In this paper, I create philosophical space for the importance of how we say things as an adjunct to attending to what is said, drawing on Stanley Cavell's discussions of moral perfectionism and passionate utterance. In the light of this, I assess claims made for the contribution drama makes to moral education. In Cities of Words, Cavell gestures towards Plato's dialogue Euthyphro, where Socrates asks what kind of disagreement causes hatred and anger. The answer is disagreement on moral questions. The (...) consequent ethical conditioning of such speech might demand that our seriousness is marked by calm, respectful and open conversation. I argue this might fail to fully reflect how an individual takes his/her life seriously and how passionate speech such as we find in dramatic dialogue could convey this. I develop the register of moral perfectionism that Cavell identifies in Ibsen's A Doll's House in relation to moral seriousness. I argue that the drama classroom can help, not simply by bringing out the inhere.. (shrink)
This paper examines the debate around the headscarf in France with the view to critically examining two central arguments put forward by the Stasi Commission for the restriction of the headscarf in French public schools—that the headscarf imperiled public order and that it jeopardized neutrality in the public sphere. In the case of the first argument, this paper argues that France did not meet the threshold requirement necessary to curtail religious rights in public schools. In the case of the second (...) argument, this paper insists that neutrality in the pulic sphere has always involved some accommodation of religious groups in society and should include the headscarf in public schools. The paper argues that the decision to ban the headscarf is ultimately a controversy about French identity and the values on which the French community is built. (shrink)
The present paper outlines the main points of Heidegger’s philosophical program starting from his early lectures of Freiburg. This program is founded in two fundamental questions. On the one hand, a thematic question: the phenomenon of life and its different forms of manifestation and apprehension. On the other hand, an eminently methodological question, namely the question of how it is possible to access in a correct manner to the primary sphere of life. This last issue conducts the young Heidegger to (...) a first and deep questioning of Husserl’s reflexive phenomenology that ends up in his hermeneutic turn of phenomenology. (shrink)
In 1967, American biologist Adrian Wenner (1928-) launched an extensive challenge to Karl von Frisch's (1886-1982) theory that bees communicate to each other the direction and distance of food sources by a symbolic dance language. Wenner and various collaborators argued that bees locate foods solely by odors. Although the dispute had largely run its course by 1973 -- von Frisch was awarded a Nobel Prize, while Wenner withdrew from active bee research -- it offers us a rare window into (...) mid-twentieth century discussions about animals, language, and cognition. Historians, sociologists, and scientists have commented on the debate and its outcome, but none has seriously questioned why von Frisch and Wenner pursued such different explanations of the bees' dances. In this paper, I explore von Frisch and Wenner's differing visions of animals and their behaviors and show how these contributed to their respective positions. Von Frisch's early-twentieth-century training in experimental physiology disposed him to focus on individual animals, their abilities, and their behaviors' evolutionary significance. Wenner, by contrast, was trained in mathematics and statistics and the Schneirla school of behavior. He viewed the bees' behaviors probabilistically with an eye toward the entire hive and its surroundings and ultimately explained them in terms of simple stimulus--response conditioning. Finally, while the debate was resolved in von Frisch's favor, he neither waged nor won the battle by himself. Instead, I show that practitioners, whose agendas ranged from the nascent fields of sociobiology to cognitive ethology, took up the cause of the communicating bees. (shrink)
As historian Henning Schmidgen notes, the scientific study of the nervous system would have been “unthinkable” without the industrialization of communication in the 1830s. Historians have investigated extensively the way nerve physiologists have borrowed concepts and tools from the field of communications, particularly regarding the nineteenth-century work of figures like Helmholtz and in the American Cold War Era. The following focuses specifically on the interwar research of the Cambridge physiologist Edgar Douglas Adrian, and on the technology that led to (...) his Nobel-Prize-winning research, the thermionic vacuum tube. Many countries used the vacuum tube during the war for the purpose of amplifying and intercepting coded messages. These events provided a context for Adrian's evolving understanding of the nerve fiber in the 1920s. In particular, they provide the background for Adrian's transition around 1926 to describing the nerve impulse in terms of “information,” “messages,” “signals,” or even “codes,” and for translating the basic principles of the nerve, such as the all-or-none principle and adaptation, into such an “informational” context. The following also places Adrian's research in the broader context of the changing relationship between science and technology, and between physics and physiology, in the first few decades of the twentieth century. (shrink)
I give a response to Adrian Wüthrich’s critical review of my analysis of the Higgs mechanism, in which I try to clarify some possible misunderstandings. I concede that, as Wüthrich points out, many physicists see the Higgs mechanism as the roll-over from a symmetrical potential in the initial Lagrangian to a symmetry-breaking potential, while my former analysis had basically focused on the gauge-invariant transformation of the initial Lagrangian into the intended form. My main contention, however, still is that neither (...) Higgs story has (as yet) much explanatory power. (shrink)
Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism, by Adrian Kuzminski, is a short monograph of four chapters in which the author argues that Pyrrho of Elis (ca. 365–270 b.c.e.) developed his form of skepticism after coming into contact with Indian philosophers on his journey with Alexander the Great. Although the subtitle suggests that the primary focus of the study will be to develop this argument for historical diffusion, the book is more of an apology for Pyrrhonism, which Kuzminski thinks (...) can be better understood by emphasizing its striking similarities with Buddhism. While presenting a plausible scenario for historical diffusion, he emphasizes parallels specifically with the Mādhyamaka school of .. (shrink)
This chapter examines the relevance of the thoughts of Gilles Deleuze to the works of Allan Kaprow and Adrian Piper. It argues that Kaprow had made a shift akin to Deleuze's move from expressionism to constructivism and addresses the politics of Kaprow's practice in relation to Deleuze's concept of counter-actualisation. It describes the alternative of Piper's practice as one that creates performance events capable of catalysing new social territories in and as life.
Adrian Johnston is well known for his work at the intersection of Lacanian psychoanalysis, German idealism, contemporary French philosophy and most recently cognitive neuroscience. In the context of the current issue, Johnston represents the most complete development of a contemporary theory of Transcendental Materialism. In the following interview we explore both the implications of Johnston’s previous work, as well as the directions his most recent projects are taking.
In this paper, I respond critically but sympathetically to Adrian Moore’s treatment of the early and the later Wittgenstein in his book The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics. With respect to the later work, I utilize Cavell’s reading of the status of the first-person plural in Wittgenstein to undermine Bernard Williams’s interpretation of it, and thereby to question Moore’s skepticism that the later Wittgenstein can accommodate the possibility of radical conceptual innovation. With respect to the early work, I utilize a (...) resolute reading of the Tractarian treatment of value to contest Moore’s understanding of the way in which transcendental idealism is woven into that treatment, and so into the book’s more general treatment of sense-making. (shrink)
In this commentary on Adrian Johnston's paper, “Drive Between Brain and Subject: An Immanent Critique of Lacanian Neuropsychoanalysis,” I consider whether his attempt to develop a materialist ground for psychoanalysis can avoid versions of reductionism and verificationism that would threaten any autonomy psychoanalysis might have as a science.
: Only the rise of science allowed us to identify scriptural ontologies as fantastic conceits, as anthropomorphizations of an indifferent universe. Now that science is beginning to genuinely disenchant the human soul, history suggests that traditional humanistic discourses are about to be rendered fantastic as well. Via a critical reading of Adrian Johnston’s ‘transcendental materialism,’ I attempt to show both the shape and the dimensions of the sociocognitive dilemma presently facing Continental philosophers as they appear to their outgroup detractors. (...) Trusting speculative a priori claims regarding the nature of processes and entities under scientific investigation already excludes Continental philosophers from serious discussion. Using such claims, as Johnston does, to assert the fundamentally intentional nature of the universe amounts to anthropomorphism. Continental philosophy needs to honestly appraise the nature of its relation to the scientific civilization it purports to decode and guide, lest it become mere fantasy, or worse yet, conceptual religion. (shrink)
Adrian Moore develops a helpful distinction between good and bad metaphysics. Employing this distinction, I argue, first, that some contemporary metaphysical theories might be ‘bad’, insofar as they employ, unreflectively, concepts akin to Kant’s Ideas of reason. Second, I investigate the difficulty Kant himself has with explaining our craving for bad metaphysics. Third, I raise some problems for Kant’s doctrine of ‘transcendental cognition’, which rests on the difficult assumption that Ideas have objective reality. I conclude that, while Kant has (...) given us means to combat certain bad metaphysics, his own philosophy is not entirely free of it either. (shrink)
Adrian Stokes , long admired by a small, highly distinguished, mostly English circle, was the natural successor to Pater and Ruskin. But though his place in cultural history is important, what is of particular interest now to art historians is his theory of the presentness of painting, a theory which offers a challenging critique of the practice of artwriting. From Vasari to the present, the most familiar rhetorical strategy of the art historian is the narrative of “the form, prophet-saviour-apostles,” (...) in which the first artist poses some problem that his successors develop and their successors solve.1 Such very different books as Art and Illusion and Art and Culture deploy that plan. The three periods of naturalism in E. H. Gombrich’s narrative—antiquity, Renaissance religious narrative, nineteenth-century landscape—function like Clement Greenberg’s sequence—old master art, early French modernism, American abstract expressionism. Gombrich and Greenberg disagree about how to narrate art’s history and about which works to include in that narrative—Gombrich asserts that cubism closes the canon while for Greenberg analytical cubism anticipates Jackson Pollock—but in each case, the art historian aims, as the novelist does, to tell a satisfying story and achieve narrative closure, and so how we think of the artworks the historian discusses depends in part upon the structure of the narrative. In a certain mood, we may find this fact intolerable. Why should a mere text tell us how to see the painting we may stand before?Stokes’ attempt to respond to this mood belongs to a tradition of early twentieth-century antihistorical thinking. For Rainer Maria Rilke, Rodin’s sculpture aimed to “refer to nothing that lay beyond it.” For Ezra Pound, an image “is real because we know it directly”; Henri Gaudier-Brzeska could read Chinese ideograms without knowing that language because those ideograms are transparently meaningful images. For Wyndham Lewis, a musical piece is inferior to a statue, “always there in its entirety before you.”2 Such an artwork need not be interpreted because it contains “within itself all that is relevant to itself.”3 All art is accessible to the gifted observer, and time is, in an interesting double sense, irrelevant. We see directly the meaning of works even from distant cultures; the visual artwork is experienced all at once, outside of time. If these claims are correct, what is the artwriter to do? Speaking of the Tempio Malatestiana, Hugh Kenner points to this issue:There is no description of the Tempio in accordance with good Vorticist logic: one art does not attempt what another can do better, and the meaning of the Tempio has been fully explicated on the spot by Agostino di Duccio with his chisel.4 1. Michael Baxandall, Giotto and the Orators: Humanist Observers of Painting in Italy and the Discovery of Pictorial Composition 1350-1450 , p. 75.2. Rainer Maria Rilke, Rodin, trans. Jessie Lemont and Hans Trausil , p. 19; Ezra Pound, Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir , p. 86; Wyndham Lewis, Time and Western Man , p. 174.3. Frank Kermode, Romantic Image , p. 107.4. Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era , p. 428. David Carrier, associate professor of philosophy at Carnegie-Mellon University, is coauthor, with Mark Roskill, of Truth and Falsehood in Visual Images and author of the forthcoming Artwriting, a study of recent American art criticism. He is working on a history of art history. (shrink)
Jonathan Rosenbaum _Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons_ Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004 ISBN 0-8018-7840-3 hb xxi + 445 pp. _Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia_ Edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum and Adrian Martin London: British Film Institute, 2003 ISBN 0851709834 hb; 0851709842 pb 224 pp. Jonathan Rosenbaum _Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Films We Can See_ London: Wallflower Press, 2002 ISBN 1-903364-23-X pb 192 pp.
Defining sustainability is a tricky endeavor. While Adrian Parr’s Hijacking Sustainability does not contribute a clear definition of the term, it does provide a series of interesting and useful examples to illustrate some of the difficulties and inconsistencies of applying so-called sustainable ideals to a capitalist infrastructure. While the concept behind Parr’s work is intriguing, the book itself, which focuses on the nature, construction, and impact of sustainability culture, is verbose, convoluted, and difficult.