In Natural Right and History Leo Strauss argues for the continuing “relevance” of the classical understanding of natural right. Since this relevance is not a matter of a direct return, or a renewed appreciation that a neglected doctrine is simply true, the meaning of this claim is some- what elusive. But it is clear enough that the core of Strauss’s argument for that relevance is a claim about the relation between human experience and philosophy. Strauss argues that the classical understanding (...) articulates and is continuous with the “lived experience” of engaged participants in political life, the ordinary, and he argues (in a way quite similar to claims in Heidegger) that such an ordinary or everyday point of view has been “lost.” The author presents here an interpretation and critique of such a claim. (shrink)
This is the most important book on Hegel to have appeared in the past ten years. Robert Pippin offers a completely new interpretation of Hegel's idealism, which focuses on Hegel's appropriation and development of kant's theoretical project. Hegel is presented neither as a precritical metaphysician nor as a social theorist, but as a critical philosopher whose disagreements with Kant, especially on the issue of intuitions, enrich the idealist arguments against empiricism, realism and naturalism. In the face of the dismissal of (...) absolute idealism as either unintelligible or implausible, Pippin explains and defends an original account of the philosophical basis for Hegel's claims about the historical and social nature of selfconsciousness, and so of knowledge itself. (shrink)
This fresh and original book argues that the central questions in Hegel's practical philosophy are the central questions in modern accounts of freedom: What is freedom, or what would it be to act freely? Is it possible so to act? And how important is leading a free life? Robert Pippin argues that the core of Hegel's answers is a social theory of agency, the view that agency is not exclusively a matter of the self-relation and self-determination of an individual but (...) requires the right sort of engagement with and recognition by others. Using a detailed analysis of key Hegelian texts, he develops this interpretation to reveal the bearing of Hegel's claims on many contemporary issues, including much-discussed core problems in the liberal democratic tradition. His important study will be valuable for all readers who are interested in Hegel's philosophy and in the modern problems of agency and freedom. (shrink)
The Persistence of Subjectivity examines several approaches to, and critiques of, the core notion in the self-understanding and legitimation of the modern, 'bourgeois' form of life: the free, reflective, self-determining subject. Since it is a relatively recent historical development that human beings think of themselves as individual centers of agency, and that one's entitlement to such a self-determining life is absolutely valuable, the issue at stake also involves the question of the historical location of philosophy. What might it mean to (...) take seriously Hegel's claim that philosophical reflection is always reflection on the historical 'actuality' of its own age? Discussing Heidegger, Gadamer, Adorno, Leo Strauss, Manfred Frank, and John McDowell, Robert Pippin attempts to understand how subjectivity arises in contemporary institutional practices such as medicine, as well as in other contexts such as modernism in the visual arts and in the novels of Marcel Proust. (shrink)
In the most influential chapter of his most important philosophical work, the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel makes the central and disarming assertions that "self-consciousness is desire itself" and that it attains its "satisfaction" only in another self-consciousness. Hegel on Self-Consciousness presents a groundbreaking new interpretation of these revolutionary claims, tracing their roots to Kant's philosophy and demonstrating their continued relevance for contemporary thought. As Robert Pippin shows, Hegel argues that we must understand Kant's account of the self-conscious nature of consciousness (...) as a claim in practical philosophy, and that therefore we need radically different views of human sentience, the conditions of our knowledge of the world, and the social nature of subjectivity and normativity. Pippin explains why this chapter of Hegel's Phenomenology should be seen as the basis of much later continental philosophy and the Marxist, neo-Marxist, and critical-theory traditions. He also contrasts his own interpretation of Hegel's assertions with influential interpretations of the chapter put forward by philosophers John McDowell and Robert Brandom. (shrink)
'Modernity' has come to refer both to a contested historical category and to an even more contested philosophical and civilisational ideal. In this important collection of essays Robert Pippin takes issue with some prominent assessments of what is or is not philosophically at stake in the idea of a modern revolution in Western civilisation, and presents an alternative view. Professor Pippin disputes many traditional characterisations of the distinctiveness of modern philosophy. In their place he defends claims about agency, freedom, ethical (...) life and modernity itself, all of which are central to the German idealist philosophical tradition, and in particular, to the writings of Hegel. Having considered the Hegelian version of these issues the author explores other accounts as found in Habermas, Strauss, Blumenberg, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. (shrink)
In this astonishingly rich volume, experts in ethics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, political theory, aesthetics, history, critical theory, and hermeneutics bring to light the best philosophical scholarship on what is arguably Nietzsche's most rewarding but most challenging text. Including essays that were commissioned specifically for the volume as well as essays revised and edited by their authors, this collection showcases definitive works that have shaped Nietzsche studies alongside new works of interest to students and experts alike. A lengthy introduction, annotated (...) bibliography, and index make this an extremely useful guide for the classroom and advanced research. (shrink)
One of the most discussed and disputed claims in John McDowell’s Mind and World is the claim that we should not think that in experience, “conceptual capacities are exercised on non-conceptual deliverances of sensibility.” Rather, “Conceptual capacities are already operative in the deliverances of sensibility themselves.” Such capacities are said to be operative, but not in the same way they are operative when the faculty of assertoric judgment is explicitly exercised. This position preserves the passivity and receptivity necessary for McDowell (...) to defend a picture of our thought as constrained by the world. (“The constraints come from outside thinking, but not from outside what is thinkable.”) And it maintains his Sellarsean criticism of the “Myth of the Given,” such that when we trace justification back we do not reach something that, because non-conceptual, could not play any role in such justification. The fact that the deliverances of sensibility are conceptually shaped (I will take this mean “have a conceptual form”) insures that sensibility can indeed play such a justificatory role in perceptual beliefs. (shrink)
My topic is authenticity in or perhaps as painting, not the authenticity of paintings; I know next to nothing about the problem of verifying claims of authorship. I am interested in another kind of genuineness and fraudulence, the kind at issue when we say of a person that he or she is false, not genuine, inauthentic, lacks integrity, and, especially when we say he or she is playing to the crowd, playing for eﬀect, or is a poseur. These are not (...) quite moral distinctions (no one has a duty to be authentic), but they are robustly normative appraisals, applicable even when such falseness is not a case of straight hypocrisy but of lack of self-knowledge or of self-deceit. (A person can be quite sincere and not realize the extent of her submission to the other’s expectations and demands.) This sort of appraisal also has a long history in post-Rousseauist reﬂections on the dangers of uniquely modern forms of social dependence, and they are prominent worries in the modern novel. (shrink)
_Modernism as a Philosophical Problem, 2e_ presents a new interpretation of the negative and critical self-understanding characteristic of much European high culture since romanticism and especially since Nietzsche, and answers the question of why the issue of modernity became a philosophical problem in European tradition.
The following is a chapter of a book and I should say something at the outset about the content of the book. The topic is Hegel’s “social theory of agency,” and that topic, given how the problem of agency is usually understood, raises the immediate question of why anyone would think that “sociality” would have anything at all to do with the “problem of agency.” That problem is understood in a number of ways; most generally – what distinguishes naturally occurring (...) events from actions (if anything)? (Sometimes the question is: what, if anything, distinguishes responsible human doings from what animals do?) The most prominent approach has it that actions are things done intentionally by individuals, purposely, for a purpose. This is sometimes said to mean: acting from or on or because of an intention, although as we shall see this nominalization can be quite misleading. Or, of the many possible descriptions of some occurrence, it is an action is there is a true description which is intentional. This is often taken to mean simply that if you ask a person why he is doing something he can express this intention to explain himself, most often in the form of a reason. He does not (except in extraordinary circumstances) describe why he is acting in the way he might describe what caused his.. (shrink)
When Alexander Nehamas’s pathbreaking, elegantly conceived and executed book, Nietzsche: Life as Literature,1 first appeared in 1985, the reception of Nietzsche in the Anglo-American philosophical community was still in its initial, hesitant stages, even after the relative success of Walter Kaufmann’s much earlier, 1950 book, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Anti-Christ,2 and its postwar “decontamination” of Nietzsche after his appropriation by the Nazis.3 Arthur Danto’s 1964 book, Nietzsche as Philosopher,4 was also an important if somewhat isolated event, and there finally began to (...) appear in the seventies high-quality secondary literature, like John Wilcox’s 1974 book, Truth and Value in Nietzsche,5 and .. (shrink)
Hegel, in a chapter called “Absolute Knowing,” end his most exciting and original work, the Jena Phenomenology of Spirit, with a quotation, or rather a significant misquotation, of a poet? The poet is Schiller and the poem is his 1782 “Freundschaft” (Friendship). This immediately turns into two questions: Why are the last words not Hegel’s own, and why are they rather a poet’s? I will turn to the details in a moment but, as noted, such an inquiry may not be (...) worth the trouble. Authors, even philosophers (who, with only a few exceptions, are not known for their literary style) like to cite poets.. (shrink)
Introduction -- Trapped by oneself in Jacques Tourneur's Out of the past -- "A deliberate, intentional fool" in Orson Welles's The lady from Shanghai -- Sexual agency in Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street -- "Why didn't you shoot again, baby?": concluding remarks.
The problem of freedom in modern philosophy has three basic components: (i) what is freedom, or what would it be to act freely? (ii) Is it possible so to act? (iii) And how important is leading a free life?1 Hegel proposed unprecedented and highly controversial answers to these questions.
The question of freedom in the modern German tradition is not just a metaphysical question. It concerns the status of a free life as a value, indeed, as they took to saying, the “absolute” value. A free life is of unconditional and incomparable and inestimable value, and it is the basis of the unique, and again, absolute, unqualifiable respect owed to any human person just as such. This certainly increases the pressure on anyone who espouses such a view to tell (...) us what a free life consists in. Kant’s famous answer is “autonomy,” where this means first or minimally freedom from external constraint, coercion and intimidation (“thinking for yourself”), but even more importantly, being in a certain specific sort of self-relation. I can only be said truly to be “ruling myself” when the considerations that determine what I do are reasons. But if, finally, in exercising reason I am merely rationally responsive to inclinations and desires and aversions, I am letting such contingent impulses “rule” my life, however strategically rational or hierarchically ordered my plans for satisfaction turn out to be. So, Kant concludes, I am only truly autonomous, self-ruling, when the one consideration of importance (that is, normatively authoritative) in what I do is, as he says so frequently if still mysteriously, the “ form of rationality” as such. The more familiar name for such a necessary condition of autonomy is the Categorical Imperative. To make clear that this subjection to the “form” of rationality counts as autonomy, Kant also insists that this moral law be understood as “self-legislated,” that we must be able to regard ourselves as its “author,” and that we are bound to such a law because we bind ourselves to it. (shrink)
So much philosophy is so unavoidably guided by intuitions, and such intuitions are so formed by examples, and such examples must of necessity present so cropped and abstract a picture of an instance or event or decision, that, left to its traditional methods, philosophy might be ill-equipped on its own to answer a question about the true content of an historical ideal like ``autonomy'', or authenticity or ``leading a free life''. One needs to bring so many factors into play at (...) once that one non-traditional but more promising path might be through reflection on the modern novel—or modern drama or poetry or film or even modern painting. (shrink)
The emergence of abstract art, first in the early part of the century with Kandinsky, Malevich, and Mondrian, and then in the much more celebrated case of America in the fifties (Rothko, Pollock, and others) remains puzzling. Such a great shift in aesthetic standards and taste is not only unprecedented in its radicality. The fact that nonfigurative art, without identifiable content in any traditional sense, was produced, appreciated, and, finally, eagerly bought and, even, finally, triumphantly hung in the lobbies of (...) banks and insurance companies, provokes understandable questions about both social and cultural history, as well as about the history of art. The endlessly disputed category of modernism itself and its eventual fate seems at issue. (shrink)
Robert Pippin reviews Slavoj Žižek’s Less than Nothing, a serious attempt to re-actualize Hegel in the light of Lacanian metapsychology. But does Žižek’s attempt to think Hegel with Lacan produce, as Žižek hopes, a political figuration adequate to the present? Or does it land us rather in the Hegelian zoo, along with such well-known specimens as the Beautiful Soul, the Unhappy Consciousness, and The Knight of Virtue?
The Significance of Taste: Kant, Aesthetic and Reflective Judgment ROBERT B. PIPPIN 1? THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION of the "Analytic of the Beautiful" in the "Critique of Aesthetic Judgment" is easy enough to identify. On what basis, if any, could one claim some sort of universal a priori validity for judgments of the form, "This is beautiful"? In Kant's well-known analysis of this question, the issue is reformulated as: By what right could one claim that another person ought to feel pleasure (...) in the presence of certain objects? Let us call this the "basic question."' There is controversy enough about what Kant means by this basic question and how a deduction of the validity of such judgments is supposed to work. However, shortly after Kant began serious work on a "Critique of Taste" in ~787, the whole issue became even more complicated when the proposed work became a full-blown Critique of Judgment. The question of aesthetic judg- ment was presented within the new, larger topic of reflective judgment, was presumably thereby linked to the problem of teleological judgments, and so to the great general theme of the whole of the third Critique: the purposiveness I am grateful, for comments and criticisms, to Henry Allison, Volker Gerhardt, Rudolf Makkreel, Miles Rind, and to two anonymous referees for this journal. ' Kant's own formulation: "How is a judgment possible in which the subject, merely on the basis of his own feeling of pleasure in an object,.. (shrink)
The belated genre classiﬁcation, “ﬁlm noir,” is a contested one, much more so than “Western” or “musical.”2 However, there is wide agreement that there were many stylistic conventions common to the new treatment of crime dramas prominent in the 1940s: grim urban settings, often very cramped interiors, predominantly night time scenes, and so-called “low key” lighting and unusual camera angles.3 But there were also important thematic elements in common.Two are especially interesting. First, noirs were almost always about crime, usually murder, (...) often cold-blooded, well-thought-out murder. Even more surprisingly, the larger social context for such deeds, the historical American world in which they take place, was itself just as bleak, amoral, and ugly as the individual deeds and the characters themselves. Secondly, and perhaps most distinctively, many ﬁlms challenged, in sometimes startling ways, many of our most familiar assumptions about psychological explanation. In ways that seemed both mysterious and credible, characters who had been righteous, stable, and paragons of responsibility all their adult lives were seamlessly and quite believably transformed in a few seconds into reckless, dangerous, and even murderous types, all suggesting that anyone, in the right (or wrong) circumstances, was capable of almost anything, and that one’s own sincere avowals of basic principles could be ludicrously self-deceived.4 This last theme—that a virtuous character can be as much a matter of moral luck (of having avoided by mere chance the particular temptation that would reveal the fragility of one’s principles) as an individual accomplishment—is connected with an even larger philosophical issue. (shrink)