In theory, at least, we might achieve a certain sort of invulnerability right at the end of life. Suppose that under favorable circumstances we can live a certain number of years, say 125, but no longer, and also that we can make life as a whole better and better over time. Under these assumptions we might hope to disarm death by spending 125 years making life as good as it can be. If we were lucky enough to (...) accomplish that, afterwards we would be immune to mortal harm. Especially for those who are closer to the beginning of life than to the end, however, this strategy leaves much to be desired. It is like devouring an entire banquet so as to eliminate the danger of someone stealing it from us. Like a feast, a good life is safely ours after it is over, but then safety comes too late to be of any use to us. To be of practical value, we need protection from mortal harm much earlier in life. (shrink)
Can we render death harmless to us by perfecting life, as the ancient Epicureans and Stoics seemed to think? It might seem so, for after we perfect life—assuming we can—persisting would not make life any better. Dying earlier rather than later would shorten life, but a longer perfect life is no better than a shorter perfect life, so dying would take nothing of value from us. However, after sketching what perfecting life might entail, (...) I will argue that it is not a desirable approach to invulnerability after all. (shrink)
Kant’s treatment of teleology and life in the Critique of the Power of Judgment is complicated and difficult to interpret; Hegel’s response adds considerable complexity. I propose a new way of understanding the underlying philosophical issues in this debate, allowing a better understanding of the underlying structure of the arguments in Kant and Hegel. My new way is unusual: I use for an interpretive lens some structural features of familiar debates about freedom of the will. These debates, I argue, (...) allow us to see more clearly the underlying structure of a great many philosophical issues. Aside from some suggested avenues of approach, however, I do not aim to interpret what Kant or Hegel has to say about freedom of the will. The idea is to use this interpretive lens to better understand the philosophical issues at stake in their disagreement concerning teleology and life. This will clarify the precise philosophical burden that must be met by Kant’s argument in defense of his skepticism, and why his case has considerable philosophical force. But it will also explain why Kant’s argument itself inevitably provides the opening for Hegel’s reply, and sets a standard that Hegel will meet in a surprising way. Finally, this approach will explain why we can learn a great deal from the philosophical arguments in Kant and Hegel about this topic, despite the intervening years of such great progress in the biological sciences: by looking to Kant and Hegel we can better understand the structure of underlying philosophical terrain of the issues concerning teleology and life—terrain we are still fighting over today. (shrink)
This paper discusses the concept of Dána or charity as the foundation of Indian Social life. Dána has been in vogue in India since the Vedic times, but it was codified by the smritis which prescribe do’s and don’ts of the life of the individual. Limiting its scope to Yagnavalkya smriti the paper analyses the significance of Dána as a regulative principle of accumulation of wealth.
Exhausting Modernity is a bold and exciting new work on the exhaustion of our resources, both natural and human. Brennan marshalls the insights of Marx and Freud to provide a compelling analysis of the pervading modern capitalism: environmental collapse, rising poverty levels, and the increased global economic disparity. Linking the consumption of environmental resources to our own depleted psychic life, she shows that modernity must be rethought if we are to find a sustainable future for both the environment (...) and our own psychic life. (shrink)
Theories of well-being tell us what makes a life good for the one who lives it. But there is more to what makes a life worth living than just well-being. We care about the worth of our lives, and we are right to do so. I defend an objective list theory of the worth of a life: The most worthwhile lives are those high in various objective goods. These principally include welfare and meaning. By distinguishing between worth (...) and welfare, we can capture the intuitive pull of broad theories of welfare without their liabilities. (shrink)
What is the meaning of life? It is a question that has intrigued the great philosophers--and has been hilariously lampooned by Monty Python. Indeed, the whole idea strikes many of us as vaguely pompous, a little absurd. Is there one profound and mysterious meaning to life, a single ultimate purpose behind human existence? In What's It All About?, Julian Baggini says no, there is no single meaning. Instead, Baggini argues meaning can be found in a variety of ways, (...) in this life. He succinctly breaks down six answers people commonly suggest when considering what life is all about--helping others, serving humanity, being happy, becoming successful, enjoying each day as if it were your last, and "freeing your mind." By reducing the vague, mysterious question of meaning to a series of more specific (if thoroughly unmysterious) questions about what gives life purpose and value, he shows that the quest for meaning can be personal, empowering, and uplifting. If the meaning of life is not a mystery, if leading meaningful lives is within the power of us all, then we can look around us and see the many ways in which life can have purpose. We can see the value of happiness while accepting it is not everything. We can see the value of success, without interpreting that too narrowly. We can see the value of seizing the day as well as helping others lead meaningful lives. We can recognize the value of love, as perhaps the most powerful motivator of all. Illustrating his argument with the thoughts of many of the great philosophers and examples drawn from everyday life, Baggini convincingly shows that the search for meaning is personal and within the power of each of us to find. (shrink)
Part I: The representation of life -- Can life be given a real definition? -- The representation of the living individual -- The representation of the life-form itself -- Part II: Naive action theory -- Types of practical explanation -- Naive explanation of action -- Action and time -- Part III: Practical generality -- Two tendencies in practical philosophy -- Practices and dispositions as sources of the goodness of individual actions -- Practice and disposition as sources of (...) individual action. (shrink)
Borrowing conceptual tools from Bergson, this essay asks after the shift in the temporality of life from Merleau-Ponty’s Phénoménologie de la perception to his later works. Although the Phénoménologie conceives life in terms of the field of presence of bodily action, later texts point to a life of invisible and immemorial dimensionality. By reconsidering Bergson, but also thereby revising his reading of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty develops a non-serial theory of time in the later works, one that acknowledges the (...) verticality and irreducibility of the past. Life in the flesh relies on unconsciousness or forgetting, on an invisibility that structures its passage. (shrink)
The question "What is the meaning of life?" is one of the most fascinating, oldest and most difficult questions human beings have ever posed themselves. Often linked to the religious issue of whether we are part of a larger, divine scheme, even in an increasingly secularized culture it remains a question to which we are ineluctably and powerfully drawn. In this acute and thoughtful book, John Cottingham asks why the question vexes us so much and assesses some of the (...) most influential attempts to explain it. John Cottingham examines the view, widely held within science, especially since Darwin, that the cosmos is devoid of value and meaning. He asks what is involved in the "disenchantment" of the natural world by science, and argues that, properly understood, modern cosmology and evolutionary theory need not foreclose the possibility of ultimate meaning. He reflects on the paradox that the very impermanence and fragility of the human condition may lend support to the quest for a "spiritual" dimension of meaning. Drawing on the history of philosophy, he also ponders the costs of insisting that any path to meaning must be a narrowly rational one, and he argues that our human need for meaning may properly be approached by drawing on shared traditions of practice, such as social ceremonies and rites of passage, whose value cannot be analyzed in purely intellectual terms. (shrink)
Cryonic suspension is a relatively new technology that offers those who can afford it the chance to be 'frozen' for future revival when they reach the ends of their lives. This paper will examine the ethical status of this technology and whether its use can be justified. Among the arguments against using this technology are: it is 'against nature', and would change the very concept of death; no friends or family of the 'freezee' will be left alive when he is (...) revived; the considerable expense involved for the freezee and the future society that will revive him; the environmental cost of maintaining suspension; those who wish to use cryonics might not live life to the full because they would economize in order to afford suspension; and cryonics could lead to premature euthanasia in order to maximize chances of success. Furthermore, science might not advance enough to ever permit revival, and reanimation might not take place due to socio-political or catastrophic reasons. Arguments advanced by proponents of cryonics include: the potential benefit to society; the ability to cheat death for at least a few more years; the prospect of immortality if revival is successful; and all the associated benefits that delaying or avoiding dying would bring. It emerges that it might be imprudent not to use the technology, given the relatively minor expense involved and the potential payoff. An adapted and more persuasive version of Pascal's Wager is presented and offered as a conclusive argument in favour of utilizing cryonic suspension. (shrink)
Introduction: "meaning in life and death : our stories" -- John Martin Fischer and Anthony B rueckner, "Why is death bad?", Philosophical studies, vol. 50, no. 2 (September 1986) -- "Death, badness, and the impossibility of experience," Journal of ethics -- John Martin Fischer and Daniel Speak, "Death and the psychological conception of personal identity," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 24 -- "Earlier birth and later death : symmetry through thick and thin," Richard Feldman, Kris McDaniel, Jason R. Raibley, (...) eds., The good, the right, life and death (Aldershot : Ashgate Publishing, 2006) -- "Why immortality is not so bad," International journal of philosophical studies, vol. 2, no. 2 (September 1994) -- John Martin Fischer and Ruth Curl, "Philosophical models of immortality in science fiction," in George Slusser et. al., eds., Immortal engines : life extension and immortality in science fiction and fantasy (Athens, Ga. : University of Georgia Press, 1996) -- "Epicureanism about death and immortality," Journal of ethics, vol. 10, no. 4 -- "Stories," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 20 -- "Free will, death, and immortality : the role of narrative," Philosophical papers (Special issue : meaning in life) volume 34, number 3, November 2005 -- "Stories and the meaning of life," revised and expanded version of "A reply to Pereboom, Zimmerman, and Smith," part of a book symposium on John Martin Fischer, my way : essays on moral responsibility, philosophical books, vol. 47, no. 3. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the view, put forward by several people from Aristotle to Russell, that knowledge is the ultimate purpose and meaning of human life, and I find it wanting. I also argue that all attempts to show that human life has a meaning from an external and higher point of view have been unsuccessful, human life having a meaning only from an internal point of view. I discuss such meaning and argue that, while knowledge (...) is not the ultimate purpose and meaning of human life, it is a precondition of its meaning from an internal point of view. (shrink)
Everyday Life and Cultural Theory provides a unique critical and historical introduction to theories of everyday life. Ben Highmore traces the development of conceptions of everyday life, from the Mass Observation project of the 1930s to contemporary theorists. Individual chapters examine: * Theories of the everyday * Fragments of everyday life * Surrealism: the marvelous in the everyday * Walter Benjamin's Trash Aesthetics * Mass Observation: the science of everyday life * Henri Lefebvre's Dialectics of (...) Everyday Life * Michel de Certeau's Poetics of Everyday Life * Everyday life and the future of cultural studies. (shrink)
What is the meaning of life? In the post-modern, post-religious scientific world, this question is becoming a preoccupation. But it also has a long history: many major figures in philosophy had something to say on the subject. This book begins with an historical overview of philosophers from Plato to Hegel and Marx who have believed in some sort of meaning of life, either in some supposed "other" world or in the future of this world. Young goes on to (...) look at what happened when the traditional structures that provided life with meaning ceased to be believed. (shrink)
Clarifying the essential experiential structures at work in our everyday moral engagements promises both (1) to provide a perspicacious self-understanding, and (2) to significantly contribute to theoretical and practical matters of moral philosophy. Since the phenomenological enterprise is concerned with revealing the a priori structures of experience in general, it is then well positioned to discern the essential structures of moral experience specifically. Phenomenology can therefore significantly contribute to matters pertaining to moral philosophy. In this paper I would like to (...) contribute to the relatively small yet burgeoning field of phenomenological ethics. I endeavour to do so by first identifying and consolidating the basic level of sense-bestowal, and then outlining the a priori structures of volition in order to demonstrate how such phenomenologically discerned structures are required for moral experience. Specifically, in section one I locate moral experience as at the level of meaning that is phenomenologically identified as the life-world, and then vindicate the life-world by illustrating how it is immune to naturalistic rationalisation. By thus both securing the level of meaning that is of concern and importantly delimiting the scope of our analysis, I proceed in section two to relate the volitional analyses of Aristotle, Husserl, and Heidegger. This relation is achieved thanks to a conceptual point of continuity: ‘prohairesis’. By examining the function of this concept (as an intentional structure) and its phenomenological continuity, the ground is then prepared for further phenomenological analyses of the virtues. (shrink)
Where can I find answers? -- Is life sacred? -- Is it bad to die? -- Which deaths are worse? -- Might I live on? -- Should I take the elixir of life? -- Who's who? -- Is it all meaningless? -- Should there be more, and better, people? -- Does reality matter?
In this paper I analyze interpersonal and institutional recognition and discuss the relation of different types of recognition to various principles of social justice (egalitarianism, meritarianism, legitimate favouritism, principles of need and free exchange). Further, I try to characterize contours of good autonomous life, and ask what kind of preconditions it has. I will distinguish between five kinds of preconditions: psychological, material, cultural, intersubjective and institutional. After examining what the role of recognition is among such preconditions, and how they (...) figure in the work of Axel Honneth, Nancy Fraser and Charles Taylor, I suggest a somewhat complex and hopefully rich picture of interpersonal and institutional recognition as a precondition of autonomous good life. (shrink)
This book is about the epistemologically different worlds (hyperverse) in relationship with the "I", the mind-body problem (Frith, Llinas), Bechtel's mechanisms, Clark's extended mind, Bickle's molecular and cellular cognition, Kauffman's life, quantum mechanics, gravity, hyperspace vs. hyperverse -/- .
There is an apparent tension between two familiar platitudes about the meaning of life: (i) that 'meaning' in this context means 'value', and (ii) that such meaning might be ineffable. I suggest a way of trying to bring these two claims together by focusing on an ideal of a meaningful life that fuses both the axiological and semantic senses of 'significant'. This in turn allows for the possibility that the full significance of a life might be ineffable (...) not because its axiological significance is ineffable, but because its semantic significance is ineffable in virtue of the signification relation itself being unsignifiable. I then explore to what degree this claim about signification can be adequately defended. (shrink)
The phrase "the meaning of life" for many seems a quaint notion fit for satirical mauling by Monty Python or Douglas Adams. But in this spirited, stimulating, and quirky enquiry, famed critic Terry Eagleton takes a serious if often amusing look at the question and offers his own surprising answer. Eagleton first examines how centuries of thinkers and writers--from Marx and Schopenhauer to Shakespeare, Sartre, and Beckett--have responded to the ultimate question of meaning. He suggests, however, that it is (...) only in modern times that the question has become problematic. But instead of tackling it head-on, many of us cope with the feelings of meaninglessness in our lives by filling them with everything from football to sex, Kabbala, Scientology, "New Age softheadedness," or fundamentalism. On the other hand, Eagleton notes, many educated people believe that life is an evolutionary accident that has no intrinsic meaning. If our lives have meaning, it is something with which we manage to invest them, not something with which they come ready made. Eagleton probes this view of meaning as a kind of private enterprise, and concludes that it fails to holds up. He argues instead that the meaning of life is not a solution to a problem, but a matter of living in a certain way. It is not metaphysical but ethical. It is not something separate from life, but what makes it worth living--that is, a certain quality, depth, abundance and intensity of life. Here then is a brilliant discussion of the problem of meaning by a leading thinker, who writes with a light and often irreverent touch, but with a very serious end in mind. "If you were to ask what provides some meaning in life nowadays for a great many people, especially men, you could do worse than reply 'football.' Not many of them perhaps would be willing to admit as much; but sport stands in for all those noble causes--religious faith, national sovereignty, personal honor, ethnic identity--for which, over the centuries, people have been prepared to go to their deaths. It is sport, not religion, which is now the opium of the people.". (shrink)
The phrase "the meaning of life" for many seems a quaint notion fit for satirical mauling by Monty Python or Douglas Adams. But in this spirited Very Short Introduction, famed critic Terry Eagleton takes a serious if often amusing look at the question and offers his own surprising answer. Eagleton first examines how centuries of thinkers and writers--from Marx and Schopenhauer to Shakespeare, Sartre, and Beckett--have responded to the ultimate question of meaning. He suggests, however, that it is only (...) in modern times that the question has become problematic. But instead of tackling it head-on, many of us cope with the feelings of meaninglessness in our lives by filling them with everything from football to sex, Kabbala, Scientology, "New Age softheadedness," or fundamentalism. On the other hand, Eagleton notes, many educated people believe that life is an evolutionary accident that has no intrinsic meaning. If our lives have meaning, it is something with which we manage to invest them, not something with which they come ready made. Eagleton probes this view of meaning as a kind of private enterprise, and concludes that it fails to holds up. He argues instead that the meaning of life is not a solution to a problem, but a matter of living in a certain way. It is not metaphysical but ethical. It is not something separate from life, but what makes it worth living--that is, a certain quality, depth, abundance and intensity of life. Here then is a brilliant discussion of the problem of meaning by a leading thinker, who writes with a light and often irreverent touch, but with a very serious end in mind. (shrink)
The Weight of Things explores the hard questions of our daily lives, examining both classic and contemporary accounts of what it means to lead 'the good life'. Looks at the views of philosophers such as Aristotle, the Stoics, Mill, Nietzsche, and Sartre as well as contributions from other traditions, such as Buddhism Incorporates key arguments from contemporary philosophers including Peter Singer, Martha Nussbaum, Robert Nozick, John Finnis, and Susan Wolf Uses examples from biography, literature, history, movies and media, and (...) the news Gives a fresh perspective on the hard questions of our daily lives An engaging read; an excellent book for both students and general readers. (shrink)
I defend the theory that one's life is meaningful to the extent that one promotes the good. Call this the good cause account (GCA) of the meaning of life. It holds that the good effects that count towards the meaning of one's life need not be intentional. Nor must one be aware of the effects. Nor does it matter whether the same good would have resulted if one had not existed. What matters is that one is causally (...) responsible for the good. I argue that the best theory of the meaning of life should clearly distinguish between subjective fulfillment and objective meaningfulness. The GCA respects the distinction. And it is superior to its leading rivals in the recent literature, most notably those of Erik Wielenberg and Susan Wolf. (shrink)
David Benatar argues that being brought into existence is always a net harm and never a benefit. I disagree. I argue that if you bring someone into existence who lives a life worth living (LWL), then you have not all things considered wronged her. Lives are worth living if they are high in various objective goods and low in objective bads. These lives constitute a net benefit. In contrast, lives worth avoiding (LWA) constitute a net harm. Lives worth avoiding (...) are net high in objective bads and low in objective goods. It is the prospect of a LWA that gives us good reason to not bring someone into existence. Happily, many lives are not worth avoiding. Contra Benatar, many are indeed worth living. Even if we grant Benatar his controversial asymmetry thesis, we have no reason to think that coming into existence is always a net harm. (shrink)
Human beings have the unique ability to consciously reflect on the nature of the self. But reflection has its costs. We can ask what the self is, but as David Hume pointed out, the self, once reflected upon, may be nowhere to be found. The favored view is that we are material beings living in the material world. But if so, a host of destabilizing questions surface. If persons are just a sophisticated sort of animal, then what sense is there (...) to the idea that we are free agents who control our own destinies? What makes the life of any animal, even one as sophisticated as Homo sapiens, worth anything? What place is there in a material world for God? And if there is no place for a God, then what hold can morality possibly have on us--why isn't everything allowed? Flanagan's collection of essays takes on these questions and more. He continues the old philosophical project of reconciling a scientific view of ourselves with a view of ourselves as agents of free will and meaning-makers. But to this project he brings the latest insights of neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychiatry, exploring topics such as whether the conscious mind can be explained scientifically, whether dreams are self-expressive or just noise, the moral socialization of children, and the nature of psychological phenomena such as multiple personality disorder and false memory syndrome. What emerges from these explorations is a liberating vision which can make sense of the self, agency, character transformation, and the value and worth of human life. Flanagan concludes that nothing about a scientific view of persons must lead to nihilism. (shrink)
The Everyday Life Reader brings together a wide range of thinkers from Freud to Baudrillard with primary sources on everyday life such as the Mass Observation survey and key texts by Michel de Certeau and Henri Lefebvre, to provide a comprehensive resource on theories of everyday life. Ben Highmore's introduction surveys the development of thought about everyday life, setting theories in their social and historical context, and each themed section opens with an essay introducing the debates. (...) Sections include: * Situating the Everyday * Everyday Life and National Culture * Ethnography Near and Far * Reclamation Work * Everyday Things. (shrink)
The work of Dan Brock and Helga Kuhse is typical of the current stream of thought rejecting the validity of sanctity of life appeals to instill objective inviolable worth in human life regardless of the quality of life of the patient. The context of a person's life is supremely important. In their systems life can have high value, yet the value of life can be outweighed by the force of other disvalues. The notion of (...) quality of life has increasingly come to signify the measurement of the worth of a person's life itself. Having a life equals personal life. Any objectivity to life resides in 'personal', 'biographical', or 'creative' life, not mere biological life. Personal life represents the minimal threshold for any objective worth. In responding to this challenge, John Finnis has argued extensively that life is an intrinsic good – a basic human good. Following from our grasp of human life as a basic incommensurable good, it cannot be practically reasonable both to affirm that (a) 'human life is a basic human good', and (b) that 'human life qua human life can be intentionally acted against to its destruction'. Yet, if the good of human life can be considered self-evident, the self-evidence of the basic human good qua good does not mean that dialectical reasoning cannot be engaged in to indirectly support the practical reasonableness of respecting the good of human life in the deliberative choices that persons make concerning their actions. It is to the use of such dialectical reasoning, supportive of the status of human life as such a basic human good, that the article is primarily concerned to draw out and articulate. (shrink)
What happens when the meaning of life based on a divine revelation no longer makes sense? Does the quest for transcendence end in the pursuit of material success and self-absorption? Luc Ferry argues that modernity and the emergence of secular humanism in Europe since the eighteenth century have not killed the search for meaning and the sacred, or even the idea of God, but rather have transformed both through a dual process: the humanization of the divine and the divinization (...) of the human. Ferry sees evidence for the first of these in the Catholic Church's attempts to counter the growing rejection of dogmatism and to translate the religious tradition into contemporary language. The second he traces to the birth of modern love and humanitarianism, both of which demand a concern for others and even self-sacrifice in defense of values that transcend life itself. Ferry concludes with a powerful statement in favor of what he calls "transcendental humanism"--a concept that for the first time in human history gives us access to a genuine spirituality rooted in human beings instead of the divine. (shrink)
A leading metaphysician of the 19th century, Schopenhauer dispensed with traditional philosophic jargon in favor of a brisk, compelling style. In The Wisdom of Life, an essay from his final work, Parerga und Paralipomena (1851), the philosopher favors individual strength of will and independent, reasoned deliberation over the tendency to act on irrational impulses. He examines the ways in which life can be arranged to derive the highest degree of pleasure and success, presents guidelines to achieving this full (...) and rich manner of living, and advises that even a life well lived must always aspire to grander heights. This excellent translation by T. Bailey Saunders abounds in subjects of enduring relevance. (shrink)
In parts of his Notebooks, Tractatus and in “Lecture on Ethics”, Wittgenstein advanced a new approach to the problems of the meaning of life. It was developed as a reaction to the explorations on this theme by Bertrand Russell. Wittgenstein’s objective was to treat it with a higher degree of exactness. The present paper shows that he reached exactness by treating themes of philosophical anthropology using the formal method of topology.
The game of life is an excellent framework for metaphysical modeling. It can be used to study ontological categories like space, time, causality, persistence, substance, emergence, and supervenience. It is often said that there are many levels of existence in the game of life. Objects like the glider are said to exist on higher levels. Our goal here is to work out a precise formalization of the thesis that there are various levels of existence in the game of (...)life. To formalize this thesis, we develop a set-theoretic construction of the glider. The method of this construction generalizes to other patterns in the game of life. And it can be extended to more realistic physical systems. The result is a highly general method for the set-theoretical construction of substances. (shrink)
In a world of rapid technological advances, the moral issues raised by life and death choices in healthcare remain obscure. Life and Death in Healthcare Ethics provides a concise, thoughtful and extremely accessible guide to these moral issues. Helen Watt examines, using real-life cases, the range of choices taken by healthcare professionals, patients and clients which lead to the shortening of life. The topics looked at include: euthanasia and withdrawal of treatment; the persistent vegetative state; abortion; (...) IVF and cloning; and life-saving treatment of pregnant women. (shrink)
It’s a Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946) presents a plausible theory of the meaning of life: One's life is meaningful to the extent that it promotes the good. Although this theory is credible, the movie suggests a problematic refinement in the Pottersville sequence. George's waking nightmare asks us to compare the actual world with a world where he did not exist. It tells us that we are only responsible for the good that would not exist had we not (...) existed. I argue that this is a bad test. It fails when there are redundant causes. (shrink)
Some people feel threatened by the thought that life might have arisen by chance. What is it about “chance” that some people find so threatening? If life originated by chance, this suggests that life was unintended and that it was not inevitable. It is ironic that people care about whether life in general was intended, but may not have ever wondered whether their own existence was intended by their parents. If it does not matter to us (...) whether one's own existence was intended, as will be hypothesized, then why should it matter whether there was some remote intent behind the creation of the first unicellular organism(s) billions of years ago? I will discuss three possible scenarios by which life might have originated. I will then argue that, in regard to whether one’s individual life can be meaningful, it does not matter whether life was intended or arose by chance. If complex life was unintended and is rare in this universe, this is not a reason to disparage life, but a reason to appreciate and value our existence. -/- . (shrink)
I evaluate four historically precedented tests for what makes a life worth living: (1) The Suicide Test (Camus), (2) The Recurrence Test (Schopenhauer and Nietzsche), (3) The Extra Life Test (Cicero and Hume), and (4) The Preferring Not to Have Been Test (Job and Williams). I argue that all four fail and tentatively defend the heuristic value of a fifth, The Pre-Existence Test for what makes a life worth living: (5) A life worth living is one (...) that a benevolent caretaker with foreknowledge would allow. A life worth avoiding is one that a benevolent caretaker would disallow. This test usefully tracks the general extension of the concept of what makes a life worth living. I consider three objections and note that there appears to be an indeterminate middle category of lives worth neither. Ultimately, I argue that any plausible test will risk circularity or will require a theory of worth to be viable. (shrink)
In this article I develop a theory of political ontology, working to differentiate it from traditional political philosophy and Schmittian political theology. As with political theology, political ontology has its primary grounding not in disinterested contemplation from the standpoint of pure reason, but rather in a confrontation with an existential problem. Yet while for Schmitt this is the problem of how to live and think in obedience to God, the problem for political ontology is the question of being. Thus the (...) political ontologist agrees with the political theologian that the political cannot be thought without an awareness of an irreducible exigency – the fact that one thinks as situated in response to a certain moral or ethical demand – but it takes this demand to consist not in divine revelation, but rather in the fact that the human being is a being for which being is at issue. With this definition in mind I go on to read Giorgio Agamben in resolutely ontological terms, arguing that his concepts of bare life and the exception are largely unintelligible if understood ontically. Instead, these concepts are part of a critique that has as its primary target not the ontic political systems and material institutions of modern states but rather the (negative) metaphysical ground of those systems. Political ontology insists on the intertwining of ontology and politics, claiming that theirs is a relation of mutual determination. (shrink)
Recent years have witnessed a burgeoning interest in the study of everyday life within the social sciences and humanities. In Critiques of Everyday Life Michael Gardiner proposes that there exists a counter-tradition within everyday life theorizing.
Daniel Russell develops a fresh and original view of pleasure and its pivotal role in Plato's treatment of value, happiness, and human psychology. This is the first full-length discussion of the topic for fifty years, and Russell shows its relevance to contemporary debates in moral philosophy and philosophical psychology. Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life will make fascinating reading for ancient specialists and for a wide range of philosophers.
The Implications of Immanence develops a philosophy of life in opposition to the notion of “bio-power,” which reduces the human to the question of power over what Giorgio Agamben terms “bare life,” mere biological existence. Breaking with all biologism or vitalism, Lawlor attends to the dispersion of death at the heart of life, in the “minuscule hiatus” that divides the living present, separating lived experience from the living body and, crucially for phenomenology, inserting a blind spot into (...) a visual field.Lawlor charts here a post-phenomenological French philosophy. What lies beyond phenomenologyis “life-ism,” the positive working out of the effects of the “minuscule hiatus” in a thinking that takes place on a “plane of immanence,” whose implications cannot be predicted. Life-ism means thinking life and death together, thinking death as dispersed throughout life. In carefully argued and extensively documented chapters, Lawlor sets out the surpassing of phenomenology and the advent of life-ism in Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, and Foucault, with careful attention to the writings by Husserl and Heidegger to which these thinkers refer.A philosophy of life has direct implications for present-day political and medical issues. The book takes its point of departure from the current genocide in Darfur and provides conceptual tools for intervening in such issues as the AIDS epidemic and life-support for the infirm. Indeed, the investigations contained in The Implications of Immanence are designed to help us emerge once and for all out of the epoch of bio-power.“Lawlor’s novel way of treating the concept of life is stimulating, original, and necessary for the social well being of our time.”—Fred Evans, Duquesne University“The Implications of Immanence continues the most promising, rigorous, and fruitful ongoing research project among scholars of twentieth-century philosophy. . . .A wonderful new book.”—John Protevi, Louisiana State University. (shrink)
Do trees of life have roots? What do these roots look like? In this contribution, I argue that research on the origins of life might offer glimpses on the topology of these very roots. More specifically, I argue (1) that the roots of the tree of life go well below the level of the commonly mentioned ‘ancestral organisms’ down into the level of much simpler, minimally living entities that might be referred to as ‘protoliving systems’, and (2) (...) that further below, a system of roots gradually dissolves into non-living matter along several functional dimensions. In between non-living and living matter, one finds physico-chemical systems that I propose to characterize by a ‘lifeness signature’. In turn, this ‘lifeness signature’ might also account for a diverse range of biochemical entities that are found to be ‘less-than-living’ yet ‘more-than-non-living’. (shrink)
Rather than to focus upon a particular ‘right to life’, we should consider what rights there are pertaining to our lives and to our living. There are different sorts. There are, for instance, rights that constitute absences of particular duties and rights that correspond to the duties of other agents or agencies. There are also natural and non-natural rights and duties. Different people in different contexts can have different moral duties and different moral rights including rights to life. (...) The question of the moral rights there are to and pertaining to life is considered with reference to James Griffin’s account of human rights. Also considered is the question of who or what can be a bearer of them. (shrink)
In England and Wales, there is significant controversy on the law related to abortion. Recent discussions have focussed predominantly on the health professional's right to conscientious objection. This article argues for a comprehensive overhaul of the law from the perspective of an author who adopts the view that all unborn human beings should be granted the prima facie right to life. It is argued that, should the law be modified in accordance with this stance, it need not imply that (...) health professionals should enjoy an unqualified right to object to participating in the provision of abortion. Indeed, it is proposed that – in some situations – women should be granted a positive right to abortion. While the focus of this article is on changing the law in England and Wales, it is hoped that the position developed here will also inspire legal debate and reform elsewhere. (shrink)
Life and the living (on Aristotelian biohorror) -- Supernatural horror as the paradigm for life -- Aristotle's De anima and the problem of life -- The ontology of life -- The entelechy of the weird -- Superlative life -- Life with or without limits -- Life as time in Plotinus -- On the superlative -- Superlative life I: Pseudo-Dionysius -- Negative vs. affirmative theology -- Superlative negation -- Negation and preexistent life (...) -- Excess, evil, and non-being -- Superlative life II: Eriugena -- Negation in the periphyseon -- The quaestio de nihilo: on nothing -- The quaestio de nihilo: superlative nothing -- Dark intelligible abyss -- Apophasis -- The apophatic logic -- Negation in Frege and Ayer -- Negation vs. subtraction in Badiou -- Negation and contradiction in Priest -- The dialetheic vitalism of negative theology -- Ellipses: Suhraward and the luminous void -- Univocal creatures -- On spiritual creatures -- Life as form in Aristotle -- The concept of the creature -- Univocity I: Duns Scotus vs. Aquinas -- Univocity in Aquinas' Summa theologica -- Univocity in Duns Scotus' Opus oxoniense -- The common nature of the creature -- Univocity II: Duns Scotus vs. Henry of Ghent -- Univocity in Henry of Ghent -- Negative vs. privative indetermination -- Absolute indetermination -- Univocity III: Deleuze's scholasticism three variations -- Spinoza et le problème de l'expression -- Différence et répétition -- Cours de Vincennes -- Univocal creatures -- Ellipses: Dgen and uncreated univocity -- Dark pantheism -- Everything and nothing -- Life as spirit in Aquinas -- The concept of the divine nature -- Immanence I: Eriugena's periphyseon -- Natura and the unthought -- Universal life -- Four statements on pantheism -- Immanence II: Duns Scotus' reportatio Ia -- Univocal immanence -- Actual infinity -- The pathology of the triple primacy -- Immanence III: Nicholas of Cusa's De docta ignorantia -- The coincidence of opposites -- The folds of life -- Absolute vs. contracted pantheism -- Speculative pantheism (Deleuze's interlocutors) -- Pantheism and pure immanence -- The insubordination of immanence in Deleuze -- Scholia I: the isomorphism of univocity and immanence -- Scholia II: the vitalist logic of common notions -- Scholia III: the life of substance -- Dark pantheism -- Ellipses: Wang Yangming and idealist naturalism -- Logic and life (on Kantian teratology) -- The wandering line from Aristotle to Kant -- Critique of life -- Spectral life and speculative realism -- Ontotheology in Kant, atheology in Bataille -- The night land. (shrink)
In this paper I provide an epistemological context for Artificial Life projects. Later on, the insights which such projects will exhibit may be used as a general direction for further Artificial Life implementations. The purpose of such a model is to demonstrate by way of simulation how higher cognitive structures may emerge from building invariants by simple sensorimotor beings. By using the bottom-up methodology of Artificial Life, it is hoped to overcome problems that arise from dealing with (...) complex systems, such as the phenomenon of cognition. The research will lead to both epistemological and technical implications. The proposed ALife model is intended to point out the usefulness of an interdisciplinary approach including methodological approaches from disciplines such as Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Theoretical Biology, and Artificial Life. I try to put them in one single context. The epistemological background which is necessary for this purpose comes from the ideas developed in both epistemological and psychological Constructivism. The model differs from other ALife approaches— and is somewhat radical in this sense—as it tries to start on the lowest possible level, i.e. avoids several a priori assumptions and anthropocentric ascriptions. Due to this characterization, the project may be alternatively viewed as testing the complementary relationship between epistemology and methodology. (shrink)
There have been several recent defenses of biocentric individualism, the position that all living beings have at least some moral standing, simply insofar as they are alive. I develop a virtue-based version of biocentric individualism, focusing on a virtue of reverence for life. In so doing, I attempt to show that such a virtuebased approach allows us to avoid common objections to biocentric individualism, based on its supposed impracticability (or, on the other hand, its emptiness).
According to an editor of The Economist, the world produced, in the years since World War II, seven times more goods than throughout all history. This is well appreciated by lay people, but has hardly affected social scientists. They do not have the conceptual apparatus for understanding accelerated material-technical change and its meaning for people's personal lives, for their ways of relating to them-selves and to the outside world. Of course, a great deal of speculation about emerging life forms (...) in industrialised societies exists and social scientists with a futuristic bend have projected their diverse visions upon public debates, ranging from thc Efficient Hedonism of "post-industrialist' society a la Daniel Bell to the “Responsible Convivialism” of 'post-materialist" critics such as Fritz Schumacher. Competing images of the coming "services society" or "self-service society" share a central concern: the ongoing relation between tile spheres of large organisations and personal lifestyles, between salaried work arid private consumption. They also share a eel-tau' implausibility: few people recognize themselves in either projection. And they sham ubiquitous reference to "technology", without accounting for it in real terms. A good diagnostic of what is actually happening seems to me to be Jonathan Gershuny, who sees a drift toward a particular type of self-service economy: a quite radical shift in the mode of provision of social services, as he calls it, based on new kinds of consumer technologies. Industrialization used to be partial, but is becoming total fast. This process obviously has many facets, the one I am interested in here is the intrusion of modern technology into spheres of life which in the past have been relatively little dependent on it. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss the recent discovery of alleged arsenic bacteria in Mono Lake, California, and the ensuing debate in the scientific community about the validity and significance of these results. By situating this case in the broader context of projects that search for anomalous life forms, I examine the methodology and upshots of challenging biochemical constraints on living things. I distinguish between a narrower and a broader sense in which we might challenge or change our knowledge of (...)life as the result of such a project, and discuss two different kinds of projects that differ in their potential to overhaul our knowledge of life. I argue that the arsenic bacteria case, while potentially illuminating, is the kind of constraint-challenging project that could not—in spite of what was said when it was presented to the public—change our knowledge of life in the deeper sense. (shrink)
Camus and James are not often thought to have much in common. But both agree that “Is life worth living?” is a fundamental philosophical question, and an examination of the views of each as to what constitutes a life that is worth living reveals striking similarities. Although James freely uses the language of religion which Camus adamantly avoids, they agree that a life worth living is marked by a sense of intimacy and communion with others and with (...) the world itself—and by a resolve to fight against the evils that threaten well-being. (shrink)
Philosophy has been always received or bypassed for its resonance or aloofness with the spirit of the time. Should not philosophy/phenomenology of life be expected to do more to ascertain its validity? Should it not pass the pragmatic test, that is to respond directly to the life-concerns of its time? What is the role of the philosopher and philosophy today? Due to the ever-advancing scientific, technological, social and cultural changes that are shaping human life and the (...) class='Hi'>life-world-in-transformation, we are desperately seeking a measure to estimate life's unfolding, a compass to stir the course between Scylla and Charibda to maintain human-hood and creative insight for laying the cornerstones for the unforeseeable unfolding of life dynamisms. It is this challenge which philosophy/phenomenology of life meets with underlying ontopoietic unraveling of the hidden logoic concatenations of beingness-in-becoming. The present collection of essays offers contributions to answer this challenge by focusing upon measure, sharing-in-life, intersubjectivity and communication, societal equilibrium, education, and more. It will be of great interest to those working in the fields of Phenomenology, Philosophy, History of Philosophy, and Contemporary Philosophy. (shrink)
On old age that steals on us fast -- Spiritual development -- The search for happiness -- Meaningful living according to logotherapy -- Guiding principles of logotherapy -- The courage to be authentic : philosophical sources of logotherapy -- The concept of meaning in religion and literature -- Life as a task -- On fate and meaningful living -- Despair as mortal illness in aging -- The gifts of the Gods : sources for discovering meaning in life -- (...) The importance of humor and laughter in old age -- Dealing with guilt and remorse -- Coping with loneliness -- A logotherapeutic perspective on death. (shrink)
Part of a special Issue on Robert Trivers’ The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self‐Deception in Human Life, with some focus on the implication of self-deception and related mental states for meaning in life.
The bookModeling Reality covers a wide range of fascinating subjects, accessible to anyone who wants to learn about the use of computer modeling to solve a diverse range of problems, but who does not possess a specialized training in mathematics or computer science. The material presented is pitched at the level of high-school graduates, even though it covers some advanced topics (cellular automata, Shannon's measure of information, deterministic chaos, fractals, game theory, neural networks, genetic algorithms, and Turing machines). These advanced (...) topics are explained in terms of well known simple concepts: Cellular automata - Game of Life, Shannon's formula - Game of twenty questions, Game theory - Television quiz, etc. The book is unique in explaining in a straightforward, yet complete, fashion many important ideas, related to various models of reality and their applications. Twenty-five programs, written especially for this book, are provided on an accompanying CD. They greatly enhance its pedagogical value and make learning of even the more complex topics an enjoyable pleasure. (shrink)
In THE GENEALOGY OF MORALITY Nietzsche assess the value of the value judgments of morality from the perspective of human flourishing. His positive descriptions of the “higher men” he hopes for and the negative descriptions of the decadent humans he thinks morality unfortunately supports both point to a particular substantive conception of what such flourishing comes to. The Genealogy, however, presents us with a puzzle: why does Nietzsche’s own evaluative standard not receive a genealogical critique? The answer to this puzzle, (...) I argue, lies in recognizing the centrality of the notion of “life”, and its connection to power, in Nietzsche’s overall account. Leiter has argued that his “Millian Model” provides the most charitable reconstruction of appeals to a privileged evaluative standard of power; this model ascribes an inference from a strong doctrine of the will to power according to which only power can be desired. I propose a “Benthamite Model” that ascribes an inference from the inescapability of a tendency towards power, a tendency that is essential to life. I argue that this model avoids the objections Leiter directs at the Millian Model. (shrink)
The basic relationship between people should be care, and the caring life is the highest which humans can live. Unfortunately, care that is not thoughtful slides into illegitimate intrusion on autonomy. Autonomy is a basic good, and we should not abridge it without good reason. On the other hand, it is not the only good. We must sometimes intervene in the lives of others to protect them from grave harms or provide them with important benefits. The reflective person, therefore, (...) needs guidelines for caring. Some contemporary moralists condemn paternalism categorically. This work examines weaknesses in their arguments and proposes new guidelines for paternalism, which it calls "parentalism" to avoid the patriarchal connotations of the old term. Its antiparentalism is more moderate than standard antipaternalism based on an exaggerated respect for autonomy. The work explores implications for both the personal sphere of interactions between individuals, such as friends and family members, and the public sphere of institutions, legislation, and the professional practices. (shrink)
An adaptation of Pascal’s Wager argument has been considered useful in deciding about the provision of life-sustaining treatment for patients in persistent vegetative state. In this article, I assess whether people making such decisions should resort to the application of Pascal’s idea. I argue that there is no sufficient reason to give it an important role in making the decisions.
The Retreat of Reason brings back to philosophy the ambition of offering a broad vision of the human condition. One of the main original aims of philosophy was to give people guidance about how to live their lives. Ingmar Persson resumes this practical project, which has been largely neglected in contemporary philosophy, but his conclusions are very different from those of the ancient Greeks. They typically argued that a life led in accordance with reason, a rational life, (...) would also be the happiest or most fulfilling. By exploring the irrationality of our attitudes to time, identity, and responsibility, Persson shows that the aim of living rationally conflicts not only with the aim of leading the most fulfilling life, but also with the moral aim of promoting the maximization and just distribution of fulfilment for all. The Retreat of Reason challenges some of our most fundamental ideas about ourselves. (shrink)
In this paper, after outlining the methodological role Wittgenstein's appeal to language-games is supposed to play, I examine the picture of language which his discussion of such games and their relations to what Wittgenstein calls forms of life suggests. It is a picture according to which language and its employment are inextricably connected to wider contexts—they are embedded in specific natural and social environments, they are tied to purposive activities serving provincial needs, and caught up in distinctive ways of (...)life which creatures of a certain sort enjoy. In the remainder of the paper, I consider whether Wittgenstein's emphasis on the link between language and the circumstances surrounding its use points in the direction of an influential view widespread in contemporary philosophy of language, namely, semantic contextualism. I examine carefully a number of passages which scholars have appealed to in support of the claim that Wittgenstein advances contextualism and argue that they in fact provide no such support. The connection which Wittgenstein sees between what is expressed in the use of words and the circumstances in which they are used is not the connection the contextualist insists on. (shrink)
In the last few years H.G. Callaway has produced several helpful editions of some important texts by Emerson. Emerson's Conduct of Life was originally published in 1860, and it has appeared in a number of editions since then, but Callaway's edition has several noteworthy features that cause it to stand out from the crowd and make it an important contribution to Emerson studies. This is a rare volume that will serve students, academic philosophers, and causal readers alike: a critical (...) edition of a less-familiar text that is attractive to ordinary readers without sacrificing scholarly rigor. (shrink)
Cyberfeminism and Artificial Life examines construction, manipulation and re-definition of life in contemporary technoscientific culture. It takes a critical political view of the concept of life as information, tracing this through the new biology and the changing discipline of artificial life and its manifestation in art, language, literature, commerce and entertainment. From cloning to computer games, and incorporating an analysis of hardware, software and 'wetware', Sarah Kember demonstrates how this relatively marginal field connects with, and connects (...) up global networks of information systems. As well as offering suggestions for the evolution of [cyber]feminism in Alife environments, the author identifies the emergence of posthumanism; an ethics of the posthuman subject mobilized in the tension between cold war and post-cold war politics, psychological and biological machines, centralized and de-centralized control, top-down and bottom-up processing, autonomous and autopoietic organisms, cloning and transgenesis, species-self and other species. Ultimately, this book aims to re-focus concern on the ethics rather than on the 'nature' of life-as-it-could-be. (shrink)
Philosophy's essence depicted by Socrates lies in its role as pedagogy for living, yet its traditional treatment of ‘body’ as a hindrance to ‘knowledge’ in fact severs it from life, transforming it into ‘an escape from life’ (James, 1978, p. 18). The philosophy/life dichotomy is thus an inherent flaw preventing philosophy as traditionally taught and engaged in, from fulfilling its original goal.Recent rejections of the Cartesian nature of Western curriculum, such as O'Loughlin's ‘Embodiment and Education: Exploring creatural (...) existence’ (2006), constitute an important theoretical paradigm shift, yet still fail to translate to substantial pedagogies which explore the ‘body’ and its relation to ‘mind’ directly. This article suggests a reorientation of philosophy teaching from its present disembodied pedagogy, towards an embodied-lived-philosophical-practice. By the description and exemplification of modern postural yoga (De Michelis, 2004) I will depict the twofold role of the ‘body’ in philosophy teaching: 1) The ‘body’ as pedagogical vehicle serving the emergence of philosophical discourse, and 2) The body as yielding livingness to mean embodied-lived-philosophy as opposed to disembodied-lofty-philosophical escape from life. It will thus be suggested that yoga be incorporated as an integral part of philosophy teaching reclaiming its educational ethos. (shrink)
At times we may be called to be companions on a journey we would rather not take--the journey of a loved one toward the end of life. For those who choose to serve as close companions of terminally ill relatives or friends, Parting offers the collective wisdom of people from many cultures and faith traditions as a "travel guide" for meaningful companionship--helping someone toward a peaceful transition from this life. Sections of the book discuss how to cross the (...) bridge from ordinary conversation to spiritual reflection how to provide comforts for the body, mind, and soul and how to care for yourself while concentrating on the needs of another. Transcending any specific religion or culture, this handbook addresses universal spiritual needs. Designed for easy reading by weary travelers, this practical, pocket-sized guide prepares the spiritual companion for an enriching experience, even on the journey toward life's end. It is an indispensable tool for family members and friends, hospice workers, religious leaders, counselors, and medical providers. (shrink)
Disorders of consciousness and the permanent vegetative state -- Legal and political wrangling over Terri's life -- In context--law and ethics -- Terri's wishes -- The limits of evidence -- The implications of surrogacy -- Qualities of life -- Feeding -- The preservation of life -- Respect and care : an alternative framework.
Aristotle claims at Eudemian Ethics 1.2 that everyone who can live according to his own choice should adopt some goal for the good life, which he will keep in view in all his actions, for not to have done so is a sign of folly. This is an opinion shared by other ancients as well as some moderns. Others believe, however, that this view is false to the human condition, and provide a number of objections: (1) you can’t plan (...) love; (2) nor life’s surprises; (3) planning a whole life is of no use since the world changes too much; (4) as do our values; and (5) planning a life is something only dreary people would do. The aim of this paper is to examine these objections, as part of a broader attempt to defend the relevance of a eudaimonistic approach to the question of how to live well. (shrink)
This article clarifies Hegel's argument within ``Force and the Understanding'' in his Phenomenology of Spirit by developing Hegel's underlying point through discussion of recent and ongoing issues concerning explanation in natural and psychological science. The latter proceeds by way of a critical discussion of the problem of other minds and the ``theory theory of mind.'' The article thereby shows how and why Hegel's analysis of the understanding inaugurates a crucial transition in his Phenomenology, from consciousness to self-consciousness and life. (...) Putting Hegel's underlying points into conversation with recent science shows how his point -- that scientific understanding is not abstract but embedded in human life -- still speaks to science. (shrink)
Do we do anything wrong to animals simply by ending their lives if it causes them no pain or suffering? According to some, we can do no wrong to animals by killing them because animals do not have an interest in continued life. An attempt to ground an interest in continued life in animals’ desires faces the challenge that animals are supposedly incapable of desiring to live or of having the kinds of long-range desires which could be thwarted (...) by death. Some philosophers argue that death harms animals not because it thwarts their desires, but rather because it forecloses their future opportunities for satisfaction. However, this argument is problematic because (1) it’s unclear that animals’ future opportunities belong to the same continuing selves and (2) it’s unclear why we should think that animals’ future opportunities have value for them. A more promising argument holds that many animals have an interest in continued life insofar as they possess certain enjoyments in life, where animals’ enjoyments are best understood not merely as fleeting experiences but rather as dispositional desires which animals continue to possess over time. (shrink)
Bioethics and the stages on life's way -- Bioethical challenges in the new millennium -- The covenantal aspect of Christian marriage -- The use and abuse of human embryos -- The sacredness of newborn life -- On addictions and family systems -- The hope of glory : from a physical to a spiritual body -- Care in the final stage of life.
1. The Place of Intellectual Life: The University -- The University as an Institutional Solution to the Problem of Knowledge -- The Alienability of Knowledge in Our So-called Knowledge Society -- The Knowledge Society as Capitalism of the Third Order -- Will the University Survive the Era of Knowledge Management? -- Postmodernism as an Anti-university Movement -- Regaining the University's Critical Edge by Historicizing the Curriculum -- Affirmative Action as a Strategy for Redressing the Balance Between Research and Teaching (...) -- Academics Rediscover Their Soul: The Rebirth of Academic Freedom' -- 2. The Stuff of Intellectual Life: Philosophy -- Epistemology as 'Always Already' Social Epistemology -- From Social Epistemology to the Sociology of Philosophy: The Codification of Professional Prejudices? -- Interlude: Seeds of an Alternative Sociology of Philosophy -- Prolegomena to a Critical Sociology of Twentieth-century Anglophone Philosophy -- Analytic Philosophy's Ambivalence Toward the Empirical Sciences -- Professionalism as Differentiating American and British Philosophy -- Conclusion: Anglophone Philosophy as a Victim of Its Own Success -- 3. The People of Intellectual Life: Intellectuals -- Can Intellectuals Survive if the Academy Is a No-fool Zone? -- How Intellectuals Became an Endangered Species in Our Times: The Trail of Psychologism -- A Genealogy of Anti-intellectualism: From Invisible Hand to Social Contagion -- Re-defining the Intellectual as an Agent of Distributive Justice -- The Critique of Intellectuals in a Time of Pragmatist Captivity -- Pierre Bourdieu: The Academic Sociologist as Public Intellectual -- 4. The Improvisational Nature of Intellectual Life -- Academics Caught Between Plagiarism and Bullshit -- Bullshit: A Disease Whose Cure Is Always Worse -- The Scientific Method as a Search for the (Piled) Higher (and Deeper) Bullshit -- Conclusion: How to Improvize on the World-historic Stage -- Summary of the Argument. (shrink)
Since antiquity, philosophers and engineers have tried to take life’s measure by reproducing it. Aiming to reenact Creation, at least in part, these experimenters have hoped to understand the links between body and spirit, matter and mind, mechanism and consciousness. Genesis Redux examines moments from this centuries-long experimental tradition: efforts to simulate life in machinery, to synthesize life out of material parts, and to understand living beings by comparison with inanimate mechanisms. Jessica Riskin collects seventeen essays from (...) distinguished scholars in several fields. These studies offer an unexpected and far-reaching result: attempts to create artificial life have rarely been driven by an impulse to reduce life and mind to machinery. On the contrary, designers of synthetic creatures have generally assumed a role for something nonmechanical. The history of artificial life is thus also a history of theories of soul and intellect. Taking a historical approach to a modern quandary, Genesis Redux is essential reading for historians and philosophers of science and technology, scientists and engineers working in artificial life and intelligence, and anyone engaged in evaluating these world-changing projects. (shrink)
What is truth? This fascinating spectrum of studies into the various rationalities of our human dealings with life - psychological, aesthetic, economic, spiritual - reveals their joints and calls for a new approach to truth. Putting both classical and contemporary conceptions aside, we find the primogenital ground of truth in the networks of correspondences, adequations, relevancies, and rationales at work in life's becoming. Does this plurivocal differentiation mean that the status of truth is relative? On the contrary, submits (...) Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, given the universal significance of the crucial instrument of the logos of life, "truth is the vortex of life's ontopoietic unfolding". (shrink)
What does the right to life mean? The article considers three interpretations: (i) the right to life as the right to life-sustaining essentials, (ii) the right to life as the right not to be killed,s and (iii) the right to life as the right not to be killed unjustly. The article argues that (i) and (iii) accurately define the human right to life. The primary method is philosophical analysis. The article concludes that the right (...) to life is best defined or interpreted as either the right to life-sustaining goods (material or non-material) or the right not to be killed unjustly. (shrink)
Still-vital lectures on teaching deal with psychology and the teaching art, the stream of consciousness, the child as a behaving organism, education and behavior, native and acquired reactions, habit, association of ideas, attention, memory, acquisition of ideas, perception, will, and more. The three addresses to students are "The Gospel of Relaxation," "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings," and "What Makes a Life Significant?" Preface. 2 black-and-white illustrations.
Systems Biology and the Modern Synthesis are recent versions of two classical biological paradigms that are known as structuralism and functionalism, or internalism and externalism. According to functionalism (or externalism), living matter is a fundamentally passive entity that owes its organization to external forces (functions that shape organs) or to an external organizing agent (natural selection). Structuralism (or internalism), is the view that living matter is an intrinsically active entity that is capable of organizing itself from within, with purely internal (...) processes that are based on mathematical principles and physical laws. At the molecular level, the basic mechanism of the Modern Synthesis is molecular copying, the process that leads in the short run to heredity and in the long run to natural selection. The basic mechanism of Systems Biology, instead, is self-assembly, the process by which many supramolecular structures are formed by the spontaneous aggregation of their components. In addition to molecular copying and self-assembly, however, molecular biology has uncovered also a third great mechanism at the heart of life. The existence of the genetic code and of many other organic codes in Nature tells us that molecular coding is a biological reality and we need therefore a framework that accounts for it. This framework is Code biology, the study of the codes of life, a new field of research that brings to light an entirely new dimension of the living world and gives us a completely new understanding of the origin and the evolution of life. (shrink)
" In this study, Garrido establishes the basic elements of the question concerning life through readings of Aristotle, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida; through the discussion of scientific breakthroughs in thermodynamics and evolutionary ...
The pursuit of happiness is a long-enshrined tradition that has recently become the cornerstone of the American Positive Psychology movement. However, “happiness” is an over-worked and ambiguous word, which, it is argued, should be restricted and only used as the label for a brief emotional state that typically lasts a few seconds or minutes. The corollary proposal for positive psychology is that optimism is a preferable stance over pessimism or realism. Examples are presented both from psychology and economics that illustrate (...) the dangers of optimism, and in which better outcomes can occur with a pessimistic stance. A more sophisticated approach is then presented in which, in relation to well-being and quality of life, neither optimism nor pessimism is seen as inherently better than the other, but, rather, in which psychological flexibility may contribute optimally to health and well-being. (shrink)
Normal 0 21 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 One of the most important questions of moral philosophy is what makes a life a good life. A good way of approaching this issue is to watch the film Groundhog Day which can teach us a lot about what a good life consists in - and what not. While currently there are subjective and objective theories contending against each other about what a good life is, namely hedonism and desire (...) satisfaction theories on the one hand and objective list theories on the other, the film illustrates that at least one constituent of the good life can only be understood if we see it as having both an objective and a subjective side to it. Thus, the film shows that, in contrast to the beginning of the film, at the end the protagonist Phil has a good life insofar as that he finds something to do that suits him (the objective element), and comes to care deeply about it (the subjective element). (shrink)
My personal odyssey -- Tripping the night fantastic. Who-and what-am I? -- The journey home. Take me to the river-- -- The being human -- White crows : mystics, savants, and other harbingers of human potential. Mystic mind (or how to crack open the cranium) -- Wake up! Greek philosophy breaks the trance -- The ultimate cage match : philosophy, science, and religion (or togas, Bibles, and microscopes : why can't we all just get along?) -- Homo anxious : I (...) think, therefore I worry. Mindfulness walk : "being" without thinking -- Why philosophy matters-and how it just might save your life! Am I a neuron in the mind of God? -- Reality bites -- The physical world : the tip of the reality iceberg. More to reality than meets the eye -- Real deal reality : beyond sense and beyond reason. Beyond logic : riddles and paradoxes. Pyramids, togas, and cosmic consciousness -- Pythagoras squared : who was this mystic mathemagician? Infinity : the ultimate mind trip -- Good vibrations : Pythagoras and the big beat. The cosmic symphony : music from the universal orchestra -- Escaping Plato's cave -- Plato's retreat-from the material world. the universe as one big thought -- On the nature of change : the more things change--. Change : the great illusion -- Death : the new birth. Incubation (or how death can transform your life) -- Yes, but what does it all mean? -- New science and old wisdom -- Musings from my dissertation -- Some final thoughts. (shrink)
Livings things are so very strange -- The quest for a theory of life -- Understanding 'understanding' -- Stability and instability -- The knotty origin of life problem -- Biology's crisis of identity -- Biology is chemistry -- What is life?
The nature of life consists in a constructive becoming (see Analecta Husserliana vol. 70). Though caught up in its relatively stable, stationary intervals manifesting the steps of its accomplishments that our attention is fixed. In this selection of studies we proceed, in contrast, to envisage life in the Aristotelian perspective in which energia, forces, and dynamisms of life at work are at the fore. Startling questions emerge: `what distinction could be drawn between the prompting forces of (...) class='Hi'>life and its formation? Or, is this distinction a result of our transcendental faculties?' The answers to these questions reveal themselves, as Tymieniecka proposes, at the phenomenologically ontopoietic level of life's origination where transcendentality surges. (shrink)
The strong version of the life-mind continuity thesis claims that mind can be understood as an enriched version of the same functional and organizational properties of life. Contrary to this view, in this paper I argue that mental phenomena offer distinctive properties, such as intentionality or representational content, that have no counterpart in the phenomenon of life, and that must be explained by appealing to a different level of functional and organizational principles. As a strategy, and following (...) Maturana’s autopoietic theory of cognition, I introduce a conceptual distinction between mind and cognition. I argue that cognition corresponds to the natural behaviour that every living being exhibits in the realization of its existence, and that, viewed in that way, cognition is a dynamic process of structural coupling that, unlike mental phenomena, involves no representational contents. On the basis of this distinction, I try to show that while life suffices for cognition, it does not suffice for mind. That is, that the strong continuity is not between life and mind but between life and cognition. (shrink)
This paper presents the concept of the idealization of the interchangeability of phases of life as an enhancement, or rather as a further development of Alfred Schutz’s general thesis of the reciprocity of perspectives. It claims that the according figure of thought is a constitutive part of acts of understanding in everyday life where, in order to understand each other, individuals of different age-groups have to overcome the difference of perspectives that are attached to their particular ages. This (...) is accomplished by a specific assumption that is also applied in the case of intrasubjective, autobiographical understanding. By discussing its sociological significance as well as its philosophical background, this paper introduces the idealization of the interchangeability of phases of life as a fundamental and universal figure of understanding. (shrink)