Hype's Philosophy Thread

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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby SR » Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:56 am

Marquis de Sade....reading Paglia's Sexual Personae. He came up in contrast to Lockian though and in support of Hobbes. Thoughts?....Hype or FG?
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Hype » Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:42 am

I don't have a lot of familiarity with his writing. But I have read Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher Masoch, which I guess is the flip-side -- the M in S&M.

I'm not sure about the contrast between Hobbes and Locke on this issue of sadism/whatever -- Locke is basically the founder of classical liberalism (which should involve things like respect for individual autonomy, etc); Hobbes is kind of a proto-Liberal, but I'm not sure how this fits with MdS.
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby SR » Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:57 am

Yeah, well I just began the book, but from what I have gathered Camille is stating that nature is the primal force by which people struggle against.....somewhat futilely, but not without some measure of comfort or sustainability. To that, she sees all things as determined by nature.....Hobbes/N's will to power v. Locke's ideas of an intrinsic good and freedoms that come from being conditioned. She remarks that Sade is one of the least read but most potentially influential western thinkers.

I had never read nor heard of Sade, nor the fact that Harold Bloom was her mentor.....the latter surprised the shit out of me, but endeared me to Paglia even more.
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Hype » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:08 am

SR wrote:Yeah, well I just began the book, but from what I have gathered Camille is stating that nature is the primal force by which people struggle against.....somewhat futilely, but not without some measure of comfort or sustainability. To that, she sees all things as determined by nature.....Hobbes/N's will to power v. Locke's ideas of an intrinsic good and freedoms that come from being conditioned. She remarks that Sade is one of the least read but most potentially influential western thinkers.

I had never read nor heard of Sade, nor the fact that Harold Bloom was her mentor.....the latter surprised the shit out of me, but endeared me to Paglia even more.


That's interesting. The Stoics and Spinoza argue that the good life involves "living in accordance with nature", which marks a stark contrast with the Hobbes/etc., view of nature as a thing to be extricated from by means of society/culture/law/politics/etc. I'd be curious to hear more about what you get from Paglia about Sade.

Apparently Paglia is a "libertarian", which may mean she endorses Locke (classical libertarian/liberal), but I'd be wary that she's part of the ideological wave of libertarians that treats 'negative liberty' (in Berlin's sense) as the only kind of liberty.
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby SR » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:28 am

Hype wrote:
SR wrote:Yeah, well I just began the book, but from what I have gathered Camille is stating that nature is the primal force by which people struggle against.....somewhat futilely, but not without some measure of comfort or sustainability. To that, she sees all things as determined by nature.....Hobbes/N's will to power v. Locke's ideas of an intrinsic good and freedoms that come from being conditioned. She remarks that Sade is one of the least read but most potentially influential western thinkers.

I had never read nor heard of Sade, nor the fact that Harold Bloom was her mentor.....the latter surprised the shit out of me, but endeared me to Paglia even more.


That's interesting. The Stoics and Spinoza argue that the good life involves "living in accordance with nature", which marks a stark contrast with the Hobbes/etc., view of nature as a thing to be extricated from by means of society/culture/law/politics/etc. I'd be curious to hear more about what you get from Paglia about Sade.

Apparently Paglia is a "libertarian", which may mean she endorses Locke (classical libertarian/liberal), but I'd be wary that she's part of the ideological wave of libertarians that treats 'negative liberty' (in Berlin's sense) as the only kind of liberty.
I am in the beginning pages right now. I'll share more as I get through the material. As for nature, she undoubtedly is going into sex.....one provocative notion (because I am a born male :lol: ) is in reference to gender...."I see the mother as an overwhelming force who condemns men to lifelong sexual anxiety, from which they escape through rationalism and physical achievement".

Anyways, on the precipice of the first female president and a two decade insurgence of what I think is a bit warped version of equality and feminism, I really wanted to tackle this book......I really should have started with Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, but Paglia has always impressed me...a lot.
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Bandit72 » Wed May 03, 2017 2:03 am

Is work by Thomas Nagal worth reading?
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Hype » Wed May 03, 2017 6:19 am

Bandit72 wrote:Is work by Thomas Nagal worth reading?


*Nagel. Yes. Yes it is. I taught his paper "The Absurd" this year, and found it useful for connecting up to a lot of other stuff in the same area, because it's a nice balance between analytic and more literary philosophy. You can read it here: https://philosophy.as.uky.edu/sites/def ... 0Nagel.pdf

He's most famous for this paper from 43 years ago, which uses a vivid analogy to try to defend the idea that there is something irreducible about subjective experience: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2183914?se ... b_contents

He also gained some new notoriety recently for appearing to object to (a certain conception of) the theory of Evolution (apparently because he thinks it can't account for minds), and for defending panpsychism (the view that there is mental "stuff" everywhere; I actually agree with a version of this view, despite how crazy it sounds).

I think he's basically wrong about the evolution stuff, wrong about the irreducible subjective experience stuff, but basically right that 'mind-stuff' kind of has to be everywhere in nature. But he's very, very, very smart, and the arguments are well worth reading, even if it's just to figure out what might be wrong with them (most philosophy is valuable only for this reason).
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby SR » Wed May 03, 2017 6:29 am

He's also crossed paths with some powerhouses.
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Hype » Wed May 03, 2017 6:46 am

SR wrote:He's also crossed paths with some powerhouses.


Who do you mean? Nagel is a powerhouse himself, if that wasn't clear from what I said above. Very few thinkers of the 20th century are taught as widely as he is (literally every English-speaking undergraduate philosophy student will have to read him, and many in other countries as well).

He's #32 (Alphabetically, not hierarchically) on this list of the top 50 most influential living philosophers: http://www.thebestschools.org/features/ ... losophers/
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby SR » Wed May 03, 2017 6:55 am

I think he was heavily influenced by Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Ben Carson. They shared many lunches at Trump Tower on the Breitbart expense account.

Chillax. I didn't denigrate him; I said he crossed paths with some heavyweights....Witt and Rawls
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Hype » Wed May 03, 2017 7:05 am

SR wrote:I think he was heavily influenced by Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Ben Carson. They shared many lunches at Trump Tower on the Breitbart expense account.

Chillax. I didn't denigrate him; I said he crossed paths with some heavyweights....Witt and Rawls


I see what you meant now, but I just find it an odd way to describe someone who is a heavyweight in his own right. It would be like saying "Yeah, that Muhammed Ali sure has crossed paths with some heavyweights: Joe Frazier and Sonny Liston..."

Rawls was his PhD supervisor. Saying they "crossed paths" is an understatement. It's also a strange way to relate to him given that Nagel isn't a political philosopher or a logician and his contributions to philosophy are mostly in philosophy of mind, which he helped make into a field of study in the first place.
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby SR » Wed May 03, 2017 10:42 am

No response to a post of mine so equally deserves both no response and a response simultaneously. :confused: :lol:
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Hype » Wed May 03, 2017 10:52 am

If you read Tom Nagel's The Absurd, you should also read this essay by Bernard WIlliams (a moral heavyweight): https://www.stoa.org.uk/topics/death/th ... lliams.pdf
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Bandit72 » Fri May 19, 2017 5:53 am

Would you agree that there is no explanation for the origin of reason? Would you be able to point me in the right direction? (Books/papers etc...)
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Hype » Fri May 19, 2017 6:34 am

Bandit72 wrote:Would you agree that there is no explanation for the origin of reason? Would you be able to point me in the right direction? (Books/papers etc...)


That's an interesting thought, but I'm not sure I fully understand what you mean. What do you think 'reason' is? And what do you mean by 'explanation' and 'origin'?

I realize that sounds like semantics (and it is), but it's important, because you're asserting something that could mean a bunch of different things.

To offer just a quick history of philosophy point about this: the common understanding of 'reason' changes dramatically at least four times in the past 2600 years. The most recent change was after Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason -- this book, which almost no one has read cover-to-cover, sets out to establish 'bounds of sense' -- limitations on pure reason. It also asserts that there is a fundamental difference between reasons and causes, and that there is, in human beings, a faculty of Reason, which is separate from other faculties.

Prior to Kant, many philosophers equated reasons and causes -- the phrase 'reason or cause' ('ratio seu causa' in Latin) was very common, especially in mechanistic post-Cartesian philosophy. But it was Descartes who had essentially removed reason from Nature, by fundamentally separating Mind and Body (you know, the famous dualism). The Mind's 'reasons', on this view, are not fully determined by the Body's motions. So this view, like Kant's, attempts to preserve room for human freedom, morality, etc. The Catholic Church, by the way, largely adopts Aristotle and Descartes and (to a lesser extent) Kant as foundations for its view of Reason.

But there are earlier views that are just as powerful: the Stoics thought that Reason was a fundamental Natural phenomenon -- literally the breath of Zeus (pneuma), which gives all things in Nature purpose and rational explanation. Plato, of course, famously thought that the Rational was the true Reality, to the exclusion of ordinary experience.

Anyway, so much for that history lesson. Your question is difficult to answer because if by 'explanation', you just mean causal explanation, then I think there *is* a causal explanation for how reason arose in living creatures (because I don't think humans are the only beings who can respond to reasons -- though famous recently deceased Oxford philosopher Derek Parfit disagrees with me). If by 'explanation' you mean a purpose or intent for it, then sure, I agree, there isn't one... but so what?

But even with that sorted, it's unclear what you mean by 'reason'. Do you think reason is something special? Do you think reason requires consciousness? What about the fact that other creatures seem to be able to respond to reasons? A dog tracking a scent can determine that it has reason to go this way rather than that. What about computers/robots? They seem to be able to respond to mechanical reasons in increasingly complex ways.

And it's also unclear what's meant by 'origin'. Do you mean the origin of the first being that has a capacity for reasoning? Surely we can, in principle, give an evolutionary explanation for this -- if you want to know why humans evolved such large frontal lobes, e.g., I suppose we can try to answer that by looking at drivers of the speciation that led to the genus 'homo', or whatever. But you might also mean: how is it possible that some matter became able to think? This is a question that John Locke was concerned with. There's also a ton of stuff written about this. There's a great book by Patricia Churchland called "Brainwise" that is written so that non-academics can follow it. I'd look at that. Also try Gilbert Ryle's "The Concept of Mind". They should be affordable.
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Matz » Fri May 19, 2017 11:14 am

we are not the authors of our thoughts so how can we be the authors of reason?

I just read Sam Harriss' book Free Will (I apologize Hype, but I think he does a good job on the subject). Pretty sure he'd say something like that
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Hype » Fri May 19, 2017 11:57 am

I'm glad Sam Harris is selling books that are getting people to think about questions like this. Once you've been introduced to the question, though, I don't think you should stop at his work, at least, if you want to have justification for your beliefs. Harris is, like Trump, someone who sometimes says things that are technically true, but he surrounds those true things with reams of less clear thinking, bullshit, and tangents.

I don't think anything has free will, but Harris's reflections on the topic are ultimately not very helpful or deep -- they are just a nice introduction.

We don't need to be the "authors" of reason (though that is precisely what Kant says: we are 'self-legislative' beings) in order to be able to respond to reasons.

Here's something from a great Kant scholar on Kant's view of morality as freedom: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~kors ... reedom.pdf

There's a great chapter of Derek Parfit's "On What Matters" vol. 1, that deals with this in a more sophisticated way. Here's a link to that: https://www.dropbox.com/s/a9zbrxdh74faa ... 1.pdf?dl=0
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Matz » Sat May 20, 2017 5:07 am

The phenomenal vs noumenal view seems weak to me (but I'm not expert as you know, so maybe he's unto something that I'm too blind to se):

Though our acts are partly events which occur in the spatio-temporal world these acts might have undetermined origins in the timeless noumenal world. That, Kant claims, gives us the freedom that morality requires.

To me, it's like saying, that because of the fact that our thoughts are determined by parts of the mind which we have no control over, there's a freedom morally there for us. But there isn't.

Do you share this view of Kants?


Regarding the free will discussion in general, I don't really, at this point, feel the need to go deeper. The general belief that we don't have free will in itself has already had a pretty profound effect on my life in that I'm a more forgiving and understanding person of people and myself. (Isn't that the main message in all of this? I think so.)
I basically have Mockbee who started the Free will thread and you who supplied the vending machine example (and other things of course) to thank for that.

I am aware of counter arguments when I come across them, but so far I haven't heard or read any that really come close to make me change my mind on the subject.
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Hype » Sat May 20, 2017 6:06 am

Hey, thanks for these thoughts, Matz... I always like when I can see some philosophical cogs turning. I'll offer some thoughts in response and see what you think:

Matz wrote:The phenomenal vs noumenal view seems weak to me (but I'm not expert as you know, so maybe he's unto something that I'm too blind to se):

Though our acts are partly events which occur in the spatio-temporal world these acts might have undetermined origins in the timeless noumenal world. That, Kant claims, gives us the freedom that morality requires.

To me, it's like saying, that because of the fact that our thoughts are determined by parts of the mind which we have no control over, there's a freedom morally there for us. But there isn't.

Do you share this view of Kants?


Okay, so the "phenomenal/noumenal" distinction is just another way of putting a distinction between appearances/experience and things independent of experience. Kant's innovation was to invert this, so that the phenomenal/experiential realm just *is* reality. Kant is what we would call an "empirical realist". That is, the world as we know it is limited by how we must experience it. Kant is also a "transcendental idealist", which is just the flip-side of this coin: if reality is empirical, that means that things independent of experience in a sense aren't "real", because we can never know them. Thus, we refer to things in themselves by abstracting away from our particular experiences, but this doesn't get us to reality, it gets us only an "ideal" picture.

The point Parfit is making about Kant's argument is that Kant views human action as both empirically determined and transcendentally free. The idea is that 'Time' is one of the conditions for experience, not a property of things in themselves, and time is the reason why things are causally determined. For Kant, this is because causality amounts to a law-like relation between successive appearances. Experience A happens, and then Experience B happens, and we say that A causes B when we cognize the relation between A and B in accordance with a rule which necessitates that B follows A. He uses the experience of seeing a ship first upstream and then downstream. But Kant thinks that human actions are also rational, and reason doesn't operate "in time", in a sense. It operates in a sort of timeless logical way, where things don't follow in time or space, but in a kind of universal way. Thus, when we act rationally, we act freely and independently of time.

But Parfit objects to Kant's claim that human actions are not events in time. IF our actions are ONLY events in time, then they are not free in Kant's sense. But, Parfit claims, this is okay because we don't need Kantian freedom for morality.

I don't share Kant's view, but I also don't totally agree with Parfit. Parfit thinks that reason can do more work than I think it can.

Regarding the free will discussion in general, I don't really, at this point, feel the need to go deeper. The general belief that we don't have free will in itself has already had a pretty profound effect on my life in that I'm a more forgiving and understanding person of people and myself. (Isn't that the main message in all of this? I think so.)
I basically have Mockbee who started the Free will thread and you who supplied the vending machine example (and other things of course) to thank for that.

I am aware of counter arguments when I come across them, but so far I haven't heard or read any that really come close to make me change my mind on the subject.


That's cool. I didn't mean that you absolutely must go deeper. I only meant to convey that there are better, stronger, clearer ways to think about free will than Sam Harris's book. I don't think everyone needs to read difficult philosophy to have justified beliefs... But at the same time, it might be interesting and potentially useful. :wink:
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Re: Hype's Philosophy Thread

Postby Bandit72 » Sun May 21, 2017 1:24 pm

Apologies for being a bit vague, you have at least answered primarily what I was after and given me more to go on. The question came from a debate with a Muslim I saw who, without going into shed loads of detail, was arguing the fact that God had given 'us' reason. It's weird because I get really angry when I hear these types of debate yet I'm always compelled to listen to them. I will definitely look into reading Churchland's book.
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