Howard Callaway's new edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Society and Solitude is an invaluable contribution to both the primary and secondary literature on Emerson. Its contribution to the primary sources is its use of the original 1870 edition of Emerson's text, though with modernized spellings to facilitate the reader's understanding. Its contribution to the secondary literature consists in the scholarly apparatus of page-by-page annotations, an introduction, a chronology, a bibliography, and an index. Callaway's Society and Solitude is a worthy companion (...) to his earlier edition of Emerson's The Conduct of Life. (shrink)
There are two motivations commonly ascribed to historical actors for taking up statistics: to reduce complicated data to a mean value (e.g., Quetelet), and to take account of diversity (e.g., Galton). Different motivations will, it is assumed, lead to different methodological decisions in the practice of the statistical sciences. Karl Pearson and W. F. R. Weldon are generally seen as following directly in Galton’s footsteps. I argue for two related theses in light of this standard interpretation, based on a reading (...) of several sources in which Weldon, independently of Pearson, reflects on his own motivations. First, while Pearson does approach statistics from this "Galtonian" perspective, he is, consistent with his positivist philosophy of science, utilizing statistics to simplify the highly variable data of biology. Weldon, on the other hand, is brought to statistics by a rich empiricism and a desire to preserve the diversity of biological data. Secondly, we have here a counterexample to the claim that divergence in motivation will lead to a corresponding separation in methodology. Pearson and Weldon, despite embracing biometry for different reasons, settled on precisely the same set of statistical tools for the investigation of evolution. (shrink)
Claims about ‘the meaning of life’ have tended to be made and discussed in conjunction with bold metaphysical and theological affirmations. For life to have meaning, there must be a comprehensive divine plan to give it meaning, or there must be an intelligible cosmic process with a ‘telos’ that a man needs to know if his life is to be meaningfully orientated. Or, it is thought to be a condition of the meaningfulness of life, that values should be ultimately ‘conserved’ (...) in some way, that no evil should be unredeemable and irrational. And it may be claimed that if death were to end our experience, meaninglessness would triumph. (shrink)
I am very grateful to Professor R. W. Sleeper for his critical comments on my article, as also for the kind way in which he has expressed them. I should now like to make a few comments on his comments. May I first say that I have no objection to being metaphysical? I do not like the word ‘metaphysics’ very much, and wish that we could find a less provocative one. But still, I do think that the difference between the (...) reducible and the irreducible belief-in is a difference which there really is . Moreover, I fully admit that when we believe in God we are making a factual claim. It is, of course, a factual claim of rather a special kind. If it is a fact that there is a supreme Being, ‘The Lord of All’, this is not just one fact among others. It is not quite like the fact that there is a stormy north-westerly wind this morning. One could not just give a list of facts and add at the end, ‘There is also another fact which I had forgotten to mention: there is a God’. All the same, this factual claim, like others, does need to be justified; and how is it to be justified? I am afraid that the brief hint which I offered elsewhere on this subject is indeed ‘not good enough’ as it stands . To be even half good enough, it needs much more elaboration, and I agree that there is much force in Mr Gunderson's criticisms. (shrink)
There are numerous ‘solutions’ to the problem of evil, from which theists can and do freely take their pick. It is fairly clear that any attempt at a solution must involve a scaling-down of one or more of the assertions out of whose initial conflict the problem arises – either by a downward revision of what we mean by omnipotence, or omniscience, or benevolence, or by minimizing the amount or condensing the varieties of evil actually to be found in the (...) universe. And indeed, in one or more of these different ways, the charge of logical inconsistency can no doubt always be vouchsafed at least a formal answer. Unfortunately, the mere ironing-out of formal inconsistencies does not of itself go very far towards providing a solution to this central problem of theism which will be morally, religiously, and intellectually convincing and acceptable as well as logically impeccable. Everything depends on how the inconsistencies are ironed out. For every attempt at a solution of the problem of evil has to be made at a price, in keeping with the scale and type of conceptual or ethical readjustments which it requires of us. And if the solutions which are generally offered seldom seem to carry much conviction, this is because the price they require us to pay nearly always seems far too high. A ‘solution’ to the problem of evil that is to count as a genuine solution must not require us to make any conceptual or ethical readjustments which it would not on independent grounds be entirely reasonable to make. A ‘solution’ that was finally to count as the solution of the problem of evil would presumably need to be that particular one which required us to make only those conceptual and ethical readjustments which were on independent grounds the ones that it was the most reasonable to make. What follows is offered as a solution, in the above sense, of the problem of evil. However, I shall not here attempt to argue that it is the solution. (shrink)
There is always a danger in philosophy, that what is intended initially as simply one explanation of some form of activity, should come to be regarded as the only possible form of explanation. Nor does this danger seem to be diminished where a philosopher's aim is itself that of attacking limited notions of what is possible as an explanation. This is one, though not the only, reason why it is often the case that what at first appears as a revolutionary (...) and illuminating solution of certain philosophical difficulties, later gives rise to even more intractable problems of its own. (shrink)
Art is without doubt a powerful agent in determining how nature appears to us. Andrew Forge describes seeing tree leaves in sunlight, and ‘thinking Pissarro’. ‘I am wrapped round by Impressionism and the leaves look like brush strokes’. To Harold Osborne, once one has been impressed by Van Gogh's painting of certain objects, ‘it is difficult ever again to see the objects uninfluenced by Van Gogh's vision of them’.
It is by no means unusual in works of philosophy for writers to make use of examples from literature or to bemoan the lack of literary examples in the work of other philosophers. Nor is it unusual for philosophers to write substantial tomes without ever mentioning any work of literature or to condemn the use of literary examples as a threat to clarity of thought. This contradiction in practice and principle might lead us to suspect that what we are here (...) dealing with is at least to some extent a philosophical disagreement, and I believe this to be the case. Unfortunately, what is extremely unusual is any direct discussion of the philosophical issues involved, that is to say any discussion of what philosophers are doing when they appeal in their writings to works of literature, and of what if anything is lost by those who fail to do so. (shrink)
In an important article in the opening issue of Religious Studies , Professor H. H. Price states that: ‘Epistemologists have not usually had much to say about believing “in”, though ever since Plato's time they have been interested in believing “that”’ . We are all considerably in debt to Professor Price for his extremely lucid analysis which will, I think, go a very long way towards filling the lacuna to which he points. As I find myself in agreement with almost (...) every point which Price has made, my purpose here is not to make a ‘reply’ to his article in the usual sense but to suggest that his analysis of believing is curiously and disappointingly incomplete. I shall offer some reasons of my own in support of this suggestion, not so much in criticism of Price's thesis as in hopes of finding some way out of the difficulties which, I take it, forced Price to stop short just where he did. It will be the burden of my argument to show that a more complete and satisfactory account of believing must include a description of its ‘metaphysical element’ as well as of its epistemological and psychological conditions. For it is at the point of what I shall call the ‘metaphysics of believing’ that Price's analysis and description of belief ‘in’ and belief ‘that’ stops short. 1. (shrink)
Fr. Bernard Lonergan's writings have not so far received much discussion in British philosophical journals, although they contain one of the most fully-developed contemporary presentations of Catholic Christianity and have a substantial and distinctive philosophical content. They have not lacked theological commentators, both in print and in conferencediscussions. The present article has three aims: to draw attention to Lonergan's work and its philosophical relevance; to notice the publication of his latest book, Method in Theology , and to venture some critical (...) comments on certain arguments about the intelligibility of being, being and the good, and God, in his book Insight . These arguments are central to Lonergan's account of theism, a theism which, in its orthodox Roman Catholic form, is presupposed by Method in Theology . The books are organically interrelated. One admirer of Lonergan described the newer book as ‘the book [Lonergan] originally set out to write’. (shrink)
The broad analysis made by Home and Watanabe of the development of physics in Australia during the period from 1914 to 1945 is generally accepted; however, details relating to the backgrounds of certain of these developments are questioned.