The studies of the Czech phenomenologist Jan Patočka has been flourishing recently. Martin Ritter’s book Into the World: The Movement of Patočka’s Phenomenology offers an important contribution to the debate and a long-awaited critical presentation of Patočka’s asubjective phenomenology as well as creative re-reading of Patočka's central doctrine of the movements of existence.
The following interview is with a retired eastern German professor whose career constitutes a case history in the comparative politics of “academic unfreedom”. Professor Erhard Naake was the only Ph.D. student in the history of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) to write his dissertation on Friedrich Nietzsche, whose work was considered “anti-socialist” throughout the history of the GDR regime. Because Herr Naake had the temerity to select Nietzsche as his thesis topic – a philosopher whose work was banned from GDR (...) bookstores and never taught in GDR schools or even universities – he never received an appointment as a professor in a GDR university. Ironically, however, even after the collapse of the GDR in 1989–1990, Herr Naake was penalized by the new powers-that-be in reunited Germany. He once again suffered a violation of his academic freedom when the university evaluation boards, which were composed of western German scholars, refused to let him keep his recently acquired position as a professor and instead summarily fired him, thus leading to his enforced retirement. As we shall see, the dramatic life story of Herr Naake reflects not only complicated issues of academic freedom and communist versus capitalist political values, but also the rich and complex history of eastern Germany both under the Nazis and GDR Communists and within reunited Germany since 1990. (shrink)
The following interview took place in the Kreuzberg section of western Berlin in August 2003. Bernd Lippmann is a secondary school teacher of physics and mathematics in western Berlin. Lippmann, 51, was arrested near the end of his GDR university studies in 1974 and sentenced to three years imprisonment. His crime? He had distributed “forbidden literature”—for example, Orwell’s Animal Farm, which was treated in the GDR as an incendiary work—and was caught by the vile “pigs” . Herr Lippman’s tragic tale (...) shows that, though it is hard for many Westerners today to think of laws that officially forbid works of fiction as a violation of human rights, banned novels have been more than just high school proscriptions in some nations. Indeed, Lippman’s story demonstrates that some citizens in dictatorships have paid for their passion to read with several years of their lives. (shrink)
Listening to someone from some distance in a crowded room you may experience the following phenomenon: when looking at them speak, you may both hear and see where the source of the sounds is; but when your eyes are turned elsewhere, you may no longer be able to detect exactly where the voice must be coming from. With your eyes again fixed on the speaker, and the movement of her lips a clear sense of the source of the sound will (...) return. This ‘ventriloquist’ effect reflects the ways in which visual cognition can dominate auditory perception. And this phenomenological observation is one what you can verify or disconfirm in your own case just by the slightest reflection on what it is like for you to listen to someone with or without visual contact with them. (shrink)
There is no adequate understanding of contemporary Jewish and Christian theology without reference to Martin Buber. Buber wrote numerous books during his lifetime (1878-1965) and is best known for I and Thouand Good and Evil. Buber has influenced important Protestant theologians like Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Paul Tillich, and Reinhold Niebuhr. His appeal is vast--not only is he renowned for his translations of the Hebrew Bible but also for his interpretation of Hasidism, his role in Zionism, and his writings (...) in psychotherapy and political philosophy. In addition to a general introduction, each chapter is individually introduced, illuminating the historical and philosophical context of the readings. Footnotes explain difficult concepts, providing the reader with necessary references, plus a selective bibliography and subject index. (shrink)
Abstract The work of Martin Buber oscillates between talk in which transcendence is experienced and talk in which transcendence is merely postulated. In order to show and mend this incoherence in Buber's thought, this essay attends to the rhetoric of verification ( Bewährung ), primarily but not solely in I and Thou (1923), both in order to show how it is a symptom of this incoherence, and also to show a broad pragmatic strain in Buber's thought. Given this pragmatic (...) strain, the essay argues that a weak notion of Buberian verification, in which taking a dialogic stance with reference to others evinces the right to talk of the real possibility of transcendence (a You-world, or God as the “eternal You“), is all that is necessary to combat despair. Strong notions of encounter are unnecessary, and also sink Buber in a morass of theodicy, in which he interprets historical misfortune and destruction as evidence of history's meaning. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to set out some of the ontologies amongst which some forms of anti-realism must select. This provides the appropriate setting for presenting an alternative realist ontology. The argument is that the choice between the varieties of anti-realism and realism is inevitably a choice between ontologies.
What are the most fundamental features of the world? Do minds stand outside the natural order? Is a unified picture of mental and physical reality possible? The Mind in Nature provides a staunchly realist account of the world as a unified system incorporating both the mental and the physical.
Francesco Guala has developed some novel and radical ideas on the problem of external validity, a topic that has not received much attention in the experimental economics literature. In this paper I argue that his views on external validity are not justified and the conclusions which he draws from these views, if widely adopted, could substantially undermine the experimental economics enterprise. In rejecting the justification of these views, the paper reaffirms the importance of experiments in economics.
This first volume in the four-volume series The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law focuses on the "harm principle," the commonsense view that prevention of harm to persons other than the perpetrator is a legitimate purpose of criminal legislation. Feinberg presents a detailed analysis of the concept and definition of harm and applies it to a host of practical and theoretical issues, showing how the harm principle must be interpreted if it is to be a plausible guide to the lawmaker.
‘Marital faithfulness’ refers to faithful love for a spouse or lover to whom one is committed, rather than the narrower idea of sexual fidelity. The distinction is clearly marked in traditional wedding vows. A commitment to love faithfully is central: ‘to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part… and thereto I plight [pledge] thee my troth [faithfulness]’. (...) Sexual fidelity is promised in a subordinate clause, symbolizing its supportive role in promoting love's constancy: ‘and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her/him.’. (shrink)
It might surprise someone, who knew only On Liberty, to hear J. S. Mill called the father of British socialism. That would sound a careless bid for a respectable pedigree, on a par with hailing King Canute as father of the British seaside holiday. Mill is passionate there about making the individual a protected species, not to be interfered with even for his own good, unless to prevent harm to others. He is so passionate that government seems at times to (...) have no other task than to protect. The Principles of Political Economy, on the other hand, displays clear, if intermittent, socialist leanings. There too ‘there is a circle round every individual human being, which no government… ought to be permitted to overstep’. But, subject to this constraint, government is urged to do all the utilitarian good it can and some nasty worries for democratic socialists surface instructively. They centre on the social aspects of individuality and give rise to problems in what my title calls the Social Liberty Game. British socialism, with its Lib-Lab origins and tolerant respect for individual liberty, embodies a tension between the rights of each and the good of all, which makes the Principles a living part of its intellectual history. (shrink)
The scholastic mode of intellectual enquiry has been looked down upon in Western philosophical circles over the last few centuries, not least because of the central role of authorities shaping the reasoning that takes place and because of the fine distinctions and disputational mode of discourse it employs. The scholastic approach is, however, a prime example of philosophy as therapeia, of intellectual inquiry and reflection concerned with the healing transformation of human life, with what kind of knowledge and behaviour brings (...) about human happiness. The scholastic approach is motivated and determined by consideration of what the final human goal might be and what are the means to achieve it. Authorities are important because they tell us about the goal and means. Distinctions and disputation are important because they help us learn in a way that transforms our minds and actions. (shrink)
As the American political controversies of the 1850s were as much about the category of the political as about slavery, property, or territorial expansion, so did Emerson's focus shift from a philosophical exploration of politics to a lived experience of conflict and a new poetics of political writing. The essay “Politics,” published in 1844, explored an idealist vision emerging from Transcendentalism, but the engagement with British power and cultural authority that took place during his long visit in 1847 and 1848 (...) opened up an existential challenge to the premises of that essay. Although critical of intellectual rigidity and closed minds, Emerson finds himself drawn to the inner assurance of British society. The marginal status of English Traits, Emerson's account of his travels, is reflected in the relative paucity of critical discussion of the book. English Traits represents, however, not only the confrontation with British pragmatism but a new perspective on the relationship between ideas and power. As the orientation of this text is away from Transcendentalist hermeneutics and toward irony, one way of reintegrating English Traits into American intellectual history is to alter its status as a detour in Emerson's writing career, lacking in real significance, and instead to read it as one of the symptomatic literary productions of the 1850s. (shrink)
‘There is a kind of eloquence’, maintained St Augustine, which is manifestly inspired by God. Biblical writers have spoken with this kind of eloquence. … ‘On the other hand’ they have uttered some passages with a beneficial and salutary obscurity, to exercise and, in a sense, to polish the minds of their readers, to break down aversions and spur on the zeal of those who are anxious to learn, as well as to conceal the meaning from the minds of the (...) impious. (shrink)
Many classic philosophical debates converge on the twin questions ‘What is man?’ and ‘What is his place in nature?’, in the sense that taking up a position in those debates normally commits one to a certain range of answers to these questions. Such answers typically lie near the centre of one's web of belief, deeply entrenched in the structure of one's concepts, and thus remain remarkably resistant to the standard techniques of confirmation and refutation.
When I studied the Scriptures then I did not feel as I am writing about them now. They seemed to me unworthy of comparison with the grand style of Cicero. As for the absurdities which used to offend me in Scripture, … I now looked for their meanings in the depth of mystery.
This English translation of Vom Wesen der Sprache, volume 85 of Martin Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe, contains fascinating discussions of language that are important both for those interested in Heidegger's thought and for those who wish to ...
Metaphysical rationalism, the doctrine which affirms the Principle of Sufficient Reason (the PSR), is out of favor today. The best argument against it is that it appears to lead to necessitarianism, the claim that all truths are necessarily true. Whatever the intuitive appeal of the PSR, the intuitive appeal of the claim that things could have been otherwise is greater. This problem did not go unnoticed by the great metaphysical rationalists Spinoza and Leibniz. Spinoza’s response was to embrace necessitarianism. Leibniz’s (...) response was to argue that, despite appearances, rationalism does not lead to necessitarianism. This paper examines the debate between these two rationalists and concludes that Leibniz has persuasive grounds for his opinion. This has significant implications both for the plausibility of the PSR and for our understanding of modality. (shrink)