On Inexactness

Philosophy, and maybe even human thought as such, has long been a quest for exactness; for figuring out the exact nature of reality and the forces that shape it; for figuring out the exact workings of language; for figuring out the exact meaning of happiness, justice, and the good life. Us humans, we gauge, compute and quantify: “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”.[1] Give us a world and we’ll hold a yardstick to it. Show us a universe and we’ll show you our metrics. Nothing escapes the ruler, the meter, the stopwatch, the word. But how exact do we want these systems of representation – our measurements and language – to be? Are we beings of exactness? Not in an absolute sense, for sure; nor all the time, it would seem; and, in some regards, maybe not at all. In order to substantiate these claims, I’ll take you through some thoughts on statistics, language, and ethico-political philosophy.

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Beyond the philosophical toolbox:

Adopting the feminist philosophical approach in mainstream philosophy

The Philosophical Toolbox

Philosophy is characterised by a remarkable diversity of methods. From conceptual analysis and phenomenology to Taoist intuitionism or Sufist mysticism, philosophers throughout the ages and around the globe have developed a myriad of ways of doing philosophy. A common way of thinking about this diversity of philosophical methods is as a toolbox. Thought this way, each method is a different tool that can be taken up and wielded for a different purpose or to yield a different result.

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Is Lampje bewust?

Het is logisch onmogelijk ooit de binnenwereld van een ander te ervaren, en het is daarom even onmogelijk volledig zeker te weten dat deze binnenwereld bestaat. Als we wel de binnenwereld van een ander ervaren dan is dit niet meer de ander. Dit is het probleem van het epistemologisch solipsisme, en het plaagt al eeuwen de (vermoedelijke) geesten van vele denkers. [1] Zo schrijft antropoloog Jos de Mul in zijn boek Kunstmatig van nature:“een interessante vraag daarbij is wel hoe wij het verschil zouden kunnen zien tussen een robot met bewustzijn en een geestloze zombie.” [2] Om goed te beantwoorden, is ten minste één robot die onmiskenbaar kan denken uiterst handig: Lampje.

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Curing Despair

An analysis of the use of medication in depression through Kierkegaard

Besides my other numerous circle of acquaintances I have one more intimate confidant – my melancholy. In the midst of my joy, in the midst of my work, he waves to me, calls me to one side, even though physically I stay put. My melancholy is the most faithful mistress I have known; what wonder, then, that I love her in return. [1]

In the Diapsalmata there are a couple of small entries, musings if you will, which vary in subject matter. One of these talks about melancholy and the familiarity with it, the way in which you can feel so at home with something that is destructive. It is something that I recognize, painfully so, and it struck a chord with me. There is something soothing in giving yourself over to this melancholy because it knows you so well and you it. However, there is also a part that wishes to break free of this relationship, but that part needs some help which can be found in the use of medication. 

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