International Society for Philosophers

International Society for Philosophers

Wisdom begins with wonder

PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS                   ISSN 2043-0728


Issue No. 203 28th July 2016


Edited by Matthew Sims

I. 'Interlevel Causation and External Causes' by Marco Totolo

II. 'Freedom in Hegel -- Why the Concept of Self-Consciousness is a Precondition for a Theory of Causality' by Norman Schultz

III. 'Causality and the Human Condition' by Linus Gabrielsson

IV. 'Final Causes and Actions' by Matthew Sims

From the List Manager

V. 'Philosophizer' by Geoffrey Klempner -- on Kindle

VI. SAPERE Annual Conference: The Impact of Philosophy for Children (P4C)

VII. Chelmsford Philosophy Conversation



In the sciences, specialization might be supposed to be a response to theoretical confirmation and new research programs that spring into place in the wake of confirmation. For instance, some hypothesis is tested and confirmed and other competing hypotheses discarded. Following this the theories branching from the confirmed hypothesis are then themselves tested and confirmed, giving way to further branches and new sets of questions and theories to be constructed to coherently explain them. Philosophers today, like scientists, focus their attention both on older problems that haven't gone away-viewed through the lens of contemporary empirical findings-and a significant set of new problems. Every discipline that may be put in place to acquire knowledge regarding some class of phenomena is also subject to philosophical analysis. Accordingly, in the light of the multifarious disciplinary specializations born in the last century, there is at least one plausible reason as to why philosophy has been subject to the same trend of specialization; philosophical analysis is often required in coming to an understanding of the limitations that those developing disciplines face theoretically and practically [...]



(c) Matthew Sims 2016


About the editor: https:---



Interlevel causation, also called bottom-up or top-down causation, is a type of relation between entities defined at different levels of aggregations.

Apparently, when we say that an entity at a lower level causes one at a higher level of which the former is a part of, we have a problem of circularity: the part causes the whole, but as the whole is also composed by that part, the part ends up being a cause of itself. The same pattern applies to top-down cases: the whole causes one of its parts and therefore can be said to be a cause of itself.

The part-whole relationship that arises in a system with different levels can be described as the relation between a mechanism and its parts. A mechanism can be defined as 'a structure performing a function in virtue of its component parts, component operation and their organisation. The orchestrated functioning is responsible for one or more phenomena' (Bechtel & Abrahamsen 2005). The part-whole relation instantiated by a mechanism is therefore always local and relative to the specific activities carried out by the mechanism and by its parts [...]



(c) Marco Totolo 2016




The idea of nature is often contrasted with the idea of freedom. On the one hand, nature is understood as a closed system of causal relations; on the other hand, freedom is perceived as an intervention within such a closed system. Freedom, moreover, means that such actions are not only an intervention in the causal system, but that there is also an agent who experiences these interventions as justifiably his actions. Pippin writes therefore about the mine-ness of an action:

     If they are 'mine,' they shouldn't seem or be alien, as if
     belonging to or produced by someone or something else or as
     if fated or coerced or practically unavoidable, and so
     forth. (Pippin, R. 2008, p.37)

This means that if actions were caused by something else in me, or outside of me, these actions could not be called mine and thus they would not be free. We can, however, conceptualize ourselves as being embedded in a network of causal relations, and can understand each of our actions as being caused by something else. This perspectival possibility is in contradiction with our common conception of freedom [...]



(c) Norman Schultz 2016



In this essay I will look at different ways in which psychology, social context and evolution shape human cognition, influence our outlook and inform our notions of causality in the world.

The notion that our thoughts and feelings have a direct and unmediated agentive and causal effect on the world outside of our bodies is persistent in our thinking. We can see this line of reasoning in biblical proverbs ('faith can move mountains' ), it is a fundamental tenet of various new age thought systems and it appears as an explanation for improbable co-occurrences in every day life ('just as I was thinking about traffic accidents my aunt called and said she'd been in a car crash'). We constantly have to remind ourselves of the subjective nature of taste and values and it's an open question whether we ever truly internalise the insight that our feelings and preferences lack any external validity. Most of us learn to accept that people have different taste in food and music but when it comes to more important issues, like politics or ethics, we have a hard time reconciling ourselves with the fact that people might genuinely have different preferences. The stronger the emotional component of a particular point of view, the harder it is to tolerate deviations from what we perceive as the right way of seeing things. From the inside, it feels like our emotional state is a direct and inevitable function of what happens around us and that our preferences and reactions are merely the obvious and natural way to respond to the way the world is. When confronted with other people who feel and respond differently to us in similar circumstances, their behaviour requires an explanation. A common way of resolving this conundrum is by reference to some quirk or peculiarity in their personality. Thus, we have a strong tendency to view our behaviour as externally caused and the behaviour of others as driven by internal traits. The same pattern emerges when it comes to our convictions. We believe what we do because our beliefs are true, otherwise we wouldn't hold them. This feeling of having mostly correct beliefs about the world seems relatively constant, regardless of how often we change our minds about specific propositions. And the more strongly we hold our beliefs-be they ideological, religious or ethical-the more they appear to be given by the nature of things. As to those other people who have views that are incompatible with ours, well... they must surely be either ignorant, mistaken or insincere [...]



(c) Linus Gabrielsson 2016

Email: linusgabrielsson(at)



In his book Physics, Aristotle explicates a system of causes, classing them as four distinct types of explanation. When expressing the material cause of X, one provides an explanation of 'that out of which X becomes'. The bronze, by which some particular statue of Socrates is constructed is an example of its material cause. In denoting an object's formal cause, one provides an explanation as to 'that which is essential to X's being'. In this case it would be the likeness of Socrates which would be identified as its formal cause given that this very statue could not be what it is if it were the case that it somehow ceased to be a likeness of Socrates. 'That which is the source of motion or rest in X' is the explanation underlying the efficient cause. The efficient cause of our canonical example is the artisan's exercising of her knowledge of sculpting that she actively engages in while sculpting this particular statue of Socrates. Aristotle's last cause, what he calls final cause, explains 'that for the sake of which X comes to be or is'. The artisan's intention that the statue should be a likeness of Socrates denotes what its final cause is. Aristotle makes explicit that those things which are final and formal causes of X are often coextensive 'for the 'what' and 'for the sake of which' are one' (Physics 198a 23-26). This is especially so in natural beings.

The point in my having just given a general presentation Aristotle's causes is to emphasize the fact that they are to be understood as various types of interconnected explanations. In this essay, however, I will not be concerned with carrying out an in-depth analysis all of Aristotle's causes nor arguing for (or against) the importance of any one of them with regard to its place in providing complete and systematic analysis of causation. Rather, my aim here will be a more modest one [...]



(c) Matthew Sims 2016




I am pleased to announce that my new work 'Philosophizer' has been released as a Kindle e-book. Published on 25th July, the book began as a small experiment in creative writing which took on a life of its own, expanding to over 40,000 words.

As the work developed, I found myself getting deeper and deeper into the (still) unsolved problems of metaphysics and the question of what what is is -- 'the elephant in the room'. I don't feel any nearer to a solution and yet something as been achieved: my sense of wonder has increased, if such a thing is possible after 40 years of study.

Four of the thirty-six chapters have been made into YouTube videos (more may be on the way):

     The deep mystery of things http:---
     Philosophizer know thyself http:---
     Philosophers and sophists http:---
     The elephant in the room http:---

There is also a downloadable PDF Preview of the first seven chapters available from http:--- (see below).

I am extremely grateful to all the friends and colleagues who read the various versions of the work and offered comments. Not all the comments were favourable. Some of the reactions I received were shocked, some bemused, but many more were positive and encouraging -- sufficiently many to prompt me to overcome my initial diffidence about exposing my writing to a wider, and possibly more critical audience.

For the price of a couple of pints of best bitter at a Sheffield pub (6.10 GBP, or 7.99 USD) you can judge for yourself!

Or, alternatively, you can sign up for the six Pathways to Philosophy and receive the Kindle book for free:


(There are also free copies in MOBI or PDF format available for review on Amazon. Email for more details.)

Here is the UK Amazon web page for Philosophizer:


     An idiosyncratic inquiry into the fundamental questions of
     philosophy and what it means to be a philosopher outside
     the Academy in the 21st Century.
     'Reading this book made me feel good--if Salinger, (the
     early) Woody Allen, (the later) Wittgenstein, Julio
     Cortazar, Mallarme, Patti Smith, and Baudrillard attempted
     to write a book together, it would be like this...
     Including the sound of r'n'r of the 1960s and 1970s.'
     -- Sanja Ivic
     'Your saying that it has a joyful tone is very accurate.
     It's a kind of celebration of philosophy on philosophy's
     own terms; love of wisdom via criticality--a search for
     hard-nosed metaphysical objectivity by means of a
     vulnerable and very personal investigation.'
     -- Matthew Sims
     Geoffrey Klempner is author of 'Naive Metaphysics' (Avebury
     1994). He is Director of Pathways to Philosophy
     https:--- and founder member of the
     International Society for Philosophers https:---.
     A downloadable Preview of 'Philosophizer' and a photo
     gallery can be found online at http:---.

(c) Geoffrey Klempner 2016




Thinking about booking your place on the SAPERE conference? Don't delay!

The Impact of Philosophy for Children with two fantastic speakers:

Dr Charlotte Blease -- 'The Impact of P4C across the curriculum'

     Charlotte is a cognitive scientist and philosopher of
     medicine. She is currently Wellcome Trust ISSF Research
     Fellow at the Centre for Medical Humanities, University of
     Leeds and Research Affiliate at the Program in Placebo
     Studies, Harvard Medical School.

Professor Stephen Gorard -- 'P4C research, EEF summery and what's next'

     Stephen is Professor of Education and Public policy and
     Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute at Durham
     University, and Horary Professorial Fellow at the
     University of Birmingham.

Date and Time: Thursday 17th November 2016, 9am to 3.45pm

Venue: Royal National Hotel, Russell Square, London, WC1B 5BB

Cost: 125 -- SAPERE Trainers and members (those who have paid an annual membership fee)
      150 -- for non SAPERE members

For more information and to book your place on the conference click here:


Kind regards,

Karen Bunting

Schools Liaison SAPERE
Culham Innovation Centre D5 Culham Science Park Abingdon
OX14 3DB
Tel: 01865 408333



From: Andrew Lewis Sent: 20 July 2016 To: 'Geoffrey Klempner' Subject: Chelmsford Philosophy Conversation

Hi Geoffrey!

Well I am getting the philosophy weekend off the ground, and would be grateful if you would include a brief note as follows in your next editions of your pathways magazine, please:


Announcing the 'Chelmsford Philosophy Conversation' weekend at Writtle University College on 22nd-23rd October 2016 for general discussion of things in a philosophical way, including:

1) The ethics of implementing robots

2) The ethical positions resulting from climate change

3) General Philosophical problems

4) Open stage

Get your tickets at: http:---

All 18+ welcome.


Many thanks,

Andrew J Lewis MSc FLS Director Chelmsford, UK. 44-(0)7710 588318

© Geoffrey Klempner 2002–2020