September 30, 2009
Philosophers' Carnival 97
The latest Philosophers' Carnival
at Camels With Hammers
with a link to my list of philosophical science-fiction stories
I will be hosting the next philosophers' carnival on Monday, October 19, so be sure to submit
a post by the deadline, Saturday the 17th!
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September 22, 2009
Philosophical Science-Fiction Stories: A Preliminary List
One of the main ways I was turned on to philosophy was via science-fiction, and I continue to be a big science-fiction enthusiast. I am most interested in the classic (c. 1935-1960) short stories, especially those of Theodore Sturgeon. I have been reading through the new Wiley-Blackwell Science Fiction and Philosophy volume, ed. Susan Schneider. This is a good collection of philosophical writing - both from the professional literature and from more popular writers - on topics that have a direct and obvious relation to popular works of science-fiction, with some great short fiction (including Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder"...
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September 18, 2009
Quote of the Day: A Source in Descartes for Berkeley's Visual Language Theory?
We must take care not to assume - as our philosophers [i.e. the scholastics] commonly do - that in order to have sensory awareness the soul must contemplate certain images [i.e. the species] transmitted by objects to the brain; or at any rate we must conceive the nature of these images in an entirely different manner from that of the philosophers. For since their conception of the images is confined to the requirement that they should resemble the objects they represent, the philosophers cannot possibly show us how the images can be formed by the objects, or how they can...
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September 17, 2009
Quote of the Day: Berkeley on Combining Ideas Into Objects
One of the big questions in Berkeley interpretation is how and by whom ideas or experiences get put together to form objects. (See, for instance, the end of Margaret Atherton's recent paper "'The Books Are in the Study as Before': Berkeley's Claims About Real Physical Objects".) I've just noticed an interesting passage in Berkeley that ought to be really important to this discussion, though I don't think I've seen it quoted in this connection: [I]t ought to be considered that number (however some may reckon it amongst the primary qualities) is nothing fixed and settled, really existing in things themselves....
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September 16, 2009
The New Cambridge Berkeley Volume
A brief review of George Berkeley, Philosophical Writings, ed. Desmond M. Clarke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). ISBN: 978-0-521-70762-6. 338 pp. $29.99 on Amazon. I recently acquired a copy of the new Berkeley volume in the Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy, edited by Desmond M. Clarke. Clarke's selection of texts is quite good. As far as I know, this is the only collection of its kind to include excerpts from Alciphron and Siris, and the excerpts are well chosen. From Alciphron, we have the Dialogue IV's divine language argument for the existence of God, and Dialogue VII's theory...
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September 8, 2009
Quotes of the Day: Berkeley and 'Functional Role Semantics'
The second approach [to intentionality on the computational model of cognition] is known as functionalism (actually, "functional role semantics" in discussions of meaning) in philosophy, and as procedural semantics in cognitive psychology and computer science. Functionalism says that what gives internal symbols (and external symbols too) their meanings is how they function ... This picture can be bolstered by a consideration of what happens when one first learns Newtonian mechanics. In my own case, I heard a large number of unfamiliar terms more or less all at once: "mass", "force", "energy", and the like. I never was told definitions of...
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