Category Archives: Metaphysical musings

Mad-Dog Everettianism, probability, and a little bit of Hume

One of the great upsides of the generally miserable or horrific pandemic is that more recordings of fascinating intellectual discussions are being made available to wider audiences. Recently I watched a set of talks hosted by an outfit called the … Continue reading

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What we know when we know particulars

Some reflections on the early sections of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: If we try to think about what is most obvious in our experience, and what the most basic elements of knowledge are, we turn to sense perception. For it … Continue reading

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Unvatting the Brains: Putnam, Bostrom, and thinking the unthinkable

The worry is familiar. All of my experience comes to me via my central nervous system, which is a biochemical electrical network. It can be hacked. The data coming from my eyes and ears and so on are converted to … Continue reading

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Minds as predictive engines

(Reading Andy Clark, Surfing Uncertainty (Oxford UP 2015)) I’m no longer sure I know what an “ordinary” theory of mind would look like, but I’m guessing that it would resemble an organized camp of explorers. The explorers, or our senses, venture … Continue reading

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The Hope of Concepts (or, some sorely needed arch support)

(Loosely reflecting while re-reading Peter Sloterdijk’s You Must Change Your Life…) As in Spheres, PS’s aim is to create (or at least open up a space for) a new life-support system for humans, a post-religious quasi-religion grounded in practice and … Continue reading

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The mind, as under construction

The human mind is a moving target. We might trick ourselves into believing it is a thing, with a definite nature and a set of properties to call its own, but in fact the mind is always under construction. At … Continue reading

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Mars teleporter essay on Aeon

I am stranded on Mars. The fuel tanks on my return vessel ruptured, and no rescue team can possibly reach me before I run out of food. (And, unlike Matt Damon, I have no potatoes.) Luckily, my ship features a … Continue reading

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Robots and responsibility

[Another excerpt from Reality (a primer)] What worries many people about being told that the mind isn’t distinct from the body is what that might mean for human freedom and responsibility. If I create a robot that comes over and … Continue reading

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Maybe the universe doesn’t exist

It is not clear to me that the universe exists. I’m not saying, of course, that there aren’t a lot of things in existence – my dog, this laptop, Saturn’s rings, and so on. And with any actual list of … Continue reading

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The flux of it all

[An excerpt from Reality: a primer] Heraclitus was one of the earliest known philosophers. He lived in what we now recognize as western Turkey, in the late 6th century BCE. We know hardly anything about him, and his philosophy is … Continue reading

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Best argument for dualism?

The best argument for dualism I know is the argument from subjectivity. The first premise is that experience requires a subject – an entity who is having the experience. Now it may be that this entity isn’t what it thinks … Continue reading

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Brains and typewriters

Aristotle was not aware of any mind/body problem. He understood that all (well, almost all) of the things we do with our minds are capacities of the human body. “Thinking is something a human does” – what is especially problematic … Continue reading

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Reality of ideas, again: the navel-gazing perspective

What is an idea? On the one hand, it is tempting to say that there can be no explanation without appeal to a special intensional dimension, a protected pocket of our existence that holds meanings. After all, we think ideas; … Continue reading

Posted in Items of the academy / learning, Metaphysical musings, This & that in the life of CH, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Under the right conditions, ideas matter; but far less than we commonly suppose

In the big picture, ideas don’t matter as much as people like me try to pretend. Obviously, in some broad sense, some ideas matter very much to some people, sometimes. But even in those cases where ideas matter in big … Continue reading

Posted in Historical episodes, Items of the academy / learning, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff, Metaphysical musings | 5 Comments

Brandom’s inferentialism

In many works over many years, Robert Brandom has advocated a view called “inferentialism.” It’s a view about linguistic meaning, and it asserts specifically that the meaning of a claim is fixed by what role it plays in the economy … Continue reading

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