“Nowhere Else but in the Here and Now”: Temporality, incompressibility, and creativity in human action
Jenann Ismael (Columbia University)

June 9, 2022, 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science, Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven

Kardinaal Mercierzaal
Kardinaal Mercierplein 2
Leuven 3000


KU Leuven

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There's an image of determinism and that has had a grip on the philosophical imagination since Newton. It shows a universe unfolding with inexorable necessity from initial conditions that were in place at the beginning of time. Physics has changed a lot since Newton. The notion of an initial moment for the universe, for example, no longer makes good sense and we no longer think of the universe as unfolding in time. Even though classical physics remains deterministic, its laws are local, not global. And we have come to understand a good deal better the natural processes that produce order and the forms that creativity takes, especially in the biosphere.  The result is a view of the natural world – and the place of human action in it – that is quite different from the one codified in the Newtonian image. I want to convey something of this image and what a particular events  – e.g., Philip Larkin writing Aubade, a child thinking through a decision, you coming home after a long day and foraging in the fridge for dinner ideas – looks like in it. The task will be to see what things look like when we absorb agency into the physical world.


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