Does strolling through an art museum, admiring the old masters, improve us morally and spiritually? Would government subsidies of "high art" (such as big-city opera houses) be better spent on local community art projects? In What Good are the Arts? JohnCarey--one of Britain's most respected literary critics--offers a delightfully skeptical look at the nature of art. In particular, he cuts through the cant surrounding the fine arts, debunking claims that the arts make us better people or that (...) judgements about art are anything more than personal opinion. Indeed, Carey argues that there are no absolute values in the arts and that we cannot call other people's aesthetic choices "mistaken" or "incorrect," however much we dislike them. Along the way, Carey reveals the flaws in the aesthetic theories of everyone from Emanuel Kant to Arthur C. Danto, and he skewers the claims of "high-art advocates" such as Jeannette Winterson. But Carey does argue strongly for the value of art as an activity and for the superiority of one art in particular: literature. Literature, he contends, is the only art capable of reasoning, and the only art that can criticize. Language is the medium that we use to convey ideas, and the usual ingredients of other arts--objects, noises, light effects--cannot replicate this function. Literature has the ability to inspire the mind and the heart towards practical ends far better than any work of conceptual art. Here then is a lively and stimulating invitation to debate the value of art, a provocative book that will pique the interest of anyone who loves painting, music, or literature. (shrink)
Philosophical antagonism and dispute — by no means confined to the early modern period — nonetheless enjoyed a moment of particular ferment as new methods and orientations on questions of epistemology and ethics developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. John Locke played a key part in them with controversies initiated by the Essay concerning Human Understanding. This essay develops a wider typology of modes of philosophical quarrelling by focusing on a key debate — the issue of whether human (...) nature came pre-endowed with innate ideas and principles, resulting in a moral consensus across mankind, or remained, on the contrary, dependent on reason to achieve moral insight, and, in practice, divided by diverse and irreconcilable cultural practices as a result of the force of custom and the limited purchase of reason. The essay ultimately concludes on the idea that we should not only attend to the genealogy of disputes but also to the morphology of disputation as a practice. (shrink)
As the expansion of the Internet and the digital formatting of all kinds of creative works move us further into the information age, intellectual property issues have become paramount. Computer programs costing thousands of research dollars are now copied in an instant. People who would recoil at the thought of stealing cars, computers, or VCRs regularly steal software or copy their favorite music from a friend's CD. Since the Web has no national boundaries, these issues are international concerns. The contributors-philosophers, (...) legal theorists, and business scholars, among others-address questions such as: Can abstract ideas be owned? How does the violation of intellectual property rights compare to the violation of physical property rights? Can computer software and other digital information be protected? And how should legal systems accommodate the ownership of intellectual property in an information age? Intellectual Property is a lively examination of these and other issues, and an invaluable resource for librarians, lawyers, businesspeople, and scholars. (shrink)
n 1902, 70 million years after it tripped lightly through the Mesozoic forests in search of meat, the skeleton of a 20-foothightyrannosaurus was dynamited out of a sandstone bluff near Hell Creek, Mont. Wrapped in burlap and plaster and shipped back to New York, the bones were painstakingly reassembled by fossil curator Barnum Brown of the American Museum of Natural History. It was there, one day in 1947, that they happened to scare the bejesus out of 5-year-old Stephen Jay Gould. (...) With a mouthful of teeth as big as bananas, the great reptile gaped down at the little mammal who had usurped its place at the head of the food chain and set him scurrying for the safety of his daddy's pant leg. It was a sublime epiphany. Long after Gould could stare with equanimity at the skull of tyrannosaurus, he was left with the essential mystery that still motivates him as perhaps America's foremost writer and thinker on evolution: why should dinosaurs have ended up in human museums instead of—as one among an infinite number of evolutionary possibilities—the other way around? (shrink)
In the year 748 Pope Zachary, in a letter to St. Boniface, mentioned among other matters a complaint which he had received from the latter concerning an Irish cleric named Virgil, active at that time in Bavaria.
Media, politicians, and the courts portray college campuses as divided over diversity and affirmative action. But what do students and faculty really think? This book uses a novel technique to elicit honest opinions from students and faculty and measure preferences for diversity in undergraduate admissions and faculty recruitment at seven major universities, breaking out attitudes by participants' race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, and political partisanship. Scholarly excellence is a top priority everywhere, but the authors show that when students consider individual (...) candidates, they favor members of all traditionally underrepresented groups - by race, ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic background. Moreover, there is little evidence of polarization in the attitudes of different student groups. The book reveals that campus communities are less deeply divided than they are often portrayed to be; although affirmative action remains controversial in the abstract, there is broad support for prioritizing diversity in practice. (shrink)
The Historical Dictionary of Bertrand Russell's Philosophy is the only dictionary to date of Bertrand Russell's ideas. It is a guide to the many elements of Russell's philosophy. A glimpse at Russell's work shows instantly why such a text is needed. Taking his books alone, Russell is author of almost 100. Many are classics, several require technical expertise, and together they address dozens of separate disciplines and domains.
The A to Z of Bertrand Russell's Philosophy offers a comprehensive, current guide to the many facets of Russell's work. Through its chronology, introductory essay, bibliography, and hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on concepts, people, works, and technical terms, Russell's impact on philosophy and related fields is made accessible to the reader in this must-have reference.
This article engages sources regarding evolutionary development of guilt (Richard Joyce's The Evolution of Morality, Jesse Prinz's Gut Reactions, and others) and how they can be used to dialogue with material on the alleviation of guilt in the Christian tradition using examples in the work of Anselm of Canterbury and John Chrysostom. This raises a few key questions. If guilt is an evolutionary trait created to build reputation and relationship, how does this mesh with some theological approaches to (...) solutions for guilt? To be more precise, guilt possibly evolved to create a motivation for beneficial communal actions, and necessitates belief in the authority of the rules that one breaks to induce it. That said, does religion play a role in awareness of one's guilt, while also providing a solution to that guilt? The possibilities are explored in this article as they relate to issues of repentance, atonement, and prayer. (shrink)