The Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI) is an ontology that provides terms with precisely defined meanings to describe all aspects of how investigations in the biological and medical domains are conducted. OBI re-uses ontologies that provide a representation of biomedical knowledge from the Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) project and adds the ability to describe how this knowledge was derived. We here describe the state of OBI and several applications that are using it, such as adding semantic expressivity to (...) existing databases, building data entry forms, and enabling interoperability between knowledge resources. OBI covers all phases of the investigation process, such as planning, execution and reporting. It represents information and material entities that participate in these processes, as well as roles and functions. Prior to OBI, it was not possible to use a single internally consistent resource that could be applied to multiple types of experiments for these applications. OBI has made this possible by creating terms for entities involved in biological and medical investigations and by importing parts of other biomedical ontologies such as GO, Chemical Entities of Biological Interest (ChEBI) and Phenotype Attribute and Trait Ontology (PATO) without altering their meaning. OBI is being used in a wide range of projects covering genomics, multi-omics, immunology, and catalogs of services. OBI has also spawned other ontologies (Information Artifact Ontology) and methods for importing parts of ontologies (Minimum information to reference an external ontology term (MIREOT)). The OBI project is an open cross-disciplinary collaborative effort, encompassing multiple research communities from around the globe. To date, OBI has created 2366 classes and 40 relations along with textual and formal definitions. The OBI Consortium maintains a web resource (http://obi-ontology.org) providing details on the people, policies, and issues being addressed in association with OBI. The current release of OBI is available at http://purl.obolibrary.org/obo/obi.owl. (shrink)
Wijdicks and colleagues1 recently presented the Full Outline of UnResponsiveness (FOUR) scale as an alternative to the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)2 in the evaluation of consciousness in severely brain-damaged patients. They studied 120 patients in an intensive care setting (mainly neuro-intensive care) and claimed that “the FOUR score detects a locked-in syndrome, as well as the presence of a vegetative state.”1 We fully agree that the FOUR is advantageous in identifying locked-in patients given that it specifically tests for eye movements (...) or blinking on command. This is welcomed given that misdiagnosis of the locked-in syndrome has been shown to occur in more than half of the cases (see Laureys and colleagues3 for review). As for the diagnosis of the vegetative state, the scale explicitly tests for visual pursuit, and hence can disentangle the vegetative state from the minimally conscious state (MCS). The diagnostic criteria for MCS have been proposed4 only recently, but Wijdicks and colleagues1 do not mention the existence of this clinical entity in their article. As for the vegetative state, MCS can be encountered in the acute or subacute setting as a transitional state on the way to further recovery, or it can be a more chronic or even permanent condition. The MCS refers to patients showing inconsistent, albeit clearly discernible, minimal behavioral evidence of consciousness (eg, localization of noxious stimuli, eye fixation or tracking, reproducible movement to command, or nonfunctional verbalization).4 The FOUR scale does not test for all of the behavioral criteria required to diagnose MCS.4 It is known from the literature (see Majerus and colleagues5 for review) that about a third of patients diagnosed with vegetative state are actually in MCS, and this misdiagnosis can lead to major clinical, therapeutic, and ethical consequences. We tested the ability of the newly proposed FOUR scale to correctly diagnose the vegetative state in an acute (intensive care and neurology ward) and chronic (neurorehabilitation) setting.. (shrink)
The concept of "science" usually includes commitments to reason, objectivity, and disinterest in the search for truth about the nature of the world. In this view, politics, in the sense of maneuvering to gain power, corrupts both the process and the product of science. However, we show that science is political through and through-in the process of constructing scientific knowledge, in maintaining disciplines, and in being responsive to partisan sponsorship. Nevertheless, the practitioners of both science and politics maintain the boundary (...) between the two fields; in fact, the disciplines most dependent upon government support tend also to be the most autonomous. This situation becomes understandable when both fields are considered as discursive practices. Then, scientific debates can be seen as productive precisely because they derive from an objective agreement about science as an autonomous intellectual enterprise, and science itself can be seen as a politics of truth. (shrink)
Demonstrating Richard Rorty’s breadth of scholarship and his influence on diverse issues across the social sciences and humanities, this comprehensive bibliography contains 1,165 citations. A unique reference work on neo-pragmatism, this bibliography is essential for anyone researching Rorty’s work and its impact on philosophy, literature, the arts, religion, the social sciences, politics, and education.
A descriptive polytheist thinks there are at least two gods. John Hick and Richard Swinburne are descriptive polytheists. In this respect, they are like Thomas Aquinas and many other theists. What sets Swinburne and Hick apart from Aquinas, however, is that unlike him they are normative polytheists. That is, Swinburne and Hick think that it is right that we, or at least some of us, worship more than one god. However, the evidence available to me shows that only Swinburne, (...) and not Hick, is a cultic polytheist: he actually worships more than one god. I conclude that only Swinburne is a polytheist par excellence. (shrink)
Arguably the most influential of all contemporary English-speaking philosophers, Richard Rorty has transformed the way many inside and outside philosophy think about the discipline and the traditional ways of practising it. Drawing on a wide range of thinkers from Darwin and James to Quine, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Derrida, Rorty has injected a bold anti-foundationalist vision into philosophical debate, into discussions in literary theory, communication studies, political theory and education, and, as public intellectual, into national debates about the responsibilities of (...) America in the modern world. The essays in this volume offer a balanced exposition and critique of Rorty's views on knowledge, language, truth, science, morality and politics. The editorial introduction presents a valuable overview of Rorty's philosophical vision. Written by a distinguished team of philosophers, this volume will have an unusual appeal outside philosophy to students in the social sciences, literary studies, cultural studies and political theory. (shrink)
Abstract: In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce argues there is good reason to think that the “moral sense” is a biological adaptation, and that this provides a genealogy of the moral sense that has a debunking effect, driving us to the conclusion that “our moral beliefs are products of a process that is entirely independent of their truth, … we have no grounds one way or the other for maintaining these beliefs.” I argue that Joyce's skeptical conclusion is (...) not warranted. Even if the moral sense is a biological adaptation, developed moralities (such as Aristotelian eudaimonism) can “co-opt” it into new roles so that the moral judgments it makes possible can come to transcend the evolutionary process that is “entirely independent of their truth.” While evolutionary theory can shed much light on our shared human nature, moral theories must still be vindicated, or debunked, by moral arguments. (shrink)
Richard Rorty is one of the most influential and provocative figures in contemporary intellectual life. He argues that many of philosophy's traditional concerns are redundant, and that the goal of inquiry should not be truth but human betterment. In this collection a distinguished team of scholars grapples with the implications of his writings for social and political thought. Avoiding mindless adulation or ritual denunciation, they offer careful but critical investigations of the meaning of Rorty's work for a range of (...) important issues. Topics explored include anti-foundationalism; irony and commitment; justice; liberalism and utopianism; reason and aesthetics; humanism and anti-humanism; the Holocaust; the theory of international relations; social democracy and the pragmatist tradition. Each essay is followed by a reply written for this volume by Rorty. The volume also includes a substantial essay by Rorty on 'Justice as a Larger Loyalty'. This volume is indispensable for any reader interested in Rorty's work, or in contemporary debates in social, political or ethical theory. Contributors: Molly Cochran; Daniel Conway; Matthew Festenstein; Norman Geras; John Horton; David Owen; Richard Rorty; Kate Soper; Simon Thompson. (shrink)
Richard Rorty (1931–2007) developed a distinctive and controversial brand of pragmatism that expressed itself along two main axes. One is negative—a critical diagnosis of what Rorty takes to be defining projects of modern philosophy. The other is positive—an attempt to show what intellectual culture might look like, once we free ourselves from the governing metaphors of mind and knowledge in which the traditional problems of epistemology and metaphysics (and indeed, in Rorty's view, the self-conception of modern philosophy) are rooted. (...) The centerpiece of Rorty's critique is the provocative account offered in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979, hereafter PMN). In this book, and in the closely related essays collected in Consequences of Pragmatism (1982, hereafter CP), Rorty's principal target is the philosophical idea of knowledge as representation, as a mental mirroring of a mind-external world. Providing a contrasting image of philosophy, Rorty has sought to integrate and apply the milestone achievements of Dewey, Hegel and Darwin in a pragmatist synthesis of historicism and naturalism. Characterizations and illustrations of a post-epistemological intellectual culture, present in both PMN (part III) and CP (xxxvii-xliv), are more richly developed in later works, such as Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989, hereafter CIS), in the popular essays and articles collected in Philosophy and Social Hope (1999), and in the four volumes of philosophical papers, Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth (1991, hereafter ORT); Essays on Heidegger and Others (1991, hereafter EHO); Truth and Progress (1998, hereafter TP); and Philosophy as Cultural Politics (2007, hereafter PCP). In these writings, ranging over an unusually wide intellectual territory, Rorty offers a highly integrated, multifaceted view of thought, culture, and politics, a view that has made him one of the most widely discussed philosophers in our time. (shrink)
Interview with Richard Rorty, April 1997, Amsterdam. Occasion for the interview was Rorty being the occupant of the Spinoza Chair in 1997. The interview is mostly about Rorty's paper 'The Intellectuals and the Poor', in which he criticises the politics of left-wing academics.
Many global and national systems of regulation of blood donors and donor compensation rely for intellectual support on Richard Titmuss’s views, represented in The Gift Relationship. Based on selective interpretation of data from the 1960s, Titmuss engineered an ethical view pertaining to donors and, in so doing, created not only ongoing stereotypes, but created a cause for followers to perpetuate misunderstandings about the nature of such donations. In many cases, donors are, in fact compensated, but regulatory systems persevere in (...) using definitional fig leaves in order to perpetuate an ongoing political goal of diminishing private sector participation in health care. However, in more recent works, including new views of critical sociology and evolutionary psychology, the Titmuss worldview has been turned upside-down. Evidence readily available today proves the safety of compensated donation and the lives saved by encouraging policies for both compensated and non-compensated donation. (shrink)
Richard Koch first made his appearance in the 1920s with works published on the foundations of medicine. These publications describe the character of medicine as an action and the status of medicine within the theory of science. One of his conclusions is that medicine is not a science in the original sense of the word, but a practical discipline. It serves a practical purpose: to heal the sick. All medical knowledge is oriented towards this purpose, which also defines the (...) physician’s role. One kind of knowledge is diagnosis, which is strictly understood in relation to therapy, and is at the core of medical thinking. Diagnosis is not the assignment of a term of a species to a patient’s disease: this would not do justice to the individuality of a clinical manifestation and would fail to provide a reason for individual therapy. Nevertheless, the terms assigned to diseases, although fictitious, are not useless, but assist in differentiating various phenomena. These conclusions carry ethical consequences. Because the task of helping the sick constitutes medicine, morals not only set ethical limits: medicine originates in a moral decision. If there are no diseases but only individual sick people, disease can not be defined as an abnormality. The individual benefit to the patient must not necessarily be the complete restoration of health. With its object being incalculable, medicine cannot guarantee its own success. Here the physician has to develop principles that allow for the best possible response to the challenges faced in varying situations of conduct. (shrink)
Richard Rorty, with his tendency to shock, to provoke, and to seize on Continental fashions, might be thought an unlikely liberal. Nevertheless, Rorty illustrates very well some of the characteristic weaknesses of contemporary liberalism. To the extent that he draws upon postmodern and deconstructionist sources, he highlights, and radicalizes, the liberal urge to break out of frozen identities and to destabilize static roles and fixed stations in life. His distinctive version of pragmatism yields a (novel) way of drawing liberal (...) boundaries between private and public, culture and justice. And his antifoundationalism helps to legitimize a typical liberal reluctance to engage in any very ambitious social criticism. What distinguishes Rorty's liberalism is its higher degree of candor, which at least acknowledges that a liberal vision of things, far from being “neutral” toward rival ideas of the good, is implicated in the defense of a particular way of life. (shrink)
Uno de los fenomenólogos de la nueva generación que sigue la línea de Husserl, Heidegger, Marion y Lévinas es Richard Kearney. Este filósofo irlandés, católico, propone una cuarta reducción fenomenológica, esto es, volver al eschaton enraizado en la existencia cotidiana: encontrar la voz y el rostro de lo más alto en lo más bajo. Es como la realización de aquella idea heideggeriana de que “Sólo aquello del mundo que es de poca monta llegará alguna vez a ser cosa.” . (...) En el lenguaje cotidiano, en la vida diaria, se encuentra una posibilidad de superar el escepticismo, la indiferencia y el hastío del mundo vuelto consumo y del hombre convertido en pieza del mercado. En el encuentro cara a cara se da la posibilidad de una revelación que hace de la relación con el otro, y especialmente con el extranjero, un maravillarse y nos implemente una duda, una sospecha y una desconfianza. (shrink)
This volume comprises a number of letters between author Anindita Niyogi Balslev and philosopher Richard Rorty. The letters explore ways to generate a creative and critical crosscultural discourse not only by challenging stereotypes about cultures and subcultures in general and traditions of thought in particular, but by being careful not to abolish the common ground on which stereotypes can be addressed.
Richard Goldschmidt was one of the most controversial biologists of the mid-twentieth century. Rather than fade from view, Goldschmidt's work and reputation has persisted in the biological community long after he has. Goldschmidt's longevity is due in large part to how he was represented by Stephen J. Gould. When viewed from the perspective of the biographer, Gould's revival of Goldschmidt as an evolutionary heretic in the 1970s and 1980s represents a selective reinvention of Goldschmidt that provides a contrast to (...) other kinds of biographical commemorations by scientists. (shrink)
In a remarkable and utterly original work of philosophical history, Richard Allen revivifies David Hartley's Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty, and his Expectations (1749). Though it includes a detailed and richly annotated chronology, this is not a straight intellectual biography, attentive as it might be to the intricacies of Hartley's Cambridge contacts, or the mundane rituals of his medical practice, or the internal development of the doctrine of association of ideas. Instead Allen brings Hartley's book, a psychological (...) epic with a mystical finale, sympathetically to life in a generous and ambitious historical gesture of mutual recognition. Late 20th-century readers "are in a better position to understand Hartley's work" than were earlier sympathizers like Joseph Priestley and John Stuart Mill; and in turn, Allen argues that "Hartley has something to say to us" about just how rich and strange a full mechanistic psychology might be. (shrink)
The English Puritan Richard Baxter (1615-1691) developed an account of forgiveness that resonates with twentieth-century virtue ethics. He understood forgiveness as one component of a larger disposition of character developed in community as human beings recognize themselves as sinful creatures engaged in complex relationships of dependency and responsibility, with both God and one another. In the midst of these relationships, persons experience divine and human forgiveness and discover opportunities to practice forgiveness in return. Baxter thus negotiated a distinctive relationship (...) between Christian hope for reconciliation and more stereotypical Puritan emphases on punishment, civil order, and justice. At the same time that recent moral reflection allows us to raise questions about some features of Baxter's argument (such as his treatment of anger), his work provides important resources for correlating dispositions with concrete obligations, establishing a place for forgiveness in the public realm, and counterbalancing the modern emphasis on individual rights. (shrink)
This article contrasts St. Thomas More's theoretical work on the role of faith and history in biblical exegesis with that of Fr. Richard Simon. I argue that, although Simon's work appears to be a critique of his more skeptical contemporaries like Hobbes and Spinoza, in reality he is carrying their work forward. I argue that More's union of faith and reason, theology and history, is more promising than Simon's for Catholic theological biblical exegesis.
_ Source: _Volume 53, Issue 2-4, pp 372 - 390 This paper investigates a series of Oxford _Obligationes_ texts, all of which can be associated with Richard Billingham. My study is based on eleven of the surviving manuscripts and two early printed texts. I focus on one aspect of their discussion, namely the rule for granting the initial _positum_ of an obligational disputation of the type called _positio_, and the six restrictions that could be placed on that rule. I (...) explain these restrictions with reference to several sophismata that were meant to illustrate the problems that the restrictions were intended to solve, and in particular, I discuss the fifth restriction ‘not inconsistent with the _positum_’. I also shed light on the final restriction, which has not always been well understood, namely the restriction ‘wherever there is no _obligatio_ relevant to the _positum_’. (shrink)
This essay introduces a thematic issue focused on the contributions to clinical ethics and the philosophy of medicine by Richard M. Zaner. We consider the apparent divorce of Zaners philosophical roots from his recent narrative immersions into the blooming, buzzing confusions of clinical-moral lifeworlds. Our considerations of the Zanerian context and origins of the clinical encounter introduce the fundamental questions faced by Zaner and his commentators in this issue, questions about the role of ethics consultants, moral authority, and clinical (...) truths. (shrink)
Richard Rorty, a neo-pragmatist well known for his anti-universalist philosophy, applies his anti-universalist approach to feminism in the paper titled “Feminism and Pragmatism” (1991). In this paper, Rorty claims that universalism is not helpful for feminists in making changes to a masculinist society. In contrast, the main point of my paper is to defend universalism as appropriate to feminism. It is not, however, argued in the form of advocacy for all versions of universalism. I will classify universalism into two (...) distinguished types, ahistoricist-essentialist universalism and historicist, anti-essentialist universalism, and I will defend the latter as consonant with feminism and with Rorty’s own pragmatist approach. (shrink)
Richard Falckenberg (1851-1920) in his book Grundzüge der Philosophie des Nicolaus Cusanus mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Lehre vom Erkennen was among the first historians of philosophy to support the argument that Nicholas of Cusa was a modern philosopher because his innovative theory of knowledge. The Falckenberg's celebrity shall be reduced because he was later obscured by the most famous historians of philosophy as Ernst Cassirer and Joachim Ritter. In our paper we want to come back to the Falckenberg's book (...) and recover his main arguments about the proximity of Cusanus with the philosophies of Leibniz, Fichte and the positivists. (shrink)
continent. 2.2 (2012): 76–81 Comments on Eugene Thacker’s “Cosmic Pessimism” Nicola Masciandaro Anything you look forward to will destroy you, as it already has. —Vernon Howard In pessimism, the first axiom is a long, low, funereal sigh. The cosmicity of the sigh resides in its profound negative singularity. Moving via endless auto-releasement, it achieves the remote. “ Oltre la spera che piú larga gira / passa ’l sospiro ch’esce del mio core ” [Beyond the sphere that circles widest / penetrates (...) the sigh that issues from my heart]. 1 The axiomatic sigh of the pessimist is in a way the pure word of philosophy, a thought that thinks without you, speaks where you are not. The live pneumatic form of the soul’s eventual exit from the dead body’s mouth, the sigh restores consciousness to the funeral of being, to the passing away that is existence. Pessimism speaks in piercing aphorisms because first it sighs. “Beyond the sphere passeth the arrow of our sigh. Hafiz! Silence.” 2 … pessimism is guilty of that most inexcusable of Occidental crimes—the crime of not pretending it’s for real. To the pessimist, the ‘real’ world—the world on whose behalf we are expected to wake up in the morning—is a ceaseless index of its own unreality. The pessimist’s day is not an illumined space for the advancement of experience and action, but a permanently and inescapably reflective zone, the vast interior of a mirror where each thing is only insofar as it is, at best, a false image of itself. Within this speculative situation, inside the doubleness of the mirror, pessimism splits into two paths, false and true, one that tries to fix pessimism (establish a relation with the mirror) and decides in favor of the apparent real, and another that totally falls for pessimism (enters the mirror) and communes with the greater reality of the unreal. These two paths are distinguished by their relation to pessimism’s guilt vis-à-vis the world’s reality-project. The first form, that which remains pessimism for the world and puts on a smiling face, stays guilty to itself (i.e. unconscious) and thus turns hypocritical, becoming at once the pessimism of the commoner who really just wants things to be better for himself and the pessimism of the elite who wants to critically refashion reality in his own image. The general form of this worldly, hypocritical pessimism is the impulse to ‘make the world a better place’, which is the global mask under which the world is diurnally made worse. The second form, that which follows pessimism away from the world and ceases to put on a smiling face, refuses guiltiness as itself theessential Occidental mode of pretense and turns honest, becoming at once the intelligent pessimism required of all ordinary action and the radical pessimism necessary for self-knowledge: seeing that no one is capable of doing good. The general form of this universal, honest pessimism is the impulse not to worry, to give up and embrace dereliction, which is the only real way the world is actually improved. Where worldly pessimism is the engine productive of interminably warring secular and sacred religions (good-projects), universal pessimism strives hopelessly for the paradise of a supremely instantiated pessimus: things are getting so bad that there is no longer any time for them to get worse; things are so constantly-instantly worst that this is BEST. Cosmic pessimism is the mode of universal pessimism which can yet discourse with the world, which has not chosen silence and can spread the inconceivably BAD NEWS in an orderly form ( kosmos ) that the world can understand (if it wanted to). … the result of a confusion between the world and a statement about the world. That is what the world is (the result of a confusion between the world and a statement about the world). … a generalized misanthropy without the anthropos. Pessimism crystallizes around this futility—it is its amor fati , rendered as musical form. Pessimism’s love of fate is a blind love, a love of the blindness of being human in a cosmos conceived around the human’s eclipse, a heavy levitation in the contradictory space between the inescapability of its having been and the impossibility of its will-be. Pessimism’s song of futility is a sensible way of loving fate, with a minimum of eros, by means of a kind of matrimonial love of the fatal. As music, pessimism stays open to the irreparable and the inexorable without the binding of affirmation, in the apparent absence of the radical, infinitely surplus will that absolute amor fati seems to require. Crying, laughing, sleeping—what other responses are adequate to a life that is so indifferent? “Unless a man aspires to the impossible, the possible that he achieves will scarcely be worth the trouble of his achieving it. We should aspire to the impossible, to absolute and infinite perfection [….] The apocatastasis is more than a mystical dream: it is a norm of action, it is a beacon for high deeds [….] For true charity is a species of invasion [….] It is not charity to rock and lull our fellow men to sleep in the inertia and heaviness of matter, but rather to arouse them to anguish and torment of spirit.” 3 … the impossibility of ever adequately accounting for one’s relationship to thought. “The paroxysm of interior experience leads you to regions where danger is absolute, because life which self-consciously actualizes its roots in experience can only negate itself [….] There are no arguments [….] On the heights of despair, the passion for the absurd is the only thing that can still throw a demonic light on chaos [….] I live because the mountains do not laugh and the worms do not sing .” 4 It took three attempts before she was fully decapitated, all the while she continued, perhaps miraculously, to sing. According to the earliest account of Cecilia’s martyrdom, the beheading turns out worse. After not severing her head in three strokes, “the cruel executioner left her half dead” (seminecem eam cruentus carnifex dereliquit). 5 Cecilia’s effortlessly powerful endurance of the three strokes—a fitting icon for pessimism as an art of dereliction—demonstrates the “passivity and absence of effort [….] in which divine transcendence is dissolved.” 6 There’s a ghost that grows inside of me, damaged in the making, and there’s a hunt sprung from necessity, elliptical and drowned. Where the moving quiet of our insomnia offers up each thought, there’s a luminous field of grey inertia, and obsidian dreams burnt all the way down. Like words from a pre-waking dream. There is no reason to think that they are not. NOTES 1. Dante Alighieri. Vita Nuova . ed. and trans. Dino S. Cervigni and Edward Vasta. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 1995. 41:10. 2. Hafiz of Shiraz. The Divan . trans. H. Wilberforce Clarke. London: Octagon Press. 1974. 10.9. 3. Miguel de Unamuno. The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations . trans. Anthony Kerrigan. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1972. 305-6. 4. E.M. Cioran. On the Heights of Despair . trans. Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1992. 9-10. 5. Giacomo Laderchi. S. Caeciliae Virg[inis] et Mart[yris] Acta. . . Rome. 1723. 38. 6. Georges Bataille. On Nietzsche . trans. Bruce Boone. London: Continuum. 2004. 135. See Nicola Masciandaro. “ Half Dead: Parsing Cecilia .” A Commentary on Eugene Thacker’s "Cosmic Pessimism" Gary J. Shipley Pessimism is the refusal to seek distraction, the refusal to remodel failure into a platform for further (doomed) possibilities, the refusal of comfort, the acceptance of the sickness of healthy bodies, the cup of life overflowing with cold vomit. If, as Ligotti suggests when discussing Invasion of the Body Snatchers , 1 humans prefer the anxieties of their familiar human lives to the contentment of an alien one, then the pessimist, we could argue, represents some perverted combination of the two, preferring (presuming he has a choice) the defamiliarization of human life to the contentment of its unquestioned mundanity. The quasi-religious state of mind that Wittgenstein would mention on occasion, that of “feeling absolutely safe,” 2 is a state the pessimist could only imagine being approximated by death, or perhaps some annihilative opiate-induced stupor. This Wittgensteinian commingling of certainty and faith looks every bit the futile gesture, a mere rephrasing of collapse or partial collapse. The only certainty open to the pessimist is that of the toxic formula of life itself—a formula known and lacuna-free. Certainty, far from being the gateway to deliverance, becomes the definitive impediment; and the possibility of salvation, as long as it remains, becomes crucially reliant on postulations of ignorance, epistemic gaps, a perennial incompleteness: “the perfect safety of wooed death […] the warm bath of physical dissolution, the universal unknown engulfing the miniscule unknown.” 3 The height of Leibniz’s Panglossian insanity nurtured the idea that our knowing everything—via the universal calculus—could be accurately described a triumph, as opposed to a nightmare in which our every futility is laid bare. Stagnancy and boredom are perhaps two of the greatest ills of Western civilisation, and the most potent pessimism tells you that you’re stuck with both. The most we can hope for, by way of salvation, is to throw open our despair to the unknown. The fact that Schopenhauer’s pessimism stopped short of morality and allowed him to play the flute, as Nietzsche complained, highlights the predicament of a man who despite having adorned nothingness with a smiling face still found himself alive. The demand here is that it be felt: a cross-contamination of intellect and emotion. The safety net of numerous parentheses makes for a failed philosophy, rather than a philosophy of failure. Depressives make bad pessimists, because, unless they choose to die, living will always infect them with necessities of hope, forcing them to find something, anything (all the various “as ifs”) to make existence tolerable. For as Cioran observed, while “[d]epressions pay attention to life, they are the eyes of the devil, poisoned arrows which wound mortally any zest and love of life. Without them we know little, but with them, we cannot live.” 4 And even when cured of our depressions we’ll find ourselves consumed, eaten alive by the hyper-clinical (borderline autistic) mania that replaces them: a predicament captured all too clearly in the microscriptual fictions of Robert Walser, where spectral men and women stifle their depressive madness with protective comas of detail, their failed assimilations buried beneath thick crusts of remote data. Like Beckett’s Malone their stories may have ended, but cruelly their lives have not. Pessimism is an extraneous burden (a purposeless weight) that makes everything else harder to carry, while at the same time scooping it out and making it lighter. If pessimism had a sound it would be the harsh non-noise of tinnitus—the way that every person would hear themselves if they refused their distractions long enough to listen: a lungless scream from the extrasolar nothing of the self. The music of pessimism—if indeed we can imagine such a thing—is the reverberating echo of the world’s last sound, conjectured but never heard, audible only in its being listened for. The one consolation of this hollow paradox of audibility being, that “he will be least afraid of becoming nothing in death who has recognized that he is already nothing now.” 5 The pessimist suffers a derangement of the real, a labyrinthitis at the nucleus of his being: he’s the stumbling ghost relentlessly surprised that others can see him. If Cioran’s refusal is manifested in sleep (when even saying ‘no’ is too much of a commitment), then Pessoa’s resides in the dreams inside that sleep. Pessoa chooses to exploit the fact that he’s being “lived by some murmuring non-entity both shadowy and muddied” 6 by growing more voids to live him. His is a Gnostic breed of sleep, “sleeping as if the universe were a mistake,” 7 a sleep that dreams through Thacker’s cosmic pessimism (“a pessimism of the world-without-us.”, “the unhuman orientation of deep space and deep time” 8 ), through the critical error of there being anything at all when there could be nothing. The metaphysical pessimist is someone who, however well life treats them, still desires to wake from it, as from the poisonous air of a bad dream. Pessimism is a paradox of age, being simultaneously young and old; its youth residing in a refusal to accept the authority of existence (its rich history, its inherent beneficence), a refusal to “get over” the horror of what it sees with its perpetually fresh eyes, and its maturity in the unceremonious disposal of the philosophical playthings (those futile architectures) of adolescence. As Thacker remarks: “Pessimism abjures all pretenses towards system—towards the purity of analysis and the dignity of critique.” 9 A sentiment shared with Pessoa, who duly categorizes those that choose to enact this futile struggle: “The creators of metaphysical systems and of psychological explanations are still in the primary stage of suffering.” 10 If the pessimist has shared a womb with anyone, it’s with the mystic and not the philosopher. As Schopenhauer tells us: “The mystic is opposed to the philosopher by the fact that he begins from within, whereas the philosopher begins from without. […] But nothing of this is communicable except the assertions that we have to accept on his word; consequently he is unable to convince.” 11 The crucial difference between the mystic and the pessimist is not the latter’s impassivity and defeatism, but his unwillingness/inability to contain in any way the spread of his voracious analyticity, his denial of incompleteness, his exhaustive devotion to failure. The truth of our predicament, though heard, is destined to remain unprocessed. Like the revelations of B.S. Johnson’s Haakon (“We rot and there’s nothing that can stop it / Can’t you feel the shaking horror of that?” 12 ) the pessimist’s truths are somehow too obvious to listen to, as if something inside us were saying, “Of course, but haven’t we gotten over that?” Pessimism is simple and ugly, and has no desire to make itself more complex or more attractive. The true moral pessimist knows that the Utilitarian’s accounts will always be in the red. He can see that for all his computational containments, his only honest path is a negative one, and that such a path has but one logical destination: that of wholesale human oblivion. Thacker notes how at the core of pessimism lies the notion of “the worst,” through which death is demoted by the all-pervasive suffering of a life that easily eclipses its threat. And so with doom made preferable to gloom, death begins to glint with promise, “like beauty passing through a nightmare.” 13 But even among pessimists suicide is, for the most part, thought to be an error. Schopenhauer, for instance, regarded suicide a mistake grounded in some fundamentally naïve disappointment or other. Pessoa too thought suicide an onerous escape tactic: “To die is to become completely other. That’s why suicide is a cowardice: it’s to surrender ourselves completely to life.” 14 There is a call here to be accepting of and creative with the puppetry of your being, an insistence that it’s somehow a blunder to attempt to hide in death from the horrors you find inlife. 15 Tied up with this perseverance is the slippery notion of the good death, for maybe, as Blanchot warns, suicide is rarely something we can hope to get right, for the simple reason that “you cannot make of death an object of the will.” 16 “Even in cases where the entire corpus of an author is pessimistic, the project always seems incomplete,” 17 and this is not simply because the project itself belies something yet to be disclosed, but because the project itself is a thing waiting. It waits on a cure it knows will not come, but for which it cannot do anything (as long as it continues to do anything) but wait. NOTES 1. See Thomas Ligotti. The Conspiracy Against the Human Race . New York: Hippocampus Press. 2010. 91. 2. Ludwig Wittgenstein. “A Lecture on Ethics.” Philosophical Review . (74) 1. 1965. 8. 3. Vladimir Nabokov. Pale Fire . New York: Vintage. 1989. 221. 4. E. M. Cioran. The Book of Delusions . trans. Camelia Elias. Hyperion. 5.1. (2010): 75. 5. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Representation. vol. 2 . trans. E .F J. Payne. New York: Dover. 1966. 609. 6. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 67. 7. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 35. 8. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 68. 9. Ibid. 73. 10. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 341. 11. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Representation. vol. 2 . trans. E .F J. Payne. New York: Dover. 1966. 610-11. 12. B.S Johnson. “You’re Human Like the Rest of Them.” in Jonathan Coe. Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson . London: Picador. 2004. 177. 13. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 415. 14. Ibid. 199. 15. “Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem.” Anne Sexton. No Evil Star: Selected Essays, Interviews and Prose . ed. Steven Gould Axelrod. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 1985. 92. 16. Maurice Blanchot. The Space of Literature . trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 1989. 105. 17. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 75. (shrink)
In this essay, I reconstruct H. Richard Niebuhr's interpretation of George Herbert Mead's account of the social constitution of the self. Specifically, I correct Niebuhr's interpretation, because it mischaracterizes Mead's understanding of social constitution as more dialogical than ecological. I also argue that Niebuhr's interpretation needs completing because it fails to engage one of Mead's more significant notions, the I/me distinction within the self. By reconstructing Niebuhr's account of faith and responsibility as theologically self-constitutive through Mead's I/me distinction, I (...) demonstrate Niebuhr's deep yet unacknowledged agreement with Mead: the self is constituted by its participation in multiple communities, but responds to them creatively by enduring the moral perplexity of competing communal claims. I conclude by initiating a constructive account of conscience that follows from this agreement. Conscience is more ecological than dialogical because it regards our creative participation in multiple ecologies of social roles oriented by patterns of responsive relations. (shrink)
It is curious why a secular pragmatist like Richard Rorty would capitalize on the religiously-laden concept of redemption in his recent writings. But more than being an intriguing idea in his later work, this essay argues that redemption plays a key role in the historical development of Rorty’s thought. It begins by exploring the paradoxical status of redemption in Rorty’s oeuvre. It then investigates an overlooked debate between Rorty, Dreyfus and Taylor that first endorses the concept. It then contrasts (...) Rorty’s notions of essentialism and edification to link redemption to self-transformation. After providing a historical legitimation to the idea of redemption, the essay reconstructs Rorty’s modern version of the concept. Redemption for Rorty centers on human relationships and not religion or philosophy; it is also pluralist and liberal in character. Finally, it concludes that Rorty uses redemption—a primary component of religious language—to capture the salvific force of religion. This power is redirected toward the protection of secular, democratic hopes, which are demanding and fragile by nature. (shrink)
Quando consideramos a extensão da obra dramática de Richard Wagner, não causa estranheza que seus textos teóricos sejam praticamente desconhecidos. No entanto, um de seus escritos, intitulado Beethoven, influenciou decisivamente a elaboração de um livro famoso, hoje considerado um capítulo importante da história da estética, O nascimento da tragédia. Este artigo pretende analisar este escrito de Wagner na intenção de desvendar o que pode ter sido tão determinante na leitura que Nietzsche fez dele, e que o levou ao ponto (...) de citá-lo de modo efusivo no primeiro prefácio da sua obra de estréia, dedicado àquele que, até então, era seu grande mestre e amigo e, como veremos, uma influência não só musical, mas também teórica. (shrink)
n a critical yet sympathetic examination of Richard Rorty's philosophy, the author uses the biblical figure of 'The Stranger' to explore some ethical tensions in Rorty's affirmation of a liberal polity.
This paper examines the four counterexamples offered by Lehrer and Richard in 'Remembering Without Knowing'. The analysis which Lehrer and Richard's purported counterexamples attempt to discredit is that remembering p requires knowing that p and believing that p. The counterexamples are considered individually and all are rejected as counterexamples to knowing as a necessary condition of remembering.
Richard Rorty’s philosophy has two basic commitments: one to postmodernism and the other to liberalism. However, these commitments generate tension. As a postmodernist, he sharply criticizes the Enlightenment; as a liberal, he forcefully defends it. His postmodernist liberalism actually explains liberalism using irrationalism.
El neopragmatismo norteamericano en la actualidad integra una serie de discusiones que ponen en tela de juicio el carácter fundacionalista de la filosofía. Una de ellas es justamente que al repensar el arte y la estética desde la experiencia se repiensa también el papel de la filosofía actual. El mayor promotor de esta idea es Richard Shusterman quien inspirado por Dewey en este sentido, desarrolla su pensamiento en íntimo diálogo con la tradición continental en una abierta crítica a la (...) estética analítica y a las hermenéuticas universalistas, donde propone de paso la filosofía como forma de vida, la hermenéutica de la comprensión, la legitimidad del arte popular y la somaestética. (shrink)
ABSTRACT. Richard Hooker’s (1554-1600) adaptation of classical logos theology is exceptional and indeed quite original for its extended application of the principles of Neoplatonic apophatic theology to the concrete institutional issues of a particular time and place—the aftermath of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement of 1559. Indeed, his sustained effort to explore the underlying connections of urgent political and constitutional concerns with the highest discourse of hidden divine realities—the knitting together of Neoplatonic theology and Reformation politics—is perhaps the defining characteristic (...) of Hooker’s distinctive mode of thought. Hooker’s ontology adheres to a Proclean logic of procession and reversion (processio and redditus) mediated by Aquinas’s formulation of the so-called 'lex divinitatis' whereby the originative principle of law remains simple and self-identical as an Eternal Law while it emanates manifold, derivative and dependent species of law, preeminently in the Natural Law accessible to human reason and Divine Law revealed through the Sacred Oracles of Scripture. For Hooker, therefore, ‘all thinges’—including even the Elizabethan constitution in Church and Commonwealth, are God’s offspring: ‘they are in him as effects in their highest cause, he likewise actuallie is in them, the assistance and influence of his deitie is theire life.’. (shrink)
Richard Koch1 became known in the 1920s with works on basic medical theory. Among these publications, the character of medical action and its status within the theory of science was presented as the most important theme. While science is inherently driven by the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, medicine pursues the practical purpose of helping the sick. Therefore, medicine must be seen as an active relationship between a helping and a suffering person. While elucidating this relationship, Koch (...) discusses the fundamental elements of medicine found in natural philosophy and the relationship of medicine to its own history. One of his aims is to unite natural history and the history of ideas without reducing intellectual processes to biological ones. Koch considers free will as something intuitively certain. It must serve as an axiom which will capture human as well as non-human reality. Based on the fact that human free will, considered a psychic quality, evolved out of inanimate matter, Koch grants matter (proto-) psychic qualities. They are evoked through specific constellations of matter. – With regard to history, Koch rejects the notion of constant progress. The history of medicine has provided insights that cannot be surpassed but can be obscured. Historical self-contemplation serves as a means for avoiding any deviations which may prevent medicine from fulfiling its ultimate purpose. Koch connects nature and history through the concept of a unity between natural history and the historical development of medicine. Medicine is considered an especially complex development of a purposive reaction to harmful stimuli, a reaction which can already be encountered in unicellular organisms. Without intending to reduce historical and mental processes to biological ones, Koch sets for himself the aim of gathering different phenomena and presenting them in one encapsulating unity. (shrink)
Richard Rorty's philosophy has two basic commitments: one to postmodernism and the other to liberalism. However, these commitments generate tension. As a postmodernist, he sharply criticizes the Enlightenment; as a liberal, he forcefully defends it. His postmodernist liberalism actually explains liberalism using irrationalism. /// 罗蒂哲学有两个基本承诺，一个是对后现代主义的承诺，一个是对自由主义 的承诺。但是这两种承诺之间存在着紧张关系: 作为后现代主义者，罗蒂对启蒙提 出了强烈的批评; 作为自由主义者，他又在极力地维护启蒙。罗蒂的后现代自由主 义实质上是以非理性主义来解释自由主义。.
In his writings, Richard Wagner imagines art as something natural. This paradox was only befitting for Wagner’s contradictory historical stance: that of an eminently modern artist loathing the modern world. For him, nature served as a yardstick apt to find the modern world deficient on all counts. But how can something ahistorical, nature, be used to judge a historical phenomenon, modernity? To arrive at the verdict Wagner was keen on, he had to fill his concept of nature with historical (...) content attributed to myth. (shrink)
Given modern technology's penetration of human behavior, it is reasonable to consider what this might mean ethically in the case of emerging technologies being used in association with human reproduction. The nature and reach of these technologies are unprecedented and can legitimately be said to pose serious challenges to traditional ethical assessments of the human good. ;In addressing these challenges, Richard A. McCormick, a moral theologian and bio-ethicist, has deployed a reformulated natural law ethic that derives from formal rather (...) than material norms and expresses itself, in particular, in terms of an evolving theological tradition, at the center of which is the whole person morally engaged in an unfolding world by means of proportionate reason. ;While McCormick acknowledges the impressive achievements of modern technology, he asserts that technological advance is more frequently than not ambiguous. Despite this, he also insists that God has committed the natural order to humans as intelligent and creative persons, thus enabling human potentialities by means of their innovative technologies. ;As McCormick views the unfolding of technology in the arena of human reproduction, he insists on focusing on future possibilities and directions in the aggregate and in the light of our overall convictions about what it means to be human. Otherwise there is the danger of identifying what is humanly and morally good with what is technologically possible. ;While this agenda goes some way to addressing the ethical challenges in emerging human reproductive technologies, it is hampered in McCormick's case by an incomplete understanding of the nature of technology and the relationship between modern science and modern technology . Adding to this limitation is the absence of an analytic method for relating various aspects of his ethical and scientific thought. ;Drawing upon the thinking of philosophers like Martin Heidegger and Jose Ortega y Gasset, theologian/scientists like Arthur Peacocke, and scientists like Jacques Monod, this study shows how a "thicker" understanding of technology and a method of assessing the moral basis of modern science from within can enrich McCormick's natural law ethic and avoid the possibility of undue theological rigidity to which it is otherwise liable. (shrink)