2014 Fall Proseminar Class Notes A

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SEP 2

Introductory Class

SEP 9

Discussion of Hadot, "Spiritual Exercises"

"Spiritual exercises can be best observed in the context of Hellenistic and Roman schools of philosophy. The Stoics, for instance, declared explicitly that philosophy, for them, was an "exercise." In their view, philosophy did not consist in teaching an abstract theory - much less in the exegesis of texts, but rather in the art of living. It is a concrete attitude and determinate life-style, which engages the whole of existence. The philosophical act is not situated merely on the cognitive level, but on that of the self and of being. It is a progress which causes us to be more fully, and makes us better. It is a conversion which turns our entire life upside down, changing the life of the person who goes through it. It raises the individual from an inauthentic condition of life, darkened by unconsciousness and harassed by worry, to an authentic state of life, in which he attains self-consciousness, an exact vision of the world, inner peace, and freedom." 82
86: "For the Stoic, then, doing philosophy meant practicing how to "live": that is, how to live freely and consciously. Consciously, in that we pass beyond the limits of individuality, to recognize ourselves as a part of the reason-animated cosmos. Freely, in that we give up desiring that which does not depend on us and is beyond our control, so as to attach ourselves only to what depends onus: actions which are just and in conformity with reason."
  • Philosophers as therapists / Philosophy as therapeutic.
  • In Epicurean thought -- the tetrapharmakos; also in Phaedrus.
88: "For the Epicureans, in the last analysis, pleasure is a spiritual exercise. Not pleasure in the form of mere sensual gratification, but the intellectual pleasure derived from contemplating nature, the thought of pleasures past and present, and lastly the pleasure of friendship. "
  • Prosoche -- attention.
  • Learning to Die -- It's role in defining philosophy.
  • Plotinus - sculpting your statue.

Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life

  • Opening quote from Philo of Alexandria - mix of stoic thought. wise are joyous
  • thesis: Philosophy was a way of life. Discusses Symposium as model.
  • Wisdom sought also because it brings peace of mind (ataraxia) and inner freedom (autarkeia)
  • Philosopy as therapeutic.
  • "Philosophy presented itself as a method for achieving independence andinner freedom {autarkeia), that state in which the ego depends only uponitself. We encounter this theme in Socrates, among the Cynics, in Aristotle for whom only the contemplative life is independent - in Epicurus," among the Stoics." Although their methodologies differ, we find in allphilosophical schools the same awareness of the power of the human self tofree itself from everything which is alien to it, even if, as in the case of theSkeptics, it does so via the mere refusal to make any decision." 266
  • Hadot claims there was a big distinction between "discourse" on philosophy and doing philosophy. The task of philosophy was living wisely. Anecdote about the carpenter (267). read par. top of 268, "Does the philosophical life..."
  • Ancients sought for integration.
  • 269: Thesis: "From its very beginnings - that is, from the second century AD on - Christianity had presented itself as a philosophy: the Christian way of life. Indeed, the very fact that Christianity was able to present itself as a philosophy confirms the assertion that philosophy was conceived in antiquity as a way of life. If to do philosophy was to live in conformity with the law of reason, so the argument went, the Christian was a philosopher, since he lived in conformity with the law of the Logos - divine reason. In order to present itself as a philosophy, Christianity was obliged to integrate elements borrowed from ancient philosophy. It had to make the Logos of the gospel according to John coincide withStoic cosmic reason, and subsequently also with the Aristotelian or Platonicintellect. It also had to integrate philosophical spiritual exercises into Christian life. The phenomenon of integration appears very clearly in Clement of Alexandria, and was intensely developed in the monastic movement, where we find the Stoico/Platonic exercises of attention to oneself (prosoche), meditation, examination of conscience, and the training for death. We also re-encounter the high value accorded to peace of mind and impassibility."
  • claims this tradition lapse in medieval period. Revived by Ignatius.
  • exceptions - Hegel / Marx, Descartes' Meditations, but then, pretty much theoretical philosophy?

Deleuze, "Introduction: The Question Then...(What is Philosophy?)"

  • Philosophy - the art of forming inventing, and fabricating concepts.
  • conceptual personae - philosopher as friend/lover of wisdom and philosopher as "concept's friend"
  • like "friend" philo - Sophia -- connected with "societies of friends" (Including rivals)
  • theory of concepts: p. 5,
  • What it's not: contemplation, reflection, communication.
  • we even build concepts with intuitions inside them (7). Concepts remain "signed" (Kant's, Nietzsche's, etc.).
  • cultural contest: philosophy's rivals today (10).

SEP 16

Work on Method

  • brief look at methods lists
  • Reconstruction (mention SWoRD rubric coming soon). Criteria. Usage in writing and speech. Variations.
  • Interrogative Reconstruction.
  • Logical Structure in Deductive and Inductive Reasoning. (Note: What other kinds are there? Are philosophers always reasoning?)
  • Reconstructing arguments as Deductive or Inductive.
  • Problem of Induction. (Transition to Science).

Schick and Vaughn, "Science and its Pretenders"

  • Emphasis: features of scientific theory, how theories are assessed, criteria of good theory

Giere, "Understanding and Evaluating Theoretical Hypotheses"

  • Emphasis 1: Double Helix Case Study -- How science/scientists work?
  • Emphasis 2: Model of Science, Reality, Data, Models of Reality

Barnes, "Natural Science in the 17th and 18th Centuries

  • Emphasis: Sociology of Science -- Technology of science -- Circumstances of development -- The lateness of chemistry (note on nutrition science)
  • Emphasis: Achieving a New Cosmology

Bryson, "How to Build a Universe"

  • Emphasis: Using speculative science writing to speculate as philosophers.

Major Research Questions

1. What makes something science? How does science work theoretically?

2. How do scientists work? What would a "sociology of knowledge" tell us about methods in science?

3. What is the relationship between science and philosophy? Does science ask all of the interesting questions? What sorts of questions doesn't it answer?

SEP 23

SEP 30

OCT 7

Thought Experiments

from SEP

  • Thought experiments in history of science.
  • Lucretius' boundary argument
  • Note reconstruction of Thompson's argument
  • Popper's classification: heuristic, critical, apologetic. SEP: constructive and destructive

from Schick and Vaughn

  • Warren's space traveler
  • Time Travel - grandfather paradox
  • Gallileo's paradoxes for Aristotelian motion
  • Newton's bucket

Case Study of Thought Experiments: Thompson's "A Defence of Abortion"

  • identify and critically discuss: Violinist, Tiny House, People Seeds.
  • how would you argue against these thought experiments (strategies: accept/reject the premises of the experiment)

Genetic Engineering & Transhumanism

Even thought Glover and Bostrom aren't offering thought experiments directly, this topic seems to fit here because genetic engineering and transhumanism seem to generate "what if" scenarios that are similar to thought experiments and might generate them.

Glover, "What Sort of People Should There Be?"

  • role call question.
  • negative vs. positive
  • Raising a single trait, like IQ -- Argument against: playing God, ultimately separates into a blasphemy component and a part which objects to specific people playing God.
  • considerations of justice.
  • Nozick's genetic supermarket. What kinds of kids should we be allowed to create?


Transhumanism

OCT 14

OCT 21

Major Research Questions Tonight

  • What is the best way to think about the relationship between faith and reason? Action: define each. Draw pictures.
  • What is wrong with fideism?
  • What dynamic is established by committing one's religion to a philosophical theory of truth (such as Aquinas')?
  • Or, How does a revealed religion figure out which parts of the revelation are universal?
  • Is theology a science? Is philosophy a science?
  • Can articles of faith be objects of knowledge like objects studied by science? Do religions make factual claims?
  • How does the church's discussion of the faith and reason question differ from the problem as it arises in the sciences?

Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio

-Thematics: Faith and Reason and destinies of church and philosophy; Faith's correction of philosophy; Philosophy within the bounds of faith.

  • p. 3: Philosophy seems to have forgotten...
  • legitimate plurality vs. agnosticism and relativism.
  • Faith as obedient response to God p. 7
  • "ultimate purpose of human existence" a common theme of theology and philosophy.
  • "no reason for competition".... "each contains the other"...reason leading to mystery.
  • p. 12: ack: that you can't reduce eschatology to logic.
  • Christianity's adoption of philosophy, pl 18 ff.
  • Follow from p. 22: The Drama of the Separation of faith and reason
  • Wrong turns and error" ... " Task of Magisterium...." "communism, marxism..."
  • Fideism: (from Tkacz: the view that religious belief is based on faith alone -- that is, religiously belieing is a pure assent of the will)
  • Criticism of philosophy for abandoning metaphysics

Current Requirements and Tasks (Requirments for philosophy to be consonant with word of God: (p. 39)

  • must search for ultimate and over arching meaning in life
  • must verify the capacity to know the truth
  • must transcending empirical data to attain the metaphysical and foundational
  • more of the bad list: phenomenalists, relativists, postmodernists, atheists, pragmatism, scientism

Tkacz, "Faith, Reason, and Science"

  • Gould and NOMA
  • Religion makes factual claims.
  • T's position: Religious beliefs can be articulated as knowledge and are no less rational and objective than are the beliefs about the physical world investigated by science.
  • Note hierarchy in final quote.

Barrett, CSR & Sosis, "Adaptive Value of Religious Ritual"

1:"Rather than specify what religion is and try to explain it in whole, scholars in this field have generally chosen to approach 'religion' in an incremental, piecemeal fashion, identifying human thought or behavioral patterns that might count as 'religious' and then trying to explain why those patterns are cross-culturally recurrent."
2:CSR "seeks to detail the basic cognitive structure of thought and action that might be deemed religious and invites historians, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and other religion scholars to fiU in the hows and whys of particular religious phenomena."
":...through the course of development in any cultural context, human mind/brains exhibit a number of functional regularities regarding how they process information. These functional regularities are also known as domain-specific inference systems or 'mental tools'.^ Foi For instance, one mental tool concerns language. Humans (especially pre-pubescent humans) readily acquire and use natural languages but are not facile with non-natural symbolic communication systems such as binary code."
TC - Theological Correctness -- studies involving online/offline tasks
MCI - Minimally Counterintuitive Ideas -- 4 " Compare the idea of a barking dog that is brown on the other side of the fence to a barking dog that is able to pass through solid objects on the other side of the fence. The first dog is wholly intuitive and excites litde interest. The second dog is slightly or minimally counterintuitive and is, consequently, more attention demanding but without overloading on-line conceptual systems. The idea of a dog that passes through soUd objects is made of metal parts, gives birth to chickens, experiences time backwards, can read minds, and vanishes whenever you look at it would amount to a massively counterintuitive concept - if it is a coherent concept at all."
-transmission advantages for MCI's?
Older research -- Guthrie "Faces in the Clouds" - evolution would favor false positives in "agency detection". This may explain hyperactive agency detection. HADD
6: "Additional motivation to talk about and believe in gods may come firom their ability to account for striking events that otherwise have no intuitive explanation."
Born Believers:
promiscuous believers -- studies on children.
Theory of Mind
Whitehouse's "modes of religiosity" theory
Costly Signal Theory --

Sosis, "Adaptive Value of Religious Ritual"

  • Costly Signal Theory again: studies on longevity of communities by costly requirements
  • Cooperation within religious groups: The Shekel game as a measure.

OCT 28

Nagel, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?"

Starter small group question: If intelligent life forms visited us, would we be able to communicate?

  • treating the mental as the physical is reductive and mistaken (GC)
  • "Without some idea, therefore, of what the subjective character of experience is, we cannot know what is required of a physicalist theory." 437 -- follow argument : "every subjective phenol. is essentially connected with a single point of view and a physical theory will abandon that"
  • Example/Analogy of Bats:
  • imagination doesn't help -- always about imagining us being a bat.
  • 440: "permanently denied to us by the liits of our nature...441: belief in the existence of facts beyond the reach of human concepts"
  • Phenomenological facts, 442
  • Restatement of problem: 444

Dennett, "What It Is Like to Be a Bat?

  • note difference is makes if you choose bat, spider, monkey, cat.
  • note distinction (in reconstruction) of N's argument: could we confirm that we knew what being a bat was alike, or could we even represent it. N's point is the latter.
  • Thesis: There is a lot we can know about being a bat and not much that's interesting that we can't know. (note method: erosion and deflation!)
  • Claim: It is a mistake to think that csness consists of an inner observer (the "audience" in a "Cartesian" theater).
  • We could know that bat had csness if it could talk. So, not in principle out of reach. "cognitive ethology" "cognitive archaeology"
  • (Still, a lot of the research seems to be about "what's missing" from human csness in animals. Other examples: social cognition in dogs, empathy in primates. fairness studies in monkeys.

W. T. Jones, "The Phenomenological Method"

  • Natural Standpoint
  • Epoche, bracketing of natural standpoint. quote on 266
  • Interesting comparison of Husserl's project with Romanticism (267)
  • Absolute subjectivity as the basis for absolute objectivity.
  • note, p. 267: connected for Husserl to crisis in European culture.
  • phenomenological reduction "foregrounds" csness.
  • What do I see from this standpoint? Lots of acts of csness.
270: Note how phen changes the project of modern philosophy: not about verifying that the phenomenally perceived coin correlates with a real (csness independent) entity, but getting the phenomena to disclose structures of consciousness and essences in the appearances.
  • Husserl really thought he was offering a more fundamental and rigorous science that physical sciences provided. 274

NOV 4

Major questions in Philosophy of Law readings

  • What are the minimal conditions for something being valid law or jurisprudence?
  • How is the law related to morality, if at all (natural law, positivism)?
  • Can law be understood as a set of formal conditions?
  • Can law be understood as a anything but a set of formal conditions?
  • How should we assess the liability of a person who commits a felony or creates a reckless situation during the commission of a crime?
  • How does proportionality (of crime to punishment) enter into assessments of felony murder? Is it in competition with other goals of law?


Fuller, Speluncean Explorers

  • basic facts:
  • Foster - acquittal
  • the resort to clemency invalidates law
  • Two points:
  • Law doesn't apply. the case falls under "Law of Nature"
  • Law does apply. Falls within exceptions to literal interpretation of law -- unforeseeable circumstances, textual errors, self-defense (ok because not a deterrent to prosecute)
  • Tatting - withdraws from case
  • refutes Foster's state of nature claim: doesn't make sense in itself and not clear what it's code is. Are contracts more powerful that murder prohibition? Could Whetmore have defended himself?
  • problems with reading law as only have force in relation to its purpose.
  • they acted willfully.
  • Les Mis case: stealing bread not justified by hunger. if hunger can't justify stealing how can it justify eating a person?
  • problems about the scope of the exception - does it extend to analyzing the procedure they followed?
  • Keen - affirms conviction; postivist (fidelity to written law)
  • problem of judicial activism and "supremacy of legislature"
  • not our role to divine the "purpose" of the law in applying it.
  • Handy - anti-formalist
  • law should take into account realities of human emotion and experience
  • examples of discretion in law: whether to prosecute, jury acquittal; hung jury; pardons


Fletcher, Reflections on Felony Murder

  • felony murder: doctrine that killing in the course of a felony is presumptive for homicide.
  • applies liability standards to criminal law: recklessness and extreme indifference to human life.
  • Model Penal Code offers a very strong doctrine of felony murder. 447: problem is when FM doctrine treats the commission of the felony as conclusive for establishing culpability for the homicide.
  • People v. Fuller: facts, "What did defendant do to endanger human life?" formalists says its enough that they committed the felony.
  • FM increase bargaining power of prosecutors.
  • accomplices and the affirmative defence against FM. 448
  • two primitive intuitions in FM: idea of "taint" on loss of life and idea that once one is doing wrong, one is culpable for circumstances: case of person who kills and later discovers the victim is police officer. "offender must take his victim as he finds him" 450 But these intuitions violate the principle of proportionaly punishment.

NOV 11

Dennett, Chapter 1: Tell Me Why

  • Can wonder and purpose be sustained in light of Darwinism?
  • Compares Darwin to Galileo. DD would give Darwin award for best idea ever.
  • Section 2 -- distinguishes 4 causes, or aitia. (23) material, formal, efficient, and final, roughly "What, Where, When, Why"

Problem with teleological questions, no way to stop them, but that doesn't mean they continue to make sense. Darwin gives us new way of asking why questions, dissolves conundrums of the 4 causes.

  • 2 Examples of world view Darwin made obsolete: Locke's "Mind First" view (26-28)
  • matter alone can't produce mind, mind must come first.
  • Hume - Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779) - DD mentions dist. between natural and revealed religion. In the dialogue, Cleanthes defends the argument from design - world is one great machine. Philo objects to the generalization from one part of the universe (and the presence of mind locally) to a Designer. Also, he points out the regress problem. (30)
  • Philo gets Cleanthes to admit God's Mind is like man's mut then possibly God is a bungler (read 30-31) (interesting anticipation of Darwinism thinking here)
  • At the end of the dialogue, Philo caves in and seems to acknowledge there must be a Designer, but Denntt shows that this was not from fear of atheism charge, but because Hume couldn't imagine an alternative to "mind first"
  • 32-33: shows another passage which Philo seems to Anticipate D-ian thining.

Dennett, Chapter 2: An Idea is Born

  • naturalism, before D., of aristotles' essence/accident distinction (even though in Darwin's time this view was common) Darwin made this obsolete.
  • real v. nominal essences in Locke. 38: Platonic bias against species change, since essences don't change.
  • Introduces Malthus (40). 41: repeats same two points Darwin added to Malthus (as in Ruse, I think): 1. advanatage at crunch time to those adapted. 2. Advanatges can be inherited.
  • For Dennett, evolution wasn't D's great idea, but the algorthm of selection.
  • 44: Darwin winds up defining species pragmatically, not essentially. Interesting examples to undermine "interbreeding" as an essential mark of species. groups that are considered separate species but can breed, groups that are the same species but don't interbreed.
  • cites Ridley on ring species like the Herring gull.
  • Darwin described how a non-intelligent Artificer could produce variation. This reverses Hume's problem of not being able to imagine an alternative to "mind first". Now it's hard to imagine an alternative to selection as a means of producing variation.
  • 50 - DD gives his algorithm interpretation of D-ism.
  • algorithms - a formal process that can be counted on - logically - to yield a certain sort of result whenerver it is "run" ex. long division, balancing your checkbook, etc.
  • features of algorithms: 1) substrate neutrality; 2) underlying mindlessness; and 3) guaranteed results
  • discusses (52-53) algorithms for long division. elimination tournament alg. are more like evolutionary alg. important to note how "automatically" the alg. produces the winner. and how mindlessly.
  • the high odds we associate with winning a coin flipping contest are always eperienced retrospectively. from the standpoint of the algorithm it's a necessary outcome that someone will "beat" the odds.
  • 56: illusion of the alg. process that they seem to have a purpose. but alg. that happen to attract our interest are ones which achieve goals we're interested it. that doesn't mean that alg. themselves are purposive. Big misunderstanding of Darwinism that evolution is purposive. Cites Gould's Wonderful Life argument approvingly. If we were to rewind the tape of life, it's massively unlikely that evolution would produce US again. [note problem for view of Deist God that intended our existence]
  • [radical contingency]
  • interesting examples of alg. processes. production of sand on shore, annealing process for metal.
  • 59: final restatement of D's dangerous idea: "the algorithmic level is the level that best accounts for the speed of the antelope, the wing of the eagle, the shapte of the orchid, the diversity of species, and all the other occasions for sonder in theworld of nature."

Dennett, Chapter 3: Universal Acid

  • Dennett think its important that Darwin gave an explanation "in the middle" after life was present. He saw the implications of his view for metaphysics, but he focused on the recursive mechanism and the best way to see that is in the diversity of species.
  • 63: "If redesign could be a mindless, algorithmic process of evolution, why couldn't tha twhole process itself be the product of evolution, and so forth, all the way down? And if mindless evolution could account for the breathtakingly clever artifacts of the biosphere, how could the products of our own "real" minds be exempt from an evolutionary explanation? Darwin's idea thus also threatened to spread all the way up, dissolving the illusion of our own authorship, our own divine spark of creativity and understanding."
  • Lots of work on evolution is about containing this universal acid. [like Ruse]
  • 2. Darwin's Assult on the Cosmic Pyramid
  • dist between order and design depends in tradition, on telos. order is just regularity, design has purpose. Darwin claims design can come from order without imposition of mind (that's the lesson the chapter on design space).
  • "Darwin reduced teleology to nonteleology, Design to Order"
  • 65: great quote from an historical objection to Darwin.
  • 67: Can we treat selection as "designed" in total? Does God create evolution to achieve his ends?
  • 3. The Principle of Accumulation of Design
  • we should grant the premise of the Design argument -- appearance of Design is an indication of work done
  • introduces idea of selction as a means of creating local exceptions to the 2nd law of thermodynamics. cites Richard Gregory.
  • 70: funny story illustrating how life is a temporary triumph over the 2nd law. How do you unscramble eggs? Chemically, it would be very hard, but it you feed them to a hen, it's easy.
  • Minds are at the "top" of an evolutionary process in the sense that they have the most design.
  • 72: raises the question of whether it makes more sense to assume a common design process for evolved organisms, or allow for parallel processes (sort of like parallel discovery in industrial design). Later is less likely, you'd want to see the evidence of the prallel process.
  • 4. The Tools for R and D: Skyhooks or Cranes?
  • introduces the terms and shows how Cranes can do the design work in evolution. skyhooks are related to "min first" explpanations.
  • cranes "speed things up"
  • 76: sex is a crane. better than asexual reproduction, allows selection (by sight for example)
  • Baldwin effect: Asked, "How could it be that individual animals, by solving problems in the own lifetimes, could change the conditions of competition for their own offspring, making those prpoblems easaier to solve in the future?"
  • Baldwin discovered that creatures capable of reinforcement learning evolved faster because of a "greater capacity to discover design mprovements in the neighborhood." 79
  • explains why this isn't Lamarkianism. 80
  • 5. Who's Afraid of Reductionism?
  • distinguishes greedy from good reductionism. greedy reductionists think everything can be explained without cranes, good reductionists think everything can be explained without skyhooks.
  • proper reductionism doesn't explain things away, though it might take some of the mystery out of them.

David Papineau, Physicalism

  • Physicalism
  • seems odd that thoughts are physical, but if not how can they interact with the world?
  • Physicalism; :everything is physical, applied to mind as well
  • How can things not physical have effects? Not incoherent for non-physical to have effect, but last 200 years of science suggests this principle.
  • Isn't this an assumption of science? No, science used to allow, forces of contact, gravitation, vital forces, mental forces. Some of these look non-physical to us.
  • conservation of energy and study of bodies made the difference.
  • Possible that something non-physical is there, just lots of evidence against.
  • epiphenomenolism - mind not physical, just there for the ride.
  • What about qualia? They don't seem reducible. Mary's Room thought experiment. Jackson: Mary gains new knowledge with first experience of color. Additional fact must be non-physical. Physicalism is false.
  • Response: Mary had a new experience. New brain process. No problem there, but problem if she knows something new. Papineau's approach: Mary is changed, but her new knowledge is something she new under scientific description. She acquires a new concept of seeing something red.
  • Importance of openness in Newtonian thought to non-physical forces. At that time, most scientists were dualists. Late 19th evidence tips. Dualist "on the back foot"

NOV 18

Introduction to Buddhism (from wikipedia)

  • The Four Noble Truths
1 There is suffering.
2 There is the origination of suffering: suffering comes into existence in dependence on causes.
3 There is the cessation of suffering: all future suffering can be prevented by becoming aware of our ignorance and undoing the effects of it.
4 There is a path to the cessation of suffering.
8 fold path. (see above and in Feuerstein.)


Division Eightfold Path factors Acquired factors
Wisdom (Sanskrit: prajñā, Pāli: paññā) 1. Right view 9. Superior right knowledge
2. Right intention 10. Superior right liberation
Ethical conduct (Sanskrit: śīla, Pāli: sīla) 3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
Concentration (Sanskrit and Pāli: samādhi) 6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration
- from wikipedia.

Introduction to Buddhism (Siderits)

  • Background on Buddha
  • note heterodoxy, intro/dev karmic theory, moral teaching ind. of focus on ritual and deities.
  • consensus on "moksa" as goal of enlightenment. Buddha's teaching one of many.
  • Siderits presents sramanas as critical and questioning of heterodoxy.
  • The Four Noble Truths
1 There is suffering.
1. Normal pain. Decay, disease, death.
2. Suffering from ignorance of impermanence. Including ignorance of no-self. Suffering from getting what your want or don't want.
3. Suffering from conditions. Rebirth itself is a form of suffering. (So belief in rebirth doesn't solve the problem of suffering in one life.)
2 There is the origination of suffering: suffering comes into existence in dependence on causes.
Note the chain of causal connection advanced on p. 22 of Siderits: ignorance ultimate causes suffering, but the intermediate steps are important. Let's give a psychological reading of this metaphysical chain of causation.
3 There is the cessation of suffering: all future suffering can be prevented by becoming aware of our ignorance and undoing the effects of it. "It is the utter cessation and extinction of that craving, its renunciation,its forsaking, release from it, and non-attachment to it." (from pali canon reading)
4 There is a path to the cessation of suffering.
8 fold path. importance of meditation (p. 24)


  • Cessation of suffering: meditation, (non)self-discovery.
  • Need to assess this recommended "training program" more in light of Discourse on Mindfulness and the Eight Fold path (See wiki page Noble Eight Fold Path)
  • Note discussion of meditation, p. 25. Basic theory for mindfulness meditation exercise.
  • Liberation
  • rejection of presentism and annihilationism as models for liberation.
  • paradox of liberation: how can you desire liberation if liberation requires relinguishment of desire. Possible solution: to desire the end of suffering.
  • Problem following the consequences of "non-self": Buddhist maxim: "Act always as if the future of hte Universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference."

Siderits, Chapter Three: Non-Self: Empty Persons

  • Key points:
  • 1. Buddhist claims there is no self because: 1. self is impermanent and 2. we do not have complete control of a self.
  • 2. Support from analysis of the Five Skandhas (lit. "bundles")
  • Rupa: anything corporeal or physical;
  • Feeling: sensations of pleasure, pain and indifference; (only, other emotions under volition)
  • Perception: those mental events whereby one grasps the sensible characteristics of a perceptible object; e.g., the seeing of a patch of blue color, the hearing of the sound of thunder;
  • Volition: the mental forces responsible for bodily and mental activity, for example, hunger, attentiveness, and
  • Consciousness: the awareness of physical and mental states. (Siderits 35-36)
  • Exhaustiveness Claim: There is no more to the person than the five skandhas (the exhaustiveness claim).
  • Maybe the "I" is an executive function
  • problems with this view.
  • An entity cannot operate on itself (the anti-reflexivity principle).
  • Could just be shifting coalition. (sounds like Bloom?)
  • Support for this view: Questions of King Milinda - nominalism -- words as "convenient designators" conventional vs. ultimate truths.
  • Summary of Siderits view:

"We are now in a position to return to the dispute over the exhaustiveness claim and the Buddha's two arguments for non-self. Both arguments relied on there being no more to the person than the five skandhas. The opponent objected to the argument from control on the grounds that our ability to exercise some degree of control over all the skandhas shows that there must be more to us than the five skandhas. The response was that there could be control over all the skandhas if it were a shifting coalition of skandhas that performed the executive function. But the opponent challenged this response on the grounds that there would then be many distinct I's, not the one we have in mind when we say that I can dislike and seek to change all the skandhas. We can now see how the Buddhist will respond. They will say that ultimately there is neither one controller nor many, but conventionally it is one and the same person who exercises control over first one skandha and then another. This is so because the controller is a conceptual fiction. It is useful for a causal series of skandhas to think of itself as a person, as something that exercises some control over its constituents. Because it is useful, it is conventionally true. This is how we have learned to think of ourselves. But because this person, this controller, is a conceptual fiction, it is not ultimately true that there is one thing exercising control over different skandhas at different times. Nor is it ultimately true that it is different controllers exercising control over them. The ultimate truth is just that there are psychophysical elements in causal interaction. This is the reality that makes it useful for us to think of Ives as persons who exercise control. Our sense of being something that exists over and above the skandhas is an illusion. But it is a useful one. " 64

NOV 25

DEC 2

Food Philosophy

Major Questions

  • What is Food? What is Food desire?
  • What is Eating?
  • How does Food Culture change us? How have we been changing Food Culture?
  • Why is Food Ideology so irrepressible? What drives it?
  • Who are the baddies? [1]
  • Justice issues
  • Health issues
  • Environmental issues
  • Other Food ethics: consumer responsibility, vulnerable populations (kids and dietary disease prone)

Tannahill, Food in History, Chapter 4: First Civilizations

  • Pattern of Empire, Food, and Early Agriculture: soil degradation, conquest, food crisis, famine
  • 1st almanac: 2500bc
  • grain cakes, leavening, bread and beer. Note imp. of wheat threshing technology to making leavened bread.
  • Pastoral nomads vs. Agriculturalists. resurrection myths vs. dynamic warrior gods.
  • Meat, blood, and diet in the Bible and religion
  • specific hypothesis: Bible originally enjoined vegetarianism (?)
  • general hypothesis: Food and diet are tied to conceptions of purity. original vs. current triggers

Gratzer, Terrors of the Table, Chapter 10, Fads

  • more on biblical vegetarianism: 17th century theorists, Tolstoy, Shelley, 7th Day Adventists
  • Graham, (Caleb Jackson's "Granula") Kellogg and the invention of modern cereals
  • Johanna Brandt's grape cure, fasting, veg, raw food, museli, uric acid, Salisbury steaks (3 lbs a day with warm water!), yogurt, Fletcher, vitamins, laetrile
  • Note: pace of fads seem to increase with discovery of vitamins. Note: celebrated scientists not immune.

Moss, Salt, Sugar, and Fat

  • Focuses on story of the "cereal wars" -- 1st sig. late 20th effort to take on industrial food industry.
  • Reprise of cereal invention (note dyspepsia was the problem to cure, but was itself a dietary condition)
  • Growth of industry: 1970 to 1980s: 660 million to 4.4 billion.
  • Dentist (Ira Shannon) blows the whistle, nutritionists agree: is it cereal or a confection? Is
  • Politics of the Cereal Wars: Gov't regulation, social engineering, addiction, marketing to kids.
  • Business strategies: direct marketing to kids, relabeling, changing appeal (sugar as brain food), p. 85: consumption capitalism (read)

Pollan, In Defense of Food

  • Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants
  • A lot of what is in the grocery store isn't really food (evaluate in discussion)
  • Changes in Food Culture:
  • displacement of traditional authorities with gov't, science, and industry advice. "Nutritional Industrial Complex"
  • upper middle class food culture: gourmet recipes and variety
  • when, where, and how of eating has changed.
  • Pollan's claim: Food is also about community, spirituality, our relationship to nature.
  • Story of the McGovern Commission: start of politics of nutritionism. "No bad foods" and "No Bad Diets" become politically necessary beliefs.
  • Nutritionism: the reductive and uncritical use of nutritional science to support an ideological and unhealthy view of the nature of food and the way to make food choices.
  • Nutritionism leads to a food politics in which food producers can manipulate our consumption choices by engineering food which is fundamentally unhealthy but which appears as a relatively healthy choice.
  • Food fads are fueled in part by nutritionism: cholesterol, fortified unhealthy foods, lipid hypothesis.

Possible Paper Prompt

Evaluate the critique of the modern American food system implicit in the video and reading for today's class. Is there a problem with our food system? If so, what are the main sources of the problem and what should be done about it. If not, where do you find a basis for skepticism or criticism of the critics?

DEC 9