This article compares Alexander von Humboldt's and John Ruskin's writings on landscape art and natural landscape. In particular, Humboldt's conception of a habitat's essence as predominantly composed of vegetation as well as judgment of tropical American nature as the realm of nature of the highest aesthetic enjoyment is examined in the context of Ruskin's aesthetic theory. The magnitude of Humboldt's contribution to the natural sciences seems to have clouded our appreciation of his prominent status in the field of art (...) history. In addition to his position as scientist, Humboldt's role as aesthetician is demonstrated in this paper. Unlike Ruskin, who comfortably resides in the canon of art history relative to his minor significance in the field of geology, Humboldt has not been recognized for his impact on the world of art; his tremendous scientific importance seems to have overshadowed an appreciation of it. (shrink)
Alexander von Humboldt: Counternarrative of a dissenter? Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9514-0 Authors Andreas W. Daum, History Department, 570 Park Hall, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
On February 5, 1850, the Austrian emperor Franz Josef appointed C.G. Jacob Jacobi to the position of full professor at the University of Vienna. Thanks to the efforts of Alexander von Humboldt, however, the world-famous Prussian mathematician remained in Berlin and continued in his position as a salaried member of the Academy of Sciences.This paper describes the history of Jacobiâs appointment in Vienna and his ultimate rejection of it.
Ähnlich wie Adalbert Stifters Erzähler im Roman ,,Nachsommer” verband A. v. Humboldt auf seiner Amerikareise Erkundung und Erforschung, Reiselust und Erkenntnisstreben. Humboldt hat sein doppeltes Ziel klar benannt: Bekanntmachung der besuchten Länder, Sammeln von Tatsachen zur Erweiterung der physikalischen Geographie. Der Aufsatz ist in fünf Abschnitte gegliedert: Anliegen, Route, Methoden, Ergebnisse, Auswertung.
Die Einwände, die sich hinsichtlich der Weltprobleme gegen die Philosophie richten, sind vor allem, dass sie in ihrer Ausrichtung auf die eigenen Themen die Gegenwartsprobleme nicht zur Kenntnis nimmt, oder dass ihre Begrifflichkeit zu abstrakt ist, um der Komplexität der Wirklichkeit zu genügen. Aus diesen Gründen wird von der Philosophie ein Realitätsbezug und der Kontakt mit der Gegenwart gefordert, um zur Lösung der Weltprobleme beizutragen. Im Unterschied zu diesen Einwänden behandelt der Beitrag die Frage, ob die Philosophie selbst als ein (...) Weltproblem beurteilt werden kann. Hierfür scheinen drei Grundannahmen erforderlich zu sein: 1. der "Motor" der gegenwärtigen Globalisierungsprozesse ist die westliche Kultur, die sowohl auf den modernen Naturwissenschaften als auch auf der Idee der Menschenrechte gegründet ist. Sie erzeugt zum einen durch ihre Dynamik Probleme als Weltprobleme und definiert zum anderen, was als Weltproblem zu betrachten ist. - 2. Die Philosophie ist das geistige Fundament und der ideelle Ausdruck der westlichen Kultur. Versteht man unter "Philosophie" die institutionalisierte Praxis des Reflektierens und Begründens, die ihren Maßstab an der Rationalität hat, so ist sie hinsichtlich ihrer Genese und ihrer Geltung untrennbar mit der westlichen Kultur verbunden. - 3. Die Praxis der Philosophie, ihre Standards auf Prinzipien der Rationalität zu gründen, stimmt nicht mit den Bedingungen und Strukturen des irdischen Lebens überein. Diese Annahme widerspricht sowohl einer idealistischen Ontologie, die die natürlichen Vorgänge in rationalen Strukturen gegründet sieht, als auch einer materialistischen, die Begriffe und Theorien als Abbilder natürlicher Strukturen interpretiert. Unter diesen drei Bedingungen ist die Philosophie nicht nur mit den Weltproblemen konfrontiert, sondern muss selbst als ein Weltproblem angesehen werden. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentaries on Aristotle’s Organon are valuable sources for both Stoic and early Peripatetic logic, and have often been used as such – in particular for early Peripatetic hypothetical syllogistic and Stoic propositional logic. By contrast, this paper explores the role Alexander himself played in the development and transmission of those theories. There are three areas in particular where he seems to have made a difference: First, he drew a connection between certain passages from Aristotle’s (...) Topics and Prior Analytics and the Stoic indemonstrable arguments, and, based on this connection, appropriated at least four kinds of Stoic indemonstrables as Aristotelian. Second, he developed and made use of a specifically Peripatetic terminology in which to describe and discuss those arguments – which facilitated the integration of the indemonstrables into Peripatetic logic. Third, he made some progress towards a solution to the problem of what place and interpretation the Stoic third indemonstrables should be given in a Peripatetic and Platonist setting. Overall, the picture emerges that Alexander persistently (if not always consistently) presented passages from Aristotle’s logical œuvre in a light that makes it appear as if Aristotle was in the possession of a Peripatetic correlate to the Stoic theory of indemonstrables. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: English translation of the 2nd/3rd century Peripatetic Philosopher's Alexander of Aphrodisias commentary on Aristotle's non-modal syllogistic, i.e. on one of the most influential logical texts of all times. -/- Volume includes introduction on Alexander of Aphrodisias and the early commentators, translation with notes and comments, appendices with a new translation of Aristotle's text, a summary of Aristotle's non-modal syllogistic and textual notes.
In its own contemporary context, Kant’s views on the relationship between reason and religion played a crucial role in debates about the nature of the Enlightenment. The terms of that debate, as they were most sharply formulated by F. H. Jacobi, posed an either/or choice of reason or faith, between which Kant offered a third option that would synthesize reason and faith. A newly published collection of essays, Kant’s Philosophy of Religion Reconsidered, not only echoes this debate in current terms (...) but also suggests that the unfinished business of the Enlightenment in regard to morality, religion, and the historicity of reason is still with us. (shrink)
While everyone has heard of the 'Humboldt Current', few know anything of the man after whom it was named. Yet Alexander von Humboldt was a towering figure of his time - scientist, explorer, and polymath, imbued with Enlightenment ideas - and he left a profound impact on the intellectual life of 19th century America. Aaron Sachs' colourful intellectual history rescues Humboldt from obscurity, and reveals the impact of a single European on both American thought and the environmental movement. -/- (...) Aaron Sachs traces Humboldt's legacy by focusing not only on the man himself but on the lives of other remarkable individuals who took their lead from him - explorers of the American mid-West, alienated Romantics, seminal American writers and artists, who together laid the groundwork for the great ecological tradition in 19th century America. (shrink)
A survey is presented showing an above-average performance by candidates of several Central/Eastern European countries in the world-wide competition for the Alexander von Humboldt fellowships in the period before 1989, in spite of various administrative obstacles imposed by their countries. The success rate can be linked to the traditionally relatively high level of educational standards there. The administrative obstacles are illustrated by taking the former Czechoslovakia as an example, and also by way of a personal case study.
Alexander James Dallas' An Exposition of the Causes and Character of the War was written as part of an effort by the then US government to explain and justify its declaration of war in 1812. However publication coincided with the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War. The Exposition is especially interesting for the insight it provides into the self-constraint of American foreign policy and of the conduct of a war. The focus is on the foreign (...) policy of the early republic and the related philosophy of law and war. A central idea is that international law should chiefly benefit those remaining at peace. -/- Dallas was a Philadelphian who settled there in 1783, the year of the Peace of Paris which ended the War of Independence, arriving from Jamaica after a British education. He wrote much on law, becoming the first recorder of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He later served as Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and federal district attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania, appointed by President Jefferson. He was appointed Secretary of Treasury by President Madison. -/- In this edition the original text is presented with annotations to help identify persons and events of interest. The editor has also added an Introduction, a Bibliography, a short Chronology of Dallas' life and the events of the War, and an analytical Index. As such this annotated edition presents a key primary source in a manner helpful to research for students of the early Republic. (shrink)
“Ex nihilo nihil fit,” goes the classic adage: nothing comes from nothing. Parmenides used the Principle of Sufficient Reason to argue that there was no such thing as change: If there was change, why did it happen when it happened rather than earlier or later? “Nothing happens in vain, but everything for a reason and under necessitation,” claimed Leucippus. Saint Thomas insisted in the..
When Alexander Nehamas’s path-breaking, elegantly conceived and executed book, Nietzsche: Life as Literature, first appeared in 1985, the reception of Nietzsche in the Anglo-American philosophical community was still in its initial, hesitant stages, even after the relative success of Walter Kauffmann’s much earlier, 1950 book, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Anti-Christ, and its postwar “decontamination” of Nietzsche after his appropriation by the Nazis.1 Arthur Danto’s 1964 book, Nietzsche as Philosopher, was also an important if somewhat isolated event, and there finally began (...) to appear in the seventies less well known but high quality secondary literature, like John Wilcox’s 1974 book, Truth and Value in Nietzsche, and Tracy Strong’s 1975 book on Nietzsche and politics, Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration. And when the Routledge “Arguments of the Philosophers” series brought out Richard Schacht’s lengthy 1983 book Nietzsche, the idea that Nietzsche, whatever else he was doing in his books, was making philosophical claims and devising ways to defend them, was becoming more firmly established. Many of the most successful aspects of Nehamas’s interpretation (essentially Part One of the book) spoke to what was still the early resistance to any philosophical attention to Nietzsche: the facile insistence that his “persepectivism” was a self-refuting relativism, that his attack on truth and the value of.. (shrink)
Samuel Alexander was one of the foremost philosophical figures of his day and has been argued by John Passmore to be one of ‘fathers’ of Australian philosophy as well as a novel kind of physicalist. Yet Alexander is now relatively neglected, his role in the genesis of Australian philosophy if far from widely accepted and the standard interpretation takes him to be an anti-physicalist. In this paper, I carefully examine these issues and show that Alexander has been (...) badly, although understandably, misjudged by most of his contemporary critics and interpreters. Most importantly, I show that Alexander offers an ingenious, and highly original, version of physicalism at the heart of which is a strikingly different view of the nature of the microphysical properties and associated view of emergent properties. My final conclusion will be that Passmore is correct in his claims both that Alexander is significant as one of the grandfather’s of Australian philosophy and that he provides a novel physicalist position. I will also suggest that Alexander’s emergentism is important for addressing the so-called ‘problem of mental causation’ presently dogging contemporary non-reductive physicalists. (shrink)
This is a rewarding book. In terms of area, it has one foot firmly planted in metaphysics and the other just as firmly set in the philosophy of science. Nature's Metaphysics is distinctive for its thorough and detailed defense of fundamental, natural properties as essentially dispositional and for its description of how these dispositional properties are thus suited to sustain the laws of nature as (metaphysically) necessary truths.
In assessing the veridicality of utterances, we normally seem to assess the satisfaction of conditions that the speaker had been concerned to get right in making the utterance. However, the debate about assessor-relativism about epistemic modals, predicates of taste, gradable adjectives and conditionals has been largely driven by cases in which seemingly felicitous assessments of utterances are insensitive to aspects of the context of utterance that were highly relevant to the speaker’s choice of words. In this paper, we offer an (...) explanation of why certain locutions invite insensitive assessments, focusing primarily on ’tasty’ and ’might’. We spell out some reasons why felicitous insensitive assessments are puzzling and argue briefly that recent attempts to accommodate such assessments (including attempts by John MacFarlane, Kai von Fintel and Anthony Gillies) all fail to provide more than hints at a solution to the puzzle. In the main part of the paper, we develop an account of felicitous insensitive assessments by identifying a number of pragmatic factors that influence the felicity of assessments. Before closing, we argue that the role of these factors extend beyond cases considered in the debate about assessor-relativism and fit comfortably with standard contextualist analyses of the relevant locutions. (shrink)
Alexander Nehamas calls beauty a ‘promise of happiness’ and claims that it is an object of love. While this approach appealingly places beauty at the center of both artistic passion and everyday life, it also renders it riskily personal. This discussion raises two main questions to Nehamas. The first question regards the role of happiness in the concept of beauty, for many beautiful artworks seem to acknowledge the inevitability of sorrow rather than its opposite. The second question concerns how (...) beauty may be both personal and grounded in factors sufficiently outside the self to safeguard it against the instability of individual preferences. To explore the latter issue, Nehamas's ideas are compared to those of another Platonist, Iris Murdoch. (shrink)
It is widely accepted that divine creation of human beings is compatible with evolutionary theory, except perhaps in regard of the human soul, and that neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory provides an explanation of speciation and of complex features of organisms that undercuts Paley-style teleological arguments, whether or not the evolutionary mechanisms are truly random or deterministic. I will argue that a plausible understanding of the doctrine of creation of human beings is either logically or rationally incompatible with full evolutionary theory, even (...) if one does not take souls into account. Consequently, a theist needs to move to a weaker version either of the creation doctrine or of evolutionary theory, or both. (shrink)
It is a well-known fact that Ernst Cassirer was inspired by his colleague, the biologist Jakob von Uexküll at the university of Hamburg. This paper claims this inspiration was double—affecting both Cassirer’s philosophical anthropology and Cassirer’s epistemology of biology, but in two rather different ways. Thus, the paper intends to shed light on a corner of the history of the development of German thought of the interwar period. It may also have an actual interest because both Cassirer and Uexküll enjoy, (...) for the time being and each in their way, a renaissance, e.g. in the recent field of biosemiotics. (shrink)
The most interesting and completely overlooked aspect of Ludwig von Mises’s theory of probability is the total absence of any explicit definition for probability in his theory. This paper examines Mises’s theory of probability in light of the fact that his theory possesses no definition for probability. It is argued, [...].
The physiologist and neo-Kantian philosopher Johannes von Kries (1853-1928) wrote one of the most philosophically important works on the foundation of probability after P.S. Laplace and before the First World War, his Principien der Wohrscheinlich-keitsrechnung (1886, repr. 1927). In this book, von Kries developed a highly original interpretation of probability, which maintains it to be both logical and objectively physical. After presenting his approach I shall pursue the influence it had on Ludwig Wittgenstein and Friedrich Waismann. It seems that von (...) Kries's approach had more potential than recognized in his time and that putting Waismann's and Wittgenstein's early work in a von Kries perspective is able to shed light on the notion of an elementary proposition. (shrink)
This article provides a summary overview of the ideas on medical anthropology and anthropological medicine of the German philosopher-psychiatrist Viktor Emil von Gebsattel (1883–1974), and discusses in more detail his views on the doctor-patient relationship. It is argued that Von Gebsattel''s warning against a dehumanization of medicine when the person of both patient and physician are not explicitly present in their relationship remains valid notwithstanding the modern emphasis on respect for patient (and provider) autonomy.
Preference is a key area where analytic philosophy meets philosophical logic. I start with two related issues: reasons for preference, and changes in preference, first mentioned in von Wright’s book The Logic of Preference but not thoroughly explored there. I show how these two issues can be handled together in one dynamic logical framework, working with structured two-level models, and I investigate the resulting dynamics of reason-based preference in some detail. Next, I study the foundational issue of entanglement between preference (...) and beliefs, and relate the resulting richer logics to belief revision theory and decision theory. (shrink)
In the paper it is shown that every physically sound Birkhoff – von Neumann quantum logic, i.e., an orthomodular partially ordered set with an ordering set of probability measures can be treated as partial infinite-valued Łukasiewicz logic, which unifies two competing approaches: the many-valued, and the two-valued but non-distributive, which have co-existed in the quantum logic theory since its very beginning.
I respond to the comments by Larry Hickman and Thomas Alexander about my book, A Search for Unity in Diversity: The “Permanent Hegelian Deposit” in the Philosophy of John Dewey . I focus on four issues: 1) Precisely how do I prefer to characterize Dewey’s debt to Hegel? 2) How do I justify my admittedly controversial reading of Dewey’s World War I criticisms of Hegel? 3) Where do I believe Dewey found ideas in Hegel that led him to articulate (...) the historical fallacy? 4) How do I respond to Alexander’s concern that I have underestimated the influence of William James’s Principles of Psychology (1890) on Dewey? (shrink)
Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) participated in two of the most significant developments in physics and in the philosophy of science in the 19th century: the proof that Euclidean geometry does not describe the only possible visualizable and physical space, and the shift from physics based on actions between particles at a distance to the field theory. Helmholtz achieved a staggering number of scientific results, including the formulation of energy conservation, the vortex equations for fluid dynamics, the notion of free energy (...) in thermodynamics, and the invention of the ophthalmoscope. His constant interest in the epistemology of science guarantees his enduring significance for philosophy. (shrink)
Finland is internationally known as one of the leading centers of twentieth century analytic philosophy. This volume offers for the first time an overall survey of the Finnish analytic school. The rise of this trend is illustrated by original articles of Edward Westermarck, Eino Kaila, Georg Henrik von Wright, and Jaakko Hintikka. Contributions of Finnish philosophers are then systematically discussed in the fields of logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, history of philosophy, ethics and social philosophy. Metaphilosophical reflections on (...) the nature of philosophy are highlighted by the Finnish dialogue between analytic philosophy, phenomenology, pragmatism, and critical theory. (shrink)
The renewed interest in the foundations of quantum statistical mechanics in recent years has led us to study John von Neumann’s 1929 article on the quantum ergodic theorem. We have found this almost forgotten article, which until now has been available only in German, to be a treasure chest, and to be much misunderstood. In it, von Neumann studied the long-time behavior of macroscopic quantum systems. While one of the two theorems announced in his title, the one he calls the (...) “quantum H-theorem,” is actually a much weaker statement than Boltzmann’s classical H-theorem, the other theorem, which he calls the “quantum ergodic theorem,” is a beautiful and very non-trivial result. It expresses a fact we call “normal typicality” and can be summarized as follows: For a “typical” finite family of commuting macroscopic observables, every initial wave function ψ0 from a micro-canonical energy shell so evolves that for most times t in the long run, the joint probability distribution of these observables obtained from ψt is close to their micro-canonical distribution. (shrink)
Since the beginning of the ?eighties of the present century, a circle of relatively young American sociologists who are followers of Jeffrey Alexander are making energetic and spectacular efforts to supply sociology with a uniform and comprehensive theoretical framework by continuing Talcott Parsons' lifework. The present article is an appreciation of Alexander's achievements in the justification of a general sociological theory (especially a theory of action and social order) while pointing to objections that can be raised against the (...) character of his theory. A scrutiny of Alexander's metatheoretical deliberations and of his interpretations of sociological classics such as Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and Parsons reveals that Alexander's metatheoretical frame is not flexible enough to actually reconstruct the problem situation of the classics. Pointers are given toward a theory of action that is not subject to the antinomy of utilitarianism and normativism, so that it is more adequate and appropriate to the heritage of the sociological classics, both from a theoretical and an interpretative angle. (shrink)
From a historico-cultural point of view the notion of normativity is closely tied to the apparently descriptive category of normality. This relation seems even tighter on the level of experience. As Husserl shows that normality, in the form of concordance and optimality, is a constitutive feature of experience itself. But in what sense can we speak of normativity in the realm of experience? Husserl himself saw no need to pose this question. But to explain the possibility of normal and coherent (...) perception one needs more than merely formal criteria (like concordance and its adjustment to an optimum): one must also take into account the attentional nature of perception. In this regard, the present paper will consider Husserl’s early treatment of attention and integrate it with its genetic implications on the level of affection. Doing so shows that subjective experience is characterized by a preference- structure, motivated by the embodied subject’s individual and cultural horizons of interest. It is this that allows one to speak of a precursor to normativity in the realm of experience. Moreover it can be argued that interest not only influences perception from the lowest level, but can be seen as a precondition for any current attention. Thus to speak of normativity in experience in this stronger sense, means not only that perception already contains traces of intersubjective norms; it also means that such norms determine what you can see at all. --------------------------------------------------------------------------Aus kulturgeschichtlicher Perspektive steht der Begriff Normativität in einer engen Verbindung mit der vermeintlich deskriptiven Kategorie der Normalität. Erweist sich diese Relation aber bereits auf der Ebene der sinnlichen Erfahrung als grundlegend, hat dies weitreichende Konsequenzen. Wie Husserl zeigt, ist Normalität im Sinne der formalen Kriterien von Einstimmigkeit und Optimalität selbst konstitutiv für jede Erfahrung. Um darüber hinaus die Normativität innerhalb der Erfahrung in den Blick zu bekommen, soll in diesem Beitrag die phänomenologische Beschreibung um einen wichtigen Aspekt ergänzt werden: die Aufmerksamkeit. Zu den formalen Normalitätskriterien muss eine konkrete subjektive Präferenz hinzu treten, die eine Differenzierung der Wahrnehmungsinhalte leistet. Anders lässt sich eine normale und kohärente Erfahrung nicht hinreichend erklären. Husserls frühe Arbeiten zur Aufmerksamkeit und Intentionalität sollen daher mit späteren genetischen Analysen zu einer umfassenderen Konzeption von Aufmerksamkeit verbunden werden. Hierbei wird deutlich, dass jede subjektive Erfahrung durch ihre präferenzielle Struktur charakterisiert ist, die sowohl von individuellen als auch kulturellen Interessenshorizonten des leiblichen Subjekts motiviert ist. Dies erlaubt es, von einer rudimentären Form der Normativität innerhalb der Erfahrung zu sprechen. Diese immer schon intersubjektiven Interessensdimensionen beeinflussen weiterhin jedes Aufmerksamkeitsverhalten von den untersten Stufen der Wahrnehmung bis hin zu höheren Geistesakten. Normativität in einem starken Sinne meint damit nicht nur, dass sich die Spuren intersubjektiver Normen bereits innerhalb der Wahrnehmung finden lassen. Vielmehr bestimmen diese Normen, was wir im Einzelfall überhaupt sehen können. (shrink)
Group selection is increasingly being viewed as an important force in human evolution. This paper examines the views of R.D. Alexander, one of the most influential thinkers about human behavior from an evolutionary perspective, on the subject of group selection. Alexander's general conception of evolution is based on the gene-centered approach of G.C. Williams, but he has also emphasized a potential role for group selection in the evolution of individual genomes and in human evolution. Alexander's views are (...) internally inconsistent and underestimate the importance of group selection. Specific themes that Alexander has developed in his account of human evolution are important but are best understood within the framework of multilevel selection theory. From this perspective, Alexander's views on moral systems are not the radical departure from conventional views that he claims, but remain radical in another way more compatible with conventional views. (shrink)
Constructivism rejects the metaphysical position that “truth”, and thus knowledge in science, can represent an “objective” reality, independent of the knower. It modifies the role of knowledge from “true” representation to functional viability. In this interview, Ernst von Glasersfeld, the leading proponent of Radical Constructivism underlines the inaccessibility of reality, and proposes his view that the function of cognition is adaptive, in the biological sense: the adaptation is the result of the elimination of all that is not adapted. There is (...) no rational way of knowing anything outside the domain of our experience and we construct our world of experiences. In addition to these philosophical claims, the interviewee provides some personal insights; he also gives some suggestions about better teaching and problem solving. These are the aspects of constructivism that have had a major impact on instruction and have modified the manner many of us teach. The process of teaching as linguistic communication, he says, needs to change in a way to involve actively the students in the construction of their knowledge. Because knowledge is not a transferable commodity, learning is mainly identified with the activity of the construction of personal meaning. This interview also provides glimpses on von Glasersfeld’s life. (shrink)
Research into learners' ideas about science suggests that students often have alternative conceptions about important science concepts. Because of this dissatisfaction, constructivism has been adopted as a theoretical framework by many teachers and researchers, and it has had a curricular influence in many countries. Constructivism is much more than an educational doctrine and we are aware that a ‘science war’ about the possibility of objectivity is in progress. ‘Constructivism’ cannot necessary be a package deal: it must be possible to accept (...) educational suggestions deemed useful without buying all the epistemology or the metaphysical implications. The claim that cognitive agents understand the world by constructing mental representations of it can be a shared suggestion for changing science instruction. Many teachers are much more concerned in finding productive teaching methods than about philosophical questions as if knowledge must be considered an objective representation of the real world or not. We have to ponder if some ideas from the constructivist theory of instruction can help instructors to become better teachers. The pragmatic suggestions that come from the constructivist theory of instruction developed by von Glasersfeld, the leading proponent of radical constructivism, could be a good start in this␣search. (shrink)
n diesem Kapitel soll das Problem ›Was genstand dieses Kapitels. Wir werden sehen, ist Kunst?‹, wie es sich für die analytische dass sich diese Adäquatheitsbedingungen aus Kunstphilosophie stellt, erläutert und eine Reiunserer Auffassung von analytischer Philosohe von »Adäquatheitsbedingungen« für seine phie heraus begründen lassen. Dieses zweite möglichen Lösungen formuliert werden. Adä- Kapitel bereitet also gewissermaßen den theoquatheitsbedingungen sind dabei Anforderunretischen Boden für die Folgekapitel. gen, die wir an eine potentielle Problemlösung Wie aus der Charakterisierung der analystellen und die eine Bewertung (...) der verschietischen Philosophie im ersten Kapitel bereits denen vorgebrachten Lösungsvorschläge zudeutlich geworden sein sollte, ist ein Charaklassen. Solche Adäquatheitsbedingungen erteristikum der analytischen Philosophie in jegeben sich zum Teil aus der Wissenschaftsdem Fall in der arbeitsteiligen Organisation ihgeschichte einer Disziplin: Vorgebrachte Lö- rer Forschungsanstrengungen zu sehen – ein sungsvorschläge können bestimmte Aspekte Charakteristikum, das Rudolf Carnap bereits eines Problems erhellen, stoßen bei anderen im Vorwort zu seiner Habilitationsschrift Aspekten aber unter Umständen auf neue Pro-. (shrink)
We discuss the content and significance of John von Neumann’s quantum ergodic theorem (QET) of 1929, a strong result arising from the mere mathematical structure of quantum mechanics. The QET is a precise formulation of what we call normal typicality, i.e., the statement that, for typical large systems, every initial wave function ψ0 from an energy shell is “normal”: it evolves in such a way that |ψt ψt| is, for most t, macroscopically equivalent to the micro-canonical density matrix. The QET (...) has been mostly forgotten after it was criticized as a dynamically vacuous statement in several papers in the 1950s. However, we point out that this criticism does not apply to the actual QET, a correct statement of which does not appear in these papers, but to a different (indeed weaker) statement. Furthermore, we formulate a stronger statement of normal typicality, based on the observation that the bound on the deviations from the average specified by von Neumann is unnecessarily coarse and a much tighter (and more relevant) bound actually follows from his proof. (shrink)
We extend the topos-theoretic treatment given in previous papers of assigning values to quantities in quantum theory, and of related issues such as the Kochen-Specker theorem. This extension has two main parts: the use of von Neumann algebras as a base category (Section 2); and the relation of our generalized valuations to (i) the assignment to quantities of intervals of real numbers, and (ii) the idea of a subobject of the coarse-graining presheaf (Section 3).
A recombinationist like the earlier Armstrong (1989) claims that logically possible worlds are recombinations of items found in the actual world, with some items reduplicated if need be and others deleted. An immediate consequence of this is that if an..
This essay sets out from a reading of two photomontage projects by South African artist Jane Alexander, ?Adventure Centre? (2000) and ?Survey: Cape of Good Hope? (2005?09), one of Alexander's ongoing ?survey? projects, and remarks on the overwhelming impulse on the part of critics and interpreters to anthropomorphize the figures appearing in the photomontage images. It goes on to explore the hypothesis that Alexander's work in fact resists or refuses these attempts at anthropomorphization, and that this resistance (...) is connected with the more openly political aspects of her work, as well as with a more general refusal of anthropomorphism by photography. The second part of the essay frames a possible engagement with Alexander's photomontages through terms offered by Walter Benjamin's ?Little History of Photography,? and looks at Benjamin's peculiar concern with a kind of anti-portraiture: a photographic genre that would feature the human face in an anonymous way, without being concerned with identity. The essay closes with a consideration of the genre of the photographic survey historically, and traces an impulse, evident in the survey, to treat the human as only one of many figural elements composing the crypto-industrial landscape. (shrink)
Describing the methodology of a prominent mathematician can be an over-ambitious task, especially if the mathematician in question has made crucial contributions to almost the whole of mathematical science. John von Neumann’s case study falls within this category. Nonetheless, we can still provide a clear picture of von Neumann’s methodology of science. Recent literature has clarified its key feature—the opportunistic approach to axiomatics—and has laid out its main principles. To be honest, this work can hardly be superseded. What I would (...) like to do is to complete the picture by adding one more step and emphasizing a point so far neglected, namely the role of Hilbert’s ideal in von Neumann’s epistemology. Von .. (shrink)
Abstract Von Neumann (1932, Ch. 5) argued by means of a thought experiment involving measurements of spin observables that the quantum mechanical quantity is conceptually equivalent to thermodynamic entropy. We analyze Von Neumann's thought experiment and show that his argument fails. Over the past few years there has been a dispute in the literature regarding the Von Neumann entropy. It turns out that each contribution to this dispute (Shenker 1999, Henderson 2001, Hemmo 2003) addressed a different special case. In this (...) paper we generalize the discussion and examine the full matrix of possibilities that are relevant for the evaluation and understanding of Von Neumann’s argument. (shrink)
This is an essay about language, thought, and culture in general, and about Ancient Greek and Classical Chinese in particular. It is about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which says that language influences the mind, and applies this hypothesis to Greek and Chinese. It is also an essay in comparative philosophy as well as a contribution to the history of ideas. From the language side, I rely on the nineteenth-century German linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, and from the culture side on the contemporary (...) French sinologist François Jullien. Combining their ideas, I give substance to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and explain some of Jullien's claims about the historical and political developments of Chinese culture. The central .. (shrink)
We undertake the comparison between Ludwig von Bertalanffy's General Systems Theory and Alexandr Bodganov's Tektology as two theories proposing a holistic interpretation of reality and claiming to solve problems which are unsolvable via conventional philosophic and scientific theories and methodologies. Basic misunderstandings by some Soviet authors regarding the nature of these theories — especially in the case of Tektology — are pointed out. The comparison is made in what concerns the general origins and purposes of the theories, their approaches to (...) the problem of organization, their treatment of mathematics and their understanding of the cybernetic concept of regulation.We contend that Tektologycontains — some 15 years earlier — all the basic concepts which will be later developed by the General Theory of Systems. As we shall see, Tektology is the ultimate expansion of any theory of systems. This fact is widely ignored in contemporary specialized literature. (shrink)
In the BODY WORLDS exhibitions currently touring the United States, Gunther von Hagens displays human cadavers preserved through plastination. Whole bodies are playfully posed and exposed to educate the public. However, the educational aims are ambiguous, and some aspects of the exhibit violate human dignity. In particular, the signature cards attached to the whole-body plastinates that bear the title, the signature of Gunther von Hagens, and the date of creation mark the plastinates as artwork and von Hagens as the artist (...) in a gesture that strips the personal dignity from the donors. I conclude that the educational use of cadavers is compatible with respect for dignity if: 1) the utility of such use is great enough; 2) there are no other ways of achieving these ends; and 3) every effort is made to honor the dignity of the donors. (shrink)
Alexander Nehamas and others have recently attempted to revive a conception of ethics that is centered on self-formation and the values of aesthetic coherence. This conception faces several difficulties, including the lack of fit between models of aesthetic coherence in literary works and individual lives and an absence of determinate content. The argument of this paper is that both of these defects are absent from the work of one of the earliest and most vocal exponents of this conception of (...) ethics, Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772–1801), better known by his pseudonym “Novalis”. The paper begins by reviewing the growing consensus among scholars that Novalis makes a serious contribution to philosophy, and by pointing out the lack of attention paid to his moral philosophy. His conception of moral life as an infinite process of approximation the archetypal unity of the divine is then explicated in detail. Particular attention is paid to the manner in which his model of moral life and conception of aesthetic coherence avoids some of the difficulties faced by more recent theorists. (shrink)
In his last papers about deontic logic, von Wright sustained that there is no genuine logic of norms. We argue in this paper that this striking statement by the father of deontic logic should not be understood as a death sentence to the subject. Rather, it indicates a profound change in von Wright's understanding about the epistemic and ontological role of logic in the field of norms. Instead of a logical constructivism of deontic systems revealing a necessary structure of prescriptive (...) discourse, which marked his earlier efforts, he adopted the view that such systems should be seem as mere objects of comparison, i.e. as providing practical standards of rationality for normgiving activity. Within such view he proposed an interpretation of standard deontic logic in such a way to free deontic logicians from the philosophical difficulties related to the so-called Jørgensen's dilemma and deontic paradoxes. This effort, as we claim in the present paper, is an application of Wittgenstein's therapeutic method to dissolve philosophical difficulties caused by the use of logical tools to model relations between norms. (shrink)
Two texts that raise problems for Alexander of Aphrodisias' theory of universals are examined. "De anima" 90.2-8 appears to suggest that universals are dependent on thought for their existence; this raises questions about the status both of universals and of forms. It is suggested that the passage is best interpreted as indicating that universals are dependent on thought only for their being recognised as universals. The last sentence of "Quaestio" 1.11 seems to assert that if the universal did not (...) exist no individual would exist, thereby contradicting Alexander's position elsewhere. This seems to be a slip resulting from the fact that species with only one member are the exception rather than the rule. (shrink)
In this essay Clarence Joldersma explores radical constructivism through the work of its most well-known advocate, Ernst von Glasersfeld, who combines a sophisticated philosophical discussion of knowledge and truth with educational practices. Joldersma uses Joseph Rouse's work in philosophy of science to criticize the antirealism inherent in radical constructivism, emphasizing that Rouse's Heideggerian critique differs from the standard realist defense of modernist epistemology. Next, Joldersma develops an alternative conception of truth, in terms of disclosure, based on Lambert Zuidervaart's work in (...) aesthetics. Joldersma concludes by arguing that this notion of truth avoids the pitfalls of both realism and antirealism, giving educational theorists a way forward to accept some of the major insights of constructivism with respect to learning and teaching without having to relinquish a robust notion of truth. (shrink)
Around 1989, a striking letter written in March 1956 from Kurt Gödel to John von Neumann came to light. It poses some problems about the complexity of algorithms; in particular, it asks a question that can be seen as the first formulation of the P=?NP question. This paper discusses some of the background to this letter, including von Neumann's own ideas on complexity theory. Von Neumann had already raised explicit questions about the complexity of Tarski's decision procedure for elementary algebra (...) and geometry in a letter of 1949 to J. C. C. McKinsey. The paper concludes with a discussion of why theoretical computer science did not emerge as a separate discipline until the 1960s. (shrink)
This article makes use of the thinking of both Max Scheler and Dietrich von Hildebrand in attempting properly to understand the nature of humility. The article examines how gratitude and truthfulness are both present, in an essentially integrated fashion, when a person exists in a humble state. Also addressed is the converse proposition, namely, that gratitude and truthfulness are absent in theperson who exists in a proud state and are replaced in that person by their respective opposites, ingratitude and mendacity. (...) The article begins with a discussion of Scheler’s view of humility as gratitude, then investigates von Hildebrand’s notion that humility is truth. In presenting their ideas, the article identifies three distinct ways in which von Hildebrand’s analysis of humility in terms of truthfulnesscomplements and expands upon Scheler’s analysis of humility in terms of gratitude. These three distinct yet complementary ways are, respectively, ontological, psychological, and ethical in nature. (shrink)
How does the Umwelt concept of Jakob von UexkuÈll ®t into current discussions within theoretical biology, philosophy of biology, biosemiotics, and Arti®cial Life, particularly the research on `autonomous systems' and robots? To investigate this question, the approach here is not historical UexkuÈll scholarship exposing the original core of philosophical ideas that provided an important background for the original conception of the Umwelt in the writings of Jakob von UexkuÈll (some of which seem incompatible with a modern evolutionist perspective); rather, I (...) will show that some aspects of his thoughts are still interesting and provide inspiration in contemporary biology, cognitive science, and other ®elds. Therefore, I will also draw upon his son Thure von UexkuÈll's re¯ections in his further development of the Umwelt theory, which is not anti-evolutionary (his father's approach was anti-Darwinian, which is not the same as anti-evolutionary though often interpreted as such). Speci®cally, I will investigate the plausibility of three theses: (1) The Umwelt theory of Jakob von UexkuÈll, even though his theoretical biology was often characterized as being thoroughly vitalist, can in the context of contemporary science, more adequately be interpreted as a branch of qualitative organicism in theoretical biology. Qualitative organicism is a position which claims, ®rst, a kind of middle road position, that is, on the one hand, there are no mysterious or non-material vital powers in organisms (non-vitalism), but on the other hand, the characteristic properties of living beings cannot be fully accounted for by physics and chemistry because these properties are nonreducible emergent properties (emergentism); second, that some of these emergent properties have an experiential, phenomenal, or subjective character which plays a major role in the dynamics of the living system. Modern biosemiotics (inspired by C. S. Peirce and Jakob von UexkuÈll, instituted by.. (shrink)