Presentation at Reading, Jan. 2013

Presentation at Reading, Jan. 2013

2010年3月19日 星期五

The Qualm concerning Determinism and Quantum Physics

Or worse, "determinism" itself is annoying enough. Most of us can be pretty sure that skepticism about knowledge and the external world is wrong, but still enjoy pinning down where it goes wrong exactly. But this is not true of determinism. Upon reflection, it is easy to find out that our concept of "freedom" is a mess. It is not that arguments for determinism are impeccable; the real trouble is that as a philosopher who believes in free will, I cannot have a clear yet substantial notion of free will. Whenever it goes substantial, it is ruled out by determinism. I have encountered several intricate counter-arguments against determinism, e.g. David Lewis's one, but still, it is difficult to be comfortable with the results. I side with Sellars and McDowell that the Space of Reasons is sui generis, but I feel hopeless when it comes to details.
Maybe Pascal's Wager can come to a rescue here. Maybe we should bet that we are free:
if determinism is false, then good for us; if determinism is true, then we are determined to bet on free will anyway. Maybe it is not a coincidence that both the existence of God and free will are postulates in Kant's system. God.
I do not consider compatibilism here, since I think "freedom" in compatibilism is always too thin. This is controversial, to be sure.
But sometimes to bet on determinism makes one feel better; for example, consider the case in which all the admission decisions are determined before we exist.

2010年3月18日 星期四

"Mental Episodes"

"Mental episodes" is a term made popular by Wilfrid Sellars (correct me if I am wrong). I like to use it to cover mental states, events, and processes - they are of course different, but sometimes we want to talk about them without involving metaphysical implications immediately. I am interested in both the nature of mental episodes in general and the contents of my own mental episodes in particular. I predict that I will write about both of them here in the future, but I am not sure.
One kind of mental episodes I possess recently is pretended indifference to those postal rejections, by the way.

2010年3月16日 星期二

Why "Drinking Saké with God"

"Saké" is a kind of Japanese alcoholic beverage that I like. You could find a pretty good entry of it on Wiki. And I don't really believe in God, but I am not going to explain why I am not a Christian. That said, I would like to say something about the name of this blog.
I am applying to philosophy graduate school for the entry of fall 2010 (I will say more about this after I get all the results). If you do not have any idea about how difficult it is, let me illustrate it with a quote from an anonymous writer: "
Yale law school gets roughly 2000 applications each year and admits 200 students, and that it's the best, most selective law school in the country. Cornell's philosophy department got 300 applications, and admitted 4, and they're ranked 17. 10% vs 1.3%."
Now, I am lucky enough to get admitted by University College, London, but almost shut out by the U.S. programs. For some reasons, I still prefer studying in the U.S., but the waiting is just too torturous, so at some point I shouted to myself, "just go to London for God's sake!" And suddenly the name of this blog came to mind. I noticed the "sake/Saké" pair long time ago, and now it's time to bring it on stage.
But the name also has a meaning distinct from its origin. By "God," I mean something like fate, though again I have no faith in it. Nevertheless, we agnosticists still often have conversations with "God" (whatever that means) when we feel despair. I am pretty despair at this point, so let's drinking
Saké with God. You are invited, but no pressure.