A printed record of the symposium held in 1971 that was sponsored by the University of California's medical campus in San Francisco and the City and County of San Francisco to examine man's destiny and moral development.
This is a small book on a large subject: What is special about humanbeings? Hamlet mused, ?What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how like a god!? but went on to speak of ?this quintessence of dust?. Helen Oppenheimer prefers to start with the dust and move to the glory: we really are animals ? and from these animals has come Shakespeare. People are indeed ?miserable sinners? ? and also magnificent creatures. The author (...) does not disguise that she is a Christian theologian whose subject is ethics, but she writes equally for non-Christians. Her invitation to the reader is: Here is a way of looking at things that I find exciting and convincing ? I hope you do too. (shrink)
Human ethical practices and attitudes with respect to the other animals exhibit a curious instability. On the one hand, most people believe that it is wrong to inflict torment or death on a non-human animal for a trivial reason. Skinning a cat or setting it on fire by way of a juvenile prank is one of the standard examples of obvious wrongdoing in the philosophical literature. Like torturing infants, it is the kind of example that philosophers use when (...) we are looking for something ethically uncontroversial, so that disputes about the example won’t get in the way of the point we are trying to make.2 On the other hand, humanbeings have traditionally counted nearly any reason we might have for hurting or killing animals, short of malicious enjoyment, as non-trivial and sufficient. We kill non-human animals, and sometimes inflict pain on them, because we want to eat them, because we can make useful products out of them, because we can learn from experimenting on them, and.. (shrink)
David Hume discusses that humanbeings have no identical self in his book A Treatise of Human Nature. He says that self is not the subject of perception ; thought experiences itself and no need for such kind of idea like self. He adopted classical exposition of positivist theory with reference to the problem of personal identity. Hume adopted purely sceptical and empirical explanation and does not give any satisfactory solution for the problem of personal identity. Although, (...) he opens new lines of thought and emphasizes that no system of thought is ultimate, nothing is better than the spirit of enquiry, which gave a great effect on modern era of thinking. (shrink)
John McDowell argues for minimal empiricism via using the notion of second nature of humanbeings. I should like to invite him to discuss Helmuth Plessner's Philosophical Anthropology in order to elaborate a more substantial conception of second nature. McDowell seems to think that it is adequate for his more epistemological aim to remind us of second nature as though it were to be taken for granted. But I think, following Plessner, that this right reminder needs a therapeutic (...) elaboration in Kant's sense of propaedeutics. What had been called our second nature found itself being questioned in order to limit the range of ways of treating the self we can authorize. (shrink)
A profound change in our scientific understanding of the role of humanbeings in the unfolding of our streams of conscious experiences was wrought by the 20th-century switch from classical mechanics to quantum mechanics. The streams of consciousness thoughts of humanbeings were converted from causally inert passive witnesses of the unfolding of a mechanically controlled and causally self-sufficient physical universe into logically needed dynamical inputs into the physical aspects of nature. These physical aspects, as they (...) are now understood, contain causal gaps that are neatly filled by inputs from the realm of our conscious thoughts in a way that allows our conscious intentions to tend to produce their intended consequences. (shrink)
The essay combines a specific and a more general theme. In attacking ‘the doctrine of the sanctity of human life’ Singer takes himself thereby to be opposing the conviction that human life has special value. I argue that this conviction goes deep in our lives in many ways that do not depend on what Singer identifies as central to that ‘doctrine’, and that his attack therefore misses its main target. I argue more generally that Singer’s own moral philosophy (...) affords only an impoverished and distorted sense of the value of human life and humanbeings. In purporting to dig below the supposedly illusion–ridden surface of our thinking about value, Singer in fact often leads us away from the robust terrain of our lived experience into rhetorical, and sometimes brutal, fantasy. (shrink)
Unified explanations seek to situate the traits of humanbeings in a causal framework that also explains the trait values found in nonhuman species. Disunified explanations claim that the traits of humanbeings are due to causal processes not at work in the rest of nature. This paper outlines a methodology for testing hypotheses of these two types. Implications are drawn concerning evolutionary psychology, adaptationism, and anti-adaptationism.
Abstract John McDowell argues for minimal empiricism via using the notion of second nature of humanbeings. I should like to invite him to discuss Helmuth Plessner's Philosophical Anthropology in order to elaborate a more substantial conception of second nature. McDowell seems to think that it is adequate for his more epistemological aim to remind us of second nature as though it were to be taken for granted. But I think, following Plessner, that this right reminder needs a (...) therapeutic elaboration in Kant's sense of propaedeutics. What had been called our second nature found itself being questioned in order to limit the range of ways of treating the self we can authorize. (shrink)
Since the first sex reassignment operations were performed, individual sex has come to be, to some extent at least, a technological artifact. The existence of sperm sorting technology, and of prenatal determination of fetal sex via ultrasound along with the option of termination, means that we now have the power to choose the sex of our children. An influential contemporary line of thought about medical ethics suggests that we should use technology to serve the welfare of individuals and to remove (...) limitations on the opportunities available to them. I argue that, if these are our goals, we may do well to move towards a “post sex” humanity. Until we have the technology to produce genuine hermaphrodites, the most efficient way to do this is to use sex selection technology to ensure that only girl children are born. There are significant restrictions on the opportunities available to men, around gestation, childbirth, and breast-feeding, which will be extremely difficult to overcome via social or technological mechanisms for the foreseeable future. Women also have longer life expectancies than men. Girl babies therefore have a significantly more “open” future than boy babies. Resisting the conclusion that we should ensure that all children are born the same sex will require insisting that sexual difference is natural to humanbeings and that we should not use technology to reshape humanity beyond certain natural limits. The real concern of my paper, then, is the moral significance of the idea of a normal human body in modern medicine. (shrink)
The split in our thinking between "masculine" and "feminine" is probably as old as language itself. Humanbeings seem to have a natural tendency to divide things into pairs: good/bad, light/dark, subject/object and so on. It is not surprising, then, that the male/female or masculine/feminine dichotomy is used to classify things other than men and women. Many languages actually classify all nouns as "masculine" or "feminine" (although not very consistently: for example, the Spanish masculine noun pollo means "hen", (...) while the feminine polla is slang for "penis"). This is perfectly natural; it is part of the way categorisation works in language. This does not, however, mean that it is right. It is probably unimportant whether a table or a chair is thought of as masculine or feminine. It may not even be very important these days whether we think of the sun as male and the moon as female (like the ancient Greeks) or vice versa (like most of the German tribes). However, when we start associating abstract concepts like Reason or Nature with men and women, we run into serious difficulties. (shrink)
As a pair of important categories in traditional Chinese culture, “ ming 命 (destiny or decrees)” and “ tian ming 天命 (heavenly ordinances)” mainly refer to the constraints placed on humanbeings. Both originated from “ ling 令 (decrees),” which evolved from “ wang ling 王令 (royal decrees)” into “ tian ling 天令 (heavenly decrees),” and then became “ ming ” from a throne because of the decisive role of “heavenly decrees” over a throne. “ Ming ” and (...) “ tian ming ” have different definitions: “ Ming ” represented the limits Heaven placed on the natural lives of humanbeings and was an objective force that men could not direct, but was embodied in humanbeings as their “destiny”; “ Tian ming ” reflected the moral ideals of humanbeings in their self-identification; It originated in man but had to be verified by Heaven, and it was therefore the true ordinance that Heaven placed on humanbeings. “ Ming ” and “ tian ming ” are two perspectives on the traditional relationship between Heaven and humanbeings, and at the same time Confucians and Daoists placed different emphasis on them. (shrink)
Why do all animals possess sense perception while plants don’t? And should the difference in quality of life between humanbeings and wolves be explained by supposing that wolves have degenerated souls? This paper argues that for Aristotle differences in quality of life among living beings are based on differences in the quality of their soul-principle together with the body that receives the soul. The paper proposes a new interpretation of On the Soul 2.4.415b18: “For all the (...) natural bodies are instruments of the soul,” against all current interpretations. Aristotle there means that each of the four sublunary elements can be a part of the instrumental body of a soul. The paper continues with discussing the way in which Aristotle connects the several sublunar elements with different levels of life activity, and the troublesome passage in Generation of Animals 3.11.761b22, where Aristotle speaks about a fourth category of living creatures related to the fourth sublunary element, Fire, and the region of the Moon. (shrink)
Depression is a debilitating condition, but it can also be an awakening: one that calls attention to what is termed dimensions of expertise that come with the spatial and temporal structure of humanbeings and that are necessary for offering some counter to the debilitating force of the condition. Expertise has a significant ontological status: it is directly associated with who we are as creatures who can hear and respond to the call of conscience, desire acknowledgment and have (...) an obligation to share this life-giving gift with others, and whose very being is characterized by a perfectionist impulse to better its standing in the world. A story concerned with medical expertise is offered to illustrate in concrete terms these specific matters. (shrink)
Human dignity seems very important to us. At the same time, the concept ‘human dignity’ is extrordinarily elusive. A good way to approach the questions “What is it?” and “Why is it important?” is to raise another question first: In virtue of what do humanbeings have dignity? Speciesism - the idea that humanbeings have a particular dignity because they are humans - does not seem very convincing. A better answer says that (...) class='Hi'>humanbeings have dignity because and insofar as they are persons. I discuss several versions of this idea as well as several objections against it. The most promising line of analysis says that humanbeings cannot survive psychologically without a very basic form of recognition and respect by others. The idea that humans have a very special dignity is the idea that they owe each other this kind of respect. All this also suggests that human dignity is inherently social. Non-social beings do not have dignity - nor do they lack it. It is because we are social animals of a certain kind that we have dignity - not so much because we are rational animals. (shrink)
Far-reaching promises made by nanotechnology have raised the question of whether we are on the way to understanding humanbeings more and more as belonging to the realm of technology. In this paper, an increasing need to understand the technological re-conceptualization of humanbeings is diagnosed whenever increasingly “technical” interpretations of humans as mechanical entities are disseminated. And this can be observed at present in the framework of nanobiotechnology, a foremost “technical” self-description where a technical language (...) is adopted. The arena in which the decision is made on increasing the use of technological understanding to define mankind will not be found in the surgery room in which one works with implants, nor the NBIC-laboratory, in which “nerve plugs” are supposed to be developed. The thesis of this paper is that such arena is rather related to the manner in which concepts of humanity are associated with it, how we think and talk about ourselves, and which consequences we draw out of it. (shrink)
Unveiling the Past—Preparing the Conditions for HumanBeings to Live in the Midst of One Another Again? A Response From Living in Northern Ireland Content Type Journal Article Category Symposium Pages 333-335 DOI 10.1007/s11673-011-9334-y Authors Derick Wilson, University of Ulster, School of Education, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, BT52 1SA UK Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529 Journal Volume Volume 8 Journal Issue Volume 8, Number 4.
This article addresses a classical question: Can a machine use language meaningfully and if so, how can this be achieved? The first part of the paper is mainly philosophical. Since meaning implies intentionality on the part of the language user, artificial systems which obviously lack intentionality will be `meaningless' (pace e.g. Dennett). There is, however, no good reason to assume that intentionality is an exclusively biological property (pace e.g. Searle) and thus a robot with bodily structures, interaction patterns and development (...) similar to those of humanbeings would constitute a system possibly capable of meaning – a conjecture supported through a Wittgenstein-inspired thought experiment. The second part of the paper focuses on the empirical and constructive questions. Departing from the principle of epigenesis stating that during every state of development new structure arises on the basis of existing structure plus various sorts of interaction, a model of human cognitive and linguistic development is proposed according to which physical, social and linguistic interactions between the individual and the environment have their respective peaks in three consecutive stages of development: episodic, mimetic and symbolic. The transitions between these stages are qualitative, and bear a similarity to the stages in phylogenesis proposed by Donald (1991) and Deacon (1997). Following the principle of epigenetic development, robotogenesis could possibly recapitulate ontogenesis, leading to the emergence of intentionality, consciousness and meaning. (shrink)
I critically discuss both the particular doctrinal and general meta-philosophical or methodological tenets of Mark Johnston's paper "HumanBeings", attending to several weaknesses in his argument. One of the most important amongst them is an apparent reliance on a substitution of identicals within an intensional context as he argues that continuity of functioning brain is essential to the persistence of "HumanBeings" as allegedly singled out by his methodology; another equally important is a simple lacuna in (...) place of an argument that candidate entities for re-identification by means we take for granted in the case of persons cannot be what I call "mentalistically" individuated. (shrink)
J.S. Mill has formulated a classical statement of the "argument from analogyâ€? concerning knowledge of other minds: "I must either believe them [other humanbeings] to be alive, or to be automatonsâ€? (Mill 1872, 244). It is possible that Wittgenstein had this in mind when writing the following: "I believe he is suffering.â€?â€”Do I also believe that he isn"t an automaton? It would go against the grain to use the word in both connexions. (Or is it like this: (...) I believe he is suffering, but am certain the he is not an automaton? Nonsense!) Suppose I say of a friend: "He isn"t an automatonâ€?.â€”What information is conveyed by this, and to whom would it be information? To a human being who meets him in ordinary circumstances? What information could it give him? (At the very most that this man always behaves like a human being, and not occasionally like a machine.) "I believe he is not an automatonâ€?, just like that, so far makes no sense. My attitude towards him is an attitude towards a soul [eine Einstellung zur Seele]. I am not of the opinion that he has a soul. (PI p. 178) Here Wittgenstein contrasts opinion (Meinung) and attitude (Einstellung). How should this contrast be understood? On a view such as Mill"s, to regard someone as a conscious being is to hold certain beliefs about him, beliefs that can perhaps ultimately be grounded in a theory of some sort. To have an "attitude towards a soulâ€? is, on the contrary, to see a person"s gestures and facial expressions as "filled with meaningâ€?. We have an attitude towards a soul when confronted with a person, which means that we react to his presence and behaviour in a certain way. (shrink)
Introduction The Brazilian national curriculum guidelines for undergraduate medicine courses inspired and influenced the groundwork for knowledge acquisition, skills development and the perception of ethical values in the context of professional conduct. Objective The evaluation of ethics education in research involving humanbeings in undergraduate medicine curriculum in Brazil, both in courses with active learning processes and in those with traditional lecture learning methodologies. Methods Curricula and teaching projects of 175 Brazilian medical schools were analyzed using a retrospective (...) historical and descriptive exploratory cohort study. Thirty one medical schools were excluded from the study because of incomplete information or a refusal to participate. Active research for information from institutional sites and documents was guided by terms based on 69 DeCS/MeSH descriptors. Curriculum information was correlated with educational models of learning such as active learning methodologies, tutorial discussions with integrated curriculum into core modules, and traditional lecture learning methodologies for large classes organized by disciplines and reviewed by occurrence frequency of ethical themes and average hourly load per semester. Results Ninety-five medical schools used traditional learning methodologies. The ten most frequent ethical themes were: 1 – ethics in research (26); 2 – ethical procedures and advanced technology (46); 3 – ethic-professional conduct (413). Over 80% of schools using active learning methodologies had between 50 and 100 hours of scheduled curriculum time devoted to ethical themes whereas more than 60% of traditional learning methodology schools devoted less than 50 hours in curriculum time to ethical themes. Conclusion The data indicates that medical schools that employ more active learning methodologies provide more attention and time to ethical themes than schools with traditional discipline-based methodologies. Given the importance of ethical issues in contemporary medical education, these findings are significant for curriculum change and modification plans in the future of Brazilian medical education. (shrink)
Much of this paper is concerned with several issues of considerable importance in assessing the adequacy of Honderich's account of our nature and the persuasiveness of his case for his theory of determinism. First, there are a number of respects in which his treatment of the mental does not do justice to it, chiefly owing to the mental's being abstracted from its larger context in human life, and to neglect of its intimate relation to socially engendered and maintained systems (...) of significant forms. Second, and relatedly, there is his contention that the untenability of the notion of an Originator is fatal to any attempt to offer a philosophically respectable alternative to the sort of deterministic theory he espouses. An attempt is made to show how one might mount a response that would counter this argument by making sense of the idea of a humanly attainable substitute for the kind of Originator he with good reason rejects. The conclusion is not that indeterminism may thereby be saved, but rather that we might do better to abandon the dispute between determinism and indeterminism in favor of other more promising questions. (shrink)
Introduction: The role of animals in philosophies of man -- Part I: What's wrong with animal rights? -- The right to remain silent -- Part II: Animal pedagogy -- You are what you eat : Rousseau's cat -- Say the human responded : Herder's sheep -- Part III: Difference worthy of its name -- Hair of the dog : Derrida's and Rousseau's good taste -- Sexual difference, animal difference : Derrida's sexy silkworm -- Part IV: It's our fault -- (...) The beaver's struggle with species-being : De Beauvoir and the praying mantis -- Answering the call of nature : Lacan walking the dog -- Part V: Estranged kinship -- The abyss between humans and animals : Heidegger puts the bee in being -- Strange kinship : Merleau-Ponty's sensuous stickleback -- Stopping the anthropological machine : Agamben's tick-tocking tick -- Psychoanalysis and the science of kinship -- Psychoanalysis as animal by-product : Freud's zoophilia -- Animal abjects, maternal abjects : Kristeva's strays -- Conclusion: Sustainable ethics. (shrink)
To Be Human presents Krishnamurti's radical vision of life in a new way. At the heart of this extraordinary collection are passages from the great teacher's talks that amplify and clarify the nature of truth and those obstacles that often prevent us from seeing it. Most of these core teachings have not been available in print until now. Besides presenting the core of Krishnamurti's message, the book alerts the reader to his innovative use of language, the ways in which (...) he would use "old words with new interpretations," then gives practical examples, showing that we can clarify our understanding of life itself--and act on this new understanding. The splendid introduction by David Skitt discusses Krishnamurti's philosophy as a guide to knowledge and experience, the roles knowledge and experience should play in our lives, and the times when it is best to cast them aside and "look and act anew." The book's source notes will aid the inquisitive reader who wishes a deeper understanding of this great teacher's message. (shrink)
Philosophers have traditionally concentrated on the qualities that make humanbeings different from other species. In Beast and Man Mary Midgley, one of our foremost intellectuals, stresses continuities. What makes people tick? Largely, she asserts, the same things as animals. She tells us humans are rather more like other animals than we previously allowed ourselves to believe, and reminds us just how primitive we are in comparison to the sophistication of many animals. A veritable classic for our age, (...) Beast and Man has helped change the way we think about ourselves and the world in which we live. (shrink)
Is morality too difficult for humanbeings? Kant said that it was, except with God's assistance. Contemporary moral philosophers have usually discussed the question without reference to Christian doctrine, and have either diminished the moral demand, exaggerated human moral capacity, or tried to find a substitute in nature for God's assistance. This book looks at these philosophers--from Kant and Kierkegaard to Swinburne, Russell, and R.M. Hare--and the alternative in Christianity.
Prologue : on the freedom of non-identity -- Otherwise than human (toward sovereignty) -- What is human recognition? (on zones of indistinction) -- Desubjectivation (Michel Foucault's aesthetics of experience) -- Becoming animal (some simple ways) -- Derrida's cat (who am I?).
The so-called Turing test, as it is usually interpreted, sets a benchmark standard for determining when we might call a machine intelligent. We can call a machine intelligent if the following is satisfied: if a group of wise observers were conversing with a machine through an exchange of typed messages, those observers could not tell whether they were talking to a human being or to a machine. To pass the test, the machine has to be intelligent but it also (...) should be responsive in a manner which cannot be distinguished from a human being. This standard interpretation presents the Turing test as a criterion for demarcating intelligent from non-intelligent entities. For a long time proponents of artificial intelligence have taken the Turing test as a goalpost for measuring progress. (shrink)
Now I continue the investigation, begun in Homo Quaerens: The Seeker and the Sought, into the generic traits of persons from a philosophic point of view. I treat such special topics of my method, set forth in that book, as bear upon the person's intrapersonal aspects: namely, his body and such of its functions as contribute to his preconscious acts. In particular, I deal with those aspects insofar as they may be construed as straining, so to speak, toward that self-transcendence (...) which culminates in the veridical person - in effect, strands of subpersonal events which contribute to and converge upon his consummate personhood. In consequence, I explore the ontology of the person under the perspective of his naturalistically interpreted makeup; and I conceive my enterprise as propaedeutic to more generalized ontologic topics which I shall take up in subsequent books. (shrink)
Brian Rotman argues that (one) “mind” and (one) “god” are only conceivable, literally, because of (alphabetic) literacy, which allowed us to designate each of these ghosts as an incorporeal, speaker-independent “I” (or, in the case of infinity, a notional agent that goes on counting forever). I argue that to have a mind is to have the capacity to feel. No one can be sure which organisms feel, hence have minds, but it seems likely that one-celled organisms and plants do not, (...) whereas animals do. So minds originated before humans and before language --hence, a fortiori, before writing, whether alphabetic or ideographic. (shrink)
In the scientist's lair -- The mysterious power -- The ghost in the machine -- The mechanics of mind -- Consciousness emerges -- How to build a mind -- Turing's test of consciousness -- Supremacy of the machines -- The Chinese room -- Demons in the brain -- Describing the indescribable -- March of the zombies -- The denial of consciousness -- The limits of computation -- A new generation.
Environmental ethics is generally searching for the intrinsic value in natural beings. However, there are very few holistic models trying to reflect the various dimensions of the experience-to-be a natural being. We are searching for that intrinsic value, in order to determine which species are holders of rights. In this article, I suggest a set of moral and rational principles to be used for identifying the intrinsic value of a given species and for comparing it to that of other (...) species. (shrink)
This article argues that productive work represents a mode of human flourishing unfortunately neglected in much current political theorizing. Focusing on Habermasian critical theory, I contend that Habermas’s dualist theory of society, with its underpinning distinction between communicative and instrumental reason, excludes work and the economy from ethical reflection. To avoid this uncritical turn, we need a concept of work that retains a core emancipatory referent. This, I claim, is provided by Alasdair MacIntyre’s notion of ‹practice’. The notion of (...) ‹practice’ is␣significant in suggesting an alternative conception of human productivity that is neither purely instrumental nor purely communicative, but rather both simultaneously: a form of activity which issues in material products and yet presumes a community of workers engaged in intersubjective self-transformation. However, we can endorse MacIntyre’s notion of ‹practice’ only if we reject his totalizing anti-modernism and insist on the emancipatory potentialities of modern institutions. (shrink)
This is the first book-length study in any language to examine in detail and critically assess the second part of Kant's ethics--an empirical, impure part, which determines how best to apply pure principles to the human situation. Drawing attention to Kant's under-explored impure ethics, this revealing investigation refutes the common and long-standing misperception that Kants ethics advocates empty formalism. Making detailed use of a variety of Kantian texts never before translated into English, (...) author Robert B. Louden reassesses the strengths and weaknesses of Kantian ethics as a whole, once the second part is re-admitted to its rightful place within Kant's practical philosophy. (shrink)
The question of what it means to be human has never before been more difficult and more contested. The human, with a complicated social history that his rarely been examined, remains entrenched in traditional Enlightenment thinking. Human, All Too Human considers how we might radicalize our notion of the human. Can the human be thought outside humanism? Any rethinking of the human places us immediately inside an ever-widening field of contrasting labels: animate and (...) inanimate, natural and artificial, living and dead, organic and mechanistic. These and other boundary confusions at the frontier of the human are the subject of this volume, as each essay takes up one of three disputed border identities: animals, things or children. Human, All Too Human examines how we explain our interest in anthropomorphism and our fascination with species categorizations. Essays explore what we mean by "things" and how the integrity of the human may already be compromised by them. The nine essays in this volume all attempt to rethink the category of the human, challenging some of our most cherished cultural classifications. By inviting us to place the traditions subject of knowledge in the unsettling position of object, these writers interrogate the boundary distinctions that, until now, have exempted the human from the vigilant analysis it so urgently requires. Contributors: Nancy Armstrong, Rey Chow, Drucilla Cornell, Diana Fuss, Marjorie Garber, Barbara Johnson, Cora Kaplan, James Kincaid, Harriet Ritvo, David Willis. (shrink)
In this book, Robert Sokolowski argues that being a person means to be involved with truth. He shows that human reason is established by syntactic composition in language, pictures, and actions and that we understand things when they are presented to us through syntax. Sokolowski highlights the role of the spoken word in human reason and examines the bodily and neurological basis for human experience. Drawing on Husserl and Aristotle, as well as Aquinas and Henry James, Sokolowski (...) here employs phenomenology in a highly original way in order to clarify what we are as human agents. (shrink)
This history of human origin studies covers a wide range of disciplines. This important new study analyses a number of key episodes from palaeolithic archaeology, palaeoanthropology, primatology and evolutionary theory in terms of various ideas on how one should go about such reconstructions and what, if any, the uses of such historiographical exercises can be for current research in these disciplines. Their carefully argued point is that studying the history of palaeoanthropological thinking about the past can enhance the quality (...) of current research on human origins. The main issues in the present volume are the uses of disciplinary history in terms of present-day research concerns, the relative weight of cultural and other 'external' contexts, and continuity and change in theoretical perspectives. The book's overall approach is an epistemological one. It does not, in other words, primarily address anthropological data as such, but our ways of handling such data in terms of our most fundamental, but usually quite implicit theoretical presuppositions. (shrink)
Since ancient times philosophy has dealt with the relation between technology and man. Nowadays this is especially true in the context of the philosophy of technology. Technology is interpreted as an anthropological constant to construct an environment in which man can survive. Acting in the field of technology is to act rationally with a purpose, i.e., in the framework of a means-end relation, and it is employed for coping with experiences (Widerfahrnisse) by means of using tools. Like technology, language can (...) be reconstructed as a symbolic form and thus as a technological means, as a tool so that the employment of metaphors can also be described as an employment of tools. Using technology has effects on man as well as on his self-image. Thus, philosophy of technology creates different ideas of man, which have to become subject to ethical discourses. (shrink)
Human evolution explains how we have found ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Issues of modern living; depression, obesity, and environmental destruction, can be understood in relation to our evolutionary past. This book shows how an awareness of this past and its relation to the present can help limit their impact on the future.
John Dupre warns that our understanding of human nature is being distorted by two faulty and harmful forms of pseudo-scientific thinking. Not just in the academic world but in everyday life, we find one set of experts who seek to explain the ends at which humans aim in terms of evolutionary theory, while the other set uses economic models to give rules of how we act to achieve those ends. Dupre demonstrates that these theorists' explanations do not work and (...) that, if taken seriously, their theories tend to have dangerous social and political consequences. For these reasons, it is important to resist scientism: an exaggerated conception of what science can be expected to do for us. Dupre restores sanity to the study of human nature by pointing the way to a proper understanding of humans in the societies that are our natural and necessary environments. Anyone interested in science and human life will enjoy this book--unless they are its targets. (shrink)
This volume is the first of two to provide a new edition of Human, All Too Human, the earliest of Nietzsche's works in which his philosophical concerns and methodologies can be glimpsed. Published in 1878, it marked both a stylistic and an intellectual shift away from Nietzsche's own youthful affiliation with Romantic excesses of German thought and culture. It presents the precursors of the ideas that would later become Nietzsche's theories on genealogy and of the U;bermensch. This new (...) translation presents Nietzsche's text in the straightforward, direct prose of the original. It is the first English edition to include the significant variants and revisions of the original published text, and the first to provide cross-references to the forthcoming volume of Nietzsche's notebook material from the same period. It includes explanatory notes and a translator's afterword detailing the history of the work. (shrink)
A radical approach to the environment which argues that by harnessing the power of science for human benefit, we can have a healthier planet As a prizewinning theoretical physicist and an outspoken advocate for scientific literacy, James Trefil has long been the public's guide to a better understanding of the world. In this provocative book, Trefil looks squarely at our environmental future and finds-contrary to popular wisdom-reason to celebrate. For too long, Trefil argues, humans have treated nature as something (...) separate from themselves-pristine wilderness to be saved or material resources to be exploited. What we need instead is a scientific approach to the environment that embraces the human transformation of nature for our benefit. In Human Nature , Trefil exposes the benefits of genetically modified species, uncovers vital facts about droughts and global warming, and points to examples of environmental management where catering to humans reaps greater rewards than sheltering other species. By taking advantage of explosive advances in the sciences, we can fruitfully manage the planet, if we rise to the challenge. Like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb, Human Nature promises to fundamentally alter the way we perceive our relationship to the Earth-but with optimism rather than alarm. (shrink)
State of nature or Eden? -- Hobbes' state of nature as an account of the fall? -- Hobbes' own belief or unbelief -- The contemporary reaction to Leviathan -- Hobbes and commentaries on Genesis -- A note on method and chapter order -- Good and evil -- Hobbes on good and evil -- The 'seditious doctrines' of the schoolmen -- The contemporary reaction -- The scriptural account -- The state of nature as an account of the fall? -- Equality and (...) unsociability -- Hobbes and natural equality -- The contemporary reaction -- The scriptural account -- Hobbes on natural unsociability -- The contemporary reaction -- The scriptural account -- State of nature as Eden? -- The war of all against all -- Hobbes' war of all against all -- The contemporary reaction -- The scriptural account -- State of nature as fallen condition? -- The right and law of nature -- Hobbes and natural right -- The contemporary reaction -- Hobbes and natural law -- The contemporary reaction -- The scriptural account -- Hobbes as reformed theologian? -- The creation of society -- Hobbes on the escape from the state of nature -- The contemporary reaction : Hobbes versus divine right -- The scriptural account of Cain building a city -- Hobbes on the creation of the commonwealth -- The contemporary reaction : Hobbes versus the patriarchalists -- The scriptural account of the relationship between Adam and Eve -- State of nature as Eden, the process of the fall, and the fallen condition? -- Reading Hobbes' state of nature -- Anti-aristotelianism -- Hobbes' Protestantism. (shrink)
In Moral Animals, Catherine Wilson develops a theory of morality based on two fundamental premises: first that moral progress implies the evolution of moral ideals involving restraint and sacrifice; second that humanbeings are outfitted by nature with selfish motivations, intentions, and ambitions that place constraints on what morality can demand of them. Normative claims, she goes on to show, can be understood as projective hypotheses concerning the conduct of realistically-described nonideal agents in preferred fictional worlds. Such claims (...) differ from empirical hypotheses, insofar as they cannot be verified by observation and experiment. Yet many, though not all, moral claims are susceptible of confirmation to the extent that they command the agreement of well-informed inquirers. With this foundation in place, Wilson turns to a defense of egalitarianism intended to address the objection that the importance of our non-moral projects, our natural acquisitiveness and partiality, and our meritocratic commitments render social equality a mere abstract ideal. Employing the basic notion of a symmetrical division of the co-operative surplus, she argues that social justice with respect to global disparities in well-being, and in the condition of women relative to men, depends on the relinquishment of natural and acquired advantage that is central to the concept of morality. (shrink)
In this culmination of a lifetime's study, Joseph Cropsey examines the crucial relationship between Plato's conception of the nature of the universe and his moral and political thought. Cropsey interprets seven of Plato's dialogues-- Theaetetus , Euthyphro , Sophist , Statesman , Apology , Crito , and Phaedo --in light of their dramatic consecutiveness and thus as a conceptual and dramatic whole. The cosmos depicted by Plato in these dialogues, Cropsey argues, is often unreasonable, and populated by human (...) class='Hi'>beings unaided by gods and dealt with equivocally by nature. Masterfully leading the reader through the seven scenes of the drama, Cropsey shows how they are, to an astonishing degree, concerned with the resources available to help us survive in such a world. This is a world--and a Plato--quite at odds with most other portraits. Much more than a summary of Plato's thinking, this book is an eloquent, sometimes amusing, often moving guide to the paradoxes and insights of Plato's philosophy. (shrink)