I argue that Plato’s use of thought experiments anticipate many of the themes discussed by Thomas S. Kuhn’s classic essay, “A Function for Thought Experiments.” Kuhn’s concern is that thought experiments satisfy the condition of verisimilitude. That is, thought experiments must not be conducted merely to alter the conceptual apparatus of the scientist regarding the phenomenon explored, but rather to alter the scientist’s conceptual apparatus for the sake of altering his actions (i.e., practical rationality). Plato, too, is quite concerned with (...) getting interlocutors to appreciate that theory not be separated from practice, and that theory is necessary for the process of effective decision making. Each of the interlocutors presented in the Republic, Apology and Alcibiades Minor are confrontedwith a thought experiment that is designed to effect how they choose to live. Although the three dialogues I discuss illustrate the Kuhnian admonishment against separating theory form practice, many other dialogues in the Platonic corpus echo Kuhn’s concerns. (shrink)
This essay discusses Socrates’ use of hypothetical choices as an early version of what was to become in the twentieth century the discipline of decision theory as expressed by one of its prominent proponents, F. P. Ramsey. Socrates’ use of hypothetical choices and thought experiments in the dialogues is a way of reassuring himself of an interlocutor’s philosophical potential. For example, to assess just how far Alcibiades is willing to go to attain his goal of being a great Athenian leader, (...) we employ Ramsey’s concept of Mathematical Expectation. Mathematical Expectation operates on the assumption that it is not enough to measure probability; we must also measure our belief to apportion our belief to the probability. In other words, it illustrates how strongly or to what degree a person holds a particular belief. If a person’s belief in X lacks enough doubts to cancel the belief out, the probability of his acting on this belief is higher than if his belief in X was plagued by a greater number of doubts. (shrink)
This paper shows Socratic elenchus as an efficient and effective way of modeling rational knowledge seeking. Like ordinary conversations, the elenctic exchanges in the dialogues presuppose a degree of autonomy on the part of its participants. Socrates’ line of questioning often seems pertinent to a particular interlocutor because he is well aware of the fact that the interlocutor has goals and ambitions or is reputed to be an expert at something. In turn, Socrates’ line ofquestioning reflects his own goals and (...) ambitions. In Alcibiades Major Socrates is trying to turn Alcibiades towards a greater awareness of his limitations. Plato’s dialogues also force readers to consider their own solutions to the topics introduced in them. Consequently, the autonomy of a dialogue’s participants requires that interpreters not exaggerate one aspect of a dialogue’s structural features at the expense of other aspects. (shrink)
: New genetic technologies continue to emerge that allow us to control the genetic endowment of future children. Increasingly the claim is made that it is morally "irresponsible" for parents to fail to use such technologies when they know their possible children are at risk for a serious genetic disorder. We believe such charges are often unwarranted. Our goal in this article is to offer a careful conceptual analysis of the language of irresponsibility in an effort to encourage more care (...) in its use. Two of our more important sub-claims are: (1) A fair judgment of genetic irresponsibility necessarily requires a thick background description of the specific reproductive choice; and (2) there is no necessary connection between an act's being morally wrong and its being irresponsible. These are distinct judgments requiring distinct justifications. (shrink)
HOWARD POOLE ARGUES THAT "THERE IS A RATIONAL NECESSITY LINKING NEGATIVE ATTITUDES TO PORNOGRAPHY WITH A READINESS TO IMPOSE CENSORSHIP." HIS ARGUMENT HAS THREE PREMISES: FIRST, THAT TO CALL SOMETHING OBSCENE IS TO EXPRESS STRONG BUT OFTEN NONMORAL DISAPPROVAL; SECOND, THAT THIS STRONG DISAPPROVAL COMMITS ONE TO SEEK LEGISLATION KEEPING THE MATERIAL FROM CHILDREN; THIRD, THAT SUCH LEGISLATION IS A FORM OF CENSORSHIP. I QUESTION EACH PREMISE.
In multicultural situations it is common for people to feel that their usual modes of coping are insufficient. They experience what is here called diversity stress. Today diversity stress is widely experienced in part because key management assumptions involving moral judgments are changing. Understanding diversity stress as a type of morality stress suggests particular patterns of causation, and of productive and counterproductive reactions on the part of individuals and organizations. – Deciding whom to appoint to a challenging new position in (...) Europe, a manager passes over an Asian employee and gives the job to a white male. He worries that there may be some prejudice in his own Judgment. – Because she wants to see more minorities in visible positions, a manager promotes a slightly less qualified minority candidate over a majority candidate, all the while feeling guilty. – A male manager hesitates to hug a longtime employee who has just lost her mother. (shrink)
Bioethicists appearing in the media have been accused of "shooting from the hip" (Rachels, 1991). The criticism is sometimes justified. We identify some reasons our interactions with the press can have bad results and suggest remedies. In particular we describe a target (fostering better public dialogue), obstacles to hitting the target (such as intrinsic and accidental defects in our knowledge) and suggest some practical ways to surmont those obstacles (including seeking out ways to write or speak at length, rather than (...) in sound bites). We make use of our own research into the way journalists quote bioethicists. We end by suggesting that the profession as a whole look into this question more fully. (shrink)
Journalist, literary critic, novelist and essayist, Maurice Blanchot has always questioned the uncertain limit between philosophical and fictional languages. The purpose of this article is to underline his constant inquiry of the connection between his own writing activity and political participation, through which he managed to describe, theorize and realize a true dissolution of subject.
[Stephen Yablo] The usual charge against Carnap's internal/external distinction is one of 'guilt by association with analytic/synthetic'. But it can be freed of this association, to become the distinction between statements made within make-believe games and those made outside them-or, rather, a special case of it with some claim to be called the metaphorical/literal distinction. Not even Quine considers figurative speech committal, so this turns the tables somewhat. To determine our ontological commitments, we have to ferret out all traces of (...) nonliterality in our assertions; if there is no sensible project of doing that, there is no sensible project of Quinean ontology. /// [Andre Gallois] I discuss Steve Yablo's defence of Carnap's distinction between internal and external questions. In the first section I set out what I take that distinction, as Carnap draws it, to be, and spell out a central motivation Carnap has for invoking it. In the second section I endorse, and augment, Yablo's response to Quine's arguments against Carnap. In the third section I say why Carnap's application of the distinction between internal and external questions runs into trouble. In the fourth section I spell out what I take to be Yablo's version of Carnap. In the last I say why that version is especially vulnerable to the objection raised in the second. (shrink)
This review essay critically discusses Andre Kukla's Methods of theoretical psychology. It is argued that Kukla mistakenly tries to build his case for theorizing in psychology as a separate discipline on a dubious distinction between theory and observation. He then argues that the demise of empiricism implies a return of some form of rationalism, which entails an autonomous role for theorizing in psychology. Having shown how this theory-observation dichotomy goes back to traditional and largely abandoned ideas in epistemology, an alternative (...) is presented in the guise of the pragmatist or functionalist tradition, where the interdependence of theory, observation and action is emphasized and the positivist dichotomy of pure observations and pure theory is rejected. Furthermore, we show how recent work on "active" perception supports the functionalist approach. Although the authors agree with Kukla that theory has a legitimate place in psychology, it is suggested that he needlessly limits its scope to autonomous domain-neutral theorizing, and that broadening its perspective to analyzing the presuppositions and implications of empirical work is a more fruitful approach. In fact, the attempt to find the epistemological and philosophical implications of empirical work in perception that is sketched in this review essay is, in the authors' view, a case of theorizing in psychology. (shrink)
Merleau-Ponty was a pivotal figure in twentieth century French philosophy. He was responsible for bringing the phenomenological methods of the German philosophers, Husserl and Heidegger, to France and instigated a new wave of interest in this approach. His influence extended well beyond the boundaries of philosophy and can be seen in theories of politics, art and language. This is the first volume to bring together a comprehensive selection of Merleau-Ponty's writing and presents a cross-section of his work which shows the (...) historical progression of his ideas and influence. (shrink)
Very little has been written in recent decades about the temporal nature of art. The two principal explanations provided by our Western cultural tradition are that art is timeless (`eternal') or that it belongs within the world of historical change. Neither account offers a plausible explanation of the world of art as we know it today, which contains large numbers of works which are self-evidently not timeless because they have been resurrected after long periods of oblivion with significances quite different (...) from those which they originally held, and which also seem to have escaped history because, though long-forgotten, they have `come alive' again for us today. In his two key works on the theory of art, "Les Voix du silence" and "La Métamorphose des dieux", André Malraux offers an entirely new account of the temporal nature of art based on the concept of metamorphosis. Unlike the traditional explanations, Malraux's account makes sense of the world of art as we now know it. He revolutionizes our understanding of the relationship between art and time. (shrink)
In this paper, we propose an examination of the shared connections between the French philosopher, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the Austro-Hungarian movement theorist, Rudolf Laban.In many ways Merleau-Ponty''s philosophy demonstrates a synthesis of the best in existen-tialism and phenomenology. In like manner, Rudolf Laban was a synthesizer of experiences and theories of movement.
After an initial period of popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, André Malraux’s works on the theory of art, "The Voices of Silence" and "The Metamorphosis of the Gods", lapsed into relative obscurity. A major factor in this fall from grace was the frosty reception given to these works by a number of leading art historians, including E.H. Gombrich, who accused Malraux of an irresponsible approach to art history and of "reckless inaccuracies". This essay examines a representative sample of (...) the art historians' arguments and contends that they reveal serious misreadings of Malraux’s texts and a recurring tendency to confuse matters of interpretation with matters of fact. The article suggests that the charge of irresponsibility might well be levelled at the critics themselves, and that the myth of Malraux as guilty of ‘reckless inaccuracies’ needs to be debunked. (shrink)
Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s work is commonly associated with the philosophical movement called existentialism and its intention to begin with an analysis of the concrete experiences, perceptions, and difficulties, of human existence. However, he never propounded quite the same extreme accounts of radical freedom, being-towards-death, anguished responsibility, and conflicting relations with others, for which existentialism became both famous and notorious in the 1940s and 1950s. Perhaps because of this, he did not initially receive the same amount of attention as his French (...) contemporaries and friends, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. These days though, his phenomenological analyses are arguably being given more attention than either, in both France and in the Anglo-American context, because they retain an ongoing relevance in fields as diverse as cognitive science, medical ethics, ecology, sociology and psychology. Although it is difficult to summarize Merleau-Ponty’s work into neat propositions, we can say that he sought to develop a radical re-description of embodied experience (with a primacy given to studies of perception), and argued that these phenomena could not be suitably understood b y the philosophical tradition because of its tendency to drift between two flawed and equally unsatisfactory alternatives: empiricism and, what he called, intellectualism. This article will seek to explain his understanding of perception, bodily movement, habit, ambiguity, and relations with others, as they were expressed in his key early work, Phenomenology of Perception, before exploring the enigmatic ontology of the chiasm and the flesh that is so evocatively described in his unfinished book, The Visible and the Invisible. (shrink)
André Gallois’s Occasions of Identity injects a refreshing new perspective into an old debate. Actually, what is new is the advocacy of the perspective: Gallois takes up a view that many consider a non-starter, and shows this reaction to be premature. The debate is over the right way to understand the traditional puzzles involving two things being in the same place at the same time; the perspective is that identity can hold temporarily (and contingently). Suppose an amoeba, name it (...) AMOEBA, divides in two. One of the resultant amoebas, POND, lives in a pond; the other, SLIDE, is examined on a slide in a laboratory. Does AMOEBA survive this process, and if so, does it survive as POND or SLIDE? If we stipulate that POND and SLIDE are symmetrically related to AMOEBA then it seems arbitrary to identify AMOEBA with exactly one of POND and SLIDE. But we cannot identify AMOEBA with each, for then by the transitivity and symmetry of identity we would wrongly identify POND and SLIDE. We are left with the conclusion that AMOEBA is identical to neither. But this seems wrong too; surely fission does not result in death. So just what does happen to AMOEBA? How to respond to this and related cases (involving statues and their constituting hunks of matter, cats and their undetached parts, and so on) has been much discussed.1 There are many proposals, each with distinctive strengths and weaknesses. To these Gallois adds his own, which runs as follows. After division, there are two amoebas, POND and SLIDE, each of which existed before division. But it does not follow that there were two amoebas before division. Though POND and SLIDE are numerically distinct after division, they were numerically identical before division. The identity relation can hold temporarily, or occasionally, as Gallois puts it. My sense is that this sort of claim is regarded by most metaphysicians as downright wacky. And yet there is something very natural about it. Why distinguish POND and SLIDE today because they will differ tomorrow? I suspect the “wackiness” reaction has two sources, one based on Leibniz’s Law.. (shrink)
Taking Maurice Natanson's posthumously published book, The Erotic Bird: Phenomenology in Literature, as its point of departure, the essay argues that "fictive reality" is the specific content of transcendental-phenomenological reflection. Elaborating this concept allows us to see how phenomenological concepts such as constitution, horizon, and the "transcendental" have a tropological, rather than a psychological, meaning. Specifically, the article considers the metonymical structure of reality's "spatial horizon" and the metaphorical structure of reality's "temporal horizon." This latter is demonstrated on Natanson's (...) analysis of Thomas Mann's concept of the "leitmotiv" in The Magic Mountain. The essay concludes by pointing toward the ontology of metaphor entailed by Natanson's analysis, while suggesting the difference between phenomenology, as the "poetic essence" of philosophy, and philosophy itself, as the categorial elaboration of what phenomenology uncovers. (shrink)
In this essay I explore the dynamic between Luce Irigaray and Maurice Merleau-Ponty as it unfolds in An Ethics of Sexual Difference (1993). Irigaray's strategy of mimesis is a powerful feminist tool, both philosophically and politically. Regarding textual engagement as analogous for relations between self and other beyond the text, I deliver a cautionary message: mimetic strategy is powerful but runs the risk of silencing the voice of the other.
Maurice Hauriou (1856-1929) -- Methodology -- Hauriou's general methodology -- Legal methodology -- Sociological methodolgy -- Methodological interplay of law and social science -- Application of methodology to large groups -- Philosophical methodology -- The philosophical status of Hauriou's methodology.
Choderlos de Laclos’s novel 'Les Liaisons dangereuses', first published in 1782, is regarded as one of the outstanding works of French literature. This article concerns a well known commentary by the twentieth-century writer André Malraux which, though often mentioned by critics, has seldom been studied in detail. The article argues that, while Malraux endorses the favourable modern assessments of 'Les Liaisons dangereuses', his analysis diverges in important respects from prevailing critical opinion. In particular, he regards the work as the (...) commencement of an important new stage in the French novel rather than, as often argued, the culmination of the existing libertine tradition. (shrink)
Andre Gorz is one of the most important contemporary socialist thinkers, acquiring the reputation of an iconoclastic theorist who poses radical questions about the future of the Left. This full length assessment of his work is the first to critically evaluate all of his writings from the 1950s to the '90s. Highlighting the eclectic nature of Gorz's intellectual heritage beginning with his existentialist-Marxist roots in post-war France, Adrian Little creates a unique perspective, arguing that Gorz is primarily a theorist of (...) individual freedom and autonomy. In this context he can be regarded not only as a post-Marxist thinker but as a unique purveyor of individualistic socialism. This view offers a challenge to all on the Left who are concerned with the reproduction of welfare capitalism and the future of democratic socialism. (shrink)
Abstract The aim of this paper is to attain a philosophical evaluation of the ideas of the French author Maurice Bucaille. Bucaille formulated an influential discourse regarding the divinity of the Qur’an, which he tried to demonstrate through a comparison of some of its verses with what he defined as scientific data. With his works, which encompass a criticism of the Bible and a defense of creationism, Bucaille furthered the idea that Islam is in harmony with natural sciences, and (...) ensured himself long-lasting fame in the Muslim world. Such ideas have found numerous followers and the description of the “scientific miracles” of the Qur’an has turned into a popular genre. Several attempts have been made to criticize Bucaille about specific positions he holds. The thesis I develop here is that, even if Bucaille's work cannot be easily dismissed, a severe methodological shortcoming emerges through the analysis of the logic behind his claims regarding miraculous and supernatural events. Current attempts at defending the harmony between Islam and science should therefore credit Bucaille, but at the same time, be aware of the risk of inheriting his methodological flaws. In the first section, I briefly recall the works of Bucaille and his contribution to the debate on the harmony between Islam and science. In the second section, I reconstruct Bucaille's view of science and his analysis of the sacred scriptures. In the third section, I investigate how Bucaille characterizes the concept of supernatural. In the fourth section, I put forth a general evaluation of his reasoning. (shrink)
In the last twenty years the concept of the quotidien, or the everyday, has been prominent in contemporary French culture and in British and American cultural studies. This book provides the first comprehensive analytical survey of the whole field of approaches to the everyday. It offers, firstly, a historical perspective, demonstrating the importance of mainstream and dissident Surrealism; the indispensable contribution, over a 20-year period (1960-80), of four major figures: Henri Lefebvre, Roland Barthes, Michel de Certeau, and Georges Perec; and (...) the recent proliferation of works that investigate everyday experience. Secondly, it establishes the framework of philosophical ideas on which discourses on the everyday depend, but which they characteristically subvert. Thirdly, it comprises searching analyses of works in a variety of genres, including fiction, the essay, poetry, theatre, film, photography, and the visual arts, consistently stressing how explorations of the everyday tend to question and combine genres in richly creative ways. -/- By demonstrating the enduring contribution of Perec and others, and exploring the Surrealist inheritance, the book proposes a genealogy for the remarkable upsurge of interest in the everyday since the 1980s. A second main objective is to raise questions about the dimension of experience addressed by artists and thinkers when they invoke the quotidien or related concepts. Does the 'everyday' refer to an objective content defined by particular activities, or is it best thought of in terms of rhythm, repetition, festivity, ordinariness, the generic, the obvious, the given? Are there events or acts that are uniquely 'everyday', or is the quotidien a way of thinking about events and acts in the 'here and now' as opposed to the longer term? What techniques or genres are best suited to conveying the nature of everyday life? The book explores these questions in a comparative spirit, drawing new parallels between the work of numerous writers and artists, including André Breton, Raymond Queneau, Walter Benjamin, Michel Leiris, Maurice Blanchot, Michel Foucault, Stanley Cavell, Annie Ernaux, Jacques Réda, and Sophie Calle. (shrink)
Levinas scholarship in English has come a long way since his major philosophical works were translated some 35 years ago. Almost all the writings appear in English, and it is not a great exaggeration to say that the major theses have been explained and the major problems exposed. The task now is to make this seeming point of arrival into a new beginning. For students interested in exploring new directions in Levinas studies, a reading of Maurice Blanchot could prove (...) immensely rewarding. Companions since they first encountered one another at Strasbourg when each was not yet 20 years old, Levinas and Blanchot remainedfriends until Levinas’s death in 1996 and Blanchot’s in 2003. While we can only imagine the significance the friendship had for each of them, for the rest of us it proved what Jacques Derrida called “a grace, a blessing for our times.”. (shrink)
This article—part of a larger project that examines the place of the human in contemporary thought after the critique of the subject—takes as its point of departure the problematic of the author in Maurice Blanchot. If the author is “sacrificed to language,” it is argued, this is not to be conceived as the mere negation of authorial subjectivity; rather, the author, as a sacrificial figure, answers to the exigency of a figuration that would enable the a priori condition of (...) signification in general to be exposed. In a word, the human is not dispensed with, for Blanchot, but engaged by language at its limits. On the basis of this analysis, La folie du jour is construed as a narrative of what is called “the narrative voice.”. (shrink)
: The Newman programs established at secular colleges and universities provided an opportunity for intellectual, spiritual, and social growth among the Catholic student population. As a young physician and junior medical faculty member, André Hellegers took part in the early organization and ongoing work of Carroll House, the Newman Center at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Hellegers's experience at Carroll House enabled him to develop a clear blueprint of an academic center of excellence for the scientific, theological, and philosophical (...) exploration of the many problems that he had seen and foresaw in medicine. That center would become Georgetown's Kennedy Institute of Ethics. (shrink)
In this article I examine the relation between the philosophies of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gilles Deleuze by looking at the way in which they refer to Henri Bergson’s time theory. Although Merleau-Ponty develops some fundamental Bergsonian insights on the nature of time, he presents himself as a critical reader of the latter. I will show that although Merleau-Ponty’s interpretation of Bergson differs fundamentally from Deleuze’s interpretation, Merleau-Ponty’s “corrections” of Bergson’s theory fit Deleuze’s reading of Bergson very well. This indicates (...) a similarity with respect to what is at stake in the philosophies of Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze. Hence the critical reference that Deleuze makes to Merleau-Ponty’s conception of cinema and thus of movement is not justified, but is the result of a selective and prototypical reading of the early Merleau-Ponty. (shrink)
Le problème de la « légitimité » de la philosophie chinoise est lié à celui de la conception occidentale de la « philosophie » qui est apparue à l’époque moderne, et qui privilégie la forme spéculative de la pensée au détriment de l’autre, plus concrète et pratique, dans laquelle se reconnaissent les tendances spécifiques de la tradition chinoise. Selon les critères occidentaux, la « pensée » chinoise ne peut se voir accorder le statut de « philosophie ». Or, dès 1898, (...) class='Hi'>Maurice Blondel (1861-1949) a dénoncé comme « illégitime » une philosophie exclusivement spéculative et conceptuelle ; il a remis en cause la « suffisance » d’une philosophie privilégiant indûment la pensée discursive, en même temps qu’il a montré la nécessité d’un recours à l’autre forme de pensée, celle qui est liée à la pratique, à la vie. Dans cette perspective, la philosophie occidentale, pas plus que la philosophie chinoise, ne « se suffit » à elle-même ; c’est unenécessité pour toutes deux de se compléter par leur « opposition » même, dans un dialogue authentique. La « philosophie intégrale », encore à venir, devra faire une part égale aux deux « aspectséléments » de la pensée, que Blondel qualifie de « noétique » et de « pneumatique ». (shrink)
A comprehensive and scholarly exploration of the personal and philosophical origins of André Gorz's work, this book includes a unique analysis of his early untranslated texts, as well as critical discussions of his relationship to the work of Husserl, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Marx, and Habermas. Reassessing pivotal notions such as the "lifeworld" and the "subject," it argues that Gorz has pioneered a person-centred social theory in which the motive and the meaning of social critique is firmly rooted in people's lived experience.
The article explores the striking coincidences in Heidegger's and Blanchot's account of the image as death mask. The analysis of the respective theories of the image brings forth two radically divergent conceptions of thinking as "laying patent" (Heidegger) and of thinking as "laying bare" (Blanchot).
This essay explains what Blanchot understands as writing and the space of literature. For Blanchot, writing is the place where the impossible interruption of the destiny of things is put into play, an interruption that world-formation needs but negates and conceals. Writing belongs to an excess outside of language, an otherness of language. The need to write is linked to the point at which nothing can be done with words. Writing is contrasted with dialectical language and the totalizing aim of (...) the Hegelian system. The essay explains the connection between the disaster of writing (after the holocaust), the neuter and fragmentary style of writing and the passivity of writing. (shrink)
Jean Dominique Bauby, former editor of Elle, suffereda stroke to his brain stem that left him with locked-in syndrome. Subsequently, through blinking his left eye, he writes his memoirof this experience, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Thispaper explores the meaning of embodiment, especially as one'sbody bears upon one's personal identity. It explores the variouschallenges and threats to selfhood that result from Bauby'sexperience and recounts how Bauby rises to the challenge throughhis memory and imagination.
Homi Bhabha attends to the figure of the postcolonial metropolitan subject-a racialized subject who is not representative of the first world, yet a symbol of the metropolitan sphere. Bhabha describes theirdaily lives as inextricably split or doubled. His analysis cannot account for the agonistic moments when one is caught in not knowing, in focusing attention, and in developing understanding. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology with the openness in the horizon of the gestaltian framework better accounts for such splits as moments on (...) the horizon for becoming and grasping something new. (shrink)