In the beginning everyone searching for knowledge was doing philosophy. There was nothing else. Then, gradually, one scientific discipline after another started separating themselves from philosophy. Eventually, philosophy was “expelled” from so many domains that its main theoretical subject matter reduced to three areas: (a) history of philosophy, (b) various conceptual questions, and (c) metaphysics … More An amazingly short history of philosophy
In 1964 Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature but declined it. The New York Review of Books published his explanation of why he refused to accept the award: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1964/dec/17/sartre-on-the-nobel-prize/ Sartre’s argument is riddled with contradiction and nonsense. I will comment on some parts. A writer who adopts political, social, or literary positions … More Sartre and the Nobel Prize
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