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Episteme Vol. I


"An Analysis of the Dilemma of Protagoras and Euathlus and the Librarian's Paradox" by Kelly G. Smith

The author of this paper emphasizes the complex thinking demanded by dilemmas and paradoxes. To make her case, she provides detailed analyses of the Protagoras and Euathlus dilemma as well as the librarian’s paradox. In an imagined dialogue between a supporter of Protagoras and a cross-examiner, the author unravels the increasingly detailed specifications (dependent on subjective reasoning and supposedly “required” implications) needed to clarify support for Protagoras’ case in court. Ultimately, the dilemma is best solved by noting only the language of the contract and judging against there being grounds to sue. The author next illuminates the many facets of the veridical librarian’s paradox. The author argues that the paradox as stated is not solvable given the entailed problem of self-reference. This is a problem that also crops up in the Protagoras and Euathlus dilemma, although more closely related to the liar paradox, which, as James D. Carney suggests, points toward another way of handling the Protagoras and Euathlus dilemma: introduce a “levels of language” distinction.

"Illocutionary Speech Acts" by John W. Tucker

This article looks critically at Austinian speech act philosophy and applies Derrida’s critique to Searle’s account of promising. First, the author provides an overview of speech act philosophy, especially in connection to the notion of illocution. The author notes that for the Austinian, the gap between the intention and the expression is deemed unimportant. But isn’t Austinian speech act theory invested in a problematic idealization? Derrida holds that the Austinian account is misleading and ignores real difficulties. Searle’s notion of felicity neither approaches the reality that context itself is always partially open for (mis)interpretation, nor recognizes that speech acts often rest on iterable institutions that make it so that the speech act itself in no way tells us what the speaker actually intends. The author next exposes several problems with Searle’s account in Speech Acts. Also, can’t one promise without uttering “I promise”? In summary, following Derrida’s advice, we must “recognize the anomaly as a necessary possibility.”

"Darwin and Dennett: The Operationalist Debate and the Teleological Response" by John W. Roorda

The author of this paper makes an analogy between the 20th century debate in artificial intelligence and the 18th and 19th century debate concerning the design of the natural world. In the more recent disagreement, Turing and Searle represent the two poles in the AI discussion of computers and intentionality. In the earlier debate, the author identifies theologian William Paley and Hume as opposites, displaying arguments quite similar to those raised in the contemporary hot topic of AI. The author ends his overview of both debates by introducing the argument that moves the topic into a direction that makes use of the debaters’ thoughts but ultimately leaves them behind. Darwin’s theory of evolution and Dennett’s theory of intentionality based on natural selection demonstrate strong alternatives to the philosophical theorizing happening in the two debates. Dennett’s thesis, in particular, either raises doubts about human authority, or challenges science to come up with a better way to describe human purpose.

"Wittgenstein, Lewis Carroll and the Philosophical Puzzlement of Language" by Amy L. Kind

The author’s method in this paper is to draw connections between Wittgenstein’s thoughts and Lewis Carroll’s play on words in the Alice tales. Even though Carroll obviously wishes to delight the reader, his puzzles map closely with the philosophical puzzlement at the heart of Wittgenstein’s language-game and meaning as use concepts. The author highlights Wittgenstein’s notion of meaning as use in connection to the nature of time, the concept of “nobody,” and language on holiday, all of which are ideas played upon in the Alice tales. The author also invokes Hegel’s philosophy about Now in order to help clarify what is going on in Wittgenstein and Carroll’s play on a “point in time.” Finally, the author supports Peter Heath’s belief that Carroll shows absurd uses of language rather than nonsense. This “absurd” classification maps well to Wittgenstein’s term “patent nonsense,” and thereby helps us judge that Carroll aids Wittgenstein in showing the fly the way out of the bottle, or Alice the way out of Wonderland.

"An Existential Ethical Imperative" by Kent A. Lambert

The author’s purpose in this article is to show that Sartre’s ontological structure has room in it for an existential imperative that makes moral activity possible. The author dramatically reveals that “we cannot will freedom without grasping, on an interhuman level, the ambiguous existence of each other.” This reality results from an understanding of Sartre’s notions of consciousness, temporality, bad faith, authenticity, freedom, responsibility, and especially the Other. By the end of his exegesis, the author has shown that Sartre’s phenomenology requires each of us to be authentic as being-for-itself and as being-for-others. The author uses this conclusion to negate Dostoevsky’s famous worry about everything being permissible, because we can definitely say that accepting one’s wish to become a slave is not compatible with authenticity.

"Kant Revisited" by Lisa Bellantoni

Kant’s first critique is hard to understand, but this author endeavors to bring-out and/or extend aspects of it so that Kant’s system might better account for the existence of consciousnesses as particular subjectivities. The author’s argument about Kant incorporates many connected concerns: the nature of consciousness; the distinction between pure and practical reason; the role intersubjectivity has to play in positing freedom and in bridging subject and object; the foundations of otherness and subjectivity; the relation between being and knowing; and, outer experience and inner sense. In short, the author holds that Kant’s theory produces subjects either too similar or too different if we totally ignore the role that the noumenal realm plays in his ontology. The author suggests a reading of “consciousness of” that is a fusion of the noumenal self and the phenomenal self, saving the general drift of Kant’s potentially incoherent thought. This proposal better fits our experience of space-time and our metastable knowledge there-of. To close, the author reveals a model that depicts the cognitive process of any human as stages in a continuum.

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