ABSTRACT The article analyzes recent Western interpretations of the Theravāda Buddhist position on free will in order to reveal how differences in worldview and methodology impact claims about agency—exposing assumptions about the meaning of will, cause, and self—and how commonalities across traditions enable us to discover what may be at stake, more generally, in the philosophical problem of free will. Embedded in different ontologies and expressed by disparate means are similar intuitions about consciousness, coercion, and the transformative power of wisdom (...) as well as deeply human concerns about what we can and cannot change and with whom we should or should not find fault. Ultimately, this study of cross-cultural conversations aims to demonstrate how careful attention to assumptions underlying the concepts of will, causation, selfhood, and desert can prove both edifying and liberating. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This essay reflects on what it would mean to have faith in the reality of truth, particularly in light of current affairs and the apparent insignificance and impotence of truth to sway opinion or affect behavior. In doing so, it draws on American pragmatism's consequentialist epistemology, C. S. Peirce's “Fixation of Belief,” and George Santayana's concept of a realm of truth.
The recent development of a field known as experimental philosophy—in particular, its subfield devoted to moral decision making—invites us to reflect on what it means to experiment in ethics and how it is that philosophers determine the good. Furthermore, as this new discipline uses the methods of experimental psychology to examine our intuitions about such things as praise, blame, and moral responsibility, we ought to consider the relationship between ethics and our psychological makeup. To this end, it will be beneficial (...) to consider the American pragmatists' interpretations of these issues. Ethics, for these thinkers, was both a psychological and an experimental enterprise, one in which all of our psychological .. (shrink)
This article will consider the unique contribution that the dramatic arts can make to philosophical practices of communication and reflection. While argumentation typically advocates a particular position over and against less plausible options, dramatic performance can convey the rich possibilities and tensions among conflicting points of view without ultimately taking a definitive stance. This genre, as a performed narrative involving multiple perspectives, can illuminate the complexity and legitimacy of a plurality of—often competing—theoretical commitments, whereas direct argumentation, by its very nature, (...) must weaken the opposition by putting it in a less compelling light. Theater, by its very methods, can .. (shrink)
The article considers liberal progressivism as an ambivalent set of ideological commitments and uses Tony Kushner’s Angels in America to make this point. In addition, it considers John Dewey’s theory of religious ideals and his progressivism as a way of making sense of both the themes of the play and the overall thesis.
Neste artigo, argumento que a marca de uma metafísica viável é tanto prática e ética quanto é lógica e sistemática. Para tal, analiso os Diálogos no Limbo de George Santayana, no qual ele afirma seu apoio ao materialismo atomístico de Demócrito em bases pragmáticas. Uma metafísica, ele sugere, é uma visão de mundo que acomoda uma pessoa – vista como um determinado tipo de organismo psicológico – sabiamente às forças da natureza e da melhor forma possibilita essa pessoa a levar (...) uma vida próspera. Ao mesmo tempo, Santayana coloca sua marca no materialismo ao questionar a possibilidade da caracterização geométrica dos átomos de Demócrito ser uma explicação literal da substância material. Ele interpreta a metafísica Democritiana como uma posição poética e mitológica que desconsidera a experiência subjetiva e, em vez de, volta nossa atenção para as origens substrativas do nosso ser. (shrink)
The recent development of a field known as experimental philosophy— in particular, its subfield devoted to moral decision making—invites us to reflect on what it means to experiment in ethics and how it is that philosophers determine the good. Furthermore, as this new discipline uses the methods of experimental psychology to examine our intuitions about such things as praise, blame, and moral responsibility, we ought to consider the relationship between ethics and our psychological makeup. To this end, it will be (...) beneficial to consider the American pragmatists’ interpretations of these issues. Ethics, for these thinkers, was both a psychological and an experimental enterprise, one in which all of our psychological capabilities are brought to bear in solving specific moral problems through the testing of hypothetical and tentative solutions. I plan to argue here that the future of experimental ethics will find itself indebted to the American past, not only in its attempts to address the empirical data it already collects but in rethinking the scope of ethics and experimentation. (shrink)
I argue that the dichotomous treatment of agency and free will is problematic because it rests on a Cartesian interpretation of self and world that many present-day thinkers take themselves to be denying. I do so in order to reconstruct the concept of human agency using the psychologies of American philosophers John Dewey and George Santayana. Identifying the self with the entire organism, as these thinkers do, allows for an importantly different sense of agency. In embracing an organismic interpretation of (...) the self, we achieve a more realistic yet mitigated sense of agency, where real responsibility for action is placed in a context of biological and environmental (including social, cultural, and historical) influences. (shrink)
Addressing perspectives about who "we" are, the importance of place and home, and the many differences that still separate individuals, this volume reimagines cosmopolitanism in light of our differences, including the different places we all inhabit and the many places where we do not feel at home. Beginning with the two-part recognition that the world is a smaller place and that it is indeed many worlds, Cosmopolitanism and Place critically explores what it means to assert that all people are citizens (...) of the world, everywhere in the world, as well as persons bounded by a universal and shared morality. (shrink)
This book addresses the nature of consciousness and the relation of mind to brain, body, and the material world. Against mechanistic and physicalist approaches, it employs a literary worldview that accommodates plural narratives, including those of neuroscience, pharmacology, psychology, and everyday experience.
Humor is an indispensable element of George Santayana's philosophy. Santayana is, in many ways, philosophy's fool, poking fun at endeavors to obtain epistemological and moral mastery over existence. Moreover, he reminds us of the over-arching benefits of a humorous attitude, suggesting a humility by which we may put into relative perspective our otherwise totalizing aspirations and pursue a moral life without succumbing to moralism. Ultimately, a sense of humor reminds us that comedy is as honest a narrative as tragedy and (...) that the benefit in living is the fun of it. (shrink)
The title of this book invites the question "what makes a metaphysical club real?" Overthinkers like myself may wonder whether metaphysical clubs can partake of varying degrees of reality or whether the distinction is, more likely, one between imposters and the genuine article. It only heightens the curiosity to read, in the general introduction to the book, that metaphysical clubs both preceded and followed the so-called "real" one and that the real one was itself divided into two phases. Given, then, (...) that there appear to have been more than one actual metaphysical club, what is the point of characterizing the subject of this anthology as real?The Real Metaphysical Club focuses entirely and thoroughly on the club... (shrink)
It has been said that pragmatism's "merely instrumental" truths fail to motivate radical change whereas absolute ideals make excellent guiding and driving forces for justice. However, in Radical Equations: Math Literacy and Civil Rights, Robert Moses speaks of the radical success of pragmatic principles, used in the Civil Rights Movement, that are continued today in the Algebra Project. This paper applies Dewey's claims about education and community to Moses's own arguments as a means of depicting the role that pragmatic ideals (...) play in achieving radical social change. (shrink)
Philosophy has become trapped by the belief that precision is our surest path to knowledge. It is my aim to challenge this assumption and to affirm in its place a wide variety of means by which we may “speak” philosophically. Drawing on George Santayana’s ontological realm of truth and his concept of literary psychology, I will argue that the varieties of human expression, in their relationship to truth, are not fundamental differences in kind but exist on a continuum of expression, (...) where the referent ranges from descriptions closest to the material facts to those closest to the human relationship to those facts. (shrink)