Articles #Dan Dennett


Transformation, the Situated Self and Philosophy of Physics

Transformation, the Situated Self and Philosophy of Physics

Most people, when they hear about determinism, imagine the universe as a whole unfolding with physical necessity from initial conditions that were laid down shortly after the Big Bang. There’s this metaphorical origin story that has God specifying the laws and then laying down each of the particles of which the universe was made at a particular position with a particular momentum, thereby fixing everything that will ever happen over the whole history of the universe. If one is thinking in this way, then one’s own life will appear as part of this unfolding totality and it seems that its sense of restless contingency will seem an illusion. If we take physics on its own terms, however, we come away with a very different picture of what determinism entails and our own place in the causal fabric of the world. Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jenann T Ismael

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A Mind With a View

A Mind With a View

About masculinist bias in epistemology: I’m a skeptic about this, at least about the specific allegations that have been made by some feminist epistemologists, namely that the individualism and abstractness of Western (or “Western”) philosophy is evidence of masculinist bias. First of all, men have dominated philosophy and religious thought throughout the world and throughout history, whether we’re talking dualism, monism, Taoist, or Hindu. So every epistemological tradition has been shaped, if any has, by the interests and self-conceptions of men. Secondly, there’s variation within the “Western” epistemological tradition, and that variation cannot be explained by gender differences. Wittgenstein seems perfectly OK by the lights of some feminists who criticize the Anglo-American (which is really German-Austrian-(and-only-after-the-Nazis-) Anglo-American, having been more or less started by the Vienna Circle). Marx and Foucault are revered. So if those men can transcend their masculinity and produce theories (or anti-theories, in the case of Wittgenstein), I don’t see why Descartes couldn’t as well. Thirdly – and we know this largely because of the groundbreaking work of my colleague, Eileen O’Neill – women philosophers had a large influence on the development of Englightenment philosophy... Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interview Louise Antony

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