This paper develops the notion of a situated part structure and applies it to the semantics of the modifiers 'whole' and 'individual'. It argues that the ambiguity of 'whole' should be traced to two different conceptions of part structures of objects being at play: one according to which the parts of an objects are just the material parts and another, Aristotelian conception according to which the parts of an object include properties of form.
This article focuses on problematizing the harmonisation of higher education in Europe today. The overall aim is to analyse the construction of the European citizen and the rationality of governing related to such a construction. The specific focus will be on the rules and standards of reason in higher education reforms which inscribe continuums of values that exclude as they include. Who is and who is not constructed as a European citizen? Documents on the Bologna process produced in Europe and (...) in Sweden are analysed drawing on the Foucauldian notion of governmentality, showing a neoliberal rationality of governing. The European citizen needs to become flexible, autonomous and self-regulating as a way of facing the threats of the constantly changing future. The technique of diversity is a condition of possibility for constructing such a citizen and for harmonising higher education in Europe. Further, the current power relations in the discourse define what is and what is not European, thus constructing 'the other', the one who is excluded. (shrink)
When nurses have active and untreated addictions, patient safety may be compromised and nurse-health endangered. Genuine responses are required to fulfil nurses' moral obligations to their patients as well as to their nurse-colleagues. Guided by core elements of relational ethics, the influences of nursing organizational responses along with the practice environment in shaping the situation are contemplated. This approach identifies the importance of consistency with nursing values, acknowledges nurses interdependence, and addresses the role of nursing organization as moral agent. By (...) examining the relational space, the tension between what appears to be opposing moral responsibilities may be healed. Ongoing discourse to identify authentic actions for the professional practice issue of nursing under the influence is called upon. (shrink)
Neurophenomenology is a research programme aimed at bridging the explanatory gap between first-person subjective experience and neurophysiological third-person data, through an embodied and enactive approach to the biology of consciousness. The present proposal attempts to further characterize the bodily basis of the mind by adopting a naturalistic view of the phenomenological concept of intentionality as the a priori invariant character of any lived experience. Building on the Kantian definition of transcendentality as “what concerns the a priori formal structures of the (...) subject’s mind” and as a precondition for the very possibility of human knowledge, we will suggest that this transcendental core may in fact be rooted in biology and can be examined within an extension of the theory of autopoiesis. The argument will be first clarified by examining its application to previously proposed elementary autopoietic models, to the bacterium, and to the immune system; it will be then further substantiated and illustrated by examining the mirror-neuron system and the default mode network as biological instances exemplifying the enactive nature of knowledge, and by discussing the phenomenological aspects of selected neurological conditions (neglect, schizophrenia). In this context, the free-energy principle proposed recently by Karl Friston will be briefly introduced as a rigorous, neurally-plausible framework that seems to accomodate optimally these ideas. While our approach is biologically-inspired, we will maintain that lived first-person experience is still critical for a better understanding of brain function, based on our argument that the former and the latter share the same transcendental structure. Finally, the role that disciplined contemplative practices can play to this aim, and an interpretation of the cognitive processes taking place during meditation under this perspective, will be also discussed. (shrink)
We propose a formal representation of objects , those being mathematical or empirical objects. The powerful framework inside which we represent them in a unique and coherent way is grounded, on the formal side, in a logical approach with a direct mathematical semantics in the well-established field of constructive topology, and, on the philosophical side, in a neo-Kantian perspective emphasizing the knowing subject’s role, which is constructive for the mathematical objects and constitutive for the empirical ones.
In many scientific, economic and policy-related problems, pieces of information from different sources have to be aggregated. Typically, the sources are not equally competent. This raises the question of how the relative weights and competences should be related to arrive at an optimal final verdict. Our paper addresses this question under a more realistic perspective of measuring the practical loss implied by an inaccurate verdict.
I discuss the historical roots of the landscape problem and propose criteria for its successful resolution. This provides a perspective to evaluate the possibility to solve it in several of the speculative cosmological scenarios under study including eternal inflation, cosmological natural selection and cyclic cosmologies.Invited contribution for a special issue of Foundations of Physics titled Forty Years Of String Theory: Reflecting On the Foundations.
Long recognised as a painting ‘about’ painting, Velázquez’s Las Meninas comes to Lacan’s aid as he explicates the object a in Seminar XIII, The Object of Psychoanalysis (1965–1966). The famous seventeenth century painting provides Lacan with a visual mapping of the ‘ghost story’ he discovers in the Cartesian cogito, insofar as it depicts the unravelling of the Cartesian representational project at the moment of its founding gesture. This article traces Lacan’s argument as he turns to art, linear perspective and (...) topology to model how the object a persistently eludes the grasp of scientific knowledge. Following a discussion of distance-point perspective in Renaissance Italy and the role this innovation played in enabling distorted depictions of objects in space, I propose Henry James’s ghost story, “The Jolly Corner,” as the sequel to Lacan’s reading of Las Meninas. In James’s tale, we obtain a narrative account of what the figures in Velasquez’s painting might ‘see’ as they return our gaze towards us. (shrink)
A layered approach to the evaluation of action alternatives with continuous time for decision making under the moral doctrine of Negative Utilitarianism is presented and briefly discussed from a philosophical perspective.
Abstract Ecological communities around the world are under threat while a consensus theory of community structure remains elusive. In the last decade ecologists have struggled with two seemingly opposing theories: niche-based theory that explains diversity with species’ differences and the neutral theory of biodiversity that claims that much of the diversity we observe can be explained without explicitly invoking species’ differences. Although ecologists are increasingly attempting to reconcile these two theories, there is still much resistance against the neutral theory (...) of biodiversity. Here we argue that the dispute between the two theories is a classic example of the dichotomy between philosophical perspectives, realism and instrumentalism. Realism is associated with specific, small-scale and detailed explanations, whereas instrumentalism is linked to general, large-scale, but less precise accounts. Recognizing this will help ecologists get both niche-based and neutral theories in perspective as useful tools for understanding biodiversity patterns. Content Type Journal Article Category Regular Article Pages 1-15 DOI 10.1007/s10441-012-9144-6 Authors Paul L. Wennekes, Community and Conservation Ecology Group, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands James Rosindell, Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK Rampal S. Etienne, Community and Conservation Ecology Group, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands Journal Acta Biotheoretica Online ISSN 1572-8358 Print ISSN 0001-5342. (shrink)
It is a common pessimistic worry among both philosophers and non-philosophers that our lives, viewed sub specie aeternitatis, are meaningless given that they make neither a noticeable nor lasting impact from this vast, cosmic perspective. The preferred solution for escaping this kind of pessimism is to adopt a different measure by which to evaluate life’s meaningfulness. One of two primary routes is often taken here. First, one can retreat back to the sub specie humanitatis perspective, and argue that (...) life is meaningful only when viewed within the local context of human values, cares, and concerns. Or, second, one can distinguish between perspectives and standards for meaningfulness, arguing that the latter are independent of the former and are the most appropriate means by which evaluations of life’s meaningfulness are made. Importantly, none of these issues can be sufficiently addressed without first answering a prior question, and one that is surprisingly under-addressed in the literature: What is the sub specie aeternitatis perspective? Unfortunately, many philosophers who employ this perspective do so without carefully defining or clarifying it, or, if they do clarify what it means, they only note its time and spatial components. I will argue that, in addition to these components, this perspective includes something like a modal component (following Thomas Nagel), and an ontological Normative component. I will then apply this more nuanced understanding of the sub specie aeternitatis perspective to the question of whether perspectives can be distinguished from standards for meaningfulness. (shrink)
This article discusses epistemological and methodological problems brought forth during the study of management practices in companies and organisations based on an ethnomethodological approach. Ethnomethodological issues and knowledge in organaisation management and the complexity of the involvement of the researcher will be discussed by way of analysis of six controversial reports on the involvement of the researcher. Our aim is to clarify the nature of the work carried out by the researcher. Therefore the questions of the neutrality of the researchers (...) and the dialectical immersion-distancing with regards to the objects being studied will be discussed. The aim of this article is to show the theoretical and epistemological interest of the organisation ethnomethodology in a constructivist perspective with regards to management sciences research. (shrink)
This paper discusses how we understand and use a concept or the meaningof a general term to identify the objects falling under the term. There aretwo distinct approaches to research on the problems of concepts and meaningthe psychological approach and the formal (or logical) approach. My majorconcern is to consider the possibility of reconciling these two differentapproaches, and for this I propose to build a psychologically plausibleformal system of conceptualization. That is, I will develop a theory-basedaccount of concepts (...) and propose an explanation of how an agent activates aperspective (which consists of theories) in response to a situation in whichreasoning using a concept is called for. Theories are represented as sets offacts and rules, both strict and defeasible. Each theory is organized in acoherent perspective which stands for an agent's mental state or an agent'smodel of another agent's perspective. Perspectives are organized intohierarchies and the theory for a concept in one perspective may defeat thetheory for the same concept in another perspective. Which perspective issuperior is context-dependent. (shrink)
This study responds to Theodore Kisiel’s “review and overview” of Contributions, the English translation of Heidegger’s Beiträge, included in his essay published in Studia Phænomenologica, vol. 5 (2005), 277-285. This study shows the uniqueness and the significance of Beiträge, as well as the nature of the venture to render it into English (I); it explores the language and way of thinking, the be-ing-historical, enowning perspective, endemic to Heidegger’s second main work, and identifies the “ideal” and the difficulties of its (...) translation as a hermeneutic labor, as well as the inadequacy of “an archival perspective” for guiding the translation and the grasping of his text (II). Based on these insights, this study, then, leads to a critical assessment of Theodore Kisiel’s hyperbolic, acerbic, despairing reactions to Contributions as a work of translation, thus exhibiting the collapse of his gratuitous assertions and assumptions under their own weight, as well as the failure of his “archival” approach to the translation (and ultimately to the assessment of Heidegger’s thinking) (III); it concludes with showing the nature and the disclosive power of Contributions, as well as its significance for the future of Heidegger studies (IV). (shrink)
Social- ethical responsibi ity in South Africa: A Levinasian perspective. On the question regarding the injustice in the South African social reality, two approaches have recurrently been followed: the “individual guilt” approach on the one hand, and the “systemic guilt” approach on the other hand. Drawing on the notion that the subject is on a pre- reflective level “held hostage by the neighbour”, this article elaborates on the significance of Levinas' social ethics to post- apartheid South Africa. The strength (...) of Levinas' phenomenological approach is its confirmation of the primacy of ethics in our time. This makes possible a depth- perspective on the every day ethical discourse that can complement the deficiencies of the approaches mentioned above. I argue that Levinas ought not to be under stood as representative of a “samaritanian” ethics. While Levinas gives emphasis to responsibility in the first person, he also clearly delineates the indispensable importance to ethics of institutions and a good social order. Along these lines, I oppose the apparent quietism of a Derridian approach recently followed in local academic literature. The article concludes with a discussion on the possibility of the concretisation of the Good in Levinas. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.20(4) 2001: 85-102. (shrink)
According to Vázquez and Liz (Found Sci 16(4): 383–391, 2011), Points of View (PoV) can be considered in two different ways. On the one hand, they can be explained following the model of propositional attitudes. This model assumes that the internal structure of a PoV is constituted by a subject, a set of contents, and a set of relations between the subject and those contents. On the other hand, we can analyze points of view taking as a model the notions (...) of location and access. If we choose to follow the second approach, instead of the first one, the internal structure of a PoV is not directly addressed, and the emphasized features of PoV are related to the function that PoV are intended to have. That is, PoV are directly identified by their role and they can solely be understood as ways of accessing the world that bring some kind of perspective about it. Having this in mind, we would like to propose a notation that explains how to understand such access as a sort of models (that can allow the creation of concepts), independently of whether the precise PoV under consideration is impersonal or non-impersonal, its kind of content, and its subjective or objective character. First, we will present an account of some previous approaches to the study of points of view. Then, we will analyze what kind of structure the world is assumed to posses and how the access to it is possible. Third, we will develop a notation that explains PoV as qualitative dimensions by means of which it is possible to valuate objects and states of the world. (shrink)
In this article, I address the issue of the sale of human organs and the moral implications of a market in human organs under the aegis of Christian Bioethics. I argue that moral issues of this kind cannot be adequately addressed from the point of view of moral frameworks which point exclusively to procedural norms. Rather, a moral perspective must embody some substantive norms derived from a particular content-full moral or theological perspective. The substantive norms to which (...) I appeal in this article are those of Roman Catholicism. The most important sources cited include the works of Pius XII (1956) and the works of John Paul II (1985 and 1991). The conclusion reached is that not only is it morally permissible for Catholics to participate in a market in organ sales but it may also be prudent public policy. (shrink)
In this paper we develop a hermeneutic approach to the concept of competence. Patient competence, according to a hermeneutic approach, is not primarily a matter of being able to reason, but of being able to interpret the world and respond to it. Capacity should then not be seen as theoretical, but as practical. From the perspective of practical rationality, competence and capacity are two sides of the same coin. If a person has the capacity to understand the world and (...) give meaning to the situation, he or she is able to make decisions, and is thus competent. People can fail in the area of practical rationality. They can feel ill at ease, uncomfortable or not at home in the situation. Under such conditions, they appear as incompetent, and urge caregivers to respond in such a way that their competence can be raised. The issue is not how to measure their incompetence, but how to help them to become more competent, that is to get a practical grip on their situation and to be able to live out their lives in such a way that they develop their identity in relations with others. From a hermeneutic point of view, assessing a patient's capacity implies focusing on the patient's way of meaning making and regarding her behavior from the perspective of practical rationality. The focus should not be on the assessment as a matter of fact, but on improving capacity. This requires allowing the patient to experience the world meaningfully and affording her, in the context of a supportive and trustful institutional environment, the possibility of developing a personal narrative where her choices are expressed verbally or non-verbally. (shrink)
What allows MNCs to maintain their sustainability practices over the long-term? This is an important but under-examined question. To address this question, we investigate both the development and sustenance of sustainability practices. We use the dynamic capabilities perspective, rooted in resource-based view literature, as the theoretical basis. We argue that MNCs that simultaneously pursue both higher R&D intensity and higher internationalization are more capable of developing and maintaining sustainability practices. We test our hypotheses using longitudinal panel data from (...) 1989 to 2009. Results suggest that MNCs that have a combination of both high R&D intensity and high internationalization are (i) likely to develop more sustainability practices and (ii) are likely to maintain more of those practices over a long-term. As a corollary, MNCs that have a combination of both low R&D and low internationalization usually (i) end up developing little or no sustainability practices and (ii) find it difficult to sustain whatever little sustainability practices they might have developed. (shrink)
Is appealing to emotions in argumentation ever legitimate and, if so, what is the best way to analyze and evaluate such appeals? After overviewing a normative pragmatic perspective on appealing to emotions in argumentation, I present answers to these questions from pragma-dialectical, informal logical, and rhetorical perspectives, and note positions shared and supplemented by a normative pragmatic perspective. A normative pragmatic perspective holds that appealing to emotions in argumentation may be relevant and non-manipulative; and that emotional appeals (...) may be analyzed as strategies that create pragmatic reasons and assessed by the standard of formal propriety or reasonability under the circumstances. I illustrate the explanatory power of the perspective by analyzing and evaluating some argumentation from Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.” I conclude that a normative pragmatic perspective offers a more complete account of appealing to emotions in argumentation than a pragma-dialectial, informal logical, or rhetorical perspective alone, identifies a range of norms available to arguers, and explains why appealing to emotions may be legitimate in particular cases of argumentation. (shrink)
. Critical realism is a frequently mentioned, but not very well-known, late nineteenth-/early twentieth-century philosophical tradition. Having its roots in Kantian epistemology, critical realism is best characterized as a revisionist approach toward the original Kantian doctrine. Its most outstanding thesis is the idea that Kantian things-in-themselves are knowable. This idea was—at least implicitly—suggested by thinkers such as Alois Riehl, Wilhelm Wundt, and Oswald Külpe. Interestingly enough, the philosophical position of the early Moritz Schlick stands in the critical realist tradition as (...) well. As will be outlined in the course of this paper, both Schlick’s magnum opus General Theory of Knowledge (1918) and his seminal Space and Time in Contemporary Physics (1917) are based on the assumption that the objects of science are relations and that relations have the status of Kantian things-in-themselves. By way of conclusion, I shall point out that this— more or less directly—leads to the current debate over ‘structural’ realism. (shrink)
This is the second in a two part series of articles that attempt to clarify the nature and enduring relevance of Kant's concept of a priori knowledge. (For Part I, see below.) In this article I focus mainly on Saul Kripke's critique of Kant, in Naming and Necessity. I argue that Kripke draws attention to a genuine defect in Kant's epistemological framework, but that he used definitions of certain key terms that were quite different from Kant's definitions. When Kripke's definitions (...) are replaced by Kant's definitions, Kripke's account of the status of naming turns out to be a defense of analytic aposteriority as a significant classification of knowledge that Kant neglected. I also introduce here a new way of understanding such epistemological labels, as defining the perspective adopted by the knowing subject in a given situation, rather than an objective characteristic of certain propositions as such. (shrink)
This article is mainly a critique of Philip Kitcher's book, The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge. Four weaknesses in Kitcher's objection to Kant arise out of Kitcher's failure to recognize the perspectival nature of Kant's position. A proper understanding of Kant's theory of mathematics requires awareness of the perspectival nuances implicit in Kant's theory of pure intuition. (Apologies that the pdf of this article was prepared with every other page upside down. Take it as an opportunity to practice changing one's (...) class='Hi'>perspective!). (shrink)
continent. 1.3 (2011): 158-170. The Fragment as a Unit of Prose Composition: An Introduction —Ben Segal The fragment, the note, the idea, the aphorism even: there are many names and as many uses for such small shards of free-floating text. Typically fragments are less works than gestures, arrows pointing in the direction a person might research, meditate on or develop. Unlike paragraphs or sentences, they do not flow directly from and into their bordering text. Instead they are independent, defined by (...) their singularity, by the white space that encases them on a page – even when they are cobbled together and marshaled into service as the contents of a book. Still, though not exceedingly common, books of fragments (or notes or what-have-yous) do exist. However they are labeled, the very aloofness of disconnected micro-texts allows them certain privileges and possibilities that a writer can employ and exploit. In such instances, the book of fragments may, almost paradoxically, gain a coherence as a singular work, all the more satisfying for its fractures. Two such books are Maggie Nelson's Bluets and Evan Lavender-Smith's From Old Notebooks . In this mini-feature, continent. is pleased to present a series of excerpts from each of these books, a selection of 'outtakes' – fragments that did not make it into the final manuscripts – from each, and short interviews with both Nelson and Lavender-Smith about the fragment as a literary device. Notes on the interviews: 1) Since this feature includes excerpts and outtakes from both Bluets and From Old Notebooks , I chose to ask both Nelson and Lavender-Smith similar questions about working with the fragment as the building-block of a larger work. This means that the questions are, for the most part, more concerned with things like form than about specific passages from the books. 2) In both interviews, I ask a question that cites The Literary Absolute . It should be noted that TLA is concerned with the fragment as developed and understood in the context of the Jena Romantics (the Schlegel brothers, Novalis, etc.), not necessarily the fragment in general. Maggie Nelson Interview: 1. "Bluet" conjures a constellation of similar words. These include Blue, Bullet, and the flower to which the word actually refers. I'm wondering if this range is intentional and if there's anything I'm leaving out. Or, more simply, can you talk a little about the title? I first got interested in the word BLUETS via the painter Joan Mitchell, about whom I’d written earlier in my book on women and the New York School. LES BLUETS is the name of one of my very favorites of all her paintings; she painted it the year I was born. Later the poet Jimmy Schuyler wrote a lovely prose poem about this painting, which I also adored, and which I’ve also written about. So the word had been in my mind for some time, as had her amazing painting (which is in several panels, so also in parts—i.e. in dialogue with questions of parts/wholes). While it was in progress, I always called BLUETS “The Blue Book.” But I knew I always wanted an eventual title that referred, however obliquely, to the book’s form. In this case, the form is notably PLURAL, as is BLUETS, which seemed right. Also, I have always pronounced BLUETS “bluettes,” which is kind of a personal joke about feminization. Like, “majorettes,” etc. It’s a joke because I think the book has a lot to do with the robustness of being a female human, so I found irony in the diminutive nature of the suffix. I also liked the fact that the word means a kind of flower, as it allowed each proposition, or whatever you might call each numbered section, to be thought of as a single flower in a bouquet. This sounds cheesy here, but I think I talk about this idea in a less cheesy way in the book itself, near the end, when I’m ruminating on its composition, and its surprising (to me) slimness, or “anemia.” 2. I know you've thought (and taught) about the fragment as a mode of writing. I'm wondering how your study of the form influences the way you use it. While writing a book, I’m influenced by things the same way I would imagine most writers are: I look for what I want to steal, then I steal it, and make my own weird stew of the goods. Often while writing I’d re-read the books by Barthes written in fragments— A Lover’s Discourse , Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes —and see what he gained from an alphabetical, somewhat random organization, and what he couldn’t do that way. I mostly read Wittgenstein, and watched how he used numbered sections to think sequentially, and to jump, in turn. I read Shonagon’s The Pillow Book , and tried to keep a pillow book about blue for some time. (It didn’t last long, as an exercise, but some of the entries made it into BLUETS.) I re-read Haneke’s Sorrow Beyond Dreams , which finally dissolves into fragments, after a fairly strong chronological narrative has taken him so far. In the course I taught on the fragment, which was somewhat after the fact of writing BLUETS, but conceived in relation to it, we studied a kind of taxonomy of fragments: the decayed fragment (Sappho); the contemporary fragment (text messages, twitter, blog posts, etc.); the modernist fragment (T.S. Eliot; fragment as mark of psychological disintegration); Freud’s fragment (dreams, slips, etc. as thruways to the unconscious; the sampled or plagiarized fragment; fragment as waste, excess, or garbage; the footnote; fragment as frame (Degas, Manet); life narrative as fragment: we can’t see the whole until we’re dead, and then we can’t see it (pathos); fragment as psychological terror (castration, King’s head); fragment as fetish, or as “organ-logic,” as pornography; fragment as metonym & synecdoche; fragment as that which is preserved, or that which remains; fragment as the unfinished or the abandoned; and so on and so forth. I think, in the back of my mind, I was aware of all these categories while writing BLUETS, and put them each into play as needed while writing. The book seems to me hyper-aware of the fragment as fetish, as catastrophe, as leftover, as sample or citation, as memory, and so on. Many of the anecdotes in the book (such as about the decay of blue objects I’ve collected, or my memory of a particularly acute shade of blue, or the recountings of dreams) perform these concepts quite directly. 3. In The Literary Absolute , Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy write that "each fragment stands for itself and for that from which it has been detached."(44) They go on to explain that the fragment is both "sub-work" (in the obvious sense of being only a small piece of the Work), but also "super-work", as it stands, complete in itself, outside the work and calls up the plural potentiality of the work. What do you make of this idea and how do you understand the relation of the fragment to the Work as a whole? I like the idea of the “super-work,” the fragment that indicates the whole it has been excised from. However, on a concrete level, I don’t think that’s really true of BLUETS. Some of the propositions are very much in dialogue with the ones that have come before it, acting as rebuffs, or conclusions, or swerves. To detect their motion, one has to already be in the car. Often they are as short as: “ Disavowal , says the silence,” or “As if we could scrape the color off the iris and still see,” or “In any case, I am no longer counting the days.” These don’t make much sense outside of their context. Although, now that I’ve isolated just these few, I can see that they might gesture to the whole—but I think you’d have to know what the whole was, for the exercise to feel full. I am interested, however, in the notion of collecting, of a collection—and how to know when to stop, when you’ve amassed enough. While writing BLUETS, I thought of Joseph Cornell as the ultimate teacher in this respect: he collected enormous amounts of junk, he “hunted” for treasures all over the city, but each box or collage or even film has a certain minimalism, each feels as if it’s been distilled to become exactly as specific as it should be. In other words, the composition emanates from the piles of junk left in its wake, but it in itself becomes perfect. It may be unfashionable, but I’m interested in this sense of perfection. 3b. Fragments collected together become a whole that gestures to dozens of other, potential wholes. How, if at all, do you think about your book in relation to the preservation of potentiality? I have to admit, I don’t entirely understand this question. Preservation of potentiality—that’s what I don’t quite understand. I will say this, though: writing a book, especially a book of this kind (i.e. I’d wanted to write a book on the color blue for my whole life), has a certain pain in it—the pain of manifestation. Every word that gets set down, every decision made—form, content, sentence structure, image—begins to define a work that previously was a kind of infinitely indeterminate mental cloud, or beautifully diffuse physical sensation. As the book comes into being, I’m often thinking, “this is it? this is all it’s going to be?” For me, I think it’s this feeling, rather than that of not having anything to say, or a terror of the blank page, that can bring a sort of writer’s block. Think of Lily Briscoe at the end of Woolf’s To the Lighthouse —after her long reverie, she eventually must make the mark on the canvas. She brings the brush down, then sighs: “There, I have had my vision.” To have made the mark, to have manifested the vision, brings with it a certain satisfaction, a certain euphoria and relief—but also a brand of pathos. Of all the possible books, you wrote this book. Of all the possible brush strokes, you made this one. How very strange! The good news is, you’re usually so tired when you finish a book that you don’t care anymore—you’re just happy it’s finished, and that you can move on. And if you’re lucky, you may eventually marvel at the specificity of the result, feel the magic and largesse in its specificity, in its singularity. I feel this way about BLUETS. 4. Can you talk a little about the way traditional prose standbys like character and narrative develop out of distinct and disconnected fragments? I feel like this definitely happens in Bluets as well as other texts that use a similar approach. BLUETS always had a specific set of dramatic personae, and also a sort of narrative arc. It begins by saying, “Suppose I were to begin,” which places the whole book, at least for me, in the realm of the novelistic, or at least the speculative. That freedom was important to me while writing. I have a lot of issues, for lack of a better word, with narrative, but I also have no problem with trying to structure a work so that it acts as a page-turner. I wanted there to be a lot of momentum in this book, as well as plenty of opportunities for eddying out into cul-de-sacs. That was the tension—how to make some chains of propositions that pull you forward, and then allow for some to bring you so far afield that you might find yourself wondering, “why are we talking about this here?” before remembering how you got there, and why it might matter. While some of the fragments may seem disconnected or distinct, the truth is that they each had to fall into one the book’s major categories, which included love, language, sex, divinity, alcohol, pain, death, and problems of veracity/perception. If I truly couldn’t tether an anecdote or factoid to the thread, it eventually had to go. I also spaced out the distinct threads fairly methodically, and had the characters reappear at a fairly regular rate. There’s even a kind of “where are they now?” section at the end, announced by my injured friend’s letter to her friends, in which she tells them how her spinal cord injury has affected her life, and how she feels today. I’m sure one could write a book of very disconnected fragments that didn’t so overtly weave into a whole—I’ve read many of them—but it’s also true that the mind will always work overtime to put disparate things together; the Surrealists mined that tendency for all it was worth. I think that’s a cool approach, to let the reader make the connections, but it’s important to me as a writer to make sure that the connections, when made, actually point toward what I want to be pointing at, rather than just reflecting the human brain’s capacity to make a bridge. 5. To what extent does how you label your texts matter? What is the difference between notes, fragments, bluets, and aphorisms? Basically, is taxonomy important? Taxonomy, hmm. At some point I was very compelled by issues of taxonomy, but over the years I’ve grown less interested in the question, as the notion of the “hybrid” or the “cross-genre” seems to have become its own kind of jargon or pitch. I got very excited some time ago when I was trying to subtitle my book JANE, and I came across Brian Evenson’s book DARK PROPERTY: AN AFFLICTION. I thought—of course! A book can be a CONDITION rather than a GENRE. So I subtitled JANE “A Murder,” with this concept in mind. My most recent book, THE ART OF CRUELTY, I subtitled “a reckoning,” using the same logic. This has been one means of skirting the whole genre issue. On the other hand, I don’t really like it when people called BLUETS “notes” or “aphorisms,” or “fragments,” because it’s not really any of those things. Aphoristic philosophy—which was one of this book’s inspirations—is not made up of just aphorisms per se. There may be great aphorisms to be found in Nietzsche or Wittgenstein, for example, but neither is writing a series of one-liners. Their projects are bigger than that. They are in dialogue with argumentation as much as with impression. Likewise, I don’t really see BLUETS as poetry. I mean, I don’t care if someone wants to call it that—if they do, it happily expands the notion of poetry—but I’ve written enough poetry to have a lot of respect for its particular tools, which include the line break, and forms of logic unavailable to prose. BLUETS thinks in prose; it is written in prose. It sometimes thinks in images, and sometimes in sound, but essentially it is about sentences, and about trains of prose logic and their limits. But if someone wants to call it poetry, I wouldn’t go to the mat about it. 6. Are there other texts (of or about fragments) that you'd like to recommend? Texts about fragments to recommend: Here are the ones that come immediately to mind: The Notebooks of Joseph Joubert , Anne Carson’s If Not, Winter , Stevie Smith, “The Person from Porlock,” the poetry of Lorine Niedecker, Lucille Clifton, and Paul Celan, Tom Phillips’s A Humument , Ann Lauterbach’s essay on “the whole fragment,” Linda Nochlin, The Body in Pieces , Mary Ann Caws, The Surrealist Look , Heather McHugh, Poetry and Partiality . And the drawings of David Shrigley 7. And finally, is there anything you wish I would have asked? Please ask/answer if so. No, I’m happy with these questions!! The Beginning of Bluets (An Excerpt) 1. Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color. Suppose I were to speak this as though it were a confession; suppose I shredded my napkins as we spoke. It began slowly. An appreciation, an affinity. Then, one day, it became more serious. Then (looking into an empty teacup, its bottom stained with thin brown excrement coiled into the shape of a sea horse) it became somehow personal. 2. And so I fell in love with a color – in this case, the color blue – as if falling under a spell, a spell I fought to stay under and get out from under, in turns. 3. Well, and what of it? A voluntary delusion, you might say. That each blue object could be a kind of burning bush, a secret code meant for a single agent, an X on a map too diffuse ever to be unfolded in entirety but that contains the knowable universe. How could all the shreds of blue garbage bags stuck in brambles, or the bright blue tarps flapping over ever shanty and fish stand in the world, be, in essence, the fingerprints of God? I will try to explain this. 4. I admit that I may have been lonely. I know that loneliness can produce bolts of hot pain, a pain which, if it stays hot enough for long enough, can begin to stimulate, or to provoke – take your pick – an apprehension of the divine. ( This ought to arouse our suspicions. ) 5. But first, let us consider a sort of case in reverse. In 1867, after a long bout of solitude, the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé wrote to his friend Henri Cazalis: “These last months have been terrifying. My Thought has thought itself through and reached a Pure Idea. What the rest of me has suffered during that long agony, is indescribable.” Mallarmé described this agony as a battle that took place on God's “boney wing.” “I struggled with that creature of ancient and evil plumage – God – whom I fortunately defeated and threw to earth,” he told Cazalis with exhausted satisfaction. Eventually Mallarmé began replacing “le ciel” with “l'Azur” in his poems, in an effort to rinse references to the sky of religious connotations. “Fortunately,” he wrote Cazalis, “I am quite dead now.” 6. The half-circle of blinding turquoise ocean is this love's primal scene. That this blue exists makes my life a remarkable one, just to have seen it. To have seen such beautiful things. To find oneself placed in their midst. Choiceless. I returned there yesterday and stood again upon the mountain. 7. But what kind of love is it, really? Don't fool yourself and call it sublimity. Admit that you have stood in front of a little pile of ultramarine pigment in a glass cup at a museum and felt stinging desire. But to do what? Liberate it? Purchase it? Ingest it? There is so little blue food in nature – in fact blue in the wild tends to mark food to avoid (mold, poisonous berries) – that culinary advisers generally recommend against blue light, blue paint, and blue plates when and where serving food. But while the color may sap appetite in the most literal sense, it feeds it in others. You might want to reach out and disturb the pile of pigment, for example, first staining your fingers with it, then staining the world. You might want to dilute it and swim in it, you might want to rouge your nipples with it, you might want to paint a virgins robe with it. But you still wouldn't be accessing the blue of it. Not exactly. 8. Do not, however, make the mistake of thinking that all desire is yearning. “We love to contemplate blue, not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it,” wrote Goethe, and perhaps he is right. But I am not interested in longing to live in a world in which I already live. I don't want to yearn for blue things, and God forbid, for any “blueness.” Above all, I want to stop missing you. 9. So please do not write to tell me about any more beautiful blue things. To be fair, this book will not tell you about any, either. It will not say, Isn't X beautiful? Such demands are murderous to beauty. 10. The most I want to do is show you the end of my index finger. Its muteness. Bluets that did not make the final version of Bluets We think of a glowing chunk of sapphire, for instance, or a pane of Chartres stained glass, as luminous, and God knows they are. But such luminosity doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with clarity . To call something a false idol is to elevate it to the company of deities, even if one eventually casts it down (cf. Milton giving Lucifer the best speeches). For the truth is that I have never really understood what love and will have to do with each other. Following the blue, as if tracking a trail of decomposing crumbs left in the woods by a benevolent or absentminded stranger, is, at times, the best I can do. Joan Mitchell: so beautiful and athletic when young; so craggy and indomitable as she aged—in both cases, without vanity —like my Swedish grandparents, whom I barely knew, but whom I remember as being tan and fair at the same time, prematurely decimated by morning vodka with OJ and an endless boil of cigarettes. Do not think, however, that this is a scrapbook in which blue is the star and I its delirious fan. For it is a mistake to think of blue as separate from us. It is the bulge of the carotid against the bracket of your skin. It is the matrix of veins that enlaces your heart. At one point during this period, Klein—no stranger to grandiosity—“signed the sky.” He also arranged performances at which he dipped naked women from head to toe in IKB blue, rolled an enormous canvas out on the floor, and instructed the women to drag each other around on top of it while a string quartet played nearby. He called the women “human paintbrushes.” In both cases, I have arguably been nothing more than a child of illusion. Beethoven felt differently. “Can you lend me the Theory of Colours for a few weeks?” he wrote to a friend in 1820. “It is an important work. His last things are insipid.” There would seem to be a lesson here, but I am not prepared to describe it. “They feel as though if you fell into them you would be trapped and unable to breathe, choked and suffocated by the powdery pigment,” wrote Berger of Klein’s IKB monochromes. At times I look forward to this ravaging, if only because it represents all that I am supposed to fear, and because, if one manages to live long enough, it seems something of an inevitability, and looking forward to an inevitability seems at least an approximation of spiritual wisdom. In the far-off blue places, one finds oneself face to face with one’s stupidity. The cradle of it. It is a tremendous relief. Instead of sputtering forth a gargle, a howl, or an assertoric proposition, one can remain silent, stupefied. It is as if one’s tongue had been sewn, at long last, into its den. For one does not just seek oblivion. One can also find it. Sometimes one can even purchase it. Of the oblivion seekers themselves, Eberhardt says simply: “They are people who like their pleasure.” Caravaggio is a serious painter. He does not use blue. Neither does Goya, nor Velasquez. They are tenebrists , not denizens of the carnival. The blues of Picasso and Matisse, even in their most melancholy applications, do not strike me as altogether serious. The blues of Joseph Cornell, Hiroshige, Fra Angelico, and Cézanne, on the other hand, strike me as quite serious. The blue of Vermeer is simply too painful to discuss here. Let us leave the woman in blue alone with her letter. Let us leave her transfixed, standing on the bright edge of the earth, about to fall. In the Middle Ages, it was commonly thought that the most powerful mordant was a drunk man’s piss: yet another instance in which alcohol fastens the blue. But one can, I think, feel similarly bound, without the spirit. And when Cornell made Rose Hobart , he had to snip away 57½ minutes of the original film in order to showcase the object of his desire. Love, too, can sometimes be a condensery . On the other hand, speaking through the voice of the Egyptian god Thamus, Socrates comes down fairly forcefully for poison : “This discovery of yours [i.e. writing] will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth.” But what has a soul to do with memory? I admit that here I run out of ideas; I must again consult the Encyclopedia. “Much of our moral life depends on the peculiar ways in which we are embedded in time.” This has the aura of truth, but really it takes us no further. For what has morality to do with memory, or with a soul? Instead of a roving dialogue unfolding under the shade of a plane tree, this is more like a coarse talk show taking place in a hall of mirrors: no guests, one host. To do: make a list of people who seem to have found some dignity in their loneliness, and consult it when I feel constitutionally incapable of abiding my own. “Frequent tears have run the colours from my life” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning). Does it follow, in spiritual matters, that one’s doubt is surrounded by a plateau of certainty? “Whosoever unceasingly strives upward, him can we save,” wrote Goethe. But who is to say that faith isn’t the abyss, and doubt the surrounding peaks? For while we may have learned the names for these things, articulation is still a form of accommodation. We stutter to each other in a sort of shorthand, at times carving out shapely analogies. But we cannot be sure that we are talking about the same things, or that we are employing the same code. —But now you are talking as if you were drowning, your lungs swollen with expired air. Why not just give up the dive? In which case you could start swimming along the surface: a cold spot here, a warm patch there. Same pond. Remember: the knights pure enough to enter the presence of the Holy Grail never return. It is only those who have been “incompletely transformed” who come back to tell the tale. And some seekers don’t come back from the wilderness as shamans, but rather as brain-damaged vegetables whose musculature now resembles gelatin. Remember this if someone appears in a field of chollas, hands you a loincloth and a tab of pure blotter acid with one hand, and keeps the other out of sight. We might here note that Andy Warhol was also, for a time, riveted by blue pussy. His blue pussy was a beatific cat, gazing upward from the last page of his 1954 book of watercolors, 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy , looking as if he were happily anticipating “pussy heaven,” as Warhol elsewhere termed the feline afterlife. Perhaps, then, the mistake is to look for a vividness, or a sweetness, apart from illusion. In which case we waste much precious time warding off the specter of the mirage . In such moments, death itself may appear a light-hearted occurrence. Evan Lavender-Smith Interview: 1) Do you consider From Old Notebooks (FON) to be a kind of constraint writing? I guess it would have been more of a constraint if you'd only culled things from your notes instead of writing pieces specifically for/relating to FON. I certainly think that the book shares something important with constraint writing, as I think it does with conceptual writing, although I don't know that it fits neatly into either of these categories. Perhaps it's a kind of faux-constraint or -conceptual writing. The book's primary constraint—only things written in notebooks are allowed —sort of collapses under the weight of its own self-reflexivity; as you say, the entries become about the book itself, which I think ends up undermining or subjugating the austerity we associate with a more typical constraint-based writing. I suppose there's also a secondary constraint associated with the structure of the book and the ordering of the entries, this zany process whereby I classified entries according to a number (1 through 12, I think) referencing subject/theme, then deleted all of the entries leaving only their reference numbers, then arranged the numbers in something resembling sonata form, then plugged all the entries back into their placeholders. But that's a very secret, Roussel-type constraint, one that perhaps does not do much to create a noticeable intensity of constraint. And also I ended up making many revisions to the order of the entries that broke with the output of my secret formula. So yes, I think something like "sham constraint" writing is probably a more appropriate designation. 2) FON is very often self-reflective, often feels as if it is struggling to pin itself down. I'm wondering if the form (disjointed notes) allows for that kind of reflection to creep in repeatedly without weighing down the whole book. Does the ability to ask a question and then immediately head off in a totally different direction free you to be self-doubting without wallowing? Does this question make sense? Maybe I should ask more generally what kinds of content does this form afford that more traditionally structured work might not? I am hopeful that the self-reflexivity is less cloying in this book than I find it to be in other highly self-reflexive texts on account of what you mention, the ability of the book to veer off in another direction nearly every time an instance of explicit self-reflexivity occurs. I would say this is also the case with respect to the book's many instances of pathos and sentiment or even bathos and sentimentality: whenever the book broaches sentimentality in an entry, it is followed by another entry about something totally different, which can serve to undercut the sentiment of the previous entry. And this is probably also the case with the book's movement toward and immediately away from entries/fragments dealing with specific literary or philosophical texts/authors with which some readers may be unfamiliar, insofar as one entry might concern Kant's transcendental idealism and the next entry the color of my infant son's poo. The book is quite contrapuntal, in this respect, which is one of the things that original structuring scheme was meant to effect. As to alternative or unusual kinds of content afforded by the book's form, I'd like to think they are many, but I have always been most excited by what I perceive to be the book's presentation of a kind of form-becoming-content, this process by which the reader is engaged with form as he might otherwise be with character, or with setting, or with plot—part of what's driving the reading experience may be the reader's sense of an evolving form, a form that begins somewhat expositionally, that becomes somewhat conflicted and tense, and that finally achieves a kind of resolution. But, from another perspective, the book's form remains exactly the same from the first to the last page. My reading of the book would posit or project a kind of talk-to/talk-back relationship between form and content; each is strongly influencing our vision of the other, and perhaps, over the course of the book, they become difficult to distinguish. 3) In The Literary Absolute , Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy write that "each fragment stands for itself and for that from which it has been detached."(44) They go on to explain that the fragment is both "sub-work" (in the obvious sense of being only a small piece of the Work), but also "super-work", as it stands, complete in itself, outside the work and calls up the plural potentiality of the work. What do you make of this idea and how do you understand the relation of the fragment to the Work as a whole? I like this idea, but I may have some reservations about generalizing it too far beyond Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe's intended historical context. In my book, there are perhaps some entries/fragments that possess a sort of immanent intensity—entries seemingly able to "speak for themselves," so to speak—but there are also very many that do not. I think that the book itself would argue—in fact, I believe it explicitly does so—against this notion that any one of its constituent parts could be removed from the whole and still remain "meaningful" or "true." I imagine the parts of the whole, in this book, not as cogs in relation to some whole mechanics or machine, say, but instead as mechanical movement itself; perhaps the most important thing about any given entry is not what it says so much as the fact that it begins and ends. The book seems to me to be always moving forward in time and space; once a fragment has happened, the book is done with it; there's no turning back, no looking over the shoulder. There's an entry somewhere that goes something like "This book is nothing more than the trash can of my imagination," a potential interpretative model that has become something of a guiding light in my understanding of the book's form: the entries/fragments do certainly accrue, as trash accrues, but we don't necessarily feel compelled to go picking through this heap of trash. 3b) Fragments collected together become a whole that gestures to dozens of other, potential wholes. How, if at all, do you think about your book in relation to the preservation of potentiality? Of course I think about this mostly in relation to the fragments/entries concerning specific potential works, the entries that begin "Story about" or "Novel about," etc. As I continue to work to see many of the ideas in the book realized, even today—and as I will likely continue to do for a long time—I remain in a sort of dialogue with the book. So I find myself still writing the book, in some sense, even though the book is already written. One of my favorite things about From Old Notebooks is how it opens its own amorphous and evolving prefatory engagement with my future writing. I believe the book references the claim of some critics that Ulysses was written in such a way to make it appear as if it were presaged by passages in the New Testament, just as some have claimed that passages in the New Testament were written to create the appearance of having been forecasted by passages in the Old Testament (I believe there is a specific poetic figure denoting this kind of retroactive foreshadowing that I'm now failing to recall). I've always really loved that idea and perhaps still hold out hope that my future writing will serve to indirectly modify From Old Notebooks in these types of sly and tricky ways. Also, in relation to the above-mentioned trash-can model as one of many such potential models for the book's form, there's a way in which the book regularly returns to a reading of itself, always trying to understand how it is working and always coming up with new strategies for its own analysis. So it seems to me, with respect to the preservation of potentiality, that the book is also intent on preserving its own "infinite hermeneutics" (or at least an illusion thereof). 4) Can you talk a little about the way traditional prose standbys like character and narrative develop out of distinct and disconnected fragments? I feel like this definitely happens in FON as well as other texts that use a similar approach. I think it's important to address the burden placed on the reader vis-à-vis development when considering narratological staples like character and plot in relation to highly fragmented narratives. In my own reading experience of books in which neat narrative progression is supplanted by a fragmentary or elliptical progression, the reader oftentimes must begin committing to processes of projection and transference in order to eke out that amount of development she would require of narrative. I especially like this possibility for two reasons. The first is that in the absence of stable or "full" development, we may feel inclined, as readers, to fill in the blanks with manifestations of our own, consciousness-specific desire for coherence, which can create a sort of personalized Möbius strip out of reading and writing, artistic creation and reception becoming tangled, distinctions and distances between these categories becoming blurred. The second, which may follow from the first for the more theoretically inclined reader, is that this process may serve to expose our own prejudices about what narrative is supposed to do or achieve, thereby leading us to an anxious readerly condition in which we are forced to confront the poverty of our own understanding regarding the first principles of narrative art. These two effects—1) tangling the reading/writing experience, and 2) forcing the reader's reconsideration of artistic rule—are, to my thinking, among the most powerful effects available to writing. 5) To what extent does how you label your texts matter? What is the difference between notes , fragments , thoughts , and aphorisms ? Basically, is taxonomy important? Supplementary question: In FON , there is a passage: "Why am I so averse to classifying FON as poetry-because poetry doesn't sell." If you want, this might be a good place to talk about genre classifications as well. This answer will surely seem coy or naïve to some people, but the fact is that my own tedious and protracted grappling with the strictures and arbitrariness of generic classification has finally given way to a vision of an imaginative writing largely unfettered by those academic or commercial or cultural pressures which have served to delimit the typological boundaries of art and language. That seems to be a goal for me, anyway, to work to maintain a position of restless and relentless searching in relation to form, and to resist, as best I can, pressures associated with the commodification or canonization of language and form. Of course that position is itself probably overdetermined by pressures both within and beyond my comprehension—e.g. it is very reactionary; very Modernist, in a sense—and it also strikes me to be of a piece with a rather antiquated and distasteful image of artistic creation and the "author-function," but nonetheless it's what I seem to prefer. 6) Are there other texts (of or about fragments) that you'd like to recommend? Here are some things I've recently read and enjoyed in which I felt the fragment was the text's dominant or near-dominant mode of engagement with narrative/poetic/philosophical development and progression. Mean Free Path , Ben Lerner Bluets , Maggie Nelson Varieties of Disturbance , Lydia Davis Notes from a Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel , Evan S. Connell AVA , Carole Maso Reader's Block , David Markson Deepstep Come Shining , C.D. Wright The Passion According to G.H . by Clarice Lispector The Crab Nebula , Éric Chevillard The Book of Questions , Edmond Jabès Monsieur Teste , Paul Valéry Mourning Diary , Roland Barthes The Arcades Project , Walter Benjamin Philosophical Investigations , Ludwig Wittgenstein "Diapsalmata," from Either/Or , Søren Kierkegaard Unfortunately, I haven't read much theory discussing the fragment as a narratological device, although I did enjoy the Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe book you mention above. 7) And finally, is there anything you wish I would have asked? Please ask/answer if so. I should say that From Old Notebooks is currently out of print, as I, perhaps bullheadedly, insisted that the publisher remove the book from their catalog when I discovered that they'd been implementing a pay-to-publish scheme, which, given the revelation of its specific details, I felt to be manipulative and unethical. There are many used copies floating around, though, and I am hopeful that the book will be reprinted someday. From Old Notebooks Excerpts NB: The first excerpt covers the first few pages of the book. The second covers pages 16 and 17. These excerpts show how FON develops from a series of ideas for texts to a more varied series of notes that further reveal the character, preoccupations, and desires of the writer. Excerpt 1: Short story about a church on the ocean floor. Congregation in scuba gear. Memoir in which narrator struggles to describe her childhood – offering two or more contrary accounts of the same event – having been raised by divorced parents with unresolved anger toward each other such that discrepancies between parents' accounts of each other's involvement in her childhood have damaged narrator's memory beyond repair. Academic essay entitled “ Cute Title: Serious Subtitle : On the Preponderance of Precious Subtitling in Academic Essays.” Novel in chapters, each chapter spanning one year, 1977 – 2006. In lieu of chapter number, photograph of Tom Cruise's face from that year. Story about a garbage man who cannot fathom how anyone might be content living a life not wholly dedicated to being a garbage man. Excerpt 2 Something entitled “From Old Notebooks,” simply a transcription of entries from these notebooks. Story involving a couple whose divorce proceedings center upon the allocation of the books contained in the family library. Living off-campus on the outskirts of a city where I knew no one, in a studio apartment the size of a large walk-in closet, I would occupy myself in the evenings with and obsessive study of the shadows of my hands against the wall as I faux-conducted piano concertos; and later, after having taken three Ambien, intimate conversations with bits of magma crawling across the carpet that had detached from the glowing wires on my electric space heater. That same year, in a fit of manic loneliness, I invited a raccoon into my apartment with a trail of cracker crumbs. Do not let Jackson and Sofia live off-campus as undergraduates. Cached auto-complete entry options that appear when I type the letter e into the search field in the toolbar of my internet browser: evan lavender-smith “evan lavender-smith” “evan lavender smith” evan + “lavender-smith” evan + “lavender smith” evan + lavender + smith The letter f: fear of death Contemporary authors who construct a thick barrier between themselves and their readers such that authorial vulnerability is revealed negatively, i.e., via the construction of the barrier. If Team USA had a mascot, it would be God. Character who refers to Wellbutrin as his muse. “I hope to one day storm out on Terry Gross during an interview because I am that kind of eccentric famous author.” ----------------- Notes that were cut from From Old Notebooks Short story about literary executors sifting through the Gmail account of a recently deceased author. It would better suit me to drive a hybrid hearse. First line of a story: "The M.F.A. in creative writing was the degree Shontiqua had her sights set on . " Story/mock-essay: conflation of the obnoxious languages of U.S.A. patriotism and M.F.A. workshops. The flag at half-mast because the market’s way down today. Awakened from dream . . . saw figure in arrangement of stars . . . closed eyes . . . dream changed. . . . The smile is perhaps the human equivalent to the dog's wagging tail, with an important caveat: the human can fake a smile. Can a man fake an erection? To do philosophy, Back then I was doing some philosophy —what a ridiculoususage. It is thanks to the proud philosopher who, attempting to justify his existence, humbles himself to a position of activity. The greatest act of fraud on the part of philosophy is that it attempts to exist outside of time , the word of the philosopher presented to us as the Word. This is what Derrida means to criticize when he praises Nietzsche's pluralism, or Levi-Strauss's mythopoetics: Philosophy cannot pretend to be above or beyond the form of the book. The question of being flashes through us , mind and body. The corporealization of the question of being. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must—write? The proliferation of M.F.A. programs in creative writing has given rise to the whirlpool of conservatism which is contemporary American literature. Surely it's no coincidence that I began From Old Notebooks shortly after I stopped seeing my therapist. Somewhere I read Edmund Wilson refer to Beckett's late style as terminal . I understand why he would say so, but I would prefer to reserve that term for David Markson's late style. Random House settles out of court to pay $2.35 million in genre-damages made by James Frey against his readers. What if the publisher of F.O.N. markets the book as a novel , and it later comes to light that the book was in fact a memoir . . . ? That the problem of death has been outmoded is the grand illusion of philosophy after Heidegger. The modern philosopher says, "Death is not my problem. Being is my problem." The modern philosopher might call death an adolescent problem , and being an adult problem . But what he fails to recognize is that the concept of being is merely an abstraction of the concept of death. (He forgets that being is incidental to non-being, and that the latter is only conceivable by way of analogy to death .) The modern philosopher wants to pretend that death is irrelevant to his project, but it is the impetus for his project. Surely the reason I lash out against it is that I am jealous of poetry. Surely contemporary poetry does not deserve my wrath . Someone could read the book with an almanac in hand and point to certain entries which suggest the concurrence of public events (e.g., terror, war, football), thereby assigning dates to those entries. As if. Do people auction their personal diaries on eBay? I might consider auctioning these notebooks if the book is ever published, in keeping with the spirit of the book, that is, the spirit of facile self-disclosure. The poem is dead. Long live the poem! The ending of F.O.N. might contain the beginning of the next book—a sequel entitled Work-In-Progress . F.O.N. might blurinto W.I.P. The point of physical distinction between the two books would be arbitrary. Work-In-Progress would be written in the same form as F.O.N., but it would be also written in an entirely different form, as the (conception of the) form of the book "F.O.N. + W.I.P." is an evolving (conception of) form, a (conception of) form that is always becominganother (conception of) form. No matter how much I want to force From Old Notebooks to become something called Work-In-Progress , I won't be able to: any contrived becoming of that sort would represent a violence on the form of the book. I'm going to have to take a leap at some point, though, a leap out of the book, like a leap from a burning building. “The Voidhood of the Void; or, An Archaeology of Nothing.” Rather than enact the high drama of self-reflexivity, the new writing will accept self-reflexivity as status quo —metafiction's birthday is passed, no need to keep celebrating—in the tradition of the documentary film, the reality TV show, and the internet blog. Such a writing must, by definition, be genreless, or make the question of genre irrelevant: hence, the post-generic . Perhaps my next novel will be a one-page poem. (shrink)
Truth-maker analyses construe truth as existence of proof, a well-known example being that offered by Wittgenstein in theTractatus. The paper subsumes the intuitionistic view of truth as existence of proof under the general truth-maker scheme. Two generic constraints on truth-maker analysis are noted and positioned with respect to the writings of Michael Dummett and theTractatus. Examination of the writings of Brouwer, Heyting and Weyl indicates the specific notions of truth-maker and existence that are at issue in the intuitionistic truth-maker (...) analysis, namely that of proof in the sense of proof-object (Brouwer, Heyting) and existence in the nonpropositional sense of a judgement abstract (Weyl). Furthermore, possible anticipations in the writings of Schlick and Pfänder are noted. (shrink)
Imagination has always been a mysterious issue for modern philosophy and psychology. In this paper, however, I will not deal with modern theories of imagination; instead, I will suggest an alternative notion of imaginal power by stepping back toward Persian illuminative thought within which we may glimpse a hint of a transcendent concept of imagination as the source of human subjectivity and its power to create the object and the world. My objective here is to extend some noetic aspects of (...) this concept and extract further conclusions theoretically. To this end, I will first introduce a brief account of the noetic characteristic of the Illuminationist perspective of the imagination, then I outline aspects of its efficiency which may shed some light on the modern debate on the subject and its relation to the object. (shrink)
According to the main tradition, knowledge is either direct or indirect: direct when it intuits some perfectly obvious fact of introspection or a priori necessity; indirect when based on deductive proof stemming ultimately from intuited premises. Simple and compelling though it is, this Cartesian conception of knowledge must be surmounted to avoid skepticism. Seeing that the straight and narrow of deductive proof leads nowhere, C. I. Lewis wisely opts for a highroad of probabilistic inference. But how can one arrive at (...) a realm inaccessible through direct knowledge having set out from one thus accessible? How could probabilistic inference offer any help? There are two different answers to these questions in Lewis's writings, and he moves from one to the other under pressure of well known objections from perceptual relativity. Our action divides into three acts, which we review in turn. (shrink)
Philosophers have long sought to explain perceptual constancy—the fact that objects appear to remain the same color, size and shape despite changes in the illumination condition, perspective and the relative distance—in terms of a mechanism that actively categorizes variable stimuli under the same pre-formed conceptual categories. Contemporary representationalists, on the other hand, explain perceptual constancy in terms of a modular mechanism that automatically discounts variation in the visual field to represent the stable properties of objects. In (...) this paper I argue that while the former view is unmotivated by empirical evidence, the later fails to account for inter- and intra-personal variability, the influence of expectations on constancy, and the systematic and normal failures of color constancy. A Bayesian approach that builds on the representational tradition in psychology solves both problems. (shrink)
The problem of opportunity discovery is at the heart of entrepreneurial activity. Cognitive limitations determine the search for and the analysis of information and, as a consequence, constrain the identification of opportunities. Moreover, typical personal characteristics – locus of control, need for independence and need for achievement – suggest that entrepreneurs will tend to take a central position in their stakeholder environments and thus fail to adapt to the complexity of stakeholder relationships in their entrepreneurial activity. We approach this problem (...) by adopting a network perspective on stakeholder management. We propose a heuristic approach of stakeholder analysis, which requires two mappings of the entrepreneurial constituents. The first mapping focuses on current interactions between the entrepreneur and their stakeholders, while the second focuses on a specific issue and the stakeholders that constitute it. In effect, such a stakeholder analysis requires entrepreneurs to use the complexity of stakeholder relationships in order to go beyond their cognitive limitations and thus facilitate the discovery of new opportunities. As we will argue, this has clear implications for the ethics and activities of entrepreneurs. (shrink)
We highlight the need to focus on the underlying determinants and production mechanisms to fully understand the nature of facial expression of emotion and to settle the theoretical debate about the meaning of motor expression. Although emotion theorists have generally remained rather vague about the details of the process, this has been a central concern of componential appraisal theories. We describe the fundamental assumptions and predictions of this approach regarding the patterning of facial expressions for different emotions. We also review (...) recent evidence for the assumption that specific facial muscle movements may be reliable symptoms of certain appraisal outcomes and that facial expressions unfold over time on the basis of a sequence of appraisal check results. (shrink)
In this paper we show how recent concepts from Dynamic Logic, and in particular from Dynamic Epistemic logic, can be used to model and interpret quantum behavior. Our main thesis is that all the non-classical properties of quantum systems are explainable in terms of the non-classical flow of quantum information. We give a logical analysis of quantum measurements (formalized using modal operators) as triggers for quantum information flow, and we compare them with other logical operators previously used to model various (...) forms of classical information flow: the “test” operator from Dynamic Logic, the “announcement” operator from Dynamic Epistemic Logic and the “revision” operator from Belief Revision theory. The main points stressed in our investigation are the following: (1) The perspective and the techniques of “logical dynamics” are useful for understanding quantum information flow. (2) Quantum mechanics does not require any modification of the classical laws of “static” propositional logic, but only a non-classical dynamics of information. (3) The main such non-classical feature is that, in a quantum world, all information-gathering actions have some ontic side-effects. (4) This ontic impact can affect in its turn the flow of information, leading to non-classical epistemic side-effects (e.g. a type of non-monotonicity) and to states of “objectively imperfect information”. (5) Moreover, the ontic impact is non-local: an information-gathering action on one part of a quantum system can have ontic side-effects on other, far-away parts of the system. (shrink)
The article sorts through some uses of the phrase "playing God," finding that the phrase does not so much state a principle as invoke a perspective, a perspective from which scientific and technological innovations are assessed. It suggests the relevance of a perspective in which "God" is taken seriously and "play" playfully. Keywords: genetic engineering, playing God CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
This paper analyses various approaches to the concept of a ‘safety culture’ in terms of their epistemological assumptions regarding the nature of learning. As a result of this analysis, the study proposes a relational-interpretive framework for the promotion of safety in health care, which is based on relational theories and the philosophy of conceptual pragmatism as this can be used to integrate the various strands of current safety research. In particular, the approach based on a relational-interpretive perspective can bridge (...) the apparent dualist gap that exists between the rational objectivist perspective and the relativist perspective on the role of learning in developing a safety culture. According to the relational-interpretive perspective of safety management that is proposed here, organizational members need to give continuous attention to the accepted organizational norms and values, which shape the safety culture. A case study from a health care safety project in Sweden is utilized to illustrate the ideas advanced in this paper. (shrink)
We performed a quantitative meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies to identify brain areas which are commonly engaged in social and visuo-spatial perspective taking. Specifically, we compared brain activation found for visual-perspective taking to activation for false belief reasoning, a task which requires awareness of perspective to understand someone’s mistaken belief about the world which contrasts with reality. In support of a previous account by Perner & Leekam (2008), a meta-analytic conjunction analysis found activation for false belief reasoning (...) and visual perspective taking in the left but not the right dorsal temporo-parietal junction. This fits with the idea that the left dorsal TPJ is responsible for representing different perspectives in a domain-general fashion. Moreover, the conjunction found activation in the precuneus and the left middle occipital gyrus close to the putative Extrastriate Body Area. The precuneus is linked to mental-imagery processes, which may aid in the construction of a different perspective. The Extrastriate Body Area may be engaged due to imagined body-transformations when another’s viewpoint is adopted. (shrink)
Legal terms have a special status at the interface between language and law. Adopting the general framework developed by Jackendoff and the concepts competence and performance as developed by Chomsky, it is shown that legal terms cannot be fully accounted for unless we set up a category of abstract objects. This idea corresponds largely to the classical view of terminology, which has been confronted with some challenges recently. It is shown that for legal terms, arguments against abstract objects (...) are not pertinent. As abstract objects are not natural, it is important to consider their creation. Two types of creation are distinguished and illustrated, one for new concepts and one for terms corresponding to existing general language concepts. In the latter case, it is important for the abstract object to remain close enough to the intuitive prototype. At the same time, legal terms as abstract objects are shown to have a natural place in relation to legal theory. (shrink)
It has recently been suggested by Shaw (2007) that the distinction between voluntary active euthanasia, such as giving a patient a lethal overdose with the intention of ending that patient's life, and voluntary passive euthanasia, such as removing a patient from a ventilator, is much less obvious than is commonly acknowledged in the literature. This is argued by suggesting a new perspective that more accurately reflects the moral features of end-of-life situations. The argument is simply that if we consider (...) the body of a mentally competent patient who wants to die, a kind of ‘unwarranted’ life support, then the distinction collapses. We argue that all Shaw has provided is a perspective that makes the conclusion that there is little distinction between voluntary active euthanasia and voluntary passive euthanasia only seemingly more palatable. In doing so he has yet to convince us that this perspective is superior to other perspectives and thus more accurately reflects the moral features of the situations pertaining to this issue. (shrink)
This paper presents a practitioner's perspective on the use of systematic analytical techniques to improve the practice of international negotiations, primarily in a multilateral context. A generic model of the negotiation process is presented and the utility of various analytical methodologies is evaluated against the component functions described by the model. Overall, analytical tools for negotiation support are viewed as most useful in the prenegotiation phase. Conclusions are based primarily on practical experience, not on theories of negotiation.
The current discussion on the role of the (European) universities often starts off with a perspective on the university as a scientific and/or pedagogical institution and consequently runs into a conflict between both logics in which each element is somehow devalued from the other perspective. Therefore, it may be productive to analyse the university from a standpoint in between, a perspective of knowledge as such. In order to conceptualise such a third perspective of knowledge, the history (...) of the European university is reconstructed and interpreted as a process of reflection on the ‘spiral of knowledge’. Before this background the idea of the university is renewed in terms of knowledge and summarised in the idea of a ‘deliberate university’. (shrink)
The “New Natural Law” Theory (NNL) of Germain Grisez, John Finnis, Joseph Boyle, and their collaborators offers a distinctive account of intentional action, which underlies a moral theory that aims to justify many aspects of traditional morality and Catholic doctrine. -/- In fact, we show that the NNL is committed to premises that entail the permissibility of many actions that are irreconcilable with traditional morality and Catholic doctrine, such as elective abortions. These consequences follow principally from two aspects of the (...) NNL. The first aspect is its distinctive version of the planning theory of intention, in which adopting the 'first-person perspective' of an agent is a sufficient, and not merely necessary, condition for determining the nature of his intentional action; this planning theory rests upon an implicitly Cartesian conception of human behavior, in which behavior chosen by an agent has no intrinsic “intentionalness” apart from what he confers upon it as part of his plan. The second aspect is the NNL's distinctive account of basic human goods' incommensurability, according to which there is no common factor shared by basic human goods that allows them to be comparatively ranked in any way that directs practical deliberation. -/- The entailments of these two aspects of the NNL, we argue, amount to a reductio ad absurdum. Pace the proponents of the NNL account, we sketch an alternative hylomorphic conception of intentional action that avoids untoward moral implications by grounding human agency in the exercise of basic powers that are either (a) essential constituents of human nature or (b) acquired through participation in social practices. This conception of intentional action provides a stronger foundation for natural law theory. (shrink)
This article is an attempt to evaluate the Oregon plan from the perspective of a Scandinavian national health care system. The Nordic welfare states are marked by a strong emphasis on equality. As an example of an egalitarian system we present the Norwegian health care model in part one. In part two, the arguments in favor of a one tier system in Norway are presented and compared to Oregon's two tier system. Although we argue, in part three, that a (...) comparison of the degree of explicitness in the prioritization process shows that Norway has much to learn from Oregon, we do believe that the Norwegian system has some attractive elements that may function as an important corrective. In part four we present the Norwegian Guidelines for priority-setting and discuss the weight assigned to the severity of disease criterion. It is argued that the exclusion of information about the severity of disease partly explains the counterintuitive ranking of treatment-condition pairs in Oregon's initial method based on the principle of health maximization. A normative analysis of the conflicting norms of efficiency and equality of results is called for. The final part of the paper is devoted to the problem of rigidity. Henry J. Aaron has argued that the Oregon system is insensitive to inter-individual variations within each diagnosis-treatment pair. This objection is a severe one, since the system might end up treating patients unfairly on the individual level. To overcome this problem, we suggest a selection rule that should be more capable of dealing with the problem of rigidity. Keywords: equality, fairness, one tier system, prioritization, severity of disease, rigidity CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
This article is an attempt to evaluate the Oregon plan from the perspective of a Scandinavian national health care system. The Nordic welfare states are marked by a strong emphasis on equality. As an example of an egalitarian system we present the Norwegian health care model in part one. In part two, the arguments in favor of a one tier system in Norway are presented and compared to Oregon's two tier system. Although we argue, in part three, that a (...) comparison of the degree of explicitness in the prioritization process shows that Norway has much to learn from Oregon, we do believe that the Norwegian system has some attractive elements that may function as an important corrective. In part four we present the Norwegian Guidelines for priority-setting and discuss the weight assigned to the severity of disease criterion. It is argued that the exclusion of information about the severity of disease partly explains the counterintuitive ranking of treatment-condition pairs in Oregon's initial method based on the principle of health maximization. A normative analysis of the conflicting norms of efficiency and equality of results is called for. The final part of the paper is devoted to the problem of rigidity. Henry J. Aaron has argued that the Oregon system is insensitive to inter-individual variations within each diagnosis-treatment pair. This objection is a severe one, since the system might end up treating patients unfairly on the individual level. To overcome this problem, we suggest a selection rule that should be more capable of dealing with the problem of rigidity. (shrink)
I argue that the issues of foodquality, in the most general sense includingpurity, safety, and ethics, can no longer beresolved through ``normal'' science andregulation. The reliance on reductionistscience as the basis for policy andimplementation has shown itself to beinadequate. I use several borderline examplesbetween drugs and foods, particularly coffeeand sucrose, to show that ``quality'' is now acomplex attribute. For in those cases thesubstance is either a pure drug, or a bad foodwith drug-like properties; both are marketed asif they were foods. (...) An example of theinadequacy of old ways of thinking is obesity,whose causes are as yet outside the purview ofmedicine, while its effects constitute anepidemic disease. The new drug/food syndromeneeds a new sort of science, what we call``post-normal.'' This is inquiry at the contestedinterfaces of science and policy; typically itdeals with issues where facts are uncertain,values in dispute, stakes high, and decisionsurgent. With the perspective of post-normalscience, we can better understand some keyissues. We see that ``safety'' is different from``risk,'' being pragmatic, moral, and recursive.Also, we understand that an appropriatefoundation for regulation and ethics is not somuch ``objectivity'' as ``awareness.'' In an agewhen ``consumers'' are becoming concerned``citizens,'' the relevant science must becomepost-normal. (shrink)
In recent years there has been increasing evidence that an area in the brain called the cortical midline structures (CMSs) is implicated in what has been termed self-related processing. This article will discuss recent evidence for the relation between CMS and self-consciousness in light of several important philosophical distinctions. First, we should distinguish between being a self (i.e., being a subject of conscious experience) and being aware of being a self (i.e., being able to think about oneself as such). While (...) the former consists in having a first-person perspective on the world, the latter requires the ability to explicitly represent one’s own perspective as such. Further, we should distinguish between being aware of oneself “as subject” and being aware of oneself “as object.” The focus of existing studies investigating the relation between CMS and self has been predominantly on the ability to think about oneself (and in particular thinking of oneself “as object”), while the more basic aspects involved in being a self have been neglected. However, it is important to widen the scope of the cognitive neuroscience to include the latter, not least because this might have important implications for a better understanding of disorders of the self, such as those involved in schizophrenia. In order to do so, cognitive neuroscience should work together with philosophy, including phenomenology. Second, we need to distinguish between personal and subpersonal level explanations. It will be argued that although it is important to respect this distinction, in principle, some subpersonal facts can enter into constitutive conditions of personal-level phenomena. However, in order for this to be possible, one needs both careful conceptual analysis and knowledge about relevant cognitive mechanisms. (shrink)
Ford, Norman M Doctors and nurses understand the personal dignity of their patients and their natural desire to be healthy and happy. The aged with failing memories or mental impairments are persons whose dignity and moral worth remain intact. They also know patients differ in their personal circumstances, their faith, their stages of life's journey and their attitude to sickness and approach of death. This awareness enables them to adequately perform their valuable professional services from a subject centred perspective (...) as well as from an objective approach based on our shared rational human nature. All this needs to be re-affirmed for patients, especially the aged, those living with post coma unresponsiveness, Alzheimer's disease and any other unconscious state. (shrink)
Bioinformatics is a new field of study whose ethical implications involve a combination of bioethics, computer ethics and information ethics. This paper is an attempt to view some of these implications from the perspective of Buddhism. Privacy is a central concern in both computer/information ethics and bioethics, and with information technology being increasingly utilized to process biological and genetic data, the issue has become even more pronounced. Traditionally, privacy presupposes the individual self but as Buddhism does away with the (...) ultimate conception of an individual self, it has to find a way to analyse and justify privacy that does not presuppose such a self. It does this through a pragmatic conception that does not depend on a positing of the substantial self, which is then found to be unnecessary for an effective protection of privacy. As it may be possible one day to link genetic data to individuals, the Buddhist conception perhaps offers a more flexible approach, as what is considered to be integral to an individual person is not fixed in objectivity but depends on convention. (shrink)
Research Objective: This study focuses on ADs in the Netherlands and introduces a cross-cultural perspective by comparing it with other countries. Methods: A questionnaire was sent to a panel comprising 1621 people representative of the Dutch population. The response was 86%. Results: 95% of the respondents didn't have an AD, and 24% of these were not familiar with the idea of drawing up an AD. Most of those familiar with ADs knew about the Advanced Euthanasia Directive (AED, 64%). Both (...) low education and the presence of a religious conviction that plays an important role in one's life increase the chance of not wanting to draw up an AD. Also not having experienced a request for euthanasia from someone else, and the inconceivability of asking for euthanasia yourself, increase the chance of not wanting to draw up an AD. Discussion: This study shows that the subjects of palliative care and end-of-life-decision-making were very much dominated by the issue of euthanasia in the Netherlands. The AED was the best known AD; and factors that can be linked to euthanasia play an important role in whether or not people choose to draw up an AD. This differentiates the Netherlands from other countries and, when it comes to ADs, the global differences between countries and cultures are still so large that the highest possible goals, at this moment in time, are observing and possibly learning from other cultural settings. (shrink)