The idea of a higher level phenomenon having a downward causal influence on a lower level process or entity has taken a variety of forms. In order to discuss the relation between emergence and downward causation, the specific variety of the thesis of downward causation (DC) must be identified. Based on some ontological theses about inter-level relations, types of causation and the possibility of reduction, three versions of DC are distinguished. Of these, the `Strong' form of DC is held to (...) be in conflict with contemporary science; the `Medium' version of DC may for instance describe thoughts constraining neurophysiological states, while the `Weak' form of DC is physically acceptable but may not in practice be a feasible description of the mind/brain or the cell/molecule relation. All forms have their specific problems, but the Medium and the Weak version seems to be most promising. (shrink)
This essay – a collection of contributions from 10 scholars working in the field of biosemiotics and the humanities – considers nature in culture. It frames this by asking the question ‘Why does biosemiotics need the humanities?’. Each author writes from the background of their own disciplinary perspective in order to throw light upon their interdisciplinary engagement with biosemiotics. We start with Donald Favareau, whose originary disciplinary home is ethnomethodology and linguistics, and then move on to Paul Cobley’s contribution on (...) general semiotics and Kalevi Kull’s on biosemiotics. This is followed by Cobley with FrederickStjernfelt who contribute on biosemiotics and learning, then Gerald Ostdiek from philosophy, and Morten Tønnessen focusing upon ethics in particular. Myrdene Anderson writes from anthropology, while Timo Maran and Louise Westling provide a view from literary study. The essay closes with Wendy Wheeler reflecting on the movement of biosemiotics as a challenge, often via the ecological humanities, to the kind of so-called ‘postmodern’ thinking that has dominated humanities critical thought in the universities for the past 40 years. Virtually all the matters gestured to in outline above are discussed in much more satisfying detail in the topics which follow. (shrink)
The following two review papers have a common origin. Pietarinen’s book Signs of Logic and Stjernfelt’s book Diagrammatology were both published in the same Synthese Library Series being published by Springer. The two books also share the common topic of diagrammatic reasoning in Charles Peirce’s work. Beginning in a conference Applying Peirce held in Helsinki in conjunction with the World Congress of Semiotics in June 2007, two authors have commented upon these books under the headline of Synthese Library Book (...) Session on several occasions, including the Aarhus meeting on Signs and Meaning held in February 2008, the Diagrammatology and Diagram Praxis workshop in Lisboa in March 2009, and the Peirce and Early Analytic Philosophy symposium in Helsinki in June 2009. Therefore, these two review papers form a continuing discussion on the contributions Peirce’s diagrammatic epistemology and logic will have to a broad range of issues at the intersections of philosophy, logic, cognitive sciences and beyond. (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)
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)
Based on the conception of life and semiosis as co-extensive an attempt is given to classify cognitive and communicative potentials of species according to the plasticity and articulatory sophistication they exhibit. A clear distinction is drawn between semiosis and perception, where perception is seen as a high-level activity, an integrated product of a multitude of semiotic interactions inside or between bodies. Previous attempts at finding progressive trends in evolution that might justify a scaling of species from primitive to advanced levels (...) have not met with much success, but when evolution is considered in the light of semiosis such a scaling immediately catches the eye. The main purpose of this paper is to suggest a scaling of this progression in semiotic freedom into a series of distinct steps. The elleven steps suggested are: 1) molecular recognition, 2) prokaryote-eukaryote transformation, 3) division of labor in multicellular organisms, 4) from irritability to phenotypic plasticity, 5) sense perception, 6) behavioral choice, 7) active information gathering, 8) collaboration, deception, 9) learning and social intelligence, 10) sentience, 11) consciousness. In light of this, the paper finally discusses the conceptual framework for biosemiotic evolution. The evolution of biosemiotic capabilities does not take the form of an ongoing composition of simple signs into composite wholes. Rather, it takes the shape of the increasing subdivision and control of a primitive, holophrastic perception-action circuit already committed to “proto-propositions” reliably guiding action already in the most primitive species. (shrink)
The paper gives a detailed reconstruction and discussion of Peirce’s doctrine of propositions, so-called Dicisigns, developed in the years around 1900. The special features different from the logical mainstream are highlighted: the functional definition not dependent upon conscious stances nor human language, the semiotic characterization extending propositions and quasi-propositions to cover prelinguistic and prehuman occurrences of signs, the relations of Dicisigns to the conception of facts, of diagrammatical reasoning, of icons and indices, of meanings, of objects, of syntax in Peirce’s (...) logic-as-semiotics. (shrink)
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)
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)
Hegel is one of the major philosophers of the nineteenth century. Many of the major philosophical movements of the twentieth century - from existentialism to analytic philosophy - grew out of reactions against Hegel. He is also one of the hardest philosophers to understand and his complex ideas, though rewarding, are often misunderstood. In this magisterial and lucid introduction, Frederick Beiser covers every major aspect of Hegel's thought. He places Hegel in the historical context of nineteenth-century Germany whilst clarifying (...) the deep insights and originality of Hegel's philosophy. A masterpiece of clarity and scholarship, _Hegel_ is both the ideal starting point for those coming to Hegel for the first time and essential reading for any student or scholar of nineteenth century philosophy. Additional features: glossary chapter summaries chronology annotated further reading. (shrink)
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.
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.
Two different concepts of iconicity compete in Peirce's diagrammatical logic. One is articulated in his general reflections on the role of diagrams in thought, in what could be termed his diagrammatology — the other is articulated in his construction of Existential Graphs as an iconic system for representing logic. One is operational and defines iconicity in terms of which information may be derived from a given diagram or diagram system — the other has stronger demands on iconicity, adding to the (...) operational criterion a demand for as high a degree of similarity as possible and may be termed optimal iconicity. Peirce himself does not clearly distinguish these two iconicity notions, a fact that has caused some confusion. By isolating them, we get a clearer and more refined conceptual apparatus for analyzing iconic signs, from pictures to logic. (shrink)
This is the first full study in English of the German historicist tradition. Frederick C. Beiser surveys the major German thinkers on history from the middle of the eighteenth century until the early twentieth century, providing an introduction to each thinker and the main issues in interpreting and appraising his thought. The volume offers new interpretations of well-known philosophers such as Johann Gottfried Herder and Max Weber, and introduces others who are scarcely known at all, including J. A. Chladenius, (...) Justus Möser, Heinrich Rickert, and Emil Lask. Beyond an exploration of the historical and intellectual context of each thinker, Beiser illuminates the sources and reasons for the movement of German historicism—one of the great revolutions in modern Western thought, and the source of our historical understanding of the human world. (shrink)
This paper addresses the concept of semiotic scaffolding by considering it in light of questions arising from the contemporary challenge to the humanities. This challenge comes from a mixture of scientistic demands, opportunism on the part of Western governments in thrall to neo-liberalism, along with crass economic utilitarianism. In this paper we attempt to outline what a theory of semiotic scaffolding may offer to an understanding of the humanities’ contemporary role, as well as what the humanities might offer to the (...) elucidation of semiotic scaffolding. We argue that traditional humanist positions adopted in defence of the humanities fail to articulate the enhancement of humanity that semiotic scaffolding represents. At the same time, we note that the concept of scaffolding is sometimes in danger of taking on a functionalist perspective which understanding the humanities modus operandi is likely to dispel. Putting forward these arguments, we draw on the work of Peirce, Cassirer and Sebeok in elucidating the structural and ‘future-orientated’ benefits of the scaffolding process as it suffuses the humanities. (shrink)
In Knowledge and Belief, Frederick Schmitt explores the nature and value of knowledge and justified belief through an examination of the dispute between epistemological internalism and externalism. Knowledge and justified belief are naturally viewed as belief of a sort likely to be true--an externalist view. It is also intuitive, however, to view them as an internal matter; justification must be accessible to the subject or constituted by the subject's epistemic perspective. The author argues against the view that internalism is (...) the historically dominant epistemology by examining closely the epistemological principles that underlie the treatment of skepticism in Plato, the Academic and Pyrrhonian skeptics, Descartes and Hume. Schmitt develops a sustained, detailed argument against many forms of internalism in favor of a reliabilist/externalist epistemology. His version of reliabilism, though strictly externalist, accommodates and explains the most durable intuitions alleged to support internalism. Knowledge and Belief assumes no knowledge of epistemology or its history. Readers of philosophy will find this an excellent introduction to ancient and modern epistemology; this systematic study of the internalist and externalist debate is the first of its kind. (shrink)
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.
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.
Histories of German philosophy in the nineteenth century typically focus on its first half--when Hegel, idealism, and Romanticism dominated. By contrast, the remainder of the century, after Hegel's death, has been relatively neglected because it has been seen as a period of stagnation and decline. But Frederick Beiser argues that the second half of the century was in fact one of the most revolutionary periods in modern philosophy because the nature of philosophy itself was up for grabs and the (...) very absence of certainty led to creativity and the start of a new era. In this innovative concise history of German philosophy from 1840 to 1900, Beiser focuses not on themes or individual thinkers but rather on the period's five great debates: the identity crisis of philosophy, the materialism controversy, the methods and limits of history, the pessimism controversy, and the Ignorabimusstreit. Schopenhauer and Wilhelm Dilthey play important roles in these controversies but so do many neglected figures, including Ludwig Büchner, Eugen Dühring, Eduard von Hartmann, Julius Fraunstaedt, Hermann Lotze, Adolf Trendelenburg, and two women, Agnes Taubert and Olga Pluemacher, who have been completely forgotten in histories of philosophy. The result is a wide-ranging, original, and surprising new account of German philosophy in the critical period between Hegel and the twentieth century. (shrink)
Weltschmerz is a study of the pessimism that dominated German philosophy in the second half of the nineteenth century. Pessimism was essentially the theory that life is not worth living, and was introduced into German philosophy by Schopenhauer. Frederick C. Beiser examines the intense and long controversy that arose from Schopenhauer's pessimism, which changed the agenda of philosophy in Germany away from the logic of the sciences and toward an examination of the value of life. He examines the major (...) defenders of pessimism and its chief critics, especially Eugen Dühring and the neo-Kantians. The pessimism dispute of the second half of the century has been largely ignored in secondary literature and this book is a first attempt since the 1880s to re-examine it and to analyze the important philosophical issues raised by it. The dispute concerned the most fundamental philosophical issue of them all: whether life is worth living. (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.
FRÉDÉRICK ARMSTRONG | : It is common to see vulnerability as either “ontological” or broadly “circumstantial.” Both views capture something morally important about vulnerability. However, there is a puzzle: how can the same concept refer to a necessary ontological fact and to a contingent circumstance? I address two solutions to this puzzle. First, I argue that Mackenzie et al.’s taxonomy of vulnerability is not a real solution. Second, I address Martin et al.’s dispositional account of vulnerability. For them, vulnerability is (...) both an intrinsic property and a disposition. This supposedly solves the puzzle: vulnerability can be intrinsic and yet be manifest in only some circumstances—such is the nature of dispositions. However, I argue that if vulnerability is indeed a disposition, it is better conceived as an extrinsic disposition. Thus, vulnerability cannot be both intrinsic and dispositional; Martin et al. fail to resolve the puzzle. This, however, is no reason to fret. Indeed, an amended dispositional account of vulnerability, in which it is conceived as an extrinsic disposition, is metaphysically consistent and it satisfies our moral intuitions about human vulnerability, and more. Given these advantages, I argue the solution to this dilemma is to abandon the ontological conception of vulnerability. | : La vulnérabilité est souvent présentée comme une propriété « ontologique » ou comme une propriété « circonstancielle ». Ces deux conceptions saisissent des aspects moralement significatifs de la vulnérabilité. Il y a cependant un puzzle : comment peut-elle être, en même temps, un fait ontologique nécessaire et une donnée circonstancielle contingente? J’explore deux solutions. Premièrement, je montre que la taxonomie de Mackenzie et al. n’est pas une solution. Ensuite, je présente l’approche dispositionnelle de Martin et al.. Selon elles, la vulnérabilité est une propriété intrinsèque et dispositionnelle. Cela résoudrait le puzzle : la vulnérabilité peut être intrinsèque et n’être manifeste qu’en des circonstances particulières – telle est la nature des dispositions. Or, la vulnérabilité, si on la conçoit comme une disposition, est mieux conçue comme extrinsèque. La vulnérabilité ne peut pas être dispositionnelle et intrinsèque, donc Martin et al. échouent. Il n’y a toutefois pas là lieu de s’inquiéter. Une version amendée de l’approche dispositionnelle, où la vulnérabilité est conçue comme une disposition extrinsèque, est métaphysiquement cohérente, compatible avec l’ensemble de nos intuitions morales sur la vulnérabilité humaine et plus encore. Étant données ces avantages, la solution au puzzle est d’abandonner la conception ontologique de la vulnérabilité. (shrink)
Following Wiggins’ seminal article, On Being in the Same Place at the Same Time, this article presents the first comprehensive account of the relation of material constitution, an asymmetrical, transitive relation which totally orders distinct ‘entities’ (individuals, pluralities or masses of stuff) which ‘spatially coincide.’ Their coincidence in space is explained by a recursive definition of ‘complete-composition’, weaker than strict mereological indiscernibility, which also explains the variety of logically independent similarities in such cases. This account is ‘analytical’, dealing with ‘putative’ (...) cases in general. The main strategy is to rationally reconstruct Aristotle’s notion of material cause. It is developed more fully with a theory of how to justify admitting generable and perishable things into the natural world, in The Kinds of Things: A Theory of Personal Identity Based on Transcendental Argument (Open Court, 1996). (shrink)
In this comprehensive assessment of Kant's metaethics, Frederick Rauscher shows that Kant is a moral idealist rather than a moral realist and argues that Kant's ethics does not require metaphysical commitments that go beyond nature. Rauscher frames the argument in the context of Kant's non-naturalistic philosophical method and the character of practical reason as action-oriented. Reason operates entirely within nature, and apparently non-natural claims - God, free choice, and value - are shown to be heuristic and to reflect reason's (...) ordering of nature. The book shows how Kant hesitates between a transcendental moral idealism with an empirical moral realism and a complete moral idealism. Examining every aspect of Kant's ethics, from the categorical imperative to freedom and value, this volume argues that Kant's focus on human moral agency explains morality as a part of nature. It will appeal to academic researchers and advanced students of Kant, German idealism and intellectual history. (shrink)
This book investigates the nature of aesthetic experience and aesthetic objects. Written by leading philosophers, psychologists, literary scholars and semioticians, the book addresses two intertwined issues. The first is related to the phenomenology of aesthetic experience: The understanding of how human beings respond to artworks, how we process linguistic or visual information, and what properties in artworks trigger aesthetic experiences. The examination of the properties of aesthetic experience reveals essential aspects of our perceptual, cognitive, and semiotic capacities. The second issue (...) studied in this volume is related to the ontology of the work of art: Written or visual artworks are a specific type of objects, containing particular kinds of representation which elicit a particular kind of experience. The research question explored is: What properties in artful objects trigger this type of experience, and what characterizes representation in written and visual artworks? The volume sets the scene for state-of-the-art inquiries in the intersection between the psychology and ontology of art. The investigations of the relation between the properties of artworks and the characteristics of aesthetic experience increase our insight into what art is. In addition, they shed light on essential properties of human meaning-making in general. (shrink)
This book is the first translation into English of the Reflections which Kant wrote whilst formulating his ideas in political philosophy: the preparatory drafts for Theory and Practice, Toward Perpetual Peace, the Doctrine of Right, and Conflict of the Faculties; and the only surviving student transcription of his course on Natural Right. Through these texts one can trace the development of his political thought, from his first exposure to Rousseau in the mid 1760s through to his last musings in the (...) late 1790s after his final system of Right was published. The material covers such topics as the central role of freedom, the social contract, the nature of sovereignty, the means for achieving international peace, property rights in relation to the very possibility of human agency, the general prohibition of rebellion, and Kant's philosophical defense of the French Revolution. (shrink)