The topic of this book is 'creation'. It breaks down into discussions of two distinct, but interrelated, questions: what does the universe look like, and what is its origin? The opinions about creation considered by Norbert Samuelson come from the Hebrew scriptures, Greek philosophy, Jewish philosophy, and contemporary physics. His perspective is Jewish, liberal, and philosophical. It is 'Jewish' because the foundation of the discussion is biblical texts interpreted in the light of traditional rabbinic texts. It is 'philosophical' (...) because the subject matter is important in both past and present philosophical texts, and to Jewish philosophy in particular. Finally, it is 'liberal' because the authorities consulted include heterodox as well as orthodox Jewish sources. The ensuing discussion leads to original conclusions about a diversity of topics, including the limits of human reason and religious faith, and the relevance of scientific models to religious doctrine. (shrink)
Recent historiography of 19th century biology supports the revision of two traditional doctrines about the history of biology. First, the most important and widespread biological debate around the time of Darwin was not evolution versus creation, but biological functionalism versus structuralism. Second, the idealist and typological structuralist theories of the time were not particularly anti-evolutionary. Typological theories provided argumentation and evidence that was crucial to the refutation of Natural Theological creationism. The contrast between functionalist and structuralist approaches (...) to biology continues today, and the historical misunderstanding of 19th century typological biology may be one of its effects. This historical case can shed light on current controversies regarding the relevance of developmental biology to evolution. (shrink)
Introduction : points of departure -- A genealogy of the Christian colonial mindset : ex nihilo from disputed beginnings to orthodox origins -- Ex nihilo and the origin of an empire -- Ex nihilo, erasure and discovery? -- The cogito, ex nihilo, and the legacy of John Locke -- The creation ex nihilo of terra nullius lands : omnipotent nations and the logic of global-colonization -- From epistemologies of domination to grounded thinking -- Opening words about God onto creatio (...) continua -- Creatio continua "all the way down": a post-colonial, planetary understanding of continuing creation -- Conclusion : a brief thought after. (shrink)
This essay explores philosophical questions about practical identity that emerge in David Cronenberg's films, "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises." I distinguish the metaphysical problems of personal identity from the practical problems and contend that the latter are of central importance to the topic of authenticity. Central scenes from both films are examined with an eye to their engagement with the issues of authenticity and self-creation.
An integrated overview of history The volume in this series are arranged topically to cover biography, literature, doctrines, practices, institutions, worship, missions, and daily life. Archaeology and art as well as writings are drawn on to illuminate the Christian movement in its early centuries. Ample attention is also given to the relation of Christianity to pagan thought and life, to the Roman state, to Judaism, and to doctrines and practices that came to be judged as heretical or (...) schismatic. Introductions to each volume tie the articles together for an integrated understanding of the history. Offers insights and understanding The aim of the collection is to give balanced and comprehensive coverage, selected on the basis of the following criteria: original and excellent research and writing; subject matter of use to teachers and students; groundbreaking importance for the history of research; background information for issues and opinions. Understanding the development of early Christianity and its impact on Western history and thought offers valuable insights into the modern world and the present state of Christiantiy. It also provides perspective on comparable developments in other periods of history and reveals human nature in its religious dimension. (shrink)
Originally published anonymously in 1844, Vestiges proved to be as controversial as its author expected. Integrating research in the burgeoning sciences of anthropology, geology, astronomy, biology, economics, and chemistry, it was the first attempt to connect the natural sciences to a history of creation. The author, whose identity was not revealed until 1884, was Robert Chambers, a leading Scottish writer and publisher. Vestiges reached a huge popular audience and was widely read by the social and intellectual elite. It (...) sparked debate about natural law, setting the stage for the controversy over Darwin's Origin. In response to the surrounding debate and criticism, Chambers published Explanations: A Sequel, in which he offered a reasoned defense of his ideas about natural law, castigating what he saw as the narrowness of specialist science. With a new introduction by James Secord, a bibliography of reviews, and a new index, this volume adds to Vestiges and Explanations Chambers's earliest works on cosmology, an essay on Darwin, and an autobiographical essay, raising important issues about the changing meanings of popular science and religion and the rise of secular ideologies in Western culture. (shrink)
I first examine John Duns Scotus’ view of contingency, pure possibility, and created possibilities, and his version of the celebrated distinction between ordained and absolute power. Scotus’ views on ethical natural law and his account of induction are characterised, and their dependence on the preceding doctrines detailed. I argue that there is an inconsistency in his treatments of the problem of induction and ethical natural law. Both proceed with God’s contingently willed creation of a given order of laws, (...) which can be revoked and replaced with a new order of laws. In the case of ethical natural law God promulgated the Decalogue, for example; in the case of nature, there are physical laws that can be known by induction. Scotus exalts the freedom of God and the mutability of ethical natural law in order to explain exceptions to it disclosed by revelation (for example, the Old Testament command to Abraham to kill Isaac). Yet he treats ethical natural laws as (mostly) not universal and immutable. In contrast, he holds that we can arrive at knowledge of the universal and immutable laws of nature, except for those regularities that result from free will. Finally, I present several ways of characterising this tension between Scotus’ doctrines. (shrink)
Over 700,000 copies of the original hardcover and paperback editions of this stunningly popular book have been sold. Karen Armstrong's superbly readable exploration of how the three dominant monotheistic religions of the world—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have shaped and altered the conception of God is a tour de force. One of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, Armstrong traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. From classical (...) philosophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one compelling volume. (shrink)
The central debate of natural theology among medieval Muslims and Jews concerned whether or not the world was eternal. Opinions divided sharply on this issue because the outcome bore directly on God's relationship with the world: eternity implies a deity bereft of will, while a world with a beginning leads to the contrasting picture of a deity possessed of will. In this exhaustive study of medieval Islamic and Jewish arguments for eternity, creation, and the existence of God, Herbert Davidson (...) provides a systematic classification of the proofs, analyzes and explains them, and traces their sources in Greek philosophy. Throughout the study, Davidson tries to take into account every argument of a philosophical character, disregarding only those arguments that rest entirely on religious faith or which fall below a minimal level of plausibility. (shrink)
In this book, award-winning historian of religion Paula Fredriksen tells the surprising story of early Christian concepts of sin, exploring the ways that sin came to shape ideas about God no less than about humanity.
Publication of the Vestiges and the rather primitive theory of evolution it expounded thus played a significant role in the careers of Darwin and Wallace. In addition, in spite of his poor opinion of the Vestiges, it presented Huxley with a convenient topic for critical discussion and the opportunity to focus more attention on the subject of evolution. The dynamic interactions among these leading figures of nineteenth-century natural science helped spur the development of more sophisticated models of evolution.Darwin had a (...) proper appreciation of Chambers's contribution to evolutionary thought, although he fully recognized the shortcomings of this work. He understood the importance of allowing fresh ideas about organic change to be ventilated. However, he was primarily concerned with his own theory and viewed all developments in evolutionary biology from this perspective. If he did not give full consideration to Chambers and his book early on, it was due mainly to his feeling that the concepts in the Vestiges were very different from his own; he was therefore reluctant to embrace them as the forerunners of his own theory. As a scholar, he was also troubled by the scientific errors in the book. However, the record demonstrates that he attempted to make amends for any oversight on his part. His generous letter to Chambers's daughter, and his gracious treatment of Chambers during the brief time the latter lived in London, are ample proof of that.The attacks of Huxley, Sedgwick, and other prominent natural historians and geologists at the time, the problems inherent in Chambers's evolutionary theory, and the publication of the Origin, are the major reasons why the Vestiges became a neglected work. Nevertheless, Chambers's contribution will always stand out because, together with those of other late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century predecessors of Darwin, it laid the foundations of modern evolutionary thought and, more importantly, helped prepare the scientific community for the more fully developed ideas of Darwin and Wallace. (shrink)
This paper uses analogies between Socratic and Wittgenseinian dialogues to argue that analytic philosophy of history should not be abandoned. -/- In their responses to my paper ‘In Defence of Four Socratic Doctrines’ James Warren and John Shand raised a number of important methodological objections, relating to the study of the history of philosophy. I here respond by questioning the supremacy of contextualist history of philosophy over the so-called ‘analytic’ approach. I conclude that the history (...) of ideas had better leave space for both approaches, and that it is a mistake to think of each as being in competition with the other. (shrink)
Abstract This paper argues that history of economics has a fruitful, underappreciated role to play in the development of economics, especially when understood as a policy science. This goes against the grain of the last half century during which economics, which has undergone a formal revolution, has distanced itself from its `literary' past and practices precisely with the aim to be a more successful policy science. The paper motivates the thesis by identifying and distinguishing four kinds of reflexivity in (...) economics. The main thesis of this paper is that because these forms of reflexivity are not eliminable, the history of economics must play a constitutive role in economics (and graduate education within economics). An assumption that I clarify in this paper is that the history of economics ought to be part of the subject matter studied by economics when they are interested in policy science. Even if one does not accept the conclusion, the fourfold classification of reflexivity might hold independent interest. The paper is divided in two parts. First, by reflecting on the writings of George Stigler, Paul Samuelson, George and Milton Friedman, I offer a stylized historical introduction to and conceptualization of the themes of this paper. In particular, I identify various historically influential arguments and strategies that reduced the role of history of economics within the economics discipline. In it I also canvass six arguments that try to capture the cost to economics (understood as a science) for sidelining the history of economics from within the discipline. A sub-text of the introduction is that for contingent reasons, post World War II economics evolved into a policy science. Second, by drawing on the work of Kenneth Boulding, in particular, George Soros, Thomas Merton, Gordon Tullock, I distinguish between four species of reflexivity. These are used to then strengthen the argument for the constitutive role of the history of economics within the economics profession. In particular, I argue that so-called Kuhn-losses are especially pernicious when faced with policy choices under so-called Knightian uncertainty. (shrink)
There are a large number of disciplines that are interested in the theoretical aspects of the history of thought. Their perspectives and subjects may vary, but fundamentally they have a common research interest: the history of human thinking and its products. Despite this, they are studied in relative isolation. I argue that having different subjects as specific objects of research, such as political or scientific thinking, is not a valid justification for the separation. I propose the formation of (...) a new integrated field of study, the philosophy of the history of thought. Its most fundamental questions can be taken to be: 1) What is the basic theoretical unit in the history of thought? 2) How does change take place and how can it be described? 3) What kind of reasons are there for change? Why is there a change in a particular case? The existing confusions around the commitments and basic vocabulary used in contemporary historiography makes the establishment of this field important. Recognizing that there is such a discipline is necessary in order to enable concentration on the fundamental theoretical issues. It is likely that progress on theoretical questions and better awareness of the implicit commitments would have a positive impact on historical practice. (shrink)
Systematic entomology flourished as a branch of Natural History from the 1750s to the end of the nineteenth century. During this interval, the “era of Heroic Entomology,” the majority of workers in the field were dedicated amateurs. This article traces the demographic and occupational shifts in entomology through this 150-year interval and into the early twentieth century. The survey is based on entomologists who studied beetles (Coleoptera), and who named sufficient numbers of species to have their own names abbreviated (...) by subsequent taxonomists. In the eighteenth century, 27 entomologists achieved this level of prominence, of whom 37% were academics, 19% were doctors, 11% had private incomes, 19% were clergymen, and 8% were government officials. Many of those with private incomes were members of the European aristocracy, and all but one were European men. The nineteenth century list included 192 entomologists, of whom 17% were academics, 16% were museum curators, 2% were school teachers, 15% were doctors, 6% were military men, 7% were merchants, 2% were government entomologists, 6% had private incomes, 5% were clergymen, 5% were government officials, and 4% were lawyers. The demographics of entomology shifted dramatically in the nineteenth century. Whereas many of the noteworthy entomologists of the eighteenth century were German, Swedish, or French, in the nineteenth century, many more European countries are represented, and almost one-fifth of the noteworthy entomologists were from the United States. The nineteenth century list, like the eighteenth century list, contains no women. By the twentieth century, 63% of 178 noteworthy systematic entomologists were paid professionals, teaching entomology courses in universities, or studying insect taxonomy in museums and government-sponsored laboratories. Only one person on the twentieth century list had a private income, but women (ten individuals) were included on the list for the first time. (shrink)
Historians often feel that standard philosophical doctrines about the nature and development of science are not adequate for representing the real history of science. However, when philosophers of science fail to make sense of certain historical events, it is also possible that there is something wrong with the standard historical descriptions of those events, precluding any sensible explanation. If so, philosophical failure can be useful as a guide for improving historiography, and this constitutes a significant mode of productive (...) interaction between the history and the philosophy of science. I illustrate this methodological claim through the case of the Chemical Revolution. I argue that no standard philosophical theory of scientific method can explain why European chemists made a sudden and nearly unanimous switch of allegiance from the phlogiston theory to Lavoisier's theory. A careful re-examination of the history reveals that the shift was neither so quick nor so unanimous as imagined even by many historians. In closing I offer brief reflections on how best to explain the general drift toward Lavoisier's theory that did take place. (shrink)
Abstract Contrary to most modern interpretations, in the early modern period, history was an indispensable resource for many philosophers. The different uses of history by Bacon, Gassendi, Locke, and Hume are explored to establish the role of history as a resource in early-modern philosophy.
Although first published in 1969, the methodological views advanced in Quentin Skinner's “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas” remain relevant today. In his article Skinner suggests that it would be inappropriate to even attempt to write the history of any idea or concept. In support of this view, Skinner advances two arguments, one derived from the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein and the other from that of J. L. Austin. In this paper I focus on the (...) first of these arguments. I claim that the conclusion which Skinner draws from this particular argument does not necessarily follow and that an alternative assessment of the methodological significance of Wittgenstein's philosophy for historians of ideas is possible. On this alternative view, far from ruling out conceptual history, an appeal to the view of meaning set out in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations leads to a quite different conclusion, namely that the writing of such a history is arguably a necessary precondition for the elucidation of the meaning of a number of the core concepts in the canon of the history of political thought. Skinner's views have changed somewhat since 1969. Indeed, from the mid 1970s onwards he came to relax the strict opposition to the idea of conceptual history to which he was then committed. The paper concludes by noting that this evolution in Skinner's thinking has made him much more sympathetic than anybody reading “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas” would have imagined to the research project of the Begriffgeschichte School of conceptual history. (shrink)
Among many important claims, Allen Wood in Kant's Ethical ought proposes that Kant's philosophy of history can be grasped as a "naturalist" approach, grounding human nature in biology. I suggest some reservations. First, I question Kant's conception of biology as (a still emergent) science. Second, I question Kant's extension of his notion of "natural predisposition" to reason and freedom. Third, I question the naturalism of Kant's philosophy of history by suggesting the excessive role providence must play in Kant's (...) account. The upshot is to find Kant's philosophy of history one of the less persuasive elements in his system of thought, despite Wood's energetic effort at a contemporary reconstruction. (shrink)
The case often made by scientists (and philosophers) against history and the history of science in particular is clear. Insofar as a field of study is historical as opposed to law-based, it is trivial. Insofar as a field attends to the past of science as opposed to current scientific issues, its efforts are derivative and, by diverting attention from acquiring new knowledge, deplorable. This case would be devastating if true, but it has almost everything almost exactly wrong. The (...) study of history and the study of laws are not mutually exclusive, but unavoidably linked. Neither can be pursued without the other. Much the same can be said of the history of science. The history of science is neither a distraction from "real" science nor even merely a help to science. Rather, the history of science is an essential part of each science. Seeing that this is so requires a broader understanding of both history and science. (shrink)