free market capitalism, and I’m also fairly partial to Friedrich Hayek’s work (at least, as it is represented in The Constitution of Liberty, and Law, Legislation, and Liberty).
In a recent exchange between Douglas Murray and N. T. Wright on the Unbelievable? Podcast, Douglas poses the following conundrum: Is it the case that we are meaning-seeking beings, or, that we are meaning-seeking beings and there is meaning to seek? This, it seems to me, is the basic choice every man faces implicitly as a fundamental part of his maturation, and every philosopher faces explicitly as a fundamental part of his matriculation.
Critics of Rawls claim that his “original position” argument entails a special metaphysical conception of the self. The critics say that this metaphysical conception of the self in the original position thus renders it metaphysically loaded, contra Rawls. In Political Liberalism, Rawls argues against his critics, insisting that the original position was merely a thought experiment meant to aid in the intuitive realization of the principles of justice according to a uniform standard of fairness.
The human animal is thought by some to have a “divine spark” in him. What is this? I don’t mean in a metaphysical or definitional sense. I mean, what do humans do, what capacity do they have, what power are they endowed with, that sets them apart from the other animals so much so that they are thought to have this spark? Why on earth would anyone say humans are “touched by the divine”?
David Hume is famous for the “is-ought” problem, which comes from this famous passage, in his “Treatise on Human Nature”: In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when of a sudden I am surprised to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not.
As far as I can tell, when it comes to mind, there are four possibilities: Mind is an illusion. It doesn’t exist at all. We only think we’re experiencing ourselves consciously, because the particular arrangement of matter and energy that constitutes what we call the human mind, is constituted in such a way as to cause confusion between mere matter and energy and something else we call mind. Mind is an epiphenomenal or emergent property of certain arrangements of matter and energy.
I think there is a lack of subtlety in the modern debate around meaning and truth. People struggle with ham-fisted dichotomies and adversarial arguments that never go anywhere, because of this low resolution notion of meaning. I want to suggest that we think of meaning in three different ways, and that each of them has a context and a scope that is appropriate to that distinction. VALENCE Valence is the truth value of a proposition.
Why does causality work? (OR: What is change?) Modern physics offers a powerfully sophisticated description of the behaviour of matter, including extremely complex maths that gives us highly reliable predictive power. But, when you peel back the layers of that onion, what you find are wispy metaphors and “placeholder” terms at the core. The most popular, of course, are the terms “energy” and “force”. But, what is that? The common example of billiard balls provides a good illustration.
In the Physics, Aristotle says that we aim at understanding, which he says is to be able to give a full account of “the how and the why of things coming into existence and going out of it”. In other words, to understand something is to be able to give an explanation of how and why a thing changes. That explanation is what Aristotle means by ‘cause’. Today, thinking of explanation in terms of causes is not an alien notion.
This post is my first foray into the question of whether or not there is a God. Before I can begin to attempt an answer, I need to explore a deeper question. Namely, what is the nature of this question? What exactly are we asking, when we ask this question? I want to suggest that this question is best understood as a fundamental choice, and that the choice is not simply one of satisfying an ontological preference, but one of universal significance.
The so-called problem of induction, plainly stated, comes down to this: inductive reasoning appears to have no rational justification. Unlike deductive reasoning, which offers apparent justification in its formal structure, the form of an inductive argument can at best only offer probabilistic confidence, and at worst, no justification at all, if we examine it’s application in the context of, say, a causal explanation. To see why this is the case, let’s examine some formal examples.
The following notes are an attempt at outlining my basic thought process, to document my progress in the study of metaphysical realism, and offer the reader some food for thought. I offer it, as is. If there are any actual arguments in this post, it is purely by accident. If there are any answers to the problem of realism within this text, the reader is free to take them. A (Very) Brief History of What Is
I am working on crafting a meaningful answer to the question posed in this heading. But I have decided that the question can’t be answered until two subordinate questions can be answered. The first is “What is The Will”? and the second, “What is Freedom”? I am holding off on the latter question, for now. The following, is a compilation of my collected notes and remarks on the will itself. Hopefully, you’ll find it useful, too.
I discovered Steve Patterson by way of my YouTube recommendations some time in the late summer or fall of 2016. I’ve not yet listened to all of his back catalogue, but I have listened to a number of his great interviews and interview “breakdowns”. He recently self-published a short book called “Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge”, via Amazon’s CreateSpace. I love epistemology and logic, and I’m keenly interested in the growing phenomenon of “internet philosophers” (many of whom proudly proclaim themselves emancipated from academia).