Philosophy Hurts Your Head

The blog of a cranky Philosophy PhD Student from Newcastle, Australia.

Archive for October, 2007

Philosophy Australia

Posted by Sam D on October 19, 2007

A new wiki-style page has been created to collect information on all things Philosophical in Australia – Philosophy Australia.

This will include information on Philosophers/Philosophy Academics and their research publications and interests, Philosophy Programs, Philosophy Organisations and Philosophy related events in Australia.

Philosophy Australia is a non-profit project that relies on the involvement of the Philosophy Community. Because of this, Philosophy Australia’s Staff are volunteers. All positions at this moment are based on non-paid, volunteer work. Editors are needed for this project, so if you are attached to the Philosophy department of an Australian university, or are studying Philosophy in Australia, please visit the site and see if you can help.

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Posted in News, Philosophy | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Google Trends on Philosophy

Posted by Sam D on October 18, 2007

Yesterday, whilst procrastinating against writing a lesson plan for this afternoons Media Ethics and Law tutorials, I looked up the Google search trends for ‘Philosophy’. Here are the results: http://www.google.com/trends?q=philosophy . I have to say I was surprised that Google gets a higher proportion (of the total of all searches) of search requests for Philosophy from the Philippines than anywhere else. Does anyone have any idea why this is?

On a more somber note, the overall trend over the last 4 years appears to be slightly downward. Does this mean that less people are interested in our studies, or simply that electronic anti-plagiarism programs used by faculties have forced students back the library?

Posted in Interesting stuff, Philosophy | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Pain and the Mystery of Physicalism

Posted by Sam D on October 17, 2007

I’ve been following and participating in this discussion at Fides Quaerens Intellectum about the status of pain and how it creates problems for Classic Foundationalism (CF). More than the problems for CF, I’ve been interested in the assumptions involved in arguing about pain, and whether or not one can be mistaken about being in pain.

Repeatedly people have commented that it is possible that I could be in pain and not know it, or at least be possibly mistaken about being in pain.

Ian claimed that my C-Fibres could be firing but I might be distracted, so I could be mistaken about being in pain. This of course could only be true if the stimulated C-Fibres were actually identical to the experience of the pain. If the fibres could fire without me feeling it, does that not mean that they are not as identical as physicalists think?

Mike asserts that one could believe that they were in pain, without being in pain. Now I can see how I could believe that I was physically injured (and experience the associated pain) without it being the case that I was actually injured. I don’t think physicalists (or dualists for that matter) have any trouble with this scenario.

But what I can’t figure out is how physicalists (or indeed anyone) would explain mistakenly believing oneself to be in pain. What exactly is the physical process associated with experiencing illusionary pain? It can’t be the same process associated with so-called ‘real’ pain, otherwise you would be experiencing ‘real’ pain. So you would have to postulate a different physical process that is associated with the illusion of pain. If both of these processes produce indistinguishable qualia, then being able to say when one is in pain or not becomes a messy business. I can imagine having an MRI or CAT scan and a doctor telling me that I only have fake pain and to get over it. I’d say that it still hurts and then where would we be? If fake pain and real pain are indistinguishable, then maintaining that we can have an illusion of pain rests on divorcing “experiencing pain” and “really being in pain” at a profound level. But to say that I can experience pain without really being in pain seems contradictory to me as ‘pain’, first and foremost, refers to a particular subjective experience. If it’s not really pain, then it would not hurt. And if it does not hurt, then you know that you are not in pain, and hence could not be mistaken about it.

To make claims to the contrary entails:

The Physicalist assumption that the qualia of pain is identical to a given physical process.

and

The contradictory claim that the process can occur without producing the associated sensation, or that the subjective experience of pain can occur without the process taking place.

Posted in Mind, Philosophy of Mind | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Philosophers’ Carnival 54

Posted by Sam D on October 11, 2007

Philosophers’ Carnival 54 is on at The Uncredible Hallq.

Posted in Carnivals, Philosophy | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »