Between 1910 and 1917, Walter Benjamin composed a range of philosophical works and fragmented texts all of which touch upon the concept of youth and its intersection with issues of modernity and theology, faith and political action, religion and secularization, God, and the world. Yet, while scholars have rather extensively discussed Benjamin’s early works on language, literature, and esthetics, less attention has been given to his work on youth. This paper focuses on Benjamin’s writings on youth from these early (...) years. Its aim is to demonstrate how these writings were intended as contributions to the composition of a comprehensive theory of youth, which itself was to combine philosophical discussion with theological imagination. More concretely, by using the example of Meister Eckhart, who is rarely discussed in connection to Benjamin’s thought, the paper shows how Benjamin draws on Christian mystical notions of time, transcendence, and divinity, albeit in a secularized and therefore transformed guise, and how Benjamin’s intellectual endeavor can hence be labeled a modern-mystical theory of youth. (shrink)
In this paper, my aim is to offer some comments on the study of Mu‘tazilite kalām, framed around the study of a particular episode in the Mu‘tazilite dispute about man – a question with a deceptively Aristotelian cadence that is not too difficult to dispel. Within this episode, my focus is on one of the major arguments used by the late Baṣrans to hold up their side of the dispute, and on the relationship between the mental and the physical which (...) emerges from it. The most interesting – and most surprising – aspect of this relationship is that the mental and the physical do not seem to be treated as distinct terms, thus creating the space for questions about how the two relate. The first person perspective seems to be identified with the physical body. My interest then is in the response of the reader to this surprising presentation – or rather, in a certain kind of reader response, and thus a certain kind of interpretive mode, whose value and viability it is part of my aim to help clarify. (shrink)
I argue that T.M. Scanlon's contractualist account of morality has difficulty accommodating our intuitions about the moral relevance of the number of people affected by an action. I first consider the "Complaint Model" of reasonable rejection, which restricts the grounds for an individual's rejection of a principle to its effects upon herself. I argue that it can accommodate our intuitions about numbers only if we assume that, whenever we do not know who will be affected, each individual may appeal only (...) to the _expected effects on her. This assumption, I suggest, leads to counterintuitive results in cases where, although we do not know who will be affected, we do know that _someone will be. I then consider two proposals to supplement the complaint model with a direct appeal to aggregation. I argue that both are open to serious objections. (shrink)
With its pessimistic vision and bleak message of world-denial, it has often been difficult to know how to engage with Schopenhauer's philosophy. Schopenhauer's arguments have seemed flawed and his doctrines marred by inconsistencies; his very pessimism almost too flamboyant to be believable. Yet a way of redrawing this engagement stands open, Sophia Vasalou argues, if we attend more closely to the visionary power of Schopenhauer's work. The aim of this book is to place the aesthetic character of Schopenhauer's standpoint (...) at the heart of the way we read his philosophy and the way we answer the question: why read Schopenhauer - and how? Approaching his philosophy as an enactment of the sublime with a longer history in the ancient philosophical tradition, Vasalou provides a fresh way of assessing Schopenhauer's relevance in critical terms. This book will be valuable for students and scholars with an interest in post-Kantian philosophy and ancient ethics. (shrink)
Aristotle's account of female nature has received mostly negative treatment, emphasising what he says females cannot do. Building on recent research, this book comprehensively revises such readings, setting out the complex and positive role played by the female in Aristotle's thought with a particular focus on the longest surviving treatise on reproduction in the ancient corpus, the Generation of Animals. It provides new interpretations of the nature of Aristotle's sexism, his theory of male and female interaction in generation, and his (...) account of inherited features. It also discusses a range of more general issues which can and should be re-examined in light of Aristotle's account of female animals: his methodology, hylomorphism, teleology and psychology. Aristotle on Female Animals will be valuable to all those interested in Aristotle's philosophy and the history of gender. (shrink)
This paper argues that challenges that are grand in scope such as "lifelong health and wellbeing", "climate action", or "food security" cannot be addressed through scientific research only. Indeed scientific research could inhibit addressing such challenges if scientific analysis constrains the multiple possible understandings of these challenges into already available scientific categories and concepts without translating between these and everyday concerns. This argument builds on work in philosophy of science and race to postulate a process through which non-scientific notions become (...) part of science. My aim is to make this process available to scrutiny: what I call founding everyday ideas in science is both culturally and epistemologically conditioned. Founding transforms a common idea into one or more scientifically relevant ones, which can be articulated into descriptively thicker and evaluatively deflated terms and enable operationalisation and measurement. The risk of founding however is that it can invisibilise or exclude from realms of scientific scrutiny interpretations that are deemed irrelevant, uninteresting or nonsensical in the domain in question-but which may remain salient for addressing grand-in-scope challenges. The paper considers concepts of "wellbeing" in development economics versus in gerontology to illustrate this process. (shrink)
[opening paragraph]: Walter Freeman discusses with Jean Burns some of the issues relating to consciousness in his recent book. Burns: To understand consciousness we need know its relationship to the brain, and to do that we need to know how the brain processes information. A lot of people think of brain processing in terms of individual neurons, and you're saying that brain processing should be understood in terms of dynamical states of populations?
: I argue that there is an important analogy between sex selection and selective abortion of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome. There are surprising parallels between the social construction of Down syndrome as a disability and the deeply entrenched institutionalization of sexual difference in many societies. Prevailing concepts of gender and mental retardation exert a powerful influence in constructing the sexual identities and life plans of people with Down syndrome, and also affect their families' lives.
Walter Burley is the author of a treatise, entitled De primo et ultimo instanti, which is regarded as the most popular medieval work on the problem of assigning first and last instants of being to permanent things. In this paper, however, the author does not deal with this treatise directly. She looks instead at Burley’s Physics commentary to see how he applies the ideas presented in De primo et ultimo instanti to the solution of an Aristotelian puzzle about the (...) ceasing to be of the present instant. In Burley’s interpretation, the relevant question raised by the puzzle is whether the present instant ceases to be when it is or when it is not. While Aristotle’s argument quickly dismisses the first alternative as absurd, Burley defends it by appealing to the ‘expositions’ of sentences about ceasing. Given that the sentence ‘this instant ceases to be’ has two expositions— ‘this instant now is and immediately afterwards will not be’ or ‘this instant now is not and immediately beforehand was’ —Burley maintains that the sentence is true in exposition but not true in exposition, so that an instant ceases to be when it is and not when it is not. (shrink)
I argue that there is an important analogy between sex selection and selective abortion of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome. There are surprising parallels between the social construction of Down syndrome as a disability and the deeply entrenched institutionalization of sexual difference in many societies. Prevailing concepts of gender and mental retardation exert a powerful influence in constructing the sexual identities and life plans of people with Down syndrome, and also affect their families' lives.1.
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Few twentieth-century thinkers have proven as influential as Walter Benjamin, the German-Jewish philosopher and cultural and literary critic. Richard Wolin's book remains among the clearest and most insightful introductions to Benjamin's writings, offering a philosophically rich exposition of his complex relationship to Adorno, Brecht, Jewish Messianism, and Western Marxism. Wolin provides nuanced interpretations of Benjamin's widely studied writings on Baudelaire, historiography, and art in the age of mechanical reproduction. In a new Introduction written especially for this edition, Wolin discusses (...) the unfinished _Arcades Project_, as well as recent tendencies in the reception of Benjamin's work and the relevance of his ideas to contemporary debates about modernity and postmodernity. (shrink)
This article reviews concepts of, as well as neurocognitive and genetic studies on, empathy. Whereas cognitive empathy can be equated with affective theory of mind, that is, with mentalizing the emotions of others, affective empathy is about sharing emotions with others. The neural circuits underlying different forms of empathy do overlap but also involve rather specific brain areas for cognitive (ventromedial prefrontal cortex) and affective (anterior insula, midcingulate cortex, and possibly inferior frontal gyrus) empathy. Furthermore, behavioral and imaging genetic studies (...) provide evidence for a genetic basis for empathy, indicating a possible role for oxytocin and dopamine as well as for a genetic risk variant for schizophrenia near the gene ZNF804A. (shrink)
We propose a multi-agent logic of knowledge, public announcements and arbitrary announcements, interpreted on topological spaces in the style of subset space semantics. The arbitrary announcement modality functions similarly to the effort modality in subset space logics, however, it comes with intuitive and semantic differences. We provide axiomatizations for three logics based on this setting, with S5 knowledge modality, and demonstrate their completeness. We moreover consider the weaker axiomatizations of three logics with S4 type of knowledge and prove soundness and (...) completeness results for these systems. (shrink)
For Aristotle, in making the deliberate choice to incorporate the extensive requirements of the young into the aims of one’s life, people realise their own good. In this paper I will argue that this is a promising way to think about the ethics of care and parenting. Modern theories, which focus on duty and obligation, direct our attention to conflicts of interests in our caring activities. Aristotle’s explanation, in contrast, explains how nurturing others not only develops a core part of (...) the self but also lead to an appreciation of the value of interpersonal relationships. (shrink)
This essay unpacks a seeming paradox: a concept used to formulate, promote, and legitimate oppressive ideologies—a concept used to formulate mistaken, because they were typological, biological theories about human diversity—is, it seems, the same concept that now promises to deliver wonderful, socially sensitized, innovative results in social and genetic epidemiology. But how could that be? How could scientists expect a concept as problematic as ordinary race to deliver useful scientific results? I propose that there is a process for retranslating Ballungen (...) race concepts in appropriate ways to make them fit and work within social scientific and bioscientific contexts. (shrink)
The question of how to treat people with cognitive disabilities poses an important problem for Rawlsian theories of justice because it is unclear whether PCDs are included within the scope of moral personhood. Rawls’s Standard Solution focuses on nondisabled adults as the fundamental case, while later addressing PCDs as marginal cases. I claim that the Standard Solution has two weaknesses. First, it relies on a dichotomy between nondisabled and disabled that is tenuous and difficult to defend. Second, it makes the (...) theory circular in a vicious way. I argue that Rawls’s theory can be revised so that it solves the problem of how to treat PCDs while avoiding the two weaknesses of the Standard Solution. There are three constraints on any successfully revised Rawlsian theory: 1) it must be resourcist rather than welfarist; 2) it must provide some principled basis for limiting our obligations to PCDs; and 3) it must address the whole range of PCDs, including the most severely disabled individuals. (shrink)