"My work has had nothing to do with gay liberation," Michel Foucault reportedly told an admirer in 1975. And indeed there is scarcely more than a passing mention of homosexuality in Foucault's scholarly writings. So why has Foucault, who died of AIDS in 1984, become a powerful source of both personal and political inspiration to an entire generation of gay activists? And why have his political philosophy and his personal life recently come under such withering, normalizing scrutiny by (...) commentators as diverse as Camille Paglia, Richard Mohr, Bruce Bawer, Roger Kimball, and biographer James Miller? David M. Halperin's Saint Foucault is an uncompromising and impassioned defense of the late French philosopher and historian as a galvanizing thinker whose career as a theorist and activist will continue to serve as a model for other gay intellectuals, activists, and scholars. A close reading of both Foucault and the increasing attacks on his life and work, it explains why straight liberals so often find in Foucault only counsels of despair on the subject of politics, whereas gay activists look to him not only for intellectual inspiration but also for a compelling example of political resistance. Halperin rescues Foucault from the endless nature-versus-nurture debate over the origins of homosexuality ("On this question I have absolutely nothing to say," Foucault himself once remarked) and argues that Foucault's decision to treat sexuality not as a biological or psychological drive but as an effect of discourse, as the product of modern systems of knowledge and power, represents a crucial political breakthrough for lesbians and gay men. Halperin explains how Foucault's radical vision of homosexuality as a strategic opportunity for self-transformation anticipated the new anti-assimilationist, anti-essentialist brand of sexual identity politics practiced by contemporary direct-action groups such as ACT UP. Halperin also offers the first synthetic account of Foucault's thinking about gay sex and the future of the lesbian and gay movement, as well as an up-to-the-minute summary of the most recent work in queer theory. "Where there is power, there is resistance," Michel Foucault wrote in The History of Sexuality, Volume I. Erudite, biting, and surprisingly moving, Saint Foucault represents Halperin's own resistance to what he views as the blatant and systematic misrepresentation of a crucial intellectual figure, a misrepresentation he sees as dramatic evidence of the continuing personal, professional, and scholarly vulnerability of all gay activists and intellectuals in the age of AIDS. (shrink)
Jamake Highwater is a master storyteller and one of our most visionary writers, hailed as "an eloquent bard, whose words are fire and glory" (Studs Terkel) and "a writer of exceptional vision and power" (Ana"is Nin). Author of more than thirty volumes of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, Highwater--considered by many to be the intellectual heir of Joseph Campbell--has long been intrigued by how our mythological legacies have served as a foundation of modern civilization. Now, in The Mythology of Transgression, he (...) uses his remarkable narrative powers to offer a personal and extraordinarily far-ranging examination of how people who stand outside of society--by dint of their sexual orientation, physical appearance, ideas, artistic inclinations, or ethnic heritage--often achieve lasting, even profound influence upon the culture at large. Drawing from a stunningly rich variety of sources ranging from the arts and literature to biology, physics, psychology, and anthropology, Highwater looks at his own outsider status--as a gay man, an artist, and an orphaned Native American--in an attempt to explore how mythologies from ancient times to the present have shaped the ways we think about social "abnormality" and alienation. Throughout, he points to a paradox at the center of Western values--the competing notions that the outsider is at once sinful and wise, that in everyday life the transgressor is ostracized, while in our most durable folklore and religious legends, heroes must break the rules to achieve greatness. Focusing in particular on homosexuality as a modern metaphor of transgression, Highwater brilliantly mixes personal anecdotes with wide ranging research, leading us on a tour through the history of social conformity and rejection, citing examples that span from Judeo-Christian-Islamic doctrines of good and evil, to the Navajo Nation's ambivalence toward the nature of sexuality, to Carson McCullers's treatment of physical deformity in the novella Member of the Wedding, to Descartes's theories of dualism. He also pays special attention to the debates currently raging in science regarding the biology of homosexuality and provides an engaging discussion of why we are motivated to seek a genetic basis of sexual orientation in the first place. Jamake Highwater has long been celebrated as a writer uniquely suited to give voice to the social outsider. Often provocative, always fascinating, The Mythology of Transgression is a tour de force of eloquent scholarship, a book that will prompt discussion and debate on the subject for years to come. (shrink)
Although modern societies have come to recognize diversity in human sexuality as simply part of nature, many Christian communities and thinkers still have considerable difficulties with related developments in politics, legislation, and science. In fact, homosexuality is a recurrent topic in the transdisciplinary encounter between Christianity and the sciences, an encounter that is otherwise rather “asexual.” I propose that the recent emergence of “Christianity and Science” as an academic field in its own right is an important part of the (...) larger context of the difficulties related to attempts to reconcile Christianity and a recognition of diversity in human sexuality as a norm. Through a critical discussion of arguments which are upheld most disturbingly on a global scale by the Roman Catholic Church and supported with much sophistry by important stakeholders of an influential stream in analytic philosophy of religion, this paper aims to contextualize and defend the legitimacy of the question why God would create homosexuals as such if it is true that every homosexual act is prohibited by God. While recently advanced nonheterosexist scientific models of sexuality in nature inform the discussion, I reject the simplistic view that religions suppress and the sciences liberate in matters sexual. (shrink)
Science and Homosexualities is the first anthology by historians of science to examine European and American scientific research on sexual orientation since the coining of the word "homosexual" almost 150 years ago. This collection is particularly timely given the enormous scientific and popular interest in biological studies of homosexuality, and the importance given such studies in current legal, legislative and cultural debates concerning gay civil rights. However, scientific and popular literature discussing the biology of sexual orientation have been short-sighted (...) in representing it as objective, new scientific work. This volume demonstrates that the quest for the biological "cause" of homosexuality and other sexualities is as old as the term itself. These essays explore the active role experimental subjects played in shaping scientific theories of homosexuality and cultural perceptions of sexuality and sexual identity. Finally this anthology studies the way in which this doctor-patient interaction shaped not only scientific theories of homosexuality, but also cultural perceptions and self-identities as well. Contributors include: Garland E. Allen, Erin G. Carlston, Julian Carter, Alice D. Dreger, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Margaret Gibson, Stephanie Kenen, Hubert Kennedy, Harry Oosterhuis, James Steakley, Richard Pillard, Jennifer Terry. (shrink)
This volume is an indispensable reference for a wide range of scholars working across multidisciplinary fields of inquiry that focus on British and continental histories of medicine and sexuality, gender history and studies of nineteenth ...
"Annamarie Jagose knows that queer theory did not spring full-blown from the head of any contemporary theorist. It is the outcome of many different influences and sources, including the homophile movement, gay liberation, and lesbian feminism. In pointing to the history of queer theory-a history that all too often is ignored or elided-Jagose performs a valuable service." -Henry Abelove, co-editor of The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader The political and academic appropriation of the term queer over the last several years (...) has marked a shift in the study of sexuality from a focus on supposedly essential categories as gay and lesbian to more fluid or queer notions of sexual identity. Yet queer is a category still in the process of formation. In Queer Theory , Annamarie Jagose provides a clear and concise explanation of queer theory, tracing it as part of an intriguing history of same-sex love over the last century. Blending insights from prominent theorists such as Judith Butler and David Halperin, Jagose argues that queer theory's challenge is to create new ways of thinking, not only about fixed sexual identities such as heterosexual and homosexual, but also about other supposedly essential notions such as sexuality and gender and even man and woman. (shrink)
The emergence of queer theory represents a huge leap in our understanding of lesbian and gay peoples. It embodies a context for treating these people as worthy of consideration in their own rights and not as an appendage to general cultural theory. Max Kirsch argues that the current development of this area is in danger of repeating past mistakes in the construction of analyses, and ultimately, social movements. In this way, the book presents an alternative to the current fascination with (...) the abstract categories of identity, culture and difference, and emphasizes the need for a discussion of the importance of communities and role of globalization on queer movements. (shrink)
In the last decade, fierce controversy has arisen over the nature of sexual orientation. Scientific research, religious views, increasingly ambiguous gender roles, and the growing visibility of sexual minorities have sparked impassioned arguments about whether our sexual desires are hard-wired in our genes or shaped by the changing forces of society. In recent years scientific research and popular opinion have favored the idea that sexual orientations are determined at birth, but philosopher and educator Edward Stein argues that much of what (...) we think we know about the origins of sexual desire is probably wrong. Stein provides a comprehensive overview of such research on sexual orientation and shows that it is deeply flawed. Stein argues that this research assumes a picture of sexual desire that reflects unquestioned cultural stereotypes rather than cross-cultural scientific facts, and that it suffers from serious methodological problems. He considers whether sexual orientation is even amenable to empirical study and asks if it is useful for our understanding of human nature to categorize people based on their sexual desires. Perhaps most importantly, Stein examines some of the ethical issues surrounding such research, including gay and lesbian civil rights and the implications of parents trying to select or change the sexual orientation of their children. The Mismeasure of Desire offers a reasoned, accessible, and incisive examination of contemporary thinking about one of the most hotly debated issues of our time and adds a compelling voice of dissent to prevailing--and largely unexamined--assumptions about human sexuality. (shrink)
The attraction of a wink, a nod, a discarded snapshot-such feelings permeate our lives, yet we usually dismiss them as insubstantial or meaningless. With The Logic of the Lure , John Paul Ricco argues that it is precisely such fleeting, erotic, and even perverse experiences that will help us create a truly queer notion of ethics and aesthetics, one that recasts sociality and sexuality, place and finitude in ways suggested by the anonymity and itinerant lures of cruising. Shifting our attention (...) from artworks to the work that art does, from subjectivity to becoming, and from static space to taking place, Ricco considers a variety of issues, including the work of Doug Ischar, Tom Burr, and Derek Jarman and the minor architecture of sex clubs, public restrooms, and alleyways. (shrink)
What can psychoanalysis offer contemporary arguments in the fields of Feminism, Queer Theory and Post-Colonialism? Jan Campbell introduces and analyses the way that psychoanalysis has developed and made problematic models of subjectivity linked to issues of sexuality, ethnicity, gender, and history. Via discussions of such influential and diverse figures as Lacan, Irigaray, Kristeva, Dollimore, Bhabha, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker, Campbell uses psychoanalysis as a mediatory tool in a range of debates across the human sciences, while also arguing for a (...) transformation of psychoanalytic theory itself. (shrink)
What is queer theory? What does it do? Is queer theory only for queers? This vibrant anthology of ground breaking work by influential scholars, activists, performers, and visual artists is essential reading for anyone with an interest in sexuality studies. The fifteen articles--including one from Judith Butler, as well as an engaging introduction--map, contextualize, and challenge queer theory's project both within and beyond the academy. Summaries and suggestions for further reading make the volume an ideal course textbook.
The last five years have witnessed the birth of a vibrant new group of young scholars who are writing about queer law, politics, and policy--topics which are no longer treated as of interest only to lesbians and gay men, but which now garner the attention of political theorists of all stripes. Playing With Fire --the first scholarly collection on queer politics by US political theorists--opens the intersection of lesbian and gay studies and political theory to a wide audience. It covers (...) a wide range of issues, including: the theory of queer identities; the contrasts among ethnic, racial, and sexual identities; the debate between liberals and communitarians; the right to privacy; and the meaning of equal citizenship. Contributors: Gordon Babst, Lisa Bower, Cynthia Burack, Judith Butler, Paisley Currah, Morris Kaplan, Gary Lehring, Shane Phelan, Anne Marie Smith, Angelia Wilson, and Stacey Young. (shrink)
The emergence of queer ideas has unsettled other forms of exploring gender and sexuality, in particular feminism. In response, feminists have been significant critics of queer ideas. This book, through the contribution of important US and UK writers, seeks to explore the debates between feminist and queer theorizing in order to seek out interconnections between the two; they identify new directions in thinking about sexuality and gender that may emerge out of and at the interface.
Nietzsche’s Revolution argues that Nietzsche is a revolutionary who aims to liberate modernity by overthrowing Christianity. Although Nietzsche’s terrified inability to follow through on this revolutionary project causes him to retreat into a retrograde essentialism of race and gender that betrays his own revolutionary promise, Nietzsche’s complicity in this failure bequeaths this revolution to us, his future readers, who can take it up in the form of poststructuralist queer theory and politics. This is a revolutionary future Nietzsche could neither have (...) foreseen nor endorsed, but is the necessary consequence of his quest to overthrow Christianity’s cult of meaning. (shrink)
"This book is a succinct, pedagogically designed introduction. As classroom text, Sullivan's work is heady with vibrant debate and slim heuristics; her intellectual clarity is stunning." - Choice A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory explores the ways in which sexuality, subjectivity and sociality have been discursively produced in various historical and cultural contexts. The book begins by putting gay and lesbian sexuality and politics in historical context and demonstrates how and why queer theory emerged in the West in the late (...) twentieth century. Sullivan goes on to provide a detailed overview of the complex ways in which queer theory has been employed, covering a diversity of key topics including: race, sadomasochism, straight sex, fetishism, community, popular culture, transgender, and performativity. Each chapter focuses on a distinct issue or topic, provides a critical analysis of the specific ways in which it has been responded to by critics (including Freud, Foucault, Derrida, Judith Butler, Jean-Luc Nancy, Adrienne Rich and Laura Mulvey), introduces key terms, and uses contemporary cinematic texts as examples. (shrink)
Abstract: This essay explores recent trends and major issues related to gay and lesbian philosophy in ethics (including issues concerning the morality of homosexuality, the natural function of sex, and outing and coming out); religion (covering past and present debates about the status of homosexuality and how biblical and qur'anic passages have been interpreted by both sides of the debate); the law (especially a discussion of the debates surrounding sodomy laws, same-sex marriage and its impact on transsexuals, (...) and whether the law should be used to enforce morality); scientific research into the origins of homosexuality (including discussion of arguments against such research); and metaphysics (especially the question of whether homosexuality is socially constructed during particular times and in particular cultures, or whether sexual orientation is an essential trait cutting across times and cultures). (shrink)
For a balanced discussion of the main social, medical, and philosophical aspects of homosexuality, here is the ideal book. Written by philosophers of science, each comprehensive chapter takes a critical look at research on the etiology of homosexuality. Read Philosophy and Homosexuality and examine the evidence for both the sociobiological and hormonal explanations of homosexuality and study the definitions of sexual orientation and how they have affected research.
Discover the truth about sex in the city (and the country). Mapping Desire explores the places and spaces of sexuality from body to community, from the "cottage" to the Barrio, from Boston to Jakarta, from home to cyberspace. Mapping Desire is the first book to explore sexualities from a geographical perspective. The nature of place and notions of space are of increasing centrality to cultural and social theory. Mapping Desires presents the rich and diverse world of contemporary sexuality, exploring how (...) the heterosexed body has been appropriated and resisted on the individual, community and city scales. Editors David Bell and Gill Valentine have brought together contributors with a wealth of approaches to ways in which the spaces of sex and the sexes of space are being mapped out across contemporary culture. Among the many sexual geographies covered are: Lesbians at home and on the streets; gay men on fantasy islands; bisexual identities; The heterosexualization of the workplace; bachelor farmers and spinsters; surveillance and sexuality; prostitution; queer politics; sexual citizenship, and the transformation of intimacy. The book is divided into four sections: cartographies/identities; sexualized spaces: global/local; sexualized spaces: local/global; sites of resistance. Each section is separately introduced. Beyond the bibliography, an annotated guide to further reading is also provided to help the reader map their own way through the literature. Mapping Desire will be a valuable and accessible travelogue of information for anyone interested in social, cultural and political geography, lesbian and gay studies, cultural studies, or simply those who want to find out more about the sexual landscape of contemporary society. Contents: Part I: Cartographies/Identities; Resolving Riddles: The Sexed Body, Julia Cream ; Locating Bisexual Identities: Discourses of Bisexuality and Contemporary Feminist Theory, Clare Hemmings; Of Moffies, Kaffiers and Perverts: Male Homosexuality and the Discourse of Moral Order in the Apartheid State, Glen Elder; Femme on the Streets, Butch in the Sheets (a Play on Whores), Alison Murray; Body Work: The Performance of Gendered and (Hetero)Sexualized Identities in City Workplaces, Linda McDowell; Part II: Sexualized Spaces: Global/Local; Whenever I Lay My Girlfriend That's My Home: The Performance and Surveillance of Lesbian Identities in Domestic Environments, Lynda Johnston and Gill Valentine; The Lesbian Flaneur, Sally Munt; Fantasy Islands: Popular Topographies of Marooned Masculinities, Gregory Woods; Sexuality and Urban Space: A Framework for Analysis, Lawrence Knopp; Part III: Sexualized Spaces: Local/Global; "And She Told Two Friends...": Lesbians Creating Urban Social Space, Tamar Rothenberg; Trading Places: Consumption, Sexuality and the Production of Queer Space, Jon Binnie; Bachelor Farmers and Spinsters: Gay and Lesbian Identities and Communities in Rural North Dakota, Jerry Lee Kramer; (Re)Constructing a Spanish Redlight District: Prostitution, Space and Power, Angie Hart; Part IV: Sites of Resistance; "Surveilliant Gays": HIV, Space and the Construction of Identities, David Woodhead; Sex, Scale and the "New Urban Politics": HIV-Prevention Strategies from Yaletown, Vancouver, Michael Brown; "Boom, Bye, Bye": Jamaican Ragga and Gay Resistance, Tracey Skelton; The Diversity of Queer Politics and the Redefinition of Sexual Identity and Community in Urban Space, Tim Davis; Perverse Dynamics, Sexual Citizenship and the Transformation of Intimacy, David Bell; Guide to Further Reading; Bibliography. (shrink)
An important and original new contribution to lesbian and gay studies, We Are Everywhere brings together the key primary sources relating to the politics of homosexuality. Presenting political, historical, legal, literary, and psychological documents which trace the evolution of the lesbian and gay movement, it includes documents as diverse as organization pamphlets, essays, polemics, speeches, newspaper and journal articles, and academic papers. We Are Everywhere includes writings from the beginnings of the gay and lesbian movement in the 19th century (...) by Karl Ulrichs, Magnus Hirschfeld, and John Addington Symonds; legal and government studies concerning rights of gay and lesbian citizens; articles from the early US liberation movement publications such as Mattachine Review , The Ladder and ONE ; documents from the first days of the AIDS epidemic to current activism; statements and writings from the movements within "the movement" (bisexuals, S/M, conservatives); and finally, a look at the future of lesbian and gay politics. Together the documents allow readers to examine a diverse set of issues: the concept of gay love before "homosexuality," the development of political movements based on homosexual identity, the history of government persecution of homosexuality, the impact of feminism on the modern lesbian and gay rights movement, and the emergence of queer theory. (shrink)
The last decade has seen the transformation of the study of sexuality from a marginalized effort to a fully respected discipline at many major universities. There are numerous publications devoted solely to the topic and queer theory, a force to be reckoned with, has its own celebrities. Nonetheless, queer studies is considered to be the brainchild of the humanities, with the social sciences slowly coming around to apply its principles to empirical research. Long, Slow Burn, a powerful collection of essays (...) by Kath Weston, argues that social science has been talking about sex all along; to deny this one would have to overlook Kinsey's pioneering sex research in the 1950s, or the psychiatrist Evelyn Hooker's pathbreaking study of homosexuality, but also in the "sex talk" that lies at the heart of classic debates on kinship, inequality, cognition, and other foundational topics in the social sciences. What is different now, Weston claims, is the way sexuality has been isolated from other contemporary issues. Long, Slow Burn lays out a radically different approach to the study of sexuality. Not content with its ghettoization as a contained subfield, Weston refuses to draw an artificial line around sexuality. Her essays do not attempt to make sexuality a discrete object of study. Rather, each essay "sexes up" a conventional subject, such as kinship, race or labor, proving that once you start paying attention to sexuality, you can never look at social issues in the same way again. Long, Slow Burn offers an intervention, an attempt to see sexuality as it permeates the multiple fibers of our social fabric. It demonstrates that sexuality has always been a part of the social sciences, but more importantly, is the key to their future. (shrink)
Within the Judeo-Christian tradition, Sodom and Gomorrah represent locales in which threats to national formation are couched in sexual terms. The biblical narrative insists on a particular social invisibility for those sexual activities not blessed by the bonds of matrimony. Reclaiming Sodom surveys a number of institutions that have had an interest in perpetuating these views: the police, the state, the church and the law. The collection ranges through biblical scholarship, an investigation of the Founding Fathers' beliefs, the legal mobilization (...) towards the category of sodomy in 18th and 19th century England, and the US Supreme Court's 1986 Bowers vs. Hardwick decision. Analysis is provided of the ways in which the Judeo-Christian tradition has shaped anthropological accounts of the same-sex practices of non-Western people, as well as essays on how colonial gestures have marked lesbian identity in the Carribean, and derformed narratives about the racial geography of AIDS. Reclaiming Sodom explores alternatives to the force of the Sodomitic biblical narrative in Islamic, non-western, and western traditions, and discusses the ways in which sodomy calls into question normative definitions of sexuality and gender. The collection pursues the "pleasures and dangers" of these alternatives, and takes on Proust's refusal to imagine a social movement founded on the "stigma" of Sodom. The collection examines the relations between sex/gender identities and sexual acts in important and provocative ways, and argues for the political use and usefulness of both Sodom and sodomy. Reclaiming Sodom makes an important and controversial contribution to the literature on sexuality and gender, as well as the nature of sex in our culture. Contributors: Dorothy Allison, Robert Alter, Neil Bartlett, Leo Bersani, Gerald Creed, Marc Daniel, Lee Edelman, Janet E. Halley, Jonathan Ned Katz, Pierre Klossowski, Rocky O'Donovan, Guy Hocquenghem, Cindy Patton, Marquis de Sade, David Shannon, Makeda Silver, Jonathan Goldberg. (shrink)
Collectively, Atkins examines their pursuit of sexual justice, the ideologies of manhood they challenged, the different types of gay spaces they created (geographic, architectural, online), and political obstacles they have encountered.
Fags, Hags and Queer Sisters is a provocative account of the importance of women and cross-gender identification in "gay" male culture. It offers a range of cultural readings from Tennessee William's classic A Streetcar Named Desire and Forster's 'gay' novel Maurice through Pulp Fiction , queer lifestyle magazines, Roseanne , slash fan fiction, and Jarman's Edward II to Almodovar's camp classic Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Theoretically sophisticated, yet passionate, accessible and opinionated, Fags, Hags and Queer Sisters (...) takes issue with many of the sacred cows of contemporary gay politics, and offers a number of new concepts in lesbian and gay theory. (shrink)
Except for a patina of twenty-first century modernity, in the form of logic and language, philosophy is exactly the same now as it ever was; it has made no progress whatsoever. We philosophers wrestle with the exact same problems the Pre-Socratics wrestled with. Even more outrageous than this claim, though, is the blatant denial of its obvious truth by many practicing philosophers. The No-Progress view is explored and argued for here. Its denial is diagnosed as a form of anosognosia, (...) a mental condition where the affected person denies there is any problem. The theories of two eminent philosophers supporting the No-Progress view are also examined. The final section offers an explanation for philosophy's inability to solve any philosophical problem, ever. The paper closes with some reflections on philosophy's future. (shrink)
On the political nature of the analytic - continental distinction in professional philosophy and the general tendency to discredit continental philosophy while redesignating the rubric as analytically conceived.
Claims about people's intuitions have long played an important role in philosophical debates. The new field of experimental philosophy seeks to subject such claims to rigorous tests using the traditional methods of cognitive science – systematic experimentation and statistical analysis. Work in experimental philosophy thus far has investigated people's intuitions in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics. Although it is now generally agreed that experimental philosophers have made surprising discoveries about people's intuitions in (...) each of these areas, considerable disagreement remains about the philosophical significance of the key findings. Some have argued that work in experimental philosophy should be assessed by asking whether it can contribute to the kind of inquiry that is normally pursued within analytic philosophy, while others suggest that work in experimental philosophy is best understood as a contribution to a more traditional sort of philosophical inquiry that long predates the birth of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
The following is a transcript of the interview I (Yasuko Kitano) conducted with Neil Levy (The Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, CAPPE) on the 23rd in July 2009, while he was in Tokyo to give a series of lectures on neuroethics at The University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy. I edited his words for publication with his approval.
Mathematics plays an inordinate role in the work of many of famous Western philosophers, from the time of Plato, through Husserl and Wittgenstein, and even to the present. Why? This paper points to the experience of learning or making mathematics, with an emphasis on proof. It distinguishes two sources of the perennial impact of mathematics on philosophy. They are classified as Ancient and Enlightenment. Plato is emblematic of the former, and Kant of the latter. The Ancient fascination arises from (...) the sense that mathematics explores something ‘out there’. This is illustrated by recent discussions by distinguished contemporary mathematicians. The Enlightenment strand often uses Kant's argot: ‘absolute necessity’, ‘apodictic certainty’ and ‘a priori’ judgement or knowledge. The experience of being compelled by proof, the sense that something must be true, that a result is certain, generates the philosophy. It also creates the illusion that mathematics is certain. Kant's leading question, ‘How is pure mathematics possible?’, is easily misunderstood because the modern distinction between pure and applied is an artefact of the 19th century. As Russell put it, the issue is to explain ‘the apparent power of anticipating facts about things of which we have no experience’. More generally the question is, how is it that pure mathematics is so rich in applications? Some six types of application are distinguished, each of which engenders its own philosophical problems which are descendants of the Enlightenment, and which differ from those descended from the Ancient strand. (shrink)
Since antiquity well into the beginnings of the 20th century geometry was a central topic for philosophy. Since then, however, most philosophers of science, if they took notice of topology at all, considered it as an abstruse subdiscipline of mathematics lacking philosophical interest. Here it is argued that this neglect of topology by philosophy may be conceived of as the sign of a conceptual sea-change in philosophy of science that expelled geometry, and, more generally, mathematics, from the (...) central position it used to have in philosophy of science and placed logic at center stage in the 20th century philosophy of science. Only in recent decades logic has begun to loose its monopoly and geometry and topology received a new chance to find a place in philosophy of science. (shrink)