This book constitutes the first volume of a projected two-volume intellectual biography of Auguste Comte, the founder of modern sociology and a philosophical movement called positivism. Volume One offers a reinterpretation of Comte's "first career," (1798-1842) when he completed the scientific foundation of his philosophy. It describes the interplay between Comte's ideas and the historical context of postrevolutionary France, his struggles with poverty and mental illness, and his volatile relationships with friends, family, and colleagues, including such famous contemporaries as (...) Saint-Simon, the Saint-Simonians, Guizot, and John Stuart Mill. Pickering shows that the man who called for a new social philosophy based on the sciences was not only ill at ease in the most basic human relationships, but also profoundly questioned the ability of the purely scientific spirit to regenerate the political and social world. (shrink)
Literature, for Sartre, it could be said, is not so much an object of theory as the focus of a question. The notion of 'committed literature' is less prescriptive than it is interrogative: the title of the text most commonly associated with 'littérature engagée' is, after all, a question about literature itself, and the nature of 'commitment' lends itself much more to a practice of contestation than to implementation of any particular programme. In what follows, I shall be examining some (...) of the ways in which Sartre makes literature synonymous with a question. And I shall be arguing that the very terms in which literature is presented as a form of self-contestation make biography, rather than theory, the arena in which the notion of literature is most extensively opened up. (shrink)
Abstract Biography is usually distinguished from history and, in comparison, looked down upon. R. G. Collingwood's view of biography seems to fit this statement considering that he says it has only gossip-value and that “history it can never be“. His main concern is that biography exploits and arouses emotions which he excludes from the domain of history. In the paper I will try to show that one can salvage a more positive view of biography from within (...) Collingwood's work and claim that his explicit attacks against biography target specifically the sensationalist kind. First, I will show that Collingwood, in his later writings, allowed that, not only thought, but also relevant emotions can be the subject matter of history, which means that even if one takes biography to deal with emotions, it can still qualify as history. Second, I will argue, based mainly on Collingwood's Principles of Art , that biography can be compared to portrait painting, in which case, it can be redeemed as a work of art and not just craft and, thus, have more than entertainment value. It can also be part of history, and more specifically part of the history of art which Collingwood endorses, if one takes the life of an individual, recounted by a biographer, to be an artistic creation, as Collingwood seems to suggest. (shrink)
Biography is an ancient literary genre. First of all—chronologically and logically it is a part of historiography. Whether we think of biography as more like history or more like fiction, what we want from it is a vivid sense of the person. The cover illustration of the fortieth anniversary edition of E. H. Carr’s What is History?1 is a close-up of an eye with fluffy white clouds against a blue iris and a dramatic black pupil in the center. (...) Magritte called this painting The False Mirror, an apt image for the untrustworthy nature of our perceptions of the world and, in its use here, for the uncertainties surrounding definitions of history in the past half century. Confusion has often accompanied .. (shrink)
This work is the intellectual biography of the greatest of American philosophers. Peirce was not only a pioneer in logic and the creator of a philosophical movement pragmatism he also proposed a phenomenological theory, quite different from that of Husserl, but equal in profundity; and long before Saussure, and in a totally different spirit, a semiotic theory whose present interest owes nothing to passing fashion and everything to its fecundity. Throughout his life Peirce wrote continually about sign and phenomenon (...) (or phaneron). Consequently his writings must be studied chronologically if they are not to appear incomprehensible or contradictory. One of the merits of this book is to clarify Peirce's thought by analysing its development chronologically. We follow the evolution of Peirce's thought from his critique of Kantian logic and Cartesianism (Chap. I, “Leaving the Cave”: 1851-1870) to his discovery of modern logic and pragmatism (Chap. II, “The Eclipse of the Sun”: 1870-1887) and finally to a semiotic founded on a phenomenology the base of which is the logic of relations and the crowning-point scientific metaphysics (Chap. III, “The Sun Set Free”: 1887-1914). The book includes a detailed chronology, a general bibliography, and an index. (shrink)
Review of Manfred Kuehn's outstanding biography on Immanuel Kant. A critical point I raise concerns Kuehn's discussion of Kant's relation to Hume. Scholars are divided over the questions of (a) whether Hume was an actual inspiration for Kant’s Critical philosophy, (b) whether Kant’s defense really addresses Hume’s problem of causality, and, of course, (c) whether Kant’s arguments provide a satisfactory solution to the problem. Sometimes these questions are not clearly distinguished by interpreters, part of the reason Kant scholarship appears (...) so intractable to outsiders. While Kuehn’s answers to questions (a) and (b) appear to be ”Yes”, and while his reasons for the Yes to (a) are convincing, those for Yes to (b) are not; and (c) isn't addressed at all. (shrink)
This article is a response to Ole Martin Skilleås's "Knowledge and Imagination in Fiction and Biography." The first section of the article summarizes the line of the argument in four theses: (1) What is real is more influential than what is made up; (2) there is no metaphysical chasm between autobiographers and us; (3) (auto)biographies are not just empirical; and (4) the moral lesson of a fiction need not be accepted. In the second section each of these theses is (...) criticized. This criticism leads to the conclusion that we should welcome (auto)biographical texts in our moral investigations, but not at the cost of fictional texts. This conclusion is coupled with a proposal to formulate criteria to distinguish texts that matter from those that do not. (shrink)
Hayek’s Challenge is subtitled ‘an intellectual biography’ of Hayek, and the publisher describes it as ‘the first full intellectual biography’ of Hayek (front flap). But Caldwell himself appears to disagree: it was ‘never my goal’ to write ‘a comprehensive intellectual biography’ (177, note 10). Further, the book has a ‘secret title’: Caldwell’s Challenge (4). To assess what Caldwell has done, it is important to be very clear about what he was trying to do. Caldwell spells out in (...) detail, in engaging autobiographical passages, that his own interest is very much in the area of methodology; and.. (shrink)
Abstract Is `History Man', Fred Inglis' biography on R.G. Collingwood a successful biography? Inglis' explicit ambition is to portray the concrete figure Collingwood by abducting him from what he calls the vacuum-packed academic world of scholars. But the best biographers look for a balanced equilibrium between rendering philosophical ideas and dramatizing a philosopher's life. Put another way, they evoke the interweaving of a philosopher's thought with the vicissitudes of his life. Despite the unmistakable qualities of this biography, (...) Fred Inglis did not fully succeed in finding that very balance, mainly due to a lack of philosophical background. While Oxford University Press with the new edition of his works and manuscripts is thoroughly reorienting the traditional view of Collingwood, Inglis' fluently written but rather biased portrayal does no full justice to the heart of his fascinating philosophy and personality. (shrink)
A comprehensive biography which covers Adorno's life, work and times: from childhood, through to his student years, his years in emigration, his return to post-war Germany, his time in Frankfurt, his role as a public intellectual, and his ...
Of all the thinkers of the century of genius that inaugurated modern philosophy, none lived an intellectual life more rich and varied than Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). Trained as a jurist and employed as a counsellor, librarian, and historian, he made famous contributions to logic, mathematics, physics, and metaphysics, yet viewed his own aspirations as ultimately ethical and theological, and married these theoretical concerns with politics, diplomacy, and an equally broad range of practical reforms: juridical, economic, administrative, technological, medical, and (...) ecclesiastical. Maria Rosa Antognazza's pioneering biography not only surveys the full breadth and depth of these theoretical interests and practical activities, it also weaves them together for the first time into a unified portrait of this unique thinker and the world from which he came. At the centre of the huge range of Leibniz's apparently miscellaneous endeavours, Antognazza reveals a single master project lending unity to his extraordinarily multifaceted life's work. Throughout the vicissitudes of his long life, Leibniz tenaciously pursued the dream of a systematic reform and advancement of all the sciences, to be undertaken as a collaborative enterprise supported by an enlightened ruler; these theoretical pursuits were in turn ultimately grounded in a practical goal: the improvement of the human condition and thereby the celebration of the glory of God in His creation. As well as tracing the threads of continuity that bound these theoretical and practical activities to this all-embracing plan, this illuminating study also traces these threads back into the intellectual traditions of the Holy Roman Empire in which Leibniz lived and throughout the broader intellectual networks that linked him to patrons in countries as distant as Russia and to correspondents as far afield as China. (shrink)
René Descartes (1596-1650) is the father of modern philosophy, and one of the greatest of all thinkers. This is the first intellectual biography of Descartes in English; it offers a fundamental reassessment of all aspects of his life and work. Stephen Gaukroger, a leading authority on Descartes, traces his intellectual development from childhood, showing the connections between his intellectual and personal life and placing these in the cultural context of seventeenth century Europe. -/- Descartes' early work in mathematics and (...) science produced ground breaking theories, methods, and tools still in use today. This book gives the first full account of how this work informed and influenced the later philosophical studies for which, above all, Descartes is renowned. Not only were philosophy and science intertwined in Descartes' life; so were philosophy and religion. The Church of Rome found Galileo guilty of heresy in 1633; two decades earlier, Copernicus' theories about the universe had been denounced as blasphemous. To avoid such accusations, Descartes clothed his views about the relation between God and humanity, and about the nature of the universe, in a philosophical garb acceptable to the Church. His most famous project was the exploration of the foundations of human knowledge, starting from the proof of one's own existence offered in the formula Cogito ergo sum, `I am thinking therefore I exist'. Stephen Gaukroger argues that this was not intended as an exercise in philosophical scepticism, but rather to provide Descartes' scientific theories, influenced as they were by Copernicus and Galileo, with metaphysical legitimation. -/- This book offers for the first time a full understanding of how Descartes developed his revolutionary ideas. It will be welcomed by all readers interested in the origins of modern thought. (shrink)
"The terrain of the self is vast," notes renowned psychiatrist Arnold Ludwig, "parts known, parts impenetrable, and parts unexplored." How do we construct a sense of ourselves? How can a self reflect upon itself or deceive itself? Is all personal identity plagiarized? Is a "true" or "authentic" self even possible? Is it possible to really "know" someone else or ourselves for that matter? To answer these and many other intriguing questions, Ludwig takes a unique approach, examining the art of (...) class='Hi'>biography for the insights it can give us into the construction of the self. In The Biography of the Self, he takes readers on an intriguing tour of the biographer's art, revealing how much this can tell us about ourselves. Drawing on in-depth interviews with twenty-one of our most esteemed biographers--writers such as David McCullough (the biographer of Truman and Theodore Roosevelt), Wallace Stegner (John Wesley Powell), Gloria Steinem (Marilyn Monroe), Leon Edel (Henry James), Peter Gay (Freud), Diane Middlebrook (Anne Sexton), and many others--and interweaving fascinating observations of his own practice, Ludwig takes us through the labyrinthine hall of mirrors we term the self and shows us how malleable, elusive, and paradoxical it can be. In chapters such as "The 'Real' Marilyn," "Psychoanalyzing Freud," "How Did Hitler Live With Himself?" and "What Madness Reveals," we sit in as biographers talk not only about their work, but about their subjects (Allan Bullock on Hitler and Stalin, for instance, or Arnold Rampersad on Langston Hughes) and how their subjects saw themselves. Ludwig describes how biographers must impose a narrative structure on their subjects' lives to create order out of a mass of often contradictory views, baffling behavior, and inconsistent self-representations, much in the same way that psychotherapists try to foster self-awareness and understanding in their patients. In his concluding chapter, Ludwig introduces a new concept--biographical freedom--which brilliantly reconciles free will and determinism. We can, he asserts, become biographers of ourselves. Like the biographer, we are constrained to consider all the available facts of our lives--the personal experiences, cultural forces, and predetermined scripts that shape us--but we remain free to interpret, emphasize, and fashion these givens into a cohesive and meaningful narrative of our own choosing. This thought-provoking volume offers not only a wide-ranging and informative commentary on the biographer's art, but also a highly original theory of the self. Readers interested in biography and in the lives of others will come away with a new sense of what it means to be a "person" and, in particular, who they are. (shrink)
This is the first comprehensive biography of John Locke to be published in nearly a half century. Setting Locke's life within exciting historical and intellectual contexts, which included the English Civil War, religious persecution, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Roger Woolhouse interweaves an account of Locke's life with a summary and development of his ideas in theory of knowledge, philosophy of science, medicine, economics, philosophy of religion, and political philosophy. Systematic and encyclopedic in its coverage, Woolhouse's biography (...) offers both an account and explanation of Locke's ideas, while treating seriously his emotional relationship with Elinor Parry. Based on broad research and many years of study of Locke's philosophy, this volume is an authoritative biography on one of the most significant early modern philosophers. (shrink)
Preface : The cheese and the sermons: toward a microhistory of ideas -- In praise of indecorous acts of discourse: an essay by way of introduction -- "Confound laughter with seriousness": the Protagoras as monological dialogue -- "Confound seriousness with laughter": on monological and dialogical -- Reading "The Gorgias" -- Jesting words and dreadful lessons: the two voices of the Babylonian Talmud -- "Read Lucian!": Menippean satire and the literary world of the Babylonian Talmud -- Icaromeʻir: Rabbi Meʻir's Babylonian "Life" (...) as Menippean satire -- "The truest tragedy": the Symposium as monologue -- A crude contradiction; or, The second accent of the Symposium -- Appendix: On the postmodern allegorical. (shrink)
The affirmation of the will -- A tour for a trade -- A father's death : a philosopher's birth -- The university years -- The better consciousness, causes, grounds and confrontations -- Goethe, colors, and eastern lights -- The single thought of dresden -- Failure in Berlin -- Ich bin kein Berliner -- The Frankfurt philosopher -- The dawn of fame and the end of life.
The article is derived from the accompanying radio portrait. It was published in 1995 in Philosophy 70, 243-262, and is reproduced here by permission of the Editor. Page numbers after quotations from Ramsey refer to F. P. Ramsey: Philosophical Papers, edited by D. H. Mellor, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
In 2006 Julian Young published Nietzsche's Philosophy of Religion, a book in which he argued that the standard view of Nietzsche as a staunch individualist and atheist was incorrect.1 From The Birth of Tragedy onward, Young claimed, Nietzsche had written from a communitarian standpoint that embraced religion as a source of inspiriting myth, uniting groups into a folk. Heretical as this view was in the academy, there was considerable evidence for Young's position, and it is noteworthy that the individualistic side (...) of Nietzsche excites more interest in the English-speaking countries (and particularly the United States with its heritage of Emerson and Thoreau) than on the European continent. If Young's thesis was new .. (shrink)
"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit." "From the outset [in 1976] the reviews were gratifyingly favorable and it [The Selfish Gene] was not seen, initially, as a controversial book. Its reputation for contentiousness took years to grow until, by now, it is widely regarded as a work of radical extremism. But over the very same years as the book’s reputation for (...) extremism has escalated, its actual content has seemed less and less extreme, more and more the common currency." How could it be that Dawkins’ most famous book became controversial, but not as a result of what it .. (shrink)
Forced to flee from Nazi Germany in 1933, Fromm settled in the United States and lectured at the New School of Social Research, Columbia, Yale, and Bennington. In the late 1930s, Fromm broke with the Institute of Social Research and with Escape from Freedom began publishing a series of books which would win him a large audience. Escape From Freedom argued that alienation from soil and community in the transition from feudalism to capitalism increased insecurity and fear. Documenting some of (...) the strains and crises of individualism, Fromm attempted to explain how alienated individuals would seek gratification and security from social orders such as fascism. (shrink)