In Animal Rites, Cary Wolfe examines contemporary notions of humanism and ethics by reconstructing a little known but crucial underground tradition of theorizing the animal from Wittgenstein, Cavell, and Lyotard to Lévinas, Derrida, ...
In What Is Posthumanism? he carefully distinguishes posthumanism from transhumanism (the biotechnological enhancement of human beings) and narrow definitions of the posthuman as the hoped-for transcendence of materiality.
Text recycling, often called “self-plagiarism”, is the practice of reusing textual material from one’s prior documents in a new work. The practice presents a complex set of ethical and practical challenges to the scientific community, many of which have not been addressed in prior discourse on the subject. This essay identifies and discusses these factors in a systematic fashion, concluding with a new definition of text recycling that takes these factors into account. Topics include terminology, what is not text recycling, (...) factors affecting judgements about the appropriateness of text recycling, and visual materials. (shrink)
Modern thought typically opposes the authority of tradition in the name of universal reason. Postmodernism begins with the insight that the sociohistorical context of tradition and its authority is inevitable, even in modernity. Modernity can no longer take itself for granted when it recognizes itself as a tradition that is opposed to traditions. The left-wing postmodernist response to this insight is to conclude that because tradition is inevitable, irrationality is inevitable. The right-wing postmodernist response is to see traditions as the (...) home of diverse forms of rationality. This requires an understanding of the Socratic, self-critical aspect of intellectual traditions, which include both modern sciences and the great world religions. (shrink)
Abstract. The modern concept of the inner self containing a private inner world has ancient philosophical and religious roots. These begin with Plato's intelligible world of ideas. In Plotinus, the intelligible world becomes the inner world of the divine Mind and its ideas, which the soul sees by turning “into the inside.” Augustine made the inner world into something merely human, not a world of divine ideas, so that the soul seeking for God must turn in, then up: entering into (...) itself and then looking above itself at the intelligible light of God. In modernity, “ideas” become the immediate object of every act of mental perception, the essential inner objects of the mind's eye. Locke makes the inner space inescapably private, excluding the divine inner light. Postmodern attempts to reconceive the relation of mind and world, rejecting the modern conception of a private inner self, will need to deal with lingering Platonist intuitions about the immediacy of the mind's vision. (shrink)
Bringing these two emergent areas of thought into direct conversation in Before the Law, Cary Wolfe fosters a new discussion about the status of nonhuman animals and the shared plight of humans and animals under biopolitics.
Many edusemiotic writers have begun to closely align edusemitoics to biosemiotics; the basic logic being that, if the life process can be defined through the criterion of semiotic engagement, so can the learning process :373–387, 2006). Thus, the ecological concept of umwelt has come to be a central area of investigation for edusemiotics; allowing theorists to address learning and living concurrently, from the perspective of meaning and significance. To address the conceptual and experiential foundations of the edusemiotic perspective, this paper (...) will focus its attention on the basic semiosic processes that sustain the learner’s primary modelling system or umwelt—the world of meaning and sensory engagement that the organism is immersed in. This focus enables us to identify and explore four basic principles that an ecologically concerned edusemiotic perspective can be said to rest upon; the Iconicity Hypothesis, the Principle of Suprasubjective Relation, the Natural Learning Flow Principle, and the Continuity Principle. The identification and elaboration of these basic philosophical orientations will help establish the importance and relevance of the edusemiotic perspective for educational philosophy and theory in general. This task requires the methodological framework of Sebeok and Danesi’s Modelling Systems Theory, which; provides a biosemiotically grounded approach to understanding the diversity of modelling phenomena across all species, and; contextualizes the specific focus of this study within the broader forms of learning and knowing encompassed by a semiotic theory of learning. Hopefully such attention to the foundational doctrina of this new perspective will encourage more educational research to take what Semetsky has called the edusemiotic turn. (shrink)
This book is, along with Outward Signs, a sequel to Phillip Cary's Augustine and the Invention of the Inner Self. In this work, Cary traces the development of Augustine's epochal doctrine of grace, arguing that it does not represent a rejection of Platonism in favor of a more purely Christian point of view DL a turning from Plato to Paul, as it is often portrayed. Instead, Augustine reads Paul and other Biblical texts in light of his Christian Platonist (...) inwardness, producing a new concept of grace as an essentially inward gift. For Augustine, grace is needed first of all to heal the mind so it may see God, but then also to help the will turn away from lower goods to love God as its eternal Good. Eventually, over the course of Augustine's career, the scope of the soul's need for grace expands outward to include not only the inner vision of the intellect and the power of love but even the initial gift of faith. At every stage, Augustine insists that divine grace does not compromise or coerce the human will but frees, heals, and helps it, precisely because grace is not an external force but an inner gift of delight leading to true happiness. As his polemic against the Pelagians develops, however, he does attribute more to grace and less to the power of free will. In the end, it is God's choice which makes the ultimate difference between the saved and the damned, and we cannot know why he chooses to save one person and not another. From this Augustinian doctrine of divine choice or election stem the characteristic pastoral problems of predestination, especially in Protestantism. A more external, indeed Jewish, doctrine of election would be more Biblical, Cary suggests, and would result in a less anxious experience of grace. Along with its companion work, Outward Signs, this careful and insightful book breaks new ground in the study of Augustine's theology of grace and sacraments. (shrink)
Phillip Cary argues that Augustine invented or created the concept of self as an inner space--as space into which one can enter and in which one can find God. This concept of inwardness, says Cary, has worked its way deeply into the intellectual heritage of the West and many Western individuals have experienced themselves as inner selves. After surveying the idea of inwardness in Augustine's predecessors, Cary offers a re-examination of Augustine's own writings, making the controversial point (...) that in his early writings Augustine appears to hold that the human soul is quite literally divine. Cary goes on to contend that the crucial Book 7 of the Confessions is not a historical report of Augustine's "conversion" experience, but rather an explanation of his intellectual development over time. (shrink)
We invited five Cavell scholars to write on this topic. What follows is a vibrant exchange among Paola Marrati, Andrew Norris, Jörg Volbers, Cary Wolfe and Thomas Dumm addressing the question whether, in the contemporary political context, Cavell’s skepticism and his Emersonian perfectionism amount to a politics at all.
This article challenges two dominant views of religious and cultural toleration, namely, that it is modern and that it is Western. It claims instead that both medieval Latin thought and many non-Western traditions embraced a position that coherently defends tolerance beliefs and practices. Specifically, the article identifies four approaches that clearly favour toleration: scepticism, functionalism, nationalism and mysticism.
This paper focuses on the first iteration of Thrasymachus' claim as reported in Book I of Plato's Republic that 'justice is the interest of the stronger', namely, a 'political' interpretation, according to which 'justice is the interest of the stronger party in each polis as established in the law'. The author contends that this argument is logically and rhetorically distinct from Thrasymachus' subsequent restatements of his position in Republic I. The 'political' version of the Thrasymachean position enjoyed currency after the (...) composition of the Republic -- and in a way that was not entirely negative. The current paper examines two cases of this reception: the first, in Plato's own late work, the Laws, where he reengages with the Thrasymachean doctrine; the second, in the De republica Anglorum of Sir Thomas Smith, an early modern theorist who self-consciously defended Thrasymachus' theory of justice. The paper's immediate purpose is to suggest that Thrasymachus' conception of 'political' justice, in particular, has far more coherence and power than the supposed 'refutation' of it in the Republic might leads us to believe. (shrink)
In recent years, scholars have begun to give greater attention to the 14th-century political writer, Ptolemy of Lucca, mostly on account of his avid defense of republican government in the treatise, De regimine principum. Educated in the scholastic curriculum at the University of Paris, Ptolemy has typically been identified by scholars as one of the most thoroughly Aristotelian medieval thinkers. Ptolemy, like many of his contemporaries, peppered his writing with citations from Aristotle's major works. This article, however, examines the sources (...) employed in Ptolemy's republican arguments, finding that the legacy of Republican Rome played a far more critical role in shaping his republicanism than could be attributed to Aristotle's moral or political works. Though conversing fluently in an Aristotelian language system, Ptolemy's arguments in De regimine principum are derived, at their core, from his reading of Roman Republican sources, not from Aristotelian influence. This discovery reveals Ptolemy to be an even more artful and original writer than was previously assumed, and should add to, rather than detract from, his place as a key figure in the development of western political thought. (shrink)
This paper focuses on the first iteration of Thrasymachus’ claim as reported in Book I of Plato’s Republic that ‘justice is the interest of the stronger’, namely, a ‘political’ interpretation, according to which ‘justice is the interest of the stronger party in each polis as established in the law’. The author contends that this argument is logically and rhetorically distinct from Thrasymachus’ subsequent restatements of his position in Republic I. The ‘political’ version of the Thrasymachean position enjoyed currency after the (...) composition of the Republic — and in a way that was not entirely negative. The current paper examines two cases of this reception: the first, in Plato’s own late work, the Laws, where he reengages with the Thrasymachean doctrine; the second, in the De republica Anglorum of Sir Thomas Smith, an early modern theorist who self-consciously defended Thrasymachus’ theory of justice. The paper’s immediate purpose is to suggest that Thrasymachus’ conception of ‘political’ justice, in particular, has far more coherence and power than the supposed ‘refutation’ of it in the Republic might leads us to believe. (shrink)
It is a familiar story that on April 5, 56 B.C., Cicero made a motion in the Senate concerning Caesar's Campanian land law, and that this action of his was one of the reasons for the conference of Luca. Query: What were the terms of the motion?
The principle of liberal neutrality requires governments to avoid acting to promote particular conceptions of the good life. Yet by determining who uses natural resources and how, environmental policy makers can affect the availability of resources needed by individuals to carry on meaningful lives and in doing so can effectively privilege some versions of the good life at the expense of others. A commitment to liberal neutrality by implication promotes environmental policy that accommodates competing activities in order to provide a (...) wide range of resources that can support diversity in individual lives. It also encourages caution with regard to legislation based on deep ecology, the intrinsic value of species, and the fear of impending environmental catastrophe. (shrink)
Church father -- Christian Platonist -- Confessions, the search for wisdom -- Confession, love and tears -- Confessions, the road home -- Augustine's career as a Christian writer -- Faith, love, grace -- Evil, free will, original sin & predestination -- Signs and sacrament -- The inner self -- The trinity and the soul -- The city of God.
Our concept of knowing of other persons ought to include respect for them. Since respect implies considering whether what they say is true, I propose that believing others’ words is a necessary condition of knowing them. I explore the contribution such belief makes to knowledge of other persons, as well as some surprising but welcome implications, including theological consequences.
As one might expect of an author of the complexity of John of Salisbury, there is little scholarly agreement regarding the proper interpretation of the major features of his social and political thought. The twelfth-century church-man has always been a controversial figure. Since the late Middle Ages, the ideas contained in his main contribution to political theory, the Policraticus , have been widely analyzed and interpreted. In more recent years, controversy has raged about the nature and significance of many of (...) his main doctrines , his source materials, and his attitudes towards contemporary events and people. (shrink)
Metaphysics is the thoroughly empirical science. Every item of experience must be evidence for or against any hypothesis of speculative cosmology, and every experienced object must be an exemplar and test case for the categories of analytic ontology. Technically, therefore, one example ought for our present theme to be as good as another. The more dignified examples, however, are darkened with a patina of tradition and partisanship, while some frivolous ones are peculiarly perspicuous. Let us therefore imagine three lollipops, made (...) by a candy man who buys sticks from a big supplier and molds candy knobs on them. Lollipop No. 1 has a red round peppermint head, No. 2 a brown round chocolate head, No. 3 a red square peppermint head. The circumstance here which mainly provokes theories of subsistence and inherence is similarity with difference: each lollipop is partially similar to each other and partially different from it. If we can give a good account of this circumstance in this affair we shall have the instrument to expose the anatomy of everything, from an electron or an apple to archangels and the World All. (shrink)
_Philosophy and Animal Life_ offers a new way of thinking about animal rights, our obligation to animals, and the nature of philosophy itself. Cora Diamond begins with "The Difficulty of Reality and the Difficulty of Philosophy," in which she accuses analytical philosophy of evading, or deflecting, the responsibility of human beings toward nonhuman animals. Diamond then explores the animal question as it is bound up with the more general problem of philosophical skepticism. Focusing specifically on J. M. Coetzee's _The Lives (...) of Animals_, she considers the failure of language to capture the vulnerability of humans and animals. Stanley Cavell responds to Diamond's argument with his own close reading of Coetzee's work, connecting the human-animal relation to further themes of morality and philosophy. John McDowell follows with a critique of both Diamond and Cavell, and Ian Hacking explains why Cora Diamond's essay is so deeply perturbing and, paradoxically for a philosopher, he favors poetry over philosophy as a way of overcoming some of her difficulties. Cary Wolfe's introduction situates these arguments within the broader context of contemporary continental philosophy and theory, particularly Jacques Derrida's work on deconstruction and the question of the animal. _Philosophy and Animal Life_ is a crucial collection for those interested in animal rights, ethics, and the development of philosophical inquiry. It also offers a unique exploration of the role of ethics in Coetzee's fiction. (shrink)