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On Leibniz

Expanded Edition

Nicholas Rescher

Contemporary philosopher John Searle has characterized Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) as “the most intelligent human being who has ever lived.” The German philosopher, mathematician, and logician invented calculus (independently of Sir Isaac Newton), topology, determinants, binary arithmetic, symbolic logic, rational mechanics, and much more. His metaphysics bequeathed a set of problems and approaches that have influenced the course of Western philosophy from Kant in the eighteenth century until the present day. On Leibniz examines many aspects of Leibniz’s work and life. This expanded edition adds new chapters that explore Leibniz’s revolutionary deciphering machine; his theoretical interest in cryptography and its ties to algebra; his thoughts on eternal recurrence theory; his rebuttal of the thesis of improvability in the world and cosmos; and an overview of American scholarship on Leibniz. Other chapters reveal Leibniz as a substantial contributor to theories of knowledge. Discussions of his epistemology and methodology, its relationship to John Maynard Keynes and Talmudic scholarship, broaden the traditional view of Leibniz. Rescher also views Leibniz’s scholarly development and professional career in historical context. As a “philosopher courtier” to the Hanoverian court, Leibniz was associated with the leading intellectuals and politicians of his era, including Spinoza, Huygens, Newton, Queen Sophie Charlotte, and Tsar Peter the Great. Rescher extrapolates the fundamentals of Leibniz’s ontology: the theory of possible worlds, the world’s contingency, space-time frameworks, and intermonadic relationships. In conclusion, Rescher positions Leibniz as a philosophical role model for today’s scholars. He argues that many current problems can be effectively addressed with principles of process philosophy inspired by Leibniz’s system of monadology.

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On the Existence of Digital Objects

Yuk Hui

Digital objects, in their simplest form, are data. They are also a new kind of industrial object that pervades every aspect of our life today—as online videos, images, text files, e-mails, blog posts, Facebook events.Yet, despite their ubiquity, the nature of digital objects remains unclear.

On the Existence of Digital Objects conducts a philosophical examination of digital objects and their organizing schema by creating a dialogue between Martin Heidegger and Gilbert Simondon, which Yuk Hui contextualizes within the history of computing. How can digital objects be understood according to individualization and individuation? Hui pursues this question through the history of ontology and the study of markup languages and Web ontologies; he investigates the existential structure of digital objects within their systems and milieux. With this relational approach toward digital objects and technical systems, the book addresses alienation, described by Simondon as the consequence of mistakenly viewing technics in opposition to culture.

Interdisciplinary in philosophical and technical insights, with close readings of Husserl, Heidegger, and Simondon as well as the history of computing and the Web, Hui’s work develops an original, productive way of thinking about the data and metadata that increasingly define our world.


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On Time, Being, and Hunger

Challenging the Traditional Way of Thinking Life

Juan Manuel Garrido

The traditional way of understanding life, as a self-appropriating and self-organizing process of not ceasing to exist, of taking care of one's own hunger, is challenged by today's unprecedented proliferation of discourses and techniques concerning the living being. This challenge entails questioning the fundamental concepts of metaphysical thinking, namely, time, finality, and, above all, being. Garrido argues that today we are in a position to repeat Nietzsche's assertion that there is no other representation of "being" than that of "living." But in order to carry out this deconstruction of ontology, we need to find new ways of asking "What is life?" In this study, Garrido establishes the basic elements of the question concerning life through readings of Aristotle, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida; through the discussion of scientific breakthroughs in thermodynamics and evolutionary and developmental biology; and through the reexamination of the notion of hunger in both its metaphysical and its political implications.

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The Orders of Nature

Lawrence Cahoone

A systematic theory of naturalism, bridging metaphysics and the science of complexity and emergence.

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Origins Of Logical Empiricism

Ronald N. Giere

Logical empiricism remains a strong influence in the philosophy of science, despite the discipline's shift toward more historical and naturalistic approaches. This latest volume in the eminent Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science series examines the main features of the intellectual milieu from which logical empiricism sprang, providing the first critical exploration of this context by authors within the Anglo-American analytic tradition of philosophy. These articles challenge the idea that logical empiricism has its origins in traditional British empiricism, pointing instead to a movement of scientific philosophy that flourished in the German-speaking areas of Europe in the first four decades of the twentieth century. The intellectual refugees from the Third Reich who brought logical empiricism to North America did so in an environment influenced by Einstein's new physics, the ascension of modern logic, the birth of the social sciences as rivals to traditional humanistic philosophy, and other large-scale social, political, and cultural themes. The contributors, including some of our most distinguished philosophers and historians of science, emphasize the connections among members of the logical empiricist movement as well as their connections with members of other major intellectual movements of the time. Focusing on the continuing influence of logical empiricism and the vitality of the issues with which its proponents struggled, this important volume provides valuable context to contemporary philosophers of science. Contributors: Nancy Cartwright, London School of Economics; Jordi Cat; Richard Creath, Arizona State U; Michael Friedman, Indiana U; Peter Galison, Harvard U; Warren Goldfarb, Harvard U; Don Howard, U of Kentucky; Thomas Oberdan, Clemson U; Thomas Ricketts, U of Pennsylvania; Thomas Ryckman, Northwestern U; Joia Lewis Turner, U of San Diego; Thomas E. Uebel, London School of Economics.

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The Outer Limits of Reason

What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us

Noson S. Yanofsky

An exploration of the scientific limits of knowledge that challenges our deep-seated beliefs about our universe, our rationality, and ourselves.

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Owning the Genome

A Moral Analysis of DNA Patenting

DNA patenting has emerged as a hot topic in science policy and bioethics as private companies and government agencies spend billions of dollars on genetic research and development in a race to identify, sequence, and analyze DNA from human, animal, and plant species. David B. Resnik’s Owning the Genome explores the ethical, social, philosophical, theological, and policy issues surrounding DNA patenting and develops a comprehensive approach to the topic. Resnik considers arguments for and against DNA patenting and concludes that only a patent on a whole human genome would be inherently immoral, while the morality of other DNA patents depends on their consequences for science, medicine, agriculture, industry, and society. He also stresses the importance of government regulations and policies in order to minimize the harmful effects of patenting while promoting the beneficial ones.

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The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age

Darin Barney

Just what is the “participatory condition”? It is the situation in which being involved in doing something and taking part in something with others has become both environmental and normative. The fact that we have always participated does not mean we have always lived under the participatory condition. What is distinctive about the present is the extent to which the everyday social, economic, cultural, and political activities that comprise simply being in the world have been thematized and organized around the priority of participation.

Structured along four axes investigating the relations between participation and politics, surveillance, openness, and aesthetics, The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age comprises fifteen essays that explore the promises, possibilities, and failures of contemporary participatory media practicesas related to power, Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring uprisings, worker-owned cooperatives for the post-Internet age; paradoxes of participation, media activism, open source projects; participatory civic life; commercial surveillance; contemporary art and design; and education.

This book represents the most comprehensive and transdisciplinary endeavor to date to examine the nature, place, and value of participation in the digital age. Just as in 1979, Jean-François Lyotard proposed that “the postmodern condition” was characterized by the questioning of historical grand narratives, The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age investigates how participation has become a central preoccupation of our time.

Contributors: Mark Andrejevic, Pomona College; Bart Cammaerts, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); Nico Carpentier, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB – Free University of Brussels) and Charles University in Prague; Julie E. Cohen, Georgetown Universit; Kate Crawford, MIT; Alessandro Delfanti, University of Toronto; Christina Dunbar-Hester, Rutgers University; Rudolf Frieling, California College of Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute; Salvatore Iaconesi, “La Sapienza” University of Rome and ISIA Design Florence; Jason Edward Lewis, Concordia University; Rafael Lozano-Hemmer; Graham Pullin, University of Dundee, Trebor Scholz, The New School in New York City; Cayley Sorochan, McGill University; Bernard Stiegler, Institute for Research and Innovation in Paris; Krzysztof Wodiczko, Harvard; Jillian C. York, Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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Peeling Potatoes or Grinding Lenses

Spinoza and Young Wittgenstein Converse on Immanence and Its Logic

More than 250 years separate the publication of Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. In Peeling Potatoes or Grinding Lenses, Aristides Baltas contends that these works bear a striking similarity based on the idea of “radical immanence.” He analyzes the structure and content of each treatise, the authors’ intentions, the limitations and possibilities afforded by scientific discovery in their respective eras, their radical opposition to prevailing philosophical views, and draws out the particulars, as well as the implications, of the arresting match between the two.

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Perspectives on Science

Vol. 6 (1998) through current issue

Perspectives on Science publishes science studies that integrate historical, philosophical, and sociological perspectives. Its interdisciplinary approach is intended to foster a more comprehensive understanding of the sciences and the contexts in which they develop. Each issue is comprised of theoretical essays, case studies and review essays.

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