Immediately upon the death of Plato in 347 BCE, philosophers in the Academy began to circulate stories involving his encounters with wisdom practitioners from Persia. This article examines the history of Greek perceptions of Persian wisdom and argues that the presence of foreign wisdom practitioners in the history of Greek philosophy has been undervalued since Diogenes Laertius.
The story of Dion of Syracuse was told by ancient writers, and is still being told by modern historians, in the main as a story of ‘freedom versus tyranny’. The liberation of the greatest state in the Hellenic world from the rule of the most powerful tyrants' house in Greek experience fired the imagination and aroused the admiration of contemporary and later writers. There is, however, another side to the story of Dion.
In recent years, the growing academic field called “Data Science” has made many promises. On closer inspection, relatively few of these promises have come to fruition. A critique of Data Science from the phenomenological tradition can take many forms. This paper addresses the promise of “participation” in Data Science, taking inspiration from Paul Majkut’s 2000 work in Glimpse, “Empathy’s Impostor: Interactivity and Intersubjectivity,” and some insights from Heidegger’s "The Question Concerning Technology." The description of Data Science provided in the scholarly (...) literature includes “the study of the generalizable extraction of knowledge from data” (Dhar 2013, 64), “data stewardship and data sharing…access to data at higher volumes and more quickly, and the potential for replication and augmentation of existing research” (Hartter et al., 2013, 1), and “personal information, health status, daily activities and shopping preferences that are recorded and used to give us instant feedback and recommendations based on previous online behavior.” (Shin 2013) United States universities have begun to offer graduate programs in “data science”, anticipating the growth of this field for marketing, national security, and health industries. These universities include New York University, Columbia University, Stanford, Northwestern, and Syracuse. (shrink)
For at least two millennia, religious traditions, spiritual communities and secular moral thinkers have debated the nature and sources of forgiveness. But near the end of the twentieth century understanding forgiveness took on new urgency, as divided societies looked to forgiveness as a vehicle of reconciliation, governments sought forgiveness for past wrongs, and popular psychology explored the therapeutic effects of forgiveness. These developments have led to a remarkable increase in scholarship on forgiveness: philosophers examine its moral nature; psychologists seek to (...) measure it and determine its contribution to well-being; historians and political theorists consider its relevance to national projects of reconciliation.Earlier versions of this paper were delivered to audiences at Syracuse University and Seton Hall University. I am grateful to the journal editor and anonymous readers for suggesting helpful revisions.Yet forgiveness remains a complex and often perplexing phenomenon .. (shrink)
Archimedes of Syracuse has long provided a touchstone for considering how we make and acquire knowledge. Since the early Roman chroniclers of Archimedes’ life, and especially intensively since Descartes, scholars have described, sought, or derided the Archimedean point, defining and redefining its epistemic role. “Knowledge,” at least within modernity, is rhetorically tied to the figure of the Archimedean point, a place somewhere outside a regular and constrained world of experience. If this figure still leads to useful ways of thinking (...) about knowing, we are left with the question of how different modes of making knowledge approach their “Archimedean” points. The question is especially important today as a renewed .. (shrink)
Archytas of Tarentum was a central figure in fourth-century Greek life and thought and the last great philosopher in the early Pythagorean tradition. He solved a famous mathematical puzzle, saved Plato from the tyrant of Syracuse, led a powerful Greek city state, and was the subject of three books by Aristotle. This first extensive study of Archytas' work in any language presents a radically new interpretation of his significance for fourth-century Greek thought and his relationship to Plato, as well (...) as a full commentary on all the fragments and testimonia. (shrink)
Philoxenus of Cythera's dithyramb, Cyclops or Galatea, was a poem famous in antiquity as the source for the story of Polyphemus' love for the sea-nymph Galatea. The exact date of composition is uncertain, but the poem must pre-date 388 B.C., when it was parodied by Aristophanes in the parodos of Plutus , and probably, as we shall see below, post-dates 406, the point at which Dionysius I became tyrant of Syracuse . The Aristophanic parody of the work may well (...) point to a recent performance in Athens, perhaps the first, and it is hard to identify any more significant reason for mentioning the poem. Previous accounts of the poem have concentrated on two main points, its supposed satirical purpose, and the possibly dramatic nature of its performance, but there has been no attempt to consider these two points in relation to each other, or to assess in detail the value of the source-material. I argue that although there is some evidence to support the satirical reading of the poem, the main value of this tradition is that it reveals Philoxenus' comic treatment of his subject, and that while the Galatea motif has previously been considered the essential element in this comic treatment, it was probably a small part of the plot, perhaps only briefly alluded to. Finally I provide reasons for doubting the prevalent view that the performance included dramatic elements. (shrink)
There is no authoritative biography of Archimedes, but there are moments from his life which, apocryphal or not, have become the stuff of legend. These include accounts of Archimedes running naked through the streets after realizing that his body displaces water in the bath , how he sat musing over diagrams in the sand as sword-bearing Romans descended upon him during a siege of Syracuse, and of course, his mechanically-informed claim that a firm resting place is all he would (...) need to dislodge the world from its axis. This is the birth of the Archimedean point, which latter-day interpretations craft into a figure of thought that works according to the mechanical principle it describes: effortlessly, it .. (shrink)
The Hiero is an account in Socratic conversational form of a meeting between Simonides the poet and Hiero the tyrant of Syracuse; it was written by Xenophon of Athens in the fourth century b.c., but is set in the fifth, when the historical Simonides and Hiero lived and met. The subject they are portrayed discussing is the relative happiness of the tyrant and private individual. Plato also makes this a topic of discussion in his Republic. However, whereas Plato writes (...) a regular Socratic dialogue, Xenophon does not, for though he represents his characters using Socratic conversation, Socrates himself does not appear; the characteros of the Hiero are Simonides and Hiero, poet and tyrant. This is the problem of the Hiero. It requires explanation. The action of the Hiero is initiated by Simonides and begins in the following way: Simonides the poet once came to the court of Hiero the tyrant. When they were both at leisure, Simonides said, ‘Would you be willing to tell me, Hiero, something you are likely to know better than I?’ And Hiero said, ‘What is it that I should know better than you, who are such a wise man?’ He replied, ‘I know that you were once a private individual and are now a tyrant. Since you have experienced both conditions, you are likely to know better than I how tyrannical life differs from private life in respect of men's pleasures and griefs’ . The identification of Simonides as a wise man who nevertheless seeks wisdom from others establishes his Socratic nature from the start. (shrink)
There have been two attempts in the history of human speculation to estimate the number of particles in the universe. The first was that of Archimedes of Syracuse about 216 B. C., and the second that of Sir Arthur Eddington nearly two thousand years later. What is surprising is that they both arrive at the same number. This is the number obtained by multiplying ten by itself seventy-nine times.
The story of Actaeon of Corinth is a slight, rationalized, romantic version of the original Boeotian myth, and as such has occasionally received a brief notice. In the Corinthian story Melissos his father had rescued Corinth from an attack by Pheidon of Argos, and was therefore held in great honour by the Corinthians. The boy Actaeon was torn to pieces not by his dogs but by bis drunken Bacchiad admirers, and after the murder Melissos, unable to get legal redress from (...) the Corinthians, cursed them publicly at the Isthmian festival and jumped over a cliff. Plutarch and Diodorus name the Bacchiad Archias as the chief culprit, and Plutarch ends with Archias' departure to found Syracuse and his eventual death there. The story has an historical not a mythical setting, and has attracted some slight attention from historians, either in the hope of light on the obscure question of Pheidon's relations with Corinth, or because of the chronological implication that Pheidon reigned a generation or more before the foundation of Syracuse. In neither aspect has its evidence been rated high, and that is not surprising, especially since attention has been concentrated mainly on Plutarch's story. I believe, however, that we can distinguish an earlier version, and that the historical implications of this original are less disreputable. (shrink)
The story of the votum made by the inhabitants of Locri Epizephyrii in 477/6 is well known: they vowed to prostitute their virgin daughters at the festival of Aphrodite, if they were granted victory over the tyrant Leophron of Rhegion who was directing an attack against their city. The threat, which was very serious, was overcome thanks to Hieron of Syracuse, but the Locrians did not fulfil the votum; they were reminded of it more than a century later, but (...) that is another story. (shrink)
Hieron of Syracuse was the most powerful Greek of his day. He was also, and the two facts are not unrelated, the most frequent of Pindar's patrons. A singular feature of the four poems for this Sicilian prince is their obsession with sin and punishment: Tantalus in the First Olympian, Typhoeus, Ixion, and Coronis in the first three Pythians – all offend divinity and suffer terribly. But even in this company, where glory comes trailing clouds of pain, the Third (...) Pythian stands out. The other three odes are manifestly epinician and celebrate success, both athletic and military. The Second Pythian, for instance, is a sombre canvas, and a motif of ingratitude dominates the myth. Yet it rings at the outset with praise of Syracuse and of Hieron's victory. The Third Pythian, by comparison, is not obviously a victory ode. (shrink)
When Archimedes, while bathing, suddenly hit upon the principle of buoyancy, he ran wildly through the streets of Syracuse, stark naked, crying "eureka!" In The Moment of Proof, Donald Benson attempts to convey to general readers the feeling of eureka--the joy of discovery--that mathematicians feel when they first encounter an elegant proof. This is not an introduction to mathematics so much as an introduction to the pleasures of mathematical thinking. And indeed the delights of this book are many and (...) varied. The book is packed with intriguing conundrums--Loyd's Fifteen Puzzle, the Petersburg Paradox, the Chaos Game, the Monty Hall Problem, the Prisoners' Dilemma--as well as many mathematical curiosities. We learn how to perform the arithmetical proof called "casting out nines" and are introduced to Russian peasant multiplication, a bizarre way to multiply numbers that actually works. The book shows us how to calculate the number of ways a chef can combine ten or fewer spices to flavor his soup (1,024) and how many people we would have to gather in a room to have a 50-50 chance of two having the same birthday (23 people). But most important, Benson takes us step by step through these many mathematical wonders, so that we arrive at the solution much the way a working scientist would--and with much the same feeling of surprise. Every fan of mathematical puzzles will be enthralled by The Moment of Proof. Indeed, anyone interested in mathematics or in scientific discovery in general will want to own this book. (shrink)
Archytas of Tarentum is one of the three most important philosophers in the Pythagorean tradition, a prominent mathematician, who gave the first solution to the famous problem of doubling the cube, an important music theorist, and the leader of a powerful Greek city-state. He is famous for sending a trireme to rescue Plato from the clutches of the tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius II, in 361 BC. This 2005 study was the first extensive enquiry into Archytas' work in any language. (...) It contains original texts, English translations and a commentary for all the fragments of his writings and for all testimonia concerning his life and work. In addition there are introductory essays on Archytas' life and writings, his philosophy, and the question of authenticity. Carl A. Huffman presents an interpretation of Archytas' significance both for the Pythagorean tradition and also for fourth-century Greek thought, including the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. (shrink)
Abstract I provide an account of the nature of seemings that explains why they are necessary for justification. The account grows out of a picture of cognition that explains what is required for epistemic agency. According to this account, epistemic agency requires (1) possessing the epistemic aims of forming true beliefs and avoiding errors, and (2) having some means of forming beliefs in order to satisfy those aims. I then argue that seeming are motives for belief characterized by their role (...) of providing us with doxastic instructions guided by our epistemic aims. Understanding the nature of seemings allows us to underwrite recent epistemological work by Michael Huemer, and shows why he was right to claim that seemings are the source of all justification. I then look at some objections both to my arguments regarding the connection between seemings and justification, and to Huemer’s related “Principle of Phenomenal Conservatism”. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-21 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9830-2 Authors Matthew Skene, Syracuse University, 8330 E. Quincy Ave., I-307, Denver, CO 80237, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116. (shrink)
Questions about the status of literary truth are as old as literary criticism, but they have become both more intricate and more compelling as literature has grown progressively more self-conscious and labyrinthian in its dealings with "reality." One might perhaps read The Iliad or even David Copperfield without raising such issues. But authors like Gide , Nabokov, Borges, and Robbe-Grillet seem continually to remind their readers of the complex nature of literary truth. How, for instance, are we to deal with (...) a passage like the following from William Demby's novel The Catacombs:"When I began this novel, I secretly decided that, though I would exercise a strict selection of the facts to write down, be they 'fictional' facts or 'true' facts taken from newspapers or directly observed events in my own life, once I had written something down I would neither edit not censor it ."1What does this sentence mean? When an apparently fictional narrator distinguishes between "fictional" and "true" facts, what is the status of the word "true"? It clearly does not mean the same as "fictional," for he opposes it to that term. Yet it cannot mean "true" in the sense that historians would use, for he calls what he is writing a novel, and even if he quotes accurately from newspapers, the events of a narrator's life are not "historically" true. · 1. William Demby, The Catacombs , p.93. Peter J. Rabinowitz, assistant professor at Kirkland College, is currently working on articles on Raymond Chandler, Faulkner, and Dostoyevsky and is, as well, a music critic for the Syracuse Guide. He wrote his doctoral dissertation in comparative literature on the philosophical implications of Nabokov's use of humor and terror. "Truth in Fiction" is the first article he has had published in a scholarly journal. (shrink)
Syracuse University, NY, USA This paper seeks to demonstrate that hermeneutics is a powerful conceptual tool for exploring the current trend towards theorizing justice as a conversation. Specifically we explore the work of John Rawls in order to describe the particular variety of hermeneu tics at work in both 'political liberalism' and 'justice as fairness' and to critique this hermeneutics from the perspective of the ontological hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer. Using the critique of Quinean pragmatism found in Joseph Rouse's (...) epistemology, we draw a par allel between the 'hermeneutics as translation' in Quine and Rawls's public reason. This parallel, we argue, helps us better understand the features and the limitations of political liberalism, especially when Rawls's hermeneutics is contrasted with the possibility of a theory of justice inspired by Gadamer. Key Words: democracy dialogue Gadamer hermeneutics justice pluralism Quine Rawls. (shrink)
The thermodynamics of life Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11016-012-9651-8 Authors J. Scott Turner, SUNY, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Certain general ideas come up repeatedly, in various guises, when contemporary poetry is discussed. One of these might be described as the question of what, if anything, is our social responsibility as poets.That is, there are things writers owe the art of poetry—work, perhaps. And in a sense there are things writers owe themselves—emotional truthfulness, attention toward one’s own feelings. But what, if anything, can a poet be said to owe other people in general, considered as a community? For what (...) is the poet answerable? This is a more immediate—though more limited—way of putting the question than such familiar terms as “political poetry.”Another recurring topic is what might be called Poetry Gloom. I mean that sourness and kvetching that sometimes come into our feelings about our art: the mysterious disaffections, the querulous doubts, the dispirited mood in which we ask ourselves, has contemporary poetry gone downhill, does anyone at all read it, has poetry become a mere hobby, do only one’s friends do it well, and so forth. This matter often comes up in the form of questions about the “popularity” or “audience” of poetry.Possibly the appetite for poetry really was greater in the good old days, in other societies. After the total disaster at Syracuse, when the Athenians, their great imperialist adventure failed, were being massacred, or branded as slaves with the image of a horse burned into the forehead, a few were saved for the sake of Euripides, whose work, it seems, was well thought of by the Syracusans. “Many of the captives who got safe back to Athens,” writes Plutarch,Are said, after they reached home, to have gone and made their acknowledgments to Euripides, relating how some of them had been released from their slavery by teaching what they could remember of his poems and others, when straggling after the fight, had been relieved with meat and drink for repeating some of his lyrics. Robert Pinsky teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. His most recent book of poems, History of My Heart, was awarded the William Carlos Williams Prize. His other books include Sadness and Happiness, An Explanation of America, and a volume of criticism, The Situation of Poetry. Mindwheel, his narrative entertainment for computer, has been issued by Brøderbund Software. (shrink)
Psychoanalysis has, in the very nature of its object, an interest in and difficulty with the concept of place as well as an interest in and difficulty with the logic of place, topology. The Unconscious can thus seem to give rise to a certain prospect of mathesis or formalization; and such formalization, achieved, would offer a ground for the psychoanalytic claim to scientific knowledge relatively independent of empirical questions and approaching the condition of mathematics. This might then seem to have (...) been Lacan’s wager in organizing the researches of his école around works of theoretical elaboration rather than clinical study; certainly some such notion must underlie Miller’s claim to be “axiomatic.”1In this paper I want to explore some of Lacan’s formalizations as they are unfolded in the seminar Encore. 2 I will in effect be looking at the place of place or places in psychoanalysis—in particular, I will be looking at the place of jouissance in Lacan’s psychoanalysis and at the places of what Lacan punningly calls jouis-sens. The joint problematic here might be called one of “enjoymeant,” combining the logic of pleasure with the pleasure of logic. For Lacan, questions of jouissance, however punned, are questions of unity and selfhood, so in examining the reciprocal play of pleasure and sense I will be examining how Lacanian psychoanalysis secures itself in place. This last topic touches implicitly in Encore on questions of legacy and inheritance, so in the end I will also have something to say about the limits Lacan’s formalizations would impose on our enjoyment of Freud. I should note in advance that Encore, Lacan’s seminar of 1972-73, is an extraordinarily compact and involuted text, even by his standards, and of a corresponding richness, weaving sustained meditations on such figures as Georges Bataille, Roman Jakobson, Kierkegaard, and Aquinas with “mathemystical” digressions on sexuality, discourse, Borromean knots, and the like. The reading offered here is perforce schematic. 1. By and large the evidences of the Lacanian clinic are closed to us in consequence of Lacan’s insistence on theoretical elaboration. But it should not go unremarked that much of the work of Lacan’s school seems to have focused on areas traditionally recalcitrant to psychoanalytic treatment—alcoholism, retardation, and psychosis—and that such an emphasis is responsive to traditional empirically minded critiques of the limits of psychoanalysis.2. It should perhaps be noted in this context that the project of a genuinely public presentation of Lacan’s seminars seems to have been abandoned in favor of the more circumscribed circulation of texts through the Lacanian journal Ornicar? Stephen Melville is assistant professor of English at Syracuse University. He is the author of Philosophy Beside Itself: On Deconstruction and Modernism and is currently completing a series of essays on postmodern art and criticism. (shrink)
It has usually been held, on the strength of several passages in Thucydides, that the Athenian army which was besieging Syracuse in 414–413 b.c. contained a contingent of Etruscans desirous of retaliating upon the Syracusans for losses inflicted upon them in past days—e.g., in 474 at Cumae and in 453 at Elba.
In the year of Eubulus' archonship at Athens , Timoleon the Corinthian, who had been chosen by his fellow citizens to command at Syracuse, prepared for his expedition to Sicily. He hired seven hundred mercenaries and having put his soldiers aboard four triremes and three fast sailing ships departed from Corinth. Following the coastal route he picked up three further ships from the Leucadians and Corcyreans and then with ten ships in all crossed the Ionian gulf to Italy. Thus (...) far Diodorus Siculus 16. 66. 1–2. In the course of the crossing, Diodorus continues , a peculiar and miraculous event befell Timoleon, with the supernatural order coming to the support of his enterprise and foreshadowing his eventual fame and the glory of his achievements. I now quote Diodorus' own words: δι' λης γρ τς νυκτς προηγετο λαμπάς καιομένη κατ τν ορανόν μέχρι ο συνέβη τν στόλον ες τν ταλίαν καταπλεσαι In translation: ‘throughout the whole night he was preceded by a torch that blazed in the sky until the flotilla reached land in Italy’. No more than a single night would, of course, have been required in order to accomplish the crossing of the gulf, with Timoleon presumably heading from Corcyra for the Iapygian promontory as was normal procedure in such transits. Diodorus goes on to recount that Timoleon, who had been informed in Corinth that Demeter and Persephone would accompany him on his voyage, recognized the actual assistance of the two goddesses, dedicated his best ship to them and named it Sacred vessel of Demeter and Kore. After diplomatic activity at Metapontum and Rhegium Timoleon proceeded from Italy to Sicily, where he landed at Tauromenium still in the year of Eubulus. (shrink)
In the year of Eubulus' archonship at Athens, Timoleon the Corinthian, who had been chosen by his fellow citizens to command at Syracuse, prepared for his expedition to Sicily. He hired seven hundred mercenaries and having put his soldiers aboard four triremes and three fast sailing ships departed from Corinth. Following the coastal route he picked up three further ships from the Leucadians and Corcyreans and then with ten ships in all crossed the Ionian gulf to Italy. Thus far (...) Diodorus Siculus 16. 66. 1–2. In the course of the crossing, Diodorus continues, a peculiar and miraculous event befell Timoleon, with the supernatural order coming to the support of his enterprise and foreshadowing his eventual fame and the glory of his achievements. I now quote Diodorus' own words: δι' λης γρ τς νυκτς προηγετο λαμπάς καιομένη κατ τν ορανόν μέχρι ο συνέβη τν στόλον ες τν ταλίαν καταπλεσαι In translation: ‘throughout the whole night he was preceded by a torch that blazed in the sky until the flotilla reached land in Italy’. No more than a single night would, of course, have been required in order to accomplish the crossing of the gulf, with Timoleon presumably heading from Corcyra for the Iapygian promontory as was normal procedure in such transits. Diodorus goes on to recount that Timoleon, who had been informed in Corinth that Demeter and Persephone would accompany him on his voyage, recognized the actual assistance of the two goddesses, dedicated his best ship to them and named it Sacred vessel of Demeter and Kore. After diplomatic activity at Metapontum and Rhegium Timoleon proceeded from Italy to Sicily, where he landed at Tauromenium still in the year of Eubulus. (shrink)
R. S. Bluck’s engaging volume provides an accessible introduction to the thought of Plato. In the first part of the book the author provides an account of the life of the philosopher, from Plato’s early years, through to the Academy, the first visit to Dionysius and the third visit to Syracuse, and finishing with an account of his final years. In the second part contains a discussion of the main purpose and points of interest of each of Plato’s works. (...) There is a chapter on Plato’s central doctrine, the Theory of Ideas, and a translation of Plato’s Seventh Letter , which not only provides valuable additional material for the study of Plato’s thought but also contains a vivid account of many incidents in Plato’s life. (shrink)
R. S. Bluck’s engaging volume provides an accessible introduction to the thought of Plato. In the first part of the book the author provides an account of the life of the philosopher, from Plato’s early years, through to the Academy, the first visit to Dionysius and the third visit to Syracuse, and finishing with an account of his final years. In the second part contains a discussion of the main purpose and points of interest of each of Plato’s works. (...) There is a chapter on Plato’s central doctrine, the Theory of Ideas, and a translation of Plato’s _Seventh Letter_, which not only provides valuable additional material for the study of Plato’s thought but also contains a vivid account of many incidents in Plato’s life. (shrink)
Jeffry H. Morrison offers readers the first comprehensive look at the political thought and career of John Witherspoon—a Scottish Presbyterian minister and one of America’s most influential and overlooked founding fathers. Witherspoon was an active member of the Continental Congress and was the only clergyman both to sign the Declaration of Independence and to ratify the federal Constitution. During his tenure as president of the College of New Jersey at Princeton, Witherspoon became a mentor to James Madison and influenced many (...) leaders and thinkers of the founding period. He was uniquely positioned at the crossroads of politics, religion, and education during the crucial first decades of the new republic. Morrison locates Witherspoon in the context of early American political thought and charts the various influences on his thinking. This impressive work of scholarship offers a broad treatment of Witherspoon’s constitutionalism, including his contributions to the mediating institutions of religion and education, and to political institutions from the colonial through the early federal periods. This book will be appreciated by anyone with an interest in American political history and thought and in the relation of religion to American politics. “I have been waiting a long time for such a book on John Witherspoon. This book is not only well-researched, but well-written. The story Morrison tells is quite wonderful.” —_Michael Novak, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research_ _ _ "Dr. John Witherspoon is at once an exceptionally influential figure in Early American history, and a sadly neglected one. Professor Morrison's book fills this gap in American political history brilliantly. It is especially revealing of 18th century views on the interrationships between education, religion, and society. Morrison presents new insights into the Early American understanding of balancing faith, government, and society. It will change our conceptions of this period and provide fresh perspectives on contemporary problems. Everyone interested in the American Founding era is indebted to Morrison for this illuminating book." —_Garrett Ward Sheldon, University of Virginia's College at Wise_ "At last we have a full and learned account, as the title states, of _JOHN WITHERSPOON aND THE FOUNDING OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC_. Including discussion of Witherspoon's direct role in the crucial events of 1775-1790 as an advocate of Independence and friend of the Constitution, as a contributor to early American religious and political thought, and most important, as a mentor to James Madison and other Princeton revolutionairies and nation-builders, Morrison reveals Witherspoon's high standing in American religious, educational, and political history. Madison remembered Witherspoon's injunction to his students to 'Lead useful Lives;' he provided an excellent role model." —_Ralph Ketcham, Syracuse University_. (shrink)
It has been claimed, out of admiration for the great thinker, that his political errors have nothing to do with his philosophy. If only we could be content with that! Wholly unnoticed was how damaging such a “defense” of so important a thinker really is. And how could it be made consistent with the fact that the same man, in the fifties, saw and said things about the industrial revolution and technology that today are still truly astonishing for their foresight?In (...) any case: no surprise should be expected from those of us who, for fifty years, have reflected on what dismayed us in those days and separated us from Heidegger for many years: no surprise when we hear that in 1933—and for years previous, and for how long after?—he “believed” in Hitler. But Heidegger was also no mere opportunist. If we wish to dignify his political engagement by calling it a “standpoint,” it would be far better to call it a political “illusion,” which had notably little to do with political reality. If Heidegger later, in the face of all realities, would again dream his dream from those days, the dream of a “people’s religion” [Volksreligion], the later version would embrace his deep disappointment over the actual course of affairs. But he continued guarding that dream—and kept silent about it. Earlier, in 1933 and 1934, he thought he was following his dream, and fulfilling his deepest philosophical mission, when he tried to revolutionize the university from the ground up. It was for that that he did everything that horrified us at that time. For him the sole issue was to break the political influence of the church and the tenacity of academic bossdom. Even Ernst Jünger’s vision of “the worker” [der Arbeiter] was given a place beside his own ideas about overcoming the metaphysical tradition via the reawakening of Being. Later, as is known, Heidegger wandered all the way to his radical talk of the end of philosophy. That was his “revolution.” Hans-Georg Gadamer is professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Heidelberg. His books include Truth and Method, Philosophical Hermeneutics, The Idea of the Good in Platonic-Aristotelian Philosophy, and The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays. John McCumber, associate professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, is the author of Poetic Interaction: Language, Freedom, Reason. (shrink)
Suppose that at the moment of death, a person goes out of existence.1 This has been thought to pose a problem for the idea that death is bad for its victim. But what exactly is the problem? Harry Silverstein says the problem stems from the truth of the “Values Connect with Feelings” thesis (VCF), according to which it must be possible for someone to have feelings about a thing in order for that thing to be bad for that person (2000, (...) 122). But in order for a person to have feelings about a thing, the person and the thing must coexist in some way. Thus Silverstein feels compelled to endorse a metaphysical view he calls “four-dimensionalism,” but which I prefer to call “eternalism”: the view that purely past and purely future objects and events exist.2 I agree with Silverstein that the badness of death entails eternalism. But the reason is different. Eternalism must be true in order for there to be a time at which death is bad for its victim. Death is bad for its victim at all those times when the victim is worse off for having died: namely, the times when he would have been living a good life had that death not occurred.3 Silverstein rejects this view; he thinks there is something wrong with the very question of when death is bad for its victim. In what follows I argue that Silverstein has not shown the relevance of eternalism to VCF or the badness of death, and I defend my view about the time of death’s badness against Silverstein’s arguments. (shrink)