It is unfortunately a lot easier to raise an arch eyebrow than it is to describe critical terms that might account for the values in idealization while preserving a pluralistic sense of possible canons and their uses. Instead of facing the challenge directly, I shall rely on what I call a contrastive strategy. Were I simply to assert a traditional psychology with its attendant values, I would expose myself to a host of suspicious charges about my pieties and delusions. So (...) I shall begin by concentrating on the limitations I take to be inherent in the empiricism of the critical historicists’ position. If, by deflating idealization, their arguments prove reductive, they should provoke us to ask what it is they reduce. We will find ourselves forced back within the circle of literary and existential expectations I suspect most of us still share. But now we might appreciate the force and possible uses of that training when we measure it against all we cannot do if we accept an alternative stance. That we can measure at all, of course, may emerge as the most significant consequence of this experiment in using contrastive strategies.The subject of self-interest provides us with a clear test among these competing positions, and it establishes some of the psychological concepts we will need if we are to describe the cultural functions canons can serve. Critical historicism concentrates on two basic aspects of self-interest—the desire for power over others and the pursuit of self-representations that satisfy narcissistic demands. Out of these aspects, ideologies are generated and sustained. But this is hardly an exhaustive account of needs, motives, and powers. I propose that at least two other claims seem plausible, each with important consequences for our understanding of the canon—that some people can understand their empirical interests to a degree sufficient to allow them considerable control over their actions and that a basic motive for such control is to subsume one’s actions under a meaning the self can take responsibility for.4 4. I use the term “empirical interests” in what I take to be a Kantian sense. “Empirical” refers to interests one simply accepts as preferences, without any need for justification. These interests invite ideological analysis, since, for Kant, they come essentially from outside as heteronomous rather than autonomous features of a subject’s life. The opposite of “empirical,” in this sense, is interests one tries to rationalize on principles that, at some level, have criteria not selected by the agent and also applicable to some other agents. For a historical account of the concept of interests, see Albert O. Hirschman, The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism before Its Triumph. For a clear conceptual analysis of problems in attributing all motives to self-interest, see Paul W. Taylor, Principles of Ethics: An Introduction, chap. 3. Charles Altieri is professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Washington. He is the author of Act and Quality: A Theory of Literary Meaning and Humanistic Understanding and Self and Sensibility in Contemporary American Poetry and is presently working on value in ethics and esthetics. His previous contributions to Critical. (shrink)
If Milton is the grand expositor of human culture as a middle realm, Williams can be seen as in many respects his secular heir, an heir careful to work out how the poetic imagination serves to make man's expulsion from Edenic origins bearable and even invigorating. Williams' poetics begins, as Riddel makes clear, in the awareness that there is no inherent or even recoverable correspondence between words and facts in the world, but Williams then devotes most of his energies to (...) denying the metaphysical alternative to that position—the claim that all language can do is reflect on and play with the emptiness or fictiveness of its signifiers. If words do not copy but produce meanings, then they can be used significantly to focus our attention on the activities of the artist and his constructed characters as they engage in that process of production. The act of producing meanings can be the process by which to achieve another kind of reference, for the act of expression can itself become the focus generating a poem's significance by calling attention to the various ways authors and characters station themselves in relation to specific situations. Fiction then is not so much a term describing the ontological status of certain kinds of language but a term characterizing a particular way of using language to reflect upon forms of behavior in which we are not fully conscious of the quality of our activities. Williams' position on the artist's language is clearest in his frequent metaphor of the artist as farmer. The initial activity of both men is a kind of violence, an assertion of the difference between human desires and indifferent "blank fields." But what begins as antagonism does not result in the creation of self-referential fictive structures or the gay wisdom of maintaining and disseminating differences. Rather antagonism is the precondition for what Williams richly labels "composition": the farmer-poet organizes the blank field into a fertile, life-sustaining set of relationships which are not simply linguistic.1 · 1. Williams, Imaginations, ed. Webster Schott , pp. 98-99. Williams' image of arts as antagonistic composing has important parallels with the Russian Formalist concept of "defamiliarization," but for Williams it is not simply a scene but a total human act that is revealed by this process. Charles Altieri teaches modern literature and literary theory in the English department at the University of Washington. The author of Enlarging the Temple: New Directions in American Poetry of the 1960s, he has just completed a study of literary meaning. "Culture and Skepticism: A Response to Michael Fischer" was contributed to Critical Inquiry in the Winter 1979 issue. (shrink)
It is an irony perhaps worthy of John Ashbery that the critics who made his reputation as our premier contemporary poet have virtually ignored the innovations which in fact make his work distinctively of our time. The received terms show us how Ashbery revitalizes the old wisdom of Keats or the virile fantasies of Emersonian strength but they do so at the cost of almost everything about the work deeply responsive to irreducibly contemporary demands on the psyche. Such omissions not (...) only distance Ashbery from the urgencies of the present, they also make it far more difficult to appreciate just how the best contemporary art actually defines the challenges and possibilities created by that present. By banishing writers like Ashbery to literary tradition, we leave the domain of the postmodern to two dominant discourses. One is driven by post-structural theory’s idealization of the nomadic, the undecidable, and the profusion of simulacra. The other champions Marxist values which cast as the most significant contemporary art the rather slight oppositional devices of artists like Sherrie Levine, Hans Haacke, and Barbara Kruger. These critical idealizations then ignore what might be the central historical problem facing contemporary art. Can it continue to elaborate new dimensions of that late fifties postmodernism which set the values of Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg against the increasingly formalist versions of modernism that then dominated the art world and the poetry workshops? Or does the age demand the emergence of a new sensibility, strands of which are being woven in post-structuralist mills? Charles Altieri is professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Washington. Author of books on contemporary poetry and literary theory, he has just completed a book on abstraction in modern poetry and painting. This essay lays some groundwork for a book, Bourgeois Utopians, attempt to keep the arts central to our discussion of postmodernism. (shrink)
I have so far argued in terms of general principles. But they are not worth very much unless they help explain how a cultural account of values can preserve a public sphere of judgments that is not subject to Fischer's charges of arbitrariness, relativism, or confusing value and fact. I assume that I will have gone a long way toward answering Fischer if I can provide an adequate response to his question, "where [does] Williams' poem get its presumably public ideas (...) of honesty, self-knowledge, and faith," without relying on an external order of values human reason can know. For, Fischer suggests, without reference to that order of values there is no defensible way to justify combining objective description of details and evaluative predicates like "honest" and "self-aware." Charles Altieri, professor of English at the University of Washington, is the author of Enlarging the Temple: New Directions in American Poetry of the 1960s. "Presence and Reference in a Literary Text: The Example of [William Carlos] Williams' 'This is Just to Say'" was contributed to Critical Inquiry in the Spring 1979 issue. (shrink)
Postmodernism today is driven by a set of theoretical stances that grow increasingly problematic. But as the theoretical contradictions emerge, it becomes possible to contrast this theoretical discourse to the ambitions that initially led writers and artists to pursue their version of postmodern perspectives. So this book explores what remains viable and valuable in some representative versions of what these writers and artists created. Altieri begins with an essay defining five basic contradictions in postmodern theory and outlining specific artistic (...) strategies for dwelling with and within those contradictions. Part Two then sets the historical stage with two essays—one focusing on the efforts to overthrow late modernism by Jasper Johns and John Ashbery, the other tracing the emergence of a logic of contingency in the poetics of Robert Creeley, Frank O'Hara, and Sylvia Plath. With Part Three the focus shifts to essays proposing different value frameworks for postmodern poets, frameworks that range from moral philosophy to the resources of the tradition of love poetry. Part Four turns to visual artists first engaging the efforts to politicize the postmodern in the 1980s, then showing how Frank Stella's work can be put in dialogue with that of Jacques Derrida. Finally, the book swallows its own tail by proposing an argument that the only version of the sublime that today does not collapse into self-congratulation is the sublime of self-disgust. _Postmodernism Now_ holds out the possibility that the arts have been America’s richest negotiations of postmodernity, and it insists that criticism need not displace art into social allegories in order to develop their relevance to social life. (shrink)
Charles Altieri's Reckoning with the Imagination: Wittgenstein and the Aesthetics of Literary Experience addresses a perceived problem in literary theory.1 That problem is how to reintegrate practices of "close reading" in a field dominated by "grand theory": deconstruction, postcolonial studies, queer studies, New Historicism, and other regimens. Unlike the New Criticism that controlled the reading, writing, and teaching of serious literature in the United States through the 1940s and '50s, in which intricate analysis of text as text was all, (...)Altieri does not begrudge conceptual space to more expansive social-theoretical approaches. But he does deny their trump status, i.e., the idea that their forms of cultural... (shrink)
Frederick Griffith was an English bacteriologist at the Pathological Laboratory of the Ministry of Health in London who believed that progress in the epidemiology and control of infectious diseases would come only with more precise knowledge of the identity of the causative microorganisms. Over the years, Griffith developed and expanded a serological technique for identifying pathogenic microorganisms, which allowed the tracing of the sources of infectious disease outbreaks: slide agglutination. Yet Griffith is not remembered for his contributions to the biology (...) and epidemiology of infectious diseases so much as for discovering the phenomenon known as ‘transformation’. Griffith’s discovery, for many, was a pure case of serendipity whose biological relevance had also largely escaped him. In this paper, I argue that the key to understanding the significance of bacterial transformation – and the scientific legacy of Fred Griffith – rests not only on it initiating a cascade of events leading to molecular genetics but also on its implications for epidemiology based on the biology of host–parasite interactions. Looking at Griffith’s entire career, instead of focusing only on the transformation study, we can better appreciate the place of the latter within Griffith’s overall contributions. Presented in this way, Griffith’s experiment on bacterial transformation also ceases to appear as an anomaly, which in turn leads us to rethink some of the most prevalent historical conceptions about his work. (shrink)
This is a collection of ten of Fred Feldman’s previously published articles along with an introduction. The essays concern three main topics: the nature and structure of consequentialism, the nature of pleasure, and the moral relevance of desert. The introduction provides a very useful overview of how the pieces fit together and of their general significance. In addition, each article is preceded by a very crisp synopsis.
Fred D. Miller, Jr.'s stated goal for his new translation for the Oxford World's Classics series is, 'to provide a clear and accessible translation of Aristotle's psychological works while . . . conveying something of his distinctive style'. Not only does Miller achieve these goals in spades, but he also provides something more. His translation of Aristotle's De Anima and Parva Naturalia (the 'short works concerning nature'), along with twenty-three selected fragments from Aristotle's lost works and his 'Hymn to (...) Hermias', is elegant, philosophically sensitive, and informed by some of the best recent scholarly work on Aristotle's psychology and biology. (shrink)
This volume gathers essays by fourteen scholars, written to honor Fred Dallmayr and the contributions of his political theory. Stephen F. Schneck's introduction to Dallmayr's thinking provides a survey of the development of his work. Dallmayr's “letting be,” claims Schneck, is much akin to his reading of Martin Heidegger's “letting Being be,” and should be construed neither as a conservative acceptance of self-identity nor as a nonengaged indifference to difference. Instead, he explains, endeavoring to privilege neither identity nor difference, (...) the hermeneutic circle for Dallmayr must also be one of thoroughgoing critique and praxis. And, indeed, what joins together Dallmayr's many essays and explorations, what inheres within his “cosmopolitan” understanding of the contemporary world, and what lends his analyses their imperative, is this same “letting be.” "How many of us, over the last forty years, have opened up this or that book by Fred Dallmayr to acquaint ourselves with a new thinker or intellectual movement? It has happened to me several times. Each time, something else happens too. I become alert again to the distinctive and noble temper expressed in Dallmayr's work. _Letting Be_ consists of a series of essays by leading scholars who articulate and appreciate this temper, particularly as it has found expression in his thought about global politics work over the last two decades. This is a fine study, devoted to a thinker whose temper of critical responsiveness deserves wide emulation." —_William E. Connolly, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor, Johns Hopkins University_ _ _ "These essays constitute a marvelous, extended conversation on how political theory should delineate its future tasks. The reader is treated to a lively debate about a crucial set of questions: what strands of traditional Western political thought offer the best resources today; how do we think more comparatively about the foundations of political life; how do we engage more fruitfully Islamic, Indian, and_ mestizo_ contributions; and how do we best envision cross-cultural dialogue and imagine the shape of a "cosmopolis" in ways that will do greater justice to human dignity and diversity? All in all a rich feast honoring a remarkable man and scholar, Fred Dallmayr." —_Stephen K. White, James Hart Professor, University of Virginia_ “This is not the first Festschrift for Dallmayr, and it may not be the last, but it is the first that begins to be in a position to assess his long career with all its twists and turns. I have never fully understood Dallmayr as a creative thinker in his own right until now, and even when I sensed he was, I couldn't precisely say how. Now I can.” —_C. Fred Alford, University of Maryland_. (shrink)
Over the course of a career that has spanned more than fifty years, philosopher Fred Sommers has taken on the monumental task of reviving the development of Aristotelian logic after it was supplanted by the predicate logic of Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell. The enormousness of Sommers's undertaking can be gauged by the fact that most philosophers had come to believe -- as David S. Oderberg writes in his preface -- that "Aristotelian logic was good but is now as (...) good as dead." A revival of traditional syllogistic logic would involve not only its restatement but its refashioning into a system that could rival the elegance and deductive power of predicate logic. Building on work by medieval scholastic logicians, Leibniz, and nineteenth-century algebraic logicians, Sommers accomplished this renovation and rehabilitation of syllogistic logic with his magnum opus The Logic of Natural Language, published in 1982.In The Old New Logic, essays by a diverse group of contributors show how widely influential Sommers's work has been -- not only in logic, but in category theory and other areas. Scholars in psychology, linguistics, and computer science join philosophers and logicians in discussing aspects of Sommers's contributions to philosophy. Sommers himself provides an intellectual autobiography at the beginning and in the final chapter offers comments on the contributions. This collection should help bring to Sommers's work the attention it deserves from the wider philosophical and intellectual community. (shrink)
Reply to Alex Byrne and Fred Dretske Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9814-2 Authors Christopher S. Hill, Department of Philosophy, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Fred Adams : 619–628, 2010) criticizes the theory of embodied cognition which holds that conceptual and linguistic thought is grounded in the brain’s perceptual and sensorimotor systems. Among other things, Adams claims that: EC is potentially committed to an implausible criterion of sentence meaningfulness; EC lacks claimed advantages over rival accounts of conceptual thought; relevant experimental data do not show constitutive, but only causal, involvement of perception in conception; and EC cannot account for the comprehension of abstract concepts. I (...) respond to Adams that: EC is not committed to an implausible criterion of meaningfulness, though it may be committed to holding that comprehension admits of degrees; EC does have its claimed advantages over rival views; the data do make a strong case for constitutive involvement and a broad and comprehensive EC approach probably can account for the comprehension of abstract concepts. (shrink)
Fred Sommers passed away in October of 2014 in his 92nd year. Having begun his teaching at Columbia University, he eventually became the Harry A. Wolfson Chair in Philosophy at Brandeis University, where he taught from 1963 to 1993. During his long and productive career, Sommers authored or co-authored over 50 books, articles, reviews, etc., presenting his ideas on numerous occasions throughout North America and Europe. His work was characterized by a commitment to the preservation and application of historical (...) insights and to the value of a well-articulated, coherent logical system. He was recognized for his independence and refusal to accept any view on the basis of authority alone. This made him a formidable critic but accounted in part for his many innovative and original ideas. In spite of his general contrariness in logic, Sommers earned the respect of the majority of his contemporaries, including Russell, Quine, van Benthem, Hacking, Suppes, and Strawson. In 2005, he was the subjec... (shrink)
As an advocate of ‘comparative political theory,’ Fred Dallmayr has long engaged with Confucianism with a new vision for democracy suitable in East Asia but little attention has been paid to his idea of Confucian democracy, which he presents as a specific mode of ethical or relational democracy. This paper investigates Dallmayr’s ethical vision of Confucian democracy, first, by articulating his postmodern reconceptualization of democracy in terms of post-humanism and, second, by examining his post-humanist reevaluation of Confucian virtue ethics (...) as a critical resource for ethical democracy. It argues that the ethical vision of Confucian democracy, though morally appealing, should not dismiss the important instrumental value of democracy as a political system and, rather, find a way to integrate democracy’s instrumental and intrinsic values in a way that can enhance the qualitative relationality between people, political agents, and the common good. (shrink)
Fred Dretske asserts that the conscious or phenomenal experiences associated with our perceptual states—e.g. the qualitative or subjective features involved in visual or auditory states—are identical to properties that things have according to our representations of them. This is Dretske's version of the currently popular representational theory of consciousness . After explicating the core of Dretske's representational thesis, I offer two criticisms. I suggest that Dretske's view fails to apply to a broad range of mental phenomena that have rather (...) distinctive subjective or qualitative features. I also suggest that Dretske's view, in identifying conscious experiences with features of our perceptual states, casts its aim too low. It deflates further than it should and, in consequence, fails to capture what are arguably some of the most important phenomena associated with our conscious lives. (shrink)
This is a response by the author of Ethical Intuitionism to criticisms raised by Fred Seddon (Jars, Spring 2007). Among other things, Huemer observes that his attack on ethical reductionism does not depend upon excluding relational properties from consideration at the start; that he does not claim that all philosophers are intuitionists; and that Objectivism is susceptible to the general arguments he discusses against the possibility of deriving an "ought" from an "is".
Fred Dallmayr: Integral Pluralism: Beyond Culture Wars Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-8 DOI 10.1007/s10746-011-9190-0 Authors Megan Altman, Department of Philosophy, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA Journal Human Studies Online ISSN 1572-851X Print ISSN 0163-8548.
Like many readers, I sympathize with Charles Altieri's attempt in "Presence and Reference in a Literary Text"1 to correct Derrida's assimilation of poetry to linguistic "freeplay without origin." But Altieri's "middle ground" solution is at best a stopgap measure, delaying the deconstructionist project but not finally answering it. Altieri agrees with Derrida that "language is not primarily a set of pictures ideally mirroring a world" . But he resists the conclusion that for Derrida follows from this premise, (...) namely, that poems are consequently self-referential and antimimetic. Instead Altieri adopts a position between these two extremes, seeing in art the representation not of reality but of the "stances" we take toward our world. Poems reveal "the qualities of human actions" . In "This is Just to Say," for example, Williams constructs a "simple drama" which brings to light a speaker's "honesty, self-knowledge, and faith in his wife's understanding" . · 1. Charles Altieri, "Presence and Reference in a Literary Text: The Example of Williams' 'This is Just to Say,'" Critical Inquiry 5 : 489-510; all further references to this article will be included in this text. Michael Fischer is an assistant professor of English at the University of New Mexico. He has written on nineteenth- and twentieth-century modern critical theory and on the defense of poetry in modern criticism. (shrink)
Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for refusing to submit to Alabama law requiring racially segregated transport. Her arrest triggered the Montgomery bus boycott. Fred Gray, barely a year out of law school, represented her ? and for nearly half a century thereafter played a prominent role in almost every major civil rights case in the state. Gray?s key moral and legal commitment was grounded in opposition to segregation of every kind, based on the law in principle and the (...) US Constitution in particular. The early Gray was an idealist who advocated integration as the best means to break down segregation. The elder Gray, by contrast ? even while rejecting black?nationalist calls for separatism ? reflects an ideological shift away from untrammelled support for integration as such, to a more explicit focus on protecting the interests of the black community through the preservation of its institutions. (shrink)
"The main spine of this book stems from a comprehensive series of interviews with subjects recalling their experiences of 1930s cinemagoing. Your feel the breath of life in these spectators, a rarity in film studies, thanks to the painstaking work contracting the interview subjects and recording and tabulating their testimony."- JUMPCUT In the 1930s, Britain had the highest annual per capita cinema attendance in the world, far surpassing ballroom dancing as the nation's favorite pastime. It was, as historian A.J.P. Taylor (...) said, the "essential social habit of the age." And yet, although we know something about the demographics of British cinemagoers, we know almost nothing of their experience of film, how film affected them, how it fit into their daily lives, what role cinema played in the larger culture of the time, and in what ways cinemagoing shaped the generation that came of age in the 1930s. In Dreaming of Fred and Ginger , Annette Kuhn draws upon contemporary publications, extensive interviews with cinemagoers themselves, and readings of selected film, to produce a provocative and perspective-altering ethno-historical study. Taking cinemagoers' accounts of their own experiences as both "the engine and product of investigation," Kuhn enters imaginatively into the world of 1930s cinema culture and analyzes its place in popular memory. Among the topics she examines are the physical space of the cinemas; the role film played in growing up; the experience of being a member of a cinema audience; film-inspired fantasies of American life; the importance of cinema to adolescence in offering role models, ideals of romance, as well as practical opportunities for courtship; and the sheer pleasure of watching such film stars as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Nelson Eddy, Ronald Colman, and many others. Engagingly written and painstakingly researched, with contributions to film history, cultural studies, and social history, Dreaming of Fred and Ginger offers an illuminating account of a key moment in British cultural memory. (shrink)