The event that King Kuai of Yan demised the crown to his premier Zizhi, is a tentative way of political power transmission happened in the social transforming Warring States Period, which was influenced by the popular theory of Yao and Shun’s demise of that time. However, this tentative was obviously a failure, coming under attacks from all Confucian, Taoist and Legalist scholars. We may understand the development of the thinking concerning the issue of political legitimacy during the Warring States (...) Period by analyzing the different commentaries by different schools on this unusual event, and get some beneficial inspirations. (shrink)
Using the 1991 police beating of Rodney King as case study, this paper draws on Husserlian phenomenology to establish a coherentist account of knowledge as situated with respect to its concrete circumstances of production (e.g., social, cultural, historical, political). I take as my point of departure Gail Weiss's phenomenological investigation into the jury's assessment of evidence in the "Rodney King incident," and in particular, her interest in Husserl's conception of the "horizon" as a structure of consciousness that mediates (...) what is present in perceptual awareness. Making use of Anthony Steinbock's work on Husserlian phenomenological method — drawn from his extensive study of Husserl's unpublished manuscripts — I develop an epistemological framework that treats knowledge claims as inextricably bound to the horizons of meaning from which they arise, and provides standards of epistemic responsibility pertaining to an agent's "framing" of evidence. (shrink)
This article presents the political theology of Martin Luther King. I analyze the notion of political theology, King's argumentation in favour of non-violence strategy in politics and reconstruct a standard model of non-violence action. Finally, I discuss some philosophical and political controversies arising around passive resistance.
Helen Dean King's scientific work focused on inbreeding using experimental data collected from standardized laboratory rats to elucidate problems in human heredity. The meticulous care with which she carried on her inbreeding experiments assured that her results were dependable and her theoretical explanations credible. By using her nearly homozygous rats as desired commodities, she also was granted access to venues and people otherwise unavailable to her as a woman. King's scientific career was made possible through her life experiences. (...) She earned a doctorate from Bryn Mawr College under Thomas Hunt Morgan and spent a productive career at the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology in Philadelphia where she had access to the experimental subjects which made her career possible. In this paper I examine King's work on inbreeding, her participation in the debates over eugenics, her position at the Wistar Institute, her status as a woman working with mostly male scientists, and her involvement with popular science. (shrink)
This article recounts the history of the composition, publication and dissemination of Edward Pococke’s translation into Arabic of Grotius, De Veritate , the motivation for making it alleged both by Grotius and by Pococke, and the changes in the text which were introduced by Pococke. An Appendix provides, for the two chapters which are most different from Grotius’s original, the Arabic text, a literal translation, Grotius’s Latin, and details of the sources of Grotius and Pococke for their accusations against (...) the Muslims in those chapters. (shrink)
The celebrated Greek philosopher Plato had dreamed of a philosopher-king to rule his ideal state. Keeping in socratarian tradition Aristotle said in similar way "it is better for a city to be governed by a good man than even by good laws ". According to Plato, “The philosopher is he who has in his mind the perfect pattern of justice, beauty, truth; his is the knowledge of the eternal; he contemplates all time and all existence; no praises are too (...) high for him.”1 Presently the world is facing leadership crisis. We do not find a humanitarian global mindset of leaders in present times and that is the reason that this world despite of so many material developments is facing the crises of ethics, values and humanity. In the light of these insightful quotes of Greek thinkers, here I am going to discuss about the idea of the philosopher king or Rajrishi in Indian context. Rajarshi is an ancient Indian concept of ideal leadership is offered as a solution for the modern world. (shrink)
Presents an analysis of Jonathan Edwards' theological position. This book includes a study of his life and the intellectual issues in the America of his time, and examines the problem of free will in connection with Leibniz, Locke, and Hume.
The Substitution Anomaly is the failure of intuitively coreferential expressions of the corresponding forms “that S” and “the proposition that S” to be intersubstitutable salva veritate under certain ‘selective’ attitudinal verbs that grammatically accept both sorts of terms as complements. The Substitution Anomaly poses a direct threat to the basic assumptions of Millianism, which predict the interchangeability of “that S” and “the proposition that S”. Jeffrey King has argued persuasively that the most plausible Millian solution is to treat the (...) selective attitudinal verbs as lexically ambiguous , having distinct meanings associated with the different sorts of complement terms. In opposition this approach, I argue that there are independent reasons for maintaining the univocality of these verbs and that this can be done while accommodating the Substitution Anomaly and without sacrificing the transparency of the relevant attitude ascriptions. In particular, I show how, by employing an extended version of Edward Zalta’s system of intensional logic for abstract objects, one can construct for a regimented fragment ℜ of English containing the relevant vocabulary a semantical theory ℑ which (a) treats ℜ’s selective attitudinal verbs as univocal, (b) regards genuine terms as occurring transparently under such verbs in sentences of ℜ, and yet (c) predicts the occurrence of the Substitution Anomaly in ℜ. (shrink)
Edward Shils presented his book Tradition (1981) as the first extensive study of the subject. This article casts light on Shils' multifaceted understanding of tradition, comprising pragmatic, Burkean, veridical, and evolutionist perspectives. His typology of traditions is noted, and his view of institutional bearers of tradition described. In assessing Shils' theory, however, we find that it overreaches, collapsing differences that exist between traditions, transmissions, and the traditional. Key Words: tradition transmission rationalization antitradition science.
In “Moral Disagreement and Moral Expertise” (2007), I offer an argument for the conclusion that our controversial moral beliefs do not amount to knowledge. In this paper, I defend that argument against the criticisms put forth by Nathan King in his “McGrath on Moral Knowledge.”.
Recent scholarship holds that unfulfilled definite descriptions do not play a role in motivating Russellâs theory of descriptions. In this paper, I make use of Gustav Bergmannâs ideal language method to develop an interpretation that restores the puzzle raised by âthe King of Franceâ to the central place it once occupied in discussions of the theory of descriptions. In restoring âthe King of Franceâ, I show that Russellâs discussion of the problem it raises provides a decisive argument against (...) Fregean senses, a claim that also runs counter to most recent work on the theory of descriptions. (shrink)
s argument for the claim that social relations have to be conceived of as primary and main ontological category for an adequate analysis of the social realm. The author shows that Kings arguments do not succeed in fully replacing the categories of agency and structure that are pervasive in contemporary social theory. At most, King succeeds in delineating a neglected area of social theory, something that should be taken into account in addition to structure and agency. (...) Key Words: social ontology rules agency structure hermeneutics. (shrink)
One way to do socially relevant investigations of science is through conceptual analysis of scientific terms used in special-interest science (SIS). SIS is science having welfare-related consequences and funded by special interests, e.g., tobacco companies, in order to establish predetermined conclusions. For instance, because the chemical industry seeks deregulation of toxic emissions and avoiding costly cleanups, it funds SIS that supports the concept of "hormesis" (according to which low doses of toxins/carcinogens have beneficial effects). Analyzing the hormesis concept of its (...) main defender, chemical-industry-funded Edward Calabrese, the paper shows Calabrese and others fail to distinguish three different hormesis concepts, H, HG, and HD. H requires toxin-induced, short-term beneficial effects for only one biological endpoint, while HG requires toxin-induced, net-beneficial effects for all endpoints/responses/subjects/ages/conditions. HD requires using the risk-assessment/regulatory default rule that all low-dose toxic exposures are net-beneficial, thus allowable. Clarifying these concepts, the paper argues for five main claims. (1) Claims positing H are trivially true but irrelevant to regulations. (2) Claims positing HG are relevant to regulation but scientifically false. (3) Claims positing HD are relevant to regulation but ethically/scientifically questionable. (4) Although no hormesis concept (H, HG, or HD) has both scientific validity and regulatory relevance, Calabrese and others obscure this fact through repeated equivocation, begging the question, and data-tri mm ing. Consequently (5) their errors provide some undeserved rhetorical plausibility for deregulating low-dose toxins. (shrink)
Aśvaghoṣa’s Buddhacarita contains two sharply argumented critiques of the non-Buddhists’ self: one against Arāḍa Kālāma’s (proto-)Sāṅkhya version of the ātman in Canto 12, and one of a more general import in Canto 16. Close scrutiny of the latter?s narrative environment reveals Aśvaghoṣa’s indebtedness, in both contents and wording, to either a Mahāsāṅghika(/Lokottaravādin) or—much more plausibly—a (Mūla)sarvāstivāda account of the events that saw the Buddha preach selflessness to King Bimbasāra and his Magadhan subjects. Besides hinting at this genetic relationship, the (...) present essay aims at exhibiting the structure and contents of Aśvaghoṣa’s arguments against the self, some of which can pride themselves of a long posterity in the controversy over the self. (shrink)
Martin Luther King, Jr drew upon his early grounding in family and church to forge a praxis of egalitarian justice in the rigidly segregated American South of his youth. King?s ethical outlook was eclectic, reflecting the influence of such figures as Mays, Davis, Rauschenbusch, Niebuhr, Thurman and Gandhi, alongside such doctrines as personalism and liberalism, nationalism and realism. Yet King?s subsequent academic study more nearly enhanced than restructured his early, formative exposure to black church and community. (...) class='Hi'>King became committed to nonviolence, not as passive resistance, but as an active, aggressive, individual and self?improving solution to problems of gross injustice in society. Nonviolence for King was not an end, but a means, to the achievement of what he called ?Beloved Community? (shrink)
This essay focuses on one aspect of the social thought of Martin Luther King, Jr.: his social ethics. Specifically, it poses the question whether, in what sense, and from what time it is correct to consider King a democratic socialist. The essay argues that King was in fact a democratic socialist and, contrary to the implications of some recent interpreters who have focused on transformation and radicalization in King's thought, that King's democratic socialism was (...) rooted in his formative experience of the black religious tradition and was manifested from his student days at Crozer Theological Seminary forward. The change that may be discerned in King's later years was only a refinement, not a transformation, of his basic orientation. (shrink)
Much attention has been devoted in recent years to the personal idealism of Martin Luther King, Jr. Among the major contributors to the scholarship in this area is Rufus Burrow, Jr., who places King firmly in the tradition of personal idealism, or personalism, while also uncovering the intellectual unease that made King both a deep and creative thinker and a committed and effective social activist.1 Clearly, Burrow's own sense of his role as a personalist informs his approach (...) to the life and thought of King. Although philosophical personalism figures prominently in Burrow's treatment of King in his writings, ethical and social personalism provides the primary theoretical framework for both Burrow's exploration of .. (shrink)
Edward Said's mode of intellectual thinking cannot be categorized in terms of concepts such as liberal, socialist or anarchist. In this sense, Said remained all his life, through his work and his action, an "outsider. " This "outsiderhood" created in him an acute awareness of the world and a critical sense of resistance to all forms of political and intellectual domination. In consequence, Said detects a particularly revealing relationship between a deep-seated commitment to the secular principles of humanism andoutsiderhood (...) as the ideal ontological position for the intellectual. (shrink)
Stephen Yablo has argued for metaontological antirealism: he believes that the sentences claiming or denying the existence of numbers (or other abstract entities or mereological sums) are inapt for truth valuation, because the reference failure of a numerical singular term (or a singular term for an abstract entity or a mereological sum) would not produce a truth value gap in any sentence containing that term. At the same time, Yablo believes that nothing similar applies to singular terms that aim to (...) refer to an entity whose existence or non-existence is a factual matter, e.g. ‘the king of France’: the failure of the presupposition that there is a unique French king makes some sentences with the term ‘the king of France’, in particular “The king of France is bald”, gappy. In this paper I will show that the sentence “The king of France is bald” must be false, and not gappy, according to Yablo’s own criteria and that, furthermore, the presupposition that the term ‘the king of France’ refers presents a fail-safe mechanism in the same way Yablo thinks abstract presuppositions do—this undermines his argument for metaontological antirealism. (shrink)
In this response to essays by Barbara J. King, Gregory R. Peterson, Wesley J. Wildman, and Nancy R. Howell, I present arguments to counter some of the exciting and challenging questions from my colleagues. I take the opportunity to restate my argument for an interdisciplinary public theology, and by further developing the notion of transversality I argue for the specificity of the emerging theological dialogue with paleoanthropology and primatology. By arguing for a hermeneutics of the body, I respond (...) to criticism of my notion of human uniqueness and argue for strong evolutionary continuities, as well as significant discontinuities, between primates, humans, and other hominids. In addition, I answer critical questions about theological methodology and argue how the notion of human uniqueness, theologically restated as the image of God, is enriched by transversally appropriating scientific notions of species specificity and embodied personhood. (shrink)
continent. 1.3 (2011): 149-155. The world is teeming. Anything can happen. John Cage, “Silence” 1 Autonomy means that although something is part of something else, or related to it in some way, it has its own “law” or “tendency” (Greek, nomos ). In their book on life sciences, Medawar and Medawar state, “Organs and tissues…are composed of cells which…have a high measure of autonomy.”2 Autonomy also has ethical and political valences. De Grazia writes, “In Kant's enormously influential moral philosophy, autonomy (...) , or freedom from the causal determinism of nature, became prominent in justifying the human use of animals.”3 One of the oldest uses of autonomy in English is a description of the French civil war from the late sixteenth century: “Others of the…rebellion entred in counsell, whether they ought to admit the King vpon reasonable conditions, specially hauing their autonomy.”4 Life, and in particular human life, and in particular human politics, is well served by the usages of autonomy . What about the rest of reality, however? Should it be thought of, if it's even considered real and mind-independent, as pure stuff for the manipulation or decorative tastes of truly autonomous beings? We tend to think of things such as paperweights and iPhones as mere tools of human design and human use. To use them is to cause them to exist as fully and properly as they can. But according to Martin Heidegger, when a tool such as a paperweight is used, it disappears, or withdraws ( Entzug ). We are preoccupied with copying the page that the paperweight is holding down. We are concerned with an essay deadline, and the paperweight simply disappears into this general project. If the paperweight slips, or if the iPhone freezes, we might notice it. All of a sudden it becomes vorhanden (present-at-hand) rather than zuhanden (ready-to-hand).5 Yet Heidegger is unable to draw a meaningful distinction between what happens to a paperweight when it slips from the book I'm copying from and what happens to the paperweight when it presses on the still resilient pages of the thick paperback itself. Further still and related to this point, even when I am using the paperweight as part of some general task, I am not using the entirety of the paperweight as such. My project itself selects a thin slice of paperweight-being for the purposes of holding down a book. Even when it is zuhanden the paperweight is withdrawn. Graham Harman is the architect of this way of thinking.6 Harman discovered a gigantic coral reef of withdrawn entities beneath the Heideggerian submarine of Da-sein, which itself is operating at an ontological depth way below the choppy surface of philosophy, beset by the winds of epistemology, and infested with the sharks of materialism, idealism, empiricism and most of the other isms that have defined what is and what isn't for the last several hundred years. At a moment when the term ontology was left alone like a piece of well chewed old chewing gum that no one wants to have anything to do with, object-oriented ontology (OOO) has put it back on the table. The coral reef isn't going anywhere and once you have discovered it, you can't un-discover it. And it seems to be teeming with strange facts. The first fact is that the entities in the reef—we call them “objects” somewhat provocatively—constitute all there is: from doughnuts to dogfish to the Dog Star to Dobermans to Snoop Dogg. People, plastic clothes pegs, piranhas and particles are all objects. And they are all pretty much the same, at this depth. There is not much of a distinction between life and non-life (as there isn't in contemporary life science). And there is not much of a distinction between intelligence and non-intelligence (as there is in contemporary artificial intelligence theory). A lot of these distinctions are made by humans, for humans (anthropocentrism). And the concept autonomy has come into play in policing such distinctions. In this essay I shall to try to liberate autonomy for the sake of nonhumans. I shall do so by parsing carefully the title, which is taken from Hakim Bey's work The Temporary Autonomous Zone .8 First we shall explore the term autonomous . Then we shall explore what the full meaning of zone is. Finally, we shall investigate what temporary means. Each of these terms is of great value. An object withdraws from access. This means that its very own parts can't access it. Since an object's parts can't fully express the object, the object is not reducible to its parts. OOO is anti-reductionist. But OOO is also anti-holist. An object can't be reduced to its “whole” either, “reduced upwards” as it were. The whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. So we have a strange irreductionist situation in which an object is reducible neither to its parts nor to its whole. A coral reef is made of coral, fish, seaweed, plankton and so on. But one of these things on its own doesn't embody part of a reef. Yet the reef just is an assemblage of these particular parts. You can't find a coral reef in a parking lot. In this way, the vibrant realness of a reef is kept safe both from its parts and from its whole. Moreover, the reef is safe from being mistaken for a parking lot. Objects can't be reduced to tiny Lego bricks such as atoms that can be reused in other things. Nor can be reduced upwards into instantiations of a global process. A coral reef is an expression of the biosphere or of evolution, yes; but so is this sentence, and we ought to be able to distinguish between coral reefs and sentences in English. The preceding facts go under the heading of undermining . Any attempt to undermine an object—in thought, or with a gun, or with heat, or with the ravages of time or global warming—will not get at the withdrawn essence of the object. By essence is meant something very different from essentialism . This is because essentialism depends upon some aspect of an object that OOO holds to be a mere appearance of that object, an appearance-for some object. This reduction to appearance holds even if that object for which the appearance occurs is the object itself! Even a coral reef can't grasp its essential coral reefness. In essentialism, a superficial appearance is taken for the essence of a thing, or of things in general. In thinking essentialism we may be able to discern another way of avoiding OOO. This is what Harman has christened overmining .? The overminer decides that some things are more real than others: say for example human perception. Then the overminer decides that other things are only granted realness status by somehow coming into the purview of the more real entity. When I measure a photon, when I see a coral reef, it becomes what it is. But when I measure a photon, I never measure the actual photon. Indeed, since at the quantum scale to measure means “to hit with a photon or an electron beam” (or whatever), measurement, perception ( aisthesis ), and doing become the same. What I “see” are deflections, tracks in a diffusion cloud chamber or interference patterns. Far from underwriting a world of pure illusion where the mind is king, quantum theory is one of the very first truly rigorous realisms, thinking its objects as irreducibly resistant to full comprehension, by anything.9 So far we have made objects safe from being swallowed up by larger objects and broken down into smaller objects—undermining. And so far we have made objects safe from being mere projections or reflections of some supervenient entity—overmining. That's quite a degree of autonomy. Everything in the coral reef, from the fish to a single coral lifeform to a tiny plankton, is autonomous. But so is the coral reef itself. So are the heads of the coral, a community of tiny polyps. So is each individual head. Each object is like one of Leibniz's monads, in that each one contains a potentially infinite regress of other objects; and around each object, there is a potentially infinite progress of objects, as numerous multiverse theories are now also arguing. But the infinity, the uncountability, is more radical than Leibniz, since there is nothing stopping a group of objects from being an object, just as a coral reef is something like a society of corals. Each object is “a little world made cunningly” (John Donne).10 We are indeed approaching something like the political valance of autonomy . The existence of an object is irreducibly a matter of coexistence. Objects contain other objects, and are contained “in” other objects. Let us, however, explore further the ramifications of the autonomy of objects. We will see that this mereological approach (based on the study of parts) only gets at part of the astonishing autonomy of things. Yet there are some more things to be said about mereology before we move on. Consider the fact that since objects can't be undermined or overmined, it means that there is strictly no bottom object . There is no object to which all other objects can be reduced, so that we can say everything we want to say about them, hypothetically at least, based on the behavior of the bottom object. The idea that we could is roughly E.O Wilson's theory of consilience .11 Likewise, there is no object from which all things can be produced, no top object . Objects are not emanations from some primordial One or from a prime mover. There might be a god, or gods. Suppose there were. In an OOO universe even a god would not know the essential ins and outs of a piece of coral. Unlike even some forms of atheism, the existence of god (or nonexistence) doesn't matter very much for OOO. If you really want to be an atheist, you might consider giving OOO a spin. If there is no top object and no bottom object, neither is there a middle object . That is, there is no such thing as a space, or time, “in” which objects float. There is no environment distinct from objects. There is no Nature (I capitalize the word to reinforce a sense of its deceptive artificiality). There is no world, if by world we mean a kind of “rope” that connects things together.12 All such connections must be emergent properties of objects themselves. And this of course is well in line with post-Einsteinian physics, in which spacetime just is the product of objects, and which may even be an emergent property of a certain scale of object larger than 10?¹?cm).13 Objects don't sit in a box of space or time. It's the other way around: space and time emanate from objects. How does this happen? OOO tries to produce an explanation from objects themselves. Indeed, the ideal situation would be to rely on just one single object. Otherwise we are stuck with a reality in which objects require other entities to function, which would result in some kind of undermining or overmining. We shall see that we have all the fuel we need “inside” one object to have time and space, and even causality. We shall discover that rather than being some kind of machinery or operating system that underlies objects, causality itself is a phenomenon that floats ontologically “in front of” them. In so doing, we will move from the notion of autonomy and begin approaching a full exploration of the notion of zone , which was promised at the outset of this essay. Since an object is withdrawn, even “from itself,” it is a self-contradictory being. It is itself and not-itself, or in a slightly more expanded version, there is a rift between essence and appearance within an object (as well as “between” them). This rift can't be the same as the clichéd split between substance and accidents , which is the default ontology. On this view, things are like somewhat boring cupcakes with somewhat less boring sugar sprinkles on them of different colors and shapes. But on the OOO view, what is called substance is just another limited slice of an object, a way of apprehending something that is ontologically fathoms deeper. What is called substance and what is called accidence are just on the side of what this essay calls appearance. The rift (Greek, chorismos ) between essence and appearance means that an object presents us with something like what in logic is known as the Liar: some version of the sentence “This sentence is false.” The sentence is true, which means that it is a lie, which means that it is false. Or the sentence is false, which means that it is telling the truth, which means that it is true. Now logic since Aristotle has tried desperately to quarantine such beasts in small backwaters and side streets so that they don't act too provocatively.14 But if OOO holds, then at least one very significant thing in the universe is both itself and not-itself: the object. An object is p ? ¬p. To cope with this fact, we shall need some kind of paraconsistent or even fully dialetheic logic, one that is not allergic to dialetheias (double-truthed things). Yet if we accept that objects are dialetheic, p ? ¬p, we can derive all kinds of things easily from objects. Consider the fact of motion. If objects only occupy one location “in” space at any “one” time, then Zeno's paradoxes will apply to trying to think how an object moves. Yet motion seems like a basic, simple fact of our world. Either everything is just an illusion and nothing really moves at all (Parmenides). Or objects are here and not-here “at the same time.”15 This latter possibility provides the basic setup for all the motion we could wish for. Objects are not “in” time and space. Rather, they “time” (a verb) and “space.” They produce time and space. It would be better to think these verbs as intransitive rather than transitive, in the manner of dance or revolt . They emanate from objects, yet they are not the object. “How can we know the dancer from the dance?” (Yeats).16 The point being, that for there to be a question, there must be a distinction—or there must not be (p ? ¬p).17 It becomes impossible to tell: “What constitutes pretense is that, in the end, you don't know whether it's pretense or not.”18 In this notion of the emergence of time and space from an object we can begin to understand the term zone . Zone can mean belt , something that winds around something else. We talk of temperate zones and war zones. A zone is a place where a certain action is taking place: the zone winds around, it radiates heat, bullets fly, armies are defeated. To speak of an autonomous zone is to speak of a place that a certain political act has carved out of some other entity. Cynically, Tibet is called TAR, the Tibetan Autonomous Region, for this very reason. In this phrase, Region tries to emulate zone : it sounds as if the place has its own rules, but of course, it is very much under the control of China. What action is taking place? “[N]ot something that just is what it is, here and now, without mystery, but something like a quest…a tone on its way calling forth echoes and responses…water seeking its liquidity in the sunlight rippling across the cypresses in the back of the garden.”19 If as suggested earlier there is no functional difference between substance and accidence; if there is no difference between perceiving and doing; if there is no real difference between sentience and non-sentience—then causality itself is a strange, ultimately nonlocal aesthetic phenomenon. A phenomenon, moreover, that emanates from objects themselves, wavering in front of them like the astonishingly beautiful real illusion conjured in this quotation of Alphonso Lingis. Lingis's sentence does what it says, casting a compelling, mysterious spell, the spell of causality, like a demonic force field. A real illusion: if we knew it was an illusion, if it were just an illusion, it would cease to waver. It would not be an illusion at all. We would be in the real of noncontradiction. Since it is like an illusion, we can never be sure: “What constitutes pretense…” A zone is what Lingis calls a level . A zone is not entirely a matter of “free will”: this concept has already beaten down most objects into abject submission. Objects are far more threateningly autonomous, and sensually autonomous, than the Kantian version of autonomy cited in the first paragraph of this essay. A zone is not studiously decided upon by an earnest committee before it goes into action. One of its predominant features is that it is already happening . We find ourselves in it, all of a sudden, in the late afternoon as the shadows lengthen around a city square, giving rise to an uncanny sensation of having been here before. Objects emit zones. Wherever I find myself a zone is already happening, an autonomous zone. It is the nonautonomous zones that are impositions on what is already the case. Or rather, these zones are autonomous zones that exclude and police. They are brittle. Every object is autonomous, but some objects try to maintain themselves through rigidity and brittleness, like (and such as) a police state. Paradoxically, the more rigidly one tries to exclude contradiction, the more virulent become the dialetheias that are possible. I can get around “This sentence is false” by imagining that there are metalanguages that explain what counts as a sentence. Then I can decide that this isn't a real sentence. This is basically Alfred Tarski's strategy, since he invented the notion of metalanguage specifically to cope with dialetheias.20 For example we might claim that sentences such as “This sentence is false” are neither true nor false. But then you can imagine a strengthened version of the Liar such as: “This sentence is not true”; or “This sentence is neither true nor false.” And we can go on adding to the strengthened Liar if the counter-attack tries to build immunity by specifying some fourth thing that a sentence can be besides true, false, and neither true nor false: “This sentence is false, or neither true nor false, or the fourth thing.” And so on.21 It seems as if language becomes more brittle the more it tries to police the Liars of this world. Why? I believe that this increasing brittleness is a symptom of a deep fact about reality. What is this deep fact? Simply that there are objects, that these objects are withdrawn, and that they are walking contradictions. This means indeed that (as Lacan put it) “there is no metalanguage,” since a metalanguage would function as a “middle object” that gave coherency and evenness to the others.22 Since there is no metalanguage, there is no rising above the disturbing illusory play of causality. This may even have political implications: no global critique is therefore possible, and attempts to smooth out or totalize are doomed to fail. To think the zone is to think the notion of temporary , which we shall now begin to discuss in greater detail. The zone is not in time: rather it “times.” But because a zone is an emanation of an object, it is based on a wavering fragility, since objects are p ? ¬p. When an object is born, that means that it has broken free of some other object. An object can be born because it and other objects are fragile. If not, no movement would be possible. Objects contain the seeds of their own destruction, a dialetheic sentence that says something like “This sentence cannot be proved.” Kurt Gödel argues that every true system of propositions contains at least one sentence that the system cannot prove. In order to be true, the system must have a minimum incoherence. To be real, it has to be fragile. Imagine a record player. Now imagine a record called I Cannot Be Played on This Record Player . When you play it on this record player, it produces sympathetic vibrations that cause the record player to shudder apart. No matter how many defense mechanisms you build in, there will always be the possibility of at least one record that destroys the record player.23 That is what being physical is. An object is inherently fragile because it is both itself and not-itself. When the rift between appearance and essence collapses, that is called destruction, ending, death. When an object breaks, several new objects are born. An opera singer sings a loud note in tune with the resonant frequency of a wine glass. (See the movie included below.) The singing is a zone, an autonomous level of intensity, opening a rift between appearance and essence. The glass ripples—for a moment it is nakedly a glass and a not-glass—almost as if it were having an orgasm, a little death. It is caught in the rift of the singing. Then its structure can't handle the coherence of the sound waves, and it breaks. It is incoherence and inconsistency that is the mark of existence, not consistency and noncontradiction. When things break or die, they become coherent. Essence disappears into appearance. I become the memories of friends. A glass becomes a dancing wave. Instantly, there are glass fragments, new temporary autonomous zones. The fragments have broken free from the glass. They are no longer its parts, but emanate their own time and space, becoming perhaps accidental weapons as they bury themselves in my flesh. Thus Hakim Bey's instructions on creating temporary autonomous zones oscillate disturbingly between performance art and politics, circus clowning and revolution. To play with the aesthetic is to play with causality, to rip from the sensual ether emanating from things new regions, new zones. Anarchist politics is the creation of fresh objects in a reality without a top or a bottom object, or for that matter a middle object: Everything in nature is perfectly real including consciousness, there's absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only have the chains of the Law been broken, they never existed; demons never guarded the stars, the Empire never got started, Eros never grew a beard. … There is no becoming, no revolution, no struggle, no path; already you're the monarch of your own skin—your inviolable freedom waits to be completed only by the love of other monarchs: a politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky.24 Bey imagines that this is because chaos is a primordial “undifferentiated oneness-of-being.” A Parmenides or a Spinoza or a Laruelle would read this a certain way. Individual objects, or decisions to talk about this rather than that, are just maggot-like things crawling around on the surface of the giant cheese of oneness.25 Yet he also describes chaos as “Primordial uncarved block, sole worshipful monster, inert & spontaneous, more ultraviolet than any mythology.” This image is of an inconsistent object, not of an undifferentiated field. An object, indeed, that can be distinguished from other things. If not, then the first part of The Temporary Autonomous Zone , subtitled “The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism,” is a kind of onto-theology. Onto-theology proclaims that some things are more real than others. Bey, however, is writing poetically, and thus ambiguously. We are at liberty to read “undifferentiated oneness-of-being” as something like the irreducibility of a thing to its parts and so forth (undermining and overmining). This certainly seems closer to the language in the following paragraph: “There is no becoming … already you're the monarch of your own skin.”26 On this view, there is no difference between art and politics: “When ugliness, poor design & stupid waste are forced upon you, turn Luddite, throw your shoe in the works, retaliate.” Since Romanticism this has been the war cry of the vanguard artist.27 To say to is to fall prey to the tired axioms of the avant-garde, and we think we know how the game goes. But OOO is not simply a way to advocate “new and improved” versions of this shock-the-bourgeoisie boredom. Bey's text is certainly full enough of that. Rather, since causality as such is aesthetic, and since nonhumans are not that different from humans, the new approach would be to form aesthetic–causal alliances with nonhumans. These alliances would have to resist becoming brittle, whether that brittleness is right wing (authoritarianism) or left wing (the endless maze of critique). No “ism,” especially not the ultimate forms, nihilism and cynicism, is in any sense effective at this point. All forms of brittleness are based on the mistaken assumption that there is a metalanguage and that therefore “Anything you can do, I can do meta.” I will not be listing any approaches here, as Bey does. Such lists and manifestos belong to the vanguardism that no longer works. Why? Not because of some marvelous revolution in human consciousness, but because nonhumans have so successfully impinged upon human social, psychic and aesthetic space. It is the time after the end of the world. That happened in 1945, when a thin layer of radioactive materials was deposited in Earth's crust. Geology now calls it this era the Anthropocene . Ironically, this period, named after humans, is the moment at which even the most thick headed of us make decisive contact with nonhumans, from mercury in our blood to manta rays to magnesium. Richard Dawkins, Pat Robertson and Lady Gaga all have to deal with global warming and mass extinction, somehow. We now live in an Age of Asymmetry marked by a skewed, spiraling relationship between vast knowledge and vast nonhuman things—both become vaster and vaster because of one another and for the same reasons.28 This means that coming up with the perfect attitude or the perfect aesthetic prescription just won't work any more. Even the most hardened anthropocentrist now has to pay through the nose for basic food supplies, and has to use more sunscreen. Whether he knows it or acknowledges it, he is already acting with regard towards nonhumans. There is nothing special to think, no special critique that will get rid of the stains of coexistence. The problem won't fit into the well-established modern boxes, which is why the “mystical,” “spiritual” quality of Bey's prose is welcome. Of course, when I put it this way, you may immediately close off and decide that I am talking about perfect attitudes after all, or something outside of politics, or other ways that the radical left marshals to police its thinking of the nonhuman. Because that is what is really at stake in all this: the nonhuman in its coexistence with the human—bosons, gods, clouds, spirits, lifeforms, experiences, the sunlight rippling across the cypresses. Bey begins to get at this in a Latour litany in the second part of The Temporary Autonomous Zone , “The Assassins”: Pomegranate, mulberry, persimmon, the erotic melancholy of cypresses, membrane-pink shirazi roses, braziers of meccan aloes & benzoin, stiff shafts of ottoman tulips, carpets spread like make-believe gardens on actual lawns—a pavilion set with a mosaic of calligrammes—a willow, a stream with watercress—a fountain crystalled underneath with geometry— the metaphysical scandal of bathing odalisques, of wet brown cupbearers hide-&-seeking in the foliage—“water, greenery, beautiful faces.”29 This will be conveniently dismissed as orientalism. If we're never allowed to escape the crumbling prison of modernity for fear of imperialism there is truly no hope. In a similar way, the fear of anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism is very often staged from a place that just is anthropocentrism .30 Critique turns into ressentiment . An object radiates a zone that is aesthetic and therefore causal. Because objects “time” they are temporary. Not because they exist “in” time that eventually gets the better of them. Their very existence implies the possibility of their non-existence. Since objects are not consistent, they can cease to exist. But nothing, no one, will ever be able to insert a blade between appearance and existence, even thought there is a rift there. Now that's what I call autonomy. NOTES 1. John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973), 96. 2. P. B. Medawar and J. S. Medawar, The Life Science: Current Ideas in Biology (London: Wildwood House, 1977), 8. 3. David DeGrazia, Animal Rights: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 5. 4. Antony Colynet, A True History of the Civil Warres in France (London, 1591), 480. 5. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time , tr. Joan Stambaugh (Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press, 1996) 62–71. 6. Graham Harman, Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects (Peru, IL: Open Court, 2002). 7. Hakim Bey, The Temporary Autonomous Zone (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1991). 8. Graham Harman, The Quadruple Object (Ripley: Zero Books, 2011), 7–18. 9. This is not the place to get into an argument about quantum theory, but I have argued that quanta also do not endorse a world that I can't speak about because it is only real when measured. This world is that of the reigning Standard Model proposed by Niels Bohr and challenged by De Broglie and Bohm (and now the cosmologist Valentini, among others). See Timothy Morton, “Here Comes Everything: The Promise of Object-Oriented Ontology,” Qui Parle 19.2 (Spring–Summer, 2011), 163–190. 10. John Donne, Holy Sonnets 15, in The Major Works: Including Songs and Sonnets and Sermons , ed. John Carey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). 11. Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (New York: Knopf, 1998). 12. Martin Heidegger, What Is a Thing? (Washington: Regnery, 1968), 243. 13. Albert Einstein, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory (London: Penguin, 2006); Petr Horava, “Quantum Gravity at a Lifshitz Point,” arXiv:0901.3775v2 [hep-th]. 14. Graham Priest, In Contradiction (Oxford University Press, 2006), passim: the most notable recent quarantine officers have been Tarski, Russell, and Frege. 15. Priest, In Contradiction , 172–181. 16. William Butler Yeats, “Among School Children,” Collected Poems , ed. Richard J. Finneran (New York: Scribner, 1996). 17. Paul de Man, “Semiology and Rhetoric,” Diacritics 3.3 (Autumn, 1973), 27–33 (30). 18. Jacques Lacan, Le seminaire, Livre III: Les psychoses (Paris: Editions de Seuil, 1981), 48. See Slavoj Zizek, The Parallax View (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006), 206. 19. Alphonso Lingis, The Imperative (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998), 29. 20. Priest, In Contradiction , 9–27. 21. See Graham Priest and Francesco Berto, “ Dialetheism ,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2010 Edition), ed. Edward N. Zalta. 22. Jacques Lacan, Écrits: A Selection , tr. Alan Sheridan (London: Tavistock, 1977), 311. 23. The analogy can be found at length in Douglas Hofstadter, “Contracrostipunctus,” Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 75–81. 24. Bey, “ Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism ,” Temporary Autonomous Zone . 25. This is closest to the language of François Laruelle in Philosophies of Difference: A Critical Introduction to Non-Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2011) 179. 26. Bey, “ Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism ,” Temporary Autonomous Zone . 27. Peter Bürger, Theory of the Avant Garde (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984). 28. For further discussion see Timothy Morton, “From Modernity to the Anthropocene: Ecology and Art in the Age of Asymmetry,” The International Social Science Journal 209 (forthcoming). 29. Bey, “ The Assassins ,” Temporary Autonomous Zone . 30. Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010), 75–76. (shrink)
The problem of evil in King Lear is particularly acute, so serious that many critics believe the play offers Shakespeare’s bleakest vision of the world, one that purportedly subverts belief in divine providence and moves in the direction of nihilism.1 William Elton thought that the play depicts the “annihilation of faith in poetic justice . . . within the confines of a grim pagan universe.”2 The play world in Lear has so often been construed as a place without God (...) that at least one critic regards the issue as having been decisively settled.3 Reacting to such views, Maynard Mack demurred to what he called this “fashionable existentialist nausée” that sees in the play the idea that “we inhabit an imbecile .. (shrink)
Edward O. Wilson’s recent decision to abandon kin selection theory has sent shockwaves throughout the biological sciences. Over the past two years, more than a hundred biologists have signed letters protesting his reversal. Making sense of Wilson’s decision and the controversy it has spawned requires familiarity with the historical record. This entails not only examining the conditions under which kin selection theory first emerged, but also the organicist tradition against which it rebelled. In similar fashion, one must not only (...) examine Wilson’s long career, but also those thinkers who influenced him most, especially his intellectual grandfather, William Morton Wheeler (1865–1937). Wilson belongs to a long line of organicists, biologists whose research highlighted integration and coordination, many of whom struggled over the exact same biological riddles that have long defined Wilson’s career. Drawing inspiration (and sometimes ideas) from these intellectual forebears, Wilson is confident that he has finally identified the origin of the social impulse. (shrink)
This book provides a distinctive account of Edward Said's critique of modern culture by highlighting the religion-secularism distinction on which it is predicated. This distinction is both literal and figurative. It refers, on the one hand, to religious traditions and to secular traditions and, on the other hand, to tropes that extend the meaning and reference of religion and secularism in indeterminate ways. The author takes these tropes as the best way of organizing Said's heterogeneous corpus - from Joseph (...) Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography, his first book, to Orientalism, his most influential book, to his recent writings on the Palestinian question. The religion-secularism distinction, as an act of imagination and narrative continuity, lies behind Said's cultural criticism, his notion of intellectual responsibility, and his public controversy with Michael Walzer about the meaning and the uses of the Exodus story and about the question of Palestine. (shrink)
The question of the relation of my work to that of Martin Luther King Jr. cannot be resolved with the theoretical tools Christopher Beem brings to the task. Stanley Fish has written that "those who detach King's words from the history that produced them erase the fact of that history from the slate, and they do so, paradoxically, in order to prevent that history from being truly and deeply altered." The vice of liberalism is not selfishness so (...) much as a forgetfulness that spreads like a blight from the habit of abstraction. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered his people, his savior, and his church, and he called the rest of us to share those memories. Therein lay his strength. (shrink)
István Hargittai: Judging Edward Teller: A closer look at one of the most influential scientists of the twentieth century Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9133-x Authors George B. Kauffman, Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034, USA Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238.
The "tree of life" iconography, representing the history of life, dates from at least the latter half of the 18th century, but evolution as the mechanism providing this bifurcating history of life did not appear until the early 19th century. There was also a shift from the straight line, scala naturae view of change in nature to a more bifurcating or tree-like view. Throughout the 19th century authors presented tree-like diagrams, some regarding the Deity as the mechanism of change while (...) others argued for evolution. Straight-line or anagenetic evolution and bifurcating or cladogenetic evolution are known in biology today, but are often misrepresented in popular culture, especially with anagenesis being confounded with scala naturae. Although well known in the mid 19th century, the geologist Edward Hitchcock has been forgotten as an early, if not the first author to publish a paleontologically based "tree of life" beginning in 1840 in the first edition of his popular general geology text Elementary Geology. At least 31 editions were published and those between 1840 and 1859 had this "paleontological chart" showing two trees, one for fossil and living plants and another for animals set within a context of geological time. Although the chart did not vary in later editions, the text explaining the chart did change to reflect newer ideas in paleontology and geology. Whereas Lamarck, Chambers, Bronn, Darwin, and Haeckel saw some form of transmutation as the mechanism that created their "trees of life," Hitchcock, like his contemporaries Agassiz and Miller, who also produced "trees of life," saw a deity as the agent of change. Through each edition of his book Hitchcock denounced the newer transmutationist hypotheses of Lamarck, then Chambers, and finally Darwin in an 1860 edition that no longer presented his tree-like "paleontological chart.". (shrink)
This paper offers a deconstructive reading of the pure actuality of the unmoved mover of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Lambda. Aristotle describes this first, unmoved principle of movement as a divine sovereign—the king of the cosmos—and maintains that the good governance of the cosmos depends on its unmitigated unity and pure actuality. It is striking, then, when Giorgio Agamben claims that Aristotle bequeathed the paradigm of sovereignty to Western philosophy not through his arguments for the pure actuality of the unmoved mover (...) but rather through his description of the essence of potentiality. An interpretation of Aristotle’s account of potentiality in Metaphysics Theta therefore prepares the way for a deconstruction of the unity and pure actuality of the divine sovereign. I argue that the repetition of nous in Aristotle’s description of the divine thinking of thinking betrays traces of division and difference at the heart of divine sovereignty. If this is the case, then actuality and potentiality become indiscernible at the level of the absolute and the sovereign corresponds to the bifurcated site of this indiscernibility. (shrink)
This essay studies an argumentative practice in eighteenth-century France by exploring the persuasiveness of some petitions to obtain printer licences. Those who wanted to enter the printing business in eighteenth-century France had to obtain licences from the King to do so. The French government had established limits to the number of printers it would permit to operate in the realm; hence, there was competition for any vacancy that became open. Thus, the context is that of trained printers in provincial (...) towns, most of them with their own printing equipment, applying to the government in Paris for the highly valued licences to run printing businesses. We examine a small number of the original petitions and give an account of their persuasive capacity by (a) noticing the narrative character of the letters and (b) distinguishing between propositional and affective attitudes. Our view is that a reconstruction of the petitions as reasonable persuasive discourse is possible when it is noticed how the two kinds of attitudes can be combined to promote the same end. (shrink)
This paper examines the neglected topic of Martin Luther King's comprehension and employment of dialectics. When we examine King's political and ideological development dialectically, we see that there are stages in the development of his thought. Most importantly, the material context of the African-American liberation struggle, as a process of objective development, shaped and directed his thinking as a dialectician. Consequently, the materialcontext of the African-American liberation movement served as a dynamic process which greatly affected King's understanding (...) of dialectics as a tool of analysis. King's early conception of dialectics is not Hegelian. However, after 1965, King becomes more Hegelian, approximating a regulative dialectic. (shrink)