This book presents a detailed fieldwork-based study of the ancient Indian religion of Jainism. Drawing on field research in northern Gujarat and on the study of both ancient Sanskrit and Prakrit and modern vernacular Jain religious literature, JohnCort provides a rounded portrait of the religion as it is practiced today.
It has been widely proposed that the Jain logical methods of linguistic analysis collectively known as anekāntavāda (manypointedness) are an extension of the Jain ethical imperative of ahiṃsā (non-harm) into philosophy as a form of intellectual tolerance and relativity--described by several scholars as "intellectual ahiṃsā"--whose genealogy and development over the past sixty-five years are given in detail. It is shown how Jains used anekāntavāda to expose the relative truth of non-Jain metaphysics, while arguing that only Jain metaphysics, which alone is (...) based on the omniscience (kevala-jñāna) of the Jina, contains absolute truth (samyag-jñāna). Examples are given of Jain intolerance of others, based on nonphilosophical literacy and historical evidence, before returning to the issue of Jain tolerance for and curiosity about non-Jain philosophical positions, in an attempt to ground future discussions of Jain tolerance and intolerance on a fuller range of Jain data and not on ideological formulations inadequately grounded in historical analysis. (shrink)
JohnCort explores the narratives by which the Jains have explained the presence of icons of Jinas that are worshiped and venerated in the hundreds of thousands of Jain temples throughout India. Most of these narratives portray icons favorably, and so justify their existence; but there are also narratives originating among iconoclastic Jain communities that see the existence of temple icons as a sign of decay and corruption. The veneration of Jina icons is one of the most widespread (...) of all Jain ritual practices. Nearly every Jain community in India has one or more elaborate temples, and as the Jains become a global community there are now dozens of temples in North America, Europe, Africa, and East Asia. The cult of temples and icons goes back at least two thousand years, and indeed the largest of the four main subdivisions of the Jains are called Murtipujakas, or "Icon Worshipers." A careful reading of narratives ranging over the past 15 centuries, says Cort, reveals a level of anxiety and defensiveness concerning icons, although overt criticism of the icons only became explicit in the last 500 years. He provides detailed studies of the most important pro- and anti-icon narratives. Some are in the form of histories of the origins and spread of icons. Others take the form of cosmological descriptions, depicting a vast universe filled with eternal Jain icons. Finally, Cort looks at more psychological explanations of the presence of icons, in which icons are defended as necessary spiritual corollaries to the very fact of human embodiedness. (shrink)
John E. Smith has contributed to contemporary philosophy in primarily four distinct capacities; first, as a philosopher of religion and God; second, as an indefatigable defender of philosophical reflection in its classical sense ( a sense inclusive of, but not limited to, metaphysics); third, as a participant in the reconstruction of experience and reason so boldly inaugurated by Hegel then redically transformed by the classical American pragmatists, and significantly augmented by such thinkers as Josiah Royce, william Earnest Hocking, and (...) Alfred North Whitehead; fourth, as an interpreter of philosophical texts and traditions (Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche no less than Charles Peirce, WIlliam James and John Dewey; German idealism as well as American; the Augustinian tradition no less than the pragmatic). Reason, Experience, and God provides an important and comprehensive look at the work of John E. Smith by collected essays which each address aspects of his life-long work. A response by John E. Smith himself draws a line of continuity between the pieces. (shrink)
Despite the title, I do not intend to launch another expedition into the domain of epistemology. I wish instead to call attention to some problems which have arisen for philosophical theologians and philosophers of religion, as a result of two facts about the development of modern philosophy and its bearing on the analysis and interpretation of religious insight. Following these considerations, I shall propose in brief compass a programme for the future which I believe will prove fruitful for the philosophical (...) treatment of religious concerns. (shrink)
The popular belief that religion is the same everywhere or that all religions are ‘at bottom’ identical in essentials is a widespread falsehood that is saved from being completely worthless by the fact that religion does exhibit a universal or common structure wherever it appears. This structure is intimately related to the structure of human life in the world. The enduring pattern that enables us to understand religions widely separated in both time and space depends largely on the fact that (...) man and the process of human life in the world have their own structures which remain, despite the undeniable variety introduced by vast differences of culture, ethnic features, geographical location, climate etc. Structure means pattern or form; it is reality significantly organised. It can be grasped as that which endures above and beyond changing historical details. Because human life has a structure, we are able to understand the wrath of Achilles or sympathise with the love of Abélard for Héloïse although we are separated from both by centuries of time. (shrink)
In this study I propose that John E. Smith’s years-long argument for the importance of, and indeed his prolonged focus on, the notion of experience provides a particularly useful point of entry into the classical North American philosophical tradition and specifically into more pragmatist understandings of experience. Thisstudy of Smith on experience will proceed in three steps. After a brief reference in Part One to the Roycean background and context to Smith’s efforts toward a more adequate understanding of experience, (...) it will continue in Part Two with a review of the three-stage development of Smith’s own transformation, in a more distinctly pragmatist direction, of Royce’s idealist-pragmatist notion of experience as interpretation. This review of Smith’s thought lays the groundwork for a suggestion, in Part three of this study, toward the continuing formulation of a more explicitly developed philosophy of experience. The basic proposal will be to affirm the need, while profiting from Smith’s important contributions, to pay renewed attention to more idealist concerns for structure and totality. (shrink)
The philosophy of John Smith is not a dispassionate subject for me. He was my teacher from my sophomore year in college through the PhD, which he mentored. I worked in his office nearly every day during that time. He became my intellectual father and framed the way I took up philosophy. He performed my wedding and twenty-five years later taught my two daughters. We worked together philosophically and in the politics of the academy from my first day as (...) his undergraduate typist, when I was utterly naïve about both topics, until the day he died, when I had no innocence left. His daughter Diana informed me of his death by responding to an e-mail I had sent him that afternoon. I preached his funeral, threw frozen dirt .. (shrink)
If one is an egalitarian, what should one want to equalize? Opportunities or outcomes? Resources or welfare? These positions are usually conceived to be very different. I argue in this paper that the distinction is misconceived: the only coherent conception of resource equality implies welfare equality, in an appropriately abstract description of the problem. In this section, I motivate the program which the rest of the paper carries out.
Imagine a society of fisherfolk, who, in the state of nature, fish on a lake of finite size. Fishing on the lake is characterized by decreasing returns to scale in labor, because the lake's finite size imply that each successive hour of fishing labor is less effective than the previous one, as the remaining fish become less dense in the lake. In the state of nature, the lake is commonly owned: each fishes as much as he pleases, and, we might (...) suppose, calculates his fishing plan by taking the labor of the others as given, as he sees it. Each knows that the distribution of fish will be proportional to labor expended among the fisherfolk: if I fish twice as long as you, I will end up with twice as much fish as you. This is not due to some kind of concern with equity among the fisherfolk; it is a technological fact, implied by the assumption that fishing labor is homogeneous, and all are equally likely to catch a fish in a unit of time. An equilibrium under common ownership can be thought of as a Nash equilibrium of the game where each computes his optimal fishing plan, given the labor of the others and knowing what the consequent distribution of fish would be. (shrink)
Radical and liberal theories of egalitarianism are distinguished, in large part, by the differing degrees to which they hold people responsible for their own well-being. The most liberal or individualistic theory calls for equality of opportunity. Once such “starting gate equality,” as Dworkin calls it, is guaranteed, then any final outcome is justified, provided certain rules, such as voluntary trading, are observed. At the other pole, the most radical egalitarianism calls for equality of welfare. In between these two extremes are (...) egalitarian proposals that equalize more than conventional opportunities, yet less than full welfare. Sen speaks of equality of basic capabilities as a goal; implementing that requires more than starting gate equality, because some will require more resources than others to attain the same capabilities. Meeting basic needs is another objective. Equality of needs fulfillment is perhaps less radical than equality of basic capabilities and more radical than equality of opportunity. Rawls takes equality of primary goods as a benchmark; he distinguishes primary goods from welfare, but includes among them goods that are more complicated than conventional resources and opportunities, all of which are supposed inputs into any conception of welfare. One could imagine proposing an egalitarianism that equalized some quite measurable outcome across populations, such as infant mortality. That would be an outcome-equalizing theory where the rate of infant mortality is a proxy, presumably, for some more complicated maximand, such as the degree of wellbeing of a population. (shrink)
All advanced societies maintain a commitment to equal educational opportunity, which they claim to implement through a public school system that is charged toprovide all children with an education up to a state-enforced standard. Indeed, what public schools do, even in the best of circumstances, is to provide all children with a more or less equal exposure to educational inputs, rather than to guarantee them equal educational attainment. Children, as the schools receive them, differ markedly in their docility — due (...) in part to innate ability, but perhaps due more to the economic status and cultural practices of their families. Many, including myself, believe that the task of schools should be to provide some measure of equal educational attainment among students of heterogeneous talent and background. Schools should devote more educational resources to students who require them in order that they be educated to an acceptable standard. (shrink)
Some decades ago in his intriguing book on Jonathan Edwards, Perry Miller used to great effect the device of supposing a two-fold biography of Edwards, an external one consisting of the historical record embracing the major events of his life and times, and an internal one aimed at an interpretation of the mind of Edwards and the development of his thought.
There is an undercurrent to be detected in Anselm's record of the meditative experience that issued in the Ontological Argument and, although it points to a profound and perennial problem in the interpretation of religion, this undercurrent has been largely ignored. The Argument, as is well known, moves entirely within the medium of reflective meaning focused on the idea of God and, unlike the cosmological arguments of later theologians, it makes no appeal whatever to a principle of causality or to (...) the discovery of a sufficient reason for finite existence. Anselm seems to have had his own sense of what one may call the unadulterated rationalism of the Argument when, in his own words, he wondered, ‘if perhaps it might be possible to find one single argument that for its proof required no other save itself, and that by itself would suffice to prove that God really exists’. Here we are entirely within that inner chamber of the mind so dear to the Augustinian tradition, a mind from which one is to exclude all thought save that of God. The task of the one who reflects is to penetrate the inner meaning of this thought in order to discover what it implies beyond what is evident on the surface. With such an eminently rational or logical aim occupying the centre of attention, it is quite understandable that the presence of another, and quite opposed, concern should have been overlooked - Anselm's concern, namely, to transcend, as it were, the medium of thought itself, and enter into the presence of God. The reason that this concern introduces a tension in the search for a proof is that the realization of presence would seem to render proof superfluous, while the inference in an argument - especially one moving towards existence – inevitably suggests, in some sense and to some degree, the absence of what is sought for. (shrink)
Este trabalho discute a formação da mentalidade individual, por meio de uma reflexão comparativa entre Democracia e educação, de John Dewey, e Admirável mundo novo, de Aldous Huxley. O texto literário permite um diálogo e uma leitura em face do texto filosófico, que o caracteriza como campo para a realização de um experimento de pensamento. Esse experimento é a discussão do valor atribuído por Dewey ao crescimento individual e ao social, em contraposição ao valor encontrado na narrativa de Huxley, (...) da estabilidade. Confrontando as leituras dessas duas obras, se pode compreender mais profundamente e, em uma perspectiva diferenciada, a relevância das condições do crescimento na formação plena da mentalidade individual. (shrink)
On reflecting about the prospects of advancing the egalitarian cause in the United States, John Roemer makes the case for more traditional strategies than the coupon socialism model he advocated in earlier work. First of all, he suggests, an ethos of solidarity must be developed and the super-rich be subjected to higher taxation. This comment assesses this proposal. On the one hand it is discussed whether the ethos of solidarity Roemer calls for in order to counteract the culture of (...) greed among American elites requires nurturing an undesirable culture of envy among the rest of the population. On the other hand it is considered whether the neoclassical principal-agent model—that Roemer believes must be contested in order to popularize a steep progressive income tax—might be one of the more promising tools to restructure the incentives of economic elites and curb casino capitalism. (shrink)
A critical study of McPeck's recent book, in which he strengthens and develops his arguments against teaching critical thinking (CT). Accepting McPeck's basic claim that there is no unitary skill of reasoning or thinking, I argue that his strictures on CT courses or programs do not follow. I set out what I consider the proper justification that programs in CT have to meet, and argue both that McPeck demands much more than is required, and also that it is plausible that (...) this deflated justification can be met. Specitically, I argue that it is reasonable to expect transfer of learning for basic logical skills. Additional topics covered include: the relation ofliberal education to critical thinking, argument analysis, testing for CT, and the value of conceptual or linguistic analysis. (shrink)