[Topics: Critical Idealism, Phenomenology, Speculative Realism]
The World According to Headphones:

A Defense of Immanuel Kant against Recent Criticism by Speculative Realists

 

Immanuel Kant Sketch by M.R.P. - anthropocentrism, speculative realism, object-oriented ontology

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.

Introduction:

There has been a recent trend in philosophy, particularly by some working under various flavors of speculative realism (such as objected-oriented ontology and speculative materialism) to accuse Kantian metaphysics of problematic anthropocentrism—meaning the undue privileging of humans or humanity. These accusations seem to result from a belief that Immanuel Kant’s intervention in philosophy amounted to an expansion of the powers of the human mind, placing it in charge of the category of reality. That is, however, not what Kant did.

Nor does Kant ‘privilege’ humans as subjects while ‘degrading’ non-humans as objects. After all, in his terminology all subjects are objects to each other—and to the extent that something apparently inanimate could be construed as a subject (perhaps through the metaphor of a physical reference frame, or through some notion of panpsychism), all humans are objects to it.

Speculative realists speak disapprovingly of what they call the ‘correlationism’ that pervades Kant, as Kant observes that we will only ever have access to our representations of (and the relationship between) reality and our mind, without ever having direct unmediated ‘external’ access to either. Somehow speculative realists interpret this sharp limitation and restriction that Kant places on the scope of human knowledge as instead being an empowering or even ‘reifying’ of human knowledge.

Now, I could list and flatly deny such claims for a while longer. But that doesn’t seem very productive. So, instead, I’d like to take a step back and mount a proper defense against such ideas. I’ll do this by using this article to explain (in the broadest and most accessible strokes I can) what the low-level insights of Kantian philosophy actually involve.

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[Topics: Critical Idealism, Phenomenology, Speculative Realism]
The World According to Headphones:

A Defense of Immanuel Kant against Recent Criticism by Speculative Realists

was last modified: December 22nd, 2022 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Enter the Gungeon, Dodge Roll, 2016]
Center the Gungeon:

Achievements as a Desirable Compromise Solution for Completing Games like Enter the Gungeon

 

Introduction:

In this article, I will explain a potentially unintuitive belief that I hold about a specific style of games: that the best possible experience of playing roguelikes and derivatives of roguelikes is usually attained by pursuing 100% achievement completion as the primary end goal of the game. My test case for this purpose will be Dodge Roll’s highly polished and mechanically satisfying top-down shooter Enter the Gungeon.

Like so many of its peers in the increasingly-loosely-defined genre it at least partially shares with notables like Rogue, Spelunky, and FTLGungeon is a game that is played by repeatedly attempting to win difficult randomization-heavy play sessions averaging less than an hour each, where dying means a total end to that playthrough; to continue playing, a newly-randomized session must begin from the very start.

And why do I think that pursuing achievements (or trophies, or badges, or whatever you want to call them) offers the best way of engaging with Enter the Gungeon and other games in this style? Simply, because doing so offers a balanced, varied, thorough, satisfying compromise between two inferior extremes.

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[Game: Enter the Gungeon, Dodge Roll, 2016]
Center the Gungeon:

Achievements as a Desirable Compromise Solution for Completing Games like Enter the Gungeon

was last modified: December 14th, 2022 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Consciousness, Evolutionary Biology, Panpsychism, Philosophy of Mind]
Mind Turning Backward:

A Critique of My Own Evolutionary Argument in Favor of Panpsychism

 

Introduction:

Detail from BrainChain by Willem den Broeder - consciousness, panpsychism, criticism

Detail from BrainChain by Willem den Broeder

Several years ago, I wrote and published an article advancing a defense of panpsychism from the perspective of evolutionary biology. It was an explicitly exploratory article, opening with a lengthy discussion of the nascence of serious philosophy and science of the mind—and ending with a declaration that my feeling that panpsychism is a solid response to the ‘hard problem of consciousness’ is one of my least resolute and most tentative philosophical beliefs.

Due to this overt humility in the text of the article, I expected readers to see an opportunity to convince me that my arguments failed. Unfortunately, though I have now read many responses to my article in forums and elsewhere, I have been disappointed in the inability of such comments to point out any genuine flaws in my arguments. I say this is a disappointment not out of smug self-satisfaction regarding the arguments in question, but rather because I personally feel that the arguments do have genuine flaws. That my article has flaws was a baseless instinct when I wrote it, which has developed since then into a reasoned position. At any rate, I hoped that I was starting a conversation, but really I seem to have simply given people an opportunity to deliver their stump speeches about why they feel panpsychism is ridiculous without the need for examination (a trend I had hoped to curtail with the way I wrote that article’s introduction).

Although people have generally been more than willing to offer mature critical responses to many of my articles, such responses have not materialized for that article in particular. Thus, over the years, something odd has become clear to me: if I want to see a set of objections that really grapple with the arguments I advance in that particular article, I am going to have to write the set of objections myself. So . . . that exercise in navel-gazing is exactly what I’m going to do now; you might say that this is me writing criticism of a thinker that I truly consider to be my intellectual equal! Let’s get this over with . . .

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[Topics: Consciousness, Evolutionary Biology, Panpsychism, Philosophy of Mind]
Mind Turning Backward:

A Critique of My Own Evolutionary Argument in Favor of Panpsychism

was last modified: December 5th, 2022 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, Skepticism]
Meditations on Descartes:

Examining Objections to the Main Argument of René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy

 

René Descartes Sketch by M.R.P. - Meditations on First Philosophy, Cartesian Circle

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.

Introduction:

It is likely the case that no other work of philosophy has had an influence which is at the same time so massive and so different from the intended effect of its writer as Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes. In setting out to provide the thinking world with certainty about the accuracy of their perceptions, the reliability of their intuitions about the soul, and the existence of God—Descartes instead accidentally cast a spell of doubt over the ensuing centuries of epistemology and metaphysics.

This occurred because, perhaps regrettably, Descartes did a far better job of demonstrating the all-consuming challenge posed by following skepticism to its logical conclusions, than he ever did of overcoming that challenge. As it happens, I agree with the assessment of most philosophers that Descartes succeeds brilliantly in tearing the world down, then fails miserably in building the world back up. But I have found that my reasons for believing that usually differ from theirs . . . and I have also found that this difference sometimes stems from them not having a solid grasp on the logical structure of Descartes’ Meditations. For instance, the most popular objection to his argument is that it is an example of circular reasoning, and hence blatantly fallacious; that objection is a great example of a misguided response that misunderstands the case being made.

So, I decided to write this article, in order to both provide a clear presentation of Descartes’ argument against skepticism, and to also survey and evaluate an array of objections one might make against it. Now, let us explore together how René Descartes unintentionally left us all so mired in doubt:

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[Topics: Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, Skepticism]
Meditations on Descartes:

Examining Objections to the Main Argument of René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy

was last modified: December 15th, 2022 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Super Meat Boy Forever, Team Meat, 2020]
Bandage Man:

In Defense of Super Meat Boy Forever, the Unjustly Hated Sequel to an Indie Platforming Legend

 

Introduction:

Super Meat Boy is one of the greatest 2D platformers of all time, and it is rightly renowned for having some of the best level design in the entire genre. Its follow-up is an auto-runner with randomized levels, sporting both a genre and a limited control scheme that seem targeted toward mobile gaming. The original creator of the title character, Edmund McMillen, who acted as artist and codesigner on SMB, was completely uninvolved in the development of the newer game. The musician Danny Baranowsky, who provided the iconic original soundtrack for Super Meat Boy, was also absent from the development of the new title due to parting ways with Team Meat after some kind of dispute in the intervening years. And for the first year that it was available, the new title was distributed on PC solely through a controversial platform: the exclusivity-favoring, light-on-features Epic Games Store.

These facts about Super Meat Boy Forever are by now well-established reasons that many players have bounced off of, negatively reviewed, or (more commonly) simply avoided the game. And seeing as I am a big fan of Super Meat Boy, and not in general a fan of most mobile games, you may suspect that I would agree with those unhappy and dismissive appraisals.

But get this: I don’t.

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[Game: Super Meat Boy Forever, Team Meat, 2020]
Bandage Man:

In Defense of Super Meat Boy Forever, the Unjustly Hated Sequel to an Indie Platforming Legend

was last modified: July 5th, 2022 by Daniel Podgorski