Both morality and theories of morality play many distinctive—and sometimes apparently conflicting—functions: they identify and prohibit wrongful aggression; they chart and analyze basic duties; they present ideals for emulation; they set the terms or justice, rights and entitlements; they characterize the norms of basic decency and neighborliness. Since many of these can, in practice, come into conflict with one another, morality provides guidance for integrating priorities. Claims to morality can, however, be misused as well as used: sanctimonious self-righteousness, self-centered moral (...) narcisism and deflecting, misleading justification all present an abusive mask of morality. In this paper, I analyze both the use and abuse of morality and offer an account of its appropriate use, as presenting multiple heuristic questions for reflection. (shrink)
Aristotle’s phronimos is a model of the virtues: he fuses sound practical reasoning with well formed desires. Among the skills of practical reasoning are those of finding the right words and arguments in the process of deliberation. As Aristotle puts it, virtue involves doing the right thing at the right time and for the right reason. Speaking well, saying the right thing in the right way is not limited to public oratory: it pervades practical life. Aristotle’s phronimos must acquire the (...) habits that are engaged in rhetorical persuasion. (shrink)
Near the outset of Faust, Goethe sets his protagonist to translating the beginning of the Book of John. Dissatisfied with translating logos as Word, Faust tries "In the beginning was Mind" (Sinn), but he quickly retreats: "Can it be Mind what makes and shapes all things? Surely it should be 'In the beginning was Power (Kraft).'" Yet reflecting that Power might be merely latent, merely potential, he perseveres until finally Spirit (Geist) prompts Faust to settle on, "In the beginning was (...) the Deed (That)!"1With the restless ambition of Faust, Jean-Paul Sartre tries to find the origins of self-consciousness in a move from Word to Deed, inspired by an account of Jean Genet's foster-mother branding the .. (shrink)
To be rational is to be engaged in collaborative, corrigible, historically informed inquiry and deliberation. Critical intelligence is merely the beginning of rationality. Substantive rationality also requires reflective and imaginative inquiry. Its active exercise presupposes trust and mandates a commitment to the common good, to responsible attempts to create the political institutions and social conditions on which intellectual and political trust can flourish. Without these, formal and calculative intelligence are – however brilliant – mere cleverness; and without these, rationality can (...) undo itself. (shrink)
Lively current debates about narratives of historical progress, the conditions for international justice, and the implications of globalisation have prompted a renewed interest in Kant's Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim. The essays in this volume, written by distinguished contributors, discuss the questions that are at the core of Kant's investigations. Does the study of history convey any philosophical insight? Can it provide political guidance? How are we to understand the destructive and bloody upheavals that constitute so (...) much of human experience? What connections, if any, can be traced between politics, economics, and morality? What is the relation between the rule of law in the nation state and the advancement of a cosmopolitan political order? These questions and others are examined and discussed in a book that will be of interest to philosophers, social and political theorists, and intellectual and cultural historians. (shrink)
Philosophy is a dangerous profession, risking censorship, prison, even death. And no wonder: philosophers have questioned traditional pieties and threatened the established political order. Some claimed to know what was thought unknowable; others doubted what was believed to be certain. Some attacked religion in the name of science; others attacked science in the name of mystical poetry; some served tyrants; others were radical revolutionaries. This historically based collection of philosophers' reflections--the letters, journals, prefaces that reveal their hopes and hesitations, their (...) triumphs and struggles, their deepest doubts and convictions--allow us to witness philosophical thought-in-process. It sheds light on the many--and conflicting--aims of philosophy: to express skepticism or overcome it, to support theology or attack it, to develop an ethical system or reduce it to practical politics. As their audiences differed, philosophers experimented with distinctive rhetorical strategies, writing dialogues, meditations, treatises, aphorisms. Ranging from Plato to Hannah Arendt, with contributions from 44 philosophers (Augustine, Maimonides, AlGhazali, Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, among others) this remarkable collection documents philosophers' claim that they change as well as understand the world. In her introductory essay, "Witnessing Philosophers," Amelie Rorty locates philosophers' reflections in the larger context of the many facets of their other activities and commitments. (shrink)
This is the first anthology to present the full range of the many forms evil. Rorty has assembled a collection of readings that include not only the most common forms of evil, such as vice, sin, cruelty and crime, but also some which are less well known, like disobedience and willfulness. The readings are drawn from a rich array of historical, philosophical, theological, literary, dramatic, psychological and legal perspectives.
Philosophers on Education provides the most comprehensive history of philosphers' views and impacts on the direction of education, from Plato to Dewey. As Amelie Oksenberg Rorty explains in describing a history of education, we are essentially describing and gaining the clearest understanding of the issues that presently concern and divide us. Philosophical reflection on education has usually been directed to the education of rulers, to those who are presumed to preserve and transmit--or to redirect and transform--the culture of sociey, its (...) knowledge and values. Every historical era is marked by a struggle among claimants to that power. It is only late in the history of liberal democracies that educational policy was formulated for and directed toward autonomous individuals who structure their own lives. The contributors to this collection recognize that history remains actively embedded and expressed in society's beliefs and practices, and that the study of the history of philosophy mandates reflection on its implications for education. The all new essays are written by some of the finest contemporary philosophers: Elizabeth Anderson, Annette C. Baier, Frederick B. Beiser, Eva T. H. Brann, M.F. Burnyeat, William Galston, Daniel Garber, Peter Gay, Alvin I. Goldman, Moshe Halbertal, Tova Hartman Halbertal, Simon Harrison, Barbara Herman, Genevieve Lloyd, Alasdair MacIntyre, Richard W. Miller, Roy P. Mottahedeh, Adam Phillips, Philip L. Quinn, C.D.C. Reeve, Patrick Riley, Amelie Oksenberg Rorty, Emma Rothschild, Alan Ryan, Richard Schacht, Josef Stern, Richard Tuck, Thomas E. Uebel, Jeremy Waldron, Allen Wood, Paul Woodruff, Jean S. Yolton, John W. Yolton, Zhang LoShan (pseudonym). (shrink)
Philosophic writing appears in a variety of genres, addressed to a variety of audiences; it appears nestled within distinctive 'enterprises' : Plato, Berkeley and Hume wrote dialogues; Augustine and Rousseau wrote autobiographical confessions; Mill and Bernard Williams wrote reports to Parliament; Boethius and Descartes wrote meditations; Bacon, Montaign and Hume wrote essays; Aquinas and our contemporaries contribte articles;Leibniz and Hume wrote histories' they all wrote letters and discourses.
Plato's dialogues can be read as a carefully staged exhibition and investigation of paideia, education in the broadest sense, including all that affects the formation of character and mind. The twentieth century textbook Plato — the Plato of the Myth of the Cave and the Divided Line, the ascent to the Good through Forms and Ideas — is but one of his elusive multiple authorial personae, each taking a different perspective on his investigations. As its focused problems differ, each Platonic (...) dialogue exhibits a somewhat different model for learning; each adds a distinctive dimension to Plato's fully considered counsel for education. Setting aside the important difficult questions about the chronological sequence in which the dialogues were written and revised, we can trace the argumentative rationale of Plato's fully considered views on paideia, on who should be educated by whom for what, on the stages and presuppositions of different kinds of learning. Those views are inextricably connected with his views about the structure of the soul, about the virtues and the politeia that can sustain a good life; and about cosmology and metaphysics. (shrink)
Akrasia is not always --or only-- a solitary failure to act on a person's judgment of what is, all things considered, best. Nor is it always a species of moral or ethical failure prompted by a form of irrationality. It is often prompted by social support and sustained by structuring political institutions.
Bringing together a group of outstanding new essays on Aristotle's De Anima, this book covers topics such as the relation between soul and body, sense-perception, imagination, memory, desire, and thought, which present the philosophical substance of Aristotle's views to the modern reader. The contributors write with philosophical subtlety and wide-ranging scholarship, locating their interpretations firmly within the context of Aristotle's thought as a whole.u.
We are well served, both practically and morally, by moral and ethical diversity. Moral deliberation requires the collaboration of distinctive perspectives: consequentialist, deontological, perfectionist considerations each contribute significant dimensions in determining what is good and what is right; virtue theory highlights the development of reliable ethical character.
A person has performed an action akratically when he intentionally, voluntarily acts contrary to what he thinks, all things considered, is best to do. This is very misleadingly called weakness of the will; less misleadingly, akrasia of action. I should like to show that there is intellectual as well as practical akrasia. This might, equally misleadingly, be called weakness of belief; less misleadingly, akrasia of belief.
As Elster suggests in his chapter 'Contradictions of the Mind', in Logic and Society, akrasia and self-deception represent the most common psychological functions for a person in conflict and contradiction. This article develops the theme of akrasia and conflict. Section I says what akrasia is not. Section II describes the character of the akrates, analyzing the sorts of conflicts to which he is subject and describing the sources of his debilities. A brief account is then given of the attractions of (...) the akratic alternative: its power to focus or dominate the agent's attention; its being strongly habitual; its having the pull of social streaming: following the charismatic leader, the mechanisms of sympathetic or antipathetic infection, the models of role casting. Following these strategies is by no means pathological: these are relatively automatic (though still voluntary) psychological functions. That is precisely their power and attraction: they provide the conflicted akrates with an action solution, though not one that accords with his preferred judgment. (shrink)
In this paper the view is presented that self?knowledge has no special status; its varieties constitute distinctive classes, differing from one another more sharply than each does from analogous knowledge of others. Most cases of self?knowledge are best understood contextually, subsumed under such other activities as decision?making and socializing. First person, present tense ?reports? of sensations, intentions, and thoughts are primarily adaptively expressive, only secondarily truth?functional. The last section sketches some of the disadvantages, as well as some of the advantages, (...) of being the sort of animal that is capable of treating itself as an object, to be known as others are known. (shrink)
In Part I, I consider the normal contexts of assertions of belief and declarations of intentions, arguing that many action-guiding beliefs are accepted uncritically and even pre-consciously. I analyze the function of avowals as expressions of attempts at self-transformation. It is because assertions of beliefs are used to perform a wide range of speech acts besides that of speaking the truth, and because there is a large area of indeterminacy in such assertions, that self-deception is possible. In Part II, I (...) analyze the conditions of self-deception, and discuss the grounds on which it is regarded as irrational, even when particular instances may be beneficial. I consider some of the classical analyses of the motives for self-deception, and attempt to give an account of the occasions in which it is likely to occur. In the final section, I discuss the complex organization of the self that is presupposed by the phenomena of self-deception. (shrink)