In the last week, two students have asked me about the distinction between jñā- and vid- and this made me think that it might be worth adding a new section to Andrew’s collaborative enterprise (see here and here) of mapping the technical vocabulary of Sanskrit. Since jñā- (and its derivatives, such as jñāna) and vid- (and vidyā, etc.) have different acceptations in various areas of Sanskrit, let me state, once again, that I will only focus on śāstric, philosophical Sanskrit.
The 176th Philosophy Carnival is here, with interesting links to posts on logic, personal identity, Hume’s criticism of miracles and ethics. There is also a link to a blog I had never encountered on the Carnival, namely Go Gruel.
And, yes, I am not completely happy with the Carnival for the reasons I have already discussed (basically: lack of inclusiveness). But still I think that it is an excellent service, and that one should not criticise it unless one is ready to invest time and energy in a new project.
Graham Priest explains in a blog post why one should study “Eastern” philosophy (his label, probably because standard philosophy is in fact “Western” philosophy).
His post points to two reasons:
- One better understands one’s own culture if one is confronted with another one
- There is progress in philosophy and new ideas can contribute to it, since progress does not arise ex nihilo.
It is difficult not to agree. I had discussed Priest’s first point here and his second point here, while referring to an interview with Jay Garfield, and the posts have raised interesting discussions in the comments.
Since, however, the first post is dated to 2010 and the second one to 2013, it may be time to ask you, dear readers, again: What should be the reasons for engaging with Asian philosophies?
A recent post by Elisabeth Barnes raised a discussion in several blogs about philosophy’s “casual cruelty”. Philosophers, it is said, argue about basic human rights in an abstract way, with thought experiments daring to ask whether it would be ethical to let die disabled children/abort disabled foetuses/prohibit disabled people to have children/… . Philosophers do not even stop speculating about the suppression of disabled people, Barnes continues, when they have a real disabled person in front of them.
Welcome to the 172nd Philosophers’ Carnival! Read, enjoy, add your favourites in the comments below and submit here your proposals for the next edition of the Philosophers’ Carnival (which will be hosted by Samuel Paul Douglas).
As a general framework, let me start with Catarina Dutilh Novaes’ review of Williamson’s Tetralogue, discussing the possibility of rational dialogue to advance knowledge —that is, the reason which could make philosophy more than a Glasperlenspiel.
Should philosophy (of religion) go out of its comfort zone?
In this post, Aaron Thomas-Bolduc suggests that we should go out of our comfort zones and test our ideas outside them. A few days before, Adriano Mannino had posted here his comments on a study by Helen De Cruz and asked whether philosophy of religion is more than Christian apologetics.
This post by Michael Almeida shows that arguments about philosophy of religion can be dealt with in a purely logical way (from premisses to absurd consequences). Similarly, Eric Schwitzgebel discusses here the application to artificial intelligence of a problem originally dealt with within philosophy of religion, i.e., God’s responsibility for our well-being (and our responsibility towards AI, if we ever were to create one). By the way, the author includes in his dialogue also the Confucian approach of ethical obligations (which get stronger the closer one is to oneself, so that one has higher obligations towards one’s family than towards strangers).
Free will within and without contemporary Western philosophy
The idea of going out of one’s comfort zone brings me to the following series of posts, dedicated to free will. One can start with John Danaher‘s general summary of the possible meanings of “Liberty” and “Free will” as explained by Skinner (John Danaher has further interesting posts on freedom and work and democracy).
Next, this post by Jayarava Attwood discusses the Buddha’s defense of free will while debating with a denier of free will in a text of the Pāli Buddhist Canon. The same author has also dedicated a more general post to the issue of free will at the boundaries of philosophy and neurosciences, here. Again on Buddhism, Amod Lele discusses here how ethics is possible even within a deterministic worldview. Last for the non-Western series, this post discusses Free will vs. divine omnipotence in a Vaiṣṇava theologian, Rāmānuja. Stewart Duncan discusses here some passages of Leibniz which suggest that he might have conceived of things deterministically and of thoughts as actions, depending on the souls only.
Flickers of Freedom is the usual reference point when it comes to free will. This month, this post by V. Alan White on whether responsibility comes in degree especially recommends itself.
Language and reality
Richard Yetter Chappell discusses here an aspect of the problem entailed in the naturalistic account of meaning.
On a similar vein, Tristan Haze discusses here a paradox, namely
If you’re a brain in a vat then you don’t have hands
You don’t know that you’re not a brain in a vat
Therefore you don’t know that you have hands
Interestingly, Haze does not enter into the ontology of the topic, but rather dwells in its linguistic and logical consequences (what does it mean to say that one has hands? To what does language refer?).
On the arbitrariness of the signified and its implications for linguistics, Alexander Pruss discusses here the problems one encounters when translating English hand with Polish rȩka. Pruss closes his post with a thought on false implicature (could occur in cases such as the one described) and lying (morally problematic).
On a sidetrack, Jon Cogburn discusses here how some misunderstandings of the so-called Continental Philosophy by Analytic Philosophers might just be due to wrong translations of French expressions such as l’event or l’autre as “The Event” (=the creation? what other key event?) and “The Other” (Satan?), does creating unwanted metaphysical entities.
Concerning lying, a post at Experimental Philosophy and PeaSoup by John Turri discusses how people react when one asks them whether telling the truth while trying to lie still counts as lying. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the answers depend on how the question is phrased.
At Practical Ethics, Hannah Maslen discusses a bias which seems to lead to more problems than it can solve, namely the hostile attribution bias, which is the cause of avoidable bloody fights, especially among teenagers, just because someone was “looking at me funny”. If you are schocked and ask yourself what could be done to interrupt this vicious circle, have a look at Eric Schwitzgebel’s memories of his father and of how he engaged young criminals, thus automatically making them relinquish crime.
Again at Practical Ethics, this post by Chris Chew discusses what could be the best death.
A new blog on the philosophical problems connected with disability has helped in raising an interesting debate on whether the discussion on some problems, such as the abortion of disabled fetuses, or the moral justification of evil, should be altogether avoided. On the Philosophers’ Cocoon, Marcus Arvan summarises the discussion and adds his view.
At Aesthetics for birds, Rebecca Victoria Millsop discusses the role of originality in painting and whether the research of originality at all costs does not lead astray (I agree). Rebecca is herself an artist (beside being a fifth-year PhD student in philosophy of art) and this perspective deeply enriches her post.
Last, although this is a philosophical Carnival, I hope readers will forgive me —given the high symbolic impact of the Paris attacks on the issues of freedom of thought and critique— if I add this post (which I discovered through Catarina Dutilh Novaes at NewApps) by Juan Cole, a historian of the Middle East, discussing the recent facts in Paris.
By coincidence, the colleague who will host the next Philosophers’ Carnival, Samuel P. Douglas has also a post on the epistemology of conspiracy theories, in relation to the Charlie Hebdo attack.
…among the ones selected at 3quarksdaily, here. Scroll down for more details.
Most readers will have already noted this chart of “Eastern Philosophy” at Superscholar.
Now, I have already commented about it at DailyNous, but the staff of Superscholars has written to me twice to advertise the map, so that I feel compelled to repeat my comment and some further ones here. I would also like to ask readers: Do you think these maps have some use at all? If so, for whom? Beginners or Advanced scholars?