: This project draws on scholarship of feminist and womanist scholars, and on results of interviews with scientists currently involved in molecular genetics. With reference to Margaret Urban Walker's "practices of moral responsibility," the social practices of molecular geneticists are explored, and strategies identified through which scientists negotiate their moral responsibilities. The implications of this work for scientists and for feminists are discussed.
Senior molecular geneticists were interviewed about their perceptions of the ethical and social implications of genetic knowledge. Inductive analysis of these interviews identified a number of strategies through which the scientists negotiated their moral responsibilities as they participated in generating knowledge that presents difficult ethical questions. These strategies included: further analysis and application of scientific method; clarification of multiple roles; negotiation with the public through public debate, institutional processes of funding, ethics committees and legislation; and personal responsibility.
In his paper "knowledge of other minds" ("review of metaphysics", Volume ix, June, 1956, Pages 565-568), Nicholaskaralis attempts to demonstrate that numerically identical acts of thought can occur in different minds. The cogency of his arguments is questioned. It is contended that some of them rest on a confusion between what is known and what is true.
For the last several decades, philosophers have wrestled with the proper place of religion in liberal societies. Usually, the debates among these philosophers have started with the articulation of various conceptions of liberalism and then proceeded to locate religion in the context of these conceptions. In the process, however, too little attention has been paid to the way religion is conceived. Drawing on the work of Robert Audi and Nicholas Wolterstorff, two scholars who are often read as holding opposing (...) views on these issues, I argue that, for the purposes of their argument about liberalism, both have implicitly accepted a concept of religion that has come under severe attack in recent work on the subject. Namely, they have accepted a concept of religion that identifies religion primarily with belief, ritual practice, and ecclesial institutions. Following recent scholarship, I suggest that religion is better conceived as a kind of culture. To conclude the essay, I gesture toward what the beginnings of a re-visioned debate about religion and liberal society might look like if one started from this revised conception of religion. (shrink)
Section 1 of this essay distinguishes between four interpretations of Socratic intellectualism, which are, very roughly: (1) a version in which on any given occasion desire, and then action, is determined by what we think will turn out best for us, that being what we all, always, really desire; (2) a version in which on any given occasion action is determined by what we think will best satisfy our permanent desire for what is really best for us; (3) a version (...) formed by the assimilation of (2) to (1), labelled the ‘standard’ version’ by Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith, and treated by them as a single alternative to their own interpretation; and (4) Brickhouse and Smith’s own version. Section 2 considers, in particular, Brickhouse and Smith’s handling of the ‘appetites and passions’, which is the most distinctive feature of interpretation (4). Section 3 discusses Brickhouse and Smith’s defence of ‘Socratic studies’ in its historical context, and assesses the contribution made by their distinctive interpretation of ‘the philosophy of Socrates’. One question raised in this section, and one that is clearly fundamental to the existence of ‘Socratic studies’, is how different Brickhouse and Smith’s Socrates turns out to be from Plato himself, i.e., the Plato of the post-‘Socratic’ dialogues; to which the answer offered is that on Brickhouse and Smith’s interpretation Socratic moral psychology becomes rather less distinguishable from its ‘Platonic’ counterpart—as that is currently understood—than it is on the interpretation(s) they oppose. (shrink)
In response to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Nicholas of Cusa wrote De pace fidei defending a commitment to religious tolerance on the basis of the notion that all diverse rites are but manifestations of one true religion. Drawing on a discussion of why Nicholas of Cusa is unable to square the two objectives of arguing for pluralistic tolerance and explaining the contents of the one true faith, we outline why theological pluralism is compromised by its own (...) meta-exclusivism. (shrink)
This introduction sets the stage for four papers on Nicholas Wolterstorff's Justice: Rights and Wrongs , written by Harold Attridge, Oliver O'Donovan, Richard Bernstein, and myself. In his book, Wolterstorff defends an account of human rights. The first section of this introduction distinguishes Wolterstorff's account of rights from the alternative account of rights against which he contends. The alternative account draws much of its power from a historical narrative according to which theory and politics supplanted earlier ways of thinking (...) about justice. The second section sketches that narrative and Wolterstorff's counter-narrative. The third section draws together the main points of Wolterstorff's own account. (shrink)
Nicholas Wolterstorff: Practices of belief: selected essays, volume 2 (Terence Cuneo, ed.) Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 255-258 DOI 10.1007/s11153-011-9287-4 Authors Scott A. Davison, Philosophy Program, Morehead State University, 150 University Blvd., 354A Rader Hall, Morehead, KY 40351, USA Journal International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Online ISSN 1572-8684 Print ISSN 0020-7047 Journal Volume Volume 70 Journal Issue Volume 70, Number 3.
This paper is a reaction to the book “Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom”, whose central concern is the philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell. I distinguish and discuss three concerns in Maxwell’s philosophy. The first is his critique of standard empiricism (SE) in the philosophy of science, the second his defense of aim-oriented rationality (AOR), and the third his philosophy of mind. I point at some problematic aspects of Maxwell’s rebuttal of SE and of his philosophy of mind and argue (...) in favor of AOR. (shrink)
Ever since Ernst Cassirer in his epochal book Individuum und Kosmos in der Philosophie der Renaissance1 labeled Nicholas of Cusa “the first modern thinker,” interest in Cusa’s thought has burgeoned. At various times, both before and after Cassirer, Nicholas has been viewed as a forerunner of Leibniz,2 a harbinger of Kant,3 a prefigurer of Hegel,4 indeed, as an anticipator of the whole of..
We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...) warming, modern armaments and the lethal character of modern warfare, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, immense inequalities of wealth and power across the globe, pollution of earth, sea and air, even the aids epidemic (aids being spread by modern travel). All these global problems have arisen because some of us have acquired unprecedented powers to act, via science and technology, without also acquiring the capacity to act wisely. (shrink)
Nicholas Maxwell takes on the ambitious project of explaining, both epistemologically and metaphysically, the physical universe and human existence within it. His vision is appealing; he unites the physical and the personal by means of the concepts of aim and value, which he sees as the keys to explaining traditional physical puzzles. Given the current popularity of theories of goal-oriented dynamical systems in biology and cognitive science, this approach is timely. But a large vision requires firm and nuanced arguments (...) to support it. Here Maxwell's work is weakest; his arguments for contingent mind-body identity and for free will, on which his larger theory depends, are inadequate. The book is valuable both for its comprehensive view of the human condition and its mysteries, and for its demonstration of the difficulties in making such a view coherent. (shrink)
I argue that Nicholas of Cusa agrees with Thomas Aquinas on the metaphysics of analogy in God, but differs on epistemology, taking a Platonic position against Aquinas’ Aristotelianism. As a result Cusa has to rethink Thomas’ solution to the problem of discourse about God. In De docta ignorantia he uses the mathematics of the infinite as a clue to the relations between a thing and its Measure and this allows him, he thinks, to adapt Aquinas’ approach to the problem (...) of his own epistemology. The resulting approach, I maintain, is coherent and reasonable if the metaphysical views behind it are. (shrink)
Three problems are raised for Nicholas Georgalis’s recent work: (1) a problem with regard to the supposed noninferential knowledge of minimal content, (2) a problem with the “necessary condition” Georgalis stipulates for the legitimate application of a first-person methodology to a science of the mind, and (3) a problem with regard to denying phenomenal content to intentional acts.
This volume not only provides the first critical edition with an English translation of the famous correspondence of Nicholas of Autrecourt (c. 1300-1369), but also an assessment of his views and the views of those to whom the letters were ...
On October 11, 2003, the Talk Reason website posted an article by Nicholas Matzke titled "Evolution in (Brownian) Space: A Model for the Origin of the Bacterial Flagellum" (http://www.talkreason.org/articles/flagellum.cfm). Talk Reason advertises itself as a website that presents a collection of articles which aim to defend genuine science from numerous attempts by the new crop of creationists to replace it with theistic pseudo-science under various disguises and names." The most obvious target here is intelligent design. Indeed, Matzke's article attempts (...) to rebut one of the main challenges that intelligent design has raised against Darwinian evolution, namely, how to explain the emergence of irreducibly complex biochemical machines like the bacterial flagellum. (shrink)
http://www.cla.umn.edu/jhopkins/ Taken together, twenty-four of these works constitute Nicholas of Cusa’s complete philosophical and theological treatises. They must be supplemented by studying his richly conceptual sermons, along with his ecclesiological and exegetical writings such as De Concordantia Catholica and Coniectura de Ultimis Diebus. His mathematical writings are also of interest, even though they are not of lasting importance, as Gottfried Leibniz rightly recognized.
Like any important philosophical work, De Docta Ignorantia cannot be understood by merely being read: it must be studied. For its main themes are so profoundly innovative that their author's exposition of them could not have anticipated, and therefore taken measures to prevent, all the serious misunderstandings which were likely to arise. Moreover, the themes are so extensively interlinked that a misunderstanding of any one of them will serve to obscure all the others as well. In such case, the mental (...) effort required of the reader-who-interprets must approximate the effort expended by the author-who- instructs. No words are more self-condemning than are those of John Wenck, at the conclusion of whose critique of De Docta Ignorantia we read: “Et sic est finis scriptis cursorie Heydelberg”: “And this is the end to what was written cursorily at Heidelberg.”1 Nicholas has not made his reader's task easy. For in spite of his claim to have explained matters “as clearly as I could” and to have avoided “all roughness of style,” many of his points escape even the diligent reader, since the explanation for them is either too condensed, or else too barbarously expressed, to be assuredly followed. And yet, from out of the vagueness, the ambiguity, the amphiboly, the enthymematic movement of thought, there emerges—for a reader patient enough to solliciter doucement les textes—an internally coherent pattern of reasoning. The present translation of this reasoning aims above all at accuracy.2 To this end the rendering is literal, though with no deliberate sacrifice of literate English expression. Only a literal translation (but not word for word) permits the subtle twists and turns of Nicholas's arguments to shine forth.3 The earlier, radically inaccurate rendering by Germain Heron (1954) distorts Nicholas's arguments— and thus belies history by making the author of De Docta Ignorantia appear as someone mindlessly unable to develop even the semblance of a systematic line of thought.. (shrink)
Nicholas Maxwell’s project, among others the character of its philosophical foundations, the notion of wisdom, and its radical post-Enlightenment scientism are discussed, and some doubts regard to it are presented. Above all, it is argued that Maxwell’s proposal of the establishing of world confederations of scientists standing above governments might lead to a totalitarian system.
The title of this present volume tends to be misleading. For it suggests that Nicholas’s didactic sermons are to be distinguished from his non-didactic ones—ones that are, say, more inspirational and less philosophical, or more devotional and less theological, or more situationally oriented and less Scripturally focused. Yet, in truth, all 293 of Nicholas’s sermons are highly didactic, highly pedagogical, highly exegetical.1 To be sure, there are inspirational and devotional elements; but they are subordinate to the primary purpose (...) of teaching. Likewise, only occasionally2 do the sermons show signs of addressing local circumstances that are idiosyncratic to the respective churches in Koblenz, Trier, Mainz, Augsburg, Frankfurt, Brixen, and Rome. Rather, their Scriptural focus more often than not yields up interpretations that are allegorical—or otherwise figurative—in a general way that allows Nicholas to draw inferences about the relationship between the intellect and the senses, about the unity of the virtues, the two natures in Christ, human freedom of will, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the inter-relationship of faith and reason, the triune nature of God, the role of conscience, the precepts of the natural law, time as the image of eternity, the four stages of a knowledge of God, Christ as Wisdom Incarnate, God as Beauty, the Holy Spirit as Love, … and so on. Each of the sermons contains more than one major theme, so that no sermon dwells at length upon a single topic so as to sound pedantic and inappropriately academic. On the contrary: in a limited measure Nicholas’s sermons tend to entice through their extensive display of original metaphor, of striking imagery, of fresh vocabulary, and of erudite knowledge of earlier writers such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Anselm, Albertus Magnus, and Meister Eckhart. (shrink)
Is there any such thing as the Cusan view of the relationship between faith and reason? That is, does Nicholas present us with clear concepts of fides and ratio and with a unique and consistent doctrine regarding their interconnection? If he does not, then the task before us is surely an impossible one: viz., the task of finding, describing, and setting in perspective a doctrine that never at all existed. For even with spectacles made of beryl stone or through (...) the looking glass of Lewis Carroll, we could not descry the totally nonexistent. Four lines of argument purport to show that the task before us is fundamentally impossible. 1. First of all, it may be argued (a) that Nicholas of Cusa can have a coherent doctrine of faith and reason only if he has a generally coherent theory of knowledge and (b) that since his theory of knowledge is generally incoherent, so too must be the aforesaid doctrine, which is an intrinsic part of the theory of knowledge. Let us grant—for the sake of the argument—the disputable logic of this reasoning, and let us focus on the question of whether Nicholas does or does not have a viable general theory of knowledge. Many philosophers judge the theory to be unviable. For example, the philosopher Hans Blumenberg writes: “I will not make what I believe would have to be a futile attempt at a unitary interpretation of the Cusan theory of knowledge. Here in particular the inner consistency of his philosophical accomplishment is doubtful. The reason for this can be specified: it lies, again, in the inability to deal with or successfully to evade the consequences of nominalism.”2 Other philosophers are quick to agree that Cusa’s epistemology consists of a host of glaring contradictions: Cusa’s theory of representative perception is said to be incompatible with his doctrine of homo mensura—i.e., with his doctrine that man is the measure of the reality that is perceived and conceived by him. Cusa’s notion that empirical concepts are abstracted from perceptual and imaginative images is asserted to be contradicted by his further claim that all concepts are derived a pri- ori from the mind itself.. (shrink)
With the English translation of the two Latin works contained in this present book, which is a sequel to Nicholas of Cusa: Metaphysical Speculations: [Volume One],1 I have now translated all2 of the major treatises and dialogues of Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464), except for De Concordantia Catholica.3 My plans call for collecting, in the near future, these translations into a two-volume paperback edition—i.e., into a Reader—that will serve, more generally, students of the history of philosophy and theology. Reasons (...) of economy dictate that footnotes and introductory analyses be left aside, so that the prospective Reader cannot be thought of as a replacement for the more scholarly previously published volumes. (shrink)
By permission of The Gale Group, this article is reprinted (here on-line) from “Nicholas of Cusa,” pp. 122-125, Volume 9 of the Dictionary of the Middle Ages, edited by Joseph R. Strayer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1987 ). The short bibliography at the end of the original article has been omitted; and the page numbers of the article are here changed.
Procuramos, neste artigo, apresentar a reflexão de Nicolau de Cusa sobre a Trindade, em dois dos seus textos: De coniecturis e De visione dei. Nesses dois livros, a Trindade recebe uma série de outras designações diferentes daquelas que aparecem nas citações bíblicas ou, como ele próprio afirma, diferentes das usadas pelos nossos doutores. Nesse sentido, objetivamos mostrar, também, que as expressões da Trindade podem ser lidas como expressões do amor no pensamento do filósofo alemão. We seek in this paper to (...) present the Nicholas of Cusa's reflexion on the Trinity in two of his works: De coniecturis and De visione dei. In these two books the Trinity receives several different designations from those which appear in biblical citations or, as he affirms, different designations from those used by our doctors. In this regard, our objective is to show also that the expressions of the Trinity can be read as the expressions of the Love in the thought of the German philosopher. (shrink)
This paper argues that Nicholas of Cusa’s investigation of infinity and incommensurability in De docta ignorantia was shaped by the mathematical innovations and thought experiments of fourteenth-century natural philosophy. Cusanus scholarship has overlooked this influence, in part because Raymond Klibansky’s influential edition of De docta ignorantia situated Cusa within the medieval Platonic tradition. However, Cusa departs from this tradition in a number of ways. His willingness to engage incommensurability and to compare different magnitudes of infinity distinguishes him from his (...) Platonic predecessors, who had appropriated the Pythagorean model of universal harmonies. Cusa’s penchant for representing quantity geometrically suggests not only that he has adopted the fourteenth-century method of latitude measurement, but that he accepts incommensurability as normative. Finally, Cusa’s persistent attention to mathematical inaccuracy and to his own learned ignorance suggests his kinship with the meta-critical, conjectural quality of fourteenth-century thought. (shrink)
This paper examines some aspects of the cultural codes implied in the iconography of St Nicholas (Santa Claus). The argument posits the iconography of St Nicholas as a vessel for capturing meanings and accumulating them in the construction of public culture. The discussion begins from the earliest developments of the Christian era and proceeds to contemporary depictions (imagology). The study is conducted on the basis of a representative selection of renditions of Saint Nicholas, including 350 pictures of (...) medieval representations (Western and Eastern Christianity), folk extensions and secular representations and it is theoretically grounded in the Tartu School of semiotics. (shrink)
The article discusses philosophical foundations of Nicholas Maxwell’s theory of scientific knowledge—Aim Oriented Empiricism (AOE). It is demonstrated that AOE evokes many illuminating, overshadowed by positivistic tradition, insights on the nature of cognition, language, and the relationship between philosophy and strict sciences. It corresponds with Jürgen Habermas’s theory of speech acts and R. G. Collingwood’s account of philosophical method. What calls serious doubts, though, is the very way in which Maxwell relates his conception to the project of wisdom society. (...) It is argued that while AOE considerably contributes to our understanding of science, wisdom and rationality, it nonetheless falls short of giving a convincing account of how the idea of wisdom society should be implemented. (shrink)
El artículo ofrece una interpretación de la controversial y aparentemente inaceptable caracterización de la poesía desarrollada por Platón en la República. Los objetivos principales de la discusión son: aclarar las motivaciones de dicha caracterización, desentrañar los múltiples y discontinuos argumentos que la componen, y evaluar críticamente sus aciertos y sus límites. Se concluye que no todas las posturas que adopta Platón frente a la poesía son insostenibles, y que cuando sí lo son las razones para ello resultan particularmente esclarecedoras. The (...) article offers an interpretation of the controversial and apparently unacceptable characterization of poetry developed in Plato's Republic. The main objectives of the discussion are: to clarify the motivations for such characterization, to disentangle the various and discontinuous arguments that compose it, and to critically evaluate its limitations and the extent of its defensibility. It is concluded that not all the positions adopted by Plato with respect to poetry are unsustainable, and that when they are, this is due to reasons which result particularly revealing. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the medieval posterity of the Aristotelian and Pyrrhonian treatments of the infinite regress argument. We show that there are some possible Pyrrhonian elements in Autrecourt's epistemology when he argues that the truth of our principles is merely hypothetical. By contrast, Buridan's criticisms of Autrecourt rely heavily on Aristotelian material. Both exemplify a use of scepticism.