A growing literature testifies to the persistence of place as an incorrigible aspect of human experience, identity, and morality. Place is a common ground for thought and action, a community of experienced particulars that avoids solipsism and universalism. It draws us into the philosophy of the ordinary, into familiarity as a form of knowledge, into the wisdom of proximity. Each of these essays offers a philosophy of place, and reminds us that such philosophies ultimately decide how we make, use, and (...) understand places, whether as accidents, instruments, or fields of care. (shrink)
When Donna Rice, who was brought into the public limelight as a companion to ex-presidentiaI candidate Gary Hart, appeared at a university ethics seminar, her statement, and the subsequent coverage, raised three troubling questions for journalists: the nature of academic inquiry, journalistic practices, and the right of people to define themselves.
In the introduction to his Philosophical Papers 1&2 Charles Taylor assures us that his work, while encompassing a range of issues, follows a single, tightly knit agenda. He claims that the central questions concern "philosophical anthropology". Taylor's work on these questions has been presented piecemeal, in the form of articles and papers, and the student has had to imagine what a systematic monograph by Taylor on philosophical anthropology would look like. Neither Hegel, Sources of the Self, Ethics of Authenticity, Catholic (...) Modernity nor Varieties of Religion Today, nor Taylor's forthcoming books on secularization and modern social imaginaries are such treatises on the ontology of the human being. Nicholas H. Smith's monograph Charles Taylor: Meaning, Morals and Modernity (Polity, 2002) puts forward a clear and well-argued assessment of Taylor's entire project, with details on his intellectual biography and political engagement. For the purposes of thinking through Taylor's work so far, this book is probably the best one around. It is divided into eight chapters: "Linguistic Philosophy and Phenomenology", "Science, Action and the Mind", "The Romantic Legacy", "The Self and the Good", "Interpretation and the Social Sciences", "Individual and Community", "Politics and Social Criticism", and "Modernity, Art and Religion". The chapters are thematically ordered, but the order of presentation follows roughly the temporal order of Taylor's career. In this review article, I will begin with what Smith identifies as Taylor's organizing idea, and then focus on Smith's presentation of Taylor's transcendental argumentation concerning 'human constants'. As exemplars, I will discuss two of the.. (shrink)
In The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism, George H. Smith focuses his thematic approach regarding the study of classical liberal political philosophy on both natural-rights philosophers, in what Smith deems the “Lockean Paradigm,” and nineteenth-century utilitarian liberals. Smith does not merely provide an overview of the history of this theory—rather, he attempts to discover how and why liberal theory had faced major challenges in the nineteenth-century with regard to both its theoretical foundations (...) and its level of public support. Concluding, along with Herbert Spencer, that following positive results in innovation and in the economic sphere, which were achieved through the reduction of government power, “most people, seeing that these beneficial results had something to do with government, failed to differentiate between the repeal of onerous laws and the passing of new laws” (p. 213), Smith attempts to discover why liberals were unsuccessful in clai. (shrink)
We all think that science is special. Its products—its technological spin-off—dominate our lives which are thereby sometimes enriched and sometimes impoverished but always affected. Even the most outlandish critics of science such as Feyerabend implicitly recognize its success. Feyerabend told us that science was a congame. Scientists had so successfully hood-winked us into adopting its ideology that other equally legitimate forms of activity—alchemy, witchcraft and magic—lost out. He conjured up a vision of much enriched lives if only we could free (...) ourselves from the domination of the ‘one true ideology’ of science just as our ancestors freed us from the domination of the Church. But he told us these things in Switzerland and in California happily commuting between them in that most ubiquitous product of science—the aeroplane. (shrink)
Justin Smith's book, a sophisticated history of the scientific and philosophical debates on nature, human nature, and human difference in the last centuries, is an important contribution to the pressing task of understanding and remedying our seemingly intractable color prejudice, that "curious kink" of the "human mind," as W. E. B. DuBois put it in a passage Smith uses as an epigraph to his book. It reveals how kinds of people, notably races that appear to be natural kinds, (...) "carved out within nature," in fact only come into being "in the course of human history as a result of the way human beings conceptualize the world around them". It also reveals how the gradual emergence of the race concept was facilitated... (shrink)