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Jun 09 2013

Oh, let’s pile on a little more

Colin McGinn may be pompous and privileged, but he also writes philosophy papers. Philosophy papers that get reviewed. Philosophy papers that get scathingly hilarious reviews (pdf). An excerpt from Strohminger, in Emotion Review:

Another property of McGinn’s text, of which potential readers should be aware, is its unintentional hilarity. The humor derives less from the unblushing content than from the unblushing purpleness of his prose. Of the male genitalia, McGinn writes: “Life and death coexist in complex and subtle ways in the penis and testicles, telling a story of triumph and tragedy.” On feces: “I have no wish to romanticize the turd.” Pubic hair is referred to as “nature’s furry bounty.” Semen is a “pointless sticky daub once it is spilled on the ground, only to be consumed there by unfussy insects or whatever.” Or whatever. Unfussy cavemen, perhaps.

In pursuit of a grand unifying theory, Freud saw phalluses everywhere; McGinn sees only crap. Snakes, being dun-colored and slithery, are deemed unmistakably poop-like. The brain “resembles nothing so much as a mound of dung”, a proclamation that forces us to ask whether McGinn has ever actually seen a brain. “The rectum is a grave [obviously!]… but is the grave also a rectum, with corpses featuring as large turds?” These are the questions McGinn is not afraid to ask, not that the answers could be anything other than nonsense.

I almost want to read the original paper, except that it’s 200 pages long.

Pretentious philosophers, here’s another reason not to abuse your graduate students, besides the obvious one of basic human decency: it encourages deeper scrutiny of your work.

63 comments

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  1. 1
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    I always thought the brain resembled a mushroom. I’d always hoped a psychotropic mushroom, but really, just a mushroom.

    I wonder if he consumes too much roughage?

  2. 2
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Oh, let’s pile on a little more

    I see what you did there.

    It took me a minute, but I see it.

  3. 3
    Sili

    Reading the link yesterthread, I am genuinely puzzled as to why this man is supposed to be a great philosopher. So great even, that his resignation is a loss to the profession.

    By contrast, McGinn is well known as a leading proponent of the ‘new mysterianism’ whereby the problem of consciousness is insoluble. To quote the Wikipedia entry for ‘New Mysterianism’, it is ‘a philosophy proposing that certain problems will never be explained or at the least cannot be explained by the human mind at its current evolutionary stage. The problem most often referred to is the hard problem of consciousness.’

    What the hell kinda ignorabimus is that?!

    So the problem can’t be solved? Then why the hell of you working on it, you idiot?! What’s the loss, if he himself says he can’t help understand the issue?!

    And people wonder why we often find it hard to take philosophers seriously.

  4. 4
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    The brain “resembles nothing so much as a mound of dung”

    And here I thought philosophy had been dragged kicking and screaming into recognizing that universalizing one’s personal experience was fallacious…

  5. 5
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Sili:

    So the problem can’t be solved? Then why the hell of you working on it, you idiot?!

    Gratuitous link to Steven Banks! “Fine. I can’t work with this.”

    Also, nobody ever got famous solving something that’s soluble. (There’s a chemistry pun there. I just know there is.)

  6. 6
    GodotIsWaiting4U

    @Sili:

    It sounds like he’s one of the idiots poisoning the well. There are far too many such people in the field.

    He will surely be forgotten when postmodernism inevitably collapses under the weight of its own bullshit.

  7. 7
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Sounds like that papers just a pile of shit.

    I knew philosophers like talking bullshit, didn’t realise some of them took that shit talking quite so seriously!

    This shits for real?

  8. 8
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    PS. And, no doubt, *he* thinks we’re just shit talking him!

  9. 9
    consciousness razor

    So the problem can’t be solved?

    That’s what he thinks.

    Then why the hell of you working on it, you idiot?!

    He’s not working on it in the sense of solving it. He’s working on it to show what is problematic or insufficient about alleged solutions others give.

    What’s the loss, if he himself says he can’t help understand the issue?!

    People (like you and me) who do think it can be solved are trying to solve it one way or another. One kind of loss would be that they won’t be solving it, giving a false picture of reality, which may result in other concepts/actions/policies which depend on that false picture of reality.

  10. 10
    Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion

    Can we just rename the paper “Adventures in Freudian Pareidolia”?

    Everything is poo or penises and somehow that’s significant.

  11. 11
    mcbender

    “The brain resembles nothing so much as a mound of dung”?

    Perhaps McGinn’s does, but he’s given us no evidence the principle generalises.

  12. 12
    Trickster Goddess

    The brain “resembles nothing so much as a mound of dung”

    I guess that must be the academic way of saying “shit for brains”.

  13. 13
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    And the penis is clearly a turd, but the turd is also a penis.

    Possibly also a brain.

  14. 14
    Rowan vet-tech

    If this ‘philospher’ thinks snakes look like feces because they are dung colored, he must have some *bizarre* looking shits.

    Corn snakes.
    Milk snakes.
    Mandarin rat snakes.
    Bamboo rat snakes.
    Green tree pythons.
    Sunbeam snakes.
    San Francisco garter snake.

    If your poo looks like any of these creatures, please consult a *medical* doctor immediately!

  15. 15
    spandrel

    Nope, he’s not a postmodernist. Don’t blame the continental philosophers for this one, he’s a straight-up analytic philosopher. At least, he used to be an analytic philosopher.

    Back in the late 90s he was putting out genuinely important work. His claim that human beings cannot understand how consciousness is instantiated in matter was not a frivolous joke. An argument that a problem cannot be solved would be valuable. Among other things, it would show that existing theories about consciousness need to be rejected.

    One move he was making in the 90s was to draw an analogy with Chomsky’s innate grammar. Squirrels lack a specialized mental module for grammar therefore squirrel brains are never going to wrap themselves around language, let alone Shakespeare. It’s not a question of getting the squirrels to try harder. Analogously, it’s not implausible that the structure of the human brain puts limits on the range of concepts we’re capable of forming, limits a differently-brained alien species might not have. That much is plausible. I’m not familiar enough with his work to say I have a firm opinion, but I don’t think he’s got a strong enough argument that consciousness is something we would need specialized mental modules to comprehend. Science does a very good job of helping us conceptualize exceedingly unintuitive natural phenomena. So, I think McGuin was wrong, but his position was not without merit. I could imagine myself reading up on his older work to see if his argument is stronger than I’m giving him credit for.

    I don’t know what happened to him that turned him into a guy making puerile poop jokes and sexually harassing his students. Was it tenure? Does tenure do this to people?

  16. 16
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    consciousness razor:

    He’s not working on it in the sense of solving it. He’s working on it to show what is problematic or insufficient about alleged solutions others give.

    It seems more that he’s claiming an absolute position: that some problems are not tractable to our ability to understand, not just our current understanding. His argument doesn’t seem to be limited to proposed solutions, but to the entire set of all conceivable proposed solutions.

    This seems an extremist view, much harder to defend than simple disagreement with currently-proposed solutions.

  17. 17
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    spandrel:

    One move he was making in the 90s was to draw an analogy with Chomsky’s innate grammar. Squirrels lack a specialized mental module for grammar therefore squirrel brains are never going to wrap themselves around language, let alone Shakespeare. It’s not a question of getting the squirrels to try harder. Analogously, it’s not implausible that the structure of the human brain puts limits on the range of concepts we’re capable of forming, limits a differently-brained alien species might not have. That much is plausible.

    While I’d certainly not argue our ability to comprehend everything, the use of this argument to limit what we could conceivably understand seems a bit arbitrary. It seems there’s a long slog between saying we can’t know everything, and delimiting what we can know.

  18. 18
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    spandrel:

    Sorry. I didn’t mean to imply you were defending his argument. I quite agree with your entire #15.

  19. 19
    Marcus Ranum

    I see what you did there.

    Oh, shit. That totally passed by me.

  20. 20
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    It seems more that he’s claiming an absolute position: that some problems are not tractable to our ability to understand, not just our current understanding. His argument doesn’t seem to be limited to proposed solutions, but to the entire set of all conceivable proposed solutions.

    I think there are two kinds of problem here. One is that the belief that there is a problem at all is wrong- an obvious example is the human soul; the other is that some problems are unsolvable either because we lack knowledge or because the very structure of the human brain or mind means they cannot be solved. The question of just what the human mind is, if there is a human mind, is in the second category, as is consciousness. If people have been trying to solve the problems of consciousness without success or advance for over three thousand years then that is evidence that it is either a false problem or an insoluble problem or the answer must depend on nonphilosophical discoveries.

  21. 21
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    sc_<stuff>:

    If people have been trying to solve the problems of consciousness without success or advance for over three thousand years then that is evidence that it is either a false problem or an insoluble problem or the answer must depend on nonphilosophical discoveries.

    Only if philosophy relies on non-philosophical discoveries for advancement. (I believe this to be true, unless pure mathematics is strictly philosophical.)

    Our understanding of consciousness has progressed over the years. Part of this is due in part to non-philosophical discoveries, certainly; but as we really aren’t any closer to defining what consciousness is, I’m not convinced the question has left the realm of philosophy. So while the first part of your statement might be true (we haven’t solved the problem of consciousness, even if we’ve limited the field somewhat) I’m not entirely convinced that indicates it’ll take a non-philosophical source to solve it. Perhaps all that is required is a better philosophy (aided and abetted by things like science).

    But yeah. I’m almost convinced there’s no real thing as “consciousness” as we seem to define it. Near as I can tell, consciousness is nothing more than an internal dialogue guided by the input of the senses and dictated by previous brain states — a kind of meta-state, if you will.

    Not that I’m a philosopher or whatever you call those folks who study the brain.

  22. 22
    consciousness razor

    Nope, he’s not a postmodernist. Don’t blame the continental philosophers for this one, he’s a straight-up analytic philosopher. At least, he used to be an analytic philosopher.

    Hmm, that may be accurate in a certain sense, but I would call some analytic philosophers “postmodern,” if it’s not just a term of abuse like “theologian” or “rationalist” or “continental.”

    ———

    It seems more that he’s claiming an absolute position: that some problems are not tractable to our ability to understand, not just our current understanding. His argument doesn’t seem to be limited to proposed solutions, but to the entire set of all conceivable proposed solutions.

    This seems an extremist view, much harder to defend than simple disagreement with currently-proposed solutions.

    Basically, yes, but I wouldn’t call it “extremist.” I didn’t mean to imply it was just about current solutions, but he’s in the present world, so he deals with the current solutions that are being peddled, obviously. (Many of which speculate well beyond what we currently do know anyway, this being philosophy and all.)

    Given the way people are and the limits of how we must interact with the world, there is no way (he claims, if I understand him) we can ever know absolutely everything there is to know about the world. (The mind-body problem is just one possible facet of this, or maybe it’s one which strikes him as being the most obvious, since it concerns experience as such, so the lack of explanation for our everyday experiences would be something of a big gaping hole in our knowledge which basically everyone could recognize.)

    Anyway, there’s not really a non-absolute position here, because it’s about absolutely every bit of knowledge there is, no matter which side you take. And I can imagine more “extreme” positions which aren’t just about particular phenomena we can’t know, but which undermine the whole concept of “knowing,” our lack of any “objective” knowledge, there being no “external” reality, etc.

  23. 23
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    But yeah. I’m almost convinced there’s no real thing as “consciousness” as we seem to define it.

    Part of the problem of consciousness is that it’s like the soul and mind: there’s no clear definition of just what it is. In fact, don’t most physiological, neurological and psychological discoveries say nothing about consciousness per se, even if philosophers of consciousness use them to modify their view of consciousness?

  24. 24
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    McGinn:

    Lesson: reported speech is a bitch (a female dog—be careful how you paraphrase me!).

    Yep, he went there.

  25. 25
    Inaji

    Semen is a “pointless sticky daub once it is spilled on the ground, only to be consumed there by unfussy insects or whatever.

    Does this man ever keep it in his pants?

    Snakes, being dun-colored and slithery

    Apparently, he has never seen an actual snake, let alone all the amazingly coloured ones. Even those snakes in the brown colour range have wonderful patterns and colour gradations.

  26. 26
    Wild Old Caveman

    unfussy cavemen, perhaps

    I hope I never get that hungry.

  27. 27
    Asher Kay

    One of McGinn’s responses deserves special mention:

    It should also be noted that it was explicitly agreed between us that if anything in our relationship was felt to be unacceptable it could be stopped simply by saying so.

    This is a great example of privilege-blindness, and one I see all the time in other contexts. McGinn is a well-known philosopher, in a position of power over his student. He’s working with her on a “genius project”, which he describes like this:

    The purpose of the genius project was to make NN into a truly original and outstanding young philosopher (one who could expect to find an attractive job later).

    So in a very real way, the work with McGinn could be expected to have a big impact on the student’s career.

    But according to McGinn, there’s no reason why she should have been hesitant to speak up if something was bothering her.

  28. 28
    csrster

    “Analogously, it’s not implausible that the structure of the human brain puts limits on the range of concepts we’re capable of forming, limits a differently-brained alien species might not have. That much is plausible. ”

    I suppose the only alternative to that position is the one adopted by David Deutsch, that the human mind is a universal reasoning machine, so that any thought capable of being instantiated in the physical universe is capable of being produced by the human mind (or the collective action of human minds, I suppose).

    But even if human minds are universal, could there still be thoughts that are unthinkable – in the same sense that there are (provably) numbers which are non-computable, even though we can easily build a universal computer?

  29. 29
    richcon

    Nina Strohminger’s review (from that PDF link in PZ’s post) has got the greatest, most awesome opening paragraph I’ve ever read in an academic review. Somebody give her a raise!

  30. 30
    demonax

    One has to allow for inventiveness. The term “Genius Project” has never before been used as a euphemism.

  31. 31
    Ivo

    I remember reading his memoir “The making of a philosopher” a few years ago and being struck by the candid admission that, after all, it was all just about making a career. I also found it mildly funny, and informative of the state of modern philosophical academia. My opinion of McGinn went down pretty fast as soon as he got into that “mysterian” business…

  32. 32
    mikmik

    nigelTheBold, also Avo

    Also, nobody ever got famous solving something that’s soluble. (There’s a chemistry pun there. I just know there is.)

    Those ones lose their solidity very quickly.

  33. 33
    mikmik

    If people have been trying to solve the problems of consciousness without success or advance for over three thousand years then that is evidence that it is either a false problem or an insoluble problem or the answer must depend on nonphilosophical discoveries.

    Is there a time limit that delineates a problem as unsolvable? How many thousand years before gravity was ‘solved?’
    Solutions take time to mature – this is just a false dichotomy, although I get your point, mind you.

  34. 34
    thetalkingstove

    Semen is pointless once spilled on the ground…?

    Unlike blood, saliva, stomach acids, breast milk etc? All those bodily fluids that are super useful once spilled on the floor?

    I know I’ve used three question marks here, but I don’t think even that’s sufficient to express how little I get the point here.

    ???????

  35. 35
    ChasCPeterson

    Nina Strohminger’s review (from that PDF link in PZ’s post) has got the greatest, most awesome opening paragraph I’ve ever read in an academic review.

    The whole thing’s just perfect. 2 examples:

    Diamonds, being forever, do not remind us
    of death. He muses: “Is this why women tend to love
    jewelry so—because of a relatively high level of bodily
    self-disgust? Just asking.” Is Colin McGinn a sexist,
    penis-gazing blowhard? Just asking!

    Sometimes with ideas,
    as with farts, it’s better to just hold it in.

  36. 36
    sqlrob

    Also, nobody ever got famous solving something that’s soluble. (There’s a chemistry pun there. I just know there is.)

    Are you trying to precipitate a pun thread?

  37. 37
    sqlrob

    Is there a time limit that delineates a problem as unsolvable? How many thousand years before gravity was ‘solved?’

    Is it solved yet?

  38. 38
    Steve LaBonne

    An argument that a problem cannot be solved would be valuable.

    Unfortunately, McGinn never produced anything resembling an actual argument.

  39. 39
    SallyStrange

    Just wondering research into the nature of human emotions – disgust in this case – escapes Chas’ censure against social sciences, and why.

  40. 40
    SallyStrange

    Wondering IF, obvs. Sorry.

  41. 41
    mikmik

    sqlrob

    Is there a time limit that delineates a problem as unsolvable? How many thousand years before gravity was ‘solved?’

    Is it solved yet?

    No! That’s my point – part of it, anyways. The mind can be a watch face, like Einstein’s analogy about the physics of the universe, but we can’t open the case to see what it is. But because it isn’t ‘solved’ doesn’t mean that our approach is wrong, just like our unsolved mind doesn’t mean we abandon philosophy.
    Some Christians have a black hole for a mind, and the only way you can tell that they do have a mind is because it is emitting Blocking radiation.

    From now on, when someone says ‘the hard problem,’ I will say, “you mean the mind, or gravity?”

    Little bit of a diversion there

  42. 42
    ChasCPeterson

    Just wondering [if] research into the nature of human emotions – disgust in this case – escapes Chas’ censure against social sciences, and why.

    My…my what? I’ve never issued anything like that.
    For one thing, you’ve obviously forgotten about my slavish and dogmatic devotion to the evil kyriarchical status-quo apologetics of Evolutionary Psychology.
    In particular, the review linked in the OP cites the following references:

    Curtis, V., De Barra, M., & Aunger, R. (2011). Disgust as an adaptive system for disease avoidance behaviour. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 366 (1563), 389–401.
    Darwin, C. (1872/2002). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    Hart, B. (1990). Behavioral adaptations to pathogens and parasites: five strategies. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 14 (3), 273–294.
    Oaten, M., Stevenson, R., & Case, T. (2009). Disgust as a disease-avoidance mechanism. Psychological Bulletin 135 (2), 303.
    Schaller, M., & Park, J. (2011). The behavioral immune system (and why it matters). Current Directions in Psychological Science 20 (2), 99–103.

    …all of which discuss the hypothesis of disgust as an adaptation, i.e. in evolutionary, i.e. biological terms. If you’re asking me which explanation I favor, that one or the 200-p bloviations of a sexist pompus ass of a philosophy professor, the answer is: duh, A.

  43. 43
    Pierce R. Butler

    So Colin McGinn wants to be the Gödel of consciousness? Good luck wid dat!

    … a truly original and outstanding young philosopher (one who could expect to find an attractive job later).

    From the secondhand reports I’ve encountered about the (battles within the) Philosophy Dept in the local U, I kinda doubt that any “truly original” philosopher has much hope of employment in the ivy-covered ivory tower.

  44. 44
    SallyStrange

    So… comments like this and this are NOT meant to express your disrespect for the field of sociology and social sciences?

    How does that work?

  45. 45
    SallyStrange

    Which is to say, it seems that you don’t classify studies on disgust as part of the social sciences, so in this case the question is moot.

  46. 46
    ChasCPeterson

    So… comments like this and this are NOT meant to express your disrespect for the field of sociology and social sciences?

    Oh, that’s goofy chain-yanking.
    But seriously, sociology specifically. That’s porobably the one for which I have the least respect. That and economics. (Hell, I’ve let psychologists use my bathroom.)

  47. 47
    sigurd jorsalfar

    McGinn is also a writer of lousy, self-published fiction.

    I wonder what other pearls have been dispensed from the dung heap that is Colin McGinn’s mind?

  48. 48
    David Marjanović

    how consciousness is instantiated in matter

    It isn’t “instantiated in matter”. It’s an activity.

    One move he was making in the 90s was to draw an analogy with Chomsky’s innate grammar.

    Which is a silly thing to do, seeing how this hypothesis is controversial at best among linguists.

    Nina Strohminger’s review (from that PDF link in PZ’s post) has got the greatest, most awesome opening paragraph I’ve ever read in an academic review. Somebody give her a raise!

    ROTFL! So true!!!

    I’m also surprised that a philosopher comes up with a theory of disgust in this day and age. That field belongs to psychology. o_O

  49. 49
    Nick Gotts

    That’s porobably the one for which I have the least respect. – ChasCPeterson

    Unsurprising, since it’s quite clear you know fuck-all about it.

  50. 50
    ChasCPeterson

    it’s quite clear you know fuck-all about it.

    When and where was this so clearly demonstrated, Nick?

  51. 51
    SallyStrange

    Your disdain is out of proportion to the actual problems with research and scientific method within the field. The chain-yanking doesn’t help – sociology is a real thing, and too many people give themselves permission to ignore useful information coming out of research in that area based on simple, counterfactual social science denialism.

  52. 52
    Rob Grigjanis

    Chas @46:

    Oh, that’s goofy chain-yanking.

    Can you use chain-yanking tags, or do we have to build detectors? Charmlessness would certainly be involved, and possibly CP* Violation ;)

    *Chas Peterson.

  53. 53
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    How many thousand years before gravity was ‘solved?’

    Not many, Mikmik. In fact, gravity wasn’t a problem but a solution to the philosophical problem “Why don’t things fall up?” How it happened had to be solved and everyone saw it at once when it was expressed. I read a study of Newton’s ms which showed that he had difficulties turning his theories into mathematical terms. One important aspect was defining things properly.

  54. 54
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    …and- of course- it’s a solution coming from outside philosophy.

  55. 55
    PatrickG

    Of the male genitalia, McGinn writes: “Life and death coexist in complex and subtle ways in the penis and testicles, telling a story of triumph and tragedy.”

    So I read this to my partner, and her response was basically “the hell?” I gave some background (“philosophy professor, found harassing some of his students, this is a sample of his work”).

    Her response: “Was the sexual harassment being forced to listen to that read out loud?”

    /chuckle moment

  56. 56
    Ichthyic

    When and where was this so clearly demonstrated, Nick?

    every time you comment on it.

    seriously.

  57. 57
    ChasCPeterson

    Your disdain is out of proportion

    How do you think you’ve arrived at knowledge of the proportion of my disdain?

    out of proportion to the actual problems with research and scientific method within the field.

    I’ll let The Dude take that one. Dude?
    *The Dude’s reply*
    Thanks, Dude.

    The chain-yanking doesn’t help

    Well it’s not supposed to ‘help’. It’s supposed to amuse myself.

    – sociology is a real thing,

    lol. So are Chicago-School economics, the Baptist church, and evolutionary psychology. Your point?

    and too many people give themselves permission to ignore useful information coming out of research in that area based on simple, counterfactual social science denialism

    Well I’m all about useful information and I’m resolutely anticounterfactual, so–phew!–I must not be one of those people.
    Yeah, my problem has never been about the useful information or the factuals.

    Can you use chain-yanking tags, or do we have to build detectors?

    Well, Rob, if you actually read the linked comments and were still able to mistake them for anything but quippy chain-yanking, then I might start you off with an educational coloring book and then let you work your way up to a detector. (You see, a serious critique of sociology woyuld probably look a lot different.)

    When and where was this so clearly demonstrated, Nick?

    every time you comment on it.
    seriously.

    Another county heard from (do you think Ing will make an appearance?).
    If it’s like that, Ich, then it should be no problem at all for you or the real Nick to find an example of a comment in which I demonstrate that I–what was it?–know fuck-all about sociology.

    just one…no?

    I’ll explain: That’s because choosing to make fun of something does not necessarily entail not understanding the something.

    Perhaps you’d care to offer a quick original paragraph that demonstrates your no-doubt vast and current knowledge of the field, Ich. May I suggest a topic? “Contemporary antipositivism.”

  58. 58
    mikmik

    @ sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d, then I guess it’s an exchange of particles, or was that space curvature. Even light isn’t solved, it’s a wave, no it’s a particle, no it’s an electron redshifted.
    If gravity is solved, why are there so many projects on gravitational theorem.
    Saying gravity makes things fall is like saying our mind is being awake.
     
    On the other hand, I knew it was a shitty analogy when I made it. I merely wanted to point out that because philosophy hasn’t led to an explanation of our mind, it still is used to describe it, as is ‘a bunch of physical processes’ an attempt to figure out what our minds are, or the concept is even valid. Mind, philosophy of.
    I can’t remember if

  59. 59
    consciousness razor

    Perhaps you’d care to offer a quick original paragraph that demonstrates your no-doubt vast and current knowledge of the field, Ich. May I suggest a topic? “Contemporary antipositivism.”

    I’d like to know where you think this is supposed to go, if it’s not just meant to be a pissing contest between you and Ichthyic.

    Antipositivism in the social sciences* is something that you (1) amuse yourself about, (2) take seriously as a good thing, (3) take seriously as a bad thing, and/or (4) raise as an issue for some other unknown reason.

    *You could also include any other disciplines in the humanities if you want.

  60. 60
    Rob Grigjanis

    mikmik @58:

    Even light isn’t solved, it’s a wave, no it’s a particle, no it’s an electron redshifted.

    No, that’s solved. It’s a field. Gravity is seriously unsolved.

  61. 61
    anchor

    Philosophy, by and large, is little more than a feeble attempt to seem serious.

    However, those who, through some fabulous effort or freak accident of reason, manage to say something worth further contemplation, ought to be recognized for not contributing to its reputation.

  62. 62
    Nick Gotts

    If it’s like that, Ich, then it should be no problem at all for you or the real Nick to find an example of a comment in which I demonstrate that I–what was it?–know fuck-all about sociology. – ChasCPeterson

    Easy: you show it every time you dismiss the whole field, as if it all followed the same methodology.

  63. 63
    John Morales

    anchor:

    Philosophy, by and large, is little more than a feeble attempt to seem serious.

    Very philosophical of you.

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