Sunday, January 29, 2012

Recent reads part 9: Hellblazer, Damned and Riddled with Life

[Image culled from Vertigo's blog: The link to the interview with Milligan is here.]

Hellblazer: Suicide bridge by Peter Milligan and Simon Bisley
Damned by Chuck Palahniuk
Riddled with life by Marlene Zuk

Coincidentally, the first two selections deal with damnation and dealing with the past.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Citizen Philosophers:Teaching Justice in Brazil by Carlos Fraenkel

Got to this article via Brian Leiter's site. It's from the Boston Review. The article is here. The image is from the article. Here are some interesting passages from the article:

"In 1971 the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985 eliminated philosophy from high schools. Teachers, professors in departments of education, and political activists championed its return, while most academic philosophers were either indifferent or suspicious. The dictatorship seems to have understood philosophy’s potential to create engaged citizens; it replaced philosophy with a course on Moral and Civic Education and one on Brazil’s Social and Political Organization ('to inculcate good manners and patriotic values and to justify the political order of the generals,'one UFBA colleague recalls from his high school days)."

 "But can philosophy really become part of ordinary life? Wasn’t Socrates executed for trying? Athenians didn’t thank him for guiding them to the examined life, but instead accused him of spreading moral corruption and atheism. Plato concurs: Socrates failed because most citizens just aren’t philosophers in his view. To make them question the beliefs and customs they were brought up in isn’t useful because they can’t replace them with examined ones. So Socrates ended up pushing them into nihilism. To build politics on a foundation of philosophy, Plato concludes, doesn’t mean turning all citizens into philosophers, but putting true philosophers in charge of the city—like parents in charge of children. I wonder, though, why Plato didn’t consider the alternative: If citizens had been trained in dialectic debate from early on—say, starting in high school—might they have reacted differently to Socrates? Perhaps the Brazilian experiment will tell."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Allan Gregg in Conversation: "American Psycho" author Bret Easton Ellis on "Glamorama".

I've read both books. The interview with Bret Easton Ellis is here. Ellis uses many devices that many readers might not be used to. For these readers, the interview may help clear it up. 

The very idea of Filipino philosophy final

[The first part is here. The second part is here. This third installment pretty much completes the draft of the paper I wrote. The full title of this draft was "The very idea of Filipino philosophy in Mercado: Philosophy or having deep thoughts about the world?". ]

I have one further problem with method. Mercado’s (1985: 66-7) “comparative oriental philosophy” seemingly depends on a seemingly unacknowledged debt to the later Wittgenstein by talking of “family resemblance” and that “… the meaning of a word depends upon its usage.” Putting it charitably, Mercado’s “comparative oriental philosophy” is just about the comparison of ideas. Also “comparative oriental philosophy” depends very little on the later Wittgenstein.  “Family resemblance” and “..the meaning of a word depends on its usage” appear to be notions just mentioned and with no apparent significance. Mercado (1985: 71-2) claims that Filipino philosophy  is non-dualistic by only comparing and contrasting it to Chinese philosophy. I map out his comparison as:
Similarities of Filipino and Chinese
1. Harmony with oneself, others, with nature and with the Other world.

Differences of Filipino and Chinese
1. Yin and Yang are only in the Chinese.
2. In Confucian thought, males are prioritized.
3. In Filipino thought, there is more gender equality.
4. The Chinese have the Five Agents or Elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth).
5. Item number 4 is absent in Filipino.
From this comparison, Mercado (1985: 72) imputes philosophical importance by writing that doing comparative oriental philosophy is already fruitful. That is, by comparing one might see what is unique in Filipino philosophy. However, I do not see a need to even call or consider such product as “comparative oriental philosophy.” Instead, one may speak here of a comparing and contrasting ideas, but its uniqueness and importance is lacking. One may compare and contrast an apple and an orange, and myself liking oranges more, would impute importance to what makes oranges more unique than apples.
            Perhaps more significantly since Mercado’s method are Western, if one follows his claim that the adoption of Western models of understanding is disastrous9 then how can his own approach to his conception of Filipino philosophy not be disastrous? Unless Mercado redefines his conception of Filipino philosophy, then it follows that this also leads to disaster. Of course, what Mercado means by “disaster” is still unclear.

            I believe that Leonardo Mercado, in one way or the other, has contributed to the discussions in philosophy, especially discussions on Filipino philosophy. I can also say that Mercado is a philosopher whatever problems in method he may have had that I tried to show in the previous section. However, following his conception of Filipino philosophy as diwa, Mercado cannot be a Filipino philosopher. Mercado would be at most a personality in philosophy and this is something that is counterintuitive to me.
            The methods Mercado uses and his justification for such methods only buttress the idea that such belong in the social sciences. It is in the social sciences like anthropology and sociology that one may be said to interpret and validate anthropological and sociological data. While philosophers may give insights to such data, it is not the job of the philosopher to validate sociological data so as to aid in prediction and control.
            One of Mercado’s (1985: 61) mysterious claims that “various development attempts [using Western methods10]--has mostly been disastrous”, if correct would also apply to him. Mercado’s methods are Western, especially phenomenology (phenomenology of behavior), pointless comparison with trite assertions seemingly culled out of context from the later Wittgenstein (comparative oriental philosophy), and “metalinguistic analysis”. 
Maybe it is true that many different kinds of individuals have “deep thoughts about the world.” But they are not all thought up of by philosophers. One finds novelists and poets in literature with deep thoughts. One finds scientists in the social and natural sciences with deep thoughts. What “deep thoughts” mean I have left unanswered. Different disciplines have ways of determining whether that “depth of thought” has any application or whether it is applicable to such a discipline. Mercado may leave us with the idea that Filipinos have “deep thoughts” about the world but not Filipino philosophy as he conceives of it.

[Here's a partial reference list on Mercado:
Mercado, Leonardo.1974. Elements of Filipino philosophy. Tacloban City: Divine Word Publications.
________. 1977. Applied Filipino philosophy. Tacloban City: Divine Word Publications.
________. 1985. A synthesis of Filipino thought. Karunungan 2
________. 1992. Kagandahan: Filipino thought on beauty, truth and good. Karunungan 9
________. N.d. Synthesis.]]

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Speakers for Turing 2012

Turing 2012: International Conference on Philosophy, Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science
March 27 to 28, 2012
De La Salle University-Manila, Philippines

Conference speakers

• H.E. Ambassador Stephen Lillie, British Embassy Manila
• David Chalmers, Australian National University
• Arnulfo Azcarraga, De La Salle University-Manila
• Catherine Pelachaud, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
• Napoleon Mabaquiao, Jr., De La Salle University-Manila
• Mette Kristine Hansen, University of Bergen
• Kelly Trogdon, Lingnan University
• Ben Blumson, National University of Singapore
• Robin Zebrowski, Beloit College

More details are at The Philosophy Department of De La Salle University Manila's site is

Saturday, January 7, 2012

What I'm currently reading: Marlene Zuk and Chuck Palahniuk.

Marlene Zuk's page is here. I read these two after all the academic and work-related stuff.

Fifteen Books

One of those Facebook activities sent by a friend. Did this some time ago. Thought about posting it after going over the websites I visit (to read posts, reply etc.).

The rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

1. The Last Battle (from Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis
2. The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
4. Dracula by Bram Stoker
5. Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
6. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
7. The Wounded Land  (from the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant) by Stephen R. Donaldson
8. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
10. On Certainty by Ludwig Wittgenstein
11. A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir
12. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
13. The Little Prince by Antoine St. Exupery
14. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature by Richard Rorty
15. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

Wittgenstein's On Certainty is not really a "book," however.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New York Times Remembers Michael Dummett

The article is here. More later.
Apart from realism and antirealism, our discussions touched on many topics, including the importance of fighting racism, an area in which Michael was exemplary, not just as a thinker, but as a human being. In addition to our philosophical conversations, Michael’s loving nature, and his total informality are what I best remember. Michael Dummett cared about ideas, he cared about people, he cared about society, and he rightly connected caring about any one of the three and caring about the other two.
Hilary Putnam, professor emeritus, Harvard University

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Turing 2012: The life and works of Alan Turing


 March 2012, De La Salle University-Manila's Department of Philosophy, in cooperation with the College of Liberal Arts, will host Turing 2012, an event that commemorates the centenary birth anniversary of English logician, mathematician, and computer scientist Alan Turing. This week-long event will be from March 26 to 30, 2012. A two-day international conference on Turing's contributions in several disciplines will be its highlight. 

Turing 2012 is part of the global effort spearheaded by the Turing Centenary Advisory Committee in celebrating the Alan Turing Year.

Feminist Pragmatism in Place Colloquium

[via Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy Facebook group]

*Feminist Pragmatism in Place Colloquium*
*The University of Dayton*
*October 19-20, 2012 *

This colloquium will address feminist pragmatist approaches to place, broadly construed, including natural and built environments, and spaces of exclusion and belonging in historical and contemporary contexts.

*Plenary Speakers:*

Lisa Heldke, author of *Exotic Appetites: Ruminations of a Food Adventurer* and
Professor of Philosophy at Gustavus Adolphus College, will speak on "Urban
Farmers and Rural Cosmopolitans? Pragmatist Musings on Contemporary Food

Louise W. Knight, author of *Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy* and *Jane Addams: Spirit in Action,* Visiting Scholar, Northwestern University Gender Studies Program and School of Communication, will speak on "Reading Addams's Rhetoric on Social Justice"

*Due Date: May 28, 2012.* *Papers will be blind reviewed. Please submit two files, one with the paper title, your name, and email address, and the other with the full paper of no more than 3500 words of text, without your name or other identifying information. Send to Cynthia King (**).

For more information please contact the colloquium organizers, Denise James (**) and Marilyn Fischer *(*), of the Department of Philosophy, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio.