Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sci-fi Movies and Philosophy

I want to have this thread open up and invite suggestions for sci-fi movies tied to specific philosophical readings. There is one example of a sci-fi and philosophy anthology, but I didn't like it. Somehow, discussing personal identity with Locke and watching Arnold in the Sixth Day just doesn't seem like a good  move. There has to be better movies for personal identity and Locke for instance.

Right before, C-3PO thanks the "Maker" for an oil bath he's about to receive. Does Threepio have an understanding of how he must be pious toward the Maker as Socrates discusses in Plato's dialogue titled "The Euthyphro"

The main motivation for this is in part stemming from my anticipated conference participation with the English PhDs. They get to write up cultural study dissertations on Philip K. Dick and read science fiction. Trudging through Heidegger and Husserl seems more rewarding but not as fun as reading graphic novels on Spiderman or children's literature. Thus, I want to develop a syllabus for philosophy and science fiction. In my future professional life (hopefully someone will hire me), I can still be a geek and a philosopher.

So, do you have any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grant MacEwan Philosophy Video

Insofar as I want to return to Canada in all honestly, I beset myself the challenge of reviewing all the philosophy programs in Western Canada--basically BC and Alberta. My goal was only to look at how they fare now, teaching expertise and the like. After a google search, I found this video on youtube. My hat is off to MacEwan for what honestly are all my reasons for studying philosophy on a personal level.

However, this brings me to another question. Will departments have to pitch these types of videos in the future as more and more university decisions about funding relate to the instrumental gain over the intrinsic value philosophy possesses on its own? Only time will tell.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pragmatism Emphasis with Continental Philosophy

Here is a list of some essential features pragmatism maintains with Continental philosophy in a panel given long ago:

1. Both emphasize the dissolution between the chasm of subject and object.

2. Both emphasize the lived experience as a starting and end point for inquiry.

3. Both emphasize the primacy of practical reason in this lived experience over and above the derivative character of speculative reason

I liked them, so I just thought I'd list them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

On the Sense of the Thing?

1. The sense or meaning of a thing is lost when we don't pay attention to how consciousness ultimately relates to a phenomenon. 

This is the claim of Ideas 1 Husserl, and often my starting point for engaging with many of my colleagues. The above claim is based on transitioning from a critique of the natural attitude to something like the following:

2. The origin of the sense/meaning of a phenomenon has its origin in the constitutive function of consciousness itself. 

Therefore, the sense/meaning of a phenomenon gain ultimate priority in our philosophizing because it is through the bracketing of the world and an engagement with how the first-personal dimension of conscious experience allows the phenomenon to manifest itself. We only describe that self-showing. We presuppose nothing about the self-showing of the phenomenon. This is the point of phenomenology: to retrieve the implicit process of how consciousness in my experience really effects the formation of sense. In other words, we do not want to take for granted "the sense of the thing."

Now, perhaps I'm coming full circle. I wonder about accepting 1 and 2 as true any more. This is Husserl's story as to why there are things like ideal objectivities in logic and mathematics. Those ideal objectivities exist independently of what can be said about knowing these ideal objectivities within psychology. If you identified those ideal objectivities having their causal origin in our psychology, then the ideal objectivities would lose their independent normative force to guide proper inferences. We'd have no reason really to abide by the principle of non-contradiction since in doing so, we were only determined to do so. In principle, this has always made sense to me. Some features of our experience are irreducible (and perhaps normative?). Largely, this is just what the "sense of the thing" is. It is the irreducible parcel of human experience we live through that deserves its own autonomous science, phenomenology, apart from the naturalism in the world that would seek to explain away this irreducible feature of human experience. In other words, all other philosophies or science take for granted the sense of the thing and do not trace out 1 and 2.

Now, Husserl will not give any real argumentation for 1 and 2. I don't know if you can really. It would be like trying to give an argument for why it is that consciousness is consciousness of. In fact, that's just it. Husserl marks out the independent constituting feature of intentionality for all conscious acts and correlates of meaning attached to those acts as a legitimate domain of study over against those that would delimit recourse to subjectivity as ill-informed (for whatever reason: materialists about consciousness, eliminativists avoiding folk psychology etc). The purpose of phenomenological philosophy is to bring to light this legitimate domain of consciousness shared by all humans and bring into relief how it is that we live through these many irreducible structures of the act-correlate dynamic. These irreducible structures are revealed to us through the phenomenological description enacted after we've shifted into the phenomenological attitude, the reduction, to open up how it is that a phenomena appears to consciousness. We get at the heart of its structure, phenomenological "seeing" of the phenomenon's essence.

It might be offered that Husserl can offer an argument for 1 and 2, but those reasons cannot be from skepticism about either the whole natural attitude or some part of it. Take for instance someone taking for granted the sense of consciousness itself as materially-based. If we have sufficient reasons to be skeptical about forms of materialism in philosophy of mind take for granted "the sense of the thing", then we would be skeptical for reasons we'd already presuppose, and that wouldn't lend support to thinking 1 and 2 are plausible. Given this, the only plausible story might be a Kantian transcendental strategy in which we accept the existence of ideal objectivities like Husserl does in Logical Investigations, and then suggest the transcendental preconditions for ideal objectivities cannot be supplied by anything else other than 1 and 2. My gut reaction is to find that dubious.

Perhaps, I am going through a pragmatic update of my initial Husserlian inclinations. If ideal objectivities are socially constructed prior to my awareness of them (let's face it, I did have to learn about the principle of non-contradiction at some point by doing syllogisms), then for a pragmatist-in-general, those are the most "real" things we have in our experience. We have no reason to question their source and origin but only how it is that belief in those ideal objectivities affect my practical orientation in the world. Call the ideal objectivity of the principle of non-contradiction a habit of mine. This habit engenders a set of consequences that have practical benefit. I never maintain two things in my belief as true and false at the same time. I avoid that, and if it is revealed by someone that I've fallen into a contradiction, I quickly start to question myself. I shouldn't get bogged down in the metaphysics of intentionality, epoche and the reduction. In this way, pragmatists tend to avoid metaphysical discussions like tracing out 1 and 2 above. This isn't to say that pragmatists don't do metaphysics at all, but they seem wise to pick their battles. I might just be worrying over some dogmatism than thinking about what I ought to be thinking about. I'm unsure about 1 and 2 anymore.

Beyond pragmatism, we might have Heideggerian reasons to think that 1 and 2 need modified, not necessarily a whole rejection. For Heidegger, Dasein is the first-personal level of experience, and in some ways, Heidegger has a view of intentionality in Being and Time. I'll save that post for another time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Heidegger, Scheler and the Problem of Value

Preliminary Dissertation Outline

Chapter 1: The Problem of Value in Early Analytic Philosophy, Kant and Why a Moral Phenomenology
1.1 What is the Problem of Value?

1.2 Moral Subjectivism about Value and Mackie’s Argument from Queerness
1.3 A Candidate Portrayal of Emotivism in Stevenson
1.4 G. E. Moore’s Naturalistic Fallacy as a Phenomenological Description
1.5 Ross’s Intuitionism as a Close Phenomenological Alternative and Scheler’s Conception of Intuitive Evidence

1.6 Scheler’s Response to all of Ethics and Kant’s Formalism in Particular

Chapter 2: Heidegger on Moods and Attunement in the Structure of Care

            2.1 Kierkegaardian Anxiety in relation to SZ.

            2.2 Nietzsche’s Drive of Life in relation to SZ

2.3 Heidegger’s Departure from Husserl’s Transcendental Phenomenology

2.4 Authenticity, Inauthenticity, the Structure of Care, Ontic Ethics and the Ethical Overtones of SZ

            2.5 The Challenge of Ethics in SZ

            2.6 Heidegger’s Conception of the Person in SZ

Chapter 3: Scheler’s Account of Emotional Life and Value

            3.1 Scheler’s Conception of Phenomenology vs. Heidegger

            3.2 Emotions in the Formalism

            3.3 Emotions in the Nature of Sympathy

            3.4 The Emotional Tonality of Human Life and Value Heirarchies
            3.5 Ordo Amoris and Reasons of the Heart over Rational Reasons

3.6 Scheler’s Concept of the Person

            3.7 Ethics Without a Decision-Procedure and Phronesis

Chapter 4: The Central Difference Between Heidegger and Scheler

4.1 Methodological Differences Between Fundamental Ontology and Phenomenological Attitude

            4.2 Heidegger’s Account of the Emotions in SZ: What is Missing?

            4.3 Scheler’s Account of the Emotions in relation to SZ

            4.4 Scheler and Heidegger on Intersubjectivity

4.5 Conclusions and the Promise of a Moral Phenomenology

Chapter 5: A Phenomenological Account of Ethics: Some Objections
5.1 Walter Sinnot-Armstrong’s Objections to Moral Phenomenology in Terms of the Unity of Moral Judgment

5.2 Response to Sinnott-Armstrong

5.3 Harman’s Moral Relativism as an Objection

5.4 Response to Harman and Non-Contingency of Emotions

5.5 Simon Kirchin’s Objections to Phenomenology Can Support Metaethical Positions

5.6 Response to Kirchin

5.7 The Problem of Motivation, Bernard Williams and Scheler’s Ordo Amoris

5.8 Scheler’s Personalism as a Metaethical Form of Realism over Anti-Realism

5.9 The Place of Scheler’s Phenomenology and Autonomy of Ethical Theorizing

5.10 New Directions in Virtue Ethics?

Monday, March 21, 2011


I now have an official outline as to what I am going to write. It's what I want to do. I want to write a piece of philosophy that might be of interest to those even outside Continental philosophy. I'm going to pick up on objections from Kirchin, Sinnott-Armstrong, Harman just to name a few in the last chapter. I'll be introducing the phenomenological overtones of the "Oxbridge" non-naturalists as a way to suggest that analytic ethics has always had an affinity for the type of view Scheler is proposing. I don't know. I'm excited about the outline and finally "getting down to business." I want to finish next year, but PhDs in three years are not healthy for one's well-being. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Butler a Blast from the Past

Remember this essay by Judith Butler about Obama in 2008. She was right, even I got sucked in.