L. Albertazzi, G. J. van Tonder, and D. Vishwanath (eds): Perception Beyond Inference: The Information Content of Visual Processes Content Type Journal Article Pages 53-55 DOI 10.1007/s11023-011-9253-z Authors Lorenzo Magnani, Department of Philosophy and Computational Philosophy Laboratory, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy Journal Minds and Machines Online ISSN 1572-8641 Print ISSN 0924-6495 Journal Volume Volume 22 Journal Issue Volume 22, Number 1.
The question that I want to debate a little in this paper could be put in this way: what, and how much, empirical information is required for, or relevant to, moral philosophy? That question may well strike one as somewhat vague and woolly. Rightly so. What is needed to get rather clearer about its answer or possible answers is chiefly, I believe, to get clearer about its sense.
J.G.A. Pocock has been a dominant force in the history of political thought since his first major work, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law, was published in 1957. This article is focused on the contribution he has made to the study of the revolutions of seventeenth-century England and the extraordinary body of political discourse to which they gave rise. It begins with an examination of the ways in which ideas about continuity, innovation, institutions and historiography have shaped his approach (...) to the history of political thought and their application to seventeenth-century conditions. Central to a fundamental continuity in his ideas over the last five decades have been notions about the interface of 'paradigms' with both language and socio-political circumstance in the construction and deconstruction of both historiographies and political theories. The article then offers a critical assessment of his contribution to our understanding of the English Revolution. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis article offers a reinterpretation of the origins and character of the so-called ‘Cambridge School’ in the history of political thought by reconstructing the intellectual background to J.G.A. Pocock's 1962 essay ‘The History of Political Thought: A Methodological Enquiry’, typically regarded as the first statement of a ‘Cambridge’ approach. I argue that neither linguistic philosophy nor the celebrated work of Peter Laslett exerted a major influence on Pocock's work between 1948 and 1962. Instead, I emphasise the importance of Pocock's interest (...) in the history of historiography and of his doctoral supervisor, Herbert Butterfield. By placing Pocock's intellectual development in these contexts, I suggest, the autonomy of diverse versions of the ‘Cambridge’ approach can more readily be perceived. (shrink)
This essay is written on the following premises and argues for them. “Enlightenment” is a word or signifier, and not a single or unifiable phenomenon which it consistently signifies. There is no single or unifiable phenomenon describable as “the Enlightenment,” but it is the definite article rather than the noun which is to be avoided. In studying the intellectual history of the late seventeenth century and the eighteenth, we encounter a variety of statements made, and assumptions proposed, to which the (...) term “Enlightenment” may usefully be applied, but the meanings of the term shift as we apply it. The things are connected, but not continuous; they cannot be reduced to a single narrative; and we find ourselves using the word “Enlightenment” in a family of ways and talking about a family of phenomena, resembling and related to one another in a variety of ways that permit of various generalizations about them. We are not, however, committed to a single root meaning of the word “Enlightenment,” and we do not need to reduce the phenomena of which we treat to a single process or entity to be termed “the” Enlightenment. It is a reification that we wish to avoid, but the structure of our language is such that this is difficult, and we will find ourselves talking of “the French” or “the Scottish,” “the Newtonian” or the “the Arminian” Enlightenments, and hoping that by employing qualifying adjectives we may constantly remind ourselves that the keyword “Enlightenment” is ours to use and should not master us. (shrink)
The admiration of the Soviet Union amongst Britain's interwar scientific left is well known. This article reveals a parallel story. Focusing on the biologists Julian Huxley and Lancelot Hogben and the scientific journalist J.G. Crowther, I show that a number of scientific thinkers began to look west, to the US. In the mid- to late 1930s and into the 1940s, Huxley, Crowther and Hogben all visited the US and commented favourably on Roosevelt's New Deal, in particular its experimental approach to (...) politics. Huxley was first to appreciate the significance of the experiment; he looked to the Tennessee Valley Authority as a model of democratic planning by persuasion that could also be applied in Britain. Crowther, meanwhile, examined the US through the lens of history of science. In Famous American Men of Science and in lectures at Harvard University, he aimed to shed light on the flaws in the Constitution which were frustrating the New Deal. Finally, Hogben's interest in the US was related to his long-standing opposition to dialectical materialism, and when he finally saw the US at first hand, he regarded it as a model for how to bring about a planned socialist society through peaceful persuasion. (shrink)
In this paper I take up the question of the possible influence of J. G. Fichte on Wilhelm von Humboldt’s theory of language. I first argue that the historical record is unclear, but show that there is a deep philosophical difference between the two views and, as a result of this difference, we should conclude that the influence was small. Drawing on a distinction made by Michael Dummett, I show that Fichte understands language as encoding thought while Humboldt understands language (...) as a medium of thought. The consequences of this difference affect a wide range of issues from their views on the nature of personal pronouns, to their theories of communicative understanding, to their theories of the proper nature of inquiry into language. (shrink)
ABSTRACTI am grateful for J. G. A. Pocock's generous response to my article on his early work and the development of the ‘Cambridge School'. In this brief rejoinder, I try to make clear that I meant in no way to diminish the importance of Pocock's achievement, or its centrality to the ‘Cambridge School’ story, while defending my view of the distinctive character and intellectual genealogy of his work.
I understand Pluralism to be the doctrine that, either generally or with reference to some particular area of judgement, there is more than one basic principle. It endorses the possibility that some particular case may arise which will be adjudicated in one way if one principle is applied while another principle points otherwise and to an answer which, at least in practice, is incompatible. Thus in morality, according to pluralism there may be more than one correct answer to the question (...) of which of the decisions available in some particular situation is the best. (shrink)