In the mid twentieth century the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously asserted that games are indefinable; there are no common threads that link them all. “Nonsense,” said the sensible Bernard Suits: “playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” The short book Suits wrote demonstrating precisely that is as playful as it is insightful, as stimulating as it is delightful. Through the jocular voice of Aesop's Grasshopper, a “shiftless but thoughtful practitioner of applied entomology,” Suits not only argues (...) that games can be meaningfully defined; he also suggests that playing games is a central part of the ideal of human existence, and so games belong at the heart of any vision of Utopia. This new edition of _The Grasshopper_ includes illustrations from FrankNewfeld created for the book’s original publication, as well as an introduction by Thomas Hurka and a new appendix on the meaning of ‘play.’. (shrink)
Many of the things that we try to explain, in both our common sense and our scientific engagement with the world, are capable of being explained more or less finely: that is, with greater or lesser attention to the detail of the producing mechanism. A natural assumption, pervasive if not always explicit, is that other things being equal, the more finegrained an explanation, the better. Thus, Jon Elster, who also thinks there are instrumental reasons for wanting a more fine-grained explanation, (...) assumes that in any case the mere fact of getting nearer the detail of production makes such an explanation intrinsically superior: “a more detailed explanation is also an end in itself”. Michael Taylor agrees: “A good explanation should be, amongst other things, as fine-grained as possible.”. (shrink)
I'm pleased to have been offered the chance of replying to Joseph Frank's criticisms . He is a courteous opponent, though capable of a certain asperity. . . . Frank complains that his critics appear incapable of attending to what he really said in his original essay. It is the blight critics are born for; and it is undoubtedly sometimes caused by the venal haste of reviewers, and sometimes by native dullness, and sometimes by malice. But there are (...) other reasons why an author may sometimes feel himself to be misrepresented. One is that a genuinely patient and intelligent reader may be more interested in what the piece under consideration does not quite say than in what is expressly stated. Another is the consequence of fame. Frank's original article is over thirty years old; it crystallised what had been for the most part vague notions, ideas that were in the air, and gave them a memorable name. "Spatial form" entered the jargon of the graduate school and began an almost independent existence. The term might well be used by people who had never read the essay at all; or they might casually attribute to him loose inferences made by others from the general proposition—inferences he had already disallowed and now once more contests. It must be difficult, particularly for an exasperated author, to distinguish between these causes of apparent misrepresentation. But sometimes it can be done; and then it will appear that the effect of the first is far more interesting than that of the second cause. For the suggestion then must be that the author has repressed a desire to take a position which, in his manifest argument, he differentiates from his own. This, as it happens, is what he advances as an explanation of certain ambiguities in my Sense of an Ending; the least one can say is that it is perfectly possible. Frank Kermode is the author of The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction, Continuities, and Shakespeare, Spenser, Donne: Renaissance Essays; his works also include The Classic and The Genesis of Secrecy. His contributions to Critical Inquiry are "Novels: Recognition and Deception" , "A Reply to Denis Donoghue" , and "Secrets and Narrative Sequence". (shrink)
In what follows I argue for two interrelated theses: that early Buddhism is not a form of empiricism, and that consequently there is no basis for an early Buddhist apologetic which contrasts an empirical early Buddhism with either a metaphysical Hinduism on the one hand, or with a baseless Christianity on the other.
We make a huge variety of claims framed in vocabularies drawn from physics and chemistry, everyday talk, neuroscience, ethics, mathematics, semantics, folk and professional psychology, and so on and so forth. We say, for example, that Jones feels cold, that Carlton might win, that there are quarks, that murder is wrong, that there are four fundamental forces, and that a certain level of neurological activity is necessary for thought. If we follow Huw Price's Carnapian lead, we can put this by (...) saying that we make many claims in many different frameworks. (shrink)
Frank Jackson champions the cause of conceptual analysis as central to philosophical inquiry. In recent years conceptual analysis has been undervalued and widely misunderstood, suggests Jackson. He argues that such analysis is mistakenly clouded in mystery, preventing a whole range of important questions from being productively addressed. He anchors his argument in discussions of specific philosophical issues, starting with the metaphysical doctrine of physicalism and moving on, via free will, meaning, personal identity, motion, and change, to ethics and the (...) philosophy of color. In this way the book not only offers a methodological program for philosophy, but also casts new light on some much-debated problems and their interrelations. (shrink)
In this memorial essay on Sir Frank Kermode (1919–2010), the author focuses on his own exchange of views with Kermode during the 1970s. In Kermode's book The Sense of an Ending (1966), he had criticized Frank's essay “Spatial Form in Modern Literature” (1945) as part of a larger critique of what the Romantic-Symbolist tradition of English poetry had become in the twentieth century. Yeats, Pound, Eliot, and other late Symbolists had turned artists into advocates of an irrational wisdom (...) superior to reason and common sense, thus isolating—so Kermode argued—the world of art from that of ordinary human concerns. Rejecting their view of art, he turned instead to a pre-Romantic tradition (including Spenser and Milton) that the Symbolists had rejected. Among modern writers, Kermode turned to Wallace Stevens, who became his foil for Yeats, Eliot, and Pound, as well as the most important influence on his own later thinking. Joseph Frank, in this essay, recalls the combination of acerbic intelligence, social concern, gentility, and finally friendship that characterized his debate over these questions with Kermode. Frank recalls as an indication of his respect and admiration for Kermode that he wrote, in 1977, that, even if his own theory of spatial form were to be shown worthless, it would still have value in having provided some of the stimulus for Kermode to write The Sense of an Ending. (shrink)
The present study seeks to lay out the most basic elements of the ontology of classical Aš‘arite theology. In several cases this requires a careful examination of the traditional and the formal lexicography of certain key expressions. The topics primarily treated are: how they understood “Being/ existence” and “being/existent” and essential natures; the systematic exploitation of the equivocities of certain expressions within a general context in which other than words there are no universals proves to be elegant as well as (...) insightful; the basic categories of primary entities: independant beings and nonindependant beings, created and uncreated, the equivocity of “being/existent” as predicated of contingent entities on the one hand and of God and His attributes on the other, and certain problems that arise because of the rigid application of the system's underlying analytic principles. Nous essayons ici de presenter les éléments fondamentaux de l'ontologie de l'aš‘arisme classique. Pour quelques expressions, il a fallu examiner la lexicographie et ordinaire et technique pour bien comprendre leur emploi et leur signification. Les sujets examinés sont: le sens de “Etre/existence” et de “être/existant” et le concept de réalité essentielle; l'emploi nuancé des équivocités de quelques expressions dans un contexte où les seuls universaux sont des mots, emploi qui se révèle philosophiquement élégant; les catégories fondamentales des êtres: êtres indépendants et êtres non-indépendants, soit créés soit incréés, l'équivocité de “être/existant” dit des êtres contingents d'une part, de Dieu et ses attributs d'autre part, et enfin quelques difficultiés qui résultent de l'application rigide des principes analytiques du système. (shrink)
What is the nature of, and what is the relationship between, external objects and our visual perceptual experience of them? In this book, Frank Jackson defends the answers provided by the traditional Representative theory of perception. He argues, among other things that we are never immediately aware of external objects, that they are the causes of our perceptual experiences and that they have only the primary qualities. In the course of the argument, sense data and the distinction between mediate (...) and immediate perception receive detailed defences and the author criticises attempts to reduce perceiving the believing and to show that the Representative theory makes the external world unknowable. Jackson recognises that his views are unfashionable but argues in detail that they are to be preferred to their currently favoured competitors. It will become an obvious point of reference for all future work on the philosophy of perception. (shrink)
Frank Ramsey was the greatest of the remarkable generation of Cambridge philosophers and logicians which included G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Maynard Keynes. Before his tragically early death in 1930 at the age of twenty-six, he had done seminal work in mathematics and economics as well as in logic and philosophy. This volume, with a new and extensive introduction by D. H. Mellor, contains all Ramsey's previously published writings on philosophy and the foundations of mathematics. The (...) latter gives the definitive form and defence of the reduction of mathematics to logic undertaken in Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica; the former includes the most profound and original studies of universals, truth, meaning, probability, knowledge, law and causation, all of which are still constantly referred to, and still essential reading for all serious students of these subjects. (shrink)
This paper argues that God may create and exist in any possible world, no matter how much suffering of any sort that world includes. It combines the traditional free will defence with the notion of an ‘occasion’ for good or evil action and limits God's responsibility to the creation of these occasions. Since no possible world contains occasions for more evil than good action, God is morally permitted to create any possible world. With regard to suffering that is not due (...) to free will, namely the suffering of beings who are not moral agents, the paper questions the idea that the relief of such suffering is a moral perfection. (shrink)
Recently Steven E. Boër gave another turn to the discussion of the free will defence by claiming that the free will defence is irrelevant to the justification of moral evil. Conceding that free will may be of real value, Boër claims that free will could have been allowed creatures without that leading to any moral evil at all. What I shall hereafter refer to as the ‘Boër reform’ is the suggestion that God could have allowed creatures to exercise free choices (...) but have intervened with ‘coincidence miracles’ to prevent all the intended evil from actually occurring. What is important to the free will defence, according to Boër, is the ability to choose freely and not the ability to succeed in effecting what we have intended to accomplish. It is no intrusion on the freedom of our wills for God to prevent us from accomplishing what we tried to do with our free wills as long as we were free to try. (shrink)
Recent decades have seen a resurgence of contractarian thinking about the nature and origins of the state. Scholars in this tradition ask what constraints rational, self-interested actors might deliberately impose upon themselves. In response, Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, and other early contractarians answered that laws of property were an attractive alternative to “the war of all against all.” More recently, James Buchanan, Russell Hardin, Mancur Olson, Gordon Tullock, and others have used contractarian principles to justify laws that solve a variety of (...) Prisoner's Dilemmas and other collective-action problems. And in the distributional realm, John Rawls and others have applied contractarian analysis to investigate how material wealth ought to be allocated among people. (shrink)
Our intention here is to present the essential character of classical, sunnī kalām within a strictly formal perspective and to set out its basic aspects. It was conceived by the mutakallimīn as a rational, conceptual, and critical science and, although kalām differed in a number of basic concepts and constructs and in its analytic system, the topical organisation of the major compendia parallels that of metaphysics as understood in the contemporary Aristotelian tradition. The debates between kalām and falsafa need to (...) be examined within this context. Kalām, however, is theological in the strict sense of the term and it is as such that its problematic and its procedures are primarily to be understood. Thus seen, the object of kalām is to rationalise the cognitive content presented to Believers in the symbolic language of the koranic revelation. It has, then, four principal tasks, sc, to conceptualise, to order, to explain, and where possible to justify the primary doctrines of the community whose belief is held to be normative. Within this framework the differences that characterise the major schools as such and the various tendencies of individual masters within each school may readily be brought to light. On se propose ici de présenter, d'un point de vue strictement formel, la nature du kālam classique sunnite et d'identifier ses caractéristiques principales. II avait été conçu par les mutakallimin comme une science rationelle, conceptuelle et critique. L'organisation des matières dans ses traités reprend celle de la métaphysique dans la tradition aristotélicienne de l'époque, bien que le kalām s'en distingue par plusieurs de ses structures et concepts fondamentaux, ainsi que par son système analytique. C'est dans ce contexte qu'il faut considérer les debats qui s'instaurèrent entre kalām et falsafa. Le kalām, cependant, est d'ordre strictement théologique et c'est principalement dans ce cadre qu'il faut comprendre sa problématique et ses procédures. Le kalām a pour fonction de rationaliser le contenu cognitif offert aux croyants dans le langage symbolique de la révélation coranique. Il en résulte quatre tâches principales; il s'agit de conceptualiser, ordonner, expliquer et, dans le mesure du possible, justifier les doctrines principales reconnues par la communauté faisant référence en matière de croyance. Dans ce cadre, il sera possible de mettre en lumière les différences entre les principales écoles, ainsi que les tendances qui distinguent certains de leurs grands maîtres respectifs. (shrink)
At the most general level I am interested in how we come to make sense of the world around us. Much of this research involves asking how intuitive explanations and understandings emerge in development and how they are related to notions of cause, mechanism and agency. These relations are linked to broader questions of what concepts are, how they change with development and increasing expertise and how they are structured in adults.
Resurrection has been used as the conceptual basis for attempted solutions to two problems that occur in the context of western theism, the problem of cognitive meaning and the problem of theodicy. Because John Hick has proposed resurrection as a solution to both problems so extensively, and because Antony Flew and Terence Penelhum have examined those solutions so strenuously, I will use their writings to lay out the problem. My aim is to improve upon Hick by overcoming a weakness in (...) his defence of resurrection. My narrower focus will be on resurrection and the ‘replica objection’, rather than the wider use of resurrection to solve problems of evil or the meaningfulness of theistic discourse, but some brief remarks on the wider problems will be necessary to set the stage. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is twofold: (i) to introduce the framework of update semantics and to explain what kind of semantic phenomena may successfully be analysed in it: (ii) to give a detailed analysis of one such phenomenon: default reasoning.
This article rebuts Ramsey's earlier theory, in 'Universals of Law and of Fact', of how laws of nature differ from other true generalisations. It argues that our laws are rules we use in judging 'if I meet an F I shall regard it as a G'. This temporal asymmetry is derived from that of cause and effect and used to distinguish what's past as what we can know about without knowing our present intentions.
Los teóricos de la democracia dejaron de lado la pregunta de quién legalmente forma parte del "pueblo" autorizado, pregunta que atraviesa a todas las teoría de la democracia y continuamente vivifica la práctica democrática. Determinar quién constituye el pueblo es un dilema inabordable e incluso imposible de responder democráticamente; no es una pregunta que el pueblo mismo pueda decidir procedimentalmente porque la propia premisa subvierte las premisas de su resolución. Esta paradoja del mandato popular revela que el pueblo para ser (...) mejor comprendido como una demanda política, como un proceso de subjetivación, surge y se desarrolla en distintos contextos democráticos. En Estados Unidos el disputado poder para hablar en beneficio del pueblo deriva de un excedente constitutivo heredado de la era revolucionaria, a partir del hecho de que desde la Revolución el pueblo ha sido por vez primera encarnado por la representación y como exceso de cualquier forma de representación. La autoridad posrevolucionaria del vox populi deriva de esa continuamente reiterada pero nunca realizada referencia a la soberanía del pueblo a partir de la representación, legitimidad a partir de la ley, espíritu a partir de la letra, la palabra a través de la palabra. Este ensayo examina la emergencia histórica de este exceso de democracia en el período revolucionario, y cómo este habilita a una subsecuente historia de "momentos constituyentes", momentos cuando subautorizados -radicales, entidades autocreadas-, se apoderan del manto de la autoridad, cambiando las reglas de la autoridad en ese proceso. Estos pequeños dramas de reclamos de autoridad política para hablar en nombre del pueblo son felices, aun cuando explícitamente rompan con los procedimientos o reglas estatuidas para representar la voz popular. -/- Momentos constituyentes: paradojas y poder popular en los Estados Unidos de América posrevolucionarios [traducción], Revista Argentina de Ciencia Política, N°15, EUDEBA, Buenos Aires, Octubre 2012, pp. 49-74. ISSN: 0329-3092. Introducción de “Constituent Moments: Enacting the People in Postrevolutionary America”, de Jason Frank [Ed.: Duke University Press Books, enero de 2010. ISBN-10: 0822346753; ISBN-13: 978-0822346753]. (shrink)
This essay considers Benjamin Rush's concern with the political organization of sympathy in post-Revolutionary America and how this concern shaped his response to the threat of post-Revolutionary “mobocracy.” Like many of his contemporaries, Rush worried about the contagious volatility of large public assemblies engendered by the Revolution. For Rush, regular gatherings of the people out of doors threatened to corrupt visions both of an orderly and emancipatory public sphere and of the virtuous and independent citizens required by republican government. Rush (...) feared that the unregulated communication of passion between bodies gathered in public might unleash what Michael Meranze has called an “anarchy of reciprocal imitations.” It was in eighteenth-century theories of sympathy that this idea of contagious mimesis was most rigorously developed and most widely disseminated. Rush's medico-political understanding of sympathy, acquired during his years as a medical student in Edinburgh, provides an important framework for understanding his post-Revolutionary reform efforts, particularly those focused on the spatial choreography of the American citizenry. (shrink)
A complete collection of Frank Sibley's articles on philosophical aesthetics, this volume includes five, remarkable, hitherto unpublished papers written in Sibley's later years. It addresses many topics, among them the nature of aesthetic qualities versus non-aesthetic qualities, the relation of aesthetic description to aesthetic evaluation, the different levels of evaluation, and the objectivity of aesthetic judgement. The later papers constitute both a significant development of Sibley's individual approach to aesthetics, such as his discussion of the distinction between attributive and (...) predicative uses of adjectives and of the aesthetic significance of tastes and smells, a topic Sibley considered to be much neglected. (shrink)
Prescriptive political and moral theories contain ideas about what human beings are like and about what, correspondingly, is good for them. Conceptions of human “nature” and corresponding human good enter into normative argument by way of support and justification. Of course, it is logically open for the ratiocinative traffic to run the other way. Strongly held convictions about the rightness or wrongness, goodness or badness, of certain social institutions or practices may help condition and shape one's responses to one or (...) another set of propositions about what people are like and what, in consequence, they have reason to value. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's genius, John Wisdom has suggested, was uniquely revealed in his ability to formulate such questions as ‘Could one play chess without the queen? Would it still be chess?’ The central questions raised by Richard Rorty's work may be cast in a parallel form: ‘Could one do philosophy without the notion of truth as “correspondence with the Real”? Would it still be philosophy?’ Both pairs of questions, Wittgenstein' and Rorty's, are quintessentially anti-essentialist. The scope and ingenuity of Rorty's ‘philosophy without (...) mirrors’ has challenged philosophers to reconf ront basic questions about the nature and purposes of philosophical inquiry. (shrink)
If any student, graduate or advanced undergraduate, should offer to delve deeper than survey samples and seriously “take on” the Transcendentalists, he or she would be well advised to begin with the histories by Barbara Packer and Philip Gura. For that matter, these sharply differing studies will undoubtedly provoke and clarify the thinking of even the most seasoned scholars, especially if they were to read these works against each other. The more specialized though no less interesting monograph by Elisabeth Hurth, (...) which is not offered as an introductory overview, nevertheless comprises a fully imagined history in its own right, as it places Transcendentalism in the context of crucial nineteenth-century German innovations in Protestant thought, and of the American movement's thence-derived tendency—as its critics alleged—to “atheism.” These three books, as a group, raise interesting questions about how literary history is now being written, what purposes such studies can serve, what coherence “Transcendentalism” might yet retain as a subject of useful historical inquiry, and what kind of importance the movement might have for readers today. (shrink)
_Language, Names, and Information_ is an important contribution to philosophy of language by one of its foremost scholars, challenging the pervasive view that the description theory of proper names is dead in the water, and defending a version of the description theory from a perspective on language that sees words as a wonderful source of information about the nature of the world we live in. Challenges current pervasive view that the description theory of reference for proper names has been refuted (...) Discusses several topics at the center of current debates, including representation and information, two-dimensionalism, possible worlds, and broad vs. narrow content Maintains the conversational and somewhat informal tone of the original lectures upon which the book is based. (shrink)