In my book When Reason Goes on Holiday (Encounter 2016) I argued that the biography of Imre Lakatos at the London School of Economics website was economical with the truth, in that it contained distortions and misleading implications that suppressed the full truth about some episodes of his life. In the early 2016, on the LSE … More LSE, Lakatos, and disappearing biographies
We all remember “the Sokal affair”, when Alan Sokal, a New York University physicist, wrote a piece of total bullshit, peppered with fashionable postmodernist terminology, and managed to publish it in a leading cultural studies journal. Many people think that this is the best possible way to expose the pretentious and irritating nonsense so widespread … More Žižek, the irresistible
FIRST LAW: Question everything! SECOND LAW: . . . except for the victimhood of women, racial minorities, LGBT, etc. THIRD LAW: Never, ever mention the second law!
Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote: A tautology . . . says nothing. (Tractatus, 5,142) He further clarified: The logical product of a tautology and a proposition says the same thing as the proposition. This product, therefore, is identical with the proposition. (Tractatus, 4,465) Basically, Wittgenstein is saying that if T is a tautology and p is any proposition, … More Wittgenstein was wrong—and Stalin was right—about tautologies
Almost 8 years ago I published on my Facebook a post about Carnap’s well-known criticism of Heidegger. I reproduce it here (in blue font). Carnap famously claimed that some of Heidegger’s allegedly deep philosophical thoughts are in fact just pseudo-statements in which he committed elementary logical fallacies, like treating the word “nothing” as a name … More Carnap – Heidegger 1-0 (certified)
Nassim Nicholas Taleb is, in my opinion, one of the most overrated “public intellectuals” today. Exhibit A is his awful book The bed of Procrustes: philosophical and practical aphorisms (Random House, 2010). Here are some examples, with my brief comments: Pharmaceutical companies are better at inventing diseases that match existing drugs, rather than inventing drugs … More Taleb and the art of bad aphorism
John Searle says “Yes”. I say “Perhaps not”. Here is Searle: Well, Bernard was a very good friend of mine… I think Bernard was as intelligent as any human being I’ve ever met. He had a kind of quickness which was stunning. Now one consequence of that is there’s a sense in which people who … More Was Bernard Williams potentially a great philosopher?
A few years before her death Kurt Gödel’s mother asked her son whether they would see each other in a hereafter. He answered affirmatively and provided the following proof in a letter of July 23, 1961: About that I can only say the following: If the world is rationally organized and has a sense, then … More A mistake in Gödel’s proof
At the beginning of my academic career, British philosopher Peter Strawson visited Zagreb and gave a talk at our department. In a chat after his lecture, I asked him for his opinion about Jack Smart, the Australian philosopher, in whose work on physicalism I was then very interested. Strawson’s comment on Smart was just the … More Remembering J. J. C. Smart
When a book entitled 100 authors against Einstein came out in Germany in 1931, Einstein allegedly exclaimed: “If I were wrong, then one [author] would have been enough!” Unlike Einstein, many contemporary physicists apparently believe that—even in discussions about science—there is strength in numbers. So when several months ago Italian physicist Alessandro Strumia gave a … More Physicists, sex differences, and a new inquisition