Archive for November 2016
Title: The Gulf Between Practical and Theoretical Reason
Abstract: I will argue that it’s a great mistake to blur the line between practical and theoretical forms of reasoning (as done for instance in the pragmatistic traditions of epistemology, which are now prominently exemplified in Subjective Bayesianism), not least because the diagnosis of bias in science becomes distorted if the line is blurred. In this talk I will articulate the distinction between practical and theoretical reasoning in terms of differences in the norms themselves, with the most important being asymmetries in their preemption patterns. Elements of this account have roots in lines of argument found in Aristotle and Kant. The differences between practical and theoretical I will adduce will explain a certain puzzle: why is it that we (correctly) judge Buridan’s ass to be completely above reproach when he picks (randomly, if necessary) between two identical and equally convenient bales of hay, but that a detective or judge faced with identical evidence for the guilt of two different suspects is decidedly at fault if she should simply “pick” one as the guilty party. The answer is—as it must be—that the standards of reasoning to which we hold the principals accountable in these contrasting cases are categorically different.
Date: Monday 5 December, 2016
Biography: Mariam Thalos is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Utah. Her work focuses primarily on foundational questions in the sciences, especially the physical, social and decisional sciences, as well as on the relations amongst the sciences. Her book on these subjects, called Without Hierarchy: The Scale Freedom of the Universe, was published in 2013, by Oxford University Press. She has just completed her second book, called A Social Theory of Freedom (Routledge, 2016), which offers a new answer to the timeless philosophical question of human freedom, one that engages with social science but repulses the relevance of questions around determinism, biological and otherwise. It thus advances the cause of an existential theory of freedom in new ways—and it does so without denying the relevance of science, especially social science, for illuminating human agency. She is currently being funded by the National Science Foundation to study precautionary decision making in relation to catastrophic risk, especially in public contexts.
She is the author of numerous articles on causation, explanation and how relations between micro and macro are handled by a range of scientific theories; as well as articles in political philosophy, action theory, metaphysics, epistemology, logical paradox and feminism. Her work has been published in journals such as The Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophy of Science, American Philosophical Quarterly, Synthese and Philosophical Studies. Her work has won the Royal Institute of Philosophy inaugural Essay Prize (2012), and again in 2013, and the American Philosophical Association’s Kavka Prize (1999). She is the former fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Advanced Studies of the Australian National University, the Tanner Humanities Center, the University of Sydney Center for Foundations of Science, and the Institute of Philosophy, University of London.
Talking about the unknown God
The Corpus Dionysiacum presents a hierarchical account of the universe, and a description of deifying union with the “God beyond being” as “unknowing” (agnôsia). Pseudo-Dionysius’ entire mystical theology narrates the self’s efforts to unite with the “God beyond being” as a perpetual process of affirming (kataphasis) and negating (apophasis) the divine names. His conviction is that only by contemplating and then “clearing away” (aphairesis) all of our concepts and categories we can clear a space for the divine to descend free of idolatrous accretions. The result of such agnôsia, however, is no mere “agnosticism” but rather the indwelling of the unknown God (agnōstos theos) as Christ, so the aspirant simultaneously “unknows” God and the self. The climax of the Dionysian method is not simply a negation of some concept about God, but the negation of the concept of negation itself. God is beyond all human words and concepts, including the utterance of denials and the idea of negation. Even the most sophisticated theological negations do not capture God. Beyond the last word is only silence.
Talk at Koç University: Naomi Eilan (Warwick) on “Knowing and understanding other minds: on the role of communication” (17/11/2016)
“Knowing and understanding other minds: on the role of communication”
by Naomi Eilan (Warwick)
Thursday, November 17, 4PM
Founder’s Hall, Koç University, Rumelifeneri Campus
Registration is free but required (especially to make sure that non-Koç affiliated visitors have easy access to the campus). You can register here.
Abstract Over the past decade or so there has been increasing interest, in both philosophy and in various branches of psychology, in the claim that we should appeal to various forms of social interaction in explaining our knowledge of other minds. This is contrasted with the view that our knowledge of other’s minds is based on observation plus theory. I will be setting out one version of the social interaction approach, the Communication Claim, which holds that particular forms of interpersonal communication have a foundational role to play in providing us with knowledge and understanding of others’ minds. In developing the Communication Claim, I will draw out its links with current debates, in both psychology and philosophy, about the structure of our knowledge of other persons’ minds, and the skills and capacities required for achieving such knowledge.
WORKSHOP ON SPINOZA
Thursday, 10 November 2016
All sessions will be held in TB 130
Session I. 10.00 – 12.30
Ohad Nachtomy (Bar-Ilan University): Spinoza Rethinking of Activity: from the Short Treaties to the Ethics
Türker Armaner (Galatasaray University): ‘Singularity’ in Spinoza
Lunch. 12.30 – 14.00
Session 2. 14.00 – 16.30
Lars Vinx (Bilkent University): Why Spinoza was not a Liberal
Zeynep Talay (Koç University & Boğaziçi University): Spinoza and Nietzsche on Freedom
Workshop Dinner. 18.00