The philosophical taste for put-downs seems to be giving way to an appetite for what you might call intellectual inclusion: a willingness to talk to other people, however foolish they are considered to be, in the hope of learning something from the conversation. For these reasons I think the place and time may be right for mending the rift between philosophy and the other arts.
Throughout the twentieth century, moral philosophers have done their best to push the question of moral change off the intellectual agenda. If you look back to Principia Ethica, which appeared in 1903, you will find G.E. Moore taking it for granted that ethics is concerned with a single unanalysable object called “the good”, which is the only thing we can ever really mean when we talk about “goodness”. There could be no progress in morality as such, apart from throwing out (...) any historical flotsam and jetsam that might have made its way into the clear waters of ethical intuition. Genuine ethics did not have a history, in Moore’s opinion; only pseudo-ethics did. (shrink)
A groundbreaking study of deafness, by a philosopher who combines the scientific erudition of Oliver Sacks with the historical flair of Simon Schama. There is nothing more personal than the human voice, traditionally considered the expression of the innermost self. But what of those who have no voice of their own and cannot hear the voices of others? In this tour de force of historical narrative, Jonathan Ree tells the astonishing story of the deaf, from the sixteenth century to the (...) present. Ree explores the great debates about deafness between those who believed the deaf should be made to speak and those who advocated non-oral communication. He traces the botched attempts to make language visible, through such exotic methods as picture writing, manual spellings, and vocal photography. And he charts the tortuous progress and final recognition of sign systems as natural languages in their own right. I See a Voice escorts us on a vast and eventful intellectual journey,taking in voice machines and musical scales, shorthand and phonetics, Egyptian hieroglyphs, talking parrots, and silent films. A fascinating tale of goodwill subverted by bad science, I See a Voice is as learned and informative as it is delightful to read. (shrink)
Philosophy is one of the most intimidating and difficult of disciplines, as any of its students can attest. This book is an important entry in a distinctive new series from Routledge: The Great Philosophers . Breaking down obstacles to understanding the ideas of history's greatest thinkers, these brief, accessible, and affordable volumes offer essential introductions to the great philosophers of the Western tradition from Plato to Wittgenstein. In just 64 pages, each author, a specialist on his subject, places the philosopher (...) and his ideas into historical perspective. Each volume explains, in simple terms, the basic concepts, enriching the narrative through the effective use of biographical detail. And instead of attempting to explain the philosopher's entire intellectual history, which can be daunting, this series takes one central theme in each philosopher's work, using it to unfold the philosopher's thoughts. (shrink)
This essay examines the development of descartes' literary aspirations, and the temporal and ironic structures of the "discourse" and "meditations". descartes emerges as an ingenious philosophical stylist, with complicated debts to montaigne. his texts are shown to employ a 'rhetoric of edification', embodying the view that metaphysical wisdom can be achieved only through a lengthy apprenticeship to error.