Tuesday, January 27, 2009

PhD Acceptance

I am really excited that I have been accepted into a top choice of my PhD applications. The program basically specializes in American and Continental thought with a dearth of analytic philosophy--how refreshing! Conversations with the graduate director have been encouraging, and I am ecstatic that this school told me on the very day I asked to marry my wife. While I am not one to be superstitious about unseen forces in the world, the universe has revealed itself in the rare sublime that undergirds, I'm sure, the sense the Romantic poets spoke about nature and humankind. Of course, this can just be all me. I'm really not sure.

I'm turning to an old problem, and found that several well-accomplished Husserl scholars, including David Smith and Dan Zahavi, have articles about Husserl and externalism. Smith's article is incredibly intriguing in his weakest claim. He proposes that a form of transcendental phenomenology is compatible with externalism. How unorthodox considering Husserl's commonly interpreted as a Neo-Cartesian internalist and anti-naturalist to say the least! In the same volume of Syntheses, I have yet to read the other contributions to the special volume, but I suspect that this will give me some insight into writing A Husserlian Response to Twin Earth. Moreover, I have questions about the strength of Husserl's alleged anti-naturalism, and so questions concerning how phenomenology ought to relate to the natural attitude intrigue me as of late.

If I am not too lazy, I'll try to produce something to throw around at conferences for my next upcoming year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Peter Schaber's Lecture on Ethical Pluralism

Here's a decent exposition of the view ethical pluralism, its starting place in W.D. Ross and a good fleshing out of its conception.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I am listening to Obama. I cannot help but once feel pride again for the nation I coincidentally fled in search of Minerva's owl. The sun is out in Vancouver. Above the clouds, I sit staring into New Westminster. I close my eyes to the piece John Williams composed on this occasion.

It's done. It's done.

Electricity in the Air

I'm in Vancouver, BC. I look out my window to the Southeast and I can see where Mt. Baker should be in Washington State. All day, I sang to myself, bursting into gleeful cheer. Two events of significance fill me with happiness: my native Pittsburgh's own football team, The Steelers, has made it to the Superbowl. Next, I am getting a new President in 2 hours and 12 minutes. It happens around noon, East coast time, and so I cannot sleep.

Partisan values cut all the way down in me. I cannot endorse a Republican platform. Never could and never will. It's just not in me to think that anything Republicans think is rational, let alone the morally right direction for my native country to take. I'm literally ecstatic with hope, and cautious optimism about America and its relation to the world at large.

It is a time to serve, a time to lead and a time to dream.

I feel the impulse of doing philosophy giving way to a more virtuous life, an active life opposed to the thinking one. A life devoted to bettering the others directly while making a living doing it. Sometimes, I wish this, and philosophy gives me solace in the quiet act of reflective withdrawal. Yet, there's just something about taking up an issue, and devoting one's life to staking out and protecting what one cares about. Philosophy is not an active life devoted to this pursuit, but in some ways it allows for one to achieve an integrity as one pursues the infinite task of truth. Unlike public service, philosophy is massively incomplete since its problems are always present, and never conclusively resolved. With public service, one can achieve one's goal, sometimes.

Obama offered a vision of Americans working together. He offered a more optimistic, yet realistic outlook on the failures of the Bush Presidency and the Neoconservative project. Deregulated free markets do not make a good economy. Science isn't an affront to the hope and faith of a nation--it is rather what we should have faith in to know the world reliably. Moreover, guns don't make people safer, the lack of guns makes people safer. Deceptive reasons for going to war are never good, despite the rhetoric of the Right. And empowered women with equal pay and control over their bodies is better than slavery, kitchen and aprons.

There's more. There's more in my heart than I could ever spill here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Continental Journals for Publication

The Leiterrific world of philosophy have some opinions about what journals are noteworthy and what aren't. I am asking Continental philosophers to list their favorite journals, the types of journals that you use all the time in your research.

Secondly, do you think there is a hierarchy of Continental philosophy journals among your favorite groups?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Grounds of Philosophy

Some latenight meditation has proven useful.

On some readings of Heidegger, Heidegger came to recognize there is no fundamentally unifying ground on which philosophy qua metaphysics can come to rest upon. There is no Cartesian edifice to build a system of philosophy.

This claim can be understood a number of ways. The two senses that follow about grounding here are meant ontologically. First, it can mean there is no privileged a priori on which philosophical analyses have access to. Secondly, it can mean a denial of a fundamental characteristic of reality that guarantees that objects of experience are real. This second sense is more familiar since it has a history in the moderns and Kant. In such systems of thought, the reality of the world is guaranteed by the subject as in Kant and Descartes. Other systems of thought might make God the guarantor of the real, or notions of substance.

Grounding can also be meant epistemologically. My belief in the external world is grounded on the experience of my embodiment. Such a belief would be warranted given what work embodiment would do for us. Central concepts in philosophical systems, I believe, can be the same in their providing justification for a belief as constituting what is real ontologically. My driving impulse for this post is that this relation between epistemology and metaphysics is why they seem to infect each other. It is not a clear distinction between the two. Whatever the concept of ground does for eliciting beliefs about the Real is, in fact, what gives justification for what to believe about the Real.

Heidegger's denial about a fundamental unifying characteristic to philosophy is foolish. When we employ such skepticism about the reality of the ground/central concept, we only wind up grounding such skepticism in denial. The very act of denial becomes its own ground, and this strategy winds up being self-defeating in the end. Instead, we shouldn't think of various philosophical systems as themselves foolhardy in establishing a ground or framework. We should interrogate the framework or ground on its own merits.

Some will notice this is a very modernist discourse. Yes, I admit that philosophy as I practice it looks for foundations. I am a type of foundationalist in my methodology. However, it is completely unfair to assume that, like the moderns, I am a top-down thinker. What Husserl shows is a full-agreement with Descartes. It is an inward examination of our subjectivity which matters for these problems. The grounds offered are not independent of the thinker that proposes them. The bottom-up approach is phenomenological, and while I will not get into the merits of phenomenology versus other methodologies, it is phenomenological fact that to do philosophy is always to work with assuming a ground for the very possibility of a discourse before it is underway. In this way, we are always working within inescapable grounds, sets of conceptual backgrounds that figure into our way of navigating philosophical problems. Thus, it would seem that some privileging of phenomenological description and hermeneutics central to the start of any philosophical inquiry.

New Years Resolutions

My wife visits some rather cool design blogs. While I am not in the least interested in design blogs, I have discovered almost all these blogs list New Years resolutions. As a philosopher, I think resolutions come rather close to an agent endorsing either what they value.

1. Spend more time with my wife. If anyone says anything about graduate school, it is rather time-consuming and fosters indirectly what Williams called "life-projects." I tend to think that Williams meant grad school there.

2. Start to seriously learn German.

3. Once again become an active citizen in my nation's politics. I'm a Democrat, and fairly partisan when it comes to issues. I will no longer apologize to the other half of my nation for thinking the Second Amendment is stupid, the flag is not the most sacred thing in the world, the bible is not literally true, and women should have the right to seek an abortion. Sorry Conservatives...I think Mary Anne Warren was on to something with her arguments about personhood.

4. I will read all of Being and Time.