Tag Archives | Philosophy

A Guide to Skinner’s Genealogy of Liberty

delacroix_liberty

This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

What does it mean to be free? Liberty is the most important concept in modern political theory. That’s an overstatement, of course. There are other important concepts — equality? well-being? — and somebody could no doubt make the case for them. Still, liberty is very important, particularly to those who have temerity to call themselves “liberal”. It would help if they had some more detailed conception of liberty.

The traditional philosophical approach to this is to provide a conceptual analysis of what it means to be at liberty. The philosopher, from their privileged position in a comfortable armchair, thinks deeply about the nature of freedom. They propose a definition — a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of the predicate “liberty” — and then they defend this analysis from a range of counterexamples and counterarguments, some proposed by themselves, some proposed by their philosophical friends and enemies.… Read the rest

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3 Reasons Why God is a Nihilist; Or, Showing Sympathy for God

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Paul Chiariello writes at Applied Sentience:

I want to start with a disclaimer and a qualification.

First, this post isn’t about bashing God.  This post is about understanding humanity.  It’s about finding joy as flourishing individuals and friends.  It’s about exploring meaning and morality in a difficult world.  In this way, this post isn’t about God at all – it’s about you and me.  With this goal in mind, I’m hoping to explore someone I see as a literary figure, just like Aesop’s Tortoise and Hare, Heinlein’s Valentine Michel Smith, or anyone else from the infinite list of fictional characters out there.  Regardless of whether you love Him or hate Him, whether you’re a theist or an atheist like me, God is probably one of the most interesting and novel characters of all time, and certainly the one with the biggest fandoms and fanfics ever.

Second, as to my qualification, there are a wide range of nihilisms.  Someone might be called a nihilist for their skepticism of external reality or for their refutation of any legitimate political institutions or for their dismissal of certain religious beliefs.  Here I’ll be referring specifically to moral nihilism, or at least certain kinds of moral nihilisms.  And just so I’m being clear and up front, I’m specifically arguing that God doesn’t believe in objective or non-arbitray ethics or values, or, at very least, simply lives in a world where He knows about these things but yet cannot take part in them.

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Understand the Mysteries of Spacetime

New Adventures in Spacetime - Eleanor Knox

For the online-education-interested, the Institute of Art and Ideas has started updating their free online courses with short teaser videos that give a feel for what a course will be like.

One of these is “New Adventures in Spacetime“, a fascinating course by philosopher of physics Eleanor Knox from King’s College in London. Why not spend a few holiday hours wrapping our heads around what physicists talk about when they talk about spacetime?

The details of the course can be found here – or see the whole list of IAI Academy courses here.

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The Legendary Dennis McKenna Joins the Midwest Real Podcast!

Via Midwest Real

Dr. Dennis McKenna is a scientist, author and living legend of psychedelic counterculture. He joined Midwest Real to wax philosophical on the ever-novel, topography of society, technology, medicine, the limits of science and why we should always remain humble. 

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IMG_6310How many of us can truly say our lives will tell a story? That when we, or someone else looks back on it, we’ll find real development, defining moments and a worthwhile central cause?

Clearly, living a life of legends is far from simple. Just getting around the obligations and momentum that are built into being a modern human can be a tough, if not insurmountable task. Depending upon your roll of the dice, you might be grappling with debt, illness, family issues or any number of other inhibitory obstacles that coerce you into living your life in a way that’s less than ideal. But, aside from that, I’m willing to bet that most of us are actually holding ourselves back.… Read the rest

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Should we criminalise robotic rape and robotic child sexual abuse?

Editor’s note: We want to thank John Danaher for publishing his thought provoking work under a Creative Commons License. Support him by following his blog or following him on Twitter. If you like his essays, you’ll love his Twitter account.

Also, take a look through his recent posts (either republished on Disinformation or not) and let John know which ones you liked best.

I recently published an unusual article. At least, I think it is unusual. It imagines a future in which sophisticated sex robots are used to replicate acts of rape and child sexual abuse, and then asks whether such acts should be criminalised. In the article, I try to provide a framework for evaluating the issue, but I do so in what I think is a provocative fashion. I present an argument for thinking that such acts should be criminalised, even if they have no extrinsically harmful effects on others.… Read the rest

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Everything is Sound| Featuring Scientist, Mystic and Sound Expert Alexandre Tannous

Via Midwest Real

“The universe is a symphony of vibrating strings… We are nothing but melodies, we are nothing but cosmic music played out on vibrating strings and membranes.” -Michio Kaku

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IMG_6177Alexandre Tannous is one of those guys whose insight just continually surprises you. It’s as if he’s studied everything and gone everywhere, yet, still manages to maintain a disposition that’s totally down to earth, openminded and in awe of everything. He’s some sort of humble scientist, mystic, musician, renaissance man hybrid.

To add some specificity, Alexandre holds multiple degrees in music and philosophy. More importantly, he has traveled to over 40 of countries where he has participated in dozens of shamanic, meditative and initiatory ceremonies. Alexandre also researches the esoteric and therapeutic properties of sound from scientific and shamanic perspectives. He has lectured at many major universities including Georgetown, Princeton and NYU.

For more info on Alexandre’s work, check out his website.… Read the rest

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The Great Consciousness Swindle: Why Philosophers Will Never Find Consciousness, And Why They Secretly Don’t Want To

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

via Acceler8or:

As someone who writes regularly on aspects of the brain and consciousness, I have recently received a large amount of correspondence from people wondering what I think about a news article linking consciousness to quantum gravity in cellular microtubules, and how this model could offer “proof” of the soul’s ability to survive outside the body through some kind of nonlocal quantum hocus-pocus.[1] Even though this theory is presented purely as an exercise in theoretical mathematics, because it was suggested by Roger Penrose, a lauded and respected mathematician and philosopher, many people have jumped to the conclusion that this theory is not only correct, but that it somehow “proves” that consciousness is eternal, immutable, and can travel in and out of the body like a soul. My personal take on the theory is that it is garbage disguised as science, and not only is it wrong, it perpetuates a myth of consciousness that philosophers have been using to mislead gullible believers for centuries.

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Defining the Supernatural

Juliana Coutinho (CC BY 2.0)

Juliana Coutinho (CC BY 2.0)

Richard Carrier writes:

There is a trend in science and law to define the word “supernatural” as “the untestable,” which is perhaps understandable for its practicality, but deeply flawed as both philosophy and social policy. Flawed as philosophy, because testability is not even a metaphysical distinction, but an epistemological one, and yet in the real world everyone uses the word “supernatural” to make metaphysical distinctions. And flawed as social policy, because the more that judges and scientists separate themselves from the people with deviant language, the less support they will find from that quarter, and the legal and scientific communities as we know them will crumble if they lose the support of the people. Science and the courts must serve man. And to do that, they must at least try to speak his language. And yet already a rising tide of hostility against both science and the courts is evident.

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Dr. Rick Strassman Sheds Light on the Mysterious, Profound Paradox Hiding Within Us- DMT

Join Dr. Rick Strassman (DMT the Spirit MoleculeDMT and the Soul of Prophecy) and I as we discuss the deeply mysterious, alien-filled inter-dimensional chemical portal that is DMT. 

Via Midwest Real

“DMT is a forcible reminder that there’s a lot more about reality, the universe, ourselves, (and) the biosphere than we imagine.” – Dennis McKenna.

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Within your body, there’s a chemical gateway to another world and it’s called DMT (dimethyltryptamine).

IMG_6098As if that weren’t crazy enough, it’s not just in the human body. In fact, it’s quite commonplace throughout nature. DMT is produced within every mammal and found in thousands of plant species (which indigenous cultures have taken advantage in ceremonies for thousands of years). Why is this compound with such extreme psychedelic capabilities so ubiquitous and what is its practical function? There’s no consensus.

Chemically speaking, DMT is not a complicated substance. In fact, it closely resembles neurotransmitters and essential amino acids that your brain is brimming with.… Read the rest

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