The two essays included here are parts of a longer study of temporality, and the genesis of the “religious.” The first part, “Multiple Nows,” depicts a universe in which a present to past relation is establishable from any and every point in consciousness. The resulting perspective differs from that offered by the linear timeline of chronological history. Remembering where I put my glasses is an historicizing act, as fully as is remembering when the Battle of Zama was fought or (...) who won there. On this alternate view of temporality the genesis of the historical perspective is the historicizing subject. The second essay, “The History of a House,” places the observer before an historical structure, then asks where the historicity in the structure is. We discover that the historicity is put there by the observer/subject. This discovery resembles our earlier discovery that historicity is generated by an infinite sequence of nows. The two essays converge on a description of historical cognition as subject-generated. (shrink)
I’ve been told that in the good old days of the 1970s, when Quine’s desert landscapes were regarded as ideal real estate and David Lewis and John Rawls had not yet left a legion of inﬂuential students rewriting the terrain of metaphysics and ethics respectively, compatibilism was still compatibilism about free will. And, of course, incompatibilism was still incompatibilism about free will. That is, compatibilism was the view that free will was compatible with determinism. Incompatibilism was the (...) view that free will was incompatible with determinism.1 What philosophers argued about was whether free will was compatible with determinism. Mostly, this was an argument about how to understand claims that one could do otherwise. You needn’t have bothered to talk about moral responsibility, because it was just obvious that you couldn’t have moral responsibility without free will. The literature was a temple of clarity. Then, somehow, things began to go horribly wrong. To be sure, there had been some activity in the 1960s that would have struck some observers as ominous. Still, it was not until the 1980s that those initial warning signs gave way to real trouble. The meanings of terms twisted. (shrink)
A step-by-step guide to Foucault's History of Sexuality Volume I, The Will to Knowledge. Mark Kelly systematically unpacks the intricacies of Foucault's dense and sometimes confusing exposition, in a straightforward way, putting it in its historical and theoretical context.
This paper contends that philosophers should consult the work of intellectual historians, who write on the history of the social formation of philosophy in the U.S., in order to understand our past role in American society and our intellectual niche in the academy. By understanding the history of our field as a social and cultural phenomenon, and not as a set of ideas that transcend their human contexts, we will be in a better position to set a (...) future course for our discipline. (shrink)
It is commonplace to observe that the history of thought reveals certain recurring patterns whose mode of expression changes according to context. It is equally apparent that to chart the salient characteristics of an influential way of thinking – to give concrete, clearly defined shape to the usually tangled fundamental impulses informing a cast of mind – is a complex, difficult task which calls for attention from the historian, the psychologist, the philosopher and, in the case of religious figures (...) and movements, the theologian alike. With regard to the manner of thinking embodied in the theological doctrines of Martin Luther such a task is fraught with more than the usual number of pitfalls. In the first place, following recent Luther scholarship, we must be wary of assuming that the great Reformer held fast to a single set of theological opinions throughout his long career. We shall not, therefore, attempt to reach conclusions applicable to Luther's thought as a whole, but rather shall focus exclusively on a number of key early expositions of the Theologia Crucis . Here, between about 1514 and 1520, we find, according to our argument, enough thematic unity to warrant the search for underlying principles. A second, less easily disposed of difficulty is the lack of a working consensus as to how and with what aims in mind one should even begin an historical analysis of Luther's texts. For example, to the believer who regards Luther's basic tenets as in a straightforward sense divinely inspired, the attempt to extract from his writings the ingredients of a certain thoroughly human way of thinking will seem doomed to inadequacy from the start. Likewise, for different reasons, many of today's. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to shed light on the methodological relationship between the history of ideas and the history of emotions, starting from the conception of weeping in the eighteenth-century French reflection. This period was critical for the defining of the modern concept of emotion because it encompassed the development of a new aesthetic and moral code centred on the exasperation of sensitivity and an exaggerated use of tears. This study brings out, in terms of methodology, (...) the importance that the analysis of tears assumed from two points of view: on the one hand, it places the problem in a framework determined by history and culture ; on the other, it recognises the unavoidable axiological and moral element that characterised crying . After a brief reconstruction of the discussion of tears in the history of emotion—from the histoire des mentalités to the ‘emotional turn’—and in the history of ideas, respectively, the article outlines some potential areas for research in an interdisciplinary perspective. (shrink)
The Self Beyond Itself is a defense of an incompatibilist, hard determinist view of free will. Free will is here defined in a very strong sense, as the existence of actions that do not result from any causes other than the agent herself. The question of how to define free will, especially whether it consists in the ability to do otherwise, and what the ability to do otherwise amounts to, is not given much consideration in this book.Ravven (...) frames her work in a broad historical context. The kind of determinism she favors is to be found in Aristotle, Maimonides, and Spinoza, as she interprets them. The main culprit responsible for the Western conception of free will is Augustine. Ravven finds elements of Augustine in a number of theories of free will, including those of Descartes and Kant. In her view, any proponent of free will is an unwitting Augustinian.Ravven’s tendency to see an Augustinian legacy in later views of free will result in her making some fairly implausible claims. Ravven .. (shrink)
What is the will? And what is its relation to human action? Throughout history, philosophers have been fascinated by the idea of "the will": the source of the drive that motivates human beings to act. However, there has never been a clear consensus as to what the will is and how it relates to human action. Some philosophers have taken the will to be based firmly in reason and rational choice, and some have seen it (...) as purely self-determined. Others have replaced the idea of the human will with a more general drive uniting humans and the rest of nature, living and non-living. This collection of nine specially commissioned papers traces the formulation and treatment of the problem of the will from ancient philosophy through the scholastic theologians of the Middle Ages, to modern philosophy and right up to contemporary theories. Philosophers discussed include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Hobbes, Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. (shrink)
This book sets out to examine the medieval understanding of Aristotle's famous discussion of "weakness of the will" (akrasia, incontinentia) in the seventh book of his Nicomachean Ethics. The medieval views are outlined primarily on the basis of the commentaries on Aristotle's "Ethics by Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Walter Burley, Gerald Odonis and John Buridan. An investigation of the earlier Augustinian discussion concerning reluctant actions (invitus facere) rounds out the study. The recent studies of weakness of the (...) class='Hi'>will have neglected the medieval philosophers. The present volume fills this gap in historical research and shows that especially the conceptual refinement of the fourteenth-century discussion makes contributions that are comparable to those of twentieth-century philosophers. (shrink)
Weakness of the Will gives an excellent historical survey of philosophers' puzzles about the possibility of deliberately taking the worse course. Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, a selection of medieval philosophers, and more contemporary philosophers are explored to illustrate why and how they avoid discussing the problem.
Libertarian or incompatibilist conceptions of free will (according to which free will is incompatible with determinism) have been under withering attack in the modern era of Western philosophy as obscure and unintelligible and have been dismissed as outdated by many twentieth century philosophers and scientists because of their supposed lack of fit with modern images of human beings in the natural and human sciences. In a recent book (The Significance of Free Will), I attempt to reconcile incompatibilist (...) free will with new images of human beings emerging in the physical, biological, behavioral, cognitive, and neuro-sciences—avoiding the usual libertarian appeals to obscure or mysterious forms of agency or causation. In this paper, I extend that effort with special attention to the relation of libertarian free will to recent research on neural networks and cognition and to recent philosophical debates about freedom, control, rationality and responsibility. (shrink)