• Laurence Edward Hooper added an answer:
    In Medieval philosophy, how did Bernhard of Chartres comment in his Glosses on Plato and Plato´s Republic?

    Bernhard of Chartres says in his Glosses on Plato, that such an ideal state cannot exist in this world. Is this now his own opinion, or does he refer to Republic IX 592ab? Because: As far as I know there was no copy of the Republic in his time, only Calcidius' Timaeus. So how could he refer to the Republic in such a detailed way?

    Laurence Edward Hooper · Dartmouth College

    The answer to your question is most probably that Bernard is referring to a passage in the Republic that he does not know directly but has seen quoted in one of the many authors listed in the previous answer. If I were trying to find the exact source, I would refer to the work of Stephen Gersh and Peter Dronke. Here are two starting points.

  • Ferenc Hörcher added an answer:
    Is Hume’s ‘progress of the sentiments’ to be understood as ontological or historical?

    In his Treatise, Hume refers to "a progress of the sentiments" (Book III, Sec. II). As I understand this, he takes it that we may develop a bona fide commitment to justice such that it can supplement or even contravene the private interests that originally gave rise to it (i.e., justice being a product of artifice). I take him to be making an ontological claim here rather than a historical one, particularly as he appears to regard our “suppos’d state of nature” as "mere philosophical fiction". Is there an alternate interpretation?

    Ferenc Hörcher · Hungarian Academy of Sciences

    Dear Mariane, I agree with your description of book one: indeed it starts our from epistemological questions, and arrives at ontological ones.


  • Geng Ouyang added an answer:
    Can philosophy of mathematics help in some way to solve following newly discovered Harmonic Series Paradox in present science system?

    The following proof (given by Oresme in about 1360), very elementary and important, can be found in many current higher mathematical books written in all kinds of languages.

    1+1/2 +1/3+1/4+...+1/n +...                                           (1)

    =1+1/2 +(1/3+1/4 )+(1/5+1/6+1/7+1/8)+...             (2)
    >1+ 1/2 +( 1/4+1/4 )+(1/8+1/8+1/8+1/8)+...                      (3)
    =1+ 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + ...------>infinity                                    (4)

    Paradox is there whether or not we can produce infinite numbers each bigger than 1/2 or 1 or 100 or 100000 or 10000000000 or… from infinite infinitesimal items in Harmonic Series by “brackets-placing rule" to change an infinitely decreasing Harmonic Series with the property of Un--->0 into any infinite constant series with the property of Un--->constant or any infinitely increasing series with the property of Un--->infinity.

    Here, with limit theory and technique, we see a “strict mathematically proven” modern version of ancient Zeno’s Paradox.

    Facing the newly discovered family member of 2500-year old Zeon’s Paradox------Harmonic Series Paradox, something should be done.
    We have now more than a dozen of “philosophy of mathematics”; they are not being for “after dinner or tea time talks” but for the healthy foundation of mathematics.

    What is “philosophy of mathematics” for?

    Geng Ouyang · MinNan Normal University

    Driven and powered by the newly discovered infinite related Harmonic Series Paradox, we have very clear target which is different from those of previous “just talks and writings”------hoping to solve some of the newly found infinite related fundamental defects in our mathematics (science, philosophy) through the discussions here.

    Facing the newly discovered family member of 2500-year old Zeon’s Paradox------Harmonic Series Paradox, something should be done.

    We have now more than a dozen of “philosophy of mathematics”; they are not being for “after dinner or tea time talks” but for the healthy foundation of mathematics.

  • Louis Brassard added an answer:
    So-called Top-Down-Causation: Old Aristotelian Wine in New Bottles?

    I have found anecdotal evidence --see below-- indicating that the Aristotelian notion of 'Causa Finalis' (a.k.a. teleological causation), which is not accepted as proper causation in the modern concept of science, is being advocated again under a new label, namely: 'Top-Down-Causation'.

    Though I am rather skeptical about this new teleological attempt --from a terminological point of view I consider it as an example of an inappropriate use of the word 'causation'-- I would like to discuss this problem with philosophers and experts from the life-sciences, or with any scholar who believes that that 'Causa Efficiens' alone (based on the transmission of energy) does not suffice for proper explanations in the natural sciences.

    For clarification: I am not interested here in the figurative-metaphorical use of the word 'causation', such as --for example-- in: "The fact that my manuscript was rejected by the editor 'causes' me to feel sad". Moreover I presume that participants in this discussion will have inspected at least one of the several attachments provided below.

    Louis Brassard ·


    I made the correction to the link in my previous post.

  • Sune Auken added an answer:
    Can you recommend readings on Bakhtin and genre theory?

    I am reading Bakhtin's "Problem of Speech Genre" and his Philosophy of the Act in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of his views on genre. Can anyone recommend additional readings, whether by Bakhtin or about his thought?

    Sune Auken · University of Copenhagen

    If your interest is Bakhtin's place in contemporary genre theory, I would recommend Anis Bawarshi & Mary-Jo Reiff: Genre (2010) (here: Its rendering of literary genre theory is rather unfortunate, but other than that it does a very nice job of mapping out Bakhtin's influence in contemporary genre theory. It will also provide you with suggestions (and a lot of them) for further reading.

    Bakhtin's essay on speech genres is actually one of the foundational texts in contemporary genre studies, beaten only by Miller's "Genre as Social Action" (1984), and, in a certain way, by Freedman & Medway's anthology "Genre and the New Rhetoric" (1994)

  • Paul M.W. Hackett added an answer:
    What is perceptual mereology?
    Is anyone aware of literature that considers what could perhaps be thought of as perceptual mereology? What I mean by this is a parts-whole account of how we perceive and understand our worlds, how we bring the parts we apprehend together to form the whole worlds as meaningful experiences? This question arose out of another question I posted and I wanted to share this with a wider audience.
    Paul M.W. Hackett · Emerson College

    Thank you Ryan, P

  • Oscar E. Quiros added an answer:
    According to Rancière, aesthetics would be an option for a sensitive platform for action (inter) disciplinary?
    Recently, different areas of scientific knowledge has subverted its boundaries acting to cope with the demands of contemporary society. What are the different interdisciplinary strategies used by different social actors, especially in the area of education?
    Oscar E. Quiros · Universidad de Costa Rica, Golfito.

    Your statement and questions appear to be fixed a-priori, thus it is difficult to comment on them because your premises are not facts.  As von Germeten indicated before, it would be better if you are more specific.  And hopefully do not base a question based on suppositions.  It could be an interesting topic of discussion if correctly approached.

  • Geng Ouyang added an answer:
    Researchers should be philosophers or have a matter of logic. What do you think?
    In our trip looking for the truth, does researching depend on philosophy or needs logic, and on the other hand, should all facts depends on logic?
    Geng Ouyang · MinNan Normal University

    Very good idea, Ms. Jeanan Shafiq!

    Theoretical things are expressed by words; and the carriers of the theoretical things are expressed by actions------ words, choices, responsibilities..

  • Andrew Messing added an answer:
    Does the term "stochasteon" (στοχαστέον) that arises at Topics VIII 5 have some normative role in this passage?

    The term appears in the first sentence of Topics VIII 5: "are evident now which should be (στοχαστέον) the goals / objectives of the respondent." And then Aristotle introduces a disjunction: every proposition put by the questioner must be either generally accepted (and that "generally" seems to appeal to the justification / rationale of the respondent) or generally rejected. After that follow the consequences of accepting or rejecting a proposition, namely that if the respondent accepts or rejects, must also assume that there is a total acceptance or total rejection, ie, it must stand as a kind of "universal respondent". After Aristotle also discusses the relationship between acceptance, rejection and relevance of propositions. My question is about the beginning of discussion to establish some normative way of thinking about the goals of the respondent.

    Andrew Messing · Harvard University

    Either I desperately need to brush up on my Greek or I am getting something else confused here. The line Φανερὸν οὖν τίνων στοχαστέον τῷ ἀποκρινομένῳ, εἴτε ἁπλῶς ἔνδοξον εἴτε τινὶ τὸ κείμενόν ἐστιν begins part 6 (159b 36).

    More interestingly, we have in this line two important and scarcely analyzed aspects of Greek grammar in this one line. Pheneron, the lexeme beginning the line, is one of several words commonly used in Greek in impersonal constructions ("it appears...","it seems", etc.). Impersonal constructions have, alas, received too little attention in General, let alone in analyses of classical Greek. An exception (of sorts) is Bauer's Archaic Syntax in Indo-European: The Spread of Transitivity in Latin and French, which aims to demonstrate that PIE was a language of the active type. One piece of evidence proffered concern the relative ubiquity of impersonal constructions in IE language (Es gibt, c'est, il est, there is, etc.) compared to their absence, at least in any readily comparable way, in non-IE languages. In Classical Greek, impersonal constructions are tied into a sort of fledgling modal system and show tell-tale signs of grammaticalization. For example, some common impersonal verbs appear only as such or almost always do: δεῖ, χρή, and ἔξεστι.

    Both –τέος/  τέον are modal inflectional affixes which “experiment la modalité de l’obligatif, où l’exécution de l’action verbale est présentée comme obligatoire" (Duhoux's Le Verbe Grec Ancien). They two are part of a Greek modal system and in particular one that I have come to refer to as prepontic modality (indicating/denoting suitability, propriety, and frequently blending with modal domains concerning obligation or necessity).

    It should be understood, then, that στοχαστέον cannot be adequately treated as a lexeme, as it is far more schematized and appears as an impersonal construction within another impersonal construction, both creating epistemic distance (profiling he statement as true/fact independent of the author). I would argue that the line is better translated as something close to "it is clear how the answerer should reply", treating στοχαστέον as semantically bleached. Perhaps this is taking it too far, but the important point is that the double impersonal modal constructions must be interpreted via the modal domains they construe. The force of the opening clause is not simply what is evident or apparent but what is clearly required or obviously necessary.

    The rest is fairly straightforward, as we have a list of rules concerning when a premise should be responded to as such. The first rule ("ἢ ἔνδοξον εἶναι ἢ ἄδοξον ἢ μηδέτερον") is not general acceptance vs. non-acceptance, but a tautology. Either the statement is accepted, or it isn't, or neither. Non tertium datur doesn't even hold here, as Aristotle is concerned with covering all possibilities. This is not true of the next condition which necessarily holds: relevancy. Either the premise is or isn't relevant and now there is no third way. And so on.

    But the opening line uses grammatical (or highly schematic/schematized and at least partially grammaticized) means to convey the necessary/obligatory and obvious state of affairs the answerer finds herself or himself in give any premise.

  • Marcel M. Lambrechts added an answer:
    Is 'optimal' science terminology required in science practice?

    In many research projects, phenomena are briefly observed, for instance to minimise impacts of human presence following observation or monitoring. For instance, phenology of nest construction in small box breeding passerines consist of several building stages, of which one is described as a 'pile of moss' expressed before the nest foundation is finished. The definition of this nest building stage is most often based on an individual impression without counting or measuring moss fibres. A 'pile of moss' therefore represents a human-invented class potentially reflecting numerous physical expressions of what observers name 'a pile of moss'. Does empirically measurable science terminology result from trade-offs between costs and benefits related to detail of measurement? Perhaps there is an 'optimal' science terminology that takes costs and benefits of measurement procedures into account. For instance, scientists might take the time to measure every detail of 'a pile of moss'. However, more detailed studies can substantially increase time or energy-expenditure devoted to measurement, and may have consequences for life-history stages following monitoring of a pile of moss (e.g. final nest structure, onset of egg laying, clutch size, ...).

    'Optimal' terminology taking costs and benefits of science measurement procedures into account would obviously express spatiotemporal variation. It also can explain why methods differ across publications dealing with the same scientific topic (e.g. avian nest building).

    Marcel M. Lambrechts · Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, Montpellier, France

    Is science terminology exact/precise enough?

  • Mohammad Firoz Khan added an answer:
    The universe: Superstructural alienation?

    Also one might think this is a joke I have already seen such a discussion. Unfortunately linked to physical discussions which maybe did arise out of a misunderstanding of the word "superstructure".

    However even we don't know yet much about the superstructure of the universe and much of what we can direct our thoughts to and it might for sure be extremly hypothetical obviously some people already want to discuss this topic and for this it could be worthy to ask ourself:

    How could superstructures of the universe be linked to Marx idea of superstructures? How could it affect the base?

    Literature and movies already seem to be ready to think about "new superior relations of productions" and they mostly describe a dystopic world in which we ultimately are going to ruin ourselves by the inventions we make. Either by improperly handling or totaly willing by minority groups. Likewise in 1984 we look mostly unlikly to do something against this box of pandora we opened. But as we are talking about superstructures this is all brought to a total new level of questions. The big question: What choices do we have?

    In the end it seems to be a question of cognition vs. feelings. F.e. hubristic scientific work vs. bounds we have with family and friends. To whom is it in the future directed to what we do?

    Are our ethical standards sufficient to face up to whatever we are going to invent? Or should we maybe learn this time from history and be a little bit faster? What new standards are you expecting when it comes to sciences?

    Mohammad Firoz Khan · Jamia Millia Islamia

    From Scott’s observation “Interesting that you note that sci-fi describes a dystopia of "new superior relations of production." Sci -fi movies must currently employ "new superior relations of production" between live action and animation. If science fiction's vision is the base, then the movie production is a superstructure which curiously creates an economic base and superstructure, a movie industry and a Hollywood lifestyle.”
    And from Carmen’s quote, "The benefits of a collaborative relationship are clear. For filmmakers, science advisers add a sense of realism and legitimacy to their creative vision. But perhaps even more important, scientists provide a window into the clear array of real-life science stories that are happening around us every day - all of which have the capacity to provide the inspiration for fresh, unique, and compelling narratives.
    And for scientists, The Exchange offers an opportunity to expand the reach of their work, moving their research out of the lab and into the public eye, offering the promise to improve attitudes toward science and galvanizing interest in further discovery."
    I draw conclusion, that Si-fic not only create base and superstructure of “movie industry and a Hollywood Lifestyle” but also superstructure of “Science” in putting goals of it and determining its direction of progress as religion and establishments, ethics etc. guide capitalist economy.

    Also see the link which has reference t0 Einstein as well as some interesting opinion about dark matter:|NSNS|2015-2102-AUS-febemi6_apac|content&utm_medium=EMP&utm_source=NSNS&utm_campaign=FebEmi6_APAC&utm_content=content

  • Closed account added an answer:
    Metaphysical naturalism (continued) - science and philosophy
    Taken to the letter, scientific realism is naïvely, even quaintly, optimistic about the contribution scientific accounts can make to metaphysical speculation. Indeed, while science can have metaphysical implications, we must – as Sklar reminds us - be wary of “reading off a metaphysics” from the “overt appearance” of some given theory; likewise, confirmation holism requires that we take into account the metaphysical assumptions – and the pre-theoretical intuitions - which underlay the initial formulation of the theory. Above all, we should bear in mind that a scientifically-refined notion might bear no relation either to our intuitive notions, or to our philosophical refinements of those notions. In the Stanford entry on ‘causal determinism’, Carl Hoefer reminds us that “neither philosophers' nor laymen's conceptions of events have any correlate in any modern physical theory. The same goes for the notions of cause and sufficient cause” and, in a note, that “some philosophers are misled on this point by the fact that some now-defunct presentations of Special Relativity theory seem to be grounded on an ontology of events. But Special Relativity does not need to be so presented, nor were the “events” used anything like common sense events”.

    Hoefer’s remarks are justified, but nonetheless require comment and elucidation. In a scientifically-refined theory (here, the contemporary theory or family of theories that are themselves refinements of Einstein's theory), it is indeed the case that there are no direct correlates for our intuitive or traditional philosophical understanding of either 'events' or 'causation'. For example, in special relativity, and given the limitations imposed by the speed of light, a light-cone shows what points lie in the 'past' of a point p, what points lie in its 'future', and what points are in its 'absolute elsewhere' (that is, no light from them can reach p). As such, this is nothing more than an informal description of the geometry of spacetime (not allowing, of course, for gravitational effects); it corresponds rather to a mathematical model than to a 'physical description of spacetime'. Similar observations found what Katherine Hawley has called ‘radical pessimism’ concerning the validity of scientific findings in metaphysical enquiry: the (primarily mathematical) models with which the scientist works are at best generalisations or approximations of conditions obtaining in the physical universe, and as such, are incommensurable with the entities and relations postulated in metaphysics. Yet are we really dealing with notions that are entirely incompatible?

    Evidently, when working within a given theory, on its implications for associated theories, and in peer-to-peer discussions within his speciality, the scientist tends to use a mathematical formalisation of spacetime. Nonetheless, in informal or semi-formal descriptions of spacetime (such as those used in teaching, in certain reflections on the interpretation of theory, and in presentations of the specialist's field when addressing scientists in other disciplines), the refined view is frequently related to (a semi-refined version of) the intuitive notion from which it is - however distantly – derived. Thus, the notion of light-cone is frequently introduced by discussing the 'events' which can 'influence' or 'be influenced by' some 'point-event'*. Likewise, the series of pairwise B-series orderings between point-events (that is, the series of events as ordered by the relations 'lies in the past light-cone of' or 'lies in the future light-cone of') is said to determine the 'causal structure' of spacetime. The adoption of intuitively-recognisable entities and relations in what have been called 'lies-to-children' should not mislead us concerning the probable incommensurability of these intuitively-recognisable elements with the notions adopted in the refined theory. Nevertheless, the characteristic of a 'lie-to-children' is that it is 'wrong for the right reasons' – frequently, in that it takes a local, but well-known, case of some more general feature and proceeds 'as if' that case held generally. The 'weight/mass' example illustrates this well. 'Weight' is a local semi-constant under common conditions on Earth which is entirely eliminated from the Newtonian account; nevertheless, we continue to employ 'weight' as a measurable quantity in our everyday discussions of the mass of commonplace terrestrial things such as gold funerary masks, sacks of potatoes, or American film actresses.

    Proto-scientific theories are often generalisations from entirely local features of some given set of phenomena; these local features are in many cases causally related to the regularities more properly described by one, or several, more refined theories (and in some cases by theories from widely differing disciplines). While it is certainly the case that the regularities underlying the distribution of mass and energy in spacetime bear little resemblance to the 'causes' and 'effects', or the 'objects' and 'events', of either our commonsense or our philosophically refined notions, the naturalistic view would nonetheless suggest that such everyday phenomena depend upon, or are determined by, the more fundamental regularities. While we cannot simply cite a given scientific theory in defence of some pre-established metaphysical position, is it perhaps possible that examination of the informal or semi-formal notions employed in the interpretation and exposition of the theory might nonetheless answer certain requirements of philosophical investigation into such areas as events or causation?


    In a recent paper (Casati, R. & Varzi, A. (2008) “Event Concepts” in T. F. Shipley & J. Zacks (eds.), “Understanding Events: How Humans See, Represent, and Act on Events”, New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming) Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi attempt to account for the "plurality of concepts" subtending the general category of 'event' as it is understood in our pre-theoretical intuitions; as it is understood in scientific revisions of our pre-theoretical intuitions; and as it is understood in the various philosophical discussions of mind, action, causation, change, time, and the like. Casati & Varzi refer the specific problem to the more general question of how our intuitive notions are taken up, refined – and, in some cases, superseded by - philosophical and scientific enquiry. Science, they suggest, departs from the phenomena postulated by our commonsense notions and examines them “with respect to exogenous empirical considerations”; it has no particular interest in saving or accommodating our pre-theoretical intuitions. Philosophy also departs from our phenomenal experience of the world; however, philosophical refinement of our intuitive or commonsense notions is dictated by “endogenous a priori considerations”, such as certain internal inconsistencies in some commonsense notion. Unlike scientists, philosophers are generally sensitive to the charge that their refinements run counter to our pre-theoretical intuitions about some phenomenon, and will scrupulously weigh the advantages of any given refinement against its cost in terms of subverting some commonly-held intuition. Many philosophers (and as many - if not more - scientists) would say that this divergence does indeed represent a fundamental difference in orientation between the two disciplines, and that the possibilities of dialogue are minimal. In philosophy, this is the view represented by – for example – Peter Hacker (Hacker, P. (1982), "Events and Objects in Space and Time”, Mind, 91), for whom "whatever utility such language [that of contemporary physics] might have for specialized purposes, it cannot incorporate our concepts of event or material object, for they are firmly embedded in our conceptual scheme, and intimately bound up with our ordinary notions of space and time" (cf. Hoefer's remarks above).

    Such objections would be justifiable were we to follow a strong scientifically realist programme, and attempt to subsume or to reduce philosophically-refined notions to scientifically-refined notions (as in the naïve hypothesis that mental phenomena can be subsumed or reduced to brain activity). Yet such simplistic positivism is a relic of another age. We have seen that, while a naturalist approach in philosophy can be seen as prolonging and developing on the scientific project, we are not justified in simply grafting the theoretical notions of physical science onto our metaphysics. If we follow Casati & Varzi's characterisations, the role of metaphysics should be to clarify our intuitive notions about the world and our place in it, and to investigate any inconsistencies we might find either within some intuitive notion, or between associated notions. It follows that any such project would also require that we compare our intuitive notions with our knowledge of the world, and it is perhaps here that we can find an area of fruitful exchange between scientific and philosophical modes of investigation. In an unpublished critique of contemporary philosophy of time, Craig Callender suggests an explanatory or mediating role for such investigation: philosophy should seek "to refine our description of what needs to be explained, carefully examine science and the way it treats time, compare the two, and then try to account for any explanatory gap that arises". Callender's suggestion – which, interestingly enough, he draws from a consideration of recent work in the philosophy of mind - strikes me as eminently reasonable. While the scientific refinement of a certain notion might evacuate all semblance of, or correlation with, the pre-theoretical or naïve intuitions with which the notion is associated in our everyday lives, there remains a philosophical requirement to explain any residual lacunae between, on the one hand, our best candidate for knowledge about a certain phenomenon and, on the other hand, our experience of that phenomenon.

    *Indeed, in their 2002 article "Ephemeral point-events: is there a last remnant of physical objectivity?" (Dialogos, 37), Pauri and Vallisneri remark on "…an unfortunate ambiguity in the usage of the term space-time points in the literature: sometimes it refers to an element of the mathematical structure that is the first layer of the space-time model, sometimes to the points interpreted as physical events".
    Deleted · University of Lyon

    If I may, you are right, the question is not grammatically present in Davis Hirst's exposition but his dissertation is interesting, involving and challenging philosophy towards new (or 'refined) physics'. The powerness and adequacy of philosophical concepts is challenged and the veritable question "how to describe" is not avoided, challenging not only philosophical concepts but also metaphors and any kind of description ! Challenging language and capacity of man to describe as a whole.

    This challenge, whatever the way of considering it, looks much like an aporia, so we have to come down to simple questions. For instance, when one says "philosophy should seek "to refine our description of what needs to be explained, carefully examine science and the way it treats time, compare the two, and then try to account for any explanatory gap that arises", we can try to answer, or to begin to answer.  consideratink key description and concept of "superposition d'état" (superposition of two states of thing in a thing) which is used in quantics or in Aspect's experiment. This key concept contests a key principle : Aristoteles non-contradiction principle (Metaphysics Gamma III 1005 b) which says that it is impossible that, at the time T,  for an element A got by a view V,  the same attribute (a i) of the A (a1, a2, ... ai... an) element would both belong and not belong to A.

    The concept of "superposition of state" which is used by physicians, if it supposes that a same particle has got, at the same time, on the same view, a state a i that belongs to A _and_ a state b i that belongs to A too (and not to B, as it should be) do not serve clarity of scientific experiments. We surely could have better (re-fined) descriptions of what occurs without neither necessarily darkening the point with physical concepts coming through largely refined equations ungettable but by physicians. (Will be said without any pretention)

    B. P. J. Desroches

  • Closed account added an answer:
    What do you think about the possibility of an exact fantasy?
    Imagination can be a powerful instrument of knowledge, like rational thinking. I think that an ontology based on exact imagination could be possible.
    Deleted · University of Lyon

    As for metamorphosis of plants, there are those which are - and therefore they are in the system of necessity - and there are those which could be...

    Your remark about spiritualization leads to Chauviers's "expériences en pensée", (which are different from Wittgenstein one's, but may be related to them).

    He writes (my poor translation) :

    "Sometime we make an experiment with thought by activating a decisional simulator and by locating ourselves mentally in this simulator; sometimes we make an experiment with thought by activating a simulator an explorator of exotic instances and by observing with mind what gets out of this. "To place oneself into" and "to observe mentally what gets out of it" represent the two elementary operations of imagination which fund any experiment of thoughts"

    Very powerful book to think organic synthesis, I assure you. But of course this is not at all a romantic or novalisian way.


  • Elena Sepúlveda I added an answer:
    Can literary studies increase creativity?
    One of the benefits of reading literature and engaging in literary studies is that it has the ability to increase inter-subjectivity and expand ones' own experiences. Does the expansion of subjectivity facilitate creativity and creative thinking, or are the benefits simply limited to the above.
    Elena Sepúlveda I · Complutense University of Madrid

    In my opinion any study helps to know how "work other" or new ways. Sometimes it increase that people want to feel with other experiencies.

  • Ian Eagleson added an answer:
    Are things and events such as color vision and intentionality part of what Kant calls the noumena?
    There are two pillars of consciousness, that of intentionality, which includes thoughts, ideas, desires, motives and goals. The other side of consciousness is that of phenomena, which includes sensations, perceptions and feelings. These are troublesome for philosophy of mind philosophers because things such as color vision, the redness of red is not physical but is mental; the experience of a red rose is different from the physics of it all, this is related to the "Mary Problem" and what Goethe was pointing out, which is that Newtonian vision theory gives us everything about the theory of light but what we actually see and also perceive as beauty. Another example would be pain. One can pinch another and watch the physics and the biology of it all, but never will that observer 'feel' that other person's pain. The C Fibers can be watched and the damaged tissue, and the signals to the brain but one can't feel the pain of another. Also, ideas and other intentionalities aren't like tables and chairs that you can poke, prod and measure. They seem mental. like perceptions of color and feelings. Furthermore, reasons seem different than physical causes in that if you take a brain, blow it up to the size of a building and walk in what one would see is fat, protein and water, which translates into mostly dendrites, axons and synapses. No where do we "see" and idea. I don't want to debate my metaphysics or my epistemology though please.

    However, what I want to know is if these two categories, that of intentionality and phenomena, as described above, fit into what Kant would call the noumenal realm.

    Thank you ever so much for any help you may give.
    Ian Eagleson · Delaware County Community College

    A noumenon, should such a thing be available to us, would be an intellectual object. (A256/B311)  But the very idea of such a thing breaches the conditions of sensibility (the possibility of spatiotemporal presentation). Yet the concept of a noumenon is not contradictory. We may deploy it; but we can cognize no object when we do. (Kant might say the concept has mere analytic significance.)  (He refers to it as a "boundary concept," indicating the limits of the understanding for cognition.)

    Ultimately, it (the concept) is a structural feature of maintaining the distinction between experience and the experienced.  But the idea of a noumenon can have no cognitive significance.

    It is not obvious to me that Kant could not accommodate a thoroughgoing dynamical account at the "empirical level," should physics lead us to this view. The core anti-Leibniz position comes from his position regarding space. Space, he argues, is neither relational (Leibniz) nor real (Newton) but transcendentally ideal. Any experiencer must have and contribute, he argues, its form of receptivity. This is the argument of the Transcendental Aesthetic. Space is our form of receiving "outer" presentations. 

  • Shian-Loong Bernard Lew added an answer:
    How exact is 'exact' in science practice?
    Many research disciplines like Ecology, Ethology or Psychology are considered soft sciences scientifically not truly 'exact' because of perceived complexity of phenomena investigated. But how exact is science in general from an empirical or scientific or philosophical point of view? That empirical observation always differs from theoretical prediction can be illustrated with simple examples. For instance, how many figures after the comma are required to match theoretical prediction concerning dimensions of simple geometric figures? Who decides on the precision of measures required? In other words, how exact is "exact"? Moreover, simple geometric equations describe triangles but how well do the theoretical predictions provided by the ancient Greeks match practice? If children or adults are asked to measure the same triangle drawn on paper, and they apply mathematical equations describing surfaces or perimeters of that triangle, there is definitely an observer effect. Deviations from the human-created theory might be caused by different factors. Measurement precision might change with the thickness of the lines constituting the triangle. Thicker lines might increase imprecision in measurement. The environment at the time of measurement influences perception therefore also determining how triangles are measured. More ambient noise might lower mental focus perhaps having impact on how triangles are measured in a class room. Evidently, precision in measurement will depend on material used.
    Thus, empirical measurement of the same triangle provides different results amongst observers even after controlling for support and environment.

    If the true nature of nature is indeed variation, human-invented 'perfect' triangles as defined in Mathematics can never be identified with empirical research practice. Why should human-invented theory be right and human practice be wrong? Who decides that human-invented theory not taking natural principles of variation into account is right? If one takes the reality of natural diversity into account, measurements, not the theory, are true. Alternatively, both practice and human invented theory might be considered true accepting all human products and activities result from natural processes.
    Shian-Loong Bernard Lew · Taylor's University

    To get a grasp on the inexactness of the sciences, it is already a norm to think of "doing science" as conjecture-making and the whole process of defense against falsification  (I am thinking along the lines of Karl Popper). In physics, the continual quest for a unifying framework and the tasks of integrating quantum mechanics with relativity has turned up many quagmires- such as the statistical nature at the quantum level and the related Heisenberg uncertainty principle. In mathematics, Godel's theorem dealt a blow to the axiomatic program. The quest for universality is tempered by the Duhem-Quine thesis, while the formalism of axiomatics has opened up seeming endless possibilities. So on both the empirical and axiomatic fronts, there are indications of the "controvertibility of truth". Thus the role of scientists becomes one of specifying the "range of tolerance" for truth in their field, as opposed to establishing doctrines written in stone. Some may go as far as arguing that the accepted "range of tolerance" is a function of the dominant paradigm (i.e. Kuhnian paradigm shifts).

  • Gazi Islam added an answer:
    Is there a difference between being "critical" and being "reflexive"?
    In the context of social theory generally, and critical theory more specifically. If so, how to best describe this difference?
    Gazi Islam · Grenoble École de Management

    Hello Katherine,

    Thank you for your comment - very useful!  I myself had been thinking of "critical" from the critical theory tradition, which does focus on issues of self-understanding, both in the sense of understanding the composition and limits of one's own thought (i.e. the Kantian tradition), and also the self-understandings of a society vis-a-vis its ideological and material composition.  Perhaps, from this point of view, I find it hard to see how it is possible to be critical without being reflexive, since "critique" in this sense tends to stress "internal" critique.

    I see, though, that if one takes critique to mean 'criticism', than this does not at all imply reflexivity, just opposition. 

    Perhaps a deeper question would be whether non-reflexive 'critique' (not criticism) is possible.  I suppose this would be the case of someone critiquing an system that is not one's own, so self-reflexivity would not be required to launch critique.  Yet even here, critique would imply being able to both understand the 'internal' point of view and see its limits, which would seem to require the critic to take up a reflexive position.

    At any rate, I think the two concepts should probably be seen as analytically distinct, but bound up with each other in a way that is quite intimate but not totally clear.

    Cheers, Gazi

  • Donald G Palmer added an answer:
    Is everything „quantum”?
    Some physicists say”everything is quantum”? Why would they say so? And what is the meaning of this sentence? No one doubts that quantum theory is successful. But from this statement it does not follow that everything is quantum! Therefore these physicists are making logically unjustified conclusions. Do they use quantum logic to ascertain conclusions that are only probable?

    The essence of the quantum formalism is algebra. A generic algebra, for instance a von Neumann algebra, has a nontrivial center – consisting of those elements that commute with other elements. The elements of this center correspond to what we may call „classical observables”. Algebras with trivial center are special; they are called „factors”. Why should we assume that algebra is governing our world, if there is such has a nontrivial center? What is the basis of such a bold assumption?

    It is true that every algebra can be decomposed into factors. It is true that every algebra can be factored by its center. But it is not true that such a quotient contains all the information contained in the original algebra. Some information is lost. Why should we lose information?

    Or, in easier terms: wave functions in quantum theory depend on parameters: space, time, and other numbers. These parameters are classical, not quantum. Of course operators of multiplication by functions depending on these parameters belong to the quantum formalism, but not the parameters themselves. Can a theory be constructed that has no classical parameters at all? No space, no time, no structure, no „nothing?” In such a theory nothing would ever be deduced.

    If so, why not accept that once the dream of „everything is quantum” is contradictory and self-destructive, why not to start with a more reasonable assumption that not everything is quantum and draw the consequences of such an assumption? If not everything is quantum, the what exactly is it that is not quantum? Space? Time? Group? Homogeneous space? Some geometry that organizes the algebra structure?
    Donald G Palmer


    How would you measure the distance between the sun and a cell in a human body? This is a distance measurement that should be a no-brainer in a strictly 3-D spatial universe.  However, the location of an object does require us to identify it's scale (a non-traditional 4-D spacial measurement). 

    Time will tell, which I will trust over your opinion.

  • De Rozario Pascale added an answer:
    Did Pascal read "De Cive" from Hobbes?
    I found no evidence in his biographies, but it seems to me very probable, as it circulated anonymously in Paris.
    De Rozario Pascale · Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers

    Ok Charlotte, on reste sur la réponse d'Y. Pesqueux.

  • Moritz Klenk added an answer:
    Did Adorno accomplish, what he sought to do with his major work on "Negative Dialectics"?

    In his book "Negative Dialectics" Theodor W. Adorno sought to provide a new approach to philosophical dialectics, based on and criticising Kant, Hegel, Marx, and rather destructive Heidegger. In doing this he tried to avoid any essentialistic manner and point of view, but could not help himself, but to choose rather polemic language when it comes to Heidegger or the Shoa and its consequences for philosophy. 

    The question, therefore, would be: did he or did he not accomplish a "negative dialectics", which truely avoids mistakes and essentialism that previous dialectics failed to see?

    Moritz Klenk · Universität Witten/Herdecke

    Sorry for this very late answer. I think that Adorno's polemic account and critique of Heidegger does not match the aim he seeks to accomplish with his negative dialectics. Polemic positions in general, the way I see it, create a radical distinction which as itself kind of resists the dialectic logic; at least, the dialectic method seems to be suspended when Adorno criticises Heidegger. In short: I think dialectic and polemic do not go together unless as by overcoming the polemic, which Adorno clearly did not accomplish in ND. 

    Also, I think that his general and admittedly very abstract idea of a good and righteous society, which seems a) possible - in one way or the other, but in the far future - and b) -which seems to me to be more problematic - possible for him to think,  contradicts his negative dialectics: truly negative would overcome the first dialectical synthesis, the idea of a good society, however, already is a basic concept for Hegel.

    Finally: recently I have read Emil Cioran, whom I consider also to have written in this tradition, yet certainly in a very different style. Yet here we can see, what this negativity could read like. For German readers I wrote this short text, more like an impression, but it's a blog, so it's fine :)

  • Marcelo Negri Soares added an answer:
    What is a spirit?
    Consider a rock for instance, a sculptor would see an angel inside it and he wants to set it free by carving it resulting in a beautiful angel. It is sometimes said that the rock has a spirit inside it which made it possible to look beautiful after carving it. This is one way of defining spirit. And the other way is by saying that a spirit gives life to an organism or any living thing needs a spirit inside it. These two definitions don't seem to be very friendly and so I am skeptical about them. My interpretation might not be accurate but please let me know what the word actually means.
    Marcelo Negri Soares · Universidade Nove de Julho

    I'll addres you what I believe, my philosophy is related with buddhism.

    Buddhism does not deny the existence of good and evil spirits. There are visible and invisible beings or spirits in the same way as there are visible and invisible lights. We need special instruments to see the invisible light and we need a special sense to see the invisible beings. One cannot deny the existence of such spirits just because one is unable to see them with one's naked eyes. Theses spirits are also subject to birth and death. They are not going to stay permanently in the spirit form. They too exist in the same world where we live.

    A genuine Buddhist is one who moulds his life according to moral causation discovered by the Buddha. He should not be concerned with the worshipping of these gods and spirits. However, this kind of worshipping is of some interest and fascination to the multitude and has naturally brought some Buddhists into contact with these activities.

    Regarding protection from evil spirits, goodness is a shield against evil. Goodness is a wall through which evil cannot penetrate unless a person opens the door to an evil influence. Even though a person leads a truly virtuous and holy life and has a good shield of moral and noble living that person can still lower his shield of protection by believing in the power of evil that would do harm to him.

    The Buddha has never advised His followers to worship such spirits and to be frightened of them. The Buddhist attitude towards them is to transfer merits and to radiate loving-kindness to them. Buddhists do not harm them. On the other hand, if man is religious, virtuous and pure in mind, and if he is also intelligent and possesses strong will-power and understanding capacity, then such a person could be deemed to be much stronger than spirits. The evil spirits would keep away from him, the good spirits would protect him.

  • Marcelo Negri Soares added an answer:
    The logic of time?
    Nothing is illogical. Everything is proof.
    Marcelo Negri Soares · Universidade Nove de Julho

    I think that you can find something there, on those books:

    Heidegger, Martin. "Basic writings: from Being and time (1927) to The task of thinking (1964)." (1977).

  • Brandt Dainow added an answer:
    Can suicide ever be for the best?
    In a paper I wrote about Kant's Categorical Imperative I quoted Shandon Guthrie who wrote this on something Kant wrote about a man committing suicide:
    "The dilemma is this: Either he takes his own life thereby thwarting the threat of ongoing dissatisfaction or he remains alive to face his situation. Kant states that the nature of feeling 'despair' is one which impels one to improve life (e.g. feeling bad requires one to do something to feel good). If he chooses to take his own life, he is actually universalizing the maxim, 'In order to love myself, I should shorten my life.'"
    Guthrie goes on to explain that "this maxim is a practical contradiction because the consequent works opposite to the antecedent". He argues, as does Kant, that killing oneself does nothing to improve one's life.
    A few years ago Mitchell Heisman spent years working on a 1,905 page book he called Suicide Note in which he made more than 200 references to Nietzsche, included 1,433 footnotes, and a 20 page bibliography. All of this taken from a news article I read on it. I haven't read the book, you can if you like here:
    I'm not an expert on suicide but Heisman is the first suicide case I've heard of where the person spent years contemplating it. I suppose it's a bit unfair to carry on without reading his book but I think the effort and time spent on the subject is, by itself, enough to talk about. Is suicide more rational then most of us think? Is it like other psychological disorders where years from now it will not be considered insane to wish yourself dead? What are your thoughts on this?
    Brandt Dainow · National University of Ireland, Maynooth

     This is a question of consequences.  The question is "are there circumstances where my suicide will produce better outcomes than my continued existence?"  It seems to me obvious that, if one's continued existence will do more harm than good, then suicide is the best choice and a rational one.  When a soldier or emergency worker willingly and knowingly sacrifices their life to save others, they have committed a form of suicide, yet we praise their "sacrifice."  Similarly, would it not have been best if Hitler had committed suicide rather than become leader of the Nazi's?  When a political prisoner refuses food as a political protest and eventually starves to death, they have committed suicide, but we do not accuse them of being irrational or insane.

    In cases where people commit suicide to avoid mental or physical pain, it seems to me this can also be a perfectly rational decision.  Even if the pain will not last forever, it is a simple comparison of current suffering against the value of future non-suffering.  It may be that someone decides that the pain of current suffering is too high a price to pay for future non-suffering.  There is nothing inherently irrational in such a decision.  It may be that an individual makes such a decision irrationally, but it is not a logical necessity that every such decision be irrational.

    People often place principles above their own life knowing this will lead to their death.  They are often praised for doing so.  To treat all suicides under all circumstances as irrational or a form of mental illness fails to grasp the complexity of the issue.

    Some people value life above everything else.  Others do not - they require some quality in that life to make it worthwhile.  For many people, mere existence is insufficient.  We may not agree with them, but that, in and of itself, does not make them irrational.

  • Mikkel C Vinding added an answer:
    What are the current arguments to prove predetermination?

    There are a lot of arguments over predetermination and free will.

    I would like to know about the recent ones

    Mikkel C Vinding · Aarhus University

    To get a glimpse of the contemporary debate of determinism and free will try looking at some of the works from Robert Kane, Galen Strawson and Daniel Dennett. There are many others, but these three represents the main points (I think).

  • Vitaly Voloshin added an answer:
    Questioning the known and the unknown simultaneously is what will drive higher education forward. What do you think?
    This method brings students with diverse ideas together and helps professors teach them to solve questions with no current answer. A student may not know the answer to a problem, but if they know how to engage with fellow students and professors to work on a solution, they will be ready to tackle real-world issues.
  • Mary Keeler added an answer:

    Section II of “The fixation of belief” [2] opens dramatically with a one-premise argument—Peirce’s truth-preservation argument PTPA—concluding that truth-preservation is necessary and sufficient for validity: he uses ‘good’ interchangeably with ‘valid’. He premises an epistemic function and concludes an ontic nature.

    The object of reasoning is determining from what we know something not known.
    Consequently, reasoning is good if it gives true conclusions from true premises, and not otherwise.

    Assuming Peirce’s premise for purposes of discussion, it becomes clear that PTPA is a formal fallacy: reasoning that concludes one of its known premises is truth-preserving without “determining” something not known. It is conceivable that Peirce’s conclusion be false with his premise true [1, pp. 19ff].
    The above invalidation of PTPA overlooks epistemically important points that independently invalidate PTPA: nothing in the conclusion is about reasoning producing knowledge of the conclusion from premises known true: in fact, nothing is about premises known to be true, nothing is about conclusions known to be true, and nothing is about reasoning being knowledge-preservative.
    The following is an emended form of PTPA.

    One object of reasoning is determining from what we know something not known.
    Consequently, reasoning is good if it gives knowledge of true conclusions not among the premises from premises known to be true, and not otherwise.

    PTPA has other flaws. For example, besides being a formal non-sequitur, PTPA is also a petitio-principi [1, pp.34ff]. Peirce’s premise not only isn’t known to be true—which would be enough to establish question-begging—it’s false: reasoning also determines consequences of premises not known to be true [1, pp. 17f].
    [1] JOHN CORCORAN, Argumentations and logic, Argumentation, vol. 3 (1989), pp. 17–43.
    [2] CHARLES SANDERS PEIRCE, The fixation of belief, Popular Science Monthly. vol. 12 (1877), pp. 1–15.
    Q1 Did Peirce ever retract PTPA?
    Q2 Has PTPA been discussed in the literature?
    Q3 Did Peirce ever recognize consequence-preservation as a desideratum of reasoning?
    Q4 Did Peirce ever recognize knowledge-preservation as a desideratum of reasoning?
    Q5 Did Peirce ever retract the premise or the conclusion of PTPA?

    Mary Keeler · University of Washington Seattle

    I don't know if this helps (because I think the question entails Peirce's developed ideas, beyond what we find in that—very early—"Fixation" essay), but here's what Terry Moore (U. of Tenn.) writes from a "Richard Smyth perspective" on Peirce:

    I don’t know whether it would do any good or not to send him my/Smyth’s answer (see below the listed questions). I certainly see why he thinks Peirce had a problem. Feel free to forward it if you want, but I don’t have time right now to follow up with him. (You can send him a pointer to

    My brief answers to his questions are in-line below.

    Q1 Did Peirce ever retract PTPA?
    No, I don’t think so. If you believe that it’s part of his general idea that “all valid reasoning is of one general form,” then it’s there from his earliest published essays and I don’t think he ever changed his mind about it. By way, the rest that first paragraph of section II of Fixation shows that the PTPA is closely connected with Peirce’s anti-psychologism.

    It’s true that “P, therefore P” doesn’t seem to be going from known to not known; but it’s a limiting case. The point is that it’s not making you any stupider.

    Q2 Has PTPA been discussed in the literature?
    If I’m right, Smyth’s discussion of “A Reduction Thesis for Reasonings” counts on this front. So yes.

    Q3 Did Peirce ever recognize consequence-preservation as a desideratum of reasoning?
    Not sure what “consequence preservation” means.

    Q4 Did Peirce ever recognize knowledge-preservation as a desideratum of reasoning?
    “P, therefore P” would seem to be knowledge preserving, if P is assumed to be known.

    Q5 Did Peirce ever retract the premise or the conclusion of PTPA?
    I don’t think so.

    Smyth has an answer to the problem he’s raising:

    “Proposition 10 (A Reduction Thesis for Reasonings): There are analogues of the deduction-theorem for each form of valid reasoning so that, if one assumes that any reasoning (deductive or non-deductive) is valid, then from that assumption one can derive the truth of a corresponding generalization, and when that (putative) truth is added, as a new principle, to our original stock of assumptions the given reasoning can always be replaced by a valid deduction. (p. 141 of RPR_pdf)”

    This is Smyth’s way of explaining Peirce’s claim that “all valid reasoning is of one general form” in Some Consequences:

    “Finally, if the conclusion differs from either of its premisses, both in subject and predicate, the form of statement of conclusion and premiss may be so altered that they shall have a common term. This can always be done, for if P is the premiss and C the conclusion, they may be stated thus:

    The state of things represented in P is real, and
    The state of things represented in C is real.
    In this case the other premiss must in some form virtually assert that every state of things such as is represented by C is the state of things represented in P.

    All valid reasoning, therefore, is of one general form; and in seeking to reduce all mental action to the formulæ of valid inference, we seek to reduce it to one single type. (my emphasis)”
    In other words, if you add a premise to any abduction or induction, assumed to be valid, a hypothetical proposition that expressed the connection between the premise(s) and conclusion of that abduction or induction in, then you get a valid deduction.

  • George Stoica added an answer:
    Can a scientist be good exclusively in science without being good in humanities (literature, philosophy, art, etc.)?
    Science is a body of ideas and concepts which are often highly philosophical and which need advanced language to deal with. Before the modern era scientists were absolutely complete as e.g. Leonardo da Vinci and many others. What is your opinion about this since now we are seeing students who need google to write the smallest single text?
    George Stoica · Canada

    Yes, I know people that fit the "profile" in your question. I know people that fit "the reverse profile": they are very good in humanities, yet not so good in sciences. I also know a third category: those who think they belong to a category listed above (as they say: watching ballet does not make one a ballerina!).

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