LOOKING through Bertrand Russell's minor writings in McMaster University's Russell Archives I came across this sentence: 'Fanaticism is primarily an intellectual defect...one to which philosophy supplies an intellectual antidote'. This fascinated me the more, as I had just written an ...
All the standard and some esoteric objections to pacifism are refuted, either directly or (as with the charge of impracticality) in outline. Familiar arguments to the inconsistency and irresponsibility of pacifism are shown to turn upon illegitimately construing pacifist activities such as resisting, preventing, and defending as involving violence. Several arguments against pacifism from violence as a lesser evil turn out to be fallacious; some involve the erroneous assumption that violence is the only evil, but some lead into what pacifism (...) can simply concede, moral dilemmas. It is argued that pacifism is not a form of fanaticism, is not morally insensitive, does not imply anarchism, or vegetarianism, is not completely impractical, and can be positively underpinned. In the course of the arguments various types of pacifism are classified, pacifism is distinguished from nonviolent action, and pacifism and, differently, pacificity are disassociated from passivity: The question of a more general characterization of violence (which is different from force) emerges as a crucial issue, along with the problem of integrating pacifism into a more comprehensive moral position. (shrink)
One apparently devastating criticism of a whole range of act utilitarian (au) principles is marcus singer's claim that such principles are open to the charge of moral fanaticism, I.E., They commit one to the view that "no action is indifferent or trivial, Every occasion is momentous." this moral fanaticism argument (mfa) is examined in detail. I argue that the mfa is not all that devastating; indeed the act utilitarian can altogether escape the charge of being a fanatic.
This article analyses how recent critiques of secularism in political philosophy and cultural anthropology might productively be combined and contrasted with each other. I will show that Jürgen Habermas' postsecularism takes insufficient account of elementary criticisms of secularism on the part of anthropologists such as Talal Asad and Saba Mahmood. However, I shall also criticize Saba Mahmood’s reading of secularism by arguing that, in the end, she replaces the secular–religious divide with a secularity–piety divide; for example, in her reading of (...) Nasr Abu Zayd’s secular Islamic hermeneutics. This inhibits the use of her framework of analysis for a criticism of a problem central to Habermas' postsecularism, namely that it remains focused on specific intensities of belief. I shall then argue that, combined with the anthropological critiques of the secular, the political-historical nature of the fanaticism–piety–violence nexus should be integrated into political philosophical debates on secularism and postsecularism. (shrink)
I defend Kant’s moral psychology against John R. Silber’s argument that Kant cannot account for the radical evil of Hitler. Silber’s argument cannot be maintained, I argue, if Kant’s account of theological and moral fanaticism, and the personality of the moral fanatic, are taken into account. I contend that Kant’s writings support an analogy between the fanatical pursuit of religious and moral ideals and Hitler’s fanatical pursuit of an ideal of racial purity. I conclude that Kant’s account of moral (...)fanaticism is adequate to account for the actions and moral psychology of Hitler. (shrink)
In this paper, I critically discuss a number of arguments made by John Kekes, in a recent article, against the claim that those of us who are relatively affluent ought to do something for those living in absolute poverty in developing countries. There are, I argue, a variety of problems with Kekes' arguments, but one common thread stems from Kekes' failure to take account of the empirical research that has been conducted on the issues which he discusses.
This study attempts to explore the possible motivations, both obvious and problematic, behind the ritual suicide (seppuku) committed by the Japanese writer in the name of the Emperor at the Eastern Headquarters of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces in 1970. History does not seem to be a coherent or intelligible process, as man’s struggle for nourishment is most often replaced by thymos, the desire for others to recognize his value or the value system of the ideals or noble purposes he is ready (...) to sacrifice for, ignoring the basic instinct of self-conservation. Yukio Mishima was extremely pessimistic about pragmatic and materialistic contemporary Japan. History brought along increasing consumerism, thus disturbing the harmony of traditional Japanese spirituality. The technological ability to improve human existence seemed to alter inevitably the moral evolution of contemporary Japanese. Against this background of ruling “costs” and “benefits”, the Japanese writer seems to believe that it is only the thymotic man, the “man of anger”, who can fight for the recognition and salvation of the Japanese soul (yamato damashii). Believed for centuries to be the true art of dying, Yukio Mishima’s seppuku turned from a “beautiful” gesture into one of protest and accusation: the Japanese society had begun the transition from a closed society to an open one, governed by anxiety, in which individuals faced personal decisions. (shrink)
Richard Hare described the "ethical fanatic" as an agent who appeared to be able to rationally universalize morally horrendous values by "fanatically" accepting the consequences of those values even if their universalization harmed the original agent. This challenges the project of basing ethics on universalization tests, as advocated by Hare, Immanuel Kant, and others. Hare later argued that fanatics are irrational by appealing to a "principle of prudence," but this violates his meta-principle of not basing fundamental ethical principles upon intuitions (...) which are not themselves shown to be required by reason. This failure is corrected by using the concept of "pragmatic implication" to show that any agent's reliance upon any ethical principle commits her to a higher-ordered principle which justifies commitment to the original principle. This threatens an infinite regress, which can only be closed by a unique meta-principle. It is shown that all possible alternatives to this principle fail to actually end the regress, and all strategies of ignoring the regress also entail practical inconsistency. Hence, ethical universalization tests are not empty; they support unique ethical principles whose content does not depend upon the particular values of actual agents. (shrink)
Questioning the usual judgements of political ethics, Ruth W. Grant argues that hypocrisy can actually be constructive while strictly principled behavior can be destructive. Hypocrisy and Integrity offers a new conceptual framework that clarifies the differences between idealism and fanaticism while it uncovers the moral limits of compromise. "Exciting and provocative. . . . Grant's work is to be highly recommended, offering a fresh reading of Rousseau and Machiavelli as well as presenting a penetrating analysis of hypocrisy and integrity."--Ronald (...) J. Terchek, American Political Science Review "A great refreshment. . . . With liberalism's best interests at heart, Grant seeks to make available a better understanding of the limits of reason in politics."--Peter Berkowitz, New Republic. (shrink)
Aggregative consequentialism and several other popular moral theories are threatened with paralysis: when coupled with some plausible assumptions, they seem to imply that it is always ethically indifferent what you do. Modern cosmology teaches that the world might well contain an infinite number of happy and sad people and other candidate value-bearing locations. Aggregative ethics implies that such a world contains an infinite amount of positive value and an infinite amount of negative value. You can affect only a finite amount (...) of good or bad. In standard cardinal arithmetic, an infinite quantity is unchanged by the addition or subtraction of any finite quantity. So it appears you cannot change the value of the world. Modifications of aggregationism aimed at resolving the paralysis are only partially effective and cause severe side effects, including problems of “fanaticism”, “distortion”, and erosion of the intuitions that originally motivated the theory. Is the infinitarian challenge fatal? (shrink)
Aggregative consequentialism and several other popular moral theories are threatened with paralysis: when coupled with some plausible assumptions, they seem to imply that it is always ethically indifferent what you do. Modern cosmology teaches that the world might well contain an infinite number of happy and sad people and other candidate value‐bearing locations. Aggregative ethics implies that such a world contains an infinite amount of positive value and an infinite amount of negative value. You can affect only a finite amount (...) of good or bad. In standard cardinal arithmetic, an infinite quantity is unchanged by the addition or subtraction of any finite quantity. So it appears you cannot change the value of the world. Modifications of aggregationism aimed at resolving the paralysis are only partially effective and cause severe side effects, including problems of “fanaticism”, “distortion”, and erosion of the intuitions that originally motivated the theory. Is the infinitarian challenge fatal? (shrink)
Our contemporary nihilism -- Homer's polytheism -- From Aeschylus to Augustine : monotheism on the rise -- From Dante to Kant : the attractions and dangers of autonomy -- Fanaticism, polytheism, and Melville's "evil art" -- David Foster Wallace's nihilism -- Conclusion : lives worth living in a secular age.
In the Anthropology, Kant wonders whether the genius or the individual possessing perfected judgment has contributed more to the advance of culture. In the KU, Kant answers this question definitively on the side of those with perfected judgment. Nevertheless, occurring as it does in §50 of the KU, immediately after Kant’s celebration of the genius in §49, this only raises more questions. Kant rejects the genius in favour of the individual of taste as an advancer of culture, yet under what (...) conditions could the genius contribute? And, what threat does the genius really pose to this advance, other than that of penning simple nonsense? This essay attempts to answer these questions, using key texts and overlooked Reflexionen, all of which nest Kant’s concern for the genius in the associated risks of fanaticism. I conclude that, given certain conditions, the genius can contribute in a unique manner to the advance of culture. (shrink)
The “Morbid Fear of the Subjective” (copyright by Roy Wood Sellars) represents a key-element of the American naturalist debate of the Mid-twentieth century. On the one hand, we are witnessing to the unconditional trust in the objectivity of scientific discourse, while on the other (and as a consequence) there is the attempt to exorcise the myth of the “subjective” and of its metaphysical privateness. This theoretical roadmap quickly assumed the shape of an even sociological contrast between the “democraticity” of natural (...) sciences and the fanaticism implicit in supernatural metaphysical systems. In between these two extremes stood phenomenology, in its early days on American soil. Its notion of “evidence”, which is less easily to naturalize than it might seem, was in fact hardly consistent with the widespread concept of “natural experience” of the world. (shrink)
We often praise people who stand by their convictions in the face of adversity and practice what they preach. However, strong moral convictions can also motivate atrocious acts. Two significant questions here are (1) whether conviction itself — taken as a mode of belief — has any distinctive value, or whether all the value of conviction derives from its substantive content, and (2) how conviction can be made responsible in a way that mitigates the risks of falling into dogmatism, (...) class='Hi'>fanaticism, and other vices. In response to the first question, I suggest that conviction has instrumental value that derives from its relationship to integrity and courage. On the second question, I articulate the roles that reflection, discourse (engagement with others), and humility must play in the dialectical process of maintaining responsible convictions. (shrink)
This interesting and important contribution to scholarship on Kant’s account of sublime feeling develops an argument that the author first makes in an article, “Kant’s Consistency Regarding the Regime Change in France” (Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 : 443–60). The heart of the argument, presented in chapters 2 through 5, concludes that aesthetic enthusiasm (Enthusiasm, which Clewis distinguishes from Schwärmerei, or fanaticism) is a kind of sublime feeling, which can indirectly support morality and thus elicit an interest of reason (...) (as Kant claims the beautiful does). In chapter 6, Clewis uses the foregoing analysis to resolve an apparent inconsistency between Kant’s remarks on the enthusiasm of .. (shrink)
The aim of this highly original book is twofold: to explain the reconciliation of religion and politics in the work of John Locke, and to explore the relevance of that reconciliation for politics in our own time. Confronted with deep social divisions over ultimate beliefs Locke sought to unite society in a single liberal community. Reason could identify divine moral laws that would be acceptable to members of all cultural groups, thereby justifying the authority of government. Greg Forster demonstrates that (...) Locke's theory is liberal and rational but also moral and religious, providing an alternative to the two extremes of religious fanaticism and moral relativism. This fresh new account of Locke's thought will appeal to specialists and advanced students across philosophy, political science, and religious studies. (shrink)
The use of Kant’s universalizability principle as a method of determining the warrantability of an ethical claim has two fundamental flaws. On the one hand, it renders the universalizing moralizer mute in the face of fanaticism, and, on the other, it too easily dissolves into irrational rule worship. In the face of such flaws,many have argued that this “rational” approach to ethics ought to be abandoned in favor of fanning the flames of sentiment. Such a proposal suggests that we (...) have trapped ourselves into a false dilemma. While there is no doubt that the employment of the universalizability principle is more “reflective” than simply following what springs from the heart, nonetheless, it is no where near the pinnacle of rationality to which we can aspire. Ethicists, like their natural and social scientific colleagues, can adopt a form of scientific ethicism that demands that the legitimacy of any ethical claim depends upon the degree to which the reasons that back it are subjected to the formal demands of both local and global sufficiency, and as well, that the legitimacy of the entire procedure survive scrutiny in a public forum of objective inquirers. Paradoxically, since this process is inter- rather than intra-subjective, and since the surviving claims will be maximally unbiased, the widespread adoption of scientific ethicism has the potential to proportionally expand “the circle of we”—which is precisely what critics of rationality, who advocate non-rational sentiment expansion, would have us do. (shrink)
Abstract Moral courage involves acting in the service of one?s convictions, in spite of the risk of retaliation or punishment. I suggest that moral courage also involves a capacity to face others as moral agents, and thus in a manner that does not objectify them. A moral stand can only be taken toward another moral agent. Often, we find ourselves unable to face others in this way, because to do so is frightening, or because we are consumed by blinding anger. (...) But without facing others as moral subjects, we risk moral cowardice on the one hand and moral fanaticism on the other. (shrink)
Religion has been responsible for both horrific acts against humanity and some of humanity's most sublime teachings and experiences. How is this possible? From a contemporary psychoanalytic perspective, this book seeks to answer that question in terms of psychology dynamic of realism. At the heart of living religion is the idealization of everyday objects. Such idealizations provide much of the transforming power of religious experience, which is one of the positive contributions of religion to psychological life. However, idealization can also (...) lead to religious fanaticism, which can be very destructive. Drawing on the work of various contemporary relational theorists within psychoanalysis, this book develops a psychoanalytically informed theory of the transforming terror-producing effects of religious experience. It discusses the question of whether or not, if idealism is the cause of many of the destructive acts done in the name of religion, there can be vital religion without idealism. Thisis the first book to address the nature of religion and its capacity to sponsor both terrorism and transformation in terms of contemporary relational psychoanalytic theory. It will be invaluable to students and practitioners of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, psychology and religious studies. (shrink)
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), the great Renaissance skeptic and pioneer of the essay form, is known for his innovative method of philosophical inquiry which mixes the anecdotal and the personal with serious critiques of human knowledge, politics and the law. He is the first European writer to be intensely interested in the representations of his own intimate life, including not just his reflections and emotions but also the state of his body. His rejection of fanaticism and cruelty and his (...) admiration for the civilizations of the New World mark him out as a predecessor of modern notions of tolerance and acceptance of otherness. In this volume an international team of contributors explores the range of his philosophy and also examines the social and intellectual contexts in which his thought was expressed. (shrink)
This essay analyzes the recent appearance in Russian letters of ultra-nationalist fantasies about the restoration of Russia’s imperial or totalitarian status. This new trend has its roots not only in the increasingly patriotic tone of Russian society and politics, but also in the dynamics of the literary field itself. ‘Imperialist writers’ such as Aleksandr Prokhanov and Pavel Krusanov have both revived and reacted against postmodern themes and motifs from earlier decades. Relying on the legacy of sots-art and stiob , the (...) ‘imperialists’ advance a new model in Russia’s postmodern tradition, one that is balanced on the very borderline between irony and ideological militancy. In playing the game of ambiguous fanaticism, these writers have been able to attract the attention of a broad and diverse public, and have moved from an intellectual periphery into the cultural mainstream. (shrink)
In the early 1950s Grant McConnell, Jr., called for a political adjudication of our environmental and political visions. He pointed out the arbitrary nature of Gifford Pinchot's noble-sounding formula (“The greatest good for the greatest number over the longest time”), noting that such a determination depended on whom you asked. No technocrat can determine the greatest good on the basis of some secret expertise or privileged knowledge. We need to resolve our disparate visions of the uses of nature and human (...) beings politically, without recourse to privileged knowledge.But does such a political adjudication imply the unimpeded domination of the will of the majority? Not necessarily, because there is no overall majority for a total “bundle” of policies and programs — these must be horse-traded and haggled over on the basis of shifting coalitions. Yet, can it not be argued that even so, some very deeply held values of minorities will be trounced and trampled? It would be dishonest not to admit to such a danger. What we must do is try to define and develop a workable conception of baseline human rights that will be inviolable by the will of temporary majorities, and this itself is a tenuous political process which we have only just embarked on in recent times.The danger of Valentin Rasputins, Vernadskii cultists, and Deep Ecologists everywhere is that they are arguing from privileged knowledge. “We know what is really best for you, what will cure you,” they assert. They alone know the distinction between natural harmony and disorder, social health and corruption, pollution and purity, alienation and unity. They do not recognize the social construction of their ethical beliefs and political visions; they absolutize their individual truths. They may be right, but what if they are not...?It is therefore all the more important for those of us who wish to preserve a maximum of biotic and human diversity for our-selves and for future humans (and nonhumans) to be explicit about the moral and political agendas we embrace. The soundest way for us to prevail is to persuade our neighbors on this planet that our visions have something of value for them, too. We must keep in mind the fact that in a world where there exists more than one fanaticism, peaceful coexistence is in principle impossible.And if fanaticisms, including ecological ones, are the products of the fear or the fact of material, cultural, or spiritual dispossession, then we must work harder to make a world in which each of us and our interests are treated with equal respect. We cannot get there through the tainted means of absolutizing individual truths.Aldo Leopold, in his testament Sand County Almanac, as much as called for a new myth, for us to “think like a mountain.”57 He called for a new myth because he believed that humans were dangerous (to ourselves, first of all, and to the planet), and that inculcating a myth was the only way to effect a deep behavioral change on a massive enough scale to save the situation.58 It is my belief that myths are often more dangerous than the situations they seek to remedy. We need to cultivate a taste of de-mythologizing, of making our lives more self-aware. We need to become aware of our needs and our value preferences and to take responsibility for them as individual preferences. Then we will be in a good position indeed to respect and compromise with the preferences of our neighbors all around this planet, just as we would have them respect and compromise with ours. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A8402064 00005 *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A8402064 00006 *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A8402064 00007. (shrink)
Loyalty within the firm, though praised by some, is criticized by others. An analysis of the historical and current significance of theconcept of loyalty can aid in both understanding its critics and responding to them. Loyalty in the business world is generallyunderstood in three ways: i) transactional retention, ii) sentimental attraction, and iii) willingness to commit oneself. In the third type,the commitment to adhere to a person, cause, or institution may contribute to human flourishing and therefore generate the humanvirtue of (...) loyalty. The human virtue of loyalty is as far from fanaticism as it is from the betrayal of legitimate commitments freely undertaken. As with all virtues, its content must be rationally determined. Loyalty thus understood enhances the humanity of both persons and business firms and contributes to heightened cohesion and cooperation within the firm. Moreover, according to some recent research, managing a business on the basis of loyalty can enhance economic results. (shrink)
In this paper I establish a normative limit of spectator interaction. I argue that attempts by non-participants (e.g. spectators) to affect the outcome of a contest, whether intended or merely foreseeable, are unsporting and ought to be discouraged because they undermine fairness, which is a fundamental premise of ideal competition. Because this is at odds with the participatory ethos of contemporary sports fanaticism (e.g. ?12th man? campaigns, visual distractions by spectators, etcetera) I anticipate several potential objections. I refute concerns (...) that my thesis is empirically dubious; that it is impractical; that it is subordinate to financial considerations; that it is nullified by participant acquiescence; and that it is subordinate to spectator interests. (shrink)