Called “the most important critic of his time” by Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin has only become more influential over the years, as his work has assumed a crucial place in current debates over the interactions of art, culture, and meaning. A “natural and extraordinary talent for letter writing was one of the most captivating facets of his nature,” writes Gershom Scholem in his Foreword to this volume; and Benjamin's correspondence reveals the evolution of some of his most powerful ideas, (...) while also offering an intimate picture of Benjamin himself and the times in which he lived. Writing at length to Scholem and Theodor Adorno, and exchanging letters with Rainer Maria Rilke, Hannah Arendt, Max Brod, and Bertolt Brecht, Benjamin elaborates on his ideas about metaphor and language. He reflects on literary figures from Kafka to Karl Kraus, and expounds his personal attitudes toward such subjects as Marxism and French national character. Providing an indispensable tool for any scholar wrestling with Benjamin’s work, The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin, 1910–1940 is a revelatory look at the man behind much of the twentieth century’s most significant criticism. (shrink)
This selection of correspondence written by the man who was America's political conscience spans the years from 1907 to 1969 and includes letters to President Frankin D. Roosevelt and responses to inquisitive graduate students.
The essays compiled in this book explore aspects of Walter Benjamin's discourse that have contributed to the formation of contemporary architectural theories. Issues such as technology and history have been considered central to the very modernity of architecture, but Benjamin's reflection on these subjects has elevated the discussion to a critical level. The contributors in this book consider Walter Benjamin's ideas in the context of digitalization of architecture where it is the very technique itself that determines the processes (...) of design and the final form. This book was published as a special issue of Architectural Theory Review. (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?
It is often thought that the numerous contradictory perspectives in Margaret Cavendish's writings demonstrate her inability to reconcile her feminism with her conservative, royalist politics. In this book Lisa Walters challenges this view and demonstrates that Cavendish's ideas more closely resemble republican thought, and that her methodology is the foundation for subversive political, scientific and gender theories. With an interdisciplinary focus Walters closely examines Cavendish's work and its context, providing the reader with an enriched understanding of women's contribution to early (...) modern scientific theory, political philosophy, culture and folklore. Considering also Cavendish's ideas in relation to Hobbes and Paracelsus, this volume is of great interest to scholars and students of literature, philosophy, history of ideas, political theory, gender studies and history of science. (shrink)
This classic is the benchmark against which all modern books about Nietzsche are measured. When Walter Kaufmann wrote it in the immediate aftermath of World War II, most scholars outside Germany viewed Nietzsche as part madman, part proto-Nazi, and almost wholly unphilosophical. Kaufmann rehabilitated Nietzsche nearly single-handedly, presenting his works as one of the great achievements of Western philosophy. Responding to the powerful myths and countermyths that had sprung up around Nietzsche, Kaufmann offered a patient, evenhanded account of his (...) life and works, and of the uses and abuses to which subsequent generations had put his ideas. Without ignoring or downplaying the ugliness of many of Nietzsche's proclamations, he set them in the context of his work as a whole and of the counterexamples yielded by a responsible reading of his books. More positively, he presented Nietzsche's ideas about power as one of the great accomplishments of modern philosophy, arguing that his conception of the "will to power" was not a crude apology for ruthless self-assertion but must be linked to Nietzsche's equally profound ideas about sublimation. He also presented Nietzsche as a pioneer of modern psychology and argued that a key to understanding his overall philosophy is to see it as a reaction against Christianity. Many scholars in the past half century have taken issue with some of Kaufmann's interpretations, but the book ranks as one of the most influential accounts ever written of any major Western thinker. Featuring a new foreword by Alexander Nehamas, this Princeton Classics edition of Nietzsche introduces a new generation of readers to one the most influential accounts ever written of any major Western thinker. (shrink)
In this radical reinterpretation of Aristotle's Metaphysics, Walter E. Wehrle demonstrates that developmental theories of Aristotle are based on a faulty assumption: that the fifth chapter of Categories is an early theory of metaphysics that Aristotle later abandoned.
"The central task of phenomenology is to investigate the nature of consciousness and its relations to objects of various types. The present book introduces students and other readers to several foundational topics of phenomenological inquiry, and illustrates phenomenology's contemporary relevance. The main topics include consciousness, intentionality, perception, meaning, and knowledge. The book also contains critical assessments of Edmund Husserl's phenomenological method. It argues that knowledge is the most fundamental mode of consciousness, and that the central theses constitutive of Husserl's "transcendental (...) idealism" are compatible with metaphysical realism regarding the objects of thought, perception, and knowledge. Helpful tools include introductions that help the reader segue from the previous chapter to the new one, chapter conclusions, and suggested reading lists of primary and some key secondary sources. Key Features: Elucidates and engages with contemporary work in analytic epistemology and philosophy of mind. Provides clear prose explanations of the necessary distinctions and arguments required for understanding the subject. Places knowledge at the center of phenomenological inquiry"--. (shrink)
What is the origin of the concept of a law of nature? How much does it owe to theology and metaphysics? To what extent do the laws of nature permit contingency? Are there exceptions to the laws of nature? Is it possible to give a reductive analysis of lawhood, or is it a primitive? -/- Twelve brand-new essays by an international team of leading philosophers take up these and other central questions on the laws of nature, whilst also examining some (...) of the most important intuitions and assumptions that have guided the debate over laws of nature since the concept's invention in the seventeenth century. -/- Laws of Nature spans the history of philosophy and of science, contemporary metaphysics, and contemporary philosophy of science. Contents: 1. Intuitions and Assumptions in the Debate over Laws of Nature, Walter Ott and Lydia Patton 2. Early Modern Roots of the Philosophical Concept of a Law of Nature, Helen Hattab 3. Laws of Nature and the Divine Order of Things: Descartes and Newton on Truth in Natural Philosophy, Mary Domski 4. Leges sive natura: Bacon, Spinoza, and a Forgotten Concept of Law, Walter Ott 5. Laws and Powers in the Frame of Nature, Stathis Psillos 6. Laws and Ideal Unity, Angela Breitenbach 7. Becoming Humean, John W. Carroll 8. A Perspectivalist Better Best System Account of Lawhood, Michela Massimi 9. Laws: An Invariance Based Account, James Woodward 10. How the Explanations of Natural Laws Make Some Reducible Physical Properties Natural and Explanatorily Powerful, Marc Lange 11. Laws and their Exceptions, Stephen Mumford 12. Are laws of nature consistent with contingency?, Nancy Cartwright and Pedro Merlussi. (shrink)
Originally published in 1959, The Faith of a Heretic is the most personal statement of the beliefs of Nietzsche biographer and translator Walter Kaufmann. A first-rate philosopher in his own right, Kaufmann here provides the fullest account of his views on religion. Although he considered himself a heretic, he was not immune to the wellsprings and impulses from which religion originates, declaring it among the most vital and radical expressions of the human mind. Beginning with an autobiographical prologue that (...) traces his evolution from religious believer to "heretic," the book touches on theology, organized religion, morality, suffering, and death—all examined from the perspective of a "quest for honesty." Kaufmann also subjects philosophy's faith in truth, reason, and absolute morality to the same heretical treatment. The resulting exploration of the faiths of a nonbeliever in a secular age is as fresh and challenging as when it was first published. In a new foreword, Stanley Corngold vividly describes the intellectual and biographical milieu of Kaufmann’s provocative book. (shrink)
The Neuroethics of Memory is a thematically integrated analysis and discussion of neuroethical questions about memory capacity and content, as well as interventions to alter it. These include: how does memory function enable agency, and how does memory dysfunction disable it? To what extent is identity based on our capacity to accurately recall the past? Could a person who becomes aware during surgery be harmed if they have no memory of the experience? How do we weigh the benefits and risks (...) of brain implants designed to enhance, weaken or erase memory? Can a person be responsible for an action if they do not recall it? Would a victim of an assault have an obligation to retain a memory of this act, or the right to erase it? This book uses a framework informed by neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy combined with actual and hypothetical cases to examine these and related questions. (shrink)
The standard semantics for counterfactuals ensures that any counterfactual with a true antecedent and true consequent is itself true. There have been many recent attempts to amend the standard semantics to avoid this result. I show that these proposals invalidate a number of further principles of the standard logic of counterfactuals. The case against the automatic truth of counterfactuals with true components does not extend to these further principles, however, so it is not clear that rejecting the latter should be (...) a consequence of rejecting the former. Instead I consider how one might defuse putative counterexamples to the truth of true-true counterfactuals. (shrink)
Are living organisms--as Descartes argued--just machines? Or is the nature of life such that it can never be fully explained by mechanistic models? In this thought-provoking and controversial book, eminent geophysicist Walter M. Elsasser argues that the behavior of living organisms cannot be reduced to physico-chemical causality. Suggesting that molecular biology today is at the same point as Newtonian physics on the eve of the quantum revolution, Elsasser lays the foundation for a theoretical biology that points the way toward (...) a natural philosophy of organic life. Explicitly repudiating "vitalism" (the notion that the laws of nature need to be modified when applied to living organisms), Elsasser argues instead that the structural complexity of even a single living cell is "transcomputational"--that is, beyond the power of any imaginable system to compute. Beginning from this insight, Elsasser leads the reader through a step-by-step process that ultimately arrives at the conclusion that living and non-living matter are separated by "a no-man's land of irrationality." Trained in Germany as a physicist, Elsasser first pondered the implications of quantum mechanics for biology as early as 1951. The more closely he studied the inherent complexity of life, the more skeptical he became of the reductionist view of organisms as tiny machines. "An organism," he concluded, "is a source of causal chains which cannot be traced beyond a terminal point because they are lost in the unfathomable complexity of the organism." Like the physicist who works within the bounds of an unfathomable universe, Elsasser argues, the biologist must seek answers within a system that is no less unfathomable. (shrink)
Origin of the German Trauerspiel was Walter Benjamin's first full, historically oriented analysis of modernity. Readers of English know it as "The Origin of German Tragic Drama," but in fact the subject is something else--the play of mourning. Howard Eiland's completely new English translation, the first since 1977, is closer to the German text and more consistent with Benjamin's philosophical idiom. Focusing on the extravagant seventeenth-century theatrical genre of the trauerspiel, precursor of the opera, Benjamin identifies allegory as the (...) constitutive trope of the Baroque and of modernity itself. Allegorical perception bespeaks a world of mutability and equivocation, a melancholy sense of eternal transience without access to the transcendentals of the medieval mystery plays--though no less haunted and bedeviled. History as trauerspiel is the condition as well as subject of modern allegory in its inscription of the abyssal. Benjamin's investigation of the trauerspiel includes German texts and late Renaissance European drama such as Hamlet and Calderón's Life Is a Dream. The prologue is one of his most important and difficult pieces of writing. It lays out his method of indirection and his idea of the "constellation" as a key means of grasping the world, making dynamic unities out of the myriad bits of daily life. Thoroughly annotated with a philological and historical introduction and other explanatory and supplementary material, this rigorous and elegant new translation brings fresh understanding to a cardinal work by one of the twentieth century's greatest literary critics.--. (shrink)
[The following notes, from a MS. of Headlam's, now published by permission of the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, give the substance of a lecture which Headlam delivered in Cambridge but did not publish, though some account of it is given in the memoir by Mr. Cecil Headlam . A few verbal alterations have been made for the sake of clearness and some references added.—GEORGE THOMSON].
Shamik Dasgupta (2016) proposes to tame the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) to apply to only non-autonomous facts, which are facts that are apt for explanation. Call this strategy to tame the PSR the taming strategy. In a recent paper, Della Rocca (2020a) argues that proponents of the taming strategy, in attempting to formulate a restricted version of the PSR, nevertheless find themselves committed to endorsing a form of radical monism, which, in turn, leads right back to an untamed-PSR. Suppose, (...) for the sake of argument, that Della Rocca is right. My question is this: Is there reason to believe the principle of sufficient reason (in its untamed version)? In this paper, I argue that it is impossible for there to be a reason to believe the untamed-PSR. (shrink)
This book is the first in the field of paraconsistency to offer a comprehensive overview of the subject, including connections to other logics and applications in information processing, linguistics, reasoning and argumentation, and philosophy of science. It is recommended reading for anyone interested in the question of reasoning and argumentation in the presence of contradictions, in semantics, in the paradoxes of set theory and in the puzzling properties of negation in logic programming. Paraconsistent logic comprises a major logical theory and (...) offers the broadest possible perspective on the debate of negation in logic and philosophy. It is a powerful tool for reasoning under contradictoriness as it investigates logic systems in which contradictory information does not lead to arbitrary conclusions. Reasoning under contradictions constitutes one of most important and creative achievements in contemporary logic, with deep roots in philosophical questions involving negation and consistency This book offers an invaluable introduction to a topic of central importance in logic and philosophy. It discusses the history of paraconsistent logic; language, negation, contradiction, consistency and inconsistency; logics of formal inconsistency and the main paraconsistent propositional systems; many-valued companions, possible-translations semantics and non-deterministic semantics; paraconsistent modal logics; first-order paraconsistent logics; applications to information processing, databases and quantum computation; and applications to deontic paradoxes, connections to Eastern thought and to dialogical reasoning. (shrink)