Presented here is the German translation of Jan Patočka’s fragment Nitro a svět which was written in the 1940s and belongs to the so called „Strahov Papers“. The fragment reflects Patočka’s early attempts towards a thinking of subjectivity and the world. Thereby Patočka’s approach is phenomenological, but also integrates motives of German Idealism. The critical impact of the fragment lies in its orientation against the scientific biologism of its times.
The subject of this essay is political, and therefore social, philosophy; and therefore, ethics. We want to know whether the right thing for a society to do is to incorporate in its structure requirements that we bring about equality, or liberty, or both if they are compatible, and if incompatible then which if either, or what sort of mix if they can to some degree be mixed. But this fairly succinct statement of the issue before us requires considerable clarification, even (...) as a statment of the issue. For it is widely, and in my view correctly, held that some sort of equality is utterly fundamental in these matters. We seek a principle, or principles, that apply to all, are the same for all. In that sense, certainly, equality is fundamental and inescapable. But this is a very thin sort of “equality.” It will almost equally widely be agreed that the principles in question should in some more interesting sense “treat” people equally, e.g., by allotting to all the same set of rights, and moreover, rights that are – again we have to say “in some sense” – nonarbitrary, so that whatever they are, persons of all races, sexes, and so on will have the same fundamental rights assigned to them. Taking this to be, again, essentially uncontroversial, though not without potentially worrisome points of unclarity, it needs, now, to be pointed out that this characterization does not settle the issue that this essay is concerned with. That issue is about economic matters in particular. (shrink)
Jan Sprenger and Stephan Hartmann offer a fresh approach to central topics in philosophy of science, including causation, explanation, evidence, and scientific models. Their Bayesian approach uses the concept of degrees of belief to explain and to elucidate manifold aspects of scientific reasoning.
This paper describes the work of the Polish logician Jan Kalicki (1922?1953). After a biographical introduction, his work on logical matrices and equational logic is appraised. A bibliography of his papers and reviews is also included.
To get distracted, to enclose and to give oneself. The Gesture of Transcendence in Jan Patočka The problem of transcendence can be traced throughout the whole work of Jan Patočka. The appeal to transcend our bonds to mere objectivity is a constant issue of his thought. It finds a new substantiation in the 1960s in his studies focusing on the meaning of the other as human being. The relation to the other person offers a special "occasion" or "place" of transcendence (...) and poses the challenge to transcend one's own particular setting. While in the mid-1960s Patočka maintains his earlier dramatic vocabulary to describe the process of transcendence, in the late 1960s his idiom becomes less vehement. Yet, it is precisely within this more "sober" framework that he symbolizes the process of transcendence with an emphatic turn to a "myth of the divine man" and its key metaphor of resurrection. To transcend means, for Patočka, always to liberate oneself from a state of self-distraction between things. However, in his late lectures, he briefly refers to a deeper layer, suggesting that this self-distraction has its "roots" in a self-enclosure or self-isolation, in the exclusive concentration on our own interests and in the illusion of our self-sufficiency. Transcendence, then, means to overcome this self-enclosure by means of a self-forgetting love. Are these rarely mentioned "roots" perhaps implicitly present in all Patočka's accounts of transcendence? (shrink)
Nagarjuna's Vigrahavyavartani is one of the most important Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophical texts. Jan Westerhoff offers a new translation, reflecting the best current philological research and all available editions, and adds his own philosophical commentary on the text. His nuanced, philosophically sophisticated commentary explains Nagarjuna's arguments in a way that is both grounded in historical and textual scholarship and connected explicitly to contemporary philosophical concerns.
The Indian philosopher Acarya Nagarjuna (c. 150-250 CE) was the founder of the Madhyamaka (Middle Path) school of Mahayana Buddhism and arguably the most influential Buddhist thinker after Buddha himself. Indeed, in the Tibetan and East Asian traditions, Nagarjuna is often referred to as the "second Buddha." This book presents a survey of the whole of Nagarjuna's philosophy based on his key philosophical writings. His primary contribution to Buddhist thought lies in the further development of the concept of sunyata or (...) "emptiness." For Nagarjuna, all phenomena are without any svabhava, literally "own-nature" or "self-nature," and thus without any underlying substance. Particular emphasis is put on discussing Nagarjuna's thinking as philosophy. The present discussion shows how his thoughts on metaphysics, epistemology, the self, language, and truth present a unified theory of reality with considerable systematic appeal. The book offers a systematic account of Nagarjuna's philosophical position. It reads Nagarjuna in his own philosophical context, but also shows that the issues of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy have at least family resemblances to issues in European philosophy. (shrink)
Modern societies are characterized by a division of epistemic labor between laypeople and epistemic authorities. Authorities are often far more competent than laypeople and can thus, ideally, inform their beliefs. But how should laypeople rationally respond to an authority’s beliefs if they already have beliefs and reasons of their own concerning some subject matter? According to the standard view, the beliefs of epistemic authorities are just further, albeit weighty, pieces of evidence. In contrast, the Preemption View claims that, when one (...) discovers what an authority believes, it is not permissible to rely on any of one’s own reasons concerning the subject matter. The original version of this view, as proposed by Linda Zagzebski, has recently been severely criticized for recommending blind trust and for abandoning even minimal standards for critical thinking. In our paper, we defend a new version of the Preemption View—Defeatist Preemptionism—in a way that differs radically from Zagzebski’s. We argue that our view can be derived from certain widely accepted general epistemic principles. In particular, we claim that preemption can be identified as a special case of source sensitive defeat. Moreover, we argue that Defeatist Preemptionism does not lead to the undesirable consequences that critics ascribe to the Preemption View. The paper thus articulates the foundations and refinements of the Preemption View, such that it adequately captures the phenomenon of epistemic authority and the rational requirements related to it. (shrink)
The concept of an ontological category is central to metaphysics. Metaphysicians argue about which category of existence an object should be assigned to, whether one category can be reduced to another one, or whether there might be different equally adequate systems of categorization. Answers to these questions presuppose a clear understanding of what precisely an ontological category is, and Jan Westerhoff now provides the first in-depth analysis. After examining a variety of attempted definitions, he proceeds to argue for a new (...) understanding of ontological categories, according to which they are systematizations of our knowledge of the world rather than essential characteristics of the world itself. Metaphysicians will find his work highly stimulating. (shrink)
A unifying framework of probabilistic reasoning Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9573-x Authors Jan Sprenger, Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science, Tilburg University, P.O. Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
The Czech philosopher Jan Patocka (1907-1977), who studied with Husserl and Heidegger, is widely recognized as the most influential thinker to come from postwar Eastern Europe. Refusing to join the Communist party after World War II, he was banned from academia and publication for the rest of his life, except for a brief time following the liberalizations of the Prague spring of 1968. Joining Vaclav Havel and Jiri Hajek as a spokesman for the Chart 77 human-rights declaration of 1977, Patocka (...) was harassed by authorities, arrested, and finally died of a heart attack during prolonged interrogation. Plato and Europe, arguably Patocka’s most important book, consists of a series of lectures delivered in the homes of friends after his last banishment from the academy just three years before his death. Here, he presents his most mature ideas about the history of Western philosophy, arguing that the idea of the care of the soul is fundamental to the philosophical tradition beginning with the Greeks. Explaining how the care of the soul is elaborated as the problem of how human beings may make their world one of truth and justice, Patocka develops this thesis through a treatment of Plato, Democritus, and Aristotle, showing how considerations about the soul are of central importance in their writings. He demonstrates in vivid fashion how this idea forms the spiritual heritage of Europe. (shrink)
The article focuses on the report of the International Workshop on “17th Century Polish Jesuits in China: Michal Boym, Jan Mikolaj Smogulecki, and Andrzej Rudomina” held at the University School of Philosophy and Education in Poland organized by the Monumenta Serica Institute. The author focuses on the Chinese philosophy lecture by Professor Shi Yunli about the influence of Smogulecki on Xue Fengzou, Chinese culture and science and their work on astrology and astronomy.
Is knowledge-how, or “practical” knowledge, a species of knowledge-that, or “theoretical” knowledge? There is no comfortable position to take in the debate around this question. On the one hand, there are counterexamples against the anti-intellectualist thesis that practical knowledge is best analysed as an ability. They show that having an ability to ϕ is not necessary for knowing how to ϕ. On the other hand, the intellectualist analysis of practical knowledge as a subspecies of theoretical knowledge is threatened by its (...) own set of counterexamples, which convincingly establish that practical knowledge lacks many of the typical characteristics of theoretical knowledge. Most strikingly it does not even appear to require a belief. In this paper, I develop an account of practical knowledge that avoids these counterexamples. It also manages to preserve both the status of such knowledge as a cognitive achievement and its apparently close conceptual relation to abilities. I start with the counterexamples against the necessity of abilities for practical knowledge and show that they fail because they underestimate the cognitive demands of attempts. I then make use of the logic of dispositions to bridge the gap that counterexamples against the necessity of abilities for practical knowledge open. It is argued that, instead of the ability to ϕ, it is a specific disposition to have the ability to ϕ that constitutes practical knowledge about ϕ. The resulting theory is an anti-intellectualist position that preserves essential intellectualist motivations and thus should be satisfactory for proponents of both views. (shrink)
This paper addresses theoretical challenges, still relevant today, that arose in the first decades of the twentieth century related to the concept of the organism. During this period, new insights into the plasticity and robustness of organisms as well as their complex interactions fueled calls, especially in the UK and in the German-speaking world, for grounding biological theory on the concept of the organism. This new organism-centered biology understood organisms as the most important explanatory and methodological unit in biological investigations. (...) At least three theoretical strands can be distinguished in this movement: Organicism, dialectical materialism, and holistic biology. This paper shows that a major challenge of OCB was to describe the individual organism as a causally autonomous and discrete unit with consistent boundaries and, at the same time, as inextricably interwoven with its environment. In other words, OCB had to conciliate individualistic with anti-individualistic perspectives. This challenge was addressed by developing a concept of life that included functionalist and metabolic elements, as well as biochemical and physical ones. It allowed for specifying organisms as life forms that actively delimit themselves from the environment. Finally, this paper shows that the recent return to the concept of the organism, especially in the so-called “Extended Evolutionary Synthesis,” is challenged by similar anti-individualistic tendencies. However, in contrast to its early-twentieth-century forerunner, today’s organism-centered approaches have not yet offered a solution to this problem. (shrink)
The concept of a socially extended mind suggests that our cognitive processes are extended not simply by the various tools and technologies we use, but by other minds in our intersubjective interactions and, more systematically, by institutions that, like tools and technologies, enable and sometimes constitute our cognitive processes. In this article we explore the potential of this concept to facilitate the development of a critical neuroscience. We explicate the concept of cognitive institution and suggest that science itself is a (...) good example. Science, through various practices and rules, shapes our cognitive activity so as to constitute a certain type of knowledge, packaged with relevant skills and techniques. To develop this example, we focus on neuroscience, its cultural impact, and the various institutional entanglements that complicate its influence on reframing conceptions of self and subjectivity, and on defining what questions count as important and what kind of answers will be valued. (shrink)
Aggregation in moral philosophy calls for the summing or averaging of values or utilities as a guide to individual behavior. But morality, it is argued, needs to be individualistic, in view of the evident separateness of persons, especially given the great disparities among individuals who nevertheless interact with each other in social life. The most plausible general moral program is the classical liberal one calling for mutual noninterference rather than treating others as equal to oneself in point of demands on (...) our action. Why, then, would we ever aggregate? The reason is that we are affected by behavior that has general effects, especially unintended side effects, on all sorts of people among whom we ourselves are often to be found. When we are randomly situated among such groups—as we sometimes are and often are not—minimizing aggregate harm is the plausible strategy, and sometimes promoting aggregate benefit as well. (shrink)
Against the background of the many attacks on the school as being outdated, alienating, ineffective and reproducing inequalities we offer a morphological understanding of the school as distinguished from functionalist understandings and idealistic understandings. Our educational morphology approaches the school as a particular scholastic ‘form of gathering’ i.e. a particular time–space–matter arrangement that deals in a specific way with the new generation, allows for a particular relation to the world, and for a particular experience of potentiality and of commonality. We (...) elucidate how this form performs particular operations of suspension, profanation and formation of attention and how these operations imply a slowing down and an opening of future. Finally, we emphasise the potenti.. (shrink)
Educating the gaze is easily understood as becoming conscious about what is 'really' happening in the world and becoming aware of the way our gaze is itself bound to a perspective and particular position. However, the paper explores a different idea. It understands educating the gaze not in the sense of 'educare' (teaching) but of 'e-ducere' as leading out, reaching out. E-ducating the gaze is not about getting at a liberated or critical view, but about liberating or displacing our view. (...) It is not about becoming conscious or aware , but about becoming attentive , about paying attention . E-ducating the gaze, then, is not depending on method, but relying on discipline; it does not require a rich methodology, but asks for a poor pedagogy, i.e. for practices which allow to expose ourselves. One example of such practice is that of walking. Consequently e-ducating the gaze could be about an invitation to go walking. This idea is explored b way of a comment on two quotations, one by Walter Benjamin and one by Michel Foucault. (shrink)