Charles Griswold has written a comprehensive philosophical study of Smith's moral and political thought. Griswold sets Smith's work in the context of the Enlightenment and relates it to current discussions in moral and political philosophy. Smith's appropriation as well as criticism of ancient philosophy, and his carefully balanced defence of a liberal and humane moral and political outlook, are also explored. This 1999 book is a major philosophical and historical reassessment of a key figure in the Enlightenment that will be (...) of particular interest to philosophers and political and legal theorists, as well as historians of ideas, rhetoric, and political economy. (shrink)
In this essay I offer a detailed reply to three critics (whose commentaries are included in this issue of Philosophia) of my Forgiveness: a Philosophical Exploration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). The topics explored include the nature and limits of forgiveness; its unconditional or conditional character; the problem of distinguishing between central and marginal cases; the analysis of political apology; and questions of philosophical methodology.
Despite the near universal desire for happiness, relatively little philosophy has been done to determine what? happiness? means. In this paper I examine happiness, and argue that it is best understood in terms of tranquillity. This is not merely?contentment.? Rather, happiness requires reflection?the kind of reflection characteristic of philosophy. Happiness is the product of correctly assessing its conditions, and like any assessment, one can be mistaken, and thus mistaken about whether one is happy. That is, one needs a correct understanding (...) of happiness in order to be happy. (shrink)
My reflections on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial were provoked some time ago in a quite natural way, by a visit to the memorial itself. I happened upon it almost by accident, a fact that is due at least in part to the design of the Memorial itself . I found myself reduced to awed silence, and I resolved to attend the dedication ceremony on November 13, 1982. It was an extraordinary event, without question the most moving public ceremony I have (...) ever attended. But my own experience of the Memorial on that and other occasions is far from unique. It is almost commonplace among the many visitors to the VVM—now the most visited of all the memorials in Washington—a fact so striking as to have compelled journalists, art historians, and architects to write countless articles about the monument. And although philosophers traditionally have had little to say about architecture in general or about that of memorials in particular, there is much in the VVM and its iconography worthy of philosophical reflection. Self-knowledge includes, I hazard to say, knowledge of ourselves as members of the larger social and political context, and so includes knowledge of that context.Architecture need not memorialize or symbolize anything; or it may symbolize, but not in a memorializing way, let alone in a way that is tied to a nation’s history. The structures on the Washington Mall belong to a particular species of recollective architecture, a species whose symbolic and normative content is prominent. After all, war memorials by their very nature recall struggles to the death over values. Still further, the architecture by which a people memorializes itself is a species of pedagogy. It therefore seeks to instruct posterity about the past and, in so doing, necessarily reaches a decision about what is worth recovering. It would thus be a mistake to try to view such memorials merely “aesthetically,” in abstraction from all judgments about the noble and the base. To reflect philosophically on specific monuments, as I propose to do here, necessarily requires something more than a simply technical discussion of the theory of architecture or of the history of a given species of architecture. We must also understand the monument’s symbolism, social context, and the effects its architecture works on those who participate in it. That is, we must understand the political iconography which shapes and is shaped y the public structure in question. To do less than this—if I may state a complex argument in hopelessly few words—is to fall short of the demands of true objectivity, of an understanding of the whole which the object is. To understand the meaning of the VVM requires that we understand, among other things, what the memorial means to those who visit it. This is why my observations about the dedication of the VVM and about the Memorial’s continuing power over people play an important role in this essay. Charles L. Griswold, associate professor of philosophy at Howard University, is the author of Self-Knowledge in Plat’s “Phaedrus” and has published widely in the areas of Greek philosophy, German Idealism, hermeneutics, and political philosophy. He is an editor of the Independent Journal of Philosophy and a recipient of numerous awards and fellowships. Currently he is working on a project which centers on Adam Smith’s notion of the “self” and Smith’s relationship to Stoicism and to the American Founding. (shrink)
In part one of this essay i defend the thesis that the "greatest genera" of the "sophist" are not the metaphysical ideas of the earlier dialogues, and that the "participation" of these genera in each other is to be understood from a linguistic or logical, rather than metaphysical, perspective. the genera are like concepts, not essences. in part two i argue that the stranger's doctrine of the genera means that they cannot be unified, self-predicative, separable, and stable; the doctrine deteriorates (...) for reasons internal to itself. i suggest throughout that the stranger's philosophical orientation is more "subjectivistic" than that of (plato's) socrates; unlike the ideas, the genera are subject to the soul's intellectual motion and productive capacity. finally, i suggest that there is no convincing reason for holding that the stranger's views are superior to those of socrates. (shrink)
Religion and Community: Adam Smith on the Virtues of Liberty CHARLES L. GRISWOLD, JR. The good temper and moderation of con- tending factions seems to be the most es- gential circumstance in the publick morals of a free people. Adam Smith' THE ARCHITECTS of what one might call "classical" or "Enlightenment" liberal- ism saw themselves as committed to refuting the claims to political sovereignty by organized religion. ~ The arguments against the legitimacy of a state- supported religion, and, in the (...) extreme case, of a religious monopoly, are so integral a part of the Enlightenment's effort to put politics on a stable and just foundation as to constitute one of the controlling themes of the period. Lib- eral politics requires toleration, or better, liberty of religious belief. And this in turn requires that religious institutions be privatized, as it were, and that just politics be secularized in that legitimate rule is to lie in the consent of the ruled rather than in the laws of God as interpreted by his ministers on earth. Differ- ' Wealth of Nations V.i.f.4o. My references to The Wealth of Nations are to the two-volume R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner edition . 2 The list of thinkers in the "classical liberal" tradition simply reads as the list of key Enlighten- ment figures: Bayle, Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza, Hume, Smith, Voltaire, and Kant, to name a few. Consider the role that religious freedom plays in Kant's. (shrink)