Tag Archives | Antiquity

Aristotle on Free Will: One From the Vaults

[cross-posted at POT]

Today I found that my 1992 Ph.D. dissertation, Free Choice and Indeterminism in Aristotle and Later Antiquity, is a free (to those with institutional access) download from UMI, so I decided to make it a free download for everybody.

Reducing and optimising the hell out of it only got it down from around 25 MB to around 18 MB, so I split it into four parts in order to get around the 5 MB maximum upload limit.

I haven’t OCR’d it because UMI has inserted renderable text on every page, which bizarrely blocks Acrobat’s OCR function, and getting around that is more hassle than it’s worth to me right now.

I still agree with what I say here in broad outlines, but not with every detail, and indeed I have a book manuscript, Aristotle on Fate and Freedom, that revises, updates, and supersedes the Aristotle portion of this. (It leaves out the sections on later antiquity.) That is better than this. But that’s not published, and this is, so here ya go.

The main thing I would want to retract today is the snarky remark about Los Angeles in the autobiographical sketch. L.A. is the bee’s knees, man! Not sure what my glitch was. (Of course it was inspired by a similar remark in Isaac Asimov’s bio, but that hardly justifies it.)

Mack the Knife

In my latest YouTube video, I chat with philosopher Eric Mack about walking out on Ayn Rand, clashing with Nazi Sikhs in Seneca Falls, libertarian rights theory, Kantian vs. Aristotelean approaches to fixing Randian ethics, Nozickian polymathy, the unselfishness of Samuel Johnson, the ethics of COVID lockdowns, physical distancing in Durango, the CIA as an argument against anarchism, shoving someone in front of a bus as a form of restitution, and the edibility of matter.

Born to Be Badhwar

In my first video interview for my YouTube channel, I chat with philosopher Neera K. Badhwar about backyard buffaloes, wild attack monkeys, Ayn Rand, airline deregulation, eudaimonia and virtue, paternalism and suicide, sociopathic grandmothers, child abuse, Aristotelean business ethics, 19th-century robber barons, charitable Objectivists, friendly Manhattanites, charismatic nationalist leaders, and national health care. In more or less that order.

Plato, Space Ranger

A new episode of my YouTube channel is up! This one focuses on the connection between philosophical thought experiments (from Plato’s Ring of Gyges to Judith Jarvis Thomson’s defense of abortion) and science-fiction (and fantasy) literature.

In related news, a combination of unexpected expenses (e.g., high medical co-pays for kidney stone surgeries, plus my car’s imminent need to have its electrical system serviced) and my reduced summer salary means that any support via my PayPal or Patreon would be especially timely and welcome.

Experimenting with the Timeline

Below is a presentation I created today using a software tool called Timeline, as part of a teaching workshop I’m participating in this week:

That embedded version is a bit cramped; for a less cramped view, click here.

I wanted to break long paragraphs into shorter ones, preferably on more than one page, but couldn’t figure out (in the allotted time) how to do it.

I also wanted to date the slides by centuries, not individual dates. I couldn’t figure out how to do that either. So then I wanted the first dated slide to be labeled “c. 340 BCE.” (“c.” for “circa.”). But it wouldn’t let me include “circa,” either; no non-numeric content was allowed in the dates. And it said I had to use negative numbers for BCE. So I ended up dating that slide “-340.” But I’m not happy about that, because they’re not equivalent; positive and negative integers belong to a cardinal sequence separated by a zero; but the BCE/CE (or BC/AD) system of dating is an ordinal system with no Year Zero. So, strictly speaking, 340 BCE would correspond to -339, not -340.

Otherwise, though, I’m fairly pleased at how it looks; and I could probably get something closer to what I want if I tinkered with it a bit. (The content I wrote is oversimplified, but this is just a trial.)

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