Quote of the Week: David Lewis on Possible Worlds

“As the realm of sets is for mathematicians, so logical space is a paradise for philosophers. We have only to believe in the vast realm of possibilia, and there we find what we need to advance our endeavours” – David Lewis, On the Plurality of Worlds, p. 4

I don’t know anyone else who can make modal realism – the idea that all possible worlds are equally real – sound so enticing as David Lewis. All our problems dissolve and we live in paradise if we just swallow this one premise! What seemed utterly absurd a second ago becomes tempting upon reading Lewis.

Beside attesting to Lewis’ qualities as a used-car salesman, the quote reveals features of Lewis’ conception of philosophy. It is a philosophy which invites the comparison with mathematics, in which formal logic and metaphysical debates about the reality of possible worlds go hand in hand. Paradise lies in construncting the simplest and most powerful theory describing all we ever want to describe.



Quote of the Week: Dewey on Social Judgements

The evils in current social judgments of ends and policies arise […] from importations of judgments of value from outside inquiry. The evils spring from the fact that the values employed are not determined in and by the process of inquiry […].

-John Dewey, Late Works Volume 12, p. 496

The quote illustrates Dewey’s emphasis on the epistemic endeavour of inquiry. The values which lead our social judgements should arise out of this endeavour, at least as far as Dewey is concerned.

The quote also reveals how moralising Dewey can be concerning social judgments. He does not merely accuse the judgements of being bad, he accuses them of being evil. I find this moralising aspect of his theory the hardest to justify. In the end, I do not see how he can defend it without contradicting himself or accepting a fundamental revision to this theory.

If you want, you can add here the usual paragraph about defending the value of inquiry/science/truth in the age of alternative facts.

Dennett’s FBtBaB: Chapter Six

I have recently started reading Dennett’s From Bacteria to Bach and Back. The area of research covered in this book is mostly foreign territory, but I am currently on a visit to Tufts and did not want to miss the opportunity to learn from one of its best known thinkers. I even used the opportunity to contribute comments on the book to an online forum for Tufts students. Continue reading “Dennett’s FBtBaB: Chapter Six”

Quote of the Week: Stirner on Egoism

Max Stirner
Max Stirner

“Egoistisch ist es, keiner Sache einen eigenen oder »absoluten« Wert beizulegen, sondern ihren Wert in Mir zu suchen.”

Max Stirner. Der Einzige und sein Eigentum. Verlag Karl Alber. Freiburg/München 2009 [1844]. page 176.

“To be egoistic is not to attribute to a thing its own or »absolute« value, but rather to look for the value in Myself.” (My translation)

The definition of being egoistic offered by the great egoist Max Stirner shows the ambiguity of his position. The ambiguity can be seen when one asks, what it means to look for the value in Myself. There are at least two possible interpretations:

  1. The value the things seems to have is only a projection by Myself.
  2. The value of the thing derives from Myself.

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: Stirner on Egoism”