Although equal in power to other facets of the rich cultural ferment of modern Russia that have profoundly influenced Western civilization—such as painting, literature, drama, and politics—the authentic legacy of twentieth-century Russian philosophy has until recently been eclipsed by Soviet ideological dominance. Of the important philosophers drawing upon the characteristically Russian synthesis of Ancient Neoplatonism, German Idealism, and Byzantine spirituality, Sergei Bulgakov is outstanding, and his work has important implications for our contemporary thinking about the relationship between humanity (...) and nature in an age of environmental crisis. Overcoming the objectivist stance toward nature consolidated by Descartes and ensconced by Kant, Bulgakov anticipates not only many existential and phenomenological thinkers in the West—especially Heidegger—but also current ecological sensibilities, by showing the ontological status of humanity and nature as profoundly interconnected, especially through his understanding of nature as “household.” Beyond this, he elucidates a normative, “thoesophianic” character of nature corresponding to Plato’s “world soul,” the Renaissance natura naturans, and Heidegger’s “divinely beautiful nature” which is best revealed not by science and technology, but by the aesthetic and contemplative energies of a humanity whose essential interconnection with nature is shown most profoundly by means of this mode of revealing itself. (shrink)
My aim, in this chapter, is to outline the key details of this particularly interesting aspect of Hume's philosophical system. My presentation will be threefold. In the first section of the paper, I will elucidate the nature of sympathy, drawing upon some of the more recent ways in which Hume's commentators have attempted to resolve the interpretive puzzles Hume's works present. In the second section, I will explicate some of the functions sympathy has in Hume's philosophy, including not (...) only three that have been particularly prominent in the secondary literature, but also two others that have received considerably less attention. In the final section, I will summarize Hume's account of the nature and functions of sympathy and briefly suggest some of the ways in which these aspects of Hume's moral psychology seem to be supported by contemporary psychological research. (shrink)
What, if anything, distinguishes works of fiction such as Hamlet and Madame Bovary from biographies, news reports, or office bulletins? Is there a "right" way to interpret fiction? Should we link interpretation to the author's intention? Ought our moral unease with works that betray sadistic, sexist, or racist elements lower our judgments of their aesthetic worth? And what, when it comes down to it, is literature? The readings in this collection bring together some of the most important recent work (...) in the philosophy of literature by philosophers such as Martha Nussbaum, John Searle, and David Lewis. The readings explore philosophical issues such as the nature of fiction, the status of the author, the act of interpretation, the role of the emotions in the act of reading, the aesthetic and moral value of literary works, and other topics central to the philosophy of literature. (shrink)
One of the hardest questions to answer for a (Neo)platonist is to what extent and how the changing and unreliable world of sense perception can itself be an object of scientific knowledge. My dissertation is a study of the answer given to that question by the Neoplatonist Proclus (Athens, 411-485) in his Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus. I present a new explanation of Proclus’ concept of nature and show that philosophy of nature consists of several related subdisciplines matching (...) the ontological stratification of nature. Moreover, I demonstrate that for Proclus philosophy of nature is a science, albeit a hypothetical one, which takes geometry as its methodological paradigm. I also offer an explanation of Proclus’ view of what is later called the mathematization of physics, i.e. the role of the substance of mathematics, as opposed to its method, in explaining the natural world. Finally, I discuss Proclus’ views of the discourse of philosophy of nature and its iconic character. (shrink)
This is a much-needed reissue of the standard English translation of Hegel's Philosophy of Nature, originally published in 1970. The Philosophy of Nature is the second part of Hegel's Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, all of which is now available in English from OUP (Part I being his Logic, Part III being his Philosophy of Mind). Hegel's aim in this work is to interpret the varied phenomena of Nature from the standpoint of a dialectical (...) logic. Those who still think of Hegel as a merely a priori philosopher will here find abundant evidence that he was keenly interested in and very well informed about empirical science. The Philosophy of Nature is integral to his philosophical system and deserves the most serious attention. Students and scholars of Hegel and the history of European philosophy will welcome the availability of this important text, which also includes a translation of Hegel's Zusatze or lecture notes. (shrink)
This thesis is a study of the philosophical system of a little-studied, but important medieval thinker, John Scottus Eriugena , concentrating on his Periphyseon . ;I argue that Eriugena's system of nature must be approached through an investigation of his epistemology and general philosophy of mind. Instead of beginning with his fourfold classification of Nature, as most commentators have done, I begin with Eriugena's concept of the mind and its dialectical operations , and continue with an examination (...) of his anthropology , and his concept of self-knowledge , before turning to his relativist ontology of being and non-being . Chapter Seven examines Eriugena's fourfold division of Nature in the light of the earlier chapters. ;Against some recent commentators, I argue that Eriugena should not be interpreted solely from within the framework of the Latin-Augustinian metaphysical tradition of the early Middle Ages, that it was his sympathy for Greek Christian Neoplatonism which led him to develop an idealist philosophical outlook . Eriugena synthesises the Greek Eastern and the Latin Western traditions into a profound and original philosophical system. ;I show further that Eriugena "deconstructs" Latin metaphysical realism in favour of his own "me-ontology" or "meta-ontology," inspired by the Greeks. He produces the most detailed account of non-being between Plato's Parmenides and the phenomenologies of nothingness of Heidegger and Sartre. ;The summit of Eriugena's system is infinite Non-being, or infinite self-identical subjectivity. This philosophy bears strong similarities to post-Kantian critical philosophy, especially the Idealism of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. My interpretation thus agrees with the nineteenth-century Idealist reading of Eriugena. At the same time, it suggests the implications of Eriugena's idealism for the interpretation of certain modern philosophies. (shrink)
What is the moral, spiritual, and educative function of philosophy and literature in modern lives? Such a large question is rarely posed by philosophers or literary theorists these days, but one philosopher who has put it at the top of his agenda is Richard Rorty. His general answer is that both literature and philosophy serve distinct ends: the private end of personal fulfilment through the redescription of experiences and the possibility of self-creation, and the public end (...) of expanded horizons of moral imagination and spheres of solidarity. In what follows I will take a closer look at Rorty’s proposal. I begin by situating it as a contribution to philosophical discussions of the ‘problems of modernity’. Second, I draw attention to an important but sometimes neglected thought that underscores Rorty’s proposal: the alliance of philosophy and literature in making sense of modern lives. With this background in place, in the third section I consider the distinctive version of the private/public split that Rorty invokes, which can be regarded as his version of worldmaking in modernity. I argue that Rorty’s version of the distinction has more going for it than some critics have been prepared to grant, and that it at least provides a basis for further reflection on the important question it helps to answer. (shrink)
The approach of returning to the original and recovering nature is a typical characteristic of Chinese philosophy. It was founded by the Daoist School and followed by both Daoist and Confucian schools. The precondition of returning to the original and recovering nature is the stillness and goodness within nature integrated into a whole afterwards. Its implementation includes not only returning to the original root so as to achieve the philosophical aim but also restoration to the original (...)nature after it is injured by man’s physical nature and desire. The realization of human nature depends on the work making up for the loss of the original nature. Although there are different methods of realization concerning the return to the original nature, such as returning to the root, seeking the lost mind, extinguishing desire, being good at return, and the self-consciousness of intuitive knowledge, all of these aim at returning to the original nature of stillness and purity. The philosophical value consists in the unceasing pursuit of returning to the original nature. (shrink)
As a way of participating in the discussion on the disciplinary nature of philosophy of education, this article attempts to find another distinctive way of relating philosophy to education for the studies in philosophy of education. Recasting philosophical skepticism, which has been dismissed by Dewey and Rorty in their critiques of modern epistemology, it explores whether Cavell's romantic interpretation of it can allow us to conceive of skepticism as an exemplary practice of education, especially internal to (...) the learner. This opens up the possibility of viewing the disciplinary nature of philosophy of education as congenial to other humanities like literature or religious studies, rather than to social sciences as usually considered. (shrink)
In this course we will examine several philosophical puzzles concerning time. We all seem to experience time in a very fundamental and direct way. Yet once we begin to reflect on what time really is, it is easy to feel as puzzled as St Augustine was, who wrote: “If no one asks me, I know what [time] is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks me, I do not know.” The first set of issues we will discuss (...) concern the question whether time is ‘real.’ Time appears to consist of past, present and future. But do the past and the future exist in the same way as the present or is only the present real? Does time ‘flow’? In what ways is time different from space? What would it be to ‘spatialize’ time? Next we will ask whether certain views of time imply that there can be no freedom of the will. One might worry that if facts about the future (including facts about what I will do tomorrow) already existed in the same way as facts about the present exist, then I could not be free to choose what I will do. After all, how can I be free to decide to skip class tomorrow, if it is ‘already’ a fact today that I will attend class? What, if anything, is the connection between various views of time and ‘fatalism’? The third topic we will discuss is time travel. First we will ask whether time travel is a conceptual possibility. As we will see, there are certain conceptual puzzles associated with the possibility of time travel. For example, one might think that if time travel is possible, then I should be able to travel back in time and kill my father before the date of my conception. But this scenario seems to lead to a contradiction. Some have taken considerations such as these to argue that the very idea of time travel is incoherent. Is this right? If not, why not? Then we will look at what the theory of relativity says about the nature of time in general and about the physical possibility of time travel more specifically. Finally we will examine several issues concerning the asymmetry of time.. (shrink)
Examining both why and how Emerson evades the ancient quarrel between literature and philosophy, this book entirely rethinks the nature of Emerson's radical individualism and its relation to the possibility of an ethics and a politics. The author argues that the quarrel between literature and philosophy never took place in America, and that instead traditional philosophical work staged itself here as a form of literary praxis and cultural therapeutics, epitomized in the work of Emerson. A (...) revisionary study of some of Emerson's central essays, Less Legible Meanings also invites the reader to reconsider the nature of Emerson's influence on contemporary American culture and to discover new ways in which we might continue to understand his work. Interdisciplinary in scope, the book makes equal use of the history of philosophy, psychoanalytic theory, and cultural history. (shrink)
Is it possible to take the enterprise of physics seriously while also holding the belief that the world contains an order beyond the reach of that physics? Is it possible to simultaneously believe in objective laws of nature and in miracles? Is it possible to search for the truths of physics while also acknowledging the limitations of that search as it is carried out by limited human knowers? As a philosopher, as a Christian, and as a participant in the (...) physics of his day, Leibniz had an interesting view that bears on all of these questions. This paper examines the status of laws of nature in Leibniz's philosophy and how the status of these laws fits into his larger philosophical picture of the limits of human knowledge and the wise and omniscient God who created the actual world. (shrink)
The Nature of Selection is a straightforward, self-contained introduction to philosophical and biological problems in evolutionary theory. It presents a powerful analysis of the evolutionary concepts of natural selection, fitness, and adaptation and clarifies controversial issues concerning altruism, group selection, and the idea that organisms are survival machines built for the good of the genes that inhabit them. "Sober's is the answering philosophical voice, the voice of a first-rate philosopher and a knowledgeable student of contemporary evolutionary theory. His book (...) merits broad attention among both communities. It should also inspire others to continue the conversation."-Philip Kitcher, Nature "Elliott Sober has made extraordinarily important contributions to our understanding of biological problems in evolutionary biology and causality. The Nature of Selection is a major contribution to understanding epistemological problems in evolutionary theory. I predict that it will have a long lasting place in the literature."-Richard C. Lewontin. (shrink)
Both thinkings on Dao in Chinese philosophy and metaphysics in Western philosophy investigate things on a spiritual level that transcends experience, but there are incommensurable differences between them. The objective of “metaphysics” is ontological knowledge about nature from the perspective of epistemological “truth-pursuing”. Western metaphysics is thus a “metaphysics of nature”. Dao in Chinese philosophy, on the other hand, more often manifests itself in “good-pursuing” by means of the internal, experiential pursuit of moral stature and (...) spiritual security. Philosophy of Dao is thus a “metaphysics of ethics”. The cause of this difference can be traced back to the differences between the rational tradition of the West, characterized by the dualism of the subject and the object, and the moral tradition of China, characterized by the integration of man and nature. (shrink)
A philosophy of nature is an urgent need if we want to avoid falling back into the Gnostic view of the world and of man’s place in it that modern science can’t help fostering. The medieval idea of the world as the creation of stable natures by a rational and benevolent God should provide us with useful guidelines. In particular, Aquinas gives us valuable hints about how our scientific knowledge of nature might help us to get a (...) correct appreciation of our own worth. (shrink)
The first part of the paper is a metatheoretical consideration of such philosophy of nature which allows for using scientific results in philosophical analyses. An epistemological 'judgment' of those results becomes a preliminary task of this discipline: this involves taking a position in the controversy between realistic and antirealistic accounts of science. It is shown that a philosopher of nature has to be a realist, if his task to build true ontology of reality is to be achieved. (...) At the same time he cannot be a realist ˗ a possibility that science itself is capable of deciding what beings really exist (a typical realistic claim is that scientific notions refer to something external and truly describe its characteristics) has to be denied, if the philosophy of nature is seen as a discipline investigating the natural world, while being epistemologically different from the natural sciences. A possibility of weakening this opposition is explored in the second part of the paper, where the idea of so-called "postulated ontology" of scientific theories is brought to the consideration. This idea appears in the context of a well-known thesis of the underdetermination of scientific theories by empirical data. It is argued in the paper, that the conviction of the existence of some kind of relation between a given theory and ontological ideas can be derived from this thesis, regardless of its particular form. Therefore, certain solutions to classical philosophical questions can be obtained, in principle, by careful inspection of scientific achievements. However, if the thesis of underdetermination holds, such philosophical solutions are not imposed by science itself. In order to arrive at some kind of ontology based on science, it seems necessary to accept certain philosophical presuppositions in the first place. This and the fact that scientific theories change in time show that although such a kind of ontology is possible, and perhaps desirable, it can never be ultimate. (shrink)
German classicist's monumental study of the origins of European thought in Greek literature and philosophy. Brilliant, widely influential. Includes "Homer's View of Man," "The Olympian Gods," "The Rise of the Individual in the Early Greek Lyric," "Pindar's Hymn to Zeus," "Myth and Reality in Greek Tragedy," and "Aristophanes and Aesthetic Criticism.".
While individuals presented in central texts of the period are indeed often alone or separated from others, Yousef regards this isolation as a problem the texts attempt to illuminate, rather than a condition they construct as normative or ...
In Causation & Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy, Walter Ott offers us a fascinating account of the development of theories of causation and laws of nature in the early modern period. The central theme of the book traces the development of two approaches to causation in the period: the “top-down analysis” and the “bottom-up analysis.” According to the former approach, the laws of nature are not “fixed by the natures of the objects they govern.” (...) Rather, the content of the laws of nature depends solely on God and the contents of God’s will . The latter approach, on the other hand, holds that the “course of nature is fixed by the properties of created beings” . On this approach, a fire’s burning, for example, is a function of the powers of the fire and the wood, not the will of God. Ott treats Descartes and Malebranche as paradigm cases of the top-down approach, and Locke and Pierre-Sylvain Regis as examples of the bottom-up approach, with Boyle displaying hints of both approaches.Central to Ott’s treatment is situating the early modern debate in the context of the dominant Aristotelian Scholastic position on causation . Ott argues that the Scholastic position was, among other things, a bottom-up view that treated true. (shrink)
Aside from the Principia and occasional appearances of the Opticks , Newton' writings have remained largely inaccessible to students of philosophy, science, and literature as well as to other readers. This book provides a remedy with wide representation of the interests, problems, and diverse philosophic issues that preoccupied the greatest scientific mind of the seventeenth century. Grouped in sections corresponding to methods, principles, and theological considerations, these selections feature explanatory notes and cross-references to related essays.
The subject of the paper is the social function of the philosophy of nature. The author presents briefly his own position in this topic and gives an evaluation of the literature on the philosophy of nature in the recent decades. According to him, the opposition against the abuse of science for the purpose of social mystification stems mostly from (philosophizing) scientists themselves and sociologists of knowledge. Academic philosophers—regardless of the variety of their ontological orientations—are prone (...) rather to cultivate the metaphilosophical mythology (of positivistic origins). (shrink)
'...a remarkable book....Zuckert shows, subtly and persuasively, how the themes of American literature resonate with those of modern thought...Zuckert brings us to the point where philosophy and politics intersect. Few projects have such depth.'-AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW.
The book is about three things. First, how Ancient thinkers perceived humans as like or unlike other animals; second about the justification for taking a humane attitude towards natural things; and third about how moral claims count as true, and how they can be discovered or acquired. Was Aristotle was right to see continuity in the psychological functions of animal and human souls? The question cannot be settled without taking a moral stance. As we can either focus on continuity or (...) on discontinuities, how should natural science draw the boundaries? Moral agents act and react in a world that they see under a certain description, and there is no value free science that can settle what is the correct description. This book asks us to think about where moral justification could come from, and suggests that the supposed ‘moral status’ of the object cannot provide the answer. For the moral status of the object is a product of our own imagination, and once we see that, we also see that there remains the question where we ought to have the will to see it. Furthermore, since the perception of moral truth involves the development of imagination and will, the means to attain it will be better served by engagement with poetry and literature than with enquiries that seek to exclude the engagement of the imagination, or any appeal to the beauty of nature or the love of one's fellow creatures. (shrink)
In addition to his brilliant achievements in theoretical mathematics, Alfred North Whitehead exercised an extensive knowledge of philosophy and literature that informs and elevates all of his works. In this book, he offers undergraduate students and other readers an absorbing exploration of the fundamental problems of substance, space, and time. The Concept of Nature originated with Whitehead's Tarner Lectures of 1919, and its discussions are highlighted by a criticism of Einstein's method of interpreting results, and by the (...) author's alternative development of the celebrated theory of the four-dimensional space-time manifold. 1920 ed. (shrink)
Is it possible to take the enterprise of physics seriously while also holding the belief that the world contains an order beyond the reach of that physics? Is it possible to simultaneously believe in objective laws of nature and in miracles? Is it possible to search for the truths of physics while also acknowledging the limitations of that search as it is carried out by limited human knowers? As a philosopher, as a Christian, and as a participant in the (...) physics of his day, Leibniz had an interesting view that bears on all of these questions. This paper examines the status of laws of nature in Leibniz’s philosophy and how the status of these laws fits into his larger philosophical picture of the limits of human knowledge and the wise and omniscient God who created the actual world. (shrink)
Literature, like the visual arts, poses its own philosophical problems. While literary theorists have discussed the nature of literature intensively, analytic philosophers have usually dealt with literary problems either within the general framework of aesthetics or else in a way that is accessible only to a philosophical audience. The present book is unique in that it introduces the philosophy of literature from an analytic perspective accessible to both students of literature and students of (...) class='Hi'>philosophy. Specifically, the book addresses: the definition of literature, the distinction between oral and written literature and the identity of literary works the nature of fiction and our emotional involvement with fictional characters the concept of imagination and its role in the apprehension of literary works theories of metaphor and postmodernist theory on the significance of the authors' intentions to the interpretationof their work an examination of the relevance of thruth and morality to literary appreciation Lucid and well organised and free from jargon, hilosophy of Literature: An Introduction offers fresh approaches to traditional problems and raises new issues in the philosophy of literature. (shrink)
Although thick ethical concepts have been neglected in Murdochian scholarship, this article argues that they were central to the thought of Iris Murdoch. In the first section, the article provides a sustained account of thick ethical concepts in Murdoch's philosophy, demonstrating how these concepts align with and illuminate familiar aspects of her philosophical essays. The first section also explores the ways in which Murdoch's alternative account of moral concepts was at the heart of her overall attack on the noncognitivism (...) of her day. In the second section, the article provides a reading of The Black Prince and considers the ways that thick ethical concepts offer new insight into Murdoch's literary activity. It concludes by suggesting that studying Murdoch's philosophy and literature in light of thick ethical concepts reveals a deep unity between her two intellectual projects. (shrink)
Philosophers have long suspected that in good literature, there is something of value to be found for doing philosophy. Plato, for example, delights in quoting the poets, despite his reservations about their social influence. As we have, more recently, sought to energize our teaching methods by supplementing lecture and discussion with novels and short stories, as well as film, music, and poetry, we may struggle with lingering suspicions about this expenditure of valuable class time or worries about whether (...) we are making the best use of these supplemental resources. More than tokening assent to the value of literature for philosophy, what is overdue is a careful discussion of exactly what it is that literature brings to philosophical inquiry, along with, perhaps, a demonstration of how literature can be most effectively utilized. This is just what is provided by Anthony Cunningham in The Heart of What Matters. (shrink)
This paper analyses the model of interaction at the heart of Axel Honneth's social philosophy. It argues that interaction in his mature ethics of recognition has been reduced to intercourse between human persons and that the role of nature is now missing from it. The ethics of recognition takes into account neither the material dimensions of individual and social action, nor the normative meaning of non-human persons and natural environments. The loss of nature in the mature ethics (...) of recognition is made visible through a comparison with Honneth's initial formulation of his project. As an anthropology of intersubjectivity combining the teaching of the German philosophical anthropologists and G.H. Mead, his first model sought to ground social theory in the natural preconditions of human action. The last part of the article argues that a return to Mead's theory of practical intersubjectivity informed by Merleau-Ponty's germane theory of intercorporeity provides essential conceptual tools to enable the integration of the natural and the material within the theory of recognition. (shrink)
Hegel’s philosophy of history is fundamentally concerned with how shapes of life collapse and transition into new shapes of life. One of the distinguishing features of Hegel’s concern with how a shape of life falls apart and becomes inadequate is the role that habit plays in the transition. A shape of life is an embodied form of existence for Hegel. The animating concepts of a shape of life are affectively inscribed on subjects through complex cultural processes. This paper examines (...) the argument Hegel puts forward in his Lectures on the Philosophy of World History for why civilizations come to atrophy and examines the decisive role habit plays in this process. The paper concludes with a discussion of the way in which the central role of second nature in historical transitions and norm formation conflicts with Brandom’s account of norm formation in Hegel’s thought. (shrink)