Although sexual difference is widely regarded as the concept that lies at the center of Luce Irigaray's thought, its meaning and significance is highly contested. This dissensus, however, attests to more than merely the existence of a recalcitrant conceptual ambiguity. That is, Irigaray's discussion of sexual difference remains fraught not because she leaves this concept undefined but because the centrality of sexual difference in fact marks a complex and unstable nexus of phenomena that shift throughout her work. Consequently, if Irigaray (...) is indeed the preeminent thinker of sexual difference, this is not in virtue of her recurrent appeal to a monolithic, readily digestible concept but rather somehow despite the absence of precisely this gesture. In this paper, I will attempt to elucidate the peculiar preeminence of sexual difference in Irigaray's work by identifying her persistent, though largely unexamined, commitment to transcendental phenomenology. Indeed, I attempt to show that the complex of phenomena of sexual difference emerges in L'oubli de l'air and The Way of Love as a modulation of Heidegger's own revision of transcendental phenomenology. In this sense, the peculiar preeminence of sexual difference does not mark the centrality of a concept but Irigaray's amplification of this Heideggerian gesture. (shrink)
The recent chiming of Simone de Beauvoir's legacy by French feminists for a policy of assimilation of Muslim women to Western models of self and society reduces the complexity and richness of Beauvoir's views in inacceptable ways. This article explores to what extent a politics of difference that challenges the ideals and political strategies of abstract liberalism can be extracted from and legitimized by the philosophies of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. Without assuming their thought is identical, we can (...) read them as elucidating each other and as implicitly exposing weak and strong points in their respective philosophies on ethnocultural rehtions and social identities. (shrink)
Animating Luce Irigaray’s oeuvre are two indissociable projects: the disruption of Western metaphysics and the thinking of sexual difference. The intersection of these two projects implies that any attempt to think through the meaning and significance of Irigaray’s notoriously fraught invocation of sexual difference must take seriously the way in which this invocation is itself always already inflected by her disruptive gesture. In this paper, I will attempt to elucidate one moment of this intersection by focusing on her critical engagement (...) with Heidegger. In L’oubli de l’air , Irigaray criticizes Heidegger’s interpretation of the principle of identity as instantiating the same neglect of sexual difference that has been inscribed throughout the history of Western metaphysics. Moreover, Irigaray identifies the vestigial traces of this metaphysical legacy in Heidegger’s commitments to phenomenology. My claim, however, is that if we turn to Derrida’s second Geschlecht essay in order to mediate between Irigaray and Heidegger, the coimplicative nature of their projects comes into focus: on one hand, Derrida identifies within Heidegger’s work an incipient articulation of the very notion of sexuate difference that, on Irigaray’s reading, Heidegger’s work requires but nonetheless elides; on the other hand, Derrida’s rereading of Heidegger’s phenomenological commitments corroborates the philosophical significance of Irigaray’s intervention by recontextualizing the parameters that delimit her invocation of sexuate difference. (shrink)
In the shadow of a looming global ecological and social catastrophe 'Only a God Can Save Us: Heidegger, Poetic Imagination and the Modern Malaise' is timely and essential reading. The book argues that technology by itself cannot save the diversity, integrity and habitability of the planet. Averting disaster calls for a radical transformation in our very being. Humanity is at an unprecedented crossroad where crucial and difficult decisions must be made about how we are to live. This book attends to (...) a crisis in the human psyche that, it suggests, is at the root of the ever more pressing contemporary problems. Aimed at an intelligent lay audience it has ramifications in domains ranging from art, literature and sociology to environmental management, ecology and technology. Moreover, van Leeuwen's insightful grasp of the core of the Martin Heidegger's later thinking makes this book also invaluable to scholars and students of this influential and controversial philosopher, as well as those with a wider interest in continental philosophy. It uncovers an extraordinary, but rarely trodden or overlooked pathway of thinking that offers the means to a way of being as authentic dwellers of the earth. The author identifies an ‘in-between region’ within thought where the poetic imagination is awakened (implicating 'the gods') and enabled to respond creatively. From this emerges the possibility of a genuinely sustainable way of thinking and active commitment. (shrink)
Lady Anne Conway was a remarkable woman who became a philosopher in her own right at a time when most women were denied even basic education. The Conway Letters is the record of her friendship with the Cambridge Platonist, Henry More, which began when he acted as her unofficial tutor in philosophy and lasted until her death. The letters cover a wide range of topics - personal, philosophical, religious, and social. They give a detailed picture of the More-Conway circle, (...) including such figures as Jeremy Taylor, Ralph Cudworth, Robert Boyle, and Francis Mercury van Helmont, as well as Lady Conway's Quaker associates, George Keith and William Penn. The letters are thus a valuable source for mid-seventeenth-century history, and especially for the intellectual history of the period. -/- This revised edition reprints all the letters from the original 1930 edition, together with Marjorie Nicolson's biographical account of Anne Conway and Henry More. A new appendix contains some important letters not included in the first edition, among them the early discussion of Cartesianism. The introduction by Sarah Hutton sets the book in the context of recent scholarship. (shrink)
In this paper, the author defends Peter van Inwagen’s modal skepticism. Van Inwagen accepts that we have much basic, everyday modal knowledge, but denies that we have the capacity to justify philosophically interesting modal claims that are far removed from this basic knowledge. The author also defends the argument by means of which van Inwagen supports his modal skepticism, offering a rebuttal to an objection along the lines of that proposed by Geirrson. Van Inwagen argues that Stephen Yablo’s recent and (...) influential account of the relationship between conceivability and possibility supports his skeptical claims. The author’s defence involves a creative interpretation and development of Yablo’s account, which results in a recursive account of modal epistemology, what the author calls the “safe explanation” theory of modal epistemology. (shrink)
I. Introduction “We can and do see the truth about many things: ourselves, others, trees and animals, clouds and rivers—in the immediacy of experience.”1 Absent from Bas van Fraassen’s list of those things we see are paramecia and mitochondria. We do not see such things, van Fraassen has long maintained, because they are unobservable, that is, they are undetectable by means of the unaided senses.2 But notice that these two notions—what we can see in the “immediacy” of experience and what (...) is detectable by means of the unaided senses—are not the same. There is no incoherence in maintaining that the immediacy of experience is capable of disclosing to us truths concerning entities that are not detectable by the naked eye. And so, I claim, it does; science and technology provide us with the means to see things we have never seen before. Some of those things are van Fraassen’s unobservables. That suggestion is nothing new. Grover Maxwell long ago emphasized the continuity between seeing with and without instrumentation.3 Van Fraassen originally provided two responses to Maxwell’s arguments: some things that you can see with instruments you can also see without instruments (and those are the observables); and.. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Peter van Inwagen’s claim (in “Free Will Remains a Mystery”), that agent-causal views of free will could do nothing to solve the problem of free will (specifically, the problem of chanciness). After explaining van Inwagen’s argument, I argue that he does not consider all possible manifestations of the agent-causal position. More importantly, I claim that, in any case, van Inwagen appears to have mischaracterized the problem in some crucial ways. Once we are clear on (...) the true nature of the problem of chanciness, agent-causal views do much to eradicate it. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen’s argument for incompatibilism uses a sentential operator, “N”, which can be read as “No one has any choice about the fact that . . . .” I show that, given van Inwagen’s understanding of the notion of having a choice, the argument is invalid. However, a different interpretation of “N” can be given, such that the argument is clearly valid, the premises remain highly plausible, and the conclusion implies that free will is incompatible with determinism.
A careful analysis of Salmon’s Theoretical Realism and van Fraassen’s Constructive Empiricism shows that both share a common origin: the requirement of literal construal of theories inherited by the Standard View. However, despite this common starting point, Salmon and van Fraassen strongly disagree on the existence of unobservable entities. I argue that their different ontological commitment towards the existence of unobservables traces back to their different views on the interpretation of probability via different conceptions of induction. In fact, inferences to (...) statements claiming the existence of unobservable entities are inferences to probabilistic statements, whence the crucial importance of the interpretation of probability. (shrink)
The anti-reductionist who wants to preserve the causal efficacy of mental phenomena faces several problems in regard to mental causation, i.e. mental events which cause other events, arising from her desire to accept the ontological primacy of the physical and at the same time save the special character of the mental. Psychology tries to persuade us of the former, appealing thereby to the results of experiments carried out in neurology; the latter is, however, deeply rooted in our everyday actions and (...) beliefs and despite the constant opposition of science still very much alive. Difficulties, however, arise from a combination of two claims that are widely accepted in philosophy of mind, namely, physical monism and mental realism, the acceptance of which leads us to the greatest problem of mental causation: the problem of causal exclusion. Since physical causes alone are always sufficient for physical effects mental properties are excluded from causal explanations of our behaviour, which makes them “epiphenomenal”. The article introduces Van Gulick’s solution to the exclusion problem which tries to prove that physical properties, in contrast to mental properties, do not have as much of a privileged status with respect to event causation as usually ascribed. Therefore, it makes no sense to say that physical properties are causally relevant whereas mental properties are not. This is followed by my objection to his argument for levelling mental and physical properties with respect to causation of events. I try to show that Van Gulick’s argument rests on a premise that no serious physicalist can accept. (shrink)
In this paper I do two things: (1) I support the claim that there is still some confusion about just what the Quine-Putnam indispensability argument is and the way it employs Quinean meta-ontology and (2) I try to dispel some of this confusion by presenting the argument in a way which reveals its important meta-ontological features, and include these features explicitly as premises. As a means to these ends, I compare Peter van Inwagen’s argument for the existence of properties with (...) Putnam’s presentation of the indispensability argument. Van Inwagen’s argument is a classic exercise in Quinean meta-ontology and yet he claims – despite his argument’s conspicuous similarities to the Quine-Putnam argument – that his own has a substantially different form. I argue, however, that there is no such difference between these two arguments even at a very high level of specificity; I show that there is a detailed generic indispensability argument that captures the single form of both. The arguments are identical in every way except for the kind of objects they argue for – an irrelevant difference for my purposes. Furthermore, Putnam’s and van Inwagen’s presentations make an assumption that is often mistakenly taken to be an important feature of the Quine-Putnam argument. Yet this assumption is only the implicit backdrop against which the argument is typically presented. This last point is brought into sharper relief by the fact that van Inwagen’s list of the four nominalistic responses to his argument is too short. His list is missing an important – and historically popular – fifth option. (shrink)
I discuss van inwagen's "first formal argument" for the incompatibility of causal determinism and freedom to do otherwise. I distinguish different interpretations of the important notion, "s can render p false." I argue that on none of these interpretations is the argument clearly sound. I point to gaps in the argument, Although I do not claim that it is unsound.
In "Supervenience, Necessary Coextension, and Reducibility" (Philosophical Studies 49, 1986, 163-176), among other results, I showed that weak or ordinary supervenience is equivalent to Jaegwon Kim's strong supervenience, given certain assumptions: S4 modality, the usual modal conception of properties as class-concepts, and diagonal closure or resplicing of the set of base properties. This last means that any mapping of possible worlds into extensions of base properties counts itself as a base property. James Van Cleve attacks the modal conception of property (...) and diagonal closure. To me it seems desperate to reject diagonal closure merely in order to save supervenience-materialism. But I concede that it may be unacceptable in the context of a sparser theory of properties. (shrink)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2008v12n1p49 The aim of this article is to offer a rejoinder to an argument against scientific realism put forward by van Fraassen, based on theoretical considerations regarding microphysics. At a certain stage of his general attack to scientific realism, van Fraassen argues, in contrast to what realists typically hold, that empirical regularities should sometimes be regarded as “brute facts”, which do not ask for explanation in terms of deeper, unobservable mechanisms. The argument from microphysics formulated by van Fraassen is based (...) on the claim that in microphysics the demand for explanation leads to a demand for the so-called hidden-variable theories, which “runs contrary to at least one major school of thought in twentieth-century physics”. It is shown here that this argument does not represent an insurmountable obstacle to scientific realism, not even when a series of important theoretical and experimental results against hidden-variable theories — and not merely a conflict with a certain school of thought—is taken into account. (shrink)