This essay is an exploration of the relationship between Agamben’s 1995 text, Homo Sacer, and Derrida’s 1992 “Force of Law” essay. Agamben attempts to show that the camp, as the topological space of the state of exception, has become the biopolitical paradigm for modernity. He draws this conclusion on the basis of a distinction, which he finds in an essay by Walter Benjamin, between categories of life, with the “pro-tagonist” of the work being what he calls homo sacer, orbare life—life (...) that is stripped of its humanity and value. Five years earlier, in 1990, Derrida had given a lecture at UCLA (later published in its entirety as “The Force of Law”) in which he had analyzed the very same essay by Benjamin and had highlighted the distinction between “base life” and “just life.” The implications of his analysis show a discomforting prox-imity between Benjaminian messianism and the Nazi “final solution,” a conclusion that Agamben dismisses entirely. Inthis paper, however, I demonstrate that the structures of the two works are quite similar in many important ways. I argue that, though the broad scope of Agamben’s work is original in many respects, and I would not wish to reduce Agamben’s work to Derridean repetitions, he nevertheless utilizes much more of Derrida’s analysis, specifically with respect to the categori-zation of life, than he would like the reader to believe. (shrink)
Benedict de Spinoza, C.S. Peirce, and Gilles Deleuze delineate a trajectory through the history of ideas in the dialogue about the potentials and limitations of panpsychism, the view that world is fundamentally made up of mind. As a parallel trajectory to the panpsychism debate in contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive psychology, this approach can inform and enrich the discussion of the role and scope of mind in the natural world. The philosophies of mind developed by Deleuze and Peirce are (...) Spinozistic in their natural monism but move beyond Spinoza to explain mind as a part of the natural world in semiotic terms. (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)
Mark Vernon links the resources of the philosophical tradition with numerous illustrations from modern culture to ask what friendship is and how it relates to sex, work, politics and spirituality. Unusually, he argues that Plato and Nietzsche, as much as Aristotle and Aelred, should be put center stage. Their penetrating and occasionally tough insights are invaluable if friendship is to be a full, not merely sentimental, way of life for today.
Why should members of societies engaging in humanitarian intervention support the costs of that project? It is sometimes argued that only a theory of natural duty can require their support and that contractualist theories fail because they are exclusionary. This article argues that, on the contrary, natural duty is inadequate as a basis and that contractualism provides a basis for placing support for (justified) interventions among the duties of citizenship. The duty to support intervention is not, therefore, a competitor (of (...) indeterminate weight) to our duties to compatriots, since it rests on the same basis. That is because exclusive citizenship can be justified only if social contracts can be iterated elsewhere and successful societies therefore owe assistance to societies that are immobilized by state abuse or state failure. (shrink)
By revisiting Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, I mount a Hegelian defense of same-sex marriage rights. I first argue that Hegel’s account of theIdea of freedom articulates both the necessity of popular shifts in the determinations of the institutions of right, as well as the duty to struggle to progressively actualize freedom through them. I then contend that Hegel, by grounding marriage in free consent, clears the path for expanding this ethical institution to include all monogamous couples. Lastly, I close by (...) sketching the specifically Hegelian reasons we ought to actively struggle to expand the institution of marriage. (shrink)
My goal in this essay is to demonstrate the continuing relevance of Hegel’s theory of right for contemporary emancipatory politics. Specifically, my contention is that Hegel’s Philosophy of Right can and should be read as defending the possibility of principled, decisive side-taking in political struggles. By revisiting Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, I seek to demonstrate four interconnected theses: that the will’s freedom is both a) the fundamental principle upon which genuinely political change can be grounded, and b) essentially external to, (...) or subtractable from, any and all social alignments; but is nonetheless c) necessarily actualized in specifically political institutions, and finally d) only truly actualized through emancipatory reforms of such institutions. In combination, these four theses demonstrate that politics is the principled, decisive and emancipatory reform of existent political institutions through historically determined political movements. Having established these basic theses, I will examine how the philosophy and politics of ‘prescriptive reform’ operates in practice. (shrink)
L’Expérience intérieure de Georges Bataille formule une ontologie de l’hétérogénéité opposée à l’homogénéité du système de Hegel. Bataille définit la pensée de Hegel comme la commensurabilité d’éléments disparates au sein d’un projet unifié, et c’est à cette homogénéité dirigée par un but qu’il oppose les éléments hétérogènes du non-savoir et du sacrifice, lesquels échappent à toute commensurabilité. Cet article se livre à une évaluation critique de l’œuvre de Bataille, tant comme ontologie viable que comme critique valide de Hegel, et fait (...) valoir qu’elle échoue sur ces deux plans. L’échec de Bataille tient à son refus de saisir l’essence de la pensée hégélienne: être hétérogène, cela signifie être opposé à soi. (shrink)
This is a contribution to construction of a research roadmap for future cognitive systems, including intelligent robots, in the context of the euCognition network, and UKCRC Grand Challenge 5: Architecture of Brain and Mind. -/- A meeting on the euCognition roadmap project was held at Munich Airport on 11th Jan 2007. This document was in part a response to discussions at that meeting. An explanation of why specifying requirements is a hard problem, and why it needs to be done, along (...) with some suggestions for making progress, can be found in this presentation: http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cosy/papers/#pr0701 "What's a Research Roadmap For? Why do we need one? How can we produce one?" Working on that presentation made me realise that certain deceptively familiar words and phrases frequently used in this context (e.g. "robust". "flexible", "autonomous") appear not to need explanation because everyone understands them, whereas in fact they have obscure semantics that needs to be elucidated. Only then can we understand what the implications are for research targets. In particular, they need explanation and analysis if they are to be used to specify requirements and research goals, especially for publicly funded projects. -/- First draft analyses are presented here. In the long term I would like to expand and clarify those analyses, and to provide many different examples to illustrate the points made. This will probably have to be a collaborative research activity. (shrink)
Why eschew luxury? The traditional arguments for frugality typically focus on what is good for the individual. Some see frugality as morally valuable because it tends to be associated with other virtues such as wisdom, honesty, or sincerity. Some find the natural, uncluttered, focused character of a simple lifestyle aesthetically appealing. The most common argument, though, is that simple living is the surest route – some even say the only route – to happiness.
Have evolution, science and the trappings of the modern world killed off God irrevocably? And what do we lose if we choose not to believe in him? From Newton and Descartes to Darwin and the discovery of the genome, religion has been pushed back further and further while science has gained ground. But what fills the void that religion leaves behind? This book is an attempt to look at these questions and to suggest a third way between the easy consolations (...) of religion and the persuasive force of science that the everyday modern reader can engage with. (shrink)
While not an explicit claim of Hegel’s, this paper aims to use his analysis of ‘Conscience’ in the Phenomenology of Spirit to demonstrate that the conflict betweendifferent moral judgments is morally necessary. That is, rather than being the unfortunate result of ‘hard’ cases, I argue that moral conflict is a necessary condition for the possibility of duty. Grasping the moral ground of moral conflict, I contend, allows us to understand why such conflicts arise, how and why they become entrenched into (...) ‘moral issues’ and what our duties are in such cases. Thus, I aim to articulate both the moral necessity and dutiful resolution of seemingly intractable moral conflicts. (shrink)
This paper presents the origin, development and trajectory of our modes of experiencing beings as presented in Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy. It begins by detailing the historical development of our subjective experience of beings leading up to its current arrangement within the modern, technological worldview, and then proceeds to grapple with Heidegger’s recommended pathway out of our technological mode of experience into a more primordial one. I close with some critical reflections on Heidegger’s leap out of technological ‘lived-experience’ (Erleben) into (...) a more authentic ‘experience’(Erfahren) of beings. (shrink)
The multiverse is a hypothesis for which there is no evidence, and perhaps can never be any evidence. It is only since 1998 that it has leapt off the blackboards of a few physicists doing esoteric mathematics and lodged itself in the popular imagination. As is the way with popular science, it is easy to move from speculating that there might have been more than one big bang to proceeding on the basis that there has been more than one big (...) bang. (shrink)
In this paper, through Hegel’s account of the predicative judgment in the Greater Logic, I develop an immanent, presuppositionless deduction ofgrammatical form from the very idea of language in general. In other words, I argue that Hegel’s account of the judgment can be read as a demonstrationof a truly universal (rather than empirically “common” or “general”) grammar through which any and all determinate thought must be expressed. In so doing, I seek to resolve the problem that linguistic contingency poses for (...) systematic philosophy by deducing a necessary linguistic form from a contingent linguistic content. (shrink)
London Medical Group was founded in 1963. It was student-led, spawned Medical Groups in almost every UK medical school and met a need for non-partisan debate and dialogue in medical ethics. It became a victim of its own success as the Institute of Medical Ethics published the Pond Report in 1987, which recommended that medical ethics be incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum. Medical schools began to teach medical ethics and the General Medical Council demanded this in 1993's Tomorrow's Doctors. The (...) Institute of Medical Ethics had grown out of the LMG. After running a number of successful conferences for medical ethics teachers, the Institute of Medical Ethics is recapturing the natural innovative tendencies of students and junior doctors that the LMG and related Medical Groups had fostered. It is now launching itself as a membership organisation: the recommendations of the Francis report and responses to it have emphasised the need to support individuals with the ability, freedom and confidence to question the status quo from a reasoned ethical basis. The Institute of Medical Ethics aims to develop a robust medical ethics community ready to face the challenges of 21st Century healthcare. (shrink)
Now that she has retired from public life, philosophers can begin to understand the cultural phenomenon that was Cindy Sheehan, the generally recognized (and self-professed) “‘Face’ of the American anti-war movement.”1 Why did the Iraq War produce domestic resistance led by someone whose moral credentials consisted solely in being a mother? Why was the cartoon-cowboy masculinity of the war president opposed by the equally hyperbolic familial femininity of the “eternally grieving mother of Casey Sheehan”? In what follows, I seek to (...) comprehend the emergence of both the Iraq War and the “face” of its opposition through the most notorious account.. (shrink)
Against associative obligations -- Particularizing obligation : the normative role of risk -- The social waiver -- Compatriot preference and the iteration proviso -- Humanitarian intervention and the case for natural duty -- Associative risk and international crime -- A global harm principle? -- Citizens in the world.
Open peer commentary on the article “Investigating Extended Embodiment Using a Computational Model and Human Experimentation” by Yuki Sato, Hiroyuki Iizuka & Takashi Ikegami. Upshot: The target article’s findings on the focus of attention in extending an agent’s body schema are consistent with those in developmental psychology and neuroscience on goal-directed action. The consequences of these findings are that embodiment can be extended in a variety of ways, not all of which require direct physical manipulation.