Agamben, Badiou, and Russell ABSTRACT: Giorgio Agamben and Alain Badiou have both recently made central use of set-theoretic results in their political and ontological projects. As I argue in the paper, one of the most important of these two both thinkers is the paradox of set membership discovered by Russell in 1901. Russell’s paradox demonstrates the fundamentally paradoxical status of the totality of language itself, in its concrete occurrence or taking-place in the world. The paradoxical status of language is essential (...) to Agamben’s discussions of the “coming community,” “whatever being,” sovereignty, law and its force, and the possibility of a reconfiguration of political life, as well as to Badiou’s notions of representation, political intervention, the nature of the subject, and the event. I document these implications of Russell’s paradox in the texts of Agamben and Badiou and suggest that they point the way toward a reconfigured political life, grounded in a radical reflective experience of language. (shrink)
In Art and intention Paisley Livingston develops a broad and balanced perspective on perennial disputes between intentionalists and anti-intentionalists in philosophical aesthetics and critical theory. He surveys and assesses a wide range of rival assumptions about the nature of intentions and the status of intentionalist psychology. With detailed reference to examples from diverse media, art forms, and traditions, he demonstrates that insights into the multiple functions of intentions have important implications for our understanding of artistic creation and authorship, the (...) ontology of art, conceptions of texts, works, and versions, basic issues pertaining to the nature of fiction and fictional truth, and the theory of art interpretation and appreciation. Livingston argues that neither the inspirationist nor rationalistic conceptions can capture the blending of deliberate and intentional, spontaneous and unintentional processes in the creation of art. Texts, works, and artistic structures and performances cannot be adequately individuated in the absence of a recognition of the relevant makers4intentions. The distinction between complete and incomplete works receives an action-theoretic analysis that makes possible an elucidation of several different senses of "fragment" in critical discourse. Livingston develops an account of authorship, contending that the recognition of intentions is in fact crucial to our understanding of diverse forms of collective art-making. An artist's short-term intentions and long-term plans and policies interact in complex ways in the emergence of an artistic oeuvre, and our uptake of such attitudes makes an important difference to our appreciation of the relations between items belonging to a single life-work. The intentionalism Livingston advocates is, however, a partial one, and accommodates a number of important anti-intentionalist contentions. Intentions are fallible, and works of art, like other artefacts, can be put to a bewildering diversity of uses. Yet some important aspects of art's meaning and value are linked to the artist's aims and activities. (shrink)
The idea that films can be philosophical, or in some sense 'do' philosophy, has recently found a number of prominent proponents. What is at stake here is generally more than the tepid claim that some documentaries about philosophy and related topics convey philosophically relevant content. Instead, the contention is that cinematic fictions, including popular movies such as The Matrix , make significant contributions to philosophy. Various more specific claims are linked to this basic idea. One, relatively weak, but pedagogically important (...) observation is that some films can be used to provide philosophy students with vivid and thought-provoking illustrations of philosophical issues. Film screenings stimulate discussion and may motivate renewed engagement with difficult philosophical texts. A stronger contention, however, seeks to link innovative and philosophically valuable thinking to 'the film itself' or to the 'specificity of the cinematic medium'. Such claims raise interesting questions, including questions about the status of the increasingly prevalent philosophically motivated interpretations of particular movies. Who is actually doing the philosophizing in such cases? Is it the audio-visual display, the film-maker, or the philosopher who devises an interpretation of the work? What is the role of specifically cinematic devices in the philosophical points made in such interpretations? Is there any tension between the goal of appreciating a film as a work of art and the goal of arguing that a film has significant implications for a position on a problem in philosophy? A course in the general area of cinema as philosophy can focus on issues related to the locus and status of cinematic philosophizing. It can also delve into specific films and film-makers and philosophically oriented interpretations of specific philosophical topics, such as personal identity. Issues pertaining to interpretation, meaning, and authorship can be usefully investigated in this connection, as can topics in meta-philosophy related to the very nature of philosophical insight or knowledge. Author Recommends Carroll, Noël and Jinhee Choi, eds. 2008. The Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures: An Anthology , Part VIII: Film and Knowledge. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 381–405. Inclues a brief introduction by Carroll followed by papers by Bruce Russell, Karen Hanson, and Lester H. Hunt. Kania, Andrew, ed. 2009. Memento . London: Routledge. A number of philosophers elucidate philosophical themes in Memento and discuss more general issues pertaining to cinema's philosophical significance. Livingston, Paisley. 2009. Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman: On Film as Philosophy . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Part 1 surveys arguments surrounding the cinema as philosophy theme, providing detailed criticisms of some of the bold theses in this area. Part 2 discusses issues related to cinematic authorship and the status of philosophically motivated interpretations of works of fiction, arguing for a partial intentionalist account of a work's meanings. Part 3 illustrates the intentionalist principles in a discussion of Ingmar Bergman's philosophical sources, providing insight into themes of motivated irrationality, inauthenticity, and self-knowledge in some of Bergman's works. Livingston, Paisley and Carl Plantinga, eds. 2009. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film , Part IV: Film as Philosophy. London: Routledge. 547–659. Offers a succinct survey by Wartenberg as well as entries on Ingmar Bergman, Terrence Malick, and Andrei Tarkovsky, discussions of film and specific philosophical topics (morality, skepticism, personal identity, and practical wisdom), and examples of philosophically motivated interpretations of three specific films: The Five Obstructions , Gattaca , and Memento . Smith, Murray and Thomas E. Wartenberg, eds. 2006. Thinking Through Cinema: Film as Philosophy . Malden, MA: Blackwell. A collection of papers that combines essays devoted to general positions on the cinema as philosophy topic as well as specific interpretations of works in different genres. Turvey, Malcolm. 2008. Doubting Vision: Film and the Revelationist Tradition . Oxford: Oxford University Press. A probing critical investigation into the assumptions underlying influential philosophical claims about the epistemic value of cinema. Wartenberg, Thomas E. 2008. Thinking on Screen: Film as Philosophy . London: Routledge. Ably surveys and responds to arguments against the idea that films can 'do philosophy'. It defends a conditionalist form of intentionalism in response to the 'imposition objection' according to which it is only the commentator who reads philosophical themes 'into' the movie; illustrates the favored account of film as philosophy with interpretations of specific cinematic fictions. Online Materials Film-Philosophy http://www.film-philosophy.com/ > Founded in 1996, this peer-reviewed online journal is dedicated to philosophically oriented interpretations of films and cinema studies more generally. The e-mail salon encourages discussion of related topics. Includes essays, festival reports, calls for papers, conference and job information, and book reviews. The archive includes contributions from 1997 to the present. Wartenberg, Thomas E. 'Philosophy of Film.' The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ; http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/film/ > A brief survey of a range of issues in the philosophy of cinema including a few paragraphs on the film as philosophy topic. Philosophical Films http://www.philfilms.utm.edu/2/filmlist.htm > A briefly annotated list of philosophical films grouped in rubrics such as 'The Meaning of Life' and 'Environmental Ethics'. Sample Syllabus What follows is a 4-week 'start-up module' followed by samples of optional units that focus on particular topics and cinematic examples. Introductory Module Week I: Introduction & Overview Livingston, Paisley. 'Recent Work on Cinema as Philosophy.' Philosophy Compass 3 (2008): 1–14, 20 (DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2008.00158.x ). Wartenberg, Thomas E. 2009. 'Film as Philosophy.' The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Ed. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 549–59. Russell, Bruce. 2008. 'The Philosophical Limits of Film.' The Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures: An Anthology . Ed. Noël Carroll and Jinhee Choi. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 387–390. Week II: The Bold Thesis on Film as Philosophy Reading: Livingston, Paisley, 'Theses on Cinema as Philosophy.' Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman, Chapter One. 11–38. Screening: October (dir. Sergei Eisenstein 1928). Week III: Debating the Bold Thesis: The Case of October Carroll, Noël. 1998. 'For God and Country.' Interpreting the Moving Image . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 80–91. Smuts, Aaron. 2009. 'Film as Philosophy: In Defense of a Bold Thesis.' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism , 67:4: 409–20. Week IV: Cinema as Philosophy: Objections and Replies Livingston, Paisley. 2009. 'Arguing over Cinema as Philosophy.' Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman, Chapter Two. 39–59. Additional Optional Units Depending on the instructor's areas of interest and expertise, any of the following units could be added (and in some cases, easily expanded into longer segments). The Case of Ingmar Bergman Livingston, Paisley. 2009. 'Ingmar Bergman.' The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Eds. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 560–568. Screening(s): Wild Strawberries (dir. Ingmar Bergman 1957), or The Seventh Seal (dir. Ingmar Bergman 1957), or Persona (dir. Ingmar Bergman 1966). Skepticism Fumerton, Richard. 2009. 'Skepticism.' In The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Eds. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 601–10. Screening: The Matrix (dir. Andy and Larry Wachowski 1999) or Total Recall (dir. Paul Verhoeven 1990). Ethics Kupfer, Joseph. 1999. Visions of Virtue in Popular Film . Boulder, CO: Westview. 35–60. Falzon, Chris. 2009. 'Why be Moral?' The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Eds. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 591–599. Screening: Groundhog Day (dir. <span class='Hi'>Harold</span> Ramis 1993), or Crimes and Misdemeanors (dir. Woody Allen 1989), or Hollow Man (dir. Paul Verhoeven 2000). Personal Identity Knight, Deborah. 2009. 'Personal Identity.' The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Eds. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 611–619. Hanley, Richard. 2009. ' Memento and Personal Identity: Are We Getting it Backwards?' Memento . Ed. Andrew Kania. London: Routledge. 107–126. Martin, Raymond. 2009. 'The Value of Memory: Reflections on Memento. ' Memento . Ed. Andrew Kania. London: Routledge. 87–106. Screening: Memento (dir. Christopher Nolan 2000). Freedom and (Genetic) Determinism Sesardic, Neven. 2009. 'Gattaca.' The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film . Eds. Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga. London: Routledge. 641–649. Screening: Gattaca (dir. Andrew Niccol 1997). Focus Questions • Is there anything special about the experience of fiction films that is especially well suited to the stimulation of worthwhile philosophical reflection? • Have any novel and philosophically significant ideas found their first expression in a cinematic work? • Under what circumstances can the film medium be used as an expression of a cinematic author's views? • What sort of background knowledge has to be in place for a film to be interpreted as articulating reasonably precise philosophical theses and arguments? • Does the goal of spelling out a film's philosophical meaning sometimes conflict with the goal of appreciating its value as a work of art? (shrink)
The problem of explaining consciousness today depends on the meaning of language: the ordinary language of consciousness in which we define and express our sensations, thoughts, dreams and memories. Paul Livingston argues that this contemporary problem arises from a quest that developed over the twentieth century, and that historical analysis provides new resources for understanding and resolving it. Accordingly, Livingston traces the application of characteristic practices of analytic philosophy to problems about the relationship of experience to linguistic meaning.
Lee Braver: A thing of this world: A history of continental anti-realism Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-10 DOI 10.1007/s11007-011-9210-9 Authors Paul Livingston, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA Journal Continental Philosophy Review Online ISSN 1573-1103 Print ISSN 1387-2842.
The increasingly popular idea that cinematic fictions can "do" philosophy raises some difficult questions. Who is actually doing the philosophizing? Is it the philosophical commentator who reads general arguments or theories into the stories conveyed by a film? Could it be the film-maker, or a group of collaborating film-makers, who raise and try to answer philosophical questions with a film? Is there something about the experience of films that is especially suited to the stimulation of worthwhile philosophical reflections? In the (...) first part of this book, Paisley Livingston surveys positions and arguments surrounding the cinema's philosophical value. He raises criticisms of bold theses in this area and defends a moderate view of film's possible contributions to philosophy. In the second part of the book he defends an intentionalist approach that focuses on the film-makers' philosophical background assumptions, sources, and aims. Livingston outlines intentionalist interpretative principles as well as an account of authorship in cinema. The third part of the book exemplifies this intentionalist approach with reference to the work of Ingmar Bergman. Livingston explores the connection between Bergman's work and the Swedish director's primary philosophical source-a treatise in philosophical psychology authored by the Finnish philosopher, Eino Kaila. Bergman proclaimed that reading this book was a tremendous philosophical experience for him and that he "built on this ground." With reference to materials in the newly created Ingmar Bergman archive, Livingston shows how Bergman took up Kaila's topics in his cinematic explorations of motivated irrationality, inauthenticity, and the problem of self-knowledge. (shrink)
Dr. Gordon Livingston?s books have resonated with readers as universally and deeply as earlier books by M. Scott Peck, Rollo May, and Erich Fromm. Now, Gordon Livingston?a physician of the human heart, a philosopher of human psychology?offers an urgently needed meditation on who best (and who best not ) to love?and how best to love. Dr. Livingston?s primary focus in this new book is on helping us to recognize in ourselves and in others constellations of character traits (...) and what those traits imply both with regard to compatibility and future conduct. As in his previous books, here are Dr. Livingston?s trademark gifts?an unerring sense of what is important, and what Elizabeth Edwards has characterized as ?his unapologetic directness and his embracing compassion??again deployed to provide readers everywhere with a much-needed alternative to the trial-and-error learning that makes wisdom such an expensive commodity. (shrink)
In this book, Livingston develops the political implications of formal results obtained over the course of the twentieth century in set theory, metalogic, and computational theory. He argues that the results achieved by thinkers such as Cantor, Russell, Gödel, Turing, and Cohen, even when they suggest inherent paradoxes and limitations to the structuring capacities of language or symbolic thought, have far-reaching implications for understanding the nature of political communities and their development and transformation. Alain Badiou's analysis of logical-mathematical structures (...) forms the backbone of his comprehensive and provocative theory of ontology, politics, and the possibilities of radical change. Through interpretive readings of Badiou's work as well as the texts of Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, Livingston develops a formally based taxonomy of critical positions on the nature and structure of political communities. These readings, along with readings of Parmenides and Plato, show how the formal results can transfigure two interrelated and ancient problems of the One and the Many: the problem of the relationship of a Form or Idea to the many of its participants, and the problem of the relationship of a social whole to its many constituents. (shrink)
Giorgio Agamben and Alain Badiou have both recently made central use of set-theoretic results in their political and ontological projects. As I argue in the paper, one of the most important of these to both thinkers is the paradox of set membership discovered by Russell in 1901. Russell’s paradox demonstrates the fundamentally paradoxical status of the totality of language itself, in its concrete occurrence or taking-place in the world. The paradoxical status of language is essential to Agamben’s discussions of the (...) “coming community,” “whatever being,” sovereignty, law and its force, and the possibility of a reconfiguration of political life, as well as to Badiou’s notions of representation, political intervention, the nature of the subject, and the event. I document these implications of Russell’s paradox in the texts of Agamben and Badiou and suggest that they point the way toward a reconfigured political life, grounded in a radical reflective experience of language. (shrink)
After more than thirty-ﬁve years of debate and discussion, versions of the functionalist theory of mind originating in the work of Hilary Putnam, Jerry Fodor, and David Lewis still remain the most popular positions among philosophers of mind on the nature of mental states and processes. Functionalism has enjoyed such popularity owing, at least in part, to its claim to offer a plausible and compelling description of the nature of the mental that is also consistent with an underlying physicalist or (...) materialist ontology. Yet despite its continued popularity, many philosophers now think that functionalism leaves something out, in particular that functional explanations and analyses fail to account for consciousness, qualia, or phenomenal states of experience or awareness.¹ If the objection is correct, then functionalism fails in its inability.. (shrink)
Universals are a class of mind independent entities, usually contrasted with individuals, postulated to ground and explain relations of qualitative identity and resemblance among individuals. Individuals are said to be similar in virtue of sharing universals. An apple and a ruby are both red, and their common redness results from sharing a universal. If they are both red at the same time, the universal, red, must be in two places at once. This makes universals quite different from individuals, and controversial. (...) Whether universals are in fact required to explain relations of qualitative identity and resemblance among individuals has engaged metaphysicians for two thousand years. Disputants fall into one of three broad camps. Realists endorse universals. Conceptualists and Nominalists, on the other hand, refuse to accept universals and deny that they are needed. Conceptualists explain similarity among individuals by appealing to general concepts or ideas, things that exist only in minds. Nominalists, in contrast, are content to leave relations of qualitative resemblance brute and ungrounded. Numerous versions of Nominalism have been proposed, some with a great deal of sophistication. Contemporary philosophy has seen the rise of a new form of Nominalism, one that makes use of a special class of individuals, known as tropes. Familiar individuals have many properties, but tropes are single property instances. Whether Trope Nominalism improves on earlier Nominalist theories is the subject of much recent debate. In general, questions surrounding universals touch upon some of the oldest, deepest, and most abstract of philosophical issues. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus famously ends with a remark that, as he says in the book’s “Preface,” could also summarize the sense of the book as a whole: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. Passing over, for the moment, the difference between speaking and knowing, the remark can be read almost as a paraphrase of one written almost 2500 years ago: You could not know what is not – that cannot be done – nor indicate it. (KR 291).
The distinct logical atomisms of Russell and Wittgenstein represent the origin of much that is characteristic of analytic philosophy. They inaugurate the project of logical analysis of ordinary propositions, and provide the first general articulation in the analytic tradition of the connection between the logical form of meaning and the overall structure of the world. For both thinkers, this connection depends on the atomistic doctrine that there is a class of simple things from which everything else is composed, or upon (...) which the existence of.. (shrink)
Over a period of several decades spanning the origin of the Vienna Circle, Schlick repeatedly attacked Husserl''s phenomenological method for its reliance on the ability to intuitively grasp or see essences. Aside from its significance for phenomenologists, the attack illuminates significant and little-explored tensions in the history of analytic philosophy as well. For after coming under the influence of Wittgenstein, Schlick proposed to replace Husserl''s account of the epistemology of propositions describing the overall structure of experience with his own account (...) based on the structure of language rather than on the intuition of essences. I discuss both philosophers'' accounts of the epistemology of propositions describing the structure of experience. For both philosophers, this epistemology was closely related to the general epistemology of logic; nevertheless, neither philosopher had a completely coherent account of it. Comparison of the two approaches shows that perennial and severe theoretical obstacles stand in the way of giving an epistemology of the structure of experience, a central requirement for both philosophers'' theories. Consideration of these obstacles sheds a new light on the reasons for the historically decisive split between the continental and the analytic traditions, as well as on the subsequent development of the analytic tradition away from the structural description of experience. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore Wittgenstein’s inheritance of one specific strand of Kant’s criticism, in the Critique of Pure Reason, of reason’s inherent pretensions to totality. This exploration reveals new critical possibilities in Wittgenstein’s own philosophical method, challenging existing interpretations of Wittgenstein’s political thought as “conservative” and exhibiting the closeness of its connection to another inheritor of Kant’s critique of totality, the Frankfurt school’s criticism of “identity thinking” and the reification of reason to which it leads. Additionally, it shows how (...) Wittgenstein’s linguistic philosophy offers to challenge and undermine, in a historically novel way, the metaphysical assumptions underlying some of our most characteristic and ubiquitous social practices. (shrink)
Although the cinematic medium can be used in philosophically valuable ways, bold contentions about how films 'do philosophy' in an independent, innovative and exclusively cinematic manner are highly problematic. Philosophers' interpretations of the stories conveyed in cinematic fictions do not actually support such bold claims about film's independent philosophical value; nor do they offer adequate appreciations of the films' artistic value. Different kinds of interpretations having different goals and conditions of success should be kept in view if we are to (...) take a sufficiently critical perspective on contributions in this area. In particular, 'as if' interpretations in which a philosophical problematic is freely applied to elements of a movie's story are contrasted to interpretations that target a film author's actual philosophizing. (shrink)
I explore the decisive connection Frege often draws between the context principle and antipsychologism, arguing that his assertion of this connection occupies a central place within the articulation of his linguistic method. In particular, Frege’s appeal to the context principle in the course of describing the epistemology of arithmetic, I argue, connects his doctrine of the nature of judgment with his defense of the objecthood of numbers, showing how an appeal to the special role of judgment in securing truth can (...) function as a linguistically based account of objectivity that excludes subjectivist psychologism. Expanding and clarifying this appeal, moreover, allows us to understand better the special pragmatic position of the recognition of patterns of use and practice in the process of analyzing meanings. In particular, it emerges that these patterns cannot bear the explanatory weight they have sometimes been taken to bear within an envisaged reductive “theory of meaning.” Rather, their recognition must figure within a practice of analysis that is continuous with, rather than an explanatory reduction of, our ordinary discursive practices, and whose elucidatory resources are not accessible except from within the perspective of those practices. (shrink)
The question of the place of what are called “animals” does not seem, at first, obviously to capture the deepest or most important imperative of a deconstructive politics devoted to challenging the constitutive structures of war, mastery, violence and sovereignty in the ‘contemporary scene’ of ‘globalization,’ or what Derrida often described as the ever more problematic and contested “mondialisation” or ‘becoming world’ of the world. And yet, as Derrida said in 1967 with respect to the “question of language” (which is, (...) as I shall argue, at bottom the same question) the question of the life of the simply living (what a longstanding tradition, still operative at the very foundation of contemporary politics, understands as that of the animal) has certainly never been simply one question among others. Indeed, as we shall see, the vanishing trace of an undeterminable “animal” life runs across Derrida’s own text from beginning to end, as it does, in a way that is at once silent, massive, and decisive, across the onto-theologically structured reality of contemporary “global” politics that this text attempts ceaselessly to decipher. This trace or track of a non-human life that crosses this global scene and unsettles its most profoundly orienting axioms cannot in fact be determined as that of “animals,” “an animal” or of “the animal” in general – for as Derrida has ceaselessly reminded us, there is not and has never been any such thing; the first and most essential imperative of a deconstructive reading committed to discerning difference and non-identity is to protest the universalizing gesture of the term or syntagm that, ignoring all of the vast differences of type, function, and characteristic, simply groups and indifferently unites all that is living and not human or plant under a single common term. Yet the deconstructive reading that tracks the trace of a non-human life across the discourses and practices of contemporary politics is nevertheless, as I shall argue, such as to call into question the political, social, theological and metaphysical privilege of the human, everywhere this privilege underlies and supports the axiomatics of what it is to speak or answer, what it is to ask or question, what it can mean to take up the life, community, or identity, of what can perhaps no longer, traversing it, be determined as that of the being that speaks.. (shrink)
Heidegger's treatment of 'machination' in the Beiträge zur Philosophie begins the critique of technological thinking that would centrally characterize his later work. Unlike later discussions of technology, the critique of machination in Beiträge connects its arising to the predominance of 'lived-experience' ( Erlebnis ) as the concealed basis for the possibility of a pre-delineated, rule-based metaphysical understanding of the world. In this essay I explore this connection. The unity of machination and lived-experience becomes intelligible when both are traced to their (...) common root in the primordial Greek attitude of techne , originally a basic attitude of wondering knowledge of nature. But with this common root revealed, the basic connection between machination and lived-experience also emerges as an important development of one of the deepest guiding thoughts of the Western philosophical tradition: the Parmenidean assertion of the sameness of being and thinking. In the Beiträge 's analysis of machination and lived-experience, Heidegger hopes to discover a way of thinking that avoids the Western tradition's constant basic assumption of self-identity, an assumption which culminates in the modern picture of the autonomous, self-identical subject aggressively set over against a pre-delineated world of objects in a relationship of mutual confrontation. In the final section, I investigate an important and illuminating parallel to Heidegger's result: the consideration of the relationship between experience and technological ways of thinking that forms the basis of the late Wittgenstein's famous rule-following considerations. (shrink)
It has often been claimed that adequate aesthetic judgements must be grounded in the appreciator's first-hand experience of the item judged. Yet this apparent truism is misleading if adequate aesthetic judgements can instead be based on descriptions of the item or on acquaintance with some surrogate for it. In a survey of responses to such challenges to the apparent truism, I identify several contentions presented in its favour, including stipulative definitions of ‘aesthetic judgement’, assertions about conceptual gaps between determinate aesthetic (...) properties and even the most perfect descriptions, and claims about the holistic and sensibility-relative character of aesthetic qualities and values. With reference to considerations advanced by Frank Sibley, Alan H. Goldman, and particularists and anti-particularists in meta-ethics, I contend that strong versions of the apparent truism lack sufficient warrant. Two successors are proposed, however. One reframes the thesis in terms of our contingently limited descriptive and theoretical capacities with regard to a subset of the aesthetic qualities of extraordinary works; the second involves a shift from epistemic to axiological matters: what even the most perfect descriptions cannot provide, and in some cases spoil, is our gauging of an item's inherent, experiential value. (shrink)
After more than a century of its development, philosophers working in the analytic tradition have recently begun to consider its history as an object of philosophical investigation.1 This development, particularly significant in the context of a tradition of inquiry that has often conceived of its own problems as ahistorical, is salutary in that it offers to show what, within the tradition, remains rich and vital for philosophy today, as well as to extract the significant theoretical and doctrinal results that can (...) be considered to have been achieved in its itinerary so far. The appearance of a comprehensive, two-volume consideration of the history of analytic philosophy in the twentieth century, written by one of the tradition’s leading contemporary practitioners, is therefore cause for excitement. And Scott Soames’ two-volume Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century is, by any measure, an impressive work. Running to almost 900 pages, it assembles careful, meticulous and detailed expositions and analyses of the arguments and positions of a wide variety of thinkers within the analytic tradition, evaluating the extent of their insight and suggesting implications for philosophical thought today. The analysis is uniformly lucid and clearly written, offering the student of the analytic tradition an indispensable source of arguments she may want to consider in her own work, as well as, in its own argumentation, a suggestive model of at least one way of doing analytic philosophy. Over the course of his reconstructive and evaluative analysis, Soames considers the views and arguments of early analytic philosophers like Russell and Moore, logical positivists like Ayer and.. (shrink)
Frege ridiculed the formalist conception of mathematics by saying that the formalists confused the unimportant thing, the sign, with the important, the meaning. Surely, one wishes to say, mathematics does not treat of dashes on a bit of paper. Frege’s idea could be expressed thus: the propositions of mathematics, if they were just complexes of dashes, would be dead and utterly uninteresting, whereas they obviously have a kind of life. And the same, of course, could be said of any proposition: (...) Without a sense, or without the thought, a proposition would be an utterly dead and trivial thing. And further it seems clear that no adding of inorganic signs can make the proposition live. And the conclusion which one draws from this is that what must be added to the dead signs in order to make a live proposition is something immaterial, with properties different from all mere signs. But if we had to name anything which is the life of the sign, we should have to say that it was its use. (Blue Book, p. (shrink)
The current essay describes aspects of C. I. Lewis’s rarely cited contributions to aesthetics, focusing primarily on the conception of aesthetic experience developed in An Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation. Lewis characterized aesthetic value as a proper subset of inherent value, which he understood as the power to occasion intrinsically valued experiences. He distinguished aesthetic experiences from experiences more generally in terms of eight conditions. Roughly, he proposed that aesthetic experiences have a highly positive, preponderantly intrinsic value realized through contemplation, (...) where the experience is indicative of the object’s reliable and characteristic inherent value. Objections to this account motivate a revised, neo-Lewisian proposal. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor's Asymmetric Dependency Theory (ADT) of meaning is discussed in the context of his attempt to avoid holism and the relativism it entails. Questions are raised about the implications of the theory for psychological theories of meaning, and brief suggestions are offered for how to more closely link a theory of meaning to a theory of perception.
Within contemporary analytic philosophy, varieties of “naturalism” have recently attained an almost unchallenged methodological and thematic dominance. As David Papineau wrote in the introduction to his 1993 book Philosophical Naturalism, “nearly everybody nowadays wants to be a naturalist,” although as Papineau also notes, those who aspire to the term also continue to disagree widely about what specific methods or doctrines it implies. My purpose in this paper, however, is not to argue for or against philosophical naturalism on any of the (...) several conceptions current among analytic philosophers, but rather simply to suggest that a closer look at the history of the analytic tradition can offer helpful terms for rethinking what can be meant by applying the categories of “nature” and “culture” within philosophy’s ongoing reflection on the constitutive forms of human life and practice. For, as I shall argue, the central experience of this history – philosophy’s radical encounter with what it envisions as the logical or conceptual structure of everyday language – also repeatedly demonstrates the existence of a fundamental aporia or paradox of origin and practice at the center of the claim of language upon an ordinary human life. The appearance of this paradox has repeatedly determined the results and projects of the analytic tradition, even as analytic philosophers have also reacted to it, on the level of positive theory, in characteristic modes of dismissal, denial, or repression. Besides offering to elicit more clearly what analytic philosophy still offers to show us about our everyday relation to the language that we speak, I shall argue, documenting the existence and effects of this aporia can also yield a clarified sense of the relationship of the analytic tradition itself to the neighboring streams of “continental” philosophy that have also taken up the question of language during the twentieth century. (shrink)
Quine’s thesis of translational indeterminacy stands as one of the most central, surprising, and influential results of analytic philosophy in the twentieth century. The suggestion that the meaning of linguistic terms and sentences, as shown in the situation of radical translation, is systematically indeterminate and undetermined by actual speech practice, has for decades engendered thought and reflection on the nature and basis of linguistic meaning. And even beyond this surprising moral itself, Quine’s theoretical use of the radical translation scenario has (...) been wholly or partly responsible for a wide variety of theoretical programs in analytic philosophy since the middle of the last century, including Davidsonian semantics, Dummett’s consideration of the form and shape of knowledge about meaning, Rorty’s celebration of “philosophy without foundations,” and, more recently, Brandom’s pragmatist project of analyzing the roots of meaning and normativity in intersubjective and socially regulated speech behavior. On many retellings of the history of the analytic tradition, the suggestion that the philosophical analysis of language and meaning depends on reflection about the structure of intersubjective linguistic practice marks a general sea change in the methodological self-conception of analytic philosophy, away from the brands of metaphysical, epistemological, or purely syntactic analyses that had characterized its earlier projects, and toward the more concrete, pragmatic, and empirically influenced reflective practice that philosophers inherit today. (shrink)
The rapid development of connectionist models in computer science and of powerful computational tools in neuroscience has encouraged eliminativist materialist philosophers to propose specific alternatives to traditional mentalistic theories of mind. One of the problems associated with such a move is that elimination of the mental would seem to remove access to ideas like truth as the foundations of normative epistemology. Thus, a successful elimination of propositional or sentential theories of mind must not only replace them for purposes of our (...) psychology, it must also replace them for purposes of the evaluation of our theories and explanations, psychological and otherwise. This paper briefly reviews eliminativist arguments for doubting the correctness of sentential accounts of explanation, understanding, and normative evaluation. It then considers Paul Churchland's (1989) proposed alternative norms, which are framed neurocomputationally. The alternative is found wanting in several specific ways. The arguments for eliminating propositionally-based norms are then re-examined and it is suggested that the need for wholesale elimination is overstated. A clear gap in the traditional epistemological story is identified, however, and a more modest set of norms is proposed as a way of filling this gap, rather than as a way of entirely replacing the traditional framework. (shrink)
A realist story of concepts like Millikan's can and should accommodate facts about how the context of items available for comparison during concept formation affects just what concept is formed or reidentified. Similarly, the contribution of the goals and purposes of the conceptualizer are relevant to how concepts are acquired and deployed, but can be understood as entirely consistent with a view of concepts as objectively evaluable.
Reasons are given for believing that it is premature to abandon the idea that domain-general models of concept learning can explain how human beings understand the biological world. Questions are raised about whether the evidence for domain specificity is convincing, and it is suggested that two constraints on domain-general concept learning models may be sufficient to account for the available data.
l Carroll's criticisms of my essay on C. I. Lewis's conception of aesthetic experience, I discuss reasons given in support of axiological accounts of aesthetic experience, including Lewis's contentions about the intrinsic valence of all experiences and his emphasis on the interests motivating philosophical classifications of experience. I also respond to Carroll's remarks about a possible explanatory requirement on a conception of aesthetic experience and the idea that artists have aesthetic experiences as they make a work of art.
It is suggested that general-purpose cognitive modules are the proper endophenotypes on which evolution has operated, not special purpose belief modules. These general-purpose modules operate to extract adaptive cultural patterns. Belief in souls may be adaptive and based in evolved systems without requiring that a specific cognitive system has evolved to support just such beliefs.
Both my deflationary approach to aesthetic experience and what I call moderate moralism have been challenged recently in the pages of the British Journal of Aesthetics by Paisley Livingston, Robert Stecker, and George Dickie. In this essay, I attempt to deal with their objections while also trying to move the debate to new ground.
In this paper I offer three main challenges to James (2011). All three turn on the nature of philosophy and secure knowledge in Spinoza. First, I criticize James's account of the epistemic role that experience plays in securing adequate ideas for Spinoza. In doing so I criticize her treatment of what is known as the ‘conatus doctrine’ in Spinoza in order to challenge her picture of the relationship between true religion and philosophy. Second, this leads me into a criticism of (...) her account of the nature of philosophy in Spinoza. I argue it is less piecemeal and less akin to what we would recognize as ‘science’ than she suggests. Third, I argue against James's core commitment that Spinoza's three kinds of knowledge differ in degree; I claim they differ in kind. My argument will offer a new interpretation of Spinoza's conception of ‘common notions’. Moreover, I argue that Spinozistic adequate knowledge involves something akin to angelic disembodiment. (shrink)
Was sind wir? Wie immer man sich zu dieser Frage stellt, eines scheint offenkundig: Wir sind Tiere, genauer gesagt: menschliche Tiere, Mitglieder der Art Homo sapiens. Dabei mag es überraschen, daß viele Philosophen diese vermeintlich banale Tatsache abstreiten. Plato, Augustinus, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant und Hegel, um nur einige herausragende zu nennen, waren alle der Meinung, wir seien keine Tiere. Es mag zwar sein, daß unsere Körper Tiere sind. Doch sind wir nicht mit unseren Körpern gleichzusetzen. Wir sind etwas (...) anderes als Tiere. Kaum anderer Meinung sind Denker nicht-westlicher Traditionen. Und rund neun von zehn Philosophen, die heutzutage über Probleme der personalen Identität nachdenken, vertreten Ansichten, die ausschließen, daß wir Tiere sind. (shrink)
Eric R. Scerri: selected papers on the periodic table Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s10698-010-9089-2 Authors Pieter Thyssen, Ph.D. Fellow of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), Department of Chemistry, Laboratory of Coordination Chemistry, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200F bus 2404, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238 Journal Volume Volume 12 Journal Issue Volume 12, Number 3.
The subject of this paper is an introduction to my assessment of the work of the late American anthropologist, Eric Wolf (1923–1999), whom I consider to be one of the greatest American anthropologist. I plan a monograph on his total work from a point of view, largely overlooked, emphasizing his sensitive, path-breaking, and poetic insights. I see Wolf’s work as having three interpenetrating periods, which I call (1) Eric Wolf, the poet, focusing primarily on his work on Mexico, (...) (2) the study of peasantry world-wide, emphasizing history, context, power, etc. (from the very beginning Wolf demolished the idea of static isolated cultures that anthropologists so loved to study; and in this respect, Eric Wolf changed anthropology forever), and (3) the third period, reaching to his death and never really finished, was Wolf the philosopher and crosser of boundaries. (shrink)
Following its determination of a finding of scientific misconduct the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) will seek redress for any injury sustained. Several remedies both administrative and statutory may be available depending on the strength of the evidentiary findings of the misconduct investigation. Pursuant to federal regulations administrative remedies are primarily remedial in nature and designed to protect the integrity of the affected research program, whereas statutory remedies including civil fines and criminal penalties are designed to deter and punish wrongdoers. (...) This commentary discusses the available administrative and statutory remedies in the context of a specific case, that of former University of Vermont nutrition researcher Eric Poehlman, and supplies a possible rationale for the legal result. (shrink)
The enigma of Eric Hoffer -- The migrant worker -- On the waterfront -- Intimate friendships -- The true believer -- Hoffer as a public figure -- The literary life -- America and the intellectuals -- God, Jehovah, and the Jews -- The longshoreman philosopher.
Eric Olson argues in The Human Animal that thought-experiments involving body-swapping do not in the end offer any support to psychological continuity theories, nor do they pose any threat to his Biological View. I argue that he is mistaken in at least the second claim.
Refusing to pursue recent and possible future developments in medical research is itself a morally momentous decision—and that inaction has consequences Cohen and other right-wing thinkers refuse to acknowledge. -/- .