"that the cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence"
is echoed by an earlier comment in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion:
"a certain degree of analogy among all the operations of nature ... the rotting of a turnip, the generation of an animal, and the structure of human thought [are] energies that probably bear some remote analogy to each other".
And this phrase 'remote analogy' occurs nowhere else in Hume's writings. If they were meant to be read together, as seems very likely, then it would be very hard to conclude that this is evidence for Hume being a theist!
Peter also gives a robust response to Vernon's other reservations about Hume. QED?
When my train to London was late yesterday, unusually for me, I took a taxi to get to my appointment. Perhaps my mistake was asking to be taken to Westminster, but instantly the taxi driver began a rant that gradually descended into racism. At times I wondered if I was in an Ali G spin-off and being taken for a ride in both senses - that pendant hanging from the mirror - did it have a concealed TV camera? Stephen Lawrence, he told me, must have said something to the people who killed him (though he agreed that wouldn't have justified murder) - his evidence: apparently Lawrence is giving the black power closed fist salute in all the photographs of him (this from someone who declared he doesn't read the newspapers or watch TV - so where does he see these photographs?) 'Why does one murder get all the attention' People are killed all the time.' (I tried rather feebly to point out that a racist murder has a symbolic value as well as the tragedy that it is for the individual and those he left behind).
In the course of a 15 minute ride he made comments about how he believed that black lesbians get preferential treatment when it comes to doing 'the knowledge', Eastern Europeans are the ones who rob cabbies at knife or gunpoint (no, it had never happened to him), and so on. He was a cheerful, friendly sort of man, and my attempts to stop the flow of racism by engaging him in a discussion of his prejudices were pathetic. I felt sullied by the whole experience, caught off-guard and weak at not confronting him more robustly...and possibly just getting him to stop the cab and get out. What really annoys me is that when I jumped out in heavy traffic I instinctively left a tip, despite my disgust at his views and disappointment about him matching up to the worst stereotypes of a London cabby - almost to the point of caricature (he even used the classic phrase 'what's it all about then?')...I'm still not absolutely sure I wasn't the victim of some kind of performance artist or reality TV stunt.
And then, again very unusually for me, I read Monday's The Daily Mail which was lying around at home (it was free at the gym) and while it's coverage of some topics fitted by stereotypical view of that newspaper, I was blown away by the leading letter to the editor: it was about Sartre's existentialism! Andew J. Smith from Roehampton University had written a clear response to a review of a prurient book about Sartre's and de Beauvoir's supposedly 'essential' relationship..He points out that, "far from being the 'bible or our licentious times'...existentialism is a philosophy which demands that all of us ask ourselves a very personal question: what gives my life meaning?" I don't agree with this as an encapsulation of Sartre's existentialism (since he answers that question rather than invites us to ask it - Sartre's answer is the choices I make, the sum of what I actually do). But how prejudiced of me not to expect to find existentialism being discussed in the letters page of the Daily Mail...
Norman Geras of the excellent normblog is building a case against Bernard Suits (author of The Grasshopper a book which several of us think presents a serious challenge to Wittgenstein's analysis of games in Philosophical Investigations). It is great to see this book being discussed. He is presenting the essay in serialised form:
We have now posted 50 episodes of Philosophy Bitesthe series of podcast interviews with top philosophers (also available on iTunes)...if you include the interviews we've released on the Open University sponsored Ethics Bites, the total is 60.
Contemporary Aesthetics is an online blind-reviewed high-quality free journal. This is a sensible way forward for academic journals - in Philosophy at least.
For many years journal publishers have been convincing philosophers to provide camera-ready copy, editorial support and give up their copyright in journal articles for no payment...Then their institutions would have to pay a high subscription. Not a great deal, given the large sums of money the publishers were making from the procedure...It is gratifying to see some philosophers seizing the means of production and by-passing publishers using this new technology.
Publishers of philosophy journals will have to offer more than they have done if they are going to compete with this sort of set up.
I interviewed Judge Richard Posner, author of an interesting book on Plagiarism (read my review here) for the Open University's Ethics Bites podcast. Unfortunately the ISDN line to Chicago was a bit crackly...There is also a transcript available.
Hume specialist Peter Millican is the interviewee for the latest episode of Philosophy Bites on the topic of David Hume's Significance. In the course of the interview Peter explains why he believes that Hume died an atheist...