A. J. Ayer, who died in 1989, was acknowledged as one of Britain's most distinguished philosophers. In this memorial collection of essays leading Western philosophers reflect on Ayer's place in the history of philosophy and explore aspects of his thought and teaching. The volume also includes a posthumous essay by Ayer himself: 'A defence of empiricism'. These essays are undoubtedly a fitting tribute to a major figure, but the collection is not simply retrospective; rather it looks forward to present and (...) future developments in philosophical thought that Ayer's work has stimulated. (shrink)
Classification of patients with back pain in order to inform treatments is a long‐standing aim in medicine. We used latent class analysis (LCA) to classify patients with low back pain and investigate whether different classes responded differently to a cognitive behavioural intervention. The objective was to provide additional guidance on the use of cognitive behavioural therapy to both patients and clinicians.
There are thirteen essays in this collection. Sophisticated disquisitions on rather disparate topics, they contain a number of statements which are obscure to me and, I wager, to many readers, including metaphysicians. There is space here to note only a few of the several recurrent themes in Miller’s essays. First and foremost is the notion of the primacy of action. The affirmation of values, he says, is not a "matter of logic but of action," and "values become real only in (...) the deed"—values being prior to mere facts. Miller’s action-philosophy entails an exaltation of will over intellect. For instance, he says that "the pursuit of truth is itself a gesture of will." Another recurrent theme is the human inescapability of history—of time, process, transitoriness, corruptibility. What Miller calls "ahistorical sublimity" is purchased at too high a price-the price of a "radical impersonality" with an "apparent irrelevance to action and values." Miller’s view of freedom can be called intellectualist: "It is," he says, "in the ‘revision’ of truth that freedom is found." He refers not to "static" truth in the impersonal mode of physics but to dynamic truth in the mode of personal creativity. For "creative adventure," by action and experiment, he holds, is the mark of freedom. The entire "midworld" of artifacts, including arts, sciences, and languages, is the province of "responsible freedom." This whole area should be marked by "skepticism" as well as freedom, because skepticism is man’s best weapon against "absolutist pretensions," Miller persuasively argues. Furthermore, he stresses the point that there is no fact within our ken which is not linguistically expressible, so that "responsible humanism" is inconceivable without responsible use of language. The desideratum, as Miller says, is "controlled receptivity" regarding the employment of all linguistic signs and instruments. For "nature," the common object of all our knowledge, embraces not only facts but artifacts as well, including languages. He says that only "purposeful artifacts"-especially languages—put us in touch with actuality and history. History alone, he argues, leads into philosophy. "Ahistoric ideals," present everywhere in classical thought, stand in the way of this wedding of history and philosophy. A happy wedding for, according to Miller, there is no human knowledge that is not historical; everything human is dated. Miller is an action-philosopher because he is a history-philosopher. He contends that there is no freedom for us outside of history. He hails skepticism regarding "ahistoric ideals" as a kind of "negative absolutism." And he says that such skepticism is an "experience, not a theory," and that it makes "metaphysics of the transcendent" possible. He does not explain what that metaphysics is. Apparently, his "skepticism" is the awareness of the limited character of all philosophies. If so, it is, for Miller, our chief safeguard against the use of bloated language in the service of the ahistoric ideal.—J.F.A. (shrink)
Anyone who has ever tried to teach the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein to undergraduate students will welcome this volume as a classroom aid. Using the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations as their basic sources, the authors have collected textual references under eighteen general topics. A partial list of the topics includes: "The Picture-Theory," "Naming," "Private Languages," "Meaning and Use," and "Philosophical Method." In each case there are cross references to the basic texts and, where applicable, references to the Notebooks, the (...) Blue and Brown Books, Zettel and Philosophische Bemerkungen. The great service that this text performs is that it illustrates the unity of Wittgenstein’s thought—a fact that is not immediately apparent in one’s first contact with either the Tractatus or the Investigations. An important feature of the workbook is that, in addition to the references to Wittgenstein’s own work, each topic includes references to classical and contemporary treatments of the issue so that Wittgenstein’s work will not be regarded as a "curiosity in the history of philosophy." On the facing page of each topic the authors have supplied a series of questions for discussion, some of which call for straightforward textual interpretation while others require sophisticated philosophical reasoning. Thus, depending on the competence of the students, the questions can be dealt with on a variety of levels. The program of topics is designed to emphasize the continuity of Wittgenstein’s thought, and to combat the widely held view that the Investigations is a repudiation of most of the doctrines of the Tractatus. Perhaps this is why several important topics, e.g., "Grammar," "Family Resemblances," and "Seeing As," are not treated at all. But there are other sources in which the textual references for these topics can be found, and the neglect of these topics does not take away from the usefulness of the text as a class aid.—J. J. F. (shrink)
Professor Frondizi's The Nature of the Self proposes to solve the problems involved in conceiving the self as a substance. The first section of the book is an historical study of the gradual disintegration, after Descartes, of the view that the self is a substance. The second section offers an account of the self that is presumably not contaminated by this "substantialist outlook." Frondizi's attempt to trace the disintegration of Descartes' concept of the self through Locke, Berkeley and Hume is (...) not remarkable. Rather than a detailed exegesis of the texts of these philosophers, Frondizi presents a polemical commentary, relying on selected letters and a few obvious and familiar texts. He intends to prove that the British philosophers were forced to opt either for the substantialist view of the self or no theory of the self at all. Frondizi excuses this simplistic and biased judgment on the grounds that he is attempting to chart a philosophical movement rather than follow the thought of a particular philosopher: "The history of philosophy has a certain sense of direction, even though there be no concrete goal; and in some periods it is easy to note the general direction in which ideas are developing. Such is the case with the period which extends from Locke to Hume." Such surveys, however, usually beget unwarranted generalizations; certainly Frondizi's has. His thesis that the British philosophers were forced to choose either "substantialism" or skepticism shows a shallow understanding of the empiricist view of the self. This misunderstanding is the basis upon which Frondizi builds his own account of the self. His task, as he sees it, is to preserve the permanence of the self while providing for changes in moods, attitudes, etc. The "functional" interpretation of the self that results from Frondizi's proposal is Gestalt psychology unadulterated. According to Frondizi the self is a "functional Gestalt," a "dynamic structure"; and this homeostatic character accounts for the permanence as well as the fluctuations in the self. In other words, Frondizi advocates a naïve version of Kurt Lewin's "field theory" of the self. Yet, philosophers both Continental and Anglo-American have cautioned against taking Gestalt theory as an unqualified solution to problems endemic of philosophy. Also, psychologists have raised serious objections to Lewin's theory. Moreover, even granted that Frondizi was not familiar with these authors, has Frondizi's naïve study answered Hume? To what extent does a "structure" change and what are the criteria for determining when a structure is dissolved? Hume is not refuted merely by identifying the self with the Whole. Frondizi himself must either claim "substantiality" for his "dynamic structure" or submit it to Hume's analysis. Frondizi advocates an uncritical Gestalttheorie of the self as a result of his uncritical reading of 18th Century British philosophy. As a consequence, Frondizi's book is another example of how not to combine philosophy with psychology.--J. J. F. (shrink)
With the publication of these two volumes the ground has now been prepared for a long awaited event, the critical edition of the works of Henry of Ghent. Henry was one of the outstanding philosophizing-theologians at the University of Paris in the second half of the thirteenth century and, during the period between the death of Thomas Aquinas in 1274 and the ascendancy of John Duns Scotus near the beginning of the fourteenth century, no other Master surpassed him in terms (...) of influence or importance. During his tenure there as Master in the theology faculty, Henry conducted fifteen Quodlibetal disputes. His written versions of these, along with his Summa of ordinary Disputed Questions, constitute his most important surviving works. And of these, his Quodlibets rank first. Henry's philosophical and theological views were highly original and drew considerable reaction from other leading Masters of the time, especially from Giles of Rome, Godfrey of Fontaines, and somewhat later, from Duns Scotus. While his personal thought cannot be reduced to that of any earlier thinker or tradition, his views were heavily influenced by Augustine, by Avicenna, and by various other Neoplatonic currents. At the same time, while he was quite familiar with the texts and thought of Aristotle, he reacted strongly against the more radical form of Aristotelianism developed by Siger of Brabant, Boethius of Dacia, and other Masters in the Arts Faculty at Paris in the 1260s and 1270s. Aquinas's incorporation of many Aristotelian positions into his own thought was also suspect in Henry's eyes. Given this background, Henry himself may be regarded as an outstanding representative of the Neo-Augustinian philosophical current which surfaced at Paris around 1270, which triumphed with the condemnation of 219 propositions by Stephen Tempier, Bishop of Paris, in 1277, and which would continue to be a dominant philosophical force until the end of the century. The need for a critical edition of his Quodlibets and his Summa has long been recognized, since the only printed versions date from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In these first two volumes of Henry's Opera omnia Macken has prepared the way for the critical edition of Henry's works and especially of his Quodlibets. Here one finds a valuable catalog, based on first-hand inspection, of the widely scattered manuscripts of Henry's works. The catalog also contains expert codicological descriptions of the contents of these manuscripts, including works whose authenticity remains doubtful. Manuscripts are also considered which contain works that treat ex professo of Henry's doctrine. This is followed by an appendix which surveys ancient references to other manuscripts allegedly containing Henry's works, which manuscripts have not yet been found. Then there is a Répertoire, not of manuscripts but of Henry's works themselves, including certainly authentic works, works of doubtful authenticity, and finally, in another short appendix, works which have been falsely ascribed to him. A third part of this survey of Henry's works is devoted to manuscripts of other writers who discuss Henry's doctrine ex professo. The two volumes conclude with all the necessary indices. One must congratulate Macken for the care, the industry, and the meticulous scholarship with which he has prepared these two volumes. Not only are they of great value to anyone interested in the manuscript tradition of Henry's works and doctrine; they also include helpful descriptions of the writings of many other medieval authors which are contained in many of these same manuscripts. They will undoubtedly be carefully combed for decades to come by other scholars interested in these same authors and manuscripts. These volumes will be indispensable for libraries of institutions making any serious claim to expertise in the history of medieval philosophical and theological thought. One can only wish Macken and his international team of collaborators every success in their next immediate task, the actual edition of Henry's most important works, his fifteen Quodlibetal Questions.--J.F.W. (shrink)
The word dona is an embarrassment here. If Agricola was appointed to ‘check the gifts of the temples’, that is, gifts which temples had received, it seems an odd restriction in a phrase which one would expect to refer to temple possessions in general. What the context, especially in the word sacrilegium, makes clear, as commentators have duly noted, is that the temples suffered losses through the plunder of their works of art by Nero and also by others, although the (...) result tended to obliterate the guilt of others. This was after the fire at Rome in A.D. 64. See H. Furneaux rev. J. G. C. Anderson , pp.55 f.; R. Till , p.62; I. Forni , p.108; R. M. Ogilvie and Ian Richmond , p.152. (shrink)
Professor Sutherland has argued that ‘God wills the good’ should be regarded as an analytic truth, with the consequence that any account of what is God's will in which it does not appear to be good is either a mistake about God's will or a mistake about what is good.
Wittgenstein always thought that he had not been understood, and indeed that it was very unlikely that many people ever would understand him. Russell not only failed to understand Wittgenstein's later work; according to Wittgenstein himself, Russell profoundly failed to understand even the Tractatus. Professor Anscombe says even she did not understand him, and that to attempt to give an account of what he says is only to express one's own ordinariness or mediocrity or lack of complexity. Certainly, most people (...) acquainted with the Tractatus, when that work was Wittgenstein's only published book, gave it what now seems a quite crass positivistic interpretation. Wittgenstein's own preface to the Tractatus, despite its last sentence, does not help. He does tell us that the whole sense of the work is that what can be said can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must consign to silence: but this does not make it clear that what we cannot talk about is all that is really important. Even when one has realised all this, however, one is aware mostly of one's failure to understand; and that if one did get any distance in understanding the last sixth of the Tractatus, the process would be extremely difficult, and the results quite astonishing. (shrink)
I am concerned with a very problematic concept of identity which one encounters in studies of practical problems concerning the adoption of children. The notion is problematic in the extreme, as I shall try to show. It seems to crop up not only in the work of researchers on this topic, but in the spontaneous and untutored accounts of themselves given by adoptees. The question is whether there is a concept here at all: by which I mean not, instead, a (...) family of concepts linked by family resemblances, but rather some disparate ideas linked only by verbal similarities, and run together for mistaken theoretical purposes. The notion arises crucially in attempts to deal with practical questions arising in determining policies with regard to adoption: with regard to the placement of children for adoption, and the advice to be given to adoptive parents and to adopted children, whether young or adult, who encounter, or perhaps do not even encounter, difficulties. (shrink)
This paper gives an account of the debate between F.A. Hayek and J.M. Keynes in the 1930s written for the general public. The purpose of this is twofold. First, to provide the general reader with a narrative of what happened, … More ›.
Some notices to Thibaut's Science of Pandects. For A. F. J. Thibaut, the main concern was a "philosophical" approach to the interpretation and systematization of the positive Roman Law in his time. In his eyes, the object of a subjective right is an action, not a thing or person. Therefore he was cautious not to use abstractions, definitions, and deductions from "dreamt" postulates. Regarding the logical texture of an institute of private law as a "Gestalt", it follows that the "equity (...) of the reason," of a law, for different cases, is the same thing as that "Gestalt". The "philosophical" interpretation of a law is then an interpretation in respect to its "Gestalt". Although Thibaut's main concern was the interpretation of the positive Roman Law in his time (the "Gemeinrecht") he did not disregard the history of Roman Law before and especially after Justinian. (shrink)
Christology seems to fall fairly clearly into two divisions. The first is concerned with the truth of the two propositions: ‘Christ is God’ and ‘Christ is a man’. The second is concerned with the mutual compatibility of these propositions. The first part of Christology tends to confine itself to what is sometimes called ‘positive theology’: that is to say, it is largely given over to examining the Jons revelationis —let us not prejudge currently burning issues by asking what this is—to (...) see what evidence can be found for the truth of these propositions. Clearly, the methods used will be above all those of New Testament exegesis. The second part of Christology will necessarily consist entirely of that speculative theology which is contrasted with positive theology. Even if the earliest speculation on this topic is to be found in the New Testament itself and thus becomes fair game for the exegetes, any attempt to relate the primary truths, ‘Christ is God’ and ‘Christ is a man’, to eachother is a work of reflection, and in the terminology I am using speculative. (shrink)