As this writer reads him, Emerson's thinking falls into three loose and broad categories. He held soul to be divine, that intuition or divine spark within every man, whereby every man is capable of infinite growth. He regarded Nature as the lengthened shadow of God cast upon human sense, a kind of incarnation of some Divine Power here on earth. And he believed Deity ever near to man, and every soul possessed of access to Deity, not continuously, but at least (...) in moments of exaltation. This triple structure--the primacy of the soul, the immediacy of Nature, and Divine Immanence--might be called the skeleton framework of his message. (shrink)
Ralph Waldo Emerson's thinking about art has never been at the forefront of either the philosophy of art or discussions of Emerson's own thought, in part perhaps because of doubts about the depth of his understanding of art. PercyBrown, for example, described Emerson's aesthetic sense as "deficient" and his aesthetic background as "somewhat limited," and claimed that Emerson "dwelt on abstract ideas rather than on the forms of art and its methods of expression."1But although Emerson was no (...) John Ruskin or Clement Greenberg, he was one of the great orators and prose stylists of his day and a poet who could write "strong, wholly memorable poems that say what has never been said before and that no poet has said better... (shrink)
In Better Never to Have Been, David Benatar argues that existence is always a harm. His argument, in brief, is that this follows from a theory of personal good which we ought to accept because it best explains several???asymmetries???. I shall argue here that Benatar's theory suffers from a defect which was already widely known to afflict similar theories, and that the main asymmetry he discusses is better explained in a way which allows that existence is often not a harm.
On the 24th June 2015, Feminist Legal Studies and the London School of Economics Law Department hosted an afternoon event with Professor Wendy Brown, Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science, University of California. Professor Brown kindly agreed to discuss her scholarship on feminist theory, and its relationship to both the law and neoliberalism. The event included an interview by Dr Katie Cruz and a Q&A session, which are presented here in an edited version of the transcript. (...) Sumi Madhock, Professor of Gender Studies, LSE chaired the interview and discussion and introduced Professor Brown’s work. Katie Cruz asked Wendy Brown to reflect upon topics that span her scholarship and activism, including the state of critical, feminist, and Left approaches to rights, neoliberalism, despair and utopianism, and the future of feminist theory and practice in the context of neoliberalism and current debates about intersectionality. Participants in the discussion asked questions on a wide range of issues, including the limits of feminist engagement with law as a tool for social change, the dominance of neoliberalism, imperialist feminism, Islamophobia, secularism, and our attachment to the figure of homo politicus. (shrink)
The “Adam Smith problem” has traditionally been concerned with the issue of authorial integrity: the issue of how a single author, Adam Smith, could have written two such apparently dissimilar, even contradictory, works as The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations. As the problem to be resolved was the single authorial origin of two such works, the perceived incompatibilities between them were explained in terms of Smith's intellectual biography – for example, Smith's travels to France, Smith's meetings (...) with the physiocrats, or the mental incapacities of an aging man. The current consensus is that the Adam Smith problem is a “pseudo problem” and that Smith's works represent a unified project, but the same reference to authorial origins now provides thr opposite claim that “the same man” wrote both books. Here the postulate of authorial integrity, “of stable integrated character, not subject to deep intellectual doubts or fissures” provides an assurance that such a man is unlikely to have written two entirely different books, an assurance underwritten by a coherent authorial intentionality that guarantees the consistency of the two works. (shrink)
In his Comment ‘Adam Smith on the Morality of the Pursuit of Fortune’, Richard Arlen Kleer accepts much of the argument in my article ‘Signifying Voices’ but insists that I have ‘gone too far’. Kleer agrees that there is a moral hierarchy in Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments where benevolence and self-command are ranked higher than justice and prudence, but he is uneasy with the conclusion that economic activity and the pursuit of gain are ‘amoral’ activities and insists that (...) they do have a significant moral standing. In addition, although Kleer accepts a good deal of the stylistic analysis, again he is uneasy with the results that are derived from it. This reply will take each of these aspects in turn. (shrink)
Questions of political identity and citizenship, raised by thecreation of the `new Europe', pose new questions that politicaltheorists need to consider. Reflection upon the circumstances ofthe new Europe could help them in their task of delineatingconceptual structures and investigating the character ofpolitical argument.Does it make sense to use concepts as `citizenship' and`identity' beyond the borders of the nation-state? What does itmean when we speak about `European Citizenship' and `EuropeanIdentity'?
If classical Western theism is correct that God's timeless omniscience is compatible with human free will, then it is incoherent to hold that this God can in any strict sense be immutable and a se as well as omniscient. That is my thesis. ‘Classical theism’ shall refer here to the tradition of philosophical theology centring on such mainstream authors as Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. ‘Divine omniscience’ shall mean that the eternal God knows all events as a timeless observer of them. (...) ‘Human free will’ shall mean that human beings are, at least sometimes, self-determining agents who make choices not decisively caused to be what they are by external or internal factors other than the free willing itself – choices that these agents have the capacity and the freedom to make differently than they do. Except where stipulated otherwise, ‘divine immutability’ shall ‘mean that God is neither subject to, nor capable of, change in being, knowing, or willing, since God is immune to external influences, and without internal needs, of the sorts that might give rise to such change. Finally, ‘aseity’ shall be used to underline the divine immunity to external influences, since a being that is wholly a se or self-caused , cannot be open to such influences, cannot be made to be what or how it is by anything other than itself. (shrink)
In "The Problem with Percy: Epistemology, Understanding and Critical Thinking," Sharon Bailin argues that critical thinking skills do not generalize because students do not understand the larger epistemological picture in which to situate the importance of arguments and reasons. More plausible explanations are: (I) instructors across the disciplines do not give assignments requiring critical thinking (CT) skills, (2) single courses in CT have little effect, (3) pragmatic arguments showing the effectiveness of CT are more effective than epistemological arguments with (...) the average student. So to achieve the generalization of the logical skills and intellectual dispositions inherent in CT courses, CT thinking cannot be departmentalized. (shrink)
Descartes is often accused of having fragmented the human being into two independent substances, mind and body, with no clear strategy for explaining the apparent unity of human experience. Deborah Brown argues that, contrary to this view, Descartes did in fact have a conception of a single, integrated human being, and that in his view this conception is crucial to the success of human beings as rational and moral agents and as practitioners of science. The passions are pivotal in (...) this, and in a rich and wide-ranging discussion she examines Descartes' place in the tradition of thought about the passions, the metaphysics of actions and passions, sensory representation, and Descartes' account of self-mastery and virtue. Her study is an important and original reading not only of Descartes' account of mind-body unity but also of his theory of mind. (shrink)
This paper explores ways in which experiential learning theories, in particular transformative learning theory, can inform farmer participatory research and extension. I identify and discuss three key elements of experiential learning theory – second-order experiences, reflection, and dialogue – that are particularly pertinent to PR&E practice. I then turn to one experiential learning theorist – Mezirow, and examine his theory of transformative learning to assess how it may inform the PR&E process. I outline the basic components and stages of transformative (...) learning and summarize the main criticisms of the theory. Following this, parallels are drawn between transformative learning and what actually takes place in PR&E, and examples are given of the ways in which scientists and rural people may undergo transformative learning through the PR&E process. Ways in which transformative learning can be encouraged within the PR&E context are discussed. I conclude that Mezirow’s work can provide PR&E practitioners and theorists with additional insights into how adults learn and especially how they – researchers, extensionists and rural people – can transform their ways of thinking to accommodate a shift from conventional research and extension to PR&E. (shrink)
Whether in characterizing Catharine MacKinnon's theory of gender as itself pornographic or in identifying liberalism as unable to make good on its promises, Wendy Brown pursues a central question: how does a sense of woundedness become the basis for a sense of identity? Brown argues that efforts to outlaw hate speech and pornography powerfully legitimize the state: such apparently well-intentioned attempts harm victims further by portraying them as so helpless as to be in continuing need of governmental protection. (...) "Whether one is dealing with the state, the Mafia, parents, pimps, police, or husbands," writes Brown, "the heavy price of institutionalized protection is always a measure of dependence and agreement to abide by the protector's rules." True democracy, she insists, requires sharing power, not regulation by it; freedom, not protection.Refusing any facile identification with one political position or another, Brown applies her argument to a panoply of topics, from the basis of litigiousness in political life to the appearance on the academic Left of themes of revenge and a thwarted will to power. These and other provocations in contemporary political thought and political life provide an occasion for rethinking the value of several of the last two centuries' most compelling theoretical critiques of modern political life, including the positions of Nietzsche, Marx, Weber, and Foucault. (shrink)
This memorable essay offers in lay language a profound criticism of the limitations of modern thought as based on Descartes, Darwin, and Freud. It highlights the decissive role of Peirce's approach to language and human activity in order to close the modern rift between matter and mind, between biology and grammar.
Physical Relativity explores the nature of the distinction at the heart of Einstein's 1905 formulation of his special theory of relativity: that between kinematics and dynamics. Einstein himself became increasingly uncomfortable with this distinction, and with the limitations of what he called the 'principle theory' approach inspired by the logic of thermodynamics. A handful of physicists and philosophers have over the last century likewise expressed doubts about Einstein's treatment of the relativistic behaviour of rigid bodies and clocks in motion in (...) the kinematical part of his great paper, and suggested that the dynamical understanding of length contraction and time dilation intimated by the immediate precursors of Einstein is more fundamental. Harvey Brown both examines and extends these arguments, after giving a careful analysis of key features of the pre-history of relativity theory. He argues furthermore that the geometrization of the theory by Minkowski in 1908 brought illumination, but not a causal explanation of relativistic effects. Finally, Brown tries to show that the dynamical interpretation of special relativity defended in the book is consistent with the role this theory must play as a limiting case of Einstein's 1915 theory of gravity: the general theory of relativity.Appearing in the centennial year of Einstein's celebrated paper on special relativity, Physical Relativity is an unusual, critical examination of the way Einstein formulated his theory. It also examines in detail certain specific historical and conceptual issues that have long given rise to debate in both special and general relativity theory, such as the conventionality of simultaneity, the principle of general covariance, and the consistency or otherwise of the special theory with quantum mechanics. Harvey Brown' s new interpretation of relativity theory will interest anyone working on these central topics in modern physics. (shrink)
'Is politics gendered? Wendy Brown things so, and argues for this point with elegance, imagination and pungent phrases. Brown's book is challenging, provocative and...original; it does force us to question the degree to which gender controls our politics.'-THE REVIEW OF POLITICS.
Newton's bucket, Einstein's elevator, Schrödinger's cat – these are some of the best-known examples of thought experiments in the natural sciences. But what function do these experiments perform? Are they really experiments at all? Can they help us gain a greater understanding of the natural world? How is it possible that we can learn new things just by thinking? In this revised and updated new edition of his classic text _The Laboratory of the Mind_, James Robert Brown continues to (...) defend apriorism in the physical world. This edition features two new chapters, one on “counter thought experiments” and another on the development of inertial motion. With plenty of illustrations and updated coverage of the debate between Platonic rationalism and classic empiricism, this is a lively and engaging contribution to the field of philosophy of science. (shrink)
The quantum theory of de Broglie and Bohm solves the measurement problem, but the hypothetical corpuscles play no role in the argument. The solution ﬁnds a more natural home in the Everett interpretation.