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    Our library of interviews, essays and reviews is entirely created and maintained by our members. These resources are aimed at all levels and our content aims to support learning and help people gain an insight into the many areas our members and contributors are interested in. To offer content or suggest an interviewee, please contact us.

    Popper

    By Hugo Holbling, in People,

    Teaser Paragraph: Publish Date: 06/26/2010 Article Image:
    Karl Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery has been called one of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century. Popper discussed the problem of induction (how to justify inductive inferences) and the demarcation problem; that is, the question of how we decide which theories are scientific and which are not. In the early chapters he considered and criticised the idea that science proceeds by using the experimental results of particular tests to make general conclusions about laws (induction), moving on later in the book to propose his alternative (and solution to the demarcation problem); falsification. According to Popper, what makes a theory scientific is that it can be wrong: we can specify an experiment that, if unsuccessful, would lead us to reject the theory. In Conjectures and Refutations, a more accessible work for a general audience, several essays by Popper expanedd upon his thinking. By making bold conjectures - "sticking our necks out" - and in turn trying to refute - "falsify" - them, our knowledge of the world grows.

    Deleuze

    By The Heretic, in People,

    Teaser Paragraph: Publish Date: 06/26/2010 Article Image:
    His early books were studies on Spinoza, Hume, Kant, and Bergson. While they were monographs that tried to preserve the classical tradition, as much as an attempt to use them in new ways and go beyond them, they all were written from an angle entirely foreign to the "received exegetical wisdom."

    Deleuze reads with an eye for heretical doctrines (Spinoza’s ontology of bodily affects/forces & Hume’s radical empiricism) which retain the power to provoke/disconcert. Also his study on Nietzsche instituted a love affair between Nietzsche and the French in the mid 20th century. Great heroes (Nietzsche and Spinoza) stand for counter tradition of skeptical, affirmative, nonsubjectcentered, instinctually driven "desiring-production" (see Ronald Bogue's "Deleuze & Guattari") Some insist that Deleuze’s philosophy should be seen as the revamped version of Bergsonism. Bergson rebelled against the Cartesian tradition with the claim that there was no distinction whatever between mind and body, and the monist conviction that all that exist was "movement of matter". Deleuze said as much, claiming that the body and the brain constituted a "material continuum", which was in contact with the external world and his conception of desire parallels Bergson’s "élan vital". In "Rhizome: Introduction", Deleuze (with Felix Guattari) compared the multiplying jungle of desire to the underground root system of a rhizome, like that of a couch-grass. Most models of knowledge are based on the tree model with a single root, which entails a foundationalist model, but Deleuze chose the metaphor of a rhizome that spread into all directions, forming an anarchic network where every point could be connected to any other point.

    "Différence et repetition" (Deleuze’s doctoral dissertation) & "Logique du sens" come close to a full-scale programmatic statement of post-philosophy, antisystematic, ultranominalist or resolutely nontotalizing mode of thought. Deleuze focuses his philosophical energies on two well-worn topics: identity and time, as well as the nature of thought in the "Difference and Repetition". Immanence, a chief conceptual tool of Deleuze’s radical empiricism, refers to a philosophy of the empirical real or the flux of existence that lacks a transcendental level or some fundamental fissure. The ontological sense of the immanent is that there is only one substance. Ergo everything that exists must be reflected on the same level, the same rank, and analyzed by their relations instead of their “essences.” The other key conceptual tools are constructivism and excess. In the "Logic of Sense", Deleuze explored the boundaries of meaning and non-meaning with several readings on different texts by the Stoics, Plato and Lewis Carroll.

    The collaboration with political theorist Felix Guattari, similar in spirit to late '60's antipsychiatry movement, resulted in two books "Anti-Oedipus" and "A Thousand Plateaus". Anti-Oedipus is a joint diatribe, a vast chaotic potpourri book that attacks Freudian psychoanalysis as well as the Lacanian poststructuralist adaptation for being the instrument of channeling/policing the flow of itinerant "molecular" desire which reinforces the "molar" prescriptions of the capitalist sociopolitical order. These attacks also established the 1970’s as the decade of the philosophy of desire. To be brief, Freudian psychoanalysis was heavily subject to the following criticism:

    - for being excessively reductionist in its simplification of everything into a fundamental oedipal triangle
    - for celebrating a conventional and repressive family structure
    - for compelling multidimensional desire into constricted and restrictive canals.

    The failure of psychoanalysis to recognize the many natures of desire leads to reductionism where multiplicity is reduced to unity and the proliferation of meaning is deciphered by oedipal complex

    Instead of Freud’s theatrical vision of the unconscious and Lacan’s linguistic vision of an unconscious structured like language, Deleuze and Guattari proposed the metaphor of a factory containing "desiring machines". Guattari intended the idea of machine as the indication where desire begins production at the stage where there is "no question of a structure or a subject position or coordinates of references." The Anti-Oedipus begins by describing a desiring machine: an organ machine connected to a source machine that emits a flow. E.g., a breast is the machine that produces milk and the mouth is the machine connected to it. Many literary allusions are used to explain the function of these desiring machines, such as the following: "under the skin, the body is an overheated factory;" Kafka's writing machine from "In the penal Settlement"; Beckett's narrator's construction, the machine from "Molloy".

    The last collaborative work, "What is Philosophy", very different from the iconoclastic books of the 70's, attempts to answer the title by stating that, contra the traditional models of contemplation, reflection or communication, philosophy is a discipline that creates concepts. The entire history of philosophy contains "signed concepts" (e.g., Descartes' cogito or Leibniz' monads) because philosophers are "friends of concepts." Science, in this respect, generates propositions and functions, whereas art is composed of words, color or sounds that "capture and encode sensory perceptions."

    Mackenzie insists that there is a strain of continuity throughout Deleuze's works where he constantly emphasizes creativity within all domains, and a rejection of philosophy as mere contemplation.
    Teaser Paragraph: Publish Date: 06/26/2010 Article Image:
    The idea that everything is physical. This is not to deny that there are other aspects to our world, like morals and bad jokes, but only that, ultimately, these are physical. In the past, physicalism was identified with materialism, but it became difficult to call certain supposed physical features of the world material (like the force binding particles in a nucleus together). Physicalism is a metaphysical notion, although it is often associated with the so-called scientific approach.

    Owen Barfield

    By mosaic, in People,

    Publish Date: 06/25/2010 Article Image:
    Owen Barfield was a British philosopher, philologist, author, poet, and critic. He was a life-long student of language, the development of which he argued is concommitant with the evolution of consciousness.
    Teaser Paragraph: Publish Date: 06/25/2010 Article Image:
    Defined by Jean-François Lyotard as "incredulity toward metanarratives", or those narratives and theories that propose to explain everything. Metanarratives can and are used to translate other narratives into their own form, subsuming them as they must if they are to explain all other accounts in their own terms. Postmodernism is at least skeptical of this tendency, if not outright "incredulous" at the very possibility of finding one story that explains the world and all others.
    Teaser Paragraph: Publish Date: 06/25/2010 Article Image:
    Hinge propositions are those that are neither true nor false but instead cannot coherently be doubted by anyone. For example, it is not possible to ask "does reality exist?" without assuming that it does. Such propositions cannot be called true because it was never possible for them to be false.

    In his On Certainty, Wittgenstein wrote about what came to be called hinge propositions as follows:


    Teaser Paragraph: Publish Date: 06/25/2010 Article Image:
    An abductive inference takes the form:

    P1: X;
    P2: A proposition like "If Y then X" can explain X;
    C: Therefore, probably Y.

    This is the Aristotelian form, which is typically amended slightly for use in science:

    P1: Data D;
    P2: Hypothesis H explains D;
    P3: H is the best explanation of D;
    C: Therefore, probably H.

    This holds trivially if P3 is replaced by "H is the only explanation of D" and discounting other factors to render this probable or characterising what makes H the best explanation is usually what is at issue in science. Abduction is sometimes called "inference to the best explanation" and was favoured by J.S. Mill.
    Teaser Paragraph: Publish Date: 06/25/2010 Article Image:
    Associated with Derrida and the so-called Yale school of Paul de Man, Harold Bloom, Hillis Miller and Geoffrey Hartman. Deconstructionism has had more of an impact on philosophy and literary theory in Continental Europe, but its influence has been felt widely. It can be traced back to Nietzsche but the problem with explaining or understanding it is that its proponents often insist that there is no deconstructionist method; that is, it is not just another systematic approach to be applied that can be defined by explicit steps or principles. However, the "deconstructionist approach" tends to involve close reading, looking for presuppositions that the author relies on implicitly but does not argue for or explain, and locating multiple interpretations of texts, particularly those that may contradict or be entirely opposed to others, rather than allowing one reading of the text to be privileged. It also asks what the text does not include or describe; i.e. what has been explicitly or implicitly excluded from it in order to make the points or arguments therein.
    Teaser Paragraph: Publish Date: 06/25/2010 Article Image:
    Taking its name from the work of Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher, metaphysics literally means "after the physics"; legend has it that the Alexandrian librarians christened the writings thus because they followed his Physical Treaties. Since then metaphysics has come to be split into two sub-fields: Ontology is the study of existence, asking what there is, what it means to exist and what kind of things there are. Cosmology is the study of the nature of the universe (or cosmos, as the name suggests). It asks questions about what is possible, such as time travel and parallel or alternate universes.
    Teaser Paragraph: Publish Date: 06/25/2010 Article Image:
    The theory of knowledge. Derives from the Greek epistéme ("knowledge" or "science") and logos ("speech" or "discourse"). Epistemology asks questions such as "what is knowledge?", "how do we know anything?", "how can we sure our knowledge is reliable?" and "what are the limits of what we can know?"