Ethical Life sets out to act as a guide for those of us who want to better understand ethics. It offers answers to the two simplest and yet most difficult questions facing individuals who have fallen into the perplexities of contemporary life: Why be ethical, and how?
The tragedy of European civilization is a protracted historical event spanning the twentieth century and in many ways is ongoing. During this time some of the greatest modern thinkers were active, producing works that both refl ected what was happening in history and contributed towards shaping it. This work is a critique of their ideas. Harry Redner establishes where and how they went wrong, in some cases with apocalyptic consequences for Europe and the world. The great intellectuals of the age, (...) at once philosophers, sociologists, political theorists, historians and much else besides, include Marx, Weber, Freud, Elias, Spengler, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Arendt, Nietzsche, and Foucault. All of them had a historical impact, even if only in molding academic disciplines and shaping of public opinion, as was the case with the philosophers Wittgenstein and Arendt. This book explores the close links between anti-Semitism and cultural pessimism and the relation between psychology and sociology. Other themes range from the history and theory of the state, to the misconception of language and power. Suitable for students of sociology, philosophy, political theory, history, and cultural studies, this brilliant exploration of our civilization and its tragedies will also be of interest to intellectual general readers. (shrink)
Redner (politics, Monash U., Melbourne, Australia) builds on the thesis that crucial changes in human cultural history correlate with fundamental transformations in modes of representation. He traces human development from primitive culture to that of the present age to construct a comprehensive theory of culture. His theory challenges some established approaches in disciplines such as philosophy, semiotics, sociology, political theory, aesthetics, and history itself. Annotation copyright by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR.
A politically oriented study of the thought of the founders of the main schools of contemporary academic philosophy, those which dominate nearly all universities throughout the world. It concentrates on four key masters: Wittgenstein, who founded both Logical Positivism and the so-called Common Language or Analytic school; Heidegger, the acknowledged master of Hermeneutic Philosophy or the so-called Continental school; Lukacs, the founder of Hegelian Marxism and the leading Communist philosopher of the Soviet period; and, finally, the now lesser-known Gentile, the (...) Hegelian Idealist. (shrink)
This article critiques theories of the civilizing process as expounded by its leading expositors: Mennell, Elias and Freud. It begins with a criticism of Stephen Mennell’s book The American Civilizing Process. This book relies on an even more famous work, Norbert Elias’s The Civilizing Process. Unfortunately, Mennell’s otherwise commendable attempt to capture American civilization in its historical scope and sociological complexity is misdirected because Eliasian theory is not applicable to America, as we will show, and, furthermore, offers a dubious account (...) of civilization in general. Elias’s approach is limited above all by its reliance on Sigmund Freud’s doubtful speculations about civilization, as presented in Civilization and its Discontents. (shrink)
_Quintessence of Dust_ by Harry Redner argues for a science of matter and philosophy of mind based on emergence through five stages. It criticises mechanistic approaches to mind and advocates a philosophic synthesis of the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.
This article is an attempt to revise and extend two prior conceptions: Adorno and Horkheimer’s dialectic of Enlightenment and Murphy and Robert’s dialectic of Romanticism. It traces a developmental trajectory within German Kultur, starting around the mid-18th century, that goes through three moments or phases: the Grecophilia of Goethe and Schiller, the Grecomania of Hölderlin, Schelling and early Hegel, and the Grecogermania of Wagner, Nietzsche and Heidegger. The latter provided the ideological underpinning of Hitler’s Nazism. Thus the paper aims to (...) show that Nazism had deep roots within the soil of German Kultur, for almost from the very start Classicism and anti-Semitism were integral aspects of the one cultural movement. Furthermore, this movement was the one surrogate form of a Neo-Pagan and anti-Christian trend in German modernity. (shrink)
In a review of the recent Heidegger controversy, Richard Rorty maintains that "as a human being Heidegger was a rather nasty piece of work--a coward and a liar, pretty much from first to last" but, nevertheless, that "Heidegger was as original a philosopher as we have had in this century." According to Rorty, "being an original philosopher is like being an original mathematician or an original microbiologist or a consummate chess master: it is the result of some neural kink that (...) occurs independently of other kinks." Lorraine Code, who takes issue with Rorty's dismissal of epistemology by writing a book expounding it, would certainly disagree with this as well. Code holds that in any knowledge claim a "person's intellectual integrity counts as a significant part of the evidence in much the same way as in moral matters a person's moral integrity is a determining factor in decisions as to whether he or she should be trusted". So she is hardly likely to accept Rorty's contradictory assessment of Heidegger, and perhaps not even his view of originality in microbiology and mathematics, far less personal forms of knowledge. The great virtue of her book is to show that diverse kinds of epistemic responsibility, involved in various forms of knowledge, are not to be divorced from considerations of character. She claims that her epistemic approach, "by basing judgement on facts about a knowledge claimant's character, would allow justification to have sources that neither strict foundationalists nor coherentists can, ex hypothesi, acknowledge". (shrink)
These days every new departure in philosophy must be welcomed, even one that sounds old. Here at last is a philosopher who seems to take seriously Heisenberg's joke that the positivists are ready to engage in metamathematics, meta-language, meta-ethics and meta-anything until someone suggests meta-physics at which they gnash their teeth. But does Weissman wish to fly on "winged thought" to a new promised land of meta-physics or merely to take flight back to the old fleshpots of metaphysics? There are (...) impulses in both directions in this work. (shrink)
Now that the collective death of mankind has become a possibility, no other thought can remain unimpaired. Harry Redner traces historically the onset of this acute state of Nihilism from what might be called the Faustian revolution, symbolized by Faust's pronouncement “In the beginning was the Deed.” Redner reflects on the passage of the three main Fausts, from Marlowe’s to Goethe’s to Thomas Mann’s, and this reflection serves as the dramatic metaphor for a review of the relationship of Progress to (...) Nihilism in modern civilization. Starting with an exposition of the key Faustian thinkers—Marx, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger—the book proceeds by examining the dominant modern ideas on Man, Time, and Nihilism with reference to Foucault, Derrida, and Althusser. It focuses on Language, which is a key preoccupation of all these thinkers but has not yet been taken far enough to afford a basis for the explanation of fundamental changes in civilization. Language in its creative and destructive functions, as constituting both the conscious and unconscious of a culture, is reconceived so as to account for the hidden link between Progress and Nihilism. The author then explores sociologically the dominant aspects of Progress in terms of the ideas of Weber, Adorno, and Marcuse on Technology, Subjectivity, and Activism. Finally, an extensive literary study of the three main Fausts concludes with a coda on the future of music. In the Beginning Was the Deed is lucid and direct, tinged with wry humor. Redner represent Man in the nuclear age and reflects on that representation, seeking to comprehend our era, draw ethical and political conclusions, and explore action as a response to the threat of annihilation. (shrink)