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Monthly Archives:

June 2014


1. Matthew Burstein has a blog, thought.o.matt, on “academia, media, philosophy, social institutions, teaching, and technology.” Included among the posts are his annotated syllabi for courses on queer theory, philosophy and film, and the moral dimensions of power.
2. Some updates on that class photo of Wittgenstein and Hitler (scroll down).
3. Chimps perform more rationally than humans in some game theory tests.
4. Duncan Richter goes in search of the prison cell of Socrates.
5. More on the philosopher who would be Argentina’s controversial “Secretary of Coordination of Strategic Planning for National Thought.” (previously)
6. The philosophers are playing Dungeons & Dragons and it is Ladies Night.
7. Could Facebook swing an election? Some new worries for political philosophers.
8. What’s the relationship between American Pragmatism and Chinese culture?
9. “We have a persistent subversion of female filmic stereotypes, particularly through drawing attention to the way in which they pervert male perspectives” — the philosophy of femme fatales in Christopher Nolan’s films.
10. The Lover’s Fallacy.
11. What is consciousness? “What is it? That’s not very hard. Well perhaps it is.” David Papineau on mind on the radio.

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1. Charts and graphs may have their place in philosophy, but this is taking things too far.
2. An angel comes to the APA and offers to answer one question…
3. An audio illusion, via Lewis Powell, who reminds us of these words from Locke: “We are further to consider concerning perception, that the ideas we receive by sensation are often, in grown people, altered by the judgment, without our taking notice of it.”
4. The late Professor Emeritus Charles Magel, who founded the Philosophy Department at Minnesota State University Moorhead, bequeathed $800,000 to the university for scholarships.
5. A high school ethics and philosophy program received an award from the University of New Hampshire Board of Trustees earlier this month.
6. “Our modern societies, which claim to be secular, are, on the contrary, governed by secularised theological concepts, which act all the more powerfully because we are not conscious of their existence.” — an interview with Giorgio Agamben.
7. As background there’s the simulation argument; then there’s the study suggesting the universe ought not exist. What else might count as evidence that we are not really here? How about a news story that is too funny to be true? It is SFW, but it is about getting trapped in a giant vagina (via a source who does not wish her name to be forever linked on the internet with the words “giant vagina”).
8. The creators of South Park animated some brief snippets of lectures from Eastern philosophy populizer Alan Watts.
9. There is a series of mystery novels featuring a detective, Nicolaos, who happens to be the brother of Socrates and (spoiler alert!) is engaged to Diotima.
10. A long rant on the whether philosophy has “access to the information it needs to solve the kind of problems it purports to solve.”
11. I dare you to watch this entire video. Is there a lesson here for teachers?

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Nearby Possible “Empty Ideas”

Peter Unger’s new book and recent interview have been in the philosonews a lot lately. Meanwhile, in a nearby possible world…

To start things off, could you say a bit about your book Empty Ideas, and what it’s about?
      Scientists easily get the idea that somehow or other, just by considering things about the world that they glean from observation and experiment..

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1. Tonight, some PBS television stations will be airing a documentary on Grace Lee Boggs, a 98-year-old social activist who holds a PhD in philosophy from Bryn Mawr.
2. Some of Jeremy Bentham’s writings on sex, which fit with the characteristically progressive program of early utilitarianism, have been published under the title Of Sexual Irregularities, and Other Writings on Sexual Moralityand you can read about it in The Guardian.
3. A press release provides a little more information on what the principals of The Experience Project grant are interested in learning about.
4. “These arguments have injected new life into a deterministic (as opposed to probabilistic) theory of the microscopic world first proposed, and rejected, at the birth of quantum mechanics.” Have we been wrong about quantum mechanics all along?
5. Unger explains what he means by “concretely empty ideas, whose emptiness owes to their analyticity.”
6. “The IRB might plausibly have decided that since the subjects’ environments, like those of all Facebook users, are constantly being manipulated by Facebook, the study’s risks were no greater than what the subjects experience in daily life as regular Facebook users, and so the study posed no more than “minimal risk” to them.”
7. The German professor who tweets philosophically as @NeinQuarterly is quitting academia.

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Philosophy Tag

Hey, remember Philosophy Tag? Someone got called home for dinner or something in the middle of the last game and that was that for a while, but now it is back, courtesy of Sara Bernstein (Duke). Let’s see who she has tagged…

Consider the following case, Battlefield: You are at the battlefield and see that some of your soldiers are about to be slaughtered by..

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Philosophy Tag

Last week, Sara Bernstein (Duke) made Roberta Ballarin (University of British Columbia) it. Who’s Ballarin going to tag? Let’s find out…

Atomicity is the thesis that everything is ultimately composed of atoms, entities that lack proper parts. Atomicity is standardly defined as “for every x there is a y such that y is an atom and y is a part of x”, i.e. ever..

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1. Don’t call your college students “kids,” says Sean A. Valles (Michigan State).
2. Jakob Hohwy (Monash), who works in philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology, and is the author of The Predictive Mind, is guest-blogging at Brains this week.
3. A thought experiment shows that the psychological arrow of time hooks up with the thermodynamic arrow of time and provides a useful definition of a memory, to boot.
4. Africa Must Be Modern, writes Nigerian philosopher Olúfémi Táíwò.
5. Can we learn anything from imagining what it is like to be a tick?
6. “Doping expresses the spirit of sport” — Savulescu on why we should allow performance-enhancing drugs in sports.
7. Brief report from the 6th Annual Wittgenstein Conference is good PR but it might be called “journalism goes on holiday.”
8. Four professors apply to share the job of university president.
9. Performance art: “Plato’s Porno Cave” — no, they don’t really mean porn, they mean, er, “fantastical idealized version of relations between human beings.” And no they don’t really mean Plato either, it seems (SFW, BTW).

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