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)
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)
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)
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.
Jan Westerhoff unfolds the story of one of the richest episodes in the history of Indian thought, the development of Buddhist philosophy during the first millennium CE. He aims to offer the reader a systematic grasp of key Buddhist concepts such as non-self, suffering, reincarnation, karma, and nirvana.
According to an influential view by Elizabeth Harman, moral ignorance, as opposed to factual ignorance, never excuses one from blame. In defense of this view, Harman appeals to the following considerations: that moral ignorance always implies a lack of good will, and that moral truth is always accessible. In this paper, I clearly distinguish these considerations, and present challenges to both. If my arguments are successful, sometimes moral ignorance excuses.
According to Vallicella's 'Relations, Monism, and the Vindication of Bradley's Regress' (2002), if relations are to relate their relata, some special operator must do the relating. No other options will do. In this paper we reject Vallicella's conclusion by considering an important option that becomes visible only if we hold onto a precise distinction between the following three feature-pairs of relations: internality/externality, universality/particularity, relata-specificity/relata-unspecificity. The conclusion we reach is that if external relations are to relate their relata, they must be (...) relata-specific (and no special operator is needed). As it eschews unmereological complexes, this outcome is of relevance to defenders of the extensionality of composition. (shrink)
Madhyamaka philosophy has been frequently characterized as nihilism, not just by its Buddhist and non-Buddhist opponents, but also by some contemporary Buddhologists. This characterization might well strike us as surprising. First, nihilism appears to be straightforwardly inconsistent. It would be curious if a philosophical school holding such an obviously deficient view would have acquired the kind of importance Madhyamaka has acquired in the Asian intellectual landscape over the last two millenia. Second, Madhyamaka by its very name proclaims to tread the (...) “middle way”, and what if anything would count as an extreme position but the view that there is nothing? This essay addresses both the systematic status of nihilist theories as well as the historical contexts in which Madhyamaka has been characterized as nihilistic, aiming to throw some light on plausible and implausible ways of understanding the Madhyamaka intellectual enterprise. (shrink)
Michelle Moody-Adams suggests that “the main obstacle to moral progress in social practices is the tendency to widespread affected ignorance of what can and should already be known.” This explanation is promising, though to understand it we need to know what willful (affected, motivated, strategic) ignorance actually is. This paper presents a novel analysis of this concept, which builds upon Moody-Adams (1994) and is contrasted with a recent account by Lynch (2016).
Infinite regress arguments play an important role in many distinct philosophical debates. Yet, exactly how they are to be used to demonstrate anything is a matter of serious controversy. In this paper I take up this metaphilosophical debate, and demonstrate how infinite regress arguments can be used for two different purposes: either they can refute a universally quantified proposition (as the Paradox Theory says), or they can demonstrate that a solution never solves a given problem (as the Failure Theory says). (...) In the meantime, I show that Black’s view on infinite regress arguments (1996, this journal) is incomplete, and how his criticism of Passmore can be countered. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to examine some of the key points of Nāgārjuna’s discussion of problems relating to the philosophy of language. We will focus on two works from Nāgārjuna’s yukti-corpus that address these matters most explicitly, the Vigrahavyāvartanī and the Vaidalyaprakaraṇa. The discussion will concentrate on four topics: Nāgārjuna’s views on semantics, the problem of empty names, the relation between language and momentariness, and the implications of Madhyamaka views on parts and wholes for the existence of language.
This book on infinite regress arguments provides (i) an up-to-date overview of the literature on the topic, (ii) ready-to-use insights for all domains of philosophy, and (iii) two case studies to illustrate these insights in some detail. Infinite regress arguments play an important role in all domains of philosophy. There are infinite regresses of reasons, obligations, rules, and disputes, and all are supposed to have their own moral. Yet most of them are involved in controversy. Hence the question is: what (...) exactly is an infinite regress argument, and when is such an argument a good one? (shrink)
This introduction provides an overview of the current state of the debate on the epistemic condition of moral responsibility. In sect. 1, we discuss the main concepts ‘ignorance’ and ‘responsibility’. In sect. 2, we ask why agents should inform themselves. In sect. 3, we describe what we take to be the core agreement among main participants in the debate. In sect. 4, we explain how this agreement invites a regress argument with a revisionist implication. In sect. 5, we provide an (...) overview of the main responses to the regress argument. In sect. 6, we address the question why blameless ignorance excuses. In sect. 7, we describe further issues that are addressed in the book. In sect. 8, we conclude with some discussion of future directions the debate might take. (shrink)
Biomedical research involving human subjects is an arena of conflicts of interests. One of the most important conflicts is between interests of participants and interests of future patients. Legal regulations and ethical guidelines are instruments designed to help find a fair balance between risks and burdens taken by research subjects and development of knowledge and new treatment. There is an universally accepted ethical principle, which states that it is not ethically allowed to sacrifice individual interests for the sake of society (...) and science. This is the principle of precedence of individual. But there is a problem with how to interpret the principle of precedence of individual in the context of research without prospect of future benefit involving children. There are proposals trying to reconcile non-beneficial research involving children with the concept of the best interests. We assert that this reconciliation is flawed and propose an interpretation of the principle of precedence of individual as follows: not all, but only the most important interests of participants, must be guaranteed; this principle should be interpreted as the secure participant standard. In consequence, the issue of permissible risk ceiling becomes ethically crucial in research with incompetent subjects. (shrink)
In this study of Robert Boyle's epistemology, Jan W. Wojcik reveals the theological context within which Boyle developed his views on reason's limits. After arguing that a correct interpretation of his views on 'things above reason' depends upon reading his works in the context of theological controversies in seventeenth-century England, Professor Wojcik details exactly how Boyle's three specific categories of things which transcend reason - the incomprehensible, the inexplicable, and the unsociable - affected his conception of what a natural philosopher (...) could hope to know. Also covered in detail is Boyle's belief that God had deliberately limited the human intellect in order to reserve a full knowledge of both theology and natural philosophy for the afterlife. (shrink)
An implication relation between pictures is defined, it is then shown how conjunctions, disjunctions, negations, and hypotheticals of pictures can be formed on the basis of this. It is argued that these logical operations on pictures correspond to natural cognitive operations employed when thinking about pictures.
Ideas about freedom and related concepts like autonomy and self-determination play a prominent role in the moral debate about human enhancement interventions. However, there is not a single understanding of freedom available, and arguments referring to freedom are simultaneously used to argue both for and against enhancement interventions. This gives rise to misunderstandings and polemical arguments. The paper attempts to disentangle the different distinguishable concepts, classifies them and shows how they relate to one another in order to allow for a (...) more structured and clearer debate. It concludes in identifying the individual underpinnings and the social conditions of choice and decision-making as particularly salient dimensions of freedom in the ethical debate about human enhancement. (shrink)
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)
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.