This book proposes a new paradigm for the interpretation of Plato's early and middle dialogues. Rejecting the usual assumption of a distinct 'Socratic' period in the development of Plato's thought, this view regards the earlier works as deliberate preparation for the exposition of Plato's mature philosophy. Differences between the dialogues do not represent different stages in Plato's own thinking but rather different aspects and moments in the presentation of a new and unfamiliar view of reality. Once the fictional character of (...) the Socratic genre is recognised, there is no reason to regard Plato's early dialogues as representing the philosophy of the historical Socrates. The result is a unified interpretation of all of the dialogues down to the Republic and the Phaedrus. (shrink)
Malebranche's Dialogues on Metaphysics and on Religion is in many ways the best introduction to his thought, and provides the most systematic exposition of his philosophy as a whole. In it, he presents clear and comprehensive statements of his two best-known contributions to metaphysics and epistemology, namely, the doctrines of occasionalism and vision in God; he also states his views on such central issues as self-knowledge, the existence of the external world and the problem of theodicy. His skilful handling of (...) the dialogue form enables the reader to see how he responds to objections made to his earlier work The Search after Truth. This edition presents a translation of the text which is clear, readable and more accurate than any of its predecessors, together with an introduction that analyses Malebranche's central teachings and explains the importance of the Dialogues in the context of seventeenth-century philosophy. (shrink)
Why did Plato put his philosophical arguments into dialogues, rather than presenting them in a plain and readily understandable fashion? A group of distinguished scholars here offer answers to this question by studying the relation between form and argument in his late dialogues. These penetrating studies show that the literary structure of the dialogues is of vital importance in the ongoing interpretation of Plato.
Agora, Academy, and the Conduct of Philosophy offers extremely careful and detailed criticisms of some of the most important assumptions scholars have brought to bear in beginning the process of (Platonic) interpretation. It goes on to offer a new way to group the dialogues, based on important facts in the lives and philosophical practices of Socrates - the main speaker in most of Plato's dialogues - and of Plato himself. Both sides of Debra Nails's arguments deserve close attention: the negative (...) side, which exposes a great deal of diversity in a field that often claims to have achieved a consensus; and the positive side, which insists that we must attend to what we know of these philosophers' lives and practices, if we are to make a serious attempt to understand why Plato wrote the way he did, and why his writings seem to depict different philosophies and even different approaches to philosophizing. From the Preface by Nicholas D. Smith. (shrink)
From Descartes to designer babies, The Philosophy Gym poses questions about some of history's most important philosophical issues, ranging in difficulty from pretty easy to very challenging. He brings new perspectives to age-old conundrums while also tackling modern-day dilemmas -- some for the first time. Begin your warm up by contemplating whether a pickled sheep can truly be considered art, or dive right in and tackle the existence of God. In this radically new way of looking at philosophy, Stephen Law (...) illustrates the problem with a story, then lets the argument battle it out in clear, easily digestible and intelligent prose. This perfect little mental health club is sure to give each reader's mind a great workout. (shrink)
In recent years, the notion of a ‘clash of civilizations’, first put forward by Samuel Huntington (1996), has been widely used to explain the contemporary dynamics of geo-political conflict. It has been argued that the fundamental source of conflict is no longer primarily ideological, or even economic, but cultural. Despite many trenchant and largely debilitating academic critiques of Huntington's argument, the popular appeal of the ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis remains undiminished. In many parts of the world, the binary it describes (...) is often taken to be self-evident, especially after the tragic events of September 11. This paper uses the ideas of ‘social imaginary’ (Taylor, 2004) and ‘political myth’ (Blumenberg, 1984) to understand the popular appeal of the idea of civilizational conflict, and suggests that this appeal is unlikely to be punctured by theoretical arguments alone, but by an equally plausible political narrative located in an alternative social imaginary, acquired through cosmopolitan learning. (shrink)
Drawing on Julia Kristeva's amorous dialogue with Therese in Therese, mon amour , her third volume on the powers and limits of psychoanalysis ( La haine et le pardon ), and Cet incroyable besoin de croire , my aim in this essay is to unpack Kristeva's theory of sublimation which, I suggest, Therese helps her elaborate, enrich and complicate. In particular, I focus on Kristeva's foregrounding of the mediating role of language in the sublimatory process and her rethinking of the (...) experience and stakes of sublimation in light of what has been discussed as the central problematic of the baroque: namely, the blurring of the distinction between appearance and reality and the uninhibited celebration of illusion. As I demonstrate, this problematic and Therese's unique response to it are most important for Kristeva since they enable her to raise questions which carry her beyond her previous treatments of sublimation. These questions relate to the amorous source of the imaginary; the dynamic established between idealization and sublimation; the dangers of an unbridled imaginary; the uncomfortable residue of matter and the body; the dialectic between finitude and infinity, unity and multiplicity. (shrink)
This paper explores the role of strategic conversations in corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy formation. The authors suggest that explicitly engaging stakeholders in the CSR strategy-making process, through the mechanism of strategic conversations, will minimize future stakeholder concerns and enhance CSR strategy making. In addition, suggestions for future research are offered to enable a better understanding of effective strategic conversation processes in CSR strategy making and the resulting performance outcomes.
This essay begins by exploring the extent to which the narrative of secularization presented in Charles Taylor's A Secular Age might be complicated or otherwise challenged by taking account of parallel processes within Islamic thought and practice. It then considers whether Taylor's argument might nevertheless be applicable to, or illuminative of, contemporary struggles with modernity in the Muslim world.
If we disscuss imaginary syncretism, we will do this by taking some caution measures: we are used to general speculations, to metaphors, but we have to acknowledge that the present article values specific statements, namely, when discussing religion, dogma, the absolute truth, we are actually taking into consideration the individual behind all these. It involves to state the intercultural dialogue (defined as openess toward the other), having as bases several solutions likely to be traced, because when we discuss the (...) great concepts of culture, such in the case of Humanism, we may not be able to grasp their meaning without putting value on the specificities it presupposes. Further more, multiculturalism announces umanism without taking into account that the equivalence between syncretism and the former is the creation of the imaginary in modernity. Multiculturalism being specific to the secular cultures is actally specific to religious cultures rendered secular, where secular can return to religious, yet it is a one-way, the other way round being impossible. (shrink)
This paper explores the influence and use of agrarian thought on collective understandings of food practices as sources of ethical and communal value in urban contexts. A primary proponent of agrarian thought that this paper engages is Paul Thompson and his exceptional book, The Agrarian Vision. Thompson aims to use agrarian ideals of agriculture and communal life to rethink current issues of sustainability and environmental ethics. However, Thompson perceives the current cultural mood as hostile to agrarian virtue. There are two (...) related claims of this paper. The first argues that contrary to Thompson’s perception of hostility, agrarian thought is popularly and commercially mobilized among urban populations. To establish this claim I extend Charles Taylor’s notion of a social imaginary and suggest that urban agriculture can be theorized as an agrarian imaginary. Entwined with the first claim is the second, that proponents selectively use agrarian history to overemphasis a narrative of virtue while ignoring or marginalizing historical practices of agrarian violence, exclusion and dispossession. I do not discount or deny the significance of agrarian virtue. By situating agrarian thought within a clearer virtue ethics framework and acknowledging potential manifestation of agrarian vice, I suggest that the idea of agrarian virtue is strengthened. (shrink)
Neste artigo, pretende-se interpretar a posição de Taylor sobre a situação da sociedade contemporânea secular a partir do seguinte itinerário: (1) discutindo em grandes linhas sua concepção filosófica da multiculturalidade de nossas sociedades atuais, (2) propondo uma narrativa que aponte para uma interpretação do imaginário social multicultural e secularizado, e finalmente (3) apontando para o lugar da racionalidade filosófica neste percurso. A análise se faz tendo em mente que a coexistência cada vez maior de pessoas, grupos e comunidades, com tradições (...) étnicas, culturais, linguísticas e religiosas das mais diversas, que partilham um mesmo espaço geográfico, é uma das principais características de nosso mundo globalizado. Por um lado, nessa configuração multicultural, é cada vez mais universal a consciência de que viver em comum no mundo é, também, partilhar um destino coletivo onde os efeitos sócio-culturais da globalização transformam nossos esquemas mentais e nossas formas de vida social. Por outro lado, a possibilidade de uma convivência harmônica em uma mesma sociedade de indivíduos, grupos e comunidades com cosmovisões diferentes coloca-se como desafio ainda não de todo equacionado. Palavras-chave: Imaginário. Secularização. Taylor.This article examines Taylor`s viewpoint on the situation in contemporary secular society from the following itinerary: (1) discuss his philosophical conception of multiculturalism in our societies today, (2) propose a narrative that points to an interpretation of the social, multicultural and secular imaginary, and finally (3) points to the place of philosophical rationality in this route. This analysis assumes the coexistence of individuals, groups and communities, with their ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious traditions that share the same geographic space and is a major feature of our globalized world. On the one hand, within this situation, the consciousness that live together in the world means sharing a collective destiny where socio-cultural effects of globalization transform our mental schemes and also change our forms of social life. Moreover, the possibility of a harmonious coexistence in a society of individuals, groups and communities with different worldviews is a challenge still not entirely solved. Key words: Imaginary. Secularization. Taylor. (shrink)
Following are two short contributions to the book, _Criminal Law Conversations_: commentaries on Paul Robinson's discussion of "Empirical Desert" and Antony Duff & Sandra Marshal's discussion of the sharing of wrongs.
Within the Pragma-Dialectical School of argumentation theory both a normative and a descriptive component are essential in order to account for a reconstruction of argumentative language use. This paper concentrates on the descriptive component and discusses the choice of the adjacency pair as a tool for the systematic description of the confrontation stage of argumentative conversations. First a structural description of confrontation in conversation is developed from the discourse analytical approach to argumentation of Jackson and Jacobs, within the normative (...) frame of the theory of argumentation of Van Eemeren and Grootendorst. Then the pro's and con's of the adjacency pair model for the analysis of conversation in general and for that of argumentative conversation in particular are discussed. Where the adjacency pair fails, alternative models like Edmondson's model for the analysis of spoken discourse (1981) are examined. Finally the description of confrontation in conversations in terms of the adjacency pair is shown to be in line with the rational model for describing the pragmatic aspects of conversational coherence proposed by Jackson and Jacobs in 1983 and with their current thinking on the status of adjacency pairs (1987). For the elaboration of Jackson and Jacobs' sketch of a rational model of conversational coherence the use of notions from Edmondson's model of interactional analysis is recommended. (shrink)
This essay argues that the material conditions of capitalist patriarchal societies are more integrally linked to institutionalized heterosexuality than they are to gender. Building on the critical strategies of early feminist sociology through the articulation of a materialist feminist theoretical framework, the author provides a critique of contemporary sex-gender theory. She argues that the heterosexual imaginary in feminist sociological theories of gender conceals the operation of heterosexuality in structuring gender and closes off any critical analysis of heterosexuality as an (...) organizing institution.... every sociological concept and thesis, as well as the overall patterning of these concepts and theses, is potentially open for reconsideration... With the emergence of feminist sociological theory, the critical emphases in sociology are strengthened by an insistence that sociological work be critical and change-oriented... in an intensely reflexive way towards sociology itself (Lengermann and Niebrugge-Brantley 1990:318). We must produce a political transformation of the key concepts, that is of the concepts which are strategic for us (Wittig 1992:30). (shrink)
In 1938 Wittgenstein delivered a short course of lectures on aesthetics to a small group of students at Cambridge. The present volume has been compiled from notes taken down at the time by three of the students: Rush Rhees, Yorick Smythies, and James Taylor. They have been supplemented by notes of conversations on Freud (to whom reference was made in the course on aesthetics) between Wittgenstein and Rush Rhees, and by notes of some lectures on religious belief. As very (...) little is known of Wittgenstein's views on these subjects from his published works, these notes should be of considerable interest to students of contemporary philosophy. Further, their fresh and informal style should recommend Wittgenstein to those who find his Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations a little formidable. (shrink)
Imaginary Bodies is a collection of essays that offer a sustained challenge to traditional philosophical notions of the body, sex and gender. Moira Gatens explores alternative positions to dualism by exploring psychoanalytic, Foucaultian and Spinozist notions of embodiment. The book traces a largely neglected geneaology of philosophers from Spinoza, Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault and Deleuze and sets this tradition against that of the Enlightenment. What emerges are new ways of thinking those aspects of life which Gatens calls "imaginary." Confining (...) herself to neither philosophy of "the subject" nor an ahistorical philosophy of "the body" at the expense of broader ethical and socio-political issues, Gatens shows the many connections between theories of bodies politic and the (sexed) individual. She compellingly, lucidly, and trenchantly engages with the ethical, legal and sexual relations between men and women which are placed in its proper historical and political context. (shrink)
Recent models in quantum cosmology make use of the concept of imaginary time. These models all conjecture a join between regions of imaginary time and regions of real time. We examine the model of James Hartle and Stephen Hawking to argue that the various no-boundary attempts to interpret the transition from imaginary to real time in a logically consistent and physically significant way all fail. We believe this conclusion also applies to quantum tunneling models, such as that (...) proposed by Alexander Vilenkin. We conclude, therefore, that the notion of emerging from imaginary time is incoherent. A consequence of this conclusion seems to be that the whole class of cosmological models appealing to imaginary time is thereby refuted. (shrink)
It is common in moral philosophy to test the validity of moral principles by proposing counter-examples in the form of cases where the application of the principle does not give the conclusion we intuitively find valid. These cases are often imaginary and sometimes rather ‘outlandish’, involving ray guns, non-existent creatures, etc. I discuss whether we can test moral principles with the help of outlandish cases, or if only realistic cases are admissible. I consider two types of argument against outlandish (...) cases: 1) Since moral principles are meant for guiding action in this world, cases drawn from other worlds are irrelevant. 2) We lack the capacity to apply our intuitive moral competence to outlandish cases. I argue that while the first approach is importantly flawed, the second approach is plausible, not because our moral competence per se is limited to cases from this world, but because we lack the capacity to imagine outlandish cases, and we cannot apply our moral competence to a case we fail to imagine properly. (shrink)
STS research has devoted relatively little attention to the promotion and reception of science and technology by non-scientific actors and institutions. One consequence is that the relationship of science and technology to political power has tended to remain undertheorized. This article aims to fill that gap by introducing the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries. Through a comparative examination of the development and regulation of nuclear power in the US and South Korea, the article demonstrates the analytic potential of the imaginaries concept. (...) Although nuclear power and nationhood have long been imagined together in both countries, the nature of those imaginations has remained strikingly different. In the US, the state’s central move was to present itself as a responsible regulator of a potentially runaway technology that demands effective containment. In South Korea, the dominant imaginary was of atoms for development which the state not only imported but incorporated into its scientific, technological and political practices. In turn, these disparate imaginaries have underwritten very different responses to a variety of nuclear shocks and challenges, such as Three Mile Island (TMI), Chernobyl, and the spread of the anti-nuclear movement. (shrink)
Depoliticization: The Political Imaginary of Global Capitalism follows in the path blazed by Hannah Arendt and Cornelius Castoriadis, where politics is seen as a mode of freedom; the possibility for individuals to consciously and explicitly create the institutions of their own societies. Starting with such problem as: What is capital? How can we characterize the dominant economic system? What are the conditions for its existence, and how can we create alternatives?, the articles examine the central institutions of modern Western (...) societies, market capitalism, representative liberal democracy, and science. To elucidate the problem of depoliticization, the authors engage a number of thinkers from Karl Marx, Max Weber, Thorstein Veblen to Cornelius Castoriadis, Michel Foucault, Jacques Rancière, and Stanley Kubrick. -/- . (shrink)
In his book, Conversations on Ethics, Alex Voorhoeve interviews eleven prominent moral philosophers about central aspects of their views as well as about their intellectual development.1 In their order of appearance, these are: Frances Kamm, Peter Singer, Daniel Kahneman, Philippa Foot, Alasdair MacIntyre, Ken Binmore, Allan Gibbard, Thomas Scanlon, Bernard Williams, Harry Frankfurt, and David Velleman. The book is both richly instructive and delightful to read. Voorhoeve has a sophisticated command of his interlocutorsʼ philosophical views, and his questions (...) often hit the nail on the head. He has the talent to ask difficult questions in a welcoming way, setting the stage for his interviewees to explain their positions as clearly as they can. For the reader interested in moral theory this is a true asset, since Voorhoeve managed to assemble quite a few of the figures that have shaped the face of moral philosophy in the past generation to discuss fundamentals of their moral views. As a set of conversations with different philosophers, the book does not aim to advance any philosophical thesis of its own. Rather, the conversational method, with its unique ability to dwell on the more obscure or vulnerable junctions of a philosophical view, helps deepen our understanding of what is sometimes hidden between the lines of systematic texts. My own comments, accordingly, focus mainly on some of the virtues of the bookʼs dialogical method. A review of the main ideas presented is first in order, however. (shrink)
This paper defends a contextualist approach to epistemic injustice according to which instances of such injustice should be looked at as temporally extended phenomena (having developmental and historical trajectories) and socially extended phenomena (being rooted in patterns of social relations). Within this contextualist framework, credibility excesses appear as a form of undeserved epistemic privilege that is crucially relevant for matters of testimonial justice. While drawing on Miranda Fricker's proportional view of epistemic justice, I take issue with its lack of attention (...) to the role that credibility excesses play in testimonial injustices. I depart from Fricker's view of the relation between credibility excesses and credibility deficits, and I offer an alternative account of the contributions that undeserved epistemic privileges make to epistemic injustices. Then, through the detailed analysis of To kill a mockingbird, I elucidate the crucial role played by the social imaginary in creating and sustaining epistemic injustices, developing an analysis of the kind of social blindness produced by an oppressive social imaginary that establishes unjust patterns of credibility excesses and deficits. (shrink)
David Bloor has claimed that Wittgenstein is best read as offering the beginnings of a sociological theory of knowledge, despite Wittgenstein's reluctance to view his work this way. This leads him to dismiss Wittgenstein's many self?characterizations as mere ?prejudice?. In doing so, however, Bloor misses the import of Wittgenstein's work as a ?grammatical investigation?. The problems inherent in Bloor's interpretative approach can be discerned in his attitude toward Wittgenstein's use of imaginary scenarios: he demands that they be replaced by (...) real natural history and real ethnography. This demand is misplaced. The very self?characterizations Bloor dismisses show how imaginary scenarios have a place in his philosophical project simply by being imagined. Three examples are examined and presented in such a way as to make Bloor's demand for replacement increasingly more difficult to comprehend: while in the first case, the demand seems simply beside the point, in the second and third cases, it becomes difficult to say just what would count as replacements. Wittgenstein's imaginary scenarios are thus best read not as suggestions for further empirical research, but as devices to aid in recovering the naturalness and familiarity of our concepts, which is precisely what one would expect from them as part of a grammatical investigation. (shrink)
In this paper I distil a concept of the imaginary with which to make good the claim that our mode of embodied subjectivity is an imaginary embodiment in an imaginary world. The concept of the imaginary employed is not one in which imaginary worlds are contrasted with the real, but one in which imagination is a condition of there being a real for us. The images and forms in terms of which our imagined bodies and (...) worlds are constituted carry, in an interdependent way, cognition and affects. Imagined configurations have a resilience which makes their displacement more than a matter of appealing to considerations of truth or falsity. It involves encounters with alternative imagined configurations which can be recognized as making both cognitive and affective sense. (shrink)
In this paper I consider the way in which divinity is realized through an imaginary locus in the mystical thought of Jewish kabbalah and Hindu tantra. It demonstrates a reflective consciousness by the adept or master in understanding the place of God’s being, as a supernal and mundane reality. For the comparative assessment of these two distinctive approaches I shall use as a point of departure the interpretative strategies employed by Elliot Wolfson in his detailed work on Jewish mysticism. (...) He argues that there is an androcentric bias embedded in the speculative outlook of medieval kabbalah, as he reads the texts through a psychoanalytic lens. In a similar way, I will argue that there is an androcentric bias to the speculations presented in medieval Shaiva tantra, in particular that division known as the Trika. Overall, my aim is to suggest some functional and perhaps structural similarities to the characterization of divinity in these two traditions, through brief analyses of the erotic understanding of the nature of the Godhead. (shrink)
Can we trust our intuitive judgments of right and wrong? Are moral judgements objective? What reason do we have to do what is right and avoid doing what is wrong? In Conversations on Ethics, Alex Voorhoeve elicits answers to these questions from eleven outstanding philosophers and social scientists: Ken Binmore; Philippa Foot; Harry Frankfurt; Allan Gibbard; Daniel Kahneman; Frances Kamm; Alasdair MacIntyre; T. M. Scanlon; Peter Singer; David Velleman; Bernard Williams. The exchanges are direct, open, and sharp, and give (...) a clear account of these thinkers' core ideas about ethics. They also provide unique insights into their intellectual development - how they became interested in ethics, and how they conceived the ideas for which they became famous. Conversations on Ethics will engage anyone interested in moral philosophy. (shrink)
Starting from the author's critique of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, this essay offers a comprehensive interpretation of Slavoj i ek's political theory. i ek's position drives a wedge between two concepts foundational to Laclau and Mouffe's 'radical democratic theory', namely 'antagonism' and 'anti-essentialism'. Anti-essentialism, it is argued, carries with it a residual utopianism - i.e. a view of political theory as offering a vision of a desirable radicalized society or a 'radical democratic imaginary' - that the more radical (...) concept of antagonism forbids. Effectively, anti-essentialism is shown to produce a new kind of ideology, an ideology that i ek, deeply critical, associates with the shortcomings of multi-culturalism and political correctness. The essay ends with a critical consideration of i ek's claim that he himself produced a systematic political theory based upon the insight of antagonism. Having constructed (by way of return to Marx and Engels) a version of i ek's project that makes sense of his derision for anti-utopianism by positing a utopian theory without any 'imaginary' support, the article closes with critical comments about the effectiveness of such a position. i ek is seen to offer us a powerful political theory, one that unmasks the hypocrisy in much contemporary work, but also a theory whose limits must give us pause. Key Words: antagonism anti-essentialism anti-utopianism Jacques Lacan Ernesto Laclau Chantal Mouffe radical democratic imaginary radical democratic theory utopia Slavoj i ek. (shrink)
Models such as the simple pendulum, isolated populations, and perfectly rational agents, play a central role in theorising. It is now widely acknowledged that a study of scientific representation should focus on the role of such imaginary entities in scientists’ reasoning. However, the question is most of the time cast as follows: How can fictional or abstract entities represent the phenomena? In this paper, I show that this question is not well posed. First, I clarify the notion of representation, (...) and I emphasise the importance of what I call the “format” of a representation for the inferences agents can draw from it. Then, I show that the very same model can be presented under different formats, which do not enable scientists to perform the same inferences. Assuming that the main function of a representation is to allow one to draw predictions and explanations of the phenomena by reasoning with it, I conclude that imaginary models in abstracto are not used as representations: scientists always reason with formatted representations. Therefore, the problem of scientific representation does not lie in the relationship of imaginary entities with real systems. One should rather focus on the variety of the formats that are used in scientific practice. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss Husserl's solution of the problem of imaginary elements in mathematics as presented in the drafts for two lectures he gave in Göttingen in 1901 and other related texts of the same period, a problem that had occupied Husserl since the beginning of 1890, when he was planning a never published sequel to "Philosophie der Arithmetik" (1891). In order to solve the problem of imaginary entities Husserl introduced, independently of Hilbert, two notions of completeness (...) (definiteness in Husserl's terminology) for a formal axiomatic system. I present and discuss these notions here, establishing also parallels between Husserl's and Hilbert's notions of completeness. (shrink)