During the British socialist revival of the 1880s competing theories of evolution were central to disagreements about strategy for social change. In News from Nowhere (1891), William Morris had portrayed socialism as the result of Lamarckian processes, and imagined a non-Malthusian future. H.G. Wells, an enthusiastic admirer of Morris in the early days of the movement, became disillusioned as a result of the Malthusianism he learnt from Huxley and his subsequent rejection of Lamarckism in light of Weismann's experiments on mice. (...) This brought him into conflict with his fellow Fabian, George Bernard Shaw, who rejected neo-Darwinism in favour of a Lamarckian conception of change he called "creative evolution.". (shrink)
We find before us an excellent edition of the book which the influential American thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson (1802-82) published in December of 1860, four months before the outbreak of the American Civil War. The central question which Emerson poses in this volume concerns the conduct of life, that is, of how to live. The titles of the nine essays, which compose the book, illustrate the themes tackled: “Fate,” “Power,” “Wealth”, “Culture,” “Behavior,” “Worship”, “Considerations by the Way,” “Beauty” and “Illusions.” (...) As Callaway suggests, Emerson’s is not a philosophy in the sense of contemporary technicalities, “the basic tendency of his thought is a metaphysical idealism in which the soul and intuition or inspiration are central.” (p. xvi). As an essentially religious thinker, profoundly preoccupied with the human soul and with the development of human potentialities, he has always firmly opposed to slavery: one cannot refuse to others human beings the development of their distinctively human potentialities (p. xxvii). (shrink)
Howard Callaway's new edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Society and Solitude is an invaluable contribution to both the primary and secondary literature on Emerson. Its contribution to the primary sources is its use of the original 1870 edition of Emerson's text, though with modernized spellings to facilitate the reader's understanding. Its contribution to the secondary literature consists in the scholarly apparatus of page-by-page annotations, an introduction, a chronology, a bibliography, and an index. Callaway's Society and Solitude is a worthy companion (...) to his earlier edition of Emerson's The Conduct of Life. (shrink)
As suggested in the subtitle, A New Philosophical Reading, the editor aspires in his Introduction and his notes to “facilitate a deeper understanding and a critical evaluation (...) of this crucial and difficult philosophical work” (p. ix). This was the last important book which James published during his lifetime. With it James aims at a critical evaluation of Hegelian monism and an exploration of the philosophical and theological alternatives. “Our world of some one hundred years on”—the editor says (p. ix)—“is (...) much the better for James’ contribution, and understanding William James on pluralism deeply contributes even now to America’s self-understanding.”. (shrink)
Context is mainly a critical history of one of the central strands – arguably, the central strand – of the analytic tradition in philosophy, namely, the philosophy of language. Key ﬁgures that put in an appearance include Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap, Ayer, Hempel, Tarski, Quine, Davidson, Putnam, and Dewey, the last being a somewhat odd ﬁgure, given the general tenor of Callaway’s cavalcade of stars. Meaning and analysis are the focus of attention, and true to his title, Callaway doesn’t hesitate (...) to criticize various positions as he makes his way – the book is organized more or less chronologically – from Frege to Davidson and Putnam. More than that, though, he doesn’t content himself with merely negative criticism. Original positions on various issues are argued for and integrated into an approach that’s largely inspired by Quine, but also pays a large tribute to Davidson and Dewey. (shrink)
Quine's Immanuel Kant lectures were delivered in English at Stanford University in 1980 under the title Science and Sensibilia. The English version of the text has never been published. An Italian translation by Michele Leonelli, La Scienza e I Dati di Senso appeared in 1987. These translations fill an important gap. Wissenschaft und Empfindung strikes me as the best presentation of Quine's physicalistic program.
A Pluralistic Universe is America's favourite philosopher's last complete work before he died in 1910. Nevertheless, it has been somewhat neglected as a final self-reckoning. Indeed the term "pragmatism" occurs pretty rarely in it, while "experience" and "pluralism" abound. As introduced and annotated by H.G. Callaway, the Cambridge Scholars edition offers some valuable background on James and the text itself, particularly for the nonspecialist reader. Besides retaining James's notes, Callaway has also provided his own glosses on important philosophical terms, translations (...) of the foreign phrases James so often fell back on, and an expanded index and new bibliography to the text. It is, as Callaway says, a "reading and study edition" (ix). (shrink)
The National Library of Finland and the Von Wright and Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Helsinki keep the collected correspondence of Georg Henrik von Wright, Wittgenstein’s friend and successor at Cambridge and one of the three literary executors of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass. Among von Wright’s correspondence partners, Elizabeth Anscombe and Rush Rhees are of special interest to Wittgenstein scholars as the two other trustees of the Wittgenstein papers. Thus, von Wright’s collections held in Finland promise to shed light on the (...) context of decades of editorial work that made Wittgenstein’s later philosophy available to all interested readers. In this text, we present the letters which von Wright received from Anscombe and Rhees during the first nine months after Wittgenstein’s death. This correspondence provides a vivid picture of the literary executors as persons and of their developing relationships. The presented letters are beautiful examples of what the correspondence as a whole has to offer; it depicts – besides facts of editing – the story of three philosophers, whose conversing voices unfold the human aspects of inheriting Wittgenstein’s Nachlass. Their story does not only deal with editing the papers of an eminent philosopher, but with the attempt to do justice to the man they knew, to his philosophy and to his wishes for publication. (shrink)
The German paleontologist H. G. Bronn is best remembered for his 1860 translation and critique of Darwin's Origin of Species, and for supposedly twisting Darwinian evolution into conformity with German idealistic morphology. This analysis of Bronn's writings shows, however, that far from being mired in an outmoded idealism that confined organic change to predetermined developmental pathways, Bronn had worked throughout the 1840s and 1850s on a new, historical approach to life. He had been moving from the study of plant and (...) animal forms in the abstract towards placing them into geological and biogeographical context, analyzing patterns of progress and adaptation, explaining species diversity and individual variation, and applying biological insights to practical problems such as artificial breeding. Even though Bronn never fully accepted the idea of species transformation, he saw Darwin's theory as a bold new move toward his own goal of establishing a comprehensive, historical science of life, and he presented it as such in his translation and commentary. Thus Darwin's ideas gained a quick and generally favorable hearing in Germany not because of their easy assimilability into an older tradition, but because of their appeal to the innovative Bronn. (shrink)
The present paper uses the theme of dialectic and dialogue to begin unraveling the similarities and differences between the hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur and H.G. Gadamer. Ricoeur is shown to distance himself from Heidegger by insisting on a dimension of explanation and distanciation (which he sometimes identifies with Plato's `descending dialectic') that cannot be reduced to, or absorbed by, understanding and appropriation. This same move, however, leads him to reject Platonic dialogue, with the attendant prioritizing of oral conversation over the (...) written text, as a model for hermeneutics. Ricoeur therefore sees in Gadamer's recourse to such a model a regression to the problematic position of Heidegger. Yet the conception of philosophy as dialectical and dialogical which Gadamer finds in Plato is capable of responding to Ricoeur's objections. Where the fundamental difference between the hermeneutics of Ricoeur and Gadamer emerges is in the question of whether experience is fundamentally dialectical and whether language is inherently dialogical. (shrink)
H. G. Wells has long occupied a curious place in the literary history of the early twentieth century, positioned as an extremely popular yet myopic outsider whose seeming miscalculation of the post-1910 literary zeitgeist acted in a directly inverse relation to his uncannily accurate technological predictions of the world to come. Wells’s reputation as a literary innovator in this period sunk in opposite relation to his rising stature as a futurologist, a shift whose repercussions for the author’s legacy are, as (...) both Roger Luckhurst and Steven McLean have recently noted, still largely evident in the ways his work is positioned, studied, and debated in the contemporary academy.1 As Wells’s 1890s scientific romances .. (shrink)
In the last few years H.G. Callaway has produced several helpful editions of some important texts by Emerson. Emerson's Conduct of Life was originally published in 1860, and it has appeared in a number of editions since then, but Callaway's edition has several noteworthy features that cause it to stand out from the crowd and make it an important contribution to Emerson studies. This is a rare volume that will serve students, academic philosophers, and causal readers alike: a critical edition (...) of a less-familiar text that is attractive to ordinary readers without sacrificing scholarly rigor. (shrink)
The shift in focus has changed the nature of the Project in a way which we hadn't expected and didn't really notice until this revision. Back in the late 1980s, we started the project as a "work around" for a situation that we found personally frustrating. We believed that widely-held beliefs about Mead's ideas were misinterpretations. But his published statements were often difficult to obtain. It was easier for scholars to rely from the secondary literature about Mead than to consult (...) primary sources. As a result, those frustrating misinterpretations persisted. Our solution: republish as much of Mead as possible in machine-readable form to make distribution, familiarity, and study easier. When the Web was established, we abandon plans for a CD and prepared the documents for the new medium. George's Page was born. (shrink)
It is a curious fact that the much maligned ontological argument to prove the existence of God has in recent times enjoyed a revival of interest to which even Karl Barth, the arch-enemy of natural theology has contributed; but since the revival of interest has appared in a wide diversity of intellectual contexts, both philosophical and theological, the revival is itself almost as problematic as the argument itself.
In a recent article ‘The Problem of Natural Theology’, Professor N. H. G. Robinson has considered the requirements of a ‘genuinely empirical natural theology’. For the first section of it, a very clear sorting-out of recent debates on the ontological argument, I have nothing but admiration. It ends with the question: ‘Granted that if we think of God we must think of him as necessarily existing, why must we think of God at all?’, followed by the comment: ‘We seem thrown, (...) without any prospect of rest, between apriorism and [Barthian] empiricism’. Robinson is rightly dissatisfied with that situation, and in his second section he raises the question whether there cannot be an approach to God which the debates on the ontological arguments have overlooked and which may be properly called an ‘empirical’ one, free from Barthian presuppositions. He finds what seems to be such an approach in Professor E. L. Mascall's Existence and Analogy but concludes that it is in fact after all a form of ‘rationalism’. In the third section he criticises Professor T. F. Torrance's defence of Barth's position in a way which seems to me most satisfactory, and in the fourth he makes his own positive proposals. With these I am in substantial agreement. It is only his account of Mascall's position, in particular at the end of his second section, which seems to call for critical comment. (shrink)
(2000). Scientific utopianism in Francis bacon and H.G. wells: From Salomon's house to the open conspiracy. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy: Vol. 3, The Philosophy of Utopia, pp. 172-188.
In recent years the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein have received much attention from philosophers in general and especially from philosophers interested in religion; and there is no doubt that Wittgenstein's legacy of thought is both highly suggestive and highly problematical. It seems likely, however, that the vogue which Wittgenstein now enjoys owes not a little to his peculiar place in the development of modern philosophy and, in particular, of that empiricist tradition in philosophy which stems from what has been called (...) the revolution in philosophy in the early decades of the present century. (shrink)
In his book on Karl Barth Professor T. F. Torrance spoke at one point of ‘the great watershed of modern theology’. ‘There are,’ he wrote, 1 ‘two basic issues here. On the one hand, it is the very substance of the Christian faith that is at stake, and on the other hand, it is the fundamental nature of scientific method, in its critical and methodological renunciation of prior understanding, that is at stake. This is the great watershed of modern theology: (...) either we take the one way or the other – there is no third alter native… one must go either in the direction taken by Barth or in the direction taken by Bultmann.’. (shrink)
This book is a translation of W.V. Quine's Kant Lectures, given as a series at Stanford University in 1980. It provide a short and useful summary of Quine's philosophy. There are four lectures altogether: I. Prolegomena: Mind and its Place in Nature; II. Endolegomena: From Ostension to Quantification; III. Endolegomena loipa: The forked animal; and IV. Epilegomena: What's It all About? The Kant Lectures have been published to date only in Italian and German translation. The present book is filled out (...) with the translator's critical Introduction, "The esoteric Quine?" a bibliography based on Quine's sources, and an Index for the volume. (shrink)
In his article ‘Professor Bartley's Theory of Rationality and Religious Belief’ Mr W. D. Hudson has brought considerable clarification to the rather confused situation occasioned by Professor W. W. Bartley's book The Retreat to Commitment and its subsequent discussion; but the process can, I think, be carried still further.
In several works on modality, G. H. von Wright presents tree structures to explain possible worlds. Worlds that might have developed from an earlier world are possible relative to it. Actually possible worlds are possible relative to the world as it actually was at some point. Many logically consistent worlds are not actually possible. Transitions from node to node in a tree structure are probabilistic. Probabilities are often more useful than similarities between worlds in treating counterfactual conditionals.