Seeking to renew an ancient companionship between the philosophical andthe religious, this book’s meditative chapters dwell on certain elementalexperiences or happenings that keep the soul alive to the enigma of the divine.William Desmond engages the philosophical work of Pascal, Kant, Hegel,Nietzsche, Shestov, and Soloviev, among others, and pursues with a philosophicalmindfulness what is most intimate in us, yet most universal: sleep, poverty,imagination, courage and witness, reverence, hatred and love, peace and war.Being religious has to do with that intimate universal, (...) beyond arbitrarysubjectivism and reductionist objectivism.In this book, he attempts to look at religion with a fresh and open mind,asking how philosophy might itself stand up to some of the questions posed toit by religion, not just how religion might stand up to the questions posed to it byphilosophy. Desmond tries to pursue a new and different policy, one faithfulto the light of this dialogue. (shrink)
An original work which rethinks the question of God in a constructive spirit, drawing its conclusions by considering ideas received from both philosophy and religion. Makes an important new contribution to the ongoing scholarly debates surrounding the intersection of philosophy and religion Suggests that this junction is not just dictated by religion having to prove its credentials to rational philosophy, but that it is also a matter of philosophy wondering if religion is the ultimate partner in dialogue Includes discussion of (...) a wide range of significant thinkers, both traditional and contemporary, such as Plotinus, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche and his successors Completes a trilogy of works by William Desmond, complementing its companion volumes, _Being and the Between_ and _Ethics and the Between._. (shrink)
"Rich in new and stimulating ideas, and based on the breadth of reading and depth of knowledge which its wide-ranging subject matter requires, _The Greek Praise of Poverty_ argues impressively and cogently for a relocation of Cynic philosophy into the mainstream of Greek ideas on material prosperity, work, happiness, and power." —_A. Thomas Cole, Professor Emeritus of Classics, Yale University _ "This clear, well-written book offers scholars and students an accessible account of the philosophy of Cynicism, particularly with regard to (...) the Cynics' attachment to a life of poverty and their disdain for wealth. I have truly profited from reading William Desmond’s book." —_Luis Navia, New York Institute of Technology_ William Desmond, taking issue with typical assessments of the ancient Cynics, contends that figures such as Antisthenes and Diogenes were not cultural outcasts or marginal voices in the classical culture of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. Rather, the Cynic movement had deep and significant roots in what Desmond calls "the Greek praise of poverty." Desmond demonstrates that classical attitudes toward wealth were complex and ambivalent, and allowed for an implicit praise of poverty and the virtues it could inspire. From an economic and political point of view, the poor majority at Athens and elsewhere were natural democrats who distrusted great concentrations of wealth as potentially oligarchical or tyrannical. Hence, the poor could be praised in contemporary literature for their industry, honesty, frugality, and temperance. The rich, on the other hand, were often criticized as idle, unjust, arrogant, and profligate. These perspectives were reinforced by typical Greek experiences of war, and the belief that poverty fostered the virtues of courage and endurance. Finally, from an early date, Greek philosophers associated wisdom with the transcendence of sense experience and of such worldly values as wealth and honor. The Cynics, Desmond asserts, assimilated all of these ideas in creating their distinctive and radical brand of asceticism. Theirs was a startling and paradoxical outlook, but it had broad appeal and would persist to exert a manifold influence in the Hellenistic period and beyond. (shrink)
This is a response to issues raised by Stephen Houlgate in his article “Hegel, Desmond, and the Problem of God’s Transcendence,” dealing with Hegel’s God: A Counterfeit Double? The response focuses especially on the hermeneutical finesse we need in reading Hegel on religion, on the nature of “release” in Hegel, on the need for an agapeic God, and on the differences between Hegel’s speculative philosophy and Desmond’s metaxological approach to the practice of philosophy.
This is a response to issues raised by Peter Hodgson in his article “Hegel’s God: Counterfeit or Real?” dealing with Hegel’s God: A Counterfeit Double? The response focuses especially on Hodgson’s identification of Desmond’s view with that of Kierkegaard, on the question of whether Hegel is an agapeic thinker, and on the issue of the contemporary relevance of Hegel for theological reflection.
This book is a defense of speculative philosophy in the wake of Hegel. In a number of wide-ranging, meditative essays, Desmond deals with the criticism of speculative thought in post-Hegelian thinking. He covers the interpretation of Hegelian speculation in terms of the metataxological notion of being and the concept of philosophy that Desmond has developed in two previous works, Philosophy and Its Others, and Desire, Dialectic and Otherness. Though Hegel is Desmond’s primary interlocuter, there are references to (...) Aristophanes, Socrates, Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida. Desmond is concerned with the limits of philosophy. The themes of the essays include speculation and historicism, speculation and cult, speculation and representation, evil and dialectic, logos and the comedy of failure. (shrink)
In order to recuperate these two representatives of medieval frauenlieder, The Wife’s Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer, a feminist poetics must acknowledge the medieval attitudes toward authority and authorship that allow the medievalist to privilege the voice of the text over the historical author or implied author. The modern concept of authorship, derived from a modern concept of the text as private property, valorizes the signature of the author and the author’s presumed control over and legal responsibility for his or (...) her text. With reference to modern literature, contemporary theory has interrogated this “author-function” quite aggressively in an attempt to pry the text away from the author and to valorize the functions of the reader, as Roland Barthes’s “Death of the Author” illustrates,13 or to reconsider the privileges of the subject, in order to “seize its functions, its interventions in discourse, and its system of dependencies,” as Michel Foucault’s essay “What Is an Author?” propoes.14 Foucault’s proposals concerning the place of the subject and the author-function directly challenge modern assumptions about the text as the property of an author: “We can easily imagine a culture where discourse would circulate without any need for an author. Discourses, whatever their status, form, or value, regardless of our manner of handling them, would unfold in a pervasive anonymity.”15 13. See Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author,” Image, Music, Text, trans. Stephen Heath , pp. 142-48.14. Michel Foucault, “What Is an Author?” Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, trans. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon, ed. Bouchard , p. 137.15. Ibid., p. 138. Indeed, Foucault does press his argument to the limits of its implications for the subject, and he ends his essay with a question that challenges the voice of a text as well as its author: “‘What Matter who’s speaking?’” . Nancy K. Miller engages directly in the implications of this position for feminist theory. She states: “What matter who’s speaking? I would answer it matters, for example, to women who have lost and still routinely lose their proper name in marriage, and whose signature—not merely their voice—has not been worth the paper it was written on” . Marilynn Desmond is an assistant professor of English, general literature, and rhetoric at the State University of New York—Binghamton. She is the author of Reading Dido: Textuality and Sexuality in the Late Medieval Reception of Aeneid 4 ; her current work is a study of ekphrasis in late medieval literature. (shrink)
William Desmond - Knowledge of Things Human and Divine: Vico's New Science and Finnegans Wake - Journal of the History of Philosophy 43:3 Journal of the History of Philosophy 43.3 362-363 Donald Phillip Verene. Knowledge of Things Human and Divine: Vico's New Science and Finnegans Wake. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. Pp. xiv + 264. Cloth, $45.00. This is an outstanding book written with elegance and verve, packed with erudition and delivered with wit. It offers insight into both (...) Joyce and Vico in their distinctiveness and in the mutual light they throw on each other. Verene outlines what is peculiar to his own approach in the following way. In the early part of the twentieth century the influence of Croce on the study of.. (shrink)
Desmond: Talking to Richard on the way over, I proposed that our discussion would focus on the theme of autonomy and embeddedness or relatedness. This is a recurrent concern in all of Richard’s writing. I thought it would be a good idea to look at this issue of autonomy and embeddedness in a variety of different forms, in relation to different philosophers that have influenced the work of Richard, but also in a variety of different domains such as ethics, (...) aesthetics or literature, romanticism.In the latter the question of the interplay between art and religion also comes up as a very important consideration. Another central theme in Richard’s work is the tension between aspiration and disappointment, between longing and the failure to reach a desired completion. Disappointment and the fact of failure are not, I would say, absolutized. Disappointment becomes the occasion of a possible renewal of striving or aspiration rather than marking a sceptical outcome in a merely negative sense. (shrink)
This is a special edition of Ethical Perspectives devoted to the issue of autonomy. While the issue of autonomy has its own particular form in Anglo- American discussion, the essays in this issue focus, in the main, on questions arising in the more continental tradition. The essay by William Desmond examines certain dialectical equivocities in the notion of self-determination. These are related to an underlying sense of valuelessness marking modernity’s feeling for the ethos, to a propensity to privilege self (...) over other in the process of self-determination, and to a temptation to evade the question of transcendence as other to human self-transcendence. These dialectical equivocities are explored especially with reference to such major thinkers as Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche. (shrink)
William Desmond: It is a pleasure to welcome Professor Charles Griswold today. I thank him for his willingness to present us with an overview of his new book Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment , and to participate in a discussion. Professor Griswold is professor of philosophy at Boston University, where he is also the chair of the philosophy department. His new work on Adam Smith might seem like something of a departure from the concerns of many of (...) his prior publications. In particular I mean his writings on Plato and Platonic themes generally. I refer especially to his book Self-Knowledge in Plato's Phaedrus, first published by Yale University Press, and recently reprinted by Pennsylvania State University Press.This book is a close reading and interpretation of the Phaedrus, and was awarded the Matchette prize by the American Philosophical Association in 1987. Needless to say, Professor Griswold has written extensively on classical philosophy. This, however, cannot be separated from a concern with pressing problems of more contemporary currency, especially the role of philosophy in society, and with respect to ethical and political considerations. Hence his concern with the moderns, by contrast with the ancients, implies no slighting of the former, though the question persists as to what both have to say to us today. So it is not surprising to find him engaged with a very influential modern, Adam Smith: an influential, but also complex modern, in that themes from ancient thought receive their own distinctive configuration in Smith's thought.Enlightenment is often marked by a certain turn from the past, oriented to a putatively better future, via a reformed or revolutionized present. But the contrast with the past is sometimes less stark. This one might guess perhaps from the subtitle to the book, emphasizing the virtues of enlightenment. While Smith now is often remembered first as an economist, Professor Griswold's interest is directed to his work as a philosopher, especially his moral and political thought. Many of the themes that Adam Smith explored, and to which Griswold draws our attention, are still very live issues: the virtues, ethical reasoning, sympathy, moral education, the importance of ordinary life and the role of philosophical theory, to name but a few issues.Let me then welcome Charles again, and ask him to first offer us an account of his new work, its purposes and its claims. After that we will begin the discussion with the other participants here. (shrink)
Far from being pessimistic or nihilistic, as modern uses of the term "cynic" suggest, the ancient Cynics were astonishingly optimistic regarding human nature. They believed that if one simplified one's life—giving up all unnecessary possessions, desires, and ideas—and lived in the moment as much as possible, one could regain one's natural goodness and happiness. It was a life exemplified most famously by the eccentric Diogenes, nicknamed "the Dog," and his followers, called dog-philosophers, _kunikoi, _or Cynics. Rebellious, self-willed, and ornery but (...) also witty and imaginative, these dog-philosophers are some of the most colorful personalities from antiquity. This engaging introduction to Cynicism considers both the fragmentary ancient evidence on the Cynics and the historical interpretations that have shaped the philosophy over the course of eight centuries—from Diogenes himself to Nietzsche and beyond. Approaching Cynicism from a variety of thematic perspectives as well—their critique of convention, praise of natural simplicity, advocacy of self-sufficiency, defiance of Fortune, and freedom—William Desmond offers a fascinating survey of a school of thought that has had a tremendous influence throughout history and is of continuing interest today. _Copub: Acumen Publishing Limited_. (shrink)
A summary of revisionist accounts of the contextual meaning of "professional" and "amateur," as applied to the mid-Victorian X Club, is followed by an analysis of the liberal goals and inner tensions of this coalition of gentlemen specialists and government teachers. The changing status of amateurs is appraised, as are the new sites for the emerging laboratory discipline of "biology." Various historiographical strategies for recovering the women's role are considered. The relationship of science journalism to professionalization, and the constructive engagement (...) of X Club publicists with their empowering audiences, are discussed. Finally, the article assesses how far the content and boundary closure of "biology," forged by Thomas Henry Huxley, were related to 'professional' and political goals. Pure biology's social and medical roots are examined, and the way inter-professional and wider Darwinian conflicts resulted in a new lexicon of words for the X Clubbers around 1870, including "evolution" and "agnosticism," as well as "biology." Biology's role in the forging of British national identity is discussed, as are its relationship to the social strategies of liberal, Dissenting, and industrial groups in the country, whose authority sustained the new laboratory rhetoric. (shrink)
The primary aim of this paper is to accentuate those features that distinguish Levinasian ethics from the egoism that prevails in management thought. It focuses on differences in the constitution of the subject, how Levinas seeks an ethics that goes beyond the subjective point of view that structures the self as being self-present, self-interested, free and systematic and relates to others through this perspective. Levinas's concepts are critically discussed by reading these alongside Jacques Lacan and Adam Smith, which enable observations (...) to be made about Levinas's concept of the Same and about the difference he effects between human and the nonhuman. It is concluded that it can be easy to misread Levinas in key respects in ways that may act to assimilate his thought to egoism. (shrink)
I want to thank Professor Wang for a very interesting and informative paper. It is especially informative to one who is relatively ignorant of the complex history of China's involvement with notions of modernity, and the variety of its contacts with Western influences. On the whole, the paper offers much valuable information about significant historical landmarks, and the diversity of ways that Chinese intellectuals and leaders have responded to them. Overall, four phases or periods are differentiated for comment and elucidation.
Human life is defined between diverse extremes: birth and death, nothing and infinity. Theater tries to stage something of this between-being and bring it out of its recess in everyday life. What can be called a metaxological philosophy can illuminate this between-condition. “ Metaxu ” is the Greek word for “between,” while “ logos ” can mean an accounting, or reasoning, or wording. A metaxological philosophy of the theatre would look on it as staging the between . Can we say (...) that the theatrical stage, as an intermedium of human communication, is a distinctive wording of the between? Can a metaxological philosophy throw light on what is staged on it, in and through it? In light of this philosophy of the metaxu, reflections are offered on essential themes such as: the space of the stage, the intermediation of inter-action, the shaping of plot, the openness of endings, the tragic and the comic, the sacred and the profane. (shrink)
The writer of the below thought he would do something clever and out of the way. I tried to dissuade him, but without success. I told him that readers would prefer a more sober scholarly approach. I tried to appeal to his other work and his systematic proclivities. Why not try like Schelling to produce a system of freedom? He looked at me queerly. I was a bit taken aback when he burst out laughing in my face, and blurted out: (...) “You must not have read Dostoevski’s Notes from the Underground!” I’m afraid he has spent too much time with the prodigals he has written about. He muttered something almost inaudible about Dostoevski’s double, but I said nothing.If I am not mistaken these pieces have to do with four great and very influential philosophers: Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche. To help the reader I have put the abbreviation K, H, M and N before each ‘monologue.’ In fact, I am not sure if the writer was mocking me: as if my sober efforts to talk of these four thinkers was being doubled with voices like and unlike; voices as if spoken from within, and yet said to have come from beyond; ego and alter; an odd twin of my scholastic sobriety. (shrink)
This paper offers two related refl ections on the questions of metaphysics after critique. The first is an analysis of the project of critique since Kant and its influence on the disputed status of metaphysics. It explores the theoretical and practical aspects of this by claiming that an understanding of thinking as negativity, whether in Hegelian form as determinate negation or in more radical deconstructive forms, lies at the heart of this disputed status. Not least, the relation of philosophy to (...) religion and to previous practices of metaphysics is at stake. The paper argues that there is more at work in critique than critique can account for through itself. In a second reflection, the arguments bearing on this “more” are explored in a more constructive spirit. On the basis of an account of the sources of metaphysical thinking beyond the resources of critique alone, the lineaments of what is needed for a metaxological metaphysics after critique are sketched. (shrink)
This paper considers Derrida's principal works on the animal as comprising a summons to the consuming animal, the human subject. It summarizes, firstly, Derrida's accusation that the entire Western philosophic tradition is guilty of a particularly pernicious disavowal of its repudiation of the animal. This disavowal underpins what he calls the 'carnophallogocentric order' that privileges the virile male adult as a transcendental subject. The paper shows how he calls this line of argument into question by challenging the purity of the (...) predicates that are presumed to secure human self-presence, such as capacity of response. This questioning is extended to consider marketing discourse in relation to the animal. In the second part of the paper, Derrida's arguments from the points of view of 'animalséance' (which here is referred to as 'animalmalaise') and 'limitography' are compared and contrasted with those of animal ethicists, Peter Singer and Tom Regan, and with Emmanuel Levinas. Finally, some implications are discussed for what it might mean to eat well. (shrink)