David Hotchkiss Price, a specialist in Renaissance cultural and ecclesiastical history, has broken new ground with this comprehensive analysis of Renaissance humanism as the foundation for Dürer's religious art and, in particular, for Dürer's reception of the Reformation movements. Price also offers an innovative study of the relationships between text and image, and a pioneering assessment of the representation of Jews in Dürer's religious art.
David Price is Associate Professor of History and of Church History, Southern Methodist University.
In Animal Rites, Cary Wolfe examines contemporary notions of humanism and ethics by reconstructing a little known but crucial underground tradition of theorizing the animal from Wittgenstein, Cavell, and Lyotard to Lévinas, Derrida, Žižek, Maturana, and Varela. Through detailed readings of how discourses of race, sexuality, colonialism, and animality interact in twentieth-century American culture, Wolfe explores what it means, in theory and critical practice, to take seriously "the question of the animal."
In Animate Literacies Nathan Snaza proposes a new theory of literature and literacy in which he outlines how literacy is both constitutive of the social and used as a means to define the human. Weaving new materialism with feminist, queer, and decolonial thought, Snaza theorizes literacy as a contact zone in which humans, nonhuman animals, and nonvital objects such as chairs and paper all become active participants. In readings of classic literature by Kate Chopin, Frederick Douglass, James Joyce, Toni Morrison, Mary Shelley, and others, Snaza emphasizes the key roles that affect and sensory experiences play in literacy. Snaza upends common conceptions of literacy and its relation to print media, showing instead how such understandings reinforce dehumanizations linked to dominant imperialist, heterosexist, and capitalist definitions of the human. The path toward disrupting such exclusionary, humanist frameworks, Snaza contends, lies in formulating alternative practices of literacy and literary study that escape disciplined knowledge production.
With the rise of imperialism, the centuries-old European tradition of humanist scholarship as the key to understanding the world was jeopardized. Nowhere was this more true than in nineteenth-century Germany. It was there, Andrew Zimmerman argues, that the battle lines of today's "culture wars" were first drawn when anthropology challenged humanism as a basis for human scientific knowledge.
Drawing on sources ranging from scientific papers and government correspondence to photographs, pamphlets, and police reports of "freak shows," Zimmerman demonstrates how German imperialism opened the door to antihumanism. As Germans interacted more frequently with peoples and objects from far-flung cultures, they were forced to reevaluate not just those peoples, but also the construction of German identity itself. Anthropologists successfully argued that their discipline addressed these issues more productively—and more accessibly—than humanistic studies.
Scholars of anthropology, European and intellectual history, museum studies, the history of science, popular culture, and colonial studies will welcome this book.
Paul Radin, famed ethnographer of the Winnebago, joined Fisk University in the late 1920s. During his three-year appointment, he and graduate student Andrew Polk
Watson collected autobiographies and religious conversion narratives from elderly African Americans. Their texts represent the first systematic record of slavery as told by
former slaves. That innovative, subject-centered research complemented like-minded scholarship by African American historians reacting against the disparaging portrayals of black people by white historians. Radin’s manuscript focusing on this research was never published. Utilizing the Fisk archives, the unpublished manuscript, and other archival and published sources, Anthropology and Radical Humanism revisits the Radin-Watson collection and allied research at Fisk. Radin regarded each narrative as the unimpeachable self-representation of a unique, thoughtful individual, precisely the perspective marking his earlier Winnebago work. As a radical humanist within Boasian anthropology, Radin was an outspoken critic of racial explanations of human affairs then pervading not only popular thinking but also historical and sociological scholarship. His research among African Americans and Native Americans thus places him in the vanguard of the anti-racist scholarship marking American anthropology. Anthropology and Radical Humanism sets Paul Radin’s findings within the broader context of his discipline, African American culture, and his career-defining work among the Winnebago.
An ethically-based approach to human relations for the media age.
Otherness, alterity, the alien--over the course of the past fifty years many of us have based our hopes for more ethical relationships on concepts of difference. Combining philosophy, literary criticism, fiction, autobiography, and real and imagined correspondence, Ann Weinstone proposes that only when we stop ordering the other to be other--whether technological, animal, or simply inanimate--will we truly become posthuman.
Posthumanism has thus far focused nearly exclusively on human-technology relations. Avatar Bodies develops a posthumanist vocabulary for human-to-human relationships that turns our capacities for devotion, personality, and pleasure. Drawing on both the philosophies and practices of Indian Tantra, Weinstone argues for the impossibility of absolute otherness; we are all avatar bodies, consisting of undecidably shared gestures, skills, memories, sensations, beliefs, and affects.
Weinstone calls her book a "tantra"--by which she means a set of instructions for practices aimed at sensitizing the reader to the inherent permeability of self to other, self to world. This tantra for posthumanism elaborates devotional gestures that will expose us to more unfettered contacts and the transformative touch.
Ann Weinstone is assistant professor of literature and new media at Northwestern University and the winner of the 1994 Chelsea Award for Fiction.
What does it mean, and what should it mean to be human?
In this collection of essays, scholars place the philosophies and theories of animal studies and posthumanism into conversation with biblical studies. Authors cross and disrupt boundaries and categories through close readings of stories where the human body is invaded, possessed, or driven mad. Articles explore the ethics of the human use of animals and the biblical contributions to the question. Other essays use the image of lions—animals that appear not only in the wild, but also in the Bible, ancient Near Eastern texts, and philosophy—to illustrate the potential these theories present for students of the Bible. Contributors George Aichele, Denise Kimber Buell, Benjamin H. Dunning, Heidi Epstein, Rhiannon Graybill, Jennifer L. Koosed, Eric Daryl Meyer, Stephen D. Moore, Hugh Pyper, Robert Paul Seesengood, Yvonne Sherwood, Ken Stone, and Hannah M. Strømmen present an open invitation for further work in the field of posthumanism.
Coverage of texts that explore the boundaries between animal, human, and divinity
Discussion of the term posthumanism and how it applies to biblical studies
The activist tradition in American literature has long testified to the power of words to change people and the power of people to change the world, yet in recent years many professional humanists have chosen to distract themselves with a postmodern fundamentalism of indeterminacy and instability rather than engage with social and political issues. Throughout her bold and provocative call to action, Elizabeth Ammons argues that the responsibility now facing humanists is urgent: inside and outside academic settings, they need to revive the liberal arts as a progressive cultural force that offers workable ideas and inspiration in the real-world struggle to achieve social and environmental justice. Brave New Words challenges present and future literary scholars and teachers to look beyond mere literary critique toward the concrete issue of social change and how to achieve it. Calling for a profound realignment of thought and spirit in the service of positive social change, Ammons argues for the continued importance of multiculturalism in the twenty-first century despite attacks on the concept from both right and left. Concentrating on activist U.S. writers—from ecocritics to feminists to those dedicated to exposing race and class biases, from Jim Wallis and Cornel West to Winona LaDuke and Paula Moya and many others—she calls for all humanists to link their work to the progressive literature of the last half century, to insist on activism in the service of positive change as part of their mission, and to teach the power of hope and action to their students.
As Ammons clearly demonstrates, much of American literature was written to expose injustice and motivate readers to work for social transformation. She challenges today’s academic humanists to address the issues of hope and purpose by creating a practical activist pedagogy that gives students the knowledge to connect their theoretical learning to the outside world. By relying on the transformative power of literature and replacing nihilism and powerlessness with conviction and faith, the liberal arts can offer practical, useful inspiration to everyone seeking to create a better world.
The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture investigates the emergence and meaning of the cult of death. Over the last three decades, Halloween has grown to rival Christmas in its popularity. Dark tourism has emerged as a rapidly expanding industry. “Corpse chic” and “skull style” have entered mainstream fashion, while elements of gothic, horror, torture porn, and slasher movies have streamed into more conventional genres. Monsters have become pop culture heroes: vampires, zombies, and serial killers now appeal broadly to audiences of all ages. This book breaks new ground by viewing these phenomena as aspects of a single movement and documenting its development in contemporary Western culture.
This book links the mounting demand for images of violent death with dramatic changes in death-related social rituals. It offers a conceptual framework that connects observations of fictional worlds—including The Twilight Saga, The Vampire Diaries, and the Harry Potter series—with real-world sociocultural practices, analyzing the aesthetic, intellectual, and historical underpinnings of the cult of death. It also places the celebration of death in the context of a longstanding critique of humanism and investigates the role played by 20th-century French theory, posthumanism, transhumanism, and the animal rights movement in shaping the current antihumanist atmosphere.
This timely, thought-provoking book will appeal to scholars of culture, film, literature, anthropology, and American and Russian studies, as well as general readers seeking to understand a defining phenomenon of our age.
The Dialectical Disputations, translated here for the first time into any modern language, is Valla’s principal contribution to the philosophy of language and logic. Valla sought to replace the scholastic tradition of Aristotelian logic with a new logic based on the historical usage of classical Latin and on a commonsense approach.
The Dialectical Disputations, translated here for the first time into any modern language, is Valla’s principal contribution to the philosophy of language and logic. Valla sought to replace the scholastic tradition of Aristotelian logic with a new logic based on the historical usage of classical Latin and on a commonsense approach.
We tend to think of imagination as private, originating from our innermost selves—and language as something that is created in communication. Turning this idea on its head, the contributors to Dialogical Imaginations start from the provocative premise that imagination and language are both inherently social constructs that determine how we perceive the world. In addition, the idea of imagination as a dialogical formation, where dialogue within the self can raise questions and can open up new topics for consideration, may also be applied to how societies as a whole perceive their own conditions.
With contributors from a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, media and film studies, art history, literature, and sociology, the book considers a wide variety of cultural manifestations of social perception. In the process, it offers a reevaluation of he concept of humanism, addressing key criticisms of by Foucault, Butler, and others.
Celebrated as a courtesan and poet, and as a woman of great intelligence and wit, Tullia d'Aragona (1510–56) entered the debate about the morality of love that engaged the best and most famous male intellects of sixteenth-century Italy. First published in Venice in 1547, but never before published in English, Dialogue on the Infinity of Love casts a woman rather than a man as the main disputant on the ethics of love.
Sexually liberated and financially independent, Tullia d'Aragona dared to argue that the only moral form of love between woman and man is one that recognizes both the sensual and the spiritual needs of humankind. Declaring sexual drives to be fundamentally irrepressible and blameless, she challenged the Platonic and religious orthodoxy of her time, which condemned all forms of sensual experience, denied the rationality of women, and relegated femininity to the realm of physicality and sin. Human beings, she argued, consist of body and soul, sense and intellect, and honorable love must be based on this real nature.
By exposing the intrinsic misogyny of prevailing theories of love, Aragona vindicates all women, proposing a morality of love that restores them to intellectual and sexual parity with men. Through Aragona's sharp reasoning, her sense of irony and humor, and her renowned linguistic skill, a rare picture unfolds of an intelligent and thoughtful woman fighting sixteenth-century stereotypes of women and sexuality.
Dialogues, Volume 1
Giovanni Gioviano Pontano Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PA8570.P5D53 2012 | Dewey Decimal 871.04
Giovanni Pontano (1426–1503), whose academic name was Gioviano, was the most important Latin poet of the fifteenth century as well as a leading statesman who served as prime minister to the Aragonese kings of Naples. His Dialogues are our best source for the humanist academy of Naples which Pontano led for several decades.
In The Difference Aesthetics Makes cultural critic Kandice Chuh asks what the humanities might be and do if organized around what she calls “illiberal humanism” instead of around the Western European tradition of liberal humanism that undergirds the humanities in their received form. Recognizing that the liberal humanities contribute to the reproduction of the subjugation that accompanies liberalism's definition of the human, Chuh argues that instead of defending the humanities, as has been widely called for in recent years, we should radically remake them. Chuh proposes that the work of artists and writers like Lan Samantha Chang, Carrie Mae Weems, Langston Hughes, Leslie Marmon Silko, Allan deSouza, Monique Truong, and others brings to bear ways of being and knowing that delegitimize liberal humanism in favor of more robust, capacious, and worldly senses of the human and the humanities. Chuh presents the aesthetics of illiberal humanism as vital to the creation of sensibilities and worlds capable of making life and lives flourish.
In this book, Douglas Biow traces the role that humanists played in the development of professions and professionalism in Renaissance Italy, and vice versa. For instance, humanists were initially quite hostile to medicine, viewing it as poorly adapted to their program of study. They much preferred the secretarial profession, which they made their own throughout the Renaissance and eventually defined in treatises in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Examining a wide range of treatises, poems, and other works that humanists wrote both as and about doctors, ambassadors, and secretaries, Biow shows how interactions with these professions forced humanists to make their studies relevant to their own times, uniting theory and practice in a way that strengthened humanism. His detailed analyses of writings by familiar and lesser-known figures, from Petrarch, Machiavelli, and Tasso to Maggi, Fracastoro, and Barbaro, will especially interest students of Renaissance Italy, but also anyone concerned with the rise of professionalism during the early modern period.
The Ecological Thought
Timothy Morton Harvard University Press, 2010 Library of Congress QH540.5.M66 2010 | Dewey Decimal 577.01
In this passionate, lucid, and surprising book, Timothy Morton argues that all forms of life are connected in a vast, entangling mesh. This interconnectedness penetrates all dimensions of life. No being, construct, or object can exist independently from the ecological entanglement, Morton contends, nor does “Nature” exist as an entity separate from the uglier or more synthetic elements of life.
Juxtaposing “ecumenism” and “jihad,” two words that many would consider strange and at odds with one another, Peter Kreeft argues that we need to change our current categories and alignments. We need to realize that we are at war and that the sides have changed radically. Documenting the spiritual and moral decay that has taken hold of modern society, Kreeft issues a wake-up call to all God-fearing Christians, Jews, and Muslims to unite together in a “religious war” against the common enemy of godless secular humanism, materialism, and immorality.
Aware of the deep theological differences of these monotheistic faiths, Kreeft calls for a moratorium on our polemics against one another so that we can form an alliance to fight together to save Western civilization.
“Be forewarned. This book pricks prejudices, jostles assumptions, and can do permanent harm to complacent Christianity. Definitely not recommended for people who are unprepared for a rollickingly adventurous journey into truths that might change them forever. Don’t say you were not warned.” – Fr. Richard John Neuhaus
“Peter Kreeft is one of the premier apologists in America today, witty, incisive and powerful. On the front lines in today’s culture war, Kreeft is one of our most valiant intellectual warriors.” – Charles Colson
“This racy little book opens up a far-reaching theme. With entertaining insight Kreeft looks into the attitudes, alliances, and strategies that today’s state of affairs requires of believers. Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox alike need to ponder Peter Kreeft’s vision of things – preferably, in discussion together. What if he is right?” – J.I. Packer
“With his usual brilliance and wit, Peter Kreeft offers us a combat man manual for the culture wars. Ecumenical Jihad is a reasoned defense of the rights of God and the duties of man, and a bold exhortation to spiritual warfare. It is wise, holy, and prophetic.” – Michael O’Brien, editor, Nazareth Journal, and author of many novels.
The thirteen essays in Educating for Professionalism examine the often conflicting ethical, social, emotional, and intellectual messages that medical institutions send to students about what it means to be a doctor. Because this disconnection between what medical educators profess and what students experience is partly to blame for the current crisis in medical professionalism, the authors offer timely, reflective analyses of the work and opportunities facing medical education if doctors are to win public trust.
In their drive to improve medical professionalism within the world of academic medicine, editors Delese Wear and Janet Bickel have assembled thought-provoking essays that elucidate the many facets of teaching, valuing, and maintaining medical professionalism in the middle of the myriad challenges facing medicine at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
The collection traces how the values of altruism and service can influence not only mission statements and admission policies but also the content of medical school ethics courses, student-led task forces, and mentoring programs, along with larger environmental issues in medical schools and the communities they serve.
Stanley Joel Reiser
Peter C. Williams
Frederic W. Hafferty
Lois Margaret Nora
Mary Anne C. Johnston
Tana A. Grady-Weliky
Cynthia N. Kettyle
Edward M. Hundert
Norma E. Wagoner
Frederick A. Miller
William D. Mellon
Edward J. Eckenfels
Lucy Wolf Tuton
Claudia H. Siegel
Timothy B. Campbell
This volume begins to show why the current period in humanistic studies could be known as "The Age of Edward Said." The collection brings together outstanding intellectuals from the wide variety of fields to which Edward Said, the most important humanist of his generation, has made contributions: literary criticism, postcolonial studies, musicology, Middle Eastern Studies, anthropology, and journalism.
Featured is a new interview with Said, conducted by W. J. T. Mitchell, in which Said discusses the importance of the visual to his thinking, specifically the works of Goya and Caravaggio, which in turn made possible Said's valuable contributions to our understanding of photography and painting. Other contributions reflect on Said's influences on the American public sphere; the subtle personal politics that inform the relationship between music and emotion; Said's importance to a thinking about "race before racism" and the disappearance of the American; and jazz man Jim Merod reflects on Said's "sublime lyrical abstractions."
Covering with insight the many debates Said so deftly entered and formed, the distinguished contributors to this volume reflect upon his oeuvre to create an atmosphere of thoughtfulness, questioning, and interactivity.
While the notion of the mind as information-processor—a kind of computational system—is widely accepted, many scientists and philosophers have assumed that this account of cognition shows that the mind's operations are characterizable independent of their relationship to the external world. Existential Cognition challenges the internalist view of mind, arguing that intelligence, thought, and action cannot be understood in isolation, but only in interaction with the outside world.
Arguing that the mind is essentially embedded in the external world, Ron McClamrock provides a schema that allows cognitive scientists to address such long-standing problems in artificial intelligence as the "frame" problem and the issue of "bounded" rationality. Extending this schema to cover progress in other studies of behavior, including language, vision, and action, McClamrock reinterprets the importance of the organism/environment distinction. McClamrock also considers the broader philosophical question of the place of mind in the world, particularly with regard to questions of intentionality, subjectivity, and phenomenology.
With implications for philosophy, cognitive and computer science, AI, and psychology, this book synthesizes state-of-the-art work in philosophy and cognitive science on how the mind interacts with the world to produce thoughts, ideas, and actions.
Kant’s proclamation of humankind’s emergence from “self-incurred immaturity” left his contemporaries with a puzzle: What models should we use to sculpt ourselves if we no longer look to divine grace or received authorities? Deftly uncovering the roots of this question in Rhineland mysticism, Pietist introspection, and the rise of the bildungsroman, Jennifer A. Herdt reveals bildung, or ethical formation, as the key to post-Kantian thought. This was no simple process of secularization, in which human beings took responsibility for something they had earlier left in the hands of God. Rather, theorists of bildung, from Herder through Goethe to Hegel, championed human agency in self-determination while working out the social and political implications of our creation in the image of God. While bildung was invoked to justify racism and colonialism by stigmatizing those deemed resistant to self-cultivation, it also nourished ideals of dialogical encounter and mutual recognition. Herdt reveals how the project of forming humanity lives on in our ongoing efforts to grapple with this complicated legacy.
Fragments for a History of a Vanishing Humanism brings together scholars working in prehistoric, classical, medieval, and early modern studies who are developing, from longer and slower historical perspectives, critical post/humanisms that explore: 1) the significance (historical, sociocultural, psychic, etc.) of human expression and affectivity; 2) the impact of technology and new sciences on what it means to be a human self; 3) the importance of art and literature in defining and enacting human selves; 4) the importance of history in defining the human; 5) the artistic plasticity of the human; 6) the question of a human collectivity—what is the value, and peril, of “being human” or “being post/human” together?; and finally, 7) the constructive, and destructive, relations (aesthetic, historical, and philosophical) of the human to the nonhuman.
This volume, edited by Myra Seaman and Eileen A. Joy, insists on the always provisional and contingent formations of the human, and of various humanisms, over time, while also aiming to demonstrate the different ways these formations emerge (and also disappear) in different times and places, from the most ancient past to the most contemporary present. The essays are offered as “fragments” because the authors do not believe there can ever be a “total history” of either the human or the post/human as they play themselves out in differing historical contexts. At the same time, the volume as a whole argues that defining what “the human” (or “post/human”) is has always been an ongoing, never finished cultural project.
Psychiatrist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Frantz Fanon is one of the most important intellectuals of the twentieth century. He presented powerful critiques of racism, colonialism, and nationalism in his classic books, Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961). This biography reintroduces Fanon for a new generation of readers, revisiting these enduring themes while also arguing for those less appreciated—namely, his anti-Manichean sensibility and his personal ethic of radical empathy, both of which underpinned his utopian vision of a new humanism. Written with clarity and passion, Christopher J. Lee’s account ultimately argues for the pragmatic idealism of Frantz Fanon and his continued importance today.
Tracing the interrelationship among play, poetic imitation, and power to the Hellenic world, Mihai I. Spariosu provides a revisionist model of cultural change in Greek antiquity. Challenging the traditional and static distinction made between archaic and later Greek culture, Spariosu’s perspective is grounded in a dialectical understanding of values whose dominance depends on cultural emphasis and which shifts through time. Building upon the scholarship of an earlier volume, Dionysus Reborn, Spariosu her continues to draw on Dionysus—the “God of many names,” of both poetic play and sacred power—as a mythical embodiment of the two sides of the classical Greek mentality. Combining philosophical reflection with close textual analysis, the author examines the divided nature of the Hellenic mentality in such primary canonic texts as the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Theogony, Works and Days, the most well-known of the Presocratic fragments, Euripides’ Bacchae, Aristophanes’ The Frogs, Plato’s Republic and Laws, and Aristotle’s Poetics and Politics. Spariosu’s model illuminates the many of the most enduring questions in contemporary humanistic study and addresses modern questions about the nature of the interrelation of poetry, ethics, and politics.
This book illuminates issues in medical ethics revolving around the complex bond between healer and patient, focusing on friendship and other important values in the healing relationship. Embracing medicine, philosophy, theology, and bioethics, it considers whether bioethical issues in medicine, nursing, and dentistry can be examined from the perspective of the healing relationship rather than external moral principles.
Distinguished contributors explore the role of the health professional, the moral basis of health care, greater emphasis on the humanities in medical education, and some of the current challenges facing healers today.
Martin Heidegger and Karl Marx remain two of the most influential thinkers in philosophy, in political science and other social sciences, and in the humanities. Yet there has never been a full-length study in English of the relationship between their ideas, and there has only been one study in German (from 1966). A Productive Dialogue fills this gap and contradicts the widely held assumption that Heidegger had no significant engagement with Marx. Hemming focuses on four related areas of inquiry—Heidegger’s reading of Marx; Marx’s relation to G. W. F. Hegel; Heidegger’s disastrous political involvement with National Socialism; and the significance of Hegel, Marx, Heidegger, and Friedrich Nietzsche for the politics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A Productive Dialogue explores the understanding of political processes, systems, and behavior that animates both thinkers.
Second edition. A comprehensive survey of historical literature produced in Italy during the Renaissance; a major contribution which discusses hundreds of authors who wrote in Latin or Italian in all parts of Italy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
History, the Human, and the World Between is a philosophical investigation of the human subject and its simultaneous implication in multiple and often contradictory ways of knowing. The eminent postcolonial theorist R. Radhakrishnan argues that human subjectivity is always constituted “between”: between subjective and objective, temporality and historicity, being and knowing, the ethical and the political, nature and culture, the one and the many, identity and difference, experience and system. In this major study, he suggests that a reconstituted phenomenology has a crucial role to play in mediating between generic modes of knowledge production and an experiential return to life. Keenly appreciative of poststructuralist critiques of phenomenology, Radhakrishnan argues that there is still something profoundly vulnerable at stake in the practice of phenomenology.
Radhakrishnan develops his rationale of the “between” through three linked essays where he locates the terms “world,” “history,” “human,” and “subject” between phenomenology and poststructuralism, and in the process sets forth a nuanced reading of the politics of a gendered postcolonial humanism. Critically juxtaposing the works of thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Adrienne Rich, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Michel Foucault, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger, David Harvey, and Ranajit Guha, Radhakrishnan examines the relationship between systems of thought and their worldly situations. History, the Human, and the World Between is a powerful argument for a theoretical perspective that combines the existential urgency of phenomenology with the discursive rigor of poststructuralist practices.
When we think of human rights we assume that they are meant to protect people from serious social, legal, and political abuses and to advance global justice. In Human Rights and the Care of the Self Alexandre Lefebvre turns this assumption on its head, showing how the value of human rights also lies in enabling ethical practices of self-transformation. Drawing on Foucault's notion of "care of the self," Lefebvre turns to some of the most celebrated authors and activists in the history of human rights–such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Henri Bergson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Charles Malik–to discover a vision of human rights as a tool for individuals to work on, improve, and transform themselves for their own sake. This new perspective allows us to appreciate a crucial dimension of human rights, one that can help us to care for ourselves in light of pressing social and psychological problems, such as loneliness, fear, hatred, patriarchy, meaninglessness, boredom, and indignity.
HumAnimal explores the experience of dehumanization as the privation of speech. Taking up the figure of silence as the space between human and animal, it traces the potential for an alternate political and ethical way of life beyond law. Employing the resources offered by deconstruction as well as an ontological critique of biopower, Kalpana Rahita Seshadri suggests that humAnimal, as the site of impropriety opened by racism and manifested by silence, can be political and hazardous to power.
Through the lens of such works as Coetzee’s Foe, Chesnutt’s “The Dumb Witness,” Dr. Itard’s “wild child,” and aerialist Philippe Petit’s Man on Wire, Seshadri lucidly brings Derrida’s concept of the trace and his theory of sovereignty into conversation with Agamben’s investigation of the analytics of power. The task is twofold: on the one hand, to question the logocentric presumption that determines the separation between human and animal, and on the other to examine the conflation of this separation as an instrument of power in the practice of racism. Thus HumAnimal details the differences and intersections between Derrida and Agamben in their respective approaches to power, claiming that to think simultaneously within the registers of deconstruction (which conceives of power as a symptom of the metaphysics of presence) and biopolitics (which conceives of power as the operation of difference) entails a specification of the political and ethical consequences that attends the two perspectives.
When considered as the potential of language to refuse the law of signification and semantics, silence can neutralize the exercise of power through language, and Seshadri’s inquiry discloses a counterpower that does not so much oppose or destroy the politics of the subject but rather neutralizes it and renders it ineffective.
While earlier critics have demonstrated significant insight into the relationship between the classical world and the early modern period, Humanism and Classical Crisis: Anxiety, Intertexts, and the Miltonic Memory, by Jacob Blevins, offers a new psychoanalytic approach to understanding classical reception, specifically during the early modern period. Blevins asserts that influence and imitation are primarily driven by anxious desires to identify the poetic self with the past while simultaneously affirming the autonomy and individuality of the self within its own cultural, ideological, and poetic moment. Since the poet cannot hold positions simultaneously in both past and present, anxiety irrupts as the poet fails to understand the fissures in his sense of identity and how that identity is articulated in poetic expression.
Blevins grounds his approach in the theories of Jacques Lacan, whose work challenges the very notions of what identity is and, as a result, exposes the complexities of identity formation. Areas and authors covered include imitations and translations of classical works of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England and France by Andrew Marvell, Edmund Spencer, Pierre Ronsard, Joachim Du Bellay, Ben Jonson, Sir Thomas Wyatt, and John Milton.
This book not only provides a new perspective on early modern poetic imitation, but also offers a foundational methodology for examining the classical presence within the modern self.
The Renaissance movement known as humanism eventually spread from Italy through all of western Europe, transforming early modern culture in ways that are still being felt and debated. Central to these debates—and to this book—is the question of whether (and how) the humanist movement contributed to the secularization of Western cultural traditions at the end of the Middle Ages. A preeminent scholar of Italian humanism, Riccardo Fubini approaches this question in a new way—by redefining the problem of secularization more carefully to show how humanists can at once be secularizers and religious thinkers. The result is a provocative vision of the humanist movement. Humanism and Secularization offers a nuanced account of humanists contesting medieval ideas about authority not in order to reject Christianity or even orthodoxy, but to claim for themselves the right to define what it meant to be a Christian. Fubini analyzes key texts by major humanists—isuch as Petrarch, Poggio, and Valla—from the first century of the movement. As he subtly works out these authors’ views on religion and the Church from both biographical and textual information, Fubini reveals in detail the new historical consciousness that animated the humanists in their reading of classical and patristic texts. His book as a whole shows convincingly just how radical the humanism of the first half of the fifteenth century was and how sharply it challenged well-entrenched ideas and institutions. Appearing here in English for the first time, his work provides a model set of readings of humanist texts and a critical perspective on Italian humanism that will alter and enrich discussion and understanding of the nature of the humanist movement.
Most of the existing research on economic history relies either solely or ultimately on calculations of material interest to explain the major events of the modern world. However, care must be taken not to rely too heavily on materialism, with its associated confidence in perfectly rational actors that simply do not exist. What is needed for a more cogent understanding of the long history of capitalist growth is a more realistic, human-centered approach that can take account of the role of nonmaterial values and beliefs, an approach convincingly articulated by Deirdre McCloskey in her landmark trilogy of books on the moral and ethical basis of modern economic life.
With Humanism Challenges Materialism in Economics and Economic History, Roderick Floud, Santhi Hejeebu, and David Mitch have brought together a distinguished group of scholars in economics, economic history, political science, philosophy, gender studies, and communications who synthesize and build on McCloskey’s work. The essays in this volume illustrate the ways in which the humanistic approach to economics that McCloskey pioneered can open up new vistas for the study of economic history and cultivate rich synergies with a wide range of disciplines. The contributors show how values and beliefs become embedded in the language of economics and shape economic outcomes. Chapters on methodology are accompanied by case studies discussing particular episodes in economic history.
The uniqueness and importance of Humanism in Crisis arises from the way in which a significant historical event—the end of the French Renaissance—is examined from several different perspectives in order to provide a thorough investigation of its causes and consequences. Although historians, philosophers, sociologists, and literary critics view the French Renaissance differently, they all seem to agree on the notion that something happened between 1580 and 1630—between Montaigne and Descartes—that transformed every aspect of society and that undermined the foundation of humanism in France, dividing the French Renaissance from the "Grand siècle" that followed it. The causes of this decline, however, are as obscure as a precise determination of when the French Renaissance "died." In Humanism in Crisis, fourteen internationally known scholars examine such topics as education, philosophy, scientific method, historical relativism, cosmography, literary genres, everyday life, medicine, and mythology and detect a series of crises that acted to bring about the decline of humanism and the end of the French Renaissance. The diversity of approaches allows a comprehensive vision of society to be presented. Moreover, several essays provide answers to questions asked in others, thus creating a sense of unity by relating individual contributions to each other.
How do people make sense of their experiences? How do they understand possibility? How do they limit possibility? These questions are central to all the human sciences. Here, Vincent Crapanzano offers a powerfully creative new way to think about human experience: the notion of imaginative horizons. For Crapanzano, imaginative horizons are the blurry boundaries that separate the here and now from what lies beyond, in time and space. These horizons, he argues, deeply influence both how we experience our lives and how we interpret those experiences, and here sets himself the task of exploring the roles that creativity and imagination play in our experience of the world.
Michael E. Bratman develops a planning theory of intention. Intentions are treated as elements of partial plans of action. These plans play basic roles in practical reasoning, roles that support the organization of our activities over time and socially. Bratman explores the impact of this approach on a wide range of issues, including the relation between intention and intentional action, and the distinction between intended and expected effects of what one intends.
With the exception of The Quest for Certainty (Volume 4) this fifth volume brings together Dewey’s writings for the 1929–1930 period.
During this time Dewey published 4 books and 50 articles on philosophical, educational, political, and social issues. His philosophical essays include “What Humanism Means to Me” and “What I Believe,” both of which express Dewey’s faith in man’s potentialities and intelligence, and a lively Journal of Philosophy exchange with Ernest Nagel, William Ernest Hocking, C. I. Lewis, and F. J.E. Woodbridge. Educational writings include The Sources of a Science of Education. The contents of this volume reflect Dewey’s increasing involvement in social and political problems.
The Legacy of Edward W. Said
William V. Spanos University of Illinois Press, 2008 Library of Congress CB18.S25S63 2009 | Dewey Decimal 973.91092
With the untimely death of Edward W. Said in 2003, various academic and public intellectuals worldwide have begun to reassess the writings of this powerful oppositional intellectual. Figures on the neoconservative right have already begun to discredit Said’s work as that of a subversive intent on slandering America’s benign global image and undermining its global authority. On the left, a significant number of oppositional intellectuals are eager to counter this neoconservative vilification, proffering a Said who, in marked opposition to the “anti-humanism” of the great poststructuralist thinkers who were his contemporaries--Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, and Michel Foucault--reaffirms humanism and thus rejects poststructuralist theory.
In this provocative assessment of Edward Said’s lifework, William V. Spanos argues that Said’s lifelong anti-imperialist project is actually a fulfillment of the revolutionary possibilities of poststructuralist theory. Spanos examines Said, his legacy, and the various texts he wrote--including Orientalism,Culture and Imperialism, and Humanism and Democratic Criticism--that are now being considered for their lasting political impact.
Pico della Mirandola, one of the most remarkable thinkers of the Renaissance, has become known as a founder of humanism and a supporter of secular rationality. Brian Copenhaver upends this understanding of Pico, unearthing the magic and mysticism in the most famous work attributed to him, The Oration on the Dignity of Man.
What happens when the meaning of life based on a divine revelation no longer makes sense? Does the quest for transcendence end in the pursuit of material success and self-absorption?
Luc Ferry argues that modernity and the emergence of secular humanism in Europe since the eighteenth century have not killed the search for meaning and the sacred, or even the idea of God, but rather have transformed both through a dual process: the humanization of the divine and the divinization of the human. Ferry sees evidence for the first of these in the Catholic Church's attempts to counter the growing rejection of dogmatism and to translate the religious tradition into contemporary language. The second he traces to the birth of modern love and humanitarianism, both of which demand a concern for others and even self-sacrifice in defense of values that transcend life itself. Ferry concludes with a powerful statement in favor of what he calls "transcendental humanism"—a concept that for the first time in human history gives us access to a genuine spirituality rooted in human beings instead of the divine.
“Seymon Lyudvigovich Frank, the author of the volume here made available for the first time in English translation, was one of the leading Russian philosophers of this century; some authorities consider him the most outstanding Russian philosopher of any age….
”Man’s Soul is a book which perfectly exemplifies the generous conception of the mission and competence of philosophy characteristic of Frank and the other members of the Russian metaphysical movement. Frank’s stated aim in the treatise is to reclaim for philosophy a field of investigation which, from the time of Plato and Aristotle to that of the Russian Idealists, philosophers had viewed as properly theirs, but which, since the mid-nineteenth century, they had allowed to fall into almost complete neglect: the study of the nature of the human soul (or psyche)….
“The moral message of Man’s Soul is well summed up by its epigraph, quoted from St. Augustine: ‘Let man first of all return to his own self, so that once he has, as it were, stepped therein, he may rise from thence and be elevated to God.’”
—from the foreword by Philip J. Swoboda
This special issue of differences continues to question the vestiges of humanism. Articles include a study on Kant's "Third Critique"; explorations of the rise of "computationalism" and "the digital" and their effects on humanism; an examination of the myth of equality in early American history; and an illustration of "mourning theory" through an analysis of The Great Gatsby.
My Secret Book
Francesco Petrarca Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PQ4496.E29S33 2016 | Dewey Decimal 853.1
Petrarch was the leading spirit in the Renaissance movement to revive literary Latin, the language of the Roman Empire, and Greco-Roman culture in general. My Secret Book reveals a remarkable self-awareness as he probes and evaluates the springs of his own morally dubious addictions to fame and love.
"In this concluding volume of his impressive study of the history of Western thought about the nature of love, Irving Singer reviews the principal efforts that have been made by 20th-Century thinkers to analyze the phenomenon of love. . . . [T]he bulk of the book is taken up with critical accounts of the modern thinkers who have systematically called into question the possibility itself of love as a union of distinct human selves. For the most part, these critiques are effectively executed, and they bring a high level of critical acumen to bear on skeptical theses about love that are now too often accepted as truisms."—Frederick A. Olafson, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Irving Singer . . . has developed a method of historical analysis flexible enough to deal with all kinds of love, from Greek homosexual love in Plato, to the philia and agape of the New Testament, to the courtly love of medieval romance, to the Romantics, for whom love was magic. . . . [This] final volume brings us to the present. In 'The Modern World,' Singer offers readings of Freud, Proust, and Sartre, among others. He shows how their work was formed in reaction to the 19th-century ideal of 'merging' of the identities of lover and beloved. More often than not, the great modern writers portray love as impossible, as a field of failure and regret. . . . This masterpiece of critical thinking is a timely, eloquent, and scrupulous account of what, after all, still makes the world go round."—Thomas D'Evelyn, Christian Science Monitor
"This is the third of a three-volume history of the philosophy of love. It begins with Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, and Nietzsche in the nineteenth century and treats Freud, Proust, Bergson, D. H. Lawrence, G. B. Shaw, Santayana, Sartre, and others in the twentieth. Although the author's approach is primarily historical, he intersperses critical remarks throughout. Most of the major themes which are discussed by philosophers of love make their way into this history, including friendship, sexual love, and the distinction between love that is based on the value of the beloved and love that bestows value on the beloved. Singer devotes a number of pages to his own views on falling in love, being in love, and staying in love. . . . Singer's exposition is lucid and organized; his criticisms are insightful."—Ethics
"In this third volume of historical overview of the development of the Western conception of love, Singer uses writers, philosophers, and psychologists to provide the reader with an overview of love in the late 19th and 20th century. . . . Analyzing authors such as Tolstoy, Proust, D. H. Lawrence, and Shaw and philosophers such as Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Santayana, as well as Freud, Singer . . . links each contributor's thoughts to the influence of previous writers and also provides some psycho-historical insight into their personal lives that might have been either a source or direct result of their views. In this final volume, Singer proceeds to look at not just the 'great men' influence but also provides a chapter overviewing scientific contributions to our understanding of love. . . . Singer's work is a significant contribution to understanding the social construction of important, abstract social and personal values. By tracing love through different historical periods through a variety of voices, Singer has created a rich history of the struggle between the ideal and the real, between the dreams of what love should provide and the reality of what relationships have been in each historical period. By personalizing the voice through psychohistorical analysis, Singer also provides insight into the shaping of ideas through the intimate struggles of the shapers."—Mark V. Chaffee, Contemporary Psychology
A bold philosophical investigation into technology and the limits of the human
A daring, original work of philosophical speculation, Neurotechnology and the End of Finitude mounts a sustained investigation into the possibility that human beings may technologically overcome the transcendental limits of possible experience and envisages what such a transition would look like. Focusing on emergent neurotechnologies, which establish a direct channel of communication between brain and machine, Michael Haworth argues that such technologies intervene at the border between interiority and exteriority, offering the promise of immediacy and the possibility of the mind directly affecting the outside world or even other minds.
Through detailed, targeted readings of Kant, Freud, Heidegger, Croce, Jung, and Derrida, Haworth explores the effect of this transformation on human creativity and our relationships with others. He pursues these questions across four distinct but interrelated spheres: the act of artistic creation and the potential for a technologically enabled coincidence of idea and object; the possibility of humanity achieving the infinite creativity that Kant attributed only to God; the relationship between the psyche and the external world in Freudian psychoanalysis and Jungian analytical psychology; and the viability and impact of techno-telepathic communication.
Addressing readers interested in contemporary continental philosophy and philosophy of technology, media and communications, and science and technology studies, Neurotechnology and the End of Finitude critically envisions a plausible posthuman future.
Twentieth-century ideologies, from liberalism to fascism, are rooted in humanism—the faith in the sovereignty of human reason and potential that grew out of Renaissance thought and discovery. This special issue asks if it is true that all vestiges of humanism have been dismantled, or whether humanism has taken on new forms. Have new versions of historical analysis and cultural studies reanimated humanist themes? What is posthumanism? These essays examine relationships among structuralism, poststructuralism, and the subject; explore the challenge of anticolonialist critique to the coherence of antihumanism; reconsider the canon of antihumanists such as Heidegger and Foucault, and broach the intractable problems posed by efforts to comprehend the Holocaust, the camps, and ethnic cleansing.
Contributors. Athena Athanasiou, Etienne Balibar, Mara de Gennaro, Carolyn J. Dean, Brady Thomas Heiner, Lynne Joyrich, Jacques Lezra
A natural heir of the Renaissance and once tightly conjoined to its study, continental philosophy broke from Renaissance studies around the time of World War II. In The Other Renaissance, Rocco Rubini achieves what many have attempted to do since: bring them back together. Telling the story of modern Italian philosophy through the lens of Renaissance scholarship, he recovers a strand of philosophic history that sought to reactivate the humanist ideals of the Renaissance, even as philosophy elsewhere progressed toward decidedly antihumanist sentiments.
Bookended by Giambattista Vico and Antonio Gramsci, this strand of Renaissance-influenced philosophy rose in reaction to the major revolutions of the time in Italy, such as national unity, fascism, and democracy. Exploring the ways its thinkers critically assimilated the thought of their northern counterparts, Rubini uncovers new possibilities in our intellectual history: that antihumanism could have been forestalled, and that our postmodern condition could have been entirely different. In doing so, he offers an important new way of thinking about the origins of modernity, one that renews a trust in human dignity and the Western legacy as a whole.
From antiquity to the Enlightenment, Persian culture has been integral to European history. Interest in all things Persian shaped not just Western views but the self-image of Iranians to the present day. Hamid Dabashi maps the changing geography of these connections, showing that traffic in ideas about Persia did not travel on a one-way street.
"[An] important essay by a philosopher who more convincingly than any other I can think of demonstrates the continuing significance of his vocation in the life of our culture."—Karsten Harries, The New York Times Book Review
With The Presence of Myth, Kolakowski demonstrates that no matter how hard man strives for purely rational thought, there has always been-and always will be-a reservoir of mythical images that lend "being" and "consciousness" a specifically human meaning.
"Kolakowski undertakes a philosophy of culture which extends to all realms of human intercourse—intellectual, artistic, scientific, and emotional. . . . [His] book has real significance for today, and may well become a classic in the philosophy of culture."—Anglican Theological Review
These papers treat those issues involved in formulating a logic of propositional attitudes and consider the relevance of the attitudes to the continuing study of both the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. C. Anthony Anderson is professor of philosophy and Joseph Owens is assistant professor of philosophy, both at the University of Minnesota.
Despite our admiration for Renaissance achievement in the arts and sciences, in literature and classical learning, the rich and diversified philosophical thought of the period remains largely unknown. This volume illuminates three major currents of thought dominant in the earlier Italian Renaissance: classical humanism (Petrarch and Valla), Platonism (Ficino and Pico), and Aristotelianism (Pomponazzi). A short and elegant work of the Spaniard Vives is included to exhibit the diffusion of the ideas of humanism and Platonism outside Italy. Now made easily accessible, these texts recover for the English reader a significant facet of Renaissance learning.
Although Francesco Petrarca's position as the "father" of Italian Renaissance humanism has long been acknowledged, the specific meanings of his works and his legacy remain matters of controversy. Basic questions about the tension between his devotion to secular pursuits and his respect for religious withdrawal, about the authenticity of his ostensibly autobiographical writings, and about his relationship to scholasticism still provoke sustained debate. Rereading the Renaissance, a study of Petrarch's uses of Augustine, uses methods drawn from history and literary criticism to establish a framework for exploring Petrarch's humanism by approaching it through it central practices of reading and writing.
Carol Quillen argues that the essential role of Augustine's words and authority in the expression of Petrarch's humanism is best grasped through a study of the complex textual practices exemplified in the writings of both men. Petrarch's reliance on Augustine is most evident in his ways of reading and in his strategies of argument. Secondly, she maintains that Petrarch's appropriation of Augustine's words is only intelligible in light of his struggle to legitimate his cultural ideals in the face of compelling opposition. Finally, Quillen shows how Petrarch's uses of Augustine can simultaneously uphold his humanist ideals and challenge the legitimacy of the assumptions on which those ideals were founded.
Interdisciplinary in scope and method, this volume speaks to important debates that span the humanities. Scholars of literary and historical studies, as well as those in the fields of classical studies, patristics, and comparative literature, will find in Rereading the Renaissance a solid contribution to their interests.
Carol Everhart Quillen is Associate Professor of History, Rice University.
Return to Reason
Stephen Edelston Toulmin Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress BC177.T596 2001 | Dewey Decimal 128.33
Stephen Toulmin argues that the potential for reason to improve our lives has been hampered by a serious imbalance in our pursuit of knowledge. The centuries-old dominance of rationality has diminished the value of reasonableness. Toulmin issues a powerful call to redress the balance between rationality and reasonableness.
Originally published in English in 1980, Rhetoric as Philosophy has been out of print for some time. The reviews of that English edition attest to the importance of Ernesto Grassi’s work.
By going back to the Italian humanist tradition and aspects of earlier Greek and Latin thought, Ernesto Grassi develops a conception of rhetoric as the basis of philosophy. Grassi explores the sense in which the first principles of rational thought come from the metaphorical power of the word. He finds the basis for his conception in the last great thinker of the Italian humanist tradition, Giambattista Vico (1668–1744). He concentrates on Vico’s understanding of imagination and the sense of human ingenuity contained in metaphor. For Grassi, rhetorical activity is the essence and inner life of thought when connected to the metaphorical power of the word.
Self-deception is one of the topics that lends itself best to the task of exploring the possibilities of cross-fertilization between 'continental philosophy' and 'analytic philosophy'. Fifty years ago, in Being and Nothingness, Sartre defined the core notion of 'Bad Faith' as lying to oneself. On the other side of the Atlantic, self-deception has become one of the most exciting puzzles in the philosophy of mind, and a number of paradoxes encountered by the theory of rational choice involve that very same notion. One of the objectives is to show that bridges can be thrown over the gap between the two traditions, but also that both of them make self-deception too intrapsychic and suffer from a serious individualistic bias. The conference was intended to explore the intersubjective and social dimensions of self-deception.
Memoir typically places selfhood at the center. Interestingly, the genre's recent surge in popularity coincides with breakthroughs in scholarship focused on selfhood in a new way: as an always renewing, always emerging entity. Suzanne Bost draws on feminist and posthumanist ideas to explore how three contemporary memoirists decenter the self. Latinx writers John Rechy, Aurora Levins Morales, and Gloria E. Anzaldúa work in places where personal history intertwines with communities, environments, animals, plants, and spirits. This dedication to interconnectedness resonates with ideas in posthumanist theory while calling on indigenous worldviews. As Bost argues, our view of life itself expands if we look at how such frameworks interact with queer theory, disability studies, ecological thinking, and other fields. These webs of relation in turn mediate experience, agency, and lift itself.A transformative application of posthumanist ideas to Latinx, feminist, and literary studies, Shared Selves shows how memoir can encourage readers to think more broadly and deeply about what counts as human life.
A Sudden Terror
Anthony F. D'Elia Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress BX1309.D45 2009 | Dewey Decimal 945.63205092
D'Elia offers a compelling, surprising story that reveals a Renaissance world that witnessed the rebirth of interest in the classics, a thriving homoerotic culture, the clash of Christian and pagan values, the contest between republicanism and a papal monarchy, and tensions separating Christian Europeans and Muslim Turks.
Transhumanism posits that humanity is on the verge of rapid evolutionary change as a result of emerging technologies and increased global consciousness. However, this insight is dismissed as a naive and controversial reframing of posthumanist thought, having also been vilified as “the most dangerous idea in the world” by Francis Fukuyama. In this book, Andrew Pilsch counters these critiques, arguing instead that transhumanism’s utopian rhetoric actively imagines radical new futures for the species and its habitat.
Pilsch situates contemporary transhumanism within the longer history of a rhetorical mode he calls “evolutionary futurism” that unifies diverse texts, philosophies, and theories of science and technology that anticipate a radical explosion in humanity’s cognitive, physical, and cultural potentialities. By conceptualizing transhumanism as a rhetoric, as opposed to an obscure group of fringe figures, he explores the intersection of three major paradigms shaping contemporary Western intellectual life: cybernetics, evolutionary biology, and spiritualism. In analyzing this collision, his work traces the belief in a digital, evolutionary, and collective future through a broad range of texts written by theologians and mystics, biologists and computer scientists, political philosophers and economic thinkers, conceptual artists and Golden Age science fiction writers. Unearthing the long history of evolutionary futurism, Pilsch concludes, allows us to more clearly see the novel contributions that transhumanism offers for escaping our current geopolitical bind by inspiring radical utopian thought.
How far apart are humans from animals—even the “vampire squid from hell”? Playing the scientist/philosopher/provocateur, Vilém Flusser uses this question as a springboard to dive into a literal and a philosophical ocean. “The abyss that separates us” from the vampire squid (or vampire octopus, perhaps, since Vampyroteuthis infernalis inhabits its own phylogenetic order somewhere between the two) “is incomparably smaller than that which separates us from extraterrestrial life, as imagined in science fiction and sought by astrobiologists,” Flusser notes at the outset of the expedition.
Part scientific treatise, part spoof, part philosophical discourse, part fable, Vampyroteuthis Infernalis gives its author ample room to ruminate on human—and nonhuman—life. Considering the human condition along with the vampire squid/octopus condition seems appropriate because “we are both products of an absurd coincidence . . . we are poorly programmed beings full of defects,” Flusser writes. Among other things, “we are both banished from much of life’s domain: it into the abyss, we onto the surfaces of the continents. We have both lost our original home, the beach, and we both live in constrained conditions.”
Thinking afresh about the life of an “other”—as different from ourselves as the vampire squid/octopus—complicates the linkages between animality and embodiment. Odd, and strangely compelling, Vampyroteuthis Infernalis offers up a unique posthumanist philosophical understanding of phenomenology and opens the way for a non-philosophy of life.
Following on the arguments adumbrated in his previous works, Piotr Hoffman here argues that the notion of and concern with violence are not limited to political philosophy but in fact form the essential component of philosophy in general. The acute awareness of the ever-present possibility of violence, Hoffman claims, filters into and informs ontology and epistemology in ways that require careful analysis.
In his previous book, Doubt, Time, Violence, Hoffman explored the theme of violence in relation to Descartes' problematic of doubt and Heidegger's work on temporality. The pivotal notion deriving from that investigation is the notion of the other as the ultimate limit of one's powers. In effect, Hoffman argues, our practical mastery of the natural environment still leaves intact the limitation of human agents by each other. In a violent environment, the other emerges as an insurmountable obstacle to one's aims and purposes or as an inescapable danger which one is powerless to hold at bay. The other is thus the focus of an ultimate resistance to one's powers.
The special status of the other, as Hoffman articulates it, is at the root of several key notions around which modern philosophy has built its problematic. Arguing here that when the theme of violence is taken into account many conceptual tensions and puzzles receive satisfying solutions, Hoffman traces the theme through the issue of things versus properties; through Kant's treatment of causality, necessity, and freedom in the Critique of Pure Reason; and through the early parts of Hegel's Logic. The result is a complete reorientation and reinterpretation of these important texts.
Violence in Modern Philosophy offers patient and careful textual clarification in light of Hoffman's central thesis regarding the other as ultimate limit. With a high level of originality, he shows that the theme of violence is the hidden impulse behind much of modern philosophy. Hoffman's unique stress on the constitutive importance of violence also offers a challenge to the dominant "compatibilist" tradition in moral and political theory. Of great interest to all philosophers, this work will also provide fresh insights to anthropologists and all those in the social sciences and humanities who occupy themselves with the general theory of culture.
The American critic William V. Spanos, a pioneer of postmodern theory and co-founder of one of its principal organs, the journal boundary 2, is, in the words of A William V. Spanos Reader coeditor Daniel T. O’Hara, everything that current post-modern theory is accused of not being: polemical, engaged, prophetic, passionate. Informed by his experience as a prisoner of war in Dresden, Spanos saw dire con-sequences for life in modernist aesthetic experiments, and he thereafter imbued his work with a constructive aspect ever in the name of more life. A William V. Spanos Reader collects Spanos’s most important critical essays, providing both an introduc-tion to his prophetic, visionary work and a provocation to the practice of humanistic criticism.
“Features pugnacious prose, expository skillfulness, transgressive wisdom, and mental verve.”
—The Weekly Standard
“A passionate, imaginative, richly detailed interpretation of the spiritual history of the modern West.”
Australian sociologist John Carroll turns received wisdom on its head in this brilliant, provocative, and sweeping book. Humanism is commonly credited with building Western civilization as we know it—bringing about democracy, universal rights, and prosperity. But Carroll argues that “the great five-hundred year Humanist experiment to found an entirely secular culture on earth” has been an abject failure.