The interview with one of the founders of the Tartu–Moscow school, semiotician Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov (b. 1929) from August 2010, describes V. V. Ivanov’s opinions of several scholars and their work (including Evgenij Polivanov, Mikhail Bakhtin, Andrej Kolmogorov, Nikolaj Marr etc.), his relationships with his father Vsevolod Ivanov, as well as V. V. Ivanov’s views on the past and future of semiotics, with some emphasis on neurosemiotics, zoosemiotics, semiotics of culture, cybernetics, history of linguistics, study and protection (...) of small languages. The interview also deals with V. V. Ivanov’s book Even and Odd. (shrink)
Cenoscopy and ideoscopy -- The turn to ideoscopy -- Nothing is certain -- The way of ideas -- Nominalism versus realism -- The interplay of objects in thought and things in the world -- Sensation cenoscopically considered -- The semiotics of sensation -- The semiosic structure of the sensory manifold -- Semiopsis beyond perception -- Descartes and Poinsot : retrospect and prospect.
The history and effects of British imperialism in Fiji created a model for analyzing the semiotics of cultural identity. Following the acquisition of land in Fiji, the British recruited impoverished people from India and relocated them as indentured servants to do work on sugar cane plantations that natives refused to do. When Fiji became independent nearly 100 years later, the island nation had nearly equal populations of native Fijians and people of Indian decent. Fiji experienced three military coupes (...) between 1987 and 2000 while the two ethnic and culturally distinct groups competed for jobs and political power. As a small, island nation, identity-based communication in Fiji represents a microcosm of other more complex multicultural societies. This study examines the semiotics of cultural identity among the people of Fiji. (shrink)
Sky Marsen proposes a new way of reading philosophy, through the lens of narrative semiotics she highlights the similarities between creative and philosophical writing and shows how theoretical texts, such as philosophy, rely to a large extent on strategies of communication present also in fictional narratives.
In this collection of previously unpublished essays Jean-Jacques Nattiez applies his theoretical foundations of musical semiotics to theorists such as Levi-Strauss, Hanslick, and Brailoiu; novelists such as Proust; and poets such as Baudelaire. The author treats problems which musicologists and music lovers alike need to address: the artistic product in music of oral tradition, the nature of musical facts, and questions of fidelity and authenticity in performance practice. Nattiez tackles these perennial issues with an originality born out of his (...) focus on the status of time in the works considered. This approach allows him to take sides, sometimes in a provocative manner, in the ongoing debates which pit adherents of modernity against apologists of postmodernism. (shrink)
In the current debates about zoosemiotics its relations with the neighbouring disciplines are a relevant topic. The present article aims to analyse the complex relations between zoosemiotics and cognitive ethology with special attention to their establishers: Thomas A. Sebeok and Donald R. Griffin. It is argued that zoosemiotics and cognitive ethology have common roots in comparative studies of animal communication in the early 1960s. For supporting this claim Sebeok’s works are analysed, the classical and philosophical periods of his zoosemiotic views (...) are distinguished and the changing relations between zoosemiotics and cognitive ethology are described. The animal language controversy can be interpreted as the explicit point of divergence of the two paradigms, which, however, is a mere symptom of a deeper cleavage. The analysis brings out later critical differences between Sebeok’s and Griffin’s views on animal cognition and language. This disagreement has been the main reason for the critical reception and later neglect of Sebeok’s works in cognitive ethology. Sebeok’s position in this debate remains, however, paradigmatic, i.e. it proceeds from understanding of the contextualisation of semiotic processes that do not allow treating the animal mind as a distinct entity. As a peculiar parallel to Griffin’s metaphor of “animal mind”, Sebeok develops his understanding of “semiotic self” as a layered structure, characterised by an ability to make distinctions, foremost between itself and the surrounding environment. It appears that the history of zoosemiotics has two layers: in addition to the chronological history starting in 1963, when Sebeok proposed a name for the field, zoosemiotics is also philosophically rooted in Peircean semiotics and German biological philosophy. It is argued that the confrontation between zoosemiotics and cognitive ethology is related to different epistemological approaches and at least partly induced by underlying philosophical traditions. (shrink)
Roger North's The Musicall Grammarian 1728 is a treatise on musical eloquence in all its branches. Of its five parts, I and II, on the orthoepy, orthography and syntax of music, constitute a grammar; III and IV, on the arts of invention and communication, form a rhetoric; and V, on etymology, consists of a history. Two substantial chapters of commentary introduce the text, which is edited here for the first time in its entirety: Jamie Kassler places his treatise within (...) the broader context not only of North's musical and non-musical writings but also their relation to the intellectual ferment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and Mary Chan describes physical and textual aspects of the treatise as evidence for North's processes of thinking about musical thinking. (shrink)
Kevelson remains an important figure in legal semiotics, a co-founder, along with Bernard Jackson, of the International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law, and of course a valuable and seminal commentator on Peirce in the legal domain. This paper will examine her claim, that through his collaboration with and influence on Oliver Holmes, Peirce should be regarded as a foundational figure in a history of legal realism and modern jurisprudence, and that a legal semiotic can be identified (...) in and not only extrapolated from his seminal writings. This paper will contend that the relationship between Peirce and Holmes should be seen as perplexed and disputatious, rather than close and directly influential, as Kevelson argues. However, regardless of its limitations, Kevelson’s historical inquiry helps provide the ground for a contemporary and historical account of the full picture of a Peircean based legal semiotic and jurisprudence. (shrink)
Through discussions of Locke, Behn, Shaftesbury, Hume, and Richardson, this book traces the idea of romance as, in the process of engendering resistance, it comes nonetheless to define the empiricist mind as the reading mind.
Machine generated contents note: -- Acknowledgements Introduction: From Passions to Language: The Transformation of the ImaginationLocke: Metaphorical Romances Behn: Romance from the Stage to the Letter Shaftesbury: Conversation and the Psychology of Romance Hume: Reading Romances, Writing the Self Richardson: How to Read Romance NotesBibliographyIndex.
The following points, which represent a path to a semiotics of being, are pertinent to various sub-fields at the conjunction of semiotics of nature (biosemiotics, ecosemiotics, zoosemiotics) and semiotics of culture—semioethics and existential semiotics included. 1) Semiotics of being entails inquiry at all levels of biological organization, albeit, wherever there are individuals, with emphasis on the living qua individuals (integrated biological individualism). 2) An Umwelt is the public aspect (cf. the Innenwelt, the private aspect) of (...) a phenomenal/experienced world that is organism-specific (rather than species-specific) and ultimately refers to an existential realm. 3) Existential universals at work on Earth include seeking out the edible, dwelling in a medium, holding a phenomenal world (possibly an Umwelt) and being endowed with life, and consequently being mortal. 4) Human Umwelten include speechless Umwelten, spoken Umwelten and alphabetic Umwelten. 5) An Uexküllian phenomenology—stating that semiotic states represent the general class to which all mental/cognitive states belong—can draw on the works of the phenomenologists David Abram and Ted Toadvine (The notion of semiotic states is treated in Tønnessen 2009a: 62–63. For an introduction to eco-phenomenology, see Brown and Toadvine (eds.) 2003). 6) A task for such a phenomenology is to portray the natural history of the phenomenal world. 7) An imperative task in our contemporary world of faltering biological diversity is that of Umwelt mapping, i.e. a mapping of ontological niches. 8) The ecological crisis is an ontological crisis with historical roots in humankind’s domestication of animals and plants, which can be taken as archetypical for our attempted planet-scale taming of the wild. 9) The process of globalization is expressed by correlated trends of depletion of semiotic diversity and semiotic diversification. 10) Semiotic economy is a field which task it is to map the human ontological niche insofar as its semiotic relations are of an economic nature. All ten points will be commented (explicitly or implicitly) in due time. (shrink)
I examine the consistency of Kant's notion of moral progress as found in his philosophy of history. To many commentators, Kant's very idea of moral development has seemed inconsistent with basic tenets of his critical philosophy. This idea has seemed incompatible with his claims that the moral law is unconditionally and universally valid, that moral agency is noumenal and atemporal, and that all humans are equally free. Against these charges, I argue not only that Kant's notion of moral development (...) is consistent, but also that the assumption of the possibility of moral progress is indispensible for Kant's moral theory. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that Kant's philosophy of biology has crucial implications for our understanding of his philosophy of history, and that overlooking these implications leads to a fundamental misconstruction of his views. More precisely, I will show that Kant's philosophy of history is modelled on his philosophy of biology due to the fact that the development of the human species shares a number of peculiar features with the functioning of organisms, these features entailing (...) important methodological characteristics. From this main claim will follow three further claims: (1) Kant's teleological view of history is not simply based on ethical considerations that have to do with the moral progress of the human species; rather, it stems from his conception of teleology as developed in his philosophy of biology. (2) Kant's philosophy of history allows for the practice of scientific history. In this sense, Kant's view of history is not merely teleological but involves a mechanical (and thus empirical) element. (3) Just as teleology is useful for furthering mechanical accounts of biological phenomena, teleological history is useful for scientific history. (shrink)
What are the relationships between philosophy and the history of philosophy, the history of science and the philosophy of science? This selection of essays by Lorenz Krüger (1932-1994) presents exemplary studies on the philosophy of John Locke and Immanuel Kant, on the history of physics and on the scope and limitations of scientific explanation, and a realistic understanding of science and truth. In his treatment of leading currents in 20th century philosophy, Krüger presents new and original arguments (...) for a deeper understanding of the continuity and dynamics of the development of scientific theory. These result in significant consequences for the claim of the sciences that they understand reality in a rational manner. The case studies are complemented by fundamental thoughts on the relationship between philosophy, science, and their common history. (shrink)
I show the sense in which the concept of history as a human science affects our theory of the natural sciences and, therefore, our theory of the unity of the physical and human sciences. The argument proceeds by way of reviewing the effect of the Darwinian contribution regarding teleologism and of post-Darwinian paleonanthropology on the transformation of the primate members of Homo sapiens into societies of historied selves. The strategy provides a novel way of recovering the unity of the (...) sciences: by construing the physical sciences themselves as human sciences - and, therefore, as themselves historied. (shrink)
Abstract In this essay I trace the role of history in the philosophy of art from the early twentieth century to the present, beginning with the rejection of history by formalists like Clive Bell. I then attempt to show how the arguments of people like Morris Weitz and Arthur Danto led to a re-appreciation of history by philosophers of art such as Richard Wollheim, Jerrold Levinson, Robert Stecker and others.
To date, no satisfactory account of the connection between natural-scientific and historical explanation has been given, and philosophers seem to have largely given up on the problem. This paper is an attempt to resolve this old issue and to sort out and clarify some areas of historical explanation by developing and applying a method that will be called “pragmatic explication” involving the construction of definitions that are justified on pragmatic grounds. Explanations in general can be divided into “dynamic” and “static” (...) explanations, which are those that essentially require relations across time and those that do not, respectively. The problem of assimilating historical explanations concerns dynamic explanation, so a general analysis of dynamic explanation that captures both the structure of natural-scientific and historical explanation is offered. This is done in three stages: In the first stage, pragmatic explication is introduced and compared to other philosophical methods of explication. In the second stage pragmatic explication is used to tie together a series of definitions that are introduced in order to establish an account of explanation. This involves an investigation of the conditions that play the role in historiography that laws and statistical regularities play in the natural sciences. The essay argues that in the natural sciences, as well as in history, the model of explanation presented represents the aims and overarching structure of actual causal explanations offered in those disciplines. In the third stage the system arrived at in the preceding stage is filled in with conditions available to and relevant for historical inquiry. Further, the nature and treatment of causes in history and everyday life are explored and related to the system being proposed. This in turn makes room for a view connecting aspects of historical explanation and what we generally take to be causal relations. (shrink)
Although first published in 1969, the methodological views advanced in Quentin Skinner's “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas” remain relevant today. In his article Skinner suggests that it would be inappropriate to even attempt to write the history of any idea or concept. In support of this view, Skinner advances two arguments, one derived from the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein and the other from that of J. L. Austin. In this paper I focus on the (...) first of these arguments. I claim that the conclusion which Skinner draws from this particular argument does not necessarily follow and that an alternative assessment of the methodological significance of Wittgenstein's philosophy for historians of ideas is possible. On this alternative view, far from ruling out conceptual history, an appeal to the view of meaning set out in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations leads to a quite different conclusion, namely that the writing of such a history is arguably a necessary precondition for the elucidation of the meaning of a number of the core concepts in the canon of the history of political thought. Skinner's views have changed somewhat since 1969. Indeed, from the mid 1970s onwards he came to relax the strict opposition to the idea of conceptual history to which he was then committed. The paper concludes by noting that this evolution in Skinner's thinking has made him much more sympathetic than anybody reading “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas” would have imagined to the research project of the Begriffgeschichte School of conceptual history. (shrink)
One of the most influential and significant developments in the philosophy of language over the last thirty years has been the rise of externalist conceptions of content. This essay aims to explore the implications of a form of externalism, largely derived from the work of Donald Davidson, for thinking about history, and in so doing to suggest one way in which contemporary philosophy of language may engage with contemporary philosophy of history. Much of the discussion focuses on the (...) elaboration of the externalism that is at issue, along with the holistic approach to content with which it is connected. It will be argued that such holistic externalism is itself thoroughly in keeping with the very character of historical inquiry itself, and can be seen to provide an underpinning to certain contemporary developments in historical thinking. (shrink)
This article explores the usefulness of interdisciplinarity as method of enquiry by proposing an investigation of the concept of information in the light of semiotics. This is because, as Kull, Deacon, Emmeche, Hoffmeyer and Stjernfelt state, information is an implicitly semiotic term (Biological Theory 4(2):167–173, 2009: 169), but the logical relation between semiosis and information has not been sufficiently clarified yet. Across the history of cybernetics, the concept of information undergoes an uneven development; that is, information is an (...) ‘objective’ entity in first order cybernetics, and becomes a ‘subjective’ entity in second order cybernetics. This contradiction relegates the status of information to that of a ‘true’ or ‘false’ formal logic problem. The present study proposes that a solution to this contradiction can be found in Deely’s reconfiguration of Peirce’s ‘object’ (as found in his triadic model of semiosis) into ‘thing’ and ‘object’ (Deely 1981). This ontology allows one to argue that information is neither ‘true’ nor ‘false’, and to suggest that, when considered in light of its workability, information can be both true and false, and as such it constitutes an organism’s purely objective reality (Deely 2009b). It is stated that in the process of building such a reality, information is ‘motivated’ by environmental, physiological, emotional (including past feelings and expectations) constraints which are, in turn, framed by observership. Information is therefore found in the irreducible cybersemiotic process that links at once all these conditions and that is simultaneously constrained by them. The integration of cybernetics’ and semiotics’ understanding of information shows that history is the analytical principle that grants scientific rigour to interdisciplinary investigations. As such, in any attempt to clarify its epistemological stance (e.g. the semiotic aspect of information), it is argued that biosemiotics does not need only to acknowledge semiotics (as it does), but also cybernetics in its interdisciplinary heritage. (shrink)
Philosophers' reflections on history have been dominated for decades by two themes: representation and memory. On both of these accounts, historical inquiry is divided by a certain gap from what it seeks to find or wants to know, and its activity is seen by philosophers as that of bridging this gap. Against this background, the concept of experience, in spite of its apparent rootedness in the present, can be revived as a means of thinking about our connection to the (...) past. After examining variants on the concept of experience, with special attention to its temporality, I argue in this essay that experience can be said to furnish a connection to the past that underlies both memory and representation. (shrink)
Contemporary caution against anachronism in intellectual history, and the currently momentous theoretical emphasis on subjectivity in the philosophy of mind, are two prevailing conditions that set puzzling constraints for studies in the history of philosophical psychology. The former urges against assuming ideas, motives, and concepts that are alien to the historical intellectual setting under study, and combined with the latter suggests caution in relying on our intuitions regarding subjectivity due to the historically contingent characterizations it has attained in (...) contemporary philosophy of mind. In the face of these conditions, our paper raises a question of what we call non-textual (as opposed to contextual) standards of interpretation of historical texts, and proceeds to explore subjectivity as such a standard. Non-textual standards are defined as (heuristic) postulations of features of the world or our experience of it that we must suppose to be immune to historical variation in order to understand a historical text. Although the postulation of such standards is often so obvious that the fact of our doing so is not noticed at all, we argue that the problems in certain special cases, such as that of subjectivity, force us to pay attention to the methodological questions involved. Taking into account both recent methodological discussion and the problems inherent in two de facto denials of the relevance of subjectivity for historical theories, we argue that there are good grounds for the adoption of subjectivity as a non-textual standard for historical work in philosophical psychology. (shrink)
Abstract Contrary to most modern interpretations, in the early modern period, history was an indispensable resource for many philosophers. The different uses of history by Bacon, Gassendi, Locke, and Hume are explored to establish the role of history as a resource in early-modern philosophy.
In this paper I argue that, in at least two cases - his discussions of the temporal precedence o f polytheism over monotheism and of the origins of civil society - we see Hume consigning to historical development certain aspects of reason which, as a comparison with Locke will show, have sometimes been held to be uniform. In the first of these cases Hume has recourse to claims about the general historical development of human thought. In the second case, the (...) origin of the civil institution of justice and government is not linked directly to external circumstances and the principles of human nature, as it is in contractarian theories, but makes a detour through the historical acquisition of certain concepts. Because Hume's position does not conform in any simple sense to Dugald Stewart's 'incontrovertible logical maxim' that the capacities of the human mind have been the same in all ages, Stewart's account of the method of conjectural history is, in any simple sense, inadequate as a description of Hume's practice. (shrink)
Among many important claims, Allen Wood in Kant's Ethical ought proposes that Kant's philosophy of history can be grasped as a "naturalist" approach, grounding human nature in biology. I suggest some reservations. First, I question Kant's conception of biology as (a still emergent) science. Second, I question Kant's extension of his notion of "natural predisposition" to reason and freedom. Third, I question the naturalism of Kant's philosophy of history by suggesting the excessive role providence must play in Kant's (...) account. The upshot is to find Kant's philosophy of history one of the less persuasive elements in his system of thought, despite Wood's energetic effort at a contemporary reconstruction. (shrink)
This article analyzes how the relationship between philosophy and history has been conceived within the study of political thought, and how different ways of conceiving this relationship in turn have affected the definition of the subject matter as well as the choice of methods within this field. My main argument is that the ways in which we conceive this relationship is dependent on the assumptions we make about the ontological status of concepts and their meaning. I start by discussing (...) the widespread view that philosophy and history ought to be viewed as distinct if not incompatible ways of studying political thought, and then go on to describe the view that philosophical and historical approaches should be conceived of as identical or inseparable. I end this article by suggesting that these approaches rather should be viewed as mutually constitutive for the benefit of a more coherent study of political thought. (shrink)
Abstract This paper argues that history of economics has a fruitful, underappreciated role to play in the development of economics, especially when understood as a policy science. This goes against the grain of the last half century during which economics, which has undergone a formal revolution, has distanced itself from its `literary' past and practices precisely with the aim to be a more successful policy science. The paper motivates the thesis by identifying and distinguishing four kinds of reflexivity in (...) economics. The main thesis of this paper is that because these forms of reflexivity are not eliminable, the history of economics must play a constitutive role in economics (and graduate education within economics). An assumption that I clarify in this paper is that the history of economics ought to be part of the subject matter studied by economics when they are interested in policy science. Even if one does not accept the conclusion, the fourfold classification of reflexivity might hold independent interest. The paper is divided in two parts. First, by reflecting on the writings of George Stigler, Paul Samuelson, George and Milton Friedman, I offer a stylized historical introduction to and conceptualization of the themes of this paper. In particular, I identify various historically influential arguments and strategies that reduced the role of history of economics within the economics discipline. In it I also canvass six arguments that try to capture the cost to economics (understood as a science) for sidelining the history of economics from within the discipline. A sub-text of the introduction is that for contingent reasons, post World War II economics evolved into a policy science. Second, by drawing on the work of Kenneth Boulding, in particular, George Soros, Thomas Merton, Gordon Tullock, I distinguish between four species of reflexivity. These are used to then strengthen the argument for the constitutive role of the history of economics within the economics profession. In particular, I argue that so-called Kuhn-losses are especially pernicious when faced with policy choices under so-called Knightian uncertainty. (shrink)
This paper tries to show how the Fregean semantic framework, especially the notions of sense and tone, can be used to explain certain features of history. Following Michael Dummett's interpretation of Gottlob Frege's notion of meaning, it is possible to conceive of historical works as proposing particular modes of presentation of past events. In fact, alternative historical works about the same past events could be viewed as differing in what sense and tone they express. In this paper, I first (...) outline some of the points and distinctions made by Frege. Second, I examine how the notions of sense, reference, and tone can be applied in semantic analysis of historical work. Finally, I point to a certain similarity between the Fregean framework and some of the views presented in the recent philosophy of history. My account suggests how to make use of some of the classical insights of Frege when dealing with the semantic issues of historical work. (shrink)
"This collection of classic essays in the study of visual culture fills a major gap in this new and expanding intellectual field. Its major strength is its insistence on the importance of three central aspects of the study of visual culture: the sign, the institution and the viewing subject. It will provide readers, teachers and students with an essential text in visual and cultural studies." - Janet Wolff, University of Rochester Visual Culture: The Reader provides an invaluable resource of over (...) 30 key statements from a wide range of disciplines. Although underpinned by a focus on contemporary cultural theory, this reader puts issues of visual culture and the rhetoric of the image at centre stage. Divided into three parts, The Culture of the Visual, Regulating Photographic Meaning, Looking and Subjectivity, this reader enables students to make hitherto unmade connections across art, film and photography history and theory, semiotics, history, semiotics and communications, media studies, and cultural theory. The key statements are from the work of: Visual Culture: The Reader sets the agenda for the study of Visual Culture and will be an essential sourcebook for researchers and students alike. This is the reader for the module The Image and Visual Culture (D850) - part of The Open University Masters in Social Sciences Programme. (shrink)
In this paper, I show how the phenomenological and hermeneutic traditions and method converge on their treatment of the historical subject. Thinkers from both traditions claim that subjectivity is shaped by a historical worldview. Each tradition provides an account of how these worldviews are shaped, and thus how essentially historical subjective experience is molded. I argue that both traditions, although offering helpful ways of understanding the way history shapes subjectivity, go too far in their epistemic claims for the superiority (...) of subjective over positivist or academic history I propose that although the phenomenological/ hermeneutic approach to historical subjectivity is valuable for understanding both history and human nature, it cannot and ought not replace academic or what I will call ‘critical’ history. By showing the importance of historicity, and the force of historical consciousness on our actions, philosophers of history in these traditions expose the epistemic and perhaps even ethical requirement to engage in a rigorous critical history, one that recognizes the importance of historical consciousness. Such critical history is necessary to move beyond the subjective horizon of history as experienced to understand how events shaped this historical horizon. (shrink)
This article entitled “History's `So it seems'” explores the potential of phenomenology for the framing of histories which privilege partcipant perspectives. The theory agenda of the article adapts insights drawn from Heidegger's ontological hermeneutic of Da-sein - the human condition of being-there and being-aware (or not aware). The theory agenda also adapts Heidegger's readings of Heraclitus. The practical agenda of the article illustrates this potential of Heidegger's phenomenology for history by contrasting `so it once seemed' senses of the (...) Emperor Julian the Apostate's Roman pagan self-hood. The contrasts are autobiographical (Julian's Misopogon ), contemporary biographical (Ammianus Marcellinus's history), and long-lag biographical (Gore Vidal's novel avowedly constrained by the sources). (shrink)
There is no doubt that periodization is a rather effective method of data ordering and analysis, but it deals with exceptionally complex types of processual and temporal phenomena and thus it simplifies historical reality. Many scholars emphasize the great importance of periodization for the study of history. In fact, any periodization suffers from one-sidedness and certain deviations from reality. However, the number and significance of such deviations can be radically diminished as the effectiveness of periodization is directly connected with (...) its author's understanding of the rules and peculiarities of this methodological procedure. In this paper we would like to suggest a model of periodization of history based on our theory of historical process. We shall also demonstrate some possibilities of mathematical modeling for the problems concerning the macroperiodization of the world historical process. This analysis identifies a number of cycles within this process and suggests its generally hyperexponential shape, which makes it possible to propose a number of forecasts concerning the forthcoming decades. (shrink)
The crisis of representation and the academic study of religion -- Phenomenology, consciousness, essence : critical surveys of the history of the study of religion -- Individual men in their solitude? : a critique of William James' individualistic approach to religion in the varieties of religious experience -- The concept of essence-and-manifestation in the history of the study of religion -- The concept of development in continental geisteswissenschaft and religionswissenshaft : before and after Darwin -- The transcendental pretense (...) and Eliade's humanist hermeneutics towards a Nietzschean semiotics of religion -- Post-structural (dis)placements : genealogy, religious studies, and the problematics of historical identity -- Religion as the structuring of asymmetrical relations : towards a definition -- Towards a semiotic theory of religion. (shrink)
There is a pervasive contrast in the early natural history writings of the co-discoverers of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin. In his writings from South America and the Malay Archipelago (1848-1852, 1854-1862). Wallace consistently emphasized species and genera, and separated these descriptions from his rarer and briefer discussions of individual organisms. In contrast, Darwin's writings during the Beagle voyage (1831-1836) emphasized individual organisms, and mingled descriptions of individuals and groups. The contrast is explained by the different (...) practices of the two naturalists in the field. Wallace and Darwin went to the field with different educational experiences and social connections, constrained by different responsibilities and theoretical interests. These in turn resulted in different natural history practices; i.e., different habits and working routines in the field. Wallace's intense collecting activities aimed at a complete inventory of different species and their distributions at many localities. Darwin's less intense collecting practice focused on detailed observations of individual organisms. These different practices resulted in different material, textual and conceptual products. Placing natural history practices at the center of analysis reveals connections among these diverse products, and throws light on Wallace and Darwin's respective treatment of individuals and groups in natural history. In particular, this approach clarifies the relation between individuals and groups in Wallace's theory of natural selection, and provides an integrative starting point for further investigations of the broader social factors that shaped Victorian natural history practices and their scientific products. (shrink)
Abstract Science and technology studies (STS) has perhaps provided the most ambitious set of challenges to the boundary separating history and philosophy of science since the 19th century idealists and positivists. STS is normally associated with `social constructivism', which when applied to history of science highlights the malleability of the modal structure of reality. Specifically, changes to what is (e.g. by the addition or removal of ideas or things) implies changes to what has been, can be and might (...) be. Latour's account of Pasteur's scientific achievement is a case in point. Two polar attitudes towards the world's modal malleability are identified: over - and under - determination, which correspond, respectively, to a belief in the inevitability and the precariousness of science as a form of knowledge. The distinctness of these positions reflects a cordon sanitaire between the history and the philosophy of science. Consequently, historical agents are not given full voice as constructors of reality: They are either quarantined to a foreign realm called `the past' by the historian or selectively assimilated to an imperial present by the philosopher. The second half of the essay explores what it might mean to restore a robust sense of reality construction to the historical agents. My case in point here is that of the 13th century Franciscan friar, Roger Bacon, who has been alternatively seen as a mad medieval or a proto-modernist. To give Bacon full voice would involve taking the future that he envisaged as a normative benchmark for judging our own world. (shrink)
There are a large number of disciplines that are interested in the theoretical aspects of the history of thought. Their perspectives and subjects may vary, but fundamentally they have a common research interest: the history of human thinking and its products. Despite this, they are studied in relative isolation. I argue that having different subjects as specific objects of research, such as political or scientific thinking, is not a valid justification for the separation. I propose the formation of (...) a new integrated field of study, the philosophy of the history of thought. Its most fundamental questions can be taken to be: 1) What is the basic theoretical unit in the history of thought? 2) How does change take place and how can it be described? 3) What kind of reasons are there for change? Why is there a change in a particular case? The existing confusions around the commitments and basic vocabulary used in contemporary historiography makes the establishment of this field important. Recognizing that there is such a discipline is necessary in order to enable concentration on the fundamental theoretical issues. It is likely that progress on theoretical questions and better awareness of the implicit commitments would have a positive impact on historical practice. (shrink)
Investigators of animal behavior since the eighteenth century have sought to make their work integral to the enterprises of natural history and/or the life sciences. In their efforts to do so, they have frequently based their claims of authority on the advantages offered by the special places where they have conducted their research. The zoo, the laboratory, and the field have been major settings for animal behavior studies. The issue of the relative advantages of these different sites has been (...) a persistent one in the history of animal behavior studies up to and including the work of the ethologists of the twentieth century. (shrink)