Michael Hicks: What Is Thought? | Who Shaves the Barber? #48

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What is a thought? There are two ways to approach the problem, says philosopher Michael Hicks. One is as a question about introspective experience. The other – favored by Hicks – is as asking about the nature of interpersonal understanding. We do understand each other; and this is what constitutes the existence of thoughts. With this approach established, Hicks explains to what extent it does or doesn’t imply an “external” view of mind. We also compare this conception of thought to Gottlob Frege’s, and discuss whether it involves a commitment to a “third realm” of abstract objects.

Next week: Michael Hicks: Fiction-Directed Thought

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Topics discussed

0:20 – Introduction to Michael Hicks
2:42 – What are thoughts?
14:15 – Internal or extended thinking
23:46 – Meta-ontology
35:03 – Frege and abstract objects

Sources

Michael Hicks (homepage)
The Thought” (Gottlob Frege)
The Extended Mind” (Andy Clark, David Chalmers)…

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Kit Fine: Metaphysical Ground | Who Shaves the Barber? #46

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Some things are true in virtue of other things. For example, the fact that it is either raining or snowing today is true in virtue of the fact that it is raining today (if, indeed, it is). Or consider another example, put in different terms: the fact that my cat Irene exists is sufficient to account for the fact that at least one cat exists. We might then ask: what is this being in virtue of, or accounting for?

Philosophers call this metaphysical ground. Thus, the existence of my cat Irene grounds the fact that at least one cat exists. But how does this grounding relation work? How is it related to logical entailment? To cause? To essence? Is it possible for there to be partial grounding? Can a fact ground itself? If not, does a vicious regress emerge? What is the role of ground in metaphysics? In this interview, metaphysician Kit Fine covers these questions and more before zeroing in on a logical puzzle of ground, related to the paradoxes of self-reference such as the Liar.

Next week: Left Market Anarchism

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Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.
Click here for the full list of episodes!

Topics discussed

0:20 – Intro to Kit Fine
2:50 – Vagueness
6:44 – What is ground?
10:40 – Realism
16:15 – Two notions of necessary ground
19:10 – Relevance and ground
24:35 – Ground and philosophy, cause and science
28:00 – Ground and ontological reduction
35:18 – Regress, circularity, and weak ground
44:55 – Types of ground and the “source” of logic
52:50 – Ground of ground
1:03:02 – Essence and ground
1:09:10 – A puzzle of ground

Sources

Kit Fine (homepage)
Vagueness, truth, and logic” (Kit Fine)
A Guide to Ground” (Kit Fine)
Some Puzzles of Ground” (Kit Fine)…

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Nicolas Langlitz: Psychedelics and Philosophy | Who Shaves the Barber? #45

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Psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and ayahuasca, do much more than generate sensory hallucinations. Users often come away with a sense of having gained deep insight into the nature of reality – even if what that insight is, and what is so special about it, can be hard to communicate. Anthropologist Nicolas Langlitz associates it with the “perennial philosophy” – an old idea, popularized by Aldous Huxley, that all world religions communicate the same basic truth. Years after writing the book The Perennial Philosophy, Huxley tried mescaline and LSD and became convinced that psychedelics provide a shortcut to the kinds of mystical experiences that would put us in touch with that basic reality – what he called the “world mind”. Langlitz is skeptical that psychedelics really do communicate some kind of metaphysical truth. In this interview, we discuss what psychedelics do reveal, if anything, and what the relationship is between experience and knowledge.

Next week: Kit Fine: Metaphysical Ground

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Topics discussed

0:20 – Intro to Nicolas Langlitz
1:05 – Anthropology and philosophy
10:06 – Nick’s research on psychedelics
22:23 – Perennial philosophy (Huxley)
29:20 – Indescribable?
33:09 – Materialism and mysticism
41:14 – Diversity v. unity of psychedelic experience
47:40 – Validity and expression of the psychedelic experience
59:50 – Place of psychedelics in society

Sources

Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research since the Decade of the Brain (Langlitz)
Is There a Place of Psychedelics in Philosophy?: Fieldwork in Neuro- and Perennial Philosophy” (Langlitz)
Heaven and Hell (Huxley)
The Doors of Perception (Huxley)…

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