On the day before Christmas, 1170, Robert de Broc, member of a family of royal servants that had taken up King Henry II's fierce opposition to Thomas Becket, seized a horse bringing goods to the archbishop and cut off its tail. The next day, Archbishop Thomas noted this incident after his Christmas sermon when renewing his excommunication of Robert and several others, and he discussed it again four days later in his initial meeting with the men who would (...) shortly murder him. The excision of the horse's tail appears in five of the biographies of the martyr and subsequently in the national chronicles of Roger of Howden and Ralph of Diceto. Why did a minor act of cruelty inflicted on a horse seem so noteworthy to contemporaries? The sources recording it resound with the rich Latin vocabulary of shame: “dedecus, contemptus, ignominia, dehonestatio, opprobrium.” Robert's highly symbolic act, part of a pattern of harassment by the Brocs, was designed not just to threaten Becket but also to humiliate him. (shrink)
What rights govern heterosexual and homosexual behaviors? Two distinguished philosophers debate this important issue in Sexual Orientation and Human Rights. Laurence M. Thomas argues that a society which has the constitutional resources to protect hate groups can protect homosexuals without valorizing the homosexual life-style. He defends the view that the Bible cannot warrant the venom that, in the name of religion, is often expressed against homosexuals. Michael E. Levin defends the unorthodox view that the aversion some people experience toward (...) homosexuality deserves respect. He further argues that while homosexuals enjoy the same rights as others to be free of violence and discrimination, they do not have more extensive rights. (shrink)
Moreau sketches here with enthusiasm the large features of Aquinas’s epistemology. He is not, as he makes clear, a Thomist either by training or by avowal. The book is not, then, a specialist’s monograph or dogmatic treatise. It is Moreau’s attempt to hear what Aquinas will say to the great questions. The attempt is largely successful in attending to Aquinas’s remarks, though it does not catch their ambiguities.
This is an ambitious venture into the thicket of medieval philosophy: what is the true object of metaphysics? The book begins with a number of texts, printed after various manuscripts through which the author hopes to illustrate the development of a certain chain of ideas. After a short introduction on the Aristotelian and Arabic sources of the whole problematics, there are three fundamental solutions of the question: God is one of the many subjects of metaphysics, God is the cause of (...) the subject of metaphysics, God is a part of the subject of metaphysics. These major alternatives are followed by their respective development in the works of later authors. Besides the more usual writers like St. Thomas, Scotus, R. Bacon, Siger of Brabant, Henry of Ghent, we are given interesting and penetrating accounts of the ideas of men like Augustinus Triumphus of Ancona, Petrus of Alvernia, John Quidort of Paris, etc. Despite the first impression provoked by the table of contents this book is not a herbarium of rarities or curiosities but a highly concentrated and often fascinating study of the real topics of all metaphysics and through this perhaps of the very possibility of metaphysics as such.--M. J. V. (shrink)
Since the introduction of the computer in the early 1950's, the investigation of artificial intelligence has followed three chief avenues: the discovery of self-organizing systems; the building of working models of human behavior, incorporating specific psychological theories; and the building of "heuristic" machines, without bias in favor of humanoid characteristics. While this work has used philosophical logic and its results may illustrate philosophical problems, the artificial intelligence program is by now an intricate, organized specialty. This book, therefore, has a quite (...) specialized audience of its own although it can be very valuable to those philosophers who are interested and competent in using this pioneering material. Five scientific papers report attempts to solve five different kinds of problems. Bertram Raphael describes an attempt to build a memory structure that converts the information input into a systematic model by "understanding" the informational statements as they are made. Daniel Bobrow's machine can set up algebraic equations from informal verbal statements. M. Ross Quillan asks: "What sort of representational format can permit the 'meanings' of words to be stored?" Thomas Evans' machine, Analogy, serves as a model for "pattern-recognition" rather than the "common-property" method of semantic memory. Fischer Black has developed a logical deduction mechanism for question-answering which keeps track of where we are and avoids endless deduction. The editor and John McCarthy contribute more general chapters, providing the historical background of cybernetics, and dealing with the problem of formalizing a concept of causality. Minsky ends the volume with his view that our convictions on dualism, consciousness, free will, and the like are used in the attempt to explain the complicated interactions between parts of our model of ourselves.--M. B. M. (shrink)
Neo-scholasticism is supposed to be a "creative" development of the spirit of Thomism and its application to contemporary philosophical themes. Yet its partisans as well as its adversaries largely ignore the fact that many of the neo-scholastic thinkers are increasingly applying the transcendental method to reach the major ideas of Aquinas. The thesis of the present book is that the "transcendental method," viewed in a large sense as stretching from Kant to Heidegger, is an integral part of the thought of (...) several well-known neo-Thomists, and that it touches the work of many others. The author studies extensively the work of J. Maréchal, who was the first to attempt an integration of transcendental idealism into the realistic metaphysics of the school of Saint Thomas. Following a review of minor figures like Grégoire, Defever, and Isaye, short chapters investigate the critical approach of certain important contemporary Catholic thinkers to the transcendental method. A highly interesting part of the book treats the neo-scholastic "dialogue" with Heidegger, which is especially important in the work of the most powerful theological mind of contemporary Roman Catholicism, Karl Rahner. Finally, Muck shows, in the chapters on A. Marc, B. Lonergan, and E. Coreth, three examples of fully developed philosophical systems worked out by means of an extensive use of the transcendental method.—M. J. V. (shrink)
The Wadsworth series of Studies in Philosophical Criticism under the general editorship of Alexander Sesonske, presents collections of critical writings related to a single classical philosophical text for use in undergraduate teaching. Although others of Berkeley's writings are drawn upon by various authors, the selections in this volume are divided into five problem areas which are covered in the Principles. Many of the essays present strong points of view and should help involve students in the dialogue of philosophy. In some, (...) Berkeley serves chiefly as the occasion for the exercise of contemporary philosophical techniques. This accords with the intended function of the series to show the relevance of historical texts to current issues, openly acknowledging that each time teaches the philosophical past in its own terms. The section "Minds and Ideas" includes essays by S. A. Grave, Turbayne, and Monroe Beardsley. The section "Perception and Existence" reprints Mill on the Permanent Possibilities of Sensation, Hume on Personal Identity, Chisholm on Phenomenalism, and an essay by Konrad Marc-Wogau on the Esse-Est-Percipi principle. The third section is "Philosophy and Science." It has two essays, one by T. E. Jessop, the other, Popper's note on Berkeley as precursor of Mach and Einstein, which makes considerable use of De Motu. "Primary and Secondary Qualities" are treated in a selection from Thomas Reid, and an essay by Jonathan Bennett. The final section, "The Existence of God," consists of articles by Bennett and E. J. Furlong. There is a short general bibliography and a list of critical essays which includes many items from the 1950s and 1960s on each sectional topic.--M. B. M. (shrink)
I have three aims in this essay. I want to offer an example of an interdisciplinary historical inquiry combining literary criticism with the relatively new field of critical legal studies. I intend to use this historical inquiry to argue that the ambiguity of literary texts might better be understood in terms of an era’s social contradictions rather than in terms of the inherent qualities of literary language or rhetoric and, conversely, that a text’s ambiguity can help us expose the contradictions (...) masked by an era’s dominant ideology. I try to prove my assertion by applying my method to Herman Melville’s three most famous short works—“Benito Cereno,” “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” and Bill Budd, Sailor—works dealing with the law and lawyers and widely acknowledged as ambiguous.1 I will base my critical inquiry into these stories on Melville’s relationship with his father-in-law, Lemuel Shaw, who, while sitting as the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts from 1830 to 1860, wrote some of the most important opinions in what Roscoe Pound has called “the formative era of American law.”2Before I get started, I should clarify what this study does not entail. By using Shaw and his legal decisions in conjunction with Melville’s fiction, I am not conducting a positivistic influence study. My method will not depend on the positivist assumption that Shaw’s legal opinions can be used to illuminate Melville’s texts only when his direct knowledge of Shaw’s opinions can be proved. Nor will I limit myself to a traditional psychoanalytic reading: my emphasis is on political and social issues, and too often these issues are deflected by translating them into psychological ones. At the same time, I recognize that critics concerned with political and social issues too often neglect questions raised by a writer’s individual situation. I compare Shaw to Melville not to reduce Melville’s politics to psychology but to prevent a political study from neglecting the political implications of psychology, to remind us—as the title of Fredric Jameson’s book The Political Unconscious reminds us—that psychological questions always have political implications. 1. See Herman Melville, “Benito Cereno,” “Bartleby,” and Billy Budd, Sailor, “Billy Budd, Sailor” and Other Stories, ed. Harold Beaver ; all further references to these works will be included in the text.2. See Roscoe Pound, The Formative Era of American Law . For discussions of Melville and Lemuel Shaw, see Charles Roberts Anderson, Melville in the South Seas, Columbia University Studies in English and Comparative Literature, no. 138 , pp. 432-33; Charles H. Foster, “Something in Emblems: A Reinterpretation of Moby-Dick,” New England Quarterly 34 : 3-35; Robert L. Gale, “Bartleby—Melville’s Father-in-Law,” Annali sezione Germanica, Istituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli 5 : 57-72; Keith Huntress, “ ‘Guinea” of White-Jacket and Chief Justice Shaw,” American Literature 43 : 639-41; Carolyn L. Karcher, Shadow over the Promised Land: Slavery, Race and Violence in Melville’s America , pp. 9-11 and 40; John Stark, “Melville, Lemuel Shaw, and ‘Bartleby,’ “ in Bartleby, the Inscrutable: A Collection of Comentary on Herman Melville’s Tale “Bartleby the Scrivener,” ed. M. Thomas Inge , all further references to this work, abbreviated JA, will be included in the text. Brook Thomas teaches English and American literature at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. He is the author of James Joyce’s “Ulysses”: A Book of Many Happy Returns and is at work on a study of the relations between law and literature in antebellum America. (shrink)