The existence of natural talent becomes easier to see at extremes in performance. Practice alone could not account for the differences in performance that exist at the highest levels. Practice and other factors are no doubt important contributors to outstanding performance, but not enough to explain great creative works. Talent is essential.
Although HenryDavid Thoreau stands outside the Christian canon, his outlook on the relations among spirituality, ecology, and economy highlights how Christian theologians can develop a theological work ethic in our era of economic and ecological precarity. He can furthermore help theologians counter the pro-work bias in much Christian thought. In Walden, Thoreau shows that the best work is an ascetic practice that reveals and reaps the abundance of nature and connects the person to the immanent divine and (...) thereby glimpsing eternity. Thoreau thus offers the outline of a transformed theology of work even as he challenges Protestant vocationalism in the early industrial era. He is therefore a fitting if challenging guide for formulating a theology of the self as agent and product of work, at a moment when the postindustrial ideal of work that is both meaningful and remunerative seems ever more unattainable while the negative impact of our work on nonhuman nature is ever more apparent. (shrink)
Can a soldier be held responsible for fighting in a war that is illegal or unjust? The chapters in the book both challenge and defend many deeply held assumptions: about the liability of soldiers for crimes of aggression, about the nature and justifiability of terrorism, about the relationship between law and morality.
In his graceful philosophical account, Alfred I. Tauber shows why Thoreau still seems so relevant today—more relevant in many respects than he seemed to his contemporaries. Although Thoreau has been skillfully and thoroughly examined as a writer, naturalist, mystic, historian, social thinker, Transcendentalist, and lifelong student, we may find in Tauber's portrait of Thoreau the moralist a characterization that binds all these aspects of his career together. Thoreau was caught at a critical turn in the history of science, between the (...) ebb of Romanticism and the rising tide of positivism. He responded to the challenges posed by the new ideal of objectivity not by rejecting the scientific worldview, but by humanizing it for himself. Tauber portrays Thoreau as a man whose moral vision guided his life's work. Each of Thoreau's projects reflected a self-proclaimed "metaphysical ethics," an articulated program of self-discovery and self-knowing. By writing, by combining precision with poetry in his naturalist pursuits and simplicity with mystical fervor in his daily activity, Thoreau sought to live a life of virtue—one he would characterize as marked by deliberate choice. This unique vision of human agency and responsibility will still seem fresh and contemporary to readers at the start of the twenty-first century. (shrink)
I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil,—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee and every one of you will take care of that.
I HEARTILY accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it ﬁnally amounts to this, which also I believe,—“That government is best which governs not at all;” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. (...) The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure. This American government,—what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have. Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed on, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the Ameri-. (shrink)
Based on an 1839 boat trip Thoreau took with his brother from Concord, Massachusetts, to Concord, New Hampshire, and back, this classic of American literature is not only a vivid narrative of that journey, it is also a collection of thought-provoking observations on such diverse topics as poetry, literature and philosophy, Native American and Puritan histories of New England, friendship, sacred Eastern writings, traditional Christianity, and much more. Written, like Walden, while Thoreau lived at Walden Pond, and published in 1849, (...) A Week (his first book) shares many themes with Walden, published in 1854. Both dramatize the process of self-renewal in nature and resolutely rail against the official culture and politics of the "trivial Nineteenth Century." Blending keen observation with a wealth of perceptive and informed reflections, Thoreau develops a continuous and lyrical dialogue between the past and present, as particular scenes on shore trigger reflections on the region’s history and legends. Originally conceived as a travel book, A Week eventually became much more — one of the most intellectually ambitious works of 19th-century America, and a requiem for Thoreau's brother John, who died from a sudden illness in 1842. Of Thoreau and this work, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "H. D. Thoreau is a great man in Concord, a man of original genius and character. . . . I think it [A Week. . .] is a book of wonderful merit, which is to go far and last long.". (shrink)
Poincare’s arguments for his thesis of the conventionality of metric depend on a relationalist program for dynamics, not on any general philosophical interpretation of science. I will sketch Poincare’s development of the relationalist program and show that his arguments for the conventionality of metric do not depend on any global strategies such as a general empiricism or Duhemian underdetermination arguments. Poincare’s theory of space, while empirically false, is more philosophically sophisticated than his critics have claimed.
The preceding theory represents, I believe, a large improvement over conceptual graph theories of analogy. In particular, it is possible for analogical reasoning to be flexible or ‘creative’ on this approach, an aspect of analogy that is not accounted for in conceptual graph theories. I also believe that searching by constraint violations is a more reasonable way to organize memory search than to look for properties of conceptual hierarchies. Proof of this last point, however, awaits an more detailed classification of (...) the constraints that figure in analogical reasoning. (shrink)
Henry More (1614–1687), the most influential of the so-called Cambridge Platonists, and arguably the leading philosophically-inclined theologian in late seventeenth-century England, has come in for renewed attention lately. He was the subject of a detailed intellectual biography in 2003 by Robert Crocker, and in 2012 Jasper Reid published a philosophically penetrating and enlightening study of More’s metaphysics (Crocker 2003; Reid 2012). David Leech’s study of More’s idiosyncratic concept of immaterial spirit—and the role that it plays in his philosophy (...) and theology—is as detailed and penetrating as Reid’s study of his metaphysics, but perhaps more far-reaching in its ambitions. As the sub-title of this new book suggests, More’s philosophical theology is presented here as leading to the unintended consequence of promoting the incipient atheism of the early modern period.Leech’s study is clearly and helpfully structured in three parts and ten chapters. The first part, “Atheism and Spir .. (shrink)
I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe—"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. (...) The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure. (shrink)
I read HenryDavid Thoreau as an environmental virtue theorist. In this paper, I use Thoreau’s work as a tool to explore the relation between the virtue of greatness of soul and environmental virtues. Reflecting on connections between Thoreau’s texts and historical discussions of greatness of soul, or magnanimity, I offer a novel conception of magnanimity. I argue that (1) to become magnanimous, most individuals need to acquire the environmental virtue of simplicity; and (2) magnanimous individuals must possess (...) the environmental virtue of benevolence in order to achieve their goals. (shrink)
Is a nation ever justified in attacking before it has been attacked? If so, under precisely what conditions? This volume of new, specially commissioned chapters provides the most definitive assessment to date of the justifiability of preemptive or preventive military action.
With the help of American friends, he revised the book and published it anew six years later. The present volume is the third version of the biography, completed in 1908 but never published in Salt's lifetime.
Scholars of early Chinese philosophy frequently point to the nontranscendent, organismic conception of the cosmos in early China as the source of China's unique perspective and distinctive values. One would expect recent works in Confucian ethics to capitalize on this idea. Reviewing recent works in Confucian ethics by P. J. Ivanhoe, David Nivison, R. P. Peerenboom, Henry Rosemont, and Tu Wei-Ming, the author analyzes these new studies in terms of the extent to which their representation of Confucian ethics (...) reflects and is consistent with the view that in early China the cosmos was conceived to be organismic, nontranscendent, and nondualistic. (shrink)
Thoreau's political writing is intensely personal and direct. Both his life and work focus uncompromisingly on the question 'how should I live?', and for Thoreau, no element of day-to-day existence is left untouched by moral and political issues. This edition of Thoreau's political essays includes 'Civil Disobedience', selections from Walden, 'Life Without Principle', and the anti-slavery addresses, such as 'Slavery in Massachusetts'. In her introduction, Nancy L. Rosenblum places the essays in the context of Thoreau's life of self-examination, and the (...) debates about the abolition of slavery, and she analyses the themes of citizenship and resistance that have made Thoreau an enduring influence in political philosophy and practice. (shrink)
Henry Thoreau boasted that he was widely travelled in Concord, Massachusetts. He was born there on 12 July 1817, and he died there on 6 May 1862, of tuberculosis, at the age of forty-four years. In 1837 he graduated from Harvard College, and in 1838 he joined Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and others in the informal group that became known as the New England Transcendentalists. The author of four books, many essays and poems, and a voluminous journal, he (...) is best known for the book Walden and the essay ‘Civil Disobedience’, and for the circumstances attending these two milestones in American thought and literature. (shrink)