Wednesday, July 31, 2013

‘MTSU On the Record’ delves into philosophy of happiness

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Phil Oliver, an MTSU philosophy professor, is scheduled to air from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 5, and from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and

Oliver teaches a course titled “The Philosophy of Happiness,” which will concentrate during the fall 2013 semester on the connection between happiness and the meaning of life.

Students will discuss whether it is necessary to live a life of higher ethical purpose to be happy or whether physical pursuits and creature comforts are sufficient, as well as other issues.

To listen to previous programs, go to the “Audio Clips” archives at

For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

MURFREESBORO — The next edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program focuses on how we define and pursue happiness.
FOR RELEASE: July 31, 2013
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081,

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dennett vs. Searle

John Searle's sprightly May TED talk is entertaining and, in its main message-- consciousness is a biological phenomenon-- indisputable.

But Searle's continuing bout with Dan Dennett is even more entertaining.
John Searle and I have a deep disagreement about how to study the mind. For Searle, it is all really quite simple. There are these bedrock, time-tested intuitions we all have about consciousness, and any theory that challenges them is just preposterous. I, on the contrary, think that the persistent problem of consciousness is going to remain a mystery until we find some such dead obvious intuition and show that, in spite of first appearances, it is false! One of us is dead wrong, and the stakes are high. Searle sees my position as “a form of intellectual pathology”; no one should be surprised to learn that the feeling is mutual...[NYRB, Aug.15, 2013]

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

That's here, that's home, that's us

If you missed it. Our portrait turned out pretty.
YES! Cassini's images of us, our world & our moon, on a very special day in the life of Planet Earth  
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known. Reflections on a mote of dust
 Stay tuned.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Younger Daughter's arts project this afternoon, perfect for a hammock tree on a hot lazy day in July (and the day our planetary home had its portrait made)-
"Hang a sign that says HOME on a tree and you're done; just try to have a good time." @freudeinstein Jennifer Michael Hecht, Doubt: A History

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blackburn on Hume

Simon Blackburn neatly summarizes the rootedness of American philosophy in David Hume's humane empiricism, in this interview:
There’s a suggestion that reason is always the slave of the passions? Yes, that’s the famous provocative remark, “and has no other office but to serve and obey them.” There’s an insight there which is picked up in much modern philosophy, and it is of course the insight of pragmatism, that success in action is, in some sense, the mother of thought. It’s because we need our actions in the world to serve our needs and to generate success, that we have the intelligences we do. That’s the nutshell idea of modern American pragmatism, and the pragmatist tradition. 
And besides, "he lived an admirable life and a warm, generous spirit breathes through all his writings." Must walk his walk too.

Simon Blackburn on David Hume | Five Books | Five Books

Monday, July 15, 2013

Who Scores Games by Hand Anymore?

I do. I wasn't scoring last night's terrific Cards win at Wrigley, the one Younger Daughter was sure her Cubbies had salted away before she retired (thus missing Yadi's big blast), but I almost always score the games we see in person. Sadly, most fans these days don't know what to do with the scoresheet they find in ther overpriced "souvenir program." A few of us still do, and we know why we do too.
Many people said they wanted the program only as a souvenir and opted not to take the pencil. But Stephan Loewenthil of New Rochelle happily took it while forking over his $10. “For me it’s still a bargain, and it’s not about buying a souvenir,” he said. “It’s about making the game more immediate, keeping me locked in.” Loewenthil, 63, was taught to keep score by his father at Yankee Stadium when he was 6 ½ years old. His son, Jacob, 26, had no interest in continuing the pastime. “It’s my dad’s thing,” he said."
I am proud to report that both of my girls are competent and sometimes even avid scorekeepers. They're locked in.

Who Scores Games by Hand Anymore? -

Monday, July 8, 2013


A new novel about a "peripatetic philosopher"? You don't see that every day.

In  Thomas Kennedy's Kerrigan in Copenhagen,
 The bibulous Kerrigan is influenced equally by Joyce’s “Ulysses” and Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or.” A peripatetic philosopher, Kerrigan once wrote scholarly papers on literary verisimilitude; now he simply reads and drinks. A green-eyed, 50-­something woman, whom he refers to as his Research Associate, accompanies him with a Moleskine full of facts and the emotional burden of dissatisfaction with her own failed career.
...Kierkegaard (whose very name means “graveyard”) tries to identify the unhappiest person who ever lived. Don Juan is a contender; Kerrigan might also qualify. Fixated on the memory of his much younger ex-wife in a blue bikini, he suspects he’ll never recover from her treachery and loss.
Having plumped for hedonism, then, Kerrigan more or less lives the life depicted within Kierkegaard’s “Seducer’s Diary.” Philosophies may change, but fermentation is forever...  
Don't fool yourself, Kerrigan. Nothing's forever. Words, women, and drink are no exception. Real peripatetics know that.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Darwin's dog

This charming portrait of Charles Darwin and his fox terrier Polly by London-based illustrator Kerry Hyndman is the sweetest thing since this photo of Maurice Sendak and his German shepherd Herman. Pair with literary history’s notable pets and the authors who loved them.
@brainpicker: This portrait of Darwin and his dog made my 
Postscript, 7.8.13: (I've actually considered him a friend for a very long time.)

  1. Phil Oliver of Nashville, USA just became a Friend of Charles Darwin. Accelerating Intelligence News