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1. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Michael W. Dunne General Editor’s Foreword
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2. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
John Haydn Gurmin Issue Editor’s Introduction
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3. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Notes on Contributors
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4. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Michael Dunne Evil and Indifference
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This article is a personal reflection on the question of the importance of human experience regarding suffering and death. It is also a reflection on the paradoxical indifference that many feel with regard to the suffering of others. It concludes, after an examination of some of the major thinkers on the topic, that we may well be forced to concede that to this question we may possibly be unable to give an answer.
5. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Alan Forde A Response to Yablo’s Ontological Fictionalism
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In a series of recent articles Stephen Yablo argues the case for mathematical fictionalism on the basis that a Quinean approach to ontology is undermined by an indeterminacy about which objects we should be committed to. Yablo has developed a series of semantic models purporting to show that there is no principled way to separate out genuine from apparent ontological commitments. In this paper I focus on his argument that mathematical discourse is metaphorical. I argue that Yablo’s criticism relies on a misunderstanding of the status of Quine’s naturalised ontology. In particular, the indeterminacy Yablo identifies in ontology is common place in all scientific theories, and just as it is not a sufficient reason for abandoning any other scientific theory so is it not sufficient to abandon ontology. I conclude by arguing that Yablo’s presentation of fictionalism as a return to a Carnap style ‘quizzical’ attitude to ontology is equally problematic.
6. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
John Haydn Gurmin Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris: An Analysis of Free Will and Determinism
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The question of free will is a perennial one. With new insights from modern science much reflection is given again to the problem of determinism, and the possibility of human freedom. Richard Dawkins argues that our genes need to be taken into account when considering the question of whether we are free. Daniel Dennett argues for free will from within the context of an evolutionary framework, thereby giving freedom a naturalistic grounding. Both these thinkers operate from within the neo-Darwinian framework, allowing for the possibility of freedom, against the backdrop of determinism/materialism. One other thinker arising out of the neo-Darwinian framework is the neuroscientist Sam Harris. In his publication Free Will, Harris argues that the concept of free will is incoherent, he appeals to arguments from neuroscience to ‘prove’ that we are not free, outlining that the content of experience is not a free choice, the content is produced out of a complex interaction with the individual, and the environment. For a human being to truly have a free choice, Harris argues we would need to be given access to everything that gives rise to the choice. As Harris draws from findings in neuroscience, discussion will be given to the question of Benjamin Libet’s famous neurological experiment, and the wider discussion of consciousness. The paper argues for the possibility of a compatibilist model of free will in line with Dawkins and Dennett’s approach. Concluding that the naturalist model of explanation has a lot of detail to furnish before it could be proven that free will is an illusion.
7. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Yinya Liu Discussion of the Ethical Significance of Language in the Philosophy of Heidegger and Levinas
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This article investigates the ethical significance of language in relation to Heidegger and Levinas’s thought. It first examines the prerequisites of the discussion of language based on the concepts of Being (Heidegger) and the Other (Levinas). Then, it deals with the concept of time as an essential element in understanding language. Thirdly, it compares Heidegger’s ontological-language and Levinas’s ethical-language, highlighting Levinas’s critique of Heidegger’s ethical deficiency, especially in Heidegger’s articulation on language. The paper argues that Levinas’s emphasis on the priority and exteriority of the Other in our relation to language both reveals and replaces Heidegger’s mystical significance of language as ‘the House of Being’.
8. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Denise Ryan Avicenna (980-1037) on the Internal Senses, Emanation and Human Intellect
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The focus of this paper is on Avicenna’s treatment of the nature and possibility of human knowledge, paying particular attention to his theory of imagination and his theory of the intellect. Despite his dualistic approach to the nature of the human being, Avicenna can be interpreted as positing a link, albeit a weak link, between the body and mind. Avicenna develops the Aristotelian conception of imagination by positing five internal senses. An examination of each of the five senses will be helpful in understanding Avicenna’s theory of imagination more clearly and his views on the relationship between body and soul.
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9. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Declan Kavanagh Beyond Toleration: Queer Theory and Heteronormativity
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The recent widespread transformation in the conjugal rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people across much of the globe may seem to suggest that, at long last, the history of heterosexism has reached its terminus. In Ireland, the Equal Marriage Referendum in May 2015 offered the opportunity for the citizens of the Republic to extend the same rights, permissions, and privileges to same-sex couples that married heterosexual couples freely enjoy. The passing of that referendum and the extension of these rights to same-sex couples denotes a move beyond societal tolera6tion toward societal acceptance, yet it remains to be seen whether or not the affordance of conjugal rights to LGBT people will necessarily mean that all queer subjects will be given the same acceptance.This article examines equal marriage and its potential engendering of binary divisions between queer subjects who adhere to the logic of cultural heteronormativity and those who transgress its structuring forces. It aims to historicise the discourse that surrounds gay marriage by tracing these debates back to the Enlightenment's production of the companionate marriage. The works of Edmund Burke, his aesthetic writings and political speeches, provide the textual basis for an examination of 'normative desire' in the eighteenth century. The article contends that assessing the eighteenth century's regime of heteronormativity will allow us to see the provisional nature of our own heterosexist cultural formations.
10. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Steven Lydon Nietzsche’s Interpretation of Chladni’s Sound Figures
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Friedrich Nietzsche's reference to Ernst Chladni in ‘On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense’ (1873) could easily be overlooked as a casual analogy. Yet it emerges from a systematic engagement with the nascent field of acoustics. Chladni was among the discipline's founding fathers, having honed the application of rigorous empirical testing to sound and music. His name is most enduringly associated with the discovery of the 'sound figures', which rendered sound visible for the first time. To produce them, Chladni scattered sand onto a metal sheet. A note was then emitted by playing a violin bow against its side. The resulting oscillations prompted the sand to settle in a range of symmetrical patterns. The natural beauty of the shapes made them quite famous. Yet they also represented a mystery. Though the formula for calculating the oscillation of single strings was reliable, it could not easily be reconciled with oscillation in two dimensions. In lieu of an explanation, the sound figures became the object of speculative attention. Their existence posed a difficulty for the quantitative ontology of rationalist metaphysics. The inheritors of Schelling, for example, saw in the sound figures an undeciphered language of nature. But Nietzsche was implacably opposed to this position: for him, nature contains no inherent meaning, no rational order, and no divine teleology. The ‘book of nature’ was at best an anthropomorphic projection, and at worst a theological dogma. Thus reframed, Chladni's sound figures confront us not with the infinite mystery of nature, but our own cognitive impotence. The following essay therefore elaborates the provenance of Nietzsche's sound figure analogy: a rare intersection of scientific experiment and speculative philosophy.