'There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.'l But if things considered in themselves are neither good nor bad, if there is no realm of value existing independently of animate beings and their activities, then thought is not the activity that summons value into being. Hume reminds us, 'Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions', and while Hume's dictum has been widely disputed, we shall defend it.2 Desire, not thought, and volition, (...) not 'cognition, are the springs of good and evil. (shrink)
In this article, the authors examine the Heidegger-Levinas debate on dwelling and hospitality and assess its larger philosophical and political implications. Although Heidegger and Levinas are both critical of the subjectivist stance that engenders the rise of the homeless spirit, they posit different solutions to the Hegelian problematic, with Heidegger advocating an ontology of dwelling and Levinas propounding an ethic of hospitality (hospitalite). After a discussion of the larger political ramifications of their respective projects, we conclude with a critical assessment (...) of Heideggerian homecoming and Levinasian hospitality. More specifically, we attempt to identify the essential elements of a politics of place that is appreciative of the tension that exists between home and homelessness, between Ulysses and Abraham. (shrink)
This article presents an examination of the political implications of Levinas' concept of hospitality (hospitalité). As described by Levinas, hospitality operates in two distinct realms, the ethical and the political. In the ethical realm, the self is morally compelled to welcome the individual stranger into the private space of the home. In the public realm, the self is politically obligated to welcome the whole of humanity into the public space of the homeland. However, since politics is violent and totalizing, the (...) practice of political hospitality requires an ethical transformation of the public realm. For Levinas, such a transformation entails the creation of political and juridical institutions that are fraternalistic, monotheistic and messianic in nature. It is found that Levinas's hospitality ethic is compromised by the fraternalistic, monotheistic and messianic aspects of his political vision. (shrink)
The distinguished philosopher David Gauthier examines Rousseau's evolving notion of freedom, particularly in his later works, where he focuses on a single quest: Can freedom and the independent self be regained? Rousseau's first answer is given in Emile, where he seeks to create a self-sufficient individual, neither materially nor psychologically enslaved to others. His second answer comes in the Social Contract, where he seeks to create a citizen who identifies totally with his community, so that he experiences his dependence on (...) it only as a dependence on himself. Implicitly recognizing the failure of these solutions, his third answer is one of the main themes of the Confessions and Reveries, where he creates himself as the man made for a kind of love that merges with another's into a self-sufficient unity. (shrink)
Are Hobbes's laws of nature to be understood primarily as theorems of reason, or as commands of God, or as commands of the civil sovereign? Each of these accounts can be given textual support; each identifies a role that the laws may be thought to play. Examining the full range of textual references, discussing the place of the laws of nature in Hobbes's argument, and considering how the laws may be known, give strongest support to the first of the three (...) accounts, that the laws are primarily rational precepts and only secondarily civil and divine commands. (shrink)
Is morality rational? In this book Gauthier argues that moral principles are principles of rational choice. He proposes a principle whereby choice is made on an agreed basis of cooperation, rather than according to what would give an individual the greatest expectation of value. He shows that such a principle not only ensures mutual benefit and fairness, thus satisfying the standards of morality, but also that each person may actually expect greater utility by adhering to morality, even though the choice (...) did not have that end primarily in view. In resolving what may appear to be a paradox, the author establishes morals on the firm foundation of reason. Gauthier's argument includes an account of value, linking it to preference and utility; a discussion of the curcumstances in which morality is unnecessary; and an application of morals by agreement to relations between peoples at different levels of development and different generations. Finally, he reflects on the assumptions about individuality and community made by his account of rationality and morality. (shrink)
The conception of social relationships as contractual lies at the core of our ideology. Indeed, that core is constituted by the intersection of this conception with the correlative conceptions of human activity as appropriate and of rationality as utility-maximizing. My concern is to clarify this thesis and to enhance its descriptive plausibility as a characterization of our ideology, but to undermine its normative plausibility as ideologically effective.