For much of its history, philosophy was not merely a theoretical discipline but a way of life, an "art of living." This practical aspect of philosophy has been much less dominant in modernity than it was in ancient Greece and Rome, when philosophers of all stripes kept returning to Socrates as a model for living. The idea of philosophy as an art of living has survived in the works of such major modern authors as Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault. Each of (...) these writers has used philosophical discussion as a means of establishing what a person is and how a worthwhile life is to be lived. In this wide-ranging, brilliantly written account, Alexander Nehamas provides an incisive reevaluation of Socrates' place in the Western philosophical tradition and shows the importance of Socrates for Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault. Why does each of these philosophers—each fundamentally concerned with his own originality—return to Socrates as a model? The answer lies in the irony that characterizes the Socrates we know from the Platonic dialogues. Socratic irony creates a mask that prevents a view of what lies behind. How Socrates led the life he did, what enabled or inspired him, is never made evident. No tenets are proposed. Socrates remains a silent and ambiguous character, forcing readers to come to their own conclusions about the art of life. This, Nehamas shows, is what allowed Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault to return to Socrates as a model without thereby compelling them to imitate him. This highly readable, erudite study argues for the importance of the tradition within Western philosophy that is best described as "the art of living" and casts Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Foucault as the three major modern representatives of this tradition. Full of original ideas and challenging associations, this work will offer new ways of thinking about the philosophers Nehamas discusses and about the discipline of philosophy itself. (shrink)
Critical Theory constitutes one of the major intellectual traditions of the twentieth century, and is centrally important for philosophy, political theory, aesthetics and theory of art, the study of modern European literatures and music, the history of ideas, sociology, psychology, and cultural studies. In this volume an international team of distinguished contributors examines the major figures in Critical Theory, including Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Benjamin, and Habermas, as well as lesser known but important thinkers such as Pollock and Neumann. The volume (...) surveys the shared philosophical concerns that have given impetus to Critical Theory throughout its history, while at the same time showing the diversity among its proponents that contributes so much to its richness as a philosophical school. The result is an illuminating overview of the entire history of Critical Theory in the twentieth century, an examination of its central conceptual concerns, and an in-depth discussion of its future prospects. (shrink)
The primary task confronting an examination of the claimed connection between Kant's general theory of cognition and his account of aesthetic judgment requires clarifying perhaps the most obscure component of that account, the doctrine of the harmony of the faculties. Kant's presentation of this doctrine makes it notoriously difficult to penetrate. Much of what Kant says about the harmony of the faculties – perhaps the very phrase “the harmony of the faculties” – is rather imprecise and metaphorical. Yet, the importance (...) of a correct understanding of the harmony of the faculties to assessing both the merits of Kant's aesthetic theory and his claims for the epistemological significance of reflection is difficult to overstate, for it is precisely this state of harmony that ultimately grounds the validity of judgments of taste and does so in virtue of being a state in which the most general prerequisites to conceptual judgment are present. (shrink)
Much critical attention to the Dialectic of the Critique of Pure Reason is devoted to two related concerns. The first is Kant's skeptical attack on the claims of pure reason to epistemic authority, where the focus is on the paralogisms and the antinomies of pure reason. The second involves Kant's refutation of idealism. These two concerns are of course intimately connected with one another and there are various ways to express that interconnection. Perhaps most generally it can be said that (...) Kant's assessment of reason in these two contexts is negative: it argues for the limitation of reason's claim to unbridled application and views reason as a faculty whose native propensity to seek such employment must be checked. Reason, as it turns out, is the great metaphysical impostor, whose representations, the ideas, have no epistemic warrant whatsoever. For it is the essence of Kant's position in the Dialectic that metaphysical conundra cannot be solved so long as reason arrogates to itself a direct and unrestricted epistemic or cognitive role and that reason ought to forebear from assigning itself any such status. Such a self-restriction of reason is, additionally, transcendentally necessary because it is that very limitation, Kant argues, that constitutes transcendental critique. (shrink)
Fred Rush investigates the historical and conceptual structure of the development of a distinctive conception of irony in early- to mid-nineteenth century European philosophy. He explores the thought of Schlegel and Novalis, Hegel and Kierkegaard, and argues that the development of irony in this period offered an alternative to German idealism.
Architecture is a philosophical puzzle. Although we spend most of our time in buildings, we rarely reflect on what they mean or how we experience them. With some notable exceptions, they have generally struggled to be taken seriously as works of art compared to painting or music and have been rather overlooked by philosophers. In On Architecture , Fred Rush argues this is a consequence of neglecting the role of the body in architecture. Our encounter with a building is first (...) and foremost a bodily one; buildings are lived-in, communal spaces and their construction reveals a lot about our relation to the environment as a whole. Drawing on examples from architects classic and contemporary such as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, and exploring the significance of buildings in relation to film and music and philosophers such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, Fred Rush argues that philosophical reflection on building can tell us something important about the human condition. (shrink)
Nikolas Kompridis' Critique and Disclosure is a sustained argument for the proposition that critical social theory in the tradition of the Frankfurt School is best carried forward by rejecting central aspects of Habermas' neo-Kantian version of it. The most promising future direction for critical theory according to Kompridis involves a reconsideration of the resources of hermeneutic phenomenology, especially renewed attention to the Heideggerian concept ‘disclosure’. To this end, Kompridis develops a distinctive dialectical version of this concept. I agree that Kantian (...) versions of critical theory are philosophically suspect, and that critical theory is most conceptually vital and politically trenchant when turned away from ‘discourse ethics' and the like. I am a bit less sanguine than is Kompridis with a turn to Heidegger, however, and raise several issues having to do with that aspect of Kompridis' account. This caution is not rooted simply in the historical fact that critical theory from its inception has attempted to immunize itself against phenomenology; it is rather a conceptual matter. In my judgment, Kompridis does not need to develop, as he does, an intricate account of overlap between what he holds best about critical theory and Heidegger’s ontology. If one were looking for historical antecedents that do not come freighted with what Horkheimer derided as ‘irrationalism’, one would do better to investigate early German Romanticism, in which there is an explicitly interpretive yet dialectical methodology on offer. Moreover, the central doctrines of Jena Romanticism exhibit more positive points of contact with the earlier, more skeptical forms of critical theory that Kompridis might favor, e.g. Adorno’s. (shrink)
Terrence Malick’s widespread use of voiceover is generally noted, as is its nonstandard bearing. Malick’s use of voiceover is non-standard in virtue of its loose narrative fit. That too is often marked. Much less discussed is the philosophical basis for Malick’s voiceover, more specifically its ontological function in bounding the filmworld with intentionality. This paper addresses such ontological questions. It first develops a general schema for voiceover and Malick’s use of it in several of his films. Malick’s discovery of the (...) potential for oblique forms of voiceover in Truffaut is treated. The discussion then focuses on the film Days of Heaven and, in particular, on an undiscussed and easy to miss visual riddle in one of the key scenes, involving the marriage of two of the principal characters. The riddle concerns an inscription in what for most viewers will be indecipherable symbols written on a backdrop formed by the side of a wagon. It turns out that the inscription is in Blackfoot syllabary and translates the opening of the Te Deum prayer. The paper argues that the inscription is best understood as a cousin to voiceover and, in particular, to Malick’s conception of voiceover. The inscription has, accordingly, an ontological and critical function in conjunction with the scene it accompanies. The paper concludes with remarks concerning The New World, a Malick film that includes several prayers in voiceover and more comprehensively and resolutely represents the linguistic presence and expressiveness of Native Americans. (shrink)
Beginning with his work in the mid-1930s, Heidegger's later thought is generally considered to pose severe interpretative difficulties, even for those well acquainted with Being and Time. It is often claimed that his later thought either defies reconstruction because of its arcane nature or that it should not be reconstructed because doing so compromises its subtleties. It is argued that this 'availability problem' with Heidegger's later thought is not insurmountable, at least not with regard to one of its major strands, (...) his views on the relation of art to truth. An interpretation of 'The Origin of the Work of Art' is proposed that views its major arguments as extensions of Heidegger's view on truth and the nature of worlds in Being and Time. To this end, a new account of the relationship of two pairs of terms crucial to the understanding of the ontological significance of the work of art and its truth is offered: (a) 'earth' and 'world' and (b) 'concealment' and 'un-concealment'. What emerges is a Kant-like claim that a necessary condition for the possibility of worlds is that things stand to be taken up into worlds in virtue of a character they have abstracted from their involvements in any one world. Artworks, if they are 'true' art, show this by allowing the thing that they are to support a wide range of possible understandings, displaying the fact that no one set of understandings can exhaust the 'thingly' nature of the work. In addition to clarifying that aspect of Heidegger's account of truth that requires un-concealment to depend on residual concealment, this understanding of the structure of the artwork accounts for the power Heidegger ascribes to certain art to inaugurate worlds. I conclude by making some suggestions, against the background of the interpretation of the art essay, on how to understand the 'turn' in Heidegger's thought as a deepening inquiry into the nature of truth. (shrink)
The thesis provides a new interpretation of Kant's claims for the epistemological significance of aesthetic judgment. I argue that the harmony of the imagination and the understanding in aesthetic judgment consists in a potentially unending activity of mental modeling, or "exhibiting," of figures corresponding to possible conceptual determinations of the perceptual form of a beautiful object. Since Kant holds just this capacity to exhibit concepts as figures in intuition to be a prerequisite to empirical conception, judgments of taste are based (...) on an activity underlying all cognition. ;I then turn to another area in which Kant claims a close connection between reflection and conception--his analysis of empirical concept formation and application. Kant states that we must presuppose a principle of reflective judgment in order to insure the discoverability of natural regularity. Kant recognizes that transcendental under-determines empirical law, but determining the extent to which Kant thinks this is true is of the utmost importance. Untempered, Kant's broad claims that the principle is necessary for the capacity to form and apply empirical concepts commits him to the un-Kantian position that a reflective principle is constitutive and not merely regulative. I find, however, that the principle is not required for the formation and application of any empirical concepts, but rather for those that purport to correspond to empirically real properties of things. ;Last, I place Kant's theory of reflection in a historical context, considering one Idealist criticism of it--that of Hegel in Faith and Knowledge. I argue that Hegel's Kant critique is best understood as an attempt to overturn the delicate balance Kant sought to strike in according a transcendentally necessary principle merely regulative status. (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)
Fichte was at the height of his philosophical activity and influence during the last decade of the eighteenth century in Jena. It was during this period that he developed his idea of a Wissenschaftslehre or a “science of knowledge.” A Wissenschaftslehre is an ongoing investigation by subjects of their subjectivity which may be captured only imperfectly in medias res in the form of a written document, but which is crucially not identical with any written philosophical text. So Fichte distinguishes between (...) Wissenschaftslehre and its presentations. In the Jena period Fichte completed two such presentations. The first, the Grundlage der gesammten Wis-senschaftslehre [WL], contains the famous analysis of the preconditions for consciousness in terms of the posits of I and not-I and their reciprocal limitation. Fichte became dissatisfied with his treatment of the central problems in the 1794 version and began working on a second version in 1796. Only two introductions and the first chapter of this new presentation appeared in print. Due to his dawning belief that philosophy was appropriately done solely in oral or dialogic form and the psychic toll of the “atheism controversy” that led to his dismissal from Jena in 1799, by the early 1800's Fichte abandoned plans to publish the entire second presentation. Lectures on the entire second presentation given in 1796-9, the Wissenschaftslehre nova methodo [WLnm], are preserved, however, in two sets of student notes. The importance of the discovery of these notes is difficult to overestimate. WLnm develops new and more convincing positions on such fundamental issues as the nature of subjectivity, the unity of reason, and the relation between self-consciousness and intersubjectivity that greatly enhance Fichte's historical status and his relevance to contemporary debates on a variety of philosophical concerns. (shrink)
Freedom is the central theme of classical German philosophy. Kant s theory of freedom as a function of autonomy provided the first theoretical framework that expressed the political turn in self-understanding emerging from the French Revolution. For champions of philosophy who came after Kant, freedom became a fundamental element in their philosophical systems. Volume 9 of the Internationalen Jahrbuchs des Deutschen Idealismus/International Yearbook of German Idealism addresses different interpretations of the notion of freedom that were put forward in Kant s (...) aftermath. It also demonstrates the degree to which the concept of freedom continues to be of current relevance in our times.". (shrink)
Kants Vernunftkritik hat das Wissen zugunsten des Glaubens aufgehoben. Angeregt vor allem durch F.H. Jacobi, wird das Verhältnis von Glauben und Vernunft in der Philosophie nach Kant erneut zu einem zentralen Thema. Zur Entscheidung stehen die Fragen, ob der Glaube das Fundament von Wissen sein kann, ob der Glaube eine Grenze der Vernunft markiert oder ob eine absolut ges.
The contributions to volume 8 of the Internationales Jahrbuch des Deutschen Idealismus/International Yearbook of German Idealism pursue from various perspectives the multifarious relations of German Idealism to the natural sciences and mathematics. The concepts of nature and of the basis for mathematics develop complexly in German philosophy after Kant. At issue are: the foundation of mathematics; the relation of freedom to nature; the significance of philosophy to emerging research in biology, chemistry, and physics, and reconsideration of the thought of Leibniz (...) and Spinoza. Contributors: Gideon Freudenthal, Michael Friedman, Hans-Peter Neumann, Wolfgang Neuser, Konstantin Pollok, Sebastian Rand, Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer, Thomas Sturm, Lars-Thade Ulrichs, Eric Watkins, John Zammito, Paul Ziche, Rachel Zuckert. (shrink)