Religious ethicists use a variety of conceptual tools from many disciplines—for example, psychology, sociology, anthropology, theology, philosophy, political science, cognitive science, and neuroscience—to study various religious traditions. They use these interdisciplinary tools to study how these traditions influence and are influenced by the cultural mores and societal norms of the societies in which these traditions are practiced. If William Schweiker's depiction of religious ethics in The Blackwell Companion to Religious Ethics is representative of the field's emerging self-conception, then religious (...) ethics is primarily a hermeneutical and multidimensional field (See Schweiker 2-3). Schweiker thinks that this .. (shrink)
One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs—Heraclitus. Play is always play of absence and presence, but if one wishes to think it radically, one must think it before the alternative of presence and absence; it is necessary to think of Being as presence or absence from the possibility of play on, and not the other (...) way around—Derrida. (shrink)
The past few decades have witnessed a growing concern to reveal the futility of the quest for absolute, ahistorical rational standards. Instead, philosophers have sought theories that will prove responsive to the humanness of rationality. The classical pragmatist tradition in American philosophy provides a tremendously fruitful yet still too often overlooked framework for accommodating, clarifying, and extending current explorations of human reason.
Reviews: William S. Lewis, Louis Althusser and the Traditions of French Marxism ; Louis Althusser, Philosophy of the Encounter: Later Writings, 1978—1987 ; Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return to Philosophy ; Alain Badiou, Metapolitics ; Slavoj Žižek , Lacan: The Silent Partners.
: It is part of the conventional wisdom about the James family that the elder Henry James (1811–82) had a large influence on his son, William James (1842–1910), in the direction of religious interests. But William neither adopted his father's spirituality nor did he regard it as a foil to his own secularity. Instead, after first rejecting the elder James's idiosyncratic faith, he became increasingly intrigued with his insights into the natural world, which were in turn shaped by (...) the Swedenborgian philosophy of correspondences and use, which depict worldly facts as vessels of the spirit. The young science student drew upon this approach to nature as a resource for finding the operation of immaterial aspects within the world. The influence of the father emerges in William's emphasis on the will in human psychology, his eagerness to punctuate the striving of "the will to believe" with sessions of comforting conviction, his readiness to find "'piecemeal' supernaturalism" in subliminal psychology, his incorporation of idealism into his radical empiricism, and his openness to psychical experience. Without accepting the particulars of Henry James's faith, William James shared with his father a conviction that providential action in the universe, usually understood as the work of transcendental forces, was embedded within the natural world and within humankind. (shrink)
In this paper, I'm giving an account of William James's reception in the columns of Charles Renouvier's journal, La Critique philosophique. The papers explores the discussions between James and Renouvier on Free Will, Philosophical systems, Consciousness and Pluralism.
: William James's "The Will to Believe" has been criticized for offering untenable arguments in support of belief in unvalidated hypotheses. Although James is no longer accused of suggesting we can create belief ex nihilo, critics continue to charge that James's defense of belief in what he called the "religious hypothesis" confuses belief with hypothesis adoption and endorses willful persistence in unvalidated beliefs—not, as he claimed, in pursuit of truth, but merely to avoid the emotional stress of abandoning them. (...) I argue that James's position in "The Will to Believe" can be defended provided we give up thinking of it as ethics of belief and think of it instead as an ethics of self-experimentation. Subjective data are relevant to rational consent to participation in research. (shrink)
William James's 'The Will to Believe" has been criticized for offering untenable arguments in support of belief in unvalidated hypotheses. Although James is no longer accused of sug gesting we can create belief ex nihilo, critics con tinue to charge that James's defense of belief in what he called the "religious hypothesis" con fuses belief with hypothesis adoption and endorses willful persistence in unvalidated beliefs-not, as he claimed, in pursuit of truth, but merely to avoid the emotional stress of (...) abandoning them. I argue that James's position in "The Will to Believe" can be defended pro vided we give up thinking of it as ethics of belief and think of it instead as an ethics of self-experimentation. Subjective data (includ ing wants, needs, and desires) are relevant to rational consent to participation in research. (shrink)
Wesley Cooper opposes the traditional view of William Jamesís philosophy which dismissed it as fragmented or merely popular, arguing instead that there is a systematic philosophy to be found in James's writings. His doctrine of pure experience is the binding thread that links his earlier psychological theorizing to his later epistemological, religious, and pragmatic concerns.
ABSTRACT. May scientists rely on substantive, a priori presuppositions? Quinean naturalists say "no," but Michael Friedman and others claim that such a view cannot be squared with the actual history of science. To make his case, Friedman offers Newton's universal law of gravitation and Einstein's theory of relativity as examples of admired theories that both employ presuppositions (usually of a mathematical nature), presuppositions that do not face empirical evidence directly. In fact, Friedman claims that the use of such presuppositions is (...) a hallmark of "science as we know it." But what should we say about the special sciences, which typically do not rely on the abstruse formalisms one finds in the exact sciences? I identify a type of a priori presupposition that plays an especially striking role in the development of empirical psychology. These are ontological presuppositions about the type of object a given science purports to study. I show how such presuppositions can be both a priori and rational by investigating their role in an early flap over psychology's contested status as a natural science. The flap focused on one of the field's earliest textbooks, William James's Principles of Psychology. The work was attacked precisely for its reliance on a priori presuppositions about what James had called the "mental state," psychology's (alleged) proper object. I argue that the specific presuppositions James packed into his definition of the "mental state" were not directly responsible to empirical evidence, and so in that sense were a priori; but the presuppositions were rational in that they were crafted to help overcome philosophical objections (championed by neo-Hegelians) to the very idea that there can be a genuine science of mind. Thus, my case study gives an example of substantive, a priori presuppositions being put to use—to rational use—in the special sciences. In addition to evaluating James's use of presuppositions, my paper also offers historical reflections on two different strands of pragmatist philosophy of science. One strand, tracing back through Quine to C. S. Peirce, is more naturalistic, eschewing the use of a priori elements in science. The other strand, tracing back through Kuhn and C. I. Lewis to James, is more friendly to such presuppositions, and to that extent bears affinity with the positivist tradition Friedman occupies. (shrink)
William James is notorious for the large number of inconsistencies and at least apparent contradictions in his writings. Many readers conclude that he should be appreciated more for his profound but erratic insights than for any coherent philosophical perspective. Ellen Kappy Suckiel disagrees. She argues that James is far more careful and systematic than many readers realize. Her work on James is guided by the attempt to lay bare his coherent philosophical vision and the consistent philosophical methodology underlying it. (...) As a result of this approach, Suckiel's work on James is both sympathetic to his philosophical insights and carefully argued. In her first book, The Pragmatic Philosophy of William James (1982), Suckiel applies this approach to James's philosophy as a whole. The result is a work of remarkable clarity and insight that serves as a wonderful introduction to James's thought. In her more recent book, Suckiel applies this approach specifically to James's philosophy of religion, with similar felicitous results. Heaven's... (shrink)
Cross-cultural scholarship in ritual studies on women's laments provides us with a fresh vantage point from which to consider the function of women and women's complaining voices in the epic poems of William Blake. In this essay, I interpret Thel, Oothoon, and Enitharmon as strong voices of experience that unleash some of Blake's most profound meditations on social, sexual, individual, and institutional forms of violence and injustice, offering what might aptly be called an ethics of witness. Tracing the performative (...) function of Enion, Jerusalem, Vala, and Erin in Blake's later epics, The Four Zoas and Jerusalem , I argue for the close connection between the female laments and the possibility of redemption, though in Blake such "redemption" comes at the cost of the very voices of witness themselves. (shrink)
Reformed Christianity's qualified embrace of freedom of conscience is per- haps best represented by William Ames (1576-1633). This essay explores Ames's interpretation of conscience, his understanding of its relationship to natural law, Scripture, and civil authority, and his vacillation on the sub- ject of conscientious freedom. By rooting his interpretation of conscience in natural law, Ames provided a foundation for conscience as an authority whose convictions are binding and worthy of some civil respect and free- dom. At the same (...) time, his Puritan worldview ultimately required the deference of conscience to the superior manifestations of divine law in Scripture and civil institutions. As a result, Ames provided raw ingredients for a theological doctrine of freedom of conscience despite his unwillingness to commend the idea himself consistently. In this way, Ames symbolizes an ambiguity on freedom of conscience characteristic of the broader Reformed tradition. (shrink)
This paper reconstructs what may have led the American professorof chemistry andnatural philosophy John William Draper to introduce a new kind ofradiation, whichhe dubbed `Tithonic rays''. After presenting his and earlierempirical findings onthe chemical action of light in Section 3, I analyze his pertinentpapers in Section 4with the aim of identifying the various types of argumentshe raised infavor of this new actinic entity (or more precisely, this newnatural kind of raybesides optical, thermal and perhaps also phosphorogenic rays).From a modernperspective, (...) all of these obviously belong within theelectromagnetic spectrum,but not so for many thinkers of the 19th century. I close withremarks about whyDraper''s interpretation was abandoned in the second half of the19th century (hehimself recanting only in 1872), and why I think such a naturalhistory ofargumentation (as one might call my approach in Section 4) may beuseful for acomparison-oriented history of science. (shrink)
William James’ declared intention is to oppose Clifford’s claim that it “is wrong always, everywhere, and for every one, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence”. But I argue that he is confused about his doxastic prescriptions. He isn’t primarily concerned, as he thinks he is, with the legitimacy of belief in the absence of sufficient evidence. The most important contribution of his essay is a suggestion - a highly insightful and contentious one - as to what it is to (...) believe in accordance with the evidence. (shrink)
Every scholar and reader of William James is aware of his frequent uses of "energy," especially in his discussions of ethics and most notably in his 1906 Presidential Address to the American Philosophical Association, "The Energies of Men". But while other interpretations treat James's use of "energy" as merely one of his several folksy metaphors, The Ethics of Energy: William James's Moral Philosophy in Focus is the first monograph, as its author, Sergio Franzese, rightly claims, to focus upon (...) "energy" as a central concept in James's ethics. Ethics, for James, is not about values, goods, or principles but about the organization of energy, especially into habits, in the service of personal, aesthetic ideals. As such this book is an original and valuable addition to the literature on James, and it does much to bring James into closer dialogue with other recent efforts to rethink ethics without appeal to some rule of reason, whether it be in the form of an utilitarian calculus or a categorical imperative. Such efforts include those of Friedrich Nietzsche, whom Franzese discusses extensively, Max Scheler, whom he mentions only briefly (51-52), and especially Michel Foucault, whom he does not mention at all. (shrink)
Thomas M. Osborne Jr. ... Vivarium 32 (1994): 62–71. te Velde, Rude A. “Natura in se ipsa recurva est: Duns Scotus and Aquinas on the Relationship between Nature and Will.” In John Duns Scotus: ... “William of Ockham's Theological Ethics .
“Philosophical Conceptions and Practical Results” has long been recognized for the special place that it occupies in the history of American philosophy. In it, American pragmatism enters into a wider, popular consciousness for the first time, acquiring both its name and its lineage. In the course of a brief hour with George Holmes Howison’s Philosophical Union at Berkeley in August of 1898, in a gymnasium before an audience of eight hundred people, pragmatism also acquires its living voice as William (...) James introduces a new uniquely American philosophy based upon the innovative ideas of the then obscure Charles Peirce. After describing a new strategy for arriving at the meaning of an idea, he goes on to illustrate .. (shrink)
American pragmatism was, in the beginning of the twentieth century, a major movement not only in its home country but also in other parts of the globe as well, largely (but not exclusively) thanks to William James’s (1842–1910) international activity. In Europe, Italian and French philosophers, in particular, established their own pragmatist “schools,” and pragmatism also spread to the northern parts of the continent, including Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Even in the relatively remote Finland, Jamesian pragmatism rapidly became (...) well known. James’s ideas were discussed in meetings and publications by a number of philosophers and other scholars, and several Finnish translations of James’s works appeared .. (shrink)
William P. Alston's book, Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience , challenges the contemporary view that religious experience is purely subjective. He theorizes that a direct experiential awareness of God can produce immediately justified beliefs about God. Accordingly, this dissertation critically assesses the problem of subjectivism thought to taint Alston's epistemology of religious experience. ;Upon disclosing the prevalence of subjectivity, and identifying the potential for objectivity in religious experience, this treatise produces a viable resolve for objectivity in mystical (...) perception. It accomplishes this task through several considerations. ;Through an historical analysis of evidentialism's influence in empiricism and analytic philosophy of religion, we can determine the extent to which Alston's epistemology succumbs to this influence. Although finding evidentialism to be prevalent, Alston's theory of "reliabilism," namely the reliability of sensory perception, attempts to overcome evidentialism's predilection toward subjectivism. Nevertheless, it will be demonstrated that the object of consciousness in the perceptual act is still a mental entity. Thus subjectivism persists. Having identified that Alston's phenomenology of perception in particular, does very little to overturn the verdict of subjectivism, this study proceeds to identify an alternative phenomenology. ;Merleau-Ponty's "primacy of perception" seems a likely candidate for providing a richer phenomenological description of perception than Alston's. Once issues of relevancy have been satisfactorily addressed, it will be proposed that Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology, i.e. "reversibility thesis," accentuates a "genuine" objective moment in perception. One in which we are able to appropriate to Alston's concept of mystical perception. This phenomenological revision to Alston's epistemology of religious experience does much to counter the charge of subjectivism. ;The above proffering is rendered in six chapters. Chapter I provides a close reading of Perceiving God. Chapter II succinctly puts forth what exactly Alston's epistemology responds to in classical British empiricism and analytic philosophy of religion. Chapter III places Alston in the contemporary discussion in analytic epistemology. Chapter IV points to where Alston's epistemology of religious experience is vulnerable to the charge of subjectivism. Chapters V and VI provide an alternative phenomenology based on Merleau-Pontian insights, which are applied to Alston's epistemology of religious experience. (shrink)
As a defender of the fundamental importance of Mendel’s experiments for understanding heredity, the English biologist William Bateson did much to publicize the usefulness of Mendelian science for practical breeders. In the course of his campaigning, he not only secured a reputation among breeders as a scientific expert worth listening to but articulated a vision of the ideal relations between pure and applied science in the modern state. Yet historical writing about Bateson has tended to underplay these utilitarian elements (...) of his program, to the extent of portraying him, notably in still-influential work from the 1960s and 1970s, as a type specimen of the scientist who could not care less about application. This paper offers a corrective view of Bateson himself—including the first detailed account of his role as an expert witness in a courtroom dispute over the identity of a commercial pea variety—and an inquiry into the historiographic fate of his efforts in support of Mendelism’s productivity. For all that a Marxian perspective classically brings applied science to the fore, in Bateson’s case, and for a range of reasons, it did the opposite during the Cold War. (shrink)
This article reconstructs the historical and philosophical contexts of William Paley’s Natural theology . In the wake of the French Revolution, widely believed to be the embodiment of an atheistic political credo, the refutation of the transmutational biological theories of Buffon and Erasmus Darwin was naturally high on Paley’s agenda. But he was also responding to challenges arising from his own moral philosophy, principally the psychological quandary of how men were to be kept in mind of the Creator. It (...) is argued here that Natural theology was the culmination of a complex rhetorical scheme for instilling religious impressions that would increase both the virtue and happiness of mankind. Philosophy formed an integral part of this strategy, but it did not comprise the whole of it. Equally vital were those purely rhetorical aspects of the discourse which, according to Paley, were more concerned with creating ‘impression’. This facet of his writing is explored in part one of this two-part article. Turning to the argumentative side of the scheme, part two examines Paley’s responses to David Hume and Erasmus Darwin in the light of the wider strategy of inculcation at work throughout all his writings.Keywords: William Paley; Natural theology; David Hume; Rhetorical strategy. (shrink)
William James's disgust for scientific arrogance was not in defiance of his early education in science, but because of it. In particular, James was influenced by the probabilistic method of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, especially as interpreted by Charles Sanders Peirce. Peirce, who was James's most immediate scientific influence, maintained an unresolved ambiguity between a probabilistic scientific fallibilism and a confidence in science's quest for certainty, while James emphasized the fallibilism of science as the crowning evidence for (...) epistemological uncertainties. Despite his disagreement with scientific certainty, James fully supported science as a fallible, useful means of inquiry. (shrink)
This paper analyzes William A. Dembski’s theory of intelligent design. According to Dembski, it is possible to empirically detect signs of intelligence in the world by examining properties of observed events. In order to detect design, Dembski has developed the criterion of specified complexity, by means of which he claims to be able to distinguish events that are designed from those that are caused by necessity or chance. Five problems regarding Dembski’s theory are identified and discussed. It is revealed (...) that Dembski’s theory is not rigorously enough defined to be deemed to be a scientific theory. (shrink)
Several authors, such as William J. Morgan, John S. Russell and R. Scott Kretchmar, have claimed that the limits between the diverse normative theories of sport need to be revisited. Most of these works are philosophically grounded in Anglo-American philosophical approaches. For instance, William J. Morgan’s proposal is mainly based on Richard Rorty’s philosophy. But he also discusses with some European philosophers like Jürgen Habermas. However, Habermas’ central ideas are rejected by Morgan. The purpose of this paper is (...) to analyse Morgan’s rejection of Habermas’ thought and show that a more appropriate normative of sport that explains better our current sporting world can be achieved by drawing on the German philosopher’s ideas. The plan of this paper is the following. It shall analyse the limits of the distinction between broad internalism and externalism by taking Morgan’s work as its starting point. To do so, firstly, the conventionalist way in which Morgan criticises the limits of interpretivism sha.. (shrink)
El objetivo de este artículo es mostrar la existencia de un aspecto durkheimiano en la filosofía de la religión de William James, aspecto habitualmente inadvertido en las interpretaciones corrientes de su obra. Para ello mostraré cómo subyace en Las variedades de la experiencia religiosa la prototípica distinción durkheimiana entre lo sagrado y lo profano como rasgo esencial de la religión. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the existence of a Durkheimian aspect in William James' philosophy of (...) religion, an aspect that has gone unnoticed in the usual interpretations of his work. To this effect, the article shows how Durkheim's prototypical distinction between sacred and profane underlies The Varieties of Religious Experience as an essential feature of religion. (shrink)
Using the metaphor of a circle with its center, periphery, and radius, this essay explores William Poteat's understanding of the self, or "mindbody," in its dynamic and creative relation to the larger world, or cosmos, identifying the mindbody's prereflective radix with the "center," its boundary or point of interface with the larger world with the "periphery," and its dialectical evolution and articulation of a sense of coherence and meaning in terms of a pretensive and retrotensive "radius.".
William of Champeaux is best known as Peter Abelard's teacher and the proponent of realism of universals. In recent years, many works on the linguistic liberal arts - grammar, dialectic and rhetoric - have been attributed to him. However, at least in the case of the dialectical commentaries, these attributions have been hastily made and are probably incorrect. The commentaries themselves, correctly situated in the time and place when Abelard and William worked at Notre Dame, nonetheless deserve close (...) attention. The commentaries on Aristotle's De interpretatione are examined here: in them we find a new theory of signification which developed as a critical response to William of Champeaux's view of the vox significativa, as well as an important clue to the origins of the doctrine of the proprietates terminorum. (shrink)
Why would anyone want there to be natural foundations for the social sciences? In a provocative essay exploring precisely that question, historian Chris Renwick uses an interwar debate featuring William Beveridge, Lancelot Hogben, and Friedrich Hayek to begin to imagine what might have been had such a program calling for biological knowledge to form the natural bases of the social sciences been realized at the London School of Economics. Yet perhaps Renwick grants too much attention to differences and “what-ifs” (...) and not enough to the historical question of “what happened” afterward. “Chickens and Eggs” offers an alternative view of this rather vexed question—one grounded in what happened, which suggests that Renwick’s concerns may be somewhat misplaced. (shrink)
The recognition of Gregor Mendel's achievement in his study of hybridization was signalled by the ‘rediscovery’ papers of Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns and Erich Tschermak. The dates on which these papers were published are given in Table 1. The first of these—De Vries ‘Comptes rendus paper—was in French and made no mention of Mendel or his paper. The rest, led by De Vries’ Berichte paper, were in German and mentioned Mendel, giving the location of his paper. It has long (...) been accepted that the first account of Mendel's work in English was given by the Cambridge zoologist, William Bateson, to an audience of Fellows of the Royal Horticultural Society in London on 8 May, 1900. This is based on two sources: the paper ‘Problems of Heredity as a Subject for Horticultural Investigation’, published in the Society's journal later that year and stated as ‘Read 8 May, 1900’, and Beatrice Bateson's account of the event over a quarter of a century later. Of the paper which her husband gave on that occasion she wrote:He had already prepared this paper, but in the train on his way to town to deliver it, he read Mendel's actual paper on peas for the first time. As a lecturer he was always cautious, suggesting rather than affirming his own convictions. So ready was he however for the simple Mendelian law that he at once incorporated it into his lecture. (shrink)
In this article, I explicate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s account of emancipatory history and activism by examining the influence of G. W. F. Hegel’s account of world-historical individuals on his thought. Both thinkers, I argue, affirm that history’s spiritual destiny works through individuals who are driven by the contingencies of their subjective character and given situation to undertake particular actions, and yet who nevertheless freely and decisively break the new from the old by forsaking subjective satisfaction to spur events forward (...) to a more rational state of affairs. This synthetic unity of abstract freedom and concrete embodiment reflects the ‘civil war’ between the universal and infinite essence, and particular and finite passions, that King and Hegel identify as equally constitutive of human will. Through an examination of King’s account of Rosa Parks’ pivotal arrest, I develop the consequences of this ‘Hegelian’ view for our understanding of political action and historical progress. (shrink)