Philosophical Investigations – Free Special Issue

Virtual Issue: Philosophical Investigations from past to present

Founded in 1978 and associated with the British Wittgenstein Society, Philosophical Investigations is published quarterly by Wiley-Blackwell. This international journal features articles, discussions, critical notices and reviews covering every branch of philosophy. Whether focusing on traditional or on new aspects of the subject, it offers thought-provoking articles and maintains a lively readership with an acclaimed discussion section and wide-ranging book reviews.

In this exciting virtual issue, the editorial team have selected some of the best articles, critical notices and reviews published in Philosophical Investigations from 1980 to the present day. We are confident that you will find this virtual issue interesting and informative. See below for a full list of articles, critical notices and reviews. Continue reading “Philosophical Investigations – Free Special Issue”

Machine vs. Afterlife

Well-known scientist Stephen Hawking gave a rather controversial interview recently. Saying that there is no afterlife to look forward to, classifying this as a fairy tale arose a lot of criticism and controversy.

He isn’t the first notable person trying to detach from the conscience of people the image of the luxuriant Eden Garden promised after death. Paradisiacal notions are cross-cultural, often laden with pastoral imagery, and may be cosmological or eschatological or both.

But these words coming from one of the most respected people in history – transmitted by means of a special technology which transforms thoughts in sounds – gave another meaning.

This is the frequent statement of a scientist. He’s not saying “God isn’t real”, he’s only saying there is no need of God to explain the world. This is a scientific allegation, with its foundation back in time: in the theory of Occam’s razor to be specific: We should seek the greatest value of our action. The idea born in the Middle Age asserts that we shouldn’t multiply hypothesis in order to explain a phenomenon.

The same thing is said by Hawking – implying that modern physics doesn’t need a God means it would be an over and above hypothesis in this system of explaining the world.

For most religions, Paradise is the image of a non-spatial, non-temporal, fairy-like place, where only the ones who live their lives accordingly to the moral code of each religion wind up. Psychiatrist Irvin Yalom believes that human beings are cabled to the fear of death and because of this fear they invented philosophy and religion, but also a fairytale terminology.

I think the phantasm of immortality is a mental construct necessary to the human condition which helps them deal more easily with all the bad things that happen and also counter-attacks the fear of death and the relationship between the individual and the world.

However, a scientist who refuses the religious horizon is disqualified. It’s like a scientist that rejects from the start a hypothesis. But what is science if not the disclosure to any hypothesis until the discovery that it can or can not be sustained. On the other part, asked by the interviewer “If this is the situation, what can we do?” he responded :

“We should seek the greatest value of our action.”

And how is this different form any other moral percept of religions?

Related articles:

Does Nirvana have a Neural Signature?
Population Pessimism

Achieving Immortality.

HAL9000: A ready and easy way to become immortal.

I once read a quote by John Cottingham, a philosopher famous in the field, and perhaps out of the field, of philosophy, about philosophy and the meaning of life. To paraphrase, it went something like; “People are often drawn to philosophy to find answers to the big questions. If someone finds themselves reading philosophy hoping to find an answer to the question “What is the meaning of life?”, they will most likely be sorely disappointed.” I would have to agree.

It is this thought people should have in mind when reading about immortality and what philosophy may have to say about it. Philosophy does from time to time discuss the subject, though usually this discussion is about the morality of such a concept, rather than the ability to actually achieve it. Continue reading “Achieving Immortality.”

Do you really want to live forever?: The Science of Immortality

The immortality of the soul has been on the philosophical agenda arguably since day one. On the scientific agenda, however, it registers fairly low down. Until now, that is. In his new book, The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death, political philosopher John Gray explores the history of scientific attempts to prove the existence of, and to even achieve, immortality. A history, it seems, that is more rich and contemporary than one might at first expect of the traditionally pragmatic and non-metaphysical subject.

In a lengthy article for the Guardian, Gray gives a summary of some of the more eyebrow raising events which go to make up this particular part of the history of science. The first is the reaction of post-Darwinian scientists, who for one reason or another felt compelled to respond to the anti-spiritualist worldview that Darwin’s work entailed. They did so by meticulously examining thousands of automatic-writing scripts – a popular phenomena in 19th century clairvoyance whereby the medium channels a spirit in such a way that a message from beyond can be written out – in search for evidence that might suggest their authenticity, such as information about the purportedly channeled spirit that would otherwise be unknown to the medium, or the occurrence of “cross-overs”, where separate mediums appear to be channelling the same thing independently of each other. Continue reading “Do you really want to live forever?: The Science of Immortality”