Meeting 21: Metaphysics

  • January 26, 2014 · 2:00 PM
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PhD candidate Tommy Kivatinos will facilitate this meeting.

The reading, Lipton's What Good is an Explanation?, can be found in More -> Files.

The meeting will be most exciting for you if you have done the reading!

From Tommy:

In order to explain why John Doe had died, one could mention that he had ingested poison. In order to explain why the parts of a watch are arranged exactly the way that they are arranged, one could mention that this specific arrangement of gears and cogs would allow the hands on the face of the clock to continuously indicate the time of day. 

Both of these explanations are about different sorts of things. The first explanation above mentions the cause of an event – the *cause* of John Doe dying (ingesting poison) is the explanatory resource in this case. The second explanation above mentions the *function* of an object – the function of a watch (indicating the time of day) is the explanatory resource in this case. 

And other examples of explanations not mentioned here could draw attention to even more kinds of explanatory resources. So it would seem that explanations can work by appeal to different kinds of explanatory resources. Generalizing this idea; our way of making intelligible events, facts and the world itself would seem to be based on recognition of many different kinds of things (such as causes, functions, etc) . 

Contrary to this picture, we will explore the idea that these seemingly different features of the world that explanations draw attention to are in fact not different in kind.  That is to say, all explanations work by appeal to a single kind of feature of the world which is thus the sole source of the intelligibility of the world. In turn, I will explore the suggestion that explanation is not something which is varied into different fundamental kinds. 

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  • William C.

    I was an enjoyable, thought provoking Meetup.

    January 30, 2014

  • Selene

    What a wonderful discussion! Thanks to Tommy for his provocative and well-organized facilitation, and to Justine for hosting and creating this group!

    January 26, 2014

  • Wang X.

    The pin on the meetup-map was wrong! I am not able to be there (on time)...

    January 26, 2014

    • Jonathan

      Same here I ended up in Brooklyn won't make it thew

      January 26, 2014

    • Jonathan

      There*

      January 26, 2014

  • Peter M

    Hi, can someone tell me how these meetups generally go? Presentation followed by discussion? Is there food/drink? What does the $12 go towards?

    January 23, 2014

  • Eric S.

    Still room for me to come?

    January 16, 2014

  • Selene

    Well, I hope I'm not in over my head - but this seems like way more fun than sitting in a bar listening to nonsense. I look forward to meeting you all!

    1 · January 11, 2014

  • Reed

    I'm new to the group. Do most events have a fee? Also, what does the money go toward? Thanks!

    January 2, 2014

  • hugh d.

    Looking forward to the next meeting

    December 19, 2013

  • Randall

    I was wondering the same thing, Joel. I finally decided to leave another major Meetup because of the consistent and dogmatic emphasis on the analytic side to the complete exclusion of any sense of wonder, possibility and poetry from the Continental tradition. A quick search uncovers a paper by Mr. Kivatinos on metaphysics. While not easily summarized, it would appear that his position is one that denies a few positions that I (and a great many others) have found intuitive: namely, that if an object is dependent on something else for its existence, then it is *ultimately* dependent upon something (an infinite chain of dependency making no sense). Frustrating. But the events in this group have been open-minded thus far, and the guests quite welcoming. Given that, and the almost certain fact that the topic will prove fascinating, I think it's worth a shot.

    December 9, 2013

    • Joel B.

      Thank you for responding so thoughtfully.

      December 9, 2013

  • Merle R.

    Any articles I might read before our meeting so I have a better understanding of metaphysics than I have now. Thank you, Merle

    1 · December 8, 2013

  • Joel B.

    Metaphysics has very different meanings in analytic and continental philosophy. Can you provide some information about the facilitator's orientation?

    December 8, 2013

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