I get a few emails asking me various questions. Sometimes I answer them directly by email and sometimes I answer them here. So here's a few questions I've got the past week and my answers.
One question I've gotten a lot of the last while is why there aren't more religion posts. I'll try and rectify that. I tend to post on what I'm studying at the moment. Right now I'm reading Wheeler's Reconstructing the Cognitive World: The Next Step and so my thoughts have been returning to philosophy of mind, externalism and cognitive science. Enowning has a post on that book. I've not got to the Heidegger parts but thus far I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I'll be blogging about it once I do my first past and start on my second. Anyway, I'll be blogging about Blake's book some more and then do a few other religious posts.
An other question I've got is why I've slowed down the posts. I don't think I'll ever be as prolific as Peter at On Philosophy. How does he manage to write that much? -- I'd guess no wife and kids! (grin) So a big one is that family just takes precedence. The other is that I'm still very busy at work getting ready for the Fancy Food Show in New York. The final one (which I'll get to below) is that I'm working getting some new blogging software ready.
One person asked me what software I use. Actually the whole blog is run by a single Python script that is surprisingly short. (Well technically two - one for posting and one for comments) However I'm in the process of switching over to Drupal. Surprisingly though doing that involves refreshing my PHP skills and learning a lot. Hopefully I'll have the switch done sometime this summer.
A few people have asked me where to begin with Peirce. As I mentioned to David in the Peirce and Davidson thread the best book introducing Peirce I've encountered is Kelly Parker's The Continuity of Peirce's Thought. I recommend it to everyone. I'd also suggest a good Peirce reader like Peirce on Signs. That'll give you a taste for his major ideas and writing. I'd also advise going to Arisbe the Peirce gateway. There are lots of papers on Peirce along with a few of his writings.
A common question I get is about philosophy MP3s. They're out there. I had been hosting Dreyfus' Heidegger lectures until I got a $400 bill for the bandwidth used. Who thought Heidegger was so popular? However Dreyfus often has up his recent classes at his web site. Others you just have to search for. Alas I don't have time to listen to even the podcasts I used to let alone class lectures.
One person asked about Deleuze. I don't blog about him just because I've not (yet) found the time to study him. I have his Repetition and Difference which I've started several times but haven't got too far into. I've read a couple of papers by Lawlor contrasting him with Derrida. But as they say there are too many philosophers and not enough time. Right now I'm just too ignorant to say much.
"One question I've gotten a lot of the last while is why there aren't more religion posts. I'll try and rectify that. I tend to post on what I'm studying at the moment."
And you're not studying your scriptures daily? I tend to think you grew up Mormon, are comfortable with it, and try to sqeeze it in to your real interests. And I think that you think the answers to the mysteries of the universe are mostly places other than religion and you figure out how to work them into your beliefs as you go along. :)
You're going to make a fine atheist one day.
..that wasn't meant to be anonymous
Tanasije Gjorgoski has a page linking to online philosophy lectures.
Nice, although it's from last year and may be out of date.
AG, actually I originally thought the secrets of the universe were in physics. I became somewhat disillusioned for a time when I discovered how limited physics actually was. C'est la vie. As I've discussed here many times I don't think philosophy has access to the mysteries. And religion at best gives very vague answers and then not too many of those. (At least of the questions I find interesting)
I guess that's part of gaining maturity. Not having all the answers becomes something you much more inclined to live with.
Still I have that drive to learn it all which is why, once I'm able, I plan on going through the texts for string theory and lqg so I can follow the debates about the real mysteries. (grin)
Clark, are you a practicing Mormon?
Yeah. Why would you be surprised about that? Pretty much everything I argue for is very mainstream. I can't think of anything offhand I even believe out of the mainstream.
Would throwing the Dreyfus lectures up as a torrent not solve the issue?
(I downloaded several of them back when you were hosting them, then only managed to listen to the first lecture before I had to delete them for space. I've since picked up another 500 gigs in HD space. Up from 32.)
Thanks for the link. I only write as much as I do because I have committed myself to writing for an hour a day (from 10 - 11pm) on whatever philosophical argument has been running through my head in order to improve as a philosopher by doing philosophy. I don't think an hour a day is out of the reach of anyone, although I don't do a lot of TV watching or spend much time on entertainment in general, so maybe that gives me more time.
Drupal's getting more and more popular. My company's been using it as a CMS for sites since I started working there a couple years ago. It's fun. I'll be interested to see what you do with it. I've been wanting to have a personal install of it that I can mess with. We're looking at upgrading our sites to 5.0 now, a lot of good changes in the most recent release.
Well, I've not had enough time to dedicate to working on Drupal. I'm hoping next week I'll be able to do a lot more. I'm thinking of using it for a corporate blog as well.
Peter, that's a good idea of dedicating an hour. If only I had an hour! (lol) Maybe after the summer and we've got the company on solid ground. Right now we're still in the midst of things and making contacts. Part of the problem is that I not only want to write about philosophy but study philosophy. So I have to allocate time for reading and thinking. To me writing is forcing me to coalesce my thoughts into something a tad more rigorous. Sort of the equivalent of homework for us amateurs who've graduated school.
Daniel, my ISPs seem to block bit torrent. I plan on switching over to a different ISP. But with everything up in the air right now I probably won't. The other issue is that torrents really only work as a distribution channel if you have about 10 people always having it up on their computer. With something like this that's not really that likely.
Here are some interesting audio downloads from a seminar, entitled "Evolving Laws" at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Attendees to the seminar included Stuart Kauffman, Roberto Unger and Lee Smolin.
The link: www.perimeterinstitute.ca/Events/Evolving_Laws/Audio/
I bought the Peirce book you recommended. I am having some trouble reading it sympathetically. Any ideads?
Well, I suspect some of the basic concepts Peirce adopts such as his doctrine of continuity you may just not buy. So I'm not sure I can make you sympathetic to Peirce. At best I could answer questions.
As to the broader issue, that would make a great post. So I'll try to make one later today.
I did find a humorous way of understanding Peirce
Note that Peirce's taxonomy of threes arises out of rethinking Kant's categories but also out of formal logic. He showed that a four place logic could always be reduced but the one place, two place, and three place logics were irreducible. So a lot of this arises out of his work in formal logic.
I guess you just don't find ninja as funny as I do. Maybe you have to be from California.
I had to give up on Peirce for now. Perhaps you could offer some further pointers to help me see understand Peirce better and be more motivated to read more about his work.
Sorry you didn't like it. What I'll do is take the book with me to Canada and perhaps write some thoughts on it while I'm there. I'm surprised you had a negative view. I'm not sure I'd take Parker as arguing Peirce is wrong on infinities. But it definitely is a different way of doing it. Of course he is wrong on some matters. The terminology isn't that bad, I thought. There were only a few terms I found and the Peirce dictionary is good there. Fewer unique terms than most philosophers I read. Although maybe that just says something about whom I read.
As a clarification, I thought that Kelly Parker wrote well and did the best that he could. My post could be interpreted as being negative, but a better description of my attitude toward Peirce is simply confused and undecided. I was trying to give Parker the benefit of the doubt; he is writing as well as he could given the fragmented nature of Peirce's writings. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Peirce seemed to corroborate my view that the difficulty is due to the fragmentary nature of the Peirce corpus.
I know I am sounding like a broken record on this one, but it is very overwhelming trying to get a handle on Peirce's writings. I can't think of another philosopher whose works are even remotely this unorganized. Every other philosopher I can think of either produced a substantial amount of organized philosophy themselves or left a large body of relatively finished work to trusted disciples who were very qualified to edit and publish it.
In any case, I would appreciate any insights you have on my misunderstandings. I will most likely buy a Peirce reader which I hope will shed some more light on Peirce.
Peirce viewed philosophy as science. So he was constantly revising. For this reason while his early writings are suggestive, they have errors. Often he promotes a hypothesis that he feels further inquiry will validate or not. But you're right. He views philosophy like a physicist doing experiments and not the way most philosophers do. His quasi-scientific approach might be seen as a kind of anticipation of naturalized philosophy despite some huge differences.
I should add that his treatment of infinities is actually quite interesting. If I have time I'll write up a bit on it. He really has some very inventive solutions to problems. Once you see his approach and reasoning you'll see why he doesn't take the Cantor route.
But Peirce, despite I suppose seeking after a system, isn't a systematic philosopher. So if that's what you look for you'll always be disappointed.
A few of his major insights remain constant, because they work. (Although some this last century have quibbled with them) So his basic trichotomy of three categories to replace the Kantian categories is pretty stable. His interesting speculation on Being and Substance is ignored after his early writings. His conception of signs stays roughly the same but he goes into far more detail as he writes with arguably his 1904 stuff being most interesting. He does grasp for names and often changes his terminology. This can be frustrating but it is a sign of his attempting to make his ideas clear.
As for a philosopher who is more "disorganized." I think Schelling is far worse. (grin)
Another clarification. I was not saying that Peirce's thoughts are unorganized, but rather that his writings are unorganized, the one does not imply the other. I can handle unorganized thoughts, but the actual physical presentation should be easy to follow. For example Nietzsche's thoughts are pretty scattered, but his writings are easy to follow. Just start with The Birth of Tragedy and read chronologically from there. With Peirce the challenge is not only knowing what to start with, but knowing what he wrote is a significant challenge in and of itself.
Also, I expect a philosopher's thought to evolve. Plato, Kant, Wittgenstein, Hegel, etc. evolved their philosophies over time. But again with each of those philosophers I could with a bibliography and a short summary of their life and works start reading what they wrote. With Peirce this is not easy or obvious.
I guess I don't know what you mean by unorganized nor why you think this. They appear no more unorganized than say Quine's published articles. There are the main writings and then there are, for Peirce scholars, the collected works. Now the collected works of his unpublished writings are a tad disorganized. But that's more due to the folks who collected and published them than Peirce. I do agree though that the CP are pretty annoying. I think the EP collection or other collections like Peirce on Signs are fairly clear.