Thursday, May 13, 2010

Links and Notes

* A fascinating post on causal inference in social networks by Cosma Shalizi

* Adam Kirsch has a review of Faye's book on Heidegger and Nazism.

* Fukuyma reviews Julian Young's biography of Nietzsche.

* R. T. has a discussion of Flannery O'Connor's "A Temple of the Holy Ghost"

* The discussion of whether ID is compatible with Thomism continues. Tom Gilson gives a listing of the major posts up to April 30, and follows up with some thoughts of his own: Why the Debate? and Further on "Why the Debate?". And Ed Feser discusses ID and mechanism.

* Michael Flynn has a short story up in Dappled Things, Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

* Robert Barron reviews Agora.

* Sam Harris responds to his critics, or, rather, he responds to Sean Carroll.

* The last Jew in Afghanistan.

* Robert Wolff's blog, Formal Methods in Political Philosophy, is turning out to be very interesting.

* Relativistic finance. Yes, Wall Street is completely insane.

* Eric Schwitzgebel is doing some interesting sociology-of-philosophy work.

* John Wilkins is talking about what he thinks makes someone a philosopher, here, here, here, and here. John raises many interesting points and arguments; if I had more time I would probably discuss it at length here. One can get an idea of what I think from my occasional quick comments -- i.e., I think he is forced to gerrymander in order to treat a view of philosophy that arose through a series of sheer historical accidents in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as if it were a useful category for looking at the larger tradition out of which this one branch developed. One can dispute whether contemporary philosophical concerns and aims should be taken as normative for philosophy; what one must not do is treat it as normal for the history of philosophy. Whether it makes sense to call someone a philosopher will depend on what, precisely, you are trying to do; there is no general fact of the matter because 'philosophy' is not a univocal term, and therefore it rarely makes sense to say that someone is not a philosopher, period -- one can only actually say that someone is or is not a philosopher in light of this or that aim or activity. And John's category seems useless for real work in the history of philosophy; it means, among other things, that someone can belong to a philosophical school, or explicitly consider himself or herself to be a philosopher (and be considered as such by contemporaries and successors), and not be counted as a philosopher. I don't see how such a system of classification could possibly be of any valuable to the historical study of philosophy -- and, after all, we historians of philosophy are primarily the people who actually study philosophy as such.

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