The Case for Anarchism, Pt. 1: Social Ontology | WSB #14

November 14, 2017

What does the Stanford Prison Experiment have to do with a case for anarchism?

In this episode, I argue for a certain view of the state. Piggybacking off Max Weber's definition of the state as a "human community that successfully claims the monopoly over the use of physical force within a given territory", I propose a similar but broader definition. Whereas Weber's definition is a political one, based on power analysis, my definition purports to be sociological, and therefore less morally charged than Weber's. Crucial to my take on the state is the concept of a Collective Interpretive Framework (CIF) - a shared lens through which we interpret reality. I argue that the state is a function of a particular CIF; in other words, it is a certain CIF we share that causes reality to manifest governments. This view of the state as a "self-fulfilling prophecy" and "shared hallucination" sets the stage for the case for anarchism coming in part 2.

Next week: The Case for Anarchism, Pt. 2: Necessity and Strategy

Visit http://williamnava.com for more info!

Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Sources:

"Stanford Prison Experiment" by Philip Zimbardo (website)
"Politics as a Vocation" by Max Weber
"Would You Press the Button?" by William Nava

00:0000:00

Against Certainty, Pt. 2: Logic | WSB #13

November 7, 2017

What about 2+2=4? Can we be 100% sure of that?

In this second part of my case against 100% certainty, I tackle claims to logical certainty. These include appeals to the three fundamental laws of logic: the Law of Excluded Middle, the Law of Non-Contradiction, and the Law of Identity. To call excluded middle into doubt, I discuss non-referring terms, vagueness, fuzzy logic, and Aristotle's problem of future contingents. For contradiction, the topics are legal contradictions, the Liar paradox, and Zeno's Arrow. To argue against certainty of the law of identity, I cover Theseus's ship, problems with time, problems of mereology, and the universe of symmetrical spheres. I then argue that even claims like "2+2=4" and "bachelors are bachelors" can't be fully foolproof. Finally, a quick barrage of skeptical concerns - concerns that, while they may not be enough to justify a self-defeating view like skepticism, are enough to block claims to 100% certainty.

Next week: The case for anarchism

Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

00:0000:00

Against Certainty, Pt. 1: Knowledge and Experience | WSB #12

October 31, 2017

How old are you? Are you sure? How sure? 100% sure?

I'm here to argue that there's is nothing we can be fully, 100% sure of. Yes, that includes the fact that there is nothing we can be fully, 100% sure of. That doesn't mean we can't know anything - I think we can. But knowledge comes in degrees of certainty, and nothing meets the requirement of full certainty: knowledge that it is logically or metaphysically impossible to be wrong about.

To establish my case, I explain the difference between knowledge and certainty. I then discuss regress issues about certainty of certainty of certainty, followed by the Agrippan trilemma and Quine and Plantinga's naturalized epistemology. Finally, I address claims to certainty of knowledge of immediate experience.

To address these, I argue that Descartes's famous cogito is flawed, that there is no such thing as the present, and that raw perceptual experience must go through a translation process before it can be understood and therefore known.

Mentioned during the episode: the interview w/ Professor Jim Slagle about Plantinga's naturalized epistemology, and the interview with Professor Graham Priest about the sorites paradox.

Next week: Against Certainty, Pt. 2: Logic

Visit http://williamnava.com for more info!

Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

 

00:0000:00

Brian Nuckols on Dreams, Pt. 3: Techniques | WSB #11

October 24, 2017

In this final installment of our interview, Brian Nuckols begins by explaining the metaphysical and social implications of dreams within dreams and recurring dreams. We then pass through a fascinating digression on how falsifiability applies to psychoanalysis and on the politics surrounding therapeutic modalities. We conclude with Brian's actionable suggestions for the curious listener, divided into three parts: remembering our dreams, interpreting our dreams, and lucid dreaming.

Next week: Arguments against philosophical certainty

Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Sources:
"An Overview of Lucid Dreaming Tech" by Brian Nuckols
"Kicking Anima Possession for Fun and Profit" by Brian Nuckols

00:0000:00

Brian Nuckols on Dreams, Pt. 2: Freud and Jung | WSB #10

October 17, 2017

In this second part of our interview, Brian Nuckols explains the Freudian and Jungian pictures of the psyche. While doing so, he digs into concepts such as depth-psychology, projection, shadow, and anima/animus. Among other issues, Brian explains how Freud's and Jung's outlooks differ, what role culture plays for Freud, and just what the ontological status of Jung's archetypes is.

Next week: Brian Nuckols discusses the metaphysics of dreams within dreams and recurring dreams, before offering practical tips for dream analysis and lucid dreaming

Visit http://williamnava.com for more info!

Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Sources:
Brian's map of the psyche
Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious by Carl Jung

 

00:0000:00

Brian Nuckols: Ontology of Dreams, Pt. 1 | WSB #9

October 10, 2017

What are dreams? A popular contemporary view says there isn't much to them - they must be something like the brain's defragmenting of the day's loose associations. Whatever the merits of this deflationary view, there's no question that they feel like much more - like events we undergo in some other realm, perhaps some different layer of reality. After a powerful personal experience with lucid dreaming, Brian Nuckols became fascinated by the many theories of the ontology of dreams. In this first part of this interview, Brian recounts how dream analysis and lucid dreaming affected his own life. He then dives deep into the interpretation of dreams held by the Runa - indigenous people living in the forests of Peru. Finally, he takes us through a survey of the history of major theories of the ontology of dreams - from the pre-Socratics all the way through to Nietzsche.

Next week: Brian Nuckols explains Freudian and Jungian theories of dreams and the psyche

Visit http://williamnava.com for more info!

Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Sources:
How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology beyond the Human by Eduardo Kohn

00:0000:00

Graham Priest: Sorites Paradox | WSB #8

October 3, 2017

The Sorites Paradox: one grain of sand is not a heap. Add one grain, you will still not have a heap. In fact, for any number of grains of sand you have, adding one more grain will never make the difference between non-heap and heap. This latter claim is called the tolerance principle, and it seems to be undeniably true of most predicates that are in some sense vague. But if this is true, then we can keep adding one grain, over and over again, and each time appeal to the tolerance principle to show that we still don't have a heap. The paradoxical conclusion is that by the time we've reached 10,000 grains of sand, we still don't have a heap. This problem, which at first appears trivial, is one of the toughest problems facing contemporary logic. In this interview, Professor Graham Priest explains the paradox, how it relates to other paradoxes (including the Liar, via the Inclosure Schema), what makes it so difficult, and gives an outline of his own dialetheist solution to the paradox. We conclude with some words about the continental/analytic split and the relationship between Buddhist ethics and radical leftist political philosophy.

Next week: Interview with Brian Nuckols about the ontology of dreams

Visit http://williamnava.com for more info!

Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

00:0000:00

Graham Priest: Unity and Regress | WSB#7

September 26, 2017

An interview with Graham Priest about Bradley's Regress and the Unity of the Proposition. Consider the statement "Socrates is sitting." It seems to be composed of an object - "Socrates" - and a predicate - "is sitting". But the statement isn't merely a list of an object and a predicate. It hangs together as a unified statement. What accounts for that unity? What makes the statement "Socrates is sitting" say something, as opposed to simply listing out a thing and a property? The obvious answer is that there's a property - instantiation - that connects the object and the predicate. But then a regress arises: how does the property of instantiation hang together with Socrates and the property of sitting? This problem isn't just about statements. As British idealist F.H. Bradley pointed out, this regress shows up with all property instantiations. After laying out the problem, professor Priest explains his own unique solution to it.

Next week: Interview with Graham Priest on the Sorites Paradox

Visit http://williamnava.com for more info!

Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Sources:
One: Being an Investigation into the Unity of Reality and of its Parts, including the Singular Object which is Nothingness by Graham Priest

00:0000:00

Kripke’s Naming and Necessity

September 19, 2017

A name, one might think, simply stands in for the thing it names. But, if it's really as simple as that, why is a statement like "Chris Wallace is Biggie Smalls" informative? Why isn't it a tautology, of the form A is A? Starting from this simple problem, Saul Kripke's 1980 book Naming and Necessity covers the history of theories of naming before proposing a radically new theory. The book revolutionized philosophy like few books have. Aside from challenging how we think about names and identity, it also clarified the notions of "a priori" and "necessary." Famously, Kripke showed why "Water is H2O" is actually a necessary fact, though not a priori. In this episode, I summarize Kripke's arguments and propose some criticisms to his theory.

Next week: Interview with Graham Priest on Bradley's Regress

Visit http://williamnava.com for more info!

Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Sources:

"The Causal Theory of Names" by Gareth Evans
Naming and Necessity by Saul Kripke

00:0000:00

Jim Slagle’s Epistemological Skyhook, Part 2: Skepticism, Theism, Mind

September 12, 2017

In part 2 of this interview with epistemologist Jim Slagle, we continue to discuss his Epistemological Skyhook: the argument that naturalism and determinism are epistemically self-defeating. Whereas for the first part we focused on the work of Alvin Plantinga, this time we take a broader view and discuss the roles of theism, mind, and the Agrippan trilemma in the argument; Thomas Nagel's version of the argument; the possibility of biting the skeptical bullet; an existentialist approach to skepticism; broadly "continental" versions of the argument; where the name "Skyhook" came from; and Slagle's own history with theism, Christianity, and religious experience.

Next week: The Ontology of the State

Visit http://williamnava.com for more info!

Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Sources: 

The Epistemological Skyhook: Determinism, Naturalism, and Self-Defeat by Jim Slagle

00:0000:00