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Problems in Value Theory takes a pro and con approach to central topics in aesthetics, ethics and political theory. Each chapter begins with a question: What Makes Actions Right or Wrong? Does Morality Depend on God? Do We Need Government? Contemporary philosophers with opposing viewpoints are then paired together to argue their position and raise problems with conflicting standpoints. Alongside an up-to-date introduction to a core philosophical stance, each contributor provides a critical response to their opponent and clear explanation of their view. Discussion questions are included at the end of each chapter to guide further discussion. With chapters ranging from why the government should never wage war to what is art and does morality depend on God, this introduction covers questions lying at the heart of debates about what does and does not have value.
This book looks back in order to look forward. It is a sustained reflection on the great disillusion Europe experienced after World War I. Europeans understood that bombs had buried the Enlightenment. They knew that, to avoid catastrophe, they had to think anew. The catastrophe came, but Cohen, Benjamin, Kafka, and Rosenzweig had sounded the warning.
Richard Rorty is one of the most influential and provocative
figures in contemporary intellectual life. He argues that many of
philosophy's traditional concerns are redundant, and that the goal
of inquiry should not be truth but human betterment. In this
collection a distinguished team of scholars grapples with the
implications of his writings for social and political thought.
Avoiding mindless adulation or ritual denunciation, they offer
careful but critical investigations of the meaning of Rorty's work
for a range of important issues.
Topics explored include anti-foundationalism; irony and
commitment; justice; liberalism and utopianism; reason and
aesthetics; humanism and anti-humanism; the Holocaust; the theory
of international relations; social democracy and the pragmatist
tradition. Each essay is followed by a reply written for this
volume by Rorty. The volume also includes a substantial essay by
Rorty on 'Justice as a Larger Loyalty'.
This volume is indispensable for any reader interested in Rorty's work, or in contemporary debates in social, political or ethical theory. Contributors: Molly Cochran; Daniel Conway; Matthew Festenstein; Norman Geras; John Horton; David Owen; Richard Rorty; Kate Soper; Simon Thompson.
The limit of language is one of the most pervasive notions found in Wittgenstein's work, both in his early Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and his later writings. Moreover, the idea of a limit of language is intimately related to important scholarly debates on Wittgenstein's philosophy, such as the debate between the so-called traditional and resolute interpretations, Wittgenstein's stance on transcendental idealism, and the philosophical import of Wittgenstein's latest work On Certainty. This collection includes thirteen original essays that provide a comprehensive overview of the various ways in which Wittgenstein appeals to the limit of language at different stages of his philosophical development. The essays connect the idea of a limit of language to the most important themes discussed by Wittgenstein-his conception of logic and grammar, the method of philosophy, the nature of the subject, and the foundations of knowledge-as well as his views on ethics, aesthetics, and religion. The essays also relate Wittgenstein's thought to his contemporaries, including Carnap, Frege, Heidegger, Levinas, and Moore.
Biologists, historians, lawyers, art historians, and literary
critics all voice arguments in the critical dialogue about what
constitutes evidence in research and scholarship. They examine not
only the constitution and "blurring" of disciplinary boundaries,
but also the configuration of the fact-evidence distinctions made
in different disciplines and historical moments; the relative
function of such concepts as "self-evidence," "experience," "test,"
"testimony," and "textuality" in varied academic discourses; and
the way "rules of evidence" are themselves products of historical
This guide offers something new among texts elucidating the ethical theory known as Utilitarianism. Intended primarily for students ready to dig deeper into moral philosophy, it examines, in a dialectical and reader-friendly manner, a set of normative principles and a set of evaluative principles leading to what is perhaps the most defensible version of Utilitarianism. With the aim of laying its weaknesses bare, each principle is serially introduced, challenged, and then defended. The result is a battery of stress tests that shows with great clarity not only what is attractive about the theory, but also where its problems lie. It will fascinate any student ready for a serious investigation into what we ought to do and what is of value.
Is the world around us truly as it appears or are we inert bodies in tanks, our brains subjected to electronic stimulation creating a make-believe world of hallucination? The Keanu Reeves cult sci-fi movie, The Matrix, vividly conveyed the excitement and the horror of a fake world made of nothing but perceptions, substituting for a real world of grim despair. Since The Matrix is probably the most overtly philosophical movie ever to have come out of Hollywood it has popularised issues on which philosophers have a lot to say. The Matrix and Philosophy is from the same team of cool, capable, young philosophers who created The Simpsons and Philosophy, which redefined the market for a work by serious philosophers. It has 20 new, thoughtful essays on philosophical problems raised by The Matrix, many of which focus on the issues "Can we be sure the world is really there, and if not, what should we do about it?" The book also explores other philosophical puzzles including ethical ones like Cypher's decision to choose a pleasurable fake world over a wretched real one.
At the threshold of the twentieth century, Bergson reset the agenda
for philosophy and its relationship with science, art and even life
itself. Concerned with both examining and extolling the phenomena
of time, change, and difference, he was at one point held as both
"the greatest thinker in the world" and "the most dangerous man in
the world." Yet the impact of his ideas was so all-pervasive among
artists, philosophers and politicians alike, that by the end of the
First World War it had become impossibly diffuse. In a manner
imitating his own cult of change, the Bergsonian school departed
from the scene almost as quickly as it had arrived. As part of a
current resurgence of interest in Bergson, both in Europe and in
North America, this collection of essays addresses the significance
of his philosophical legacy for contemporary thought.
The first volume of Benjamin Studies publishes the keynote lectures of the first Congress of the International Walter Benjamin Association, which took place in Amsterdam, July 1997. Its title bears witness to the most central concepts of Benjamin's philosophy of culture. Strongly influenced as he was by Kant, Benjamin never lost his inclination to analyse the components of reality as fashioned by ourselves. Because he was also a materialist, for him the modes of fashioning were shaped in turn by the times and places we occupy in history. As a consequence, Benjamin's theory assigns a pivotal role in the interaction between the world and its inhabitants to the media: language with its plethora of discourses, the arts, and the whole technology of reproduction. The historical and social development of the media is, translated, according to him, into our instruments of perception, and this perception constructs the elements of the world, the knowledge of this construction and the knowledge of the constructor. The self-knowledge of the constructor is what we call 'experience'. Within this broad epistemological framework, the diversity and complexity of Benjamin's project acquires a fundamental coherence and is therefore able to accommodate the temporal volatility of the phenomena of our world. It's not surprising, therefore, that Perception & Experience offers the most stimulating variety of topics, and that the keynote lectures reflect merely an intensification of interest in certain areas within a much larger field of investigation. The texts presented here pinpoint the central preoccupations of today's debates amongst Benjamin scholars, preoccupations which are themselves responses to our own historical imperatives.
This book gathers six trenchant new analyses of the idea of the person as raised by the German philosopher and social theorist Max Scheler (1874-1928). The issues raised in the volume are both timely and perennial, from considerations of postmodernity, phenomenology, and metaphysics, to sharp-edged comparisons with other thinkers, including Immanuel Kant, Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, Eric Voegelin, Richard Rorty, and Hannah Arendt.
The key objective of this volume is to allow philosophy students and early-stage researchers to become practicing philosophers in technoscientific settings. Zwart focuses on the methodological issue of how to practice continental philosophy of technoscience today. This text draws upon continental authors such as Hegel, Engels, Heidegger, Bachelard and Lacan (and their fields of dialectics, phenomenology and psychoanalysis) in developing a coherent message around the technicity of science or rather, "technoscience". Within technoscience, the focus will be on recent developments in life sciences research, such as genomics, post-genomics, synthetic biology and global ecology. This book uniquely presents continental perspectives that tend to be underrepresented in mainstream philosophy of science, yet entail crucial insights for coming to terms with technoscience as it is evolving on a global scale today. This is an open access book.
Santayana at 150: International Interpretations is a collection of essays by seventeen authors celebrating the life and thought of Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana. This book appears on the occasion of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Santayana's birth. Appropriately, the authors come from both sides of the Atlantic and put forth a range of insights that demonstrate the continuing life and relevance of Santayana's thinking. The book includes considerations of the major themes of his philosophy-materialism, naturalistic ethics, and aesthetics-and of the influence exerted on Santayana's work by his life circumstances and geographic surroundings, especially of Rome.
'Foucault must be reckoned with by humanists, social scientists, and political activists' The New York Times Book Review Society Must Be Defended is Michel Foucault's devastating critique of the systems of power and control inherent in civilization. Taken from a series of lectures given by Foucault at the College de France in 1975-76, it reveals how war is the foundation of all power relations, and politics ultimately a continuation of battlefield violence. He offers a politically charged re-reading of history, with examples ranging from the Trojan myth to Nazi Germany, to show a continual, 'silent war' between the powerful and the powerless. 'A timely and prescient book, mainly because of what it says about the way in which war is necessary as a means of control' New Statesman Translated by David Macey
Julia Kristeva is one of the most creative and prolific writers to address the personal, social, and political trials of our times. Linguist, psychoanalyst, social and cultural theorist, and novelist, Kristeva's broad interdisciplinary appeal has impacted areas across the humanities and social sciences.
S. K. Keltner's book provides the first comprehensive introduction to the breadth of Kristeva's work. In an original and insightful analysis, Keltner presents Kristeva's thought as the coherent development and elaboration of a complex, multidimensional threshold constitutive of meaning and subjectivity. The 'threshold' indicates Kristeva's primary sphere of concern, the relationship between the speaking being and its particular social and historical conditions; and Kristeva's interdisciplinary approach. Kristeva's vision, Keltner argues, opens a unique perspective within contemporary discourses attentive to issues of meaning, subjectivity, and social and political life. By emphasizing Kristeva's attention to the permeable borders of psychic and social life, Keltner offers innovative readings of the concepts most widely discussed in Kristeva scholarship: the semiotic and symbolic, abjection, love, and loss. She also provides new interpretations of some of the most controversial issues surrounding Kristeva's work, including Kristeva's conceptions of intimacy, social and cultural difference, and Oedipal subjectivity, by contextualizing them within her methodological approach and oeuvre as a whole.
"Julia Kristeva: Thresholds" is an engaging and accessible introduction to Kristeva's theoretical and fictional works that will be of interest to both students and scholars across the humanities and social sciences.
Within the Western tradition, it was the philosophers Henri Bergson and Max Scheler who laid out and explored the nonrational power of "intuition" at work in human beings that plays a key role in orienting their thinking and action within the world. As author Adriana Alfaro Altamirano notes, Bergon's and Scheler's philosophical explorations, which paralleled similar developments by other modernist writers, artists, and political actors of the early twentieth century, can yield fruitful insights into the ideas and passions that animate politics in our own time. The Belief in Intuition shows that intuition (as Bergson and Scheler understood it) leads, first and foremost, to a conception of freedom that is especially suited for dealing with hierarchy, uncertainty, and alterity. Such a conception of freedom is grounded in a sense of individuality that remains true to its "inner multiplicity," thus providing a distinct contrast to and critique of the liberal notion of the self. Focusing on the complex inner lives that drive human action, as Bergson and Scheler did, leads us to appreciate the moral and empirical limits of liberal devices that mean to regulate our actions "from the outside." Such devices, like the law, may not only carry pernicious effects for freedom but, more troublingly, oftentimes "erase their traces," concealing the very ways in which they are detrimental to a richer experience of subjectivity. According to Alfaro Altamirano, Bergson's and Scheler's conception of intuition and personal authority puts contemporary discussions about populism in a different light: It shows that liberalism would only at its own peril deny the anthropological, moral, and political importance of the bearers of charismatic authority. Personal authority thus understood relies on a dense, but elusive, notion of personality, for which personal authority is not only consistent with freedom, but even contributes to it in decisive ways.
The philosopher Wittgenstein is considered by many to be the most influential and significant of the 20th century. This book introduces him to students of theology and focuses on his writings dealing with theological issues such as the inner life, immortality of the soul, and the relationship of the believer to church and tradition.
This collection of writings from Pierre Hadot (1992-2010) presents, for the first time, previously unreleased and in some cases untranslated materials from one of the world's most prominent classical philosophers and historians of thought. As a passionate proponent of philosophy as a 'way of life' (most powerfully communicated in the life of Socrates), Pierre Hadot rejuvenated interest in the ancient philosophers and developed a philosophy based on their work which is peculiarly contemporary. His radical recasting of philosophy in the West was both provocative and substantial. Indeed, Michel Foucault cites Pierre Hadot as a major influence on his work. This beautifully written, lucid collection of writings will not only be of interest to historians, classicists and philosophers but also those interested in nourishing, as Pierre Hadot himself might have put it, a 'spiritual life'.
G.E.M. Anscombe (1919-2001) was one of the most important, outspoken, and misunderstood philosophers of the twentieth century. More than anyone else she revived virtue ethics and the philosophy of action. She was also almost alone in publicly opposing Oxford University's decision to award an honorary degree to President Truman. She regarded his decision to authorize bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki as murderous. Some liberals admire her for this stand, but conservatives also admire her for her opposition to abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage. Clearly her values were not those of her times. This led her to reflect on the differences, producing such works as Modern Moral Philosophy, in which she rejected all modern theories of ethics. In this paper she coins the term "consequentialism" to describe the dominant view, which she rejects, that what matters morally is the results of what one does. Put crudely, the ends can justify the means. If enough lives can be saved by targeting civilians, then civilians should be targeted. Against this, Anscombe insisted that certain actions are forbidden, which prompted her interest in the nature of action and its relation to a person's character. Whether one agrees with her or not, these are all issues that continue to be relevant and on which Anscombe's views are always strong and intelligently defended. Her presentation of these views, unfortunately, is often dense, and they are often badly misunderstood even by some very able minds. Anscombe's Moral Philosophy clarifies what Anscombe thought about ethics, showing how her different ideas connect and how she supported them. It also evaluates her reasoning, showing that it is stronger in some parts than in others. The five main chapters of the book deal in turn with her work on military ethics (including the so-called doctrine of double effect), her rejection of consequentialism, her attack on the modern, atheist notion of moral obligation, her analysis of intention and its relevance for ethics, an
Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics develops the Foucauldian concept of productive power through examining the ways in which the Chinese government tried to mobilize the population to embrace its Olympic project through deploying various sets of strategies and tactics. It argues that the multifaceted strategies, tactics, and discourses deployed by the Chinese authorities sustain an order of things and values in such a way that drive individuals to commit themselves actively to the goals of the party-state. The book examines how these processes of subjectification are achieved by zooming in on five specific groups of the population: athletes, young Olympic volunteers, taxi drivers, Chinese citizens targeted by place-making projects, and the Hong Kong population. In doing so it probes critically into the role of individuals and how they take on the governmental ideas to become responsible autonomous subjects.
Philosophers and Scholars offers a map of possible research conceptions and methods for the study of Jewish philosophy. Jonathan Cohen brings together the views of three of the greatest scholar-thinkers in the area of Jewish philosophy of the twentieth century, including Harry Austryn Wolfson (1887D1974), Julius Guttmann (1880D1950), and Leo Strauss (1899D1973). Each thinker's construction of Jewish philosophy is presented through individual definitions of Judaism and philosophy, understandings of its historical development, and analyses of the canons used in interpretations of Jewish philosophical texts. Cohen approaches the history of Jewish philosophy from a personal and fervently held Jewish philosophical perspective. This rich and fascinating text imparts new perspectives and theses on the research orientations of Wolfson, Guttmann, and Strauss. Philosophers and Scholars will captivate those interested in religious studies and philosophy.
The focus in this book is on the philosophy of William James as it relates to his conceptions of "pure" and ordinary experience, the respective natures of self and world, the interrelations of experience, self, and world, the awareness of a common world by two or more selves, and the extent to which and means by which those selves can gain access to one another's personal consciousness. The book provides explications and critical interpretations of these themes in James's philosophy and, when appropriate, makes substantive suggestions for their clarification and improvement. It defends the thesis that these themes offer a promising basis for building a credible philosophy of mind and its relations to the world, including its relations to other minds in the world. It considers at length two recent objections to empiricism as an epistemological program and defends empiricism in general and James's brand of empiricism in particular (what he called radical empiricism) against these objections. Finally, it argues the need for and sketches some outlines for a greatly expanded, enriched, and multi-dimensional radical materialism and shows why and how the development of such a materialistic metaphysics can be integrated with James's philosophy of radical empiricism.
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