Swamp Donkeys

July 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Reinventing Philosophy of Religion An Opinionated Introduction

July 10, 2014 4 comments

Reinventing Philosophy of Religion An Opinionated Introduction

Widespread conflict between worldviews prompts philosophical questions. Are all worldviews religious? Is there a common core to all worldviews? Is there one true worldview? Are some worldviews better than others? Are there proofs that ought to bring an end to all disputes about worldviews? Might we reasonably agree to disagree when it comes to questions about worldviews? Can one lead a worthwhile life if one subscribes to a false worldview? Are people who do not have a religious worldview necessarily wicked or immoral? Should worldview education be an entirely private matter? This book is an introduction to these—and other—central questions in the philosophy of religion, as well as a defense of the idea that these kinds of questions are the central subject matter of philosophy of religion.


A Brief Defense of Knowledge as Recollection

June 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Originally posted on The Way of Philosophy:

It is well-known that Plato’s Socrates believed that knowledge was actually recollection (Meno 80-81). Let me offer a defense of this view.

Is the mind a blank slate as (one interpretation of) Locke suggests? Or does our mind in some way play an active role in forming our ideas (even what Locke called simple ideas)? One reason to think that Locke is wrong is that his model does not seem to explain the relationship of phenomenology to quantum physics. We have ideas of birds and people and trains, but what is the relationship of these ideas to the matter described by theoretical physicists? It does not seem like a Lockean approach could help us solve this question. Locke’s theory of the mind presupposes that the our ideas are dependent upon perceiving atoms arranged in a certain configuration. But if atoms are composed of sub-atomic particles, as contemporary physicists claim, and if…

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Categories: Philosophy

Plato and the Relationship of Politics to Metaphysics

June 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Originally posted on The Way of Philosophy:

I was reading an article yesterday about Leo Strauss. The article (by Remi Brague) claimed that Strauss self-consciously sought to read Plato through the lens of Al Farabi, a Muslim philosopher of the tenth century. One of the elements of this interpretive tradition (according to Brague) was a minimization of metaphysics. Plato is said to be primarily a political thinker. The various metaphysical concepts of Plato’s writings (ideas, reincarnation, the Demiurge, etc.) are “intentionally given short shrift.”(Brague, 240)

I have heard various things about Strauss, though I am not a good enough scholar at the moment to make my own judgments on the matter. I know that he was influenced by Al Farabi, as Brague states, but I did not know that Strauss pitted the Farabian reading of Plato against Plato himself. That is what Brague claims in the article. I also knew that Strauss is commonly held to be a political…

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Categories: Philosophy

Artificial Intelegence: Can Machines Think and the Turing Test

June 15, 2014 2 comments

My son recently visited a local theme park and was very impressed with one of the attractions. Apparently it was some sort of animatronic that not only spoke but appeared to have the capability to hold conversations. “How do they do it dad?” He really wanted to know. From his perspective he was having a human dialogue with a machine. It answered questions, asked questions, and dialogued just as a human would. Impressive? Maybe, but the technology to execute these type of functions isn’t all too complicated. You can sample this here. However, what if increased technology can produce a machine that has the ability to think, generate genuine thoughts, be self conscious, in other words what if the technology allowed for machines to have a real mental life?

In 1950 Alan Turing published a paper in Mind (Journal) entitled Computing Machinery and Intelligence. Turing comes up with a test where a human judge would have blind conversations with both machine and human attempting to determine which is which. If the judge incorrectly determines she is speaking with the human when speaking to the machine that would be regarded as evidence of genuine thinking on the part of the machine.

Having said this you probably were able to come up with several objections to the test and Turing does as well. I will share mine at the bottom of this post. However, I would like to look and consider two objections that Turing discusses. The first objection that we’ll consider of Turing’s is the fact that machines cannot make mistakes.










American Pragmatism and the Subordination of Philosophy to Poetry

June 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Originally posted on The Way of Philosophy:

I believe one of the missteps of philosophy originated in the United States, namely the pragmatist tradition. But before I write anything else I need to say that pragmatism is not something I believe to be of no value to philosophy. Indeed, I view pragmatism, along with Nietzscheanism, to be one of the most important retreats from philosophy, though perhaps I am mistaken about this. Since the time of Plato, it has been shown that to truly do philosophy one must engage with thinkers like pragmatists and the Nietzscheans, which is evidenced in characters like Callicles, who could be called a proto-Nietzschean or a proto-pragmatist.

The late pragmatist “philosopher” Richard Rorty has written about the roots of the pragmatist tradition, particularly in the person of John Dewey, who advocated the “subordination of theory to practice.”(Rorty, 11) When one subordinates theory to practice, then the goal of the philosopher becomes technical, that…

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Categories: Philosophy

Judge Rejects Teacher Tenure for California

June 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Judge Rejects Teacher Tenure for California

I know my libertarian friend over at http://declinationblog.wordpress.com/ R A Jamison is celebrating this one!


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