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Profile: Bob Plant (University of Aberdeen)
  1. Bob Plant (2014). Levinas and the Holocaust: A Reconstruction. Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 22 (1):44-79.
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  2. Bob Plant (2013). Wittgenstein, Religious “Passion,” and Fundamentalism. Journal of Religious Ethics 41 (2):280-309.
    Notwithstanding his own spiritual inadequacies, Wittgenstein has a profound respect for those capable of living a genuinely religious life; namely, those whose “passionate,” “loving” faith demands unconditional existential commitment. In contrast, he disapproves of those who see religious belief as hypothetical, reasonable, or dependent on empirical evidence. Drawing primarily on Culture and Value, “Lectures on Religious Belief,” and On Certainty, in this essay I defend two claims: (1) that there is an unresolved tension between Wittgenstein's later descriptive-therapeutic approach and the (...)
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  3. Bob Plant (2012). Philosophical Diversity and Disagreement. Metaphilosophy 43 (5):567-591.
    Widespread and lasting consensus has not been philosophy's fate. Indeed, one of philosophy's most striking features is its ability to accommodate “not only different answers to philosophical questions” but also “total disagreement on what questions are philosophical” (Rorty 1995, 58). It is therefore hardly surprising that philosophers' responses to this metaphilosophical predicament have been similarly varied. This article considers two recent diagnoses of philosophical diversity: Kornblith and Rescher (respectively) claim that taking philosophical disagreement seriously does not lead to metaphilosophical scepticism. (...)
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  4. Bob Plant (2011). Religion, Relativism, and Wittgenstein's Naturalism. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 19 (2):177 - 209.
    Abstract Wittgenstein?s remarks on religious and magical practices are often thought to harbour troubling fideistic and relativistic views. Unsurprisingly, commentators are generally resistant to the idea that religious belief constitutes a ?language?game? governed by its own peculiar ?rules?, and is thereby insulated from the critical assessment of non?participants. Indeed, on this fideist?relativist reading, it is unclear how mutual understanding between believers and non?believers (even between different sorts of believers) would be possible. In this paper I do three things: (i) show (...)
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  5. Bob Plant (2009). Absurdity, Incongruity and Laughter. Philosophy 84 (1):111-134.
    In "The Myth of Sisyphus", Camus recommends scornful defiance in the face of our absurd, meaningless existence. Although Nagel agrees that human life possesses an absurd dimension, he objects to Camus' existentialist 'dramatics'. For Nagel, absurdity arises from the irreducible tension between our subjective and objective perspectives on life. In this paper I do two things: (i) critically reconstruct Camus' and Nagel's positions, and (ii) develop Nagel's critique of Camus in order to argue that humour is an appropriate response to (...)
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  6. Bob Plant (2009). The Banality of Death. Philosophy 84 (4):571-596.
    Notwithstanding the burgeoning literature on death, philosophers have tended to focus on the significance death has (or ought/ought not to have) for the one who dies. Thus, while the relevance one's own death has for others (and the significance others' deaths have for us) is often mentioned, it is rarely attributed any great importance to the purported real philosophical issues. This is a striking omission, not least because the deaths of others - and the anticipated effects our own death will (...)
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  7. Bob Plant (2007). Playing Games/Playing Us: Foucault on Sadomasochism. Philosophy and Social Criticism 33 (5):531-561.
    The impact of Foucault's work can still be felt across a range of academic disciplines. It is nevertheless important to remember that, for him, theoretical activity was intimately related to the concrete practices of self-transformation; as he acknowledged: `I write in order to change myself.' 1 This avowal is especially pertinent when considering Foucault's work on the relationship between sex and power. For Foucault not only theorized about this topic; he was also actively involved in the S&M subculture of the (...)
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  8. Bob Plant (2006). The Confessing Animal in Foucault and Wittgenstein. Journal of Religious Ethics 34 (4):533 - 559.
    In "The History of Sexuality", Foucault maintains that "Western man has become a confessing animal" (1990, 59), thus implying that "man" was not always such a creature. On a related point, Wittgenstein suggests that "man is a ceremonial animal" (1996, 67); here the suggestion is that human beings are, by their very nature, ritualistically inclined. In this paper I examine this crucial difference in emphasis, first by reconstructing Foucault's "genealogy" of confession, and subsequently by exploring relevant facets of Wittgenstein's later (...)
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  9. Bob Plant (2006). Apologies: Levinas and Dialogue. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 14 (1):79 – 94.
    In his recent article 'Speech and Sensibility: Levinas and Habermas on the Constitution of the Moral Point of View', Steven Hendley argues that Levinas's preoccupation with language as 'exposure' to the 'other' provides an important corrective to Habermas's focus on the 'procedural' aspects of communication. Specifically, what concerns Hendley is the question of moral motivation, and how Levinas, unlike Habermas, responds to this question by stressing the dialogical relation as one of coming 'into proximity to the face of the other' (...)
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  10. Bob Plant (2006). Perhaps. Angelaki 11 (3):137 – 156.
    The formulae "perhaps" and "perhaps not," [] we adopt in place of "perhaps it is and perhaps it is not" []. But here again we do not fight about phrases [] these expressions are indicative of non-assertion. Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism One could spend years on [] the perhaps [] whose modality will render fictional and fragile everything that follows []. One does not testify in court and before the law with "perhaps." Jacques Derrida, Demeure: Fiction and Testimony.
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  11. Bob Plant (2006). Perhaps …. Angelaki 11 (3):137-156.
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  12. Bob Plant (2006). Perhaps… Jacques Derrida and Pyrrhonian Scepticism. Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 11 (3):137-156.
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  13. Bob Plant & Peter Baumann (2006). The Wittgenstein Archive. Philosophy Now 58:26-27.
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  14. Bob Plant (2005). Wittgenstein and Levinas: Ethical and Religious Thought. Routledge.
    Wittgenstein and Levinas examines the oft-neglected relationship between the philosophies of two of the most important and notoriously difficult thinkers of the twentieth century. By bringing the work of each philosopher to bear upon the other, Plant navigates between the antagonistic intellectual traditions that they helped to share. The central focus on the book is the complex yet illuminating interplay between a number of ethical-religious themes in both Wittgenstein's mature thinking and Levinas's distinctive account of ethical responsibility.
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  15. Bob Plant (2004). The Wretchedness of Belief: Wittgenstein on Guilt, Religion, and Recompense. Journal of Religious Ethics 32 (3):449 - 476.
    In "Culture and Value" Wittgenstein remarks that the truly "religious man" thinks himself to be, not merely "imperfect" or "ill," but wholly "wretched." While such sentiments are of obvious biographical interest, in this paper I show why they are also worthy of serious philosophical attention. Although the influence of Wittgenstein's thinking on the philosophy of religion is often judged negatively (as, for example, leading to quietist and/or fideist-relativist conclusions) I argue that the distinctly ethical conception of religion (specifically Christianity) that (...)
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  16. Bob Plant (2004). Christ's Autonomous Hand: Simulations on the Madness of Giving. Modern Theology 20 (4):547-566.
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  17. Bob Plant (2004). The End(s) of Philosophy: Rhetoric, Therapy and Wittgenstein's Pyrrhonism. Philosophical Investigations 27 (3):222–257.
  18. Bob Plant (2003). Doing Justice to the Derrida–Levinas Connection: A Response to Mark Dooley. Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (4):427-450.
    Mark Dooley has recently argued (principally against Simon Critchley) that the attempt to establish too strong a ‘connection’ between Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas not only distorts crucial disparities between their respective philosophies, it also contaminates Derrida’s recent work with Levinas’s inherent ‘political naivety’. In short, on Dooley’s reading, Levinas is only of ‘inspirational value’ for Derrida. I am not concerned with defending Critchley’s own reading of the ‘Derrida–Levinas connection’. My objective is rather to demonstrate, first, the way in which (...)
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  19. Bob Plant (2003). Ethics Without Exit: Levinas and Murdoch. Philosophy and Literature 27 (2):456-470.
  20. Bob Plant (2003). Jacques Derrida, Who's Afraid of Philosophy? Right to Philosophy. Philosophy in Review 23 (4):247-249.
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  21. Bob Plant (2003). Our Natural Constitution: Wolterstorff on Reid and Wittgenstein. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 1 (2):157-170.
  22. Bob Plant (2002). Gideon Ofrat, The Jewish Derrida Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 22 (3):181-185.
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  23. Bob Plant (2002). Jill Robbins, Ed., Is It Righteous To Be? Interviews with Emmanuel Levinas Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 22 (6):442-444.
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  24. Bob Plant (2002). Richard Rand, Ed., Futures of Jacques Derrida Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 22 (3):181-185.
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  25. Bob Plant (2002). Simon Glendinning, Ed., Arguing with Derrida Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 22 (3):181-185.
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  26. Bob Plant (2000). Resisting Silence In the Face of Evil. Philosophy in the Contemporary World 7 (1):27-34.
    In the following paper I shall outline a number of preliminary ideas concerning the relationship between the Holocaust and certain themes which emerge in the work of Emmanuel Levinas. As this relationship is distinctly twofold, my analysis will include both a textual and a rather more speculative component. That is to say, while I shall argue that reading Levinas specifically as a post-Holocaust thinker clarifies a number of his philosophical and rhetorical motifs, so, in turn, does this challenging body of (...)
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