Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Michael Burke, Stephen P. Schwartz and Slavoj Zizek

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17 ideas

1. Philosophy / C. History of Philosophy / 4. Later European Philosophy / c. Eighteenth century philosophy
Kant was the first philosopher [Zizek]
     Full Idea: From today's perspective it is in a way clear that Kant was the first philosopher. Pre-Kantian philosophy cannot think in his transcendental aspect.
     From: Slavoj Zizek (Conversations, with Glyn Daly [2004], §1)
     A reaction: It is probably equally plausible to say that Kant was the last philosopher. More thought-provoking than true.
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 3. Philosophy Defined
There is no dialogue in philosophy [Zizek]
     Full Idea: I think I truly became a philosopher when I realised that there is no dialogue in philosophy. Plato's dialogues are clearly fakes, with one guy talking most of the time. ...Philosophy as an interdisciplinary project is the ultimate nightmare.
     From: Slavoj Zizek (Conversations, with Glyn Daly [2004], §1)
     A reaction: This goes against all my prejudices in favour of teamwork and mutual criticism (e.g. Idea 1576), but I was a bit shaken by it, and have begun to wonder whether I must just face up to the solitary nature of the enterprise.
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / b. Philosophy as transcendent
Philosophy is transcendental questioning (not supporting science or constructing ontology) [Zizek]
     Full Idea: Philosophy can no longer play its traditional roles, giving foundations to science, or constructing general ontology. It should simply fulfil its task of transcendental questioning.
     From: Slavoj Zizek (Conversations, with Glyn Daly [2004], §2)
     A reaction: I remain unsure what is being recommended, unless it is for philosophy to start asking questions just at the point where everyone else gives up.
2. Reason / D. Definition / 1. Definitions
The new view is that "water" is a name, and has no definition [Schwartz,SP]
     Full Idea: Perhaps the modern view is best expressed as saying that "water" has no definition at all, at least in the traditional sense, and is a proper name of a specific substance.
     From: Stephen P. Schwartz (Intro to Naming,Necessity and Natural Kinds [1977], §III)
     A reaction: This assumes that proper names have no definitions, though I am not clear how we can grasp the name 'Aristotle' without some association of properties (human, for example) to go with it. We need a definition of 'definition'.
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / b. Names as descriptive
We refer to Thales successfully by name, even if all descriptions of him are false [Schwartz,SP]
     Full Idea: We can refer to Thales by using the name "Thales" even though perhaps the only description we can supply is false of him.
     From: Stephen P. Schwartz (Intro to Naming,Necessity and Natural Kinds [1977], §III)
     A reaction: It is not clear what we would be referring to if all of our descriptions (even 'Greek philosopher') were false. If an archaeologist finds just a scrap of stone with a name written on it, that is hardly a sufficient basis for successful reference.
The traditional theory of names says some of the descriptions must be correct [Schwartz,SP]
     Full Idea: The traditional theory of proper names entails that at least some combination of the things ordinarily believed of Aristotle are necessarily true of him.
     From: Stephen P. Schwartz (Intro to Naming,Necessity and Natural Kinds [1977], §III)
     A reaction: Searle endorses this traditional theory. Kripke and co. tried to dismiss it, but you can't. If all descriptions of Aristotle turned out to be false (it was actually the name of a Persian statue), our modern references would have been unsuccessful.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / e. Individuation by kind
Persistence conditions cannot contradict, so there must be a 'dominant sortal' [Burke,M, by Hawley]
     Full Idea: Burke says a single object cannot have incompatible persistence conditions, for this would entail that there are events in which the object would both survive and perish. He says one sortal 'dominates' the other (sweater dominates thread).
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Katherine Hawley - How Things Persist 5.3
     A reaction: This I take to be the most extreme version of sortal essentialism, and strikes me as incredibly gerrymandered and unacceptable. It is just too anthropocentric to count as genuine metaphysics. I may care more about the thread.
The 'dominant' of two coinciding sortals is the one that entails the widest range of properties [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Burke claims that the 'dominant' sortal is the one whose satisfaction entails possession of the widest range of properties. For example, the statue (unlike the lump of clay) also possesses aesthetic properties, and hence is dominant.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: [there are three papers by Burke on this; see all the quotations from Burke] Presumably one sortal could entail a single very important property, and the other sortal entail a huge range of trivial properties. What does being a 'thing' entail?
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / b. Unifying aggregates
'The rock' either refers to an object, or to a collection of parts, or to some stuff [Burke,M, by Wasserman]
     Full Idea: Burke distinguishes three different readings of 'the rock'. It can be a singular description denoting an object, or a plural description denoting all the little pieces of rock, or a mass description the relevant rocky stuff.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Ryan Wasserman - Material Constitution 5
     A reaction: Idea 16068 is an objection to the second reading. Only the first reading seems plausible, so we must just get over all the difficulties philosophers have unearthed about knowing exactly what an 'object' is. I offer you essentialism. Rocks have unity.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / b. Cat and its tail
Tib goes out of existence when the tail is lost, because Tib was never the 'cat' [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Burke argues that Tib (the whole cat apart from its tail) goes out of existence when the tail is lost. His essentialist principle is that if something is ever of a particular sort (such as 'cat') then it is always of that sort. Tib is not initially a cat.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: This I take to be a souped up version of Wiggins, and I just don't buy that identity conditions are decided by sortals, when it seems obvious that sortals are parasitic on identities.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / c. Statue and clay
Sculpting a lump of clay destroys one object, and replaces it with another one [Burke,M, by Wasserman]
     Full Idea: On Burke's view, the process of sculpting a lump of clay into a statue destroys one object (a mere lump of clay) and replaces it with another (a statue).
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Ryan Wasserman - Material Constitution 5
     A reaction: There is something right about this, but how many intermediate objects are created during the transition. It seems to make the notion of an object very conventional.
Burke says when two object coincide, one of them is destroyed in the process [Burke,M, by Hawley]
     Full Idea: Michael Burke argues that a sweater is identical with the thread that consitutes it, that both were created at the moment when they began to coincide, and that the original thread was destroyed in the process.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Katherine Hawley - How Things Persist 5.3
     A reaction: [Burke's ideas are spread over three articles] It is the thread which is destroyed, because the sweater is the 'dominant sortal' (which strikes me as a particularlyd desperate concept).
Maybe the clay becomes a different lump when it becomes a statue [Burke,M, by Koslicki]
     Full Idea: Burke has argued in a series of papers that the lump of clay which constitutes the statue is numerically distinct from the lump of clay which exists before or after the statue exists. The first is a statue, while the second is merely a lump of clay.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Kathrin Koslicki - The Structure of Objects
     A reaction: Koslicki objects that this introduces radically different persistence conditions from normal. It would mean that a pile of sugar was a different pile of sugar every time a grain moved (even slightly). You couldn't step into the same sugar twice.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / d. Coincident objects
Two entities can coincide as one, but only one of them (the dominant sortal) fixes persistence conditions [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Michael Burke has given an account that avoids distinguishing coinciding entities. ...The statue/lump satisfies both 'lump' and 'statue', but only the latter determines that object's persistence conditions, and so is that object's 'dominant sortal'.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: Presumably a lump on its own can have its own persistance conditions (as a 'lump'), but those would presumably be lost if you shaped it into a statue. Burke concedes that. Can of worms. Using a book as a doorstop...
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / d. Purpose of consciousness
Consciousness is a malfunction of evolution [Zizek]
     Full Idea: Consciousness is a kind of mistake, a malfunction of evolution, and out of this mistake a miracle occurred.
     From: Slavoj Zizek (Conversations, with Glyn Daly [2004], §2)
     A reaction: Rather hard to prove, but actually quite an uplifting thought. If consciousness only evolved so that we could navigate and defend ourselves, our 'higher' activities seem irrelevant. But Zizek's view means we can make them central. Nice.
18. Thought / C. Content / 8. Intension
The intension of "lemon" is the conjunction of properties associated with it [Schwartz,SP]
     Full Idea: The conjunction of properties associated with a term such as "lemon" is often called the intension of the term "lemon".
     From: Stephen P. Schwartz (Intro to Naming,Necessity and Natural Kinds [1977], §II)
     A reaction: The extension of "lemon" is the set of all lemons. At last, a clear explanation of the word 'intension'! The debate becomes clear - over whether the terms of a language are used in reference to ideas of properties (and substances?), or to external items.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / d. Altruism
Tolerance and love are strategies to avoid encountering our neighbours [Zizek]
     Full Idea: All this preaching about tolerance, love for one's neighbour and so on, are ultimately strategies to avoid encountering the neighbour.
     From: Slavoj Zizek (Conversations, with Glyn Daly [2004], §2)
     A reaction: I have begun to wonder whether some such motivation underlies the modern obsession with raising huge sums for charity.