Is the science of moral cognition usefully modelled on aspects of Universal Grammar? Are human beings born with an innate 'moral grammar' that causes them to analyse human action in terms of its moral structure, with just as little awareness as they analyse human speech in terms of its grammatical structure? Questions like these have been at the forefront of moral psychology ever since John Mikhail revived them in his influential work on the linguistic analogy and its implications for (...) jurisprudence and moral theory. In this seminal book, Mikhail offers a careful and sustained analysis of the moral grammar hypothesis, showing how some of John Rawls' original ideas about the linguistic analogy, together with famous thought experiments like the trolley problem, can be used to improve our understanding of moral and legal judgement. (shrink)
To what extent do moral judgments depend on conscious reasoning from explicitly understood principles? We address this question by investigating one particular moral principle, the principle of the double effect. Using web-based technology, we collected a large data set on individuals' responses to a series of moral dilemmas, asking when harm to innocent others is permissible. Each moral dilemma presented a choice between action and inaction, both resulting in lives saved and lives lost. Results showed that: (1) patterns of moral (...) judgments were consistent with the principle of double effect and showed little variation across differences in gender, age, educational level, ethnicity, religion or national affiliation (within the limited range of our sample population) and (2) a majority of subjects failed to provide justifications that could account for their judgments. These results indicate that the principle of the double effect may be operative in our moral judgments but not open to conscious introspection. We discuss these results in light of current psychological theories of moral cognition, emphasizing the need to consider the unconscious appraisal system that mentally represents the causal and intentional properties of human action. (shrink)
: To what extent do moral judgments depend on conscious reasoning from explicitly understood principles? We address this question by investigating one particular moral principle, the principle of the double effect. Using web-based technology, we collected a large data set on individuals’ responses to a series of moral dilemmas, asking when harm to innocent others is permissible. Each moral dilemma presented a choice between action and inaction, both resulting in lives saved and lives lost. Results showed that: patterns of moral (...) judgments were consistent with the principle of double effect and showed little variation across differences in gender, age, educational level, ethnicity, religion or national affiliation and a majority of subjects failed to provide justifications that could account for their judgments. These results indicate that the principle of the double effect may be operative in our moral judgments but not open to conscious introspection. We discuss these results in light of current psychological theories of moral cognition, emphasizing the need to consider the unconscious appraisal system that mentally represents the causal and intentional properties of human action. (shrink)
The aim of the dissertation is to formulate a research program in moral cognition modeled on aspects of Universal Grammar and organized around three classic problems in moral epistemology: What constitutes moral knowledge? How is moral knowledge acquired? How is moral knowledge put to use? Drawing on the work of Rawls and Chomsky, a framework for investigating -- is proposed. The framework is defended against a range of philosophical objections and contrasted with the approach of developmentalists like Piaget and Kohlberg. (...) ;One chapter consists of an interpretation of the analogy Rawls draws in A Theory of Justice between moral theory and generative linguistics. A second chapter clarifies the empirical significance of Rawls' linguistic analogy by formulating a solution to the problem of descriptive adequacy with respect to a class of commonsense moral intuitions, including those discussed in the trolley problem literature originating in the work of Foot and Thomson. Three remaining chapters defend Rawls' linguistic analogy against some of its critics. In response to Hare's objection that Rawls' conception of moral theory is too empirical and insufficiently normative, it is argued that Hare fails to acknowledge both the centrality of the problem of empirical adequacy in the history of moral philosophy and the complexity of Rawls' approach to the problem of normative adequacy. In response to Nagel's claim that the analogy between moral theory and linguistics is false because whatever native speakers agree on is English, but whatever ordinary men agree in condemning is not necessarily wrong, it is argued that the criticism ignores both Rawls' use of the competence-performance distinction and the theory-dependence of the corresponding distinction in linguistics. In response to Dworkin's claim that Rawls' conception of moral theory is incompatible with naturalism and presupposes constructivism, it is argued that Dworkin's distinction between naturalism and constructivism represents a false antithesis; neither is an accurate interpretation of the model of moral theory Rawls describes in A Theory of Justice. The thesis concludes by situating Rawls' linguistic analogy within the context of broader debates in metaethics, democratic theory, natural law theory, and the theory of moral development. (shrink)
Scientists from various disciplines have begun to focus attention on the psychology and biology of human morality. One research program that has recently gained attention is universal moral grammar (UMG). UMG seeks to describe the nature and origin of moral knowledge by using concepts and models similar to those used in Chomsky's program in linguistics. This approach is thought to provide a fruitful perspective from which to investigate moral competence from computational, ontogenetic, behavioral, physiological and phylogenetic perspectives. In this article, (...) I outline a framework for UMG and describe some of the evidence that supports it. I also propose a novel computational analysis of moral intuitions and argue that future research on this topic should draw more directly on legal theory. (shrink)
Could a computer be programmed to make moral judgments about cases of intentional harm and unreasonable risk that match those judgments people already make intuitively? If the human moral sense is an unconscious computational mechanism of some sort, as many cognitive scientists have suggested, then the answer should be yes. So too if the search for reflective equilibrium is a sound enterprise, since achieving this state of affairs requires demarcating a set of considered judgments, stating them as explanandum sentences, and (...) formulating a set of algorithms from which they can be derived. The same is true for theories that emphasize the role of emotions or heuristics in moral cognition, since they ultimately depend on intuitive appraisals of the stimulus that accomplish essentially the same tasks. Drawing on deontic logic, action theory, moral philosophy, and the common law of tort, particularly Terry's five-variable calculus of risk, I outline a formal model of moral grammar and intuitive jurisprudence along the foregoing lines, which defines the abstract properties of the relevant mapping and demonstrates their descriptive adequacy with respect to a range of common moral intuitions, which experimental studies have suggested may be universal or nearly so. Framing effects, protected values, and implications for the neuroscience of moral intuition are also discussed. (shrink)
Objective To determine the attitudes of Egyptian patients regarding their participation in research and with the collection, storage and future use of blood samples for research purposes. Design Cross-sectional survey. Study population Adult Egyptian patients (n=600) at rural and urban hospitals and clinics. Results Less than half of the study population (44.3%) felt that informed consent forms should provide research participants the option to have their blood samples stored for future research. Of these participants, 39.9% thought that consent forms should (...) include the option that future research be restricted to the illness being studied. A slight majority (66.2%) would donate their samples for future genetic research. Respondents were more favourable towards having their blood samples exported to other Arab countries (62.0%) compared with countries in Europe (41.8%, p<0.001) and to the USA (37.2%, p<0.001). Conclusions This study shows that many individuals do not favour the donation of a blood sample for future research. Of those who do approve of such future research, many favour a consent model that includes an option restricting the future research to the illness being studied. Also, many Egyptians were hesitant to have their blood samples donated for genetic research or exported out of the Arab region to the USA and European countries. Further qualitative research should be performed to determine the underlying reasons for many of our results. (shrink)
This article argues that the key elements of the prima facie case of harmful battery may form critical building blocks of moral cognition in both humans and nonhuman animals. By contrast, at least some of the rules and representations presupposed by familiar justifications to battery appear to be uniquely human. The article also argues that many famous thought experiments in ethics and many influential experiments in moral psychology rely on harmful battery scenarios without acknowledging this fact or considering its theoretical (...) or empirical implications. The unifying factor in all these studies is goal-directed harmful contact, inflicted without consent or justification. (shrink)
Darwin’s (1871/1981) observation that evolution has produced in us certain emotions responding to right and wrong conduct that lack any obvious basis in individual utility is a useful springboard from which to clarify the role of emotion in moral judgment. The problem is whether a certain class of moral judgment is “constituted” or “driven by” emotion (Greene, 2008, p. 108) or merely correlated with emotion while being generated by unconscious computations (e.g., Huebner, Dwyer, & Hauser, 2008). With one exception, all (...) of the “personal” vignettes devised by Greene and colleagues (2001, 2004) and subsequently used by other researchers (e.g., Koenigs et al., 2007), in their fMRI and behavioral studies of emotional engagement in moral judgment, involve violent crimes or torts. These studies thus do much more than highlight the role of emotion in moral judgment; they also support the classical rationalist thesis that moral rules are engraved in the mind. (shrink)
By focusing on mistaken judgments, Sunstein provides a theory of performance errors without a theory of moral competence. Additionally, Sunstein's objections to thought experiments like the footbridge and trolley problems are unsound. Exotic and unfamiliar stimuli are used in theory construction throughout the cognitive sciences, and these problems enable us to uncover the implicit structure of our moral intuitions.
One of the most influential arguments in contemporary philosophy and cognitive science is Chomsky's argument from the poverty of the stimulus. In this response to an essay by Chandra Sripada, I defend an analogous argument from the poverty of the moral stimulus. I argue that Sripada's criticism of moral nativism appears to rest on the mistaken assumption that the learning target in moral cognition consists of a series of simple imperatives, such as "share your toys" or "don't hit other children." (...) In fact, the available evidence suggests that the moral competence of adults and even young children is considerably more complex and exhibits many characteristics of a well-developed legal code, including abstract theories of crime, tort, contract, and agency. Since the emergence of this knowledge cannot be explained by appeals to explicit instruction, or to any known processes of imitation, internalization, socialization and the like, there are grounds for concluding it may be innate. Simply put, to explain the development of intuitive jurisprudence in each individual, we must attribute unconscious knowledge and complex mental operations to her that go well beyond anything she has been taught. (shrink)
In this comment on Joshua Greene's essay, The Secret Joke of Kant's Soul, I argue that a notable weakness of Greene's approach to moral psychology is its neglect of computational theory. A central problem moral cognition must solve is to recognize (i.e., compute representations of) the deontic status of human acts and omissions. How do people actually do this? What is the theory which explains their practice?
Baumard et al. attribute to humans a sense of fairness. However, the properties of this sense are so underspecified that the evolutionary account offered is not well-motivated. We contrast this with the framework of Universal Moral Grammar, which has sought a descriptively adequate account of the structure of the moral domain as a precondition for understanding the evolution of morality.
In 2001, UNESCO proclaimed the Ifugao epic hudhud as one of the 19 masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. This study is focused on the traditional marriage rite of the wealthy Ifugao people in the ancient times as a reflection of the socio-political culture and tradition. This study aims to answer: What are the socio-political symbols reflected in the narrative structure and characterization of the epic? How does the traditional marriage define the socio-political stratification of the Ifugao (...) people? The analysis is anchored on E. Arsenio Manuel’s theory of the Philippine ethno-epic. A descriptive-qualitative method was used in this study. Immersion, observation and random informal interviews in Kiangan, Ifugao were employed in gathering and validating data. The hudhud variant of study is proven as a historical record of the traditional and unique customary laws of the ancient Ifugao people that have survived and surpassed the modern age. The characters bring us the perspective that defines their traditional culture despite the Christianization and modernization. The traditional marriage rite depicted in the epic does not only recounts the socio- political stratification but also unfolds the beauty and unique tradition of the highlands that needs to be protected and preserved. Keywords - Philippine Literature, Ifugao socio-political culture, Uyauy, descriptive qualitative method, Philippines Philippine Literature, Ifugao socio-political culture, Uyauy, descriptivequalitative method, Philippines. (shrink)
Until recently, little was known of H.L.A. Hart’s private life. That has now changed with the publication of Nicola Lacey’s A Life of H.L.A. Hart: The Nightmare and the Noble Dream. Drawing on Hart’s notebooks and correspondence, Lacey paints an illuminating portrait of Hart, which reveals that despite his public success he struggled with internal perplexities, including his sexual orientation, Jewish identity, intellectual insecurity, and unconventional marriage. Yet, as critics have noted, the connection between these revelations and the development of (...) Hart’s ideas is unclear. Moreover, one cannot help but wonder whether by focusing on these aspects of Hart’s personal life, Lacey has missed an opportunity to explore certain basic questions about his jurisprudence and its link to wider intellectual currents. For example, linguistics, psychology, and the philosophy of language and mind are much different today than they were in the 1940s and 1950s, yet Lacey does not discuss how such familiar events as the overthrow of logical positivism, the demise of behaviorism, the rise of generative linguistics, or the broader cognitive revolution of which they were a part actually impacted Hart or should influence our understanding of his legacy. Surprisingly, none of these developments are taken up in this book, leading one to ponder the significance of their absence. (shrink)
In the report are considered initial theses – philosophical ideas and paradigmatic representations, - for formation of a new scientific direction – virtual linguistics: virtual philosophy of linguistics. Focus of interests of virtual linguistics lays in studying attitudes of the internal (virtual) human and language as virtual object of the internal (virtual) human. For ordinary consciousness virtual - concerning computers. It only is partly true. The virtualistic as the paradigmatic direction is developed in Russia since 80th years of the last (...) century. The virtualistic not scientific discipline, and the paradigmatic approach which can be applied in any sphere of human activity. Virtual psychology - one of its most developed directions. The virtual psychology considers mentality of the person (its internal space) as a virtual reality. The main message, the thesis: want a hypothesis, want the statement: the human should cease to be in linguistics a figure of default. The maxim is well-known: language - the house of life. It is less obvious, that the human - the house of language. But, certainly, simultaneously the human is the son of language. In particular, it is possible to ask a question - what ontological structure outside of language space of mental sphere? In this connection some perspective directions of works at philosophical, theoretical, methodological and empirical levels have been considered. The invitation to cooperation of colleagues of linguists - one of the central purposes present article. (shrink)
In her insightful and stimulating article, The Mind of a Moral Agent, Professor Susanna Blumenthal traces the influence of Scottish Common Sense philosophy on early American law. Among other things, Blumenthal argues that the basic model of moral agency upon which early American jurists relied, which drew heavily from Common Sense philosophers like Thomas Reid, generated certain paradoxical conclusions about legal responsibility that later generations were forced to confront. "Having cast their lot with the Common Sense philosophers in the "formative (...) era" of American law," she explains, "early republican jurists thus bequeathed to future generations of lawyers a problem of responsibility of no small proportions." In this invited comment for Law and History Review, I first argue that the problems of responsibility on which Blumenthal focuses our attention are not specific to Scottish Common Sense, but rather descend straight from the core of the Western legal and moral tradition. The same problems would arise if Common Sense philosophy had never existed. Second, even if it is true that Common Sense exerted a powerful influence on American academic life in the antebellum period, it still must be shown that this influence extended to specific features of American law, which remained at the time almost entirely the product of English common law. Blumenthal has not met this burden, however, because she does not identify any specific doctrines or judicial opinions that might support the conclusion that early American jurists "were steeped in Common Sense philosophy" or sought to construct "an indigenous legal tradition, built on the universalistic premises of Common Sense." Rather, her defense of this interesting claim is highly selective, resting mainly on the writings of Wilson and Hoffman. Third, although Blumenthal claims that there is something puzzling or paradoxical from a Common Sense perspective about the diversity of moral opinion, the existence of irrational or evil actors, or the fact that individuals often disregard the dictates of their moral sense, she does not adequately explain what exactly that paradox is, nor why Common Sense adherents should be troubled by it. Locke had made objections like these familiar as a result of his attack on innate practical principles in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Yet already by the eighteenth century, critics like Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Reid, and their followers had rejected Locke's arguments as based on mere confusion and fallacy. Finally, a key point that Blumenthal neglects, as does John Witt in his elegant chapter on Wilson, is that Common Sense philosophers also supplied positive scientific arguments for innate moral knowledge, based on observation and induction rather than introspection, whose intellectual worth has proved remarkably durable. We risk misunderstanding Scottish Common Sense and its place in the history of ideas if we overlook contributions like these, or remain content to think of it merely as an unduly optimistic philosophy, which relied mainly on introspection to affirm the innate goodness of humankind, but which gave way to a more accurate theory of human nature as the nineteenth century unfolded. Certainly there is some truth to this description, but it is only part of the story, and a potentially misleading one. (shrink)
In this paper we attempt to prove that it was Ludwig Feuerbach’s anthropology that influenced Bakunin’s philosophical path. Following his example Bakunin turned against religion which manipulates, as Hegelianism does, the only priority human being has—another human being. Although Feuerbach’s philosophy did not involve social problems present at Bakunin’s works, we would like to show that it was Feuerbach himself who laid foundation for them and that Bakunin’s criticism of the state was the natural consequence of Feuerbach’s struggle for the (...) individual. Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin proved that Feuerbach’s attempts to rise anthropology to the rank of theology are not sufficient to free the individual from the power of abstractions as in his opinion it is not only God (religion) that should be overthrown but also the state. (shrink)
The Bakhtin Circle’s conception of language is very much still alive, still productive, in the language sciences today. My claim in this paper is that to understand the Bakhtin Circle’s continuing relevance to the language sciences, we have to look beyond the linguistic theory itself, to the philosophical groundwork laid for this project by Bakhtin in what he himself referred to as his philosophical anthropology. This philosophical anthropology, at the center of which stands an architectonics of self—other relations, opens the (...) door for a radical rethinking of what language is and how it works; a rethinking that in turn opens up and coincides with new directions being explored in the language sciences today. Within the context of Bakhtin scholarship, this paper also argues for taking Bakhtin’s early philosophical works more seriously when discussing the Bakhtin Circle’s conception of language. (shrink)
The aim of Language for those who have Nothing is to think psychiatry through the writings of Mikhail Bakhtin. Using the concepts of Dialogism and Polyphony, the Carnival and the Chronotope, a novel means of navigating the clinical landscape is developed. Bakhtin offers language as a social phenomenon and one that is fully embodied. Utterances are shown to be alive and enfleshed and their meanings realised in the context of given social dimensions. The organisation of this book corresponds with (...) carnival practices of taking the high down to the low before replenishing its meaning anew. Thus early discussions of official language and the chronotope become exposed to descending levels of analysis and emphasis. Patients and practitioners are shown to occupy an entirely different spatio-temporal topography. These chronotopes have powerful borders and it is necessary to use the Carnival powers of cunning and deception in order to enter and to leave them. The book provides an overview of practitioners who have attempted such transgression and the author records his own unnerving experience as a pseudopatient. By exploring the context of psychiatry's unofficial voices: its terminology, jokes, parodies, and everyday narratives, the clinical landscape is shown to rely heavily on unofficial dialogues in order to safeguard an official identity. (shrink)
Proposing his conception of narrative identity in Oneself as Another, Paul Ricoeur holds that human life is comprehensible, once the story of a man’s life has actually been told, and it is the narrative of one’s life which constructs one’s identity. Developing his theory of heteroglossia and the polyphony of human speech, explicated chiefly in Speech Genres and The Dialogic Imagination, Mikhail Bakhtin recognizes the intrinsically intertwining character of utterance and response. According to him, utterance is always addressed to (...) someone and antedates an answer. Bakhtin’s “addressivity,” as well as his view of discourse as fundamentally dialogic, are convergent with Ricoeur’s elucidation both of man’s answerability to the Other and of narrative identity. The dynamic character of narrative identity, as construed by Ricoeur, converges with the dynamic nature of language as viewed by Bakhtin. The aim of this article is to study the intersections of Ricoeur’s narrative theory and Bakhtin’s recognition of the polyphonic nature of speech. I view these as inherently interrelated, and as testifying, respectively, to the philosophical and linguistic aspects of one and the same phenomenological vision. That vision accounts for selfhood, understood as vulnerable and contextualized, while also recognizing that it is conveyed by means of language with its essentially dialogic openness. (shrink)
The language theory of Mikhail Bakhtin does not fall neatly under any single rubric - 'dialogism,' 'marxism,' 'prosaics,' 'authorship' - because the philosophic foundation of his writing rests ambivalently between phenomenology and Marxism. The theoretical tension of these positions creates philosophical impasses in Bakhtin's work, which have been neglected or ignored partly because these impasses are themselves mirrored by the problems of antifoundationalist and materialist tendencies in literary scholarship. In Mikhail Bakhtin: Between Phenomenology and Marxism Michael Bernard-Donals examines (...) various incarnations of phenomenological and materialist theory - including the work of Jauss, Fish, Rorty, Althusser, and Pecheux - and places them beside Bakhtin's work, providing a contextualised study of Bakhtin, a critique of the problems of contemporary critics, and an original contribution to literary theory. (shrink)
This is an examination of two essays on minimal religion by Mikhail Epstein (1982 and 1999), assessing the usefulness of the term ‘minimal religion’ for the analysis of religion in contemporary Russia.
In this article the most important text of twentieth-century Russian intellectual history, Landmarks (Vekhi) (1909) comes under reexamination. Looking at the rivalry of the volume''s two organizers, Mikhail Gershenzon and Petr Struve, Professor Brian Horowitz explains why Landmarks succeeded in offering such a biting critique of radical ideology, while lacking its own internal intellectual unity.
Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita was written between 1929 and 1940. Although delayed for a quarter of a century, it quickly found a stable place in our life as soon as it was published [for the first publication of the novel see: Moskva, 1966, no. 11; 1967, no. 1]. It is usually classified as a satirical philosophical novel. The satirical element puts it in the same family as such well-known works of the end of the '20s as (...) the novels of I. Il'f and E. Petrov, Twelve Chairs [Dvenadtsat' stul'ev] and The Golden Calf [Zolotoi telenok], but its emphatically philosophical orientation makes it all but a unique phenomenon in the history of Soviet literature. The novel's philosophical aspects have already been examined in a number of essays. Thus, for example, N. P. Utekhin analyzes the reflection of certain general philosophical categories in the novel. G. Chernikova and I. L. Galinskaia have endeavored to determine the concrete literary sources of the novel's philosophy [Chernikova 1971, pp. 213-219; Galinskaia 1986]. (shrink)
In A Secular Age Charles Taylor endorses Mikhail Epstein’s notion of ‘minimal religion’ as his preferred orientation to the good for Western secular society. This article examines the basis of Epstein’s ‘minimal religion’ which rests on the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. It is shown that Freud’s theories are incompatible with Taylor’s own thought, and in the case of Jung, Epstein fails to develop the latter’s contribution to our understanding of religion. Moreover, although Taylor endorses Epstein’s (...) work he makes no reference to Jung. To this end, the importance of Jung’s theories in relation to religion are elucidated and offered as a way to forge a dialogue between a nuanced humanist position and the theistic vision offered by Taylor. (shrink)
Critical Inquiry’s Forum on Mikhail Bakhtin [Critical Inquiry 10 : 225-319] is the latest contribution to the spectacular effort of interpretation and assimilation that is being applied to the work of this recently recovered critic. In such a situation, analysis proceeds with one eye on the work in question and the other on current debates in the field; in the case of Bakhtin, interpretation is at the same time an attempt to come to grips with challenges posed by recent (...) literary theory to certain axiomatic critical assumptions about intentionality, textuality, and the human subject. But the matter is also complicated by the fact that we are dealing here with a critic who was active in the USSR. This brings into play additional ideological pressures, generated by the cold war, which bear on the scholarly assimilation of his work.The debate on Bakhtin is made yet more difficult by the nature of his writing: immensely varied stylistically and topically but also—and more importantly, I believe—writing which strives for solutions it cannot quite articulate. It moves between alternative and contradictory formulations in a single essay and thus produces a set of concepts whose explanatory importance is matched by an unnerving tendency to slide from one formulation to the next with disturbing ease. Such ambiguities are not the sign of an open and skeptical mind, but neither are they mere inconsistencies which can be safely ignored. These internal contradictions dictate that argument over concepts like “dialogism” and “heteroglossia” cannot be settled by a definitive decision as to what they ‘really’ mean; instead, we must discuss how to manage these complexities and contradictions, and to what ends. Certain definite strategies of management are emerging, and the articles presented in the forum, while by no means reducible to a single position, share key lines of interpretive strategy that I think ought to be brought out into the open and contested. With the notable exception of Susan Stewart’s article [“Shouts on the Street: Bakhtin’s Anti-Linguistics,” pp. 265-81], the contributions share an ideological drift, the ultimate effect of which is to evade the most radical aspects of Bakhtin’s work in favor of an interpretation that renders him useful in the argument against the recent advances of post-structuralism and recent literary theory in general. Ken Hirschkop is a postgraduate student at Saint Antony’s College, Oxford University, working on a book about Mikhail Bakhtin. (shrink)
All of Mikhail Bakhtin’s work stands under the sign of plurality, the mystery of the one and the many. Unlike the third eye of Tibetan Buddhism, which gives those who possess it a vision of the secret unity holding creation together, Bakhtin seems to have had a third ear that permitted him to hear differences where others perceived only sameness, especially in the apparent wholeness of the human voice. The obsessive question at the heart of Bakhtin’s thought is always (...) “Who is talking?” It was his sense of the world’s overwhelming multiplicity that impelled Bakhtin to rethink strategies by which heterogeneity had traditionally been disguised as a unity. In his several attempts to find a single name for the teeming forces which jostled each other within the combat zone of the word—whether the term was “polyphony,” “heteroglossia,” or “speech communion”—Bakhtin was at great pains never to sacrifice the tension between identity and difference that fueled his enterprise. He always sought the minimum degree of homogenization necessary to any conceptual scheme, feeling it was better to preserve the heterogeneity which less patient thinkers found intolerable—and to which they therefore hurried to assign a unitizing label.Bakhtin’s metaphysical contrariness has the effect of making at times appear to be indiscriminate, as when he refused to recognize borders between biography and autobiography or, more notoriously, between speaking and writing. But, as I hope to show, these apparently cardinal distinctions are for Bakhtin only local instances of unity that participate in and are controlled by a fare more encompassing set of oppositions and differences. All this places an extra burden on those who seek an overarching design in Bakhtin’s legacy: the apparently unitizing term “Bakhtin” proves to be as illusory—or more illusory—in its ability to subsume real distinctions as any other, if we submit it to a Bakhtinian analysis. Michael Holquist is professor and chairman of the department of Slavic languages and literatures a Indiana University. With his wife, Katerina Clark, he has just completed Mikhail Bakhtin, a study of Bakhtin’s life and works, forthcoming in the autumn of 1984. He is currently working in Moscow. (shrink)
The article focuses on the use of repetition in the work of Mikhail Yu. Lermontov. Lermontov utilizes repetition to create a multiplicity of meanings, to redraw plotlines, and to depict the life of things and characters in a state of freedom. An analysis of three Lermontov poems, The Confession, Boyarin Orsha, and Mtsyri shows that they constitute a single train of thought, which cannot be broken without violating Lermontov's attempt to show the limits of not only the human soul, (...) but also the power of judgment, a central idea of European philosophy at the time. Confession and judgment are the central themes of the three poems. (shrink)
The article discusses the philosophical underpinnings of Mikhail Yu. Lermontov's poetry as chiefly expressed in the antithesis of heaven and earth. It is argued that in Russian spiritual culture, Lermontov was the first to bring together the opposed poles of God and man in the sphere of the God-man.
Empirical claims are factual claims validated by the methods of science. Conceptual claims involve matters of sense. Empirical inquiry that proceeds from conceptual confusion can never yield fruitful results (i.e., knowledge). John Mikhail's speculations about UMG are an example of conceptual confusions that lead not to knowledge but to claims and assertions that lack sense.
Mikhail Bakhtin is one of the most influential theorists of philosophy as well as literary studies. His work on dialogue and discourse has changed the way in which we read texts – both literary and cultural – and his practice of philosophy in literary refraction and philological exploration has made him a pioneering figure in the twentieth-century convergence of the two disciplines. In this book, Graham Pechey offers a commentary on Bakhtin’s texts in all their complex and allusive ‘textuality’, (...) keeping a sense throughout of the historical setting in which they were written and of his own interpretation of and response to them. Examining Bakhtin’s relationship to Russian Formalism and Soviet Marxism, Pechey focuses on two major interests: the influence of Eastern Orthodox Christianity upon his thinking; and Bakhtin’s use of literary criticism and hermeneutics as ways of ‘doing philosophy by other means’. (shrink)