This essay argues that Catholic (magisterial) social teaching's division of ethics into public and private creates a structural lacuna which makes it almost impossible to envision a truly just situation for migrant domestic careworkers (MDCs) within the current horizon of Catholic social thought. Drawing on a variety of sociological studies, I conclude that it is easy for MDCs to “disappear” between two countries, two families, and, finally, two sets of ethical norms. If the magisterium genuinely wishes Catholic ethicists to address (...) the plight of these migrant women, normative Catholic social teaching must pay more attention to household sociological realities and more fully absorb the feminist critique of the sharp line between the public and the private, between care and paid work. (shrink)
Ralph Cudworth (1617-88) was one of the Cambridge Platonists. His major work, The True Intellectual System of the Universe, was completed in 1671, a year after Spinoza published (anonymously) the Tractatus Logico-philosophicus. It was published a few years later, in 1678. Cudworth offers a spirited attack against the materialism and mechanism of Thomas Hobbes. His work is couched as a search for truth among the ancient philosophers, and this paper examines his use of the Presocratics as a tool for discussing (...) the issues of his day. (shrink)
Osborne argues against the idea that Aristotle thinks that friends are useful for assisting us towards self-knowledge, and defends instead the idea that friends provide an extension of the self which enables one to obtain a richer view of the shared world that we view together. She then examines similar questions about why the good person would gain from encountering fictional characters in literature, and what kinds of literature would be beneficial to the good life.
The book is about three things. First, how Ancient thinkers perceived humans as like or unlike other animals; second about the justification for taking a humane attitude towards natural things; and third about how moral claims count as true, and how they can be discovered or acquired. Was Aristotle was right to see continuity in the psychological functions of animal and human souls? The question cannot be settled without taking a moral stance. As we can either focus on continuity or (...) on discontinuities, how should natural science draw the boundaries? Moral agents act and react in a world that they see under a certain description, and there is no value free science that can settle what is the correct description. This book asks us to think about where moral justification could come from, and suggests that the supposed ‘moral status’ of the object cannot provide the answer. For the moral status of the object is a product of our own imagination, and once we see that, we also see that there remains the question where we ought to have the will to see it. Furthermore, since the perception of moral truth involves the development of imagination and will, the means to attain it will be better served by engagement with poetry and literature than with enquiries that seek to exclude the engagement of the imagination, or any appeal to the beauty of nature or the love of one's fellow creatures. (shrink)
If Socrates is portrayed holding one view in one of Plato's dialogues and a different view in another, should we be puzzled? If (as I suggest) Plato's Socrates is neither the historical Socrates, nor a device for delivering Platonic doctrine, but a tool for the dialectical investigation of a philosophical problem, then we should expect a new Socrates, with relevant commitments, to be devised for each setting. Such a dialectical device – the tailor-made Socrates – fits with what we know (...) of other contributions to the genre of the Sokratikos Logos, to which Plato was neither the first nor the only contributor. (shrink)
This is a book about the invention of Western philosophy, and the first thinkers to explore ideas about the nature of reality, time, and the origin of the universe. It begins with the finding of the new papyrus fragment of Empedocles' poem, and uses the story of its discovery and interpretation to highlight the way our understanding of early philosophers is marked by their presentation in later sources. -/- Generations of philosophers, both ancient and modern, have traced their inspiration back (...) to the presocratics, even though we have very few of their writings left. In this book, Catherine Osborne invites her readers to dip their toes into the fragmentary remains of thinkers from Thales to Pythagoras, Heraclitus to Protagoras, to try to fill in the bits of a jigsaw that has been rejigged many times and in many different ways. (shrink)
All three books reviewed here are turning over again for us the pages of perennially irresistible thinkers whose ideas never cease to hold us transfixed; all three are inviting us to notice that the material that we thought we knew has got more to do with what Nehamas calls 'the art of living' than we might have realised; and all three are making space for attitudes, responses and areas of self-understanding that are, by traditional classifications, irrational and hence sometimes inadequately (...) acknowledged by philosophy as we usually understand it. And, of course, all three are juxtaposing thinkers from the ancient world with major figures from recent and early modern times. (shrink)
In chapter 7 of the third book of De anima Aristotle is concerned with the activity of the intellect (nous), which, here as elsewhere in the work, he explores by developing parallels with his account of sense-perception. In this chapter his principal interest appears to be the notion of judgement, and in particular intellectual judgements about the value of some item on a scale of good and bad. In this paper I shall argue, firstly that there is in fact a (...) coherent structure and focus to this chapter, which has therefore unjustly been criticized as disorganized or corrupt; and secondly that, in the light of such a coherent understanding of the chapter as a whole, we can resolve the difficulties in interpreting the central passage concerned with cross-modal perceptual judgements, and thereby also throw some further light on the related passages in the second chapter of De anima 3, which had been directly concerned with that topic. (shrink)
I ask whether the Recollection argument commits Socrates to the view that our only source of knowledge of the Forms is sense perception. I argue that Socrates does not confine our presently available sources of knowledge to empirically based recollection, but that he does think that we can't begin to move towards a philosophical understanding of the Forms except as a result of puzzles prompted by the shortfall of particulars in relation to the Forms, and hence that our awareness of (...) the Forms is first prompted by sense-perception. This leaves open the possibility that once that critical awareness of the Forms is established, further reflection at a conceptual level may lead to continued recollection and learning without further input from the senses, and that this approach is what is recommended for the more advanced philosopher. Hence the position endorsed by Socrates in the Phaedo, recommending that the philosopher get in training for death, fleeing as far as is possible from the bodily senses which only distract, is consistent with the position on sense perception in the Recollection argument. The senses are treated as a necessary prompt to reflection, not because they provide our best source of knowledge, but because we start life tied to the senses and believing their objects important. (shrink)
This unique book challenges the traditional distinction between eros, the love found in Greek thought, and agape, the love characteristic of Christianity. Focusing on a number of classic texts, including Plato's Symposium and Lysis, Aristotle's Ethics and Metaphysics,, and famous passages in Gregory of Nyssa, Origen, Dionysius the Areopagite, Plotinus, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, the author shows that Plato's account of eros is not founded on self-interest. In this way, she restores the place of erotic love as a Christian motif, (...) and unravels some longstanding confusions in philosophical discussions of love. (shrink)
It is no longer generally believed that Empedocles was the divided character portrayed by nineteenth-century scholars, a man whose scientific and religious views were incompatible but untouched by each other. Yet it is still widely held that, however unitary his thought, nevertheless he still wrote more than one poem, and that his poems can be clearly divided between those which do, and those which do not, concern ‘religious matters’.1 Once this assumption can be shown to be shaky or actually false, (...) the grounds for dividing the quotations of Empedocles into two poems by subject matter disappear; and without that division our interpretation of Empedocles stands in need of radical revision. This paper startswith the modest task of showing that Empedocles may have written only one philosophical poem and not two, and goes on to suggest some of the ways in which we have to rethink the whole story if he did. If all our material belongs to one poem we are bound to link the cycle of the daimones with that of the elements, and this has far-reaching consequences for our interpretation. (shrink)
A study of Hippolytus of Rome and his treatment of Presocratic Philosophy, used as a case study to argue against the use of collections of fragments and in favour of the idea of reading "embedded texts" with attention to the interpretation and interests of the quoting author. A study of methodology in early Greek Philosophy. Includes novel interpretations of Heraclitus and Empedocles, and an argument for the unity of Empedocles's poem.
The second chapter of book three of the De anima marks the end of Aristotle's discussion of sense-perception. The chapter is a long one and apparently rambling in subject matter. It begins with a passage that is usually taken as a discussion of some sort of self-awareness, particularly awareness that one is perceiving, although such an interpretation raises some difficulties. This paper reconsiders the problems raised by supposing that the question discussed in the first paragraph is ‘how do we perceive (...) that we perceive?’, and suggests an alternative interpretation which would solve many of the difficulties and have the additional merit of restoring unity to the sequence of notes which go to make up the whole chapter. (shrink)