S’il est vrai que la réception d’une œuvre en dit autant sur l’œuvre elle-même que sur l’époque qui la reçoit, la réception de l’œuvre de Michel Henry mérite une attention particulière : parce qu’elle se fait, de toute évidence, difficilement, et qu’elle déconcerte, parce qu’elle repose peut-être sur un malentendu, voire une série de malentendus ;...
Research that involves the creation of animals with human-derived parts opens the door to potentially valuable scientific and therapeutic advances, yet invokes unsettling moral questions. Critics and champions alike stand to gain from clear identification and careful consideration of the strongest ethical objections to this research. A prevailing objection argues that crossing the human/nonhuman species boundary introduces inexorable moral confusion (IMC) that warrants a restriction to this research on precautionary grounds. Though this objection may capture the intuitions of many who (...) find this research unsettling, it relies on mistaken views of both biology and moral standing, ultimately distorting the morally relevant facts. We critically examine IMC, identify mistaken essentialist assumptions, and reframe ethical concerns. The upshot is a stronger line of objection that encourages a more inclusive and productive ethical discourse. (shrink)
The argument by analogy for other minds is customarily rejected as a weak inference because the argument is based on a single instance. The current paper argues that this objection fundamentally misunderstands the inferential structure of analogies and so misrepresents the role analogy plays in the justifycation of belief in other minds. Arguments by be uniquely suited to draw inferences from single instances. This defense does not remove all difficulties faced by the argument by analogy for other minds.
What is the ethical significance of debriefing in deceptive research? The standard view of debriefing is that it serves to disclose the deception to the participant and is a means of evaluating and mitigating potential harms that may have resulted from involvement in the research. However, as the article by Miller, Gluck, and Wendler in this issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal points out, there has been little systematic attention to the ethics of debriefing, particularly with regard to (...) the role of debriefing in addressing the prima facie moral wrong of deception itself. They argue that in addition to mitigating the harms of deception, debriefing should include an apology to participants for being deceived. In the current paper, I argue that an apology is not morally obligatory in most research contexts. Debriefing should be considered an opportunity to further define the researcher-participant relationship without the need to be remorseful about the research practice. (shrink)
Although HenryDavid Thoreau stands outside the Christian canon, his outlook on the relations among spirituality, ecology, and economy highlights how Christian theologians can develop a theological work ethic in our era of economic and ecological precarity. He can furthermore help theologians counter the pro-work bias in much Christian thought. In Walden, Thoreau shows that the best work is an ascetic practice that reveals and reaps the abundance of nature and connects the person to the immanent divine and (...) thereby glimpsing eternity. Thoreau thus offers the outline of a transformed theology of work even as he challenges Protestant vocationalism in the early industrial era. He is therefore a fitting if challenging guide for formulating a theology of the self as agent and product of work, at a moment when the postindustrial ideal of work that is both meaningful and remunerative seems ever more unattainable while the negative impact of our work on nonhuman nature is ever more apparent. (shrink)
In his graceful philosophical account, Alfred I. Tauber shows why Thoreau still seems so relevant today—more relevant in many respects than he seemed to his contemporaries. Although Thoreau has been skillfully and thoroughly examined as a writer, naturalist, mystic, historian, social thinker, Transcendentalist, and lifelong student, we may find in Tauber's portrait of Thoreau the moralist a characterization that binds all these aspects of his career together. Thoreau was caught at a critical turn in the history of science, between the (...) ebb of Romanticism and the rising tide of positivism. He responded to the challenges posed by the new ideal of objectivity not by rejecting the scientific worldview, but by humanizing it for himself. Tauber portrays Thoreau as a man whose moral vision guided his life's work. Each of Thoreau's projects reflected a self-proclaimed "metaphysical ethics," an articulated program of self-discovery and self-knowing. By writing, by combining precision with poetry in his naturalist pursuits and simplicity with mystical fervor in his daily activity, Thoreau sought to live a life of virtue—one he would characterize as marked by deliberate choice. This unique vision of human agency and responsibility will still seem fresh and contemporary to readers at the start of the twenty-first century. (shrink)
Henry More (1614–1687), the most influential of the so-called Cambridge Platonists, and arguably the leading philosophically-inclined theologian in late seventeenth-century England, has come in for renewed attention lately. He was the subject of a detailed intellectual biography in 2003 by Robert Crocker, and in 2012 Jasper Reid published a philosophically penetrating and enlightening study of More’s metaphysics (Crocker 2003; Reid 2012). David Leech’s study of More’s idiosyncratic concept of immaterial spirit—and the role that it plays in his philosophy (...) and theology—is as detailed and penetrating as Reid’s study of his metaphysics, but perhaps more far-reaching in its ambitions. As the sub-title of this new book suggests, More’s philosophical theology is presented here as leading to the unintended consequence of promoting the incipient atheism of the early modern period.Leech’s study is clearly and helpfully structured in three parts and ten chapters. The first part, “Atheism and Spir .. (shrink)
I read HenryDavid Thoreau as an environmental virtue theorist. In this paper, I use Thoreau’s work as a tool to explore the relation between the virtue of greatness of soul and environmental virtues. Reflecting on connections between Thoreau’s texts and historical discussions of greatness of soul, or magnanimity, I offer a novel conception of magnanimity. I argue that (1) to become magnanimous, most individuals need to acquire the environmental virtue of simplicity; and (2) magnanimous individuals must possess (...) the environmental virtue of benevolence in order to achieve their goals. (shrink)
A major manuscript by nineteenth-century American writer-naturalist HenryDavid Thoreau was published for the first time in 1993. The Dispersion of Seeds is a study of ecological dynamics in forests in and around Concord, Massachusetts. Drafted by Thoreau just before his premature death in 1862, it emphasizes plant-animal mutualism in the dispersion of oak seed, as a fundamental factor in forest succession patterns. If Thoreau had lived to publish this study, it is likely that his pioneering role in (...) the history of ecology would be considerably enhanced. This paper explores dimensions of Thoreau's science that are revealed for the first time in this new publication. (shrink)
HenryDavid Thoreau The American author HenryDavid Thoreau is best known for his magnum opus Walden, or Life in the Woods ; second to this in popularity is his essay, “Resistance to Civil Government” , which was later republished posthumously as “Civil Disobedience” . His fame largely rests on his role as a … Continue reading Thoreau, HenryDavid →.
Henry Thoreau boasted that he was widely travelled in Concord, Massachusetts. He was born there on 12 July 1817, and he died there on 6 May 1862, of tuberculosis, at the age of forty-four years. In 1837 he graduated from Harvard College, and in 1838 he joined Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and others in the informal group that became known as the New England Transcendentalists. The author of four books, many essays and poems, and a voluminous journal, he (...) is best known for the book Walden and the essay ‘Civil Disobedience’, and for the circumstances attending these two milestones in American thought and literature. (shrink)
Sebbah’s noteworthy book is perhaps the first sustained inquiry into the relationship between three thinkers in the French phenomenological tradition, two of whom are well known in the Anglophone world (Levinas, Derrida) and one of whom (Henry) is gradually better understood by English-speaking audiences. That all three are arrayed together in this study makes it a pioneering enterprise and one that allows the English reader to apprise the worthiness of Henry’s association with his better-known compatriots.The strongest and most (...) extensive portions of the text focus on the three named figures in its subtitle, and in Part I Sebbah justifies his focus on these three in terms of a “family resemblance” (6–7) that they bear: Each in his own way practices phenomenology in the mode of excess, an excess that not only emerges in the style of each man’s writing but more fundamentally betrays a testing “of the limit, the limit through whose transgression alone excess can be what it is” (4). Rather. (shrink)
With the help of American friends, he revised the book and published it anew six years later. The present volume is the third version of the biography, completed in 1908 but never published in Salt's lifetime.
: Thoreau's journal contains a number of passages which explore the nature of perception, developing a response to skeptical doubt. The world outside the human mind is real, and there is nothing illusory about its perceived beauty and meaning. In this essay, I draw upon the work of Stanley Cavell (among others) in order to frame Thoreau's reflections within the context of the skeptical questions he seeks to address. Value is not a subjective projection, but it also cannot be perceived (...) without the appropriate kind of emotional orientation or attunement toward the world: that is, an attitude of trust or acceptance. Without this affective receptivity, or "perceptual faith," our knowledge of reality is limited. The beliefs we hold onto in the face of objective uncertainty establish the framework within which we make particular evaluations, and in this sense they are a necessary condition of practical reason. Every understanding has its mood. (shrink)