In our increasingly instrumentalist culture, debates over the privatization of schooling may be beside the point. Whether we hatch some new plan for chartering or funding schools, or retain the traditional model of government-run schools, the ongoing instrumentalization of education threatens the very possibility of public education. Indeed, in the culture of performativity, not only the public school but public life itself is hollowed out and debased. Qualities are recast as quantities, judgments replaced by rubrics, teaching and learning turned into (...) exchange values. Schools should be central to public life: key locations for the regeneration of values, the cultivation of judgment, and the creation of the conditions for positive freedom. In this article Chris Higgins, drawing on Hannah Arendt and Alasdair MacIntyre, goes beyond typical treatments of the schools as equalizer of individual opportunity to explore three aspects of educational publicity: the school as an object of communal concern, schooling as preparation for public life, and the classroom as public space. (shrink)
The Moral Limits of Law analyzes the related debates concerning the moral obligation to obey the law, conscientious citizenship, and state legitimacy. Modern societies are drawn in a tension between the centripetal pull of the local and the centrifugal stress of the global. Boundaries that once appeared permanent are now permeable: transnational legal, economic, and trade institutions increasingly erode the autonomy of states. Nonetheless transnational principles are still typically effected through state law. For law's subjects, this tension brings into focus (...) the interaction of legal and moral obligations and the legitimacy of state authority. This volume incorporates a comprehensive critical analysis of the methodology and substance of the debates in recent legal, political, and moral philosophy, regarding political obligation and the moral obligation to obey the law. The author argues that traditional accounts of political obligation that assume a bounded conception of the polity are no longer tenable. Higgins therefore presents an original theory of the conscientious agent's attitude towards law that accommodates the contemporary social tension between local and global obligations. (shrink)
Kathleen Higgins argues that the arguments that Plato used to defend the ethical value of music are still applicable today. Music encourages ethically valuable attitudes and behavior, provides practice in skills that are valuable in ethical life, and symbolizes ethical ideals.
In the context of mourning, human beings often turn to aesthetic activity. Kathleen Higgins, professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, argues that the aesthetic sphere has certain characteristic capabilities that make it especially well suited for helping one deal with some of the challenges occasioned by bereavement. Among these are the achievement of coherence among seemingly incongruent elements, the use of indirect means of communication and deferred routes to gratification, the celebration of the particular as (...) opposed to the generic, the social sharing of what is at the same time experienced as highly personal, the elaboration of narratives that bring features of character to the fore, and the attainment of symbolic satisfaction. Drawing on such capabilities, aesthetic behavior helps mourners to reconstruct a sense of self, overcome the temptation to apathy, assuage survivor guilt, and reorganize one's relationship with the deceased. The power of the aesthetic in this context demonstrates how basic it is to our sense of what it is to be human. (shrink)
This article takes the form of an exchange between Cape Town academic John Higgins and Jakes Gerwel, respected South African citizen and formerly chief aide to the country’s first democratically-elected president, Nelson Mandela. The conversation covers a wide canvas which ranges from Gerwel’s rural childhood to his recollection of working for Mandela. But there is also an exploration of the role played by South African Marxism in the struggle to end apartheid; on the place of education (and its failure) (...) in the post-apartheid years; on the role of universities both prior and after the ending of apartheid. The important role of the humanities in educating is considered and the rise of technically-inclined forms of education are analysed; in this context, the idea that the citizen has been replaced by the entrepreneur is also raised. The issues of race and class in the context of South Africa’s past and present are also discussed. (shrink)
Stone has many symbolic resonances that suit it for use in commemorations of the dead, and many cultures make use of it for this purpose. In an effort to make sense of this phenomenon, Kathleen Higgins, professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, considers some of the roles stones play in other aspects of human experience and the associations that arise from them. These associations give stone a certain aptness in connection with four projects that are (...) involved in commemorations of the dead: defying death, preserving the deceased in memory, establishing boundaries with respect to the deceased, and symbolically restoring the deceased to life. In helping to accomplish multiple projects and fulfill associated psychological needs, stone memorials are a specific case of a broader phenomenon: the use of aesthetic means to cope with the disorientation that comes with bereavement. (shrink)
"The publication of the revised edition of Kathleen Marie Higgins's Nicizscbe's Zarathustra is a great boon to Nietzsche scholars and Zarathustra specialists alike, for Higgins's consistently subtle analysis of Nietzsche's bold experiment ...
Kathleen Marie Higgins - Nietzsche's Task: An Interpretation of "Beyond Good and Evil" - Journal of the History of Philosophy 40:2 Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.2 270-271 Book Review Laurence Lampert. Nietzsche's Task: An Interpretation of "Beyond Good and Evil." New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. Pp. x + 320. Cloth, $40.00. Laurence Lampert's new book Nietzsche's Task offers a section-by-section commentary on one of Nietzsche's most influential works, Beyond Good and Evil. The challenge of such a (...) project is to unify the commentary while doing justice to the range of discussions in the original. Lampert answers this challenge by subsuming his interpretation of each section to an overall interpretation of this work and of Nietzsche's philosophical enterprise generally. Lampert argues that Beyond Good.. (shrink)
In this essay, Chris Higgins sets out to disentangle the tradition of humane learning from contemporary distinctions and debates. The first section demonstrates how a bloated and incoherent “humanism” now functions primarily as a talisman or a target, that is, as a prompt to choose sides. It closes with the image of Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth, suggesting that humanism is more like the uncertain footing of Salcedo's fissure than the footholds on either side. The second section suggests that this “alien (...) humanism” is hiding in plain sight, requiring us only to read an inch beyond the poster-ready copy fueling the polemics. Even a cursory glance at the texts from which these epitomes are drawn — from Terence's “Nothing human is foreign to me,” through Shakespeare's “What a piece of work is a man,” to Arnold's “The best of what has been thought and said” — is enough to reconnect us with a tradition stranger and more dynamic than that portrayed by boosters and knockers alike. The third section explores the tensions between the research university and the tradition of humane letters it has come to house, arguing that it will not do to escape this rancor by hiding behind the functionalist, and ultimately circular, term “humanist,” defined as one who does research in the humanities. The final section shows that if this older tradition pulls away, to some extent, from the modern humanities, it simultaneously embraces scientific and professional fields, as demonstrated by the long tradition of the physician-humanist. (shrink)
This book offers a lively and unorthodox analysis of Nietzsche by examining a neglected aspect of his scholarly personality--his sense of humor. While often thought of as ponderous and melancholy, the Nietzsche of Higgins's study is a surprisingly subtle and light-hearted writer. She presents a close reading of The Gay Science to show how the numerous literary risks that Nietzsche takes reveal humor to be central to his project. Higgins argues that his use of humor is intended to (...) dislodge readers from their usual, somber detachment and to incite imaginative thinking. (shrink)
From our first social bonding as infants to the funeral rites that mark our passing, music plays an important role in our lives, bringing us closer to one another. In _The Music between Us_, philosopher Kathleen Marie Higgins investigates this role, examining the features of human perception that enable music’s uncanny ability to provoke, despite its myriad forms across continents and throughout centuries, the sense of a shared human experience. Drawing on disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, musicology, linguistics, and (...) anthropology, Higgins’s richly researched study showcases the ways music is used in rituals, education, work, healing, and as a source of security and—perhaps most importantly—joy. By participating so integrally in such meaningful facets of society, Higgins argues, music situates itself as one of the most fundamental bridges between people, a truly cross-cultural form of communication that can create solidarity across political divides. Moving beyond the well-worn takes on music’s universality, _The Music between Us_ provides a new understanding of what it means to be musical and, in turn, human. (shrink)
"Cult of ugliness," Ezra Pound’s phrase, powerfully summarizes the ways in which modernists such as Pound, T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, and T. E. Hulme—the self-styled "Men of 1914"—responded to the "horrid or sordid or disgusting" conditions of modernity by radically changing aesthetic theory and literary practice. Only the representation of "ugliness," they protested, would produce the new, truly "beautiful" work of art. They dissociated the beautiful from its traditional embodiment in female beauty, and from its association with Walter Pater (...) and Oscar Wilde. Their cultivation of ugliness displaced misogyny and homophobia. Higgins takes in texts such as John Ruskin’s art criticism, Eliot’s literary journalism, Lewis’s pro-fascism pamphlets, and the poetry of Pound, Conrad Aiken, and Langston Hughes. She demonstrates that even vigorous champions of beauty were committed to aesthetic practices that disempowered female figures in order to articulate new truths of male artistic mastery. (shrink)
Kathleen Higgins argues that the arguments that Plato used to defend the ethical value of music are still applicable today. Music encourages ethically valuable attitudes and behavior, provides practice in skills that are valuable in ethical life, and symbolizes ethical ideals.
One explanation that may be given for why nonprofit organizations pay lower wages than do other organizations is that nonprofits are more pleasant places to work. Indeed, some authors have proposed that nonprofit organizations should make an effort to promote a working environment that reflects the beliefs of the organization. This paper uses several proxies for whether an organization is a pleasant place in which to work, and tests for whether nonprofits are more likely to offer such pleasant working conditions. (...) Analysis shows that nonprofits are not more likely to offer these conditions in many instances. (shrink)
Racial environmental inequities, documented in research over the past ten years, have deep cultural sources in the connections between the concept of social pollution as it has operated in U.S. race relations and the pollution of minority communities, both of which are, in part, the expression of our dominant cultural ethic and project of mastering nature. The project of mastering nature requires thedisciplining of “human nature” in a context of social power in order to dominate “outward” or “external” nature for (...) the purposes of production and consumption. In disciplining human nature, our ethics and practices of work and gender have fostered the repression and projection of sensuality, widely construed, onto African-Americans in particular. This racial “other” has been historically segregated in our society through social pollution taboos. Social pollution practices, in turn, facilitate the disproportionate environmental pollution of minority communities by rendering such pollution, like the communities themselves, less visible and therefore less of a threat to white centers of power. This fit between social and environmental pollution is expressed in the notion of “appropriately polluted space.” Attempts to understand and correct racial environmental inequities will founder unless these deeper cultural connections are recognized and challenged. Moreover, attempts to redefine an environmentally benign “self” in the Americancontext require that the historical “other” of race be confronted and transcended. (shrink)
We briefly discuss some potential contributions of behavioral momentum research to the study of the behavioral effects of abused drugs. Contributions to the study of the direct effects of drugs on operant responding and to the study of drugs as reinforcers are addressed. Too little empirical evidence is available to thoroughly evaluate the relevance of behavioral momentum concepts to the study of drugs and behavior, but we note several reasons for optimism regarding its potential to make positive contributions.
Turbulent changes in the American business landscape over the past several years present a potentially ominous future for our society. The confluence of corporate downsizing, declining unionism and the surging preference for hiring part-time/temporary workers poses a threat to the very existence of our blue-collar middle class. Furthermore, when these conditions are juxtaposed against prevailing corporate rhapsodies to employee participation programs and a teamwork approach to quality improvement, the scenario becomes absurd.Solutions to the societal and workplace problems we face require (...) both ethical and practical attention. This paper examines current labor-management hostilities from the Mutual Trust perspective on morality. Furthermore, I propose a strategic internal marketing framework as one mechanism for trust-building at the labor-management frontier. The premise for the study is that as a society we will be better off with the system of checks and balances which labor unions can provide; that positive business performance will result from cooperative rather than adversarial relations; and that to be a premier player in the global economy, we must replace worker cynicism and detachment with hope. (shrink)
Directors rate integrity as having the greatest impact on successful Board performance. Yet, no shared meaning exists about what integrity means because it is dependent on one's personal values. This paper builds on research into integrity and top teams by investigating how integrity varies by director's personal values and implications for the Board agenda. It will explore how executives' and directors' definitions of integrity are based on their values, beliefs and underlying needs. Data from UK society was collected from 500 (...) UK adults, aged 18 and over. Results of the research found that definitions of integrity vary by ones value system. Implications include that what director's mean by integrity differs substantially from other employees with different values. Recommendations include re-focusing the Board agenda on issues that resonate with the director's personal values. A passionate Board requires integrity plus action; action without integrity equals indifference. (shrink)
Health research initiatives worldwide are growing in scope and complexity, particularly as they move into the developing world. Expanding health research activity in low- and middle-income countries has resulted in a commensurate rise in the need for sound ethical review structures and functions in the form of Research Ethics Committees (RECs). Yet these seem to be lagging behind as a result of the enormous challenges facing these countries, including poor resource availability and lack of capacity. There is thus an urgent (...) need for ongoing capacity and resource development in these regions in general, and in Africa in particular. Similarly, there is a need for research and initiatives that can identify existing capacity and funding and indicate the areas where this needs to be developed.This discussion paper argues that the Mapping African Research Ethics Capacity (MARC) project is a timely initiative aimed at identifying existing capacity. MARC provides a platform and tool on the Council on Health Research for Development's (COHRED) Health Research website (HRWeb), which can be used by RECs and key stakeholders in health research in Africa to identify capacity, constraints and development needs. MARC intends to provide the first comprehensive interactive database of RECs in Africa, which will allow for the identification of key relationships and analyses of capacity. The potential of MARC lies in the mapping of current ethical review activity onto capacity needs. This paper serves as a starting point by providing a descriptive illustration of the current state of RECs in Africa. (shrink)
motion and Psyche is a really exciting book. In just 47 pages, Marc Jackson gets to define what is an emotion, what emotion categories can be established, when an action represents an emotional conflict, why some people tend to keep memories of certain events while others forget them, and so on. Emotion and Psyche is a reflection on the nature of emotions. But it is much more. The author does not only question the meaning of emotions in our affective (...) life, he presents an audacious thesis that describes the intricate and complex relationship between emotional life, cognition, and psyche in a broad sense. (shrink)
continent. 1.2 (2011): 136-140. In early 2011, Cow Heavy Books published The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature , a compendium of catalog 'blurbs' for non-existent desired or ideal texts. Along with Erinrose Mager, I edited the project, in a process that was more like curation as it mainly entailed asking a range of contemporary writers, theorists, and text-makers to send us an entry. What resulted was a creative/critical hybrid anthology, a small book in which each page opens (...) to a new iteration of textual desire. These texts explore the material possibilities of the book. Somewhat parallel to the call of N. Katherine Hayles who, in her book Writing Machines , urges literary theorists to take up the practice of Medium Specific Analysis (to account for the way the medium in which it is presented conditions or at least bears on a literary text). I see in the imagined works of The Official Catalog a call for the innovative writers of today to become Medium-Responsive. This would mean thinking through the specific (materially constrained) possibilities offered by the media in which texts are presented, and in thinking of the literary text as a kind of art in the greater context of other arts and the book as a medium situated within the context of many other media. In doing so, the contemporary writer refutes the chorus of critics who lament the death of the book by consistently reinvigorating literary innovation. The following are selections from The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature that show possible paths for (thinking about) new writing that engages with its medium. —Ben Segal, Editor THE CUBE Even the most radical non-linear texts have tended to exploit or subvert only the sequential possibilities of print—from the continuous loop of Joyce's Finnegans Wake to the shuffled cards of Marc Saporta's Composition No. 1 —but The Cube takes such multiplicities to an entirely new level. Set in a grid, the book's words can be read conventionally, across the page, as well as down each column—with either route making complete grammatical sense. But they can also be read as stacked strata and mined like lexical core samples through the layered pages of the book. Each path tells the same story from a different perspective (the narrative, naturally, hinges on the potential outcomes of a throw of cubed dice). By opening up the z-axis to reading in this way, The Cube recognizes the book as a three-dimensional sculptural space. Taking its lead from Armand Schwerner's (If Personal) and Raymond Queneau's Cent mille milliards de poèmes , The Cube reads like a experiment by Christian Bök precision printed by Emily McVarish. Craig Dworkin is the editor, most recently, of The Consequence of Innovation: 21st Century Poetics (Roof Books, 2008), The Sound of Poetry/The Poetry of Sound , with Marjorie Perloff (U. Chicago Press, 2009), and Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing , with Kenneth Goldsmith (Northwestern UP, 2010). He teaches at the University of Utah. HE GOES In He Goes , we read notes, letters and e-mails from a scholar father to his novelist daughter. We read of the father's musings on Beckett, on Pinter, on Anne Frank; his description of a woman hanging laundry from a line. We read about his journey toward dying, followed by a brief, third person account of his death, and his obituary. Then a long series of blank pages that demand to be read in real time, non-sentence by non-sentence, blank page by blank page. Finally—and it is here that this peculiar little book begins to soar—the dead father writes to his as-of-yet-still-living daughter. He does not write from death. He does not write from life. The words unprint, unstamp, unkindle. Still, they require no translation. The father "writes" (for lack of a better word) about the serendipitous, the commonplace; he recommends another book. He jokes. He asks his daughter how her stomach is. He says forget about presence in absence, darling; screw words as memorial and the guys in garbage cans and loss as redemption and I can't go on I must go on. He goes, "Love, Fodder." He goes, "incidentally." He goes, "I thought you might like to know." Elizabeth Graver is the author of a story collection, Have You Seen Me? , and three novels: Unravelling ; The Honey Thief ; and Awake . Her work has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories , Best American Essays , and Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards . She teaches at Boston College. THE PAPER ARCHIVIST A stunning package and a triumph of imagination, The Paper Archivist at times looks to be less a book than an abstract expressionist painting. Softly bound, its contents unfold to a single sheet of uneven thickness and texture—a canvas splattered with colored lines, stickers, broken sentences, and nonsense pictographs. But by following the directions to fold, dip, smell, rub, scratch, and tear the sheet according to the contingencies of the weather and using only the objects at hand, the reader slowly brings the forces hidden in the noise into a glorious sculptural convergence, processing a different story and shape each time. This is the rare book that continues to stir, whirl, and pop on every new reading. Sean Higgins blogs at BOMBlog where he is responsible for the column Volumes and Territories, as well as Ghost Island , a fledgling collaborative intellectual collective. THE SLOW BOOK The Slow Book , written by an anonymous author at the dawn of literacy, on a minor planet (otherwise notable only as the source of that exceptionally hardy, not very tasty grain called “shef” sowed on hostile planets as an early step to colonization), and encoded into a series of punctures on a strip of copper coiled inside a clever device, something between a player piano and an old-fashioned film projector, is being released into print, as was the author’s intention, at a rate of one word per century (local time). Each word is, across the Forty Galaxies, agreed to be uncannily apt for the century in which it appears—even “of,” in a century during which the highest value was attached to fidelity, whether to ideals, worlds, or romantic love; even “the,” which governed two centuries, one extraordinarily materialistic, during which advances in propulsion and navigation accelerated the exchange of exceptional objects between the remotest planets of the Forty, and one in which the central concern, both of philosophers and the common man, was whether, in an age of rapidly proliferating hypothetical worlds, anyone or anything concretely existed at all. Even those words published long before interstellar contact can be seen in retrospect to have transgalactic pertinence. As a result, attempts to abstract the machine from its publishers, Hobson & Hui, in order to “predict the future” for insight or gain by “fast- forwarding” the copper strip have been many and ingenious. While, in centuries of skepticism (“maybe”), or of unrest (“go”) the book has been nearly forgotten, in others it seems to haunt every thought, every deed, despite the fact that the subject of The Slow Book is still unclear. So far only a few sentences exist in print; everyone knows them, can quote them, offer the standard exegeses and assorted heresies; yet certainties are the stuff of adolescence; mature readers are forced to acknowledge that these sentences are probably only a preamble to the main argument. They contain no proper nouns, nor can we identify any definite theme. There is even disagreement about their tone, whether coolly ironic, as some insist, or ardent. The appearance of an unusual grammatical case, sometimes called the future pluperfect continuous, used to describe events that at some future point will have always been true (but are not yet)—hitherto known to appear only in the synthetic dogmas of the Thanatographical Society, and in certain highly circumscribed religious contexts—has suggested to some scholars that the Slow Book was originally intended for ritual use, but the proximity of the usage to a term designating a small hand plow that, as Pott and Mielcke have convincingly shown, would have borne a distinctly obscene double meaning in its culture of origin in the author’s time, argues otherwise. It is likewise unclear whether the situation that seems to be—with teasing incompleteness—sketched out in these few lines is intended as an illustration of general principles, a case study, a dramatic scene, or an extended metaphor. In short, we have no idea what The Slow Book is about. In our own time, we believe that it is almost certainly a work of fiction, but that may be because we live in the century of “if”. In each age, perhaps, we see the book we most need to read. Some have dared to suggest that the metal strip is blank until, with millennial fanfare, it advances into its new position, that no ur-text exists, that the book itself is brought into being—written—by our need. But that is exactly the sort of thing we would believe, in 7645. Shelley Jackson is the author of the story collection The Melancholy of Anatomy , the novel Half Life , and hypertexts including Patchwork Girl . The recipient of a Howard Foundation grant, a Pushcart Prize, and the 2006 James Tiptree Jr Award, she has also written and illustrated several children's books, including The Old Woman and the Wave ; Sophia, the Alchemist's Dog ; and Mimi's Dada Catifesto . Her stories and essays have appeared in Conjunctions , McSweeney's , The Paris Review , and Cabinet Magazine . In 2004 she launched her project SKIN , a story published in tattoos on 2095 volunteers. THE BOOK OF SOUNDS The Book of Sounds is just that: a book of sounds made when letters are construed in new ways to bring forth out of the alphabet new forms of speech. A book meant to be read out loud, The Book of Sounds is not unlike Laurie Anderson's O Superman or Brian Eno's Music for Airports in its attempt to make music out of the most primary and simplest of methods. It breaks language down to its barest bones and makes out of the page a drum that has never before been beaten upon. Peter Markus is the author of a novel, Bob, or Man on Boat (Dzanc Books) as well as two books of short fiction, Good, Brother and The Singing Fish , both of which were published by Calamari Press. A new collection of stories, We Make Mud , is now available from Dzanc Books. PARADISE OF THE BLIND by Celan Solen Although the reclusive Celan Solen published his first and only book in 1963—paying out-of-pocket for a limited edition of the slim collection No One May Have the Same Knowledge Again —he remained in American obscurity for almost three decades. In 1992 a micro-press in Istanbul brought out No One in Turkish. A German translation followed in 1995. Soon it became clear in literary circles Solen was a world-class (if highly unclassifiable) artist—lyrical, dense, enigmatic—who could undo the conventional short story in 397 words by inventing impossible worlds housed in impossible whirls (in “Small Sadnesses,” a single chartreuse tree frog in Borneo unknowingly holds time together by its very presence in the universe, while each letter of its tale refers, not to itself, but to the one preceding it in the alphabet). By his disappearance last year, Solen was considered master by a generation of writers and critics (except, alas, for those gentlemen in the Swedish Academy). Imagine, then, that generation’s delight at the discovery, locked away in the author’s safe-deposit box, of his second and final composition. Had Lynch’s Lost Highway been book instead of film, and had it been penned by Beckett at his least certain, revised by Barthelme at his most formally deranged, and typeset by Derrida at his most semiotically catastrophic, the result might have been something like Paradise of the Blind : interlacing narratives of a man composed of borrowed organs (whose most cheerless and difficult to locate, god, could only have been invented by an empty heart), a nonexistent medieval painting blamed for the ruin of future hope, and the spread of a philosophy that holds earth a mistake constantly recurring in the dream of a fish lying on the floor of the Atlantic (if the fish wakes, our world winks off)—all contained in a text packed with typed-over passages, torn postcards, poems that can be deciphered only when held up to a mirror, pages ornamented with trompe-l'œil paperclips and coffee stains and buzzing houseflies, some busy with illegible runes that dissolve when exposed to light, three that smell like roses or lemons (depending on whether a man or woman is reading), two that stain with the bloody fingerprints of the those who handle them, one that ignites when brushed with breath, thirteen sewn from baby skin, one that moans when touched, and one that screams—yet all without mass, unimaginable, and invisible. Lance Olsen is author of more than 20 books of and about innovative fiction, including, most recently, the novels Calendar of Regrets (2010) and Head in Flames (2009). He teaches experimental narrative theory and practice at the University of Utah. SUPERSTRUCTURE! by Barbara D'Albi As soon as I opened the third drawer of Barbara D'Albi's wooden novel, everything became hopeless. Now in Ithaca, there was no going back. And it wasn't just the intricate series of shelves, hinged doors and locked drawers which D'Albi layered into the book, no, lo, I was constructed anew by the story. Who else but D'Albi to imagine a God who becomes a carpenter and gets killed?! And makes it good! You want stories? D'Albi is a skyscraper, built with planes and levers. Momentarily I wondered where I could shelve this book, and then I thought: no matter; I couldn't put it down. Adam Robinson lives in Baltimore, where he runs Publishing Genius. He is the author of Adam Robison and Other Poems and Say, Poem. 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_Criticism and Conviction_ offers a rare opportunity to share personally in the intellectual life and journey of the eminent philosopher Paul Ricoeur. Internationally known for his influential works in hermeneutics, theology, psychoanalysis, and aesthetics, until now, Ricoeur has been conspicuously silent on the subject of himself. In this book--a conversation about his life and work with François Azouvi and Marc de Launay--Ricoeur reflects on a variety of philosophical, social, religious, and cultural topics, from the paradoxes of political power to (...) the relationship between life and art, and life and death. In the first of eight conversations, Ricoeur traces the trajectory of his life, recounting the origins of his convictions and the development of his intellect against the tragic events of the twentieth century. Declaring himself the "son of a victim of the First World War," Ricoeur, an orphan, sketches his early years in the house of stern but loving grandparents, and the molding of his intellect under the tutelage of Roland Dalbiez, Gabriel Marcel, and André Philip. Ricoeur tells the intriguing story of his capture and five-year imprisonment by the Germans during World War II, where he and his compatriots fashioned an intellectual life complete with a library and lectures, and where he, amazingly, was able to continue his dissertation research. Elegantly interweaving anecdotal with philosophical meditations, Ricoeur recounts his relationships with some of the twentieth century's greatest figures, such as Heidegger, Jaspers, and Eliade. He also shares his views on French philosophers and explains his tumultuous relationship with Jacques Lacan. And while expressing his deepest respect for the works of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Michel Foucault, Ricoeur reserves his greatest admiration for the narratologist Algirdas Julien Greimas. Ricoeur also explores the relationship between the philosophical and religious domains, attempting to reconcile the two poles in his thought. And readers who have struggled with Ricoeur's work will be grateful for these illuminating discussions that provide an invaluable key to his writings on language and narrative, especially those on metaphor and time. Spontaneous and lively, _Criticism and Conviction_ is a passionate confirmation of Ricoeur's eloquence, lucidity, and intellectual rigor, and affirms his position as one of this century's greatest thinkers. It is an essential book for anyone interested in philosophy and literary criticism. (shrink)
For scientific essentialists, the only logical possibilities of existence are the real (or metaphysical) ones, and such possibilities, they say, are relative to worlds. They are not a priori, and they cannot just be invented. Rather, they are discoverable only by the a posteriori methods of science. There are, however, many philosophers who think that real possibilities are knowable a priori, or that they can just be invented. Marc Lange [Lange 2004] thinks that they can be invented, and tries (...) to use his inventions to argue that the essentialist theory of counterfactual conditionals developed in Scientific Essentialism [Ellis 2001, hereafter SE] is flawed. (shrink)
There remains a concern in philosophy of education circles to assert that teaching is a social practice. Its initiation occurs in a conversation between Alasdair MacIntyre and Joe Dunne which inspired a Special Issue of the Journal of Philosophy of Education. This has been recently utilised in a further Special Issue by Chris Higgins. In this article I consider two points of conflict between MacIntyre and Dunne and seek to resolve both with a more nuanced understanding of the implications (...) of applying the concept ‘social practice’ to teaching. I critique both Dunne's and Higgins' focus on schools and school teaching. It is their focus on school teaching, rather than a broader account of teaching, that leads them astray. The result is that Dunne and Higgins have not shown that teaching is a social practice. School teaching is not a complex activity, but a complex set of different activities co-located in one place and engaged in by the same agents. In a final section I offer an account of ‘school teaching’ as a multi-practice activity which is consistent with MacIntyre's approach, and argue that schoolteachers have both an institutional and an educative role. (shrink)
This paper addresses a question concerning psychological continuity, i.e., which features preserve the same psychological subject over time; this is not the same question as the one concerning the necessary and sufficient conditions for personal identity. Marc Slors defends an account of psychological continuity that adds two features to Derek Parfit’s Relation R, namely narrativity and embodiment. Slors’s account is a significant improvement on Parfit’s, but still lacks an explicit acknowledgment of a third feature that I call relationality. Because (...) they are usually regarded as cases of radical discontinuity, I start my discussion from the experiences of psychological disruption undergone by victims of severe violence and trauma. As it turns out, the challenges we encounter in granting continuity to the experiences of violence and trauma victims are germane to those we encounter in granting continuity to the experiences of subjects in non-traumatic contexts. What is missing in the most popular accounts of psychological continuity is an explicit acknowledgment of the links that tie our psychological lives to other subjects. A more persuasive notion of psychological continuity is not only embodied and narrative, as is Slors’s notion, but also explicitly relational. (shrink)
Marc Lange’s new book on laws offers a restatement and development of the account he proposed in Natural Laws and Scientific Practice (Oxford University Press, 2000), henceforth NLSP, and the new material is helpfully summarized in the preface. Laws and Lawmakers presents the key idea from NLSP in a rather more reader-friendly manner – this idea being roughly that the difference between laws and accidents is that laws, unlike accidents, form a ‘stable’ set, i.e. a logically closed set of (...) truths such that they would all still hold under any counterfactual supposition consistent with the set. So, for example, the natural laws all still hold under counterfactual suppositions such as ‘had this match been struck …’, ‘had Bill Gates wanted to build a gold cube one mile across’ and so on; thus this set is stable. But the set of laws plus the accidental claim ‘there is no gold cube one mile across’ fails to hold under such counterfactual suppositions because had Bill Gates wanted to build a gold cube one mile across, such a cube might well have come into existence; thus this set is not stable. While the basic outline and defence of this idea is provided in Chapter 1, those wishing to delve into the intricate …. (shrink)
The preceding article by Marc Bekoff reveals much about our current understanding of animal self-consciousness and its implications. It also reveals how much more there is to be said and considered. This response briefly examines animal self-consciousness from scientific, moral, and theological perspectives. As Bekoff emphasizes, self-consciousness is not one thing but many. Consequently, our moral relationship to animals is not simply one based on a graded hierarchy of abilities. Furthermore, the complexity of animal self-awareness can serve as stimulus (...) for thinking about issues of theodicy and soteriology in a broader sense. (shrink)
In Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature, Marc Lange has presented an engagingly written, tightly argued, and novel philosophical account of the laws of nature. One of the intuitions behind the notion of a law of nature is, roughly, that of the many regularities we observe in the world there are some which appear to be due to mere happen-stance (“accidental” regularities, in the philosopher’s jargon), while others, which we call “laws,” seem to be possessed (...) of a degree of necessity. For example, if the only music ever to come out of my stereo system during the entirety of its existence were that of James Brown, we would term this an accidental regularity: it seems that it could have been otherwise had the world been different, perhaps by the stereo having a different owner or my having different tastes. On the other hand, the various relations and properties that determine the electrical functioning of my stereo seem more necessary and lawlike: presumably Ohm’s law would have held even had my stereo never been built.1 But even if Ohm’s law is somehow necessary, it seems less necessary than other “broadly logical” truths. Certainly Ohm’s law could have been different, perhaps by a factor of two, yet it seems unreasonable to say that the number 6 could have been prime. Although many philosophers, and certainly most scientists, will readily agree that there is a difference between logical, law-like, and accidental regularities, spelling out the nature of this difference has proved a remarkably difficult task. It is precisely this puzzle which Lange intends Laws and Lawmakers to address. In this review I shall first give a quick and broad outline of Lange’s account of natural laws as I understand it, followed by a brief summary of the contents of the book, and then close with a few critical comments. (shrink)