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Note that, as you can tell from the URL Eric links to, there is also a newer version of my neglected paper:
The main point here is not to distinguish between Plato and the historical Socrates, but distinguish between Plato and the character Socrates, as well as: between what the character Socrates says and what he does. Admitting or claiming that the Stoics "disagree with Plato" over Socrates does nothing to help with those distinctions.
In a century, Analytic philosophy has generated plenty of figures who ought to be central to "M&E" as well as to "value" — that is, more properly, to theoretical as well to practical philosophy. For example: Stanley Cavell. For another example: David Lewis! The fruit has been picked, but there is no stomach to digest it.
This is admirable, but he might want to consider first some steps to address similar concerns of a more urgent nature. For example: (1) turn down (the possibility of) getting published in ("top") journals; (2) turn down (the possibility of) getting his undergraduates admitted to ("good") graduate programs and his graduate students hired by ("good") departments; (3) turn down (the possibility) of getting his program a better Leiter rank; (4) turn down (the possibility of) receiving pay for teaching philosophy; (5) live in a barrel, masturbate in public, and, if Alexander the Great comes by and asks what he can do for him, reply: "get out of my sun."
Another part that needs answering is: Carnap’s “principle of tolerance” was an invitation to triviality. As Russell put it, “God exists,” “God doesn’t exist” — no problem for Carnap, just different languages. For Carnap, as for Heidegger, the problem of how we shall speak is the problem of how we shall be. No problem is less trivial for him. To mistake such a problem for a theoretical question which can be answered using such "the tools of the a priori," is, from Carnap's point of view, precisely to trivialize it, if not worse. And while we're on the subject of those tools: I agree with Descartes and Kant, among many others, that the philosophical a priori is other than the mathematical. Other and more difficult, perhaps even impossible. Nevertheless, what Glymour says about "intuitions" is exactly right, and he's right, too, to say that we should expect philosophers to know something about mathematics and programing (but we should expect them to know other things, too, e.g. Greek).
It's amazing how much of what he says seems right on the mark to me, and yet how wrong the overall moral. Leaving aside the thing about Continental philosophy (which is silly as written but, if anything, underestimates the magnitude of the problem posed by Heidegger's politics): the idea that philosophy's roll is to patrol science for "hidden presuppositions, equivocations, bad arguments generally" or to free it from "disciplinary blinkers" strikes me as a dead end. Scientists tend to think and argue in a way which looks wrong, not only to philosophers, but even to mathematicians. But while mathematicians are free to rant and rave about that (and to be forever surprised when all the scientists' dumb error cancel each other out in the end), the duty of philosophy is to understand it.
Also, although this kind of structure can sometimes be traced de facto to philosophy (for example, the concept of mass originated in attempts to explain thermal expansion of the consecrated host), but I don't think philosophy has a de juris role in that respect. The gist of my points 8 and 11 is that physical science exposes such structure to empirical test. As you may recall, I agree with Popper to this extent, that the rational status of scientific theory derives from its testability.
Without having read all of the above, I just want to say: I haven't read Arntzenius and Dorr and I actually doubt that whatever new structure they introduce (if any) is empirically justified. I'm not defending them; just responding to Azzouni's reasons for attacking them.
Skef: It can happen, and maybe not very rarely, that I learn more about the meaning of what I've said by learning what was said before that. See Lewis, "Scorekeeping in a language game."
Encouraged as I was by your recent (private) assurance that we're in agreement on this, I still can't shake the sense that we disagree with Pasnau from opposite directions. It seems to me that the division of labor you're talking about is already largely in place and that it's a disaster both for the understanding of "our" philosophical problems and for the understanding of historical texts. Rather than lobby to reinforce it and give each side equal status, I would do away with it completely, if I could. When I compare, say, Simplicius or Avicenna or Thomas or Brentano on Aristotle to the work of our current hyperspecialized "AOS: Ancient" crowd, or Hegel or Natorp or Heidegger on Kant to the products of Kant scholarship, it seems to me that the former are better *in every way*. It's not just that their interpretations are more philosophically usable (and immediately so: there's no need to go searching around for a "pay-off") but also that, despite various obvious biases and ulterior motives, and despite, in some cases, having no access at all to the original texts, they still manage to "get it right" more often. I conclude that, however important careful philology may be, it's not nearly as important in interpretation of philosophy as is being a good philosopher yourself. As for contextualism: I agree that, to understand a given philosophical text well, you need to read and know other things. But, given that there is so vastly much to read and know, we have to decide on priorities. In other words, the question is not: will we understand Locke better if we know about his seed collection? Of course we will. The question is: given that I can't do both, should I find out about his seed collection or, say, read William of Occam? The existing division of labor between history and "contemporary," and, even more so, the existing and ever-increasing division of labor within history itself, always along chronological lines — these tend to favor one principle of selection over others. If you have to spend years becoming an expert on the religion, culture, social structure, idioms, etc. of, say, Germany between 1750 and 1800, not to mention all the mediocre German philosophy of that period, then you aren't going to take very kindly to the suggestion that you should really read Galen in Arabic. In fact (and this is what we see) you'll make argument after argument for the irrelevance of anything like that. But to my mind the principle is wrong and the division of labor which encourages it is therefore destructive. Finally, on the question of how philosophical terms and debates have changed their meaning, I think first of all that this tends to be greatly exaggerated. The history of philosophy is short. There are rarely more than one or two steps between philosopher A and philosopher B. But, secondly, to the extent that this does happen I would take it rather differently than you do. It's not so much that "intellectus" and "actus" aren't always accurately translated as "intellect" and "act"; rather, we don't always use philosophical terms — for example, "intellect" and "act," which are just the same words as "intellectus" and "actus" — in their strict and proper senses. Among many others, one reason to read in the original is that one may thereby learn how to use "our" philosophical terminology correctly.
Neither entirely unlike nor entirely like, I agree.
I should add: the fact that contemporary "theistic" philosophers of religion are not (to my knowledge) regularly suspected of atheism, heresy, and/or of θεοὺς οὓς ἡ πόλις νομίζει οὐ νομίζειν, ἕτερα δὲ δαιμόνια καινά, is a pretty clear sign that something is wrong.
Justin: First, without wanting to cast doubt on the interest of the approach you're proposing, I think it vastly understates the problems of the contemporary AOS philosophy of religion to say that it's practitioners haven't considered this one possibility. The fact is that not only Mauss et al. but almost anyone worth reading in the entire history of philosophy has more sophisticated things to say about their subject matter than they do. One advantage of the method you're talking about is that it would actually be about religion (whether or not it would be philosophy is another question, as you point out). What is now called philosophy of religion is not about religion at all, but rather about a few little scraps of metaphysics, absurdly cut off from all the rest. Disastrous results are predictable. For that reason I think your analogy is not so good. The question here is not so much like your question about the tjurunga. It's more like, for example: "Is the world really composed of material substances, and if so what are they?" The issue is about whether and how we should now apply an ancient, fundamental philosophical concept. (So you see this is related to my response to your previous post about weltliche Weisheit ohne Gott.)
I haven't read this all carefully yet, but: seemingly the best standard of comparison for a 12th c. Indian text would be someone like Avicenna or maybe Al-Jāḥiẓ, rather than Aristotle?
τὸ δὲ κινδυνεύει, ὦ ἄνδρες, τῷ ὄντι ὁ θεὸς σοφὸς εἶναι, καὶ ἐν τῷ χρησμῷ τούτῳ τοῦτο λέγειν, ὅτι ἡ ἀνθρωπίνη σοφία ὀλίγου τινὸς ἀξία ἐστὶν καὶ οὐδενός. καὶ φαίνεται τοῦτον λέγειν τὸν Σωκράτη, προσκεχρῆσθαι δὲ τῷ ἐμῷ ὀνόματι, ἐμὲ παράδειγμα ποιούμενος, ὥσπερ ἂν εἴποι ὅτι “οὗτος ὑμῶν, ὦ ἄνθρωποι, σοφώτατός ἐστιν, ὅστις ὥσπερ Σωκράτης ἔγνωκεν ὅτι οὐδενὸς ἄξιός ἐστι τῇ ἀληθείᾳ πρὸς σοφίαν.” (Apology 23a-b) Not in English, not by a representative of the present age, by someone whom (I take it) you don't consider your social or intellectual inferior, and I didn't have to get out of my chair to find it. What are you doing hunting for this in Ultima Thule? And what does it have to do with religion (as opposed to philosophy)?
And Thoreau says this (addressing both the thug problem and the tedium problem, perhaps): "I was never molested by any person but those who represented the State. I had no lock nor bolt but for the desk which held my papers … And yet my house was more respected than if it had been surrounded by a file of soldiers.… Though many people of every class came this way to the pond, I suffered no serious inconvenience from these sources, and I never missed anything but one small book, a volume of Homer, which perhaps was improperly gilded, and this I trust a soldier of our camp has found by this time. I am convinced, that if all men were to live as simply as I then did, thieving and robbery would be unknown. These take place only in communities where some have got more than is sufficient while others have not enough. The Pope's Homers would soon get properly distributed." In our time it seems certain that his house would have been vandalized, however.
The lolcat phenomenon is a fundamental manifestation of the human spirit which would be difficult indeed to suppress. Even well short of her second birthday, my daughter already says "'puter, picture, kitty cat?" whenever the laptop comes out. The issue about state violence confuses me, I admit. It's hard not to believe, and almost everyone who's given thought to the issue for millennia now has believed, that life is generally more peaceful and secure within a state. And yet if you average over history, I see your point. (Socrates does take a view like yours in the Republic, as I understand it.)
Also: it may well be that post-state society would be much more violent than pre-state society was (again medieval Europe looks like a good example of this). The systems you mention (shame, elders, etc.) are not in place, and look hard to create from scratch, especially given that the people now living near you are not related to you in any way except as fellow citizens. And one more point: you probably wouldn't need to appeal to the Zomian highlands to argue that, e.g., a retirement age which remains constant regardless of demographics is not among the minimum requirements for a just society.
Could the network you like (the Internet) be maintained without the ones you don't like (highways, air traffic — also trains, I guess, unless I'm missing some reason that's much easier)? What happens when a section of fiber optic cable needs to replaced? Local artisans make it from scratch? And where do integrated circuits come from? And who is updating Wikipedia articles, in English, about languages of Southeast Asia? Do they have to travel to Southeast Asia in a dugout canoe, or what? Even older tedium-relief technologies, such as the book, are rather hard to keep going without a state, as the experience of medieval Europe seems to show.
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Oct 26, 2010