Philosophy Chunks #7

A Material World?

A great little article by John Heil. He starts with an illustration of the problem that haunts philosophy these days, that I often use myself and which is borrowed by Wilfrid Sellars. There are two pictures we have of the world: The manifest image, which is the image we use in everyday life, that includes sensations, feelings, chairs and all these things; and there is the scientific image of particles and relativity and whatever the natural sciences postulate to explain phenomena.

Both pictures seem to be complete and of the same complexity. But how can we fuse both pictures to a “stereoscopic picture”? Dualism and reductive materialism think these pictures are irrenconciable. But that is not what Sellars aimed for. He wanted both pictures to be reconciled in a stereoscopic vision. John Heil puts forward some good points, which help to achieve such a stereoscopic vision.

I would just add one thing: why can we not translate and reduce talk about the manifest image to talk about the scientific image? The manifest image has evolved over some ten-thousands of years. It fits the purpose of making our everyday life possible. The scientific image, on the other hand, is only some hundred years old (or if we start in ancient greek some thousand years) and has the purpose to help us explain the universe. That is a gap that cannot be expected to be closed easily.

Taking Public Philosophy Seriously

Public philosophy is a subject I think is important. I really would like to write some public philosophy, but I actually don’t know how to get started. Do I just send articles to random newspapers? Here in Germany public philosophy has an even worse reputation. Not only is it not taken seriously by the professionals and does not count for job promotion but some philosophers also think, a philosopher who does public philosophy is not really a philosopher. I mean sure, there are some bad examples of public philosophers whose thinking isn’t very deep. But still, I think there is a need for public philosophy and science and it does not help if you are not taken seriously if you do public philosophy.

Has Trump Stolen Philosophy’s Critical Tools?

I think the analysis is right: the revolution of critical thinking and post-modernism devoured its own children. But I dont think we get out of this dilemma if we just talk more about fabricated facts. There is objective knowledge of facts in the world. Climate change is one of them. Philosophy should help demonstrating how objectivity is possible, how we come to knowledge and who we can trust, when they make some knowledge claim. If somebody states some alleged fact — for some political reasons — and the evidence shows the opposite, we don’t have two facts — the one without evidence and the other with evidence — but only one. The first one never was a fact. It was just a falsehood — in the worst case a lie.


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