Are the pure intuitions of space and time, for Kant, dependent upon the understanding's activity? This paper defends the recently popular Self-Affection Thesis (SAT): namely, that the pure intuitions require an activity of self-affection—an influence of the understanding on the inner sense. Two systematic objections to this thesis have been raised: The Independence objection claims that SAT undermines the independence of sensibility; the Compatibility objection claims that certain features of space and time are incompatible with being the products of the (...) understanding's activity. I show that the resources to rebut these objections can be found in Kant's account of causal influence. (shrink)
A well-known trilemma faces the interpretation of Kant’s theory of affection, namely whether the objects that affect us are empirical, noumenal, or both. I argue that according to Kant, the things that affect us and cause representations in us are not empirical objects. I articulate what I call the Causal Power Argument, according to which empirical objects cannot affect us because they do not have the right kind of power to cause representations. All the causal powers that empirical objects have (...) are moving powers, and such powers can only have spatial effects. According to Kant, however, the representations that arise in us as a result of the affection of our sensibility are non-spatial. I show that this argument is put forward by Kant in a number of passages, and figures as a decisive reason for rejecting empirical affection and instead endorsing affection by the things in themselves. (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 book explores the ways in which humor can enhance the learning environment. Drawing upon empirical research and brain-based concepts, Jonas presents a theoretical model of humor, along with practical examples for enhancing learning in schools and classrooms.
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)
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)
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)
De tous les livres de Hans Jonas, ce sont les Essais philosophiques qui ont le caractère le plus multidisciplinaire : ils portent sur l’éthique, la philosophie de la nature, de l’esprit, de l’histoire et la philosophie de la religion… Mais ce recueil n’est pas pour autant éclectique. Car au-delà de la diversité de ses objets, il constitue une remarquable illustration du chemin de pensée que s’est frayé le philosophe à travers des champs d’investigation multiples et apparemment hétérogènes. C’est ainsi (...) qu’au fil de textes qui furent publiés entre Le Phénomène de la vie et Le principe responsabilité, on retrouve ici la dette du philosophe à l’égard de Heidegger, l’inspiration spinoziste de sa philosophie de la nature, les racines de son éthique de la responsabilité et un commun dénominateur de toutes ses recherches philosophiques : les concepts apparentés de liberté, de volonté et de valeur qui animent sa pensée comme autant de facteurs de résistance à la menace du réductionnisme. (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)
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.
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)
Avi Mintz (2008) 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 (used as synonyms here). 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)
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)
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)
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)
I argue that recent interpretations of Nietzsche's political theory that make him out to be a Machiavellian elitist are misguided. While Nietzsche's philosophy advocates a return to an order of rank among individuals, it does not entail the domination of the few over the many. Rather, it is meant to benefit all individuals, whatever their rank. To this end, I examine several Machiavellian interpretations and demonstrate the inadequacy of their exegetical evidence. I then turn to Nietzsche's educational theory and show (...) the ways it supports and expands his political vision for the flourishing of the few and the many. (shrink)
Patricia White (Stud Philos Educ 18:43–52, 1999) argues that the virtue gratitude is essential to a flourishing democracy because it helps foster universal and reciprocal amity between citizens. Citizens who participate in this reciprocal relationship ought to be encouraged to recognize that “much that people do does in fact help to make communal civic life less brutish, pleasanter and more flourishing.” This is the case even when the majority of citizens do not intentionally seek to make civic life better for (...) others. Were citizens to recognize the appropriateness of gratitude in these situations, the bonds of our democratic communities would be strengthened. In this paper, I examine White’s argument more carefully, arguing that it fails to address adequately the difficulties that arise when we attempt to encourage the virtue of gratitude in our students. To address these difficulties, I turn to an unlikely source for democratic inspiration: Friedrich Nietzsche. In spite of his well-known anti-democratic sentiments, Nietzsche offers democratic citizens insights into the social value of gratitude. I argue that Nietzsche’s ideas resolve the educational difficulties in White’s argument and viably establish gratitude as an important democratic virtue that ought to be cultivated. (shrink)
In sequence-space synaesthesia, members of linguistic sequences such as numbers, days of the week and letters of the alphabet are perceived to occupy spatial positions, either in the mind's eye or as locations in space around the body. In this chapter, we begin by considering the possible sequences that can induce this type of synaesthesia, with the focus on numbers, time-units and letters. We evaluate the various methods used to test the genuineness of self-reports of this type of synaesthesia, and (...) we make suggestions for novel techniques that could address the shortcomings of the current methods. Lastly, we briefly outline the current theories on the neural basis of this type of synaesthesia, including the recent reification hypothesis. We conclude by discussing how scientific findings with sequence-space synaesthetes can be beneficial for the study of cognitive psychology more generally. (shrink)
Drawing an analogy between modal structuralism about mathematics and theism, I offer a structuralist account of theism that implicitly defines theism in terms of three basic relations. A structuralist reading of theism preserves objective truth-values for theistic statements while remaining neutral on the question of ontology. Thus, it offers 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.
In this paper, I argue that religious belief is epistemically equivalent to mathematical belief. Abstract beliefs don't fall under ‘naive’, evidence-based analyses of rationality. Rather, their epistemic permissibility depends, I suggest, on four criteria: predictability, applicability, consistency, and immediate acceptability of the fundamental axioms. The paper examines to what extent mathematics meets these criteria, juxtaposing the results with the case of religion. My argument is directed against a widespread view according to which belief in mathematics is clearly rationally acceptable whereas (...) belief in religion is not. The paper also aims to make some of the implications of contemporary mathematics available to philosophers working in different fields. (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)