Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jim Carrey's "bizarre" interview offers more existential wisdom than this reporter can handle...

Kudos to Tamara, a student in my Existential Philosophy class, for sending the below to me. Obviously Carrey has been reading his Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, etc.  The reporter-woman with her whole superficial "don't you want to empower people?" line is immediately confused upon hearing Carrey's existential wisdom. She doesn't even know what to do. Hilarious.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Does imagination precede language? Aeon tries to find out...

"Imagination is ancient, our imaginative life today has access to the pre-linguistic, ancestral mind: rich in imagery, emotions and associations." 

Link to the article HERE.

Some highlights:
"Aristotle described the imagination as a faculty in humans (and most other animals) that produces, stores and recalls the images we use in a variety of mental activities. Even our sleep is energised by the dreams of our involuntary imagination. Immanuel Kant saw the imagination as a synthesiser of senses and understanding. Although there are many differences between Aristotle’s and Kant’s philosophies, Kant agreed that the imagination is an unconscious synthesising faculty that pulls together sense perceptions and binds them into coherent representations with universal conceptual dimensions. The imagination is a mental faculty that mediates between the particulars of the senses – say, ‘luminous blue colours’ – and the universals of our conceptual understanding – say, the judgment that ‘Marc Chagall’s blue America Windows (1977) is beautiful.’ Imagination, according to these philosophers, is a kind of cognition, or more accurately a prerequisite ‘bundling process’ prior to cognition. Its work is unconscious and it paves the way for knowledge, but is not abstract or linguistic enough to stand as actual knowledge."
"We’ve romanticised creativity so completely that we’ve ended up with an impenetrable mystery inside our heads. We might not literally believe in muse possession anymore, but we haven’t yet replaced this ‘mysterian’ view with a better one. As the Austrian painter Ernst Fuchs said of the mysterious loss of self that accompanies the making of art: ‘My hand created, led in trance, obscure things … Not seldom, I get into trance while painting, my state of consciousness fades, giving way to a feeling of being afloat … doing things I do not know much about consciously.’ This mysterian view of imagination is vague and obscure, but at least it captures something about the de-centred psychological state of creativity. Psychologists such as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi have celebrated this aspect of creativity by describing (and recommending) ‘flow’ states, but the idea of ‘flow’ has proven little more than a secular redescription of the mysterian view.
"Evolutionary thought offers a path out of this confusion. In keeping with other evolved aspects of the human mind, the imagination has a history. We should think of the imagination as an archaeologist might think about a rich dig site, with layers of capacities, overlaid with one another. It emerges slowly over vast stretches of time, a punctuated equilibrium process that builds upon our shared animal inheritance. In order to understand it, we need to dig into the sedimentary layers of the mind." 
"Contrary to this interpretation, I want to suggest that imagination, properly understood, is one of the earliest human abilities, not a recent arrival. Thinking and communicating are vastly improved by language, it is true. But ‘thinking with imagery’ and even ‘thinking with the body’ must have preceded language by hundreds of thousands of years. It is part of our mammalian inheritance to read, store and retrieve emotionally coded representations of the world." 
"It is possible that Homo sapiens of 40,000 years ago were graphically literate before they were verbally literate." 
"Hominin waking life might have been closer to the free associations of our contemporary dream life."
Regarding aesthetics and creativity, imagination, and process-evolutionary theories of cognitive development, see my After Nature post "Whitehead's influence on Susanne Langer's Conception of Living Form," HERE.

Plato on the Metaphysical Foundation of Meaning and Truth (NDPR Review)

​More Plato as we cover more of the Republic. See Plato on the Metaphysical Foundation of Meaning and Truth reviewed at NDPR, HERE.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pragmatism and Objectivity: Essays Sparked by the Work of Nicholas Rescher (NDPR Review)

Pragmatism and Objectivity: Essays Sparked by the Work of Nicholas Rescher
// Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

2017.09.09 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Sami Pihlström (ed.), Pragmatism and Objectivity: Essays Sparked by the Work of Nicholas Rescher, Routledge, 2017, ix+282 pp., $ 140.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781138655232. Reviewed by Michele Marsonet, University of Genoa

In this collection of 14 essays many aspects of classical and contemporary pragmatism are examined with reference, at least in most cases, to the work of Nicholas Rescher. Usually, those who are interested in pragmatism from an historical point of view tend to forget that, from the beginning, a substantial polarity is present in this tradition of thought. It is a dichotomy between what Rescher calls "pragmatism of the left", i.e. a flexible type of pragmatism which endorses a greatly enhanced cognitive relativism, and a "pragmatism of the right", a different position that sees the pragmatist stance as a source of cognitive security. Both positions are eager to assure pluralism in the cognitive enterprise and in the concrete conduct of...

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Visual Phenomenology (NDPR Review)

Apropos our upcoming Phenomenology seminar expected to run Spring 2018.

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Visual Phenomenology
// Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

2017.09.10 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Michael Madary, Visual Phenomenology, MIT Press, 2016, 247pp., $45.00 (hbk), ISBN: 9780262035453. Reviewed by Susanna Siegel, Harvard University

The central thesis of this book is that "visual perception is an ongoing process of anticipation and fulfillment." Madary calls this conclusion "AF", and the book is organized around a two-premise argument for it:
P1. The phenomenology of vision is best described as an ongoing process of anticipation and fulfillment.
P2. There are strong empirical reasons to model vision using the general form of anticipation and fulfillment.
Conclusion (AF): Visual perception is an ongoing process of anticipation and fulfillment.
Madary devotes Part I to defending phenomenological analyses of the dynamic and perspectival aspects of visual experience that he takes to support premise 1, and Part...

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Plato's Ethics and Politics in The Republic (SEP entry update)


In our First-Year Writing Seminar (FYWS) "What is the Good Life?" we're currently reading Plato's Republic, and so I thought the below might be of interest to some of my students who read this blog.

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Plato's Ethics and Politics in The Republic
// Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

[Revised entry by Eric Brown on September 12, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Plato's Republic centers on a simple question: is it always better to be just than unjust? The puzzles in Book One prepare for this question, and Glaucon and Adeimantus make it explicit at the beginning of Book Two. To answer the question, Socrates takes a long way around, sketching an account of a good city on the grounds that a good city would be just and that defining justice as a virtue of a city would help to define justice as a virtue of a human being....

Monday, August 28, 2017

quote of the day


Heidegger on a forest path.

"Nature is present in all that is real. Nature unfolds in human work and in the destiny of peoples, in the stars and in the gods, but also in stones, things that grow, animals, as well as in streams and thunderstorms... [Yet] Nature can never be found somewhere in the midst of the real as simply one more isolated thing. [Nature as] the "all-present" is also never the result of combining isolated real things. Even the totality of what is real is at most but the consequence of the all-present... The "wonderful" [that is Nature] withdraws from all human producing, and nevertheless it flows through everything with its presencing."

- Martin Heidegger [GA 4: 52-53, Commentary on Hölderlin's "As When On a Holiday,"]


Hallstaater Lake, Austria (from cable car). Photo by Niemoczynski, June 2017.
Thanks goes to Keith Hoeller, and also to Richard Capobianco from the Heidegger Circle for emailing me the quote. 


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Podcast: "Experiential togetherness through readings of William James, Alfred North Whitehead, Gilles Deleuze, and Isabelle Stengers" (mp3 audio download)


Dirk (know to many as "dmf") sent along THIS link. Haven't listened to the whole thing yet but will soon. From my guess of it, it appears to cover what process-relational philosophers interested in the likes of Deleuze, Whitehead, etc. would enjoy.

Thanks Dirk!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Call for Papers: Eighth International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism

Eighth International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism 
April 6th & 7th, 2018
Campus of Drew UniversityMadisonNew Jersey

Theme:
"Nature and the Symbolic in the Human and Non-human"



A central feature of any naturalism is that there is at least some form of continuity between mind and nature – or, that mind "stretches" to meet nature (in the words of John Dewey). But, what is "mind" within a naturalistic register? A basic premise for naturalists such as Charles S. Peirce, John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, Alfred North Whitehead, or Susanne Langer – naturalists in the American philosophical tradition – is that "mind" is essentially symbolic. This is to say that, conceptually, mind is both expressive and representational. This, though, begs the question: what within nature might be able to "think?" As any "ecstatic" naturalism seeks to explore nature's deeply embedded transformational potential, the theme of this year's congress questions nature's potential for "mind" – or "intelligence" - and questions how that mind might be at work within the natural world, especially as expressed by means of symbol. What precisely is nature's potential for expressive intelligence and how is it expressed through symbol and concept? And further, what other than the human might be able to "think?" What does it mean to think? Can machines think? Can forests think? Insects? Birds? Fish? Transcending beyond the boundaries of the human, we seek papers that wish to explore especially non-human modes of intelligence within the realm of the symbolic in order to connect naturalism to applied philosophical fields, whether animal ethics, cognitive science and artificial intelligence, political ecology, biosemiotics, and so on. Papers need not be exclusively about the philosophy of ecstatic naturalism but are encouraged to at least minimally address its perspective before moving on to present a different thesis of the paper so as to place all papers of the congress within the stream of contemporary philosophical naturalism.

Submissions of abstracts 300-500 words in length should be emailed to: niemoczynskil@moravian.edu no later than October 31st, 2017. Authors of accepted papers will be contacted no later than November 30th with a paper deadline (no more than 15-20 minutes in length of reading or 6-8 pages double-spaced) of March 1st.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON PRIZE:
GIVEN TO A GRADUATE STUDENT, OR SOMEONE WHO GOT HER OR HIS PhD WITHIN THE PAST FIVE YEARS, FOR THE BEST PAPER BY A JUNIOR SCHOLAR. THE PRIZE COMES WITH A $500 AWARD.

TO QUALIFY FOR THE EMERSON PRIZE, YOU MUST WRITE ON ECSTATIC NATURALISM PER SE. AS IN THE OTHER PAPERS, THE PAGE LIMIT IS 6-8 PAGES. SEND THE COMPLETED PAPER TO EITHER OF THE ABOVE EMAILS BY MARCH 1ST.

THE GENERAL THEME OF THE CONGRESS SHOULD TAKE PLACE WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF RELIGIOUS OR NON-RELIGIOUS NATURALISM AS IN THE PREVIOUS SIX YEARS.

REGISTRATION FEES: $ 75 FOR FACULTY AND $ 25 FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS. SHORTLY WE WILL HAVE AN ONLINE SITE FOR REGISTERING WITH CREDIT CARDS. PERSONS USING CASH OR CHECK CAN REGISTER AT THE CONGRESS.

CO-CHAIRS OF 2018 CONGRESS:
ROBERT S. CORRINGTON (DREW UNIVERSITY)
LEON NIEMOCZYNSKI (MORAVIAN COLLEGE)



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How our attention is harvested


Lengthy article/review which goes into detail regarding the neuro-livestock addicted to their iPhones, mostly through a discussion of Facebook - although Twitter is as much to blame in that users are essentially performing free labor for the benefit of the platform they use.

YouTube is just as guilty of this as well. In my research in (possibly) starting a YouTube channel I discovered that its bad news for YouTube if those who create content actually end up with a profit. Unless views directly translates to traffic to one's own business then the only money to be made is through ads, most of which pay pennies on the dollar. Full-time YouTubers barely make anything, contrary to popular belief.

What this all boils down to is an attention-economy where content-creators are the cybercattle and the platform the slaughterhouse. If one creates content they must always do so with the masses in mind, and the platforms ensure that this is the way it must be for it suits their business model, not those who create the content.

As Instagram is the new "thing," it appears that every few years the masses migrate from one platform to the next. Myspace to Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to... and so on. The whole "trending" thing and idea of mass viral influence disgusts me. I'd rather be a black sheep than some lab-rat addicted to my smartphone tapping and scrolling my life away.

Anyway, the review is quite long - but do read if you can find the time to do so.

Article HERE.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ontologies of Nature: Continental Perspectives and Environmental Reorientations (new book)

New book discussing various ontologies of nature from a Continental environmental philosophical perspective, which is a new (and good, I think) trend in Continental scholarship.


This volume contains essays that offer both historical and contemporary views of nature, as seen through a hermeneutic, deconstructive, and phenomenological lens. It reaches back to Ancient Greek conceptions of physis in Homer and Empedocles, encompasses 13th century Zen master Dōgen, and extends to include 21st Century Continental Thought. By providing ontologies of nature from the perspective of the history of philosophy and of contemporary philosophy alike, the book shows that such perspectives need to be seen in dialogue with each other in order to offer a deeper and more comprehensive philosophy of nature. The value of the historical accounts discussed lies in discerning the conceptual problems that contribute to the dominant thinking underpinning our ecological predicament, as well as in providing helpful resources for thinking innovatively through current problems, thus recasting the past to allow for a future yet to be imagined. The book also discusses contemporary continental thinkers who are more critically aware of the dominant anthropocentric and instrumental view of nature, and who provide substantial guidance for a sensible, innovative “ontology of nature” suited for an ecology of the future. Overall, the ontologies of nature discerned in this volume are not merely of theoretical interest, but strategically serve to suspend anthropocentrism and spark ethical and political reorientation in the context of our current ecological predicament. - Editors: Kuperus, Gerard, Oele, Marjolein (Eds.)

Link HERE.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Spotlight on Carbondale: Illinois Town Sits at Solar Eclipse 'Crossroads'

My Ph.D. alma mater SIUC makes the news.
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Spotlight on Carbondale: Illinois Town Sits at Solar Eclipse 'Crossroads'
// Space.com

By pure cosmic coincidence, the town of Carbondale has found itself at the center of eclipse mania.
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SPEP 2017 full program

The 56th annual meeting of SPEP: Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, held at the University of Memphis, Oct. 19-21, 2017. Full program in .pdf format for download, HERE.