On April 1, 2016, at the Annual Meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association, a book symposium, organized by Alyssa Ney, was held in honor of David Albert’s After Physics. All participants agreed that it was a valuable and enlightening session. We have decided that it would be useful, for those who weren’t present, to make our remarks publicly available. Please bear in mind that what follows are remarks prepared for the session, and that on some (...) points participants may have changed their minds in light of the ensuing discussion. (shrink)
The American system of education makes important and sometimes unjustified assumptions that were questioned and criticized nearly a hundred years ago by author and educational theorist Albert Jay Nock. This essay discusses Nock’s theory of American education and finds that certain of these assumptions stand greatly in need of the support of evidence.
Im Roman „Der Fremde“, dem Drama „Caligula“ und insbesondere dem Essay „Der Mythos des Sisyphos“ entwickelt Albert Camus eine erste Fassung einer „Logik des Absurden“. Die menschliche Existenz sei geprägt durch ein Spannungsverhältnis zwischen unserem Streben nach Sinn und einer dieses Streben fortwährend enttäuschenden Welt. Auf die Erkenntnis dieser Tatsache darf man Camus zufolge weder mit Selbstmord noch mit dem Aufgeben des Strebens nach Sinn reagieren. Vielmehr fordert er eine Haltung der beständigen Auflehnung. In meinem Artikel gehe ich der (...) Frage nach, wie schlüssig diese frühe „Logik des Absurden“ ist. Es wird sich zeigen, dass Camus’ Thesen in dem von ihm intendierten für alle Menschen gültigen und objektiven Sinn kaum haltbar sind. Ihr großes Potential entfalten sie erst, wenn man sie psychologisch wendet. Camus skizziert einen plausiblen Weg, wie wir trotz der beständigen Unerfülltheit unseres Strebens nach Sinn ein Leben in Glück und Würde führen können. (shrink)
In the 13th century, the availability of Aristotle’s treatises of natural philosophy encouraged forms of integration between libri naturales and sapientia biblica. Instead of diving into allegory and symbolism, several Dominican exegetes began to explore more realistic approaches. The foremost figure is Albert the Great. In his biblical commentaries, philosophy of nature and theology join forces as complementary forms of knowledge. By focusing on Albert’s De vegetabilibus, this paper is aimed at analyzing in which ways the Dominican master (...) reuses his naturalistic and, especially, botanical knowledge as an exegetical tool to deepen both the historical and the allegorical sense, realism and spiritual interpretation. (shrink)
The Dominican theologian Albert the Great was one of the first to investigate into the system of the world on the basis of an acquaintance with the entire Aristotelian corpus, which he read under the influence of Islamic philosophers. The present study aims to understand the core of Albert's natural philosophy. Albert's emblematic phrase, “every work of nature is the work of intelligence” , expresses the conviction that natural things are produced by the intellects that move the (...) celestial bodies, just as houses are made by architects moving their instruments. Albert tried to fathom the secret of generation of natural things with his novel notion of “formative power” , which flows from the celestial intellects into the sublunary elements. His conception of the natural world represents an alternative to the dominant medieval view on the relationship between the artificial and the natural. (shrink)
This paper compares Pierre Hadot’s work on the history of philosophy as a way of life to the work of Albert Camus. I will argue that in the early work of Camus, up to and including the publication of The Myth of Sisyphus, there is evidence to support the notions that, firstly, Camus also identified these historical moments as obstacles to the practice of ascesis, and secondly, that he proceeded by orienting his own work toward overcoming these obstacles, and (...) thus toward a modern rehabilitation of ascesis. Moreover, in contrast to Hadot’s Platonism, Camus located the source of this practice in the pre-philosophical stage of Athenian tragedy. This points to a further contrast between these two figures, which has historical and cultural precedents, in the distinction between this pre-Platonic form of ascesis - favoured by Camus - and the latter Christian form of asceticism - favoured by Hadot, with the status of Platonic ascesis rendered in terms of prefiguring this Christian form of asceticism. (shrink)
The present account aims to contribute to a better characterization of the state and the dynamics of embryological knowledge at the dawn of the molecular revolution in biology. In this study, Albert Dalcq (1893-1973) was chosen as a representative of a generation of embryologists who found themselves at the junction of two very different approaches to the study of life: the first, focusing on global properties of organisms; the second focusing on the characterization of basic molecular constituents. Though clearly (...) belonging to the organismic tradition, Dalcq was already blending his experimental and explanatory practices with biochemical aspects by the 1930s. Principally based on published sources, the present analysis focuses on the conceptual definitions, modifications and interrelations on which Dalcq's explanation of development rested. Among these are variant process concepts such as gradients and fields, which are often thought to have strongly holistic implications. I will argue that Dalcq's version of these concepts was compatible with a more reductionist treatment of embryos than was accepted by most embryologists as late as the 1950s, pointing to some extent toward the recent molecular characterization of gradients by molecular geneticists such as Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard. Moreover, I will show how the embryological research program of Dalcq and his pupil Jean Brachet has been largely instrumental in the development of molecular biology in Belgium. (shrink)
This essay examines the biblical discourse on animals in Job 38-41, as interpreted by Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas in their 13th-century biblical commentaries. In God’s first reply to Job twelve species of animals are introduced and realistically described, including accurate details of their behavior. Subsequently, chapters 40 and 41 introduce two more complex animals, Behemoth and Leviathan, in which realistic and symbolic features intertwine. This peculiarity of the book of Job – long sequences dedicated to descriptions of (...) animals – allows to investigate to what extent and how the availability of Aristotelian zoology, whose study was prescribed in the Dominican program promoted and practiced by Albert himself, became an instrument for a renewed biblical exegesis, different from the allegorical and theological moralizing hitherto prevailing in the Christian tradition of commentaries on Job. (shrink)
Aristotelian cosmology implies the plurality of celestial motion for the process of generation and corruption in the sublunar world. In order to investigate the structure of the cosmos and the degree of dependence of the sublunar on the supralunar region, medieval Latin commentators on Aristotle explored the consequences of the cessation of celestial motion. This paper analyses the position of some philosophers of the fourteenth-century Parisian school, namely Nicole Oresme, John Buridan and Albert of Saxony.
This article concerns the way in which philosophers study the epistemology of scientific thought experiments. Starting with a general overview of the main contemporary philosophical accounts, we will first argue that two implicit assumptions are present therein: first, that the epistemology of scientific thought experiments is solely concerned with factual knowledge of the world; and second, that philosophers should account for this in terms of the way in which individuals in general contemplate these thought experiments in thought. Our goal is (...) to evaluate these assumptions and their implications using a particular case study: Albert Einstein's magnet-conductor thought experiment. We will argue that an analysis of this thought experiment based on these assumptions – as John Norton (1991) provides – is, in a sense, both misguided (the thought experiment by itself did not lead Einstein to factual knowledge of the world) and too narrow (to understand the thought experiment's epistemology, its historical context should also be taken into account explicitly). Based on this evaluation we propose an alternative philosophical approach to the epistemology of scientific thought experiments which is more encompassing while preserving what is of value in the dominant view. (shrink)
I argue in the essay that the fourteenth-century logicians William Heytesbury and Albert of Saxony developed an argument I call the Socrates-Minus Argument. Their analysis and rejection of it indicates a direction towards a pragmatic resolution to the contemporary Descartes-Minus Argument. Their resolution is similar to the view adopted today by Peter van Inwagen, namely, that “arbitrary undetached parts of physical objects,” like 'all of Socrates except his finger' simply do not exist. I conclude the fourteenth-century approach does not (...) run afoul of Leibniz's law of the Indiscernibility of Identicals, but utilizes a form of Leibniz's Identity of Indiscernibles that, when combined with a weak “anthropic principle,” yield a pragmatic resolution to the Descartes-Minus Argument. (shrink)
Predictive genetic testing may confront those affected with difficult life situations that they have not experienced before. These life situations may be interpreted as ‘absurd’. In this paper we present a case study of a predictive test situation, showing the perspective of a woman going through the process of deciding for or against taking the test, and struggling with feelings of alienation. To interpret her experiences, we refer to the concept of absurdity, developed by the French Philosopher Albert Camus. (...) Camus' writings on absurdity appear to resonate with patients' stories when they talk about their body and experiences of illness. In this paper we draw on Camus' philosophical essay ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’, and compare the absurd experiences of Sisyphus with the interviewee's story. This comparison opens up a field of ethical reflection. We demonstrate that Camus' concept of absurdity offers a new and promising approach to understanding the fragility of patients' situations, especially in the field of predictive testing. We show that people affected might find new meaning through narratives that help them to reconstruct the absurd without totally overcoming it. In conclusion, we will draw out some normative consequences of our narrative approach. (shrink)
Friedrich Albert Lange (b. 1828, d. 1875) was a German philosopher, pedagogue, political activist, and journalist. He was one of the originators of neo-Kantianism and an important figure in the founding of the Marburg school of neo-Kantianism. He is also played a significant role in the German labour movement and in the development of social democratic thought. His book, THE HISTORY OF MATERIALISM, was a standard introduction to materialism and the history of philosophy well into the twentieth century.
In this paper, in response to Nicolson’s claim that South African liberation theology is non‐realist – or at least is non‐realist in its language – I suggest that Albert Nolan’s important book God in South Africa is not based on such an “exotic” philosophical basis but is a reflection using the populist Marxism of the anti‐apartheid struggle of the 1980s. The clue here is Nolan’s use of the Colonialism of a Special Type thesis, an integral part of ANC and (...) Communist Party discourse since the 1960s. Nolan himself has described his work as “historical materialist” in its philosophical language. Such a position seems far removed from non‐realism, although they certainly sound similar in Nolan’s God‐language.I then examine non‐realist theologian Don Cupitt’s model of “militant religious humanism” and conclude that a non‐realist liberation or political theology along these lines suffers too much from a sense of relativism or absurdity for it to be of use to those who use liberation theology. From this I try to suggest how a non‐realist liberation theology might be developed. In the end, however, I conclude that though such a theology could be constructed, it would probably not be effective: liberation theology requires a real God who really sides with the poor. (shrink)
The theme of essential futility, absurdity, utter incomprehensibility of life and death is stressed in almost allthe writings of Albert Camus. Like Buddha he was shocked by the sight of human misery and mortality. Yet, paradoxically was attracted to the essential desirability of it. Although completely ruffled by the consciousness of an ambiguous and silent God, he was not unaware of “that strange joy that comes from a tranquil conscience”, a perfect inner harmony one experiences on attaining true knowledge. (...) Upanishads are a search for this very reality underlying the flux of things. Malraux, Sartre, and others had already developed this line of thought before Camus. What is essential and original in him is, firstly, that the world’s absurdity not a cause for despair, but on the contrary, a spur to happiness. And secondly, that , mortality and suffering actually enhance the value of life: they invite men to live more intensely. In addition to absurdity another subject the Upanishads insistently deal with is ethics, the purity of human conduct. Very much in the manner of the Existentialists, the Upanishads, aeons before, hold man himself responsible for his actions. Dr. Radhakrishnan, very aptly says that Existentialism is a new name for an ancient method. In Albert Camus and India Sharad Chandra has put forward a convincing comparative study of the two philosophies as expounded in their respective literatures. Her argument is that the parallel ideas found in the two views are not mere fortuitous conclusions but, either the result of seminal influence, or emanation of a common, deeper vision. Reading of the book will help the reader to form a firm opinion. Camus had read the Gita and had attended the lectures given by Swami Shraddhananda of the Ramakrishna Mission in Paris. (shrink)
Si le nom d’Albert Camus continue de s’imposer, aujourd’hui, comme une figure incontournable de la littérature et de la pensée françaises du XXe siècle, il n’en est pas moins demeuré une personnalité cosmopolite, sensible à ce que la culture ne s’accomplit véritablement qu’en l’absence de sectarisme, qu’en présence de l’autre — avec ou envers lui, peu importe. C’est aussi tout le sens de la collection « Exotopies » de l’Association portugaise des études françaises (A.P.E.F.) qu’inaugure ce volume : présenter (...) des travaux sur la langue et la culture françaises, mais d’un point de vue singulier, celui d’un autre pays. En lisant ce bouquet assez restreint, mais en même temps assez diversifié de travaux sur l’oeuvre d’Albert Camus, on relèvera donc qu’il ne s’agissait ni d’un hommage, ni d’une commémoration, si contraires au vif esprit de la littérature, mais de s’aviser de l’exceptionnelle variété et actualité de son oeuvre. En ce sens, il n’est de meilleure figure pour débuter cette collection à visée cosmopolite que celle d’Albert Camus, chez qui le geste d’écriture est totalement inscrit dans une vocation humaniste. Celle-ci ne s’entend pas dans un sens moraliste, mais dans un sens existentiel — sinon existentialiste —, qui veut que chacun se définisse par le souci qu’il a de l’autre, et que l’humanité s’apparaisse comme le perpetuum mobile de l’histoire, en même temps que son point fixe, son sens dernier. (shrink)
The fiftieth anniversary of Camus’ death in 2010 was largely ignored in his native Algeria, reflecting the critical response to Camus’ writings that regards him as a colonialist writer and apologist for the French domination of his native Algeria. This critique also claims that Camus’ colonial attitudes are hidden and reinforced by a European attitude that sees him as dealing first and foremost with universal questions about the human predicament and existential isolation. However, Camus’ journalism shows an Algerian closely identified (...) with the destiny of all the peoples of Algeria, and his novel The Outsider contains sufficient indications that, whatever its existential importance, in the concrete situation of Camus’ Algeria the Arab has the precise status of outsider. (shrink)
It is possible today to observe in hindsight the epistemological landscape of the twentieth century, and the work of Albert Lautman in mathematical philosophy appears as a profound turning point, opening to a true under- standing of creativity in mathematics and its relation with the real. Little understood in its time or even today, Lautman’s work explores the difficult but exciting intersection where modern mathematics, advanced mathe- matical invention, the structural or unitary relations of mathematical knowledge and, finally, the (...) metaphysical and dialectical tensions underly- ing mathematical activity converge. Well beyond other better-known names in philosophy of mathematics – who are focused above all on ques- tions concerning the logical problem of foundations, important but frag- mentary studies in the vast panorama of modern mathematics – Lautman broaches the emergence of inventiveness in the very broad spectrum of the development of the mathematical real. Group theory, differential geome- try, algebraic topology, differential equations, functional analysis, functions of complex variables and number fields are some of the domains of his preferred examples. He detects in them methods of construction, structu- ration and unification of modern mathematics that he connects to a precise Platonic interpretation in which powerful pairs of ideas serve to organize the edifice of effective mathematics. (shrink)