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Patterson in Pursuit

Interviews with intellectuals from across the globe. Exploring philosophy, politics, religion, and rationalism. Steve Patterson is an independent philosopher currently traveling the world to interview people in the pursuit of truth. Topics include logic and epistemology, skepticism, metaphysics, ethics, science and religion, truth, Christianity, Buddhism, atheism, culture, economics, the philosophy of mathematics, and every other topic that's important to humans.
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Now displaying: May, 2017
May 28, 2017

The most popular resolution to Zeno's paradoxes is to say, "Calculus solves it!" But, as I've written and spoken about before, the logic of calculus might be dubious. Can we really complete an infinite series?

My guest this week is Dr. Michael Huemer, who has recently written a book called Approaching Infinity, where he claims that the modern theory of infinities do need to be revised - that calculus does not solve Zeno's paradoxes - and that we have to distinguish between completable and non-completable infinities.

Though Dr. Huemer and I disagree on the metaphysics of mathematics, and I have an even more radical position on infinities, we agree that more work needs to be done to place modern mathematics onto sounder footing.

May 26, 2017

What's more likely: a precise description of an ambiguous world, or an ambiguous description of a precise world?

This is the modernist fallacy: to think that conceptual blurriness correctly describes a blurry world.

To me, this is silly and irrational. Ambiguous theories are flawed; they aren't positive arguments for "true ambiguity".

May 20, 2017

Postmodernist philosophy is famous for being paradoxical. Claims like "the truth is that there is no truth" or "everything is relative" are popular - especially among academics. Many proponents are even OK with explicit contradictions in their worldview.

To me, a contradiction is a demonstration of error, and not caring about intellectual consistency is a sign of dogmatism and irrationalism. But according to Dr. Stephen Hicks, that's because I have a certain psychological response to contradictions. Postmodernists have a different psychological response, and so they aren't as bothered by inconsistency.

Dr. Hicks thinks it's possible to be intellectually respectable while defending internally-inconsistent views. I don't think it's possible. What do you think?

May 18, 2017

Tai Chi master gets beat up by an MMA fighter; Chinese think it was "disrespectful" to demonstrate the truth - the Tai Chi master's "expertise" was a sham.

This kind of thing happens all the time in the martial arts and in the world of ideas. "Masters" and "experts" are frequently convinced of their own knowledge and superiority - allthewhile being deluded about the basics of their own subject matter.

May 15, 2017

This is my interview breakdown of Episode 33 - my conversation with Dr. Jody Azzouni about the metaphysics of mathematics.

The first half of our conversation was about existence, the nature of language, and whether we can say true things about objects that don't exist.

May 12, 2017

The economic principle is clear: you cannot borrow money indefinitely to pay your bills. Eventually, the bills come due. You can only delay the inevitable. This is a law of economics, and it applies to every country on earth, including the United States.

May 9, 2017

What are the fundamentals of Zen Buddhism? What is the purpose of meditation, or zazen? Is the philosophy or the practice of Buddhism more important?

I asked these questions to Keiho Nishigaki, the head monk at the Nan'yoji temple outside of Osaka, Japan. He was kind enough to work me through the basics, in addition to giving me a guided Zen meditation session.

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