Category: Uncategorized

Review: Nebraska

Movie: 2013

In theory this is a depressing movie. It deals with a man who drank to much in his life and is now both old and confused. Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is a man near the end of his life who as a younger man was a drunk and easily exploited. Now he hopes to claim a million dollars from a magazine PR stunt that is an obvious scam.

Part road movie and part a movie about going home, this actually a very witty and unexpectedly uplifting movie. In addition the black and white images of the wide open spaces of the middle of America is beautiful. Well worth a look.


Review: Feser – Part 6

Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

The Last Superstition – A Refutation of the New Atheism: Spinoza

According to my all-knowing Kindle ‘Spinoza’ is named three times in Feser’s book; once in a quote from philosopher Pierre Manent among a list of names of philosophers, once in the notes [#9] to Chapter 1 in another list of philosophers and once in the index.

So why do I have a review section just on Spinoza when he isn’t even mentioned? Well somethings are conspicuous by their absence. In this case a philosopher who was also concerned with a rational basis for metaphysics whose metaphysical scheme also rested on god being the thing that underpins the existence of everything else. In Spinoza’s scheme god is the only possible kind of substance and it is god that exists and from that everything else. Spinoza was also concerned with causes, as well as necessity and existence. Like Feser Spinoza also made an appeal to mathematics. Here is the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy again:

Spinoza makes similar appeals to conceptual relations when he invokes geometrical examples to describe the necessity with which other things follow from God:

…all things have necessarily flowed, or always follow, by the same necessity and in the same way as from the nature of a triangle it follows…that its three angles are equal to two right angles (Ip17s).

Spinoza later identifies this same geometrical relationship with the conceptual involvement relation (IIp49). What it is for things to follow from God necessarily is for those things to be (asymmetrically) conceived through God, whose concept involves (the concept of) existence. The necessity of God and the necessity of existing things are equally explained by and grounded in conceptual relations. Spinoza makes this connection emphatic in Ip35, “Whatever we conceive to be in God’s power, necessarily exists.”

So why no Spinoza? Spinoza heads in the exact opposite direction as Dun Scotus and Ockham – it almost like those medieval Franscians anticipate the kind of concept of god that Spinoza will advance. Spinoza’s god is a necessary god – that is essentially a god that is a set of necessary conditions and hence effectively is not an being who thinks and plans and considers courses of action but one that simply is and acts (in so far as it can be can called acting) by necessity and in the only way it can act. Spinoza’s god is like some sort operating system for the universe chugging away through a predetermined code with no external input.

It is an open question whether (and to what extent and in what way) Spinoza was a pantheist but it is easy to see how tying a conception closely both logic and the manner in which things exists on an immediate basis (i.e. not how they were originally created but how they carry on existing rather than just blinking out) starts looking a lot like pantheism.

Consequently – we don’t hear much about Spinoza. Fewer doesn’t want to consider whether the same metaphysical demands might lead in an unwelcome direction. God in Feser’s scheme is the Biblical god in Aristotle’s overcoat not the god of Spinoza.

In Part 7 more on things that aren’t in Feser’s book.

Surviving Seveneves

This is a follow up to my review which can be found here.

Stephenson’s novel continues to generate discussion in all its Marmite-glory. I feel the need to write some spoilery things so if you haven’t read Seveneves don’t continue beyond the jar of yeast extract.


Continue reading

OK that is actually funny

Vox Day sort of replied to my answer to Dave Freer (just to make that whole exchange even more weird).

His plan is otters! Also I get a promotion!

“The real burning question is, ‘what will Vox Day attack next?’”
– Charles Stross

“What will happen in 2016. We both know the question is what will Vox Day do? The Sad Puppy plans are secondary to what ever Vox Day does. I assume he will try to run some kind of disruption campaign but what kind we won’t know until next year.”
– Camestros Felapton

Of course, I am not at liberty to reveal the Rabid Puppy 2 strategy, in part because we are still in the first two stages of the OODA loop, observing and orienting. (Sorry, Tom, I couldn’t resist.) But in the interest of further demoralizing the already-retreating enemy, I’m not reluctant to reveal one of the new weapons in our arsenal.

That’s right. The Evil Legion of Evil is training a corps of Amphibious Assault Otters. Armed with acid-filled squirt guns and supported by a crack squad of Attack Manatees, they will emerge from the rivers and literally melt the faces of the SJWs attempting to burn bridges as they continue to retreat. Good day, sir! I said good day!

[SIGH] Why is it that the more overtly awful ones are the funny ones?

Currently reading: Half a War

Part three of Joe Abercrombie’s YA “Shattered Sea” fantasy series that follows on from Half a King and Half a World.

Don’t let the ‘young adult’ marketing bracket scare you away – this has been a solid fantasy series so far. Set in a Vikingish world built on the remains of a lost elvish civilization, the series is less cynical than Abercrombie’s earlier work but still gritty. Some great characters with a shift in focus in each novel that makes the world he constructs feel bigger.