Where has the Western attraction to the study and practice of shamanic techniques brought us? Where might it take us? In what ways have our Western biases and philosophical underpinnings influenced and changed how shamanism is practiced, both in the West and in the traditional cultures out of which they emerged? Is it time to stop using the umbrella term “shamanism” to refer to such diverse cross-cultural practices? What are our responsibilities, both as researchers and as spiritual seekers? In this (...) conversation, researcher-authors Stephan Beyer, Stanley Krippner, and Hillary S. Webb discuss their work in field and consider some of the ramifications of the Western world's intellectual and spiritual fascination with shamanic practices. Special attention is paid to the language used to describe these techniques and their practitioners, the developing relationship between researchers and cultural participants, and the ethical implications of merging what are often very distinct worldviews. (shrink)
Damaris Masham’s letters to John Locke can be fruitfully read as a form of philosophical autobiography. By reading them in this way, neglected aspects of Masham’s philosophy of sociability and the self’s relationship to the world can be brought to light. My first section introduces Masham and the letters, suggesting that generic interpretation has been an obstacle to their reception. Second, I argue that they are autobiographical. Third, I argue that they can be considered as philosophical autobiography. To demonstrate this, (...) I contrast Masham’s published stance on sociability with the stance on the topic that is revealed through the autobiographical reflections in the Locke correspondence.This... (shrink)
For those to whom John Bowring's name means anything, the most likely association with it is the complex and question-begging term ‘Benthamite’. Contemporaries certainly used the term, particularly when they wanted to suggest that his actions were narrowly ideological or theoretical. But to some of Bowring's contemporaries another association served hostile intent almost as well: his Unitarianism.
Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in utopianism within educational theory. In this essay, Darren Webb explores the utopian pedagogy of Paulo Freire in the context of what one commentator has dubbed “the educational comeback of utopia.” Webb argues that Freire's significance lies in the way he embraced both “utopia as process” and “utopia as system.” This is significant because the contemporary rejuvenation of utopianism has extended only so far, embracing utopia conceived as an open‐ended process of (...) becoming but shying away from utopia conceived as the delineation of a normative vision to be struggled for and won. Webb outlines the pedagogical operation of utopia as process, cognitive‐affective orientation, and system, and he argues that Freire was right in insisting that each is constitutive of effective educational practice. (shrink)
When worldviews clash, the world reverberates. Now a distinguished scholar who has written widely on thinkers ranging from Samuel Beckett to Eric Voegelin inquires into the sources of religious conflict—and into ways of being religious that might diminish that conflict. _Worldview and Mind_ covers a wide range of thinkers and movements to explore the relation between religion and modernity in all its complexity. Eugene Webb invokes a number of topical issues, including religious terrorism, as he unfolds the phenomenon of (...) religion in all its complications, from the difference between faith and belief to the diversities among—and within—religions. Building on Karl Jaspers’s psychology of worldviews and Jean Piaget’s developmental psychology, Webb looks at a broad spectrum of religions—especially the history of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in their various forms—to explore the subjective factors that sometimes render religions conflictual and aggressive and to consider conditions that might foster more helpful and reconciling forms of religiousness. He explores what psychological analysis reveals about the relationship between stages of psychological development and ways of being religious—ways that range from closed-minded literalism to open-minded tolerance. He also identifies unconscious and developmental obstacles to religious maturity and depicts the mature person as one who participates in the mystery of self-transcending love. Webb argues that authentic religion need not succumb to dogmatism, or support fanaticism, or be consigned to the stages of immature culture. Responding to critics of religion, from Sigmund Freud to Daniel Dennett, he demonstrates that religious traditions have more spiritual depth than these critics have granted and a greater potential for development than they believe, along lines they might even favor. His insightful book proposes that, if religious people can step back from their traditions and consider them as partial ways of relating to transcendent ultimacy, the world’s religions might manage to develop a way of living together with mutual appreciation and respect. (shrink)
Theories of generosity, or gift giving, are becoming increasingly important in recent work in philosophy and religion. Stephen Webb seeks to build on this renewed interest by surveying a distinctively modern and postmodern approach to the issue of generosity, and then developing a theological framework for it.
In this essay, P. Taylor Webb and Kalervo N. Gulson argue that educational policy is a spatial process and that implementation processes in particular produce crucial emergent geographies for policy research. Webb and Gulson describe how emergent geographies are produced when policy folds actors through senses and enactments of policy. The idea that policy is sensed and enacted is developed into the concept of a policy intension that extends approaches to spatial and, in particular, micropolitical analyses in policy (...) research. Webb and Gulson conclude by discussing cartographical methods that better map the geographies of subjectivity produced through policy intensions. (shrink)
The metamathematical theorems of Gödel and Church are frequently applied to the philosophy of mind, typically as rational evidence against mechanism. Using methods of Post and Smullyan, these results are presented as purely mathematical theorems and various such applications are discussed critically. In particular, J. Lucas's use of Gödel's theorem to distinguish between conscious and unconscious beings is refuted, while more generally, attempts to extract philosophy from metamathematics are shown to involve only dramatizations of the constructivity problem in foundations. More (...) specifically, philosophical extrapolations from metamathematics are shown to involve premature extensions of Church's thesis. (shrink)
A random sample of 146 fortune 500 firms were surveyed in 1996 to determine whether firm size and industry type affect employers' level of involvement and support of ethical and environmental policies and practices. The study found relationships between firm size and ethical and environmental policies and practices. While the majority of firms (90.3%), regardless of size, have a formal written code of ethics, large firms are more likely to employ an ombudsperson to handle ethical concerns and to have a (...) network confidentiality policy. Although most firms (83.5%) have a formal written environmental policy, large firms are more inclined to invest in new ways to reduce the production of various types of waste. Another interesting twist to the study has to do with the relationships found between industry type and ethical and environmental policies and practices. Industries, such as the computers and electronics and scientific and photographics sectors, that are involved with high precision products and industries, such as mining, crude oil, and petroleum refining, that utilize natural resources are more inclined to have a formal written code of ethics and social responsibility. In addition, industries that utilize natural resources are more likely than other industries to have formal written environmental policies and practices. (shrink)
Simone de Beauvoir is renown for The Second Sex (1949), a work now considered to be a feminist classic. Nevertheless, when Beauvoir wrote this book she did not explicitly endorse the women's movement, nor did she associate her analysis with the women's liberation. It took twenty-one years after the publication before she publicly declared herself a feminist, but from that point on she was a dedicated feminist. How can her development from a gender blind young philosopher to a radical (...) feminist activist be explained? In this article I argue that her less known moral philosophy might provide an answer, as it might be understood as the foundation for her later philosophical analysis and political commitments. In her existentialist ethics she assets that freedom to be the normative core value, and develops an ethical justification for why we should defend our own as well as the freedom of others. However, when this idealistic and abstract moral philosophy was applied to the concrete situation of women, she discovered a reality permeated with gendered structures that impeded women's possibilities of transcendence and to attain freedom. An examination of the philosophical link between Beauvoir's ethics, The Second Sex and her feminist analysis also reveals, Pettersen argues, what might happen when a gender blind moral philosophy is faced with a gendered reality. NORWEGIAN ABSTRACT: Hvordan kunne Simone de Beauvoir allerede i 1949 skrive Det annet kjønn uten tilknytning til en kvinnebevegelse, og uten å oppfatte seg som feminist? Svaret er trolig at hennes mindre kjente moralfilosofi danner grunnlaget for senere analyser, og også forklarer utviklingen fra kjønnsblind ung filosof til radikal feministisk aktivist. Forbindelsen mellom Beauvoirs etikk og senere femi- nistiske analyser viser dessuten hva som kan skje når idealistisk moralfilosofi møter en kjønnet virkelighet. (shrink)
In "Existential Humanism and Moral Freedom in Simone de Beauvoir's Ethics" Tove Pettersen elucidates the close connection between Beauvoir’s ethics and humanism, and argues that her humanism is an existential humanism. Beauvoir’s concept of freedom is inspected, followed by a discussion of her reasons for making moral freedom the leading normative value, and her claim that we must act for humanity. In Beauvoir’s ethics, freedom is not reserved for the elite, but understood as everyone being “able to surpass the (...) given toward an open future.” By addressing the continuing friction between individual freedom and public interests, Beauvoir’s normative thinking remains highly relevant today. It also exemplifies the enduring importance of humanistic reflections and demonstrates how, through critical and creative thinking, the humanities can contribute to a free, well-functioning democratic society. (shrink)
There are prominent resemblances between issues addressed by Simone de Beauvoir in her early essay on moral philosophy, Pyrrhus and Cineas (1944), and issues attracting the attention of contemporary feminist ethicists, especially those concerned with the ethics of care. They include a focus on relationships, interaction, and mutual dependency. Both emphasize concrete ethical challenges rooted in everyday life, such as those affecting parents and children. Both are critical of the level of abstraction and insensitivity to the situation of the (...) moral agent in utilitarianism and Kantian ethics. And both condemn the “moral point of view,” i.e. the assumption that it is possible to speak with a universal voice on behalf of humanity. These resemblances are explored in this article. (shrink)
Michèle Le Dœuff considers the relationship between Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir as a paradigmatic case of what she calls an "erotico-theoretical transference" relationship: De Beauvoir devoted herself to Sartre theoretically by adopting his existentialist perspective for the analysis of reality in general and the analysis of women's oppression in particular. The latter is especially strange since Sartre used strongly sexist metaphors and adopted a macho attitude towards women. In her book Hipparchia's Choice, Le Dœuff speaks in this (...) context of "theoretical masculinism." She convincingly shows in this book that Sartre without using images could not have closed his existentialist philosophy: without the feminine drawback he would not have been able to explain why man cannot become god. Sartre not only understands gaining knowledge as a rape of a woman he also fears that the possessed feminine (body) could reverse its position from being dominated to the dominating force by appropriating the masculine through slime. In Being and Nothingness Sartre states that "slime is the revenge of the In-itself. A sickly–sweet, feminine revenge." Despite of the fact that De Beauvoir used Sartre's heterosexist ontology and metaphysics she managed to provide a highly influential depiction of women's condition and offered an original approach to the understanding of selfhood which places woman inside the subject. (shrink)
This essay demonstrates that Beauvoir's La Vieillesse is a phenomenological study of old age indebted to Husserl's phenomenology of the body. Beauvoir's depiction of the doubling in the lived experience of the elderly--a division between outsiders' awareness of the elderly's decline and the elderly's own inner understanding of old age--serves as a specific illustration of Beauvoir's particular method of description and analysis.
Simone de Beauvoir published a number of philosophical essays and novels before writing The Second Sex. The most important of these was The Ethics of Ambiguity, in which she argues that one’s freedom is always intertwined with that of others. The Bonds of Freedom examines de Beauvoir’s ideas on ethics, demonstrating her importance in contemporary philosophy.
The philosophical and religious ideas of Simone Weil bear on theory of history and historiography in ways not previously explored. They amount to a view of history as a consequence of the original creation, but they also exclude theodicy. By examining these ideas we see some of the ways in which to develop a theory history centered on a conception of moral understanding that is impartialist and universal. For Weil such understanding is both inside of and outside of history. (...) This leads to an approach to human history that centers on the moral dilemmas and choices of historical actors and that matches the force of compassion with that of power. Under an approach inspired by Weil’s ideas, the historian’s work of understanding can be an experience of moral growth. (shrink)
This article explicates the meaning of the paradox from the perspective of sexual difference, as articulated by Simone de Beauvoir. I claim that the self, the other, and their becoming are sexed in Beauvoir’s early literary writing before the question of sexual difference is posed in The Second Sex (1949). In particular, Beauvoir’s description of Françoise’s subjective becoming in the novel She Came to Stay (1943) anticipates her later systematic description of ‘the woman in love’. In addition, I argue (...) that the different existential types appearing at the end of The Second Sex (the narcissist, the woman in love, the mystic, and the independent woman) are variations of a specific feminine, historically changing paradox of subjectivity. According to this paradox, women, in a different mode than men, must become what they ontologically “are”: beings of change and self-transcendence that have to realise the human condition in their concrete, singular lives. My interpretation draws on Kierkegaardian philosophy of existence, phenomenology, and early psychoanalysis. (shrink)
In July 1940, Simone de Beauvoir began a routine of going to the Bibliothèque Nationale most days from 2.00 to 5.00 p.m. to read G. W. F. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Hitler's armies had invaded and occupied Paris earlier, on June 14, 1940. She was teaching philosophy classes at a girls' lycée and living in her grandmother's empty apartment. Her close companion, Jean-Paul Sartre, who had been a soldier in a meteorological unit of the French Army, had been captured (...) and was now being held in a German prisoner-of-war camp. Beauvoir was relieved to receive a note from him sent on July 2 saying he was being well treated, but life in Paris was dismal. Food was scarce, and the German troops were grim reminders of Parisians' lack of political freedom. Her reading routine helped soothe the dread, isolation, and alienation she felt. Beauvoir had always been a very earnest student. She had passed the demanding aggregation exam in philosophy at the young age of twenty-one. To supplement her knowledge of classical philosophical texts, she learned German and read texts in phenomenology. In 1935 she had read Edmund Husserl's The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness “without too much difficulty.” She also read Heidegger and translated long passages into French for Sartre. Back when she was in college, her prodigious work habits had earned her a special nickname among her friends: Castor, or the beaver. Poring over a difficult philosophical text in a foreign language for three hours a day might seem a strange way to get through such times, but with her it made sense. (shrink)
Doing violence and evil always indirectly or directly leads to making someone else suffer. Such is the dialogical structure of evil and it seems to be the dialogical structure of elder abuse as well. There is a perturbing sameness between definitions of evil and definitions of elder abuse. It is hard at times to see how or if there is any line of demarcation between the subjects. Two modern‐day philosophers, Paul Ricoeur and Simone Weil have delved particularly into the (...) concept of evil. The symbolism Ricoeur analyses in depth is that of defilement, sin, and guilt and the concept of the servile will. Integral in Weil's description of evil are the concepts of suffering and the special situation of extreme suffering, termed affliction. Grounded in the writings of Ricoeur and Weil, this paper is a series of reflections on the intersection of evil and elder abuse as exemplified in the narrative of an abused older woman. This woman provided around the clock care at home for her husband who had vascular dementia. She was also abused by her husband. This was witnessed by both family and others but no one intervened. In her narrative there were indications of defilement, sin, guilt, and true affliction as a servile will. This paper illuminates the evil of elder abuse that is harm and suffering, and the challenge of untangling issues of blame, free will, responsibility, and self‐determinism. When engaging with abused, older persons it can be worthwhile for nurses to enter the encounter with non‐judgemental compassion founded on the human to human connection and recognition of our mutual fallibility and potential for evil that is part of our human fragility. (shrink)
The ancient Athenians believed that their forebears sprang directly from the earth rather than being created by gods or born of human parents. In some version of the myth, the ancestor was depicted as having a man's form above the waist and a snake's form below: "Having emerged from the earth, he still in part resembled the creature that slips to and fro between the upper and lower worlds."'1 At the beginning of her 1947 work, The Ethics of Ambiguity, (...) class='Hi'>Simone de Beauvoir asserts that there is a fundamental ambiguity to human life. According to her, every human, like the chthonic ancestor of the Athenians, exists at the same time in two realms: "he is still part of the world of which he is conscious."2 Rooted as they are in the earth, humans can transcend their material origin in thought but they can never escape it. (shrink)