99 posts

"Socrates," by Mitch Francis

Socrates in Plato’s Apology

Our text comes from Plato: The Collected Dialogues (17a to 42a), Eds. Huntington and Cairns. Trans. Hugh Tredennick. Princeton University Press, 1961. 4-26. I have included some section headings from Jowett’s translation. I’ve used a highlighter so that you should be able to read the marked portions for an overview on your first look through.Numerals styled like thisreflect 16th century “Stephanus pagination”, still standard for references.I indicate where my commentary ends by using our writer’s avatar where the primary text begins:
"Plato," by Mitch Francis

Plato’s Republic

Our selections come from the common Jowett translation of Plato’s Republic. For further study, I recommend C.D.C. Reeve’s better, albeit non-free, translation for Hackett Publishing, from 2004. Numerals styled like thisreflect 16th century “Stephanus pagination”, still standard for references. I’ve inserted speaker-labels (e.g., Socrates) to indicate the flow of dialogue — even in cases where Socrates is reporting what the speaker said. Once characters are established, I thin them out. I indicate where my commentary ends by using our writer’s avatar where the primary text begins:

Timothy Leary (Los Angeles, 1989)

How to Operate Your Brain: An Owner’s Manual

I just saw Limitless (which was ponderously provocative), and recalled this Leary piece. by Timothy Leary You might catch yourself sliding in and out … relax and enjoy it. This is an experiment in mind formation, in-formation, forming, controlling, operating your mind and your brain, using digital techniques to overload, scramble, confuse, unfocus your mind. The natural state of the brain is chaos. We’re dealing with a complexity of in-formation. The first thing to do is to overwhelm your focused mind, your linear mind, by overloading signals, digital patterns, clusters of photons and electrons which produce a pleasant state of […]

Well-Known Philosophy Majors

by Brendan Lalor I believe it was the good philosophers at Belmont University, who started the list of well-known people who were philosophy majors. The folks at at Eastern Kentucky University added significantly to the list. The list is reprinted below. And Catherine Nolan has created a “Philosophy Majors” poster. [gview file=”” save=”0″] I’ll take any additions you may want to submit, along with the documentation. What Can I Do With a Philosophy Degree? The truth is; you can do ANYTHING with your degree. But don’t take our word for it – the following is a list of people, all […]

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”

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 that […]

Republicans Outnumbered in Academia, Studies Find

[ It could be that more academics are liberal because that’s what (generally) happens to people who devote their lives to the expansion of the mind. Thanks to Michael Roselius for passing this article along. –BL ] November 18, 2004 | New York Times by JOHN TIERNEY BERKELEY, Calif. – At the birthplace of the free speech movement, campus radicals have a new target: the faculty that came of age in the 60’s. They say their professors have been preaching multiculturalism and diversity while creating a political monoculture on campus. Conservatism is becoming more visible at the University of California here, […]

New Tack Wins Prisoner’s Dilemma

[ For more on the Prisoner’s Dilemma, visit Serge Helfrich’s page. Thanks to Jared Childers for forwarding the article. –BL ] Oct. 13, 2004 | Wired by Wendy M. Grossman Proving that a new approach can secure victory in a classic strategy game, a team from England’s Southampton University has won the 20th-anniversary Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma competition, toppling the long-term winner from its throne. The Southampton group, whose primary research area is software agents, said its strategy involved a series of moves allowing players to recognize each other and act cooperatively.

Can I Get a Job With a Philosophy Degree?

by Brendan Lalor If you want to “be all you can be” as a human being, it’s hard to imagine a more practical course of training than the study of philosophy. As Aristotle argued, philosophical activity — reflective, appreciative understanding of and speculation about the world — is conducive to the most fulfilling life. Hence, philosophy is a perfectly practical area of study for people who care to live good lives. But even we philosophers have to consider the other sort of “practical” use of philosophy more closely tied to employment and economic considerations. Not an MBA, a Philosophy degree […]


excerpted from the American Philosophical Association’s Philosophy: A Brief Guide for Undergraduates General Uses of Philosophy Much of what is learned in philosophy can be applied in virtually any endeavor. This is both because philosophy touches on so many subjects and, especially, because many of its methods are usable in any field. General Problem Solving. The study of philosophy enhances, in a way no other activity does, one’s problem-solving capacities. It helps one to analyze concepts, definitions, arguments and problems. It contributes to one’s capacity to organize ideas and issues, to deal with questions of value, and to extract what […]

How to Get to the Top — Study Philosophy

Questions of Principle 2 January 1990 | Globe and Mail [Toronto] by Thomas Hurka CALGARY – How should Canada educate students to compete successfully in the business world? Some provincial governments think it is by teaching them business. The Alberta government has announced plans for an “unprecedented” expansion of business education at its three universities. Already, 120 extra students are studying management at the University of Calgary. Recent evidence suggests this approach is mistaken. We will produce better managers if we educate them first in traditional subjects in the arts and sciences. We may do best of all of we […]

Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life And in Work

26 December 1997 | New York Times by CAROL MARIE CROPPER CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – What can you do with a philosophy degree? In an age of M.B.A.’s and computer scientists, more than 4,000 American college students graduate each year with a bachelor’s degree in the ancient discipline. Sometimes their parents and friends wonder what will happen to them. One thing is certain: Not many of them will go on to make a living as philosophers. Even those who persevere through a doctorate may wind up doing something else. More than 1,000 people with Ph.D’s in philosophy applied for the 448 […]

Role of Letter Order in Parsing Language

by Brendan Lalor This is posted various places around the net. I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty esdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer inwaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig […]

To Beat the Market: Hire a Philosopher

10 January 1999 | The New York Times by EDWARD WYATT BALTIMORE, Md. — Perhaps it is the references to the fiction of Jorge Luis Borges, the late Argentine author whose metaphysical imagery he uses to illustrate a point about price-to-earnings ratios. Or maybe it is the nods to the philosophy of William James, whose theories are called upon to justify why America Online is a value stock. Certainly some hint is in the “thought experiments” that he calls upon his staff to perform. Spend even a few minutes talking with William H. Miller III and it becomes clear that […]