Year: 2015

  • This Week’s Special: Gottlob Frege’s, “On Sense and Reference.”

    By Daniel A. Kaufman On tap this week is likely the single most influential paper in the philosophy of language, Gottlob Frege’s “On Sense and Reference” (Über Sinn und Bedeutung), originally published in 1892.  So many and wide-ranging are the paper’s implications that philosophers are still talking about it today.  While the tide certainly […]

  • The Deceptions of Humor, The Amusement of Lies

    by E. John Winner The basic claim of this essay is that jokes and lies share similar semiotic structures, both originating in play, and both playing upon audience expectations, by effectively creating a fictitious ‘model world’ of signs that reassure the audience that their expectations will be met (or, in a situation of openly comedic […]

  • Report from the Empire of Nice

    by Daniel A. Kaufman The experimental psychologist, Steven Pinker, says that we are getting nicer.  Way nicer.  We kill and rape each other much less than we used to.  (The “rape culture” folks apparently didn’t get the memo.)  We’re less racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, sizeist, ageist, and ableist.  (We’re just less -ist in general.)  We don’t […]

  • Passionate Thinking

    by Mark English I want to say something about political and social commitments. In order to make the points I want to make, I will sketch out my own political and social views (and how they have changed) and refer to the views of Isaiah Berlin. But I am also making some general claims about […]

  • This Week’s Special: C.S. Lewis, “Meditation in a Toolshed”

    By Daniel A. Kaufman On tap this week is a lovely little essay by C.S. Lewis that makes what I think is quite an important distinction, one that may permit us a little insight into what has seemed an intractable philosophical problem: namely, our inability to “reduce” various – mostly mental – concepts to […]

  • On the Value of (truly) Free Speech

    by David Ottlinger In the increasingly surreal unfolding of student protests across the country, the provost of Brown University attempted to address students demonstrating over the status of racial minorities. [1] Having just announced a $100 million dollar plan to increase diversity at Brown, the administration could reasonably have expected some good-will from student activists. […]

  • Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?

    by Daniel A. Kaufman My discussion with Dr. Leslie Baynes, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, at Missouri State University, on C.S. Lewis’ “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord” argument. Originally aired on MeaningofLife.TV, November 16, 2015.

  • This Week’s Special:  Frank Sibley’s, “Aesthetic Concepts”

    By Daniel A. Kaufman On tap this week is a paper that has had an enormous influence on contemporary aesthetics:  Frank Sibley’s 1959 paper, “Aesthetic Concepts.” The central message of Sibley’s thesis is essentially critical: Aesthetic concepts are not ascribed by way of criteria, but instead, require taste / discernment / perceptiveness to apply.   […]

  • Provocations

    by Daniel A. Kaufman  On Some Downsides of Unlimited Choice Even as I make use of the internet and benefit from its near-universal reach, I find myself quite gloomy about much of its impact.  In particular, I am concerned that it has expanded choice to a point beyond which it is an uncontroversial good. As […]

  • The Decline of Intergenerational Communication

    by Mark English Prompted by some recent discussions on this site and elsewhere about generational divisions, I thought I would put together a few observations, personal thoughts and speculations on the general topic of intergenerational communication. It’s well known that someone who grows up in a non-literate society is ‘wired’ very differently from someone who […]