Diagrams refer to the phenomena overtly represented, to analogous phenomena, and to previous pictures and their graphic conventions. The diagrams of ecologists Clarke, Hutchinson, and H.T. Odum reveal their search for physical analogies, building on the success of World War II science and the promise of cybernetics. H.T. Odum's energy circuit diagrams reveal also his aspirations for a universal and natural means of reducing complexity to guide the management of diverse ecological and social systems. Graphic conventions concerning framing and translation (...) of ecological processes onto the flat printed page facilitate Odum's ability to act as if ecological relations were decomposable into systems and could be managed by analysts external to the system. (shrink)
In _High Schools, Race, and America’s Future_, Lawrence Blum offers a lively account of a rigorous high school course on race and racism. Set in a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse high school, the book chronicles students’ engagement with one another, with a rich and challenging academic curriculum, and with questions that relate powerfully to their daily lives. Blum, an acclaimed moral philosopher whose work focuses on issues of race, reflects with candor, insight, and humor on the challenges (...) and surprises encountered in teaching—the unexpected turns in conversation, the refreshing directness of students’ questions, the “aha” moments and the awkward ones, and the paradoxes of his own role as a white college professor teaching in a multiracial high school classroom. _High Schools, Race, and America’s Future_ provides an invaluable resource for those who want to teach students to think deeply and talk productively about race. (shrink)
Paul Richard Blum Et nuper Plethon – Ficino's Praise of Georgios Gemistos ABSTRACT Most authors who refer to Marsilio Ficino's famous Prooemium to his translation of Plotinus, addressed to Lorenzo de'Medici, discuss the alleged foundation of the Platonic Academy in Florence, but rarely continue reading down the same page, where – for a second time – Georgios Gemistos Plethon is mentioned. The passage contains more than one surprising claim: 1. Pletho is a reliable interpreter of Aristotle. 2. Pletho and (...) Pico are the most recent Aristotelians, more precisely, they are the latest candle bearers of true Aristotelian tradition. 3. Pletho, alongside with the other authors mentioned, is religiously orthodox. In this paper I show that these statements are contrafactual, and discuss the reasons for Ficino's attempt at making Plethon and Pico his allies. Ficino suggests that Pico and Pletho are representatives of such "philosophic religion" that eventually might convert the Aristotelians to the same piety that unites Pico, Plethon, and the Platonizing interpreters of Aristotle. Pletho's agenda was to restore ancient pagan wisdom in order not to supplant Christianity. Ficino's device to counter corrupt Aristetelianism is to create a counter-tradition, that parallels Platonism, namely the pious reading of Aristotle. He employed the figure of young Pico as having urged him to translate Plotinus. Pico serves as a step stone between the Council of Florence, when in 1439 Cosimo encountered Pletho, and the new translation of Plotinus. The divine inspiration, instilled by Pletho and forwarded from Cosimo via Pico to Ficino christianizes the project, which would sound dubitable, if related only to Pletho. Thus Pico was to help saving Ficino's reputation as a religious philosopher. For this purpose, Ficino had to parallel Pletho with the unsuspected Pico, to the effect that Pletho becomes so to say christened. (shrink)
In The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt claims that liberals have a narrower moral outlook than conservatives?they are concerned with fairness and relief of suffering, which Haidt sees as individualistic values, while conservatives care about authority and loyalty too, values concerned with holding society together. I question Haidt?s methodology, which does not permit liberals to express concerns with social bonds that do not fit within an ?authority? or ?loyalty? framework and discounts people who support liberal positions but do not self-ascribe as (...) liberals. I also argue that of the six ?moral foundations?, fairness and relief of suffering are more fundamental values than authority and loyalty, which are virtues only if their objects are worthy. Moral education programs must also encourage students to recognize some values as more urgent than others, and permit inquiry into the actual reasons for political behavior other than professed value commitments. (shrink)
Although Almond argues that the contemporary West has lost touch with the value of tolerance, I argue that that value applied to those of different religions and sexual orientations is too minimal a standard for a pluralistic society. I suggest, in the spirit of the work of Charles Taylor and Tariq Modood, the more robust standard of respect and acceptance. In addition, I have criticised Almond?s privileging of parental values over school values, seeing in that privileging a failure to recognise (...) both the civic function of schooling in a pluralistic society and the professional responsibilities of teachers to provide a safe and stigma?free environment of learning (a goal both educational and civic in character). I argue that Almond?s briefly presented rejection of same?sex marriage and privileging of ?biological? families is insufficiently defended. Moreover within the philosophical framework of her own concerns about the weakening of a commitment to marriage in Western society in the past several decades, I argue that she should be more supportive of same?sex marriage. Finally, I argue that her account of the problems occasioned by new immigrant groups, especially Muslims, in the West is very sketchy and fails to connect with her critique of secularism. (shrink)
Emmanuel Levinas's concept of "the face of the Other" involves an ethical mandate that is presumably transcultural or, in his terms, "precultural." His essay "Meaning and Sense" provides his most explicit defense of the idea that the face has a meaning that is not culturally relative, though it is always encountered within some particular culture. Levinas identifies his position there as a "return to Platonism." Through a careful reading of that essay, exploring Levinas's use of religious terminology and the (sometimes (...) implicit) relationships of the essay to the work of other phenomenologists and of Saussure, the author seeks to clarify (1) what Levinas retains and what he rejects in returning to Platonism "in a new way," (2) the sense in which this return constitutes an "overcoming" of relativism, and (3) the nature of the phenomenological warrant that he offers for his position. (shrink)
The aim of this project is to account for why we often denigrate intersex and trans bodies as disruptive and threatening. Within a binary understanding of sex and gender, we might call these bodies unruly: they deviate from what is normal but also challenge the very conceptions of normality. Unruly bodies do not follow the rules, they defy how we understand the body to be, and they challenge what we take to be livable, intelligible, or meaningful. We stubbornly seek to (...) define the nature of these bodies. We sensationalize these cases and take them up as if we personally have high stakes in determining the body as male or female.Appropriating Simone de Beauvoir's concept of ambiguity as the "paradox of man," I argue... (shrink)
Benedictus Pererius as a 16th-century Jesuit integrated Platonic and Neo-Platonic sources in his philosophical and theological works as long as they were compatible with Catholic theology. His commentary on Genesis and his theological disputations on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans gave occasions to calibrate philosophy against theology. Pererius judges that pagan thinkers may be laudable for acknowledging the existence of God but cautions Christian readers as to the orthodoxy of such findings. Against the Protestant literalist interpretation of the Bible (...) at the expense of philosophical theory of nature Pererius dealt with the questions of immortality and of the pagan notions of divinity and examined the role of philosophical heroes like Socrates and Hermes. Thus he welcomed philosophy as a potential source of religious thinking. (shrink)
In the ears of his Greco-Roman audience, Luke's social teaching would have been heard with shock. In their world, the neh and the powerful despised the poor and the disadvantaged and took pains to preserve the gulf between them. Inspired by the prophetic denunciation of injustice, Luke cnticized the rich and thus transgressed against Greco-Roman values. Still, Luke's enduring contribution to Christian social ethics is greater than this: Instead of merely condemning the rich, Luke forged a vision of community in (...) which both rich and poor are spiritual equah and the social and economic inequities between them can be vigorously and conscientiously addressed. (shrink)
Nicholas of Cusa (1402-1464) explored the boundaries of human reason for the sake of making religious belief believable. Unwillingly, he became a milestone in the process of rationalizing Christian theology. Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) is a proof to this perspective by the way he makes use of Cusanus’s approach. In his ’Spaccio de la bestia trionfante’, Bruno discusses Cusanus’s attempts at the geometrical problem of squaring the circle. Bruno not only promotes his atomistic geometry, he also uses the metaphoric meaning of (...) triangle for Trinity as an occasion to supplant ’faith’ with ’sincerity’. For Bruno faith is not anymore the true belief of religion, but rather ’good faith’ and fidelity, i.e., social and political virtues. (shrink)
Es ist wahr, die frühe Neuzeit hatte nur einen Descartes. Aber sie hatte hunderte schreibende Gelehrte. Auch solche, die Descartes und allen anderen zeigten, wer was wo schon geschrieben hatte. Solche Universal-Gelehrten dachten an den einzelnen Schreiber, sie halfen ihm absichtlich nicht, die Quellen zu verbergen, sondern sie zu finden. Keine Träumereien an französischen oder schwäbischen Kaminen, sondern effiziente Arbeit am Jesuitenkolleg waren Ziel und Inhalt z.B. der Bibliotheca selecta , in der Antonio Possevino SJ das Bildungsprogramm der Jesuiten mit (...) einem Literaturkanon und allgemeinen Erörterungen zur Bildung und Ausbildung versah. Dieses Handbuch stellt, entgegen gewissen Anzeichen, kein System der Wissenschaften dar, sondern konstruiert deren Gemeinsamkeit mittels der direkten Zwecksetzung zum Seelenheil der Menschen, woraus einerseits die Notwendigkeit einer Psychologie des Lernens, andererseits eine größere Unabhängigkeit der Wissenschaften von einander resultiert. Mit seiner Mischung von humanistischer Gelehrsamkeit, frommer Finalität, Kultur des Individuums und allgemeiner Nützlichkeit ist die Bibliotheca selecta ein Schnittpunkt von Humanismus und Schulweisheit. (shrink)
_Friendship, Altruism, and Morality_, originally published in 1980, gives an account of "altruistic emotions" and friendship that brings out their moral value. Blum argues that moral theories centered on rationality, universal principle, obligation, and impersonality cannot capture this moral importance. This was one of the first books in contemporary moral philosophy to emphasize the moral significance of emotions, to deal with friendship as a moral phenomenon, and to challenge the rationalism of standard interpretations of Kant, although Blum’s "sentimentalism" (...) owes more to Schopenhauer than to Hume. It was a forerunner to care ethics, and feminist ethics more generally; to virtue ethics; and to subsequent influential interpretations of Kant that attempted to room for altruistic emotion and friendship, and other forms of particularism and partialism. In addition, the work has been widely influential in religious studies, political theory, bioethics, and feminist ethics. (shrink)
Virginia Held, best known for her landmark book Rights and Goods, has made an indelible mark on the fields of ethics, feminist philosophy, and social and political thought. Her impact on a generation of feminist thinkers is unrivaled and she has been at the forfront of discussions about the way in which an ethic of care can affect social and political matters. These new essays by leading contemporary philosophers range over all of these areas. While each stands alone, the essays (...) together demonstrate the lasting value of Held's work to the field. Includes an afterword by Held. (shrink)
L’élaboration d’une théorie de l’objet sert de guide à la doctrine de la science en général, et à l’élaboration formelle du statut de la métaphysique en particulier. L’étude de Paul Richard Blum porte sur l’objet de la métaphysique selon Bartholomaeus Mastrius : l’auteur y dégage les principales positions de Mastrius, débouchant, à la suite de son modèle scotiste, sur une ontologie formelle totalement détachée de la physique, à la différence de la tradition thomiste.The elaboration of the theory of object (...) directs the theory of science in general, and specifically the formal elaboration of the status of metaphysics. Paul Richard Blum’s study deals with the object of metaphysics according to Bartholomaeus Mastrius : the author outlines Mastrius’ principal positions. His metaphysics leads, according to its Scotistic model, to a purely formal ontology, completely severed from physics, contrasting with the Thomistic tradition. (shrink)
Simone Weil — philosopher, trade union militant, factory worker — developed a penetrating critique of Marxism and a powerful political philosophy which serves an alternative both to liberalism and to Marxism. In A Truer Liberty , originally published in 1989, Blum and Seidler show how Simone Weil’s philosophy sought to place political action on a firmly moral basis. The dignity of the manual worker became the standard for political institutions and movements. Weil criticized Marxism for its confidence in progress (...) and revolution and its attendant illusory belief that history is on the side of the proletariat. Blum and Seidler relate Weil’s work to influential trends in political philosophy today, from analytic Marxism to central traditions within liberal thought. The authors stress the importance of Weil’s work for understanding liberation theology, Catholic radicalism, and, more generally, social movements against oppression which are closely tied to religion and spirituality. (shrink)
When Maggie Hall died on March 3, 1999, CQ lost a valued friend and irreplaceable editorial consultant. Maggie, with her musician's gift for the sound of the written word, left her mark on every issue of the journal; and, with gratitude, this volume is dedicated to her memory. We asked Henrik Blum, Emeritus Professor in the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, who worked with her over many years, to share some of his memories of Maggie.
Simone Weil — philosopher, trade union militant, factory worker — developed a penetrating critique of Marxism and a powerful political philosophy which serves an alternative both to liberalism and to Marxism. In _A Truer Liberty_, originally published in 1989, Blum and Seidler show how Simone Weil’s philosophy sought to place political action on a firmly moral basis. The dignity of the manual worker became the standard for political institutions and movements. Weil criticized Marxism for its confidence in progress and (...) revolution and its attendant illusory belief that history is on the side of the proletariat. Blum and Seidler relate Weil’s work to influential trends in political philosophy today, from analytic Marxism to central traditions within liberal thought. The authors stress the importance of Weil’s work for understanding liberation theology, Catholic radicalism, and, more generally, social movements against oppression which are closely tied to religion and spirituality. (shrink)
ISBN-13: 978-1934074480 Plot Summary from the book: "An aristocratic young man, fed up with his studies, contemplates military service. His teacher is unable by any reasoning to call him back him from the path he has embarked upon. The young man enlists another youth who commits himself to the journey, dressed in military garb, and he happens upon two deserting soldiers, unsightly and ill-used both in their dress and in their hygiene. Both young men are so moved by the deserters’ (...) remarks deploring and reviling their lot in life that they return to their studies. One of the deserters, however, hopes to be welcomed back by the wife and small children he had deserted and left penniless and bereft of friends. She gives him a nasty reception, with verbal and corporal abuse, and he barely manages to have his sin forgiven and to return to her good graces." From the Table of Contents: Introduction How to Use this Book Jacobus Pontanus: Biography Jesuit Comedy – Seriously? The Stratocles as a Spiritual Exercise Just War and the Morality of Military Service A Play about War and the Real Wars of Pontanus' Time The Characters and Their Names Pontanus’ Use of Classical Sources The History of the Text of Stratocles Performance Stratocles or War Endnotes Appendices Pontanus on Humanist Studies Pontanus on Writing Comedy Renaissance School Hazing, called “Deposition” Anonymous: Instructions for Deposition Dialogue on Hazing (Progymnasma 100) . (shrink)
A complimentary assessment of Blum's award-winning book about racism and its affects. Well written as it is, it needs to be supplemented with a definition of racial injustice, and also to analyze racism not only on the level of individual morality but from a human rights perspective that discredits political and economic motives for racism (e.g., by drawing on Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism).
The recent passing of Ann Sharp, Co-Founder and Associate Director of the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children, at the age of 68, has left many of us involved in the movement of philosophy for/with children bereft, no doubt in many different ways. The warmth and intensity of her personal and professional focus, the simple clarity of her thinking, and her boundless energy in the work of international dissemination of the concept and practice of philosophizing with children, resonate (...) even more sonorously in her death. We thought it appropriate to try following at least one pathway backwards in her life story through the memory and testimony of her chief collaborator over a period of 35 years, Matthew Lipman. I interviewed Lipman, age 87, in the single room of the eldercare center in New Jersey that has become the site for his dogged and tenacious struggle with Parkinson’s Disease, and asked him to reflect on their long partnership. The transcript ends suddenly, not because we stopped talking, but because I stopped taping, sensing his fatigue, and suggesting that we return for another round, at which point we turned to other, less somber matters. (shrink)
We rely on a recent puzzle by Alex Blum to offer a new argument for the old Fitch’s thesis that what we learn a posteriori in Kripkean identity statements like ‘Tully is Cicero’ is contingent and what is not contingent in such statements is analytical, hence hardly a posteriori.