[Game: Demon’s Souls, FromSoftware, 2009]
Slayer of Reason:

A Thorough Epistemological Philosophical Analysis of FromSoftware’s Demon’s Souls

 

Introduction:

From the immersive maturity of its mechanical and narrative details, to the unparalleled sense of consideration for consequences that it fosters among players, to the sheer number of genuinely unique and refreshing design risks that it takes—Demon’s Souls is as much a captivating revelation today as it was upon release. Yet, as with each of the later Miyazaki-led FromSoft games that follow in its footsteps (in fact, perhaps moreso than any of its descendants), Demon’s Souls poses numerous difficulties for analysis.

It shares the cryptic approach to storytelling and the elements of nonlinearity that crop up in all of FromSoftware’s recent works, but that’s not all. In addition, it is a game which changes from player to player and session to session in a non-random fashion. Enemy placements, enemy statistics, NPC interactions, and even the availability of a few small regions of the levels all depend to some degree on the circumstances in which the player succeeds or fails.

You will not be surprised to hear me claim, however, that the odd structure and content of Demon’s Souls nevertheless do coalesce into a coherent reading. In the interest of pursuing that reading, our primary ally will be the field of epistemology. In a nutshell, epistemology is the study of knowledge—which includes such topics as belief, truth, justification, and skepticism. Armed with tools from that and related fields of philosophy, we will explore the following interpretation: Demon’s Souls offers a discussion of the limits of human knowledge, and how people believe and act given such limits. That might sound strange or overly vague—but in the sections ahead I intend to provide specificity and support for it, through careful attention to both the game itself and the relevant philosophy.

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[Game: Demon’s Souls, FromSoftware, 2009]
Slayer of Reason:

A Thorough Epistemological Philosophical Analysis of FromSoftware’s Demon’s Souls

was last modified: February 3rd, 2024 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Critical Idealism, Empiricism, Metaphysics, Rationalism]
Controlled Demolition:

How Immanuel Kant Rescued the Field of Metaphysics by Tearing it Down

 

Immanuel Kant Sketch by M.R.P. - metaphysics

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.

Introduction:

In popular discourse, the word ‘metaphysics’ is used derisively to refer to baseless mysticism. But that’s not how philosophers use the word. In philosophy, metaphysics stands alongside topics like epistemology, ethics, and logic as a major branch of the field. Put simply, for philosophers, the word ‘metaphysics’ refers to the field that concerns itself with the nature of being. Accordingly, this field asks extremely fundamental questions, like: At the lowest level, what is there in reality? What constitutes the identity of a singular thing? And how and when does one thing ever become a different thing?

Given such important and fundamental subject matter, it may surprise you to hear Immanuel Kant’s account of the state of metaphysics toward the end of the Enlightenment: “All false art, all vain wisdom, lasts its time but finally destroys itself, and its highest culture is also the epoch of its decay. That this time is come for metaphysics appears from the state into which it has fallen among all learned nations” (Kant Prolegomena 998).

In these words, and others like them, Kant mounts an attack on the metaphysical philosophy of both his contemporaries and of the centuries leading up to his lifetime. He felt that the field amounted to little more than a highly formalized version of what the word ‘metaphysics’ conjures among laypeople today: baseless mysticism. It was baseless, he felt, because it amounted to nothing but coherent guesswork (i.e. as long as folks kept their systems consistent, they were entirely unfalsifiable); and it was mystical, he felt, because it was completely disconnected from the actual grounds of all knowledge (i.e. it was not pertinent to our actual experiences in life, our possible experiences in life, nor the conditions that make experience in general possible).

But despite these glaring flaws he identified, Kant felt the field was not entirely beyond salvaging, and he himself made a concerted effort toward clearing away the centuries of mistakes in order to provide a new and firm ground from which to build anew.

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[Topics: Critical Idealism, Empiricism, Metaphysics, Rationalism]
Controlled Demolition:

How Immanuel Kant Rescued the Field of Metaphysics by Tearing it Down

was last modified: February 3rd, 2024 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Empiricism, Pragmatism, Rationalism]
Epistemological Compromise:

On the Unintuitive (yet Vital) Compatibility of Rationalism and Empiricism

 

Introduction:

David Hume Sketch by M.R.P. - infallible foreknowledge - free will - determinism

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.

This will be another post about two apparent philosophical opposites. And just like my considerations of moral realism and anti-realism; consequentialism and deontology; and free will and determinism, I will be arguing that there is to some degree a worthwhile common ground on which philosophers can safely tread. As you’ve probably noticed, the apparent opposition for this article is that between two topics in epistemology (the study of knowledge), which both confront the question of knowledge’s basis and origin: rationalism and empiricism.

Roughly speaking, rationalists hold that some or all of our knowledge is known independent of and prior to sense experience, whereas empiricists hold that some or all of our knowledge comes solely from sense experience. For a far-reaching and specific introduction to these topics in epistemology, see this encyclopedia entry; for my (hopefully somewhat pithier) thoughts on these topics, read on.

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[Topics: Empiricism, Pragmatism, Rationalism]
Epistemological Compromise:

On the Unintuitive (yet Vital) Compatibility of Rationalism and Empiricism

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