This article analyzes the role played by Immanuel Kant's defense of the death penalty, in the first and the second years of Jacques Derrida's Death Penalty Seminars, delivered from 1999 to 2001. Regarding the first year, the initial part of this article charts how Derrida introduces Kant's writings that purport to elaborate the categorical imperative of the death penalty, not by Kant's primary arguments but rather precisely through Kant's concession of an exception to this categorical imperative, concerning the impunity of (...) a mother's infanticide. Derrida's lectures juxtapose Kant's philosophy of the death penalty with Victor Hugo's claim for the inviolability of life, and in doing so, the sessions introduce other examples of the applicability of the death penalty to mothers who have killed their children. What is at stake is the status of philosophy relative to the death penalty. Concerning the second year, the latter part of this article isolates the logic of Kant's categorical imperative, as deconstructed by Derrida, through recourse to the additions that Kant was obliged to append to his initial argument—those involving precisely sex crimes. The article follows how Derrida thoroughly takes apart both the simplicity of Kant's categorical imperative of the death penalty by means of the complications that are its abyssal foundation and the phallogocentrism of Freud's sexual oppositions through the extraction of insights into another thinking of sexual difference that Freud's categories foreclosed. (shrink)
Derrida's new book bears a special significance because it focuses on an issue that has informed the whole of his work up to the present. One of the aporetic experiences touched upon is that "my death" can never be subject to an experience that would be properly _mine,_ that I can _have_ and _account_ for, yet that there is, at the same time, nothing closer to me and more properly _mine_ than "my death.".
The epigraph from Adieu. À Emmanuel Levinas for this issue is here throughout the linchpin, the Triebfeder or the spring, the feather of impulse, of drive or of desire, out of which this paper attempts to formulate the relation, “in Derrida,” of desire and obligation, sexual pleasure and moral law, Emmanuel Levinas and Immanuel Kant, the letters b + l, mourning and melancholy, but and butt, rams and rebellion, rebellion and oblivion, good conscience and good unconsciousness, and, ultimately, non-reading and (...) reading. (shrink)
In response to ThomasDutoit's ambitious summary of the two years of Derrida's Death Penalty Seminars, I take up the following themes: the deconstruction of death, Hugo's “advance,” and “the principle of substitution” in Freud.
Jacques Derrida, Aporias, tr. ThomasDutoit (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1993) 0-8047-2252-8. Jacques Derrida, The Other Heading: Reflections on Today's Europe, trs. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael B. Naas (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1992) 0-253-31693-6. Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International, tr. Peggy Kamuf (New York and London: Routledge, 1994) 0-415-91045-5.
The question naturally arises: Is public art inherently violent, or is it a provocation to violence? Is violence built into the monument in its very conception? Or is violence simply an accident that befalls some monuments, a matter of the fortunes of history? The historical record suggests that if violence is simply an accident that happens to public art, it is one that is always waiting to happen. The principal media and materials of public art are stone and metal sculpture (...) not so much by choice as by necessity. “A public sculpture,” says Lawrence Alloway, “should be invulnerable or inaccessible. It should have the material strength to resist attack or be easily cleanable, but it also needs a formal structure that is not wrecked by alterations.”12 The violence that surrounds public art is more, however, than simply the ever-present possibility of an accident—the natural disaster or random act of vandalism. Much of the world’s public art—memorials, monuments, triumphal arches, obelisks, columns, and statues—has a rather direct reference to violence in the form of war or conquest. From Ozymandias to Caesar to Napoleon to Hitler, public art has served as a kind of monumentalizing of violence, and never more powerfully than when it presents the conqueror as a man of peace, imposing a Napoleonic code or a pax Romana on the world. Public sculpture that is too frank or explicit about this monumentalizing of violence, whether the Assyrian palace reliefs of the ninth century b.c., or Morris’s bomb sculpture proposal of 1981, is likely to offend the sensibilities of a public committed to the repression of its own complicity in violence.13 The very notion of public art as we receive it is inseparable from what Jürgen Habermas has called “the liberal model of the public sphere,” a dimension distinct from the economic, the private, and the political. This ideal realm provides the space in which disinterested citizens may contemplate a transparent emblem of their own inclusiveness and solidarity, and deliberate on the general good, free of coercion, violence, or private interests.14 12. Lawrence Alloway, “The Public Sculpture Problem,” Studio International 184 : 124.13. See Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, “The Forms of Violence,” October, no. 8 : 17-29, for an important critique of the “narrativization” of violence in Western art and an examination of the alternative suggested by the Assyrian palace reliefs.14. Habermas first introduced this concept in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger and Frederick Lawrence . First published in 1962, it has since become the focus of an extensive literature. See also Habermas’s short encyclopedia article, “The Public Sphere,” trans. Sara Lennox and Frank Lennox, New German Critique 1 : 49-55, and the introduction to it by Peter Hohendahl in the same issue, pp. 45-48. I owe much to the guidance of Miriam Hansen and Lauren Berlant on this complex and crucial topic. W. J. T. Mitchell, editor of Critical Inquiry, is Gaylord Donnelly Distinguished Service Professor of English and art at the University of Chicago. His recent book is Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology. (shrink)
Contemporary Philosophy in Focus offers a series of introductory volumes to many of the dominant philosophical thinkers of the current age. Thomas Kuhn, the author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, is probably the best-known and most influential historian and philosopher of science of the last 25 years, and has become something of a cultural icon. His concepts of paradigm, paradigm change and incommensurability have changed the way we think about science. This volume offers an introduction to Kuhn's life (...) and work and then considers the implications of Kuhn's work for philosophy, cognitive psychology, social studies of science and feminism. The volume is more than a retrospective on Kuhn, exploring future developments of cognitive and information services along Kuhnian lines. Outside of philosophy the volume will be of particular interest to professionals and students in cognitive science, history of science, science studies and cultural studies. (shrink)
Difficult moral issues in economic life, such as evaluating the impact of hostile takeovers and plant relocations or determining the obligations of business to the environment, constitute the raison d'etre of business ethics. Yet, while the ultimate resolution of such issues clearly requires detailed, normative analysis, a shortcoming of business ethics is that to date it has failed to develop an adequate normative theory. 1 The failing is especially acute when it results in an inability to provide a basis for (...) fine-grained analyses of issues. Both general moral theories and stakeholder theory seem incapable of expressing the moral complexity necessary to provide practical normative guidance for many business ethics contexts. (shrink)
This is a new edition of a speech about Buddhism by Rudolf Otto from 1913. This speech is his first academic reflexion of his journey around the world and his most detailed explanation of his view on this religion. In the first part of his speech Otto compares Buddhism with Christianity and finds a lot of parallels. In the second part he defines differences between these two religions and proclaims – from a Christian perspective – Christianity as more valuable than (...) Buddhism. The preface puts the speech into its context: Otto’s relationship to and his knowledge of Buddhism, the history of publication of this speech, Otto’s specific view on Buddhism in comparison to his contemporaries, the meaning of this speech in his œuvre and explanations about the edition. The editor has the opinion, that this speech is an important transition from Ottos philosophy of religion to his main work The Idea of the Holy. It further is a good example of what Otto means when speaking about the comparison of religions. (shrink)
Abstract Freedom in the sense of free will is a multiway power to do any one of a number of things, leaving it up to us which one of a range of options by way of action we perform. What are the ethical implications of our possession of such a power? The paper examines the pre-Hobbesian scholastic view of writers such as Peter Lombard and Francisco Suárez: freedom as a multiway power is linked to the right to liberty understood as (...) a right to exercise that power, and to liberation as a desirable goal involving the perfection of that power. Freedom as a power, liberty as a right, and liberation as a desirable goal, are all linked within this scholastic view to a distinctive theory of law as constituting, in its primary form of natural law, the normative recognition of human freedom. Hobbes's denial of the very existence of freedom as a power led him to a radical revision both of the theory of law and of the relation of law to liberty. Law and liberty were no longer harmonious phenomena, but were left in essential conflict. One legacy of Hobbes is the attempt to base a theory of law and liberty not on freedom as a multiway power, but on rationality. Instead of an ethics of freedom, we have an ethics of reason as involving autonomy. The paper expresses some scepticism about the prospects for such an appeal to reason as a replacement for multiway freedom. (shrink)
Thomas Reid saw the three subjects of logic, rhetoric, and the fine arts as closely cohering aspects of one endeavor that he called the culture of the mind. This was a topic on which Reid lectured for many years in Glasgow, and this volume presents as near a reconstruction of these lectures as is now possible. Though virtually unknown today, this material in fact relates closely to Reid's published works and in particular to the late Essays on the Intellectual (...) Powers of Man and Essays on the Active Powers of Man. When composing these works, Reid drew primarily on his lectures on "pneumatology," which presented a theory of the mental powers, broadly conceived. These lectures were basic to the course on the culture of the mind that explained the cultivation of the mental powers. Although the Essays also included some elements from the material on the culture of the mind, the bulk of the latter was left in manuscript form, and Alexander Broadie's edition restores this important extension of Reid's overall work. In addition, this volume continues the attractive combination of manuscript material and published work, in this case Reid's important and well-known essay on Aristotle's logic. This text was corrupted in earlier editions of Reid's works and is now restored to the state in which Reid left it. This volume underscores Reid's great and growing significance, viewed both as a historical figure and as a philosopher. At the same time, it is of great interdisciplinary importance. While the material emerges directly from the core of Reid's philosophy, as now understood, it will appeal widely to people in literary, cultural, historical, and communications studies. In this regard, the present volume is a true fruit of the Scottish Enlightenment. (shrink)
Thomas Paine was an English-American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, and he inspired the rebels in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination." Odin's Library Classics is dedicated to bringing (...) the world the best of humankind's literature from throughout the ages. Carefully selected, each work is unabridged from classic works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or drama. (shrink)
A central figure in Western history and American political thought, Thomas Paine continues to provoke debate among politicians, activists, and scholars. People of all ideological stripes are inspired by his trenchant defense of the rights and good sense of ordinary individuals, and his penetrating critiques of arbitrary power. This volume contains Paine’s explosive Common Sense in its entirety, including the oft-ignored Appendix, as well as selections from his other major writings: The American Crisis, Rights of Man, and The Age (...) of Reason. It also contains several of Paine’s shorter essays. All the documents have been transcribed directly from the originals, making this edition the most reliable one available. Essays by Ian Shapiro, Jonathan Clark, Jane Calvert, and Eileen Hunt Botting bring Paine into sharp focus, illuminating his place in the tumultuous decades surrounding the American and French Revolutions and his larger historical legacy. (shrink)
" This collection proves otherwise, for the letters illuminate virtually every aspect of Reid's life and career and, in some instances, provide us with invaluable evidence about activities otherwise undocumented in his manuscripts or ...
Thomas Jefferson is among the most important and controversial of American political thinkers: his influence (libertarian, democratic, participatory, and agrarian-republican) is still felt today. A prolific writer, Jefferson left 18,000 letters, Notes on the State of Virginia, an Autobiography, and numerous other papers. Joyce Appleby and Terence Ball have selected the most important of these for presentation in the Cambridge Texts series: Jefferson's views on topics such as revolution, self-government, the role of women and African-American and Native Americans emerge (...) to give a fascinating insight into a man who owned slaves, yet advocated the abolition of slavery. The texts are supported by a concise introduction, suggestions for further reading and short biographies of key figures, all providing invaluable assistance to the student encountering the breadth and richness of Jefferson's thought for the first time. (shrink)
Professor Thomas Osborne and The Structure of Modern Cultural Theory visited Prague in mid-2018 and presented a paper On Montesquieu, Markets and the Liberalism of Fear. The interview was conducted online by Dr. Filip Vostal in autumn 2020.
The Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid first published Essays on Active Powers of Man in 1788 while he was Professor of Philosophy at King's College, Aberdeen. The work contains a set of essays on active power, the will, principles of action, the liberty of moral agents, and morals. Reid was a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment and one of the founders of the 'common sense' school of philosophy. In Active Powers Reid gives his fullest exploration of sensus communis as (...) the basis of all philosophical inquiry. He uses common sense realism to argue for the existence of a stable external world, the existence of other minds, and to offer a powerful challenge to versions of the Theory of Ideas advocated by Hume and Locke . This is a key work of the Scottish Enlightenment that made important contributions to fundamental debates about the basis of philosophical inquiry. (shrink)
The paper discusses some aspects of the relationship between Feyerabend and Kuhn. First, some biographical remarks concerning their connections are made. Second, four characteristics of Feyerabend and Kuhn's concept of incommensurability are discussed. Third, Feyerabend's general criticism of Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions is reconstructed. Fourth and more specifically, Feyerabend's criticism of Kuhn's evaluation of normal science is critically investigated. Finally, Feyerabend's re-evaluation of Kuhn's philosophy towards the end of his life is presented.
This paper examines some of the metaphysical assumptions behind Aquinas’s denials that a human rational soul unites with matter at conception and that a human rational soul is capable of developing and arranging the organic parts of an embryo. The paper argues that Buridan does not share these assumptions and holds that a soul is capable of developing and arranging organic parts. It argues that, given hylomorphism about the nature of organisms, including human beings, Buridan’s view is philosophically superior to (...) Aquinas’s in several respects. Finally, the paper poses an apparent inconsistency between several of Buridan’s texts on this topic and attempts to show that the inconsistency is merely apparent. (shrink)
A good account of the agnostic attitude of Suspending Judgement should explain how it can be rendered more or less rational/justified according to the state of one's evidence – and one's relation to that evidence. I argue that the attitude of suspending judgement whether p constitutively involves having a belief; roughly, a belief that one cannot yet tell whether or not p. I show that a theory of suspending that treats it as a sui generis attitude, wholly distinct from belief, (...) struggles to account for how suspension of judgement can be rendered more or less rational (or irrational) by one's evidence. I also criticise the related idea that suspension essentially requires an 'Inquiring Attitude'. I show how a belief-based theory, in contrast, neatly accounts for the rational and epistemic features of suspending and so neatly accounts for why an agnostic has a genuine neutral opinion concerning the question whether p, as opposed to simply having no opinion. (shrink)
There is a long history of worrying about whether or not metaphysics is a legitimate philosophical discipline. Traditionally such worries center around issues of meaning and epistemological concerns. Do the metaphysical questions have any meaning? Can metaphysical methodology lead to knowledge? But these questions are, in my opinion, not as serious as they have sometimes (historically) been taken to be. What is much more concerning is another set of worries about metaphysics, which I take to the greatest threat to metaphysics (...) as a philosophical discipline. These worries, in effect, hold that the questions that metaphysics tries to answer have long been answered in other parts of inquiry, ones that have much greater authority. And if they haven’t been answered yet then one should not look to philosophy for an answer. What metaphysics tries to do has been or will be done by the sciences. There is nothing left to do for philosophy, or so the worry. Let me illustrate this with two examples, one of which is our main concern here. (shrink)
Thomas Reid was a philosopher who founded the Scottish school of 'common sense'. Much of Reid's work is a critique of his contemporary, David Hume, whose empiricism he rejects. In this work, written after Reid's appointment to a professorship at the university of Glasgow, and published in 1785, he turns his attention to ideas about perception, memory, conception, abstraction, judgement, reasoning and taste. He examines the work of his predecessors and contemporaries, arguing that 'when we find philosophers maintaining that (...) there is no heat in the fire, nor colour in the rainbow … we may be apt to think the whole to be only a dream of fanciful men, who have entangled themselves in cobwebs spun out of their own brain'. Written by one of the Scottish Enlightenment's most important thinkers, this work brings to life the intellectual debates of the time. (shrink)
Thomas Hobbes. CHAPITRE IV LE TEXTE DU MANUSCRIT DE PARIS (Fonds latin 6566 A) Le manuscrit Ce manuscrit est un petit in-folio dont la reliure en chagrin couvert de velours, d'un genre qui n'est pas rare à la fin du xvif siècle et au ...
With each of our three criminal-law topics—defining offenses, apprehending suspects, and establishing punishments—we feel, I believe, strong moral resistance to the idea that our practices should be settled by a prospective-participant perspective. This becomes quite clear when we look at how the “reforms” suggested by institutional viewing might combine once we consider all three topics together: imagine a more extensive and swifter use of the death penalty in homicide cases coupled with somewhat lower standards of evidence; or think of backing (...) a strict-liability criminal statute with the death penalty. Of course, such “reforms” would increase the execution of innocents; but, their proponents will tell us, any penal system involves the punishment of some innocents, and, if it provides for the death penalty, the execution of some innocents. Moreover, why is it worse for innocents to be punished than for innocents to suffer an equivalent harm in some other way? Formulated from a prospective-participant perspective: Why not run a small risk of being innocently executed in exchange for reducing, much more significantly, the risk of dying prematurely in other ways? (shrink)
In the first systematic study of the philosophy of Thomas Nagel, Alan Thomas discusses Nagel's contrast between the "subjective" and the "objective" points of view throughout the various areas of his wide ranging philosophy. Nagel's original and distinctive contrast between the subjective view and our aspiration to a "view from nowhere" within metaphysics structures the chapters of the book. A "new Humean" in epistemology, Nagel takes philosophical scepticism to be both irrefutable and yet to indicate a profound truth (...) about our capacity for self-transcendence. The contrast between subjective and objective views is then considered in the case of the mind, where consciousness proves to be the central aspect of mind that contemporary theorising fails to acknowledge adequately. The second half of the book analyses Nagel's work on moral and political philosophy where he has been most deeply influential. Topics covered include the contrast between agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons and values, Nagel's distinctive version of a hybrid ethical theory, his discussion of life's meaningfulness and finally his sceptical arguments about whether a liberal society can reconcile the conflicting moral demands of self and other. (shrink)
This paper examines H.A. Prichard's defense of the view that moral duty is underivative, as reflected in his argument that it is a mistake to ask “Why ought I to do what I morally ought?”, because the only possible answer is “Because you morally ought to.” This view was shared by other philosophers of Prichard's period, from Henry Sidgwick through A.C. Ewing, but Prichard stated it most forcefully and defended it best. The paper distinguishes three stages in Prichard's argument: one (...) appealing to his conceptual minimalism, one an epistemological argument that parallels Moore's response to skepticism about the external world, and one arguing that attempts to justify moral duties on non-moral grounds distort the phenomena by giving those duties the wrong explanation or ground. The paper concludes by considering Prichard's critique of ancient ethics and in particular the ethics of Aristotle. The paper is broadly sympathetic to Prichard's position and arguments; its aim is partly to make a case for him as a central figure in the history of ethics. (shrink)
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