Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Archive for April 2012

Philosophy in Assos, July 2-5, 2012: “Passions and Emotions in Ancient and Modern Philosophy”

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The program is now up for the Philosophy in Assos summer event. For those of you who have never been before, this is one of the nicest events on the Turkish philosophical calendar.

Assos is a very small seaside village and is a natural venue for philosophy events as Aristotle lived there for many years.  The events (organised every year by Örsan Öymen) are really good philosophically, and lots of fun.

This years speakers are: Fulvia De Luise (University of Trento), Stephen Leighton (Queen’s University), Pascal Engel (University of Geneva), Amy Schmitter (University of Alberta), Simon Blackburn (University of Cambridge), Kevin Mulligan (University of Geneva) and Toni Ronnow-Rasmussen (Lund University).

Further information can be found here. The program is below the fold:

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Yahya Michot at Ankara University today.

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Yahya Michot is giving a lecture entitled “Ibn Taymiyya against Extremisms.” at Ankara University Faculty of Divinity on April 30, 2012 at 3:30pm. Venue: Yunus Emre Conference Hall

Yahya Michot (Ph.D. Catholic University of Louvain, 1981) is currently Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary, Hatford, Connecticut, USA.

Written by Sandrine Berges

April 30, 2012 at 10:34 am

Rousseau and Turkey (2-4 May, 2012)

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There will be an international conference from May 2nd-4th on “Rousseau and Turkey” in Istanbul, that will be in French and Turkish. Details can be found here. May looks like it will be Rousseau Month in Istanbul – there are a number of other events taking place in addition to the conference.

[For those who didn’t know, JJ’s dead-beat dad lived, and died, in Istanbul – he lived next to the Galata tower.]

Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Robert Gordon (UM-St. Louis) at Bogazici, May 2nd, 5-7pm.

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Robert Gordon will be giving a talk jointly organised by the Bogazici cognitive -science program and the philosophy department, on May 2nd from 5-7pm. Venue: M2170 (Engineering Building)

Professor Gordon is the founder of Simulation Theory. As far as I know (please correct me if I’m wrong about this) he introduced this expression in his extremely influential 1986 paper ““Folk Psychology as Simulation”.

“The Shared World in Which Minds Meet”


The title is based on William James, writing against Berkeleian idealism:

“Practically, … our minds meet in a world of objects which they share in common…. Your objects are over and over again the same as mine. If I ask you where some object of yours is, our old Memorial Hall, for example, you point to my Memorial Hall with your hand which I see. If you alter an object in your world, put out a candle, for example, when I am present, my candle ipso facto goes out.” (Radical Empiricism)

In the spirit of this quote, I defend a kind of externalist account of folk psychology, grounded in a hypothesis about shared neural representation. Shared representation (strongly overlapping neural implementation) is well‐established for visualizing and seeing, to give just one example; also, for pain and the perception of pain in others. I describe a kind of shared external representation that would cause us to frame our understanding of others in terms of a Jamesian shared world, by default. It is implicit in this default understanding that others have epistemic access to the world – that is, that the facts (as we ourselves believe them to be) are known to others. Shared representation of this sort would seem to support Williamson’s “knowledge first” thesis in epistemology. Although shared external representation would be consistent with a simulation account of folk psychology, it would be consistent with a pluralistic account as well; however, it would not support your typical “belief‐desire theory” theory.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Ziauddin Sardar at Fatih University

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Muslim Writers in the West Debates- 2
Event Type: Conference
Date / Time: 24 April 2012, Tuesday 13:00-15:00
Place: D Block Conference Hall
Participants: Fatih University
Organizer: Akademeia & Praxis Club
Contact: 0212 866 33 00/ 4066 / kuluplerofisi@fatih.edu.tr
Relevant Unit:
On Tuesday 24 April 2012 Professor Ziauddin Sardar is visiting Fatih University to discuss his work on Muslims in the West. This event is part of a Muslim Writers in the West Series that the Sociology Department is holding in conjunction with the English Language and Literature Department at Fatih University.

This is the second in the series. Last year, Mohsin Hamid, acclaimed author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, came to campus. That event proved to be a major success, and it is anticipated that this year’s event will have an even greater following.

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Written by rainerbroemer

April 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm

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The Liar and the Liar Denier – Or “Will the real Liar please stand up and then sit down where she’s told to?”

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Here are some thoughts (by a non-logician) on our recent workshop on semantic paradoxes.

Some Turkish philosophers have strange dreams. Erdinc’s are so weird and wonderful that he cannot even tell us about them. And after our two day workshop on paradoxes with Graham Priest and Stephen Read, Ilhan told us about a strange dream in which he met ‘The True’ who appeared as to him as a small talking metallic sphere. And I think it makes some sense to think of sentences as such spheres. So let’s suppose that sentences are small shiny metallic spheres that (a) can be named and (b) tell us what they mean. And let’s think of three such spheres. One of them is called “The Liar” and the second is called “The Liar-Denier” The third is called “The Liar-Affirmer”. The Liar and The Liar-Denier are twin sisters. The Liar-Affirmer is their younger sister. [Perhaps they’re all daughters of ‘The True’ who Ilhan met in his dream.] Anyway, this is what we know about each sphere:

(1) The Liar says: “What the Liar says is False”.

(2) The Liar-Denier says: “What the Liar says is False”.

(3) The Liar-Affirmer says: “What the Liar says is True”

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm

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Feminist History of Philosophy

I recently came across a great textbook: An Unconventional History of Philosophy, edited by Karen Warren.

The book is an introduction to the history of philosophy presented as a dialogue between men and women writers. Most of the usual suspects are there, from Plato to Wittgenstein, but for each extract from a male philosopher, Warren gives us an extract from a woman philosopher writing in the same period, about the same problems. So alongside Plato and Aristotle, we have Diotima, Perictione and Theano, Hildegard and Heloise accompany Augustine and Abelard. Then there’s Descartes and Elizabeth, Hobbes and Macaulay, Locke and Masham, Leibniz and Conway, Rousseau and Wollstonecraft, Kant and Van Schurman, Mill and Taylor, Heidegger and Arendt, Dewey and Addams, Wittgenstein and Anscombe, Sartre and Beauvoir. The exerpts are short, so quite suitable as an introduction for first year undergraduates, and also apt to be supplemented by other texts…

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Written by Sandrine Berges

April 13, 2012 at 11:32 am

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Seeming to see: a doxastic theory of perceptual sensation

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How does blue show up in the experience of blue, if it’s not a blue quale? Perhaps in the same way blue is present to you when you’re thinking of something blue.

I am going to imagine that every perceiver omits the step that leads from (1) the neurological effects of sensory stimulation through (2) the presence of a quale to (3) belief about what one is perceiving. In the absence of (2) I am going to propose that to have a sense impression is to acquire a belief. But let me be more precise.

I’m going to propose a doxastic theory of sensory states. (doxa: belief, in Greek.) On this theory, seeming to see something blue is becoming disposed to believe that one sees something blue. It’s analyzed in terms of inclinations to believe things about what one is directly seeing.

(1)                    S seems to see something F iff S is inclined to believe that he/she directly          sees that something F is there.

The theory interprets ‘It seems to me that …’ as ‘I am inclined to believe that …’. This expresses a familiar propositional attitude. And one ordinary use of ‘it seems to me’ is indeed to speak about what one is inclined to believe: “It seems to me that all politicians are corrupt.”

I will call your attention to three primary features of the doxastic theory. First, the blue which seeming to see involves is real, genuine blue—the blue of the sky, the blue of my jeans, and not an ineffable blue indescribable in any public language. Secondly, absolutely nothing is blue when I only seem to see something blue. Thirdly, the blue is internal to the object of my experience.

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Written by shvoss

April 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm

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Turing Workshop at Yeditepe University, Istanbul [4-5 May 2012]

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Conferences on Alan Turing’s Heritage

Turing Centenary Meeting, Yeditepe University, Istanbul/Turkey

May 4-5, 2012


(free registration)

Day 1 (May 4th 2012) — TURING LECTURES 2012 (for a broad audience, in

Day 2  (May 5th 2012) – A session and a Panel ON TURING and
COMPUTATION (in English)

Session 6 [in English] (14:00-16:00)

Prof. Dr. Klaus Mainzer  (Carl von Linde-Akademie, Technische
Universität München)
Is the Universe a Computer?

Assist. Prof. Hilmi Demir (Bilkent University, Department of Philosophy)
Beyond Turing Computation: Myth or a Genuine Possibility?

Prof. Dr. Vincent C. Müller (Anatolia College/ACT & University of Oxford)
Can the Brain Be Realized on a (Different) Turing Machine?

Panel 2 [in English] (16:30-18:00)

The Nature and Limits of Computation
Prof. Dr. Varol Akman ( Bilkent University, Department of Philosophy /
 Department of Computer Engineering  )
Prof. Dr. Klaus Mainzer (Technische Universität München, Carl von
Linde Academy)
Prof. Dr. Vincent C. Müller ( Anatolia College/ACT & University of Oxford)
Prof. Dr. Cem Say (Boğaziçi University, Department of Computer Engineering)

Please consult the Facebook event page for updated news: http://www.facebook.com/events/266540033438914/

Written by oejder

April 12, 2012 at 10:46 am

Posted in Events in Turkey, Logic

Kierkegaard in Antalya

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In February, I had the honour to be invited to speak at the Antalya Philosophy Days, Ethics, Politics and Otherness on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.  A very beautiful location in which neighbouring mountains could be seen from the Atatürk Cultural Centre, where the event was held.  I had the opportunity to meet great people from the Antalya municipality, and the Department of Philosophy at Akdeniz (Mediterranean) University, in Antalya, along with many other people in Turkish philosophy.  

I’m still thinking about the issues in the paper I wrote and I’ve recently started some more work on that paper, and linked papers, so this seems a pod moment to share a précis of what I was talking about at Antalya.  I am pasting the proposal I sent to the Antalya organisers before, without revision, because it is a continuous bit of writing, rather than staccato summary, and I still think it conveys what I am trying to do in my work on Kierkegaard as a thinker about subjectivity, ethics, literature and politics.  Comments are very welcome. 

In Two Ages, Kierkegaard is concerned with the difference between the revolutionary and the reflective, through its appearance in a novel.  This intersects with a concern regarding the difference between antiquity and modernity, to be found in his thoughts about ancient and modern drama.  This is part of Kierkegaard’s general examination of subjectivity with regard to the aesthetic, the ethical and the religious; the particular, the universal and the ethical.  In this context, the theme is developed in Two Ages of the need to combine prudence and infinite enthusiasm, going back to Socrates.  That issue is taken up by Samuel Fleischacker in A Third Concept of Liberty (1999).  Fleischacker discusses Kierkegaard with reference to the need to present the theoretical through the particular; and with reference to the difficulty of a Christian in visiting the Deer park, given the way that the religious person is concerned with the absolute, and keeping to it. Both these issues appear in Two Ages with regard to the relation between prudence and the absolute.  Though, Fleischacker draws attention to a tension, he lacks Kierkegaard’s sense of the paradox, of the force of conflict and the necessity of that conflict.  Fleischacker’s account draws on Kant’s critique of aesthetic judgement, but is less engaged with literature than Kierkegaard, and in general Fleischacker is dismissive of any strongly aesthetic point of view, or any deeply subjective point of view.  He offers a way of bridging liberty as freedom from external constraint, and liberty as self-mastery, through a third concept of phronetic mastery, leaning towards prudence over enthusiasm.  That harmonising third term is not in the spirit of Kierkegaard, as for him it is opposition, and living through that opposition subjectively which is important.  He demonstrates the nature of the modern public, along with its attitudes to ethics and politics with a deep unifying argument, in the terms of paradox.  The problem Kierkegaard identifies at the basis of any understanding of the political world, or any understanding of the public domain, is one of equality, excellence and envy.  In antiquity, the excellence of a relative few apparently undermining inevitably stimulates envy, dealt with both though comic drama and through ritualised exclusion, as in the Athenian institution of ostracism.  That still allows the community to be shaped by the excellence of the few, by emphasising it in a negative way,  so resisting the emptiness of formal equality of individuals gathered in an aggregate.  In the modern world, Kierkegaard finds an alternation between the revolutionary reshaping of society though form, passion and immediacy; and a reflective emptying out of form, passion and immediacy so that we have only formalism, prudentialism, and reflection.  A public has emerged which cannot accept excellence, and insists on the superiority of majority opinion to any form of excellence.  Associations are experienced as negative limits, since the public is a pure aggregate which cannot form itself in associations of a positive kind.  Kierkegaard’s response includes a commitment to the role of literature in giving shape to the chaos of the times, and for maintaining enthusiasm behind the mask of prudence.  Kierkegaard suggests that monarchy rejected in revolution, can only be accepted in the modern world through its reduction to mere symbol.  He is seeking antique substance and excellence, along with the form and passion of revolution, in oder to transform modern reflectiveness, through concrete institutions, and rules, which recognise individuality.   The loss of the antique vision cannot be simply negative for Kierkegaard, since he sees it as connected with the Christian distinction between the religious and the worldly.  What fits Kierkegaard’s preconceptions is a politics, connected with an aesthetics, which draws us to the absolute through social forms that do not substitute for the absolute or obliterate the individual.  These are the ways we encounter subjectivity and the problems of communication.


Written by Barry Stocker

April 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Georg Northoff (Canada Research Chair in Neuropsychiatry) at Bogazici, Monday April 16th.

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A Joint Bogazici Cognitive-Science and Philosophy Tallk

“What is Neurophilosophy?”
Georg Northoff (Canada Research Chair in Neuropsychiatry)

Monday April 16th, 5-7pm, M1170 (Engineering Building)

Abstract: Neurophilosophy is a young and novel field right at the intersection between neuroscience and philosophy. Unlike more
established disciplines, it has not yet an established method that needs to be developed in the future as part of a future ‘Theoretical
Neurophilosophy’. At the same time though Neurophilosophy is a highly promising field of the future which will be able to provide novel answers to questions discussed in philosophy since more than 3000 years. This will not only enrich neuroscience and provide new ideas for experimental designs but will also change and reverberate in philosophy itself by allowing for a shift from the hitherto mind-based philosophy to a more brain-based neurophilosophy.
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Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Andrea Pető (Budapest) at Fatih University 10 April 2012 1.30pm

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Andrea Pető (Central European University Budapest, Department of Gender Studies, see

https://gender.ceu.hu/profiles/faculty/andrea_peto )

will give a talk on

Contextualising far right wing movements and gendered mobilization in Hungary

Tue. 10 April 2012

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Written by rainerbroemer

April 9, 2012 at 8:07 am

Posted in Events in Turkey

Two talks by Brendan Larvor (Hertfordshire) at Bogazici on April 12th and 13th, 2012

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Brendan Larvor (Hertfordshire)  will give two talks at Bogazici on April 12th and 13th. Here are the details:

Feeling the Force of Argument” , Thursday April 12th ( 5 – 7 pm ) in room M1170

“What Philosophy of Mathematical Practice Can Teach Argumentation Theory about Diagrams and Pictures”, Friday, April 13th ( 3 – 5 pm ) : M1170

Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 4, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Conference on Indian and Islamic logic at Istanbul University, April 9-10, 2012

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There will be a two day conference at Istanbul University next week on Indian and Islamic Logic. The poster can be found here. UPDATE: The schedule can be found here.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 3, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Posted in Events in Turkey, Logic

Workshop with Graham Priest and Stephen Read at Bogaziçi (April 5th and 6th, 2012)

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“Semantic Paradoxes: Two approaches”

with Graham Priest (Melbourne/CUNY) 

and Stephen Read (St Andrews) 

Thursday and Friday, April 5th and 6th, 2012, Bogaziçi University , Istanbul, 1pm-5.30 pm in the Turgut Noyan Salonu (North Campus, next to the library)

UPDATE: Here are Stephen Read’s slides: Thursday 1Thursday 2Friday 1Friday 2.

Graham Priest and Stephen Read are two of the leading contemporary philosophical logicians. Graham is probably the best known proponent of paraconsistent logic and dialetheism. I’ll try and write a separate post explaining what this means for those of you who are not familiar with these terms. They are also both important historians of philosophy. Stephen is one of the leading scholars in the world on Medieval logic, and Graham has written quite extensively on the history of philosophy and Asian philosophy. This workshop will include sessions both on the history of philosophy (and logic) and  some sessions on contemporary logic. This short piece by Graham in the New York Times might be good background reading for those of you new to this topic.

For background reading Stephen Read has supplied a short article (here) outlining his approach, which is based upon that of the medieval logician Thomas Bradwardine. He has also supplied his recent translation of Bradwardine’s Insolubilia (here). Graham Priest has supplied a longer article on paraconsistency and dialetheism, which will be appearing in a handbook of logic (here). Parts of this are quite technical – but the first 20 pages, where he discusses the history of paraconsistency and dialetheism (discussing, amongst other things  Aristotle, Plotinus, Hegel and Indian Logic), are quite accessible. Details below the fold. All welcome.

We’re discussing Graham’s paper in our weekly reading group (which normally takes place on Thursdays from 5-7pm). If any of you would be interested in joining this group, please email me: Lucas (lthorpe@gmail.com).

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 2, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I have a dream! But I can’t remember it…

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In my previous post, “Is Truth Beneficial and/or Socially Constructed?,” I mentioned as a counterexample to the pragmatist theory of truth a nightmare a person had which she did not tell anyone about and kept as a secret for the rest of her life. The nightmare was so horrible and embarrassing that every time she remembered her nightmare, she was disturbed. Her life became a nightmare of sorts because of that nightmare.

Actually this kind of scenario is very rare in real life. The fact is that we tend to forget our dreams and nightmares soon after waking up. Even before we get up from bed, most of the content of our dream has already evaporated from our memory. We remember only very few, if any, of our dreams and nightmares in the rest of our lives. The ones we remember for a while are the ones which were extremely interesting or shocking for us, or those we had the chance to tell other people about on many occasions, which kept our memory of them alive. Ask yourself how many of your dreams and nightmares you still remember. I bet very few, if any.

The interesting thing is that we forget even the most vivid of our dreams and most frightful of our nightmares in the twinkling of an eye (unless our memory of them is reinforced by telling other people about them or by intentional recalling, for example). We forget our dreams even though some of them are more vibrant than certain waking experiences which we remember for much longer time.

Psychologists and brain physiologists tell us that dreams serve a useful function for our brain. So we have to have them. But it seems we also have to forget them fast after having them. I think there is a simple evolutionary explanation of this phenomenon. If we were to remember our dreams long after we woke up, we would be disposed to confuse the memories of our dreams with the memories of our waking experiences. Suppose I have a dream in which a friend of mine does something evil to me or an enemy of mine does a big favor for me. If my brain were to retain as lively a memory of that dream as the memories of my real life experiences, I might mistakenly think the contents of my dream correspond to some real experiences of mine that occurred in the past, and my attitude towards my friend or towards my enemy would unnecessarily be affected by that mistake. Such disorientations clearly would have negative survival value and therefore would be blocked by the mechanisms of human evolution. Hence the elusiveness of our dream contents.*

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Written by Erdinç Sayan

April 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Stephen Read at Bogazici (April 4th, 2012)

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Stephen Read (St Andrews) will be giving a talk at Bogazici this Wednesday, April 4th, on “Proof-theoretic Validity and the Meaning of the Logical Constants” from 5-7pm in TB130.

His paper paper “General-elimination harmony and the meaning of the logical constants” might be good background reading.

UPDATE: Here are the slides for Stephen Read’s talk: Istanbul Proof theory handout.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 1, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Posted in Events in Turkey, Logic

On individual essence

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In ‘Advice on Modal Logic’ Dana Scott presents truth conditions for indexical sentences like this:

for all persons p, s is true for p if and only if S.

This raises the question which instantiations of this schema will present truth conditions for particular persons p. For example,

‘I am wise’ is true for SV if and only if the only philosopher in Tarabya is wise

seems somehow to miss the mark.

Perhaps what we need to complete Scott’s theory is a way of specifying SV’s individual essence or (in Latin) haecceitas.

It turns out that just such a theory was proposed by the late medieval philosopher Duns Scotus, who must surely have felt he had much more philosophy to give the world when he passed away prematurely at age 43.

Dana Scott modestly takes no credit for the theory of haecceitas. But how could we have missed the evidence – supplied not only by the serendipitous completion of one man’s theory 680 years earlier by the other’s, but also by the fact that one man’s name is the anglicized form of the other’s – that in fact Dana Scott is the reincarnation of Duns Scotus?

Written by shvoss

April 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized