Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Archive for March 2012

Philosophy Talk, Istanbul Technical University, 03.04

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“When Scientific Theories Constrain Scientific Concepts:
The Case of the Antagonistic Pleiotropy Theory of Ageing and the Concept of ‘Rate of Ageing’”

Stefano Giaimo

IFOM-IEO, Milan

Date: 3rd April, Time: 13:30. Place: Seminar Room. Department of Humanities and Social Science, Faculty of Science and Letters. Istanbul Technical University, Ayazağa Campus. On the Taksim metro line.

Written by Barry Stocker

March 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Sorin Baiasu at Bilkent

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Sorin Baiasu, from Keele University, will give the following talk on Tuesday 10 April, 15.40, G160.

THE EPISTEMIC CHARACTER OF KANT’S PRACTICAL JUSTIFICATION

The attempt to discuss the process of practical justification in Kant encounters several difficulties. First and paradoxically, although an examination of Kant?s justification of various (especially practical) norms
is under way in the literature and most of the Kantians have something to say about this topic, yet not much has been written on Kant?s view of justification [Rechtfertigung]. Secondly, what has been written on Kant?s Rechtfertigung suggests that practical Rechtfertigung in Kant is a non-epistemic notion and, hence, a notion that cannot be placed within an account of Kant?s moral or practical epistemology. Thirdly, Kant makes use of the notion of Rechtfertigung in many ways and many contexts, so much so that it sometimes looks like we are dealing with more than one concept under the same name. In this paper, I hope to answer all these questions in a way which shows that Kant?s view of practical justification is unitary and coherent, that it is significant for practical epistemology and that it overlaps with the contemporary notion of justification in a way which makes it relevant for the numerous current debates.

All welcome.

Written by Sandrine Berges

March 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Iulian Toader (Bucharest) at Bogazici, March 30th.

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Iulian Toader (University of Bucharest — Center for Logic, History and Philosophy of Science) will be giving a talk on “Weylean Skepticism” at Bogazici University this Friday, March 30th, from 3-5 pm in TB130.

Iulian Toader received his Phd from the University of Notre Dame, where he worked with Michael Detlefsen and Don Howard.

Abstract:

In this paper, I present a view according to which there is a fundamental tension between the conditions required for scientific objectivity and those needed for mathematical understanding: to the extent that it helps one attain objectivity, mathematics may do so only at the expense of understanding, and to the extent that it aims at understanding, may do so only by sacrificing objectivity. I think that this view should be attributed to Weyl and I therefore call it Weylean skepticism. After clarifying what Weyl himself thought were the necessary conditions for understanding and objectivity, I explain why they lead to this type of skepticism. Then I argue that there is no tenable answer to Weylean skepticism in the contemporary literature, which motivates my exploration of some possible responses.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 26, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Christiane Czygan (Hamburg) at Fatih University (2 more)

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Tuesday 3 April 2012

14.00-15.30

Christiane Czygan (Hamburg)

“Sources of Inspiration and the Relevance of Westernisation for Ottoman Intellectuals and Statesmen in the 19.th Century”

Room to be announced

Fatih University is at the Hadımköy exit of the TEM motorway towards Edirne

Public transport: 418 bus from Yenibosna Metro (ca. 60 min), E-60 bus from Mecidiyeköy (less than 60 min, but quite rare – will miss beginning of talk)

see http://www.fatih.edu.tr/?ulasimbuyukcekmece&language=EN

Written by rainerbroemer

March 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Johannes Fritsche (Boğaziçi) at Fatih University

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My first attempt at blogging, sorry for potential mishaps

Tuesday 27 March 2012

14.00-15.30

Johannes Fritsche (Boğaziçi Üniversitesi)

“Kant’s Ethics as an Explanation of Common Sense”

Fatih University is at the Hadımköy exit of the TEM motorway towards Edirne

Public transport: 418 bus from Yenibosna Metro (ca. 60 min), E-60 bus from Mecidiyeköy (less than 60 min, but quite rare – will miss beginning of talk)

see http://www.fatih.edu.tr/?ulasimbuyukcekmece&language=EN

Written by rainerbroemer

March 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm

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Feminist History of Philosophy

I have just finished a draft of a chapter on virtue ethics in the Middle Ages from the perspective of women. As I knew next to nothing about that period (twelfth century) before I started, I decided to focus mostly on Heloise. I could have written about Hildegard of Bingen, as Barbara Newman has written a very nice book about her, but I chose Heloise because she was in dialogue with other philosophers of her time (well, Abelard, anyway) and because she is steeped in whatever was left-over of ancient virtue ethics – she is particularly fond of Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius. 

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Written by Sandrine Berges

March 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Marc Rolli: Additional and Corrective Post

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Marc Rolli has just contacted me to offer a more accurate version of his research and publication interests than in the my post of 19th March.  This is the correct list.

 Modern French philosophy, philosophical pragmatism,
classical German philosophy (Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche) and the history of
(philosophical  and non-philosophical) anthropology (mainly critical).  

I wanted to pass on the news about Marc’s arrival in the Turkish philosophical scene as possible and I didn’t have time to check my account of his interests with him.  I’m very happy to post this correction, and to thank Marc for passing on the information.  

Written by Barry Stocker

March 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm

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Oliver Leaman in Ankara University, 23 March

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I just heard that Oliver Leaman will be giving a paper in Ankara tomorrow.

Here’s the announcement:

“Oliver Leaman is giving a lecture at Ankara University Faculty of Divinity on March 23, 2012 at 2pm (tomorrow). The title of the lecture is “Can Art be Religious: The Case for Islamic Art”

Venue: Yunus Emre Conference Hall

The lecture will be in English and no Turkish translation will be provided. I am sorry for the late announcement. Everybody is welcome. Please kindly let anybody who might be interested know. Many thanks in advance.

Oliver Leaman (Ph.D. Cambridge, 1979) is a Professor of Philosophy and Zantker Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Kentucky. He has published extensively on Islamic, Jewish and eastern Philosophy.

Ankara University Faculty of Divinity is conveniently located in Besevler, and only a few minutes walk away from the Besevler Station of ANKARAY.”

Written by Sandrine Berges

March 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Cognitive Science MA Program of Boğaziçi University

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While doing philosophy absolutely requires a certain flexibility of mind and a great deal of inquisitiveness, interdisciplinary science that involves philosophy surely introduces many additional challenges, and promises broader perspectives to the unrelenting scholar. One such area involves the greatest puzzle of our time: the brain! Cognitive sciences look at this magnificently complex organ at different resolutions, attack it with different techniques, scrutinize how it performs its myriads of functions, slice it, dice it, model it, and then try to integrate everything that can be said about it into something the poor scholar can deal with… An arduous task!

One of the two established Cognitive Science programs in Turkey is the Cognitive Science MA program of Boğaziçi University, to which the Philosophy Department naturally contributes, in addition to Computer Engineering, Linguistics, and Psychology disciplines. Its aim is to introduce the students to the investigation of cognitive processes at various dimensions.

This program is now admitting students for the 2012-2013 term. The application period is 2-24 April 2012, so please circulate this among people who might be interested. More information is available on the program webpages: http://www.cogsci.boun.edu.tr

If you are interested in Cognitive Science in Turkey, please join the Bilişsel Bilim LinkedIn group, jointly maintained by Boğaziçi and ODTÜ Cognitive Science programs. Jointly organized conferences, colloquia and such will be announced there. If you don’t like LinkedIn, we do have social media alternatives, send salah [at] boun.edu.tr an e-mail and keep in touch! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by albertalisalah

March 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm

The letter kills but the spirit gives life (Part 2) Philosophy vs. literature

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Biological life and death are superficial aspects of real life and death. In this post I want to think about another aspect of real life and death: the ways in which literature and philosophy can bring life and death.

There’s a big difference between speaking and writing. For one thing, speaking makes use of sounds that are natural to human beings and are found in tiny children. Writing makes use of marks that are unnatural and conventional. Neither of them has intrinsic meaning, but speaking has something intrinsically human about it, while writing only uses a conventional craft to try to create images of human sounds.

The problems with literature go beyond its unresponsiveness to the reader. That’s a philosophical flaw to which Plato rightly objects. But even as an art it is flawed: it’s deficient both sensually and socially.

Oxford University provides vivid symptoms of the flaws. At Oxford the classics are called “literae humaniores,” which means “more humane letters,” – it usually being explained to those not in the know that “letters” are really studies, not meaningless alphabetic marks. At Oxford if you graduate with a degree in classics you have “read Greats at Oxford” which (again for those not in the know) means that you have studied, discussed, written about, thought about, and yes read classical writings. You may write the word “letters” in Latin. You may call them humane. But letters remain letters just the same.

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Written by shvoss

March 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm

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Marc Rolli: Another Philosopher has come to Turkey

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I’m pleased to report that the growing community of anglophone philosophers in Turkey has been joined by Marc Michael Rölli, who started work in the Department of Philosophy at Fatih University in Istanbul this semester.  Professor Rolli was previously at Darmstadt Technical University (Germany). He has been productive in the areas of Continental Philosophy (particularly Deleuze) and the Philosophy of Social Science (particularly Anthropology).  He looks like a valuable addition to the philosophy scene here, so  I look forward to seeing his future work, and his contributions to philosophical life in Turkey.

Publications (in English and German) include

‘The Story of Repetition’, Parallax 18(1), 2012

Kritik der anthropologischen Vernunft [Critique of Anthropological Reason), Matthes and Seitz, Berlin, 2011.

Philosophie and Nicht-Philosophie: Gilles Deleuze – Aktuelle Diskussionen [Philosophy and Non-Philosophy: Gilles Deleuze –

Contemporary Discussions], edited with Friedrich Balke, Transcript Verlag, 2011

‘Deleuze on Intensity Differentials and the Being of the Sensible’, Deleuze Studies 3, 2009

‘Micropolitical Associations’ (with Ralf Krause), book chapter in Deleuze and Politics, Edinburgh University Press, 2008.

Written by Barry Stocker

March 19, 2012 at 12:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Hunger and Desire: Am I Odd?

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Most philosophers assume that we all experience the world and ourselves in pretty much the same way. When Galen Strawson was in Istanbul a couple of years ago we talked quite a bit about this. He thinks that different individuals can differ greatly in the way they experience themselves and the world. He is particularly interested in the distinction between two opposing character traits which he calls ‘diachronic’ and ‘non-diachronic’ (which he sometimes calls ‘episodic’). He explains this distinction in the following terms:

“The basic form of Diachronic self-experience is that one naturally figures oneself, considered as a self or person as opposed to a whole human being, as something that was there in the (more or less distant) past and will be there in the (more or less distant) future where ‘more or less distant’ allows for considerable variation. I take it that many people are naturally Diachronic…  If one is non-Diachronic one does not figure oneself, considered as a self, as something that was there in the (more or less distant) past and will be there in the (more or less distant) future. One has little or no sense that the self that one is was there in the (more or less distant) past and will be there in the future, although one is perfectly well aware that one has long-term continuity considered as a whole human being… I suspect that a human being’s basic position on the Diachronic/non-Diachronic spectrum is likely to be a matter of brain chemistry, and that marked differences in ‘temporal temperament’ will be found across all cultures, with the same general spread in a so-called revenge culture, with its essentially Diachronic emphasis, as in a more happy-go-lucky culture.” (“Narrativity and non-Narrativity“, see also his “Against Narrativity”)

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Two philosophy talks on science and values at Sabancı

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Helen Longino (Stanford) and Phillip Kitcher (Columbia) will be giving talks at Sabancı University. All welcome.

Orthodox vs. Non-Orthodox Feminist Values in Science, Helen Longino

21 March, 15:00-17:00 FASS 2034

This talk explores the heuristic role of so-called cognitive values in the sciences, contrasting mainstream values with a set of values advanced by feminist scientists and scholars.  The epistemological status of these values and the social implications of research guided by one or the other set will be the focus of discussion.

Can We Save Democracy And The Planet, Too? Philip Kitcher

29 March, 15:00-17:00,  FASS 2034

The current debate about the existence and the consequences of anthropogenic global warming is the most important instance of a general problem: How is scientific expertise to be integrated with democratic values?    I shall use this urgent case to explore the general problem, and will argue that our current situation is handicapped by a number of misconceptions about both science and democracy. Specifically, public discussions are dominated by an image of science as value-free, and by a picture of democracy as thriving on open debate.    When these misconceptions are traced to their sources, it becomes evident that ideals of the transmission of information are at odds with current social conditions, that standard scientific practices can easily foster public misunderstandings, and that there is an urgent need to rethink roles and institutions we often take for granted.   Specifically, careful attention needs to be given to the role of the scientist, and the rules for public discussion of complex questions.

Written by faikkurtulmus

March 18, 2012 at 9:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Is the “philosophy of race” parochial?

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Before I get started I want to make it clear that in asking this question I am not questioning the value of the work being done in the “philosophy of race”. I am merely questioning the wisdom of calling this sub-discipline of philosophy “the philosophy of race”. And I’m not sure what my answer to this question is. I have a suspicion that “the philosophy of race”  might be parochial – and I’ll try and explain my reasons here – but perhaps my suspicions are mistaken. If my suspicions are right, then perhaps the conclusion to be drawn is that we need a broader general category that includes philosophy of race as a sub-category. This post is a belated response to a recent post at newAPPS (here) and to the fact that the philosophy of race is now included as a speciality on the gourmet rankings (here).

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 15, 2012 at 10:17 pm

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Helen Longino at Bogazici (Monday, March 19th, 2012)

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Helen Longino (Stanford),  one of the most important contemporary philosophers of science (and perhaps the most influential feminist philosopher of science) will be giving a talk at Bogazici. Everyone welcome.

“Studying Human Behavior: Epistemological,Ontological, and Social Quandaries”  Monday, March 19th, 4-6pm, M1170 (Engineering Building).

Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Remembering Ulric Neisser

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Ulric Neisser, an American psychologist and one of the founders of cognitive psychology died last month. Neisser’s life, including his major contributions to the revolution of the study of the human cognition is well documented; see for instance, the NY Times obituary and the Mind Hacks blog. My intention is not to replicate what has appeared elsewhere but to add to it by focusing on Neisser’s later work in ecological psychology, more specifically, his interdisciplinary research on the self which has guided the content and methodology of my own work. I take this as an opportunity to remember him, with the added hope of sparking the interest of those less familiar with his later work.

Behaviourism dominated the scientific study of the mind in the first half of the 20th century. Behaviourists declared that psychology should not attempt to address internal mental events and mechanisms but should focus on the observable markers of cognition, such as stimuli, responses, and the consequences of these responses. Despite its contribution to the development of rigorous experimental techniques and to the domain of learning, behaviourism was limited in explaining many interesting dimensions of human cognition, such as the development of language.

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Written by Serife Tekin

March 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Two talks by Andreas Blank at Bogazici (March 22nd and 23rd, 2012)

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Andreas Blank (Hamburg) will give two talks at Bogazici on March 22nd and March 23rd.

“Henry More on Existential Dependence and Immaterial Extension”, Thursday March 22nd, TB365, 5-7pm

“Aquinas and Soto on Derogatory Judgment and Noncomparative Justice”,  Friday March 23rd, M1170 (Engineering Building) , 3-5pm.

Respondent: Lars Vinx (Bilkent)

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Epistemic Realism and the goal of Epistemology

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I’m teaching a class this Semester on ‘The British Realist Tradition from Reid to Williamson’, and I tell my students that I’m an ‘Epistemic Realist’ and this post is an attempt to work out what I mean by this. Anyway here’s a first, inadequate, stab at explaining what I mean by epistemic realism: “There is such a thing as knowing, and one central goal of epistemology is to understand more clearly what sort of thing it is”.  I think that knowledge is something like a mental natural kind (or perhaps a set of distinct natural kinds) and the task of epistemology is not primarily to get a better understanding of our concept of “knowledge”, but to discover truths about knowledge and to provide a better conceptualization of this aspect of the mental. A central question for an epistemic realist has to do with the relationship between our epistemic language and epistemic facts – and on this I’m sympathetic to Thomas Reid.

Following Reid: (1) I’m a believer in the defeasible authority of common sense. (2) I think that it is not immediately clear what belongs to common sense and what does not. And (3) I take the fact that a certain distinction is found in all natural languages to be a defeasible indication that the distinction is part of common sense. Thus I think that if a distinction is to be found in all languages, this is a good indication that it reflects a real distinction in the world. (I discussed this briefly in a previous post here)

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Philosophy Seminar at Istanbul Technical University, 13th March

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David Horst (University of Leipzig) will present a seminar paper on ‘Practical Knowledge’ (abstract below)

Day: Tuesday, 13th March

Time: 13:30

Place: Seminar Room, Department of Humanities and Social Science, Faculty of Science and Letters, Istanbul Technical University, Ayazağa Campus (which is in Maslak not Ayazağa!), on the metro line from Taksim.

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Written by Barry Stocker

March 8, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Wenglish: A Language with No Sentences

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It has been more than a year since I have been working on the idea that truth is in fact a form of reference. I started writing a text last year around this time, intending it to be a journal article, but then it got so long that I am now thinking of turning it into a book. The idea first came up when I was working on one of the chapters of my book on curiosity which just recently came out. I hold that being curious requires one to attempt to refer to something unknown to him/her. This allowed me to deal with the wh-questions easily but I had a serious problem with direct questions, or better yes/no questions. Initially I used Frege’s theory to tackle with it but it was too artificial. I liked the Fregean idea that sentences are in fact referring expressions, but I could not convince myself that true sentences refer to the True (whatever that may be)– and even worse is that false sentences refer to the False. So I started searching for an alternative theory which is what led to this work. I then revised and made substantial additions to my curiosity book, but it was at best scratching the surface. In the past year or so I gave four separate talks on it, originally with the title *TRUTH IS REFERENCE*, in Virginia, Milan, St Andrews, and Bogazici.  The part of the talk that attracted the most amount of attention is where I develop a hypothetical language that I call *Wenglish*. This is a language which is just like English except that it does not have declarative sentences. Well that’s what I say, and though most of my listeners seemed to agree with me someone in the audience in one of my talks objected to it (I think it was in Virginia and it might have been Trenton Merrics, but I have to check this).  Wenglish also does not have a separate truth predicate, but of course it has the notion of *reference*. *Reference* is not a predicate though, because Wenglish does not have any predicates either. Rather it has descriptional functions that do same job.  Anyway I argue that whatever that we can say in English we can say in Wenglish. If this is correct it shows all three things that I wish to show: truth is a form of reference; to say that a sentence is true is to say that it refers; and to say that a sentence is false is to say that it fails to refer. Anyway here is a short passage in Wenglish for you to figure out how it works:

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Written by ilhan inan

March 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

Call for Abstracts: ‘The City and Philosophy’ at Uludağ University, October 11-13th, 2012.

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There is a call for abstracts out for a conference on ‘The City and Philosophy’ to be held at Uludağ University (Bursa) from October 11th-13th. The keynote speakers will be  Alain Badiou and Ioanna Kucuradi.  The deadline to submit abstracts is May 25th. Details can be found here.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Posted in Events in Turkey

“Minds, Bodies, and Problems” conference, Bilkent University, June 7-8, 2012

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After several weeks of processing submissions, comparing the referee reports on them, and negotiating various potential lists of speakers based on various criteria, I have put together the final list of submitted papers that I expect to be presented at the “Minds, Bodies, and Problems” conference, hosted by Bilkent University on 7-8 June, 2012.

Bilkent University

Bilkent University

All papers have been anonymously refereed, and I would like to thank the reviewers (Murat Aydede, Sandy Berkovski, David Chalmers, Tim Crane, Hilmi Demir, Katalin Farkas, Shaun Gallagher, Kourken Michaelian, Vincent Müller, Emre Özgen, Erdinc Sayan, Simon Wigley, and Bill Wringe) for their kind help in the selection process. Their input is very much appreciated.

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Talk at Istanbul University by Prof. Remo Bodei (March 12th, 2012)

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Remo Bodei (UCLA/Pisa) will be giving a talk on ‘Memory, Oblivion and Collective Identity’ (in English) at Istanbul University on Monday March 12th at 11am. Details can be found here.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Events in Turkey

On causes of causal regularities

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According to a standard construal, Hume proposed the following analysis of causation:

Event C caused event E iff (1) C was temporally prior to E, (2) C and E were contiguous in space and in time, and (3) events of type C are always followed by events of type E.

This is the prototype of the regularity or constant-conjunction theories of causation. Causation is linked to regularity of occurrence of events similar to C with events similar to E.

In every corner of the universe scratched matches light (when there is presence of oxygen and absence of water sprinklers around, etc.). Let me now ask a childish question: Why is this uniformity? How come scratched matches behave the same way everywhere? Do matches have telepathic communication, saying to each other, “Let’s light whenever we are scratched”? What “coordinates” or “oversees” them, so that they can display similar or repeated patterns of behavior all over the universe?

This is the same question as the question of what ensures the sameness of a law of nature in the entire universe. If one wants to say that something’s being a “law of nature” just means that it applies uniformly all over the universe, OK, then I am asking, “What sustains those laws to be effective everywhere?”. Two electrons repel each other, and an electron and a positron attract each other everywhere in the universe (or so we believe). In virtue of what is the uniformity of the behavior of the electrons and positrons and other things guaranteed? In other words, what causes regularities to hold everywhere? What is the causal infrastructure underlying regularities in nature?

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Written by Erdinç Sayan

March 5, 2012 at 1:04 am

Posted in Metaphysics

The letter kills but the spirit gives life (1): The Paradox of the Seventh Letter and the Platonic Method

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Biological life and death are superficial aspects of real life and death. That’s my understanding of the New Testament and many spiritual traditions. When Paul of Tarsus says that “the letter kills but the spirit gives life” his point is that the moral law brings real death to any who violate it but that the Spirit of God can bring real life to that person.

            In these two posts I want to think with you about another aspect of real life and death: the ways in which literature and philosophy can bring life and death. First (of course), philosophy.

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Written by shvoss

March 2, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Two talks by Zoltan Somhegyi at Bogazici University (March 8th and 9th)

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Zoltan Somhegyi (Szeged University, Hungary) will give two talks at Bogazici University this week:

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm