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Showing posts from November, 2012

In defense of a Heraclitean Aenesidemus

I'm preparing the final version of my text on neopirrhonism and the ontology of doubts. In other words, about the whereabouts of Aenesidemus' thought. I guess there is a way to think about the epistemology of the polemos that makes it somehow less vulnerable to Sextus' charge of dogmatism (in PH 210-12). Such an epistemology of the polemos could start out with a new anarcheological fragment of Heraclitus (in my recent book Heráclito - Exercícios de Anarqueologia, São Paulo, Idéias e Letras, 2012). It reads more or less like this: 131. There is polemos where we don't expect, not only in weapons but also in the surprise produced by polemos itself, in the temptation for polemos and in the knowledge we acquire of it. The message: knowledge of polemos is itself ridden with polemos. It is not that we are contemplating the workings of the doubts from outside, like a dogmatic who holds a conviction as something that stands beyond the waves of doubt. An ontology of doubt infor

Deferring and coupling

Thinking a bit about infinite regresses in justification. My argument in a paper I published recently in this blog (otherwise unpublished and five years old...!) was that when I say I have a good reason (a good justification, a reliable process etc) I am somehow deferring and coupling, that is, deferring to a reason that I endorse and coupling my belief to an existing and accepted chain of reasons. The issue, of course, is whether I can buy the justification of my belief by coupling it to an infinite chain of reasons or by deferring to an infinite process. I don't know. But it is interesting to bite the bullett and claim that there is nothing else to justification than good deferral and good coupling. That is, deferral to a commonly accepted reason and coupling to a commonly accepted (infinite) chain. After all, justification always makes appeal to accepted reasons. These reasons can be out there in chains and processes and to justify could be no more than to accommodate a belief t

Aenesidemus of Knossos and the ontology of doubts

I am in a small conference in honor of Porchat, a Brazilian Neopyrronist. I’m proposing (in my paper today) a reading of Neopyrronism. I maintain that common sense claims (together with some commonly accepted scientific theories or commonly known philosophical disputes) can be accepted by the sceptic only in order to fuel his exercise of doubting. The Neopyrronist takes something like the opposite of a speculative flight. She accepts a basis of science or common sense in order to doubt further. The goal is to maximize doubts. The basis (the Neopyrronist phenomenon) is contingent, it can be anything because any determination can enable further exercises of doubt to take off. Instead of flying towards broader vistas, the Neopyrronist strives to gain further and deeper doubts. She aims to apply her strategies for epokhé further and, in that sense, harbors an atitude where doubts are more worth seeking than belief. She craves to make more use of her weapons that include her doubting mac

My new reading of Neopyrronism

Today I presented this paper in honor to professor Oswaldo Porchat, in an event in São Paulo celebrating his 80th birthday. The paper was given in Portuguese. In the next post I kind of summarize the argument in English. O lugar da atitude neopirrônica Dúvida, determinação e ontologia Um dos procedimentos mais comuns para exorcizar a dúvida generalizada é a de insistir que toda dúvida tem pressupostos. A insistência é de que qualquer suspenção de juízo requereria que se assumisse algum ônus de prova. A dúvida, essa seria a ideia, tem também que pagar o custo do transporte – e o pagamento é feito em convicções. Este procedimento aparece de diferentes formas – na forma de indicações das condições de possibilidade do pensamento empírico, na forma de análise dos procedimentos subjacentes à atividade de duvidar, na forma de considerações acerca da presunção de verdade de uma parte considerável de uma massa crítica de crenças inteligíveis. Em todos os casos, o procedimento tenta imp

An old paper on infinitism and Eduardo Barrio's reply

Some five odd years ago I wrote a bit on infinitism comparing infinite sequences of justifications and truth conditions. The paper never got published but Eduardo Barrio presented a response to it in Spanish to the Curitiba meeting of the Brazilian group of Pyrrhonists. I publish both texts below while wondering what to do with all this discussion. Recursive infinite sequences of justifications Infinite sequences of justifications have been often dismissed as a somehow inadequate way to justify beliefs. That justification requires infinite sequences can be argued by an argument (A) around the following lines (from 1-3 to 4): 1. A belief is justified only if a justified belief is a reason for it. 2. There are justified beliefs. 3. The proper ancestral of the reason-relation is irreflexive. 4. There is an infinite sequence of justified beliefs each of which is a reason for its predecessor. Attempts to resist 4 (and A) are motivated by taking 4 to be unacceptable. The argument

Urges and virtuality

The notion of attractor - associated to vector fields - is a central element of the way Delanda presents Deleuze's virtuality. In fact, it is a central element to be considered in a process ontology: actual entities create fields of attraction that would have something to do, I believe, with what Whitehead calls nexus. Attractors guide trajectories - this guiding would entail some sort of instantiation only if the rest of the world is subtracted. Virtuality has to do with the rest of the world - just like any synthetic a posteriori judgment can be taken to be virtual because it depends on the rest of the world. The pattern, of course, is familiar to process philosophers: to bring to ontology what is presented as an epistemological feature. (Contrast this with some kinds of anti-realist move that would do the opposite movement.) Here, modeling can fail to be implemented because it points at the virtual - at attractors - and therefore predictions can fail. Other parts of the world c