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In Nietzsche's first book The Birth of Tragedy (1872), cultural renewal is paramount among his concerns. In the person of Richard Wagner, Nietzsche saw someone who might bring together a fragmented and directionless modern society through the creation of tragic festival that, through its mythic content, would allegedly give renewed meaning and purpose to human life. The standard story about Nietzsche's philosophical development is that he becomes disillusioned with this project and his mature philosophy undergoes a radical shift. Instead of reposing his hopes in a broader culture, he comes to occupy himself instead with the fate of a few great individuals, or, at the extreme, perhaps mainly with his own quasi-artistic self-cultivation. On these readings, to the extent that he remains concerned with culture at all, it is only as something whose noxious influence threatens this cadre of elite individuals. Nietzsche on the Decadence and Flourishing of Culture questions this individualist reading that has become prevalent, and develops an alternative interpretation of Nietzsche as a more social thinker who sees collective cultural achievements as no less important. Great individuals are not all that matter. Andrew Huddleston uses Nietzsche's perfectionistic ideal of a flourishing culture and his diagnostics of cultural malaise as a point of departure for reconsidering many of the central themes in Nietzsche's ethics and social philosophy, as well as for understanding the interconnections with the form of cultural criticism that was part and parcel of his distinctive philosophical enterprise.
H?l?ne Cixous is more than an influential theorist. She is also a groundbreaking author and playwright. Combining an idiosyncratic mix of autobiographical and fictional narrative with a host of philosophical and poetic observations, Cixous's writing matches the kaleidoscopic nature of her thought, offering new ways of conceptualizing sex, relationships, identity, and the self, among other topics.
Yet, as Jacques Derrida once observed, a "profound misunderstanding" hangs over the accomplishments of Cixous, with many believing the intellectual excelled only at theoretical exploration. Providing a truly liberal selection of her writings from throughout her career, Marta Segarra rediscovers Cixous's acts of invention for a new generation to enjoy. Divided into thematic concerns, these works fully capture Cixous's genius for merging fiction, theory, and the experience of living. They discuss dreaming in the feminine, Algeria and Germany, love and the other, the animal, Derrida, and the theater. They defy classification, locking literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis into thrilling new patterns of engagement. Whether readers are familiar with Cixous or are approaching her thought for the first time, all will find fresh perspectives on gender, fiction, drama, philosophy, religion, and the postcolonial.
What is the relationship between our perceptions and reality? What is the relationship between the mind and the body? These are questions with which philosophers have grappled for centuries, and they are topics of considerable contemporary debate as well. Hilary Putnam has approached the divisions between perception and reality and between mind and body with great creativity throughout his career. Now, in "The Threefold Cord: Mind, Body, and World, " he expounds upon these issues, elucidating both the strengths and weaknesses of current schools of thought. With his characteristic wit and acuity, Putnam offers refreshing solutions to some of philosophy's most vexing problems.
Putnam first examines the problem of realism: is objective truth possible? He acknowledges the deep impasse between empirical and idealist approaches to this question, critiquing them both, however, by highlighting the false assumption they share, that we cannot perceive the world directly. Drawing on the work of J. L. Austin and William James, Putnam develops a subtle and creative alternative, which he calls "natural realism."
The second part of the book explores the mind-body question: is the mind independent of our interactions with the physical world? Again, Putnam critically assesses two sharply antithetical contemporary approaches and finds them both lacking. "The Threefold Cord" shows the entire mind-body debate to be miscast and draws on the later work of Wittgenstein, once more advancing original views on perception and thought and their relationship with both the body and the external world. Finally, Putnam takes up two related problems -- the role of causality in human behavior and whether or not thoughts and sensations have an "existence" all their own.
With Putnam's lucid prose and insightful examples, "The Threefold Cord" loosens the Gordian knots into which philosophy has bound itself over the issue of epistemology.
The claim that contemporary analytic philosophers rely extensively on intuitions as evidence is almost universally accepted in current meta-philosophical debates and it figures prominently in our self-understanding as analytic philosophers. No matter what area you happen to work in and what views you happen to hold in those areas, you are likely to think that philosophizing requires constructing cases and making intuitive judgments about those cases. This assumption also underlines the entire experimental philosophy movement: only if philosophers rely on intuitions as evidence are data about non-philosophers' intuitions of any interest to us. Our alleged reliance on the intuitive makes many philosophers who don't work on meta-philosophy concerned about their own discipline: they are unsure what intuitions are and whether they can carry the evidential weight we allegedly assign to them. The goal of this book is to argue that this concern is unwarranted since the claim is false: it is not true that philosophers rely extensively (or even a little bit) on intuitions as evidence. At worst, analytic philosophers are guilty of engaging in somewhat irresponsible use of 'intuition'-vocabulary. While this irresponsibility has had little effect on first order philosophy, it has fundamentally misled meta-philosophers: it has encouraged meta-philosophical pseudo-problems and misleading pictures of what philosophy is.
Kant's ethical thought remains one of the most influential, yet notoriously challenging, systems in the history of philosophy. This volume provides a sympathetic but critical reconstruction of the main strands of Kant's ethics, focusing on the most commonly read of Kant's ethical works, the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Part I outlines Kant's arguments in defense of his Categorical Imperative, as well as elaborating Kant's understanding of dignity and human freedom. Part II addresses the most common objections to Kant's ethics, including challenges to the Formula of Universal Law; Kant's controversial ethical stances on suicide, sex and marriage, and non-human animals; and the place of reason, sentiment, and happiness in Kant's ethics. For scholars and specialists alike, the volume offers a clear and accessible account of what Kantian morality both offers us and asks of us.
Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2015 Jean-Paul Sartre is often seen as the quintessential public intellectual, but this was not always the case. Until the mid-1940s he was not so well-known, even in France. Then suddenly, in a very short period of time, Sartre became an intellectual celebrity. How can we explain this remarkable transformation? The Existentialist Moment retraces Sartre's career and provides a compelling new explanation of his meteoric rise to fame. Baert takes the reader back to the confusing and traumatic period of the Second World War and its immediate aftermath and shows how the unique political and intellectual landscape in France at this time helped to propel Sartre and existentialist philosophy to the fore. The book also explores why, from the early 1960s onwards, in France and elsewhere, the interest in Sartre and existentialism eventually waned. The Existentialist Moment ends with a bold new theory for the study of intellectuals and a provocative challenge to the widespread belief that the public intellectual is a species now on the brink of extinction.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. Regarded as the father of existentialist philosophy, he was also a political critic, moralist, playwright, novelist, and author of biographies and short stories. Thomas R. Flynn provides the first book-length account of Sartre as a philosopher of the imaginary, mapping the intellectual development of his ideas throughout his life, and building a narrative that is not only philosophical but also attentive to the political and literary dimensions of his work. Exploring Sartre's existentialism, politics, ethics, and ontology, this book illuminates the defining ideas of Sartre's oeuvre: the literary and the philosophical, the imaginary and the conceptual, his descriptive phenomenology and his phenomenological concept of intentionality, and his conjunction of ethics and politics with an 'egoless' consciousness. It will appeal to all who are interested in Sartre's philosophy and its relation to his life.
"I define the Neutral as that which outplays the paradigm, or rather I call Neutral everything that baffles paradigm." With these words, Roland Barthes describes a concept that profoundly shaped his work and was the subject of a landmark series of lectures delivered in 1978 at the Coll?ge de France, just two years before his death. Not published in France until 2002, and appearing in English for the first time, these creative and engaging lectures deepen our understanding of Roland Barthes's intellectual itinerary and reveal his distinctive style as thinker and teacher.
The Neutral ( "le neutre"), as Barthes describes it, escapes or undoes the paradigmatic binary oppositions that structure and produce meaning in Western thought and discourse. These binaries are found in all aspects of human society ranging from language to sexuality to politics. For Barthes, the attempt to deconstruct or escape from these binaries has profound ethical, philosophical, and linguistic implications.
"The Neutral" is comprised of the prewritten texts from which Barthes lectured and centers around 23 "figures," also referred to as "traits" or "twinklings," that are possible embodiments of the Neutral (sleep, silence, tact, etc.) or of the anti-Neutral (anger, arrogance, conflict, etc.). His lectures draw on a diverse set of authors and intellectual traditions, including Lao-tzu, Tolstoy, German mysticism, classical philosophy, Rousseau, Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, and John Cage. Barthes's idiosyncratic approach to his subjects gives the lectures a playful, personal, and even joyous quality that enhances his rich insights.
In addition to his reflections on a variety of literary and scholarly works, Barthes's personal convictions and the events of his life shaped the course and content of the lectures. Most prominently, as Barthes admits, the recent death of his mother and the idea of mourning shape several of his lectures.
What does it take to be subjectively free in an objectively rational social order? In this book Andreja Novakovic offers a fresh interpretation of Hegel's account of ethical life by focusing on his concept of habit or 'second nature'. Novakovic addresses two central and difficult issues facing any interpretation of his Philosophy of Right: why Hegel thinks that it is is better to relate unreflectively to the laws of ethical life, and which forms of reflection, especially critical reflection, remain available within ethical life. Her interpretation draws on numerous parts of Hegel's system, particularly on his 'Anthropology' and his Phenomenology of Spirit, and also explores connections between his account and those of other philosophers. Her aim is to argue that Hegel has a compelling conception of the ordinary ethical standpoint which takes seriously both the virtues and the perils of reflection.
Facebook claims that it is building a "global community." Whether this sounds utopian, dystopian, or simply self-promotional, there is no denying that social-media platforms have altered social interaction, political life, and outlooks on the world, even for people who do not regularly use them. In this book, Roberto Simanowski takes Facebook as a starting point to investigate our social-media society--and its insidious consequences for our concept of the self. Simanowski contends that while they are often denounced as outlets for narcissism and self-branding, social networks and the practices they cultivate in fact remake the self in their image. Sharing is the outsourcing of one's experiences, encouraging unreflective self-narration rather than conscious self-determination. Instead of experiencing the present, we are stuck ceaselessly documenting and archiving it. We let our lives become episodic autobiographies whose real author is the algorithm lurking behind the interface. As we go about accumulating more material for the platform to arrange for us, our sense of self becomes diminished--and Facebook shapes a subject who no longer minds. Social-media companies' relentless pursuit of personal data for advertising purposes presents users with increasingly targeted, customized information, attenuating cultural memory and fracturing collective identity. Presenting a creative, philosophically informed perspective that speaks candidly to a shared reality, Facebook Society asks us to come to terms with the networked world for our own sake and for all those with whom we share it.
In this wide-ranging and authoritative volume, leading scholars engage with the philosophy and writings of Wilhelm Dilthey, a key figure in nineteenth-century thought. Their chapters cover his innovative philosophical strategies and explore how they can be understood in relation to their historical situation, as well as presenting incisive interpretations of Dilthey's arguments, including their development, their content, and their influence on later thought. A key focus is on how Dilthey's work remains relevant to current debates around art and literature, the biographical and autobiographical self, knowledge, language, science, culture, history, society, and psychology and the embodied mind. The volume will be important for researchers in hermeneutics, aesthetics, practical philosophy, and the history of German philosophy, providing a valuable introduction to Dilthey's work as well as detailed critical analysis of its ongoing significance.
We are living through years of great importance, marked by the unstoppable evolution of technology, science and the information society. This book brings together twenty-two essays written by prestigious researchers from the world's leading universities on areas as diverse as crucial to our future: climate change, artificial intelligence, economics, cyber-security and geopolitics, democracy, anthropology, new media, astrophysics and cosmology, nanotechnology, biomedicine, globalisation, gender theory and the cities of the future. Text by Michelle Baddeley, Virginia Burkett, Manuel Castells, Nancy Chau, Barry Eichengreen, Amos N. Guiora, Ravi Kanbur, Ramon Lopez de Mantaras, Maria Martinon-Torres, Jose M. Mato, Diana Owen, Alex Pentland, Carlo Ratti, Martin Rees, Victoria Robinson, Daniela Rus, Jose Manuel Sanchez-Ron, Vivien A. Schmidt, Samuel H. Sternberg, Sandip Tiwari, Ernesto Zedillo, Yang Xu.
This text is a full transcript of the lectures given by Michel Foucault at the College de France in 1975-76. The main theme of the lectures is the contention that war can be used to analyze power relations. Foucault contends that politics is a continuation of war by other means. Thus, any constitutional theory of sovereignty and right is an attempt to refute the fact that power relations are based upon a relationship of conflict, violence and domination.;The book is coloured with historical examples, drawn from the early modern period in both England and France, with digressions into subjects as diverse as classical French tragedy and the gothic novel.
J rgen Habermas and John Rawls are perhaps the two most renowned and influential figures in social and political philosophy of the second half of the twentieth century. In the 1990s, they had a famous exchange in the Journal of Philosophy. Quarreling over the merits of each other's accounts of the shape and meaning of democracy and legitimacy in a contemporary society, they also revealed how great thinkers working in different traditions read--and misread--one another's work. In this book, James Gordon Finlayson examines the Habermas-Rawls debate in context and considers its wider implications. He traces their dispute from its inception in their earliest works to the 1995 exchange and its aftermath, as well as its legacy in contemporary debates. Finlayson discusses Rawls's Political Liberalism and Habermas's Between Facts and Norms, considering them as the essential background to the dispute and using them to lay out their different conceptions of justice, politics, democratic legitimacy, individual rights, and the normative authority of law. He gives a detailed analysis and assessment of their contributions, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their different approaches to political theory, conceptions of democracy, and accounts of religion and public reason, and he reflects on the ongoing significance of the debate. The Habermas-Rawls Debate is an authoritative account of the crucial intersection of two major political theorists and an explication of why their dispute continues to matter.
First published in 1974, Libidinal Economy is a major work of twentieth century continental philosophy. In it, Lyotard develops the idea of economies driven by libidinal `energies' or `intensities' which he claims flow through all structures, such as the human body and political or social events. He uses this idea to interpret a diverse range of subjects including political economy, Marxism, sexual politics, semiotics and psychoanalysis. Lyotard also carries out a broad critique of philosophies of desire, as expounded by Deleuze and Guattari, Nietzsche, Bataille, Foucault and de Sade.
Hartmut Rosa advances an account of the temporal structure of society from the perspective of critical theory. He identifies three categories of change in the tempo of modern social life: technological acceleration, evident in transportation, communication, and production; the acceleration of social change, reflected in cultural knowledge, social institutions, and personal relationships; and acceleration in the pace of life, which happens despite the expectation that technological change should increase an individual's free time. According to Rosa, both the structural and cultural aspects of our institutions and practices are marked by the "shrinking of the present," a decreasing time period during which expectations based on past experience reliably match the future. When this phenomenon combines with technological acceleration and the increasing pace of life, time seems to flow ever faster, making our relationships to each other and the world fluid and problematic. It is as if we are standing on "slipping slopes," a steep social terrain that is itself in motion and in turn demands faster lives and technology. As Rosa deftly shows, this self-reinforcing feedback loop fundamentally determines the character of modern life.
Nietzsche wrote The Gay Science, which he later described as "perhaps my most personal book", when he was at the height of his intellectual powers, and the reader will find it an extensive and sophisticated treatment of the philosophical themes and views most central to Nietzsche's own thought and most influential on later thinkers. This volume presents the work in a new translation by Josefine Nauckhoff, with an introduction by Bernard Williams that elucidates the work's main themes and discusses their continuing importance.
In this book, the author shows that it is necessary to enrich the conceptual frame of the theory of rational choice beyond consequentialism. He argues that consequentialism as a general theory of rational action fails and that this does not force us into the dichotomy teleology vs deontology. The unity of practical reason can be saved without consequentialism. In the process, he presents insightful criticism of standard models of action and rational choice. This will help readers discover a new perspective on the theory of rationality. The approach is radical: It transcends the reductive narrowness of instrumental rationality without denying its practical impact. Actions do exist that are outlined in accordance to utility maximizing or even self-interest maximizing. Yet, not all actions are to be understood in these terms. Actions oriented around social roles, for example, cannot count as irrational only because there is no known underlying maximizing heuristic. The concept of bounded rationality tries to embed instrumental rationality into a form of life to highlight limits of our cognitive capabilities and selective perceptions. However, the agent is still left within the realm of cost-benefit-reasoning. The idea of social preferences or meta-preferences cannot encompass the plurality of human actions. According to the author they ignore the plurality of reasons that drive agency. Hence, they coerce agency in fitting into a theory that undermines humanity. His theory of structural rationality acknowledges lifeworld patterns of interaction and meaning.
In the most comprehensive account to date of Walter Benjamin's philosophy of language, Alexander Stern explores the nature of meaning by putting Benjamin in dialogue with Wittgenstein. Known largely for his essays on culture, aesthetics, and literature, Walter Benjamin also wrote on the philosophy of language. This early work is famously obscure and considered hopelessly mystical by some. But for Alexander Stern, it contains important insights and anticipates-in some respects surpasses-the later thought of a central figure in the philosophy of language, Ludwig Wittgenstein. As described in The Fall of Language, Benjamin argues that "language as such" is not a means for communicating an extra-linguistic reality but an all-encompassing medium of expression in which everything shares. Borrowing from Johann Georg Hamann's understanding of God's creation as communication to humankind, Benjamin writes that all things express meanings, and that human language does not impose meaning on the objective world but translates meanings already extant in it. He describes the transformations that language as such undergoes while making its way into human language as the "fall of language." This is a fall from "names"-language that responds mimetically to reality-to signs that designate reality arbitrarily. While Benjamin's approach initially seems alien to Wittgenstein's, both reject a designative understanding of language; both are preoccupied with Russell's paradox; and both try to treat what Wittgenstein calls "the bewitchment of our understanding by means of language." Putting Wittgenstein's work in dialogue with Benjamin's sheds light on its historical provenance and on the turn in Wittgenstein's thought. Although the two philosophies diverge in crucial ways, in their comparison Stern finds paths for understanding what language is and what it does.
In this important new book, the leading philosopher Francois Laruelle examines the role of intellectuals in our societies today, specifically with regards to criminal justice. He argues that, rather than concerning themselves with abstract philosophical notions like justice, truth and violence, intellectuals should focus on the human victims. Drawing on his influential theory of `non-philosophy', he shows how we can submit the theorizing of intellectuals to the scrutiny of the everyday suffering of the victims of crime. In the course of a wide-ranging discussion with Philippe Petit, Laruelle suspends the presumed authority of intellectuals by challenging the image of the `dominant intellectual' exemplified by philosophers such as Sartre, Foucault, Lyotard and Debray. In place of domination, he puts forward instead a theory of `determination': the determined intellectual is one whose character is conditioned by his relationship to the victim, rather than one who attempts to dominate the victim's experience through a process of theorizing. While philosophy consistently takes the voice away from victims of suffering, non-philosophy is able to construct a theory of violence and crime that gives voice to the victim. This highly original book will be essential reading for all those interested in contemporary French philosophy and all those concerned with justice in the modern world.
Irreverent and electrifying, when A. J. Ayer’s epoch-making work was published in 1936 it shook the foundations of British philosophy, and made its author notorious. He argues that if you cannot prove a statement by scientific methods, or by experience, it is literally meaningless. In this sense, everything else – morals, aesthetics, religion, philosphy itself – becomes nonsensical. For example, to say that murder is wrong is a meaningless statement – you are simply saying that you do not like it. Ayer’s shocking argument, known as Logical Positivism, was a direct challenge to orthodox morality. Yet it became a classic text, revitalizing British philosophy and setting it on an entirely new course.
Simone Weil was one of the foremost thinkers of the twentieth century: a philosopher, theologian, critic, sociologist and political activist. This anthology spans the wide range of her thought, and includes an extract from her best-known work 'The Need for Roots', exploring the ways in which modern society fails the human soul; her thoughts on the misuse of language by those in power; and the essay 'Human Personality', a late, beautiful reflection on the rights and responsibilities of every individual. All are marked by the unique combination of literary eloquence and moral perspicacity that characterised Weil's ideas and inspired a generation of thinkers and writers both in and outside her native France.
Having lost much of its political clout and theoretical power, communism no longer represents an appealing alternative to capitalism. In its original Marxist formulation, communism promised an ideal of development, but only through a logic of war, and while a number of reformist governments still promote this ideology, their legitimacy has steadily declined since the fall of the Berlin wall. Separating communism from its metaphysical foundations, which include an abiding faith in the immutable laws of history and an almost holy conception of the proletariat, Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala recast Marx's theories at a time when capitalism's metaphysical moorings -- in technology, empire, and industrialization -- are buckling. While Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri call for a return of the revolutionary left, Vattimo and Zabala fear this would lead only to more violence and failed political policy. Instead, they adopt an antifoundationalist stance drawn from the hermeneutic thought of Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, and Richard Rorty.Hermeneutic communism leaves aside the ideal of development and the general call for revolution; it relies on interpretation rather than truth and proves more flexible in different contexts. Hermeneutic communism motivates a resistance to capitalism's inequalities yet intervenes against violence and authoritarianism by emphasizing the interpretative nature of truth. Paralleling Vattimo and Zabala's well-known work on the weakening of religion, Hermeneutic Communism realizes the fully transformational, politically effective potential of Marxist thought.
John Hick was one of the twentieth century's most influential and creative philosophers of religion. In this book, Sinkinson charts the development of Hick's thinking over his life and how this shaped his engagement with world religions. Attention is paid to Hick's epistemology and how this was key in his interpretation of both his own religion and the phenomena of religious pluralism. It can be shown that the development of Hick's thought is the legacy of the liberal theology of the Enlightenment. The project, begun by Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Schleiermacher, is shown to find clear expression in the developed theology of religions proposed by Hick. The book includes a survey of his important books and a transcript of the last recorded radio dialogue that Hick had with an evangelical theologian.
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