The notion of experience plays a deeply ambiguous role in philosophical thinking. In ordinary discourse we say that applicants for employment as joiner, farmhand or nanny should have some previous experience with carpentry, livestock or children. Such uses of the word clearly presuppose the existence of the relevant objects of experience. In other usages the focus is more on the mental effect on the subject , as when someone says that they have had several unpleasant experiences that day–a wetting in (...) a thunderstorm, an altercation with a traffic warden, and a long wait at the station. (shrink)
The second edition of this exceptional anthology provides an introduction to a wide variety of views on human nature. Drawing from diverse cultures over three millennia, Leslie Stevenson has chosen selections ranging from ancient religious texts to contemporary theories based on evolutionary science. An ideal companion to the editor's recent book, Ten Theories of Human Nature, 3/e (OUP, 1998), this interdisciplinary reader can also be used independently. The Study of Human Nature, 2/e offers substantial selections illustrating the ten perspectives (...) discussed in Ten Theories of Human Nature, 3/e--The Bible, Hinduism, Confucianism, Plato, Kant, Marx, Freud, Sartre, B.F. Skinner's behaviorism, and Konrad Lorenz's ethological diagnosis of human aggression. The Islamic tradition is represented by a selection from the 20th-century Iranian philosopher Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahhari. The 17th- and 18th-century philosophers Descartes, Hobbes, Hume, Rousseau, and Kant are also represented. Selections from Rousseau, J.S. Mill, and Nancy Holmstrom discuss alleged differences between women and men, and a paper by Henry Bracken deals with racial issues. Examples from E.O. Wilson's sociobiology and his critics are also included, together with material from Chomsky and from recent evolutionary psychology. This new edition includes more substantial selections from the Hindu, Confucian, and Christian traditions and provides more accessible extracts from Marx, Sartre, and Lorenz. An excellent reader for introductory courses in philosophy, religious studies, human nature, and intellectual history, The Study of Human Nature, 2/e, is also an essential resource for anyone interested in ancient, modern, and contemporary perspectives on human nature. (shrink)
This work is a "prolegomena to the study of evil," the beginning of a more ambitious project designated by the author an "ideational critique of society." Such an endeavor would include a "rhetoric that grasps the structures of consciousness, the phenomenology of history, and the dramaturgy of contemporary scenes." The bulk of the present study constitutes an essay in phenomenological sociology. Each of the seven deadly sins is insightfully described in terms of its dominant features as well as in relation (...) to and distinction from allied or similar phenomena. Significantly, the presiding intellectual presences are as often Homer, Augustine, Gregory the Great, and Aquinas as more contemporary ones such as Simmel, Marx, Weber, and Freud. The scope and sensitivity of the author is further manifested in his illuminating use of literary figures including Dante, Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Artaud. Lyman maintains that "sin has been neglected by sociology" and views this work as a first step in remedying such neglect. At the outset he states that he is not offering a way out of or elimination of evil nor the promise of good. Fortunately, much of the book and in particular its concluding chapter serves as at least a strong qualification of this posture. Though holding out no hope for redemption or a final release from sin and evil, Lyman’s effort would seem to have a commendable melioristic aim. He is concerned, however, to avoid what is for him the besetting sin of contemporary sociology—the attempt to present a sociological blueprint for earthly happiness. Lyman would like to see sociology respect "the social visions that the reason of ordinary people produces," while neither applauding nor opposing them. "The sociological task would then be to describe the processes of social architectonics, and not to build the new society in advance of them." It is evident that Lyman wishes to avoid explaining away sin or reducing it to psychological or societal deviance but it would have been helpful to have had some suggestion of his ontology or metaphysics of sin. The "reality" of sin and evil remains unclarified throughout these analyses. The citations from Homer, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Dante, and other such figures are presented without irony or condescension. Now it may be possible to distill psychological and sociological insights from these thinkers while rejecting or ignoring their theological dimensions. To do so, however, involves a process of abstraction and a contextualism which hardly leaves the phenomena as presented by these thinkers untouched and unchanged. Hence, it would seem that some justification for the "sin" character of these actions in their contemporary milieu is called for. Lyman hints that he is unhappy with the neutralization of sin resulting from contemporary social science. What is not clear is whether he rejects the naturalistic assumptions which undergird and indeed make inevitable such neutralizing interpretations. The background assumption of Lyman’s study is a Nietzschean-like "sociology of the absurd" which presupposes "a world that is ultimately and essentially without meaning" but is made meaningful "by the actions and beliefs of the people who participate in it." This is, of course, a radically different world than the one within which the sin-evil language emerged and gave this language its depth and significance. One aspect of Lyman’s continuing task, therefore, would be to show how it is possible to speak meaningfully of sin and evil when the belief in a transcendent which constituted these phenomena in their classical modes is absent. Nietzsche’s challenge must be faced: after the "death of God" we can still speak of "good and bad" but can we any longer speak of "good and evil"?—E.F. (shrink)
This book, outstanding in its field, presents in a clear, impressively thorough way the philosophical problems concerned with relativity theory and the topology and metrics of space and time. Many of the author's points will be familiar to the readers of his earlier articles, some of which this work is meant to supersede. Unifying all the many discussions is a rigorous and thorough-going empiricism that relies heavily on the results of investigations of physicists and mathematicians and that masterfully clips the (...) wings of those who would take flight from these results into the airy realms of speculative cosmology.—A. E. F. (shrink)
An intellectual defense of Christianity which argues that contemporary apologetics are much too defensive intellectually. Cleobury contends that the insights of the Christian faith are most compatible with an idealistic world view. This he presents and defends with subtlety.--F. E. B.
This rather discursive study draws upon many sources in maintaining that freedom is the touchstone for an understanding of the human condition, both of man's possibility and his development in a world of chance and change. Kallen argues that mankind can best achieve liberty by adopting a pragmatic view of ideas which neither neglects the actual nor distorts the ideal. -- F. E. B.
In this subtle but laborious exposition and defense of a difficult doctrine of classical Calvinism, Berkouwer interprets both Calvin and certain classical creedal statements. His defense depends upon the contention that most criticisms of the doctrine rest upon misinterpretations. --F. E. B.
This introductory essay sketches the problem of the good life by a brief description of moral experience and discusses some major alternative answers. Freund suggests that the good life has as its final value "the unity of communion, fellowship, and creativeness" and concludes with a plea for a re-examination of our educational procedures.--F. E. B.
This collection of essays is an extended discussion of the relation between religion and culture. Tillich, in defining religion in terms of ultimate concern, cuts across, and at times seems to undercut, traditional views about religion. "Religion is the meaning-giving substance of culture, and culture is the totality of forms in which the basic concern of religion expresses itself." His analyses, although oversimplified in certain respects, point out important inter-relationships and offer suggestive interpretations. --F. E. B.
An excellent and succinct historical survey of the major philosophies of law as seen in the leading political philosophers, this work explores the connection between views of law and the philosophical outlooks on which they are based. It also includes a short analysis of some current problems, such as the relation of law to justice, and it suggests the feasibility of international constitutional law.--F. E. B.
The author conceives of his grandiose world view and proposals for biological human selectivity as based on a new scientific philosophy, but the book seems to share little with either organized science or disciplined philosophy.--F. E. B.
McIntyre defines history as "meaningful occurrence, and more particularly occurrence the meaning of which is a construct out of certain categories, namely, Necessity, Providence, Incarnation, Freedom and Memory."--F. E. B.
In this provocative, if puzzling, "treatment of religion on the basis of the methods of empirical and existential philosophy," the author makes common cause with the positivists in rejecting metaphysics as illegitimate system-making. He accepts the conception of philosophy as analysis of languages, but insists that a "situational" or existential analysis must be carried out as well-particularly in the case of the "convictional language" of religion. Precisely what is involved in this "situational" analysis, and how it differs from logical analysis (...) is often hard to tell, and one wishes for a fuller discussion of the cognitive claim of convictional language.--F. E. B. (shrink)