Philosophers typically see the issue of free will and determinism in terms of a debate between two standard positions. Incompatibilism holds that freedom and responsibility require causal and metaphysical independence from the impersonal forces of nature. According to compatibilism, people are free and responsible as long as their actions are governed by their desires. In Freedom Within Reason, Susan Wolf charts a path between these traditional positions: We are not free and responsible, she argues, for actions that are governed by (...) desires that we cannot help having. But the wish to form our own desires from nothing is both futile and arbitrary. Some of the forces beyond our control are friends to freedom rather than enemies of it: they endow us with faculties of reason, perception, and imagination, and provide us with the data by which we come to see and appreciate the world for what it is. The independence we want, Wolf argues, is not independence from the world, but independence from forces that prevent or preclude us from choosing how to live in light of a sufficient appreciation of the world. The freedom we want is a freedom within reason and the world. (shrink)
Wolf's study represents an incredible work of scholarship. A full and detailed account of three centuries of innovation, these two volumes provide a complete portrait of the foundations of modern science and philosophy. Tracing the origins and development of the achievements of the modern age, it is the story of the birth and growth of the modern mind. A thoroughly comprehensive sourcebook, it deals with all the important developments in science and many of the innovations in the social sciences, British (...) and Continental philosophy and psychology. Wolf's exposition is clear and accessible. As well as its comprehensive treatment of the practical innovations, it includes a wealth of biographical information to give a human aspect to the extensive canvas. A mine of useful information that will be repeatedly used for reference, it is also lavishishly illustrated throughout. These two volumes, published together for the first time, present in one invaluable source the history, methods and principles that form the foundations of science and philosophy. --covers both the major and minor figures in the history of science and philosophy --accessible to the general reader --provides all necessary information on the period immediately before and after the dates covered --both volumes are fully indexed --lavishly illustrated with over 660 portraits, diagrams of scientific apparatus and instruments, frontispieces, B&W photographs Abraham Wolf (1877-1948) other works include: The Oldest Biography of Spinoza (1927), The Philosophy of Nietzsche (1915). (shrink)
Clarifying the structure of self-awareness is a key point in the controversy between supporters of the “linguistic turn” and followers of the “philosophy of consciousness”, because as far as self-awareness is a linguistic phenomenon, language gets to the root of subjectivity. in the light of this fundamental issue, this paper examines the debate between Ernst Tugendhat and the Heidelberg School (dieter Henrich and Manfred Frank) on self-awareness. Tugendhat understands self-awareness as an essentially linguistic phenomenon, while the Heidelberg School finds (...) in Tugendhat’s theory the same problems that can be found in the classical reflexive theory of self-awareness. after considering both theories, this paper shows the unexpected symmetry between them and briefly points to two open issues an alternative approach should solve – namely, discriminating various levels in self-awareness and clarifying the relation between the pre-linguistic and the conceptual level. (shrink)
Ernst Mayr''s distinction between ultimate and proximate causes is justly considered a major contribution to philosophy of biology. But how did Mayr come to this philosophical distinction, and what role did it play in his earlier scientific work? I address these issues by dividing Mayr''s work into three careers or phases: 1) Mayr the naturalist/researcher, 2) Mayr the representative of and spokesman for evolutionary biology and systematics, and more recently 3) Mayr the historian and philosopher of biology. If we (...) want to understand the role of the proximate/ultimate distinction in Mayr''s more recent career as a philosopher and historian, then it helps to consider hisearlier use of the distinction, in the course of his research, and in his promotion of the professions of evolutionary biology and systematics. I believe that this approach would also shed light on some other important philosophical positions that Mayr has defended, including the distinction between essentialism: and population thinking. (shrink)
Hobbesian anthropology makes use of the wolf motif, a Roman and Republican one, by which Hobbes defines a state of nature as a state of war where men live in diffidence each other and where fear is law; the wolf is there a timid or unsociable animal, not a sanguinary or savage creature. But against ancient philosophers and moral writers - Aristotle, Cicero - who regard man as a rational being and who believe in a right reason, the modern philosopher (...) reuses this motif to set before men eyes that monarchy is the only way to protect citizens from gatherings of wolves in the city; reflections on civil wars conduct him to side with the sovereign power of one. Against upholders of regicide who compare the king to a tyrant, Hobbes inscribes the political motif of the wolf in his text by which beast - 'arrant wolf ' - is distinguishable from animal; he mainly rewrites it on Seneca's text, the Stoic who expounded a desperate vision of humankind. By focusing on a Graeco-Roman heritage, this study shows in three parts that the philosopher of De Cive and Leviathan is not really - not only - the man of a pessimistic view on mankind; it is a portrait of a Renaissance philosopher who never, exactly, wrote that 'man is a wolf to man'. (shrink)
Ernst Mayr''s scientific career continues strongly 70 years after he published his first scientific paper in 1923. He is primarily a naturalist and ornithologist which has influenced his basic approach in science and later in philosophy and history of science. Mayr studied at the Natural History Museum in Berlin with Professor E. Stresemann, a leader in the most progressive school of avian systematics of the time. The contracts gained through Stresemann were central to Mayr''s participation in a three year (...) expedition to New Guinea and The Solomons, and the offer of a position in the Department of Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History, beginning in 1931. At the AMNH, Mayr was able to blend the best of the academic traditions of Europe with those of North America in developing a unified research program in biodiversity embracing systematics, biogeography and nomenclature. His tasks at the AMNH were to curate and study the huge collections amassed by the Whitney South Sea Expedition plus the just purchased Rothschild collection of birds. These studies provided Mayr with the empirical foundation essential for his 1942Systematics and the Origin of Species and his subsequent theoretical work in evolutionary biology as well as all his later work in the philosophy and history of science. Without a detailed understanding of Mayr''s empirical systematic and biogeographic work, one cannot possibly comprehend fully his immense contributions to evolutionary biology and his later analyses in the philosophy and history of science. (shrink)
Sensationalistic Phenomenalism and Economy of Thought. On Ernst Mach's Concept of Science. Ernst Mach, natural scientist and major precursor of the Vienna Circle, never wants to be a philosopher. Nevertheless his writings are full of valuable hints for a modern theory of human knowledge – with respect to economical, historical and evolutionary aspects. His kind of phenomenalism is sensationalistic, monistic and instrumentalistic. This article deals with some contributions of his approach to actual debates in the general philosophy of (...) science. (shrink)
In the middle of the nineteenth century, advances in experimental psychology and the physiology of the sense organs inspired so-called ?Back to Kant? Neo-Kantians to articulate robustly psychologistic visions of Kantian epistemology. But their accounts of the thing in itself were fraught with deep tension: they wanted to conceive of things in themselves as the causes of our sensations, while their own accounts of causal inference ruled that claim out. This paper diagnoses the source of that problem in views of (...) one Neo-Kantan, F. A. Lange, and argues that it is solved only by Ernst Mach. No less than Lange and other Neo-Kantians, Mach was inspired to develop a psychologistic account of the foundations of knowledge, but his account also includes a coherent denial of things in themselves? existence. Finally, this paper uses this account of Lange and Mach on things in themselves to illuminate Mach's relation to a certain strain of the Neo-Kantian philosophy of his own time: his views constitute a more fully coherent version of the psychologistic theory of knowledge Back to Kant figures tried to articulate. (shrink)
The correspondence between Edgar Anderson and Ernst Mayr leading into their 1941 Jesup Lectures on “Systematics and the Origin of Species” addressed population thinking, the nature of species, the relationship of microevolution to macroevolution, and the evolutionary dynamics of plants and animals, all central issues in what came to be known as the Evolutionary Synthesis. On some points, they found ready agreement; for others they forged only a short term consensus. They brought two different working styles to this project (...) reflecting their different appreciations of what was possible at this point in evolutionary studies. For Mayr, it was a focused project with definitive short term conclusions imminent while Anderson viewed it as an episode in an ongoing historical process that, while exciting and suggestive, remained openended. Thus, Mayr and Anderson represent two distinct perspectives on the Evolutionary Synthesis in formation; by understanding both of their points of view, we can grasp more fully the state of evolutionary theory at this key moment. (shrink)
Ernst Mayr''s historical writings began in 1935 with his essay Bernard Altum and the territory theory and have continued up through his monumentalGrowth of Biological Thought (1982) and hisOne Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought (1991). Sweeping in their scope, forceful in their interpretation, enlisted on behalf of the clarification of modern concepts and of a broad view of biology, these writings provide both insights and challenges for the historian of biology. Mayr''s general intellectual (...) formation was guided by the GermanBildung ideal, with its emphasis on synthetic and comprehensive knowledge. His understanding of how to write history was inspired further by the example of the historian of ideas Arthur Lovejoy. Some strengths and limitations of this approach are explored here through attention to Mayr''s treatment of the French biologist J.-B. Lamarck. It is contended that Mayr''s contributions to the history of biology are not restricted to his own very substantial historical writings but also include his encouragement of other scholars, his development of an invaluable archive of scientific correspondence, and his insistence that historians who write about evolution and related subjects acquire an adequate understanding of the principles of Darwinian biology. (shrink)
Purpose: Appreciating the relationship between Sylvio Ceccato and Ernst von Glasersfeld, both as people and in their work. Approach: historical and personal accounts, archeological approach to written evidence. Findings: Ceccato’s work is introduced to an English speaking audience, and the roots of Glasersfeld’s work in Ceccato’s is explored. Flaws in Ceccato’s approach are indicated, together with how Glasersfeld’s work overcomes these, specially in language and automatic translation, and what became Radical Constructivism. Conclusion: Glasersfeld willingly acknowledges Ceccato, who he still (...) refers to as the Master. But Ceccato’s work is little known, specially in the English speaking world. The introduction, critique and delineation of extension and resolution of Ceccato’s ideas in Glasersfeld’s work is the intended value of the paper. (shrink)
Purpose: At Silvio Ceccato’s suggestion, I invited Ernst von Glasersfeld to the “Séminaire Leibniz” which took place in Brussels, in February 1961. The paper he delivered then, Operational Semantics: Analysis of Meaning in Terms of Operations, was included in a Euratom internal report and is published here for the first time. Conclusion: These early works clearly show von Glasersfeld’s methodological and philosophical coherence as well as his faithfulness to Ceccato’s endeavour.
I shall write about my first meeting with Ernst von Glasersfeld, and how his comments then on my doctoral study continue to help me clarify what it is I am trying to talk about; how he challenged me to pursue what has turned out to be my life’s work so far; and about how these seem to me now to fit in with that constellation of ideas.
Le Obiezioni contro la Teoria medica di G.E. Stahl, tradotte per la prima volta in italiano, rappresentano un documento di particolare interesse storico-filosofico. Da una parte Georg Ernst Stahl (1659-1734), medico, chimico, fisico, sostenitore di una fisiologia corporea a impronta “vitalista” e dall’altra Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), genio universale della matematica e della filosofia dell’età barocca. Il fulcro della polemica riguarda la possibilità di capire se e in che misura l’organizzazione meccanica di un corpo organico sia di per se (...) sufficiente a spiegare il fenomeno della vita “biologica”, o se invece si debba postulare la presenza di princìpi vitali capaci di integrare le leggi fisiologiche che strutturano la corporeità. A dispetto della lontananza storica, o anzi forse proprio in virtù di tale lontananza, la polemica tra Leibniz e Stahl ci aiuta a decifrare le radici di uno dei refrain più abusati di tanta filosofia contemporanea, il tema cioè della ‘naturalizzazione’ della vita e dello spirito. L’idea di espungere tutti gli elementi “soprannaturali” (l’anima, gli spiriti, etc.) dal novero delle spiegazioni scientifiche non è certo un’idea novecentesca e si confronta in questo caso non solo con la sua tesi opposta, ma soprattutto con una vasta gamma di soluzioni intermedie e di varianti non riduzioniste, di cui proprio la filosofia di Leibniz è uno splendido esempio. Il volume è accompagnato da un saggio di postfazione intitolato Vita e organismo tra filosofia e medicina: le ragioni di una polemica. (shrink)
Wolf land is in the context of the present article to be considered as an ambiguous term referring to “the land of the wolf” from the wolf’s perspective as well as from a human perspective. I start out by presenting the general circumstances of the Scandinavian wolf population, then turn to the Norwegian wolf controversy in particular. The latter half of the article consists of an elucidation of current wolf ecology related to what is here termed wolf land, and a (...) concluding comment to the now controversial notion of wilderness. The final section of this article further includes identification of changing factors in current Scandinavian wolf ecology in terms of its semiotic niche, and ontological niche, respectively. (shrink)
Research into learners' ideas about science suggests that students often have alternative conceptions about important science concepts. Because of this dissatisfaction, constructivism has been adopted as a theoretical framework by many teachers and researchers, and it has had a curricular influence in many countries. Constructivism is much more than an educational doctrine and we are aware that a ‘science war’ about the possibility of objectivity is in progress. ‘Constructivism’ cannot necessary be a package deal: it must be possible to accept (...) educational suggestions deemed useful without buying all the epistemology or the metaphysical implications. The claim that cognitive agents understand the world by constructing mental representations of it can be a shared suggestion for changing science instruction. Many teachers are much more concerned in finding productive teaching methods than about philosophical questions as if knowledge must be considered an objective representation of the real world or not. We have to ponder if some ideas from the constructivist theory of instruction can help instructors to become better teachers. The pragmatic suggestions that come from the constructivist theory of instruction developed by von Glasersfeld, the leading proponent of radical constructivism, could be a good start in this␣search. (shrink)
O texto compõe-se de duas partes: 1) uma introdução sobre Ernst Tugendhat, seu percurso e seu trabalho, bem como seu envolvimento com o ensino da filosofia entre nós; e 2) um depoimento do filósofo alemão sobre o ensino de filosofia na universidade, apresentando suas opiniões e sua vasta experiência a respeito. Para ele, como para o introdutor, em vez de resumir-se essencialmente ao aprendizado da história da filosofia e à leitura dos grandes filósofos, o ensino dessa disciplina – algo (...) como uma “arte” – deveria incluir, desde o começo, o exercício da argumentação sobre temas e problemas e a redação de textos curtos nessa linha. (shrink)
In the thirties, Martin Heidegger was heavily involved with the work of Ernst Jünger (1895-1998). He says that he is indebted to Jünger for the ‘enduring stimulus’ provided by his descriptions. The question is: what exactly could this enduring stimulus be? Several interpreters have examined this question, but the recent publication of lectures and annotations of the thirties allow us to follow Heidegger’s confrontation with Jünger more precisely. -/- According to Heidegger, the main theme of his philosophical thinking in (...) the thirties was the overcoming of the metaphysics of the will to power. But whereas he seems to be quite revolutionary in heralding ‘another beginning’ of philosophy in the beginning of the thirties, he later on realized that his own revolutionary vocabulary was itself influenced by the will to power. In his later work, one of the main issues is the releasement from the wilful way of philosophical thinking. My hypothesis is that Jünger has this importance for Heidegger in the thirties, because the confrontation with Jünger’s way of thinking showed him that the other beginning of philosophy presupposes the irrevocable releasement of willing and a gelassen or non-willing way of philosophical thinking. -/- In this article, we test this hypothesis in relation to the recently published lectures, annotations and unpublished notes from the thirties. After a brief explanation of Jünger’s diagnosis of modernity (§1), we consider Heidegger’s reception of the work of Jünger in the thirties (§2). He not only sees that Jünger belongs to Nietzsche’s metaphysics of the will to power, but also shows the modern-metaphysical character of Jünger’s way of thinking. In section three, we focus on Heidegger’s confrontation with Jünger in relation to the consummation of modernity. According to Heidegger, Jünger is not only the end of modern metaphysics, but also the perishing (Verendung) of this end, the oblivion of this end in the will to power of representation. In section four, we focus on the real controversy between Jünger and Heidegger: the releasement of willing and the necessity of a radical other beginning of philosophical thinking. -/- . (shrink)
In this paper, I will argue with Ernst Cassirer that anticipation plays an essential part in the constitution of time, as seen from a transcendental perspective. Time is, as any transcendental concept, regarded as basically relational and subjective and only in a derivative way objective and indifferent to us. This entails that memory is prior to history, and that anticipation is prior to prediction. In this paper, I will give some examples in order to argue for this point. Furthermore, (...) I will also argue, again with Cassirer and contra Henri Bergson, that time should be seen as a functional unity, and not as a collection of three different things-in-themselves (past, present and future). (shrink)
It's been 41 years since the publication of Ernst Mayr's Cause and Effect in Biology wherein Mayr most clearly develops his version of the influential distinction between ultimate and proximate causes in biology. In critically assessing Mayr's essay I uncover false statements and red-herrings about biological explanation. Nevertheless, I argue to uphold an analogue of the ultimate/proximate distinction as it refers to two different kinds of explanations, one dynamical the other statistical.
A full appreciation for Ernst Mach's doctrine of the economy of thought must take account of his direct realism about particulars (elements) and his anti-realism about space-time laws as economical constructions. After a review of thought economy, its critics and some contemporary forms, the paper turns to the philosophical roots of Mach's doctrine. Mach claimed that the simplest, most parsimonious theories economized memory and effort by using abstract concepts and laws instead of attending to the details of each individual (...) event or experiment. For Mach, the individual case never truly repeated in all of its uniqueness, nor was all of the individual detail of a physical element adequately captured in abstract laws and schemata, however necessary these were for the pursuit of science. As can be shown from specific passages, some already published, some not, Mach's elements included physical qualia in nature similar to Russell's unsensed sensibilia, which existed even where there were no conscious observers. An argument will be presented to make the case that Mach believed in the mind-independent elements from the 1870s on, while other aspects of his thought evolved over time; I have thus dated the references to reflect this historical progression. I concentrate on Mach's ontology, as it bears on economy of thought, not his epistemology per se, which might well have been restricted to observable elements/sensations. After his own conversion to neutral monism, in the 1920s, Bertrand Russell echoed Mach's call for a 'future science' capable of handling the 'intrinsic character' of qualitative data directly without the excessive abstraction of physics. (shrink)
One of the most important philosophical topics in the early twentieth century ? and a topic that was seminal in the emergence of analytic philosophy ? was the relationship between Kantian philosophy and modern geometry. This paper discusses how this question was tackled by the Neo-Kantian trained philosopher Ernst Cassirer. Surprisingly, Cassirer does not affirm the theses that contemporary philosophers often associate with Kantian philosophy of mathematics. He does not defend the necessary truth of Euclidean geometry but instead develops (...) a kind of logicism modeled on Richard Dedekind's foundations of arithmetic. Further, because he shared with other Neo-Kantians an appreciation of the developmental and historical nature of mathematics, Cassirer developed a philosophical account of the unity and methodology of mathematics over time. With its impressive attention to the detail of contemporary mathematics and its exploration of philosophical questions to which other philosophers paid scant attention, Cassirer's philosophy of mathematics surely deserves a place among the classic works of twentieth century philosophy of mathematics. Though focused on Cassirer's philosophy of geometry, this paper also addresses both Cassirer's general philosophical orientation and his reading of Kant. (shrink)
The article reconsiders the Davos-debate between Martin Heidegger and Ernst Cassirer to reassess the discussion of interrelations and differences of their philosophies. The focus is the fecund motifs of thought that each philosopher presents. These are worked out by dispersing the contexts. Heidegger's primary motifs of thought are identified through the work of Jean-Francois Lyotard as the question of finitude understood as continuance of the event and as the act of understanding the event. The primary motif of thought in (...) Cassirer's philosophy is identified with the question of form and formation. It is argued that it is possible to think the motifs of event and form in connection with each other. The focal point of connection between their philosophies is uncovered in the relations of form between persons—in the rigorous practice of promising and demanding. The philosophies of Heidegger and Cassirer are thus read in a way where they productively enhance each other without minimizing the differences of their motifs of thought. (shrink)