Einstein is one of the most famous scientists in history, and one of the most famous equations of this most famous scientist is E=mc2 which, although famous, most people don’t know what it means. It is, of course, the equivalence of mass and energy. But what does that mean?
For those who may be paying attention to my recent posts, I am currently reading the collection of essays Metametaphysics, which talks about how metaphysics ought to be done. There is a lot of discussion about whether problems in ontology, such as mereological sums (if there is a tablewise arrangement of atoms, does some “new” object that we call a table come into existence, or is that just a shorthand way we talk about such tablewise arrangements of atoms?), are just semantic. In other words, when I say that a table is nothing more than a tablewise arrangement of atoms, and you say that a table is something above and beyond the tablewise arrangement of atoms, are we simply just using the word “table” in different ways, thus resulting in the differences in how we conceptualize what a table is? Here I am going to discuss (more so than review) the first three essays in this collection.
Metametaphysics, edited by David J. Chalmers, David Manley, and Ryan Wasserman, Copyright 2009, Oxford University Press, 540 pages
Essay 1: “Composition, Colocations, and Metaontology” by Karen Bennett
Essay 2: “Ontological Anti-Realism” by David J. Chalmers
Essay 3: “Carnap and Ontological Pluralism” by Matti Eklund
Ontological indeterminacy is when we don’t have a way to map our conceptual understanding of existence onto actual existence. Or, as Allen Ginsburg defined it: “Ontological indeterminacy (OI) involves incompatible conceptual systems being applicable to a domain with equal empirical adequacy”. But what happens when we don’t have empirical adequacy, such as with quantum field theory and chaos theory?
What is it that makes an object the thing that it is? Is it some kind of substance onto which properties are predicated? Can two (or more) things colocalize (there exists in a single region of spacetime both a thing I call my hand and a thing I call my fist)? In what follows, I am going to riff on some ideas I have for a theory of thingness.
The news these days often cover issues that, for some reason or another, leave people either angry and hateful toward one another, or furrowing their brows in a vain attempt to understand the situation. Here I will give some simple answers to these thorny issues.
The colloquial way of defining what it means for a statement to be true is that it corresponds to reality: if I say “it is raining” and it’s also the case that it’s raining, then what I said is true; if I say “it is raining” and it’s not the case that it’s raining, then what I said is false. This is an extensional truth condition – the extension of the proposition must be the case in reality for the statement to be true. But is this really how truth works? In what follows, I am riffing on some ideas floating around in my head, so feel free to point out any problems so as to help me clarify my thoughts.
What is the meaning of life? This question is profound, but has become so cliche that its profundity is often overlooked. The problem, though, is that to produce an answer to the question requires that we hold prerequisite suppositions: what is the nature of humanity? Where does meaning originate? Does meaning itself have some yet other transcendent meaning?
Imagine a terrorist group infiltrated your country. For my hypothetical, I am going to use the U.S. since that is where I live, but this thought experiment could apply anywhere. Imagine it is known by everyone – you, your friends and family, your government – that this terrorist group exists, but nobody knows who is in it. This terrorist group is very secretive and good at keeping theirs and everyone else’s identities a secret.
If you have not yet heard of “the” Coronavirus you must not be paying attention. However, knowing about it does not necessarily mean you are informed about it. There seems to be a lot of misinformation regarding this disease. Perhaps here I can make things a little more clear.
Possibly the most important part of the mental model humans construct is their mental model of themselves. This is what we call our identity. It takes all the beliefs we have about ourselves and attempts to put them together into an internally coherent whole. Some of our most cherished political, religious, racial, and gender thoughts about ourselves tells us who we are and how we ought to interact with the world.
When we perceive something, what is the phenomenological experience of that perception? Do we experience it, as Edmund Husserl would have said, as a series of objects in space? Or do we experience it in a doxastic way, as an immediate sense of there is particular thing X – a sort of proposition that happens without words? Or do we experience it as a web of significance as Martin Heidegger thought? Here I will explore some of these ideas.
I am a white male. I recently went through a job search a few months ago and found something interesting: many of the places I looked into (mostly laboratories and jobs at universities) had diversity in the description of what they were looking for in a job candidate. Perhaps I’m wrong (I did end up getting a job tutoring at a university, after all) but it seems like that is essentially saying white men need not apply. Is this proof that white male privilege is no longer a thing?