August 16, 2006

Link dump and Kierkegaardean considerations

Some of the links are rather old, so I may have posted them already.

NPR: Charles Fishman on corporate secrecy

Our deterministic DNA: Another media myth

NYT: The insanity defense goes back on trial

The FMA and the new one drop of blood rule

Chron: Poor pay more for services, study says

NYT: Brainy robots start stepping into daily life

Reappropriate: Lois Lane

NYT: Saving the world, one video game at a time

Guardian: Families of soldiers killed in Iraq win right to challenge legality of going to war

Evolving thoughts: Niches and theology

Femme mentale

Gender differences in cognition

PZ: A brief overview of Hox genes

NYT piece on the recent proof of the Poincare conjecture

Sensing a trend here? Yeah, neither am I. Preliminary thoughts on my Kierkegaard paper below the fold.

Kierkegaard has a radically personalistic and subjective understanding of `faith'; this is historically quite significant because, on the one hand, Kierkegaard is reacting to Hegel, who in turn saw himself as a logical completion of Kant; while, on the other hand, Kierkegaard is one of two critical nineteenth-century forerunners to twentieth-century existentialism (the other being Nietzsche). In other words, understanding Kierkegaard's notion of faith is critical for understanding the relationship between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries (this relationship being one way of formulating my historical focus).

Kierkegaard's subjectivity is actually so radical that the notion of God seems more or less irrelevant. Not only does Kierkegaard argue that the existence of God cannot be known, but his notion of faith is more about the subject's relation to themself, not an external object. This immediately makes me wonder about the possibility of reconstruction Kierkegaardean `faith' is an atheistic context. The paper will start by identifying several structural/subjective features of Kierkegaardean `faith', ie, explaining exactly what `being subjective' is in a way that does not presuppose reference to an external being, divine or otherwise. The next step is to give a candidate notion that can have these same sorts of features -- I'll be using a radical understanding of `autonomy'. Several obvious criticisms of this particular notion have to be dealt with, and then the final step is to show how this approach is genuinely atheistic (and not simply neutral with respect to the God question).

This is a very silly project, but it's something I can accomplish in an eighteen-page one-off paper over the next five days (with time off for Week 0 parties and stupid new TA orientation crap), and that's all that counts.

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