Bertrand Russell, the recipient of the 1950 Nobel Prize for Literature, was one of the most distinguished, influential, and prolific philosophers of the twentieth century. Acquaintance, Knowledge, and Logic brings together ten new essays on Russell’s best-known work, The Problems of Philosophy. These essays, by some of the foremost scholars of his life and works, reexamine Russell’s famous distinction between “knowledge by acquaintance” and “knowledge by description,” his developing views about our knowledge of physical reality, and his views about our knowledge of logic, mathematics, and other abstract matters. In addition, this volume includes an editors’ introduction, which summarizes Russell’s influential book, presents new biographical details about how and why Russell wrote it, and highlights its continued significance for contemporary philosophy.
The Activity of Being
Aryeh Kosman Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress B491.O5K67 2013 | Dewey Decimal 111.092
Understanding “what something is” has long occupied philosophers, and no Western thinker has had more influence on the nature of being than Aristotle. Focusing on a reinterpretation of the concept of energeia as “activity,” Aryeh Kosman reexamines Aristotle’s ontology and some of our most basic assumptions about the great philosopher’s thought.
Mark C. Taylor University of Chicago Press, 1987 Library of Congress B105.D5T39 1987 | Dewey Decimal 110
Readers familiar with Mark C. Taylor's previous writing will immediately recognize Altarity as a remarkable synthetic project. This work combines the analytic depth and detail of Taylor's earlier studies of Kierkegaard and Hegel with the philosophical and theological scope of his highly acclaimed Erring.
In Altarity, Taylor develops a genealogy of otherness and difference that is based on the principle of creative juxtaposition. Rather than relying on a historical or chronological survey of crucial moments in modern philosophical thinking, he explores the complex question of difference through the strategies of contrast, resonance, and design. Taylor brings together the work of thinkers as diverse as Hegel, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Lacan, Bataille, Kristeva, Levinas, Blanchot, Derrida, and Kierkegaard to fashion a broad intellectual scheme.
Situated in an interdisciplinary discourse, Altarity signifies a harnessing of continental and American habits of intellectual thought and illustrates the singularity that emerges from such a configuration. As such, the book functions as a mirror of our intellectual moment and offers the academy a rigorous way of acknowledging the limitations of its own interpretive practices.
By synthesizing Kayser's and Bakhtin's views of the grotesque and Heidegger's philosophy of Being, American Fiction and the Metaphysics of the Grotesque seeks to demonstrate that American fiction from Poe to Pynchon has tried to convey the existential dimension: the pre-individual totality or flow of life, which defines itself against the mind and its linguistic capacity. Dieter Meindl shows how the grotesque, through its self-contradictory nature, has been instrumental in expressing this reality-conception, an antirationalist stance in basic agreement with existential thought. The historical validity of this new metaphysics, which grants precedence to Being--the context of cognition--over the cognizant subject, must be upheld in the face of deconstructive animadversions upon any metaphysics of presence. The notion of decentering the subject, Meindl argues, did not originate with deconstruction.
The existential grotesque confirms the protomodernist character of classic American fiction. Meindl traces its course through a number of well-known texts by Melville, James, Gilman, Anderson, Faulkner, and O'Connor, among others. To convey life conceived as motion, these writers had to capture--that is, immobilize--it in their art: an essentially distortive and, therefore, grotesque device. Melville's "Bartleby," dealing with a mort vivant, is the seminal text in this mode of indirectness. As opposed to the existential grotesque, which grants access to a preverbal realm, the linguistic grotesque of postmodern fiction works on the assumption that all reality is referable to language in a textual universe.
American Fiction and the Metaphysics of the Grotesque will significantly alter our understanding of certain traditions in American literature.
Analogy after Aquinas
Domenic D'Ettore Catholic University of America Press, 2018 Library of Congress B765.T54D4658 2019 | Dewey Decimal 169
Since the first decade of the 14th Century, Thomas Aquinas’s disciples have struggled to explain and defend his doctrine of analogy. Analogy after Aquinas: Logical Problems, Thomistic Answers relates a history of prominent Medieval and Renaissance Thomists’ efforts to solve three distinct but interrelated problems arising from their reading both of Aquinas’s own texts on analogy, and from John Duns Scotus’s arguments against analogy and in favor of univocity in Metaphysics and Natural Theology. The first of these three problems concerns Aquinas’s at least apparently disparate statements on whether a name is said by analogy through a single concept or through diverse concepts. The second problem concerns the model of analogy suited for predicating names analogously across the categories of being or about God and creatures. Is “being” said analogously about God and creatures, or substance and accidents, on the model of how “healthy” is said of medicine and an animal, or on the model of how “principle” is said of a point and a line? The third problem comes from outside challenges to Aquinas’s thought, in particular Scotus’ claims that univocal names alone can mediate valid demonstrations, and any demonstration that failed to use its mediating terms univocally would fail by the fallacy of equivocation. Analogy after Aquinas makes a unique contribution to the study of philosophical theology in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas by showing the historical and philosophical connection between these three problems, as well as the variety of solutions proposed by leading representatives of this tradition. Thomists considered in the book include: Hervaeus Natalis (1250-1323), Thomas Sutton (1250-1315), John Capreolus (1380-1444), Dominic of Flanders (1425-1479), Paul Soncinas (d. 1494), Thomas dio vio Cajetan (1469-1534), Francis Silvestri of Ferrara (1474-1528), and Chrysostom Javelli (1470-1538).
Volume 6 of The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin offers the first translation of the full German text of Anamnesis published in 1966. The previous English edition, translated by Gerhart Niemeyer, focused largely on the sections of Anamnesis dealing directly with Voegelin's philosophy of consciousness. It omitted some of the extensive historical studies on which the philosophy of consciousness was based. To properly understand Voegelin's work, however, it is essential to give equal weight to the empirical as well as the philosophical aspects. This complete version of Anamnesis captures the full integrity of his vision. It is at once scientific, in the sense of fidelity to the demands of historiographic scholarship, and philosophical, in exploring the significance of the texts for the meaning of human existence in society and history.
Anamnesis is a pivotal work within Voegelin's intellectual odyssey. Alone among Voegelin's books, it reveals an author looking back and taking stock of his growth rather than customarily forging ahead into new regions and new problems. This critical work is both a recollection of Voegelin's own development, reaching back even to his infant memories, and a demonstration of the anamnetic method as applied to a wide range of historically remembered materials.
Written as more than just a collection of essays, Anamnesis is the volume in which Voegelin works out for himself the reconceptualization of what Order and History, and by definition his central philosophical approach, is going to be. By revisiting his previous work—a departure from Voegelin's usual scholarly habits—he found at last the literary form for the kind of empirical philosophical meditation that had long absorbed his labors.
Parts I and III contain biographical and meditative reflections written by Voegelin in 1943 and 1965, respectively. The first part details the breakthrough by which Voegelin recovered consciousness from the current theories of consciousness. Part III begins as a rethinking of the Aristotelian exegesis of consciousness, and then expands into new areas of awareness that had not come within the knowledge of classic philosophy. Between these two meditative selections are eight studies that demonstrate how the historical phenomena of order gave rise to the type of analysis which culminates in the meditative exploration of consciousness.
Imagine you suddenly find yourself in the control room of a vast technological apparatus, sometime in the future, where you are told that science has satisfied all the needs of all living humans. Furthermore, you learn, the next generation of the species will not be produced in the usual way, but instead by this machine, provided only that somebody push a little red button. The catch: you have to give a reason for pushing it. You hesitate: what do you say?
Our own world is more like this scenario than we at first may be inclined to admit, not least in the fact that, mutatis mutandis, we seem to be struggling to come up with a good answer. The problem, says Rémi Brague, is fundamentally a metaphysical one. Now, mention of ‘metaphysics’ in decent society these days is likely to elicit a smile or an unimpressed shrug. If there is a shelf with that label on it in your typical bookstore you are as likely to find guides to crystals, chakras, or hemp care there as you are treatises by Aristotle, Aquinas, or Kant. And, in spite of the ongoing revival of academic interest in metaphysics, it remains a rather specialist domain, a marginal sub-discipline in departments of philosophy, be they analytical or continental in cast. If you should take it too seriously, you’ll lose your bearings in the real world, and you’ll go adrift in some ethereal sea of dreams.
It is, in a word, irrelevant – right?
Wrong, Brague writes. Sustained reflection on the nature of being, undertaken in the hope that something can indeed be said about it, was for millennia considered to be among the most important of intellectual pursuits, and not without reason. With his characteristic combination of erudition and wit, Brague takes us on a sweeping tour of the discipline’s varying fortunes, from its early Athenian practitioners through its Jewish, Muslim, and Christian heirs, to the chorus of critics who in the last few centuries succeeded in putting an end to its dominance.
But the questions that metaphysics was asking, Brague shows, did not disappear with its demise, and so, whether implicitly or explicitly, metaphysics itself has resisted relegation to the history books. For the nature of being, and especially our relationship to it, has continued to haunt its triumphant critics. One quintessentially metaphysical claim above all, as Brague suggests, seems to have horrified them: the doctrine that all that is, insofar as it is, is good. And yet, in rejecting the “convertibility” of the “transcendentals” of being and goodness, critics of the old metaphysics – Voltaire, Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Carnap, and Levinas among them – in their own ways offered metaphysical counter-claims, even as they turned increasingly anthropological in their interests.
They also raised the stakes. For, whether the denial of the goodness of being can legitimately be attributed some causal responsibility for a world in which our species could rapidly and deliberately ensure its own extinction, this is the world we live in, and that denial does form the basis of the intellectual background from which we tend to begin our speculations. If we need to be able to articulate reasons for our project not to end, then we also need to rethink the rejection that we have come to take for granted.
What Brague offers us here is not a narrative of decline, not a Jeremiad, not a nostalgic lament for the thought-world of a bygone era, but a sympathetic outline of some of the major tensions in the philosophical underpinnings of the modernity that we all inhabit. As such, it forms a part of his ongoing effort take modernity “more seriously than it takes itself”, to expose its hidden foundations, and to push it to its logical conclusions. In so doing, he hopes to help clarify where it is that we are going as a species, and to ensure that wherever it is, there is room for us humans in it.
Gregory T. Doolan provides here the first detailed consideration of the divine ideas as causal principles. He examines Thomas Aquinas's philosophical doctrine of the divine ideas and convincingly argues that it is an essential element of his metaphysics
This book investigates what change is, according to Aristotle, and how it affects his conception of being. Mark Sentesy argues that change leads Aristotle to develop first-order metaphysical concepts such as matter, potency, actuality, sources of being, and the teleology of emerging things. He shows that Aristotle’s distinctive ontological claim—that being is inescapably diverse in kind—is anchored in his argument for the existence of change.
Aristotle may be the only thinker to have given a noncircular definition of change. When he gave this definition, arguing that change is real was a losing proposition. To show that it exists, he had to rework the way philosophers understood reality. His groundbreaking analysis of change has long been interpreted through a Platonist lens, however, in which being is conceived as unchanging. Offering a comprehensive reexamination of the relationship between change and being in Aristotle, Sentesy makes an important contribution to scholarship on Aristotle, ancient philosophy, the history and philosophy of science, and metaphysics.
The Arms of Morpheus:Essays on Swedenborg and Mysticism addresses the relatively untapped subject of the eighteenth-century Swedish philosopher and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg and his place within the mystical tradition. Highlighting the congruencies and disparities of his ideas with those mystics and visionaries who preceded him and those that followed after, the volume opens with a wonderful essay on Swedenborg by the Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz and is followed by essays that offer important comparisons between Swedenborg and Jacob Boehme, Rudolf Steiner, Madame Guyon, the Kabbalah, Ibn ‘Arabi, and Paracelsus.
This volume, the fifth in the Journal of the Swedenborg Society series, contains the following seven essays:
• Czeslaw Milosz, “Swedenborg the Mystic”
• Ariel Hessayon, “Jacob Boehme, Swedenborg and Their Readers”
• Gary Lachman, “Swedenborg, Rudolf Steiner and the Hypnagogic State”
• Richard Lines, “The Feminine Mysticism of Madame Guyon”
• Reuben Bell, “Swedenborg and the Kabbalah”
• James Wilson, “Swedenborg and Paracelsus”
• José Antonio Antón-Pacheco, “Ibn ‘Arabi and Swedenborg”
Also included are a preface by Stephen McNeilly, a chronology of Swedenborg, biographies of the subjects of the essays, and an index.
Aspects of Psychologism
Tim Crane Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress BF41.C73 2014 | Dewey Decimal 150.1
Aspects of Psychologism is a penetrating look into fundamental philosophical questions of consciousness, perception, and the experience we have of our mental lives. Psychologism, in Tim Crane's formulation, presents the mind as a single subject-matter to be investigated not only empirically and conceptually but also phenomenologically: through the systematic examination of consciousness and thought from the subject's point of view.
How should we think about the mind? Analytical philosophy tends to address this question by examining the language we use to talk about our minds, and thus translates our knowledge of consciousness into knowledge of the concepts which this language embodies. Psychologism rejects this approach. The philosophy of mind, Crane contends, has become too narrow in its purely conceptual focus on the logical and linguistic formulas that structure thought. We cannot assume that the categories needed to understand the mind correspond absolutely with such semantic categories. Crane's claim is that intentionality--the "aboutness" or "directedness" of the mind--is essential to all mental phenomena. He criticizes materialist doctrines about consciousness and defends the position that perception can represent the world in a non-conceptual, non-propositional way, opening up philosophy to a more realistic account of the mind's nature.