The images from wars in the Middle East that haunt us are those of young women killing and torturing. Their media circulated stories share a sense of shock. They have both galvanized and confounded debates over feminism and women's equality. And, as Oliver argues in this essay, they share, perhaps subliminally, the problematic notion of women as both offensive and defensive weapons of war, a notion that is symptomatic of fears of women's "mysterious" powers.
In the post-Newtonian world motion is assumed to be a simple category which relates to the locomotion of bodies in space, and is usually associated only with physics. Philosophy, God and Motion shows that this is a relatively recent understanding of motion and that prior to the scientific revolution motion was a much broader and more mysterious category, applying to moral as well as physical movements. SimonOliver presents fresh interpretations of key figures in the history of western (...) thought including Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and Newton, examining the thinkers' handling of the concept of motion. Through close readings of seminal texts in ancient and medieval cosmology and early modern natural philosophy, the book moves from antique to modern times investigating how motion has been of great significance within theology, philosophy and science. Particularly important is the relation between motion and God, following Aristotle traditional doctrines of God have understood the divine as the 'unmoved mover' while post-Holocaust theologians have suggested that in order to be compassionate God must undergo the motion of suffering. Philosophy, God and Motion suggests that there may be an authentically theological, as well as a natural scientific understanding of motion. (shrink)
In Womanizing Nietzsche, Kelly Oliver uses an analysis of the position of woman in Nietzsche's texts to open onto the larger question of philosophy's relation to the feminine and the maternal. Offering readings from Nietzsche, Derrida, Irigaray, Kristeva, Freud and Lacan, Oliver builds an innovative foundation for an ontology of intersubjective relationships that suggests a new approach to ethics. Oliver argues that while Freud, Nietzsche and Derrida, in particular, attempt to open up philosophy to its other--the unconscious, (...) the body, difference, even the feminine--their attempts depend on closing off the possibility of a specifically feminine other. In this regard, Oliver maintains that none of these theorists have escaped the Hegelian model of intersubjectivity at the level of Lordship and Bondage. She suggests that the recent talk of the death of philosophy is a symptom of the exclusion of woman, the feminine and the maternal. By problematizing and reformulating the traditional philosophical association between the maternal and nature, Oliver presents an alternative model for intersubjectivity and ethics. (shrink)
A valuable intervention in Kristevan scholarship and a significant and exciting contribution in its own right to post-structuralist discussions of ethical and political agency and practice. Contributors: Judith Butler, Tina Chanter, Marilyn Edelstein, Jean Graybeal, Suzanne Guerlac, Alice Jardine, Lisa Lowe, Noelle McAfee, Norma Claire Moruzzi, Kelly Oliver, Tilottma Rajan, Jacqueline Rose, Allison Weir, Mary Bittner Wiseman, Ewa Ziarek.
This enterprising book, written in the spirit of William James, urges our appreciation of the intensely personal character of spiritual transcendence. Phil Oliver's work has important implications for specialists concerned with the Jamesian concept of "pure experience," and it illuminates significant interdisciplinary ties among philosophy, literature, and other intellectual domains.
This article critically engages Julia Kristeva’s latest work on maternal passion as an antidote to what she calls “feminine fatigue.” Oliver elaborates, criticizes, and expands Kristeva’s view that maternity can be a model for thinking about passion and its relation to creativity and even to ethics. She relates Kristeva’s thinking about feminine fatigue to contemporary feminism in the United States. .
This paper defends hedonic intentionalism, the view that all pleasures, including bodily pleasures, are directed towards objects distinct from themselves. Brentano is the leading proponent of this view. My goal here is to disentangle his significant proposals from the more disputable ones so as to arrive at a hopefully promising version of hedonic intentionalism. I mainly focus on bodily pleasures, which constitute the main troublemakers for hedonic intentionalism. Section 1 introduces the problem raised by bodily pleasures for hedonic intentionalism and (...) some of the main reactions to it. Sections 2 and 3 rebut two main approaches equating bodily pleasures with non- intentional episodes. More precisely, section 2 argues that bodily pleasures cannot be purely non-intentional self-conscious feelings, by relying on Brentano’s objection to Hamilton’s theory of pleasure. Section 3 argues that bodily pleasures cannot be non-intentional sensory qualities by relying on Brentano’s objections to Stumpf’s theory of pleasure. Section 4 develops a brentanian view of the intentionality of bodily pleasures by claiming bodily pleasures are directed at a sui generis class of sensory qualities. Section 5 presents an objection to Brentano’s later theory of pleasure according to which all sensory pleasures are directed at sensing acts. (shrink)
This paper defends the view that Newtonian forces are real, symmetrical and non-causal rela- tions. First, I argue that Newtonian forces are real; second, that they are relations; third, that they are symmetrical relations; fourth, that they are not species of causation. The overall picture is anti-Humean to the extent that it defends the existence of forces as external relations irreducible to spatio-temporal ones, but is still compatible with Humean approaches to causation (and others) since it denies that forces are (...) a species of causation. (shrink)
This thesis introduces and defends the Axiological Theory of Pleasure (ATP), according to which all pleasures are mental episodes which exemplify an hedonic value. According to the version of the ATP defended, hedonic goodness is not a primitive kind of value, but amounts to the final and personal value of mental episodes. Beside, it is argued that all mental episodes –and then all pleasures– are intentional. The definition of pleasures I arrived at is the following : -/- x is a (...) pleasure of a person P =df x is an intentional episode of P which is finally good for P. (shrink)
This paper argues (i) that the possibility of experiencing at once pleasures and unpleasures does not threaten the contrariety of pleasure and unpleasure. (ii) That the hedonic balance calculated by adding all pleasures and displeasures of a subject at a time yields an abstract result that does not correspond to any new psychological reality. There are no resultant feelings. (iii) That there are nevertheless, in some cases, sentimental fusions: when the co-occurent pleasures and unpleasures do not have any bodily location, (...) and that their intentional object vanishes, they truly fuse with each other, giving rise to sentimental mixtures in which the initial pleasures and unpleasures are no longer discernible. (shrink)
This thesis vindicates the common-sense intuition that touch is more objective than the other senses. The reason why it is so, it is argued, is that touch is the only sense essential of the experience of physical effort, and that this experience constitutes our only acquaintance with the mind-independence of the physical world. The thesis is divided in tree parts. Part I argues that sensory modalities are individuated by they proper objects, realistically construed. Part II argues that the proper objects (...) of touch are pressures and tensions, defined as pairs of real and antagonist forces. Part III argues that experiences of pressures are an essential part of the experience of physical effort and that the experience of physical effort (which amounts to the experience of resistance to our will), constitutes our only immediate access to the mind-independence of the physical world. (shrink)
I defend the view that the experience of resistance gives us a direct phenomenal access to the mind-independence of perceptual objects. In the first part, I address a humean objection against the very possibility of experiencing existential mind-independence. The possibility of an experience of mind-independence being secured, I argue in the second part that the experience of resistance is the only kind of experience by which we directly access existential mind-independence.
Our thesis is that proprioception is not a sixth sense distinct from the sense of touch, but a part of that tactile (or haptic) sense. The tactile sense is defined as the sense whose direct intentional objects are macroscopic mechanical properties. We first argue (against D. Armstrong, 1962; B. O'Shaughnessy 1989, 1995, 1998 and M. Martin, 1992, 1993,1995) that the two following claims are incompatible : (i) proprioception is a sense distinct from touch; (ii) touch is a bipolar modality, that (...) intrinsically has both a subjective-bodily pole and objective pole. We then argue that the bipolarity of touch should be preferred over the introduction of a sui generis sense of the body. We try to revive Aristotle suggestion according to which the body is the tactile medium (like the air for sight). Since this medium is constantly changing its shape, we need some specific channel of information about its state : proprioception, functionally defined, is that part of touch which informs us about the state of this changing tactile medium. Though muscular and articular receptors are usually dedicated to inform us about the mechanical properties of the tactile media, and the skin receptors about the mechanical properties of the tactile objects, this is not essentially so. In weighting or wielding experiments we access the weight of external objects even when skin sensitivity is absent; in prosthetic touch, the skin receptors play the role usually assigned to muscle and articular receptors, namely to inform us about the mechanical state of the tactile medium. So proprioception, anatomically defined, can play both the role of informing us about the tactile medium, or about the tactile objects. That other sensory modalities also rely on proprioceptive information should be understood in terms of cross-modal dependencies: of sight, hearing, smell, taste...on touch. (shrink)
Ingvar Johansson has argued that there are not only determinate universals, but also determinable ones. I here argue that this view is misguided by reviving a line of argument to the following effect: what makes determinates falling under a same determinable similar cannot be distinct from what makes them different. If true, some similarities — imperfect similarities between simple determinate properties — are not grounded in any kind of property-sharing. I suggest that determinables are better understood as maximal disjunctions of (...) brutely and imperfectly similar determinates. Such brute similarities have been thought to clash with realism about universals. I argue that this worry stems from the mistaken assumption that perfect and imperfect similarities are relations of a same kind. If exact and inexact resemblances are distinct and heterogeneous explananda, the realist about universals might explain the first thanks to property-sharing, while happily leaving imperfect similarities between properties unexplained. (shrink)
The concepts of animal, human, and rights are all part of a philosophical tradition that trades on foreclosing the animal, animality, and animals. Rather than looking to qualities or capacities that make animals the same as or different from humans, I investigate the relationship between the human and the animal. To insist, as animal rights and welfare advocates do, that our ethical obligations to animals are based on their similarities to us reinforces the type of humanism that leads to treating (...) animals—and other people—as subordinates. But, if recent philosophies of difference are any indication, we can acknowledge difference without acknowledging our dependence on animals, or without including animals in ethical considerations. Animal ethics requires rethinking both identity and difference by focusing on relationships and responsivity. My aim is not only to suggest an animal ethics but also to show how ethics itself is transformed by considering animals. (shrink)
My essay is framed by Hypatia's first special issue on Motherhood and Sexuality at one end, and by the most recent special issue (as of this writing) on the work of Iris Young, whose work on pregnant embodiment has become canonical, at the other. The questions driving this essay are: When we look back over the last twenty-five years, what has changed in our conceptions of pregnancy and maternity, both in feminist theory and in popular culture? What aspects of feminist (...) debates from the 1970s and 1980s are still relevant today? And, how might what appear to be radical shifts in popular perceptions of pregnancy actually continue traditional values that objectify and “abjectify” the maternal body?Here, I will focus on three central elements of the revaluation of pregnancy and maternity as they show up in feminist philosophy and in popular culture: 1. The relationship between pregnancy and sexuality, both in terms of pregnant sexuality and in terms of the pregnant body as sexual object; 2. The “choice” to become a mother as a “feminist choice”; 3. The temporality of pregnancy and birth as marking something like “women's time.”. (shrink)
Rom Harré thinks that the Emergence–Reduction debate, conceived as a vertical problem, is partly ill posed. Even if he doesn’t wholly reject the traditional definition of an emergent property as a property of a collection but not of its components, his point is that this definition doesn’t exhaust all the dimensions of emergence. According to Harré there is another kind (or dimension) of emergence, which we may call—somewhat paradoxically—“horizontal emergence”: two properties of a substance are horizontally emergent relative to each (...) other if they cannot be displayed in the same conditions. Contrary to vertical emergence, horizontal emergence is a symmetrical relation. Harré endorses horizontal emergentism. I argue that this position faces a principled difficulty: it makes it impossible to bind different horizontally emergent discourses in an interesting way. Physics and biology for example become “island” discourses, each speaking of a distinct kind of entities. The only way to ensure that two different discourses can relate to the same entity is to reintroduce verticality into the picture. (shrink)
Yah boo sucks to the grammer wot we lernt in skool! Grammar (and the bad old traditional logic) says that quantifier phrases such as 'nobody', 'everyone', 'all women', 'some men' and 'a man' are in the same category as names such as 'Milly', 'Molly' and 'Mandy'. So, prior to their first corrective lessons, students are awfully muddled, the first and fundamental problem being the Woozle hunt for somebody called 'nobody'. Hoorah for modern logic and logic teachers! The story used to (...) justify our current logics is entirely fictional. The claims about names and quantifier phrases in English are wildly false. Two of the heroes of modern logic, Russell and Hilbert, make the very mistakes which are falsely blamed on traditional logic. The villain, Meinong, turns out to have been working a different patch. Ideas ascribed to traditional grammar are modern inventions. Neither logicians nor grammarians can be trusted to tell the history of either grammar or logic. (shrink)
We present a plural logic that is as expressively strong as it can be without sacrificing axiomatisability, axiomatise it, and use it to chart the expressive limits set by axiomatisability. To the standard apparatus of quantification using singular variables our object-language adds plural variables, a predicate expressing inclusion (is/are/is one of/are among), and a plural definite description operator. Axiomatisability demands that plural variables only occur free, but they have a surprisingly important role. Plural description is not eliminable in favour of (...) quantification; on the contrary, quantification is definable in terms of it. Predicates and functors (function signs) can take plural as well as singular terms as arguments, and both many-valued and single-valued functions are expressible. The system accommodates collective as well as distributive predicates, and the condition for a predicate to be distributive is definable within it; similarly for functors. An essential part of the project is to demonstrate the soundness and completeness of the calculus with respect to a semantics that does without set-theoretic domains and in which the use of settheoretic extensions of predicates and functors is replaced by the sui generis relations and functions for which the extensions were at best artificial surrogates. Our metalanguage is designed to solve the difficulties involved in talking plurally about individuals and about the semantic values of plural items. (shrink)
I argue that although in "The Gender/Science System," Keller intends to formulate a middle ground position in order to open science to feminist criticisms without forcing it into relativism, she steps back into objectivism. While she endorses the dynamic-object model for science, she endorses the static-object model for philosophy of science. I suggest that by modeling her methodology for philosophy on her methodology for science her philosophy would better serve her feminist goals.
The thesis defended is that ordinary perception does not present us with the existential independence of its objects from itself. The phenomenology of ordinary perception is mute with respect to the subject-object distinction. I call this view "phenomenal neutral monism" : though neutral monists are wrong about the metaphysics of perception (in every perceptual episode, there is a distinction between the perceptual act and its perceptual objet), they are right about its phenomenology. I first argue that this view is not (...) as counter-intuitive as it might initially seem, by stressing (i) that the lack of presentation of the mind-independence of perceptual objects does not entail their being presented as mind-dependent. (ii) That phenomenal neutral monism is true of ordinary perception in the thin sense, but not in the thick sense (that includes expectations, guesses, feelings etc. grounded on thin perception). (iii) That the concept of a perceptual perspective or point of view should not be confused with the concept of the subject or intentional act of perception. Second, I propose three positive arguments in favor of phenomenal neutral monism. (i) It does justice to the recurring idea that only resistance to our will presents us with the world qua independent from us. (ii) It does justice to the recurring idea that the most natural attitude towards the perceptual world is that of being absorbed in it. (iii) It is entailed by the view that intentional acts are phenomenally transparent (a view held by Russell and Moore, and most contemporary representationalists) together with the view that in order to be presented with a relation (here the act-object distinction) one has to be presented with its relata. (shrink)
The history of the idea of predicate is the history of its emancipation. The lesson of this paper is that there are two more steps to take. The first is to recognize that predicates need not have a fixed degree, the second that they can combine with plural terms. We begin by articulating the notion of a multigrade predicate: one that takes variably many arguments. We counter objections to the very idea posed by Peirce, Dummett's Frege, and Strawson. We show (...) that the arguments of a multigrade predicate must be grouped into places, with perhaps several arguments occupying positions at a place. Variability may relate to places or positions. Russell's multiple judgement predicate turns out to be just one example of a family—‘is necessarily true of’, ‘is said of’, ‘is instantiated by’ and so on—of predicates with variably many places. Our main concern, however, is lists. Any adequate account of lists must include plural as well as singular terms. On one account, lists are mere strings of separate arguments, which occupy variably many positions within a place of a multigrade predicate. A quite different account takes the list itself to be a compound plural term. We compare these rival conceptions, and reach some surprising conclusions. As a coda, we deploy the conceptual apparatus developed in the paper to assess Morton's pioneer system of multigrade logic. (shrink)
This paper defends the action-theory of the Will, according to which willing G is doing F (F≠G) in order to make G happen. In a nutshell, willing something is doing something else in order to bring about what we want. -/- I argue that only the action-theory can reconcile two essential features of the Will. (i) its EFFECTIVITY: willing is closer to acting than desiring. (ii) its FALLIBILITY: one might want something in vain. The action-theory of the will explains EFFECTIVITY (...) by claiming that each time one wants G, one accomplishes the action of doing F ( it is argued following Von Wright that every action has a result as a proper part, here F). And the action-theory explains FALLIBILITY by claiming that although willing G entails making some F happen –the result of the action of willing–, it does not entail that G –the intended consequence of our willing– will happen. -/- By contrast, behaviorist accounts of the will (which merely equate willing with an action) captures its EFFECTIVITY but loose its FALLIBILITY. And volitionist accounts (which introduce naked volitions lacking any essential results) capture the FALLIBILITY of the will, but loose its EFFECTIVITY. -/- I consider disjunctivist accounts of trying (such as O'Shaughnessy and Hornsby's ones) as an alternative way to reconcile EFFECTIVITY and FALLIBILITY. I argue that though the view manages to reconcile these two constraints, it does so only at the price of gerrymandering the concept of willing (or trying): failed tryings end up having nothing in common with successful ones. -/- I then address three objections to the action-theory of the will, to the effect (i) that not all actions have a result (ii) that total failures are possible (iii) that willing is more fundamental than acting. I argue in answer (i) that all actions have results (results which can be irrelevant to the production of the goal, or which can be merely mental images), (ii) that total failures do not correspond to acts of will, but to mere desires or wishes, and (iii) that given the possibility of basic actions, acting has to be more fundamental than willing (and trying). (shrink)
Introduction: The role of animals in philosophies of man -- Part I: What's wrong with animal rights? -- The right to remain silent -- Part II: Animal pedagogy -- You are what you eat : Rousseau's cat -- Say the human responded : Herder's sheep -- Part III: Difference worthy of its name -- Hair of the dog : Derrida's and Rousseau's good taste -- Sexual difference, animal difference : Derrida's sexy silkworm -- Part IV: It's our fault -- The (...) beaver's struggle with species-being : De Beauvoir and the praying mantis -- Answering the call of nature : Lacan walking the dog -- Part V: Estranged kinship -- The abyss between humans and animals : Heidegger puts the bee in being -- Strange kinship : Merleau-Ponty's sensuous stickleback -- Stopping the anthropological machine : Agamben's tick-tocking tick -- Psychoanalysis and the science of kinship -- Psychoanalysis as animal by-product : Freud's zoophilia -- Animal abjects, maternal abjects : Kristeva's strays -- Conclusion: Sustainable ethics. (shrink)
Since Aristotle, touch has been found especially hard to define. One of the few unchallenged intuition about touch, however, is that tactile awareness entertains some especially close relationship with bodily awareness. This article considers the relation between touch and bodily awareness from two different perspectives: the body template theory and the body map theory. According to the former, touch is defined by the fact that tactile content matches proprioceptive content. We raise some objections against such a bodily definition of touch (...) and suggest, as an alternative, to revive the proposal according to which touch is essentially a sense of pressure. According to the body map theory, tactile sensations are localized within the frame of reference provided by the mental representation of the space of the body. We argue that this approach of the location of bodily sensations fares better that the Local Sign theory that denies intrinsic spatiality to touch. (shrink)
In this essay, I argue that the contemporary notion of law has been reduced to regulations and disciplinary codes that do not and cannot give meaning to our emotional lives and moral sensibilities. As a result, we have increasing numbers of what I call “abysmal individuals” who suffer from a split between law—broadly conceived as that which gives form and structure to social life—and personal embodied sensations of pain and pleasure. My attempt to understand the place of Abu Ghraib within (...) American culture leads to an analysis of our valorization of innocence and ignorance that not only becomes the grounds on which we morally (if not legally) excuse abusive behavior as “fun,” but also becomes part of the justification for condoning some forms of violence while condemning others. In addition, I argue that the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate violence trades on underlying assumptions about the relationship between culture and nature, technology and bodies, wherein bodies are imagined as natural and outside of the realm of law. (shrink)
Russell had two theories of definite descriptions: one for singular descriptions, another for plural descriptions. We chart its development, in which ‘On Denoting’ plays a part but not the part one might expect, before explaining why it eventually fails. We go on to consider many-valued functions, since they too bring in plural terms—terms such as ‘4’ or the descriptive ‘the inhabitants of London’ which, like plain plural descriptions, stand for more than one thing. Logicians need to take plural reference seriously (...) if only because mathematicians take many-valued functions seriously. We assess the objection (by Russell, Frege and others) that many-valued functions are illegitimate because the corresponding terms are ambiguous. We also assess the various methods proposed for getting rid of them. Finding the objection ill-founded and the methods ineffective, we introduce a logical framework that admits plural reference, and use it to answer some earlier questions and to raise some more. (shrink)
Do representations of violence incite or quell violent desires and actions? This question--the question of the relation between mimesis and catharsis--is as old as Western Philosophy itself. In this essay, I attempt to think through how Kristeva might describe the difference between representations of violence that perpetuate violent desires and actions versus representations of violence that sublimate violent desires and thereby prevent violent actions.
In "Frege: Philosophy of Mathematics" Dummett recommends the following thesis, (PNP): the correct analysis of any sentence containing a plural noun phrase will show that the phrase is functioning predictively. According to Dummett, (PNP), applied to numerical predications such as the leaves are 1,000' is the key premise in Frege's argument against Mill's theory of numbers. But Frege never subscribed to (PNP) and he rejected such numerical predications, and point out how Frege's own semantic theory for plural noun phrases obscures (...) his idea of a relation. (shrink)
: Our stereotypes of maternity and paternity as manifest in the history of philosophy and psychoanalysis interfere with the ability to imagine loving relationships. The associations of maternity with antisocial nature and paternity with disembodied cul-ture are inadequate to set up primary love relationships. Analyzing the conflicts in these associations, I reformulate the maternal body as social and lawful, and I re-formulate the paternal function as embodied, which enables imagining our primary relationships as loving.
This essay argues that Hegel's discussion of the family in "The Ethical Order" section of Phenomenology of Spirit undermines the entire project of that text. Hegel's project demands that every element of consciousness be conceptualizable, and yet, woman, an essential unconscious element of consciousness, is in principle unconceptualizable. The end of the essay attempts to relate Hegel's discussion of the family to contemporary discussions of family values.
We all learn about the mistake of treating ‘nothing’ as if it were a term standing for something; but is it a mistake to treat it as an empty term, denoting nothing? We argue not, and we introduce ‘zilch’, defined as ‘the non-self-identical thing’, as a term which is empty as a matter of logical necessity. We contrast its behaviour with that of the quantifier ‘nothing’, and illustrate its uses. We use the same idea to vindicate Locke’s, Descartes’ and Hume’s (...) handling of ‘nothing’, and we show how Heidegger’s ‘das Nichts nichtet’ comes out as logically true. (shrink)
Carter and Leslie's Doomsday Argument maintains that reflection upon the number of humans born thus far, when that number is viewed as having been uniformly randomly selected from amongst all humans, past, present and future, leads to a dramatic rise in the probability of an early end to the human experiment. We examine the Bayesian structure of the Argument and find that the drama is largely due to its oversimplification.
The fundamental thesis of David Lewis's "Parts of Classes" is that the nonempty subsets of a set are mereological parts of it. This paper shows that Lewis's considerations in favor of this thesis are unpersuasive. First, common speech provides no support. Second, the formal analogy between mereology and the Boolean algebra of sets can be explained without accepting the thesis. Third, it is very doubtful that the thesis is fruitful. Certainly, Lewis's claim that it helps us understand set theory is (...) unwarranted. (shrink)