It is somewhat misleading to think of the Franciscans as forming a “school” in ethics, since there was a fair bit of diversity among Franciscans. Nonetheless, one can identify certain characteristic tendencies of Franciscan moral thought, and certain “celebrity” Franciscans whose views in ethics and moral psychology are particularly noteworthy. I shall first offer an overview of the general character of Franciscan moral thought in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries and then turn to a more detailed examination of (...) the thought of John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308) and William Ockham (c. 1288-1347) on three central matters of debate: the nature of the virtues, the relationship between intellect and will, and the relationship between moral requirements and the divine will. (shrink)
The essays are arranged in two sections of ethical topics and a section on philosophy, evolution, and the human sciences that includes the title essay, “Making Sense of Humanity.” In World, Mind and Ethics, excellent pieces by Elster, Sen, Jardine, Hookway, McDowell, Nussbaum, Charles Taylor, Altham, and Hollis range even more widely: over ethics, political philosophy, and epistemology, reflecting some of the breadth of Williams’s interests.
Thomas Williams presents the most extensive collection of John Duns Scotus's work on ethics and moral psychology available in English. This accessible and philosophically informed translation includes extended discussions on divine and human freedom, the moral attributes of God, and the relationship between will and intellect.
There are two general routes that Augustine suggests in De Trinitate, XV, 14-16, 23-25, for a psychological account of the Father's intellectual generation of the Word. Thomas Aquinas and Henry of Ghent, in their own ways, follow the first route; John Duns Scotus follows the second. Aquinas, Henry, and Scotus's psychological accounts entail different theological opinions. For example, Aquinas (but neither Henry nor Scotus) thinks that the Father needs the Word to know the divine essence. If we compare the (...) theological views entailed by their psychologies we find a trajectory from Aquinas, through Henry, and ending with Scotus. This theological trajectory falsifies a judgment that every Augustinian psychology of the divine persons amounts to a pre-Nicene functional Trinitarianism. This study makes clear how one's awareness of the theological views entailed by these psychologies enables one to assess more thoroughly psychological accounts of the identity and distinction of the divine persons. (shrink)
John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308) was one of the most important and influential philosophertheologians of the High Middle Ages. His brilliantly complex and nuanced thought, which earned him the nickname "the Subtle Doctor," left a mark on discussions of such disparate topics as the semantics of religious language, the problem of universals, divine illumination, and the nature of human freedom. This essay first lays out what is known about Scotus's life and the dating of his works. It then offers an (...) overview of some of his key positions in four main areas of philosophy: natural theology, metaphysics, the theory of knowledge, and ethics and moral psychology. (shrink)
The famous 1893 Chicago World’s Fair celebrated the dawn of corporate capitalism and a new Machine Age with an exhibit of the world’s largest engine. Yet the noise was so great, visitors ran out of the Machinery Hall to retreat to the peace and quiet of the Japanese pavilion’s Buddhist temples and lotus ponds. Thus began over a century of the West’s turn toward an Asian aesthetic as an antidote to modern technology. From the turn-of-the-century Columbian Exhibition to the latest (...) Zen-inspired designs of Apple, Inc., R. JohnWilliams charts the history of our embrace of Eastern ideals of beauty to counter our fear of the rise of modern technological systems. In a dazzling work of synthesis, Williams examines Asian influences on book design and department store marketing, the commercial fiction of Jack London, the poetic technique of Ezra Pound, the popularity of Charlie Chan movies, the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, and the design of the latest high-tech gadgets. Williams demonstrates how, rather than retreating from modernity, writers, artists, and inventors turned to traditional Eastern technê as a therapeutic means of living with—but never abandoning—Western technology. (shrink)
John Locke asserted that God could have, if he wished, given the ability to think, feel, and love to matter instead of to spirit. The inference he drew from this assertion was that all the "ends of morality and religion" could be accounted for even if people were purely material. Matter and spirit, therefore, are on a par with respect to these ends. I argue for this parity, concluding that it doesn't matter whether Christians are materialists or dualists.
The personal papers of the neurophysiologist John C. Lilly at Stanford University hold a classified paper he wrote in the late 1950s on the behavioural modification and control of ‘human agents’. The paper provides an unnerving prognosis of the future application of Lilly’s research, then being carried out at the National Institute of Mental Health. Lilly claimed that the use of sensory isolation, electrostimulation of the brain, and the recording and mapping of brain activity could be used to gain (...) ‘push-button’ control over motivation and behaviour. This research, wrote Lilly, could eventually lead to ‘master-slave controls directly of one brain over another’. The paper is an explicit example of Lilly’s preparedness to align his research towards Cold War military aims. It is not, however, the research for which Lilly is best known. During the 1960s and 1970s, Lilly developed cult status as a far-out guru of consciousness exploration, promoting the use of psychedelics and sensory isolation tanks. Lilly argued that, rather than being used as tools of brainwashing, these techniques could be employed by the individual to regain control of their own mind and retain a sense of agency over their thoughts and actions. This article examines the scientific, intellectual, and cultural relationship between the sciences of brainwashing and psychedelic mind alteration. Through an analysis of Lilly’s autobiographical writings, I also show how paranoid ideas about brainwashing and mind control provide an important lens for understanding the trajectory of Lilly’s research. (shrink)
In this ambitious study, Alexander W. Hall examines the two preeminent figures of the golden age of natural theology: Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus. Hall is not so much concerned with retracing particular proofs of the existence of God and derivations of the divine attributes—well-worn paths in discussions of medieval natural theology—as with investigating the larger philosophical issues that are raised by the project of natural theology, such as the nature of scientia and demonstrative arguments, and accounts of (...) signification and the meaningfulness of theological discourse.Hall's opening chapter offers an overview of natural theology in the High Middle Ages, summarizing the conclusions he will defend at greater length over the course of the book. In chapter 2 Hall relies primarily on Aquinas's commentary on the Posterior Analytics to get clear on his account of scientia, or scientific knowledge. "For Aquinas," Hall writes,"paradigmatic scientia is the result of syllogistic reasoning . . . Syllogisms productive of scientia use either real or nominal definitions as their middle, and thus the conclusion tells us what belongs to the subject through itself or per se". (shrink)
In this comment on John Yolton's Is There a History of Philosophy? (Yolton, 1985) I review his account of the development during the 17th to 19th centuries of a common sense of the range of philosophical problems and of the canon of philosophical works. I suggest that his account may be read in light of Rorty's four genres of historiography (Rorty, 1984). I criticize his view of the place of the history of philosophy in philosophy as too timid, though (...) correct as far as it goes. I then suggest, but do not attempt to establish, a bolder thesis. Finally, I raise some doubts about the adequacy of Yolton's reading of Descartes and Berkeley set out in two of his Puzzlements. The Puzzlements themselves are supposed to illustrate typical misreading of major figures in the history of philosophy. (shrink)
“Poetry, art, religion are precious things.”The American philosopher John Dewey is an iconic figure. A prolific writer, his scholarly attention variously focused upon philosophy, education, democracy, economics, and aesthetics. It is not commonly known, however, that behind the scenes in his private office at Columbia University, Dewey also wrote poetry.2 Without his knowledge or consent, ninety-eight poems were collected from his wastebasket in 1930 by a custodian. Additional “scraps” and poems were found in his office desk after his retirement, (...) bringing the total to 101. In 1977 these poems were published and made available to the public for the first time in The Poems of John Dewey, edited by Jo Ann... (shrink)
This article is a response to an essay written by an academic in English Literature, Professor John Sutherland. Through close textual analysis,Sutherland purports to resolve a well-known literary question: whether the sexual encounter outlined in the Victorian novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles should be classified as rape or seduction. The present article rejects his conclusion on the matter. An(equally) close analysis of the fictional text in question and of Sutherland's gloss, demonstrates the partiality of his critique, both in literary-critical (...) and critical-legal terms. In addition, examination of the conceptual and historico-legal context regarding the notions of rape and seduction on both sides of the Atlantic highlights parallels between Sutherland's own partiality and that of the law. In short, the apparent objectivity of the textual analysis and subsequent critique undertaken by Sutherland is revealed as a continuation of legal and patriarchal prejudices defining rape and seduction. The use of close textual analysis as the key critical device promotes the apparent probity of his findings. Locating them in an essay collection designed for mass lay public consumption completes the circle – from partisan scholarship to `informed' popular prejudice. (shrink)
It is often forgotten that the philosopher John Locke (1632–1704) was a highly regarded physician with a lifelong interest in medicine and was frequently consulted on medical matters, including the health of children. This child health aspect in Locke’s history has been largely ignored, with even modern commentaries on Locke and medicine giving it only a cursory mention. However, it is clear that, in child health, Locke’s influence is far more substantial than GF Still’s and George Jackson’s opinions, which (...) limited Locke solely to Thoughts concerning education (1692/3). That a fundamental reappraisal of Locke’s role in child healthcare is necessary and that his place as a pioneer of modern child healthcare needs to be proclaimed are emphasised here. As modern day child healthcare has evolved to embrace advocacy and learning disability, Locke’s importance through his influence on paediatrics, child healthcare and human rights becomes more evident. Locke’s influence in child healthcare comes not only through his other celebrated philosophical writings, but also through extensive personal correspondence and case records. As well as throwing light onto the 17th century aspects of child healthcare, Locke, through his enquiry and self-evident humility in his correspondence on medical matters, inspires and educates us with his pragmatic approach to the practice of medicine. (shrink)