Listening to someone from some distance in a crowded room you may experience the following phenomenon: when looking at them speak, you may both hear and see where the source of the sounds is; but when your eyes are turned elsewhere, you may no longer be able to detect exactly where the voice must be coming from. With your eyes again fixed on the speaker, and the movement of her lips a clear sense of the source of the sound will (...) return. This ‘ventriloquist’ effect reflects the ways in which visual cognition can dominate auditory perception. And this phenomenological observation is one what you can verify or disconfirm in your own case just by the slightest reflection on what it is like for you to listen to someone with or without visual contact with them. (shrink)
Of the many interrelated themes in Pierre Hadot's Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, two strike me as having a particular centrality. First, there is the theme of attention to the present instant. Hadot describes this as the ‘key to spiritual exercises’, and he finds the idea encapsulated in a quotation from Goethe's Second Faust : ‘Only the present is our happiness’. The second theme is that of viewing the world from above: ‘philosophy signified (...) the attempt to raise up mankind from individuality and particularity to universality and objectivity’. Insofar as both attention to the present and raising oneself to an objective view imply the mastery of individual anxiety, passion and desire, they belong to a single conception, that conception being one of a ‘return to the self’: Thus, all spiritual exercises are, fundamentally, a return to the self, in which the self is liberated from the state of alienation into which it has been plunged by worries, passions, and desires. The ‘self’ liberated in this way is no longer merely our egoistic, passionate individuality: it is our moral person, open to universality and objectivity, and participating in universal nature or thought. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to set out some of the ontologies amongst which some forms of anti-realism must select. This provides the appropriate setting for presenting an alternative realist ontology. The argument is that the choice between the varieties of anti-realism and realism is inevitably a choice between ontologies.
‘Marital faithfulness’ refers to faithful love for a spouse or lover to whom one is committed, rather than the narrower idea of sexual fidelity. The distinction is clearly marked in traditional wedding vows. A commitment to love faithfully is central: ‘to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part… and thereto I plight [pledge] thee my troth [faithfulness]’. (...) Sexual fidelity is promised in a subordinate clause, symbolizing its supportive role in promoting love's constancy: ‘and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her/him.’. (shrink)
Does anyone ever survive his or her bodily death ? Could anyone? No speculative questions are older than these, or have been answered more frequently or more variously. None have been laid to rest more often, or — in our times — with more claimed decisiveness. Jay Rosenberg, for instance, no doubt speaks for many contemporary philosophers when he claims, in his recent book, to have ‘ demonstrated ’ that ‘ we cannot [even] make coherent sense of the supposed possibility (...) that a person's history might continue beyond that person's [bodily] death’. (shrink)
In ‘ The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy ’ Laurence Sterne writes: That of all the several ways of beginning a book which are now in practice throughout the known world, I am confident my own way of doing it is the best—I'm sure it is the most religious—for I begin with writing the first sentence—and trusting to Almighty God for the second.
Q: If necessity is the mother of invention, whence necessity? A. : The matrix of necessity in God-talk is religious experience, philosophically interpreted. The interpreters, theists and non-thesists, have indeed been inventive.
In Chapters 6 and 7 of Language, Truth and Poetry I attempted to solve the ancient problem of fictional reference by claiming that a fictional construct ‘points’ or refers to certain features of reality in rather the same way as an abstraction like ‘gravitation’ or ‘cruelty’ does. I now believe that this theory of mine is unsatisfactory; and I should like to propose a new solution to the problem.
The standard foil for recent theories of hope is the belief-desire analysis advocated by Hobbes, Day, Downie, and others. According to this analysis, to hope for S is no more and no less than to desire S while believing S is possible but not certain. Opponents of the belief-desire analysis argue that it fails to capture one or another distinctive feature or function of hope: that hope helps one resist the temptation to despair;2 that hope engages the sophisticated capacities of (...) human agency, such as planning;3 or that hope involves the imagination in ways desire need not.4 Here, I focus on the role of imagination in hope, and discuss its implications for hope’s relation to practical commitment or end-setting. (shrink)
The learned editor of this new four-volume collection from Routledge argues that its subject matter is ‘a vast—and vastly undersurveyed—body of inquiry into the most fundamental problems of philosophy. As the broader discipline of philosophy continues to evolve into a genuinely international field, "Indian Philosophy" stands for an unquantifiably precious part of the human intellectual biosphere. For those who are interested in the way in which culture influences structures of thought, for those who want to study alternative histories of ideas, (...) and for those who are merely curious to know what some of the world’s greatest thinkers have thought about some of the most intractable and central philosophical puzzles, Indian Philosophy is a domain of unparalleled richness and importance. And in its potential for cross-fertilization with ideas from other philosophical cultures—Greek, Chinese, European, African, Arabic, and Anglophone—Indian Philosophy is a resource that any creative philosopher can and should draw upon.’ The first of the four volumes collects the best scholarship on how Indians have understood the purpose and importance of philosophy; what philosophy as a discipline consists of; the relationship between the study of philosophy and the aims, arts, and ways of life; and, indeed, whether philosophical inquiry is possible. Volume II, meanwhile, surveys the great diversity of Indian thinking about the mind, with particular emphasis on the vibrant and dynamic work done by a new generation of scholars working at the interface between Buddhist Studies, Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Mind, and Phenomenology. Volume III focuses on the thought of the most important individual thinkers in the Indian tradition, including: Nāgārjuna, Śankara, Dignāga, Dharmakīrti, Patañjali, Kumārila, and Śrīharṣa. The final volume in the collection collates canonical and cutting-edge pieces on Indian theories of being and what there is; realism and antirealism; the nature of truth and representation; and language and logic. The materials gathered here will enable users to get a grip on the remarkable range of Indian thinking about the structure of the world and its fundamental constitution, as well providing insight into fundamental Indian theories about how we reason and how we talk. With a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editor, this ambitious collection of major works simultaneously presents Indian philosophy as an autonomous intellectual tradition, with its own internal dynamic and approach, while also demonstrating how the richness of this tradition can have a crucial role in a newly emerging global and international discipline of philosophy, a discipline described by the collection’s editor as one ‘in which no one philosophical tradition claims priority for itself, but rather in which a diversity of traditions exchange ideas and grow through their interaction with one another’. (shrink)
This critical review aims to more fully situate the claim Martin Heidegger makes in ‘Letter on Humanism’ that a “productive dialogue” between his work and that of Karl Marx is possible. The prompt for this is Paul Laurence Hemming’s recently published Heidegger and Marx: A Productive Dialogue over the Language of Humanism (2013) which omits to fully account for the historical situation which motivated Heidegger’s seemingly positive endorsement of Marxism. This piece will show that there were significant external factors (...) which influenced Heidegger’s claim and that, when seen within his broader corpus, these particular comments in “Letter on Humanism” are evidently disingenuous, given that his general opinion of Marxism can only be described as vitriolic. Any attempt to explore how such a “productive dialogue” could be construed must fully contextualise Heidegger’s claim for it. This piece will aim to do that, and more broadly explore Heidegger’s general opinion of Marxism. (shrink)
French theorist Luce Irigaray has become one of the twentieth century's most influential feminist thinkers. Among her many writings are three books (with a projected fourth) in which she challenges the Western tradition's construals of human beings' relations to the four elements--earth, air, fire, and water--and to nature. In answer to Heidegger's undoing of Western metaphysics as a "forgetting of Being," Irigaray seeks in this work to begin to think out the Being of sexedness and the sexedness of Being. This (...) volume is the first English translation of L'oubli de l'air chez Martin Heidegger (1983). In this complex, lyrical, meditative engagement with the later work of the eminent German philosopher, Irigaray critiques Heidegger's emphasis on the element of earth as the ground of life and speech and his "oblivion" or forgetting of air. With the other volumes (Elemental Passions and Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche) in Irigaray's "elemental" series, The Forgetting of Air offers a fundamental rereading of basic tenets in Western metaphysics. And with its emphasis on dwelling and human habitation, it will be important reading not only in the humanities but also in architecture and the environmental sciences. (shrink)
Martin Heidegger's overt alliance with the Nazis and the specific relation between this alliance and his philosophical thought - the degree to which his concepts are linked to a thoroughly disreputable set of political beliefs - have been the topic of a storm of recent debate. Written ten years before this debate, this study by France's leading sociologist and cultural theorist is both a precursor of that debate and an analysis of the institutional mechanisms involved in the production of (...) philosophical discourse. Though Heidegger is aware of and acknowledges the legitimacy of purely philosophical issues (in his references to canonic authors, traditional problems, and respect for academic taboos), Bourdieu points out that the complexity and abstraction of Heidegger's philosophical discourse stems from its situation in the cultural field, where two social and intellentual dimensions - political thought and academic thought - intersect. Bourdieu concludes by suggesting that Heidegger should not be considered as a Nazi ideologist, that there is no place in Heidegger's philosophical ideas for a racist conception of the human being. Rather, he sees Heidegger's thought as a structural equivalent in the field of philosophy of the 'conservative revolution', of which nazism is but one manifestation. (shrink)
No one is quite sure what happened to T.S. Eliot in that rose-garden. What we do know is that it formed the basis for Four Quartets, arguably the greatest English poem written in the twentieth century. Luckily it turns out that Martin Heidegger, when not pondering the meaning of being, spent a great deal of time thinking and writing about the kind of event that Eliot experienced. This essay explores how Heidegger developed the concept of Ereignis, “event” which, in (...) the context of Eliot’s poetry, helps us understand an encounter with the “heart of light” a little better. (shrink)
This article juxtaposes two of the most influential thinkers of the previous century, Georges Bataille and Martin Heidegger: my overarching claim will be that a contrastive approach allows a better understanding of two central dynamics within their work. First, I show that both were deeply troubled by a certain methodological anxiety; namely, that the practice of writing might distort and deform their insights. By employing a comparative strategy, I suggest that we can gain a better understanding of the very (...) specific form this fear takes in them: in each case, it is articulated and justified in terms of the ‘chose’ or ‘Ding’ (‘thing’) or the ‘objet’ or ‘Objekt’ (‘object’). Second, I argue that close textual comparison allows us to identify an important, new dimension in their reactions to this shared anxiety: the thing or object which was originally the site of the anxiety gradually becomes, through series of ontological and textual shifts, the solution to it. I track this transformation across a range of case studies including Heidegger’s later work on the term ‘Ding’ and Bataille’s treatment of prostitution. I close by indicating how these results might create avenues for further research. (shrink)