Theism, according to David O'Connor, has in recent centuries been on trial for its life, the charge being that the existence of so much evil in the world is incompatible with belief in a benevolent creator. But this trial, he claims is incapable of producing a reasoned verdict.
In his paper ‘Has the Ontological Argument Been Refuted?’, 97–110) William F. Vallicella argues that my attempt to show that the Ontological Argument begs the question is unsuccessful. 1 I believe he is wrong about this, but before endeavouring to vindicate my position I must first make clear what precisely is the point at issue between us. The Ontological Argument is not a single argument, but a family of arguments. Newly devised formulations of the argument are frequently put forward by (...) philosophers in an effort to avoid difficulties that have been pointed out in previous versions. As a consequence there is no possibility of a conclusive proof that every form of the argument embodies the same fallacy. Nevertheless, one can, I believe, prove that all the standard versions of the argument embody a certain fallacy and that, given the nature of the argument, it is therefore unlikely that the argument can be formulated in such a way as to avoid this difficulty. What I tried to show in my paper is that the six best-known versions of the argument all beg the question and that they do so at the same point in the argument, namely when it is asserted that it is possible that an absolutely perfect being exists. It is difficult to see how an ontological argument could be formulated without including this claim as one of its premises, since the distinguishing badge of the argument is the inference from the possibility of an absolutely perfect being to its actuality. It must be unlikely then, if my criticism of these six versions is correct, that there is any way of formulating the argument that avoids this fallacy. (shrink)
The title of A. P. Martinich's article is a misnomer. What he is defending is not the doctrine of infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council and as understood by Roman Catholic theologians, but his own highly personal and, to my mind, entirely mistaken interpretation of the doctrine. This interpretation derives from the fact that some purportedly infallible utterances contain the expression ‘we declare that…’. This leads Martinich to believe that such utterances are declarations rather than statements and since (...) declarations, as he appears to understand the term, create facts rather than express them, he concludes that it is logically impossible for an ‘infallible utterance’ to be false. The papal claim to infallibility is thus no longer open to question since ‘the fact-making quality of infallible utterances guarantees their correctness’. (shrink)
In his article ‘Infallibility’ A. P. Martinich has argued that the logical character of infallible utterances has been generally misunderstood. Opponents and supporters of the doctrine of papal infallibility have both assumed, he claims, that infallible utterances are statements; but this is incorrect, for such utterances are not statements, but declarations. Consideration of this point, he believes, would enable us to see that the doctrine of papal infallibility is both coherent and correct.
In Sect. 1 of this chapter, Matthew McGrath examines Sosa's work on the nature of truth. Sosa's chief purpose is to determine what sort of theory of truth is appropriate for truth-centered epistemology -- an epistemology that takes truth to be the goal of inquiry and which explains key epistemic notions in terms of truth. While Sosa refutes arguments from Putnam and Davidson against the correspondence theory, he is hesitant to endorse it because he doubts we have a clear (...) enough grasp of what correspondence amounts to and what the correspondents are. A truth-centered epistemologist, however, is free to work with minimalism about truth and Moorean primitivism. Part of Sosa's case for primitivism, and against minimalism, involves a comparison with Moore's account of goodness. Here McGrath notes an important dissimilarity between the two (i.e., susceptibility to open-question arguments) and suggests that this may be reason to prefer minimalism to primitivism. -/- In Sect. 2, Jeremy Fantl discusses Sosa's work on the role of truth in epistemology. Sosa seems to be motivated by a dilemma facing any account of that role on which true belief is the sole fundamental epistemic value. On the one hand, we want an account of the role of truth in epistemology to explain why we epistemically evaluate beliefs and guide our intellectual lives in the way we do. On the other hand, it should not come out that we have any sort of epistemic obligation to form beliefs about completely boring or trivial matters (e.g., about the first phone number listed on page 356 of the phone book). Sosa's attempt to resolve the dilemma is to, first of all, adopt something like a pluralism about epistemic value and, second of all, move the primary locus of epistemic evaluation from beliefs to faculties. The second part of this chapter investigates the intricacies of these maneuvers. (shrink)
McGrath, John The Church 'exists to evangelise'. It is its essential mission. Catholic schooling in Australia professes its enthusiasm for being 'part of the evangelising mission of the Church'. It always has. However, the call to renewed ways of evangelisation in new and diverse circumstances gives rise to a number of questions: How should schools respond to new contexts? What principles should underpin their evangelising efforts? What are some of the renewed ways by which school systems strive to meet (...) the challenges of spreading the Good News today? (shrink)
James McGrath's contribution to the proceedings of the first global conference of the Cyberworlds, Virtual Reality project, which took place from Monday 11 August - Wednesday 13 August 2003, in Prague, as part of the At the Interface conference series.
Between 1653 and 1655 Margaret Cavendish makes a radical transition in her theory of matter, rejecting her earlier atomism in favour of an infinitely-extended and infinitely-divisible material plenum, with matter being ubiquitously self-moving, sensing, and rational. It is unclear, however, if Cavendish can actually dispense of atomism. One of her arguments against atomism, for example, depends upon the created world being harmonious and orderly, a premise Cavendish herself repeatedly undermines by noting nature’s many disorders. I argue that her supposed (...) difficulties with atomism expose a deeper tension in her work between two fundamental metaphysical commitments each of which has substantial philosophical support: her monist theory of the material world (which maintains that there exists just one natural substance which is the single principal cause) and her occasional theory of causation (which requires multiple finite principal causes in nature -- causes that might be considered individual substances). Her monism undermines atomism while her theory of occasional cause seems to rest on a conception of nature that would be especially friendly to atomism. I argue further that we can solve this tension within a Cavendishian framework in such a way as to preserve her theory of causation and her monism, but that this solution depends upon our taking her monism in a particular (and weak) form. I finally note that we can best make sense of her unique and interesting form of monism by acknowledging her social-political motivations in addition to her motivations in natural philosophy. (shrink)
Consider the distinctive qualitative property grass visually appears to have when it visually appears to be green. This property is an example of what I call sensuous color. Whereas early modern mechanists typically argue that bodies are not sensuously colored, Margaret Cavendish disagrees. In cases of veridical perception, she holds that grass is green in precisely the way it visually appears to be. In defense of her realist approach to sensuous colors, Cavendish argues that it is impossible to conceive (...) of colorless bodies, the very possibility of color experience requires that bodies are sensuously colored, and the attribution of sensuous colors to bodies provides the best explanation of color constancy. Although some passages might suggest that Cavendish endorses a reductive account of sensuous color, according to which sensuous color reduces to a body's microscopic surface texture, I argue that she accepts a nonreductive account, on which sensuous color is not thus reducible. (shrink)
It has often been noted that Margaret Cavendish discusses God in her writings on natural philosophy far more than one might think she ought to given her explicit claim that a study of God belongs to theology which is to be kept strictly separate from studies in natural philosophy. In this article, I examine one way in which God enters substantially into her natural philosophy, namely the role he plays in her particular version of teleology. I conclude that, while (...) Cavendish has some resources with which to partially alleviate this tension, she is nonetheless left with a significant difficulty. (shrink)
Before her death in 1673, Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle, expressed a wish that her philosophical work would experience a ‘glorious resurrection’ in future ages. During her lifetime, and for almost three centuries afterwards, her writings were destined to ‘lye still in the soft and easie Bed of Oblivion’. But more recently, Cavendish has received a measure of the fame she so desired. She is celebrated by feminists, literary theorists, and historians. There are regular conferences organised by the (...) International Margaret Cavendish Society, and there have been several biographies, as well as essay collections, journal issues, scholarly editions, and anthologies devoted to her work. In terms of studies in the history and philosophy of science, however, Cavendish has yet to achieve her resurrection in full. While there have been journal articles and book chapters, and a 2001 edition of her Observations, there have been (until now) no book-length studies of her philosophy, and there is currently no modern edition of her other major work, the Philosophical Letters. This essay-length review of Lisa Sarasohn’s The Natural Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish highlights why Cavendish should still hold interest for philosophers today. (shrink)
Review of: Margaret A. Boden, Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science, 2 vols, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, xlvii+1631, cloth $225, ISBN 0-19-924144-9. - Mind as Machine is Margaret Boden’s opus magnum. For one thing, it comes in two massive volumes of nearly 1700 pages, ... But it is not just the opus magnum in simple terms of size, but also a truly crowning achievement of half a century’s career in cognitive science.
This article sketches some of the main ideas that informed the work of the post-colonial Indian philosopher Margaret Chatterjee. A philosopher of language and religion, her work straddles the “frozen” traditions of the east and the west, and astutely philosophizes about Gandhian thought in the realm of religious alterity and coevality.
Throughout the 1980s Margaret Thatcher dominated British and global politics. At the same time she maintained an active Christian faith, which she understood as shaping and informing her political choices and policies. In this article I argue that we can construct from Thatcher's key speeches, her memoirs, and her book on public policy a cultural "theo-political" identity which guided her political decisions. Thatcher's identity was as an Anglo-Saxon Nonconformist. This consisted of her belief in values such as thrift and (...) hard work, care for the family and local neighbor, and charitable generosity; her belief in the renewal of the national British Christian spirit; and her notion of morality as the opportunity for free choice. Without a recognition of the centrality of her theo-political identity, it is difficult to understand the values and beliefs which were central to her political life. The methodological issues raised by the construction of this theo-political identity are examined in this article. The aim of the proposed methodology is to develop theological insights into a political phenomenon like Thatcher rather than make policy judgments or recommendations. (shrink)
This essay examines Meera Margaret Singh’s exhibition Nightingale in the time and place of the liminal space we call “hotel.” In intertexual dialogue with Wayne Koestenbaum’s Hotel Theory, the author not only reviews Singh’s intimate photographs of her mother, she reads the images with and against the architecture in which they are exhibited. The Gladstone as exhibition space redoubles Singh’s emphasis on the tense connectivity of apparent binaries: youth and age, public and private, artist and model, object and spectator, (...) living and dying. The quotidian activities of hotel living—guests’ arrivals, departures, and returns—become inextricable pieces of Singh’s site-specific installation. The author theorizes what Freud calls the “foretaste of mourning” in this work, grappling with what will be but is not yet the death of the mother. Singh’s Nightingale proposes that we do not “work through” mourning: mourning is a perpetual way of being in the present. (shrink)
In The City of Ladies and Bell in Campo, Christine de Pizan and Margaret Cavendish imagine women’s participation to war as a metaphor of the sexual conflict that they must fight in order to conquer their visibility in history. While Pizan rewrites history from women’s stand point and acknowledges the universal value of sexual difference for the plan of salvation, Cavendish moves within a modern frame and thinks history as the result of human action. In both cases, the tale (...) of women’s participation to war allows criticizing the moral and normative implications of «nature». (shrink)
On the strength of her 1666 pamphlet, Womens Speaking Justified, the Quaker writer Margaret Fell has been hailed as a feminist pioneer. In this short tract, Fell puts forward several arguments in favour of women's preaching. She asserts the spiritual equality of the sexes, she appeals to female exempla in the Bible, and she reinterprets key scriptural passages that appear to endorse women's subordination to men. Some scholars, however, have questioned Fell's status as a feminist thinker. They point to (...) the fact that, according to Fell and her fellow Quakers, women are permitted to speak in church—but only in so far as they are vessels or mouthpieces for Christ. In every other respect, it is argued, the early Quakers continue to either ignore, denigrate, or efface the female sex. Other critics point out that the Quakers' gender egalitarian principles operate in a rather limited sphere of activity—that of religious worship alone—and do not extend to the socio-political domain. Notwithstanding such criticisms, Fell's defence of women's preaching was undoubtedly influential in her time and may have inspired women writers beyond her religious circle. Foxton (1994) claims that Quaker women's writings more generally set an important precedent for women's publishing activities in the seventeenth century, on both religious and non-religious topics. -/- This entry covers Fell's life and works, and considers her ideas and arguments in the context of Quaker thought and practice, Quaker feminist thought, criticisms of Quaker defences of women, and Fell's place in the history of feminism. (shrink)
This paper provides a systematic reconstruction of Cavendish's general epistemology and a characterization of the fundamental role of that theory in her natural philosophy. After reviewing the outlines of her natural philosophy, I describe her treatment of 'exterior knowledge', i.e. of perception in general and of sense perception in particular. I then describe her treatment of 'interior knowledge', i.e. of self-knowledge and 'conception'. I conclude by drawing out some implications of this reconstruction for our developing understanding of Cavendish's natural philosophy.
According to Margaret Cavendish the entire natural world is essentially rational such that everything thinks in some way or another. In this paper, I examine why Cavendish would believe that the natural world is ubiquitously rational, arguing against the usual account, which holds that she does so in order to account for the orderly production of very complex phenomena (e.g. living beings) given the limits of the mechanical philosophy. Rather, I argue, she attributes ubiquitous rationality to the natural world (...) in order to ground a theory of the ubiquitous freedom of nature, which in turn accounts for both the world's orderly and disorderly behavior. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Margaret Cavendish’s account of freedom, and the role of education in freedom, is better able to account for the specifics of women’s lives than are Thomas Hobbes’ accounts of these topics. The differences between the two is grounded in their differing conceptions of the metaphysics of human nature, though the full richness of Cavendish’s approach to women, their minds and their freedom can be appreciated only if we take account of her plays, accepting (...) them as philosophical texts alongside her more standard philosophical treatises. (shrink)
This paper defends and develops the capacity view against insightful critiques from Matt McGrath, Adam Pautz, and Ram Neta. In response to Matt McGrath, I show why capacities are essential and cannot simply be replaced with representational content. I argue moreover, that the asymmetry between the employment of perceptual capacities in the good and the bad case is sufficient to account for the epistemic force of perceptual states yielded by the employment of such capacities. In response to Adam (...) Pautz, I show why a perceiver’s belief is better justified than the belief of someone who suffers a subjectively indistinguishable hallucination. I show, moreover, why the capacity view is compatible with standard Bayesian principles and how it accounts for degrees of justification. In response to Ram Neta, I discuss the relationship between evidence and rational confidence, as well as the notion of evidence in light of an externalism about perceptual content. (shrink)
Many scholars point to the close association between early modern science and the rise of rational arguments in favour of the existence of witches. For some commentators, it is a poor reflection on science that its methods so easily lent themselves to the unjust persecution of innocent men and women. In this paper, I examine a debate about witches between a woman philosopher, Margaret Cavendish , and a fellow of the Royal Society, Joseph Glanvill . I argue that Cavendish (...) is the voice of reason in this exchange—not because she supports the modern-day view that witches do not exist, but because she shows that Glanvill’s arguments about witches betray his own scientific principles. Cavendish’s responses to Glanvill suggest that, when applied consistently, the principles of early modern science could in fact promote a healthy scepticism toward the existence of witches.Keywords: Margaret Cavendish; Joseph Glanvill; Witches; Inference to the best explanation; Anti-dogmatism; Religion. (shrink)
Deborah Boyle's book is a splendid addition to the literature on the philosophy of Margaret Cavendish. It provides an overview of Cavendish's philosophical work, from her panpsychist materialism, through her views about human motivation and general political philosophy, to views about gender, health, and humans' relation to the rest of the natural world. Boyle emphasizes themes of order and regularity, but does not argue that there is a strong systematic connection between Cavendish's views. Indeed, she makes a point of (...) noting the different ways in which the themes of order and regularity work in different areas of Cavendish's philosophy.The early chapters consider Cavendish's natural philosophy.... (shrink)
what is motion, according to Margaret Cavendish? There has been a groundswell of exciting work on Cavendish’s natural philosophy lately, all of which highlights her materialism, as well as the centrality of motion in her system.1 But none of it directly addresses this question in detail. Cavendish claims that motion grounds all qualitative and quantitative variety in matter, but we will not understand her explanations of natural phenomena if we do not know what motion is.In this paper, I argue (...) that Cavendish reduces motion to mereological change. More precisely, she holds that for a body to move is just for it to separate from one whole and join with another whole. I call this account of motion... (shrink)
Collecting, comparing, and computing molecular sequences are among the most prevalent practices in contemporary biological research. They represent a specific way of producing knowledge. This paper explores the historical development of these practices, focusing on the work of Margaret O. Dayhoff, Richard V. Eck, and Robert S. Ledley, who produced the first computer-based collection of protein sequences, published in book format in 1965 as the Atlas of Protein Sequence and Structure. While these practices are generally associated with the rise (...) of molecular evolution in the 1960s, this paper shows that they grew out of research agendas from the previous decade, including the biochemical investigation of the relations between the structures and function of proteins and the theoretical attempt to decipher the genetic code. It also shows how computers became essential for the handling and analysis of sequence data. Finally, this paper reflects on the relationships between experimenting and collecting as two distinct “ways of knowing” that were essential for the transformation of the life sciences in the twentieth century. (shrink)
Scholarly interest in Margaret Cavendish's philosophical views has steadily increased over the past decade, but her epistemology has received little attention, and no consensus has emerged; Cavendish has been characterized as a skeptic, as a rationalist, as presenting an alternative epistemology to both rationalism and empiricism, and even as presenting no clear theory of knowledge at all. This paper concludes that Cavendish was only a modest skeptic, for she believed that humans can achieve knowledge through sensitive and rational perception (...) as well as through self-knowledge and can form probable opinions through reasoning. (shrink)
Margaret Cavendish (1623-73) held a number of surprising philosophical views. These included a materialist panpsychism, and some views in what we might call environmental ethics. Panpsychism, though certainly not unheard of, is still often a surprising view. Views in environmental ethics - even just views that involve a measure of environmental concern - are unusual to find in early modern European philosophy. Cavendish held both of these surprising views. One might suspect that panpsychism provides some reasons for environmental concern. (...) I argue, however, that Cavendish did not derive her environmental ethics from her panpsychism. If there is a connection, it is a developmental one, leading from the ethics to the panpsychism. The investigation of these issues also provides an occasion for thinking more generally about how Cavendish's views fit together, and whether she developed a systematic philosophy in the manner of several of her contemporaries. (shrink)
Margaret Atwood and David Suzuki are two of the most prominent Canadian public intellectuals involved in the global warming debate. They both argue that anthropogenic global warming is occurring, warn against its grave consequences, and urge governments and the public to take immediate, decisive, extensive, and profound measures to prevent it. They differ, however, in the reasons and evidence they provide in support of their position. While Suzuki stresses the scientific evidence in favour of the global warming theory and (...) the scientific consensus around it, Atwood is suspicious of the objectivity of science, and draws on an idiosyncratic neo-Malthusian theory of human development. Their implicit views about the cognitive authority of science may be identified with Critical Contextual Empiricism and Feminist Standpoint Epistemology, respectively, both of which face difficulties with providing solid grounds for the position they advocate. . (shrink)
As media reports have made widely known, in November 2009, the ethics committee of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, permitted the abortion of an eleven-week-old fetus in order to save the life of its mother. This woman was suffering from acute pulmonary hypertension, which her doctors judged would prove fatal for both her and her previable child. The ethics committee believed abortion to be permitted in this case under the so-called principle of double effect, but Thomas J. Olmsted, the (...) bishop of Phoenix, disagreed with the committee and pronounced its chair, Sister Margaret McBride, excommunicated latae sententiae, “by the very commission of the act.” In this article, I take the much discussed Phoenix case as an occasion to subject the principle of double effect to another round of philosophical scrutiny. In particular, I examine the third condition of the principle in its textbook formulation, namely, that the evil effect in question may not be the means to the good effect. My argument, in brief, is that the textbook formulation of the principle does not withstand philosophical scrutiny. Nevertheless, in the end, I do not claim that we should then “do away” with the principle altogether. Instead, we do well to understand it within the context of casuistry, the tradition of moral reasoning from which it issued. (shrink)
In close collaboration with the late Matthew Lipman, Ann Margaret Sharp pioneered the theory and practice of ‘the community of philosophical inquiry’ (CPI) as a way of practicing ‘Philosophy for Children’ and prepared thousands of philosophers and teachers throughout the world in this practice. In Community of Inquiry with Ann Margaret Sharp represents a long-awaited and much-needed anthology of Sharp’s insightful and influential scholarship, bringing her enduring legacy to new generations of academics, postgraduate students and researchers in the (...) fields of education, philosophy, philosophy of education, Philosophy for Children and philosophy of childhood. -/- Sharp developed a unique perspective on the interdependence of education, philosophy, personhood and community that remains influential in many parts of the world. This perspective was shaped not only by Sharp’s work in philosophy and education, but also by her avid studies in literature, feminism, aesthetic theory and ecumenical spirituality. Containing valuable contributions from senior figures in the fields in which Sharp produced her most focused scholarship, the chapters in this book present a critical overview of how Sharp’s ideas relate to education, philosophy of education, and the Philosophy for Children movement as a whole. -/- The historical and philosophical nature of this collection means that it will be a vital resource for philosophers and educators. It should also be of great interest to teacher educators and those involved in the study of pragmatism and feminism, as well as the history of education across the globe, particularly in the United States of America. (shrink)
Some scholars have argued that Margaret Cavendish was ambivalent about women's roles and capabilities, for she seems sometimes to hold that women are naturally inferior to men, but sometimes that this inferiority is due to inferior education. I argue that attention to Cavendish's natural philosophy can illuminate her views on gender. In section II I consider the implications of Cavendish's natural philosophy for her views on male and female nature, arguing that Cavendish thought that such natures were not fixed. (...) However, I argue that although Cavendish thought women needed to be better educated, and could change if they had such an education, she also thought their education should reinforce the feminine virtues. Section III examines Cavendish's notorious “Preface to the Reader” (from The Worlds Olio), where Cavendish claims that women are naturally inferior in strength and intelligence to men. Section IV addresses another notorious Cavendish text, “Female Orations,” arguing that its message is similar to that of the “Preface to the Reader.” Nonetheless, although Cavendish held conventional views about male and female nature and appropriate gender roles, she also recognized how social institutions could limit women's freedom; section V explores the complexities of Cavendish's critique of one such institution, patriarchal marriage. (shrink)
This paper considers Margaret Cavendish's distinctive anti-mechanist materialism, focusing on her 1664 Philosophical Letters, in which she discusses the views of Hobbes, Descartes, and More, among others. The paper examines Cavendish's views about natural, material souls: the soul of nature, the souls of finite individuals, and the relation between them. After briefly digressing to look at Cavendish's views about divine, supernatural souls, the paper then turns to the reasons for Cavendish's disagreement with mechanist accounts. There are disagreements over the (...) explanation of particular phenomena, but also a broader disagreement over what to take as one's most basic causal model. (shrink)
Margaret Archer has recently provided a persuasive account of the importance of the internal conversation to reflexivity. This raises questions about the shaping of such conversations by involuntary agential positioning. The work of Bourdieu and Bernstein is reviewed to suggest that structural influences can operate by condi-tioning the resources available for the conducting of the internal conversation. Particular emphasis is placed on the transfer of taken for granted ideas from one domain of practice to another.
This paper pursues a question about the spatial relations between the three types of matter posited in Margaret Cavendish’s metaphysics. It examines the doctrine of complete blending and a distinctive argument against atomism, looking for grounds on which Cavendish can reject the existence of spatial regions composed of only one or two types of matter. It establishes, through that examination, that Cavendish operates with a causal conception of parts of nature and a dynamic notion of division. While the possibility (...) of unmixed spatial regions is found to be consistent with both the doctrine of complete blending and Cavendish’s anti-atomism by themselves, it is finally ruled out by a consideration of her theory of place. In fact, the geometrical question of the spatial relations between types of matter that drives the paper is ultimately exposed as illicitly mathematical from the perspective of Cavendish’s metaphysics. (shrink)
Naturalized moral epistemology eschews practices of assuming to know a priori the nature of situations and experiences that require moral deliberation. Thus it promises to close a gap between formal ethical theories and circumstances where people need guidelines for action. Yet according experience so central a place in inquiry risks "naturalizing" it, treating it as incontestable, separating its moral and political dimensions. This essay discusses these issues with reference to Margaret Walker's Moral understandings.
Collecting, comparing, and computing molecular sequences are among the most prevalent practices in contemporary biological research. They represent a specific way of producing knowledge. This paper explores the historical development of these practices, focusing on the work of Margaret O. Dayhoff, Richard V. Eck, and Robert S. Ledley, who produced the first computer-based collection of protein sequences, published in book format in 1965 as the Atlas of Protein Sequence and Structure. While these practices are generally associated with the rise (...) of molecular evolution in the 1960s, this paper shows that they grew out of research agendas from the previous decade, including the biochemical investigation of the relations between the structures and function of proteins and the theoretical attempt to decipher the genetic code. It also shows how computers became essential for the handling and analysis of sequence data. Finally, this paper reflects on the relationships between experimenting and collecting as two distinct "ways of knowing" that were essential for the transformation of the life sciences in the twentieth century. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop a new interpretation of the order of nature, its function, and its implications in Margaret Cavendish’s philosophy. According to the infinite balance account, the order of nature consists in a balance among the infinite varieties of nature. That is, for Cavendish, nature contains an infinity of different types of matter: infinite species, shapes, and motions. The potential tumult implicated by such a variety, however, is tempered by the counterbalancing of the different kinds and motions (...) of matter against one another, or what Cavendish calls the “poising” of nature’s actions by their opposites. The infinite balance account of order offers insight into a central notion of Cavendish’s system and bears important implications for other interpretive issues. To wit, the account resolves the standing issue of whether there is genuine disorder in Cavendish’s universe and elucidates the nature of her opposition to atomism. Nevertheless, the interpretation faces an epistemic challenge, insofar as Cavendish appears to deny knowledge of infinity. I argue that, for Cavendish, our knowledge of the order of nature is conceptual and non-empirical, revealing limits to her apparent empiricism. (shrink)
The empress of Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World dismisses pure mathematicians as a waste of her time, and declares of the applied mathematicians that “there [is] neither Truth nor Justice in their Profession”. In Cavendish’s theoretical work, she defends the Empress’ judgments. In this paper, I discuss Cavendish’s arguments against pure and applied mathematics. In Sect. 3, I develop an interpretation of some relevant parts of Cavendish’s metaphysics and epistemology, focusing on her anti-abstractionism and what I call her ’assimilation’ (...) view of knowledge. In Sects. 4 and 5, I use this to develop Cavendish’s critiques of pure and applied mathematics, respectively. These critiques center on the claims that mathematics purports to describe non-beings, that nature is infinitely and irreducibly complex, and, perhaps most originally, that mathematical thinking deforms the subject of representation, not just the object. (shrink)
Ann Margaret Sharp, American philosopher of education, believed that friends could, in fact, be quite critical of one another. Writing in her essay, “What is a Community of Inquiry,” she states,... but children know that the group has taken on a great significance for them: each one’s happiness means as much to each of them as their own. They truly care for each other as persons, and this care enables them to converse in ways they never have before. They (...) can engage in inquiry without fear of rebuff or humiliation. They can try out ideas that they never would have thought of expressing before just to see what happens.I am grateful to the friends of Sharp who spent time in pursuit of understanding her work and its... (shrink)
This essay examines the connections between ignorance and abjection. Chanter relates Julia Kristeva's notion of abjection to the mechanisms of division found in feminist theory, race theory, film theory, and cultural theory. The neglect of the co-constitutive relationships among such categories as gender, race, and class produces abjection. If those categories are treated as separate parts of a person's identity that merely interlock or intermesh, they are rendered invisible and unknowable even in the very discourses about them. Race thus becomes (...) gender's unthought other, just as gender becomes the excluded other of race. Via an exploration of Margaret's Museum and Casablanca, the author shows why the various sexual, racial, and nationalist dynamics of the two films cannot be reduced to class or commodity fetishism, following Karl Marx, or psychoanalytic fetishism, following Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. Whether they are crystallized in Marxist or Lacanian terms, fetishistic currencies of exchange are haunted by an imaginary populated by unthought, abject figures. Ejected from the systems of exchange consecrated as symbolic, fragmented, dislocated, diseased body parts inform and constitute meaning. (shrink)