The Last Best Hope Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s11007-012-9221-1 Authors Steven Crowell, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA Journal Continental Philosophy Review Online ISSN 1573-1103 Print ISSN 1387-2842.
Machine generated contents note: Part I. Introduction: Introduction; 1. Existentialism and its legacy Steven Crowell; Part II. Existentialism in Historical Perspective: 2. Existentialism as a philosophical movement David E. Cooper; 3. Existentialism as a cultural movement William McBride; Part III. Major Existentialist Philosophers: 4. Kierkegaard's single individual and the point of indirect communication Alastair Hannay; 5. 'What a monster then is man': Pascal and Kierkegaard on being a contradictory self and what to do about it Hubert L. Dreyfus; 6. (...) Nietzsche: after the death of God Richard Schacht; 7. Nietzsche: selfhood, creativity, and philosophy Lawrence J. Hatab; 8. Heidegger: the existential analytic of Dasein William Blattner; 9. The antinomy of being: Heidegger's critique of humanism Karsten Harries; 10. Sartre's existentialism and the nature of consciousness Steven Crowell; 11. Political existentialism: the career of Sartre's political thought Thomas R. Flynn; 12. Simone de Beauvoir's existentialism: freedom and ambiguity in the human world Kristana Arp; 13. Merleau-Ponty on body, flesh, and visibility Taylor Carman; Part IV. The Reach of Existential Philosophy; 14. Existentialism as literature Jeff Malpas; 15. Existentialism and religion Merold Westphal; 16. Racism is a system: how existentialism became dialectical in Fanon and Sartre Robert Bernasconi; 17. Existential phenomenology, psychiatric illness, and the death of possibilities Matthew Ratcliffe and Matthew Broome; Bibliography of works cited; Index. (shrink)
This paper argues that transcendental phenomenology (here represented by Edmund Husserl) can accommodate the main thesis of semantic externalism, namely, that intentional content is not simply a matter of what is ‘in the head,’ but depends on how the world is. I first introduce the semantic problem as an issue of how linguistic tokens or mental states can have ‘content’—that is, how they can set up conditions of satisfaction or be responsive to norms such that they can succeed or fail (...) at referring. The standard representationalist view—which thinks of the problem in first-person terms—is contrasted with Brandom’s pragmatic inferentialist approach, which adopts a third-person stance. The rest of the paper defends a phenomenological version of the representationalist position (seeking to preserve its first-person stance) but offers a conception of representation that does not identify it with an entity ‘in the head.’ The standard view of Husserl as a Cartesian internalist is undermined by rejecting its fundamental assumption—that Husserl’s concept of the ‘noema’ is a mental entity—and by defending a concept of ‘phenomenological immanence’ that has a normative, rather than a psychological, structure. Finally, it is argued that phenomenological immanence cannot be identified with ‘consciousness’ in Husserl’s sense, though consciousness is a necessary condition for it. (shrink)
Harman and Lewis credit Kripke with having formulated a puzzle that seems to show that knowledge entails dogmatism. The puzzle is widely regarded as having been solved. In this paper we argue that this standard solution, in its various versions, addresses only a limited aspect of the puzzle and holds no promise of fully resolving it. Analyzing this failure and the proper rendering of the puzzle, it is suggested that it poses a significant challenge for the defense of epistemic closure.
The idea that knowledge can be extended by inference from what is known seems highly plausible. Yet, as shown by familiar preface paradox and lottery-type cases, the possibility of aggregating uncertainty casts doubt on its tenability. We show that these considerations go much further than previously recognized and significantly restrict the kinds of closure ordinary theories of knowledge can endorse. Meeting the challenge of uncertainty aggregation requires either the restriction of knowledge-extending inferences to single premises, or eliminating epistemic uncertainty in (...) known premises. The first strategy, while effective, retains little of the original idea—conclusions even of modus ponens inferences from known premises are not always known. We then look at the second strategy, inspecting the most elaborate and promising attempt to secure the epistemic role of basic inferences, namely Timothy Williamson’s safety theory of knowledge. We argue that while it indeed has the merit of allowing basic inferences such as modus ponens to extend knowledge, Williamson’s theory faces formidable difficulties. These difficulties, moreover, arise from the very feature responsible for its virtue- the infallibilism of knowledge. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson has famously argued that the (KK) principle (roughly, that if one knows that p, then one knows that one knows that p) should be rejected. We analyze Williamson’s argument and show that its key premise is ambiguous, and that when it is properly stated this premise no longer supports the argument against (KK). After canvassing possible objections to our argument, we reflect upon some conclusions that suggest significant epistemological ramifications pertaining to the acquisition of knowledge from prior knowledge (...) by deduction. (shrink)
Following Marc Richir and others, László Tengelyi has recently developed the idea of Sinnereignis (meaning-event) as a way of capturing the emergence of meaning that does not flow from some prior project or constitutive act. As such, it might seem to pose something of a challenge to phenomenology: the paradox of an experience that is mine without being my accomplishment. This article offers a different sort of interpretation of meaning-events, claiming that in their structure they always involve what the late (...) Heidegger called “measure-taking” (Maß-nehmen)—that is, an orientation toward the emergence of normative moments thanks to which what apparently eludes phenomenology becomes accessible in its inaccessibility. This is shown, first, on the example of conscience in Sein und Zeit and then on the example of the poetic image (Bild) in Heidegger’s later essays. (shrink)
It is often held that, in contrast to Husserl, Heidegger's account of intentionality makes no essential reference to the first-person stance. This paper argues, on the contrary, that an account of the first-person, or 'subjectivity', is crucial to Heidegger's account of intelligibility (world) and so of the intentionality, or 'aboutness' of our acts and thoughts, that rests upon it. It first offers an argument as to why the account of intelligibility in Division I of Being and Time , (...) based on a form of third-person self-awareness, provides a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for intentionality. It then shows that Heidegger provides a further necessary condition in his analysis of the collapse of the one-self in Division II. This condition is 'conscience', which is both a genuine first-person mode of self-awareness and, it is argued, the origin of reason as that which distinguishes factic 'grounds' from normative 'justifications'. (shrink)
Transcendental philosophy has traditionally sought to provide non-contingent grounds for (a 'rational' account of) certain aspects of cognitive, moral, and social life. Further, it has made a claim to being 'ultimately' grounded in the sense that its account of experience should provide a non-dogmatic account of its own possibility. Most current approaches to transcendental philosophy seek to do justice to these twin aspects of the project by making an 'intersubjective turn', taking the structure of dialogue or social practice rather than (...) the 'I think' or consciousness as the locus of ultimate grounds. After examining the recent debate over transcendental arguments in order to illuminate the relations between two important versions of transcendental philosophy- the neo-Kantian version oriented toward justification of principles and the phenomenological version oriented toward clarification of meaning- this paper criticizes internally connected aspects of the intersubjective turn in K. O. Apel, Bernhard Waldenfels, and a recent 'practical' interpretation of Husserl. It is shown that the twin demands of the project can be redeemed only if ultimate grounding is seen first of all not as an epistemological or ontological question but (as Levinas suggests) as an ethical one. This requires modification of the appeal to intersubjectivity and a qualified return to the first-person perspective. (shrink)
This paper explores, from a phenomenological perspective, the conditions necessary for the possession of intentional content, i.e., for being intentionally directed toward the world. It argues that Levinas's concept of ethics as first philosophy makes an important contribution to this task. Intentional directedness, as understood here, is normatively structured. Levinas's ‘ethics’ can be understood as a phenomenological account of how our experience of the other subject as another subject takes place in the recognition of the normative force of a command. (...) This supplies a condition that—as the paper shows by examining Husserl and Sartre on how our experience of the Other constitutes an ‘objective’ world—earlier phenomenologists have misunderstood, because they have treated ethical experience as ‘founded’ on a prior theory of representation (‘ontology’ in Levinas's language). Ethics is first philosophy because it is only by acknowledging the command in the ‘face’ of the Other that we can account for the sensitivity to the normative distinctions that structure intentional content. Throughout, the paper shows how Levinas's analyses, in Totality and Infinity, draw upon and develop the analyses of Husserl and Sartre. (shrink)
In 1928 Heidegger argued that the transcendental philosophy he had pursued in Being and Time needed to be completed by what he called "metontology." This paper analyzes what this notion amounts to. Far from being merely a curiosity of Heidegger scholarship, the place occupied by "metontology" opens onto a general issue concerning the relation between transcendental philosophy and metaphysics, and also between both of these and naturalistic empiricism. I pursue these issues in terms of an ambiguity in the notion of (...) "grounding" in Being and Time and in the works of what I call Heidegger's "metaphysical decade" (1927-1937), defending a phenomenological conception (giving priority to the theory of meaning) against what proves to be the illusory idea that metaphysical grounds are presupposed in such transcendental philosophy. (shrink)
Taking Maurice Natanson's posthumously published book, The Erotic Bird: Phenomenology in Literature, as its point of departure, the essay argues that "fictive reality" is the specific content of transcendental-phenomenological reflection. Elaborating this concept allows us to see how phenomenological concepts such as constitution, horizon, and the "transcendental" have a tropological, rather than a psychological, meaning. Specifically, the article considers the metonymical structure of reality's "spatial horizon" and the metaphorical structure of reality's "temporal horizon." This latter is demonstrated on Natanson's analysis (...) of Thomas Mann's concept of the "leitmotiv" in The Magic Mountain. The essay concludes by pointing toward the ontology of metaphor entailed by Natanson's analysis, while suggesting the difference between phenomenology, as the "poetic essence" of philosophy, and philosophy itself, as the categorial elaboration of what phenomenology uncovers. (shrink)
Burt Hopkins provides a reading of the development of Husserl’s phenomenology, framing it with an account of its relation to Platonic and Aristotelian theories of unity-in-multiplicity, on the one hand, and the criticisms of Husserl found in Heidegger and Derrida, on the other. Here I introduce a further approach to the problem of unity-in-multiplicity – one based on normative ideality, drawing on Plato’s Idea of the Good -- and investigate three crucial aspects of phenomenological philosophy as Hopkins presents it: the (...) method of reflection, the nature of absolute consciousness, and the status of the ego. I take issue with Husserl’s idea that consciousness can be the sufficient ground of that “meaning” which, for both Hopkins and for me, is the specific topic of phenomenology. (shrink)
The thirteen essays in this volume represent the most sustained investigation, in any language, of the connections between Heidegger's thought and the tradition of transcendental philosophy inaugurated by Kant. This collection examines Heidegger's stand on central themes of transcendental philosophy: subjectivity, judgment, intentionality, truth, practice, and idealism. Several essays in the volume also explore hitherto hidden connections between Heidegger's later "post-metaphysical" thinking—where he develops a "topological" approach that draws as much upon poetry as upon the philosophical tradition—and the transcendental project (...) of grasping the conditions that make experience of a meaningful world possible. This volume will interest philosophers in the continental tradition, where Heidegger's thought has long had a central role, as well as those many philosophers in the analytic tradition whose own approach to knowledge, semantics, and philosophy of mind traces its roots to Kant. (shrink)
In this book review, I assess the merits of the book as a whole (it's good!) while focusing in particular on chapters by Claudia Card, Patrick Frierson, Robert Louden, Pablo Muchnik, Jeanine Grenberg, and Allen Wood.
Lloyd's book, Morality in the Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes , correctly stresses the deductive element in Hobbes's proofs of the laws of nature. She believes that “the principle of reciprocity” is the key to these proofs. This principle is effective in getting ego-centric people to recognize moral laws and their moral obligations. However, it is not, I argue, the basic principle Hobbes uses to derive the laws of nature, from definitions. The principle of reason, which dictates that all similar cases (...) be treated similarly, is. It is important not to diminish the centrality of reason for Hobbes because it is essential to understanding his reply to “the fool” and understanding why the state of nature cannot be a continuum. (shrink)
The question of personal identity—what makes a person the same person over time—is puzzling. Through the course of a life, someone might undergo a dramatic alteration in personality, radically change her values, lose almost all of her memories, and undergo significant changes in her physical appearance. Given all of these potential changes, why should we be inclined to regard her as the same person? Battlestar Galactica presents us with an even bigger puzzle: What makes a Cylon the same Cylon over (...) time? There are only twelve different models, but there are many copies of each. So what makes the resurrected Caprica Six the same Cylon as the one who seduced Gaius Baltar into betraying humanity, and yet a different Cylon from the tortured Gina or Shelly Godfrey? (shrink)