The article sorts through some uses of the phrase "playing God," finding that the phrase does not so much state a principle as invoke a perspective, a perspective from which scientific and technological innovations are assessed. It suggests the relevance of a perspective in which "God" is taken seriously and "play" playfully. Keywords: genetic engineering, playing God CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
Inheriting the religious prejudices of the Enlightenment, many supporters of liberal democracy consider John Calvin's theology contrary to the norms and virtues necessary for productive public discourse in a religiously and culturally diverse society. In Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics , Michael Walzer makes a similar assumption, arguing that, despite its contribution to political modernization, the inherent fideism, absolutism, and intolerance of Calvinism constitutes a threat to public discourse in liberal society. In this (...) paper, I contend that the prevailing understanding of Calvin's theology is incorrect. In actuality he is a nuanced natural law thinker, whose complex understanding of human nature and the state encourages the subtle balance of virtues that contemporary political life requires. (shrink)
The extraordinary story of Krishnamurti, hailed early in life as the messiah for the 20th century, is told here in the light of a century of changing spiritual attitudes. It is a tale of mysticism, sexual scandals, religious fervor and chicanery, out of which emerged one of the most influential thinkers of modern times. Krishnamurti was "discovered" as a young boy on a beach in India by members of the Theosophical Society, convinced that they had found the new world leader, (...) a spiritual savior as historic and as influential as Jesus himself. By the 1920s he was attracting worldwide press attention and people flocked to his talks in the thousands. In 1922, Krishnamurti broke with the society and set out on a teaching mission of his own as a secular philosopher of spirituality. He ultimately had a career that spanned six decades, founded seven schools, published 50 books and encompassed thousands of talks. This extraordinary story is told for the first time by Roland Vernon in the full light of 20th-century attitudes in a narrative that is as compelling as any novel. (shrink)
For much of its brief history, the field of environmental ethics has been critical of anthropocentrism. I here undertake a pragmatic reconsideration of anthropocentrism. In the first part of this essay, I explain what a pragmatic reconsideration of anthropocentrism means. I differentiate two distinct pragmatic strategies, one substantive and one methodological, and I adopt methodological pragmatism as my guiding principle. In the second part of this essay, I examine a case study of environmental policy—the problem of beach replenishment on Fire (...) Island, New York—as a pragmatic test of anthropocentrism. I conclude that the debate between anthropocentrism and nonanthropocentrism needs to be expressed in non-absolutist terms, i.e., in a language that permits compromise, flexibility, and a pluralism of values. Thechoice between anthropocentrism and nonanthropocentrism as the basis of both environmental policy and environmental ethics is highly contextual and thus requires a subtle examination of the concrete policy situation. (shrink)
This paper demonstrates that L'Étranger , Camus's famous novel about an outsider, had by as early as 1946 become just as much of an 'insider' in terms of its affiliation to the Parisian literary tradition. More than an insider simply by virtue of its contemporary place in the French canon, then, the novel is also intertextually bound to a tradition of oxymoronic poetics dating back to Charles Baudelaire's Paris Spleen ( Les Petits poèmes en prose ). I shall examine the (...) way in which L'Étranger performs its prose poetics, thereby establishing it as exemplary of a Parisian model of modernity. Additionally, the famous scene on the beach will be considered as a liminal space and as a literary translation of Paris into the desert, which, once a joke for Paris's relationship to provincial France, became after the Second World War a new allegory for the capital's self-alterity. (shrink)
Kant's noncognitive argument based on practical reason claims that moral considerations alone suffice to justify the idea of personal immortality as a postulate. Some recent objections are considered here that have charged him with overstepping his own distinction between phenomenon and noumenon. After examining the arguments, Kant is exonerated of having violated his own principles. More troubling, however, is the peculiarity involved in postulating an infinite progression toward a goal whose attainment, by hypothesis, would undermine the very foundations of morality (...) (which for Kant always requires the agonistic condition of struggling to improve one's lower nature). It is argued that this paradox necessitates a reexamination of some tacit cultural presuppositions underlying Kant's conception of the soul. Finally, an examination is made of the thought of Kitarō Nishida, whose Zen Buddhist–inspired dialectic of the basho (logical "place") provides an alternative perspective from which to reconsider the postulate of immortality. Nishida, like Kant, rigorously maintains the phenomenonnoumenon distinction, yet his examination of ethics leads him to postulate an eventual sublation of the "soul" principle. It is concluded that Kant's postulate of immortality, while plausible enough on its own terms, is limited by a Western cultural bias and therefore fails in the end to be compelling. (shrink)
Business bluffing as a subject has been mentioned in various journals for at least the past 16 years. Its treatment has become one of apparent serious intent to identify it as a subject matter unto itself. Definitionally and theoretically, its essence has been specified but seemingly without due regard to its true nature. Business bluffing is an act of puffing at best and misrepresentation or fraud at worst. In either case, its legality and morality are already well defined and discussions (...) of the subject should be directed along these established pathes. A businessman is admonished to judge things as they are, to speak of them, when properly called thereto, according to such judgment, neither adding or diminishing, neither depreciating a commodity, nor putting false color upon it. (Plain and Serious Hints and Advice for the Tradesman's Prudent and Pious Conduct, Dr. Isaac Watts, 1747.). (shrink)
Dieter Henrich has presented persuasive evidence that Hegel’s logic does not, in practice, provide a linear deduction of logical categories, but rather borrows thought-forms proper to subsequent stages in order to effect its dialectical transitions. In reply, I argue that the presented order of the categories is already implicitly sublated by a deep structure of circularity that determines the development. Thus, Hegel’s dialectic is deliberately nonlinear in terms of both its content and its method. One can therefore acknowledge the astuteness (...) of Henrich’s many insights without regarding them as telling criticisms of the system as Hegel intended it. (shrink)
The article dwells on human problems in the English postmodernism prose. A non-classical character of the 20th century literature is discussed. Postmodernism prose is described as a modern modification of the classical psychological novel. The author considers that the main theme in this prose is revealing a dramatic man's position in front of a spiritless and senseless practice of modern society. The major components of the psychological novel poetics as a hero, plot, composition and psychologism are determined. The author analyzes (...) J. Barnes' "Taking it over", "England, England", "Love, etc" and J. McEwan's "On Chesil Beach". (shrink)
Consider the following explanation: (1) George took his umbrella because it was just about to rain. This is an explanation of a quite distinctive sort. It is profoundly different from the sort of explanation we might use to explain, say, the movements of a bouncing ball or the gradual rise of the tide on a beach. Unlike these other types of explanations, it explains an agent’s behavior by describing the agent’s own _reasons_ for performing that behavior. Explanations that work in (...) this way have a number of distinctive and important properties, and we will refer to them here as _reason explanations_. Looking at the use of reason explanations with a philosophical eye, one is apt to experience a certain puzzlement. One wants to know precisely what makes a given reason explanation true or false. So, for example, the explanation given above seems to be saying that George’s reason for taking his umbrella was that it was just about to rain. But what exactly makes it the case that this is George’s reason? Does he have to actually be. (shrink)
1. Contextualism seeks to acknowledge the power of sceptical arguments while permitting to be true at least some of the assertions of knowledge and justiﬁcation we commonly make. It seems to me now just as if I am in an ofﬁce in Edinburgh. According to the sceptic the claim that I am in fact in an ofﬁce in Edinburgh is unjustiﬁed, since there is no reason I can give for this belief that is not also consistent with (or undermined by) (...) the alternative hypothesis that I am in fact on a beach in Hawaii being deceived by an evil demon into thinking that I am in an ofﬁce in Edinburgh. Yet if I were.. (shrink)
Some philosophers have argued recently that introspective evidence provides direct support for an intentionalist theory of visual experience. An intentionalist theory of visual experience treats experience as an intentional state, a state with an intentional content. (I shall use the word ’state’ in a general way, for any kind of mental phenomenon, and here I shall not distinguish states proper from events, though the distinction is important.) Intentionalist theories characteristically say that the phenomenal character of an experience, what it is (...) like to have the experience, is exhausted by its intentional content. Visual experience, and on some views sense-experience generally, does not involve the awareness of ’qualia’, intrinsic, non-intentional features of the experience. According to Gilbert Harman and Michael Tye, support for this view comes from introspecting on experience. Tye describes his ’argument from introspection’ as follows: Standing on the beach in Santa Barbara a couple of summers ago on a bright sunny day, I found myself transfixed by the intense blue of the Pacific Ocean. Was I not here delighting in the phenomenal aspects of my visual experience? And if I was, doesn’t this show that there are visual qualia? I am not convinced. It seems to me that what I found so pleasing in the above instance, what I was focusing on, as it were, were a certain shade and intensity of the colour blue. I experienced blue as a property of the ocean not as a property of my experience. My experience itself certainly wasn’t blue. Rather, it was an experience which represented the ocean as blue. What I was really delighting in, then, were specific aspects of the content of the experience. Tye goes on to suggest that this might have been the sort of thing Moore meant when he said that the sensation of blue is ’diaphanous’, and glosses this as follows: When one tries to focus on it in introspection one cannot help but see right through it so that what one actually ends up attending to is the real colour blue. 1An early version of this paper was presented at the conference, Mental Phenomena III in Dubrovnik, Croatia.. (shrink)
This article reviews the use of implantable radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags in humans, focusing on the VeriChip (VeriChip Corporation, Delray Beach, FL) and the associated VeriMed patient identification system. In addition, various nonmedical applications for implanted RFID tags in humans have been proposed. The technology offers important health and nonhealth benefits, but raises ethical concerns, including privacy and the potential for coercive implantation of RFID tags in individuals. A national discussion is needed to identify the limits of acceptable use of (...) implantable RFID tags in humans before their use becomes widespread and it becomes too late to prevent misuse of this useful but ethically problematic technology. (shrink)
In his book A Charge to Keep, George W. Bush writes of his decision to "recommit my heart to Jesus Christ." He traces it to a walk along the beach in Maine with the Christian evangelist Billy Graham. Conversing with Graham, Bush was "humbled to learn that God had sent His Son to die for a sinner like me." After his decision to recommit himself to Jesus, Bush tells us, he began to read the Bible regularly and joined a Bible (...) study group. Later, when Bush describes a visit to Israel that he and his wife, Laura, made in 1998, we get a further insight into his view of the Gospels as history. George and Laura went, he tells us, to the Sea of Galilee and "stood atop the hill where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount." It was, he adds, "an overwhelming feeling to stand in the spot where the most famous speech in the history of the world was delivered, the spot where Jesus outlined the character and conduct of a believer and gave his disciples and the world the beatitudes, the golden rule, and the Lord's Prayer." Bush concludes his account of his visit to Israel by saying he knows that faith changes lives, because "faith changed mine." This faith is something that enables him to build his life on "a foundation that will not shift.". (shrink)
As an undergraduate at the University of Melbourne in the 1980s, I recall a story that used to circulate to the effect that Australian philosophers were realists (the term prefixed by the obligatory adjective "hard-headed") because we lived in a harsh, sunlit environment where no misty meadow or morning fog obscured the objective reality of a mind-independent physical universe.
Graham compares Kung-sun Lung's “White Horse not Horse” [Graham, A.C. (1990) Studies in Chinese Philosophy and Philosophical Literature (Albany, SUNY Press)] loith the use of a synecdoche in English, “Sword is not Blade”. The Blade as part stands in here for the whole which is the Sword. But just as Sword as 'hilt plus blade' is more than blade, then via analogia, White Horse as 'white plus horse' is more than the part that is just 'horse'. Graham had taken over (...) this Part/Whole argument from Chad Hansen who argues that since Chinese does not require the word ma for 'horse/horses' to be used with prefixed articles or numerals, ma is a 'mass-noun' similar to certain English mass-nouns like 'sand' which also has no plural form unlike the count-noun 'horse' [Hansen, Chad, (1983) Language and Logic in Ancient China (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press)]. Hansen then equates “White Horse is not Horse” to the Mohist argument for “Ox Horse is not Horse”. Ox-Horse is a 'mixed herd' of Ox and Horse that is not (just) that part that is Horse. The same it is with the mass-sum that is White Horse. It is like saying in English “White Sand is not Sand”. Sand being this spread of sand on the beach, it is more than just a patch of that beach that is white. But this attribution of a Part/Whole logic to Kung-sun Lung runs up against a basic dictum stated in his thesis on 'Pointing and Thing'. There it is noted how all things can be pointed out except thing itself because the word “thing” leaves nothing to exclude for it to be stand out. Since that thesis is derived from the law of the excluded middle where a thing is either X or not X, it is not possible for Kung-sun Lung to subscribe to a Part/Whole logic which basically argues for a thing being both X and not X. (shrink)
The statistics at least seem alarming. The production of Ritalin, an amphetamine derivative used for the treatment of attention deficit disorder in children (and lately, in adults as well), has risen a whopping 700 percent since 1990. According to figures given by Lawrence Diller in Running on Ritalin, over the decade, the number of Americans using Ritalin has soared from 900,000 to almost 5 million -- the vast majority children from the ages of 5 to 12, though there is a (...) significant rise in Ritalin use among teens and adults as well. No comparable rise is reported in other countries, though a much smaller surge has taken place in Canada and Australia. In Virginia Beach, Virginia (perhaps the most egregious example), 17 percent of fifth-grade boys were taking Ritalin in 1996 to control behavior problems and improve school performance. (Boys on Ritalin 1 outnumber girls in a ratio of 3.5 to 1; when I was recently complaining to another mother about my own son's academic difficulties, she said simply, "Welcome to the world of boys.") Stimulants have been used to treat behavior problems in children since 1937; Ritalin itself appeared on the market in the 1960s to treat what was then called "hyperactivity" -- impulsive, disruptive behavior by children who just "couldn't sit still." In recent years, however, the root problem has been identified as "attention deficit disorder" (ADD), either with or without attendant hyperactivity. Symptoms of ADD, according to the standard survey used in its diagnosis, include: "often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork," "often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities," and "often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)." Symptoms of ADD-H (the variant with hyperactivity) include: "often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat," and "often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly." Ritalin, by most accounts, is remarkably effective in getting such children to settle down and pay attention, with resultant (at least short term) gains in parental sanity and academic achievement. The fear, stated quite baldly, is that as a society we are 1 drugging our children in ever-larger numbers to get them to conform to adult expectations.. (shrink)
Early in this volume, David Ehrenfeld describes what prophecy really is. Referring to the biblical prophets, he says they were not the "holy fortunetellers that the word prophet has come to signify....The business of prophecy is not simply foretelling the future; rather it is describing the present with exceptional truthfulness and accuracy." Once this is done, then it can be seen that broad aspects of the future have suddenly become apparent. The twentieth century is drawing to a chaotic close amidst (...) portents of unprecedented change and upheaval. The unravelling of societies and civilizations and the destruction of nature march together--linked--a fact whose enormous significance is often lost. In Beginning Again, David Ehrenfeld has undertaken the difficult task of describing the present clearly enough to reveal the future. Out of his broad vision emerges a glimpse of a new millennium: a vision at once frightening and comforting, a scene of great devastation and great rebuilding. Ehrenfeld ranges far and wide to present a coherent vision of our relationship with Nature--its many aspects and implications--as our century opens into the next millennium. Whether he is writing about the problem of loyalty to organizations, rights versus obligations, our over-managed society, the vanishing of established knowledge, the failure of experts, the triumph of dandelions, Dr. Seuss, Edward Teller, or the future of farming, he is always concerned with the intricate interaction between technology and nature. As in his classic book, The Arrogance of Humanism, Ehrenfeld never loses sight of our fatal love affair with the fantasy of control. We now have no choice, he argues, but to transform the dream of control, of progress, from one of overweening hubris, love of consumption, and the idiot's goal of perpetual growth, to one based on "the inventive imitation of nature," with its honesty, beauty, resilience, and durability. Few American writers and even fewer scientists can describe these timeless, transcendent qualities of nature so well. In "Places," the opening chapter, David Ehrenfeld tells about nightly vigils he spent alone on the moonlit beach of Tortuguero, watching giant sea turtles emerging from the sea to lay their eggs in the black sand where they were born. "I could watch the perfect white spheres falling," he writes. "Falling as they have fallen for a hundred million years, with the same slow cadence, always shielded from the rain or stars by the same massive bulk with the beaked head and the same large, myopic eyes rimmed with crusts of sand washed out by tears. Minutes and hours, days and months dissolve into eons. I am on an Oligocene beach, an Eocene beach, a Cretaceous beach--the scene is the same. It is night, the turtles are coming back, always back; I hear a deep hiss of breath and catch a glint of wet shell as the continents slide and crash, the oceans form and grow.". (shrink)
Kaplan's theory of demonstratives and deicticals can be brie y stated as follows. Expressions of this kind depend for their interpretation on the context of utterance and in a context of utterance they refer directly to whatever they refer to. Direct reference in turn consists in two properties. The rst property is the absence of a Fregean sense. The context does its work once and for all and the reference is not in uenced by a counterfactual circumstance in which something (...) else is pointed at (in the case of demonstrative) or somebody else is speaking (in the case of deictical "I"). The second property is the rigidity of the reference: if the reference is direct, it is the same in all possible worlds. It is rigid in a sense slightly stronger than Kripke's, because even in worlds where the object does not exist, the reference is still to the object referred to in the context of utterance. Demonstratives or deicticals can fail to refer when the utterance is abnormal. Consider e.g. a demonstrative without an accompanying pointing gesture (an incomplete demonstrative, in the terminology of Kaplan) or one with a pointing gesture that fails to point to anything. For deicticals we need slightly more imagination: consider an inscription in the beach sand of I am the greatest or an utterance coming from outside of space-time of I am here now. In such cases we have a defective context of utterance. One class of counterexamples to this theory is important in the context of dialogue systems incorporating the facility of pointing in a graphical representation visible on the computer screen: demonstratives used to refer to objects represented in a picture. Kaplan discuError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapsses his pointing to a picture of Spiro T.. (shrink)
The nature and legitimacy of commitments. Objectivity vs. commitment, by H. Smith. Institutional commitment: a social scientist's view, by H. R. Davis. The sectarian nature of liberal education, by L. J. Averill. The identity of the Christian college, by W. W. Jellema.--Commitments and the dimensions of learning. Discursive truth and evangelical truth, by A. C. Outler. Natural order and transcendent order, by W. G. Pollard. Limited cognition and ultimate cognition, by R. W. Friedrichs. Academic teaching and human experience, by M. (...) Novak. Academic excellence and moral value, by W. W. Jellema.--Norms and models of commitment. Biblical realism as a norm, by W. Herberg. Christian ethical community as a norm, by W. Beach. A pluralistic model, by W. B. Martin. A singular model, by L. J. Averill. (shrink)
Robert Solomon’s philosophy of emotion should be understood in the light of his lifelong commitment to existentialism and his advocacy of “the passionate life” as a means of creating value. Although he developed his views in the framework of the “cognitive theory” of emotions, closer examination reveals many themes in common with a socially situated, transactionalist view of emotions.
Counterpath is a collaborative work by Catherine Malabou and Jacques Derrida that answers to the gamble inherent in the idea of “travelling with” the philosopher of deconstruction. Malabou's readerly text of quotations and commentary demonstrates how Derrida's work, while appearing to be anything but a travelogue, is nevertheless replete with references to geographical and topographical locations, and functions as a kind of counter-Odyssey through meaning, theorizing, and thematizing notions of arrival, drifting, derivation, and catastrophe. In fact, by going straight to (...) the heart of the Derridean idea of “spacing,” she finally makes it seem as though Derrida has never written about anything but travel. Malabou's text is punctuated by a series of postcards received by Derrida from destinations such as Istanbul and Porto, Laguna Beach and Athens, which are inspired by his reading of her evolving discussion. Writing in a familiar and unguarded manner, as if he were “on vacation” from his own writing, Derrida still remains totally faithful to that work and invites the reader to reflect on much of what haunts his texts as well as his daily life, questions of distance and death, the relation to the other, and exile. (shrink)
God is playful. Like a child building sand castles on the beach, God creates the world and destroys it again. God plays with his (or her) devotees, sometimes like a lover, sometimes like a mother with her children, sometimes like an actor in a play. The idea of God's playfulness has been elaborated in Hinduism more, perhaps, than any other religion, providing one of the most distinctive and charming aspects of Indian religious life. Lila or "divine play" can refer to (...) many things: to God's playful creation of the world and to religious dramas or "plays," as well as to various motifs in Hindu art. But despite the importance of lila in the cultural history of South Asia, few comprehensive studies of it are available, partly because scholars have tended to emphasize only one dimension of lila--either the theological or the performative--at the expense of the other. The Gods at Play fills this gap by bringing together scholarly essays on all aspects of this important Hindu idea, providing students with a broader understanding of popular Hindu culture and religion. (shrink)
The ethics of the Egyptian religion, by S. A. B. Mercer.--The ethics of Confucianism, by H. P. Beach.--The ethics of the Babylonian and Assyrian religion, by G. A. Barton.--The history of Hindu ethics, by E. W. Hopkins.--The ethics of Zoroastrianism, by A. V. W. Jackson.--Early Hebrew ethics, by L. B. Paton.--The ethics of the Hebrew prophets - from Amos to the Deuteronomic reformation, by L. B. Paton.--The ethics of the Greek religion, by P. Shorey.--The ethics of the Gospels, by E. (...) F. Scott.--The ethics of the Pauline epistles, by C. H. Dodd.--Moslem ethics, by J. C. Archer.--The moral values of religion, by E. H. Sneath. (shrink)
When African migrants disappear on the Mediterranean going to Europe they often leave no trace—except for the occasional bodies that wash ashore on the beaches of southern Europe. In this essay, the urgent social and existential ramifications of migrant fatalities on the sea are explored. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in a small Ghanaian fishing village on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, it is discussed how the bereaved struggle to make sense of these deaths to high-risk migration—how they struggle (...) to deal with devastating loss while retaining a sense of moral order. (shrink)
"I have a tree, which grows here in my close, / That mine own use invites me to cut down, / And shortly I must fell it" (Shakespeare 2001, 168)—Timon's lament, which in Shakespeare's rendition occurs shortly before its utterer's demise "upon the beached verge of the salt flood" (2001, 168) beyond the perimeter of Athens, is an indictment of the nature that Timon finds unable to escape. Having given away his wealth in misguided generosity to a host of parasitic (...) sycophants, Timon turns misanthropic when his "friends" reject his requests for help in kind to repay his debts, eventually exiling himself from the city with the intent of sustaining himself on nothing but water and roots. Yet he soon finds that removing .. (shrink)
a product of human thought that betrays the lived uniqueness of persons, reducing otherness to the categories of the understanding and to its historical consequences? Or is history too thick to be synchronized in memory and historical consciousness? The article, taking its inspiration from Enrique Dussels ethics of liberation and particular moments of Latin American history, develops the notion of the proximity of history, phenomenologically critiquing Emmanuel Levinass own reduction of history to consciousness, his reading of history as a synchronizing (...) betrayal of diachronic events. It thus reads Levinas against his own texts, arguing that historical memory and historical encounters function much as the face does in Levinass own ethics, not only giving rise to irrecusable responsibilities, but also demanding the work of a critical, conscious appropriation of that history. Key Words: conquest Dussel ethics history Latin America Levinas proximity responsibility. (shrink)
The study of culture and cultural selection from a biological perspective has been hampered by the lack of any firm theoretical basis for how the information for cultural traits is stored and transmitted. In addition, the study of any living system with a decentralized or multi-level information structure has been somewhat restricted due to the focus in genetics on the gene and the particular hereditary structure of multicellular organisms. Here a different perspective is used, one which regards living systems as (...) self-constructing energy users that utilize their genome as a library of information, making the genetic system just another component that adds fitness to the overall integrated unit. In this framework, basic fitness is measured as the ability to gather energy for growth and reproduction, and the fitness of the genetic system is broken down into two aspects: first, the effectiveness in searching for new somatic functional information, and second, the effectiveness in searching for better structures to store and process information. With this more generalized perspective, major evolutionary transitions to higher levels of organization become competitions between different information structures; furthermore the functioning and fitness of cultural systems can be more easily described and compared with other modes of information storage within biological systems. Modern technological societies are self-constructing systems that rely on written (symbolic) information storage and very complex algorithms that effectively search for variation with a high probability of successful selection. These systems are currently competing with traditional organic systems, and this competition constitutes the latest major evolutionary transition. Upon comparison of the energy-gathering potential of symbolic-based systems with DNA-based life, it appears that symbolic systems have a tremendous fitness potential and the current shift to a higher level of selection may be as significant and far-reaching as any of the previous major evolutionary transitions. (shrink)
This essay explores Hegel’s treatment of Carl Friedrich Gauss’s mathematical discoveries as examples of “Analytic Cognition.” Unfortunately, Hegel’s main point has been virtually lost due to an editorial blunder tracing back almost a century, an error that has been perpetuated in many subsequent editions and translations.The paper accordingly has three sections. In the first, I expose the mistake and trace its pervasive influence in multiple languages and editions of the Wissenschaftder Logik. In the second section, I undertake to explain the (...) mathematical significance of Gauss’s discoveries. In the third section, I take a look at the deeperimplications of Hegel’s treatment of Gauss’s work as a window onto the nature and limitations of analytic cognition. In conclusion, I seek to explain how thelinear method embodied in deductive reason leads by its own inner principle, according to Hegel, to its dialectical Aufhebung (sublation). The result is a kindof deliberately circular reasoning that he describes as “the Absolute Idea.”. (shrink)
The author examines Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion to discover a variant of the usual teleological argument that abandons reliance on analogical reasoning. This second version, never refuted in the Dialogues, is termed "pragmaticist" in Peirce's sense. It relies on an abductive hypothesis that claims not logical proof but the power of instinctual conviction. The Dialogues' espousal of sound common sense may then be viewed as an imperfectly articulated precursor of Peirce's pragmaticist argument for the reality rather than the existence (...) of God. (shrink)
The author uses Eco's The Name of the Rose to pose the problem of the relation between the infinite aesthetic play of semiotics and pragmatic moral responsibility for human conduct. This problem is addressed through Peirce's semiotic theory, which not only links signs to objects, but situates them in an interpretant relation that is formative of human conduct. Religion is advanced as the paradigm of this relation; a "categorial semiotic" where concrete symbolic acts move beyond nominalism through real experience of (...) the divine, to which "fallibilistic" doctrines are always subject. (shrink)
The spokesperson in the Pentagon press room announces the availability of a breakthrough new technology. She says it is the first brain-implantable product of a larger project for developing cybernetic organisms (cyborgs) with new and enhanced sensory capabilities that will also have civilian uses. On the screen we see a device fitted on the forehead of a cyborg that appears to have hardwired connections to the brain on several points on the skull. The spokesperson calls the device.
From the island of certainty that is the Tractatus Logico Philosophicus to the everyday ethics of the mainland in the Investigations , Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophy traces a journey similar to the one etched into Robinson Crusoe's deserted beaches. In this essay I map out points contact between Wittgenstein's philosophy and Defoe's novel, thus providing a fresh glimpse at the philosophical underpinnings of the adventures depicted in Robinson Crusoe , as well as to Wittgenstein's philosophical motivations.
Through a discussion of Agnès Varda's career from 1954 to 2008 that focuses particularly on La Pointe Courte (1954), L'Opéra-Mouffe (1958), The Gleaners and I (2000), and The Beaches of Agnes (2008), this article considers the connections between Varda's filmmaking and her femaleness. It proposes that two aspects of Varda's cinema—her particularly perceptive portrayal of a set of geographical locations, and her visual and verbal emphasis on female embodiment—make a feminist existential-phenomenological approach to her films particularly fruitful. Drawing both directly (...) on the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and on some recent film- and feminist-theoretical texts that have employed his insights, it explores haptic imagery and feminist strategy in The Gleaners and I, the materialization of space characterizing Varda's blurring of fiction and documentary, and the dialectical relationship of people with their environment often observed in her cinema. It concludes that both Varda's female protagonists and the director herself may be said to perform feminist phenomenology in her films, in their actions, movement, and relationship to space, and in the carnality of voice and vision with which Varda's own subjectivity is registered within her film-texts. (shrink)
A look into one artist’s philosophical perspective regarding the successes and challenges of creating public art installations. The essay explores the development of a series of large-scale temporary works through the artist’s intuitive, conceptual, and spiritual response to particular locations, which have ranged from Baltimore to New York to Seoul, Korea. The article comes to focus upon a particularly controversial installation constructed in Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, Maryland. It explores the relationship between plastic debris and driftwood collected from the (...) faltering ecosystem of Chesapeake Bay beaches and what the public perceives as a natural environment of that park.The installation was created on top of the ruined foundation of an early twentieth-century hunting lodge located in a stand of old trees, which contained additional artifacts of the site’s original farm. The artist’s intent was to create an explicit walk-through environment with an implicit meaning in order to allow the public to contemplate and interpret the associations and meanings. What resulted was a well-publicized controversial split over spiritual questions, which exposed a divisive fault line between wealthy conservatives and the general public. (shrink)