While I appreciate Annette Kolodny's attempt to clarify the aims of feminist criticism, I would like to correct a historical misconception in her recent article, "Some Notes on Defining A 'Feminist Literary Criticism.'" When Kolodny comes to defining a feminist criticism, near the end of the essay, she advocates applying to individual works, without preconceived conclusions, "rigorous methods for analyzing style and image.” . . . Kolodny implies that Hawthorne wrongly condemned domestic novels without having read them and that (...) once he began reading this body of fiction he reversed his views—in short, that his initial response was unthoughtful and, in current jargon, sexist. Second, Kolodny implies that the modern reader will find the domestic novels of the 1850s as fascinating as Hawthorne found Ruth Hall. Beverly Voloshin is a teaching associate at the University of California, Berkeley. Her current area of study is mid-nineteenth-century American domestic fiction. (shrink)
Reading Morgan's eloquent explanation of himself as a "feminist," self-taught and now wholly enthused at the prospect of teaching a Women Writers course, one comes away sharing Morgan's concern that he not be left out in the cold. It is, after all, exciting and revitalizing to be part of a "revolution"—especially if, like Morgan, one can so generously and wholeheartedly espouse its goals; and, at the same time, it is surely comforting and ego-affirming to experience oneself as a legitimate son (...) of that sacred brotherhood, The Community of Scholars. What clearly disturbs Morgan is any suggestion that the two may not yet be compatible and that, further, if forced to choose, Morgan might find himself without viable options on either hand. For, if the larger academic "community" continues to close its professional ranks to women in general and feminists in particular , then Morgan, as a self-styled "feminist" will be forced to seek shelter among the female feminists, many of whom have closed their ranks to men. . . . Beverly Voloshin's Note restores to print some factual information which, for the sake of brevity, I cut from my original article, directing the reader, instead, to James D. Hart's concise summary of the original context of Hawthorne’s letter to Ticknor . While she and Hart make much the same point, her longer explication is, of course, welcome. Additionally, her fine explanation of "what was so daring about Ruth Hall" further reinforces my argument that there are fascinating texts to be discovered in the "feminine fifties" - even if only one or two; certainly, that's better than condemning all the women writers of that decade to obscurity. Moreover, since we teach a number of male texts simply on the grounds of their historical or "sociological" interest, why not also include women's texts on these grounds as well?—especially if, as Voloshin suggests, they reveal "numerous covert rebellions against male authority." How fascinating! One looks forward to her doing more than this. Finally, my main point was not the "feminine fifties" per se, but a plea for the careful reconsideration "of texts by women which have, for one reason or another, been either lost or ignored" . Stretching the "feminine fifties" by only two years, for example, one discovers Rebecca Harding Davis' Life in the Iron Mills , recently reissued by the Feminist Press . Annette Kolodny, assistant professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, has been awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship for the study of women in society. She has written articles on American literature and culture and a feminist analysis of American pastoral, The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters. (shrink)
In this commentary, we raise two issues. First, we argue that in any species, the comparative study of metacognitive abilities must be approached from a developmental perspective and not solely from the adult end state. This makes it possible to explore the trajectories by which different species reach their phenotypic outcome and whether different cognitive systems interact over developmental time. Second, using our research comparing different genetic disorders in humans, we challenge the authors' claim that it is unparsimonious to interpret (...) the same performance in humans and animals in qualitatively different ways, because even the same overt behaviour in different groups of humans can be sustained by different underlying cognitive processes. (shrink)
Modality, morality and belief are among the most controversial topics in philosophy today, and few philosophers have shaped these debates as deeply as Ruth Barcan Marcus. Inspired by her work, a distinguished group of philosophers explore these issues, refine and sharpen arguments and develop new positions on such topics as possible worlds, moral dilemmas, essentialism, and the explanation of actions by beliefs. This 'state of the art' collection honours one of the most rigorous and iconoclastic of philosophical pioneers.
The great contribution Marcus has made to several of intensely discussed topics in philosophy might not have been noticed fully without this collection of some of her most important articles that makes it evident that her achievement is not limited to inventing the famous Barcan formula.
The Philosophy Now series promises to combine rigorous analysis with authoritative expositions. Ruth Abbey’s book lives up to this demand by being a clear, reliable and more than up-to-date introduction to Charles Taylor ’s philosophy. Although it is an introductory book, the amount of footnotes and references ought to please those who want to study the original texts more closely. Abbey’s book is structured thematically: morality, selfhood, politics and epistemology get 50 pages each. The focus is on the internal (...) coherence of Taylor ’s work, not in its critique of or defence against other positions. The chapters are self-containing, but together they give a good total picture of Taylor ’s position. The concluding chapter is a highly interesting preview of Taylor ’s unpublished work-in-progress on secularity, which according to Abbey is comparable in magnitude to Sources of the Self. (shrink)
We discuss the variety of sorts of sympathy Hume recognizes, the extent to which he thinks our sympathy with others’ feelings depends on inferences from the other’s expression, and from her perceived situation, and consider also whether he later changed his views about the nature and role of sympathy, in particular its role in morals.
Ruth Millikan is one of the most interesting and influential philosophers alive. Her work is also hard to penetrate. In this review, I try to present and assess her work on the nature of language, which is collected in this anthology. I also criticize her analysis of “natural convention” as well as her discussion of illocutionary acts.
Annette Baier stands out as a figure of prime importance on the contemporary philosophical horizon. This volume finally brings the proper recognition she deserves, presenting a rich collection of essays in her honor. Persons and Passions proves to be extremely interesting both for the discussion of Baier’s own philosophical reflection and as an example of how Baier represents an unparalleled source of inspiration for anyone concerned with the philosophers who have been at the forefront of her interests. Although Baier’s (...) preference is surely for David Hume, her intellectual curiosity and scholarly mastery cover a wider area spanning from Descartes to Kant. (shrink)
This article is a defence of the Fact-Value distinction against considerations brought up by Ruth Anna Putnam in three articles in Philosophy, especially her ‘Perceiving Facts and Values’ January 1998. I defend metaphysical realism about facts and anti-realism about values against Putnam' intermediate position about both and I relate the matter to the logic of imperatives. The motivations of scientists or historians to select fields of investigation are irrelevant to the objectivity of their hypotheses, and so is the goodness (...) or badness of the social consequences of their work though these may affect their motivations. (shrink)
Every body cell of an animal or human being contains the same complete set of genes. In theory any of these cells can be used to start a new embryo. The technique has been employed in the case of frogs. The nucleus is taken out of a body cell of a frog and implanted in an enucleated frog's egg. The resulting egg cell is stimulated to develop into a normal frog, and will be an exact copy of that frog which (...) provided the nucleus with all the genetic information. In normal sexual reproduction, two parents each contribute half their genes, but in the case of cloning, one parent passes on all his or her genes. (shrink)
In philosophy textbooks for undergraduates the cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict is often cited as a proponent of moral relativism, and her writings are not infrequently excerpted to illustrate the view that the individual’s moral values are culturally determined. Because Benedict established that significant differences can exist in the underlying cultural patterns of different societies, her work is commonly construed as providing evidence for the arbitrary and non-rational basis of morals. The author of the present essay argues that this popular (...) reading of Benedict is mistaken. He draws a distinction between two different forms of moral relativism—the objective and the subjective—and then contends that Benedict is widely viewed as a subjective relativist when in fact her relativism was of the objective variety. He shows that her position actually has much in common with the pragmatic meliorism of John Dewey and George Herbert Mead. (shrink)
Although the Book of Ruth is in many respects a classic example of biblical Hebrew narrative, with its stripped-down style and the opaqueness of its character's inner lives and motivations, there are two examples of formal poetry in the book (1:16–17 and 1:20–21). Biblical poetry works with a very different set of literary conventions than narrative, and by taking note of those conventions, we can see the distinctive contributions made by these poems to the book as a whole.
David Hume has been invoked by those who want to found morality on human nature as well as by their critics. He is credited with showing us the fallacy of moving from premises about what is the case to conclusions about what ought to be the case; and yet, just a few pages after the famous is-ought remarks in A Treatise of Human Nature, he embarks on his equally famous derivation of the obligations of justice from facts about the cooperative (...) schemes accepted in human communities. Is he ambivalent on the relationship between facts about human nature and human evaluations? Does he contradict himself – and, if so, which part of his whole position is most valuable? Between the famous is-ought passage and the famous account of convention and the obligations arising from established cooperative schemes once they are morally endorsed, Hume discusses the various meanings of the term “natural.” “Shou'd it be ask'd, Whether we ought to search for these principles [upon which all our notions of morals are founded] in nature or whether we must look for them in some other origin? I wou'd reply, that our answer to this question depends upon the definition of the word, Nature, than which there is none more ambiguous and equivocal.” The natural can be opposed to the miraculous, the unusual, or the artificial. It is the last contrast that Hume wants, for his contrast between the “artificial” culturally variant, convention-dependent obligations of justice and the more invariant “natural virtues,” and what he says about that contrast in this preparation for his account of the “artificial” virtues, makes it clear why he can later refer to justice as “natural” and to the general content of the rules of justice – that is, of basic human conventions of cooperation – as “Laws of Nature”. (shrink)
One does not have to share William Connolly's vitalist affiliations in order to have serious reservations about Ruth Leys's essay and response.1 Simple phenomenological concerns will do to make one suspicious of her core claim:From my perspective, intentionality involves concept-possession; the term intentionality carries with it the idea that thoughts and feelings are directed to conceptually and cognitively appraised and meaningful objects in the world. The general aim of my paper is to propose that affective neuroscientists and the new (...) affect theorists are thus making a mistake when they suggest that emotion or affect can be defined in nonconceptual or nonintentional terms.2I worry about the difficulty of defining the boundaries of a notion like conceptual, especially since on the next page Leys claims an equivalence between cognition and signification. There seems at least a tendency toward tautology in equating “nonconceptual” with “nonintentional,” as if one could be used to define the other. But then signification enters the picture, although criteria for signification involve simple recognition and do not implicate the awareness of logical connectives that seem necessary for conceptual and cognitive appraisal. And the Wittgenstein in me worries even more why Leys thinks that intentionality should be confined to only one set of traits despite the fact that a great variety of language games depend on something like intentional awareness. (shrink)
Annette Baier was the dean of contemporary Hume studies and one of the most insightful and influential philosophers writing on Hume. Since the late 1970s, her writings and the example of her distinctive mode of scholarship have inspired generations of scholars to look with fresh eyes at Hume's work. The special turn of her philosophical mind and personal style of writing are especially well-suited to uncover, appreciate, and effectively communicate the rich, nuanced, and humane dimensions of Hume's moral philosophy. (...) Her masterpiece, A Progress of Sentiments (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), for example, taught us that Hume's moral psychology underwrites his moral and social philosophy. The Cautious .. (shrink)
Ruth Ginzberg has proposed a model for a gynocentric science that might constitute a paradigm as described by Kuhn. The author argues that Ginzberg's model lacks certain essential features of paradigms as described by Kuhn. The differences may stem from more fundamental disagreements between them, including the possibility that some essential features of Ginzberg's gynocentric science place it outside the intended scope of Kuhn's analysis.
The essay aims to disclose British sociologist Ruth Levitas’s proposal regarding the thorny issue of the lack of consensus about the definition of the concept of utopia, a issue which, in the Levitas’s view, results in a widespread terminological confusion and in the omnipresent risk of arbitrary selection of the material. After an accurate analysis of the main theoretical and epistemological approaches on the topic, Levitas suggests an inclusive definition which would allow to cross the boundaries imposed by «restrictive» (...) characterizations, for the purpose of creating a higher degree of agreement with regards to what may be included within the concept of "utopia". Too «limitative» definitions would instead lead to misleading conclusions about the destiny and the function of the utopian genre, among which the widespread belief that utopia is in decline or, even worse, definitively disappeared. Finally, Levitas suggests a «sociology of utopia» through an analysis of the correlations between the two form of knowledge, correlations which, in her view, has been repressed for decades. (shrink)
Reading Cinema: The Dream that Kicks by Michael Chanan, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980, pp 353, £12.50 Stars by Richard Dyer, London: British Film Institute, 1979, pp 204, £2.25 Women's Pictures by Annette Kuhn, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982, pp xiv + 226, E4.95 Cultures on Celluloid by Keith Reader, London: Quartet Books, 1981, pp 216 £11.50 The Celluloid Closet by Vito Russo, New York: Harper & Row, 1981, pp xil + 276, £15.
Recent statistics in South Africa shows that women mostly experience poverty as compared to their male counterparts. In the context of the experience of poverty by women, several Old Testament scholars have convincingly explored the theme of poverty in the Hebrew Bible. In her contextual rereading of the Naomi-Ruth Story, Madipoane Masenya links the issue of poverty to the theme of land. Also, from the historical-critical and partly, the contextual approach to ancient texts, Esias E. Meyer argues that Leviticus (...) 25:8-55 holds liberating possibilities for women who are invisible in such a text. Based on the argument made by the preceding scholars, firstly, this article argues that in the context from which the texts of Ruth 4 and Leviticus 25:8-55 emerged, some women were both landless and poor. Secondly, it is argued in this article that the context of these texts carries a striking resemblance to the situation of women in modern South Africa, as many women do not own productive land and are poor. Thirdly, this article poses the question: What implications do the ideologies of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and the hermeneutical approach of Fernando F. Segovia to ancient texts bear on the reading of Ruth 4 and Leviticus 25:8-55 in South Africa? (shrink)
The essay presents the outlines of the conceptual framework which Ruth G. Millikan has developed in order to establish a comprehensive theory of functions. Although it is widely acknowledged that this theory is full of insights, criticism has been raised in recent times. Her theory of proper functions is especially under fire since it is said not to be able to account for those functional ascriptions that are in use in biology, and to suffer from a conceptual congenital defect (...) which prevents us from ascribing to a wide range of biological phenomena those functions that we intuitively ascribe to them. In discussing these reproaches it is shown that none of them is justified. (shrink)
Ruth Macklin's new book, AgainstRelativism, says in its subtitle that it intends to address cultural diversity and the search for ethical universals in medicine. This it does very well. Every chapter includes some discussion of cultural relativism, cultural anthropology, or postmodernism, and her analyses are acute and scathing. Macklin is unabashed in her defense of the principles of medical ethics, and she gives a strong argument that principles are essential elements of any ethical system that is to successfully survive (...) the skeptical doubts of relativism. (shrink)
In this short study, the Scroll of Ruth, and especially Ruth's undisclosed motives for following her mother-in-law, are read alongside the situation of foreign, female migrant workers in contemporary Israel—and vice versa. This allows a bi-directional reading that supplies a possible context both for the biblical text and for the evaluation of today's issues.
When thinking about the intersection of care and Christian bioethics, it is helpful to follow closely the account of Ruth, who turned away from security and walked alongside her grieving mother-in-law to Bethlehem. Remembering Ruth may help one to heed Professor Kaveny?s summoning of Christians to remember ?the Order of Widows? and the church?s historic calling to bring ?the almanahinto its center rather than pushing her to its margins.? Disabled, elderly and terminally ill people often seem, at least (...) implicitly, expendable. By hearing the scriptural account of Jesus? steadfast great-grandmother, readers may recall another way. One may read Ruth?s care for Naomi as a performative, prophetic act of faith. Ruth?s faithful resolve, when set next to Orpah?s prudent way, challenges the notion that a bioethic of care is innately feminine, and may further call women and men corporately to participate in a kind of care that is strenuous work. My thanks to Cathleen Kaveny for allowing me to play off the title of her insightful essay. Thanks also to Willie James Jennings, whose 1998 baccalaureate sermon on Ruth inspired and much informed this essay. I wish also to thank Ellen Davis, who taught me to read Hebrew, and to read Ruth. (shrink)
This essay introduces and discusses four musical works that extensively treat Ruth and Naomi's relationship: two late nineteenth-century oratorios, and two twentieth-century operas. Both music and librettos are treated as midrash—a creative retelling through both altered text and in the language of music.
Like Kolodny, I think feminism one of the most vital and energizing forces in literary criticism today, but for two reasons I found her exposition of the topic disappointing. It seems to me that she underplays the most crucial of the many aesthetic and pedagogical issues raised by feminist literary study, and she endorses a kind of intellectual defeatism when, in the conclusion of her essay, she places a "Posted" sign between the male readers of Critical Inquiry and her own (...) area of work. Both flaws arise, it appears, out of her underestimation or understatement of the revolutionary implications of feminist literary study. On the other hand, both flaws may be evidence of her problem in writing for so general an audience, for in addressing a very heterogeneous audience about a topic so potentially incendiary, she has to confront the rhetorical problem of how to tell the truth and still be heard. It is that problem, I think, that may have led Kolodny and other feminists to propose an intellectual separatism of sorts as a necessary interlude. It seems to me that once the revolutionary implications of feminist literary study are understood, separatism can be seen to be one of the most damaging proposals one could make. William W. Morgan, associate professor of English at Illinois State University, is a contributor to Thomas Hardy: An Annotated Bibliography of Writings About Him and has published essays on Hardy. He is presently working on a book on Hardy's poetry. This essay is a response to Annette Kolodny's "Some Notes on Defining a 'Feminist Literary Criticism'". (shrink)
Introducing The Rational Imagination, Ruth Byrne tells us that rational thought has turned out to be “more imaginative than cognitive scientists...supposed,” and—more to the point here—that “[I]maginative thought is more rational than scientists imagined” . It would be unwise to take this mini-manifesto too seriously. The claim to which Byrne actually gives sustained attention is less philosophically sexy and more solidly empirical. This book is primarily concerned with experimental evidence in support of the thesis that the particular counterfactual conjectures (...) people entertain—‘If Mary had asked Peter to pick the peppers, he would have picked the peppers’—are governed by the same small set of psychological principles that influence inferential reasoning about them—‘Peter didn’t pick the peppers? Well, then, it stands to reason that Mary didn’t ask him to’ . Byrne conjectures that this same small set of principles might also help in understanding how people creatively generate new members of a category , interpret novel phrases like ‘cactus fish’ , and solve insight problems . By contrast, Byrne’s discussion of criteria for the rationality of counterfactual thought comes close to the end of the book and is notably modest and tentative. Perhaps counterfactual thought counts as rational if it is capable of producing the “best” judgments; perhaps the best counterfactual judgments are those that strike us as most plausible; perhaps plausibility is a hallmark of rationality because it is grounded in recognition of “fault lines in reality” . On the other hand, perhaps not. Counterfactual thoughts that paralyze people with regret are often compellingly plausible. Despite their plausibility, Byrne characterizes such “dysfunctional” counterfactuals as “irrational.” Perhaps this can be harmonized by the competence/performance distinction; perhaps a canny reader would be better advised to settle for the psychology. (shrink)