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Acquaintance, Knowledge, and Logic
New Essays on Bertrand Russell's "The Problems of Philosophy"
Edited and with an Introduction by Donovan Wishon and Bernard Linsky
CSLI, 2015
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.

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The Activity of Being
An Essay on Aristotle’s Ontology
Aryeh Kosman
Harvard University Press, 2013

Understanding “what something is” is a project that has long occupied philosophers. Perhaps no thinker in the Western tradition has had more influence on how we approach this question than Aristotle, whose Metaphysics remains the locus classicus of rigorous examinations into the nature of being. Now, in an elegantly argued new study, Aryeh Kosman reinterprets Aristotle’s ontology and compels us to reexamine some of our most basic assumptions about the great philosopher’s thought.

For Aristotle, to ask “what something is” is to inquire into a specific mode of its being, something ordinarily regarded as its “substance.” But to understand substance, we need the concept of energeia—a Greek term usually translated as “actuality.” In a move of far-reaching consequence, Kosman explains that the correct translation of energeia is not “actuality” but “activity.” We have subtly misunderstood the Metaphysics on this crucial point, says Kosman. Aristotle conceives of substance as a kind of dynamic activity, not some inert quality. Substance is something actively being what it is.

Kosman demonstrates how this insight significantly alters our understanding of a number of important concepts in Aristotelian thought, from accounts of motion, consciousness, and essence to explanations of the nature of animal and divine being. Whether it is approached as an in-depth introduction to Aristotle’s metaphysics or as a highly original reassessment sure to spark debate, there can be no argument that The Activity of Being is a major contribution to our understanding of one of philosophy’s most important thinkers.


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After Parmenides
Idealism, Realism, and Epistemic Constructivism
Tom Rockmore
University of Chicago Press, 2021
Engages with one of the oldest philosophical problems—the relationship between thought and being—and offers a fresh perspective with which to approach the long history of this puzzle.

In After Parmenides, Tom Rockmore takes us all the way back to the beginning of Western philosophy, when Parmenides asserted that thought and being are the same. This idea created a division between what the mind constructs as knowable entities and the idea that there is also a mind-independent real, which we can know or fail to know. Rockmore argues that we need to give up on the idea of knowing the real as it is, and instead focus on the objects of cognition that our mind constructs. Though we cannot know mind-independent objects as they “really” are, we can and do know objects as they appear to us.

After Parmenides charts the continual engagement with these ideas of the real and the knowable throughout philosophical history from Plato and Aristotle to Descartes, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Marx, and others. This ambitious book shows how new connections can be made in the history of philosophy when it is reread through a new lens.

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All or Nothing
Systematicity, Transcendental Arguments, and Skepticism in German Idealism
Paul W. Franks
Harvard University Press, 2005

Interest in German Idealism--not just Kant, but Fichte and Hegel as well--has recently developed within analytic philosophy, which traditionally defined itself in opposition to the Idealist tradition. Yet one obstacle remains especially intractable: the Idealists' longstanding claim that philosophy must be systematic. In this work, the first overview of the German Idealism that is both conceptual and methodological, Paul W. Franks offers a philosophical reconstruction that is true to the movement's own times and resources and, at the same time, deeply relevant to contemporary thought.

At the center of the book are some neglected but critical questions about German Idealism: Why do Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel think that philosophy's main task is the construction of a system? Why do they think that every part of this system must derive from a single, immanent and absolute principle? Why, in short, must it be all or nothing? Through close examination of the major Idealists as well as the overlooked figures who influenced their reading of Kant, Franks explores the common ground and divergences between the philosophical problems that motivated Kant and those that, in turn, motivated the Idealists. The result is a characterization of German Idealism that reveals its sources as well as its pertinence--and its challenge--to contemporary philosophical naturalism.


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Mark C. Taylor
University of Chicago Press, 1987
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.

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American Fiction and the Metaphysics of the Grotesque
Dieter Meindl
University of Missouri Press, 1996

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.


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Analogy after Aquinas
Domenic D'Ettore
Catholic University of America Press, 2018
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).

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On the Theory of History and Politics
Eric Voegelin, Edited & Translated by Gerhart Niemeyer
University of Missouri Press, 1990
Originally published in German in 1966, Anamnesis was first available in English in 1978. The translated version includes Voegelin's "Reason: The Classic Experience," as well as a new first chapter that was written by Voegelin especially for this translation.

Anamnesis pulls together those materials that focus most sharply upon the development of Eric Voegelin's philosophy of consciousness. Voegelin is considered one of the most influential and profound philosophers of our time and has had an enormous impact on contemporary intellectual life.

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Anchors in the Heavens
The Metaphysical Infrastructure of Human Life
Rémi Brague
St. Augustine's Press, 2017
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.

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Animals, Mind, and Matter
The Inside Story
Josephine Donovan
Michigan State University Press, 2022
It’s no secret that animals are considered objects in the fields of law, commerce, and science, characterized as property and commodities. Animals, Mind, and Matter: The Inside Story challenges this ascription and establishes that animals are living subjects, who have minds and opinions of their own and care about what happens to them. Donovan contends that animals’ voices or standpoints should be part of any human decisions concerning their ethical treatment. Elaborating on feminist care theory and critical animal standpoint theory, the author provides compelling evidence for animal subjectivity, exploring in the process the nature of subjectivity and consciousness while drawing from recent developments in quantum and emergence theories that point away from the dominant ontology of Cartesian objectivism. Through these explorations, Donovan proposes that a new narrative is emerging in the arts and sciences—an inside story that re-subjectifies natural life and leaves behind the deadening Midas touch of Cartesian objectivism.

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The Annihilation of Inertia
Dostoevsky and Metaphysics
Liza Knapp
Northwestern University Press, 1996
Winner of 1996 AATSEEL Outstanding Translation Award
This study is an exploration of the dichotomy of faith and science as presented in the writings of the 19th-century Russian novelist Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky.

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Aquinas on the Divine Ideas as Exemplar Causes
Gregory T. Doolan
Catholic University of America Press, 2008
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

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Aristotle's Ontology of Change
Mark Sentesy
Northwestern University Press, 2020
This book investigates what change is, according to Aristotle, and how it affects his conception of being. Mark Sentesy argues that the analysis of change leads Aristotle to develop first-order metaphysical concepts such as matter, potency, actuality, sources of being, epigenesis, and teleology. 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 propose a noncircular definition of change. With his landmark argument that change did, in fact, exist, Aristotle challenged established assumptions about what it is and developed a set of conceptual frameworks that continue to provide insight into the nature of reality. This groundbreaking work on change, however, has long been interpreted through a Platonist view of change as unreal. By offering a comprehensive reexamination of Aristotle’s pivotal arguments, and establishing his positive ontological conception of change, Sentesy makes a significant contribution to scholarship on Aristotle, ancient philosophy, the history and philosophy of science, and metaphysics.

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The Arms of Morpheus
Essays on Swedenborg and Mysticism
Stephen McNeilly
Swedenborg Foundation Publishers, 2007
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.

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Aspects of Psychologism
Tim Crane
Harvard University Press, 2014

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 mind and consciousness into knowledge of the concepts which this language embodies. Psychologism rejects this approach. The philosophy of mind, Crane believes, 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. A central claim of Crane's psychologism is that intentionality--the "aboutness" or "directedness" of the mind--is essential to all mental phenomena. In addition, Crane responds to proponents of materialist doctrines about consciousness and defends the claim that perception can represent the world in a non-conceptual, non-propositional way.

Philosophers must take more seriously the findings of psychology and phenomenology, Crane contends. An investigation of mental phenomena from this broader viewpoint opens up philosophy to a more realistic and plausible account of the mind's nature.


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