Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmastime reading for shut-ins

At Public Discourse, William Carroll gives us the scoop on Thomas Aquinas in China.

At Anamnesis, Joshua Hochschild asks: What’s Wrong with Ockham?

Philosopher Roberto Mangabeira Unger and physicist Lee Smolin have just published The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time: A Proposal in Natural Philosophy.  In an interview, Smolin addresses the question: Who will rescue time from the physicists?

In related news, io9 reports that scientists admit that they need philosophers

Forthcoming from Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum: What Tends to Be: Essays on the Dispositional Modality.  Details trickling out via Twitter, here, here, here, and here.

Philosopher Robert Koons has a blog: The Analytic Thomist.

Mathematician and philosopher James Franklin has a page at Academia.edu.  And, if you didn’t already know of it, a homepage.

At Scientia Salon, Massimo Pigliucci on Dupré, Fodor, Hacking, Cartwright, reductionism, and the disunity of the sciences.

Stephen Boulter reviews John Marenbon’s Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy at Philosophy in Review.


  1. A little late coming, but I already have some Christmas reading: my copy of Scholastic Metaphysics arrived last week!

  2. I have a library worth of reading. I am a bibliophile that needs not new sources of textual distractions (internet or book form) but well will keep these on my list.

    On that topic, I am looking forward to this book i.e. The Proof in De Ente et Essentia come next year.

  3. *but we will keep

    is what I meant to type.

  4. @Edward

    In relation to the Summer School etc. is any of that distance learning?

  5. Where was that picture of Dr. Doom with a Christmas tree from?

  6. A.M.D.G.

    This blog would be worth checking out just for the outstanding comic book stuff.

  7. Best sentence in Scruton's article on kitsch: Like objects seen in parallel mirrors they repeat themselves ad infinitum, and at each repetition the price goes up a notch, to the point where a balloon dog by Jeff Koons, which every child could conceive and some could even manufacture, fetches the highest price ever paid for a work by a living artist - except, of course, that he isn't one.

  8. On James Franklin, there's also a segment with him on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation program, The Philosopher's Zone, on education and the philosophy of mathematics.

  9. Scholastic Metaphysics was a gift in just got for Christmas. Can't wait to read it.

    I also got Feser's Philosophy of Mind, Aquinas, and The Last Superstition.

    I'm not savvy in this field.

    What order should these be read in??


  10. @ Hong Kong Fooey

    I would go with: Philosophy of Mind, The Last Superstition, Aquinas, Scholastic Metaphysics. That is the order they were written in, of course, but I think it's most appropriate. Aquinas goes into greater detail on e.g. the Five Ways than does The Last Superstition. And I think it is good to read Philosophy of Mind first since I think some of Professor Feser's views have shifted slightly since writing it.

    Maybe others would make some different suggestions.

  11. @Hong Kong

    I would recommend TLS before Philosophy of Mind, because TLS really shows you the context of how the mind-body problem came to be, and why it matters (if you pardon the pun).

    Definetely end off with Scholastic Metaphysics, as the basics taught to you in the other books will help you immensely in this rather advanced book.


    How do you think Feser's views have changed since writing PoM?

  12. Yes, I would say TLS, Philosophy of Mind, Aquinas and then Scholastic Metaphysics. One could skip POM and go straight to Aquinas without much detriment if one was particularly focusing on Natural Theology.

    @Daniel J,

    Well Ed admits that he had more of a Cartesian perspective when he wrote the first edition of that book, though I don't think it is as apparent as he sometimes gives the impression. The main difference I see is that he endorses a form of Representationalism/ Indirect Realism in regards to perception.

    - - - -

    Anyway a happy Christmas to everyone here and my best wishes for the New Year.

  13. @Daniel

    Perhaps in some ways. His post on Augustine and the (Carteisan-like) immateriality of the mind, certainly represented a sincere argument.

    But Representationalism? As I remember, the main critique of Representationalism was that it resulted in an infinite regress, with a man watching a picture on a television, viewing a man watching a picture on a television, viewing a man watching a picture on a television, and so on. How could the chain end up in (even an indirect) Realism, if it doesn't upfront identify where to stop at "something real". Something 'unmediated' in that sense...

    Just some thoughts.

  14. @ Daniel Joachim,

    I would pretty much echo Daniel. I don't think the differences are too substantial, but emphases shift (and are less Cartesian) in his books after POM. Regarding indirect realism, Professor Feser has written:

    I would later largely abandon the Hayekian position altogether, because it presupposes an indirect realist account of perception that I would eventually reject. (That took some time. The influence of indirect realism is clearly evident in my book Philosophy of Mind.)

    I also don't think it's the end of the world if one were to read TLS before POM! (In another respect, since TLS and Aquinas are pretty similar, it might be nice to break them up with POM in the middle.)

  15. I dislike Dr. Franklin marketing his Aristotelian realism by contrasting it to the weakest, sloppiest contemporary platonism he can find that people hold (and people do hold it), and then pressing the weirdness objection to it as hard as he can, both times I've seen him in public appearance.

    I do, however, hope he succeeds at improving standard Australian mathematics education, and note that he only had three minutes to make a statement.

  16. @Hong Kong Fooey:

    I'd say to read TLS, Aquinas, and Scholastic Metaphysics in that order. You can read POM whenever you want to, within that sequence or not.

    Ed's book on Locke is also quite good, so you may want to pick that one up sometime as well.

  17. @ Daniel J,

    Yes, that's the classic argument against Representationalism put forward by Husserl, Addler and many others. There's another to the effect that a representation could equally stand for two different things. Is it any surprise then that Hayek's 'reverse mind/brain identity', Russell and co.’s Neutral Monism and the great horde of phenomenalisims had a hard time at the end of the day in explaining exactly how they differed save verbally from the dreaded Idealism.

    I don't think Augustine's direct access argument or Descartes modal argument necessarily commit one to Representationalism any more than, say, Plato's argument for the soul's immateriality based on apprehension of universals obliges one to accept the theory of Forms though.

    I may be guilty of incorrect terminology here but can't we differentiate Perceptual Representationalism or Indirect Realism on which with have direct access to is our private sense datums (in which case we could say that the colour and texture of the apple we hold is 'subjective' though we grasp with our minds that there is a real apple out there as a substantial nexus of casual powers) and Cognitive Representationalism, really a form of irrealism, which says all we can have access to/ comprehend is our own concepts in which case here is no way for the mind to hook into reality or it has to do so by some dubious process of inference. Doesn't Putnam endorse something like that later combined with Direct Realism these days?

  18. So maybe Edward might benefit from taking the material from POM rewriting it, publishing it then making money from us... Just take my money already and all that.

  19. Smolin (in his interview) says that he did not get along with the philosophers when he was still in school. I have noticed other eminent scientists from his generation (Herbert Gintis, for one) expressing the same sentiment.

    Is there any reason for the disdain held against philosophy by scientists from the generation? I don't imagine that it would have anything to do with the philosophers being theists, since philosophy departments in the schools that these men went those were still (and are) overwhelmingly dominated by atheists.

  20. An evangelical Christian turned atheist, Mike Doolittle, otherwise known as The A-Unicornist, has written a rebuttal to this post. You can find it here: http://www.theaunicornist.com/2014/12/can-ed-feser-save-adam-and-eve.html.

    Some quotes from the combox:

    "So I'm sure that Mike [A-Unicornist] will be happy to address Feser's academic work on the issue........but could you please let Mike know when Feser actually produces some."

    "I remember hearing Feser's take on Adam and Eve when I was still Catholic. I remember being disturbed by it because it would require Adam and Eve's offspring to mate with the non-metaphysically human hominids. If they didn't have human levels of intelligence, how could they possibly give meaningful consent? Seems pretty rapey."