A Philosopher in the Age of Science

Malcom Nicholson writes a hagiography of Hilary Putnam at The Prospect.

An interesting article, but once again very puffed up while demeaning philosophers. Is the only way we Americans celebrate intellectuals and philosophy to champion them as simple, common men before we launch into their brainyness? (Sorry, I’ve read far too many articles doing this today, but think about it.) I am waiting for journalists and the public to demand such easy-going clarity of science publications, since they demand it of philosophers.

Is Fairness Universal?

Joe Henrich’s experiement in behavior and economics: are notions of fairness universal?Pssssst. I think this has been fluffed up a bit … or are economist and social scientists really that blind? I don’t think so: did the reporter drink the Kool-Aid?

On Black Privilege

Black privilege is something rarely talked about.

Perhaps because whatever “black” means, any group that may be the referent of the term is not likely to be characterized as “privileged.” This post is not really about black privilege, but really about you, dear reader. Did you see or read my earlier post entitled “On White Privilege.” Think about your reactions *as you reacted*, e.g.; try reach back and remember a detailed passive memory and try not to rethink the idea. How did you react to the title and the idea it likely evoked? Now, remember how you reacted to the title “On Black Privilege.” Did you react the same? If yes, why? If not, why?

The point of this exercise to perform a self-exploration of our character, our unconscious emotive responses, as independently of conscious thought as we can. Do this often enough and become skilled enough at distancing noetic thought from memory, and you gain an invaluable tool for transforming your own character. Also, for fellow philosophers, you’ve begun training in one of the skills critical for performing phenomenology.

Truly understanding some philosophy requires gaining practical skills; while this is rare in the west, it is far more common in the east. This is also one reason why I stress the importance of philosophical traditions: ideas are not separate from the cognitive and non-cognitive practices that instantiate them.