Thursday, 30 November 2017

Jerry Fodor 1939 - 2017

A founding giant of the twentieth century neurological approach to consciousness, Dr. Jerry Fodor has sadly passed away. A great figure, this man mixed jokes in to his philosophical writings, and was a cantankerous figure at time arguing about this and that thesis with no punches pulled. He was a staunch critic of what he was a critic of, and was equally happy to be proven wrong. Then on the things he liked and think were right, he was correspondingly enthusiating. Many people have said interesting stories about knowing and loving Jerry Fodor. He was obviously someone that many people enjoyed their work. And his work may be genuinely helpful in understanding the topics with which it dealt. Here's to a great career for an excellent philosopher!

As a kid he showed a great interest in science and philosophy, and he came to study it ever since. After learning philosophy, he began a writing and teaching career that remains unequalled. I remember reading his mean comments about Wittgenstein in his paper about the lganguage of thought and thinking what a bugger, I think he's wrong. But I still enjoyed it.

Please leave any comments you like in the comments, but try to be accurate. Many people have recently made false statements in the comments, and this is especially not the place, as it might be disrespectful to Jerry Fodor. Thanks for all the good writing Jerry, and finally everyone, go and have a read of his wonderful article,

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Water's water everywhere

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Saturday, 25 November 2017

Teaching Logic to Kids and some Remarks

When I teach logic to my kids, their little faces fall. This is a disjunction! I drill it into them, and they hate it. I love logic so much, because it enables us to sort the sheep from the goats. Some of my students are interested in logic and I say Good! You can have all the bloody logic you want! But what I really like is teaching it to my kids, who absolutely hate it.

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I discovered logic and loved it. I am a philosopher for many years now, and I have met many leading lights of the field. These people are amazing. We have talked about amazing ideas and processes, and created new ideas that will clarify things. My dog Jocone once joked, "If you're going to do philosophy, then I suggest you take the whip!" And I said "What a horrible thing to reference, Jocone, go to bed!" He went, but he had a little treat waiting there for him. I love the little guy! But seriously, philosophy is a great boon.

By the way, if any of you have any issues with any of what I have been saying in this blog post, please do not hesitate to tell me exactly what you think in the comments. Please, I am not afraid of you, and if I am not mistaken, several commenters have made serious errors here in the past. So please only post ideas that you are absolutely sure are correct, otherwise I will have to wield my "sword" and delete all of them. You will regret even talking on this blog, or having come here, and frankly that's how I think you should feel. It's been fun having this chat, and I know you are "on the same page" with these compliance issues. Please respect them accordingly.

As a final thing, I would like to say some of my favourite philosophical sayings:

- To be is to be the value of a bound variable
- If a lion could not speak we could not understand him.
- There are infinitely many possible worlds
- Existence is not a predicate
- The unexamined life is not worth living
- Give unto others as you would have them give unto yourself
- Meanings just ain't in the head

Jocone certainly doesn't understand any of this! Seriously though, see you all soon.

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Consciousness Moon poem

Here's the poem I wrote at a recent Consciousness conference

I look at the moon
And I see it cry
I look at the moon

We have a difficult phenomenon
And the moon howls back at me now
Is consciousness is in the night sky
My stars, I look at the moon
I look at the moon

Thanks so much to all the great philosophers at UC Urvine, Bilikent, Otago and Purdue. I have a chocolate bar for all of you with your name on it. I just have to hope little Jocone doesn't "access" it first!

My Dog Jocone

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The Logic (of my experience of) Philosophy (and a Prize Announcement!)

Philosophy is a scientific endeavour. It is also a humanities endeavour. We are learning to question everything. An amazing structure of enquiry is built up before our eyes. Philosophy helps you assess the validity arguments and the underlying reasons for your ideas and claims. This is something I didn't always know. When I began as a philosophy student in Santa Cruz in 1986, I was at the crossroads of an enlightened community, an interdisciplinary experience that I have since recreated in the classroom numerous times. I tell you this because I want you to understand these mysteries of consciousness as well, and it is one of my great commitments in life that I will show you this stunning view, this bright clear perfect night when there is a full moon and we can see the Milky Way.

When I became a scholar, I became enamoured with institutional doctrines, and got mired in small subtle enquiries of I know not what. But then I suddenly built this new model in my head. A painter friend of mine once talked about suddenly seeing things, and I really tuned in to that. Now I am applying that inside my own work, where I am literally examining fundamental ideas of metaphysics and epistemology. This is no joke. I have submitted these ideas to a major journal, and I have authority to note that these patterns are powerful, and this is a comment if you will that needs to me made. So here I am at the big school, and I'm happier than I could imagine.

My empathic response to philosophy has garnered a $1000 prize from the Port Royal Foundation, and I would like to thank PhilPapers, Eric Schliesser, Penelopy Maddie, and Ed Zalta for their contributions. This is a matter which was confirmed to me when my lecturers used to say 'This is an existence predicate, this is a container of truth, so it's part of a subjective logic which we experience without necessarily saying anything about whether anything is, or could be valid'. This deontic logic really excited me. Almost reading my mind, I found a big book saying some of what I had in mind. This was an amazing area, and I am still unravelling the full implications.

What are your favourite places that philosophy has or has not been to yet? And why are your ideas so important? Tell me I'm not just imagining everything here!

Please give full explanations of everything you say in the comments. Some people have made various errors in the past, and this will not be tolerated for much longer. But please, tell us what you have to say!

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