Koonin argues that CRISPR-Cas systems present the best-known case in point for Lamarckian evolution because they satisfy his proposed criteria for the specific inheritance of acquired adaptive characteristics. We see two interrelated issues with Koonin’s characterization of CRISPR-Cas systems as Lamarckian. First, at times he appears to confuse an account of the CRISPR-Cas system with an account of the mechanism it employs. We argue there is no evidence for the CRISPR-Cas system being “Lamarckian” in any sense. Second, it is unclear (...) whether the mechanism is more “Lamarckian” than many other forms of genetic change already well-characterized in Darwinian terms. We present three conceptually distinct senses in which the mechanism of IAC may be considered Lamarckian and argue that only the strongest sense of goal-directed IAC would be difficult to accommodate in a Darwinian account. As the CRISPR-Cas mechanism does not qualify as “Lamarckian” in this strong sense, we argue there is no conceptual value in calling it “Lamarckian”. Finally, we suggest that CRISPR-Cas systems do hold the potential for genuinely non-Darwinian, directed evolution in a way that Koonin did not discuss, involving their potential use as a human gene-editing tool. (shrink)
This article is a study of the response of two heterodox schools of economic thought to ?new? philosophical ideas. Specifically, it considers the response within Post Keynesian and feminist economics to Tony Lawson's recent call for economists to pay greater attention to ontology and for economists to adopt research methods consistent with critical realism. Lawson's arguments were formally introduced to these schools over the space of a few years and continue to generate considerable discussion within their ranks. The focus of (...) analysis in this article is on the debate about Lawson's ideas published in the leading journals associated with two schools of thought: The Journal of Post Keynesian Economics and Feminist Economics. The article contrasts the reception Lawson's ideas received in each of the two journals and suggests some reasons for these differences. It argues that some barriers to the adoption of new ideas exist in each school of thought and that this has implications for the direction and content of economic thought in heterodox schools. (shrink)
Like many disciplines, moral philosophy is being subjected to critical scrutiny by feminist scholars. By applying a feminist critique of gender to the area of ethics, feminists pose the question, “Does gender make a difference?” or “Is ethics gendered?” Given that gender differences exist, it stands to reason that these differences might be institutionalized at the level of theory. Given also that different theories highlight different properties of a moral problem, theories can be evaluated according to how well, or how (...) poorly they account for gendered perspectives. Such gender differences need not be explained essentialistically, but may be explained as the result of different socialization strategies and the different social, political and economic standing of men and women. This discussion has seen the revival of the issue over whether ethical theory ought primarily to reflect care or justice, with the former reflecting a consequentialist approach with emphasis on concrete particulars and sentiment, and the latter reflecting a nonconsequentialist approach with emphasis on abstract universals and reason. (shrink)
This paper deals with what I take to be one woman’s literary response to a philosophical problem. The woman is Jane Austen, the problem is the rationality of Hume’s ‘sensible knave’, and Austen’s response is to deepen the problem. Despite his enthusiasm for virtue, Hume reluctantly concedes in the EPM that injustice can be a rational strategy for ‘sensible knaves’, intelligent but selfish agents who feel no aversion towards thoughts of villainy or baseness. Austen agrees, but adds (...) that ABSENT CONSIDERATIONS OF A FUTURE STATE, other vices besides injustice can be rationally indulged with tolerable prospects of worldly happiness. Austen’s creation Mr Elliot in Persuasion is just such an agent – sensible and knavish but not technically ‘unjust’. Despite and partly because of his vices – ingratitude, avarice and duplicity – he manages to be both successful and reasonably happy. There are plenty of other reasonably happy knaves in Jane Austen, some of whom are not particularly sensible. This is not to say that either Austen or Hume is in favor of knavery It is just that they both think that only those with the right sensibility can be argued out of it. (shrink)
In her final fragmentary novel Sanditon, Jane Austen develops a theme that pervades her work from her juvenilia onward: illness, and in particular, illness imagined, invented, or self-inflicted. While the “invention of odd complaints” is characteristically a token of folly or weakness throughout her writing, in this last work imagined illness is also both a symbol and a cause of how selves and societies degenerate. In the shifting world of Sanditon, hypochondria is the lubricant for a society bent on (...) turning health into a commodity. As a result, people’s rationality and their moral character come under attack. Catherine Belling’s recent subtle study, A Condition of Doubt: The Meanings of Hypochondria, unveils hypochondria’s discursive and cultural character. Running sharply against the tenor of Austen’s treatment, however, she argues in defense of the rationality of hypochondriacs; the notion that the condition may involve morally significant defects is not entertained; any connection to the commercialization of health care is muted. Here, I contrast Austen’s morally and epistemically negative rendering of her hypochondriacal characters in Sanditon with Belling’s efforts to create a sympathetic understanding of people with hypochondria. I will argue that, despite time gaps and genre differences, joint consideration of these texts can help bioethicists better appreciate how medicine can intensify, pathologize, and exploit anxieties about illness and death, thus adding to the challenges of living well in the face of mortality and morbidity. (shrink)
Austen's heroines need all their resources to overcome the suffering that their virtues occasion. Isolation threatens Emma Woodhouse, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood because of rather than in spite of their characteristic excellences. But this cannot be: virtue is supposed to contribute to flourishing, not detract from it. Fortunately, Emma, Anne, and Elinor also possess proper self-sufficiency, enabling them to endure and overcome the trials of their own virtue. Thus, Austen's heroines avoid misery, and virtue theorists learn to (...) attend to virtues that respond to the struggle that partially constitutes even excellent human lives. (shrink)
Recent moral philosophy emphasizes both the particularity of ethical contexts and the complexity of human character, but the usual abstract examples make it difficult to communicate to students the importance of this particularity and complexity. Extended study of a literary text in ethics classes can help overcome this obstacle and enrich our students’ understanding and practice of mature ethical reflection. Jane Austen’s Persuasion is an ideal text for this kind of effort. Persuasion augments the resources for ethical reflection that (...) students bring to our courses, provides a multitude of fecund examples to inspire discussion, and introduces philosophical points of its own. I explain specific ways to integrate this novel into courses and why some approaches work better than others, and I highlight themes for three different levels of study: reflection on particular virtues and vices, illustration of broader ethical issues, and discussion of virtues that the philosophical literature neglects. In each case, I discuss a particular example in detail: the question of whether or not pride can be a virtue, the varieties of friendship and their relation to virtue, and the virtue of proper persuadability. These examples suggest ways in which ethics teachers might explore the resources of other literary works towards similar ends. (shrink)
A compelling exploration of the convergence of Jane Austen’s literary themes and characters with David Hume’s views on morality and human nature. Argues that the normative perspectives endorsed in Jane Austen's novels are best characterized in terms of a Humean approach, and that the merits of Hume's account of ethical, aesthetic and epistemic virtue are vividly illustrated by Austen's writing. Illustrates how Hume and Austen complement one another, each providing a lens that allows us to expand (...) and elaborate on the ideas of the other Proposes that literature may serve as a thought experiment, articulating hypothetical cases which allow the reader to test her moral intuitions Contributes to ongoing debates on the philosophy of literature, ethics, and emotion. (shrink)
There seems to be something self-evident—irresistibly so, to judge from its gleeful propagation—about the use of the phrase, “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl,” as the Q.E.D. of phobic narratives about the degeneracy of academic discourse in the humanities. But what? The narrative link between masturbation itself and degeneracy, though a staple of pre-1920s medical and racial science, no longer has any respectable currency. To the contrary: modern views of masturbation tend to place it firmly in the framework of (...) optimistic, hygienic narratives of all-too-normative individual development. When Jane E. Brody, in a recent “Personal Health” column in the NewYork Times, reassures her readers that, according to experts, it is actually entirely possible for people to be healthy without masturbating; “that the practice is not essential to normal development and that no one who thinks it is wrong or sinful should feel he or she must try it”; and that even “’those who have not masturbated … can have perfectly normal sex lives as adults,’” the all but perfectly normal Victorianist may be forgiven for feeling just a little—out of breath.3 In this altered context, the self-evidence of a polemical link between autoeroticism and narratives of wholesale degeneracy 4 draws on a very widely discredited body of psychiatric and eugenic expertise whose only direct historical continuity with late twentieth-century thought has been routed straight through the rhetoric and practice of fascism. But it now draws on this body of expertise under the more acceptable gloss of the modern, trivializing, hygienic-developmental discourse, according to which autoeroticism not only is funny—any sexuality of any power is likely to hover near the threshold of hilarity—but also must be relegated to the inarticulable space of infantility. 3. Jane E. Brody, “Personal Health,” New York Times, 4 Nov. 1987.4. Rosenblatt, “The Universities,” p. 3. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is professor of English at Duke University and the author of Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire and Epistemology of the Closet. (shrink)
What does it mean to hold that the significant aspects of a literary passage cannot be captured in a paraphrase? Does a change in the description of an act "risk producing a different act" from the one described? Using Jane Austen as an example, we'll consider whether her use of metaphor and symbol really amounts to calling someone a prick, whether her narrative voice changes what it is that is expressed, and whether comedy can hold just as much significance (...) as tragedy without all the heavy breathing. (shrink)
Local knowledge (both technological and sociological) and communication systems represent a logical starting point and a rich body of resources for successful agricultural research, development, and extension (RD&E). Drawing upon concrete examples from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, this essay presents an overview of definitions, topics, and applications of local knowledge in agricultural RD&E. Also noted are caveats, future research and training needs, and human values issues related to the study and utilization of local knowledge systems and their products.
A central, if controversial, Aristotelian claim is that the virtues are connected—that practical wisdom depends upon moral virtue, and moral virtue upon practical wisdom. If those who see Jane Austen's portrayal of the moral life as broadly Aristotelian1 are right, we should expect to see such a dependence shown in Austen's novels. I will argue that we can indeed find portrayed a dependence of wisdom upon character, and in particular upon the virtues Austen calls constancy and unreserve. (...) These two are of interest not only because of the special role Austen seems to give them but also because they are not... (shrink)
In this article I argue that, through the use of experimental practice and by following Bacon’s general prescriptions for natural history, Ralph Austen developed an appetitive theory of matter of Baconian inspiration. There are at least three areas of similarity between the two authors’ theories of matter: the presence and activity of spirits as the main entities animating matter; the relations of sympathy and antipathy between different elements of matter; and perception as an appetitive property of plants that can (...) produce motion. I conclude that Austen developed his theory of matter on the basis of these three central points, which bear a significant resemblance to Bacon’s own theory, a connection that is best exemplified by its appetitive character. (shrink)
Bacon’s projects of natural history were extremely popular in the mid-seventeenth century, especially for a group of people devoted to experimental activities, namely the Hartlib Circle. Ralph Austen, one member of the Hartlib Circle, tried to construct his own project of natural history using Bacon’s Sylva sylvarum as a pattern and following the Baconian scheme with particular interest for the methodological aspects entailed by such an endeavor. This paper provides an account of Austen’s attempts at writing a natural (...) history as found in his Observations upon some part of Sr Francis Bacon’s Naturall History. It discusses the methodology and aims served by such an enterprise, both practical and theoretical: the role of experimentation in the process of compiling a natural history as the most reliable activity able to provide accurate knowledge of the natural world and the determination to provide general rules and axioms about nature. (shrink)
“Indulging herself in air and exercise” as she wanders down a lane near the great house of Rosings, Elizabeth Bennet is unaware that she is just about to experience one of her most difficult challenges, and that Mr. Darcy is on his way with his letter.1 Just like present-day personality theorists, Jane Austen manifestly directed a great deal of creative and intellectual energy into devising a great variety of tests. But what are such situations designed to test for? What (...) aspects of character or personality, or traits and abilities, are meant to be scrutinized? A likely response from critics interested in Austen’s ethics is that such challenges should reveal which, if any, of the virtues are in good working order. .. (shrink)
The nineteenth century compared her to Shakespeare; in our own time, she has been likened most often to Henry James. Both comparisons reflect a basic difficulty in reconciling subject matter with treatment, in squaring Jane Austen's restricted world - "3 or 4 Families in a Country Village" - with her profound impact upon our imaginations. Over the years her admirers have tried to resolve this paradox in various ways, none quite successful, but throughout all the changes in critical method (...) one thing has remained constant: the high level of admiration. As Edmund Wilson once remarked, in various revolutions of taste which have occurred during the last century and a half, "perhaps only two reputations have never been affected by the shifts of fashion: Shakespeare's and Jane Austen's. We still agree with Scott about Jane Austen, just as we agree with Ben Jonson about Shakespeare." Even in the half-century after Jane Austen's death, when her reputation was limited in comparison with those of the great Victorians, the praise of discriminating critics was remarkably consistent; and it seems safe to predict, as we begin to celebrate the two-hundredth anniversary of her birth, that this high estimate will remain unchallenged. The bicentennial year will produce the usual tributes, conferences, and collections of essays, but the call for "revaluation" which is usually a ritual part of such occasions will scarcely be heard. The question will not be one of placing Jane Austen in some hierarchy of value, but of trying once again to explain her accepted excellences. A. Walton Litz has written The Art of James Joyce, Jane Austen: A Study of Her Artistic Development, Introspective Voyager: The Poetic Development of Wallace Stevens, and numerous articles. He is professor of English at Princeton University. (shrink)
Jane Austen’s letters describe a two-year deterioration into bed-ridden exhaustion, with unusual colouring, bilious attacks and rheumatic pains. In 1964, Zachary Cope postulated tubercular Addison’s to explain her symptoms and her relatively pain-free illness. Literary scholars later countered this posthumous diagnosis on grounds that are not well substantiated, while medical authors supported his conclusion. Important symptoms reported by contemporary Addison’s patients—mental confusion, generalised pain and suffering, weight loss and anorexia—are absent from Jane Austen’s letters. Thus, by listening to (...) the patient’s perspective, we can conclude it is unlikely that Addison’s disease caused Jane Austen’s demise. Disseminated bovine tuberculosis would offer a coherent explanation for her symptoms, so that Cope’s original suggestion of infective tuberculosis as the cause of her illness may have been correct. (shrink)
Next SectionJane Austen is typically described as having excellent health until the age of 40 and the onset of a mysterious and fatal illness, initially identified by Sir Zachary Cope in 1964 as Addison’s disease. Her biographers, deceived both by Cassandra Austen’s destruction of letters containing medical detail, and the cheerful high spirits of the existing letters, have seriously underestimated the extent to which illness affected Austen’s life. A medical history reveals that she was particularly susceptible to (...) infection, and suffered unusually severe infective illnesses, as well as a chronic conjunctivitis that impeded her ability to write. There is evidence that Austen was already suffering from an immune deficiency and fatal lymphoma in January 1813, when her second and most popular novel, Pride and Prejudice, was published. Four more novels would follow, written or revised in the shadow of her increasing illness and debility. Whilst it is impossible now to conclusively establish the cause of her death, the existing medical evidence tends to exclude Addison’s disease, and suggests there is a high possibility that Jane Austen’s fatal illness was Hodgkin’s disease, a form of lymphoma. (shrink)
What has Emma Woodhouse to say to a discipline like philosophy? The minutia of daily living on which Jane Austen's Emma concentrates our attention permit a closer look at human emotions and motives. Emma shows how friendships can affect one's ways of dealing with the world, how shame can reconfigure self-understanding. That is, Emma leads us to think philosophically.
The mention of “self-control” calls up certain stock images: Saint Augustine struggling to renounce carnal pleasures; dispassionate Mr. Spock of Star Trek; the dieter faced with tempting desserts. In these stock images reason is almost always assigned the power and authority to govern passions, desires, and appetites. But what if the passions were given the power to rule—what if, instead of sovereign reason, there were sovereign sentiments? My dissertation examines three sentimentalist conceptions of self-control: David Hume’s conception of “strength of (...) mind”; Adam Smith’s conception of “self-command”; and Jane Austen’s examination of these conceptions. Hume divests reason of motivational power, and with this new moral psychology comes a new conception of self-control. Humean strength of mind is indirect, artificial, and social—a regulatory system that humans cannot develop until societal systems of government and regulations have been instituted. Smith accepts Hume’s anti-rationalist arguments, but he emphasizes that only certain sentiments are fit to rule. And he argues that self-control develops without the sophisticated external conditions posited by Hume. Smithian self-command is the capacity to modify one’s feelings in accordance with a regulative ideal: the sentiments of an imagined impartial spectator. Austen responds to these conceptions, illustrating and complicating them. Sense and Sensibility explores the difficulties of discerning the feelings of others, and Persuasion dramatizes the difficulties of distinguishing strength of mind in another, offering sets of characters for the reader’s scrutiny, each with a competing claim to strength of mind. Taken together, Austen’s novels offer a fuller and more delicately shaded depiction of the sort of self-control that Hume and Smith imagine in their philosophical works. (shrink)
This book contends that when late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century writers sought to explain the origins of emotions, they often discovered that their feelings may not really have been their own. It explores the paradoxes of representing feelings in philosophy, aesthetic theory, gender ideology, literature, and popular sentimentality, and it argues that this period's obsession with sentimental, wayward emotion was inseparable from the dilemmas resulting from attempts to locate the origins of feelings in experience. The book shows how these epistemological (...) dilemmas became gendered by studying a series of extravagantly affective scenes in works by Hume, Wordsworth, Charlotte Smith, and Jane Austen. Making its argument through a provocative conjunction of texts that range across genres and genders and across the divide between the eighteenth century and Romanticism, Strange Fits of Passion rediscovers the relationship of empiricism to the culture of sentimentality, and the significance of emotion to Romanticism. (shrink)
There have been more studies, critical books, and learned articles produced over the years about Jane Austen than of any other English literary "great" with the exception of William Shakespeare. The flow of these studies greatly increased in the latter part of this century. Her novels, juvenilia and surviving letters have been intensively researched. Added to this, there is an ever growing interest in her life, times, the importance to her writing of a sense of place, and in her (...) familial and social relationships. To study her work within this wider context, the student needs to refer to the source texts, some written by members of her family after her death, printed in small printings and now both scarce and valuable. (shrink)
Through a careful analysis of Jane Austen's novels that is sure to be controversial, Ruderman offers a unique interpretation of her subject's political philosophy. Her study challenges prevailing Austen scholarship, particularly contemporary feminist readings of Austen which impose historicist conventions upon her works. Locating and examining Austen's thought within a broad political and philosophical context, she concludes that Austen's conservative endorsement of marriage was motivated by her concern with happiness rather than with tradition.