When I was a child, my favorite story was "The Emperor's New Clothes." A chorus of adults praises the Emperor's new wardrobe, but a child blurts out the truth: The Emperor is in fact stark naked. From this tale, I learned that adults could be intimidated into endorsing all kinds of flummery. The longer I teach at the university, the more I return to this story for consolation.
Hegel's philosophy has often been compared to a circle of circles: an ascending spiral to its admirers, but a vortex to its critics. The metaphor reflects Hegel's claim to offer a conception of philosophical reason so comprehensive as to include all others as partial forms of itself. It is a claim which faces the writer on Hegel with peculiar difficulties. Criticism, it would appear, can always be outflanked; criticism of the system can be turned back into criticism within the system. (...) Michael Rosen discusses the philosophical issues involved in historical interpretation before presenting a novel and challenging solution to the problem of Hegel's openness to criticism. Contrary to received opinion, Hegel's philosophy does not, he argues, draw upon a universal and pre-suppositionless conception of rationality. Rather, Hegel's originality lies in founding his system upon a particular, avowedly mystical conception of philosophical experience. This experience - Hegel calls it 'pure Thought' - is fundamental. Pure Thought makes speculative reasoning intelligible and, hence, underpins the claim to rationality of the entire system. Dr Rosen's conclusion is that all attempts at rehabilitation of Hegel are based on misunderstanding. When restored to their speculative-mystical shell the irrational kernel of Hegel's concepts becomes apparent. (shrink)
Exploring the connection between Bentham and Byron forged by the Greek struggle for independence, this book focuses on the activities of the London Greek Committee, supposedly founded by disciples of Jeremy Bentham, which mounted the expedition on which Lord Byron ultimately met his death in Greece. Rosen's penetrating study provides a new assessment of British philhellenism and examines for the first time the relationship between Bentham's theory of constitutional government and the emerging liberalism of the 1820s. Breaking new ground (...) in the history of political ideas and culture in the early nineteenth century, Rosen advances striking new interpretations based on recently published texts and manuscript sources of the development of constitutional theory from Locke and Montesquieu, the conflicting strands of liberalism in the 1820s, and the response in Britain to strong claims for national self-determination in the Mediterranean basin. He sets out to distinguish between Bentham's theory and the ideological context against which it is usually interpreted. (shrink)
Combining exemplary scholarship and analytic precision, Stanley Rosen illuminates the underpinnings of post-modernist thought, providing valuable insight as he pursues two arguments: first, that post-modernism, which regards itself as an attack upon the Enlightenment, is in fact the penultimate stage of the Enlightenment itself; and second, that the extraordinary contemporary emphasis upon hermeneutics is the latest consequence of the triumph of history over mathematics within the unstable essence of the Enlightenment. Hermeneutics is consequently at bottom a political phenomenon. In (...) developing these arguments, Rosen demonstrates the paradigmatic status of Kant for a proper understanding of post-modernism, analyzes Derrida's influential critique of Platonism as well as his defense of writing, explains the political dimension of the quarrel between the ancients and moderns by studying the hermeneutics of Leo Strauss and Alexander Kojhve, and shows how the modern notion of "theory" is intrinsically relativized by the triumph of history over mathematics into the notion of interpretation. A wide-ranging exploration into current critical thinking, Hermeneutics as Politics will generate considerable debate among scholars interested in post-modernism, the Enlightenment, hermeneutics, the relation of philosophy and politics, deconstruction, and the history of philosophy. (shrink)
In this article, the author defends his claim that a subtle form of metaphysical dualism can be found in Alfred North Whitehead's central notion of the "actual occasion." Rosen contends that phenomenological philosophers such as Martin Heidegger go further than Whitehead in challenging traditional dualism.
The Mask of Enlightenment is the most detailed textual and thematic study of Nietzsche's most important but least understood works: Thus Spake Zarathustra. In this book Nietzsche was laying the groundwork for a fundamental philosophical and political revolution on a global scale. One of the difficulties that the text poses is Nietzsche's prophetic style; Stanley Rosen unweaves the complex threads that form the rhetorical voices of the work, and so explains the style in an accessible manner. He rejects recent (...) sceptical, deconstructionist interpretations of Nietzsche, and reveals a coherence underlying the multiple and apparently incompatible intentions embedded in the text. Nietzsche is a figure whose influence on contemporary thought in the humanities and social sciences continues to be enormous. This book is sure to become the definitive study of Zarathustra, and will have a broad appeal to philosophers and students of modern philosophy, intellectual historians, political scientists, and literary theorists. (shrink)
Region R Question: How many objects — entities, things — are contained in R? Ignore the empty space. Our question might better be put, 'How many material objects does R contain?' Let's stipulate that A, B and C are metaphysical atoms: absolutely simple entities with no parts whatsoever besides themselves. So you don't have to worry about counting a particle's top half and bottom half as different objects. Perhaps they are 'point-particles', with no length, width or breadth. Perhaps they are (...) extended in space without possessing spatial parts (if that is possible). Never mind. We stipulate that A, B and C are perfectly simple. We also stipulate that they are connected as follows. A and B are stuck together in such a way that when a force is applied to one of them, they move together 'as a unit'. Moreover, the two of them together exhibit behavior that neither would exhibit on its own — Perhaps they emit a certain sound, or glow in the dark — whereas C is.. (shrink)
According to Parfit, the best version of Kantian ethics takes as its central principle Kantian Contractualism: the thesis that everyone ought to follow the principles whose universal acceptance everyone could rationally will. This paper examines that thesis, identifies a class of annoying counterexamples, and suggests that when Kantian Contractualism is modified in response to these examples, the resulting principle is too complex and ad hoc to serve as the 'supreme principle of morality'.
According to one sort of epistemic relativist, normative epistemic claims (e.g., evidence E justifies hypothesis H) are never true or false simpliciter, but only relative to one or another epistemic system. In chapter 6 of Fear of Knowledge, Paul Boghossian objects to this view on the ground that its central notions cannot be explained, and that it cannot account for the normativity of epistemic discourse. This paper explores how the dogged relativist might respond.
This paper defends the idea that there might be vagueness or indeterminacy in the world itself--as opposed to merely in our representations of the world--against the charges of incoherence and unintelligibility. First we consider the idea that the world might contain vague properties and relations ; we show that this idea is already implied by certain well-understood views concerning the semantics of vague predicates (most notably the fuzzy view). Next we consider the idea that the world might contain vague objects (...) ; we argue that an object is indeterminate in a certain respect (colour, size, etc.) just in case it is a borderline case of a maximally specific colour (size, etc.) property. Finally we consider the idea that the world as a whole might be indeterminate; we argue that the world is indeterminate just in case it lacks a determinate division into determinate objects. (shrink)
When a person acts from ignorance, he is culpable for his action only if he is culpable for the ignorance from which he acts. The paper defends the view that this principle holds, not just for actions done from ordinary factual ignorance, but also for actions done from moral ignorance. The question is raised whether the principle extends to action done from ignorance about what one has most reason to do. It is tentatively proposed that the principle holds in full (...) generality. (shrink)
The central thesis of this paper is that contemporary theoretical physics is grounded in philosophical presuppositions that make it difficult to effectively address the problems of subject-object interaction and discontinuity inherent to quantum gravity. The core objectivist assumption implicit in relativity theory and quantum mechanics is uncovered and we see that, in string theory, this assumption leads into contradiction. To address this challenge, a new philosophical foundation is proposed based on the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Martin Heidegger. Then, through (...) the application of qualitative topology and hypernumbers, phenomenological ideas about space, time, and dimension are brought into focus so as to provide specific solutions to the problems of force-field generation and unification. The phenomenological string theory that results speaks to the inconclusiveness of conventional string theory and resolves its core contradiction. (shrink)
Van Fraassen defines constructive empiricism as the view that science aims to produce empirically adequate theories. But this account has been misunderstood. Constructive empiricism in not, as it seems, a description of the intentional features of scientific practice, nor is it a normative prescription for their revision. It is rather a fiction about the practice of science that van Fraassen displays in the interests of a broader empiricism. The paper concludes with a series of arguments designed to show that constructive (...) empiricism so understood is self-undermining. (shrink)
Numbers and other mathematical objects are exceptional in having no locations in space or time or relations of cause and effect. This makes it difficult to account for the possibility of the knowledge of such objects, leading many philosophers to embrace nominalism, the doctrine that there are no such objects, and to embark on ambitious projects for interpreting mathematics so as to preserve the subject while eliminating its objects. This book cuts through a host of technicalities that have obscured previous (...) discussions of these projects, and presents clear, concise accounts of a dozen strategies for nominalistic interpretation of mathematics, thus equipping the reader to evaluate each and to compare different ones. The authors also offer critical discussion, rare in the literature, of the aims and claims of nominalistic interpretation, suggesting that it is significant in a very different way from that usually assumed. (shrink)
This paper intends to invoke the spirit of Hegel as the éminence grise behind analytical and continental philosophy. Both movements can be seen to originate in, or to receive a strong impetus in their development from, a repudiation of Hegel. Even Russell's quest for a systematic logical analysis of language may be seen as an attempt at a quasi- or anti-Hegelian systematicity. The collapse of this systematicity has led to the celebration of difference in both the analytical and continental schools. (...) Another feature of contemporary philosophy is the priority given to invention and creativity over discovery. In this respect, Nietzsche is the master-figure underlying all contemporary allegiance to, and indeed, obsession with, the twin idols of creation and difference. (shrink)
This paper addresses a central question of contemporary theoretical physics: Can a unified account be provided for the known forces of nature? The issue is brought into focus by considering the recently revived Kaluza-Klein approach to unification, a program entailing dimensional transformation through cosmogony. First it is demonstrated that, in a certain sense, revitalized Kaluza-Klein theory appears to undermine the intuitive foundations of mathematical physics, but that this implicit consequence has been repressed at a substantial cost. A fundamental reformulation of (...) the Kaluza-Klein strategy is then undertaken, one that casts it within a new intuitive context. This is followed by a provisional application of the suggested approach to the specific problem of cosmic evolution. The paper concludes by exploring the far-reaching epistemological implications of the "neo-intuitive" proposal set forth. (shrink)
Recursion or self-reference is a key feature of contemporary research and writing in semiotics. The paper begins by focusing on the role of recursion in poststructuralism. It is suggested that much of what passes for recursion in this field is in fact not recursive all the way down. After the paradoxical meaning of radical recursion is adumbrated, topology is employed to provide some examples. The properties of the Moebius strip prove helpful in bringing out the dialectical nature of radical recursion. (...) The Moebius is employed to explore the recursive interplay of terms that are classically regarded as binary opposites: identity and difference, object and subject, continuity and discontinuity, etc. To realize radical recursion in an even more concrete manner, a higher-dimensional counterpart of the Moebius strip is utilized, namely, the Klein bottle. The presentation concludes by enlisting phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s concept of depth to interpret the Klein bottle’s extra dimension. (shrink)
This essay is written at the crossroads of intuitive holism, as typified in Eastern thought, and the discursive reflectiveness more characteristic of the West. The point of departure is the age-old human need to overcome fragmentation and realize wholeness. Three basic tasks are set forth: to provide some new insight into the underlying obstacle to wholeness, to show what would be necessary for surmounting this blockage, and to take a concrete step in that direction. At the outset, the question of (...) paradox is addressed, examined in relation to Zen meditation, the problem of language, and the thinking of Heidegger. Wholeness is to be realized through paradox, and it is shown that a complete realization requires that paradox be embodied. Drawing from the fields of visual geometry and qualitative mathematics, three concrete models of paradox are offered: the Necker cube, the Moebius surface, and the Klein bottle. In attempting to model wholeness, an important limitation is recognized: a model is a symbolic representation that maintains the division between the reality represented and the act of symbolizing that reality. It is demonstrated that while the first two models are subject to this limitation, the Klein bottle, possessing higher dimensionality, can express wholeness more completely, provided that it is approached in a radically nonclassical way. The final question of this essay concerns its own capability as an essay. It is asked whether the present text is restricted to affording a mere abstract reflection on wholeness, or whether wholeness can tangibly be delivered. (shrink)
Physics says that it cannot deal with the mind-brain problem, because it does not deal in subjectivities, and mind is subjective. However, biologists (among others) still claim to seek a material basis for subjective mental processes, which would thereby render them objective. Something is clearly wrong here. I claim that what is wrong is the adoption of too narrow a view of what constitutes objectivity, especially in identifying it with what a machine can do. I approach the problem in the (...) light of two cognate circumstances: (a) the measurement problem in quantum physics, and (b) the objectivity of standard mathematics, even though most of it is beyond the reach of machines. I argue that the only resolution to such problems is in the recognition that closed loops of causation are objective; i.e. legitimate objects of scientific scrutiny. These are explicitly forbidden in any machine or mechanism. A material system which contains such loops is called complex. Such complex systems thus must possess nonsimulable models; i.e. models which contain impredicativities or self-references which cannot be removed, or faithfully mapped into a single coherent syntactic time-frame. I consider a few of the consequences of the above, in the context of thus redrawing the boundary between subject and object. (shrink)
I discuss the role played by ordinary or everyday experience in the origin of philosophy. I begin with a discussion of the disappearance of production from the tripartite Aristotelian division of the arts and sciences, and indicate how production reappears as the assimilation of both theory and practice. If knowing is making, then there is no distinction between philosophy and poetry. In particular, the everyday or pre-theoretical world loses its status as the original source and subject-matter of philosophy It becomes (...) an artifact, and in the age of science, an artifact of the "folk-world." The result is the deterioration of human nature, and science is deprived of its human significance. The first step back to clarity is to show that words like "reason" and "good," the core of moral competence, are identical at their root with phronesisor the rationality of common sense. (shrink)
This essay offers a broad historical exploration of the apeiron, the ancient principle of boundlessness and indeterminacy first brought to light by Anaximander in the 6th century BCE. Early Greek philosophy’s struggle with the apeiron and apeiron’s subsequent repression during the Renaissance and Enlightenment are noted. In the nineteenth century, apeiron is resurgent in science, art, and other fields—only to be repressed again with the early twentieth century rise of modernism. But with modernism's collapse into postmodernism, once again the apeiron (...) comes to the fore. The conclusion reached is that the apeiron can be effectively contained only by consciously acknowledging and accepting it as part of the process of individuation. (shrink)
The question of rules is not an issue that separates the 'analytical' and 'Continental' traditions from one another; rather it is an issue that is a source of division within each tradition. Within Continental philosophy the problem of the rule-governed character of cognition goes back to Kant's dualism of sense and understanding. Many philosophers in the Continental tradition (notably, Nietzsche, Gadamer and Adorno) have retained a quasi-Kantian conception of judgement while rejecting the idea of it as rule-governed. But there have (...) been exceptions to this within Continental philosophy, most prominently, Jürgen Habermas. The rules thesis was implicit in much of analytical philosophy as it was practised in Britain from the 1950s to the 1970s. The doctrine gave support to a conception of philosophy (so-called 'ordinary-language philosophy') as essentially an exercise in the articulation of certain kinds of tacit knowledge. It was advocated explicitly in such works as Searle's Speech Acts and Winch's The Idea of a Social Science . The equation of meaning and rules enjoyed further prestige, for it was taken by many philosophers to be the central doctrine to be extracted from Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations . A most striking feature of the receding of the rules thesis has been the transformation of previously accepted interpretations of Wittgenstein's later philosophy (for example, by Stanley Cavell and John McDowell). Both adherents and opponents of the rules thesis have shared a common concern. In emphasizing the discontinuity between language and the subject-matter of the natural sciences both sides offer reassuringly positive answers to one of the besetting problems of twentieth-century philosophy: does philosophy have a distinctive subject-matter of its own? (shrink)
This article explores the evolution of human attention, focusing particularly on the phylogenetic and ontogenetic implications of the work of the American social psychiatrist Trigant Burrow. Attentional development is linked to the emergence of visual perspective, and this, in turn, is related to Burrow's notion of `ditention' (divided or partitive attention). Burrow's distinction between `ditention' and `cotention' (total organismic awareness) is examined, and, expanding on this, a threefold pattern of perceptual change is identified: prototention-->ditention-->cotention. Next, ditentive visual perspective is related (...) to binocular convergence, and the author makes use of the perspectivally ambiguous, `non-convergent' Gestalt figure known as the Necker Cube to illustrate cotention. The paper concludes by proposing that the shift from the currently pervasive ditentive pattern of awareness to a cotentive mode could have a salutary effect on human society. (shrink)
This book presents a new interpretation of the principle of utility in moral and political theory based on the writings of the classical utilitarians. The writings of Adam Smith, William Paley and Jeremy Bentham are also considered.
In this paper I discuss Taylor's criticism of contemporary moral philosophy and the role which this plays in his wider account of the development of Western moral consciousness, an account which I compare with Hans Blumenberg's The Legitimacy of the ModernAge. While I endorse Taylor's rejection of ?naturalism?, I deny that this entails the rejection of non?realism and I maintain that, indeed, the non?realist conception of a social foundation for morality represents the most cogent response to the contemporary dilemmas Taylor (...) identifies. (shrink)
This paper explores the meaning of time from three points of view: (1) David Bohm’s concepts of ‘vertical implicate order’ and ‘holomovement’; (2) Alfred North Whitehead’s idea of the ‘actual occasion’; and (3) the author’s notion of ‘nondual duality.’ The author argues that Bohm and Whitehead alike implicitly divide time into dual and nondual aspects and that, in failing to adequately reconcile these, time, in effect, is denied. The alternative offered seeks to thoroughly integrate dual and nondual (holistic) modalities in (...) the understanding that time as becoming entails a dynamic interpenetration of its opposing aspects. Visual geometry and topology are employed to flesh out the "nondual duality" of temporal structure. (shrink)