Monday, April 08, 2013

Links and Notes

* Margaret Hilda Thatcher, a research chemist turned lawyer turned politician turned Prime Minister, died at age 87 today. This 1978 interview with the Catholic Herald has a lot of interesting comments from her. People tend to be rather polarized about her politics, of course; but I don't think it can be denied that she was an impressively memorable force in politics.

* Two interesting virtual issues of Hypatia:
The Place of Women in the Profession of Philosophy

* C. R. Wiley on H. P. Lovecraft and C. S. Lewis

* I've been doing some reading up on military theory and again came upon the Attritionist Letters at the Marine Corps Gazette, which discusses the difference between attrition-based war policy and maneuver-based war policy, from a U. S. Marine Corps perspective, obviously. They purport to be the letters from a certain General Screwtape to a certain Captain Wormwood.

* Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

* Tolkien, Roman archeology, and the One Ring

* More on Hart and natural law at "Mere Orthodoxy"

* Science vs. Science: Russell's Problem of the External World at "The Verbose Stoic"

* Robert Paul Wolff has some interesting discussion at "The Philosopher's Stone" of arguments for the existence of God:

And Now By Popular Demand -- God
God Talk -- Part Two
God Talk Final Post, with Guest Post by Bruce Aune Incorporated

All quite interesting. I've mentioned before, I think, that I don't think Wolff's interpretation of Hume in the Dialogues is tenable -- far from being easily dispatched, the design argument Hume considers there is so minimal, based on principles of inference Hume has accepted elsewhere, and so tangled up with the Newtonian approach to scientific inquiry that he can't actually dispatch it, given his other commitments. What he does do, instead, is show that it's problematic as a foundation for religion. Something similar is also true of Kant, actually, although the transcendental approach means that his handling is more acrobatic than Hume's. I also think Wolff's timeline is incorrect. In the English-speaking world it's more plausible to say that the death of Idealism does rational theology in as a major philosophical discipline; which occurs more than a century later (in the 1930s, in fact) and has very little to do with Humean or Kantian arguments. (The transition away from Idealism also brought down a great many more philosophical subfields in the English-speaking world, beyond just rational theology. British Idealism, for instance, was extraordinarily diverse, discussing a vast range of philosophical issues; but when it collapsed, the up-and-coming analytic approach did not immediately repopulate most of that field. Philosophy of history collapsed, philosophy of art collapsed, much of metaphysics collapsed, the algebraic school of logic collapsed [in philosophy departments, at least] almost as an accidental byproduct. It wasn't a complete desolation, by any means, and new subfields were developed. But it was a big upheaval, and had very little to do with specific arguments. Indeed, there is a very good argument that historically it is the upheaval involving the collapse of rational theology that explains why people like Wolff take Hume and Kant to have succeeded in refutation, not the success of the refutations that explains the collapse of rational theology. Even if you take Wolff to be right in his assessment, his timeline confuses the logical and historical order of things.) But Wolff, of course, is not attempting to give a rigorous account but just converse a bit about the topic, and he raises issues that need to be kept in mind.

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