March 29, 2008

Berkeley: Phenomenalist or Platonist?

Commentators have long recognized the existence of two distinct strains of thought in Berkeley's discussions of how our perceptions give rise to something that is properly called a world. According to the phenomenalist strain, the world is quite simply composed of perception and it becomes a world, rather than simply an unrelated collection of perceptions, by means of the orderliness with which God causes perceptions. According to the Platonist strain, the world (and each object in it) has an archetype in the divine mind and our perceptions are perceptions of the world because what we perceive is an "ectype" of that archetype...
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March 27, 2008

The Philosophers' Carnival Returns to blog.kennypearce.net

The 66th Philosophers' Carnival is coming up this Monday at The Uncredible Hallq. The Philosophers' Carnival is a bi-weekly roundup of blog posts on subjects related to academic philosophy including, but not limited to, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political theory, "continental" philosophy and the history of philosophy. Submissions are due online every other Saturday for inclusion in the carnival the following Monday. Following the Uncredible Carnival 66 this Monday, Philosophers' Carnival 67 will take place here at blog.kennypearce.net on Monday, April 14 (submissions due by Saturday April 12). Some of you may recall that I had previously hosted Philosophers' Carnival 31. The 67th carnival will be focused on the theme of "idealism"...
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March 20, 2008

Quote of the Day: A Hymn for Maundy Thursday

At the Lamb's high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious King,
Who hath washed us in the tide
Flowing from his pierced side;
Praise we him whose love divine
Gives his sacred blood for wine,
Gives his body for the feast,
Christ the Victim, Christ the Priest.
...

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Supreme Court Upholds I-872!

Overturning the district court and the Ninth Circuit rulings, the US Supreme Court has upheld Washington's modified blanket primary! According to the Seattle Times (HT: Scotus Blog), the political parties are "fuming". Good. I hope to write a detailed analysis of the opinions, and my opinion of them, after Easter, but for now, here is a brief summary of the three opinions filed...
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March 18, 2008

Obama on Race and Religion

Video and transcript of Obama's big race speech, delivered in Philadelphia today (no, I wasn't there) is now available from the campaign web-site. I haven't taken time to watch the whole speech, but I read the transcript and watched the highlights that Richard Chapell posted on his blog. His speechwriters deserve to be commended. (I have this foolish hope that perhaps he wrote it himself, but this is not the norm in modern American politics.) It is a fine example of rhetoric in the good sense: the skillful presentation of actual substantive content in a moving and inspirational way. Furthermore,...
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March 15, 2008

Berkeley's Theory of Reference and the Critique of Matter

George Berkeley is well known for his critique of matter. By "matter" he means Locke's "material substratum." At the end of the Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous he actually does acknowledge that one might use the word "matter" simply to mean "the stuff of the physical world" (that's not a direct quote) and he doesn't object to this, so he actually isn't opposed to the way the word was used in your physics or chemistry classes, but only to the way it was used in early modern metaphysics. The critique of matter is tied up in the critique of...
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March 12, 2008

Telecom Immunity and "Lex est Rex"

The most recent Electronic Frontier Foundation newsletter contains a couple of links on telecom immunity which allude to an argument against telecom immunity that I want to expand upon. Many people think that the basic principle of democracy or of a free society more generally is "majority rule" or some such. However, this is not historically how the matter has been viewed, and history in fact furnishes plenty of cases in which majority rule has not been particularly consistent with freedom. Classic liberals - the early modern thinkers who gave us the foundations of western democracy - had a different view...
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March 7, 2008

Quote of the Day: Chrysostom on Private Scripture Reading

I desire to ask one favor of you all, before I touch on the words of the Gospel; do not you refuse my request, for I ask nothing heavy or burdensome, nor, if granted, will it be useful only to me who receive, but also to you who grant it, and perhaps far more to you. What then is it that I require of you? That each of you take in hand that section of the Gospels which is to be read among you on the first day of the week, or even on the Sabbath, and before the day...
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March 3, 2008

"'Trust' without action is dead"

I was listening to a sermon on James 2 last night, and I was thinking about how much clearer the passage would be if pistis and it's cognates were translated consistently by "trust" and its cognates rather than by "faith" in the noun form and "believe" or "have faith" in the verb. Let me demonstrate. Here is my translation of vv. 14-25: What good is it, my brothers and sisters[1], if someone claims to trust, but does not perform [any] actions? Is that 'trust' able to save him? If there exists a brother or sister and they[2] are naked and...
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