Writer, artist, filmmaker, provocateur, revolutionary, and impresario of the Situationist International, Guy Debord shunned the apparatus of publicity he dissected so brilliantly in his most influential work, The Society of the Spectacle. In this ambitious and innovative biography, Vincent Kaufmann places Debord's very hostility toward the inquisitive, biographical gaze at the center of an investigation into his subject's diverse output—from his earliest films to his landmark works of social theory and political provocation—and the poetic sensibility that informed both his (...) work and his life. Instead of providing a conventional day-to-day account of Debord's life, Kaufmann deftly locates his subject within the historical and intellectual context of the radical social, political, and artistic movements in which he participated. He traces Debord's development as an intellectual: his involvement with the lettrist movement in the early 1950s, his central role in the Situationist International from 1957 to 1971 and in the events of May 1968, and the productive and frequently misunderstood period between the dissolution of the situationists and his suicide, during which time Debord clarified the rules of his war against inauthenticity. As Kaufmann makes clear, for Debord political thought and action were inseparable from aesthetics and poetic expression. Whether envisioning the recovery of a lost, protocommunist age of authenticity and transparency in _The Society of the Spectacle_ or critically assessing the possibility of revolution against postmodern capitalism two decades later, Debord advocated and practiced an art of defiance, a concurrently martial and melancholic poetics. Avoiding the mythologies about Debord that both admirers and critics have cultivated, Kaufmann provides a groundbreaking and generous assessment of Debord and his uncompromising struggle against a corrupt civilization. Vincent Kaufmann is professor of French language and literature at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Robert Bononno, a teacher and translator, lives in New York City. (shrink)
Writer, artist, filmmaker, provocateur, revolutionary, and impresario of the Situationist International, Guy Debord shunned the apparatus of publicity he dissected so brilliantly in his most influential work, _The Society of the Spectacle_. In this ambitious and innovative biography, Vincent Kaufmann places Debord's very hostility toward the inquisitive, biographical gaze at the center of an investigation into his subject's diverse output-from his earliest films to his landmark works of social theory and political provocation-and the poetic sensibility that informed both his (...) work and his life. Instead of providing a conventional day-to-day account of Debord's life, Kaufmann deftly locates his subject within the historical and intellectual context of the radical social, political, and artistic movements in which he participated. He traces Debord's development as an intellectual: his involvement with the lettrist movement in the early 1950s, his central role in the Situationist International from 1957 to 1971 and in the events of May 1968, and the productive and frequently misunderstood period between the dissolution of the situationists and his suicide, during which time Debord clarified the rules of his war against inauthenticity. As Kaufmann makes clear, for Debord political thought and action were inseparable from aesthetics and poetic expression. Whether envisioning the recovery of a lost, protocommunist age of authenticity and transparency in _The Society of the Spectacle_ or critically assessing the possibility of revolution against postmodern capitalism two decades later, Debord advocated and practiced an art of defiance, a concurrently martial and melancholic poetics. Avoiding the mythologies about Debord that both admirers and critics have cultivated, Kaufmann provides a groundbreaking and generous assessment of Debord and his uncompromising struggle against a corrupt civilization. (shrink)
In their 1978 paper, psychologists David Premack and Guy Woodruff posed the question, “Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?” They treated this question as interchangeable with the inquiry, “Does a chimpanzee make inferences about another individual, in any degree or kind?” Here, we offer an alternative way of thinking about this issue, positing that while chimpanzees may not possess a theory of mind in the strict sense, we ought to think of them as enactive perceivers of practical and (...) social affordances. As such, we reframe the question: “Are chimpanzees socially enactive?”. (shrink)
continent. 2.1 (2012): 22–28. Jeroen Mettes burst onto the Dutch poetry scene twice. First, in 2005, when he became a strong presence on the nascent Dutch poetry blogosphere overnight as he embarked on his critical project Dichtersalfabet (Poet’s Alphabet). And again in 2011, when to great critical acclaim (and some bafflement) his complete writings were published – almost five years after his far too early death. 2005 was the year in which Dutch poetry blogging exploded. That year saw the foundation (...) of the influential, polemical, and populistically inclined weblog De Contrabas (The Double Bass), which became a strong force for internet poetry in Dutch in the years to follow. In the summer of that year, a lively debate raged in the aftermath of Bas Belleman’s article “ Doet poëzie er nu eindelijk toe ?” (“Does poetry finally matter now?”), on a blog specifically devoted to this question. Up to that point, the poetical debate in the Netherlands had largely been confined to literary reviews (which were often subsidized), having become mostly marginalized in more mainstream media, where poetry could be covered by only a small number of so-called authorities. As a result, literary debate had acquired a rather placid quality. Though a variety of camps with different aesthetics could be discerned, most poetical positions shared a general acceptance of poetry as a form of art somewhat apart from fundamental political concerns. Late modernists would pursue subtlety and density of reference. Others would insist poetry was best understood as a form of entertainment that should ideally be accessible and work well on the stage. Still others would insist that poetry is mostly a play with forms. Linguistically disruptive strategies were valued highly by some, but mostly for their aesthetic effect. Values of disinterested playfulness reigned supreme everywhere. Any idea that poetry could be a field in which one confronts politics and the world was decidedly marginal. This led to a climate in which most attempts at polemics were DOA, often based on far too superficial positioning and analysis. The greatest polemical debates were revolving around the question of whether poetry should be difficult or easy, with both camps defining their ideas of difficulty and accessibility in ways that were so utterly shallow as to make the entire point moot. Debates were performed, rather than engaged with. It was a postmodern hell of underarticulated poetics. Half-consciously, people were yearning for new forms of criticism that could put the oomph back into poetry. Weblogs provided for ways to explore debate directly outside of the clotted older channels of the reviews and the newspapers. Belleman’s essay and the resulting online activity had shown that there was a widespread eagerness to take poetry more seriously as a social art form. It was in this environment that Mettes started his remarkable project Dichtersalfabet . At that moment, Mettes was active mostly in academic circles, having become noted at Leiden University as a particularly gifted student of literary theory. Within the Netherlands, the field of literary theory has a very odd relationship to literature as it is practiced in the country. Academic theory tends to have a mostly international view and engage with international debates of cultural criticism, literary theory, and philosophy, with academics often publishing in English and attending conferences around the world. Literature itself however is much more concerned with domestic traditions. Consequently, in the Netherlands, there exists a language gap between academic theoretical practice (as it is studied in the literary theory departments) and literary practice (which, academically, gets studied in specialized departments of Dutch literature). The Dichtersalfabet can be seen as Mettes’s attempt to close this gap. It is also an attempt to bridge the divide between theory and practice, in which he could apply his theoretical knowledge in a very unorthodox and unacademic critical mode that moreover could reach far beyond the domain of conventional criticism. Mettes’s goal was to trace a diagonal through Dutch poetic culture, to “strangle” what he perceived to be its dominant oppressive traditions of agreeable irrelevance, in order to see whatever might be able to survive his critical assaults. But he could only do so by means of a very serious engagement with poetry itself. To this end, he would go systematically through the poetry bookshelf of the Verwijs bookshop (part of a mainstream chain of booksellers) in The Hague, buying one publication per blog item, starting from A and working his way through the alphabet, reading whatever he might encounter that way in the restaurant of the HEMA store (another big commercial chain in the country). He would subsequently write down his reading experiences, refraining however from trying to write a nuanced book review. Rather, he would write about anything that caught his attention and sparked his critical interest. This way of working would yield vast, at times somewhat rambling, dense, lively, and generally brilliant essays, in which he held no punches. He never hesitated to pull out his entire arsenal of concepts from the international theory traditions, while never degenerating into mere academic exercise and pointless intertextualities. The attempt was rather to live the poetry that he read, and to engage it with the full range of political, academic, cultural, and personal references that he had at his disposal—all that composed the individual named Jeroen Mettes as a reader. Often what he wrote would not be according to the standards of what we usually think of as a critical review of a book of poetry. Sometimes he would even be a little sloppy in his judgments of poets or representations of the books he read, for example by basing an entire essay on the blurb of a book rather than its poetry content. But what he did was always brilliant writing nonetheless—virtuoso riffs on poetic fragments randomly found within capitalist society, exposing an incisive and insistent poetical sensibility. Mettes read poetry for political reasons, to see whether poetry could offer him a way to deal with a political world he detested. The right-wing horrors of the Bush years, the Iraq war, and the turn of Dutch public opinion towards ever more conservative, narrow-minded, and xenophobic views alongside a complete failure of the political left to present any credible alternative, were weighing heavily on the times in which Mettes reported on his reading. Poetry was to measure this world, diagram it, to lay bare its inconsistencies and faults, to indicate where lines of flight might be found. Amid the ruins of a world wrecked by imperialist policies, corporate capitalism, and doctrinal neoliberalism it would have to show the possibility of a new community. And it was, through its rhythmical workings, to release the reading subject from his confinement to ideologically conditioned individuality and lead him into the immanent paradise of reading. The stakes were high. Much higher than anything Dutch poetry had seen for many years. Mettes’s blog was widely read from the start. His posts sparked lively debates. Some of these subsequently led to the publication of extensive essays on a few key poets in some literary journals, particularly Parmentier and the Flemish journal yang , for which Mettes would become a member of the editorial board, a few months after starting the Dichtersalfabet . This could have been the start of a brilliant career, but this was not to be. The initial manic energy that fueled the blog gradually subsided. The Alfabet was updated less and less regularly. Mettes sometimes just disappeared for many weeks, then suddenly returning with a brilliant essay. Until, on September 21, 2006, he posted his final blogpost, consisting of no text whatsoever. That night I learned from his mentor at Leiden University that he had committed suicide. Mettes and I had had some fruitful exchanges on poetry, rhythm, music, and form, mostly on the blogs, but also by email. Three weeks before his death was the last time I heard from him: a very sudden, uncharacteristically curt note saying “My old new sentence epic.” Attached to that message I found a DOC-file of a work so major that I felt intimidated. This was N30 , a text he had been working on for over five years. After his death, it took me a long time before I dared to read it in its entirety. In the meantime, the work of preparing the manuscript for publication was entrusted by his relatives to his colleagues at yang magazine. It took them a few years to brush up the text and to edit the Dichtersalfabet -blog (which, apart from the Alphabet project itself, incorporated many other fragments of political, polemical, and theoretical writing) into book form along with the essays. The result of this labor was finally published in 2011 as a two-book set, and Mettes burst onto the Dutch poetry scene for the second time. The work was widely reviewed, on blogs, in journals, magazines, and newspapers. Many critics who had not followed the blogs in 2005 showed themselves surprised, baffled even, by the intensity of Mettes’s critical writing. But for those who had read the blog, the main surprise was in the poetry. During Mettes’s lifetime, some of his poems had already been published in Parmentier . Although these were strong texts by themselves, in no way did they prepare readers for N30 . Nothing like it had been written in Dutch before. Instead, N30 explicitly follows the American tradition of Language Writing, directly referencing Ron Silliman and his concept of The New Sentence. However, it would seem that much of the poetical thinking around his use of this technique puts him closer to a writer such as Bruce Andrews. For Mettes, using non sequiturs as a unit of poetic construction was not only a way of reinventing formal textual construction, but it was another way of finding the fault lines in the social fabric. From the perspective of the Language tradition, one may put N30 somewhere between Silliman and Andrews. N30 shares an autobiographical element with Silliman’s New Sentence projects, and as in Andrews, there is a concern for mapping out social totality within text—what Mettes refers to as a “textual world civil war.” Again this shows a formal textual strategy for allowing the person “Jeroen Mettes” to be absorbed by the world, which here appears as a whirlwind of demotic and demonic chatter, full of violence, humor, intensity, beauty, disgust, sex, commerce, and strife. Influenced as it may by American precursors, Mettes’s tone and form end up quite different from his American counterparts, consistently referencing a world that is Dutch, all too Dutch, taking on the oppressive orderliness of Dutch society with its endemic penchant for consensus by introducing chaos into its daily life and laying bare its implicit aggressions. The work’s 31 chapters each have a different feel and rhythmical outline, but none of them follow a predetermined pattern. Rather, Mettes would consistently edit and reedit the text, randomly rewriting parts of it, as he explains in his poetical creed Politieke Poëzie (Political Poetry). N30 – referring to the 1999 antiglobalist protest in Seattle – was to be the first text of a trilogy. The work itself was written “in the mode of the present.” A second text was to be written in the mode of the future, and a third one, in the mode of the past, was going to be an epic poem about the Paris Commune, and to form an alternative poetic constitution for the European project. I still deeply regret that Jeroen Mettes never got to complete those projects, just as I would be very keen on knowing what he might have had to say about more recent political developments. Instead, in 2006, he remained stuck in the horrors of the present, that ended up consuming him completely. He left Dutch literature with some of its most piercing criticism and its most profoundly moving, exciting and powerful poetry. Excerpts from N30 Translated by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei from Jeroen Mettes. "N30." In N30+ . Amsterdam: De wereldbibliotheek, 2011. Published with permission of Uitgeverij Wereldbibliotheek, Amsterdam. Chapter 1 1999. A day is a space too. And another man, who had chained himself, had his ribs crushed, and a motor has driven over somebody’s legs. Dutch health care system spends ±145 million guilders per year on worriers. A spiderweb vibrates as I pass by. Randstad renovating. She slaps her bag against her ass: “Hurry up!” OPINION IS TRUE FRIENDSHIP Your skin. It doesn’t express anything. “But the use of the sword, that’s what I learned, and you’ll need nothing more for the moment.” Just try to interrogate a guy like that. Gullit in Sierra Leone. Codes silently lying all around. But that’s simply what belongs to “that it’s just allowed”: that sigh of “world” (a word expressing that the trees are now standing along the water like black men with white bags in their hair); that’s nothing else right? And you see how everything has to move, and first of all what cannot do so. Without Elysium and without savings, barbarians lashing out, horny for an enemy, staring across the water, staring into the air—staring to get out of it. “You’ve never showed me more than the mall,” she said. All those “dreams” in the end—and now? It was lying on the stairway, so I picked it up and took it upstairs. Chapter 3 “You know what?” Telecommunication. For love… I don’t really like that cheap cultural pessimism, but… The holy city is on pilgrimage in the earthly bodies of the faithful until the time of the heavenly kingdom has come. The end of an exhausting autumn day behind the computer, my eyes filled with tears of fatigue. KITCHEN / INSTALLATION / SPECIALIST. Network integration. In the sun, stretched out on a sheet. (…) I don’t believe what I’m reading, because I want to believe something else. An illusion? Suits me. There’s a variety of shapes and tastes… “So what?” you may think. 102 dalmatians can’t be wrong. But I want more, dear… A feel good movie. I’m smashing the burned body. So what? We continue to save the European civilization. What’s there to win? Plato with poets = Stalin without gulag? Ball against the crossbar. No wonder. She comes straight to her point. She’s standing in the kitchen eating an apple. (…) The godless Napoleon had used her as a stable and wanted to have her taken down. “Our” Rutger Hauer. Ready or not here I come. Psst… are you also wearing a string? Nobody understands our desire. Cliffs breaking the waves and shattering the sunset. I used to be a real romantic (as a poet). A typical fantasy used to be the one in which I brutally raped mother and daughter Seaver from the sitcom Growing Pains . Nevertheless you only contain bad words. Eyelashes. Automatic or manual? That your skin always in the afternoon. Integration. The air is empty. Too bad! Hand in hand on their lonely way. Alaska! Chapter 12 May 5, 2001 [10:00-10:30] A dust cloud on a hill. Globe. Indian (British) (tie) / pope. Damascus. Rape. We’re carrying the ayatollah’s portrait through the streets. At the moment the girl is mostly suede jacket with white ribbons on her sleeves. A small explosion flares up/impact. Camouflage. Close up. We’re analyzing the situation. He’s dead right? Dead dead. Dead. Everything without, these, and only with the body. Indices signal death. Dollar bills are printed in factories. Holes. Light patch. Globe in a box. Microphone. What’s the situation? Grey impact on a green hill (field?). The water is blue. He has no lips. Interns on the background with skirts that are too long. This is an example of a sonnet. An Islamic woman pushes against the door of an electronics shop. Arrows (percentages (prices)). Is this what awaits the American? Touch screen interface. The word, an island, can only be a sign in that situation. We pull up a chair, join in on the fun. On the shelves only books about computers. One glance in the distance is enough to lighten up a luna park in the distance. She’s really desperate, especially when she laughs. Click. Ah. Next. And now it’s raining, but that’s ok. Yellow stains sliding over the south. Shallow caves light: clothes, boots, electrical equipment. 45. 22:10. Nothing gives you the right to eat more than people starving to death. The Hague. Slam dunk. Traffic light. Two H’s, one L (standing for the L (little prick)). We’re happy to say something. Clouds, small suns, temperatures, cities. The truth is never an excuse. Yellow. Yellow. Green. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Green. Green. Yellow. Will you email me? Skeleton: “No.” Ex-nerds in brand-new and brightly red sport cars. $$$. I love. Shihab. Hooves in the sand. Skinny senior with over-sized sunglasses; old jockey (cap, trophy) smiling in slow motion. And there I am again, flashback, crying with my head in between my hands. Sometimes I’ve got the feeling that cannibals. Eyes: blue. Cancer. Why would I wait until tomorrow? Golden beams protruding from the lifted/lit earth. May 5, 2001 [11:30-12:45] You’ll remember this for the rest of your life. Graphs, diagrams. Bu$ine$$. Blue shirt, white collar, no neck (porn star). A name lights up. I’m hysteric. Will you join us? Letters falling in their words. Fingers set up a tent and start to dance. Young entrepreneurs from poor neighborhoods (read: black) guided by Microsoft. Kinda makes me happy, that sort of kitsch. A sense of exhaustion/impotence to see anything but the present. (…) Wouldn’t you like to? Orange explosion in an industrial zone. YOU’RE DOING THIS FOR AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. Would you. A familiar face. Clouds and blossom. Sunflowers. Supermodels. Mountainous area in a rectangle: shades of brown, from dark to beige, more green toward the south. Tents and next to them (it’s all a blur) people. Plane. Stadium. Geometrical block of people. No, I ain’t crying. I don’t speak no more. I just want. Quote + photo. (Positive:) screaming crowd. Three-piece suit, seen from the back, before entering the arena. On the back: “Daddy abused me.” Oh, bummer. State of emergency has been declared and everyone has to cooperate. She’s cut her wrists. What we do know (…) is that there’s never been a unique word, an imperative name, nor will there ever be. [Click here for work that suits you.] Barefooted children are watching it (coherent pieces revelation of what’s lying below). Who knows how she’s changed during those two years. “Everything used to be better” + sigh. And here we are. An empty field of parquet. A city lying behind it. Explosion. Blue. A rain drop falling in my coffee. May 5, 2001 [14:30-15:30] A young Arafat on video speaking with raised finger. “I’m calling from my convertible.” Names on walls, victims, numbers… Tourists. Yellow. Yellow. “Your own child! Really, what kind of human are you?” I don’t want to hear it no more. A woman jumping out of the water in a yellow bikini against a background of fireworks and the Cheops pyramid. Thy sorrow shall become good fortune, thy complaints laudation. All planets will float and wander. Wo die Welt zum Bild wird, kommt das System (…) zur Herrschaft. It is something, but is it? May 5, 2001 [18:30-19:00] Iris. Leaves. NASDAQ. Open / and white and. For the one who’s doing nothing, just waiting. (…) NO DEFEAT is made entirely up of defeat -- since / the world it opens is always a place / formerly / unsuspected. October 2002. “Jeroen, I’m leaving for the cemetery, byeeee.” The rise of the middle class. My entire oeuvre is an ode to the. My entire head is a fight against the. God always demands what you cannot sacrifice. You may take that the easy way, but… “The state hasn’t made us, but we make the state” (Hitler). A stork exits the elevator. Skeletons of. Moscow. Helsinki. Palermo. Paris. Chapter 30 Like your paradises: nothing. United Desire, as only remaining superpower. And even though the sea is now calmer and the wind is blowing pleasantly in my face… Heart! Who determines whether a tradition is “alive”? The yellow leaf or the white branch? Mars. This sentence is a typical example. Most Dutch people are happy. No consolation. When I see a girl sitting at a table with a book, a notepad, a pen, a bottle of mineral water, her hand writing in the light—then I consider that one thing. “Presents,” “poetry,” “classics.” We are what we cannot make from ourselves. “Left”: mendicant orders, missionaries. Saint-Just: “A republic is founded on the destruction of its enemies.” She crosses the street with a banana peel between her fingers. (…) We chose our own wardens, torturers, it was us who called all this insanity upon ourselves, we created this nightmare… But “no”? Girl (just like a beach ball) talking rapid Spanish (Portuguese?) in a mobile phone. Do I have a chance now that her boyfriend is getting bold? CLIO, horny bitch. What else do you want? An old woman, between the doors of the C1000, is suddenly unable to go on; her husband stretches out his hand, speaking a few encouraging words. Selection from. Der Führer schenkt den Jüden ein Stadt. How can it reach us if we haven’t been already reached somehow? It doesn’t “speak.” No problem. Each word she uses is a small miracle, as if she doesn’t belong to it, to language, but wanders around with a pocket light looking for the exit; she’s never desperate (maybe a little nervous), lighting up heavy words from the inside. But indeed, we’re free. But the predicate is not an attribute, but an event, and the subject is not a subject, but a shell. That’s why also samurai, knights, and warriors raised the blossom as emblem: they knew how to die. Locked up in a baby carriage with a McDonald’s balloon. Blue helicopter, the blue sky. Whether you want to refer? The point is. How / Motherfucker can I sing a sad song / When I remember Zion? You’ll feel so miserable and worthless that you think: “If only I were dead!,” or: “Just put an end to it!” “So you’re an economist?” Her card—two little birds building a nest, her handwriting shaking—is still on the mantelpiece. Guevara: “No, a communist.” A straw fire, such was our life: rapidly it flared up, rapidly it passed. I’m fleeing, coming from nowhere. (…) Eazy-E drinking coffee with the American president. If I’d scream, would that be an event? Drown it: the cleaner it will rise up from the depths. No! The night, so fast… As if there’s something opened up in that face. Come on, we may not curse life. He shows me his methadone: “If you drink that all at once, you’ll die instantly.” The last one dictates how we should behave to deserve happiness. One shine / above the earth. “I want to go to Bosnia,” I said bluntly. I don’t even know the name of the current mayor. Let’s despise our success! “There is no future; this is the future. Hope is a weakness that we've overcome. We have found happiness!” Sun. Sushi. Volvo. I feel like a bomb about to explode at any moment. Makes a difference for the reconstruction right? The decor moves forward. Daughter of Nereus, you nymphs of the sea, and you Thetis, you should have kept his tired head above the waves! Alas! This sentence has been written wearing a green cap. I receive my orders from the future. A frog jumps into it. Her husband has turned the Intifada, which he follows daily on CCN, into his hobby, “to forget that he doesn’t have his driver’s license yet." Suddenly the sun slides over the crosswalk. Her (his?) foot is playing with the slipper under the table. Is this how I’m writing this book now? I’m not a fellow man. I hate you and I want to hurt you. These are my people. Their screaming doesn’t rise above the constantly wailing sirens which we've learned to ignore. My whole body became warm and suddenly started to tremble. Unfortunate is he who is standing on the threshold of the most beautiful time, but awaits a better one. Arafat’s “removal” is contrary to American interests. Jeep drives into boy. What you can do alone, you should do alone. A food gift from the people of the United States of America. Two seagulls. [...]. (shrink)
Determinism is a spectre that has haunted our scientifically-oriented culture from the beginning. I happen to think that it is literally a ‘spectre’, a trick of the vision, an appearance with an internal cause only, and that it is no more than the ghost of our own conceptual determinations projected outward into a world in which it has no place and no proper being. From one point of view it is no more than an alienated fantasy involving a number of (...) incoherent assumptions. Of these, one of the most important, and one of the most deeply eroded by much contemporary work, is the assumption that science and scientific understanding is a potentially completable system. From another point of view, however, the deterministic picture seems an inevitable product of scientific activity. (shrink)
There are two main claims that Bradley makes concerning negative judgment in the Principles of Logic : Negative judgment ‘stands at a different level of reflection’ from affirmative judgment. Negative judgment ‘presupposes a positive ground’. I will consider what Bradley means by these claims, and draw comparisons with Wittgenstein's views on negation as they developed between the Tractatus and the Philosophical Remarks.
Vincent Descombes is a French philosopher. He has taught at the University of Montréal, Johns Hopkins University, and Emory University. Presently, he is director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and regular visiting professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Romance. Descombes’s main areas of research are in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of language and philosophy of literature. The following interview covers various aspects of his research in the philosophy (...) of mind and language: semantic anti-realism, phenomenology, the content of mental states, description and transparency, the linguistic turn, metaphysics and linguistic analysis, fictional names and animal intentionality. (shrink)
Well-being occupies a central role in ethics and political philosophy, including in major theories such as utilitarianism. It also extends far beyond philosophy: recent studies into the science and psychology of well-being have propelled the topic to centre stage, and governments spend millions on promoting it. We are encouraged to adopt modes of thinking and behaviour that support individual well-being or 'wellness'. What is well-being? Which theories of well-being are most plausible? In this rigorous and comprehensive introduction to the topic, (...) Guy Fletcher unpacks and assesses these questions and many more, including: Are pleasure and pain the only things that affect well-being? Is desire-fulfilment the only thing that makes our lives go well? Can something be good for someone who does not desire it? Is well-being fundamentally connected to a distinctive human nature? Is happiness all that makes our lives go well? Is death necessarily bad for us? How is the well-being of a whole life related to well-being at particular times? Also included is a glossary of key terms, and annotated further reading and study and comprehension questions follow each chapter, making _The Philosophy of Well-Being_ essential reading for students in ethics and political philosophy, and also suitable for those in related disciplines such as psychology, politics and sociology. (shrink)
In the early years of this century the debate as to the nature of judgment was a central issue dividing British philosophers. What a philosopher said about judgment was not independent of what he said about perception, the distinction between the a priori and empirical, the distinction between external and internal relations, the nature of inference, truth, universals, language, the reality of the self and so on.
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 this article, we present a dialogical approach to empirical ethics, based upon hermeneutic ethics and responsive evaluation. Hermeneutic ethics regards experience as the concrete source of moral wisdom. In order to gain a good understanding of moral issues, concrete detailed experiences and perspectives need to be exchanged. Within hermeneutic ethics dialogue is seen as a vehicle for moral learning and developing normative conclusions. Dialogue stands for a specific view on moral epistemology and methodological criteria for moral inquiry. Responsive evaluation (...) involves a structured way of setting up dialogical learning processes, by eliciting stories of participants, exchanging experiences in (homogeneous and heterogeneous) groups and drawing normative conclusions for practice. By combining these traditions we develop both a theoretical and a practical approach to empirical ethics, in which ethical issues are addressed and shaped together with stakeholders in practice. Stakeholders' experiences are not only used as a source for reflection by the ethicist; stakeholders are involved in the process of reflection and analysis, which takes place in a dialogue between participants in practice, facilitated by the ethicist. This dialogical approach to empirical ethics may give rise to questions such as: What contribution does the ethicist make? What role does ethical theory play? What is the relationship between empirical research and ethical theory in the dialogical process? In this article, these questions will be addressed by reflecting upon a project in empirical ethics that was set up in a dialogical way. The aim of this project was to develop and implement normative guidelines with and within practice, in order to improve the practice concerning coercion and compulsion in psychiatry. (shrink)
In 1907, Alfred Stieglitz took what was to become one of his signature photographs, The Steerage. Stieglitz stood at the rear of the ocean liner Kaiser Wilhelm II and photographed the decks, ﬁrst-class passengers above and steerage passengers below, carefully exposing the ﬁlm to their reﬂected light. Later, in the darkroom, Stieglitz developed this ﬁlm and made a number of prints from the resulting negative. The photograph is a familiar one, an enduring piece of social commentary, but what exactly is (...) The Steerage which Stieglitz has given us? It is clearer what The Steerage is not. It is distinct from each of its prints and from its negative. These may be dusty or torn without The Steerage being so, and any one of these could be destroyed without thereby destroying The Steerage itself. Nor is The Steerage the set of its prints. The set could not have had diﬀerent members, while The Steerage could have had more, fewer, or diﬀerent prints.1 Similar reasoning rules out the mereological sum of parts of its actual prints, for The Steerage’s prints might not have comprised just these parts. We are left with a puzzle, what sort of thing is a photograph? This puzzle is not unique to photography. Similar reasoning generates an analogous puzzle for any repeatable work of art. Novels, poems, plays, symphonies, songs, and the rest share an ontological predicament and create a 1 general puzzle concerning the ontological status of repeatable works of art. It is widely held that the puzzle has an equally general solution, one which I will argue fails for systematic reasons. Although my target here is the supposed solution to the general problem, photography will remain the central case under scrutiny. I oﬀer it as a model for our thinking about the wider class in order to reap the beneﬁts of thinking in terms of concrete cases. Although this risks a trade-oﬀ with the generality of my conclusions—there are important diﬀerences of detail between the cases—I hope it is clear that the considerations I appeal to in photography are not idiosyncratic but shared by the wider class.. (shrink)
Saul Kripke has claimed that there are necessary connections between material things and their material origins. The usual defences of such necessity of origin theses appeal to either a sufficiency of origin principle or a branching-times model of necessity. In this paper we offer a different defence. Our argument proceeds from more modest ‘independence principles’, which govern the processes by which material objects are produced. Independence principles are motivated, in turn, by appeal to a plausible metaphysical principle governing such processes, (...) their invulnerability to non-local prevention. We outline the new argument, and distinguish it from both of the usual defences. (shrink)
Various authors debate the question of whether neuroscience is relevant to criminal responsibility. However, a plethora of different techniques and technologies, each with their own abilities and drawbacks, lurks beneath the label “neuroscience”; and in criminal law responsibility is not a single, unitary and generic concept, but it is rather a syndrome of at least six different concepts. Consequently, there are at least six different responsibility questions that the criminal law asks—at least one for each responsibility concept—and, I will suggest, (...) a multitude of ways in which the techniques and technologies that comprise neuroscience might help us to address those diverse questions. In a way, on my account neuroscience is relevant to criminal responsibility in many ways, but I hesitate to state my position like this because doing so obscures two points which I would rather highlight: one, neither neuroscience nor criminal responsibility are as unified as that; and two, the criminal law asks many different responsibility questions and not just one generic question. (shrink)
Philosophers and social scientists will welcome this highly original discussion of Max Weber's analysis of the objectivity of social science. Guy Oakes traces the vital connection between Weber's methodology and the work of philosopher Heinrich Rickert, reconstructing Rickert's notoriously difficult concepts in order to isolate the important, and until now poorly understood, roots of problems in Weber's own work.Guy Oakes teaches social philosophy at Monmouth College and sociology at the New School for Social Research.
When is an artwork complete? Most hold that the correct answer to this question is psychological in nature. A work is said to be complete just in case the artist regards it as complete or is appropriately disposed to act as if he or she did. Even though this view seems strongly supported by metaphysical, epistemological, and normative considerations, this article argues that such psychologism about completeness is mistaken, fundamentally, because it cannot make sense of the artist's own perspective on (...) his or her work. For the artist, the question is not about his or her own psychology, but about the character of the work and the context in which he or she works. A nonpsychological account of completeness, on which completeness is a question of whether the work satisfies the conditions implicit in the artist's plan, avoids this problem and is equally or better able to explain the metaphysical, epistemic, and normative phenomena which appeared to support psychologism. (shrink)
While all agree that score compliance in performance is valuable, the source of this value is unclear. Questions about what authenticity requires crowd out questions about our reasons to be compliant in the first place, perhaps because they seem trivial or uninteresting. I argue that such reasons cannot be understood as ordinary aesthetic, instrumental, epistemic, or moral reasons. Instead, we treat considerations of score compliance as having a kind of final value, one which requires further explanation. Taking as a model (...) the Humean account of fidelity as an artificial virtue, I sketch a practice-theoretic account of the nature and source of such reasons, one on which we can say that they are, after all, aesthetic, but only indirectly so. (shrink)
We read with interest the extended essay published from Riisfeldt and are encouraged by an empirical ethics article which attempts to ground theory and its claims in the real world. However, such attempts also have real-world consequences. We are concerned to read the paper’s conclusion that clinical evidence weakens the distinction between euthanasia and normal palliative care prescribing. This is important. Globally, the most significant barrier to adequate symptom control in people with life-limiting illness is poor access to opioid analgesia. (...) Opiophobia makes clinicians reluctant to prescribe and their patients reluctant to take opioids that might provide significant improvements in quality of life. We argue that the evidence base for the safety of opioid prescribing is broader than that presented, restricting the search to palliative care literature produces significant bias as safety experience and literature for opioids and sedatives exists in many fields. This is not acknowledged in the synthesis presented. By considering additional evidence, we reject the need for agnosticism and reaffirm that palliative opioid prescribing is safe. Second, palliative sedation in a clinical context is a poorly defined concept covering multiple interventions and treatment intentions. We detail these and show that continuous deep palliative sedation is a specific practice that remains controversial globally and is not considered routine practice. Rejecting agnosticism towards opioids and excluding CDPS from the definition of routine care allows the rejection of Riisfeldt’s headline conclusion. On these grounds, we reaffirm the important distinction between palliative care prescribing and euthanasia in practice. (shrink)
A New Route to the Necessity of Origin’ (2004, henceforth ‘NR’), we offered an argument for the thesis that there are necessary connections between material things and their material origins. Much of the philosophical interest lay in our claim that the argument did not depend on so-called sufficiency principles for crossworld identity. It has been the verdict of much recent work on the necessity of origin that valid arguments for the thesis require some such sufficiency principle as a premise but (...) that such principles are deeply problematic.1 Finding an argument free of such principles would advance both our understanding and the plausibility of that thesis. These claims are now the subject of a pair of insightful critiques by Teresa Robertson and Graeme Forbes (2006, henceforth ‘RF’) and by Ross Cameron and Sonia Roca (2006, henceforth ‘CR’), and we welcome the opportunity to clarify and improve our account of the matter. (shrink)
Direct brain intervention based mental capacity restoration techniques-for instance, psycho-active drugs-are sometimes used in criminal cases to promote the aims of justice. For instance, they might be used to restore a person's competence to stand trial in order to assess the degree of their responsibility for what they did, or to restore their competence for punishment so that we can hold them responsible for it. Some also suggest that such interventions might be used for therapy or reform in criminal legal (...) contexts-i.e. to make non-responsible and irresponsible people more responsible. However, I argue that such interventions may at least sometimes fail to promote these responsibility-related legal aims. This is because responsibility hinges on other factors than just what mental capacities a person has-in particular, it also hinges on such things as authenticity, personal identity, and mental capacity ownership-and some ways of restoring mental capacity may adversely affect these other factors. Put one way, my claim is that what might suffice for the restoration of competence need not necessarily suffice for the restoration of responsibility, or, put another way, that although responsibility indeed tracks mental capacity it may not always track restored mental capacities. (shrink)
Psychiatry presents a unique array of difficult ethical questions. However, a major challenge is to approach psychiatry in a way that does justice to the real ethical issues. Recently there has been a growing body of research in empirical psychiatric ethics, and an increased interest in how empirical and philosophical methods can be combined. Empirical Ethics in Psychiatry demonstrates how ethics can engage more closely with the reality of psychiatric practice and shows how empirical methodologies from the social sciences can (...) help foster this link. -/- The book is divided into two sections. In the first section there are discussions of the possibility of empirical ethics from a theoretical standpoint and an overview of the history of empirical medical ethics in general. The second, larger section is made up of chapters, discussing specific research projects in empirical psychiatric ethics. The contributors reflect on their choice of method: how and why they combine empirical and philosophical work, and how the two approaches relate to each other. The chapters in the second part thus have two purposes. The first is to present examples of empirical ethics in psychiatry; the second is to reflect on the way in which empirical research can support ethical analysis. -/- Empirical Ethics in Psychiatry is a unique contribution to bioethics and will be fascinating reading for all those working within the field, as well as mental health care professionals. (shrink)
The philosophy of perception currently considers how perception relates to action. Some distinctions may help, distinguishing object perception from perceptual recognition, and both from that-perception. Examples are seeing a man, recognising a man, and seeing that there is a man. Perceiving an object controls self-location by its recognising an object, which depends on memory of how it looks, controls looking for it and interacting with it, or not, and that-perceiving controls saying that an object exists. Perception controls action. Milner and (...) Goodale, Jacob and Jeannerod, and Noë are considered. (shrink)
I am honoured and pleased to address you this evening on the life and work of an extraordinary American thinker, Charles Sanders Peirce. Although Peirce is perhaps most often remembered as the father of the philosophical movement known as pragmatism, I would like to impress upon you that he was also, and perhaps, especially, a logician, a working scientist and a mathematician. During his life time Peirce most often referred to himself, and was referred to by his colleagues, as a (...) logician. Furthermore, Peirce spent thirty years actively engaged in scientific research for the US Coast Survey. The National Archives in Washington, DC, holds some five thousand pages of Peirce's reports on this work. Finally, the four volumes of Peirce's mathematical papers edited by Professor Carolyn Eisele eloquently testify to his contributions to that field as well. (shrink)
The appealing idea that knowledge is best understood as a kind of achievement faces significant criticisms, among them Matthew Chrisman’s charge that the whole project rests on a kind of ontological category mistake. Chrisman argues that while knowledge and belief are states, the kind of normativity found in, for example, Sosa’s famous ‘Triple-A’ structure of assessment is only applicable to performances, end-directed events that unfold over time, and never to states. What is overlooked, both by Chrisman and those he criticizes, (...) is a whole range of projects, those like friendship, health, marriage, and sobriety, where the end is not distinct from our pursuit of it. I suggest that such ‘inner projects’ are in fact stative achievements and thus provide a different sort of model for thinking about knowledge as an achievement. Reconceiving the project along these lines also helps to solve another outstanding problem, the charge that being an achievement is not necessary for knowledge because some knowledge, especially testimonial knowledge, is come by with little or no effort. (shrink)
Could a work of art actually authored by one artist have been authored, instead, by another? This is the question of the necessity of authorship. After distinguishing this question from another, regarding individuation, with which it is often confused, this paper offers an argument that authorship is indeed a necessary feature of most artworks. The argument proceeds from ‘independence principles’, which govern the processes by which artworks are produced. Independence principles are motivated, in turn, by metaphysical reflections on what it (...) takes to prevent an artist from producing a particular work of art. (shrink)
Garrath Williams claims that truly responsible people must possess a “capacity … to respond [appropriately] to normative demands” (2008:462). However, there are people whom we would normally praise for their responsibility despite the fact that they do not yet possess such a capacity (e.g. consistently well-behaved young children), and others who have such capacity but who are still patently irresponsible (e.g. some badly-behaved adults). Thus, I argue that to qualify for the accolade “a responsible person” one need not possess such (...) a capacity, but only to be earnestly willing to do the right thing and to have a history that testifies to this willingness. Although we may have good reasons to prefer to have such a capacity ourselves, and to associate ourselves with others who have it, at a conceptual level I do not think that such considerations support the claim that having this capacity is a necessary condition of being a responsible person in the virtue sense. (shrink)
In his controversial new book, Andrew Vincent offers a comprehensive, synoptic, and comparative analysis of the major conceptions of political theory throughout the twentieth century. The book challenges established views of contemporary political theory and provides critical perspectives on the future of the subject. It will be an indispensable resource for all scholars and students of the discipline.
Could neuroimaging evidence help us to assess the degree of a person’s responsibility for a crime which we know that they committed? This essay defends an affirmative answer to this question. A range of standard objections to this high-tech approach to assessing people’s responsibility is considered and then set aside, but I also bring to light and then reject a novel objection—an objection which is only encountered when functional (rather than structural) neuroimaging is used to assess people’s responsibility.