Fun and Games with Minds and Brains

There have been a bunch of interesting comments already on my post on Mind/Brain division, so I'm pulling some out here to reply to in depth. dcb wrote I have to agree that this is a hard sell to me. I am not an atheist, so perhaps there is something big that I am missing, but if the physical basis for the you-program is lost, in what sense is the "ported" version still you? Sure, it might think it is you, but wouldn't that be basically a figment of its reconstructed imagination?  This … [Read more...]

Picking an Atheist’s Brain… er… Mind

Over at The Warfare is Mental, blogger cl was perplexed by a recent comment of Luke's at Common Sense Atheism.  Luke wrote: What tools do you use when you think philosophically about God or morality or other subjects? Among other tools, you use your mind. Knowing how the mind works can help you do philosophy better, just as knowing how a camera works can make you a better photographer. Prompting cl to ask: If you are an atheist, do you think it’s accurate to use the term mind? I understand … [Read more...]

Reading and Praying… One of those I can do.

The new school term has started, so I've been going through the list of suggestion posted here and at Mark Shea's blog in response to my offer to let you pick my religion-related New Year's Resolutions. [UPDATE: The full list of suggested books is now up] I've looked through all the suggestions, and, except for a few exceptions, they fall into two categories:  try prayer and read [book].  I'm going to post the list of books I'm looking at (though I'll probably have to cull) by morning, … [Read more...]

Ethics Without Other People are Empty

I don’t understand ethical systems or teleology meant for humans that doesn’t talk about our relationships to other humans. That, in a nutshell, is why I hated Steve Antinoff’s Spiritual Atheism. Antinoff tries to find a way for atheists to live without God. He writes ”Spiritual atheism begins with a triple realization: that our experience of ourselves and our world leaves us ultimately dissatisfied, that our dissatisfaction is intolerable and must be broken through, and that there … [Read more...]

Where can I find atheists arguing about ethics?

After reading “What Atheists and Republican Strategists Have in Common.” one anonymous commenter took issue with my assumption that popular atheists try to act as philosophers. It's true that there are tough discussions that need to be had, but I think you give the average atheist - even the average outspoken atheist - too much credit. You're a bit too quick to discount the possibility that many atheists really don't have any philosophy because they've never had any curiosity about … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (1/7/11)

School starts on Monday!  So that's when I'll be posting my responses to the New Year's Challenge and listing the challenges I'll take on.  This weekend, I'll have a book post up, but for right now, I'm exhausted from the terrible task of cleaning my room (especially since I was in the middle of a paper when I left, and I just tossed things on the floor and the bed, locked up and ran).  So today's Quick Takes are just some photos of posters, etc in my room. --1-- This poster on my dorm … [Read more...]

The Purpose Paradox

My ability to recognize purposefulness is incredibly contingent on my ability to understand the natural world and to understand other minds.  I have to have a decent theory of the limitations of natural processes to be able to recognize objects/processes that transcend them.  Lukas's example of pulsars is apt.  Until scientists realized that there could be stars that naturally emitted radio wave bursts at regular intervals, many of them reasonably wondered if they could be a signal from an … [Read more...]

God as an Epileptic Tree

This is a guest post, part of a series of guest posts addressing the question of whether we can discern purposefulness in the natural world.  As such the opinions expressed below are highly likely not to reflect my opinions, as you're sure to hear in more detail later this week. Today's post is by Eli, who currently blogs at Rust Belt Philosophy. I've been asked to write today about whether or not we can "discern purposefulness, and from that infer a purposeful agent." Lukas … [Read more...]

You Think You’re So Special?

This is a guest post, part of a series of guest posts addressing the question of whether we can discern purposefulness in the natural world.  As such the opinions expressed below are highly likely not to reflect my opinions, as you're sure to hear in more detail later this week. Today's post is by March Hare, who has previously blogged at Reasonable Doubt. You are a highly unlikely creature. The fact all your body works together is amazing, how is it all your cells know what to do … [Read more...]

Tech Support: Is there a way to turn off spam filtering in Blogger?

Can anyone help me find a way to disable Blogger's spam filter for comments?  Since it was rolled out, it's primarily caught legitimate comments on this blog.  I usually moderate comments from my phone, using email alerts, but those notifications don't let me know whether any given comment was actually published or whether it's sitting in the spam filter.  As a result, I have to keep popping over to blogger to check the spam quarantine, and I would prefer not to. Any advice? … [Read more...]