The other, potentially diabolical, aspect of this construction is the one that presented itself to Primo levi when he realised that in Auschwitz there was no “ why” (“hier gibt es kein 'Warum' ” [“here there is no 'why'”]). levi's experience, of course, ...
Political judgment in its historical context -- The politics of managing decline -- Moralism and realpolitik -- On the very idea of a metaphysics of right -- The actual and another modernity : order and imagination in Don Quixote -- Culture as ideal and as boundary -- On museums -- Celan's Meridian -- Heidegger and his brother -- Richard Rorty at Princeton : personal recollections -- Melody as death -- On bourgeois philosophy and the concept of "criticism".
Outside Ethics brings together some of the most important and provocative works by one of the most creative philosophers writing today. Seeking to expand the scope of contemporary moral and political philosophy, Raymond Geuss here presents essays bound by a shared skepticism about a particular way of thinking about what is important in human life--a way of thinking that, in his view, is characteristic of contemporary Western societies and isolates three broad categories of things as important: subjective individual preferences, knowledge, (...) and restrictions on actions that affect other people. He sets these categories in a wider context and explores various human phenomena--including poetry, art, religion, and certain kinds of history and social criticism--that do not fit easily into these categories. As its title suggests, this book seeks a place outside conventional ethics.Following a brief introduction, Geuss sets out his main concerns with a focus on ethics and politics. He then expands these themes by discussing freedom, virtue, the good life, and happiness. Next he examines Theodor Adorno's views on the relation between suffering and knowledge, the nature of religion, and the role of history in giving us critical distances from existing identities. From here he moves to aesthetic concerns. The volume closes by looking at what it is for a human life to have "gaps"--to be incomplete, radically unsatisfactory, or a failure. (shrink)
"Raymond Geuss is a major voice in contemporary philosophy, and this book will enhance his stature even further. Containing some of his best pieces so far, "Outside Ethics" reveals his impressive range as well as the depth of his thought.
"--Daniel Brudney, University of Chicago "The fund of information Geuss brings into his discussion of the ancients, and the verve and charm with which it is all presented, make the central chapters of this book particularly engaging.
There need be no incompatibility between utopian thinking and a realist political philosophy, if realism in political theory means, as it properly should, only the rejection of specific forms of unreflective illusion. Three forms of such illusion wishful thinking, ideology, and the purportedly self-evident unities that are the targets of Nietzschean genealogy are briefly discussed. Utopian thinking itself, it is suggested, will benefit from avoidances of these illusions.
In politics, utopians do not have a monopoly on imagination. Even the most conservative defenses of the status quo, Raymond Geuss argues, require imaginative acts of some kind. In this collection of recent essays, including his most overtly political writing yet, Geuss explores the role of imagination in politics, particularly how imaginative constructs interact with political reality. He uses decisions about the war in Iraq to explore the peculiar ways in which politicians can be deluded and citizens can misunderstand their (...) leaders. He also examines critically what he sees as one of the most serious delusions of western political thinking--the idea that a human society is always best conceived as a closed system obeying fixed rules. And, in essays on Don Quixote, museums, Celan's poetry, Heidegger's brother Fritz, Richard Rorty, and bourgeois philosophy, Geuss reflects on how cultural artifacts can lead us to embrace or reject conventional assumptions about the world. While paying particular attention to the relative political roles played by rule-following, utilitarian calculations of interest, and aspirations to lead a collective life of a certain kind, Geuss discusses a wide range of related issues, including the distance critics need from their political systems, the extent to which history can enlighten politics, and the possibility of utopian thinking in a world in which action retains its urgency. (shrink)
I distinguish three strands in the discussion of "culture" in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Germany. One is centered around the analysis of the diverse folkways of various human groups. A second focuses on the cultivation of individual talents and capacities. The third treats aesthetic experience and judgment and its relation to forms of sociability. I discuss some of the various ways in which these three strands of discussion interacted historically and suggest some ways in which the study of this historical (...) episode might be relevant to contemporary discussions of "culture.". (shrink)
Abstract There has been a strong tendency in economic thought to try to take human wants, desires, and preferences as the basis for deciding how to act. This essay argues that ?needs? constitute a distinct category which cannot be reduced to preference. The reductive strategy is partly connected with a philosophical mistake about the relation between the subjective and the objective. The distinction between needs and wants must be central to any continuing form of human action, but it may also (...) not be understood in such a way as to posit some purely objective (perhaps biological) needs that can be specified independently of people's wishes and desires; nor can those desires be specified outside the context of an account of the various ways in which they arise out of, are embedded in, and are directed to ?objective? features of our world. (shrink)
Raymond Geuss has been a distinctive contributor to the analysis and evaluation of German philosophy and to recent debates in ethics. In this new collection he treats a variety of topics in ethics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of history with special reference to the work of Hegel, Nietzsche, and Adorno. Two of the essays in the volume deal with central aspects of the philosophy of Nietzsche. The collection also contains an essay on the history of conceptions of 'culture' and one (...) on the ethics of Ernst Tugendhat. The remaining three essays focus on questions in aesthetics. The volume will be of interest to students of modern philosophy, German intellectual and cultural history, and literary theory. (shrink)