This book offers even more than its title promises. Embarrassed with my translation of échec, I emphasize that its authors not only reflect on "Man and Failure," but design a vast anthropological fresco by approaching their topic from psychological, economical, medical, religious and philosophical points of view. Jean Lacroix published a book on Failure some years ago; in 1968 he asked thirteen outstanding French writing personalities for contributions to an interdisciplinary study on the same issue. The result is a remarkable (...) collection of insights into this basic experience in human life. Joseph Nuttin, professor in experimental psychology, presents his most recent researches on the transformation of a person's needs and energies into a "project" of life. Failure, the unsuccess of such a project, gives cognitive information useful for subsequent conduct. Raymond Carpentier sees failure in the area of communication: it reveals the ambiguity of any information. On the level of consciousness, he writes, reality only exists in so far as its own failure is contained in its very structure. "Ambiguous like life itself, communication is what has reality only when it does not succeed in its materializations." François Perroux, economist, both calmly and alarmingly sketches the perhaps imminent failure of our economic system. Three other articles deal with ethnological and medical problems. The philosopher and psychoanalyst Mrs. Eliane Amado Lévy-Valenski, author of L'humanisme psychanalytique, le mythe grec et la phénoménologie biblique, pursues her threefold investigation: "Psychoanalysis, Phenomenology or Ontology of Failure?" To fail in one's efforts is both a trial and a temptation, but it also points toward the emergence of infinity within finitude. The three religious contributions give the most personal penetration of the subject. They are the center of the book. The last section deals with three philosophies: the failing thought of Being, the critique of humanism, the restoration of motivations in action. The first of them is due to Rouven Gilead, professor at the University of Tel-Aviv and author of one of the best books on Heidegger. His paper suggests what radical Failure would mean: not of man, nor of given historical situations, nor even of metaphysics, although these three approaches are true. But the "truth of Being" in modern subjectivity, in sciences and in philosophy remains hidden. Our horizon of thought is the nihilism of Being. The fundamental Failure, then, is the history of Being itself.--R. S. (shrink)
Professor Plant has presented a briefer treatment of Hegel’s philosophical development than did H. S. Harris in Towards the Sunlight, and a considerably more historical, epistemological and metaphysical treatment than is presented in Pelcynski’s Hegel; Political Philosophy and not so exhaustive an account of the political and social philosophy as appears in Avineri’s Hegel’s Philosophy of the Modern State. These four books taken together testify to the importance of Hegel on the contemporary philosophic scene. Plant’s volume is perhaps the best (...) in that it pulls together the various philosophical, political, and social strains in brief compass, for he demonstrates quite convincingly, as did Avineri and Harris, that the political and metaphysical writings of Hegel are closely interconnected and that the interpretation of art and religion flow from his considered interpretation of his contemporary cultural situation. Plant, with Marx, Engels, Kierkegaard, Baur, Feuerbach et al. and against Findlay and Bergman, argues that there is a Christian theological residue in Hegel’s system, but surprisingly, the fruit of the system is clarification not mystification. Only with that residue is the system and totality really explicable. An altogether welcome book.—R.L.P. (shrink)
The volume contains new translations of the introduction and preface to the second edition of The Essence of Christianity and Principles of the Philosophy of the Future. This comprises about one-half of the book. The remainder is Hanfi’s fifty-page introduction and translations of "Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy," "The Beginning of Philosophy," "The Necessity of a Reform of Philosophy," "Preliminary Theses on the Reform of Philosophy," and "Fragments Concerning the Characteristics of My Philosophical Development." The translations are quite readable. (...) Hanfi’s introduction refers to the relation of Feuerbach to Marx in the first and third sections while the second is given over to a survey of Feuerbach’s development and thought. Another aspect, and one of the most suggestive, is at the end of the first section where Hanfi attempts to show how Feuerbach’s anthropology relates to Heidegger’s Daseinsanalytik. One of the most interesting sections of Feuerbach’s text is "On the beginning of Philosophy," for Kierkegaard, in the context of fathering another philosophy of a very different kind, came upon some of the same criticisms of Hegel’s philosophy. This translation, along with those of Essence of Christianity, and the more recent The Essence of Religion, The Essence of Faith According to Luther, and the book by Kamenka, The Philosophy of Ludwig Feuerbach, bespeak a renewed interest in the essential Feuerbach.—R.L.P. (shrink)
Pitcher has taken upon himself the task of refining and defending the thesis that sense perception is the acquiring of true beliefs concerning particular facts about one's environment, by means of the senses. The book is divided into four parts, the first part being a critical treatment of the sense-data theories via an examination of several of the major arguments traditionally forwarded in defense of the view. The theory advocated by the author is presented in the second part, where the (...) view is first stated in unpolished form and gradually refined and qualified as problems and objections are dealt with. Any philosophical theory of perception, the author maintains, is related to the empirical sciences in that its task is to render intelligible the facts about perception, as uncovered by the relevant sciences. Thus, in the third part of the book, some recent experiments in the psychology of perception are discussed in relation to the theory of perception held by the author. In the final part of the book, Pitcher discusses color perception, since the perception of colors seems, at first glance, to present a problem for his theory. If a dispositional analysis is given for perceptual belief, what behavior is peculiar to the perception of a color? An interesting discussion of the primary-secondary quality contrast follows Pitcher's solution to this problem. Though the author does not claim originality for the theory of perception he offers, there is still much to be said for his treatment of the materials presented.--R. L. M. (shrink)
Von Wright describes his position as "teleological" yet distinguishes it from Aristotle's "notion of the good of man relative to a notion of the nature of man," by likening it to that of the utilitarian tradition. There is painstaking attention to the staggering diversity of functions of "good" and related words, and an examination of instrumental, technical, medical, hedonic and utilitarian goodness. Von Wright regards the moral sense of "good" as derivative and defines it in terms of the beneficial, a (...) sub-class of Utilitarian Goodness. Chapters on Virtue, "Good" and "Must," Duty, Justice are included. There are rather few references to other works, very many distinctions, and an Index which includes, among others, the word "all right."--R. L. M. (shrink)
Professor Crites comes to his task with deep personal sympathy for and philosophic commitment to each of the protagonists in his volume. The subject of Crites’ work is not the tension of faith and history with which we are familiar in the works of Strauss, Baur, Feuerbach, Renan, and M. Arnold, but rather the tension of Christianity and culture. Crites chooses for his departure the notion and analogy of "domesticity," the accommodation, or lack thereof, of the gospel and the world. (...) With a fairness that is singularly unique among Hegelian critics of Kierkegaard, Crites argues that the issue between Kierkegaard and Hegel was the problem of the positivity of the Christian religion. For Hegel, the development of the notion of Christianity as the absolute religion solved the problem raised by the problem of positivity and Lessing’s essay "On the Proof of the Power and the Spirit." For Kierkegaard such a solution was a sellout, for it eliminated faith. Crites argues well the logic of both Kierkegaard’s and Hegel’s positions. Though the author has a few judicious things to say about Kierkegaard’s epistemology, his treatment would have profited by a more extended analysis of the epistemology of both Hegel and Kierkegaard, and by some indications regarding the importance and use of the modal categories in his author’s appraisal of both faith and history—R. L. P. (shrink)
This survey of the history of Protestant thought in the nineteenth century is founded upon two major methodological principles. The first is the hard-nosed avoidance of the national history approach. In spite of the continuity in certain nations of specific theological traditions there is another sense in which the varying efforts of Protest theology struggled to answer the same questions. Welch chose to ignore, as far as possible, national boundaries and concentrate on what can usefully be called the "Victorian era" (...) historically or in theological parlance the period "between Schleiermacher and Ritschl." By ignoring national boundaries and linguistic divisions Welch is able to discuss Feuerbach, Emerson, Comte, Mill, Carlyle, and the Arnolds in one chapter. This brings us to the second methodological point: Welch has included a number of figures in his survey who are not academic theologians but rather literary men or philosophers, as Coleridge, Emerson, Hegel, the Arnolds, Comte, Mill, Carlyle, etc. What might be a surprise here is the inclusion of the literary types. This work, when complete will compare favorably on the period covered with E. Hirsch’s Geschichte der Neuern [[sic]] Evangelischen Theologie, in Zusammenhang mit der Algemeinen [[sic]] Bewegnungen [[sic]] des Europaischen [[sic]] Denkens. The present book can be supplemented by the author’s God and Incarnation in Midnineteenth [[sic]] Century German Theology in "A Library of Protestant Thought" which contains vital readings of Thomasius, Dorner, and Biedermann. Three points, briefly, in criticism. The treatment of Hegel’s notion of spirit in relation to religion is not quite right. Also, the treatment of Kierkegaard as a right-wing Hegelian is quite surprising after Löwith’s placing of him in the left-wing group in From Hegel to Nietzsche, pp. 110-115. Then too, one questions whether Kierkegaard should be dubbed a "theological conservative".—R. L. P. (shrink)
As the title indicates, this most recent of Hartshorne's works blends doctrinal exposition with analyses of methodological issues. Each of the sixteen chapters can be read as an independent essay, although the entire work is intended as "an essay in systematic metaphysics." The paradox is resolved once we realize that Hartshorne does not separate substantive discussion and the examination of methodological principles--the text exemplifies the principles latent in "creative synthesis" as he understands it. Each chapter takes shape out of a (...) position-matrix in terms of which a number of possible positions on problems of relations, modality, and temporality are exhibited and finally sifted in order to determine the most viable for future philosophic inquiry. Portions of six of the chapters had previously been published, one as early as 1958; the remaining ten appear for the first time in this volume. Although much of the doctrinal content will be familiar to those who have read Hartshorne's earlier works, the clarity and coherence of these essays make it an especially valuable work for students of metaphysics, whether they accept the neoclassical position or not. In the first chapter, "A Philosophy of Shared Creative Experience," Hartshorne presents his case for the inclusive priority of "becoming" over "being"; in the next three chapters, he turns to a more detailed analysis of technical problems in metaphysics--the specification of the domain of metaphysical inquiry, the viability of the notion of inclusive contrast as the heart of "relativity", and the ultimate coincidence of modal and temporal categories as the summit of the analyses of "abstractions". Each of these chapters is an excellent example of Hartshorne's working through "position-matrices"; but for those who are unfamiliar with Hartshorne's work, or for those who desire a less 'naïve' approach to metaphysical inquiry it might be advisable to turn to Chapters V and VI immediately after Chapter I. In these two essays, Hartshorne presents a general exposition of the structure of his system, exposing and defending the conception of relativity which lies at the heart of his system: the triadicity [[sic]] of creative synthesis must be construed relatively, the contrast of relative and absolute being included within the relative member of the contrast. In the succeeding chapters, the difficulties which such a conception must face are explored in detail. Among the difficulties which Hartshorne focuses upon are the possibility of "non-restrictive or necessary existential truths", the psychological reeducation which a conception of the priority of events necessitates, the explanatory power of directed or asymmetrical relations as opposed to non-directed, symmetrical ones, and the critique of the notion of ens realissimum and its substitution by the universal forms of dependence and independence. It is interesting that at various places in this work Hartshorne indicates that the importance of the problem of the relations among contemporaries must be relegated to secondary status in the philosophy of shared creative experience. It becomes increasingly evident that were the author to stress its importance, he should have to turn to a conception of eternal objects functioning relationally or affirm interaction between God and any other individual in strictly simultaneous states. Either move would necessitate a major shift in his methodological principles and substantive doctrines. That he has struggled with the problem of the relations among contemporaries for so long shows his willingness to confront the possibility of such a shift. This is one of the major criteria for evaluating metaphysicians, as Hartshorne notes; in the light of this criterion, Hartshorne's newest work will be judged a significant contribution to metaphysical inquiry.--R. L. C. (shrink)
This detailed monograph deals with such problems as "The Unity of the Finite and Infinite," "Logic and the Concept of Function," "Mathematical Logic," "Formal and Dialectical Logic." The author mentions the work of Reichenbach and Lukasiewicz.--R. L. J.
This text, serving as an introduction to Aristotelian, symbolic, inductive, and practical logic, presents the techniques of these approaches to logic, some of the philosophical problems of logic, and some of the attempts to solve philosophical problems by means of various logical techniques. It discusses the problem of universals and null classes; briefly introduces the theory of types; and presents Lukasiewicz's formalization of Aristotelian syllogistic logic as an example of a formal system. Classical logic and propositional logic are carefully and (...) fully presented. The text, however, is weak in its presentation of quantificational logic. After a correct, but brief and very inadequate introduction to quantificational logic, the readers are referred to Quine, Methods of Logic, or to Copi, Symbolic Logic, for a more adequate development. The chapter on inductive logic discusses the uses and dangers of generalizations and introduces the probability calculus; the chapter on informal logic discusses criteria of rationality and presents the usual informal fallacies. There are problems and exercises after many of the sections, and answers in the back of the book.—R. L. S. (shrink)
A systematic account of explanation and meaning, on an introductory level. The book is designed not only for students who are primarily interested in philosophy, but also for students whose primary interests may lie in the physical or social sciences, literature, or history. There are fifteen relatively brief chapters, the first eight of which are concerned with the concept of explanation while the remaining seven chapters deal with the concept of meaning. The author begins his treatment of explanation by dismissing (...) as fruitless disputes over what a 'real' explanation must be. Instead, he proposes to examine different types of explanation in order to determine their differences and the relative importance of their differences. "Scientific Explanation," "What-explanations," and "Reason-giving Explanation" are then distinguished and discussed in the early chapters, and this is followed with chapters on historical explanation and explanation in literary criticism. In the remaining chapters on meaning, the author maintains the view that meanings are not a sort of thing, mental or physical. He supports this thesis through his criticisms of causal theories of meaning, "Fido"-Fido theories of meaning, and theories which attempt to identify the meaning of a word with a mental event or an essential definition. The author favors identifying the meaning of a work with its use and deals with some of the problems connected with this view. A list of additional references for each chapter is provided at the end of the book. Though the book is primarily a systematic account of explanation and meaning, a variety of issues from different areas of contemporary philosophical concern are touched upon along the way. These issues concern, for example, natural laws, explaining human behavior, the nature of historical explanation, interpretation in literature, definition, synonymy, and metaphor. This is a clearly written introduction to contemporary philosophy.--R. L. M. (shrink)
The expository material in this book is ninety-nine pages long and covers very sketchily the philosophy of language, classical logic, symbolic logic, informal fallacies, the philosophy of science, and probability theory. To supplement the text material, the authors have included 142 pages of exercises, which may be removed from the book by tearing along the perforations. The authors have deliberately written a brief text so that the instructor "will be left free to elaborate according to his own judgment as his (...) classroom situation warrants." Eight pages are devoted to quantificational logic. The high price of this paperback text does not seem to be warranted by either the brief expository material, the removable pages of exercises, or the uniqueness of this approach.—R. L. S. (shrink)
The author sets out to show the "unique features of the idealistic dialectical method with its positive and negative elements, in order to show the various, often contradictory tendencies which are contained in them." Designed for "students, teachers and a broad circle of intellectuals." --R. L. J.
This volume contains fourteen essays, all of which were written by Ebersole over a period of seven years, on various epistemological problems. A few of the essays have appeared before as journal articles, but the bulk of the essays are here printed for the first time. The essays deal with three principle topics: sense-datum theories of perception, memory and the past, and the possibility of knowledge of existence without experience. In style and approach, the essays can be characterized as belonging (...) to the school of analytic philosophy, dealing with philosophical problems with an emphasis on the use and function of relevant linguistic expressions. Although some of the essays are interesting, readers of Wittgenstein will find the material all too familiar.--R. L. M. (shrink)
R. M. Hare has argued 1 that there are conceivable circumstances in which it would be right not to abolish the institution of slavery: in the imaginary land of Juba established slave-plantations are managed by a benevolent elite for the good of all, no ‘cruel or unusual ’ punishments are in use, and citizens of the neighbouring island of Camaica, ‘free ’but impoverished, regularly seek to become slaves. Hare adds that it is unlikely, given human nature, that ‘masters ’would treat (...) ‘slaves ’humanely, and avoid a gradual corruption of their moral consciousness which would cancel out any possible advantages of the system. Slavery is wrong, he argues, not because it violates ‘fundamental human rights’, but I because it would in practice generally increase misery. (shrink)
When we speak of philosophy and therapy, or of philosophy as therapy, the usual intent is to suggest that ‘philosophizing’ is or should be a way to clarify the mind or purify the soul. While there may be little point in arguing with psychoses or deeply-embedded neuroses our more ordinary misjudgements, biases and obsessions may be alleviated, at least, by trying to ‘see things clearly and to see them whole’, by carefully identifying premises and seeing what they – rationally – (...) support, and by seeking to eliminate the residual influence of premises that we have long since, rationally, dismissed. I don't intend to argue with this account – though of course it may be as well to remember that ‘philosophizing’ may have more dangerous effects. It is not obvious that philosophical argument will always help us ‘see things straight’, and the Athenian democracy was not altogether wrong to think that some of Socrates' followers or pupils learnt quite the wrong things from him. (shrink)
Cartesian accounts of the mental make it axiomatic that consciousness is transparent: what I feel, I know I feel, however many errors I may make about its cause. ‘I’ names a simple, unextended, irreducible substance, created ex nihilo or eternally existent, and only associated with the complete, extended, dissoluble substance or pretend-substance that is ‘my’ body by divine fiat. Good moderns take it for granted that ‘we’ now realize how shifting, foggy and deconstructible are the boundaries of the self; ‘we’ (...) know that our own motives, feelings and intentions constantly escape us; ‘I’ names only the current speaker, or the momentarily dominant self among many fluid identities. (shrink)
For the last few years, thanks to the Leverhulme Trust, I've been largely absent from my department, working on the late antique philosopher Plotinus. To speak personally – it's been a difficult few years, since my youngest daughter has been afflicted with anorexia during this period, and my own bowel cancer was discovered, serendipitously, and removed, at the end of 2005. Since then I've had ample occasion to consider the importance – and the difficulty – of the practice of detachment, (...) and also to worry about the moral some have drawn from Plotinian and similar philosophies, namely that the things of this world really do not matter much, and that we should withdraw ourselves from them. Maybe it is true, as Plotinus says, that ‘some troubles are profitable to the sufferers themselves, poverty and sickness for example’. But this is not an altogether helpful message for those afflicted by the bundle of disorders that lead to anorexia. It's difficult not to suspect, for example, that Simone Weil would have lived longer but for her Neo-Platonism. It has also been made obvious to me that we are much less in control of our own mental and emotional states even than I had thought before. None of this, of course, should have been any surprise: I have frequently pointed out – to myself and others – the importance of distinguishing between one's self and the states one finds oneself in, and the extreme difficulty of controlling the thoughts we say are ours. Any delusion that my knowledge of these facts is of itself enough to render me immune to them has been – at least for the moment – thoroughly debunked – though the facts themselves are such that this disillusionment, so to call it, is probably both temporary and almost entirely insincere! (shrink)
The social and environmental problems that we face at this tail end of twentieth-century progress require us to identify some cause, some spirit that transcends the petty limits of our time and place. It is easy to believe that there is no crisis. We have been told too often that the oceans will soon die, the air be poisonous, our energy reserves run dry; that the world will grow warmer, coastlands be flooded and the climate change; that plague, famine and (...) war will be the necessary checks on population growth. But here we are: sufficiently healthy and well-fed, connoisseurs of far-off catastrophe and horror movies, confident that something will turn up or that the prophecies of doom were only dreams. We are the descendants, after all, of creatures who did not despair, who hoped against hope that there would still be life tomorrow. We no more believe in the world's end than we believe that soldiers could break down the door and drag us off to torture and to death: we don't believe that they could even when we know that, somewhere altogether elsewhere, they did. Even if we can force ourselves to remember other ages, other lands or other classes, we are content enough. (shrink)
I propose to begin with some fairly unexciting and uncontroversial remarks about possibility-statements, and then in their light to examine two problems philosophers have raised about certain statements of this kind which might be made in Christian theology where it touches on the doctrine of the Incarnation.
Philosophers of earlier ages have usually spent time in considering thenature of marital, and in general familial, duty. Paley devotes an entire book to those ‘relative duties which result from the constitution of the sexes’,1 a book notable on the one hand for its humanity and on the other for Paley‘s strange refusal to acknowledge that the evils for which he condemns any breach of pure monogamy are in large part the result of the fact that such breaches are generally (...) condemned. In a society where an unmarried mother is ruined no decent male should put a woman in such danger: but why precisely should social feeling be so severe? Marriage, the monogamist would say, must be defended at all costs, for it is a centrally important institution of our society. Political community was, in the past, understood as emerging from or imposed upon families, or similar associations. The struggle to establish the state was a struggle against families, clans and clubs; the state, once established, rested upon the social institutions to which it gave legal backing. (shrink)
The ‘traditional’ view among philosophical theologians, that God is eternal not merely in the sense of being everlasting but in the sense of being outside time altogether, has come under sharp criticism in recent years, both from biblical theologians and from philosophers. It is against the latter form of attack, particularly as represented by the detailed criticisms of Professor Nelson Pike, that I wish to try and defend the notion of a divine timelessness.
I have come to believe that the whole framework of our current thought is about to begin a long and radical transformation, based on what I shall call a new science of pure consciousness. The content of most of the matters to be considered by this science have hitherto been the concern of some areas of religion, particularly what in our culture we call ‘mysticism’; but the treatment of it would legitimately be called scientific. Thus one aspect of the transformation (...) would be to overcome that apparent conflict between ‘science’ and ‘religion’, which has been so characteristic of our culture over the last few centuries. (shrink)
Consistent materialists are almost bound to suggest that ‘conscious experience’, if it exists at all, is no more than epiphenomenal. A correct understanding of the real requires that everything we do and say is no more than a product of whatever processes are best described by physics, without any privileged place, person, time or scale of action. Consciousness is a myth, or at least a figment. Plotinus was no materialist: for him, it is Soul and Intellect that are more real (...) than the phenomena we misdescribe as material. Nor does he suppose that consciousness depends on language : wordless experience is actually superior. And much of what counts towards our present consciousness is to be discarded. It is better not to remember most of what now seems more significant to us; better to discard images; better that the intellect be ‘drunk’ than ‘sober’, losing any sense of separation between subject and object. The goal of the Plotinian intellectual is to join ‘the dance of immortal love’, but it is a mark of the good dancer that she is not conscious of what she does. There is therefore a strange confluence between Plotinus and modern materialists: our experience at least is transitory, deceitful, epiphenomenal, and ‘reality’ is to be encountered when we have shed our illusions. (shrink)
Anyone who wishes to talk about angels has to respond to the mocking question, how many of them can dance on the point of a pin. The answer is: ‘just as many as they please’. Angels being immaterial intellects do not occupy space to the exclusion of any other such intellectual substance, and their being ‘on’ the point of a pin can only mean that they attend to it. The question, however, is not one that concerned our mediaeval predecessors, although (...) it seems as difficult to persuade anyone of this as it is to clear Canute of the charge of insane conceit. (shrink)
When I was first approached to read a paper at the conference from which this volume takes its beginning I expected that Flint Schier, with whom I had taught a course on the Philosophy of Biology in my years at Glasgow, would be with us to comment and to criticize. I cannot let this occasion pass without expressing once again my own sense of loss. I am sure that we would all have gained by his presence, and hope that he (...) would find things both to approve, and disapprove, in the following venture. (shrink)
Peut-on réduire la formation ŕ l’enseignement? Peut-on assimiler la formation ŕ l’éducation? De Fichte et Schleiermacher ŕ Habermas, en passant par Nietzsche et Jaspers, ces questions ont été constamment sur le tapis dans le contexte de l’enseignement. Le rappel de l’histoire de ce débat est instructif dans la mesure oů les discussions actuelles sur la réforme de l’enseignement et des universités représentent essentiellement une actualisation des problčmes irrésolus, surtout ceux soulevés dans les années 1950, oů des avertissements méritant réflexion furent (...) lancés contre la subordination de la politique scientifique ŕ la politique économique. (shrink)
Persons are creatures with a range of personal capacities. Most known to us are also people, though nothing in observation or biological theory demands that all and only people are persons, nor even that persons, any more than people, constitute a natural kind. My aim is to consider what non-personal minds are like. Darwin's Earthworms are sensitive, passionate and, in their degree, intelligent. They may even construct maps, embedded in the world they perceive around them, so as to be able (...) to construct their tunnels. Other creatures may be able to perceive that world as also accessible to other minds, and structure it by locality and temporal relation, without having many personal qualities. Non-personal mind, on both modern materialist and Plotinian grounds, may be the more usual, and the less deluded, sort of mind. (shrink)
Practitioners of disciplines whose problems are debated by moral philosophers regularly complain that the philosophers are engaged in abstract speculation, divorced from ‘real-life’ consequences and responsibilities, that it is the practitioners who must take the decisions, and that they cannot act in accordance with strict abstract logic.
Jonathan Edwards identified the central act of faith as ‘the cordial consent of beings to Being in general’, which is to say to God . That equation, of Being, Truth and God, is rarely taken seriously in analytical circles. My argument will be that this is to neglect the real context of a great deal of past philosophy, particularly the very Cartesian arguments from which so many undergraduate courses begin. All too many students issue from such courses immunized against enthusiasm, (...) in the conceit that they have answers to all the old conundrums, which were in any case no more than verbal trickery. ‘By uttering the right words but failing to use them in propria persona , philosophy induces a kind of soporific amnesia bewitching us into forgetting our God-given task. That task is, of course, to do what Socrates did and to live as he lived' . Burrell's words are not wholly fair to academic philosophers, nor to the Lady Philosophy. Plenty of philosophers really mind about the truth, and want to be Socratic in pursuit of it. But the danger is a real one. If all that matters is debunking past philosophers, how does that differ from the repeated refutation of the Chaldaean Oracles or the Prophecies of Nostradamus? A pretty enough pastime for the young, but hardly serious business for adults . ‘If the history of philosophy is a process of ‘salvaging’ what you yourself have already thought, then why bother?’. (shrink)
Stephen R. L. Clark has authored twelve books covering three philosophical themes: religion, duties toward animals, and politics—“Unfortunately, however, those familiar with one realm of his work, tend not to be familiar with what he has done in other areas”. Even those who may be familiar with the whole of Clark’s corpus may find it difficult to discern a coherent philosophical message among these disparate themes. Dombrowski seeks to present a comprehensive overview of Clark’s thought, and to elucidate Clark’s primary (...) philosophical concerns and prejudices, which run through all his works. However, Dombrowski’s admiration for Clark’s philosophy does not preclude him from offering his own unique analysis and critique. (shrink)
The Vestal Virgins are one of the most famous elements of Roman religion, yet despite their perennial appeal and the importance of some smaller scale studies of the priesthood, the priestesses have not received a monograph-length study since F. Giuzzi, Aspetti giuridici del sacerdozio romano. II sacerdozio di Vesta (Naples, 1968). Now we have books by R.L. Wildfang and M.C. Martini that could not be more different. The former offers a thorough survey of what the sources can tell us about (...) the priesthood in the period from the end of the Second Carthaginian War to the first century C.E. The latter is an analysis of early Roman historiography and the role the Vestals, in particular their periodic unchastity, played in the creation of the traditional account of the development of Rome. W's book puts forward two main arguments: (1) the Vestals were charged with the ritual purification of the city and with the storage and preparation of ritual materials, and (2) many aspects of the priesthood that have long puzzled scholars are tied to the Vestals' status as Roman citizens, but citizens who existed outside the traditional family structure. The book will be accessible to those new to the topic, but the notes will repay specialists. Ancient sources are quoted in translation, with original texts provided in an appendix. A second appendix provides a list of known Vestals. This slender volume could have been even thinner if the frequent repetitions were cut down. W's work might have been better as a hefty article, so little is there to know about the Vestals. The Classical Review vol. 58 no. 1 C The Classical Association 2008; all rights reserved This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 11:47:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions THE CLASSICAL REVIEW 213 In the Introduction, W makes a welcome distinction among types of rituals often lumped together in discussions of 'fertility' rituals, with which the Vestals are often associated (p. 4). W reserves 'fertility' to describe only those rites that deal with the reproduction of people, livestock and the growth of crops. Harvest rituals are linked to the harvesting of crops, while another set of rites, 'storage rites', are tied to the preservation of the harvest. The final group, purification rituals, aim at the cleansing of an individual, place or object of 'all forms of pollution that would render it or them unfit to come into contact with the religious sphere'. The book is arranged thematically. The first two chapters lay out all we can know about the priestesses' ritual obligations performed in the seclusion of the temple and out amongst the people. While a reader may not find W's interpretation of each of the Vestals' actions equally persuasive, the overall argument that the priestesses' activities were, by and large, purificatory is convincing. Two of the more interesting aspects of W.'s discussion are her considerations of Vesta's fire and of the water required for some of her rituals (pp. 8-11). Fire was seen by the Romans as both a fertile and a sterile force, and scholars have emphasised one or the other, or the contrast between them, in their interpretation of the Vestals. W points out that fertile fire is always described in masculine terms and is associated with Vulcan. Vesta's fire, however, is always associated with sterility and purity, and so should be understood as having a purificatory significance. W points out that Vesta's fire was used only in the manufacture of ritually necessary items: roasting spelt for mola salsa, baking brine for muries and burning ashes from the fetal cow from the Fordicidia and the tail of the October horse, both of which were used at the Parilia. For other rituals, the Vestals were required to use water, the purificatory substance par excellence, drawn only from the spring of Juturna and carried only in vessels that could not be set down. These restrictions ensured that the water was always fresh, running water that never touched profane earth. Chapters 3-5 trace out the unique position the Vestals occupied in Roman society, arguing that they existed outside the standard Roman familial and other social structures, yet remained fully part of the Roman state. W suggests that the initiation rite of captio removed the new priestess not only from her family but, more importantly, from her family cult, thus avoiding any potential contamination of familial and public cult. Virginity was required for multiple reasons, the most significant being that such a status allowed the priestess to remain a full member of the Roman state, but prevented her from being a member of a traditional family structure. Throughout the book, W makes much of the idea of Vestals as represen tatives of Roman citizen women without ever really dealing with the question to what extent any Roman woman, priestess or not, was a ciuis. Though W is probably correct, it is not entirely certain to what extent women were citizens in the Republic, and at least a reference to some key ancient sources and to recent scholarship on this question should be made (e.g. L. Peppe, Posizione giuridica e ruolo sociale della donna romana in eta repubblicana [Milan, 1984]). The sixth chapter, 'The Vestals in the Romans' History', looks at the appearance of Vestals in the early history of Rome, refining the common assumption that accusations of, and convictions for, incestum arose only in periods of great stress and danger. W adds that a priestess's involvement, or her family's involvement, in one of the groups taking part in the conflict or struggle of the moment also played a role. This chapter traces changes over the course of 300 years in the attitudes of the priestesses and the Romans more generally toward the priesthood, its role in society This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 11:47:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 214 THE CLASSICAL REVIEW and its requirement of 30 years of chastity. The argument hangs on even less evidence than other sections of the work. In contrast to their central place in W's book, the Vestals play only a small (though crucial, in her interpretation) role in M.'s work. The basic argument of the book is that episodes of Vestal incestum are linked in the historiographic tradition to key moments in the development of the Roman state: the separation of augurium from regnum, the development of a mixed patrician-plebeian aristocracy, the creation of a monetary system and the expansion of the colonial system outside Italy. The history of Rome can be seen as alternating phases of stasis and transformation; instances of Vestal incestum mark the transitions (p. 95). The work falls into two parts that are not well integrated. The first is a useful discussion of the historiography of the Roman Republic, taking in turn each element of the story of the founding of Rome from the arrival of Aeneas to the death of Remus. M. traces how early Roman writers, especially Fabius Pictor, reshaped the tradition already present in some Greek authors, distancing Rome from the Greek world and adding an Italic element to the tale. This detailed analysis is well worth consulting and will be of interest to those working on many aspects of cultural life in the Republic. The second, larger, section of the book comprises a series of studies of the Vestals known to have been convicted of incestum during the Republic. After dealing with issues of dating and sources, M. links each case of incestum to a major event in Roman history. Not all the events are equally important for the creation of the Rome of the middle and late Republic. One wonders why M. chose to tie the conviction of Minucia, somewhere between 339 and 332, to the admission of plebeians to the praetorship in 337 rather than to the conclusion of the Latin War in 338. Some explanation is warranted. The connection M. draws is often very vague, as in the case of Sextilia (pp. 144-54), convicted and interred alive in either 275 or 274. M. sees this as marking the end of any meaningful distinction between patricians and plebeians, following as it does the first time a plebeian censor completed a lustrum. The gap of five or six years between Sextilia's conviction and Cn. Domitius Calvinus Maximus' censorship in 280 passes unremarked. Similarly, in discussing the three Vestals accused of incestum in 114-113 (pp. 188-210), M. steps away from the commonly accepted interpretation of the event as part of the continuing struggle between Gracchan and senatorial forces, arguing instead that it is tied to the establishment in 118 of the colony of Narbo Martius, Rome's first colony in Gaul. Here, as elsewhere, there is no evidence that any ancient author linked the founding of the colony and Vestal unchastity; the temporal gap makes an association even more unlikely. Ultimately, it is not possible to accept M.'s argument that Vestal incestum punctuated key stages in the development of the 'cosmo Romano' in the way she imagines. Even so, M.'s effort to reintegrate the Vestals into the larger narrative of Rome's history is thought-provoking, and it is to be hoped that it will spark further work in the same vein. The field is perhaps in a better position to undertake work on this scale now that we have W's careful and comprehensive collection and interpre tation of what there is to know about the Vestals. Yale University CELIA E. SCHULTZ celia.schultz(yale.edu This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 11:47:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions. (shrink)
According to Aristotle, the goal of anyone who is not simply stupid or slavish is to live a worthwhile life. There are, no doubt, people who have no goal at all beyond the moment's pleasure or release from pain. There may be people incapable of reaching any reasoned decision about what to do, and acting on it. But anyone who asks how she should live implicitly agrees that her goal is to live well, to live a life that she can (...) think worth living. That goal, eudaimonia , is something that is sought for its own sake, and for nothing else. Anyone who asks herself how she should live can answer that she should live well. The answer, admittedly, needs further comment. Aristotle went on to suggest that ‘living well’ amounted to living in accordance with virtue, or if there is more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete. Eudaimonia , happiness, is virtuous activity over a whole life. To live a worthwhile life we must acquire and practice habits of doing the right thing, for the right reason. Equivalently, we must do what a virtuous person would, and in the way she would, for the sake of to kalon , or beauty. (shrink)
There are good reasons for being suspicious of the very concept of ‘a religion’, let alone a ‘world religion’. It may be useful for a hospital administrator to know a patient's ‘religion’ – as Protestant or Church of England or Catholic or Buddhist – but such labels clearly do little more than identify the most suitable chaplain, and connote groupings in the vast and confusing region of ‘religious thought and practice’ that are of very different ranks. By any rational, genealogical (...) taxonomy ‘Protestant’, ‘Anglican’, ‘Catholic’ connote species, genera or families within Christianity, which is in turn a taxon within the multivariant tradition traced back to Abraham. ‘Buddhism’ includes as many variants as would ‘Abrahamism’. Most Abrahamists, traditionally, have been theists, but it is difficult not to suspect that Marxist socialism is an atypical variant which has inherited a linear view of time, a contest between the chosen agents of justice and the doomed powers-that-be, and the prospect of a future in which ‘there shall be no more sea’. (shrink)
When philosophers approach philosophy of religion, they typically ask two questions: are there any sound arguments to prove the existence of God; and is talk about God even rationally intelligible? Theologians, for their part, primarily expound the meaning and relevance of Christianity. I am by profession a philosopher, but apart from Secs. VI and VII I am here writing as a puzzled twentieth-century man. My prime worry is whether we philosophers and theologians are beginning with the right questions.
Technology, according to Derry and Williams's Short History , ‘comprises all that bewilderingly varied body of knowledge and devices by which man progressively masters his natural environment’. Their casual, and unconscious, sexism is not unrelated to my present topic. Women enter the story as spinners, burden bearers and, at long last, typists. ‘The tying of a bundle on the back or the dragging of it along upon the outspread twigs of a convenient branch are contributions [and by implication the only (...) contributions] to technology which probably had a feminine origin’. Everything else was done by men , and what they did was master, conquer , and control . It is also significant that Derry and Williams take it for granted that ‘the men [sic] of the Old Stone Age, few and scattered, developed little to help them to conquer their environment’: until the advent of agriculture, and settled civilization, there was, they say, neither leisure nor surplus. (shrink)
1. Believing Enough to Think The Scottish system of university education requires most aspirants to an Ordinary Degree to study some philosophy. Philosophers in Scottish Universities must therefore contend with enormous first-year classes, stocked with youngsters who have little real desire to be philosophers, or even to philosophize. Some years ago, at Glasgow, a question in the final exam was as follows: ‘“Philosophy is of no use, and so should not be studied.” Discuss’. A couple of hundred students answered, more (...) or less fluently, that one should not assume that what was of no use should not be studied, since some things were worth studying in their own right, but that in any case the study of philosophy was useful since it helped one to question what authoritative figures said. No essayist, apparently, saw any paradox in this reply, which was, of course, taken word for word from the professor's lectures. (shrink)
Remembered today primarily for his commentaries on Plato, R.L. Nettleship was a fellow and tutor of Balliol College, Oxford, from 1869 to 1892. And, while he was one of the past century’s better known interpreters of Plato, Nettleship’s influence extends well beyond the study of Greek philosophy. Although his life was cut short in its prime and saw the publication of no major works expressive of his own views, it is to Nettleship that we owe the existence of T.H. Green’s (...) collected Works and the book-length “Memoir” that introduces these volumes. And, despite its being ignored by later writers, Nettleship’s “Lectures on Logic” remains one of the most accessible accounts of the idealist theory of knowledge that came to dominate late nineteenth century British philosophy. (shrink)