The first major study since the 1930s of the relationship between American Transcendentalism and Asian religions, and the first comprehensive work to include post-Civil War Transcendentalists like Samuel Johnson, this book is encyclopedic in scope. Beginning with the inception of Transcendentalist Orientalism in Europe, Versluis covers the entire history of American Transcendentalism into the twentieth century, and the profound influence of Orientalism on the movement--including its analogues and influences in world religious dialogue. He examines what he calls "positive (...) Orientalism," which recognizes the value and perennial truths in Asian religions and cultures, not only in the writings of major figures like Thoreau and Emerson, but also in contemporary popular magazines. Versluis's exploration of the impact of Transcendentalism on the twentieth-century study of comparative religions has ramifications for the study of religious history, comparative religion, literature, politics, history, and art history. (shrink)
Transcendentalism is an American literary, political, and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century, centered around Ralph Waldo Emerson. Other important transcendentalists were Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Amos Bronson Alcott, Frederic Henry Hedge, and Theodore Parker. Stimulated by English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Herder and Schleiermacher, and the skepticism of Hume, the transcendentalists operated with the sense that a new era was at hand. They were critics of their contemporary society for its unthinking conformity, and (...) urged that each individual find, in Emerson's words, “an original relation to the universe” (O, 3). Emerson and Thoreau sought this relation in solitude amidst nature, and in their writing. By the 1840s they, along with other transcendentalists, were engaged in the social experiments of Brook Farm, Fruitlands, and Walden; and, by the 1850's in an increasingly urgent critique of American slavery. (shrink)
One of the more superficially perplexing features of Lacan’s notion of objet petit a is the fact that he simultaneously characterizes it as both non-specularizable (i.e., incapable of being captured in spatio-temporal representations) and specular (i.e., incarnated in visible avatars). This assignment of the apparently contradictory attributes of visibility and invisibility to object a is a reflection of this object’s strange position at the intersection of transcendental and empirical dimensions. Indeed, this object, which Lacan holds up as his central psychoanalytic (...) discovery, raises important philosophical questions about the transcendental-empirical distinction, arguably short-circuiting in interesting, productive ways this dichotomy and many of its permutations. This article seeks to achieve two aims: one, to clarify how and why Lacan situates object a between the specular and the non-specular; and, two, to extract from the results of this clarification a preliminary sketch of a post-Lacanian transcendentalism that is also thoroughly materialist. (shrink)
The Western messanger and The Dial -- Orestes A. Brownson and The Boston quarterly review -- The Present -- The Harbinger -- The Spirit of the age -- Elizabeth Peabody and her Xsthetic papers -- The Massachusetts quarterly review -- The Dial (Cincinnati)--The Radical -- The Index -- Appendix: Two uncollected Emerson items.
This paper examines normative elements in Henri Lauener’s “open transcendentalism,” with an eye to evaluate distinctive theses. After setting out some of Lauener’s basic positions in this area, in comparison with related views in Quine’s work, I argue that the views surveyed converge on a normative and contextualist cognitivism in Lauener’s methodological and epistemological perspective. Though he resists similar conclusion in the name of anti-naturalism, I argue that his “open transcendentalism” is plausibly construed as a non reductive naturalism.
The New England towns and villages that inspired the major figures of the Transcendentalism movement are presented by region in this travel guide that devotes a chapter to each town or village famous for its relationship to one or more of the Transcendentalists. Cambridge, where Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered his powerful speeches is highlighted, as is Walden, where Henry David Thoreau spent two years attuning himself to the rhythms of nature. Other chapters retrace the paths of major writers and (...) poets of the period as well as the utopian communities of the time. This invaluable traveling companion offers street maps, historical illustrations, and narratives that create a vivid sense of New England in the 19th century. (shrink)
At the beginning of "The Law of Mind," Charles S. Peirce makes this striking admission (W8:135):I may mention, for the benefit of those who are curious in studying mental biographies, that I was born and reared in the neighborhood of Concord—I mean in Cambridge—at the time when Emerson, Hedge, and their friends were disseminating the ideas that they had caught from Schelling, and Schelling from Plotinus, from Boehm, or from God knows what minds struck with the monstrous mysticism of the (...) East. But the atmosphere of Cambridge held many an antiseptic against Concord transcendentalism; and I am not conscious of having contracted any of that virus. Nevertheless, it is probable that some cultured bacilli, some benignant .. (shrink)
This article seeks to grasp the meaning of Michel Henry?s use of the term ?transcendental? to understand its specific nature as pure experience that owes nothing to the constituted or the a posteriori. It then considers the methodological consequences and difficulties resulting from such a conception of the transcendental. According to my hypothesis, in order to maintain the ?major division? between the empirical and the transcendental, material phenomenology is caught in a form of double bind. One cannot say much about (...) the transcendental without risking contamination by the empirical. As far as the constituted is concerned, it is certainly possible to refer to it, but actually there is nothing to say. This paper tests this interpretative hypothesis against a specific example, namely, the phenomenological description of feeling offered by Henry. The analysis concludes by considering whether material phenomenology does not lapse into what Rudolf Bernet calls a form of ?hyper?transcendentalism? in the sense that the totality of empirical reality ends by being ?transcendentalized?. No basis can be provided for intentionality, as Henry sometimes claims: it becomes a superfluous concept. (shrink)
This article addresses the ongoing debate between transcendental pragmatics and philosophical hermeneutics. I argue that Apel's version of linguistic transcendentalism is to be refuted, if one succeeds in demonstrating that the normative conditions of intersubjective validity of the argumentative discourse are `derivable' from the fore-structure of the discursive-practical medium of communication. Loci for specifically hermeneutical investigations of this fore-structure include the proto-normativity of the discursive practices, the effective-historical openness of the medium of communication, and the interplay between argumentative discourse (...) and medium. (shrink)
Lauener's philosophical approach is well-articulated and has many features that are fully justified: epistemology appears at the level of metascience, as a normative discipline; Lauener's transcendentalism is open, the norms being able to evolve over time; in his analytic a priori-synthetic a posteriori dichotomy, analyticity is relative to the context and results from conventions, and the dichotomy is compatible with Quine's universal revisibility; Lauener has shown that a theory and the metatheory it is based on cannot be revised at (...) the same time, a strong argument for ontological relativity but against general holism, he conceives of tmth as applicable only within a theory, relative to an ontology and dependent on references, etc. Other aspects, however, appear more problematic: the idea that mathematical entities are the product of our thinking, which makes them more similar to fictional than to physical objects (the main objection to this is that mathematics plays a constitutive role in physical concepts), or the tendency to speak of "existence relative to modem physics" (as if real existence were a type of existence, on a par with existence in fiction). (shrink)
The paper aims to reconstruct Heidegger’s historical-intentional assumptions in his ontological interpretation of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. The paper presents young Heidegger’s project of the “metaphysical-teleological interpretation of consciousness.” The project indicates the direction of his further ontological interpretation of transcendentalism: Heidegger stands up to the traditional, well known neo-Kantian interpretation of the Critique, and offers a new conception of ontological knowledge and cognition. According to this conception, cognition is grounded in transcendental imagination where a threefold synthesis takes (...) place. Heidegger’s original temporal interpretation of transcendental schematism is also recalled to stress the significance of his new ontological approach to Kant’s theoretical philosophy. (shrink)
This paper attempts to marshall some of the evidence of the transcendental character of Heidegger's later thinking, despite his repudiation of any form of transcendental thinking, including that of his own earlier project of fundamental ontology. The transcendental significance of that early project is first outlined through comparison and contrast with the diverse transcendental turns in the philosophies of Kant and Husserl. The paper then turns to Heidegger's account of the historical source of the notion of transcendence in Plato's thinking, (...) its legacy in various forms of transcendental philosophy, and his reasons for attempting to think in a post-transcendental way. The paper concludes by identifying four vestiges of the transcendental turn in Heidegger's later thinking. (shrink)
Deconstruction is often depicted as a method of critical analysis aimed at exposing unquestioned metaphysical assumptions and internal contradictions in philosophical and literary language. Starting from Derrida's contention that deconstruction is not a method and cannot be transformed into one, I make a case for a different attitude towards deconstruction, to which I refer as 'witnessing'. I argue that what needs to be witnessed is the occurrence of deconstruction and, more specifically, the occurrence of metaphysics-in-deconstruction. The point of witnessing metaphysics-in-deconstruction (...) is affirmative: it is an affirmation of what cannot be conceived in terms of the system and yet makes this system possible. To the extent to which education is concerned with the 'coming into presence' of new beginners and new beginnings, it shares an interest with deconstruction. Through a discussion of the role of communication in education I indicate how we might witness the occurrence of deconstruction in education. Through this we may be able to identify openings that can become potential entrances for the coming into presence of new beginnings and new beginners. Such an engagement with Derrida's work is more than the application of 'his' philosophy to the 'field' of education and therefore also has implications for how we think of the very idea of philosophy of education. (shrink)
Relativism has usually been presented as linked to the limits of translation and understanding. The Principle of Charity was developed to decide the reference of words or the best translation of a sentence. However, the principle has been defined in, at least, two different ways: a naturalistic one, as a pragmatic maxim that guides the interpreter generally; or a transcendental one, as an a priori, necessary condition for someone to be understood. In this paper I will focus on the latter (...) approach, taking Donald Davidson's arguments and his transcendental interpretation of the Principle of Charity as a representative case. Although different versions of the principle can be found in Davidson's writings, and some of them would seem flexible enough to give an account of how interpreter and speaker have different beliefs, all of these versions put understanding and intelligibility at risk. The reason is that the Principle of Charity has a wide scope: to conceive a person as rational, as having beliefs and desires, or as saying something, we have to interpret his/her utterances as revealing a set of beliefs consistent and true, and that maxim is applied to the whole system of sentences. So charity is necessary, we cannot choose it and if we spell out the Principle of Charity in sociological or psychological terms, that is, in empirical terms, we are changing the subject. The transcendental character of the principle has received criticism from various authors who understand it in a naturalistic way. I will conclude that an empirical description of how we use the Principle of Charity when we interpret a speaker's utterance would show the psychological and sociological relevance of relativism. (shrink)
This article considers possible future directions of philosophy, based around the experience of the author as editor of the European Journal of Philosophy for about a decade. After some discussion of the original impetus for the journal, and of how the philosophy scene has changed since it was founded in 1993, the article focuses particularly on the themes of transcendentalism and naturalism as likely to shape the philosophical debates of the future, as they have done in the past.
John Henry Newman has rightly been hailed as a giant in the Catholic intellectual tradition. His contributions to theology, literature, and education have been studied at length; however, his contribution to philosophy has not received appropriate attention. This essay 1) explores Newman’s unique philosophical insights in terms of the phenomenological tradition of Edmund Husserl; 2) analyzes the transcendental approach of certain British scientists—notably Ronald Knox and Charles Darwin; and 3) discusses how Newman might be considered a phenomenologist.
The main purpose of this paper is to show that Kant’s transcendental philosophy is tacitly laden with the structures of modern modal thought. More exactly, the surprising parallelism which seems to exist between Kant’s manner of defining necessity (and, on this basis, nomicity) and the modern approaches of the same concepts in the frame of “possible worlds philosophy” is stressed. A new interpretation of the Categorical Imperative is also offered on this basis.
A critical re-examination of the history of the concepts of space (including spacetime of general relativity and relativistic quantum field theory) reveals a basic ontological elusiveness of spatial extension, while, at the same time, highlighting the fact that its epistemic primacy seems to be unavoidably imposed on us (as stated by A.Einstein “giving up the extensional continuum … is like to breathe in airless space”). On the other hand, Planck’s discovery of the atomization of action leads to the fundamental recognition (...) of an ontology of non-spatial, abstract entities (Quine) for the quantum level of reality (QT), as distinguished from the necessarily spatio-temporal, experimental revelations (measurements). The elementary quantum act (measured by Planck’s constant) has neither duration nor extension, and any genuinely quantum process literally does not belong in the Raum and time of our experience. As Heisenberg stresses: “Während also die klassische Physik ein objectives Geschehen in Raum and Zeit zum Gegenstand hat, für dessen Existenz seine Beobachtung völlig irrelevant war, behandelt die Quantentheorie Vorgänge, die sozusagen nur in den Momenten der Beobachtung als raumzeitliche Phänomene aufleuchten, und über die in der zwischenzeit anschaulische physikalische Aussagen sinloss sind”. An admittedly speculative, hazardous conjecture is then advanced concerning the relation of such quantum ontology with the role of the pre-phenomenal continuum (Husserl) in the perception of macroscopically distinguishable objects in the Raum and time of our experience. Although rather venturesome, it brings together important philosophical issues. Coherently with recent general results in works on the foundations of QT, it is assumed that the linearity of quantum dynamical evolution does not apply to the central nervous system of living beings at a certain level of the evolutionary ramification and at the pre-conscious stage of subjectivity. Accordingly, corresponding to the onset of a non-linear dynamic evolution, a ‘primary spatial’ reduction is ‘continually’ taking place, thereby constituting the neural precondition for the experience of distinguishable macroscopic objects in the continuous spatial extension. While preventing the theoretically possible quantum superpositions of macroscopic objects from being perceivable by living beings, the ‘primary reduction’ has no effect on the standard processes concerning quantum level entities involved in laboratory man-made experiments. In this connection, an experimental check which might falsify the conjecture is briefly discussed. The approach suggested here, if sound, leads to a naturalization of that part of Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetics than can survive the Euclidean catastrophe. According to such naturalized transcendentalism, “space can well be transcendental without the axioms being so”, in agreement with a well-known statement by Boltzman. Finally, as far as QT is concerned, the conjecture entails that a scheme for quantum measurement of the von Neumann type cannot even ‘leave the ground’, vindicating Bohr’s viewpoint. A quantum theory of measurement, in a proper sense, turns out to be unnecessary and in fact impossible. (shrink)