This short study attempts to demonstrate the importance for Rabelais's thought and art of the "Platonic-Hermetic" current in antique and Renaissance intellectual history. The demonstration is weakened by the author's failure to sketch a history of this tradition, and one is left to gather from intermittent allusions and from footnotes whom he considers its principle spokesmen and what he considers its main tenets and spokesmen to be. According to Masters, Rabelais's writing is grounded in a Platonic dialectic which plays with (...) the tensions between reality and appearance, intellect and matter, soul and body, God and man. The presence of the divine in human affairs is manifested by such images as the androgyne and the pantagruelion. The recurrent Rabelaisian image of drinking can be understood on several levels. In its most literal sense, it points to the pleasure of festive conviviality. At a higher level, it involves the enlightened exchange of ideas, and at the highest, evoked in the episode of the Dive Bouteille, drinking suggests the acquisition of self-knowledge and, with self-knowledge, all other knowledge proper to the human mind. The Hermetic sciences can lead man in three directions: downward to the black arts; outward toward a salutary investigation of the world; or finally upward to an "intuitive dialectic" and a mystical union with the godhead. Although Masters' interpretations of specific images and episodes sometimes lack tact, his erudition should enhance the book's interest both for intellectual historians and Rabelaisian specialists.--T. M. G. (shrink)
An anthology of philosophical essays and abstracts ranging from Plato to C. D. Broad. The work includes specific discussions of the philosophy of science, religion, politics, and value, as well as discussions concerned with the more general issues of epistemology and metaphysics.--T. M. G.
This powerful, original, and tendentious book was written in 1940, published in Russia in 1965, and is now available in English. It suffers from many shortcomings--repetitiousness, oversimplification, the exclusion of material which fails to fit the author's thesis. It also inevitably reflects ignorance of scholarship since the thirties, which has tended to deny Rabelais' alleged agnosticism and nudged him closer to orthodoxy. But it represents nonetheless an important advance in the understanding of Rabelais' book, and defends provocatively an unfashionable theory (...) of the Renaissance. Bakhtin lays heaviest stress on his author's freedom to play with authorized symbols and solemn institutions in the spirit of the carnival, a spirit deriving from folk humor. The common folk of town and country delighted in improprieties, turned all serious values and structures upside down, dwelt subversively and coarsely on the "bodily lower stratum." Just as food enters the body and is eliminated, so all authorized solemnity enters Pantagruel and is turned into fun. This peasant laughter remains unafraid before age and death because it recognizes the simultaneous destruction and creation in all experience. The medieval hierarchical conception of the universe is replaced in Rabelais and in the entire Renaissance by a new horizontal perspective upon the individual in history. This new perspective fastens particularly upon the body and renders it good-humoredly grotesque. Bakhtin seriously underestimates the breadth of both Renaissance religious feeling and neo-Platonic speculation as well as the strength of medieval survivals. But specific readings of Rabelais' text are genuinely enlightening even when they distort or simplify his meaning.--T. M. G. (shrink)
A brief summary of ancient thinkers who contribute to a theory of the physical universe, ranging from Anaximander to Proclus, with a major emphasis on pre-Aristotelian thought. Included in the work are many well-chosen abstracts of primary sources, such as Hippocrates' "On the Sacred Disease" and Parmenides' "On Nature." De Santillana presents a lively account of his materials, together with helpful illustrations. There is a rather insensitive portrayal of Aristotle as a mere synopticist of earlier theories and as primarily concerned (...) with "a tidiness of words."--T. M. G. (shrink)
Virtue ethics prescribes cultivating global and behaviorally efficacious character traits, but John Doris and others argue that situationist social psychology shows this to be infeasible. Here, I show how certain versions of virtue ethics that ‘go mental’ can withstand this challenge as well as Doris’ further objections. The defense turns on an account of which psychological materials constitute character traits and which the situationist research shows to be problematically variable. Many situationist results may be driven by impulsive akrasia produced by (...) low-level , emotionally induced ignorance about one’s situation, and some may be driven by a further subtype: modal akrasia. Many subjects in the infamous Milgram experiments, e.g., seem to have recognized what the virtuous thing to do was and that they should do it, and only failed to do it because their emotions prevented them from seeing that they could. If the primary constituents of character traits are higher-level mental dispositions involved in deliberation, though, then the results don’t show that these psychological materials are problematically variable. (shrink)
McKay & Dennett (M&D) convincingly argue against many proposals for adaptively functioning misbelief, but the conclusion that true beliefs are generally adaptive does not follow. Adaptive misbeliefs may be few in kind but many in number; maladaptive misbeliefs may routinely elude selective pruning; reproductively neutral misbeliefs may abound; and adaptively grounded beliefs may reliably covary with but not truthfully represent reality.
On one view, the point of an assertion is to update the common ground (Stalnaker 1978, Karttunen 1974). On another, the point of an assertion is to propose an update to the com- mon ground (Groenendijk 2009, Mascarenhas 2009, and related work on the structure of discourse, e.g., Ginzburg 1996, Roberts 1996, Gunlogson 2001). In Murray (to appear), I merge these two views. I argue based on evidence from declarative sentences with eviden- tials that assertion has two components: what (...) is at-issue and what is not. The not-at-issue component of assertion is added directly to the common ground while the at-issue compo- nent is proposed to be added to the common ground. Here, I extend this analysis to yes/no questions in Cheyenne and their interaction with evidentials. I propose that the distinction between what is at-issue and what is not is also present in questions, and that it can be modeled in the same way. Specifically, both declarative and interrogative sentences make two contributions: they restrict and structure the common ground. The restriction is based on the not-at-issue component while the structuring relation is based on the at-issue component. (shrink)
In a recent case in Great Britain, a couple described as “white” underwent in vitro fertilisation and gave birth to twins described as “black”. In the sense of a fair adjudication of this particular case, serving justice requires a thick description and a sensitive understanding of the relevant facts. We have only a few facts, but they may be sufficient to serve justice in this first sense.We are told that the couple wants to keep the twins. We are told further (...) that British law holds that the woman giving birth is to be regarded as the legal mother . Finally, we are told that DNA testing has established that the gestational mother is also the genetic mother of these infants. Her husband, whose sperm were supposed to be used to fertilise his wife’s eggs, is not the genetic father. A black couple was also undergoing IVF at the same clinic; it may be that this man’s sperm were used by mistake.We know enough to reach a defensible decision in the case. The couple caring for these children has contributed a half share of the children’s genes, and the woman was also the gestational mother, so they have at least an equal argument from biology. Their intention was to have these children and they also wish to raise them; they went through the rigours of IVF, and are willing to take on the responsibility of parenthood. Since the children were born, furthermore, they have shouldered the hard work of parenthood. We don’t know their particular circumstances; perhaps they’ve had help from family or others; but in all likelihood they’ve had an ample share of sleep deprived nights, soiled nappies, and exhausted days. …. (shrink)
In this book G. W. Leibniz presents not only his reflections on predestination and election but also a more detailed account of the problem of evil than is found in any of his other works apart from the _Theodicy_. Surprisingly, his _Dissertation on Predestination and Grace_ has never before been published in any form. Michael J. Murray's project of translating, editing, and providing commentary for the volume will therefore attract great interest among scholars and students of Leibniz's philosophy and (...) theology. Leibniz addresses such topics as free will, moral responsibility, divine causation, justice, punishment, divine foreknowledge, and human freedom, revealing crucial aspects of the genesis of his mature metaphysics and the theological motivations behind it. (shrink)
This volume of the Great American Thinkers series purports to let Thoreau speak for himself, primarily through passages quoted from his journals. Originally published in fourteen volumes, the journals represent over twenty years of Thoreau's life, and are the background and, in some cases, the original form of works more polished and more widely known. Murray has aptly considered Thoreau's wide range of thought and comment under several main headings, such as "Primacy or Purpose," "Society as Burden," and "Freedom (...) and Simplicity." In this arrangement, many of Thoreau's specific and often curt observations can be seen in a more general context, with Thoreau himself providing some of the keys to the transition.--G. B. S. C. (shrink)
This collection of essays arose directly from a series of seminars conducted at the Institute of Classical Studies of London University during 1967-1968. Most of the material is published for the first time. Articles by Sandbach and Kidd offer arguments concerning kataleptike phantasia as the test of a true presentation, and Posidonius' conception of the role of the emotions in relation to his scientifically based ethical theory. In addition to the positions held by Rist, Sandbach and Kidd, A. C. Lloyd (...) argues that the Stoic categories, as lekta, should be classified under dialectic and grammar rather than physics. S. G. Pembroke argues most cogently for the central importance of the difficult and controversial concept of oikeiosis in Stoicism. In two essays, editor Long, slanting the conclusion of his discussion of lekta towards its ethical implications, argues first that there is no evidence to show that lekta persist outside of acts of thought and communication distinct from the speaker and his reference; and secondly, that "man," because his logos is equal in quality to all the divine which is outside of it, and because it constitutes a unique substance whose identity is unaffected by external events, "can be free, can act as a man, if and only if the external movements of his body follow from a decision which reconciles his own will and moral choice to what is necessarily the case." Finally, in a not altogether satisfactory concluding essay, "The Natural Law and Stoicism," Gerald Watson discusses among other things some of the practical applications of natural law and its later influence posterior to the Stoic use of it. Although the editor does not attempt either to unify the varying positions presented or to present a comprehensive view of Stoicism, he does bring together some stimulating arguments concerning particular problems in Stoic ethics, metaphysics, epistemology and psychology. This book, truly a statement of "work in progress," is sure to arouse further discussion of the important topics discussed within its carefully documented pages.--T. V. U. (shrink)
This is the first of the St. Thomas More lecture series given at Yale, and is written by one of the most noted Catholic intellectual historians. Presented to a general student audience, it traces in fluent style, with allusions in as well as outside of philosophy proper, the gradual decline of the dimension of the divine as a contemporary historical reality. Father Murray concludes that the "Death of God" in our times has brought theology back from preoccupation with correct (...) articulations to the fundamental problem of the "presence" of God in human life as it was understood in Biblical and patristic times.—T. E. V. (shrink)
The author presents an ethical theory which, as he admits, has much in common with the theories of M. Cohen, R. Sellars, H. Feigl, C. Lamont, and G. Williams. His first task is to define the scientific world view on which his ethical conclusions will be based. It comprises the following suppositions, logically derived from and justified by scientific practice: there is a real world independent of the knower, natural events are uniform, every event is related to some other events, (...) everything is in constant change, all changes are orderly, causes are efficient not final. Before the good life can be defined, science must define human nature, i.e., man's basic and universal needs, which are: physical health, recognition, love, excitement and novelty, knowledge. The good life must satisfy all these needs, but since this may be done improperly, a condition must be added: that satisfaction must come from a real adjustment to the environment in the long run. Moral rules must be both happiness-producing and life-promoting. This framework allows for diversity in moral codes. Determinism does not conflict with morality, for the only freedom that morality presupposes is the absence of external or irrational causes. An act is free to the extent that it is determined by the agent's self-knowledge. The book ends with a brief discussion of the problems of overpopulation, pollution, and world-scale planning.--T. D. Z. (shrink)
Thomas Garrigue Masaryk, later founder and President of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, studied philosophy in the University of Vienna from 1872 to 1876, where he came under the powerful influence of Franz Brentano. We survey the role of Brentano’s philosophy, and especially of his ethics, in Masaryk’s life and work.