Ad hominem arguments are generally dismissed on the grounds that they are not attempts to engage in rational discourse, but are rather aimed at undermining argument by diverting attention from claims made to assessments of character of persons making claims. The manner of this dismissal however is based upon an unlikely paradigm of rationality: it is based upon the presumption that our intellectual capacities are not as limited as in fact they are, and do not vary as much as they (...) do between rational people. When we understand rationality in terms of intellectual virtues, however, which recognize these limitations and provide for the complexity of our thinking, ad hominem considerations can sometimes be relevant to assessing arguments. (shrink)
Is experiential evidence irrelevant to acceptance or rejection of belief in the existence of a Divine Being? Charles Hartshorne answers that it is indeed irrelevant, and this answer has an initial and, for me, continuing surprising ring to it. Specifically, Hartshorne makes two distinguishable claims: the traditional allegedly a posteriori arguments, the teleological and cosmological, are in fact incompatible with empiricist methodology and are disguised ontological arguments; the conception of God as necessary being demands that belief in such a being's (...) existence or non-existence in no way depend upon empirical evidence. On the contrary, I shall argue, first, that empirical evidence for God is truly empirical and second, that there is no incompatibility between empirical evidence and necessary existence. My argument will involve an attempt to understand and clarify somewhat the very difficult concepts of ‘experience’ and ‘necessity’ as they arise in the context of religious epistemology. I wish to make clear at the outset that my aim is not to eliminate ontological arguments for God in favour of empirical arguments, for I believe that Hartshorne's work on the modal ontological argument contributes substantially to providing grounds for reasonable belief in theism. Rather, my purpose is to show that ontological and empirical patterns of theistic argumentation are neither incompatible with each other nor reducible to each other. (shrink)
Of all the kinds of arguments that philosophers use to support their conclusions, the one type that I find personally to stick longest and most vividly in my mind is the verbal pictures they occasionally draw. Whether this is a result of the fact that I myself think best in pictorial terms or, as I would rather like to believe, is a tribute to the verbal artistry of the writers themselves, it remains true that, for me, the history of philosophy (...) is punctuated with pictures, some pleasing and others perplexing. I need hardly mention Plato; with the Allegory of the Cave, the Myth of Er, the Charioteer of the Soul, and countless others he is beyond question the supreme master of the art. But other examples easily come to mind. I see Descartes seated in solitude before the fire in his dressing gown, suddenly to be surprised by a malignant demon, who appears at his shoulder to whisper insinuatingly into his ear that 2 plus 2 does not equal 4 at all. Or William James on a camping trip with friends trying to decide whether one of their number who keeps circling a tree on which a squirrel clings - and in turn circles the tree at equal speed, keeping the tree between him and his tormenter and never permitting the latter to get into a position behind his back - does or does not circle the squirrel, as he undoubtedly does circle the tree to which the squirrel clings. Or, I see G. E. Moore - and it is this picture that gives rise to the present paper - carefully contemplating two complete, independent, and quite different worlds, trying to decide which of the two is intrinsically better than the other. (shrink)
Drawing on philosophical thought from the eighteenth century as well as conceptual frameworks developed in the twenty-first century, the essays in Beyond Sense and Sensibility examine moral formation as represented in or implicitly produced by literary works of late eighteenth-century British authors.
Using path-breaking discoveries of cognitive science, Mark Johnson argues that humans are fundamentally imaginative moral animals, challenging the view that morality is simply a system of universal laws dictated by reason. According to the Western moral tradition, we make ethical decisions by applying universal laws to concrete situations. But Johnson shows how research in cognitive science undermines this view and reveals that imagination has an essential role in ethical deliberation. Expanding his innovative studies of human reason in Metaphors (...) We Live By and The Body in the Mind, Johnson provides the tools for more practical, realistic, and constructive moral reflection. (shrink)
In _The Meaning of the Body_, Mark Johnson continues his pioneering work on the exciting connections between cognitive science, language, and meaning first begun in the classic _Metaphors We Live By_. Johnson uses recent research into infant psychology to show how the body generates meaning even before self-consciousness has fully developed. From there he turns to cognitive neuroscience to further explore the bodily origins of meaning, thought, and language and examines the many dimensions of meaning—including images, qualities, emotions, (...) and metaphors—that are all rooted in the body’s physical encounters with the world. Drawing on the psychology of art and pragmatist philosophy, Johnson argues that all of these aspects of meaning-making are fundamentally aesthetic. He concludes that the arts are the culmination of human attempts to find meaning and that studying the aesthetic dimensions of our experience is crucial to unlocking meaning's bodily sources. Throughout, Johnson puts forth a bold new conception of the mind rooted in the understanding that philosophy will matter to nonphilosophers only if it is built on a visceral connection to the world. “Mark Johnson demonstrates that the aesthetic and emotional aspects of meaning are fundamental—central to conceptual meaning and reason, and that the arts show meaning-making in its fullest realization. If you were raised with the idea that art and emotion were external to ideas and reason, you must read this book. It grounds philosophy in our most visceral experience.”—George Lakoff, author of _Moral Politics_. (shrink)
Monte Johnson examines one of the most controversial aspects of Aristiotle's natural philosophy: his teleology. Is teleology about causation or explanation? Does it exclude or obviate mechanism, determinism, or materialism? Is it focused on the good of individual organisms, or is god or man the ultimate end of all processes and entities? Is teleology restricted to living things, or does it apply to the cosmos as a whole? Does it identify objectively existent causes in the world, or is it (...) merely a heuristic for our understanding of other causal processes? Johnson argues that Aristotle's aporetic approach drives a middle course between these traditional oppositions, and avoids the dilemma, frequently urged against teleology, between backwards causation and anthropomorphism. Although these issues have been debated with extraordinary depth by Aristotle scholars, and touched upon by many in the wider philosophical and scientific community as well, there has been no comprehensive historical treatment of the issue. Aristotle is commonly considered the inventor of teleology, although the precise term originated in the eighteenth century. But if teleology means the use of ends and goals in natural science, then Aristotle was rather a critical innovator of teleological explanation. Teleological notions were widespread among his predecessors, but Aristotle rejected their conception of extrinsic causes such as mind or god as the primary causes for natural things. Aristotle's radical alternative was to assert nature itself as an internal principle of change and an end, and his teleological explanations focus on the intrinsic ends of natural substances - those ends that benefit the natural thing itself. Aristotle's use of ends was subsequently conflated with incompatible 'teleological' notions, including proofs for the existence of a providential or designer god, vitalism and animism, opposition to mechanism and non-teleological causation, and anthropocentrism. Johnson addresses these misconceptions through an elaboration of Aristotle's methodological statements, as well as an examination of the explanations actually offered in the scientific works. Reviewed in: Notre Dame Philosophical Review 2006.06.15; Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2006.08.37; Il-Sole – 24 Ore 6 Aug. 2006; Philosophy in Review 26 (2006): 360-2; Rhizai 3 (2006): 171-8; Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (2007): 323-4; Ancient Philosophy 27 (2007): 191-200; Phronesis 52 (2007): 248-9; Isis 98 (2007): 375; Aestimatio 4 (2007) 146-152; The British Journal for the History of Science 41 (2008): 129-130. The European Legacy 14 (2009); La Cultura 47 (2009): 174-175; Sean M. Row, Teleology in Political Contexts: an assessment of Monte Ransome Johnson’s “Aristotle on Teleology”. (A thesis presented to the faculty of the college of arts and sciences of Ohio University, 2009.). (shrink)
William Ernest Johnson was a renowned British logician and economist, and also a fellow of King's College, Cambridge. Originally published in 1921, this book forms the first of a three-volume series by Johnson relating to 'the whole field of logic as ordinarily understood'. The series is widely regarded as Johnson's greatest achievement, making a significant contribution to the tradition of philosophical logic. This book will be of value to anyone with an interest in Johnson's theories, philosophy (...) and the historical development of logic. (shrink)
We are pleased to release this edition of Ralph Johnson’s The Rise of Informal Logic as Volume 2 in the series Windsor Studies in Argumentation. This edition is a reprint of the previous Vale Press edition with some typographical errors and other minor mistakes corrected. The prime motive for gathering Ralph H. Johnson’s essays under one cover is their clear articulation of the goals, concerns and problems of the discipline of informal logic. To my knowledge all of the (...) published articles, even of the 1980s, are still in print. But some are obtainable only by special request of a journal back issue. Their availability, even their existence, is not nearly widely enough known, and this volume is dedicated to remedying that disservice to those currently working in the field of informal logic, critical thinking, argumentation, and practical reasoning. Three of these sixteen pieces appear here in print for the first time. The previously published pieces have appeared from 1980 to 1992 as chapters in collective works or as articles in journals, and these in turn published in Canada, USA, The Netherlands and Belgium. It is hoped that gathering this hitherto scattered material under one cover will contribute to a greater understanding of what informal logic is, and to an enhanced sense of the impact of Johnson’s ideas. A discipline of informal logic might exist today without the writings of Johnson and his frequent co-author, J. Anthony Blair. But it would almost certainly be quite different from what it actually is. (shrink)
What is the difference between right and wrong? This is no easy question to answer, yet we constantly try to make it so, frequently appealing to some hidden cache of cut-and-dried absolutes, whether drawn from God, universal reason, or societal authority. Combining cognitive science with a pragmatist philosophical framework in Morality for Humans: Ethical Understanding from the Perspective of Cognitive Science, Mark Johnson argues that appealing solely to absolute principles and values is not only scientifically unsound but even morally (...) suspect. He shows that the standards for the kinds of people we should be and how we should treat one another—which we often think of as universal—are in fact frequently subject to change. And we should be okay with that. Taking context into consideration, he offers a remarkably nuanced, naturalistic view of ethics that sees us creatively adapt our standards according to given needs, emerging problems, and social interactions. Ethical naturalism is not just a revamped form of relativism. Indeed, Johnson attempts to overcome the absolutist-versus-relativist impasse that has been one of the most intractable problems in the history of philosophy. He does so through a careful and inclusive look at the many ways we reason about right and wrong. Much of our moral thought, he shows, is automatic and intuitive, gut feelings that we follow up and attempt to justify with rational analysis and argument. However, good moral deliberation is not limited merely to intuitive judgments supported after the fact by reasoning. Johnson points out a crucial third element: we imagine how our decisions will play out, how we or the world would change with each action we might take. Plumbing this imaginative dimension of moral reasoning, he provides a psychologically sophisticated view of moral problem solving, one perfectly suited for the embodied, culturally embedded, and ever-developing human creatures that we are. (shrink)
Porphyry, a native of Phoenicia educated in Athens and Rome during the third century AD, was one of the most important Platonic philosophers of his age. In this book, Professor Johnson rejects the prevailing modern approach to his thought, which has posited an early stage dominated by 'Oriental' superstition and irrationality followed by a second rationalizing or Hellenizing phase consequent upon his move west and exposure to Neoplatonism. Based on a careful treatment of all the relevant remains of Porphyry's (...) originally vast corpus, he argues for a complex unity of thought in terms of philosophical translation. The book explores this philosopher's critical engagement with the processes of Hellenism in late antiquity. It provides the first comprehensive examination of all the strands of Porphyry's thought that lie at the intersection of religion, theology, ethnicity and culture. (shrink)
In this elegant new study Galen Johnson retrieves the concept of the beautiful through the framework of Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetics. Although Merleau-Ponty seldom spoke directly of beauty, his philosophy is essentially about the beautiful. In Johnson’s formulation, the ontology of Flesh as element and the ontology of the Beautiful as elemental are folded together, for Desire, Love, and Beauty are part of the fabric of the world’s element, Flesh itself, the term at which Merleau-Ponty arrived to replace Substance, Matter, (...) or Life as the name of Being. Merleau-Ponty’s _Eye and Mind _is at the core of the book, so Johnson engages, as Merleau-Ponty did, the writings and visual work of Paul Cézanne, Auguste Rodin, and Paul Klee, as well as Rilke’s commentary on Cézanne and Rodin. From these widely varying aesthetics emerge the fundamental themes of the retrieval of the beautiful: desire, repetition, difference, rhythm, and the sublime. The third part of Johnson’s book takes each of these up in turn, bringing Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetic thinking into dialogue with classical philosophy as well as Sartre, Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Deleuze. Johnson concludes his final chapter with a direct dialogue with Kant and Merleau-Ponty, and also Lyotard, on the subject of the beautiful and the sublime. As we experience with Rodin’s _Balzac_, beauty and the sublime blend into one another when the beautiful grows powerful, majestic, mysterious, and transcendent. (shrink)
Lawrence Johnson advocates a major change in our attitude toward the nonhuman world. He argues that nonhuman animals, and ecosystems themselves, are morally significant beings with interests and rights. The author considers recent work in environmental ethics in the introduction and then presents his case with the utmost precision and clarity. Written in an attractive, nontechnical style, the book will be of particular interest to philosophers, environmentalists and ecologists.
'Since the middle of the twentieth century,' writes Elizabeth Johnson, 'there has been a renaissance of new insights into God in the Christian tradition. On different continents, under pressure from historical events and social conditions, people of faith have glimpsed the living God in fresh ways. It is not that a wholly different God is discovered from the One believed in by previous generations. Christian faith does not believe in a new God but, finding itself in new situations, seeks (...) the presence of God there. Aspects long-forgotten are brought into new relationships with current events, and the depths of divine compassion are appreciated in ways not previously imagined.' This book sets out the fruit of these discoveries. The first chapter describes Johnson's point of departure and the rules of engagement, with each succeeding chapter distilling a discrete idea of God. Featured are transcendental, political, liberation, feminist, black, Hispanic, interreligious, and ecological theologies, ending with the particular Christian idea of the one God as Trinity. >. (shrink)
Review of Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Meulen and Guy Kahane eds., Enhancing Human Capacities Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s12152-011-9148-y Authors Thomas Johnson, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia Journal Neuroethics Online ISSN 1874-5504 Print ISSN 1874-5490.
Is there any moral obligation to improve oneself, to foster and develop various capacities in oneself? From a broadly Kantian point of view, Self-Improvement defends the view that there is such an obligation and that it is an obligation that each person owes to him or herself. The defence addresses a range of arguments philosophers have mobilized against this idea, including the argument that it is impossible to owe anything to yourself, and the view that an obligation to improve onself (...) is overly 'moralistic'. Robert N. Johnson argues against Kantian universalization arguments for the duty of self-improvement, as well as arguments that bottom out in a supposed value humanity has. At the same time, he defends a position based on the notion that self- and other-respecting agents would, under the right circumstances, accept the principle of self-improvement and would leave it up to each to be the person to whom this duty is owed. (shrink)
In this article, Matthew Johnson examines the possibility of using elements of John Gray's work to advance a means of evaluating cultures, in order to inform the development of pluralist perfectionist forms of public policy and, in particular, educational programs. Johnson engages critically with elements of Gray's value pluralism, such as his understanding of the objectivity and universality in human values, needs, and well‐being; determinacy of circumstance; and particularity with regard to the selection of values. These elements support (...) an instrumental account of culture in which a group's choice of values is assessed according to their contribution to well‐being. Johnson then considers the potential conflict between pluralism and perfectionism in the development of education systems in heterogeneous societies, highlighting the harms inflicted on the identity, meaning, and security of particular groups by attempts to promote well‐being. Johnson concludes the article with an exploration of possible means of minimizing harm through pragmatic engagement with identity and circumstance. (shrink)
Focusing on Truth explores the question of what truth is, balancing historical with issue-orientated discussion. The book offers a comprehensive survey of all the major theories of truth. Lawrence Johnson investigates a number of closely related matters of truth in his inquiry, such as: What sorts of things are true or false? What is attributed to them when they are said to be true or false? What do facts have to do with truth? What can we learn from previous (...) theories? The book opens with an analysis of the coherence theory of truth and then the correspondence theory of truth, as developed by Moore, Russell and Wittgenstein. Through a study of the semantic conceptions of truth, the author reveals that an adequate theory of truth must take account of the pragmatics of person, purpose, and circumstance. A full understanding of facts and truth bearers is considered central to Johnson's criticism of the opposing truth theories of J. L. Austin and P. F. Strawson. Drawing on the merits of these theories and others, while identifying their deficiencies, Johnson presents a new account of truth, based on the correlation of referential foci and the use of linguistic conventions. This account is defended as being adequate to meet the legitimate demands made on a theory of truth. Johnson argues that the account leaves scope for statements of many different sorts to be true in their own widely varying ways, without the existence of a need to posit fundamentally different kinds of truth. (shrink)
The author, head of a teaching hospital surgical unit, argues that the medical curriculum must ensure that all students are exposed to a minimum of ethical discussion and decision-making. In describing his own approach he emphasises the need to show students that it is 'an intensely practical subject'. Moreover, he reminds them that moral dilemmas in medicine--perhaps a better term than medical ethics--are unavoidable in clinical practice. Professor Johnson emphasises the need for small group teaching and discussion of real (...) cases, preferably chosen and 'worked up' by individual students. He suggests that ethical issues could profitably be introduced into written, oral and clinical examinations. (shrink)
Cornel West's reputation as a public and celebrity intellectual has overshadowed his important contributions to philosophy. Professor Clarence Shole Johnson provides a rectification of this situation in this benchmark, thought-provoking book. After a brief biographical sketch, Johnson leads us through a comprehensive examination of West's philosophy from his conceptions of pragmatism, existentialism, Marxism, and Prophetic Christianity to his persuasive writings on black-Jewish relations, affirmative action, and the role of black intellectuals. Special focus is given to West's writings on (...) ethics and social justice, and how these inform his entire theoretical framework. Cornel West and Philosophy is a unique and indispensable guide to West's diverse philosophical writings. (shrink)
GREGORY R. JOHNSON and DAVID RASMUSSEN argue that Rand's defense of abortion on demand is inconsistent with her own fundamental metaphysical, epistemological, and moral principles, namely that everything that exists has a determinate identity, that the concept of man refers to all of man's characteristics, not just his essential characteristics, and that there is no gap between what an organism truly is and what it ought to be.
GREGORY R. JOHNSON examines the link between Ayn Rand's ethics, which can be broadly characterized as Aristotelian, and her political philosophy, which can be broadly characterized as classical liberalism of the Lockean, natural rights variety. He maintains that Rand's argument for classical liberalism on the basis of the objectivity of values fails because of a reductionistic and excessively intellectualistic conception of human nature. In addition to discussing Rand's arguments, he surveys the Rand-influenced work of Douglas B. Rasmussen and Douglas (...) J. Den Uyl, as well as Tibor R. Machan and Tara Smith. (shrink)
GREGORY R. JOHNSON and DAVID RASMUSSEN defend their critique of Ayn Rand's views on abortion, arguing that their critics miss its main points. Tibor Machan and Alexander Tabarrok actually depart from Rand's own position under the guise of defending it; they introduce a non-Randian distinction between being a human organism and being a moral person.
In this reflection piece, Ralph Johnson provides an account of the development of informal logic and how it intersected with the Critical Thinking Movement. Section I is an account of the origins of what Johnson calls the “Informal Logic Initiative.” Section II discusses how the Informal Logic Initiative connected with the Critical Thinking Movement at the Sonoma State University Conferences starting in 1981. Section III discusses the relationship between logic and critical thinking. Section IV describes “The Network Problem,” (...) which emerged for Johnson in the mid-1980s – largely as a result of his experiences at critical thinking conferences, especially the Sonoma State conference. Section V expresses some concerns about the current status of critical thinking as an educational idea and about the Critical Thinking Movement. (shrink)
This is an important new critical analysis of Derrida's theory of writing, based on close readings of key texts. It reveals a dimension of Derrida's thinking that has been neglected in favor of those "deconstructionist" cliches favored by much recent literary criticism. Christopher Johnson highlights the special character of Derrida's philosophy that comes from his contact with contemporary natural science and with systems theory. This study casts new light on an exacting set of intellectual issues facing philosophy and critical (...) theory today. (shrink)
Many readers encounter the history and mythology of the Illuminati for the first time in the course of reading Angels & Demons. They typically wonder if the Illuminati is a real organization in history and, if so, how much of Dan Brown’s description is accurate. To help answer that question, we turned to George Johnson, the well-known New York Times science writer. Johnson shares several interests with Dan Brown and fans of Angels & Demons: He has written extensively (...) about the conflicts and confluences of science and religion (including contributing an essay on that topic elsewhere in this volume). He has written about quantum physics and antimatter. And, as it turns out, he has written a book that deals extensively with the Order of Illuminati, its history, and the uses of myths and legends about the strange organization by (mostly right-wing) modern conspiracy theorists. That book, Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American Politics, was published in 1983 and remains a veritable gold mine of hard fact and analysis about the real history of the Illuminati. Even more important than the factual history presented by Johnson is his description of the vast web of myth that has grown.. (shrink)
Gregory R. Johnson and David Rasmussen defend their critique of Ayn Rand's views on abortion, arguing that their critics miss its main points. Tibor Machan and Alexander Tabarrok actually depart from Rand's own position under the guise of defending it; they introduce a non-Randian distinction between being a human organism and being a moral person.
School shootings are traumatic events that cause a community to question itself, its values, and its educational systems. In this article Bryan Warnick, Benjamin Johnson, and Samuel Rocha explore the meanings of school shootings by examining three recent books on school violence. Topics that grow out of these books include how school shootings might be seen as ceremonial rituals, how schools come to be seen as appropriate places for shootings, and how advice to educators relating to school shootings might (...) change the practice of teaching. The authors present various ways of understanding school shootings that may eventually prove helpful, but they also highlight the problems, tensions, and contradictions associated with each position. In the end, the authors argue, the circumstances surrounding school shootings demonstrate the need for the “tragic sense” in education. This need for the tragic sense, while manifest in many different areas of schooling, is exemplified most clearly in targeted school shootings. (shrink)
As a critique of a certain Western conception of the nature of signification, deconstruction focuses on the functioning of claim-making and claim-subverting structures within texts. A deconstructive reading is an attempt to show how the conspicuously foregrounded statements in a text are systematically related to discordant signifying elements that the text has thrown into its shadows or margins; it is an attempt both to recover what is lost and to analyze what happens when a text is read solely in function (...) of intentionality, meaningfulness, and representativity. Deconstruction thus confers a new kind of readability on those elements in a text that readers have traditionally been trained to disregard, overcome, explain away, or edit out—contradictions, obscurities, ambiguities, incoherencies, discontinuities, ellipses, interruptions, repetitions, and plays of the signifier. In this sense it involves a reversal of values, a revaluation of the signifying function of everything that, in a signified-based theory of meaning, would constitute “noise.” Jacques Derrida has chosen to speak of the values involved in this reversal in terms of “speech” and “writing,” in which “speech” stands for the privilege accorded to meaning as immediacy, unity, identity, truth, and presence, while “writing” stands for the devalued functions of distance, difference, dissimulation, and deferment.This transvaluation has a number of consequences for the appreciation of literature. By shifting the attention from intentional meaning to writing as such, deconstruction has enabled readers to become sensitive to a number of recurrent literary topoi in a new way. Texts have been seen as commentaries on their own production or reception through their pervasive thematizations of textuality—the myriad letters, books, tombstones, wills, inscriptions, road signs, maps, birthmarks, tracks, footprints, textiles, tapestries, veils, sheets, brown stockings, and self-abolishing laces that serve in one way or another as figures for the text to be deciphered or unraveled or embroidered upon. Thus, a deconstructor finds new delight in a Shakespearean character named Sir Oliver Martext or in Herman Melville’s catalog of whales as books in Moby Dick, or she makes jokes about the opposition between speech and writing by citing the encounter between Little Red Riding Hood and the phony granny. Barbara Johnson is professor of Romance languages and literatures at Harvard University. She is the author of Défigurations du langage poétique and The Critical Difference, translator of Jacques Derrida’s Dissemination, and editor of The Pedagogical Imperative: Teaching as a literary Genre. (shrink)
D. Barton Johnson traces the parallel lives and literary origins of two Russo-American writers: Ayn Rand and Vladimir Nabokov. Born in Saint Peterburg six years apart, they overlapped on the New York Times bestsellers list in the late fifties. While Nabokov's Russian cultural roots have been much explored, Rand's were little realized prior to Chris Matthew Sciabarra's investigation of her Russian philosophical context. Nabokov and Rand represent polar examples of their cultural heritage: for Nabokov, the aesthetically-oriented tradition of the (...) modernist Russian Symbolists; for Rand, the social-utilitarian tradition of Nikolai Chernyshevsky, and later, Maxim Gorky, founder of Socialist Realism. (shrink)