Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bede Rundle

Bede Rundle has died. I believe he graded some of my final exams when I was an undergraduate (our exams were all graded by people other than the ones who taught us), so I've known of him for a long time. I've don't know that I've ever read anything by him, but Edward Kanterian obviously thinks highly of him:
Bede Rundle is one of the best philosophers right now, unfortunately not widely known because of his non-conformistic approach to philosophy of mind and language, which is highly [critical] of current cognitive science bubbling.  
Mohan Matthen, with whom I always seem to disagree, takes a different view (although he remembers Rundle fondly and respectfully):
Can you imagine somebody using ordinary language to investigate why there is something rather than nothing? He drove me mad. Right up until when I last saw him, he thought that empirical philosophy of mind was the craziest, most contradictory thing anybody had ever dreamed up
Sounds like time for a revival of interest in Rundle's work. (Or at least a revival of the name Bede.)  


  1. "(Or at least a revival of the name Bede.)"

    It's a venerable name.

  2. Yeah, his whole name is splendid.

    I've been thinking about Matthen's question, and I guess I want to say, well, yeah, I can imagine that. All it really takes is the supposition that "why is there something rather than nothing?" isn't something we'd ask physicists and physicists alone...

  3. It is a great name.

    And if it's true (see here) that Rundle's thesis is that the very idea of complete nothingness is unintelligible, then it would be weird to treat the question as empirical (assuming that by this thesis Rundle does not mean that there are no people to be found who find the notion intelligible, or something like that). I'm not convinced that Rundle is right about this, but I'd want to look at his arguments to decide that, not at the number of physicists named in the index.

  4. I recall Steven Hawking saying silly things about physics answering this question. Michael Thompson went on a bit of a tirade on Facebook back when this was news; he was pretty entertaining on this topic. Worth scrolling back down his wall a bit to look at, I think.

  5. I guess I need to friend Michael Thompson. Thanks for the tip.

  6. Correction: his wall is open to all to view. It really is worth a look.

  7. Is there a link to this Facebook page? It's probably just me (I'm not on Facebook and don't know my way about it) but all I can find is a list of all the thousands of Michael Thompsons on Facebook.

  8. I hope this works and doesn't violate anyone's rights (or desire for privacy):