A Pro-Bono Offer To Teach Brett Stephens Some Epistemology

This morning, I mailed the following letter to the New York Times Education section. I do not expect a reply. Greetings, I’m a professor of philosophy of Brooklyn College and I’m writing to offer to teach epistemology (the study of knowledge) to Brett Stephens, your Op-Ed columnist. His last three essays (‘This Revolution Too, WillContinue reading “A Pro-Bono Offer To Teach Brett Stephens Some Epistemology”

Epistemology and ‘The Leftovers’

Imagine that an extremely improbable event occurs, one for which there was no warning; your best theories of the world assigned it a near-zero probability (indeed, so low was this probability then calculating it would have been a waste of time). This event is inexplicable–no explanations for it are forthcoming, and it cannot be fittedContinue reading “Epistemology and ‘The Leftovers’”

Robert Merton On The Importance Of Knowledge For Analyzing Social Actions

In ‘The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action” (American Sociological Review, Vol. 1, No. 6 (Dec., 1936), pp. 894-904) Robert Merton writes: The most obvious limitation to a correct anticipation of consequences of action is provided by the existing state of knowledge. The extent of this limitation may be best appreciated by assuming the simplest case whereContinue reading “Robert Merton On The Importance Of Knowledge For Analyzing Social Actions”

Serendipity In The Library Stacks

I like libraries. Always have. My most favored writing space these days is a library, that of the CUNY Graduate Center in midtown Manhattan. I arrive by subway at the 34th Street station, exit at 35th Street, enter the B. Altman Building through the lobby, buy myself a coffee, and then head upstairs to theContinue reading “Serendipity In The Library Stacks”

Jed Perl On The Supposed Necessity Of Doubt For Art

In the course of a ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes’ style review of a retrospective of Jeff Koons‘ work–staged at the Whitney Museum last year–Jed Perl writes: Dada—whatever its deficiencies, and the fact is that it produced relatively little enduring art—was part of a tradition of doubt about the possibilities of art that is woven deepContinue reading “Jed Perl On The Supposed Necessity Of Doubt For Art”

The Fallacious Knowing-How, Knowing-That Distinction

Over at the Stone, Jason Stanley offers some thoughtful remarks on the fallacious distinction between the practical and the theoretical, or rather, between practical and theoretical knowledge. Stanley examines the case to be made for the dichotomy between reflection–‘guided by our knowledge of truths about the world’–and action–‘guided by our knowledge of how to performContinue reading “The Fallacious Knowing-How, Knowing-That Distinction”

Artificial Agents and Knowledge as Tractably Accessible, Usable Information

In commenting on my post on teaching philosophy by reading out loud in class, David Auerbach quotes Georges Dreyfus‘ The Sound of Two Hands Clapping on the process of the education of a Tibetan monk, which includes the memorization of scriptures, supplemented by active, repeated vocalization. Dreyfus’ quote–please read Auerbach’s comment for the full quote–concludesContinue reading “Artificial Agents and Knowledge as Tractably Accessible, Usable Information”