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Philosophies, Volume 8, Issue 1 (February 2023) – 15 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The establishment of knowledge is challenging, since humans often make mistakes and certainty can never be secured. How then does science work? This topic evokes an image of an artefact bearing a script that was last used in 135 CE, but was commonly used prior to 500 BCE. We interpret this artefact as a physical mnemonic of an ancient view of knowledge (predating the Hellenic period), illuminated by a close discussion of the semantic development of the idea of “entropy” over the last 150 years. We conclude that how we know things is comparable for both poets and physicists. Mathematics is required to expose logical consequences, but words are required to illuminate meaning. Although poets relish ambiguity where scientists seek to minimise it, the very project of science depends on the understanding of the meaning of the world around us. In the end, reality is elusive. View this paper
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14 pages, 2696 KiB  
Article
Ngā Pūrakau No Ngā Rākau: Stories from Trees
by Nova Paul and Tessa Laird
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010015 - 15 Feb 2023
Viewed by 2285
Abstract
Within te ao Māori—the Māori world view—whakapapa, or genealogical connections, link together every being. Relationships with trees are traced through ancestral bonds that are recited through storytelling. Trees are tūpuna, elders, who hold knowledge, reflected in the etymology of rākāu (tree) being the [...] Read more.
Within te ao Māori—the Māori world view—whakapapa, or genealogical connections, link together every being. Relationships with trees are traced through ancestral bonds that are recited through storytelling. Trees are tūpuna, elders, who hold knowledge, reflected in the etymology of rākāu (tree) being the pū (base) of pūrākau (stories). The Atua Tāne Mahuta, sought ngā kete o te wānanga, the three baskets of knowledge. The wānanga is a place of learning and was brought into being by the god of trees, forests, and birds. Ngāpuhi artist Nova Paul’s experimental films are made with kaupapa Māori values. Her most recent films Rākau and Hawaiki, both 2022, reflect on lessons from trees, the latter premiering at the Sundance Film Festival 2023. These films are not so much about trees as by trees. Nova has made film developer from foliage of the trees that are filmed so that, for example, the riverside pōhutukawa tree is processed in a bath of pōhutukawa chlorophyl developer. For Nova, this process reveals not only an image but the mauri (life force) of the tree through the taking and then the making of her tree films. The films produced are more like an arboreal self-portrait: trees speaking directly through an embodied medium. If trees process sunlight to produce chlorophyl, here, chlorophyl produces images of light in order to communicate messages across species. The tohunga Reverend Māori Marsden wrote that photographic technologies might provide spiritual insight into perceiving life force: “Those with the powers and insight and perceptions (Matakite), perceived mauri as an aura of light and energy radiating from all animate life. It is now possible to photograph the mauri in living things.” In previous films, Nova experimented with colour-separation techniques to pull apart the fabric of time and space, which Tessa wrote about for the Third Text online forum “Decolonising Colour?” That article was translated into Spanish for the book Pensamientos Migrantes: Intersecciones cinematográficas by the Colombian experimental film publishers Hambre Cine (2020). Continuing with a conversation about the ways in which experimental film practices can open up a space for decolonial thought and Indigenous epistemologies, Nova and Tessa co-write this paper in order to share the pūrākau (stories) arising from the images of these rākāu (trees), in which photosynthesis, filmmaking, and spirit, are intertwined, and where the mauri (life force) is revealed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thinking Cinema—With Plants)
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7 pages, 222 KiB  
Essay
Physical Philosophy: Martial Arts as Embodied Wisdom
by Jason Holt
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010014 - 14 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3216
Abstract
While defining martial arts is not prerequisite to philosophizing about them, such a definition is desirable, helping us resolve disputes about the status of hard cases. At one extreme, Martínková and Parry argue that martial arts are distinguished from both close combat (as [...] Read more.
While defining martial arts is not prerequisite to philosophizing about them, such a definition is desirable, helping us resolve disputes about the status of hard cases. At one extreme, Martínková and Parry argue that martial arts are distinguished from both close combat (as unsystematic) and combat sports (as competitive), and from warrior arts (as lethal) and martial paths (as spiritual). At the other extreme, mixed martial arts pundits and Bruce Lee speak of combat sports generally as martial arts. I argue that the fine-grained taxonomy proposed by Martínková and Parry can be usefully supplemented by a broader definition, specifically the following: martial arts are systematic fighting styles and practices as ways of embodying wisdom. A possible difficulty here is that such views face the charge of overemphasizing the “philosophical” aspect of martial arts. My definition can, however, avoid this apparent problem. If martial arts essentially aim to embody wisdom, this applies no less to the (strategic) practical wisdom of The Art of War than to the (ethical) practical wisdom of the Tao Te Ching. In an extended sense, then, any systematic fighting style, including combat sports, may count as a martial art insofar as it embodies wisdom by improving practical fighting skills. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Philosophy and Science of Martial Arts)
13 pages, 985 KiB  
Article
Semantic Analysis of the Philosophical Discourse of the Transhumanism Concept in the Works of Russian Scholars
by Alexandr Rozhkov, Alena Gura and Margarita Arutyunyan
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010013 - 08 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1627
Abstract
The purpose of this research paper is to semantically analyze the concept of transhumanism in the publications of Russian scientists, as well as to study the influence of the idea of transhumanism as the leading philosophy of human improvement on the global differentiation [...] Read more.
The purpose of this research paper is to semantically analyze the concept of transhumanism in the publications of Russian scientists, as well as to study the influence of the idea of transhumanism as the leading philosophy of human improvement on the global differentiation of the world through a comparative analysis of the level of life expectancy in the Russian Federation, the USA, and China. Findings indicate that, in general, when setting the right goals based on the Russian cosmism and transhumanism concepts can and should bring certain positive benefits to humanity. First of all, this involves treatment of incurable and complex diseases and enhancement of human capabilities in space expansion. The scientific contribution and practical significance of the research lie in the development of three exponential models of life expectancy growth in accordance with the indicator of economic development that is based on the gross domestic product per capita level. Full article
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15 pages, 311 KiB  
Article
Bensaïd’s Jeanne: Strategic Mythopoesis for Difficult Times
by Bryan Smyth
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010012 - 31 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1479
Abstract
In this essay, I consider the significance of Daniel Bensaïd’s work on Jeanne d’Arc with regard to dealing with the “difficult times” in which we live. (1) I first consider some of the background in early critical theory in order to show that [...] Read more.
In this essay, I consider the significance of Daniel Bensaïd’s work on Jeanne d’Arc with regard to dealing with the “difficult times” in which we live. (1) I first consider some of the background in early critical theory in order to show that Bensaïd’s aim to recover Benjamin’s notion of a “weak messianic power” requires following through with Horkheimer and Adorno’s critique of enlightenment, and that this implies a critical rehabilitation of myth and mythopoesis. (2) Approaching Bensaïd’s account of Jeanne in the light of Blumenberg’s notion of “work on myth”, I show how he portrays her in a way that establishes a concrete connection between the discordant temporalities of contingency and necessity, but that this is best understood in the radically immanent terms of prereflective embodied action as based on the corporeal sedimentation of an intercorporeal ethical habitus. Bensaïd’s account of Jeanne thus offers a new lens of historical perception that can help reveal otherwise hidden possibilities for transformative historical agency in embodied coexistence today. (3) By way of conclusion, I briefly consider the deeper meaning and significance of this in terms of offering a non-Promethean mythico-political framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current French Philosophy in Difficult Times)
16 pages, 1262 KiB  
Article
Civic Solidarity and Public Health Ethics
by Oriol Farrés Juste
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010011 - 18 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2994
Abstract
Is solidarity in bioethics or public health ethics necessary? If so, why? Is there room for a principle of obligatory solidarity in bioethics or in public health ethics? In the first part of this paper, I assess the meaning of the value of [...] Read more.
Is solidarity in bioethics or public health ethics necessary? If so, why? Is there room for a principle of obligatory solidarity in bioethics or in public health ethics? In the first part of this paper, I assess the meaning of the value of solidarity in ethics. In the second part, I propose insights into the republican interpretation of solidarity, or, more correctly, “civic” solidarity. This is crucial to be able to distinguish between different sources of, and justifications for, solidarity, some legitimate and some not legitimate. In the third part of the paper, I apply the republican concept of civic solidarity to the field of bioethics and public health ethics. This is intended to show how civic republicanism can correct both liberal deficiencies and communitarian excesses in bioethics. Civic solidarity is essential to finding this middle way. It is a key concept, considering the challenges that we face as citizens, health professionals and patients. Finally, the paper concludes with a summary and a plan for further research in this area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Solidarity in Bioethics)
4 pages, 255 KiB  
Editorial
Acknowledgment to the Reviewers of Philosophies in 2022
by Philosophies Editorial Office
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010010 - 16 Jan 2023
Viewed by 991
Abstract
High-quality academic publishing is built on rigorous peer review [...] Full article
11 pages, 7573 KiB  
Article
‘What Am I Going to Do with My Philodendron?’ Looking at a Plant in Desk Set
by Georgina Evans
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010009 - 13 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2007
Abstract
Desk Set, a 1957 20th Century Fox studio comedy, made with the sponsorship of IBM, charts the relationship between a reference librarian, Bunny Watson, and Richard Sumner, the inventor of a computer which appears to threaten her job. The film displays a [...] Read more.
Desk Set, a 1957 20th Century Fox studio comedy, made with the sponsorship of IBM, charts the relationship between a reference librarian, Bunny Watson, and Richard Sumner, the inventor of a computer which appears to threaten her job. The film displays a thriving philodendron within Bunny’s skyscraper office, illustrating her organic style of thinking, and implicitly inviting us to see the plant in opposition to the computer. The suggestion that the plant is in some sense excessive, claiming attention beyond the norms of the ornamental background houseplant, opens questions about how we look at plants on film. We find here a reframing of figure and ground, which relates the philodendron to moments where plants become conspicuous in early film and in horror. Desk Set reflects a vegetal landscape characterised by all the commonplace instrumentalising of plants in modernity, amongst which the philodendron emerges as an exception. The plant does not point outwards to a putative wilderness. Instead, our looking at it allows us to contemplate it as an individuated specimen, and to move from that act of looking to recognise its deep entanglement with the urban environment, and with human care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thinking Cinema—With Plants)
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20 pages, 331 KiB  
Article
Turing’s Biological Philosophy: Morphogenesis, Mechanisms and Organicism
by Hajo Greif, Adam Kubiak and Paweł Stacewicz
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010008 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2227
Abstract
Alan M. Turing’s last published work and some posthumously published manuscripts were dedicated to the development of his theory of organic pattern formation. In “The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis” (1952), he provided an elaborated mathematical formulation of the theory of the origins [...] Read more.
Alan M. Turing’s last published work and some posthumously published manuscripts were dedicated to the development of his theory of organic pattern formation. In “The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis” (1952), he provided an elaborated mathematical formulation of the theory of the origins of biological form that had been first proposed by Sir D’Arcy Wendworth Thompson in On Growth and Form (1917/1942). While arguably his most mathematically detailed and his systematically most ambitious effort, Turing’s morphogenetical writings also form the most thematically self-contained and least philosophically explored part of his work. We dedicate our inquiry to the reasons and the implications of Turing’s choice of biological topic and viewpoint. We will probe for possible factors in Turing’s choice that go beyond availability and acquaintance with On Growth and Form. On these grounds, we will explore how and to what extent his theory of morphogenesis actually ties in with his concept of mechanistic computation. Notably, Thompson’s pioneering work in biological ‘structuralism’ was organicist in outlook and explicitly critical of the Darwinian approaches that were popular with Turing’s cyberneticist contemporaries—and partly used by Turing himself in his proto-connectionist models of learning. Resolving this apparent dichotomy, we demonstrate how Turing’s quest for mechanistic explanations of how organisation emerges in nature leaves room for a non-mechanist view of nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Turing the Philosopher: Established Debates and New Developments)
18 pages, 17166 KiB  
Article
Common Grounds: Thinking With Ruderal Plants About Other (Filmic) Histories
by Teresa Castro
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010007 - 11 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2716
Abstract
This article explores the connections between film and ruderal plants: plants that grow spontaneously in anthropized environments and that we often call “weeds”. Thriving across damaged lands, ruderals are not only exceptional companions for thinking with at a time of ecological rupture, but [...] Read more.
This article explores the connections between film and ruderal plants: plants that grow spontaneously in anthropized environments and that we often call “weeds”. Thriving across damaged lands, ruderals are not only exceptional companions for thinking with at a time of ecological rupture, but also a way of engaging with less anthropocentric histories. As argued in this paper, such histories also pertain to film. Despite its timid representational interest in ruderals and “weeds”, cinema is concerned with the stories of collaborative survival, companionship and contaminated diversity raised by such turbulent creatures. Framed by a reflection on our ruderal condition, a discussion around some recent artists’ films allows us to explore some of these problems, while putting an accent on the idea of affective ecologies and involutionary modes of perception. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thinking Cinema—With Plants)
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24 pages, 413 KiB  
Article
“Surveyability” in Hilbert, Wittgenstein and Turing
by Juliet Floyd
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010006 - 11 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2095
Abstract
An investigation of the concept of “surveyability” as traced through the thought of Hilbert, Wittgenstein, and Turing. The communicability and reproducibility of proof, with certainty, are seen as earmarked by the “surveyability” of symbols, sequences, and structures of proof in all these thinkers. [...] Read more.
An investigation of the concept of “surveyability” as traced through the thought of Hilbert, Wittgenstein, and Turing. The communicability and reproducibility of proof, with certainty, are seen as earmarked by the “surveyability” of symbols, sequences, and structures of proof in all these thinkers. Hilbert initiated the idea within his metamathematics, Wittgenstein took up a kind of game formalism in the 1920s and early 1930s in response. Turing carried Hilbert’s conception of the “surveyability” of proof in metamathematics through into his analysis of what a formal system (what a step in a computation) is in “On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem” (1936). Wittgenstein’s 1939 investigations of the significance of surveyability to the concept of “proof “in Principia Mathematica were influenced, both by Turing’s remarkable everyday analysis of the Hilbertian idea, and by conversations with Turing. Although Turing does not use the word “surveyability” explicitly, it is clear that the Hilbertian idea plays a recurrent role in his work, refracted through his engagement with Wittgenstein’s idea of a “language-game”. This is evinced in some of his later writings, where the “reform” of mathematical notation for the sake of human surveyability (1944/45) may be seen to draw out the Hilbertian idea. For Turing, as for Wittgenstein, the need for “surveyability” earmarks the evolving culture of humans located in an evolving social and scientific world, just as it had for Hilbert. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Turing the Philosopher: Established Debates and New Developments)
12 pages, 1466 KiB  
Article
The Mythologist as a Virologist: Barthes’ Myths as Viruses
by Thaer T. Al-Kadi and Abdulaziz Ahmad Alzoubi
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010005 - 11 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1680
Abstract
This article is an attempt to explore and explain the complex processes and mechanisms involved in creating myth signs as presented in Roland Barthes’ Mythologies (1957) through an interdisciplinary and an interdiscursive approach. The article presupposes that the mythic system of signification occupies [...] Read more.
This article is an attempt to explore and explain the complex processes and mechanisms involved in creating myth signs as presented in Roland Barthes’ Mythologies (1957) through an interdisciplinary and an interdiscursive approach. The article presupposes that the mythic system of signification occupies a liminal space of a multiplicity of disciplines and discourses. The mythic sign integrates a myriad of epistemological spaces philosophical, scientific, and cultural. Therefore, this article wants to cross the borderlines between fields of knowledge to understand the unique position of the mythic sign. We are going to use scientific discourse of virology to investigate the parasitic and viral nature of the mythic sign. Moreover, we investigate the role of the mythologist in exploring the signs that are infected by ideology and how to demystify their intentionality and artificiality. Finally, we are going to rely on quantum physics to investigate the superposition of the mythologist and the role this position plays in understanding the ambiguous and multidimensional nature of the mythic sign. Full article
16 pages, 1338 KiB  
Article
The Digital Mind: How Computers (Re)Structure Human Consciousness
by Brian L. Ott
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010004 - 11 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 9015
Abstract
Technologies of communication condition human sense-making. They do so by creating the social environment we inhabit and extending their structural biases and logics through human use. As such, this essay inquires into the prevailing habits of mind in the digital era. Employing a [...] Read more.
Technologies of communication condition human sense-making. They do so by creating the social environment we inhabit and extending their structural biases and logics through human use. As such, this essay inquires into the prevailing habits of mind in the digital era. Employing a media ecology of communication, I argue that digital computers and microprocessors are defined by three structural properties and, hence, underlying logics: digitization (binary code), algorithmic execution (input/output), and efficiency (machine logic). Repeated exposure to these logics cultivates a digital mind, a model of thinking, communicating, and sense-making characterized by intransigence, impertinence, and impulsivity. I conclude the essay by exploring the broader implications of a digital mind, paying particular attention to the challenges it poses to democratic politics. Full article
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54 pages, 8325 KiB  
Article
The Poetics of Physics
by Chris Jeynes, Michael C. Parker and Margaret Barker
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010003 - 05 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3488
Abstract
Physics has been thought to truly represent reality since at least Galileo, and the foundations of physics are always established using philosophical ideas. In particular, the elegant naming of physical entities is usually very influential in the acceptance of physical theories. We here [...] Read more.
Physics has been thought to truly represent reality since at least Galileo, and the foundations of physics are always established using philosophical ideas. In particular, the elegant naming of physical entities is usually very influential in the acceptance of physical theories. We here demonstrate (using current developments in thermodynamics as an example) that both the epistemology and the ontology of physics ultimately rest on poetic language. What we understand depends essentially on the language we use. We wish to establish our knowledge securely, but strictly speaking this is impossible using only analytic language. Knowledge of the meanings of things must use a natural language designed to express meaning, that is, poetic language. Although the world is really there, and although we can indeed know it truly, this knowledge is never either complete or certain but ultimately must rest on intuition. Reading a recently discovered artefact with a palaeo-Hebrew inscription as from the first century, we demonstrate from it that this ontological understanding long predates the Hellenic period. Poetic language is primary, both logically and temporally. Full article
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21 pages, 288 KiB  
Article
Practical Nihilism
by Elijah Millgram
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010002 - 27 Dec 2022
Viewed by 2272
Abstract
Nihilism about practical reasoning is the thesis that there is no such thing as practical rationality—as rationally figuring out what to do. While other philosophers have defended a theoretically oriented version of the thesis, usually called “error theory”, a case is made for [...] Read more.
Nihilism about practical reasoning is the thesis that there is no such thing as practical rationality—as rationally figuring out what to do. While other philosophers have defended a theoretically oriented version of the thesis, usually called “error theory”, a case is made for a fully practical version of it: that we are so bad at figuring out what to do that we do not really know what doing it right would so much as look like. In particular, much of our control of instrumental (or means-end) rationality is illusory, and we are almost entirely incompetent at managing the defeating conditions of our practical inferences—that is, of knowing when not to draw an apparently acceptable conclusion. If that is right, then instead of trying to reason more successfully, we should be trying to make failure pay. Full article
13 pages, 255 KiB  
Article
A Semiotic Reading of Aron Gurwitsch’s Transcendental Phenomenology
by Simone Aurora
Philosophies 2023, 8(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies8010001 - 23 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1283
Abstract
The aim of the paper is to show the relevancy of Aron Gurwitsch’s transcendental-phenomenological theory of the field of consciousness for semiotics and the theory of meaning. After a brief biographical introduction, the paper will focus upon the key theoretical points that define [...] Read more.
The aim of the paper is to show the relevancy of Aron Gurwitsch’s transcendental-phenomenological theory of the field of consciousness for semiotics and the theory of meaning. After a brief biographical introduction, the paper will focus upon the key theoretical points that define Gurwitsch’s theory of the field of consciousness and will consider some of Gurwitsch’s reflections on linguistic and semiotic issues. Finally, it will be shown that the latter are strictly connected with Gurwitsch’s general philosophical framework and, accordingly, that it is possible (and fruitful) to provide a semiotic understanding of Gurwitsch’s phenomenology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Semiotics and Phenomenology: New Perspectives)
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