In late August 2012, artist Paul Thomas and philosopher Timothy Morton took a stroll up and down King Street in Newtown, Sydney. They took photographs. If you walk too slowly down the street, you find yourself caught in the honey of aesthetic zones emitted by thousands and thousands of beings. If you want to get from A to B, you had better hurry up. Is there any space between anything? Do we not, when we look for such a space, (...) encounter a plenitude of other things —a slice of plaster, an old vinyl record, a flattened piece of aluminum, painted metal surfaces, nameless interstitial powder, the reflection of sky, some letters of the alphabet, roughened concrete. Between what we take to be things there exist other things, as if the universe were jammed with entities like clowns in a crowded Expressionist painting. An abyss of things that emanates from them, not a yawning void that threatens to engulf them, but a sunlit nothingness filled with dust that seems to spray out of them like dry mist sparkling with firefly swarms. In these so-called spaces, we encounter the work of causality. Look: someone painted over this crack, some sunlight rippled in a mirage, a hole appeared. When we look for causes and effects, we don't encounter a basement of efficiently whirring machinery. Rather, we encounter these in-between spaces, where we had not thought to look. What we see are stage hands moving the scenery about—they are doing it in plain sight, the best place to hide, right in front of you, in the place we call the aesthetic dimension . In Tibetan Buddhism these spaces are called bardo , which just means the between. There is no such thing as a moment of your life that is not a between, according to this view. There is the between of living. There is the between of dying. There is the between of the transition between lives. There is the between of dreaming. There is the between of meditation. There is the between of two humans holding cameras walking down a street in Sydney. The between of two buildings, a space bursting with objects as if a billion jack in the boxes had exploded at once. Some of the lids are stuck, sometimes a nose bursts out and the hinge won't open any further; at other times, the jack in the box flies right out and pulps against the wall on the opposite side of the room. Time opens up. Each surface is a poem about the past. A myriad stories begin to proliferate, as if a thing were a crisscrossing of books, a whole library of them, each page whispering parts of paragraphs and broken pieces of word. The stories tell us things—they are quite literal, look, this guy painted part of this wall, then they came and stripped off the panel and touched up the holes. Form is the past. When you look at appearance, you are looking at the past. Where is the present? And essence is the future. The hints of unknown, unseen things, the absolute impossibility of grasping everything about this plastic pipe, the way photons entering the camera lens obey a speed limit and splash onto receptors, going into and out of coherence. At the electronic level, it's quite clear that causality is aesthetic. I can't see an electron without deflecting it. Everything is a refrigerator with a light on—or off—inside. For me, for you, for this arrangement of tiles sandwiched between a door and a slab of marble. To a photon, an electron is a refrigerator with a closed door, and a light that might be on—or off—inside. How can you know whether the light is on inside? Why, you open the door of course. But then you are looking at the past. You never see the light in the refrigerator before you open the door. This future is not a predictable future that is a specific number of now-points away. You will never reach it. You will never be able to sneak up from the side and see through the refrigerator. Nor can a photon see through the refrigerator of an electron. Nor can paint see through the refrigerator of this plastic pipe. You take a photo—click—the past appears, another open refrigerator. But the thing you have just made, the photograph, the graphing of the photons—it is another thing, another story. You can read the words, but the meaning always eludes you. It always lurks just off the edge of the sentence, just at the very edge of this ragged slice of paint, just at the edge of this building, between this one and that one. Thousands of secrets, everywhere. Masks that lie and tell the truth at the same time: this pink paint is not blue paint, that's true. But the thing, the thing in itself, that paint sliding off a brush onto that pipe—it is nowhere to be seen, like a light behind a closed door. When you walk too slowly down the street, you start walking into millions of levels of pastness, levels emitted not just by the humans or the dogs and cats, but also by this garbage can, this mottled pink surface pockmarked with nail holes. You walk surrounded by as many futures as there are things. You walk, or rather you occupy a peculiar shifting ground of nowness, created by the relative motion of the past sliding against the future, not touching. You begin to realize that the present does not exist. A thing is a train station where one train is always arriving and one train is always leaving. Hundreds of train stations everywhere, hundreds of relative motions. The idea of a universal, regular, atomic sequence of instants that contains everything is absolutely ludicrous, the philosophers have known this for thousands of years, and to hide the absurdity, to get from A to B, Houston to Sydney, crossing the International Date Line without too much laughter, you have embedded piezoelectric devices in as many pieces of hardware as possible, devices in which quartz talks to electrons, making train stations where the trains seem to run on time. When you walk too slowly down the street, you begin to realize that Zeno had a point. You can seemingly divide each moment, each step, infinitesimally. So perhaps there are no moments, no steps. Or perhaps time is not a box that everything goes in. Perhaps time is, as Einstein argued after all, a way that things send out ripples. Where one house touches another house, there arise hundreds of things, hundreds of meeting places (Old English thing , meeting place). Hundreds of times. I have a thing for you. Come over here, let's do a thing. Stay in the sunlight and shadow between worlds, in the sunlit canyon between this building and that building. See how paint touches this pipe, caressing then leaving, no one will notice if a surface is left exposed, not quite filled in. See how shadows are reflected in pale cream glass—see the luminous abyss of causality spreading out before your very eyes, right in front of security. All kinds of beautiful crimes are committed right here, and as American cars keep telling you, and you never notice, OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. They are here, or rather, here is them, and now is them. Kissing in the shadow. Tim Morton Rice University. (shrink)
On the day before Christmas, 1170, Robert de Broc, member of a family of royal servants that had taken up King Henry II's fierce opposition to Thomas Becket, seized a horse bringing goods to the archbishop and cut off its tail. The next day, Archbishop Thomas noted this incident after his Christmas sermon when renewing his excommunication of Robert and several others, and he discussed it again four days later in his initial meeting with the men who would (...) shortly murder him. The excision of the horse's tail appears in five of the biographies of the martyr and subsequently in the national chronicles of Roger of Howden and Ralph of Diceto. Why did a minor act of cruelty inflicted on a horse seem so noteworthy to contemporaries? The sources recording it resound with the rich Latin vocabulary of shame: “dedecus, contemptus, ignominia, dehonestatio, opprobrium.” Robert's highly symbolic act, part of a pattern of harassment by the Brocs, was designed not just to threaten Becket but also to humiliate him. (shrink)
El filósofo francés Alain Guy (La Rochelle, 1918 - Narbonne, 1998) dedicó por entero su vida al estudio de la filosofía española e hispanoamericana, dándola a conocer no sólo en el extranjero sino también en nuestro país.
In the first systematic study of the philosophy of Thomas Nagel, Alan Thomas discusses Nagel's contrast between the "subjective" and the "objective" points of view throughout the various areas of his wide ranging philosophy. Nagel's original and distinctive contrast between the subjective view and our aspiration to a "view from nowhere" within metaphysics structures the chapters of the book. A "new Humean" in epistemology, Nagel takes philosophical scepticism to be both irrefutable and yet to indicate a profound truth (...) about our capacity for self-transcendence. The contrast between subjective and objective views is then considered in the case of the mind, where consciousness proves to be the central aspect of mind that contemporary theorising fails to acknowledge adequately. The second half of the book analyses Nagel's work on moral and political philosophy where he has been most deeply influential. Topics covered include the contrast between agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons and values, Nagel's distinctive version of a hybrid ethical theory, his discussion of life's meaningfulness and finally his sceptical arguments about whether a liberal society can reconcile the conflicting moral demands of self and other. (shrink)
Guy-François Delaporte | Résumé : Le thème de la Métaphysique de l’acte d’être a connu un succès jamais démenti au cours du siècle dernier, avec des auteurs comme Gilson, Maritain ou Fabro, pour ne citer que les plus célèbres. Pourtant, des questions de fond n’ont jamais reçu de réponse satisfaisante, et ont laissé le sentiment d’une doctrine inachevée et inachevable. Trois observations contribuent à cette insatisfaction : la quasi-absence d’une telle problématique chez Thomas d’Aquin, les désaccords entre certains points (...) de la théorie ainsi qu’entre les auteurs, et les incompatibilités avec certains thèmes centraux de la philosophie de Thomas d’Aquin. |: The theme of the Metaphysics of the act of being has known a never denied success over the last century, with authors like Gilson, Maritain or Fabro, to name only the most famous. Nevertheless, some important questions have never been fittingly answered, and have left the feeling of an unachieved and unachievable doctrine. Three observations contribute to this disappointment : a quasi-absence of such a problematic in Thomas Aquinas, contradictions between certain points of the theory as well as between the authors, and incompatibilities with certain central themes of the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. (shrink)
A lot of people owe kind words to Tom Murray. Not because they hurt his feelings, or because he is easily the nicest guy in bioethics. The debt stems from the palpable silence that accompanied the release of Murray's trenchant and beautiful book, TheWorthofaChild. Somehow, in the shuffle to write and rewrite books about cloning and octuplets and $50,000 eggs, Murray's astonishingly comprehensive treatment of the meaning of the parent–child relationship passed undetected across the radar screens of virtually everyone who (...) writes about reproduction and genetics. In the year since I read TheWorthofaChild, I have paused dozens of times while reading or listening to scholars lament the dearth of careful work on the changing nature of baby-making. Each time this happens I grow more surprised that Murray's Child, which is handsomely bound, well-indexed, and published in the best style by University of California Press, isn't mentioned. This review is one scholar's attempt to right the balance. TheWorthofaChild by Thomas Murray is the most rigorous, most even-handed, and most comprehensive book ever written about the ethical issues associated with making a baby. It is also a very good read, a sensitive and moving portrayal of the struggle to be good at making and raising a child. (shrink)
Thomas Jefferson and Philosophy: Essays on the Philosophical Cast of Jefferson’s Writings is a collection of essays on topics that relate to philosophical aspects of Jefferson’s thinking over the years. Much historical insight is given to ground the various philosophical strands in Jefferson’s thought and writing on topics such as political philosophy, moral philosophy, slavery, republicanism, wall of separation, liberty, educational philosophy, and architecture.
Review of Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Meulen and Guy Kahane eds., Enhancing Human Capacities Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s12152-011-9148-y Authors Thomas Johnson, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia Journal Neuroethics Online ISSN 1874-5504 Print ISSN 1874-5490.
Carl Schmitt, the author of such books as Political Theology and The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, was one of the leading political and legal theorists of the twentieth century. His critical discussions of liberal democratic ideals and institutions continue to arouse controversy, but even his opponents concede his uncanny sense for the basic problems of modern politics.Political Romanticism is a historical study that, like all of Schmitt's major works, offers a fundamental political critique. In it, he defends a concept of (...) political action based on notions of good and evil, justice and injustice, and attacks the political passivity entailed by the romanticization of experience.The book has three strands. The first is an attack on received notions of the origins of the Romantic Movement. Schmitt argues that this movement represents a secularization, subjectification, and privatization in which God is replaced by the emancipated, private individual of the bourgeois social order. The second is an assault on political romanticism that includes a broader attack on the new European bourgeoisie, which Schmitt characterizes as the historical bearer of the movement.The third strand is a defense of political conservatism and a refutation of the view that political romanticism is intrinsically linked with romanticism. Here Schmitt argues that the political romantic is tied not to positions but to aesthetics, and can therefore as easily become a Danton as a Frederick the Great.Guy Oakes's introduction places the book in historical context and also suggests its continuing relevance through his discussion of the latest outcropping of political romanticism in the late 1960s, intriguingly brought out in his example of Norman Mailer as a political romantic.Political Romanticism is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy. (shrink)
While the opposing paradigms of globalization and fragmentation compete in often bloody and destructive ways in the world today, this book convincingly reminds us of the importance of finding out more about the complex and changing ways in which we are connected. The authors demonstrate that the more we understand our connectedness and deal with its consequences, the less dependent and helpless we become. The critical, multidisciplinary perspectives they offer cover a wide range of subjects, from the world wide web (...) to medieval poetry, nations and gender, cancer narratives and money, emotion management and the financial markets, and the American civilizing process and the repression of shame. The contributions bear witness to Elias's innovative achievements while the authors continue his stunning explorations, extending them into other areas of the humanities and the sciences, and presenting their own wide-ranging and penetrating insights into our mutual dependence. Contributors are Jorge Arditi, Godfried Van Benthem Van Den Bergh, Reinhard Blomert, Stephen Guy-Bray, Thomas M. Kemple, Hermann Korte, Helmut Kuzmics, Stephen Mennell, Thomas Salumets, Thomas J. Scheff, Ulrich C. Teucher, Annette Treibel, and Cas Wouters. (shrink)
Is it necessary for all Christians – including Christians who are metaphysicians with demonstrative knowledge of God’s existence – to hold by faith that God exists? I shall approach this apparently straightforward question by investigating two opposing lines of interpretation of Thomas Aquinas’s own response to this question. I shall begin with two texts from Thomas that motivate two incompatible theses concerning Thomas’s doctrine of the harmony of faith and reason with respect to the existence of God. (...) Next, I shall clarify the salient points of disagreement between these two interpretations of faith and reason in Thomas Aquinas before examining dialectically a number of arguments in favor and against the respective theses of these two interpretations. In the final section I shall argue that the results of our dialectical inquiry reveal that the initial disagreement between the two positions is not irresolvable. Accordingly, I shall conclude by proposing two revised versions of the initial theses that emphasize the compatibility of these two interpretations of Thomas Aquinas’s doctrine of the harmony of faith and reason. (shrink)
The great medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas was Dominican regent master in theology at the University of Paris, where he presided over a series of questions - academic debates - on ethical topics. This volume offers translations of disputed questions on the nature of virtues in general, the fundamental or 'cardinal' virtues of practical wisdom, justice, courage, and temperateness, the divinely bestowed virtues of hope and charity, and the practical question of how, when and why one should rebuke a 'brother' (...) for wrongdoing. The introduction explains how Aquinas's theory of virtue fits into his ethics as a whole, and it illuminates Aquinas's views by explaining the institutional and intellectual context in which these disputed questions were debated. (shrink)