Philosophical Disquisitions

A very interesting blog that examines current issues in philosophy.  The presentation of various philosophical arguments is clear and enlightening.  An excellent place for undergraduate students to see what analysis of a philosophical argument looks like.  

Uploading the Mind

I haven’t read this yet, but here is an interesting book that was just published.

Intelligence Unbound: The Future of Uploaded and Machine Minds (2014)

by Russell Blackford  (Editor), Damien Broderick (Editor)
   
It is about the possibility of uploading our minds into more robust physical systems such as an awesome robot with a built-in jet pack. (I don’t think jet packs are mentioned in the book, but that’s what I would want built in to my new body.)

Pre-Punishment

An interesting problem in ethics is the idea of punishing someone for a crime that the person will or will likely commit in the future.  This is called pre-punishment.  It is the idea at the root of the movie Minority Report based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.  However, this is not science fiction anymore as a recent New York Times article makes clear.  The American criminal justice system is already punishing people for future crimes.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/08/11/opinion/sentencing-by-the-numbers.html?referrer=&_r=3

Here is a link to a philosophy blog that discusses recent articles by philosophers on pre-punishment.

http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.ie/2012/07/the-ethics-of-prepunishment-part-one.html

This a very good philosophy blog, and I would recommend reading some more of the posts.

http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.ie/

First Honors Program Philosophy Course this Fall

The CFCC Honors Program is starting this fall with honors sections of courses, including a section of Phi 215: Philosophical Issues taught by me, Dr. Brandon.

Anyone interested in applying to the Honors Program should contact Myssie Mathis at mmathis@cfcc.edu or visit the website at http://cfcc.edu/honors/.

Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.5, either in high school (unweighted) or after 12 credit hours in college to be admitted to the Honors Program.

 

Book Series: A New History of Western Philosophy

Our very own CFCC library has this new series by Anthony Kenny on its shelves.  I’ve been reading some of Volume 3: The Rise of Modern Philosophy.

Here are the four volumes in the series:

Volume 1: Ancient Philosophy

Volume 2: Medieval Philosophy

Volume 3: The Rise of Modern Philosophy

Volume 4: Philosophy in the Modern World

This is an excellent series.  Each volume is divided into a section of  short biographies followed by a thematic treatment of philosophical topics such as knowledge, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy, God, etc.

The writing is excellent.  Professor Kenny does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the philosopher and the philosophies in concise and insightful prose.  Anyone interested in the history of philosophy should check out this series.

 

 

 

“Why Does the World Exist?” by Jim Holt

I picked up a copy of this book at the New Hanover County Library book sale.  It was $1.  It is also available at the CFCC library. It is easy to read and humorous.  If anyone is looking for an introduction to philosophical and scientific explanations to the existence of the world, then this is a good starting place.

Here’s a typical passage that captures the spirit of the book:

“From a philosophical perspective, Linde’s little story underscores the danger of assuming that the creative force behind our universe, if there is one, must correspond to the traditional image of God: omnipotent, omniscient, infinitely benevolent, and so on.  Even if the cause of our universe is an intelligent being, it could well be a painfully incompetent and fallible one, the kind that might flub the cosmogenic task by producing a thoroughly mediocre creation.  Of course, orthodox believers can always respond to a scenario like Linde’s by saying, ‘Okay, but who created the physicist hacker?’   Let’s hope it’s not hackers all the way up.”

 

 

Now Reading John Muir’s “My First Summer in the Sierra”

I am now reading John Muir’s, My First Summer in the Sierra. I picked it up by chance at Old Books on Front Street in Wilmington.  What a wonderful store. They have all kinds of old books, including some philosophy, as well as some new thrift editions from Dover press, and it’s all stuffed into a maze of old bookcases pressed up against the brick walls.  I picked up a new copy of Muir’s book for $7.95.  Here’s a delightful passage, and I’ve only read a bit of the book so far.

“June 7.– The sheep were sick last night, and many of them are still far from well, hardly able to leave camp, coughing, groaning, looking wretched and pitiful, all from eating the leaves of the blessed azalea.  So at least say the shepherd and the Don.  Having had but little grass since they left the plains, they are starving, and so eat anything green they can get.  ‘Sheep-men’ call azalea ‘sheep-poison,’ and wonder what the Creator was thinking about when he made it,–so desperately does sheep business blind and degrade, though supposed to have a refining influence in the good old days we read of.  The California sheepowner is in a haste to get rich, and often does, now that pasturage costs nothing, while the climate is so favorable, that no winter food supply, shelter-pens, or barns are required.   Therefore large flocks may be kept at slight expense, and large profits realized, the money invested doubling, it is claimed, every other year. This quickly acquired wealth usually creates desire for more.  Then indeed the wool is drawn close down over the poor fellow’s eyes, dimming or shutting out almost everything worth seeing.”

Muir has been hired to supervise a shepherd who is taking a flock of sheep high into the Sierra Nevada mountains in California to find summer pasturage.  I imagine that John Muir would not be pleased with what we are doing to nature these days.  We are polluting the air and filling the oceans with garbage all while deforesting the land.  It would seem that the wool has been pulled over our eyes.