The longawaited translation of one of the most important philosophical works of our time. Merleau-Ponty's reflections upon perception, "the only absolute for philosophy," expand in a continuous way to the wider issues of human being: scientific knowledge, history, art, sexuality, the use of signs, learning processes, solitude and community, freedom, etc. Smith's translation is excellent, and his occasional notes are helpful. One only wishes there had been more of them; for Merleau-Ponty, more than most philosophers, relies crucially upon poetic nuances, (...) allusions, connotations, and echoes of other thinkers --aspects which cannot be translated textually, but which could be brought out in notes. Smith is obviously sensitive to these difficulties, and is to be congratulated for overcoming so many of them. Translation too, as a part of the philosophical enterprise, is "une tâche qui reste toujours à faire."--C. D. (shrink)
An exhaustive, exhausting, difficult, and inspired history of the cultural experience of madness, from the late Middle Ages to the early Nineteenth Century. Foucault immerses himself in the actual evidences of the phenomenon of madness: literary and dramatic works, records of governments, hospitals, prisons, and religious institutions, and the expressions of philosophers and sages. The history of madness is the history of the gestures that define it-confinement, punishment, neglect, therapy. Foucault's final statement of the antinomies and the debilitating impoverishment of (...) the modern attitude towards "insanity" and folly leaves one impatient for what is to come next from this unusual and impressive thinker.--C. D. (shrink)
First published in 1943, this book has long been classed "rare and in demand" by Paris booksellers. Now, fortunately, it is available to all; but the thinking in it is not all available to anyone, as even the ablest interpreters have admitted. Nabert's "reflective" method springs and breaks from the tradition of Maine de Biran, Lachelier, and Lagneau. Book I, "The Givens of Reflection," discusses error, failure, and solitude; Book II, "The Originating Affirmation," builds the notions of pure conscience and (...) the "promotion" of values; and Book III, "Existence," reflects upon duty, inclination, "the spiritual forms or virtues," and "the sources of veneration." Too profound and difficult to be revolutionary, Eléments stands as a potential trauma to most prevailing styles of moral philosophy. Ricœur's preface is brilliant and self-contained. Since a propaedeutic to Nabert seems called-for, interested readers are referred to Les Etudes philosophiques, No. 3, 1962, which is devoted entirely to him.--C. D. (shrink)
A long, meandering exposition of the theories of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty, including an original, suggestive theory of "aesthetics proper." Newsy and superficial mentions of American aestheticians are meant to show that the existentialist revolt is, after all, almost respectable.--C. D.
Seventeen studies, many of them newly translated, present a wide view of current Kierkegaardean scholarship, with a decided emphasis upon S.K's message for the Christian faithful. Two or three authors join battle with earlier interpreters; at least two quarrel with Kierkegaard himself; most of them labor at clearing the way--in scholarly fashion--for Kierkegaard's aggression upon the reader's own consciousness.--C. D.
A brilliantly organized, thorough bibliography including brief but more than sufficient critical notices of each title listed. Sebba's style is succinct and lively, and he does not hesitate to speak his own mind, which he does fairly and in full awareness of the reader's responsibility to judge for himself. Although designed as a reference book, the first 148 pages will provide exciting reading for anyone even moderately interested in Descartes. In this section 562 titles are listed and commented upon, many (...) entries include also citations of reviews and related articles. All the major European languages are represented.—C. D. (shrink)
Explaining and classifying attitudes and art forms related to comic laughter, Swabey defends the kind of comic laughter which perceives the laughable as less than the perfect and true. Bad or false pretenders to "comedy" or humor, e.g., apparently all modern art reputed to be comic and playful, are rather bitterly scolded. The thesis might have been more credibly argued if more positive examples had been used.--C. D.
This "inspirational" book of thoughts steers clear of inspirational mush. It reads pleasantly, and adequately serves the author's aim: "to bring the thoughts of the great closer to the reader." Carelessly edited, over-priced.--C. D.
Ehrmann contends that Descartes' 1647 preface to the Meditations, "Le Libraire au Lecteur," was suppressed by design in late 17th century editions, and subsequently by oversight. This is the preface which speaks of the "key to the book, without which no one could understand it." Ehrmann's pamphlet provides a sketchy history of the publication of Descartes' works and argues for the republication, with corrections, of the Adam and Tannery complete edition.--C. D.
An extraordinary book. Not only does it equal, if not surpass, all previous philosophical dictionaries in the amount and breadth of the material covered, it is full of the life of contemporary issues. Abbagnano is a master of economic exposition, and a careful organizer and editor. Four unique features deserve notice: The historical background of terms is given fully, with detailed bibliography; non-technical terms are included, e.g., names of schools, with historical reports; American thought is represented to a degree far (...) beyond that of any other European dictionary; Abbagnano has taken a very comprehensive view of philosophy, which takes in the social sciences as well as the entire spectrum of the usual academic classifications. And finally, the book is a pleasure to read, being gracefully written and free of the encumbrances and short-cuts common to most dictionaries.--C. D. (shrink)
In an article in this volume, Fr. J. Lotz proposes that demythologization engages us in re-mythologization; and it is the latter aspect of the Bultmannian program which occupies this book's contributors. Summarily stated, the question is that of the possibilities, means, and intentions of religious representation for worship, edification, historical and existential understanding, and communication. Because the collection displays a wide variety of backgrounds, methods, and beliefs, the transcribed discussions following most of the articles are especially valuable.--.
A statement or summary of a position that seems attractive, but which remains unconvincing as presented here. "Moral" philosophy issues from Kant, and is concerned with arriving discursively at conclusions or imperatives. The "ethical" however, underlies the moral as Aristotelian virtue underlies practical reasoning; this ethical dimension has been ignored by recent moral philosophy. Galimberti sympathetically but painstakingly criticizes Hare's The Language of Morals. Ultimately, all views which lead to "voluntarism" come under attack on a number of counts. The synthesis (...) consists in distinguishing the moral from the ethical in order to effect their collaboration; for moral reasoning, an "ethical language" is necessary, and the content of moral reasoning requires the form or basis provided by the ethical. Some kind of intuition or sensitivity is involved here, but unfortunately the case for it rests mostly upon the insufficiencies uncovered in other views.--C. D. (shrink)
As the author shows, intellectual history is very different from the history of philosophy; but one wonders if the two kinds of history matter to each other. The author's complete lack of philosophical concerns may, of course, be a virtue, but it is also restrictive and self-defeating. Nevertheless, the book may well stand as the authoritative treatment of the history of Comte's positivism—an idea which, Simon declares at the outset, had little to recommend it but which did manage to have (...) a history. The book is written with great attention to detail and contains a long, well-assembled and very valuable bibliography. The chapters on Mill and other English thinkers are particularly interesting, and will probably settle some old disputes about the impact of positivism in nineteenth-century England.—C. D. (shrink)
A faithful but undoctrinaire Thomist, Piemontese claims to uncover the basic "existential" structures holding in all properly philosophical activity. Attention to the three basic structures of interiority, critical restlessness, and contemplation allows him to put off the "objective" question of the "essence" of philosophy. The author exposes strongly the great need for genuine mutual questioning among the varieties of systematic thought.--C. D.
Beginning with a penetrating discussion of philosophy as metaphysics, and Heidegger's notion of the suppression of metaphysics, Lugarini turns back to Hegel and "philosophy as absolute knowledge." The difficulties posed by these concepts of philosophy are to be resolved by Husserl's own attempts to find the way towards "philosophy as rigorous science"-and this way is that of phenomenology of the Lebenswelt. A clear and readable book, even if the interpretation of Husserl overstresses the latter's remarks on Lebenswelt.—C. D.
Students of Marcel will find this volume a helpful guide to the genesis of his mature thought; by themselves the "fragments" are of scant value, as the author himself states in a postscript written in 1961. During this five-year period, Marcel struggled mostly with Hegel and the post-Kantians, and though in complete ignorance of Kierkegaard, he paralleled the Dane's thought strikingly.--C. D.
An inclusive and non-technical introduction to "the universal teacher of Christendom," in which biography, history, and philosophical argument are intertwined. The author emphasizes parallels between Thomas' time and ours, and points to the special relevance of his spirit to the challenges of our age. A major theme of the book is that Thomistic "terminology" is not coincident with Thomas' "living language," and that the latter is decidedly more worthy of attention.--C. D.
It is good to have these essays in English: a non-systematic series of reflections on the themes of history and truth, ranging in topic from theological issues to philosophy of history to political and moral questions. The two last essays, "True and False Anguish" and "Negativity and Primary Affirmation," are salient criticisms of negative existentialism, continuing more or less in the path opened by Jean Nabert. The translation is laced with fascinating neologisms metamorphosed from the French.—C. D.
A bewildering, frequently vertiginous and—as the author claims—"scandalous" and "frightening" book, not without exciting spots. The source of evil is incoherence, spawned by démesure and ignorance, and its instruments are always masked as goodness. The author's many-sided theses are not so much argued as shouted; and despite the frequent use of dialogues, the reader hardly feels invited to answer. Such is the power, such is the poverty, of philosophizing with a hammer.—C. D.
Bound together here are the four principal addresses of the Venice Symposium on Aesthetics of 1958, and a large number of commentaries and discussions based upon them. What is most striking in the collection is the sheer variety of viewpoints. Richard McKeon's essay, concluding the volume, gives an overview of the discussions, and sorts out the major underlying themes and problems, fitting them into the spectrum of contemporary philosophizing.--C. D.
True to the publisher's purpose, this book is an "initiation"; it is at once a synthesis of the main phenomenological studies of "the body" and a thesis-book which includes criticisms of some current views, notably Sartre's. The body must be understood in terms of présence, in other words, in terms of dynamic relationships; the knowledge of structures and attributes is subsumed under the inquiry into modalities of human existence. "Incarnation" is not something that can be finally known; the inquiry into (...) its modalities finds that there is always and necessarily something left over.—C. D. (shrink)
Since Nabert's work has to be considered as a whole, and since his books are incredibly dense and rich, it is not too much to say that Naulin's study is indispensable for a serious reading of Nabert's thought. Naulin presents just the right amount of background and brings in a proper measure of comparisons with contemporaries. There are four sections: Objet et méthode de la philosophie pratique, Conscience et liberté, Le problème moral, and La vie morale et ses limites. The (...) whole study is brilliantly clear, systematic and thorough.—C. D. (shrink)
Adventure, boredom and seriousness are three perspectives on time which require each other for their definitions. Jankélévitch makes rich use of the literature of many languages and ages. These reflections and analyses have the allure of virtuosity-they dance, they surprise, they threaten to break loose from the bonds of sobriety and caution; all of which may or may not be a virtue in philosophical thinking, but it undeniably makes for lively reading.--C. D.
The first and longer of the two books in this volume interprets some doctrines of "the levels of Being," ontological knowledge and evil: those of Plato, Plotinus, Jewish mysticism, Spinoza, Schopenhauer, D. H. Lawrence and Bergson. Mme. Amado's purpose is to present the basic intuition and vision of each position, rather than an articulation of the theses. She shows that an identical intuition underlies the greatly differing theories. With some justifiable oversimplification, we might call this an historical epistemology. In Book (...) Two, Mme. Amado shows that knowledge grows from the surmounted experience of evil, and that evil is an ontological category. Being itself is historical. Knowledge, being, evil and history are brought together in an explication of "the desire to know." Evil is discussed principally in terms of exile and alienation--to seek knowledge is to overcome diremption; it is to seek the One. In this light, the history of Israel is examined at some length. An astute student of both Marx and Freud, the author manages to be faithful to them even in speculative philosophy. The book is forbidding in length and locution, but it justifies Mme. Amado's reputation as one of the more important philosophers in Europe today.--C. D. (shrink)
Inspired mostly by Nietzsche, Flam traces common themes and common failures through major European philosophers and novelists. The final chapter breaks away from the oversimplifying style of the preceding ones, and argues provocatively for a philosophy whose militancy should burst the old dreams of systematization. Though frequently lacking bibliographical details, the footnotes provide an extraordinary catalogue of existentialist and related literature.--C. D.
A critical study of the always unsolved problem of the unity of science, consisting of a lucid and succinct historical exposition of attempts to provide solutions, and a systematic presentation of the accomplishments of logical empiricism, in all its variety. In arguing for the basic approach of logical empiricism, Ruytinx takes special care to chastise those of its proponents who tend to lose themselves in polemics and exclusivity. The style is quite clear and graceful in the best tradition of French (...) philosophy—a tradition many of us, no doubt, had considered closed forever.—C. D. (shrink)
Teilhard de Chardin's religious thought has not received the attention that it deserves, being overshadowed by his more adventurous ideas. With this book, de Lubac wants to redress the balance. He traces the development of Teilhard's thought, the devotional motif in his inquiries, and the traditional character of his approaches to religious questions. The author takes great pains to answer Teilhard's critics and to straighten out the many malentendus which dogged him and apparently still persist.—C. D.