Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Kantian Conceptualism/Nonconceptualism

[New Entry by Colin McLear on May 27, 2020.] One of the central areas of dispute in the reception of Kant's critical philosophy concerns his distinction between the cognitive faculties of sensibility (Sinnlichkeit) and intellect (Verstand), and their characteristic representational outputs - viz. intuition (Anschauung) and concept (Begriff). Though the dispute is multi-faceted, it centers on disagreement concerning the interpretation of Kant's conception of the contribution made by the higher cognitive faculties (or [More]

Spinoza’s Psychological Theory

[Revised entry by Michael LeBuffe on May 26, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] In Part III of his Ethics, "On the Origin and Nature of the Affects," which is the subject of this article, Spinoza addresses two of the most serious challenges facing his thoroughgoing naturalism. First, he attempts to show that human beings follow the order of nature. Human beings, on Spinoza's view, have causal natures similar in kind to other ordinary objects, other "finite modes" in the technical language of the Ethics, so [More]

Beyond the Troubled Water of Shifei: From Disputation to Walking-Two-Roads in the Zhuangzi

2020.05.15 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Lin Ma and Jaap van Brakel, Beyond the Troubled Water of Shifei: From Disputation to Walking-Two-Roads in the Zhuangzi, SUNY Press, 2019, 283pp., $32.95 (pbk), ISBN 9781438474823. Reviewed by Ricki Bliss, Lehigh University Interpretation is always underdetermined and indeterminate. It is underdetermined by the data and it is indeterminate because meaning doesn't allow it to be any other way. Interpretation is by no means a hopeless enterprise, however. Necessary conditions on the activity of interpretation are: (i) the assumption, on the part of the interpreter, of the family resemblance of forms of life; (ii) the assumption that all general concepts and conceptual schemes in all languages are family resemblance concepts; and (iii) a principle of mutual attunement. A commitment to all general concepts and conceptual schemes as family resemblance concepts (and schemes) suggests a denial of the ideal language assumption -- that there is an ideal language of thought into which all human languages... Read [More]

Intro to Philosophy Class 8

This is the content  for class 8. Videos Video 32: Background for St. Thomas Aquinas Video 36: Way Four (Gradation) Video 33: 5 Ways Intro & Way of Motion Video 37: Way Five (Governance of the World) Video 34: Way Two  (Efficient Cause) Video 38: Five Ways-Mistakes & Criticisms Video 35: Way Three (Possibility & [More]

How catalytic events change the course of history: From the 9/11 attacks to the coronavirus pandemic

The 9/11 attacks of 2001 are classic examples of  "catalytic events" that change the course of history. They can be seen as triggers for "Seneca Collapses," sudden and catastrophic, they are well described by Seneca's words, "the way to ruin is rapid." It is the way history moves: never smoothly but always in bumps. The most recent example of a catalytic effect of this kind is the current epidemic of coronavirus.If you are a chemist, you know very well how catalysts work small miracles: you had been trying for some time to have a reaction occur without success, then you add a little pinch of something and things go "bang." In no time, the reaction is complete. Then, of course, as a chemist you know that catalysts don't really work miracles: all they can do is to accelerate reaction that would occur anyway. But that may be mightily useful, sometimes. The concept of catalysis can be used also outside chemistry, for instance in politics. Let's go back to the year 2000, when the group of American neoconservatives identifying themselves as the "Project for a New American Century" (PNAC) issued a document titled "Rebuilding American Defenses." In that document, they argued that the American public could be led to accept a major shift of the available resources to military purposes only by means of "some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor."Surely, the PNAC members were highly successful with their plans, perhaps more than they themselves would have [More]

Edmund Burke

[Revised entry by Ian Harris on May 24, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Edmund Burke, author of Reflections on the Revolution in France, is known to a wide public as a classic political thinker: it is less well understood that his intellectual achievement depended upon his understanding of philosophy and use of it in the practical writings and speeches by which he is chiefly known. The present essay explores the character and significance of the use of philosophy in his political thought. That thought is of the very first [More]