Recent historiography of 19th century biology supports the revision of two traditional doctrines about the history of biology. First, the most important and widespread biological debate around the time of Darwin was not evolution versus creation, but biological functionalism versus structuralism. Second, the idealist and typological structuralist theories of the time were not particularly anti-evolutionary. Typological theories provided argumentation and evidence that was crucial to the refutation of Natural Theological creationism. The contrast between functionalist and structuralist approaches to (...) biology continues today, and the historical misunderstanding of 19th century typological biology may be one of its effects. This historical case can shed light on current controversies regarding the relevance of developmental biology to evolution. (shrink)
Akhbārī Shi'ism was "scripturalist" in that Akhbārīs believed that all questions of theology and law could be found in the texts of revelation. There was no need, they believed, to turn to alternative sources . This book offers the first detailed study of the School's doctrines and history.
An integrated overview of history The volume in this series are arranged topically to cover biography, literature, doctrines, practices, institutions, worship, missions, and daily life. Archaeology and art as well as writings are drawn on to illuminate the Christian movement in its early centuries. Ample attention is also given to the relation of Christianity to pagan thought and life, to the Roman state, to Judaism, and to doctrines and practices that came to be judged as heretical or (...) schismatic. Introductions to each volume tie the articles together for an integrated understanding of the history. Offers insights and understanding The aim of the collection is to give balanced and comprehensive coverage, selected on the basis of the following criteria: original and excellent research and writing; subject matter of use to teachers and students; groundbreaking importance for the history of research; background information for issues and opinions. Understanding the development of early Christianity and its impact on Western history and thought offers valuable insights into the modern world and the present state of Christiantiy. It also provides perspective on comparable developments in other periods of history and reveals human nature in its religious dimension. (shrink)
Over 700,000 copies of the original hardcover and paperback editions of this stunningly popular book have been sold. Karen Armstrong's superbly readable exploration of how the three dominant monotheistic religions of the world—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have shaped and altered the conception of God is a tour de force. One of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, Armstrong traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. From classical (...) philosophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one compelling volume. (shrink)
In this book, award-winning historian of religion Paula Fredriksen tells the surprising story of early Christian concepts of sin, exploring the ways that sin came to shape ideas about God no less than about humanity.
Historians often feel that standard philosophical doctrines about the nature and development of science are not adequate for representing the real history of science. However, when philosophers of science fail to make sense of certain historical events, it is also possible that there is something wrong with the standard historical descriptions of those events, precluding any sensible explanation. If so, philosophical failure can be useful as a guide for improving historiography, and this constitutes a significant mode of productive (...) interaction between the history and the philosophy of science. I illustrate this methodological claim through the case of the Chemical Revolution. I argue that no standard philosophical theory of scientific method can explain why European chemists made a sudden and nearly unanimous switch of allegiance from the phlogiston theory to Lavoisier's theory. A careful re-examination of the history reveals that the shift was neither so quick nor so unanimous as imagined even by many historians. In closing I offer brief reflections on how best to explain the general drift toward Lavoisier's theory that did take place. (shrink)
The article deals with the question of the value of the history of philosophy for philosophical research. In the first part, it proposes a classification of possible functions realized by references to the philosophical tradition in a philosophical treatise. The proposed typology is meant as a practical tool for identifying and comparing the usage of the past in philosophical texts of any historical period. The second part of the paper illustrates how the classification can be employed by applying it (...) to determine the functions of Aristotle’s discussions of the pre-Socratic doctrines in Metaphysics A. (shrink)
This paper uses analogies between Socratic and Wittgenseinian dialogues to argue that analytic philosophy of history should not be abandoned. -/- In their responses to my paper ‘In Defence of Four Socratic Doctrines’ James Warren and John Shand raised a number of important methodological objections, relating to the study of the history of philosophy. I here respond by questioning the supremacy of contextualist history of philosophy over the so-called ‘analytic’ approach. I conclude that the history (...) of ideas had better leave space for both approaches, and that it is a mistake to think of each as being in competition with the other. (shrink)
Ralph R. Acampora - Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy - Journal of the History of Philosophy 44:3 Journal of the History of Philosophy 44.3 480-481 Gary Steiner. Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005. Pp. ix + 332. Cloth, $37.50. In this text Steiner surveys the history of doctrines, attitudes, and (...) beliefs about the ethical standing of animals. Unsurprisingly, he finds that the mainstream of thought in this area manifests "an underlying logic: that all and only human beings are worthy of moral consideration, because all and only human beings are rational and endowed with language" . This neatly expresses the anthropocentrism identified in the.. (shrink)
Ralph R. Acampora - Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy - Journal of the History of Philosophy 44:3 Journal of the History of Philosophy 44.3 480-481 Gary Steiner. Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005. Pp. ix + 332. Cloth, $37.50. In this text Steiner surveys the history of doctrines, attitudes, and (...) beliefs about the ethical standing of animals. Unsurprisingly, he finds that the mainstream of thought in this area manifests "an underlying logic: that all and only human beings are worthy of moral consideration, because all and only human beings are rational and endowed with language". This neatly expresses the anthropocentrism identified in the... (shrink)
The study of philosophical terms and doctrines in the Mahābhārata touches not only on important aspects of the contents, composition and the historical contexts of the epic, but also on the historiography of Indian philosophy. General ideas about the textual history of the epic and the distinction between “didactic” and “narrative” parts have influenced the study of epic philosophy no less than academic discussions about what is philosophy in India and how it developed. This results in different evaluations (...) of the place of philosophical texts in the epic and their relationship to the history of Indian philosophy. While some scholars have suggested that there is a “philosophy of the epic” its composers wished to propagate, others have argued that “philosophy” is included in the epic either in a “proto” form or in a variety of doctrines they deemed relevant. The article discusses these views and some of the heuristic assumptions on which they are based. It proposes to widen the scope of analysis by paying more attention to the interplay of narrative and didactic passages, the various ways in which philosophy is presented in the epic, and its connection to a larger spectrum of the reception of philosophy in textual genres and by audiences outside the expert circles of the philosophical schools. (shrink)
The organism is neither a discovery like the circulation of the blood or the glycogenic function of the liver, nor a particular biological theory like epigenesis or preformationism. It is rather a concept which plays a series of roles – sometimes overt, sometimes masked – throughout the history of biology, and frequently in very normative ways, also shifting between the biological and the social. Indeed, it has often been presented as a key-concept in life science and the ‘theorization’ of (...) Life, but conversely has also been the target of influential rejections: as just an instrument of transmission for the selfish gene, but also, historiographically, as part of an outdated ‘vitalism’. Indeed, the organism, perhaps because it is experientially closer to the ‘body’ than to the ‘molecule’, is often the object of quasi-affective theoretical investments presenting it as essential, sometimes even as the pivot of a science or a particular approach to nature, while other approaches reject or attack it with equal force, assimilating it to a mysterious ‘vitalist’ ontology of extra-causal forces, or other pseudo-scientific doctrines. This paper does not seek to adjudicate between these debates, either in terms of scientific validity or historical coherence; nor does it return to the well-studied issue of the organism-mechanism tension in biology. Recent scholarship has begun to focus on the emergence and transformation of the concept of organism, but has not emphasized so much the way in which organism is a shifting, ‘go-between’ concept – invoked as ‘natural’ by some thinkers to justify their metaphysics, but then presented as value-laden by others, over and against the natural world. The organism as go-between concept is also a hybrid, a boundary concept or an epistemic limit case, all of which partly overlap with the idea of ‘nomadic concepts’. Thereby the concept of organism continues to function in different contexts – as a heuristic, an explanatory challenge, a model of order, of regulation, etc. – despite having frequently been pronounced irrelevant and reduced to molecules or genes. Yet this perpetuation is far removed from any ‘metaphysics of organism’, or organismic biology. (shrink)
The organism is neither a discovery like the circulation of the blood or the glycogenic function of the liver, nor a particular biological theory like epigenesis or preformationism. It is rather a concept which plays a series of roles, sometimes masked, often normative, throughout the history of biology. Indeed, it has often been presented as a key-concept in life science and its ‘theorization’, but conversely has also been the target of influential rejections: as just an instrument of transmission for (...) the selfish gene, but also, historiographically, as part of an outdated ‘vitalism’. Indeed, the organism, perhaps because it is experientially closer to the ‘body’ than to the ‘molecule’, is often the object of quasi-affective theoretical investments presenting it as essential, as the pivot of a science or a particular approach to nature, while other approaches reject or attack it with equal force, assimilating it to a mysterious ‘vitalist’ ontology of extra-causal forces, or other pseudo-scientific doctrines. I do not seek to adjudicate between these debates, either regarding scientific validity or historical coherence; nor do I return to the well-studied issue of the organism-mechanism tension in biology. Recent scholarship has begun to discuss the emergence and transformation of the organism concept, but has not emphasized the way the latter is a shifting, ‘go-between’ concept – invoked as ‘natural’ by some thinkers to justify their metaphysics, but then presented as value-laden by others, over and against the natural world. The organism as go-between concept is also a hybrid, a boundary concept or a limit case, which continues to function in different contexts – as a heuristic, an explanatory challenge, a model of order, of regulation, etc. – despite having frequently been pronounced irrelevant and reduced to molecules or genes. Yet this perpetuation is far removed from any ‘metaphysics of organism’, or organismic biology. (shrink)
Hegel's logic provides a basis for an interpretation of his philosophy of history and political theory which avoids many of the difficulties that traditionally have been associated with his views, leaving us with a clear and useful model of modern political interaction. The unification of content and form provides for the inherently historicist features of the model, that resolve the traditional dichotomy of description and prescription by presenting the state as a historical process, developing through the opposition between the (...) normative claims of its constituents and the determinate socio-political arrangements existing at any particular stage in its history. The discussion begins with a brief examination of Hegel's doctrines of the concept and the _idea, which it subsequently applies to an interpretation of his concepts of _Sittlichkeit and the state. (shrink)
Summary Historians of science have neglected early modern natural philosophers' varied attitudes to the history of philosophy, often preferring to use loose labels such as ?Epicureanism? to describe the survival of ancient doctrines. This is methodologically inappropriate: reifying such philosophical movements tells us little about the complex ways in which early modern natural philosophers approached the history of their own discipline. As this article shows, a central figure of early modern natural philosophy, Robert Boyle, invested great intellectual (...) energy into his depiction of the history of philosophy. Boyle's historical worldview was mediated through an array of textual traditions: classical, patristic, humanist and contemporary. Drawing extensively on his manuscript notes, this is examined for three topics. First, from his turn to natural philosophy in the late 1640s, Boyle combined a sceptical attitude towards philosophy's potential ? stemming from humanist historicisations of the ?speculative? heritage of Greek philosophy ? with a belief in natural philosophy's efficacy as a spiritual exercise, as performed by ancient ?priests of nature?. Second, Boyle's attitude to the history of matter theory was far more complex than any simple comparison with ?ancient atomism? can convey. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Boyle held Epicurus to be a speculative and reductionist philosopher, leading him to posit a different lineage for a non-reductionist corpuscularianism which depended on exploitation of non-standard historiographical traditions. Appreciating this allows us to make an intervention in the ongoing debate about the relationship between corpuscularianism, chymistry and experiment in Boyle's philosophy. Third, Boyle's historicisation of supposedly anthropomorphic philosophies in his famous Free Enquiry (1686) exploited recent theological historiography, most importantly Samuel Parker's combination of the history of idolatry with the history of Greek philosophy, which itself relied on developments in continental sacred history. It was this historicisation, rather than any philosophical realities, which led to the positing of the mechanical philosophy as more compatible than Aristotelianism with Christian doctrine. (shrink)
The medieval doctrine of God as first known presents a privileged moment in a tradition of classical metaphysics that runs from Plato to Levinas. The presentcontribution analyzes two versions of this doctrine formulated by Bonaventure († 1274) and Henry of Ghent († 1293). In reaction to the preceding discussion inParis, they advance a doctrine of God as first known that distinguishes the relative priority of God within the first known transcendental concepts from the absolutepriority of God over these. Although their (...) two-staged doctrines of God as first known structurally agree, they vary in their strategical embedding. Underlying this variation is a transformation of the concept of reality that abstracts actuality as a standard and criterion to the determination of the first known. As such, thisconcept of reality gives rise to the very idea of neutral existence against which Levinas objects. (shrink)
I here respond to James Warren and John Shand's replies to my paper ‘In Defence of Four Socratic Doctrines’ by questioning the supremacy of contextualist history of philosophy over the so-called ‘analytic’ approach.
I here respond to James Warren and John Shand's replies to my paper ‘In Defence of Four Socratic Doctrines’ by questioning the supremacy of contextualist history of philosophy over the so-called ‘analytic’ approach.
The article discusses the history of monotheism from the earliest times to the present. It begins with arguments against the notion of monotheists as an evolutionarily early stage in religion and then proceeds to characterize monotheism in the Old testament. The view that there was every a pre‐monotheistic phase of one ‘national God’ is called into question, along with the priority of the ‘God of history’ over the creator God. Association of the divine with social justice is shown (...) to be common to the ancient Near East as a whole; however, Israelite monotheism, it is argued, was associated with a kind of conservatism which preserved more features of an oral and gift‐exchange culture, while calling into question the more fetishistic aspects of such culture. Monotheism, it is claimed, is what refutes both myth and rationalism, while the superiority of one God to many gods is defended in connection with the theme of peace. The final section deals with the three monotheistic faiths, and argues that Christianity, with its doctrines of incarnation and the Trinity, is not qualifying monotheism and its distinctive features as just adumbrated, but on the contrary developing it in the purest and most consistent form. (shrink)
One can sympathize with [Leo] Strauss' ultimate aim—to protect the validity of moral judgment against that form of relativism which would assess the value of great philosophic works simply in terms of how they satisfied the needs of the times for which they were written. But in believing that "historicism " meant "relativism," and that all attention to the temporal relevance of great doctrines in the history of ideas was somehow perverse, Strauss was profoundly mistaken. Hermeneutics is not (...) axiology. Questions of truth and validity are fundamental, but they are dependent upon a prior solution of the problem of meaning. And for the establishment of meaning, contextual analysis is crucial. For it is not as if ideas were the ghostly inhabitants of another world, logically cut off from human purposes and intentions. All three things exist: ideas, agents, and social contexts, and the best history of ideas is, I believe, constituted by the careful consideration of the multiple interrelationships between them. It is false to believe that texts exhaust their own meaning. For there is always an historical grounding and a web of person and social events that give them wider and deeper significance. And this is precisely why we must ask such questions as: What sort of society was the author writing for and trying to persuade? What were the conventions of communication and the literary forms of discourse current at the time? What was the author's class affiliation, his place in the social hierarchy of his age? And perhaps above all: What were his moral commitments, the structure of his ideals? Albert William Levi, David May Distinguished University Professor of the Humanities at Washington University, Saint Louis, is the author of Philosophy and the Modern World; Literature, Philosophy and the Imagination; Humanism and Politics; and Philosophy as Social Expression, and The Idea of Culture. His "Culture: A Guess at the Riddle" appeared in Critical Inquiry, Winter 1977. (shrink)
This volume a translation of a mid-nineteenth century work on the history of Christian dogma by Ferdinand Christian Baur, who brilliantly applied Hegelian categories to his historical studies in New Testament, church history, and history of Christian dogma. "Dogma" for him is the rational articulation of the Christian "idea" or principle-the idea that God and humanity are united in Christ and reconciled through the faith of the spiritual community. Baur offers a unique perspective on the whole of (...) Christian intellectual history, and readers will find that his detailed analyses provide a wealth of information on individual thinkers and doctrines that is still relevant today. (shrink)
A common method for warranting the historical adequacy of philosophical claims is that of relying on historical case studies. This paper addresses the question as to what evidential support historical case studies can provide to philosophical claims and doctrines. It argues that in order to assess the evidential functions of historical case studies, we first need to understand the methodology involved in producing them. To this end, an account of historical reconstruction that emphasizes the narrative character of historical accounts (...) and the theory-laden character of historical facts is introduced. The main conclusion of this paper is that historical case studies are able to provide philosophical claims with some evidential support, but that, due to theory-ladenness, their evidential import is restricted. (shrink)
The very idea of narrative explanation invites two objections: a methodological objection, stating that narrative structure is too far from the form of a scientific explanation to count as an explanation, and a metaphysical objection, stating that narrative structure situates historical practice too close to the writing of fiction. Both of these objections, however, are illfounded. The methodological objection and the dispute regarding the status of historical explanation can be disposed of by revealing their motivating presupposition: the plausibility of an (...) exclusivist explication of explanation which appeals either to the unity-of-method thesis or some implicit notion of analytic equivalence, both problematic philosophical doctrines. The metaphysical objection fails with the rejection of the idea, in Mink's phrase, of an "untold story." The argument against history as an "untold story" develops from Danto's image of an Ideal Chronicler recording ideal events. A consequence of rejecting this view is that it no longer makes sense to speak of historical narratives as true or false. However, this failure engenders no special problem for assessing the objectivity or explanatory utility of narratives qua explanations. (shrink)
The 1929 between Martin Heidegger and Ernst Cassirer has long been viewed by intellectual historians as a paradigmatic event not only for its philosophical meaning but also for its apparently cultural-political ramifications. But such interpretations easily lend legitimacy to a broader and recently ascendant intellectual-historical trend that would reduce philosophy to an allegorical expression of ostensibly more or instrumentalist meanings. However, as this essay tries to show, the core of the dispute between Cassirer and Heidegger is irreducibly philosophical: the Davos (...) debate brought into focus the emergent themes of the so-called of the 1920s, and cast new light upon neo-Kantian doctrines as to the status of objectivity and the possibility for intersubjective consensus in both knowledge and ethics. The Davos encounter cannot be retroactively decided on political or cultural grounds, since it concerns just that unresolved tension between transcendentalism and hermeneutics that is itself constitutive of intellectual history as a discipline. (shrink)
This book traces the development of conceptions of God and the relationship between God's being and activity from Aristotle, through the pagan Neoplatonists, to thinkers such as Augustine, Boethius and Aquinas and Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor and Gregory Palamas. The result is a comparative history of philosophical thought in the two halves of Christendom, providing a philosophical backdrop to the schism between the Eastern and Western Churches.