Yearly Archives: 2008

13 posts

Artist's Jack / Fight Club

Fight Club: Marx & Hegel in the Pitt

[oohcol] by Brendan Lalor, 2000 How much can you really know about yourself if you never go at it, one-on-one? — Tyler Durden Fight Club (1999, FOX), Chuck Palahniuk’s book-turned-film, is about the struggle to overcome alienation, most profoundly, alienation from oneself. In the film, this is most obviously played out in the life of the unnamed protagonist and narrator (played by Edward Norton and called ‘Jack’ in the script), and his alter-ego, Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt). Jack is an insomniac, numbed by his formulaic job. His strategy for finding fulfillment consists of a two-pronged lived lie: he […]

I Heart Huckabees: Albert and Tommy

I Sartre Huckabees

Disclosure: As a philosopher, I received complimentary tickets. And hey, I did draft this piece in 2005. It’s not over-polished; but I like it. [clear][phil][oohcol class=”show-display-posts”] Introduction The one-time first comment about I Heart Huckabees (2004) on the Internet Movie Database read: “Risky, inventive & not totally successful film – enjoyable even if it made very little sense to me.” My aim here may seem a little paradoxical: in explaining what sense the film makes, I explain why it is a viewer’s own fault if the film lacked sense. Beyond the masterfully crafted characters and the trove of wonderful one-liners […]

About Brendan Lalor

Brendan Lalor Associate Professor, Philosophy Coordinator Biography I became a full time philosopher at Castleton University in Vermont in 2008, after teaching for a decade at the University of Central Oklahoma. My teaching career started over the border, though, in Albany, NY at the College of Saint Rose, where I taught Ancient Philosophy. I specialize in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. But my interests include existentialism, philosophy of emotion, social and political philosophy, ecological philosophy, philosophy of technology, and some philosophy of language. I enjoy music, hiking, amateur mycology, food, and gardening. My “Navigator Stout” once placed fourth in the […]

Bricks from Hoboken

It Is What You Think: Intentional Potency and Anti-Individualism

Brendan Lalor. Philosophical Psychology 10, 165-178, 1997. ABSTRACT. In this paper I argue against the worried view that intentional properties might be epiphenomenal. In naturalizing intentionality we ought to reject both the idea that causal powers of intentional states must supervene on local microstructures, and the idea that local supervenience justifies worries about intentional epiphenomenality since our states could counterfactually lack their intentional properties and yet have the same effects. I contend that what’s wrong with even the good guys (e.g. Dennett, Dretske, Allen) is that they implicitly grant that causal powers supervene locally. Finally, I argue that once we […]

Swamp-Man #2 cover

Swampman, Etiology, and Content

Brendan Lalor. Southern Journal of Philosophy 36, 215-232, 1998. Abstract. There is a clash between (i) the intuition that the states of a randomly materialized double of me, Swampman, would have intentional content, and (ii) the best teleosemantical accounts of the metaphysical constitution of content. I argue for a position which is sufficiently liberal about content constitution to allow that Swampman’s states immanently become contentful, but conservative enough to honor what’s essential to good teleosemantics – namely, respect for the following etiological constraint: Content must supervene on structures for whose continued presence there is a function-bestowing causal reason. 1. Swampman […]

Charles Sanders Peirce

The Classification of Peirce’s Interpretants

Brendan Lalor. Semiotica 114-1/2, 31-40, 1997. Note: Thomas Short wrote a response to my article in the Transactions of the Charles Sanders Peirce Society (1996, “Interpreting Peirce’s Interpretant: A Response to Lalor, Liszka, and Meyers,” 32:4, pp. 488-541) Abstract. After characterizing the role of the interpretant in semiosis, I consider two passages in which Peirce makes a threefold division of interpretants, one from 1906, one from 1909. Then I suggest that Thomas Short and others are wrong in holding that in the two passages, Peirce put forward two completely separate trichotomies. Instead, I argue that the 1906 trichotomy is in […]

I ♥ Qualia

Intentionality and Qualia

Brendan Lalor. Synthese 121, 249-289, 1999 (pre-publication version). ABSTRACT. I defend a species of wide intentionalism about the phenomenal appearance of color and qualitative features of experience generally; I’ll lay it out in section 2. In section 3, I explain some of the main challenges to my intentionalism and some preliminary qualms about these arguments for nonintentionalism. Then in 4, I introduce an intentionalist form of internalism about qualia, and explain its inadequacies. Finally, section 5 consists of an extended defense of my theory of the phenomenal in which I make it plausible that qualitative content is not locally supervenient, […]

Semantic Drift

Rethinking Kaplan’s ‘Afterthoughts’ about ‘That’: An Exorcism of Semantical Demons

Brendan Lalor. Erkenntnis 47, 67-88, 1997 (pre-publication version) Abstract. Kaplan (1977) proposes a neo-Fregean theory of demonstratives which, despite its departure from a certain problematic Fregean thesis, I argue, ultimately founders on account of its failure to give up the Fregean desideratum of a semantic theory that it provide an account of cognitive significance. I explain why Kaplan’s (1989) afterthoughts don’t remedy this defect. Finally, I sketch an alternative nonsolipsistic picture of demonstrative reference which idealizes away from an agent’s narrowly characterizable psychological state, and instead relies on the robust multiply realizable relation between the skilled agent and demonstrated object. […]

Eleanor Rosch, UC Berkeley cognitive psychologist

Rosch’s “Principles of Categorization”

[topbuttons class=”autop”][oohcol]by Eleanor Rosch, University of California, Berkeley, 1978 Readings in Cognitive Science, a Perspective from Psychology and Artificial Intelligence, Allan Collins & Edward E. Smith, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Mateo, California, 1988, pp 312-322. The following is a taxonomy of the animal kingdom. It has been attributed to an ancient Chinese encyclopedia entitled the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge: On those remote pages it is written that animals are divided into (a) those that belong to the Emperor, (b) embalmed ones, (c) those that are trained, (d) suckling pigs, (e) mermaids, (f) fabulous ones, (g) stray dogs, (h) those […]

Half a World Away, Kenya Exults at U.S. Outcome

There was a moment after 9/11 when the world’s attitude toward the United States was one of solidarity. Many of us were deeply grieved that Bush turned his back on the world, and fanned the flames of hatred-based fear of the Other instead. So soon, it seems, we have come upon another such rare moment in U.S. history, and the world again feels solidarity with us, only this time, not in mourning with us, but in celebration of our step in the direction of moral progress. “If America can elect a black man, then why can’t Kenya shun tribalism and […]

My candidate, myself

Even when faced with new facts and insights, most voters don’t change their minds about their favorite candidates. A neurologist explains how they might. Sept. 22, 2008 | Salon.com by Robert Burton “Let’s make sure that there is certainty during uncertain times” — George W. Bush, 2008 Last week, I jokingly asked a health club acquaintance whether he would change his mind about his choice for president if presented with sufficient facts that contradicted his present beliefs. He responded with utter confidence. “Absolutely not,” he said. “No new facts will change my mind because I know that these facts are […]

The New Economics of Hunger

[P]rices for corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, rice and other grains began shooting through the roof… food [is] becoming the new gold…. For the 1 billion living on less than a dollar a day, it is a matter of survival. In a mud hut on the Sahara’s edge, Manthita Sou, a 43-year-old widow in the Mauritanian desert village of Maghleg, is confronting wheat prices that are up 67 percent on local markets in the past year. Her solution: stop eating bread…. The root cause of price surges varies from crop to crop. But the crisis is being driven in part by […]