In this interview, Christopher Norris discusses a wide range of issues having to do with postmodernism, deconstruction and other controversial topics of debate within present-day philosophy and critical theory. More specifically he challenges the view of deconstruction as just another offshoot of the broader postmodernist trend in cultural studies and the social sciences. Norris puts the case for deconstruction as continuing the 'unfinished project of modernity' and—in particular—for Derrida's work as sustaining the values of enlightened critical reason in (...) various spheres of thought from epistemology to ethics, sociology and politics. Along the way he addresses a number of questions that have lately been raised with particular urgency for teachers and educationalists, among them the revival of creationist doctrine and the idea of scientific knowledge as a social, cultural, or discursive construct. In this context he addresses the 'science wars' or the debate between those who uphold t. (shrink)
[David Charles] Aristotle, it appears, sometimes identifies well-being (eudaimonia) with one activity (intellectual contemplation), sometimes with several, including ethical virtue. I argue that this appearance is misleading. In the Nicomachean Ethics, intellectual contemplation is the central case of human well-being, but is not identical with it. Ethically virtuous activity is included in human well-being because it is an analogue of intellectual contemplation. This structure allows Aristotle to hold that while ethically virtuous activity is valuable in its own right, the (...) best life available for humans is centred around, but not wholly constituted by, intellectual contemplation. /// [Dominic Scott] In Nicomachean Ethics X 7-8, Aristotle distinguishes two kinds of eudaimonia, primary and secondary. The first corresponds to contemplation, the second to activity in accordance with moral virtue and practical reason. My task in this paper is to elucidate this distinction. Like Charles, I interpret it as one between paradigm and derivative cases; unlike him, I explain it in terms of similarity, not analogy. Furthermore, once the underlying nature of the distinction is understood, we can reconcile the claim that paradigm eudaimonia consists just in contemplation with a passage in the first book requiring eudaimonia to involve all intrinsic goods. (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.
Charles Taylor’s idea of “deep diversity” has played a major role in the debates around multiculturalism in Canada and around the world. Originally, the idea was meant to account for how the different national communities within Canada – those of the English-speaking Canadians, the French-speaking Quebeckers, and the Aboriginals – conceive of their belonging to the country in different ways. But Taylor conceives of these differences strictly in terms of irreducibility; that is, he fails to see that they also (...) exist in such a way that the country cannot be said to form a unified whole. After giving an account of the philosophical as well as religious reasons behind his position, the chapter goes on to describe some of its political implications. (shrink)
Charles Sanders Peirce , the most important and influential of the classical American philosophers, is credited as the inventor of the philosophical school of pragmatism. The scope and significance of his work have had a lasting effect not only in several fields of philosophy but also in mathematics, the history and philosophy of science, and the theory of signs, as well as in literary and cultural studies. Largely obscure until after his death, Peirce's life has long been a subject (...) of interest and dispute. Unfortunately, previous biographies often confuse as much as they clarify crucial matters in Peirce's story. Ketner's new biographical project is remarkable not only for its entertaining aspects but also for its illuminating insights into Peirce's life, his thought, and the intellectual milieu in which he worked. (shrink)
The article focuses on the Philosophy of Freedom of the Swiss philosopher Charles Secrétan (1815-1895) and on the attempt to reconcile freedom as the fundamental experience for the human being with the alleged necessitarianism that would result from the positive sciences. The notion of “fall” as it is found in the Christian tradition allows Secrétan to rediscover an original dimension from which we can conceive the laws of nature as contingent. It is space and time that impose their constraints (...) and lead to the mismatch between the different faculties (sensitivity, imagination, intelligence, will) that is constitutive for the human experience and that prevents us from “being at any moment the whole of ourselves”. A peculiarity of Secrétan’s conception of space is that he does not see it as a condition for the numerical plurality of human beings. (shrink)
In this systematic introduction to the philosophy of Charles S. Peirce, the author focuses on four of Peirce's fundamental conceptions: pragmatism and Peirce's development of it into what he called 'pragmaticism'; his theory of signs; his phenomenology; and his theory that continuity is of prime importance for philosophy. He argues that at the centre of Peirce's philosophical project is a unique form of metaphysical realism, whereby continuity and evolutionary change are both necessary for our understanding of experience. In his (...) final chapter Professor Hausman applies this version of realism to contemporary controversies between anti-realists and anti-idealists. Peirce's views are compared to those of such contemporary figures as Davidson, Putnam, and Rorty. The book will be of particular interest to philosophers concerned with American philosophy and current debates on realism as well as linguists working in semiotics. (shrink)
Contemporary reasoning about health is infused with the work products of experts, and expert reasoning about health itself is an active site for invention and design. Building on Toulmin’s largely undeveloped ideas on field-dependence, we argue that expert fields can develop new inference rules that, together with the backing they require, become accepted ways of drawing and defending conclusions. The new inference rules themselves function as warrants, and we introduce the term “warranting device” to refer to an assembly of the (...) rule plus whatever material, procedural, and institutional resources are required to assure its dependability. We present a case study on the Cochrane Review, a new method for synthesizing evidence across large numbers of scientific studies. After reviewing the evolution and current structure of the device, we discuss the distinctive kinds of critical questions that may be raised around Cochrane Reviews, both within the expert field and beyond. Although Toulmin’s theory of field-dependence is often criticized for its relativism, we find that, as a matter of practical fact, field-specific warrants do not enjoy immunity from external critique. On the contrary, they can be opened to evaluation and critique from any interested perspective. (shrink)
In this chapter I discuss Charles Taylor's and Paul Ricoeur's theories of narrative identity and narratives as a central form of self-interpretation. Both Taylor and Ricoeur think that self-identity is a matter of culturally and socially mediated self-definitions, which are practically relevant for one's orientation in life. First, I will go through various characterisations that Ricoeur gives of his theory, and try to show to what extent they also apply to Taylor's theory. Then, I will analyse more closely (...) class='Hi'>Charles Taylor's, and in section three, Paul Ricoeur's views on narrative identity. (shrink)
Charles Taylor is one of the most influential and prolific philosophers in the English-speaking world today. The breadth of his writings is unique, ranging from reflections on artificial intelligence to analyses of contemporary multicultural societies. This thought-provoking introduction to Taylor's work outlines his ideas in a coherent and accessible way without reducing their richness and depth. His contribution to many of the enduring debates within Western philosophy is examined and the arguments of his critics assessed. Taylor's reflections on the (...) topics of moral theory, selfhood, political theory and epistemology form the core chapters within the book. Ruth Abbey engages with the secondary literature on Taylor's work and suggests that some criticisms by contemporaries have been based on misinterpretations and suggests ways in which a better understanding of Taylor's work leads to different criticisms of it. The book serves as an ideal companion to Taylor's ideas for students of philosophy and political theory, and will be welcomed by the non-specialist looking for an authoritative guide to Taylor's large and challenging body of work. (shrink)
Charles Sanders Peirce was born in September 1839 and died five months before the guns of August 1914. He is perhaps the most important mind the United States has ever produced. He made significant contributions throughout his life as a mathematician, astronomer, chemist, geodesist, surveyor, cartographer, metrologist, engineer, and inventor. He was a psychologist, a philologist, a lexicographer, a historian of science, a lifelong student of medicine, and, above all, a philosopher, whose special fields were logic and semiotics. He (...) is widely credited with being the founder of pragmatism. In terms of his importance as a philosopher and a scientist, he has been compared to Plato and Aristotle. He himself intended "to make a philosophy like that of Aristotle." Peirce was also a tormented and in many ways tragic figure. He suffered throughout his life from various ailments, including a painful facial neuralgia, and had wide swings of mood which frequently left him depressed to the state of inertia, and other times found him explosively violent. Despite his consistent belief that ideas could find meaning only if they "worked" in the world, he himself found it almost impossible to make satisfactory economic and social arrangements for himself. This brilliant scientist, this great philosopher, this astounding polymath was never able, throughout his long life, to find an academic post that would allow him to pursue his major interest, the study of logic, and thus also fulfill his destiny as America's greatest philosopher. Much of his work remained unpublished in his own time, and is only now finding publication in a coherent, chronologically organized edition. Even more astounding is that,despite many monographic studies, there has been no biography until now, almost eighty years after his death. Brent has studied the Peirce papers in detail and enriches his account with numerous quotations from letters by Peirce and by his friends. This is a fascinating account of a p. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that moral realism does not, pace Charles Taylor, need “moral sources” or “constitutive goods”, and adding these concepts distorts the basic insights of what can be called “cultural” moral realism.1 Yet the ideas of “moral topography” or “moral space” as well as the idea of “ontological background pictures” are valid, if separated from those notions. What does Taylor mean by these notions?
In the introduction to his Philosophical Papers 1&2 Charles Taylor assures us that his work, while encompassing a range of issues, follows a single, tightly knit agenda. He claims that the central questions concern "philosophical anthropology". Taylor's work on these questions has been presented piecemeal, in the form of articles and papers, and the student has had to imagine what a systematic monograph by Taylor on philosophical anthropology would look like. Neither Hegel, Sources of the Self, Ethics of Authenticity, (...) Catholic Modernity nor Varieties of Religion Today, nor Taylor's forthcoming books on secularization and modern social imaginaries are such treatises on the ontology of the human being. Nicholas H. Smith's monograph Charles Taylor: Meaning, Morals and Modernity (Polity, 2002) puts forward a clear and well-argued assessment of Taylor's entire project, with details on his intellectual biography and political engagement. For the purposes of thinking through Taylor's work so far, this book is probably the best one around. It is divided into eight chapters: "Linguistic Philosophy and Phenomenology", "Science, Action and the Mind", "The Romantic Legacy", "The Self and the Good", "Interpretation and the Social Sciences", "Individual and Community", "Politics and Social Criticism", and "Modernity, Art and Religion". The chapters are thematically ordered, but the order of presentation follows roughly the temporal order of Taylor's career. In this review article, I will begin with what Smith identifies as Taylor's organizing idea, and then focus on Smith's presentation of Taylor's transcendental argumentation concerning 'human constants'. As exemplars, I will discuss two of the.. (shrink)
The Philosophy Now series promises to combine rigorous analysis with authoritative expositions. Ruth Abbey’s book lives up to this demand by being a clear, reliable and more than up-to-date introduction to Charles Taylor ’s philosophy. Although it is an introductory book, the amount of footnotes and references ought to please those who want to study the original texts more closely. Abbey’s book is structured thematically: morality, selfhood, politics and epistemology get 50 pages each. The focus is on the internal (...) coherence of Taylor ’s work, not in its critique of or defence against other positions. The chapters are self-containing, but together they give a good total picture of Taylor ’s position. The concluding chapter is a highly interesting preview of Taylor ’s unpublished work-in-progress on secularity, which according to Abbey is comparable in magnitude to Sources of the Self. (shrink)
This article investigates the history of the relation between idealism and pragmatism by examining the importance of the French idealist Charles Renouvier for the development of William James's ‘Will to Believe’. By focusing on French idealism, we obtain a broader understanding of the kinds of idealism on offer in the nineteenth century. First, I show that Renouvier's unique methodological idealism led to distinctively pragmatist doctrines and that his theory of certitude and its connection to freedom is worthy of reconsideration. (...) Second, I argue that the technical vocabulary and main structure of the argument from the ‘Will to Believe’ depend upon Renouvier's idealist theory of knowledge and psychology of belief, and that taking account of this line of influence is of crucial importance for establishing the correct interpretation of James's work. (shrink)
In this essay I explore the potential contribution of Peirce's theory of scientific inquiry to moral philosophy. After a brief introduction, I outline Peirce's theory of inquiry. Next, I address why Peirce believed that this theory of inquiry is inapplicable to what he called "matters of vital importance," the latter including genuine moral problems. This leaves us in the end with two options: We can try to develop an alternative way of addressing moral problems or we can seek to reconcile (...) moral problems with scientific inquiry as described by Peirce. Though Peirce seems to argue for the former, I argue for the latter. (shrink)
This work runs counter to the traditional interpretations of Peirce's philosophy by eliciting an inherent strand of pragmatic pluralism that is embedded in the very core of his thought and that weaves his various doctrines into a systematic ...
This paper compares the idea of embodied reasoning by Confucian Tu Wei-Ming and Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor. They have similar concerns about the problems of secular modernity, that is, the domination of instrumental reason and disembodied rationality. Both of them suggest that we have to explore a kind of embodied moral reasoning. I show that their theories of embodiment have many similarities: the body is an instrument for our moral knowledge and self-understanding; such knowledge is inevitably a kind of (...) bodily knowledge. I will also demonstrate how the differences between their theories can be mutually enriched. While Taylor has provided a philosophical account of the foundation of moral epistemology, Tu’s emphasis of ritual practice and the integration of knowing, doing and being seems to offer a more fully embodied understanding of the moral self. (shrink)
In this paper the relations between the almost unknown Spanish mathematician Ventura Reyes Prósper (1863-1922) with Charles S. Peirce and Christine Ladd-Franklin are described. Two brief papers from Reyes Prósper published in El Progreso Matemático 12 (20 December 1891), pp. 297-300, and 18 (15 June 1892) pp. 170-173 on Ladd-Franklin, and on Peirce and Mitchell, respectively, are translated for first time into English and included at the end of the paper.
Charles Taylor is one of the leading living philosophers. In this book Arto Laitinen studies and develops further Taylor's philosophical views on human agency, personhood, selfhood and identity. He defends Taylor's view that our ethical understandings of values play a central role. The book also develops and defends Taylor's form of value realism as a view on the nature of ethical values, or values in general. The book criticizes Taylor's view that God, Nature or Human Reason are possible constitutive (...) sources of value – Laitinen argues that we should drop the whole notion of a constitutive source. (shrink)
[Note: Picture of Peirce available] Charles S. Peirce’s Philosophy of Signs Essays in Comparative Semiotics Gérard Deledalle Peirce’s semiotics and metaphysics compared to the thought of other leading philosophers. "This is essential reading for anyone who wants to find common ground between the best of American semiotics and better-known European theories. Deledalle has done more than anyone else to introduce Peirce to European audiences, and now he sends Peirce home with some new flare."—Nathan Houser, Director, Peirce Edition Project (...) class='Hi'>Charles S. Peirce’s Philosophy of Signs examines Peirce’s philosophy and semiotic thought from a European perspective, comparing the American’s unique views with a wide variety of work by thinkers from the ancients to moderns. Parts I and II deal with the philosophical paradigms which are at the root of Peirce’s new theory of signs, pragmatic and social. The main concepts analyzed are those of "sign" and "semiosis" and their respective trichotomies; formally in the case of "sign," in time in the case of semiosis. Part III is devoted to comparing Peirce’s theory of semiotics as a form of logic to the work of other philosophers, including Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein, Frege, Philodemus, Lady Welby, Saussure, Morris, Jakobson, and Marshall McLuhan. Part IV compares Peirce’s "scientific metaphysics" with European metaphysics. Gérard Deledalle holds the Doctorate in Philosophy from the Sorbonne. A research scholar at Columbia University and Attaché at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, he has also been Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Philosophy Department of the universities of Tunis, Perpignan, and Libreville. In 1990 he received the Herbert W. Schneider Award "for distinguished contributions to the understanding and development of American philosophy. In 2001, he was appointed vice-president of the Charles S. Peirce Society. Contents Introduction—Peirce Compared: Directions for Use Part I—Semeiotic as Philosophy Peirce’s New Philosophical Paradigms Peirce’s Philosophy of Semeiotic Peirce’s First Pragmatic Papers The Postscriptum of 1893 Part II—Semeiotic as Semiotics Sign: Semiosis and Representamen—Semiosis and Time Sign: The Concept and Its Use—Reading as Translation Part III—Comparative Semiotics Semiotics and Logic: A Reply to Jerzy Pelc Semeiotic and Greek Logic: Peirce and Philodemus Semeiotic and Significs: Peirce and Lady Welby Semeiotic and Semiology: Peirce and Saussure Semeiotic and Semiotics: Peirce and Morris Semeiotic and Linguistics: Peirce and Jakobson Semeiotic and Communication: Peirce and McLuhan Semeiotic and Epistemology: Peirce, Frege, and Wittgenstein Part IV—Comparative Metaphysics Gnoseology—Perceiving and Knowing: Peirce, Wittgenstein, and Gestalttheorie Ontology—Transcendentals "of" or "without" Being: Peirce versus Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas Cosmology—Chaos and Chance within Order and Continuity: Peirce between Plato and Darwin Theology—The Reality of God: Peirce’s Triune God and the Church’s Trinity Conclusion—Peirce: A Lateral View. (shrink)
We explain how the work of Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914) – the founder of semiotics and of the pragmatist tradition in philosophy – contributes an epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical foundation to some key transhumanist ideas, including the following claims: technological cognitive enhancement is not only possible but a present reality; pursuing more sweeping cognitive enhancements is epistemically rational; and current humans should try to evolve themselves into posthumans. On Peirce’s view, the fundamental aim of inquiry is truth, understood in (...) terms of a stage of ideal cognition (what he calls the “final opinion”). As current human cognitive abilities are insufficient to achieve this stage, Peirce’s views on cognition support a variety of ways in which they might be enhanced. Finally, we argue that what Peirce describes as our ethical summum bonum seems remarkably similar to what Bostrom (2005) argues to be the core transhumanist value: “the exploration of the posthuman realm.”. (shrink)
Hermeneutics, also referred to as interpretive phenomenology, has led to important contributions to nursing research. The philosophy of Charles Taylor has been a major source in the development of contemporary hermeneutics, through his ontological and epistemological articulations of the human sciences. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that Taylor's ideas can further enrich hermeneutic inquiry in nursing research, particularly for investigations of ethical concerns. The paper begins with an outline of Taylor's hermeneutical framework, followed by a review (...) of his key ideas relevant for ethics research. The paper ends with a discussion of my empirical research with critically ill children in Canada and France in relation to Taylor's ideas, chiefly Social Imaginaries. I argue that Taylor's hermeneutics provides a substantive moral framework as well as a methodology for examining ethical concerns. (shrink)
IN 1903, commenting on an article he had written more than thirty years before, Charles Peirce said that he had changed his mind on many issues at least a half-dozen times but had "never been able to think differently on that question of nominalism and realism" (1.20). For anyone acquainted with Peirce's writings, this remark alone could justify a study of "that question.".
In this critical response to Charles Ess’ ‚Ethical Pluralism and Global Information Ethics’ presented in this Special Issue of Ethics and Information Technology, it is firstly argued that his account of pros hen pluralism can be more accurately reformulated as a three layered doctrine by separating one acceptance of diversity at a cultural level and another at an ethical theoretic level. Following this clarificatory section, the next section considers Ess’ political and sociological reasons for the necessity and desirability of (...) pros hen pluralism, criticising the former reasons as social scientifically problematic, while elaborating on the latter as more persuasive. In the last section, I discuss how pros hen pluralism may be realised, making three arguments in particular. First, Ess’ requirement for sensitivity to cultural diversity is to be interpreted as differentiated and extended sensitivity. Second, his discussion of shared responses to central ethical problems is ambiguous and needs further elaboration and clarification. Third, his focus on dialogue and Socratic education is persuasive, although excessive optimism is not reasonable. (shrink)
Charles Taylor’s latest collection of essays, Dilemmas and Connections, is the most recent installment in his development of a grand history of the rise of a modern, secular age. In this review, I show how the historical narrative that defines Taylor’s late work is in continuity with his earlier hermeneutic commitments, while also allowing him to advance new inquiries into areas as diverse as secularism, religion, nationalism, and human rights discourse. I do this by not only providing a succinct (...) summary of Taylor’s master narrative, but also by arguing that it resolves a number of philosophical dilemmas. (shrink)
This paper identifies and analyzes the problem of historicism in Charles Taylor's work overall, but with particular emphasis on his most recent publication, A Secular Age. I circumscribe the problem of historicism through reference to the nineteenth-century German philosophical tradition in which it developed, in particular in the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey. I then trace the structural similarities between the notions of history to be found in the thought of Taylor and Dilthey and how these structural similarities raise worries (...) associated with the problem of historicism. I argue that the structural aporia of historicism evident in Taylor's work brings to light a live philosophical problem that is basic to theoretical debates in the study religion. (shrink)
In this essay I discuss the historical adequacy of Charles Taylor's philosophical history of secularization, as presented in his A Secular Age . I do so by situating it in relation to the contextual historiography of secularization in early modern Europe, with a particular focus on developments in the German Empire. Considering how profoundly conceptions of secularization have been bound to competing religious and political programmes, we must begin our discussion by entertaining the possibility that modern philosophical and historiographic (...) conceptions of secularization might themselves be outcrops of this unfinished competition. Peter Gordon has rightly observed that Taylor's philosophical history of secularization is a Catholic one, and that this is bound up with a specific view of secularization as a theological and ecclesiological “disembedding” of rational subjectivity from its prior embodiment in a sacral body, community , and cosmos. Taylor delivers this history in his “reform master narrative”: that certain fundamental religious and cultural reforms or changes in early modern Europe wrought the secularization responsible for a modern epoch of “unbelief”. (shrink)
Research in modern biology has largely been developed according to two main ways of inquiry, as they were outlined by Charles Darwin and Claude Bernard. Each stands for a specific approach to the living corresponding to two different methodological rules: the principle of natural selection and the principle of causation.
People discussing science and religion usually frame their conversations in terms of essentialist assumptions about science, assumptions requiring the existence (but not the specification) of criteria according to which science can be distinguished from other forms of inquiry. However, criteria functioning at a level of generality appropriate to such discussions may not exist at all. Essentialist assumptions may be avoided if science is understood within a broader context of human practices. In a philosophy of practices, to label a practice as (...) “scientific” is to make a practically motivated provision for a way of speaking. Charles Taylor and Joseph Rouse have produced complementary philosophies of practice that promote this kind of understanding. In this essay I review the work of Taylor and Rouse, identify apparent residues of essentialism that each seems to harbor, and offer a resolution to some of their disagreements. I also criticize a form of essentialism commonly employed in Christian circles and outline an anti-essentialist view of science that may be helpful in science-and-religion discussions. (shrink)
HR/AL: Professor Taylor, what are you working on these days? CT: Well, several things. One of the things I am working on is something I was lecturing this fall at the New School University, and that I have called ‘modern social imaginaries’. It is an attempt to understand western modernity in terms of the different ways in which people imagine their social existence. These imaginaries are a condition for new kinds of practices that are characteristic of modernity. This research is (...) an internal part of a larger project to understand modern secular civilization, the modern west as a secular civilization. What does that notion exactly mean? What does it amount to? How did it happen? (shrink)
This review article outlines some of the major contributions made to political theory by Charles Taylor. It focuses on his relationship to liberalism, his contribution to the understanding of democracy and his analysis of the politics of recognition. Several lines of critique of Taylor's thought on these issues are also explored. Some reflections on Taylor's style of theorising about politics are offered, and the question of whether he is a conservative or critical theorist is examined.
Charles Travis’s new collection on perception brings together eleven of his previously published essays on this topic, some of which are substantially revised, plus one new essay. The intentionally ambiguous subtitle hints at the author’s endorsement of Fregean anti-psychologism, though influences from Wittgenstein and Austin are equally apparent. The work centres around two major questions in the philosophy of mind and perception. First, Travis argues against the view that perceptual experience, as distinct from perceptual judgement or belief, is representational, (...) and so belongs to what Travis calls ‘the conceptual’. This is contrasted with the ‘non-conceptual’, or ‘historical’; that is, environmental particulars which lack the generality of representational thought. The second is what Travis calls ‘the fundamental question of perception’; namely, how can perceptual experience make the world bear (rationally) upon what we are to think and do? The answer, he argues, cannot be found in terms of relations between thoughts—a purely conceptual affair—but in the way that thought is itself grounded in the particularity of experience. For perceptual experience to bear rationally upon thought at all—or, in more familiar Fregean terms, to bring ‘objects’ under ‘concepts’—perception must first make environmental particulars available to cognition. Thus, Travis argues, experience cannot itself be ‘conceptual’, or representational, on pain of undermining the very thing that grants us a recognisable, and so thinkable, world at all. (shrink)