Drew M. Dalton: Longing for the other: Levinas and metaphysical desire Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-8 DOI 10.1007/s11007-012-9216-y Authors Christopher Yates, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA Journal Continental Philosophy Review Online ISSN 1573-1103 Print ISSN 1387-2842.
Drew Khlentozos’ Naturalistic Realism and the Antirealist Challenge is a meticulous introduction and roadmap to the core arguments of the contemporary realism/antirealism debate. It has several features that I especially admire. The book is carefully argued and for the most part clearly written. Rare among recent writers in Anglo-American philosophy, Khlentzos is a charitable reader of his opponents and earnestly endeavors to present their views as clearly and generously as possible. This generosity and thoroughness are also the book’s main fault, (...) as it is long (weighing in 408 pages) and sometimes plodding. In a few cases Khlentzos’ charity is overly generous. This seems to me to be the case, for example, with some of his contortions on behalf of Dummett, not least of which being a lengthy chapter on how intuitionism drives Dummett’s antirealism that probably should have been an appendix. But these are drawbacks that we can all live with—especially for the purpose of graduate teaching, for which this monograph is well suited. Naturalistic Realism and the Antirealist Challenge begins (Section I) by setting out the realist/anti-realist debate. Khlentzos argues that the kinds of metaphysical realists who have been quickest to shrug off semantic arguments against realism are particularly susceptible to those arguments. Specifically, naturalistic realists—among whom Khlentzos counts himself—cannot dismiss critiques like those from Dummett and Putnam merely by observing that realism is a metaphysical rather than semantic or epistemic doctrine. The trouble is, “If the world is as resolutely mind-independent as the realist makes out, then there is a problem about how we get to know about it in the first place” (4). Khlentzos calls this the representation problem, saying. (shrink)
This paper defends moral realism against Sharon Street’s “Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value” (this journal, 2006). I argue by separation of cases: From the assumption that a certain normative claim is true, I argue that the first horn of the dilemma is tenable for realists. Then, from the assumption that the same normative claim is false, I argue that the second horn is tenable. Either way, then, the Darwinian dilemma does not add anything to realists’ epistemic worries.
Alasdair MacIntyre criticises the ethics of modernity as fallacious, and wants it replaced by Aristotelian virtue ethics. He is particularly critical concerning modernity’s non-contextual understanding of reason, and wants to renew the ethical significance of concepts like tradition and context.
Departing from frequent use of moral conflict cases in business ethics teaching and research, the paper suggests an elaboration of a moral conflict approach within business ethics, both conceptually and philosophically. The conceptual elaboration borrows from social science conflict research terminology, while the philosophical elaboration presents casuistry as a kind of practical, inductive argumentation with a focus on paradigmatic examples.
In this study we argue that there is an interconnection between; the mechanistic worldview and competition, and the organic worldview and cooperation. To illustrate our main thesis we introduce two cases; first, Max Havelaar, a paradigmatic case of how business might function in an economy based upon solidarity and sustainability. Second, TINE, a Norwegian grocery corporation engaged in collusion in order to force a small competitor out of the market. On the one hand, in order to encourage market behaviour (...) that integrates economic, societal and environmental values we find that transparent cooperation within a context of an organic worldview takes care of important intrinsic as well as instrumental values. On the other hand, we find evidence for asserting that cooperation based upon a mechanistic worldview, typically leads to group egotistical consequences undermining the long term common good. (shrink)
This article analyses the influence of Hinduism on Ecosophy T. Arne Naess in several of his environmental writings quotes verse 6.29 of the Bhagavadgit?, a Hindu sacred text. The verse is understood to illustrate the close relationship between the ideas of oneness of all living beings, non?injury and self?realization. The article compares the interpretations of the verse of some of the most important Hindu commentators on the Bhagavadgit? with the environmentalist interpretation. There is no agreement in the history of the (...) Hindu tradition on the meaning of the verse. The interpretation of Ecosophy T contrasts sharply with the interpretations of the Hindu monastic traditions but has similarities with the twentieth?century social activist interpretations of Mohandas K. Gandhi and S. Radhakrishnan. In Ecosophy T aspects of this social activist version of Hinduism have been creatively reinterpreted in the context of contemporary environmentalism. (shrink)
It is a common mistake, especially, perhaps, among students of the religions and philosophies of India, to assume that the word prakti, best known as the ultimate material principle in the Sākhya and Yoga systems of religious thought, the material cause of the world in Hindu theologies and, as such, an epithet of the goddesses in Hinduism, always refers to an ultimate principle. Even in Sākhya and Yoga texts the word prakti is used in various ways. Prakti does not always (...) refer to the ultimate principle. Translators often leave the word prakti untranslated and mislead the reader to assume that the ultimate principle is referred to, when it is not. This article discusses the use of prakti in the Sākhya-Yoga texts the Yogastra and the Vyāsabhāya and criticises some translation practices. (shrink)
Ethical notions such as good and bad, are often treated as though they were ?symmetric? in the sense of having the same moral ?weight?, one in a positive the other in a negative sense. I argue that they are in fact ?asymmetric? and that the negative members of such pairs of notions are more fundamental and definite, logically speaking, and operationally more important than the positive members. Detailed arguments are given to show this for some non?moral notions, such as life (...) and death, health and illness; some semi?moral notions such as pleasure and pain; and finally for the moral notions of happiness, benevolence, right, and good and their negative counterparts. One of the intentions of the article is to show that a systematic view of such asymmetries may have consequences for one's view of the proper or desirable structure of a general theory of ethics: norms stating prohibitions and norms stating permissions will be seen to be, in a sense defined in the text, more fundamental and important than norms stating ('positive') obligations. (shrink)
Among the foundations of the sciences and the humanities should be counted the norms and values which they necessarily presuppose. This argument requires us to view science and scholarship (systematic cognitive activity) as deliberate and complex forms of human activity . Human action can be ('rationally') guided and legitimated only by reference to norms and values. It is shown that, historically, there are at least three distinct traditions: (1) The Platonic-Aristotelian, (2) the Baconian, and (3) the Weberian. The first is (...) based on the value of 'self-realization'; the second on welfare as a function of technological control; and the third on the justification of science through the Wertfreiheit of its practitioners. It is then argued that when we add (4), a set of general methodological norms, and (5), the ideal of academic freedom or autonomy, we have before us an 'ideology of cognitive activity' which it is now important to study, historically, critically, and constructively. For some such ideology is as indispensable as internal and external demands for legitimation (of science, etc.) are now both inescapable and justified. (shrink)
Evil should be characterised as a specific constellation, which results from destructive connections between individual activities and systemic influences. The article shows some important aspects of the structure of evil and prefers the terms of wickedness and obscene coincidences to describe its own character. Therefore, also the division between rationality and affectivity appears as inadequate, because evil has on the one side an intrinsic attractiveness for individuals and is on the other side in modern societies more and more a product (...) of a rationality, which is free from passion. Especially the emotional impoverishment is responsible for the increase of evil, which is demonstrated by two examples. Based on Paul Ricoeur, the evolution of malum can be developed by a short analyse of the relationship between Ethics and Emotions. (shrink)
Much of the most typical “New Criticism”; has been strongly rationalistic; especially critics who follow the line of I. A. Richards emphatically hold that one can reason about everything in poetry. The techniques developed within modern analytical philosophy have properties which make them well adapted to reconstructive criticism of such reasoning about poetry, for which purpose Professor Hunger-land uses them with evident success. I shall give an account of her brilliant book, and after some critical remarks proceed to a discussion (...) of the fruitfulness of her approach. (shrink)
It is a common mistake, especially, perhaps, among students of the religions and philosophies of India, to assume that the word prak?ti, best known as the ultimate material principle in the S??khya and Yoga systems of religious thought, the material cause of the world in Hindu theologies and, as such, an epithet of the goddesses in Hinduism, always refers to an ultimate principle. Even in S??khya and Yoga texts the word prak?ti is used in various ways. Prak?ti does not always (...) refer to the ultimate principle. Translators often leave the word prak?ti untranslated and mislead the reader to assume that the ultimate principle is referred to, when it is not. This article discusses the use of prak?ti in the S??khya-Yoga texts the Yogas?tra and the Vy?sabh??ya and criticises some translation practices. (shrink)
In Norway, by tradition a Lutheran country, the puritan ethics of a moral minority has a strong influence on the development and manifestations of medical ethics. Those who exert this influence are found primarily among politicians, the clergy, and, last but certainly not least, among nurses and doctors. The focus of interest is not so much on problems of bioethical moral theory or the teaching of bioethics to students, but very much on attitudes and policies with regard to substantive issues (...) traditionally regarded in Norway as burning bioethical issues, such as: medical research ethics, abortion, prenatal diagnosis, euthanasia, definitions of death, and reproductive technologies. (shrink)
Familial clustering of a disease is defined as the occurrence of the disease within some families in excess of what would be expected from the occurrence in the population. It has been demonstrated for several cancer types, ranging from rare cancers as the adenomatosis-coli-associated colon cancer or the Li-Fraumeni syndrome to more common cancers as breast cancer and colon cancer. Familial clustering, however, is merely an epidemiological pattern, and it does not tell whether genetic or environmental causes or both in (...) combination are responsible for the familial clustering. Familial clustering may be due to genetic predisposition to the disease, but exposure to environmental factors — shared by members of some families, but not by members of other families — may also cause familial clustering and hence mimic genetic inheritance in the study of nuclear families. Based on assumptions regarding the individual steps in the biological process starting with exposure to carcinogens and ending with death from disseminated cancer we suggest that genetic and environmental factors may both be involved in most of these steps. The present paper focuses on research methodologies necessary to discriminate between the effect of genes and family environment in the development of cancer. (shrink)
Among the foundations of the sciences and the humanities should be counted the norms and values which they necessarily presuppose. This argument requires us to view science and scholarship (systematic cognitive activity) as deliberate and complex forms of human activity. Human action can be ('rationally') guided and legitimated only by reference to norms and values. It is shown that, historically, there are at least three distinct traditions: (1) The Platonic?Aristotelian, (2) the Baconian, and (3) the Weberian. The first is based (...) on the value of ?self?realization'; the second on welfare as a function of technological control; and the third on the justification of science through the Wertfreiheit of its practitioners. It is then argued that when we add (4), a set of general methodological norms, and (5), the ideal of academic freedom or autonomy, we have before us an ?ideology of cognitive activity? which it is now important to study, historically, critically, and constructively. For some such ideology is as indispensable as internal and external demands for legitimation (of science, etc.) are now both inescapable and justified. (shrink)
Throughout the ages writers have been concerned with contemporary problems. Their reflection became part of their literary works. By tracing and interpretating mathematical references in literature information can be obtained: on the attitude towards mathematics, on its prestige in society, its cultural recognition and its significance for education. This article analyses the implication of mathematics in some exemplary novels, essays and theoretical writings on literature of authors from the 17th to the 20th century.
The principle of non-injury toward all living beings (ahimsā) in India was originally a rule restraining human interaction with the natural environment. I compare two discourses on the relationship between humans and the natural environment in ancient India: the discourse of the priestly sacrificial cult and the discourse of the renunciants. In the sacrificial cult, all living beings were conceptualized as food. The renunciants opposed this conception and favored the ethics of non-injury toward all beings (plants, animals, etc.), which meant (...) that no living being should be food for another. The first represented an ethics modeled on the power that the eater has over the eaten while the second attempted to overturn this food chain ethics. The ethics of non-injury ascribed ultimate value to every individual living being. As a critique of the individualistic ethics of noninjury, a holistic ethics was developed that prescribed the unselfish performance of one’s duties for the sake of the functioning of the natural system. Vegetarianismbecame a popular adaptation of the ethics of non-injury. These dramatic changes in ethics in ancient India are suggestive for the possibility of dramatic changes in environmental ethics today. (shrink)
Abstract This paper analyses the uses of the word ?nature? (in P?li pakati, Sanskrit prakrti) in the P?li scripture. In the P?li scripture pakati is never used as a concept of nature considered as a unity or an entity, or as a material cause, as in the S?mkhya and Yoga, but it describes acts which are considered natural, regular and usual. The article tries to answer three questions. 1. What is the meaning of the term pakati in the P?li scripture? (...) 2. What is the relation between the term pakati in the P?li scripture and the Sanskrit term prakrti in general and as a technical term in the S?mkhya and Yoga schools, in the Medical schools and in the Jain scriptures? 3. What view of nature does analysis of the term reveal? (shrink)
International companies expanding and competing in an increasingly global context are currently discovering the necessity of sharing knowledge across geographical and disciplinary borders. Yet, especially in such contexts, sharing knowledge is inherently complex and problematic in practice. Inspired by recent contributions in science studies, this paper argues that knowledge sharing in a global context must take into account the heterogeneous and locally embedded nature of knowledge. In this perspective, knowledge cannot easily be received through advanced information technologies, but must always (...) be achieved in practice. Empirically, this paper draws from two contrasting initiatives in a major international oil and gas company for improving its current ways of sharing knowledge between geographically distributed sites and disciplines involved in well planning and drilling. The contrasting cases reveal that while a shared database system failed to improve knowledge sharing across contexts, a flexible arrangement supporting collaboration and use of different representation of knowledge was surprisingly successful. Based on these findings the paper underscores and conceptualizes various triangulating practices conducted in order to achieve knowledge across borders. More accurately these practices are central for individuals’ and communities’ abilities to: (i) negotiate ambiguous information, (ii) filter, combine, and integrate various heterogeneous sources of information, and (iii) judge the trustworthiness of information. Concerning the design and use of information technologies this implies that new designs need to facilitate triangulating practices of users rather than just providing advanced platforms (“digital junkyards”) for sharing information. (shrink)
This article is an attempt to evaluate the Oregon plan from the perspective of a Scandinavian national health care system. The Nordic welfare states are marked by a strong emphasis on equality. As an example of an egalitarian system we present the Norwegian health care model in part one. In part two, the arguments in favor of a one tier system in Norway are presented and compared to Oregon's two tier system. Although we argue, in part three, that a comparison (...) of the degree of explicitness in the prioritization process shows that Norway has much to learn from Oregon, we do believe that the Norwegian system has some attractive elements that may function as an important corrective. In part four we present the Norwegian Guidelines for priority-setting and discuss the weight assigned to the severity of disease criterion. It is argued that the exclusion of information about the severity of disease partly explains the counterintuitive ranking of treatment-condition pairs in Oregon's initial method based on the principle of health maximization. A normative analysis of the conflicting norms of efficiency and equality of results is called for. The final part of the paper is devoted to the problem of rigidity. Henry J. Aaron has argued that the Oregon system is insensitive to inter-individual variations within each diagnosis-treatment pair. This objection is a severe one, since the system might end up treating patients unfairly on the individual level. To overcome this problem, we suggest a selection rule that should be more capable of dealing with the problem of rigidity. Keywords: equality, fairness, one tier system, prioritization, severity of disease, rigidity CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
A survey of recent research reveals that there is a growing interest in knowledge regarding the opinions and attitudes toward ethics amongst business school faculty members. Based on an empirical study conducted in Norway we address the following issue: “What do faculty members of the Norwegian Business Schools consider to be their responsibilities in preparing their students for leading positions in public and private organizations?” Moving on to interpreting the results from the survey, we discuss the empirical findings by comparing (...) the data using four different theoretical perspectives; neo-classical economics, strategic management, corporate social responsibility and socio-economics. The implications are highlighted. (shrink)
THE KEYNESIAN REVOLUTION AND ITS CRITICS: ISSUES OF THEORY AND POLICY FOR THE MONETARY PRODUCTION ECONOMY by Gordon A. Fletcher New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987. 348pp., $35.00 A commonplace of the history of economic thought, repeated by Fletcher, holds that Keynes was the first economist of the 1930s to reject Say's Law of Markets. It is argued that Fletcher ignores many of Keynes's contemporaries, especially those influenced by Knut Wicksell, who disagreed with Say but who used a framework (...) for monetary analysis that was sounder in all respects than that of Keynes's General Theory. (shrink)
The idea that Heidegger's thinking is essentially anti-sociological is very widespread and seems to be commonly accepted. Nevertheless, a closer examination of Heidegger's reading of Aristotle, particularly in his early Freiburg and Marburg lectures, provides a quite different picture. In his attempt to overcome the shortcomings of Husserl's phenomenology, by studying Aristotle Heidegger makes an important discovery. Being sociological is an existential feature of human being. Here, the lecture of the summer term 1924, Grundbegriffe der aristotelischen Philosophie (Fundamental concepts of (...) Aristotelian Philosophy), which mainly deals with Aristotle's Rhetoric, is of special importance. In analyzing the phenomenon of speaking within the polis as some kind of apophantic language, Heidegger hits upon the fact that the political is grounded in social communication. The idea of human being as existing within a context of communication developed in this lecture is an important starting point of Heidegger's later philosophy of language. (shrink)
Science can (also) be studied as responsible and rational human activity, guided and legitimated by its own normative system: a finite and ordered set of norms and values for agents in a given field of activity. Such norms of inquiry are needed for a rationality requirement of science, which also presupposes a partial agreement on (acceptance of, respect for) these norms between scientists and their social environment. The notions of scientific accountability, autonomy, and freedom of inquiry are elucidated by means (...) of an action-theoretic definition of science and by a certain use of the distinction between internal methodological) and external norms of science. (shrink)
In everyday conversations we often convey information that goes above and beyond what we strictly speaking say: exaggeration and irony are obvious examples. H.P. Grice introduced the technical notion of a conversational implicature in systematizing the phenomenon of meaning one thing by saying something else. In introducing the notion, Grice drew a line between what is said, which he understood as being closely related to the conventional meaning of the words uttered, and what is conversationally implicated, which can be inferred (...) from the fact that an utterance has been made in context. Since Grice’s seminal work, conversational implicatures have become one of the major research areas in pragmatics. This article introduces the notion of a conversational implicature, discusses some of the key issues that lie at the heart of the recent debate, and explicates tests that allow us to reliably distinguish between semantic entailments and conventional implicatures on the one hand and conversational implicatures on the other. (shrink)
In his seminal essay “Freedom and Resentment,” Strawson drew attention to the role of such emotions as resentment, moral indignation, and guilt in our moral and personal lives. According to Strawson, these reactive attitudes are at once constitutive of moral blame and inseparable from ordinary interpersonal relationships. On this basis, he concluded that relinquishing moral blame isn’t a real possibility for us, given our commitment to personal relationships. If well founded, this conclusion puts the traditional free-will debate in a new (...) light. In particular, in so far as incompatibilists believe that we can or should forgo moral blame if determinism is true, their stance may seem out of touch with our emotional reality. Here I examine Strawson’s claim that the reactive attitudes are inseparable from ordinary interpersonal relationships. Strawson says surprisingly little to support this intriguing claim, and thus far no argument for it has emerged in the literature. My aim is to remedy this. Specifically, I set out an argument for a suitably formulated version of the inseparability claim, an argument that appeals to the relationship between the reactive attitudes and other elements of our emotional lives. I then show how this argument helps to answer an important recent challenge to Strawson’s position. If I am right, there is good reason to doubt that the reforms envisaged by some incompatibilists, reforms to our blame-related practices, are a real possibility for us. (shrink)
I argue that Frege's so-called "concept 'horse' problem" is not one problem but many. When these separate sub-problems are distinguished, some are revealed to be more tractable than others. I further argue that there is, contrary to a widespread scholarly assumption originating with Peter Geach, little evidence that Frege was concerned with the general problem of the inexpressibility of logical category distinctions in writings available to Wittgenstein. In consequence, Geach is mistaken in thinking that in the Tractatus Wittgenstein simply accepts (...) from Frege certain lessons about the inexpressibility of logical category distinctions and the say-show distinction. In truth, Wittgenstein drew his own morals about these matters, quite possibly as the result of reflecting on how the general problem of the inexpressibility of logical category distinctions arises in Frege's writings (whether Frege was aware of it or not), but also, quite possibly, by seeing certain glimmerings of these doctrines in the writings of Russell. (shrink)
In his paper ``What is Structural Realism?'' James Ladyman drew a distinction between epistemological structural realism and metaphysical (or ontic) structural realism. He also drew a suggestive analogy between the perennial debate between substantivalist and relationalist interpretations of spacetime on the one hand, and the debate about whether quantum mechanics treats identical particles as individuals or as `non-individuals' on the other. In both cases, Ladyman's suggestion is that an ontic structural realist interpretation of the physics might be just what is (...) needed to overcome the stalemate. The main thesis of this paper is that, whatever the interpretative difficulties of generally covariant spacetime physics are, they do not support or suggest structural realism. In particular, I hope to show that there is in fact no analogy that supports a similar interpretation of the metaphysics of spacetime points and of quantum particles. (shrink)
Mackie drew attention to the distinct semantic and metaphysical claims made by metaethical realists, arguing that although our evaluative discourse is cognitive and objective, there are no objective evaluative facts. This distinction, however, also opens up a reverse possibility: that our evaluative discourse is antirealist, yet objective values do exist. I suggest that this seemingly farfetched possibility merits serious attention; realism seems committed to its intelligibility, and, despite appearances, it isn‘t incoherent, ineffable, inherently implausible or impossible to defend. I argue (...) that reflection on this possibility should lead us to revise our understanding of the debate between realists and antirealists. It is not only that the realist‘s semantic claim is insufficient for realism to be true, as Mackie argued; it‘s not even necessary. Robust metaethical realism is best understood as making a purely metaphysical claim. It is thus not enough for antirealists to show that our discourse is antirealist. They must directly attack the realist‘s metaphysical claim. (shrink)
Philosophy and the Frontiers of the Political is the title of a biographical-theoretical interview between Emanuela Fornari and Étienne Balibar. The interview falls into three parts. The first part retraces the theoretical and intellectual climate in which Balibar received his education in the early 1960s: in this context the study of classical thinkers such as Spinoza went hand in hand with a radical rethinking of the relations between politics and philosophy, conducted in the context of an attempt to provide a (...) critical reconstruction of Marxism that drew upon the revolutionary perspective of structuralism. Through his friendship and association with his teacher Louis Althusser, Balibar developed a specific conception of philosophy as a "Kampfplatz," or battle-field, where we must struggle to forge a significant relationship between theory and practice, or between philosophy and politics. The second part of the interview focusses on questions of European nationalism and "neo-racism," and the way in which these questions come to explode the classical perspective of Marxism. In this context Balibar discusses his intellectual relations with Jacques Derrida and with Immanuel Wallerstein, and his attitude to the latter's theory of the "system-world." Balibar explains how his own conception of the relation between ideological formations and processes of accumulation can be described as a disjunctive synthesis: as a heterogeneous union of problems that have no determining "final instance." Finally, the third part of the interview is dedicated to a discussion of "cosmopolitics" and the role of Europe in the transition from the modern system of nation states to the new transnational and postnational constellation. Balibar's approach essentially undertakes to reactivate, in the context of global modernity, a Machiavellian conception of "conflictual democracy" which identifies the very core of the democratic principle in the constant interaction between the logic of conflict and the logic of institutions. (shrink)
Philosophy of time, as practiced throughout the last hundred years, is both language- and existence-obsessed. It is language-obsessed in the sense that the primary venue for attacking questions about the nature of time—in sharp contrast to the primary venue for questions about space—has been philosophy of language. Although other areas of philosophy have long recognized that there is a yawning gap between language and the world, the message is spreading slowly in philosophy of time. Since twentieth-century analytic philosophy as a (...) whole often drew metaphysical conclusions from arguments with linguistic premises, philosophy of time perhaps may be forgiven for this transgression. Connected to this language-saturated way of doing philosophy, however, is a hitherto unnoticed obsession, equally unhealthy; namely, an obsession with existence. Existence draws the very lines of debate in philosophy of time: “eternalists” believe past, present and future events all ‘equally’ exist, “possibilists” believe that past and present events exist, and “presentists” believe that only present events enjoy this lofty status. These differences between what events exist as of some other time are supposed to explain the main puzzles surrounding time. This fixation on existence, I submit, is a lingering symptom of the language-saturated days of philosophy of time. And just as linguistic issues such as the ineliminability of tense fail to elucidate time and temporal experience, so too do the “existence debates” fail to explain much of what is interesting about time. Philosophers should have more to say about such a fascinating topic. (shrink)
In the Begriffschrift Frege drew no distinction—or anyway signalled no importance to the distinction—between quantifying into positions occupied by what he called eigennamen—singular terms—in a sentence and quantification into predicate position or, more generally, quantification into open sentences—into what remains of a sentence when one or more occurrences of singular terms are removed. He seems to have conceived of both alike as perfectly legitimate forms of generalisation, each properly belonging to logic. More accurately: he seems to have conceived of quantification (...) as such as an operation of pure logic, and in effect to have drawn no distinction between first-order, second-order and higherorder quantification in general. (shrink)
It has been suggested that our experiences of embodiment in general appear to constitute an experiential ground for dualist philosophy and that this is particularly so with experiences of dissociation, in which one feels estranged from one’s body. Thus, Drew Leder argues that these play “a crucial role in encouraging and supporting Cartesian dualism” as they “seem to support the doctrine of an immaterial mind trapped inside an alien body”. In this paper I argue that as dualism does not capture (...) the character of such experiences there is not even an apparent separation of self and body revealed here and that one’s body is experienced as uncanny rather than alien. The general relationship between our philosophical theorizing and the phenomenology of lived experience is also considered. (shrink)
In Reference and Reflexivity, John Perry tries to reconcile referentialism with a Fregean concern for cognitive significance. His trick is to supplement referential content with what he calls ‘‘reflexive’’ content. Actually, there are several levels of reflexive content, all to be distinguished from the ‘‘official,’’ referential content of an utterance. Perry is convinced by two arguments for referentialism, the ‘‘counterfactual truth-conditions’’ and the ‘‘same-saying’’ arguments, but he also acknowledges the force of two Fregean arguments against it, arguments that pose the (...) ‘‘coreference’’ and the ‘‘no-reference’’ problems. He sees these as genuine problems for referentialism and does not share Howard Wettstein’s (1986) view that semantics has ‘‘rested on a mistake,’’ the mistake of thinking that semantics is obliged to come to grips with ‘‘cognitive significance’’ and, in particular, to explain the fact that coreferring terms can differ in cognitive significance and that terms lacking in reference can still have cognitive significance. Perry points out that ‘‘there is nothing in [the arguments for referentialism] to show that the official content, rather than the reflexive content, is the key to understanding the cognitive motivation and impact of utterances’’ (Perry 2001, 193).1 In other words, ‘‘a theory of direct reference provides no argument for ignoring reflexive content, and, properly understood, has no motivation for searching for such an argument.’’ Thus Perry uses the notion of reflexive content to complement referentialism with a theory of cognitive significance. Frege drew a fundamental distinction between the reference of a term and the means by which its reference is determined. In his view, however, it is not the references themselves but the means by which they are determined that enter into propositions (‘‘Thoughts’’) expressed by sentences in which the terms occur. So we might call Frege an ‘indirect reference’ theorist. Echoing the introduction to Kaplan’s ‘‘Afterthoughts’’ (1989a), Perry stresses that ‘direct’, as it occurs in ‘direct reference’, does not imply that ‘‘the mechanism of reference is unmediated by the relation of fitting identifying conditions’’ (188).. (shrink)
Kant famously insisted that “the idea of the will of every rational being as a universally legislative will” is the supreme principle of morality. Recent interpreters have taken this emphasis on the self-legislation of the moral law as evidence that Kant endorsed a distinctively constructivist conception of morality according to which the moral law is a positive law, created by us. But a closer historical examination suggests otherwise. Kant developed his conception of legislation in the context of his opposition to (...) theological voluntarist accounts of morality and his engagement with conceptions of obligation found in his Wolffian predecessors. In order to defend important claims about the necessity and immediacy of moral obligation, Kant drew and refined a distinction between the legislation and authorship of the moral law in a way that precludes standard theological voluntarist theories and presents an obstacle to recent constructivist interpretations. A correct understanding of Kant's development and use of this distinction reveals that his conception of legislation leaves little room for constructivist moral anti-realism. (shrink)
In recounting his discovery of special relativity, Einstein recalled a debt to the philosophical writings of Hume and Mach. I review the path Einstein took to special relativity and urge that, at a critical juncture, he was aided decisively not by any specific doctrine of space and time, but by a general account of concepts that Einstein found in Hume and Mach’s writings. That account required that concepts, used to represent the physical, must be properly grounded in experience. In so (...) far as they extended beyond that grounding, they were fictional and to be abjured (Mach) or at best tolerated (Hume). Einstein drew a different moral. These fictional concepts revealed an arbitrariness in our physical theorizing and may still be introduced through freely chosen definitions, as long as these definitions do not commit us to false presumptions. After years of failed efforts to conform electrodynamics to the principle of relativity and with his frustration mounting, Einstein applied this account to the concept of simultaneity. The resulting definition of simultaneity provided the reconceptualization that solved the problem in electrodynamics and led directly to the special theory of relativity. (shrink)
Aristotle was the first thinker to devise a logical system. He drew upon the emphasis on universal definition found in Socrates, the use of reductio ad absurdum in Zeno of Elea, claims about propositional structure and negation in Parmenides and Plato, and the body of argumentative techniques found in legal reasoning and geometrical proof. Yet the theory presented in Aristotle’s five treatises known as the Organon—the Categories, the De interpretatione, the Prior Analytics, the Posterior Analytics, and the Sophistical Refutations—goes far (...) beyond any of these. (shrink)
This paper describes the historical background to contemporary discussions of empathy and rationality. It looks at the philosophy of mind and its implications for action explanation and the philosophy of history. In the nineteenth century, the concept of empathy became prominent within philosophical aesthetics, from where it was extended to describe the way we grasp other minds. This idea of empathy as a way of understanding others echoed through later accounts of historical understanding as involving re-enactment, noticeably that of R. (...) G. Collingwood. For much of the late twentieth century, philosophers of history generally neglected questions about action explanation. In the philosophy of mind, however, Donald Davidson inspired widespread discussions of the role of folk psychology and rationality in mental causation and the explanation of actions, and some philosophers of history drew on his ideas to reconsider issues related to empathy. Today, philosophers inspired by the discovery of mirror neurons and the theory of mind debate between theory theorists and simulation theorists are again making the concept of empathy central to philosophical analyses of action explanation and to historical understanding. (shrink)
We present a series of arguments for logical nativism, focusing mainly on the meaning of disjunction in human languages. We propose that all human languages are logical in the sense that the meaning of linguistic expressions corresponding to disjunction (e.g. English or , Chinese huozhe, Japanese ka ) conform to the meaning of the logical operator in classical logic, inclusive- or . It is highly implausible, we argue, that children acquire the (logical) meaning of disjunction by observing how adults use (...) disjunction. Findings from studies of child language acquisition and from cross-linguistic research invite the conclusion that children do not learn to be logical—it comes naturally to them. (shrink)
In _On The Soul_ (425a-b), Aristotle drew a distinction between those qualities that are perceptible only via a single sense and those that are perceptible by more than one. The latter qualities he called.
I argue that clinical medicine can best be understood not as a purified science but as a hermeneutical enterprise: that is, as involved with the interpretation of texts. The literary critic reading a novel, the judge asked to apply a law, must arrive at a coherent reading of their respective texts. Similarly, the physician interprets the text of the ill person: clinical signs and symptoms are read to ferret out their meaning, the underlying disease. However, I suggest that the hermeneutics (...) of medicine is rendered uniquely complex by its wide variety of textual forms. I discuss four in turn: the experiential text of illness as lived out by the patient; the narrative text constituted during history-taking; the physical text of the patient's body as objectively examined; the instrumental text constructed by diagnostic technologies. I further suggest that certain flaws in modern medicine arise from its refusal of a hermeneutic self-understanding. In seeking to escape all interpretive subjectivity, medicine has threatened to expunge its primary subject — the living, experiencing patient. (shrink)
Deciding on a topic for the Presidential Address is no easy task. There seem to be a number of models. First, the light philosophical pastiche – the philosophical equivalent of a soufflé. Not only has that been done before1, but I could not think of a subject. Second, the standard philosophical paper, focusing in tightly on some tiny part of the picture – but there are plenty of those around (too many, as I shall later argue!) and, in any case, (...) a Presidential Address appears to demand something special. Third, the philosophical world-view, panning back to get the whole picture. That might better fit the special nature of the occasion, but it is beyond my skill to outline the big picture in a small compass. Fourth, the humorous after-dinner speech, full of wit, satire, and repartee. My predecessor, Greg Ray, delivered the perfect example last year, and one cannot improve on perfection. So that leaves what we might call the broad rumination, the reflective musing on the state of the discipline. The style of pondering whose generic title might be: Whither Philosophy? This genre is beset with dangers, as Greg so wittily showed us. It is hard to avoid being pompous, vacuous, or fatuous – or even all three at once. But I’ll have to risk that. I had been wondering for a while why I find a good deal of contemporary philosophy so tedious when someone drew my attention to a column by Jo Wolff (Head of the Philosophy Department at University College London) in a British newspaper. It begins. (shrink)
Hobbes's relation to the later Aristotelian tradition, in both its scholastic and its humanists variants, has been increasingly explored by scholars. However, on two fundamental points (the naturalness of the city and the use of the matter/form distinction in the political works), there is more to be said in this connection. A close examination of a range of late Renaissance commentaries on Aristotle's Politics shows that they elucidate a picture of pre-civic human nature that had (contrary to Hobbes's implication) much (...) in common with that of Hobbes. Moreover, they deployed the matter-form distinction in their analysis of the city or civitas in ways that are in important respects similar to Hobbes's procedure in De cive and Leviathan . The paper concludes that Hobbes drew on this tradition in multiple ways while at the same time undermining some of its principal conclusions; Hobbes was in no sense an 'Aristotelian' even if his philosophy has substantial debts to Aristotelianism. (shrink)
About thirty years ago, I suffered from severe back pain. For some weeks I lay in a body cast, dazed by pain-killers and muscle-relaxants. When I was recovering, I decided one day that I needed exercise. Very gingerly I got on my bike and, feeling rather sorry for myself, rode slowly up Mundy Pond Road. I drew abreast of a group of boys going home from school for lunch. One of them was holding a stick, and he suddenly turned and (...) stuck it into the spokes of my front wheel. Since I was moving very slowly, I easily stopped before it threw me off or damaged the bike. Perhaps unwisely, I challenged them: "Do you think that's funny?" One of the boys stepped forward, laughed and brazenly relied, "Yes, I do!" Enraged, my hand reached out and slapped him across the face. (shrink)
While the enormous influence of Martin Heidegger's thought in Japan and China is well documented, the influence on him from East-Asian sources is much lesser known. This remarkable study shows that Heidegger drew some of the major themes of his philosophy--on occasion almost word for word--from German translations of Chinese Daoist and Zen Buddhist classics.
: This essay explores how early approaches in feminist aesthetics drew on concepts honed in the field of feminist legal theory, especially conceptions of oppression and equality. I argue that by importing these feminist legal concepts, many early feminist accounts of how art is political depended largely on a distinctly liberal version of politics. I offer a critique of liberal feminist aesthetics, indicating ways recent work in the field also turns toward critical feminist aesthetics as an alternative.
It seems reasonable to say that the basic problem of Husserl’s phenomenology is the possibility for the mind to get related to the world. In Brentano’s view, intentionality was a universal characterization of the mental. In Husserl’s, it becomes as well the framework of the possible contact of the mind with the world. As Hilary Putnam observes: “‘Brentano’s thesis’ was meant by him to serve as a way of showing the autonomy of mentalistic psychology (‘act-psychology’) by showing that the mental (...) was separate from the real (external) world. Brentano himself, to my knowledge, never used the word ‘intentionality’, nor did he use the terms ‘intentional inexistence’ and ‘intentional existence’ to refer to the relation between mind and the real world, as philosophers have come to use the word ‘intentionality’ after Husserl.”1 * I owe my understanding of what Wittgenstein says on ‘intentionality’ to Bouveresse 1987, p.279-302. My further criticism of ‘intentional objects’, and my present conception of intentionality, was also deeply influenced by Vincent Descombes’s realist strand of intentionalism. See Descombes 1995 and 1996. John McDowell (see “Intentionality and interiority in Wittgenstein”, reprinted in McDowell 1998a, 297-321, among other papers) gave me the decisive clue as to the problem of the basic ‘harmony’ between thought and reality in Wittgenstein, and illuminating discussions with Jean-Philippe Narboux, in particular on the occasion of a lecture in which he presented a sharp criticism of Husserl’s conception of indexicality, helped me to measure up all the difficulty of a comparison with Husserl. See Narboux 2008. As to my awareness of the trouble one may have ‘meaning’ and sticking to a use, I owe it to Stanley Cavell’s radical reading of Wittgenstein that shows that realism makes room for scepticism, far from extinguishing it, and Sandra Laugier’s sensitive research in the field of moral philosophy, following in the footsteps of Cora Diamond, drew my attention to the role some experiences play in overcoming such difficulty (as the lack of such experiences can make it a dead-end).. (shrink)