As his subtitle indicates, Keith Graham's book is more than a reappraisal of Austin's work. It offers a general critique of ordinary language philosophy, with Austin as its representative exponent, and, as the dustjacket adds, "it will also serve as an introduction both to philosophical questions in general and to the alternative techniques available within the analytic tradition for answering them." The first fifty pages or so are devoted to staking out these broad claims, particularly a long chapter-essay entitled "Philosophy (...) of Language as a Method.". (shrink)
A. J. Ayer, who died in 1989, was acknowledged as one of Britain's most distinguished philosophers. In this memorial collection of essays leading Western philosophers reflect on Ayer's place in the history of philosophy and explore aspects of his thought and teaching. The volume also includes a posthumous essay by Ayer himself: 'A defence of empiricism'. These essays are undoubtedly a fitting tribute to a major figure, but the collection is not simply retrospective; rather it looks forward to present and (...) future developments in philosophical thought that Ayer's work has stimulated. (shrink)
In contrast to many of his contemporaries, A. J. Ayer was an analytic philosopher who had sustained throughout his career some interest in developments in the work of his ‘continental’ peers. Ayer, who spoke French, held friendships with some important Parisian intellectuals, such as Camus, Bataille, Wahl and Merleau-Ponty. This paper examines the circumstances of a meeting between Ayer, Merleau-Ponty, Wahl, Ambrosino and Bataille, which took place in 1951 at some Parisian bar. The question under discussion during this meeting was (...) whether the sun existed before humans did, over which the various philosophers disagreed. This disagreement is tangled with a variety of issues, such as Ayer’s critique of Heidegger and Sartre, Ayer’s response to Merleau-Ponty’s critique of empiricism, and Bataille’s response to Sartre’s critique of his notion of ‘unknowing’, which uncannily resembles Ayer’s critique of Sartre. Amidst this tangle one finds Bataille’s statement that an ‘abyss’ separates English from French and German philosophy, the first recorded announcement of the analytic-continental divide in the twentieth century. (shrink)
This paper gives an account of the debate between F.A. Hayek and J.M. Keynes in the 1930s written for the general public. The purpose of this is twofold. First, to provide the general reader with a narrative of what happened, … More ›.
Eetu Pikkarainen describes the educational thinking of Johann AmosComenius (1592-1670) from a perspective of Bildung -theoretical problems. Comenius has had a remarkable influence on modern education, particularly through his language-learning and general didactical methods and principles. However, Comenius’ broader pansophic views have had somewhat more benign later effects. Comenius developed a reformation programme concerning the ‘main areas’ of reality, from theology and education to philosophy and language to social questions and world peace. This program has important connections to the modern (...) theories of Bildung. Comenius connects individual human growth with global issues such as the growth of scientific knowledge, the justice of political systems, and world peace. In his philosophy, Comenius strongly criticises the problems of the rising modern thinking such as trapping to dualisms. From that angle, Comenius appears an almost postmodern thinker with surprising similarity to the thoughts of C S Peirce. (shrink)
I am very much honoured to have been asked to make the closing speech at this Conference. Since this is the first time for over fifty years that a philosophical congress of this scope has been held in England, I hope that you will think it suitable for me to devote my lecture to the revival of the empiricist tradition in British philosophy during this century. I shall begin by examining the contribution of the Cambridge philosopher G. E. Moore. Though (...) he first owed his fame to his book Principia Ethica regarded as a work of genius by the Cambridge Apostles and their associates in Bloomsbury, who did not venture to question Moore's mistaken view of ‘good’ as an unanalysable non-natural quality, his reputation now chiefly rests on his subsequent defence of common sense. (shrink)
There is a strong tendency in the scholarly and sub-scholarly literature on terrorism to treat it as something like an ideology. There is an equally strong tendency to treat it as always immoral. Both tendencies go hand in hand with a considerable degree of unclarity about the meaning of the term ‘terrorism’. I shall try to dispel this unclarity and I shall argue that the first tendency is the product of confusion and that once this is understood, we can see, (...) in the light of a more definite analysis of terrorism, that the second tendency raises issues of inconsistency, and even hypocrisy. Finally, I shall make some tentative suggestions about what categories of target may be morally legitimate objects of revolutionary violence, and I shall discuss some lines of objection to my overall approach. (shrink)
Hume's doctrine of natural belief allows that certain beliefs are justifiably held by all men without regard to the quality of the evidence which may be produced in their favour. Examples are belief in an external world and belief in the veracity of our senses. According to R. J. Butler, Hume argues in the Dialogues that belief in God is of this sort. More recently John Hick has argued that for some people it is as natural to believe in God (...) as to believe in an external world. I shall first inquire what Hume understands by reasonable belief and by natural belief. I shall then use the results of this investigation to argue, against Butler, that belief in God is not a natural belief; and against Hick, more briefly, that his thesis is not viable in as far as it depends upon Hume's doctrine of natural belief. These discussions are important to the philosophy of religion since by means of natural beliefs it could be urged that belief in God is something justifiable without reference to reason or evidence: a position which would be of immense value to the theist. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's book On Certainty which was first published in 1969, eighteen years after his death, is a collection of notes which he composed during the last eighteen months of his life. As his editors explain in their preface, these notes, which were written at four different periods, are all in the form of a first draft. They are more repetitive than they no doubt would have been if Wittgenstein had been able to revise them. Even so, they are characteristically succinct (...) and penetrating, and the argument which they develop is easier to follow than that of the general run of Wittgenstein's later work. (shrink)
The relationship between John Locke and Isaac Newton, his co-founder of, in the apt phrase of one recent writer, ‘the Moderate Enlightenment’ of the eighteenth century, has many dimensions. There is their friendship, which began only after each had written his major work, and which had its stormy interlude. There is the difficult question of their mutual impact. In what ways did each draw intellectually on the other? That there was some debt of each to the other is almost certain, (...) but its exact extent is problematic. Questions may be asked over a whole range of intellectual issues, but not always answered. Thus their theology, which was in many respects close, and which forms the bulk of their surviving correspondence, may yet reveal mutual influence. There is the question of their political views, where both were firmly Whig. But it is upon their philosophy, and certain aspects of their philosophy in particular, that this paper will concentrate. My main theme is the nature of their empiricism, and my main contention is that between them they produced a powerful and comprehensive philosophy. (shrink)
Peter Geach supports his case that the religion of Thomas Hobbes was both genuine and a version of Socinianism principally by comparing the theological and scriptural sections of Leviathan with the main doctrines of Socinianism and its latter-day developments in Unitarianism and Christadelphianism. He pays particular attention to comparisons with the Racovian Catechism, the theological writings of Joseph Priestley and the Christadelphian document Christendom Astray by Robert Roberts.
Although there are many different philosophical hares that could be started by the use of the term ‘historical fact’ I am interested in pursuing one that is related to the historian's attitude to testimony. By way of preliminary, however, I should say something about my use of the word ‘fact’. A contrast that sets off my use best is probably that between fact and theory. This distinction is at once methodological and epistemological in that it concerns the structure of inquiry (...) as well as the structure of secure belief. As far as inquiry is concerned it is plausible to suppose that an investigation begins with a problem or a puzzle, the delineation of which requires certain data in the form of propositions that are known to be true, or are taken for granted or commonly agreed upon as sufficiently secure to provide a grounding for the inquiry. It is to cover such data that I am using the word ‘fact’ and hence it will not refer to just any true proposition. Theories however stand as the outcome of inquiry and involve generality and inference and classification in a way that facts do not. It is interesting that the term ‘datum’ came into use in English at the same time that the word ‘fact’, which had meant ‘a deed or action’, acquired the sort of meaning that interests me here. (shrink)
The ‘beautiful axiom’ to which Dickens refers is a central feature of Thomas Hobbes' thinking but its precise role in his moral philosophy remains unclear. I shall here attempt both to dispel the unclarity and to evaluate the adequacy of the position that emerges. Given the high level of contemporary interest in Hobbes' thought, both within and beyond philosophical circles, this is an enterprise of considerable importance. None the less, my interest is not merely interpretative, since the assessment of Hobbes' (...) attitude to ‘the beautiful axiom’ raises important and difficult questions about what might be termed the preconditions of morality. (shrink)
Names of Romans in Josephus are notoriously liable to corruption. Two minor characters in his account of the assassination of Caligula have so far defied plausible emendation, ‘Timidius’ in A.J. 19.33–4 and ‘Bathybius’ in 19.91. The sources of Josephus’ account of this dramatic episode were unquestionably high class—two, rather than one, Latin historians, as Wiseman has demonstrated, the main one being Cluvius Rufus, the other possibly Fabius Rusticus.
This article examines A.J. Heschel’s “Theology of pathos” in light of the critique Eliezer Berkovits raised against it. Heschel’s theology of pathos is the notion of God as the “most moved mover”, who cares deeply for humans, and thus highly influencing their prophetic motivation for human-social improvement. Berkovits, expressing the negative-transcendent theology of Maimonides, assessed that Heschel’s theology of pathos is not systematic, is anthropomorphic, and reflects a foreign Christian influence. However, when checking Berkovits’s own views as a thinker, it (...) turns out that he formulated some immanent theological notions that were overlapping those of Heschel, for example in attributing God the personal trait of caring. Surprisingly, most Heschel’s scholars did not consider this point. This riddle addressed here in two ways: (1) Psychological and Social, on which I understand Berkovits’s critique as a way of coping with his own religious perplexities, and in a wider sense, it is asserted that trans-denominational critique may be a discursive opportunity for mutual corrigibility. (2) Theological, since Heschel and Berkovits indeed faced a similar theological challenge, of rejecting any description of God as anthropomorphism. I thus offer a constructive theological argument for providing a justification to the immanent theologies of both Heschel and Berkovits. (shrink)
The determination of “who is a J” within a society is treated as an aggregation of the views of the members of the society regarding this question. Methods, similar to those used in Social Choice theory are applied to axiomatize three criteria for determining who is a J: 1) a J is whoever defines oneself to be a J. 2) a J is whoever a “dictator” determines is a J. 3) a J is whoever an “oligarchy” of individuals agrees is (...) a J. (shrink)
Ted Honderich: Professor Ayer, you wrote Language, Truth and Logic when you were only twenty-four, in 1935, and achieved fame by way of it. Tell us a bit about the writing. A. J. Ayer: After I'd taken my Schools at Oxford—I read Greats—my tutor Gilbert Ryle suggested that I go away for a couple of terms. I had already been appointed Lecturer at Christ Church, and I wanted to go to Cambridge to study under Wittgenstein, but Gilbert said no, don't (...) do that. We've got a lot of people going to Cambridge and we've a vague idea of what Wittgenstein is up to, but I believe something very interesting is happening in Vienna, under Moritz Schlick. Why don't you go to Vienna? I'd just got married for the first time, and I thought Vienna would be a nice place to go to for a honeymoon. At this point I didn't speak much German, but I thought I'd pick up some, which I did, and so I went and worked with the Vienna Circle. I couldn't really take much part in their debates, but I understood what was going on and came back very enthusiastic about what they were doing. They were extremely empiricist, very anti-metaphysical, anti-religious, and this suited my cast of mind very much. I immediately started lecturing at Oxford on—I think it was Russell, Wittgenstein and Quine. Russell was at that time almost a forbidden subject at Oxford, and Wittgenstein and Quine were people who'd not been heard of. (shrink)
This paper explores the relationships between Christianity, Englishness, and ideas about the southern English landscape in the writings of the 1930s and 1940s rural commentator, H.J. Massingham. The paper begins by looking in general terms at the conjunction of religious and national identities in the context of national landscapes before moving on to consider in more detail one particular instance of this in the writing of H.J. Massingham. Massingham's understanding of a divine natural order, his construction of a kind of (...) 'divine Englishness' and the way in which he relates this to particular English landscapes is explored. In particular, the paper investigates the natural, social and political power relationships which are embedded in Massingham's work, and suggests that his writing provides an interesting example of one way in which theological reasoning can reflect and reinforce concepts of a naturally ordered national identity. (shrink)
A. J. P. Taylor's book, The Origins of the Second World War, has generated substantial criticism from historians. However, Taylor and his critics agree on many aspects of causality. At least four models of the cause versus condition, argument can be discerned in the work of both Taylor and his critics. The first is the "traditional" theory that the war was caused by a single man, Adolf Hitler. A second issue concerns what it means to say that Hitler "intended" to (...) take certain actions. The third is to what extent conditions forced the occurrence of particular events. The final conception of cause revealed is the notion of a condition which is sufficient to effect a result. Though Taylor seems to arrive at this position, he does not offer any opinion on the sufficient conditions themselves. (shrink)
This article describes the upbringing and education of the semiotician A. J. Greimas and explores how they contributed to shaping his subsequent life of ideas. An initial narrative characterizes the linguistic and cultural context in which he grew up, relates his schooling in Lithuania, and details his university studies in 1930s France. This account highlights the individuals, methods, authors, and books of his youth which proved particularly significant for him. A longer second section then synthesizes the experiences recounted. Four cultural (...) and intellectual traditions played a leading role in Greimass development: Lithuanian, Slavic, Germanic, and French. He took a particular interest in poetry, the Middle Ages, philosophy, history, modernism, and philology. The essay inquires into the ways in which these heritages, arts, and topics informed the ensuing evolution of his outlook, his ideas, and his career. (shrink)
In his paper “Has Austin Refuted the Sense-Datum Theory?” A. J. Ayer contends that the argument from illusion calls attention to perspectival distortion, perceptual misidentification and elusive perceptual belief only in order to establish the possibility of perceptual error. Pointing to our occasional perceptual failures reminds us that perceptual error is always logically possible—that any particular perceptual belief to the effect that one is perceiving a physical surface could be mistaken. This in turn is thought by Ayer to show that (...) the ordinary belief that we perceive physical surfaces requires qualification—along lines urged by sense-datum philosophers—to the effect that even in those situations properly described for non-philosophical purposes as perceptions of physical surfaces it cannot be physical surfaces that are literally present to one's senses. Ayer believes that this can be established, for any given case, by the possibility of perceptual error alone. (shrink)
O livro de C. A. J. Coady, Testimony: a philosophical study , ainda inédito no Brasil, é importante para o movimento de reabilitação do valor epistêmico do testemunho. O problema destacado pelo autor, que percorre os últimos decênios de disputas epistêmicas, poderia ser bem resumido na seguinte questão: o conhecimento humano possui outras fontes para sua constituição, além de sensibilidade, memória e razão? A tradição moderna, capitaneada por Hume, tende a diminuir a importância do testemunho na produção do conhecimento, privilegiando (...) as fontes epistêmicas internas ao sujeito. Nesta obra, o autor quer ocupar-se do papel fundamental que o testemunho possui enquanto fonte confiável de conteúdos epistêmicos. (shrink)