What Is Nothing?

My mind was blown today by the fantabulous 1973 short “What Is Nothing?” featuring some stoned grade schoolers wondering about the different types of non-existence. It features Rifftrax commentary to make it tolerable, and can be experienced if you have a buck to spare: More info on the video, including sample clip. Because caterpillars matter […]

Blind Sight as Quality Control?

This article at Salon.com I thought presented an amusing alleged implication of the structure of our brains: We have multiple streams of visual information input, and a proof of this is in the phenomenon of blind sight, whereby whatever the normal pathway is that makes it all the way to the speech center and/or consciousness […]

Sam Harris on the Is/Ought Distinction

Sam Harris got a lot of grief on our Churchland episode. Whatever the difficulties that Churchland (and allegedly Hume) may have with the is/ought distinction, Harris provides a much easier target for this kind of criticism. Here’s Harris specifically responding (starting around 1:40) to the is/ought distinction: “a firewall between facts and values in our […]

Does Stanley Fish Matter? It Depends.

In a recent Philosopher’s Stone essay, Paul Boghossian corrects Stanley Fish on the subject of moral relativism: there is no morally relativistic ground between nihilism and the embrace of moral absolutes — one must choose. Saying “x is wrong” is a normative statement, while saying “x is wrong relative to moral code y” is a […]

Adolescent criminality and juvenile brains

Russian Youth Prison Scenes

I couldn’t bring myself to weigh in on the analytic vs. continental issue because I lived it while in school and believe that it is ultimately a destructive distinction fueled by political desires.  And in a weird way, I’m living through something analogous at work right now.  So instead I thought I’d continue my journey […]

More Analytic vs. Continental: What is the “Situation of Reason”?

Reshaping Reason by John McCumber

The disciplinary identity of philosophy is in question. So says John McCumber in “Reshaping Reason”, where he makes a serious argument with evidence of trends pointing toward a sort of Hegelian synthesis in American philosophy to overcome the “Fantasy Island” of analytic thought and the “Subversive Struggle” of continental thought. “Fantasy Island” and “Subversive Struggle” […]

Riding the Zeitgeist – Moral sentiment and pyschopathy

I never said I wasn

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Professor of Ethics at Duke, was recently interview on The Philosopher’s Zone about the moral judgment of psychopaths.  One of the key questions at issue is whether psychopaths understand what is morally wrong, why it is so and just don’t care, or whether they don’t know what is morally wrong.  This ties in […]

Topic for #43: Arguments for the Existence of God

On many episodes we’ve mentioned in passing, or given some author’s criticism of, the classic arguments for the existence of God: -The ontological argument, whereby some quality of the idea of God itself is supposed to necessitate that such a being exists. The most famous versions are by Descartes and St. Anselm. -The cosmological argument, […]

Roman Altshuler on Analytic vs. Continental

Roman Altshuler has written two articles on the Ends of Thought blog about the analytic/continental divide that may provoke your interest: Why is so much Continental Philosophy so Bad? Why bother talking to analytic philosophers? I found this via Philosophy Carnival on Noah Greenstein’s blog. From the latter article, relevant to our Heidegger discussion: …Continental […]

Neuroethics: Technology Transfer and Philosophy

In searching on YouTube for “ethics” and “Neurology,” I came across a number of results on “neuro ethics,” which seems primarily concerned not with the neural basis for ethical reasoning, but with ethical issues involved in performing neurological research. Here’s Dr. Eric Racine giving a lecture called “Ethics and the Public Understanding of Neuroscience: Perspectives […]

Magnetic Morality Modulation

This September, PBS will re-broadcast an interesting episode of NOVA ScienceNOW, which touches on some points raised in PEL’s interview with Patricia Churchland. The episode demonstrates a procedure called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), which can influence a person’s moral judgments as they are being made, simply by messing with the neural activity located within the brain’s Right TemporoParietal […]