This article begins by asking if the project to write a philosophical novel is not inherently flawed; it would seem that the novelist must either write an ambiguous text, which would not create a strong enough argument to count as philosophy, or she must write a text with a clear argument, which would not be ambiguous enough to count as good fiction. The only other option available would be to exemplify a preexisting abstract philosophical system in the concrete literary world. (...) To move beyond such an impasse, this article turns to the work of Simone de Beauvoir. Beauvoir's unique aesthetic theory in "Literature and Metaphysics" envisions philosophy as an integral part of the literary text and sees the novel not as an argument but as something called a "philosophical appeal" (Beauvoir 2004b). In her first novel, She Came to Stay, such a concept of the philosophical novel allows Beauvoir to make an original contribution to the philosophical tradition—one in which Beauvoir rethinks the problem of solipsism—while still creating a stunning literary work (Beauvoir 1954). A study of the theory and the novel together thus provides a solid understanding of what philosophers stand to gain from the philosophical novel. (shrink)
This article begins by asking if the project to write a philosophical novel is not inherently flawed; it would seem that the novelist must either write an ambiguous text, which would not create a strong enough argument to count as philosophy, or she must write a text with a clear argument, which would not be ambiguous enough to count as good fiction. The only other option available would be to exemplify a preexisting abstract philosophical system in the concrete literary world. (...) To move beyond such an impasse, this article turns to the work of Simone de Beauvoir. Beauvoir's unique aesthetic theory in “Literature and Metaphysics” envisions philosophy as an integral part of the literary text and sees the novel not as an argument but as something called a “philosophical appeal”. In her first novel, She Came to Stay, such a concept of the philosophical novel allows Beauvoir to make an original contribution to the philosophical tradition—one in which Beauvoir rethinks the problem of solipsism—while still creating a stunning literary work. A study of the theory and the novel together thus provides a solid understanding of what philosophers stand to gain from the philosophical novel. (shrink)
This text offers examples of people across diverse disciplines and perspectives—from biomedical research to black theology to art—learning and performing emotions, expanding their desires, discovering new ways to behave, and altering their sense of self, purpose, and community because of passionate, but not romanticized, attachments to animals.
This introductory article outlines the themes and aims of this special issue, which offers new perspectives on early modern debates about agency in two ways: First, it recovers writings on agency and liberty that have been widely neglected or that have received insufficient attention, including writings by Anne Conway, Henry More, Ralph Cudworth, William King, Gabrielle Suchon, Elizabeth Berkeley Burnet, Mary Astell, and Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury. Second, it reveals the richness of early modern (...) debates about agency and liberty. (shrink)
Martin Luther King’s primary emphasis was upon ‘beloved community,’ a phrase he borrowed from Royce, but an idea that he shared with St. Augustine. Theories of the state tend to focus upon division, in which one stratum dominates another or others. King’s context is the US in the segregated South—a region whose internal divisions sharply instantiate the idea of the state as an unequal hierarchy of dominance. King’s appeal was less to end black subjugation than to end (...) subjugation as such. Hence King was called by some a ‘dreamer,’ given his background commitment to equality and community, ideals taking marginal precedence over his foreground commitment to liberty and autonomy. This article explores the notion of ‘beloved community’ broadly and then specifically in Martin Luther King along with related notions in Howard Thurman and in Josiah Royce. (shrink)
The decades following the Second Vatican Council witnessed Catholic theology's break from classicism. Deductive, classical theology was replaced by an empirical, historically minded theology. The result was moral confusion and intellectual controversy whose effects are still felt by the Church. Benedict Ashely agreed that some revision in moral theology was necessary after Vatican II to formulate and integrate the mysteries of the Catholic faith. The question was how such teachings could be reformulated while preserving their substantive content. Ashley presents (...) a method of theological reflection that challenges the subjectivity, relationality, and language of historical mindedness with a tradition focusing on Scripture, the Magisterium, sound natural science, and a considered relationship between subjectivity and objectivity. This volume also contains commentary by four distinguished scholars: Matthew McWhorter provides an intellectual biography of Ashley, examining the development of this thought before and after Vatican II. Rev. Cajetan Cuddy, OP, reviews Ashley's philosophical theology in its principles, especially as grounded in natural law philosophy. Matthew Minerd assesses Ashley's approach to the authority of the Catholic Magisterium, the papacy, and the formation of conscience. Rev. Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, OP, evaluates Ashley's application of his moral theology to beginning- and end-of-life decision-making. (shrink)
The ‘Ashley treatment’ has raised much ethical controversy. This article starts from the observation that this debate suffers from a lack of careful philosophical analysis which is essential for an ethical assessment. I focus on two central arguments in the debate, namely an argument defending the treatment based on quality of life and an argument against the treatment based on dignity and rights. My analysis raises doubts as to whether these arguments, as they stand in the debate, are philosophically (...) robust. I reconstruct what form good arguments for and against the treatment should take and which assumptions are needed to defend the according positions. Concerning quality of life, I argue that to make a discussion about quality of life possible, it needs to be clear which particular conception of the good life is employed. This has not been sufficiently clear in the debate. I fill this lacuna. Regarding rights and dignity, I show that there is a remarkable absence of references to general philosophical theories of rights and dignity in the debate about the Ashley treatment. Consequently, this argument against the treatment is not sufficiently developed. I clarify how such an argument should proceed. Such a detailed analysis of arguments is necessary to clear up some confusions and ambiguities in the debate and to shed light on the dilemma that caretakers of severely disabled children face. (shrink)
For more than a decade, the United States has been fighting wars so far from the public eye as to risk being forgotten, the struggles and sacrifices of its volunteer soldiers almost ignored. Photographer and writer Ashley Gilbertson has been working to prevent that. His dramatic photographs of the Iraq war for the New York Times and his book Whiskey Tango Foxtrot took readers into the mayhem of Baghdad, Ramadi, Samarra, and Fallujah. But with Bedrooms of the Fallen, Gilbertson (...) reminds us that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have also reached deep into homes far from the noise of battle, down quiet streets and country roads—the homes of family and friends who bear their grief out of view. The book’s wide-format black-and-white images depict the bedrooms of forty fallen soldiers—the equivalent of a single platoon—from the United States, Canada, and several European nations. Left intact by families of the deceased, the bedrooms are a heartbreaking reminder of lives cut short: we see high school diplomas and pictures from prom, sports medals and souvenirs, and markers of the idealism that carried them to war, like images of the Twin Towers and Osama Bin Laden. A moving essay by Gilbertson describes his encounters with the families who preserve these private memorials to their loved ones, and shares what he has learned from them about war and loss. Bedrooms of the Fallen is a masterpiece of documentary photography, and an unforgettable reckoning with the human cost of war. (shrink)
Ashley Montagu, who first attacked the term "race" as a usable concept in his acclaimed work, Man's Most Dangerous Myth, offers here a devastating rebuttal to those who would claim any link between race and intelligence. In now classic essays, this thought-provoking volume critically examines the terms "race" and "IQ" and their applications in scientific discourse. The twenty-four contributors--including such eminent thinkers as Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin, Urie Bronfenbrenner, W.F. Bodmer, and Jerome Kagan--draw on fields that range from (...) biology and genetics to psychology, anthropology, and education. What emerges in piece after piece is a deep skepticism about the scientific validity of intelligence tests, especially as applied to evaluating innate intelligence, if only because scientists still cannot distinguish between genetic and environmental contributions to the development of the human mind. Five new essays have been included that specifically address the claims made in the recent, highly controversial book, The Bell Curve. Must reading for anyone interested in racism and education in America, Race and IQ is a brilliantly lucid exploration of the boundary line between race and intelligence. (shrink)
This piece, included in the drift special issue of continent. , was created as one step in a thread of inquiry. While each of the contributions to drift stand on their own, the project was an attempt to follow a line of theoretical inquiry as it passed through time and the postal service(s) from October 2012 until May 2013. This issue hosts two threads: between space & place and between intention & attention . The editors recommend that to experience the (...) drifiting thought that attention be paid to the contributions as they entered into conversation one after another. This particular piece is from the BETWEEN SPACE & PLACE thread: April Vannini, Those Between the Common * Laura Dean & Jesse McClelland, Ballard: A Portrait of Placemaking * Amara Hark Weber, Crossroad * Isaac Linder & Berit Soli-Holt, The Call of the Wild: Terro(i)r Modulations * Ashley D. Hairston, Momma taught us to keep a clean house * Sean Smith, The Garage (Take One) * * * * Momma taught us to keep a clean house. Dust the wood furniture every two weeks. Clean the bathrooms once a week. Wipe down the baseboards once a season (Those damn baseboards. I still got bruises on my knees from scrubbing those things). Sweep away the cobwebs—and pray that those spiders are either dead or delirious (Livin in the country don’t mean you like bugs, especially the ones with too many legs ). Didn’t matter that the house was full of stuff: Great-Grandma’s heirloom dresser, that weird Mammy salt shaker and matching Uncle Tom pepper grinder (Where the hell did Momma get those P.O.S.’s?), the outdated drapes from Belks, Dad’s favorite wooden TV tray, and that uuuuugly love seat that some crazy uncle thought was a glorious find from the Salvation Army (Momma tried to make it pretty with some pillows, but no amount of love could help that seat). Spring Cleaning meant pullin all that furniture away from the walls and holdin your breath to see what time collected in the crevices. Then you gotta be careful not to breathe out too heavy cause the dust would go flying fore you got a chance to catch it. If you didn’t, you’d quickly find out if you’re allergic to dust. Quarter cup of lemon Lysol in a bucket of steaming water and an old wash rag. Maybe two. A dust towel and citrus-scent Pledge. Me and my brothers would fight over who cleaned what. Somehow the twins always got the easy stuff: vacuuming or moving dirt around with the feather-duster. Finishing in enough time to fly down the street on their bikes with the neighborhood kids. Older sister never got off that easy. Each of my stubby fingers morphed into plump, lemon-fresh golden raisins by the time that whole damn house was done. I would finish just in time to sit with Nadine on the porch, counting the seconds til the sun turned off and the fireflies fluttered on. The craziest thing: despite all that cleaning, the house still smelled like Momma’s cookin. That Old House. Might have been some of Grandma’s and Great-Grandma’s cookin mixed in there too. Pork chops. Ham hock soaked in collards. Pinto beans and mustard greens. Corn bread and my Auntie’s famous macaroni and cheese. Didn’t matter if the oven was cold and the valve of the gas stove had been shut for days. A stranger woulda thought someone’d been slavin away in that kitchen for a week straight. No Sweet Citrus & Zest Fabreze back then. Lysol would mask the odors for a little while. Not long enough to overpower the 50 years of goodness marinated in buttermilk, kneaded with lard, and fried in Crisco that’d been embedded in the wallpaper and window treatments. All that grime—dead skin, hair follicles, Carolina clay, carpet lint, yippee-little-dog fur—was evidence of life. We were a socially-awkward newly-minted teenager, two rowdy twin boys, a multi-tasking mother, and a road-warrior father. Eventually a strangely-feline Yorkie was added to the mix. And don’t forget about the stray distant relative stopping by unannounced. No corner of that damn house was unmarked. Hand-sewn pillows in the living room that we were forbidden to breathe on somehow had tiny burnt orange paw prints on them (sneaky little dog). It drove Momma crazy. And tore up my fingernails. They still won’t grow back right. Wipe all that shit off just for it to build up again. But that house was inherited and fully paid for. No reason to move. I did move. I was ready to move on. Move up. Move out. Over that small town. Into the big city. Here the streets take on the smells of Momma’s house. Plus piss, shit, and unbathed skin. A hot day means everything cooks and stews in its own juices, making the stench 10x more intense. The apartment is another story. 11 floors up. Big, east-facing windows. Great view of the skyline dotted with some green foliage. And the great lake. Immaculate. Odorless. Not even a trace of tobacco from the previous tenant’s bad habits. No lingering scent of lemon Lysol. No street stench seeping through the window panes. No stray cat hairs. Or dog fur. Not a speck of dust. Futon. Throw pillows. Photos. Knickknacks. Bowls of fresh citrus. Cursedly-assembled desk set from IKEA. Yet the void is too big to fill. Too clean. (shrink)
In his review of the field of environmental political theory in The Politics of Nature, Andrew Dobson suggested that one way for the discipline to develop was through an engagement with the history of political thought, through “bringing previously buried political theorists to our attention… forcing us to reassess the work of canonical theorists”. Over ten years after Dobson’s initial suggestion, John Meyer notes that this approach had flourished as “a new generation of political theorists” engaged in this project and (...) the results of their work have shone new light on the political canon and broke new ground in environmental political thought.However for all the good... (shrink)
It is well known that humans are able to represent the mental states of others. This ability is commonly thought to be unique to humans. However, recent studies on the food caching, gift giving, and cooperative behaviours of Corvids and Parrots provide evidence for this ability in birds. Upon examining the empirical evidence, I argue that the best explanation for these behaviours is that birds are able to represent conspecifics as having particular mental states. I further argue that birds are (...) able to do this by simulating the minds of conspecifics. (shrink)
The story of Ashley, a nine-year-old from Seattle, has caused a good deal of controversy since it appeared in the Los Angeles Times on January 3, 2007.1 Ashley was born with a condition called static encephalopathy, a severe brain impairment that leaves her unable to walk, talk, eat, sit up, or roll over. According to her doctors, Ashley has reached, and will remain at, the developmental level of a three-month-old.
The linguistic expression of religious experience is problematic for both the experiencer and the philospher. For instance: is the religious experience nonverbal, i.e. does it utterly transcend all words, concepts, and thought? Or is it ineffable – not amenable to verbal expression? In either case, what can one make of all the talk and writings of those who do report religious experiences? The frequent references to ineffability, transcendence of thought and the like, lead one to wonder if the experiencers themselves (...) are not dis-satisfied with these expressions. If this is indeed the case, what is it about these expressions that produces this dissatisfaction? Are some expressions better suited to the experience than others? (shrink)
It is tempting to think that we have heard just about all we want or need to know about race. As the above quotes indicate, modern notions of race have always revolved around the faculty of vision, with supplementary contributions from other senses such as hearing, as Arendt notes in a tacit allusion to one mark of Jewish difference—the way they sounded when concentrated in urban settings. Yet two very recent works—Mark M. Smith's How Race Is Made and Anne C. (...) Rose's Psychology and Selfhood in the Segregated South —have much to teach us about how race has “worked”, particularly in the twentieth-century South but also, by implication, in the United States in general. Both works assume that, historically, race is no mere add-on to the self, a kind of externality that, once detected, can be relatively easily excised. Rather, it stands right at the heart of personal and group identity in a nation where race and ethnicity continue to assume surprising new shapes and forms. (shrink)
My interest here is in the way Leo Strauss and his followers, the Straussians, have dealt with race and rights, race and slavery in the history of the United States. I want, first, to assess Leo Strauss's rather ambivalent attitude toward America and explore the various ways that his followers have in turn analyzed the Lockean underpinnings of the American “regime,” sometimes in contradistinction to Strauss's views on the topic. With that established, I turn to the account, particularly that offered (...) by Harry Jaffa, of how slavery and race comported—or did not—with the Straussian account of the political foundations of the new nation and how latter-day followers of Strauss have dealt with the persisting topic of race and racism in America. Overall, I want to make two large points. First, the Straussian commitment to superhistorical standards provides the Straussians with a moral perspective on slavery, race, and racism. Second, though race and slavery have been less than central among the concerns of most followers of Strauss, the contributions of Jaffa and others have significantly shaped the present American conservative position on race, including the idea of color-blindness. (shrink)
In the continuing dialogue between Western philosophy and the Christian religion, the central issue has generally been the existence of God. There has however been a discernible shift in the focus of the discussion in recent years. Rather than the existence of God, the issue now seems to be the concept of God. It is increasingly argued by philosophers critical of religion that the concept of God is basically incoherent, and that therefore the question of God's existence or non-existence does (...) not even arise. What cannot be conceived is not even a possible object of faith. (shrink)
Aristophanes' comic masterpiece Thesmophoriazusae has long been recognized amongst the plays of Old Comedy for its deconstruction of tragic theatricality. This book reveals that this deconstruction is grounded not simply in Aristophanes' wider engagement with tragic realism. Rather, it demonstrates that from its outset Aristophanes' play draws upon Parmenides' philosophical revelations concerning reality and illusion, employing Eleatic strictures and imagery to philosophize the theatrical situation, criticize Aristophanes' poetic rival Euripides as promulgator of harmful deceptions, expose the dangerous complicity of Athenian (...) theatre audiences in tragic illusion, and articulate political advice to an audience negotiating a period of political turmoil characterized by deception and uncertainty. The book thereby restores Thesmophoriazusae to its proper status as a philosophical comedy and reveals hitherto unrecognized evidence of Aristophanes' political use of Eleatic ideas during the late fifth century BC. (shrink)
While the inference problem is widely thought to be one of the most serious problems facing non-Humean accounts of laws, Jonathan Schaffer has argued that a primitivist response straightforwardly dissolves the problem. On this basis, he claims that the inference problem is really a pseudo-problem. Here I clarify the prospects of a primitivist response to the inference problem and their implications for the philosophical significance of the problem. I argue both that it is a substantial question whether this sort of (...) response ought to be accepted and that the inference problem, contra Schaffer, remains a significant problem with important implications for the non-Humean position. I also argue that this discussion indicates grounds to be wary about applying the Schaffer-style strategy of straightforwardly dissolving problems by stipulation to other philosophical problems. (shrink)
I defend a new account of constitutive essence on which an entity’s constitutively essential properties are its most fundamental, non-trivial necessary properties. I argue that this account accommodates the Finean counterexamples to classic modalism about essence, provides an independently plausible account of constitutive essence and does not run into clear counterexamples. I conclude that this theory provides a promising way forward for attempts to produce an adequate non-primitivist, modalist account of essence. As both triviality and fundamentality in the account are (...) understood in terms of grounding, the theory also potentially has important implications for the relation between essence and grounding. (shrink)
Debate continues to rage among philosophers of religion over Anthony Flew's famous little paper ‘Theology and Falsification’ and the responses it provoked, most notably R. M. Hare's response that religious claims are in no way like scientific hypotheses. For now, twenty years later, we still find many theists taking a similar tack to Hare's. A particularly interesting example is J. F. Miller in Religious Studies , 1969, who replies to Flew that propositions like ‘God loves mankind’ cannot be subject to (...) falsifiability conditions because they are used as claims expressing ‘ religious first-order principles of the Judaeo-Christian Weltanschauung and as such are not amenable to falsification’ . Miller seems to put his faith in some kind of great gulf fixed between what he would consider decently falsifiable scientific hypotheses and what he takes to be unfalsifiable first-order principles both of theology and of contemporary science. In what follows we will try to sketch a more rational strategy for modern believers of a liberal empiricist type, for those whose interest in appealing and deferring to experience includes but is not restricted to so-called ‘sense experience’. This will involve accepting analogies between theological statements and so-called hypotheses, insofar as the latter are propositions held and put forward in a somewhat tentative spirit with a view to explaining what we experience. (shrink)
Ashley J. Bohrer argues that it is only by considering race, gender, sexuality, and ability within the structures of capitalism and imperialism that we can understand power relations. Bohrer explains how the purported incompatibilities between Marxism and intersectionality arise more from miscommunication than a fundamental conceptual antagonism.