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About

I am/was a philosopher of science and epistemologist, specializing in the problem of induction and the problem of the criterion. Just attempting to “loosen” or “untie” the world knot(s) as best I can, to misuse a metaphor by Schopenhauer.

I’m taking a break from working towards a Ph.D. To help keep my mind nimble, I help moderate the philosophy of science sub-reddit; read Calvino, Borges, & Weber (not exclusively); and listen to music.

I am a Critical Rationalist, or a Comprehensively Critical Rationalist, depending on the prevailing winds.

Currently anonymous. I will not post my CV.

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  1. I’m thrilled to see a philosopher of science who takes psychoanalysis seriously. (We’ve come so far from the orthodox Freudianism that so irked Popper, no?)

    You might be interested in this: http://www.scribd.com/doc/25923004/Jacques-Lacan-Science-and-Truth
    (Though I confess I’ve barely skimmed it.)

    By the way, do you have any tips for a Continental who wants to start reading Wittgenstein?

    • I’m thrilled to see a philosopher of science who takes psychoanalysis seriously.

      Thank you? I didn’t realize I took psychoanalysis seriously …

      I’ll have to read Lacan when I get the chance. Thank you for the recommendation.

      And tips for starting on Wittgenstein? Not really. There’s a couple basic intro books available, but I don’t know if you’ll get anything lasting from them; however, the biography by W.W. Bartley is worth a read, as is Ray Monk’s. Is there a reason you want to start on Wittgenstein?

      • I’m a particular fan of Wittgenstein. The way that I’ve seen as a good approach is to read Saul Kripke’s Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language as an intro text to Philosophical Investigations. It’s an interpretation that helps clarify some portions of Wittgenstein’s text and the private language arguments. And true to Kripke’s usual style, it’s short and easy to read. But, as with all philosophy, I don’t entirely buy into his interpretation, but it’s a good launching pad. Then of course PI followed by the Blue and Brown books provides a great comprehensive guide to grasping Wittgenstein.

        I’ve also found the Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein to be particularly helpful in this case. I’m not always a fan of their compilations, but in this case I thought it was comprehensive. Martha Gibson’s From Naming to Saying is also a good book on Wittgensteinian philosophy of language. There’s one overview, in chapter 3 I believe, that really cuts to the meat of what Wittgenstein is saying in the Tractatus.

        Hope that helps.

        • You might want to reply or contact Graham Joncas directly. It’s funny — I have all the books you recommend but Gibson’s. ‘Kripkenstein’ is (at least I think that’s what Kripke’s Wittgenstein is usually called) is interesting in-itself, but I’m not a huge fan of Wittgenstein’s overarching goals, especially in his later work. I, too, liked the Cambridge Companion far more than their other collections, but in my opinion their work is still lackluster in parts even in that volume.

  2. I’d consider any analytic philosopher who would borrow ideas from Jung (the ‘shadow’, you recall) as taking psychoanalysis somewhat seriously. You may, however, be referring to how Freud forbade Jung to call his work ‘psychoanalysis’, hence Jungian psychoanalysis is technically named ‘depth psychology’, but I find that the boundaries are fuzzy enough that most people consider Jung as a psychoanalyst, or will at least not fuss if that label is applied to him.

    As for why I’d like to read Wittgenstein, other than his strong influence on analytic philosophy, more pertinent reasons include his influence on Piero Sraffa (reciprocal, in this case) and Pierre Bourdieu. Gilles Deleuze was influenced by him as well, but he’s further down on my ‘To Read’ list than the former two.

    • Graham, I apologize for the belated response–I take psychoanalysis only insofar that it provides a different prism with which to view the world, but I’m only superficial when it comes to Freud and Jung.

      I apologize again for my unfamiliarity with Sraffa, Bourdieu, and Deleuze: I stay far away from most Continental philosophers, since I feel upon reflection, either their ideas are mundane (but expressed in convoluted language) or absurd. I probably have lost out on their real insights (if there is any to be gleaned) by my ignorance!

      … I did enjoy “A Thousand Plateaus,” though, but if you asked me what I read, I’d only be able to shrug. You should be able to find some very cheap copies of Wittgenstein’s later works (the Blue and Brown books are a must, as is Philosophical Investigations), but I heartily enjoyed “Denkbewegungen: Tagebücher 1930-1932/1936-1937,” of what I understood–my German is piss-poor at the moment. Wittgenstein was a genius, more often than not mistaken, but still worth reading.

      Best of luck in the future, and if you need any help with suggestions, just drop a line, OK?

  3. Great blog!

    I intend to follow it

    • Thank you. I’m sure there’s plenty of elementary errors, spelling mistakes, an so on, so if you see any, it would help to leave a comment.

  4. Are you working toward a philosophy Ph.D.?

    How did you become a critical rationalist?

    • Yes, I am, but it’s progressing slowly.

      I became a critical rationalist after I took a class taught by a student of Popper. He isn’t well-known, and to my knowledge only has one article published (it’s, if I remember correctly, on pedagogy). After several years attempting to criticize what I read in Popper, Bartley, Miller, et al., I just … changed my mind.

      • I understand there are few people in philosophy who are appreciate critical rationalism and many seem hostile. How does that work for you?

        Once you made the metacontextual shift to critical rationalism, so to speak, you are doing a whole different kind of philosophy to everyone else. However, while you understand what kind of philosophy they are doing, that understanding is not mutual. How do you write papers and make arguments in such an environment?

        • Sadly, I kept my head down. I’m currently attempting to get into a program that has some CR tendencies, though. CR isn’t dead, it’s just a sleeping giant.

          The best way I could write papers is to play the justificationist game, but take the skeptical position. Fogelin, for instance, in his “Pyrrhonian Reflections on Knowledge and Justification” takes justification to town. Jonathan Schaffer, too, has written some impressive arguments against justification. Rowbottom is relatively young and an open CCR fan, and has written a great book advancing Popper and Bartley and a number of papers arguing for CR + Van Fraassen’s Constructive Empiricism.

  5. I couldn’t find any contact info so I’m using a comment. I wanted to tell you about David Deutsch’s new book _The Beginning of Infinity_ which was published in the US today.

    It is the best philosophy book ever written.

    For more information, here’s my interview with David Deutsch and book review

    http://beginningofinfinity.com/interview
    http://beginningofinfinity.com/review

    I also wanted to invite you to the email discussion list I am making for it. Of course you can be anonymous there.

    To join, visit: http://beginningofinfinity.com/discussion

    • Elliot,

      I don’t think anything can surpass Sextus Empricus’s “Outlines of Phyyrhonism,” but I’ll check out Deutsch’s book. I enjoyed his “The Fabric of Reality” immensely.

      Thank you for the invitation and the transcripts of the interview and book review.

  6. If you ever feel desperate for some intelligent videogame criticism, then check out my latest writing project: http://ambientchallenge.blogspot.com/

    Here is the introduction: http://ambientchallenge.blogspot.com/2011/10/introduction.html

    • Lee,

      What a coincidence — I’ll be starting a brief series on film criticism (specifically sci-fi/horror films) for Halloween. Can’t wait to read your blog!

      • Where is the film criticism I’ve been waiting for, or were you talking about next Halloween?

        My videogame criticism blog is going surprisingly well. I’m getting more hits, links, and comments than I had expected. Maybe I can monetise this gig.

        • I’ve written three articles, but I don’t think they’re suitable for posting. Sorry. I’ve been reading your blog — it’s good!

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