Do our lives have meaning? Should we create more people? Is death bad? Should we commit suicide? Would it be better if we were immortal? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Life, Death, and Meaning brings together key readings, primarily by English-speaking philosophers, on such 'big questions.'.
Do our lives have meaning? Should we create more people? Is death bad? Should we commit suicide? Would it be better to be immortal? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Since Life, Death, and Meaning: Key Philosophical Readings on the Big Questions first appeared, David Benatar's distinctive anthology designed to introduce students to the key existential questions of philosophy has won a devoted following among users in a variety of upper-level and even introductory courses.
"Peter Iver Kaufman is admirably and ideally qualified to undertake this project of reading More on politics in the light of Augustine on politics. In vigorous, well-paced prose, he tackles an important and original subject." —_Marcia L. Colish, Frederick B. Artz Professor of History, emerita, Oberlin College_ _“Incorrectly Political_ will attract readers not only because it is written with the author's characteristic flair and liveliness, but also because of his established capacity to bridge centuries of Western thought and (...) history. Written at the dawn of the new century, this book acquires deep resonance from the events unfolding around the world, circumstances to which Augustine’s and More's complex thoughts on political possibility still speak. If ever a study of such hoary figures from the Christian past deserved the label 'timely,' it is surely this one.” —_Kevin Madigan, Harvard University Divinity School_ Augustine in the fourth and fifth centuries and Thomas More in the sixteenth were familiar with the deceits and illusions that enabled even the most vile rulers to shore up their dignity and that gave repressive regimes an inviolability of sorts. Both men knew the politics of their times, both were involved in politics, and both were at one time politically ambitious. Augustine needed and made good use of government's powers of coercion and damage control in his struggle against the Donatists. The clear advantages of political protection and correction preoccupied More in his battle against Martin Luther. Both later changed their minds and believed, finally, the political imagination, based as it is on a desire for power, always and inevitably leads to devastation and suffering. Peter Iver Kaufman explains how and why we have failed to appreciate Augustine's and More's profound political pessimism, reintroducing readers to two of the Christian tradition's most enigmatic yet influential figures. Each had been disturbed by the reach of his own political ambitions—as by those of contemporaries. Each knew that government was useful—yet always deceitful. And each wrote a classic—widely read to this day, Augustine's _City of God_ and More's _Utopia,_as well as abundant correspondence and polemical tracts to explain why government on earth might be used, though never meaningfully improved. (shrink)
Differing findings exist on how Defining Issues Test scores relate to intelligence. Further study is needed in order to address aspects of intellect not previously considered and to address how these relationships rival studies that have compared indices of intellect with constructs similar to DIT scores. In the present study, a sample of 117 participants completed the DIT and the Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test , which assesses crystallised and fluid intelligence. Structural equation modelling offered supporting evidence that (...) these measurements represent separate sources of information. Statistically significant paths from KAIT crystallised indices to DIT scores were seen, though there was much overlap. Negligible paths were seen from KAIT fluid indices to DIT scores in the sample overall though this relationship strengthens when advanced moral judgement development is considered. Thus, the present study affirms the DIT's construct validity and illustrates how crystallised and fluid intellectual abilities pertain to DIT scores. (shrink)
Introduction -- Part I: The meaning of life -- Richard Taylor, The meaning of life -- Thomas Nagel, The absurd -- Richard Hare, Nothing matters -- W.D. Joske, Philosophy and the meaning of life -- Robert Nozick, Philosophy and the meaning of life -- David Schmidtz, The meanings of life -- Part II: Creating people -- Derek Parfit, Whether causing someone to exist can benefit this person -- John Leslie, Why not let life ecome extinct? -- James Lenman, On becoming (...) extinct -- David Benatar, Why it is better never to come into existence -- Part III: Death -- Stephen E. Rosenbaum, How to be dead and not care : a defense of epicurus -- GeorgePpitcher, The misfortunes of the dead -- Steven Luper, Annihilation -- Fred Fldman, Some puzzles about the evil of death -- FrederickKaufman, Pre-vital and post-mortem non-existence -- David B. Suits, Why death is not bad for the one who died -- Part IV: Suicide -- David Hume, Of suicide -- Immanuel Kant, Suicide and duty -- David Benatar, Suicide : a qualified defence -- Part V: Immortality -- James Lenman, Immortality : a letter -- Bernard Williams, The Makropulos case : reflections on the tedium of immortality -- John Martin Fischer, Why immortality is not so bad -- Christine Overall, from here to eternity : is it good to live forever? -- Part VI: Optimism and pessimism -- Margaret A. Boden, Optimism -- Michaelis Michael and Peter Caldwell, The consolations of optimism -- Bruce N. Waller, The sad truth : optimism, pessimism, and pragmatism -- Arthur Schopenhauer, On the suffering of the world. (shrink)
This "festschrift" brings together authors from various countries who are specialists in different disciplines within the humanities and who share a common vision of human life. These essays in philosophical speculation, political theory, literary criticism, and historical analysis are rooted in the western cultural heritage and Christian religious tradition. Major figures examined include Aristotle, Aquinas, Thomas More, John of the Cross, Donoso Cortes, and the Spanish Carlists. The interdisciplinary and cosmopolitan nature of this "festschrift" reflects the approach and style of (...) the man honored, Dr. Frederick D. Wilhelmsen. A special feature of the volume is a selection of critical studies of Professor Wilhelmsen's own work. (shrink)
In Justified Killing, Whitley R. P. Kaufman argues that none of the leading theories adequately explains why it is permissible even to kill an innocent attacker in self-defense, given the basic moral prohibition against killing the innocent. Kaufman suggests that such an explanation can be found in the traditional Doctrine of Double Effect, according to which self-defense is justified because the intention of the defender is to protect himself rather than harm the attacker.
Frederick F. Schmitt offers a new account of Hume's epistemology in A Treatise of Human Nature, which alternately manifests scepticism, empiricism, and naturalism. Critics have emphasised one of these positions over the others, but Schmitt argues that they can be reconciled by tracing them to an underlying epistemology of knowledge and probability.
Many environmental thinkers are torn in two opposing directions at once. For good reasons we are appalled by the damage that has been done to the earth by the ethos of heedless anthropocentric individualism, which has achieved its colossal feats of exploitation, encouraged to selfishness by its world view—of relation-free atoms—while chanting ‘reduction’ as its mantra. But also for good reasons we are repelled, at the other extreme, by environmentally correct images of mindless biocentric collectivisms in which precious personal values (...) are overridden for the good of some healthy beehive ‘whole’. (shrink)
Frederick C. Beiser presents the first book to be written on two of the most important idealist philosophers in Germany after Hegel: Adolf Trendelenburg and Rudolf Lotze. Beiser addresses every aspect of their philosophy-- logic, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics--and traces their intellectual development from their youth until their death.
Norbert Wiener has recently pointed out that the relation between God and man, according to orthodox Jewish and Christian theology, is analogous to the relation between men and ‘intelligent’ machines. God is supposed to have created man just as man has created machines. And just as God has endowed man with intelligence, creating him in his own image , so man has endowed the machine with intelligence—i.e. with problem solving capacities of a high order. Moreover, just as the endowment of (...) man with intelligence led to unintended, if not unforeseen developments , so the development of sophisticated computing machinery raises the possibility that some unintended and unwanted consequences may be forthcoming in the man-machine domain. Just such a possibility is realised in the recent film 2001: A Space Odyssey , where a quasi-human computer is represented as having both emotions and purposes of its own. Even though this particular film may be regarded as a bit far-fetched, in some respects, there are nonetheless many who, like Wiener, wonder whether the machines we have brought into being will always behave with reasonable predict ability, and in ways that will promote rather than frustrate human purposes. (shrink)
Gordon Kaufman's “constructive theology” can easily be taken out of context and misunderstood or misrepresented as a denial of God. It is too easily overlooked that in his approach everything is an imaginary construct given no immediate ontological status—the self, the world, and God are “products of the imagination.” This reflects an influence, not only of theories on linguistic and cultural relativism, but also of Kant's “ideas of pure reason.” Kaufman is explicit about this debt to Kant. But (...) I argue there are other aspects of Kant's legacy implicit in his method. These center around Kaufman's engagement with “observed patterns” in nature. With Paul Tillich's aid, I bring this neglected issue to the fore and argue that addressing it allows one to more readily capitalize upon the Kantian influence in Kaufman's method. This, in turn, encourages one to tap more deeply into the epistemic underpinnings of Kaufman's approach to the science–religion dialogue. (shrink)
In this thorough compendium, nineteen accomplished scholars explore, in some manner the values they find inherent in the world, their nature, and revelence through the thought of Frederick Ferré. These essays, informed by the insights of Ferré and coming from manifold perspectives—ethics, philosophy, theology, and environmental studies, advance an ambitious challenge to current intellectual and scholarly fashions.
In this thorough compendium, nineteen accomplished scholars explore, in some manner the values they find inherent in the world, their nature, and revelence through the thought of Frederick FerrZ. These essays, informed by the insights of FerrZ and coming from manifold perspectives—ethics, philosophy, theology, and environmental studies, advance an ambitious challenge to current intellectual and scholarly fashions.
Frederick G. Whelan relates Hume's political theory to the other parts of his philosophy, including his epistemology, his account of human nature, and his ethics, emphasizing the unity of the whole. Originally published in 1985. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal (...) of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905. (shrink)
Abstract: The symmetry argument is an objection to the 'deprivation approach'– the account of badness favored by nearly all philosophers who take death to be bad for the one who dies. Frederik Kaufman's recent response to the symmetry argument is a development of Thomas Nagel's suggestion that we could not have come into existence substantially earlier than we in fact did. In this paper, I aim to show that Kaufman's suggestion fails. I also consider several possible modifications of (...) his theory, and argue that they are unsuccessful as well. (shrink)
Hume's theory of government and allegiance falls into two parts. In its better known segment Hume explains the conjectural origin of government in general as a convention necessary to enforce the rules of justice and provide other public goods, and he grounds the general duty of allegiance on the utility of government in making stable social life possible. To his credit, however, Hume goes on to give separate treatment to the topic of what he terms the ‘objects of allegiance”, or (...) rules for assessing the legitimacy of particular political regimes or rulers. Given the general desirability of government and of obedience to it, we might nevertheless ask what entitles the particular government in existence to rule over us; more pressingly, there might be competing claimants to this position. What standards should guide our decision about where our allegiance is due when there is more than one alternative? (shrink)
Contrary to frequent declarations that descriptivism as a theory of how names refer is dead and gone, such a descriptivism is, to all appearances, alive and well. Or rather, a descendent of that doctrine is alive and well. This new version—neo-descriptivism, for short—is supposedly immune from the usual arguments against descriptivism, in large part because it avoids classical descriptivism’s emphasis on salient, first-come-to-mind properties and holds instead that a name’s reference-fixing content is typically given by egocentric properties specified in terms (...) of broadly causal relationships between a speaker and his environment: properties like being the actual individual called ‘Aristotle’ referred to by my informants’ use of the name, being the actual individual called ‘George Bush’ whom I have seen/heard described as the U.S. President who started the second Gulf War, and so on. names is not in contention.) What these neo-descriptivists claim is that the usual modal, semantical, and epistemological arguments against classical descriptivism don’t get much of a foothold against this new version, especially if we don’t insist that speakers be able to state these properties on demand. It is enough that these are properties implicit in the semantic judgments of speakers. Recent attacks notwithstanding, such a neo-descriptivism has struck many philosophers as a credible and worthy successor to classical descriptivism. (shrink)
When we think of the problem of ‘universals’, we tend first of all to identify this issue with medieval philosophy. In that period the arguments ran hot and heavy, and the result was that philosophers almost came to be classified according to the position each took about the relation between the individual and universal concepts. Of course, the fact is that the problem of universals has been important in every philosophical age in western thought. Metaphysics as an enterprise may rise (...) and fall in popularity, but the problem of universals is always with us. Yet, like most philosophical problems of importance, it has not always meant one thing. (shrink)
The doctrine of karma and rebirth is often praised for its ability to offer a successful solution to the Problem of Evil. This essay evaluates such a claim by considering whether the doctrine can function as a systematic theodicy, as an explanation of all human suffering in terms of wrongs done in either this or past lives. This purported answer to the Problem of Evil must face a series of objections, including the problem of anylackofmemoryofpastlives,the lack of proportionality between wrongdoing (...) and the observed suffering in the world, the problem of infinite regress of explanation, and the problem of compatibility of free will with karmic determinism. These objections, either separately or taken together, provide sufficient reason to doubt whether the doctrine of karma and rebirth can in fact provide a satisfactory theodicy. (shrink)
This article examines the rhetorical deployment of Darwinian natural selection by the Jewish social philosopher Horace M. Kallen, in what is now widely regarded as the first articulation of cultural pluralism, “Democracy versus the Melting-Pot”. My analysis proceeds in two steps. First, I identify specific strategies by means of which Kallen endeavored to insert his ideas more deeply into national discourse. I also trace reactions to his essay in the Jewish press, and argue that these indicate ongoing conversations concerning Kallen's (...) ideas, and they also reveal how he was reinterpreted for different reading audiences. Second, I argue that Kallen's strategy was to stress the survival value of cooperation rather than competition in natural selection, and he believed that this view supported both the natural biological inclinations of social groups and reflected American democratic values. Kallen's intervention serves as a striking example of how Darwinian natural selection was deployed to support Jewish participation in American life. (shrink)
Creativity pervades human life. It is the mark of individuality, the vehicle of self-expression, and the engine of progress in every human endeavor. It also raises a wealth of neglected and yet evocative philosophical questions: What is the role of consciousness in the creative process? How does the audience for a work for art influence its creation? How can creativity emerge through childhood pretending? Do great works of literature give us insight into human nature? Can a computer program really be (...) creative? How do we define creativity in the first place? Is it a virtue? What is the difference between creativity in science and art? Can creativity be taught? -/- The new essays that comprise The Philosophy of Creativity take up these and other key questions and, in doing so, illustrate the value of interdisciplinary exchange. Written by leading philosophers and psychologists involved in studying creativity, the essays integrate philosophical insights with empirical research. -/- CONTENTS -/- I. Introduction Introducing The Philosophy of Creativity Elliot Samuel Paul and Scott Barry Kaufman -/- II. The Concept of Creativity 1. An Experiential Account of Creativity Bence Nanay -/- III. Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art 2. Creativity and Insight Gregory Currie 3. The Creative Audience: Some Ways in which Readers, Viewers and/or Listeners Use their Imaginations to Engage Fictional Artworks Noël Carroll 4. The Products of Musical Creativity Christopher Peacocke -/- IV. Ethics & Value Theory 5. Performing Oneself Owen Flanagan 6. Creativity as a Virtue of Character Matthew Kieran -/- V. Philosophy of Mind & Cognitive Science 7. Creativity and Not So Dumb Luck Simon Blackburn 8. The Role of Imagination in Creativity Dustin Stokes 9. Creativity, Consciousness, and Free Will: Evidence from Psychology Experiments Roy F. Baumeister, Brandon J. Schmeichel, and C. Nathan DeWall 10. The Origins of Creativity Elizabeth Picciuto and Peter Carruthers 11. Creativity and Artificial Intelligence: a Contradiction in Terms? Margaret Boden -/- VI. Philosophy of Science 12. Hierarchies of Creative Domains: Disciplinary Constraints on Blind-Variation and Selective-Retention Dean Keith Simonton -/- VII. Philosophy of Education (& Education of Philosophy) 13. Educating for Creativity Berys Gaut 14. Philosophical Heuristics Alan Hájek. (shrink)
The attempt to study religion objectively has been part of the academic scene in the West for a century. Such men as F. Max Mueller, Edward Tylor, W. Brede Kristenson, Raffaele Peettazzoni, and Joachim Wach worked to develop such a truly scientific study of religion. They held that a study of religious data could reveal what religious life means for people who participate in it if methods are used which prevent a superimposition of the investigator's personal value judgments. At the (...) same time, there has been the recognition by some scholars, including some of the above, that there is something about religious life that cannot be investigated by normal empirical methods. This sense of the uniqueness of religion is symbolised in Rudolf Otto's book The Idea of the Holy , where he maintains that in order to understand religion in its innermost core, an investigator must recognise ‘a unique “numinous” category of value and of a definitely “numinous” state of mind’. Our concern here is to examine one problem arising from the claim that religious life must be studied in terms of its own intention, or category of value; and yet studied through an inductive method which allows for the distinctive character of different historical expressions of religion. (shrink)
Frederick Rosen presents an original study of John Stuart Mill's moral and political philosophy. He explores a range of key themes across the breadth of Mill's works, and considers Mill's complex relationships with his contemporary thinkers; the traditional sources on which he drew; and his influence on major thinkers of recent centuries.
Neo-Kantianism was an important movement in German philosophy of the late 19th century: Frederick Beiser traces its development back to the late 18th century, and explains its rise as a response to three major developments in German culture: the collapse of speculative idealism; the materialism controversy; and the identity crisis of philosophy.
Why should Gordon Kaufman's mid-career theological method be of renewed interest to contemporary theists? Two distinguishing characteristics of the West today are its increasing religious pluralism and the growing numbers of theists who rely on hybrid approaches to construct concepts of God. Kaufman's method is well suited to this current state of affairs because it is open to diverse religious and theological perspectives and to perspectives from science and secular humanism. It also militates against the weaknesses inherent to (...) hybrid approaches—ad hoc constructs of God unable to motivate their holders to overcome human self-centeredness and so to contribute to the well-being and fulfillment of others. It achieves this by providing checks to reduce the risk of producing human-writ-large God-constructs. Lastly, Kaufman's method provides criteria to help theists identify humane and humanizing experiences, relationships, concepts, images, and texts (i.e., the basic material from which God-constructs are fashioned) from the plethora of options available, whether religious, cultural, or secular. (shrink)