Detail from the poster for Zizek’s film, ‘The Pervert’s Guide To Ideology’.
This is a guest post by Toby Coe. Most readers will be at least aware of the Slovenian philosopher and intellectual cult figure Slavoj Žižek. The message of his 2011 book, Living In The End Times (published by Verso) is the prediction that has been repeated by almost every Marxist intellectual who has ever taken up a pen in anger, namely, that capitalism will inevitably collapse due to imbalances inherent in the system it creates. Living In The End Times does not really fulfill the promise of showing why this will happen, but is the umbrella under which several interesting discussions of various issues takes place. One of these concerns Transhumanism.
Žižek thinks that Transhumanism is a kind of “apocalypticism”, in other words an ideology that is parasitic on religious notions of an “end times” or “reckoning”, where the old order is brought violently to an end. Read the rest of this entry
A major analysis of cutting edge studies has been published in Nature Geoscience this week by an international team of over 70 scientists. Although the authors rightly qualify that their report is not designed in the terms of ‘attribution studies’ which is the most reliable approach to distinguishing causes, their ‘region-up’ analysis of global temperature variance over the last 2,000 years found exactly what would be expected if the current consensus on anthropogenic climate change (ACC) was correct.
Global temperatures were warmer between 1970 and 2000 -the period with the greatest greenhouse gas emissions- than in any other period in the last 1,400 years. This is despite the fact that we should still be experiencing a long period of global cooling which began c.1580 AD, because, as the study indicates, rises and falls in global temperature take place very gradually over long periods. Recent warming, with its rapid arrival in the late 19th century is: 1) by contrast, too sudden to fit the pattern for natural shifts in global temperature, and 2) also perfectly correlated with where we would expect to find warming if it were caused by the explosion of polluting industrial activity, and 3) inexplicable by natural causes such as volcanic eruptions and changes in solar irradiance. Such natural causes do, however, predict earlier periods of significant change which were often short lasting but in such cases were always restricted to small regions, unlike the current global change.
The report therefore adds ‘the Earth has warmed up like this in the past’ to the ever growing list of arguments favoured by the ideological (i.e. bribed) opponents of ACC science    to have been refuted empirically. If you are at all interested in the other items on this list and how they relate to the evidence for ACC, why this climate change is such a catastrophic threat to human civilisation, and what actions we can be taking to ameliorate it, I wholeheartedly recommend The No-Nonsense Guide To Climate Change (2nd Edition) by Danny Chivers as an extremely succinct introduction.
Adverts annoy me. Particularly uninvited adverts in public spaces- especially in green, residential spaces. I often fantisise about vandalising them, a la Banksy. In recent months I was even irritated by an advert for charity. Now, I don’t mean that I got people to sign up to sponsor me for every ad I endured, I mean there was an advert for charitable purposes which frustrated me every time I passed by. Read the rest of this entry
With thanks to Adam Curtis © 2011.
This documentary takes its name from a 1967 poem of Richard Brautigan which called for a cybernetically-programmed ecological utopia consisting of a fusion of computers and mammals living in perfect harmony and stability. By contrast, the film implies that humans have been colonized by the machines they have built: although we don’t realize it, everything we see in the world today is through the eyes of the computers. Computers have failed to liberate us and instead have distorted and simplified our view of the world around us. Hugh Montgomery summarised the suggestions made by the film as follows: “By putting our faith in computers [or unfeeling bureaucracies more generally] to create a stable, democratic world order… we’ve become politically and economically naïve and dulled to the business of real social change.” Read the rest of this entry
My post which was the most original (philosophically) so far was a discussion of the relationship between Eudaimonology and Soteriology. I posed a few questions about the former which will take a long time to answer (such is philosophy).
At the most general level my project is to defend eudaimonology as highly relevant and as the central concern of philosophy. Of course an important part of this project is refining an appropriate definition of the subject. While so far I have only made introductory posts about a third of the different traditions I’m aware of, I realised a working definition while reading the other night. If I remember correctly it looked something like this…
Eudaimonology is study of how human life is to be lived, focusing on:
1. What human beings are (the task of philosophical anthropology),
2. What makes human life fulfilling (a conceptual as well as psychological question),
3. How human beings should interact with one another (the task of ethics and socio-political philosophy),
4. How human nature can transcend itself to become something greater (a soteriological question).
Regarding the first of these, Vincent Nichols said recently that the understanding of human nature is an excellent basis upon which to carry out public discourse because it cuts away pernicious individualism. I agree. Though my expertise falls more towards the study of point 4 (and to a lesser extent points 3 and 2), we should begin from the common acceptance of the human species as the product of natural selection. After this, there are many different theories/traditions in the debate on human nature. I have yet not studied these but I have indicated my sympathy for Marx’s early writings.
An Assessment of the Positivist Critique of the Natural Law Claim that Law and Morality are Inseparable
The central claim in the positivist approach to the place of morality is that the law draws its authority from the legitimacy of the law-making body and that this has nothing to do with morality. So long as certain conditions (varying between philosophers) are fulfilled, such as that the laws this body makes are generally respected, that they are made known for citizens to learn if they wish, and that the specific law was passed according to the correct procedures in that system, it qualifies as an authoritative law. Another way of putting this is that it is the form of the law, solely those factors that are extrinsic to that law itself which determine its authority. Read the rest of this entry
The following is another essay I wrote back in 2008.
Is Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean A Plausible Guide To Moral Goodness?
Aristotle’s (384 BC – 322 BC) doctrine of the mean has a privileged place in one of the grand moral traditions, that of virtue ethics. Virtue ethics retains a widespread influence today, particularly via its thirteenth century formulation by St. Thomas Aquinas, which remains at the core of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, and via its twentieth century reunion with the secular mainstream of moral philosophy through the work of several Catholic scholars, particularly Alasdair MacIntyre. This essay endorses virtue ethics and argues that the doctrine of the mean is a plausible guide to moral goodness, but is not by itself adequate as a guide to all-things-considered moral rightness. Read the rest of this entry