• Unbounded Naturalism

      Andrew Taggart; University of Wisconsin (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2009-03-14)
      This essay places John McDowell’s Mind and World squarely within the context of German idealism. Like German idealists before him, McDowell is concerned with overcoming subjectivism and with defending a robust conception of experience. Yet in the Anglo-American reception of McDowell’s Mind and World while much has been made of his relationship to Kant and Hegel, little attention has been paid to the developmental aspect of his ‘partially re-enchanted’ naturalism and its role in getting us beyond a conception of disenchanted nature. By cluing us into the issues that surround McDowell’s account of our normal upbringing (Bildung) and of our ability to reflect upon it, ‘Unbounded Naturalism’ seeks to make clear that McDowell’s realism succeeds in bringing the mind back into contact with the world but not without limiting the mind-world relationship considerably. This limitation indicates that one of the problems philosophy faces and that McDowell rightly identifies—namely, that of disenchantment—may require more than the kind of ‘therapeutic’ or ‘stoical’ solution that McDowell recommends; it may require cultivating a form of dialectical thought that can better face the deeply social and historical disunity between mind and world. Accordingly, the essay follows up its critique of McDowell’s ‘conservatism’ with a Hegelian-inspired attempt to retain and revise the vital points he makes about experience in particular and about naturalism in general.
    • Understanding in a Post-Truth World? Com-prehension and Co-naissance as Empathetic Antidotes to Post-Truth Politics

      Deakin University; Andrew Trevor Kirkpatrick; Deakin University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2017-11-11)
      The election of Donald Trump and the accompanying alt-right fervor of fake news and alternative facts has brought into focus the so-called post-truth era. This paper argues that the term ‘post-truth’ amounts to little more than the mainstream articulation of the postmodern condition, or what Frederic Jameson calls ‘the cultural logic of late capitalism.’ Accordingly, I contend that the post-truth era does not reflect an absence of truth, but rather its inverse; it involves a proliferation of truths. The thoroughly postmodern ‘marketplace of ideas’ has seen truth reduced to a ‘thing’ that can be packaged and sold in order to meet individual preferences. Though this is often veiled as a ‘democratization of truth’, the tendency of markets to manufacture demand has resulted in the production of competing, surplus truths, which are then sold at the lowest, most efficient price possible. I contend that this oversimplification of reality has paved the way for an individual like Trump to assert himself politically. Importantly, such a simplified approach to truth can only occur when we assume that truth is a static ‘thing’ or ‘object’. What this attitude betrays is an underlying ontological commitment to being. In light of this, it is argued that missing from post-truth politics are attempts at understanding. Unlike truth, understanding is taken as a dialectical movement that assumes an ontology of becoming. Through appeals to Whitehead and Merleau-Ponty, it is argued that understanding is much more than an intellectual process by which we come to know things; it is also the mode through which nature produces itself. This becoming of nature can be explained in terms of com-prehension and co-naissance—as literally a ‘co-grasping’, ‘co-birth’ or ‘co-knowing’. In light of this, understanding will be presented as an empathetic alternative to truth and the mode through which we can overcome the stasis afflicting cultural and political life.
    • Universal Principles of Intelligent System Design

      Kirill Popov; University of California, Berkeley; Aamod Shanker; Debanjan Bhowmik (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2018-01-13)
      We propose a universal definition of intelligence of a physical system and discuss its implications on design of intelligent systems. The definition proposed is universally valid and does not invoke teleological or anthropic concepts. We discuss the relationship of intelligence to energetic properties by invoking recent results in inequilibrium thermodynamics and computational mechanics. Intelligent system design is reformulated in three natural problems: selective forgetting, memory maintenance and self-recording. We conclude with highlighting the relationship of energetic and informational optimality principles involved in designing intelligent physical systems or their spontaneous emergence.
    • Using Giambattista Vico to Ponder Truth and Reality in the Donald Trump Era

      Steve Peter Mackey; Deakin University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2017-11-11)
      Writers including Arran Gare and Mikhail Epstein are calling for a return to the humanities to tackle contemporary impotence against globally disasterous neoliberal ideas. This paper uses the thesis of Giambattista Vico to take their call a step further. Rather than asking present thinkers to change their perspectives, what is needed is the creation of new thinkers. According to Vico in the past there have been three ages in which people have thought on the bases of very different sensus communis or archai. That is: since pre-history humanity has used three entirely different, if somewhat overlapping schema for understanding. These are superstition, hero myths and logical reasoning. As will be explained, logical reasoning is no longer adequate. But the seeds of a radically different fourth basis of understanding lies hidden within logical reasoning’s body. This forgotten potential is a proper grasp of Aristotle’s and others’ insightful conceptions of rhetoric, conceptions which have been suppressed by logicians. This paper calls for a paradigm shift in thinking to retrieve these ideas and align philosophy closer to what was once termed the queen of the humanities.
    • Using Psychic Phenomena to Connect Mind to Brain and to Revise Quantum Mechanics

      Psychic phenomena; Mind; Brain; Quantum mechanics; Stanley A. Klein; UC Berkeley (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2017-03-26)
      One of the deep mysteries facing science concerns how the subjective aspect of consciousness (qualia) comes to exist. There is a possibility that psychic phenomena (psi) can provide an answer since psi and qualia may have the same source. Although I'm a psi skeptic I would love to see reliable data supporting it, since that could then usher in an exciting new exploration into brain mechanisms and would force fundamental physics to change. This paper explores four different approaches for understanding qualia and psi:  1) Modify physics. Four quite different approaches will be discussed: a) a modified Born Rule, b) a modification to general relativity, c) a Bohmian update of hidden variables, and d) adding a panpsychic ‘psychon' to QED. 2) Surprising emergence. This is the view whereby the neuroscience and psychology of the future will show how qualia and psi can come about by surprising brain mechanisms.  3) Panentheism and Cosmic Mind. In this view, consciousness is primary and possibly not amenable to scientific explanation. 4) Awesome illusion. Here, "qualia" is an ill-posed question and will therefore not be answered by science. For psi, being an illusion means that the past experiments are not replicable when steps are taken to satisfy friendly skeptics like me. Although I am a skeptic, I strongly hope that psi is replicable since that would usher in a revolution in physics and neuroscience. It could even lead to an understanding of qualia.
    • Vibrational Foundations of Mental Morphogenesis

      Aamod Shanker; University of California, Berkeley; Kirill Popov; University of California, Berkeley; Cale Madsen; Debanjan Bhowmik (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2018-01-13)
      Morphogenesis, the generation of form, is closely related to the mathematical field of topology, the study of the qualities of shape. Since cerebral thought distils itself into shapes, seen and felt, and their subsequent transformation, the study of the emergence and comprehension of shapes is central to address questions of consciousness, emerging at the apparent juxtaposition of the internal world of the mind, and the external world of physical objects. Since light is a vibrating electromagnetic wave , we use principles derived from measurements of coherent speckle in light, where energy unfolds out of singularities in the field,  to draw analogies with the emergence of the material universe from centers of conscious experience. The vibrational basis of understanding consciousness is additionally complemented with ancient shaivik literature of south asia - the spandakarika (vibration chronicles).
    • Violence, Cruelty, Power: Reflections on Heteronomy

      John Rundell; The University of Melbourne (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2012-12-14)
      There is an opening in Castoriadis’ work for a notion of cruelty, and it emerges in the way in which he develops his idea of heteronomy, as a human world that is blinded or deflected away from human self-creation. This essay is an attempt to locate cruelty constitutively or ontologically in a post-metaphysical register, as an act of creativity that can be given form as a very particular act of singularity, that is, without regard for the other. Acts of human cruelty are acts of imaginary, creative activity among others that themselves are form, that is, expressed in physically embodied, objectivated, linguistic or symbolic form, and often become highly stylized, and when socially instituted, have their own spatial and temporal dimensions. In this way, it is distinct from relations of power.
    • Vital Concerns and Vital Illusions

      Murray Code; University of Guelph (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2012-05-03)
      A consumer society that has embraced global capitalism while striving to preserve all the comforts and conveniences provided by technoscience is arguably fatally ill. Much support for this gloomy diagnosis is provided by, among others, Hannah Arendt, Northrop Frye, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Their reflections on the health of a human culture point up the urgency of the need to rethink the idea of good reasoning that predominates in the West. However, they also indicate that a healthier, more life-enhancing conception of good reasoning will arise only when a concern for justice and wisdom displaces the traditional ideals of pure and certain knowledge or eternal truths. To this end, Nietzsche recommends that philosophy ought now to concentrate on producing `cultural physicians' who would strive to fashion a philosophy of concern. This type of philosophical therapist requires a radically nonmodern approach to philosophy that must pivot on a vitalistic metaphysics capable of overcoming pervasive nihilistic ideologies which illustrate a globally spreading mythology of unconcern. Hence an effective and lasting cultural therapy will depend on the emergence of a general will/desire to broaden the conception of good reasoning beyond the narrow perspectives established by modern science. And this will depend in turn on the education of future educators who stress above all the importance of cultivating the mythopoeic imaginations of the young.
    • Voluntary Action, Conscious Will, and Readiness Potential

      Syamala D. Hari; Lucent Technologies (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2018-01-13)
      Libet and colleagues, and later many others investigated brain activity during voluntary action. They found that electrophysiological "readiness potentials" (RPs) precede awareness of intention to act (W). They also found that awareness of actually moving i.e., initiation of motor command (M) follows W, and action follows M; after W, the decision to act can be consciously vetoed until the action actually starts. Libet proposed that one's brain initiates voluntary acts but not one's conscious will, and that conscious will can still control the outcome by vetoing the action. In this article, we explain why the above experimental observations (RP start, W, M, conscious veto) occur in the order they do, using the two-time interpretation of quantum mechanics. We take into account the general and objective observation that a voluntary action needs to use information pertaining to the desired future state (to go to New York, I take a train to New York not to Philadelphia). This observation is confirmed by cognitive scientists as they state that the mental image of the future must become the content of the present memory as a prerequisite to such action and that our brains are endowed with the ability to create ‘memories of the future', i.e., neural models of something that, as of yet does not exist but which we want to bring into existence.
    • Walking With Death, Walking With Science, Walking With Living: Philosophical Praxis and Happiness

      Frances Gray; University of New England (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
      This paper explores the consequences of acknowledging that we are the dead walking with the dead. I argue that if we take the view that life frames death, rather than the view that death frames life, then we must refigure our living as ethical creatures. Using Aristotle's notion that we become virtuous by practising virtue, I argue that happiness, thought of in terms of ethical living, should temper our attitude to death as the inevitable end we must all encounter. Acknowledgement of our dying and our death enhances the ethical imperative to live virtuously and to promote human flourishing. I adopt a Buddhist reading of death and dying to interpret the Aristotelian perspective.
    • Walking With Death, Walking With Science, Walking With Living: Philosophical Praxis and Happiness

      Frances Gray; University of New England (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
      This paper explores the consequences of acknowledging that we are the dead walking with the dead. I argue that if we take the view that life frames death, rather than the view that death frames life, then we must refigure our living as ethical creatures. Using Aristotle's notion that we become virtuous by practising virtue, I argue that happiness, thought of in terms of ethical living, should temper our attitude to death as the inevitable end we must all encounter. Acknowledgement of our dying and our death enhances the ethical imperative to live virtuously and to promote human flourishing. I adopt a Buddhist reading of death and dying to interpret the Aristotelian perspective.
    • Was Samuel Butler Mainly Right About Evolution?

      Murray Code; University of Guelph (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2013-07-08)
      Samuel Butler, a contemporary critic of Charles Darwin, proffered an alternative, vitalistic account of evolution. At the same time, he put into question all modern naturalistic treatments of this fundamental idea which presuppose that evolution is mainly a scientific problem. On the contrary, Butler in effect insists, this extremely vague idea calls for not an `explanation' but rather a fairly comprehensive, plausible story that helps elucidate an inherently complex idea. Butler can thus be read as outlining an anthropomorphic metaphorics that evokes a living Cosmos wherein it might be possible to do justice to the problem which Darwin left unresolved---the problem of heredity. In this picture of the Cosmos Butler links the fundamental notion of organization not to the allegedly universal and immutable `laws of nature,' as the moderns would have it, but rather to dynamically evolving relationships between only more or less stable habits. The variations in extant habits that emergence elicits are moreover the products of quasi-intelligent responses to new challenges from the environment. For Butler follows Lamarck in holding that all organisms possess powers capable of responding to felt needs and/or desires to make alterations in the habits (or instincts) that characterize their modes of existence. He thus in the end effectively bequeaths to his readers a challenge to extend and amplify, if possible, his outline of a promising metaphysical imaginary that can take into account some highly unorthodox conjectures.
    • Wave Function Collapse in Retinal Structure Under Aided/Unaided Conditions

      BIAL Foundation, grant # 255.; Karla M. Galdamez (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2017-03-26)
      Photon-rhodopsin interaction is investigated within the context of information transfer at a distance.  John von Neumann's idea of wave function collapse (WFC) forms the framework for the process of information transfer via a single light quanta along with human intention between pairs.  Mathematical formalism relating to the density matrix is studied to distinguish the collapse phenomena from  absorption and decoherence thus isolating more clearly the possible dynamics of a photon wave function via intention.  Our main hypothesis consists on the assumption that the interaction of distant intention and photon-rhodopsin pair will result in a swift from a simple and straight forward absorption process to that of a single entry in the density matrix representation thus leading to case of wave function collapse (WFC).
    • What is a Philosophical Institution? Or: Address, Transmission, Inscription

      Alain Badiou; Ecole Normale Superieure and at the College international de philosophie in Paris (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2006-10-27)
      This translation is taken from Alain Badiou, emConditions/em, Paris: Eacute;ditions du Seuil, 1992, pp.83-90. Except for some final improvements, this is the text was first presented, in 1989, as a colloquium intervention at the Collegrave international de philosophie.
    • What is Life? Among Other Things, It's a Synergistic Effect!

      Peter Corning; Institute for the Study of Complex Systems (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2009-03-14)
      There have been many different ways of characterizing and describing the phenomenon of life over the years. One aspect that has not often been stressed is lifersquo;s emergent propertiesmdash;the synergies that are produced when many elements or parts combine to produce distinctive new ldquo;wholesrdquo;. Indeed, complex living systems represent a multi-leveled, multi-faceted hierarchy of synergistic effects that has evolved over several billion years. Some of the many examples of synergy at various levels of life are briefly described, and it is emphasized that life is still creating itself and still exploring its potentialities.
    • What makes “a mental illness?” What makes “a new mental illness”?: The cases of solastalgia and hubris syndrome.

      Seamus P MacSuibhne; St VIncent's University Hospital/University College Dublin (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2009-11-25)
      What is a “mental illness”? What is an “illness”? What does the description and classification of “mental illnesses” actually involve, and is the description of “new” mental illnesses description of actually existing entities, or the creation of them?  “Solastalgia” is a neologism, invented by the Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht, to give greater meaning and clarity to psychological distress caused by environmental change (Albrecht et al 2007) The concept received some coverage in the international mass media in late 2007 (Thompson, 2007) Much of this described solastalgia as “a new concept in mental illness”, a description endorsed by Albrecht himself. The doctor and former British Foreign Secretary, Lord Owen, has coined the phrase “hubris syndrome” to describe the mindset of prime ministers and presidents whose behaviour is characterised by reckless, hubristic belief in their own rightness. This paper uses both the concept of solastalgia and the related concepts Albrecht posited of psychoterratic and somaterratic illnesses and hubris syndrome as a starting point to explore issues around the meaning of mental illness, and what it means to describe and classify mental illness. These issues illustrated tensions between natural and social philosophy, with the nature and status of psychiatry as a scientific, “value-free” enterprise or a humanistic, “value-laden” one discussed. Should “the distress caused by environmental change” be deemed a mental illness? Could it thereby included in catalogues of mental illnesses such as DSM-IV and ICD-10? The process whereby the psychiatric establishment defines and categorises mental illness is described, and as well as examining whether solastalgia and hubris syndrome meets these criteria, those criteria  are compared to more critical views of psychiatry and the nature of mental illness. The approaches of Szasz, Boorse, Fulford, Canguilhem and other thinkers to issues related to mental illness are discussed. Finally it is suggested that the language of mental illness is increasingly used for rhetorical purposes, and that caution should be exercised in extending the label of illness to the phenomena of solastalgia and hubris syndrome.
    • What Matters Now? Review of Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things

      Alan Van Wyk (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2012-12-14)
      Review of Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things
    • What ought we to do? Tragic answers from Heidegger and Castoriadis

      Andrew Cooper; University of Sydney (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2012-12-14)
      Martin Heidegger and Cornelius Castoriadis both understood Greek tragedy in relation to a political rupture in the Athenian world, a rupture containing insights into the ontological grounding of human beings. This paper critically explores the role of 'the Greeks' in Heidegger and Castoriadis' political thought, drawing implications for the availability of the Greeks for any philosophical thinking. After his infamous Rectoral Address in 1933 Heidegger turned explicitly to Greek tragedy in his lectures at Freiburg (Introduction to Metaphysics and Hölderlin’s Hymn) to search for resources that might prove fundamental to instigating a new political era. However, he constructed a transcultural notion of 'the Greeks' at the expesnse of seeing tragedy as the development of a public institution that facilitated the criticism of the shared values and ideas of a particular historical epoch. Castoriadis, on the other hand, saw tragedy not simply as an awareness of the groundlessness of human society, but as the ceaseless questioning of what society is for. For Castoriadis, the Greeks are present to us in the same political rupture we experience today. In this paper I will argue that Castoriadis is more successful than Heidegger in developing an account of human creativity that holds open the problematic relation between the created world and human beings, though not without significant problems. I will conclude by suggesting that Euripides, a tragedian overlooked by Castoriadis, can supply some critical recouses for addressing them.
    • 'What ought we to think?' Castoriadis’ Response to the Question for Thinking

      Toula Nicolacopoulos; La Trobe University; George Vassilacopoulos; La Trobe University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2012-12-14)
      Castoriadis views the project of autonomy as central to both political action and philosophical thinking. Although he acknowledges that the political project has retreated, he insists on its thinkability as a viable project. We argue that this insistence gives rise to an unresolved tension. Specifically, Castoriadis’ substantive response to the question ‘what ought we to think?’, which he gives in terms of the pursuit of the philosophical project of autonomy, ultimately fails to recognise the unavoidable effect of the political project’s retreat on the thinker and this failure raises doubts as to whether Castoriadis’ own thinking has the potential to move beyond a merely journalistic style of critique, which he finds objectionable.
    • Where Times Meet

      Theodore R. Schatzki; University of Kentucky (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
      This essay pursues two goals: (1) to argue that two fundamental types of time—the time of objective reality and “the time of the soul”—meet in human activity and history and (2) to defend the legitimacy of calling a particular version of the second type a kind of time. The essay begins by criticizing Paul Ricoeur’s version of the claim that times of these two sorts meet in history. It then presents an account of human activity based on Heidegger’s Being and Time, according to which certain times of the two types—existential temporality and succession—meet in human activity. The legitimacy of calling existential temporality a kind of time is then defended via an expanded analysis of activity that examines where the two times meet there. The concluding section briefly considers a conception of historical time due to David Carr before showing why history is a broader domain encompassing human activity where the two times meet.