The existence of fundamental moral disagreements is a central problem for moral realism and has often been contrasted with an alleged absence of disagreement in mathematics. However, mathematicians do in fact disagree on fundamental questions, for example on which set-theoretic axioms are true, and some philosophers have argued that this increases the plausibility of moral vis-à-vis mathematical realism. I argue that the analogy between mathemat- ical and moral disagreement is not as straightforward as those arguments present it. In particular, I (...) argue that pluralist accounts of mathematics render fundamental mathematical disagreements compatible with mathematical realism in a way in which moral disagreements and moral realism are not. (shrink)
I argue that recent attempts to deflect Access Problems for realism about a priori domains such as mathematics, logic, morality, and modality using arguments from evolution result in two kinds of explanatory overkill: (1) the Access Problem is eliminated for contentious domains, and (2) realist belief becomes viciously immune to arguments from dispensability, and to non-rebutting counter-arguments more generally.
Avi Mintz has recently argued that Anglo-American educators have a tendency to alleviate student suffering in the classroom. According to Mintz, this tendency can be detrimental because certain kinds of suffering actually enhance student learning. While Mintz compellingly describes the effects of educator's desires to alleviate suffering in students, he does not examine one of the roots of the desire: the feeling of compassion or pity. Compassion leads many teachers to unreflectively alleviate student struggles. While there are certainly times when (...) compassion is necessary to help students learn, there are other times when it must be overcome. Compassion in the classroom is a two-edged sword that must be carefully employed; and yet it is often assumed that it is an unequivocal good that ought to trump all other impulses. In this article I hope to raise awareness concerning the promises and pitfalls of compassion in education by examining the theories of two historical figures who famously emphasised compassion in their philosophical writings: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Friedrich Nietzsche. Rousseau and Nietzsche argue that compassion is a powerful educational force but that it must be properly employed. For Rousseau and Nietzsche, compassion is necessary to develop self-mastery in human beings—the ultimate goal of education—but it is a compassion that must hurt in order to help. My hope is that Rousseau's and Nietzsche's ideas on compassion will encourage thoughtful reflection on the uses and abuses of compassion in education. (shrink)
Can art, religion, or philosophy afford ineffable insights? If so, what are they? The idea of ineffability has puzzled philosophers from Laozi to Wittgenstein. In Ineffability and its Metaphysics: The Unspeakable in Art, Religion and Philosophy, Silvia Jonas examines different ways of thinking about what ineffable insights might involve metaphysically, and shows which of these are in fact incoherent. Jonas discusses the concepts of ineffable properties and objects, ineffable propositions, ineffable content, and ineffable knowledge, examining the metaphysical pitfalls involved in (...) these concepts. Ultimately, she defends the idea that ineffable insights as found in aesthetic, religious, and philosophical contexts are best understood in terms of self-acquaintance, a particular kind of non-propositional knowledge. Ineffability as a philosophical topic is as old as the history of philosophy itself, but contributions to the exploration of ineffability have been sparse. The theory developed by Jonas makes the concept tangible and usable in many different philosophical contexts. (shrink)
This essay provides an overview of the ways in which contemporary philosophers have tried to make sense of ineffability as encountered in aesthetic contexts. Section 1 sets up the problem of aesthetic ineffability by putting it into historical perspective. Section 2 specifies the kinds of questions that may be raised with regard to aesthetic ineffability, as well as the kinds of answer each one of those questions would require. Section 3 investigates arguments that seek to locate aesthetic ineffability within the (...) object of aesthetic experiences, i.e. within aesthetic content. Section 4 discusses arguments that seek to locate aesthetic ineffability within the subject of aesthetic experience. (shrink)
Technology and responsibility: reflections on the new tasks of ethics.--Jewish and Christian elements in philosophy: their share in the emergence of the modern mind.--Seventeenth century and after: the meaning of the scientific and technological revolution.--Socio-economic knowledge and ignorance of goals.--Philosophical reflections on experimenting with human subjects.--Against the stream: comments on the definition and redefinition of death.--Biological engineering--a preview--Contemporary problems in ethics from a Jewish perspective.--Biological foundations of individuality.--Spinoza and the theory of organism.--Sight and thought: a review of "visual thinking."--Change and (...) permanence: on the possibility of understanding history.--The gnostic syndrome: typology of its thought, imagination, and mood.--The hymn of the pearl: case study of a symbol, and the claims for a Jewish origin of gnosticism.--Myth and mysticism: a study of objectification and interiorization in religious thought.--Origen's metaphysics of free will, fall, and salvation: a "divine comedy" of the universe.--The soul in gnosticism and Plotinus.--The abyss of the will: philosophical meditations on the seventh chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of self-overcoming has been largely misinterpreted in the philosophy of education journals. The misinterpretation partially stems from a misconstruction of Nietzsche’s perspectivism, and leads to a conception of self-overcoming that is inconsistent with Nietzsche’s educational ideals. To show this, I examine some of the prominent features of the so-called “debate” of the 1980s surrounding Nietzsche’s conception of self-overcoming. I then offer an alternative conception that is more consistent with Nietzsche’s thought, and (...) provides a more nuanced understanding of Nietzsche’s “anti-democratic” pedagogy. Ultimately, I argue that while Nietzsche’s educational philosophy is not egalitarian, it can be effectively utilized in “democratic” classrooms, assuming his concept of self-overcoming is properly construed. (shrink)
Drawing an analogy between modal structuralism about mathematics and theism, I o er a structuralist account that implicitly de nes theism in terms of three basic relations: logical and metaphysical priority, and epis- temic superiority. On this view, statements like `God is omniscient' have a hypothetical and a categorical component. The hypothetical component provides a translation pattern according to which statements in theistic language are converted into statements of second-order modal logic. The categorical component asserts the logical possibility of the (...) theism struc- ture on the basis of uncontroversial facts about the physical world. This structuralist reading of theism preserves objective truth-values for theistic statements while remaining neutral on the question of ontology. Thus, it o ers a way of understanding theism to which a naturalist cannot object, and it accommodates the fact that religious belief, for many theists, is an essentially relational matter. (shrink)
Advances in forensic techniques have expanded the temporal horizon of criminal investigations, facilitating investigation of historic crimes that would previously have been considered unsolvable. Public enthusiasm for pursuing historic crimes is exemplified by recent high-profile trials of celebrities accused of historic sexual offences. These circumstances give new urgency to the question of how we should decide which historic offences to investigate. A satisfactory answer must take into account the ways in which the passage of time can erode the benefits of (...) criminal investigation, the costs associated with investigating old crimes, and the need to prioritize investigations in the face of limited police resources. This article emphasizes the first of these factors. It begins by considering the moral goals of a criminal justice system and the contribution of criminal investigations to the achievement of these goals, distinguishing between contributions that depend on further steps in the criminal justice process, such as prosecution and punishment, and contributions that can have value independently of these further steps. Using this important distinction, the article then examines a range of factors that relate the passage of time to criminal justice goals, including the seriousness of the crime; deterioration of evidence; death of the offender, victim and others affected by the crime; and diminished psychological connectedness between those affected by the crime and their current selves. While the range and non-uniformity of relevant factors preclude a simple answer to the question of when historic crimes should be investigated and call instead for case-by-case assessment, we find that the analysis does support some general conclusions that can guide such an assessment. (shrink)
I argue that recent attempts to deflect Access Problems for realism about a priori domains such as mathematics, logic, morality, and modality using arguments from evolution result in two kinds of explanatory overkill: the Access Problem is eliminated for contentious domains, and realist belief becomes viciously immune to arguments from dispensability, and to non-rebutting counter-arguments more generally.
In his 2001 article 'Teaching to Lie and Obey: Nietzsche on Education', Stefan Ramaekers defends Nietzsche's concept of perspectivism against the charge that it is relativistic. He argues that perspectivism is not relativistic because it denies the dichotomy between the 'true' world and the 'seeming' world, a dichotomy central to claims to relativism. While Ramaekers' article is correct in denying relativistic interpretations of perspectivism it does not go far enough in this direction. In fact, the way Ramaekers makes his case (...) may actually encourage the charge of relativism, especially when it comes to his appropriation of perspectivism for education. This article proposes to pick up where Ramaekers left off. It will argue that Nietzsche's denial of the opposition between the 'true' world and the 'seeming' world opens up the possibility for the reestablishment of truth, albeit in a modified form. After examining Nietzsche's modified 'realist' epistemology, the paper will explore the implications of it for his philosophy of education. It will be argued that Nietzsche's educational philosophy is founded on his concept of perspectivism in so far as he demands that students be rigorously inculcated into a pedagogical framework that teaches students to discriminate between 'true' and 'false' perspectives. This framework is essential for the development of an intellectually robust and life-affirming culture. (shrink)
While a great deal has been written on Plato's Lysis in philosophy and philology journals over the last thirty years, nothing has been published on Lysis in the major Anglo-American philosophy of education journals during that time. Nevertheless, this dialogue deserves attention from educators. In this essay, Mark Jonas argues that Lysis can serve as a model for educators who want to move their students beyond mere aporia, but also do not want to dictate answers to students. Although the dialogue (...) ends in Socrates's affirmation of aporia, his affirmation is actually meant to persuade his interlocutors to reflect on an epiphany they had previously experienced. In what follows, Jonas offers a close reading of relevant passages of Lysis, demonstrating the way that Socrates leads his interlocutors to an epiphany without forcing his answers upon them. (shrink)
Many teachers in teacher education programs are cursorily introduced to Dewey's ‘epochmaking’ ideas on interest and effort through discussions based on the need for child-centered pedagogies that utilize students' interests. Unfortunately, this strategy often tacitly encourages teachers to over-rely on students' interests. In this paper, I recommend a way of introducing Dewey's conception of interest that avoids the common pitfall of over-reliance on students' interests. I argue that if we focus on the changes Dewey made to the expression of his (...) philosophy during a seventeen-year period, we can help illuminate the force of his theory while protecting against unfortunate misinterpretations. (shrink)
O texto apresentado a seguir é uma traduçáo da conferência intitulada “The Burden and Blessing of Mortality” ( The Hastings Center Report , 22, n. 1, jan-fev. 1992, p. 34-40), que foi apresentada à Fundaçáo do Palácio Real [The Royal Palace Foundation], em Amsterdam, no dia 19 de março de 1991. Esta conferência foi traduzida para o alemáo por Reinhard Löw e revisada pelo próprio Jonas, aparecendo com o título “Last und Segen der Sterblichkeit” em Scheidewege 21, 1991/92, p. 26-40, (...) e mais tarde em um livro do próprio Jonas: Philosophische Untersuchungen und metaphysische Vermutungen [Investigações Filosóficas e Suposições Metafísicas] . Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag, 1992, p. 81-100. Por sua vez, o texto original, em inglês, veio ainda a fazer parte de uma coletânea de ensaios de Jonas, editada por Lawrence Vogel ( Mortality and Morality : a search for good after Auschwits. Ed. Lawrence Vogel. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1996, p. 87-97). (shrink)
In this essay, Mark Jonas argues that there are three broadly held misconceptions of Plato's philosophy that work against his relevance for contemporary moral education. The first is that he is an intellectualist who is concerned only with the cognitive aspect of moral development and does not sufficiently emphasize the affective and conative aspects; the second is that he is an elitist who believes that only philosopher-kings can attain true knowledge of virtue and it is they who should govern society; (...) the third is that he affirms the realm of the Forms as a literal metaphysical reality and believes that for individuals to attain virtue they must access this realm through contemplation. The goal of this essay is to correct these misconceptions. The rehabilitation of Plato's reputation may enable future researchers in moral education to discover in his philosophy new avenues for exploring how best to cultivate virtues in students. (shrink)
In his 2001 article ‘Teaching to Lie and Obey: Nietzsche on Education’, Stefan Ramaekers defends Nietzsche's concept of perspectivism against the charge that it is relativistic. He argues that perspectivism is not relativistic because it denies the dichotomy between the ‘true’ world and the ‘seeming’ world, a dichotomy central to claims to relativism. While Ramaekers' article is correct in denying relativistic interpretations of perspectivism it does not go far enough in this direction. In fact, the way Ramaekers makes his case (...) may actually encourage the charge of relativism, especially when it comes to his appropriation of perspectivism for education. This article proposes to pick up where Ramaekers left off. It will argue that Nietzsche's denial of the opposition between the ‘true’ world and the ‘seeming’ world opens up the possibility for the reestablishment of truth, albeit in a modified form. After examining Nietzsche's modified ‘realist’ epistemology, the paper will explore the implications of it for his philosophy of education. It will be argued that Nietzsche's educational philosophy is founded on his concept of perspectivism in so far as he demands that students be rigorously inculcated into a pedagogical framework that teaches students to discriminate between ‘true’ and ‘false’ perspectives. This framework is essential for the development of an intellectually robust and life-affirming culture. (shrink)
The recent MB case involved a dispute between an infant’s parents and his medical team about the appropriateness of continued life support. The dispute reflected uncertainty about two key factors that inform medical decision making for seriously ill infants: both the amount of pain MB experiences and the extent of his cognitive capacities are uncertain. Uncertainty of this order makes decision making in accordance with the best-interests principle very problematic. This article addresses two of the problems that cases such as (...) that of MB pose for those charged with making medical decisions for infants. First, the question of the moral significance of the interest in avoiding pain is considered. It is claimed that this interest can be outweighed by higher-order interests such as those related to autonomy but that where such higher-order interests do not exist, the interest in avoiding pain should be prioritised. Second, the question of how to proceed in cases in which the level of pain or the extent of an infant’s higher-order interests cannot be decisively established is considered. It is suggested that when genuine uncertainty over the interests of an infant exists, parental views about treatment should prevail.The English family courts recently adjudicated on another case involving conflict between parents and a medical team over the provision of life-prolonging medical treatment for an infant. At the time of the ruling, MB was an 18-month-old boy with type I spinal muscular atrophy. His life expectancy was very short , he was almost completely paralysed and he required constant ventilation. MB’s parents wanted a tracheotomy to be performed to facilitate long-term ventilation and allow for some independence from the hospital ward, but the …. (shrink)
A classic of phenomenology and existentialism and arguably Jonas's greatest work, The Phenomenon of Life sets forth a systematic and comprehensive philosophy -- an existential interpretation of biological facts laid out in support of Jonas ...
This article considers how legislators should respond to evidence that identifies a common and widely accepted parental practice as a potential source of harm to children, using domestic exposure to environmental tobacco smoke as a test case. It is claimed that children are parties to the Harm Principle, and that the State has an obligation to protect children from exposure to harm. Parental prerogative is limited by the need to avoid harming children. That said, there is considerable uncertainty about what (...) is harmful to children. Several sources of uncertainty, both empirical and conceptual, are explored, in order to demonstrate the complexity of the task legislators face. Seven considerations that are relevant to decisions about legislation of harmful parental practices are outlined, and these considerations are then employed to assess the case in favour of legislating to prohibit the exposure of children to environmental tobacco smoke in domestic settings. (shrink)