Two competing views in sparse ontology are monism and pluralism. In Trogdon 2009 I propose an account of intrinsicality that I argue is both compatible with monism and pluralism and independently plausible. Skiles 2009 argues that my account fails on both fronts. In this note I respond to his two objections.
The primary goal of this chapter is to set out and clarify some of the central issues and disputes concerning grounding (alternatively, the in virtue of relation, priority, metaphysical explanation, and so on). I begin by introducing a taxonomy of positions that proceeds upon a cluster of related issues including, for example, whether our talk of grounding in philosophical discourse is univocal. Then I consider the logical form of grounding statements as well as the structural principles that govern grounding. Next, (...) I take up the matter of how the notions of grounding, modality, and reduction interact. I close with a brief discussion of the grounds for true grounding claims. (shrink)
Central to the programme of sparse ontology is a hierarchical view of reality; the basic entities form the sparse structure of being, while the derivative entities form the abundant superstructure. Priority pluralism and priority monism are both theses of sparse ontology. Roughly speaking, the priority pluralist claims that wholes and their properties ontologically depend on parts and their properties, while the priority monist claims that it goes the other way around. In this paper I focus on Ted Sider's recent argument (...) that priority monism is probably false because it is incompatible with our best account of intrinsicality. In response I propose an account of intrinsicality that is compatible with both priority monism and priority pluralism. I argue that the account, in addition to having the virtue of being neutral between priority monism and priority pluralism, is independently plausible. (shrink)
Materialism, as traditionally conceived, has a contingent side and a necessary side. The necessity of materialism is reflected by the metaphysics of realization, while its contingency is a matter of accepting the possibility of Cartesian worlds, worlds in which our minds are roughly as Descartes describes them. In this paper we argue that the necessity and the contingency of materialism are in conflict. In particular, we claim that if mental properties are realized by physical properties in the actual world, Cartesian (...) worlds are impossible. (shrink)
Rae Langton and David Lewis have proposed an account of "intrinsic property" that makes use of two notions: being independent of accompaniment and being natural. We find the appeal to the first of these promising; the second notion, however, we find mystifying. In this paper we argue that the appeal to naturalness is not acceptable and offer an alternative definition of intrinsicality. The alternative definition makes crucial use of a notion commonly used by philosophers, namely, the notion of one property (...) being had in virtue of another property. We defend our account against three arguments for thinking that this "in virtue of" notion is unacceptable in this context. We also take a look at a variety of cases in which the definition might be applied and defend it against potential counterexamples. The upshot, we think, is a modest but adequate account of what we understand by "intrinsic property.". (shrink)
A major stumbling block for non-reductive physicalism is Kim’s disjunctive property objection. In this paper I bring certain issues in sparse ontology to bear on the objection, in particular the theses of priority monism and priority pluralism. Priority pluralism (or something close to it, anyway) is a common ontological background assumption, so in the first part of the paper I consider whether the disjunctive property objection applies with equal force to non-reductive physicalism on the assumption that priority monism is instead (...) true. I ultimately conclude that non-reductive physicalism still faces a comparable problem. In the second part, I argue, surprisingly enough, that what I call ‘fine-grained reductionism’, a particular version of which Kim proposes as an alternative to non-reductive physicalism, may work better in the monist framework than the pluralist one. I conclude that issues in sparse ontology, therefore, are more relevant to the debate about physicalism than one may have thought. (shrink)
Recent interest in the nature of grounding is due in part to the idea that purely modal notions are too coarse-grained to capture what we have in mind when we say that one thing is grounded in another. Grounding not being purely modal in character, however, is compatible with it having modal consequences. Is grounding a necessary relation? In this article I argue that the answer is ‘yes’ in the sense that propositions corresponding to full grounds modally entail propositions corresponding (...) to what they ground. The argument proceeds upon two substantive principles: the first is that there is a broadly epistemic constraint on grounding, while the second links this constraint with Fine's Aristotelian notion of essence. Many think grounding is necessary in something like the sense specified above, but just why it's necessary is an issue that hasn't been carefully addressed. If my argument is successful, we now know why grounding is necessary. (shrink)
Stoljar’s book has three parts. In the first part, he discusses the “problem of experience”: though we have experiences, it isn’t clear that the experiential fits into the actual world, given that the actual world is fundamentally non-experiential. Stoljar focuses on what he views as one facet of the problem of experience, the “logical problem”, which consists of three jointly inconsistent claims: (T1) there are experiential truths; (T2) if there are experiential truths, every experiential truth is entailed by some non-experiential (...) truth; and (T3) if there are experiential truths, not every experiential truth is entailed by some non-experiential truth. The logical problem is a problem, according to Stoljar, because each of T1–T3 is prima facie plausible. In the second part, Stoljar sets out his solution to the logical problem, the “epistemic view”, and defends it against various objections. According to the epistemic view, (i) we’re ignorant of a special type of empirical experience-relevant non-experiential truth; (ii) were we to come to understand truths of this type, we would see that the modal arguments against physicalism (i.e. the zombie and knowledge arguments) fail; and (iii) given (i) and (ii), we should reject T3 in order to resolve the logical problem. In the third part Stoljar argues that alternative solutions to the logical problem either fail or collapse into the epistemic view. While this is certainly the most careful and extended defense of the epistemic view to date (a view, by the way, in various forms, with which many seem to find sympathy), the epistemic view as Stoljar develops it faces a formidable problem. The central problem.. (shrink)
Chapter 1 of Phenomenal Acquaintance is devoted to taking care of some preliminary issues. I begin by distinguishing those states of awareness in virtue of which we’re acquainted with the phenomenal characters of our experiences from those states of awareness some claim are at the very nature of experience. Then I reconcile the idea that experience is transparent with the claim that we can be acquainted with phenomenal character. In Chapter 2 I set up a dilemma that is the primary (...) focus of the dissertation. In the first part of this chapter I argue that phenomenal acquaintance has three key features, what I call its ‘directness’, ‘thickness’, and ‘infallibility’. In the second part I argue, however, that it’s really quite puzzling how thoughts about phenomenal character (or any thoughts, for that matter) could have them. In the next two chapters I consider how we might resolve the dilemma described above. I begin in Chapter 3 by considering an account of phenomenal acquaintance inspired by Bertrand Russell’s discussion of acquaintance. The general idea here is to excise mental representation from phenomenal acquaintance, and I ultimately reject the proposal. Chapter 4 is the core chapter of Phenomenal Acquaintance. In it I propose an account of phenomenal acquaintance that doesn’t excise mental representation. My account is comprised of three theses. First, token experiences are complex and have instances of phenomenal properties as components. Second, instances of phenomenal properties are mental representations, and they represent themselves. Third, the attention relevant to phenomenal acquaintance is underwritten by self-representation. I argue that my account explains how phenomenal acquaintance is direct, thick, and infallible, thereby resolving our dilemma. I argue in Chapter 5 that my account of phenomenal acquaintance explains why there is an explanatory gap between the phenomenal and non-phenomenal truths. Accordingly, I conclude that the explanatory gap doesn’t pose a problem for physicalism. Here I implement what has come to be called the ‘phenomenal concept strategy’ for responding to the challenge posed by the explanatory gap. (shrink)
Recent interest in the nature of grounding is due in part to the idea that purely modal notions are too coarse-grained to capture what we have in mind when we say that one thing is grounded in another. Grounding not being purely modal in character, however, is compatible with it having modal consequences. Is grounding a necessary relation? In this paper I argue that the answer is ‘yes’ in the sense that propositions corresponding to full grounds modally entail propositions corresponding (...) to what they ground. The argument proceeds upon two substantive principles: the first is that there is a broadly epistemic constraint on grounding, while the second links this constraint with Fine’s Aristotelian notion of essence. Many think grounding is necessary in something like the sense specified above, but just why it’s necessary is an issue that hasn’t been carefully addressed. If my argument is successful, we now know why grounding is necessary. (shrink)
Philosophical logicians proposing theories of rational belief revision have had little to say about whether their proposals assist or impede the agent's ability to reliably arrive at the truth as his beliefs change through time. On the other hand, reliability is the central concern of formal learning theory. In this paper we investigate the belief revision theory of Alchourron, Gardenfors and Makinson from a learning theoretic point of view.
We argue that uncomputability and classical scepticism are both re ections of inductive underdetermination, so that Church's thesis and Hume's problem ought to receive equal emphasis in a balanced approach to the philosophy of induction. As an illustration of such an approach, we investigate how uncomputable the predictions of a hypothesis can be if the hypothesis is to be reliably investigated by a computable scienti c method.
Through discussion of phenomenological and analytic traditions such as the philosophical problems of perceptual content, the content of demonstrative thoughts and the unity of proposition, Kelly explains that these concepts are not as alien to one another as most people believe.
Although philosophers have characteristically taken the view that art is a vehicle of some universal meaning or truth, art historians emphasize the concrete, historical location of the individual work of art. Is aesthetics capable of sustaining these two approaches? Or, as Michael Kelly argues: Is art actually determined by its historical particularity? His book covers the views of four philosophers--Heidegger, Adorno, Derrida, and Danto--ultimately iconoclasts, despite their significant philosophical engagement with the arts.
Ockham's razor is the principle that, all other things being equal, scientists ought to prefer simpler theories. In recent years, philosophers have argued that simpler theories make better predictions, possess theoretical virtues like explanatory power, and have other pragmatic virtues like computational tractability. However, such arguments fail to explain how and why a preference for simplicity can help one find true theories in scientific inquiry, unless one already assumes that the truth is simple. One new solution to that problem is (...) the Ockham efficiency theorem (Kelly 2002, Minds Mach 14: 485-505, 2004, Philos Sci 74:561-573, 2007a, b, Theor Comp Sci 383:270-289, c, d; Kelly and Glymour 2004), which states that scientists who heed Ockham's razor retract their opinions less often and sooner than do their non-Ockham competitors. The theorem neglects, however, to consider competitors following random ("mixed") strategies and in many applications random strategies are known to achieve better worst-case loss than deterministic strategies. In this paper, we describe two ways to extend the result to a very general class of random, empirical strategies. The first extension concerns expected retractions, retraction times, and errors and the second extension concerns retractions in chance, times of retractions in chance, and chances of errors. (shrink)
Fitz-Herbert, John; Kelly, Gerard The 'pastoral care of the sick' is one of the important responses to the gospel that occurs in almost every parish. Faithful Sunday parishioners visit other parishioners week-in and week-out. They put into deed the concern of the believing community for the one who is unable to gather with the Sunday community for eucharist. They bring holy communion as well as friendship and their pastoral concern to the person being visited. Sometimes it happens that this (...) may be the only visitor the one who is housebound welcomes into their home during the week. A truly terrifying thought in this age that proclaims to value connectedness and being linked into one or more networks! (shrink)
Drawing extensively on Bentham's unpublished civil and distributive law writings, classical and recent Bentham scholarship, and contemporary work in moral and political philosophy, Kelly here presents the first full-length exposition and sympathetic defense of Bentham's unique utilitarian theory of justice. Kelly shows how Bentham developed a moderate welfare-state liberal theory of justice with egalitarian leanings, the aim of which was to secure the material and political conditions of each citizen's pursuit of the good life in cooperation with each (...) other. A striking and original addition to the growing literature on Bentham's legal and political thought, this incisive study also makes a valuable contribution to contemporary political philosophy. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to develop and defend a novel answer to a question that has recently generated a considerable amount of controversy. The question concerns the normative significance of peer disagreement. Suppose that you and I have been exposed to the same evidence and arguments that bear on some proposition: there is no relevant consideration which is available to you but not to me, or vice versa. For the sake of concreteness, we might picture.
Looking back on it, it seems almost incredible that so many equally educated, equally sincere compatriots and contemporaries, all drawing from the same limited stock of evidence, should have reached so many totally different conclusions---and always with complete certainty.
Suppose that you and I disagree about some non-straightforward matter of fact (say, about whether capital punishment tends to have a deterrent effect on crime). Psychologists have demonstrated the following striking phenomenon: if you and I are subsequently exposed to a mixed body of evidence that bears on the question, doing so tends to increase the extent of our initial disagreement. That is, in response to exactly the same evidence, each of us grows increasingly confident of his or her original (...) view; we thus become increasingly polarized as our common evidence increases. I consider several alternative models of how people reason about newly-acquired evidence which seems to disconfirm their prior beliefs. I then explore the normative implications of these models for the phenomenon in question. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore the relationship between epistemic rationality and instrumental rationality, and I attempt to delineate their respective roles in typical instances of theoretical reasoning. My primary concern is with the instrumentalist conception of epistemic rationality: the view that epistemic rationality is simply a species of instrumental rationality, viz. instrumental rationality in the service of one's cognitive or epistemic goals. After sketching the relevance of the instrumentalist conception to debates over naturalism and 'the ethics of belief', I argue (...) that, despite enjoying considerable popularity among both epistemologists and philosophers of science, it is ultimately indefensible. Having thus argued for the distinctness of epistemic and instrumental rationality, I attempt to clarify the role played by each in typical instances of theoretical reasoning. I suggest that being theoretically rational--that is, being proficient with respect to theoretical reasoning--is best construed as a hybrid virtue, inasmuch as it involves manifesting sensitivity to two very different kinds of reasons. (shrink)
Suppose that one is at least a minimal realist about a given domain, in that one thinks that that domain contains truths that are not in any interesting sense of our own making. Given such an understanding, what can be said for and against the method of reflective equilibrium as a procedure for investigating the domain? One fact that lends this question some interest is that many philosophers do combine commitments to minimal realism and a reflective equilibrium methodology. Here, for (...) example, is David Lewis on philosophy: Our “intuitions” are simply opinions: our philosophical theories are the same. Some are commonsensical, some are sophisticated; some are particular; some general; some are more firmly held, some less. But they are all opinions, and a reasonable goal for a philosopher is to bring them into equilibrium. Our common task it to find out what equilibria there are that can withstand examination, but it remains for each of us to come to rest at one or another of them… Once the menu of well-worked out theories is before us, philosophy is a matter of opinion. Is that to say that there is no truth to be had? Or that the truth is of our own making, and different ones of us can make it differently? Not at all! If you say flatly that there is no god, and I say that there are countless gods but none of them are our worldmates, then it may be that neither of us is making any mistake of method. We may each be bringing our opinions to equilibrium in the most careful possible way, taking account of all the arguments, distinctions, and counterexamples. But one of us, at least, is making a mistake of fact. Which one is wrong depends on what there is (1983: x-xi). In addition to philosophy in general, the method of reflective equilibrium has also been endorsed as the appropriate procedure for investigating various other subject.. (shrink)
The passage above comes from the opening pages of Merleau-Ponty’s essay on Edmund Husserl. It proposes a risky interpretive principle. The main feature of this principle is that the seminal aspects of a thinker’s work are so close to him that he is incapable of articulating them himself. Nevertheless, these aspects pervade the work, give it its style, its sense and its direction, and therefore belong to it essentially. As Martin Heidegger writes, in a passage quoted by Merleau-Ponty:
The (...) greater the work of a thinker – which in no way coincides with the breadth and number of writings – the richer is what is un-thought in this work, which means, that which emerges in and through this work as having not yet been thought.2
The goal of Merleau-Ponty’s essay, he says, is “to evoke this un-thought-of element in Husserl’s thought”.3. (shrink)
There you are at the opera house. The soprano has just hit her high note – a glassshattering high C that fills the hall – and she holds it. She holds it. She holds it. She holds it. She holds it. She holds the note for such a long time that after a while a funny thing happens: you no longer seem only to hear it, the note as it is currently sounding, that glass-shattering high C that is loud and (...) high and pure. In addition, you also seem to hear something more. It is difficult to express precisely what this extra feature is. One is tempted to say, however, that the note now sounds like it has been going on for a very long time. Perhaps it even sounds like a note that has been going on for too long. In any event, what you hear no longer seems to be limited to the pitch, timbre, loudness, and other strictly audible qualities of the note. You seem in addition to experience, even to hear, something about its temporal extent. (shrink)
I argue that the recent debate about the role disgust deserves in ethical thought has been impoverished by an inadequate understanding of the emotion itself. After considering Kass and Nussbaum’s respective positions in that debate, and the implausible views of the nature of disgust on which their arguments rest, I describe my own view, which makes sense of the wealth of recent, often puzzling, empirical work done on the emotion. This view sees disgust as being primarily responsible for protecting against (...) toxins and infectious diseases, but as also having been recruited to play auxiliary roles in the cognition of social norms and group boundaries. I argue that this view provides new and more plausible foundations for skepticism about the idea that disgust deserves some kind of special epistemic credit or moral authority, that the emotion is a trustworthy guide to justifiable moral judgments, or that there is any deep wisdom in repugnance. (shrink)
I begin by examining a recent debate between John McDowell and Christopher Peacocke over whether the content of perceptual experience is non-conceptual. Although I am sympathetic to Peacocke’s claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual, I suggest a number of ways in which his arguments fail to make that case. This failure stems from an over-emphasis on the “fine-grainedness” of perceptual content – a feature that is relatively unimportant to its non-conceptual structure. I go on to describe two other features of (...) perceptual experience that are more likely to be relevant to the claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual. These features are 1) the dependence of a perceived object on the perceptual context in which it is perceived and 2) the dependence of a perceived property on the object it is perceived to be a property of. (shrink)
I begin by examining a recent debate between John McDowell and Christopher Peacocke over whether the content of perceptual experience is non-conceptual. Although I am sympathetic to Peacocke's claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual, I suggest a number of ways in which his arguments fail to make that case. This failure stems from an over-emphasis on the "fine-grainedness" of perceptual content - a feature that is relatively unimportant to its non-conceptual structure. I go on to describe two other features of (...) perceptual experience that are more likely to be relevant to the claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual. These features are 1) the dependence of a perceived object on the perceptual context in which it is perceived and 2) the dependence of a perceived property on the object it is perceived to be a property of. (shrink)
1. The philosophical problem of what we see My topic revolves around what is apparently a very basic question. Stripped of all additions and in its leanest, most economical form, this is the question: "What do we see?" But in this most basic form the question admits of at least three different interpretations. In the first place, one might understand it to be an epistemological question, perhaps one with skeptical overtones. "What do we see?", on this reading, is short for (...) something like "What things in the world are we justified in believing we see, given the possibility of evil demon scenarios and all the other impedimenta to genuine sight that have become the working tools of epistemologists over the last 350 years?" I shall not be concerned with the question in this skeptical sense. I intend the parenthetical addition to the question, "What do we see (when we do)?", along with the bald-faced assumption that the condition so specified at least sometimes obtains, to rule out discussion along these sorts of epistemological lines, at least for the purposes of this paper. Whether or not this condition in fact obtains, of course, will not effect the position I’m defending. (shrink)
phenomenology and logical analysis. John Searle and Bert Dreyfus are for me two of the paradigm figures of contemporary philosophy, so I am extremely proud to have been offered the opportunity to engage with their work. The editors of The Harvard Review of Philosophy, it seems to me, have shown a keen sense of what is deep and important in our discipline by publishing extended interviews with these two influential thinkers. At the same time, writing this article meant entering into (...) a debate between Searle and Dreyfus about the priority of their respective philosophical methodologies, and this, I am afraid, is at best a no-win situation. My strategy, therefore, has been to try to engage as sympathetically as possible with the programs of each philosopher, and to draw from their work lessons that seem to me important for any philosophical account of intentionality and social reality. I have not shied away from criticism; indeed the whole paper is an extended series of criticisms of the work of both philosophers. But I hope they will recognize this for what it is: an engagement with the work of each that is based on the deepest respect and admiration. Before I jump into the fray, I should mention that I owe a personal debt of gratitude to Searle and Dreyfus as well. They were not only my two advisors in graduate school, but were the two main reasons I entered philosophy. Having become dissatisfied with the formal worlds of mathematics and computer science, their respective critiques of artificial intelligence and cognitivism showed me the rich possibilities of philosophy and struck me as a reason to become a philosopher. It is a difficult discipline, sometimes unforgiving; but I am glad I followed them into it. (shrink)
Both cognitive science and phenomenology accept the primacy of the organism-environment system and recognize that cognition should be understood in terms of an embodied agent situated in its environment. How embodiment is seen to shape our world, however, is fundamentally different in these two disciplines. Embodiment, as understood in cognitive science, reduces to a discussion of the consequences of having a body like ours interacting with our environment and the relationship is one of contingent causality. Embodiment, as understood phenomenologically, represents (...) the condition of intelligibility of certain terms in our experience and, as such, refers to one aspect of that background which presupposes our understanding of the world. The goals and approach to modeling an embodied agent in its environment are also fundamentally different dependent on which relationship is addressed. These differences are highlighted and are used to support our phenomenologically based approach to organism-environment interaction and its relationship to brain function. (shrink)
Homer has a unique understanding of the body. On his view the body is that by means of which we are subject to moods, and moods are what attune us to our situation. Being attuned to a situation, in turn, opens us to the various ways things and people can be engaging. We agree with Homer that this receptivity is evident throughout our entire existence. It characterizes everything from our basic bodily skills for coping with objects and people to our (...) tendency to be immersed in and guided by moods such as the erotic or the agonistic – whole ways for a situation to matter. (shrink)
The French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty claims that there are two distinct ways in which we can understand the place of an object when we are visually apprehending it. The first involves an intentional relation to the object that is essentially cognitive or can serve as the input to cognitive processes; the second irreducibly involves a bodily set or preparation to deal with the object. Because of its essential bodily component, Merleau-Ponty calls this second kind of understanding ‘motor intentional’. In this (...) paper I consider some phenomenological, conceptual, and cognitive neuro-scientific results that help to elucidate and defend the distinction between intentional and motor intentional activity. I go on to argue that motor intentional activity has a logical structure that is essentially distinct from that of the more canonical kinds of intentional states. In particular, the characteristic logical distinction between the content and the attitude of an intentional state does not carry over to the motor intentional case. (shrink)
I am very much in sympathy with the overall approach of John Campbell’s paper, “Reference as Attention”. My sympathy extends to a variety of its features. I think he is right to suppose, for instance, that neuropsychological cases provide important clues about how we should treat some traditional philosophical problems concerning perception and reference. I also think he is right to suppose that there are subtle but important relations between the phenomena of perception, action, consciousness, attention, and reference. I even (...) think that there is probably something importantly right about the main claim of the paper. I take this to be the claim that there is a tight connection – of some sort at any rate – between our capacity to refer demonstratively to perceptually presented objects and our capacity to attend to those objects in our conscious awareness of them. What precisely this connection consists in, however, remains a mystery to me. My goal in these comments is to clarify this result. I will begin, in section 2, with a fairly general statement of the problem I take Campbell to have set himself. Following this, in section 3, I will focus more particularly on what kind of relation Campbell takes to exist, or does exist, or perhaps could exist between attention and demonstrative reference. I examine four options, the first three of which seem to admit of clear counterexamples, and the fourth of which is too weak to be of any real interest. (shrink)
We argue that heterophenomenology both over- and under-populates the intentional realm. For example, when one is involved in coping, one’s mind does not contain beliefs. Since the heterophenomenologist interprets all intentional commitment as belief, he necessarily overgenerates the belief contents of the mind. Since beliefs cannot capture the normative aspect of coping and perceiving, any method, such as heterophenomenology, that allows for only beliefs is guaranteed not only to overgenerate beliefs but also to undergenerate other kinds of intentional phenomena.
In this paper, I explore the question of whether the expected consequences of holding a belief can affect the rationality of doing so. Special attention is given to various ways in which one might attempt to exert some measure of control over what one believes and the normative status of the beliefs that result from the successful execution of such projects. I argue that the lessons which emerge from thinking about the case ofbelief have important implications for the way we (...) should think about the rationality of a number of other propositional attitudes,such as regret, desire, and fear. Finally,I suggest that a lack of clarity with respect to the relevant issues has given rise to a number of rather serious philosophical mistakes. (shrink)
We first describe recent empirical research on racial cognition, particularly work on implicit racial biases that suggests they are widespread, that they can coexist with explicitly avowed anti-racist and tolerant attitudes, and that they influence behavior in a variety of subtle but troubling ways. We then consider a cluster of questions that the existence and character of implicit racial biases raise for moral theory. First, is it morally condemnable to harbor an implicit racial bias? Second, ought each of us to (...) suspect ourselves of racial bias, and therefore correct for it in ordinary activity, such as grading student papers? (shrink)
We discuss the implications of the findings reported in the target article for moral theory, and argue that they represent a clear and genuine case of fundamental moral disagreement. As such, the findings support a moderate form of moral anti-realism – the position that, for some moral issues, there is no fact of the matter about what is right and wrong.
Prominent defenders of the Enlightenment, like Jürgen Habermas, are beginning to recognize that the characterization of human beings in entirely rational and secular terms leaves out something important. Religion, they admit, plays an important role in human existence. But the return to a traditional monotheistic religion seems sociologically difficult after the death of God. We argue that Homeric polytheism retains a phenomenologically rich account of the sacred, and a similarly rich understanding of human existence in its midst. By opening ourselves (...) up to the moods of wonder and gratitude at the root of Homer's sense of the sacred, we can re-appropriate a polytheistic understanding of the sacred that allows us to recover and revive the intensity and meaningfulness that Homer's polytheists enjoyed. (shrink)