I have argued that Legal Positivism can accommodate the existence oftheoretical disagreements in law and that Ronald Dworkin is wrongto claim otherwise. As far as Legal Positivists are concerned, evenjudges who differ over both the truth of propositions of law and thegrounds or sources of law can have a legal duty to resolve their dis-agreements on the basis of legal arguments. The duty exists whenconventional legal practice creates it. Moreover, all Anglo-Americanlegal systems impose the duty on judges because all such (...) systemscontain legal practices of the right sort: practices creating expectationsthat cases will be decided on the law even when they raise doubtsabout the content or proper formulation of a rule of recognition.Thus, Elmer's Case poses no threat to Legal Positivism. To the con-trary, it reveals the richness of that theory as few other cases can.Only if Elmer's Case is detached from the context of Anglo-American adjudication can it be said to undermine Legal Positivism.But then no theory of positive law could withstand its challenge. (shrink)
The Patient's Charter has been in effect for nearly five years. This article considers the purpose and value of the document through a comparison with the New Jersey Patient Bill of Rights. Patient rights statements have been posted in American hospitals for more than twenty years. However, the New Jersey document and the patient rights programme it established seven years ago, have proven to be economically effective, successful in their representation of patients and enforceable, due to the adoption of state (...) legislation and regulation to oversee the process. Several examples of how the programme works are included in the comparison, with a similar review of The Patient's Charter. In the comparison the author argues that for the programme to succeed as it has done in New Jersey, the government will need to develop legislative backing to ensure enforcement, and an efficient system for monitoring compliance. The programme will need to become credible in the eyes of the health service user. The author suggests this may be best achieved by developing an efficient, accessible and user-friendly means of redress, should the patient consider his or her rights have been violated. A "mish-mash" of quality assurance standards and levels of care which patients can "expect" from the health service providers only serves to distract the health service user from the government's failure to commit the resources that would empower the patients rights portion of The Patient's Charter. (shrink)
Introduction, by D. J. Silver.--The issues: Some current trends in ethical theory, by A. Edel. Contemporary problems in ethics from a Jewish perspective, by H. Jonas. What is the contemporary problematic of ethics in Christianity? By J. M. Gustafson. Modern images of man, by J. N. Hartt. Is there a common Judaeo-Christian ethical tradition? By I. M. Blank. Problematics of Jewish ethics, by M. A. Meyer. Revealed morality and modern thought, by N. Samuelson.--The Jewish background: Does Torah mean law? (...) By J. Neusner. Confrontation of Greek and Jewish ethics: Philo: De Decalogo, by S. Sandmel. Reprobation, prohibition, invalidity: an examination of the Halakhic development concerning intermarriage, by L. Silberman. Death and burial in the Jewish tradition, by S. B. Freehof. God and the ethical impulse, by W. G. Plaut.--Social action: Civil disobedience and the Jewish tradition, by S. G. Broude. Religious responsibility for the social order: A Jewish view, by E. L. Fackenheim. Toward a theology for social action, by R. G. Hirsch. The mission of Israel and social action, by E. Lipman. Some cautionary remarks, by J. Kravetz.--The mission of Israel: On the theology of Jewish survival, by S. S. Schwarzchild. Meaning and purpose of Jewish survival, by A. Gilbert. Beyond the apologetics of mission, by D. J. Silver. (shrink)
Professor l a mirarchi argues, In his "force and absolute motion in berkeley's philosophy of physics" (_journal of the history of ideas, Volume 38, Pages 705-713), That I have misunderstood berkeley's treatment of inertial motion. I contend, Despite professor mirarchi's criticism, That while berkeley accepts the newtonian principle of inertia, He cannot accommodate it into his own radically contingent picture of the universe.
Recent arbitration and human rights boards of inquiry cases involving discrimination against pregnant employees are reviewed. A comparison is made between remedies available under each procedure. It is suggested that the human resource managers review their policies and procedures relevant to this issue to ensure that they do not have the effect or intent of discriminating against pregnant employees.
This paper examines Alvin Plantinga's defence of theistic belief in the light of Paul Draper's formulation of the problem of evil. Draper argues (a) that the facts concerning the distribution of pain and pleasure in the world are better explained by a hypothesis which does not include the existence of God than by a hypothesis which does; and (b) that this provides an epistemic challenge to theists. Plantinga counters that a theist could accept (a) yet still rationally maintain a belief (...) in God. His defence of theism depends on the epistemic value of religious experience. I argue, however, that Plantinga's defence of theism is not successful. (shrink)
In an earlier paper I argued that Alvin Plantinga's defence of pure experiential theism (a theism epistemically based on religious experience) against the evidential problem of evil is inappropriately circular. Eric Snider rejects my argument claiming first that I do not get Plantinga's thought right. Second, he rejects a key principle my argument relies on, viz. the 'independence constraint on neutralizers'. Finally, he offers an alternative to the independence constraint which allows the pure experiential theist to deal successfully with the (...) evidential problem of evil. In this paper I argue that: (a) I have correctly characterized Plantinga's argument; and (b) that Snider's proposed counter-example to the independence constraint fails. Finally, I argue (c) that Snider's proposed alternative to the independence constraint is not a plausible epistemic principle. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop the notion of an epistemic side constraint in order to overcome one of the main challenges to a goal-based approach to the structure of epistemic normativity. I argue that the rationale for such side constraints can be found in the work of John Locke and that his argument is best understood as the epistemic analog to David Gauthier’s argument as to the rationality of being moral.
I maintain that George Ripley (1802-1880) is among the most philosophically searching New England transcendentalists. In this essay I argue that Ripley’s denial that God’s miracles are the sole evidence of Christian truth clarifies the issues and debate that divide empiricists who seek evidence for truth through external verification and intuitionists who maintain that religious truth is manifest only within the minds, hearts, and special senses of true believers.
Max Weber's fragmentary writings on social status suggest that differentiation on this basis should disappear as capitalism develops. However, many of Weber's examples of status refer to the United States, which Weber held to be the epitome of capitalist development. Weber hints at a second form of status, one generated by capitalism, which might reconcile this contradiction, and later theorists emphasize the continuing importance of status hierarchies. This article argues that such theories have missed one of the most important forms (...) of contemporary status: celebrity. Celebrity is an omnipresent feature of contemporary society, blazing lasting impressions in the memories of all who cross its path. In keeping with Weber's conception of status, celebrity has come to dominate status “honor,” generate enormous economic benefits, and lay claim to certain legal privileges. Compared with other types of status, however, celebrity is status on speed. It confers honor in days, not generations; it decays over time, rather than accumulating; and it demands a constant supply of new recruits, rather than erecting barriers to entry. (shrink)
This article contributes to an ongoing theoretical effort to extend the insights of relational and network sociology into adjacent domains. We integrate Simmel's late theory of the relational self into the formal analysis of social relations, generating a framework for theorizing forms of association among self-relating individuals. On this model, every "node" in an interaction has relations not only to others but also to itself, specifically between its ideality and its actuality. We go on to integrate this self-relation into a (...) formal model of social relations. This model provides a way to describe configurations of social interactions defined by the forms according to which social relations realize participants' ideal selves. We examine four formal dimensions along which these self-relational relationships can vary: distance, symmetry, scope, and actualization. (shrink)
For 17 cast lead?antimony?silver?telluride (LAST) thermoelectric specimens (representing 14 different chemical compositions), a combination of Vickers and Knoop microindentation techniques were used to determine the composition-dependent Young's modulus, E, which ranged from 24 to 68?GPa. Following microindentation, independent nanoindentation measurements were also performed on 10 of the 17 specimens. In the literature, for pseudobinary joins in ternary or quaternary compounds (with the compositions A x B1? x C or A x B1? x CD, respectively), changes in the Young's modulus (...) have been expressed as quadratic functions of the compositional parameter x. In this study, we extend the quadratic functional form to a paraboloid in four composition variables to describe composition-dependent changes in E for the LAST compounds. Also, the composition-dependent changes in LAST are compared to the trends observed in the literature for E and bulk modulus for systems described by a single compositional variable. (shrink)
The author represents Averintsev’s thought as a response to, and commentary on, Russia’s Silver Age, and describes his particular method of seeing and understanding. The article considers his response to the cultural context in which he worked, focusing mainly on Averintsev’s language, style and syntax, and linking it with his ideal of equilibrium. Finally, the article moves on to Averintsev’s criticism of thinking in polarities.
Plato presents a hierarchy of five cities, each representing a structural arrangement of the soul. The timocratic soul, characterized by its governance by spirit and its consequent desire for esteem and aversion to shame, is ranked as the second-best kind of soul, though this should strike us as surprising since the timocratic figure would seem to be duplicitous, intellectually passive, and at the mercy of the fortuitous opinions of others. This timocrat's position thus raises problems concerning the intrinsic value of (...) the spirited part of the soul, problems that are best solved by comparing the auxiliary to the timocrat, both of whom represent different forms of second-best morality. A lengthy discussion of the early education's effect on the spirited part shows how the auxiliary represents the best kind of moral agent that the second-best nature (silver-souled individuals) can develop into. This is because the early education ensures that the auxiliary and the philosopher share the same basic structure of soul, with reason being in control of each, though the auxiliary's natural deficiencies create some limitations in terms of his or her moral self-sufficiency. The timocrat by contrast represents the second-best kind of moral agent that the best nature (gold-souled individuals) can develop into. The timocrat is morally inferior to the auxiliary and seems to embody Homeric shame-culture. Plato is critical of this approach to morality, but the timocrat justifiably occupies the second position in the hierarchy on account of his or her concern for the opinions of others. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us Digg Reddit Technorati What's this? (shrink)
continent. 1.2 (2011): 78-91. This article consists of three parts. First, I will review the major themes of Quentin Meillassoux’s After Finitude . Since some of my readers will have read this book and others not, I will try to strike a balance between clear summary and fresh critique. Second, I discuss an unpublished book by Meillassoux unfamiliar to all readers of this article, except those scant few that may have gone digging in the microfilm archives of the École normale (...) supérieure. The book in question is Meillassoux’s revised doctoral dissertation L’Inexistence divine (or The Divine Inexistence ), with its seemingly bizarre vision of a God who does not yet exist but might exist in the future. Without literally accepting this view, I will claim that it is philosophically interesting in ways that even a hardened sceptic might be able to appreciate. Third and finally, I will speculate on the possible future of Meillassoux’s speculative materialism itself. And here I mean its future development not by Meillassoux, but by those readers who might be inspired by his book. Plato could never have predicted the emergence of Aristotle’s philosophy, despite the obvious debt of the latter to the former. Nor could Descartes have predicted Spinoza and Leibniz, nor Kant the German Idealists, and neither could Husserl in 1901 have foreseen the later emergence of Heidegger. How are the works of interesting philosophers transformed by later thinkers of comparable importance? While it may seem that there are countless ways to do this, I think there are only two basic ways in which this happens: you can radicalize your predecessors, or you can reverse them. I will close this article with a few words about these two methods, and try to imagine how Meillassoux might be radicalized or reversed by some future admirer. My view is that the more important thinkers are, the easier they are to radicalize or reverse. This helps explain why the great philosophers of the West have so often appeared in clusters, succeeding one another at relatively brief intervals during periods of especial ferment. 1. After Finitude After Finitude is unusually short for such an influential book of philosophy: running to just 178 pages in the original French, and an even more compact 128 pages in the English version, despite the introduction of roughly eight pages of new material for the English edition. Rather than summarizing Meillassoux’s book in the order he intended, I will focus on six points that strike me as the pillars of his debut book. Along the way, I will offer a few criticisms as well. The first pillar of the book is Meillassoux’s own term “correlationism.”1 Although he introduces this term as the name for an enemy, it is striking that Meillassoux remains impressed by correlationism much more than his fellow speculative realists are. This continued appreciation for his great enemy influences the shape of his own ontology. Is there a world outside our thinking of it, or does the world consist entirely in being thought? Traditionally, this dispute between realism and idealism has been dismissed in continental philosophy as a “pseudo-problem,” in a strategy pioneered by Husserl and extended by Heidegger. We cannot be realists, since following Kant we have no direct access to things-in-themselves. But neither are we idealists, since the human being is always already outside itself, aiming at objects in intentional experience, deeply engaged with practical implements, or stationed in some particular world-disclosing mood. The centuries-old dispute between realism and idealism is dissolved by saying that we cannot think either real or ideal in isolation from the other. There is neither human without world nor world without human, but only a primordial correlation or rapport between the two. This is what “correlationism” means: philosophy trapped in a permanent meditation on the human-world correlate, trying to find the best model of the correlate: is it language, intentionality, embodiment, or some other form of correlation between human and world? Among other problems, this generates some friction between philosophy and the literal meaning of science. When cosmologists say that the universe originated 13.5 billion years ago, they do not mean “13.5 billion years ago for us ,” but literally 13.5 billion years ago, well before conscious life existed, and thus at a time when there was no such thing as a correlate. Meillassoux also coins the term “ancestrality” (10) for the reality that predated the correlate, and later expands this term to “dia-chronicity,” (112) to refer to events occurring after the extinction of human beings no less than to those occurring before we existed. Up to this point, Meillassoux’s focus on ancestral entities existing prior to consciousness might seem like a straightforward realist who wants to unmask correlationism as just another form of idealism. Yet Meillassoux also admires the correlationist maneuver, which can obviously be traced back to Kant. Unlike a thinker such as Whitehead, Meillassoux feels no nostalgia for the pre-critical realism that came before Kant: “we cannot but be heirs of Kantianism,” he says (29). What impresses Meillassoux about correlationism is something both simple and familiar. If we attempt to think a tree outside thought, this is itself a thought . Any form of realism which thinks it can simply and directly address the world the way it is fails to escape the correlational circle, since the attempt to think something outside of thought is itself nothing other than a thought, and thereby collapses back into the very human-world correlate that it pretends to escape. For Meillassoux this step, suggested by Kant but first refined by the ensuing figures of German Idealism, marks decisive forward progress in the history of philosophy that must not be abolished. Any attempt to break free from the correlate must first acknowledge its mighty intellectual power. Realist though he may seem, Meillassoux’s works are filled with praise of such figures as Fichte and Hegel, not of so-called “naïve realists.” It is also the case that for Meillassoux, not all correlationisms are the same. The second pillar of his book is a distinction between various positions that I have termed “Meillassoux’s Spectrum,” though of course he is never so immodest as to name it after himself. He distinguishes between at least six different possible positions, and perhaps we could add even subtler variations if we wished. But in its simplest form, Meillassoux’s Spectrum allows for just four basic outlooks on the question of realism vs. anti-realism. Three of these are easy to understand, since we have already been discussing them. At one extreme is so-called “naïve realism,” which holds that a world exists outside the mind, and that we can know this world. Meillassoux rejects this naïve realism as having been overthrown by Kant’s critical philosophy. At the other extreme is subjective idealism, in which nothing exists outside the mind. For to think a dog outside thought immediately turns it into a thought, and therefore there cannot be anything outside; the very notion is meaningless. In between these two is what we have called correlationism. And here comes a crucial moment for Meillassoux, since he distinguishes between the two forms of “weak” and “strong” correlationism, and chooses the strong form as the launching pad for his own philosophy. Weak correlationism is easy to explain, since we all know it from the philosophy of Kant. The things-in-themselves can be thought but not known. They certainly must exist, since there cannot be appearances without something that appears. And we can think about them, which idealism holds to be impossible. They are simply unknowable due to the finitude of human thought. Strong correlationism is the new position introduced by Meillassoux (though he sees it at work in numerous twentieth century thinkers), midway between weak correlationism and subjective idealism. The major difference between the three positions is as follows. Weak correlationism says: “The things-in-themselves exist, but we cannot know them.” The subjective idealist says: “This is a contradiction in terms, since when we think the things-in-themselves, we already turn them into thoughts.” But the strong correlationist says: “Just because ‘things-in-themselves’ is a meaningless notion does not mean that they cannot exist. No one has ever traveled to the world-in-itself and come back to make a report on it. Thus, the fact that we cannot think things-in-themselves without contradiction does not prove that they do not exist anyway. There may be things-in-themselves, we simply are not capable of thinking them without contradiction form within the correlational circle.” This step is crucial for Meillassoux, since strong correlationism is the position he attempts to radicalize into his own new standpoint: speculative materialism. As I see it, this step of the argument fails. Strong correlationism cannot avoid collapsing into subjective idealism, since the statements of the strong correlationist are rendered meaningless from within. All three of the other positions in the Spectrum make perfectly good sense even for those who disagree with them. The naïve realist says that things-in-themselves exist and we can know them; the meaning of this statement is clear. The weak correlationist can say that things-in-themselves exist but lie forever beyond our grasp; this too makes perfect sense, even though the German Idealists try to show a contradiction at work here. We can also understand the claim of the subjective idealist that to think anything outside thought turns it into a thought, and that for this reason we cannot think the unthought. The strong correlationist, alone among the four, speaks nonsense . This person says “I cannot think the unthought without turning it into a thought, and yet the unthought might exist anyway.” But notice that the final phrase “the unthought might exist anyway” is fruitless for this purpose. For we have already heard that to think any unthought turns it into a thought. But now the strong correlationist wants to do two incompatible things simultaneously with this unthought. On the one hand, he neutralizes the unthought by showing that it instantly changes into just another thought. But on the other hand, he wants to appeal to the unthought as a haunting residue that might exist outside thought, thereby undercutting the absolute status of the human-world correlate found in idealism. But this is impossible. If you accept the argument that thinking the unthought turns it into a thought, you cannot also add “but maybe there is something outside that prevents this conversion from being absolutely true,” because this “something outside” is immediately converted into nothing but a thought for us. In short, Meillassoux here seems to be offering a kind of Zen koan: his “strong correlationism” is reminiscent of the gateless gate, or the sound of one hand clapping, or the command to punch Hegel in the jaw when meeting him on the road. We cannot at the same time both destroy the realist challenge of the things-in-themselves in order to undercut realism and reintroduce that very realist sense in order to undercut idealism. In a world where everything is instantly converted into thought, we cannot claim that there might be something extra-mental anyway, because this “might be something” is itself converted into a thought by the same rules that condemned dogs, trees, and houses to the idealist prison. This brings us to the third pillar of Meillassoux’s argument, which is the key to all the rest: the necessity of contingency. His strategy is to transform our supposed ignorance of things-in-themselves into an absolute knowledge that they exist without reason, and that the laws of nature can change at any time for no reason at all. In this way the cautious agnosticism of Kantian philosophies is avoided, but so is the collapse of reality into thought as found in German Idealism. Meillassoux does try to prove the existence of things-in-themselves existing outside thought; he simply holds that they must be proven after passing through the rigors of the correlationist challenge, not just arbitrarily decreed to exist in the manner of naïve realism. As he puts it, “Everything could actually collapse: from trees to stars, from stars to laws, from physical laws to logical laws; and this not by virtue of some superior law whereby everything is destined to perish, but by virtue of the absence of any superior law capable of preserving anything, no matter what, from perishing” (53). If idealism thinks that the human-world correlate is absolute, for Meillassoux it is the facticity of the correlate that is absolute. He tries to show this with a nice brief dialogue between five separate characters (55-59) which is covered in detail in my forthcoming book,2 but which I will simplify here for reasons of time. In this simplified version, we first imagine a dogmatic realist arguing with a dogmatic idealist. The realist says that we can know the truth about the things-in-themselves; the idealist counters that we can only the truth about thought, since all statements about reality must be turned into statements concerning our thoughts about reality. Here the correlationist enters and proclaims that both of these positions are equally dogmatic. For although we have access to nothing but thoughts, we cannot be sure that these thoughts are all that exist; there could be a reality outside thought, there is simply no way to know for sure. And this latter position is the one that Meillassoux attempts to transform from an agnostic, skeptical point into an ontological claim about the contingency of everything. Consider it this way. How does the correlationist defeat the idealist? The idealist holds that the existence of anything outside thought is impossible. The correlationist, by contrast, holds that something might exist outside the human-world correlate. But this “something might” has to be an absolute possibility. It cannot mean that “something outside thought might exist for thought ,” because that is what the idealist already says. No, the correlationist must mean that something might exist outside thought quite independently of thought. In other words, the correlationist says that idealism might be wrong, and this means it is absolutely true that idealism might be wrong. Thus, correlationism is no longer just a skeptical position. It holds that all the possibilities of the world are absolute possibilities. We have absolute knowledge that any of the possibilities about the existence or non-existence of things-in-themselves might be true, and this means that correlationism flips into Meillassoux’s own position: speculative materialism. As Meillassoux sees it, there are only two options here. Option A is to absolutize the human-world correlate, which is what the idealist does: there absolutely cannot be anything outside thought. Option B, by contrast, is to absolutize the facticity of the correlate: its character of simply being given to us, without any inherent necessity. The correlationist cannot have it both ways by saying: “there absolutely might be something outside thought, yet maybe this is absolutely impossible.” In other words, once we escape dogmatism we can only be idealists or speculative materialists, not correlationists. The human-world correlate is merely a fact, not an absolute necessity. But this facticity itself cannot be merely factical: it must be absolute. Here Meillassoux coins the French neologism factualité , which has been suitably translated into the English neologism “factiality.” (7, 122-3) Factialty means that for everything that exists, it is absolutely possible that it might be otherwise, not just that we cannot know whether or not it might be otherwise. Just as Kant transformed philosophy into a meditation on the categories governing human finitude, Meillassoux wishes to turn philosophy into a meditation on the necessary conditions of factiality, which he calls “figures”—a new technical term for him. (80) One such figure is that the law of non-contradiction must be true, and for an unusual reason. Since everything is proven to be contingent, nothing that exists can be contradictory, for whatever is contradictory has no opposite into which it might be transformed, and thus contingency would be impossible.3 Another such figure is that there must be something rather than nothing: for since contingency exists, something must exist in order to be contingent. It is a daring high-wire act, one that sacrifices realism to the correlational circle in order to rebuild it from out of its own ashes. Some might conclude that the lack of reason in things is a byproduct of the ignorance of finite humans, Meillassoux is making precisely the opposite point. For in fact, the doctrine of finitude usually leads directly to belief in a hidden reason. The fact that it lies beyond human comprehension merely increases our belief in this arbitrarily chosen concealed ground. By defending anew the concept of absolute knowledge Meillassoux evacuates the world of everything hidden. The reason for things having no reason is not that the reason is hidden, but that no reason exists. Thus, even while insisting on the necessity of non-contradiction, he rejects the other Leibnizian principle: sufficient reason. Everything simply is what it is, in purely immanent form, without deeply hidden causes. Or as Meillassoux puts it: “There is nothing beneath or beyond the manifest gratuitousness of the given—nothing but the limitless and lawless power of its destruction, emergence, or persistence” (63).The world is a “hyper-chaos”(64). But this is not the same thing as flux. For the chaos of the world is such that stability might occur just as easily as constant, turbulent change. Let’s now digress a bit, and return to the question of ancestrality, which Meillassoux transforms later in the book into “dia-chronicity.” Correlationism holds that all talk of a world outside the correlate is immediately recuperated by the correlate. The phrase “13.5 billion years ago” becomes “13.5 billion years ago for us ,” and the phrase “the universe following the extinction of humans” becomes “the universe following the extinction of humans for humans .” But notice that whether we talk about the world before or after humans, in both cases it is time that is used to challenge the correlate. Meillassoux has no interest in challenges that might be posed by space. For example, what about a vase in a lonely country house that topples to the floor and smashes when no one is there to watch it? Isn’t this also a challenge to correlationism, no less than the Big Bang or the heat death of the universe long after humans have vanished? In an eight-page supplement to the English translation of After Finitude ,4 possibly in response to my own 2007 review of the French original,5 Meillassoux bluntly denies that space is of any relevance to the question. Spatial distance is a merely harmless challenge to the human-world correlate. After all, even though no one is there in the lonely country house to witness the shattering of the vase, we can say that had there been an observer , that observer would have witnessed the toppling and destruction of the vase. For this event still occurs in a world in which the human-world correlate already exists, whereas the diachronicity of events both before and after the existence of humans makes it impossible to say that had there been an observer they would have witnessed the Big Bang occurring in such and such a fashion. However, it seems to me that Meillassoux merely asserts that the temporal simultaneity of our existence with that of the vase in the lonely country house is enough to render it harmless. It is true that the house does not exist prior to the correlate, but nonetheless it exists outside the correlate, and that is enough to make the same challenge. It is difficult to see why the “had there been an observer” maneuver succeeds in the case of a vase in the countryside in April 2011 but fails in the case of the Big Bang. This is not just a matter of nitpicking Meillassoux’s argumentative style: the fact that he bases his argument on time has at least two important consequences for his position. For in the first place, even though Meillassoux insists that the laws of nature are absolutely contingent, this turns out to be true only in a temporal sense. That is to say, it is a paradoxical feature of Meillassoux’s philosophy that he does allow for the existence of laws of nature, and simply believes that they can change at any moment without reason. Within any given moment, laws of nature do exist. He never suggests that different parts of the universe can have different laws at the same time, nor does he have any interest in the laws of part/whole composition that take place within any given instant. Could it be the case that rather than being made of gold atoms, a small chunk of gold could be made of silver atoms, cotton, horses, or that this same small piece of gold could be made of gigantic vaults filled with even more gold? These are not topics that draw Meillassoux’s attention, since he is focused solely on how the laws of nature might change or endure from one moment to the next . Another implication for Meillassoux’s system is that his concept of things-in-themselves turns out to be to be inadequate. For when he proves that things-in-themselves can exist without humans, this turns out to be true only in a temporal sense as well. Namely, things-in-themselves existed ten billion years ago, and they will continue to exist after all humans have succeeded in exterminating themselves. However, being able to exist before our births and after our deaths is just one small part of what it means to be a thing-in-itself. The more important part is that even if a thing is sitting on a table right now, in front of me, even if I stroke it lovingly or press my face up against it directly, I am still dealing only with a phenomenal version of the thing; the thing-in-itself continues to withdraw from all access. Yet no such thing is acknowledged by Meillassoux. For him finitude is a disaster, and absolute knowledge is in fact possible. Meillassoux’s thing-in-itself exists in independence only of the human lifespan , not of human knowledge. The fifth pillar of Meillassoux’s argument is his use of Cantor’s transfinite mathematics to show that even if the laws of nature are contingent, they need not be unstable, and thus we cannot use the apparent stability of nature to disprove his metaphysics of absolute contingency. What Cantor showed is that there are different sizes of infinity, and that all these infinities cannot be totalized in a single infinite number of infinities. Meillassoux sees this as crucial, since it allows him to discredit any “probabilistic” argument against his theory. The probabilistic argument (as defended quite clearly by Jean-René Vernes)6 would say this: given that the laws of nature seem so stable, it it is extremely improbable that there is no hidden reason for their remaining so stable. As Meillassoux sees it, probability is of value only when we can index an accessible total of cases. These can even be infinite: for example, there are an infinite number of points where a rope can break when stretched tight, but this does not stop us from calculating probabilities for various sections of the rope to break. By contrast, there is no way to sum up the number of possible laws of nature. For here there is no way to totalize; we cannot stand outside of nature and calculate the possible number of laws so as to determine the probabilities that any one of them might change. Therefore, although we can speak of probability when dealing with intraworldly events such as elections, horse races, and coin-flips, we cannot use the words “probable” or “improbable” when describing alterations at the level of nature as a whole. Rather than commenting on the validity of this argument and its use of Cantor, let me simply note that it once again creates a dualistic ontology. We already saw that Meillassoux treats time differently from space. In analogous fashion, he now treats the level of world differently from that of intraworldly events. The emergence of worlds is purely contingent and virtual and governed by no probability at all, while events within the world necessarily follow laws (even if these laws can change at any moment without reason), and thus their probabilities can be calculated. It is a strategy deeply reminiscent of Badiou’s (2005) own dualism between the normal “state of the situation” and the rare and intermittent “event.” The sixth and final pillar of Meillassoux’s book can be dealt with briefly, since we have already touched on it elsewhere. It comes at the very beginning of the book, when Meillassoux says that we must revive the distinction between primary and secondary qualities, and that the primary qualities are the ones that can be mathematized. He admits that he has not yet published a proof of this idea, though in fact it is already known as one of his primary doctrines. And here we encounter the familiar problem with Meillassoux’s inadequate conception of things-in-themselves. “Primary qualities” refers to those qualities that a thing has independently of its relations with us or anything else. But if the primary qualities can be mathematized, this means that they are not entirely independent of us, since our knowledge can get right to the bottom of them. The mathematized qualities of things are independent of us only in Meillassoux’s sense that they will still have those qualities even when all humans are dead. But to repeat, autonomy from the human lifespan is not the same as autonomy from human access. Here once more Meillassoux is concerned only with independence from the human-world correlate across time, not in any given instant. 2. L’Inexistence divine In 1997, the same year in which he turned thirty years old, Meillassoux earned his doctorate at the École normale supériuere with a brazen dissertation entitled L’Inexistence divine ( The Divine Inexistence ). The work was substantially revised in 2003. But even then, with typical fastidiousness, Meillassoux decided that the work was not yet ready for press. It has now been scrapped in favor of some future, multi-volume work bearing the same title. While writing my book on Meillassoux for Edinburgh University Press, I was permitted to translate excerpts from this unpublished work for use as an appendix in my own book; in total, the appendix contains approximately twenty percent of Meillassoux’s 2003 manuscript, the first time any of it will be published in any language. Nonetheless, a portion of the argument was already tested in the article “Spectral Dilemma,” published in English in the journal Collapse (2008: 261-75). There the philosophical motives for the virtual God are already made clear. What troubles us most are early deaths, brutal deaths, deaths of especial injustice– the sorts of deaths in which the brutal twentieth century was so abundant. And here, neither the atheist nor the believer can help us. The atheist can offer nothing but a sad and cynical resignation when reflecting on the victims of these terrible crimes. The believer does little better, being unable to explain how God could have allowed such things to happen, due to the famous intractability of the problem of evil. The solution offered to this dilemma by Meillassoux is bold, and all the more so given that he emerges from such a deeply Leftist, materialist, and unreligious background. His solution is that God does not yet exist, and therefore is not blameworthy for these catastrophes. Given that everything is contingent in Meillassoux’s philosophy, this God and divine justice might never exist, but they can at least exist as an object of hope. Let’s begin by jumping to the end of L’Inexistence divine , where the alternatives are laid out so nicely. There are four basic attitudes that humans can have towards God, Meillassoux says. First, we can believe in God because he exists. This is the classical theist attitude, rejected for the simple reason that it would be amoral and blasphemous to believe in a God who allows children to be eaten by dogs, to use Dostoevsky’s example. Second, we can disbelieve in God because he does not exist: the classical atheist attitude. But this leads to sadness, cynicism, and a sneering contempt for the greatness of human capacity. The third option, rather more complex, is to disbelieve in God because he does exist: in other words, to exist in rebellion against God as the one who must be blamed for the evils of the earth. The examples here might range from Lucifer himself, to the more human figure of Captain Ahab in Melville’s Moby-Dick , to Werner Herzog’s even more recent catchphrase, “Every man for himself, and God against all.” That leaves only the fourth option: believing in God because he does not exist. Meillassoux closes his book by saying that the fourth option has now been tried (namely, in the course of his own book), and that now that all four have been specified, we must choose. The first reaction to this theory of the inexistent God will be laughter. Few readers will ever be literally convinced by it, and probably none will immediately be convinced by it. But if we ask ourselves why we laugh, the answer is because it sounds so improbable that an inexistent God might suddenly emerge and resurrect the dead. It obviously sounds more like a gullible theology than a rigorous piece of philosophical work. Yet two things need to be kept in mind. First, Meillassoux’s theories are hardly more unlikely than those of great philosophers of the past such as Plato, Plotinus, Avicenna, Malebranche, Spinoza, Leibniz, Nietzsche, or Whitehead. We read the great philosophers not because their systems are plausible in commonsense terms that can be measured by the laws of probability. Instead, we read them precisely because they shatter the existing framework of common sense and open up new window on the universe. Second, and even more importantly, Meillassoux has already rejected probability as a valid measuring stick in philosophy. Or rather, he accepts probability in the intra-worldly realm (where it is linked with potentiality), and rejects it at the level of the world itself (where potentiality is replaced with what he calls virtuality). The virtual God can appear at any moment for no reason at all, just as any other new configuration of laws of nature can appear: in a manner that the laws of probability cannot calculate. Responding to those who might ridicule the idea of a sudden emergence of God and a resurrection of the dead, Meillassoux cites Pascal, who asserts that the resurrection of the dead would be far less incredible than the fact that we were born in the first place. This shifts philosophy onto new ground. Rather than concerning ourselves with what is likely to happen in the world as we know it, we focus instead on the most important things that could happen. For this reason, the expected objection that a virtual God is no more likely to appear than a virtual unicorn or a virtual flying spaghetti monster misses the point. Unicorns and spaghetti monsters could also appear, just like any other non-contradictory thing. But these would just be novel bizarre entities among others, not the heralds of completely new worlds. For Meillassoux, the emergence of matter, life, and thought have been the three truly amazing advents of the world so far, each of them dependent on the advent(s) preceding them. As he sees it, there can be no greater intraworldly entity than the human beings who already exist, since nothing in the world is better than the absolute knowledge of which humans alone are capable. This means that the next great advent must be something that perfects human beings rather than superseding them. And this can only be the world of justice, in which the dead are resurrected and their horrible deaths partially cancelled (Meillassoux never considers the possibility of a God who would literally erase the pre-divine past so that it never happened at all). The only immortality worth having is an immortality of this life, not an existence in some ill-defined afterworld. Human existence, he holds, must always be governed by a “symbol” that gives us the “immanent and comprehensible inscription of values in a world.” And just as cosmic history made the three great contingent leaps of matter, life, and thought, with a leap to justice as the only one still to come, a similar structure occurs within human culture and its symbols, which consist so far of the cosmological, naturalistic, and historical symbols, with a “factial” symbol still to come. We can review each of these symbols briefly. The cosmological symbol refers to the ancient dualism between the terrestrial and celestial spheres. Here below everything is conflict, corruption, and decay; but in the heavens nothing is perishable, all movement is circular, and everything is arranged in mutual harmony. This symbol is ended by modern physics when Galileo discovers such blemishes as sunspots and craters on the moon, and when Newton integrates both celestial and terrestrial movement into a single gravitational law. Next comes the naturalistic or romantic symbol, in which perfection comes not from the sky but from nature itself. The world is filled with pretty flowers (Meillassoux claims that the ancients never discussed the beauty of flowers until Plotinus in the third century) and with living creatures naturally moved by pity, at least until society corrupts them. This symbol collapses in the face of reality as we know it, since pity is no more common than war, corruption, and violence. This brings us to the historical symbol, which only now is passing away. Bad things may happen, but history has an inner logic of its own, such that everything works out in the end. The ultimate form of the historical symbol is the economic symbol, whether in a Marxist or neo-liberal form. Just as the Marxist holds that the inner economic logic of the capitalists will inexorably lead them to self-destruction, the neo-liberal assumes that the sum total of individual selfish actions will lead, in the long run, to the greatest possible good. We worship the economy and let it guide history for us, just as the ancients worshipped celestial bodies and held them to be free from blemish. The final remaining symbol is the factial symbol, which Meillassoux hopes will now emerge. Factiality, we recall, is his term for the absolute contingency of everything that exists. Once we have grasped this absolute contingency, we are free to expect the dramatic advent of the coming fourth World: the world of justice, inaugurated by a virtual God and even mediated by a messianic human figure. There is the added feature, however, that this messiah must abandon all claims to special status once the messianic realm of justice is achieved. The messianic figure will then be no more special than any person on the street, since a reign of human equality will have arisen. Although this focus on human being might seem like a return to standard humanism, Meillassoux holds that human pre-eminence has never truly been maintained. Previously, humans have been treated as special only because they contemplate the Good, because they resemble their omnipotent creator, or because they happen to be the temporary victors in a cruel Darwinian death-match between millions of living species. For Meillassoux, by contrast, humans have value because they know the eternal. But it is not the eternal that is important, since this merely represents the blind, anonymous contingency of each thing. What is important is not knowledge of the eternal , but knowledge of the eternal. We should not admire Prometheus for stealing fire from the gods; Prometheus is simply as bad as all the gods, no matter how much he increased our power. Feuerbach and Marx were wrong to say that God is a projection of the human essence, since for Meillassoux the usual concept of God represents the degradation of the human essence. If the traditional God was allowed to inflict plagues and tsunamis on the human race, the Promethean human of the twentieth century simply assumes the right to inflict death camps and atomic fireballs instead. In this respect, we have simply begun to imitate the degradation of humanity that was formerly invested in an omnipotent and arbitrary God. In response to charges that absolute contingency might lead to political quietism, Meillassoux counters that the World of justice would mean nothing unless we had already hoped for it beforehand. A World of justice that came along at random would merely be an improved third World of thought: indeed, a perfect one. But it would have satisfied no craving, and would therefore have no redemptive power. For this reason, we must actively hope for the fourth World of justice for such a fourth World ever to arise. Not only justice, but beauty is dependent on such hope: for Meillassoux, who is here somewhat dependent on Kant, beauty means an accord between our human symbolization and the actual world, which could never be present in a World of the blessed any more than justice could. And just as a messianic figure is needed to incarnate our hope and then abandon power once the World of justice is realized, it is the figure of the child whose fragile contingency shows us a dignity and a demand for justice beyond all power. 3. Meillassoux Radicalized or Reversed Given the promising reception of Meillassoux’s first book, it would not be groundless to engage in early speculation about what it might take to earn him a place in the history of philosophy. Maybe this will never happen—who knows?—but quite possibly it will: his lucid argumentative methods and sheer philosophical imagination at least make him a good candidate to be read well into the future, especially following further elaboration in print of his mature system. Philosophy is often practiced as thought it were nothing more than the amassing of “knockdown arguments.” But this is no more insightful than saying that good architecture is the amassing of steal beams. It is true that poorly constructed building cannot stand for long, but sound construction is merely the first, indispensable step in building. In fact, I am inclined to say that what really makes a philosopher important is not being right, but being wrong . I mean this in a very specific sense. I once heard the interesting remark about twentieth century culture that “you have to remember that the sixties really happened in the seventies.” That is to say, it was in the 1970’s rather than the more honored 1960’s that civil rights, free love, long hair, and the rock and roll drug culture really took root. With respect to the history of philosophy, we might just as easily say: “you have to remember that Plato really happened in Aristotle,” that “Kant really happened in Hegel” or “Hume really happened in Kant,” or that “Husserl’s phenomenology first achieved its truth in Heidegger.” One becomes an important philosopher not by being right, but by attracting rebellious admirers who tell you that you are wrong , even as their own careers silently orbit around your own. To recruit faithful disciples may be comforting and flattering, but the greatest thinkers have generally had to experience refutation at the hands of their most talented heirs. For this reason, I would propose that we size up the magnitude of living thinkers not by deciding how many times they are right and wrong, but by asking instead: who would take the trouble to refute this author? For this reason I do not ask: “Is Meillassoux right?”, since I do not believe in the virtual God myself, nor am I convinced by any important aspect of Meillassoux’s philosophy. Instead, I ask if there are interesting ways to overturn him. Only by being overturned, by no longer remaining a contemporary, does one become a classic. Let’s begin with a simple model of refutation, which can be refined further at a later date once the basic point is established. One kind of refutation simply consists in saying: “This author is a complete idiot.” The refuter now walks away in celebration, and no link between the present and the future is built; all is reduced to rubble. But this sort of mediocre triumphalism is generally practiced by those who achieve little of their own, and is not especially interesting. Much more interesting is the sort of refutation that does not take its target to be a complete idiot. I would like to suggest that there are just two basic ways in which this can be done: radicalization and reversal . It has not escaped my notice that this is a fairly good match for the Deleuzian distinction between irony and humor. Whereas irony critiques and adopts the opposite principle of what it attacks, humor accepts what it confronts but pushes it into highly exaggerated form. The ironist is like the worker who sows chaos by rebeling and contradicting the boss, while the humorist is like the worker who follows orders to an absurdly literal degree, with equally chaotic results. Let’s start with a few examples. In Aristotle’s treatment of Plato, and Heidegger’s of Husserl, we find reversal. Plato’s eidei are transformed by Aristotle into mere secondary substances, and the individual worldly things despised by Plato become what is primary. For Husserl what is primary is whatever is present to consciousness, while for Heidegger this is precisely what is secondary, since the primary stuff of the world withdraws from any form of presence at all. As for radicalization, it is most easily found in the transformation of Kant by German Idealism: “Kant was right to wall off the things-in-themselves from human access, and simply should have realized that the thought of the Ding an sich is also a thought, and thereby the noumena are just special cases of the phenomena,” with much following from this discovery. It would also be easy to read Spinoza as a radicalizer of Descartes, and Berkeley and Hume as radicalized versions of Locke. Perhaps the distinction is now sufficiently clear. Admiring refutations are not those that say “Professor X is an idiot,” which is merely the flip side of the eager disciple’s fruitless “Professor X got everything right.” Instead, it will be some variant of one of the following two options: “Professor X is important, but got it backwards,” or “Professor X is important, but didn’t push things far enough.” In the history of philosophy these two latter cases have often been painful in purely human terms: Aristotle expresses sadness at refuting Plato, Kant is openly annoyed at Fichte, and Husserl feels betrayed and used by Heidegger. Rude handling from later figures almost seems to be the sine qua non of being a great philosopher. Now, it has already been claimed that Meillassoux is an emerging philosopher of the first importance, and by no less a figure than Alain Badiou: “It would be no exaggeration to say that Quentin Meillassoux has opened up a new path in the history of philosophy…” (Preface, vii). But rather than taking Badiou’s word for it, or rejecting his word, we might experiment by asking how Meillassoux could be radicalized or reversed. Are there interesting ways of doing this that might launch whole new schools of philosophy, unexpected or even condemned by Meillassoux himself? While no one can see the future, the present is poor when it is not riddled with virtual futures. The relation between philosophers and their predecessors and successors is always somewhat complicated, of course. But generally there is one central divergence at stake, which might be taken as the key to all the others. On this basis we could say that new thinkers primarily radicalize or primarily reverse the main ideas of their chief philosophical forerunner. There may be specific historical conditions and perhaps even personality traits connected with these two types, but this question can be left aside for now. More important for us is that radicalizers will generally be followed by reversers, and vice versa. Consider the textbook example of a reversal in the history of philosophy: Kant’s Copernican Revolution, which inverts the so-called dogmatic tradition that addresses the world itself, and makes the world revolve instead around the conditions by which it is known. While it is not completely impossible that Kant’s successors might have re-reversed this principle back into a new and stronger dogmatic realism, conditions were premature for such a move. Anyone doing this too early would likely have been an angry anti-Kantian reactionary rather than an original thinker in command of a genuinely new realist principle. The far more likely outcome is the one that actually happened: Kant’s reversal of his predecessors was viewed as incomplete, or as retaining lamentable bits of the traditional view, which despite his admirable breakthrough he was unable to shake off. This was the view of German Idealism, anyway. In similar fashion, Spinoza could also be viewed as a radicalizer of Descartes, who is equally accused of preserving various Scholastic dogmas in an otherwise radical project of philosophical reversal. The point is this: reversals in the history of thought tend to be followed soon thereafter by radicalizations of those reversals. The same may hold true in reverse: radicalizations might generally be followed by reversals, given that it is not always possible to be more radical than the radicals have already been. Consider the case of Husserl, who radicalizes Brentano’s early vagueness about what lies beyond immanent objectivity, and Twardowski’s assertion that there must be an external object lying outside the intentional content, by collapsing everything into the intentional sphere: there is no difference between the Berlin in my consciousness and the actual Berlin that is home to millions of people. It is difficult to see how one could be even more radical than Husserl’s idealist turn here. And thus the road is paved to Heidegger’s reversal of classical phenomenology, in which the key point is what lies deeper than any presence to consciousness: the Sein whose power and obscurity cannot be made exhaustively present, but only sends itself in historical epochs. In similar fashion we might also read Leibniz as a reverser of Spinoza’s radicalization, retrieving a strong sense of individual substance and a certain validity of what the Scholastics had said. Returning to Meillassoux, we might ask which kind of philosopher he is: a radicalizer or a reverser? At present, Meillassoux looks to me like a radicalizer (though for now his future remains shrouded in mist). He takes the correlationist tradition, which allows us to speak only of the relation between human and world, and tries to raise it into an even more extreme claim about the absolute contingency of everything. But whereas German Idealism did this by trying to collapse the distinction between thought and world entirely into the “thought” side, Meillassoux does it by trying to shift the non-absolute contingency of the thought-world correlate from epistemology to ontology. It is no longer a question of the inability of human knowledge to know what lies outside the correlate, but the inability of reality itself to be rooted in any definite laws. Furthermore, if we look at the various features of Meillassoux’s philosophy identified earlier tonight, all but one are already so radical that there is no obvious way to push them further. The one exception would be his claim that the world as a whole can change for no reason at any moment, coupled with the inconsistent claim that within a given world there are laws of nature that everything must follow. If gravitational attraction between all masses is a current law in our world, then for Meillassoux there can be no exceptions to this law for as long as it remains in force. A toppled vase will fall to the floor every time for sure,unless there is a cosmic change by which the laws of nature as a whole have altered. (This is reminiscent of the late medieval distinction between the absolute and ordained power of God, according to which God has the power to set or change the laws of nature, but not to contravene those laws locally once they are set.) On this point, to radicalize Meillassoux would simply be to say: there are no laws of nature even in the local sense. Everything that happens, even in the world here and now, is purely contingent and not governed by even a trace of law. And while this would be a more consistent development of Meillassoux’s thoughts on contingency, it is difficult to see how it could lead to a new philosophy. Instead, the admiring successors of Meillassoux are more likely to reverse one of his already sufficiently radical points. At least four candidates come to mind: *First, we have seen that Meillassoux thinks correlationism is challenged by a time before or after consciousness, but not by a space lying outside it. Perhaps this could be reversed into saying that spatial exteriority is the really crucial point. The arguments on this point are perhaps the least convincing in After Finitude (and do not even occur in the original French edition), and therefore it might be a candidate for the “blind spot” of which no philosopher is ever free. *Second, Meillassoux uses Cantor to claim that the contingency of laws of nature would not entail that they are unstable. A successor of Meillassoux might claim that it does make them unstable, and celebrate this fact. This person would then have to explain why common sense seems to encounter a relatively stable world despite its truly rampant instability. Whereas Meillassoux’s problem is to show how stability might exist despite contingency, this successor’s problem would be slightly different: to show why actual, full-blown instability might have the appearance of stability. *Third, Meillassoux claims that the primary qualities of things are those that can be mathematized. He might be reversed by a successor who says the opposite: the mathematizable qualities are the secondary ones, and the primary ones are those that elude symbolic formulation. While this is a perfectly valid possible objection to Meillassoux, it is one that is made in advance by some of his predecessors and is still made by some of his peers, making it less interesting for futurology than some of his other points. *Fourth and finally, whereas Meillassoux claims that God does not exist but might exist in the future, a successor might argue even more bizarrely that God has always existed but might vanish in the future. Let’s arbitrarily select the first of these possibilities, and imagine briefly where it might lead, if pursued in the future by admiring detractors. Meillassoux comes from the circle of Badiou, and some of Badiou’s most ardent admirers are found in Latin America. So, let’s imagine that towards mid-century some ingenious reversers of Meillassoux emerge in that portion of the Spanish-speaking world. Just for fun, let’s call them Castro and Chávez. And in order to avoid any confusion with the present-day politicians of those names, we will stipulate that Meillassoux’s great successors are both women. The philosopher Castro (we will suppose she comes from Peru) reverses Meillassoux’s argument that the ancestral or diachronic are what most threaten the human-world correlate. Instead, she claims that the diachronic does not threaten the correlate at all, and that we must instead look at space as what ruins the correlate and demands a strange new realism. What would such a philosophy look like? In order to determine this, we might ask what price Meillassoux pays for doing it the opposite way. As I see it, he pays in two separate ways. One is that laws of nature for him are contingent over time . The laws of nature apply to the universe as a whole at any given moment, and would be changed globally if they are ever changed at all. The second price he pays is that Meillassoux has no mereology , or theory of parts and wholes. Everything for him is on the level of the given, or immanent in experience, with the sole proviso that the laws governing this immanence might change without notice at any given moment. In reversing Meillassoux, Castro makes the following claims in the preface to her stunning debut book of 2045, The Cosmos and its Neighborhoods , rapidly translated from Spanish into all the languages of the world: Despite his brilliant analysis of the contingency of laws of nature over time, Meillassoux gets two important assumptions wrong. First, he allows for only one set of contingent laws to govern nature as a whole. Second, he allows laws to govern only the world that is immanent in experience, and thereby fails to explore the contingency among part-whole relations. In this book I will argue, first, that the laws of nature vary in any given instant between one region of the universe and the next; and second, that the world is made up of layers of parts and wholes that are also contingent with respect to one another. Those are the words of Castro. This may sound like a hopeless free-for-all of chaos, yet the book somehow succeeds in drawing some compelling deductions about how laws must vary from one place or level in the world to the next. Trapped in the limited horizon of 2011, and not yet inspired by the heavily balkanized political and technological situation of 2050 that somehow lends additional credence to Castro’s vision, we can only vaguely grasp what such a philosophy might look like. After this reversal of Meillassoux by Castro, the usual pattern leads us to expect a radicalization by Chávez, a young Argentine student of Castro. How could the already strange theories of Castro be radicalized? Perhaps as follows, in a disturbing new book entitled The Implosion of the Neighborhoods , which argues as follows: Castro was right to shift the Meillassouxian framework of contingency from time to space. However, in this respect she retained a surprisingly traditional opposition between the two. In this book I will show that time and space collapse into one another. This may sound too much like the discredited four-dimensional block universe of twentieth century physics and philosophy. However, the four-dimensional universe is a model biased in favor of space, merely adding an extra dimension to the commonsense spatial continuum while stipulating that the serial passage of time is an illusion. In this book I will argue instead for a one-dimensional space-time modeled after our experience of time, in which there is no simultaneous co-existence at all between different parts of the universe, or ‘neighborhoods’ as my esteemed teacher Castro has called them. Instead, the various portions of the universe link to one another by succession rather than by coexistence. Buenos Aires, New York, and Amsterdam do not exist simultaneously in the same landscape, but one after the other in the mind of some observer, and this observer can only be an observer much larger than any human. Against Meillassoux’s notion of a virtual God that does not exist now but might exist in the future, I will argue for an actual God that surveys the universe in sequence, thereby generating the illusion of spatial diversity and even the illusion of individual minds located within that diversity. Once this divine observer dies, the universe as a whole must perish. Again, these ideas are so bizarre that we of 2011 can barely comprehend them, just as Aristotle would have had a difficult time grasping the theories of Descartes. We could then perhaps imagine a further reversal of this theory, emanating from the intellectually resurgent Philippines of the twenty-second century. The Filipino School might argue that the universe is already dead, given the collapse of its spatial richness into the serial observations of a flimsy and mortal God. The virtual universe does not yet exist, but might exist in fully spatial form in the future, and this would require the death of God and the resulting liberation of God’s succession of images as independent, spatially situated realities. With a bit of sharpening, we might be able to make all of these imaginary thinkers more intuitively clear. Along with the history of philosophy, there might arise a new discipline generating imaginary futures for philosophy. The richness of Meillassoux’s system comes not from the fact that he is plausibly right about so many things, but because his philosophy offers such a treasury of bold statements ripe for being radicalized or reversed. He is a rich target for many still-unborn intellectual heirs, and this is what gives him the chance to be an important figure. NOTES 1. Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude . Trans. R Brassier. (London: Continuum, 2008.) Page 5. The word “correlationism” does not appear in his doctoral thesis. As Meillassoux informed me in an email of February 8, 2011, he first coined this term in 2003 or 2004, while editing for publication a lecture he had given at the École normale supérieure on a day devoted to the theme of “Philosophy and Mathematics,” an event including Alain Badiou as one of the participants. 2. Graham Harman, Quentin Meillassoux: Philosophy in the Making . (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming 2011). 3. In an email of December 6, 2010, Meillassoux clarifies that in After Finitude he only deduces the impossibility of a “universal contradiction,” not of a determinate contradiction. In the same email he suggests that he can also prove the latter, though the proof is somewhat lengthier than the one found in After Finitude . 4. After Finitude (18-26), in the passage falling between the two sets of triple asterisks. These pages were sent by Meillassoux to translator Ray Brassier (in French) during the translation process, and do not appear in the original French version of the book. 5. Graham Harman, “Quentin Meillassoux: A New French Philosopher.” Philosophy Today 51.1 (2007): Pages 104-117. The passage where I raise the question of space can be found in the first column of page 107. 6. Vernes is first cited on p. 95 of After Finitude . See Jean-René Vernes, Critique de la raison aléatoire, ou Descartes contra Kant . (Paris: Aubier, 1982).  . (shrink)
In this paper I argue that there need be nothing circular in a Christian theist’s defending herself against the potential defeater presented by Paul Draper’s  formulation of the problem of evil, nothing circular in defending herself by appeal to the fact that she believes as a result of the promptings of the Sensus Divinitatis (SD) or the Internal Instigation of the Holy Spirit (IIHS). David Silver  has argued that there is an illegitimate circularity proposed for such a (...) theist by Alvin Plantinga in Warranted Christian Belief . The way out of the circle, thinks Silver, would be by adopting a kind of evidentialism: making an appeal to evidence that is independent of the reasons she has for holding theistic belief in the first place. (shrink)
In its widest scope, Tarski thought the aims of logic should be the creation of “a unified conceptual apparatus which would supply a common basis for the whole of human knowledge.” Those were his very words in the Preface to the first English edition of the Introduction to Logic (1940). Toward that grand end, in the post-war years when the institutional and financial resources became available, with extraordinary persistence and determination Tarski campaigned vigorously on behalf of logic on several fronts (...) from his increasingly powerful base at the University of California in Berkeley. The first order of business was to build up a school in logic bridging the university’s Mathematics and Philosophy Departments, and the opening wedge in that was the hiring of Leon Henkin as Professor of Mathematics in 1953. From then on, Henkin was Tarski’s right-hand man in the logic campaigns, locally, nationally and internationally, but he had other allies, both in Mathematics and in Philosophy. The first goal was to increase the proportion of logicians on the mathematics faculty to 10% of the whole; that took a number of years, eventually achieved with the appointment of Addison, Vaught, Solovay, Scott, Silver, Harrington and McKenzie. Through his influence in Philosophy, he succeeded in recruiting Myhill, Craig, Chihara and Sluga. Hans Sluga tells a story which gives a vivid picture of how Tarski operated: they met in 1966 when Tarski was in London to give the Shearman Lectures at Bedford College. Sluga, then a young faculty member interested in the philosophy of logic, was delegated to show him around. Personally impressed, at the end of his stay Tarski asked Sluga if he would like to come to Berkeley. Sluga said, “You mean permanently?” Tarski replied, “Yes.” Sluga said, “You mean you can invite me just like that?” and Tarski said, “If I tell them to take you, they will take you.”. (shrink)
This article concerns a silver beaker (now at the Residenzmuseum, Munich) decorated with scenes which seem to be related to the Spanish conquest of Mexico. On the basis of stylistic, iconographic and archival evidence the silversmith is here tentatively identified with an Italian-born artist, Stefano Capello, who is thought to have added a decoration to a pre-existing beaker on the eve of the treaty of Cambrai (3 August 1529). Margaret of Austria, aunt of the emperor Charles V, might have (...) given the beaker as a gift to Louise of Savoy, mother of Francis I, king of France. The article argues, relying upon Warburg’s notion of Pathosformeln (formulas of emotion), that in the early 16th century the New World was perceived and made familiar through an Old World idiom, based on visual formulas taken from classical antiquity and mediated by the Italian Renaissance. (shrink)
The tension between the advocates of the Black Death as the herald of a new age, and those who see plague as proof of the resiliency of medieval mentalities, is rapidly dissolving. The conflict/resolution model, with its overtones of teleology, progress, and Naturphilosophie, is proving less useful to historians of epidemiology than one emphasizing continuity, gradual change, and the stoicism of the ordinary person. Historians of the plague are gravitating more and more to an intensive study of the local impact (...) of the Black Death. Such local studies reveal diversity — in economic and demographic impact, in the availability of historical sources, and in the interpretation these sources allow. The Black Death still retains its “silver lining,” but even that is changing: from proof of the awesome power of nature to level mankind and transform history, to proof of humanity's ability to endure even the worst crisis, to rebuild, and to start again. (shrink)
Two eleven-year-old boys face a bulletin board, arranging silver thumbtacks into shapes of fighter planes. They have arrived early for an after-school puppet workshop. Both boys are under five feet tall: the thin one sports a green terrycloth wristband and a big fro. “The girls like the poof,” he says. The other boy has a fuller body, a haircut similar to the Fab Four in the late sixties, and wears wide-leg jeans and a red t-shirt that brushes his kneecaps. (...) The boys talk while puncturing the corkboard with tacks. I like this game. It’s Star Miner. There’s this thing. It’s a ship that looks like this. The other ships are too detailed. You try and blow up a jet thingy, it spirals and can catch on .. (shrink)
The stage III deformation of 318 single crystal tests of 40 experimentalists in aluminium, nickel, gold, silver, lead and copper is quantitatively compared, through the Taylor aggregate theory, with the present writer's generalized linearly temperature-dependent stress?strain law for completely annealed polycrystals earlier determined by the writer from the measurement of dynamic plastic strain by means of diffraction gratings. From calculations dependent upon a knowledge of stage II parameters, and from independent direct stage III calculations, the single crystal deformation of (...) these six f.c.c. metals is found to be in close agreement with prediction. This parabolic linearly temperature dependent stage III deformation of the single crystals of these six f.c.c. metals is found to be independent of purity, of strain rate, of type of test (i.e. tension or compression) and of initial orientation when the resolved shear strain is calculated for single slip. The universal constant, ? 0=58·0 Kg/mm2, from the polycrystalline deformation is found to be determinable from the single crystal tests of all six metals at temperatures varying from 4·2°K to 1173°K, with single crystal parabolas grouped according to lattice spacing and atomic volume. (shrink)
This article examines the grounds for Plato's negative attitude towards trade, commerce and currency in the Laws. The author shows that commerce and trade are condemned because they are fundamentally private, and demonstrates that Plato rejects gold and silver currency because its use encourages a kind of cosmopolitanism. Rather than condemning the competitiveness or licentiousness of the economic sphere, Plato critiques it for turning the citizens' attention away from civic life.
continent. 2.1 (2012): 44–55. Philosophers are sperm, poetry erupts sperm and dribbles, philosopher recodes term, to terminate, —A. Staley Groves 1 There is, in the relation of human languages to that of things, something that can be approximately described as “overnaming”—the deepest linguistic reason for all melancholy and (from the point of view of the thing) for all deliberate muteness. Overnaming as the linguistic being of melancholy points to another curious relation of language: the overprecision that obtains in the tragic (...) relationship between the languages of human speakers. —Walter Benjamin 2 Prologue. Any text with an inflection of the word “thesis” in its title risks closing the borders of what is posited in it. However, perhaps it would be possible to think this act of defining in a way that is less, so to say, definitive. I would like to recall the opening line of Aristotle’s De Interpretatione , a constellation of theses, if anything. “First it needs to be posited [ thesthai ] what a noun and what a verb [is].” 3 Upon closer inspection, the definitions of the noun ( onoma ) and verb ( rh?ma ) do not at all appeal to any notion of strictly bordering-off, but are merely captured in a movement toward definition, establishing their own horizons. 4 It is therefore not a coincidence that Aristotle deploys the aorist medio-passive infinitive thesthai to describe this process. It is an infinite, self-instigating movement without proper horizon or telos . 5 It is this sense of thesis in relation to the basic components of language that I will attempt—perhaps in what may prove to be a gesture of what Walter Benjamin called “overnaming” 6 —to posit as cumposition , the composition of philosophical discourse that is conscious of the abyss of language in which it moves. 7 1. In her essay “When Philosophy Meant the Love of Wisdom,” Avital Ronell evokes the following question: What if philosophy’s love for wisdom has gone bad? The perversity of philosophy’s love not only appears in its recursiveness as the love of love for wisdom, first presented in Plato’s Symposium , but also “in all its brutality, especially when it’s set against literature and poetry.” 8 Philosophy’s love is a brutal one, perverse. Indeed, Immanuel Kant famously described the scene of metaphysics as a ‘battleground of … endless controversies,” 9 and “destined for exercising its forces in mock combat, and upon which no combatant has ever been able to gain even the least ground for himself by fighting.” 10 Because of the many modalities of love from the onset of philosophy onwards, Ronell signals the difficulty of addressing in any universal way the question of love in philosophy, unless she would consider it “in its essentially sado-masochistic dimension.” 11 As Heidegger already remarked parenthetically in his Introduction to Metaphysics , polemos as war and confrontation is the same as the logos . 12 Philosophy has always been a polemical discourse. 2. At the same moment, however untimely this moment may be, love has been conspicuously absent from Heidegger’s work. Nevertheless, Giorgio Agamben has been able to tease out Dasein’s love as a “passion of facticity.” 13 Agamben develops from out of Heidegger’s war-struck logos the following definition of love, which will allows to proceed to a reading of the origin of philosophy itself as the love of wisdom, a relation that in itself may hide “a kind of original fetishism.” 14 What man introduces into the world, his “proper,” is not simply the light and opening of knowledge but above all the opening to concealment and opacity. Al?theia , truth, is the safeguard of l?th? , nontruth; […] Love is the passion of facticity in which man bears this nonbelonging and darkness, appropriating ( adsuefacit [ ereignet ]) them while safeguarding them as such. Love is thus not, as the dialectic of desire suggests, the affirmation of the self in the negation of the loved object; it is, instead, the passion and exposition of facticity itself and of the irreducible impropriety of being. In love, the lover and the beloved come to light in their concealment, in an eternal facticity beyond Being . 15 Truth as al?theia , “unhiddenness” or “unconcealment,” which has in recent times again gained a special prominence in certain regions of philosophical discourse, is thus the ultimate expression of Dasein’s love, even if, for the philosopher, the beloved is love itself. 3. In Plato’s Symposium , Socrates famously introduces the philosopher as a figure in love with wisdom. But also Love himself is a philosopher, a lover of wisdom; he is an interpreter ( herm?neuon ), 16 a hermeneutic, a messenger between the gods and men. He organises all intercourse and dialectic interaction between them. 17 Plato’s definition starts with Socrates invoking Diotima of Mantineia, who had instructed him in eroticism. 18 Diotima inseminated Socrates with the seeds of philosophy, taught him how to love. We can imagine young Socrates paying his first visit to her, seeking affection and pleasure in her maternal body. “What then,” we hear Socrates asking, “may love be?” And here we find Diotima answering his call: “the love of the good is always to its own [ aut?i einai aei ].” Socrates answers: “that is the very truth [ al?thestata ],” 19 or, as Heidegger would translate it, “the most unhidden.” 20 So already in this primal scene of philosophy’s love we find the intimate relation between love and unconcealment. 4. If Love is a philosopher who practices the love of the good as the highest truth, an abyss opens: what is the truth of philosophy itself? Necessarily, this must be a truth outside the logic of (un)concealment, outside the logic of the Ereignis or the event, if it doesn’t want to fall into an infinite regress. Some have argued that there is no such thing as philosophical truth, yet this truth has appeared, albeit marginally, in another discussion of love, as the etumos logos , true discourse. 21 This was already pointed at by Michel Foucault, 22 and later commented upon by Christopher Fynsk: “the exigencies to which Foucault answered in seeking his 'truth,' [ etumos ] […] are linked to an exigency met in any consequent meditation on the essence of language.” 23 Any consequent meditation on the essence of language, perhaps a meditation as it takes place within philosophy on its own language, will have to arrive at a certain truth, even when as unstable, incoherent, and assaulting the borders of finitude as etymology may be. Etymology is the truth of philosophical discourse. 5. Our meditation on the relations between philosophy, love and truth means in no way to move toward a philosophy which would take “Desire” as its transcendental signified, distributing different desires for truth through different discourse levels, nor discard it as an extra-philosophical affect. A position such as would be assumed by any philosophy of desire is ferociously attacked by Jean-François Lyotard in his book Libidinal Economy , but in doing so he hits upon a—for him despicable—condition of the philosopher, the one who is “nothing but thought,” the one with whom we tend to sympathise; the condition of the “as if.” This is philosophy’s meta-ontological mask. Philosophy’s love is the love of the as if: “[A]nd so, to be, I have only to place myself as well in the circumference, turn with the intensities, act as if I loved, suffered, laughed, ran, fucked, slept, shat, and pissed, I, thought.” 24 Even though Lyotard wishes that “this supreme effort of thought die,” 25 we, in our turn and not so afraid to die, may now also perhaps define etumos as truth “as if” al?theia ; the former makes an appeal to the latter’s affect, but is not “the real thing”—or wherever the quotation marks need to take hold to stabilise our discourse. 6. Even a philosophical discourse as self-asserting and sanitised from any affective overtones as Alain Badiou’s does not escape this condition. In his work, the philosopher is a figure of circulation, someone who, at the end of the day, can only act “as if.” This typology of the philosopher is first hinted at in Being and Event , when Badiou claims that, “philosophy is not centred on ontology—which exists as a separate and exact discipline—rather it circulates between this ontology […], the modern theories of the subject and its own history.” 26 Philosophy is thus in the first place separated from ontology and therefore merely circulates along it. Beside ontology, which in Badiou’s work appears as a fully atonic axiomatization of set theory, 27 philosophy circulates through the theories of the subject, which, under the procedure of poetry, are subtractive of ontology, thus allowing for the appearance of a truth as an event ( Ereignis as the unconcealment of concealment) and subjective fidelity, and the history of philosophy itself: its discourses and the story of its limitless love of wisdom. For Badiou, the right of philosophy is the right to cite its conditions, the right to cite their truths. The text of philosophy is the text of citation. 28 The philosophical act thus is “an act of second thought.” 29 7. If, as Plato suggested, the love for the good is the highest truth, the bursting forth of this truth as event happens outside philosophy. Either as the ultimate idea that is sought or as uncounted inconsistency exploding into maximum existence, registered on philosophy’s seismographs, this truth as event remains tightly bound to a philosophical desire for truth. Mehdi Belhaj Kacem even claims that “the event […] is the ontological structure of Desire,” 30 and “Desire wants the event.” 31 Superlatively (perhaps: most truthfully), “The event has the structure of rape.” 32 Although we should place a number of question marks in the margins of Kacem’s philosophical project and his rapid conflation of multiple textual registers, he does point out a certain sedation of philosophy’s love of wisdom in Badiou’s work. However, that philosophy would be a place to house multiple truths, circulating among them, again opens us to the ‘perversity’ of this love that Ronell pointed out. Philosophy cruises truths. 8. How does philosophy’s “second thought” arrive, if ever? Philosophy’s lovely circulation through what is already presented by mathematics, theories of the subject and its own history is first conditioned by a sustained belief in the possibility of formalisation. But what if this formalisation itself is bound to fail? What if we deny formalisation, or at least point to the discomfort we experience of such forcing to formal appearance such as painstakingly described in Witold Gombrowicz’ literary oeuvre. Jacques Derrida already pointed out in reference to Husserl’s final appeal to geometry, that “the institution of geometry could only be a philosophical act.” 33 Similarly, we could criticise that the act of formalisation on which Badiou’s citational appropriation of mathematics, and therefore the circulation of philosophy, rests: “As soon as we utilize the concept of form—even if to criticize an other concept of form—we inevitably have recourse to the self-evidence of a kernel of meaning. And the medium of this self-evidence can be nothing than the language of metaphysics.” 34 At the end of the same essay Derrida sketches out the consequences this has for philosophy, which, however, strangely resonate with what Badiou proposes as philosophy’s circulation. One might think […] that formality—or formalization—is limited by the sense of Being which, in fact, throughout its entire history, has never been separated from its determination as presence, beneath the excellent surveillance of the is : and that henceforth the thinking of form has the power to extend itself the thinking of Being. But that the two limits thus denounced are the same may be what Husserl’s enterprise illustrates[.…] Thus, one probably does not have to choose between two lines of thought. Rather, one has to meditate upon the circularity which makes them pass into on another indefinitely. And also, by rigorously repeating this circle in its proper historical possibility, perhaps to let some elliptical displacement be produced in the difference of repetition: a deficient displacement, doubtless, but deficient in a way that is not yet—or no longer—absence, negativity , non-Being, lack, silence. 35 In many ways this resounds with what I have stated above. Although Badiou radically separates the “thinking of form” and the “thinking of Being” to respectively the meta-ontological/philosophical domain and the ontological/mathematical domain, the remainder within philosophy itself appears as this “ circle in its proper historical possibility.” And indeed we may have traced a “deficient displacement” which is not yet or no longer an “absence” as would be the truth subtractive to ontology: the “as if”–truth 36 of the etumos as truth in philosophy itself, the truth of philosophy as love of wisdom. 9. We may want to ask whether the two lines of thought theorised by Derrida and again separated by Badiou both exhibit this circularity. If that would be the case, this would allow us to consider their intertwinement more in depth. What Derrida calls the “thinking of Being” and Badiou refers to as “ontology” is thoroughly unbound by what is commonly referred to in an economic discourse as capitalism. The sudden insertion of a materialist trope may seem infelicitous here, however, capitalism has, as Badiou put it succinctly, also a “properly ontological virtue.” 37 The logic of capitalism, even though it operates in the “most complete barbarity,” 38 has an ontological virtue of its own, namely the destruction of the One as viable metaphysical point of departure. The “barbarity” of capitalism’s destructive character operates by “brute force,” but also sometimes by, as Walter Benjamin put it, “the most refined” 39 one. In any case, it unbinds all. As Lyotard stated in one of his seemingly unending sentences: Capital is not the denaturation of relations between man and man, nor between man and woman, is the wavering of the (imaginary?) primacy of genitality, of reproduction and sexual difference, it is the displacement of what was in place, it is the unbinding of the most inane pulsions, since money is the sole justification or bond, and money being able to justify anything, it deresponsibilizes and raves absolutely, it is the sophistics of the passions and at the same time, their energetic prosthetics; […] it has certain anti-unitary and anti-totalizing traits [...]40 Thus capital and capitalism are figures of unbinding and circulation. We find ourselves here in the metaphorical domain of philosophy that both in Lyotard and Badiou has its recourse to an economic discourse. Derrida has addressed this tendency at length in his essay “White Mythology,”41 and in a different register I will attempt to address it below, acknowledging that indeed philosophical language may be a “fund of 'forced metaphors.'”42 10. How is it that truth emerges from the ontological wasteland of capitalism, to be captured by philosophy’s love of wisdom? What is this love responding to and how is it that philosophy refuses to turn the other cheek to reality? Perhaps a beginning of an answer to this question may lie in the way in which Marx parenthetically defined capitalism: “the universal relation of utility and use” as “universal prostitution.” 43 which includes everyone: Prostitution is only a particular expression of the general prostitution of the worker, and because prostitution is a relationship which includes both the person prostituted and the person prostituting—whose baseness is even greater—thus the capitalist, too, etc. is included within this category. 44 It may prove fruitful to read general prostitution here in the logic of unbinding and circulation, following Benjamin, who speaks of an “erotology of the damned.” 45 Benjamin’s work on the German translation of Charles Baudelaire must definitely have influenced his work on the destructive character of capitalism. The tropes of prostitution and destruction already appear in his note on the poem “Destruction” from Les fleurs du mal . “The bloody apparatus of destruction,” Benjamin asks himself, where is this phrase in Baudelaire? 46 In Baudelaire’s poem, the demon of destruction takes on the “most seductive form” of women, and seduces the visitor to the “planes of Boredom,” where he is introduced to the “filthy clothes' and “open wounds” and the “bloody apparatus of Destruction.” Is it from these “planes of Boredom, profound and barren” 47 that philosophy gleans its truths. 11. If philosophy thinks ontology as prostitutional, whom does it cite? Although to some authors, it would suffice to use the indicative quality of language as such to open such an ontology, 48 we should perhaps focus here on the atonic desert where the prostitutional machinery is blithely at work as captured in the work of Pierre Guyotat. He opens up to such an interpretation when he states that his novel Tomb for Fifty Thousand Soldiers is, “in spite of everything, metaphysical; a metaphysics of history, certainly not religious; it is also a somewhat ontological.” 49 Several philosophers that I have addressed above refer to his work; for example Badiou, who refers to the “neo-classicism” of Guyotat as a resurrection of the “cosmological aim” of grand literature hearkening back to Lucretius. 50 Guyotat’s “prostitutional universe,” 51 which reduces “all vital norms to the immediate commercial potentials of the body.” 52 On the other side of the philosophical spectrum, Lyotard digs deeper, describing the actual jouissance of the worker submitted to the capitalist machinery, “the machine of the machine, fucker fucked by it.” 53 And he continues: “And let’s finally acknowledge this jouissance , which is similar […] in every way to that of prostitution, the jouissance of anonimity, the jouissance of the repetition of the same in work, […]. Jouissance is unbearable .” 54 This is what Guyotat so “admirably” expresses in his work, and is also professed by himself. The same logic as Lyotard’s clearly appears upon reading a few sentences from his seminal essay Langage du corps (Language of the body). But on reflection, what spectacle is more brutally exciting than that of a child wanking with his left hand, in this system, and writing with his right. In the resultant disarray. There must be seen one of the terms of this contradictory pulsional will, being at the same time seen and voyeur (“seeing”), pimp and whore, buyer and bought, fucker and fucked. 55 Lyotard described this—within a philosophical discourse that is—as a “superbly capitalist dispositif ,” 56 a mode of writing-masturbating in which production and consumption coincide, truly a “bloody apparatus of destruction.” This logic equally distorts the clear distance that is regularly maintained by writers—and nearly always by philosophers—toward their own work. To me, the most concise formulation of this contracted distance can be located in the neologism that Guyotat coins in his novel Prostitution: “ nhommer ,” ringing with both homme (man) and nommer (to name). For example in the otherwise “untranslatable” sentence: ma e s’renâcl’ chuya se l’mâl’ le nhomme’, lui prend la fess’ o lui frott’ la mostach. 57 Nhommer is therefore an en-hommer , an insemination of a man, life-giving and naming, as well as a n’hommer , its own negation and undoing. This is echoed by Benjamin when he says that in the Bible, “the 'Let there be' and in the words 'He named' a beginning and end of the act, the deep and clear relation of the creative act to language appears each time.” 58 Nhommer is a creative act philosophy cannot accomplish but only approach. The writer always n/mam/nes , the philosopher may only cite, at the risk of introducing prostitutional logic, the shortcuts between naming and creating, creating and exploiting the fabric of philosophy. 12. Prostitutional ontology, materially captured by the bloody, short-circuiting apparatuses of capitalism, can only be cited by philosophy, acted out, at the risk of unbinding the whole of philosophical discourse itself. The events and miracles on the atonic planes of boredom may not affect philosophy itself. This could be one of the reasons that sex and sexual difference have largely remained outside of the realm philosophy. Derrida has already done a considerable amount of work on this curious lack, especially in two essays entitled “ Geschlecht ” on Heidegger’s work and Dasein’s sexuality. In “ Geschlecht 1: Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference,” Derrida investigates the role of sexuality in Heidegger’s definition of Dasein, and his general silence on the topics of sex and gender. “It is as if […] sexual difference did not rise to the height [ hauteur ] of ontological difference. […] But insofar as it is open to the question of Being, insofar as it has a relation to Being, in that very reference, Dasein would not be sexiferous [ sexifère ].” 59 The material that I adduced above might give us a frame in which to interpret this repression of Dasein’s sexuality in Heidegger. In philosophy, sexual difference is cited as ontological difference. Prostitution is cited as the unbinding of Being. However, the unbinding or separating force, hailed as the virtue of capitalism and eagerly imported into philosophical discourse, perhaps even brought to the “height of ontological difference,” is also always already at work in philosophy itself, be it as a separation between ontological and theological domains in Aristotle or the separation between a truth procedure and the citational dispositif of philosophy in Badiou. The truth, as Anne Dufourmentelle put it in her book on sex and philosophy, extracted from the “torture chamber” 60 of philosophy is that this separation is always already sexualized. If etymology is not the key to Bluebeard’s seventh door, it at least opens up a little skylight in the chamber of horrors. In Latin, sexus means separation. The Church Fathers to whom we owe the development of the Latin language thus anticipated by several centuries Lacan’s too famous remark: “There is no sexual relation.” 61 The truth of Lacan’s statement that “there is no sexual relation,” in the precise sense that the term “sex” derives from “separation” and vice versa is only etymologically validated within philosophy. The power of its truth only appears etymologically as philosophical truth. 13. Literature does not need to prove this point. It immediately participates in the circulatory logic of sexuation, without the need to distance itself from it through citational checkpoints and border patrols. It allows language to derange freely, as literature often reminds us of. Dufourmentelle clarifies to us once again, illustrating Guyotat’s point that I cited above. The act of writing is performative: writing and thinking are acts. What philosophy cannot tolerate is the nonresponse to which the enigma of sex refers it. No philosopher can bear up the boudoir. What philosophy does not succeed in conceptualizing is the traversal of a disaster. […] It may be that traversing the impossibility of the relation to sex is what founds philosophy. The black sun of thought about sex. Sex is what leads to traversal, to exile; it orients and disorients. From this exile, literature is born. Literature is the other, hidden guest at this blind date in the boudoir. 62 In her introduction to Dufourmentelle’s book, Ronell even goes as far as suggesting that certain regions of philosophy may be coinciding with the realm of “obliterature,” a space of thought’s disavowal of sex. 63 Indeed, sex induces in philosophy an anti-Platonic “black sun of thought,” that is, following Julia Kristeva, melancholy, when the words don’t come: “Recall the speech of the depressed: repetitive and monotonous. Within the impossibility to link up, the phrase interrupts itself, depletes, halts.” 64 To refer ourselves to Aristotle’s first thoughts on properly philosophical language with which we opened this text, for Aristotle the mind suddenly “halts” the moment it hears a noun or verb that is not well inflected, not properly disseminated into language. 65 Already the minimum of grammatical failure is enough for the philosopher to fall into a stupor. The unworking of grammar is the melancholic condition of philosophy. 14. We need to find the language in which philosophy writes, a writing that organises the “ elliptical displacement” of philosophy blindly circulating through its conditions, perhaps even a “language of decentering, or a dispositif of acephalic writing.” 66 But as Ronell has brilliantly argued in her reading of Freud’s case of the Rat Man, “The Sujet suppositaire ,” the circulation of philosophy should always be read through a lexicon of intervention and insemination which she calls an “Oedipedagogy,” 67 a mode of obsessional neurotic thinking, that is, a mode of cir- cul -ation: around the arse, around the riddles of the sphincter. 68 As a mode of what Ronell calls with Freud the “obsessional neurotic style,” a style of punning, the cir- cul -ation of philosophy rests on paronomasia, that is, the domain of paronomy and etymology. This is however not without scandal. In some circles of truth’s closure, pun has remained the name of an indictment, an accusatory identification of that which takes too much pleasure, disarranging academic languages, promoting a rhetoric of looseness within the parameters of a recreational linguistics, valuelessly succumbing to the most indefensible copulations of meaning, related […] to the temporal succession of shame over pleasure, incriminating the grammar of some strict order of things, and so forth. 69 That punning and its avatars of paronomasia and etymology are already present in one of the most philosophical grammars of a “strict order of things” provides us with a clue that in composition of philosophical language itself, something may be “indefensibly copulating.” 15. In the opening paragraph of Aristotle’s Categories , otherwise a work of remarkable philosophical rigour and properly purged language, we may track down the “elliptical displacement” or “acephalic writing” of philosophy. This is not to be found in the first two semantic relations described by Aristotle—homonymy and synonymy, or the grand metaphysical concepts equivocity and univocity—but in the third one, largely neglected in the corpus of occidental philosophical discourse, or so it seems. This relation, or perhaps more felicitous, movement in language, is called paronymy , and is defined as follows: “Paronymous are called those which, differing from something through case, have an appellation according to the name [of those], like 'grammarian' [ grammatikos ] from 'grammar' [ grammatik?s ] and 'courageous-man' [ andreios ] from 'courageous' [ andreias ].” 70 Paronymy, which is regulated through case ( pt?sis ), the way in which words fall into a sentence, is addressed to the form of the word, the manner of its signification, and not its meaning. 71 Case is also the driving force behind ontological differentiation, regulating the formal aspects of Being falling into beings. What is regulated by case in philosophy is regulated by the supposedly unrestrained punning and paronomasia in the process of sexual differentiation. Paronymy and case offer philosophy a window to peek into modes of discourse it does not like to associate itself with. But at the same time, philosophy is already contaminated by paronymy, which introduces the problematic of formalisation itself, the form of the name and of language at the heart of many metaphysical issues. The glorious theories of accident and substance, subject and object, Being and beings, and so on, cannot be inserted in the philosophical discourse without the lubricant of paronymy. 16. Paronymy, moving from form to form, is not without its methodology. Aristotle’s logic of the paradigm closely mimics the movement of case, neither from particular to universal, nor from universal to particular, but from particular to particular. 72 We are confronted here with what Agamben calls a “paradoxical type of movement,” 73 a movement that moves along itself and away from the doxa , the rule, and which should only be deployed when other means of deductive of syllogistic reasoning are no longer available. The paradigm signifies an insufficiency of properly philosophical thought. It should therefore not surprise us that the paradigm finds its modern inflection in what Lacan calls the “signifying chain,” where “no signification can be sustained except by reference to another signification.” 74 Metaphor is here the name for “the effect of the substitution of one signifier for another in the chain, nothing natural predestining the signifier for this function of phoros apart from the fact that two signifiers are involved, which can, as such, be reduced to a phonemic opposition,” 75 whereas at same time it is the “sole serious reality for man.” 76 It is here that Lacan explicitly chooses the reality of the etumos , the material cause of psychoanalysis, over the revelation al?theia . We might therefore interpret psychoanalysis as the only inflection of philosophy that insists on etumos as the sole source of truth. 17. If it the case, again according to our teacher Aristotle, that all meaningful philosophical discourse is essentially composed in an organised manner, we may insert in the composition of that word itself, in its philosophical circulation, a foreign element. Perhaps this also means that I insert myself in a lineage of paranoia and obsessional neurosis, but then again, as Guy Hocquenghem remarked, homosexuality itself is commonly associated with paranoid persecution mania, 77 “the apparition of the word curiously drives a cascade of lapses, or at least of the interpretation of common words as lapses. There is no innocent or objective position toward homosexuality, there are no situations of desire in which homosexuality doesn’t play a role.” 78 So why would I pretend otherwise? As Ronell adds, and I should have warned you before, “neologisms are much more common in persecution mania patients than in others.” 79 In recognition of what composes philosophy always remains in circulation, no matter whether approached from an “ontological” or “linguistic” perspective, no matter how “meta” the separation machinery drives us, it is circulation itself that justifies the term, if it is one, cumposition . In naming the decentering force of philosophical discourse thus, I not only intend to stress the “with” ( cum ) of the philosophical sum-plok? or com-positio , that is present in it already since Plato, 80 but also the position of philosophy itself, whenever it will have arrived or cum, shooting for the stars of wisdom on the metaphysical firmament. NOTES 1. A. Staley Groves, Poetry Vocare (The Hague/Tirana: Uitgeverij, 2011), 86. 2.Walter Benjamin, “On Language As Such and the Language of Man.” trans. Edmund Jephcott, in Select Writings. vol. 1, 1913-1926 , eds. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 73. 3.Arist. DI 16a1. 4.If only because already the translational issues with these two words are in themselves breaching the constraints of sound definition. 5.Giorgio Agamben’s work has focused extensively on this mode, see for example Potentialities , trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 234-5. 6.Walter Benjamin, ‘On Language As Such…,’ 73. 7.This is not to say that philosophy only resides in certain language games, as Wittgenstein would have it, but that negotiating the limits of those games—which, etymologically speaking, already carries in it the “com-” of philosophy’s “composition” as the morpheme “ga-,” cf. Gothic gaman , ‘participation’ or ‘communion’—determines to a large extent how much liberty philosophy is willing to grant itself in placing certain truths inside or outside its domains. 8.Avital Ronell, Fighting Theory , trans. Catherine Porter (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010), 1. 9.Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason , trans./eds Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 99 (Aviii). 10.Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics , trans./ed. Gary Hatfield (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 143 (Bxv). Cf. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 109 (Bxv). 11.Ronell, Fighting Theory , 2. 12.Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics , trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt (New Haven: Yale University Press), 65. 13.Giorgio Agamben, “The Passion of Facticity,”in Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy , trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen, 202. 14.Ibid. 196. 15.Ibid. 203-4. 16.Plat. Sym . 202e. 17.Plat. Sym . 203a. Philosophy as the love of wisdom is therefore recursively defined. Here we could perhaps trace one of the origins of philosophy’s auto-immunity that Ronell has commented upon on several occasions. She signals the so-called “end of philosophy” as one of the tropes characterizing the developing auto-immunity in the body of philosophy, and while at the same distancing herself from this trope she insists that we “continue to interrogate the figures used to designate the end, and to recognize the difference among such terms as closure, finality, terminus.” (Ronell, Fighting Theory , 3) 18.Plat. Sym . 201d. 19.Ibid. 206a. 20.Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Truth , trans. Ted Sader (New York: Continuum, 2002), 48. 21.Plat. Phaed . 244a. 22.Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure, The History of Sexuality, vol. 2 , trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 235. 23.Christopher Fynsk, The Claim of Language: A Case for the Humanities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), 65. 24.Jean-François Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , trans. Iain Hamilton Grant (New York: Continuum, 2004), 13. 25.Ibid. 13. 26.Alain Badiou, Being and Event , trans. Oliver Feltham (New York: Continuum, 2006), 3. 27.That is, the Zermelo-Fraenkel axiomatization, explicitly including the axiom of separation which does not allow for any inconsistent multiplicity, i.e. the appearance of the event. Nevertheless, ever since Richard Montague’s dissertation Contributions to the Axiomatic Foundations of Set Theory (Berkeley: University of California, 1957), we know that set theory can never be finitely axiomatized. 28.Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei and John Van Houdt, “Circulating Philosophy: A Note on Two Apparent Misquotations in Alain Badiou’s Logics of Worlds,” Theory and Event 14.2 (2011). 29.Alain Badiou, Conditions , trans. Steven Corcoran (New York: Continuum, 2008), 290, fn. 4. 30.Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Événement et répétition (Auch: Tristram, 2004), 208. 31.Ibid. 209. 32.Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, L’affect (Auch: Tristram, 2004), 93. 33.Jacques Derrida, Edmund Husserl’s ‘Origin of Symmetry’: An Introduction , trans. John P. Leavey, Jr. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 127. 34.Jacques Derrida, “Form and Meaning: A Note on the Phenomenology of Language,” Margins of Philosophy , trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 157. 35.Derrida, Ibid. 172-3. 36.Or, if you like, the “false truth.” See for an indictment of etymology along these lines Jean Paulhan, La preuve par l’étymologie (Paris: Minuit, 1953). 37.Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy , trans. Norman Madarasz (Albany: SUNY Press, 1999), 57. 38.Ibid. 57. 39.Walter Benjamin, “The Destructive Character,” Selected Writings, Vol. II.2, 1931-1934 , trans. Edmund Jephcott (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 541-2. 40.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 135. 41.“In signifying the metaphorical process, the paradigms of coin, of metal, silver and gold, have imposed themselves with remarkable insistence. Before metaphor—and effect of language—could find its metaphor in an economic effect, a more general analogy had to organize the exchanges between the two 'regions.'’ Jacques Derrida, “White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy,” Margins of Philosophy , trans. Alan Bass, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1982, 216. 42.Ibid. 257. 43.“The exchangeability of all products, activities and relations with a third, objective entity which can be re-exchanged for everything without distinction—that is, the development of exchange values (and of money relations) is identical with universal venality, corruption. Universal prostitution appears as a necessary phase in the development of the social character of personal talents, capacities, abilities, activities. More politely expressed: the universal relation of utility and use.” Karl Marx, Grundrisse: Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy , trans. Martin Nicolaus, New York: Random House, 1973, 163. 44.Karl Marx, “Private Property and Communism,” Karl Marx Selected Writings , ed. David McLellan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 90. 45.Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project , trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 347. 46.Ibid. 256. 47.Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal , (Paris: Le Livre de Poche, 1999), 161. 48.For example, Jean Pierre Brisset, Le grammaire logique, suivi de La science de Dieu . Paris: Tchou, 1970, pp. 155ff. But we could equally point to the work of Jacques Lacan or refer to the intimacies between sexual and ontological differentiation as investigated by Jacques Derrida. 49.Pierre Guyotat, “L’autre scène,” Vivre (Paris: Denoël, 2003), 45. 50.Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event 2 , trans. Alberto Toscano (New York: Continuum), 76. 51.Alain Badiou “Guyotat, prince de la prose,” unpublished lecture (Paris: 21 October, 2005), n.p. 52.Ibid. 53.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 109. 54.Ibid. 110-1. Lyotard formulates a position here parallel to Lacan’s analysis, which argues that the slave “can accept to work for the master and give up jouissance in the meantime.” (Jacques Lacan, Écrits , trans. Bruce Fink, New York: W.W. Norton, 2006, 259) This renunciation of jouissance founds the obsessive subject that I will discuss below, in an extension of the prostitutional logic developed by Lyotard. 55.Pierre Guyotat, “Langage du corps,” Vivre (Paris: Denoël, 2003), 24. Translation quoted from Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 139. 56.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 139. 57.Pierre Guyotat, Prostitution (Paris: Gallimard, 1975), 90-1. In relation to his work we would also do well to recall the Lacanian dictum that “Punctuation, once inserted, establishes the meaning.” (Lacan, Écrits , 258) 58.Benjamin, “On Language As Such…,” 68. 59.Jacques Derrida, “ Geschlecht 1: Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference,” trans. Ruben Bevezdivin and Elizabeth Rottenberg, in Psyche, vol. 2 , eds Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), 8. 60.Anne Dufourmentelle, Blind Date: Sex and Philosophy , trans. Catherine Porter (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), 56. 61.Ibid. 57. 62.Ibid., 101. 63.Avital Ronell, “The Stealth Pulse of Philosophy,” introduction to Anne Dufourmentelle, Blind Date: sex and philosophy , trans. Catherine Porter (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), xv. 64.Julia Kristeva, Le soleil noir: Dépression et mé?ancholie (Paris, Gallimard, 1987), 45. 65.Arist. DI 16b20. 66.Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event 2 , trans. Alberto Toscano (New York: Continuum), 545. 67.Avital Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire: Freud, And/Or, the Obsessional Neurotic Style (Maybe),” Finitude’s Score: Essays for the End of the Millennium (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 108. Cf. also: “As mere reversal, this maintains the 'intervention' of which Lacan speaks in its classic column, still following the marching orders and route traced out by the commanding symbolicity of male homosexuality whose structures, in place since the time of Plato, continue to assure the paradigm of the transmission of knowledge.” (Ibid., p. 106) 68.“The anus can be said to mark a locus of privileged transaction between at least two gendered entities. It organizes a space from which rental agreements are negotiated, leases are taken out by one gender to permit the other gender provisionally—depending on the terms of the agreement—to occupy its space. The other of genital sexuality, determinable neither as masculine nor strictly speaking as feminine, anality nonetheless constitutes a sexuality, a shared space that is often vaginized.” (Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 108) One could, and perhaps ought, to read Guyotat’s Prostitution , as exactly a constant negotiation of this sort, where language itself succumbs to this logic of “indefensible copulations.” (Ibid., 110) 69.Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 110. 70.Arist. Cat . 1a12-15. 71.Cf. Pierre Aubenque, Le problème de l’être chez Aristote (Paris: PUF, 1962), 184, fn. 3. 72.See Rhet . 1357b26-30 and APr 69a13-16. 73.Giorgio Agamben, The Signature of All Things: On Method , trans. Luca D’Isanto with Kevin Attell (New York: Zone Books, 2009), 19. 74.Lacan, Écrits , 415. A similar idea, originating from a different perspective, but with a similar foundation in Aristotle, can be found in the work of Paul de Man: “The convergence of sound and meaning […] is a rhetorical rather than aesthetic function of language, an identifiable trope (paronomasis) that operates on the level of the signifier.” (Paul de Man, Resistance to Theory , Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1986, 10) 75.Lacan, Écrits , 756. 76.Ibid., 758. 77.“Psychiatry supposes in general an intimate relation between homosexuality and paranoia, but gives it often the following form: the homosexual frequently suffers from persecution paranoia.” (Guy Hocquenghem, Le désir homosexuel , Paris: Fayard, 2000, 32) 78.Ibid., 59. 79.Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 117. 80.See Plat. Soph . 262c. (shrink)
The microstructure and electrical resistivity of inkjet-printed silver (Ag) films annealed under ambient air were characterized. Analyses of the impurity amounts in the films using secondary-ion mass spectrometry showed that the decomposition temperature of the capping molecules was just below 170°C. Both the characteristics of the microstructure and electrical resistivity when annealed at low temperatures (lower than the decomposition temperature) were significantly different from those when annealed at high temperatures. The results show that neither microstructural features, such as grain (...) size, nor the amounts of impurities can explain both the magnitude and characteristic decrease in electrical resistivity. The changes in electrical resistivity can be described using exponential decay kinetics. The corresponding activation energy of 0.44 eV when annealed at the high temperatures is explained by the migration of point defects such as vacancy?oxygen pairs. On the other hand, negligible dependence on temperature was identified when annealed at low temperatures, which was attributed to decomposition of the capping molecules. The results indicate the importance of controlling the defects of nanoparticles and the properties of capping molecules from the viewpoint of electrical optimization of metallization fabricated using inkjet printing. (shrink)
In this splendid section from his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding , Hume's first concern is our ordinary belief that the natural world -- the world leaving our own conscious existence aside -- is a world of determinism, all cause and effect. He gives his account of what this ordinary belief can come to, the fact of the matter. Turning to our own conscious existence, he finds the same fact of the matter. Hence our world too is a world of determinism, (...) all cause and effect. That is the story with the man who comes to dinner and does not rob Hume of his silver standish. The story of Indeterminism, and in particular of the kind of freedom that is origination, must be a mistake. (shrink)
Like David Silver before them, Erik Baldwin and Michael Thune argue that the facts of religious pluralism present an insurmountable challenge to the rationality of basic exclusive religious belief as construed by Reformed Epistemology. I will show that their argument is unsuccessful. First, their claim that the facts of religious pluralism make it necessary for the religious exclusivist to support his exclusive beliefs with significant reasons is one that the reformed epistemologist has the resources to reject. Secondly, they fail (...) to demonstrate that it is impossible for basic exclusive religious beliefs to return to their properly basic state after defeaters against them have been defeated. Finally, I consider whether there is perhaps a similar but better argument in the neighbourhood and conclude in the negative. Reformed Epistemology’s defence of exclusivism thus remains undefeated. (shrink)
This Article considers the moral and legal status of practices that aim to modify traits in human offspring. As advancements in reproductive biotechnology give parents greater power to shape the genetic constitution of their children, an emerging school of legal scholars has ushered in a privatized paradigm of genetic control. Commentators defend a constitutionally protected right to prenatal engineering by appeal to the significance of procreative liberty and the promise of producing future generations who are more likely to have their (...) lives go well. This 'new eugenics,' however, confronts us with ethical challenges that neither liberal arguments about autonomy, fairness, and consent, nor utilitarian arguments about preferences, happiness, and equality, are able to capture. I begin by analyzing the Supreme Court's modern substantive due process jurisprudence, as it bears on recent advancements and controversies in genetic science. After developing a doctrinal framework that could support an asserted right to genetic engineering, I draw on empirical research in behavioral psychology to examine the influence of eugenic norms on egalitarian attitudes and institutions. I predict that if parents become accustomed to choosing the genes of their children, it would be radically more difficult to give an influential account for why the successful should adopt a charitable posture toward those who are less fortunate. I argue that by shifting control over offspring DNA from chance to choice, enhancement will inflate a sense of individual entitlement for social and economic outcomes. I conclude that increasing willingness to prevent the birth of abnormal children distracts attention from institutions that fail to accommodate the limitations of imperfect people. Some may reply that producing people who better fit the roles society chooses to reward need not deter us from providing for people whose abilities fail to meet the demands of modern society. However, this reply misses the way that changes in reproductive practices can bring about changes in the way that we understand our identities and relationships. Eugenic solutions to social problems such as poverty, crime, and unemployment reshape the challenge of genetic disadvantage so that it is no longer one we address through collective measures such as public education, social services, and income redistribution, and instead becomes one for individual parents to prevent through donor screening, embryo discard, or selective abortion. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: List of contributors; Acknowledgments; Introduction: the humanist tradition in Russian philosophy G. M. Hamburg and Randall A. Poole; Part I. The Nineteenth Century: 1. Slavophiles, Westernizers, and the birth of Russian philosophical humanism Sergey Horujy; 2. Alexander Herzen Derek Offord; 3. Materialism and the radical intelligentsia: the 1860s Victoria S. Frede; 4. Russian ethical humanism: from populism to neo-idealism Thomas Nemeth; Part II. Russian Metaphysical Idealism in Defense of Human Dignity: 5. Boris Chicherin and human dignity (...) in history G. M. Hamburg; 6. Vladimir Solov'iev's philosophical anthropology: autonomy, dignity, perfectibility Randall A. Poole; 7. Russian panpsychism: Kozlov, Lopatin, Losskii James P. Scanlan; Part III. Humanity and Divinity in Russian Religious Philosophy after Solov'iev: 8. A Russian cosmodicy: Sergei Bulgakov's religious philosophy Paul Valliere; 9. Pavel Florenskii's trinitarian humanism Steven Cassedy; 10. Semën Frank's expressivist humanism Philip J. Swoboda; Part IV. Freedom and Human Perfectibility in the Silver Age: 11. Religious humanism in the Russian silver age Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal; 12. Russian liberalism and the philosophy of law Frances Nethercott; 13. Imagination and ideology in the new religious consciousness Robert Bird; 14. Eschatology and hope in silver age thought Judith Deutsch Kornblatt; Part V. Russian Philosophy in Revolution and Exile: 15. Russian Marxism Andrzej Walicki; 16. Adventures in dialectic and intuition: Shpet, Il'in, Losev Philip T. Grier; 17. Nikolai Berdiaev and the philosophical tasks of the emigration Stuart Finkel; 18. Eurasianism: affirming the person in an 'Era of Faith' Martin Beisswenger; Afterword: on persons as open-ended ends-in-themselves (the view from two novelists and two critics) Caryl Emerson; Bibliography. (shrink)
Detectives and scientists are in the business of reasoning from observations to explanations. This they often do by raising cunning questionsduring their inquiries. But to substantiate this claim we need to know how questions arise and how they are nurtured into more specific hypotheses. I shall discuss what the problem is, and then introduce the so-called interrogative model of inquiry which makes use of an explicit logic of questions. On this view, a discovery processes can be represented as a model-based (...) game in which an inquirer subjects a source of information to a series of strategically organized questions. Strategic principles and why-questions are especially important in heuristical reasoning. Why-questions have their own peculiar nature among questions. They indicate that the inquirer's expectations are somehow disappointed, and that is cognitively challenging. In a finished argument why-questions can be omitted, but in the search for more specific questions they are highly important. As a detetective example I shall analyze Sherlock Holmes reasoning in Silver Blace, the scientific one is A.R. Wallace's discovery of the principle of natural selection. In both of these examples the meaning of questions, especially of well-chosen why-questions, of strategic principles, and of highly structured background knowledge come to the fore. Good questions frequent those who have orderly expectations, based on experience and expertise (detectives!) or highly structured background theories (scientists!). (shrink)
In “Reliabilism Leveled” Jonathan Vogel (2000) provides a strong case against epistemic theories that stress the importance of tracking/sensitivity conditions. A tracking/sensitivity condition is to be understood as some version of the following counterfactual: (T) ~p oÆ ~Bp (T) says that s would not believe p, if p were false. Among other things, tracking is supposed to express the external relation that explains why some justified true beliefs are not knowledge. Champions of the condition include Robert Nozick (1981) and, more (...) recently, Keith DeRose (1995). To my knowledge, the earliest formulation of the counterfactual condition is found in Fred Dretske’s conclusive reasons condition (1971), which says, s would not have had the reason that she does for believing p, if p were false. Vogel contends that any such counterfactual condition on knowledge will render the theory of knowledge too strong. He believes that there is at least some possible reflective knowledge that cannot satisfy the counterfactual--viz., the possible knowledge that one does not believe falsely that p. The alleged impossibility of such reflective knowledge is taken by Vogel to be a decisive objection to the tracking theories advocated by Dretske, Nozick, DeRose1 and others. The criticism finds its roots in Vogel’s earlier work (1987), and recurs in papers by Ernest Sosa (2002, 1996). Sosa suggests that the externalist idea behind tracking is on target, but that Nozick’s counterfactual is a misbegotten regimentation of the idea. In its place Sosa offers his own counterfactual “safety” condition, which he feels properly captures the externalist idea. Sosa’s counterfactual is not the topic of this paper. I mention it only to point out that the criticism that constitutes the subject of my investigation is meant to do a lot of work. In Sosa’s 1 case the criticism is meant to motivate his own counterfactual analysis, and in Vogel’s case the criticism promises to be a silver bullet against a theory that has recently found renewed life in the work of Keith DeRose.. (shrink)